ISKCON Derire Tree's Posts (16681)

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GBC Proposals, AGM 2023


Dear Devotees,

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

The Annual General Meeting of the ISKCON GBC Society will begin in February 2023. Following the ISKCON GBC Society’s Rules of Order, the GBC Secretariat requests proposals, duly sponsored by two GBC members, to be submitted by *November* 15, 2022. Note that no proposals will be entertained after this date.

Please follow the format for GBC Proposals. The PDF is found here:

Once ready, kindly email your proposals to

You can also submit any queries to this address.

Hare Krishna.

Your servant,

Ananda Tirtha Das

(GBC Corresponding Secretary)


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Sadhu Sanga Retreat 2022

By Indradyumna Swami

This dynamic video of the Sadhu Sanga Retreat held last May in the USA is actually meant to be a promotion for next year’s retreat in Dallas, Texas from May 26-29. The 2023 retreat will be held in a large convention hall. Stay tuned for registration which will begin in November, just after Kartika!


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The air was still and most comfortable as twelve of us were inside our Toronto ashram, when two chubby raccoons were milling around looking for food. By the time we got outside, loading our vehicle with weekend backpacks, destined for West Virginia, we saw a coyote racing down our street. He was on a similar program as the chubby ones – where is the food?

Generally, you find hungry gatherers and hunters busy in the dark but our purpose in being up so early, 4:45 am, was for yoga and a journey, a seven-hour drive to the Appalachians and then New Vrindavan; a spiritual oasis for a MANtra retreat.

Things were cool at the border and we were relieved at the lack of traffic jamming. That being so because we left early.

With our destination reached it became catch-up time. The theme “Together Again” was most appropriate due to the human separation of the last two “virus years.” The evening program was an actual sangha or gathering of the best comrades on the spiritual path. We chanted and walked up to the hill of the Palace of Gold, followed by a bonfire outside where we reflected on memories of our guru, Prabhupada.

Topics for discussion on this men’s retreat are just exhilarating and this evening’s presentation was by Venkata Bhatta on an interesting subject, “Strong and Silent: Healing toxic Masculinity in Devotional Communities.” That was powerful and addressed the disrespect often shown by males to females within the context of a devotional environment.


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Developing the quality of empathy has many benefits for aspiring devotees of the Lord.

When I was doing my clinical psychotherapy internship in graduate school, a supervisor stressed connecting with our clients through realized empathy. Most of his interns came from privileged backgrounds, and he felt we needed more than just a theoretical understanding of our clients’ pain.

My first session in “experiential empathy” was with Doris, who suffered from schizophrenia. A slight woman in her early 30s, she had an attractive face, but it was worn from exposure, as she would often choose to be homeless rather than stay in shelters. She would often sit in the waiting room carrying on conversations with imaginary persons who seemed real to her.

Doris wasn’t a strong candidate for therapy, yet her case manager and I would provide her support. Once in a while she would have some respite from her illness and would talk about her numerous losses, including relationships, and her dream of being a teacher.

After my initial sessions with Doris, my supervisor had me spend an afternoon in a session designed to develop empathy for schizophrenics. Through earphones, a myriad of voices began to assault me-calling me names and demeaning my character. While listening to these voices, I was given a list of simple tasks to perform, such as going to the corner store to buy batteries. After two hours of listening to the taped voices and running my prescribed errands, I was spent. Physically and mentally exhausted, I joined with others to share our experiences. The training was effective in achieving its goal. I learned more about people plagued by this most debilitating illness and felt increased compassion for them.

My next client was a middle-aged man with multiple sclerosis. Wheelchair bound, he showed symptoms of depression, and his doctor referred him for mental health counseling.

By now I was familiar with my supervisor’s relentless conviction for experiential empathy, so I wasn’t surprised when I saw a wheelchair waiting for me in his office. For the next hour, he had me running small errands throughout the hospital while awkwardly learning to maneuver the wheelchair.

Reflecting on that internship, I appreciate how my supervisor approached this most important element of therapy-joining through empathy. Empathy helps us care about people by identifying with their suffering. It also helps us avoid falling into the trap of thinking we’re superior to others. And it helps us develop humility-the gateway to making spiritual progress and developing a loving relationship with God.
Krishna’s Help

Krishna helps His fledgling devotees by purifying any mentality that prevents them from coming closer to Him. When we form opinions of people and their situations, we should do so with the desire to be of assistance and to please our guru and Krishna. That kind of thinking will help us advance in spiritual consciousness. But if we evaluate others with a mentality of exploiting them or putting them down-to elevate our own sense of importance-that kind of judgment will hinder our spiritual progress.

One of the most unwanted qualities in the heart of a practitioner of bhakti-yoga is the tendency to judge others without concern for their spiritual welfare. This leads to faultfinding and puts us at risk of vaishnava aparadha, or offending Krishna’s devotees. If we are fortunate, Krishna will correct this tendency in our heart. Sometimes Krishna, the originator of experiential empathy training, will place us in a situation similar to that of the person we are judging. Although this can be disconcerting, it is the Lord’s kindness to help uproot the qualities in our heart that are obstacles to loving the Lord and His devotees.

When I was a young devotee, I was strict about attending all the temple programs. But I found myself critical of devotees who didn’t always attend. One devotee suffered from an illness and did her best to come when she could. But I felt she could do better. Not long after those thoughts contaminated my consciousness, however, I became ill and often missed mangala-arati, the early-morning worship.

Krishna accomplishes many things by one action, and one result of my illness was a diminishing of my critical mentality. Krishna has often placed me in situations similar to those of people for whom I lacked empathy, helping me develop more understanding of others’ difficulties.

The saying atmavan manyate jagat means that we tend to see others as we are. Often the very thing we find reprehensible in another is a negative quality lurking within ourselves. So it is prudent to reflect on this when we form opinions of others and to look within our heart to expose our own faults.
Prabhupada’s Example

By his example, Prabhupada taught us to be lenient with others and strict with ourselves. He was uncompromising in his service to Krishna and his daily spiritual practices. Yet he showed understanding and compassion toward his neophyte disciples, who often struggled to follow the basic practices of bhakti-yoga. As his disciples matured, he would sometimes sternly correct them, but only out of duty, to help them progress in their spiritual lives.

In the early days of the Hare Krishna movement, Prabhupada asked one of his first disciples, Syamasundara Dasa, an expert craftsman, to carve a deity of Lord Jagannatha from wood. At one point Prabhupada came to see how the work was progressing. When he entered the room, he saw a pack of cigarettes sitting on Lord Jagannatha’s head.

“It’s all right,” Prabhupada told his embarrassed, contrite disciple.

Prabhupada didn’t need to become addicted to cigarettes to understand his disciple’s plight. He instructed Syamasundara to reduce by one the number of cigarettes he smoked each day until the habit was gone. Prabhupada was a pure devotee, his consciousness crystal clear. Because he had no contamination in his heart, he was free of the propensity to find fault or condemn.

In the Bhagavad-gita (6.32) Lord Krishna tells Arjuna that spiritually advanced persons can understand both the happiness and the distress of others. Because of their own experience in the material world, they understand that people suffer because they forget the Lord and are happy when united with Him.
Saving the Coat

Like all spiritual qualities, empathy or compassion has a counterpart in the material realm. My supervisor was helping me develop empathy, but because he lacked knowledge of the eternal soul within the body, his conception of feeling another’s pain was based on only the body’s suffering. Prabhupada tells the story of a man who jumps into a lake to save a drowning man and returns with only the man’s coat. Born of the material mind, this kind of empathy will have only temporary value unless employed in our spiritual lives.

Srila Prabhupada deeply felt the pain and suffering of the souls in this world. Once, in Mayapur, he saw a scene from his balcony that brought tears to his eyes. Children were fighting off dogs to get food left on discarded plates. Prabhupada then said that no one within ten miles of the ISKCON Mayapur temple should go hungry; they should be fed with spiritually uplifting prasadam. Prabhupada’s compassion meant elevating people’s consciousness so that they could eventually be freed from all suffering.

Empathy is a natural quality of the soul. Following in Srila Prabhupada’s footsteps, we should cultivate concern for the suffering of others while understanding the ultimate goal of life. That doesn’t mean we have to use the means devised by my supervisor-enacting another’s suffering condition. But we can do practical things to develop empathy.

First is to have a student’s mind-an inquisitive mind that seeks to understand the lessons ever present in our environment. The Eleventh Canto of the Bhagavatam gives the example of a brahmana who describes twenty-four entities whom he considered his gurus. For example, he says that he learned valuable lessons from a pigeon, a honeybee, and a prostitute. Being open to what we can learn from others will help us appreciate the struggles of others and feel a connection we might have missed.

Another technique that can help us understand another’s world is reflective listening. Also known as empathic listening, it requires the listener to summarize both the speaker’s words and the feelings behind them.

Another powerful mindset is to practice seeing people for their potential rather than for who they were in the past or who they are in the present. Everyone is a pure soul with an eternal relationship with Krishna. Remembering this can help us see beyond people’s material conditioning, allowing us to care about them and want to help them.

Finally, we want to be in the mood of service to others. When we look for ways to serve rather than exploit, our hearts open and we naturally feel the connection that eternally exists between all living entities.

These are just a few suggestions for how we can move in the world in such a way that we expand the mentality favorable for developing empathy in our role as a spiritual practitioner.

Because of his spiritual perfection, Prabhupada could always clearly diagnose our suffering and worked tirelessly and patiently to give us the remedy. Despite having once said that our hearts were as hard to clean as coal, he didn’t give up on us. Now that Srila Prabhupada is no longer physically present on the planet, we have to extend his compassionate, empathetic nature to all the living entities who have the opportunity to take shelter in Lord Chaitanya’s movement.

When the guru leaves the world, the disciples have to rise to the occasion and take up the legacy of their beloved teacher. The guru will empower sincere disciples to carry on the mission. Sincere disciples of a Vaishnava guru are themselves Vaishnavas, deserving of the prayer offered in ISKCON temples each morning: “I offer my respectful obeisances unto all the Vaishnava devotees of the Lord. They can fulfill the desires of everyone, just like desire trees, and they are full of compassion for the fallen souls.”



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Disagreement over issues is not as disruptive as disagreement over the importance of the disagreements 
When we see disruptive disagreements among friends who share our faith, we feel distressed. Why? Because we practice our faith to experience peace, not strife. Indeed, the specter of religious conflicts drives fence-sitters towards agnosticism, atheism or even anti-theism.
Why do such disruptions occur? Not because of the disagreements themselves; we can live with disagreements, and we often do. Disagreements over various issues are inevitable because we form our stands based on not just our faith, but on our faith’s interpenetration with our life-experiences, cultures and natures. Amidst such differences, we often agree to disagree.
Why, then, do some disagreements become disruptive? Because fanatics often exaggerate the importance of the disagreements. Fanatics equate minor details of their faith with its central tenets and deem heretical anyone differing from them on those details. They may even quote scripture, but their knowledge is in the mode of ignorance – it doesn’t see the whole picture but makes one small thing into everything (Bhagavad-gita 18.22). Far from living with disagreements, fanatics live to demonize those who dare differ from them. When their attacks become personal, emotions go wild, conflicts escalate and polemical wars rip the faith apart.
How can we prevent differences from becoming disruptive? By understanding our faith holistically so as to discern the difference between principles and details. Principles are non-negotiable, but details are adjustable. We all agree on the big issues such as the existence of God, the importance of nurturing our spiritual side, and the necessity of walking our faith, not just talking it. Why should we let these huge agreements be overshadowed by disagreements about details? After all, knowledge in goodness sees beyond surface diversity to essential unity (18.20).
By learning from mature spiritualists to discern principles and details, we can keep our perspective amidst differences.

Verse 18.22 – “And that knowledge by which one is attached to one kind of work as the all in all, without knowledge of the truth, and which is very meager, is said to be in the mode of darkness.”

Think it over:
Why do people who share the same faith differ on particular issues?
How does fanaticism rip the faith apart?
How can we prevent disagreements from becoming disruptive?


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Fulfilling a quota by Kadamba Kanana Swami


Sometimes we see that on the ocean there is a big disaster. There is an oil tank that has had a big spill, and then the whole water surface becomes covered by oil. What happens then is that all the animals that are on the surface of the water, like birds, are getting a very bad reaction. But the animals that are deep in the water remain largely unaffected.  It is on the surface that the reaction from the oil spill is happening. Similarly, in the process of bhakti, the kanistha adhikari (the neophyte devotee) stays only on the surface of bhakti and does not go very deep. It is mostly external whereby he is not deeply involved with the process. He chants Hare Krsna but more mechanically for the sake of just fulfilling a quota. And he is reading the books but falling asleep and if at all remembering more in the sense of learning but not in the sense of life changing experience. But for the madhyam-adhikari, reading the books is a life changing experience. At each moment there, his faith is growing. Each moment, he reflects how wonderful this is!


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Prayers request for Sally Agarwal


From Nityananda prabhu, Dallas TP:
Hare Krishna!!
Mrs Nayantara Jindal, the sister of the late husband of Sally Agarwal, who Srila Prabhupada stayed with when he first arrived into the US in 1965 called and spoke with me.
She asked that we pray for Sally Agarwal as she is leaving her body.
I said I will also convey the message to you all so we will all pray.
I also offered any service(s) they may possibly want of us.
Thank you so very much!!

Your servants’ humble servant,
Nityananda dasa


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Hare Krishna
Dandavat pranam
All glories to Srila Prabhupada

We are happy to inform you about this moment that On the occasion of the Nepal’s Constitution day, The Government of Nepal conferred upon His Grace Patri Prabhu, Co-Regional Secretary of ISKCON Nepal and Honorable Chairman of ISKCON Nepal affiliates (Food for Life Nepal, Bhaktivedanta Hospital, Bhaktivedanta Gurukula & Pathsala, and IRO) the prestigious “Suprabal Janasewa Shree” award.

ISKCON Nepal family would like to express its warm gratitude to the Government of Nepal for recognizing the efforts and contribution made by ISKCON to the people of Nepal.

Nilachala Caitanya Das

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By Mahamaya Devi Dasi

The 8th annual Orlando Rathayatra was held on Wednesday, September 7, 2022 at very unique location of the campus of the University of Central Florida (UCF) in Orlando, Florida.

The Rathayatra took over the beautiful UCF campus and despite it being a weekday, a good number of devotees were present as well as many UCF students. Devotees and well-wishers pulled Lord Jagannath’s cart through the streets, led by a campus police car. Passersby were drawn to the procession by the sounds of the lively kirtan and were invited to join in.

The cart was brought from 115 miles away by Dharmaraja Deva dasa and his wife Radha-Kunda Rani devi dasi of Alachua, FL. Beautiful Deities of Lord Jagannatha, Lord Balarama and Devi Subhadra rode majestically on Their chariot to close out the Florida Ratha Yatra season of 2022. Previously, Their Lordships graced the Gasparilla parade in Tampa, Fl, St. Augustine, Clearwater Beach, Tallahassee Spring Parade, Daytona Beach and Jacksonville Beach Rathayatras.

The destination of this Rathayatra was the Student Union building in the middle of the campus. Inside the large Pegusus Ballroom the festival portion of the parade began once the Deities were carried from Their chariot to the large stage. Loud, amplified, and lively chanting of the Hare Krsna mantra attracted students to the ballroom. Simultaneously, while students were served delicious wholesome hot vegetarian lunch prasadam, the stage entertainment began.

After an initial welcome by Bhadra dasa, our Festival of the Chariots coordinator, as well as the Orlando ISKCON Temple President, Dvaipayana dasa, starting the program was Radha Sharma, a student at UCF, whose family is from Alachua, Fl. Radha Sharma treated us to an authentic and beautifully executed bharat-natyam dance.

Next, the Orlando devotee theater group presented a beautiful drama. This was no ordinary drama: it was a mime! Their tee shirts told us who the main characters were: Me, Mind and Kali. The soundtrack along with the acting gave us the picture of the daily routine of “Me” and “the Mind”. They were quite the duo until Kali (as in Kali-yuga, our current age of quarrel and hypocrisy) arrived on the scene with his allurements. First, a picture of beautiful women. Of course, “Me” and “the Mind” fell hard for this trick, but when Kali added the allurement of a bottle of beer things got way more outrageous! Relief came with a knocking on the door: a devotee of the Lord arrived with a copy of Srila Prabhupada’s Bhagavad-gita! “Me” wanted the book, but his Mind didn’t! Meanwhile, “Kali” was pushing “the Mind” to close the book and reject it. Clips of Srila Prabhupada’s pure words helped convince “Me” to accept the book. Later, the devotee came back with a bead bag for “Me” and taught him to chant. Again, “the Mind” was urged by “Kali” to not accept this, but instead distract, distract and distract. In the end, Me finally was able to subdue his Mind, make it his friend and cast away the devilish Kali! Lord Krsna Himself appeared and everyone chanted Hare Krsna! Haribol! The cultural program was closed out by another beautiful performance of bharat-natyam dance by Orlando devotees and an energetic kirtan that had everyone chanting and dancing.

More than 700 plates of prasadam were served. The Festival of the Chariots crew ended the season with a wonderful collaboration with the Orlando devotee community, held at a beautiful venue of a large university campus!


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10825330052?profile=RESIZE_584x𝗛𝗮𝗿𝗲 𝗸𝗿𝗶𝘀𝗵𝗻𝗮,
🙏𝗣𝗹𝗲𝗮𝘀𝗲 𝗮𝗰𝗰𝗲𝗽𝘁 𝗼𝘂𝗿 𝗿𝗲𝘀𝗽𝗲𝗰𝘁𝗳𝘂𝗹 𝗼𝗯𝗶𝘀𝗮𝗻𝗰𝗲𝘀.

🙏All Glories to Srila Prabhupada!
🙏All Glories to Sri Mayapur Dham!

𝐖𝐞 𝐜𝐨𝐧𝐯𝐞𝐲 𝐨𝐮𝐫 𝐰𝐚𝐫𝐦 𝐭𝐡𝐚𝐧𝐤 🙏🙏 𝐲𝐨𝐮 𝐟𝐨𝐫 𝐩𝐚𝐫𝐭𝐢𝐜𝐢𝐩𝐚𝐭𝐢𝐧𝐠 𝐢𝐧 𝐭𝐡𝐢𝐬 𝐲𝐞𝐚𝐫 𝐏𝐢𝐭𝐫𝐮 𝐏𝐚𝐤𝐬𝐡𝐚 𝐒𝐞𝐯𝐚 𝐟𝐨𝐫 𝐭𝐡𝐞 𝐰𝐞𝐥𝐥 𝐛𝐞𝐢𝐧𝐠 𝐨𝐟 𝐲𝐨𝐮𝐫 𝐚𝐧𝐜𝐞𝐬𝐭𝐨𝐫𝐬, 𝐝𝐞𝐜𝐞𝐚𝐬𝐞𝐝 𝐥𝐨𝐯𝐞𝐝 𝐨𝐧𝐞𝐬 𝐚𝐧𝐝 𝐟𝐨𝐫 𝐭𝐡𝐞 𝐟𝐚𝐦𝐢𝐥𝐲. 𝐅𝐨𝐫 𝐚𝐥𝐥 𝐭𝐡𝐨𝐬𝐞 𝐭𝐡𝐚𝐭 𝐫𝐞𝐠𝐢𝐬𝐭𝐞𝐫𝐞𝐝 𝐭𝐡𝐫𝐨𝐮𝐠𝐡 𝐭𝐡𝐞 𝐟𝐨𝐫𝐦 𝐚𝐧𝐝 𝐚𝐥𝐥 𝐭𝐡𝐨𝐬𝐞 𝐭𝐡𝐚𝐭 𝐝𝐨𝐧𝐚𝐭𝐞𝐝 𝐠𝐞𝐧𝐞𝐫𝐨𝐮𝐬𝐥𝐲, 𝐝𝐚𝐢𝐥𝐲 𝐆𝐨𝐬𝐞𝐯𝐚 🐄, 𝐓𝐮𝐥𝐚𝐬𝐢 𝐀𝐫𝐜𝐡𝐚𝐧𝐚 𝐏𝐮𝐣𝐚 to Lord Narasimhadeva, 𝐝𝐞𝐞𝐩𝐝𝐡𝐚𝐧 🪔 𝐭𝐨 all deities are being offered 𝐰𝐢𝐭𝐡 𝐩𝐫𝐚𝐲𝐞𝐫𝐬 𝐟𝐨𝐫 𝐚 𝐛𝐞𝐭𝐭𝐞𝐫 𝐝𝐞𝐬𝐭𝐢𝐧𝐚𝐭𝐢𝐨𝐧 𝐨𝐟 𝐭𝐡𝐞 forefathers and spiritual welfare of the family. 𝐀𝐥𝐬𝐨, 𝐀𝐧𝐧𝐚𝐝𝐚𝐚𝐧 𝐬𝐞𝐯𝐚 and Gita dan, along with distribution of Kichidi prasada is being organised. During the Puja, all the names of the ancestors that you had submitted are being read and offered at the lotus feet of Lord Narasimhadeva in Mayapur.

𝐒𝐞𝐩𝐭. 𝟐𝟓𝐭𝐡 𝐢𝐬 𝐌𝐚𝐡𝐚𝐥𝐚𝐲𝐚 Amavasya 🌑, 𝐭𝐡𝐞𝐫𝐞 𝐰𝐢𝐥𝐥 𝐛𝐞 𝐚 𝐬𝐩𝐞𝐜𝐢𝐚𝐥 𝐩𝐮𝐣𝐚 𝐭𝐡𝐚𝐭 𝐰𝐢𝐥𝐥 𝐛𝐞 𝐨𝐟𝐟𝐞𝐫𝐞𝐝 𝐨𝐧 𝐭𝐡𝐢𝐬 𝐝𝐚𝐲, 𝐚𝐬 𝐢𝐭 𝐢𝐬 𝐭𝐡𝐞 𝐥𝐚𝐬𝐭 𝐝𝐚𝐲 𝐨𝐟 𝐭𝐡𝐞 𝐏𝐢𝐫𝐭𝐮 𝐏𝐚𝐤𝐬𝐡𝐚 𝐦𝐨𝐧𝐭𝐡. 𝐖𝐞 𝐰𝐢𝐥𝐥 𝐨𝐫𝐠𝐚𝐧𝐢𝐬𝐞 𝐚 𝐬𝐩𝐞𝐜𝐢𝐚𝐥 𝐍𝐚𝐫𝐚𝐬𝐢𝐦𝐡𝐚𝐝𝐞𝐯 𝐏𝐮𝐣𝐚, Go Seva & Ganga Puja on 𝐛𝐞𝐡𝐚𝐥𝐟 𝐨𝐟 𝐚𝐥𝐥 𝐨𝐮𝐫 𝐝𝐨𝐧𝐨𝐫𝐬 with 𝐫𝐞𝐜𝐢𝐭𝐚𝐭𝐢𝐨𝐧 𝐨𝐟 𝐭𝐡𝐞 𝐧𝐚𝐦𝐞𝐬 𝐨𝐟 𝐚𝐥𝐥 𝐭𝐡𝐨𝐬𝐞 𝐰𝐡𝐨 𝐡𝐚𝐬 𝐩𝐚𝐫𝐭𝐢𝐜𝐢𝐩𝐚𝐭𝐞𝐝 to invoke blessings 🌹.

✨🌹Wishing you an auspicious filled Mahalaya Amavasya!🌹✨

🙏Your Servants🙏

Mayapur Online Puja Services 


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Relishable Topics by Bhaktimarga Swami


Other topics on the agenda at MANtra 2022 were “The Art of Meaningful Association,” “Chasing the Wild Monkeys: Lust, Addiction and the Power of Healing Association,” “Flourishing as a Father” and “Compassion as a Man.” Also on the list was our drama “Demon,” as part of the entertainment section including beautiful chanting by Gaura Vani in the evening.

Singing also resounded outside with millions of crickets at the relatively quiet hours of our morning when a group of us went zoom zoom around the lake, a small man-made body of water. This is the home of swans, ducks and, at times soaring above, turkey vultures, when food below appears to be available.

One feathered friend, a resident in New Vrindavan, is a peacock. Accustomed to the outdoors is a family of these handsome creatures. During a presentation one of these fellows, with spread plumes, came inside while the door was open. He was an uninvited but welcome guest. He didn’t stay long. He just wouldn’t understand the topic at the time – pornography and drug/alcohol addiction.

You sometimes wonder why humans have all the complexities and non-humans, such as the creatures mentioned, have it so simple. The role of a human could be a curse or it could be a blessing. When humans take to the principle of dharma it sets them in a truly organic position. This word dharma should be researched and explored. In the context of men’s roles, it means to be great providers and protectors. To be effective in this, men must be strong in the areas of responsibility.


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Love is our innermost longing. Gita wisdom declares that our longing for love is best fulfilled when we learn to love Krishna. Let’s understand this central Gita teaching in five parts:

  1. Loving Krishna enables our love to break free from all limitations,
  2. Krishna is eminently lovable,
  3. Krishna loves all of us impartially,
  4. Krishna’s love for us is unconditional and
  5. Krishna engages his omnipotence to help us when we choose to love him.

1. Loving Krishna enables our love to break free from all limitation

Our love constantly longs to rush forth beyond all limitations. But as long as we love any material object or person, the flow of our love remains constrained by two often-subconscious fears:

  1. We limit the love that we offer to others due to the fear that it may be at worst rejected insensitively or at best reciprocated inadequately.
  2. We also fear that focusing our love on one person may limit our capacity to love others.

However, when we consciously and consistently offer our love to Krishna, we gradually discover that it breaks free from both these limitations. Here’s why:

  1. Krishna notices attentively every drop of love that we offer him and reciprocates perfectly by flooding our heart with fulfilling waves of love. When we experience his magnificent reciprocation, we feel inspired to offer him all the love of our heart and more still.
  2. Krishna being the source of everyone and everything encompasses all of existence; all living beings are his beloved children. So the love that we offer him doesn’t stay stuck with him, but returns through him to embrace as many living beings as our heart desires. That’s why, when we focus our love on Krishna, we become increasingly capable of loving more and more people. The Bhagavad-gita points to this majestic expansion of our capacity to love when it states (12.13) that devotees who love Krishna become the benefactors of all living beings.

Thus, by loving Krishna, we let our love break free from its limitations and flow freely, bringing the supreme happiness in our own lives and the lives of many others.

2. Krishna is eminently lovable

Krishna is so given to love that he renounces everything, even his godhood, for the sake of love. Of course, he always remains God, but he renounces his godhood in the sense that he conceals his godhood and acts as if he were not God just for the sake of love. His love for love makes him eminently lovable. Let’s see how.

Because Krishna performs childhood pranks like stealing butter, many people who know about Krishna through their culture or tradition consider him amusing. However, the Bhagavad-gita (04.09) declares that those who actually know Krishna attain a result far greater than mere amusement – they attain liberation.

How can knowing Krishna bestow liberation?

Because when we know him, we fall in love with him, thereby opening the door to liberation. When we actually understand Krishna, we cannot but be amazed at how he chooses to take on the role of a sweet and naughty child just to reciprocate love with those who love him.

Isn’t it amazing that God, who is the eternal and ultimate father of all, becomes a tender child for the sake of love? Isn’t it even more amazing that God renounces that which everyone in this world longs to have – the majesty of godhood – just to relish the intimacy of love? And isn’t it most amazing that God, though he has the love of billions and billions of his devotees, considers our love for him so invaluable and irreplaceable and indispensable that he personally descends to this world to invite us with his love-call?

Indeed, how can we not love the Lord who is so given to love and therefore is so supremely lovable? And when we choose to love him, how can he stop himself from fulfilling his heart’s longing to take us back to him and reinstate us in his world of love?

Thus, proper philosophical vision helps us cross the bridge from amusing to amazing in our understanding of Krishna. And when we thereby fall in love with him, he helps us cross the far greater bridge from the material world to the spiritual world.

3. Krishna loves all of us impartially

The Bhagavad-gita (9.29) reveals two paradoxical features of Krishna’s nature:

  1. He is equal to all and does not consider anyone to be an object of aversion or affection.
  2. For those who offer themselves to him and worship him with devotion, he offers himself to them in return.

These two features suggest that Krishna is both partial and impartial. How can that be?

The key to understanding Krishna’s mysterious nature is to remember that he is not an impersonal principle but a sentient person. Being a person, Krishna is neither neutral, nor partial; he is reciprocal. When we try to avoid him, he reciprocates by not interfering in our lives and by letting us stay under the supervision of the impartial law of karma. When we try to love him, he reciprocates by showering his love on us and by intervening to take special care of us.

If Krishna exhibited stone-like neutrality towards all, there would be hardly any possibility of developing a loving relationship with him. After all, how many people, if any, can love a stone?

If Krishna were not reciprocal, love for him would remain mostly an abstract intellectual conception. It is Krishna’s reciprocity that makes his personality emotionally tangible and eminently lovable. It is Krishna’s reciprocity that makes love for him real.

As Krishna is reciprocal, he is indeed partial to those who try to reciprocate love with him – his devotees. He offers them special protection and grace. But as he is universally reciprocal, he allows everyone to love him and thereby benefit from his partiality. In fact, he publically declares his partiality so that everyone will become attracted and come to benefit from it.

Thus, Krishna is impartially partial: he impartially leaves the doors to partiality open for everyone.

4. Krishna’s love for us is unconditional

At this point, we may wonder, “If Krishna loves all of us impartially, then why can’t we feel his love now? If we can feel it only after becoming pure, then doesn’t that make his love conditional, dependent on the condition of purity?”

Gita wisdom answers that Krishna’s love is unconditional; our capacity to experience his love is conditional. And the conditionality of this capacity is also an evidence of his love for us. Let’s see how.

First we need to understand the difference between the objective fact of Krishna’s love and our subjective experience of his love.

Objectively, Krishna loves all of us irrespective of whether we act piously or sinfully. No matter what misdeeds we do, he still keeps residing in our heart and helping us as much as we allow him. He never quits our heart; he never abandons us; he never gives up on us. Just as the sun gives light to everyone irrespective of their moral or immoral behavior, so does Krishna. Thus, his love is definitely unconditional,

But just as our eyes need to be open to see sunlight, our heart needs to be pure to feel Krishna’s love. So what is conditional is not Krishna’s love, but our capacity to feel his love.

At the same time, while open eyes may be a prerequisite for seeing the sunshine, that is also the natural state of the eyes. Similarly, while a pure heart is the prerequisite for feeling Krishna’s love, that does not make it conditional, for purity is the heart’s natural state.

To understand this point better, let’s get a sense of two related but distinct meanings of the word “condition.” Firstly, it can refer to a demand that needs to be met for something to be valid, as in “Your job appointment is conditional to your passing the graduation exam.” Secondly, it can refer to the state of a thing, as in “People can’t think straight when they are in a condition of great joy or great grief.”

Is Krishna’s love conditional in the demand sense of the word? No because he doesn’t place any demands that we have to first meet before he starts loving us. He loves us, always.

Is Krishna’s love conditional in the state sense of the word? No and yes. No because Krishna loves us irrespective of the state of our heart. Yes because we can feel his love only when our heart is in a particular state, the state of purity.

Still, we might argue, “Krishna, unlike the sun, is omnipotent. So he can make me feel his love even when my heart is not in the right state. Why doesn’t he do that?”

Because he loves us. That Krishna doesn’t force us to feel his love in our present state is a sign of his love. Out of his love for us, he has given us free will. By our past misuse of free will, we have chosen to replace him as the object of our love with various substitutes. When we have thus shown our apathy or even antipathy towards him, for him to force us to feel his love would be to disrespect our free will. And respect is a basic pre-requisite for love.  Due to his respect for us as individuals with independent will, he never forces us to feel his love. Thus, Krishna’s respecting our free will is also a sign of his love for us.

5. Krishna engages his omnipotence to help us when we choose to love him

At the same time, Krishna does use his omnipotence to help us if we express the desire to love him. Let’s understand how Krishna helps us in two ways:

  1. He makes himself constantly available to us
  2. He accommodates us when we falter in our attempts to love him


  1. i.                    Krishna makes himself constantly available to us

In the Bhagavad-gita (15.15), Krishna states that he personally resides in the hearts of all of us for guiding us to our ultimate good. He uses his omnipotence to manifest himself in innumerable expansions as the Supersoul, who resides in the heart of every living being. The Supersoul acts like Krishna’s personalized incarnation for each and every one of us. There, he waits for us to voluntarily express our love for him or at least our desire to love him. We can express this desire by rendering devotional service according to scriptural guidelines. When he sees our sincere desire, he reciprocates by using his omnipotence to remove the roadblocks on our path to purity.

From his strategic vantage point in our heart, Krishna observes our misadventures in material existence and strives to bring them to an adventurous, auspicious ending. Let’s see how:

Krishna is ever-waiting: In a friendship, if one friend neglects the other for a long time, it’s natural and reasonable for the neglected friend to give up the neglecting friend. But Krishna’s love for us far exceeds the bounds of the natural and the reasonable; although we have neglected him for so many lifetimes, he neglects our neglect and waits patiently for us to renew our friendship with him.

Krishna is ever-willing: If a person not only neglects but also offends a friend, that friend would be entirely justified to severe the friendship. But Krishna is such an unfailing and unflinching friend that, despite our many misdeeds through which we have repeatedly offended him, he remains ever-willing to resume our relationship with him.

Krishna is ever-working: Krishna being God is perfect and complete. He has no work to do and has nothing to gain from his relationship with us. Yet due to his selfless and tireless love for us, he voluntarily and constantly works to help us return to him and thereby become eternally happy. Srimad Bhagavatam (8.3.17) states that Krishna is tireless (alayaaya) in his endeavors to help us. Srila Prabhupada elucidates this in his commentary, “He [Krishna] is within our hearts and is not at all inattentive. His only aim is to deliver us from material life. It is not that He becomes attentive to us only when we offer prayers to Him. Even before we offer our prayers, He incessantly tries to deliver us. He is never lazy in regard to our deliverance.”

When we understand how much Krishna loves us and to what lengths he is ready to go in his love for us, how can we not reciprocate?

  1. ii.                 Krishna accommodates us when we falter in our attempts to love him

When we strive to love Krishna, we often falter and fall due to our attachments and weaknesses. Krishna accommodates us despite our lapses, as is movingly demonstrated through a two-verse sequence in the Bhagavad-gita (9.30-31).

First (9.30), Krishna urges us to recognize as saintly a devotee who, though guilty of grievous misconduct, is still determined to serve him. Next (9.31) he assures that such a devotee will soon get reformed and then proclaims that due to his unfailing love he will forever protect such a devotee.

The first verse offers a glimpse of the unconditional nature of Krishna’s love: there is nothing that we can ever do, no matter how vicious, that can stop Krishna from loving us.

At the same time, though love can be unilateral, a loving relationship cannot; it must always be bilateral. That’s why the second verse (9.31) indirectly urges one who has made a mistake to return to a virtuous, devotional lifestyle that will engender a pure heart receptive to Krishna’s love. It does so by first unequivocally reassuring us that such a change of heart is definitely possible, even inevitable and imminent (kshipram bhavati dharmatma). Then, knowing that an inner battle is necessary for attaining that state, it inspires us to fight by declaring that Krishna with all his omnipotence will protect us (na me bhaktah pranashyati).

If we just let Krishna help us by expressing our desire to love him, he will expertly guide us to overcome all inner and outer obstacles, and grow and go towards his eternal abode, the world of endless love.

To summarize, when we choose to love Krishna, our love breaks free of all limitations and finds the most eminently lovable object of love, who loves us impartially and unconditionally and who engages his omnipotence to help us love him.

No wonder Srimad Bhagavatam (1.2.6) declares that when we learn to love Krishna purely, the result is yayatma suprasidati: our heart and soul become content fully and forever.


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As a family therapist, I counsel people both within and outside the Hare Krishna movement. I recently received an e-mail from a young woman devotee who was unhappy in her relationship with her abusive husband but was conflicted about leaving him.

“Maybe it’s good that I feel bad about myself,” she wrote, “because that will help me develop humility.”

This wasn’t the first time I had heard this logic.

The Bhagavad-gita teaches that humility is essential for spiritual progress. Unfortunately, devotees sometimes think that feeling bad about oneself is a prerequisite for humility.

I often see devotees struggling with the concept of self-esteem. Having read the prayers of saints in our line, they often think their own feelings should align with the self-effacing statements of these great souls. They may associate low self-esteem with spiritual advancement and perpetuate a lifelong attitude of feeling bad about themselves. They may then attract people into their lives who treat them in accord with how they feel about themselves.

The confusion comes from trying to equate feelings that come from our pure ego with feelings that come from our material, or false, ego. The great souls express sentiments arising from pure spiritual ego uncontaminated by the modes of material nature. When they feel, in Lord Chaitanya’s words, “lower than the straw in the street,” that is an exhilarating emotion. They see the greatness of the Lord, and they see all others as more qualified than themselves. They are imbued with love and appreciation for all of Krishna’s creation.

Bhaktivinoda Thakura, a superlative Vaishnava teacher, wrote many beautiful songs expressing his attraction and love for the Lord, songs about achieving the goal of his heart—unconditional love for the Lord—and self-denigrating songs in which he laments his lack of devotion. As a pure soul, he expresses his attachment and love for the Lord and at the same time his feelings of being unqualified and hopeless of achieving such love. These are both authentic feelings that spring from humility, attachment, and love for the Lord.

Acknowledging Our Faults

In the early stages of our spiritual journey, we may experience a semblance of these emotions, as Krishna prepares the soil to cultivate our devotion. I recall an important experience which I had before becoming a devotee. I had a difficult time accepting criticism and felt certain that my opinions were right. That mentality created numerous problems, both professionally and personally. For months I had been contesting my supervisor’s advice about how to do my job as a resident director in a university dormitory. My obstinacy was making my job very difficult and I was suffering. Finally, one day I had the powerful realization that I was wrong. Not only was I wrong about this particular issue but I was wrong about so many things.

I can’t describe how liberating it felt to accept my fallible nature. I no longer carried the burden of having to be right about everything. I felt lowly but at same time new possibilities opened up to me. For the first time in my adult life I could hear my authority with true submission. This mental shift prepared me to take shelter of my spiritual master and devotees. In instances when Krishna helps to free us from false pride, we can taste the sweetness of humility.

Sometimes, however, when we are still contaminated by the modes of material nature and identifying with our material mind and body, feeling lower than the straw in the street can lead to self-loathing and despondency. These feelings then impede the execution of our devotional practices. We have to judge whether our psychology is favorable for serving the Lord or an impediment. Paradoxically, most people need to develop a healthy material ego before they can transcend it and realize their spiritual ego.

I once heard a motivational speaker say that people with healthy self-esteem think of themselves less, not less of themselves. When we feel good about ourselves, we can devote more time and energy extending ourselves to others, rather than being absorbed in self-deprecation. High self-esteem also gives us more freedom to act according to our values and convictions. When we feel bad about ourselves, we may do things to please or placate others. In an effort to receive external validation, we may be easily influenced to do things that conflict with our beliefs.

Feeling Worthy and Competent

Nathaniel Branden, a well-known psychologist, defines self-esteem as “the disposition of experiencing oneself as competent in coping with the basic challenges of life and as being worthy of happiness.” How do these aspects of self-esteem—self-confidence and self-respect—relate to Krishna consciousness? Krishna wants all souls trapped in the material world to be peaceful and happy. Human life affords us the opportunity to engage our talents and abilities in serving the Lord. When we offer ourselves to the Lord’s service, we feel joyful. A friend once gave my husband and me a framed aphorism that says, “What you are is God’s gift to you, and what you become is your gift to God.”

Aside from confusing humility with low self-esteem, devotees sometimes correlate the concept of high self-esteem with pride and self-absorption. But it is actually the contrary. People who exhibit high self-esteem also exemplify a more humble attitude toward others. They show a willingness to admit and correct mistakes, whereas persons with low self-esteem are often defensive and feel a need to prove they are right.

In a famous story from the Mahabharata, Krishna once met with Yudhishthira Maharaja and Duryodhana. Desiring to glorify His devotee Yudhishthira, Krishna requested him to find a person lower than himself, and asked sinful Duryodhana to find a person greater than himself.

Yudhishthira had all good qualities. He was peaceful and self-satisfied. No doubt he had healthy self-esteem. Yet he could not find anyone he considered lower than himself. Again, this is the example of an advanced Vaishnava who embodies genuine humility.

On the other hand, the unrighteous Duryodhana searched the kingdom all day and couldn’t find anyone he considered superior to himself.

Duryodhana was contaminated by vanity and pride. He envied and abused great souls. He was in constant anxiety over his position, always trying to eliminate his competitors. His sense of self depended on externals such as position and power, and thus he knew of no inner peace. He was tormented by his own lust and greed.

Pride Versus High Self-esteem

Thinking oneself to be great is pride, not high self-esteem. A person with high self-esteem exhibits humility. The perfection of self-esteem is seen in persons completely free from false ego, where humility is a product of their spiritual realization.

In our conditioned state, we might identify more with Duryodhana’s mentality than with Maharaja Yudhishthira’s. But as we progress on our spiritual journey, we will see ourselves differently. The more we come to realize we aren’t the independent performer but the instrument, the healthier our self-esteem becomes. In material life the modes of goodness, passion, and ignorance influence us. These modes mix and compete with one another to shape our state of mind, including how we feel about ourselves.

Persons steeped in the mode of ignorance are happy and feel good about themselves when their senses are pleased. Persons immersed in the mode of passion are happy and feel good about themselves when others value and validate their accomplishments. In these lower modes, our sense of self fluctuates constantly.

Persons in the mode of goodness are happy and feel good about themselves when they act in knowledge, adhering to their ethical codes and values. They are less reactive to external stimuli, so their self-esteem depends more on their inner life. Thus they have more control over how they feel.

As people move into pure goodness, they realize themselves to be instruments of the Lord. They no longer identify themselves as the doer of their activities.

Prabhupada’s Example

Our spiritual master, Srila Prabhupada, showed high self-esteem. Although small in stature, he seemed large to us. He always held his head high and moved with purpose and confidence. He spoke in a straightforward way, with conviction and courage. His actions were bold and daring, yet he had a humble attitude, knowing that his success was totally up to the Lord. His humility is exemplified in his prayers aboard the ship when he first came to the United States from India:

O Lord, I am just like a puppet in Your hands. So if You have brought me here to dance, then make me dance, make me dance, O Lord, make me dance as You like.

I have no devotion, nor do I have any knowledge, but I have strong faith in the holy name of Krishna. I have been designated as Bhaktivedanta, and now, if You like, You can fulfill the real purport of Bhaktivedanta.

With great humility, Prabhupada finished his letter, “Signed, the most unfortunate, insignificant beggar A. C. Bhaktivedanta Swami.”

On the one hand this prayers shows that Prabhupada feels very lowly, but on the other hand he is confident he can do anything by the Lord’s grace. The prayer also gives us the key to developing qualities of pure devotion: faith in the holy name of Krishna. The stronger our faith in the holy name’s ability to transform our material consciousness, the more we will apply ourselves to the process of chanting. We will chant with as much focus and attention as we can and will carefully avoid offenses that hinder our spiritual progress.

We are less likely to exploit others when we see ourselves as their servant, realizing our—and their—true spiritual nature as part of God. We are glorious sparks of spiritual energy, with all good qualities, yet we feel tiny in the presence of the greatest, our Lord. With this true knowledge, the pure soul can have high self-esteem and humility simultaneously.

When I shared some of these points with the young woman who had e-mailed me her question, she wrote back: “It is a great relief to understand these points from this perspective. I now understand that I don’t have to keep living in shame and abuse to be spiritual.”

She suggested I write an article on the subject for BTG. I took her suggestion to heart, since other devotees have asked similar questions over the years. I hope it will be useful to others as well.


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By Srila Prabhupada

There is nothing in the world with which the Lord is disconnected. The only thing we must learn is to excavate the source of connection and thus be linked with Him by offenseless service. We can be connected with Him by the transcendental sound representation of the Lord. The Holy Name of the Lord and the Lord Himself are identical, and one who chants the Holy Name of the Lord in an offenseless manner can at once realize that the Lord is present before him. Even by the vibration of radio sound, we can partially realize sound relativity, and by resounding the sound of transcendence we can verily feel the presence of the Lord. In this age, when everything is polluted by the contamination of Kali, it is instructed in the scriptures and preached by Lord Sri Caitanya Mahaprabhu that by chanting the Holy Name of the Lord we can at once be free from contamination and gradually rise to the status of transcendence and go back to Godhead. The offenseless chanter of the Holy Name of the Lord is as auspicious as the Lord Himself, and the movement of pure devotees of the Lord all over the world can at once change the troublesome face of the world. Only by the propagation of the chanting of the Holy Name of the Lord can we be immune from all effects of the Age of Kali.
From Srila Prabhupada’s purport to Srimad-Bhagavatam, 1.16.32-33

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Chanting with a Backing by Bhaktimarga Swami


It was with great satisfaction that I conducted a Kirtan Standards course along with the Bhakti Academy students. The feedback that I received from this three hour interactive workshop/presentation were words like “informative,” “educational” and “clarification on things.” It was felt that before these students develop some habits regarding Kirtan (chanting) that fall in the realm of divergent, why not get it right in the beginning?

It was the founder-acarya of the movement, Prabhupada, who establish standards for when we are engaged in the culture of chanting. He once said there are two drums, or mridangas. One is the literature that goes far and wide and the other is the incarnation of sound vibration, or God in sound.

The idea behind this kirtan course is to know the mood, the execution and the preservation of its sanctity. Chanting, after all, is at the heart of the movement. Sharing this treasure with integrity is the mandate of all followers of the ISKCON movement. Somehow or other, we are meant to deliver the goods and those goods are the pure sound of mantra. There is a need.

Have you all heard some of the music of today? Some of it is not very enlightening for sure. It’s time to offer an alternative and that alternative has the backing of sages and saints from ancient times.



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The role of faith in devotional service


Faith is the unflinching confidence that upon attaining one thing — Krsna-bhakti — one is provided with all other desirable achievements. Absolute faith, unflinching faith, rests in Krsna-bhakti only. Faith in any other result or any other process will be unavoidably transient and ultimately disappointing. Attaining this faith rests upon guru-kripa, which includes very careful guidance and training. Similarly, one cannot move forward on this path while holding tightly to a bodily or a material conception of life — and thus of guru, the process of bhakti, the goal of bhakti, the rewards of bhakti, the subjective experience of bhakti, etc. These misconceptions will result in offenses, which will obfuscate one’s vision and seriously inhibit progress on the path. Faith brings intelligence and realization, which fix the mind in undeviating determination. The medium of cultivation of faith is service – humble and devoted service. This is KC’ness!
“When a person develops sraddha (faith), he can think about a subject and understand it, wheareas one cannot do so without sraddha. Indeed only a person with sraddha can reflect on anything.” -Chandogya Upanishad (7.19.1)

b) Bhagavad Gita 2.41

vyavasayatmika buddhir

ekeha kuru-nandana

bahu-sakha hy anantas ca

buddhayo ‘vyavasayinam

TRANSLATION: Those who are on this path are resolute in purpose, and their aim is one. O beloved child of the Kurus, the intelligence of those who are irresolute is many-branched.

PURPORT: A strong faith that by Krsna consciousness one will be elevated to the highest perfection of life is called vyavasayatmika intelligence. The Caitanya-caritamrta (Madhya 22.62) states:

‘sraddha’-sabde—visvasa kahe sudrdha niscaya krsne bhakti kaile sarva-karma krta haya

Faith means unflinching trust in something sublime. When one is engaged in the duties of Krsna consciousness, he need not act in relationship to the material world with obligations to family traditions, humanity, or nationality. Fruitive activities are the engagements of one’s reactions from past good or bad deeds. When one is awake in Krsna consciousness, he need no longer endeavor for good results in his activities. When one is situated in Krsna consciousness, all activities are on the absolute plane, for they are no longer subject to dualities like good and bad. The highest perfection of Krsna consciousness is renunciation of the material conception of life. This state is automatically achieved by progressive Krsna consciousness. The resolute purpose of a person in Krsna consciousness is based on knowledge.

Vasudevah sarvam iti sa mahatma su-durlabhah:

a person in Krsna consciousness is the rare good soul who knows perfectly that Vasudeva, or Krsna, is the root of all manifested causes. As by watering the root of a tree one automatically distributes water to the leaves and branches, so by acting in Krsna consciousness one can render the highest service to everyone—namely self, family, society, country, humanity, etc. If Krsna is satisfied by one’s actions, then everyone will be satisfied. Service in Krsna consciousness is, however, best practiced under the able guidance of a spiritual master who is a bona fide representative of Krsna, who knows the nature of the student and who can guide him to act in Krsna consciousness. As such, to be well versed in Krsna consciousness one has to act firmly and obey the representative of Krsna, and one should accept the instruction of the bona fide spiritual master as one’s mission in life. Srila Visvanatha Cakravarti Thakura instructs us, in his famous prayers for the spiritual master, as follows:

yasya prasadad bhagavat-prasado yasyaprasadan na gatih kuto ‘pi dhyayan stuvams tasya yasas tri-sandhyam vande guroh sri-caranaravindam

“By satisfaction of the spiritual master, the Supreme Personality of Godhead becomes satisfied. And by not satisfying the spiritual master, there is no chance of being promoted to the plane of Krsna consciousness. I should, therefore, meditate and pray for his mercy three times a day, and offer my respectful obeisances unto him, my spiritual master.” The whole process, however, depends on perfect knowledge of the soul beyond the conception of the body—not theoretically but practically, when there is no longer a chance for sense gratification manifested in fruitive activities. One who is not firmly fixed in mind is diverted by various types of fruitive acts.

c) Caitanya caritamrta Madhya 22.62

TRANSLATION: Sraddha is confident, firm faith that by rendering transcendental loving service to Krsna one automatically performs all subsidiary activities. Such faith is favorable to the discharge of devotional service.

PURPORT: Firm faith and confidence are called sraddha. When one engages in the Lord’s devotional service, he is to be understood to have performed all his responsibilities in the material world. He has satisfied his forefathers, ordinary living entities, and demigods and is free from all responsibility. Such a person does not need to meet his responsibilities separately. It is automatically done. Fruitive activity (karma) is meant to satisfy the senses of the conditioned soul. However, when one awakens to Krsna consciousness, he does not have to work separately for pious activity. The best achievement of all fruitive activity is detachment from material life, and this detachment is spontaneously enjoyed by the devotee firmly engaged in the Lord’s service.


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From Back to Godhead

What do the Bhagavatam and Srila Prabhupada have to say about these universal concepts?

At the beginning of his first book, Easy Journey to Other Planets, Srila Prabhupada writes, “Dedicated to the scientists of the world.” Perhaps it was Lord Krishna’s special plan that Srila Prabhupada’s first book be related to science, and space in particular. By this dedication, Srila Prabhupada is inviting scientists and any inquisitive thoughtful people to explore the science in the Vedic literature.

One of Srila Prabhupada’s outstanding contributions to humanity was to translate the Srimad-Bhagavatam from Sanskrit into English, with elaborate commentary, or “Purports.” The topic of space and time has received intense research in modern science, especially by Sir Isaac Newton and Albert Einstein. This article will discuss the Bhagavatam’s ideas on the relation between time and space, the eternal cyclic nature of time, relative time measurements, and related topics. We will also consider Newton’s and Einstein’s ideas about absolute space and time and where the Bhagavatam stands in relation to these concepts. We will explore some conclusions of modern cosmology and the relevance of the Bhagavatam to them. Finally, we will explore some metaphysical and philosophical aspects of time and space as given in Vedic scriptures.

The Correlation of Space and Time in the Bhagavatam
In his purport to Srimad-Bhagavatam 3.11.4, Srila Prabhupada writes, “Time and space are two correlative terms. Time is measured in terms of its covering a certain space of atoms.” This statement is significant as it verifies the correlation between time and space. According to the Bhagavatam, the material world comprises of combination of innumerable atoms, or paramanus. The invisible and indivisible paramanu is the ultimate material particle. Any material form is a conglomeration of such atoms. Srila Prabhupada continues in the purport, “Standard time is calculated in terms of the movement of the sun. The time covered by the sun in passing over an atom is calculated as atomic time.“ At the paramanu scale, the passing over of the sun may be understood as the passing of sunshine over an atom occupying a distinct position in space. In essence, the Bhagavatam is correlating time, matter, space, and sunlight. This correlation should ring a bell for someone who has pondered over Einstein’s theory of relativity, which also interrelates space and time, although not in the same sense as the Bhagavatam does.

The Eternal Cyclic Process
Continuing on from atomic time, the Bhagavatam gradually scales up the time divisions – till the stupendous lifetime of Brahma (311.04 trillion years). He is the secondary creator (after Vishnu) and is in charge of a particular universe. Srimad-Bhagavatam (6.17.37) says there are innumerable universes. Thus there are innumerable Brahmas, and, like the universe, they manifest and dissolve with every breath of Maha-Vishnu. Eternally the process repeats cyclically, and hence we cannot ascertain a particular beginning time or an end time. Srila Prabhupada writes, “No one knows where time began and where it ends.” (Bhagavatam 3.10.11, Purport) The current universe was preceded by an infinite number of universes and will be followed by an infinite number. This cyclic scheme of creation and dissolution with vast time scales has impressed many modern scientists. Distinguished astronomer Carl Sagan said, “Vedic cosmology is the only one in which the time scales correspond to those of modern scientific cosmology.“ Nobel laureate Count Maurice Maeterlinck wrote of “a Cosmogony which no European conception has ever surpassed.”

Thus we see in the Bhagavatam the correlation between space and time and the systematic development of time from the minute atomic level to the macro level of Brahma’s life. The Bhagavatam also explains that Brahma perceives time on his planet differently than the people on earth.

Relative Time Measurements on Different Planets
Srila Prabhupada writes in his purport to Srimad-Bhagavatam 10.13.40, “On different planets, the calculation of time is different. To give an example, a man-made satellite may orbit the earth in an hour and twenty-five minutes and thus complete one full day, although a day ordinarily takes twenty-four hours for those living on earth.” This quotation is taken from the incident where Brahma played mischief with Lord Krishna. Brahma resides in a planetary system called Brahmaloka, which is very far from earth. The time scale on his planet is so huge that one moment there is equal to one year on earth. Once, Brahma stole Lord Krishna’s cowherd friends and their calves from Vrindavan (on earth) and returned to earth within a moment. Meanwhile a whole year had passed on earth. In discussing the incident, Srila Prabhupada describes different times on different planets. Elsewhere in the Bhagavatam (9.3.28–32), we hear of King Kakudmi’s visit to Brahmaloka with his daughter, Revati. Kakudmi was seeking a suitable bridegroom for her and wanted to consult Brahma. When Kakudmi arrived there, Lord Brahma was hearing performances by Gandharvas, celestial musicians. After the performance ended, Kakudmi submitted his desire. Brahma laughed and told him that 27 chatur-yugas (116.64 million years) had elapsed on earth and all those potential sons-in-law he was considering had died long ago.

These incredible incidents relate somewhat to the ideas of time dilation in Einstein’s theory of relativity.

Einstein and Newton on Space and Time
Newton considered that the universe had existed forever in an unchanging state – a static universe. He considered time and space separate and independent and believed in absolute space and time. According to him, absolute time meant that one could distinctly measure the interval of time between two events and this time would be the same no matter who measured it. About absolute space, he wrote, “In its own nature, without regard to anything external, [it] remains always similar and immovable.“ Einstein’s concepts differ from that of Newton, who said that space and time are not separate entities but a single four-dimensional (length, breadth, height, time) continuum called space-time. This space-time will curve or bend around any massive planets or black holes, giving rise to gravity. Thus space and time are not like a static stage where the drama of matter takes place.

Together, space and time, as a single space-time, act on matter and also get acted upon. The curvature of the space-time continuum can be significantly different for different observers, as will the corresponding time measurements. Technically this is called time dilation. Thus in Einstein’s theory of general relativity, time (or space) is relative and not absolute. Einstein’s theory is widely regarded as a paradigm shift from Newton’s ideas of absolute space and time. In Einstein’s theory, however, the omnipresence, universality, and nondiscriminating nature of space-time and gravity acquire a sort of absolute nature, although the theory focuses on relativity. This has led to philosophical discussions among scientists. Meanwhile, supporters of Newton claim that his work has not been sufficiently understood and his idea of absolute space cannot be discarded. So there is still some inconclusiveness among scientists despite centuries of deliberations. The Bhagavatam also conceives of absolute and relative time and space. Open-minded readers can seriously consider this alternative explanation.

Absolute and Relative Time in the Bhagavatam
The two incidents involving Brahma mentioned from the Bhagavatam give an idea of time being measured differently on different planets that somewhat resembles Einstein’s idea of time dilation. Additionally, the Bhagavatam describes absolute time, but the description differs from Newton’s explanation. Explaining absolute time in his purport to Srimad-Bhagavatam 3.10.10, Srila Prabhupada writes, “Metaphysically, time is distinguished as absolute and real. Absolute time is continuous and is unaffected by the speed or slowness of material things. Time is astronomically and mathematically calculated in relation to the speed, change and life of a particular object. Factually, however, time has nothing to do with the relativities of things; rather, everything is shaped and calculated in terms of the facility offered by time.” Taking this quotation together with the two incidents of the Bhagavatam mentioned earlier, we can infer that there is an absolute time but it is perceived differently on different planets, thereby giving rise to relative time measurements. The Bhagavatam says that time is an impersonal feature of Lord Krishna. Since Srila Prabhupada says, “Krishna is the source of all relative truths [Bhagavatam 10.2.26, Purport],” we can conclude that Krishna is the absolute reference for all relative times.

Absolute and Relative Space in the Bhagavatam
As for space, the Bhagavatam and the Brahma-samhita categorize it into two types. What we generally consider space is called nabha in Sanskrit, and it is the mundane space (or sky) of the material world. It manifests in each universe during the lifetime of a particular Brahma. Since there are innumerable universes and innumerable Brahmas, there are innumerable nabhas. These material nabhas are the domain of matter.

Beyond the realm of material spaces is the spiritual sky. It is called the sanatana (eternal) sky. It is absolute, and any relativity arises only in the material sky. In his purport to Srimad-Bhagavatam 5.5.19, Srila Prabhupada writes, “The spiritual world is called absolute.” Speaking about the material sky, he said, “Material world means relative world.“ (Lecture, Bombay, November 13, 1974) The spiritual space is the absolute space, and the material space, or nabha, is the relative space. Thus, like time, even space is both absolute and relative.

Modern Cosmology and the Relevance of the Bhagavatam
Einstein’s theory proved to be a major milestone in modern cosmology, leading to the famous Big Bang theory. Scientists theorize that our universe is expanding and must have had a beginning some fourteen billion years ago from a point – known as a singularity – of infinite density, temperature, and space-time curvature. Scientists feel that such extreme conditions could allow for unifying Einstein’s theory of relativity with quantum physics, and the mystery of the universe could be unraveled. The attempts at unification, although a terra incognita, have resulted in two prominent theories: string theory and quantum-cosmology theory. Scientists working on string theory (the most prominent version being M theory) are hypothesizing the existence of multiverses with multidimensions rather than a single universe. The theory of quantum cosmology extends Einstein’s space-time past the Big Bang to a pre-Big Bang universe with a “quantum bridge” in between. Although this sounds complicated, in simple terms the theories are basically saying that many universes exist simultaneously, they come and go, and this process goes on forever.

The Bhagavatam stated the same thing long ago, with much additional information and scientifically sound principles, such as the interrelatedness of space and time, cosmic events ranging over billions of years, and different time measurements on different planets. These points should evoke interest in any inquisitive person to take up the study of the Bhagavatam.

Further, science continues to research the transformation of energy into matter, an idea present in the Bhagavatam from a larger perspective. There we see that the entire material manifestation (matter) is in fact a transformation of Krishna’s external energy, called pradhana. The Bhagavatam associates every detailed stage of the transformation of matter with the corresponding sensory experiences by living entities. For example, when air is manifested, it gets associated with touch, and when water is manifested, it gets associated with taste, and so on. This description hints that whatever we think of as reality in the material realm is strongly limited by material sense perception.

The Bhagavatam invites us to go higher, up to the spiritual realm, for a complete picture of reality. Modern science, in its study of space and time, limits itself to the domain of matter. The Bhagavatam takes both material and spiritual things into account in its grand narrative. So it would be difficult to expect science to reach the exact conclusions of the Bhagavatam unless science acknowledges spirit, or consciousness, and admits it into its framework. This may take time. Meanwhile the interested reader is requested to open-mindedly undertake an in-depth study of Srimad-Bhagavatam, along with Srila Prabhupada’s elaborate purports.

The Final Purpose
In the end, the grand question would be “What is the purpose behind all this cosmic drama?” Modern science is mute on this most important question of purpose, but the Bhagavatam has the answer: Each of us is a spirit soul, part of Krishna, but we are now in the wrong place – the material realm, limited by space and time. In the Bhagavad-gita (15.6) Lord Krishna invites all of us to join Him in the absolute sanatana sky, specifically His abode, known as Goloka Vrindavana. The Bhagavatam informs us of infinite such spiritual planets, known as Vaikuntha planets. The spiritual universes are beyond the limitations of material space and time. There is no past and future but only the pure and immutable present time. Here in the material universe, we are tightly conditioned to think of past, present, and future times, whereas in the spiritual world there is only the present. The ultimate goal of the Vedic literature is to take us from this temporary material existence limited by space and time to the spiritual realm, where we live our spiritual existence eternally, alongside Lord Sri Krishna, the Supreme Personality of Godhead.


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Westerners, in general, take too much for granted and are not careful enough in social dealings.
Modern Western society conditions one to artificially come too close, too soon without respect for one another.
Modern Western society respects nothing beyond fame, money and sexual prowess; it is the antithesis of Vaishnava culture.
Prematurely judging others and jumping to conclusions are other negative traits found almost everywhere, which most of us must admit. These traits, born of the mode of passion, create dissension.
We should seek to understand our fellow devotees and try to accommodate them. This principle is basic to all religious people and holds true even in mundane dealings.
Here is a story that illustrates the point of prematurely judging others and jumping to conclusions.
Once, a man was sitting on a park bench, quietly reading a newspaper. A moment later, another man with three children came along and also sat down on the bench.
The man with the children looked morose and stared at the ground, but his children began to clamor for attention. The man ignored them and the children began to fight among themselves. The first man was trying to concentrate on his newspaper, but the children were making quite a disturbance. He thought, “Why doesn’t this man control his children?”
Ten minutes passed. Finally the first man suddenly put down his newspaper and turned to the second man and said, “Why the hell don’t you control your children? Can’t you understand that they’re
creating a nuisance? It’s so disturbing!”
The second man slowly turned to the first, and with tears in his eyes, replied, “My wife has just died of cancer. I’ve come from the hospital. My children think that she’s gone to sleep. They don’t know that she’s dead, but they sense that something’s wrong. I don’t know how to explain it to them.” On hearing this, the first man realized that he had made a mistake. He acted too soon without properly understanding the situation.
Nowadays, if a devotee is accused of something, many jump to a conclusion and consider him guilty without knowing the details. And if a devotee is factually guilty of a crime or misbehavior, many hold it against him even twenty years later, never considering the possibility that he could have repented and become purified through devotional service. This closed-mindedness indicates a lack of faith in the process of bhakti and a lack of proper culture.


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Our spiritual practice should nourish us, it should supply us with a taste that is better than the taste that material activities and sense gratification provide us with. When our spiritual practice lacks this taste, the temptation of material life which then allures us with a seemingly greater taste is always close to us. And at that time we are in danger. However, if we can find taste in our spiritual practice we are safe on the spiritual platform.

The chanting of the Holy Names is recommended as the main practice in the present time period, the age of Kali. Thus we need to find out how we can actually experience superior, spiritual taste from it. Sometimes, I provoke my audience by saying, “You have not chanted in this kirtan.” “What? Didn’t you hear the good vibration?”, I can then read off some of their faces. What I mean is something else – a way of chanting recommended by the Vedic scriptures. In the Srimad-Bhagavatam it is expressed it like this: “The Vedic mantra pranava is the bow, the pure living entity himself is the arrow, and the target is the Supreme Being.” (Srimad-Bhagavatam, 7.15.42) Srila Prabhupada clarifies the meaning of the mystical language of this verse which carries a very deep message for everyone who wants to do proper kirtana: “[The living entity] takes the arrow of his purified life, and with the help of the bow—the transcendental chanting of pranava, or the Hare Krsna mantra – he throws himself toward the Supreme Personality of Godhead.”(purport to the same verse) When an archer shoots an arrow he needs to take aim, make an effort to pull the string and then let the arrow go. While chanting Hare Krsna you have to perform the same three practices: Take aim: the first thing you have to do when you sit down to chant is to direct your practice towards Lord Krsna. If you chant without any focus and simply sing and for the most part follow your thoughts, you will miss the goal. This is I believe the foremost reason why many devotees do not obtain significant realization when they do kirtana – they just relax. A lack of taking aim. So don’t chant mindlessly or mechanically. How do you take aim? You must become aware: “I’m sitting in the temple, we’re glorifying Krsna, it’s meant for His pleasure.” Here is a very nice verse that you can read or meditate on to tune yourself into a devotional attitude: “One is immediately freed from the clutches of maya if he seriously and sincerely says, ‘My dear Lord Krsna, 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.’” (Sri Caitanya-caritamrta, Madhya-lila, 22.33). It also helps to sit in front of the deities or a picture of Radha and Krsna.

The second rule is to make an effort. Just as an archer must make the effort to pull the string, you need to make the effort of consciously hearing your own chanting – one mantra at a time. When Srila Prabhupada was once asked how we can chant most effectively he answered: “Just try to listen to yourself chant sincerely”. Because we repeat the same mantra again and again, the mind has the tendency to switch off. Therefore we do need to make an effort as we chant. This is very important, because we do not want to switch off when being with Krsna. You have to hear own your sound, not the sound of the group when you sit in the kirtana, but your own chanting. It is your own offering to Krsna, it’s your own entering into the proximity of the Holy Name and you can’t do this if you are not present. So this is the effort: “You have to chant with your tongue, and you hear the sound, that’s all.” (Srila Prabhupada on a morning walk in Honolulu, Feb. 3, 1975)

The third rule is to ‘let go’. When you chant you have to let go of everything else and just surrender unto Krsna and then let the Holy Name act. Srila Bhaktivinoda Thakura asks the question “Whose prayer does Krsna hear?” and he gives the answer, “The prayer of one who submits unconditionally to the sixfold path of surrender.” In other words, if you don’t really mean it, if you don’t put your heart where you put your words, then the Lord doesn’t hear it. But He is only a sincere prayer away if you really turn to Him without any pretense. Krsna is immediately responsive to such kind of prayer, immediately. So when you chant, surrender: “Here I am, I’m Your’s. I’m doing this for Your pleasure.” Let go of any other plan or agenda. You are now there for Krsna, it is your personal time with God.

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