His Holiness Kadamba Kanana Maharaja conducts a weekly Zoom session. This last week he spoke about his disciple, Jayanta dasa, who he said was a poet. He read two poems by Jayanta and said he appreciated them very much. He said Jayanta should “definitely” publish his poetry. Jayanta has written me and told me he’s going to publish his poetry online. He says that book publishing is a thing of the past, and he can reach many more people online. He has already decided a title for the online journal and a picture for the cover page. Here is the quote he used from a Korean-Buddhist writer and poet: “We are able to see the unknown only when we go beyond time. That is why the poetry that comes from this unknown territory cannot but be wild, fresh, and alive, like a leaping carp.” The quote was written by Ok-Koo Kang Grosjean. He will title the journal, “Leaping Carp,” and he has enclosed a stylized picture of a leaping carp. I have written to Jayanta congratulating him on this praise and recognition by his spiritual master. It’s important for a writer to get the blessings of his spiritual master.
In our out-loud reading we are hearing about Parasurama, the warrior incarnation. The king of the area, Kartaviryarjuna, came to the home of Parasurama’s father, Jamadagni, with a huge entourage. Jamadagni satisfied his company in all respects. He was able to do this because he possessed one kamadhenu cow (surabhi). The king and his men became envious of the cow and kidnapped her along with her calf. When they did this, Parasurama went to the king’s capital, and when Kartaviryarjuna saw him coming he sent out seventeen auksauhini divisions to stop him. But Parasurama killed the entire auksauhini divisions. Then Kartaviryarjuna himself went out to fight with Parasurama. The king had one thousand arms, and he equipped himself with many bows and arrows, but Parasurama chopped them all off and cut off the head of the king. Then Parasurama recovered the kamadhenu cow. He told his father what he had done, and Jamadagni told him he had committed a sin in killing the king. He told him to go on pilgrimage to all the holy places for a year to atone for his offense. Later, the sons of king Kartaviryarjuna went to Jamadagni’s place while Parasurama was out in the forest. They cut off the head of Jamadagni as revenge. When Parasurama heard this, he decided to annihilate all the ksatriyas twenty-one times consecutively. Prabhupada quoted the verse that when Krsna comes into the world, He protects the devotees and annihilates the miscreants.
I received two long letters from a disciple who I hadn’t heard from in a long time. One was a Vyasa-puja letter from 2021, and the second was a letter dated April 2022. It was a lot of reading, but I like his company, and so it was enjoyable. Nowadays not many disciples write to me—I like it when they do. I used to receive lots of mail every month, but now it’s dwindled off. Today’s letter was responsive to my weekly Free Write Journal. He has vision trouble and can’t read my books, but very much appreciates the weekly Journal. He said he’d like to do some service for me but knows that in regards to typing or proofreading I want the work turned around tomorrow! Since Krsna Bhajana, the manager of of our work force in book production is here, I called him up and read him the letter, where it said this person couldn’t do any service that had a deadline on it, but he would be open to anything else I had that had no deadline. Krsna Bhajana smiled and said there’s plenty of service to do, even for those who can’t work with a deadliune. He took the address of this correspondent and said that he would write to him and tell him the situation.
Sanatorium, a novel, is one of my favorite books. It’s about a Krsna conscious hospital where devotees are healing from various ailments. Because of a short, sexually explicit paragraph at the end of the book, the novel was banned by the ISKCON GBC, and so it’s not widely read. Even those who banned the book did not read it except for the objectionable paragraph. Here’s a description written as a preface to the book by my Godbrother and disciple, Aghari dasa:
“Welcome to a loving world of heart and mind and beloved characters slugging it out with maya to discover authenticity in a rehabilitation clinic in upstate New York. There’s Swami Swims—the ‘retired’ but searching leader, who’s driven by love to care for and protect the other patients; Jane—the hard-core karate biker, who is at heart a fierce heroine, moving to pure love of God; Junior—the quintessential teen rebel that everyone loves to hate, but who melts away our resistance; and of course, Tim—me, you, and everyone who has ever come up against our own fragility and courage on the way to enlightenment. Finally, there’s Sandy—the survivor of an automobile accident, left paraplegic, who, absorbed in love in separation, carries the crew upward on her heart and beauty, the real soul of the sanatorium, and the friend we could all use. In Sanatorium, the inmates reach out to each other and confront their personal paths to recovery and relationship. To fulfill the promise of spiritual authenticity, each must face the challenges, hopes, blessings, and finally, fear of life and death itself that lead them on their ultimate journey to find the way back home.”
One of my favorite book covers (front and back) is to Under Dark Stars. The design was done by Caitanya Candrodaya. The book has a theme about the character Tim, who is under the influence of the malefic planet Rahu. By the end of the book, he’s released from Rahu and free to practice devotional service unimpeded. The front cover has a blow-up photo of a distant planet, and the back cover has another red planet. The front cover has a self-portrait made out of a jigsaw puzzle, and a picture of a sun or moon undergoing an eclipse. The whole thing has a wonderful artistic effect. John Endler loves this book and always talks about it when we meet.
On the back cover I have printed:
“Someone said that I should recommend my disciples read my ‘siddhanta books.’
“But all my books are Krsna conscious siddhanta. The ones that directly present remembrances of Srila Prabhupada, teaching japa, etc.— ‘and the wilder ones.’
“Why write the wilder ones? I contend that they are not less potent or less direct in Krsna consciousness. They contain my free spirit, the attainment and failure to attain the theological goal—my own soul, in my words—I have a right to that. Some people like it very much, but not everyone. I am writing for those who like the freedom of expression of an individual groping for his own self-realization. To admit who you are is a most honest form of preaching.”
Tomorrow Krsna Bhajana and his wife Satyasara dasi will be leaving after a thirteen-day visit. They are wonderful company and staunchly dedicated workers on the book production team. Today two book distributors, Gopal Champu and Navina Nirada are coming to visit. First they’ll have lunch with Ravindra Svarupa. Then they’ll park in our driveway for two nights. I’ll see them, and Gopal Champu will act as my servant for the day. He hopes to come back in the winter for a month.
Baladeva really needs the help of another man, so we’re trying to put together a schedule for the year. The two women from Ireland are living with Krsna dasi in her house and getting along nicely. Amit will come Sunday night and stay for a week. He’ll be free all morning to assist with me, and then he’ll work with his computer from home.
Krsna Bhajana and his wife Satyasara left today after two weeks of working on my book production. They are focused on getting back into print all the books I wrote about Prabhupada in 2022. They have scheduled another Zoom meeting for May 14 (with Lal Krishna and John Endler) to check out our progress. They are going immediately to Wales, where they will stay for six months. They don’t like to travel by plane, so they are taking an economy cabin on a transatlantic cruise ship. They find traveling this way is eleven days off from duties of cooking and cleaning, etc. Their bills are much minimized; therefore they can afford the trip. They intend to use their travel time by working on my books.
I am sitting here at Viraha Bhavan thinking of the team of workers who are doing book production. Krsna Bhajana and his wife Satyasara are working at proofreading, and he’s reading my different books looking for material to use as Prabhupada Meditations to fill out a Volume Five of that book. They like traveling by ship; they chant their rounds early in the morning on the outside upper deck. Lal Krishna is living in Oxford and doing layout and design for the reprinting of my books about Prabhupada. He’s making covers for each book. Lal is performing at such a high level that the other team members can’t comprehend it and help him. This is creating a kind of bottleneck in the production, but Lal works quickly and is expert. John Endler is transcribing an older book, California Search for Gold. And he’s taking out material to serialize in the Free Write Journal. He has just about finished serializing the book Karttika Moon and will have to come up with a new book to serialize. John is looking ahead to older manuscripts he wants us to produce as far ahead as 2023 and 2024. Krsna Bhajana is the best one for keeping in touch with the other workers, including the typists, and seeing how each worker is doing. We have typists for the books I wrote about Srila Prabhupada, but we want to publish all the other books that are out of print, and Krsna Bhajana is giving typing work to various devotees, some of whom cannot work with a deadline but they want to type and help. He encourages them and gives them a particular book to work on.
Two traveling book distributors were here for two days in their van. They had talks with Ravindra Svarupa Prabhu and me, and they joined us for meals and out-loud readings. One of them had complaints about ISKCON and where he fits in, and I empathized with him. He told me the college students are not much interested in spiritual life, but others are seekers and interested in what the devotees are offering. They approached me as a senior devotee asking for inspiration and guidance. I felt for them sincerely but didn’t think I was able to offer them much. But what little I gave they seemed to appreciate.
We are enjoying the peace and quiet after an intensive influx of visitors. The atmosphere is “shanti-shanti.” As I wrote on the back cover of my book Visitors:
“Visitors are welcome to my door—they enlighten my space. They make my dinner-table talk more tasty.
“But on the other hand, I don’t look forward to visitors. They crash my party of solitude. They break my holy silence. They come, one after another. Some of them almost seem like spies from the “outer world.” So it’s a dilemma. You don’t want to live without them, but it’s a burden living with them.”
I am disappointed that Rev. John Endler has cancelled his visit to me on Friday, tomorrow. He was supposed to bring two unpublished manuscripts for Krsna Bhajana to review. And I look forward to his enthusiastic company, where he reads my poetry and excerpts from my books to me. But there’s a crisis at his Baptist church, and he cannot come. Some homeless men camped out at the church property, and when the security guard asked them to leave, they attacked him. John is now meeting with the police and the congregation to try to find a peaceful solution.
Our cooks are also disappointed, because when John visits they always make kichari, which is easy to do. We give John half a gallon of kichari and a loaf of bread to take home, and his family loves it.
Anuradha cooked lunch today, iddlis, strictly following the recipe. They came out excellent and in a short amount of time. Most cooks in ISKCON admit they don’t cook by recipe but by concoction, trial and error. They do it enough times so that they become expert at it. But there are many admissions of “Failure is the pillar of success.” In our short lifetime there’s no scope for cooking “on the wing.” Better to follow the recipe, like the Six Gosvamis, follow the parampara, as Anuradha dasi did today.
The weather is nice, sunny, though blustery. Anuradha is getting out on Mother Kaulini’s newly-renovated bicycle. She’s helping to get rid of her last remnants of bronchitis from a winter cold and dreary. I worry that she doesn’t get enough space and solitude, which is her normal way of life for many years. But she says she’s getting along well associating with the other devotee women and giving it her best try to stay cheerful and content. She’ll also be working in the garden with the mulch, flowers and weeds, which she likes to do.
Amit, the “kichari-Hindu” young man from Albany, is here for nine days at Krsna dasi’s request, to do servant duties for me. His whole meditation is seva, whether to our ashram at Viraha Bhavan, or to the Hindu temple in Albany. He’s a kind person, and he likes to chant Hare Krsna mantra on his beads. While he’s here he can 0nly do early morning and evening services because he has a full work schedule with computer connection to the workplace—New York City, Albany and India. He helps Baladeva in intimate bodily service in the shower and bathroom, and he likes to clean up in other parts of the ashram. He cleans dishes too, and pots. He takes devotees to JFK airport and picks incoming devotees up, a three-hour drive. He does this so the devotees can avoid a long and grueling succession of train rides to get here. He has a long topknot and a pointy beard like a yogi, and he practices yoga along with his japa and Deity worship. Although his original background is Christian, he’s now a Hindu, and his favorite Deity is Ganesh. Among his Indian friends in Albany he’s the main leader in any attempt at making spiritual progress. He’s welcome at Viraha Bhavan.
The women who are trying to get long term visas to the U.S., Anuradha and Silavati, are preparing themselves for a twenty-minute WhatsApp talk with our lawyer, Jayanta. Jayanta wrote to me and said that the women should go to the office at the U.K. to apply for their long-residency visas. This was a mistake. Both women are Irish citizens with Irish passports. I think this is in our favor because the Irish embassy is not as busy as the U.K., and they are more friendly. That has been my experience in entering America from Ireland. I am prodding them to get ready and ask questions to Jayanta if he will accept a twenty-mintute WhatsApp phone call with them. He says he is giving it his attention and is doing the best he can; he knows I’m in anxiety, but tells me to leave the worrying to him.
A repairman came to check the quality of our well water, which we use for bathing, washing, drinking, etc. He may want to sell us water softener. We haven’t had the water examined in twelve years. The man disrupted our journal-writing session and did a disappointing analysis of our water. He told us what we already knew: that we have iron and sulfur in our water. We are going to have a more thorough examination, testing the biological content. Meanwhile we go on drinking from the Chatham springs, which we gather in big bottles, and we bathe and wash our clothes in the tap water.
All these nondevotees, Prabhupada, why do I
listen to them? I hear how they write
their speeches and I look at the lines of their poems
so I can write better for you.
Remember you once mentioned to your devotees in New York
that they could learn something—
how to do the laundry and heat a building—
from Jehovah’s Witnesses? Even from the Ramakrsna Mission.
But best to keep clear of them, I know.
I’m reading of Priyavrata who wanted to
remain brahmacari with Narada on a hilltop.
The Lord ordered Brahma, “Go tell Priyavrata
that his duty is to become king.”
I am happy writing on
this hilltop and as long as no
authorized messenger comes insisting
that he knows better than Narada,
I’ll stay at your lotus feet this way.
Your orders are my life-blood, life-air
chant Hare Krsna, hear about Krsna,
think of Lord Krsna while serving Him.
Implicit faith in guru. How I serve
is a detail. You said, ‘There are so many ways.’
Main thing is honest work and desire to
serve Gurudeva with life’s talents and works.
I speak to you confidently today.
You are with me.
But I am also trembling, unsure of myself,
a fool before you.
I have found you
and yet I seek you. Kindly reciprocate with me,
who came to you in New York City.”
“He couldn’t keep the drum beat slow
like I wanted it to sing to thee
in ‘samsara’s’ odes. So I tried
to sing along,
felt the aura in the
Hari-nama’s blessing on all—
all bequeathed by Prabhupada.
Handsome faces, the devotees circle
around the tulasi in the daily ritual,
everything at the same time,
I’m not complaining. We like it.
Please make me a maidservant.
Tulasi-devi, please make me a devotee
singing in the temple around
the healthy devotional plant.
Where is Srila Prabhupada?
He’s in his picture over the vyasasana.
He’s in me and you and the words
‘daring and active’ which describe
the fixed devotee. He’s in
the will to cooperate among devotees.
And in Parasurama dasa’s schemes
for pada-yatras, with a museum, prasadam distribution
and converting a village to Krsna consciousness.
Srila Prabhupada, please accept our obeisances
I’m traveling today from
Poland to Prague in hope of representing
you at the Sunday Feast lecture.
I’ll speak nayam deho-deha,
what a father taught his 100 sons.
You’ll be in my words.
You’re our father telling
the hard truths no one wants to accept—
give up sin,
Krsna is not known by any other method.”
I was worried
that when I give my talk on Prabhupada
they might not laugh at the funny parts,
something will get lost in the translation
and I’ll be left pulling a huge horse cart
all alone and I won’t even know
I need their help.
But I’m ready if it happens.
I’ll keep diving into the memories.
I gave Prabhupada a mango every day
because he spoke of them.
He said, “This is love, this is Krsna consciousness.”
I said to him I am feeling hopeful
and this Krsria consciousness seems very strong.
I said I have to go for the weekend to my parents’ home,
but not without telling you
because you are my guru and you ought to
approve of my movements or at least know
why I am missing from your sight
for a few days.
Yes, he smiled, that is all right.
And he let me go and come back.
If they don’t laugh, that’s all right.
Maybe it’s not even funny.
Just tell it, what you said and what the Swami said.
I said the buildings don’t frighten me anymore.
Swamiji, I saw a man drunk or maybe crazy in the street
he was directing traffic. That same man
had attended the temple kirtana the night before.
‘Oh, he was a madman?’ Swamiji said.
He lived in New York
above the noises, anger,
a lotus floating on the water,
plain transcendental goodness he wanted from us—
respect the holy name, no meat or intoxication,
no illicit sex. Just chant with us.
Maybe the devotees here know all this
from Prabhupada-lilamrta. But I’ll tell it again.
Under the tree at 6 P.M., they can laugh
or listen or look off and
think of their own work.
I will tell and be satisfied.
I will desire that someone
become a pure devotee of my spiritual master.”
Prabhupada, I’m well enough to give the class.
I’ve got my notes and memories of things you’ve said.
I can represent you.
Today, class is about the ten divisions of the Bhagavatam.
The first nine are meant to set apart the tenth which is Krsna,
the summum bonum.
I’ll stick to what you’ve said.
These are farmers but I want to tell them
we all need to know the philosophy
and that’s done by hearing and repeating.
That’s how Sukadeva and Six Gosvamis
got such perfect knowledge.
The first item is creation.
It doesn’t happen by chance:
Life comes from life.
I will also raise the question, ‘Why not go at once
to the pastimes of Krsna with the gopis
which are sweeter than anything?’
I have your answers
and I have adopted them as my own.
I don’t want to jump over.
I will end the lecture by saying,
‘What is Krsna doing in Vrndavana?’
I’ll sing the stanza you taught us
cintamani-prakara-sadmasu . . .
it’s a window on the spiritual world.
Krsna returns from cowherding
and all vrajavasis strain to see Him,
the boys tell what wonderful acts He did,
and the gopis embrace Him with their eyes.
I’m well enough to give the class
and sobered. Material nature can take away my power.
Please let me live this brief chance.”
“Last night they asked me
‘When you missed the first initiation,
what happened so you decided
to take it?’
I said, ‘I went to the wedding,
Swamiji invited me,
and saw the boys with new red beads
around their necks . . .’ As I said it,
I took out my own,
like magic out of the bead bag,
28 years later still shining, I
put them around my neck .. .
‘And they had new names like Jagannatha
instead of Jim and Mukunda
instead of Michael. And the samosas were
so good—cooked by Swamiji—
at that wedding feast that Brahmananda
decided on the spot to become a devotee.’
My Czech farm audience laughed.
I told them I went to you,
Swamiji, and asked to be initiated
at the next ceremony on
‘But you’ll have to be a strict
vegetarian,’ you said. Is that how it happened? At
least those are the events, the
red beads, the feast, Swamiji in
his room . . . I can’t remember more.
He brought me to him.
Now this morning, I cannot bring to me
a disciple as you dragged us.
I don’t have that power.
I sang in mangala-arati,
thinking that ‘everything’
must be offered to you.
My life is in your care as we
drive off to Germany.”
“What’s wrong with ISKCON? It’s agonizing to think about it. Let’s admit the wrongs and either cry or laugh. ISKCON is riddled with faults—we all know it. By expressing that as fully as possible, I hope I threw off some of the doomsday rhetoric. Don’t let the analysis become faultfinding or deliberate bashing or even hopelessness or nihilism. If we go too far in that direction, we’ll think we should abandon the sinking ship. But then what? Will we drown in the ocean of maya? A flawed ISKCON is better than no ISKCON. Yes, we need to reform the institution, and that starts with undeceiving ourselves. It’s painful.
“The big question is whether (and in what way, how much) we should tell others that ISKCON is deeply wrong. People are already broadcasting it in many ways. I don’t necessarily want to align myself with them. I don’t agree with everything that is said. Therefore, I feel best working on my own integrity. Everyone has an opinion and a voice, and many people have solutions. It reminds me of how everyone has the exact thing to cure someone else’s disease. I have not found that to be true even in ten years of experimentation.
“Who, then, should be ISKCON’s doctor? Prabhupada! But who shall tell us what Prabhupada ‘really wants’? Again, many opinions.
“Therefore, I don’t want to be a hypocrite. I want to be true to Prabhupada’s basic teachings, not because the institution’s law forces me to be true, but because I have discovered the truth of his principles in my own life. Don’t give money to Mr. Price; don’t be one of the eleven zonal gurus and set yourself above others; don’t be proud; don’t be a tool for cynical and mistaken forces.
“Writing and being alone can help. Everything is subject to examination. Krsna! Please let us go on serving You in sravanam-kirtanam visnoh-smaranam. Please accept the work I’m doing as a contribution to the whole.”
“ . . . Prabhupada nodded yes. Then Subhananda asked Prabhupada for his blessings so he could write the book.
“‘In some of your purports,’ said Subhananda, ‘you explain that one cannot write transcendental literature unless he is empowered by his spiritual master.’
Prabhupada waved his arm and said, ‘You’re empowered.’ Subhananda had had a long, formal presentation in mind, but Srila Prabhupada had suddenly answered all his questions. To Subhananda, Prabhupada’s gesture was on the one hand casual, yet it was very dramatic. He had moved his arm just as though it were a magic wand, and in one transcendental motion he said, ‘You’re empowered.’ Subhananda wasn’t sure whether to take it that Prabhupada meant that he was already empowered or that he was now hereby empowering Subhananda on the spot. Either interpretation meant the same thing, and Subhananda felt confident and humble. He knew that he had no personal qualification to write unless Prabhupada gave him the ability.”
“you see we wanted to
be on top of the situation
but the head prevented
me from a delicious
summer dawn walk
I wanted to be with Sri
Krsna I say, but I can’t
yearn can’t earn
such blissful perfection
I’m down here concerned
with myself waiting
for the next sensation
and my writing and painting
and worries, our ISKCON
our Prabhupada and the
I suppose that’s our
way to Krsna, to serve
His mission in this
world, serve His devotee
who left us with
things to do. Krsna Krsna
say His names at least
and don’t fall asleep.
be soft and care
be hard when you need
to, fight for the cause
and don’t flinch. Be a
preacher like your master
We waited long enough
we cried ‘when will
the blues ever leave?’
We were grateful.
Don’t test me too hard
don’t desert me,
give me reverent taste
to hear you.”
“The gopis came to Krsna, being captivated by His beautiful features. They came to Him out of lust. They loved Krsna heart and soul. They heard His flute, and when their husbands, brothers and fathers tried to stop them, they didn’t care. They ran out of the house to join Krsna. Some gopis were stopped, and they gave up their lives.
“You have to have eagerness, either out of lust or wanting to steal His ornaments, or whatever. Srila Rupa Gosvami has composed a poem of one gopi talking to another. She says, ‘My dear friend, there is one boy, Govinda, standing by the Kesi ghata playing His flute in the moonlight. Don’t go there, because if you have a desire to enjoy with your family, if you once see Krsna, you’ll forget all material enjoyment.’
“If you are eager, you will see Him. Rupa Gosvami also said that if it is possible to purchase Krsna, then do it at once. But what is the price? You must have eagerness, laulyam. It is not so easy. It cannot be achieved by practicing pious activities for millions of years. But it is possible by the association of devotees. You have to think, ‘I must see Krsna in this life.’ This life is not for being like hogs and dogs. You’ll achieve knowledge and detachment. This is the only institution giving this knowledge. It is the knowledge to stop death. As soon as one gets this knowledge, you become detached from all nonsense.
“When you develop your love of God, then you will feel nice. If you practice religion and develop love of God, then it is actual religion. If you don’t develop love of God, it’s not religion.
“The method is very simple. You chant the Hare Krsna mantra. Prabhupada said that his students were Christians and Jews, but he has given them the Hare Krsna transcendental mantra. ‘Mantra’ means to deliver the mind. The chanting of Hare Krsna is so nice. Experiment for one week: Hare Krsna Hare Krsna Krsna Krsna Hare Hare/ Hare Rama Hare Rama Rama Rama Hare Hare.”
“The birds hear the flute. Don’t ask, ‘How can there be such birds?’ Don’t ask, ‘Why is there anything?’ Srila Prabhupada explains that there is a ball dance in this world because it comes from Krsna’s original rasa dance. Everything here has its origin in the Supreme. This is stated in the Vedanta aphorism, janmady asya yatah—everything emanates from the Supreme Personality of Godhead.
“That is why there are birds. In this world, the birds are an expression of His artistic nature. Various species exist to fulfill the desires of conditioned souls to have certain types of bodies with a certain set of senses. It is maya’s arrangement. It is a punishment or an awarding of karma. We wanted the human form of life, thinking it could satisfy our desires for happiness. But it is defective—asat, acit, nirananda. In human life, we can learn of our big mistake and learn of the terrible system we have bought into. We can desire to get out of the cycle of birth and death. This awakening comes from hearing the spiritual master. The one who awakens our devotion to Krsna consciousness is the spiritual master.
“Vedic science is passed down from guru to disciple. By the same system that teaches us the transcendental ABCs (‘You are not this body’), we can also learn of Krsna’s flute and the bliss it gives the birds who hear it in Vraja. The birds are not symbolic. They are birds. But to understand anything about these vrajavasi birds, we have to hear from the Vedic literature. We can do this not only in sessions where we sit at the guru’s lotus feet and hear him speak, but we can read the commentaries and verses of scripture. By hearing from the guru in person, and by serving him, we can hear him speak in parampara in his books. The books are enhanced by hearing—the books are opened by the explanations of the spiritual master. We should be in the mood of Maharaja Pariksit, who heard his spiritual master speak with great urgency. Impending death should make us inquisitive, learned, and faithful.”
“Up during the night with headache behind right eye, I missed my 3:30 A.M. appointment with this book. So here I am, trying to get back into it. It’s like standing in the waves of the ocean, on the beach, waiting for the waves to carry you. Here comes one.
“You think something may come or should come or wants to come. What? Some different kind of writing where you just go right for it, again and again some intensity of personal desires expressed in Krsna consciousness. It would be at one time more literary than these chapters so far and at the same time it would be more personal in self-help mood. That would be done by dropping all attempts to make chapters in a book? Waiting for the waves, talking about this to a companion. We ride whatever comes and talk about a big one.
“Old man and the sea: over thirty days he caught nothing, then a fish so big he couldn’t handle it with his meager equipment. He used all his strength and hauled it in. But then a shark came and ate the fish. He was lucky to escape with his own life and came back and, we presume, he died shortly after that because after all, he was an old man.”
April showers like monsoon
floods overnight, how shall it
affect all the work digging they did
in the yard? Today’s the last
of the Swami’s lectures, I shall
attend. It’s a matinee, he’ll unroll
Gaudiya Vaisnava wisdom, and
I can sit in a chair.
Awaiting through the computer
three hundred pages of Prabhupada Smaranam
to proofread and get an idea
if it’s a good, important book
with photos of the Divine Master
and commentary on them.
We are snug in this house to
ourselves keep our solitude
three men plus guests,
workers in the yard.
Krsna is the center, read from the books
teachings to Rupa Goswami,
Pariksit going to war against
Kali and the Vedas personified
prayers against the Mayavada.
Hear from three books
and take in the nectar
to sustain yourself.
Dress in sannyasa clothes to
attend the lecture alert
and submissive adding
to your community participation,
be there on time, quiet
and all ears for his
philosophic droll erudite
It’s good to be an audience
to an advanced speaker and
take part in kirtana before
the lecture. It makes you
making an appearance with
the group who have come to
honor and respect his
considerable knowledge and
add to your own understanding
of Gaudiya Vaisnava teachings.
It’s just for one day and then
you return to your
alone ways of writing
the personal story, hope
it will keep coming.”
“A disciple of mine has written to me asking my blessings on his desire to worship the Divine Couple in the mood of a gopi manjari. He states: ‘I am inspired to tell you, bashful and a little shameful, of a desire that has been in my heart for about twenty-five years. When I read the Krsna book for the first time, His amusements with the gopis, the first thing which impressed me and remained deeply imprinted in my heart was the natural purity of the manjari gopis who could, because of their innocence, participate in the divine love pastimes. This wonderful feeling has been dormant deeply in my heart, never spoken of, but along with the desire to develop their innocence and their natural purity in the service to Radha and Krsna.
“Is the desire of mine legitimate? Or is it presumptuous? I would like to state beforehand that I am considering the inevitable event of my passing, which according to an expert astrologer in Vrndavana should happen at the age of 82, therefore towards the end of this year.”
“He goes on to say he considers it his duty to ask for my strong approval. He also states ‘this will warrant me a long journey, life after life, until the Divine Couple will be satisfied by my purity and innocence.’
“What can I say to him? Shall I tell him not to inspire for manjari bhava? It is such a personal thing. I have quoted somewhere Gaurakisora das Babaji saying not to aspire for this until your heart is pure in love of Godhead. Can you aspire to reach the adhikara required? He taught us to serve for Krsna’s pleasure, and pray at the time of death, ‘How may I serve You?’ Yes, pray to become a gopi manjari, but accept whatever Krsna offers you. Should he pray to be a gopi manjari or pray to be a blade of grass in Vraja or just pray to hang on to Prabhupada’s cloth and beg him to take you in the back door of Goloka with his special key — for any service?
“What if he is determined to be gopi manjari and wants to keep coming back until he is pure and innocent enough? Should you discourage him? Should you tell him he’s just dreaming?
“What about yourself? What do you aspire for? Do you want to go serve Prabhupada wherever he is? Do you want to serve him in Krsnaloka, or if he desires on a mission in this material world? Give me a little time, and I will tell you.”
“Prabhupada gave some general hints on how his books should be approached. They should not be read haphazardly. The purports can be likened to the compositions of Mozart, Beethoven, or Bach. To an uneducated ear, they appear to be all the same, but to a student of musicology, each composition has his own particular style. Each purport is similarly constructed in its own way and can be appreciated and learned. Although we may tend to think that the purports are repetitious, we have to learn to appreciate them by regularly hearing them and learning to savor their uniqueness.
“The books should not be read separate from practical engagement in Krsna consciousness. ‘Philosophy must be there. But if you do not also apply the philosophy by participating in all temple affairs . . . then simply learning the philosophy will have no effect.’ We should also study his books more than just in the morning Bhagavatam class. Ideally, devotees should attend the evening program and also do some individual reading on their own.
“Some devotees find it helpful to take notes while reading; others find this distracting. Some like to cross-reference as they study. It is also nice to read and write down everything you remember from the reading at the very end. Some read more in the mood of prayer. There are no hard and fast rules. Simply read Prabhupada‘s books.
“Prabhupada’s purports are full of his personality. He was a good writer with a strong voice. Sometimes exchanges he was having with his disciples would carry into his writing, and he would take the opportunity to preach to the whole world through one devotee’s success or failure. In the Fourth Canto, he mentioned Govinda dasi’s successful transplanting of the Tulasi plant, and in the Eighth Canto, in the chapter called ‘The Elephant Gajendra’s Crisis,’ he discussed a disciple’s fall from sannyasa.”
“In Prabhupada Meditations we are recalling the activities of a particular Prabhupada, A.C. Bhaktivedanta Swami. We do not mean to imply that he is the only pure devotee or the only Prabhupada. But neither should a reader claim that these Prabhupada meditations are primarily intended to describe the category of pure devotees rather than the particular bhaktivedanta who came to New York City in 1965 and began the Hare Krsna movement.
“I am in fact praising our spiritual master, Swamiji, Abhay Charan Bhaktivedanta Swami Prabhupada, and I am advocating that devotees now and in the future may take shelter of him through his Bhaktivedanta purports and by practicing bhakti-yoga in connection with the International Society for Krsna Consciousness. There is nothing objectionable according to Vaisnava philosophy in seeing all good qualities of the Vaisnava in a particular spiritual master. It could be argued further that only in the personal relationship with the guru is one’s faith tested, is service rendered, and are the truths of the Vedas revealed.
“Specifically we advocate following A.C. Bhaktivedanta Swami Prabhupada by hearing about him from his authorized followers and in this way, becoming a Prabhupadanuga.
“In remembering Srila Prabhupada, what he did and what he taught, we also come to appreciate the previous Prabhupada jagat-gurus and great souls in the disciplic succession of pure God consciousness. In this way, Prabhupada meditations escape the confines of narrow sectarianism or personality cultism. To appreciate Srila Prabhupada means to appreciate all the great devotees described in the Vedic histories and also those devotees, sons of God and prophets who appeared in lands outside of the Vedic culture. Srila Prabhupada also taught us to appreciate contemporary devotees of the Lord, based on the symptoms of love of God—wherever we find uninterrupted and unmotivated devotional service to the Supreme.
Prabhupada meditations are dictated by love. God’s mercy comes to us in a personal form. We want to remember our particular rescuer. Finding the qualities of our teacher to be very great, we want to tell others of him and encourage them to follow Prabhupada. We are thinking of Srila Prabhupada, therefore, both in the exclusive sense as well as the inclusive sense. Prabhupada expressed this in ‘The Universal Teacher,’ a Vyasa-puja homage he wrote honoring his own spiritual master, Bhaktisiddhanta Sarasvati Thakura:
“‘The acaryadeva to whom we have assembled tonight to offer our humble homage is not the guru of a sectarian institution or one out of many differing exponents of the truth. On the contrary, he is the jagad-guru, or the guru of all of us; the only difference is that some obey him wholeheartedly while others do not obey him directly.’”
The green moss,
the gray sky, a
Gaudiya preacher with
men from the Czech Republic
had some business in Dublin
but missed me.
A knock on the door.
You caught me in.
Lunch and now move
on, to nap and painting,
listless but the hand
keeps moving inexpert,
you say, “All right,
Hare Krishna, that sixteenth round
still to be done. Your
own life. Happy at all
these doings. The
smaller collection remains.
He fears he may spend
them in a dismal
“Just be grateful like
the baby praying
in the womb and you’ll
he says loudly.
Turn the volume down.
Green moss, gray sky,
this Zen monk has invented
a philosophy of his own
He makes fun of his wife,
pitiable, human words
so well chosen, remembering
long after, tender, elegiac
And I? And you. Govardhana
not a myth. Beat that drum.
I can visualize the scene in
cold Newcastle, the congregation
mostly Indian, so
they believe it in their way
Say what you will – surrender
to Krishna and He will protect. Surely,
He can lift a hill.
And the other day’s compact
with “disciples’ meetings.” They’re
looking back at me. I have
nothing new to say, but seek allegiance, love
in return for honesty.
all voluntary. Yes, you
have to have it before
you can give it.
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.