For a long time I have been leading a life of loneness. I distinguish it from the word “loneliness.” I read about it in books of Christian practitioners who led lives like hermits. And in Gaudiya Vaisnavism we also have the life of the babaji. I just read Rupa Vilasa’s biographies of Gaurakisora dasa Babaji and Jagannatha dasa Babaji. They were deep into feelings of separation from Radha and Krsna, and they criticized people who came to see them with insincere motives. Gaurakisora exposed hypocrisy in many so-called babajis.
I am communicating through my Journal and books. Some people are reading them—I don’t know exactly how many. But that is my main method of communication. I offer it as a method of preaching. I write them for disciples and persons interested in reading me. I break out of my loneness twice a day for a total of two and a half hours when I take part in the group out-loud reading over Zoom. But I don’t give live lectures anymore. I am not inspired to do that. In my loneness, I chant Hare Krsna and read and write. I take darsana of pictures of Radha-Kalachandji and my Radha-Govinda. Someone might say that I am complacent or bored, but I don’t think those words fit me. I am interested in my sadhana. I am interested in my “little life.” In loneness I think of Srila Prabhupada and Krsna and the acaryas.
I was the GBC and the “Zonal Guru” for Potomac, and my close friend and Godbrother Sesa Prabhu was the temple president. We wanted to install Sita-Rama-Laksman-Hanuman there, and we wrote to Prabhupada. He replied that it was fitting that the ideal King should preside in the capital of the United States. He had already given his order that Sita-Rama-Laksman-Hanuman be installed in his new Bombay temple. I was the priest at the installation of Sita-Rama in Potomac, and on the same day we installed the Prabhupada murti. Tamal Krishna Goswami and all his Radha-Damodara buses were present for the occasion of the installation.
Today, decades later, we are observing a small, quiet Rama Navami at Viraha Bhavan. The Gaura-Nitai Deities have fresh garlands and new clothes. There will be special prasadam—kofta balls, pasta (fusilli), some broccoli with olive oil, salad with Thousand Island dressing, and Simply Wonderfuls for dessert.
Bhakti Rasa in Newcastle, England has had a large stock of my books. We are having them shipped here by boat to put in our storage in Stuyvesant Falls. They are popular titles in quantity which are mostly out of stock here in New York.
There are 231 copies of Passing Places, Eternal Truths. There are 135 copies of Churning the Milk Ocean. There are 219 copies of Every Day, Just Write Volumes 1-3, which is the most handsome book we ever published, hardbound with many color illustrations (mostly paintings and drawings by me). There are 111 copies of A Poor Man Reads the Bhagavatam, mixed volumes 1 and 2. This series is one of my favorites. There are 160 copies of From Copper to Touchstone (Favorite Sections from the Caitanya-caritamrta). There are 80 copies of Prabhupada Nectar. These books are now on a ship which is sailing from England to New York. It will arrive in New York on April 15, and after a few days of clearing customs they will be delivered to our storage place. So they will all be available at the July 2 gathering of my disciples and friends.
How am I content? I am content that I have lost interest in my dreams. I don’t record them any more, although I sleep with my hand on the Dictaphone in case the rare instance comes where I dream of Prabhupada or something of that standard. It rarely happens. I’m content that I don’t have a big writing project. I’m still delicate, and if I attempted to write some big project I might get headaches. So I like these little timed sessions I have of twenty minutes or thirty minutes. I’m content to do that much. I’m content to take darsana of the arca-vigrahas. I am content to associate with Baladeva and the other few devotees who live in the ashram of Viraha Bhavan. The doctor asked me if I get enough sleep. I am peaceful that I get seven hours of sleep at night and then another hour’s nap in the morning. I realize I live a life of privilege. I am not suffering like the people in Ukraine or other troubled places in the world, including the United States. I’m a member of Krsna consciousness, and that makes me peaceful. I accept Krsna as the supreme proprietor, the controller of all the planets, and the well-wishing friend. I don’t complain about my lot. I am content that I have a regular audience of maybe hundreds of readers. I’m aware that my writing is not mainstream ISKCON. But I have a hope that it will be read by people in the future who are not so conservative. There is a whole new generation of liberal-minded devotees.
Trivikrama Maharaja’s disciples asked me to write a Foreword to a book he has written about his memories of Srila Prabhupada. They sent me a manuscript of the book, and I read it and liked it very much. Maharaja has great love for Srila Prabhupada, and it started from the very beginning when he met him in 1968 in Buffalo, New York. He quickly received first initiation, and then two years later, in 1971, he was awarded sannyasa by Srila Prabhupada. Maharaja got many opportunities to massage Srila Prabhupada, and he tells what ecstasy that was. As a sannyasi he was first sent by Prabhupada to London to help train up the new brahmacaris there. He continued to go wherever Prabhupada ordered him to go, and sometimes he stated a preference, which Prabhupada approved. He preached in South Korea, in India, and many other places. Maharaja was a strong-minded man, and sometimes he had difficulty dealing with his GBC men. Prabhupada wrote him that if there were any difficulties, he could come directly to Prabhupada to receive directions. When there was a big disturbance in the Society over Tamal Krishna Maharaja’s party stealing brahmacaris from the ISKCON temples, Madhudvisa Swami remarked to Prabhupada, “There are two sides to this issue.” Trivikrama Maharaja spoke up and said, “There are not two sides. There is only Prabhupada’s side.” He said for that he received dagger-like stares from TKG and Madhudvisa.
I loved the memoir for its loyalty to Srila Prabhupada and its honesty.
In his very last days, Prabhupada expressed a desire to go on parikrama in an ox-driven cart around Govardhana Hill. Devotees like Lokanatha Maharaja and Hamsadutta Maharaja thought that Prabhupada’s desire should be fulfilled, period. But Prabhupada’s kaviraja (doctor) forbade him and said that in his weak condition he could not survive the rough ride. Prabhupada’s intimate servants like TKG and Bhakti-caru Swami, and Bhavananda Maharaja, who were caring for him, became very emotional and went to Prabhupada and told him that he should not go on the parikrama. Trivikrama Maharaja was also of the opinion that Prabhupada should not go. Prabhupada turned to his Godbrother who was present, Krsnadasa Babaji, and said, “Just see how they love me.”
After repeated cancellations, we finally got an appointment with my neurologist, Dr. Kozer. He grasped my hands and said I was very rigid. He asked me to stand and walk a little. When he saw that I was mostly incapable of walking, he said, “This is definitely due to Parkinson’s disease.” He prescribed a stronger dose of the medicine he was already giving us and apologized for not giving it to us earlier due to his canceling of our appointments (for five months). I hadn’t seen him since November 4th.
He is a very pleasant man. The doctor and the whole secretarial staff received Baladeva’s chocolate chip cookies, which had been baked and offered to Gaura-Nitai this morning. He said he wanted to see us in two months, but his secretary told him there was no opening until July.
In order to meet Dr. Kozer’s appointment at 9:30 A.M., I had to skip my usual nap. I struggled to go down the front porch steps aided by Baladeva and Atindra. Then I was shuffled into the front seat, which was a tricky maneuver. I was bumped around, especially in the parking lot, as they pushed me a distance into Kozer’s office. I came back feeling beat up and exhausted. This is what it means for me to go to a doctor’s appointment. When we got back to the house, I napped for a while in my resting chair, and then I didn’t go down to join the devotees for lunch. But still I took part in the out-loud reading, and I don’t think anyone noticed how beat up I felt.
After I took my turn in reading aloud, I put my book aside and didn’t follow the readings of the other devotees. But I said goodbye to each of them in their Zoom pictures and led chanting of the Hare Krsna mantra.
After receiving the darsana of Lord Visnu, Citraketu became a little proud. He traveled in his airplane surrounded by heavenly women, and in his travels he came upon Lord Siva surrounded by his associates and holding his wife Parvati on his lap. Citraketu laughed at Lord Siva’s behavior, thinking he was acting like an ordinary man. Lord Siva knew that Citraketu meant no harm, and he did not say anything. But Parvati became angry and cursed Citraketu to become a demon. Citraketu was powerful, and he could have counteracted the curse. But as a humble Vaisnava, he descended from his airplane and paid his obeisances at the feet of Siva and Parvati. Then he left the scene. Lord Siva turned to his wife and said, “You are very beautiful in your personal features, my dear Parvati, but I think you have been defeated by Citraketu’s humble behavior.” Lord Siva then praised Citraketu. On understanding Lord Siva’s appreciation of Citraketu, Parvati became ashamed of what she had done. But the curse was carried out. Citraketu, however, remembered all his Vaisnava characteristics and impressions while he was born as the demon Vrtrasura.
Narayana Kavaca asked me to write from my heart about Radha and Krsna. I have quoted from Rupa Gosvami’s dramas and Bhaktivinoda Thakura on his spiritual form as Kamala-manjari. But is this over my head? Gaura Kisora dasa Babaji chastised those who indulged in madhurya topics—such as a gentleman who was reading about Radharani talking to a bumblebee. He said this man was not fit to talk about such a subject, and he called him a hypocrite. He had almost clairvoyant vision into people’s lives, and he knew that these people were committing illicit activities while desiring to hear about the pastimes of Radha and Krsna. I was frightened to read about his stern criticisms. I mentioned this to Rupa Vilasa, but he told me not to worry. He said Gaurakisora dasa Babaji would not criticize me. I like to read about pastimes of the Divine Couple from authorized sources. It seems reading about Them from qualified acaryas is a necessary way to associate with Them. Then I have darsana of the arca-vigraha, Radha-Govinda and Sri-Sri Radha-Kalachandji. I chant my first eight rounds while looking from the lotus feet of Kalachandji to the benedicting hand of Radharani. Then when I reach eight rounds, I switch to looking at Their faces, first Kalachandji and then Radharani—up to sixteen rounds. I think it’s a nice practice. I never feel any ecstatic symptoms, but I utter the names of the maha-mantra with attention. I have already described that I do it quietly in my mind, although I know that this is not the best. I think I will read some more songs by Bhaktivinoda Thakura on Srimati Radharani.
We went for a cleaning of my metal posts. We were attended to by a female hygienist. She picked away at the gums surrounding the posts with her little metal instruments. They were sharp, and it hurt. We got the surprise of attention by Dr. Danz, who looked into my mouth, showed on a screen pictures of my titanium posts that the dentures clip to, and said, “So far, so good.” I didn’t expect that we would get his attention this visit, so it was nice. He looked at all the X-rays she took and thought that it was good. Baladeva made cookie prasadam this morning, and we distributed it to the staff at the dentist’s. It seems they don’t mind the chocolate chip cookies, although the chocolate sticks to your teeth. Rather, each time we come and present them with fresh ones, they say, “Oh, your cookies were really good!” So they look forward to them, and we never disappoint them.
There is a lot of activity going on in the kitchen. Dina-bandhu is here and is working with Atindra to remove the old broken stove and prepare a space for a new one. First the cabinets had to be taken out that held all the utensils and some of the pots. Then the propane gas had to be turned off so that the stovetop burners could be removed. And then the granite counter had to be cut to the right size to be able to slide in the new cooktop oven, a standard stove and oven. Lots of loose edges had to be cleaned up—a lot of sawdust all over the kitchen. It will have to be a major kitchen cleanup.
I stayed upstairs, but I could hear banging all day. It’s a major operation.
“We didn’t have good parents, but we have excellent spiritual parents. Actually, we are the spiritual master’s natural children. Prabhupada wrote me that he was my real father and that my material father was ephemeral. We live to carry out his instructions and depend on him to guide us back to Godhead. It is the spiritual master who has connected us to the Gaudiya sampradaya. It is through him that we have our relationship with the Six Gosvamis and with Lord Caitanya. That connection is not casual; it is based on the truth of the guru-disciple relationship.
Our original bad parentage shows when we speak off the Bhagavatam topics. If we were to ask Narada to say whatever comes to mind, he would repeat the things his father taught him—his father, Lord Brahma. Narada knows Krsna and is versed in all departments of knowledge. He can raise anyone to God consciousness. Narada was present during Krsna’s pastimes. He tried to speed up the Lord’s advent by increasing Kamsa’s sins. He went to the Lord shortly before He killed Kamsa and described the lilas the Lord would enact. He said he was happy to see them all taking place.
“Our talks are not so palatable. We have to sift and select our memories, finally coming up with the day we spent next to the 42nd Street library chanting. Although men and women stood next to each other on the street, there was no material desire. The waves of the chanting offset Manhattan’s (and the mind’s) material modes for a while. Yes, we have such memories, but we have to sift to sort them out from the jumble.
“Since we are fasting today, maybe Madhu and I can have kirtana when we would normally be eating. Other people can come. Today the typists and cooks, people who have supported us during our month’s stay here, are coming to visit. I want to thank them for their help. It would be nice to thank them through kirtana too—something that will benefit us all. May our hearts become softened from the winter of our discontent by the holy name’s mercy.
“The Vaisnavas are powerful, and we hope to receive their mercy. The persons in the Bhagavatam are not fictional characters. They lived long ago, and still live as eternal spirit souls. Vyasa, Narada, Sukadeva, and the Vrajavasis—they will help me. It doesn’t matter that I was born in a different culture.”
“Like the sun, Your Goodness can travel everywhere in the three worlds, and like the air you can penetrate the internal region of everyone. As such, you are as good as the all-pervasive Supersoul. Please, therefore, find out the deficiency in me, despite my being absorbed in transcendence under disciplinary regulations and vows.
Comment: Vyasa states that Narada possesses extraordinary abilities ‘as good as the all-pervasive Supersoul.’ He credits Narada not only as knowing the scriptures, and not just as a strict, kindhearted brahmacari, but as someone who can travel throughout the three worlds. We know this is true from reading of Narada’s appearance in different stories in the Bhagavatam. He travels as the transcendental spaceman without the aid of spacecraft. He travels to relieve the miseries of fallen souls from the demigods to the demons.
“The more amazing point is that he not only travels in outer space, but can “penetrate the internal region of everyone.’Therefore, it should be easy for such a siddha to discover Vyasadeva’s deficiency.
“Srila Prabhupada’s one-sentence purport lists the activities of a transcendentalist: Deity worship, charity, scriptural study, etc., and concludes that these ‘are always helpful.’ The implication, however, is that although these activities are helpful, and Vyasadeva followed them strictly, they are not always able to remove despondency from the heart.
“Vyasa submitted himself to Narada long ago. We should similarly submit ourselves to our spiritual masters. We should also be pious, read scriptures, and become qualified to receive the help. Don’t remain sinners, then approach the guru for help. Neither should we become upright brahmanas and decide we are already advanced enough to require nothing further from the spiritual master. We should strengthen ourselves, and admit we need help to make further advancement. The guru, like the sun, can travel everywhere and see inside our hearts. We have to trust that this is true.”
“Just don’t ask too many difficult questions, such as exactly how you should be pious, the definition of forty varieties of nonviolence, where charity should be given and absolutely where it should not be given, or where you can find a guru as good as Narada, or even a fraction as good. I can only point you to Prabhupada’s books and nothing more. As for me, I’m busy sitting here worrying that I will get a headache if I push much beyond that.
“But I won’t dodge the truth of it. I’m telling you straight what we gotta do. I can’t travel everywhere, but I can travel downhill in my boots until the incline becomes too sharp. I can also travel in a car back to Vancouver and catch a plane the next day to Newark, but even there I’m limited. Travel usually triggers headaches. So I can’t move like Narada, and even if I could deliver my carcass to your door in Sweden, there’s not much I can do for you. I can’t penetrate your internal heart region. I don’t have that ability, and not even much desire. Why should I want to see inside another person? I can’t even see into myself. I just want to get through my days and gather some fruits and flowers of Krsna conscious literary value.”
“O sweet classical melody
the song of Krsna conscious yearning
played softly even by the roughest
jazz men of this world.
What does it mean? It means daybreak and
sweet, people, tender people
alive in this world—disillusioned
I don’t know. I can’t
conjure up a fiction like some ask me to do, the
story of a devotee lost
in the past or in a realistic setting
the visiting sannyasi
who enters the Bhagavatam and politics
“O Prabhupada, please discover my deficiency. I’m your disci¬ple and I ain’t Narada, ain’t Vyasa. I can’t travel and I can’t even shake off the soft beat of
all material life. But I want spiritual life,
love of God and
“I don’t want to live in night clubs, or have us all sit around a table with a circle of friends and say, “See how this relates to Krsna consciousness?” They don’t see, and they furrow their brows and laugh in embarrassment. “Gurudeva, did you intend to bring us to this nondevotee place?”
I didn’t, and only Prabhupada can penetrate
that internal region of my heart
as my fire dies out
and I have to add more wood.
“In Vyasadeva’s books, however, including the Vedanta-sutra, direct glorification of the Supreme Lord was either omitted or sidelighted. The subject matter of Vedanta is certainly above mundane considerations, and therefore the sutras begin athato brahma-jijnasa, ‘Now let us inquire into Brahman,’ but if discussion of the Absolute remains impersonal, it cannot ultimately attract the soul. Realization of Brahman as impersonal, or even as Paramatma, does not bring the full bliss that comes from the full personal realization of the Lord’s qualities and pastimes.
“If the author of the Vedic compilations is himself not satisfied, then how can he expect his readers to find the way out of their own despondency? ‘Herein arises the necessity of explaining Vedanta-sutra in the form of Srimad-Bhagavatam by the selfsame author.’ Since a devotee wishes always to write under the spiritual energy, Vyasadeva will only be satisfied when he pleases the Lord’s transcendental senses.
“It would be foolish for an ordinary, practicing bhakta to hear this and think himself superior to Vyasadeva, as if his service is pleasing whereas Vyasadeva’s was proven not to be. We should never become so complacent as to think our service is fully pleasing to Krsna. Success is judged by whether we are fully satisfied at heart. If we are not, if we have any material hankerings or despondency, it should serve as a hint that our service—our love—is lacking.
“Vyasadeva failed to directly glorify Krsna in his books. That was not only a failure in terms of his pleasing Krsna’s senses, but he failed to direct others to Krsna’s lotus feet. Sometimes devotees don’t praise Krsna because they are afraid of the judgment of nondevotees, but repeated failure to speak on Krsna’s behalf, and on behalf of the Krsna consciousness movement, will cause a sense of dissatisfaction. Krsna declares in Bhagavad-gita that He is most pleased by the person who spreads His glories. The opposite is also true. If one is silent about Krsna, then Krsna will be silent in his case too.”
“We speak out of love of God—whatever love we already possess. Narada Muni emphasizes that the service must be rendered with love, with the desire to please the beloved. Whatever self-satisfaction or ecstasy we feel in our service should be coming from a conscious connection with Krsna. The great devotees sometimes even feel that their ecstasy impedes their service, as Daruka felt when the tears in his eyes hindered his ability to fan Krsna.
“Neither should we too easily assume that Krsna is pleased by what we are doing. He is a person and we are not in control of how He experiences pleasure. Once someone asked Prabhupada how we could know when Krsna was pleased. He said, ‘When He smiles.’ It is a rare soul who can see Krsna’s smiling face. Nevertheless, that is our goal: to please Krsna and to see His smile. We know we are on the right track when the spiritual master is pleased. Prabhupada said that he was working hard to spread Krsna consciousness in order to see his spiritual master smile.
“Sometimes foolish people challenge Krsna and say that because He is supposed to be atmarama, He should not require the satisfaction of our loving service in order to feel complete. Rather, the bhakti exchange represents the Lord’s beauty and personhood. It is His personhood that allows Him to feel incomplete when He is unable to enjoy a jiva’s love. It is part of Krsna’s perfection that He does not remain alone, but expands Himself into innumerable servitors. It is our misfortune when we choose to disconnect from our constitutional nature. Krsna is incon-ceivably transcendental, always enjoying in the spiritual world with His liberated associates, yet He simultaneously hankers for us to return to His loving service.”
“I am thrilled to think that Krsna needs our loving service in order to be fully satisfied. Why should we deny Him the pleasure of our service? It is because they realize the Lord’s inner nature that the gopis are considered His topmost servitors. Lord Caitanya proclaimed that there would never be any worship greater than the gopis’ service because they rendered service simply to satisfy His senses. In so doing, they held back nothing, but gave Krsna everything they had without consideration.
“In order to become most pleasing to Krsna, a devotee must please Krsna’s devotees. Although it is impossible to satisfy every devotee in all details, we should try hard not to neglect them. Our association with devotees is our training to be able to associate with the Lord in His eternal pastimes. We are crude, offensive, and unfit in so many ways. Therefore, to understand and learn to serve Krsna’s heart, we have to start by serving His servants.
“How could wise Vyasa have written so many books failing to glorify Krsna, and what is the value of those books? Sometimes we hear that they have value, and at others times they are called worthless. I can’t answer that question. As to why Vyasa failed to glorify Krsna, I can say what I heard from Prabhupada. He said that Vyasadeva was preparing books for all classes of people. Some of them needed guidance for gradual upliftment, because they could not immediately accept Krsna’s glories. They were too attached to material enjoyment. Thus some of the Vedas present karmic paths by which such people can gradually come to understand that there is a Supreme Being, one who is controlling them and everything else. That’s a big step for materialists, but they have to go farther. The value of the Vedas is that they connect us to Bhagavan. The Vedas only become useless when we ourselves are unable to progress through the steps and we become stranded. Then we are left only with philosophy and no bhakti.”
“Today the devotees will gather for a farewell meeting and I will thank them for cooking and typing for me and giving me firewood and water. I have been using all this not as an enjoyer, but in my attempts to serve the Supreme. The things in themselves have not made me happy, but they have provided the fuel that has run me like a machine. I run by writing. That’s what an author-servant does. And yes, I find it satisfying.
“Does the Bhagavatam reflect something about the general condition of authors? In a sense, although no other authors can compare themselves to Vyasadeva. We didn’t write the Vedas nor have Narada’s darsana. Vyasadeva is a unique example. Yet he is also meant to teach all authors an example. No author will be satisfied unless he or she describes the Lord’s spotless glories. That’s the sampradaya lesson. Find your mature work and make it pure devotion.
“Yesterday I read Merton’s description of his life in the monastery during his first five years. He worked hard to dedicate himself to God’s will and to give up his own desires. Yet he wanted to realize his vocation. He wanted to pray, and he appealed to the saints in his scriptures. I found that inspiring. I read it in the spirit of interfaith dialogue, as a writer might turn to a fellow writer to learn how he connects his writing to the religious life. I found something human there.
“Was Merton in blissful God consciousness? It reminds me of the statement in The Nectar of Instruction that the guru should be an uttama-adhikari or his followers won’t be able to rise higher than his level. If he is not an uttama-adhikari, he has to be giving the teachings of the uttama-adhikaris and be constantly giving us Krsna.
“We are all placed on trial by this verse—all writers, readers, speakers—and we will have to explain how we are pleasing Krsna’s senses. Do we measure up?”
“During the years I was living in a thatched-roof cottage in Wicklow, I became a creative artist. I painted five or six canvases a day, every day, for several years. I made sculptures and totems and assembled found objects outdoors in my ‘visionary garden.’ I read Raw Vision magazine and fashioned myself after the naïve artists and the school of ‘outsider’ artists known in France as art brut, like Jean Dubuffet, Jean-Michel Basquiat, and others. I had so much passion and so much fun. Baladeva supplied me with all the brushes and paints and spray bottles and oil sticks. I would suit up in a jumpsuit and disposable shoes. The room got splashed in paint. Caitanya-candrodaya would come home from his job in Dublin at night and see what I had done. He liked best the last painting I did. It was the wildest, completed in about five minutes and carrying a completely mixed palette. I was after process, not product, as Michele Cassou taught. I also wrote volume after volume of Every Day, Just Write, and we published them with colored covers taken from my paintings. They were journals of my life in Wicklow, my walks, my readings, my little life. I was living alone with Hari-Bhakti-Vilasa and Baladeva. Once a week I lectured in Dublin at Silavati’s and Bhadra’s house. I got many headaches, but I took medication and tolerated them. It was a time of gorgeous solitude, with no duties, no visitors, no meetings. Once a year Uddhava and I would go to the police station and get my visa renewed. The wives of the Wicklow devotees cooked for me. The owner of Govinda’s Gallery came and selected paintings, and I did a one-man show in Govinda’s Gallery in Washington, D.C. It got a favorable review in the Washington Post.
“Previously, I had been happy living in Manu’s house in Geaglum at Inis Rath in North Ireland. I wasn’t making art there, but I was writing in the shed and producing volumes of Every Day, Just Write. One was a collection of poems called Songs of a Hare Krsna Man. It was a time of blessed solitude and peace surrounded by the beautiful scenery of the lake strait and island forest. I gave weekly classes on the Caitanya-caritamrta at the island temple, walking from the house to the writing shed in Wellington boots. Once again, bad headaches limited my time and kept me convinced that it was best for me to live alone and restrict my traveling and the time I spent with others.”
“There are also various purports where Prabhupada states that it is not necessary to give up one’s separate residence to live in a temple. His mission was to engage everyone in the chanting of the holy name and the avoidance of sinful life. This would automatically lead to association within ISKCON. Devotees who are practicing spiritual life would naturally want to associate with like-minded people, and that subculture of devotees would spread throughout the mundane society. In the Caitanya-caritamrta, Madhya 4.79, Srila Prabhupada writes, ‘The Krsna conscious devotee must always desire to remain in the society of devotees.
They cannot go outside the Krsna conscious society or the movement.’ In another purport, Srila Prabhupada writes,
“‘. . . This is the sublime mission of the International Society for Krishna Consciousness. Many people come and inquire whether they have to give up family life to join the Society, but that is not our mission. One may remain comfortably in his residence. We simply request everyone to chant the maha-mantra.’
“ISKCON is an aspect of Prabhupada’s work, yet it is different from his books in that Prabhupada himself recognized imperfections in ISKCON. But there is a method of rectification, according to guru, sastra, and sadhu. Prabhupada sometimes quoted, ‘England, with all thy faults I love thee.’ He encouraged his disciples to remain loyally working to improve and purify the movement. He established a Governing Body Commission, composed of a group of his senior disciples whom he hoped would be able to cooperate together for preaching Krsna consciousness worldwide.
“Srila Prabhupada considered himself a member of ISKCON. He told his disciples, ‘Your love for me will be shown by how much you cooperate to keep this institution together after I am gone.’ He also warned them not to allow ISKCON to dissolve or split apart as the Gaudiya Math had done after the disappearance of Srila Bhaktisiddhanta Sarasvati Thakura.”
“The sastras recommend worship of the guru by arati and kirtana. In 1974, Srila Prabhupada allowed the guru-puja ceremony to be performed for him in Bombay, and in 1977, while instructing his disciples about the meaning of guru-puja, Srila Prabhupada said that because the spiritual master enlightens the disciple with divya-jnana, transcendental knowledge, the disciple feels obligated and thus worships the spiritual master. ‘This guru-puja is essential, just as the Deity worship is essential. It is not cheap adoration. It is the process of enlightenment, of divya-jnana.’
“But in order to improve our attendance and attitude at the daily guru-puja, we have to realize that Srila Prabhupada is present. We must pray for that realization. We should know that he is present on the vyasasana, and we should know that he is pleased by our enthusiastic participation. It is not a dull routine, but an opportunity to daily meet and glorify Srila Prabhupada in the most appropriate way.
“If we have the realization that Prabhupada is present in the murti, we will care for him. We will not leave him in an icy temple room with no heater or chadar; we will be sure to offer him fresh water, fresh clothes, and fresh flowers.
“Daily guru-puja is a special act of the Krsna consciousness movement, and it is not the usual custom of the Gaudiya Math. Generally, Mayavadis worship all gurus on one day a year, designated as guru-purnima, but Vaisnavas recognize individual gurus on their individual Vyasa-puja (appearance) days. But Prabhupada gave the specific instruction that his followers should celebrate a daily guru-puja as well as the yearly Vyasa-puja ceremony. Everyone should attend.
“Of course, we try to celebrate the yearly Vyasa-puja ceremony with as much opulence as possible. This is a very important established holiday falling on the day after Janmastami. In 1969, Prabhupada was in Tokyo for his Vyasa-puja, but the devotees did not know how to observe the festival. Prabhupada was disturbed and called the devotees to his room to instruct them on how the birthday of the spiritual master should be properly observed. Then together, they held the Vyasa-puja festivities the following day.
“In the Nectar of Devotion it is stated that neglecting to observe the holidays is an offense. Devotees gather together on Prabhupada‘s birthday, perform arati and kirtana, and read homages both from ISKCON’s published book and from what they have written themselves. We can study Srila Prabhupada’s homages to Bhaktisiddhanta Sarasvati Thakura to see how to glorify the spiritual master.
“Now that Prabhupada has left our vision, we also observe his disappearance day. This is a day full of poignant remembrance and rededication, and it draws the disciples and grand-disciples closer together in respect for their Founder-Acarya.”
“I worship Radharani as Srila Prabhupada
taught. He said devotees should go to Vrndavana and take
shelter of Radharani and become successful. I
find it difficult to go to Vrndavana, and I
worship Her in New York in the arca-
vigraha. I think of Her special
place in Krsna’s heart, and I play
music to write to. It is my sincere
attempt to be Radha-dasya and
please Krsna in this way.
She is the Queen of Vrndavana
and holds a jasmine flower in Her
hand offered to Her Consort.
“‘Listen,’ I said to myself, ‘you can go to your retreat and write more of the same. Keep going from where you left off in your last timed book. That’s all, just keep mixing those ingredients.’ And so the idea of a dream book or fiction book was put aside. We did send one message up from Trinidad to get a book where a writer writes his dreams and then reflects on them. When we got to New York, there was a book waiting by William S. Burroughs, My Education, a recollection of scraps he wrote over the years. Nandimukhi dasi said on my request she went into the bookstore, and almost by mystical direction she immediately found that book, and it seemed to be what I asked for. But when I read it, I was disgusted by his homosexual, lusty dreams and stupid stuff, the hallowing nightmare he lives in . . . old man going to the grave completely unredeemed, no God conscious inquiry, danger all around for him.
“So that left me with a distaste for dreams, and I want to write interesting stuff. So I will not describe for you, at least right now, the dreams I had in which I was lost. I have not been recording dreams very scrupulously. They fade away, and I just wake up contented there was some dream. I hold on to it a moment to see if I understand something, and then I just get up and go about my day.”
“I write to separate out the bogus feelings, to admit them, and then to grasp at the lotus feet of Vaisnavas. Roll in the dust like a madman. The words are weeping. I make a prayer. It is a rather silly display sometimes.
“We are all afraid our expressions will be awkward, ever though we think we know what we want to say. Krsna is bluish, like the sky holding a fresh rain cloud. He has a broad chest. He is not a human, but He sports among humans when. He comes to earth. He is a promiscuous lover, but there is no trace of lust. He satisfies the desires of His devotees and also enjoys Himself, but He is not like the abominable debauch who uses women, or anything else we are familiar with in this world.
“I cannot understand Him, although I want to. The acaryas say this Vraja Krsna is fuller and more radiant and purely spiritual than all the other incarnations. The santa-rasa bhaktas hear Krsna’s flute and they beat their heads, ‘Why have we wasted our time in indifferent meditation?’ Bilvamangala Thakura said, ‘I was fixed in meditation on Brahman, but now my mind has been captured by a mischievous boy who wears a peacock feather in His hair.’
“Vrndavana, do you hear me? My clumsy call goes out to you this night. I picture my friends at the Krishna-Balaram Mandir, aware of the sublime atmosphere they live in, doing their duties, walking on the small campus grounds past the big, wooden doors before the altar. I picture them beholding Radha-Syamasundara and the green-leafed tamala tree, even though it is winter. I picture the dogs and hogs and beggars and our gurukula kids in yellow dhotis playing during their free time on the roof. Each of my friends alone with their own altar, chanting japa.”
“Now I’m thinking of a lecture to give on the day that you arrived in America. I’ll use the verse srnvatah sva kathah krsna for the group chanting and then speak about your ocean voyage. I mostly want to appreciate and analyze the two poems you wrote. One was to your spiritual master and the other was to Krsna. In the first poem, you quote Prahlada Maharaja’s prayer, ‘I was falling into the way of the demons . . . my spiritual master saved me. How could I ever leave him?’ I’d like to say that we should never leave Srila Prabhupada, but maybe that’s not so appropriate on this occasion.
“I want to say that he came to America, that he was outwardly an obscure figure but was inwardly meditating on his spiritual master’s order. He prayed to Krsna when no one knew him. I would like to evoke the feeling of what it was like on the ocean voyage. But perhaps I can’t say much. I’d like to. I still have a few days left and hope to get some inspiration by reading the poems.”
“It starts with Vyasadeva
with Lord Krsna:
out of compassion for the fallen,
to give us the Bhagwat light,
the learned one prepared these books
for all the people of the age
who die in darkness.
Further treasure-books were written
by the Gosvamis of Vrndavana
followed by Krsnadasa Kaviraja,
Visvanatha and Narottama.
Each great acarya in parampara
adding his own,
until Srila Prabhupada gathered them all together,
and through him Krsna added more,
into the Bhaktivedanta purports.
On the order of his Guru Maharaja
he wrote the Back to Godhead essays,
the First Canto,
pushed them through production,
and sold them on the streets.
Before anyone knew anything in America
he was there on the Delhi thoroughfare—
the founder-acarya of book distribution.”
“According to Vaisnava siddhanta, the sincere disciple meets up with the spiritual master in the spiritual world. For the slack disciple, the spiritual master has to return to the material world in some form to bring the disciple back to Godhead.
“Meeting with the spiritual master in his eternal form is esoteric information. Some of us are so attached to Prabhupada in the form in which we saw him, that we don’t even like to hear that he has another spiritual form. It seems to diminish our Prabhupada as we knew him. But as we advance in understanding, we have to at least honor the fact that there is more to our relationship with Srila Prabhupada than has been manifest so far in this world.
“Prabhupada accomplished so many things in a relatively brief time. He set a flawless example and gave us volumes of written and spoken instruction. We cannot estimate the value of Prabhupada’s contribution to our lives. Everything he gave us continues to exist after his departure, and it will continue to sustain the Krsna consciousness movement for centuries. All this has come about just from the ‘temporary’ appearance of Prabhupada.
“In a lecture that Prabhupada gave on the Vyasa-puja day of his own spiritual master, he said that the guru comes into this world to perform a certain assignment on behalf of Krsna. When he leaves this world, he continues to carry out the same mission somewhere else. That continuing form and mission of the spiritual master is beyond the vision of most of us. As long as we live in this world, the important manifestation of Prabhupada is the one that we have before us.
“We pray with faith that Krsna will honor our service and give us the mercy of continued reciprocation with Prabhupada. Perhaps we once insisted we would only know Prabhupada in the form of Swamiji in the 1960s, or as Founder-Acarya in the 1970s. Now we are more willing to hear that Prabhupada may appear to us in a different form. We ask, ‘How will I recognize Prabhupada in the future or in my next life?’ The question may also be asked, ‘How will Prabhupada recognize me?’ Prabhupada’s disciples will also not appear in the same bodies in which he knew them—as muscular Hari-sauri, or delicate Govinda dasi, or slight but intrepid Tripurari carrying his book bag.
“The transcendental system will arrange for us to recognize each other even without these temporary forms. The universe is personal. We are not going to become particles of light. We will always be persons and we will always be Prabhupada’s followers.”
“Try the poems of Ted Hughes.
He writes about the time
he was married, I don’t
have anything to say about
No use. Stay awake, that’s
my motto. No relatives,
just a list of names
Tattoos, rings, I don’t have,
no regret. I made it
to spiritual life. If you
don’t reach perfection –
did you expect that?
At least you are remaining
true and looking for another
chance, good luck to
say to Swami
you’ll see me,
I’ll be preaching somewhere…
We wait the same…
He knew me Krsna
I was peaceful and
now it’s different
life is always changing
preserve your strength
for the trip to
Dub and you open
Hare Krsna, today is
Karttika and one time…
you better save your bitters –
Yeah, but I like to
walk around the outside of
absorbing shocks sending off
sound waves, boot heels thump
you can take it, man,
No. I better watch out, why not spend the time in bed?
“Mother Yasoda diving forward and catching the fast body of the child racing, she got Him! Hare Krsna, He’s caught, she puts aside the stick.
I know all this.
Yes, but hear from me
in my rapid beatings
see the still-wet red painting
I did – hold it up
that blue streak is Krsna
that red blob is the flying
sari of mother Yasoda
Is this respectful enough?
Yes, I believe it/I did.
Just as I was about to
allow my mind to give up
Prabhupada’s gift of
“always chant” rescued
my loco mind.
We can be happy for it
a while, tapping your toe
will you go with us?
Oh yes, I will not
hesitate. So, he came
to the Krsna party, this man
Love, love. He was expert
at play as well as
at pleasing Krsna.
Gopa tease of the
come home Krsna, it’s time
call the cows
Dream we were advised
stay off your ankle
brought your book in,
But I was afraid because
it was getting late and
I was wearing slippers
in the winter streets of NYC
finally, the real Bhakti-rasa
and we went home
you know all this
but Krsna will
help us go further
From the field of Goloka
mixing with current atmosphere
He decided he’d be
happy digging out
his past and deciding
what didn’t make
sense or useful in KC
Master looked at me
as I rose from the bed
greeting his portrait at 10:00 A.M. –
That was a great
moment – she looked
so beautiful and approving
and I went downstairs
to sing His glories.
It was a special time
The old grass on the hill
oh sure, I ‘member and we
eat prasadam together and milk
and Krsna book at night
he cried good feelings
wanted to share it with
other brothers, only they
know how to suffer and
yet encourage your brother
to sing. But even that
section is outdated –
it has gotten so cruel and bad
speak direct. We wanted
to be a devotee of Krsna
yet live outside a temple, outside a template
Don’t knock on my door
with your demands to use
the land unless you help
In the waiting place we
bided our time, it
was cigarette smoke in
But clear outside, fresh air.
My master’s cannon
is clear to Vaikuntha and
even more targets
Nowhere I can go
he said and put on his sweater
I didn’t think coldly
But just sat and said
it’s another day and the
soul and the entity pays.
I heard that in Srimad-
Bhagavatam and about “Chile” and my
wife phoned the hospital
and they didn’t know Chile
but now I do.
And I survived some accidents
but not the sure death
recorded for all in
Lord Kapiladeva’s teachings and
the lower species we
You tell your story, I’ll tell
mine, you can like or
not like this song
But we have to go ashore
as the sun goes down on
the western hill and leaves
us in the dark.
But I hope he’ll protect
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.