Free Write Journal #282


Free Write Journal #282

February 2, 2024

Satsvarupa Maharaja’s Weekly Health Report for February 2

“The visiting nurse stopped by this week and decided to prescribe in-house physical therapy. Satsvarupa Maharaja’s joints and back have been bothering him due to the Upstate New York weather and sedentary lifestyle. The hardware came to fix his loose dentures. Now it remains to be seen if it helps or not, since more than likely there’s been bone and gum loss over the years. No one ever said that going to the forest at the end of your life like this would be a piece of cake.

“Hari Hari,

Japa Retreat Journal for 2/2/24

Japa Quotes from Before It’s Too Late (An upcoming publication of GN Press)

  • When we die, we will think of Krsna if He allows us. Death is so difficult that we lose all self-control. Therefore, before it’s too late, let us chant and hear the best pastimes. We certainly want to think of Krsna as God (not as less than God). But we don’t want to study too much in that direction, concluding that Krsna is the goal of philosophy, the Creator, the Maintainer, the explanation, the original cause . . . He is Krsna the son of Nanda and Yasoda. He is God, and therefore He lifted Govardhana Hill and easily killed Aghasura. The cowherd men discussed this—whether Krsna is God—and couldn’t reach a conclusion. So they went and asked Nanda Maharaja. He told them what Gargamuni had said at Krsna’s name-giving ceremony. This child is on the level of Narayana.But let us hear how He plays with the gopas and especially with the gopis, chief of whom is Srimati Radharani. Then the thought of Bhagavan will fade and the nectar of Krsna, the beloved Gopala, will become prominent in our every thought and deed.
    At that time, we will offer arati to Krsna with our tears. No special mantras will be needed. But in love, both by union and in separation, we will cry out Hare Krsna Hare Krsna, Krsna Krsna Hare Hare/Hare Rama Hare Rama, Rama Rama Hare Hare.


  • Dim is my chanting, dim and faint my emotion for Krsna. Sorrow—very little. Still, I go on.


  • For now we hear krsna-lila for about an hour a day. Our japa is another two or three hours which should be spent in weeping The teachings of the acaryas—Gaurakisora dasa Babaji, Bhaktivinoda Thakura, Rupa Gosvami, and our Srila Prabhupada can all be reconciled. Let us encourage our own attraction to hearing about the Lord. We have waited many lifetimes to develop it.


  • 5:50 A.M.
    When I went to the beach this morning, the tide was out. We walked and chanted japa, the three of us. There was a lot of wide beach to walk on. If we can accumulate japa rounds, that’s a solid way to gradually climb over the heap of inattention. The skies start clearing. We sacrifice for chanting and give up other things. Nowadays it’s more learning the art of concentrating within limited periods, learning to balance, like the women carrying three jugs stacked on their heads while walking gracefully.


  • Up early in Bombay, six japa rounds on the dark balcony. Say goodbye to the self you were, to the life you spent here which has already gone down a river of time and days and faces. You took in krsna-katha; now try to let it out gracefully.


  • Hare Krsna mornings, regulated devotees in the temple room filled with chanters of The hours go by, mantras pass. Are all minds under control? Somewhat. You can laugh at us, “They sound like a bunch of turkeys gobbling”—and some of us nodding off, asleep, but we are doing something wonderful. Srila Prabhupada quotes his spiritual master, Srila Bhaktisiddhanta Sarasvati Thakura:

    “The neophyte Vaisnava devotees’ ringing the bell even once during worship of the Deity of the Supreme Lord is a million times more valuable, spiritually and otherwise, then the charitable fruitive workers building many hospitals, feeding thousands of the poor, or building homes, or even the empirical philosophers’ Vedic studies, meditation, austerities, and penances”(Renunciation Through Wisdom, pp. 102-103)


  • Go out, go in, the japa The first rays of dawn. Nowadays it’s so cold you are afraid to be on the roof at that time. But when sunshine appears, then you seek it out, eager to bask and be warmed in the only heating system available in Vrndāvana, the sun. We read a commentary by Jiva Gosvami about the Hare Krsna mantra. He said it cultivates feelings of Radha in separation from Krsna, and that’s why Lord Caitanya Mahaprabhu chanted the holy names in the form of the maha-mantra. One might ask, “Why not chant directly the names Radha, Radha, Krsna Krsna? Why the more indirect maha-mantra?” But Jiva Gosvami says it carries the inner meaning of vipralambha.
    Srila Prabhupada distributed this separation-from-Krsna mantra all over the world.


  • I chanted japa on the drive to Mathura., I wish I could chant the Lord’s names in ecstasy. Srila Prabhupada writes in Krsna book that when the gopis were searching for Krsna, they all came together and wandered into the forest until it became too dense and dark to go further. “In this way, all the gopis assembled together on the bank of the Yamuna, and expecting that Krsna must return to them, they simply engaged in chanting the glories of Sri Krsna—Hare Krsna Hare Krsna, Krsna Krsna Hare Hare/Hare Rama Hare Rama, Rama Rama Hare Hare.” To be able to link our bare sixteen rounds of the maha-mantra to sentiments like that
    Not yet, but that’s what we want.


  • Because we are tiny and maya is strong, we may, in some extreme situation, fail to keep our vrata, our vow. Lord Krsna will overlook that and consider that we are still His truthful servant, as long as we are sorry for our falldown and act to rectify it.


  • Krsna, You are here in these sacred places. We have no guide; we can’t find You. We don’t know what pastimes You performed in this place. All of Vraja is filled with the places of Your lila; You walked and played here, no doubt. Now it’s covered over. We are walking and chanting Hare Krsna here, hoping that something will be conveyed to us by the earth, trees, air, animals, and temples, and even by the seemingly ordinary people riding by on their ox-drawn carts or on their bicycles.


  • Going out means being impressed with the near and dear practice of chanting the holy name. Everything unfolds beyond our control. Will the ticket agent lose our passports? Will he get to the airlines too late to secure our tickets to Bombay? “No,” he says, “don’t worry. No problem.” It is beyond our control. We can only choose to chant.


From Human at Best

p. 4

Shoes tied on tight, he made it all the way down the road. He was making tiny steps fast and clicking off Hare Krsna mantras.


Me and you. Come on,
play mrdanga and karatalas and
leave the room if it
gets too noisy, just feel
free to be yourself.

Can’t even sing kirtana I
get so fragile.

Boy that’s some guitar
the young boys stood agape
watching the adults and
seeing which the baby
touched book or money.

“She touched both!” he said and
she also touched the harmonium
and the rug, her mouth, spoon,
anything in her wake.
And we were pleased to include
her as a member of the clan.

How is your heart? Cardiac or Krsna conscious, do you mean? Krsna conscious.

Oh, it’s in the right place, but still in a dark night of the soul. The Lord isn’t giving me “consolations,” as the Christians say. Isn’t giving me special graces.

Why say that, ingrate! You’ve got everything you asked for. That’s Krsna rewarding. Now if you want His confidential service, you’ll have to ask for it, and sacrifice all else.

Hmmm. Good night. Enough for one day. To the land of waiting for sleep, and near dreams and dreams. Please protect me.

“Oh, that’s another thing I wanted to say,” I said to the subpersons who looked at me earnestly yet casually under the mosquito net . . . “I see myself as a person with various interests. I want to preach, but I also want to write poems. I’m also interested in Vedic philosophy, and I like to read Srila Prabhupada’s books. How to integrate into an entire person when I am put into a situation where I can only act on one of these interests?”


I painted a sincere näive portrait of
Prabhupada, first drawn in pencil, then
filled in tan, then a simple square-headed
Oriental cat. Wrote “Nitai-pada-kamala
below the cat and thought of a wild,
inarticulate ball of yarn unraveling—a painting
I wanted to see—a lion with a broad nose, roaring.

Then drew the Oldest Man and his house
his disciples built him despite his protest, “I
won’t live long.” Ani says devotees hit
the streets at 10 P.M. tonight and by midnight
plunge into New Year’s Eve bell-ringing
Cathedral crowds and the tense scene, possible
fights. I’ll be here in Wicklow where
I don’t expect to hear a single gunshot,
even a shout or the mooing of a cow
just me getting up and scraping my chair
against the floor
drawing lions that roar
and calm cats ushering in
a new year of hope.

I like to explode into color
if my head holds up
in the afternoons.
Creatures live in me, waiting
to be born. I don’t want to create
like Brahma, yet asuras attack me
and I have to throw off my body, paint a Balarama-
Nitai to deal with them and a simple
student’s rendition of Srila Prabhupada in
seven layers etched, the same
one again and again.

I don’t think having varied interests makes me less of a devotee, but I have to be honest about that. When I lecture and tend to disciples, it is, we might say, my religion. But there is more to me than that.

Rain again, and that familiar sound. Alive on earth. Newly made paints now standing in jars, delivered by Hare Krsna dasi—they appeared suddenly in the art room this morning. Shall I take that as an invitation to go in there and use them? Why not?

For the glory of Krsna,
I’ll go into the art room
and play Prabhupada bhajanas
while creatures creep onto
the page with those
Sanskrit letters, sure enough.

From Nimai and the Mouse: A Fable

pp. 41-43

“The relationship between Nimai and the mouse was like nectar. In many ways, the mouse was an ideal disciple. Nimai convinced Chota dasa to bathe twice daily, which was more than Nimai himself bathed. He also taught the mouse to count a quota (by a method of pushing pieces of straw) for chanting the Hare Krsna mantra.

Nimai was just finishing his last round of japa before going up for a scheduled meeting with Chota dasa. Even while chanting the holy names, his mind had raced ahead, preparing for what he would speak this morning. He decided to instruct Chota on the importance of attentive chanting. He would admit, “I am preaching to you, but I am also preaching to myself.” Nimai liked to keep his relationship with Chota open and honest. Their friendship continued to amaze him. He’d never heard, even in scripture, of an ordinary brahmacari conversing with a subhuman creature and instructing him in Krsna consciousness. “Why has Krsna arranged it so this has happened to me?” Nimai thought. And sometimes he wondered if it was really very significant. Many devotees were meeting hundreds of humans every day. Although some of the humans were like animals, it was much more significant to preach to the humans. What about the injunction to “Tell everyone you meet about Krsna”—did that include subhumans? When Nimai thought like this, it bewildered and discouraged him, so he usually put it aside. “Even if what I am doing is not so significant,” Nimai thought, “still it’s the preaching field assigned to me.”

With a humble sense of his mission, Nimai climbed the stairs to the attic, rehearsing in his mind the lecture that he would deliver in a moment. But his heart leaped when Butch, the temple cat, suddenly brushed past him, and streaked upstairs into the attic. Nimai was only a few seconds behind the cat, but it was too late. Chota had come out from hiding on hearing the sounds of Nimai’s approach, and no sooner did the white tomcat rush into the room than he saw the mouse and pounced upon it. Nimai saw his beloved friend clawed and then popped into the mouth of the cat. Nimai shouted and kicked the cat, knocking him against the wall and dislodging the mouse. Butch raised his back and snarled as if to attack Nimai, who then kicked the cat like a football across the room. With an agonized glance towards Chota, Nimai saw that he was dead.

As the brahmacaris were running up the stairs, the tomcat shrieked and streaked past them. Bhima and several teenage boys entered the room where Nimai was sobbing. Tears streamed from his eyes as he knelt holding the body of the mouse.

“The cat got the mouse!” said one of the boys. “Nimai’s pet mouse!”

“Get out of here!” Nimai yelled.

“Take it easy,” said Bhima.

“Why did you kick Butch?” The teenager who used to be called Krsna dasa, but who was now known as Carl, gave Nimai a shove. “Hey Nimai, why did you hit Butch?”

With blind grief Nimai put the mouse aside and jumped to attack Carl. The two of them locked into wrestling grips and fell to the floor punching. Carl got in a good sock at Nimai’s eye before more men arrived, including Vibhu dasa, who separated Nimai and Carl. Vibhu demanded an explanation, but Nimai picked up the body of Chota and pushed past the others out of the room. He was sobbing like one whose best friend has just died.

From Living with the Scriptures

pp. 108-110

Things Undertaken Without Krsna Fail

“You are writing a book?” Srila Prabhupada asked me. I sat before him in his room within the Detroit mansion. This was in June 1976. If I had been startled when Prabhupäda’s servant awoke me at 10:00 p.m., I was even more surprised to come before Srila Prabhupada and hear him ask me if I was writing a book. My first response was shame and fear. I thought Srila Prabhupada was now going to reprimand me for my audacity in daring to write a book. Srila Prabhupada’s gaze was loving but exposed all sham.

“Yes ,” I confessed, “I wrote that book Readings in Vedic Literature.”

“That book is completed,” said Srila Prabhupada with a gesture, and then I realized he was not going to reprimand me. “I want you to write another book,” he said. “It should be about why things undertaken without Krsna fail.” I nodded with eager expectation and clutched for the little notebook in my kurta pocket. Srila Prabhupada explained that in India the government had recently planned to build an ideal city, but now the whole scheme had collapsed as a farce. It had failed for lack of Krsna consciousness. There were similar examples. I could write a book about it.

“Like the U.N.?” I asked, hoping to catch his idea. Prabhupada had often given the example that the U.N.’s purpose was to preserve peace and unity among nations, but since their formation there had been continuous wars, and instead of creating world unity, “simply the flags outside the U.N. are always increasing.”

Srila Prabhupada replied, “Yes, that is another example.”

“And Gandhi?” I asked. Prabhupäda responded to that by speaking further about Gandhi. He said that at the end of his life Gandhi felt all of his plans for nonviolence, national unity, and the promotion of village culture had been thwarted. The talk then enlarged to criticism of the world leaders, who are actually asuras, and who harass people unnecessarily in the name of government. He said that real government should be isavasya, God-centered, but in the Kali-yuga the leaders would become so oppressive that eventually people would abandon civilized living due to droughts and too much tax, and they would go and live in the hills. It was the devotees’ duty, said Srila Prabhupada, to point out the real purpose of life, but when we do so they say they are not interested. They take it as religion, whereas they are interested in economic development. And yet whatever they attempt they fail, because they are without Krsna.

After an hour of related discussion, Srila Prabhupada told me to go take rest. I thanked him and went to lie down on the floor of our mobile home parked outside the temple. But it was hard to sleep now. I was thrilled at being called by Srila Prabhupada for a late, private darsana and being asked to write a book. The writing project reminded me of a similar assignment I had heard Srila Prabhupada give to his disciple Bhagavan Goswami when Prabhupada was in Italy and then France in 1974. During several morning walks Srila Prabhupada had described how various problems of the world could be solved by the application of Krsna consciousness. On the topic of international terrorism, Prabhupada said that people should not expect to do away with terrorism as long as the vast majority of human beings were behaving as animals. On the subject of divorce, Srila Prabhupada humorously remarked, “Don’t get married. Remain brahmacari. That is the solution.” Even at that time I had wished that Prabhupada had given me the assignment of writing the book, and now, years later, he had turned to me also.

From Reading Reform: Srila Prabhupada’s Plan for the Daily Reading of His Books

pp. 47-49

Srila Prabhupada’s Books Are Sufficient, and Outside Reading Is Not Recommended


“Practical devotion is the secret to understanding the sastra… For one who is not engaged in devotional, service, reading all of the books is simply like licking the outside of the honey jar… If we can simply understand one book, or one sloka, then perfection is there. Lord Caitanya warned about reading too many books, although I see in America this is very popular to get volumes and volumes of books, and not understand one.”—(Letter to Pradyumna, February 17, 1968)


To understand Prabhupada’s books, one must serve Prabhupada’s mission. Reading the books without offering practical service is like licking the outside of the honey jar. The real taste comes by serving, and to serve nicely one must regularly read Prabhupada’s books.

Pradyumna had written to Prabhupada asking permission to read books by S. K. Ghosa, Veder Pancaya, Bon Maharaja, and others. Prabhupada does not permit his disciples to read such books, nor does Jiva Goswami advise non-parampara reading. One should read Prabhupada‘s books from a desire to serve.


“Yes, reading my books will help you. Philosophy must be there. But if you do not also apply the philosophy by participating in all temple affairs like rising early, attending mangala-arati, performing devotional, service, then simply learning the philosophy will have no effect.” (Letter to Dayananda, July 7, 1972)


Devotional service moves on two tracks, pancaratriki viddhi and bhagavata viddhi. Pancaratriki viddhi refers to Deity worship and other temple activities; bhagavata viddhi activity refers to studying and preaching the philosophy. Both are required. Elsewhere in the letter quoted above, Srila Prabhupada asks Dayananda to travel to San Francisco with his family and to take over the duties of temple president. To receive the top Krsna conscious realization, one must accept such full engagement while also studying the books.

Reading maybe thought of as a kind of reward for a hard day’s service. Krsna reveals Himself to us when our service pleases Him. But if we study the books without trying to please him, Krsna will not reveal the actual meaning to us. As Krsna says in Bhagavad-gita,

tesam satata-yuktanam
bhajatam priti-purvakam
dadami buddhi-yogam tam
yena mam upayante te

“To those who are constantly devoted to serving me with love, I give the understanding by which they can come to Me (Bg. 10. 10).

The Krsna consciousness movement is spreading to every town and village through the distribution of Srila Prabhupada’s books. For the millions of people who are first introduced to Krsna consciousness through those books, reading may be their sole engagement. There are even people in some communist and other politically oppressed countries who read Prabhupada’s books at the risk of their lives. Such reading constitutes full devotional service. Eventually, however, further kinds of engagement become possible through the association of devotees. Simply by reading Prabhupada’s purports, one soon sees the importance of spreading Krsna consciousness. Within the home, the reading of Prabhupada’s books should be accompanied by other devotional activities such as holding kirtana, offering prasadam, following the four regulative principles, and guiding the family numbers in Krsna consciousness.

From Kaleidoscope

Pursuing the Promise

(I’m back at Geaglum where I began the ItM and the EJW and asking it to change, to stop, am I to change?)

It could be so that
you promise something and
it kept coming

You promised and Krsna didn’t have to
but He did to
tiny you in your dry
period when you
walked in the desert
of hopes crying
“I don’t have much time”
please Lord tell me how I’m going to end this

driving up here to North
Ireland I saw the Omega
Nursing Home
what about life after
death? What about
Krsna sonics and
His gentle smiles,
the clouds that
protected Him and
the cowherd boys
all blew their flutes
in a concert.


I want to know the
answer. Shaman said
call out and make an

Prabhupada will
reconcile. You have to
do things besides uh…
pray or write

if there’s no taste,
no shape then how
can you expect
the One Big Book of
Your Life
to be the
right on thing Krsna
wants you to do?

Pray I don’t know
how. But I’m feeling
a little better –

chestnuts from a year
ago line the window sill
here in this lakeside shed
and I will not
abandon the
path full of
grass and deer
as it is

a black and white
sheen dog of middle
size and middle age woman holding
japa beads with more zest probably
for hari-nama
than I.


God is a cowherd boy
He’s sleeping in my room.
I can’t sleep,
let me get back to bed though,
monk with uncontrolled
when he sleeps.


I know how it goes you
write about yourself

He writes about Lord Krsna.
The men who work
hard are praised

not the singer. Wait a
minute, stop this. Stop
this and if you’ll please
turn your attention

in the direction of the speed-
boats, if you look very
closely you’ll see an

eclipse of the sun fifty per cent
but better you not look at all
except at the
striving grass

and the clocks and
calendars and pill


(It’s all fiction as far as I’m concerned
one boat pulling another through the water.)

Let’s break those lines men
the people deserve a break.
Tragic story, a tear rolled
down cheek.

Ah finally I saw what I wanted,
a water skier, people foolin’
around, no more wars.

And the lecturer says you
think you are this body, this
is a great mistake when you
look in the mirror.

Why didn’t I enjoying hearing
that truth? After all,
he’s my brother, from Brooklyn.

I heard what I wanted,
it was an uproar.
Five thousand people…

You’re just making this up.
Yes but it could be true:
At an air show, one stunt flyer
grazed another with his plane.
I heard it from
a man selling hats there.

All right, no use trying to
get serious with you. You
don’t have the stamina and
you are a little dried out.
Even with the sastra?!
We’re surprised to hear it.


Bhakta Tim’s rowing
the boat, one of the
few brahmacarya
bodies at this lake

But others are also
brahmacaris and is
the saffron-dressed
the official sannyasi?

Bring the white lime for
tomorrow’s sports
contests, the bell to ring
at the end of a round.

Get my gear together, I
hang behind the beat like
Lester Young. I’m not
going tomorrow to see

so early when They
are right here. I am
alone. I am bad

I am self-pitying and realize
that’s no good. So
pick up and say haribol

look for Lord Krsna in
your diminishing life. A
brother said he thinks of

you and when he gets a
window on his schedule
he’ll come over here and
maybe fix you up,

maybe they are worried
I am too much alone.
Maybe it’s true. Lord
Krsna doesn’t open to
a jerk. Unless he knows
“God loves me.”


Visit here and there and then
return to your place where the wind blows
inside a cement wall
prison japa, no books allowed.


<< Free Write Journal #281

Free Write Journal #283 >>


Essays Volume 1: A Handbook for Krishna Consciousness

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.

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Essays Volume 2: Notes From the Editor: Back to Godhead 1978–1989

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.

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Essays Volume 3: Lessons from the Road

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.

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Forgetting the Audience

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…

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Last Days of the Year

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…

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Daily Compositions

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…

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Meditations & Poems

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.

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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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A narrative poem. challenging and profound, about the journey of an itinerant monk who pursues new means of self-Seeking New Land

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.

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