We observed Nrsimha Caturdasi at Viraha Bhavan today. The devotees cooked extra preparations and made a feast. They also observed that it was the anniversary of Srila Prabhupada awarding me sannyasa in 1972. We switched our reading in the out-loud reading group from Sri Caitanya-caritamrta to the Seventh Canto of Srimad-Bhagavatam, covering the pastimes of Prahlada Maharaja, Hiranyakasipu and Lord Nrsimhadeva. Guru dasa arranged the sections nicely so that in our two-and-a-quarter-hour time for reading we were able to read all the relevant sections of the epic. Our 400-year-old Deity of Laksmi-Nrsimhadeva received a fresh polishing and bathing and was put on the altar for arati.
Jackie, the Nurse Practitioner who lives nearby, came to give me a checkup. I told her that I had just melted a spoonful of honey, then taken two puffs of an Ayurvedic throat spray, and then I sucked on a lozenge. But it didn’t relieve my condition. I told her my voice cracks up when I speak too long, and I have a cough in my chest. She had me open my mouth, and she examined my throat with an instrument that had a light on the end of it. She said it didn’t look too bad, but there was some whitish substance in the throat that I wasn’t coughing up. So, she’s coming back to do a throat swab and send it to the lab. Leaving no stone unturned, she’s also having an X-ray technician come here tomorrow to give me a chest X-ray. In the meantime, I’m getting some medicine to relieve the pain. And she is communicating with our pulmonologist, Dr. Garcia, who she worked closely with ten years ago and is a good friend. If all these measures prove negative, then there’s some suspicion that it’s related to the Parkinson’s disease. This was pointed out by our pharmacist friend several days ago, and fortunately we’re seeing the neurologist in two weeks. Jackie took a full sampling of our Nrsimha Caturdasi feast, with an extra portion of blueberry halava, a sure devotee-maker.
From time to time I receive random letters appreciating my service and books. But not many. I don’t expect letters anymore, but when they come, it validates my service to Prabhupada. Here is an example of a letter I received today:
“I want to thank you for all you have done over the years in providing spiritual guidance to me. You gave me inspiration to chant Krsna’s Name, and taught me that Vrajendranandana, Krsna in Vrndavana, is svayam bhagavan. I greatly appreciate your support and kindness.”
I have written all these books as part of my responsibility to train my disciples. At one point, they numbered over one thousand, and it was impossible for me to deal with each individual. Over the years, the number of disciples has gradually diminished. But I get letters like this from all over the world from devotees who are not my disciples but have gotten benefit from my books.
Devotees went out and picked up medicines that had been ordered by the Nurse Practitioner last night. One was a desensitizing swallow, and the other was to reduce the inflammation in the throat. Neither of them worked. Jackie, the Nurse Practitioner, is coming out to do a throat swab to send off to the lab for culture. So, we should hear after the weekend whether or not they’ve discovered the source of my sore throat. If all the tests keep coming up negative, then we hope the neurologist, who is treating me for Parkinson’s disease, will have some idea how to deal with it, because the condition is one possible side effect of the Parkinson’s. I am hoping this condition doesn’t become permanent and hinder my service of dictating and reading out loud with the devotees.
Kalakantha sent me a letter, and attached to it were the song lyrics that he wrote, which he said were based on the Lilamrta, with a borrowed melody from a famous singer, Billy Joel. “Some friends and I have an informal band called the ‘Blind Uncle Band’—better than no band at all—and on the rare occasions we play this song, the audience always gets into it and sings along.”
The song is about the life of Srila Prabhupada:
“Bright young married man
buddy pulls you by the hand
to the house on Ultadanga—
“You say, ‘We’re colonized!’
“‘Doesn’t matter,’ he replies.
“Knowing English, it is best
you take this movement to the West.
Srila Prabhupada used to like it when devotees got together and put on plays and cultural presentations. There’s a famous picture of him watching a play in the Henry Street temple and smiling. He himself used to be in plays as a child; he said the participants all had to be devotees. The Alachua-Gainesville community is fortunate to have this band for their Krsna conscious entertainment.
Saturday (today) is a beautiful day. The skies are clear, and the air is fresh, and the sun is shining in this rural New York hamlet. But the next-door volunteer fire department is having their biannual chicken barbeque fundraiser. The clear air is being polluted with the smell of burning carcasses. The cars line up to get their “boxes of joy.” Baladeva used to be more aggressive in his cookie distribution there, giving cookies to the workers, the volunteers, and their wives. But then he decided it was too hellish an association and hasn’t done it for several years, even though it was much appreciated.
I received a letter from a brahmacari who is coming here for a month after Vicaru leaves. I asked him to tell me about how he came to Krsna consciousness. He wrote and told me he got his first book about seven or eight years ago at a Rainbow Gathering. After that, his various support systems in life seemed to crash. He wasn’t raised with religion at all; he described himself as an atheist during high school. But then he went to a party and some people were talking about God, which really shook up his ego. So he went home and opened up the book Sri Isopanisad. So, he started going to a preaching center in Virginia. There he met the devotees from a traveling sankirtan party in Kansas City. He spent some time reading Prabhupada’s books. And the devotee at the preaching center suggested he might like to go on traveling sankirtana. They gave him a few options, and he decided to go to Kansas City. He spent a good time listening to many initiating gurus, but Kadamba Kanana Maharaja resonated with him the most. Ultimately, he got initiated by him. He wrote:
“It seems as if I don’t really know where I fit in in devotional service. But preaching leaves me the most fulfilled. I also like to cook and garden some, which I don’t usually do because I mostly travel.”
Many devotees are talking about the intimate pastimes of Radha and Krsna. There are so many books available in Loi Bazaar. It seems to be discouragement of discussing these topics has normalized. It’s very common to hear this from the vyasasana and on Zoom. I am warming up to the idea by reading a little bit of Sri Ujjvala-nilamani by Srila Rupa Gosvami every day. I feel comfortable putting little quotes from it in my other Journal. Of course, our out-loud reading group is reading Caitanya-caritamrta for the second time in recent months, and there’s plenty of intimate pastimes discussed there. I am being cautious in this, as Prabhupada taught us. But I am not avoiding it anymore.
I’m very enthused writing my other Journal. It is not intended for a wide audience, only some of my disciples who love to read my books, and a few personal friends. I am wondering if this is all right, not to write for a wider audience. I am writing for self-purification. If, perchance, the books become more popular, they can always be reprinted in small numbers or made available on Amazon. My book distribution team, Krsna-bhajana and his wife, Satyasara, told me they are going on a marathon to try to complete editing of my Journal Volume One, Worshiping with the Pen. They told me that they’ll try their best, but they think they may not make it on time. But we still have on time for July the three volumes of essays from my writings in Back to Godhead magazine, and a book titled The Best Use of a Bad Bargain, a book about illness.
Under the influence of Lord Caitanya, the Hindus of Navadvipa abandoned their suppression by the Muslims and took up the religious principles, chanting the Hare Krsna mantra loudly. The Muslim Kazi became angry and went to the Hindus’ place, where he broke a mrdanga and forbade the Hindus from chanting Hare Krsna. The Hindus went to Lord Caitanya in shock and told Him of their plight. He said He would hold a civil disobedience movement. He ordered thousands of men to come in the early evening, and carrying torches while chanting Hare Krsna, march on to the Kazi’s house. Some of the men lost control of their minds and became angry and destroyed part of the Kazi’s house. In fear, the Kazi hid in his room. Lord Caitanya was calm and quiet, and He invited the Kazi to come down and talk to Him peacefully. The Kazi came down to meet Lord Caitanya, and the Lord greeted him with respect and gave him a seat. The Lord said He had some questions He wanted to ask. He said to the Kazi, “You drink the cow’s milk, and you use the bull for agriculture, so the cow and bull are like your mother and father. How dare you kill them and slaughter them?” The Kazi made some argument, but Lord Caitanya defeated him. The Kazi tried again and again, but finally he submitted to Lord Caitanya and couldn’t speak anything more against Him. The Kazi changed his mind and said he would allow the Hindus to chant the Hare Krsna mantra. He then followed Lord Caitanya and the devotees and chanted the holy name with them, almost like a devotee. From that day on, the devotees chanted Hare Krsna unobstructed.
Today Baladeva prepared sweet rice. This is for distributing to the neighborhood devotee kids. It was made from leftover milk from the offering. We save it up and then make sweet rice. Devotees in the house eat it, and any guests.
Baladeva also made laddus for Laddu Gopala. The offerings are saved up and given to certain people who are really addicted to laddus like the chiropractor, the landscaper, and several others.
Baladeva also prepared a batch of chocolate chip cookies for wider distribution in the offices we visit. I see the effects when people get cookies in the offices—they are very receptive, and they definitely eat them with pleasure.
In today’s Srila Prabhupada-lila (an Internet posting which comes once a week), Hari Sauri gave the memory of the day. He said Prabhupada explained that one of his strategies for making people Krsna conscious was distributing profuse amounts of prasadam. He quoted Srila Prabhupada as saying, “At least let them eat prasadam, for that’s also Krsna.” He also quoted Prabhupada as saying, “Our program is to help people gradually become Krsna conscious. Simply by eating prasadam, they’ll gradually develop an attachment to Krsna, and when that develops, they will be able to understand the philosophy—simply by eating prasadam.”
Every day I am posting Sri Caitanya Maha-kavyam by Murari Gupta. It’s not a book to be read in one sitting, and I’m giving small bits. I don’t know what it’s like in Bengali, but the translation is readable. It tells the same stories that we’ll find in Caitanya-caritamrta and Caitanya-bhagavata. We spend two and a quarter hours reading Srila Prabhupada’s books. Right now we are re-reading Caitanya-caritamrta, so this poem is pertinent. We are getting the philosophy and purports from Srila Prabhupada, and the extracted sweetness from this poem. I like to share what I read, because reading is one of the main practices of my sadhana. I am always writing, listening to lectures of Srila Prabhupada, taking darsana of Radha-Kalachandji (or Radha-Govinda), or reading. Caitanya-lila is one of my favorites.
I want to go back to Swamiji’s room at 26 Second Avenue, as much as I am able. Someone might accuse me of thinking too much of the “good old days.” But I think it’s my prerogative to be more attached to memories of Swamiji in 1966 than to any other memories. Lord Krsna’s devotees in Vrndavana favor the good old days when Krsna was living with them, and they sometimes even criticize the Lord’s devotees in other places. So I think it’s not just sentimentality on my part that I lament the loss of simplicity and my inability to be with Prabhupada as I used to at 26 Second Avenue.
It’s a fact that toward the end of Prabhupada’s pastimes, I lost access to him. I remember one time when Srila Prabhupada was visiting the New York ISKCON skyscraper in 1976. He was leaving for his morning car ride and his GBC men pressed forward to get in the car with him. I went forward too and made it right to the back door of the car, but there was no more room. Ramesvara Maharaja, the last one in, apologized, “I’m sorry, but Prabhupada asked me to go.”
It was also during that New York stay, that Prabhupada made his famous visit to Gita-nagari. I shouldn’t complain about these things, because I had much more access than most. I could have included myself in the Radha-Damodara bus that took Prabhupada to Gita-nagari. Instead, I spent the day in the 55th Street temple, reading his books and feeling sorry for myself. I had rationalized that there were too many devotees going to Gita-nagari; the living quarters would be inconvenient, and I would probably get only a very limited time to be with Srila Prabhupada.
It’s not wrong to think of Srila Prabhupada in moods that appeal to us. Since I tend to be quiet, I liked to see Prabhupada when he was like that. I liked to see him alone translating Srimad-Bhagavatam. I would even advocate to other devotees that Prabhupada should be “allowed” to do this. I said, “It’s good that Prabhupada is translating so much. We should encourage him. It’s even better that he does this than to give a lecture. He is able to stay alone and get a lot of Srimad-Bhagavatam done.” It was true that I also wanted to be with him when he was alone. But I was also happy, even if I was not with him, if I knew that a simple servitor was there, someone I was not jealous of, and that Prabhupada was peaceful and producing Srimad-Bhagavatam. Many devotees received great personal satisfaction just knowing that Prabhupada was producing his purports. It eased the pain of my envy to think that he was doing something from which everyone would benefit, and not that only a few people would monopolize his attention.
Although Prabhupada remained alone on a daily basis, his main service was to be the paramahamsa ghostyanandi, a pure devotee surrounded by many followers whom he trained in Krsna consciousness. His own spiritual master criticized Vaisnavas who go to a secluded place to gain a reputation as a great chanter of the holy names. But occasionally Prabhupada expressed an inclination for being alone in order to work at translating the scriptures. He became disturbed when many letters came in from devotees quarreling with one another. Sometimes a disciple would travel thousands of miles to come to Prabhupada just to criticize a Godbrother. This exasperated Prabhupada and sometimes interrupted his composition of purports.
Francis’s biographer gives sketches of many of the first disciples. One of them is Brother John the Simple, who had a tendency to do whatever he saw St. Francis do.
When therefore St. Francis was in the church or other place to pray, he watched him closely so as to follow all his ways and movements. And when St. Francis bent his knee or lifted his hands to heaven, or spit, or sighed, then he did exactly the same. But as St. Francis became aware of this, he scolded him very cheerfully about it. Then Brother John answered, “Brother, I have promised to do all that you do, and therefore it is fit that I copy you in all things.
Some of our behavior was in the copying mood, such as imitating Prabhupada’s Indian accent and uttering his ecstatic sound “Mmmmmm.” To outsiders, we may have seemed like copycats wearing tilaka, dressing like Prabhupada and shaving our heads. But we were actually following the standard Vaisnava methods. And Prabhupada did not force us to do so.
When we read of John the Simple, we think that there is something favorable to be said for the affectionate desire to follow the saint in everything he does. It is certainly more attractive than limiting the saint’s influence in your life so that you follow only a few general principles. Nowadays we even hear some initiated disciples say, “Prabhupada was a great saint, but I no longer follow his instructions.” Instead of that, give us the devotion of Brother John the Simple!
You gave me my full name,
and the mission, to travel and preach,
when I was still a young man,
and I walked with you on the beach.
Tonight I am with you,
by your grace.
And I pray to you,
let me keep it up.
Being with you means
“Do not try to see Prabhupada,
but act in such a way
that he can see you.”
It means being your son,
talking for hours with new people,
advising them how to act gently
with their parents and yet be determined
to join Krsna consciousness.
It is facing off with devotees
whose guru has left and who do not
see anyone they can accept
for guru again.
It is talking with the pujari,
the book distributor, the scholar—
as you told me, “Preaching
to devotees is even more important
than preaching to the nondevotees.”
It is your mercy on me,
to be talking in Rome
hour after hour, with more coming in the door,
and my assistant objecting,
“You’ve been talking three hours
and we have to travel early tomorrow morning.”
It’s being like you;
it’s being with you.
Thank you, Prabhupada
That’s what I want.
Photographs and memories are one thing, but I also have to cultivate remembrance of his instructions. He gave so many philosophical purports and direct statements about how to manage the movement and ourselves. It takes intelligence to follow all his directives, and faith to aspire for that intelligence. Neither do we want to become over-intelligent. Following his directions and remembering him is meant to keep us humble. We are forever his disciples. We will never be greater than Prabhupada.
That’s another point about becoming a dilettante: I cannot simply “study” Prabhupada as a scientist studies a specimen under a microscope. I have many photographs of Prabhupada representing many posed and candid moments. Still, I cannot understand the mind of my spiritual master. I can study his words and teachings, but even that has to be done with faithful hearing and service. I am not a literary critic or a lawyer who can endlessly dissect his instructions, looking for… what? Loopholes? That would be over-intelligent, and it is an offense.
I have my service in his movement like anyone else. But regardless of whether my service differs from yours, we are all students at the feet of the guru. I don’t want to become like a jaded sense gratifier, always needing more and more stimulation to get the same “high.” Prabhupada is enthusing me. I collect his memories and photographs to remind myself of that.
To stay alive in Prabhupada memories, while remaining free of dilettantism, is to know that he has a current connection with us. Don’t relegate Prabhupada to the museum in your mind, and think that you are the antiquarian collector of rare books and artifacts. Prabhupada is out preaching.
I want to serve those devotees who have that “face-to-face-with-Prabhupada” realization. I am poor in Prabhupada consciousness. Am I trying to compensate for that by collecting Prabhupada memorabilia? It’s okay, it works. But let me take the dust on my head of devotees who are alive for Prabhupada.
The personal presence of the spiritual master is necessary to enforce some of the more difficult injunctions of Vaisnava tradition. For example, Prabhupada came to America and taught that sex life should be restricted. He told us right from the beginning that our Western emphasis on sex would be very detrimental to our spiritual lives. One should restrict it. If possible, one should give it up entirely. Some devotees mentioned to Prabhupada that these restrictions would be difficult for the Americans to accept. Prabhupada replied, “I cannot change the philosophy to suit the Americans.” His teaching, of course, goes completely against the hedonist’s claims that unless we enjoy sex, we will be frustrated and repressed. How could the devotees in Krsna consciousness adopt such a “mad attempt” unless Srila Prabhupada was personally behind us?
Without compromise, Prabhupada continues to guide us. He speaks plainly in his books and lectures: if you want Krsna, you have to give up illicit sex desire. Sex is a natural drive that can be used in Krsna’s service. Sex is not easy to give up in any asrama, but if we want to follow Prabhupada, we have to do what he says.
As we struggle to surrender, we certainly need to focus on the personal inspiration given to us by our spiritual master. We know he teaches from the sastra, but we also know that he follows sastra himself. Because we are personally indebted to him, we want to please him by following the Vedic truths. Allowing the spiritual master to exert such control in our lives even to the point of controlling our sex pleasure will make us submissive to him. We come to identify ourselves as his followers. This will bring us the actual confirmation and reciprocation from him that we are seeking.
I am personally grateful to Srila Prabhupada for giving us ways to prove ourselves as his followers.
Now I am asking you permission to write you a letter. These letters are also imaginary because I have no way to send them. Still, I am overcoming my inhibitions in approaching you by writing these letters, so let me continue.
We used to write to you letters, and we knew that you would hear our words and then respond and correct us. It’s not like that anymore. Prabhupada, I know my letters are just like a young boy chattering to his father. The child lives in his own world, but he needs his reality validated by the parent—just to have the parent hear him, just to have the parent nearby.
What are the things that I would say to you in letters? I cannot report to you now about the temples that are in my charge—I no longer have a zone. I could tell you about my traveling and preaching, and making of disciples, or I could tell you about my book-writing. I am still a little shy about that. My letters are not pure. Ultimately, I want to learn how to write to you with my actions and know that everything I do will pleasing to you.
As you know, I correspond with hundreds of devotees. Sometimes they ask, “Is it all right if I write to you?” They say, “I know you have many letters to answer. Maybe I shouldn’t trouble you.” Or they may say, “I sometimes write to you but then throw the letters away because the things I say are foolish.” It is a burden for me to read so many letters, and if they are foolish, that makes it even more difficult. But I sincerely encourage them to write if they think they will benefit by our correspondence. I think of my writing to you in the same way as they think of writing to me. I will get benefit and therefore I want to write, but I know it is a big burden to read my letters, especially when they are foolish.
Devotees are not interested in performance: we are looking for tears. Tears wash away the jaundice of avidya. and then Krsna appears in His most merciful form. The Vaisnava shower their mercy. This is bhajana.
Next Bhaktivinoda Thakura gives us his version of Rupa Gosvami’s “essence of all advice,” text eight of the Upadesamrta. He declares that Rupa Gosvami is giving us instructions as our sika-guru. We should take them in that way, as personal teachings from our ever well-wisher.
Try to understand my words, O you who beg for the gift of the holy name, for by these instructions you will develop attraction for chanting the holy name.
Follow the scriptural rules and regulations and engage your tongue and mind in carefully chanting and remembering the holy names, divine forms, qualities, and wonderful pastimes of Lord Krsna.
Dwell in the holy land of Vraja, cultivate spontaneous loving devotion (raganuga–bhakti) and spend your every moment chanting and remembering the glories of Sri Hari. Just accept these as the essence of all instructions.
How is it that we have come to the Krsna consciousness movement? Surely our coming is due to some divine arrangement. We have become rupanugas by Prabhupada’ s grace. He has awakened our original seed for the bhava of Rupa Gosvami. (As I wrote this, a huge bee landed on my right elbow. I stopped writing for a moment to look at him, but he has already gone off, seeking nectar.)
We have a seed relationship with Krsna. The Vaisnava awakens that relationship. Naturally, we want to take the same path as our spiritual master. Therefore, Bhaktivinoda Thakura’s advice to take shelter in the Vaisnava Thakura is superexcellent and to chant attentively with the tongue to capture the mind. Srila Prabhupada insisted that this was possible for us. Then, we have to tune our ear to actually hear the names of Radha and Krsna in the holy name. From that hearing, Their pastimes will gradually unfold. We will see Their rupa, lila, and guna.
Here is a photo close-up of Prabhupada taking a morning walk on the roof in Mayapura. It is during the annual festival, and he is surrounded by Western-born sannyasi disciples. Srila Prabhupada is looking straight ahead. There is a glint of gold from his mouth. He is speaking (or about to speak). He wears a plain gray cadar around his shoulders, a saffron beadbag-he sets the style and we all follow. Over the wall of the roof, you can see the plain of Mayapura-out there somewhere is the Yoga-pitha. A microphone in a disciple’s hand is poised to catch the words.
Something heavy always happens when he is present. He reprimands the mudhas, scientists, mayavadis, and so on, but somehow that fire of his words gets directed back to us. It is done in an indirect way, but nonetheless …
Sometimes a disciple like Panca-dravida Swami will playfully take the role of one of the archenemies and there is laughter as Prabhupada responds. We all take that role occasionally, for fun, to play with our lion-like guru maharaja, to learn how to preach. And we do it because there is an arch-enemy lurking within us.
Aside from that, being with Srila Prabhupada is heavy because he is indirectly asking us to surrender to Krsna. To totally surrender. That means to surrender much more than we are willing to do at the present moment. He doesn’t bear down on any one of us, he doesn’t force us (although he has proven that he can do that too). But the pressure is spread evenly and heavily over all of us. Are you going to serve Prabhupada or maya? Are you playing surrendered now but later not? What is that faroff look in your eye? What if you have to surrender, even as much as you are willing to right now, but continue it for your whole life-are you ready? Which of you believes in Krsna without any doubt? Who won’t run away?
The heaviness I see is in Srila Prabhupada’s demeanor. You cannot see it exactly in the dark bronze hue of his face reflecting the morning sunlight. You can’t quite see it in his eyes which appear almost shut. It is in his overall appearance, in the silences between his words, in his walking back and forth over the roof, surrounded by the leaders of his movement, by the renounced young men who will carry his words to the others. Guru is heavy.
Nine rounds done averaging 7.30. Notice (when you can) that your mind is dwelling in foolish spaces, consorting with demons and chimeras, going to places not fit for a devotee-sannyasi. Notice and bring the mind back to hearing the Hare Krsna mantra. Then bring it back again. And again.
Can I ask for more than this? That would be asking for Krsna’s mercy. To be able to feel myself His fallen servant filled with anarthas; to be able to feel the mercy of harer nama; realizing everything in the maha-mantra, tears of remorse, tears of joy, the unfolding of Krsna’s pastimes … the resolution for
service … the unending attachment to chanting His names and qualities and pastimes.
I plan to chant sixty-four rounds today, ekadasi. I will have to keep chanting as much as possible. “It is important to concentrate on the quality of the chanting and not on trying to artificially increase the number of holy names. The name of the Lord should be pronounced distinctly. Only by the grace of the Lord can this be achieved” (HNC, p. 84). I don’t want the day to be just one big space-out in counting poor rounds.
Chanting gives one forbearance. That means, among other things, that I have to tolerate my lower state. Yes, I want to reform as soon as possible, but a wife has to wait nine months to bear a child. I am “pregnant” doing the japa-yajna on ekadasi. Be patient and keep refocusing your attention on what you are doing. “This practice of forbearance (trnad api sunicena) is very difficult, but when one actually engages in chanting the Hare Krsna mantra, the quality of forbearance automatically develops” (C.c., Adi 17.27-28, purport).
Srila Prabhupada said if we don’t read, how will we preach? Letter-writing and seminars depend on information and inspiration that is found only in Prabhupada’s books. Lecturing certainly depends on this. I have read Prabhupada’s books enough in this life so that I could get by without reading more, but I know it’s not sufficient. It would be cheating to think like that. I would be cheating myself out of new realizations and out of Prabhupada’s constant association. We are practicing Krsna consciousness today.
I also listen to Prabhupada’s lecture tapes every day. I want to always continue that. It’s part of my life’s rhythm. His words enter my bloodstream and circulate throughout my body. They find their way into my consciousness. His words will save me at the time of death.
SRILA PRABHUPADA HAS SAID MANY TIMES that distributing Krsna consciousness is the best welfare work, because it is the only service we can offer others that will free them from the cycle of birth and death. This is certainly better than improving their material standard of living or their concentration on the animal propensities of eating, mating, sleeping, and defending. There are people who do need to be clothed, fed, and housed, but all people need spiritual emancipation. Krsna gives the human being special facility not to become absorbed in superior standards of sense gratification but to realize himself and his relationship with God and to leave the material world behind. Animals are not given that intelligence. Human beings should not be left to work only for the animal propensities because they lack knowledge. Prabhupada wanted us to teach Krsna consciousness and to free others while we worked to free ourselves.
Srila Prabhupada goes on to say that because the body is made of senses, it requires a certain amount of satisfaction, but human beings should satisfy their senses under regulation so that they do not lose sight of the goal of life. He gives the example of marriage as a way to regulate the sex urge, then adds, “In the absence of voluntary restraint, there is propaganda for family planning, but foolish men do not know that family planning is automatically executed as soon as there is search after the Absolute Truth.”
By studying Prabhupada’s books, we must face the fact that Krsna consciousness is not unnatural to the heart of any living entity. It is only their (our) conditioning that separates us from being happy in pure love of God.
The soul’s natural urge is to serve Krsna selflessly. If we can follow the path of the compassionate preacher, we can help both ourselves and others reawaken that urge and direct it onto the bhakti path.
But as devotees, we may be facing obstacles in our willingness to feel compassion for others. There are two usual obstacles. One is our lack of conviction about the nature of other people’s suffering, or our lack of concern, and the other is the difficulty of preaching work itself.
To confront the first obstacle, we should practice sadhana, especially hearing. If we can actually become convinced that Krsna is God, that we are meant to serve Him, and that life has little meaning otherwise—and if we can remember our own fruitless experiences before hearing from Prabhupada—we will naturally feel the urge to share what we know with others. By hearing, we will also learn and gradually become convinced of the fact that sharing Krsna consciousness with others will make us dear to guru and Krsna. Krsna considers it a victory when a conditioned soul turns to Him.
Lord Caitanya understood the desire of Vāsudeva Datta and Śivānanda Sena. He said “Divide the water and give half to Jagannātha and leave the other half here.”
The ocean of mercy then inquired with astonishment, “Where is Murāri? Where is Murāṛī? Bring him quickly.”
Hearing this, many devotees ran with zeal and came quickly to the bank of Narendra Sarovara.
They saw Murāri lying on the ground, trembling and crying with a miserable heart. They said, “Quickly come.”
Hearing these words, Murāri in great joy, trembling, with eyes full of tears, covered with dust, crying with pitiful words, completely despondent, went to see the Lord.
Perspiring and stunned, Murāri stumbled about continually. He covered his throat with the border of his cloth.
Holding grass in his teeth, he moved like lowly grass. He wore a pearl garland of tears on his chest.
As if blinded by prema, he gazed at the Lord for a long time. He could not speak because tears choked his throat for some time.
Then with choked, pitiful voice, feeling most miserable, he uttered words and held the lotus feet of the Lord.
He repeatedly sprinkled the tears flowing from his two eyes upon the Lord’s lotus feet.
The Lord, with two blossoming lotus eyes, also sprinkled Murārī’s back with his tears.
The people present there cried along with his crying. The time became similar to him, absorbed completely in his emotions.
The Lord, seeing and hearing his pitiful words and intense crying, could not endure it for a moment, and felt great sorrow.
Then the Lord, with Advaita and others, became charming and affectionate, like the moon decorated with stars.
The moon of Gaurāṅga, smiling, tinged with beautiful red lips, bathed the faces of the directions in the effulgence of His limbs.
Greedy for the nectar of Caitanya’s feet, the devotees became anxious to see the bathing festival of Jagannātha.
On Ekādāśī the devotees happily saw the marriage festival and on the full moon day they saw the purifying bathing festival.
The city of Puri was most attractive and pleasing with mansions, watchtowers and gates.
It had beautiful palaces which touched the white clouds. In that city, the bathing platform, permeated with nectar, seemed like a moving person.
On the previous day, when the sun set, some people had started to decorate the platform.
When the full moon rose, it shone, making the great city beautiful.
The moon, full of nectar, as if serving the Lord, cleansed the platform with its hand-like rays.
The bathing platform was decorated with abundant flower garlands, with an attractive archway, with a huge network of flowers, and with small shining, jingling bells. Its beauty became attractive to the whole world.
On the order of Gaurāṅga, the devotees, anxious to see the bathing of Jagannātha, fixed themselves on top of a wall.
Their chests shining with sandalwood applied by the hand of Gaurāṅga, they shone like devatās in the sky in front of Mahāprabhu.
When dawn came, the servants of Jagannātha fastened the pure ropes on Jagannātha’s body.
First, Balarāma desired to go. He came off his throne, shining like a million moons.
Then Subhadrā, and then Jagannātha, came off their thrones, producing astonishing beauty.
Gauracandra, came in front and saw the victory path of the three deities, one by one.
Shaking the earth with His footsteps, moving from pillow to pillow, Jagannātha appeared like the moon moving from constellation to constellation.
The Lord, the crown jewel of Nīlādri, ascended the spotless platform, which was decorated with networks of flowers, which shone brightly with a series of steps, and which surpassed the beauty of the milk ocean with trembling waves, while people shouted of “Jaya” and rang bells.
Caitanya Mahāprabhu, surrounded by devotees, was in the front. Streams of tears fell from His lotus eyes onto His chest. Shining Jagannātha was also bathed in tears, overcome with joy on seeing that they had similar beauty.
The great festival of Jagannātha, rare for the devatās like Brahmā to see, clearly meant for giving sweet bliss to the eyes of all people, was beautiful with simultaneous loud shouts of “Jaya, jaya,” ever increasing in joy, and with showers of flowers similar to verses of praise.
Covered with the bathing water, Jagannātha seemed to be crying in separation from Gaurāṅga, thinking “He will be hidden from my vision for a long time.”
His chest and thighs were pleased with the sweet liquids of the bathing festival. Jagannātha remained there for some time in bliss. Again, His two arms were held by groups of servants. Endowed with beauty, He began to move gloriously on pillows.
At the departure of Jagannātha, Kūrma seemed to sink, Śeṣa seemed to tremble with all his hoods, the earth seemed to quake, mountains seemed to explode, the universe seemed to break apart, the ocean seemed to flood its shores, and the sun seemed to flee away.
Jagannātha, wearing the cloth of invisibility, then disappeared from men’s vision with Lakṣmī, servant of the palace, for repairs.
Jagannātha disappeared to play with Lakṣmī alone, desiring to produce great pain of separation in his devotees living in Puri.
Their minds disturbed with sorrow on not seeing the Lord, the devotees living in Puri suffered greatly on being deprived of the Lord’s presence.
Mahāprabhu, not seeing Jagannātha, was greatly pained. On this occasion, He manifested the sorrow of the gopīs in separation from Kṛṣṇa in Vṛndāvana.
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.