I recommend all readers of Srila Prabhupada-lilamrta to listen to the weekly lectures that Daivisakti is giving on SPL. She reads extensively from the book but does considerable research to expand on the text. She speaks every Sunday in Vrndavana, and you can hear her lectures starting the following Monday by tuning in to YouTube (NOTE: Go to the YouTube search bar and type in the following: H.G. Daivi Shakti Mataji_Srila Prabhupada Lilamrita). Her lectures will increase your appreciation of SPL and inspire you with additional information.
I received a letter from Krsna-bhajana telling me of the progress in getting all the books printed and delivered to me before the beginning of December. Vyasa-puja falls on December 3rd. We had decided that the work in progress had to be finished by the end of August and then delivered. K.B. reported that progress was going well with the exception of a few workers who hadn’t finished their jobs on either proofreading or other services. I’m dictating this on August 29th. I wrote a personal letter to each of the persons who haven’t turned in their work finally completed. I’m trying to put a fire under them. We have to keep our schedule so we get the books printed on time. We are looking for more helpers to work on the book team, even after we complete .the “Prabhupada Set” on time for Vyasa-puja. We need typists, proofreaders, layout and design, and donors. Anyone who can help, please come forward. This is the mission I have given my disciples. It is no small task, and I’m really hopeful it can be completed before I leave the planet.
Manohara is leaving on Wednesday. He very generously volunteered to spend a six-week period as my servant in the ashram. He has been the best of all the servants. When he first entered the room to greet me, he bowed down in full dandavats, touching all parts of his body to the floor. I told him he didn’t have to do dandavats ever time he entered the room, just do it the first time you meet me in the morning. He said he liked to do dandavats. So he continued for the whole six weeks he was here to make full dandavats every time he entered the room.
He cooked gourmet Italian meals almost every day he has been here. They were wonderful and delicious, although we gained a couple of pounds. He has been so surrendered and intimate with me that I was at ease while he did menial services, helping me with all my morning duties: dressing, bathing, etc. I am not at all uncomfortable or embarrassed in his presence. He can see I need some aid in performing physical functions, and he spontaneously takes part in helping me, with no awkwardness. He did research for me on the Internet for my Janmastami and Radhastami lectures. This helps my lectures very much. When I gave my Janmastami lecture, I gave him credit by name.
When Manohara sees a need, he spontaneously addresses it without being asked. He does this whether it’s personal service to my body, or Deity worship to Radha-Govinda, or even in helping Baladeva and Krsna dasi. He gets a lot done in a day; he is very efficient. He serves with devotion, not with passion. He is a perfect gentleman. He is a pukka brahmana and is the leading minister for Deity worship for all the temples in Italy. I wish he could stay with us always, but he is married and has to work. Yet he is planning to return in October to be trained up by Lal Krishna to do layout work for GN Press.
Manohara’s plane got canceled because of inclement weather in Italy. He’s now got a new ticket, which enables him to stay until September 4th and be present for Radhastami. He thought he had to leave tomorrow so today he’s cooking a big meal, which coincides with Baladeva’s sister Kathi’s birthday. He’s making ravioli, and tiramisu for dessert. Lalita-kisori is trying to learn how to make those preps, so she’s helping Manohara.
Maitreya arrived yesterday to render service for two weeks. He has been serving in Alachua for eight years doing landscaping and maintenance. He is seventy-eight years old, but he keeps himself in good condition by working on the land and being self-controlled. Maitreya joined ISKCON in 1979 in Guyana and then got transferred to New York. In a meeting he told me that he has written a memoir and self-published it. He has it posted with Amazon, but he has struggled selling copies. Satyaraja wrote a favorable review comparing him to Mark Twain and Jack Kerouac. I ordered a book for myself. When I finish reading it I will tell my readers about it, and if they like, they can order a copy for themselves. It’s fortunate that Manohara had his plane canceled and he has to stay until September 4th. This way he is able train up Maitreya in the finer details of service to me and there is a smoother transition. Maitreya was born in England, and he tells in his memoir how, at seventeen years old, he had a little revelation that life wasn’t meant just for eating and sleeping and sex, but there must be a higher purpose. So he wandered and searched for the truth. And he found it in the Krsna consciousness movement. He is respectful, and I like his company. He has served me several times over the years. He’s very steady.
Yesterday we had an unannounced visit from an agent from the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services. She showed her big badge to Krsna dasi, who was the only one home at the time. Krsna dasi was frightened and flustered, not knowing what to do. So she phoned Baladeva and he drove right back home from his errands. When he arrived, the agent was sitting on the porch, working on a computer. Baladeva cordially greeted her and introduced himself. She started a site investigation just to find out if we were an active religious organization that had the need and the support basis for bringing the two women from Ireland to the U.S. to work with us. She had a whole packet of questions, and Baladeva answered them. He then brought her into the temple and explained the intricacies of Deity worship. After that he showed her the pujari room, where all the Deity jewelry is made and dresses put together. She was impressed by the handiwork. She seemed especially impressed by all the flowers from our garden and how we use them in the Deity worship on our altars.
There were good moments when Baladeva was able to show her my paintings, which showed devotees doing arati, holding kirtana, offering flowers, wearing garlands, etc. She seemed to be making all the connections to the various activities. She saw our need for more help, since just Baladeva and Krsna dasi were present. Baladeva told her a lot of what he did was to take care of me, along with everything else. She inquired about prasadam, and Baladeva told her we were commonly known as the “kitchen religion” for our profuse distribution of prasadam. It just so happened that on the desk was a six-pack of chocolate chip cookies destined for a doctor, but he handed them to her and she gladly accepted. He told her whatever visitors we get or meet, we distribute cookies. She said, “Oh, it’s blessed food.”
The visit was focused on Silavati (who was in Ireland) because Silavati is being introduced to them primarily as a religious worker in the Deity department, along with all the other services she does. Then they turned to the GN Press side, which would be mostly Anuradha’s profile. Baladeva showed her Prabhupada’s books and how they were very scholarly, with the Sanskrit and transliterations, etc., and especially the appreciations from scholars from around the world. She was looking at the library in the temple room and taking pictures. (In fact, she was taking pictures the whole time.) He showed her the whole long shelf of Prabhupada’s books, and underneath that, a whole long shelf of my books. And he told her how active the Press was: for example, this year we produced sixteen books. He showed her the eight books about Prabhupada that we have already published this year. We believe she was satisfied and impressed that we were an active, viable temple and press.
In our out-loud reading we just finished the KRSNA book, and in voting for the next book, two devotees chose Nectar of Devotion and two chose Bhagavad-gita As It Is. I was designated to break the tie, so I voted in favor of Bhagavad-gita As It Is. We’re up to Chapter Two. It is pleasant reading it again and getting a fresh look, seeing new lights.
In the First Chapter, the armies on the battlefield are described. Kuruksetra is described as a dharmaksetra, a holy place. Dhrtarastra is afraid that fighting a battle in a holy place will be an ill omen for his side. On the other side are the pious Pandavas, Arjuna and the Supreme Personality of Godhead Himself, Krsna. Actually this means that Dhrtarastra will lose the battle. But by the outside look of things, Dhrtarastra has a bigger army than the Pandava side, and he has great warriors too. Duryodhana is the head fighter, but he has to go to Dronacarya, the commander, to speak to him diplomatically. He tells Dronacarya not to be easy towards other members on the enemy side to whom he may be affectionate. Arjuna is Dronacarya’s pet student, whom he trained in fighting. He also trained Dhrstadyumna, who arranged for the phalanxes on the Pandava side. Duryodhana warns his side that they must protect Bhismadeva at all costs. He is the greatest warrior, but he is an old man so all the other fighters should protect him on all sides. He might be inattentive on one side and the enemy may get at him, so all of the fighters should stay in the phalanx and protect Bhismadeva so he can exert his mighty prowess.
In the Second Chapter, Arjuna requests his chariot driver, Krsna, to pull up the chariot between the two armies so he can see them and get an estimation of whom he is to fight against. He addresses Krsna as Acyuta, or one who never fails. Krsna is taking the subordinate role, being the driver to the warrior Arjuna. So Arjuna requests Krsna not to be infallible and carry out His word to be his chariot driver. When Arjuna sees the army on the other side, he becomes very emotional on seeing that all his enemies are actually his relatives and kinsmen. He feels compassion for them. He loses his fighting spirit and tells Krsna that his body is growing weak. Prabhupada writes in his purport that we can imagine how Arjuna is even crying tears.
At first Srila Prabhupada writes that these are the symptoms of a softhearted devotee and he is virtuous. But later Prabhupada changes this attitude and says that Arjuna’s feelings are not appropriate for a ksatriya. Arjuna says he would not like to win a great kingdom if it means he had to kill his kinsmen and relatives. He said he feels that he would be tainted with blood. He becomes so weak his famous Gandiva bow slips from his hand and falls down, and he seats himself on the chariot instead of standing. He finally tells Krsna, “O Govinda, I shall not fight.” Prabhupada writes that Dhrtarastra must have been overjoyed to learn that Arjuna wasn’t going to fight. Krsna then reprimands Arjuna and says to him, “Wherefrom are coming these words? They are not worthy of a ksatriya.” Prabhupada then writes that Arjuna is being miserly and a non-Aryan. Krsna tells Arjuna that he is speaking learned words but that he is actually a fool. Arjuna then surrenders to Krsna and says, “Now I am Your disciple. Please tell me what to do.” Krsna smiles that a friend has accepted Him as a spiritual master. Now Dhrtarastra’s joy is short-lived because Arjuna has accepted Krsna as his spiritual master, and Krsna will fix him in the right consciousness, and he will definitely fight to the end.
Yesterday the Prabhupada Sena men came again, eight men strong, with a woman and a small child accompanying them. Narottama was the leader. They worked hard all day and accomplished a lot. They finished painting the barn, put flashing paper down where the dirt was touching the wood and rotting it. By hand they mixed eighty bags of concrete and poured a slab in front of the garage doors, where previously there was just a big mud puddle. We hired a big mechanical lift, and with that, in addition to their painting work, the men trimmed away all the branches from the side of the building which were starting to rub and corrode it.
After a full day’s work, they met with me at 5:00 PM. I was wearing a yellow Prabhupada Sena t-shirt with the words, “How shall I serve you?” Under that were the words, “Srila Prabhupada-lilamrta,” and under that, in big letters, “Prabhupada Sena.” Narottama very much wanted to sing a kirtana for me, so, playing the harmonium, and with a very sweet, melodious voice, he sang Prabhupada’s pranam mantras, the Panca-Tattva mantra, and then over fifteen minutes of the Hare Krsna mantra, lead and response. (In addition to the harmonium they had mrdanga and karatalas.) Narottama then told me about the spreading of Prabhupada Sena groups. I spoke and said that Prabhupada Sena was very pleasing to Prabhupada and that they were doing an important service in ISKCON. Prabhupada wanted his followers to cooperate, and they are a good example of this. They go to different temples and ashrams and render service, repairing the places, painting, etc. They also attend big festivals and help out with the action there.
Krsna dasi is making new jewelry. She says the pujari should give the Deity new things—dresses and jewelry—on a festival day, especially a day like Radhastami. New outfits just arrived from Tapan in India, and they will be used for Radhastami.
The picture here at Viraha Bhavan is that everyone is busy doing things. David is working on the cabinet to hold drawers for storing utensils and pots where the two old ovens used to be. Kathi went out shopping for bhoga for the next couple of days’ meals.
1-2) A certain gopi maidservant, not seeing her Mistress, the Queen of Vrndavana, and considering Her lotus feet the only goal of life, became distressed, fell down at the shore of Her lake (Radha-kunda), cried with loud sounds of pain and, in order to see Her beautiful face, sang the following names.
3) Radha is known as 1. Gandharvika, 2. The sole beloved of Vraja’s Prince, 3. Gandharva, 4. Radhika, 5. She who appeared as the Gandharva Candrakanti, 6. The intimate friend of Lord Madhava,
4) 7. The unalloyed friend of Lord Krsna 8. The Queen who glorifies the fame of the month of Karttika, 9. The jeweled crown placed in the braided hair of Lord Mukunda’s beloveds,
5) 10. A worshiper of the sun god, 11. The daughter of King Vrsabhanu 12. Born from King Vrsabhanu, 13. The elder sister of Ananga-manjari, 14. The younger sister of Sridama, 15. The supreme goddess of fortune,
6) 16. Kirtida’s daughter, 17. Flooded with the nectar of love for Her mother, 18) The contemporary friend of Visakha, 19) The person Visakha considers dearer than life,
7) 20. The person for whom Lalita is nondifferent from Her own life’s breath, 21. Who enjoys pastimes in Vrndavana, 22. The person for whose protection Lalita will give her life hundreds of thousands of times, 23. The Queen of Vrndavana,
8) 24. Who is an abode of love for Yasoda-devi as much as She is for Krsna, 25. Who is the life of the cows, gopas and gopis of Vraja,
9) 26. Who is loved by the King of the gopas, 27. Who is loved by Lord Krsna’s elder brother, 28. Who is eager to serve the surabhi cows loved by Lord Govinda,
10) 29. Whose heart longs to visit Nandisvara, 30. Who considers that Her body and the body of Her friend Dhanistha are one,
11) 31. Who goes to the kitchen of the gopas’ queen, 32. Whose cooking increases life, 33. Whose head Rohinidevi smells (with maternal affection),
12) 34. Who looks like Subala, 35. Who is happy when Subala is happy, 36. Who is the granddaughter who is nectar to Mukhara’s eyes, 37. Who is afraid of being seen by Jatila,
13) 38. The moonlight of whose smile shines because of Madhumangala’s joking words, 39. Who is a playful parrot let out of its cage by Paurnamasi,
14) 40. Who is the life and soul of Her friends, 41. Who makes Her friends proud, 42. Who is very happy, with Her friends, to attain the touch of the Prince of Vraja’s lotus feet,
15) 43. Who has appointed Vrndadevi protectress of Her Vrndavana garden, 44. Who personally knows each vine, tree, animal and bird in Vrndavana forest, . . . .”
(To Be Continued)
“Now we are reading about Abhay in his most difficult years. He was evicted from Jhansi. He had no money, no business, no family responsibilities. But his Godbrothers competed for his service as editor and writer of their Gaudiya Math magazines. He went to work for the Sajjana Tosani in New Delhi. They asked him to settle the petty quarreling in the Math, and to write and edit in his spare time without a typewriter. The Godbrother in charge wanted only five hundred copies a month. But Prabhupada couldn’t take writing and editing as a perfunctory duty. He saw it as an absorbing meditation. Abhay found a way to print a thousand copies a month at the same price they were paying for five hundred. He rented his own typewriter and envisioned the magazine becoming as popular as Time or Life. But his Godbrother dismissed him because he didn’t agree with Abhay’s ambitious plans.
“What next? ‘In terms of food, clothing, and shelter, these were the most difficult times he had ever gone through.’ He moved around Delhi from week to week, sometimes staying at a temple, sometimes in a room . . . but he wasn’t striving to solve his material problems. He was preaching, getting appointments with leading citizens, showing them the manuscript that he had written and wanting to publish, with his plans for a worldwide movement.
“People’s impressions of him were often like this: ‘He had a smiling demeanor. The main thing was his humility. He could talk with affection and confidence, and he knew we were discussing things dear to God. So every talk with him would sublimate us.’
“During a time when most people would have been scheming how to get out of a near desperate situation—no income, nowhere to live, and no regular meals—Abhay was thinking of something else: How to publish.”
“ . . . . Yesterday I autographed books. Today I am back to point blank, asking myself if I am humble, whether or not I have any love for Krsna, and whether or not I am compassionate? I looked at my essay ‘Krsna Recognizes the Preacher’ to see why my Godbrother had been inspired by it. The main thing he found inspiring was the quotes from Prabhupada. The essay focuses on the Vaisnava’s compassion and quotes one of the best references to preaching in Prabhupada’s purports. It’s no wonder that he would find this inspiring. The quote is from Lord Siva’s expression when he went to swallow the ocean of poison to save the universe:
“‘It is said that great personalities almost always accept voluntary suffering because of the suffering of people in general. This is considered the highest method of worshiping the Supreme Personality of Godhead, who is present in everyone’s heart.’ (Bhag. 8.7.44)
“I should never desert the preaching field. Srila Prabhupada said he wanted to die on that field, like a warrior who dies in battle. How I may preach—whether by writing, taking care of disciples, and how to do that—these are important details. But somehow don’t forget that people in general are suffering, and Krsna consciousness is great mercy for them. Take trouble to give it to them.
“‘The Vaisnava understands that Krsna wants to bring the conditioned souls back to Godhead; therefore he takes the same mood as Krsna. He doesn’t become Krsna yet he thinks like Krsna: ‘Krsna wants all the conditioned souls to go back to Godhead. Look at them, they’re all suffering. They should be enjoying with Krsna. Krsna wants to enjoy with them. They are so unfortunate.’ That’s the mood of the Vaisnava . Within the realm of devotional service, the quickest way to get Krsna’s recognition is to become a preacher. Krsna notices those who try to help others come to Krsna consciousness.
“Our prayer is, ‘Please engage me in Your compassionate mission.’ Whether we become compassionate, I said, that is secondary. But please engage us in Your mission.”
“You’ve got me laughing, You’ve got me crying, You’ve got me praying on my knees. You’re invisible, and beautifully present with Your peacock feather. You walk and You do not walk. You are far away but very near as well. You are within everything, and yet outside of everything. This is an explanation of Your transcendental activities as executed by Your inconceivable potencies. Contradictions prove Your inconceivable pastimes.
“I accept the fact that You cannot be understood by my tiny brain. I love this fact and would not have it any other way. What worshiper would want a God who is entirely understandable? How could He be God if we could know Him fully? Yet You allow Yourself to be controlled by Your intimate devotees. Another inconceivable trait. You have a humanlike form but also a universal form comprising the entire material existence. You encourage Your devotees to love You and play with You in Your humanlike form. But sometimes You reveal to them—as You did to the residents of Vrndavana—that Your form contains the whole universe. You urge Your devotees to finish the cycle of birth and death and attain liberation with You in Goloka Vmdavana. Yet as Lord Caitanya, You prayed that all You wanted was to render the Supreme Lord causeless devotional service life after life. What is the best thing You want from us? In Bhagavad-gita, You say You want us to surrender to You and not fear. Krsna says, ‘I will protect you from sinful reactions.’ In the most important verse of Bhakti-rasamrta-sindhu, Srila Rupa Gosvami declares that the topmost devotional service is to serve You with no tinge of karma, jnana, or yoga. We should be fully inclined to please You.
“So I want to work toward that goal—the intent to fully please You. It is not easy, and yet Your acaryas say it can be done in one lifetime. If we develop love for You and follow Your directions to chant Your names, hear Your pastimes and perform unalloyed service, we can join You in the spiritual world after this lifetime. I pray for the purity and strength and mercy to achieve it. Surely Your mercy is required. Please accept this prayer for mercy, that I may engage myself fully and become eligible to join You and render loving service to You for eternity.
“You are inconceivable but very kind, and I appeal to You to bestow Your inconceivable kindness on me. Give me the determination to become a pure devotee. I will have to work to achieve that, but You can give me the inspiration to do it.”
“The library party was a wonderful part of my life. It was a preaching success and was pleasing to Prabhupada. He even wrote about it in one of his books: ‘I request my disciples who are determined to help me in this work to continue their cooperation fully, so that philosophers, scholars, religionists and people in general all over the world will benefit by reading our transcendental literatures such as Srimad-Bhagavatam and Sri Caitanya-caritamrta.’
“I have already mentioned in the autobiography the technique we used. I used the road atlas and planned out our route throughout the States, being careful not to miss a college. It was hard work, going to the professors and convincing them that their library needed a full set of Srimad-Bhagavatam and Sri Caitanya-caritamrta.
“Our party consisted of about six men, but two men did the real bulk of the work—that is, Ghanasyama (later Bhaktitirtha Swami) and Mahabuddhi. I wasn’t a good salesman. Ghanasyama said I was too honest. I couldn’t close a big sale. My service to the party was to give counsel and settle quarrels among the men. Ghanasyama and Mahabuddhi were the main competitors. At each college town there were professors who were the most likely to sign for the standing order for their college library. They would be teaching in the field of Eastern or Indian religion, or something that seemed to make them inclined towards Prabhupada’s books. I had to play the referee. I had to also convince the other men that they shouldn’t go. I gave Mahabuddhi and Ghanasyama turns at going to see the most likely professors because they were pretty much the best salesmen. The other devotees were not as good, and so it was easy to convince them that Mahabuddhi and Ghanasyama should go. Subhananda was a good scholar in the field, and he knew the names of the professors in the other colleges, so he was pretty insistent that he should be given a chance to do the standing orders. But he wasn’t a good salesman, so I had to convince him not to go.
“First you had to get past the professor’s suspicion that this was a religious group proselytizing. They couldn’t figure out if you were wearing a wig. But one time a professor asked Mahabuddhi if he was wearing a wig, and he dismissed it with a laugh, ‘Sure! Everyone in California wears one!’ Ghanasyama had a way of double-talking himself out of any situation. He got the recommendations of the professors, and then it was just a matter of getting the librarian to sign the paper to order the books. I used to get caught at almost everything—wearing a wig, being a member of the Hare Krsna movement, and being a disciple of His Divine Grace A. C. Bhaktivedanta Swami Prabhupada. But as long as I could go see a professor teaching English or Sociology, I could sell a few books.
“It was a free-wheeling life, traveling in the afternoon to the next college town and settling down at a campground or inexpensive motel. We talked and sang and read and laughed about the day’s adventures, and we drove on. I had preliminary copies of the new Caitanya-caritamrta manuscripts before they were published, and I read them to the group. Mahabuddhi especially liked to hear of the battles between the demons and the devotees in Srimad-Bhagavatam. We would wash and iron our shirts and press our suits and shine our shoes and take rest in our sleeping bags. For breakfast we might have granola and milk and fruit, and we would make sandwiches for lunch. I would write letters to Prabhupada on behalf of the party, and he would write back with statements like, “You are doing the most important work,” and “Your preaching in the colleges is a great pleasure to me; I am most pleased with the standing orders.”
“What Prabhupada liked as much as the sales was the favorable letters that the professors wrote. We would ask them to write a letter after reading the book, and surprisingly they waxed eloquent about the virtues of Prabhupada’s books.”
“ . . . You are not coming into the presence of an or¬dinary friend. By His mercy, He who is the cause of everything, likes you to speak with Him.
“But what do you say?
“You can give thanks to Krsna for giving you the Hare Krsna mantra and for sending Srila Prabhupada. Be honest in humility, admit your shortcomings.
“So that’s you speaking. But what about Krsna speaking to you?
“Do you doubt it? He speaks in the Bhagavad-gita. As Prabhupada says, ‘When Krsna Himself speaks, it is auspicious for all the worlds . . . . The devotees will always worship such authoritative statements of Krsna because they are always eager to know more and more about Him.’
“Here you may doubt: ‘But when Krsna spoke the Bhagavad-gita, that was in a particular circumstance to Arjuna. Of course, He was speaking to everyone, but still, it doesn’t mean that He was speaking to you in your little meditation. Are you imagining that He’s speaking to you?’
“No, it’s not imagination. It is personal, Krsna.
“Here is another quote:
“‘O my Lord, Your devotees can see You through the ears by the process of bona fide hearing, and thus their hearts become cleansed, and You take Your seat there. You are so merciful to Your devotees that You manifest Yourself in the particular eternal form of transcendence in which they always think of You” (Bhag. 3.9.11).
“So what I have called Krsna talking to you is actually a kind of prayerful reading. You’ll hear Krsna speaking by your submissive hearing of His words. As we read, we can pray to Krsna to please make His words clear to us, and help us learn how to personally apply them. After reading in this way for as long as you can sustain it—or as much as you can budget in your time schedule—then you can again speak your heart to Krsna and Prabhupada. Ask them for what you need in devotional service. And just as you pray for your own needs, pray for the needs of others, your devotee friends, and those who are without Krsna. And then go on thanking Krsna and make a resolution to serve Him today. This is the essence of Prabhupada meditation.”
“Lining up with Srila Prabhupada cannot be forced. It may be a fact of nature that I am not inspired equally by all of Srila Prabhuyada’s programs and ways of teaching. Neither did Srila Prabhupada demand everything of each disciple—he sometimes indicated that he was satisfied if one simply followed the basics. But the more I follow, the better it is for me.
“I follow Srila Prabhupada as much as possible out of self-interest. Srila Prabhupada never scorned self-interest, but said that it had to be purified. I want to make myself a better servant of Srila Prabhupada and Krsna, to situate myself free of designations, whimsy and sense gratification, and I want to enter the mellow of eternal servitorship. That is my real self-interest—to love guru and Krsna. The more I feel confident in relating to Srila Prabhupada, the more I will receive Krsna consciousness in a realized way.
“Prabhupada meditations help me to do this by recalling the incidents and details of my life with him, and meditating on his meaning. I do it to become more favorable to him. I do it so that I can gradually overcome resistances and lukewarm attitudes that I may have towards Srila Prabhupada.
“Because we’re individuals even in the spiritual world, it’s inevitable that there will be certain traits and teachings of Srila Prabhupada to which I will be especially drawn, gratefully and wholeheartedly. Srila Prabhupada writes, ‘There are nine standard items of devotional service of the Lord, and a candidate can make his choice to adopt any one, two, three, four or all of the items together as he likes. Since all the services are rendered to the Absolute, they are absolute, and there is no material difference of quality.’ (Easy Journey to Other Planets). Srila Prabhupada also said that a spiritual master should be expert in finding out what his disciple is best suited for, and thus he assigns him, ‘You should work in the editorial department, you should work in the cooking department, etc.’
“Let me, therefore, be a department man in his movement, and a specialist in certain items of the bhakti process. As I work in my favorite way, let me do it according to the way he taught. Let my whole self be offered to him. As I observe the many aspects of Srila Prabhupada, I see that I cannot personally follow all of them—such as how to raise children in Krsna consciousness, earning money and giving it to Krsna conscious projects, being a king for the Lord (like Prataparudra Maharaja), defeating the materialistic scientists—yet let me be at least a basic student of those teachings of Prabhupada. Let me appreciate those who are expert specialists in various fields. And let me praise the glories of my teacher.”
“Throughout the ages, speaking and hearing about Krsna has always been one of the most important and relishable ways for Vaisnavas to associate together.
Devotees hold kirtanas, they share prasadam, and almost more than anything else, they like to enlighten one another in Krsna consciousness. If we are therefore interested in meditations on Srila Prabhupada, one of the best ways to achieve it is to attend his lectures and hear what he says.
“He enters the temple a few moments before the darsana of the Deities. To the accompaniment of the ‘Govindam’ song, he offers his full dandavats before each of the altars, and then stands to slowly and lovingly greet the Deities. Srila Prabhupada then goes to his vyasasana and joins in the kirtana. After that, his servant hands him his reading spectacles, and another devotee opens the Srimad-Bhagavatam and places it before Srila Prabhupada on the bookstand. Prabhupada sings, ‘Jaya Radha-Madhava’—and only ‘Jaya Radha-Madhava’—for a few minutes. One of the devotees leads recitation of the Sanskrit, and then Prabhupada begins to lecture on the verse.
“He dips into the stream of parampara. Although the devotees are somewhat familiar with the subject matter, no one can ever guess exactly where and how Srila Prabhupada will start again. His speaking is as good as the speaking of Sukadeva Gosvami, and it is up to his audience to be like Maharaja Parikit and listen with rapt attention.
“Prabhupada was aware that he was battling against outer forces for the attention of his audience, and that the minds of conditioned souls are flickering. One can hear this battle as the background to his lectures of 1966 given at 26 Second Avenue. It was not unusual for a Bowery bum or rowdy to step in the open doorway and hurl insults even while Srila Prabhupada was lecturing. Prabhupada was not fazed by these interruptions. He would immediately say to an intruder, ‘Don’t disturb, don’t disturb.’ Sometimes teenagers would stop outside and turn up the volume on their radios, pouring Latin American music into the storefront.
“Srila Prabhupada would incorporate these interruptions into his lecture. In one class, while explaining how conditioned souls are beset with the threefold miseries, he said, ‘Just like we are trying to speak. We are not harming anyone, causing any problem, but still, some people come and they cause disturbances.’ Srila Prabhupada was determined and unperturbed, but he was also vulnerable. When a few teenagers stayed longer than usual at the doorway making noise, Prabhupada said, ‘Where do they come from? They are disturbing.’ And then he laughed with resignation. On another occasions when young girls were screaming outside, Prabhupada softly moaned, ‘Oh,’ and it seemed to pain his heart. He turned to his audience for help, ‘Can you not stop them?’
“Prabhupada was sensitive to the smallest noise, but when there was nothing else to do he simply raised his voice and went on with his talk. He was able to keep his mind fixed on his lecture even though the disturbances continued. (Hear the constant fireworks during his lectures in Bombay.)”
Think of his shoes.
The first white slippers.
Then canvas ones, some dyed saffron.
The shoes you find now on many vyasasanas—did he wear them all?
And those imprints that Kuladri took
of Prabhupada’s feet in Manhattan, 1976—what about them?
How much of Prabhupada do they contain? It depends on your faith.
Even if you touched his actual feet, what was the benefit if
now you don’t follow,
and don’t think of him?
Stay with his feet.
At least you are thinking about his feet.
Let us talk of his vani and serve him, while sitting at his feet.
I’m simply glad to have stumbled here, blessed by Prabhupada,
unto his feet.
I chant at his feet.
His feet are symbolic,
and rosy soles.
Walked on beaches,
floors of rooms,
pointed at you while he sat at his low desk,
in your mind, imprinted.
They are the objects of veneration for the humble servitor.
I bow at his feet.”
“By smiling involuntarily I mean the best kind of smiles, when you can’t help yourself but feel your lips parting back from your teeth, and there you are, smiling. Perhaps you even make an effort not to smile, but you have to smile anyway. It was very pleasing to see Prabhupada smile like that, because it was so humanlike. Somehow or other, we all hankered to see those aspects of Prabhupada. He was godlike; he was heavy as guru. If he had not been so heavy, he would not have been able to take us out of maya. But we all sought his smile as a special kind of lift; and also for tenderness’ sake, we very much wanted to see Srila Prabhupada smile. Perhaps that is one reason why I so much like the early days with him, because there was so much of it.
“Last night I thought of two occasions in which I saw Prabhupada smile ‘involuntarily.’ One was when he was answering mail in his room in Hawaii, and one was when he was sitting in his garden in Los Angeles talking with devotees.
As Prabhupada’s traveling secretary, I was reading the mail out loud to him in Hawaii. One was a letter from Gopala Krsna in India. Gopala Krsna said that it was becoming difficult to deal with all Godbrothers, and that he had decided to resign as GBC man for India. He wrote that his Godbrothers even said that Prabhupada thought of him as a person who is useful only for going to see people in the Indian government. They did not think of him as a real devotee.
“When he heard that some of the disciples said Gopala Krsna was only good for seeing government agents, Prabhupada smiled. It was not a smile for me to see, but his personal reflection, his thinking of that disciple. In this smile he seemed to assess and understand why the Godbrothers would say that about Gopala Krsna, and he shared the amusement. But Prabhupada’s smile also felt the hurt and identified with Gopala Krsna himself. Why should they minimize him in that way? Of course, I probably read some of these feelings of my own into Prabhupada’s smile. One cannot really read the mind of the pure devotee. I also thought that Prabhupada was thinking there was nothing wrong in using his disciple in that way, to see government men for Krsna’s service. But Prabhupada also smiled (I thought) because he saw that his disciple wanted to be recognized as a spiritual person, not just a messenger who could do worldly chores. The main thing about this smile was not the meaning but the magic of it. It was a private revelation.”
“One may object, ‘There are so many things to do for Prabhupada. Why sit around and try to remember being with him?’ I agree, but can’t we spare some time to try to do this? Are we so effective now on Swamiji’s behalf? Are we doing such tremendous things? I mean, do we have such complete potency that we do not need to get in touch with him in a very personal and primitive way again? The fact is, we do need to get in touch with him. The essence of Krsna consciousness is not just propaganda and organization, but attraction to the Lord, and especially to the Lord’s holy name, which is the most merciful way that He appears in the world. Yet, as merciful as the holy name is, He has to be given by a devotee. You have to receive the holy name from a pure devotee. Therefore, I remember those mornings when Prabhupada gave us the holy name.
“O Holy Name, You are so kind that You came with the Swami to the Lower East Side. You appeared there in the mouths of his boys and purified us. You purified Tompkins Square Park and the whole atmosphere of New York City. You kindly appeared in our kirtanas by the wish of Your pure devotee, who knew how to form Your sacred letters. Those ‘alphabets,’ as Prabhupada said, are nondifferent from Krsna; they are Krsna. You do not appear just by anyone’s combining of the alphabets K-R-S-N-A. When Swamiji did it, You appeared in that storefront, so that even crazy boys became enthusiastic to possess You.
“Initiation was my beginning, but I did not appreciate it then. Now I wish to fall at Your feet and surrender my mind.
“That is the best kind of memory, to actually go back in time and say, ‘I accept.’ Arjuna took an hour and a half to do it in Bhagavad-gita; we may have to take twenty-five or forty years to say, ‘I am ready, I accept.’”
“Turn to Prabhupada. What do I mean by that? You are facing in one direction, and you hear a sound; or your mind tells you that you want to look in another direction. Physically, you move your neck and head in order to see the desired object, or you may turn your whole body. At least you turn your attention.
“When we turn to Prabhupada, what do we see? Like dawn, at first we do not see much. We strain our eyes and wait as outlines start to become clear. We see the peaks of hills and can clearly distinguish the horizon. The sun is not up yet, but we desire to be with Prabhupada—so we talk of him.
“Way off in the mind’s eye, we seem to see him going out on another walk, and we run to catch up. Abstractly, but in truth, we think again of how our lives have been made fortunate by meeting a great devotee of the Lord. He gives us salvation and turns us to the next life without so much fear. As Christ says, ‘Those to whom much is given, much is required.’ Because we have been given his association, there is an obligation. This is guru-daksina.
“People who have a relationship bound in love are obliged to continue it. One reason relationships diminish is that people do not communicate. The same thing can happen in the guru-disciple relationship. One can continue to perform the rituals but lose the sense of being in love. When the guru-disciple relationship begins, it is romantic. One is swept off one’s feet in adoration. You promise to give everything. However, we have to learn how to stay in love with Srila Prabhupada.”
“Did Prabhupada ever lose his gravity? There are examples in scripture of very grave Vaisnavas who did ‘let go.’ Ramananda Raya, Haridasa Thakura, and Advaita Acarya took part in water sports with the other devotees. They became so ‘frivolous’ in their games that Lord Caitanya sent Svarupa Damodara to ask them to please stop.
“As for Srila Prabhupada, he was always ready to make some quiet jokes, even in a serious situation. He liked to see the humorous side of things. Surabhi Swami tells a story that when Prabhupada was introduced to his opulent Bombay quarters in the new tower, one of the devotees said, ‘It’s fit for a king.’ Prabhupada responded, almost under his breath, ‘But where is the queen?’ He was always making little jokes, turning words around and playing on words. As a preacher, he always had to be sharp with words.
“One day on a morning walk, Prabhupada was explaining Prabodhananda Sarasvati’s verse where he states, ‘I take a straw in my teeth and bow before you and ask you to hear about Lord Caitanya.’ One of Prabhupada’s sannyasi disciples said, ‘That is a very humble statement.’ Prabhupada replied, ‘A humble statement for giving you a slap in the face.’ Prabhupada went on to explain that the devotee is only humble so that he can ask you to kick out everything except Lord Caitanya’s teachings.
“Prabhupada wasn’t always solemn-faced, and neither did he honor every word that was spoken to him. He sometimes made people look silly by punning on their words or turning around what they said and showing its inadequacy. He used people’s words as a springboard to go on to something further, sometimes making a joke at their expense in the process. Although Prabhupada never engaged in any kind of raucous behavior, he was not a stiff or tense person. He was always in the mood to see the humor in life.”
“Dear Srila Prabhupada,
“Please accept my humble obeisances at your lotus feet.
“I know the sastras say that when one comes into the presence of the spiritual master he should praise him. I praise you, Srila Prabhupada, because you are my life. Without you, I would know nothing about God. I would probably be an atheist recycling himself through the lower species of life over and over with no hope of freedom. Praising you is a natural inclination of my heart. You are able to purify me of unclean thoughts. You cut off my inclination for bad association. I have to praise you as my savior. Let me tell the world what a great devotee you are!
“I want to give you an update of my activities. You already know what I am doing, and unfortunately, you also know how little I am doing. But I remember how you liked us to inform you anyway. Do you remember the time in 1969 when I was typing your dictation tapes and not writing to you frequently enough? You wrote back and said, ‘Don’t keep me in the dark.’ You are never in the dark, Srila Prabhupada, but you kindly asked us to reciprocate with you.
“Having to tell you what I am doing helps keep me on the straight path of Krsna consciousness. If I know that I am going to write you a letter, I won’t want to have to report something shameful. I remember when you were present before 1977, I used to think over nice topics to relate to you and how to say them. If I can continue that meditation, it will help me to remember you in a real way. I know that remembering you is not for your benefit but for mine. Thank you for accepting my service in this way.
“In the past when I wrote you letters, I always tried to ask you a philosophical question. Of course, after a while you advised us to look in your books for the answers, and if things still weren’t clear, to ask the senior devotees. I don’t want to bother you with questions like, ‘What is the origin of the living entity?’ My main question is the one which you asked your spiritual master, ‘How may I serve you?’ You know I often hesitate to ask that, partly because I’m not sure how to phrase the question in a way that covers the range of feelings I experience when I ask it, and partly because I am a little afraid of what you might say. But I still sincerely desire to serve you. I want to do something that is pleasing and useful to you.
“I am determined to carry on the course I am following now, serving you by writing and taking care of disciples on your behalf, but I am always open to your direction at all times. Even if you told me to make an about-face and go in the other direction, I would do it. I don’t know if I am really bold enough to stand behind that statement, but at least I have dared to write it into this letter so you can know my aspiration.
“I hope to be able to hear from you and of your activities in the spiritual world.
The pleasure of reading
the creamy pages,
the comfortable print
in Prabhupada’s last
Tenth Canto volume:
Krsna with the boys,
as the whorl of the lotus.
When lights are low
and a good singer
the song of baby Krsna,
Damodara-vrata in U.S.A.
is just as good as Vraja’s.”
“It’s a strange situation. Does Krsna like us to suffer in dry chanting, or would He prefer us to be happy by chanting with taste? Krsna wants genuine feeling from us. It may be that due to our offenses we can’t have blissful chanting right now, but when Krsna sees that we persist patiently that fact, He will be pleased with us. Right now, the pleasure of chanting is being withheld from us. Then we have to follow the sreyas principle and stick it out. Nectar will come, but first we have to understand what the nectar is.
“This reminds me of Daruka, Krsna’s chariot driver, who felt that the ecstasies in his body impeded him in his service. Whenever he was around Krsna, he felt so much ecstasy that his hand would shake and he couldn’t fan the Lord properly. But that’s another stage.
“In this first verse of Siksastakam, tasting the nectar is only one of seven of the great qualities of chanting. The chanting itself is described in the Srimad-Bhagavatam as maha-guna, a great quality in the age of Kali. That one great quality can overcome all the inauspiciousness of this age. If we were to sum up the total qualities of this age and then compare it to past ages, Kali-yuga would come out as the best age because of the ease of the yuga-dharma, harinama sankirtana. The demigods want to be born in Bharatavarsha, where they are chanting Hare Krsna in Kali-yuga, because then they can go back to Godhead.
“The chanting itself is a great quality, but when you analyze it, it has many qualities ot its own. Chanting cleanses the heart of all the dust accumulated for years and extinguishes the fire of conditioned life. When we chant, we are not interested only in tasting nectar, but in properly situating our lives. There’s that expression, ‘Get right with God.’ Or, ‘Prepare to meet your Maker.’ Getting right with God means to stop rebelling against Him, to stop committing sinful activities, and to stop breaking His law. Although sin and rebellion are dangerous for the living entity, he persists out of ignorance. He thinks that’s all that life is.”
Prabhupada wishes me well in any honest
venture to be Krsna conscious.
I say ‘preach’ and ‘spread Krsna consciousness’
I get sick of it inside when
I say it only because I am supposed to.
But I actually want to preach.
My spiritual master writes,
‘Spread Krsna consciousness’ in his books
and when he says it
it doesn’t rub me the wrong way.
He explains why
a compassionate person wants to help others.
If you see someone about to fall off a roof,
you call out to them even if
they become annoyed that you stopped their fun.
Prabhupada did it and said,
‘Do as I am doing.’”
“Another memorial to Prabhupada which the devotees worship is his murti. Prabhupada personally installed murtis of himself and his spiritual master at the Krishna-Balarama temple in Vrndavana. Srila Prabhupada said,
“‘There is no difference between me and my picture. Therefore we should honor and keep the pictures in that spirit. If we throw pictures this way and that way, that is offense. The name and picture are as good as the person in the spiritual world. In the material world either picture or person, everything is illusion.’ (Letter, September 6, 1972)
“‘When Locana dasa began making murtis of Srila Prabhupada, Karandhara sent pictures to Prabhupada and asked for his instructions. Prabhupada replied that ‘the spiritual master should be treated as good as the Deity . . . as good as God . . . ‘ (Prabhupada Nectar)
“Like the appearance of Krsna in the Deity form, the appearance of SrilaPrabhupada in his murti is a special dispensation of mercy, allowing the devotees to engage in direct personal service to his transcendental form. And for one who has devotion for this Deity, Srila Prabhupada reveals himself.”
“I was chanting on the roof at 3:30 A.M. The near-full moon was covered in long blankets of clouds. Eventually, the clouds blew past and the moon shone brightly. So many blessings are coming to me, but not the blessings of pure love of God. Krsna reciprocates with us, so I must be indicating to Him that I want a shelf full of medicines, a mattress and bolster pillows, Bisleri drinking water, my own house to live in—and Krsna is saying yes easily enough, since He can grant anything and everything. I have requested pure love, but He hasn’t heard that request because I don’t ask deeply enough.
“It is a sad fact. D. H. Lawrence said, ‘Ours is a tragic age, and therefore we refuse to take it seriously.’ If I took it seriously—that I am opting for less than pure love of Krsna—it would be more than uncomfortable. It would be unbearable. But I don’t take it seriously. Srila Prabhupada said the asuric sinners would shudder if they accepted the facts of transmigration of the soul; therefore they refuse to consider it.
It is not just a matter of giving up amenities, but we have to give up everything, including our sense of identity. I don’t seem to be able to do this. This is what is so tragic, but even as I say it, it doesn’t mean much.
“All jivas participate in the universal conditions of birth and death. Krsna preaches to all jivas when He instructs Arjuna in the Bhagavad-gita. Yet each individual has to realize it alone. A Godbrother just wrote me and said how he has been suffering from family attachment. He is married, but is now separated from his wife and children. He writes, ‘Now the words “family attachment” have taken on a new depth of color and power to me. I have been there and it is not at all an abstract idea. It is a tight, tight bond, and breaking it is like having Godzilla pound on your heart. Maybe even worse.’
“I have to realize my predicament. It is still an abstract idea—that I don’t love Krsna. No one can do it for me. They can point out the urgency—but I have to feel it for myself and do the needful.”
Can I describe
that cold, windy day
at San Francisco Ratha-yatra
surrounded by devotees,
received into his hands
the first dozen Krishna books?
This much I know:
he took one in his hand.
lovingly looked through it,
then quickly sold them all—
taking in dollars and handing out books.
(A week later on the lawn in Boston,
in front of the temple-house,
we grabbed at the
and gasped at the
picture of Prabhupada
on the back cover.)
Thus he led the way.”
Krsna gives us sticks to be devotees.
Oh, we are in the shed it
is a good-time place –
we listen for Krsna’s message.
Not exactly the sastric
one but that too. I
say “I Ain’t Got Nobody”
you say the saddest and
uncertain things in the
Don’t play jazz with me.
Don’t sit with me. I’ll
let you listen to my
favorite CD however
I do remember all
that it was good
and Krsna was good to
But you have to reform sooner
boy you are so smooth
I didn’t know you could
play like Lester Young on
your horn of plenty
I played the Mozart shout
I returned to Vraja to the cowherd boy
His expansion accepts
But if Gurudeva
is linked to Radha-Syama
what’s the problem?
I ain’t got nobody but
my spiritual master and that’s good
plotting me outside your
company won’t hurt. And
neither can you include me
if I don’t want it.
I play my own “Tea For Two” and
fill the earliest A.M. hours
possible with reading of
the sacred books of Swami
Prabhupada and fingering the red
beads he gave me and chanted
on to make the mantra even
more powerful alas though
I chant them inattentive,
but still I will remain
the dedicated cela of
His Divine Grace.
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.