There are about one and a half weeks left for Christmas shopping. We have purchased most of our gifts for Stuyvesant Falls neighbors. Keli-lalita puts on a kind of Christmas party with special prasadam and exchanges of gifts, which are wrapped and placed under the Christmas tree. Keli’s oldest daughter, Kaulini, has a boyfriend who came to the Christmas party last year. I said if he comes again this year, I will boycott the gathering. I don’t approve of their relationship, and neither do Kaulini’s parents. Last year the boyfriend and girlfriend embraced and rubbed against each other right in front of all the devotees. Maybe he won’t even come this year.
We have a big wreath on our front door and lots of lights. We also have a miniature evergreen tree inside the house with colored lights. Mice invaded our kitchen, broke open boxes of food and left their turds scattered. We had a major cleanup of the kitchen and set out “Haveaheart” traps for the offenders.
Prabhupada lecturing in the Bowery loft: You cannot give up material life and take to spiritual life by force. The example is Visvamitra. He was a great yogi, meditating in the forest. Indra became alarmed: “This man is so powerful, he may pray to God and take my post.” So Indra sent a beautiful heavenly woman, Menaka, to make him fall down. Menaka came before Visvamitra, and when he saw her he became implicated and engaged in sex. He was meditating by force, but he still had material desires. One has to control one’s senses by engaging them in the higher pleasure of spiritual life; not by force. Spiritual life begins with faith. Then one meets a sadhu. The sadhu teaches one rules and regulations (bhajana-kriya). Then one’s faith becomes fixed (nistha). One develops a higher taste and finally reaches bhava, ecstasy. Yamunacarya wrote a verse, “Now that I am feeling pleasure in spiritual life, whenever I think of sex I want to turn my face and spit.”
I desire to hear a Prabhupada lecture every day, but I have trouble operating the machine. Learn how to do it from Baladeva.
My disciple in Russia, Ishana, is going astray. She just wrote me that I and Srila Prabhupada have the responsibility to stop World War III. She thinks it will erupt from the war between Russia and the Ukraine. She speculates that Russians are the personalists and Ukrainians are the impersonalists. She criticizes me for telling her not to worship Siva and Durga. She alludes that I am like Daksa, who offended Siva, and she says, “Don’t you think your remarks about Lord Siva will anger him and bring about destruction?” In the past Ishana did tremendous service, arranging for the translation, publication and distribution of many of my books. That period seems to be over. Even if she could get a book translated, she and her husband, Arjuna, are unable to transport the books to a festival and sell them. She doesn’t even mention my books in her recent letters but rants on about the war and my so-called failure to offer Siva and Durga respects.
Ishana used to be submissive and loving–an ideal disciple. Now I don’t know how to approach her without disturbing her mind and provoking offensive replies.
Ishana doesn’t like the Vaisnava’s criticism of the impersonalists (Mayavadis). She writes to me: “It is the personalists who set the aggressive tone. The impersonalists are more peaceful, because in every person they try to see and love God.” When I try to catch her, she jumps outside of my instructions and comes back with another concoction opposed to the Vaisnava siddhanta. She says by our opposing the impersonalists we are hurting Lord Siva in another way. He will become angry and “push the button,” bringing about World War III. Ishana has worked hard for years to translate and distribute my books in Russian. For that, I am eternally indebted. But I cannot tolerate her asampradayic rantings.
Baladeva says I am not keeping a free write journal. I confess to him that I sit looking at the page and can’t think of what to say. That’s not the spirit. Ishana sent me a photo of a long line of tired-looking soldiers marching down a road. This was to illustrate her letter about war–the war I can avoid if I stop my offenses toward the impersonalists and Mother and Father, Durga and Siva. I say I don’t offend them, I just repeat what Prabhupada says. She is right; all-out nuclear war would be horrendous for all people. But how to stop it? During the Cold War between Russia and the U.S.A., Prabhupada said we could not take political or military action. He quoted the verse from the Puranas: harer nama harer nama harer namaiva kevalam . . . “Chant the holy names, chant the holy names, chant the holy names. In the age of Kali, there is no other way to peace and God consciousness but the chanting of the holy names.” The harinama party is stopping the missiles from falling by congregational sankirtana.
I should not stop writing. It is my little bit to support the sankirtana movement. When I write freely, I am chanting at the top of my lungs. When I hesitate or stop, I am pouring water on the useful fire. All glories to the sankirtana movement! It cleanses the heart of lifetimes of sinful activities
. . . and it gives us a taste of the nectar for which we are always anxious. I am writing Hare Krsna Hare Krsna Krsna Krsna Hare Hare / Hare Rama Hare Rama Rama Rama Hare Hare. It is a plea: “O Radha, O Krsna, please engage me in Your service.”
Han-Shan went to live on Cold Mountain
to get away from the world.
No one visits him there, they
can’t make the climb. He sits
and mumbles Taoist texts,
he looks at the moon.
Sometimes he wishes he had
a companion. He’s dressed
in rags and his hair is white.
He’s forgotten how long
he’s been living on Cold Mountain.
But he wouldn’t leave it
for all the treasures in the world.
Me and another man went back
to work in the welfare office.
The other man said, “Give me
my own desk back.” He had done
well, so they cheered him. I hadn’t
done well. They gave me a desk
next to the other man so that he could
help me. I asked for the files
of my caseload. They said, “There is
no caseload, don’t talk of caseload.
It’s different now. You work a lot
on the phone.” The workers were
goofing off. They gave me a manual,
“How to Conduct Yourself.” It
was filled with vignettes, how
not to let the clients bluff you.
It was completely enigmatic;
I couldn’t understand it.
A worker said, “Don’t worry,
if you understand one page
in the entire book, you are
doing all right, and it will
help you.” Looking at that manual was
like going to Iraq or listening to rap music.
I saw it was a jungle out there.
I went through many vignettes
and didn’t wake up from my nap
until 5:00 P.M.; I usually go only
up to 4:00 P.M. I didn’t like my new job.
Krsna is the light in the sun,
the taste in water,
the ability in man.
“The impersonalist perceives the presence
of the Lord in water by its taste, and the
personalist also glorifies the Lord for
His kindly supplying tasty water to
quench man’s thirst.” I want to
be active in thanking Krsna for
His graces and not begrudge
or blame Him for obstacles
in my life. I want to see Him everywhere
and see everything in Him. Thus
He will never be lost to me.
Gopi-manjari just visited.
She is a yoga instructor who
gives them kirtana and bhakti.
She loves my book Entering
the Life of Prayer where
I profess a personal relationship with God in prayer.
She is bringing yoga students
to Assisi for a retreat and
Radhanatha Swami will be there.
She’s read a lot about St. Francis
and admires his devotion
to Jesus and his compassion
for all living beings.
She is inspired by my
own example, how I’ve
struggled but come full-circle around
where I am living a life of concentrated bhajana.
Right now she is repainting Radha-Govinda while I
write these lines
about her, a loving disciple.
Pomes a-penny each.
Here comes the sun.
We’ve got a skunk on
our property and I
painted two canvases today.
One was of Krsna running with
the boys in pursuit: “I
shall be the first to touch
Krsna!” After the discipline
of krsna-lila it felt good
to let my hand move
freer in semi-abstract.
I did a square-shouldered
blue outline of a man; a Kandinsky
triangle and circle and two-colored
Celtic spirals and a
brown woman with red breasts. What
shall I paint tomorrow?
Surely something will come.
Prabhupada on his asana teaches the science of God. He leads the chanting of the Hare Krsna mantra and we all follow. Some of us get up and dance the Swami Step in a circle close before him. Sometimes he dances himself with arms upraised, and we go wild, jumping up and down. He makes us ecstatic. He appears to be an old man, but he strides quickly on his morning walk and the youngsters find it difficult to keep up with him. He rises after three or four hours of sleep, and at 1:00 A.M. he begins dictating his translations and purports of Srimad-Bhagavatam. He is writing mainly to his disciples, but he addresses the whole world. O Vaisnava thakura, kindly be manifest unto me.
He attends the morning program in the temple, greets the Deity, sits through the guru-puja and gives a lecture from Srimad-Bhagavatam. In the late morning he answers mail by dictating to his secretary. He meets with special guests and with his disciples who are taking responsibility for his mission and preaching and management. At 11:00 A.M. he strips down to a gamcha and sits for a massage. His servant rubs some mustard seed oil on his own hands and kneels facing Prabhupada. As Prabhupada directs, the servant makes small pinching movements on Prabhupada’s scalp. Then he goes behind Prabhupada and massages his entire back. The back takes more time. At the servant’s discretion, or by a signal from Prabhupada, the back is finished, and the servant returns to the front. He massages his master’s chest, belly, legs and feet. Prabhupada then goes to take a bath and put on fresh clothes that have been laid out for him. He then sits at his low desk and says the Gayatri mantras. His lunch is brought to him (Indian- vegetarian, just according to his ruci or taste) and he honors and relishes it, mixing the preparations in his right hand and gracefully popping it into his mouth. After finishing his meal, he washes his mouth and hands and then he takes a two-hour nap. On waking, he’s open to seeing more guests or meeting with devotees. He may chant more rounds of japa. He constantly speaks Krsna consciousness. Towards 7:00 P.M. he gets ready to go down to the storefront to lead kirtanas and lecture on Bhagavad-gita. After the evening program, he is back in his room talking with guests and disciples. Then he goes to bed after 10:00 P.M.
It is December 13th, and the second snowfall of the season is descending heavily in large flakes. The lawns are white, but it isn’t sticking yet on the road. I don’t think I am offending Lord Siva. I respect him as Mahadeva, the most powerful of the demigods and vaisnavanam yatha sambhuh: “the best of the Vaisnavas.” But I don’t advise my disciples to worship him as the Supreme Personality of Godhead. That is isvara parama krsna sac-cid-ananda vigraha/ anadir adir govindah sarva-karaṇa-karanam.
I go up to the Swami’s room and the door is open. I can see Jadurani back at her place. She must have eaten prasadam quickly and come right up, and now she is singing the Hare Krishna mantra and tinkling the brush in the glass. She paints a little on her canvas, then tinkles it in the glass to wipe it off, and then paints again. There are some guests in the Swami’s room and he’s speaking to them. So I’ll go in and sit down. The Swami is saying that there are symptoms of advancement in Krishna consciousness. You feel you should take down notes of what he’s saying, because you have not heard this before. Right away you ask yourself, “Do I have these symptoms of advancement?” He says one symptom is that you’re not attached to the things of this world. You’re also not lusty or greedy for material things because you’re satisfied in Krishna. Hearing the Swami, you’re amazed at how he knows everything and speaks in such an ordered way, authoritative and very relaxed. The room is warm and he’s sitting back, with his dhoti hitched up a bit so that you can see his satiny skin up to the knee. He looks at me but doesn’t say anything because he’s really absorbed in talking, and I’m just glad that I’m there. I’m included and listening.
After a while I ask a question–“Are there more symptoms of advancement?” He says that another symptom is that you’re not afraid. There’s no fear because you know that even if you die, you don’t die. You are an eternal self. Some of the guests don’t agree with this. They make points, and the Swami counters again.
While he’s talking, Swamiji seems to notice the typing that’s in my hand. He says, “What is that? Do you have some typing for me?” “Yes.” You come forward on your knees and put the manuscript beside him. He touches it, looks at it in an offhand way and goes back to preaching. But then a few minutes later he looks at you and asks, “Do you have more work?” “Yes, I have more.”
I had been feeling sleepy over at my apartment and thinking, “Oh well, I can go and see him in the morning.” But I’m glad I decided to come back to see him, because this is where I really want to be. As the evening gets later, Acyutananda looks in and asks, “Swamiji, would you like something to eat? Would you like some puffed rice?” Some of the guests realize how late it is and say that they’ll have to leave. I think I should leave also and give the Swami some time to himself. Finally we all get up and start for the door. Swamiji says, “I need some time to work on the Srimad-Bhagavatam.” Then he says, “The store will open tomorrow morning at six o’clock.” By the store he means himself. A man says, “I have to get back to the Bronx and the daily grind again. It sure has been nice being able to talk with you, Swamiji. And I hope I can follow some of these principles.” Everyone leaves the apartment, as Acyutananda and Kirtanananda signal that we should all go and leave Swamiji alone. Jadurani stays in her corner, painting. I could stay too, but I’m going to go. I’ll be back in the morning. We bow down and say goodnight and somewhat reluctantly leave Swamiji. He’s smiling to us, and we know we’ll be able to come back soon. As I walk home, I picture the Swamiji in his room alone, typing Srimad-Bhagavatam on his typewriter.
Radha-Govinda look lovely. They are wearing sky-blue outfits made by Tapan of Vrndavana. Radharani’s skirt is painted with a branch of flowering pink blossoms. Her shape is emphasized by a single-strand necklace and a band that shows Her waist’s thinness. Govinda’s feet are exposed, and He wears a large turban braided with pink and blue cloth. All glories to Sri-Sri Radha-Govinda of Viraha Bhavan.
Saci-suta and Keli-lalita came over for lunch yesterday. We planned two gatherings with them. One is on Christmas Eve at Saci’s house. Kaulini and her boyfriend are back together again and they will attend the Christmas meeting. Keli says, “He’s actually nice, except he has long hair.” Saci is less favorable, but he is tolerating. Last year the two were embracing and rubbing against each other, making it obvious to everyone that they were (illicit) sex partners. I had announced that I would boycott the meeting if they were present, but since the Reddy family are welcoming them, then I would cause disturbance by not attending. Yet I have asked that they curb their display of “love-sex-play.” We also planned the observance of Gaura Purnima on March 23rd. Keli-lalita has agreed to do it on a large scale, holding it in the yoga studio. Probably Ravindra Svarupa (if he’s in town) and I will speak. Kirtanas and feast. I will speak on what we have been reading in C.c., “The Advent of Lord Caitanya.” Advaita Acarya, as the leader of Vaisnavas in Navadvipa, lamented that the world was void of Krsna-consciousness. He thought that only if Krsna Himself descended could He save the situation. Advaita Acarya began praying to Krsna using a salagrama-sila with water and tulasi leaves. By His loud cries, Advaita caused the Lord to descend. Caitanya Mahaprabhu first appeared in the mind of His father, Jagannatha Misra, who then transferred the Lord from his mind to the heart and the womb of his wife, Sacidevi. Caitanya Mahaprabhu was not conceived by seminal injection. But the Lord stayed in Saci’s womb for thirteen months without coming out. Jagannatha Misra was apprehensive, and he called for the astrologer Nilambara Cakravarti for an assessment of the situation. The astrologer said Caitanya Mahaprabhu would be born after thirteen months, choosing an auspicious occasion. Lord Caitanya actually appeared during the time of a lunar eclipse, when all the Hindus were chanting Hare Krsna while standing in the Ganges. Heavenly singers sang from the sky, accompanied by musical instruments, and the demigods and their wives came to earth dressed incognito just to see the beautiful golden child and to present Him gifts.
I am pleased to know that Kaulini and her boyfriend will never read the remarks I made about them in my Journal. My situation is similar to Krsnadasa Kaviraja in Caitanya-caritamrta. He states that the pastimes of Lord Caitanya are too confidential for him to write. Yet they are transcendental and very relishable for the devotees. He then reflects that the crow-like nondevotees will not be interested in what he writes about Lord Caitanya. This realization gives him joy, and he goes ahead and writes of the intimate activities of Sri Caitanya Mahaprabhu. The same is true with my disciple in Moscow, Ishana. She can’t read English and has no access to a computer. I wrote her a letter in which I reprimanded her, but I have expressed myself more straightforwardly in this Journal as to how she hurt and disturbed me. She also will not read the Journal.
It is not good to criticize anyone, but Prabhupada said if someone is a thief, it’s not wrong to call him a thief. Prabhupada was tireless in warning us not to follow the impersonalists and voidists (nirvesesa sunyavadi), the atheistic scientists, bogus yogis and swamis, corrupt governments, etc.