He left last night. He’s going to spend a couple of days with his family and then he’s back on Harinam. The people are out passionately Christmas shopping. There’s only one full week left. The devotees are out chanting all year, spreading good cheer, but especially at this peak season. They are leading the mood of good cheer toward others and people are more likely to reciprocate. We just got a video that Rama Raya’s group made in New York City.
There was a special day where everyone was supposed to dress up in Santa Claus clothes and go bar hopping. This made them more open to the Harinam party. They stopped and chanted and danced or waved when they went by. One pretty young woman with long blond hair, wearing a red dress, was dancing wildly beside the Harinam singing group. Later she was seen carrying a Bhagavad-gita As It Is [I am attaching the photo]. The perfection of the Harinam party is when people chant and take books.
It is late in the season, and we haven’t done our Christmas shopping yet. Our family is expanding. Some people may think it’s frivolous to give gifts, but in the Upadesamrta by Srila Rupa Gosvami, he states that giving gifts and receiving gifts, and giving prasadam and receiving prasadam are items of loving exchanges among devotees. So we have to hurry up and get gifts for our extended family according to our budget.
The reality of winter: this morning it was raining on top of overnight ice. Then it got a couple of degrees colder and then the rain turned into a snow and sleet mix. They call it winter mix. It creates hazardous driving conditions and treacherous walking. On the front porch we put down salt which melts the ice, but then it quickly gets washed away and has to be redone.
Fortunately, it’s not supposed to be bitter cold tonight. So all the ice will have a chance to melt off tomorrow when the temperature is supposed to be 36. That’s the exciting news from the post office. A change in temperature by a couple of degrees can change the whole scene.
Therefore, Amith may not be able to leave early in the morning as planned. He is planning to visit his friends and family in Kentucky and Chicago.
What has this to do with Krsna?
What does the winter weather report have to do with Krsna? This journal is a historical record of little lives in a little ashram in a little town in upstate New York, USA. It may not seem significant, but in the age of Kali the lives of any devotees trying to become Krsna consciousness is important news and a drama worth examining for future generations. In the future, they might be delighted if the unfolding drama of trying to become Krsna conscious is successful.
We had another winter mix last night, a combination of snow and ice. We had to shovel it as soon as possible when the sun came up, because tonight the temperature will go below 20 and it will be all ice again. The shoveling was very heavy because it was so concentrated. Why is it that people live in a place where nature is not so friendly? Is it our faith? It seems like everyone is always complaining in this area. It is either too hot or too cold, not enough rain or too much rain. If you are attached to the body, it is just another miserable place. The upside is there is not so much ugra-karma industry or crowded population. If you have a service of writing, it’s a good place to be. The outside conditions make it more conducive to stay indoors for me.
A devotee name Aakash, a friend of Muktavandya, is coming tonight to do personal service for a week. He arrives at 7:30 P.M., so Baladev has to stay up to make sure he gets prasad and is settled into his room. He is a very nice devotee and very eager to do service. He arranged for many of my books to be delivered to the library at Krishna Balaram mandir in Vrindavan. He’s able to do whatever he is asked. He is multifaceted servitor and a nice person.
Guru dasa went to Vrindavana for purification and he got more than he bargained for. Toward the end of his stay, his already swollen leg became infected to a point where they wouldn’t even let him on the plane in Delhi. He spent two days in the hospital there and was able to get on a plane to America. But because of the nature of his abscess, the airline took him off the plane in Frankfurt, Germany, and put him in the hospital. He spent three weeks there trying to save his legs. He has been cleared to travel now and has a ticket on Monday morning. But he has no clothes. And the stores in Germany are closed Sunday night. His suitcase was lost and the clothes he was wearing were ruined. There is a shortage of nurses, and they don’t speak much English. That’s all the news for now, to be continued… Who knows what Krsna has in store for him. He has to just pray and tolerate.
Ekendra Das, a strong presence in the audio world, has agreed to do the complete audio book project for Srila Prabhupada-lilamrita. Many people have been asking for this for over 30 years and now it is finally happening. Ekendra sent me a sample of the recording from the introduction to Srila Prabhupada-lilamrita, and I thought it was wonderful. He has a great voice, and he puts his heart into it. He has all the recording and editing equipment available to do a professional job. This is another way to get Srila Prabhupada-lilamrita circulated. Many people have only read the condensed version. But they listen to sound recordings all the time while they’re driving, while they are in the kitchen, etc. I feel this is a very important project because anyone who hears or reads the entire seven volume Srila Prabhupada-lilamrita will end up loving Srila Prabhupada. That’s our experience. Reading the seven-volume series of Srila Prabhupada-lilamrita should be mandatory for all new devotees or devotees who haven’t read it. So much has been lost in the condensed one volume version. Atindra and Baladev are going to be asking for donations and hopefully everyone will make this a priority along with getting my other books in print. I hope devotees will come forward with donations to make this project a reality.
Aakash, coming from Boston, is still here for a few more days. He’s in his last semester as a graduate student in mechanical engineering at Northeastern University. He is passionate, and he always wants to be doing service. Both Baladev and Krsna Dasi have things for him to do. Clearing the temple, cutting flowers, making garlands, filling the humidifier twice a day, etc.
We had a previous plan to empty the garage completely, clean it and then bring back everything in an organized way. But we had all this snow that isn’t going away, because it is still very cold at night (it warms during the day but not enough to melt).
Dave and Kathi return today for another week through Christmas. In that time, Dave will finish his project in the kitchen. So there will be austerities, while the cooks try to work while Dave is working on the kitchen. Some days, the cooks will need to use Krsna Dasi’s kitchen when sawdust will be in the air.
Gurudasa was released from the hospital in Germany and taken to the airport where he had a ticket to fly to America. The plane was delayed for two hours. And once he got on the plane it was delayed another two hours due to icy weather conditions. The plane finally arrived in Washington at 7 P.M. Guru dasa’s patient advocate met him with a car and a wheelchair. They drove to Gurudasa’s apartment. He was able to maneuver into the car and then take two steps down into his apartment. Tomorrow he has an appointment with a nurse practitioner who will examine him and give a description of what kind of follow up treatment he needs. And then the home care team can come into his apartment and clean his wounds, redo the dressings, etc. We are relieved that he is back in his place and being cared for.
Radha Govinda’s pujari, Krsna Dasi, will be leaving tomorrow to fly to Houston to join with her two grown up children, Rasesvari and Dhanvantari. It has always been a tradition that their family got together at Christmas. Now that their father, Trinidad Baladeva, has passed away it is even more important for the remainder of their family to get together at Christmas. Krsna Dasi will be away for a week and so They will miss Their usual three-day dress change. She will dress Them before she leaves and then when she returns. Krsna Dasi is a tropical bird (from Trinidad), and she looks forward to a week of warm weather in Houston. But she says she’ll try to stay in New York for February as long as she can, with just a week off here and there to “warm her bones.”
In our out loud reading group, we came upon Canto Three Chapter 11, calculation of time from the atom. Many devotees wince when they read this chapter and a few others like it where there is complex scientific information or genealogical tables. Prabhupada writes in the purport, “the subject matter of physics, mathematics, astronomy, time and space dealt with in the above verses of Srimad Bhagavatam are certainly very interesting to students of the particular subjects”, but as far as we are concerned, we cannot explain them very thoroughly in terms of technical knowledge. “The subject is summarized by the statement that above all the branches of knowledge is the supreme controller of kala, plenary representation of the Supreme Personality of Godhead. “ One truti equals 8/13,500 second, under that one vedha equals 8/135 second, under that one lava equals 8/45 second, etc. Later on in the chapter, we heard of the different millenniums and the kalpas in the life of Brahma. In the purport, Prabhupada writes, “the different millenniums known as Brahma, Padma, and Varaha kalpas appear a little puzzling for the layman. There are scholars who think these kalpas to be one and the same. According to Srila Visvanath Cakravarti, the Brahma-kalpa in the beginning of the first half appears to be Padma-kalpa. We can, however, simply abide by the text and understand that the present millennium is in the second half of the duration of the life of Brahma.”We should try not to be discouraged when we read this chapter, because Srila Prabhupada said that every part of the Srimad Bhagavatam is important, every word. You should try to read this chapter without skipping over it and not get discouraged, hoping that in the future, we will get some glimmer of realization about the depth of the information.
My two disciples, Kiritan Rasa and Damodara, gave me a Christmas gift of two books, titled Authoritative Calvin and Hobbes and the Essential Calvin and Hobbes. They are actually children’s comic books. They are about a six-year-old boy who has a friend who is a tiger. No one can see the tiger except the little boy. My two disciples very much liked these books but I found them too simple and I was unable to draw out any Krsna consciousness from it. Perhaps they thought that I would like the cartoon work since I myself did a tongue and cheek illustrated Krsna conscious book on my life in Krsna consciousness. I appreciate their good intentions. I will give the books back to them so they can enjoy.
Attractive with His beautiful, fluttering dhoti, attractive with His belt bells outside the dhoti shining, the taster of pastimes became a sweet, valuable jewel in the crown of the assembly of great dancers as He danced.
He attracted all minds with the beauty of His extraordinary, shining belt supported by His beautiful rounded hips. He carried two round banana trunks in place of thighs.
Gaurāṅga, like molten gold, was victorious in the dancing, possessing attractive, graceful sides and feet like blossoming lotuses, excellent ankle bells and toe nails shining like rising moonstones.
Playing on the earth by the sweet placement of His feet, which were colored with the luster of bright coral, Gauraṅga, endowed with His sweet soft, charming beauty, was like the form of Cupid.
With the loud sounds of mṛdaṅgas, karatālas and cymbals, with the attractive singing of pure notes, with the uludhvani arising from the mouths of the brāhmaṇas’ wives, there occurred a great festival.
Emitting attractive notes like the cuckoo, with cymbals in their lotus hands, with hairs standing on end, the women, seeing the Lord dance, joyfully sang with sweet delight.
After dancing in this way with skillful pastimes, the Lord sat on seat covered with a new white blanket and spoke to the most fortunate Śrīvāsa Paṇḍita.
“Viṣṇu-bhakti is situated in you. Your name is Śrī or Viṣṇu-bhakti, combined with vāsa or residence. You have been endowed with a sweet name.” Then He said to Murāri, “Read some poetry.”
Murāri Gupta then recited many verses he had composed describing the pastimes, form and qualities of Rāmacandra. Hearing the eight verses describing Rāma, the lion among kings, the Lord placed His feet on Murāri’s head.
“By my mercy, become the servant of Rāma.” He wrote on his forehead four syllables (Rāma-dāsa). Then Mahāprabhu, the great ocean of mercy with sweet form, recited a sweet verse.
“O Uddhava! I am attained by unmixed bhakti. I cannot be attained by mystic yoga, Sāṅkhya philosophy, dharma, Vedic study, austerity or renunciation.”
Reciting sweetly this verse, he spoke with a smile to the brāhmaṇas who had come there. “You should do whatever Śrīvāsa says.”
Śrīrāma Paṇḍita said, “My service is to always serve my elder brother.” Saying “By doing this you will attain all auspiciousness,” the Lord shone, His face as beautiful as the moon.
The Lord, the ocean of mercy, accepted betel, milk and garlands from Śrīvāsa and then, being merciful, distributed his remnants to the devotees who served his lotus feet.
The Lord with a face like a million moons spent the whole night in this way. When the sun rose, the devotees offered respects to Mahāprabhu and went to their houses.
Satisfied with bathing in the Gaṅgā, worshipping the Lord, they again came to see the lotus feet of Mahāprabhu. He was the only medicine to maintain their lives.
Seeing the devotees assemble, with a voice as deep as a rumbling cloud, he spoke wise words. “I have heard that the intelligent avadhūta Nityānanda has come here. How will we see him?
“O Śrīrāma, Mukunda and Murāri Gupta! O Nārāyaṇa! Go quickly from here. Going to where that great soul of great fortune is residing, bring him here.”
Ordered by Mahāprabhu, they went and searched everywhere on the road but did not see him. Again they returned and said, “We could not find him anywhere. What should we do?”
The Lord again spoke. “You will not see him now. You will see him in the evening. Go home and come here in the evening.” They then went home.
In the evening, while walking on the path, the merciful Lord, seeing Murāri the doctor, spoke in a serious tone. “The avadhūta is in Nandanācārya’s house. Go there and quickly bring him here.”
When Mahāprabhu went there, Mahāprabhu saw Nityānanda Prabhu. Gazing at him directly, the ocean of rasa and mercy, beautiful as the moon, spoke to him in a plaintive voice with great politeness.
“You are an incomparable ocean of greatness on this earth. You dry up the ocean of saṁsāra. You give joy to the unlimited living entities and have afflicted the hearts of the pāṣaṇḍīs without limit.
“You have renounced the world but you always give shelter to all the people with your lotus feet. As a renunciate, you take constantly shelter of detachment in this world, but great attachment (for the Lord) is seen in you.”
Saying this, the Lord performed kīrtana and danced with the devotees dedicated to his lotus feet. He purified the heads of the devotees with the dust from Nityānanda’s lotus feet.
The son of Śacī went on the road with his devotees and talked about Nityānanda. He explained that Nityānanda was the best, being endowed with knowledge, devotion and detachment.
Thinking in this way, the ocean of mercy became engaged in begging for Nityānanda the next day. After offering him a fine meal, the Lord smeared sandalwood and kuṁkuma on all his limbs and satisfied him.
Another day, Nityānanda came to Śrīvāsa’s house in great hunger. Śrīvāsa invited him in happily and gave him alms. After that he put sandalwood on his body.
After eating there, Nityānanda took rest. The ocean of mercy arrived there and, entering the temple, sitting on an excellent seat with a good blanket, he shone.
Gauracandra said to him, “Look at me! Look at me since you have rested!” Nityānanda looked at His body but could not see anything. Mahāprabhu understood.
Understanding, the most merciful Lord said to the devotees, “Quickly go outside.” When they went out, Nityānanda saw on Mahāprabhu’s body an effulgence like a hundred million suns.
First seeing Mahāprabhu’s attractive form with six arms, then His sweet, attractive form with four arms, He then suddenly saw His remarkable two armed form again.
On another day at night, after seeing her son weeping while asleep, Śacī in fear spoke to the Lord of the universe.
She said, “O son! Why are you crying?” He answered his mother. “While sleeping I saw the sweetest form.
“His complexion was like a dark, new rain cloud. He had a peacock feather on His head. His thick, curly hair spread over His forehead.
“There were bees hovering around His clove flower crown. He glanced with languid sweetness from eyes stretching to His ears.
“His lotus eyes were pink like the dawn. His intense glance was like a wave of sweetness. He intoxicated the universe with His side glance. His smiling cheeks were like mirrors.
“His waist was as narrow as a fist and shone with a band tied around His stomach. Above His navel, He wore a dhotī with its golden border shining on His toes.
“The effulgence of His smile filled the directions and His sweet, merciful glance was like a lotus. Seeing Him, suddenly I became thrilled with all sorts of happiness.
“Confused, I cried continuously. I was thrown into an ocean of happiness.” Hearing the words of her son, Śacī’s hairs stood on end in bliss.
The Lord made two oceans on His chest with the streams of His tears. For some days He remained in the house of Jagannātha Miśra.
The great form of the avadhūta, who washed Kali of all contamination, gazed at that most beautiful, sweet form of nectar.
Constantly drinking the form with His eyes, He could not be fully satisfied. He then saw an excellent form with six arms, holding in His right arms a conch, cakra, and pure club.
In His other three attractive arms He was holding a flute, an excellent lotus and a bow. He was a young tree made of molten gold, brimming with mercy.
His chest shone with the effulgence of the excellent Kaustubha gem and an attractive necklace of pearls. His makara earrings, sparkling on His ears, illuminated His cheeks.
On his pink neck, attractive as the best conch, was a sapphire necklace. His cloth around His heavy hips shone golden like the rays of the rising sun.
Seeing that form, the ocean of mercy, Nityānanda, rejoiced greatly. Then He saw the attractive four-armed form, and finally the two-armed form.
Astonished on seeing this, joyful Nityānanda showered flowers on that form in private. His mind bursting with great joy, He began dancing.
Merciful Nityānanda, who gave great joy to his devotees, embraced them tightly. Possessed with dancing, he gave joy to the three worlds by flooding them in the river of sweet kīrtana of the Lord.
Making the people like himself, he gave joy to the three worlds. The devatās, receiving a particle of pollen from his two lotus feet, became bewildered.
They were overwhelmed on seeing that, by his mercy, all the people on earth attained great wealth immediately. Can humans put a limit on that great ocean of mercy?
Nityānanda, possessor of great qualities, was thus known on earth as Balarāma. Merciful, attractive Gaurāṅga then spoke to His devotees.
“Nityānanda is absorbed in eating. Go quickly to Advaita’s house and glorify the six armed form as well as Nityānanda in front of Advaita.”
Meeting him, they constantly offered respects on the earth as he also did. Seeing Advaita who was known as Śiva on earth and called Kamalāksa, living in a brāhmaṇa family, among those who made their appearance with the Lord, they informed him as Mahāprabhu had told them. Hearing about the six and four armed form, belonging to the Lord Who ndowed a golden body when He descended on earth, Kamalākṣa was overjoyed.
Overjoyed by the abode of mercy, he drowned in an ocean of happiness. The devotees, happy with his words, and, informing him of everything, offered their respects.
They took the dust from Kamalāksa’s lotus feet and became obedient to those feet. On another day, Kamalākṣa, endowed with unlimited qualities, came to see Mahāprabhu.
Seeing the golden moon, Mahāprabhu, Kamalākṣa roared like a mad lion. After the two, Śiva and the Lord, met, the merciful Lord, the moon of Gauḍa, master of the universe, then showed to Kamalākṣa (Advaita), who is Śiva, endowed with great qualities, His manifested form, in the house of Śrīvāsa, who is known on earth as Nārada.
Accepting that worship, the merciful Lord out of mercy gave items such as flowers and cloth to the devotees. This was the great mercy of Gaurāṅga, the abode of mercy.
These great devotees did not know day or night, happiness or distress. Liberation, though not desired by them, served their bodies in the form of their senseless condition.
They danced and sang in bliss till the sun rose. Passing the whole night, they remained powerless to do anything else, even with the coming of day.
After taking bath in the Gaṅgā, being joyful at the beginning of the day, they saw the Lord’s soft feet, the supreme medicine for maintaining their lives.
Did the cloud, beautifully dark in hue, becoming intensely joyful, suddenly and quietly appear in the sky to see the pastimes of the Lord’s dancing?
“The cool, golden rays of Mahāprabhu, shine sweetly on the earth. Are you, O moon, any longer necessary?” Did the cloud say this and suddenly cover up the moon in the sky?
And did the sun in the sky, defeated by the great effulgence of Gauracandra, out of shame quickly enter the dense clouds?
The clouds, embracing the goddess of the directions who was attractively scented with the fragrant rasa of newly blossoming kadambas, shed profuse tears of joy at that time.
When the Lord’s lotus feet shone sweetly with the nectar of mercy, did the lotuses, thinking, “We are no use at all,” submerge themselves in the water?
The clouds, colored dark like the thick, curly hair of doe-eyed women, became attractive with bolts of lightning, like a tamāla tree placing a blossoming ketakī creeper on its lap.
Thinking that the Lord’s feet were in pain from touching the earth while dancing, the clouds made the earth soft with water.
When the Lord danced, delightfully stepping with His attractive feet in joy, the clouds became an attractive umbrella for the ocean of mercy.
The ocean of mercy endowed with reddish palms made the earth turn red by the sweet effulgence of His lotus feet, which shone like a forest of fresh coral trees.
We expect the disciples to bear witness not only by words of praise for their guru, but by exemplary actions. A great spiritual master is not disproved if some of his disciples become fallen, but on the other hand, enthusiastic, purified followers are certainly an important sign of a Vaisnava’s potency. A Vaisnava acarya is is not eager to gain a reputation as a potent preacher, but he is very desirous to please his spiritual masters, and he is also compassionate to save fallen souls. Prabhupada wrote, “If even one man becomes a pure devotee of the Lord, we shall consider our attempt a success.”
The Prabhupadanugas therefore, have a responsibility to live up to their master’s teachings and expectations. When we are obedient to the vows we have made to him, it is another way of expressing thanks. We try to improve ourselves and aspire to become better devotees, for the pleasure of Srila Prabhupada. We know that a worthy disciple can help newcomers to appreciate the works of Srila Prabhupada.
So according to Srimad-Bhagavatam, we will become purified along with our whole family, just by remembering the activities of a Vaisnava. The statement, “What then can be said of rendering direct service to him?” implies that active service is even more rewarding than the act of remembrance by itself. In another translation by Srila Prabhupada of the same Srimad-Bhagavatam verse, he specifies personal services we may render to the Vaisnava: “Simply by our remembering you, our houses become instantly sanctified. And what to speak of seeing you, touching you, washing your holy feet and offering you a seat in our home?” (Bhag. 1.19.33).When saintly persons like Srila Prabhupada come to this world, they should not be ignored. If one meets a pure devotee and neglects him—or if one vows to follow his order and later falls away—this is a serious mistake. Here is Prabhupada’s purport:
. . . The householders therefore, should feel grateful when such saints and sages appear at their doors. A householder who dishonors such holy orders is a great offender. It is enjoined, therefore, that a householder who does not bow down before a saint at once must undergo fasting for the day in order to neutralize the great offense.
—Bhag. 1.19.33, purport
Sastric praises of the pure devotee may always be applied to Srila Prabhupada. Meditation on Srila Prabhupada may be conducted, therefore, simply by reading the Vaisnava descriptions of the pure devotee spiritual master. We should never see these descriptions as exaggeration.
What is “Prabhupada Meditation?” It’s thinking of him in a deep way, favorably, like the verse, anyabhilasita-sunyam. I want to learn the art and gain the inclination for it.
For a Prabhupadanuga, anything may be considered a Prabhupada meditation. But this obviously can be misused or misunderstood. If I’m acting for sense gratification, I can’t claim, “This is my Prabhupada meditation.” But if I catch myself in sense gratification and remember the instructions of my spiritual master, then I can turn it favorably. I may recall Srila Prabhupada’s saying, “‘Am I doing this for sense gratification or for Krsna’s service?’—You can test.” And so what started as an invitation from maya becomes a meditation on Prabhupada’s vani.
I go to Lord Krsna through Srila Prabhupada. I please Lord Krsna by pleasing Srila Prabhupada. Yasya prasadad … I think of them together. When I read a verse of Bhagavad-gita, I read the Bhaktivedanta purport. So Prabhupada meditation is very inclusive and not restricted to memories only.
In the second recall session with Baladeva, I started again from my 1966 apartment at First Street and took the short walk over to 26 Second Avenue. B. was going to steer me into the hallway to go up to see Swamiji in his apartment, but I suddenly wanted to go directly into the storefront and attend the temple meeting:
Thinking of the kirtanas … with his one-headed drum. That’s really the heart of association with Swamiji, he’s playing his drum and we start playing the karatalas. It’s really nice, the making of spiritual music together, especially when you feel part of the group. Swamiji is leading the kirtan. First he sings some prayers and you just go with it and listen. It’s not only sound but the total kirtan, watching him and trying to get the bliss.
When Swamiji sings you all sing together and your voices are merged. It’s musical and spiritual but it’s a kind of crying too—Hare Krsna, Hare Krsna, Krsna Krsna, Hare Hare, Hare Rama, Hare Rama, Rama Rama, Hare Hare . …
You start in; this is going to go for half an hour. It goes back and forward, he sings and then you sing. Swamiji is completely into it. He loves to do what he’s doing, chanting Hare Krsna.
After a while the dancing started. Maybe Acyutananda or Jadurani, Kirtanananda, Brahmananda, and I would get up too. The dancing was walking in a circle or standing in your place and moving your feet. The circle goes slowly around in front of Swamiji on the dais. Hare Krsna, Hare Krsna, Krsna Krsna, Hare Hare, Hare Rama, Hare Rama, Rama Rama, Hare Hare.
He keeps his eyes closed, and sometimes they open and he sees what’s going on. He looks around at the people, and then he closes his eyes again.
After the kirtana there would be waves of quieting down and the devotees would be smiling to each other, “Wow, that was far-out, man. Boy, I really got off on that one.” Then there would be calming down, getting your seat, getting ready to hear Prabhupada talk. Swamiji was getting himself ready, he had his pocket watch, and he put that in its place, getting his book ready, and maybe he’d say, “Raymond, fix this light.” Or, “Get water,” while everyone’s rustling and trying to calm down.
One wants to be with Swamiji again in those kirtanas. If it can be done, it will act as a vital tonic. The presence of the guru.
It is difficult to actually find a mahatma living in this world. This is Krsna’s opinion, “vasudevasarvam iti / sa mahatma sudurlabha.”
Let us appreciate how rare Srila Prabhupada is. Even by material calculation, Indian sannyasis were scarce in America in the 1960s. Vaisnava sannyasis were extremely rare. The true rarity of Srila Prabhupada is that he was a pure devotee of Krsna. He left Vrndavana to give Krsna to others. That makes Prabhupada one among millions.
It is also unusual to find Westerners accepting pure devotional service. When Prabhupada came to America, we were groping for consciousness expansion. We did not find what we wanted in LSD or in friendship, in art, or in music. We were being dragged toward a cliff to be plunged into death and rebirth. We are very fortunate to have met the pure devotee.
Although we were not qualified, Krsna within our hearts told us, “Go ahead and follow the Swami. Do as he says, chant Hare Krsna.” It was Krsna who allowed us to take that opportunity in the summer of 1966.
By the arrangement of Providence, it appeared quite easy to take to Krsna consciousness. It was as easy as entering the front door that Prabhupada always kept open. My place of work was only a few blocks away from Swamiji’s place. My apartment was also nearby. I discovered the storefront on my lunch hour. If it had been something more difficult, I do not know how I could have taken to it. Therefore, I am very thankful to Prabhupada and Krsna that they brought me to Krsna consciousness by an easy and convenient path.
Sometimes I think like that: What if I were to suddenly see Srila Prabhupada on his morning walk? Perhaps I would not take it as something so unusual. If what I saw was not actually Prabhupada, then I would go on meditating on Prabhupada in my own way. If it was Prabhupada, then I would join the walk for some additional pastimes.
As the years go by, we remember less detail about Prabhupada, but Prabhupada’s coming into our lives remains the outstanding fact. We do not forget that, despite the passing of years.
When Prabhupada was present, we associated with him to our hearts’ content. We never thought, “This may be the last night that I will ever see him.” We climbed the steps to his apartment two at a time. Although we were dressed in karmi clothes and did not know the proper etiquette for approaching the pure devotee, still we had a spring to our step because we were going to see the Swami. It was better than any romantic notions we had about a new girlfriend. There was no letdown in our relationship with the Swami. We were learning to meet Krsna, the inconceivable Supreme Person. We were studying the Vedas and seeing the Swami. Everything was nice.
When Prabhupada visited Boston, I began to sense that he was not always going to be with us. He stayed for a month, but I had to go to work every day. Still, for a whole month I knew I would be able to see him at least part of each day. I could be with him on the morning walk or in his apartment, and then I could be with him again at night. I counted off the days—fifteen days left … fourteen days … thirteen days … ten days …
As with any wealth, association with Prabhupada could be misspent. One tended to take it for granted, failing to appreciate it until it was taken away. Only now do we realize how wealthy we were—and how unworthy. Krsna is kind though. We still are able to count that wealth. Whatever he gave us was sufficient to last a lifetime. We want to remember as much as we can.
This morning we had a puja for Bhaktivinoda Thakura. His picture was up on Prabhupada’s grand vyasasana. Prabhupada was placed on a lower position. I offered my obeisances, and then I offered the arati. I rarely thought to actually look at Prabhupada and think of him as I worshiped him. What was on my mind? To wave this article seven times around tthen purify the next article, wave it this many times to this part of the body, that many times to that part of the body. Try to time yourself so you finish when the devotees are finished singing “Sri Guru-carana-padma.” Where is the worship? Prabhupada, please forgive me.
Because of the occasion, we sang a few of Bhaktivinoda Thakura’s songs—“Gurudeva,” “Ohe! Vaisnava Thakura,” and some others from the songbook. The words were appropriate for the appearance day of such a great soul, for we who consider ourselves his disciples in parampara. “Gurudeva, I don’t have any strength. All I have is your mercy. I am so fallen. If you don’t accept me, then I will just leave and give up my life. Please accept me.” That much I read because I was feeling so unworthy, feeling too tired, wanting to rest my spine against the marble column, unable to sit cross-legged, but putting my knee up. When I read those words, “Gurudeva, I don’t have any credits. Please give me your mercy,” and then another line on a page next to it from Gopinatha, “Gopinatha, my mind is crazy and I don’t accept any authority,” I felt grateful to the Vaisnava poets for expressing my own mood so concisely as I think of my own spiritual master.
Therefore, with one-pointed attention, one should constantly hear about, glorify, remember and worship the Personality of Godhead, who is the protector of the devotees.
These are the primary devotional activities which all members of society must follow, regardless of their varna or asrama. This will make the Lord satisfied (samsiddhir hari-tosanam). When the Lord is satisfied, the living entities will also be satisfied. No one is an exception to this rule, and no one is barred from it. Prabhupada considers the devotional methods mentioned here—hearing, glorifying the Lord, etc.—and writes that they are natural even when misapplied to ordinary mortals. One either hears about, praises, and worships Krsna, or he hears about, praises, and worships a fallible, unqualified object of worship.
It reminds me of my own tendency to worship heroes, which I directed toward various persons during my childhood and adolescence. When I was very small, I looked up to my father. Later, I worshiped various members of the Brooklyn Dodgers. Even later, I worshiped famous rock ’n’ roll singers. In college, I transferred my praise to intellectuals and artists. The heroes changed because I outgrew them. I took their pictures down from my walls and replaced them with others. Those who seemed great later seemed foolish. Then I would make fun of them. They proved to me impermanent heroes or protectors. Neither could they give me happiness, even when I was at the height of their praises.
Srila Prabhupada points out how political or advertising propaganda creates the false impression that an ordinary person is wonderful. Such a person’s popularity surge lasts only a little while. Then people become tired of the hero and begin to see the glaring defects of his character. They then reject him at the election booth. When the hero is at his zenith, he appears to be the country’s savior, but history judges in the long run: who has done anything to alleviate the basic miseries of human existence?
Therefore, hearing, praising, remembering, and worshipping should be offered exclusively to the Supreme Personality of Godhead. Unfortunately, people have so little information about God that He’s just not tangible to them. The local politicians and superstars are more tangible than God. Or God is poorly represented by religious leaders and people simply reject Him as sentiment. This is a faithless age.
I am a student trained to speak Your glories and explain Your mysteries. I do it from memory and conviction. I truly believe in what I say about You. It has become solid fact for me by virtue of faith in guru, sastra and sadhu. I’m grateful You have brought me to this point. I am witness of Your truth. You are the supreme authority, and one who accepts You becomes wise. Your version is absolute.
I am not conversant with all the details of Your Vedic truth, but I know the basic conclusions. Krsnas tu bhagavan svayam: Krsna is the source of all the avataras. He is adi-purusam, the original enjoyer. He is sarva-karana-karanam, the cause of all causes. There is no truth superior to Him. These are the foundations of Bhagavad-gita, Srimad-Bhagavatam, Brahma-samhita and other Vaisnava scriptures, and I accept them.
Therefore You are the worshipable Deity of all the worlds. Those who do not accept You have imperfect knowledge. Please always keep my confidence in Your supremacy alive and well. I never want to doubt that Krsna is the Supreme Personality of Godhead.
I want to love You not out of fear of Your greatness but out of affection for Your dearness to all creatures, especially your devotees. In Srimad-Bhagavatam, You declare that You are in the hearts of Your devotees and that they are in Your heart. You have a special bond of affection for them. I also want to feel that bond of affection.
I want to increase it by writing to You and declaring that You are my Lord. You are my supreme protector. Whatever difficulty I find myself in, I know You are present and will give me aid. I just have to see how You are working in my case. Even if I am suffering, You are working on my side, doing something to purify me. You never abandon Your servant.
I speak to You to increase my intimacy. I hear of Your dealings with Your close associates, and I am awestruck. They overwhelm me with their selfless love, and You declare that You cannot pay them back for all they have given You. Srimati Radharani had captured You with Her all-attractive love. Thus, You are known as the lover of Radharani.
I hear all these things and want to improve my own devotional service. Please let this lowly person rise up and advance towards You. If you do not, his life is not worth living.
Eternal benefit can only be granted through the process of bhakti, or the activities of loving service to Krsna. Impersonal etemality cannot help any more than the benefits of temporary material happiness. Lord Krsna tells Arjuna in the Bhagavad-gita 2.12, “Never was there a time when I did not exist, nor you, nor all these kings; nor in the future shall any of us cease to be.” This proves that our individuality is never lost; after death we take another material body. Or if we are to enter eternal life, we also do so in our eternal individuality, as pure servants of the Personality of Godhead. The conception of an eternally liberated state where there is no individuality, no individual soul, and no Supreme Personality of Godhead is a hellish concoction by speculative Mayavadi philosophers and is not supported by direct Vedic sastra.
The truly magnanimous welfare worker must, therefore, transcend material meddling as well as concocted doctrines of etemality in an impersonal, godless condition. He must teach pure love of God. The eternal, individual soul’’s relationship of loving service to the Supreme Godhead is the universal principle in all religions. There are religious designations such as Christian, Moslem, or Hindu, but love of God is the essence, just as, for example, different styles of eating exist in India, America, and China, but the essence is the same—satisfaction of the palate, relief of hunger, and nutrition. But one may argue, “Yes, but my religion is the best.”
“The best religion?” The test is given in the Srimad-Bhagavatam: That religion is best which produces in its follower’s symptoms of pure love of God.
According to Snmad-Bhagavatam, pure love of God must be prosecuted without interruption or motivation; that alone will completely satisfy the self. Love of God is not the possession of a particular religious sect, but may be found wherever there are the symptoms of unmotivated, uninterrupted service to God. When pure love of God is operating, the devotee is not serving the Lord with a motive that God should give him “his daily bread;” or that in return for his worship God should send him to a heavenly planet. The pure devotee is motivated purely by the desire to please the Supreme Person, to whom he has become spontaneously attracted in ecstatic love.
The name Krsna describes the Supreme Person as “all attractive.” Therefore, when a devotee begins to realize God’s all-attractive name, fame, form, and activities, he gives up all other consideration for gain or safety and simply dedicates himself to serving the All-Attractive Person. Dhruva Maharaja was performing austerities to see God for obtaining a material boon; this is known as approaching God as the supreme order supplier. But when Dhruva saw the all-beautiful Supreme Person, he relinquished all other desires but that of surrendering himself to Krsna. Dhruva Maharaja said, “Now that I have seen You, I am completely satisfied.”
Japa cannot be compared to anything. You pray from the heart. Yet japa can be compared to championship golf. Sometimes you use the heavy driver, sometimes you use the iron, sometimes you use the putter, sometimes you make a birdie or an eagle, or you make a lot of bogies, or you make par. Sometimes you wind up in the water. Sometimes you wind up in a sand trap. Sometimes you do real well and move up in the competition. You play it carefully and measure your shots. You don’t have to wear special shoes or shirts. There are no hard and fast rules. You can even chant in your pajamas. The main thing is to keep trying sincerely and stay awake. This morning, I’ve been alert for eight rounds so far, and I’m hoping to keep it going. I’m chanting mostly sub-par in audibility. But I’m paying attention.
I love japa. It’s my favorite sport. But I’m not a champion. I’ve just an amateur. I’ve been working at it for a long time, and yet I remain an amateur. Sometimes I have to cry out, “Fore!” as my ball sails into the crowd. You wouldn’t expect that from me after all these years. But I keep trying. I honestly keep trying. Japa is the easiest form of spiritual meditation. Many people enter the competition, and many people improve over the years. They attend seminars. They go on japa retreats. They study books. They get down on their knees and pray. They get frustrated and throw down their club. It’s done on beads or clickers. You don’t use a caddy. You do it on your own. Japa, please let me perform you to the end of my days. Don’t let me break my legs or need surgery so that I have to lose a year of japa. I’m already chanting less because of my shoulder. I’ll get better, though. You’ll see me. I’ll get better. Japa is my favorite sport. Japa is my most serious mediation. Japa has been given to us by Caitanya Mahaprabhu, and Prabhupada says the order of the spiritual master to chant at least sixteen rounds daily is the most essential one. So I’m working at it. I pray to Krsna to bless me.
“If we ignore Vrndavana, which is flooded with the nectar of Radha’s lotus feet and filled with the bliss of love for Lord Hari’s feet, then what are the other things we will talk about?” (Vrndavana-mahimamrta, Sataka 4.85).
Well said, good friend and great sadhu, Prabodhananda Sarasvati. Why talk of other things? Why ever forget Vrndavana? Even the rolling choruses of bird calls and chirping and peacock’s “kee-gaw” are part of Vrndavana. And the trees dripping in the rain. Who can complain about dark morning monsoon clouds in Vrndavana? Not me. But the symptoms of inattentive japa mean I have a hard heart filled with unredeemed aparadhas. I say I live it. Others are worse than I am, I say. I look for encouragement in that fact and find it. Then I shake that off and turn to the sadhu:
“Srimati Radhika’s forest is the perfect atonement of sins, the ultimate shelter from offenses to great souls, the crest jewel of all principles of religion, and the crest jewel of all goals of life” (Vrndavana-mahimamrta, Sataka 4.88).
Note: it is Radhika’s forest, and that is what makes it so glorious. Just by living here … it doesn’t mean you can misbehave here, but you can admit, “I am helpless to overcome my bad habits in prayer. I feel no love. Please, I don’t like this condition.”
I sat in the darkness of my room. There was a little light from a high, barred window, but that light was really more of a lighter share of darkness. It was similar to my mental conception of a dungeon. From my mat on the floor, I chanted and heard the japa of my two devotee friends in the other part of the house.
Later, I paced on the rain-soaked roof in the Vrndavana quiet – tenth round, eleventh … where was my heart? Where was my feeling for Hare, Krsna and Rama? I ask why this has to be so.
I can articulate better in writing, so here, on this page, on behalf of my japa-sadhana, I ask the Lord of Vrndavana to please help me. You make all the arrangements in Vrndavana. I approach You through Your representatives, Vrnda-devi (who awards desires), Bhakti-devi and Yogamaya. You have already given us so much mercy on this visit – this house to live in, permission to study and write, time to chant in peace. But if we cannot use it to love You, then what use is it? Please give me a clue as to how to find the essence.
We were always thinking of you, Prabhupada,
although sometimes I was too ashamed
to even look at your picture.
But we wanted you to come back,
and you very kindly wrote
that you wanted to join us and give us typing tasks.
You gave us the feeling we were something worthy
and that when you came back
we could work along with you
in your mission.
In Calcutta you sized up the situation again:
India was not making spiritual progress
or even maintaining her original culture.
In the West you had already seen
100 percent rascaldom.
Krishna consciousness was the crucial need,
and only you could supply it.
As it was when you were in India
readying to come back,
so it is now.
All the world-wide devotees are your assistants,
and ISKCON, although growing,
is still at its beginning.
and still it is the only way
out of the dungeon of demons.
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.