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 [email protected] (518) 754-1108
I have my talk lined up for Vyasa-puja day. Some of my disciples have been reminding me of early memories I have of my relationship with Srila Prabhupada, so I have dictated about six of them, and I’ll read them to the devotees. I think they’ll enjoy hearing them, and I certainly enjoy telling them again.
Then I’ll talk about my books. I’ll say we published three new books just for the occasion of Vyasa-puja. One is called The Best I Could Do. It’s free writing, but it’s completely Krsna conscious. I’ll read a section from that book. Then I have two new reprints of my haiku books, which have been out of print for many years. One is Under the Banyan Tree, which tells about my early relationship coming to Srila Prabhupada. The other book is The Dust of Vrndavana, which I wrote in Vrndavana, India. I would go out every morning “hunting for haikus.” I wrote about the brijbasis, the animals, and the feeling of being in Vrndavana, all in the format of haiku poems. We printed 80 copies of these books, and so we’ll be able to distribute them at bargain prices. There are other books also available, which John Endler is setting up in an elaborate, attractive book table. Many of our books completely sold out last July 3rd. But we discovered we have a good collection of the novel Write and Die.
It’s been eight months since Baladeva and I have received our vaccinations against COVID.
We received them from the chemical company Moderna. Now the news is that Moderna has been approved to give booster shots, and that people who have received one vaccine are advised to get a booster. I want to get a booster, so I’m asking Baladeva to look into it as to where and when we can get them. I’m thinking that the booster will provide extra protection. There’s a strong case for saying it’s all up to karma, but there is also a strong case for being responsible and doing whatever you can to protect your health.
In our out-loud reading, we are hearing about Lord Caitanya’s visit to Vrndavana. When He was elsewhere, just the mention of the word “Vrndavana” put Him into ecstasy. When He was actually on the road to Vrndavana, that ecstasy increased many times. But when He finally entered Vrndavana, His ecstasy increased millions of times. He visited the holy places of Vrndavana with His trusted assistant, Ballabha Bhattacarya. But unfortunately there were many crowds of people who followed the Lord, making a great tumult and approaching Ballabha Bhattacarya with invitations for Lord Caitanya to take prasadam at their house. The crowds disturbed Caitanya Mahaprabhu, and He tried to find solitude in solitary places. Several times He jumped into the Yamuna, and Ballabha Bhattacarya had to pull Him out to save His life. Ballabha Bhattacarya talked with another intimate devotee of Lord Caitanya’s, and they discussed that it was not good for Lord Caitanya to stay in Vrndavana. They proposed that He go on a boat on the Ganges and travel to Prayag and be there in time for the Magha-mela. When Lord Caitanya heard this request, He had no desire to leave Vrndavana, but He submitted to the desires of His devotees. Before the crowds ruined it for Him, Lord Caitanya had a period in Vrndavana where He was able to visit the holy places in peace in the company of a disciple of Madhavendra Puri. But once the crowds began to overwhelm Him, it became too difficult to stay in Vraja dhama. While He was there, Lord Caitanya enjoyed unlimited pastimes. He discovered the lost places of Radha-kunda and Syama-kunda and had the darsana of the Gopala Deity, who came down from the top of Govardhana Hill just so that Lord Caitanya could see Him.
Our big tulasis that were outside for the warm weather—and enjoying and thriving in the sunshine—have now come indoors, and they are losing their leaves. If you just shake the plant a little, a tumble of leaves fall off. All we can offer them is water and grow light. Baladeva thinks they’ll survive and grow new leaves, and that it’s just a temporary shock of their new environment, which is less than ideal. We have to brace for the many months ahead of cold weather and no direct sunshine. Prabhupada said, “The tulasi is the barometer of your devotion.” We give her our devotion, but we cannot stop her from losing leaves due to the shock of change.
Yesterday there was a violent dogfight in Stuyvesant Falls. Our mild-mannered neighbor, Bob, gives his little poodle, Carol, a daily walk on a leash. But yesterday, the usual calm walk was interrupted when a neighbor, Bosco, released his dog, who is a pit bull, and the dog ran and attacked the little poodle. He picked him up in his mouth and claws and gripped him and didn’t let him go. Finally Bob kicked the pit bull in its side, and the dog finally dropped the poodle and just stood there looking at Bob and Carol. Bob’s wife was screaming, and other neighbors were upset. The event threw Bob into a trail of musings about why this had happened. He said he pretty much knew why “bad things happen to good people,” and that he had lived in Manhattan for over forty years and never experienced any violence like this, and he never expected it in the so-called peaceful countryside of Stuyvesant Falls. Baladeva Vidyabhusana talked with Bob for half an hour, and they both conjectured that it was Carol’s bad karma. Maybe in her past life she was a pit bull and had attacked a poodle.
The attack was over so quickly that there was nothing anyone could do. Bob, his wife and the poodle were all severely traumatized. A devotee would not have been so, but he would have seen it philosophically according to Krsna’s teachings in Bhagavad-gita. Deep down, Bob actually knew what had happened, but emotionally he couldn’t come to terms with it. The poodle had puncture wounds and a tear that required stitches. The pit bull owner paid for it and apologized, but made it clear that he wasn’t going to chain up his dog.
After lunch, Krishna Kripa was talking of his experience in Govardhana and Vrndavana. He said on the anniversary of Radha-kunda’s Appearance, he was feeling sick and planning not to go out. But Dina Bandhu made an announcement that the congregational chanting held at midnight on the appearance of Radha-kunda is the most auspicious of all. So Krishna Kripa went in spite of his illness. He said it’s dangerous because there are so many people circumambulating the pond you can easily get separated from your party and get lost. This led to talks about Govardhana. Baladeva said Krsna’s lifting of the hill was His “coming out of the closet” and showing He was God. Usually in Krsna’s childhood pastimes, when He does something miraculous, all the elders don’t believe that the child did it Himself, but it was the protection of Visnu, or something else. But when the seven-year-old boy personally appeared before all the residents of Vrndavana and lifted up Govardhana Hill on the pinkie of His left hand, they could not deny that it was Krsna Himself and that He had extraordinary supernatural power. Someone told an anecdote from The Nectar of Devotion where the cowherd boys say they don’t want Krsna to tire His arm from lifting the hill. They suggest they can massage His hand or He should shift hands and give relaxation to the hand that’s lifting up the hill. All these talks were appropriate because we’re approaching Govardhana Puja in a week. But we’re wondering how to celebrate it in these COVID-restricted days.
Baladeva told me he was going to mow the lawn first and then he could come in and assist me on working at the Journal. I sat upstairs waiting impatiently and listening to the sound of the lawnmower outside. I don’t like it when he does this, puts his priorities ahead of mine. My first priority is to get the Journal done. So I’m giving him a citation and telling him not to do this. He should do my business first and then do the service that he’s planned afterwards.
After lunch the Fidelis nurse arrived. She first spoke with Baladeva. He had to spend two and a half hours with her. Then she came upstairs to interview me. She gave me three words to remember: “apple,” “dog,” “table.” Several minutes later, she asked me to repeat them to her, and I did it successfully. She asked me my name and my birthdate. She asked me who the president of the United States was, and I couldn’t remember. I read a newsmagazine every week, but I couldn’t remember Joe Biden. She asked me what he looks like, and I said he had a thin face and she was satisfied with that. She asked me other particular questions, and I had to sign my signature on three or four pages. It was quite an ordeal, especially for Baladeva. Usually her interview takes less time, but she was having a bad day. She couldn’t get her computer to work, and she couldn’t remember the questions to ask me.
In my interview with the Fidelis nurse, she asked me who was the U.S. president. I couldn’t remember. I told her he had a thin face, and she seemed to be satisfied with that. But there’s much more I could have told her about him. He pulled out all the U.S. troops from Afghanistan, and the Taliban, a radical right-wing Muslim group, has taken over the country. The country is in chaos. The president’s popularity ratings have tumbled down. But I couldn’t remember his name. Later I remembered it, old Uncle Joe: Joe Biden. So what’s the benefit of reading the newsmagazine if you can’t even remember the name of the president? If I was really into it, I would read the magazine longer than ten minutes, but I’m detached.
Tomorrow I have two appointments with doctors back-to-back in the late morning. I’ll take breakfast early. Then in the late afternoon I’m scheduled to get a booster vaccination. I told the devotees while we were having our out-loud reading that tomorrow I’m canceling all readings, morning and afternoon, because of all this medical work. It’s very tiring.
“I first heard of Vyasadeva the day I bought Swamiji’s three volumes of the First Canto. Swamiji explained to me that these were Vyasadeva’s books to which he had written a commentary. It’s right there in the front matter of his Indian edition: ‘Srimad-Bhagavatam of Krsna-Dvaipayana Vyasa.’
“Vyasadeva is a friend of the family, like Narada and Prahlada—a great devotee and incarnation. Only later did I hear that Vyasadeva was considered ‘ugly’ and that he had a dark complexion, that he was so ugly that women were afraid of him. That doesn’t deter us from loving him and feeling gratitude. He’s beautiful as he shines forth in the Bhagavatam, the original writer.
“I went to Prabhupada one night and told him I’ve been reading about Vyasadeva in his Srimad-Bhagavatam and that I found it interesting that Vyasadeva was a writer but wasn’t satisfied with what he had written. Prabhupada’s eyes widened in appreciation because I was speaking about such a sublime subject, although I really didn’t know what I was talking about. Fortunately I had stumbled into the world of the Bhagavatam, and without knowing what it was, felt charmed and attracted by the ‘writer.’
“Yeah, I thought I knew what it was like to have writer’s blues like Vyasadeva. You write and write and you think you have done something good, but still you feel morose. I thought I understood Vyasadeva.
“Prabhupada, just to hear even in the broken language of a child the mentioning of Vyasadeva, opened his eyes wide and smiled. I wish I could always please him by speaking Bhagavatam, even though I still stumble like a baby, still mispronounce the Sanskrit, and still don’t know what I’m talking about. I suppose I am expected to be grown up now.
“Anyway, all glory to Srila Vyasadeva, the literary incarnation of God, and all glories to his Srimad-Bhagavatam, which is perfect, complete, and eternal.”
“I can turn everyone into a devotee by painting tilaka on their foreheads. That’s all I know how to do. Krsna eyes the world in that way. Draw them in dhotis and a few pious, chaste women in saris. To hell with karmis; neither associate with them nor love the demons. It’s all right to live in that way.
“I want bhakti-rasa and krsna-kirtana to read and be sustained. Vyasadeva wrote.
“Here’s a picture of Vyasadeva:
“Bhakti-jana raised his hand after a lecture in the Allston storefront in 1968. He asked Prabhupada, ‘What about Rabindranath Tagore? Is he a nice poet?’
“Prabhupada answered, ‘He’s nice for the mundane. We’re interested in poets like Vyasadeva and Valmiki.’”
“A desperate hornet is spinning around this room, hitting against walls, chair legs, and curtains. Otherwise it’s quiet.
“O hornet, it’s your last hour.
You knock violently against the
curtain, come right in front of me,
but I can’t help you.
I’ve got my own worries.
Here comes head pressure.
Let me finish what
I’m saying, while the hornet
flashes no prayer.
“Krsna and Balarama masked as humans . . .
Did They wear children’s masks
made of flowers and twigs and colored
minerals from the hill?
Krsna and Balarama racing ahead,
the cowherd boys in pursuit—
‘I will be the first to touch Him!’
“Krsna and Balarama,
words, words, to impel me
to Their lotus feet,
Their chests, eyes, Their
‘What kind of a big man are you?’
“Play, and when a
demon comes, turn to Krsna
nervous but confident—‘Even
if this snake statue is actually
a demon desiring to swallow us,
Krsna and Balarama will kill him.
We need not fear.’
Throw the dhenuka demons
by the hind legs up into the trees.
Break the beak of the giant duck.
Pulverize the bull and horse demons.
‘O mothers and fathers, please
hear what Krsna and Balarama
did today in the forest.
The giant duck came and Krsna bifurcated
‘Oh? Krsna is so wonderful?
Come bathe and eat your meal.’
“Krsna ate dirt. Balarama will
Balarama, please go at once and
give protection to Your brother. He
has gone alone to the Yamuna and we
are feeling evil omens.
Do not worry, Baladeva smiles,
there is nothing to fear even if
the Kaliya serpent with a hundred heads
catches Krsna in his coils. It’s
just a game of His to increase
our love. We have nothing
but Krsna and He wants to draw out
our devotion more and more.
Even I am Their devotee
by the grace of their devotee
who erected their temple
in a Raman Reti field.”
figure skater friend of my sister,
Oh sweet Adeline,
your past is a sugar-coated joke
wooden chapel you attended
“Why didn’t you write more
memories in this book?
To save them for future volumes.
“I’ve been happy to be in India
and the ants are running wild over
the planks on the desk,
‘My desk,’ I almost said.
My time, my life, my book.
As Time He owns us and destroys
the material we call our own.
O Krsna, You are a heavy cutter.
Please deliver us to safety.
May we chant Hare Krsna and be
relieved, shorn number
“O Lord Krsna, I should have written
more and better.
Now You’re not giving me much time.
Do You like it this way?
What if I took a painkiller?
Would that go against
Your plan to give me pain?
I don’t mean to say it that way.
You’ll do whatever You’ll do
with me and there’s no way I can
get around it.
I say yes to whatever You
But please let me serve You
life after life. Let me attain
sincere and spontaneous devotional service.”
“She then prepared a blazing fire with firewood and placed the dead body of her husband upon it. When this was finished, she lamented severely and prepared herself to perish in the fire with her husband. (Srimad-Bhagavatam 4.28.50)
“Here is the essential meaning of being devoted to the spiritual master: you are ready to give your life. That may mean that you give up your life immediately or that you give your life by serving the spiritual master throughout your whole lifetime. Either way, you are giving your whole life-energy when the spiritual master asks. Some people take a spiritual master as a pet—as some people keep a dog —just so they can say, ‘Yes, I have a guru.’ But the real meaning is that the spiritual master’s order is the disciple’s life and soul.
“Once a disciple accepts a spiritual master, he has nothing to think about or wonder about except carrying out the spiritual master’s orders. We have the example of the wives of the Pandavas. Although Queen Kunti did not enter the funeral fire of her husband, she did not live on simply for sense gratification. She would have died with her husband, but to live on and take care of the children was more important service. That is chastity. Similarly, now that Srila Prabhupada has departed, the only reason we should live on is to use our body to serve him. The chaste widow does not start thinking about other men. (Of course, women nowadays are even glad when the husband dies—they want to collect the insurance. Or very soon they are thinking of another man. But in Vedic culture this is abominable. Marriage is a lifelong contract.) Of course, we are not as concerned with the husband-and-wife contract as we are with the relationship between the spiritual master and the disciple. Real loyalty and faithfulness means that this body, which was engaged in serving the spiritual master when he was present, must continue in that way. Otherwise, I should die. This applies to all of us. In the past you may have entertained the idea of using your body for sense gratification, but now, just the thought of Srila Prabhupada’s not being here should be an added impetus to check that desire.”
“Srila Prabhupada urges that we should chant the Hare Krsna mantra with love, and Bhaktivinoda Thakura advises that we must give up pramada or we are not even chanting the real names. But how can we actually blast through the mountain of indifference and lethargy and reach the pure land of the holy name? The answer is that we have to work for it, and beg for the mercy of the holy name. (Bhaktivinoda Thakura, in Saranagati, declares, ‘I will beg, borrow or steal the mellows of the name of Hari.’) After taking good advice, we have to face our own selves, and face the Hare Krsna mantra and chant and hear. It is hard work, tapasya, but for the best cause. Srila Prabhupada has said, ‘An easygoing life and Krsna consciousness don’t go well together,’ and that is certainly true of japa-yajna for one who is still plagued by the ten offenses. I will discuss more of the details of this struggle in the fifth chapter, ‘Difficulties in Prayer.’ For now, let us agree that we will never give up trying to improve our chanting, even when it seems hopeless.
“It is, of course, very difficult to control the mind. Entire systems of yoga and meditation, with their complicated and austere steps of progress, are aimed at stilling the god-like powers of the fickle mind. Yet we are told, ‘Chant and hear and you will control the mind by the name of Krsna.’ Sometimes it sounds too simple. We try it and find the mind still roving through the universe. Nevertheless, we must not doubt or give up in this endeavor, but continue with determination. As Lord Krsna says, ‘From wherever the mind wanders due to its flickering and unsteady nature, one must certainly withdraw it and bring it back under the control of the self.’ (Bg. 6.26)
“Did we think it would be easier? Did we imagine we would become almost as good as Haridasa Thakura within a few years? It is not so easy after all, let us show Krsna that we really do want the nectar of this service and are willing to pay any price.”
“ . . . The people with whom we are obliged to spend time often talk about things we don’t always care to hear. Invariably, people are troubled, and there is nothing much you can do for them except hear them out and suggest to them what you are trying to do yourself: surrender to Krsna. You want to help, of course, but there is not much you can do.
“So being alone, even temporarily, is something that I very much like. When I’m ‘alone’ I try to think of Radha and Krsna and what Prabhupada has instructed. For example, this morning while chanting japa I was able to look at the picture of Radha and Krsna. I was not alone; I was focused on Them.
“They say the weather has been nice for the past two months—hardly any rain. But wouldn’t you know it? Now it’s raining and the sky is dark. It’s summer, so the sky usually lightens early. It’s wonderful, isn’t it? These mornings of early light come at no other time of the year. It’s such a luxury. And the trick to appreciating all these wonderful things is not to fall into sense gratification, but to serve Krsna in every situation, taking whatever is there and using it in His service.
“Although this is a season of early light and precious days, the winter has its special features too, like the appetite you have for hot meals and the quietness of the snow. But if I had my choice, I would take this season of early light and wildflowers.
“I returned from my walk to a little desk that my host has provided. It’s one of those secretary desks that fold out, not really enough for a writer who gathers so many books around him and spreads out notebooks and manuscripts and other desk clutter. At least the desk is solid, not shaky. And there’s a desk lamp. After my walk I sit here trying to express to you something of my experience.”
“The objects of this world seem friendly enough, but they are a wall against the spiritual world. They catch your attention and sometimes deceive you—you think they are satisfying in and of themselves.
“Our movements in this world are hindered in so many ways. A breeze turns the pages of Saranagati and you lose your place. This writing table slants downward. Cars beep their horns as they pass your sacred spot. You can’t think of anything to say.
“I wish I were like an angel, a singer, who could recite Krsna’s pastimes in a beautiful voice. I don’t really know what I want. But I have faith. I think I want to be myself and express that self in writing. At the same time, I want to be a protected devotee, protected by my masters.
“When I look up, all I see is two wilted irises and the VW on the front of Sridama’s car.”
“Question: ‘In Kali-yuga if you intend to do the right thing, that’s counted as truth, even if you don’t actually do it. And if you think wrong but don’t do it physically, it’s not held against you. So why do you emphasize the inner state of an act?’
“Answer: There is a concession in Kali-yuga, but the mind is so strong that if you think of cheating, soon you’ll will to cheat and feel like a cheater. Then you will actually do it. The concession is an aid to right behavior for weak persons; it is not to be taken as normal behavior that one can think evil thoughts but say, ‘It’s okay, I’m not doing it.’
“Especially worship and service must go beyond the mechanical acts. It has to be done from the heart and with thought. Maharaja Bharata fell down by thinking of his deer, even while the sage continued to perform his rituals. Prabhupada writes:
“‘Even though he was engaged in worshiping the Deity, his mind was restless due to his inordinate affection. While trying to meditate, he would simply think of the deer, wondering where it had gone. In other words, if one’s mind is distracted from worship, a mere show of worship will not be of any benefit.’ (emphasis added)
—Bhag. 5.8.14, purport”
“Calcutta was Prabhupada’s hometown, and even in the 1970s, when he had ISKCON centers in major cities all over the world, his visits to ISKCON Calcutta brought all friends and acquaintances to see him. One evening he was sitting in his room with old family friends from the Mahatma Gandhi Road neighborhood where he had grown up. They insisted that he come and visit the Radha-Govinda temple. Although it was almost 10:00 p.m., Prabhupada suddenly decided to go, and so he traveled by car, along with some of his western disciples. As he passed his old neighborhood, he pointed out the house where he was raised as a child and the spot where he used to purchase kites. At the Govindaji temple, relatives came forward, embracing him and touching his feet. Old and young surrounded him, smiling and chatting in Bengali. Prabhupada then went before the Deity of Govinda, whom he had worshiped from the beginning of his life. ‘Practically everything I have done,’ he explained to his disciples, ‘is by the grace of Radha-Govinda.’ He recalled his original Ratha-yatras up and down Mahatma Gandhi Road, and how his father paid for the festivals. Prabhupada said that the same spirit he had imbibed here he was now carrying on throughout the world in Ratha-yatras and by establishing many Radha-Govindajis all over the world.”
“Vrndavana is cold this time of year. I’m afraid of the next eye twinge developing. Vrndavana is an adventure that I’m not up to. I can hardly venture out of this room to explore. I am . . . less than a grain of sand here, but somehow I’m caught in the tide of those who come from around the world.
“Back to thinking of traveling in the van. So many ifs. If the European Economic Community allows my much-stamped and faded American passport through, and if the van holds up—if Europe holds up, and our travel money and the ISKCON temples’ welcome and any excuses I need to get out on the road . . .
“A friend and Godbrother asked me to side with him in a controversy. I declined. If I get into a jam of my own doing, I shouldn’t ask a friend to take my side either. At least not if I have to make politics. Allow Krsna to judge. Another lesson: I don’t appear to be in favor of covering up a wrong, so if I do a wrong I ought to tell it.
“Eyes on ISKCON and on me. How will I act? Will I join those who think it’s best to cover up a scandal? They may be morally right, but others will criticize their actions. As a sannyasi I wish to remain aloof.”
“Our prayer life is already with us. This reminds me of something Prabhupada said to Hayagriva. Hayagriva asked Prabhupada if LSD could enhance his spiritual life. Prabhupada told him that his spiritual life was already here. We simply have to give ourselves in prayer a chance to realize that we are already Krsna conscious. Krsna will reveal Himself to us when we reveal our vulnerability to Him. We have to become honest and put aside our illusions. We can do all this by hearing Krsna speak through the Bhagavad-gita, but in order to hear, we have to stop talking long enough to listen.
“Another important point is that solitude doesn’t mean avoiding people’s problems. It does mean being apart from others, but it is a way to better be with people—you go alone and discover your compassion in prayer. Solitude leaves you aware of the world’s needs.”
“I pray to You from ground zero. Please pick me up. Show me a glimpse of Your mercy in Your holy names. Let my mind wander under Your auspicious influence to that of Your wondrous pastimes and Your desire to include me. O ocean of mercy, I am a dry, stranded stick. Please splash me with a drop of nectar and revive for me. I used to be Your intimate servant, didn’t I? Haven’t I fallen by misuse of free will, and can’t I return to You by the direction of Your saints and Your internal potency? I pray as the great devotees do: ‘I am the most fallen, so please prove Your characteristic of kindness upon the most fallen and make Your claim as patita-pavana to be true. Otherwise, Your name will be wasted.”
“Yadubara wants to film him all day.
Brahmananda says, ‘Don’t bother, because
his real life is what he speaks.
Otherwise, there’s not much to see.’
The filmmaker doesn’t agree.
‘Does Prabhupada mind if I film?’
At least one time he remarked,
‘They are always filming,’
as if he thought his activities weren’ t worth it.
“There’s a film of Prabhupada in his room
at 26 Second Avenue.
You see his hand gestures,
and he’s murmuring japa the whole time,
wearing a turtleneck jersey
and a cardigan sweater.
I’d rather see that film
than one of Abraham Lincoln
speaking the Gettysburg Address.
On the beach his cane is poking holes,
his canvas shoes leave prints.
For his breakfast, hot cereal with fruits;
you carry it up on a silver tray,
“Your prayer should not be brief, like the visitor who stays as long as it takes to milk a cow. You should stand vigilantly before God with His name in your heart perpetually. Awaken! You do not know when the thief may come in the night and steal away your life. Stay awake praying with the master. He moans and groans and finally rejoices. Sthayi-bhava, maha-bhava—who can even know these things but a maha-bhagavata? From the ground you watch the comets in the sky flashing by, and you hear of their names: Radharani, Advaita, Sridama. Great stars in the firmament of love of God, possessing prema, unable to think of anything but Krsna for a moment . . .
“Mother Yasoda thinks that her Krsna has not shown her the universal form but that it is something else, but she never forgets Krsna. She fears something may be wrong with her child. She embraces Him and loves Him and takes Him to her breast. Maharaja Nanda is concerned. He pats his son on the head. They never get outside their parental rasa . . . And you?
“Do you ever get out of your entanglement in the modes of nature? Have you ever prayed to please Krsna, the bhakta-vatsala? Have you ever discovered that His greatest quality is to be inclined to you?”
“We are high up in a woods clearing with a great view of thousands of acres of pines. When we were unpacking our gear, the motor home still at a tilt, Madhu said, ‘Did you see Mount Rainier?’ Mount Rainier? What was he talking about? I looked out to the same place I had looked before, in the sky over the trees, and the mountaintop appeared.
“‘It’s like seeing Krsna!’ I exclaimed.
“‘We couldn’t see it before because of the mist.’
“I thought of a poet who once bowed down at the sight of a mountain—the external manifestation of God’s power.
“Recently I had asked a disciple, a resident of Vrndavana who was going to the Himalayas, to find out if one could ascend the mountain to Badrinath without walking, since my arthritic left foot has made me lame. I received this letter:
“‘It is so lonely and serene up there, surrounded totally by snow-covered mountains. One feels that one has reached the end of the earthly planet. That place is four thousand meters above sea level. It is a strange feeling. But I don’t know, I didn’t feel very close to God up there, as I do in Vrndavana. All you see there is His majesty, but not His personal feature as Krsna.’
“‘Actually, you don’t need to go to all these places because they are all present in vraja-mandala. Vrndavana and devotional service to Radha-Krsna are the highest.’
“But we travel away from Vrndavana. For preaching, a devotee may leave Vrndavana while keeping Vrndavana in his heart.”
“You mean blue jays and chipped tooth, the puberty ruined it all. I can’t tell even in these pages, it’s too low down how puberty ruined my innocence.
But you were a punk corrupt even before that, slave to tongue sucking on ice popsicles and iced tea and pudding and blackberries
I mean wow Mommy, not old Catherine Sullivan, but Momma Earth, Momma Vedas, Take your son on your lap,
Momma Lord Caitanya You also gave Your breast milk to all devotees
I am suffering in roundabout way in separation
from the half moon
LOVE – PEACE
“But said maybe English
is inadequate for RASA
I don’t know RASA
Srila Prabhupada praised English, said Hindi is for fanatics.
English for world-wide preaching,
But feelings in gut aren’t English or French or Guarino,
small of back
Oh! Ah! Ow!
I howl (Ginsberg)
‘My barbaric yawp’
I can’t tell you how I feel just now
Not a cat in alley
or violin from his gut string
“It’s the mix of all these in my life, the mix and force
of all of it whereas
I am confused
And rather be alone
But it’s your fault you came to this world
you can’t BE God
people are suffering
from far worse than your
mild petulant moods.
Help them by tellin’ Krsna consciousness.
Okay, soldier your rifle
cover up your Druthers
and march as you’re supposed to
“Krsna Krsna Krsna
Epics and comics
I want to be good and clear and clean
but got to blow steam here goes
belch sparrow tram have
“America. My Godbrother is making a movie.
“The lights just went out at 2:45 A.M.
“Goshes Goshes I continue writing by flashlight
and bugs jump, in the spotlight hundreds!
I’ll write here later. Thank you for the feeling of
“When you don’t for half a day, then you lose touch and it’s harder to write again. Especially the permission to express yourself and the access to your feelings. You get covered up and I don’t think that’s good. I write to clear away the constant ‘snow.’
“I am facing Lord Nrsimha. I ask Him now to
drive out bad thoughts from my heart.
“When I went into the bathroom at 3 A.M. this morning, when the moment I actually put the light on, bugs just started pouring in. The sink basin became filled with them and they were bouncing off my body. I turned off the light to take my shower and toilet duty that way. But then I had to put on the light for other services like putting on tilaka and dressing. Again, the bugs started bouncing and I also started jumping around and exclaiming.
“Tomorrow we’ll try a new strategy of just completely closing the windows because the bugs are coming right through the screens. Prabhupada talks about in his lectures, how in Mayapur during the night these creatures are born and live and die in one night and how in the morning you see heaps and heaps of bodies. Sometimes when I heard the lecture, I felt perhaps he was exaggerating when he said that there were thousands and thousands of bugs and heaps and heaps of bodies in the morning and that you could sweep them away. But now I see it’s true. Why don’t I take Prabhupada literally true on face value all the time? Just a matter of time before you find out that what he says is true.
“Six reels of joy! Charlie Chaplin in The Kid
with Jackie Coogan.
The little tramp. the vamp, the
He can play okay bass,
drums or without
fliver a car finds,
make it clear – I heard
you shout-whisper, ‘I
am Prabhupada’s man,’ and
you dropped names like WCW
in your lecture to show (off)
that you are a literary ass.
“W.B. Yeats on new gold coin
on postage stamp from Eire.
Take time to read gossip
and reply, ‘Material life is
all woe and husbands and wives
break up like this in your case
but I have only this to say –
chant and hear, turn to the Lord
who never fails. Can’t you see it?’
“But they might say what about you?
Dr. Radhakrishnan asked our
Swami, ‘Why don’t you write in
Hindi?’ He replied, ‘What language
do you write in?’ The doctor laughed.
Wayne Shorter. Jazz names like
blips and photos of them Bala gave
me, Dizzie John Burks Gillespie
in his 75th year. Old be-bopper
dies in his plaid knee socks
and can’t play twisted horn.
“Come and go like insects you might
as well collect photos of them
like little jazz musician crickets
in a big band blowin’
in the Nadia Night
blues of Nature in sacred
mysterious land – Don’t say
it’s different than Vrndavana.
“‘How come you so silent, man?’
“Oh, because I’m special. My brain doesn’t work well. I want to be seen as excellent but when a fool speaks you’ll know he’s not special, just struggling on the relative plane and so his silence isn’t so deep. Another gob (sailor), another jarhead,
another year in the GBC hall
leave the room and wait by the rail, to
your secretary, ‘Get out of
here. Let’s go and preach next
year or stay at Gita-nagari.’
Wail at the rail balustrade
moon of Mayapur and masses
of people near Gaura-Purnima,
‘Get me out of here.’ But the
secretary can’t do it, not in
his powers. You are trapped in
this world of Durga by your
own desires to enjoy.
Woman too. Dreamt one leaned against me for sex and she led me on, I try to woo her or be detached, the male-female game. Wake up wondering why or ‘Still it goes’ so how can you expect to worship the Transcendental Rogue surrounded by eight gopis plus the Chief One? He says we are meant to worship Radharani, and Lord Caitanya taught us this. I thought, ‘It’s all abstract, it doesn’t mean a thing. Not a damned thing. It’s all bluff, at least with me.’
“Give me a house in the country where I can be true. I won’t give up gayatri or shaved head
“I am a member of the crazy cult and must die a member.
“‘Future generations may improve.’ Convinced she was going back to Godhead.
“I said I don’t know – and me, after all, I am honest and salute thee, so if I don’t know Krsna and gayatri and radha-bhava, then how can you?
“Ink Spots in the 1940s sing, ‘I’d climb the highest mountain’ – no cinema songs, but it’s a perverted reflection
which Vickers and
the Ballroom Free
Sats so thin tho he eats sweets and long, old, sad
Don’t sing or dance
Walks out on kirtana over five minutes and twenty-
one decibels why?
“‘The Old Man Who Does As He Pleases’ – I’d like to.
I don’t yet. Hey.
“‘Who is the Church head you follow, your Gee Bee
“I would like kirtana in a safe, secluded house. Why not with Madhu and Arjuna just like that and we sing. You could even record it, Our kirtana alone in fine time not harassed by
Haribol jivers and big whomper karatalas in your face
—shove mic in your mouth
O Nee tie Gaura.
“Palm trees, gum trees, insects attack the delicate flesh and all knowledge can fall from you in a second just as long as it takes to cut off the head of a goat and hold it up in front of you
“It’s almost a cliché to say that Mayapur isn’t as intense as Vrndavana. I think it’s me who likes the intensity and receptivity. And that’s a cliché also.
“Maybe when you are away from here you can remember early mornings, the big room in TKG’s suite darkened with a light projecting into it from a next-door room. The large portrait of Nityananda and then beside it Lord Caitanya painted by Mayapur artists. I chant back and forth between my newly returned Prabhupada murti. Waiting for something to happen? Knowing it won’t happen? Pondering about ‘it,’ what kind of breakthrough do I expect? What is lacking? Being in India is the same as being anywhere else? Where am I anyway, in mental space?
“A devotee here gave me this verse printed on a card like a placemark, ‘I praise Sri Mayapur, where a dabbler who walks down many paths at once, a fool, one who has rejected proper religious duty, an independent person who will not follow the rules of the scriptures, a person who has not the slightest scent of the touch of the Supreme Personality of Godhead, and those who live here only out of lust and greed, all attain the Supreme destination.’ (Srila Prabodhananda Sarasvati, Sri Navadvipa-sataka, text 39)”
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.