Pusta Gopika Devi Dasi's Posts (72)


It is possible to practice Krishna Consciousness without being vegetarian. However, you should be aware that nonviolence to all living entities is very important for anyone's spiritual development. Offering what one eats to Krishna and taking the remnants as prasadam is even more important, and Krishna does not accept any non-vegetarian offerings.

Krishna devotees don't consider themselves "vegetarian." Even pigeons and monkeys are vegetarian, and there's not much virtue in being a pigeon or a monkey. Technically, devotees of Krishna are "prasad-ivores," meaning that we only eat what has been offered to Krishna. We offer Him what He likes—fruits, veggies, milk products, grains etc. If you want to become Krishna conscious, at least eat what Krishna likes, and offer them to Krishna—at least in your mind—before eating.

Other aspects of Krishna Consciousness that you can take up without becoming vegetarian are chanting Hare Krishna and reading Srila Prabhupada's books. You can listen to lectures online from Srila Prabhupada and other senior devotees and associate with devotees online as well. These are things you can do immediately and without any problem, regardless of your eating habits or proximity to a temple.

You say you live far away, but really no one is far away anymore. The world is small enough to fit into a computer screen. Take advantage of that by associating with devotees from all over the world, any time, from anywhere. I suggest you check out ISKCONdesiretree.com. There you will find unlimited ways to connect with devotees and Krishna Consciousness.

If you're able to use a computer—which I assume you are since you're asking these questions on Krishna.com—perhaps you can attend classes on Skype, or participate in other online classes. My son is a quadriplegic, yet he manages to do many, many interactive things via the computer.

If you're really interested in taking up the process of Krishna Consciousness, there are so many options for serving, hearing, chanting, and finding out more and more about Krishna. As your Krishna consciousness develops, you'll naturally become inclined to give up eating meat, gambling, intoxication, and illicit sexual connection. Where there is a will, there is a way. Ultimately, every devotee aspires to follow these four regulative principles but don't stop trying to become Krishna conscious just because you don't currently follow any of them. Just do what you can and Krishna will help you.

I hope this is helpful.
Laxmimoni dasi.

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Story of Dadhichi Rishi

Rishis and sadhus perform tapas for the benefit of mankind and all creation. They tolerate hardships and insults without any thought of personal gain. One such rishi was Dadhichi. He willingly offered his body to save the devas.
Once a Brahmin named Vrutra became the head of the demons. He gave up his dharma – duty – of doing good to others. Instead he turned to violence and began to battle with the devas. Hence, he became known as Vrutrasur. ‘Asur’ means demon. He began to win. The devas became frightened against his evil might. Along with Indra, they approached Shri Vishnu for help. He told them that he could not be destroyed with ordinary weapons.
“Only a weapon made from the bones of a saintly rishi will kill Vrutrasur,” revealed Vishnu.
“But nobody will give up his beloved body. Who would die to provide a weapon?” inquired the devas.
“O devas! Go to Dadhichi rishi. Make a weapon with his bones. A saintly sage will not worry about giving up his life for the good of others. Ask Dadhichi for his bones as bhikhsha – alms.” 
The devas went off in search of Dadhichi rishi. When they reached his ashram, they felt anxious. Would the rishi help?
“What can I do for you?” asked Dadhichi rishi.
“Vrutrasur, the leader of the demons, is destroying us. We are losing against his evil might. So we asked Shri Vishnu for help. He advised us to make a weapon from your bones. O great rishi, please help us and deliver us from this evil,” pleaded the devas humbly.
The supreme donor is one who gives happily what is asked.
“O devas!” said Dadhichi. “It is better that my bones help you attain victory, rather than rot in the ground. The message of Sanatan Dharma is to remain happy in the happiness of others. Here, I give you my body.”
So saying, he sat in meditation and meditated upon Paramatma. With his yogic power he then left his human body.
The devas collected the bones. Indra made the vajra weapon from them. With this the devas battled with Vrutrasur. It is said that the battle lasted for 360 days. In the end the devas won. In the beginning, the devas fought with their own might and lost. Now with the help, guidance and blessings of God, they won.
In life we should always first seek guidance from God and the God-realised Sadhu for success and happiness.
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"What if a woman is married to a man who is not a devotee?” The author—who qualified her answer by stating that it assumed “the husband is a normal man and not a homicidal maniac”—then went on to state that “all women have just one duty or dharma in this world—to serve her husband.” This she referred to as “stri-dharma.”

Sundari Radhika says in her article that any husband, whether he is “qualified” or not, is a direct representative of Krishna and the wife should serve him no matter what. She even goes so far as to say, “If the husband wants her to serve him meat, alcohol, sex, etc, she should serve him,” thus seeming to give men leeway to do whatever they want.

While some readers commenting on the article agreed with elements of it, most found it immature, unrealistic, and imbalanced.

For a more balanced view on the subject, ISKCON News approached Krsnanandini Dasi, who along with her husband Tariq Ziyad is a member of the Grihasta Vision Team (GVT), a group of certified marriage and family therapists dedicated to the health of ISKCON devotee marriages.

Prevention is Better than Cure

One of the GVT’s strongest recommendations, which Krsnanandini advocates before anything else, is that both female and male devotees do everything they can before marriage to make sure they get a partner who is compatible with them in Krishna consciousness and in everything else in life. This eliminates the kind of
husband, and difficulties with him, that Sundari Radhika talks about in her article.

As they say, ‘An ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure.’

“We like to encourage devotees to get at least ten to twelve hours of pre-marital education with qualified marriage and family educators who themselves have healthy Krishna conscious marriages,” Krsnanandini says. “Examine what both of your motives are, what your goals are, and look realistically at your expectations of each other. What roles do you see yourselves playing? For instance, the traditional role of a wife may be to cook, clean and do the laundry, but what if she works full-time just like the man? It’s also important to learn good communication and conflict resolution skills, to deal with some of the baggage that both people bring from their families of origin, and even to discuss how you will manage your finances.”

A Mature Approach

Of course, there may be cases where such a ‘prepared marriage’ is not possible—for instance, if an already-married woman becomes a devotee, and her husband does not.

It’s important to find the right advice from a mature devotee who truly cares about your welfare in this kind of situation, as illustrated by an example Krsnanandini gives, which shows that there is sometimes still a shocking lack of understanding about our philosophy even in today’s ISKCON.

“I recently introduced a new devotee to Krishna consciousness,” Krsnanandini says. “She was so excited, studying and learning about the philosophy, and finally went to stay at an ISKCON temple. While she was there, however, one of the devotees told her that she would have to leave her husband in order to be a real devotee!”

Close to tears, the woman called Krsnanandini, who advised her to be careful with devotees who were sincere but lacked understanding. She then reminded her that her husband was a good man who supported her being a devotee, even though he had not chosen to be one himself; and that they had a good relationship.

“To me, this is a very good, healthy and favorable situation for you to continue practicing Krishna consciousness in,” Krsnanandini said. “And if you continue to be a good wife and a good example, your husband may gradually feel more and more inclined to appreciate some of the things that you’re doing to become a more purified person.”

At these words, the woman felt hopeful.

The same mature approach is recommended for cases where there are problems in marriages where both partners are devotees.

“There was one Vaishnava couple whom I worked with as a marriage and family educator, where one spouse didn’t want to have sex anymore, and the other was not quite able to do that,” Krsnanandini says. “Both, however, were sincere devotees trying to make progress in spiritual life. So should the spouse that doesn’t want to have sex leave? No! They should see this as something Krishna wants them to work out together, to help each other.”

Even in a situation where an already-married woman becomes a devotee, and her husband is completely unfavorable and unsupportive, Krsnanandini would recommend working on the relationship, rather than any hasty separation. We should see our service to our husbands and wives as devotional service which pleases the Lord, and be careful not to simply quit the marriage any time there’s a problem.

“A Chaste Woman is Advised Not to Agree to Serve Such a Husband”

However, disagreeing with Sundari Radhika’s perspective that a wife should serve her husband no matter what, the Vedas say that all acts must be performed according to ‘desa, kala, patra’—time, place and circumstance. ISKCON Founder Srila Prabhupada cited this many times in conversations and in his purports such as that to Srimad-Bhagavatam 7.14.34.

“With mature, intelligent consideration, we should figure out how to properly apply scriptural principles in our particular situation,” Krsnanandini says. “Prabhupada often said that details can be adjusted or changed, but principles cannot. When a devotee asked him, ‘How do we know the difference between a principle and a detail?’ he thought for a moment and then replied, ‘It requires some intelligence.’ So Prabhupada wanted us to use our intelligence, rather than to follow blindly.”

Thus, the scriptural injunction—in Krishna consciousness as well as across most spiritual paths—is that once one gets married, one should not get divorced.

“However, if our spouse—in this case, the husband—perpetuates repeated and prolonged instances of degraded and immoral conduct that renders the devotee wife unable to continue her service to Krishna,” says Krsnanandini, “Then she can separate from that man.”

For Vaishnavas in the Chaitanya tradition, Sanatana-Dharma—or reconnecting the conditioned soul with Krishna—trumps all other types of dharma, including stri-dharma.

Thus, while we respect stri-dharma, the overarching question in everything we do should be “What is most advantageous to my making progress in Krishna consciousness?”

In this connection, the Sri Chaitanya Charitamrita, 15.265, clearly states, “When a husband is fallen, one’s relationship with him must be given up.”

In the purport to Srimad-Bhagavatam 7.11.28, Srila Prabhupada gives a direct answer to Sundari Radhika’s claim that “If the husband wants her to serve him meat, alcohol, sex, etc, she should serve him.” Prabhupada writes, “A chaste woman is advised not to agree to serve such a husband. It is not that a chaste woman should be like a slave while her husband is naradhama, the lowest of men.”

In the Chaitanya Charitamrita, the great devotee Sarvabhauma Bhattacarya says, “Inform my daughter Sathi to abandon her relationship with her husband because he has fallen down. When the husband falls down, it is the wife’s duty to relinquish the relationship.”

Krsnanandini reminds us that of course, separation such as this should never be done lightly, but only after very deep reflection, consideration, and advice from elders in the community that one trusts and respects.

“Men Want their Wife to be Sita, But they Don’t Want to be Rama.”

Interestingly, in his purport to the Chaitanya Charitamrita verse about Sarvabhauma’s daughter, Prabhupada quotes Srimad-Bhagavatam 5.5.18: “One cannot be a husband if he cannot liberate his dependents from inevitable death.” Prabhupada also states that “If a person is not in Krishna consciousness and is bereft of spiritual power, he cannot protect his wife from the path of repeated birth and death. Consequently such a person cannot be accepted as a husband.”

Prabhupada also writes in the Srimad Bhagavatam 4.26.17: “Actually, the woman must always be protected by her husband. We always speak of the Goddess of Fortune as being placed on the chest of Narayana. In other words, the wife must remain embraced by her husband. Thus she becomes beloved and well protected.”

This shows that the husband also has a very serious duty to protect and serve his wife. It does not endorse a one-sided, unhealthy relationship as Sundari Radhika seems to do in her article, with comments such as this one: “The wife should not be rude, critical or fight with the husband, as this would be greater than any sin he may possess. His faults should be dealt with by his superiors or equals, not by his subordinate (his wife).”

“There tends to be so much expectation of the woman,” says Krsnanandini. “But what is the expectation of the man? If you want a healthy Krishna conscious marriage, you need both a good wife, and the kind of husband that the wife can respect and appreciate. As ISKCON guru Radhanath Swami says, ‘Men want their wife to be Sita, but they don’t want to be Rama.’”

In a healthy relationship, Krsnanandini explains, the wife wants to serve the husband, and the husband wants to serve the wife—service is a mutual expression of love. In the ancient text Ramayana, when Lord Rama was banished from his kingdom to the forest, he wanted his wife Sita to stay behind, out of concern that the forest life would be too hard for her. But when she insisted that she wanted come with him, he honored her desire. Meanwhile, when Sita was kidnapped by the handsome and powerful Ravana, she remained faithful to Rama. And he literally crossed oceans and destroyed armies to protect her.

In the Srimad-Bhagavatam, Kardama Muni and his wife Devahuti are also cited as the ideal husband and wife. Devahuti, a princess, devotedly served her husband Kardama, who was an ascetic, to the point where she forgot about her own needs and became thin and malnourished. Wanting to serve her in return, Kardama gave her the family—nine children—and security that she wanted, creating no less than a flying city for her with palaces, gardens, and maidservants! This kind of reciprocation makes for a healthy, loving marriage.

Steer Clear of Misconceptions with Mature Guidance

Finally, in responding to Sundari Radhika’s article, it is important to discuss her citing of Srila Prabhupada’s sister, Pishima, as an example of why women should serve their husbands no matter what kind of a person they are.

According to the article, Pishima’s husband was “a rogue, meat eater, he drank alcohol, he was a woman-hunter, spending money on gambling, etc.” The article then states that when Pishima asked Prabhupada what to do, “he advised her to do what she learned from her mother—to serve her husband, and to pray to Sri Krishna for the best interest of her husband. And not to argue with her husband.” According to the article, this was successful, and eventually Pishima’s husband changed his ways.

In her own words, the author also says that Prabhupada “didn’t advise her to divorce her husband, or to complain to various women’s ministries about him.”

Using this story out of context, and along with such personal commentary, is dangerous, and seems to insinuate that women should stay in an abusive situation and not get help.

“Both Srila Prabhupada and his sister Pishima were pure devotees,” says Krsnanandini. “If a great soul is able to stay with a fallen husband and triumph, that doesn’t mean we should copy them. We are directed by the scriptures to follow the example of pure devotees in the sense of their service to the Lord—but never to imitate them. As Prabhupada said, Lord Shiva can drink an ocean of poison, but we cannot, and so we should not try to copy him.”

Krsnanandini warns that we cannot artificially see our sister suffering in an abusive relationship and say “It’s okay, they’re doing their dharma.” When we are taught to be concerned about an animal being tortured, how can we sit idly by while one of our fellow devotees is tortured? That is not Krishna consciousness.

“And no one should stay in a dangerous or abusive relationship without seeking the help of other Vaishnavas who are concerned about their welfare,” Krsnanandini adds. “Ministries like Vaishnavas CARE and the ISKCON Women’s Ministry are there for devotees to reach out to. And they exist because unfortunately the issue of women being abused even in our own movement still exists.”

Thus devotees who are looking to have healthy Krishna conscious marriages should steer clear of misconceptions about the philosophy by taking the guidance of mature, qualified persons. The Grihasta Vision Team, for instance, consists entirely of senior devotee couples who have been in successful marriages for a long time and who are also certified marriage and family educators.

The Team offers an in-depth seminar on relationship skills called Strengthening the Bonds that Free Us, as well as one-on-one services such as pre-marital education to couples, both in person and over the phone. Next year, they will release Heart and Soul Connections, an honest, practical and spiritually grounded book on how to have healthy, joyous marriages in Krishna consciousness. They also travel to different communities to train couples in how to become mentor marriage educators in their own community.

“The other day, my husband and I were at the Sunday Feast in ISKCON Chicago, and at least three couples came up to us and thanked us, telling us that a seminar we gave seven years ago helped them so much!” says Krsnanandini. “So both such education, and healthy discussions like the one Sundari Radhika’s article inspired, are very effective in assisting devotees to navigate good, Krishna conscious relationships.”

For more information, or to receive brochures on marriage and parenting, please visit www.vaishnavafamilyresources.org, or email Gvisionteam108@yahoo.com. To contact Krsnanandini Dasi personally, please email krsna@dzfi.org.

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Srimati Radharani's Appearance

Srimati Radharani is the eternal consort of Lord Krishna. Five thousand years ago, when Lord Krishna came to this planet to perform His pastimes, Srimati Radharani also appeared. This special day is known as Radhashtami. The following is adapted from a lecture by His Holiness Varshana Swami:

“On a half-moon night in the month of Bhadra, King Vrishabhanu came to the Jamuna to bathe and found himself engulfed in a golden aura, the golden aura of pure love. It was emanating from a lotus, which had a baby girl standing on its whorl. When the king returned to the palace with the baby, Queen Kirtida was delighted. She was also shocked that the girl was blind.

“Lord Krishna’s mother, Yashoda, heard that her best friend Kirtida had a baby, so she came to visit along with her husband and her son. Krishna crawled up to the cradle and pulled Himself up and looked in. At that moment, Srimati Radharani’s eyes fluttered and opened wide and blossomed like lotuses. It seems that she did not want to see anything of this world, only the form of Sri Krishna. Everyone was delighted.

“Srimati Radharani is the mother of the universe, the spiritual mother of all souls. And the concept of mother is the most sacred symbol—that of purity, selflessness, caring, sharing, nurturing, and love. That is why our sacred mantra is the holy names. It is the holy names in the vocative. Hare Krishna, Hare Krishna, Krishna Krishna, Hare Hare / Hare Rama, Hare Rama, Rama Rama, Hare Hare.

“‘Hare’ means ‘Radhe.’ It is a plaintive, desperate cry for the mother. ‘Radhe! Please wake us up from this nightmare of mortal life! Remind us of the father we have forgotten and take us home!’”

In the Krishna consciousness movement, devotees carefully worship Srimati Radharani as the bestower of devotional service to Krishna, by attentively chanting her name in the maha-mantra, by worshiping her deity form, and by following the instructions of the most merciful Sri Chaitanya Mahaprabhu, who is the combined form of Radha and Krishna.

“(Therefore) Radha is parama-devata, the supreme goddess, and She is worshipable for everyone. She is the protectress of all, and She is the mother of the entire universe.” —Caitanya Caritamrita, Adi 4.89

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What are the Vedas?

What are the Vedas?

by Atma-tattva dasa

The Vedic scriptures are the spiritual literature of the ancient Indian culture, written in the Sanskrit language. They are comprised of a huge collection of books which include material (mundane), religious (ritualistic) as well as spiritual (monotheistic) knowledge. The expression "Vedic" is derived from the Sanskrit word veda, which means knowledge or revelation. According to the Vedic history, they were written down thousands of years ago. The date, however, is not very important because, without a doubt, the knowledge contained in these scriptures was existing a long time before it was written down.

The Veda may be understood by simply accepting what the Veda says about itself. Since the Vedic self-understanding may be amazing or even unbelievable to the modern reader, it seems important to dedicate a few sentences to the clarification of probable misunderstandings. The different opinions about the origin and history of the Vedic scriptures are due to the fundamental difference of world-views between the followers of the Veda and modern mundane scholars.

According to the Indological world-view, such a thing as "Vedic scripture" doesn't even exist. The collection of books mentioned in the beginning of this article is not a consistent body of knowledge—modern Indology says—but a mere accumulation of texts from different sources, written over a long period of time, starting about 1000 or 1500 B.C., after the hypothetical Aryan invasion into the Indian Subcontinent. Only then, a "Vedic" culture was formed through the mixture of tribes. If we believe this scenario, then it is natural to think that the Indian scriptures are nothing but a mass of unsystematic mythological texts.

Needless to say that the Vedic scriptures themselves maintain a completely different version. They refer to very ancient cultures, timeless revelations and divine incarnations. They also say that the entire body of Vedic knowledge has a systematic structure and a clearly defined goal, being compiled by the great Vedic Rishis (seers and sages), headed by Vyasadeva, about five thousand years ago. This knowledge was then systematically put into a written form in order to prevent it from being lost during in the upcoming age, which was foreseen as the Kali-yuga, the Iron Age, the most fallen in the cycle of ages.

The structure of the Vedic scriptures can be compared to a staircase with many steps, with specific scriptures corresponding to each step. The Vedic scriptures describe both the goal and the steps leading up to this goal. They are non-sectarian because they respect people of all "steps"; they simply encourage everyone to progress up to the next step. There is no question of converting or pushing, because everyone has to walk for himself or herself. Or, as the Vedic saying goes, "Even in a flock of birds, each bird has to fly for itself."

The individual evolution is not limited to one single life. The Vedic understanding is based on the concept of reincarnation, which declares that the steps of this symbolical staircase can also be understood as lifetimes. In other words, the almost proverbial "Hindu" tolerance is originally based on a solid philosophical understanding and shouldn't be confused with the attitudes of merging, indifference, or "Everything is one."

From a superficial point of view, the Vedic scriptures may appear to be unsystematic and even contradictory, but this impression can easily be reconciled by finding out how each step is connected with the goal.

The four Vedas: The scriptures of this category are generally labeled as the original Vedic scriptures. These four Vedas are known as Rig, Yajur, Sama and Atharva. Rig means ritual, and it contains mainly hymns and prayers (Mantras) in the worship of the universal forces called the demigods. Yajur means ceremony, and it mainly describes how to perform the rituals. Sama means singing; the scriptures of these categories contain many other mantras as well as strict rules how to chant these mantras according to mystic vibrations. Atharva means a priest who knows the secret lore; these scriptures describe many different kinds of worship and invocations. In a broader sense, many other scriptures of material knowledge are also counted in the Atharva, like the Ayurveda (pharmacological sciences and the means to maintain health.)

All of these teachings are supposed to encourage a human being to understand that he is not an independent entity, rather he is a part of a universal body, depending on many higher forces. The most important lesson of these four Vedas is to learn that everyone has to accept higher authorities. If you link up with these divine forces through the proper form and contents (ritual and understanding), then you will profit materially and experience some peace and harmony.

Tantric scriptures: Not everybody is inclined to follow the methods of the Vedas which demand strictness, purity, faith and patience. Impatient, ignorant people demand results on the spot, and these can be obtained by magic, ghost worship, etc. By providing such knowledge, the Vedic scriptures encourage the faith of such occult people so that one day, or lifetime, they may develop interest in the higher aspects of the Veda. These literatures are within the modes of passion and ignorance.

The Upanishads: Woven into the four Vedas are different kinds of philosophical discussions, like the Aranyakas and Brahmanas. Most significant are the Upanishads ("sitting beneath," i.e. knowledge obtained from a spiritual teacher). These texts indicate that all material forms are transient; they are temporary manifestations of an eternal energy, which in itself is beyond material duality. They indicate the oneness behind the variety and inspire people engaged in the rituals of the Vedas to go beyond their short-term goals.

Vedanta-sutra: 560 condensed aphorisms which define the Vedic truths in most general terms in order to provide a common ground of argument to all different kinds of philosophical schools. Therefore, the commentaries to the Vedanta-sutras are voluminous.

Itihasas: These are the historical works, mainly the Ramayana (the history of the incarnation Rama), the 18 Puranas and 18 Sub-Puranas (universal history of creation and annihilation, the incarnations and the great kings, saints and teachers), and the Mahabharata (the history of ancient India [called Bharata], leading up to the appearance of Krishna five thousand years ago). These scriptures are essential because they expand the understanding of the Absolute beyond the abstract, impersonal platform. The Absolute is supremely perfect and complete; that's why it is both impersonal AND personal. Actually, the personal aspect is the original source of the secondary impersonal existence of the Lord, since an impersonal energy cannot be the source of persons. The Itihasas reveal this personal feature, gradually introducing and identifying it, culminating in the purely monotheistic revelations of Bhagavad-gita and Srimad-Bhagavatam.

Bhagavad-gita and Srimad-Bhagavatam: These sacred texts are designated even by the Vedic scriptures themselves as the most important, essential revelations. They directly describe the nature, energy and person of God, who is both the immanent (as Vishnu) and transcendent (as Krishna) source of everything, the cause of all causes, of both the impersonal and personal manifestations.Bhagavad-gita ("God's Song") is the words spoken BY God, and Srimad-Bhagavatam ("Divine Revelation") is the words ABOUT God, spoken by the representatives of God.

This implicit structure of the Vedic scriptures sheds new light on the entire Vedic tradition and deserves closer examination. However, since these scriptures want to lead us to the supreme goal—God—it is not sufficient to merely study them theoretically. They imply practical consequences. Mere academic study of the Vedic scriptures can be compared to reading a cookbook or a musical composition. If we don't come to the point of actually cooking or playing, we've missed the point.

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How is it possible to control the mind?
by Laxmimoni dasi

It is certainly worthwhile knowing how to control the mind. Lord Krishna says in the Bhagavad-gita that the mind can be controlled by constant "practice and detachment."(—Bhagavad-gita, 6.35). He says that wherever and whenever the mind wanders, due to its flickering and unsteady nature, we must bring it back under the control of the Self (—Bhagavad-gita, 6.26).

The mind is like a child; a child is attracted to everything. It wants everything but not all things are good for it. Some things are even harmful...so the parent must discipline...Sometimes the child becomes angry and cries but the parent is determined to give the best thing even if at first it seems uncomfortable to the child.

In a similar way the intelligence and the spiritual being that we are must control the mind. The mind is attracted to so many material things and everywhere we look, someone is telling us that if just have one material thing or another then we will be happy...but it always proves to be false.

No matter how much we get, still we're dissatisfied. So the mind must be disciplined and by practice we must learn to pull it away from those things that are not good for it. Detachment is helpful because if we can understand that real happiness comes not from material things, but rather from a loving relationship with Krishna, then we can become detached from all the pushings of material desires and we can control the mind.

Therefore, "constant practice and detachment." Ultimately, we must develop a higher taste. Lord Krishna says, "The embodied soul may be restricted from sense enjoyment, though the taste for sense objects remains. But, ceasing such engagements by experiencing a higher taste, he is fixed in consciousness." (— Bhagavad-gita 2:59).

That higher taste is engaging in devotional service, the easiest of which is chanting the Lord's holy Names: Hare Krishna Hare Krishna Krishna Krishna Hare Hare Hare Rama Hare Rama Rama Rama Hare Hare.

I hope this is helpful.

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Offering a Lamp in Karthik month

Take time to offer a Lamp in Kartik Month (28nd Oct – 25th Nov 2015)


(Sri Radha Damodarji at Sri Vrindavan)

Just as there is no yuga equal to Satya-yuga, no scripture equal to the Vedas, and no place of pilgrimage equal to the Ganges, so there is no month equal to Kartika. Even unserious persons who execute devotional service according to the regulative principles during the month of Karttika, and within the jurisdiction of Mathura (or Vrindavana) in India, are very easily awarded the Lord's personal service". During the Kartika month millions of devotees worship Damodara Krishna with ghee lamps and devotional bhajans, glorifying His playful childhood pastime of stealing yogurt. (H.H. Mahanidhi Swami)

"When one offers a lamp during the month of Karttika, his sins in many thousands and millions of births perish in half an eye blink."

"Please hear the glories of offering a lamp during pleasing to Lord Kesava. O King of brahmanas, a person who offers a lamp in this way will not take birth again in this world."

"By offering a lamp during the month of Karttika one attains a pious result ten million times greater than the result obtained by bathing at Kuruksetra during a solar eclipse or by bathing in the river Narmada during a lunar eclipse."

"O Tiger among sages! For a person who thus offers a lamp burning with ghee or sesame oil, what is the use of performing an asvasmedha-yajna? "

"Even if there are no mantras, no pious deeds, and no purity, everything becomes perfect when a person offers a lamp during the month of Karttika."

"A person who during the month of Karttika offers a lamp to Lord Kesava has already performed all yajnas and bathing in all holy rivers. "

"The ancestors say: When someone in our family pleases Lord Kesava by offering to Him a lamp during the month of Karttika, then, by the mercy of the Lord who holds the Sudarsana-cakra in His Hand, we will all attain liberation."

"By offering a lamp during the month of Karttika one burns away a collection of sins as big as Mount Meru or Mount Mandara. Of this there is no doubt."

"A person who offers a lamp during the month of Karttika attains a result that cannot be obtained with even a hundred yajnas or a hundred pilgrimages."

"Even a person addicted to all sins and averse to all pious deeds who somehow offer a lamp during Karttika becomes purified. Of this there is no doubt."

"O Narada, no sin exists anywhere in the three worlds that will not be purified by offering a lamp to Lord Kesava during Karttika."

"A person who offers a lamp to Lord Krishna during Karttika attains the eternal spiritual world where there is no suffering."

"As fire is present in all wood and may be extracted by friction, so piety is always present in the offering of a lamp during the month of Karttika. Of this there is no doubt."

"O King of brahmanas, when someone offers Him a lamp on the full-moon day of the month of Karttika, Lord Krishna, finding that He does not have sufficient money to repay that gift, gives Himself in exchange for that lamp."

"One who offers a steady lamp to Lord Hari during the month of Karttika enjoys pastimes in Lord Hari's splendid spiritual world."

Even one who never performs religious rituals or even the worst sinner will surely be purified by this offering. O Narada, in the three worlds there is no sin that can stand before this Kartika dipa. In fact, by presenting this dipa before Lord Vasudeva, the eternal abode can be reached without obstruction.

"All the results acquired by donating grains during pitri-paksha or by distributing water in the hot months of Jyeshtha or Ashadha are easily gained in the course of Kartika merely by reviving (relighting) a dipa offered by someone else."

All glories to beautiful Lordship Sri Sri Radha Damodarji!
All glories to Kartik Masa!

"In Kartik month, after bathing in the morning, one should worship Lord Damodara. At night, one should light brilliant lamps filled with either ghee or sesame-seed oil, and place them in these places - in the Lord's temple, around the base of tulasi plants, and in the sky. During the month of Kartika, one should eat only vegetarian foodstuffs and Bhagavan's prasad remnants. There should be incessant harinama-kirtana and smarana. The sole activity to be done during the observance of Damodara-vrata is the worship of Sri Sri Radha-Damodara." – Srila Bhaktivinod Thakura 

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With More Strength than a Million Suns ....
A New Year's Message of Hope

Night is falling quickly this winter evening, and it is snowing again. I am sitting in our little Gaura Bhavan Ashram, on the shore of Lake Wannensee, and thinking about each of you whom I met during the past year. I want to send you a message of hope - realistic hope.

Throughout my pilgrimage to Vrindavan, India, a sweet realization entered my awareness again and again. That is, Krishna is unlimitedly merciful. We simply need to be willing to accept His mercy and turn to Him.

The problem is, though, that often His mercy is not easy for us to recognize, and that's especially true when we're overburdened by challenging life situations or plain, old doubts. I learned something about doubt on this trip to India, because while sitting under a tree at Govinda-kunda I met one practitioner of bhakti who expressed his doubt to me. He said, "I have been practicing bhakti-yoga now for more than ten years, but I cannot even control my agitated and self-centered mind what to speak of develop love for Krishna. There seems to be obstacles on my path as tall as the Himalayan Mountains, and both the darkness of material consciousness and the general atmosphere of Kali-yuga are overwhelming. On some days I feel hopeless."

Fortunately, I was well equipped to answer his doubt since just that morning I found a message of hope in the eighteenth chapter (text 56) of the Bhagavad-gita. There Krishna says, "Under My protection My devotee reaches My eternal abode."

Srila Prabhupada writes in his purport to this verse: "To a devotee who is engaged in Krishna consciousness, the Lord is very, very kind. In spite of all difficulties, he is eventually placed in the transcendental abode, or Krishnaloka."

And two verses later, Krishna emphatically declares: "If you become conscious of Me, you will pass over all obstacles of conditioned life by My grace."

Please note: It is not by our own strength that we can conquer the darkness that surrounds us but by the strength of Krishna, which is more powerful than the power of one million suns.

Coming to the Turning Point

Srila Krishnadasa Kaviraja Gosvami expresses the same point in this famous verse from the Chaitanya-charitamrita, (Madhya-lila 22.33): "One is immediately freed from the clutches of maya if he seriously and sincerely says, 'My dear Lord Krishna, although I have forgotten You for so many long years in the material world, today I am surrendering unto You. I am Your sincere and serious servant. Please engage me in Your service.'"

So it seems the only requirement for being accepted and protected by Krishna is that one comes to the turning point and sincerely surrenders to Krishna, renouncing all other shelters.

Someone who has found Krishna's shelter is not inconvenienced by adverse circumstances. The Sanskrit word ashraya, or shelter, comes from the root word sri, which means "to be brilliant and dazzling." For a devotee who surrenders to Krishna's direction the cloud of anxiety enveloping an unsurrendered soul lifts, and he begins to shine with Krishna conscious happiness. Krishna has personally fortified and empowered such a devotee with His own spiritual energy - more brilliant than the sun. Srila Prabhupada writes: "The foolish cannot understand this great freedom from anxiety."

Another feature in the life of a devotee who has given himself into Krishna's hands is that he is not so easily exhausted. When I visited Srila Prabhupada in 1974 in his room in Germany, he gave me several personal instructions, one of which was to become a water-carrier. I used to wonder exactly what he meant by that until one day I came upon an old well in Serbia and watched how it served many people. I remembered my spiritual master's instruction and then wrote this small poem:

Never Exhausted

An old well gave water to all -
the young, the old, the happy, the sad -
every day without hesitation or delay.

When I first came to him thirsty, I was amazed:
Did giving water again and again
not exhaust him?
So I decided to ask.
"No problem," he said, "I am only the well,
not the spring, which supplies me
as long as the connection is there."

Let's live like the well -
live in the higher connection.
You will be happy to pass on
what the source gives you,
never to be exhausted.

Why am I writing this? Simply to encourage you. There is good reason to be hopeful. Krishna is very, very kind to and supportive of His devotees. He waits patiently for them to turn to Him, and then He responds immediately. Often He Himself takes the first step toward them. "He is so kind, so very kind," as Srila Prabhupada used to say.

We have only to accept that Krishna's kindness follows His own mind and not always our expectations. This means He gives us exactly what we need at any
given time.

So now my question these days is, How can I live in relationship with Him? As I ponder this question I look out at the winter night. The stars blink in the distance. Is the Lord as far away as those stars or is He closer? How can I connect with Him?

During the last year I learned some things that help me make that connection. I'd like to share them with you:

1. Become aware that Krishna is the goal of your life.

2. Offer as many acts as you can in His service. Activate your relationship with Him and ask for guidance how to further activate it from those who have an active relationship with Him, like Srila Prabhupada and your other spiritual masters.

3. Train your mind to connect with Krishna through devotional thoughts. Convince your intelligence of the truth of Krishna consciousness.

4. Take full and unreserved shelter in the processes of bhakti - the hearing and chanting and reading the scriptures under the guidance of great devotees.

5. Most importantly, pray, pray, pray. Bring your spiritual heart into your prayer. Pray like the bird who sits in the nest waiting fervently for its mother to bring it food.
Pray like the thirsty calf who tugs at the rope binding it to a stake so it can run forward to its mother's udder. Pray like the morose wife who yearns for her husband when he is away from home.

You will soon find that Krishna is only a prayer away. He is not like the stars in the winter sky, which are distant, cold, and unapproachable. When you reach Him in devotion, Krishna will respond to you in ways beyond your boldest imagination. Yes, the Lord is only a prayer away!


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Srila Bhaktisiddhanta Sarasvati Thakura

Srila Bhaktisiddhanta Sarasvati Thakur (1874 – 1937), was a preacher of Gaudiya Vaishnavism throughout India in the late nineteenth and early twentieth century. He was born as Bimal Prasad Dutta in the seaside pilgrimage town of Jagannath Puri, Orissa, India. His father was the Vaishnava scholar Bhaktivinoda Thakur, the first to present the teachings of Chaitanyite Vaishnavism to the English speaking world.

In 1918, Siddhanta Sarasvati accepted the renounced order of spiritual life, assuming the title Srila Bhaktisiddhanta Sarasvati Goswami Maharaja. For the purpose of propagating Krishna-bhakti throughout India, he organized the Gaudiya Math, with sixty-four branches throughout the country. The headquarters of his mission, the Caitanya Gaudiya Math, was located in Sridhama Mayapur, the birthplace of Lord Caitanya.

Bhaktisiddhanta Sarasvati Thakur is also the spiritual master of world renowned A.C Bhaktivedanta Swami Prabhupada, who at the age of 69 came to America to fulfil the admonition of his guru, and within a short span of 12 years established 108 centres world wide, and made "Hare Krishna" a household term in the USA, translated texts into English and gave purports to various Sanskrit Vedic texts such as the Bhagavad-Gita and Srimad Bhagavatam - allowing thousands to benefit from learning these valuable ancient teachings.

At the age of only seven Bimala Prasad Datta, had memorized all seven hundred verses of the Bhagavad-gita and could explain each one.

One day the boy took an unoffered mango from the room of the family Deity and ate it. His father chastised him for it upon catching him and told him that it was not proper Vaishnava behavior to eat food that had not first been offered to the Lord. At that time Srila Bhaktisiddhanta Sarasvati, taking his father’s words very seriously, made a vow never to eat mango again. Through his whole life he kept this vow very faithfully. Whenever someone would offer him a mango he would say, “No, I cannot take, I am a great offender”.

At the age of ten, he was initiated by his father into the Hare Krishna mantra and a Narasimhadeva mantra. Later on he attended a special Sanskrit college where he became expert in Sanskrit grammar, Vedic shastra and different views of philosophy.

Due to his lifelong celibacy he had such a clear memory that even in his last days he could reproduce word for word any passage of any book he had read fifty years back.

At college he read all of the books in the library and made private studies into higher mathematics, international history and philosophy and Vedic astronomy. He was such a powerful debater that no one’s arguments could stand up against his vast intellect and scholarship. At the age of twenty-three he opened a school in Calcutta which he called Sarasvata Chatuspathi. Many prominent and scholarly Calcutta gentlemen were among his students. By the time he was twenty-five years old, Bimala Prasada had acquired an impressive reputation as a scholar of Sanskrit, mathematics, and astronomy.

In 1901 Srila Bhativinoda Thakura requested his son to become initiated in the Gayatri mantra and accept a spiritual master. The Thakura had one very beloved disciple, Srila Gaurakisora dasa Babaji Maharaja, a very renowned Vaishnava saint of Navadvipa. It was therefore he who the Thakura requested his son to take initiation from. Srila Bhaktisiddhanta Sarasvati Thakura then approached the babaji for getting initiated, but Gaurakisora dasa Babaji, who had no disciples, out of his infinite humbleness refused to accept such an knowledgeable pandita as Srila Bhaktisiddhanta Sarasvati, when he himself could not even write his own name. So, disappointed, Sarasvati Thakura went back to his father and related to him what had happened, but Thakura Bhaktivinoda sent him out again, and again Srila Bhaktisiddhanta came back with the same news. So this time the Thakura told his son, “Unless you take initiation from Gaurakishora dasa Babaji your life is useless and no longer may you enter this house”. Srila Bhaktisiddhanta Sarasvati then set off with great determination, and meeting Srila Gaurakishora dasa Babaji on a bridge along the road told him that he would jump off the bridge and kill himself if the babaji did not accept him as a disciple. He said to him, “My father has told me that human life is worthless without a spiritual master, so if you refuse to accept me as your disciple I must kill myself”. Upon hearing that and seeing the young man’s sincerity of purpose, the babaji accepted him as his only disciple.

From that year, Srila Bhaktisiddhanta traveled with Thakura Bhaktivinoda in his pilgrimages to all the principle holy places in India. During this time he compiled a Vaishnava encyclopedia named Vaisnava-manjusha. In 1900 he was staying in Puri where he began to publicly preach the holy precepts of Srimad-Bhagavatam. In 1904 Srila Sarasvati Thakura traveled in East Bengal. In 1905 he travailed to the far southern provinces of India, lecturing, preaching, writing, debating, fully absorbed in the fire of propagating the message of Sri
Caitanya Mahaprabhu. In the South he traveled to places such as Simachalam, Madras, Tirupati, Kanchipura and many other places of pilgrimage. His strong preaching gave him such a reputation that his very name would strike terror into the hearts of his philosophical opponents. The perverted and immoral so-called religious activities of different nonsense cults and sects were doomed forever in the presence of Srila Bhaktisiddhanta Sarasvati Thakura.

Srila Bhaktisiddhanta Sarasvati Prabhupada always stressed the importance of publishing and distributing Vaishnava literature as a means of educating the mass of ignorant humanity and in order to facilitate the printing of books and journals he established four printing presses.

In 1918 at the age of fourty-four, Srila Bhaktisiddhanta Sarasvati accepted the title Gosvami Maharaja by taking the renounced order of life, sannyasa. On that same day he established his first Vaishnava monastery, the Caitanya Math at Sridhama Mayapura which became his preaching headquarters.

One time a very important gentleman approached Srila Bhaktisiddhanta Sarasvati Prabhupada and said that your Gaudiya Math is so nice you should open up temples in all cities of the world, and Srila Bhaktisiddhanta replied, “My real business is to establish temples in everyone’s heart”.

From the years 1919-1929 he was constantly traveling all over India lecturing to crowds of thousands, debating, destroying various bogus religious sects and performing parikrama (walks to the holy places) with his disciples to different sacred sites, seeking to improve and preserve them. During these travels he installed foot-prints of Lord Caitanya in one hundred and eight places where the Lord had traveled during His sannyasa life. At those spots he also recorded the date when Sri Caitanya had been there.

In 1930 and 1931 a new kind of spiritual education was exhibited for the benefit of the public and especially the illiterate masses. Srila Bhaktisiddanta Sarasvati Prabhupada demonstrated the import and teachings of the Vedic literature by means of huge exhibitions in which pictorial representations by means of dioramas and dolls in life-like manner were employed. These wonderful exhibitions drew at least one hundred thousand visitors daily during a month time period.

In 1936 he was residing in Jagannatha Puri when, at the age of sixty-two, he left this mortal world and again re-entered the loving pastimes of Sri Sri Radha and Krishna in the sweetness of Braja Dham, the spiritual atmosphere.

[This article available at http://www.stephen-knapp.com]

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Vaisnavi Retreat

A special event
International Vaisnavi Retreat in Govardhana

Fostering a spirit of love and care between devotees is on the agenda for the up-coming International Vaisnavi Retreat. This special event is aimed at generating peer support between female devotees dedicated to Srila Prabhupada’s mission. It has sprung from an initiative of the now three-year old GBC Devotee Care Committee and is being organized by the Vrindavana Institute for Higher Education.

Making friendship with peers is one of the characteristics of an advancing devotee, as stated by Srila Rupa Goswami in his Upadesamrta. As we grow in Krsna consciousness, it is natural that our appreciation for others increase and seek avenues to express itself. Advancing often means struggling, trudging along the spiritual path, with increasing awareness of the difficulties met by the spiritual traveler we have become. As we stumble ahead, we need strong friendships, role models, guides, and confidantes. We need others’ strength and experience. Alone, we have no power to chant the holy name. Enthusiasm is at the hub of a devotee’s spiritual life. Such enthusiasm is contagious. It grows or decreases with the type of association we keep. Intimate relationships are a need. Many among the devotees who have joined the Hare Krsna communities have left their material homes to dedicate their lives to the cultivation of bhakti under the shelter of the spiritual master. Home generally means intimacy, support, shelter, a sense of security, and loving relationships. Knowing that material bonds and comforts are illusory, we ran away from our parents and the society that saw us grow to adulthood. But we cannot run away from the inner, natural inclination of our heart. We must learn the art of associating with devotees on a loving platform beneficial for spiritual progress.

This very special event, centered around the theme of celebrating Srila Prabhupada’s mercy, will take place in Govardhana, India, on March 6-9, 2011. Spiritually focused, the gathering will include instructions on the chanting of japa; lectures and workshops; questions/answers with Srila Prabhupada’s disciples; kirtanas; and wonderful presentations directed at awakening remembrance of our relationship with Krsna, the Lord of our heart. Narayani Devi Dasi, Laksmimoni Devi Dasi, Srimati Devi Dasi, and Vraja Lila Devi Dasi will be leading the participants in this devotional gathering. In the divine atmosphere of the holy dhama, at the foot of Govardhana Hill, the best of Govinda’s servants, let us come together to share the jewels of Krsna consciousness.

Helping each other getting closer to Krsna is the ultimate purpose of devotee care, and we hope that this retreat will serve to give a boost to the participants’ devotional life. Vaisnavis of all ages who are dedicated to contribute to sustaining Srila Prabhupada’s mission are invited to take part. To register, please contact visakha.priya.grs@pamho.net


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Spiritual Mathematics



                           From a strictly mathematical viewpoint:

                                      What Equals 100%?

                          What does it mean to give MORE than 100%?

                         Ever wonder about those people who say they

                                  are giving more than 100%?

                  We have all been in situations where someone wants you to

                                      GIVE OVER 100%...

                                  How about ACHIEVING 101%?

                                  What equals 100% in life?

                     Here's a little mathematical formula that might help

                                   answer these questions:


                     A B C D E F G H I J K L M N O P Q R S T U V W X Y Z

                                      Is represented as:

  1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 11 12 13 14 15 16 17 18 19 20 21 22 23 24 25 26.


                                      H-A-R-D-W-O- R- K

                                  8+1+18+4+23+15+18+11 = 98%


                                      K-N-O-W-L-E- D-G-E

                                11+14+15+23+12+5+4+7+ 5 = 96%


                                       A-T-T-I-T-U- D-E

                                 1+20+20+9+20+ 21+4+5 = 100%

                      THEN, look how far the love of God will take you:

                                      L-O-V-E-O-F- G-O-D

                                12+15+22+5+15+ 6+7+15+4 = 101%

           Therefore, one can conclude with mathematical certainty that:
  While Hard Work and Knowledge will get you close, and Attitude will
get you there, It's the Love of God that will put you over the top!

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Vrinda Kunda 8th Anniversary Festival

Next month marks the auspicious 8th Anniversary of Vrinda Kunda Temple opening! To celebrate we are organizing special parikramas to the Holy Places of Braja, culminating with our famous Kalash Yatra, an ecstatic Sankirtan procession with the ladies carrying water pots with coconuts on their heads. Programs will be going on from 15-27 Feb with the main parikrama days between 19 and 26.

Last year there was Purusottama Month, so all the festival dates are late this year and the Vrindavan Festival after Gaura Purnima will be late and very hot! Better to come to Vrindavan first, and then go on to Mayapur Festival and leave after Gaura Purnima when it starts to get hot! And our festival ends with plenty of time to reach for Navadvipa Mandal Parikrama which starts on 6th March!

We will be leaving almost every morning from Krishna Balaram Mandir by bus to go on parikrama to different pastime places of Braja. There will be lively narrations of the different pastimes that happened in each place. Then we will return in time for lunch prasadam in the temple. And on all bus parikramas, Sannyasis and Prabhupada Disciples and their families will go free of charge.

Then on Sunday 27th Feb., we will be having the super ecstatic Kalash Yatra and sankirtan procession around Nandagrama. Kalash means water pot. All the ladies will carry water pots of water from the sacred Pavana Sarovara with colorful cloth and coconuts on top. We'll have 108 pots and the Brijbasi ladies will train our foreign lady devotees how to carry them. Even some of our own ladies who go every year will train them! The Brijbasinis even dance with no hands with their pots on their heads! All the ladies who have participated told me it was the highlight of their Vrindavan experience.

After reaching at Vrinda Kunda, there will be Krishna Katha, butter churning festival, artika and then feast for one and all. Then everyone can help feed all the Nandagram Brijbasis. That day all transportation and prasad will be free for all who come.

So start planning now to come relish wonderful Vaisnava association in the Holy Dhama. Especially for those who are going to the Anniversary Festivals at Tirupati, Ujjain, and Aravade on Nityananda Trayodasi and are wondering what to do till Mayapur Festival starts, most of our parikramas will take place after Nityananda Trayodasi. We'll publish the schedule soon, so watch for it.

For those who want to make arrangements to go from Vrindavan to Mayapur, these days you can book your train reservations on line at <http://www.indianrail.gov.in/index.html>;

Otherwise you can contact our Information Center at <ISKCON.Vrindavan@pamho.net> for your travel needs as well as assistance for booking accommodation in outside guesthouses. The phone contact is Sanjay at +91 9997770061. They can also arrange a taxi to pick you up from the airport or train station. For booking in the Krishna Balaram Guesthouse, you can contact <ganapati.gkg@pamho.net> or +91 565 2540021. For MVT <MVT@pamho.net> or +91 565 3207578.

In service of Srimati Vrinda Devi,
Deena Bandhu dasa


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Primary factor is Sankirtana

Outdoor kirtana must be done, even at the cost of suspending all editorial work. That is your first and foremost business. Temple worship is not so important. If need be, the whole temple can be locked, but the outdoor kirtana cannot be stopped.
Letter to: Rayarama-Columbus, Ohio-17 May, 1969-05-17

We are not much concerned about the temple because temple worship is not primary factor in this age. Primary factor is Sankirtana. But sometimes we want a center where people may gather and see, so a temple is required secondarily.
Letter to: Mukunda-New Vrindaban-27 May, 196-05-27

In this age, chanting of Hare Krishna Mantra is the prime business of the devotee, and preaching of this Hare Krishna Mantra by outdoor Sankirtana and propagation of literature is our more important business. Side by side, Deity worship is recommended, but when there is a question of accepting one of them, we shall prefer to accept chanting of Hare Krishna Mantra first.
Letter to: Hamsaduta-Hamburg-5 September, 1969-09-05

Srila Prabhupada ki jai, Sri Krishna Caitanya Mahaprabhu ki jai, Sri Harinama Sankirtan ki jai.


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Seeing Krishna

Seeing Krishna through hearing. Nectarean Mellows

We cannot see Krishna through our eyes but we see Krishna through hearing the subject matter from the scriptures and from the vaisnavas.

Bhaktisiddhant Saraswati Thakur, when he would go to Jagannath temple in Puri, he would stand behind the Garuda Sthamba, same place Sri Caitanya Mahaprabhu would stand. The reason He did this? He said, “It is because Garuda is a param vaisnava. He is a great devotee. He is a lover of Lord Jagannath.

Jagannath would certainly be looking at him because of his great surrendering in devotion. Jagannath has very big lotus like eyes, bigger than any eyes in this entire world and He sees everything and everywhere. But the question is what is He pleased to see? Because Krishna sees not only our bodies but Krishna sees our desires, motivations, intensions, and Krishna is only pleased where there is love. If we do not have love in our hearts, Krishna sees but He is not pleased to see us. When we come before the deities, we may think, oh Krishna is dressed so nicely.

It is not that Radha Gopinath are like some short of bollywood cinema that we go to see what they are wearing today? That’s all right, better than going to bollywood cinemas. But if we really are in the mood of a Vaisnava or the devotee, we come before Krishna so that Krishna is happy to see us.


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From book of dead to Live Books


Now here's a story from the Marathon in Czech Republic:

Srila Prabhupada's marathon has just ended. As usual, it was full of mercy, both in terms of realizations and in the number of books distributed. When the marathon started, the first winter frosts came, yet we headed to the mountainous part of the Czech Republic. On the first day we were scheduled to go out on the street I was ill with a fever, but I felt I had to go out because I had been asked to teach a devotee doing traveling sankirtan for the first time that week. The day was hard -- people refused me -- but I prayed for mercy. All of a sudden a very interesting fellow appeared, and I approached him. At that moment I strongly felt that Krishna had taken charge of the situation, and my consciousness changed. The whole atmosphere seemed pervaded with a strong mystical quality. The boy said he had read "The Tibetan Book of the Dead" and began to challenge me, saying "How can the Bhagavad-gita be better than 'The Tibetan Book of the Dead?'" I replied by pointing
out the rarity and comprehensive depth of Bhagavad-gita. He finally came to the point of saying "I'm surely God." I reacted by taking a Krishna book out of the pushcart, putting the book in front of his face, saying, "He is God and he is guru (pointing to "Srila Prabhupada Lilamrita") who teaches us about Him!" Our strong discussion gradually ended. Finally, the guy carried off five books and some japa beads. I left him my contact numbers, asking him to write me after he'd read the books.

A few months later I received a text message: "With humility I must admit I am not God." A few text conversations ensued. Then I decided to visit him near the place where we'd met. After all, along with the books he'd purchased some japa-mala, and for some time he'd been writing me to show him how to chant on them. At present he chants about ten rounds a day, follows the regulative principles, and regularly visits devotees. He is very inspired; his inspiration is obviously not a superficial sentiment but springs from a good understanding of the philosophy.

Your servant,
Vaiyasiki das (BVS)


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Diary of a Traveling Monk
Volume 11, Chapter 12
November 22, 2010
By Indradyumna Swami

There Are Too Few Like You

Dear Purnacandra Goswami,

Please accept my most humble obeisances. All glories to Srila Prabhupada.

It was with great sorrow that I heard about your sudden departure from this world. Although we regularly hear about these things in sastra and are constantly preparing ourselves for such inevitable events, somehow when they actually happen we seem totally unprepared. And so it is that I can hardly believe you are no longer among us.

Your departure leaves a deep sadness in my heart. It is said that time heals all wounds, but this maxim does not hold true with the departure of Vaisnavas. In fact, the wound only becomes deeper as we remember their personalities and the contributions they made to this historic movement, which is establishing the teachings of Sri Caitanya Mahaprabhu all over the world.

No doubt your departure was auspicious because you have gone back to Godhead. Be that as it may, you have left us - your godbrothers, disciples, and friends - lamenting. Your return to the spiritual world is a gain for the devotees of that transcendental abode but a tragic loss for us. Not only for us, but for all the conditioned souls who might have met you, had you stayed a little longer.

A devotee of your caliber is always focused on the mission of his spiritual master: to shed light on the science of Godhead for the benefit of others. When such a preacher departs, that light goes out, and the world becomes a little darker.

You and I were friends. Some people say such things casually: "Oh, so and so is my friend," or "Yes, I know him. He's a friend of mine." But friendship in Krsna consciousness is not a casual thing. It is a special blessing of Krsna to be cherished as dearly as life itself. It is not based on shared material desires but is established on and matures through service to guru and Gauranga. It goes deep and is relishable because of the blissful experience of preaching  Krsna consciousness together.

The camaraderie that you and I shared in our preaching in England, Russia, and India was always enlivening for me. We seemed to have a natural attraction to each other, even though we were different in many ways. But it is said that opposites attract. I tend to be outgoing and social, whereas you, because of your humility, were often shy and reserved. Still, as different as we were, we shared many interests, such as kirtana, lecturing, and annual visits to Sri Vrindavana Dhama.

In fact, it was your strong attraction to Vraja bhakti and your determination to achieve it by spending as much time as possible in Sri Vrindavan Dhama doing bhajana that endeared you to me. You would spend many a Kartika in the dhama studying sastra and chanting the holy names with fixed attention.

Because you were well read, you had a deep understanding of the scriptures and a unique ability to communicate this to others. That was evident in the classes and seminars you gave, which were always popular with the devotees. Because of your limited preaching field, you were not well known within our ISKCON movement, so I was happy when the GBC acknowledged your abilities and had you convene and chair the Sastric Advisory Committee.

I'll never forget the time your sastric knowledge saved my lowly self from embarrassment. One Kartika I joined a large parikrama party going to Visrama Ghat on the border between Vrindavana and Mathura. It was headed by Radhanath Swami and attended by many other illustrious godbrothers: Deena Bandhu Prabhu, Bhakti Caitanya Maharaja, BB Govinda Maharaja, and others.

Hundreds of devotees from around the world had filled the many buses that took us on the parikrama. By Krsna's arrangement I was sitting next to you. At one point we received a message from Radhanath Swami saying that all the godbrothers would be asked to speak for a few minutes. I immediately became anxious because I knew little or nothing of the pastimes that took place at Visrama Ghat.

When I mentioned this to you, you smiled. "Write down what I tell you as notes," you told me, "and you can use them when you speak."

You went on to describe the pastimes at Visrama Ghat in great detail with many anecdotes and realizations as revealed by Visvanath Cakravarti and others. You suggested I read the notes until we arrived at the holy place so that when I spoke about the knowledge you'd shared with me it would seem natural. Just before we arrived you quizzed me on everything to be sure I knew it all by heart.

When we arrived at Visrama Ghat, some seven hundred devotees sat down at that auspicious place, with the godbrothers facing them in front. I was called on to speak first. As I took my place at the microphone I glanced over at you, and you winked, giving me assurance that everything would be all right. I began to speak, and because I had read my notes repeatedly the lilas and pastimes flowed easily from my mouth. It was a wonderful, transcendentally satisfying experience.

Afterwards many devotees complimented me on my talk, even Radhanath Swami. "I had no idea," he said, "that you were such a rasika devotee with such deep realizations and understanding of sastra." In all honesty, I had no choice but to tell him the truth, that I had learned these things from you just an hour earlier.

So I was saved from having to show my lack of knowledge, and I thank you once again. Though younger than me and with fewer years of devotional service in this lifetime, you were in fact more advanced than me in every way.

I find it regrettable that you did not receive the recognition you deserved during your lifetime. Sometimes such acknowledgement places a devotee in a better position to share his knowledge and realizations with others, who benefit from his saintly association.

There are too few like you, Maharaja, too few willing to sacrifice anything and everything for preaching the mission of Lord Caitanya Mahaprabhu. Especially after taking sannyasa, you were busy all day every day in various ways, sharing your good fortune with others.

I will miss you. Your godbrothers and godsisters will miss you. Your disciples will miss you. And the people of Bosnia, Croatia, and Russia will miss you though they know it not. In reality, a great catastrophe, a great calamity, has befallen society: a capable and faithful Vaisnava who was doing the highest welfare work has departed. Hundreds of billions of ignorant souls cannot compare with one humble Vaisnava like you.

The world does not know what it has lost. We know, however, so we are remembering you and keeping you close to our hearts. But I do not feel that we are alone. The service rendered by you and by other devotees like you will be recognized by the denizens of the higher planets. Why not? Surely your spiritual master, Srila Prabhupada, recognized you, and he is the sum total of all the demigods.

On the day of your samadhi ceremony, I, like many others, offered you my final respects and my most humble prostrated obseisances. I would consider it my great fortune should I serve alongside you in a future lifetime.

Your servant, friend, admirer, and godbrother,
Indradyumna Swami


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