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]
The Ratha-yatra in NYC will be held on June 11th, Saturday. It is expected to be a very big festival. Three large ratha carts will parade down Fifth Avenue, and hundreds of devotees from different places will attend. Some devotees from Viraha Bhavan are attending the Ratha-yatra. We have printed up business cards with information about our summer meeting in Stuyvesant Falls, New York, which is scheduled to be held three weeks later on July 2nd. I am not attending the New York Ratha-yatra, and Baladeva and Anuradha dasi are also staying back. I can’t attend because my legs are too weak. I have to ride in a wheelchair, and I can barely walk. I am also vulnerable to get headaches.
Although I could not attend because of my crippled condition, I received an eyewitness report from some devotees who took part. They told me that on Friday night devotees prepared for Ratha-yatra by gathering in Times Square and holding kirtana. They said many, many devotees attended, more than ever before. On Ratha-yatra day there were three tall carts beautifully decorated. A Prabhupada murti rode with Subhadra in the second car, Jagannatha was in the first car, and Balarama in the third car. Devotees were smiling and hugging one another, and there was a very loving mood. They said they felt the presence of Prabhupada strongly, and that we would have loved Ratha-yatra 2022. They said there were no hecklers or negative vibrations from the people in the city. The loving mood of the devotees prevailed. They were emotional and blissful. The people I talked to had never been to a Ratha-yatra before, and they felt it was an extraordinary experience. The parade route went down Fifth Avenue and stopped in Washington Square Park. There Madhuha’s Festival of India was set up with tents, dramas, kirtanas, and much singing and dancing. Many sannyasis were there, and they took part in the energetic dancing and singing. Rama Raya had an outstanding kirtana party in Washington Square Park and there were other kirtaneers also who led in singing the maha-mantra. There was no sign of COVID, and the devotees were uninhibited in their joining together on a very, very blissful day.
H.H. Radhanath Maharaja is going to visit me on Saturday at Viraha Bhavan. We will have a meeting, then we will share lunch together. I met Radhanath Maharaja many times at New Vrndaban in the early years, and we had loving exchanges. I would lecture there and attend the festivals. After he left New Vrndaban, Maharaja continued to meet with me on a yearly basis, and we had intimate exchanges. After my falldown he said to me, “You may no longer be stainless, but you are still much beloved by the devotees in ISKCON.” That statement gave me much solace. When he comes here on Saturday, I’m going to read to him from Prabhupada Nectar, from an interview he gave recalling a 1976 visit that Srila Prabhupada made to the old quarters in New Vrndaban. Prabhupada had lived in that primitive woodland setting for a month in 1968, when it was the entire New Vrndaban.
On the last day of the two swamis’ visit last week, Jayadvaita Maharaja suggested the three of us pose for a group photo before they left. I thought that was a wonderful idea. Kadamba Kanana Maharaja plans to stay in Vrndavana until he passes away, so I won’t see him again. I will keep the picture on my altar. I put my arm around him and the others followed suit and put their arms around me, who was seated in the middle. A disciple of Kadamba Kanana Maharaja drove from New Vrndavana to Viraha Bhavan to take them to the New York City Ratha-yatra. When the disciple saw his guru, he become emotional. Kadamba Kanana Maharaja said to him, “No crying. Happy faces.” It was he who was giving solace to us.
In the book Gargamoney: Serving Srila Prabhupada 1966-1977, we are impressed how Gargamuni was an icon of early ISKCON. He was the first treasurer of the Society, and handled distribution of Back to Godhead magazines, and started the lucrative business Spiritual Sky Incense. He went on to become the president of ISKCON’s world headquarters in Los Angeles. Later, after accepting the renounced order, sannyasa, he followed the instruction of his spiritual master and went on a dangerous mission to preach in Muslim East Pakistan, while his older brother Brahmananda Swami was sent to West Pakistan. When I finish reading Gargamoney, I’ll tell more.
In our out-loud reading we are hearing of the tree of Lord Caitanya:
“The description of Lord Caitanya as the gardener and the tree is inconceivable. Now hear with attention of the branches of the tree. The associates of Lord Caitanya were many, but none of them should be considered lower or higher. This cannot be ascertained. I offer my obeisances to all the dear devotees of Sri Caitanya Mahaprabhu, the eternal tree of love of Godhead. I offer my respects to all the branches of the tree, the devotees of the Lord who distribute the fruits of love of Krsna. . . The two brothers Srivasa Pandita and Sri Rama Pandita started two branches that are well-known in the world.” (Cc. Adi-lila 10.3-4, 10.7-8)
Many names are given, and in the purport Prabhupada mentions that ISKCON is a branch of the Caitanya tree.
Prabhupada informed us that Madhavendra Puri was the first acarya in the line of Madhvacarya who taught the worship of conjugal rasa. This is proved by the fact that at the end of his life Madhavendra Puri wrote a poem that can be understood by only three persons: Srimati Radharani, Madhavendra Puri and Sri Caitanya Mahaprabhu. But I thought it was incomplete that Madhavendra Puri’s Deities were Gopala of Vrndavana and Gopinatha of Remuna—with no Radharani. I wrote a letter to Daivisakti devi dasi and asked her when was Radharani Deity worship introduced? She wrote back and gave me some information from Bhakti-ratnakara regarding Jahnava devi and the son of Prataparudra Maharaja, Purusottama Jana.
“After Srimati Jahnava Mata had a Deity of Radharani made and sent to Vrndavana for Lord Gopinatha, Purusottama Jana sent two Deities of Radharani to Vrndavana, one for Madana Mohan and one for Govindaji. When the Deities arrived in Vrndavana by boat, they were brought to Madana Mohan Mandir, which was on the banks of the Yamuna. That night the pujari of Madana Mohan had a dream in which Madana Mohan told him, ‘You are all thinking that these two Deities are Radharani, but actually the smaller one is Radharani, and the bigger one is Lalita, so you should put Radharani on My left side and Lalita on My right side.’ In this way, Madana Mohan appropriated both these Deities and Govindaji remained alone. When word was sent back to Purusottama Jana in Puri, he was perplexed. That night, however, he had a dream in which Radharani told him, ‘I am here within the temple of Lord Jagannatha. Everyone thinks that I am Lakki Devi, but actually I’m not. I used to live in Vraja, from where one brahmana brought Me to this house at Sri Radhanagar here in Orissa. His name was Brhadbanu, and he was very affectionate to Me, as though he was My father and I his daughter. But when he passed away, I was brought to Lord Jagannatha’s temple by the king. Anyway, now you should send Me to Vrndavana to be with Govinda.’ When he awoke from this dream, Purusottama Jana was very astonished. He immediately prepared a retinue to accompany Srimati Radharani to Vrndavana. When She arrived in Vrndavana and stood by the side of Govinda, the bliss of the inhabitants of Vrndavana knew no bounds.”
Daivisakti dasi wrote me that when she found the entire written history of how the Deities of Srimati Radharani were installed she would send it to me. But now at least I know how the Deities of Radharani were first installed.
I plan to talk about the books I wrote about Prabhupada, which we have reprinted this year and which will be available—half of them by July 2nd, and the others by Vyasa-puja in early December. The books will be sold at half cost but sold only as sets for everyone’s library. We are already storing books, and space is limited. So we don’t want to store more. We’re encouraging devotees to buy the whole sets that are available. They are all beautiful in their new, reprinted editions.
Kanu and Meera (boy and girl) are two young children, part of the extended family of Sankhlas. They are approximately ten years old. They write me every week with super-enthusiastic, “over-the-moon” affection. They address me with hyperboles, exaggerated, excessive terms of praise (Your Majesty, Your Excellency, etc.). They began their last letter, “We love you. You brighten up our lives, just as how the sun brightens up the earth. You are the best gift we ever received in life, and it is because of you that we want to work hard and move forward in spreading Krsna consciousness in our lifetime.” They don’t forget to say, “All glories to Srila Prabhupada!” They have great enthusiasm to distribute Prabhupada’s books. With each letter they send me they include a photo of Kanu posing with a “sweet” person they met while distributing books. The person is always posed holding a Bhagavad-gita, and sometimes a set of japa beads. As children they are received as harmless by the people they meet, and they’re able to talk about Krsna consciousness to them in a way the people are not put off. Every week I get a letter with Kanu posing (his sister Meera probably takes the picture) with a person they met and distributed a book to. They signed off their last letter, “Begging to remain forever in your divine service, Kanu and Meera.” I say all glories to Kanu and Meera, and may they always remain so pure and enthusiastic in Krsna consciousness as they grow up.
Each week a new foreign element attacks the beautiful roses in our garden. Recently it was white flies, who ate holes in the leaves, then it was caterpillars who chewed at the blossoms. Just now it’s black fungus spots on the leaves. All these attacks weaken the plants, and we might not get such a big crop in September. Baladeva goes out every evening, and he treats the roses with an organic spray. He uses two different sprays. But the aliens are unremitting. Still, we harvest some roses every morning and place them on the altar of Radha-Govinda, along with flowers from the marigold patch, which is very hardy and doesn’t come under attack by anything. And the marigolds last through late fall, until the heavy killing frost arrives. We also pick assorted wildflowers, put them in bud vases, and place them beside the altar. Whenever Jayadvaita Maharaja visits, he always goes out by himself and prefers to pick the wildflowers to our cultivated flowers for worship of his Krsna-Balarama Govardhana silas.
In the evening Baladeva sprayed the roses against fungus, which makes black spots on the leaves and weakens the plant. He also mowed the lawn. He found a dead chipmunk in a bucket of water and placed him under a bush. But in the morning he discovered the chipmunk was eaten, confirming the Bhagavatam saying that “one living entity is food for another.”
The July 2 festival preparations are winding up. Krsna dasi spends hours on the phone inviting guests. She’s trying to get an estimate of how many people will come so we can purchase bhoga accordingly. She’s also phoning the people who in previous years worked with her deceased husband Baladeva and asking them to come and render the same service that they did in past years.
I heard you talk this morning while I
shaved my face and bathed and
yes, as I sat on the toilet.
You said that we need milk
to understand God. Not too much,
a pound or half a pound a day.
Milk gives us the brain to understand
transmigration of the soul.
Krsna is very fond of the cows, as in His picture in the temple.
He is the patron of brahmanas and cows.
I rewound the tape and took it out to play
for Madhu, because I want him to give me
milk every day and fear he may have some
prejudice against it.
He heard Prabhupada’s words
and we agreed.
I said some people speak against milk
purchased from stores. They say it’s supporting
cow slaughter. But Prabhupada took it.
He wanted people to drink milk and then
when they were convinced it was good
they’d stop killing cows.
He said, “Take her blood as milk but don’t kill her.”
“Just that one reason is enough,” said Madhu,
“Prabhupada did it.”
Yes, that one word.
Will the world come to accept him widely?
Will we see it in our lifetime?
They say the Centennial will help
but maybe it’s too early.
ISKCON has to get itself together first
before we can hope to unite the world.
Let’s appreciate everyone’s efforts for Prabhupada,
at least appreciate Satsvarupa
and give him a cup of hot milk daily.
Prabhupada took it—at night with sugar.
I served him milk in a silver cup.
He will always be dear to Krsna
and to intelligent people on this earth.
As Caitanya-caritamrta says,
only those who are intelligent
can practice Krsna consciousness. And
they will love Srila Prabhupada.
They have written their non-Prabhupada poems
by the hundreds and thousands.
Now it’s time we spoke out.
Tell them how nice he looks when he smiles,
show them a photo of him on the roof in Bombay.
But they won’t appreciate, most people.
Then start with myself. I worship him within, as I close my eyes,
he’s the same Prabhupada as in the photo but . . .
I’m praying that he retain me.
It’s good to have his photos in frames
on the walls. In this room
where I’m a guest, I looked up yesterday
while laughing at one of my jokes,
then I saw him
with his palms joined, in a mood
different than mine.
It calmed me down, it tested me.
Prabhupada in the picture, Prabhupada within,
as the life-sized murti, as his disciples . . .
He was born a hundred years ago.
He is a youthful, spiritual person.
He’s moving blissfully in Krsna’s service.
As mysterious as Krsna is to us,
so is His pure devotee . . .
And one time he said . . .”
I remember one time in Boston,
Hamsaduta said to Prabhupada,
‘Whatever I have is yours.’
And Srila Prabhupada replied, ‘That I know.’
They were referring to bead bags
but it also refers to the life
a disciple gives to his guru
and the guru expects it.
The guru is surrendered to the Lord
and to his own guru.
We are expected to do nothing less.
Prabhupada was saying, in effect,
‘What’s mine is yours and what’s yours is mine,
that I know.
But what else shall you do for Krsna?’
Always asking more,
so that we can be delighted as he is
in pleasing Krsna’s senses.
How to do it?
He says we should work
for the benefit of others.
Whatever you have received from him
you should try to give it to others.
That is what Prabhupada is about—love for Krsna
and compassion for all souls.
Give them Krsna consciousness.
At least try to think of ways to do it
and give it to some,
at least some.
Police crimes, war crimes, rebels’ crimes,
Prabhupada sees through them all.
Everyone is in ignorance.
‘These things will go their own way.’
Maya is punishing them,
you can’t interfere.
But you can work to save them.
It’s like the whole population is crushed
under houses in an earthquake
or buried half alive in a collapsed coal mine.
He sees this all the time, whereas others see
boys and girls enjoying in a town square,
or a businessman eating a steak on the airplane.
death camps in the suburbs and skyscrapers,
ignorance in all books.
No wonder he looks grave
and his mouth corners turn down.
But he is happy and generous.
He drives his aging body to travel
to spread Krsna consciousness although it’s not easy.
He did the most signficant act of anyone
in the 20th century and
the world has yet to recognize it.”
Prabhupada wishes me well in any honest
venture to be Krsna conscious.
I say ‘preach’ and ‘spread Krsna consciousness’ many times!
I get sick of it inside when
I say it only because I am supposed to.
But I actually want to preach.
My spiritual master writes,
‘Spread Krsna consciousness’ in his books and when he says it
it doesn’t rub me the wrong way.
He explains why
a compassionate person wants to help others.
If you see someone about to fall off a roof,
you call out to them even if
they become annoyed that you stopped their fun.
Prabhupada did it and said,
‘Do as I am doing.’
It’s the best way to worship.
Krsna did it Himself in the form
of Lord Caitanya, traveled six years continually
distributing fruits of love of Godhead.
He said, ‘How many arms do I have to
give out all these fruits? Come, please
help Me taste them and give them away.’
In any photo of Prabhupada, he is actually
preaching. At a festival in
Balboa Park, on a chair in a householder’s
flat in Calcutta,
in someone’s business office,
sitting outdoors beside a Citroen
eating lunch on a cardboard box
en route to go see an old castle for sale—
he is always preaching and worshiping
in this world and the next.
Want to be with him?
Take up his order, tell whomever you meet
please chant Hare Krsna,
Lord Krsna is the Supreme
Personality of Godhead.”
Just say, ‘I am your devotee
and I like the way you rule.
I surrender to you and your
teachings. I admire disciples of yours who have
deep attachment for you. When I see it—
and it’s not always easy to detect because
some show off devotion—
I’m very attached to it.
I want to come close to it.
I want it for myself.’
Go on reciting his twenty-six qualities,
how he invited you to participate in 1966 kirtanas.
Tell of the collection basket in which he
collected about $6 an evening and how
you sat with him one night and counted it and
he said, ‘This is Laksmi-devi’ and
placed his head to the basket.
And you sat up late in his room typing
while he ate his night snack of puffed rice.
You escorted him to Chambers Street
to see the immigration lawyer.
He gave you the courage to instantly give up
grass (marijuana) as soon as you met him.
He sent you to Boston with a rub on your back,
he hauled you in, reeled you in
again and again. He let you write poems even
back then and said they were good.
You made foolish arguments
on behalf of the materialists to fuel
his arguments on morning walks.
He accepted your company.
He has left you his purports and you are studying them.
He has left you a great challenge—
to live every moment in dedication to Krsna.
You misunderstood, failed to appreciate
but it’s not too late.
Here he is again, with the Lord in your heart
Prabhupada and Krsna
‘Satsvarupa—you are Satsvarupa dasa—
come on, do it right.
Don’t get left behind.’”
“I read Narottama dasa Thakura’s Prarthana and how he laments that he’s such a wretch and he has no devotion and so on. But he alternates these songs with songs of desiring to have a female body and be a sakhi in Goloka Vrndavana and serve Radha and Krsna. He is an extreme, unique example. I can’t imitate him. But I thrill to read his songs. As for myself, I feel peaceful living in Viraha Bhavan with Radha-Govinda and my associates, my caretakers, and the little community supported by Saci Suta. I’m in touch with faithful disciples, and some of them are trying to print my books. I wish there was more activity of reprinting my books, but it goes slowly. I have a legacy proposal that I want to see my books in print again. I made some ambitious specific proposals for reprinting my books and placing them in institutions, but my disciples could not follow up on it. I made that proposal a few years ago at my Vyasa-puja speech. Now one person, Nitai, in India, is completely overworked in his garment factory business, but he is trying in the little time he has to reprint my books in India. He has reprinted two books, and another one is underway. He is my hope. And in Russia it is encouraging with Ishana and Alexi getting my books translated and distributing them at festivals. I have many books printed electronically on Kindle and Sony. My books are available on Amazon. Over 7,000 people say they like my website on Facebook. I would like to see acceleration in the reprinting, but it’s not happening. I will continue to encourage Nitai and anyone who wants to come forward and help. I hope it will go on even after I pass away.”
[SDG Comment: “Now, in 2022, it is happening.”]
“ . . . He has turned the verse into a personal prayer. Let us remember the Upadesamrta text in this way. We sometimes quote it as evidence of who is qualified to be a spiritual master Or we assert, ‘I am following the rules. I control these urges. So consider me as a gosvami.’ But we cannot ultimately control ourselves; we can only endeavor and pray, because our minds, tongues, bellies, and genitals are banded together against us. Our tongue speaks nonsense. Please, Lord of the poor, give us Your shelter.
“Similarly, Bhaktivinoda Thakura takes the statement of items which are unfavorable for devotional service and he turns it into his personal prayer. ‘I have not been able to give up any of these attachments. Thus my own faults have been my downfall.’ It is nice to study these faults from an objective distance: ‘One should avoid these.’ But it is also powerful to come close to them and openly admit: ‘I have these and they are spoiling my life. I want release from them.’ The list of entanglements comes alive and we confess. We have been giving a lecture on unfavorable items to one’s execution of service. Now we admit our own wrongs: ‘O Lord Hari, what am I to do now? I am indeed fallen, but Your holy name is the savior of the fallen. Clinging to that holy name, I have taken shelter at Your lotus feet.’ (Saranagati , 7.2.3-4)
“Wait a minute, why so freely say that you are guilty? Who has proved you wrong? Do you actually commit atyahara prayasas ca, prajalpo niyamagrahah jana-sangas ca laulyam ca? Yes, sometimes greedy, sometimes eating more than necessary and collecting more funds than necessary. I definitely practice the rules only for the sake of following them. These items are not only a list of what the fools and nondevotees do. Srila Prabhupada writes, ‘Every intelligent man should purify his conciousness and rid himself of the above-mentioned six hindrances to devotional service by taking wholehearted shelter of this Krsna consciousness movement.’ (NOI, text 2, purport)
“ISKCON can shelter us. So you—I mean I—are we taking shelter?”
“A term from the world of psychoanalysis:
“‘1. The technique of having the patient talk spontaneously, expressing without inhibition whatever ideas, memories, etc., come to mind: used to discover and make available for analysis repressed material in the unconscious.
“‘2. Any process of mental association in which spontaneous or nonlogical linking takes place.’
“Sometimes we think Krsna consciousness is all logical and that there’s no room for nonlogical thinking, but this isn’t true. Nonlogical doesn’t mean to think against logic. Rather, it means you don’t take the care to ensure that one thought follows logically from another.
“Can we use this freedom of thought in Krsna consciousness? Isn’t Krsna consciousness supposed to be sober? Isn’t Krsna consciousness pure parampara? Free association comes from psychoanalysis. But I don’t think that psychoanalysis has a copyright on free association. Just because psychoanalysis discovered free association as an innovative technique in therapy doesn’t mean that they invented it or that it has its source there.
“For example, pure devotees use free association in a pure and ultimate sense when each remembrance of Krsna sparks remembrance of a different pastime. It’s not that the pastimes appear sequentially in their minds, but their remembrance flows from their emotions of love. They experience more than a logical enumeration of Krsna’s glories; they think nonlogically. We see it as a symptom of their ecstasy.
“We may not be experiencing such ecstasy, but it doesn’t hurt us to step out of the realm of logical, sequential thinking from time to time. We have gone over the philosophy logically so many times.
“After awhile, our remembrance becomes mechanical and even superficial, and we may even ignore things in ourselves that are better to face and to banish. Mechanical practices give rise to doubts. What do we do with those doubts? We can’t intellectualize them because they are feelings. We worry that looking at them openly may not be proper. That repression may even be due to a misunderstanding on our parts, that we have something nice to offer to Krsna, but we don’t offer it because we are afraid it will be laughed at. I’m not talking about sankirtana scores or a well-cooked offering; I’m talking about ourselves.
“If we become accustomed to repressing such things, we will lose touch with them, although they will continue to affect us. Doing some free association can help free us from the prison we create around ourselves out of fear. I described in my essay ‘Churning the Milk Ocean’ that when we start to free-write, different things are churned out. Some of them are offerable to Krsna and some of them are not. When the milk ocean was churned, a variety of things came out—Laksmi-devi and a deadly poison. If we are willing to churn, we will churn the bad things out and claim the good things for Krsna’s service.
“This Spiritualized Dictionary is itself a product of free association. The more that we can allow whatever is going through our minds to make rich, Krsna conscious associations, the more spontaneous we will become in our expression of feeling in spiritual life.”
“Prabhupada taught about death especially in 1977. He showed how a Vaisnava lives and dies in ideal conditions. He never stopped preaching and translating, saying that it was better to die on the battlefield like a warrior than to retire. He traveled to London in 1977 when he said he was just a ‘bundle of bones,’ and planned to go to New York and Gita-nagari. But his health took a turn for the worse, and he returned to Vrndavana. As his books were being produced in different languages, Prabhupada said he was gaining life. But at other times, he stressed that it did not matter whether he stayed or left; he would continue serving Krsna in any condition, like the threshing machine whose only business is to thresh wheat no matter whether it is in heaven or hell. Prabhupada said, ‘What is the problem? We are talking about Krsna, so if all of a sudden I collapse, then what is the problem? Krsna tvadiya-pada- pankaja. Ordinary dying is kapha-vata-pitta, choking. But if in the kirtana you die, oh, it is successful. Not the injection and operation—that atmosphere. But in krsna-kirtana, that is glorious. Not oxygen, gas. Dying and so much trouble. Chant Hare Krsna and let me die. Krsna. Never be disturbed. Chant Hare Krsna.’
“Prabhupada also taught ideal behavior by going to Vrndavana during his last days. Prabhupada was in Vrndavana consciousness no matter where he traveled, but still he set the example for his followers that if possible, they should die in Vrndavana. Anyone who executes service in Vrndavana goes back to Godhead at the time of death.
“While in Vrndavana, he surrounded himself with kirtana. His life had been dedicated to spreading the glories of the holy name, and at the end of his sojourn on earth he wanted only to hear that kirtana of the holy names. This was the mood of Maharaja Pariksit: ‘Let the snake bird—or whatever magical thing the brahmana created—bite me at once. I only desire that you all continue singing the deeds of Lord Visnu.’”
August 8, 1:05 AM
“We’re at a P-stop. I have my earplugs in after reading Bhagavad-gitd,. In my reading, Krsna is beginning to describe a few of His splendorous manifestations in the world, as a common man can experience them. Arjuna says he never tires of hearing this nectar. Srila Prabhupada says a superior devotee not only wants to hear about Krsna Himself, but wants all humankind to hear and accept Lord Krsna as the Supreme Personality of Godhead.
“I was thinking of editions of the Bhagavad-gita, to facilitate travel—size and clarity of print, and so on. Thinking of reading habits, ways to take the nectar. A little pocket book might be nice of just the Sanskrit and English, a small one similar to those Shambala Pocket Editions. Then thinking about which Bhagavad-gita As It Is I should carry to India. The deluxe is the best (even though the paper is thin), but is it too heavy to carry around? These are nice, external considerations. The internal is to actually taste the nectar. Srila Prabhupada asserts that transcendental reading remains fresh despite repeated readings. This I want. You can’t know all about Krsna, but you always relish hearing about Him. This is more important and more fun than discussing what’s wrong with ISKCON. We may have a responsibility to discuss what’s wrong and seek a remedy for institutional ills, but that doesn’t exclude the importance of continuing to relish Krsna’s statements in Bhagavad-gita and the krsna-katha of Bhagavatam. I know my Godbrother knows this, but I am writing it to remind myself.
“Write as well as read. I am meant for this. One Godbrother said that he doesn’t have writer’s ‘karma,’ the drive to write. Do I have it? A little, and I expand on it, use it. I didn’t feel much like writing just now, but I have begun anyway. I can develop it, but it’s likely that many practical people cannot see the usefulness of it. They will write if they think it can be something ‘nuts and bolts,’ something that accomplishes a purpose. Then they try to control it and make it come out right. They don’t feel the joy of ink coming onto a page.”
“I have been hearing from devotees in Vrndavana,
that unless I go there I can’t feel anything.
‘You have to get the mercy directly.
The dirt in any room in Vrndavana
is conscious, not like dirt in the West.
One grain can fulfill all your desires.’
But aren’t Lalita and Visakha
Their most intimate friends?
Isn’t Radha’s smile right here?
Can’t I come to Vraja with Damodara?
If it’s easier for people like me
to walk through autumn leaves in boots,
if we like to eat prasadam with brown swiss ghee
and if we feel comfortable here,
is that to be held against us?
I’ll go to India, but I’m just saying
Krsna is here.”
“Baldwin writes about the inner child. She wants to record memories of childhood and create dialogue between the adult self and the inner child. I was short and skinny, never physically strong. My father was away in World War II when I was two years old until five years old. My mother was lonely and took care of us. I was ‘little Stevie.’ My aunt Mary teased me and called me ‘lover boy.’ I was shy. I see a photograph of me and my sister Madeline, two years older then I. I am a very little boy with straight blond hair and a sweet smile. I suck my thumb. My mother wrote it into her baby book: ‘He is a thumb sucker,’ and I chewed my fingernails even when I was in my 20s. Why did I do it? Was I so afraid or insecure? Poor little Stevie, he was afraid of dogs until Uncle Sal gave him a puppy, Mickey, who lived 14 years. I was afraid of rough older kids. When I walked on the street, I was relieved if the guy approaching me was with a girl, then he’d be less likely to attack me. But I don’t remember being beat up by bullies. Maybe I was. I was a coward. I’d back down from a fight. I don’t remember being breast-fed, maybe I wasn’t. I don’t remember being coddled.
“‘What do you want, inner child?’
“‘I want to be protected by my father. He’s a strong man.’
“‘Didn’t he always protect you?’
“‘Yes, he did. But when I was a teenager I didn’t want his protection anymore. He became overbearing.’
“‘Did you have a happy childhood?’
“‘Yes, I did. My parents didn’t fight, and they didn’t beat us except occasional spankings. I received plenty of toys and time to play. I did all right in the lower grades except I had a tendency to hang out with the troublemakers, not the good boys. This continued in high school, and as a result, I got low grades and couldn’t get into the college of my choice. I wanted to be accepted by the rebels up to that point.’”
“After ten or twenty minutes with the prayerful reading, I am running out of my allotted time. So I move on to another series of talking to my Lords. I pray for what I consider my own needs and the needs of others. I think of the devotees closest to me and then widen out to others. If I become doubtful that my prayers have any power, I remind myself of Prabhupada’s statement, ‘But one thing you must know—that any prayers you offer to your Spiritual Master . . . are conveyed to Krsna, so no sincere prayers go in vain.’ And I reason to myself, ‘If I can pray for my own needs, why not in the same way implore to the Lord to fulfill the needs of other devotees? Whatever I want for myself, to draw me to Krsna, I pray for that also for other spirit souls.’ Rather than indulge in my faultfinding tendency, this prayer enables me to think of devotees’ weaknesses in a positive way—praying that they can pull through their difficulties, by Krsna’s grace.
“Then I do another round of thanks. I remember to be grateful even for material things. I find that my life is filled with many blessings and I shouldn’t think that they’ve come about by chance or by my own doing. I try to become aware also that my present peace and comfort could be immediately torn away, and I pray that when and if that happens I will continue to be grateful to Krsna and seek out the essence of existence—prayerful service to Him and His pure devotee.
“I end the session with some resolutions to be Krsna conscious in the coming day. Then, if I have time, I stop to read a verse of Siksastakam before I begin my day’s japa. I think, ‘Now the real praying should begin in earnest. Please let me chant with attention.’”
“He arrived at the hospital in Honolulu just as the survivors came in. They had been sailing on a ship, the Hornet, when it caught fire and sank somewhere in the Pacific. The Captain Josiah Mitchell managed to salvage only ten days’ rations of food. They lived in a longboat and sailed four thousand miles in forty-three days. They caught a few fish and birds, but literally starved for most of the forty days on the high seas. They all survived. Diaries were kept, and Twain quotes from them. He gives most credit to the captain, who kept discipline in rationing out the food and kept the men’s spirits up with his fortitude. Twain says the diaries are ‘literary gold,’ how they speak of the misery of being lost and soaked in storms and confined in the space of the boat, and how they all end with a burst of joy ‘Land in sight! Merciful God!’
“Prabhupada is the captain of the Hare Krsna ISKCON boat. We somehow jumped out of the burning ship of material life and came under his command on the lifeboat. He tightened our belts and rationed out the food. Sometimes some survivors complained a little, but everyone who remains in his lifeboat manages to survive the storms and doldrums and equatorial heat blasts. Captain Mitchell in the head longboat was towing two leaky boats with survivors in them, but at one point he had to cut them off, and each boat had to go on its own. The two leaky boats were never heard from again. You have to stay on Prabhupada’s boat, if you are lucky enough, in order to survive. He inspired the men to go on rowing, and he kept discipline and some kind of survivor’s hope. Only because he was there to lead them could they stay alive and keep surviving. Finally one day they saw, for the first time, a rainbow in the sky. ‘It is a good prophesy!’ the Captain said. And as they passed under the arch of many colors, they saw land ahead and they all wrote it down in their diaries. Two men swam out to the longboat and maneuvered it to the land, where there were two white men living and many natives, who all treated the survivors kindly and fed them and gave them tea and let them rest. At first the survivors couldn’t sleep—they had delusions that they were back in the boat. But gradually they recovered.
“Similarly, Prabhupada is taking us to a paradise island named Krsnaloka where the natives will treat us kindly and introduce us to their blissful abode and their lovable association. Times may seem desperate in the longboat at sea while we are still waiting to be saved, but we should just trust in the care of our spiritual master, and we will survive and reach the Pure Land.”
“Now I am awake, thinking of our reunion with the Prabhupada murti, which begins today. He is supposed to come over at mid-morning to the cabin. My thoughts of him occur to me as a follow-up to the dream. I’m thinking how we should wash the altar area and somehow make nice preparations for receiving him. I will also give Baladeva some money, and he should start meditation how to arrange for a traveling suitcase and paraphernalia so that we can actually execute the difficult yajna of carrying this twelve-inch deity.
“It’s been many months since I sang to him samsara davanala. There will be full arati paraphernalia on hand. Prabhupada and Lord Jagannatha will share the shrine. We will have a kirtana, and I’ll speak. I want to remind us servants not to lose enthusiasm, remind us that Srila Prabhupada is our dearmost friend and preceptor, and so we should worship and protect him. We should know beforehand that this regular worship will also be sometimes difficult. For example, what if I’m called on an emergency trip to South America or Europe for a few days and I have to share a room with a Godbrother, and I can’t afford to take an extra servant? What if they refuse to let us take Prabhupada in a plane cabin but say he has to go with the luggage? So many contingencies might occur. But we are deciding beforehand that it will be worth it. The main resolve is not to neglect him, and this will test our utsaha, so we pray for that. I have to lead the way, not simply tell my disciples to do it for me.”
“I discovered yesterday that I am a writer of pieces. Don’t worry how the pieces will connect. Trust that they will, especially if you write often and deeply. Don’t worry about how this practice of ‘piece writing’ will be published pieces. Trust that if you write some ‘hot’ ones (and you will) they can be juxtaposed for a collection. Or some books of pieces can be published just as they are.
“This discovery is a closer look at what I’m doing, seeing it on the focus of the basic element. I work in this genre, and I ought to accept myself as a writer of pieces. They run in length from one to five (or sometimes nine) pages and then stop. I rest and breathe and break in between pieces, and the reader may do so also.”
“How can we please Srila Prabhupada? To answer this important question, we will first refer to Srila Prabhupada as the representative of a tradition, as the bona fide spiritual master in parampara.
The siddhanta of pleasing the spiritual master in disciplic succession is stressed in the Vedas and especially in the Vaisnava sampradayas more than in any other religious tradition. Lord Krsna told Arjuna, ‘Those who are directly My devotees are actually not My devotees. But those who are devotees of My servants are factually My devotees.’ Lord Krsna Himself exemplified the principle of pleasing the spiritual master in His own relationship with Sandipani Muni. Both Krsna and Sudama had worked hard to please their guru by willingly sacrificing their own personal comfort in order to carry out the instructions of Sandipani Muni. Krsna said to Sudama, ‘Both of us can realize that without the blessings of the spiritual master, no one can be happy. By the mercy of the spiritual master and by his blessings, one can achieve peace and prosperity and be able to fulfill the mission of human life.’ Sandipani Muni blessed them that all their desires and ambitions would be fulfilled.
“Another example of receiving the power of Krsna through the spiritual master is the case of Bali Maharaja. Bali Maharaja satisfied his spiritual master and therefore became strong enough to drive the demigods from the heavenly planets. Srila Prabhupada comments that by the pleasure of the spiritual master, ‘One can get extraordinary power, especially in spiritual advancement.’ The blessings of the spiritual master are more potent than our own endeavors to advance spiritually. The parampara system endows an individual with the original power coming down from the Supreme Personality of Godhead.”
“I’m not camped in a war zone. My place is more behind the scenes. It is conducive to finding freedom and surrender. It’s a good place to get work done without being disturbed. A few friends are waiting for my written report.
“Who am I? That is my question. What is this experience of being a devotee? I am trying to be receptive here.
“Bhaktivinoda Thakura prays that the urgency of his self-surrender not be a temporary mood. He doesn’t want it to be like the ‘momentary cleanliness of an elephant after his bath.’ (Saranagati 2.6.7).
“‘Of whom will I take shelter except for You? O son of the King of Vraja, You are the Lord of all lords. . . . You alone are the shelter of those who have gone astray. Apart from You, what else exists, O merciful Lord? Those like me who have offended You will know no peace until achieving Your shelter.’ (Saranagati , 2.7.4, 6, 7)
“ That’s me, the straying soul, the one seeking Krsna’s shelter, seeking substance for constant bhajana, looking for where I can enter. Quality means we cannot stop.
“I am the straying soul, but I am sitting under this tree contending with my body, trying to keep it clean, running, maintained. My Sheaffer pen can’t invent new concerns. My brain also goes in its loops. It’s time to admit I am exhausted and penniless. I don’t want to sin or waste time. I want to worship Krsna.
So I look to the Panca-tattva, led by Lord Caitanya with His hands free and blissful above His head. Dance! Chant!
“Do You see me? Dear Lord, I did not know You before I met Srila Prabhupada. Sad and foolish as I may look now, I’m peaceful, safe, and grateful. I am trying to dance for You out of my own desire.”
All blue, you were in the
rain? Come in by the fire,
I’m listening to this for you.
He said his voice was as best
he could make it, considering a
certain sadness, don’t
besmirch my findings, I had
to record your pulse and found
you were going heavenly for
an old man just a little
longer reprieve you are given.
Now, choir of sparrows,
of angels, of devotees.
Rain-soaked autumn trees
with rough leaves.
In exile from Vrindavan
calling out, ‘I can’t be there—
Then take it from the book what
Lord Krsna does in His play –
He’s fully immersed in it,
no ‘crocodile tears’
but actually afraid of Mother
No pretense from me either
Krsna consciousness on a fence
free words, freely given
in responsibility response
Guru says, ‘Walk the path, my
disciplined one.’ ‘Yes, but only
if I choose to,’ says the cela.
He knows the scales and
chords, he knows the heart
and quest, query—ask forgiveness
a joint response
eye attracted for my beloved
belly laugh, down to their blues
and tennis socks.
This world stuff I get
across to you—
on dying days switch over
to Raghunatha or
before say Tungavidya
Suta, sruti, now
let’s hear some smart piano
boys, give us a choir from
Sri Krsna. As my master says, if you
want to work, do it night and day
for Krsna. Or, if your father is
rich, and you don’t have to work,
just eat, okay, but offer it
to Lord Krsna
He will leave you prasadam to
thus, freely delivered.
I’m too tired to meditate
or pray. It’s that
time of day
close my eyes and I’ll be
gone within five minutes. Dreams
rush and roar into a
I’m bound to wake in
fifteen minutes, staring at the red
digital clock. 2:00 P.M.
then, get up, get up and answer
the call to paint
like the call of popcorn
to the popcorn maker.
Keep your eyes on the
target and paint in the uniform I’d advise
to harmonize Prabhupada.
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.