Satsvarupa das Goswami Maharaja
Saturday, July 2, 2022
Meeting of Disciples and friends of SDG
The Veterans of Foreign Wars Hall
845 Hudson Avenue
Stuyvesant Falls, New York 12173
There is plenty of parking near the Hall. The facility is just a few minutes’ walk from SDG’s home at 909 Albany Ave.
10:00 – 10:30 A.M. Opening Kirtana
10:30 – 11:00 A.M. Lecture by SDG
11:00 – 11:30 P.M. Presentation of New Books
11:30 – 12:00 P.M. Opportunity to Purchase New Books
12:00 – 1:00 P.M. Arati and Kirtana
1:00 — 2:00 P.M. Prasadam Feast
Baladeva Vidyabhusana [email protected]
SDG: “I request as many devotees as possible to attend so we can feel the family spirit strongly. I become very satisfied when we are all gathered together.”
Srila Prabhupāda: “Therefore, our Society is association. If we keep good association, then we don’t touch the darkness. What is the association? There is a song, sat-saṅga chāḍi’ kainu asate vilāsa, te-kāraṇe lāgila mora karma-bandha-phāṅsa (Gaurā Pahū, verse 3). Sat-saṅga. Sat-saṅga means association with the devotees. So the one poet, Vaiṣṇava poet, is regretting that, “I did not keep association with the devotees, and I wanted to enjoy life with the nondevotees. Therefore I’m being entangled in the fruitive activities.” Karma bandha phāṅsa. Entanglement.” [Conversation with David Wynne, July 9, 1973, London]
Our team worked hard to prepare for the festival of Nrsimha’s Appearance Day. We set up two tents in the yard, and the devotees of Viraha Bhavan worked long hours preparing the feast and arranging the flowers. There were many lilacs. About fifteen guests attended our little festival. Krishna Kripa led long kirtanas with melodious voice and harmonium. We sang Hare Krsna and prayers to Nrsimhadeva. After about an hour of kirtana, when the cooks finished in the kitchen, I began my talk. I used my fictional short story, Am I a Demon or a Vaisnava. The devotees seemed to enjoy the presentation, and they applauded afterwards. We were hooked up by Zoom to our out-loud reading group, who also heard the story. It should be available on my YouTube station soon. (https://drive.google.com/file/d/17enEVYjLi5Uu2Oa5Rt1_Jd_U-0HKzO5v
Then Ravindra Svarupa spoke. He recalled the 9/11 attack on the World Trade Center and the crashing of a plane into the Pentagon building. He was invited to speak at an interfaith conference in Washington, D.C. He read the prayer by Prahlada Maharaja that is found in the Fifth Canto of Srimad-Bhagavatam:
“May there be good fortune throughout the universe, and may all envious persons be pacified. May all living entities become calm by practicing bhakti-yoga, for by accepting devotional service they will think of each other’s welfare. Therefore let us all engage in the service of the supreme transcendence, Lord Sri Krsna, and always remain absorbed in thought of Him.” (S.B. 5.18.9)
Ravindra Svarupa read it, Sanskrit and English.
After the speeches, Krsna-kumari dasi performed an arati to the Deities. Then prasadam was served. There were many well-made preparations, but it was a little too rich for me, and I didn’t eat so much. But the other participants seemed to like it and took a lot. Some of devotees honored prasadam indoors at the kitchen table, while others ate outside under the tents. The weather was very pleasant—warm but breezy, and there was much casual talk while eating. It was a rare treat that Saci Suta stayed for the whole festival and played the mrdanga the entire time. Then he also stayed for the feast. Atindra and his wife Lalita-kaisori showed up on the festival day at 7:30 in the morning. Lalita-kaisori helped decorate the whole temple room, including the altar. Atindra set up the tents outside, put out tables and chairs for the prasadam and dismantled them in the afternoon just before the rains came.
The day after the festival, the inmates of Viraha Bhavan were tired out from all the extra activity and work and lack of sleep. They took extra naps and ate the prasadam left over from the feast. Baladeva is delivering my copy of Am I a Demon or a Vaisnava? to Ravindra Svarupa Prabhu. Yesterday after I gave my talk from the book, he was very enthusiastic to have a copy. So this makes me happy. We’ll give him one of our last copies.
In my “Author’s Note” to Am I a Demon or a Vaisnava?, I made reference to the writers Dostoevsky and Victor Hugo, and I said they used devices in fiction similar to what I used in my books. I think Ravindra will enjoy that, being so much a broadminded literary man.
One of the benefits of holding a festival is that we had a thorough, major clean-up outdoors afterwards. Outdoors this meant all the roses had the deadwood cut out of them, and then they were mulched. And Anuradha dasi trimmed all the edges, so there were nice, sharp lines between the mulch and the lawn. Indoors, Haridasa from Schenectady came and cleaned the porch of accumulated debris from the winter, and indoors he swept and mopped the whole place, cleaned the guest bathroom and the kitchen floor, all of which had needed attention for some time now. The women cleaned up the pujari room and changed the dress of Radha-Govinda. They did a good job; Krsna dasi’s training is successful.
I continue reading Sri Bhaktivinoda Vani-Vibhava. It is a collection of questions and answers, but the answers taken from the writings of Bhaktivinoda Thakura. They cover the subjects of sambhandha, abhidheya and prayojana. The answers tend to be short, so it is an accessible, easy way of imbibing Bhaktivinoda Thakura’s teachings. Here are some examples:
1 Can one compromise with the teachings of Sri Caitanya Mahaprabhu to ease the mind of the materialists?
BVT: “If one tries to satisfy materialistic people, one will gradually face many anarthas, and one will float in the continuous wave of Mayavadi. One can accept the faultless support of the materialist in order to preach devotional service to Sri Gauranga. But it is extremely unlawful to compromise with the teachings of Sri Caitanya just to please their mind.” (Sajjana Tosani 11/3)
2 Does an intelligent person postpone his hari-bhajana to the old age?
BVT: “An intelligent person never says, ‘I will worship Hari at the end of my life, now let me enjoy material happiness.’ Because this material body is fallible at any moment.” (Kalyana-kalpataru, Song 8)
3 In ordinary dealings, how long should a devotee associate with a materialist?
BVT: “One should not associate with persons who are adverse to the Lord’s service. One will have to meet such people in his ordinary dealings, but one should deal with him only until the work is finished. After the work is finished, one should not deal with him.” (Sajjana Tosani, 11/6)
This book was compiled on the order of Bhaktisiddhanta Sarasvati Thakura. The questions were compiled by Bhaktisiddhanta Sarasvati’s disciple Sundarananda, and the answers come directly from the Thakura’s writings.
My New Writing book is progressing along. I just finished extracting poems from Srila Rupa Gosvami’s Padyavali, and I was very satisfied to do it. Now I’m starting to read Sri Suka-sari-stava by Krsnadasa Kaviraja. In this book, a learned couple of male and female parrots approach the Divine Couple, and the male recites the glories of Krsna, while the female sings that Radha is best. It’s written in ornate poetical language and churns up the rasa of Radha and Krsna. I quoted the poems and made some brief commentaries based on my present realization, hoping that it will get deeper as I go along.
A “rabbit” is an anecdote or interesting story that has a Krsna conscious message embedded in its gut. When Prabhupada had a stroke in 1967, we placed a picture of Nrsimhadeva on the altar, and he asked his disciples in NYC and San Francisco to pray: “Our spiritual master has not finished his work.” (On the Jaladuta he had no disciples to engage in prayer, but in a vision he saw Krsna rowing a boat and saying that he would be all right.) There were several serious illnesses over the years. In his last days, he gave us this prayer: “My dear Lord Krsna, if You desire, please cure Srila Prabhupada.”
Today a large truck dropped off two pallets of books that had been stored for twenty years in the basement of the temple at Newcastle, England. They were the last books left from our heavy European distribution days. The temple was very glad to oblige us and bring them back here by ship. Janardana, Baladeva and Anuradha transferred them from the palettes into our storage facility. The following is a list of books that have arrived (most which we didn’t have in stock):
The crew was exhausted but happy when it was done. Now we have all the books that exist consolidated in one place (except for what’s in the garage at Viraha Bhavan, and they will be transferred over soon to the book storage). If anyone would like to help, they could put all the miscellaneous books left from different festivals into separate marked boxes. Then we will really know what we have.
In the fourth chapter, Sri Krsna says: “I instructed this imperishable science of yoga to the sun god, Vivasvan, and Vivasvan instructed it to Manu, the father of mankind, and Manu in turn instructed it to Iksvaku.” Accepting that before the birth of Manu, the Gita was spoken by the Lord to His disciple the sun god, Vivasvan, a rough estimate is given that the Gita was spoken at least 120,400,000 years ago, and in human society it has been extant for 2,000,000 years. It was respoken by the Lord to Arjuna 5000 years ago. There are innumerable interpretations rendered by different mundane scholars, but almost all of them do not accept the Supreme Personality of Godhead, Krsna, although they make a good business on the words of Sri Krsna. This spirit is demonic because demons do not believe in God but simply enjoy the property of the Supreme. Prabhupada writes,
“Since there is a great need of an edition of the Gita in English, as it is received by the parampara system, an attempt is made herewith to fulfill this great want. Bhagavad-gita, accepted as it is, is a great boon to humanity, but if it is accepted as a treatise of philosophical speculation, it is simply a waste of time.” (Bg.4.2, purport)
We are getting a few days of cooler weather before the summer heat starts. We’ve given Anuradha the day off to go bicycling as a relief break from her high-octane working pace. Everyone is amazed at how much she gets done. Baladeva is continuing to work outdoors. Today he clipped the dead wood out of the old rose garden, and then he will mulch that. Then he will move on to the side of the driveway where the decorative fence is and make a marigold garden for the Deities and mulch that to keep the weeds away. It will call for a lot more watering to keep the flowers fresh and multiplying. Marigolds are especially hardy—the more you pick them the more they produce—all the way to October. They are a favorite with the pujaris. The spring flowers are mostly gone, and then the heat comes. But Muktavandya brings a load of flowers almost every two weeks, and that keeps up the standard (along with the marigolds). So we can keep the very high standard of new flowers every day for Radha-Govinda, and garlands for Gaura-Nitai. It is an opulence. Along with the marigolds, the roses we planted last summer will continue blooming all through September. Those roses kept their original beauty and aroma. We also have red roses like they have in Vrndavana with the same rich flavor, and they bloom all summer. These flowers are so fragrant that just by putting a few petals in water we have rose water to bathe Radha-Govinda in when They are changed every three days. Krsna blesses us at Viraha Bhavan with all these natural opulences.
Baladeva’s sister phoned, and I picked up the line first. I talked with her about what she’s been doing. She was recently in Florida spending time with an old friend, Evelyn, who was a Unitarian minister, 98 years old and in her last days of living. She died while Kathi was down there, but Kathi had a plane booked and there were several close relatives there. So Kathi took the plane back to Maine. Then she got a very bad cold, and for a while lost her voice. That lasted for two weeks. She tested for COVID, but it wasn’t that. She just got her voice back and called Baladeva first. She had wanted to call earlier because she thought she might even die, but she had no voice to talk. Now she is planning to come with her son to Boston in June to hear from a Buddhist teacher. We are sorry she’s not more Krsna conscious. Baladeva invited her to come here, and she said she’d think about it. We have no man booked to be here in June, so she and her 50-year-old son Dave are good sevites, so they could help out if they came here. She’s thinking about it, but she didn’t jump at the chance—partly because she’s still sick. But she says she likes to come here because she likes to relax. Baladeva says I should put the world “relax” in quotation marks because when she comes she inevitably works real hard, and David too.
Every Wednesday morning the county waste garbage truck pulls up at our house, which is part of their route, and they pick up two bins of refuse. If we’re quick and run ont on time, we ask them to take some Krsna prasadam. All of the drivers (and they change them) are willing to accept it, while some drivers are more enthusiastic than others. But they all take it. We try to give them something which is universally acceptable such as spinach and paneer with puris. We also give sometimes potato chips or laddus or cookies, and always with a bottle of soda. In this way we cultivate a pleasant and potent exchange. Because they travel so widely the word gets around that the people at 909 Albany Ave. are “special.”
Prabhupada was preaching and I am
like a cricket by the hearth,
listening 20 years later.
He’s talking to a professor in L.A.
The door squeaks and more guests come
into his room. ‘Hare Krsna.’
He’s telling them all, though facing the professor—
even a little God consciousness is so valuable.
His disciples were drug-addicted but gave it
up at once when he asked them. ‘Your government
is spending millions of dollars to stop
the drug habit, but it is all failure.’
God consciousness . . . he makes it sound universal.
He makes it sound easy,
which it is when you are with him.
God consciousness, he skillfully explains
that Krsna is the God of gods
as told in Bhagavad-gita and by
sages of ancient past and ‘most recently’
Prabhupada says, ‘I’m a Hindu so I may accept
Krsna as superstition, you may think.
But then why these boys and girls of Europe
and America, why they have accepted Krsna?’
Even the Christian priest was amazed. He said,
‘These were our boys but they didn’t care for God.
Now they are mad after God.’
I’m sitting in a corner listening
fighting off demons of sleep, inattention,
faultfinding—they bite me like fleas . . .
I go on listening and
pray to be his sisya always,
and to preach like him, fresh and innocent
strong as iron bars and soft as a rose,
full of life—and, secret to us,
his eternal rasa.
‘What do you think?’ he asks the professor
and the man’s reply is lame.
No one can stand before him.
That’s how I feel, and it’s a fact.
I pray to worship and serve him always
with heart in the right place.”
You explained your success: “I never compromised
with anything which is not spoken by Krsna.
Did you mark, it or not?”
I marked it, Srila Prabhupada
and now you are marking me.
Please keep me despite my defects,
please don’t give up training me.
He lives in his books and in the
memories of his disciples, Professor Rochford said
Some devotees dream of him.
The GBC says even an uninitiated bhakta
can dress the Prabhupada
No one is stopping anyone from going to him
in his room in Vrndavana except
at 7 P.M. on the annual observance
of his disappearance.
And then it’s senior devotees only
(unless you can squeeze in somehow). I
was there, holding the arati flame,
standing by his rose-covered bed,
blowing the conch
in the room packed with his devotees.
And so my dear master, you have gone
to your nitya-lila, leaving us here
quarreling (thus proving personalism).
Sometimes the leaders get together and declare,
“Now we are cooperating as never before”
while others say the leadership is uninspired.
Prabhupada left in 1977.
It was what Krsna wanted.
I am finding my way
to serve you
Prabhupada, far away, coming close
to let us preach.
You know the life force of compassionate preaching.
In this world it’s better than contemplating
Radha and Krsna on one’s own.
“Come out and preach,” you say
and if one answers, “I’m busy,
I’m chanting and can’t leave the dhama,”
you expose him as some kind of pretender.
I want to be loved by you,
so I try by the preacher’s route.
Dear Srila Prabhupada,
I have taken assignments.
I write. I also speak lectures.
I wander around, I read your books.
Whenever I sit to eat, I’m always
listening to your tapes.
Won’t you be with me
birth after birth?
Krsna and the soul are eternal
my link to you
will not be broken by death.
Your servant tells
how you get angry, how you smile.
You sacrifice your health.
You sleep very little,
you get up to write.
When you write it lasts for centuries, clear and
straight, your purports.
I worship your picture, your name.
I won’t leave your movement.
My link to you
will not be broken by death.”
His servants seem to know
almost everything about him.
Sometimes they speak when no one else is around
Prabhupada told of his previous life
according to an astrologer—he
was a doctor who never committed sin .. .
But his servant will be the first to admit
although Prabhupada shared very openly,
treating his disciples like intimate friends,
as if he liked nothing better than their company,
even though they were neophytes—
yet Prabhupada lives alone with Krsna
and his Guru Maharaja.
The first day he arrived in Mayapur in 1976
after the garlands
and talk in his room, they left him,
and Hari-sauri saw through the window
Prabhupada sitting upright, quiet,
but sometimes speaking something,
suspended for forty-five minutes.
Mostly he was with us but even then
the depth and drive of his preaching
couldn’t be grasped. He pushed
for the Lord, was gentle,
was pure and wrote at least a little bit every day.
When a disciple went to preach
on his behalf, he was pleased
and said, ‘This is life, preaching.
All others are dead.’
Srila Prabhupada, I have read all the books about you
and your books too. I am reading them again,
searching for you in my own acts.
Give up my selfishness,
cry to you for help.
In ‘samsara’ prayers
I see you in every verse
and you shine back to me
from your picture.”
Each working for our master,
now in separation.
Where do we find you?
Each in his own heart.
I find you in those special purports
when I am receptive or somehow
I see it all clearly and my
appreciation deepens as you
tell us of Krsna.
Right now I have no book,
I’m in a rented room,
about to leave for sannyasa
preaching. I can’t quote you
immediately but when I get a hold of your book . . .
you said we should know it
by memory not ‘my knowledge
is in the book. I’ll look it up.’
Without your books,
I think of your books.
Without you answering my letters,
I write them anyway and imagine
Without love or knowledge of God,
I depend on you completely.
‘That is theist,’ you said, faith
in Vedas. It is not enough to say,
‘I believe in God.’
Disciple of Prabhupada is
a tall order. Who claims it?
Maybe I can say weak disciple.
Your chela ever since you
in the old days.
I’ll still be your boy when
I’m ancient-looking and
when I’m a spiritual person
I will know who I am,
and you will give me service.”
Prabhupada, this morning I read
your purport to api cet su-duracaro.
I intended to read only the verse,
wanted a darsana with Lord Krsna.
(Thought it would be more mystical and
prayer-like to read only the verse.
But I read your purport and
I’m glad.) You’ve engaged the whole man,
body, mind, intellect and soul. I want
darsana of Krsna through you.
You want us to keep our vision
in Goloka but our feet on the ground—
so we can answer people’s questions
subdue our own doubts.
It’s mystical too, the mercy of
Lord Krsna—when our intelligence
stays fixed and we follow you
in your purports.
As if for the first time I read
about conditional and constitutional natures—
and how Lord Krsna forgives the devotee
when he makes a mistake.
Who would miss these words?
‘No one should take advantage
of this verse and commit nonsense
and think he is still a devotee.’”
“This is the summer marathon. In the last place, I heard severe criticism of certain lying tactics used by book distributors. After all these years, it’s still a controversy. The next temple, Zurich, is world famous for top book distribution scores. I’ll go there and hear respectfully something of their spirit. Or will I? I’ll mostly stay to myself and prepare lectures. Srila Prabhupada doesn’t directly talk much about book distribution or ‘sankirtana stories,’ and my talks are reviews and enlargements of what he says in a particular purport. If the sankinana men have something to say about book distribution’s glories, however, I’ll hear them and not mention the criticisms I just heard.
“This is the summer marathon. I keep going, approaching new sentences. Try to convey Krsna consciousness from the heart and memory. I read how Lord Krsna sat atop Garuda with Satyabhama beside Him, and He killed Narakasura’s soldiers with an inconceivable display of military might.
“This is the summer marathon. I avoid killing insects as much as possible, but sometimes it happens and one appears in a bathtub and I don’t take time to pick it out and it goes down the drain. I could take more care, like Mrgari brushing aside the ants. I could stop burning votive candles to protect the moths. They have a right to live. I am counting twenty-one days for this book and figuring to write many more, but an insect may not live even for twenty-one days. I shouldn’t cut his life shorter by my neglect.
“Summer marathon, Madhu chanting his rounds at night after driving seven hours this morning. I’m resting, I told you. I’m avoiding subjects that don’t seem suitable.
“What made me happy? That the headache went down. That we made a quick getaway from the temple at the end of tulasi-arati. That we crossed the border early (it seems so long ago). The morning and the rest I was able to take on my cot, the fact that I wrote while the van was speeding along. I feel relief (if not happiness) that we reached our destination, a campground, and that we have all day tomorrow with no duties except reading, chanting, and writing. Happy to be a devotee and to be aloof from the many contentious struggles and disagreements about this movement’s slow progress, be aloof from the social politics of the material world. It’s important to stay away from material influences or they will leak into my writing, my life, my dreams.”
A plan by Prabhupada,
it worked magically.
detached from sex life,
placing standing orders
in university libraries.
What no big publisher could ever do—
success wherever we went.
‘Do not doubt it,’ he wrote us.
‘This is the most important work.’
A different town every night,
together, six men
in a couple of vans,
we read from your manuscript
And we spoke of you.
Telling Prabhupada stories
was all I knew;
and what you said,
and what I saw you do.
The men all loved it,
to stories of you from me.
In the early morning,
we chanted our rounds.
Each would read to himself,
taking notes in diaries.
After buttermilk with granola
we changed from dhotis to suits,
loaded the briefcases into the vans
and drove to the target
where we worked as a team
to somehow get the orders
before the end of the day.
It was Prabhupada’s party,
based on his books.
It ran on his order
and won by his mercy.
Such freedom you gave us!
We were singing
with your singing
as we rode
roaming from state to state.
Brahmacaris without a care,
only the order of the guru!”
“Prabhupada is so sweet about what was probably a burden I was putting on him, asking him to write two books at once. In the process he tells us the importance of TLC, which contains instructions about Narada-bhakti-sutra. But then he says we’ll get back to it, and finally we did. Those were nice days working close to Prabhupada in a menial way. So eager to hear him speak the philosophy in his words. I was full of admiration in the way he spoke, not thinking, ‘His English isn’t good, it needs tons of editing.’ Rather, I liked his literary style, despite his English being a so-called second language. He used English in his own way. I took it as radical departure from normal English grammar, but why not? He can do it. Innocent days, happy days.
“Srila Prabhupada, I want you and Krsna in the center, but I keep flipping back to think about myself and how I’m serving. Because if I get inspired hearing about you, having your darsana, then it’s natural I have to get back inside my servant’s head and think, ‘What a wonderful master. How may I serve him?’ When your spiritual master said, ‘You ask me how you can serve me? Become a western preacher.’ So you had to think, ‘How shall I do it? I want to go to America. I must prepare the Bhagavatam. How will I get the money?’ All the time, how to serve Krsna? You use your intelligence, your initiative, but always for service of the guru. I’m thinking that I want to continue to be enthusiastic as I was for you in 1967.
“But now I can’t type your books that you’re dictating because you’re not doing that, so I’m typing my own books. I guess in the process I’m releasing my own desires. Let it come out, let it be better, let it be Krsna conscious. Let the books conquer and bring people to Krsna consciousness. This is my private war against maya from a timid soul. Weapons, cannon explosions, all done gently. Gentle power given by Krsna and guru. That’s my dream hope.”
“When I saw the initiates with their red beads and their new Sanskrit spiritual names, I immediately regretted that I didn’t get initiated. The next day, Swamiji, seeing through my hesitation, had said, ‘Doing this typing service isn’t mechanical. If you love me, then I will love you.’ Those words had cracked through my external shell and made me give up my hesitation in loving him as a person and surrendering to be his disciple. So two weeks later, at the second ISKCON initiation, I took the vows. I would obey him; I would serve him.
“Now I want to ask the question, over forty years later, ‘Do I regret it?’ The immediate answer, without hesitation, is ‘No.’ He has given me the keys to ultimate freedom in spiritual life. I still stand up to be counted as his disciple. I’ve had troubles in following the rules, and I have had trouble accepting the rule of the institution over my life, but I have overcome these troubles and I am at peace with the rules and with the institution. ISKCON has accepted me back from my troubles, and I am rendering service, mainly by writing and posting a daily website. I maintain a number of disciples who haven’t rejected me, and I write to them and occasionally meet with them. I am something of a loner among my senior Godbrothers, but I keep regular association in a community in which a number of devotees live. I chant sixteen rounds daily, follow all the rules and read my master’s books. In writing my autobiography I am appreciating his influence in my life. I am grateful that I am formed by him and identify myself as a Hare Krsna (ISKCON) member.
“I do keep a certain independence, but I don’t think it’s illegal. But I want to be included in the roster. I’m not the young man who decided he wasn’t ready to surrender. I’ve surrendered. I am no longer the GBC man traveling to several continents and many cities and fulfilling the responsibility of overseeing management of the temples (which I never did well, as even Prabhupada acknowledged). I’ve surrendered in a personal sense. This Krishna consciousness is my path, and Prabhupada is my spiritual master. I belong to the worldwide community of devotees in my own quiet way. I believe Prabhupada accepts me and watches over me. I pray to him to keep me and help me to improve.”
“Vaisnava literature teaches that a devotee should aspire to go back to Goloka Vrndavana, and he should choose a resident of Vrndavana and follow his example. I first heard this in 1967 while typing Prabhupada’s dictation of Teachings of Lord Chaitanya. I was curious about following a resident of Vrndavana, so I wrote to Prabhupada asking for more information. In a letter of March 21, 1967, he remarked, ‘For ourselves, when we are in the perfect stage of devotional service, we can know our eternal relation with Krsna, and as such one of the associates of Lord Krsna becomes our ideal leader. This acceptance of leadership by one of the eternal associates of the Lord is not artificial. Do not, therefore, try it at present; it will automatically be revealed to you in proper time.
“ . . . When this topic comes up in conversation I think of Srila Prabhupada, and how he may be considered the eternal resident of Vrndavana whom we should follow. This isn’t a concoction on my part, and neither is it meant to replace the teaching that one should follow Nanda Maharaja or the gopas or other eternal residents of Vrndavana. Once in India, some of Prabhupada’s disciples said they thought he was the eternal resident of Vrndavana whom they could follow. Prabhupada did not elaborate on the point, but he affirmed their sentiment.”
“Write to purify yourself. Cut through as soon as possible. Cutting through can mean being keen to express feelings and gut reactions, but it also means to reach a Krsna conscious expression, to touch a verse of sastra, a profound and helpful statement by Srila Prabhupada, to get close to it, to them, throughout the day. Krsna is revealed only to those who think of Him in parampara. My self-expression and honesty is for this. Otherwise, it becomes a mundane exercise.
“This combination of honesty and openness, even when it means groping through confusion, and the striking goal of Krsna consciousness by deliberate, prayerful embrace of sastric words—can be possible in the timed book. The book should not confine me by adherence to some formula or ‘story.’ Speak to the heart of the issue directly. Some of this feeling was aroused last night after talking to my Godbrother and sharing his feeling of ISKCON malaise. (I referred him to words in his German language, angst and berldshmertz—he seemed to be feeling them, an ISKCON-shmertz.) Madhu also encouraged me that my personal writing should do this. Whether it’s published or not is not the point; I need help, I want Krsna consciousness, and writing can serve me. It will be readable. Will it be art?”
“One time when Prabhupada was at Bhaktivedanta Manor, a Mayavadi sannyasi came to visit. Srila Prabhupada received him graciously and they had some discussion. When the man departed, he deliberately left behind a big stack of his pamphlets. The pamphlets contained a little essay on the monistic doctrine that ‘all is one,’ defying the direct meaning of the Vedic scriptures and completely omitting Lord Krsna as the Supreme Personality of Godhead.
“The next afternoon, Prabhupada met with the devotees as usual. His practice was to receive a very big plate of fruit and nuts, take some himself, and then ask a disciple to distribute the maha-prasadam to all the devotees. On this particular day, Prabhupada called for the pamphlets. The devotees were surprised—‘Why is Prabhupada calling for these pamphlets?’ When they were brought in, Srila Prabhupada said, ‘Distribute one to each of the devotees.’ The devotees were bewildered as the Mayavadi pamphlets were distributed to one and all.
“Then Prabhupada said, ‘Everyone take a pamphlet, open it up, and put it in your hand.’ He took a few fruits from the plate, began eating them, and then indicated that the rest should be distributed. He said the devotees should use the pamphlets as plates.
“One of the devotees mentioned later that Prabhupada was practicing yukta-vairagya by this simple act. He had found a useful purpose for the atheistic tracts, simultaneously ridiculing their author and yet engaging him in devotional service.”
“I am writing to thank You for allowing me to write books in Krsna consciousness. From Srila Prabhupada-lilamrta to the many autobiographical books and improvisational books, I am very grateful for the service You have allowed me. It is a personal gratitude I feel just between You and me that I want to express. You have allowed me to help devotees to improve their sadhana by my telling of my own struggles to improve sadhana. That has become the trademark of my books: admitting my own problems and trying to solve them. Thus, a reader can hold my book up as a mirror and see that his own troubles are similar to mine and work on them to improve.
“It is a humbling path to write like this, but I am proud of You. You give me the inspiration to keep the low profile and to help others to admit their own frailties and improve. Some critics have seen my approach of self-deprecation as misconceived, but I have received many letters from people who appreciate my approach as being truthful and helpful. Thank you for developing me in this way.
“I have written many books of memoirs of Srila Prabhupada, and these are perhaps the most valuable. They will keep Prabhupada in the center of devotees’ lives and supply them with many anecdotes and instructions and examples of how Prabhupada kindly led us in the mission of Krsna consciousness. I am grateful to You for allowing me to write my impressions and stories of Prabhupada while they were fresh in my mind. They now stand preserved as fresh and accurate records of the person who did more for humankind than any other person in recent history. I thank You for allowing me to get them written before it was too late and they faded from memory.
“For many years now, You have allowed me to write books of self-expression, autobiography, journals and poems, showing the creative side of Krsna consciousness, aside from its straight presentation of repeating Vaisnava scholarship. Some of this has been considered controversial because I am writing about myself instead of You, but I have defended the criticisms by arguing that we have to know ourselves if we are to truly know You. I have my appreciative readers who like these books, and I don’t need to defend them to them. They just want me to write more of them.
“This writing piece may seem like self-praise, but I contend it is not. It is a personal prayer of gratitude to You, Lord, for giving me a service that I can give my heart to and allowing me to execute it with a bit of success. My writing is Your gift, it is not my talent or prowess. Even before coming to Krsna consciousness, I was dedicated to personal writing, but it was not making my life a spiritual success (or even a material success). Now You have filled my heart with satisfaction and have shown me a way to purify myself—by writing. Writing brings me very close to You. It makes me love You with gratitude.”
“The indulgence of thinking over things while chanting japa. This is the basic distraction. Chewing cud. You think and think over, so there is still a solid duality between chanting and hearing and the thinking.
“There seems to be no way to pay attention for long periods of time. It’s too easy to say the names, at least in the superficial sense. You have so much reserve energy and intellectual capacity for other thinking. Just as when sweeping a floor or washing dishes, there is plenty of mental capacity left over for thinking of something else. The chanting is so simple that it seems impossible to keep a grown man (or even a child) focused on the repetitive sound. Out of submissiveness, he agrees to chant his quota, but he has to keep himself otherwise occupied during the chanting. These are offensive estimations of chanting and I don’t advocate them, but I fall into this kind of aparadha.
“The true chanters realize Krsna’s presence in harer nama and there is no need or attraction for them in discursive thinking. All thought leads to this: praise Krsna and lovingly serve Him by chanting His glories. Bhaktivinoda Thakura sings, ‘O Holy Name, Your glories are boundless! I therefore bow at Your lotus feet again and again.’
“I very much like to say pranam prayers to the parampara before I begin chanting. Why can’t I continue this spirit of bowing down to the holy name? One needs to be humble and not sit back while chanting. Maybe I am too lazy to chant the way it should be done. There is so much mental resistance.
“A devotee in Rome asked if quantitative japa hurts quality? This made me wonder, ‘Do we avoid the difficult too much? Do we devise whole methods of doing what is easy, do it profusely, then exclaim how much work we are doing?’ The answer is not to avoid quantitative chanting but to chant continuously and attentively. Bhaktivinoda Thakura sings,
“‘At the lotus feet of Srila Rupa Gosvami, Thakura Bhaktivinoda constantly begs that at every moment there be the transcendental vibration of the holy name.’ (Gitavali, ‘Sri Namastaka,’ Song 7, verse 8, p. 111).
“Ideally, I could be roaming over thoughts of Krsna’s pastimes in Vrndavana as I chant His divine names. Or I could be meditating on internal service to my spiritual master. But it’s nearly impossible to sustain any of these. The mind is flickering, cancala . . . I beg for mercy.”
We the people in order
to form a better union
do declare we want to be Krishna’s
In a union, a temple?
A Gita-nagari house?
Share same underwear?
Same boss tells you
what to do?
No, it’s changed somewhat,
we are still under
the supreme authority of Lord
Krishna, Damodara was
tied by His mother’s ropes.
We, the little people in
spirit souls looking for
the words to describe our
predicament. Have hereby
formed a union under
he gave a way-choice
for each person and
it’s ours to take up
Hare Krishna, Hare Krishna
good in any decade
or meter, post or
We the people mostly disagree with one another
soured by contact but
I, the individual, do surrender
somewhat as I must for
protection and inclusion
oh, it would be nice,
ideal to be with Krishna coming
home in the evening
but, we cry to be parted from
So, hereby signed this oath,
I won’t be sour toward
His part and parcels
forgive again and chant
the holy names, Hare Krishna.
Please don’t be afraid
to look and tell me what
plan what to carry
on the plane
just a few sets of
clothes and notes to lecture.
He’s carrying his music,
me, my thoughts. Be ready
you will be asked to
make an account of
The leaves, the sounds
oh, give me a half hour
nap and then a Krishna conscious
paint brush to
In the most crude hand
you could conjure
Divide the lines.
Can a timid one preach?
We eat popcorn in the
attic after a day or writing
and read sastra together
and later we found out that
gentle person corrupted boys
and his wife.
Those big preachers fell,
so, we think, why not
give the timid ones a chance?
Don’t force anyone on book distribution, it’s
all free will.
Divide the lines when you
will. Two hundred sailors
drowned in a Saratoga
whale boat in Napoli –
they were coming back from
liberty on shore in
I missed that.
Survived a few other
wars and hammer blows
to be here.
Compassion for the puppies,
for the rice, land, babies
slaughtered. When they told
Reagan not to visit the
Nazi cemetery, he said,
those sixteen-year-old SS boys
were also victims of
Everyone. The tyrant Time,
I’m talking about it.
Rambling along with some thoughts
and where will it take you?
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.