We had some guests attend: Ravindra Svarupa Prabhu, Saudamani, and Ravindra’s secretary Sraddha attended. Also Janardana from across the street. Hari dasa from Schenectady was here, and he led the kirtanas. Lalita-kaisori and Atindra were here, Amit was here, and Hari dasa’s driver, Isvara Rsi, and Kamini dasi came (and brought half the feast).
We began with a kirtana, and then I spoke. I told balarama-katha, how He killed the demon Prahlambasura and the ass-demon Dhenukasura. I told about how Balarama engaged in gambling with Rukmi. Balarama lost two matches, and they stacked up a pile of coins for another match. Balarama won that match, but the cheating Rukmi claimed that he won the match. Then a deep voice, unembodied, spoke from the sky and said, “Balarama has won this round of gambling.” Rukmi still tried to claim that he won, and Balarama became angry and killed him.
I told two stories of Balarama’s supernatural strength. One time He was insulted by the Kurus, who also insulted Krsna. Balarama then dug His plow into the ground and began to drag the whole city of Hastinapura toward the Yamuna. Residents of Hastinapura became frightened and thought it was an earthquake. Then they ran to Balarama and surrendered to Him and asked forgiveness. Another time Balarama used His plow to drag the Yamuna. He first asked her to come to Him, and He wanted to drink Her waters. But she refused to come, thinking that he was intoxicated on varuni. Balarama became angry and dug His plow into the earth and began to drag the Yamuna into tributaries, pulling her toward Him. Yamuna devi became terrified and repented. She came to Balarama and offered her prayers and begged forgiveness.
Ravindra Svarupa spoke about how Lord Balarama was instrumental in his coming to Krsna consciousness. Before he was even a devotee he saw the statues of Krsna, Balarama and Subhadra in an import store. He could only afford one, and he was most attracted to Balarama, with His wise but playful smile. He bought Him and carried Him back to his home, where He stood on an improvised altar. Ravindra asked the devotees, “Who is Balarama?” They told him He was Krsna’s older brother, an expansion of Krsna, yet He was also God. The uninitiated Ravindra asked the temple president what he should do with the Balarama Deity. He was told, “Worship Him!” And so he began to worship the single Deity of Balarama. Later the Philadelphia temple received all three Deities, Krsna, Balarama and Subhadra. Ravindra’s wife Saudamani chimed in and told many memories of the early years in ISKCON Philadelphia, where they were the first ones on the East Coast to hold Ratha-yatras each year.
After the talks, there was more kirtana, an arati led by Hari dasa from Schenectady. Then we had the feast. The feast was two sabjis and bhatura breads and samosas and chutney. There were two drinks: one was varuni, and the other was tamarind mint and sweets, blueberry halava, Balarama “cigars,” and a sandesh. Everyone enjoyed the program. Most of the devotees took prasadam outdoors under the shade of a tent donated by Atindra. There was also a nice Jhulan-yatra swing, the last day of Jhulan-yatra. Everyone had a chance to swing my Radha-Govinda Deities, who made a rare appearance among the devotees. They were wearing a new dress never used before.
He referred to Srila Prabhupada’s describing Krsna consciousness as a science. Prabhupada wrote a book, The Science of Self-Realization. Ravindra said Prabhupada wasn’t trying to cash in on the prestige of using the word “science,” making people think that KC was a verifiable material science. It is a spiritual science, but it is not religious dogma, it is verifiable by practice in the process of bhakti-yoga. Ravindra Svarupa focused on the four prohibitive rules and the positive practice of chanting sixteen rounds daily. He said the four rules are items of knowledge. They are: no illicit sex, no intoxication, no meat-eating, and no gambling. One who practices this goes beyond the three modes of material nature (goodness, passion and ignorance) and reaches the stage of suddha-sattva, pure transcendental goodness. From this position he can come to understand the Supreme Personality of Godhead. Observing the four rules must be accompanied by the vow (vrata) of chanting sixteen rounds daily of the Hare Krsna mantra. There are many complicated mantras, but the Hare Krsna mantra is made up of just three words: Hare, Krsna and Rama. Hare Krsna, Hare Krsna/ Krsna Krsna Hare Hare/ Hare Rama Hare Rama /Rama Rama Hare Hare. The Vedic scriptures confirm the name of Krsna is not different than Krsna Himself. Following the four rules and chanting Hare Krsna purifies a person and brings him to the level of pure devotional service. The Vedic literature confirms that the sankirtana yajna (the offenseless chanting of the holy name) is the only recommended process for God-realization for the Age of Kali. Ravindra remarked that as a young man he was interested in St. Anselm’s argument for the existence of God. He had read several editions of the Bhagavad-gita, but when he read Srila Prabhupada’s Bhagavad-gita As It Is, he was convinced.
I am thinking of my Godbrother, Vibhu Caitanya. From day one, he cooked all the preparations for the Deities at the Krsna Balaram Mandir in Vrndavana. When he got too old to cook, he took the service of giving out caranamrta to the devotees after the greeting of the Deities, and giving out caranamrta all day long at the tulasi stand. He did these services for many years. When he was too old to do those services, he took a room on the basement floor of the Guesthouse. He listened by radio to kirtanas and lectures. He offered flowers to pictures of Deities. He was always Krsna conscious and friendly with the devotees. He was jolly. I think of him and how one has to do whatever service he can do, coping with old age and the diminishment due to the body and mind. When one gets old, he does bhajana. Vibhu Caitanya was an ideal example, and all the devotees loved him.
My disciple Hari dasa is involved in the ISKCON preaching center in Schenectady, New York. There are about ten or fifteen devotees who are committed to the project. They have bought a nice building which is suitable for their purposes, and they are fixing it up. They have an executive board, and Hari dasa is an advisor to the board. He gives a lot of classes. Schenectady is densely populated with people from Guyana, so they are reaching out to them. More people are moving to Schenectady from Guyana. The devotees meet every Sunday for a full program. In the summer they go out on harinama and do book distribution. They are an enthusiastic, committed group of men and women. They have a prasadam business where they sell snacks to various clients, and the money goes to support the center. The cost of living in Schenectady is low compared to Queens or New York City , so their venture is manageable. I encourage Hari dasa and the devotees in Schenectady to build up their center and make it successful.
In our out-loud reading we heard of Krsna sending His confidential friend Uddhava to Vrndavana to bring a message to the gopis to ease their feelings of separation. When the gopis saw Uddhava’s chariot and Uddhava himself, they thought he looked just like Krsna, and as simple cowherd girls, they gathered around him and began to inquire. They knew he was a dear friend of Krsna and wanted to hear about Krsna from him. As the gopis talked to Uddhava, Srimati Radharani stood somewhat apart and in ecstasy began talking to a bumblebee which had gathered under Her feet. She took the bumblebee to be a messenger from Krsna like Uddhava, and She criticized him. She said, “My dear bumblebee, you are an unreliable messenger of an unreliable Master. You have come here from Krsna and are trying to flatter Me. But I warn you, ‘Don’t touch Me!’ She began to criticize indirectly Uddhava and Uddhava’s master, Krsna. She said to the bee that Krsna had favored them in the past with His intimate love, but now He had abandoned them, so why shouldn’t they think or trust that His messenger had something good to say to them? She said, “Krsna has not only been untrustworthy in this life, but in past lives also. We have heard it from Our grandmother, Purnamasi. In His previous life Krsna was Ramacandra, and He killed His friend’s enemy, Vali, by hiding behind a tree and killing him just like a hunter. Instead of fighting in honorable combat face to face with Vali, He hid behind a tree and shot him. Ramacandra was also approached by Ravana’s sister Surpanakha, who proposed an intimate relationship with Him. As a ksatriya He should have accepted her proposal, but instead, being henpecked by the beauty of His wife, Sita, He disfigured Surpanakha and cut off her nose and ears. And in a previous incarnation Krsna appeared as Vamanadeva and took all the possessions from Bali Maharaja after coming to him to beg only three steps of land.” So Radharani said, “There is nothing new you can tell us about Krsna. These are old stories.”
As She spoke to the bee, he suddenly disappeared from Her. Radharani was sorry and thought the bee would go back to Krsna and tell Him how she was speaking against Him. But then the bee reappeared, and she was glad to receive him and was careful not to criticize Krsna. She asked the bee if he could take Her to Krsna. But then She said, “This is impossible, you are but a tiny creature! Let us forget these talks about you bringing Me to Krsna. He is now involved with the girls in Mathura. Just tell me how Krsna is faring. Does He ever think of His mother and father? Does He ever think about us gopis? Uddhava overheard these words of Radharani and was astonished at Her mad talking, which is a symptom of ecstasy.
Then Uddhava read the message of Krsna to the gopis. Krsna said He was never separated from the gopis. His message gave them solace, and they asked Uddhava to stay in Vrndavana. Uddhava agreed to stay not only for a few days but a few months. He acted as their preceptor-guru and kept them constantly engaged in hearing the pastimes of Krsna. This engladdened the gopis, and they felt the association of Uddhava was like that of Krsna. Uddhava was deeply impressed with the gopis, and within himself he desired to get the dust of the feet of the gopis on his head. But he was afraid that they wouldn’t give it him, so he prayed that in a future life he might be born in Vrndavana as a plant or creeper, and that the gopis might trample on his head, and in that way he could get the sacred dust from their lotus feet. After a few months Uddhava, with the permission of Nanda Maharaja and Mother Yasoda and the gopis, returned to Krsna in Dvaraka and told Him about the wonderful position of the residents of Vrndavana.
I thanked Atindra for going out of his way and driving five hours to Shippensburg, Pennsylvania to drop off Lord Caitanya with Hemagaura, who did renovations on the murti. When the work was done, Atindra, who was driving back from Michigan, went out of his way another five hours and picked up Lord Caitanya and brought him to me. I thanked him profusely. He played down the amount of sacrifice and effort it was to drive that many hours to carry Lord Caitanya there and back. Now His hand is renovated. I missed Him while He was away, and we didn’t offer Him a plate of prasadam three times a day. Now I’m glad He’s back and I can take His darsana.
Here is a poem called “A Writing Life,” which I wrote on January 23, 2010 in the Delaware diary. It still remains unpublished, but it is relevant to my present thoughts:
“I have given my life to
choosing words of praise to
Prabhupada and Krsna,
and I feel they have empowered
me. May it go on after I
am gone, may my books
stay in print and be read
by eager readers. That is
all I ask: that I be read
in the generations to come
and that my books and postings
help people in Krsna consciousness.”
I made a strong statement in my Journal asking disciples and friends to help me reprint my out-of-print books and books that have not even been published. Today I received one response: “Just read your latest Free Write Journal #207 requesting your disciples to help you with the reprinting of your books. I pray that I can continue to type for you, Guru Maharaja. I hope that is pleasing to you. A good way to die could be to find me slumped over my computer, having passed away peacefully while typing your books, thinking of you and Krsna. What a way to go!”
I received another response from. Manohara, who is here now serving me. He said that ten years ago he used to do layout and design. He contacted our layout and design man, Lal Krishna, and learned that he used the same professional system that Lal Krishna is using now. They have had several exchanges, and Manohara is enthusiastic to begin. Starting tomorrow, he’s going to get the program and learn how to use the new, updated version. This is good news, that devotees are responding to my request that they learn how they can help me put all my books into print.
I went to my annual wellness checkup with the doctor. He strongly recommended that I have a CAT scan, since I still have some abdominal pain when he pushed in the right abdominal area. Before the CAT scan I’m scheduled for a blood test in a month and then will have the scan a few days after that. The doctor recommended I get a second booster shot for COVID sometime around October, as well as a flu shot, and then come back in six months for another checkup.
Our neighbors, with good intention, erected a plaque to our garden which said, “In commemoration of Trinidad Bala.” But they don’t do any serious work in the garden. There’s no one active maintaining it and fighting off the elements. Rabbits and groundhogs are attacking us. The groundhogs dig holes under the fence, and the rabbits find a way through the fence. These animals are creating havoc, and unless someone traps the groundhogs and relocates them, and also the fence is patched so the rabbits don’t come in, the garden will continue to get devastated. These are standard problems when someone tries to cultivate a garden in a rural area where there are so many competitors.
A rogue windstorm with high velocity winds scattered our tulasi pots and garbage cans, and most importantly knocked down two trees on a neighbor’s property that landed on our lawn. Fortunately the neighbor said she has someone who will clean up the mess for free. Otherwise it becomes a challenge to us to remove all the branches before they kill the grass.
1) The highwaymen lust, greed and anger have captured me and bound me with the ropes of the desire for fame. I pray that the heroic devotees of Lord Krsna, the enemy of the Agha demon, may defeat my captors and cut the ropes that bind me.
2) I am scorched by the blazing forest fire of old age, deeply bitten by the poisonous snake of blindness, pierced by the sharp arrows of forced dependence on others, and surrounded by the lions of anger, lust and greed. O Lord Krsna, please give me the nectarean potion of pure love for You, which will make me strong and heroic enough to resist all the enemies and constantly engage in Your devotional service without deviation.
3) By tasting a single drop of the memory of the transcendental nectar ocean of the sweetness of the Divine Couple, my heart has become restless. I bow down before the land and people of Vraja. I yearn to see my two Masters.
4) The disembodied demigod, Cupid, who attained a body by continually tasting the nectar of the sight of the Divine Couple, eternally illuminates this entire land of Vraja with a jubilant festival of Lord Krsna’s amorous pastimes. When shall I lovingly gaze on Sri-Sri Gandharva-Giridhari (Sri-Sri Radha-Krsna), the crowning garlands of all charming couples?
5) The city of Dvaraka, where the brother and sons of the Lord reside, and where the Lord enjoys transcendental pastimes with a great multitude of queens, each eclipsing many hundreds of goddesses of fortune, is even dearer than Vaikuntha. Because it is the place of Lord Krsna’s birth, Mathura, the abode of transcendental love, is even dearer than Dvaraka. Within the district of Mathura, the land of Vraja is splendidly manifest. I eternally worship the land of Mathura.
6) Even today, affectionate Lord Krsna enjoys the very sweet nectar of transcendental pastimes there, herding the cows with His brother and His many dear friends. A wonderful sweetness becomes manifest in the hearts of those who understand the nectar of this place of Vraja, which is dearer even than the city of Mathura, I take shelter.
7) Surrounded by Their witty gopi friends, the youthful Divine Couple enjoys many kinds of transcendental pastimes within the groves and mountain caves and among the blossoming vines of Vrndavana forest. I worship Vrndavana forest, which is delightful with the scent of Their lotus feet.
8) In Vrndavana is the town of Nandisvara, where the goddess of fortune always walks, where great mystic perfections are eternally present, where the cows are protected, where the people of Vraja live, and where Lord Krsna happily enjoys transcendental pastimes under the loving protection of His parents. I worship this town of Nandisvara, the home of the King of Vraja and the most important part of the land of Vraja.
9) To celebrate his son’s birthday, the King of Gokula respectfully gave in charity to the brahmanas palatable foods, nectar beverages and transcendental cows decorated with many jewels. Day after day he satisfied the brahmanas with these valuable presentations, and he repeatedly begged for their blessings on his infant boy. I worship the King of Gokula, who is always absorbed in thoughts of his son.
10) May the Queen of Vraja, whose breasts continually trickle milk out of maternal love for her son, who is prepared to give up her life many millions of times to protect Him from even a single drop of perspiration, and who is so attached to Him that if for a moment she cannot see Him, she cries like a cow for frightened for her newborn calf, protect us.
11) Because of her own son, Balarama’s, intimate friendship with Him, Rohini devi showers her love upon Lord Krsna. She is an expert cook, and she delights the King and Queen of Vraja with her sincere friendship and saintly qualities.
12) The splendor of Lord Balarama’s transcendental form eclipses millions of glistening rising moons, and the slightest scent of His boundless strength is sufficient to destroy many armies of demons. Although He knows the supernatural power of His younger brother, Krsna, still out of love for Him, He never leaves Him alone in the forest even for a moment. I offer my prayers to Lord Balarama, the enemy of Dhenukasura.
13) Speaking with a voice that seems to mock the roaring of hundreds of thousands of thunderclouds, Parjanya Maharaja expresses his pride in having such a wonderful grandson. I offer my respectful obeisances to Parjanya, Krsna’s grandfather, who is expert at delighting his grandson by speaking into His ear many joking words.
14) I offer my respectful obeisance to Variyasi-devi, Krsna’s grandmother. With merry, joking words she worships Sri Krsna, calling Him the moon of grandsons. Happy and proud of her grandson, her feet no longer touch the ground when she walks.
15) His face handsome with a great white beard, and his complexion dark, pious Upananda is the respected prime minister in the council chambers of the King of Vraja. Considering him millions of times dearer than his own life, Upananda delights his nephew, Krsna. I pray that Upananda may always stay in the government council and protect the land of Vraja.”
(to be continued)
“Tired old pawpaw. Want to go to Krsna. Someone says, ‘I’m very attached to Prabhupada—more than I am to Krsna. Is that bad?’
“No, I say, he will lead you to Krsna.
“Krsna dancing with flute. I saw Him in my mind’s eye faintly, momentarily, above the hotel building’s predawn, while I was sitting on the balcony as a sharp headache was finally going down. Was thinking about what I’d read, and also how a Zen practitioner doesn’t strive for enlightenment but realizes it’s more a matter of tuning in than discovering. That seems similar to the maha-bhagavata’s vision that everyone and everything is already perfect. Yes, but we want to add Krsna to that. Not that we click into enlightenment while looking at a hotel, sky, and ocean at Puri and feel, ‘This is it. It’s perfect now and always was.’
dancing, what we want,
but He’s a long way off—
Many lives both you and I
Arjuna, we’ve had, but never
can you remember them,
although I do.
Yes, Arjuna knew it too
by His grace.
Love to be there one day
but so far I struggle
for strength each day—
I want to be a devotee,
make a beeline to His lotus feet,
but ecstasies must be paid for and
samadhi is no joke.”
“One morning I told Swamiji it was hard to remain Krsna conscious at work. I said, ‘Swamiji, sometimes when the people in the office say nonsense, I chant within myself without making any sound. Is that all right?’
“Prabhupada replied, ‘Not only are they saying nonsense sometimes, but even the greatest philosopher is talking nonsense. So you can chant all the time like that within, when you can’t actually chant out loud.’
“So I would chant within myself. But sometimes I was able to be alone in a corner of the welfare building, and then I could chant audibly, at least loud enough for me to hear. A good place to do that was on the second floor in the sound-proof booths where caseworkers dictated their day’s interviews in order to be typed up. You would take your recorder up there and start speaking into the machine: ‘I just visited Mrs. Sally Burns at 62 Suffolk Street. She is receiving aid for dependent children. I found her alone with her two children. She requests a refrigerator. . . .’ This was a good place to do it—‘Hare Krsna Hare Krsna Krsna Krsna Hare Hare/ Hare Rama Hare Rama Rama Rama Hare Hare. . .’ When I chanted softly but intensely, I felt as if I was pushing away the whole Manhattan welfare department and all their crazy clients and office girls and office men. . . . Hare Krsna Hare Krsna Krsna Krsna Hare Hare/ Hare Rama Hare Rama Rama Rama Hare Hare. In my mind’s eye I could sense the presence of Swamiji. And I spoke and prayed to him, ‘Swamiji, please let me get through this job for you and make money so the temple can run and you can spread Krsna consciousness. Please protect me. Nrsimhadeva, Prahlada, please protect me. Hare Krsna Hare Krsna Krsna Krsna Hare Hare/ Hare Rama Hare Rama Rama Rama Hare Hare.’ If someone came by and eyed me suspiciously, I went back to dictating my welfare case.”
“Srila Prabhupada’s purports give substantial guidance and inspiration for devotional service. But particular passages will speak with greater meaning for particular individuals. The Prabhupada gem that attracts me the most may be something that doesn’t particularly catch your attention, whereas the line that strikes you as the most forceful of all, and which you may build your whole life on, does not have that same meaning for me. But many gems will have universal appeal. With this in mind, here is something which Prabhupada said in a conversation which I was very pleased to hear:
“‘Using any language, you should submit to Krsna, and you should feel that ‘I am worthless. My Guru Maharaja has given me this chance to serve Krsna, to offer to Krsna . . . my Lord, I am worthless. I have no capacity to serve You. But on the order of my Guru Maharaja, I’m trying to serve You. Please do not take any offense. Accept whatever I can do.. . . I am offensive, so kindly excuse me.’ In this way be humble, meek, and offer your feeling, and Krsna will be satisfied. Not that you have to show how you can speak in the Sanskrit language.’
—Conversation, Hyderbad, April 12, 1975
“I am glad to hear Srila Prabhupada say this. It makes me aspire to serve the Lord in this mood. I also like to think of Srila Prabhupada in his intimate relationship with Lord Krsna, in the terms he describes here. Words like these are simultaneously instructions for devotional service, as well as personal revelations by the speaker, His Divine Grace. Our reading of the Bhaktivedanta purports may also shift from one purpose to another—sometimes we are looking for practical application in our daily life, but sometimes we read just to nurture the rendezvous with the pure devotee of the Lord. The more we get to know and love Srila Prabhupada, the more naturally we will be obedient to his teachings.”
“‘Yes, from the very beginning I went to New York because I thought that Krsna consciousness is the most important idea in the world, so let me go to that place, New York, which is the most important city in the world, and if I am able to do anything for Krsna and my spiritual master, even I am at the fag-end of my life, at least let me try for it there.’
—Letter, December 23, 1972
“New York City was the only city in America where Prabhupada walked the streets alone. It is hard for us to conceive of now. We see pictures of Prabhupada sitting on a large vyasasana and speaking to hundreds of devotees, but in Manhattan in 1965-66, no one was his follower. He walked the streets and thought, ‘How can I spread Krsna consciousness here?’
“In a 1965 lecture, Prabhupada gave an analogy to explain that Krsna is not alone. He said, ‘All day I am in this room alone, but when you come in the evening, I become more enlivened.’ He was like a hermit in the city. He typed Srimad-Bhagavatam and chanted alone, even when the lights went out.
“When I was alone in your New York, I was thinking, who will listen to me in this horrible, sinful place? All right, I shall stay a little longer, at least I can distribute a few of my books, that is something. But Krsna was all along preparing something I could not see, and He brought you to me one by one, sincere American boys and girls, to be trained up for doing the work of Lord Caitanya Mahaprabhu. Now I can see that it is a miracle. Otherwise, your city of New York, one single old man, with only a few books to sell for barely getting eatables, how he can survive, what to speak of introducing God consciousness movement for saving humankind? That is Krsna’s miracle. Now I can see it.’
—Letter, December 23, 1972
“Srila Prabhupada had no romantic notions about Manhattan. He commiserated with the human suffering that he saw here. He spoke about the heavy snowfall, and compared the dirt on the streets to the dirt in the heart. He saw the city as big maya, and he wanted to give us shelter.
“I encourage the Sunday guests in Brooklyn to take part in Prabhupada’s preaching in New York even today. For example, they may associate with devotees and attend the Radha-Govinda Mandir.
“When Prabhupada revisited Manhattan in 1976, he reminisced about the old days. He said, ‘When I came here no one cared for me, but now I have so many sons; it is Krsna’s mercy.’ He also wrote in one letter, ‘New York is very special to me because I started there without anything except faith in my spiritual master and Lord Krsna. I am very glad to see that things are developing there nicely.’ (Letter, October 17, 1975).”
“In another purport, Prabhupada states, ‘In the advanced stage, one falls completely in love with Krsna.’ (Bg. 8.28) Prabhupada teaches us not to be wishy-washy, but to give everything to God. He exposes all types of maya, including religion which is not completely surrendered to God. Anyone who wants to love God can learn from Srila Prabhupada.
“This love is not a saccharin piety. It is doing the needful, even if it means fighting for Krsna as Hanuman and Arjuna did. The lover of God pleases Him under all circumstances. Prabhupada was an intrepid preacher, ready to face the atheists and Mayavadis who deny God. This is another aspect of the lover. We may think of a ‘lover’ as someone who seeks a soft situation, lying in an inner chamber to enjoy with his beloved. The lover of God, however, works on His behalf and fights on His behalf to establish the principles of religion. He goes out on behalf of the Lord, just as Ramacandra’s brothers went out to conquer, and just as Prabhupada left Vrndavana to come to America.
“Prabhupada taught love of God according to the teachings of Lord Caitanya. This means krsna-prema, the conjugal love of Radha and Krsna.
“‘We have often heard the phrase “love of Godhead.” How far this love of Godhead can actually be developed can be learned from the Vaisnava philosophy. Theoretical knowledge of love of God can be found in many places and in many scriptures, but what that love of Godhead actually is and how it is developed can be found in Vaisnava literatures. It is the unique and highest development of love of God that is given by Caitanya Mahaprabhu.’
—Teachings of Lord Caitanya, Introduction
“By following Prabhupada, I have learned that love of God is not attained cheaply. One may claim, ‘I love God,’ but it is not so easy. Prabhupada said that the beginning symptom is obedience to God’s law. Even if we follow the laws, though, we may be attached to material desires. We have to qualify before we can experience love of God.”
“We are quite accustomed to living with Prabhupada in separation. It is not a different Prabhupada who is with us now than the Prabhupada we lived with before 1977. Prabhupada was with us for only eleven years; he left us fourteen years ago. Still, we have to keep his presence focused in our lives.
“We are inevitably locked into our present in ISKCON. Our present is formed mainly by our past experience. Let our allegiance to that saintly person who came to New York in 1965 and picked us up form our present surrender to Krsna. We were helplessly gripped by the modes of nature before Prabhupada came, but he easily lifted us out of that life and set us on the spiritual path. He formed our present.
“Now we can see that despite all difficulties, it is important to stay with Prabhupada’s followers. They are the only ones who can understand our experience of Prabhupada; they are the only ones who can understand our feelings of indebtedness to him. That sanga provides solace. Our spiritual sentiments are soft and vulnerable, and even in the association of devotees they sometimes get bruised. But the benefit of devotee association is so great, the possibilities of Prabhupada-remembrance so pronounced, that the possibility of a little emotional pain caused by the mixed motives of others is worth the risk. We have to have faith, and most of us have the experience that only devotees can appreciate another’s love for Prabhupada. In this way, Prabhupada has formed our present. He has bound us by love and duty to preach and pray in the association of those who love him. He has bound us to his society.”
“Go to Swamiji. No one who has been involved in my life up until now encourages me or even understands what’s happening with me. I can’t think of even a single person. I gave up trying to share it. My parents rejected me over Krsna consciousness, even though they didn’t reject me when I was strung out on LSD and speed and had long hair. But now they have completely rejected me.
“I wrote a letter to Uncle Sal and Aunt Mary, but they never wrote back. My sister rejects me, too, and so does her husband. And Murray, my ‘real friend,’ is not even interested in this journey. We parted on the street. He went into the bar I used to go to with him. Goodbye, his face frozen in time (like a movie still) as he turned back to face me one last time. Other friends acted the same.
“I am strongly pulled toward Krsna consciousness, but it has withered up all my friendships. So many people can’t relate to what I am doing, to the Swami or to God or a ‘foreign religion.’ But I see now that no one really matters that much. I felt an initial sadness at the break of each friendship, but now my life from before I met Swamiji is completely over. Now I have new friends.”
“Devotees gather from different parts of the world in Vrndavana. Some are seeking to rise above mechanical devotional service and enter the higher appreciation. At the same time, we have been appreciating how Prabhupada himself taught us higher realization. Today I was appreciating how Prabhupada provided us the means to deal with the very basic doubts of a neophyte.
“It occurred to me that when we read the literature of the six Gosvamis about raganuga-bhakti, they are mainly addressing those who have dealt with their skepticisms and doubts. If the reader experiences too many doubts, then he shows himself ineligible. It means he lacks the greed and purification for raganuga-bhakti. In that case, he is encouraged to continue practicing vaidhi-bhakti until he becomes more qualified.
“But the fact is, although we may be seeking higher stages, we do (at least I do) still get visited by skepticism. I occasionally have doubts even in the existence of the spiritual world and the Personality of Godhead. Now that we are discussing Krsna’s intimate entourage, we can doubt whether Radha-Krsna affairs are really taking place and are the complete goal of all spiritual life.
“Where should one go with such shameful doubts? Therefore, I appreciated that Prabhupada was always available for us to hear our most basic, obnoxious doubts. We often expressed them on morning walks in what appeared to be a mock debate. He often invited us to take the roles of scientists and theologians.
“Prabhupada would say, ‘What do they say?’ He was inviting us to bring out our own skepticism. In the name of giving scientific arguments, we eagerly expressed our doubts. Then Prabhupada would directly confront them and defeat them. He defeated us with direct, simple logic and sastra. Prabhupada never shied away from dealing with us, even when we were doubtful; he never told us we had no right to be doubtful, but instead dismantled our skeptical thoughts and built our faith. It was refreshing.”
“ . . . Although hearing includes reading, Vedic knowledge is traditionally received through the faculty of the ear. Prabhupada often used words like ‘submissive aural reception,’ ‘ability to hear,’ ‘sound vibration’ and ‘receiving the message through the ear.’ Prabhupada also stated in one purport that hearing is more important than thinking in this age because ‘one’s thinking may become disturbed by mental agitation, but if one is concentrated on hearing, he will be forced to associate with the sound vibration of Krsna.’
“Prabhupada himself stressed the importance of hearing from him. He did not consider it enough that his disciples had his books to read if he was available speaking personally. Even when he was speaking in Hindi, a language few of his disciples understood, he expected them to listen attentively. The sound vibration was purifying.
“The Vedas also recommend constant and repeated hearing. The ears will hear something, and if not krsna-katha, then they will seek out the sound vibration of prajalpa.
“The message should be heard attentively, and if spoken by a realized soul, it will act on the dormant heart of the conditioned soul. And by continuously hearing, one can attain the perfect stage of self-realization.
Srila Prabhupada did not lecture only for his disciples. He did it as preaching. Anywhere he went in the world, he gave lectures, pandal programs, or meetings in his room. Although he was present in his books, he made himself personally present to be heard. He also trained his disciples to lecture. Lecturing was one of his main ways to serve Krsna. After finishing one late-night preaching marathon, Prabhupada once remarked, ‘Keep me talking—that is my life. Don’t let me stop talking.’”
“ . . . You saw them
breaking their chains.
Direct contact with Lord Krsna,
very difficult to obtain,
now streamed out freely from your singing.
What you did that afternoon was only a start,
yet whatever great thing devotees may do today,
is inspired by your chanting in Tompkins Square Park.
Your intimate act of redemption lives on;
the singing continues because of you.
Were you to have not chanted,
the world would have ended.
A world with love
means love of God
in the heart of His devotee,
who leads the people.
As you stood before the oak tree and spoke
to the common people on public ground,
hippies found it mellow,
local poets and musicians celebrated for the moment,
rowdies and hoodlums were held at bay,
and a few were struck with the serious thought
That afternoon is not recorded
in American or World History books,
although it was the perfect act
to save the country and the world from ruin,
but the day lives forever as fulfillment of scripture,
that every town and village shall chant
and even meat-eaters shall take part
the highest service to God and humans.”
“Prabhupada was annoyed when devotees in Vrndavana repeatedly walked in and out of his room and left the door open behind them, letting in flies.
“‘Why are you leaving the door open?’ he yelled. “It is a contagious disease.” And then he told a story.
“An employer advertised for an opening in his firm and received many applications. Based on these, he selected two men and asked them to come for an interview. The employer then observed each man carefully during the interview. When the first man entered the room, he left the door open behind him. The employer spoke with him for about fifteen minutes and then asked him to wait outside. When the second applicant entered, he shut the door behind him. After speaking with him, the employer asked him to also wait outside and then he called his secretary.
“‘That first man I spoke to,’ he said, ‘has all the qualifications, but I have decided to give the job to the second man.’
“‘Why is that?’
“‘Because the first man left the door open. It appears he is a lazy fellow. The other man shut the door, so while he may not be so qualified, he will learn quickly.’”
“‘In the present century, Kali is splurging his cheating powers as never before. Partly because of the new availability of world travel and communications, cheating yogis and swamis are more available. Although the authorized teachers of yoga and Indian spirituality tell us to restrain the senses, the cheating yogis avoid this. In order to make more followers and to collect money, unauthorized persons give a cheap imitation of meditation. They flatter their followers that they can meditate while simultaneously continuing their hedonistic habits.
“This demoniac sex mentality of material enjoyment is sometimes encouraged by so-called yogis who encourage the public to enjoy sex life in different varieties and at the same time advertise that if one meditates on a certain manufactured mantra, one can become God within six months. The public wants to be cheated, and Krsna therefore creates such cheaters to misrepresent and delude. These so-called yogis are actually enjoyers of the world garbed as yogis.
—Bhag. 3.20.35, purport
“Another symptom of pretenders is that they manufacture their own interpretations of scriptures like the Bhagavad-gita. They are not actually eager to hear the teachings of Lord Krsna but to squeeze out their own artificial meanings and interpretations. Lord Krsna has anticipated them and warned us in the Bhagavad-gita of asuras who ‘sometimes proudly perform [religious] sacrifices in name only, without following any rules and regulations.’ (Bg. 16.7).
“People sometimes think that no sadhus should be criticized. Certainly no true sadhus should be criticized, but it is the responsibility of the bona fide teachers to warn the public against frauds. Srila Prabhupada considered it one of his main duties. He said, ‘I am not anxious about going back to Godhead. I just want to expose these rascals.’”
“‘It is better to maintain a devotee than to try to convince others to become a devotee. . . . Your first job should be to make sure that every one of the devotees in your zone of management is reading regularly our literatures and discussing the subject matter seriously from different angles of seeing, and that they are somehow or other absorbing the knowledge of Krsna Conscious philosophy. . . . What good are many, many devotees if none of them are knowledgeable?’
—Letter, June 16, 1972 to Satsvarupa dasa Goswami
“Hearing Srimad-Bhagavatam regularly is of crucial importance to every devotee. The spiritual benefits cannot be overestimated, and they are glorified in all the scriptures. Somehow or other, if a devotee misses hearing Srimad-Bhagavatam, then he misses the greatest opportunity that comes with the human form of life. Simply by submissively hearing the Vedic knowledge, the bhakti-yogi surpasses all other forms of meditation. Yet this hearing should not be an occasional diversion; it should be regular, constant.
“Krsnadasa Kaviraja compares hearing to eating and drinking. If an ordinary man does not eat, he will grow weak and die. Similarly, if a devotee doesn’t taste the transcendental pastimes of Lord Caitanya Mahaprabhu and Lord Krsna, he will gradually weaken and die spiritually. To hear an authorized speaker elucidate a verse from Srimad-Bhagavatam is bhakti-yoga. ‘To hear and explain them [the Vedic literatures] is more important than reading them,’ writes Srila Prabhupada. ‘One can assimilate the knowledge of the revealed scriptures only by hearing and explaining.’ (Bhag. 1.1.6, purport) If we had only the translated verses of Bhagavad-gita and Srimad-Bhagavatam, without the authorized purports, we would not be able to grasp the real meaning.
“This brings us back to our main thesis in Vaisnava Behavior: it is the devotee himself who best demonstrates Krsna conscious knowledge and realization. The Srimad-Bhagavatam class is an opportunity to experience the Vaisnava philosophy in dynamic exchange, as the speaker explains the verses and answers relevant questions. Even though we are small and humble devotees compared to the great acaryas of the past, if we faithfully repeat the message and hear with intelligence and submission, then the potency will be intact. And the Srimad-Bhagavatam knowledge is so comprehensive that all ‘new’ questions and problems of the modern day can be sufficiently solved through the light of the Bhagavatam.”
“Why should a temple leader have to nag and coerce reluctant persons to take part in such blissful morning practices? He shouldn’t. Therefore, unless a person rises early and attends the morning program, he shouldn’t live in a temple. In writing to one temple president, Srila Prabhupada asserted that attendance at mangala-arati and chanting of sixteen rounds were the most important points of the Krsna conscious process. ‘But make it so that people may not think it too repressive so they will not go away, impressive but not repressive, that is the system.’ (Letter, February 13, 1972 to Hayagriva dasa)
“The morning program will be impressive if the temple leaders themselves are strictly participating and are also feeling some of the happy mood of Bhaktivinoda Thakura, then they can better inspire the others to follow. But if despite good example and precept, someone doesn’t care to participate in the most required morning practices, then that person is unfit to live in the temple. In an anxiety to recruit new, full-time members, the temple authorities should not bring in persons who are not advanced enough to voluntarily attend the morning program.
“Of course we work very very hard just to get someone to come to the platform of a devotee of Krsna, so we shall not be too much hasty to drive anyone out. Therefore we may forgive once, twice, but more than that we must take other steps. So if any new candidate for devotee comes forward you may test him very thoroughly to understand from him if he is ready to accept our strict standard of temple living. Let him understand that it is not an arbitrary or whimsical decision on our parts to become like military camp, rather we are strictly adhering to our devotional principles only so that we may make advancement in Krsna consciousness and be protected from the attack of maya consciousness.’
—Letter, December 31, 1972 to Dhananjaya dasa
“At the heart of the morning program is the recitation and lecture from Srimad-Bhagavatam. Hearing from Srimad-Bhagavatam is an eternal process, and on this planet it has been going on for at least 5,000 years, ever since Sukadeva Gosvami explained it to Maharaja Pariksit. But the specific format of the Srimad-Bhagavatam class that devotees in the Krsna consciousness movement follow was introduced by Srila Prabhupada.”
“Prabhupada our master
received word of his Guru Maharaja
Abhay Charan film told us.
Believe it I tell myself.
Hindu charans are something else.
Uddhava taught and Narada taught
Prabhupada is the guru
always the sisya laments he can’t
prepare himself for death
aspiring in the best way pleasing.
Once I entered an
immortal city told
the storyteller it
was beyond impersonal
Brahman the other man
was a wise-guy
and he still is
thinks he’s a channel
to teach us we’re all One.
Can you eat a little more?
Can you wash the kitchen dishes
while he’s on the phone
or cleaning his desk?
Yes, why not help
out with chores?
But I could be reading
Bhagavad-gita, cleaning my
mind of Shakespeare and
aprakat. I could be
trying again, what a lone
sannyasi should do
cleaning in the kitchen is
also Bhagavad-gita if
you do it right,
chant, think “I’m
with this work.”
Make it clean.
This is what I want to say
there’s no relief from the
things you want to say
you see-saw/shut it
out he said I put it
in a compartment and shut it—
his work for me.
The other man said I have a
creative side and don’t like to
be constantly called on by you and
your forces for moneymaking
and bailing out.
Another said can you recommend
me some krsna-katha? I said
‘How about when Sanatana
Goswami had sores, that’s good
for your situation I think.’
Another sent me a photo of him with arms upraised
amidst his flower garden
and he lamented, ‘I’m not a preacher.’
I said yes you are by growing
But for myself I get confused
what’s to do yeah we know
you say you thump it man
in between your doubts.
Deb-its – doubt-its –
daub-its, serve us pan-
cakes to offer to Krsna with the
official seal of approval.
They have to be trained ‘Hari-
jana’ not just stamped as
Gandhi did said Srila Prabhupada.
But I worry that
Pakistan (with A-bombs)
has gone under military control
until then, he and his uncle
sing. He had a band played
true improvisation didn’t
worry about anything else.
This devotee wrote me
‘I sing kirtana like Sadasiva of
Boston who sings I think like
screaming Jay Hawkins,
“I Put A Spell On You”
raw but unaffected.
What do you think?’
Climbing higher and higher in the
sixteen story inner dome,
thirty stories, up and up
our guru, the planets,
Radha and Madhava—
you want to be above Them?
What is your complaint?
Just that I think it may be
too much. I salute from the
earth. I better be quiet.
Render my own ode right here
from San Francisco of
he did 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.