Free Write Journal #117


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Free Write Journal #117

DEAR DEVOTEES: A MESSAGE FROM SATSVARUPA MAHARAJA.

“I was very disappointed that our July gathering was cancelled. But I earnestly ask my disciples to order Meditations and Poems and Daily Compositions. 

The price is $10 for the former and $12 for the latter. Please be aware that Daily Compositions must be ordered from Amazon.

To order Meditations and Poems, please send your home address and a check for $10 made out to “GNP” to Baladeva Vidyabhusana dasa, PO Box 233, Stuyvesant Falls, NY 12174. John Endler will mail the book to you.

This will bring us close together as guru and disciples. These are new books and I expect a big response from my disciples to make up for the cancelled summer meeting. Please don’t disappoint me—order these books.”

An excerpt from Meditations and Poems:

“The life force of my words is Krishna. Krishna is the life force
of everything. I say ‘my words,’ but I don’t
own them. They pass through me. By
convention we say my house, my head, my
soul. But a pure devotee thinks that whatever
he has actually belongs to Krsna. Hrisikena
hrisikesa
 . . . Krishna is the controller of the
senses, and the senses should be used in His
service. My words should be used in His service.
He gives the power. If you take the power but don’t
serve Him with it, you are a thief. You will be punished.
You will cheat only yourself. I like this thought and feeling
that Krishna is the life force (prana) of my words. Whether
you acknowledge it or not, your source of strength is Krishna.”

An excerpt from Daily Compositions:

“Chestnuts, stories, what’s
true for me now—orthodox
touchstone, Krishna conscious nerve
brushing death and rebirth
but they say there are too many books
for people to read
but I guess that’s all right
because the main thing is process;
going-to-America plans,
staying-in-Ireland plans
having lunch in the here and now
walking to the shed while
touching base with Srimad-Bhagavatam
and prayer and discovering whether it’s all true
and your own dedication
to what the Swami taught . . .”

Free Writes

Traveling During Karttika

I am proofreading the book Karttika Moon, which won’t be published until 2021. The section I’m proofing is when we had left Spain and were traveling to Wicklow, Ireland for a retreat. In Spain at the rural estate New Vraja Mandala, the devotees were downhearted over the demise of their guru, and I tried to preach to help revive their spirits. We were relieved to leave that atmosphere and go on a five-day journey, catching two ferryboats on the way to Ireland. On the first ferryboat, which was an overnight trip, Madhu was anxious because our van was way in the back of the boat. He feared that they would have to offload so many big trucks and many cars, and we would be among the very last to get off. But when we actually arrived in port, Madhu began driving very, very slowly, inching forward on the deck. The deckhands were busy unlocking the chains for the huge trailer-trucks, and they didn’t take notice of our van. Eventually M. inched all the way to the front of the boat without being noticed. He was the second van to disembark from the boat! It was sleight-of-hand driving by Madhu, a real triumph in saving time.

“We had spent about a week in Spain, and now we were planning to spend more time in Ireland for reading and writing. After that, we planned to go to India. During all this time, M. was occupied in the bureaucratic business of trying to get a new Ford Econoline van shipped from America, donated by Samika Rishi. Our present second-hand Renault van was falling apart. As on the road, so in Wicklow, we lit candles every night and observed “Damodarastakam” ‘to increase our devotion.’

Prabhupada’s Nectar of Devotion Classes in Vrndavana

I’ve been hearing the recorded lectures Prabhupada gave in the courtyard of the Radha-Damodara temple in the presence of Rupa Gosvami’s bhajana kutir and samadhi. Prabhupada had Pradyumna read the book, and he would interrupt him to expand and “fluff out” the points in the book. Prabhupada asserted that his disciples were bona fide Vaisnavas; even if they had taken low birth in the family of the sinful, they had been raised to a pure transcendental stage by following the bona fide spiritual master, learning the science of Krsna and chanting Hare Krsna a prescribed number of rounds each day. It was sweet and strong hearing Prabhupada defend his disciples and plead with the residents of Vrndavana to accept his disciples without prejudice. Prabhupada preached as his spiritual master, Bhaktisiddhanta Sarasvati Thakura, taught, that one can come from any social class, including the lowest, and be cleansed by practice of Krsna consciousness under an authentic guru and by chanting Hare Krsna. He quoted from the Hari-bhakti-vilasa, where Sanatana Gosvami states that just as bell metal treated with mercury can produce gold, so a lowborn person’s practice of vaidhi-bhakti elevates him to know the science of Krsna and to become a spiritual master.

***

Rupa Gosvami proposes to mention only basic principles, not details. He mentions the basic principles as follows:

  1. Accepting the shelter of the lotus feet of a bona fide spiritual master,
  2. Becoming initiated by the spiritual master and learning how discharge devotional service from him,
  3. Obeying the orders of the spiritual master with faith and devotion,
  4. Following in the footsteps of great acaryas (teachers) under the direction of the spiritual master,
  5. Inquiring from the spiritual master how to advance in Krsna consciousness.

There are ten basic principles, and the first five are exclusively about the relationship between the disciple and the guru. This shows how important it is to discharge devotional service under the direction of the spiritual master.

In addition to the five principal basic instructions about service to the spiritual master, there are an additional fifty-nine items. Out of these sixty-four items, five items are very important:

  1. worshiping the Deity,
  2. hearing Srimad-Bhagavatam,
  3. associating with devotees,
  4. sankirtana, and
  5. living in Mathura (Vrndavana).

(When in Wicklow, I would travel weekly on Sundays and give a lecture to the devotees on these topics. This was exciting to me, and it gave the devotees ample time to bring up all their questions about how to discharge devotional service.)

Out-loud Reading

We are hearing Chapter Fourteen of the Gita, “The Three Modes of Material Nature.”
The Fourteenth Chapter is the home of some amazing nectar:

“. . . The mode of goodness, being purer than the others, is illuminating, and it frees one from all sinful reaction. Those situated in that mode become conditioned by a sense of happiness and knowledge.” (Bg. 14.6)

“. . . If there is no liberation for those in the mode of goodness, what to speak of those who are entangled in the mode of passion?” (Bg. 14.6, purport)

“. . . The results of this mode [of ignorance] are madness, indolence and sleep, which bind the conditioned soul.” (Bg. 14.8)

In the conditioned soul there’s always competition for dominance between the modes of goodness, passion and ignorance.

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

***

Later we reached the climactic verses of the Eighteenth Chapter. The most conclusive is

“Abandon all varieties of religion and just surrender unto Me. I shall deliver you from all sinful reactions. Do not fear.” (Bg. 18.66) Just prior to this, the Supreme Lord says, “Always think of Me, become My devotee, worship Me and offer your homage unto Me. Thus you will come to me without fail. I promise you this because you are My very dear friend.” (Bg. 18.65) Bhagavan Sri Krsna goes on to say how dear to Him is the preacher of Bhagavad-gita: “For one who explains this supreme secret to the devotees, pure devotional service is guaranteed, and at the end he will come back to Me. There is no servant in this world more dear to Me than he, nor will there ever be one more dear.” (Bg. 18.68-69)

In choosing the next book to read, the Viraha Bhavan board decided (by two votes in a secret ballot) to read Upadesamrta by Srila Rupa Gosvami, which Prabhupada gave to us as The Nectar of Instruction. We should be prepared to vote soon on the next book because The Nectar of Instruction is short and we’ll zip right through it. At the same time, we want to savor it and relish its nectar from beginning to end.

***

The book Srila Prabhupada gave us as Nectar of Instruction was originally written as Upadesamrta by Srila Rupa Gosvami. Prabhupada composed this in a very unusual way. He composed it in 1974 while residing at Sridham Mayapur. I was his secretary at the time. His chosen method of composition was to call me in and speak the purports without a Dictaphone, which I would write down in a notebook. He spoke slowly enough so that I could write it legibly at a quick pace. Ramesvara Prabhu, as head of the BBT, recalls receiving these written pages of the translations and purports in handwritten form from my notebooks. Prabhupada would call me in several times a day and use me as a stenographer. It was very relaxed in Mayapur, and Prabhupada flowed smoothly in his dictation.

In the preface to Nectar of Devotion, Srila Prabhupada writes, “Sri Caitanya Mahaprabhu appeared in the mood of Srimati Radharani, the best of the gopis. Therefore to understand the mission of Lord Caitanya Mahaprabhu and follow in His footsteps, one must very seriously follow in the footsteps of the Six Gosvamis, Srila Rupa, Sri Sanatana, etc. . . . As Sri Caitanya Mahaprabhu left behind Him the eight verses of Sri Siksastakam, Rupa Gosvami gave us the Upadesamrta so that we may become pure Vaisnavas.”

***

We are more than two-thirds finished in our hearing of Nectar of Instruction and just read Verse Seven:

“The holy name, character, pastimes and activities of Krsna are all transcendentally sweet like sugar candy. Although the tongue of one afflicted by the jaundice of avidya (ignorance) cannot taste anything sweet, it is wonderful that simply by carefully chanting these sweet names every day, a natural relish awakens within his tongue, and his disease is gradually destroyed at the root.”

***

The Viraha Bhavan board decided at this point it was time to vote for the next book we will read. Devotees spoke innuendoes and hints as to what they thought was the best book to read, although such pre-election canvassing is not allowed according to our rules. One devotee voted for Caitanya-bhagavata and one for Lalita-madhava. But by two votes, Rupa Gosvami’s anthology of poems Padyavali was the winner. I voted for Padyavali, although I followed the rules and did not canvas for the book before the election. It won by a slim margin, and I am looking forward to the variety of verses by different pure devotees about Radha and Krsna.

***

We are blissfully hearing Rupa Gosvami’s collection of verses Padyavali, which is divided into different sections written by various authors. One section is “The Beginning of Radharani’s Love”:

“Let My husband beat Me! Let My enemies laugh in My face! Let My parents and elderly relatives shame Me before My husband! Let My whole family become polluted, I do not care. My heart will continue to love Balarama’s younger brother, Krsna.” (Author unknown)

“My husband is angry! Let him be angry. My friends rebuke Me? Let them. Let there fall upon Me whatever other catastrophe there may be in this world. I do not care. I simply wish that My eyes may eternally drink the nectar of Krsna’s handsome form. (Sri Puskaraksa)

“O messenger friend, if Krsna would walk on the pathway of My eyes, then My birth will become fruitful. What is the use of this impossible desire? Who is able to perform the pious activities to attain to this?” (Author unknown)

Another section in Padyavali is : “Adolescence Manifested in Childhood”:

“When on His father’s lap Lord Vanamali acts as a small child, although when He is alone with the young gopis, He exchanges amorous smiles.” (Sri Mukunda Bhattacarya)

“Mother Yasoda asked Krsna, ‘How much butter did You take?’ In the presence of all the grownups, child Krsna grasped Danistha’s breast and said, ‘This much!’ (Sri Saranga)

Jayadvaita Maharaja

Maharaja will be going through a big change. He’s been invited for a long visit to the Bhaktivedanta Institute of Higher Studies in Gainesville, Florida, a less-isolated place than Towaco, New Jersey. Akhandadhi Prabhu, the former president of Bhaktivedanta Manor, is giving a scientific seminar on on “the Atma Paradigm” on Zoom, and Maharaja will take part in a critique and discussion after each session. He’ll continue his Bhagavatam classes on the Second Canto three times a week.

Maharaja is also teaching a weekly Zoom seminar he calls “Ista-gosthi.” He’s lecturing on the four sinful activities that a devotee vows to avoid when he gets initiated: meat-eating, intoxication,  gambling and illicit sex. He’s aware that devotees in different temples have lowered the standard in sex for married couples. It is said that in Alachua, for example, some members of the large grhastha community agree on sex within marriage for a certain number of times per month, and then they stick to that as their austerity. He said he won’t condemn people, but he’ll just speak what Prabhupada taught and leave it up to people to do as they decide. Maharaja has an international preaching base, but now because of the pandemic he is preaching in foreign continents like Africa only via Zoom.

Gambling

Jayadvaita Maharaja said he was surprised at how extensive the sin of gambling was. Prabhupada included within gambling frivolous sports, which engage an alarming amount of devotees. He said, ‘This ball, that ball,’ and saw them all as wastes of time and energy. In the name of exercise, many devotees engage in sports like basketball, tennis and golf. So-called devotees spend their time in spectator sports, watching games on TV and becoming engrossed in the competitions and heroes of the various sports. There are unlimited versions of grown men chasing balls—all wastes of valuable time which could be used in spiritual pursuits. More or less, all sporting is sinful. The excuse for engaging in sports for exercise can be countered by taking exercise in a gym, where one can work out while listening to lectures on earphones or other krsna-katha.

Later Books

My early books were straight doctrine, but more recently I’ve been writing in ars poetica, excerpting poems from EJW volumes I wrote twenty years ago. These poems were ahead of their time and have an experimental quality to them. I joked with Jayadvaita Swami and said the earlier books were better, and that my recent books were hard to understand. He teasingly took up this line of thought and said yes, my early books were fine and the later books are “rubbish.” This remark hurt me. I do not think the later books are inferior; I like their freedom and self-expression. Maybe some of my readers prefer the old doctrinal books, but plenty of them like the new books, even the “stream of consciousness” ones. I realize the new books are a daring venture in publishing, but I honestly like them and want to share them and bring my readers to appreciate them.

Here is a poem from my recently published collection, Kaleidoscope:

“I Want You to Be Happy/
Before I Get Caught/
Loving It My Way

1

Before I get caught I
want to think Krsna

“don’t think you’re the center

“don’t try to enjoy, he
said (my brother). Get
out of this suffering.

“How did I feel about
that? I said I
am a little hedged in

“by it. I don’t want the pounding
on my head by your doctrine.

“Kee, kee. The birds
of August. Mechanical
crickets, getting tired.
Smile, Ornette of ‘60s and
all bassists line the bar
to check out this young

“white guy Charlie Haden.
They listen to what
he had to play.

2

“Hare Krsna. Krsna. I will
go to Inis Rath and live it out.
It’s all right I think.

“Let me go to my people
I don’t want no more. I’m from ISKCON and we
feel a little sick sometimes
He came into the house

“I couldn’t be private
he didn’t know my heart

“he entered my space
he entered my space
and took away
the last child
I had.

“Forgive me if this isn’t clear. I want you
to at least understand.

“Krsna didn’t take away my luggage and my right to
be free. Maybe I have
to rush downstairs and save my baby. Don’t
disbelieve me. I
want to be true

“true to what I heard
you couldn’t memorize
verses and commentaries of
acaryas anymore

“you couldn’t do
it you wanted the
best shot at KC

“your own way, meaning
the only way
you are loving it.

“I see, I see
no more will I pick
on you like a bully

“I want you to be happy
in Krsna consciousness and give it to others
(and please your Swami?
Is this possible?)

LIST
  1. I’m taking a thirty-minute body massage under the big hands of Bala. The chiropractor (who we cannot afford anymore) told us that massage was the next-best treatment.
  2. I finished proofreading the book Karttika Moon. I admitted to John that some of the poems were incomprehensible and wild, but that was my writing style. At least I make effort to steer to Krsna.
  3. I am mostly not paying attention to the U.S. presidential race. Officially Joe Biden has won, but Trump is unwilling to admit defeat. The country is divided. We cannot expect any cooperation.

***

(Baladeva fell asleep instead of working on this list. I couldn’t think of a suitable punishment for him for not coming up with a list, but maybe we won’t feed him today. He says, “I feel like a hound dog who’s been chasing a ’coon all night.”)

Dreams

I received a letter from a disciple who asked me about my dreams. He said Indradyumna Swami made a video in which he spoke of interpreting his dreams. He also said that years ago he was serving me in Ireland and found in a dustbin an unpublished manuscript of a book, 100 Dreams, by me. He asked if I would bring it back to life. I used to be very occupied with my dreams and faithfully record them. But with time I came to see them as inconclusive and unimportant. Unless I have a dream where Prabhupada directly communicates to me, I don’t write it down or take it as relevant. As far as interpreting dreams, I follow the process of waking up, replaying the dream in my head and looking for an “Aha moment”—a revelation that comes bearing the essential message of the dream. I still keep a Dictaphone under my pillow in the rare case that I may have a dream of Prabhupada directly communicating with me. But they don’t come often. Other dreams I don’t bother to record.

Prabhupada Meditations, Volume 3

p. 170

“Preparing for a Srimad-Bhagavatam Lecture to Sunday Guests

“I didn’t write the book which your followers distribute by the millions.
And I don’t know Krsna.
Sometimes I envy you.
But I am your son.
I want to place your rendition
of Vyasa’s Bhagavatam in the center of my life—I want to lecture on it
to today’s Sunday guests in Dublin:
the duty of he who is about to die.
A writer in Krsna consciousness serves you and repeats in his own words
what you have told.
A Krsna conscious lecturer
faithfully serves your movement and repeats what you have told us.

“Srila Prabhupada, while reading your First Canto, Chapters 18 and 19, I sensed you writing them in India in the early 1960s—

I have visited your Chippiwada room and your Radha-Damodara room.
You lived the Srimad-Bhagavatam.

You prepared the three volumes so that you could travel West with something
substantial.

Now this handsome First Canto volume is enduring for thousands of years.
I am going to take the time to read;
the filth I have seen
will wash away.
Gradually I will enter.
But I don’t know how much time I have left.”

***

p. 183

“Prabhupada’s Purports Carry Us Through

“Once again, a bout with doubt—
why does Lord Visnu
walk without touching the ground?
I know He can do anything,
but why walk that way?
Silly questions we humans ask
who break our feet on the earth.
You walk as you please
leaning Your hand on Garuda.
You are inclined to Your devotees.
And Srila Prabhupada, our arya-sangama
walked on the earth and sat writing the glories of Visnu.
‘The members of the Aryan family
very quickly catch the essence
of spiritual life. But even though
one does not belong to the Aryan family,
he will become a Vaisnava simply by
hearing the mantra.’ (Bhag. 4.20.26, purport)
I return to the page trying to figure it out?

“‘What exactly are saffron particles
on the Lord’s feet?’
Prabhupada, you are kind to keep
sorry persons like me: ‘History reports that
the Americans and Europeans proved their capability . . .
but now their sons and grandsons
are turning into reprobates.’
All this junk in my past—
I can’t even write a poem of Prabhupada
without turning it into a song of the reprobate.
But I turn to you and you never refuse me.
Let me be glad and simple
like the devotees who follow him—
who know the scent of the saffron particles
on Lord Visnu’s feet, because they hear them
carried by the words of the pure devotee.
All glories to his disciples,
to the process of bhakti,
and to the maha-mantra.
All glories to Srila Prabhupada!”

***

p. 125

Offering Prabhupada Your Love

“I want to give Prabhupada pleasure, as well as receive pleasure from him. Usually we beg from him. We are bankrupt, and he is full of Krsna’s mercy. That is the relationship of father and son. We are always drawing from him.

“However, when happiness comes my way, I want to share it with Prabhupada. For example, now I am writing memories of my youth and the books that I have read, and I am making Krsna conscious commentary. I thought it came out as interesting reading and could draw people toward Krsna consciousness. As I felt a lift from doing this, I wanted to share it with my spiritual master.

“I worried, ‘Is Prabhupada going to like this?’ Then I remembered that Prabhupada appreciates whatever is successful in Krsna consciousness. He likes it if, on our own, we develop something and present it as an offering to him. The spiritual master wants to see the disciple use his intelligence for Krsna. That may involve all kinds of deliberation and development by the disciple. In the end, his hope is that Prabhupada does accept it.

“Sometimes you dream up something; it comes out of your life, and you feel deeply about it. It may even be an anartha that you face; you deal with it and convert it into Krsna consciousness. Srila Prabhupada said that someone once found an old gourd and a metal string, and from these rejected pieces he made a beautiful vina. When we pick up the bits and scraps of our lives and make them into something useful in Krsna consciousness, we feel a lift of happiness. ‘Let me show this to Prabhupada.’

“. . . If we do not offer Krsna our selfhood, then there is the danger of making offerings only in an official way. Our offering may appear impeccable; we may do everything according to the rules, with proper standards of cleanliness, and on time. But what if we somehow avoid giving ourselves? Do we think we are too unworthy to be an offering? If we do not give ourselves wholeheartedly, we will reserve some energy for other things. The energy will be bottled up and lead to frustration, or we will expend the energy for something separate from our service to guru and Krsna. If we want to offer our full selves, we have to be enthusiastic. We should not hold back.

“ . . . We can all try offering whatever we have to Prabhupada. We will always be fools before him, but at least we have offered everything we could.”

***

p. 143

“Thank You for Educating Us in God Consciousness

“When I hear people make mistakes when speaking about God, I try not to be puffed up. Just because I have received the best education does not mean I should look down on others. Students of Harvard University or Oxford University may be better educated, but they spoil their treasure if they look down upon common people. Similarly, I do not want to be a snob in God consciousness, but I appreciate what Srila Prabhupada has taught us.

“I feel humbled sometimes when I see someone else’s faith in god. I also meet people who have much more love for God than I do even though they have not received such a thorough education. I will never stop being grateful to Srila Prabhupada, however, for giving me this education. In that sense I am proud.

“In the modern age, people are proud of their college degrees, but this is also an age of increase in atheistic propaganda. Therefore unless we get a good education in God consciousness, we are liable to be misdirected by education. Godless education is worse than being illiterate. It is like a poisonous snake with a jewel on its head.

“In his evening lectures at 26 Second Avenue in 1966, Swamiji blasted the ignorant, puffed-up New Yorkers. He said, ‘You do not know anything. The whole world does not know anything. No one knows God. You think that the self is the body. You think that this life is for amassing money for sense gratification. This is all ignorance, all illusion.’ Prabhupada said that our love of family and the noble attempts to help people by altruism are both illusion; they will all be destroyed.

“‘ . . . Anyone who studies Prabhupada’s books becomes educated in the most important subject. Whenever a follower of Prabhupada hears a discussion of God consciousness, he spots contradictions or a ‘poor fund of knowledge’ wherever it occurs. Even a young brahmacari can note the flaws in the presentation of learned theologians or clergymen.

“‘ . . . Benefits of a good education in any field is that one easily defeats opposition from prejudiced or ignorant persons.’

“The subject in which we are trained, God consciousness, love of Krsna, is unlimitedly vast. We can never know everything about Krsna. Therefore a PhD in this field honestly says that he does not have deep love for Krsna. He reasons that if he had love for Krsna, how could he live in this world without Him? The accomplished student of Krsna consciousness never considers himself a master of the subject and never becomes puffed up. He acknowledges that even sinful people can receive God consciousness by the direct method of chanting the holy name. Prabhupada has taught us everything: he has given us the syllabus and the practice, and he has stressed humility. This is true education.”

Begging for the Nectar of the Holy Name

p. 250

“In the fourth verse of Manah-siksa, Raghunatha dasa Gosvami speaks more sternly to his mind. He asks his mind to reject ‘frivolous and mundane talk.’ Surely this includes the mental talk that goes on during japa. Just ask the mind, ‘Shhh. Stop. Listen to Hare Krsna.’ Srila Prabhupada says that a real chanter recites the Hare Krsna mantra with respect and veneration; he has full faith that Krsna is absolute and therefore present as His name, His full form, lila, and qualities. Therefore, ‘talking nonsense’ while chanting is offensive.

“(Take heed, my mind, since you and I have pledged to cooperate. At least I have resolved to convert you as best I can, for your own happiness, into a Vaisnava of manasa-seva.)

“What is mundane talk? It covers a whole range from obscenity snarled among gundas to the aesthetic talk of intellectuals in literature. I really have to renounce it if I want to be eligible for pure Krsna consciousness. I have to decide once and for all that mundane poetry and literature—or any non-transcendental, non-Vraja topic—isn’t going to help me. I have to decide that I want Radha-Krsna and that I have no need for other supports or interests. We know, dear mind, how to do this exclusive bhajana, now let’s do it. Let’s try with every round of beads, every time we think, every time we meet.”

***

p. 107

“The cantankerous typewriter has been set up for my use. If it gets too cantankerous, I can always go back to the pen.

“There is no way to get at the truths of Krsna consciousness. They descend from the Lord and the ragatmika devotees as blessings. Visvanatha Cakravarti Thakura has appeared in this world to tell us the intimate pastimes of Radha and Krsna which were not disclosed in Srimad-Bhagavatam, although whatever he said was based on Srimad-Bhagavatam. Visvanatha Cakravarti is both a receiver of mercy and a giver of mercy. Each of us can be like that, at least to a small degree. We have already received the Hare Krsna maha-mantra from His Divine Grace, and we have already received transcendental knowledge from the Bhaktivedanta purports. We are already recipients of mercy; we are now bound to give mercy to others.

“O Lord of the universe, O Soul of the universe, kindly deliver us from the fiery brahmastra of the enemy which is hurtling toward us. Kindly break our tie of affection for our material kinsmen. Let our devotion to You flow like the Ganges in monsoon unto the Bay of Bengal.

“This van is like an asana. I want to write something Krsna conscious, but I don’t want it to be artificial. If I see a tree swaying in the wind, if it does not remind me of a gopi dancing for the pleasure of Krsna, then I should not claim that it does. O Lord of the heart, please teach me. Let me give the teachings of Krsna consciousness to attract this conditioned soul, and please allow me to participate in the sankirtana movement.

“O Lord of the universe who plays the flute in the sarad season and attracts the gopis to join Him, and when the gopis are assembled, tells them, ‘Go home now,’ may that Lord give me a drop of mercy by revealing the nature of the Lord’s holy names. I am chanting, and I think it is the best occupation. But you know that it is also a sleepy desert for me. I beg for water, for the inspiration to chant in the mood of service. I beg to go out from here and preach as one who tells the glories of the hari-nama. This is my request, written in a Renault van on an Italian typewriter keyboard while listening to the rain on the roof. All glories to Prabhupada.”

From Imperfection, Purity Will Come About: Writing Sessions While Reading Bhaktivinode Thakura’s Saranagati

p. 49

“The third set of songs in Saranagati are to Krsna as the maintainer of the devotees. A devotee should have a firm sense that the Lord will take care of him, and therefore he needn’t seek shelter anywhere else: eko bahunam yo vidhadhati kaman. Lord Krsna maintains all creations in the universe Himself, why should we doubt that He would maintain His surrendered servants? A devotee’s realization of this point is always tested in practical ways. He strives to collect funds for the temple so that it not fall into debt. But Krsna maintains and protects.

“I have given up everything and come to Your lotus feet. I am Your eternal servant, and You are my protector and maintainer, O Lord of the universe.”

(Saranagati 3.1.4)

“Don’t be heavy-hearted. Are you sorrowful because you cannot love Radha and Krsna and write directly to Them? That sorrow is all right. We heard of sorrowful gopis, sorrowful Radha shedding tears in Nava-Vrndavana (the replica of Vrndavana in Dvaraka). Such sorrow is the fruit of intense prema.

“What is it that when I feel despondent and think, ‘How can I go on writing? Why? When? I’m so far away in approaching Them. But it seems so slow.’ Inch by inch, I study the scriptures and try to concentrate on Them for as many hours a day as possible. I pray to be overwhelmed. But I keep up the discipline in the meantime, wait and beg for love to descend from visuddha-sattva.

“Please maintain me. I forget what I wrote five minutes ago. I forget what I was doing recently twenty-four hours ago. I am not God. Krsna, please maintain me. I want to be openhearted. Please maintain me. I know You do. You nourish my bhakti. You provide food.”

Churning the Milk Ocean

“Writing Session

“It’s a good meditation to contact Krsna in the books through the barriers of the mind. For example, I’m in Normandy, and I can’t help but come up with war images. Then I think of the war I go through with my mind to read about Krsna in His absolute forms as He presents Himself in Srimad-Bhagavatam and the holy name. I read first for ‘mystical’ reception, to be with Srila Prabhupada and Lord Krsna in the reading encounter. Seek that quality and try to convey it also. I don’t indulge in much criticism or arguments against atheistic attacks on sastra. I just go in and hear and try to lower my own defenses. That doesn’t mean I’m mindless, however.

“Farewell, my friends (as you fly off to India). ‘Repair your sadhana and gain inspiration in Vrndavana,’ I told her. She said, ‘Thank you.’ Wish them well, wish those who wish you well and are so kind.”

***

p. 280

“Letters from a Sannyasi

“The Vedic aphorism tat tvam asi, “you are that too,” is often used by impersonalists to claim that each jiva is exactly one with the Absolute Truth. Prabhupada explains that the real application of tat tvam asi is to address You, dear Lord. Therefore we pray, ‘You are that too. You, Krsna, are the boar incarnation, You are the ideal king, Rama. You are the jiva because the jiva is an eternal part and parcel of You.’ You are Lord Caitanya, and You expand into all the saktis possessed by devotees and demons alike. The material energy is not outside Your domain but is one of Your energies. We have only to understand all this scientifically and with clear intelligence and devotion. Then we will know how to approach You favorably.

Prabhupada Appreciation

“When his business failed and his family remained unsupportive of his preaching, he took the vanaprastha order and began Back to Godhead. But his spiritual master personally appeared to him in a dream and told him to take sannyasa. He was protected from becoming embroiled in Gaudiya Math politics by his spiritual master while he was still present and by Krsna after Bhaktisiddhanta Sarasvati’s departure, and when he finally left for the West, he was a free agent of Krsna. Although he suffered heart attacks aboard the Jaladuta, Krsna came to him in a dream and assured him that everything would be all right. To arrive in the United States with only the equivalent of only eight dollars, and to begin a worldwide institution for the propagation of God consciousness was definitely mercy from the Lord.

“Although the Lord made special arrangements for Prabhupada, it was also Prabhupada’s real devotion that allowed him to mold himself to the Lord’s plans. He was the ideal devotee, malleable in the hands of the Lord and unbreakable by the world of matter.”

Japa Reform Notebook

p. 57

“If you are feeling great happiness in chanting Hare Krsna, that is the good result. Always chant in the service mood. We are not chanting to enjoy sensations, even spiritual sensations. We should chant to serve Krsna. The eighth offense to chanting is to consider it as a pious activity or to use it for some utilitarian purpose. This means the chanting is meant to serve Krsna: ‘O Radha, O Krsna, please engage me in Your service.’ As you chant, pray to become the unalloyed servant in your particular service to Krsna.”

Writing Sessions

My Purpose at Isola di Albarella (continued)

“October 26, 1996

“Karttika begins

We are each responsible for our own life. In ignorance we think only of this body, unaware of how we obtained it from our past actions or how we will soon be forced to take another body. We act sinfully for sense gratification. This is all under the influence of the three modes of nature and so we derive mixed material pleasure and misery. I’m still affected by this to some extent. The Vedas tell me: tamasi ma jyotir gamah: get out of the darkness, come into the light.

“It’s one to one, each one of us and Krsna. Similarly, each one of us and guru. I like the individualist philosophy, the importance of the one even though he lives in a supporting, necessary society. The preacher may speak or write to a group but the response is individual, and he must counsel individually. I’ll be doing that soon when the letters come in. Answer each one.

And write alone, live alone. Solve your problems of life and reach out to others. As I read the Yamadutas’ statement, a resolve builds in me not to act in ways unbefitting my asrama. What does a sannyasi do? He’s single-mindedly serving Krsna. Don’t be influenced by various cultural heroes who are not surrendered to Krsna.

7:07 A.M.

“Listening to Bach, that ‘sin’ again. It’s minus direct Krsna. On the sly I hear with earphones in the head. Source of spiritual headache. Karma, sweet karma, you’ll pay for it later? Oh, I can Krsna-ize it, imagine he played it for God and God is one, and it eases my mind to write what I’m trained to write.

Srila Prabhupada told the reporter…she asked, “Why do you have to live such a Spartan life?” He said, “A doctor gives a patient do’s and don’ts. If you are arranging for happiness but suddenly you die, where is your happiness?” That reminded me of my listening to Bach, etc. The harpsichord isn’t in Vraja. Or it could be?

“Come on, say it. He told her you can’t go against the laws of nature. He looks at you. There are witnesses, sun, fire…

“Brandenburg Concerto

“Just a little, just a little…like that bread last night. Svamin krtartho ‘smi varam na yace.

“Rest and rise and read your master’s book. Spartan life with no ‘worldly’ music. Not beauty, but what comes from Krsna directly. Therese used to say she’ll deny herself the joys of this world and get to heaven. She never enacted her will in this earthly life and so, in the hereafter He will take care of her. That’s why saints deny, restrain the enjoyment of the senses. Besides, without direct remembrance of Krsna they find the world all void even with a cantata, minuet, etc. and even smooth improvising – wow! – that doesn’t faze them, they are waiting for the flute of beloved Krsna in the autumn night.

“Karttika full moon
without distraction of
the senses for enjoying sweet sounds.

“Here are the Karttika vows I wish to take starting today at 9 A.M. for the rest of the Karttika month:

  1. Candles in the evening and singing.
  2. No solid foods after lunch.
  3. Seventeen rounds of japa.
  4. Read Srimad-Bhagavatam every day on your own.
  5. Keep writing.
  6. Don’t listen to nondevotee music.
  7. Keep to the more natural diet.
  8. Don’t read nondevotee books (this doesn’t include Catholic saints).
2:45 P.M.

“Challenge – can you become enthusiastic? In sadhana and strong faith? Can you be alive with enthusiasm for chanting and hearing while remaining in the exclusive shelter of Srila Prabhupada, his books and instructions, and in his International Society for Krsna Consciousness?

“Karttika is another occasion to find out, to press forward. Some ISKCON members do it by walking on Vraja-mandala parikrama. Or at least by living in Vrndavana during Karttika. I do it…I try to do it with my rounds and readings while in the Western solitary setting. Then make it Gaudiya Vaishnava. Read and write, chant in that way and not contaminated by Western thoughts and sense gratification or even by the politics of religious institutionalism. (Yes, ISKCON’s too.)

“I can increase my time in reading, and that will be good. I’ll feel more inclined and drawn toward the topics. Right now, I’m reading, ‘Ajamila Delivered by the Visnudutas’ (Bhag. 6.2). But I can’t expect to enter a devotional trance of cosmic bliss, never for a moment forgetting Krsna. Don’t demand that impossible mission for yourself. But increase reading and writing (I meant to say increase japa, but increase writing is good too) – and I guarantee you won’t be sorry that you did.

“Visnudutas lament the miscarriage of justice as the Yamadutas wanted to punish a sinless man. SP writes of the Hare Krsna movement which should be supported by world governments so that it can bring peace and prosperity, ‘to completely rectify humanity’s sinful condition.’ Madhu remarked that my generation in ISKCON hoped to see that this great influence of ISKCON would take place in our lifetime. He said that he didn’t join with such expectations in 1978. Is that hope gone? M. says it’s not necessary for him. He remarked how in 1966 Brahmananda dasa said, ‘We never expected Krsna consciousness to go beyond the Lower East Side.’ M. says it’s enough for him to live with some pure or aspiring-to-be pure devotees.

“Do I lack faith that ISKCON is worth support by the world’s governments? Do I think, ‘Krsna doesn’t want it spread because the members are too narrow-minded and couldn’t manage the world – they can’t even manage their own movement and satisfy the members?’

“‘One who betrays the confidence of a living entity who takes shelter of him in good faith, whether that living entity be a human being or an animal, is extremely sinful.’ (Bhag. 6.2.6, purport)

“Why write it down? Because I want to remind myself that I’m acting as a spiritual master. Some may have left me for sense gratification or other spiritual leaders. But for those who trust me to represent Srila Prabhupada, I must not fail. Think of that during Karttika, how to be true.

“Visvanatha Cakravarti Thakura describes the glories of the holy name in his comments to the Ajamila chapters. Chanting hari-nama counteracts all sins and more than that. It awakens devotional service. “This is all possible simply by chanting the Lord’s holy name because of the Lord’s omnipotence.” (Bhag. 6.22.11, purport)

“Bicycling past boarded-up houses at this summer resort. Autumn leaves on the road, my bicycle steers through them, crackle, crackle. I ride alone. It’s a blissful twenty minutes. I pray in my way, ‘Lord, I’m listening and waiting for Your direction.’ Return to the house refreshed. Physically good for a young-old man. Now soak your feet in hot (three minutes) and cold water (ten seconds) three times, then . . . verse memorizing.

Yahan krsna, tahan nahi
mayara adhikara
Remember, brush away cobwebs.

“My purpose at Isola di Albarella is to get better, observe Karttika, eat halava tomorrow morning after first offering the plate to His Divine Grace.

“And read more speech of the Visnudutas, and the adbhuta story of Madhavendra Puri . . .”

***

“October 27, 1996

“I’d like to make further progress in this lifetime that is left to me. I can’t complain that I don’t have the facility to do it. ‘Everything is there’ – topmost sastras, purports, holy names, opportunities to serve. Advance, why? So, I don’t have to return to suffer in material life again (as I see it each night in my dreams).

“Also, it would be nice in this life to be a more competent guide for disciples. Don’t fall back, don’t fail them.

“‘One who betrays the confidence of a living entity, who takes shelter of him in good faith…is extremely sinful.’ I have entered into a holy contract with my initiated disciples. This confines me in various ways. They expect me to speak to them the teachings of Srila Prabhupada and to represent him in all ways of my life. They are not taking shelter of me as a person but as a representative of Prabhupada’s movement, ISKCON. If I were to leave ISKCON it would cause a crisis of faith for all of these devotees. I am also not free to explore the areas outside of Krsna consciousness such as literature, psychology, and art, etc., if that is not done strictly within my devotional service.

“I accept these conditions of the contract and they’re also favorable for my spiritual growth. Everyone needs a master. I can’t claim that I don’t need a master – or that the master I have surrendered to, Srila Prabhupada, cannot take me to the topmost Krsna consciousness. So, let me always remain a cela of my spiritual master and perform happily and grow fully within the contract.

“Reading the glories of the holy names. Even uttered only once and by accident, the holy names remove all sins. I read it and am cheered, but feel also the presence of a doubt. How come krsna-prema hasn’t occurred to me? Don’t doubt it. You know why it hasn’t occurred yet. Be humble and try to chant – better.

“ . . . Even though one does not the know the value of chanting the holy name of the Lord, if one chants knowingly or unknowingly, the chanting will be very effective.” (Bhag. 6.12.19)

“Bhagavat Purana dasa and others on the Krsna-Balarama chanting team sing twenty-four hours a day (eight-hour shifts) in the shelter of Srila Prabhupada’s movement and temple. How glorious are those who chant the holy names.

“I squeeze out sixteen-eighteen rounds in over three hours a day. Hear them and simplify your mind of other inputs. Eliminate extras, tunes and poems and literary thoughts – and hear the Names, recall the teachings of the holy names by sastras and those who have entered hari-nama’s shelter.

2:46 P.M., A Sunday afternoon

“I’m writing this instead of chanting an eighteenth round. Writing this because the day’s headache went down (and hasn’t come up yet). Because I’m a writer. I don’t want to quit. A psychic said I have finished only one third/one half of my work and that made me happy to hear.

“Because writing is another way of glorifying Krsna. Cikirsitam – SP said – meaning, “Do the thing for Krsna,” that’s the remedial use. Milk product like the rabri makes one kind of disease but yogurt cures you.

“So, sing and dance for pleasing Krsna and He will bless you. I do like those Cc. morning lectures. So nice in 26 Second Avenue. Just the sound vibration itself is soothing to my soul. Ah, bliss. Srila Prabhupada.

“So, I’m writing but in general not writing much here. What to say? I’d like to keep at it, but this is a health retreat (now, here come excuses why I’m not writing) – uh, I’m doubtful of the ‘free-write forever’ principle. But I see in my book Pada-yatra (Second Week) that I doubted but kept on walking, had a great durable metaphor in, “The walk is to write.” Yeah, to recover from headaches with pills, and now if I get more time, use it well.

“Madhusudana went to the gate to bring Nanda in. When he comes, he will be carrying a mail pack for me. If it’s the one with my forwarded mail. I’ll have a big excuse why not to write here – I’ll be answering mail. Or if it’s another pack, it will have some books on pain…

“Post-It note to Madhu:
I’m thinking of calling my book for November
Passing Places, Eternal Truths
(November, 1996)

“It may be a little clumsy, but it says what I’ll be writing. The passing places are Italy, France and Spain as well as the places my mind goes through. The eternal truths are the Krsna conscious teachings that we live day by day.”

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