Radha-Govinda just had a change of dress. A main color is yellow-cream. It has red trim. Radharani’s skirt has two large peacocks.
Thin waist, prominent bosom,
long black braid,
Sri Rupa says, “like a cobra.”
Govinda’s turban is russet in color and expertly made with a peacock feather on top. He holds a long, elaborately-decorated flute, and His lotus feet and shin are exposed. I am four inches away from Them in my chair, and I can’t see the fine details of Their form; but I hang in there and take Their darsana for repeated periods during the day. Krsna dasi photographs Them and posts Their picture on Facebook for many devotees to see.
The six or seven large tulasi plants are all outdoors. They get regularly watered, and they’re doing fine. But our largest tulasi plant, in an “XXL” pot, suffered shock during a heat wave, lost all her leaves and appears to be dead. She was shocked by the heat. We hope she’s not really dead and she may recover. We continue to water her and pray for her revival, our Queen-mother. (Technically we can’t keep watering her because she has no leaves now.) Her return would be a miracle, the mercy of Krsna.
We had our appointment with the neurologist, Dr. Kozer, and he was sharp and definite in making a diagnosis of my condition. By seeing me and touching me, he observed a number of symptoms—expressionless face, stiffness, slowness, tremor, etc., and said these were all classic symptoms of Parkinson’s disease. He was very confident of his diagnosis and a medicine that could control it. He predicted I would get back my walking ability. I’m to take three pills a day and see him again in two months, but he says I should see a change within four to five days. I was very encouraged by Dr. Kozer. He was the first one to make a very precise estimation of my condition, including my very weak legs. I have just begun the treatment, but I’m feeling optimistic. Dr. Kozer said, “You’re 81 years old, so I’m giving you the heavy stuff.”
After one day of taking three pills for Parkinson’s disease, I have an optimistic attitude. Partly it’s due to Dr. Kozer’s confidence and the little pills themselves. He said it would take four or five days before the medicine set in to my system, and then I would feel a change. I feel no adverse side effects. I feel jolly that I’ve been given a precise diagnosis and medicine to treat it from an experienced neurologist. I am eager to log in the progress of taking the pills for five days so I can assess whether there’s a change.
Bala’s back from Trinidad. We are very glad to see him after three and a half months away. He immediately got involved with management of the festival on July 3rd at the Veterans of Foreign Wars pavilion. He went there and paid them and inspected the readiness of their hall. His garden has fallen into disrepair, and he aims to revive it. He is still somewhat weak from his operation, but he was glad to be home and was active. By the end of the first day, he had checked off six items on his “to do” list for the festival.
In August 1974 in Vrndavana, Srila Prabhupada spoke on the qualifications of a guru and a disciple. He said the bona fide spiritual master is very exalted because he is the direct representative of Krsna. Krsna is the worshipable Supreme Personality of Godhead, and the guru is the worshiper Personality of Godhead. The disciple must be very eager to inquire into the Absolute Truth. He should be very submissive to his guru and never doubt him. He should always be ready to carry out the orders of the spiritual master and should regard him as his best friend.
I am hearing a different Vrndavana lecture Prabhupada gave in August 1974. He said a saintly person can understand God and how He is working, but the mudha (or ass) doesn’t know the goal of life or the supreme truth. Like the dumb animal, the ass carries very heavy loads of laundry on his back under the command of the washerman. In exchange for his labors, the ass receives a little morsel of grass from its owner. Grass is growing everywhere, but the mudha thinks the washerman is kindly providing him food to keep fit and work all day. A human being should not be like the mudha and think he’s eating at the mercy of the washerman.
I received an email from a disciple who is visiting Gita Nagari and staying in the cabin I used to live in for years. Kirtan Rasa sent me an illustrated email of his visit there with his youngest son. He wrote, “It feels sacred and safe here.” From the pictures he enclosed, I see the cabin has been completely renovated. The pictures include the heavy foliage on the backwoods path where I used to take walks, which I used to call “Recuperation Way.” When I lived there, I had chronic migraine headaches. I never complained, “Why has Krsna put me in this migraine syndrome?” I took it as some token punishment, a light treatment for grievous sins I committed in the past.
Now the migraines are under control; I don’t get them anymore. But I have a new “assignment.” I am dealing with the annoying Parkinson’s disease syndrome. I’m taking pills prescribed by the neurologist, and he predicts I’ll eventually have the disease under control. Dr. Kozer made a quick diagnosis of the disease, and then he suggested we take our masks off. Since we all have two vaccinations, he said it would be easier to talk unmasked. He talked about his consuming, passionate interest in scientific research and said neurology was just a hobby for him. “I’m a scientist.” The scientists claim there are billions of universes, but Dr. Kozer said, “You can’t speak of billions of universes unless you bring up religion.” Baladeva asked him if he had read any book by Richard Thompson, Ph.D. The doctor said no, but we will try to get a copy of one or two books and present them to him on our next visit. Sadaputa speaks in the language of a scientist just suitable for their mentality. When he declared, “I’m a scientist,” I thought he might start talking about black holes or the “big chunk” theory. But he said this one universe is so fabulously large that we don’t know the beginning, and therefore religion comes into the picture as a viable explanation.
Now Kirtan Rasa responds to my new diagnosis of Parkinson’s disease. He says it takes a long time to develop, and he hopes the medicine helps. I have been taking the pills three times a day for five days, but there is no change yet.
Years ago I sent two of my poetry books to old friends of mine. We were poets together at Brooklyn College. They criticized the poetry. Steve Kowit wrote me that the poems were “fatally parochial.” Murray Mednick objected that I always ended the poem by “wrapping it up in the canon.” I wasn’t much hurt by their critiques; I almost expected them. But now I’m going to read poetry to a large audience of disciples and friends at a festival we’re holding July 3rd. I feel some tension and trembling. I am afraid that the typical conservative ISKCON devotee will not appreciate the poems. I go outside the Krsna conscious canon. This is just the opposite of the response I got from my ex-college buddies. I have gone over the poems I plan to read again and again, and I’ve decided I’m going to read them. I think they are Krsna conscious, even though they are not dogmatic. They always steer to Krsna. I’m going ahead with a feeling of daring, and I’ll tell you how I feel after I do the actual reading.
From the churning of the Milk Ocean, a handsome man appeared. He was Dhanvantari, and he held a chalice of nectar in his hands. The demons at once overpowered him and snatched the nectar for themselves. But by nature the demons are quarrelsome, so they began to fight over which one of them would drink the nectar. Then, miraculously, the Supreme Personality of Godhead appeared in the form of a beautiful woman, Mohini-murti. She is said to be more beautiful than the goddess of fortune because when Krsna takes the form of a woman, He is more beautiful than any other woman. Mohini-murti at once approaches the demons, who are holding the nectar, and She speaks sweet words to them. She calms down the demons’ argumentation and tells them that She would distribute the nectar to both the demons and the demigods. The demons are enchanted by Her and agree to do whatever She says. She takes the nectar into Her possession, and She makes the demons sit in a row; the demigods She sits in a row distant from the demons. Again She speaks sweet words to the demons but actually goes to the demigods and distributes all the nectar to them. The demons were so captivated by Mohini-murti that they remained silent because they did not want to say anything that would disturb Her and Her friendly relationship with them. The nectar was supposed to grant immortality, and the demigods were overjoyed to receive it.
One single demon, Rahu, understood that the demons were being cheated by Mohini-murti. He quickly dressed himself in brahmana dress and mixed with the demigods. Even the Supreme Lord didn’t detect Rahu in his disguise. But the moon and the sun, who were bitter enemies of Rahu, detected him and informed the Supreme Lord. The Lord severed the head of Rahu while he was trying to drink the nectar. The nectar didn’t descend past his throat, so his body died but his head remained immortal. He then retained his enmity toward the gods of the sun and moon. He would come to their auspicious ceremonies and attack them and ruin the proceedings. He would especially come at the time of the full moon and the dark moon and cause an eclipse with the sun at those times. Narayana then disappeared from the scene and went back to Vaikuntha. The demons were very morose that they had been cheated. They became very angry at the demigods for drinking the nectar and not sharing it. Therefore, they prepared themselves for all-out war and attacked the armies of the demigods. The demons approached the demigods with their upraised weapons, but the demigods were enlivened and empowered by having just drunk the ambrosia. Both parties were very angry, and they fought on the beach of the Milk Ocean. In a tremendous conflict, they attacked each other riding on many different carriers, from humans to lions to tigers to rats to asses and deformed creatures. The battle was so fierce that anyone who witnessed it had their hairs stand on end.
The four of us were together after lunch, and we engaged in liming (casual talk). We spoke about the upcoming festival on July 3rd. Madan Gopala is not coming with his sound system, but Bala says he has a good sound system coming from Schenectady ISKCON. It was nice, just the four of us like that. Paramatma’s wife, Nrsimha, and his daughter, Gaura Priya, were invited by the devotees at Schenectady, which is an hour’s drive from Stuyvesant Falls. They plan to stay overnight after the Sunday feast. The Guyanese women are thrilled because the next day they’re going shopping in a big American mall.
“It’s a bad age. Rain’s
going to fall.
What did you see of it?
Want to broadcast your vision, poet?
No, I am only scratching here.
The truth is another thing.
Odes are for Krsna worship.
“It’s late in Kali. Jagadisa
Maharaja is spending the year
at Saranagati to show us
how to live on whatever food
they produce in the mountain
valley, although the men
are new to farming.
“I set an example of a writer
wandering. Plan to travel in
a Kali-yuga Ford to the cities and
campgrounds and hide in the back
of the van, cursing disco music
when I hear it,
hiding in someone’s home
and spying on America.
“Kali needs harinama, needs to
see Prabhupada’s books distributed
(and a few of mine).
Kali needs to die to sin,
needs the mask of education
removed and the real thing established—
songs to Krsna,
English and Sanskrit in
learned God consciousness.
“‘Is ISKCON up to the task?
Give us a few moon-like
devotees, not hordes of
insignificant, faraway stars.
Lord Caitanya‘s moon is rising.
If only they don’t drop the bombs.
Even then . . .
Devotees like the sages
come to cities with Bhagavatams
But seem overrun.
Bhaktisiddhanta Sarasvati said just one pujari
ringing the bell at noon arati
when no one attends the darsana
of Radha and Krsna
has more value than all the
hospitals and welfare workers in the world.
Pray for Kali’s redemption.
“There is no face in Kali-yoga. It’s worse now than even 50 years ago. Young kids take drugs. You can’t speak against homosexuality without seeming old-fashioned. You can’t curb the flow of semen without being thought of as repressed. No one knows or cares for the art of raising semen to the brain except a few old men in India.
“No faith in God. Yes, faith is required to understand higher topics. We have to transfer our faith to God and away from Freud, Marx, Darwin, and company. Prabhupada predicted his audience’s reaction to his preaching: ‘Oh, Swamiji is talking of God? What old-fashioned things.’ People hear of Krsna in Dvaraka and disbelieve. God can’t be a person, or why does He allow wars? God is a light at best, a feeble, yellow drizzle diminished by pollution. This is a bad age.
“The sages of Naimisaranya are anxious to disentangle all fallen souls, and here they are seeking the remedy from Srila Suta Gosvami.’
“Dear readers, I have summarized the verse and purport. Now I want to say more, something unique and personal. I don’t want to fall short. Therefore, I want to try to get beneath the surface and peek at what flows below. God knows, you and I are victims of Kali, but we also know of Lord Caitanya and Krsna consciousness. Maybe we can say something that will help. I mean, by allowing words to just come.”
pp. 89-91, 93
“‘Sir, you have just stated the necessity of getting to the point. So is this personal side of a poor man necessary?’
“He says yes, it’s necessary for him. It’s his personal surrender. He wants to come out of maya with his hands in the air.
“Sometimes it’s necessary to sing and dance. I acknowledge that this may not be necessary for all who read the Bhagavatam. Therefore, this is not a required text for everyone. But it seems necessary for me. Either I do this or I play the jukebox or read non-devotee literature.
“True, Prabhupada says ‘Vedic literature.’ I claim I am within that. Anyway, this is not a matter of debate. This is how I am transferring my thoughts and emotions to Krsna. That’s the whole point, isn’t it? Prabhupada directly told his disciples not to be dull. He said we should write our realizations daily. ‘You are hearing, but you must also write. Be active always.’
“(1) I don’t know where I am in India. Go out and walk until an idea comes.
(2) So many flies on the windowpanes. Reminds me of how in Crime and Punishment, Raskolnikov fastened his attention on a fly on the windowpane when the police were questioning him.
(3) Explain, defend, explain, defend. We are near a dam. The owners of this house are kind to us, but I don’t know why people pass this house all day since it’s so out-of-the-way. Do they come to stare? Did they stare at Naimisaranya? I bet no Western man was there. Prabhupada was kind to include us.
(4) In my book I drew a sketch of a man walking to the left, chanting with his bead bag. A balloon over his head says, ‘I want to know.’
I want to know if I can go on writing like this
I want to go on.
I want it to be good.
“In Srimad-Bhagavatam territory. Behind the man there is a bird sitting on the branch of a tree. His balloon utterance states, ‘He said he wants to know.’
“(5) Fly in my ear. Who is he or she? What jiva got itself caught in a fly body and now dives again and again into my ear and nose while I try to sweat it away?
I said we can’t always stay with the Bhagavatam text, but we can stay in close proximity to it. We are like cows on long ropes. Don’t worry. We don’t have to explain, defend, apologize: ‘Now I’m grazing on the south field, now I am in the east pasture, now I’m on that ridge, now near the stream. I’m eating grass, now alfalfa, now chewing my cud. Don’t beat me.’ We can roam.”
“All blessings upon you, O Suta Gosvami. You know for what purpose the Personality of Godhead appeared in the womb of Devaki as the son of Vasudeva.
“Bhagavatam, bhadram te, satvatam, the Lord, Vasudeva and Devaki, patih, the protector—let all these words ring through us and soothe us. We should embrace them if we can, feel their warmth and assurance, their authority. Live in these sounds as we pronounce them in our rooms. Eyes and electric power at midnight are for this purpose; otherwise, we remain asleep in the dark.
“Bhadram te, blessings to Suta. Blessings to our brain and mind. May Krsna protect us in our devotional service. May the knowledgeable spiritual masters speak to us, and may we have the sense to be anxious to hear the Absolute Truth from them.
“Who am I and who are you and what
are our concerns?
O Satvata, my name is Sats
Derived from Stevie and I can
sing and play harmonium in the
storefront. But only one note. I
pump it again and again, or a chord.
I know the purpose for which
the Lord, the protector of the
satvatas, appeared as the son
of Devaki and Vasudeva.
I know more—my
chill in breast, the mouse stool
on my sole, the striving to please
and to play like a jazz man
after playing the main melody.
I don’t want to displease
The pure devotee or leave his
shelter in the name of ‘I
got a right to sing.’
But it’s inevitable I turned to my list and pursue my
occupation, in light of the Bhagavatam.”
“He wants me to get to know Him however I can. He wants me not to waste time. He wants me to preach in an appealing way and not to be harsh or overbearing. . . .
“‘. . . . One should not talk nonsense. The process of speaking in spiritual circles is to say something upheld by the scriptures. . . . At the same time, such talk should be very pleasurable to the ear. . . . There is a limitless stock of Vedic literature, and one should study this. This is called penance of speech.’ (Bg. 17.15, purport)
“Bhadram te, he wants to play. He wants permission to look at his list. He wants the sages and folks to say, ‘Yes, do it.’
“Other list items:
“(1) Reading Srila Prabhupada’s books, chanting the holy names—I can write on these without end, and especially on how to remain chaste in reading and how to improve. I can also praise the process, tell of good times by candlelight, japa in my room. I can also write about calling out Krsna’s names, the perfection of bhajana and breath.
(2) Breaking into prayer while writing.
(3) Prabhupada murti, his new scarves and my desire to always be with him. My fear that his body may break. My attempt to take close personal care of him; he is not a statue.
(5) Can I become more compassionate?
(6) My father is dead and my mother rejects me—good, I’m free of that and can serve full-time.
(7) Jesus Christ.
(8) Interest in Krsna’s pastimes in Vrndavana.
(9) ISKCON’s controversy over rtvik.
(10) What would I do if I had to stop traveling?
“Bhadram te. We have to die. That we know, whether we keep it in the back or the forefront of our minds. A poet, Paul Celan, wrote that death is always on our minds, even if we write all day of other things, such as, ‘your golden hair, Margreta.’ Death is a ‘gang-boss’ who commands us to dig a grave and to play music and dance.”
“Fourteen days down, seven to go. It would be nice if I could finish strong with additional realization. At least the quality is improving. I still can’t bring together those two seemingly disparate elements—the lila of Krsna and Radha and the service to Them by Their dearmost associates, and those eight minutes or so that I spend chanting a round.
“It is a cold, rainy night. In these last few days I have not been writing much about happenings in the house and the outward form of my life. It doesn’t seem important.
“Tonight I gave a warm-up lecture on Prabhupada in 1966. I told the devotees it was my favorite time. Raindrops spattered on the windowpane as I spoke. I thought, ‘I never want to abuse Prabhupada’s authority. Wherever he is, he is always concerned for his Krsna consciousness movement. Make this chanting reform your contribution. Tell everyone you meet to chant Hare Krsna as you are doing yourself. That way you will be like Prabhupada, a harer nama preacher, and he will be pleased.”
“I call our house Viraha Bhavan because I cultivate the
separation of Radha and Krsna. On a daily basis
Radha misses Krsna when
He enters the forest pasturing the cows.
Then She has to endure long-term
separation when He goes to Mathura and Dvaraka. He
breaks Her heart but is true to
Her in His own way. He never
leaves Vrndavana but remains
in His bhava manifestation.
“These emotions can be tasted only by the pure devotees
immersed in the madhurya-bhava of the Lord. I hear
and appreciate that they are topmost although I have
no access to the inner realm.
My daily song is an offering made in melody to
celebrate viraha and bring
it forth for viewing
“Sri Caitanya Mahaprabhu forgot Himself throughout
the day and night, being merged in an ocean of ecstatic love.
The Lord’s bodily activities like bathing, going
to the temple and taking lunch went on automatically.
One day while Lord Caitanya was looking at
Lord Jagannatha, Jagannatha appeared
to be Krsna, the son of Nanda Maharaja.
Lord Caitanya’s five senses became absorbed in
attraction for the five attributes of Krsna,
and He fell unconscious. One day while
going to the beach, Sri Caitanya Mahaprabhu suddenly
saw a flower garden. He mistook the garden
for Vrndavana and very quickly entered it.
He wandered throughout the garden searching
for Krsna just as the gopis, abandoned
by Krsna in the rasa dance, wandered in
a forest looking for Him. In madness,
they inquired from the trees and flowers
whether they had seen Krsna pass by: ‘Have you seen
Krsna coming this way? Kindly
tell us which way He has gone and save
our lives.’ Searching this way, the gopis
stepped onto the beach on the Yamuna
River and there they saw Krsna beneath
a kadamba tree. When Lord Caitanya saw the
beauty of Krsna, He fell down on the ground
unconscious. At that time the devotees
found Him in the garden. With great
effort they brought the Lord back to
consciousness, and He began speaking
again as one who has just seen Krsna.
These are the confidential pastimes of
Lord Caitanya, and they shouldn’t be
spoken in public. But Krsnadasa Kaviraja
has given them to the world
with confidence that the devotees would relish them
and the nondevotees would not understand.
I honor them and chant on my beads
thinking that I am in a special realm, by
“Sri Radha is so captured by
Sri Krsna’s qualities that it is impossible for Her to
give up the hope of meeting Him., Her condition is
similar to a person who relishes the sweetness of hot
juice so much that he cannot give up chewing it even if
his mouth is
burning. From Caitanya-caritamrta we understand
that Lord Caitanya completely identified with
Radharani and felt
all Her emotions. That was the
confidential reason for His appearance. By
Prabhupada’s mercy I keep
this secret within my heart and
worship Sri Caitanya Mahaprabhu.”
pp. 226, 228
“Misuse of authority is different than a staunch defense of Prabhupada’s teachings, or compassionately correct in someone’s deviation. We should practice what we preach; this will help protect us from the misuse of Prabhupada’s authority. We should be kind to all living entities and not find fault with the Vaisnava songs.
“There are some highly qualified persons who accept only the good qualities of others. Just as a bee is always interested in the honey in the flower and does not consider the thorns and colors, highly qualified persons, who are uncommon, accept only the good qualities of others, not considering their bad qualities, whereas the common man can judge what are good qualities and what are bad qualities. Among the uncommonly good souls, there are still gradations, and the best good soul is one who accepts an insignificant asset of a person and magnifies that good quality.
(Bhagavatam 4.4.13, purport)
“Neither should we be attached if we cannot make others follow Prabhupada’s teachings. Lord Rsabhadeva advises us not to be angry with followers even if they can’t follow. We may inform devotees of what Prabhupada said, but we should not curse them. For example, Prabhupada said, ‘No illicit sex.’ We should therefore preach this but in an objective way, not in an insulting, accusing way.”
“ . . . The cure of self-righteousness is to consider whether we are ourselves following Prabhupada’s instructions one hundred percent with full faith. In a letter dated July 30, 1970, Prabhupada wrote: ‘Life is very short. The Krsna consciousness movement is not meant for fulfilling one’s personal ambition but is a serious movement for the whole world.’ And in another letter, ‘I am fervently appealing to you all not to create fracture in the solid body of the society. Please work conjointly without any personal motivation.’
“Yet another misuse of Prabhupada’s authority is trying to imitate him rather than following in his footsteps. In Sanskrit, there are two separate words for imitation and following: anukara and anusara. We should not imitate the isvaras.
“Then what does following Prabhupada mean? Following means to follow his instructions on how to behave. To do this, we have to know what his instructions are. We have to read his books, and we have to associate with his movement. It is important that we ourselves become good examples of his teachings. This is another sense in which Prabhupada’s authority is being correctly used—when we act as a responsible representatives of his movement.
“Even when the movement deviates, the public generally thinks that Prabhupada was a pure devotee but that his followers have misbehaved. Prabhupada himself had to defend the behavior of his devotees, and he usually did this by saying that although there are many disturbances in the movement, we must continue our ‘forward march.’ Even in Krsna’s time, there were disturbances.”
“I pray my hesitating pen will find the right course.
“But what conviction do I have that today will be any different than yesterday? What hope that I will become that much more advanced? Partly I could tell myself, ‘Have faith in the process itself.’ We all have to have that. Then I could tell myself to apply myself more. Reading sacred texts will have a good effect. As for making huge quantum leaps ahead, why should I expect it to be so easy? Prayer is prayer. When it is sincere, it always seems to bring us back to the beginning stage. We have to admit we are struggling to remember Krsna, that we don’t really love Krsna, and we have to beg for tears of remorse. Our goal is to one day assist Krsna’s intimate associates. We need to practice more and more.
“Pray to serve, and serve, and serve. I heard Srila Prabhupada say with conviction—and experience—in his voice, ‘The preacher is not afraid to go to heaven or hell for Krsna. He will go to hell to preach.’ The devotee-preacher will do whatever Krsna wants; he takes the holy names and distributes them to everyone he meets.
“For me, this preaching spirit should be nondifferent than my internal cultivation. They are both ultimately part of the same state. They are both part of spontaneous love. Neither preaching nor prayer is external. Bhaktivinoda Thakura prays,
“‘My offenses ceasing, taste for the name increasing, when in my heart will Your mercy shine? . . . When kindness to all beings will be appearing, with free heart forget myself comforting, Bhaktivinoda in all humility prays, “Now I will set out to preach Your order sublime.”’ (Saranagati, 9.1.1,8).”
“Rain tinkling. I remember Teresa of Avila saying that a real prayer should have real action. So to sit down on a sled up here in the woods and to think, should result in getting up with some bright idea for service to Krsna, some new appreciation for the devotees, or remembering that you want to pick a topic for a lecture tomorrow. Prayer should result in overcoming the dull feelings, feelings of contamination. In this way, we get new life from prayer and then we know it is good. After prayer we should bound up from our sitting positions and just head off in a new direction for practical service. Since that new direction is supplied by the Lord, we should be thanking Him as we go to execute more service to Him. Don’t think it was your own bright idea.”
“The solution to moral dilemmas is to know what God wants us to do. His will is always righteous and auspicious for everyone. For a Vaisnava, the ultimate morality is to please the Supreme Lord. If the Supreme Lord were to ask us to tell a lie according to worldly morality, the telling of that lie would be the highest moral act.
“In the Mahabharata there is the famous story of a time when Lord Krsna asked Yudhisthira to tell a lie. This was in the midst of the battle of Kuruksetra. Lord Krsna knew that the general of the opposing side, Dronacarya, was very formidable, but he would lose his enthusiasm if he heard that his son had died. So Lord Krsna suggested that Yudhisthira announce aloud, ‘Asvatthama has died.’ Drona’s son, Asvatthama, had not actually died, and so to avoid a complete lie, Lord Krsna suggested that Yudhisthira could add, but in a very low voice, ‘Asvatthama, the elephant, has died.’ King Yudhisthira was also known as Dharmaraja, and he had a reputation as one who had never told a lie. Truth-telling was so important to Yudhisthira that even though he was asked by Lord Krsna to say that Asvatthama had died, Yudhisthira hesitated. After his hesitation he finally agreed, but transcendental scholars have analyzed that Yudhisthira was diminished in his standing as a pure devotee by that hesitation. Some commentators misunderstand and think that Yudhisthira was diminished because he told a lie. Yudhisthira was so pious that his chariot used to ride above the ground, but after this incident his chariot’s wheels rolled on the ground like everyone else’s. The real reason for the coming down of Yudhisthira’s chariot and fame was his hesitation to immediately carry out the will of Krsna, even if it meant telling a lie.
“This story focuses on the point that truthfulness means to satisfy the Supreme Personality of Godhead. The story does not condone whimsical telling of lies and claiming that this is what Krsna wants. Neither should the story be used to blaspheme the Supreme Personality of Godhead and say that He is an immoral man. Krsna’s acts are transcendental and cannot be compared to the activities required of a human being in the world. If one cares to study the activities of the Lord deeply, he will see that there is actually no contradiction or mistake.”
“Since temperments differ, some devotees may be more inclined to the inner dialogue than others. Some may even pray regularly without really noticing it or labeling it as ‘prayer.’ We needn’t advocate that everyone must pray in the way we do. But, although prayer makes no noise, some may become disturbed that anyone their house is taking prayer so seriously.
“The voice of doubt continues, ‘What has this to do with the preaching mission?’ One answer to this is that purity is the force. Any spiritual activity which purifies us and makes us a genuine devotee will make us more fit to preach. Prayer will help us to become more convinced of Krsna’s presence.
“As we become more Krsna conscious, the people we meet will be impressed that we are not speaking hype or trying to cheat them. Prayer will also give us in inner strength to face the opposition to preaching which comes from nondevotees.
“By praying for others, one’s selfish heart broadens and an automatic result is that one wants to give them Krsna consciousness. This attitude of caring for others and then wanting to actually do something for them is expressed in the prayer of Prahlada Maharaja:
“My dear Lord Nrsimhadeva, I see that there are many saintly persons indeed, but they are interested only in their own deliverance. Not caring for the big cities and towns, they go to the Himalayas or the forest to meditate with vows of silence [mauna-vrata]. They are not interested in delivering others. As for me, however, I do not wish to be liberated alone, leaving aside all these poor fools and rascals. I know that without Krsna consciousness, without taking shelter of Your lotus feet, one cannot be happy. Therefore I wish to bring them back to shelter at Your lotus feet.” (Bhag. 7.9.44)
“Although there are spiritual droughts, there are also times of deep personal satisfaction. If one puts some effort into prayer, he may experience life with a new wonder of appreciation, but this in turn might make a devotee think that he is better than others who haven’t received this gift. As with any case of religious pride, one has to make an accurate self-assessment and become humble. Think of the many persons who have gifts that you don’t have, who are more surrendered and empowered by God than you are. As for the practice of prayer, admit that you are only a beginner. As Prabhupada writes, ‘Every disciple must consider himself completely unaware of the science of Krsna and must always be ready to carry out the orders of the spiritual master to become competent in Krma consciousness. A disciple should always remain a fool before his spiritual master.’ (Cc. Adi 7.72, purport).
“Prayer rightly performed doesn’t make one puffed up. It makes one feel tiny before the Supreme, and it opens one to honoring and helping other souls. Lord Caitanya states that we should become devoid of all sense of false prestige and ready to offer all respects to others. In such a state of mind one can chant the holy name of the Lord constantly.
“Humility and prayer should spread to all other activities in the day. Not that we meekly confess wrongs before God and then go out and lord it over everybody else.
“Just because we are deputed to act on Krsna’s behalf doesn’t mean we have a right to look down on others or to try to control them. Pride is a constant danger, and sincere prayer will always help us to avoid it.
“There are many examples of exalted devotees who pray to the Lord to be spared from pride. Aware of his tendency to become puffed up, Lord Brahma submitted to the Supreme Lord: ‘I pray only to engage in Your service in the creation of the material world, and I pray that I not be materially affected by my works, for thus I may be able to give up the false prestige of being the creator.’ (Bhag. 3.9.23).
“When Lord Caitanya favored the leper Vasudeva, and transformed him into a beautiful young man, Vasudeva worried that he would become proud of the grace he had received. ‘To protect the brahmana, Sri Caitanya Mahaprabhu advised him to chant the Hare Krsna mantra incessantly. By doing so, he would never become unnecessarily proud.’ (Cc. Madhya 7.147).”
“O Srila Prabhupada, whom we think of day and night;
“O Prabhupada, who came to America with Srimad-Bhagavatams as his only means, who sold volumes to bookstores in order to pay for groceries, and who thought in the beginning, ‘They will never accept this Hare Krsna mantra, but let me try’;
“O Prabhupada, who happily endured the austerities of New York winters on behalf of Lord Krsna; O master, who years later made thousands of disciples and had many houses to reside in, but who said, ‘I was happier in the beginning in New York because I had no one to depend on but Krsna’;
“O Prabhupada, who favored New York City by opening his first ISKCON center there and by singing in Tompkins Square Park, who beat the one-headed drum hours at a time and sang strongly, who braved all the rudeness and strangeness just to deliver us from birth and death by giving us the holy names of Krsna;
“O Prabhupada, whose preaching was guided by Lord Krsna, whose preaching was ‘to go in like a needle and come out like a plow,’ whose preaching was pure, and who stayed to do it, who fulfilled all the qualities of a saint, being tolerant, merciful, friendly to all, and fixed in the Absolute Truth;
“O Prabhupada, who loved his disciples and nurtured them like a mother cares for her children, and who, like a father, imparted to his sons and daughters the gift of courage to stand and fight; O Prabhupada, please live vibrantly in our thoughts and actions.”
“Dattatreya wrote me this note: ‘You ask for ideas about how to have a dialogue with Gensei. My feeling is that the best way to do this would be for you to visit his monastery in Japan and create literature describing what you see.’
“Yes, I could do it, visit the Buddhist places in order to preach in my journal. I could do it after Mayapur.
“But this raises a larger question: I have to see the value of doing things that enrich my writing. I have to understand that the journal is so important that I can go to places, spend money and time and energy, just to promote that inner life.
Preaching for me may sometimes mean something like this, going to a place that may seem indirectly related to preaching, but is actually a source of dialogue, enrichment for my primary service.
“I have yet to realize my journal writing as being such important direct service. My conviction is growing in that direction, but I am yet hesitant to come out with it. Here again, my own conviction of my service may be in conflict with my worry about what ‘they’ will think. But Dattatreya’s invitation has awakened in me the idea that I should do what is enlivening for the journal, and that may include traveling.
“Now if one of my Godbrothers asks me why am I traveling to such-and-such place, say Italy, or wherever, I would reply, ‘I want to see the preaching there.’ For most preachers, that usually means they want to see how a temple is decorated, how book distribution is being organized, or how the devotees in that country are running a radio station or restaurant. Then a preacher goes back to his own prabhu-datta-desa, inspired by association with devotees, and he implements some plan in his own preaching field. But for me, if I am trying to preach through journal writing, it may be important to decide what travels best promote preaching. Am I still so timid about this that I would want to cover over my real reasons for traveling, since they are too unconventional and not understandable by most?
“For example, if everyone knew that I was going to visit Italy, that would be very acceptable since it is such a thriving place in the Krsna consciousness movement. But the other example, of Japan, would be difficult to explain. (Neither am I convinced yet about that particular visit.) Canakya Pandita says do not go anywhere unless there is a friend, a worshipable Deity, and a holy river. However, Prabhupada went to Moscow, where none of these were present, because of the other, higher reason—to deliver Krsna consciousness to an atheistic land. Could I say that by going to Japan I would preach through my journal? I don’t see it so clearly. But maybe by visiting some new ISKCON places the same principle could be served—stimulation of the senses and mind to see devotional service in a way that can be beneficially transmitted to my readers through the medium of my journal-writing self.
“But does this mean that if I don’t travel I will stagnate and produce less interesting literature? Thoreau stayed in Concord, Massachusetts and had strong things to say about the superficiality of wanderlust. He didn’t think he could find more inner truth or more comprehension of the universe or transcendence if he packed up and went running off.”
“You feel lonely. In the house alone. Look through the book on the emotional problems of children, all about how parents should cope. Talks about football hooligans common in England. Chatty, intelligent. Another book of ‘how to study’ is written in the same way – lots of thought and skill in communicating and capturing the attention of the reader. I think, ‘Then what are books for? Why do I live like this, so much alone? Could I be deceiving myself? I don’t have a wife and children, that’s all right. But should I . . . ’ I don’t even think it out, just feel the loneliness. I look at the FAX machine again and again to see if there is some message that came in while I wasn’t noticing. But I said I wanted to be out of touch. What a farce. You say you want to get below the surface, but you can’t even endure the surface. This is your svadharma; you have chosen this path.
“One line in the parent’s book said, ‘Parenting is not an excuse for vegetating. You are expected to lead a vital life, go out and meet people. You can’t help your kids unless you have outer interests, and so on.’ This has no particular bearing on me.
“All those books he wrote, maybe there wasn’t much in them. The creeping doubt. So, I thought better to express it here rather than do something else. I could also call out in chanting an extra, seventeenth round. Or sit in the garden and mope. Try to read, but you can’t do that well at all. Or hit yourself on the head – that June bug is the most ridiculous concept and you better get out of it soon and come up with something better. This month is fleeting and so is life. You better write the best you can.
“I caught you reading a statement that someone said the Kurma Purana is 7,000 verses, but Bhaktisiddhanta Sarasvati said it’s 18,000 verses. I thought, ‘Good, I like the idea that it’s as big as possible.’ Let all the Puranas be million of verses and – my books are like a set of ‘Puranas,’ a sub-sub-division of Vedic literature. We should have as many timed books as possible. Why 7,000 when you can have 18,000 and more than that? Is it foolish that I consider my books worthwhile? Should I think instead they are all a waste of time and should be thrown in the trash bin? Report yourself to the nearest regional office and say, ‘I need some proper engagement, meeting people and lecturing,’ or it is writing then something straight such as ‘Letters to the Editor’ or a study guide for new bhaktas. I have been really wrong to stay by myself and not listen to critics. Yet old Lord Byron said:
seek roses in December, ice in June;
hope constancy in wind, or corn in chaff;
believe a woman or an epitaph
or any other thing that’s false, before
you trust in critics.’
“Proceed on feelings. I am cutting down. I don’t think we want to write all month under the title June Bug. That lasted a day or so in Wicklow, that’s all. I just woke from an afternoon nap (still jet-lagging – you could title that for the Wicklow experience) and thought, ‘This June Bug business isn’t strong. Cut it.’ But I don’t want to throw out whatever came to me these few days. It has the virtue of a start. One could say it served you to occupy yourself and at least kept your writing muscles in shape. But don’t keep it. However, I could keep it and move on. Look for what is essential in the upcoming two weeks in the Northern Ireland spot. But I cannot think ahead and create a neat structure. Nor can I spend my time there writing an expendable draft. This is the way we go.
“Hare Krsna Hare Krsna, Krsna Krsna. You have to keep listening to yourself. In my diary last October, I advised myself, ‘Think of the book you want to read and then write it . . . but first you have to visualize it.’ I said I don’t find that writers in their published books have written my favorite book. It’s up to me to write it. You know what I mean. I’m not saying I can do better than the scriptures, Bhagavad-gita, and so on. But I mean among ordinary mortals. I want to do something better than the nondevotees. And in my generation, not with a sense of competition that I am the best – but in your private view, as reader and writer, what would you like to see? I’ve been doing something like this for ten years. Now continue it.
“During the two weeks at Geaglum, what kind of book would you like to work on? If you could, would you like the discipline to return to A Poor Man Reads the Bhagavatam? Would you like to write another ‘astonishingly candid’ book such as Litany for the Gone, which someone said was ‘different, deep and controversial’? But I know I can’t ask for that sort of thing. I have to work within the process. You need faith. I think, ‘Use your intelligence,’ and I pray each day. I write following a life of sadhana. But as for what I work on, that comes according to what the muse sends, what providence ordains, and what comes down the pipeline in the process.
“That’s why I can’t just throw away June Bug. I could trash it and say, ‘Yeah, it helped,’ but if it helped, then let it live. Let it be clear to the reader that this silly talk lead to the next thing and the next thing, which may finally produce a book, which you all take as something astonishingly candid and different. Know the roots of the more finished book and give credit to it.
“But you can correct and steer as you go along. You can try to acknowledge that we were going on something which we felt was long-term but has now exhausted itself. And sometimes you have to push yourself to not give up yet – until the resistance builds up so great that it’s time to change. These are some writing experiences.
“Poems are good fare.
Made of air the balloon rises.
She was a girl of separated parents
and her father took for the day and
bought her three helium-filled balloons
which she liked and held
on long strings in the high-ceilinged
hall of the temple.
when you give up this ploy,
Crawl on beetle fours or
to Northern Ireland?
I can’t say for sure.
We are just following this track.
But good poems are good fare.
“I hereby promise
to look at gorse
and appreciate it’s God
who arranges all.
And don’t be depressed by
cow-slaughtering nation but
live transcendental and preach
“As for your proclivity not
to be chummy or even sit
with devotees for
so Bhaktivinoda Thakura wrote
it’s rare to find a pure devotee
and if you don’t, then practice
alone. He said it in
“So, I promised to
not talk intimately with
women or sense enjoyers
or Mayavadis of various kinds.
I wouldn’t quit writing
Bugs or otherwise.
“Please accept my humbles obeisances. All glories to Srila Prabhupada.
“I shall rise now and go to the Isle of Inis Rath. I just had a dream that I entered Srila Prabhupada’s presence. He was very busy, world traveling, staying briefly in a room with many followers with whom to relate. When he saw me enter, he recognized me and said something about, ‘Oh, your veils?’
“In the dream I later felt bitter tears and even anger that Srila Prabhupada had no time for more personal treatment of me, but when I awoke, I reasoned that maybe I wasn’t doing such serious service that deserved more attention. Veils? Is my writing art a play of covering and uncovering, like a dancer or magician with veils?
“I decided to go back to work with A Poor Man Reads the Bhagavatam. At least I plan to do that now. I have some determination to spend my time at Inis Rath in that way, along with time for daily poems.
“So, June Bug will end here, unresolved, moving along, flying, game-playing.
“Dear Bug-self, you were certainly useful and carried me on your wings these days at Wicklow, which could otherwise have been tedious or distressful. I’ve had jet lag and felt I wanted to be alone. I wanted to enter the writer’s life. But I didn’t know what to do. I didn’t want to accept the “methodical” discipline of A Poor Man Reads the Bhagavatam. You appeared, ‘O beetle, who pushed its dung, who flies up from the earth, who annoyers the human growers by eating at the fresh leaves. You appeared and so, I wrote.’
“And so, I stop writing, at least for now, although it’s possible that your adventures may be resumed. When? June is passing quickly.
“See you again. I am sorry, dear reader, if you expected more.
End of June Bug
This volume is comprised of three parts: prose meditations, free-writes, and poems each of which will be discussed in turn. As an introduction, a brief essay by the author, On Genre, has also been included to provide contextual coordinates for the writing which follows…
A comprehensive retrospective of poetic achievement and prose meditations, using a new trajectory described as “free-writing”. This volume will offer to readers an experience of the creativity versatility which is a hallmark of this author’s writing.
Stream of consciousness poetry that moves with the shifting shapes and colors characteristic of a kaleidoscope itself around the themes of authenticity. This is a book will transport you to the far reaches of the author’s heart and soul in daring ways and will move you to experience your own inner kaleidoscope.
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A narrative poem. challenging and profound, about the journey of an itinerant monk who pursues new means of self-expression.The reader is invited to discover his or her own spiritual pilgrimage within these pages as the author pushes every literary boundary to boldly create something wholly new and inspiring.