Saturday, December 4, 2021
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.)
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 firstname.lastname@example.org (518) 754-1108
The season is changing rapidly. Last night it went down to the upper ’30s (Fahrenheit). I called once for a blanket, and a few hours later I was still cold and called for a comforter. Finally this morning we turned the heat on. Bhakti-rasa’s wife Kirtida is home in England. Her mother phoned her from Finland and asked her to come home there. The mother is my age, and she has the winter blues. Winter in Finland is extreme, always dark and very cold. Bhakti-rasa is carrying on here. Today he cooked an excellent cream of broccoli soup and corn muffins. We’re expecting a house visit by a Nurse Practitioner for an intake interview. It’s a new 24/7 medical service where if you have some problem, they’ll come out to the house anytime, day or night, even weekends. I have to be very careful not to get too cold in this weather because I have a proclivity for repeated cases of pneumonia. Each time you get pneumonia, you don’t come back as strong as you were before.
We brought all our tulasi plants indoors on the first day of Karttika. Now it’s all day and all night under the grow lamps. We picked off all the manjaris and transplanted all the baby tulasis (we have twenty three of them). In several years, the baby tulasis will be able to replace the older generation, which will pass on. The great-grandmother tulasi died this summer. We’re feeding the tulasis and spraying them with neem to avoid bringing in any bugs from the outside. Dead wood is being pruned out. They look fresh, healthy and ready for winter. (Most devotees lose their tulasis during the winter. We have a first-class lighting system, a warm corner with some sunlight and fresh air on sunny days.) We hope that the new babies will survive the shock of transplanting and endure the winter.
The visit was routine. The nurse is Michele, and she’s been here three times so she was familiar with my situation. She mostly talked with Baladeva and went over the changes that have occurred. I hadn’t been diagnosed with Parkinson’s disease since the last time she was here. So she incorporated the information about that into her papers. And also the pneumonia and the case of UTI, which is what I still have now. She found my heartbeats and blood pressure to be normal. The oxygen level was low, 92, but she didn’t seem very alarmed about anything.
In our out-loud reading, we have just finished the talks between the Lord and Ramananda Raya. It is a most confidential section, with Caitanya Mahaprabhu asking the questions and Ramananda giving the answers. Finally Sri Caitanya says, “Ramananda Raya, you are just like a madman, and therefore you can understand these talks. I am also a madman. So do not talk about any of this with any other person. No one will understand.” The Lord then ordered Ramananda Raya to retire from government service and join Him in Jagannatha Puri, where they can spend their time discussing topics of Radha and Krsna.
Now we are hearing of Lord Caitanya’s return from His South Indian tour and meeting with devotees at Jagannatha Puri. One by one, He was joined with great devotees like Svarupa Damodara, Bhavananda Raya and four of his sons, and His servant, Govinda. Sarvabhauma Bhattacarya introduced Him to all the servants of Jagannatha. Sarvabhauma Bhattacarya also met with King Prataparudra and asked if a nice residence could be made available for Lord Caitanya at Puri. King Prataparudra said Kasi Misra’s house would be ideal—it was a solitary place but near the Jagannatha temple. Kasi Misra was blissful to give his house for Lord Caitanya to stay in, and the Lord was pleased to see that water and all of His necessities were available. Like rivers flowing into the sea, the devotees arrived from different places to be with Lord Caitanya. Svarupa Damodara came, and Lord Caitanya accepted him as His personal secretary. Anyone who wanted to show Lord Caitanya his writings had to first show them to Svarupa Damodara to see if they were fit for the Lord to read.
In our out-loud reading, we heard a lot about Lord Caitanya’s mercy on King Prataparudra. Although at first He refused to see him because he was a king, the Lord’s devotees appealed to Him, and finally Lord Nityananda suggested to the Lord, “Give him a piece of Your old clothing.” The devotees did that, and the king worshiped the cloth as good as Krsna Himself. Then with more pressure, the Lord agreed to see the King’s son. When the Lord saw him, the boy was a budding youth and looked like Krsna. The Lord touched him and he became transformed with ecstatic love. From that day on, the king’s son came every day to see Lord Caitanya and became one of the Lord’s intimate associates. Then the confidential devotees suggested a way that the king could associate with the Lord. They told him that at a certain point in the Ratha-yatra, Lord Caitanya becomes fatigued by the dancing and goes and lies down in a garden in an ecstatic, unconscious mood. The king went there in Vaisnava dress and recited verses from the Srimad-Bhagavatam about Krsna and the gopis. When Lord Caitanya heard these verses spoken by the king, He called out, “You are most munificent! Speak on, speak on!” The Lord then embraced King Prataparudra, and they cried together in ecstasy. Prataparudra also got to see the sacred trick the Lord played whereby He expanded Himself within each group of kirtaniyas. But this could not be seen or understood by anyone except a few very confidential devotees—including the king.
We have our murti of Mother Yasoda with a rope around Damodara tied to the grinding mortar. We sing the Damodarastakam and offer a ghee wick. This is a favorite verse: “O Lord, the entire universe was created by Lord Brahma, who was born from Your abdomen, which was bound with a rope by Mother Yasoda. To this rope I offer my humble obeisances. I offer my obeisances to Your most beloved Srimati Radharani and to Your unlimited pastimes.”
For Karttika, devotees do vows (vratas) like refraining from sweets, fasting from urad dal, growing a beard, chanting extra rounds, etc. There will be a lot of festivals this month, the last month of Caturmasya, such as the appearance of Radha-kunda, many appearances and disappearances of acaryas, Diwali, Govardhana Puja, Prabhupada’s disappearance day.
In our small-town neighborhood, it’s election season, voting on November 4th. The lawns are cluttered with many signs urging you to vote for the many candidates for sheriff, tax collector, town supervisor, judge, and several others. There are many names on the placards, more than I can remember. You can tell by the color of the placard whether the candidate is Republican or Democrat. They’re even knocking on doors and wanting to talk to us, telling us what good representatives of the people they are, what a good job they’re doing. They are friendly, and we speak in a friendly way back to them.
Prabhupada said politicians in Kali-yuga cannot be trusted. They are of low character. They engage in the four sinful activities: meat-eating, illicit sex, intoxication and gambling. How can they be expected to lead the people in virtuous ways?
People send me poems. Jayanta wrote a poem in which he described the different things in Krsna consciousness that are hard to believe such as Vedic astronomy, the incredibly long time periods, the billions of bodyguards possessed by Ugrasena. But then he turns and catches the glance of his Gaura-Nitai, and all his doubts are vanquished. I like spiritual poems like this.
The two elderly women, Joan and Nick, who were friends with Bala and Krsna dasi, said they want to grow the garden this year in honor of departed Baladeva. They will put up a plaque saying “Baladeva’s Garden” and grow the vegetables in his honorable memory.
Leo, our close friend from the Veterans of Foreign Wars, stopped by to talk with Baladeva Vidyabhusana about paying for the insurance at the VFW hall for my Vyasa-puja day event. Then Leo said, “I know you by the name ‘Bill. But I want to know you by your Hare Krsna name, your spiritual name.” Baladeva was touched and told Leo his name was “Bala.” Leo had Baladeva spell out the name so he wouldn’t forget it. Leo finished the conversation by saying that Trinidad Baladeva was such a nice man and we need more like him in America. Then he trailed off by crying.
While Baladeva was making pudding for me to take my pills with and Krishna Kripa was dancing, I joined in too, and we heard the kirtaniya, Madhava, meeting thousands in a maha-kirtana in Ukraine. He’s one of my favorite singers. I love the way he sticks to one steady tune without speeding up too much, and how he enthuses the responders to sing back. It was a kind of wild scene in the kitchen, with Baladeva mixing the pudding and both he and Krishna Kripa singing. I sat straight up in my chair and sang along with Madhava and the crowd. There was a wonderful flute player and some other instruments like a violin filling up the atmosphere. We kept up with Madhava for almost an hour. Before we listened to Madhava, Krishna Kripa played us a video of Rama Raya leading a kirtana in Tompkins Square Park and Times Square, New York. It was blissful.
But all joys want eternity, one deep, profound eternity!
Two! Deep is woe, deeper still is joy. But all joys want eternity…
We sing at midnight in the safety of the soul. We toil, our little effort as disciples.”
“This is not a pain journal, but I won’t apologize for telling you that I have another full-scale headache. This is the fifth day in a row. It’s making me anxious to complete the first volume of A Poor Man Reads the Bhagavatam before leaving this station. It’s a quota I’ve set myself. Time or fate is robbing me of my time each day. I’m trying to steal back enough of it that I can complete my task. I plan to end Volume One just before Vyasadeva speaks the Bhagavatam’s maha-vakya: ete camsa-kalah pumsah, krsnas tu bhagavan svayam.
“Writing is a life in itself. You may call it literary life in contrast to real life, but I think that’s an unfair duality. That would mean that real life consists of getting a headache in the late morning and putting a wet rag over my eye. It would also include travel plans, faxes, communication with Bombay and Canada, and so on.
“Isn’t the subject of these Bhagavatam notes just as real? It’s ‘the book I’m writing,’ something my friends won’t read, something I don’t talk about, although it’s important to me. This is the moment, this wooden desk and the hour, 11 P.M.— all background or setting for the opportunity to write something worthy.
“Of course, I can’t claim that my notes are worthy and will outlast the wooden desk or become more famous than some funky piece of Indian paraphernalia. All I know is that I want to write. Maybe that’s all I should claim or even hope for. Prabhupada says that publishing for fame should not be our concern. We should write simply to purify ourselves.
“I write because I’m inspired and because this theme was given to me by Krsna in the heart. (Yes! How else do we get any ideas? To say, ‘No, I’m not writing under Krsna’s dictation,’ is to become an atheist.)”
“I’m grateful to those devotees who are sincerely managing Prabhupada’s movement and doing their best to create laws to govern ISKCON. We read in the previous purport that the managers of cosmic affairs are important workers in the universe, so much so that when Krsna can’t find anyone qualified to manage, He does it Himself. Someone has to collect the money, protect the property and deal with the legalities so that we can exist in the world in peace. Someone has to meet with other managers and go through the inevitable and complicated details. Such management is spiritual. Whoever turns to a spiritual movement like ISKCON and tries to benefit himself as well as take the opportunity to perform devotional service should be grateful to those who are willing to go through the austerities of management.
“Although people fear corruption in administrators, that doesn’t mean that we shouldn’t be organized. Prabhupada was not just against ‘organized religion,’ as many New Age teachers are. He wanted us to be very organized in order to preach.”
“The Lord placed him on a boat.
Yes, He placed him on the golden boat
and towed that boat which was roped
to the fish-horn by the
Vasuki snake—and towed
him over the waters of devastation.
“He gave the muni notice,
‘There will be a flood,’
so he gathered herbs and creatures
as Noah did.
On the day the Lord predicted,
the rains came down like
showers from elephants‘ trunks,
pralaya, devastation. The
Lord sailed with
the sages aboard.
Pray we also get warning
and be prepared,
believe in His instruction
given sometimes in strange ways
and in times so special that
even acaryas disagree
as to when it really was.
“ . . . Is that so bad? Even the acaryas differ from one another. The Lord Himself certainly displayed humor in asking the muni, ‘Please put Me in a bigger pot.’
“You may take it that there is nothing particularly zany here. What it is is ordinary. And that’s true. It’s incongruous the way the ordinary is placed side-by-side with the straight parampara. For that I apologize. To admit it all would be to close down this project, but Krsna gave it to me this way, and I take it that He approves.
“Yet I do sometimes tremble when I hear Prabhupada put it so directly: ‘Material pleasure is when you try to satisfy your senses, and spiritual life is when you try to please Krsna.’”
“Please, Lord, let us praise You in all Your pastimes and purposes, those we can understand and those that baffle us, those that took place long ago and those that are happening now or in the future, but let us do it deeply and with heart.
“The guards on the porch are talking. It’s midnight. I prefer this hour to be like ‘the night before Christmas,’ when ‘all through the house, not a creature was stirring, not even a mouse.’ But creatures do stir, even as I write. What is it I seek to find in the lotus of quiet? I hope to see Lord Krsna in the Srimad-Bhagavatam.
“My Srila Prabhupada murti accepts the Dictaphone I place before him while I write. Prabhupada is up writing at his customary hour and I am up with him, writing in my junior way as his son.
“Madhu said that so many questions are asked of the speakers in Bhagavatam class that it often seems more an exercise in the theoretic. The real question is how we can see and hear the Bhagavatam as relevant to our lives.”
at a bookstore.
a river named
Liffy. A town name Godavari.
Indian life is good; I used
to say Vrndavana
is the best place to
write but when I was there recently
I stayed in my room and collected
its dust as holy
because I received His mercy
for a writer’s life finally
dedicated to one undying project,
staying awhile with each
verse of Srimad-Bhagavatam and my
master’s purports with
‘permission given’ to go ashore,
a drunken sailor.
I can do it,
but is it best?
that’s what I’m asking,
O Lord Vamana.
Don’t take away
my writer’s life.
Let me give You all land
and my head and my
writer’s right hand not
paralyzed but working
on Your behalf.”
“I taped some pictures of Vrndavana and the acaryas to the inside wall of our van. At first I felt like I was wasting time or being idle, looking for the best places to tape them, cutting the Scotch tape, and so on. But these pictures of Prabhupada, Rupa Gosvami, Lord Caitanya, Govardhana Hill, Vamsivata, Vrndavana as they look today—these are the visions I wish to line the inner walls of my mind with. In the coming months, we plan to spend a lot of time in the van, so the pictures are important. Just to see them pacifies my heart. Who knows how much spiritual energy is radiating from these pictures? I have yet to choose a picture of Radha-Krsna. And one of Lord Nrsimha, to protect us in our flimsy van from a world of accidents and robbers. I see Bhaktivinoda Thakura and then glance out at the attractive grass hills. Bhaktivinoda Thakura seems to say, ‘Get back to work.’ He says it kindly because he knows my heart’s desire is to be back with him and my spiritual master and the Six Gosvamis.”
“There is a strong wind today. I hear its pipe and organ and flute sounds reverberating down the metal chimney and against the windows and huffing against this stone house. M. and his wife have gone out for the day. Madhu came in and said if I like, I can wander around the house, no one is home except the cat. But I am not inclined. It is better for japa to stay in one small room. If I chant in the large kitchen and dining room where it’s warmer and brighter, I will start looking at labels on spice jars and books on the shelf. I’ve got this little room cased out, nowhere to go except surrender to chanting and writing.
“Radha and Krsna. I am not qualified to hear Their pastimes, but They are the goal. Their pastimes take place in Vrndavana, and that is why Vraja is the best place in all the universes. That is why Rupa Gosvami tells us to chant the holy name in Vraja.
“Knowing this spoils all other knowledge. How can I roam around the house now?”
“The whole life needs to be lived in love and dedication. Srila Prabhupada has given us a life of engagement for all the senses and the mind—Deity worship, prasadam, kirtana, and the services we render in this movement. Within that total life of devotion, our chanting is one of the main activities. Japa is not the only devotional activity in a life which is otherwise devoid of bhakti.
“It is also true that if the chanting is dry and loveless, it may mean we need to be more loving in all ways. Can we show more love toward the devotees we live with and toward the innocent nondevotees, toward all living beings?
“But the chanting is the most accessible and direct way to express love and obedience. Lord Caitanya and Srila Prabhupada give special attention to chanting. Harer nama, harer nama, harer namaiva kevalam—there is no other way to attain love of God (the goal of life) except the chanting of the holy name, the chanting, the chanting.”
“O Prabhupada, whose followers never tire of praising him because he is their life-breath;
“O Prabhupada, who is like the cow that protects the devotee-calves, and who is like a policeman to catch the Mayavadi thieves by the throats—all glories to your actions in this world;
“O master, whose instructions bind us to the regulative principles of devotional service, whose timely presence in our lives has saved us from descending to painful lower species of life; O master, who reinforces the teachings of the previous acaryas, and who says ‘No!’ to illicit desires;
“O Prabhupada, who invites us to the Sunday prasadam feast of many excellent preparations, such as spiced sabjis, tender puris, sweet rice, and halava, all prepared personally by him and his servants, and who induces us to ‘Take more!’ until we forget all our wayward desires, being satisfied with krsna-prasadam;
“O Prabhupada, who leads us from event to event, like the gracious host of a festival, who points the way as the leading explorer on the expedition, and who waits for us at the destination in Krsnaloka—may we never lose connection to you.”
“I get to take a nap at 6:30 A.M. this morning because there is no breakfast. Then I can be outside by 7:30 if it’s not too dark. I think I’ll go out even if it’s dark. Rain doesn’t stop me because I’ve got clothes that can resist it. Chant three rounds and then come back in here and sit close to the fireplace. I don’t need a back rest. I sit up straight. Read the Krsna activities of Tenth Canto. Trick yourself into a study. I agreed to do a seminar in Villa Vrndavana in the summer.
“In addition to reading and writing, I have planned things for next year in consultation with M. We have our whole travel itinerary worked out almost to the day, although it could change. I also thought about initiations, especially about those special people who have been aspiring to get initiated. I decided to make twelve more exceptions but keep the basic policy of no more initiations. So that was a big thing to do, a big decision. Then I decided to teach the full VIHE course in the fall in Vrndavana. Yes, go to Vrndavana. And we planned out when to take retreats, and I thought I’d like to do some more Italy temple visiting. So we planned that out. I also spoke some personal things which I can’t think of right now. So it was productive and very year-endish. Get ready for 1995. But in a minute, the life can be driven out of my body or anyone else’s. You don’t know whether you’ll live next year. Prabhupada says for your earning a livelihood, you should be satisfied with what comes and without much trouble, and then use your energy for attaining Krsna consciousness.”
“Vines growing up the trunks, bees finding the flowers, clouds in the blue sky—all these mean Radha and Krsna are coming together. I can see it too, just as I can see that the taste of water is Krsna and the sun is His eye. Can I see Radha in the yellow buttercup? Can I think more of Vrndavana?
“The routine here is peaceful. Sometimes I picture myself as a small, staggering, feeble person climbing stairs. I don’t know how I look to others. Anyone’s face is a simple mask that doesn’t have the ability to reveal all emotions. There’s a voice out in the valley. My thoughts pass through my mind in this sunlight. They move in a certain direction. This is not suddha-bhakata.
“Spring is a festival for lovers. In this world it is cheapened and perverted by lusty couples. Better to be a celibate monk and think of the springtime love of Radha and Krsna.
“Shiny grass bending your back, do you have a message for me? I can record it. If any daisy or humble weed has something to say about Krsna consciousness, I can record it. I have come here for that purpose.
“But please speak up. I don’t think I can bend too far down to hear you speak. You shamrocks with the red spot in the middle of each leaf, I’ve never seen your species before. How did you get that blood spot? If you were growing in India, I’m sure there would be a story in the Puranas about you. If you can’t talk, then at least listen to me chant—Hare Krsna! Hear the holy names of Radha and Krsna. I write in your midst. Even if you don’t like the way I pronounce the maha-mantra with my crackling, harsh voice, please feel it coming from my heart.
“The grasses are praised by Lord Caitanya as lowly and fit to chant. The trees are the example of tolerance. You deserve more. Be patient for now and take the opportunity when it comes. If I can yearn from here to go to Vrndavana, why can’t you?”
“My dear Lord Krsna, please have mercy on
who has black ink on his right-hand writing fingers.
“Dear Lord Krsna,
I repeat Your name with little realization, I respect Your right not to reveal Yourself to a selfish fool.
“Dear Lord Krsna,
books like Nectar of Devotion tell us Your qualities, I listen to them carefully and hope to know the spiritual form.
“Dear Lord Krsna,
Your devotees love You, and I’m obedient and happy to serve Srila Prabhupada. Please consider this when it is time to judge me.
“Dear Lord Krsna,
You have an effulgent smile,
You have gopis, parents and cowherd friends. You let me eat today—
Your energies range everywhere.
I want to take Your guidance
and worship the best part, Yourself.
“Dear Lord Krsna, I am warming up
to pure descriptions of Your pastimes.
I consider myself fortunate when I say Your name.”
“I felt that he was using this Bombay stop to gain a little strength, after traveling and working so hard. I was glad to see him resting, since he usually rested only about four hours in twenty-four. I preferred to see Prabhupada not giving extra lectures and meeting guests all day. The main thing, especially at his age, was to keep good health and continue his writing. So this occasional resting in the morning seemed appropriate.
“For me, Prabhupada’s daily massage was the high point of the day. It was supposed to begin at eleven-fifteen in the morning, but sometimes he would be talking with guests at that time.
“In that case, I would put on my gamcha and sit conspicuously in his audience, hoping that they would understand that it was time for his massage. Sometimes I even said, ‘Prabhupada, it is time for your massage. He would sometimes ignore me, or sometimes take the hint and manage to have the audience depart. I was always concerned that he start his massage on time, otherwise his lunch would be late, and his whole afternoon schedule would be off.
“He would put on his gamcha and sit on the veranda floor in the late morning sunshine. I would rub mustard seed oil over his body, starting with the top of his head, and he would relax, often with half-closed eyes, and allow his body to rock slightly with the movements of my massaging. It was lush in Bombay, and while sitting, Prabhupada could see the tops of the coconut trees against the blue sky. There were nice tropical breezes, and Prabhupada called it a paradise. ‘Have you ever seen such a lush place?’ he asked, and he would speak of many things, but not as constantly as on the morning walk.
“Once he asked me how many hippies were in America and what they did. He would be silent for long periods and then suddenly ask something that was on his mind. Once he suddenly said, ‘I am not anxious to go to Goloka Vrndavana. I just want to expose all these rascals who pretend to be yogis and svamis.’ Another time he suddenly asked, ‘Where in the world can I go where there will be no visitors and I can simply be alone to write my books?’”
“The Krsna consciousness process is based on philosophy; it is not sentimental or invented by upstarts. Self-proclaimed incarnations of God sometimes foolishly declare that there is no need for scriptures or books and that they will simply bless us with their own perfection. But this kind of crazy talk should be rejected. The spiritual master, or any Krsna conscious person, receives knowledge from the original speaker of the scriptures, Srila Vyasadeva, through his disciplic succession. Those who aspire to be genuine devotees are, therefore, always serious and eager to hear Srimad-Bhagavatam so that they may fix themselves in steady Krsna consciousness.
“Another foolish proposal against the regular hearing of Srimad-Bhagavatam is put forward by the prakrta-sahajiyas, or the pseudodevotees who take devotional service cheaply. ‘Sometimes they give a theatrical performance,’ writes Srila Prabhupada, ‘and cry for the Lord with tears in their eyes. Of course, all scriptural conclusions are washed off by these tears.’ (Cc. Madhya 1.34, purport) Prakrta-sahajiyas sometimes criticize the literary disciples of Lord Caitanya such as Jiva Gosvami, thinking them to be dry speculators for compiling big books of Vaisnava conclusions. But actually the books of the Gosvamis are never speculative; they are filled with valuable krsna-katha and strong arguments against Mayavada speculations. By hearing Srimad-Bhagavatam, a devotee avoids both dry speculation and sentimental fanaticism.”
“Now, your turn. Be happy at it, the
moment under strong desk lamp. Krsna,
not etched so deep perhaps but Krsna,
like a tattoo somewhere. Are you
committed? Will you pass the tests or
fail like the disciple Peter?
“I do not know the man. I don’t go out on
harinama because I get headaches and
ankle ache and am too old for that.
Now-a-years I show my commitment by
writing odes and always the faded saffron
skirt (it looks like) and shaved head—
except in rare instances. And I keep to
myself and don’t follow
“Now, your poem series beginning
without fear. I do this instead of bad
things against the rules of Vaisnavism.
You could make a list. I offer this to
Krsna, not Hitler, Roosevelt, Clinton,
be wise, the year 2000, the club for the
rich, or poor, America, enslavement,
“I don’t do lots of good, brave things. And
many wasteful things I avoid. Keeping the
temper cool. Keeping the boy quiet and calm,
like a flower or plant you hope to
preserve as long as possible in damp
earth in a pot. His day will come.
“Final stanza. Oh fly, Pegasus, to Mount Meru
and beyond. Sing a Vaisnava song like
bhajahu re mana
and if you’ve got a joke let loose and be serious
and prose and fly strong in parampara fly like a
ksatriya’s chariot horse or – your own – go to
Krsna, go to guru.”
“Japa is the first thing I do in the morning, and it sets the tone for the day. It is best when you’re up early, and you’re not rushed. There should be time to chant the mantras in a meditative mood. Radha and Krsna are the focus of the yajna. Their names, forms and pastimes should be the focus of the exercise. It is for Their pleasure, and I am the servant of the names. Nama Prabhu is really Krsna, as good as His form in the spiritual world. Lord Caitanya has emphasized that everything in spiritual life can be accomplished by good chanting. We should be serious about His proposals in Siksastakam and chant with heart and soul. All our faculties should pull to make a good sacrifice in chanting. Just to chant your vow of numerical strength is a great accomplishment, but you should strive to do much better. Overcome reluctance and make it the best part of your day. It is the most important thing. Dear Lord, please give me the inspiration to chant nicely with an unagitated mind. This simple practice in the morning is most precious and should never be neglected. The day evolves around successful chanting of the holy names of the Lord.”
“Today one swami leaves and another arrives.
Jayadvaita Swami goes to Jersey, and Yadunandana
Maharaja arrives from Spain. There is even an outside
chance that Radhanath Swami might visit on
Sunday. Receiving such exalted guests is
enlivening, but it’s also stress. Yesterday during
the reading of Ecclesiastes I got a headache.
I will try to pace myself and meet
with whoever comes. Baladeva has the burden
of arranging special menus.
It’s good to be in New York in the
summer when so many pass through.
Jayadvaita Maharaj noted that I write of Radha-Govinda
every day. I don’t have to travel to the temple in New York
or India or even to the spiritual world. The Divine
Couple have come into my home,
and they keep me with Their darsana. The musical melody
makes it complete. I come close to Them
and observe Their delicate features,
Their a charm for each other. I am
lucky to have Them caring for each other
just inches away from my seat.
I offer incense and pray to Them
in spontaneous words. The entire poem
culminates in seeing Them and telling
you of my fortune. I am too broken-
down to travel and see the various forms
of the Lord around the world, but They
are with me and I am grateful.”
“God you do exist.
The world is full of doubt.
But Prabhupada is not in
the slightest and I am his sisya
walking with him in Hyderabad in ‘74
when he said the world is full
of doubt but following him
I swallow it,
I am now living to the bottom of
this page. Glad the devotees are
in this world and let the world notice them even
though they are often superficial
Goodnight Green Ink Stain,
I’m sorry about that please forgive me.
Tomorrow I’ll try.
“Bird lands on branch night-
flying. Bzzz. A clack of
window blinds against wall
Lecturer said, ‘We talk of
thinking of Krsna at death
but don’t take it seriously.’
I thought, let’s
not keep talking of death, let’s
find an old jazz ballad like
‘Ruby, My Dear’ by T. Monk.
Let’s stye in the eye can ruin
“Death ain’t so bad if you
see it in the right perspective.
As O’Neill wrote wittily for
his gravestone, ‘There’s
something to be said
for being dead.’
Cripes where does it go?
The infinite spirit is also infinitesimal. The small part is us and should be dovetailed.
In service to the Supreme. The nature of islands and ice cream in gelateria. I better get more serious. Some make quips even up to death. But it’s no joke unless you consider it humorous to see yourself go and suffer running on a hot copper plain and thrust into airtight bag in the womb of the next mother. All stories you say? Hinduism? As you like it, go take a chance.
newcomers, I tell you
they will be able to conduct
this Krishna consciousness movement even
after I’m gone.
The old guy who wrote
will shuffle off the stage
in his worn-down bed slippers.
Dig his jive,
his avid thirst??? for reading fanned
him with chamary chamara
while he fell asleep and
everyone took advantage
sinking his USS Sheffield
with a single meteor inside
that hit his brain.
what was you thinkin’ of
at the time of Death?
No teeth/pilot pen/business class/a last laugh/Kennedy Space Center, space suit. /Last conversations of Thérèse of Lisieux. One of her hands holds the other. She says, “I want to go to God and pray. I want Him to be happy, want to uh…Bless all souls to love Him as I do!” Such an ecstatic girl even in suffering. But Srila Prabhupada in Hyderabad said the Bible has only a little love of God, a little info. Some saints took it a long way.
“When I turn the desk lamp on tiny
bugs shower from nowhere onto
pages, hand, desk top, desktop, more and more
like snow falling so you can turn the light
“Mayapur. Letters keep coming to my desk.
‘I usually don’t tell you the details of my
life, but . . .’ 12 pages, 7 pages, 10 pages…
“Our parikrama is planned. I told Maharaja I
will have to come back early, can’t hack it
8, 10 hours a day as he’s planned.
“He tells me he’s planning a film
He’s also sorry how splinter groups take
advantage of ISKCON. I listen without
blinking but my mind goes now to the
new typewriter—Canon Typestar—a devotee
brought from America. I’m thinking,
‘Let me carry it like a “Deity”’ – no the
machine isn’t a divine murti but it’s my
holy bhajana for praising Gaura-Nitai,
holy name and the ravings.
Quotes the raving ‘nevermore.’
Keep on writing wherever you go and
carry it in your bulky bag.
Parikrama sounds great. My Godbrother
Bengal and learned and loves the lilas. I’ll be
along to say, ‘Chant Hare Krsna,’
said,’ and adjust my ankle brace and
‘head aids’ and digestive aids and checking my
relaxation pulse in head and the scorpion
and tender feet.
“I like that opening poem in Pictures from
Brueghel by WCW. It’s a self-portrait
of Brueghel and ends with a 3-liner
‘blond beard half-trimmed
no time for any-
thing but his painting.’
Poems like that in Krsna consciousness,
portraits of Vaisnavas, parikramas, with
that observing eye and clean elegant lines
divided at the right point by a poet
who knows what he’s doing. Wouldn’t
it be nice?
Life in this room, rapid fan. Small bags. Sound of kirtana from the temple, Damodarastakam. I don’t dare go down. When I stand in the temple some young Indian devotee, out of formal respect for me comma will start pushing away anyone who is standing in front of me. They clear a whole path, five people deep, so no one stands between me and the Deity. Then people start looking at me, the special person they are being asked to step aside for. No use asking the young devotee not to do it because if he doesn’t, someone else will. That’s how they are trained.
You fall for it
think yourself special
and you’ll come back next life
to take a position of power.
Fall for it and become a bug
next time. Be a word
pusher…a poet, a bug
a movie producer,
a king, a politician, in any
material form it’s suffering.
When are you gonna wake
up and start chanting?
The fan, the fan…
Disciples to the left and right.
“My master carries me across. Be kind to others. Tell them, ‘Here is your sandwich on monk’s bread made in New York State. Taste how firm it is. With Skippy’s crunchy peanut butter and some good jam or strawberry jelly.’ You okay? Are you okay or what’s wrong?
“Cross-eyed I’m not. Right now Okay in head. But you don’t know me!
You don’t care to know me
I don’t care to tell you
and neither can I express – It’s
like Viraha? Maybe – some symptoms of ennui
express (NYC Greenwich Village espresso café)
“Wrought and sport and splayed out Village Voice, Jackie McClean McLean on alto sax at Living Theater with Freddie Redd. Read.
Them were the days,
“John Young smoking cigarettes which I never did, clouding up my room and beer unto at end of night I had to turn on the Vornado fan to high exhaust and get it all out before I could sleep sick and sad
“but happy energy of youth to be able to hear Miles Davis in the morning. I am making this up. I had little time, rose at 6 A.M. (mother too, off to Manhattan, her job at Chase Manhattan) and study and travel to Brooklyn College, you doing okay…
“Cope, Cope, COPE
“I’m not the same person – yet am I not? So, now . . . A Big Spiritual Master. If this is true of me that I say crap I say it may be true of you. Would like to go from head to heart in and chant holy names.”
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…
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…
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.