The kirtana was scheduled to go from 10:00-10:30, but I so much enjoyed Rama’s singing and the boys’ musical support that I asked him to continue, and he went on for an extra half-hour.
Then I gave my talk, and everyone was quiet and attentively listening. I told how today we were focusing on books I had written about Srila Prabhupada. The most important book is the Srila Prabhupada-lilamrta, which is still available through the BBT. The Prabhupada-lilamrta was a team effort, and it took five years to complete. It is the authorized biography of Srila Prabhupada and will be read for many years by his followers. After I finished the SPL, I was still “on a roll” of writing books about Srila Prabhupada. I completed four volumes of Prabhupada Meditations, in which I meditated and brought my mind back especially to the activities of Prabhupada and his devotees in 1966. I talked about the books and then I read excerpts. Our book production team had worked hard to reprint all the books on time for this festival, and they successfully met their deadlines. The books were newly proofread, some of them had to be retyped, and they had new, colorful covers. After my talk I invited devotees to go to the book table and get sets of the eight books. We sold forty sets, as well as other books, and a number of paintings.
This feast was particularly special with a lot of new preps that had never been served before. Everyone was very satisfied.
After the book sales there was arati and a long kirtana led by a young man who was one of Rama Raya’s party. He had everyone on their feet dancing and jumping to the rapid beats of his mrdanga playing. I was personally satisfied and relaxed by the whole affair. I grew tired as the afternoon wore on, and I rode back to our ashram in someone else’s car, since the drama with our own car continues, and the battery was dead. Again.
After the festival there was a crew to clean up the pavilion because the next day they were having another event, and we always leave it better than what it was before we got it. So the cleanup had to be the next day on Sunday at Viraha Bhavan. There is still more to do at the book storage to get everything put away neatly.
For weeks we had been preparing for the festival. There was an atmosphere of tension in the ashram as we worried about so many factors related to putting it on, anticipating the weather, the attendance, preparing the lecture. Would there be enough prasadam? Would enough helpers show up who said they would come? For weeks it created a tension. But we lived through it, it was successful, and now we are calming down and getting back to our normal peaceful routine. I am 83 years old, and I have opted for a retired lifestyle with enough activities so that I don’t get bored. My day is packed with Krsna conscious activities such as writing the Journal, reading Krsna conscious books, reading out-loud with the group for two and a half hours, taking the darsana of Radha-Govinda and Radha-Kalachandji, chanting extra rounds, and answering correspondence. I receive occasional guests. One may say that “retirement” was not part of Prabhupada’s mission. Fortunately my activities are preaching, because on a regular basis I hear how people are being helped by my books and journal. And all my activities come under the umbrella of the nine processes of devotional service. All my activities can be done despite my physical limitations.
Krsna dasi received a phone call from her sister that her 90-year-old mother is sick, and can she come down soon to Trinidad? Her mother is an initiated devotee and chants every day, and is very supportive of Krsna dasi’s service up here. At the same time, her late husband Baladeva’s mother is not doing well after her heart attack, so Krsna dasi has to meet with a lawyer there, since she is the executor of the final will. She has to make arrangements with the devotees for final rites and kirtana, etc. She said hopefully she’ll be gone for just a week, and we’re also hoping that’s true. She is really needed here at Viraha Bhavan.
Mother Indira of Trinidad has recently been appearing on Zoom in our out-loud daily readings. She has been a dear friend of the devotees since the mid-1970s. She was always accommodating devotees, the first one to allow devotees to have programs in her house, even before the temples were started. She was married, but her husband passed away. For many years she has been a widow wearing white. I initiated her in 1978. She’s an invalid now and is not able to walk. Her son hired Kapila dasa’s wife, who is a geriatric nurse, to take care of her. Her hair is all white and her body is diminished, but every day she says to me, “Haribol!” and “Hare Krsna!” She appears regularly on the Zoom along with a few other devotees from Trinidad. She’s living with the devotees and hearing us read for two and a half hours a day from Prabhupada’s books. She’s a sweet old lady and a staunch devotee in the line of Prabhupada. She remains cheerful despite the ups and downs of temple life. When the devotees from Trinidad would send me group donations, Mother Indira was always the biggest donor. She has never pushed herself forward, always humble and faithfully chanting her rounds.
Srivasa Thakura, under the influence of Narada Muni, who is in the mood of opulence, rejoices with the goddess of fortune and says a comparison: “The residents of Vrndavana, like the gopis, have only a few twigs and flowers, and their occupation is churning milk into butter, whereas the goddess of fortune rides in a bejeweled palanquin.” Hearing this, Sri Caitanya Mahaprabhu asked Svarupa Damodara to speak on the opulence of Vrndavana. Svarupa Damodara says, “In Vrndavana the land is made of touchstone and the residents walk by dancing. They have numberless surabhi cows that give unlimited milk. The opulence of Vrndavana is actually far greater than that of the goddess of fortune.” Hearing this, Srivasa Thakura laughs and slaps his hands under his armpits. It is a jolly competition. Lord Caitanya was in increased ecstasy hearing Svarupa Damodara describe the opulences of Vrndavana.
We are still having trouble with the battery of our recently-purchased used car. It keeps going dead. It was very embarrassing when I got into the car to go to the July 2nd festival and the battery was dead; I had to change cars. What we have tried to do is jumpstart the car and let it run or drive it until the battery is charged. That had been working a week at a time, but this time it went dead the second day in a row. Now we have asked AAA to come out (although it is a holiday, July 4). They agreed to come, and their process is to test this battery, and then if needful they are bringing a new battery and will install it. Hopefully it’s not a more complicated electrical problem. But in any case we have an appointment with the dealer this week, but they are very expensive.
For a few weeks I’ve been feeling an on-and-off pain in my abdomen. Today we decided to go to the doctor about it. Fortunately there was a cancellation. He called us at 8:00 and said he could see us at 8:45. That meant we had to call off abruptly the out-loud reading and immediately drive to the doctor’s office. There we had to wait, first in the waiting room and then in the exam room because the doctor was running late. After his exam, not finding anything conclusive, he sent us downstairs for an X-ray. The X-ray didn’t show anything abnormal, but just to be safe they ordered a CAT scan with contrast, which was fortunately approved by our insurance carrier, which would be a more conclusive test on the soft tissues in the abdomen.
Even though there weren’t many people in the waiting room, we still had to wait half an hour before they would see us. When I came back to Viraha Bhavan I was feeling exhausted because I had missed my morning nap. And the exposure to the outer world—the television in the waiting room, the presence of many nondevotees, the prodding and poking, and my difficulty in standing , all made me feel harassed. I have an ideal situation living in my room at Viraha Bhavan, and even going to the doctor is a great disruption. I contracted a headache, took Excedrin, and lay back in my chair and slept until lunchtime. The whole ordeal was over two and a half hours. It made me realize how fortunate I am to have this living situation. When we read in Srila Prabhupada’s books about how a devotee shouldn’t even see the face of a nondevotee, and then being with them, it’s like being in a cage of fire. It seems extreme, but when you can experience life without associating with nondevotees, then you can really appreciate what the books are saying.
As far as my medical issue, we can move ahead and make an appointment for July 14. In the meantime, since going to the doctor I have had no recurrence of abdominal pain.
“I heard the beginning of Prabhupada’s
‘Varnasrama College Talks’
on a morning walk, Vrndavana 1974.
Devotees are still discussing what he wanted.
He had a clear vision and threw out lots
of ideas like sparks. Now see what you
There should be a college
and they can teach asramas, brahmana,
ksatriya—who will learn how to kill—
vaisyas will protect cows
and sudras will go to school to learn
It should be a boarding school.
Hrdayananda Maharaja asked the most questions
because he was actually interested in doing it.
Prabhupada had much to say, not just
a curriculum from a dean of studies—
he said the Western world has no philosophers
and so Freud becomes a philosopher.
‘Don’t mind’ (that he is lambasting Western culture),
‘but they’re all no better than animals.’
I want to hear you and appreciate,
that’s my main business.
I can tell others what you said,
Prabhupada, because I took the time
to hear it clearly.
Maybe I can be a teacher of prabhupada-katha
in the varnasrama college.
Tell them, ‘Just remember that he spoke
all this in Vrndavana, while walking.
He wanted us to start a new chapter
of human life in the Western world.
He called us all mlecchas,
but said we could be reclaimed.’
I want to go hear some more
and tell what he said.”
“All those young men clustered around him
the walks. It’s simple—
they all love him.
He makes them feel good.
Some of them are tough guys,
almost all were drug-takers
who want to be clean
and transcendental and . . . like Prabhupada
at least in some small way.
You could say they want power
in his movement
but that came later.
First came attraction for him
and that cannot be denied.
That will save us.
Now go back to that simple attraction,
examine it and build on it.
Forget the mistakes—at least
Don’t repeat them.
Be humble and like you were
when you first saw him:
you knew you were in sin,
and you knew he saw it and forgave you.
He carried Krsna.
He teaches the mantra,
he gives out good food,
his books are a little hard to swallow at first
but when you get past your prejudices
(that’s what he called them, Western prejudices)
you find it clear and you are
as good as someone born in India.
He says you are even better than a Hindu.
You are Krsna conscious,
you can be reclaimed.
Give up illicit sex and marijuana
give up being a tough guy.
It’s not easy but it is easy.
Just go see him and hear and
go back to simple truths:
he’s your guru,
you wanted a guru,
so God sent him.
Now you have nothing else to do
but serve him with your whole life.”
“Last night was euphoric. I couldn’t stop looking at photos of Prabhupada until it was bedtime. Then in the dark I saw them still, and me with him as a younger man. Finally I fell asleep and didn’t wake up until hours later. I remembered it again and reached for them. One album is labeled ‘Brag Book,’ for keeping photos of your children, wife, the house, the fish you caught . . . I brag to have such a spiritual master. Here’s a picture of him sitting outside a sleek Citroen in France, eating his lunch, and that’s me in the background. I was his servant.
“Here’s a picture of him entering the old L.A. temple. He’s wearing dark peach-colored socks and a rust-colored sweater. That’s me behind him with the same colored socks. I could go on like this, looking at the old prints, wondering what happened to so-and-so. But I have more serious things to do, like getting ready for breakfast, and I have assigned myself to write some lines on him each day. Okay, but don’t put down photo-watching. I’m living in the world, and I look at the pictures. Prabhupada is with us.
“Brag Book: There I am, taking sannyasa. See the pretty girls when they were 21 years old. That’s Prabhupada on the vyasasana with the microphone. Who is that waving the peacock fan? Karandhara looks so real. Oh, I know her. There I am again, right in with the big guys. Seeing the photos reminds me there was a lot going on besides our single-minded dedication to guru. And yet you can’t deny the looks of spontaneous adoration, Sudama Maharaja leaning forward to see Prabhupada’s expression as Karandhara shows him the wool swami hats they sell to devotees, and a young mother with her infant held up, she’s really happy to see Prabhupada. The whole L.A. devotee community has turned out to be with him as he takes a tour of their buildings. And after all, they are living that way—dress, customs and religion—just because he said to do it. As Professor Rochford wrote, ‘It is nothing short of miraculous that one man could inspire so many people throughout the world to become God-conscious.’”
“When did you last hear Prabhupada speak? What was he saying? You beg to hear again. He wrote, ‘This verse is very instructive for sincere workers in the Krsna consciousness movement.’
“‘We should not be jubilant in victory or morose in defeat. We should make a sincere effort to implement the will of Krsna.’ That was given in connection with the speech by Vrtrasura. who encouraged Indra to pick up his thunderbolt and fight. Vrtrasura wanted to be killed by Indra’s thunderbolt because it was created by the order of Lord Visnu. Vrtrasura actually wanted to go back to Godhead, whereas Indra was interested in keeping his sense gratification in the heavenly kingdom. So Vrtra was a better Vaisnava than Indra.
“Early this morning I begged Prabhupada to accept my writing just as it is. He’ll let me know eventually if it’s off. I ought to worry—the Lord gives a devotee what he wants. He gave Indra the heavenly seat back and let Vrtrasura go back to Godhead. I say I want to do what Prabhupada wants, but what do I do?
“When Srila Prabhupada visited the L.A. community he stopped in one room and a new devotee, Tirtharthi, came forward and offered him a drink of water from a silver cup on a silver tray. Srila Prabhupada took it. In the photo, I’m standing behind Prabhupada, watching. I helped to bring Tirtharthi to Krsna consciousness. I preached to him at Santa Cruz when he was a hippie. Prabhupada has drunk the water and is now returning the cup. It’s a very nice moment, and Tirtharthi looks so fresh and new as a devotee, clean and saved and so fortunate to be able to give Prabhupada a drink.
“We were all running after Prabhupada, wanting to serve him and be recognized by him. It’s a simple phenomena but also difficult to explain. After he disappeared in 1977 many disciples stopped serving actively because he didn’t seem to be here. Or they didn’t like the way his leading disciples took charge of things. Some said Prabhupada was pushed out of the center of attention. That did happen … Things are better now, I think. Let’s look at the next picture.”
“Thank you Srila Prabhupada for giving us Bhagavad-gita As It Is and Srimad-Bhagavatam, NOD, TLC, Krsna book, all your little books and Caitanya-caritamrta with its advanced ecstasies of Lord Caitanya.
“Thank you for teaching us the art and practice of honoring prasadam. It’s a miracle you teach, and we can be the miracle makers. One takes simple ingredients, gets them in the food store, cleans and cooks and prepares them on the plate. When offered on the altar of guru and Gauranga with the prayers Srila Prabhupada gave us, the food becomes prasadam. Krsna eats it. He eats spiritually and leaves spiritually. It tastes good and we are saved from eating lumps of sin.
“Thank you for engaging us in Krsna consciousness all the years you were here. You sent me the tapes in the mail, your dictations of TLC and Krsna book. I typed them as soon as I could, my prime personal assignment from you. If you want to make more tapes, dear master, know that I am ready to type them. I will eagerly type up a new book by you with all enthusiasm just as I had in the old days. Thank you for the enthusiasm.
“Thank you for making me a man. They think a man has to have a wife or sex partner. It’s not so. One can be heroic by controlling the senses, and then he can make disciples all over the world. A man lives by a code of truth, and you gave us the initiation vows. Thank you.
‘Thank you for Deity worship, for reminding us not to sleep so much, for reminding us always to chant Hare Krsna and to preach Krsna consciousness. Your reminders are challenges. You certainly challenge our complacent attitudes. You break up licentiousness, sensuality, speculation, the posing habit, the do-nothing stance, you come to us and expel the bored yawn, the foolish ‘I am God’ or ‘I am gopi.’
“Thank you for bringing us down to earth, teaching the basics and making Goloka real to us—when we are ready for it.
“Thank you for being who you are. I hope to walk the beach with you again and hear you speak and this time with rapt attention.”
“Prabhupada has entered my heart. I am glad to say that and to welcome him here. He did this long ago, in 1966. Today I am enunciating it once again. Welcome, spiritual master. Please take a seat above me. Please take a cup of water. Please take everything and use it as you like. Once I was with you when you visited a flat in Calcutta. You noticed a little doll on a shelf. It was the Air India man who bows obsequiously to all customers. You said, ‘Who is that? Vivekananda?’
“Those homes you visited didn’t receive you warmly. They were not your disciples. They had respect for you but they weren’t giving you their whole life. We disciples want you to come into our lives and rule. We may still be unruly but we want to correct that. Thank you for coming and being our spiritual master.
“He speaks strongly every time. Listen to him. It may be something very basic like the Bhagavatam, Narada and Angira telling Citraketu that all human relationships are fleeting and therefore untrue. The true self is the soul within. You are repeating the commentators—Visvanatha Cakravarti, Madhvacarya and others—quoting Bhagavad-gita verses, and I am listening and getting immense gain. It’s not like I know it already. Thank you for presenting Krsna consciousness in this way.
“He will not be forgotten. It is testimony that the BBT Archives produces every word they find by you, Srila Prabhupada, prints them in durable hardbound books, and sells thousands of copies. I want those books and the time to read them always.
“And many memoirs and partial biographies are written by your disciples. I want them too. I want to be with you and your disciples and to help remembrance of you to go on and increase. My help isn’t necessary; it’s for my own benefit that I enlist in the project of making sure we don’t forget you. I start with myself. I go back again to the Second Avenue storefront in my mind, remember him. I was afraid of him, but I bowed before him and I meant it. I offered my life to him and carried out his instructions to the best of my ability. I see him standing over me smiling, sitting across from me thoughtfully. I take his instruction and leave the room. I am still a young man. He lives forever somewhere and I can resume being with him—no truly, it has never been broken.”
“It seems to be slowing down now. I know I don’t have many years left in this body, but it’s precious, and I’m savoring the schedule that I follow with a concentrated bhajana. I seem to have time. Although I don’t have much time, I seem to feel that I have time to practice Krsnaconsciousness, to write poetry. The decision not to travel has held time for me. Dhanurdhara Maharaja asked if I get bored. I don’t get bored, but I stay in place, and time is measured peacefully and intensely.
“ I once asked Prabhupada a question. I said, “I feel I can be many selves. Which self would Krsnawant me to be?” I was thinking how in relating to different acquaintances I would play different roles, and one didn’t know who one truly was. What kind of a person would Krsnalike me to be? I was thinking of the hip person, the boyfriend, the comrade, the writer, the reader. These were the different selves I was thinking of. The person who’s subordinate, the person who’s dominant. What do you want me to be, Krishna? What will be pleasing to you? And Prabhupada answered by saying, “This boy Steve is nice. He types and gives money. You all should do like that.” He went right to the core of the services I was rendering rather than addressing my question of masks before society. He told me what he perceived in me in plain language. My services. You are your services to Krishna. That’s your eternal identity, servant of Krishna. And in the spiritual world we have our svarupa siddhi, sthayi-bhava, one main function that we do for Krishna, siddha-deha, in our eternal form. That will be revealed to us one day, what kind of a self we will be for Krishna, and we will offer him that service in Goloka. Now we serve as sadhakas, chanting and hearing and preaching.
“When Prabhupada said that answer, I was completely delighted and in love with it. I went downstairs and strummed on the double bass that I had given to the temple, and I was just happy that he had answered in that way. He showed me his love, his recognition of me.”
“I may meditate on the time when Prabhupada allowed me to massage his body. Sitting here now in summertime reminds me of being in India with Prabhupada:
“It’s time for the massage and even before you begin, perspiration is dripping down your sides. Prabhupada is sitting in his gamcha on a kusa grass mat, waiting for you to begin. His body is small—not very small, but not a big fatty body. You kneel in front of him. Carefully pour a few drops of mustard oil from the bottle onto your hands. You begin massaging his head, making those small, almost pinching motions (which he showed you) with your fingers. Prabhupada is withdrawn, but he occasionally speaks.
“After ten minutes, he gives just the slightest indication with his head, and that means you should now go around his back. You put more mustard oil on your hands. But when you begin to touch him he says, ‘Too much oil.’ You put some back into the bottle, and a drop spills. ‘Don’t waste,’ Prabhupada says.
“Now you’re working. You rub as best you can, starting at the bottom of his back where there is light fattiness at the hips. Prabhupada moves under your hands, but you try not to shake him. You work with two hands, all the way up to the horizontal lines at the back of his neck, and then his shoulders again and then the whole back again. The back takes the longest time. It’s not up to you to decide how long to massage, and you don’t want to be a quitter. You know you’ve been a quitter sometimes with the night massage.
“After a while you move to his front and start to do his chest and around the heart. And then you do his belly. Sometimes you use only one hand because it’s hard to get at, but two if you can. You do it facing him. Don’t rush, take the time to do it as nicely as you can. Then you start on his left shoulder, gently massaging the slender bicep, massaging all the way down. You pull the fingers straight forward as he showed you. One finger makes a little cracking sound, which Prabhupada likes to happen. But not all of them pop like that. Then you start the other arm and do the same thing working down. You pull the fingers and get one or two pops. Then you start the left leg and work all the way down and do his foot. You remember, ‘These are the lotus feet of the spiritual master.’ His foot is pink on the bottom. Then the other leg, and finally, it’s finished.
“‘All right,’ he says, and he takes the mustard oil himself and puts a few drops in each nostril, then in his ears, and in his navel. Then he gets up and goes to his bath.
“Now is the time to rush and get everything else done before he comes out of the bath. See that his clean clothes are put out on the bed. See that the devotee who is making his lunch has it ready to serve hot on time. But I cannot stay there now. . . .
“The massage is a gift, an offer of service by Prabhupada from the past to the present. I asked him for service and he gave me this massage. Now I have to come back to meditation at my desk. But I know that it’s possible for Prabhupada to give me his association just like he did before, by various forms of service.”
“Srila Prabhupada dealt with everyone successfully. One did not feel, ‘I have to be alone with him.’ Rather, one felt glad to be with the others. You wanted their company. When Prabhupada was no longer able to give you darsana because of his work, you could spend time with his other devotees. You talked with them about what Prabhupada had done and said, and together you formed groups to carry out his instructions.
“Prabhupada’s followers contain some of his qualities. They tell us about Prabhupada. They help us to serve him. Sometimes Lord Caitanya even appeared to reject a devotee, but His followers rallied around that devotee and encouraged him. They did this with Kala Krsnadasa, who misbehaved when the Lord was touring South India. Lord Caitanya brought Kala Krsnadasa back to Jagannatha Puri and said, ‘Now he can go wherever he wants. I am no longer responsible for him.’ However, the devotees, led by Lord Nityananda, gave the rejected servant a new service, and sent him to Bengal to inform the devotees that Lord Caitanya had returned to Jagannatha Puri. Similarly, the devotees of Prabhupada will help us in our connection with him. Even if we think we have failed and lost our connection, Prabhupada’s devotees are kind and they will pick us up. They are part of our meditation of His Divine Grace.”
“1969, Brooklyn Botanical Gardens
Passersby stopped to hear as
Prabhupada told of Krsna in Vrndavana,
and he asked each disciple to stand and speak.
While the first devotee stood
I prepared my remarks
for when he would look my way, ‘Satsvaroop.’
He told the passersby
we are attracted to country places
because our original home is Goloka Vrndavana.
Brahmananda asked, ‘How is your health?’
Prabhupada replied, ‘The windows are broken
but there is a light on inside.’
A few weeks later, devotees went back
to the Brooklyn Botanical Gardens, and they tried
to recapture the spirit of the first visit.
This time two of the girls were dressed as Radha and Krsna,
but without Prabhupada, the whole thing
turned into prakrta-sahajiya.
What stories did he tell in the garden?
I can’t recall now,
but while riding on a plane
or when someone is talking to me,
I’ll recall what he said
and what it was like
to stand up
under the gaze of Prabhupada
and say what Krsna consciousness
means to me.”
“I make it a big deal that I’m still alive
and Prabhupada has ‘disappeared’
as if it’s a huge difference between us, and yet
it’s just a thin wall soon broken through.
wherever I go, will I be able
to follow your instructions?
Why haven’t I asked this before?
Why can’t I know the answer?
You said, ‘Yes, the ecstasy of separation
from the spiritual master
is greater than the ecstasy of meeting with him.’
Then let me touch this absence of you
and celebrate it while walking down a hill
strewn with green weeds and flowers.
At every moment as long as I live
I want to consecrate myself to you
and bring you more disciples.
My end will come soon
but now counts too—
as I wake you from your bed
and carry you to your vyasasana
and wash your face
and look upon your form with care
and fix your japa mala in your hand
and sing to you and put your chadar on your shoulders
and bow down again and again.”
“The word preaching refers to many things. Preaching means printing and distributing Krsna conscious literature. It means holding festivals like Ratha-yatra and utilizing ‘cultural weapons,’ including art and theater, to inform the public about the teachings of the Bhagavad-gita. Preaching means meeting people on the street, in the college classroom, and in the home and telling them about Krsna. It means engaging people at ISKCON temples and farm communities. It means showing families how they can practice bhakti-yoga in their homes and how they can serve Lord Krsna through their occupation. Preaching means raising and educating children for returning to the spiritual world. Preaching enters into all spheres of life, including social action, economics, and politics. And wherever the preacher goes, he glorifies the Supreme Personality of Godhead.
“Rupa Gosvami has explained that a devotee should never renounce anything that can be used in the service of Krsna. Even material objects like telephones, computers, jet planes, and automobiles may be used to broadcast Krsna’s message. And when used in pure devotional service, any material object becomes a spiritualized instrument. For distributing Krsna consciousness there should be no restriction. Furthermore, devotional service is applicable in any country and for any person, in any condition of life.
“We have been stressing exemplary behavior, yet it cannot be done in a vacuum—it cannot be done without preaching. In fact, preaching activities are the essence of right behavior for a Vaisnava. Narada Muni is an exemplary preacher, and Srila Prabhupada recommends that all devotees follow in Narada’s footsteps: ‘Their only business is to chant and remember the holy name, fame and pastimes of the Lord and, according to personal capacity, to distribute the message for others welfare without motive of material gain.’ (Bhag. 1.6.26, purport)”
“Once there were some discrepancies in the New York temple. Many years later, Gopal KrsnaMaharaja told me he recommended me to go to New York and take over. Supposedly Prabhupada said to him, ‘Satsvarupa is a perfect gentleman, but he is not a good manager.’ When Gopal KrsnaMaharaja told me this, I was pleased. I suppose I was a little disappointed that Prabhupada said I wasn’t a good manager, but I already knew that. That he thought I was a perfect gentleman was an honor.
“Sometime in the 1970s Prabhupada wrote me a letter in which he said, ‘You are not a good manager, but I keep you on the GBC because you do what I say.’ This was also a mixed remark. Prabhupada had trouble with some of his leaders (managers) because they acted independently and were disobedient. This disturbed him. Someone once criticized me in front of other GBC men and referred to this letter. They said, ‘Prabhupada says you are not a good manager.’ ‘Yah,’ said Kirtanananda Maharaja, ‘but what did he say in the other half of the letter?’ So I was kept on the supreme managerial body because in me Prabhupada had a man he could trust to do what he said. I felt mixed emotions again, but mostly good feelings for the personal trust he expressed.
“Now I am out of management. I resigned from the GBC in 1986 because of migraine headaches. . . I managed by writing and making a book or poem come out nicely. If I can be a gentleman in Prabhupada’s eyes and do what he wanted, I will be satisfied.”
“Srila Prabhupada was extremely tolerant of physical discomforts. One morning while Prabhupada was staying in his quarters at the Radha-Damodara temple, the devotee who was making Prabhupada’s bed found one of Prabhupada’s back teeth under the pillow. It had fallen right out, and Prabhupada had placed it under the pillow without telling anyone.
“Soon afterwards, he contracted a bad infection in his leg. One of his toes had been cut and had become infected. The infection spread, and Prabhupada’s leg became red and swollen to the middle of his calf. Prabhupada had a poultice made of nim leaves, turmeric, and mustard oil, and he made a bandage of banana leaves. The infection finally began to subside after five days. Although it must have been very painful, Prabhupada never complained, nor did he reduce his preaching. In public he hardly even limped, so that no one knew he was suffering.
“In May of 1977, Srila Prabhupada traveled to Hrisikesh to regain his health. His party included Tamala Krsna Goswami, Trivikrama Swami, and Pramana Swami, who accompanied him across the Ganges by motor launch to Svarga Ashram. (Svarga Ashram was a guesthouse owned by a Mr. D. P. Mandelia, and it was said to be the finest in Hrishikesh.) Upon arrival, Prabhupada asked the devotees to buy him some kacauris and jallebis, and he ate them with great relish. Then he asked for Ganges water to be drawn from the center of the river and brought to him.
“There was some delay in getting earthen water jugs, so Tamala Krsna Goswami took a Thermos bottle, dove into the river, swam to the center, and then returned to Prabhupada with a full bottle of water.
“Prabhupada was taking his massage, but when Tamala Krsna Goswami arrived dripping wet with the Thermos bottle, Prabhupada immediately drank the cool, clear Ganges water. Immediately he belched. He said that such belching indicated that his stomach had accepted the water. Prabhupada then had the devotees fill buckets with Ganges water and set them in the sun to heat for his bath.
“Several days later Caitya-guru dasa arrived from Chandigarh with a box of nice fruits—mangoes, cherries, plums, apples and lichees. When Prabhupada saw the lichees he immediately wanted to taste some. He said that as a little boy, his father always kept lichees hanging on the wall and he would ask for them.”
“Devotees sometimes try to guess what was on Prabhupada’s mind. Whenever this question comes up, someone inevitably quotes the familiar saying, vaisnavera kriya mudra vijne na bujhaya, ‘One cannot understand the mind of the Vaisnava.’ Prabhupada sometimes added, ‘Nor should one try to inquire into his previous life.’ The meaning of this verse may also be extended to mean that people should not criticize an acarya or try to give him advice. Prabhupada makes this point in Nectar of Instruction: “The spiritual master must not be subjected to the advice of a disciple, nor should a spiritual master be obliged to take instructions from those who are not his disciples. This is the sum and substance of Srila Riipa Gosvami’s advice in the sixth verse.’ (Nectar of Instruction, text 6, purport).
“It is especially important for disciples not to try to second-guess their guru. I remember in the beginning days at 26 Second Avenue, devotees sometimes wondered, ‘When does Prabhupada actually talk to Krsna? Maybe he does it in his sleep.’ For awhile, there was even speculation whether Prabhupada was actually Krsna Himself. The disciple can only understand things rightly when they are explained by the acarya according to sastra and sadhu. It is stated in the Caitanya-caritamrta, ‘Although I know that my spiritual master is a servitor of Sri Caitanya, I know him also as a plenary manifestation of the Lord.’ (Cc., Adi 1.44).
“Interpretations on the position of the spiritual master are probably inevitable though. I remember once hearing some devotees talking about japa. One devotee said that we should chant very intently and call out to Krsna. Japa, when done rightly, is an intense experience, either of love of God or of aspiring for love of God. But another devotee countered this by saying, ‘I’ve heard Srila Prabhupada chanting japa on a tape. I don’t mean to speculate about the mind of the acarya, but his voice sounds very regular and not particularly emotional.’ This is an example of someone making a judgment based on an external perception of the guru’s activities. He heard the guru’s voice and decided that he wasn’t chanting Hare Krsna with much emotion. From that, he concluded that he was chanting ‘like Prabhupada.’
“We do not know how Prabhupada chants, although we can hear the sound of his chanting. Neither do we know what he thinks about when he chants. He was not obliged to reveal these things to us. He sometimes quoted Jesus Christ’s statement, ‘There are many things I have to tell you, but you cannot bear to hear them now.’ Prabhupada said, ‘Yes, the acarya knows things, but he does not tell everything to the disciples.’ Lord Caitanya also followed this principle. Although He was so deeply immersed in the conjugal rasa, He spoke about Radha and Krsna’s pastimes to only a very intimate few. We can be certain that Prabhupada did not reveal everything on his mind to us. Even if we were to ask him, ‘What do you think of when you chant, Prabhupada?”, it is unlikely he would reveal his innermost state.”
“All this is digression. I want to get back to my serious point and find a new way to present Prabhupada’s Krsna consciousness. A way about which he will say, ‘Very nice.’ Just as when he approved the halavah that I made in Hong Kong, and when he approved the sak that I took a long time to learn to make from his sister.
“‘Now you have got it right,’ he said. That was a happy moment—when I knew how to make it and could continue to make it without having to do it new. Just keep it steady. Make it accessible to the people. I have to go make a meal that Americans will like and don’t find greasy or foreign. Not find too incomprehensible.
“You’re only as old as you feel you are. Forget that you ever had headaches. Forget those barnacles on your eyes. Forget, forget, and remember Krsna, remember the newness flying up like new fires from the volcano, the new volcano that just comes today and there will be one tomorrow. And as long as I live ‘just like’ Krsna, you know what I mean, the best facsimile a sincere, puny poet can offer with body and mind.
“It sounds as if I saw no help in sight, no silver bullet from the medications. The counseling I was receiving from Nanda was helpful. We could talk very confidentially, and he had some counseling skills from a course he took in helping others this way. Especially when I was in a broken down condition, his counseling was constructive. He made me see things were not hopeless and that I would eventually improve my Krsna consciousness. He made me not give up hope. He encouraged me that the migraines will eventually lessen and that much of it was psychological, which I could overcome by resting and associating with my supportive devoted friends in Philo. They were all supportive and made me feel better. The counselor would sometimes become confrontational. I could take that from him, because I knew he meant well. He didn’t demand that I give up disciples or anything like that. But he confronted me to look deep within myself and see and do what I actually wanted to do. That was sometimes difficult—to face myself.”
“7.4 A Krsna conscious devotees work hard at being honest. We receive training to see through the cheating methods of many kinds of bogus teachers and followers. And so we should be alert that the cheaters not enter within our camp.
“One of the most prominent falsities is the pseudo-devotee, the prakrta-sahajiya. He claims too easily that he has entered the most intimate exchanges with Radha and Krsna in the rasa dance. But devotees know that one cannot enter into the conjugal affairs with Krsna unless one is free from all mundane sex desires. We have to ask ourselves, ‘Am I free of material desires?’ In honesty we will not imitate the symptoms of advanced ecstasy such as tears, rolling on the ground, etc. No play-acting.
“But there is no hopelessness or nihilism for the devotee. He knows that Krsna is in his heart. Unfortunately, we have closed ourselves to Him. One Vedic verse states, ‘How can Lord Krsna who is known as Mukunda, and whose face is as beautiful as a lotus flower, appear in the heart of one who is still corrupted with material desires?’ We know that merely mechanical chanting and serving will not move Lord Krsna to reveal Himself to us.”
Hope he doesn’t interrupt
let me get this done
Hare Krishna’s pennyworth
I blessed and died in happy
consciousness, oh yeah, we
know all about that.
Penworth is snuffing
out the mice worth
hurts worth a meek
seething fellow like you.
Dancing Smithworths I took
an airplane and found there
were no people on it except
every seat soon filled up.
It wasn’t good what I
looked for in the crevices
of my heart.
He hoped I would be
better than the average batter
but I couldn’t swing with
any force or speed
to meet the ball.
heart, said Lalita, is
right this moment –
don’t you think – seeking the path to Your
Radha believed that so
the universe was spared
devastation by Her
bhava of sorrow in separation.
You really believe that?
Instead of a vague old power
God? But if Radha is so
absorbed in Krishna, what about
all of us?
Oh, we ended a zany session
the world may know its
Hare! Hare! Don’t despair
secret message force
under my external words.
Tell them bhakti surge can
save the world/be relaxed
to say “soul in body.”
I didn’t want to forget you
Holly grows in winter.
Rain doesn’t hinder
a merry man.
You juice your organ
plan namamisvaram at
night by candle and
glow of Damodara.
I take what comes like
wet leaves fallen
and my despairs and perks.
Be of interest to pick it up
he goes to read a book –
a woman gets angry at her
doesn’t want to cook,
is late in her arati.
Tells her guru all this.
He says it’s just fine.
The tires rub out,
the tape, the close consulate
Mister, could you consider walking
backward as the flow of
pedestrians approach and extend
your Styrofoam cup to
Your face is cut?
Listen, consider this
rain and universe has a
purpose, we were born
here after the flood, first
comes fish species then later,
much later, humans and their
Oh, by the way, Krishna’s lotus feet
are imprinted and His pure devotee
gives shelter, I thought you’d like
to know I end all
poems this way because it’s
Forget it not.
The window is smeared
with rain. I have petty
resentment when I’m left
alone. But I don’t think
I want a basic change
involving living with brothers
in a sannyasi guestroom,
talking and eating with them,
me lecturing, them hearing,
them lecturing, me sitting up
and hearing and getting headaches
and telling them about my head-
aches and hearing the head-
aches of ISKCON and too
late or soon recalling
I don’t want this even
if it means I’m considered
a babaji – but throw
me into that briar patch
Oh, I hope we’ll always
be able to please
praise Lord Hari
in this measure of
one like it. But no,
it will be ended soon –
He played that night and
it was recorded, save
it for us here again
Hare Krishna, Hare Krishna, I’ve
heard the special stories
of Their Lordships.
Forward movement is what
they call it when a player
is able to keep moving under
“his own power” but actually
I’m aware it’s same old
thing, Mott Street gang,
dreams really mix
The Lord, His
Consort called out
His name and created
a golden glow,
wanted only to make Her
my disciple, your disciple,
the rain’s disciple
the disciples’ freedom
the boot’s heel, the
mantras awakening, the
the ride home safe – his
mother ill, he at her
bedside and I phone him –
is nothing discreet?
Listen! My legs twitch
as omens – I had an idea
we could travel around the
No, too many snakes,
I don’t think you could be up
to it at your age
Bring the mind back to
Lord Krishna, can you?
I don’t know how
it’s easy. You just adjust
your eyeglasses and underwear
good fortune. Hare Krishna
He gave me this holy name.
Believe it on time
let that drummer go!
Let my people go.”
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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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.