Our khichri Hindu bhakta, Amith, moved in with his belongings on Tuesday. He is already trained to do the morning and evening personal services with me. He also helps Krsna Dasi during the day when he’s not working. He is very sweet and helpful. He likes reading Prabhupada books with us during the daily readings.
Yesterday and today, we had a warm window of weather over 50 degrees. Taking advantage of that, Anuradha Dasi mulched the roses and the hyacinths so that their roots will be protected when the winter becomes brutally cold.
Purusha and Baladev took advantage by fixing the broken concrete on Krsna Dasi’s back porch. It had become loosened and treacherous. So, they dug out all the cracked and loose concrete and then put in a layer of new cement yesterday. After it cures for 24 hours, they will put another coat on top of that to complete the job. There was no way to have that done before the winter unless we had this little warm weather spell.
Baladev’s sister Kathi and her 56-year-old son David have come here from Maine, mostly for David to finish the kitchen cupboards, which started a couple of months ago. He has been waiting for the hardware and doors to come from North Carolina. He’s trying to finish the job before they have to leave for a family engagement during the Christmas break. Baladev told me that Kathi was complaining about old age. She told me that she wasn’t complaining but that she was noticing more about how it is happening on the drive down from Maine. She drove for eight hours and in the nighttime, she felt pain. I told her I would give her a gift to cure her up. I received a gift for a book by Dr. Seuss named “You’re Only Old Once!: A Book for Obsolete Children.” I read the book myself and enjoyed it and then I gave it as a gift to Kathi. She was delighted and she said she had read most of Dr. Seuss’ books to her son when he was a child. I also mentioned to Kathi that we had recently encountered two quotes from Prabhupada’s purports which were “pro-Buddhist.” A few times when Kathi was listening to our zoom reading, we encountered Prabhupada “bashing” the Buddhists, but now we have two favorable quotes to show them, and they are happy about that. They plan on staying a week; they are welcome guests at the kitchen table, although they may not like to stay there for the long out loud reading from Prabhupada’s books. Purusha, “the prodigal son,” has been here for two weeks and he’s leaving tomorrow, returning to his home in Florida. He fits in here well and is a gentle person. He is a faithful disciple initiated many years ago. I like his company. Purusha does nice service around the house as well as shopping and other chores, relieving Baladev. One good quality about him is he likes to read and hear the Bhagavatam, during our out loud reading.
We are having the first “real” snow of the winter. They are expecting four inches by the end of the day. It is cold outside, so it should be easy to shovel, which devotees will do late this afternoon or tomorrow morning, depending on when it stops. We’ve prepared ourselves by getting out the shovels, ice scrapers for the cars and a bag of salt for the steps.
Dave, Kathi’s son, announced this morning that for the next days he will need the pots and utensils cleared out in the kitchen so that he can work on the installation of cabinet doors and drawers, that just arrived two days ago. The installation will require him to use the kitchen space for cutting, sanding and staining the bare wood. This will create a major problem for the cooks and pujaris. They will all have to gingerly work around each other for a couple of days until he’s finished. He says, “This is stage one, and there’ll be another time when I’ll have to clear the kitchen for the final stages of work.” David and Kathi will have to leave on Thursday for family commitments in New Jersey and then come back after the weekend to finish off the work. And they may even have to stay till Christmas.
Since Guru dasa is in the hospital and not typing indefinitely, we had to cancel one week of publishing the Free Write Journal, but we put together some new replacement typists and are using the material to put another journal out at the end of this week, but I’m feeling apprehensive of whether we can pull it off on a long-term basis. We don’t even have the technical savvy on how to publish the journal without Guru dasa. But we have some devotees with technical savvy who promised us they could do it, but I am feeling somewhat shaky as we try to carry on without Guru dasa.
We had our monthly book team meeting on Zoom. Krishna Bhajan went over the flowchart of the books to be ready for the summer meeting of 2023. It seems like all the deadlines will be hit so six books can come out. He also did a tentative flowchart for the books to come out at the next year’s Vyasa Puja in 2023. I was also excited to hear that Uddhava in Hungary is volunteering to do new illustrations for the Nimai series books. The BBT gave us a deadline to print all the materials (essays) from Back to Godhead magazine, which they hold the copyright. The deadline they gave us was January 16, 2023.
In Italy, the devotees are trying to resurrect the existing Italian translations and republish them. Manohara is now doing layout and trying to engage other devotees in the project. Ananda Kisora is trying to publish Kindle versions of all the books, because many people only read on Kindle. There is another collaborative meeting scheduled with Nitai in Delhi to ensure that there is no duplicate work done between the two offices of GN Press.
Last night, I didn’t sleep by eight o’clock, so I called Baladev. I told him I was obsessing over Guru dasa’s fate. Baladev rubbed my back and gave me a sleeping pill to get back to sleep, but it was still a big worry on my mind this morning until we got his email from overnight. The bad news was that he mistakenly thought he had insurance, but he doesn’t, so his sister is trying to arrange that for him. The good news is that the doctors will continue treating him whether or not he can pay. That’s their physician’s creed and high ethical behavior.
I’ve been speaking to Guru dasa in Germany at the end of the out loud reading. This morning, he seems clearer than he has been, even though he’s going to have another operation tomorrow. The conversation was more lucid. His sister is talking to him, to the hospital and to the insurance company to try to keep everything in balance. Yesterday I wrote an intercession prayer to Krishna on his behalf.
In our out loud reading, we hear that Brahma heard two syllables resounding from the sky. They were TA and PA, which mean austerity and penance. Brahmaji took the sound vibration as coming directly from Krishna, and he obediently followed the instruction and took to practicing severe austerity for one thousand years of the demigods. The Supreme Lord was so pleased with him that he appeared in His personal form before Brahmaji and shook his hand in a friendly manner. Lord Brahma’s relationship with Krishna is as a friend. Prabhupada writes in his purport that not only Brahmaji but any pure devotee is qualified to see Krishna in His personal form and receive a friendly handshake.
It turned out to be a regular snowstorm overnight on December 12th. Eight inches accumulated so the devotees had to get out and dig out the cars and the parking areas so that the cars were free in case of emergency and to go shopping, etc. Baladev used the snowblower for the men’s ashram, for the whole driveway and across the front. Anuradha Dasi preferred the exercise and cleared out the whole women’s ashram with a snow shovel. It was a total surprise because it was predicted to be only two to four inches of snowfall. So we were a little unprepared.
In a good neighbor gesture, Baladev went outside to blow the snow off the driveway and walkways of our friendly neighbors, Jan and Richard. Richard is completely incapacitated. When he engaged the driving mechanism, it was working fine. But, when he engaged the snow throwing blades, they were jammed and started shrieking and smoking. So, his attempt was foiled. He had to bring the snowblower back and felt that since he had started the job, he had to finish it with a snow shovel. Although last year, he had trouble shoveling because of back issues. If the machine doesn’t respond when the weather warms up next week it will have to be picked up and taken to the dealer to be fixed before the next snowstorm. The reason we got the snowblower to begin with was because Baladev had shooting pains going down his leg from the last major snowstorm. If all else fails, we still have Anuradha Dasi who has a good strong back and tenacious attitude to getting physical work done.
Krishna Kripa made a video of Krsna dasi and Anuradha decorating our indoor miniature Christmas tree and singing Krsna conscious Christmas carols. We celebrate Christmas here by exchanging gifts and remembering Jesus as a saint and feasting. This year Kathi and David will be here on Christmas Day because David hasn’t finished working on the kitchen project. They have to go on Thursday for a family engagement, but then they’ll be back. The video of the ladies singing and decorating the tree was very nice, but they forbid from Krishna Kripa from showing it on his blog. I enjoyed it. It’s a good example of how you can Krsna-ize Christmas.
Viraha Bhavan has become a different place lately, Krishna Kripa lamented. On previous visits here it was so quiet. After I went to take rest, he could come out of his room and sit at the table with his computer and books and write his blog peacefully or do some proofreading, take his evening snack, etc., without a lot of people “shooting the breeze,” but now it’s become different. Half of the kitchen paraphernalia has been displaced while David is working on the cabinets, devotees are coming and going. There’s even a holiday spirit building, as devotees come closer to celebrating Jesus’s birth in a Krsna conscious way giving and accepting gifts, giving and accepting prasadam, etc. There is a changing of the guard going on with some servants leaving and some coming; it’s a busy place. Amith has moved in with his belongings. He is a new resident, but he’s leaving again on Saturday to visit relatives and friends during the holidays. Although he is a Hindu now, he actual comes from a South Indian Christian background. It is an austerity for the cooks not to have their pots, pans and utensils readily available. Some days the cooking will have be done down at the women’s ashram while carpentry work goes on in the kitchen with its noise and saw dust, etc.
NG called today. He made his regular daily call today. We told him I was doing all right. I am stable, busy with writing, comfortable and happy to be in the association of devotees at Viraha Bhavan. My medications seem to be adjusted properly. There are no doctor’s appointments scheduled until mid-January, which is a great relief. I am grateful to Krsna for making so many nice arrangements.
Another day, Advaita, shining like the pure sun, after bathing and performing worship, came to see Mahāprabhu. At that time, the Lord was going to Śrīvāsa’s house.
With a slight smile, putting flowers on a stick, roaring, the lotus eyed Lord said, “I have worshiped this club to punish the sinful.
“There is one great sinner who hates my devotees. I will make him suffer in hell with leprosy and sores all over his body. I will make his disciples food for dogs and jackals.
“I want to go to the forest. It is a very big forest difficult to enter, filled with tigers, monkeys, grass and trees.”
Hearing that Advaita was coming, he thought “Is he here? Why did he not come? There is some delay. I will go there.” But Advaita came, fell on the ground and offered respects repeatedly.
Raising him up, the Lord held his hand and said, “I was coming to see you.” The merciful Lord sat with him on a cot and shone brightly.
On the Lord’s order, Advaita, with a joyful heart, danced intensely. Seeing this, the Lord, the moon in an ocean of rasa, joyfully spoke to him, attracting Advaita’s mind.
“People pray for this prema. O great soul! I have given it to you.” Advaita said, “The devotees of your lotus feet are truly candidates for that prema.”
Shining like the rising moon, the Lord, sitting with the devotees in the moonlit night, said to Advaita, “You are a devotee. I have come on earth because of you.”
Hearing this, Śrīvāsa, best of the brāhmaṇas, spoke to the Lord of the universe, full of mercy, in fear, with sweet words. “O Lord! Who can be a devotee? It is your mercy only.”
The Lord with lips quivering in anger spoke to Śrīvāsa with firm words. “Who is a devotee? Do you think Uddhava and Śukadeva are my devotees and not him?”
“Advaita is equal to me, and worshippable by all the devatās. There is no other person like him who has appeared in Bhārata. There is no one like him on earth.”
Śrīvāsa brought Śacī, famous as Mahāprabhu’s mother, who was the mother of the whole universe. She trembled in fear in front of the Lord at that time.
Seeing his mother, Mahāprabhu suddenly bent his lotus face in alarm. Śrīvāsa, on seeing this, felt sorrow in his heart and spoke to Gauracandra timidly.
“This is not suitable for you, the most merciful Lord. If it is, what are we to you? O best master! Showing your powerful aspect is not proper.” Then he quickly spoke to Śacī.
“Come and first fall on the ground.” Hearing this, she delayed. He said with affection, “Falling on the ground immediately, do not consider him to be your son.”
Hearing this Śacī fell on the ground and offered respects to the Lord. Wise Śrīvāsa then spoke to the Lord in fear.
“O Lord! O master! Show mercy to Śacī so that she does not think of you as her son and so that she will surrender to you. Then I can be happy.”
When he said this, the merciful Lord suddenly placed his lotus feet on her head. Showing mercy to her, he spoke in joy.
“On touching my lotus feet, immediately she cries profusely. Confused, her hairs stand on end. Without shyness she dances with enthusiasm.”
After a long time, Śacī recovered her composure with great endeavors of many types. Crying, with tears washing her body, she returned home alone in fear.
Immediately offering respects with lowered shoulders, they joyfully accepted this worship which is the form of prema. Pleased with the affection of those devotees, the Lord bountifully gave them what they had desired.
“Are there not many jackals there? What is the use of the holy places to them? Are they not just jackals?” The brāhmaṇa then eagerly fell on the ground.
Gauracandra, full of mercy, whose heart is merciful to the miserable, who knows the heart of each person, said to the brāhmaṇa, “Today you will have prema for the lotus feet of the Lord.”
The great devotee with affectionate heart, immediately fell at his feet, with hairs standing on end all over his body. With tears and choked voice, speaking loudly, he cried.
The Lord spoke to intelligent, generous Gadādhara who had a sweet nature and was most peaceful, who slept near him at night. “Distribute the old garlands to them.”
Gadādhara would joyfully give to the devotees Mahāprabhu’s remnants—whatever the Lord joyfully permitted.
Daily Gadādhara would eagerly make garlands, carefully prepare paste of sandalwood and kuṁkuma with scents, and apply these to his limbs.
One time in the evening Gauracandra appeared in the ocean of kīrtana with his lotus devotees. Seeing the sky suddenly become completely covered with clouds, fearing an obstacle, he showed mercy.
Like Cupid personified on earth, he took in his lotus hands excellent cymbals and in joy loudly sang the Lord’s glories with rāga and correct notes.
Immediately the clouds, losing power, were scattered in all directions by the wind. The sky became clear and the moon rose with the stars to extinguish the darkness.
The shining moon, spreading its hands, firmly embraced its attractive new bride, the night, with a cloth composed of absence of darkness. The moon took pleasure in the light, which agitated the waves in the ocean of bliss.
As the moon with the stars poured out nectar in the clear sky, Gauraṅga with his shining rays, enjoyed the rasa of sweet kīrtana with his devotees on earth.
Hearing this, Śrīvāsa was silent. The merciful Lord again spoke. “You should not for a moment speak about adhyātma.
If you speak about adhyātma even for a moment, I will not give bhakti-yoga, which is most rare.”
Śrīvāsa said, “O Lord! Please arrange so that I forget about adhyātma.”
Murāri said, “I do not know about ādhyātma. Please give me mercy.”
Mahāprabhu said to him on the road, “You know about it. You heard from me previously.”
In the summer, all the people attained natural coolness from the nectar of dancing and singing and enjoyed in the lake of the mind. This was most astonishing.
Wearing fine white comfortable cloth, decorating his head most attractively, with a shining coral necklace around his neck, the golden mountain Gaurāṅga was outstanding as he danced.
With armbands and golden bracelets on his broad arms, with gold rings shining on his fingers, the defeater of Cupid remained victorious in dancing.
With hands attractive like freshly blossoming lotuses, his beauty illuminating all directions, his chest defeating the peak of Meru, with sweet lips, he danced continually.
you were ever-willing,
facing pain and death to save us.
Here I speak of “pain and death”
and so fail to understand
the liberated soul.
For you there was no pain or death –
not like an ordinary man’s.
And yet we saw you undertake
many risks and dangers
of this world.
Although we cannot see you as material
yet we cannot take you lightly;
we will not understand
if we judge in meager terms
of our own experience,
but through the eyes of sastra
and through the eyes of love
we know you endured many risks and pains
just to save us
from the ordeal of illusion
of repeated births and deaths.
You had come for a celebration.
but now your servants carried you.
Your followers were supplicating Krishna,
and you were lying down
amidst continuous kirtan,
depending on Krishna.
Suddenly the Governor of Uttar Pradesh
was coming for a visit to the temple!
He can come, your disciples said,
but Prabhupada cannot see him.
The fever almost a delirium,
still you ordered,
and four men carried you
in a chair into the courtyard.
With dozens of policemen, cars, and militia,
the Muslim potentate arrived to find
you—greeting, smiling, standing, lecturing,
and requesting that he please
help you obtain cement.
Finally, after accepting prasad,
and your temperature rose to 105.
We do not like to speculate
but take your every act
as divine instruction.
Half a dozen devotees
were also ill,
but with your example
leading the way
everyone was laboring
to build Krishna’s temple.
It’s natural that you want to meditate on being with him. And you’d like to convey some of this to others also. You want to honestly say, “I have such a great spiritual master. Come and meet him.”
There are different levels of Prabhupada consciousness. Devotees have even spoken of “an illusory Prabhupada,” meaning a Prabhupada whom they imagine. When one is deviating, one can rationalize that Prabhupada won’t mind—an illusory Prabhupada. And there is an official Prabhupada, and a superficially worshiped Prabhupada, and so on. There’s a Prabhupada of the nectarean anecdotes whom the Western theologian would refer to as “the historical Prabhupada.” And there’s the all-pervading Prabhupada. As Suta Gosvami said about Sukadeva: “I offer my obeisances to my spiritual master who enters into the heart of everyone.” Similarly, Vyasadeva praised his spiritual master, Narada: “Like the sun, your goodness can travel everywhere in the three worlds, and like the air you can penetrate the internal region of everyone. As such, you are as good as the all-pervading Supersoul” (Bhag. 1.5.7).
I can’t begin to comprehend all the suffering that is going on in the world, nor do I want to. It’s too bewildering and painful. I also cannot comprehend Prabhupada’s depth of compassion and his strong desire to bring everyone relief from their pangs. As a neophyte devotee, I repeat phrases like “the sufferings of repeated birth and death,” “the threefold miseries,” and “the fallen souls suffering in material nature”—until these phrases sometimes become cliches or merely philosophical concepts. But a mahatma whose heart is expanded, actually feels compassion for the sufferings of other souls.
In most cases, an individual conditioned soul knows only his own suffering. He is concerned with how to alleviate his bodily and mental pains. That is his meditation. Or he may think also of his family’s needs. But if we want to practice Prabhupada meditation, then we will have to comprehend the world’s suffering and how to be compassionate for other living beings.
As a Vaisnava acarya, Srila Prabhupada cautioned whoever he met, not to try the impossible. Sometimes a person would challenge Prabhupada, “What are you doing to help suffering humanity?” Or, “How can we help everyone in the world?” Prabhupada would reply, “Do you know all living beings? No, that is not possible.” Or he would remind the person who expressed a world-embracing view, that they couldn’t do anything to alleviate suffering. They can’t even end their own suffering. Therefore, Prabhupada’s first lesson in compassion was to point out our ignorance of how to do good.
The universe is not chaotic, meaningless suffering. There are strict laws that govern all activities, such as the laws of karma and samsara (transmigration of souls). If we ignorantly try to meddle with these laws in a sentiment of “doing good,” it will not help anyone.
Every student of Bhagavad-gita is faced with the misplaced compassion of Arjuna. Arjuna’s unwillingness to fight with his bodily relatives is sometimes praised as compassion, and sometimes criticized as ignorance and cowardice. When the Bhagavad-gita first describes Arjuna as “overwhelmed with compassion,” Prabhupada comments, “He was also crying out of compassion. Such symptoms in Arjuna were not due to weakness but to his softheartedness, a characteristic of a pure devotee of the Lord.” But a little later in the same chapter, Srila Prabhupada explains how Arjuna’s feelings are misplaced:
No one knows where compassion should be applied. Compassion for the dress of a drowning man is senseless. A man fallen in the ocean of nescience cannot be saved simply by rescuing his outward dress—the gross material body. One who does not know this and laments for the outward dress, is called a sudra, or one who laments unnecessarily. Arjuna was a ksatriya and this conduct was not expected from him. Lord Krsna, however, can dissipate the lamentation of the ignorant man and for this purpose the Bhagavad-gita was sung by Him.
– Bg. 2.1, purport
Prabhupada’s presentation was so real that it immediately worked. By lecturing first in America and then worldwide, he single-handedly spread the Krsna Consciousness Movement. As he sometimes said, “Whatever change you see in my disciples, it has all come about by hearing.” No one else accomplished this for Prabhupada, but he did it himself. Many swamis and professors had spoken from Bhagavad-gita, but no one ever became a devotee of Krsna by hearing their lectures.
When we think of Prabhupada’s disciples before they met him, and unfortunately, when we see how many of his disciples returned to their ways after his disappearance–it shows us how powerful Prabhupada was in attracting and holding souls in Krsna consciousness, by their listening to his words. Although young men and women coming to hear Srila Prabhupada in the ’60s and ’70s had been through many trips and disappointments, when they came in contact with Srila Prabhupada they sat like sages at his lotus feet and became satisfied. In effect, we thought, “Whatever else is going on in this phony, crazy world, this person, Prabhupada, is real and I’m going to be his devotee and serve Krsna.”
It’s wrong to think that Prabhupada is no longer here to give the daily class. We can still hear him although it may take more effort on our parts than when Prabhupada was favoring us by his glances and personal presence as he spoke: Becoming “fixed up” in Krsna consciousness still occurs by hearing, either from Srila Prabhupada or his representatives in the Srimad-Bhagavatam class. Prabhupada didn’t intend that the parampara of speaking should stop with himself. When a guest asked Prabhupada, “How does one achieve this divine consciousness that you’re speaking of?” Prabhupada replied, “Come and hear from us. We are having classes every morning at seven-thirty. Come and participate with the others.” Srila Prabhupada offered himself in that way. And because he is transcendental, he continues to live in sound.
I notice the grammar of Prabhupada’s English and how it is different than modern American grammar. Lately, however, this has not bothered me as much as it used to.
I try not to analyze and judge; I just hear from him. Outsiders cannot understand this, but I know it is true. If I think my spiritual master just said something wrong, or what he said is outdated, that will make me fall down.
Let me give an example. Today while I was eating lunch, I heard Prabhupada saying (on a tape from 1973) that Krsna gives opulence to His devotees. “In Los Angeles the neighbors say, ‘You have such nice buildings and nice food and cars, but you don’t go to work. How is that?’” Prabhupada said that they do not know that Krsna takes care of His devotees. When I heard this today, I thought, “Oh, Prabhupada, this isn’t true anymore. That was part of the old ISKCON. We got money by begging, but it has been proved that you cannot sustain the movement in that way.”
Then I checked my criticism. I thought, “Don’t make those judgments according to time. Things may seem different now, but whatever was wrong or right in the devotees’ behavior, that doesn’t make Prabhupada’s words wrong. He is not to be judged by the changes of history. What he says is based on sastra. His examples may be relative in time, but his point is always correct. And even specifically it is correct.” While thinking this I was eating lunch in Jaya Gaurasundara’s house. They had prepared a wonderful prasadam lunch for me with sabjis, capatis, and rice. It occurred to me that I am receiving so much care and protection by Krsna. Why am I so ungrateful? Even while hearing these words by Prabhupada it is being proven true in my case. I saw it in that way and understood that the attempt to argue against Prabhupada is false. These are tricks of Maya.
Sometimes I have to go beyond intellectual reasoning and just hang on with faith. Eventually I will also get the intellectual reasons. Doubts come into my mind, but I pray: “Please bless me, Prabhupada. This dirty-minded boy is trying to be true to you. He knows that you are the only way out of this material world. I love you and your instructions and I want to keep hearing them as much as possible. Please let me do it.”
Dear Srila Prabhupada,
Please accept my humble obeisances at your lotus feet.
I am very thankful that you are letting me write in Krsna consciousness in my own way. It gives me deep satisfaction. I hope the pleasure I experience in rendering this service is an indication that Krsna and my spiritual master are also feeling pleasure by my service. The Bhagavatam states, yenatma suprasidati. Only devotional service can give true pleasure to the self.
Now that we are serving in separation, I execute my service without hearing directly from you whether or not you are pleased by it. Still, I feel threatened when others speak in your name and give absolute decisions based on what they think you would want for me. Therefore, you have arranged that your disciples may serve according to their heart’s understanding. We have to take the risk that our service is pleasing to you. Even if we do please you in a general way, what specifically you find the most pleasing is only something you can know and communicate to us. As Krsna says—and this is also true of our relationship with you—”As they surrender to Me, I reward them accordingly.”
I hope I am not making a mistake in my analysis of this point, and I pray that if I am mistaken, you will please correct me. Sometimes the guru does speak through other persons, not just trustworthy Vaisnavas and siksa-gurus, but through ordinary persons, or through odd moments in life. Even a stone or blade of grass can teach us. I want to be open to however you may instruct me, sincerely wanting to understand, “What does Prabhupada want me to do?”
The saddest part of my life is when I think I know what you want, but feel incapable of carrying it out. This shouldn’t happen. Sometimes I can carry your instructions out partially, and then I have to look honestly at how painstakingly I am willing to serve. You have given us plenty to strive for, plenty to think about. Our lives in your service are full of thought and surrender, full of adventure.
I pray to follow the mood of all true devotees. If I fail to attain you in this life, then I request that in the next life I can resume my remembrance and service without interruption. Please, somehow or other, take me to you in my next life.
I went to Brahmanda Ghata where the Vraja-mandala parikrama devotees are a hundred strong, gathered on their next to last day of parikrama. I spoke there from Prabhupada’s books. After the lecture, the devotees discussed how rare it is to enter Vrndavana. One devotee related how Brahma and Uddhava and others prayed that in many, many lifetimes in the future, they might take birth here so that they could associate with the dust of Vrndavana. Then I asked, “If it’s so rare, how is it that we are able to enter?” The devotee replied that the dust of Vrndavana shouldn’t be taken in an external sense; it means attaining service to the Vaisnavas, the associates of Krsna. In other words, entrance is not just physical entrance.
Then Lokanatha Maharaja answered the question in another way: we have access to Vrndavana, even though so many great souls don’t, by the mercy of Prabhupada. When he said that, several devotees said, “Jai!” It’s as if none of us had thought of that. We were speaking as if we don’t have entrance, but Lokanatha Maharaja reminded us that we do have access by Prabhupada’s grace. It was a nice moment of Prabhupada remembrance. Who else could have dragged us to Vrndavana from our Western backgrounds and mentalities? And even if we had come here on our own somehow,
we would have seen only poor, rural, backward India. But now we see flashes of krsna-lila and krsna-prema, and we appreciate the dust of Vrndavana, by Prabhupada’s grace.
The Siksastaka describes how the devotee offers respects to others without expecting any respect for himself. He is respectful even to the ant. Why? Because he sees all living beings as part and parcel of Krsna. A materialist is not deeply respectful to others because his concern is to get respect for himself. But the devotee wants to be the servant, not the master, and taking that humble position, he respects the lives of others. He respects their right to live and doesn’t want to hurt or disturb anyone. He respects that all living beings have been given their life by Krsna, and he knows that he has no right to take it away. He sees all living beings equally and respects them equally.
Although the devotee respects all, he doesn’t worship anyone except Krsna or the pure devotee of Krsna. Worship is for the Supreme Personality of Godhead alone. But that does not mean that the devotee is disrespectful. If he did not save his exclusive worship for the Supreme Lord, then that would be the greatest disrespect to the Supreme Personality of Godhead
The topmost devotee, the mahabhagavata, respects even the demons, because he sees everyone in his place as a servant within the plan of the Supreme. But for preaching, the devotee has to distinguish between devotee and demon. And preaching is so important and relishable that sometimes the mahabhagavata comes down to the intermediate position of making distinctions to preach.
In the Bhagavad-gita, Krsna teaches us to distinguish between the devotee and the nondevotee and also to see all living entities as His parts and parcels. Krsna describes in the Sixteenth Chapter two kinds of people in the world— devotees and nondevotees. But He also says mamaivamso jiva-loke: all the jivas are His eternal parts and parcels. He explains as the jivas approach Him, He rewards them accordingly. And His final instruction is that the jiva give up all material activities and become His pure devotee.
Sometimes people argue against the total dedication a devotee makes when coming to Krsna consciousness. “Why do you have to give up your possessions?” the nondevotee complains. “God doesn’t ask that we give up our wealth. He wants us to be happy!” But God does ask that we give up our wealth.
Yes, God does want us to be happy, and that’s why He asks us to give up our wealth. Material possessions will not make us happy. We can be happy only in the eternal, spiritual world, free of the unhappiness of birth, death, disease, and old age. Lord Jesus stresses the same wisdom of renunciation: “It is more difficult for a man attached to wealth to enter the kingdom of God than it is for a camel to enter the eye of a needle!” If we are going to love Krsna with our mind, words, and body, then why not with our wealth also?
I, Satsvarupa dasa Goswami, hereby declare myself in need of Sri Krsna’s profound grace. I ask Him to help me. What do I need? I need contrition. I am afraid to become too emotional, and yet … Why am I not sorry that I haven’t attained Your attention more? Why don’t You reveal Yourself to me so that I care for You? Your name, just a drop of its essence, would flood me with awareness of You. I would crave the chanting day and night.
Yes, I’ll work on it. I am at my desk filling out the application forms, writing the exam essay. But please don’t delay me unnecessarily. I will probably never be qualified.
Dear spiritual master, you are the most merciful representative of Krsna. Please give me full devotion. I won’t selfishly keep it to myself. I will serve you and your Krsna consciousness movement just as you have always asked us to do in your letters, books, and lectures.
It may be wrong to demand attention. I am just one of uncountable jivas who wake up in the morning. How horrible is the grip of maya—the worries, the pains, and the void … People who don’t have God and who are cruel to others are headed for worse suffering. Some of us get cushioned by past good karma, then we sit on our cushions, caring neither for others nor to attain real safety in eternal life.
I was just thinking today about my beads. Someone said they were going to get me tulasi beads. And I was thinking, “But these beads have been chanted on by Srila Prabhupada.” Then I thought, “But my beads are so worn out. The paint is worn off.” But what is more important in a devotee’s life than his beads, and that his spiritual master has chanted on them. The spiritual master who gave him Hare Krsna has also chanted on his beads. They are blessed. It’s a benediction. Just like maha-prasadam. Something used by the spiritual master is worshipable. So that’s the significance. And it’s something you can feel. We are appreciating that now. It’s fourteen years since he did it—he only did it once—but they become sacred. Not only has his spiritual master chanted on those beads but he’s asked him to chant nicely. So he should follow the instructions as he chants.
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.