Tomorrow, Saturday, April 8, we’re having our Zoom book production meeting. We expect that Krsna-bhajana, Satyasara dasi, Lal Krsna and Manohara (and Baladeva and myself) will show up on the Zoom. We have already mentioned in this Journal what books are expected to be ready for the early July 2023 meeting. Looking ahead for publication for the 2023 Vyasa-puja meeting in early December is the Nimai series. This series of books is out of print, and we’re happy to do a new printing of them. We will print a one-volume edition of the four books, and also available on Amazon will be the four books separately published. The books are Nimai Dasa and the Mouse, Nimai’s Detour, Gurudeva and Nimai, and Chota’s Way. They are some of the most requested out-of-print books that we have, so I’m sure the devotees will be happy with this new presentation, which contains all the original art. Newly added to the team are Bhakti-lata dasi (typing) and Tulasi-priya (typing). We welcome more volunteers because this is such a huge project, to get all my books back in print.
Prabhupadadeva, an active preacher in Guyana, visited Viraha Bhavan the other day. He spoke with Baladeva about the possibility of getting GN Press books for the devotees in Guyana, many of whom are my disciples, as well as books for distribution. Like many other yatras, Guyana is poor. But we are willing to give away books that are crowding the space in our book storage, with little hope of distribution in America. We need the space for all the new books that are being published. We are willing to give the books away free if the yatras will pick them up and ship them back to their own place somehow or other. Offhand, the titles that are available are Prabhupada Nectar, ISKCON in the 1970s, Write and Die, Vaisnava Behavior, Passing Places, Eternal Truths, and some others that they will find during an inventory next week.
Tomorrow is Easter Sunday. It’s the day of the resurrection of Christ. Prabhupada told us that Christ didn’t die on the cross. He came down, and according to reports, he went to India for a while. We don’t accurately know the history of Christ’s ascension and going to India. But Prabhupada told us that Jesus was the son of God, and that his only “fault” was that he taught love of God. But the asuras killed him for that. He taught his disciples to respect Jesus Christ and said there was no argument between Christ and Krsna consciousness. Just a matter of details. But he firmly argued against the Christian priests and bishops he met in Europe and other places, holding them to the point that Jesus taught, “Thou shalt not kill,” and yet the Christians were supporting slaughterhouses in thousands of places. He said they were disobeying Christ, and they were hypocritical. He couldn’t change the priests’ minds, but he stuck to his point.
Today we had our book team meeting, with devotees from around the world getting together on Zoom. There was even Nitai from India presenting his point of view and what he’s doing in India. He’s very ambitious to print books there. The book team is getting so expert that they’ll finish producing so many books for the Summer Meeting and the Vyasa-puja meeting, that I won’t be able to present them all personally. They will be available on the book table, and when those books are sold, the titles will be available on Amazon. (It seems like in the future, most of my books will be on Kindle also, for those who prefer that way of reading.) Available at Vyasa-puja time will be a boxed set of nine books from the 1996 Srila Prabhupada Centennial Writings. These were “timed books” I did throughout the year, as a way to make an offering to Srila Prabhupada. No one has even seen these books. They haven’t been in print, etc.
It’s a quiet Easter Sunday, yet there’s a lot going on. The sun is shining, it’s 50° F (10° C), the grass is getting greener, the birds are singing more and looking for mates. Some birds are already building nests. The neighbors are getting ready to rototill Bala’s memorial garden. They have a fond memory of our “Hare Krsna Bala,” and they want to keep his garden growing.
Vidvan from Queens celebrated his birthday at home. Many devotees came from the Brooklyn temple for kirtana. It was a very enthusiastic kirtana and lasted a long time. Krsna dasi and her sister Savitri were away a day and a half attending the celebration. Each one who attended was given a cupcake. This was a special occasion, but householders are supposed to get together every day for kirtana, sharing prasadam, and talking about Krsna. Fortunately, Krsna dasi got a ride from Kim (Bala’s cousin) and her husband, Dave, who didn’t want Krsna dasi to come back on the train alone, which Krsna dasi was willing to do just to go to the party.
An unknown devotee arrived yesterday, seeking to do service at Viraha Bhavan. He is a disciple of Tamal Krishna Goswami and has a lot of association with gurus and swamis. He’s been spending a lot of time on harinama and book distribution, but now, at age 54, he’s still a brahmacari, and he wants to settle down, be more peaceful, and read Prabhupada’s books. My disciple Yadunandana Swami recommended that he come here. I met with him for an hour today. My impression is that he’s a real sweet devotee. His guru told him about me, and he’s read some of my books. He wants to read more. He is happy to do any menial service, including cooking and cleaning. These are exactly the things we are always short of and don’t have covered. He is too new to know how long a commitment he will make here. But it seems like a good match.
Krsna dasi changed Radha-Govinda into new outfits today. She does it every three days. The new outfit is a yellowish color, with green and pink embroidery. Today’s outfit looks good with the new background that Uddhava made for us when he was here. If you want to see a picture of Radha-Govinda each time They change Their outfits, get on the Facebook list (write to Krsna dasi, [email protected]).
Purusa sent me a dream he had regarding my pneumonia. It goes like this:
After finishing his morning Srimad-Bhagavatam reading with disciples and other associates, the beloved spiritual master retired to his room for his daily nap. With Krsna’s childhood pastimes still fresh in his mind, he very quickly fell into a deep sleep.
Flying through the sky on a celestial chariot shining with gold, precious gems, and ornamented with flags of victory, the spiritual master soon arrived in a great assembly, which was surrounded on all sides by various hills and mountains. Suddenly, a voice booming with the volume of nearby thunder exclaimed, “So finally you have arrived. I have been waiting.” The spiritual master could immediately ascertain he was now facing his very strong and persistent nemesis, the evil and determined pneumonia. Without delay, a brilliant burst of energy shone forth so bright it was not possible for the spiritual master to keep his eyes open. When he was again able, he opened his eyes to an astonishing scene: With the form of the vanquished pneumonia lying below, a transcendental figure more beautiful than anything before seen floated mystically in the sky, head bowed with folded hands. And a voice very mild and pleasing spoke thus: ‘Due to a serious misdeed, I was cursed to give trouble to a devotee of Lord Krsna. Now you have finally freed me of this curse, and now, in my original spiritual body, I am able to go back home, back to Godhead. By the mercy of Lord Krsna, you are always protected by narayana-jvara, His invincible weapon.’ Boarding on a vehicle supplied by the associates of Lord Visnu, and being showered with flowers in the midst of jubilant music and sounds, this newly-liberated personality, departed for Vaikuntha.
With these amazing and auspicious events flooding his consciousness, the spiritual master sprang up from bed feeling very much awake and unusually energetic in his limbs and voice. ‘Narayana-kavaca has saved me,’ he exclaimed to his very surprised personal servant, who had rushed in after hearing a bit of commotion from the next room. The servant was always protective like a loving son. He chided his spiritual father, ‘Guru Maharaja! Your doctor has ordered rest and recovery. Why are you being so active suddenly?’ Guru Maharaja then explained to his disciple the events of his ‘dream’ in detail.
The spiritual master, from that point, became free of all the symptoms which had been plaguing him, limiting his service to guru and Krsna and unlimited loving exchanges with disciples and friends. He was now so energized that his output of writing (his favorite service) began blossoming in new and wonderful ways. All limitations slipped away as this exciting inspiration brought immediate fruit in all aspects of bhakti-yoga and pure love of Lord Sri Krsna. The fortunate servant of his Guru Maharaja could only sigh, understanding his great fortune: ‘What a story I have to share with my Godbrothers and Godsisters!’
If they’ll even believe it. Maybe after they see how much our Guru Maharaja is enthused and reinvigorated.
(Freewrite while waiting for our afternoon reading.)
Your eternal servant and son,
The first time that I assisted Srila Prabhupada in the kitchen was in New York on the occasion of my sister’s wedding. Srila Prabhupada cooked in his apartment in a small galley kitchen, with counters on both sides. He gave me the singular task of making a very difficult preparation called aloo kachori. It’s one of the most complex pastries to cook properly because it has to cook for a long time without becoming greasy, which is almost impossible. For nearly eight hours I made aloo kachoris while Srila Prabhupada singlehandedly cooked a fourteen-course wedding feast in his small kitchen.
In the course of cooking for that feast, I made many mistakes. It was my very first day, and the first mistake I made was to wear a short skirt and a little tee shirt. Sitting cross-legged, I said, ‘Swamiji, may I have a cigarette?’ He popped his head out of the corner and said, ‘Go wash your hands.’ I washed my hands. Then he explained four prohibitions in Krsna consciousness: No meat-eating, no gambling, no illicit sex life and no intoxicants. A short time later I said, ‘Swamiji, may I have a glass of water?’ He said, ‘Go wash your hands.’ Then he explained that the first and foremost principle in cooking was to engage your senses in the service of the Lord. He said that we should cook for Krsna with love and devotion and not think about our senses, our tongue, our sense of smell, or our belly, because we were cooking for Krsna’s pleasure. A short time later I said, ‘Swamiji, it’s very hot in here.’ I was fighting perspiration. ‘Go wash your hands.’ In this way he introduced me to the simple, most rudimentary principle of external cleanliness. He also explained the simple touch of internal cleanliness and said, ‘We can serve Krsna through the art of cooking when we are externally and internally clean.’
Tamal Krishna was in charge of a traveling sankirtana party, and he was a much more effective leader and manager than I was. I was the temple president of what had been a small Los Angeles temple. But, with Tamal’s presence, it became a much larger entity, with many more brahmacaris and brahmacarinis. Besides being temple president, I was also working all day. So Tamal went to Srila Prabhupada for clarification. He asked, ‘What’s my position, and what’s the position of Dayananda, the temple president?’ Prabhupada answered, ‘Dayananda remains the temple president.’ Then Prabhupada suggested we have elections, and he personally nominated some people for different posts. He nominated me for temple president, Tamal Krishna for secretary, Jayananda for vice-president, and Silavati for head pujari—I don’t know if head pujari was an elected position. Prabhupada also nominated Virabhadra for temple commander. The devotees voted for everyone Prabhupada nominated, except that we didn’t want Virabhadra as the temple commander because he was only twelve years old. So we nominated and elected Visnujana as the temple commander instead. Madhudvisa was the treasurer, nominated by Prabhupada and elected by us.
When Tamal became the secretary, there was a question, ‘What does the secretary do?’ Prabhupada said, ‘The secretary is the person who deals directly with the spiritual master.’ It was a pre-definition of the GBC Secretary. Later on I realized that Prabhupada was incredibly skilled in the way he managed the whole situation. The temple was in a major transition, and yet I remained the president. I’ve thought about it a lot since then, and I’ve seen that sometimes the temple president is not very effective, and another guy comes in who’s a lot more effective. One idea is, ‘Let’s get rid of this old one and put in the new one.’ But the way Prabhupada did it was so skillful—he created a new position and kept the temple president so that there was consistency in the management.’”
I am controlling my eating, taking smaller portions and eating less. Krsna dasi assured me that I should eat whatever I liked and not think I was compelled to eat all the prasadam that was put on my plate. I mostly take only the khichri or dal and don’t eat the other sabjis they put on my plate. I now weigh 164 pounds. Two years ago I used to weigh 191. After my bout with pneumonia, the doctor told me not to take merely water with my lunch meal. (That was my usual custom.) He told me to eat a thick liquid, like a shake. I find this delicious. I hope it’s not sense gratification. I feel better this way with this new program. It’s also easier for Baladeva to pick me up now.
Today in our out-loud reading group, we came upon verse 26 of the Ninth Chapter, “The Most Confidential Knowledge.”
“If one offers Me with love and devotion a leaf, a flower, a fruit or water, I will accept it.”
In the purport, Prabhupada writes,
If one wishes to engage in devotional service, one should find out what the Lord desires of Him . . . Thus meat, fish and eggs should not be offered to Krsna. If He desires such things as offerings, He would have said so. Instead, He clearly requests that a leaf, fruit, flower and water be given to Him, and He says of this offering, “I will accept it.” Therefore, we should understand that He will not accept meat, fish or eggs. Vegetables, grains, fruit, milk and water are the proper food for human beings and are prescribed by Lord Krsna Himself.
Earlier in the Bhagavad-gita Krsna says that those who do not make an offering of their food are eating only sin. Prabhupada writes,
Above all, the offering should be made with an attitude of love. Krsna has no need of food, since He already possesses everything that be, yet He will accept the offering of one who wants to please Him in that way. The important element, in preparation, in serving, and in offering is to act with love for Krsna.
Atindra has left, and Vicaru is on his own. Atindra trained him up well, and he pretty much knows all the servant duties, except he’s a little hesitant on some of them. I’m a little hesitant with him too. For example, today I got to the bathroom by myself and didn’t ask him to wait until I was finished and then help me dress. My balance is so poor that I cannot do it by myself. I think I may have shown him once in Atindra’s presence. But I didn’t trust him, so I didn’t ask him to do it, and I went in by myself. But when I couldn’t dress properly, it was a little crisis. I decided to ring the emergency bell. Upstairs first came Baladeva, with Vicaru behind him, and Atindra at the bottom of the stairs. Baladeva told Vicaru that he would take care of it, and he did. But I was embarrassed and thought I should have asked Vicaru to do it in the first place because he had already done it once under Atindra’s direction. So the next time I have to do this I’ll ask Vicaru to do it. On the whole, he’s doing excellent service. He was well-trained up by his Guru Maharaja, Tamal Krishna Goswami. I think Goswami must have loved his humble service attitude. He served several sannyasis at a time at TKG’s house in Cambridge, England. Here is an intense pace, but he was working in Cambridge with TKG and the sannyasis at a much more intense and pressured pace. He’s looking forward to things settling down here, getting into a routine, and having time to read.
I am writing this letter to you, Srila Prabhupada, after the Radhastami celebrations. Radhastami is special for the devotees and Vrndavana is the most special place to observe it. I have a personal attachment to Radhastami because it was the day you awarded me harinama initiation in September, 1966. Thank you, Prabhupada.
I’m in a different place now, moving toward the end of my life in this body. I was a young, foolish boy at my initiation, not at all prepared for the grave responsibility of lifetime vows. You gave me your mercy anyway and allowed me to chant your pranama mantra. You chanted it first and I repeated it line by line: nama om visnu-padaya krsna presthaya bhu-tale . . . You also gave me my red beads after you had chanted on them in your room at 26 Second Avenue.
That night I was your simple disciple. I admitted that I knew nothing and was solely dependent on you. Now I pray to always stay in that mood. Srila Prabhupada, I don’t know anything and I am still solely dependent on you. You are my eternal spiritual master.
When Steve Kowit, my atheist college buddy, read my introduction to Nimai dasa and the Mouse, he said, “I see you are trying something that is very difficult, to be true to yourself and at the same time true to the teachings of Krsna consciousness.” He seemed to think it was impossible. I also recall Raya Rama dasa saying how he and Hayagriva had “intellectual honesty.” Therefore they were willing to defy Vedic truths if they didn’t mesh with their own intellects. Today I heard Prajapati dasa say to Prabhupada on tape, “For the last 150 years, theologians have had a great problem in reconciling faith with reason . . . They want to believe, but can’t reach God by reason.” Prabhupada proceeded to give examples how God is a reasonable truth. He said we have a relationship with everything, for example, with the road we walk on. Since we have a relationship with everything in the world, why not with God who created it? The devotees on the walk persisted in giving agnostic challenges. Karandhara said, “They want God to be proved to the senses. Otherwise they think the devotees are fantasizing.” At first Srila Prabhupada replied by saying that devotional service is verified by the senses, because we walk to the temple, smell incense, see the Deity form, eat prasadam, but Karandhara said when a devotee offers food to Krsna, he believes on faith that Krsna takes the food. We don’t see Krsna doing it. Srila Prabhupada replied, “You do not see, but I see. You are blind, and I am not so foolish. So you have to come to me in order to see. You have a cataract on your eyes and I shall remove it.”
It was a wonderful thing to hear. I was on this particular walk on Venice Beach twenty years ago. I remember when Srila Prabhupada said that: “You can’t see, but I can see.” I remember how I felt subdued and convinced by his words. The so-called gap between faith and reason was closed by his assertion of his own seeing Krsna. The atheist can’t follow. Leave them behind. We want to follow.
I want to always keep these feelings with me. I don’t want to forget that my spiritual master convinced me again and again. If I allow the feeling to slip away, how will I follow only dogma or ISKCON policy? My following is based on remembering the pure devotee, Srila Prabhupada. It’s also based on my cultivating my relationship with him not only in my memory, but now, in the present.
There is nothing nicer than Krsna consciousness. Yes, I believe it. Yet I am afraid of so many things. There is fear, then envy. When you have envy, then anarthas and aparadhas appear. Aparadhas are worse. It is impossible to stop being angry, but it can be used in devotional service. But Vaisnava aparadha has to be stopped. It is never harmless.
My eyes see someone as funny-looking, as proud and foolish, as stupid, or for no reason at all, I may tend to dislike a devotee. What to speak of nondevotees. Where is the vision that everyone is the residence of Supersoul?
It’s my faultfinding nature, but it’s not me. I will think instead of Krsna consciousness and my desires to serve Srila Prabhupada.
I chanted in the hallway, sitting on a high stool, timing the rounds. There’s no point in complaining, “I don’t think of Krsna’s pastimes.” I work on staying awake and trying to hear, trying to pray in the most basic way, please let me chant with devotion to harer nama. It’s not an interjected word formula, but a desire manifest in concentrated thought—a call for help.
You have to do it again each time you pick up your beads. In a similar way, I bow down and recite the Pancatattva mantra before each round. I have to offer my free will each time I do it. The mind will always say, “You don’t have to actually get down on the floor. Just say the mantra. That’s just as good.” Then I remember Raghunatha dasa Gosvami who bowed down in “scheduled measurement.” He became so weak that once he bowed down, he couldn’t get up again, but still he bowed down.
When I offer obeisances, I feel something genuine. And then to actually ask the Supreme Persons, Lord Caitanya and Lord Nityananda and Advaita Acarya for help in chanting—these are real moments in japa.
This hallway is stark. It has an old, cheap carpet in it—a brownish-orange color that somehow makes me think of the word “vomit” to describe it. There are no pictures or furniture. Just our shoes at the front entrance and sunshine through the opaque, colored glass of the front door. It’s cold, but it’s a good place to chant. It’s less charming than outdoors. I am left to face the void in my heart and chant rounds one after another. After lunch, I’ll go there again and walk and sit on the high stool and bow down and exert my energy in prayer.
Why do I write? I write because there is sweat on my upper lip. I write because I came here to do it. I write because I learned how to do it in college. It is a way I have chosen. If I don’t write, I won’t collect pages.
I write because there is an old woman in a faded sari slowly walking across the field and I want to tell you about it. I write to chase blues, to race ahead of my agitated mind and not dwell on material desire. I write to chase the flies. I write because Prabhupada told me to.
I write because we came to Vrndavana and I am always saying this is the best place to write. There is a bamboo-supported tent up here to protect me from the sun just so I can write.
I write because we have typists and Baladeva and Madhu and everybody, even my high school English teacher, and the dictionary—and what would I do if I didn’t write?
I write to join the elite order of eternal Vaisnavas. I write in hopes that Krsna will say, “All right, give him some mercy. Let his writing improve and be filled with sweetness.” I write to explain myself and to do honest work. I write to serve readers. I write to do something crucial during the crucial hours of the day. When I don’t write, I think, “That time could have been spent writing.”
I write to use precious health and life duration. After I die, something will be left behind. They will say, “He wrote many books like Bhaktivinoda Thakura. Not like Bhaktivinoda Thakura, but for ordinary strugglers like himself.”
Here comes Baladeva on a rickshaw. He has a red gamcha on his head. The small walla is pedaling the heavyset sadhu in white cloth. Baladeva bought me some India ink— which is why I write. I write also to tell you that last night, after I attended a class, the pujari handed me some of Radha-Syama’s flowers. I put them in a reticule. Yesterday was Baladeva Jayanti.
I pray to Balarama and the guru parampara—I treasure those yellow daisy petals with the brown whorl that I received. It’s worth writing down.
I am foolish. I write in hopes of getting beyond foolishness. It doesn’t matter that I am a fool; I write and connect with Krsna consciousness. Anyone can write, and if he lives a sadhaka’s life, he can give the most valuable thing.
The old science of bhakti-yoga is in new dress. It is present in all countries of the world. This brings to mind the “Motto” printed in Srila Prabhupada’s first Bhagavatam volume from India:
“It is admitted even in higher circles that in fact, the whole root and background of Indian culture is wrapped in Sanskrit language. And we know that the foreign invaders of India could break down some of the monumental architectural work in India, but they were unable to break up the perfect ideals of human civilization so far kept hidden with the Sanskrit language of Vedic wisdom.”
Srimad-Bhagavatam is the mature, ripened fruit of the tree of Vedic literature. We have just begun to give it rendered into English with broader outlook and it is the duty of the leading Indians to spread the culture all over the world at this momentous hour of need.
The invaders could not break up the Sanskrit wisdom, but neither did the acaryas distribute it with the broader outlook. It stayed in India because the acaryas were saving the work of distributing it worldwide for someone to do at the right time. Once a disciple asked Srila Prabhupada why Bhaktivinoda Thakura didn’t spread Krsna consciousness outside India. Prabhupada replied that Bhaktivinoda Thakura could have done it because he was an empowered Vaisnava, but he saved it for “us.” Let us therefore accept and praise the one who was sent by the previous acaryas. Let us welcome and embrace the Vedic knowledge he brings.
Not everyone accepts Krsna consciousness. So what? Should we wait until it becomes more fashionable and “normal” and then hear and preach? We may die and be reborn many times before that happens. It doesn’t matter that we were not born into this religion. Shall we wait for that? Better not—because I am more likely to be born into an animal species with no religion at all.
Prabhupada Meditations is an attempt to follow in the line of disciplic succession by remembering the activities and teachings of His Divine Grace A.C. Bhaktivedanta Swami Prabhupada, the founder-acarya of the International Society for Krsna Consciousness. As Prabhupada has written, “A disciple should always meditate on the order of the spiritual master and that is perfectional meditation.” Of course, one can best learn from Srila Prabhupada by reading his many books, which direct us in a pleasing and authoritative way to render devotional service to the Supreme Personality of Godhead, Lord Krsna. This offering of personal memories and reflections, delivered in Vaisnava parampara, is just a small part of the remembrance of Srila Prabhupada that is being carried on by all his followers through their daily service and meditation.
There will be many faults in my attempt to go on talking of Srila Prabhupada from my own angle of vision. I do it primarily for personal purification. Krsnadasa Kaviraja states, “Whether I know or know not, it is for self-purification that I write this book.” (Cc Adi 9.5) And Srila Prabhupada comments, “One should write transcendental literature to purify oneself, not for credit.”
I am encouraged in this endeavor by Prabhupada’s words to his disciples: “Be engaged in glorifying the parampara system and your life will be glorified automatically thousands of times.” I am also encouraged when I think of Lord Krsna’s words to Sudama: “My dear friend, you may remember that many such incidents occurred while we were in the asrama of our spiritual master. Both of us can realize that without the blessings of the spiritual master no one can be happy. By the mercy of the spiritual master and by his blessings, one can achieve peace and prosperity and be able to fulfill the mission of human life.” (Krsna, Ch. 79, p. 684)
Prabhupada is a person. Like anyone, he liked his prasadam in a certain way and expressed his preferences about various things. We may wonder, are Prabhupada’s preferences absolute? Does his expression of personal preferences make him a relative person?
The first time I encountered this question was in 1966. The devotees were taking lunch prasadam with Srila Prabhupada one day when a young, rather unsubmissive man came into the Swami’s apartment for lunch. I remember that Prabhupada was sprinkling hot sauce on his meal. This young man asked Prabhupada why he was eating this sauce. He replied that he liked it.
The young man became doubtful when Prabhupada said that. He said something to this effect: “You use hot sauce just because you like it? You mean there’s no special spiritual significance?” The young man looked around at us as if to show that he had caught Srila Prabhupada in some relative position or as if he had defeated him in a debate. I remember thinking that this man’s attitude was ridiculous and offensive, but I also saw the point he was trying to make. The pure devotee gives us so many details about Krsna and the process of devotional service. He tells us what Krsna likes to eat, and what He doesn’t like to eat; he tells us how to behave under all circumstances and how to think. The pure devotee spiritual master represents Krsna absolutely. Therefore, don’t we have a right to look into the pure devotee’s life and demand that everything be governed completely by Krsna’s indications? If we can detect in his life any personal preference for doing something just because “I like it,” is that a defect in the pure devotee?
But the pure devotee is a person. Like any person, he will have personal preferences. What we notice if we minutely examine the life of a pure devotee is that all of his preferences are favorable to devotional service. They are each individual expressions of his meditation on and service to Krsna. This may not always be comprehensible when we examine the pure devotee without the requisite faith. There are nine principles of devotional service. If a devotee chooses mainly to hear about Krsna or only to chant, we cannot accuse him of whimsical behavior. There are also five primary rasas. A devotee in the liberated state serves Krsna in a particular way according to his realization of his relationship with Krsna. Rather than consider this fact whimsical, we should understand that these preferences are the perfection of devotional development.
Is Prabhupada’s sprinkling of hot sauce on his meal in this category? Who can know Prabhupada’s inner meditation when he sprinkled that sauce? Also, Vaisnavas are not extreme tyagis. They do not have to prove their devotion by sprinkling ashes on their food or not eating at all. They accept Krsna’s mercy in the form of prasadam. What is the harm if they add seasonings to their food? Prabhupada himself ate very simply. He was elderly and ate things that stimulated his digestion.
Prabhupada writes that an offering made in the mind is as good as one made of gross matter. I thought this may have bearing on my writing, but I couldn’t quite figure out how – the fact that we can meditate only to a certain point and then can’t do it anymore. That was something I was experiencing myself. I’ve been building my A Poor Man Reads road of unusual commentary, and it’s been sailing along quickly, happily, and confidently. Suddenly I can’t do more. Does it mean Krsna doesn’t want me to do more? What does He want me to do instead? I felt sincerely that I wanted to do what He wanted of me, or at least I recognized that I had to be prepared for that. Everything is practice to free us to carry out Krsna’s will.
An older man and his son came to the door, ready to fix the typewriter. I went with them to look at the typewriter. I thought it would be a simple matter of replacing one cartridge apart with a screwdriver. Then the younger man unwound much of the tape, thew it away, and got the remainder going again. They were about to leave, but I said, “What happens when this tape, which is now partly used, runs out?” Only the old man spoke English. He said he would be bringing me a new cartridge, and then I can just snap it in. I thanked him, smiling, and they left.
The good result of all this is that I now feel more inclined to write the book. I don’t know exactly how I broke free of my earlier questioning. I think it happened when, after these gentlemen left, I sat down and started proofreading some recent pages. Even before I read them, however, I was prepared to get into it and carry on my work. I felt something had broken through, and it was all right to go forward.
Please don’t take this little life’s description of a Sunday afternoon as not connected to the Srimad Bhagavatam writing. I certainly can’t see it as not connected because unless I overcame this block, I would not have been able to write another line. This is a description of how I overcame it, how it happened.
I pray for all the devotees who are suffering terminal illness and are near death’s door. May they make auspicious departures and go back to Godhead. Or as You desire, may they recover and serve many more years in devotional service. The devotees are the most valuable persons on earth, and when they leave it is a loss to the planet. Inevitably, the older devotees must eventually pass away. I pray that by the devotees’ preaching, a new generation of bhaktas will join in countries around the world, so that the numbers of the Hare Krsna movement will increase. We need many devotees to fulfill Prabhupada’s mission for a worldwide movement that can tend to the needs of the conditioned souls in Kali-yuga.
Prabhupada used to say that a sincere devotee was like the moon and much more valuable in illuminating power than many stars. All the world needs is a few big moons. Compared to them, what is the value of many insignificant stars? But if we can have many moons than the whole atmosphere of this yuga’s darkness could be changed. The devotees owe it to themselves and to their spiritual master, to become moonlike and to create an auspicious gathering of influential lights. On the one hand, we should always know that we are tiny, “Lower than a blade of grass.” And so we should not aspire to become “a big light.” But Prabhupada said he wanted many moons. So what to do? How to think?
We should come before You and surrender ourselves. On arriving in America in 1965, Prabhupada compared himself to a puppet in Your hands and said, “Please let me dance! Please let me dance!” He wanted to serve You and do something wonderful for your pleasure. As his followers we can also pray, “Please make me a moon!”
In Vedic culture, a person who renounces material life to dedicate himself body, mind and words to the service of the Absolute Truth is known as a sannyasi. But if a person adopts the saffron colored dress of a sannyasi merely to solve his economic problems, and with no qualifications of renunciation, celibacy, or knowledge, he is a misleader. Many centuries ago, while fighting with a rival, King Indra posed himself as a sannyasi in order to gain an advantage. Ever since the time of Indra’s foolish introduction of this pose, cheating sannyasis and yogis have flourished.
The epidemic of bogus gurus, swamis, priests, and so forth, is a great hindrance for those who are sincerely trying to prosecute religious principles. In traditional Vedic culture, a householder would always receive any person dressed in saffron, give him food and lodging, and inquire from him about the truth. But now one suspects that the saffron-dressed visitor may be a parasite living at the cost of society without making any contribution. An example of truly renounced sannyasis were the Six Gosvamis of Vrndavana.
Aside from the mendicants, the other social orders also engage in cheating. In the Mahabharata, the whole conflict between the Kurus and the Partdavas came about because of cheating. Maharaja Yudhisthira was the rightful heir to his father’s kingdom, but just to favor his own sons, headed by Duryodhana, Dhrtarastra adopted various unfair means to cheat his nephews of their rightful share of the kingdom. Dhrtarastra was blind from birth, but his blindness in committing impious activities was a greater blindness than his physical lack of eyesight. The king engaged in many lying intrigues and he attempted to kill the Pandavas. He also insulted or plotted against anyone who tried to give him good advice. This kind of court or political intrigue has continued in each and every kingdom and administration throughout the world because of the inevitable tendency to cheat and gain power.
During japa this morning, I stopped between rounds and read a verse of Manah-siksa and then later, tried a verse from Vrndavana-mahimamrta. I was afraid that this would take too long and delay me in making the quota, but it needn’t turn into a long reading session. It requires prayerful reading, that technique of reading a small amount and concentrating on it in prayer.
So I beseech the mind to cooperate as an aspiring devotee, and then I will sprinkle it with drops of vraja-bhava, direct from those who are drowning in it. Here mind, hear this:
“Within the boundary of Vrndavana forest, O friend, please worship this dark ocean of transcendental nectar which has many playful, glistening waves of eternally expanding amorous pastimes, that is the home of the splendid transcendental fish of Srimati Radharani’s heart and mind, that rises with the rising of the moon that is Radhararani’s face, that is churned by the wonderful Mandara Moun-tain of transcendental passion for Radharani, and that brings nectar to the eyes of all the gopis” (Sri Vrndavana-mahimamrta, Sataka 2, text 2).
Also, yesterday I was impressed when I read a stanza of Bhaktivinoda Thakura’s poem, ‘Siksastakam,’ which is based on Sri Caitanya Mahaprabhu’s Siksastakam. Writing on the trnad api theme, Bhaktivinoda Thakura elaborates on the virtues of feeling unworthy, and on being forgiving and nonviolent toward all creatures. By his grace, I was able to see more clearly Lord Caitanya’s request to chant in a humble state of mind. Lord Caitanya meant that our whole approach to life and our dedication to singing the glories of the Lord has to be framed by this verse: trnad api sunicena taror api sahisnuna/ amanina manadena kirtaniyah sada harih.
“In the course of your life, you should never give anxiety to others, but rather do good to them and forget about your own happiness.
Always knowing that Lord Krsna resides within all living creatures, one should, with great respect, show honor to all living beings at all times.
Weeping, Bhaktivinoda submits his prayer at the lotus feet of the Lord: ‘Lord, when will you give me possession of such qualities as these?’” (Gitavali, “Siksastakam,” Song 3, verses 4, 6, and 8, p. 135).
The merciful Lord, a great ocean of rasa for all people, pulled from the border of his cloth some prasādam and held it in His lotus hand.
Offering the prasādam in His hands, like a desire tree holding powerful medicine, He said, “After performing your nitya-kriyas, please eat this.” Then He gave Sārvabhauma the prasādam.
Standing up, Sārvabhauma quickly took the mahā-prasādam in his hand with great desire. “If one delays on receiving prasādam, what use is all one’s acquired knowledge?”
Saying this, Sārvabhauma put the prasādam in his mouth, while his hairs stood on end. The tender-hearted Lord with great joy embraced him in His arms and became blissful.
Both breathed heavily, cried, and perspired while their hairs stood on end. The Lord and Sārvabhauma were satisfied, with hearts inundated in the ocean of bliss.
With eyes lost amidst flowing tears, with bodies lost in the hairs standing on end, they experienced extreme paralysis, because of bathing in the river of prema.
In this way the Lord controlled the best of brāhmaṇas by the rasa of His extreme mercy. Sārvabhauma’s heart became completely filled with the rasa of His mercy.
His great pride vanquished, from that time onward, Sārvabhauma was attracted by his body, mind and words to the lotus feet of the most merciful Gauraṅga.
In this way, on another day, the best of brāhmaṇas, devoid of pride in his knowledge and with a peaceful mind, went to see the most merciful Lord after the incense offering.
Sārvabhauma, who shone as the chief person in the whole world, a great soul, on seeing the Lord, offered respects and recited verses of praise. In fear, folding his hands, he then spoke.
“O Lord! Please explain to me this one verse. I am afraid to speak about it. I have explained it, but I no longer have faith in that explanation.”
Saying this, he then recited two lines in bliss from the Eleventh Canto of Bhāgavatam. Hearing the verse, the most merciful Lord explained the verse having a most difficult meaning.
Hearing nine meanings of the first line and nine meanings of the second line, totally eighteen meanings, the brāhmaṇa was overjoyed.
Overjoyed, the great soul praised him and intensely criticized himself. “I am a fool, a human animal. I could not understand your power, O Lord!”
Profusely praising the Lord, taking a follower of the Lord with him, he went home and there wrote a flawless verse as a letter.
He gave mahā-prasādam which had not been seen by others to the follower, for the Lord’s meal. With joy he sent the follower back, telling him to deliver the letter.
Mukunda Datta, seeing the letter, read it and wrote the two verses on the wall. He gave the letter to the Lord. The Lord, seeing the letter, carefully read it.
“I surrender to the one eternal person, appearing in the body of Śrī Kṛṣṇa Caitanya, the ocean of mercy, to teach renunciation, knowledge and devotion to the Lord.
Kṛṣṇa Caitanya has appeared in the world to reveal bhakti-yoga, which had been destroyed for a long time. May the bee of my heart deeply enter the lotus of His feet!”
Spending eighteen days there, Mahāprabhu saw Jagannātha in great joy and, bewildering the devotees with separation, prepared to leave.
After seeing the great Lord Jagannātha, Mahāprabhu, effulgent as gold nectar, took His permission and departed for the south in joy.
Sārvabhauma, seeing the Lord depart, in lamentation spoke pitifully. “O Lord! Why are you leaving so quickly, making me burn in great sorrow?
“O Lord! Why do I not lament for a son? Why do I not give up my body? Having seen your lotus feet, I cannot tolerate separation from you.
“Where are you going? By which path are you going? How can you endure the difficulties on the road? O merciful Lord! If you go, then travel by the bank of the Godāvarī River.
“At that place lives one great soul, a mad bee at the lotus feet of Kṛṣṇa, named Rāmānanda, the son of Bhāvānanda. Do not reject him as a materialist.”
Agreeing to this proposal, the merciful Lord first went to Kūrma-kṣetra in bliss and offered respects to the deity. Showing bhakti to Himself was His mercy.
After gazing at the deity, His own avatāra, for a long time, the expert, grateful Lord offered respects again, and acting as a śikṣā-guru, performed His midday rituals with respect.
At Kūrma-kṣetra, a great soul, who was very intelligent, named Kūrma, born in a brāhmaṇa family, seeing the Lord, offered repeated respects and in fear spoke sweet words.
“Today my birth has become successful. Today everything has become successful, since my house has obtained the dust of your two lotus feet.”
The best of brāhmaṇas, Kūrma, who had accrued abundant pious results, holding the Lord’s feet, brought Him into his house and washed His feet with water.
The merciful Lord was satisfied with his actions and ate at his auspicious house. He then departed.
One brāhmaṇa named Vāsudeva heard that Mahāprabhu was going south from Jagannātha Puri and approached to him suddenly.
In great pain because of white leprosy on his limbs, the great soul came to Kūrma’s house.
Coming there, Vāsudeva asked Kūrma about Mahāprabhu. Kūrma told him everything concerning the abode of mercy.
“The Lord had stayed there and taken food. He gave mercy to me. If you go quickly you can see the Lord.”
Hearing this, Vāsudeva went outside in confusion and, fainting, fell on the ground. Understanding this, the Lord returned.
Coming there, the Lord embraced the brāhmaṇa in His arms and released him from illusion along with his leprosy. Receiving a conscious, attractive body, he offered respects to the Lord in joy and lamentation.
“Who am I? A sinful, poor friend of a brāhmaṇa. And who is Kṛṣṇa? The Supreme Lord, full in six powers. Nonetheless, He has embraced me with His two arms.” SB 10.81.16
Moving like an intoxicated elephant, with most graceful gestures, with attractive, full arms, flooding the earth with streams of nectar flowing from His toenails, the Lord travelled.
“O Rāma! O Rāghava. Please protect me! O Kṛṣṇa! O Keśava! Please deliver me!”
Seeing the middle of the forest endowed with creepers embraced by the wind from the cool huge, waves of the Godāvarī River, the Lord felt bliss.
Some places in the forest were devoid of birds’ chirping and some places echoed with their loud cries. Some places of the forest were agitated by the fiery breathing of ferocious animals who were sleeping.
Gauracandra’s soft heart became unsteady by the fierce rumbling of the Godāvarī’s torrents along with the roaring of waterfalls.
He enjoyed that forest on the bank of the Godāvarī, where trembling birds stumbled about in bliss. The forest was filled with seeds which had fallen from the birds’ beaks and with parrots pecking at split pomegranate fruits.
The parrots pecked at the leaves of the tāmbūla creepers with loud, sharp sounds. The forest was filled with the pleasant, drawn-out chirping of infatuated crickets.
This collection of Satsvarūpa dāsa Goswami’s writings is comprised of essays that were originally published in Back to Godhead magazine between 1966 and 1978, and compiled in 1979 by Gita Nagari Press as the volume A Handbook for Kṛṣṇa Consciousness.
This second volume of Satsvarūpa dāsa Goswami’s Back to Godhead essays encompasses the last 11 years of his 20-year tenure as Editor-in-Chief of Back to Godhead magazine. The essays in this book consist mostly of SDG’s ‘Notes from the Editor’ column, which was typically featured towards the end of each issue starting in 1978 and running until Mahārāja retired from his duties as editor in 1989.
This collection of Satsvarupa dasa Goswami’s writings is comprised of essays that were originally published in Back to Godhead magazine between 1991 and 2002, picking up where Volume 2 leaves off. The volume is supplemented by essays about devotional service from issues of Satsvarupa dasa Goswami’s magazine, Among Friends, published in the 1990s.
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.