This is the eleventh week of the Journal. I have been putting out twenty pages a week, but last week I stopped at nine-and-a-half pages. I think the reduced amount is more doable for me, and I suspect the readers find it agreeable. I still have to stare at the blank page and think of something to say. (I have started, in a separate notebook, doing writing “practice,” where I write freely and don’t expect it’s worthy for posting on FWJ.)
Krsna is an avatara, appearing once a day in the life of Brahma. He is also avatari, the source of all the avataras. Srimad-Bhagavatam gives a list of the avataras and then states they are all parts or plenary parts, but krsnas tu bhagavan svayam– Krsna is the original Supreme Personality of Godhead. He always stays in His spiritual abode, the topmost planet, Goloka Vrndavana, with His eternal associates, but He descends to the material world in His spiritual body (atma-mayaya). Why does He come? When there is a rise of irreligion and a decrease in religious principles, He descends. To protect the devotees and to annihilate the miscreants, He appears in every millenium. Aside from these reasons, He appears just to please His pure devotees, who are always anxious to take part in the Vrndavana pastimes.
Krsna is in control of everything. He is kind. All living entities have minute free will. With the lower species of animal and plant life, this does not amount to much. They are under the control of the modes of nature. The human species, although small in number, has a better opportunity to reform and free themselves from material nature. If a human being has the good fortune to meet a qualified spiritual master and associate with Vaisnavas, he can become sinless and engage in devotional service.
Haridasa looked back at something he had written in the past in his journal, and he thought, “This is my voice,” and “This is good.” I liked hearing that; it encouraged me. I can keep the Journal shorter, but I don’t have to quit it.
Gopa-kumara was in the confidential company of Narada and Uddhava. Narada said, “Gopa-kumara is the highest of us all. He comes from Govardhana, and he constantly chants the Madana-Gopala mantra.” (He alone is fit to enter and reside in Goloka Vrndavana.)
Bala is in much pain from the incisions he received during surgery. He is taking a strong painkiller every four hours. They say it will take him two months to heal.
The earth is how many miles in circumference? Each shell of the universe (made up of one of the material elements–earth, fire, water, etc.) is ten times thicker than the previous. I am not much interested in these measurements. I am more keen to hear the human-like pastimes of Krsna and His dearmost associates in Vrajabhumi.
I am too sleepy to write clearly. I was thinking of writing about people who wear helmets to avoid concussions–football players, motorcycle drivers, military soldiers. Krsna, in His ksatriya appearance, wears a warrior’s helmet. He is not in need of protection from concussion or other dangers, but He sometimes dresses to play the part.
My mind fantasizes. I think of someone I know and create scenarios of what they are doing. It is foolish, uncontrolled cogitation. I try to stop it. Turn to krsna-katha. That means turning to Radharani also. And to Gaura-Nitai. That will be better than creating mental imaginations about the people you know.
You are not the controller of the universe. You can’t control your own mind. You cannot control your walking like a normal person can. But you can sit in your chair and write a few sentences dedicated to Srila Prabhupada. He is your spiritual master. His Movement, ISKCON, is a huge worldwide institution. You worked hard in it for over twenty years. You were forced off the front lines by health issues. I write a Journal, among friends, and compile books.
They are coming up with the evening offerings for the Deities. And pills with pudding for me. And I get ready for bed. We wake at 2:00 A.M. and start again.
This is writing practice. You fill up a hundred-page notebook in a month. You write “first thoughts.” But some things on my mind are confidential, gossip. You can always give us something from the scriptures; the maha-vakya verse from the Srimad-Bhagavatam, First Canto: krsnas tu bhagavan svayam–All the avataras mentioned are parts or plenary parts, but Krsna is the original Supreme Personality of Godhead, the avatari. Practice writing can go into my Journal. It is unvarnished truth.
At ten minutes to 6:00 A.M. he announces, “I vant to take a shower.” Baladeva helps him, but he mostly does it himself. As a senior citizen, he has his servant dry him, dress him, fix his sikha with a bobby pin, apply tilaka. His is assisted living.
We are all delighted in reading Brhad-Bhagavatamrta. Narada and Uddhava are giving Gopa-kumara descriptions of Goloka Vrndavana. They are encouraging him to go there. Gopa-kumara has been dissatisfied on every other planet, even Dvaraka and Vaikuntha. He chants his mantra and yearns to worship, serve and play with Madana-Gopala.
The weekly newsmagazine is here. I am curious to read the stories from around the world, the troubles, the danger and ignorance. Prabhupada wanted a book written, Why Things Fail Without Krsna. He called me to his room alone at night in Detroit and asked me to write the book. I later wrote him a letter and told him of my progress. I said I was researching the life of Gandhi. I was planning to write how he failed without Krsna. Prabhupada wrote back and instructed me not to mention Gandhi by name. “If you catch a skunk in your hand, you will stink.” Years later, I finally wrote a small book following his directions.
John is nicely, enthusiastically compiling the poems and sending them to Krishna-Kripa for proofreading. Krishna-Kripa has already completed the first volume of POEMS/From EJW. John said when I wrote those poems, I was twenty years ahead of my time. Now we are putting them out by themselves with a preface before the volume of EJW in which they originally appeared. We are convinced that this poetry will be accessible and appreciated by the new generation of devotee-seekers. Krishna-Kripa liked the first volume he proofread, Our Group at Nilacala. It is filled with images of the dhama in India, especially my attraction to the waves in the ocean at Jagannatha Puri. In his preface, John recommends reading my earlier book, A Visit to Jagannatha Puri. There I described how the pandas at Puri did not accept ISKCON members as Vaisnavas. They did not allow us to enter the temple and take darsana of Lord Jagannatha. When Prabhupada came to Puri, as a gesture of protest he refused to enter the temple. The pandas visited Prabhupada in his hotel and offered their respects. He referred them to the song Jagannatha svami nayana-patha- gami bhavatu me: “O Lord of the Universe, kindly be visible unto me.” He said his disciples were following all the brahminical rules and regulations, and they were hankering to see Lord Jagannatha in His temple. He told them that in many of the ISKCON temples around the world he had installed Lord Jagannatha, Baladeva and Subhadra, and they took the Deities out into the streets on three carts in the procession of Ratha-yatra. So the ISKCON devotees were already seeing Lord Jagannatha in their hometown temples, but it was a shame that they were not allowed entry into the original place of worship of Lord Jagannatha in Nilacala.
Caksus sastra. We are hearing a combination of gopi-bhava, gopa-bhava and nanda-and-yasoda-bhava, all centered around Krsna in Brhad-Bhagavatamrta. Gopa-kumara entered Goloka, and when Krsna saw him, He embraced him and, shedding tears, He fell into an unconscious state. All the Vrajavasis came running in anxiety over what was wrong with their beloved Lord. Krsna returned to His normal state and continued embracing His long-lost friend and servant, whom He now addressed by his spiritual name, Sarupa, instead of Gopa-kumara. Krsna takes Sarupa to His home and sits him facing Himself, and they are served a sumptuous lunch prepared by Yasoda and the gopis. Sarupa has attained the perfection of his desires.
You can free write your way to heaven, back to Godhead? Not by the power of your own wild mind. Whoever Krsna chooses to make the object of His mercy, that person goes home, back to Godhead. We can try with determination to improve our sadhana, but Krsna sees into our hearts what is our actual state of bhakti. Do we have any material desires? If we do, we must come back into another material body and try (struggle) to satisfy ourselves. We have to be rid of our material desires and filled with the desire to serve Krsna.
Seeing the good. I told Stavasa I was traveling to the temples and writing of the good I found in each place. He was then the temple president of St. Louis, and he said I would have to use a microscope to find any good there. He teased me and implied that I was a connoisseur sense-gratifier. He said, “What do you want to eat, asparagus tips?” He had a big rip in the sleeve of his shirt. He did not want to ask one of the matajis to render him service and sew his shirt so he left it alone, although it didn’t look good for a temple president.
In Brhad-Bhagavatamrta, Krsna’s pastimes go on with a different twist than the Tenth Canto. Kaliya appears, and the Vrajavasis are devastated when Krsna is caught in his coils. Then Krsna begins dancing on the serpent’s hoods, and He takes the gopis with Him and they have a rasa dance. Aristasura (the bull-demon) and Kesi (the horse) appear together. Krsna doesn’t kill them but ties them up and tames them. He humiliates them, makes them pull carts and give rides to His friend. In Brhad-Bhagavatamrta, in Goloka, we see Krsna in the most far-out pastimes of all. Coming up: the pathos of Akrura taking Krsna out of Vrndavana and bringing Him to Mathura, where Kamsa is planning to kill Him and Balarama.
Yadunandana Swami writes me that New Vraja Mandala in Spain is developing rapidly. They have opened a children’s school, and many families are joining. I think a main reason for the growth is Yadunandana Swami making his base in the yatra. I will encourage him to stay.
Do writing practice and seek to use it in your Journal. I cannot tolerate the noises. Baladeva is now chanting his japa in the other room. I have already done my sixteen rounds, and so “I can do any damned thing I want.” I turn to the writing and say something difficult yet easy.
Giriraja Maharaja wrote me a wonderful letter filled with affectionate memories of the early days in Boston. He had the fortune of hearing Prabhupada give a lecture in our storefront temple. Prabhupada dismantled his impersonal conceptions, which were epitomized by a sign in his dorm room: “I am God.” He shared with me an episode from Boston. We were sitting next to each other honoring prasadam, which was placed on cellophane sheets. Opposite us was the young devotee Saradiya devi dasi. She glanced at him and said to me, “Satsvarupa, since when do we allow hippies to stay with us?” I replied incredulously and firmly, “Glenn is not a hippie, Saradiya.” Giriraja Swami and I loved that episode. He told me of another occasion when he was feeling depressed by his unworthiness. He said Rupa Gosvami wouldn’t want him in the spiritual world. I encouraged him and said Rupa Gosvami appreciated his devotional service and certainly wanted him to join with the pure devotees in the spiritual world. I was touched that Giriraja, who matured and went to India to render intimate service to Prabhupada in Bombay, still remembered his beginning years with me in Boston.
Everything is either Krsna Himself or His energies. He is sac-cid-ananda, full in eternity, knowledge and bliss. His ananda energy is Srimati Radharani, hladini-sakti. She overwhelms Him with Her beauty, cleverness and love. “But that is out of love,” said Srila Prabhupada. Krsna likes being controlled by Radharani. It is not that She is a dictator over Him, but it is a loving process.
Krsna likes it better if you worship His servant more than if you worship Him directly. He even prefers that you worship the servant of His servant. That is what I have heard from authorized sources. Yet I worship Prabhupada murti and Radha-Govinda. I also worship Gauranga, “who is understood to be the maintainer of the universe (Visvambhara) and who has enthused us to do so” (in His form as dancing Nimai and in the painting of Him commissioned by King Prataprarudra when He was staying in the Gambhira). Hare Krsna Hare Krsna Krsna Krsna Hare Hare/ Hare Rama Hare Rama Rama Rama Hare Hare.
Sarupa has a brahmana disciple to whom he revealed all the secrets of Goloka that he knew. Sarupa was now equally at home in Bhauma-Vrndavana on earth or in the spiritual world of Goloka. He experienced them as identical, and thus he witnessed Krsna’s pastimes, which were repeated and ever-fresh.
The passing away
of the Swami was a sad
day and night. I kept
vigil standing at the foot
of his bed. When he finally
disappeared around 7:30 P.M.
many devotees broke down
Krsna-Balarama Mandira. He had been our guru and
all matters. Now we
were without his powerful, directive
vapu presence. In the years
that followed we made
mistakes. We instituted
a zonal guru system,
placed the gurus on vyasasanas
as big as Prabhupada’s and didn’t
allow our Godbrothers to initiate.
A schism formed,
rtvik gurus. Finally a grass-roots
movement met and spoke out.
The zonal guru system should
be stopped, the excessive demonstration
of worship curtailed and more and
more Godbrothers encouraged
to initiate. Prabhupada’s pre-eminent
place should be maintained:
be taken to heart. Things
are improving but the recognition
of equal rights for women has as
yet been ignored.
ISKCON is a chauvinistic men’s Movement.
Demonstrate you are
humble. Remember your
Guru Maharaja. Worship his lotus feet.
You do that by
dedicated to the Master.
John told how he feels
uneligible but he
harbors a desire
to join with Prabhupada and
his devotees in the
ISKCON in the spiritual world.
(He has a dream he was
in the back of the room
and Prabhupada gestured to him
to come forward and
sit beside him and
listen to his lecture. (I encouraged
him to cherish that dream
and to go on yearning to
join the ISKCON in the spiritual world.)
If I depend on Krsna, will I have no fear?
Are you marching in the rear
on your way to Goloka?
Will it take a thousand births
for me to get near enough
to hear His flute-song?
If I put out the message
will Prabhupada be pleased?
Will the demons be appeased
by Prahlada’s prayer for universal peace?
My prayer is feeble but I
mean no harm. When the
firehouse alarm goes off
the trucks will rush to put out the fire.
It will not be a crime,
they will get there on time.
My errant thoughts during japa. I am sorry about that. But I obediently repeat the names and count up the sixteen rounds. I chant silently in my mind so as not to provoke a headache. It may not be as good as out-loud japa, but try to keep attentive to the thirty-two syllables. It is the most important bhajana of the day. I count 432 mantras, which is four rounds, and then go back to zero and start a second set of four rounds. I do it to the sound of Baladeva chanting in the other room. Prabhupada said, “Chant sixteen rounds on the beads and innumerable Names off the beads.”
The 9/11 disaster cost thousands of lives and two skyscrapers, the World Trade Center. It was masterminded by a group of Muslim terrorists who hijacked two U.S. commercial jets and smashed them into the buildings. Not a blade of grass moves without the will of the Supreme Lord. His energies are working, such as the law of karma. Bhisma said it was not useful to even inquire into the meanings of calamitous events like the Battle of Kuruksetra in which millions of soldiers died. It was due to Time, he said, the inconceivable working of the Supreme Personality of Godhead. If we work for good, surrendering to Krsna, that will work against the forces of evil in the worl’d.
You can write your heart. Does it belong to Prabhupada and Krsna? I hope so. I want to follow in the footsteps of the Vrajavasis. They are completely fixed on Krsna. They cannot bear to be apart from Krsna. When He is away they enter vipralambha seva, love in separation. It appears to be a state of intense suffering, but it is actually the highest ecstasy. I do not know viraha-bhava, but I have named our ashram “Viraha Bhavan.” I am trying to light the sacrificial fire with aruni wood, but it is wet and I don’t know the art of making self-starting fire. In the first fire sacrifices with Swamiji in 1966, we used orange crates for fuel, but it was difficult to keep them burning. He tried to light a fire for the wedding of Guru dasa and Yamuna. When the orange crate pieces kept sputtering out, he finally said, “This marriage will have a slow start.” By pouring ghee on the wood, he finally got the fire going.