The other day we had an electrical blackout in the major part of the county. We set up two emergency battery lamps which Kirtan Rasa had given us. With these I was able to write in my personal Journal for a full-time session. But then the Internet went out, so I wasn’t able to receive mail, and my Dictaphones with my letters weren’t able to go out to the typist. In some places the condition lasted for most of the day. Here we got power back at 3:00 P.M., but fortunately we ran the generator from 8:00 A.M. to 3:00 P.M., so nothing was lost in the refrigerator, and I was able to work the rest of the day in comfort, with AC and a fan.
Associated with the blackout, a hurricane-like storm came through and lasted about an hour. It was July 4th and the fireworks were going, but when the storm came, with thunder and more lightning than some of the devotees here had ever seen, the fireworks folk had to suspend for a while. The fireworks group started up again around 10:00 P.M. and went until one in the morning. It was not a peaceful night. Anuradha made the Krsna-conscious assessment that here it was, so-called “Independence Day,” with tiny little fireworks, compared to the massive storm that came through and disrupted everything and showed that actually Krsna was in control and that there is no independence.
It’s been a long time, six weeks, that I’ve felt pains in my lower backside and my left hip, and I have a stiff neck. We finally found a chiropractor who came to the house. His office was only five miles away. His first assessment was that I’m getting these pains from too much sitting in a soft chair (which I pretty much have to do because of my Parkinson’s), which doesn’t allow me too much movement in my legs. Sitting also happens to suit me because of the long hours I spend in reading, writing and darsana of Radha-Govinda. He recommended X-rays, which we got. The X-rays showed arthritis on both sides of the back and hips, especially the left hip. The X-rays also showed displacement of the structures down there. The chiropractor has been out a second time and has spent time coaching me in exercises and giving advice how to do more movement, while at the same time lying down three times a day on a massage table for twenty minutes (to take the pressure off the bones). I take ice on my back, fifteen minutes on and an hour off, which helps reduce the pain and inflammation. So if I take his advice and become a “good patient,” there is a good chance we’ll reduce all the problems.
The nurse came out to the house and saw my sore throat, and heard my “crooked” voice. She gave me various prescriptions—steroids, antibiotics, sprays, different things to calm it down. The different medicines didn’t work. The nurse came again and looked down my throat with a flashlight and tongue depressor, and didn’t see anything inflamed or swollen. The pharmacist said it may be related to the Parkinson’s, and that was confirmed several days later when we went to the neurologist. So I canceled the out-loud readings for ten days before the festival so I could deliver my speech. Another devotee who is doing the narration of the audiobook for Srila Prabhupada-lilamrta, also contacted laryngitis. He tried different medicines, but he finally decided (as he wrote to me): “Resting my voice seems to be the best medicine.” So I followed his example and tried not to talk at all for ten days or more. I wasn’t very good at actually doing it, but my voice did recover somewhat. It was much to the disappointment of the team who do the out-loud readings. I was able to give the lecture in good shape, as I rose to the occasion, but I wasn’t able to start the out-loud readings for another week. Yesterday I started them up again, much to the delight of the participating devotees. But I still can’t read as much as I want to. Today I didn’t even read for five minutes.
I have many aches in my body. We have had much difficulty in getting an appointment with a chiropractor who uses tapping machines. He has helped out several devotees at Viraha Bhavan, including myself. So far he was on vacation, and then he came back, and we couldn’t get an appointment with him to come out. Now I’m aching so much, I’m willing to go in to his office. We managed to get another chiropractor to come out, and he’s given us some good practical advice, such as lying down three times a day instead of sitting all the time. So we’re doing massage on the table and leg exercises, and he’s asked that I walk more, which I’ve been doing a little, pushing my rollator. He is a traditional chiropractor, but so far he doesn’t seem to be easing my pains that much. But he has some good practical advice.
Damodara Rati Dasi, my disciple from Sydney, Australia, has been here visiting us for six days. Every day she cooks a wonderful feast, and all the devotees at Viraha Bhavan thoroughly enjoy it. My own meal is very simple and austere, as I mentioned in the Journal before. I take only a salad, a bowl of soup and half of a diabetic meal-replacement drink. I don’t feel envious or become greedy when I see other devotees eating these delicious meals. Each day she serves different kinds of parathas, one day was a Mexican theme, another was an Indian special routine, and every day a dessert, because she’s a dessert maker for the Deities in Sydney. She’s expert at making desserts and making them look beautiful.
It’s been increasingly painful for the last month for Vicaru. It took that long to get him an appointment to get his wisdom tooth removed. The nerves had decayed all the way around the tooth, so the whole side of his face was in pain. It was a serious operation, very invasive, and leaving a big hole. He was left in terrible pain and had to take off from his services to me. He just lay down with ice packs and pain medicine that the doctor had given him. After a day, he’s back in his service, although he’s feeling a little dizzy. Vicaru was raised up as a village boy in Fiji, and he never went to the dentist before in his life (he never needed to go to one). Now he’s mending, and he’s glad to be back bonding with me, and we’re exchanging in service.
“If by chance such a moment comes when I can once again see Krsna, then I shall worship those seconds, moments, and hours with flower garlands and pulp of sandalwood and decorate them with all kinds of jewels and ornaments.”
—Cc, Madhya, 2.38
In our own little way, we are also worshiping the hours and minutes when we were with Srila Prabhupada. One way to worship sacred time is to ask it, “Please come forward so that we may praise you with words and tell the world what it was like. Kindly come forward and reveal yourself, minutes and hours in which I was with Prabhupada.”
Almost as soon as I began seeing Srila Prabhupada, I also began fondly remembering him and what he said. After attending his morning class at 26 Second Avenue, I would walk east one block to First Avenue and then walk north to the Fifth Street Welfare Office. Just before Fifth Street was a very big apartment building, and I used to stand in the entrance way under a roof and “kill time” before going in to punch the clock. I remember standing there and reviewing some of the philosophy that Prabhupada had spoken. He had said that any activity, if coated with bhakti, becomes a type of yoga. When fruitive activities are coated with bhakti, they become karma–yoga. Philosophical speculation coated with bhakti becomes jnana-yoga, and pure devotional service activities are bhakti-yoga. What a wonderful philosophy!
Remembering and worshiping the minutes may be done by offerings of flowers, just as we do in arati. But I also have the feeling of shooting into the past like a sportsman hitting targets with a bow and arrow. The targets are there waiting, all the minutes and hours of the past.
Inevitably, we turn toward memories that we’ve enjoyed many times. But that doesn’t make them less important or less worshipable. If we remember a favorite moment once again, it may bring out new lights.
Hearing these realizations gave me some further thoughts about Prabhupada remembrance. With all respects to the early memories and stories, I also admit that it is more important to remember the essence of Prabhupada and to follow his instructions. There are times when we can remember Prabhupada with all his personal qualities and particulars, but it is also true that the spiritual master cannot be seen so readily. Perhaps that is the point Mukunda Maharaja was making. We may meditate on Prabhupada as vani, as guide. In that meditation we do not think of him exactly in his form, and yet he is very personally present. These things can be realized with spiritual vision by the tattva–darsi, the one who know the guru in his heart. He knows, “My guru is with me always.”
When you call on his name or when you pray to him, “Prabhupada, please help me! Prabhupada, please let me serve Krsna”—you are speaking to the same Prabhupada who we talk about in all our stories—but you are reaching for his essence. That essence is never impersonal. It is not like Dr. Radhakrishnan who said in reference to Lord Krsna, “Do not surrender to Krsna Himself, but to the unborn within Krsna.” Prabhupada, however, says there is no difference between the outer and inner Krsna. And similarly, the Prabhupada whom I described as smiling “involuntarily” in the garden, is also the inner Prabhupada. Sometimes we remember him with details and sometimes just by calling his name, by feeling affection for him. It is not that Prabhupada is absent if we cannot bring up many memories of him. Just by knowing he is there we can feelingly say, “Prabhupada.” And this is available for everyone.
Nara-Narayana Prabhu has a very deep voice and, with all due respects, has a somewhat eccentric manner. In his heavy, amusing voice he went on telling Prabhupada of the horrible fight. Nara-Narayana said that most of the devotees were not physically fit because they sat all day in their offices. He said maybe it would be better if devotees kept themselves in better shape in order to respond to such emergencies. He said that the motorcycle thugs were big and strong. Nara-Narayana said that he himself was carrying a pole and he used it to knock down the attackers. He said, “But one of them was so big and powerful I would knock him down and he just kept coming!”
Prabhupada had been listening with a quiet look on his face. It was not a pleasant tale to hear, and perhaps it was one that should not have been told to the spiritual master, but Prabhupada was hearing it. When Nara-Narayana came to the part in his story of how he had knocked this guy down again and again but he kept coming, Prabhupada gave an involuntary smile. One “explanation” of this smile is that everyone smiled at Nara-Narayana because he sometimes behaved as a comedian.
A good comedian makes you smile. And to some degree, a comedian is usually a bit of a clown also, and so you laugh at something he is doing. It seemed that Prabhupada did not want to smile while hearing this unfortunate story, but it was being told so humorously—comic relief along with frightening descriptions— Prabhupada “had to” smile.
This incident also showed me that although Prabhupada was transcendental to happiness and distress, he was affected by the account that was being told. Prabhupada is fearless, and yet he fears for the devotees and for the Krsna consciousness movement. Therefore, although Prabhupada was not showing his emotions, he was no doubt feeling hurt by the story of innocent devotees being beaten. These emotions were being manifested by Prabhupada, but then suddenly, he smiled in response to the grotesque and humorous details of the narrator.
Nara-Narayana was definitely adding some comic relief to the tragic situation. He was like a court jester in the presence of his king. Kings are very grave and burdened with responsibilities, so they sometimes like to smile and forget their troubles. Srila Prabhupada was not in anxiety or unhappy like a king of the material world. Yet on this occasion, his disciple played the role of the court jester and brought a smile to the grave face of the jagad-guru.
I hear a constant background noise of parrots screeching. They are not so loud-just telling us that it’s morning. Their constant song is punctuated by the mourning doves’ occasional coos. A distant car horn reminds us that people do come and go from areas outside Vraja. This morning, an unbroken line of people in drab clothes have walked by. I also saw a dog on a roof and the pieces of broken bottles set in cement on top of the neighbor’s wall.
A crowd has gathered out there. Above their heads I see a Saivite trident and a person’s foot. He is standing on his head-some kind of public austerity.
Madhu has called me to look at a “fabulous bird” on the electric wire. It is black and has a bright blue-green stripe on each wing, a white breast, and a long thin beak. Its mouth is open and it appears to be panting in the heat.
A donkey brays a short poem. Sadhus walk by, brown-skinned and barefoot in their dark orange cloth.
This morning I saw ants eating something white on the floor. Baladeva mused, “A real Vrndavana scene. It began last night. It was a lizard. About forty ants attacked it while it was still alive.” I thought, “How is this a Vrndavana scene?” Yet it is happening here.
A dog walked through the front gate and sat down, “offering obeisances” with her long-extended front legs. She sat patiently and quietly, wagging her tail.
Baladeva said to Madhu, “Someone is here to see you.” Madhu went to the front porch and assumed a tough expression. Baladeva said, “You know the philosophy.” (Meaning, you know this dog is not an ordinary soul and has come to beg.)
“But,” I said, “if you feed this one, they will all come around.”
She went on wagging her tail and I left it to them to figure out. Then the rains came and the eye ache and still I hear the tinkling drops.
What are the obstacles? My impurities. How to remove them? Through service-humble service-and simultaneously, hearing. I understand that by my service to Sala Prabhupada and by whatever work I do to help distribute Krsna consciousness to others, I may become rightly situated. Otherwise, Krsna consciousness will remain a locked treasure to me. When the treasure chest is opened, then the divine feast of loving devotional service will be manifest. At that time, I will hear the beauty of Vrndavana lila, and my heart will be moved.
This is why I came to Vrndavana. I came to dedicate myself to this. I beg Radha and Krsna to please accept my faulty attempt. Please allow me to chant the holy names.
Please, Vrnda-devi, Yogamaya, I want to be fit to serve others. I will preach as I should, but I want to be a devotee of the true Vrndavana and to be released from the bonds of material life. I am prepared to perform austerities, although I am weak and unable in so many ways.
We went out today. There was the usual rapid-fire bombardment of sights and sounds. I want to record a few things here that seemed worth saving.
I saw a cow nosing its way into a travel bag that someone had left on a motor scooter. The cow was actually opening the pack and getting into whatever was in it. Then on the way back, I saw another cow stealing grass from a horse-drawn cart. These carts have a space underneath where they store grass to feed the horse. This cart was unattended and a cow was pulling the grass out from under it.
Westerners sometimes talk about the cows in India’s city streets. They think it is a sign of neglect. They say that if India is supposed to protect cows, why are so many starving cows roaming the streets? But when you come to India and see how the humans struggle in the cities, it doesn’t seem that the cows are at a particular disadvantage. People can’t give cows some extraordinary preference over themselves. If the humans are struggling to get by, then the cows are partners in the same poor existence. Prabhupada used to say that outsiders advertise the starving and dying people of India, but he never saw them himself. The people may be skinny, the cows too, but they are getting by.
I also saw a big white and tan goat sitting on a rope cot. These cots are for people, but the goat was acting like he owned it. Although you repeatedly see certain things, they can still be amazing.
Today we saw a big, fat water buffalo, soaking wet, walking down the street with a young boy behind it and another in front of it. The buffalo cow seemed to have a special value—she had big udders and was being attended by two boys. Buffalo cows are grotesque. They look like big rubber boats.
We also saw sadhus, ladies, merchants, sudras, Muslims—so many sights and sounds flashed by that it’s bewildering to even remember them all. It’s good to be back in our quiet asrama with a peaceful day ahead and then another.
Srila Prabhupada tells us we cannot be God. We can create a playful sputnik and throw it into outer space, but only God can create countless huge planets and spin them in their orbits. Man cannot become God but he can attain seventy-eight percent of His qualities in part. Narada advised Vyasa to expand on this idea in Srimad Bhagavatam. Mankind needs to accept the supremacy of the Lord.
This kind of preaching on Lord Krsna’s behalf was Srila Prabhupada’s forte. He broadcast an army of topics on behalf of Lord Krsna and his spiritual master. Krsna asks that we surrender to Him and Srila Prabhupada argues that we should surrender and thus solve the world’s problems.
Srila Prabhupada’s approach does not appeal to those who will never surrender to Krsna. Srila Prabhupada did not pander to his audience. He wasn’t trying to satisfy impersonalists or nondevotees. His preaching was meant to reach the innocent, and from that audience, he won many disciples. His call was answered by thousands.
After dancing, with His body shining with perspiration and red cloth, He shone like a golden mountain gushing with an attractive red mineral waterfall in front of Jagannātha.
Constantly seeing the form of Jagannātha here and there on the road, did Gaurāṅga make each of those forms into the Lord?
After sporting in front of the chariot for a long time, Mahāprabhu entered an attractive grove, having trees with cool shade, dear to Jagannātha.
The intensely beautiful grove was crowded with fresh jasmine, kunda, karavīra, yūthika, nava-mālika, beautiful mādhavī, bakula, young mango and campaka flowers.
The ocean of mercy, flooding the universe with flashing waves of bhava, gazed intently at the three oceans of bhakti-rasa at His lotus feet – Sanātana, Anupama and Rūpa.
Approaching Mahāprabhu, like three brothers of Anubhāva, the brothers, with humble words, began to praise Him extensively with verses recited by Brahmā.
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.
Read more »
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.