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 Lecture
11:00 – 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
Today I had three medical appointments. In the late morning I went to Columbia Memorial Hospital and had appointments with Dr. Mabin and Dr. Subudhi. Dr. Mabin examined the compression abcess (bedsores) on my right hip. He was satisfied that they were healing. We have been giving them a daily treatment of applying Vitamin E oil. We had to wait a long time in a crowded waiting room to see the doctor. Then we saw Dr. Subudhi. We gave him a sample of urine, and his assistant did an ultrasound on my bladder to see if I was retaining any urine. The doctor said it was all right. He said I should keep taking the same dosage of pills. So the waits were long, but the interviews with the doctors went swiftly.
We got back home in time for lunch and were joined by Baladeva’s sister Kathi, who is always fun to be with. At 5:00 P.M. I have another appointment at the CVS pharmacy. I’m scheduled to receive a booster vaccine for COVID.
Kathi told us three of her friends recently took booster vaccines. Two of them had adverse reactions and took Tylenol, and then the reactions were subdued. But the third friend had no reactions. Kathi gave me homeopathic pills, which are supposed to ward off any reactions to the booster shot.
Yesterday afternoon I received the booster. I took the homeopathic medicine before and after the inoculation, and in fact I didn’t have any side effects at all. But yesterday was a very tiring day, with visits to two doctors—with lots of waiting-room time and queues—and a COVID shot late in the day.
Yesterday I had an inspiration to change direction in my printing schedule. John Endler came to see me, and I told him my decision. I want the workers of my publishing team to stop all work on the books they are presently doing and switch to a grand new direction. I want to reprint all the books I have written about Srila Prabhupada (except for Srila Prabhupada-lilamrta). I listed eleven titles that are all about Prabhupada, and many of them are out of print. The list is as follows:
John was very enthusiastic to take my order for this new direction. He will convey it to Krishna-bhajana, Satyasara and Lal Krishna. Next Saturday we’re having a Zoom meeting, and we’ll discuss it further. The books had been typed and proofed at least three times before publishing them, so they don’t have to be re-proofed. It is not certain what more typing has to be done. We will find that out next week after the book production team meets and consults. We’re trying to get it done by Vyasa-puja 2022. John said he thought the Prabhupada set could be done by August, and then they can resume their present work. I am excited by this new project. I think it will gain me a wider audience, an important addition to the growing ISKCON literature about Srila Prabhupada. More on this later.
In our out-loud reading group we are hearing one of the most nectarean chapters in all of Sri Caitanya-caritamrta (although it’s hard to pick any single one out as best). We are reading Chapter 20 of Madhya-lila, “The Sweetness and Opulence of Krsna.” Lord Caitanya is teaching Sanatana Gosvami. He speaks about the influence of the flute on the gopis and how it tears them away from association with their husbands, and how they cannot think of anything but the flute. Caitanya Mahaprabhu tells Sanatana Gosvami about the beauty of Krsna’s form and how it is composed of many moons. Lord Caitanya said to Sanatana that He was meaning to speak one thing, but His mind got carried away in ecstasy and He spoke of other things, such as the flute and the beauty of Krsna. Hearing that Lord Caitanya lost control of Himself and spoke of one subject instead of the one He intended—just to benefit Sanatana Gosvami—is pure nectar.
Today, November 1st, is All Saints Day on the Catholic calendar. It is also the 70th birthday of Baladeva Vidyabhusana dasa, my trusted companion at Viraha Bhavan. Baladeva says he doesn’t feel like an old man. Except for aches and pains, he feels “frisky.” His sister says he hasn’t matured beyond 19 years old. Today we celebrated by having a feast offered to Gaura-Nitai. The main components were different types of pizzas made by Baladeva and his sister, and Kathi made a big batch of apple crumble with vanilla ice cream.
People wish you to have many more birthdays, but that’s not necessarily the best thing or Krsna’s plan. 25 years old, 40 years old, 50 years old—means 25, 40 or 50 years dead.
Baladeva was talking to his sister Kathi while closing the side sliding door to the van. He became distracted and smashed his hand on closing the car door. It was a painful, serious accident. The hand bled for a couple of hours and blew up like a golf ball. He treated it by putting an icepack on it for twenty minutes, then taking it off and putting it back on again. He repeated that treatment for four or five hours. It still looks bad. The swelling has gone down to about half. He’s going Tuesday to the Urgent Care for an X-ray to see if any bones are cracked. Cars are so dangerous, even when parked. The slamming of their doors can always be a source of misery for the inattentive person.
When Baladeva and his sister were out driving, they saw a very unusual triple rainbow. Sometimes it covered the whole sky, and sometimes it moved with them and they saw a part of it. Baladeva said this was Krsna’s flute-song reaching down to liberate some lucky soul. Kathi said, “Now I can think of Krsna when I see a rainbow.”
Kathi is extending her visit. She is covering many duties that Krishna Kripa was doing, and he is now on harinama with Rama Raya. Seeing the need for her help, Kathi has agreed to stay until Sunday. But we need Krishna Kripa to make a sacrifice and come back to dress the Deities, who have gone a week without change, and who especially need a better turban. Krishna Kripa has agreed to come back late tonight after harinama, dress the Deities in the morning and then return to New York City. Everyone is cooperating and sacrificing for the total cause, the pleasure of Radha-Govinda.
Atindra Mahajana comes by on a regular basis. He likes to clean dishes and pots and take prasadam with us. Yesterday he came and swept and mopped the temple room and pujari room. Today he will clean all the pots that are piled high from the making of pizzas. He is our life-saver.
Ananda Kisora, who posts the Free Write Journal from his location in Italy, has told me that most people don’t read the entire 35-page weekly Journal. They simply don’t have time to read all that I write. So he had a good idea. He posts small segments of my Journal every day, say five pages. He says he gets interaction from readers with this process. Sure, I’d like people to read the whole Journal, but it’s more than I can expect. If they read five pages a day, it shouldn’t be a strain on their valuable time, and I would be satisfied.
The cold weather is coming—tonight it will go down to 30 degrees Fahrenheit, freezing. That means before tonight we have to harvest all the remaining roses and rosebuds. Tomorrow night the temperature is supposed to go down to 29 degrees, which is a killing frost. Thus even the hearty marigolds will freeze and turn black. So before that happens, we have to harvest all our remaining marigolds. The flower-bearing season is over.
“Hand, deliver me a sermon. The ant runs frantically over the blank page, even as I fill it in. All roads from here lead to Bombay. When we get there, we will look for Juhu0. Then I will go to Prabhupada’s rooms and beg for the mercy to write Volume Two.
“Enormous hope in bad age
wake up and chant precious
beads cintamani touch mercy
of Lord as nama-rupa.
When, Lord, when?
Does it have to get worse before
I cling to the holy name
as the only hope? I don’t want
that desperate living nightmare.
Prefer soft candlelight—no mice,
no human voices even, just me chanting.
I do love it even now—
but my mind races away.
“You gave me writing and I’m happy for
that. When I think of what to
write, I am filled with a drive.
Oh . . .
Kali, keep away. This page and
the next—join it to the
sankirtana movement. Broken
odd song for the master who
smiled and said your American free
verse ‘On Chanting,’ is nice.”
“I am writing this Preface especially for readers who may come to Volume 2 of A Poor Man Reads the Bhagavatam without having read the introductory material in Volume 1. In Volume 1, I described how I was yearning for a long-term Krsna conscious writing project. Krsna sent this project to me in answer to my prayers while visiting Vrndavana in January 1996; it is His mercy and the mercy of Srila Prabhupada.
“Much of the writing I have been doing during the last ten years has been practice in preparation for A Poor Man Reads the Bhagavatam. I want to write philosophical purports expressing Srila Prabhupada’s teachings in my own words. I think of this as ‘straight preaching,’ much as one might do when lecturing on the vyasasana. At the same time I desire to write something personal, pushing the boundaries of honesty and spontaneity beyond their normal bounds, and certainly beyond the formal or official bounds of a lecturer’s presentation. This can be compared to the difference between talks between teacher and student and talks between friends. I like to think of this as the ‘talk’ (flow of consciousness) of an aspiring devotee who admits to himself who he really is and then works to improve.
“In the past I have written books on both ends of the spectrum, books I consider ‘straight preaching,’ such as the commentaries on Narada-bhakti-sutra and Niti-sastras, and books I consider more free and spontaneous, such as Radio Shows or Shack Notes. In A Poor Man Reads the Bhagavatam, I have discovered a way to blend both approaches in one book. I stay strictly under the shelter of Srila Prabhupada’s purports and then express myself in a diary fashion, which includes confessional writing, what I call ‘automatic writing,’ poetry and play.
“My format is as follows:
“I read the verse and purport, paraphrase the contents, repeat teachings Prabhupada gave on that particular subject, sometimes remembering incidents where I was present with him when he gave those teachings, then turn to free writing and sketching, and then go on to the next Srimad-Bhagavatam verse.
“I feel a deep satisfaction and gratitude to be engaged in this project, and I want to show Krsna that I am earnest about it so that He won’t take it away from me. By writing this book, I want to please Krsna, Prabhupada, and their devotees, and at the same time write with integrity.
“Also, writing on the Bhagavatam themes is helping me to appreciate more what is being taught in the Bhagavatam. I am feeling purified by my association with the Bhagavatam, and especially with Prabhupada’s purports, and therefore, I offer Srila Prabhupada my humble obeisances. I also offer my obeisances to the Srimad-Bhagavatam itself, and to Lord Krsna, who is the object and goal of the Bhagavatam. I pray the readers will be blessed with Bhagavatam-katha as they read this book.”
“—February 15, 1996, Ekadasi
Hare Krishna Land, Mumbai, India”
“A young California man, David Shapiro, became attracted to Srila Prabhupada through his books and through the devotees’ association. He then moved to the Los Angeles temple at a time when Prabhupada was visiting, but unfortunately, David’s mother was outraged that her grown-up son had chosen to become a Krsna conscious devotee. A journalist, she went on a letter writing campaign against the Krsna consciousness movement. She wrote letters to the newspapers and also to the government departments, complaining that her son was practicing too much renunciation in Krsna consciousness and she felt this was a mistreatment. David tried to pacify her, but he was not very good at it. Most of the time he was washing pots in the temple kitchen or going out on chanting parties downtown, and he didn’t remember or bother to phone his mother. The devotees in the temple didn’t help much, when they sometimes would forget to pass on messages from his mother. In David’s mother’s letter-writing campaign, she also wrote letters to Prabhupada. Prabhupada replied to one of her letters, but she was not interested in any dialogue or consideration of her son’s spiritual benefit as described by Prabhupada. She just wanted her son to return.
“Sensing that the Los Angeles temple could come into trouble from this woman, the temple president asked David to leave the temple. Although David was a submissive devotee, he refused to leave and began to cry. He said, ‘I’m not initiated. I’ve been in this movement for a year, but I’m not initiated, so I don’t have a link to my spiritual master. How can I leave the temple without a link? I may never come back!’ Both the temple president and David were bewildered. Prabhupada was then informed how the boy had refused to leave, and so he called him to his room.
“David came into Prabhupada’s quarters and bowed down before Prabhupada while he was taking prasadam.
“Prabhupada spoke mildly: ‘So you have been having some difficulty with your mother?’
“‘Yes, Srila Prabhupada.’
“‘That’s all right,’ said Prabhupada. ‘I’ve decided to initiate you.’ Then right on the spot, without any of the usual, formal ceremony, Prabhupada gave David his new spiritual name.
“‘Your name is now Nrsimhananda dasa. Is that all right?’
“‘Yeah, that—” David could hardly speak.
“Prabhupada continued, ‘I’m giving you this name, Nrsimhananda, because through this name you will always be protected from your parents.’ Prabhupada then offered some prasadam from his plate to Nrsimhananda and said, ‘Now you can go home and stay there for some time. That will be all right. I think you can make vegetarian prasadam there?’
“‘Yes,’ said Nrsimhananda.
“‘So you can go for some time and also come back,’ said Prabhupada.
Nrsimhananda understood Prabhupada’s desire, and he had faith that it would work. ‘Thank you, Srila Prabhupada,’ he said, and left.
“So David Shapiro, now Nrsimhananda dasa brahmacari, returned to his mother’s home. Ten months later, when both son and mother had gained a more mature outlook about Krsna consciousness, Nrsimhananda rejoined Prabhupada‘s movement, this time to stay.”
“The scene was Mayapur, and Prabhupada was taking his morning walk on the roof of the residential building. Jayapataka Swami introduced Prabhupada to a prominent businessman who had come to visit from Calcutta.
“‘I am pleased to see you,’ said Prabhupada. ‘Thank you for coming to Mayapur. So, where is your factory?’
“The businessman from Calcutta, a heavy-set man in an immaculate white dhoti, kurta and vest spoke in a loud voice.
“‘I manufacture glass,’ he said.
“‘Hmm,’ Prabhupada reflected. ‘So where does the glass come from?’
“The man was now walking beside Prabhupada, along with the other devotees and friends, as they circumambulated the roof, talking and viewing the surrounding flatlands of Mayapur.
“‘It is from silicon,’ the man replied. ‘It is from sand.’
“‘Yes,’ said Prabhupada, ‘but who owns the sand?’
“The Calcutta man was not only an intelligent businessman, but he was also pious and could understand what Bhaktivedanta Swami, as guru was driving at. He said, ‘Oh, the sand comes from Bhagavan.’
“Prabhupada replied quickly, ‘Oh, you are stealing from Bhagavan?’”
“During a wintertime visit to Japan, Prabhupada stayed in a cottage where the walls were made of paper. The landlord supplied a kerosene heater, but it only warmed a small area. Prabhupada wrapped himself in his gray wool chadar and went on translating the Bhagavatam through the cold early-morning hours, but he remarked that it was very uncomfortable. When devotees went to the landlord and asked for a second heater, the landlord’s wife objected. The landlord finally found a spare second heater, but the kerosene fumes made the room too stuffy. In addition, the house was filled with a bad odor. In that neighborhood there was an open sewage system. A truck was supposed to come by with a vacuum cleaner and suck out the contents of the stool pits. But the truck hadn’t been there in over a week. In anxiety that their spiritual master was suffering much inconvenience, the devotees went to the landlord and pleaded with him to do something about the stench. The man was humble and accommodating, and he respected Prabhupada as a spiritual leader. He agreed to clean out the pits himself, using hand buckets. But the landlord’s wife again objected that her husband should make such an extraordinary, humiliating effort to accommodate Srila Prabhupada. The man did it anyway, and the bad odor disappeared.
“On Prabhupada’s last evening in the paper cottage, he gave a public lecture. The house had one floor plus a stage-like mezzanine. The speaker’s dais was set on this stage, along with a microphone. The little dwelling was filled with guests, and Srila Prabhupada led kirtana and then began lecturing in English, which at least some of his audience could understand. But in the middle of his talk, the landlord’s wife, a small, middle-aged Japanese lady, entered the house and began screaming in anger. A few devotees moved forward to stop her, but she evaded them. She walked up onto the stage beside Srila Prabhupada, making angry gestures and completely disrupting the meeting. Prabhupada asked a guest who she was and what was the matter with her, and he heard that the lady was the landlady and that she was angry that Prabhupada made her husband clean out the stool pits. When he understood, Prabhupada broke into a grin. He leaned forward and spoke into the microphone, as if making an announcement. ‘Japanese landlady,’ he said, and the audience and devotees relaxed and laughed. It was as if, by two words, Prabhupada had made a philosophical statement explaining the universal phenomenon of landladies and how they had to be tolerated. After a pause, Prabhupada continued his lecture, and the landlady who had become disarmed by Prabhupada’s smiling words, went down the stairs and left the cottage.”
“One time in New Delhi, while Prabhupada was speaking to a government minister and other guests in his room, two of his disciples created a disturbance. Brahmananda Swami was ill and needed the address of a doctor, so he entered the room to catch Tejas’ attention. At first Tejas didn’t want to speak at all, but Brahmananda insisted and poked him in the side. Tejas turned and gave the address of the doctor, but Brahmananda requested more information, and the two of them began to argue. In response to the disturbance, Prabhupada stopped speaking. When the devotees looked at him, he was staring at the spot on the ceiling just above where they were sitting. Prabhupada then lowered his vision from the ceiling and looked straight and steady at the two offending disciples. ‘It is very annoying to me,’ said Prabhupada. He shook his head with displeasure and added, ‘It is very disconcerting.’ These last words were spoken in a soft tone, but with anger. The atmosphere of the room became very tense. The distinguished guests were looking at the boys and Prabhupada, and the boys were devastated. Prabhupada’s displeasure continued unrelieved until suddenly another devotee entered the room and announced ‘Prabhupada, the car is ready.’ Only by Prabhupada’s rising to exit for another engagement did he release his disciples from his instructive displeasure.”
“Today I started a new practice
called ‘Writing While Reading.’
I am giving more emphasis to reading
even at the sacrifice of writing time.
Does it bring me closer
to you, Prabhupada?
It is certainly a good thing when I
stay with your prose of the Absolute.
No one else in the world is saying what you say
no matter how skillfully they write.
The book blurb says of Sharon Olds,
‘Her radiance and daring . . .
find their most powerful expression.’
But there’s no Krsna in her words,
no knocking down all the nondevotees as mudhas,
no exposé of all those who have no conviction
about spirit soul and Supreme Lord.
So it’s good for me to read your book.
When my allotted time was up I wanted
to read one more verse and purport.
Exhausted, I waited for a second wind
and it came and lifted me forward.
It makes sense,
Lord Krsna is inconceivable. He is all energy
but He is Himself in sac-cid-ananda form.
Unlike us He is never attracted to possessions.
“He doesn’t hanker to complete Himself by
sex attraction. He is aloof but all-affectionate.
He moves everywhere but no one sees Him,
unless they have eyes of devotion for God.
Only Krsna consciousness will give us eternity and
Why should I not sacrifice to stay with Him?
Today I did it
and so today is a good day.”
“ . . . . In those days of ISKCON’s infancy, Srila Prabhupada personally managed all affairs. It was he who did the cooking for the devotees, he who played the drum and chanted, he who gave all the lectures, he who personally handled all petty cash expenditures, answered the phone, typed the manuscripts and letters, mailed the letters, cleaned, worshiped, etc. He worked with the strength of a young man. By material standards he overworked. His first students were mainly ex-hippies and knew nothing of Vedic culture and practices. Everything had to come gradually, and Srila Prabhupada tolerated all the ignorant offenses of his disciples. He only wanted to see that they were happy, engaging in chanting Hare Krsna and serving the spiritual master.
“Srila Prabhupada’s biography from 1966 is inseparable from the life and growth of ISKCON and the publication of his books.Thus the milestones in Srila Prabhupada’s life include these events: 1967—opening temples in San Francisco, Montreal, and Boston; 1967—the first Ratha-yatra festival in San Francisco; 1968—opening centers in Los Angeles, Detroit, Philadelphia, and other cities. The most significant dates in his life are the publication dates of his books, which came in a steady stream, quickly increasing to a torrent: Bhagavad-gita As It Is, 1968; Teachings of Lord Caitanya, 1968; Krsna, the Supreme Personality of Godhead, 1970; The Nectar of Devotion, 1970 (more and more books). For the past ten years he had traveled around the world by jet many times, opening centers, visiting disciples, and managing the affairs of the society in person and by mail. Yet, wherever he was, he translated at night by speaking into a Dictaphone. He usually took his evening rest at around 10 or 11 P. M. and then rose at 1 or 2 A.M. to translate the verses of Srimad-Bhagavatam. Wherever he went he took the Dictaphone with him and translated, even if only a single page was done in a night. ‘Little drops of water wear away the stone,’ he said. ‘In this way I have written all these books.’ There are now almost a hundred established centers and fifty published volumes of books.”
“Prayer attracts one to inner life, and so one has to find a balance between inner and outer responsibilities. In order to understand the need for balance, let us consider two extremes. A neophyte might become selfishly absorbed in his own meditation on God and withdraw from other persons and from the world. He thinks, ‘There’s only me and God.’ His concerns are not really God-centered but self-centered. He thinks his spiritual life is a private treasure, and thinks that love towards others would be a threat to his spiritual intensity.
“In a conversation with Satyaraja dasa Adhikari, Rabbi Jacob Shimmel spoke of the neophytes ‘loving the concept of loving God,’ which is actually form of infatuation based on self-love. ‘The immature devotee may think, ‘I am now loving the right thing. I am a lover of God.’ But this is basically ego-centric, a form of pride and self-love.’ (Om Shalom: Judaism and Krsna Consciousness, pp. 176-77)
“The walled-up worshiper is also criticized by Bhaktisiddhanta Sarasvati, who declared, ‘My dear mind, why are you so proud of being a Vaisnava? Your solitary worship and chanting of the holy name of the Lord are based on a desire for cheap popularity, and therefore your chanting of the holy name is only a pretension.’ (Krsna book, p. 882)
“The other extreme is the activist who neglects inner development. Unless he is talking on the telephone (or computer or fax) or mixing at yet another department meeting, he thinks he is not doing any important work. He doesn’t know how to be alone—is afraid to be—and cannot sit quietly with a book or relish the holy name while fingering his japa-mala. (‘Where did I put my beadbag?’) When he does chant, it instantly becomes a plan-making session. If he sees someone spending even an hour in reading, or if he hears about ‘prayer,’ he mutters, ‘Babaji,’ and clumsily wields the quote by Bhaktisiddhanta Sarasvati Thakura as against all who relish bhajana. Gradually, the extreme activist loses. touch with inner life, in a way similar/to materialists. He also tends to push himself ahead for position and power, losing the quality of meekness.”
“, , , , Prabhupada more than held his own
in the private office.
But soon it was over, and he was taken back
in a government car to his cramped room,
with no further prospects.
But then to his door
came Shyamasundar with two young men,
an Indian and a Russian.
The Russian youth was interested,
and Prabhupada within a couple of hours
told him everything:
the difference between body and soul;
the soul’s eternal relation with Krsna.
He taught him how to practice spiritual life,
even in a place like Moscow.
“There could be a reading room,
or if not allowed, one could chant
very softly in his home.
Prabhupada led a soft kirtana
within that hotel room,
while Ivan and Narayan sat at his feet.
Shyamasundar also talked with Ivan
and found him exceptionally keen
to practice bhakti-yoga and follow Prabhupada.
On a second visit Prabhupada taught him
the art of making capatis, rice, and dal
for offering the Lord prasadam.
Two days went quickly by,
and it was time to leave.
But he had planted the seed.
Ivan was a budding bhakta.
In like a needle . . .”
“Coming to see you personally is the heart of our Krsna consciousness. It was like that when you were here before November 1977.
“To be called by you was the real thing. It made everything else seem like a preparation to this. I want to remember those days now and I want to store impressions of the sounds outside your room which you also heard when you lived here—conch blowing, the arati bell, worship of Krsna-Balarama, Radha-Syama, and Gaura-Nitai.
“‘How is the book distribution going?’ you want to know. Battling the scientists? The anti-cult? You want to know. But in your last weeks you didn’t want to know so much about some things. You surrounded yourself with soft kirtana. Still, up until the last breath you were enthusiastic and encouraged your devotees to preach. You thanked Satyabhama dasi for the woolen blanket and sincere letter written in tears. You called Gita-nagari ‘our Pennsylvania farm.’
“Prabhupada, Radha-Syama looked especially beautiful today dressed in red and yellow, the cloth folded into wonderful pleats. I can’t describe it, but They looked artistic and enchanting. Srimati Radharani wore a sari and a crown. The sakhis looked outstanding. Often my mind is taken up with interactions with devotees and how they will see me—a sense of obligation and not so much spontaneous joy, but to see Radha-Syamasundara washes all that away.
“Prabhupada, I take it that you are calling me to see you. My desire to approach you more is not only coming from my side.”
“Srila Prabhupada, you used to say, ‘What is the difficulty?’ You said it a lot, as if you couldn’t understand why we had so much difficulty in being sincere, in doing substantial work, in dealing honestly with each other. You didn’t want us to use your movement to gain power over others. You wanted us all to be humble, to serve each other and to serve your mission. You wanted us to follow our initiation vows and to realize we would always be fools before you (but you didn’t want us to actually be fools). You wanted us to read your books and not to neglect your instructions. You wanted us to maintain the Deity worship as you had given it to us, not to be lazy or to waste money or to be whimsical or frivolous. You would look at us and say, ‘What is the difficulty?’
“I don’t think we entirely disappointed you. You were pleased that ‘these European and American boys and girls’ had taken to Krsna consciousness. It was practical proof of Lord Caitanya’s mercy and the potency of the Hare Krsna maha-mantra. ‘All glories to the sankirtana devotees,’ you often said.
“Our foolishness continues, and your instructions also continue. Please bless us to improve. Please help us.”
“Right now, the way I feel
and the way it is,
is fine and
there’s nothing else I have to seek.
“Praying to Vrnda-devi,
‘Please allow me to become
of Radha and Krsna in Vrndavana.”
“Srila Prabhupada encouraged neophyte devotees to honor their Krsna conscious dreams. He said that if we dream of the spiritual master it is not an ordinary thing. He also advised that if we fill our waking hours with Krsna conscious activities such as worshiping the Deity and serving Him by preaching, then we may dream of Lord Jagannatha at night. Just as a businessman dreams at night that he is dealing with customers, so a devotee may see Krsna. But Srila Prabhupada made it very clear that dreams are never a substitute for getting direct instructions from the spiritual master, from the scriptures, or from consultation with other Vaisnavas.
“In composing some of my dreams into poem form, I make no claim that they are direct visions of Krsna. That will be obvious by looking at their content. Why then should a struggling devotee present his dreams as poetry? How is it edifying to others?
“As a practicing devotee, I experience two kinds of dreams, and both are helpful to me. The negative dreams, which may reach the point of nightmares, show me that I am still connected to the material world, which is full of sufferings and illusions. After such a scary dream, I wake and think, ‘I must become a devotee and free myself from this!’ And if Krsna favors me with a more auspicious dream in which I have an inkling of spiritual life, then it is very encouraging. So dreams may show us the nature of bondage, as well as the nature of how to make advancement.”
“O Srila Prabhupada, who stands bravely between his devotees and death, may we not desert our places in the phalanx of Lord Caitanya’s sankirtana army, where you have placed us;
“O Srila Prabhupada, the waves of Lord Caitanya’s sankirtana were spread by you much further than the waves made directly by Gaura-Nitai, although you are simply extending Their mercy, and your mercy is also the personified grace of Bhaktivinoda Thakura and Bhaktisiddhanta Sarasvati;
“O true teacher, who never invented theories to surpass the original truth, but who handed the delicate and delicious mango-truth of Gaudiya Vaisnavism and passed it into the hands of thousands of hungry followers;
“O transplanter of the tulasi of Krsna consciousness, your personal work continues now and will grow in importance into the twenty-first century and beyond that, as willed by Lord Caitanya;
“O Prabhupada, you are the representative of all bhaktivedantas, but you are an individual, rare soul. You kindly came to the Lower East Side of New York and acted humbly as if it were something not impossible, and yet you performed kirtana and cooked and spoke as no one before or since has done;
“O Prabhupada, where is there purity such as yours? Where is there dedication to guru and Krsna such as yours? Where is there an example of humility and daring such as yours? Where is there an example of such a benefactor as you?
“O Prabhupada, in your absence what can we do? Please enlighten us again, take us by the hand and lead us through the dark of Kali-yuga.”
“The ideal reader doesn’t have to be one of those who associated with you personally in your vapu form, although he (or she) likes to hear such Prabhupada pastimes. But he likes best of all the times when he reads your books. Then he is with you and Krsna. Even we who associated with you knew that your essence was in your writings.
“This reader of your books is humble about his connection to you. He keeps the books in a bookcase and protects each one of them with a transparent book cover. He tries to associate with devotees, gives money to the Krsna consciousness movement, preaches in some capacity, worships the Deity, chants the holy name. And he particularly excels in relishing the reading.
“He has read everything you’ve written several times, but his enthusiasm for rereading never diminishes. He thinks, ‘It’s about time I started reading the First Canto again.’ And so the transcendental saga of Vyasa speaking to Suka, Suka to Pariksit, Suta to the sages at Naimisaranya—unfolds before him again and again with new wonder.
“He especially likes to be reminded of the importance of reading and he treasures verses like
“‘Paramahamsas, devotees who have accepted the essence of life, are attached to Krsna in the core of their hearts, and He is the aim of their lives. It is their nature to talk only of Krsna at every moment, as if such topics were newer and newer. They are attached to such topics, just as materialists are attached to women and sex.’ (Bhag. 10.13.2)
“He has very little attraction for other books. He can’t get interested in other topics of conversation. He’d prefer to stay home with your book. Even when he goes to a holy dhama like Vrndavana, he likes to read there. He can’t explain it, but he knows that he’s starting to glimpse the darsana of the Supreme Lord in the pages of your books. He knows he’s not a special person, and yet you promise—‘The transcendental pastimes of the Supreme Personality of Godhead, Krsna, are so powerful that simply by hearing, reading and memorizing this book, Krsna, one is sure to be transferred to the spiritual world, which is ordinarily very difficult to achieve.’
“Srila Prabhupada, I wish I were that ideal reader. I wish I could at least meet him. He wouldn’t have to preach to me that I should read more, but I would naturally want to do it, just by seeing him do it. He would remind me where to find you in the best way. I want to learn Prabhupada meditation from him.”
“It’s nice when you wake up and there’s Hare Krsna tune going through your head. There’s so much great music in the world—classical, jazz, and so on—but beyond all that is the realm of transcendental kirtana. That is the only music that puts us directly in contact with all-blissful Krsna because it’s composed of His name.
“I’m beginning to appreciate more the tunes and kirtana artists that circulate around ISKCON. Technically speaking, they may not be the greatest musicians, but somehow they keep the Hare Krsna mantra on our minds, and that’s the most important thing. If only I could pray like that, in a tuneful way, not thinking about it, but constantly (kirtaniyah sada harih). Japa is an especially good way to keep Krsna on the mind for those who are fortunate enough to pay attention while they chant.
“Proper speech in Krsna consciousness is an extension of kirtana. Rupa Gosvami says that when we can chant in pure love, then we desire to have many mouths with which to chant. When we speak krsna-katha, we can call that chanting. Thus japa talking is not an interruption of the chanting.
“I want to express my appreciation for the ability and the duty to speak authoritatively in parampara. It’s saving my speech from becoming nonsense prajalpa. Therefore, despite sometimes feeling inadequate or hypocritical, I should continue speaking the Absolute Truth. Go out and walk and chant. Then come home and speak on Siksastakam, both the verse themselves and what I have heard from His Divine Grace.”
“Canakya’s Ethics, a squashed many-footed
bug centipede insists – words go out
on parikrama bring your beads
and don’t look at girls. Don’t find fault,
don’t complain, don’t look at clouds
as white stuff only.
I will make sense like an orderly
boy. Now stop and think it over.
“Lord Caitanya’s everywhere and it’s up
to us to see Him in the dhama.
Sats will tell us. He is gonna die.
Let’s see how he measures up to that
in his free-write.
“We’re going to Lord Caitanya’s birthplace.
Write, he said, bring a notepad and write
down what you notice. I’ll have
to say, ‘Cramped binoculars have
jammed into my gut. I lust. I can’t
pray. I completely spaced out. Lord
Caitanya, where are You? I do
like these devotees, guys and gals
from America,’ for example.
It’s uncanny how he brought
“Srivasangam, Advaita bhavan, we’ll have
breakfast there. It used to be a village
and they lived
next to each other, Jagannatha Misra, Srivasa,
we’re going there. You don’t have
to be barefoot. Just appreciate.
Gape and agape.
“Bring water, clear pure Bisleri or
from deep well of Mayapur. Don’t drink out
there. Chipped rice and potato and sweet will be
served. Don’t eat too much. Goose and Gander.
I got nothin’ to lose? No, I got plenty at
stake. So, believe! Don’t be a
because in private I write like this therefore
I am better. Or because I don’t watch
Bharat Natyam dances I’m better or just
because who I am, I am better.
My eyes! I can’t
block ‘em out. Just ask them to be
kinder. Do unto others
“Walk on tar road. Walk to Yoga-pitha.
“You can go back to Godhead, he said,
the spiritual sky – from here. Pshaw,
I thought, how does know that?
You see what I mean? Lord Nrsimha can
tear out those bad thoughts.
“Oh, some new plan!
Some new bag:
Anything! Put the typewriter
on the desk instead of
out of reach – catch
words for print and
“Therefore, I said (I’m speaking this to the little
Jagannatha Deities on my desk, may
They travel with me?)
The Karttika Papers are loose,
Aunt Jo lost her finger
in a machine, working
class gal, 1940s. My
Aunt Josephine. Her
daughters were Jackie and
the other I can’t recall.
I played Doctor – or
I mean Nurse and patient.
Don’t remember it, pre-puberty
sex. Don’t titillate, don’t
excite memories of the past
like big bands of the
“Why don’t you enter radha-dasya? Why don’t you
act out a farce, a bulletproof vest, a besmirched scribble?
All these rhetorical questions.
Why not write a pretty
O Ugra Lion-Man,
Your black body, Your
stance of ready-to-fight,
massive black head
plainly silver teeth and
10 arms and hands I can
almost see them all –
be real for me,
I don’t fear You because
You are our protector against
evil. Therefore, I ask You
please come alive – and
tear out from the roots
“He says this dhama is easy-going. Therefore, I eat sweets and sweet-tasting papaya. But without austerity how can you expect right? I know.
“You better not be a Mayavadi.
and gab-fest blah blah blah. I read like this,
I’m a chaste student,
I’m a hobo poet
wear gray sweat pants or
green rubber rain pants and boots in Ireland I never told
“He said it is rare to see Sats because he’s often on retreats. Hey man, don’t disclose that. You take them yourself.
“Don’t, don’t speak harsh of others, she said.
“I said, I’m sweet from all I eat, just my belly ain’t distended.
“I am not a disciplined person who makes heavy demands on himself or others. Our guide said it’s okay to be like this in audharya-dhama, provided you appreciate topics of Gaura-Nitai.
“Oh well, I don’t do that much, everything too small capacity o.r else I have to go to bed and sleep an hour or a headache will ruin the day.
“Or maybe I am disciplined and sober but this writing is the hang loose and zany side to just let it out.
“Sigh of relief. I am a man. Gosh, I thought you were a dirigible, sexless plot. A bathtub from the 19th century I thought you were a squirmy insect with ten arms and a hundred feet to die when a praying mantis female, in act of copulation, ate off your head.
“The jingle of samsara, night of predators, we humans have it easy.
“I write it out, some truth, some spoof, some sooth and sleuth you can read in between the lines at the frowning man.
“Now you could quit this. I’m a little surprised it’s coming out like this, unregistered trademark silly splurge, but it has.
“I’m sure a serious import. It’s like madness caused by heatstroke. It’s a petulant overthrow or
Gas built up
pressure until it
explodes the lid off.
“The disciples march on, march up, stand outside the door of a hall and I enter and spoof ‘em by reading Srimad-Bhagavatam as if I really knew.
Then I plays me banjo
and we collect the bill and
“‘This one is on me, it’s free but if you wish to make a donation, give it to Tribhanga-sundara. His name means Krsna, who stands in three-curve bending way. Little Damodara, go see Him in January-February snow when not many will come and bother you I hope. Write then. And now.
In the belly of the whale. . . .
“At this place, Lord Caitanya . . . .
read and weep. Peep and horn. I can do it and like it. This goofy serious writer isn’t all in all. I exist also as a person who likes to read a Bhaktivedanta purport and lecture a little on it.
“Roll on wild here but this isn’t all and all. It’s the explosion. The rest (the non-written life) is also valid, straight, believed, regimented, goes through paces and
“He can eat and drink. But the soul is untouched by it all.
“A 5:30 A.M. breakfast for me in ten minutes from now. Confirmed by the wall cricket. Fan.
“Auton for mosquitoes, put it on your bare feet. Funny you, old man, don’t you know your sex days are over? Why dream of it or that women are after you? One reason; it may happen in my next life due to desires. How many sadhus went out failures at death, if not externally then internally? Plenty, I bet. And here you are thinkin’ you are so smart because of a little peck of honesty and your free-write.
“Oh, don’t berate me.
“I am trying in a bad age, I making the portrait of the attempt to be a devotee Westerner clinging to Swami (master) of long ago. Senior face who demands his satisfaction in published writings and what he wants to eat and now a saffron cover for his own personal typewriter.
Ladies like he’s riding the waves (taranga) and getting paid off for a little service he renders. His gall is that he thinks he’s better.
“And that galls ‘me,’ his counterperson, and therefore like an exposé journalist I’m telling it when I see it.
“Yeah, he saves his own back, like people of USA with Clinton. But if one dares come forward as a leader what can he expect but to be scrutinized.
“Tell us, Srivasa. He led long kirtanas in his house with Lord Caitanya. One time
“Too late, ‘the offering is ready.’
Catch you later.”
Free Write Journal #169 >>>
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.