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 firstname.lastname@example.org
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]
I used to meet with him many times, in the old days when he lived in the old farmhouse in the woods of New Vrndavana. I’m going to read to him from Prabhupada Nectar an interview he gave about a time Prabhupada visited New Vrndavana when Radhanath Maharaja was the pujari at the old original temple in New Vrndavana. The devotees had planned to turn on the Govindam song, timed exactly to when Prabhupada walked into the temple. But the devotees got delayed, and when Prabhupada walked into the temple he was alone with Radhanath standing there. Belatedly Radhanath pushed a button and the Govindam song came on with Yamunadevi leading the chorus. Prabhupada made his obeisances and walked to the rear of the temple, sat on the rustic vyasasana and sublimely began to give the Srimad-Bhagavatam class. By then many devotees had gathered. This is a precious memory for Radhanath Maharaja because he wanted Prabhupada to see the Radha-Vrindaban Chandra Deities.
Radhanath Maharaja was the one who said to me when I had my falldown, “You may not be stainless, but you are well-beloved by all the devotees in ISKCON.” That gave me much solace. Maharaja and I are good friends.
We told Radhanath Maharaja by phone that there is a devotee in our ashram who has contracted COVID, and she has symptoms of a cough, sore throat and tiredness. There are two other devotees here who were close to that devotee but have no symptoms. We left it up to Maharaja whether he thought he should come or not. He decided to come. We don’t want him to be exposed to any illness, but we are touched that he’s coming, even though the devotees here have been exposed. They were exposed on Monday, but are testing negative every day.
Radhanath Swami visited me today for four hours. First we talked upstairs in my room, just the two of us. After I read him his Prabhupada Nectar interview he was very pleased, but then he told me an extended story about the occasion I read. He said there were many devotees there because Prabhupada was visiting, and he gave a class and guru puja. As in other temples, Radhanath wanted Prabhupada to give out cookies during his guru puja. He had asked a devotee at the main temple far away to make the cookies and bring them down to the old temple. But the devotee forgot to bring them, and they were there with no cookies. Radhanath panicked. Then he decided to give Prabhupada the silver plate with the maha-prasadam on it that had been offered to the Radha-Krsna Deities the day before. He asked the temple president if he could do so, but he was told no, Prabhupada gives away cookies. Then Radhanath went to the other side of the temple and asked another devotee for permission to give the plate to Prabhupada for giving out. But again he was refused permission. Next, without permission he went himself up to Prabhupada, and, with effort, held the silver plate up to Prabhupada and offered that he give out the prasadam to the crowded-in devotees, who were chanting and dancing. Prabhupada at first looked quizzically at the plate full of varieties of prasadam, but then he decided to accept it. He took a bowl of sweet rice with a little spoon, took a spoonful for himself and then gave out the remaining sweet rice to the devotees who were gathered in close. He then proceeded to give out two big gulabjamons. The first gulabjamon he chewed into exploded, and sugar water sprayed outward, hitting all the devotees nearby. Prabhupada bit into it and then gave the rest to a devotee. He seemed to be enjoying himself very much. He took the second gulabjamon, bit into it, and again it exploded, drenching the nearby devotees with sugar water. Preparation by preparation, he gave out sabjis, puris, etc. As he gave out each preparation and the bowl was empty, he then gave the bowl itself to one of the ecstatic devotees. Radhanath was aghast at this because the only valuable things at the old temple were the paraphernalia of the Deities on these silver trays. Prabhupada proceeded to give them all away! He was smiling and enjoying himself, and all the devotees were tasting great bliss. When it was over Radhanath was happy, but he was also sad that he had lost all the Deity paraphernalia. He went up to the temple president and asked him if he would make an announcement to the devotees to please return the Radha-Krsna Deity paraphernalia. While the devotees were sitting under a tree eating prasadam after Prabhupada had left, the T.P. made the announcement. Obediently, all the devotees returned the Deities’ cups and tray, and Radhanath was happy to get them back and give them to Radha-Krsna.
We served Radhanath Swami Baladeva’s “Sunday Brunch” menu. It consists of waffles with maple syrup, scrambled tofu with turmeric and peas, and home-fried potatoes. Radhanath Swami was very impressed by the homemade fries. He said they were “burnt but not burnt, and crisp but soft inside.” He really liked them and took seconds (and maybe even thirds!). He had two and a half waffles. I asked him about the progress of the Ecovillage in Mumbai. He said they have 100 acres, and the project is mostly complete. They have constructed models of the seven main temples in Vrndavana and other Vrndavana sites like Govardhana Hill and the River Yamuna. The Madana Mohan temple is almost full-size, a replica of the original Madana Mohan temple in Bhauma Vrndavana. He said they have also developed a school on the property and teaching facilities for the villagers, free education in trades, including even welding and computers, so that the villagers could get jobs. He said they have access to another 50 acres attached to the original 100, and they are going to develop that also. The remaining acreages will be dedicated to education. Because of the free educational facilities the Ecovillage is offering and the wonderful reproduction of Vrndavana monuments, the Ecovillage has become a modern day pilgrimage site. On the weekend thousands of villagers come there, and every day hundreds of people visit the holy site.
I asked Radhanath Maharaja if he was writing a new book. He promptly replied that it was already underway. They are gathering the lectures he gave on parikrama at holy places in Vrndavana and elsewhere. Thousands of devotees used to attend those parikramas, and the devotees had to be qualified before they could attend. They had to be chanting sixteen rounds for a number of years and following the regulative principles. They had to be recommended by their superiors. With so many people attending, it was sometimes inconvenient, but in this book form one can be alone with Maharaja and swim in the nectar of his storytelling at each place he visits in the dhamas.
Radhanath Swami told us the story of Bhaktisiddhanta at Ultadanga Road. This year is the one hundredth anniversary of the time that our Srila Prabhupada first met his spiritual master on the roof at Ultadanga Road, where his guru immediately told him, “You’re an educated young man. You should turn yourself into an English preacher and go to the Western countries.” Bhaktisiddhanta Sarasvati lived at Ultadanga as a sannyasi for ten years after his prolonged chanting of japa in Mayapur. The devotees built a beautiful marble mandir in Calcutta. When the building of the palace was completed they marched in procession, carrying the Deities from Ultadanga to the new temple. The devotees left the Ultadanga place behind, and it became occupied by new tenants. ISKCON was interested in buying the place at Ultadanga, but it took ISKCON eight years before they could buy the place.
ISKCON bought the Ultadanga premises some ten years ago, but they were not able to occupy it because of the stringent rights of occupancy of the tenants living there. When they finally were able to remove all the previous tenants, they found the building to be in complete disrepair. There was twenty truckloads of trash which the devotees had to clear away before they could begin restoration of the building. The devotees did exhaustive research to find out what the building was like in the time when Bhaktisiddhanta Sarasvati and his devotees lived there. They hired a restoration business to find out exactly what it was like when it was used by the Gaudiya Math, including what materials were used, etc. After all the research, it took a year and a half of working twenty-four hours a day to restore the building to what it was when it functioned as the Gaudiya Math. It was actually a beautiful building, and after a year and a half of continuous work, it appeared just like it used to appear in Bhaktisiddhanta Sarasvati’s time. But it was only a ground-floor building with a roof. On the roof Bhaktisiddhanta Sarasvati lived in a bhajana kutir and held classes. Many of his leading sannyasi disciples came to see and join him there. When the restoration was completed, it revealed a beautiful building in the exact spot where Abhay Charan De was first addressed by his future guru. It is a great place of pilgrimage, and devotees can now visit it as they would visit any other holy place in India. Radhanath Maharaja said that for the Gaudiya Math, Ultadanga Road was like their 26 Second Avenue, the place where their movement began, with little money or men, but where it grew to sixty-four centers throughout India.
I am anxiously awaiting two new books, which are supposed to arrive in a week or so to be ready for distribution at our July 2nd meeting. They are titled My Letters from Srila Prabhupada. They contain Prabhupada’s actual letters and my commentaries on them. In the first book there are not so many letters from Swamiji, but it is mostly my memoirs of his bringing me to him to surrender in 1966. The second volume contains Prabhupada’s many letters to me and comments on my replies from the period 1967-1969. We corresponded weekly, with my asking him many philosophical and personal questions. He had fixed me as the temple president at Boston and told me to stay there and manage it and preach. In 1970, when Prabhupada went to India with a group of his American disciples, I asked if I could go with them. He told me, “You cannot leave Boston,” and made me feel very committed and responsible for the preaching and managing of devotees. We had many college speaking engagements, but the student class was tough and indifferent to us. We were even attacked by a gang in Boston who broke into our house and created much violence.
Devotees moved from New York to Boston and established the first ISKCON Press because we had spacious quarters in our mansion building. For a while we were the largest temple in ISKCON, until Los Angeles bought their present property on Watseka Avenue. I kept up my frequent correspondence with Prabhupada, and he reciprocated with many loving, instructive letters. So I served him intimately in separation. In response to my faithfulness in staying at Boston, Prabhupada reciprocated by visiting about four times over the year and installing Radha-Krsna Deities in 1971.
Yesterday a single advance copy of My Letters from Srila Prabhupada, Volume 1 arrived, and we’re expecting the rest of them by the end of the week. I picked out an excerpt to read at the festival from Volume 1, and as soon as more books come, I’ll read them looking for readable excerpts. I’ll be relieved to have all the books for the festival in stock. Baladeva is going to put the books as full sets in bags so that devotees can get them for a donation and take them home to read.
In our out-loud reading of Caitanya-caritamrta we are hearing how Lord Caitanya, just after taking sannyasa, wanted to go to Vrndavana. But He fell into an ecstatic trance and wandered in the land of Radhadesa, not knowing where He was going. He was tricked by Nityananda Prabhu, who misled Him and directed Him to walk along the bank of the Ganges rather than the Yamuna. Eventually Advaita Acarya appeared on a boat and told Lord Caitanya to bathe in the Yamuna. Advaita Acarya had new dry clothing for Lord Caitanya to change into after His bath. Eventually Lord Caitanya found out that He was being tricked and that He was actually in the Ganges. Advaita Acarya then asked Him to please come to His home in Santipura and take a simple meal there. Caitanya Mahaprabhu agreed, and He went to the home of Advaita Acarya. Caitanya Mahaprabhu’s mother, Sacidevi, was informed that Lord Caitanya was in Santipura, and she came there along with His devotees from Navadvipa. Sacidevi was shocked and saddened to see that her son had His head shaven, with no more beautiful long hairs. But she was glad to cook for Sri Caitanya and asked that no one else cook for Him while He was at Advaita Acarya’s house. Many people gathered there to see the Lord. He would speak krsna-katha in the morning, and then they would have a feast prepared by Mother Saci. In the evening they would hold kirtana for three hours. This continued for several days. Mother Saci made a plea to her son that He not be cruel to her as her first son Visvarupa was when he took sannyasa and never again gave audience to his mother. Lord Caitanya promised that He would never abandon His mother, and she could decide where He would make His base. Mother Saci then requested the Lord to make His base in Jagannatha Puri. Krsnadasa Kaviraja writes that Jagannatha Puri and Navadvipa are like two rooms in the same house. If the Lord would stay in Jagannatha Puri she could get regular news of Him, and sometimes He could come to bathe in the Ganges and see her there. After about a week the Lord decided to leave for Jagannatha Puri, and despite the crying of the devotees at Advaita Acarya’s house, He abruptly took His leave and went with four men and started walking to Jagannatha Puri.
We have discovered an old manuscript of mine that has been misplaced and forgotten for ten years. It was worked on by the previous Press manager, Bimala devi dasi, who passed away, and some paraphernalia of hers was rescued by Baladeva. He didn’t have the equipment back then to convert it into a useable format, so he put it in his drawer ten years ago and forgot about it. But when Krsna Bhajana came here with his wife Satyasara, Baladeva remembered the old file and gave it to Krishna Bhajana. Krishna Bhajana was able to convert it to a useable format on modern equipment. Now it can go straight to editing. I started reading it but can’t determine yet where or when I wrote it. It is titled While Waiting and is five hundred pages long. I found the beginning interesting, but it needs editing/polishing. On that same flash drive was the complete manuscript of California Search for Gold, already typed and ready to go to editing. Previously we just had a manuscript of this book found in an old binder. It’s a twelve hundred page manuscript, and four hundred pages have been typed. Now the retyping project can be stopped and the extra time used for editing. These are two big discoveries from my archives, and the material seems usable in one format or another.
Our lawyer, Jayanta, informed us that our application for premium processing was turned down by the visa people, but they acknowledged receipt of the applications and said they would process them. This means it will take an indefinite amount of time before we find out if we get the long-term permit. So Anuradha and Silavati also received notices that the visa people had received their applications and that they would be processed. Therefore Anuradha dasi and Silavati dasi will have to return to Ireland every three months and re-enter on ninety-day permits.
Anuradha dasi is leaving in a few days for Ireland. She will try to get an interview for a six-month visa and stay here while her permanent visa is being processed. Two local backups are both delayed by COVID. Amit is testing positive and thinks he can’t come until next week sometime. Atindra can’t come immediately. His wife, Lalita Kaisori, is testing positive for COVID but has no symptoms. We have no other male attendant scheduled until mid-August.This means Baladeva has to bear the extra burden.
Saci’s oldest son, Lakshman, is down with COVID. He’s quarantining across the street, and we are delivering the morning maha-maha breakfast to him, which he very much appreciates. He finished his first year of college at the New School. In the weeks before he went to college, he was reading Bhagavad-gita As It Is with his father every day and demanding our morning maha-maha–prasadam with great intensity. I have known Lakshman since he was a little baby and I would play with him. His father didn’t push him to become a devotee but gave him free choice. Now Saci Suta has a video of Lakshman dancing wildly at the last Ratha-yatra in New York City.
Lakshman told his father that he’d like to be a karma-yogi. It’s nice to see when the second generation grows up and doesn’t reject Krsna consciousness completely.
Our helpful visitor, Amit, caught COVID at NYC Ratha-yatra. He has had symptoms for eight days, and today was the first day he was able to get up early and do his puja. Anuradha dasi is running out on her permit to stay in the USA, and she has to return on Sunday, June 26th. Our other backup man, Atindra, can’t come because his wife has tested positive with COVID, although with no symptoms. But he has to wait until she tests negative before he can come. So we’re feeling the reality: COVID is here to stay.
Good news. Atindra said he can come to Viraha Bhavan on Sunday after Anuradha leaves to render service. He can stay all the way until Manohara comes here in mid-August. While here he will take occasional breaks which can be filled in by Amit coming. This news is a great relief for me and Baladeva.
“Here’s a sepia picture of Prabhupada
in his kitchen at Radha-Damodara.
We imagine how it was
before he came to America.
The light coming in the window is from
Rupa Gosvami’s samadhi.
Prabhupada said he was comfortable
in those two rooms,
living in Vrndavana with no cares.
But Krsna dictated, ‘Come out’
so he went to America
to give us Krsna consciousness.
Then back to Vrndavana to build a
beautiful mandir and guesthouse and
establish the spirit of worship and service.
In this photo Prabhupada
has returned to Vrndavana.
He’s sitting on a straw mat on the floor.
His right hand is grasping the prasadam
from his plate. He is wearing a sweater
and staring intently out the window
which is flooded with light.
What is he thinking? What new order is coming from
his gurus who live in their samadhis?
Where shall Prabhupada go next
to perform what task? Maybe he is telling them,
‘Although I made some success in America
only a few have come
and only time will tell whether they
succumb again to sex and drugs.’
‘No, you did right. You established the
seed and plant of bhakti in the West
and gave new birth for India also. . . .
There is always more to do,
Lord Caitanya wants this.’
Of course this is only my daydream
of Prabhupada’s thoughts
and the replies of the Gosvamis of Vrndavana.
It’s my way of looking into his room
when he is absorbed in ecstasy and
I’m hoping to grab a little mercy
to carry on my service.”
“Prabhupada, pick me up,
Prabhupada, let me serve you,
please let me do something nice for you
like improve my chanting and
bring some people to the Krsna consciousness
movement. Let me help some devotees
to find their way.
You expect something
from an old student of yours.
Prabhupada, I love you.
You said you were an old man,
you said old age makes the body ugly
but we see your body as spiritual.
Prabhupada, I could fall down
so I pray that won’t happen.
Let me be near you.
Prabhupada, I am a tape recorder for you.
You said, ‘I write
all the articles in Back to Godhead
but we divide up the names,
like Satsvarupa, Hayagriva, Damodara and Rayarama.’
I cut my hair for you, wear this saffron dhoti,
I want to go on pilgrimage,
I want to serve you here and now
I read your books and underline sections
that strike me,
lines that assure me or challenge me
and then I share them with your devotees.
Prabhupada, you are my father, and the father
of all your devotees.
I will go now and hear you.
I have a van full of your tapes and books.
I dig into them.
They are my sustenance. I have been looking
at your photos.
Prabhupada, please tell me what to do
if you think I can hear.”
“Yes I was on many morning walks with you
and I’m proud of it.
I like to see my sikha-tousled head
sticking up and me gliding behind you,
to hear thoughtfully
what you have to say.
I listened best on those morning walks.
At other times I was plagued with mental problems.
But no matter how restless I was—
wanting service in separation from you,
disliking the menial nature of what I had—I
never disliked the walks.
There was pure philosophy streaming from you.
The debate with Mayavadis and scientists,
the joy of walking with you and
how you kept the conversation
so pure, preaching,
and the clothes you wore too—
Lightweight garlands of frangipani in Hawaii,
a soft wool shawl,
your saffron wool cadar over that,
most handsome and stately.
‘Good morning!’ you said to passersby.
Little did they know who you were.
We shared at least a little
the secret you carried.
I’m looking at those photos today
and feeling comforted.
Your hand in your beadbag,
your face turned back and smiling to a disciple
if I try to get too much out of it
the photo will vanish.
I’ll try not to be greedy.
You exist in many dimensions,
not just in a piece of glossy Kodak paper.
But it aroused my devotion to see your image.
I don’t want to miss you.
Please take me on the walk.
Please talk or be silent as you wish,
please walk with your disciples,
and make us Krsna conscious.”
Don’t be smug about it as if you
own him to give Prabhupada seminars
all year during 1996.
Yet I may say ‘my Prabhupada.’
So can everyone who follows him.
We all have a monopoly on his love.
Prabhupada writes, ‘Anyone engaged in the service of the Lord
is spiritually very dear to Him. . . .
It is not that Lord Brahma is considered
very great while an ordinary human being
trying to preach the glories of the Lord
is considered very low.’
Gather his sayings from purports and letters
conversations and memoirs and
tapes and books and looks from photos and films,
from worship hours in temples,
form your own opinion, serve him . . .
Your own Prabhupada.
Some are more dear to him than I,
that’s all right, they deserve it.
But, ayi nanda-tanuja kinkaram!
I too have a place as an atom
at his lotus feet. No one can deny it.
Even Prabhupada will not deny it.
He has given it once and will
never take it back. And I will
never relinquish that hope.
Here he is talking to me.
It looks like that. He has a beard stubble,
he’s tough-minded, super-intelligent
about the world as well as the spirit.
I’m looking down. Did I say
He was superior to me and
that sometimes rankled me.
He really put you on the spot and made
you surrender to Krsna—give up
your nonsense concoctions
and pride in your own achievements.
My head is covered with a sweatshirt hood,
and I’m looking down, mouth pursed,
and he seems to be looking at me!
He’s asking me or checking me out,
testing me. Or maybe just asking
whether I bought the airline tickets.
No I think it was before then, because
Rupanuga is a sannyasi in the same picture.
What’s he saying to me? He looks
so neat, the sannyasi top-piece is
elegantly folded over his right shoulder,
he wears a soft sweater, a cadar folded
narrowly and slung over the left shoulder.
He’s like a military general and very alert.
He’s paused, it appears, in his walk
and looking at this one fellow.
I worship that moment now
with satisfaction to know
I took some attention from him
which we all hanker for . . .
Now may I serve him worthily
Prabhupada, I feel good,
much enthusiasm still.
Let me write up a storm for your mission.
Please accept it,
dear master, as you accepted me
that moment on the walk,
within your entourage.”
“Dear Srila Prabhupada,
Everbody’s spiritual master,
I’ve got another book in the works.
I hope you’ll like it.
I walked on the Irish road this morning
chanting japa and thinking of my writings.
Things are different than when you
were here. I’d never dare do this.
Neither would the others dare.
We’ve got you still,
to rule over us.
Dear spiritual master, I shouldn’t be the one
to write. I don’t have the latest
news from Russian ISKCON centers.
I am not the Padayatra chief or
chief of ISKCON’s news bureau
or even a pujari to tell you that
Radha-Gokulananda are happy.
I’m sure they all communicate with you
through the heart.
I’ve got this typewriter
and a yen to put out words
and direct them to you.
Not even clever . . . oh well,
I’ll never leave you.
Here they come on the walk,
there they go . . . now he’s in the lecture hall,
now he’s in his room
alone with Hari-sauri.
I’m wishing I were somewhere else.
I used to think America was home,
but now, Swamiji, I’m wandering.
At least I know you are the polestar
and I am your orbiter.
I hope it won’t be long when
you recognize me and call me
in close to get your orders.
Then, feeling quite fixed up
I’ll sail off on your mission.
Even now I’m doing that,
as I hear you speak.”
“It was time to prepare Prabhupada’s lunch. He was sitting outside on a narrow veranda in his gamcha awaiting his massage. First I brought out the cut-up loki squash for his inspection. Unfortunately, I had cut them the wrong way.
“‘Oh, you have done it wrong,’ he said and made a disgusted face. (As I write down here that Srila Prabhupada was ‘disgusted’ or ‘annoyed’ or ‘angry’ I would like to make it clear, in case it isn’t, that Srila Prabhupada showed these emotions in a purely instructive, self-controlled way. Not that he was victimized by passions. It was perfectly clear to me at the time exactly what was happening. He often said that chastisement, like encouragement, is one of the methods used by a teacher to instruct the pupil. Nevertheless, Prabhupada’s show of instructive disgust or anger was always cutting and fearful, as it was intended to be. Those outside devotional service may fail to understand this, but at least we should know that it is perfectly all right and loving in the exchange between the bona fide guru and his disciple.)
“‘Well,’ I replied, hurt and instinctively defensive, ‘I can learn to do it right.’
“‘You will not be able to learn this,’ said Srila Prabhupada, ‘in three hundred years.’
“Accepting myself as a fool, I got up and went into the kitchen where I quickly turned on the flame under the boiler. I then returned, enthusiastically and gratefully, to serve Srila Prabhupada by giving him his massage.”
“Lord Krsna advises that His devotees should ‘always think of Me,’ but this may prove particularly difficult for a grhastha at his workplace. Externally, his work may have nothing to do with Krsna. It is relatively easy to see the connection between work and devotion if you are dressing the Deity on the altar, or cleaning the temple floor, but what if your work is to repair cars or computers? Srila Prabhupada advises us to select our method of work in consultation with the spiritual master and not do something whimsically. But when one is convinced that his work is authorized devotional service, then he can engage in a moment-to-moment meditation even while at his place of work.
“‘And while working in that way, one should think of Krsna only: ‘I have been appointed to discharge this particular duty by Krsna.’ While acting in such a way, one naturally has to think of Krsna. This is perfect Krsna consciousness. (Bg. 18.57, purport)
“Aside from meditating on one’s purpose, one can also chant Hare Krsna always, either aloud or chanting within the mind. Although a worker in a mundane establishment might seem to be at a disadvantage compared to a temple chanter, it is sometimes even more meaningful to call on the names of the Lord in a difficult situation than in the relaxed atmosphere of the temple routine. At any rate, the grhastha does not have the luxury of staying home to chant, so he must learn to adapt himself in the so-called material situation. Lord Krsna expected Arjuna to remain in Krsna consciousness even on a battlefield.”
“Doctor Subudhi decided not to do anything about my enlarged prostate gland, so I’ll have to struggle with my old age problem and just tolerate it. I’m relieved there is no surgery. I spoke a half hour on the phone going over proofreading changes with Krishna Kripa. In the Journal I ask myself where I am going. I want to go back to Godhead. The nurse practitioner suggested the urologist take a biopsy (for cancer), but he said he didn’t want to do anything, and he wanted to see me again in six months. I am painting, but it is so primitive, naïve art. A man’s paintings were abstract, thrown in a dumpster, but now they are selling for $500,000. I’m pleased that Krsna-kripa is proofreading. Baladeva mowed the lawn. My heart is basically okay for my age. I take meds for pain prevention of headache. My soul is pure but covered up. So many trips to the doctors. Waiting rooms. We didn’t have to wait so long today. Stopped in the car, driving through the beautiful scenery of the green, leafy trees. God’s picture. A nine-story building collapsed in Bangladesh, a garment- making factory like Nitai’s. Hundreds of people died. It’s a backlash on his industry. And the fundamentalists are making strikes. When there’s a strike he drives to work in an ambulance. Shadow is barking loudly. So much turmoil and suffering in the world. Prabhupada writes that people shouldn’t deprecate God for the suffering. Just as the state makes a prison house . . . the world is for the rebellious creatures. It’s hard to reconcile. I don’t want to go back to this material world. I want to go to Krsna. But do I have the love, the qualification? Krishna Kripa goes on harinama, now in England, then Ireland.”
“The temple of Madan-mohan (Krsna, the attractor of Cupid) was built 500 years ago by Sanatana Gosvami. We go for a predawn visit.
Red limestone dome
ruining with age
fresh grass atop.”
“The dictionary defines an idiom as ‘a style or form of expression that is characteristic of an individual.’ One has to know how Prabhupada used idioms by listening to his lectures or by being present for his talks. Each of these phrases can open up a whole world of Prabhupada realization.
“‘Everything is there’
“Prabhupada said this to indicate that everything we need to know is present in the Vedic literature. He said it to convey urgency. By the chanting of Hare Krsna, you can directly contact Krsna. By reading Bhagavad-gita, you can know your relationship with Krsna. Prabhupada enumerated points such as these, and then, as if realizing that there was no end to the favorable items, he would interject, ‘Everything is there.’ He said it with pride as a follower of Krsna consciousness, and with confidence that there was nothing lacking in Bhagavad-gita. Everything is there, so you should turn to it.
“‘Thank you very much’
“This was Prabhupada’s trademark at the end of every lecture. One might say that this is nothing more than a formality: the speaker thanks the audience for their attentive hearing. Because Srila Prabhupada did it, however, it is a trademark to remind us of him. We wonder about it. Sometimes we even imagine that Prabhupada was being a touch sarcastic when he said, ‘Thank you very much.’ With some audiences, it sounded like he was amused. Perhaps I am reading the mind of the acarya by these interpretations. Each person will hear it in his own way. At least let us keep his ‘Thank you very much’ in our collection of remembrances.
“‘This is going on’
“Prabhupada used this to express the opposite mood of ‘everything is there.’ By saying ‘this is going on,’ he pointed to the rascaldom and nonsense that goes on in the material world, especially in Kali-yuga. He stated it at the end of a string of anomalies. The politicians are cheating the people by taxing and not giving anything in return; people in general are in ignorance about the goal of life; gurus claim they are God but are interested in illicit sex . . . After stating a list of malpractices, Prabhu-pada added, ‘This is going on.’ They are getting away with murder. The cheating continues.”
“My relationship with You has many aspects. Some aspects are sadness and indifference. It is sad that I do not love You more, and You do not reveal Yourself to me. It’s sad that I do not have the desire to work harder for the sankirtana movement to spread Krsna consciousness. It is sad that I do not love and mix more with Your devotees. And there is a general indifference. I do not care for You one way or another. I occupy myself with other things. Just today in Brhad-bhagavatamrta, we read the definition of tapa not as austerity but as concentration. Concentration on the beloved. That makes more sense than austerity, because when Lord Brahma meditated on You after hearing the syllables ta-pa, he concentrated on You in deep meditation. The important thing was not physical inconvenience but concentration.
“My relationship with You is not concentrated. There’s an aspect of indifference to it, a lack of burning desire to attain You. Nowadays I am more concerned with my broken collarbone than with You. Another aspect is my lack of enthusiasm (utsaha) in the execution of my sadhana. I chant with regulation, and I hear about Your activities and instructions, but not with great enthusiasm.
“Of course, there are positive aspects to my relationship with You. And in my petitional prayers to You, I ask that these be increased. I just said that I do not have enthusiasm in my sadhana, and yet I also do have a modicum of utsaha in pursuing You. There’s nothing I do with more attention than my prayers to You and my chanting of Hare Krsna. They may not be with great. enthusiasm, but they are my highest priority.”
“Sometimes devotees ask whether I was ever inspired during these early days of expansion in ISKCON to go out and open a center somewhere outside America. I opened the center in Boston, and perhaps I should’ve done as many devotees did— left the Boston temple in the capable hands of the devotees there and moved on to other adventures. But until May 1970, I had been tied down by the job Prabhupada had repeatedly asked me to maintain. Also, I was married, and I was the temple president. All of these things, together with the transcribing and editing work, constituted my service to Prabhupada. Neither was it my nature to roam around the world.
“If I did have any inclination to roam, it was when Prabhupada went to India with his world sankirtana party in late 1970. Many devotees freed themselves of their responsibilities to join him, and it proved to be a wonderful experience for almost all of them. Perhaps I could’ve gone, but I couldn’t help but feel it wasn’t what Prabhupada wanted for me. Neither did Prabhupada invite me. I think he was just as satisfied when devotees stayed at their posts and maintained what had already been built.
“Prabhupada never encouraged me to open another center. I had opened one center, and he had made it clear that he now wanted me to stay in that center and develop it. Leaving it would have been irresponsible. In a letter to Jadurani dated June 22, 1970, Prabhupada writes, ‘I am very glad to know that Satsvarupa is becoming more and more responsible for the Boston temple. That is nice.’ These letters or statements about me encouraged me to please Prabhupada in this particular way. Prabhupada often use the phrase, ‘That I want.’ I remembered that phrase often and felt inspired to give him what he had told me he wanted from me.”
“When Narada Muni was trying to regain the vision of Lord Krsna in his meditation, the Lord spoke to him and told him that a devotee had to be completely ‘free from all material taints’ before he could expect to see Him. In this age Lord Caitanya’s magnanimous distribution of the chanting of Hare Krsna provides us with the most effective method for cleaning the dirty mind and heart and thereby gives us a pure vision of Krsna.
“An example of the dynamic relationship between outer and inner cleanliness was shown by Lord Caitanya in His pastimes of cleaning the Gundica temple. As the leader of the Vaisnavas, Lord Caitanya showed not only symbolically but practically the importance of cleanliness. In preparing the temple for the appearance of Lord Jagannatha, Lord Caitanya led the devotees by personally cleaning on His hands and knees. He praised those devotees who collected the most dust, and He chastised those who did not collect enough. Engaging many sweepers, He swept the whole temple and courtyard and then began to wash everything with Ganges water.
“Lord Caitanya’s devotees splashed water high on the ceilings and walls of the temple, and Caitanya Mahaprabhu Himself wiped the stone altar clean with His own cloth. In his commentary on this section of Caitanya-caritamrta, Bhaktisiddhanta Sarasvati takes an internal view of these pastimes and says that unless a devotee makes his own heart perfectly pure of all material taints and desires, then he cannot expect Krsna, who is all pure, to appear there.
“The political and intellectual leaders of this age are badly lacking in all twenty-six qualities of a Vaisnava, and their lack of cleanliness is easily seen. The country’s political leaders claim they want to lead the people and help them, but they actually have other motives in mind. Even at best, the nation’s leaders want to engage the people in the cause of nationalism and the pursuit of illusory happiness. The very goals they want the people to strive for and attain are anarthas, stumbling blocks on the path of self-realization. Where there is ignorance, an impure heart, an unclean vision—where all is dirty—no one can expect to see purity. And in fact, no one really expects clean dealings even from the president, the father, or the priest.
“The Krsna consciousness movement is dedicated to making the world ‘revolutionary clean’ through hygienic principles and, even more importantly, by cleansing the heart with the chanting of Hare Krsna, Hare Krsna, Krsna Krsna, Hare Hare / Hare Rama, Hare Rama, Rama Rama, Hare Hare. When some of Srila Prabhupada’s disciples were accused of brainwashing (a charge that was quickly thrown out of court), Srila Prabhupada took the word ‘brainwashing’ in a favorable way and said that was indeed our mission. ‘Because their brains are filled with stool,’ he said, ‘so we have to wash their brains with the chanting of the Lord’s names.’”
“Q: Is honesty, then, just admitting lots of embarrassing stuff about yourself?’
“A: That’s a part of it.
“Q: Tell me again what you mean about rote chanting or routine duties being hateful. Didn’t Srila Prabhupada speak of routine duties as favorable?
“A: Daily duties in a devotee’s life are sacred, as good as prayers. That’s why it’s so unfortunate when we turn our routine duties into mechanical or inattentive acts. Srila Prabhupada was never in favor of mechanical duties. The movement is Krsna consciousness, thinking of Krsna. We should not give up our daily routine, but we must prepare for it in advance. Be in a worshipful state of mind as you perform it, cleaning and cooking in the kitchen, worshiping the Deity, and so on.
“At least you can admit that if this were to occur to you or to your community—that is, if you chanted and bowed down to the Deity and honored prasadam with very little consciousness for those acts—that would be a travesty of bhakti, and if it happened to you, you would be in need of some religious renewal. Do you agree, theoretically?
“It’s Saturday—sparrows chirping loudly, cinema songs, and more visitors than usual. One lady wears an Indian Airlines cabin luggage tag on her bag. Where are they coming from? So many people were outside we had to thread through them before we could enter. Their clothes are all according to their region, but I don’t know how to tell which comes from where.
“Srila Prabhupada, your Samadhi Mandir is so full of life. The populace is streaming in and out your doors. An ISKCON brahmacari explains to an older man, maybe his father, who you are. The hired pigeon-chaser is active and noisy. One of the Indian pujaris is cleaning the altar in front of you. I just came from reading the cleansing of the Gundica temple pastime.
“Imagine if we did that here. Now there are a few leaves on the floor and a puddle of water in a place where we want to bow down .
“Our brahmacari is sweeping up the leaves and the puddle, cleaning his heart. He wears the Vaisnava tilaka clear and artistically in twelve places.
“Now another large group enters. Today they are well-dressed, not villagers with worn-out clothes, but city folk—men in fashionable Western clothes, ladies in clean saris. Some remind you of Americans—blue jeans, caps with beaks, fat mammas.
“The crowds move in and out like breathing. Sometimes it’s quiet and empty and then it fills up with people. Srila Prabhupada draws them in and then lets them go, draws them in and then lets them go.”
“I’m not going to write or read more about Foucault. I want to be content with Krsna consciousness. Religious, spiritual thoughts. My submission to my spiritual master takes various forms. One is the celebration of self and celebration of creative acts. We keep hearing that a devotee doesn’t act for his own pleasure, but only for Krsna’s pleasure —and that, of course, serving Krsna gives the greatest bliss. In practical terms, is it wrong to do things you like? Who can claim (pretend) he is above this?
“I like to energetically use my spirits in His service. It’s up to the Lord and the spiritual master whether they want to accept my offering. I should also listen to whether they have specific demands of me as to what will please them—and do that. Srila Prabhupada says distribute his books, read his books, become Krsna conscious, love Krsna, chant Hare Krsna, help others go back to Godhead, and you go too.
“Lord Krsna says, ‘Surrender to Me and I’ll relieve you of reactions to sins.’ Lord Caitanya says the same, surrender to Krsna, chant Hare Krsna. I’ll do all those things, but still, the individual nature of my offering seems up to me.
“Hey, good night. You’re excited by the rainbow—by the real Artist burning on the treetops, violet and all colors. The gray Syamasundara of clouds, and you get yourself into bed for seven hours, pray you get better dreams, maybe Prabhupada will bless you and direct you. What does he want of me? What can I do? Go to bed. Sleep, weak. Write every day, every day just be Krsna conscious, would I could, wait ’til the well rises, and if it doesn’t, throw your bucket down there anyway. Sweet dreams, St. Thérèse, St. Vidura, St. Raghunatha dasa, Lord Krsna . . . Time is up, you didn’t write so much today and I wish you could have dug deeper with your spade. Tomorrow . . .”
“If it’s too tasty, and you stay up all at night, you’ll develop a habit and never be able to sleep. If you can’t sleep, get up and do something dull. But everything’s exciting! One night I couldn’t sleep, and I looked through the window at the next house and saw a man holding his baby at arm’s length. The father did when he wanted to, and that leads me to the lila of man and son.”
“Running out of time, no
it seems all right still.
They’ll give us a warning –
“and may you die
in – Vrndavana.”
Time to improve your chanting.
Your face is well-preserved.
Time for it to rot some
more. For my birthdays
and parties and slideshows.
It is in Krsna’s control.
Whatever you have, you
offer to Him.
It doesn’t seem to
improve. Hare Krsna
chanting in time,
finally, he puts you
down. Another sincere
jiva, but didn’t make
it this time. Come
again. In time.
Walkin’ shoes tied tight
or prefer your wellies because
they cover your legs from
And ‘round you go, yesterday
it was wild how the
mind bounced from one
Maybe you can do better…
Krsna, help! If you know how
or cared enough, this
prayer could work.
In walkin’ shoes, Hari-
bol man can buy such simple
act performed the profound.?
Oh, at least he endeavors,
and is relieved or
grateful for that sure enough.
Mantra is not taken away.
That beat he keeps even
while the critics watch
I scorn them back
and do my own thing, Krsna.”
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.