Krsna-dasi dressed Radha-Govinda in new outfits yesterday. I asked her what was the color scheme of the dress, and she replied that it was gray and yellow. Later Baladeva told me he thought it was silver and yellow. For myself, I thought it was green and yellow. At any rate, They look very beautiful in Their new outfits. Baladeva said Radharani looks thin-waisted and busty and that Govinda is pleased to see Her in this way. He wears an expertly-braided yellow turban. His lotus feet are fully exposed. Radharani holds a tulasi leaf offered to Krsna in Her right hand, and little white “happy flowers” in Her left hand. We are so glad to be able to share photos of Radha-Govinda on Facebook in Their many changes of dress so that many devotees can see Them and appreciate Them.
The midyear meeting on July 6 was successful. It was attended by 135 people. Jayadvaita Maharaja, Ravindra Svarupa Prabhu, Dhanurdhara Swami, Haridasa dasa from Maryland, and devotees from Baltimore, Boston, New York and Alachua all gathered. Madan Gopala from New Jersey led the first kirtana playing his amplified keyboard from 10:00—10:30 A.M. Then I read my lecture about the Krsna Book. The devotees listened attentively to my lecture, especially when I spoke on the pastime of Krsna and King Nrga, who was turned into a lizard. His offense was that he gave away thousands of cows, but one cow wandered back into his own herd, and that cow he inadvertently donated to another brahmana. Prabhupada sent this story to Mr. S., who had donated a piece of land in Vrndavana to ISKCON. But later, Mr. S. asked that the front portion of the land be returned to him for use as a petrol station and other commercial venues. Prabhupada said that using the front land in this way would ruin the entrance to the temple. He said that giving in charity to a brahmana or Vaisnava and later asking to take it back is a great offense. He told Mr. S. that he was enclosing the story of King Nrga, who was punished by Yamaraja for giving away a cow and then later taking it back. Mr. S. reconsidered and did not press Prabhupada to give back the front portion of the land.
At the end of my lecture, I quoted Prabhupada’s concluding words to the Krsna Book. He writes that simply be reading the Krsna Book one is guaranteed to go back to Godhead, which is normally very difficult to do. I said these words by Prabhupada produced impressions of adbhuta, or astonishment and wonder. How potent is the Krsna Book that simply by reading it and memorizing it one is guaranteed to return home, back to Godhead! After my lecture, we held an hour kirtana. Rama-Raya from the New York sankirtana party leading the first half, and Keli-lalita devi dasi leading the kirtana for the second half hour. Then two aratis were performed. The first one was a guru-puja offered to Prabhupada, and Haryasva led the singing. Then there was an offering to Gaura-Nitai and Bala led the singing. Then I announced it was time for me to make a presentation and distribution of my new book of poems. I said that one of my disciples from Trinidad, Gopinatha, was an avid reader of my books. But when he saw the POEMS book, he said, “I like straight philosophy. I am not a poem man.” I was disappointed by this remark, but then I realized that Gopinatha was not the only one that held this opinion. I then introduced my friend and collaborator on the book, Rev. John Endler (who wrote the introductory essays to the poems) to speak on poetry. John stood holding the microphone and made an eloquent, rousing speech about poetry, and specifically my poetry. He said one should not be intimidated by it. He said it was written from the heart and should be received by the reader with an open heart. He told the devotees that although poetry is different than straight theological writing, it is a valid artistic presentation of Krsna consciousness and is accessible, easy to understand, and enjoyable. He told them to “give poetry a chance.”The audience applauded John’s talk, and I then read a selection of poems from the new book. I then asked the devotees to come up, give a donation, and take a book. Two lines of devotees, men and women, came forward, and I gave them a signed book. Prasadam was the next event at the festival. Mahotsava and Yamuna’s wife Damayanti prepared the feast, and the devotees sat down at picnic tables and ate and conversed. The whole festival schedule was running smoothly, and I personally was holding up all right. The day was warm, and the event was held in the outdoor pavilion with the covered roof. During the honoring of prasadam, a wind started up, blowing the leaves in the July trees. The wind continued for sometime, threatening rain, but it held up until everyone was finished eating prasadam. Suddenly, a torrential downpour finally began, with thunder and lightning, making an abrupt end to the meeting. The rainstorm disturbed the cleanup. Everything was getting blown around, and the devotee workers had to scramble to secure things and keep them dry. Bala announced that there would be another meeting on Prabhupada’s Vyasa-puja on August 24 in the VFW Hall from 10:00 A.M. to 2:00 P.M.
I wrote Vandanam after I had completed a spontaneous book composed “on the tongue” titled Entering the Life of Prayer. I intended Vandanam to be a more systematic presentation of prayer. In the section “Analysis of Elements in Prayers,” I wrote,
“If we study the Bhagavatam prayers, we find that they contain standard elements, and they achieve major purposes. Thus we find prayers expressing: 1) praise; 2) thanksgiving; 3) prayers with requests by the devotees; 4) prayers asking forgiveness.”
I go on to give examples of each kind of these prayers:
“Some persons say that we should not make personal prayers; we should only recite prayers from the sastras. One has to be very advanced to make personal prayers, they say. But Prabhupada says differently. He says that everyone can make personal prayers and that it is necessary. Even a small child can make prayers to the Lord, and He will hear them. The childlike prayer, ‘Now I lay me down to sleep. I pray the Lord my soul to keep. But if I die before I wake, I pray the Lord my soul to take’—is a simple, sincere prayer which is purely spiritual. One doesn’t have to be an erudite jnani in order to make prayers. Prabhupada says that when we chant the Hare Krsna mantra we should make a simple prayer, “O Radha, O Krsna, please accept me in Your service.”
The Kuruksetra War was in a sense a nationalistic fight. The Kurus want to keep control of the entire world and not give anything to the rightful heirs, the Pandavas, so there had to be a fight. But nationalistic sentiments nowadays are based on illusory designations of “my country, my land.” Prabhupada derided the United Nations and said they could never unite the world as long as Krsna was not in the center of their efforts. The U.N. goes on adding national flags to its membership, but there is no central authority or submission to one God. U.S. president Trump’s motto is “Make America Great Again.” He has an isolationist idea of America which leads to potential wars and much verbal fanfare and sword-rattling.
At the time of annihilation of the universe, clouds form and a devastating rainfall comes down upon the earth. King Indra is in charge of the annihilating rains, which are called samvartaka. He sent them prematurely when he was angry at the Vrajavasis, and he attempted to destroy them with floods of rains.
When the sun is covered by clouds, someone may claim that the sun is not present. But the sun is always there above the small partial covering of the clouds. Similarly, Krsna is always present despite the partial covering of maya over the conditioned souls. In Visvanatha Cakravarti’s Guruvastakam, he compares the spiritual master to a cloud dispensing water of mercy to put out the fires of samsara. Krsna’s bodily hue is compared to a bluish monsoon cloud more beautiful than millions of Cupids.
When I first began coming to Krsna consciousness in the summer of 1966, I gradually began to understand basic terms and vocabulary from Prabhupada’s teachings, such as the three modes of material nature, the fourfold miseries, the three different kinds of devotees, etc. I clearly remember that one day I understood three definitions for the word “Brahman.” One was the impersonal Brahman, a formless nature of the absolute; the brahmajyoti. The second meaning was the brahmana, the person situated in the topmost level of varnashrama dharma, a person in the mode of goodness. Then there was a third definition of Brahman which I typed out on my typewriter and was happy to remember. But now I forget the third definition of Brahman. If I add the word “Supreme” before Brahman, then it can define Krsna, the Parabrahman. But I believe I had memorized it without an extra prefix word, simply three Brahmans. Can anyone out there help me to remember the third Brahman? My associates tell me I should be satisfied to add a prefix word like “para-” or “Supreme,” but I stubbornly cling to the memory of typing down three single words, all “Brahman.”
A devotee wrote me and said he liked the Free Write Journal, in particular because it was “Prabhupada-oriented.” I write about Prabhupada by taking random looks at the index to Prabhupada-lilamrta. Another book I can use is Prabhupada Nectar. It mainly contains anecdotes I obtained from interviewing devotees who had some relationship exchange with Prabhupada. I also added my own personal memories. So I will use Prabhupada Nectar, starting with a few excerpts.
“It was Prabhupada’s custom while visiting the ISKCON temple on Henry Street in Brooklyn to receive the ISKCON artists and review their latest paintings for his books. But when one of the veteran painters, Jadurani-devi dasi, showed Prabhupada a recent picture of Krishna in Vrindavana, she got an unusual response. The picture showed youthful Lord Krsna, sitting in the bushes of Vrndavana. His head was tilted, and with His hand to His forehead, He was in a dejected mood. Beyond the bushes some of the gopis were searching for Krsna. ‘What is this?’ asked
Prabhupada. It was as if he did not know what to make of it.
“‘Is something wrong?’ asked Jadurani. ‘This is Krishna lamenting because Radharani has left Him.’
“‘No,’ said Prabhupada.
“‘Yes,’ said Jadurani. ‘It’s right there in The Teachings of Lord Caitanya. Krsna is lamenting because Radharani went off, and so He went into the bushes and was lamenting.’
“‘No,’ said Prabhupada. ‘Krsna’s not like that.’
“Jadurani insisted that it was in the book, but Prabhupada objected. ‘Krsna does not lament like that,’ he said. Prabhupada did not say exactly what was wrong, but the devotees became distressed, especially the artist.
“Everyone felt uncomfortable until Srila Prabhupada found a solution. “‘You can use this painting for another idea,’ he said. ‘This can be the picture where Krsna has a headache.’ Prabhupada leaned back satisfied and repeated, ‘Yes, Krsna has a headache.’
“Everyone sighed in relief as Prabhupada found another way to appreciate a devotee’s service.”
Comment: The pastime of Krsna having a headache is as follows: Once, Krsna complained of having a headache. He said to Narada that the cure was for Him to apply the dust of the lotus feet of devotees to His head. Narada didn’t want to do it personally, but he went out and approached great demigods and devotees and asked them to give a little dust from their feet to cure Krsna’s headache. They replied, “Oh, I cannot do that! I will be presumptuous and condemned if I put my filthy dust on the Supreme Lord’s head. No, I cannot do it.” Finally Narada went to the gopis of Vrndavana, Krsna’s dearmost beloveds. When they heard that Krsna had a headache and He wanted the dust from His devotees’ feet as a cure, the gopis immediately and hastily brushed dust off the soles of their feet. Narada asked, “Do you think it is all right if you do this? I have asked the other devotees and they were afraid they would be condemned and contaminated if they put their dirt on the Supreme Personality of Godhead’s head. The gopis replied that they did not mind if they were condemned. They just wanted to cure Krsna’s headache. This is the standard of the gopis’ love. They do not care for their own welfare but just want to please Krsna always.
“On another visit to the Brooklyn temple, while Srila Prabhupada was seeing the latest paintings of his artist disciples, he suddenly asked that a tape be brought of his singing the bhajana ‘Jiva jago.’
“Within a few minutes the tape was found and Prabhupada sat back silently listening, along with the roomful of devotees. He became so absorbed in listening to the singing that to the devotees it appeared he had entered a spiritual trance. Even when he looked up and glanced around the room, they felt that Srila Prabhupada’s spiritual mood was deep and unapproachable.
“When the tape was over, Prabhupada still could not speak, so it appeared that the meeting was over. The devotees began to reluctantly rise and leave. But one of them came forward with another painting.
“‘Prabhupada, we forgot to show you. Here’s one more painting.’
“‘Yes,’ said Prabhupada, still in a very thoughtful mood. ‘yes, it is good.’ He then looked around at the assembled devotees in the room and began shaking his head appreciatively.
“‘Actually, all of you are good,’ he said. ‘You are all good, and in your association, even I am good. Otherwise, I am very bad.’ Now the meeting was over, as no one was able to reply to Prabhupada’s humble statement.”
“When in January 1974 devotees saw Kahoutek’s Comet and told Srila Prabhupada, he called the comet a bad omen. ‘In our childhood,’ he said, ‘we saw a comet and the First World War was declared.’ The witnesses of the Kohoutek Comet told Prabhupada that it had filled up the sky near their airplane with flashes of light.
“‘And they say the tail is three million miles long. It’s going very fast, so it is emitting a tail of gases.’
“‘So who is supplying the gases?’ asked Prabhupada. ‘The Arabians?’
“He said the comet was like a policeman who all of a sudden comes before us. By his presence, we can understand that some criminal is present and the policeman is searching. He said disasters would follow.”
“The anti-cult crusade in America was only beginning its campaign during Srila Prabhupada’s very last years. But Prabhupada gave good advice how the devotees could combat it and how they could realize they were protected by Krsna.
“Ramesvara Swami was once explaining to Srila Prabhupada about these activities during a visit with Prabhupada in India.
“‘We’re actually getting much more free exposure on the radio and television,’ said Ramesvara Swami, ‘and each time we come off sounding very intelligent, religious and nice, and the deprogrammers come off sounding like fanatics and bigots. So people are getting a good impression of us because of the publicity on radio and television.’
“‘Yes,’ said Prabhupada. ‘Just like Sita was put into the fire and she came out unburned. Sita was blasphemed. They said, “This woman was kidnapped by Ravana, and Ramacandra is so henpecked that He has again picked her up and is living with her.” So Ramacandra put her in the fire, and she came out unharmed.’”
Today is Ekadasi. If one has missed any Ekadasis, just by following Pandava Nirjala Ekadasi strictly without taking any water, that makes up for all the other mistakes on previous Ekadasis. Some people even become deliberately lax on other Ekadasis, knowing that they will make up for it on Nirjala Ekadasi. For myself, when I was younger and in certain association, I used to follow Ekadasi more strictly and stay up all night chanting bhajanas and having out-loud readings and not drinking water. Prabhupada didn’t advocate extra austerities on Ekadasi, mainly because it interfered with active service. If one observes Ekadasi very strictly, either that day or the following day, he or she might be too fatigued to do regular service. Prabhupada himself observed Ekadasi simply by refraining from grains and beans. He did not observe Pandava Nirjala Ekadasi. If Prabhupada was taking prasadam at a family’s house on Ekadasi, he would ask them to observe the day with him and his disciples. But in general Prabhupada seemed to think that doing one’s regular service was enough austerity, and he was not inclined to extreme performances.
Krsna didn’t wear overalls while herding cows (as do ISKCON farmers). He dressed up in brilliant garments: a shining golden dhoti, colorful kurta, turban and peacock feather. If these clothes were stained with dust from the cows’ hooves, Krsna’s mother would change them for new ones. Also, Krsna didn’t wear military armor, as Arjuna did, on the chariot at the Battlefield of Kuruksetra. Krsna impressed the warriors on both sides by appearing as a handsome, dancing actor wrapped in brilliant yellow robes, a Vaijayanti garland (with five different kinds of flowers) and a cheerful countenance. Any of the soldiers at Kuruksetra who saw Krsna were liberated from birth and death. Krsna was always the best dresser.
The Sudarsana disc is Krsna’s personal weapon. It has many razor-sharp edges and is fiery. When Krsna releases it, it goes independently, seeks out the enemy, and kills him. Krsna used the Sudarsana to behead Sisupala at the Rajasuya sacrifice, when Sisupala was deliriously blaspheming Krsna. The Lord also let loose the Sudarsana to chase Durvasa Muni after he offended Maharaja Ambarisa. Durvasa fled for his life with the Sudarsana in close pursuit, and the yogi traveled all over the universe, even up to the entrance to Vaikuntha. But the Lord didn’t save him; he told Durvasa that he had to go and beg forgiveness personally from Maharaja Ambarisa if he wished to be spared. When Krsna killed Kasiraja, his son created a giant demon and sent him to Dvaraka to destroy. But Krsna subdued the demon and sent him back to Kasi. The nature of the demon is that if he can’t kill the intended target, he returns to his creator and kills him. So the demon went to Kasi and killed Kasiraja’s son. The Sudarsana cakra then destroyed the entire city of Kasi. Sudarsana is an invincible, unconquerable weapon, and Krsna often uses it in battle with the asuras.
Prabhupada said that when we hear the word “forest” we become afraid of going there. In the forest there are many ferocious animals that are dangerous to humans. In the spiritual world, Goloka Vrndavana, the forest is different. It is a peaceful, safe place. The animals who are naturally inimical live in peace in Goloka Vrndavana. Krsna and His cowherd friends—and Krsna and the gopis—play in the forests of Goloka. Even in the material world, sadhus used to go alone to the forest. It is said they would put out some milk for the tigers, and the tigers would take it and leave the sadhus alone. In Goloka, the forest is filled with offerings to Radha and Krsna. Fruits, flowers, creepers to decorate Krsna and His devotees are supplied by the forest. There are kunjas and cottages there where Krsna and the gopis go for amorous pastimes. It is not at all a dangerous place. Hiranyakasipu asked his son Prahlada what was the best thing his teachers taught him that day. Prahlada replied that if one lived in materialistic household life, the best thing was to get out and go live in the forest (vana). More clearly, he said one should go and live in Vrndavana, where many sages and devotees gather to chant and hear hari-katha. Prabhupada said that forest-dwelling is not feasible for devotees nowadays. The forest is said to be in the mode of goodness, the city is in the mode of passion, but the Visnu temple is transcendental to the material modes. Living in the association of devotees is far more practical and advantageous than going alone to meditate in the forest.
In the Bhagavatam pastime of “The Churning of the Milk Ocean,” the tortoise incarnation of the Supreme Lord appeared in order to become the pivot on which the mountain rested. He maintained the balance so the demigods and demons could churn the mountain with the ropes of the serpent. The tortoise incarnation was relieving an itching sensation on His back by this pastime.
In the time-worn Aesop story of the tortoise and the hare, the two of them engage in a race. The hare starts off very fast, but the tortoise walks slowly and steadily. But the hare, racing on sheer enthusiasm, or utsaha, runs out of breath and has to rest. But the tortoise proceeds with patience, and in the end he wins the race. In my fictional series of Nimai and the Mouse, I have a character who is a tortoise and is a great sage living in the water. When the others are confused as to what to do, they are told to go and inquire from the wise tortoise-sage in the water.
There are a number of persons in the Bhagavatam who meditate underwater. The Pracetas did this for thousands of years. The great yogi Saubhari Muni also meditated in the water until he became agitated by seeing fish engaged in sex. Meditators go under water so they will not be bothered by ordinary people, and they can be peaceful in their meditation. Krsna and Balarama also went underwater to rescue the dead son of Their guru Sandipani Muni. They went to the watery kingdom of Varuna to get back the dead soul and bring him to his father.
In 2007 I published a book titled Visitors. On the back cover, I wrote:
“Visitors are welcome to my door—they enlighten my space. They make my dinnertable talk more tasty.
“But on the other hand, I don’t look forward to visitors. They crash my party of solitude. They break my holy silence. They come one after another. Some of them almost seem like spies from the “outer world.” So it’s a dilemma. You don’t want to live without them, but it’s a burden living with them. You almost want to put a sign up outdoors, ‘NO VISITORS.’ But even Thoreau in his stay at Walden left an extra chair at his front door for visitors. This book explores the pains and pleasures of being with others.”
In Chapter One I write:
“These visitors stole from his private time. He likes to write alone. More than once he had been interrupted in the middle of a poem by a phone call—and he had not told them to call back when their call was over. His insides sometimes cringed when he heard of another visitor, sometimes a heavy one, one who wanted to physically visit, and for a substantial number of days. When too many requested, then he and Nanda could just put their feet down and say, ‘No, too many are scheduled, come next year.’ But right now, at the prime of July-September 2005, the visitors were piling up, and he had accepted the maximum. He’d have to live with it, and the little staff of caretakers at the care unit would have to bear the burden with him.
“He likes to be alone with the
personal God. Seeking for love
of the personal God. He’s often
lonely in devotion.
You do it in groups of sankirtana
before the Deity and dance in ecstasy,
“but sometimes you need to listen for Him alone.
No visitors to your cell is preferred.
“The opposite is also true:
here comes a pal. ‘Would you
like to chant with us tonight?
It’s the appearance day
of Gopala Bhatta Gosvami and we have
been invited to chant with a
crowd at the Radha-Ramana temple. Our group brings
out the young Bollywood
group of boys and girls dancing
“Or would you rather stay
home in your bhajana-kutir?”
I wrote this book in 1997. In my Free Write Journal, I have been turning to the Merriam-Webster Collegiate Dictionary, picking out words at random, and discussing them in a Krsna conscious way. The free write words are another way to pick a word and give a Krsna conscious meaning. But then I thought of my book, Spiritualized Dictionary, where I had already done the kind of thing I am doing in the Free Write Journal. At the end of the introduction to the book, I write:
“In any case, this book is one devotee’s attempt to Krsna-ize a few words in the vast domain of words and to make us aware of how Krsna is the beginning, the middle and the end of the alphabet. Even by free association we can return to Krsna, no matter how far the mundane word may seem from the transcendental word. Everything comes from Krsna, and it should be returned to His service. I hope in the future that readers of the book may stumble across words like “volant” and “zoophyte” and remember some of the Krsna conscious discussions we have had here.”
Here’s a word from Spiritualized Dictionary:
“There is a related word, which I think comes from boxing, ‘feint.’ The dictionary defines it as ‘1 a false show; sham 2 a pretended blow or attack intended to take the opponent off his guard, as in boxing or in warfare.’ Feinting is not part of a sadhu’s nature.
“These words evoke some feeling in me. I abhor violence—the idea of hitting someone and causing them injury, or being hit myself. If we don’t intend to commit violence, then to pretend we can and will goes against all ethics. Bluffing is often a kind of bullying, which is obnoxious. I suppose it’s even worse to bluff but then to follow it up with action than to use the feint strategically to confuse someone before you deliver the staggering or fatal blow.
“There is a time and a place for everything, including violence. But a sadhu isn’t violent on principle. It is a brave position to take in a violent world. Vedic culture, therefore, divides society into four varnas, and of the four, the brahmanas are allowed to practice nonviolence while the ksatriyas are expected to protect them. In such a society, it is better for a brahmana to remain consistent with his own principles, even if it means suffering from violence perpetrated against him. There’s no point in bluffing an opponent if he has no intention to fight. Rather, he steers away from the aggression and if he cannot steer away, he turns the other cheek. Low-class people may take advantage of his gentleness and tolerating that is also part of his bravery. Nonviolence is not cowardice unless it is exhibited by a ksatriya.”
I had a visit recently from world traveler and GBC of Russia and Ukraine Niranjana Swami, along with Pyieri Mohan of Hartford, Connecticut. They are genteel, serious but also humorous persons. I was not stressed by our meeting, although we talked for several hours. Niranjana Maharaja showed me his Kindle apparatus. It is a small instrument but contains many, many books, which he reads in e-book format. He said he prefers to read hardbound books, but since he is a constant traveler, he can’t carry books with him, and he is happy to have all the books contained in one small instrument. They asked me about my health. I told them I cannot move except by pushing my four-wheeled walker. Furthermore, I have chronic obstructive pulmonary disease. The main symptom is shortness of breath, so that when I push the walker I can only go for four or five minutes without stopping to catch my breath. Therefore I cannot walk long distances such as in airport terminals, and I cannot stand on queues. So I am confined to my house. Niranjana Maharaja said he does daily exercises for his back and other joints. He mentioned that Devamrita Swami is an advocate of strenuous exercises and takes a long brisk walk every day. I realize my very sedentary life is not good for my longevit1y, but I accept it as Krsna’s personal handling of me, and it does not depress me. We had lunch together, and the guests ate heartily, Manohara’s preparation of pizza and vegetables. After lunch, the two of them went across the street to meet with Dhanurdhara Maharaja and then Ravindra Svarupa. After that they were scheduled to travel to New Jersey to visit the doctor-devotee Mayapur Chandra. Niranjana Maharaja is a constant traveler on a continual whirlwind tour. I very much enjoyed their generous visit. They seemed to have a good time.
Niranjana Maharaja read from his Kindle a book by Bhaktisiddhanta Sarasvati Thakura. It is called Amrta Vani (“Nectar of Instructions for Immortality”). One of Bhaktisiddhanta Sarasvati’s disciples put forward questions on different topics and then researched the answers from his Guru Maharaja’s lectures, essays and other writings. Niranjana Maharaja pointed out that I had a copy of Amrta-vani in my own library, although I had never read it. After he left, I had Manohara read aloud to me from the book. Here are some excerpts:
“2. Question: Is it important to always associate only with devotees?
“Answer: We should always remain in Vaisnava association. We are so weak that we cannot survive without Vaisnava association. If we remove ourselves from that association, we will again develop the sinful mentality that we are masters. If we do not always follow the orders of guru and the Vaisnavas, we will find ourselves in great danger. As soon as we remove ourselves from their shelter, Maya will capture us. Then we will again wander through the universe as Maya’s servants.”
The book is filled with questions and short answers like the one I just quoted. It is very accessible reading. It is a translation from the Bengali into clear modern English. The compilation is by a disciple of Bhaktisiddhanta Sarasvati Thakura, the translation from the Bengali is by the ISKCON devotee Bhumipati dasa, and it is edited by Suri devi dasi. I am looking forward to reading this book. Niranjana Maharaja says he uses it in his lectures. He reads a section from his Kindle and then expands on it with his own thoughts.
What do I think and how do I feel about the apparently fantastic descriptions in the Srimad-Bhagavatam? We are reading about parents who produce thousands of children, and about Kardama Muni’s mystic construction of a great aerial mansion that he flew in with his wife and many maidservants all around the universe. We are in the Third Canto, approaching the Fifth Canto, where there will be Vedic descriptions about the planetary descriptions which defy the material astronomers of today. I remember many years ago Ravindra Svarupa commenting that once you accept Krsna consciousness, you accept the whole “package deal” of everything that’s in the Bhagavatam, which includes many inconceivable and controversial topics. I have accepted this package deal, and I am not disturbed that it disagrees with material scientists and the whole modern evolution of social attitudes about women and interchangeable genders, etc.
“Srila Prabhupada subdued us. He called in his big GBC and sannyasi leaders—their consensus was go to good climate, Hawaii or L.A., to rest. No, he wanted to preach in the West. All leaders subdued by his calm forceful statement of ‘strength of mind.’ He said, ‘Strike while the iron is hot,’ (I think that is an English maxim) ‘then you can keep it in shape.’
“Being asked, he told Panca Dravida Swami how to preach to smartas in South India who may know Sanskrit: ‘Learn five slokas a month; in six months you’ll know thirty slokas. That should be enough to present Bhagavad-gita.’
“PDS said Hrsikesananda was going to help him with pronunciation. Prabhupada said, ‘This-ananda, that-ananda, be your own person. Do not be dependent on someone else to learn your work for you.’ When asked how to preach to Shaivites, he said, ‘Ask them, “My dear sir, do you accept Bhagavad-gita?” They will all say yes. Then quote: “Those whose intelligence is maddened worship the demigods.” Come to understand Bhagavad-gita well, even in English, and you can preach.’
“Prabhupada speaking about me and getting through international airlines, customs entanglement: ‘He is doing his best, but he does not have experience. If every month a new man, then I have to suffer.’ [I was Prabhupada’s temporary GBC secretary for one month at this time.] TKG said, ‘But we suffer when you get angry upon us.’ He said, ‘But your suffering is secondary.’ He was detained three hours in Paris and practically jailed four days from Africa to Australia. ‘I am coming and going so much. I am a little bit known. I should not have to wait on lines. That is the job of the secretary. He should be so expert that these rascals with all their rules are answered, and I am not detained as an ordinary person.’
“I would say, ‘It is all right. I have checked everything.’ He would reply, ‘You say that, but then I will be stopped at the airport.’ If everything is not cleared, he is detained.
“‘You have to have a brain, always alert. One who has a brain has strength.’”
“Prabhupada Samadhi Mandir
“Golden murti. Devotees are finishing their daily cleansing of your form, Prabhupada. You have many forms. Which is the best and original? I don’t know these things. I am grateful to know you and be your disciple. I remember, only barely, when you came to rescue us “plain cats” on the Lower East Side, and I saw you throughout the years until your manifested disappearance, November 14, 1977.
“‘Prabhupada! Prabhupada!’ a man says, directing his wife to come into this building. His loud voice catches my attention. His group talks loudly in front of Prabhupada for only a few moments, and then they leave.
“Ladies circumambulating. A man with a red streak on his forehead stands complacently and resolutely watching me write in this notebook. Let me not criticize the way of Hindus, or you will reprimand me again, ‘Mind your own business!’
“Routine in the mandir. I hear loud pop music just on the other side of the wall. We’d like to have silence in here, but what can we do? You are a preacher, Srila Prabhupada, and you rarely sit in silent places. Your disciples must have inner resolve to worship you even in disconcerting circumstances.
“Here come four little girls with tiffins looking at Srila Prabhupada for several minutes. They are special—born and living in Vrndavana. Their bodies covered in Vrndavana dust. They have no knowledge of American TV and madness, so people consider them unfortunate.”
Commentary: I wrote this book in the early 1990s. I wrote it in two places, in Prabhupada’s Samadhi Mandir, sitting before his larger-than-life murti, and in his residential room. I am a writer, so I meditated on Prabhupada in these two intimate spaces within the Krsna-Balarama Mandir. I took my task seriously and wrote personal notes and impressions of what was happening in the two places. I caught the flow of human traffic in these spaces and recorded my own thoughts. I felt very close to Prabhupada doing this. This was written at a time just after I distanced myself from Srila Narayana Maharaja. The Prabhupada Samadhi Diary was a purification of my discipleship to Srila Prabhupada and coming back to him exclusively; that was my intention. Of all the holy places in Vrndavana, I considered these two spaces within the Krsna-Balarama temple to be the most sacred because they were intimately related to Srila Prabhupada. I immersed myself in their ambiance and reported inner and outer events.