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]
We held a “Family GBC” (FGBC) meeting at Viraha Bhavan to decide and assign tasks for a big cleanup in anticipation of our upcoming guests. Everyone agreed we had to move into a marathon mode, working from morning ‘til night—cleaning, rearranging, making things disappear, shopping, menu planning. We will meet with them on Sunday morning and again on Tuesday. On those days, the group out-loud reading meetings will be canceled. On Monday we will again have our lunch with the guests and cancel our out-loud group reading.
Kadamba Kanana Swami has written an open letter to ISKCON announcing that he has been diagnosed with terminal cancer. A doctor told him it is not the end of his body but the beginning of its end. He is going to visit with Ravindra Svarupa Prabhu and me over the weekend, and I will report more when I see him.
I am waiting in anticipation, and I am a little nervous about how to behave before Kadamba Kanana Maharaja and his illness. But he is a kind Godbrother, and I think we will do all right. I will treat him naturally and sensitively and look forward to meeting both him and Jayadvaita Maharaja at 11:30 A.M. tomorrow, and they will stay with us for lunch. Then Sunday they will meet again with Ravindra Svarupa Prabhu and take lunch at their place. On Monday they will meet in the morning with Ravindra Svarupa and then have lunch with us. On Tuesday they will meet with me at 11:30, have lunch with us and then leave.
I had a meeting for an hour and a half with Jayadvaita Maharaja and Kadamba Kanana Maharaja. KK Maharaja discussed alternatives in his projected longevity. He said the doctors told him that he could live longer, maybe a year and a half, if he took to chemotherapy. But he completely decided against doing it. He said it would affect his consciousness, and that’s something he doesn’t want to happen. He’ll take other treatments. He’s planning to do some writing. He has done a rough draft of a novel, which he described to me. I liked it very much and asked him to send me a copy of the manuscript. He’s also planning on writing a companion book to the Caitanya-caritamrta. He was very friendly to me and appreciated my contribution to ISKCON.
Jayadvaita Maharaja is still giving three lectures a week on Zoom from New Jersey. He recently made a tour of three countries in Central America and gave lectures in Spanish. He is still working on his book about Prabhupada’s standards in kirtana, using responses from devotees and improving the text. After talking, we went down to the kitchen for lunch. We had kichari and spinach, which I thought were well prepared. For dessert we had a little apple cake with strawberries and whipped cream. Saci Suta was present, and he led the conversation. The sannyasis will have lunch with me tomorrow, and on Tuesday another extended meeting and lunch before they leave.
The swamis are meeting in the morning at Ravindra Svarupa’s place for talks, and they will come to Viraha Bhavan for lunch. The sannyasis have told us they cannot take nightshade vegetables in their diets or heavy meals, so the cooks are preparing kichari with steamed vegetables on the side. Yesterday we did spinach; today we’re doing okra, and there will also be chapatis. We hope the conversation will flow easily in Krsna conscious topics, without controversy. We are especially sensitive to the condition of Kadamba Kanana Maharaja and want him to feel rested and relaxed when he leaves here to face the New York City Ratha-yatra storm.
I had my last meeting with the swamis—it was Jayadvaita Maharaja, Kadamba Kanana Maharaja and myself—and then we had lunch together. Kadamba Kanana Maharaja had been asked what he would do after Sadhu Sanga in Utah and the New York Ratha-yatra. He said he was going to visit with me. I was very touched that he thought this was important. He doesn’t know how long he has to live. After the New York Ratha-yatra, he’s going to travel to London and answer correspondence there. He’ll stay a few weeks and then go to Vrndavana and stay there until the end. Jayadvaita Maharaja is also going to join him in Vrndavana, as well as Indradyumna Maharaja, and Bhurijana Prabhu will also be there. Jayadvaita Maharaja suggested that they take a photo of the three of us—Kadamba Kanana Maharaja, Jayadvaita Maharaja, and I. I will treasure this as a memento. I told KK Maharaja that I wished I knew him better. He was very friendly with me and appreciated my service to ISKCON. He said although I am reclusive, I have made a big influence on the movement. I learned more about him in this three-day visit, and I admire his preaching spirit, his managerial activities and his courage.
The swamis left yesterday, and we are back to our little routine. It was a very friendly, loving visit, made poignant by Kadamba Kanana Maharaja’s condition. We took pictures of the three of us together. I may not see him again, as he is going for a long-term stay in Vrndavana, where he intends to pass away.
This morning we were visited by the home care nurse. She visits twice yearly to check up on my wellbeing. She interviewed Baladeva for an hour and then saw me to check on my vitals. She left us with forms to fill out called “pink papers.” When I fill them out and have them signed by a doctor, they will become legal documents informing any doctors or hospital people of my desires. Once they are signed they become legal documents informing any emergency medical people of my desires.
I have finished reading The Spiritual Journey of Jayapataka Swami, written by Steven J. Rosen (Satyaraja). It is a wonderful book. It has many quotes by Jayapataka Maharaja and his full story of coming to Krsna consciousness, starting in Canada in 1967 and then g0ing to India and finally going to Mayapur, which became his main prabhu-datta-desa. Jayapataka Maharaja, with Prabhupada’s urging, became a citizen of India. Prabhupada was talking to an official about Jayapataka Maharaja’s qualities and how he deserved an Indian citizenship. Prabhupada said, “This young man is an eternal associate of Lord Caitanya. He will make thousands of disciples.” This statement by Prabhupada is astounding and shows the high estimation Prabhupada had for this special disciple. Jayapataka Maharaja actually obtained Indian citizenship. Under Prabhupada’s guidance he developed Mayapur from the early days and saw it grow up to the present time into a city with thousands of residents, and he has overseen construction of the Temple of the Vedic Planetarium. Jayapataka Maharaja traveled widely throughout India. But that was not enough. He left India on world tours and preached vigorously wherever he went.
Unfortunately Maharaja was attacked by a crazy man in the Madrid airport. The man cut Jayapataka Maharaja’s neck with a knife. He lost lots of blood but recovered and went on with his preaching. This was not the end of his troubles and setbacks—Maharaja got a stroke in 2008 and became semi-paralyzed because of his extensive traveling for preaching. To this day he continues to preach and inspire devotees all over the world despite his physical limitations. I already had heard about these almost-superhuman activities of Jayapataka Maharaja, but by reading the book I felt I became intimately acquainted with him and grew in admiration for his unstoppable service to Srila Prabhupada, ISKCON and the world.
Jad Bharat was one of my early disciples, initiated around 1978 in the New York temple. He was eccentric, but very potent on sankirtana. Early in his career he was a member of the Back to Godhead magazine distribution party. Jad Bharat went out with Rama Raya dasa, Partha Damodara, Raya Krsna, Nam Sankirtan, and others. I was the editor-in-chief of Back to Godhead, and we were having financial troubles. We banded together a group of renegades and formed the BTG party in New York. They were all expert in collecting money and selling the magazines. Jad Bharat didn’t socialize much with others. He was intense and kept to himself. At his initiation ceremony, when I announced his spiritual name, the devotees applauded, saying that his name was appropriate since he behaved like the Jada Bharata of Srimad-Bhagavatam, who was a highly advanced devotee but kept to himself like a dumb man. He was a very sloppy dresser, often seen wearing two different kinds of socks, buttons off-center, kaupinas hanging out the back of his pants. He would go to the office of the Motor Vehicle Bureau, where people formed long lines to get their business done for their motor vehicles. He would slap his pocket and hold out his hand, as in begging. He was so potent that he collected a lot of money without saying a word. With the sankirtana devotees whom he served with he gradually became friendly, but he was not open to most devotees. Jad’s mother was a travel agent. He spent a lot of time in India compiling a travel-tourist book of the many holy places in India. He published his book, and many people used it. I was proud to be his spiritual master.
“I wrote to my guru, Kadamba Kanana Swami, joking with him about the process of creating a poem about surprises that appear in our material and spiritual lives. He had a secret he was holding close to the vest, a tumultuous cancer diagnosis, and he was waiting for the right moment to tell his adoring followers. We are all so grateful to see that his humanity and humility and spiritual vision of his future are unshaken. As I was letting the poem take shape, waiting for it to emerge, I heard the news. So the poem took one more wrenching twist.
“I am old enough that the Brooklyn of my youth is gone.
My father was from an older version still, radio shows, tough kids,
enlisting to fight in the second World War. All men smoked.
I was five and he took me to Coney Island,
and sat me on the Cyclone roller coaster.
Rickety, wood beams painted white,
a tarnished safety bar across our laps
that was tightened as the ride began.
Up we went, bumping and halting.
At the top we could see the beach and the sea and the sun.
And then the speed, the hurtling rattling cars, the screaming.
I tasted the pitted bar as I seized it.
A few minutes of terror for me.
I am reading Caitanya-caritamrta.
It is the favorite sastra of Kadamba Kanana Maharaj
and reportedly the choice of Srila Prabhupada if he had to have just one.
I read about the history of the universe
and the branches of the sect for several generation,
and the detailed lists of the writings of the Gosvamis,
summaries of the various sections of Bhakti-rasamrta-sindhu,
divided into seas and waves.
And after those contributions of Rupa, Jiva, Santana were told,
they suddenly visit Mahaprabhu at Jagganath Puri and we hear
about His ecstasy, his absorption in the Deities there
and his identification with the love of the gopis in separation from their Beloved.
I grasped the book tightly,
almost afraid to turn the page.
How much was I qualified to hear about these intimate details,
There He was!
The author’s information impeccable, the devotion of a chain of witnesses undoubted.
The transcendent experience of inspiration is shared by 600 years of lovers and servants.
And I thought that was a surprise, that I understood how quickly things can turn,
until I heard Maharaj’s diagnosis today as he delivered the news to soften the blow.
Hearing him speak, explaining what the months ahead would bring,
a chasm kept widening in my heart.
His future beginning to unfold as I imagined remembering him,
even as he spoke.
He straightened out my life,
and now he turns it upside down.
But the bitter news has its sweet taste somehow,
as his courage and faith are unshaken.
The splendor of his new home being prepared,
the warmth of the embrace he will feel on his arrival,
are already felt in heartbreaking moments we have with him now,
while he jokes,
‘I’m a tough Dutchman.’”
Srila Prabhupada says that Madhavendra Puri was the first one in the Madhva sampradaya to introduce conjugal rasa. In the famous poem he recited at the end of his life:
“O My Lord! O most merciful master! O master of Mathurā! When shall I see You again? Because of My not seeing You, My agitated heart has become unsteady. O most beloved one, what shall I do now?”
This proves that Madhavendra Puri had radha-bhava, but in the Caitanya-caritamrta we read that Madhavendra Puri’s worshipable Deities were Gopala of Vrndavana and Gopinatha of Remuna. He did not worship a Deity of Radharani. It seems incomplete. I am inquiring who and when was worship of the Radharani murti introduced?
In our out-loud reading group we are hearing about the external reason for Lord Caitanya’s descent. It was to spread the chanting of the holy names as the dharma of Kali-yuga. In this age no other religious sacrifice is possible but the chanting of the names. The Lord will come at this time and He is Krsna Himself, although He is not blackish. He is always chanting the names of Krsna, and He is accompanied by His eternal confidential associates. In the Caitanya-bhagavata it is predicted that the holy names of Krsna will be spread to every town and village in the world. We see this is happening in Srila Prabhupada’s movement, the International Society for Krsna Consciousness, where in hundreds of centers the kirtana of Hare Krsna goes on—in congregations and on the streets of the cities in harinama groups.
This is a plea to all my disciples and friends to please attend the July 2 festival at the Veterans of Foreign Wars Hall in Stuyvesant Falls. It is very important that you contact us and let us know that you are coming. That way we know how big a feast to prepare so that everyone gets prasadam. Just imagine if there wasn’t enough prasadam! Please contact Baladeva or Krsna dasi. Their information for contact is on the announcement at the beginning of this Journal. Please plan to stay after the feast a few hours and help clean up. Saturday is not a busy travel day. It is not necessary to race away after the feast if you plan the day properly. Besides, the VFW Hall is rented out for Sunday, July 3 to another group, and they want to get to start setting up for their party. It’s not fair to leave it for a few people only to clean up. In previous years, Baladeva from Trinidad used to clean up in a very organized way with a prearranged crew. But this won’t be the case this year in 2022. We’ll need more help and cooperation to keep the festival at the excellent standard. If you are requested to work at a particular task, please surrender. I don’t want all the pressure to be put on Krsna dasi; it will already be an emotional strain for her in the absence of her husband.
Abhay dasi and her son Janmastami sent me a video that Janmastami made of my Visionary Garden in 2003. I wanted to see the video now that my art is getting attention and is being featured in the summer edition, 2022, of Raw Vision magazine. I thought I might send the magazine this video and hope they could somehow use it in future issues of their magazine. Janmastami did a beautiful job in filming the sculptures outdoors in my backyard at Wicklow, Ireland. It was like seeing old friends. My many wooden sculptures are on display. And I’m in the video, describing each of the features and telling how I gathered the material and got the inspiration to make them. The film is some 40 minutes long, and it’s available to viewers today on sdglegacy.com. It’s on the website, and viewers have to download it from there.
One of my favorite features is a group of people sitting on a bench at a bus stop under an actual discarded Dublin bus stop sign. I have dressed some of the figures up in raincoats because it rains so often in Ireland they need to be protected. There are a number of faces and figures tied up to trees with ropes. These are totem poles. The ropes were gathered from the beaches, where they were washed up from the sea. They are weathered and thick, and they make a natural artistic appearance, contrasted to the trees, barks, and the ropes and the figures. I filled a metal shopping cart with many sculptures of people and stuffed animals bought in thrift stores and colored with spray paint. There is plenty to look at as you browse through my garden and see the curious and fantastic exhibits, including verses from the Bhagavad-gita painted on boards. I hope readers of this Journal will go and order the video and come visit my Visionary Garden in the lush environment of summertime in Ireland.
“I’ve got the photos to go through.
But before looking at that facsimile,
think of him within yourself.
He’s a writer,
he’s a sound that comes over the tape recorder.
More than that:
years of affectionate dealings,
he always led us as a spiritual master should.
‘A spiritual master is expert in giving special
instructions to each of his disciples,
and if the disciples execute the order of
the spiritual master, that is the way of his perfection.’
(Bhag. 4.8.71, purport)
A garish print with too much sepia in it
it’s history: our sannyasa initiation of 1972 Srila
Prabhupada on the vyasasana,
looking like the murtis look now.
We four sannyasis all have grains
in our right hands
to throw into the fire.
New sannyasi clothes.
Prabhupada I can’t find what I want
from these pictures. Please protect me.
You have always kept us expertly
and now I want nothing else.
‘The spiritual master is the external manifestation of
the caitya-guru, or the spiritual master sitting
in everyone’s heart.’ (Bhag. 4.8.44, purport)
So the photos aren’t going to work for poems?
Not so easy, not ‘poems, a penny each.’
Gaining Prabhupada’s love is not
as simple as spelling ‘c-a-t.’
I’m in the photo, an American boy in a swami hat.
It’s humorous how I took to Krsna consciousness and
he gave me a danda.
Sharon Olds could write a poem
saying I hate you for giving me
the danda and consigning me to a life
of no more sex at 32 years old.
But I think it was great and I thank you
for getting me free from my wife.
In one stroke you did it.
You put me in league with saints.
‘There need be no anxiety over attaining perfection
because if one follows the instructions given
by the spiritual master he is sure
to attain the perfection.’
(Bhag. 4.8.71, purport)”
Prabhupada is teaching the world
what it has forgotten. That is, God.
He wrote the purports but people
don’t read them.
He challenged but they didn’t take it.
He walked the beach, in the park, and they could
have come too but were too busy.
Prabhupada made what he taught sound simple—
the body is the outer covering,
There’s a subtle body within that,
and the spirit soul is the real mover.
The supreme soul is Krsna.
Prabhupada had a lot to say against the Mayavadis
to people who didn’t think it was relevant.
They thought Prabhupada was abstract
whereas the problems of the world
are real and multifarious.
But he rejected that and said
the one common disease is material identification
and we all suffer from it.
Just chant Hare Krsna and be cured.
But they laughed. He knew they laughed.
He was disgusted with them
but didn’t give up on them.
A relatively few came to him,
his boys and girls.
On them he lavished affection
gave knowledge to stand strong
and he chastised them too
but that was also instruction, a sharp word
to wake you up to the responsibility
of being Krsna’s representative
in this world.
Prabhupada left his books
and his followers, and he has gone.
We still can’t understand it.
We are only trying to understand
‘I’m not this body. Krsna’s God.’
How can we expect to know
where the pure devotee lives now?
Don’t bother about it he said,
it will come in due course. Just
try to serve Krsna. Tell everyone you meet
to please surrender to God.
Prabhupada has left us
plenty to do
to get back to him.”
“While talking to a roomful of devotees yesterday
that Srila Prabhupada was a perfect psychologist.
He assured us that we were fortunate and happy.
We have given up sinful life and
attained Krsna consciousness
so no one should be despondent.
But Prabhupada also made it clear
we are not Vaisnavas
but servants of the Vaisnavas.
A pure devotee is very rare.
He was expert and did it subtly
so no one noticed how—
giving us confidence and humility at the same time.
And what he gave we accepted.
In arguing for Krsna
he’d take any side
to prove the truth, to defeat the Lord’s opponents.
Prabhupada said the devotees
may call the nondevotees
by ornamented names like vimukta-maninas,
‘those who think they have become liberated.’
But Krsna is superior and so he tells it plain,
they are mudhas, asses.
Prabhupada did that too, like father and guru.
I’m remembering him
and collecting my appreciations.
He’d prefer to see me battling like him
but if all I can do is discover
some of his expert ways and admire them
he will accept that too as a kind of service.
But if you admire him, you really ought to preach.”
A devotee sent me some black and white photos.
One shows Prabhupada in a room where he sits eyes
closed in front of shelves where books
and pamphlets or notebooks are stacked.
The wall is bare, I don’t know where.
He wears garlands of big roses—some almost
like cabbages—and marigolds.
And his eyes are closed.
He is in so many places, it’s hard
figuring out where he is in
any particular picture.
When he closed his eyes he
could be anywhere, with
Here he is waiting for the plane
that will take him from SF to NYC in April of 1967.
He wears a buttoned shirt and
under it a turtleneck jersey and
over the shirt, a long piece of khadi as a shawl.
Early days of ISKCON in America.
His hand in a large beadbag.
He’s absorbed in the chanting
and in what he has to do.
He’s apart from the airport waiting room
and even from the disciples who surround him.
He’s lovable and our guru,
Another photo is a side view of his face
and his right hand holding beads, maybe
an initiation yajna.
Here’s one smiling, the day he left
for New York City in ’67.
So many different moods in a day.
I can’t describe more . . .
He was very old in his 70s and then 80s.
But not an old man. He’s not a man
at all, the pure devotee
is pure representative of Krsna
and his body . . . is Prabhupada.
I look at his photos
with an awakening of love.”
“Narottama dasa Thakura sings:
“‘O Lord, You are an ocean of mercy. You are the friend of the fallen souls. Please notice me. I have become like a nondevotee, swallowed by the timingila fish of lust. O Lord, please protect me.
“‘In every birth I repeatedly offended You. In every birth I failed to worship You sincerely. No one is as fallen as I. Nevertheless, You are the only goal of my life. O Lord of my life, please do not abandon me.
“‘O Lord, You are known as patita-pavana, the deliverer of the fallen, and You are also known as Syamasundara. Please do not ignore my appeal.
“Even if I am an offender, I think that You are the real goal of life. That is the truth.
“‘O Supreme Personality of Godhead, please do not neglect me. 0 master of my life, please hear my words. Even if I have committed offenses to You, I always think of You as my master. Please allow me to serve You as Your associate and follower.
“‘Narottama dasa is very unhappy. 0 Lord, please engage him in Your sankirtana movement and thus make him happy. O Lord, I am very afraid that I will not be able to overcome the many obstacles that stop me from advancing in devotional service. O Lord, at every moment I beg You to remove all those obstacles” (Sri Prema-bhakti-candrika, Narottama dasa Thakura, “Song 3,” verses 1-4, 7).
“Sri Krsna Caitanya.
“It’s dark and cold outside. Cold in this room too. The page is bright yellow under the lamplight. On this field I press my pen, desiring to praise Krsna,
with the pressure of the pen
and the flow of this ink—
Let Krsna be praised (as the male parrot sang in Vrndavana).
Let Radhika be praised (as the female parrot sang).
Let Vrndavana be praised (as Prabodhananda Sarasvati sings).
“Let all the Vaisnavas rise and chant, even the demigods, so that the whole universe is immersed in a blissful kirtana (as desired by Bhaktivinoda Thakura for the pleasure of Kana).
“Let me join too. And now let me utter maha-mantras on my beads. It is for this that the Swami gave me these beads and chanted on them for me. He wants me to be happy chanting. Don’t we widely advertise on our invitation cards, ‘Chant Hare Krsna and your life will be sublime’?”
“Although reforms can be made in the standard of prison life, a reformer is not allowed to make the prison a free, happy place. One purpose of the prison is to restrict the normal, free movements of its inmates. Similarly, this material world is designed to give trouble to all who come here under the laws of birth, death, disease, and old age.
“Or take the example of a hospital. A patient may be on a very strict diet, but if a do-gooder gives the patient highly spiced, fried foods and rich deserts, the patient may become deathly ill or the meddler thrown out of the hospital. The do-gooder did not know that the patient’s fasting was meant for curing him.
“In this material world everyone is acting under the force of their karma, and no one can change it, try as he might. Suffering and happiness are destined for every living being. The do-gooders cannot understand the laws of nature, and they try in different concocted ways to evade the strict laws of material nature. Yet their efforts are always baffled, and they can never be effec¬tive, magnanimous persons. They may want to do good, but they don’t know how. If a do-gooder dives into a river, swims out to save a drowning man, but returns only with the man’s shirt, leaving the man in the river to drown, everyone will consider such a rescuer a useless fool. Similarly, the real person within each of us, the eternal soul, can never be saved by welfare attempts that only tend to the ‘shirt’ of the material body, which is covering the self.”
“Digression: In writing about what people know of me, I thought to remark that for 20 years in Krsna consciousness, from about 1966–1987, I resented that I was taken advantage of by people who knew they could manipulate me. I had to represent the GBC by writing position papers. I had to go on assignments to investigate apostates. And I had to get involved in politics, and in so doing, compromise my integrity. I was used by the GBC as “the sadhu” in situations where they wanted to put forward someone who was innocent and neutral. I wrote a paper – the official ISKCON GBC position paper – against associating with B.R. Sridhara Maharaja. It actually didn’t contain my voice, rather it had the input of all the members of the GBC, especially Ramesvara. But people took it that I alone wrote the paper. The followers of Sridhara Maharaja considered it offensive, and they came after me to reprimand me. I was very embarrassed by this.
“I wrote an apology to Sridhara Maharaja before he passed away. I excused myself from any offenses I may have made to him. My having to write that paper was not one of the main causes for my resigning from the GBC, though many of these things happened at around that time. They certainly had a cumulative effect. I resigned from the GBC primarily because of my migraine headaches, which were prominent at that time and which prevented me from attending GBC meetings. I could not enter the hall where the meetings were held without getting a migraine, and so I really felt myself incapable of being a GBC representative. But I also quit because there was such a strong feeling from the grassroots members of ISKCON that the GBC had done something very wrong. So I thought that since the GBC’s integrity was in question it was the right move to resign. I thought others, too, ought to resign, but no one resigned except me.
“Actually, I was the first to resign. As the years went on, other GBC members also resigned, including Mukunda Maharaja, Hridayananda Maharaja, Jagadisa Maharaja, and others. As they grew older and management became stressful for them, they resigned. Perhaps they kept my example in mind. Then the GBC instituted a policy of GBC Emeritus: a GBC man who had resigned in good standing was called a GBC Emeritus.
“Prabhupada said a position on the GBC was for life. He didn’t believe in resignation, so it was considered a sign of weakness to resign. But it eventually became inevitable for different individual members, and so they went ahead and did it.”
“This is an evasive introduction to the topic of my own japa. I feel a resistance to put it down here because it is too personal. And maybe my readers don’t want to hear of my struggles in japa. But the real point is, I don’t have good news. I would like to associate with someone like Madhu, for whom japa—prayer—is central to spiritual life.
“Madhu says he has a terrible time controlling his mind while chanting—but maybe his sorrow over this is what pleases Krsna. If at the end of life one sincerely laments, ‘I couldn’t chant Hare Krsna, although I tried. I couldn’t control the mind,’ that will please Krsna.
“We can make progress, and I felt it recently. I gave a few classes on the practical aspects of japa at Gita-nagari. I insisted that we cannot indulge in deliberate mind-wandering. I made the point enough times that I convinced myself. It stayed with me until I came here.
“Sometimes I say that this writing is kirtana. Maybe I have neglected the importance of japa while putting attention into my writing. I didn’t want to broach this subject, but now I am glad I brought it out in the open. I know devotees sacrifice attention on japa for other duties in the sankirtana movement. We justify it by saying, ‘This is an emergency time. It is not an age for babajis. Work now, and later we can chant.’ This attitude can easily get out of hand.
“Let’s look at the ‘worst scenario’: I say I am beating a drum, the brhad-mrdanga. Srila Prabhupada told us that writing is that big drum. But japa is my spiritual heartbeat. If I develop palpitations of the heart or heart failure, I am finished. Do I want to come back next life as a materialistic talented writer who has to go through hell until he is forty years old and then join the Hare Krsna movement?
“Then again, do I really have to choose between the pen and my japa-mala? The great acaryas like Rupa Gosvami, Sanatana Gosvami, Jiva Gosvami, and Srila Prabhupada used both. I just have to keep everything balanced and do both in the mood of a servant. And I have to give prime mind-time to the holy name.”
“‘There is no difference between the spiritual master’s instructions and the spiritual master himself. In his absence, therefore, his words of direction should be the pride of the disciple.’ (Cc. Adi 1.35)
“What does this mean, that the guru’s order is the pride of the disciple? It means the disciple has received a treasure, and this is the cause of his satisfaction. He’s not boastful about it, but undeniably, his guru’s order is a cause for self-congratulation. He’s confident that a great soul is leading him back to Godhead. He’s no longer downtrodden. The disciple of a bona fide spiritual master has won the prize, the cream, the flower.
“Such pride exists even in the Supreme—Lord Krsna is proud of Srimati Radharani, and She is proud of Him. Srila Prabhupada was proud of his Guru Maharaja, who was never defeated, and his Guru Maharaja was proud to be the son of Bhaktivinoda Thakura. All devotees of Lord Caitanya are proud to belong to the Gaudiya Vaisnava sampradaya.
“Material existence crushes us and makes us ashamed. Our relationship with Srila Prabhupada makes us transcendental. Yet this pride doesn’t work against humility. We always remain a fool before the spiritual master.
“One time I wrote to Srila Prabhupada that I did not think myself a very bold preacher. He wrote back that he too once thought he could not speak, but by practice he gained confidence. Moreover, he said, we’re not cheating anyone when we speak, so you should not be hesitant or ashamed. Prabhupada compared the devotees of the Lord to a servant of the king. As the king is most honorable, so is his servant.
“The spiritual pride in the guru’s orders implies a grave responsibility. One has to discharge Prabhupada’s orders for the benefit of the whole world. The pride of the elite must be preserved at all costs. Arjuna was proud of his friendship with Krsna, but when Arjuna wanted to renounce the ksatriya’s duty, Krsna warned him not to dishonor their glorious relationship. And so it is stated that the spiritual master will always keep company with a disciple ‘as long as the disciple follows strictly the instructions of the spiritual master.’
“Let us be proud of the knowledge in Srila Prabhupada’s books. Never take it as a minor event that we have come to accept them as scriptures. Who can comprehend these things except the devotees themselves? People will take it as vainglory. But even at the risk of being misunderstood, we have to speak and write of Prabhupada’s glories. The world should see splendid architecture in his memory, his samadhis and museums—and the Bhaktivedanta Institute and the Bhaktivedanta Manor. Most important of all, we should consider ourselves blessed by his association, and so in pride we bow down at his lotus feet. By the causeless mercy of Prabhupada, even the lowest born and most fallen can now aspire to the topmost bliss, Krsna in Vrndavana. May we always remember that we are the servants of the true servant of the Supreme.”
“Gambling is an attempt to increase one’s wealth without honest labor, and greed for gold invites the major vices to gather around it, such as falsity, prostitution, intoxication, and crime.
“The pursuance of false economic practices such as gambling and gold standardization is connected to the abandonment of the economic system recommended by Lord Krsna—as provided by the cow, bull, and land. It is not by accident that the personification of religion appears as a bull, and that the personification of mother earth appears in the form of a cow. As Kali attacked these innocent creatures, so his policy is continued by the followers of Kali. Those who are sudras but pretend to be rulers, kill the innocent animals who are unprotected by their masters, the vaisyas.
“‘The cow is meant to deliver milk, and the bull is meant to produce grains. But in the age of Kali, the sudra class of men are in the posts of administrators, and the cows and bulls, or the mothers and fathers, unprotected by the vaisyas, are subjected to the slaughterhouses organized by the sudra administrators.’ (Bhag.1.17.1, purport)
“Readers may think that we have introduced an unrelated subject by claiming that cow and bull protection are part of truthfulness, but since truthfulness is the essence of religion, and since cow protection is an important part of Vedic religion, the two cannot be separated. In fact, it was Kali’s greatest irreligious act to attack the cow and bull. By this crime against truthfulness, all the subsidiary evils of irreligion were free to invade the scene.”
“One psychologist was talking about the importance of noticing things. If you notice when you get angry, or you notice when you are acting, you can curb these tendencies. He recommended a simple technique of just paying attention to your own breathing and noting how your skin or eyes feel. In order to work deeply, the noticing should be kept very simple. It is not a matter of thinking of concepts, but the primitive act of noticing. When I read of this technique, I thought of applying it to my Prabhupada meditations. I think it’s something anyone can do.
“For example, someone pronounces the word ‘Prabhupada.’ You become alert. You don’t have to think about it. You can just feel, ‘Prabhupada’s name was just spoken.’ On another occasion, say you are taking prasadam in the association of devotees. Suddenly, you notice that you are among devotees, that the prasadam you are eating has been cooked in a particular way, that the child of the couple to your left has a Sanskrit name—everything has been taught to us by Prabhupada. You may feel this in an overall way, or you may notice particular details. It doesn’t require a verbal acknowledgment, but you want to feel the awareness of Prabhupada in everything you do.
“This act of noticing is not intended as a substitute to the more discursive methods of glorifying Prabhupada with our intelligence and words; but it can supplement our present meditation. Sometimes we are tired of talking, or we realize that words will not be able to capture our experience. Perhaps we are with people who have no interest in Prabhu¬pada, or we ourselves don’t feel inspired enough to speak. At times like this, this ‘awareness’ technique can be fully utilized. We stop in the midst of outward activities, perhaps starting by becoming aware of our own breath, and then turn up the ‘awareness’ volume until we perceive Prabhupada’s blessing and presence.
“If we are fortunate to live in a society of devotees, then, whether we ‘notice’ or not, we are regularly being exposed to Prabhupada’s lectures, books, kirtanas, and way of life. Even when we don’t actively remember him, we can be assured that our inner self is benefiting by exposure to Prabhupada. If an iron rod is placed in fire, gradually it will become hotter and hotter, even if only by imperceptible degrees. Prabhupada used to give the example that a preoccupied airplane passenger may not notice when the plane takes off, but, after a while, he will be surprised to see that he is thousands of feet above the earth. Similarly, even if we sometimes fail to notice the benefit of living in Prabhupada’s shelter, eventually, Prabhupada will bless us to become more aware.”
“In Hawaii, one woman disciple went in to see Srila Prabhupada and brought her one-year-old daughter with her. The temple president introduced her, telling how they were trying to arrange that this woman could earn money for her needs without unduly straining the temple’s finances.
“The woman said that she heard there was a job picking guavas available on the island. Prabhupada said no, a woman with a child should not take such strenuous labor. When she said that as an alternative she could distribute his books, Prabhupada smiled and approved, ‘Yes, do that.’
“While this talk was going on, the woman’s young child began to play with papers on Prabhupada’s desk.
“‘No,’ said Prabhupada, shaking his finger at the child.
“The woman picked up her child and placed her beside her, but the little girl crawled forward and started to touch Prabhupada’s feet.
“‘No!’ the mother called out, and she began to drag her child away, but Prabhupada said, ‘My papers she should not touch, but my feet, that is all right. You must learn how to instruct the child properly.’
“Knowing that her time in the darsana was soon up, the mother tried to introduce a philosophical question to get some spiritual benefit from the rare opportunity of talking to Srila Prabhupada. She asked, ‘How do you become free from fear?’
“Prabhupada replied by giving the example of Prahlada Maharaja. For him, Prabhupada said, he saw everything as coming from Krsna, whether it was good or bad, whereas for the demon, there was only fear.
“Prabhupada then drank water and held the cup out to the small child. By now, however, the child was getting tired and cranky. She refused the water and threw herself on the ground, hitting her head in a temper tantrum. Before she actually began to cry, Prabhupada interrupted her and said, ‘Look!’ pointing to the floor. ‘You have broken the floor!’ The child immediately got up, stopped crying, and looked at the floor. Then Prabhupada gestured that they should leave.”
“He is always with us
and loves Krsna,
who sees Krsna
whom we trust utterly,
the perfect example
as practical business chief,
of the worldwide movement,
always the soft-as-a-rose
servant of the servant of the Lord,
standing before the Deity
in confidential darshan.
Those moments when
it seems he is not present,
the world is all vacant
and we are like a loitering crowd,
rather than a unified squadron.
When we forget him,
easy things become impossible,
association becomes dry,
into cliques and voting blocks—
when we forget him.
And the powerful maya
into independent action.
He does not say,
‘Simply sit idle
and think of me.’
To remember him means
to work together
with basic trust.
When we forget him,
When we remember,
into our view again;
to Krsna consciousness.”
“What about me? Why is it I don’t want to do better? Is it that I don’t want to pay the price saints pay? It’s as if I’m maintaining a thick wall, as thick as these wooded hills, between me and real Krsna consciousness. Someday I may see what it is, Then would I actually admit, ‘I don’t want the advanced state”? How could I be so foolish? Yet, I might have to admit, ‘I can’t pay the price.’ Such a swallowing of pride, such humiliation.
“Gopa-vrnda dasa quoted to me from the Caitanya-caritamrta (Madhya 22.107):
“When the heart is purified by hearing and chanting, the living entity naturally awakens.” He admitted that he chants his prescribed rounds while driving and at other times when he’s not attentive ‘But I am thinking I can chant this way until the financial pressure eases off. Then in my old years, I can dedicate more time to chanting properly.’ He asked me if I would advise him to change his priorities and immediately begin chanting as he knows best, ‘Whatever the cost, based on your own experience, that time is too precious to postpone until a later date.’
“I wish I had that experience. Or I wish I could learn from it. Prabhupada said that even if we live for a million years, it will soon come to an end. We read a sentence like that in our brief life duration of seventy or eighty years. In any case, it’s gone all too soon.
“Depend on Krsna. Money comes to us by our karma. It may seem impossible for us to recorder our priorities, but that’s a mental block. You don’t have to chant your rounds in the car. It’s not impossible to do them properly. You just have to put first things first. I am not saying you don’t have to worry about money or your family or your mortgage and all that—those are real worries. Al least for the time being, chant your rounds nicely. Just sit down with a clean piece of paper and plan a day that starts with sixteen rounds. Then plan to drive into town. You won’t starve to death. Somehow or other it will work. If you worry so much about money that you conclude beforehand that you can’t chant in the morning, then you are making a big mistake.
“I guess I am in a position to give advice like that because I at least accomplish it. Krsna has been kind and given me a life in which I have time to chant my rounds. I know just having time to chant my rounds is not perfection, but if a person doesn’t even give himself time to chant properly, then he’s not even as far along as I am.”
“Another question to consider is who to pray to? Is it sometimes to Prabhupada? And if we pray to Krsna should we pray only to Him in His original form or to His incarnations? To Lord Caitanya? To the temple arca-vigraha? Surely the answer to this question is a personal one. I used to be confused whether to pray to Prabhupada or Krsna, and now I address my prayers to them both. But I do so not with a rigid theological definition in my mind, but in a way that seems natural for me—to address them both.
“In any case, we should always first approach Krsna through the spiritual masters. We should also be confident that our prayers are heard, not that the prayer is a “remote or slim chance” as the dictionary stated. Prabhupada comments on this as follows in a letter:
“‘Regarding your questions are the Spiritual Master and the Grand Spiritual Master consciously aware of the prayers of a sincere devotee who prays in love to Them?—the answer is that no conscious prayers go in vain. They are transmitted positively. But one thing you must know that any prayer you offer to your Spiritual Master and Superior Spiritual Master, all of them are conveyed to Krsna, so no sincere prayers go in vain. We shall always offer such prayers to Spiritual Master, Superior Spiritual Master, Vaisnava Acaryas, Lord Caitanya, and at the end Radha Krsna, that is the system.’
—Letter, April 27, 1970”
“He was blue
cried about that but
I told him, just
make an offering of any little
thing you have to Krsna.
“Who’s He?” he asked.
I commenced to tell him
what I’d learned in Bhagavad-
gita. It was fun, I go into
it, as skillfully as I could.
It didn’t totally convince him
of course, but we sure tried,
the group. He said, that sounds,
‘pretty good’ and looked at
the sincerity as it might
appear in our voices.
You can be blue for Krsna
was really what we
Told of the gopis’ separation,
told of Lord Caitanya, all
those years in the
Gambhira – we always
just say whatever
sounds appropriate –
way over our heads.
the fisherman’s net,
the tears of Raghunath Goswami
And what, me?
just be cheerful
if you feel some upbeat
take that as His mercy
and go with it.
O Krsna, I want change and no change.
Oh, all friends blown
away like leaves. No
reason to like them any
more. I can’t live near
I can’t bear to keep up with
what they’re doing and after
meeting they say, ‘Don’t
write about me in your
diary.’ So, what is to be
Write about the rocks
trees and toadstools
they don’t complain, write
about the blanket on
your lap, make it immortal…
make your mouth shut.
Make your mark on the
rock – this monk forgot
to go out and then went
out . . .
give him my salute of
November 11th, it’s Veteran’s
Day, something about the
thank God and serve
in His corps.
Little under the roof
little doubts swing
back and forth, little
fires and confirmations,
bring us to the dark end
of another peaceful day.
Soon we can read
the sastra and light the candle
Can’t expect to sleep so well
after so much sleepiness, but
maybe I’ll go down and meet
those dreams of Prabhupada
distant but present and we are
overnight cruising in strange
mixtures, surprises – like
125 Katan Avenue turning into an
ISKCON temple and they ask me
to take GBCship
no, no, I say. But I want
to serve him in some way.
May these poems be accepted and
hearing and lectures and little tours
who are you out there?
Do you read this?
I don’t know if I can go
with this, he said I want
to go with my cup of coffee
but each man had his
own idea – no unity
‘Spiritual Unity’ was exactly
what they called it in
1960s style loft scene
Krsna consciousness came to us around
the same time at the other end of
the spectrum, but promising
consciousness expansion and
sweating that simple
song and swami step
some bearded gentle cats
he said, get inside it—
swami says, don’t disregard
Bhagavad-gita, it’s coming down from
sun-god and then five thousand years ago
accepted by all acaryas –
so, we did
as simple as that
you can do what you
like with it now
start at the same place
O Lord, O energy of the
please engage me in Your
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.