Free Write Journal #165


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Free Write Journal #165

October 8, 2021

Free Writes

ANNOUNCEMENT

 

What

SDG’s Vyasa-puja

When

Saturday, December 4, 2021

Where

The Veterans of Foreign Wars Hall
845 Hudson Avenue
Stuyvesant Falls, New York 12173

(There is plenty of parking near the Hall. The facility is just a few minutes’ walk from SDG’s home at 909 Albany Ave.)

Schedule

10:00 – 10:30 A.M.  Opening kirtana

10:30 – 11:00 A.M.  SDG Lecture11:00 – 11:45 A.M. Introduction to new books and opportunity to peruse book table and art

11:45 A.M.– 12:30 P.M. Homages (written please, 3 minutes max.)

12:30 – 1:15 P.M. Puspanjali, arati, kirtana

1:15 P.M. Feast

Contact: Baladeva Vidyabhusana bvdsdg@gmail.com (518) 754-1108

◊◊◊◊◊◊◊◊◊◊◊◊◊◊◊◊◊◊

A “Teaser” from the Two New Books Presented on Vyasa-puja Day

One is The Best I Could Do, an intimate journal. The other selection is two small books, reprints of haiku books I did many years ago, newly published: 1) Under the Banyan Tree (my first coming to Prabhupada); 2) The Dust of Vrndavan: written in Vrndavana with the full flavor of the dhama.

Krsna Dasi’s Leaving

Krsna dasi met with me just before she left for the airport to go to Trinidad. She’s going there to seek closure in her grieving for the departure of her husband, Bala. She said just before she met with me she went into the pujari room and had a realization that this was her home. So she doesn’t want me to think she’s running away and will never come back. I was touched to hear her say that. She had a locked box with her valuables in it and left it with me in my room. She will be back from Trinidad on November 21st and stay for the Vyasa-puja day and then go back to Trinidad for the winter. But she’ll be back again and is concerned that the worship of my Radha-Govinda go on at a reduced rate, but cared for by different devotees who will come here on at least a weekly basis to clean Them and change Their clothes. She doesn’t want to think They’ll be neglected or that They can’t be taken care of by someone besides herself.

Deity Worship

I empathize with Krsna dasi’s needing to go to Trinidad to process her grieving. There’s no question of my trying to force her to stay. But it’s also difficult for me to be without Radha-Govinda’s dedicated pujari. We don’t know exactly how we’ll work it out, but we have a few ideas for temporary volunteers. One devotee, Suddha-bhakti, has filled in one time when Krsna dasi was away, and she’s expected to volunteer to come again. We’ll lower our standard from cleaning and changing Their clothes once every three days to once a week. But Krsna dasi herself doesn’t want uncommitted people coming in to her pujari space, where she has all Their jewelry and clothes neatly arranged.

Krishna Kripa is now here for six weeks to do the needful at Viraha Bhavan, including one day a week to clean and dress Radha-Govinda. He was inspired to do it when he saw how Bala from Trinidad sacrificed so much to leave Trinidad and move to New York just to serve me and bring his wife Krsna dasi to serve the Deities. Krishna Kripa’s main service is to do harinama every day, but we’re trying to get him to commit to some part-time service of our Deities and cleaning, doing dishes. We are appealing cautiously to other devotees to come here and spend some time serving Radha-Govinda and maintaining the ashram.

Lord Caitanya at Jagannatha Puri

Lord Caitanya entered the Jagannatha temple by Himself, and when He saw Lord Jagannatha He fell unconscious to the floor. The watchman prepared to beat the Lord, but the head priest, Sarvabhauma Bhattacarya, stopped the watchman and with the help of others, he carried Caitanya Mahaprabhu into a sanctified room in his house. At first Sarvabhauma could find no sign of breathing in the Lord, but when he put a soft cotton swab under His nostril there was some faint movement, and he had some hope. A few minutes later, Lord Caitanya’s confidential associates caught up with the Lord and joined Him at Sarvabhauma Bhattacarya’s house. They were unhappy to see His condition but glad to at least see Him again. They began loudly chanting the holy name of Krsna in His ear, and after a while Caitanya Mahaprabhu gained outer consciousness. Although Sarvabhauma Bhattacarya was an impersonalist, he was impressed with the personal beauty of the Lord and was moved to see His ecstatic transformations of the body.

***

We are now hearing the talks between Lord Caitanya and Ramananda Raya. The Lord asked Ramananda Raya to speak on the perfection of life. Ramananda Raya began by saying “Following the varnasrama system is the perfection of life,” and he quoted some scripture to support it. Lord Caitanya said, “This is external. Please speak of something better.” Ramananda Raya said, “Giving up one’s duties in the varnasrama system and giving everything to Krsna is the perfection.” The Lord replied that this was also external. Ramananda Raya submitted several other answers, but Lord Caitanya said they were external. Finally Ramananda Raya quoted a verse spoken by Lord Brahma to Krsna: “One who remains in his social position but goes on hearing about Krsna reaches the perfection of life.” The Lord conceded that this was all right, but He asked Ramananda if there were something further that he could speak on. From this point on, Raya Ramananda spoke on the basis of spontaneous love of God. He began to speak of spontaneous love of a servant for the master, as a friend to a friend, as a parent to the child, and finally, best of all, serving the Lord in the relationship of conjugal love, madhurya-rasa. (The Lord accepted all this but urged Ramananda Raya to go on speaking further.)

Paypal

Today I received a Paypal from a disciple who sends me a donation for $21.00 every month. There are a few disciples who do this. It is a nice exchange of love. It’s a thoughtful thing. It doesn’t matter how big the donation may be—many people can’t afford much—but it’s the thought that counts, and the steady donation.

COVID Strikes Close to Home

Raghunath dasa, the famous leader of the Shelter band, is an anti-vaxxer. He recently played at a big concert at which all the band members contacted COVID. He’s now in the hospital on oxygen and having trouble breathing, and he has pneumonia. He pleaded with my disciple Saci Suta to visit him in the hospital. Saci didn’t want to go, but they have a deep friendship and he finally broke down and visited Raghunath. Now Saci is on quarantine and gets tested tomorrow, then he waits five days and will be tested again. Saci is vaccinated, but that doesn’t mean he couldn’t catch it from an unvaccinated person. Raghunath is critically ill, and Saci visited him in the COVID wing of the hospital.

Krishna Kripa’s Responsibilities

My disciple Krishna Kripa has a vow many years to go out every day, in different places of the world, and chant harinama from three to six hours a day. He is an exemplary brahmacari, always staying in devotional clothes and invited all over the world to join the different yatras and chant the glories of the holy name with the devotees. But since Trinidad Bala’s passing away, Krishna Kripa has been inspired by him and the sacrifice he made in leaving his homeland of Trinidad and bringing his wife, Krsna dasi, up to Stuyvesant Falls, New York to live as part of our ashram and render crucial services. Krishna Kripa was so moved by Trinidad Bala’s example that he thought, “Why don’t I do some direct service for our Guru Maharaja?” So he has taken six weeks off from his harinama vow and come and joined with us at Viraha Bhavan to do crucial services in the ashram. In the absence of Krsna dasi, his presence is even more appreciated in Viraha Bhavan. She has taught him the basics of Deity worship, and he will render cleaning and dressing the Deities into new clothes every three days. He also works hard in the ashram, making breakfast, cleaning up after breakfast and lunch, while maintaining his early morning japa. He also manages to go out once or twice a week to join with harinama parties in Schenectady, New York, or with Rama Raya’s party in Brooklyn. Krishna Kripa has a mother who is 97 years old and who is a social activist, going out for over fifty years to stand at the New York State Capitol in protest in support of environmental and Quaker antiwar sensibilities. She lives thirty minutes from Viraha Bhavan, so while here he has more chance of visiting her.

Abhishek Singh

Abhishek Singh is the son of my disciples Nitai Gaurasundara and Matsya devi dasi, who live near Nashville, Tennessee. Abhishek has asked me to write a letter of recommendation addressed to Niranjana Swami. I wrote the letter, but the email address bounced and I’ll have to send it again. I addressed it to Abhishek and told him to forward it to H.H. Niranjana Swami. I told Niranjana Swami (what he already knows), that Abhishek was born as a devotee of Krsna and has been humble and faithful to his parents. He has taken part in the weekly meetings at Nitai Gaurasundara’s house and heard countless lectures by visiting swamis. He knows many swamis in ISKCON, but he has chosen Niranjana Swami and aspires to take initiation from him. He chants sixteen rounds and strictly observes the four prohibitions against sinful life. Abhishek’s wife is equally qualified. She grew up in gurukula, and her parents are both disciples of Jayapataka Swami. Abhishek has become a lawyer, and he has a good job. His wife is a doctor. But on a visit to Viraha Bhavan, she said, “And we’ll also have babies.” They are economically and spiritually stable.

Bhakti-lata’s Writings

Bhakti-lata has started preaching on the Internet. She has printed ten messages about Krsna consciousness and sent them to various sites. She got good responses and reported that over a thousand people responded. I wrote her back and told her she shouldn’t have sent them out without my first seeing them or approving them. In the future she should not send anything else out until I first see it and approve it. I’m afraid she will glorify my books, but I want her to write about Prabhupada’s books.

Non-Spectacular Autumn

The autumn has come, and the leaves are changing from green to brown. In normal seasonal years, the people come out to see the spectacular colors. They come up from the city and rent motels and expensive bed-and-breakfast places just to see the panoramic colors of the fall. But this year, because of the rain and lack of sun to bring out the colors, so far the leaves’ colors have been dull, and they’re knocked off the branches prematurely. This can be a favorite season of the year to people who are sensitive to fall foliage. The city is already a depressing place because there are no leaves there, but when they come to the countryside where the trees are, it can be disappointing if they don’t display brilliant colors.

Book Excerpts

From A Poor Man Reads the Bhagavatam, Volume 1

pp. 361-62

“Chapter Three: Krsna Is the Source of All Incarnations” (continued)

“You say you’re not a creator-artist-deviant, but what about your playfulness? Is it not a light amusement, a form of carelessness?

“No, it’s just the way we are.

“In the Rockies,
in the Himalayas
I write freely and send
notes home.

“We accept the Vedas.
our family is Vedic.
We subscribe to Back to Godhead.
We gave money as best we could
for the Rosie projects and
went out to meet people
sometimes.

“The fog is lifting.”

***

pp. 368-69

“I cannot speak enough, pure enough.

“It’s true I want to speak of myself and of the world, of something immediate. I seem to think that readers cannot constantly sustain interest in straight philosophical discussion. I want to give us all a break. Or rather, I accept as fact that for me a break is required. I can only hear philosophy for an hour or so. Then I want to get up and stretch or walk around—go out and see the garden and hear the wind.

And we have our business and personal matters (in Krsna consciousness) to attend to.

“A proof: some temples impress upon the Bhagavatam lecturers not to speak too long or it will disrupt the day of devotional service for the community. In some temples, the management places a printed notice on the lectern, ‘Dear lecturer, do not speak for more than one hour, including questions and answers.’ Speakers are sometimes affronted by this notice, or they disregard it and speak for two hours and more. When they do, breakfast is late, the book distributors go out late, the preaching starts late, and everything is disrupted. There is a time and place for Bhagavatam lecturing and also a time to stop and move on to other services. We serve the book Bhagavata and we serve the person Bhagavata in various ways.

Turning to personal thoughts and flow of consciousness, I try to tap into the constant factor of devotion service with its ebb and flow. I also admit that sometimes when the formal Bhagavatam class has ended, the quality of our Krsna consciousness drops. I seek to improve, to steer to remembrance of Bhagavatam topics. Therefore, free-writing exercises and various subheadings are an attempt not to divert myself from the Srimad- Bhagavatam but to enter it and open the field to all things at all times in Krsna consciousness.”

***

pp. 369-70

“O absurd words that come when we don’t even ask for them,

“O happy day that I started out with no headache or indigestion,

“O joy in heart, the chance to serve the Lord with foot down a bit on the accelerator.

“The sound of the water over the dam at night when I can’t go out and see it.

“Did you hear? We are going to leave this place earlier than we had planned and go a few days to Bombay. Will stay at Hare Krsna Land and see an Ayurvedic doctor. Six more days here.

“Another list:

  1. The sound of the water over the dam at night called (yes, I just said that).
  2. Chance to draw pictures.
  3. The darkening of the day at night, I welcome it. Take off the eye mask and welcome sweet sleep. The crazy dreams I can’t make sense of.
  4. A long night. Up early. Count the hours before dawn creeps over the window. Go out and meet it.
  5. fruit.
  6. Observer status. No newspapers. Another day. The servant, Lakshman—his shy, furtive look, his moustache. What’s he thinking as he irons Prabhupada’s miniature clothes?”

***

pp. 374-75

“Here goes a picture of Uncle Bob taking to Krsna consciousness, chanting on his new beads received in the mail. His hairs stand on end, and he has a circle on his forehead where the brahma-randra is. I remember Madhu saying to me about a month ago, ‘Publish what you really want to say, not thinking that a book has its own life or that you wrote it so it’s now history and should be published.’ He wanted me to take full responsibility for what I publish and not allow even an editor to do that. I accept these points, but I have more I want to say about it.

“I also want to print some of what comes from the hand and heart, what comes at a certain time in a writing session. That itself is a commitment—to writing and to honesty.

“In answer to Madhu’s saying, ‘Write what you really want to say,’ I say whatever thoughts come as I wrote them, and I want some of them published. I believe I was open and sincere when I wrote them. Sure, it shouldn’t be anything against the Krsna conscious teachings or anything that will weaken a devotee’s faith. It should be the best I can do. But what is it that I want to say and to give the devotees to read? It’s honesty, not only a perfect rehashing of sastra. It’s the joy of writing and even the abandon in it.”

***

pp. 380-81

“The Lord appeared and lifted the earth on His tusks. It appeared beautiful, like the moon. His voice roared. He splashed water. Beings on higher planets prayed to Him when they heard His gorgeous roar. When Prabhupada was translating this section of the Bhagavatam, I was living in the Alston storefront and typing the tapes. I had no problem accepting the boar incarnation. Jadurani painted the form crudely but according to the Indian tradition. Prabhupada coached her as to whether he should have hooves or hands and feet. ISKCON‘s rendition is more boarish than human.

“Dr. Dimock of the University of Chicago challenged me in the classroom, demanding ‘Why did you paint a full hog incarnation in Murari Gupta’s room?’ He said that the Caitanya-bhagavata describes that Lord Caitanya assumed the mood of a boar.

“I replied that we have faith in the Caitanya-caritamrta and whatever our spiritual master says.

“How do we love Him? That’s a good question. If we saw Him, we’d love Him. By regularly hearing, let us come to love Srimad-Bhagavatam. Then we will love hearing about all of the Lord’s adventures, such as the time He popped out from Brahma’s nostril and instantly expanded to a gigantic size to face Hiranyaksa’s challenge.”

***

pp. 382-83

“As soon as I start hearing about Narada from Prabhupada, it throws me into relishable reminisces. I can almost smell the hot, fresh dhal and chaunk in the pot on the stove in Prabhupada’s kitchen. I think of Prabhupada when I think of Narada. I love the way Prabhupada tells us about Narada. Just a few words and I’m sailing off into this nice association. It all seems nearby and familiar.

“This is the quality of our Krsna consciousness, which is not perhaps so understandable to persons outside of Prabhupada’s spiritual family. They are sometimes puzzled why we insist on hearing everything from Srila Prabhupada and why we insist that he’s so special. They want to reminders that Prabhupada’s real greatness is that he is a humble representative of the Gaudiya Vaisnava parampara.

“We know that this is Prabhupada’s greatness. That’s why we like to hear from him. But you can’t blame us if we say that we don’t find such wonderful flavor in Krsna consciousness unless we hear from our spiritual father. Is it wrong to be so chaste? I don’t think so. Anyway, wrong or right, this is the way we are.

“I like to go back to the beginnings of my Krsna consciousness in the ’60s and ’70s. I pick up that thread and follow it up to the present moment. I find that it’s a strong cable connecting me to Krsna consciousness.”

From My Relationship with Lord Krsna

p. 29

“Lord Siva states that Lord Visnu is ‘most peaceful, and because of Your self-illuminated existence, You are not disturbed by the six kinds of transformations.’ (Bhag. 4.24.34). We need God. How foolish to think the self can stand alone. We are always disturbed, but Lord Visnu is never disturbed. ‘Consequently, any conditioned soul within this material universe can remain completely perfect when he is under the protection of Vasudeva, or when he is engaged in devotional service.’ I want to feel these sastric truths in my body.

“Although I try to appreciate everything about Krsna, certain of His qualities are my favorites. Still, I want to learn everything about Him in order to increase my appreciation of our relationship. My best friend is also the controller of the material elements. He is the integrating power. He holds the universes together, and in one of His expansions, He destroys everything at the time of annihilation. I have heard that when I reach the highest stages in my relationship with Krsna, yogamaya will make me forget His greatness. But I’m not there yet. I need to hear whatever my spiritual master thinks is good for me. ‘One should not neglect to understand fully how great Krsna is, for by knowing the greatness of Krsna, one will be able to be fixed in sincere devotional service.’ (Bg. 10.7, purport)”

From Vandanam: A Krsna Conscious Handbook on Prayer

pp. 32-33

“Pramada, Inattentive Chanting

“In his treatise on the holy name, Harinama-cintamani, Bhaktivinoda Thakura thoroughly discusses the ten offenses in chanting. He singles out inattention as a great stunter of development. ‘Pramada may mean madness,’ he writes, ‘but here the meaning is inattention or carelessness. It is from this offense that all other offenses spring.’

“Bhaktivinoda Thakura analyzes three kinds of inattentiveness: indifference, laziness, and distraction. We become indifferent to the holy name because we are absorbed in material desires. ‘While chanting japa daily, if his taste will be elsewhere, he will show indifference to the Name.’

“In laziness, we allow our minds to remain sluggish, or we even fall asleep. We give up chanting before we have reached our quota. The fault of distraction is that we are actually attracted to women, wealth, prestige, etc., and so we become inattentive to our own calls upon the Supreme Lord in His Name form.

“Bhaktivinoda Thakura’s advice to counter pramada is to ‘take association of Vaisnavas who are properly chanting in a place sheltered from the material influence.’ The enthusiasm of pure devotees will pass onto us, and we also will gradually chant as they do. Bhaktivinoda Thakura advises, ‘On Ekadasi and appearance days, one should stop thinking of eating all day and night and chant in the company of devotees.’”

From Shack Notes: Moments at a Writing Retreat

pp. 207-8

“11:15 A.M.

“Dear Friends,
“You have allowed me to talk freely, and you have listened to me as a guide. I wish, therefore, that I had more qualification and could lead you further. At least I have the solace of knowing that no one can make spiritual advancement for you—you have to do it yourselves.

“We are followers of His Divine Grace A.C. Bhaktivedanta Swami Prabhupada. I am writing for his followers and for those who are aspiring to be his followers, and I am trying to encourage everyone to seek their spiritual nourishment from Prabhupada’s books.

“Here we are, following Prabhupada. We have come a certain distance—I picture us on an outing in a Vrndavana wood—and we intend to go further. We are friends, confiding and desiring to help one another.

“What is this an introduction to? A little confession? Although I am acting as your guide, I fell asleep again today—the third time in a row—during the Krsna book reading. I am getting up earlier in the night and not napping much in the day, and this could be the cause. But it is ironic. Today I dozed during the description of the stealing of the gopis’ clothes by Krsna. We read each lila twice, once in Krsna book and once in Srimad-Bhagavatam. I dozed twice during the same pastime.

“Now I am awake, looking around at the bright trees of the forest. I feel a pleasant breeze.”

From Last Days of the Year

pp. 91-92

“I admonished myself and said, ‘Don’t write only of what happens in these days. Dalus Weir said his cell is twelve foot by six foot or maybe bigger, and within this he has all the transcendental books of Prabhupada that he needs. He said it’s not a bad life. I have a room also and can roam into a prison yard, you could call it. I can’t go further because cars will be passing and I don’t like that. I wish to be alone . . . I don’t belong here either. These are not my people. ‘Where would you like to live?’

“What was it like for Merton? He lived on a hill in some woods, but the monks were nearby. Sometimes a hunter passed also, and he saw airplanes. He said when he went alone, he was with all the people even more and better than in other times. You have to go alone for the right reasons, he said.

“So don’t write only the marsh, the walk, the tight borders that enforce you. Now that I think of it, I’m quite penned in here, but not like sheep. My spirit can roam wherever you need. It is not that I want to go somewhere, into a town and play video games, see a film, newspapers, walk somewhere else. There is nowhere to go on the earth. Wherever you go, you will meet people. Theophan the Recluse stayed completely alone in his room and didn’t go out. He chose that because it enabled him to concentrate his mind and his heart and devotion to the invisible Lord and Jesus prayer.”

From Songs from Stuyvesant Falls

pp. 29-30

Morning Poem”

“My morning poem is dedicated to
Radha-Krsna. He has many gopis
to enhance His pastimes, but He is true
to only Radharani. It is inconceivable to
understand. She prays that He may make Her
brokenhearted, but He is her worshipable Lord
unconditionally. Sometimes She becomes angry with
Krsna when He goes to another gopi and
He hast to beg to come back into Her
presence. These are Their playful pastimes
in Vraja. Radha and Krsna are the exclusive
property of one another. I offer
my incense to Radha-Govinda, and She is
offering a jasmine flower to Him
in Her extended right hand.
I pray to Them with music
and offer prayers to understand Them
better and be accepted as a servitor.
I do it through Srila Prabhupada,
who is a representative of Radha.
My days are numbered, and I
offer Them simple worship
and hope to come closer
by the mercy of hladini-
sakti potency. Everything is
possible if I keep my heart
open and pure and
free of material attachments. Prabhupada
has advised us in this
worship, and I follow in
his footsteps.”

From ISKCON in the 1970s: Diaries

p. 478

“Ravindra Svarupa sent me suggestive material on ‘Epiphanies’ of Joyce, which may lead to epiphanies of Prabhupada. Things he did that revealed so much (that I cannot reveal by talking about him). I thought to collect them, with hopes of later using them in the biography. I can work at them; I cannot simply observe happenings. I have to remember. Catch memories, observe the past, but where is it to observe? In my head, heart, books, others, pictures? What is memory? Where is that past? That past is also as real as the present, it had (or has) its own streets, faces, facts, only they exist in a different time. Still, they are observable to the sensitive. (Seems I need ideal conditions to help me remember him).

“Observe the past by first recalling it. Iconography—not aimlessly stabbing here or there, but attempt to capture images of him and to describe his paraphernalia The memories will come, since I do not think you are yet a dead man.

“It has to do with my commitment to him. Imagine I’m describing his voice. It is the voice of an old man, very scholarly, old-fashioned, almost always speaking the philosophy in a lecture. The sound portion of him, the most important. He pronounces words, I guess, in British (or almost Irish? Welsh?) accents. It is unmistakable and not like any British-trained Indian. It is different. I keep thinking of the damned cultists and bogus yogis and how we must say things that only apply to him—not my description of cooking capatis, which could apply to millions of Indian housewives. (At one point, won’t I have to write in India, live there I mean, to be with the people and places most like him? Yet it is difficult to write there.)”

From Passing Places, Eternal Truths: Travel Writings 1988-1996

pp. 120-21

“Yesterday afternoon I typed two pages intended as part of this ‘marathon,’ but then I threw them away. It’s good to be detached and not to think that everything I write has to be preserved. Usually I include everything I write within a certain time period as part of a timed book; I rarely crumple things up or rip them into pieces. I wonder what made me do it this time? I don’t want to lose nerve or confidence in the worthiness of recording as much as possible. That is the meaning of endurance in this marathon.

“Sometimes in a wild dance, words fly off like sparks from a spark machine. That’s free-writing. Sometimes I write sarcastically, coyly, or ironically. I prefer to be more direct. When I can’t find access to a soft and sincere devotional heart, however, I don’t want to avoid writing. Srila Prabhupada gave the example that we should be like businessmen who are expert to make profit in both a strong and weak economy. I can be writing profitably on one level or another.

“Here are some phrases from the pages I threw in the trash (along with an empty bottle of drinking water, tissues, filings from sharpened pencils, gone-dead batteries, nervous hours, scraps of typewriter paper left after I scissored them to fit them onto the legal page, etc. You can’t keep all; some is junk).”

***

pp. 212-13

“Vrndavana, India

“It’s Janmastami and it has been thundering for hours. The sky is dark. It could rain at any minute.

“Bus horns (or is it a conch from a nearby temple?). White Brahma cows walk the street in front of our house. A woman sings somewhere in the distance, sad and religious. I am relieved to be free of the amplified bhajanas for awhile.

“The rain is starting and the treetops are swaying as the breeze picks up. A bird feather blows across the floor. Baladeva has gone to the temple to cook for Krsna. Madhu is inside. The rooms are dark; there’s not even enough light to read by. A patrol of about ten big black ants marches across the gray cement.

“Prabhodananda Sarasvati says the eternal Goloka is the same as the place in which he himself lived. He had that vision. When he couldn’t see Goloka in Vrndavana, he bitterly lamented in separation. As for me, I can only write, ‘I see a donkey, I see some ants, I see a boy smoking a cigarette.’ I know there’s a limit to that, but I do see value in my sense perceptions here. I have faith that they are closer to Krsna than descriptions of what I perceive in Ireland or America. My perceptions are not of Goloka, but neither are they ordinary because life in Vrndavana isn’t ordinary. Krsna is directly present in every atom.

“Yesterday, while driving to Mathura, we saw about six white ‘Brahma’ calves cavorting wildly on the side of the road. They were romping with that energy calves have. Was that a Vraja sight? Is it connected to krsna-lila? Do I have to prove it? If ordinary life is worth rendering as it is and doesn’t need an explanation since it is all divine and inexplicable, then how much more is this true of Vrndavana? Pilgrim, your search has ended. Caress the Vraja details.”

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

p. 336

“There’s the wall with English words, history of Siddha-bakula, the framed pictures high on the walls. I thought I remembered them as murals. The tree, petrified, hung with clay or stone slabs—prayers or wishes. Does it pain the tree to hold them all?

“We circumambulate three times. It’s like walking on the moon—a different atmosphere. Then into the next courtyard and the Deity room—Gauranga with wig, Krsna, etc., and a separate one of bearded Haridasa wearing a crocheted hat and wrapped in a rough wool blanket. Jagannatha, Baladeva, and Subhadra too, wrapped in Their winter blankets. Even the bas relief figure on an outer column has a blanket.

We bow. A Gaudiya-looking sadhu in white cloth nods to us. Our group sits. I admit I feel alienated. My voice is slow and measured. Let it come out. I speak from my feelings, but soon move to discuss Haridasa. Haridasa Thakura is similar to us in that he is born outside the Hindu culture. He kept himself humble. I give examples and speak to some of the kids of Siddha-bakula, hoping it will impress us enough to chant attentively, at least while we’re here.

“Preaching and sadhana come together in good japa. One who has enthusiasm, taste, and steadiness in chanting will progress beyond offensive chanting and will also become a potent preacher. Yes, it’s true.

“Then I ended, picked up leaves from the ground, got on the rickshaw, and left, elated.”

From From Copper to Touchstone: Favorite Selections from Sri Caitanya-caritamrta

pp. 84-85

“WHY DOES LORD CAITANYA HAVE TO COME TO THE MATERIAL WORLD TO TASTE SEPARATION?

“ . . . Recently, a woman who was married to a devotee wrote me a letter. She had been hearing the philosophy from her husband, although she herself was not a devotee. She wrote and asked a challenging question: ‘If Krsna is God, why wasn’t He able to understand the position of Srimati Radharani? Why did He have to appear as Lord Caitanya to understand this?’ She thought it suggested that Krsna was not all-powerful.

“I answered her by saying that it is not a question of ability or inability. Krsna did taste Srimati Radharani’s mood, and to do that, He appeared as Caitanya Mahaprabhu. We should not think that Krsna was forced to appear as Lord Caitanya, and neither should we think that He was unable to fulfill His desire. Actually, Krsna fulfilled His desire in such a wonderful way.

“This concept is one meaning to the statement that Lord Caitanya’s lila is the appendix to Radha-Krsna lila. Krishna savored again His own relationship with His most beloved devotee and tasted Her love for Him in separation.”

From Japa Transformations

pp. 65-66

“Japa Essay

“This morning I started chanting and also started thinking about my book production. I noticed it and said, ‘Okay, you’re thinking about book distribution. It’s a nice thing to think about, but this is japa time.’ That curbed the one line of thought. These little things come to me, and I am grateful; I live within my limits, and I hope to improve.

“Although I make fun of my duty-bound counting up of the quota, still, it’s a virtue. Maybe I inherited it from my karmi parents. I learned (rather late) to be an achiever and study for exams, to be a punctual worker. I can apply that, and I count. It’s small-time, and I don’t mind if you joke about it. I’d rather be this way than slovenly and unable to take my quota seriously. I like to count. How many rounds done? How many left? How many minutes per round?

“I don’t mind that I’m such a slow chanter, sometimes averaging eight minutes per round, but if I can go faster, that would be better. And be an athlete or musician in bringing the mind back gently to hearing. Be a renounced person who humbly accepts whatever he can get, but who goes on chanting.

“Not fixed on the target in
the heart, the heavy-eyed
chanter completes his
quota. He chants quickly
but not hearing out loud.
We have to give him a ‘C.’

“He’s got time for more chanting
and hopes he will improve,
glances at Radha-Govinda
for encouragement.
‘Pray to the Lord, ‘Please
let me chant.’ Stay with
determination, don’t say
you can’t.”

From Vaisnava Behavior

pp. 40-41

“THE MADHYAMA-BHAKTA’S RELATIONSHIP TO THE INNOCENT NONDEVOTEES”

“Out of compassion, the preacher approaches and tries to deliver all sinful persons. The devotee is not satisfied with his own salvation; he is anxious for the welfare of others. As he contacts the nondevotees, he finds some of them to be extremely inimical and blasphemous, whereas others he considers innocent. By innocent we do not mean that they are sinless, but that they are not directly blasphemous and, when confronted with Krsna consciousness, are not inimical, although they may continue their abominable activities. If a devotee sees in a nondevotee the smallest spark of interest toward Krsna, he works earnestly to fan that spark into a fire.

“This attitude is inspired by Krsna Himself, who, as the well-wishing Father of all living entities, wants everyone to give up their suffering and return to Him.

“ . . . . The pure devotee’s dedication to the welfare work of helping the spiritually poor is so intense that he is willing to give up his life to bring it about. Prahlada Maharaja declared that he would forego his own return back to Godhead until all sinful persons could be saved and join with him at the lotus feet of Krsna. Vasudeva Datta, a maha-bhagavata devotee of Lord Caitanya, asked the Lord to please transfer all the karmic sufferings of all living beings in the universe to him, and to allow the sinners to return to the kingdom of God. And the saintly king Maharaja Rantideva made a similar prayer.”.

Writing Sessions

From Karttika Moon

“PART ONE: The Karttika Papers, 1994

“Note Pad #3

“Mayapur” (continued)

“It’s Mayapur,
‘Stir up the Magic of Puja’ read a billboard
I saw coming out of Calcutta
yesterday. Lord of pujas
and hooligans, fallen stars.
The elk and the elephant,
I haven’t seen the zoo yet
but from America mail came
with a brand-new better
stick-on denture adhesive.
I really got off on that.
Gur milk is too strong.
Give me more notepads.
This is Mayapur where
you can’t commit offenses.
Everything you do is blessed.
The Two Brothers reign.
They bring you to gopi-bhava.
I’m on good behavior.
I am settin’ an example,
sending a message by this
year not travelin’ to Vrindavan.
Dear Child Nimai, give
me blessings of foot dust
of Nadia,
Dear Prabhupada, let me read
your books and find
it there so even when
I read Bhagavata-mahatmya
it’s in the consciousness of your
follower.
Bosh Bosh. I must
read him mostly.
I want that.
This is in Mayapur,
home of jazz,
home of kirtana band,
thump-be-thump the
stars, the sky,
the peanut butter sandwich
in the sky of my memory, here
in Mayapur mail comes and NY Times
telling of Ozzie and Harriet and
Groucho Marx, good old
stars,
you better kick ‘em out
and for that the sharp nails
of Nrsimha will do.
Okay, I don’t hate you but
I got to part from you –
and so with love and
get out!
Let the way be cleared for
the appearance of Gaura-
Nitai in my heart.
Once and for all.

Before Lunch Poem

Can a horse ride a pony?
Can a nonsense write a
Vaishnava poem?
Do you love me? – sang the
teenage rival.
You know what it’s like, viraha
from Krsna? You don’t?
Well, I do. It’s kick-a-poo.
It’s me and I have to die.
Attached to Art? Give it up, you
said to Krsna, at the end. I’m
getting tired of hearing all this talk
of death. With all respects to the
devotees, who did it – Christ said
let the dead bury the dead.
Prabhupada said, ‘Death is not
wonderful. Life is wonderful. And
this is life, Krishna consciousness.’

“You die and then live again.
Let’s live until we have to die.
Let’s travel in the West and speak
and write out best. O Navadvipa –
I heard one can’t commit the offense
of overeating here and if you sleep
it’s as good as making personal obeisances.

“I just talked to six, my disciples.
That’s all. I told them of our delayed
Alitalia flight and how they cheated us –
said it was nonstop to Bombay but
stopped in Kuwait City.
Yeah, I told them. My teeth held in
firm, my head didn’t fall off the neck.
I didn’t lust, I bluffed, I looked at
my watch and beyond myself – the news of
viraha from Krishna came through, things
I’d read in Bhagavatam. I praised
Bhagavatam. Now I’m telling you all
this. Somehow, it’s all important,
sweat stained shirt underarms.
Srila Prabhupada singing on loudspeaker out
to the dhama, the titmouse (bird in
Gita-nagari, cold fall there). All I could
enumerate…why should I hide from
you. I’m in liberal audharya dhama.
Lord Caitanya’s grace.
So, chant and stub a toe and
stop mid-round but

do more. I’m saying I’m sorry that I’m not sorry. But again, I don’t want death thoughts or death pain right now. And I don’t want negativity. So, I say I don’t regret that I don’t regret.

Just move along like a Mr. McGoo
insect near-sighted,
go about your business,
wrongheaded but foolishly
confident that you have to
take care of business. That
means 16 rounds (count ‘em),
rather little quotas.

“Night”

“I’m in Mayapur with earplugs on but
let’s take ‘em out and live. They’re
singing Damodarastakam…the Bengalis…
But you see I need earplugs because of
the next room and when he clears his throat
I lose my train of thought…

“If I could be all alone and very clear
in thought
I don’t know what would happen.
I believe the Truth descends.
The Name descends.
I am not complaining but
not much descends to you, is that what
you’re saying?
No, not that either,
I’m happy but I’m aware I’m not
getting much, not the divine.
So, listen…

“I am honored here and at least I can be
honest about things. Tell them down-to-
earth stories. Avoid sitting on big cushions.
And share the Bhagavatam.
I’m not in the material world.

“I’m sheltered in ISKCON and
the duties my master gives me.
Okay, but what about this song tonight?
Give us a picture of flaming lamps offered
before Mother Yasoda and not-so-frightened
Krishna?

“No, I’m up in my room avoiding the crowd.
This is TKG’s room, a big reception room
but I’m alone in the middle of it. On
the wall is
a big original painting of Lord
Nityananda and
one of Gauranga and on the other side
of the room,
is a photo of Radha-kunda.
That’s the setting. Got it?

“Hear, hear comma we are in Mayapur. ‘We’ means me and the weekly

NY Times Week.

At a glance, Clinton’s down, Clinton down
there may not be another King of England –
900 perish at sea in a ferry with unwelded
front to it like the ones we always use.
Maybe he should have told me for safety
but didn’t want me to worry. The worst
could come yet but maybe Krishna wants
you to go along easy.

“He is the Boss, The King, the reason and
mattah parataram nanyat.
They want to read Krsna-bhagavatamrta.
As they die in Vrindavan, even a 19-year
old girl. Oh, let them. ‘I just know what
I need,’ I say, even as I fail to take it.

“Mayapur is too busy for me. Give me
the pasture and rain and low stone walls
alone in Ireland. I’ll make some nice
music for you there.
They say one full day in Navadvipa is
worth a million anywhere else.
Well, okay, I chalked it up.
But just left big green ink stain
on the sheet. What will TKG say?”

 

 

<< Free Write Journal #164

Free Write Journal #166 >>>


Forgetting the Audience

Writing Sessions at Castlegregory, Ireland, 1993Start slowly, start fastly, offer your obeisances to your spiritual master, His Divine Grace A.C. Bhaktivedanta Swami Prabhupada. You just drew his picture with your pencils. He appears carved out of wood…

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Last Days of the Year

I found I had hit a stride in my search for theme in writing, then began to feel the structure limiting me. After all, I had given myself precious time to write full-time; I wanted to enter the experience as fully as possible. For me, this means free-writing—writing sessions with no predetermined shape, theme, or topic…

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Daily Compositions

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…

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Meditations & Poems

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.

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Kaleidoscope

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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Seeking New Land

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.

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