“This week’s major event was a colonoscopy, which required a full bowel cleanse for twenty-four hours. Then a trip to the hospital, where they blow up the colon and run a camera all the way through. They found ten polyps, which were removed and sent to the lab for biopsies. The results should be back by Tuesday. He also did a blood test today to find out if his kidneys could handle the barium contrast in Monday’s CT scan. Satsvarupa Maharaja is still looking for the reason behind the consistent pain in his lower right abdomen. If you think this is too much information, then tell the devotees who keep writing me to say thanks for the reports.
The “News Items” section of Free Write Journal has been temporarily suspended while Guru Maharaja recuperates.
My dear Lord Krsna, please have mercy on this sinner. I want to be happy in prayer. I want to have favorite prayers, but most important is what You want. My dear Lord Krsna, I am not the center of the universe or even the center of my prayers. Even to say that I am little is not the point. You are everything, and I just have to be Your servant. Simultaneously, I feel that I am benefiting from reading the last conversations of St. Therese, and yet realizing more that I should try to hear regularly the pastimes of Krsna as in the KRSNA book.
If someone asks me why I think it is important to pray aside from chanting Hare Krsna, I will say just to hear the holy name is fine, but how do you hear? For example, when you hear a car going by, you don’t care for it. So I am always distracted when I chant the holy name. I want to improve. I realize intellectually that even inattentive chanting is valuable, but I have been chanting for a couple of decades and more. I don’t know about your chanting, but mine is full of distraction. I have also heard that one should be patient and that one is actually close to Krsna if you keep trying, even without consolations. Well, that’s nice to hear, but it does seem that I should, at the same time I am being patient, invest my energy not for seeking consolations, but to try to become actually conscious. Pray to Krsna and think of Krsna with quality, with value, with meaning, rather than without those things. Pray with attention and with devotion, and that takes some effort. That is why I am investing time in this. If I can come to the stage of just feeling myself very humble, chanting and only hearing the name of the Lord and quietly within praying to Him, then that will be fine and I will keep going in that way.
I have not been so successful yet in trying to pray in my own thoughts and words aside from chanting Hare Krsna. I still think it is worthy, though, and therefore I am reading about it, trying to enter the sincere mood of feeling lowly and feeling some communication with Krsna so that I can talk to Him and think about Him all the time according to the standard scriptures and in my own heart.
Nevertheless, there are still problems such as, “Do I pray to Krsna, or do I pray to Prabhupada? How can I be so presumptuous as to talk to Krsna all day long?” In my mind I turn to Prabhupada. I tell him, “My dear Srila Prabhupada, I learned about Krsna in this way. Do you approve it? Please accept it. I want to show you that prayer is making me a better devotee of Krsna.” Then I think Prabhupada would say, “Then it is all right.” He doesn’t need to read St. Therese, but he says, “If you say it helps you, then it is all right. I want to see, though, that it makes you a more inspired devotee of the sankirtana movement, chanting and hearing Hare Krsna, Hare Krsna, Krsna Krsna, Hare Hare/ Hare Rama, Hare Rama, Rama Rama, Hare Hare.”
Happiness by touch senses is not real happiness. It is the miseries that come from the body. I am actually spirit soul. The yogis enjoy real happiness that doesn’t end. (Prabhupada continually quotes Sanskrit interspersed with his English.) One who is able to tolerate sex urges (can attain happiness). A man with a disease is told by the doctor to stop taking solid food. He does so, and he is cured. We have to stop sense pleasure. It is done by training. One trains as a brahmacari, vanaprastha and sannyasi. One has to go to the transcendental position of Krsna consciousness. One has to tolerate, and then he will reach happiness which has no end. Srila Prabhupada quotes the verse by Rsabhadeva . . . tapo divyam.
Rsabhadeva said the human form of life is not meant for eating like a hog (stool, etc.). By tapasya your existence must become purified, and then you can experience brahma saukhyam. Material happiness exists only for a few seconds. It is a diseased state. We must take to spiritual life. “I am not this body.” It is experienced within. Nirvana. We are suffering the reactions of sinful life. Anyone, no matter how well off or educated he is, is suffering reactions from his past life. We have to practice sense control. Then the fever diminishes.
There is a story of a householder who called the doctor in to treat his feverish wife. The doctor said the wife had a temperature of ninety-eight degrees, and it wasn’t so serious. The doctor also took the temperature of the maidservant. It was one hundred four degrees, and the doctor said she should be cared for. When the wife heard this, she said, “I am the head of this household! How can my servant have a one hundred and four degree temperature, while I have only a ninety-eight degree? You are not a real doctor.” So we want to increase our temperature to one hundred seven, and die. The atom bomb is there. Decrease sensual enjoyment.
We don’t decry modern civilization. It has to be engaged and applied in its proper use. The Gosvamis have preached yukta-vairagya. Transfer the matter into spirit. It is like putting iron in fire, and gradually the iron becomes fire. You will become very happy, no lamenting. Use things in Krsna consciousness. The Mayavadis decry matter and say, “It is material,” but we don’t decry. The example is Arjuna. In the beginning he didn’t want to fight. That was his sense gratification. But when he learned from Krsna, he gave up his sense gratification and fought for Krsna.
Don’t decry. Use everything in Krsna consciousness. Satisfy the sense of Krsna.
The impersonalists say that God is not a person but that He is impersonal. This is not true, God is not senseless.
In the Bhagavad-gita it is taught that kama and krodha, lust and anger, are the great enemies. How to get free from them? Again, Arjuna is the example. He became free from lust. Great sages attain this. The example is lord Jesus Christ. While he was being crucified, he forgave his persecutors and said, “They do not know what they are doing.”
We can be free. We can attain brahma-nirvana. The yogis control breathing. It is better to go direct in Krsna consciousness.
On floor in here, tourist
folder for islands of Ireland. I don’t
want to take a currach to get to one.
Just stay in that house in south
or here. Quiet. Examine your mind—
empty of emotion.
Me, me, O little twinge. Read
Bhagavatam, then Migraine:
Everything You Need to Know, written
by a conservative, up-to-date RN who says
never overuse meds but doesn’t say
what to do. Little
paragraphs on alternatives,
one on T.M., one on yoga (not bhakti).
That Indian eye doctor asked me, “Do
you meditate or pray when you get a headache?”
What could I say? No, I didn’t think
I should. I just
Hare Krsna, Hare Krsna and fall silent.
I depend on His mercy
to take me.
Walked to the shed in green
rain pants—they will see that this
sannyasi doesn’t always wear his
official orange skirt.
The door was locked. I leaned
against the shed awhile and felt
pressure (like atmospheric clouds?)
in my head. Then walked back.
A mataji outside her camper—
can’t help her but
Back here with a stiff neck.
The quiet grows with the awareness
that I have no
prayer, not even any awareness but
to read. Bhaktivinoda Thakura’s purport
to atyaharah—so sensible, “Don’t do too much
or too little, and do it all for Krsna.” Yes, I say,
that I can do.
What, man, next? What, man, what? I have to follow
my own schedule propped up with med.
“There’s no R (relief) without D (damage),”
wrote one migraine sufferer.
Well, I feel pretty good now
on my way to a hot-cold shower and
lunch while hearing krsna-katha.
Bored, excited . . . Madhava told me
what books of mine are coming out.
I’m grateful. I don’t like cynical,
godless poetry. It would be nice if
we had Krsna conscious poets and artists and dancers and
could mingle like we did when young,
and feel we were authorized although
daring, free, experimenting . . .
But Krsna knows best. He’s fast and slow.
We have to die anyway. My brain can’t function
unless He wills. Got the philosophy
straight. But I skipped a
morning reading of Srimad-Bhagavatam
just too demanding—so
I wrote to you saying the grass out
my window and the peninsula of
Geaglum is delicious to see. It’s my
speed just to sit and sit
until my piles itch, unsentimental,
but spiritually inclined.
Two days later Chip Swami sent an e-mail to the spiritual warrior (Bhakti-Tirtha Swami), as follows:
“Dear BTS, intimate brother and spiritual warrior, please accept my humble obeisances. All glories to Srila Prabhupada.
“When I was with you, there were things I could have asked you that are harder to ask in a letter, but time is short. I want to ask for clarification of what you meant when you said your body is feeling miserable but you are feeling very close to Prabhupada and Krsna. Could you please tell me more of the nature of your feeling close to them, since I so much desire this myself. Do they talk to you? Do you just feel more their presence? Is it a greater confidence that they are waiting to take you? Anything of this sort that you would be willing to tell me, I would be grateful to hear.
“Although you said to Patni, ‘Vasudeva Datta I ain’t,’ you told me that you made your prayer for increased potency so that you could decrease the suffering of all people in your preaching, and you prayed that the Lord do whatever He need to do to make you more potent. This seemed to include your willingness to take on peoples’ karma, as well as to take away your own karma at once. As I told you, I fully approve of this mighty sacrifice, and we discussed how it is practiced in many religions. But it is in the mood of Vasudeva Datta, is it not? I don’t think that there is anything to be ashamed of. Have those who have been criticizing you made you change your prayer to say, ‘It is not in the mood of Vasudeva Datta?’ I feel I need to know this before you go so that it is clear in my mind what you are doing.
“But your motives are grave, and if you do not wish to share them with me, I will have to accept that. At any rate, I love you, and I believe that you are going to Krsna and Prabhupada, and I believed you when you said you are preparing a place for me. I hope we will have time for further exchanges on this earthly plane, and even after you are gone.
“With love, your slow brother,
Although he was in no physical condition to return e-mails, he wrote me right away before heading for his final resting place of Gita Nagari. He appreciated the time that we spent together. He answered my questions and said that Prabhupada has different ways to make himself available to his special servants:
“Some of them need to see the physical presence of Srila Prabhupada from time to time, and so he will flash in and out to give some solace and messages. Some will feel or hear him speak to them through his murti. For many, Srila Prabhupada will give his association through dreams or visions. Others will make the special connection through prayer. Some will feel solace and encouragement from tapes and books in a very special way, and for others, Srila Prabhupada will communicate with them through someone else. I am personally familiar with all of these cases that I have mentioned. Throughout my illness, I have tried the best I can to fully offer my body to Srila Prabhupada’s service. . . . ” (To Be Continued)
The villagers are well aware of the different pastimes of Krsna associated with these parikramas. They don’t perform the parikrama as an austerity to get something in return. They walk simply because it’s time to walk around Vrindaban and Mathura. That’s the Vrindaban culture.
Lighting a candle
under a banyan tree
just before dawn.
A white Brahma cow
stands facing passersby—
End of Karttik:
doing better than usual.
Seller of sacred pictures
lies down lazily
beside his wares.
Camped in the dust
A Vrindaban pilgrim
spices his tikkia. *
Radio and pet monkey
Last visits: We leave at 5:30 in the morning by rickshaw. The sky is full of stars and cold at this hour. We avoid the dogs and hogs and hear the people chant. Our driver, Nitai, rings his bell, and as if in response, a person on foot begins singing a song of Krsna. A man on a bicycle passes us singing of the Yamuna and Shyam. We follow his bicycle down dark alleys, over big ruts in the road, past shopkeepers opening their shops by kerosene light. . . .
Lighting a flame,
floating it on the Yamuna
“Vrindaban-dham ki jaya!”
Japa on the ghat,
a V of ducks go by
in the smokey blue sky.
offering a flame
to the Yamuna.
in a ghat-side temple.
On the street leading to the Bankabihari temple, the stones have been worn smooth by the feet of thousands of visitors. Within a few hours the entire temple will be filled with cheer¬ing devotees of Bankabihari.
leading to the temple—
this morning’s cold air.
In the empty temple,
my abstract words,
cooing in the rafters.
Dear Srila Prabhupada, yesterday I began this Smaranam project of talking to you, which I hope I can do twice a day, fifteen minutes each formal setting, and as it becomes natural I can do it more often. I want to speak to the inner Prabhupada although I can hear you saying there’s no difference between inner Prabhupada and outer Prabhupada. But when we’re out of the habit of doing this kind of talking, it takes a concentration of will to go from the outer duties of life to think within. Some devotees are always living with you by virtue of their dedication to your mission through one of your temples or protecting your movement, preaching your movement in various ways. I like to think I’m also doing that, but I want to be able to talk with you in separation from you.
I want to thank you for giving us all Krsna consciousness by your coming to the West and taking so much time to travel everywhere and give your devotees a perfect example of dedication to a movement for Krsna consciousness, a society of Krsna consciousness and to what individual practice of it is. You gave such an example of being absorbed in the philosophy and preaching it. You gave an example of being compassionate. Your compassion sometimes took the form of anger towards the mudhas, the nondevotees who don’t accept Krsna, and those who even directly try to stop others from taking to Krsna consciousness. You preached to them with logic and scripture. Those who came to you, you took individual care of them and you certainly did that for me from when I first came to you in 1966 in New York City, 26 Second Avenue.
So I want to thank you for that example you gave us and a mission that you gave us how to stay clear of the vices of Kali-yuga and to become followers of Bhagavad-gita and Srimad-Bhagavatam. There was no chance of that for us by our birth and upbringing, but only when you came to give us Krsna’s message.
Prabhupada I still have misgivings and doubts that hold me back. As far as I can see there’s no question of my leaving your service, but maya is very strong and even that could happen. She could take me away. We have to be very serious you always said, to show maya that we don’t want her anymore. Otherwise you give her just a little indication, and she’ll take you away. But even if I stay in this movement there’s still a question of not just being a freeloader or not just dragging my heels. There’s, of course, still a question of whether I can go back to Godhead in this life and if not how much progress I can make in this lifetime. So I’m praying Prabhupada.
As I pray today at this little table, I’m looking out the window. Usually all we see is the calm (or rough) lake in wintertime—no boats, just a couple of swans. But today somehow there’s a small but strong red tugboat pulling a barge. I feel like that barge, and you’re like the tugboat. You’re leaving a powerful wake off the stern of the tug due to the mighty engine, and the reluctant black barge moves along slowly in the water. But why should you have to pull like that, I should by now be pulling other boats.
I want to thank you Prabhupada for giving us Krsna and giving me so many opportunities to serve you including this one of being able to talk with you to clear my mind of bad things.
“Now in old age, deprived of all means of success, humbled and poor, Bhaktivinoda submits his tale of grief at the feet of the Supreme Lord.” The word “humbled” in this verse is significant. He is forced to his knees. It’s not a humility that he has arrived at by natural thought. He hasn’t voluntarily decided that humility is useful and should be cultured. Old age has taken away the illusion which fostered pride in false ego and possessions. This kind of humility can be as genuine as any other. We also know from the Bhagavatam verse, yasyaham anugrhnami, that it is Lord Krsna who humbles the devotee by crushing his material life. The humbled man is humble. He grieves not simply because he has lost his money, beauty, and sexual power, but because he has been pursing an illusion of material happiness. He weeps because he has wasted his life and not worshiped the all-attractive Supreme Lord.
This is true of me to some degree, but I can’t see it. Externally I wear saffron, carry my danda, follow the four rules, and worship Govinda by the topmost religious process, harinama sankirtana. But internally I am not a Vaisnava. I lead a subtle version of a life of illusion. I appear to be religiously successful. When I confess my wrongs, I don’t feel bad.
I try to skip over remorse and go straight to the nectar of remembering Krsna’s pastimes. Who wants to dwell in the cesspool of bad thoughts, self-recrimination? Rise up!
But you can’t rise. You still chant with inattention. The jaundice, the avidya, is still on your tongue. You have to first feel remorse. “I am destroyed by my own greed, and I am always lustful.” If we don’t admit that this applies to us, then it will hold us back. If we don’t admit it, we will be stuck with our lack of humility and our dishonesty. Are we not poor? Have we even exhausted (akiñcana) our material desires? Submit your tale of grief at the feet of the Supreme Lord.
Bhaktivinoda Thakura is knocking at the door of our self-esteem, so we prefer to admire his songs from a distance. We don’t want to get too involved. We’re positive thinkers. We only want to hear nectar. If requested, we are willing to go through a few songs of theoretical grief, but don’t expect us full-grown men and women to get down on our knees and cry. No sir, we don’t grovel, never.
I’m not a sinner, so why should I pretend I am? Thus Satsvarupa dasa admits his tale of unsurrender and unfeeling. He never cried, and saw no wrong in himself. Thus he could not understand why Bhaktivinoda Thakura sang these songs about himself.
Spare us the details. Our way is easy. It’s Krsna’s grace on us. Lord Caitanya assured us that harinama would be the easiest method of God realization in this age, and we have already been saved from the worst.
Our sense of ease may be a testimony of Prabhupada’s compassion on us—this honest telling about ourselves, that we feel good, that we’re okay, that we have been saved from the worst effects of karma. We recognize our little miseries as token karma. We have given up gross sin. Jaya! Victory over material hell. Aren’t we wearing Vaisnava tilaka? We are righteous, up early receiving the Lord’s darsana.
This is all true, but it doesn’t negate the other. Why don’t we cry for service? Why don’t we cry that we can’t chant suddha-nama? Why aren’t we even sorry? Why are we so complacent?
Bhaktivinoda Thakura’s song is being sung before God. It is a summation of his ruined life. He did not write these songs with any other audience in mind, although he has allowed us to hear him.
If you have purchased a ticket for an intermediate station, you cannot go all the way to California. If you want to go to Goloka Vrndavana, you have to worship Him. What is the difference in that planet? The supreme planet is that from which one never returns. In the material world, even if you go up to the higher planets, you have to come down. Just as we are changing different dresses or bodies, similarly, we transfer to different planets. We should try to go to that planet from which you never come back. Those who worship the Supreme Lord go to Him. They will never come to this place of miseries. At the time of death, whatever my mental condition is will determine my next body. Practice thinking of Krsna for the time of death. If we want to transform, then like an apprentice, we have to practice. A good student is already guaranteed to pass and go back to Godhead.
How to perform Krsna consciousness? Make friends with Krsna. If you want to make connection with someone great, you have to prepare a relationship. We have to prepare love of God. We can’t claim anything without love. There are six principles of loving exchange. You give something; you take something; you give something to eat; and you take something to eat; you disclose your mind; and you receive your friend’s confidential mind. We worship God in that way. We offer to God, patram puspam phalam toyam. We offer God a leaf, a flower, fruit, and water. These things are available universally, even to the poorest person. But they must be offered with devotion.
Seeing Krsna in person
with the eyes is the perfection
of spiritual life, say the
agents of Vaikuntha.
It’s the goal of the nine processes
of devotional service: hearing, chanting, etc.
You can do it in this body
by His karunya-sakti, mercy-
bliss and by devotional service.
It’s better than meditation in
the mind, it’s been attained by
Prahlada, Brahma, and others. I
will agree. I will long for the
glimpse of His lotus feet, His hips,
His chest and arms, His smiling
face with pearl-like teeth, His
Seeing Krsna is the goal,
and you can do it in this
I’ve written many books, so if they ask me, I could write a book. I’d like to write a book about Radha and Krsna, but I’m not qualified. There is a book, though— Srimad-Bhagavatam. And there are books by the Six Gosvamis that tell about the way Radha and Krsna walk and whisper and look. It tells how They met in a way that the world will never forget. The simple secret of the plot is just to tell the people that They love each other a lot. Then the world discovers, as the book ends, how to make two lovers of friends. If they ask me, I could write a book about my days in Krsna consciousness. My struggles. It wouldn’t be so wonderful, but it would be true. And I’m writing that book. It’s telling how I chant and how I hear and how I try to serve my spiritual master. As the book ends, I’m not sure how I wind up. I try to approach the two Lovers in the spiritual world. The end of my book will have to be discovered at the end of my life.
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.