This is the 18th week of the Journal. Today is Wednesday, November 28th. My Vyasa-puja occurs in three days on Saturday, December 1st. This week’s Journal won’t be posted on the websites until Vyasa-puja has already come and gone. I’ll have my lecture typed, and I will read it. It is all about the disciples offering their homages and how the guru accepts the praises in duty, not in pride. I will distribute a new book, the Viraha Bhavan Journal, at 2:00 P.M., after prasadam. I hope my health will be all right. I also hope the weather will not be too cold or snowy, and that the attendance will be good.
Sinning brings one down to the material modes of nature, where he has to suffer death, disease and old age in repeated transmigrations. But “even if one commits the most abominable actions, if he is engaged in devotional service he is to be considered saintly because he is rightly situated in his determination.” (Bg. 9.30)
“The words sadhur eva, ‘he is healthy,’ are very emphatic. They are a warning to the nondevotees that because of an accidental falldown of a devotee, he should not be derided; he should still be considered saintly even if he has accidently fallen down. The word mantavyah is still more emphatic. If one does not follow this rule and derides a devotee for his accidental falldown, then one is disobeying the order of the Supreme Lord. The only qualification of the devotee is to be unflinchingly and exclusively engaged in devotional service.” (Bg. 9.30, purport)
I take solace in these words of Bhagavad-gita. Although I always remain repentant and even bear a scar from my misbehavior, I take shelter in Krishna and Prabhupada saying that I am rightly situated in my determination and am not abominable because of my temporary falldown.
Please accept me, masters, as a rectified soul surrendered unto you.
How do the brahmanas act? How does the vaisya act? How do the Vaisnavas act? — They do whatever the sastras and guru command. It is not a cheap thing to proclaim oneself a “Gaudiya Vaisnava.” It is like saying one is a pure devotee. We would rather say we are Vaisnava dasanudasa: we are the servant of the servant of the servant of a Vaisnava. That’s the proper position to take. I don’t claim to possess the twenty-six qualities of a devotee; I take the dust of a devotee’s feet on my head. Don’t call yourself a Vaisnava. Say you are an insignificant particle of dust in the service of the Vaisnava and an aspiring devotee.
Rupanugas are followers of Rupa Gosvami. He is the leader of the Six Gosvamis of Vrndavana. He is known as Rasacarya for his dramas and poems on the pastimes of Radha and Krishna. Once a pandita appeared to Rupa Gosvami and said he wanted to challenge him to debate. Rupa didn’t want to be bothered by the pandita and told him so. The pandita then asked Rupa to sign a statement that he had been defeated by the pandita. Rupa accomodated the pandita and signed the paper stating that he had been defeated by him in a debate. The pandita then went to Sanatana Gosvami and challenged him to a debate. Sanatana didn’t want to waste his time with the pandita. Like Rupa, he signed a statement saying that he had been defeated. When Jiva Gosvami, the younger but brilliant member of the Six Gosvamis, heard about this “defeat statement” of his spiritual master, he approached the pandita and challenged him to a debate. Jiva Gosvami then proceeded to almost kill the pandita by bringing forth innumerable scriptural quotes and logical arguments in support of Gaudiya Vaisnavism over the mental speculations of the pandita. But when Rupa Gosvami heard of Jiva Gosvami’s victory over the pandita, he became angry. He took it as a sign of pride. Rupa told Jiva he was exiled from the association of the Gosvamis, and he could go wherever he liked. Jiva Gosvami took this punishment as a death-blow. He stopped eating and took up residence in a hollow tree. After a while, one of the devotees of Mahaprabhu discovered Jiva in his hiding place. The devotee became very alarmed because Jiva was at the point of leaving his body by constant fasting. The devotee ran to Rupa Gosvami and told him of the situation. Rupa became soft-hearted and asked that Jiva be brought to him. The two Gosvamis reconciled. Rupa Gosvami brought Jiva back to life by feeding him. Such are the inconceivable dealings of the exalted Vaisnavas. Sometimes they are as hard as a thunderbolt, and sometimes they are as soft as a rose.
I had a nightmare I
was in the military again.
With eight people I sat in
the waiting office for
an hour while the dentist
tended to one patient.
Then she called us all
into a room and gave us
hardware appliances for our teeth.
I passed an enormous amount of
stool, soiled my clothes and had to go naked.
I begged a man for a piece of cloth
to wear around my waist. When I went
back to the Army base it was 2:00 A.M.
in the morning. Someone had
taken the mattress from my
bunk. I woke up dazed with
a headache. So much for my
wonderful dream of chanting japa
all night at Inis Rath.
Another horribe nightmare:
I was trapped in the Navy
and couldn’t get out of the
dream. The Unconscious sent
me dozens of encounters, too
many to mention here.
Person after person came up to harass me.
I tried to break out but
all the doors had locks
and alarms. I finally
found one unlocked
but the man said, “If
you go out that door,
you’ll be put into jail.”
I feared I’d be locked
in the dream-state for days.
I went out the door and ran for my life.
No one pursued me
but I couldn’t find my
mother’s house. Finally I
chanted, “Hare! Hare!” and woke up.
Satavarupa Maharaja yearned for solitude.
He wanted to write a story about a poem.
He’d come to Dallas gurukula, and he was
writing on a plasterboard.
The farmer’s five-year-old son, Premananda
came in with his gurukula teacher.
They were putting him on a diet.
He was eating too much and wasting
the temple’s money. Then TKG arrived
from Houston. SDG asked Baladeva
to keep him out but that was impossible.
After he left, a man entered and offered
his obeisances. SDG asked him to go away
but he stayed and began to shave his face.
Next, a couple arrived; they were so
physically frail it took them a long
time to offer obeisances. They inquired into
the day Christmas fell this
year. Satsvarupa kept on
writing, determined to include
all the interruptions into his story of a poem.
I dreamt I was sleeping on my back
on a bed in Dallas. A man came
into the room and began building
a base to a piece of furniture.
He came over to me and said,
“I am happy. You are unhappy.”
I disagreed. I was content in my bed.
Then I realized I was dreaming,
and this person was a part of myself.
I went back to sleep and ignored him.
I should not write poems only
from my dreams. Many are too
jumbled, a menagerie of bizarre
and detailed characters.
Today is Radhastami and we are having a function
in the yoga studio. I will read from
Bhaktisiddhanta Sarasvati’s lecture, “Sri Radhastami,
the Day of Her Advent.” It is in accessible English
and he emphasizes the necessity of serving Radharani
if you want to reach Krishna. He says we should
have Radha enter into our hearts
on the day of Her advent. He
gives practical suggestions
how to worship Her. According to
Jiva Gosvami the Deity must not
first be approached by seva but by nama-bhajana.
The Hare Krishna mantra is filled
with the Names of Radha. Hare is the
vocative address to Radharani, and Rama
means Radhika-ramana, “Krishna, the
enjoyer of Radha.” The lecture is sprinkled
with quotes from Ragunatha dasa Gosvami,
Jayadeva and others crying for the
aspiration of becoming the maidservant of Radharani.
We are dressing my Radha-Govinda
in new outfits and taking Them
to the yoga studio where They will
be the presiding Deities of the function.
It is an auspicious occasion with personal
significance for me: on this day in 1966
Swamiji gave me first initiation
and accepted me as his eternal son.
Would you consider another poem?
Do you know where you’d like
to go home? Baladeva is out
doing errands so there is no one here
to spot me during exercises
in case I fall. So I’m
sedentary, not working out:
the quick way to lose your
longevity, they say.
May I tell you something more
— but not if it’s a bore:
I want to live
ten years more. But
not in agonizing pain
from old age or disease.
Better to die while I’m
tolerantly well and my
mind is entrapped in
the roots of Radha-Govinda’s lotus feet.
Nitai-Gaurasundara says he likes my blog. I prefer to call it a “Journal,” more literary and less computer jargon. Krishna-kripa writes a blog, and they say he has many readers. I think he emphasizes harinama adventures. I don’t have access to it. If Krishna-kripa would send me printout copies of his blog, I would read it.
Krishna has many flutes. He has a small venu, a large murali. Whichever one He plays, He agitates the gopis’ minds to transcendental lust. They are jealous of the flute because it tastes all the nectar which is rightly the property of the gopis’ lips–by kissing. But they respect the flute and say its mother, the bamboo tree, must be proud to have such a fortunate offspring. The gopis gather and discuss their feelings about the flute in the Venu-gita of Srimad-Bhagavatam (Tenth Canto, Chapter Twenty-one).
Sometimes the gopis steal Krishna’s flute, and sometimes they break one. They are fierce competitors for the nectar of Krishna’s lips. Krishna’s flute music is renowned throughout the universe, bewildering the minds of even Siva and Brahma, who are experts in music–still, they cannot figure it out. But Krishna’s friend Sridama (Radharani’s brother) teases Him by saying Radha taught Krishna how to play the flute.
Krishna’s pastimes go on in one universe after another. In one universe He is sucking Mother Yasoda’s breast, and then in the next universe, He plays the same pastime. The pastimes display varieties and are ever-fresh. This is a feature of His omnipotency.
Krishna acts subordinate to His pure devotees. He prefers this to being worshiped in awe and reverence by the songs of the Vedas. Arjuna prayed to the Universal Form to please return to the two-armed form so Arjuna could relate to Him as his dearmost friend and spiritual master. Radharani keeps Krishna under Her control, “but that is out of love.”
After Caitanya Mahaprabhu converted Prakasananda and the Mayavadi sannyasis in Varanasi, He became a very famous person. Hundreds of thousands of people would join Him in public, engaging in congregational chanting of the holy names. Thousands would gather outside His house, hoping to get His darsana. He would open the door, raise His arms and cry out “Haribol!” to satisfy the people. Gradually the crowds became an impediment, and Caitanya Mahaprabhu left Varanasi.
Four meat-eaters and cigarette smokers
visited us yesterday to bring
a donation for my disciple
in Italy. Two men and
their women, they descended
on us by surprise. Mostly
paisans, they spoke in Italian.
The main man, Caesar, was there with his black wife
of thirty years. She said she
didn’t know Italian because
Caesar didn’t want her telling
“bad stories” about their marriage
to his mother.
Baladeva said the gathering
was like a sitcom show. Caesar said he didn’t
like the soup
we served him and said it was like the soup
he had to take on his recent
trip to India. But he and
the others liked the somosas
and fresh bread and butter.
Caesar asked how old I was.
Caesar’s wife told me she
knows a woman who is eighty-nine,
who underwent several
operations but was
still active on the social board.
They showed me many
photos of the tirthas
they visited. When the
temple priests told
them not to take pictures,
Caesar protested: “I am a tourist!
I am a tourist!” and went on taking pictures.
I never met these people before
and I was dazed. After
40 minutes, I excused
myself and went up to take
a nap. Baladeva said
the season was on
and I could expect
many visitors all the way through
Yadunandana Swami arrived late last night. Sastra arrived yesterday, bearing gifts. Sankarsana from Potomac has been here for several days helping out. Nitai-Gaurasundara and his daughter Manjari will arrive today. The extra guest/festival mode is already underway. I am calm, meeting the guests and sharing lunch with them. Tomorrow I will have almost no time to write. It will be an all-day celebration in the V.F.W. hall, from 10:00 A.M. to 3:00 P.M. I want to keep the one-hundred plus volumes of Viraha Bhavan Journal hidden until I actually give them out with my signature. The covers are so sensationally good, that I don’t want the devotees to see them until I actually distribute them. The Journal is only 129 pages and very accessible. It’s more likely they will read the whole book than on previous years when I gave out five hundred page volumes.
I’m going to have to meet with at least three new arrivals this morning: John Endler (with maybe the completely proofread POEMS book –proofread by three sets of eyes), Yadunandana Swami (my sannyasa disciple from Spain, whom I haven’t communicated with for a while) and maybe in the afternoon, Nitai-Gaurasundara and his daughter Manjari. The M.D./psychiatrist is from Tennessee, and so is his daughter, who works there.
When I talk of why I follow Srila Prabhupada, I should speak for myself.
He was the only one who taught me of God, and I listened. He explained everything. He represented a “science of God.” He came to where I was, on the Lower East Side of Manhattan, into my egocentric, dirty life, when I was turning over van Gogh’s question, “Is misery eternal?” (in my mind). (According to scriptures, if you meet the sad-guru, eternal spiritual master, you shouldn’t wait to do something else or look for someone else–but surrender to him and take initiation as his disciple.
He brought the chanting of the holy names and youthful hope about the chanting. Although I’ve been chanting for fifty years without much progress, I still have enthusiasm–“What a great idea! What an easy thing to do all the time! And how devotional!–chant God’s Names!”
And he brought us the chanting in a musical rhythm of drum and karatalas. Don’t underestimate the hold of the kirtana music with Swamiji leading us night after night.
He gave us a complete philosophy, Gaudiya Vaisnava siddhanta. Lord Caitanya is the benedicting moon. Radha-Krishna are the ultimate goal in Goloka. The Gosvami philosophers teach the way. And Prabhupada is their latest representative.
“But later, when you grew older, didn’t you change your mind? Weren’t you ever sorry for following him? Didn’t you find it difficult to renounce so much? Weren’t you disappointed by the institution?” One who asks these questions doesn’t understand. Celibacy, for example, feels right, it is wonderful peace and simplicity. Just for giving me brahmacarya, I owe my life to Swamiji. He made it sound like routine work. Disappointed? Not so much. I am in anxiety that Srila Prabhupada might be disappointed in me. So many things went wrong, fell short. But I remember when one of his first disciples went away, Prabhupada said, “It is not so amazing that someone leaves Krishna consciousness. The amazing thing is if someone stays [because maya is so strong].”
We have almost all been disappointed by the institution at one time or another. But the Krishna Consciousness Movement is growing again, seeds are coming up in unexpected places, Russia, Eastern Europe, China. America is surviving bad times. So I have no regrets for taking the spiritual path and working for the Movement. I’m happy; I have a tangible connection with a pure devotee of the Lord. I’m only sorry because if I see him today, he may show his disappointment for my obvious failure. But he gives me hope, just as in the beginning. I want to please my spiritual master by becoming alive in devotional service unto Lord Krishna.
I had three personal meetings today. Now I have fifty minutes in which to write. I told Baladeva I didn’t know what to say and he replied, “Free write. Keep the hand moving.” In my meetings, people have told me what they are doing. I can’t write that. Don’t stop to think. Tomorrow I want to dress in my sannyasa clothes. Immediately after an early breakfast, I leave the house in order to reach the V.F.W. Hall in time for the 10:00 A.M. kirtana. I’ll stay in the hall all day until 3:00 P.M. (I hope I can hold up.) I will read my speech and then hear homages for an hour. Then arati, puspanjali for an hour, then honoring prasadam at 1:00 P.M. At 2:00 P.M. I read from my newly-published book, then distribute the books one by one with a signature. It’s an annual routine.
Let them speak homages from the heart. Let me hear them in a humble mood, passing the praises onto my predecessors. I may have to take a painkiller, but I intend to hang in there.
I am disturbed that I am gaining weight. I put on two pounds from last week. I weighed in at 185 today, and Baladeva was 175. Some people say I look thinner, but I know better. I live with my sagging jowls, my big stomach and soft breasts. I eat small portions of food, no dessert and no sweets, but still I gain weight. Baladeva said it might be “a thyroid thing.” But I don’t know what that means. I may ask my Nurse Practitioner.
My Vyasa-puja day. I’m sitting calmly in my pajamas. In five hours I will be wearing my sannyasa clothes and taking part in the kirtana. After half an hour, before I give my speech, I want to introduce my business cards and give them out. They contain contact information for keeping in touch with me. The card contains my house address, phone number, Baladeva’s and my email addresses, and our two websites (including
www.SDGLegacy.com, which contains all my books in e-book format. The website contains pictures of Radha-Govinda and my weekly Free Write Journal.) I want my friends and disciples to look at the websites I have posted. I have posted eighteen weeks of Free Write Journal, but many of my disciples have never read them. This is not good. I am not able to travel and lecture, but with the Journal I give intimate association. My recorded lectures are also available on www.SDGLegacy.com. Please use the business cards.
Remember to always keep yourself lower than a blade of grass. The homages are sincerely offered. Don’t keep them for yourself but pass them on to Prabhupada. You are an insignificant dasanudasanudasa. Lord Caitanya ordered, “Tell everyone you meet about Krishna. Become a guru and save the people of this land.”
The Vyasa-puja ceremony was a success. About 90 people attended, many disciples and a good amount of well-wishers. Ravindra-Svarupa and Sudamani devi dasi were there, as well as Saci-suta and Keli-lalita. They all spoke something. Saci-suta was especially touching, thanking me for living with him at Stuyvesant Falls (at his expense). Rama-raya led soulful Aindra-inspired kirtanas, and Madana-Gopala sang Hare Krishna mantra entertainingly with his special harmonium and sound system. It was a sunny day with the temperature in the 40s (Fahrenheit). After a few hours, I developed a headache and took a painkiller. After lunch, at 2:00 P.M., I began signing the book Viraha Bhavan Journal and distributing it. I had previously autographed all the books, and now I added their names, “Dear Rama-Raya,” etc. This turned out to be an ordeal. My chair was uncomfortable, and my neck was in a strained position. There was a long line of devotees. My head pain increased and I took another pill. Rama-raya was leading a soft kirtana. Finally it was over and I left the hall. (We decided that in future meetings I will sign my autograph beforehand, but I won’t sign the devotees’ names. They can do that on their own. That will save wear and tear on me.)