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
At today’s out-loud reading, Bhakti-rasa announced that tomorrow we wouldn’t be having an afternoon reading but that I would be giving a talk on Govardhana-lila at 11:00 A.M. I was completely surprised by his announcement, and I said so. I even resented the fact that no one told me. And I didn’t particularly like the idea of preparing for a talk. I think Baladeva was behind it, and he said, “Just tell the stories.” I looked at the three chapters of the Krsna book and considered that it wasn’t such a terrible assignment to talk about Krsna’s Govardhana-lila pastimes.
Ravindra Svarupa Prabhu, Sraddha d.d., Atindra, John Endler and Kirtan Rasa all gathered at Viraha Bhavan for our Govardhana Puja celebration. Baladeva and his sister Kathi cooked the feast. Sraddha made a Govardhana hill of sweets. The hill was halava covered with mini-cupcakes, chocolate mint Simply Wonderfuls and vanilla Simply Wonderfuls, brownies, and green coconut like the green grasses of Govardhana Hill. The main meal was Gauranga potatoes, palak paneer, yellow rice, dal, cauliflower pakoras and Radha-red chutney (or date chutney). There was fresh cider for a drink. We hooked up to our out-loud reading group, who appeared on the computer from various locations. I first spoke on the lila of Govardhana Puja and Krsna’s lifting of Govardhana Hill, all paraphrased from the three chapters of Krsna book. Then Ravindra Svarupa spoke. He read, quoting Tenth Canto verses about Govardhana Puja. We all sang “Damodarastakam” and circumambulated the hill. Extra plates were made up for Amit, who is coming tonight, and Muktavandya, who is coming tomorrow. Kathi said our celebration reminded her of the big Govardhana Pujas that she attended at Gita-nagari in the 1980s.
We cut off our out-loud reading so we could make our 3:00 PM appointment with the neurologist. We had to sit for a half hour in the waiting room, enduring raw rock music and waiting for the nurse to call us while other people came in and out. She called us in and took down a list of all the medicines I’m taking. Then Dr. Kozer came in. We told him that at first I had made some progress by taking his medicines, but then I was hit with pneumonia, and that reversed my condition. I also had a period of UTI after the pneumonia. He handled my hands and wrists and said I was rigid. (I still have some tremor from Parkinson’s disease. And of course, aside from PD, I can’t walk much, or nothing at all.) He prescribed new meds to be taken with the current medicine and then to come back in two months to see what the progress is.
Dr. Kozer told us from a previous visit that he was a keen fan of mathematics and science and how they relate to the universe. He knows that the different relationships in the universe ultimately have to be divine in origin, but he’s not ready to accept that that divinity is personal. Therefore, he’s a rascal. We gave him a copy of Sadaputa’s book Mechanistic and Nonmechanistic Science. He was thankful for the gift and leafed through the pages, already interested in it. He promised to read the book. He has a friendly bedside manner, somewhat jolly.
Our appointment was for 3:00 in the afternoon. We didn’t even start the tests or procedure with the technician until 4:00. We sat in a crowded room with many workers there, mostly women, and I became disoriented and annoyed. I had to get in and out of many chairs to be tested for different facets of my vision. Gradually most of the employees left, and we remained in a near-empty office. Finally we got to see Dr. McPherson. She examined my eyes and said they were healthy, no need for a laser cleanup, which is what some of my friends have had done to them, a very easy procedure. But I was not eligible for that because I didn’t have any problem with the capsule behind the lens. She attributed my complaint of cloudiness in vision to pooling of tears. She did a procedure, which was irrigating my tear ducts. It was painful, and she concluded that the ducts were blocked on both sides of both eyes, and this was the cause of the problem. She recommended I get a second opinion from her colleague, a surgeon who does a different type of operation that she is not able to do, an operation to rebuild new tear ducts. It requires going to the hospital. I was so tired out from today’s ordeal—waiting, dealing with the technicians and being hurt by Dr. McPherson’s examination—that I wanted no part with going for more surgery by another doctor. She said I should go see him anyway, and she made an appointment for me. We were the last ones to leave the big office into the dark night. I stood up for my patient’s rights and later cancelled the appointment with the new surgeon. I simply don’t want to go through it. So I guess I’ll have to live with cloudy vision.
We had a Zoom meeting of the book production staff: Me, John Endler, Lal Krishna, and Krsna-bhajana. We discussed how to produce all of the books I’ve written about Prabhupada by next Vyasa-puja. Some of the main technicalities were over my head. The others, too, were not decisive as to whether we have to do a lot of typing, proofreading and covers, or whether we can keep some of the books that are already printed. I worry whether we can get it all done by Vyasa-puja 2022.But the team is optimistic, and we considered our Zoom meeting productive. It’s such a major project; it has me a little bewildered. I want to hear that they have got a decisive direction and can go ahead and work on it right away. John Endler seemed to think the meeting was very productive, and he was optimistic. The others seemed ready to do whatever is required. Their enthusiasm and dedication is inspiring.
In the middle of technical verses about different explanations of the atmarama verse, Sri Caitanya Mahaprabhu tells the story of Narada and Mrgari the hunter. He says once when Narada was walking on the forest path, he saw a deer pierced by an arrow and with its legs broken, writhing in great pain. Further on he saw a boar also pierced, with legs broken, twisting in pain. Further on he saw a hunter hiding behind a tree with bow and arrows, ready to kill another animal. Narada went up to the hunter, and all the animals fled away. The hunter wanted to curse Narada with abusive words, but by the saint’s presence he was not able to. Mrgari the hunter asked Narada why he had chased the animals. Narada said, “I want to ask you a question first. Why do you leave the animals half-dead and not kill them completely? The hunter said it gave him great pleasure to leave them half-dead, and he was doing what his father taught him. Narada said leaving the animals in this condition was a great sin, and the hunter would have to pay for it in his future lives. Hearing Narada’s commanding explanation, the hunter became afraid. He surrendered to Narada and asked how he could be relieved of his sins. Narada told him that he should not leave animals half-dead, he should simply kill them. But then Narada went on to tell him the whole killing business was bad. He asked Mrgari to break his bow and told him he would supply him food. It’s a wonderful story, and the hunter turns out to be a saintly person living in a small cottage in a vanaprastha state of life, chanting Hare Krsna before the tulasi plant.
Krishna Kripa showed us a video of the harinama party singing and walking amidst the informal parade of Halloween-dressed young people in Greenwich Village. The interaction was all positive. One boy and girl couple danced together for a long time with the harinama party. Godruma-prana led the singing, playing a harmonium with a very jumpy tune. The devotees handed out shakers to the people, who played rhythm along with the kirtana. Many strange and bizarre costumed people mingled with the kirtana party passing through them happy-faced and participating with the chant. Rama Raya was out distributing the pamphlet Krsna, the Reservoir of Pleasure. Krishna Kripa’s plan for next year at Halloween is to enthuse more devotees to go out and join the parade and lead the people in chanting. It’s a completely nonviolent scene, with everyone dressed up in bizarre costumes, having a good time, parading down the Village and led by the Hare Krsna group. The devotees do walking sankirtana and end up at Union Square, their regular spot.
See Halloween harinama video at https://youtu.be/
Krishna Kripa showed me a harinama videoed in Dublin, Ireland. The devotees and the boys and girls completely mixed up and danced wildly, led by a great kirtaniya. The devotees led them in dancing, and lads and colleens, completely unembarrassed and submissive, jumped around, arm in arm, loudly singing the tunes of the maha-mantra. One person was dressed in a samosa outfit, and no one knew who it was, but he or she danced up a storm. Krishna Kripa said Dublin is his favorite place for chanting because the people take part so completely. It was on YouTube, and they’ve had two million viewers so far.
See Dublin harinama video at https://youtu.be/
“Most of us don’t find it necessary to keep bringing this verse to the forefront of our devotional service. Most of us have already accepted the arguments and Krsna as the Supreme Lord. We prefer to discuss Krsna’s pastimes among like-minded devotees. We want to serve Lord Krsna, chant His holy names, see His Deity form, and perform devotional activities. Because we need to preach, however, we need to understand these arguments.
“Remembering the trucks carrying pink onions from the ‘onion belt’ of Madhya Pradesh on that thirteen-hour drive? What a waste of time that drive was. Anyway, our arrival was filled with relief.
“What was I going to say? I was going to repeat, ‘Krsnas tu bhagavan svayam.’ I was saying that I’m glad to be here, up early, commencing a new volume of A Poor Man Reads the Bhagavatam.”
“I have flowers at his feet.
Skinny Merink and his even skinnier
friend, tanned and arrived from
somewhere vague in India on narrow
roads to show up at big front
door of ISKCON Mumbai and
krsnas tu bhagavan svayam.
“We are going through the Srimad-Bhagavatam. We are opening a bottle shop specializing in mahavakya verses. We are putting the (non-alcoholic) wine in new bottles.”
“The appearance of the avataras is described as mysterious. One has to study it carefully and deeply, with sincerity and devotion. Consider each of these words because Srila Prabhupada doesn’t choose them cheaply. We should hear Bhagavatam with depth, devotion, and sincerity if we want to get the result. Hearing the Bhagavatam means more than simply attending a class. Of course, even someone who attends a class gets benefit. Prabhupada said that even the cockroaches in the walls at 26 Second Avenue benefited by hearing the kirtana. We have to enter into the mysteries and hear with our hearts.
“ . . . . Hey man, this is good
stuff! Better than sweet tapioca
on an Ekadasi morning,
and much better than
rasagullas no matter how well
they are made. Infinitely
better than cookies and
“They say a yogi should eat moderately. He should eat to live, not live to eat.
Live for a devotee means hearing about Krsna. I say a devotee
should not be moderate in his intake of krsna-katha. O brothers,
take to your full satisfaction!
“Morning and evening,
Those who cannot enter complain,
‘It’s ordinary philosophy,’
and sometimes we complain too. We
want more nectar, raganuga practice,
Vraja, not Dhanvantari
or Parasurama, Arjuna.
How can we complain?
Better to hear, learn
the connection, the mystery—how this world leads to that,
how the current of pastimes relieves our distress
and delivers us to happiness within the self.
“The mysterious incarnations are revealed to the devotees.
Were you there when they crucified my Lord?
Were you there
when those mysterious incarnations . . . ?
“He asked, ‘What is your drive to write and encourage us?’
“I said, ‘You can keep a devotee’s diary.’ A hundred people heard me say it. ‘When you vomit, you may think of Krsna and say, ‘This body is miserable! I can’t enjoy it! I want out!’ I saw a young Indian girl laugh in appreciation.”
pp. 15, 17
“Here there are no highway laws, no peddler laws, no sewage laws, no health restrictions. You can set up a business selling tea and cookies right next to the raw sewage flowing through the gutter and no one will complain. There are also no laws against spiritual hearing. If a sadhu speaks, many will come to hear day and night the guhyam topics of Srimad-Bhagavatam.
“ . . . . So much for them guys who meditate on the universal form. It has nothing to do with us bhaktas, right? Instead, we think of Krsna even though we have been up since 10 P.M. because of the mosquitoes and the jackhammer in the street. We’re not attached to the universal form. It’s too theoretical for us. Our problems are bigger: how to sleep despite the mosquitoes, whether to use the ‘Good Knight’ mosquito mat to kill the little critters . . . We are coping.
“Well, should we be arrogant enough to pat ourselves on the back because we are above the universal form meditation? I don’t even know any U.F. meditators, unless you want to count those who worship Nature. But most of them just love the birds and the sky and don’t worry too much how they got there or what they’re for.”
“Sometimes the audience is also interesting to the speaker. Today, there was a little old man who kept nodding his head in agreement to my points. I told the audience that I didn’t want to avoid the subject matter of the purport, although it was technical, and he nodded away, as if to say, ‘Yes, let’s have it straight. Don’t compromise.’ Afterwards, he approached me and gave his own little Bhagavatam lecture, carrying my points further.
“I also noticed a widow who kept smiling at some of the things I said, perhaps recognizing my attempt to make it interesting. I found that gratifying. I also noticed the eyes and movements of the other devotees, some of whom were definitely not interested in what I had to say, but who were making a deliberate effort to maintain eye contact and the semblance of interest. That’s what it’s like when you look out at an audience from the speaker’s seat. And in India especially, guests tend to wander in and out, mingle with the class, approach the Deities, and generally ignore both speaker and audience.
“I said that there is a relationship between giving class and writing here. Now I feel I should tell you what that is. But I don’t want to make too simplistic a relationship. At least I’ll say this: there’s a human element in both.”
“My own words for Krsna.
I am a boy who never heard of
You. Some blue profile on a
paperback Bhagavad-gita translated
by impersonalists. Then I
learned Krsna is actually God,
is actually a person, has
eternal pastimes enacted on the earth
5,000 years ago. I heard from
the Swami, Bhaktivedanta Swami,
Prabhupada, of Krsna the Supreme
who killed demons and spoke
Bhagavad-gita to Arjuna .. .
“My soul was opened on First Street
in my apartment. I offered
tomato slices on stiff capatis to Lord Krsna
by saying prayers taught to me by Swamiji.
Chanted on red beads.
Typed his manuscripts, ‘Our dear
typist,’ he called me. Steve,
Satsvarupa, who gave
his little money. That was sheer mercy
that some intelligence in me or instinct
said certainly, go ahead and do this,
promise your whole life you’ll chant Hare Krsna,
promise you’ll never have illicit sex,
do it, promise no meat
or drugs, no marijuana
or LSD. You want to get rid
of these things but never dreamed
such power could come for goodness and in
such an unforeseen way,
India and Swami right here on the Lower East
Side. Take it. Don’t wait for anyone you
know to agree or approve. They won’t.
But you go. You’re alone anyway,
so who cares? Take care of your soul—
go to the Swami. And he accepted me
as a father takes a new-found son, another.”
“Today in the class in New York I was stressing that the devotees chant feeling a personal connection with their spiritual master. This in itself will help keep one’s mind fixed on the holy name. Always remember that you promised your spiritual master to chant Hare Krsna without offenses, including the offense of inattentive chanting. It is a personal obligation, and one should chant keeping the order of the spiritual master in mind and therefore keeping the personal connection. Study sections in the scriptures about the holy names, such as the chanting of Ajamila or Haridasa Thakura’s instructions about the holy name or Lord Caitanya’s descriptions in Adi-lila, Chapter Seven, about chanting the holy name under the direction of Isvara Puri. Then absorbing such things and realizing more the importance of the holy name, you should humbly chant with surrender.”
“I noticed that I have fallen off in two practices I was doing in Ireland recently. One is constant prayer during the day, the very first thing that Amala-bhakta suggested to me, which I had at least adopted as interjected prayer in my japa. So that’s fallen off. It’s a lack of faith or conviction in those little interjected prayers like, ‘My dear Lord, I cannot appreciate this Hare Krsna mantra. Please let me taste it fully,’ or even, ‘My dear Lord Krsna, please have mercy on this sinner. Thank you for Your mercy!’ Also, in Ireland I was using writing more directly: in prayers, talking to Krsna.
“On the positive side, what I have done more recently is to make six prostrated obeisances with extended prayers as part of my daily practice. Well, the six is fine, but it shouldn’t be a substitute for other things. That is my request.
“Then more and more as you enter into the presence of Krsna and His sound vibration, just try to think what that means. All of these are concepts that can be sometimes expressed in words, but the actual experience moves out of word categories as well.
“I continue to read more in mysticism; I continue to try and understand. It is not something to be afraid of, as if it is concocted or different than Krsna consciousness. Rather, a good deal of genuine mystical description is to eliminate imagination or hankering for visions. It’s clear thinking. It’s not fuzzy thinking, ‘mystical’ prayer. Entering into the presence of God isn’t a cheap thing, but you can start to do it. Chant your vocal prayer. Rather than turn your back on Krsna, you try to think; the prayer being uttered by the tongue is not enough. You try to think, ‘I have to come with my whole self into the presence of Krsna, as He is coming to me, in His whole self. This is done through the sound; now practice that.’
“Even while reading, although it fully engages your intellect, you can pause from time to time and center yourself by chanting Hare Krsna or saying a prayer. In every activity we should keep centering ourselves, including the chanting of Hare Krsna. ‘My dear Lord Krsna, please accept my humble obeisances. Dear Srila Prabhupada, please accept my service. Please keep me as your devotee. Please have mercy on this sinner.’”
“But how, someone may well ask, do we know who is an advanced devotee? Is every Godbrother of the spiritual master really deserving to be accepted as almost equal to one’s guru? Is every sannyasi or senior devotee to be considered advanced?
“If a senior devotee’s or sannyasi’s behavior does not correspond with the symptoms for proper Vaisnava behavior, then one has to judge for oneself; but even if one does not see symptoms of advancement, he should continue to observe the etiquette befitting senior devotees and sannyasis. This manner of behavior was demonstrated by Lord Caitanya who continued to honor a senior sannyasi, Ramacandra Puri, even though Ramacandra Puri behaved offensively in many ways. When individual cases become extremely subtle, one should consult respectable devotees for guidance in how to behave.
“An example of a most baffling case is that of Asvatthama, who, although the son of a brahmana, was a great offender to the Lord and the Lord’s devotees. He had murdered the five sleeping sons of Draupadi. When Arjuna captured him, Bhima thought Asvatthama should be killed, while Yudhisthira and Draupadi thought he should be spared. Arjuna, however, through careful consideration and with inspiration from Lord Krsna, came up with a suitable solution. Thus we have this example that, despite the difficulties of making judgments, one should refer to the standard guides of Vaisnava behavior. We must be guided by guru, sastra, and sadhu, and not sentimentally assess things only from our intuitive likes and dislikes.”
“Years ago, I used to sing the Introductory Song to Saranagati every morning in the cabin at Gita-nagari. About fifty devotees would gather with me after a morning walk. I remember straining to reach the high notes in the second line of each stanza. Then I would read the translation. The theme of surrender is dear to all devotees. Managers and gurus sometimes used surrender to convince subordinates to perform. ‘Your duty is hard? Do it anyway! Surrender!’ I sang this song to remind us.
“The devotees who sang these songs with me are scattered now. They no longer collect money for the farm or teach in the gurukula. The children are no longer obeying their teachers. Some of them no longer surrender to the four rules or chant sixteen rounds. I’ve stopped singing Saranagati every day, and I’ve stopped demanding that everyone surrender. Now I am working on myself.
“‘Out of compassion for the fallen souls, Sri Krsna Caitanya came to this world with His personal associates and divine abode to teach saranagati , surrender to the almighty Godhead, and to freely distribute ecstatic love of God, which is ordinarily very difficult to obtain. This saranagati is the very life of the true devotee.’ (Introductory Song, text 1).
“The Lord taught this surrender in the form of harinama-sankirtana. Prabhupada called it “an easy and pleasant method of surrender: chant Hare Krsna and dance, and whenever you get tired, take prasada.”
“Lord Caitanya taught more difficult things too, as in His teachings to Raghunatha dasa Gosvami: don’t eat palatable food, dress like a mendicant, and avoid the company of women. When He dealt with Chota Haridasa, He spoke against hypocrisy. Lord Caitanya Himself surrendered to the sannyasa-dharma and traveled and preached throughout South India.
“He taught surrender to Krsna, and He showed the ecstasy that comes to the loving bhakta. He gave that ecstasy out freely along with krsna-nama. The youthful son of Nanda Maharaja, Sri Krsna, hears the prayers of anyone who takes refuge in Him by this six-fold practice. Bhaktivinoda Thakura concludes the opening song by declaring himself the lowest among men. ‘But please make me the best of men by teaching me the ways of saranagati.’”
“Jagadisa Goswami and Bhurijana visited the farm, and I arranged a short meeting. I put chairs out by the pond and gave them each a flower garland when they arrived.
“‘What’s that stuff?’ asked Bhurijana, referring to the Ayurvedic paste smeared over my forehead. I was surprised he should ask. Wouldn’t he expect something like this while I am in the midst of my treatment?
“As we sat together, I brought up the subject of our Godbrother who abandoned his sannyasa vows. I gave my analysis of the reasons. Now, six hours later, it appears to me that this was exactly the kind of thing the doctor said not to talk about during these two weeks. At the end of our meeting, Jagadisa Goswami suggested we meet again the next evening. He asked me if I was feeling pain. I said no but did not explain that I had increased my regular medication so I could get through the week of oil treatments. In fact, I had laughed off the whole subject of my health and asked that we not speak about it during the few minutes that we could share together. But strictly speaking, we really shouldn’t meet two days in a row.
“I can’t think of two more well-wishing or more encouraging Godbrothers than Jagadisa Goswami and Bhurijana. But they don’t understand what it costs me to meet with them for twenty minutes. They had the confident, relaxed air of persons who are physically well, who are a breed apart from those who are ill. They could not fully understand that I was bluffing and only acting as if I could keep up with them, as if I too had the easy luxury of good health and could talk of many subjects while sitting by the pond. But this social strain of trying to keep up with others while at the same time feeling that one is not understood for being incapacitated—a strain I felt most strongly during the Mayapur meetings—is, I think, a difficulty shared by all persons who go through a prolonged illness. We have to find a Krsna conscious balance.
“On the one hand, we should not exaggerate or resent the difference between ourselves and those who are physically well, since these are only bodily differences. But on the other hand, we have to strictly and faithfully follow the prescribed regimen for our recovery. In short: Don’t get too mental about it, know your limits and stick to them, and don’t over-worry about the opinions of others.”
“I decided to start my lecture with a quote from Oscar Wilde: ‘The first duty in life is to strike a pose, and no one has figured out yet what the second duty is.’ I take this statement as a challenge. Wilde makes jokes by scandalizing standard morality; he often exposes the shallowness and hypocrisy of middle-class decency by his cynicism. Is there sincerity of purpose beneath the poses we each adopt to cope in this world? Is anyone earnest? I say yes.
“We’ll also discuss duty. (Wilde says pose is the only duty). I’ll cite Maharaja Pariksit asking Sukadeva about the duty of one who is about to die. He wasn’t posing, ‘I’m going to die, so I’ll look good by asking a few philosophical questions.’ He was sincere. When Sanatana Gosvami approached Lord Caitanya at Benares, he said,
‘Now that You have delivered me from the material world, what is my duty?’ Then there is Arjuna’s duty as Lord Krsna wanted him to understand it. His duty was to fight in devotion. Then I’ll talk of guru’s duty and disciple’s duty.
“O Hare Krsna 12 rounds
of mantras, 12 rounds of
dryness. 0 Love, Love
is all, said Therese,
and I believe she’s right
Vaisnavas say that too.”
“Is it wrong to philosophize on the benefits I am receiving from japa, even though I feel no ecstasy from chanting? No, Srila Prabhupada states that the changes should be manifest in terms of one’s real activities. He quotes Bhaktisiddhanta Sarasvati that detachment from material life is an important symptom of chanting the Hare Krsna maha-mantra. The display of ecstatic symptoms is not always shown even by a maha-bhagavata, whereas prakrta-sahajiyas may imitate crying tears and other bodily symptoms.
“Srila Prabhupada mentions the symptoms of steady bhava as important indications. The Nectar of Devotion mentions pridelessness, intense utilization of time, forbearance, always expecting Krsna’s mercy, attraction for chanting, and attachment for living in the holy dhama. Therefore, it is not wrong to believe that benefit is coming when we chant ‘good’ rounds. I don’t want to deride the simple practice of staying alert and correctly pronouncing the mantra, sitting up straight, chanting at a brisk pace.
“There is tremendous work going on in every ISKCON temple during the japa hours.”
“ . . . Several weeks later, after observing Prabhupada’s revolutionary preaching to favorable Christians in France, Germany, and Australia, and after riding in the chariots with Prabhupada at Ratha-yatras in Australia, Chicago, and San Francisco, I returned with him to Los Angeles. As I had begun as Prabhupada’s personal servant in L.A., so I returned there in my last stop as his secretary-servant. Brahmananda Swami had arrived as my replacement. A team of brahmacaris, complete with vans, suits, and briefcases, had also gathered to work with me as the U.S. library distribution team.
“We immediately began our work while Prabhupada was still in L.A. After a few busy days, I was suddenly called one night at 10 P.M. to go up and see Srila Prabhupada. As I entered his room, he treated me just as if I was still his servant, asking me to please close the curtains. ‘How do you like the library party work?’ Prabhupada asked.
“‘I think it is without limit,’ I said confidently. ‘It seems to be a very good field!’
Prabhupada looked pleased to see my enthusiasm and confidence with the work. We spoke for a few minutes, and I realized that he had called me up just to make sure I was doing all right.
“The next afternoon we were able to see Prabhupada in his garden and present to him results of standing orders we had achieved that very day from colleges in Los Angeles. Prabhupada became very enlivened to hear it, and I considered that our beginning work was now blessed. On another night, Prabhupada again called for me about 10 P.M. He could understand that switching my services was producing a crucial change, and he wanted to see that I wasn’t suffering or regretful. When he found that I was doing nicely in the new service he had assigned, he seemed satisfied.
“Prabhupada soon left Los Angeles, and for the first time in six-and-a-half months, I did not accompany him. But for almost ten years I had been schooled in the principles of serving the spiritual master in separation, and so I was able to go on without depression. I was still with Prabhupada and he was still with me.
“The library party’s work soon became successful beyond all our expectations, and I was writing to Prabhupada of wonderful results. The brahmacaris on the team, especially Mahabuddhi and Ghanasyama, were so expert that we placed standing orders at almost every university we visited.”
“ . . . Since your disappearance, our letters may appear to be more like monologues. We won’t be able to say, ‘Srila Prabhupada, I received your letter yester-day and thank you very much for correcting me on my misconception about Deity worship and prayer.’ It will never be exactly the same as when you were here. But something is there: ‘Prabhupada, since I last wrote you a letter about Deity worship, I see that you have corrected my notions. I noticed this while reading your purport in the Bhagavad-gita.’ We are still able to exchange with Prabhupada, and this can be expressed in our letters to him. Our letters are for expressing faith and love.
“Try this . . .
“Try writing your own letter to Srila Prabhupada. Even if you are not his direct disciple, is there anything you would like to say to Srila Prabhupada if you could write to him?”
“The problem of maintaining Krsna consciousness while raising .money is common both to the temple devotees and to those living outside. Methods of fund-raising to maintain temples sometimes come into conflict with the devotee’s desire for a peaceful life of chanting and hearing. It is beyond the scope of this book to discuss how the temples of ISKCON should finance themselves. But I will discuss obstacles met by grhasthas who work with nondevotees, and some of these obstacles will also be applicable to temple devotees.
“Narada Muni and Prabhupada, in the Seventh Canto of Srimad-Bhagavatam, give relevant instructions for how grhasthas may earn their livelihood without sacrificing Krsna consciousness. There is no indication that by earning money one is dishonored or considered a ‘karmi’ or less of a devotee. Rather, Lord Krsna criticizes the false transcendentalist who refuses to work and lives at the expense of honest grhasthas.
“Instead of becoming a pseudo-transcendentalist for the sake of wanton living and sense enjoyment, it is far better to remain in one’s own business and execute the purpose of life, which is to get free from material bondage and enter into the kingdom of God. . . . A householder can also reach this destination by regulated service in Krsna consciousness. . . . A sincere person who follows this method is far better situated than the false pretender who adopts show-bottle spiritualism to cheat the innocent public. A sincere sweeper in the street is far better than a charlatan meditator who meditates only for the sake of making a living.’ (Bg. 3.7, purport)
“In the Eighteenth Chapter of Bhagavad-gita, ‘The Perfection of Renunciation,’ Lord Krsna gives His opinion that one should not give up prescribed duties. Prabhupada writes,
“‘One who is in Krsna consciousness should not give up earning money out of fear that he is performing fruitive activities. If by working one can engage his money in Krsna consciousness. .. one should not desist out of fear or because such activities are considered troublesome.” (Bg. 18.8, purport)
“Prabhupada goes on to praise the ‘many members of the International Society for Krsna Consciousness who work very hard in their office or factory,’ and calls them ‘actual sannyasis’ because they give from their earnings for the purpose of Krsna consciousness.”
“Chanting japa is a delight,
even in the lower stages.
You’re with the Lord in
sound vibration, and that is
“You aspire for more and are
disappointed but you do not
allow yourself to fall into
“Krsna has packed so much
potency in the syllables
of the names that all His
energies are there.
It’s true that Lord Caitanya
says, ‘I am so unfortunate
that I have no taste because I
chant with offenses.’ And we
have to live with that truth.
“But I am still cheerful
that I accomplished my
quota and I’ve got eight
and more to go to
“In your own way you should live out your best propensities and they are not all charted, they are not all handed down by the GBC. You have to be daring to discover them and live them out. One doesn’t strictly or externally imitate Prabhupada.
“Srila Prabhupada followed his guru, life and soul yet made his own way to America, innovated, etc.
“Can you? All I want is more alone time. Live out…walk and talk and write.
“And with that time find a way to go further and further in.
I talk about myself to
disciples. Is that wrong?
Should you talk of Krsna
and not yourself?
But so much stuffy
confinement and form-only, etiquette-only it makes you want to scream, ‘The Emperor has no clothes!’
“‘Tired of living, and scared of dying . . .’
“Don’t want to die ‘off,’ or die having not fulfilled what you could have become if you dared. Let everyone live out the best he or she can become.
“Don’t know the answer to all this, my friend. Flute player in the pit. Take a look at your jazz photos.
Vande ‘ham sri-guroh.
“Stop. Out of Gas. Out of bounds. Soul eyes. No stop for fuel.
“Fina, Agip. The term of death. But I prefer to die in Vrndavana, not gassed to death by thieves at a P-station in France. I prefer not to think about it actually happening until I am seventy years old and then . . .
“(So many books published in the meantime.)
I prefer (if I had my druthers) to be on no more committees,
no more anti-cult scares
no more nuclear holocausts or earthquakes for me. No bluff, just apple pie the way I like it.
Doncha see my point?
Don’t you see it my way?
“Mt. Blanc we entered. I prefer to live next year in solitude mostly with nice cooking but I’m willing for it to be a cold climate if I have a stove.
I prefer an English-speaking country but where they are hospitable to a Hare Krsna monk and not envious that we have money.
I prefer no women or sexual thoughts or feelings.
No mice or rats. No, I can’t have such a paradise at least not forever not until I spoke my druthers, drive and seek to please the one Supreme Krsna.
You started that shift of attention from you to Him by hearing His words from Gita on index cards.
Lord, again I want to do that.
Bugs no bigger than a capital letter landing
all over 18” x 24” airfield or rich
paper: “Close the windows!”
They’re coming in.
I spoke. The credit is all Lord
Caitanya, not me. “Do a reality
check” – hippie language – and see if
you are in illusion or Krsna consciousness and
admit you are just God’s humble
“To close the windows,” M. said,
“I’ll have to put out all the lights.”
I run into the next room to finish
Lord Caitanya. I said I admitted
I don’t have access to India’s religion,
my only hope and connection is His
Divine Grace. I’m not one of these
devotees who absorb India through
their pores, I’m essentially A-merican
No – I’m essentially an
ISKCON-ite created by the Swami,
I’m an ISKCON-ite, a greater one…
“I spoke until I felt I overdid it,
said he was hip. Yeah, he was but
I was at a loss for words to give example of his hipness. Do they know
what I’m talking about?
Said he was the lead ksatriya who
could lead us against a whole mob.
He had guts and compassion and hipness to
take on Americans – no one else.
So, I overdid it. Claimed I loved him,
said he said English is for worldwide
preaching – Hindi is for fanatics.
I may have been cruel, boastful,
These things happen when you speak nightly
to 50 people, your disciples.
But at least we’re talking of reading his
books as bliss and I can back it up with
daily experience – I’ll get back inside that
maybe only when these folks leave and I go
alone somewhere to woodshed it, be alone
with those blessed books and read prayerfully
2 ½ hours daily – please let me enter
that they are not for beginners only.
They are for me and give love of Krsna
to whomever carefully reads. I wish to
act on what he teaches.
“You run out – of things to say. A Blue Bonnet margarine. A carob nut bar from his disciples. Walking together, two ISKCON gurus wearing garlands. ‘I have to go back now, I’m feeling tired and (he mumbles and points to his right eye) . . . some pressure is starting.’ The other doesn’t grasp what the headache is but accommodates his friend. ‘Then go back early. Take care of yourself.’ They part and one gets into the car and is relieved to be out of that pressure participation–where you keep making prostrated obeisances on stone floors and don’t know what the heck it’s all about.
“Wait a minute, this is your religion. Yeah, well sorry, but I can’t feel it. Dandavats is not a Bengali custom. It’s a universal principle. You ought to bow down. Krsna is not a Hindu God. He says, man-mana bhava mad-bhakto, mad-yaji mam namaskuru. Bow down, mister. Sing it, if you like, in Boy George style. But do it, Bow Down, monsieur, amici, lad,
bow down, unhinge the
knee joints, stretch out the whole body of bones on stone floor, and then why lie there so blank minded? Why not pray, ‘Help!’?
“Pray, ‘God, give me’
“Pray, ‘You are Truth, You know all. You are Nature and sky and relief and writing ability and Your nature produces flies and mosquitoes and this weakened, dwindling body I have contacted due to maya.’ Devahuti said, ‘You put me here (in illusion), and only You can get me out.’
“Pray on stone floors at least a split-second. Please sir, dear mind, don’t move on so quickly looking for it to end as if you detested it like an hour of physical education or algebra at Tottenville High School. Don’t desire simply, ‘When can I go back to my room alone?’ Yet don’t enjoy attention and honor. Serve, give, be there for them.
“Hi folks, here is your boy.
Please elect me as Mayor
of Somerville, Mass.
Please don’t kick me in the ass.
I want to serve the people
and live as mayor in Gracie
Mansion but not as a
politician with all duties.
Poet Laureate in residence
with no job but to write.
And give seminars.
“Go look at a sketch of Bhaktivinoda.
It will be nice to read his meditation
on hari-nama or read “Kabe Ha’be Bolo.”
Yes, please elect me mayor of
hermitage and let me go. Let
that be your gift to me, your
garland and sandalwood paste,
and earnest request, ‘Dear Guruji,
please accept our request that
you go alone for at least four weeks and do your reading and chanting. Please go. We will be all right. When you come back, we’ll know you went alone for our benefit also. Yes, ‘cause you’ll come to us again with new and better books and realizations and advice how to pray. Please, Guruji, go away.
“Happy hunting may no one disturb you not even your own mind.”
“Piper cub. Helicopter. Small elephant. Big one died. Human keeper sits by her elephant’s head and feeds her big pieces of cane one at a time. She takes them in her rubbery, flexible trunk and delivers them into her mouth. I saw it through morning haze yesterday and saw white-spotted deer and elks.
“Mostly, I said you are hip.
‘The coolest guy I ever saw.’
Someone said, ‘Yeah, that’s
it.’ Praised him in our
funny, Western way.
We ain’t American or Indian?
Yeah, but I got a head,
I got a heart too, wished I
could find it somewhere.
An American oval-shaped heart.
How many times I got to tell
you – Bozo, you are not an
I am an angel of light small,
a happy eternal servitor
(whatever that means, I
don’t know yet).
“I am not Krsna. He’s the be-all and all. I said to them I hope to serve You. Verbiage.
Take a break.
Get yourself over to the bathroom for oblations.
Sri Navadvipa-dhama ki jaya.”
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.