I put in a lot of time preparing my Radhastami lecture. Two devotees helped me do research, Manohara and a scholarly Godbrother who wishes to remain anonymous. We had a modest attendance of about twenty devotees. Ravindra Svarupa couldn’t come because of intense medical procedures the day before. Damodara Priya led the initial chanting with her harmonium; she is now a neighbor of ours living across the street, renting a space from Saci Suta. After the kirtana, I gave my talk. I started with a quote from a Prabhupada lecture that it is very difficult to reach Radha-Krsna unless you go through Lord Caitanya. Keeping that theme, I turned to Adi-lila, Chapter Four, and discussed three unfulfilled desires of Lord Krsna. I explained them and then concluded that He finally fulfilled them by appearing as Lord Caitanya. Sri-krsna-caitanya, radha-krsna nahe anya. He appeared in the mood and complexion of Srimati Radharani, although He was Krsna Himself. I then told three Radha-Krsna pastimes, the boating pastime, the flower-picking pastime and dana-keli-kamaudi (the toll-gate pastime). It was fun doing it, although afterwards, when we had discussion, a few of the devotees said they preferred to just stick to Prabhupada, who didn’t talk Radha-Krsna pastimes. This took a little steam out of my own presentation. But I thought it was good, at least once a year, to discuss the Gosvamis’ plays and descriptions of Radha and Krsna. My lecture was finished by 12:00 PM, and we had an hour wait before prasadam was served. We did some kirtana by different singers, but then got tired. I tried to encourage some radharani-katha, and got some responses from the devotees. They all liked the idea that we have to go through Lord Caitanya to reach Radha-Krsna. The feast was very nice. Different devotees contributed to the cooking. Krishna Kumari did a chickpea sabji and a pot of rice. Damodara Priya did a birthday cake for Radharani, and Krsna dasi put little signs on the pieces describing Radharani’s qualities. Each devotee took a piece and was able to meditate on a quality of Radharani. Baladeva made halava, sweet rice, spinach and paneer, and “Radha-red” chutney. Manohara made bhaturas and pakoras and kofta balls and Italian cookies. The congregation praised the feast, although I didn’t have much of an appetite. A program was held outdoors under the tent. After I left, some of the devotees put on masks and came into the house to have darsana of the Deities. After the cleanup, there was kirtana in the house, downstairs. The audio of my lecture has been posted on my Facebook page and satsvarupadasagoswami.com.
While I was delivering my lecture outdoors, Krsna dasi was up in my room making special preparations for my Radha-Govinda Deities to celebrate Radhastami. She dressed Them in a new special outfit from the mukut-walla Tapan in Vrndavana. She made tiny white garlands and a floral backdrop. She also made special flower decorations for her small Radha-Gopinatha Deities downstairs. The whole downstairs altar was profusely decorated with flowers that Muktavanya had brought in the night before.
I gave Yadunandana Swami first and second initiation. Today he sent me a letter informing me that he had just assumed the duties of an initiating guru and taken on thirteen disciples for hari-nama diksa. He gave me their legal and spiritual names, and wrote that he requested, “Each time I give initiations, I send you a report as an offering and for your information. From my side I’m happy to do it, as in terms of diksa lineage they are your grand-disciples, and in this way they are able to get your blessings in a more personal way.”
After the initiation, he had a meeting with the devotees and discussed with them his personal mission statement, in which preaching Krsna consciousness in the prabhu-datta-desa of Spain (which I had given him) is his main priority. The new disciples appreciated this, and some of them volunteered to open a center or a congregational group in the places they live. I am sorry I can’t travel; I would like to visit them all, especially Yadunandana Swami. With all his new duties as initiating guru, I hope he will still be able to find time to visit me.
Manohara left today for Italy after staying here over six weeks. He was one of the best servants I’ve had here at Viraha Bhavan. His insistence on making dandavats every time he entered the room was touching. While he was here he cooked almost every day, and most of it was exclusively Italian menus. They were delicious and just to my liking, although I mostly appreciated his plain pasta over the more exotic dishes. Manohara is hoping to return here in October. At that time Lal Krishna and his wife Shyama will be here, and Lal Krishna can teach Manohara how to do layout, design and covers. Manohara’s desire to learn this is in response to my asking my disciples to come forward and help me reprint all my books. Manohara wore devotional dress and was brahminical in every respect. We formed a tight bond.
Because Manohara was delayed in his leaving due to his plane being canceled, Maitreya got a chance to be personally trained by him in servant duties. Although Maitreya has been here and served me before, now that I am older there are new procedures for the servant, and Maitreya had to learn them. Maitreya has a brahmacari brain,. and he is very smart. So he learned the new procedures fast. He is now able to do all the procedures Manohara was doing, such as putting the Deities to rest at night and helping me bathe and dress in the early morning. He has a good service attitude. I look forward to his being here and strengthening our bond. I also look forward to reading his autobiographical memoir when it arrives here on Wednesday.
I am taking great pleasure in reading Maitreya dasa’s memoir. As a young man, he escaped from England. As a young man born in England, he escaped what he saw as a dreary life and a stifling society. He traveled all over the world, visiting forty countries one after another. He was relatively clean and said to one traveling companion, “The hippies don’t know anything.” He took odd jobs and did not engage much in vices. He wasn’t satisfied with any place he visited, although he wasn’t depressed. He wasn’t searching; he was just keeping on the move, a footloose traveler. The most satisfying place he visited was Malaysia. The people were friendly, and the weather and scenery were ideal. It was a kind of “paradise.” His modus operandi was to keep traveling, hang out in pubs, stay awhile, and then on impulse keep traveling again. But in Malaysia, he was especially attracted, and he stayed on for more time than usual. One day while in this likeable place, he had an epiphany. It is hard for me to describe it; you’ll have to read the book. But suddenly, his whole worldview changed, and he saw everything on a deeper level. It was as if he had discovered a great secret to life. The impression of that epiphany stayed with him, and although he did not speak about it to anyone, he treasured it. He finally left Malaysia, but his new inner revelation stayed with him. Moving back to England, he read many books, hoping to find a clue to the epiphany he experienced in Malaysia. Finally he read Carl Jung and discovered many answers to his revelation in Malaysia. He found that Jung believed in God in a psychological way, and this fit in with Maitreya’s discovery in Malaysia. I’m up to page 110, approximately halfway through the book, and it gets more exciting with each page. Now I understand why the subtitle to the book is “An Englishman’s Global Quest for Truth and Enlightenment.”
Yesterday I dictated some important letters, but there was no one in the ashram who knew how to send them to my remote, anonymous confidential typist in Italy. Krsna dasi knows how to send them off, but she was away in New York City. My new temporary servant, Maitreya, volunteered to do it, but he had never done it before. Yet he had some written instructions from Manohara. I thought I should have waited until Krsna dasi returned, but I felt the letters were urgent, so I finally took a chance and gave them to Maitreya. He sent them off, but I was in anxiety all day, worrying that the Dictaphone might get lost in transit. Finally iu the evening he phoned the typist, and Maitreya told me that the typist said he had successfully received the Dictaphone. Then later we received an email from the typist confirming again that he had successfully received the Dictaphone letter. So that was a great relief.
Let me explain my process of dictating. I dictate letters and send them straight to my remote typist. When I work on the daily Journal, I send that to Guru dasa for typing. I like this system very much, and the typists are glad to do the service. But sometimes, like yesterday, things get a little shaky, and I get nervous.
I spoke to John Endler today, and he explained to me his method of reading my books. He is reading unpublished editions of Every Day, Just Write. When I make a reference to sastra, he puts down my book, takes up Prabhupada’s book and looks up the reference. He then reads the verse and purport in Prabhupada’s book and after that returns to my book. When in my writing he finds another sastric reference, he puts down my book and again goes to Prabhupada’s book to read the verse and purport. He says this has very much enhanced his reading of both Prabhupada’s books and my books. It is an interesting method, and I told him I would pass it on to my readers.
I received a disappointing email from Daivisakti Mataji. Although she gave her usual Sunday Srila Prabhupada-lilamrta lecture, the camera failed and there was no recording. I had a similar experience at Radhastami. Unfortunately, many of the persons who were watching the Zoom could not hear parts of the lecture because the equipment failed. Daivisakti reminded me of something I said in Prabhupada’s house many years ago: “If you don’t expect anything, then you will never be disappointed.” This realization seems to be as pertinent today as it was many years ago.
In our out-loud reading, we were reading Bhagavad-gita Chapter 16, “The Divine and Demoniac Natures.” Krsna was focused on the demoniac natures. An ISKCON gurukula teacher was present, and he asked a question. He told me how he treated the children when they were doing wrong. He said he didn’t call them demons because that would be too discouraging to them. He would say, “You are acting wrongly,” not that they were born of demoniac qualities. He asked me if this was a permissible strategy, and I agreed that it was all right. This applies not just to children but to adults at Sunday feast lectures and other occasions.
The town clerk told Baladeva that global warming has hit Stuyvesant Falls. This has been especially damaging to the sweet corn crop. Every year we have especially relished the sweet corn which comes directly from the farmers in the beginning of July. (Most of the corn crop is for silage for the cows, but the sweet corn is especially for human consumption.) We look forward to it every year, and it usually lasts to the end of September and sometimes into October. This year was an especially dry summer, with little rain. In conversation the town clerk said that Mr. McMullen had to turn under a whole field of sweet corn because it hadn’t developed into full ears. The corn for the silage had to be harvested early because it was finished growing and was about two feet shorter than usual. So that was another big loss.
Our next-door neighbors bought a five-foot deep above-ground pool. The father, who is a local pizza parlor owner, made a big investment for the hot summer days to try to keep his children happy and engaged. They were in fact happy and engaged for about three weeks, and then the enthusiasm wore off and the pool is hardly used at all now. The father is left vacuuming the pool every day for about an hour to keep the water pure. That’s another example of seeking pleasure in a material world.
Manohara promised that before he had to leave he would teach Krsna dasi how to ride a bicycle. She is a small woman, and she never learned to ride one. So Lalita-kisori and Atindra bought her the smallest adult bike they could find. Every night for two weeks Krsna dasi went out riding the bicycle with Manohara’s assistance, giving her lessons that he had picked up from YouTube. Krsna dasi was a good student, and Manohara got her up and rolling. She is still a little wobbly, but she’s riding on her own now, looking forward to when she can join the other women riding their bikes on the local trails.
Kathi’s son David has almost completed the interim shelves and drawers in the space where the two old stoves used to be. The kitchen staff is excited to finally have an accessible place for all the utensils and most-used pots and pans. The millwork (doors and drawers and hardware) has been ordered but won’t come for another two months. Dave will come back and install that when it’s ready.
“1) May Vrndavana, which is fragrant with a gentle breeze that makes the lotuses in the Yamuna rock to and fro, where there are groves of kadamba trees and there are many gopis, their hearts blossoming with happiness by hearing the music of Lord Mukunda’s flute, be my shelter.
2) May Vrndavana, where Lord Brahma and other jagad-gurus desire to be born even as a blade of grass, and which, even though it is a forest, is many thousands of times more opulent, beautiful, charming, and sweet than the spiritual cities of Vaikuntha, be my shelter.
3) May Vrndavana, where the fragrance of the eternally blossoming flower vines fills the goddess of fortune with wonder, and where the bumblebees in the trees filled with very sweet honey are poets who bow down and recite eloquent prayers, be my shelter.
4) May Vrndavana, which is decorated with blades of grass that bear the charming, gracefully-marked footprints and playful toenail prints of the youthful Divine Couple of Vraja, who are as glorious as a monsoon cloud and lightning, be my shelter.
5) May Vrndavana, where the moving and inert creatures celebrate a festival of great happiness by seeing the glory of Srimati Radharani‘s beautiful pastimes, and where the deer taste the nectar of Lord Krsna’s sweet flute music, be my shelter.
6) May Vrndavana, where the peacocks leap and dance to see the Prince of Vraja, who is more charming than a host of monsoon clouds, and where the does, birds, and flowering vines become jubilant to hear Srimati Radharani proudly claim the forest as Her property, be my shelter.
7) May Vrndavana, which is splendid with the expert skill in lover’s quarrels of Srimati Radharani, the best of all virtuous heroines, and which is the witness to the gracefully dancing feet of Lord Krsna, the teacher of fine arts to the three worlds, be my shelter.
8) May Vrndavana, where is Govardhana Hill, which is fortunate to be the best servant of Lord Hari, and where is the rasa dance arena, which fills the beautiful gopis with wonder, and where is the splendid sweetness of many charming forest groves, be my shelter.
9) A person who resides here in Vrndavana, whose heart is free from sin, who controls his senses, who always stays with the devotees, and who carefully reads these eight verses, which bring to mind the transcendental virtues of Vrndavana, the best of all forest gardens, will attain love for and enjoy transcendental pastimes with Lord Krsna.”
“ . . . In my early morning bhajana, I give the first hour (midnight to 1 A.M.) to writing practice. At that time, I don’t stop to look things up in the sastra, but I write from what I already know, whether sastric or non-sastric. Then for the next hour I read Bhagavatam and restrain myself from writing. With a pencil, I underline passages that attract me. Sometimes I close my eyes while reading, review the last few pages I read, and try to invest some feeling into my reading. After reading, I turn to japa. I sit before pictures of Prabhupada, the parampara gurus, the Panca-tattva, and Radha-Krsna. I light votive candles and listen to Prabhupada’s japa through earphones. I sit alert and awake, chanting and chanting.
“Perhaps this is the best way for me to work, by dividing the different activities. If I subscribe to the theory of subpersons, I have within me a writer self and a reader self. Therefore, I give them each their time. I find that works better than trying to mix them. Of course, they’re not airtight, separate containers, but at least each of them maintains a basic identity and space.
“Similarly, I have a self who wants pure chanting—my chanting person. I demand that he get equal time and equal rights. I don’t let the other subpersons crowd my chanting person out of his space. If writing ideas pop into my head during japa, I try not to worry about them. They will reappear when it’s time to write. I don’t demand much more than hearing the ‘simple,’ compact word formulas, the Hare Krsna mantra.
“Perhaps of these three activities I mentioned—writing, reading, and chanting—chanting is the hardest and the most subtle. It’s also the most recommended of the three. Harer nama harer nama, harer namaiva kevalam: there is no other way, there is no other way, there is no other way for God-realization in the age of Kali except to chant the holy names.
“Later, I take the chanting man out for a walk. I like to let his senses bathe in the fresh air and the vastness of the sky. The earth here is full of healthy aromas, and the sight of flowers, meadows, and wildlife enlivens his ‘animal spirits’ as he chants. Then talking to companions seen or unseen —japa talk.”
“You still chant with inattention. The jaundice, the avidya, is still on your tongue. You have to first feel remorse. ‘I am destroyed by my own greed, and I am always lustful.’ If we don’t admit that this applies to us, then it will hold us back. If we don’t admit it, we will be stuck with our lack of humility and our dishonesty. Are we not poor? Have we even exhausted (akincana) our material desires? Submit your tale of grief at the feet of the Supreme Lord.
“Bhaktivinoda Thakura is knocking at the door of our self-esteem, so we prefer to admire his songs from a distance. We don’t want to get too involved. We’re positive thinkers. We only want to hear nectar. If requested, we are willing to go through a few songs of theoretical grief, but don’t expect us full-grown men and women to get down on our knees and cry. No sir, we don’t grovel, never.
“‘I’m not a sinner, so why should I pretend I am?’ Thus Satsvarupa dasa admits his tale of unsurrender and unfeeling. He never cried and saw no wrong in himself. Thus he could not understand why Bhaktivinoda Thakura sang these songs about himself.
“Spare us the details. Our way is easy. It’s Krsna’s grace on us. Lord Caitanya assured us that harinama would be the easiest method of God realization in this age, and we have already been saved from the worst.
“Our sense of ease may be a testimony of Prabhupada’s compassion on us—this honest telling about ourselves, that we feel good, that we’re okay, that we have been saved from the worst effects of karma. We recognize our little miseries as token karma. We have given up gross sin. Jaya! Victory over material hell. Aren’t we wearing Vaisnava tilaka? We are righteous, up early receiving the Lord’s darsana.
This is all true, but it doesn’t negate the other. Why don’t we cry for service? Why don’t we cry that we can’t chant suddha-nama? Why aren’t we even sorry? Why are we so complacent?
“Bhaktivinoda Thakura’s song is being sung before God. It is a summation of his ruined life. He did not write these songs with any other audience in mind, although he has allowed us to hear him.
“Confession has to take place first within ourselves. That was why I was defeated in my childhood confessions in the Catholic Church. We were naïve, the nuns and us parish children. We assumed we could search our conscience and quickly find our wrongs, and we were confident that by relating them to the priest in the darkness of the confessional we would be forgiven. We believed he heard our sins just as God would hear them, and the penance he meted out would be in accord with God’s justice.
“‘Recite ten “Hail Marys” and two “Our Fathers,” and then make a good Act of Contrition.’ The Act of Contrition is a prayer that makes you say you are sorry. It is effective provided you recite it sincerely and promise, with God’s help, not to commit the sin again.
“Bhaktivinoda Thakura’s song is the end-of-life summary confession of a wicked man. Are such men rare, or are we all like that? You can decide for yourself, but as Bhaktivinoda Thakura continues to sing, we begin to suspect that maybe he is referring to us. It’s almost too late to reform—we are just too worn out and wasted by material life. When will we pour out our own tale of grief before the Supreme Lord?”
“I just want to write some lines and get through to 7 p.m. and lay my head upon the orthopedic shaped pillow with hot water bottle and white comforter. I’m laughing at you. But care for you, my son, myself.
“I’m alone no harm no devious acts. Walk through the kitchen but don’t eat, don’t turn on a radio, don’t go anywhere. I read and won’t do more. Placid, keep it easy. Wait ‘til high tide again at midnight.
The calendar says Purnima
but I can’t see it, under clouds
The calendar says 10
but I only mark it with
a blue or red check.
And say ‘Krsna,’ ‘Abhaya’
‘Prabhupada’ and wait
“Japa automatic while thoughts go elsewhere I won’t complain please don’t complain please ask your master did you forget?
“Beg for attention beg for attention and do your work, hari-nama.” (p. 139)
“Ha to you
“I am described in Bhagavata as a describer of the Lord with only partial ability that’s me alright don’t say I’m not. I’m connected by Prabhupada. I don’t like this world, I’m not violent I like the swans
Krsna is the force of my words.”
“Early in ISKCON history, two foolish disciples broke away from the movement and remarked, ‘This is not the Society for Krsna consciousness. It’s the Society for Prabhupada consciousness.’ Another disciple replied, ‘What’s wrong with Prabhupada consciousness? The guru is the representative of Krsna.’
“Prabhupada created the name ISKCON as well as the phrase ‘Krsna consciousness,’ which he coined from a translation of a verse by Rupa Gosvami. He shaped the Society in his own personal way. He sometimes said that he never demanded that his disciples wear dhotis, and yet they did. They did because they wanted to follow Srila Prabhupada. A member of the Brahma-Madhva-Gaudiya sampradaya and a disciple of Bhaktisiddhanta Sarasvati Thakura, Prabhupada wrote his purports after great acaryas like Jiva Gosvami and Baladeva Vidyabhusana. Yet he was an individual person. Thus his Society, ISKCON, bears his personal stamp. His particular viewpoint, for example, on why his Godbrothers did not vigorously follow the order of Bhaktisiddhanta Sarasvati Thakura, and why they did not assist Prabhupada when he began to actually spread the worldwide movement—this viewpoint of the history is adopted by Prabhupada’s followers.
“He intended his personal stamp to last long into the future. He worked hard so that things would go on as he had set them up, even after his disappearance. He built temples to last for generations, and he set up a school system, intending that it would last as he introduced it. He said that his books would provide the foundation of civilization for ten thousand years.
“These statements by Prabhupada do not exclude the possibility that other teachers may come and make great contributions, but neither should we overlook the fact that Srila Prabhupada is the only Founder-Acarya of ISKCON. A special flavor is found in the Bhaktivedanta purports, and its essence is savored, while its teachings are followed by Prabhupada’s parampara descendants. Specific personal experiences of Prabhupada are found in his purports as he drew examples for his teachings. These are also a part of the accumulated knowledge which may be called smrti.
“‘Do as I am doing,’ said Prabhupada. It’s not that he wanted a cult of personal worship of himself, but because he set the standard for his GBC leaders and others, he wanted his followers to do as he was doing.”
“Prabhupada’s sister Pishima was a great favorite of his and also of his disciples as they witnessed her devotion to Srila Prabhupada and his transcendental relationship with her. The devotees first heard of her when she sent Srila Prabhupada some papadums in the mail in 1967. When Prabhupada said these things had been sent by his sister, the devotees became curious and asked more about her.
“‘Yes,’ said Srila Prabhupada, ‘she always attacks me.’
“The devotees were shocked and asked, ‘What do you mean, Srila Prabhupada?’
“Prabhupada laughed heartily and said, ‘She attacks me with her tears. Sometimes when she sees me, she cries. That is a woman’s weapon.’ When they asked more, Prabhupada told a little more about Pishima.
“One day in Vrndavana, Prabhupada entered the sewing room where his female disciples were working. His sister had been there, distributing sweets to the girls, but she had momentarily gone off to the bathroom.
“‘Where is the fat one?’ asked Prabhupada.
“‘The fat one?’ asked one of his disciples.
“‘My sister, where is she?’
“‘Oh, she stepped out to the ladies’ room, Srila Prabhupada.’
“‘When she comes back,’ said Srila Prabhupada, ‘tell her I want to see her.’
“By intimate dealings like this, devotees enjoyed associating with Prabhupada and Pishima.
“Sometimes Prabhupada would mock his sister in his disciples’ presence. She could not understand the language, but enjoyed the attention from her wonderful brother.
“‘Look at her,’ said Prabhupada, ‘how fat she is.’ When the devotees started laughing, Pishima looked up and started laughing also. ‘Do you know any person who is fat without eating?’ Prabhupada asked.
“‘No, Prabhupada,’ a disciple replied. ‘I don’t think that is possible.’
“‘Yes,’ Prabhupada laughed, ‘but she tells me she is eating very little, yet she keeps on gaining weight. But I know she is eating.’
“Sometimes devotees working on Prabhupada’s personal staff were bewildered how to deal with her. One servant complained to Prabhupada that Pishima was sleeping in the servants’ quarters and the men couldn’t use the room. Although they had spoken to her, she would not listen. Prabhupada said that he would tell her that she cannot do that. Even after talking with Prabhupada, however, she was determined and continued to loiter around the servants’ quarters, just in order to be near to Prabhupada.
“When the devotees tried to explain to Pishima that her cooking was not good for Prabhupada’s digestion, she replied that if he wanted to, Prabhupada could eat nails and digest them.
“One night at a pandal attended by tens of thousands of people, Pishima joined in the ecstasy of worshiping Prabhupada. Indians were rushing to the stage to touch Prabhupada’s feet. Pishima herself went up, touched Prabhupada’s feet, and then returned to the audience and touched many persons. She began to go back and forth, touching Prabhupada’s feet and then touching persons in the audience. Prabhupada stopped her angrily. ‘Tell her to sit down!’ Srila Prabhupada ordered. ‘Stop this!’ Pishima realized that she had made a blunder, and so she went home and returned the next day with a big feast for Prabhupada.”
“How important is Prabhupada Meditations? If it’s not important, why am I doing it? If it is important, why don’t I call out louder to Krsna, begging Him and Srila Prabhupada to manifest themselves fully? I think the answer to these questions is an individual one, depending on a devotee’s mood or rasa with the Lord and his guru.
“I’m dedicated to my writing project. Let me get up early and do my writing, and whatever Krsna wants to send, I’ll accept it as prasadam. There’s no use in calling out louder. I don’t want to bother the Lord or Prabhupada, and besides that, they are already blessing me.
“From what I have understood of Prabhupada’s teachings, our prayers should be reserved for sentiments like, ‘Please give me the strength to serve You.’ I am praying to Krsna for that, and I should pray more strongly. Prabhupada advises us, ‘For any activity done in devotional service, one should always pray to the previous acaryas to kindly help me.’ And yet I can’t help but feel reluctant to call out, and not be too demanding about my own project.
“But this raises questions. On the one hand, one should work humbly and not make demands of the Lord. On the other hand, we’re advised that the price of love of God is laulyam, or the intensity of the desire to serve the Lord. One should desire to perform some service, and one should cry tears—and those tears are the price of your devotion. Since I am not crying out so much, maybe I should ask myself, ‘Why don’t I want it more badly?’ One answer I can give is that I’m afraid I may be asking the Lord to make me a famous writer so that people will say, ‘You wrote such a brilliant book about Prabhupada. You’re empowered. You must be very close to him.’ If I actually take pleasure in hearing such praise, then my praying to write a devotional book will be impure.
“One cries out to Krsna in different ways. It doesn’t have to be literally done by looking upwards and crying out loud, ‘Krsna, please help me!’ It can also be expressed by getting up very early, writing as much as possible, trying always to think of the next Prabhupada meditation, and taking notes about it. One expresses oneself to the Lord by those endeavors.”
“. . . . I kept pounding it out. When I was supposed to be calling on welfare clients, I would often drop in at my apartment and do an hour of typing. Always pushing it on. The Swami was aware of what I was doing. He asked about the progress, and when I handed the work in, he handled it and said it was nice. We were both interested in these clean white pages with typing marks on them, his work. It was very dear to him.
“He had bundles of thousands of pages that he had typed, wrapped up in saffron and lying on the floor in his closet. When he first took some typing out of this mass of material and gave it to me, I remarked, ‘I think you have enough work to last me a whole winter.’ Swamiji laughed and said, ‘I have many lifetimes of work for you.’
“After I’d been doing it for some months, Swamiji started using a Dictaphone. One day I stopped in at his apartment in the middle of my office workday to put in an hour on his manuscript. Swamiji kept the Dictaphone covered in his room except when it was in use. When I went in and got it, he noticed that I was dressed in shirt and tie from the office. He remarked, ‘You are still at your office work?’ I replied, ‘Yes, but I go out and see clients. Right now instead of seeing them I’m coming to do this work. I’m like Sanatana Gosvami who stayed away from work in order to read the Srimad-Bhagavatam.’ As I said that, I was holding the Dictaphone, and heading for the next room where Jadurani was painting, where the clotheslines were strung with Swamiji’s clothes, and where the jar of ISKCON bullets was waiting in the corner. As I left his room, Swamiji smiled and said, ‘You are Sanatana.’
“Sometimes when I was typing in his second room, he would walk in and see what I and the others were doing. One time I stopped and said, ‘Swamiji, you just said on this tape that the four Kumaras are eternal brahmacaris. How is that, that they could be eternal brahmacaris?’ He’d reply and then I’d go back into samadhi, locked into hearing his phrases and hearing the philosophy, while typing.
“The typing work didn’t go through any secretary of Prabhupada’s, but direct from him to me. When I returned a batch he asked,’Is everything all right?’
“‘Oh, fine Swamiji,’ I said. ‘I’m really enjoying typing the Sixth Chapter of Bhagavad-gita. It’s wonderful how Krsna consciousness is the same as the yogis except that we have more facility because the yogi can see Krsna only when he sits down and gets deep in meditation. But a devotee can see Krsna in His picture or chant His holy names.’ It wasn’t artificial for me to engage in krsna-katha about what I’d just been reading, because I was filled with it by the typing. At least I could read something and then repeat it exactly as I had heard it.
“In a practical way, I was connected to him, and my mind was saturated with Krsna thought. You knew that you couldn’t do nonsense because you had to type. Your time was taken up; you had to get up early, chant your rounds, type, go to work. A full life.
“Swamiji said never be idle. He had written an announcement and posted it on the wall: ‘Always be engaged, and if you don’t have any work, then chant Hare Krsna.’ This is how we worked for the Swami; different boys did different things.”
“Srila Prabhupada is the one we have to turn to at the end of life. Some of his followers have done that: they’ve gone all the way, to the end of life, and crossed over into the next life while thinking of him. Each of us has to do that. It will be a very difficult time, and we will be tested. One way we may be tested is that doubts will arise, even dislike or envy of Prabhupada may come—and we have to overcome all this.
“When it gets very difficult, we will not be in full control. We don’t know what memories will come. But now we can prepare by cultivating memories and by cultivating a simple meditation on our protector, our guru. By stating Prabhupada’s name, and by the spiritual sentiment of turning to him, ‘Prabhupada, please protect me, please forgive me for my deviations. I feel sorry for my mistakes during this lifetime and sorry that I did not fully surrender to you.’
“And then we will remember his mercy and his teachings of Krsna consciousness. We will ask his devotees to read to us from his books. We will regret that we did not read more, that we did not read attentively, and that we did not serve him fully. But we will stay in Prabhupada consciousness.
“We may also try to think of devotees who have passed over and what they did at the end. I was not there, but I heard that Hayagriva dasa, although he committed sinful activities and made many mistakes during his life, rose to the occasion of his own death. This was stated by devotees, including those who were not his friends and sympathizers at New Vrindaban. They say that he really became repentant at the end and was saying, ‘O God, I did not know how much we really needed Prabhupada at the time. And I still need him now!’ Hayagriva’s example is a hint to us that this kind of awakening will come—that we took Prabhupada for granted, and that we really need him. But we should not wait until the end. This meditation should go on now.”
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.”
“In the many attempts to remember Prabhupada by ‘recall sessions,’ reminiscences, daydreams and night dreams, poems and prayers—I never seem to attain his direct association. Or rarely. When I close my eyes, listen to a 1966 kirtana, or think of being with him in his room, I never quite see or attain him. However, the anxiety of trying to get to Prabhupada produces many good things.
“Although my separation from Prabhupada is on a small scale, it is the authorized way for Gaudiya Vaisnavas. As the great devotees think of Krsna, this little devotee is trying to think of his spiritual master. Srila Prabhupada writes, ‘Srinivasa Acarya said that the Gosvamis were always absorbed in the ocean of transcendental feelings in the mood of the gopis . . . They never said, “We have now seen Radha and Krsna, and, therefore, our mission is fulfilled.” Their mission remained always unfulfilled; they never met Radha and Krsna.’ (KRSNA, Vol. 2 pg. 73, 1974 edition). Also, when Uddhava saw the gopis in separation from Krsna, he congratulated them. The gopis then realized that ‘they were actually experiencing the supernatural method of Krsna worship and they were much relieved and happy to understand it.’ Uddhava advised the gopis that they could be saved from the fire of separation ‘by closing their eyes and meditating on the activities of Krsna from the very beginning of their association with Him.’ (KRSNA, Vol. 2 pg. 47).
“Can we apply, however, the exalted feelings of separation from Krsna to our separation from the spiritual master? Apparently, yes. Srila Prabhupada writes, ‘It is recommended in authoritative scriptures that the spiritual master should be worshiped on the level of the Supreme Personality of Godhead, because of his being His very confidential servitor, and it is accepted by great authorities that the spiritual master is the external manifestation of Krsna.’ (‘Sri-guruvastakam’). If my failure to attain Srila Prabhupada by service and meditation seems to be a source of unhappiness, I may note that this was also described by Narottama dasa Thakura in his song ‘Lamentation Due to Separation from the Lord and His Associates.’”
Only a moment ago the sun was rising,
now it is dark again. A dog is barking…
Time for milk, bedtime.
I wanted to say prayers but didn’t.
Still I am on course:
service to Srila Prabhupada.
You allowed me
to ride in a van this morning,
and to decide not to accept any more disciples,
take care of those I already have.
You allowed me
to give advice to a 31-year-old man
who’s not sure how to make a
lifelong commitment to Krsna consciousness.
I was under your direction,
and I thank you at night
Oh! I directly doubted you,
in a weak moment. I thought,
‘Maybe he doesn’t know . . .’
You have said that as soon as we think
we are better than the guru,
from that moment we are fallen.
But you allowed me to come close
listening to your kirtana,
I joined again.”
“I remember putting on the thick shoulder strap as I prepared for Prabhupada’s walk in 1974. That tape recorder was so heavy as it was slung across my chest, and I held the microphone forward to record Prabhupada’s words as we walked. Just feel-ing the weight of that tape recorder again helps me to get a little glimpse of Prabhupada on a walk. I remember again how sometimes people got too close. Sometimes they would walk so close behind Prabhupada that, when he stopped suddenly, they caught the back of his shoe or his heel with their foot. He would stop and say, ‘Do not walk so close.’ But we always walked packed tightly together around Prabhupada, always turned toward him, straining to hear every word.
“We have pictures of this now, but they are not a replacement for having been there. He would stop suddenly, and everyone else would instantly stop, gathering closer. Prabhupada stopped like that to focus our attention on what he was going to say. It seemed like he was focusing his own attention too, more intent on his point. We all leaned forward over other people’s shoulders, all eyes and ears focused on Srila Prabhupada. It was almost like a huddle, with Prabhupada as the football captain giving instructions and encouragement, and everyone feeling a boost to their team morale. He would say what he wanted to say and again start walking with all of us in tow.
“Walks at the beach were characterized by the sound of the waves crashing, but during any walk, the crunch-crunch of many shoes could be heard. Sometimes devotees hung back a little talking to each other about something that had to be done for Prabhupada or something that had to be done when they got back to the temple. But that wasn’t so usual. Usually, everyone kept quiet and heard Prabhupada speak.
“The essence of Prabhupada’s morning walk instructions have been recorded on tape and are also now available in the Conversations books. Although the vani of the spiritual master is the most important thing, those of us who had that personal association, that full experience of drinking Prabhupada in with our eyes and ears, are very fortunate. We are not just mental creatures who live off ideas; ideas are wed to people and places and activities. We are creatures of intellect, but we also possess emotions and senses. To have experienced Prabhupada’s association not just as an idea, but as a living person, made him real. Without that association, we could not have come to Krsna consciousness.”
“I am in Vrndavana. By studying what advanced Krsna consciousness is, I am appreciating that Prabhupada was in that state. I have been reading Raga-vartma-candrikti by Visvanatha Cakravarti Thakura, which describes raganuga-bhakti. The raganuga-bhakta performs sadhana which is helpful to him. There are other kinds of rules and regulations, some of which he is neutral to, some of which can be dropped, and some which must be dropped. I can understand that Prabhupada conducted his life in that way. His only concern was for things that fostered the preaching and spreading of Krsna consciousness and the cultivation of essential spiritual life. He even told us that Vaisnavas don’t always follow the rules and regulations as strictly as Mayavadis. Sometimes they are a little slack. I wondered what he meant by that, but now I realize that advanced devotees only follow those practices which nourish pure devotion. Pure devotion is not vague. God consciousness means Krsna consciousness, which specifically means service to Radha-Krsna. The more I study texts about the most advanced Krsna consciousness as it exists between the Lord and His eternal associates, the more I see that Srila Prabhupada was in that league.
“Also, the more I study and hear about madhurya-lila, the more I can understand Prabhupada’s expertise. He introduced us to the forms of Radha-Krsna from the very beginning. In fact, even in those 1966 days, Prabhupada freely told us about Krsna and Radha.
“But he also demonstrated gravity and privacy in his emotions. He taught us that even if one is above the rules and regulations, he should still follow most of them to set an example. Prabhupada was sober. He didn’t give vent to many ecstatic expressions; we rarely saw him cry or go into trance, although occasionally they overpowered him. I’m sure he didn’t think we were qualified to witness his internal feelings. Lord Caitanya was also careful about revealing His internal emotions when He was near superficial, ritualistic brahmanas while He was speaking with Ramananda Raya. Prabhupada was always in the presence of doubters and atheists while preaching in the West. And his mission was to free us from the most gross contaminations so we could work for Krsna. He knew work would be good for us and would help us become attached to Krsna. He also knew that we would be helpful in spreading the preaching mission. Therefore, he didn’t encourage us to become babajis.”
Each working for our master,
now in separation.
Where do we find you?
Each in his own heart.
I find you in those special purports
when I am receptive or somehow
I see it all clearly and my
appreciation deepens as you
tell us of Krsna.
Right now I have no book,
I’m in a rented room,
about to leave for sannydsa
preaching. I can’t quote you
immediately but when I get
a hold of your book . . .
you said we should know it
by memory not ‘my knowledge
is in the book. I’ll look it up.’
Without your books,
I think of your books.
Without you answering my letters,
I write them anyway and imagine
Without love or knowledge of God,
I depend on you completely.
‘That is theist,’ you said, faith
in Vedas. It is not enough to say,
‘I believe in God.’
Disciple of Prabhupada is
a tall order. Who claims it?
Maybe I can say weak disciple.
Your chela ever since you
in the old days.
I’ll still be your boy when
I’m ancient-looking and
when I’m a spiritual person
I will know who I am,
and you will give me service.”
“There is a great need to distribute Krsna consciousness. While writing his commentaries on Srimad-Bhagavatam in the early 1960s, Prabhupada noted that international wars were due to the Age of Kali in which ‘there is always a chance of quarrel on slight provocation.’
“Due to Kali, there is also now propaganda to stop glorification of the name and fame of the Supreme Lord. Therefore it is the duty of those who have received the transcendental message to broadcast it throughout the world in order to do the supermost good as well as to bring about peace in the world.
“A brahmana receives absolute knowledge, but if he does not distribute it he is compared to a leaky pot. Unless a brahmana teaches, he will lose whatever knowledge he has. Distributing the truth is therefore an integral part of knowing the truth.
“They met on the roof
in 1922 in Calcutta.
The evening air was warm. Stars and moon
and scanty electric lights
revealed the form of the saintly person
sitting on the roof.
At once he told him, ‘You are intelligent.
Why don’t you preach Lord Caitanya’s message
to the whole world?’
Abhay challenged: ‘What about swaraj?
India is not an independent nation.’
It doesn’t matter, said his Guru Maharaj.
Krsna Consciousness cannot wait
and doesn’t depend on king or president.
All it needs is a pure devotee,
someone submissive to his guru
and bold in Krsna’s service.
One was sent by Krsna,
and the other also.
One appeared as guru,
the other as disciple.
And they met.
Radha and Krsna, Arjuna and Krsna,
Pariksit and Sukadeva, Vidura and Maitreya,
Lord Caitanya and Rupa-Sanatana—
all these were great meetings,
as was this in 1922
when the seed-direction was given
for delivering humankind.
All the world was dreaming nightmares,
threefold sufferings and repeated births and deaths.
But the way to their awakening
was ordered that night
by one who had seen the truth
capable, trusted, chosen, and blessed.
It began from there.
Now the spiritual work would begin.
No more sublime discussion
followed by inaction,
no more centuries of charitable enlightenment
locked within a crippled nation.
Now it would burst forth,
according to the desires and plans of the acaryas.
The release of all the Jagais and Madhais!
The release of all the cave-dwellers!
The liberation of women and children and animals and men!
The ushering in of a golden, pious age
by the release of knowledge of the eternal soul
and knowledge of loving union with God!
Hope for everyone
now assured by this exchange
between two powerful servants of the Lord!
That the meaning remained hidden on that night
was also the will of the Lord,
so nothing would interfere
with the sacred unfolding of His plans,
starting with this confidential exchange
that fools and rascals could not
understand or disturb.
In the guise of a young Gandhian,
Abhay appeared to argue,
appeared to be defeated.
After he went downstairs, he revealed his mind:
‘He is wonderful! Now I know
Lord Caitanya’s movement is in expert hands.’
‘I accepted him as my spiritual master immediately.
Not officially, but in my heart.’”
“He sometimes played back what he dictated so I could hear. The idea that Srila Prabhupada didn’t teach the inner meanings of our philosophy is wrong. Even if we take it that he mostly spoke the basics of pure bhakti, consider that. Consider why he did it and how he was an uttama-adhikari, but how he spoke for the understanding of ordinary people. Who am I? What do I need to hear? I need to listen better to the compassion of Srila Prabhupada’s strong preaching. Listen to his assertive mood. Be an insider, an intimate who loves his master and appreciates what he’s doing and why—and who wants to learn to serve like that also. The servant preaches widely all over the world, to audiences who need to hear.
“You sit on your bed, Srila Prabhupada, and hold the Dictaphone. In your last weeks, you lay on your back and dictated the thirteenth chapter of the Tenth Canto. When I read that chapter now, let me remember you dictating up until the end. Jayadvaita was holding the microphone. Srila Prabhupada smashed the ‘four-headed scientists’ and told the sweet pastime of how he desired and Krsna allowed a temple to be built in Vrndavana.”
Irritable people like me
aren’t going to reach Krsna
This morning I looked out
and saw the dark
a man was in the house
What are you doing here? I
asked. He said he was a
I asked are you from Krsna’s
sankirtana army? Are you aware
it is the book distribution
Does that still count
now that their big shot
I’m not sitting high above
anymore. I’m taking it easy
here, my son, my daughter,
sit and tell me what you
want, let’s talk of
spiritual matters in
the glow of a turf fire.
Hare Krsna there’s a way
for animals to go
too, take prasadam.
Take hearing of great souls.
He fell back on old blues
lines. Is gayatri I mean
Karttika over? Have the devotees
returned from their vraja-
Where are they camped?
Oh, they are back in the
fort, Krishna-Balaram Mandir,
they are recovering . . .
No not yet seven solid days
left for full parikrama
and I want to not fall
short she and her sister said.
Random. Notes. I am praying
in my private pew. Lord please
give me faith and a lecturer’s
Lord grant me remembrance to
pray with You, to You.
I am Yours. Your Bhagavad-
gita is open on my desk. It’s
a blessed early morning when I
actually read it.
Hare Krsna the Supreme Lord
knows our minds.
Vrndavana seems far off
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.