My request to all my disciples, not just the book production team, is that you please help me reprint all the books that are now out of print (and some that have not yet been printed at all). It’s a daunting task, but it’s my gift to my disciples, and my readers in general. Prabhupada gave me this service of writing, and I have done my best to live up to that request and order. I have written in many different genres, and also written experimental books which will be appreciated by readers in the future. Please help me to fulfill my legacy. We need typists, proofreaders, layout and design people, and if you don’t have those skills you can consider gaining them and learning them for the long haul. A good example is my deceased disciple Lalitamrta devi dasi. She wasn’t a good speller and she didn’t know how to type, but she wanted to help me produce my books. She taught herself how to type by taking a few courses, and with practice her spelling got better. She became one of the main typists and would accompany me on many writing retreats. If for some reason I pass away before all the books are reprinted, I expect my disciples to finish the mission before they die.
We are introducing a new protocol at Viraha Bhavan to deal with the reality of new variants of COVID that are affecting the nation. Anyone at the ashram who goes out into the public will have to wear a mask. Any visitors to the house will have to first take a fifteen minute home test and wear a mask the whole time they’re with me. Since we’re not talking during lunchtime but listening to the out-loud reading, my guests will be asked to sit in the middle room and take lunch there. And they can still hear the reading from there. Since we will have already had a meeting upstairs, there’s no need for chit-chat at the dinner table after the reading, which lasts from 1:00-2:30 PM. (Guests have to take the test in our heated barn before coming into the house.) We have to do these protocol measures just to protect the devotees who are living here and are so essential to keep the ashram running nicely.
Krsna dasi changed the dress and cleaned Radha-Govinda today. It’s a beautiful Vrajavasi outfit. The main color is cream or off-white. Radharani has two very visible peacocks on Her skirt—green and blue. She has another prominent peacock on Her veil. Govinda has two visible peacocks on His shawl. The dress is very beautiful. Krsna dasi keeps a very high standard by changing Their dress every three days. Govinda wears a turquoise turban with a jaunty peacock feather. At the end of Govinda’s flute there is a jeweled peacock. (And the backdrop has a male and female peacock and peahen.) The peacock is very much associated with krsna-lila. They have nice necklaces, and Govinda’s shin is mostly exposed. The altar is covered with five kinds of flowers, including black-eyed susans, dahlias, zinnias, white daisies and marigolds. The Prabhupada Sena devotee, Narottama, gave us a healthy tulasi with many green leaves, and even manjaris. The tulasi plant is standing in a clay pot right next to Radha-Govinda.
Our roses for the Deities are being attacked by Japanese beetles, cabbage worms, aphids, etc. The moral question is whether to kill the insects and protect Krsna’s flowers or be nonviolent? There are two strong opinions among devotees. Some say wash the flowers with light soapy water, but this is not effective. With one rainfall, the soapy water disappears. The mixture may irritate the bugs, but they come back again, and some of them also get killed by the soapy water. Soapy water would be an organic way to protect the flowers. The opposite end of the spectrum is to use strong commercial poison, which outright kills all the bugs for over two weeks and takes very little time to apply. This is a strong consideration for us, with limited staff of workers. We have thirty-five to forty rosebushes to take care of. Baladeva has chosen the commercial poison, which is more effective and longer-lasting, and because it’s for the Deities, he feels there’ll be some consideration as far as karma is concerned. We feel we’re like ksatriyas, and the bugs are the enemy. As far as tulasis are concerned, we take a less-aggressive stance and use organic sprays. And we’re only dealing with a few tulasi plants. If someone criticizes us and is willing to come here and pick the bugs off the flowers, then come on. (And bring your own bags to carry the bugs away.)
This week the weather is predicted to have temperatures in the 90s all week long, and temperatures even up to 100, and no rain is predicted. This creates another problem for the rose gardeners. We have a thousand dollar investment in our rose garden, and the whole garden is in jeopardy because it already has had several weeks of hot dry weather. And the roses were already suffering from that as well as from the bugs. We want to offer beautiful, aromatic roses, the most beautiful flower, to our beloved Deities. But our offering is threatened. We have purchased one hundred feet of soaker hose to deal with the no-water problem. Early in the morning, starting at 5:00 AM we turn on the soaker hoses so that the water gently seeps into the dirt without evaporating in the hot sun. We have a limited supply of water because we have a shallow well. So that’s another problem—limited water. Bugs and lack of water, those are our our two big problems this week. Out here in the country, we’re fighting. It’s a long hot summer. We are still picking a few roses every day, and we’re trying to preserve them until the end of the summer, when there’s another big bloom like in the spring.
Syama Gopa Rupa dasi gave me a report on the Gita Nagari Ratha-yatra. She said it was wonderful; eight hundred people attended. She set up a table for distributing my books. She wrote me that she sometimes feels discouraged about the book booth because it seems that devotees are mostly shopping for clothes rather than books. She sold a few books, but at the end of the day a new bhakta who stays at Gita Nagari came up and said, “What’s good? Sell me some books!” She said, “They’re all good,” and proceeded to describe the books to him. He said he had thirty dollars and quickly made a pile of books that exceeded that amount. She told him not to worry about it; she knows where he lives and they can work something out. Then another devotee showed up and began to glorify the writings and say how valuable they are. The bhakta then asked for more recommendations. His pile got bigger. He asked if they could take a credit card. The other devotee said he could, and the bhakta cleaned out his wallet, gave $80 cash and charged $70 to the other devotee. So the bhakta spent $150 when he planned to spend $30. I am grateful to Syama Gopa Rupa because she always sets up a book table, and even if she doesn’t sell many, she’s always determined to try again. And Guru dasa is so enthusiastic to glorify the books; he’s a good salesman.
Here are the books the bhakta purchased:
Journal and Poems, Volumes 1-3
My Letters from Srila Prabhupada, Volumes 1-3
Prabhupada Meditations, Volumes 1-2
Poems: A Retrospective, Volume 1
Life with the Perfect Master
Calling Out to Srila Prabhupada
The Qualities of Sri Krsna
My Dear Lord Krsna, Volume 2
I have been watching Daivisakti’s Sunday classes on the Srila Prabhupada-lilamrta. I wrote to her and told her that I have written sixteen books on Prabhupada after the SPL and asked her whether she could accommodate them in the library of the Krishna Balaram Mandir. She wrote back that the books were welcome, and I had to figure out how to get them there. She wrote that they already have twenty-six books, and not all of them were about Prabhupada. Recently a young Indian man named Akash has been visiting our ashram and doing service. He has told us that he’s about to make a trip to India to visit his family and go to the holy places. He agreed to carry my books, twenty book that they don’t have in the library. He has already stopped by to pick up the books, and he’s leaving in two days. Akash’s offering was very generous because the books are heavy, and he has to carry an extra suitcase to accommodate them.
Damodar and Kirtan Rasa visited me today. Damodar told me about the new Atlanta temple that he is involved with. The temple president is Visnu-citta. Damodar works so closely with the men down there that they jokingly call him a “GBC.” The actual GBC man who covers Atlanta is Devamrta Swami. He went down and visited the new Atlanta temple and liked it very much. He even went out on book distribution with the great distributor Mahotsaha, who is the number one distributor in the whole country. They took a photo of Devamrta Swami clinching a sale of a set of Bhagavatams, with Mahotsaha, smiling with arms upraised, in the background. The new temple is a success in many ways. They have recruited new devotees, and the men now number twenty. Six matajis also live there in separate quarters and distribute books. Eighty people come each week for the Sunday feast. The combination of harinama and book distribution is strong there.
I am re-reading the manuscript of California Search for Gold. When I first started reading, I thought that I definitely didn’t want to publish it as a book. It starts off with all free-writing and no plot. After about 100 pages, a plot emerges: Swami Rupa (or Swami Jim) has chronic migraines. Because of constant pain and the medicine, he’s not able to chant his sixteen rounds. But he aspires to, and one day he chants sixteen rounds, only to slip back the next day. But the plot of the book is his attempt to make it back to sixteen, which he finally does as he stabilizes himself at the end of the book. There’s a comic character in the manuscript who’s trying to sell the Swami a script for his book. He tries several different approaches, and the Swami turns them all down. Then the scriptwriter submits one that says the author should make his book fictional and claim that he’s chanting sixteen rounds again. The Swami says he can’t do that if it’s not actually true—it would be hypocritical. So I’ve got a basic plot, and it’s interesting and Krsna conscious. But there are too many digressions in the manuscript. So I’m mostly thinking that I’ll post it only as an e-book on SDGLegacy.com and not make a regular book about it. I still have a lot of pages to read, so I haven’t definitely decided.
Seven men from Prabhupada Sena came today to work more on the renovation of our barn building. They finished scraping and power-washing the old paint off the building. A neighbor walked by and said this is the first time the building has been painted in thirty years. So you can imagine what it looked like. They were able to paint two-thirds of the building with two coats of fresh paint. But they’ll have to come again to do one big side of the building because it was still too wet today from the power-washing.
Three men had to leave after lunch, but the others went back to work. I’ll have a darsana with the four remaining men at 5:00 when they’ve finished their day’s work.
I’ve stopped reading Jaiva-dharma without completing it. I found the book had too much technical philosophy. I prefer reading Krsna’s pastimes, as I’m posting in the poems of Rupa and Raghunatha Gosvami. I skimmed through many chapters of Jaiva-dharma but then left some unread and stopped there.
Hemamukhi and her mother Mira return home today after staying a week keeping company with Krsna dasi. I thanked Hemamukhi for coming and giving her association to Krsna dasi. Hemamukhi said because I say that, her husband lets her come here. Then I said her husband Vidvam is attached to his wife and to his beautiful new red car. Baladeva said, “If you asked him, I wonder if he would be more attached to his wife or the car?” Hemamukhi said, “I don’t know if I want to know the answer to that!”
Hemamukhi is leaving to catch a bus in Queens. It holds fifty devotees who will ride overnight and arrive at Gita-nagari on time for mangala-arati. After the morning program they will attend the Ratha-yatra, spend the day there for the festivities and then return home. During the summer they do this with the bus for Philadelphia Ratha-yatra, Boston Ratha-yatra and the New Vrndavana festival.
“(SDG Note to Readers: “If Krsna wills, I will post this poem in installments.”)
“1) O friend Rupa-manjari, although you are a famous and important person in this town, still you cannot see the face of the Supreme Personality of Godhead standing before you. Your husband is not here, and yet there is a mark on the bimba fruits of your lips as if someone has bitten them. Did a great parrot bite them?
2) O lotus tree, on the pretext of this bunch of new blossoms you are now broadly smiling in this forest. You have every right to be proud. After all, the black Krsna-like bee has left all the fragrant flower vines, and He is now searching for the pathway to you.
3) O Rati-manjari, in the King of Vraja’s city, where many gopis live, you are the most pious of all. That is why you are now going to a cave, requested by your Queen to search for the belt that She forgot in the midst of many pastimes.
4) Let me surrender to my spiritual master, Yadunandana Acarya. A powerful and dear devotee of the Supreme Lord, Yadunandana, he sprinkled the nectar of his mercy upon me.
5) I worship Lord Caitanya-candra, the supremely independent ocean of mercy, who with His ropes of mercy quickly lifted me from the endlessly troublesome great dry well of household life, from which escape is very difficult, who gave me the shelter of His feet, which rebuke the lotuses, and who gave me to Svarupa Damodara Gosvami.
6) I was unwilling to drink the nectar of devotional service possessed of renunciation, but Sanatana Gosvami, out of his causeless mercy, made me drink even though I was otherwise unable to do so. Therefore he is an ocean of mercy. He is very much compassionate to fallen souls like me, and thus it is my duty to offer my respectful obeisances unto his lotus feet.
7) O Queen, a certain maidservant, overwhelmed with love and her heart always burning in the great fire of separation, laments in the following verses.
8) O Queen, please rescue this unfortunate person drowning in an ocean of pain. Place him on the strong boat of Your mercy and carry him to the wonderful realm of Your lotus feet.
9) O Queen, with the medicine of the red lac from Your lotus feet, please bring back to life this person now dead from the bites of the black snake of not seeing You.
10) O Queen, with the nectar of a moment’s glance, please restore the life of this gopi maidservant of Your lotus feet, who now burns in the great forest fire of separation from You.
11) O beautiful=faced one, when, even in a dream, will I, by decorating my head with the splendid perfume’s powder of Your lotus feet, attain the goal of my life?
12) O beautiful one, when will the sound of Your ankle bells, sprinkling drops from an ocean of nectar, cure my deafness?
13) O Queen, with the two bumblebees of the corners of Your eyes, which in the moonlit rendezvous anxiously wander over each direction as if the forest were a jungle of blue lotuses, will You glance upon this person?
14) O Queen of Vrndavana, since Rupa-manjari filled my eyes with life in the land of Vraja, I have yearned to see the red lac decorating Your lotus feet.
15) O Queen whose eyes are as beautiful as two blossoming lotus flowers, when Your lake, filled with sweet water and splendid with many blossoming lotus flowers and buzzing bees, appears before my eyes, I at once began to yearn for the nectar of direct service to You.
(to be continued)
“Prabhupada sat down and began singing. Hayagriva with his full beard and checkered shirt was hitting the big cymbal with the drumstick. Swamiji accepted it.
With rough and ready hands (clap-clap-clap), we were like a group of peasants stomping their feet. Our sleeves were rolled up. Young men clapping as Swamiji sang the bhajana. The boys played off each other’s voices, so we wouldn’t get bored. The main thing, though, is to hear when the Swami sings. Then you sing.
“Look over at the others. Look at their faces moving back and forward with eyes closed. Look up at the Swami. Each one is into his own experience, but you are all together. You are not longtime friends, but there is a bond.
“This thick-bodied clapping keeps the kirtana solid. It helps concentration; it is what Swamiji invites.
“The kids are at the door. Trucks grinding gears. We are bunched at the Swamiji’s feet in that one part of the universe, drawing from the kirtana that he is giving—and they can’t get at us now. Hare Krsna, Hare Krsna, Krsna Krsna, Hare Hare/Hare Rama, Hare Rama, Rama Rama, Hare Hare.”
“Therefore, it is not unusual to meet devotees who never met Prabhupada who strongly feel his personal presence in their lives. No devotee is barred from associating with Prabhupada and serving him in a tangible, surrendered way. Prabhupada is a moveable ‘feast.’ He is our constant companion. We just have to accept him as teacher and follow his instructions, and he will teach and instruct us.
What we are talking about here is Prabhupada meditation. We have to be thoughtful, attentive. One process of meditation is to chant Prabhupada’s name over and over. Prabhupada has affirmed for us that as we chant Krsna’s holy name, so we can chant the names of the devotees. Lord Caitanya Himself exemplified this principle by chanting the names of the gopis. Let us chant Prabhupada’s names many times, or at least a few times with heartfelt feeling. ‘Prabhupada’—just by chanting that name, we can be saved from maya.”
“Chanting went better this morning. The stopwatch helped. Sleepiness usually comes before you are aware of it. Then you become slightly aware of it, but it pulls you down and you don’t act. So the stopwatch gives you an early warning. If I see that a full ten minutes have gone by and the summit bead is not in sight, then I know I must be spacing out. This is strictly beginner’s stuff, but I won’t pretend I’m above it. Also, I’m eager to get one of those bottles that emits a fine spray of water to use when I feel drowsy. Sleepiness can actually be beaten by devices like this. The use of devices indicates a will for reform, so they are important tools. Later they won’t be needed. This morning, I also strictly avoided sitting down for that stretch between 4-5:30 A.M. Gradually one can learn many of the tricks of the mind and ways to uproot bad habits.”
“The three hearings from Prabhupada’s books are the most important. My ears are clear and attentive as I honor prasadam. My friends read clearly and with devotion. We don’t interrupt to make comments. I don’t retain so thoroughly, but I pay attention while the reading is going on. I think I do have a general long-term memory, which I can call upon if required. For example, we are reading the life of Lord Caitanya in biographical sketch. So I retained the story of the brahmana who comes to Jagannatha Misra’s house and how the child Visvambhara spoiled his offering three times. I can recite it before an audience. I retain the Lord’s spoiling of the young girls’ offerings to Shiva and Durga as they pray for a good husband. He interfered and told them to make the offering to Him instead. He cursed them that if they did not give the offerings to Him they would get old husbands who had seven children by a previous marriage. But if they made their offerings to Him they would get a beautiful young husband. The girls were inwardly pleased with the Lord’s threats and teasings, but they complained to their elders. I will not forget that. I will remember the Lord’s disturbing the brahmanas while they tried to say gayatri mantras standing in the Ganges. He would dive under the water and catch them by the legs and knock them over. That is not an exaggeration of the text. I will always remember that some students came upon the Lord while He was chanting the names of the gopis (because He was always in gopi bhava). The students were stupid and accused the Lord of misbehavior for chanting the gopis’ names. They said He should chant Krsna’s name instead. He chased after the students, but they gathered in another place and made angry plans to strike the Lord if He ever attacked them again. The Lord was affected by rumors and criticisms that resulted as a cause of this incident. He decided to take sannyasa in order to get respect from all persons and better preach the sankirtana movement. He approached Kesava Bharati Maharaj and asked him to grant Him sannyasa. I remember a lot of details although I may forget them with time unless I hear them again.
“I just now heard of the surrender of Sarvabhauma Bhattacarya to the Lord. The scholar was so impressed with the Lord Caitanya’s analysis of the Vedanta Sutra and the atmarama verse that he concluded the Lord could not be a mere mortal being. He composed a hundred verses in honor of the Lord, two of which are most important. One says that Lord Caitanya has descended to this earth to teach detachment and devotion to Himself. I offer my humble obeisances unto Him.
“I must keep hearing so I will keep remembering. Of all the rules and regulations in the Vedas the most important is to hear and remember Krsna always.”
“‘I asked Prabhupada dasa in Dublin to do research in Meister Eckhart’s writings on the theme of Christ being born within you. I seem to recall Eckhart saying that the historical birth of Christ, as wonderful as it is for everyone (observed each year at Christmas) doesn’t have meaning unless one ‘gives birth to Christ within oneself.’ I wanted to say something like that in a lecture on Janmastami. I have many favorite sections that I can speak on, and I don’t really need more, but this is an essential one. However, can I make it more than a merely clever viewpoint? How can Krsna be born in us? If I spring it on the devotees that morning, they’d have to first undergo some conception and pregnancy? What would I mean? Isn’t He already born in us? We say ‘yes,’ but . . . we don’t much think about it personally. ‘Please come to me and appear in me,’ who dares ask?
“’Here we read that Krsna appeared out of His own sweet pleasure, so what’s the point in asking Him to come? Because He said it in Bhagavad-gita that He wants us to think of Him. It all seems slow in me, and yet my time is short. We usually think a woman has to give birth before she’s forty. What are my chances at a late stage? It’s always possible. Good things like walnut trees, take a long time to fructify.
“‘I am however, waiting for that, for Krsna to appear in me more than He has done so far. I don’t want to peter out with less and less Krsna consciousness due to old age and disease. I like my Krsna consciousness to flourish. You become more auspicious, and even as you die you are not condemned but auspicious. The peaceful devotee goes to Krsna because he’s full of Krsna.
“‘I used to try to visualize the situation—peace and prosperity in all directions. Auspicious stars in the sky and peace in the minds of everyone. For that to happen many things have to change, and miraculously they do. Whether you know it or not, Krsna is about to appear. But be careful about imagining (pretending) it’s happening in you as if you are a messiah, the only one carrying Krsna. On Janmastami He comes to everyone on the earth. (Yes, but especially to Devaki and Vasudevan, and all His devotees.)
“‘The brahmanas had not been able to light sacrificial fires because of Kamsa’s persecutions, but now they found they could do it peacefully. Suddenly, you get facility. The “Kamsa” of inattention has been preventing me from chanting with awareness of God’s presence, but if krsna-nama will appear in me, I’ll suddenly be able to light the fire of sankirtana-yajna.’
—EJW 31: All You Need Is Krsna (Part 2), pp. 24–25”
“Hare Krsna, you better get your quota in, the hour is getting late. Nice sunny day, wind rustling the August trees and I’m pain-free. Of course, I’m a spirit soul and so always pain-free but I don’t know that. I live in conditioned consciousness. I have forgotten my relationship with Krsna and am trying to revive it. Read out loud and recording Sri Hamsaduta with Madhu. Radha’s suffering in separation as related to Lalita is completely beyond my experience. It seems strange to remain ‘pain-free’ and sit listening or reading in an easy chair about Her extreme despair. She’s kept alive only by one friend, Her hope that Krsna may return.
“Hearing of Her serves to underscore the separation that we do know. We have a dull separation of the conditioned soul. Our grief is covered over. We don’t want to discover it. We want to be happy in relative forgetfulness of Krsna. But that’s not possible. One has to go through the intense feelings of love and separation, especially if one wants to follow Krsna in the mood of the gopis.
“Remembering Srila Prabhupada also requires feelings of separation. So, I think it will be good for me to hear repeatedly this very sad tale by Lalita to Krsna. It may open up the actual feelings of separation. I will grow in worshipful respect for what Sri Radha goes through, even if I can’t understand it. (EJW 31: All You Need Is Krsna)”
“The praises of the guru reach Krsna through the disciplic succession. Just see that you don’t grab onto them for your own gratification. Number one priority is your own integrity. You can’t get it just by going along with the laws of ISKCON or by defying laws. You are responsible in an individual way. Srila Prabhupada said, ‘Don’t be satisfied that you have understood . . . . This should be distributed.’
“The facts are ‘impossible’ by modern standards of history and physics and current opinion. They say how could Vyasa have lived five thousand years ago, how could Krsna be God? They don’t believe. The spiritual master believes and teaches. It’s a hard thing. You believe what you are teaching? Yes, but I can’t exactly say why. Srimad-Bhagavatam, Bhagavad-gita . . . . Because he taught it, I became convinced. I’m living it. Live it openly and honestly by writing. If someone comes along and wants to be a devotee, I can help him. But I don’t claim . . . Tell them, ‘I am trying to be a disciple of Srila Prabhupada. I can give you the link to him. His movement, ISKCON.’ What is a guru? Do I know? Do I know Krsna? Do I know anything? Hold on to the steady—accept Vedic knowledge. Hari-nama in this age. Actually, in one sense I shouldn’t be a spiritual master. But I do it. We do it. I beg Srila Prabhupada to accept me, Lord Krsna, please accept me. Let me clear my mind and self of these doubts and disqualifications, so that I may serve others in a Krsna conscious way. Nothing else to do with my life.
“Now chant and try to hear. The same thing. The curtain parted, holy sound heard in the inner recess of your self, despite noise.
(EJW 32: Going on Holidays pp. 68–69)”
“When Krsna appeared on the battlefield of Kuruksetra, He was about ninety-years old, Prabhupada said. By that time in His life, Krsna had married 16,108 wives. Each of His wives had ten children by the Lord, and each of those children had married and had their own children as well. So Krsna was a great-grandfather with a family numbering in the millions, and yet He looked like a beautiful youth of no more than sixteen or twenty years old. Whenever I hear these ‘fantastic’ details of Krsna’s life, I put myself into the position of an innocent person who never heard of Krsna before. ‘What will they think?’ And then I remember how I first thought when I heard of Krsna and His wives and gopis.
“How did Srila Prabhupada convince us? He did it on the basis of perfect Vedic authority. He also gave the evidence of powerful scholars and sages who accept everything that Krsna says and does. Prabhupada explained: Since Krsna is the Supreme Personality of Godhead, nothing is impossible for Him. Why be astounded that He had 16,000 wives, since He lives in the hearts of all the innumerable living entities?
“I have become faithful in accepting the way that Prabhupada thinks about Krsna. When I hear that Krsna married 16,000 wives, I accept it calmly, because I accept Srila Prabhupada. I can empathize with the cynics, but I reject their reductionist explanation of Krsna consciousness. I can defend myself against the atheists, and yet I admit to this simple faith: I accept Krsna as God because Prabhupada said He is the Supreme Personality of Godhead.
“The acceptance of spiritual truths such as I’ve mentioned about Krsna and His superhuman lila is sometimes given the name ‘dogma.’ The dictionary definition of dogma is ‘a philosophical tenet; a theological doctrine authoritatively asserted; a principle or belief.’ In ordinary usage, dogma is derided as opposed to the truth, which is free and dynamic. Dogma implies dullness and fear. The religionist is supposed to be afraid to even think, lest he begin to lose his faith. However, there’s another way to look at it. It’s not wrong that some conclusions are settled once and for all.
“ . . . When I meditate on Srila Prabhupada or Sri Krsna, it is they who are meditating within me, just as when you pray, it is Krsna and the spiritual master who are praying with you. This is faithful meditation. And when the devotee becomes confused or doubtful, he places his inquiry before the Lord: ‘This is my doubt, O Krsna, and but for Yourself, I have found no one who can answer it.’”
“I have another dear memory of a moment spent with Swamiji in that same room, in 1967, just before he left to return to India. He had tried to recover his health in San Francisco, and now decided to go back to India. At the same time, he decided that I should go to Boston to open an ISKCON center. After only one day in Boston, I returned at night and told the Swami what had happened. I said, ‘I did the whole thing in one day, Swamiji! I went and applied for a transfer to the welfare department, and I’ve got the job.’ Swamiji said, ‘By Krsna’s grace’ as an addition to my statement. He made it clear that I had forgotten Krsna by implying that I had done something significant on my own.
“So just before he was to leave from New York, I was able to share a moment alone with him to say goodbye. I told him that now I was going to move to Boston. He encouraged me and said that I should go there and ‘sound off the big cannon of Hare Krsna.’ I bowed down before him and all of a sudden, I felt his hand on my back. His hand went from the top of my head all the way down my back. It was like a caress and a benediction. I felt that I had now gained a precious spiritual commodity, and it was the blessing that I most wanted but would never have dared to even think of or to ask him for. I didn’t deserve it, but yet it signified, ‘I’m pleased with you. In this way I’ll make you strong.’
“After I left Swamiji, I went down and told the devotees what had happened. I also believed that for the whole next year in Boston, whatever I did came from the direct influence of that benedicting touch by the Swami. When alone, I would sometimes remember the rub on the back and think, ‘Swamiji has blessed you to do service here in Boston.’ I still worship that touch, only now I don’t think it was a blessing just for Boston, but for all time.”
“Srila Prabhupada’s orders from his spiritual master were to preach in the West. He was told that on his very first meeting when he was only twenty-five years old, and he was emphatically told the same thing in the letter he received just before his spiritual master’s disappearance. Prabhupada so much modeled himself as a deliverer of the Western world that he put words in his pranam mantra, ‘He is so kindly delivering the Western world, which is filled with impersonalism and voidism.’ Srila Prabhupada completed this task obediently and magnificently, opening centers throughout America and Europe. Almost all of his disciples were Americans and Europeans. But in 1971 he returned to India, taking some American disciples, and began vigorously preaching there. He expressed that his preaching in the Western world was the fulfillment of his spiritual master’s order, and his return for preaching in India was his own mission.
“Here in this picture taken at a pandal in India, we see Srila Prabhupada being honored by distinguished citizens as well as ordinary kinsmen and ladies of India. His Indian movement grew in momentum until it practically overtook his Western movement. He saw the two preaching fronts as working together. He gave a comparison of a blind man and a crippled man. The western people were spiritually blind, but they had material resources, money, which they were willing to spend for Srila Prabhupada’s books. The East (India) was materially crippled but spiritually pious. The lame man could ride on the back of spiritually blind man and direct him how to walk. He united the two worlds. He built magnificent temples in India, especially in the holy dhamas, Vrndavana and Mayapur, so that his western disciples could come there and take shelter and learn spiritual culture. And he made a magnificent temple in Bombay to preach to the Indians, with the aid of western disciples and the money they collected from book distribution in the West. Now ISKCON has become very prestigious and strong in India, far beyond what Prabhupada originally saw.”
“Srila Prabhupada encourages us to practice the meditation of separation which was practiced by the gopis. We know we can’t imitate the gopis’ conjugal love for Krsna, and sometimes we shy away from them entirely. But Srila Prabhupada says, ‘Krsna wanted to teach through the behavior of the gopis.’ And then he writes, ‘Lord Caitanya taught to people in general the method of vipralambha-seva, which is the method of rendering service unto the Supreme Personality of Godhead in the feeling of separation.’ This kind of meditation is not forbidden. The greatest teachers advise us to follow vipralambha-seva, and we neophytes have a ready experience of separation from Krsna. We do not relish chanting His holy names; therefore, He is apart from us. It is easy to relate to the statement, ‘When will that day be mine when by chanting Hare Krsna, tears will flow from my eyes?’ Although vipralambha-seva is the topmost realization, devotees in the beginning stages can also have a connection with it. Any authorized service we perform which leaves us feeling, ‘I could not do it nicely, I did not attain Krsna,’ has the potential to become vipralambha-seva.
“My attempt to always think of Prabhupada seems doomed to failure. But my failures, and my feeling that ‘I am not a good disciple’—these sentiments should not be dismissed or given up. With persistence and a little adjustment, these feelings of unfulfillment can become ‘rendering service in the feeling of separation.’
“The gopis loved Krsna in Vrndavana. When Krsna left, they didn’t go with Him to Mathura. They knew they were meant to love Him in His vrndavana-lila, even if He appeared to physically leave Vrndavana. Similarly, if I want to compose Here Is Srila Prabhupada, then I must keep my home base in ISKCON at Prabhupada’s lotus feet. ‘Don’t leave,’ Prabhupada requested. ‘Stay in the fellowship of devotees.’”
“One time during the 1977 Mayapur festival, Srila Prabhupada called me into his room. I guessed that he may have called for me because we had been associating together for a month while I was his personal secretary, first in Bhuvaneswara and then for awhile in Mayapur. Or maybe it had something to do with his reappointing me to the editorship of Back to Godhead. Since I was supposed to be writing essays, perhaps he wanted to give me a special chance to hear philosophy and preaching.
“ . . . Srila Prabhupada was sitting at his low desk. The room was dark with only a small desk lamp. He was quiet and serious, but relaxed. He said, ‘I have been dictating this morning from the Tenth Canto about transmigration. I wanted you to hear.’
“He paused before pushing the switch on the dictaphone and said, ‘Why can’t they understand the philosophy of transmigration? What is the objection? Any intelligent person can understand that the body changes. This is explained very nicely in this morning’s Bhagavatam. You should write articles and vigorously preach and explain this in Back to Godhead. Why they don’t understand this simple philosophy?’
“‘You have made it clear, Prabhupada,’ I said, ‘and Krsna also makes it clear in the Bhagavad-gita that the body is changing. But people are just too dull.’
“Prabhupada pushed the reverse button on the Dictaphone, and then the machine began to play. The Dictaphone speaker was not meant for comfortable hearing, and so it was a somewhat tinny reproduction of Prabhupada’s voice. After each phrase you could hear the click of the pause button.
“Prabhupada then turned off the machine and talked more about transmigration. It was thrilling to be called into Prabhupada’s presence and to see him in his essence—the early morning Bhagavatam speaker. I felt that he had called me into the inner sanctum where he dictates the books by allowing me to hear the playback, so that I could catch some of the urgency.
“By remembering this moment, I wish to impress upon my own mind, ‘Please understand the importance of what Prabhupada was saying and understand the importance of Prabhupada himself. Remember always that he called you into his room and explained transmigration. How can you forget it? Why don’t you remember it more?’”
In L.A. an ISKCON first:
divorce American style.
‘This is all nonsense,’ Prabhupada said,
‘I will simply go back to Vrndavana
and sit and chant Hare Krsna.
Why should I deal with this
quarrel between husband and wife?
This is not the business of a sannyasi.’
His health was still not good—
a ringing in his ear—
yet he went on working,
preaching even in his dreams.
He was more than a sannyasi.
Natural commentaries based on sastra
came from his lotus lips;
not only in the hours of lecture,
he gave the Krsna conscious conclusion.
On a front lawn
in the Watts suburb
he sat under a tree,
like a sage of old.
‘Whatever happiness you have felt,’ he said,
‘you simply tell someone else.
That is all you have to do.’”
“During my circumambulations the moon was always covered, except for about five seconds when I just saw it pale and then go away. But even behind the clouds it has made the whole atmosphere a little brighter, and so I was able to walk around the house guided by natural light. Pinching cold. No rain. No loving attention to the holy names but at least warming myself by them—happy, chirpy knowledge that I am safe within this Krsna conscious realm. Things I like to do—walk on these boards around and around, as monotonous as it would seem to someone else. And even though it’s far away from Vrndavana, I know that I can be here and I can be with devotees if I keep a right attitude, and for that I don’t have to travel. So, these are the last weeks of full quiet and chance for unbroken meditation in this place. And I think when I spring out of here and enjoy other varieties, the main focus will be to return here with renewed appreciation. But you have to be ready for whatever Krsna wants. He moves everyone around just like a player moves pieces on a chessboard. He’s free to do as He likes, and He has special care for His devotees. There is always a purpose behind His moves.
—EJW 36: Prabhupada’s Gift: Stay in Ireland
“One evening I was sitting in the storefront waiting for the Swami to come in and begin. Allen Ginsberg walked in. He was a great celebrity, and we were all alert to the fact. He sat behind me and asked. ‘What’s going to happen?’
“I said, ‘Pretty soon the Swami will come in and then we’ll start the kirtana. We do that for about twenty minutes, and then he talks.’
“I was aware that my words did not express the reverence that I actually had towards the scene that was about to take place. If I were to express my heart, I would have said, ‘The Swami is a pure devotee of the Lord. He is going to lead us in a sacred chant which can purify us and make us understand we are spirit souls. When he speaks, it may be a little difficult to understand at first, but what he is teaching is better than any speculative philosophy or literature.’
“I had tried to give Mr. Ginsberg a light description of the Swami’s entrance. We wanted him to think that we were hip, not like churchgoers who speak in solemn tones.
“After I replied to Allen Ginsberg, I turned back to myself. It was a rare opportunity for an aspiring poet to talk to the dean of American beat poets, but I did not want to talk to him. I wanted to get back into my reverent mood. I felt ashamed of that touch of frivolousness in my description of Prabhupada. I breathed in deeply and then let it out. I took another deep breath and let it out. I told myself, ‘Get back into yourself, man. Don’t play a grandstand for Allen Ginsberg. You’re for the Swami, not for him.’”
“Perhaps I will not be able to reach the higher stages of raganuga practice in this lifetime, although I can learn about it and relish the sastras that deal with it. I have already gained some knowledge about them which increases my understanding. If it is possible to reach a higher stage, that will be by Prabhupada’s grace and siksa-guru’s grace (which is another way of saying Prabhupada’s grace). The main thing is to be faithful to Prabhupada. Even if I remain on the guru-nistha platform without taste, I will be safe. It is more than just playing it safe. It is solid. It is my love for my spiritual master.
“I feel enlivened when I hear devotees talk about their services in ISKCON. I spoke to one devotee tonight (I barely know him) and asked, ‘How is your Govardhana-sila in Houston?” He said, ‘I serve Him every day. Although I’m here in Vrndavana, I am thinking I want to go back to Him and serve Him there. I don’t know if that’s right.” I said, ‘Yes, it is right. Prabhupada wanted us to come to Vrndavana for inspiration, and then go back and serve the Krsna consciousness movement in different parts of the world.’
“So there are many ‘ordinary’ devotees who have very solid realizations about Prabhupada and their place in ISKCON. In the name of gaining higher realizations, I shouldn’t lose that strong basic connection. The two go together: service to Prabhupada’s mission enables us to understand higher things, and when we do understand higher things, we become more enlivened to serve in his preaching mission. My dear Srila Prabhupada, I am grateful to understand that my connection to you is the most important thing in my life. Yasya prasadad bhagavata-prasado. Whether I get higher realization or not, I must attain and keep my guru-nistha and my service connection to you.
“That also means personal affection, seeing your murti form, reading your books, relishing your way of saying things (as in Krsna book). Keeping alive in that. Appreciating your particular stamp on things. Associating with your devotees, reminding them about Prabhupada—these are some things I am thinking of.”
“Another question from the same source: ‘Is uprooting the offenses even within our power?’
“Of course it is, or why would we recite the ten offenses every day and try to avoid them if it was impossible? Prabhupada says chanting Hare Krsna is easy, but we have to remember that he is measuring the chanting against relatively more difficult processes. It’s not as easy as pressing a few buttons on your telephone and asking the operator for the correct time or the weather. Other methods, like yoga and jnana, are impossible to follow to perfection in this age. Chanting Hare Krsna is easy because it’s possible. Prabhupada says we don’t have to research the evidence—Ajamila is the proof. Further evidence can be found in the case of Jagai and Madhai. Success is sure for the rigid practitioner.
“‘In Madhurya-kadambini, it describes that our practice of sadhana is not the cause of Krsna’s mercy upon us, but that there is some connection between them. Can you explain this?’
“I discussed it yesterday. We know that the mercy of the holy name comes by the descending process. It’s not that we can get it by our own endeavor. In fact, when we chant, we see that our minds disperse onto so many subjects. We can’t control our minds, but Krsna can. He’s called Yogesvara, the master of yoga.
“This explains how our sadhana is not the cause of successful japa , but why will Krsna award His mercy on one devotee and not another? Krsna says samo ‘ham sarva-bhutesu, I am equally disposed to everyone. When one becomes a devotee and a friend in Him, then Krsna and that devotee have an intimate exchange. Therefore, if Krsna is pleased by our endeavor, if He likes, He can award us success in chanting Hare Krsna. Sadhana is therefore not the cause of our success. If it were, then we would be working in a karma-kandiya sense, thinking that Krsna is obliged because we chanted a certain number of rounds, were attentive, shed a few tears, etc. We performed the right ritual, so we should get a response from the God. And not in the process of chanting Hare Krsna. When one sincerely tries to follow the bona fide spiritual master’s order, following the rules and regulations, giving preeminence to the chanting, then he creates a fertile situation in which to receive Krsna’s mercy. When Krsna’s independent and causeless mercy falls on his heart, shoots of good chanting sprout, and early symptoms of love of God soon appear.
“This principle was taught by Lord Krsna when Mother Yasoda tried to bind Him with ropes. No matter how many ropes she collected, they always came out two fingers too short. She could not tie baby Krsna. Thus Krsna taught her, ‘Dear Mother, although I am acting as your dependent son, it is only by My own agreement. If I don’t agree, then you will not be able to tie Me, no matter how many ropes you string together.’
“In this pastime, Krsna eluded the control of His mother, demonstrating His supreme independence. But when Krsna saw His mother perspiring from her exertion, the flowers falling from her hair, and her obvious frustration, He yielded to her desires and allowed her to tie Him, even though He is uncatchable by the most expert mystics and yogis. Both elements are necessary if the pure devotee is going to capture Krsna with love or chant Hare Krsna in spontaneous devotion. That is, we need to endeavor, and then, independent of that, Krsna has to will freely to dance on our tongues in suddha-nama.”
“Upon arriving at the Bhaktivedanta Manor, Prabhupada asked, ‘Where is Revatinandana Swami?’ Revatinandana Swami came out of the kitchen. ‘I’m in the kitchen, Prabhupada, cooking,’ he said. ‘I’m a kitchen swami.’
“‘Ah,’ Prabhupada answered, ‘that’s Radharani’s department.’ Then Srila Prabhupada said that Krsna would leave Radharani if He were not so attached to Her cooking.
“‘Regarding offering food: the custom is to offer the foodstuff first to the spiritual master; we cannot offer anything directly. The spiritual master accepts the offering on behalf of his disciple, and offers the same to Krsna. After Krsna’s eating, the spiritual master eats it, and then the devotees take it as maha-prasada. This is the system. Everything is offered to the spiritual master first, with the prayer, “nama om visnu-padaya . . . .”
“‘If, in the cooking process, food falls on the floor, if it is raw and can be washed nicely, then it can be offered. But if it is prepared and cannot be washed, then it is not to be offered, but can be eaten rather than wasted.’
—Letter of February 15, 1968
“‘Regarding the lollipops, there is nothing wrong. It is something attractive and I can understand, an introduction of friendship. What is the wrong? It is sugar, so it can be offered to the Deity. Just like here we can offer sweets purchased in the marketplace. It is stated in the sastras that if you pay something for it, it is purified even if there is some fault in it.’
—Letter of November 2, 1974”
“As Prabhupada is touring the Los Angeles headquarters he is stopping to see the devotee who operates the Bhaktivedanta Tape Ministry. They were using the latest state-of-the-art equipment, which was producing tape cassettes, which are now outmoded and replaced by MP3s. All of Prabhupada’s lectures used to fit into dozens of bulky albums, and they now fit into one compact booklet. Some devotees still like the old-fashioned type cassettes, although their life duration is limited. It is a great foresight that devotees so carefully taped all of Prabhupada’s lectures, morning walks and room conversations. Apparently some of them have not been publicly released yet, and some of his lectures were never recorded. But we are lucky we have as much as we do, over a thousand lectures. One might say the books are more important, but the recordings are very important too. Vedic knowledge emphasizes the importance of sound vibration. To imbibe Prabhupada’s teachings through the ear is unique. He had a special style of lecturing that is different than his written purports. In his lectures he would be more likely to go off on tangents, away from the subject of the scriptural verse. Then in an artful manner he would return to the subject of the lecture by the end of the lecture and round it out in a masterpiece of oratory.
“We also have many sung bhajanas which capture Prabhupada’s emotional ecstasies in the songs of the acaryas. Professor Larry Shinn declared that Prabhupada’s bhajanas captured his piety and essence as a pure devotee and are important evidence of his devotion to Krsna. As technology progresses, the Bhaktivedanta Tape Ministry will continue to preserve the precious sound recordings of Prabhupada’s voice in the most modern methods, and they will never be lost. Generations will benefit and be able to hear the eternal sound vibration of the pure devotee made in disciplic succession in the 1960s and ’70s and preserved forever. We can continue to learn Krsna consciousness and to be inspired by Prabhupada through these lectures, thank God.”
“‘Offering gifts in charity, accepting charitable gifts, revealing one’s mind in confidence, inquiring confidentially, accepting prasada, and offering prasada are the six symptoms of love shared by one devotee and another.’
“Spiritual friendship is distinct from material friendship in that material friendship is based on sense gratification, whereas spiritual friendship is based on Krsna consciousness. A person endeavoring for Krsna consciousness should not seek out a friend for any material reason; a devotee has nothing to gain from a rich man or a political ally. Since we are no longer on the path of material progress, we should not be interested in bodily beauty, aristocratic birth, material wealth, or material education. All our friendships should intensify devotional service.
“Sometimes, in mundane relationships, one ‘hangs out’ with his friends as a kind of relief from the usual tension of one’s business occupation. But a devotee is not looking for a companion with whom to engage in prajalpa (loose talk) or someone to gossip with or to engage with in subtle or gross forbidden acts. To have an enemy would be better than to have such a ‘friend’ in the name of Krsna consciousness. Krsna conscious friendship, therefore, must always be within the bounds of Vaisnava behavior and etiquette. Friends should conduct themselves so that they may impel each other’s service attitude toward Krsna and the spiritual master. In this way they relate according to the six loving exchanges described by Rupa Gosvami.
“Friends share the Lord’s prasadam and exchange gifts that help one another in devotional service; and they share thoughts. Sometimes we need a friend of whom we can inquire confidentially. A devotee may be feeling weak-hearted, but he can express himself only to a trusted and confidential friend. His devotee-friend will then lovingly preach to him and try to remind him of the spiritual master’s teachings, offering both sympathy and relevant instructions from the scriptures. Every devotee needs such close friends. The day will come when the one from whom I have inquired confidentially will return the confidential favor and approach me with some confidential sharing or inquiry of his own. Such confidential exchanges, however, should not become the basis of a clique or of clannish behavior. While we may select our intimate friends from the company of devotees, we should remain straightforward and ready to share our realizations with all sincere devotees.”
I’m on/telling you I
want to be the fellow whom
No, forget that syndrome
be a Krsna conscious spy
on earth who tells Krsna what he sees
who tells the people what he feels.
Be a Krsna conscious person who
tells on earth what he
feels is truth
spaghetti on Wednesday
with bread, but I never
liked wine or smokes.
“What about romancing
women?” she asked, and I
didn’t want to answer
because my memories of a monk
I uphold the ISKCON
management of the temple I’m
visiting which can become
an awkward thing.
Fresh as the day it was
coined. He allowed his
trumpeter to step forward.
I said any of these stanzas
you may omit, but I am
let loose while I can
Krsna, Krsna in Vrindavan
Gaura in Navadvipa.
Get back to you all about
the temple they are building
Going on a limb.
I’m filled with my own jargon of
self—should I leave
self-express? Insides. Best
contribution. Painted and so on
still, language can be improved and
you shouldn’t go back to an old form
happy to be chasing the
bird by looking upward
and thinking ‘God gave sight’
make haikus in Vraja
again, I agree to stay there
if you can, but what’s
Oh, I work in higher
I sweep the mandir floor
I dress Deities
sing twenty-four hours a day
I’m a babaji and keep
my passport in a safe.
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.