Free Write Journal #285


Free Write Journal #285

February 23, 2024

Satsvarupa Maharaja’s Weekly Health Report for February 23

“It was another uneventful week on the medical front. No dentist, no GI, no urology, no pulmonology, no cardiology, etc. On the other hand, I will mention, though, that the physiotherapy is progressing nicely. He did not have any headaches the last week—not even one. That’s all there is to report, and that’s a good thing.


Japa Retreat Journal for 2/23/24

Japa quotes from Radio Shows, Volume Two

Krsna, the bluish boy, the boy the color of a fresh rain cloud, who has two arms and two feet, but who is the inconceivable God of gods. Krsna speaks the Bhagavad-gita and loves Srimati Radharani, His own hladini potency. When Krsna plays and dances with the gopis, He is like a child playing with His own image in a mirror. The Hare Krsna maha-mantra contains that vision. If only we could chant it properly.


We go from one thing to another with a little vain hope, sometimes meeting someone we hope is enlightened, sometimes meeting well-wishers and altruists, but finding, in the end, that no one but guru and Krsna can save us from the pits and towers and bad neighborhoods of this world. Chant Hare Krsna with devotion. That’s the only answer.


I thought it would be nice to take a retreat—not alone, but with some devotees—in which we would agree to chant a large number of rounds. Although we would live together and share the cooking, etc., we would practice our chanting separately, as monks do when they meet but pray in separate cells.


I can’t get below the surface when I’m in pain. Instead, I chanted. I was chanting, not so much on my beads, but living the chanting, making the effort to repeat Krsna’s names. Time passed, but it didn’t matter.


Jiv jago—how to understand the depth of Prabhupada’s mood even if you can’t understand the language? Chant Hare Krsna Hare Krsna, Krsna Krsna Hare Hare.


Someone wrote me a letter: “I want to know how to go about looking for God, Maharaja. Can you tell me?” I thought it was almost a silly question to ask me. I mean, the answer is that you chant Krsna’s holy names and practice other forms of sadhana. It made me wonder whether this person was ready to pay the price of giving up all other pursuits in his search for God.


Prabhupada singing: hare krsna hare krsna, krsna krsna hare hare/ hare rama hare rama, rama rama hare hare

Prabhupada was bold, his movement is bold, so what’s wrong with me? Well, I’m just saying, chant Hare Krsna privately, or if you’ve got the moxie, then be a prominent, easily spotted member of the Hare Krsna movement. You want people to know. Because this life is a joke, a bitter joke. It’s asat. There are so many ways to say that—I like to say it in poems—but it has to be said.


Well, I made it through another radio show. I know this one was a little wild, like the weather, and I was ranting a bit. I found myself wishing I was more of a preacher. I’m not, but at least I was able to hint that if you’re a coward like me, you can still chant Krsna’s names. Of course, I realized as I spoke that it probably would have been better to drop all pretense and just chant for half an hour, but after all, this is a radio show and my sponsors expect me to say something too.


I wish you the best in your day. Go on chanting and be brave. You can make a difference.


A devotee glorifies Krsna. He doesn’t pray for material benefit, but he prays to please Krsna. He begs Krsna for service at His feet. He begs to be accepted as one of the devotees. He aspires to attain offenseless chanting. He maintains hope against hope. After stating his aspirations, he continues on his path, doing whatever small services he can, living carefully according to scriptural injunctions, and being rectified by Krsna for whatever mistakes he commits. Devotees are not ordinary persons. The world can be decorated with the ornaments of their good qualities.


Good old age is upon me. I don’t want to forget to thank Krsna for His mercy with my body, mind, and words before this life runs out. Krsna has His hand in everything, and we can learn to see Him everywhere. That is the purpose of life. And to always chant the holy names. Take every opportunity for that.


Rupa Gosvami included giving and receiving gifts as one of the six loving exchanges between devotees. Therefore, it’s not just that we receive the gift of the holy name, we receive the gift of the human form of life, we receive the gift of service, and don’t offer anything in return. We have to offer something back. That will make us real persons and our exchanges really personal. Personal means we reciprocate. Prabhupada gives me the holy name and I offer him my life energy by chanting in faith. How nice it is to be grateful and then to act on that gratitude by using what he has given. How wonderful that he accepts my chanting as a reciprocal gift.


My dear Lord Krsna, please allow me to use myself in Your service today and to not hold back. Allow me to be kind to devotees and nondevotees if only in simple ways. Please allow me to be a source of happiness for them by my peacefulness, cooperativeness, and innate Krsna consciousness. Please let them see me hearing and chanting about Krsna with sincerity. Allow them to see me truly engaged in Your service. Let them become attracted to Your lotus feet by that example.


“What I want, I claim, is to not be inattentive, cold, and hardhearted. I like to be aware that You [this is addressed to Krsna] are all-great and most dear. Why do I remain unloving despite my attempts to chant Your name?”


From Songs of a Hare Krsna Man

pp. 103-5


I told you about the spider and
about Draupadi’s bellowing
waiting to be petted, fat
solid tons of cow just outside
our door and young Jayananda
talking to me in twilight as
I come home. He says, “I just got
back from school.” They don’t have
much school but I can’t understand what else
he’s saying because he’s Irish
and I’m from New York
and he’s jabbering like a kid
at the door to his Mammy’s house.
The only word I could make out
was “Moksa-rupa,” the name of his teacher.
As I smile falsely, pause
with my stick and start to walk
to my door, he says
tenderly, “Haribol,”
and I say the same back.

The Irish robin is a cutey
smaller than the U.S.A. one and with a
subtler tint of orange-red only on his
head and neck. He’s a little fella on
the branch of a tree
where I walk by. Oh, it’s mid-December
and this land is still like autumn
with leaves wet and piled but it gets frosty
near every night. I say Relax Stefan,
relax. But also You’re not Krsna conscious
enough so how can you relax?
Srila Prabhupada says the devotee
is daring and active
he doesn’t get caught up in material upheavals
good or bad, he takes misery
as his due and figures it’s minimized—
he thanks Krsna for happiness
to comfortably serve Him,
he’s stitha-dhi-muni, and
like the tortoise, he pulls in his limbs.

I spent an hour in that shed.
The sun was coming down.
It is very nice to be alive with
a safe heart beating in your chest and
contemplating going to India
where you’ll wear a winter coat
and where you will step
in cow dung as you do here
and you’ll be lucky if you live
to write of it. O Krsna,
this servant is lightyears away yet
catching Your beams of mercy,
tracing the frosty lines,
my words like matted grass frost,
like frozen panes of ice
and me inside with You
and Your Gita.


Little dreams reveal residue of each
day. Little writing may be like that
too. I only go deep enough to recall
what I read fifteen minutes ago and
what I saw and felt today.
Lunch menu was pasta for a change
and bread and butter and the rest . . .
the feast for minnows,
the words that don’t belong
where do they come from? Your aunt and uncle
your Godparents way back then,
and you can’t remember past life.

It doesn’t matter. You better remember
Krsna at the time of death.
But it’s a bhava, a feeling
and you will be calling and recalling you
will be bawling and crying you will be
crying and just gritting and grinding the
end will do you in,
the mortal death of pain at every stitch
and moment.

You pray to transcend and be
with your master but you
have to have loved him and served him
from the heart otherwise
out will come, when you don’t want it,
desire to read more dream workbooks,
desire to love a woman in seven countries,
desire to rape and incest and
smoke a cigar you never did,
desire to remember the truth of Public School 8
desire to be the hero of material realms
and desire to be free of GBC
once and for all, desire to be
accepted as Good Citizen by your Godbrothers,

desire for malted milkshake
“a black and white soda please,”
emeralds and seashores
another writing retreat in Kerry,
“Doctor can you give me four more years
so I can realize my plans?”
Desire to be a book distributor
and temple president
to buckle down and do the needful
to sleep and wake again, to be
my master’s personal servant
to give up the money, give it back
be a pure servant work hard
do as asked by superiors,
or something else.

If I had only attained ruci
for the holy name and found my home
in reading Srimad-Bhagavatam the
pure way. I blew it

I should have done this and that
I should have just been a good boy
and never left Boston?
Should have traveled until dropping dead in tracks
or stayed at home and spent last years
writing something even this.

Now I just pray, Prabhupada
take me and bring me to you
for my next program of work.

From Radio Shows, Volume 2

pp. 45-46

Prabhupada singing: cintamani-prakara-sadmasu

Hare Krsna. We’re off and running this February 18 in our Denver radio station. Imagining that I’m alone, although I’m actually in a house full of people. A thin wall separates me from the bathroom. Madhu is in there doing his morning ablutions. The Denver temple is across the street. I heard police sirens during the night. This is America.

Two hundred million people, so many billion people, and yet each one of us is alone in a separate cell of feelings. The soul does not feel the pain and pleasure of souls encased in any other body, although the Supersoul knows and feels what everyone feels.

Krsna is not alone, Prabhupada used to say, but to the degree that there is something valuable, a part of personhood, which is our individuality separating us from others—well, Krsna has that too. At the same time, He is always enjoying pleasure pastimes with His devotees. That’s characteristic of Him. It seems that hermit life is either the frustrated sentiment of renunciation, or an act of one who is striving for perfection and wants to avoid all distractions whether they’re pleasurable or not. Krsna doesn’t need either of those reasons—either to be alone or to enjoy with His devotees. He is not striving to perfect anything, and He is not disappointed in His loving affairs with any of His associates. If anything is lacking, He fulfills it by His own will. Therefore, there are no “bad” elements in His life.

Krsna is inconceivable. He’s so supreme that He is alone in that sense. Ekala isvara krsna. No one is equal to Him.

Mattah parataram nanyat. The fact is, however, that He likes to be subordinate and to associate with His friends and devotees.

I don’t look at my own desire to be alone as necessarily a godly quality. I guess it is what it is. It’s just as useful to be with qualified devotees who respect your individual practices. In fact, it’s better to be with such devotees rather than to be isolated or with those who cannot sympathize with or appreciate you.

From Sanatorium: A Novel

(pp. 189-91)

Chapter Nine

It was 8:00 in the morning and the birds were chirping. But many of the inmates were still trying to sleep. They were the ones who had hard nights due to pain. They had been up during the night in the backroom quarters, applying various remedies like aromatherapy, massage and acupuncture. Some had resorted to extra-strong allopathic pills and gone back to their beds to calm down. Other members were awake but mindful of their suffering bedfellows and tried not to make much noise. They all remembered the main doctor’s instructions, which they had posted on a sign: “Take only medicines I prescribe. Rest sufficiently. Do only what you want and not what others tell you.”

At 6:00 A.M. the door opened and the head of the dormitory turned on the lights. The chief of the county dormitories was with him, and behind them, entering the room, was a pack of about twenty Boy Scouts and their scoutmaster. They wore their customary dark khaki clothes, short pants and multicolored scarves. Many of them wore caps, some even had knives in sheathes at their belts, and some carried small American flags. When they all had entered the room and shut the door, the chief county sanatorium master made an announcement. He usually never came by and had nothing personally to do with any of the inmates. He was a local politician who tried to cash in on the magnanimous work being done by the sanatoriums in order to get more votes. In a loud voice he said,

“My dear inmates, I realize it’s a little early, but we have some special visitors this morning. This is Boy Scout Troop 34, from Nashville, Tennessee. They are an award-winning pack who have been touring the country to see many natural spots and places of interest in our grand country, America. Someone suggested that they visit our successful sanatorium in Hudson County, and I was happy to agree. They’ll only be here a short while, as their bus is due to leave in five minutes to take them to see Stuyvesant Falls, and then go up to Albany, and then to Niagara Falls.”

At the word “Niagara Falls,” the Boy Scouts started to smile and look excited. Otherwise, they seemed quite bored and a little put off by being in this “sick place.” It was not their idea to visit. As the Boy Scouts looked around with disdain at the sickies, some of the more cynical inmates surveyed the Boy Scouts as silly and truly resented their visit. Others saw it as a possible opportunity for preaching.

The county politician then said, “As they go down the row, please greet them and answer any questions they have.” The inmates began pushing their urine bottles under their beds, as well as their CD players and earplugs. They placed holy books on their laps and tried to look peaceful and smiling, even though some of them were in pain at that very moment.

The adult Boy Scout master said, “Does this sanatorium belong to a certain religion?”

The county dormitory chief hesitated and then said, “Yes, this was built by the Hare Krsna religion.” Some of the Boy Scouts began to titter and sing the Hare Krsna mantra. The inmates joined in with them and sustained a kirtana for about one minute.

The Boy Scout master said, “Well, it’s a free country, and everyone is entitled to their own religion. But I remember these fellows used to be quite aggressive in selling their books.”

“We don’t do that anymore,” said Bhaktin Jane. “We spread the word of God in the most palatable way possible, and give shelter to many people, as well as cows, by our various programs.”

“Shelter the cows?,” asked one of the boys, and the others laughed.

The boys didn’t have any questions and walked around the dorm without much curiosity. They looked to their Boy Scout master, and one of them said, “I think we’d better go.” And so he ushered them all out and shut the door, with the politician at the head. After they had left, the Hare Krsna monitor shut the door and turned to his inmates. “I’m terribly sorry at this interruption. This was really an intrusion, going too far. I’ll try to talk to the county manager and other people to see that this doesn’t happen again.”

From My Search Through Books

pp. 27-29

From Karma to Jnana

In our freshman English course, Dr. Alexander was into the Romantic poets, reading them from an Oxford anthology. When Dr. Alexander was talking about John Keats or Shelley, she would get so excited she could barely contain herself. Her eyes would shine, and she would say, “These poems are beautiful! And their view of life!” Unless you were a stone, you could not resist her conviction that the Romantic poets were rare souls who could feel such intensity and write with such depth.

Dr. Alexander’s tastes in poetry coincided with the standard taste for what is considered great literature, so she taught it according to the syllabus, but with personal, dynamic energy. Just as a religious evangelist is moved by the spirit and wants others to accept Jesus, Dr.Alexander felt the same way about intellectualism and poetry.

In an intellectual sense, the college teachers who first awakened me to knowledge were like acaryas; at least they believed and loved what they taught. They had enthusiasm and potency. They came to me at a time when my mind was awakening, when I was impressionable. Previously, I had given full allegiance to my father and mother. But the feeling that Mom and Dad were the best and two wisest people in the world gradually waned, and was even broken by my father’s manipulations of my life. My natural submission was now transferred into love for intellectuals and the intellectual life. It was like a conversion from what I knew of “materialistic” life to the life of spirit.

The teacher/student relationships that I entered had many admirable qualities and followed the traditional model between a teacher and a student. If I try now to criticize my first professors as “useless jnanis,” my criticism becomes mixed with an affectionate bond. For example, I may also call my father a mudha and a foolish karmi. Although this may be objectively correct, I must also consider that he is my father and I owe him some gratitude.

Even Srila Prabhupada praised his college professors, although they were all Christian men and never taught him Krsna consciousness. Prabhupada attended Scottish Churches College in Calcutta, where there were daily Bible classes and instructions in European civilization. Whenever Srila Prabhupada remembered his professors, which he frequently did even in his last days, there was almost always a fondness.

Prabhupada would recall each professor by name and subject. He told us who taught him English, Sanskrit, philosophy, psychology, and economics. For example, he remembered the teaching methods of his English professor, J.C. Scrimgeour:

“While teaching English literature, he would give parallel passages from Bankim Chandra Chatterji. “Yes, yes,” he would say, “Your Bankim Babu says like this.” He had studied Bankim’s literatures, and he compared Bankim Chandra Chatterji to Walter Scott. In those days, Dickens and Sir Walter Scott were two very great English literary men. So he taught us those novelists, and the relationship was very nice.”

Srila Prabhupada-lilamrta, Volume 1, p. 22

Prabhupada would sometimes even quote these professors’ statements as evidence in his own preaching. Urquhart’s statement about a woman’s brain, his economics professor’s lecture on Marshall’s Theory (that family affection is the impetus for economic development) and other passages and teachings, are well-known to Prabhupada’s disciples. They all came from the faculty at Scottish Churches College.

Should I now completely break that bond with my first professors and negate any feelings? No, those jnanis were my first teachers, and it was not all evil. The pure enthusiasm and the love of knowledge that they conveyed is something worth keeping. Canakya Pandita teaches that we should accept good instruction, even if it comes from low-class persons. And Srimad-Bhagavatam informs us that we may accept as gurus some of the animals and birds because of the valuable lessons they give us. If a dog can be a guru, why not a lover of English poetry and a lover of ancient history?

From The Best Use of a Bad Bargain

(pp. 38-39)

Read from Caitanya-caritamṛta for twenty minutes or so. The Krsna consciousness movement is undeterred by Mayavadis. Prabhupada describes this in the seventh chapter of the Adi-lila. Therefore, we can also be strong like our predecessors. We don’t have to compromise with them. Mayavadi haya krsne aparadhi.


Lizard on the wall! I jump. Then a knock on the door. I bump my leg.


I didn’t understand. Is he telling me to go over to the hall for treatment?


“Plate, plate.” He’s annoyed and speaks in a guttural way that I find irritating.

I mimic him, “Plate, plate” and give him the used plates that he has come to collect. I surprised myself when I did that—took an assertive position. But I mainly want to be gentle and humble.


The mind will find fault with anything. Sometimes my mind finds fault so much that I cannot clutch at the lotus feet of guru and Kṛṣṇa. I see the painting of Lord Caitanya on the cover of this book and see faults in its execution. One purport in this section states strongly that we can easily come to the platform of purely loving Kṛṣṇa by chanting.

Have my brothers attained this? I certainly haven’t. Why do I look at them and only see the institution’s preachers? I’m fallen, fallen.

I am usually willing to accept that I lack love, faith, conviction, and preaching spirit due to my own faults. I can’t see the way out of it except to keep practicing. I don’t find fault with the process. When Prabhupāda says that chanting will soon bring me to pure love of Kṛṣṇa, I can only conclude that it hasn’t happened to me because of my offenses to the holy name.

Maybe during these days of working on my health I can also catch myself unaware and gain access at odd moments to face the difficult truths and impasses.

Hare Kṛṣṇa. All I can say is that I’m trying my best.


A bird harks repeatedly on two shrill notes—a completely Indian sound. There’s no bird like that in Pennsylvania, although the crows are in both places.

“This is an ant highway,” Madhu said. “Be careful not to step on it.” And the flies. We twitch and swat at them to chase them away, and the day goes by.

“Plate, plate.” He comes for our plates before we are even finished eating. I had to wait for the cleaning lady to leave before I could offer the food and eat. I ended up having to dress Prabhupāda while she was here because she was taking so long. The mornings here are busy with treatment; the afternoons slower.

I find I have time here to face my inadequacies and my feeling about them—my lack of devotion to the holy name, my occasional feelings of alienation.

Is that someone knocking on my door? What next? The false ego makes us suffer. False ego means the concept that we are the body and that we belong to a certain nation or race. Or a pride in accomplishments. The real self is humble and contrite. Trnad api.

When the emotions and thoughts are more than I can handle I lie down or ask M. to come over to speak about our time here. Will we actually stay here for an entire month?

Yes, I guess we will. But I don’t want to overreact. Just go with my present feelings and try to face them calmly.

It’s best to accept our aloneness. Be positive. I want to go beyond PR presentations of myself and find the core. Don’t stay melancholy, but feel the melancholy if it’s honest. Then ask to be picked up and guided.

Gone are the days of the one-hour writing sessions. I push to get in a half hour or to make a simple portrait in color.


<< Free Write Journal #284

Free Write Journal #286 >>


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