The sweet corn grown here is eaten by humans and is superexcellent. The majority of the corn crop—a different type of corn—is fed to the local cows to fatten them for slaughter. At Gita-nagari, when the cows stop giving milk, they are allowed to retire and graze. They are never slaughtered. The bulls plow the agricultural land. So the milk and ghee sold at Gita-nagari are all ahimsa products. I don’t know whether the milk is raw, pasteurized or homogenized, but the ghee is homemade. The animals there lead a contented life because they know their owners will not kill them. The cows are like big pets. You can go in among them and scratch them and pet them, and they are not aggressive (although you have to be careful they don’t step on your feet). It is very nice to associate with them. Everyone agrees the mode of goodness is perceptible around protected cows.
Our marigolds may not last all the way through September. Actually, they will probably last even into October—until the first killing frost (around 29 degrees, or -2 degrees Celsius). Now we have a daily crop to profusely decorate the altar. The devotees even make marigold garlands for the big Gaura-Nitai Deities every day. The marigolds are all orange, yellow, russet or a mixture of russet and yellow. They seem to smile around the lotus feet of Radha-Govinda. Upstairs, we don’t have time to make garlands, but we place the flowers on the steps of the altar, and bouquets in vases. The marigolds have a bright effulgence, and they are harmonious to whatever outfits the Deities are wearing. All glories to the late-summer marigolds! They have reached their perfection—from growing up in the garden to being offered to the worshipable Deity.
I wrote two volumes of prayers while living at the house Sastra lent to us in Delaware. Krsna gave me a big window in which I had time, concentration and spiritual inspiration to write down these prayers. They are unique in my collection of written books. They are all sincere prayers, written directly to the Supreme Lord. In several places in the Bhagavatam, both in verses and purports, Prabhupada writes that it is permissible for fallen souls to write prayers to the Supreme Lord. He even says it is necessary. So you don’t have to be one of the Six Gosvamis to write prayers. You don’t have to have knowledge of Sanskrit or be a perfect devotee. If you sincerely write from your heart, in parampara, it will be acceptable to Krsna. The book was written in 2010. Here is one prayer titled “Gratitude”:
“Please allow me to write a prayer of gratitude to You. I have written one before, and I said at that time that I could go on thanking You in subsequent prayers of thanks. Without looking back on the first one I wrote, I will write You with fresh gratitude as it occurs to me today.
“I thank you for sending me my spiritual master, Srila Prabhupada, who has taught me everything I know about You. I had the vaguest idea of God before I met my spiritual master, and I was living a life of sin. I was addicted to taking drugs and engaging in illicit sex. I thought that illicit sex was wrong, but I was too weak to resist the temptation. As for drugs, I regularly smoked marijuana and occasionally took LSD. These did not affect my conscience; I did not think, at the time, they were wrong. I thought they helped my creative state for my vocation as a writer.
“At the very first meeting I attended at the storefront at 26 Second Avenue, the Swami so impressed me with his kirtana and message of hope and eternal transcendental life that I completely stopped both of my bad habits—sex and drugs—permanently. To this day, such a quick conversion to celibacy and foregoing drugs seems a miracle. It just happened naturally with no effort on my part. After the first meeting, I never missed a meeting and took seriously to the life of chanting Hare Krsna and hearing from the Swami submissively, and rendering practical service. Really it was You acting to bring me to the storefront and to make me so open to the powerful presence of Prabhupada.
“I want to thank You for being who You are, all-attractive Krsna, as I learned from Prabhupada’s lectures and books. Prabhupada presented your Bhagavad-gita and vanquished my agnostic doubts about the existence of God and the need to lead a God-conscious life. I had been raised as a Catholic, but I had been out of the church for over ten years because the priests could not defeat my atheistic doubts—and I had a long, personal conversation with a popular priest just before I left the church. Your Bhagavad-gita, with its teachings of transmigration and karma and the eternal soul, and Prabhupada’s descriptions of You in Your eternal form in Goloka Vrndavana captured my intellect and heart and convinced me to want to be your devotee. I thank You for Bhagavad-gita As It Is and the Swami’s three volumes of the First Canto of Srimad-Bhagavatam. I continue to re-read them with fresh conviction and enthusiasm. I wish more people in the world would read these books and be converted to them, and I want to help in spreading Your teachings.
“I accept You as the Supreme Personality of Godhead. Therefore, I thank you for giving me life and sustaining my consciousness as a living being. You keep my heart beating, my lungs breathing, my brain working—You give me the gift of life in this body—and You give me the promise of eternal life with You in bliss and knowledge if I can love You and qualify for going back to Godhead. I yearn to be with You in eternity, and I thank You for the process of bhakti-yoga, which You have given us for attaining Your abode. Just by offenseless chanting of Your Holy Names, as You taught as Lord Caitanya, I can escape the cycle of repeated birth, death, disease and old age. I thank You for letting me make prayers to You. Please let me continue to think of sincere petitions and praises and expressions of gratitude, and inquiries into Your nature. I want to learn more about You and gain personal realizations of Your presence in my life. I want to love You completely and act fearlessly on Your behalf. I thank You for Prabhupada’s creation of the worldwide Krsna Consciousness Movement, and I pray that I may serve in it all my days. I thank You for being who You are, the most magnanimous Personality of Godhead, and I pray that I may one day serve You and Srimati Radharani in the spiritual world.”
You can read to them Krsna’s teachings from the Bhagavad-gita or the lessons of great devotees like Narada Muni. Narada Muni came to comfort King Citraketu, who for many years was not able to have a son—although he had thousands of wives—and who finally had a son, but the baby was poisoned by his envious co-wives. Narada told him that he was not destined to have a son and that he should not have prayed to the sage Angira Rishi to give him a son. Narada had the son brought back to life briefly, and he spoke that Citraketu was not his actual father, and that he had had many fathers and mothers in the past. The child said that he was not this body but spirit soul and had to take another body according to his karma. These instructions pacified the grief of Citraketu and his royal household. The envious co-wives gave up their bad mentality and practiced atonement to get relief from their sins. Narada told Citraketu it was very difficult to understand the intricacies of karma. When Citraketu’s dead son came back to life and spoke, he said he may have been the enemy of Citraketu in his past life, and he had been born again to give Citraketu pain. Such are the subtle laws of karma.
Hearing histories like this can help a devotee put his or her own suffering into the right perspective. We have to see things from the transcendental position. We have to understand that we are not these bodies and that everything is under the control of Krsna. When we suffer, it is an opportunity to turn to Krsna and surrender to Him. We should never blame Krsna for our pain. We may be receiving some token misery for our past sinful activities, or Krsna may be personally purifying us of our last material attachments. These may be hard things to accept when one is suffering, but Krsna advises us to be tolerant, as we are in winter and summer seasons. Krsna tells Arjuna the inconveniences are due to sense perception only, and one should learn to tolerate them. Getting free of the material conception of life will relieve us from mental agony, and if we go on chanting Hare Krsna, associating with devotees and worshiping the Lord, we will get relief from our pain. Blaming Krsna or His devotees for our pain is an offensive mentality and just puts us into a worse position whereby we will receive more unwanted reactions. We have to stop the offensive mentality, starting with offenses to the Supreme Lord and the spiritual master. The person who continually offends devotees loses their association. The devotees don’t want to be with the offending person and hear their blasphemies. So the suffering person loses out on the balm of devotee association by blaming them and finding fault with them. It just perpetuates more suffering and isolation.
I am going to have many visitors in the coming week. Some of them are seeking me out to discuss personal problems, and some I look forward to seeing to give them some counseling. In other words, I am up for these visits; I don’t dread them. But I myself have a disease of anticipatory anxiety. I chew over possibly stressful situations, and they can even provoke headaches and migraines. So I have to be careful about my looking forward to so many meetings. If I actually enjoy it, then I should not be anxious about it. But I can’t avoid my own tendency for anxiety.
I mostly feel all right (not depressed) about my inability to move. But I have many people advising me that when I do try to move, pushing my four-wheeled walker or holding onto the hands of another person, I don’t stand up straight. They advise me, but I don’t correct the habit. I can say I will try to do better, but it is very hard to change. Advisors tell me that by not standing up straight I am aggravating my condition, putting more pressure on my knees and worsening my condition. I do exercise almost every morning, but I keep my old habit of slouching.
I am here confessing my weakness and inability to improve. But I will honestly try to do better. Someone even remarked that I walk this way so that people will leave me alone and not ask me to travel. I feel this is an unfair assessment of my situation. I think I am living with my condition as best I can, and mentally feeling content and even happy with my services. But I admit this slouching is a failure, and I need to work on it. Let me see if I can improve. Some advisors say I am exhibiting my rebelliousness in this. Perhaps this is so. It means I am not a good patient. I should try to help myself do better. The fact is I have a fused ankle, and that is not a merely mental issue.
I had my recurring dream that I was in the Navy. I wanted to write, but I was not able to. In my actual tw0 year stay in the Navy, I was able to write. I wrote a novel, The Bohemians’ Pet, and a long short story about my boyhood dog, “Mickey.” All my readers thought these works were exceptionally well done. Even my sister appreciated “Mickey” as a mature work and recognized my talent as a writer. My English teacher, Doris Alexander, wrote me that “Mickey” was as good as Thomas Mann’s story about his dog.
A line flashed in my dream: “I’m in the Navy, and I’m not able to write.” But then another flashed line came: “Keep a constant journal and write down everything that’s happening.” I began to consider what kind of notepad and pen I would use to keep the journal in. But during this dream about the Navy and writing, I developed a painful headache. Usually when I wake up from these dreams (which come during an afternoon nap), the headache pain immediately dissipates. But after this one the headache persisted, and I took two Excedrin pills. Then, while awake, I considered that my dreams of being inconveniently detained in the Navy were like a symbol for my being detained in the material world, in the material body, and waiting for release at death. But after this life would I be able to write constantly? What will Krsna do with me? Will I be given a post like Ganesh, the scribe who wrote down the entire Mahabharata on the condition that the author Vyasadeva never pause in his dictation? This was the first time I related my Navy detainment to detainment in this material body.
The gopis were bereft when Krsna left them in Vrndavana and went to Mathura. They were outwardly devastated and unhappy, but they experienced the ecstasy of vipralambha bhava, separation from Krsna. Queen Kunti was bereft when, despite her eloquent prayers that Krsna not leave her and her sons, the Pandavas, in Hastinapur, He left. But Krsna smiled mildly to her. King Yudhisthira requested Lord Krsna to stay for a few more days to counsel him over his feelings of deep grief for having caused the loss of so many lives in the Battle of Kuruksetra just to get him enthroned as Emperor of the World. Even Krsna couldn’t pacify Yudhisthira, and there was a great plan behind this. Krsna wanted Yudhisthira to go to the dying Bhismadeva. Bhismadeva instructed Yudhisthira in a way that eased Yudhisthira’s heart. Sri Krsna relieved the bereft heart of His devotees in various ways.
The cowherd boys were bereft on a daily basis when they had to go home at night and be away from Krsna. Mother Yasoda was shocked and bereft when her little son was apparently attacked and endangered by demons. Krsna was temporarily bereft when he saw the illusory form of His father Nanda Maharaja beheaded by the demon Salva. Lord Ramacandra, the Personality of Godhead, was bereft when His wife, the goddess of fortune, Sita, was kidnapped by Ravana. But all these things were rightly resolved.
Rev. John Endler is having a fine time studying my poetry for publishing in Volume Three of POEMS. He says the ones he is reading now are more radical as I dig into my unconscious and switch from theme to theme. (Ravindra Svarupa has explained to John the Vedic understanding of the unconscious, and John felt this was helpful to him. He was thinking of titling the third volume of poems Kaleidoscope. He is thinking hard about what to write in the introductory essays for these poems. He wants to explain them carefully so readers won’t superficially dismiss them as “nonsense.” I appreciate his passionate dedication and expertise. Everyone appreciates that John is discovering hidden unknown treasures. He describes himself as “like an archaeologist, carefully sifting and looking for the esoteric secrets of the past.”
“He saved me when I was in the darkness of ignorance. We should not forget, but keep alive, the memory of our conversion. Meditation on Srila Prabhupada as the one who saved us is more than gratitude for a past favor. Rather, we are in constant need of his saving grace, and he is always ready to protect us. Even after diksa, a disciple is constantly tested by maya. There is every chance that one may fall down again and return to former ways.
“Even Lord Brahma is subjected to illusion and suffering, and so he turned to the Lord: ‘I pray that in the course of my material activities I may not be deviated from the vibration of the Vedic hymns.’ (Bhag. 3.9.24). Srila Prabhupada comments on this prayer as follows:
“‘Brahma, as the supermost brahmana, is afraid of a falldown, and therefore he prays to the Lord for protection. This is a warning for one and all in the spiritual advancement of life. Unless one is sufficiently protected by the Lord, he may fall down from his spiritual position; therefore, one has to pray constantly to the Lord for protection and the blessing to carry out one’s duty.’
—Bhag. 3.9.24, purport
“In the case of Lord Brahma, the Supreme Lord was his direct spiritual master, but in everyone else’s case, we should turn to both guru and Krsna. Our need for this relationship is an ongoing one, and this is another proof that the relationship is not diminished by time, or confined to one act which our guru performed when we were neophytes and needed an initial pick-me-up.
“At the time of Srila Prabhupada’s disappearance from this world, his followers were forced to learn that their relationship with him continued by service in separation. Previous to Prabhupada’s disappearance, we had heard the philosophy of serving in separation, but now we had to learn it as a substantial fact of life. The fact that Prabhupada’s followers could continue as before and increase their feelings of devotion, and even increase their serving capacity, proved that he was still very much with them.
“Although in certain ways we may have grown up and matured, we remain disciples of Srila Prabhupada. After a few years of experience, the disciple knows what he is supposed to do, and so he follows the rules and regulations and discharges routine duties. He doesn’t need to be constantly told these things. One also comes to know that the strength for performing devotional service is given by Lord Krsna in the form of transcendental knowledge. But even when one knows these facts, and preaches about them to others, the active ingredient is always the guru’s mercy.”
“Swamiji, you said, ‘If you are not ashamed’
we can wear our japa beads around our necks.
And you said, ‘Thank you very much’
when I shaved my head.
People jeer at us sometimes on the streets
but we remember you and Krsna
and it’s all right.”
“I go to work with tilaka on my forehead
because I want to show them
I’m a Vaisnava, and because
the marks of Visnu are beautiful.”
“I’m not afraid to go out
to St. Mark’s Place
and start calling out loud,
‘Back to Godhead magazine!
The yoga of ecstasy! Read how,
by chanting Hare Krsna
you can attain the state of bliss
of love of God!’”
“I’m reading no more books, Swamiji,
except yours and eating
no food except yours.
The renounced saintly life
I’d read about is coming true.”
“Sometimes when a night starts out
I’m feeling doubtful
or I may not like somebody,
but once we get into the kirtana,
I go with you to Krsna,
and everything’s all right.”
We are just hearing from the Seventh Canto. Maharaja Pariksit is amazed that after Sisupala was killed, his soul merged into the body of Krsna. He asks Sukadeva Gosvami to explain it. There’s a long section how Krsna is not impartial. In the Bhagavad-gita there’s a verse where Krsna says He has no friends or enemies, He is impartial to all. But one who is His devotee lives in Him, and He lives in the devotee. Examples are given how Krsna dealt mercifully with demons who were absorbed in Krsna in hate or anger. Putana came disguised as a beautiful woman to kill Krsna by having Him suck her poisoned breast. Krsna killed her, but she got the highest benediction. She became a mother of Krsna in the spiritual world because she had approached Krsna as a mother. From the very beginning of his life, Sisupala blasphemed Krsna. Krsna finally killed him at the Rajasuya sacrifice, but his soul entered the body of Krsna. It is explained that anyone who is rapt in Krsna-thought, whether in fear, in anger, in hate, or in devotion—all gain liberation. We are starting to hear of the falldown of the Vaikuntha gatekeepers Jaya and Vijaya, who were cursed by the four Kumaras when they barred the great sages’ entrance into Vaikuntha. This falldown was a special case because souls residing in Vaikuntha never fall again into the material world, but Jaya and Vijaya went into the material world to serve the purpose of Krsna. Krsna has a fighting propensity. But who will fight with Him? Only a confidential associate can do this. So Jaya and Vijaya were cursed to take three births as demons and fight with Krsna outside of Vaikuntha.
Sisupala, Hiranyakasipu, Hiranyaksa, Ravana, Kumbhakarna and Dantavakra were all demons who wanted to kill Krsna. Krsna killed them in battle, and they got various kinds of liberations from the material world. Many of these demons were originally the doorkeepers Jaya and Vijaya, and they descended to the material world to fight with Krsna in His bellicose proclivity. Kamsa always thought of Krsna in fear and enmity and tried in many ways to kill Him—by sending fellow demons—but they were all killed by Krsna. Finally Krsna Himself personally killed Kamsa in the wrestling arena. Because Kamsa was so intensely absorbed in thought of Krsna, he attained liberation. All the soldiers who saw Krsna on the Battlefield of Kuruksetra attained some kind of liberation.
Here is a short poem and prose-poem from Vrndavana that Rev. John Endler particularly liked:
“There’s that sadhu who writes
‘Radha’ on all the walls and trees
in Vrndavana. Be like him, although it
seems foolish. You go out with paint
bucket and brush all day. ‘Do something useful!’
a banker taunts him, and sadhus laugh.”
“The music, if you can call it that, is demanding attention. The civil speech I wish to make is overwhelmed as their sound spills onto my page. Where is there room to think? O Vrndavana, you are the most unusual place, pouring out sentiments we can’t make fun of because the names of Radha and Syama are included, and there is sincere feeling for Them. We can at least not be silenced, but add our own noise to the externally cacophonous combinations of bhajanas pouring forth like smoke from campfires, like dust from cows hooves, and bells clanging—seven different rhythms from ten different directions. They rise up. If I take even one step back, it sounds like one big confusion. But it is praise of Radhe-Syama.”
“As we enter, the mataji caretaker of this house is preaching to guests in the reception room. Inside, an ISKCON brahmacari is taking snapshots of Prabhupada at his desk. Visitors come in and out as they do in the Thoreau Symposium or the Elvis Presley museum. He sits on the pillows and we sit watching him. Sometimes I am more mystically serious, thinking that Prabhupada may directly communicate to me. This morning I feel less ambitious in that way, but light-hearted, happy and sure of connection to my master.
“Prabhupada, Prabhupada . . . . Breathe in and out.”
“It’s obvious, Prabhupada, that you wanted preaching. A grhastha may say he has other duties or is not fit for preaching, but a sannyasi cannot make excuses.
“‘Preach! Preach! Preach!’
“I do it, and ‘according to my capacity’ means I also have to deal with my headache syndrome. You overcame so many headaches and heart attacks and were undaunted, even at seventy.
“But I am not a paramahamsa like you . . . .
“(Not so many pilgrims today. Purusottama-masa is over. Now it’s just the regulars.)
“Prabhupada, I say foolish things to others sometimes, and to you too. Let me wash off such dirt and foolishness. Lord Caitanya said, ‘My spiritual master called me murkha, foolish.’ How much that is true of me. I was a fool before and I still am. I am so foolish I cannot chant the Hare Krsna mantra nicely. I am so foolish that I act as if I cannot decipher your message and your desires for me, although they are obvious.
“‘Everything is there. What is the difficulty?’
“The difficulty is I don’t want to surrender.
“‘Yes, that is a difficulty.’
“Devotees come to you with their petitions. I see the temple president of ISKCON Tucson standing before you making pranams. And now poor pious Indian people. One asks, ‘Who is he?’
“‘Prabhupada,’ replies the young caretaker who carries a pole for chasing pigeons.
“Golden Prabhupada, they don’t know you and they don’t know Sri Caitanya Mahaprabhu. They barely know Krsna. In the West they don’t know anything. There is a great need to preach.”
“They are circumambulating. Tyagi with big, thick Vaisnava tilaka, babaji dress, tiffin and walking stick. Pretty young wives and daughters and old men and beleaguered husbands and masses and masses of people like the sacred earth of Vrndavana.
“Who is he? He is Prabhupada. I ask that question in a different way. ‘Who is he? Where is he now? How can I come close to him?’ There are official answers (and more private ones) to those questions.”
This is a book I wrote in 2007 after finishing the long series Every Day, Just Write. It is an autobiography from a couple of years in my life. I was writing this book and coping with headaches. Here is an excerpt:
“Then ironically, after telling me to relax and that I am making progress in that way with reductions of medicines and cautious optimism, they present me two letters. One states that Bhakti-tirtha Maharaja’s cancer is active all over his body and the doctors have pronounced that they can do nothing for him. He asks that the GBC remind the devotees about the prayer he asked them to make, which is basically that we ask Prabhupada to bring us whatever experiences we need that would allow us to fully please him and to take away whatever is necessary to allow us to be better servants in his institution. It doesn’t seem very good for his longevity.
“‘. . . The alternative medicines do seem to slow it down temporarily. They’re being very aggressive at this time because the cancer once again seems to be spreading. My concern is not so much my own health but more importantly, the health of our institution, the health of my disciples, and in general how my life and impending death can create value in helping us all to connect deeper as Vaishnava sadhus, how to serve and protect each other better, to live our lives with much more compassion and to live in such a way that we help to minimize the sufferings of others while we strengthen our own abilities to connect with transcendence.’”
“Why have they handed me this letter? They admit that they received the letter before we went to the concert. They didn’t want to disturb me with it. How might it disturb me? Because I would probably consider again going to see him before there is no chance to see him.
“Then they hand me another piece of paper, an e-mail message from Guru dasi, the outreach coordinator of ISKCON Houston. It is a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity for personal book distribution at the Houston International Festival. She describes it as Houston’s largest festival, sponsored by the city and large corporations, with an attendance of 150K people over two weekends:
“‘Every year, the festival showcases a different country, and this year the country is India. The dates are April 23–24 and April 30–May 1. The festival has six different areas. The principle one is called “Incredible India.” Here they have a special area for literature from India, where writers can display, sign, and sell their books. We were thinking that we could get you a table in this area to display and sign your books . . . . We believe that you have written more about Indian philosophy and culture than any of the other writers who are coming. . . . This would be a wonderful opportunity to get your books to people outside of ISKCON. They also have an artists’ colony, where you could display / sell your art if you so desire. We understand that your health is precarious and that you don’t travel much. We promise to arrange suitable accommodations / prasadam, and we will not demand anything more than your presence at the festival site for as long as you choose.’
“Chipmunk slaps his hand to his knee and says, ‘Now that’s an opportunity I can’t refuse.’ And they plan a tour to include both a visit to Bhakti-tirtha Maharaja in Washington, a stay-over at Saci-suta’s in New York until it’s time for the Houston festival, and then a flight down to Houston in time for the weekend of sitting and signing books.
“My counselor is worried on the one hand that I might not be able to take it all, since after the one-nighter in San Francisco I came back pacing myself and tired. It would be a challenge to see if I had the strength to make a quantum leap from invalid to active traveler-preacher. My counselor keeps assuring me that if things get painful, at any moment I can cancel, and there’s nothing wrong with that. My trouble is I anticipate too much, think ahead. That’s why it’s called ‘anticipatory anxiety migraine.’ I think of the planes I’m going to get on, I think of the faces I’m going to meet. I prefer that I relax Taoistic, living by the moment. Just take it easy and don’t think of what’s ahead. Lie back and face the moment, that’s all you have to do. As much as possible, live like that. And your best friend is the moment-by-moment writing. That’s why we say write and die. Because there’s nothing else to do but just that.”
I am counseling a devotee with mental problems. I am not a psychiatrist, so disorders like schizophrenia are over my head. But I can give compassionate hearing to someone who is willing to be confessional, and I can give Krsna conscious advice. I can encourage a devotee to follow the four rules and chant sixteen attentive rounds, as this is the basis of sane behavior. So many anxieties can be subdued if one follows this sadhana. One can join a twelve-point program to deal with specific sinful addiction. One has to be completely honest with me for me to help.
In speaking their homages to Srila Prabhupada on his Vyasa-puja, some devotees mentioned epiphany moments. Sraddha devi dasi said she was attracted to Krsna consciousness at seventeen years old, but she had doubts about Prabhupada’s motives. Then she had a wonderful dream. She was sitting close to Prabhupada and observing him singing kirtanas with his devotees. Sraddha felt it was very pleasurable. Suddenly Prabhupada turned to her and said, “Chant Hare Krsna.” She obeyed and was completely blissful. After that dream, all her doubts about Srila Prabhupada’s motives disappeared, and she accepted him as her spiritual master—not officially, but in her heart.
Haridasa read his homage from the Tributes book. He said from the beginning he was advised by a devotee to practice listening to Prabhupada’s lecture recordings. He took this up and loved it, and found it very beneficial. Some time later, while he was walking through the courtyard of the Dallas temple, he heard Prabhupada speaking on a recording. Prabhupada said, “You must be convinced: Krsnas tu bhagavan svayam.” Haridasa said this phrase went deep into his being and has stayed there indelibly over the years, inspiring him and helping him greatly in his relationship with Krsna.
“A newspaper article arrived from the United States. I showed Prabhupada a January 23rd article from the Boston Globe titled, ‘The Hare Krsna Puzzle.’ I said it had pros and cons. He asked to hear the cons. I began one statement which described the devotees as parasites. ‘We are not parasites,’ he said, ‘we are giving the best literature in the world. Does this literature come from illiterate hippies? We are accepted by scholars. Are we parasites? Then the high court judge is a parasite. They do not know what is a parasite. An intelligent person is not supposed to work like a dog or an ass. They work with their brains. Only a rascal sees the judge sitting, and because he is talking a little and getting a high salary, someone may say he is a parasite because he is not working like a common laborer. They do not know the value of using the brain.’
“I said, ‘They call us “parasites.” They are referring to the begging in the streets.’
‘It is not begging,’ he said, ‘it is humility. If a father begs from his child, “My dear boy, please give me back that ten dollar note that you have foolishly taken and do not know how to use”—if I see this and say that the father is begging, that is childish. If I sell a book, is it begging?’
“I said, ‘Sometimes we don’t give books, but only flowers.’
“He said, ‘That is also humility. Mostly we give books, so don’t bring that in about the flowers. But that is also not restricted, that is humility. In India, highly scholarly persons beg. They are even given the title, “Biksus Tridandi Swami,” which means begging. The sannyasis beg to learn pridelessness and humility. In Vedic culture it is allowed. The brahmacaris, sannyasis, and brahmanas are allowed to beg alms.’
“‘But what if the culture is entirely different?’ I asked.
“‘Yes, your culture is different,’ he said. ‘Therefore, there are hippies and murderers in the name of religion. Because there is no culture, you have killing—bombing—making the whole atmosphere abominable.’
“‘A brahmacari begs just to learn humility; even if he is from a big family, he does so in order to become meek. And Christ said, “To the meek, God is available.” You don’t know this culture. You have a culture to kill a child, so how will you understand this higher culture?’ He said we should learn to defend ourselves like this.
“I mentioned to him that the opposition is claiming that it is not a matter of freedom of religion, but that we are guilty of mind control. He said that ‘One whose mind is already in Krsna consciousness—they want to control his mind. They are guilty of mind control, not us. They take him, kidnap him, and force him.’
“He asked if the article mentioned Krsna. I said, ‘Yes, many times.’
“‘Then it is all right,’ he said.
“I said, ‘The article is called “The Hare Krsna Puzzle”; they say it is a great puzzle whether the Hare Krsna movement is good or bad.’
“‘At least,’ he said, ‘they are now considering. Formerly they said it was bad. Now we have come to the marginal point, whether Hare Krsna is good or bad. Finally they will come to the point, yes, it is good.’
“We should take these instructions to heart and mind. Sometimes someone may say to us about our dress or something, ‘Well, that may be all right in India. What you are doing is following some entirely different culture.’ Then we can say yes, it certainly is a different culture. This culture is a culture of cats and dogs. This culture is a culture where you kill children in the womb. Yes, it is a very different culture, but we are trying to give you a brain so that you can understand real culture. In this way, we do not have to fall into that relative bag of, ‘Oh well, that may be all right in India to beg, but this is America.’ We can just say, ‘Yes, this is America and therefore it is so degraded. We want you to learn what real culture is.’ This is Prabhupada’s example. He never descends into someone else’s estimation of us and then tries to defend us on that level: ‘Please like us.’ Rather, he says, ‘You are rascal,’ and we stay on our Krsna conscious platform.”
synonym: see dull
The Srimad-Bhagavatam verses and Srila Prabhupada’s purports are not obtuse. They are completely clear and accessible. Although they describe realities beyond this worldly one, it is all perfectly clear. One just has to accept it with submissive aural reception. There is nothing cloudy or dull about the speeches of Sukadeva Gosvami and Srila Vyasadeva. The Bhagavad-gita is clear and precise in thought and expression. The nondevotees do not take it as it is but cover over its clear meaning with their concocted interpretations. Then it becomes obtuse. The Srimad-Bhagavatam is “as brilliant as the sun,” and it does not need interpretive “torches” to see it. Everything is perfectly clear to the submissive and clear mind of a reader who takes Krsna as He is.
These are the qualities of a devotee. He knows he is not this body, and so he is detached when there is material adversity. He takes it that the difficulty is coming as a token karmic reaction to his past sinful acts. He surrenders to Krsna and patiently waits for His mercy. He remains steady by his trust in the Lord and stays on the spiritual platform. In this way one can be patient in the face of provocation or strain. This is the way to do it, not by practicing strength and forbearance without dependence on Krsna, or by taking shelter of calming medicines.
This is just the opposite of a Vaisnava devotee. A devotee of Visnu is not a hedonist. He or she is not a sensualist, but he avoids the four sinful activities, illicit sex, intoxication, meat-eating and gambling. He uses his senses in the service of Krsna, for Krsna’s pleasure. A devotee is just the opposite of a pagan.