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]
Krsna dasi came back from her week with her children in Houston and immediately changed Radha-Govinda into a new outfit. It is very intricate, embroidered in flowers. The main colors are maroon and light blue. There is some orange in it. Radharani’s skirt has a large lotus-like pattern in the middle. There is a draped green design outside the lotus on Radharani’s skirt. And the border of Her skirt is orange and green flowers and lime-green leaves. Govinda has a splendid red turban, and His shin is exposed up to the knee. He has a long flute with red jewels at the end. The colors on Govinda’s kurta mirror the colors and designs on Radharani’s skirt, except they are smaller. The outfit is beautiful, attracting one to long darsanas.
It was a cool spring, and so the flowers bloomed in waves rather than all at once, which was a good thing. For our Nrsimha festival we had a huge amount of lilacs heaped upon the altars. But now they’re pretty much gone. Now we have lilies of the valley and bleeding hearts. The lilies of the valley are delicate bells or cups, and the bleeding hearts are pink. They look very nice in a vase. Tapan put a lot of work into this outfit and took a long time in finishing it. They came in waves like flowering quince, lilies of the valley, lilacs, and now Vrndavana-like roses have started blooming. The next thing which will come in is mock orange, which smells as sweet as jasmine. Baladeva and Anuradha planted 150 marigolds, and they are already blooming and will continue to bloom until October. There is a reference in the Hari-bhakti-vilasa on the importance of flowers in Deity worship—flower outfits, garlands, and in all the aratis there are flowers. Krsna and Radharani like to put flowers in each other’s hair. Prabhupada wrote that Krsna is from the forest of Vrndavana, and He’s fond of flowers.
F.W. in K.C.:
Always be true. Prabhupada, where are you? Are you in Goloka Vrndavana, or preaching somewhere in the middle planets? Are your disciples with you? Will I meet up with you again? Will we be in different forms? How will I recognize you? Please don’t say I will never see you or serve you again. Some of the outstanding acaryas came back as gopi manjaris and served their gurus who were sakhis of Radharani. I am not advanced enough for that. I am praying for some kind of reunion, maybe both of us in eternally youthful forms. It’s all up to Krsna, Radha and Krsna.
I heard an homage by Malati dasi in honor of Mukunda Maharaja’s Vyasa-puja. She told how she and her boyfriend Sam were living at the top of a mountain in California, where Sam had a job as a fire-watcher. One day they noticed a car came up to their cabin. It was their friends from San Francisco, but now they had new names, Mukunda and Janaki. They told how they met a wonderful swami who had come to San Francisco, where he opened a storefront temple. At that time Malati’s name was Melanie. Mukunda showed her a copy of the swami’s translation of Srimad-Bhagavatam. The covcr was an ornate illustration of the spiritual sky. There was a large figure that was four-armed, and He was lying on a big snake. Melanie asked, “Who is that?”, and Mukunda answered, “He is God, the Supreme Personality of Godhead.” They were fascinated by the book. Mukunda told Sam and Melanie how wonderful Swamiji was, and they encouraged them to come down to San Francisco and see the Hare Krsna temple and expect to see the Swami, who was going to visit there soon. As they relaxed, Sam asked Mukunda if they would like some LSD. But Mukunda soberly answered, “No.” They were surprised by this, and also surprised to hear that Mukunda and Janaki were now married. Hippies didn’t get married in those days—they just moved in with each other. But the more the two initiated devotees talked about Krsna consciousness, the more their two friends became interested, and even excited. Then one day Melanie opened the door of the cabin and saw that snow had fallen. According to their contract with the fire-watch people, they had to stay on the mountaintop until the first snowfall. They saw the footprints in the snow of a mountain lion who had walked close past their cabin. Sam called his boss by radio and told him that the first snowfall had occurred. His boss said it wasn’t a big snowstorm, but Sam insisted that it was a snowfall and that they were coming down from the mountain; their work was done. So Sam and his girlfriend Melanie followed the car of Mukunda and soon their life in Krsna consciousness began in San Francisco. Malati warmly thanked Mukunda for coming up to the mountaintop and saving them from material life.
I listened to a Zoom lecture by Mukunda Maharaja given in 2020. He was speaking on a verse from Srimad-Bhagavatam where Maharaja Pariksit sat down on the bank of the Ganges and prepared to fast for seven days before he was cursed to die. Maharaja Pariksit knew what he wanted to do, but he submissively asked for the opinions of the sages gathered there. Mukunda Maharaja spoke of the importance of getting the opinions of advanced devotees before making a decision. He gave the example of Asvatthama and Arjuna. Arjuna had arrested Asvatthama and bound him in ropes after Asvatthama had killed the five sleeping baby sons of Draupadi. Arjuna took him to the army camp, and there he got advice from different persons as to what to do with Asvatthama. Bhima said he should be immediately killed, and others gave a similar opinion. Sri Krsna, in order to test Arjuna, also said, “Kill him.” But Yudhisthira and Draupadi said that Asvatthama should be spared. In the sastra it is stated that a brahmana should not be killed. But on the other hand, Asvatthama was an aggressor; he killed the five sleeping sons of Draupadi, so he deserved to be killed. Arjuna’s intelligence was tested; he had to kill Asvatthama and yet not kill him. With his sharp intelligence, Arjuna cut the precious jewel and removed it from Asvatthama’s head. And he cut his hair in odd patches, leaving some spots bald and some spots hairy. And he drove Asvatthama out of the camp. By this action, Arjuna satisfied Krsna.
After his lecture, Mukunda Maharaja asked for questions. A devotee asked him how to deal with others who may disagree with us. Maharaja said that we should be respectful to them but not necessarily form intimate relationships. We should seek friendships with svajati, those of a similar mindset as ours. Mukunda Maharaja went on to answer more questions. It was encouraging to see him, at 80 years old, still preaching in a lively way.
My disciple Narayana Jvara wrote to me and told me of the Zoom talk given by Daivisakti devi dasi on Prabhupada-lilamrta. He very much appreciated her talk. I was able to locate her talk on my tablet. It was very wonderful. She spoke about how I, with the assistance of many devotees, collected interviews from devotees or acquaintances of Prabhupada from all over the world. We took the material we had collected and shaped it into the Prabhupada-lilamrta.
She began by reading the foreword by Dr. Harvey Cox of the Divinity School at Harvard University. She made long commentaries on his foreword, appreciating how he compared Prabhupada to Jesus Christ. Dr. Cox said that Prabhupada was “one in a million.”
Daivisakti is apparently giving a series of talks on the Prabhupada-lilamrta, and I’m eager to hear them all.
We had extra guests today. My disciple Krsna Lila from New Jersey came, and her son Atindra came also, along with his wife, Lalita-kaisori. Also came Shyama dasi, Samika Rsi’s daughter, and Shyama’s six-year-old son, Partha. Krishna Lila and Shyama cooked lunch. Along with several sabjis, the main feature was cauliflower parathas. The parathas were very delicious. For dessert, we all had ice cream cones of varied flavors. I learned that Samika Rsi has built a large temple in his hometown of Khargone, India. He is living there with his wife, Anartha dasi. He is now an initiating guru in ISKCON and is making disciples in Khargone to help manage the temple. During the “liming” session after prasadam, the main entertainment was the kid, Partha. He was well-behaved but outspoken. He ate a lot. He ate his first ice cream cone and then wanted another, but his mother didn’t allow it. He said he could eat “a million” ice cream cones. It was a pleasant meeting, and I look forward to more of them.
Anuradha rides the bike every day. It’s part of her time alone, when she gets her own space. But the other day she got a flat tire. She was ten miles away from the house and had no phone and no repair kit, so she walked all the way home. She discovered that it was a big nail that had punctured her tube in numerous places and destroyed the tube. She bought a new tube and repair kit, but when she went to fix it the tube was of the wrong size. So she had to go back and get a proper-sized tube. Now the bike is back in action, but it was quite a saga to get it fixed.
Amit is here for some time, helping out Baladeva in the men’s department. During the day, most of his time is taken up with his job, with Zoom meetings and computer work. But as soon as he’s free he asks if there’s any seva he can do. He is very enlivened doing seva and chanting Hare Krsna. He gives up his own morning program at his home, which is a big austerity for him. He uses that time for helping with our morning program, bathing and dressing me, etc.
Baladeva, Anuradha and Silavati are almost done weeding and mulching in the garden. Now all that’s left is regular watering for the new plants in the evening. Baladeva says he’ll only take care of the roses. If anyone wants to do anything more in the garden, they’ll have to take care of it themselves.
Baladeva took our new used car in to the Toyota dealership, and they thoroughly checked out the dead battery. They fixed and cleaned the corroded part. They could find nothing wrong electronically that would explain why it went dead. Apparently there was no light left on that would have drained it, so it remains a mystery why it went dead. Hopefully, this story is not to be continued.
We have been trying to keep up a standard of two “rabbits” a day for the Journal. But yesterday we were only able to give one. It is difficult to come up with enlightening, interesting subject matter.
St. Theresa of Avila gave the example of throwing a bucket meant to collect water down the well, but instead of pulling up water she could only pull up dust. She recommended that one not give up but keep throwing down the bucket and pulling it up in hopes that she would tap water. Don’t give up, keep throwing down the bucket and pulling it up. But we have decided that on some days we may only be able to give one “rabbit.” We don’t want to give subject matter that isn’t enlightening or Krsna conscious, or is too bland. Please forgive us, but we will keep trying to throw the bucket down and hoping to get water.
Prabhupada, we’re parked on the
road, en route to New Mayapur.
You created these places:
Mayapur Chandrodaya Mandir in
Navadvipa and a castle in France.
Places for devotees.
In Avignon, South France, I
lectured, ‘Where would we be
without Prabhupada?’ And I asked,
‘What did we learn from Prabhupada?’
It was fun answering these.
I said I had nothing new to tell
them but together we disciples
feel our gratitude
for what you have given us.
You let me write. You let me
read and speak a lecture. I
want to serve, adjust my cause so
it’s service to you and Govinda, not
my sense gratification.
Here comes the sunrise, pink smudge
at first, like in Vrndavana
where there are cow dung fires.
Dear Prabhupada, you have protected
us during the night. I rose at
midnight and wrote. Now I feel
confident. But I am just your
Dear Prabhupada, I’m in Normandy,
France, in a campground
wanting to think of you,
wanting to be with you . . .
The Archives said they had hundreds of
pictures of me with you so I asked
for all of them, paid a pretty price.
Now what shall I do with them?
Look at me instead of you?
Look at us both?
Of course I was just a hanger-on
in some of the pictures, just a
peripheral figure in your lila.
Don’t knock it.
I was there and serving.
Srila Prabhupada walks with his cane and still
knocks the heads of the
atheist scientists and I am ready
to preach on his behalf in
America and Europe.
Write for you now, my dear
master. It’s been fifty years since
the Allies invaded Normandy.
And soon a hundred years
since your appearance in this world.
What are these little milestones?
Five thousand years since the start of Kali,
unaccountable millennia and Krsna
is ever-fresh with His parisad
in Goloka Vrndavana, my guru among them
When can I go and join?
When will I give up the
false ego and
serve for his pleasure only?”
Chant Hare Krsna, follow the four rules,
morning and evening classes attend,
no frivolous sports or gambling.
That was 1966. You also said
I should keep my job at the welfare department,
then go open a center in Boston
and stay there. Be on the GBC (1970),
yes I could become a sannyasi (‘72)
and then in ‘74 you called me to
be your personal servant. So much
for my curriculum vitae.
I will read your books.
You have given us the prayers
of Lord Siva to Sankarsana praising the
Supreme Lord’s steadiness. And you gave
us the unsteadiness of Lord Caitanya
in ecstasy of Radharani’s feeling
You gave us all instructions and I don’t want
to think I have to go outside your books.
Please contain me.
Let my reading go into writing.
Give me a life in your service.
I want to be such a disciple that
anyone who hears me or reads
what I write can see it all
comes from you, every line, or if
I’m original, that’s also
surrender to you.
Murray Mednick teased
me in 1966, ‘You’re working
for the Swami?’ ‘Yes,’ I said. I wanted it
to be clear to everyone and especially
to you, that I am
your boy or man.
Offer whatever little breakfast
he brings in to Prabhupada.
Find a chink
in the armor of your thoughtlessness,
and slip in an earnest prayer—
please Srila Prabhupada, take the breakfast
straight from Madhu and I.
It’s for you, your morning breakfast
just as when you were in
L.A. in January ‘74 and I brought it to you
on a heavy silver plate.
Please take it. I am ready to
do your bidding and travel with you
as your servant.”
May I dedicate this to my
spiritual master? Unless you please
him you are nowhere. Only devotees
can understand this. Those without
a bona fide spiritual master will see it
as some kind of oppression or
I have a loving and sometimes stern
spiritual master. He is expert and
empowered by his spiritual master to
spread the mercy of Lord Caitanya all
over this world.
I am doing my best, I say,
to serve him.
If my expressions are tired it’s
my fault. Srila Prabhupada was strong up
until his last breath; he said
he prayed to Krsna for enthusiasm,
and the Lord gave it.
He is eternal, we are all eternal.
He has gone to his nitya-lila.
We will all go somewhere.
It was a quick eleven years and the rest
of life is recounting it and living
out service in separation.
Separation is longer and more important
than brief meeting. I want to
live for him in my own way.
Dear Srila Prabhupada,
I write this as rain pours down
on our van roof. I’m dry
under lamplight, we are about
to leave this camping spot and head
for the ferry to Ireland,
a rendezvous for lots of writing.
I pray you won’t see me as a
nonsense, or motivated like
Ekalavya. I don’t want to be a
great writer. I write to please
you by achieving an honest state.
I do love it, but it’s work,
long and patient love like you gave
to us in ISKCON.
I don’t want to write to please myself
and just tag on ‘for Prabhupada.’
But I’ve got to tell it honest.
I’m trusting in your
I just read two poems in a book,
The Father by Sharon Olds
in which she tells how her father
is dying and how she felt
and how she thinks he felt.
It reminded me that Prabhupada passed away.
If I were to go back to that
it would take much effort and concentration.
I don’t want to dig up my shortcomings
on such a painful subject.
I wasn’t basically wrong.
I sensed the end had come
and knew we could serve you in separation.
I was sure you would stay with us
in vani, and that I’d serve you.
But I fell so short
of appropriate loving feelings.
I remember your close servants.
They get eternal credit, even if
some of them went mad, and left your service.
Probably they will never leave you
and will remember you when they die.
I was a numbed stone.
Went to my room in the Guesthouse
tried to write a book on varnasrama to occupy
myself and not think what was happening.
Actually I can’t recall,
Don’t want to. I prefer
the Gaudiya Vaisnava philosophy that says,
the pure soul goes on to nitya-lila
and his servants continue serving him.
And when each of his servants die,
it won’t be so horrible or painful
because they will call to you
and somehow they will join you.
That’s the scenario and it can work
if we remain cool and pray for conviction.
Until then I want to read your books
in which you never pass away
and in which I don’t falter,
your books, where Lord Krsna
creates the universes
and plays in Vrndavana with His parisad.
In those books we can go on hearing,
guru and sisya
and we don’t need anything else.”
“I pray to Lord Krsna for alert maha-
mantras, but they do not come. I am
saddened but ever-hopeful.
“I see I am a mass of distracting thoughts and, separate from them, I see my desire to fix my mind on the holy names. Periodically, I catch myself and express at least the desire to hear the names as they vibrate on my tongue. No one knows, only me, how strong this bad habit is. I’ve indulged in it like any other addiction. To get free isn’t easy. It’s a mental habit of allowing the mind to go wherever it wants during japa yajña.
“There, I’ve said it concisely and accurately. Now stay on this one point. Whatever gain I can make, please do it. Continue to focus on that problem. Distinguish the distractions from the desire to hear. Start a new habit of deliberately taking the mind away from other thoughts and applying it to hearing Hare Krsna, Hare Krsna, Krsna Krsna, Hare Hare/ Hare Rama, Hare Rama, Rama Rama, Hare Hare. Don’t expect this to be easy at first, but be persistent. Just hope I can make some headway. I shall not indulge so wantonly, obliviously, callously in other thoughts while chanting the Hare Krsna mantra on beads. I’ll remind myself what to do.
“Chanting so slowly, I lament
over the pace. But hope springs
eternal in the human breast. I
will gain back what I’ve lost
before the day is over.
Krsna will give me a chance again
As He has many times in the past.
Now do your work, the utmost duty
for a fallen bhakta.”
“Vaisnava scholars have analyzed that there are different categories of devotees and different attitudes of general behavior to be followed in devotional interactions. ‘One should mentally honor any devotee who chants the holy name of Lord Krsna,’ states Rupa Gosvami. (Upadesamrta #5) Thus Rupa Gosvami describes in brief the kanistha-adhikari, or beginning devotee. The kanistha-adhikari has the disqualifications of not properly respecting advanced devotees and not perceiving Lord Krsna within the hearts of all living beings. Mostly he recognizes Krsna’s presence only in the Deity within the temple. Yet even the kanistha-adhikari is far greater than all the nondevotees who are classified as either karmis (gross materialists) or yogis and jnanis (impersonal transcendentalists). Because he is a devotee of the Supreme Personality of Godhead, the kanistha-adhikari is a first-class transcendentalist, he is rare and wonderful in this world. A kanistha-adhikari is sometimes also called a materialistic devotee because he has a tendency to be interested in material benefits. Therefore a devotee must strive to make progress to come to the second-class position, the madhyama-bhakta.
“‘The madhyama-adhikari,’ writes Srila Prabhupada, ‘has received spiritual initiation from the spiritual master and has been fully engaged by him in the transcendental loving service of the Lord.’
“Srila Prabhupada also describes the highest stage or uttama-adhikari:
“‘Out of many such Vaisnavas, one may be found to be very seriously engaged in the service of the Lord and strictly following all the regulative principles, chanting the prescribed number of rounds on japa beads, and always thinking of how to expand the Krsna consciousness movement. Such a Vaisnava should be accepted as an uttama-adhikari, a highly advanced devotee, and his association should always be sought.’ (Upadesamrta #5, purport)
“Rupa Gosvami explains that one should mentally honor the beginner, or materialistic devotee, one should offer humble obeisances to the madhyama devotee, and associate with and faithfully serve the pure devotee ‘who is advanced in undeviated devotional service and whose heart is completely devoid of the propensity to criticize others.’ (Upadesamrta #5)
“Although all devotees should receive our honor, there are clear guidelines for dealing with the different classes of devotees. Every devotee will find himself in a situation where some devotees are more advanced than he, some are his peers, and some are newcomers or less advanced. According to Vaisnava behavior, one should inquire from and render service to the more advanced devotees, one should make loving friendships with equal devotees, and one should give merciful guidance to those who are more neophyte than oneself.”
“On a 1976 tape Prabhupada is speaking in Vrndavana with an Indian doctor who works with the U.N. Prabhupada asks him if he thinks the U.N. is really doing anything. The man defends the U.N., saying that at least it is a step in the right direction. If people are talking, he says, then they won’t fight. But Prabhupada very strongly denies any good in that talking. Since they do not understand the real point of progressive life, but like the animals are absorbed in problems of eating, sleeping, mating, and defending, Prabhupada compares their talking to the barking of dogs.
“Hearing this, I am again impressed how even in his last days Prabhupada would so strongly preach to a worldly man on a very worldly issue. This is Srila Prabhupada’s preaching spirit. Prabhupada was expert at applying eternal spiritual truths to solve the problems of material existence. We also have to have the courage and the conviction to address the world’s problems with the fundamental tenets of Krsna consciousness.
“In talking with this U.N. man, Prabhupada was disturbed that people at the U.N. did not take the real solution. If others don’t take to Krsna consciousness, then they won’t succeed—that is the real conviction of the preacher. How can one preach if he is not convinced that the Krsna conscious solution is the only remedy?”
“My dear Lord Krsna . . .
“I pray to reciprocate with Your devotees in love. You are pleased when Your devotees cooperate to serve You, and I want to please You in this way. Srila Prabhupada said that our love for him would be shown by how his disciples cooperated to maintain his movement. I do not mix with a great number of devotees, but I wish to respect them all and share love with those I work with. I can do this by sharing my realizations of Krsna consciousness and personally exchanging with them in friendly relationships.
“Rupa Gosvami’s Upadesamrta outlines the six symptoms of love that should be shared between devotees. ‘Offering gifts in charity, accepting charitable gifts, revealing one’s mind in confidence, inquiring confidentially, accepting prasadam and offering prasadam are the six symptoms of love shared by devotees.’ (Nectar of Instruction, 4). In his purport to this verse, Srila Prabhupada states the negative injunction and says that a devotee should not associate intimately with Mayavadis and atheists. We should confine our friendships to devotees and innocent people who are favorable to devotional service.
“The six symptoms of loving exchanges are followed even by ordinary people and between businessmen. But when a devotee exchanges in love, it should be centered on Krsna and devotional principles. I should reveal my mind confidentially to another devotee about how to advance in Krsna consciousness, and I should be willing to hear his mind when he wishes to make confidential disclosures to me.
“I should support my devotee friends when they are at times in trouble, tend to them when they are sick, and share preaching adventures with them. I should worship the Lord with them and serve the spiritual master in their company.
“One may do this on a wide scale in a movement like the Krsna consciousness movement, but it is also possible that one wants to share intimately with only a few true friends. Rupa Gosvami also outlines the different types of relationships one should have with people in different statuses of spiritual advancement. ‘One should mentally honor the devotee who chants the holy name of Lord Krsna, one should offer humble obeisances to the devotee who has undergone spiritual initiation [diksa] and is engaged in Deity worship, and associate with and faithfully serve that pure devotee who is advanced in undeviated devotional service and whose heart is completely devoid of the propensity to criticize others.’ (Nectar of Instruction, 5). This refers to the categories of kanistha-adhikari, madhyama-adhikari, and uttama-adhikari, and the devotees should be approached according to their standings.
“I have chosen to befriend devotees who are like-minded and affectionate with me, and I am able to reciprocate with them in the same way. I ask You to broaden my heart so that I may see the good in more devotees and be friendly disposed toward them. And I ask You to keep me completely free of the propensity to criticize others. If a devotee in good standing is not likeminded enough for me to befriend him in an intimate way, let me always offer him or her respect from a distance. Let me be especially true to my close friends and always be considerate of their needs and wants. I know You want me to be friendly to all Your devotees, and I ask You to help me to do it according to my capacities and limitations.”
“Writing for self-awareness. I am self-centered in the journal. Little Kaulini got her new car today. She’ll be driving to school and taking her siblings. Saci said we can have a press meeting Monday. I will make a list of topics. Baladeva is borrowing $1,000 from me to pay for changing Ramila’s and Yasoda’s airplane tickets so they can stay two months. Ramila is a sweet disciple who feels some love for me. I’ll get to know her better while she’s here. Writing my life in solitude. I’m not like the pope, a man with many managerial duties. I am like a retired monk. I write my website, and I write a book per year. Who am I? Ten pounds overweight. I can’t walk much because of my bad left ankle. I aspire to go back to Godhead, Goloka Vrndavana, and I keep hearing Srila Prabhupada say we should try for that and that it is possible. I may not make it, and I will accept that. Like Maharaja Pariksit I pray that if I have to be born again, I can have devotion for the unlimited Lord, association with devotees, and friendliness to all living entities. I need the rasa-sastras about devotion to Radharani for the pleasure of Krsna, and I am attached. We shall see. I’m posting Gopala-campu and liking it very much. It’s a long book. I did both exercises and yoga today and feel it was okay.”
“From your very first days in Manhattan
you envisioned the exciting prospects of food distribution.
Writing to Mrs. Morarjee,
‘When they will have the actual commodity,
and feel pleasure by eating very delicious
prasadam of Bala Krsna, I am sure a unique thing
will be introduced to America.’
Even your simple cutting of an apple
and giving it out at night in the storefront
was something extraordinary
to those sitting on the floor—
hearing, chanting, and then taking
an apple slice from you in silence,
watching you spit out the seeds onto the nearby sink.
‘How wonderful!’ they thought. ‘No one else can do that.’
At noon you gathered a dozen young men
who came without fail,
even if they could not follow the regulations;
no one missed the prasadam
or was unenthusiastic.
Was it ordinary rice? Just some unleavened bread?
But weren’t rice and bread available in the luncheonettes?
And who had even thought of rice as special—
until you brought it as prasadam?
It wasn’t just rice. It was the way you served it.
And the prayers!
And having the open pots on the floor
in front of the little picture of Lord Caitanya,
and the fact that you were there cooking
or at least presiding, moving on bare feet
in and out of the kitchen.
You were openly stressing prasadam
by quoting the Bhagavad-gita,
and your followers also accepted
that food became completely spiritual
when offered to Krsna in bhakti-yoga:
‘All right,’ we said, ‘this is bhagwat prasad!’
We had known soups, but not hot, spicy dahl.
We knew peas, carrots, etcetera,
but not your special mixtures
of spinach, cauliflower, eggplant, and potatoes.
And the secrets of masala spicing,
the luxury of deep-frying in ghee,
made food new, healthy, hot, and delicious—
and all brought by you.
‘It was not bread he gave me—
he gave me prasadam
This was life, and he saved my life.’”
“I have justified acts for the sake of my service, for the art of writing and so on. I have also justified acts for the sake of maintaining my health and reducing my pain. These things may or may not be done, but the criteria should be kept in mind. I may still have to ask forgiveness as well as permission when I take a painkiller. The reason I take painkillers is because with too much pain I don’t have the ability to chant japa or read or write. Or I may pray for the strength to endure when I’m knocked out of action from my usual services.
“These are the arts to practice, not ‘lucid dreaming’ or free-write poetry and so on. Krsna will give you everything you need and much more than that, that which you could never achieve by any process. Have faith in Him for that and lead others to it. I could lecture on a simple prayer for permission, and on the use of the senses as instruments, when I meet the devotees in a week in Baltimore. But it’s better that I practice something myself before I lecture on it. I may also discover something by writing. When I began this piece, I didn’t know I would write about praying for permission, but it came in the course of the writing session. Writing sessions are valuable experiences. You never know what will come.
“Hare Krsna, Hare Krsna. When you pick up a crayon and start to draw, you don’t know what it will be—you may have to experiment. But there, too, you can pray, ‘Lord please let something come out of this that will advance my Krsna consciousness and be pleasing to You.’ I count on pleasing Krsna by pleasing His devotees. And if they are pleased or helped, then my spiritual master will be pleased with me. What else am I trying for in any of my acts? Gratification of my senses for their own pleasure is a dead end. It ends quickly and has no good result—only karma. You use up pious credit, and then you have to suffer later. Please let me get out of this syndrome. Hare Krsna, Hare Krsna.”
“Be in Vrndavana—it’s an important point. Remove yourself from dogs and gunshots and holiday Mondays in Italy. Can you do it? This sunshine is Krsna’s eye. Everywhere in the world there are quiet, solitary moments to think of Krsna in Vrndavana.
“I plan to go to Vrndavana in four months. It will not be so windy there, and no pasta. But there will be plenty of mundane distractions. They say it is all Vrndavana; no matter what happens there, it is touched by the dhama’s influence. Anyway, the eternal Vraja is described with inner vision by the Six Gosvamis of Vrndavana.
“Prabhupada doesn’t spell out in detail what will happen or when, yet he clearly says nama will lead to the awareness of rupa, lila, and guna. He has great faith that the chanting will work and that Krsna will reveal Himself.
“My restlessness seems to be only that ‘it’ isn’t happening yet. No tears, no remorse, no lila-rupa-guna . . . I can tolerate it. At least it shouldn’t confuse me, this state I am in. It is part of a larger process. In the early stages one is hampered by aparadhas. He cannot realize that Krsna and His name are identical. Such a person should go on chanting and the name will cleanse the mirror of his heart.
“Prabhupada assures us that the day will come when Krsna will reveal Himself and say, ‘I am like this.’ A simple, strong promise. He says it may not happen in a million years, yet it could happen in a moment—it is dependent on our own surrender. And how to surrender to Krsna? By serving his representative.
“And I ask myself, will I be able or willing—today—to do anything about my present, unrealized state?”
“The biggest event of Prabhupada’s visit was that he conducted a triple wedding. Some of the girls had minor illnesses, and Prabhupada said it was because they weren’t married. As soon as the word got around that he said this, Saradiya, who was about seventeen years old and very beautiful, went to Prabhupada like a trusting daughter and frankly told him that she wanted to marry a boy named Vaikunthanatha who had come to Boston to help us prepare for Prabhupada’s visit. He was a good handyman and very worshipful towards Prabhupada. Prabhupada assured Saradiya that he would make arrangements with Vaikunthanatha. He then called Vaikunthanatha and told him that Saradiya wanted to marry him. Vaikunthanatha was agreeable to the suggestion, and it was settled. Then there was talking, confiding and gossiping among the women. Rukmini, who was eighteen years old and had joined the temple to learn painting from Jadurani, was also a beautiful girl and serious about Krsna consciousness. She confessed to her friends that she wanted to marry Baradraja, an artist who was visiting Boston from Montreal. Baradraja was very aesthetic, and when he gave class he spoke often of lotus flowers and lotus feet. He was an independent kind of spirit. He agreed to marry Rukmini, and Prabhupada approved. That left one unmarried girl, Jahnavi, who was a painter who knew the philosophy well. Jahnavi was also a pretty girl, and she got linked to Nanda Kishora dasa. Behind the scenes, as these things are done (without Prabhupada’s matchmaking), Nanda Kishora and Janavi agreed to marry. Nanda Kishora was visiting Boston for Prabhupada’s visit. He was a likeable fellow who used to inquire from Srila Prabhupada about aspects of Krsna conscious philosophy. So it was arranged, a temple wedding. One day Rukmini stopped me in the hall of the apartment building and thanked me for taking care of her, which I thought was sweet. The ceremony was held in the storefront with a fire built of orange-crate wood. There were no interruptions, and it went smoothly, with all the couples taking vows of obedience in marriage. The girls wore new saris and the boys wore clean kurtas and dhotis. Prabhupada presided and made a speech about ideal marriage. I was proud that Boston, like the first time Prabhupada came and held the first brahmana initiations, was pulling off the first triple wedding under his own direction. Unfortunately, at first the married couples did not plan to stay in Boston, so that was a disappointment. But it turned out differently so they all stayed. That’s a different story.”
“Srila Prabhupada has advised us to hear and recite the standard prayers in Vaisnava parampara, such as the prayers of the Brahma-sarnhita, and the many prayers contained in the Srimad-Bhagavatam. He has also encouraged us to pray in our own words: ‘With devotion one should feel, “God is great, and I am very small. Therefore my duty is to offer prayers to the Lord.’ (Bhag. 7.9.12, purport).
“Because one goes to God through the guru, it seems more natural to offer prayers to the spiritual master. How can I dare to directly address Sri Krsna? Prabhupada says it is our duty. And Prahlada Maharaja states, ‘Anyone who has been forced by ignorance to enter the material world may be purified of material life if he offers prayers to the Lord and hears the Lord’s glories.’ (Bhag. 7.9.12).
“With this in mind, one may begin. But we should also always be aware that whatever prayers we make will be inferior to the best prayers already composed.
“My prayers may be taken as additional proof to the Srimad-Bhagavatam statement that devotional service may be practiced in all circumstances, by all living beings, including the demons, the beastly species, and the fallen souls.
“‘Although I am enveloped by the modes of passion and ignorance, and although I actually have little desire to glorify You, I have nevertheless composed these pretended prayers, posing myself as a great devotee eager to praise You. O Supreme Lord, O maintainer of the earth, even though these prayers are a sham, please accept them anyway, and please also teach my mind how to properly glorify You. (Stotra-ratna, Text 56, by Srila Yamunacarya)
The Original Manifestation of God
My dear Lord Krsna,
I appreciate the prayers of all
Your sincere devotees,
who address You as ‘most high,
all-powerful good Lord,”
and who address You by many titles
such as God, Creator,
Brahma, Visnu and so on,
and who approach You through many
mediums, such as the son of God,
the prophet, or the guru.
Out of the multi-addresses
and many appearances
and manifestations of Yourself,
I have become most fortunate to see
You and worship You, and call upon You
as Lord Krsna.
I pray to You as Krsna
because the name Krsna means ‘all-
attractive,’ and because in Your form of Krsna,
You offer the most intimate exchanges of love
with Your best devotees.
Besides, my spiritual master has taught
me according to the Vedic scriptures,
krsnas tu bhagavan svayam.
Chanting Your names
is the only remedy for those
who are rotting here in birth and death.
Dear Supreme Lord Krsna,
I pray for connection and Your grace
so that I may actually praise You
for Your pleasure
and the pleasure of my Guru Maharaja.”
“Where did I contact Prabhupada today? He was in the usual places—his books and lectures. I was interested to hear Prabhupada speaking today to different people in Melbourne.
“I sometimes feel challenged when I hear Prabhupada discussing with different guests and not actually answering their questions. For example, I heard a room conversation where he was speaking to Franciscan seminarians. Twice in a row Prabhupada didn’t answer their questions but spoke on something else. One man asked something about Prabhupada saying the chanting of the holy names is the best means of God realization, but what about other paths? Prabhupada replied as if the man had asked, ‘Could you tell us about the chanting of the holy names?’ He went on to describe the glories of the holy names without making reference to other systems.
“The next question was about the nature of evil. The man said that there are different theories about the nature of evil, and asked Prabhupada to explain his theory. The man added that some people say that evil is due to our own consciousness. Instead of discussing evil, Prabhupada picked up on the word ‘consciousness’ and described the difference between the supreme and individual consciousness.
“It’s possible that Prabhupada simply didn’t understand their questions. Some disciples think of it in a more mystical way and say that Prabhupada always did know what they were asking, but that he gave the answer they needed to hear. Of course, whatever Prabhupada said was good for them, and sometimes he did clearly answer with that in mind. Sometimes he purposely didn’t answer their questions because they were foolish.”
“Srimati Radharani’s expresses her emotions
in Jagannatha-vallabha-nataka: ‘Sri Hari
does not understand the pain of separation
in prema. Kamadeva also torments us
knowing us to be weak. Life is so fleeting—
and youth remains only two or three days.
Alas! Alas! What kind of arrangement
of the Creator is this?’ I do not know
if it is proper for me to recite these
verses, but there is too much nectar
to stop. Please forgive me if it is
“Although Prabhupada wrote many encouraging letters, he said it was not the duty of the spiritual master to flatter his disciples. Once Hamsaduta had encouraged the Amsterdam sankirtana devotees to work at some available employment—a cigarette factory—to make money for the temple. Prabhupada challenged him: ‘I do not know how you could dare to do this without asking me or any other GBC members.’ And there were many others. But Prabhupada always pointed out his disciples’ discrepancies as a loving father, never holding a grudge. In 1970 when some of his sannyasi disciples were being misled by his Godbrothers, Srila Prabhupada said he was ‘simply sorry’ that they were misusing their intelligence in that way. And when the first devotee left her husband, he wrote:
“‘I am expecting you every moment. Krsna is very kind. He does not let anyone go who might have done a little bit of service, so how can he allow you to forget Krsna? You may be dragged by Maya for the time being, but by Krsna‘s grace, that will have only temporary reaction.’
“Srila Prabhupada always forgave his disciples’ foolishness. Although he did not want to flatter them, it was not his duty to condemn them either.
“As ISKCON grew, devotees in general were discouraged from writing to Srila Prabhupada personally and encouraged instead to consult with their GBC member. Prabhupada’s later letters were mostly filled with business and spiritual advice to his leaders, who asked specific questions about specific issues in their zones.”
Oh, what’s this?
It’s my remembrance of a
day . . .
go forth and be with God
in the simple life He gave—
linked by the sound—
hold hands in maha-
You can play, improvise, don’t be
afraid, God is talking through
you and you give back to Him affection
pure devotees don’t even
aspire to the goal
back to Godhead
what about you –
all the friends I know and how
‘rife with humanism’
wife with ooma-ism
evil effigy of terracotta
no, I can’t tell you what
I’m thinking because poems
do that sometimes
but here’s straight stuff:
Krsna goes into parikramas.
Vermillion by women,
the saintly person told
the disciple that Krsna can
simultaneously be playing in the fields
and hear all sadhakas’ prayers
and He told them, in the future
an acarya would come in
writing books as he traveled
in the language of the mlecchas
I heard strong wind and maybe
rain like a cat hunting, hiding
of the wild and greeted no
and walk with maha-mantra
no matter what—O Lord,
give me some warning, I do
want to touch your Vrndavana
Please take me from my
stupor and envy, I wish
to honor the great and small
devotees and see God, Krsna
even in the little stones
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.