ISKCON Derire Tree's Posts (13261)

Notable Stroll by Bhaktimarga Swami


It is now customary that, while still in the dark just before dawn, I go for a notable stroll with comrades, across the street from the temple,  The usual features are there in that modest residential neighbourhood—the potholes in the road, half-built homes, and canines who bark and gather like a bunch of gangsters.  They, the gangsters, are not much to worry about.  They can be loud.  They can come forward to huff and puff, but they are not a match for our bhakti brigade. We are merely walking and chanting softly on our beads.  Sure, they are territorial, but we will let them live in their instinct, because let it be known, it is also an illusion.  Territory belongs to the Supreme.

I look up.  Perhaps my comrades are also looking at the sky and at a greater power—the moon.  Now careful, we go on.  The potholes are pools.  We had several showers last night.  Clouds had let loose their contents.
One more feature of this hood is that many of the homeowners happily like us.  It is evident when the rare motorist comes by, or a homeowner greets us with a "Haribol," "Sita Rama" or even, "Hare Krishna."  Hearing such terminology is relaxing and reassuring. 
Incidentally, in the afternoon, a kirtan mela was held—an uproarious one—at the temple.  Guru Prasad Swami also spoke about the value of sacred sound in the dark pit of Kali-yuga.  I backed his remarks by saying that chanting dissolves that which is dark, spooky and threatening.
Read more…

Krsna will win! by Kadamba Kanana Swami


Krsna is so attractive, yet our material desires constantly bounce back up like a ball in water. We push it down, but then it always pops back up. How about that? Krsna will always win in the end because Krsna is the most attractive, however maya also appears to be attractive. Not as attractive as Krsna, but enough to make you think, “Yes, you can have Krsna, but He is far away. But I am here right now. You also have to live now. I mean of course, pure love of God is a beautiful and desirable thing, but what about now?” So this is the ongoing difficulty. However, by regular practice of Krsna consciousness, we are assured to always get more and more attracted to Krsna, and less and less to maya. So in this way, Krsna will always win!


Read more…


For Srila Prabhupada, the term “Society, Friendship and Love,” was used to refer to the primary allurement which keeps us shackled in the material world of illusion and suffering. The following excerpt is indicative of his general usage of the term:

Persons who are conditioned in the society, friendship, and love, this is the attraction for material life. “Society, friendship and love,” they think, “divinely bestowed upon man.” But that, it is not divinely bestowed upon man. From spiritual point of view, it is the gift of maya. Society, friendship and love is the gift of maya, illusion. (SB 3.25.23, Lecture, Nov 10 1968)

In the same lecture, Srila Prabhupada vividly describes just how society, friendship and love are illusory:

So we like society, friendship. Oh, I do not know how many intimate friendship I had, but those are now just like dream, everything finished. Now I am making new friendships with your countrymen, with you younger boys of this country, and I have forgotten the friendship which I made the whole life in India. So this friendship, this love, this society, this country—everything illusion. Just like dream. (SB 3.25.23, Lecture, Nov 10 1968)

Does this imply that Srila Prabhupada’s present association with his disciples is but another dream, another phase of illusion? It is clear that Srila Prabhupada used the term to refer to material association. Spiritual association is eternal, and has eternal value.

The phrase, “society, friendship and love” may be traced to a poem by William Cowper entitled “The Solitude of Alexander Selkirk”, where, oddly enough, they are associated with the soothing benefits of religion, and may almost imply spiritual association. The stanza in question runs as follows:

Society, Friendship, and Love

Divinely bestow’d upon man,

O had I the wings of a dove

How soon would I taste you again!

My sorrows I then might assuage

In the ways of religion and truth,

Might learn from the wisdom of age,

And be cheer’d by the sallies of youth.

Alexander Selkirk’s adventures in the South Pacific were the source of another well-known piece of Literature: Daniel Defoe’s Robinson Crusoe. The four years Alexander Selkirk spent marooned on a desert island fascinated the English public of the early 18th century, and were remarked by his companions to have effected a wonderful transformation of his somewhat roguish character. It was observed that Selkirk had attained a certain peace of mind after spending over four years on the island, where his only mental occupation, after securing food and shelter, was his daily reading of the Bible. But the change in his character appears to have been short-lived: he returned to his former unruly ways in the association of fellow buccaneers.

All of which raises another question: just what is the value, or the price, of association? The example of a man shipwrecked on an island was given by Father Tanner in a lively debate with Srila Prabhupada concerning the real situation regarding Srila Prabhupada’s disciples. Were they really pure, or was their apparent purity of conduct merely the effect of their temporary association? A man shipwrecked on an island may live a very pure life while on the island, and the effect of his solitude may last some time after being rescued, but, like Alexander Selkirk, he is bound to fall back to his old ways once placed in his old environment.

Srila Prabhupada’s response to this argument is telling: a person is considered pure so long as he remains engaged in a purifying process. What may happen in the future, or in different circumstances is not important. He is to be accepted for what he is at present.

The Father found something wanting in this view, feeling perhaps that it entails a sort of hypocrisy, or only an outward show of purity. Srila Prabhupada’s answer was that the process of devotional service is both internal and external. The difficulty for the Father seems to be one of choice: if it is possible for someone who is once pure to become impure by his own choosing, how can he ever be considered to have been pure? But purity never entails a loss of freedom. Srila Prabhupada answers succinctly: “I say that there is every chance of falling down. That is up to you to keep fit.” (Room Conversation, July 11 1973).


Read more…

2515108933?profile=RESIZE_710xIt’s been another one of those weeks wherein caring for our severely autistic/mentally daughter has very nearly eclipsed all other activities. Again. Same as every minute of every day. For years on end. In order that we might truly learn and grow deeper with sincere affection from the difficult experience which the Supreme Lord has sent as mercy to reform us from all selfish considerations. Or complaint (tat te nukumpam…) about the severe circumstance we must necessarily endure. As each endless day of severest ordeal crawls on it’s long journey into darkest night. Iron character is forged in the fire of ordeal. We are thusly compelled to continue anew each morning with our impossible life. As if the material energy had focused like a club specifically fashioned to brutally beat the spirit of mundane enjoyment completely from our consciousness. In order to cause all superficiality of being to be harshly scoured like a veneer from our souls.

Needless to say, we don’t worry much about threats of nuclear war, global famine or possible pandemics. Because universal devastation is continually revisited upon us as a constant daily occurrence within our household. As if this life were only training for the next hardship. And even the promise of eventual death is no guarantee that the next life will be any better (“Hello Mr. Sunshine!”) in our learning sojourn into Forever. And our journey to Love.

Much of our present difficulty is pertaining to our daughter’s full onset of OCD (Obsessive Compulsive Disorder) with her becoming an adult. Apparently, with adulthood various symptoms of OCD manifest within childhood can often become intensified and more severe. This has certainly been the case with our daughter who now has become completely obsessed with endlessly repeating each and every ordinary everyday activity. As if she were trapped in a rut of endless repetition—while constantly looking to us to reassure and somehow facilitate her every movement. Like she had become a zombie who also takes a certain perverse glee in observing our frustrations as we have to repeatedly urge her to take each bite of food. And each sip of water.

After finally being toilet-trained at nine years old (we used to jokingly refer to this important day as Independence Day because it happened on the Fourth of July) her obsessive compulsions have nearly caused this to be lost as she requires constant prompting for every little thing. And I mean every little thing. After being able to dress herself since early childhood—she is now unable to do so. Or completely unwilling—at least. And gleefully resists attempts to help her do what she already knew how to do. Each moment only feels like a lifetime. Her OCD has caused her to often violently demand (for her mother especially) to be forced to fulfill her every little need. As we dance madly backwards on thin ice trying to avoid potentially dangerous emotional outbursts. While simultaneously worrying about the neighbors might “think” of the ongoing litany of accompanying primal screams (“The hurricane inside the house has just started WWIII again—would someone please shut the windows!”).

OCD can be treated in cognitive adults who wish to achieve some measure of rehabilitative therapy. Of their own volition. Our child is more like a chimpanzee. Wild. And almost without any language skills whatsover. There is absolutely no possibility of a medical professional trying to “communicate” or reason with her about getting help overcoming an disorder which she not only doesn’t see as a problem—but actually a cause of self-stimulation. This combined with the self-stimulating textbook SIB (Self-Injurious Behavior) which she exhibits in a severe way common to many autistics. Apparently many severely autistic people eventually have all their all their teeth removed after they’ve finally picked away at their gumlines to expose raw nerves at the root. Like camels who enjoy eating thorns because of the bloody taste and “pleasurable” pain which is thereby incurred.

Whew! Thank God for small slivers! Life stings. And how was your day?

In the past couple of years that I’ve been publishing articles for the worldwide Hare Krishna community, I have often wondered about other special needs children (and their brave-hearted loving parents), but have heard very little about them. In fact, almost nothing as if they were merely some unpleasantness to be marginalized, discounted and swept beneath the “carpet.” Some time ago, after reading “Futility is the Principle,” parents of a special needs child contacted me for advice. From what they told me of their impending ordeal they were handling it quite well in a Krishna Conscious way. But were nonetheless very dismayed by the apparent lack of compassion which they had experienced from “devotee” friends in their local temple community. And they were very surprised to discover that non-devotee “karmis” were actually more compassionate and sympathetic to their parenting ordeal. Although the name of their child has been changed in respect for their privacy and anonymity what follows is the parent-to-parent advice I gave them. May Sri Guru and the Supreme Lord Shri Krishna Chaitanyadev kindly bless them and other loving parents of special needs children with ever deeper spiritual understanding with which to embrace their difficulty and lovingly raise their children.

Parent-to Parent

It sounds like your long first two years with “Hari” is more physically severe than what we initially experienced with our daughter (who has become more difficult as she has grown older, larger and bigger). Hopefully, you have a good relationship with your pediatrician. This can be very helpful. When your son begins to walk pay special attention to toe-walking which can denote autism. Because our daughter cannot speak we haven’t been able to have her vision tested. But as your child’s speech hopefully develops it might be more possible for you to do so.

I’m sorry to hear of the obvious lack of real compassion which you have experienced with those local practitioners of Krishna Consciousness with whom you have contact. It is shocking to perceive firsthand that those who should be repositories of Mercy and Divine Grace can sometimes be so devoid of basic compassion. Unfortunately, this stonehearted mood appears to have permeated much of the world in a way that is almost too awkwardly painful to mention.

Our own experience is that by having a child which requires special attention and greater affection from the parents forces us to go to a much deeper place of real love which transcends philosophical theory. Those who make a mere catechism of philosophical theory (without actual realization and maturity of insight) cannot appreciate or understand the potentially positive transformation unconditional affection may have upon the heart. Please forgive them for what they obviously do not have the “eyes” to “see.” (All of us can only ” see” what we can “see.” And “be” what we can “be.”)

What advice I would give to good parents like yourselves with a very young child with special needs and developmental delay is to love them with all your heart in an extremely unconditional way. Such affection with the help of Supersoul (the Guru within) will teach you deep things which might not be possible to learn from the Scriptures alone (or from ceremonial religiosity alone).

Resist the natural temptation to compare your child with any other “normal” children. You are souls. You must see this child as a soul which might be helped greatly by the influence of transcendental sound vibration erupting from your own hearts and out into the ether which surrounds you in your own home. Make your child like a Deity by your devotions towards whom you are constantly singing the kirtan of Sri Hari! Formal considerations of official puja or temple worship may become less possible because of the natural constraints of your own situation. This makes it so as a soul you must make the vibration of Hari kirtan from your own heart, lungs and tongue a constant existential salient point until the Holy Name Itself becomes your Deity. Please know that this child who has appeared to you with the name “Hari” is a great Mercy upon you so that you will be completely consumed with the Holy Name “Hari” which you will be sure to hear, chant and r emember with great forebearance.

Depending on degree of severity in your child’s impairment, possibly some help might be derived from conventional medicine or alternative therapies. With affectionate discernment avail yourselves of what help you might be able to get, but don’t be disappointed if convention largely fails you in your noble sojourn to find help for your child. Be wary of alternative “therapies” which self-promote “cures” under the auspices of an expensive price tag (which often inadvertently exposes insipid profit motivations by charlatans). And if possible avoid conventional medicine’s standard approach to prescribe pharmaceutical ameliorations (as a last resort they wanted to prescribe respirdol for our daughter which is a powerful anti-psychotic with potentially fatal side effects like diabetes and an otherwise rare form of liver cancer).

At first our daughter was diagnosed with PDD (Pervasive Developmental Delay) at the age of three. At age four we received the full-on diagnosis of autism. Nothing has helped us more than being literally forced to “fly our own planes” and become the souls we really were. Finally. After all. At last.

From such informal inspirational depth of being we can “see” that as loving parents we are indeed fully-equipped as jiva souls to deal with all adversity (‘adversiddhi?”) which comes our way by the Sweet Will of Providence. And that such external difficulty is not only not a “bad” thing but is actually our true inmost necessity and requirement come to help us become reformed within (tat te nukumpam…) and awakened with actual spiritual consciousness in a way that is completely transcendental to any external considerations whatsoever. If we can catch the gist of such a penetrating idea and embrace our apparent hardship with grace, courage and compassion it can transform our world in an extremely positive way.

Please know that I also suffered a great deal emotionally as my long sought after first born child was diagnosed as autistic and mentally retarded. They might as well have given me the news of her death, which is how it felt at first. I was emotionally devastated by this and it very nearly ruined my life at the time. I went from being a top Ford salesman to being virtually unable to sell anything (after a lifetime of sales work). I cried a lot with self-pity, “Why me, God?” This caused me to call out to Krishna as if I was at the time of my own death. Eventually, by His Grace I evolved from within to divest myself of all self-pity (as the most useless human emotion) by harmonizing spiritually from deep within until I could ask, “Why not me, God?”

Unfortunately, we are also very shocked to see that some “devotees” have very little compassion towards each other or especially towards the “meat-eating, demon, karmis” who they often appear to like sneering down their noses at with impervious disdain. For many years I have not viewed other souls who do not know of Krishna consciousness with such hateful disregard. I see “non-devotees” as souls in forgetfulness of their true inner natures. Yet, I nonetheless feel compelled to share affectionate friendship with them. As I always seek the goodness within others as fragmental portions of the same Supreme Spirit which suffuses all beings and all things. And I hope that by my unconditional friendship with them t hey might eventually become positively influenced towards real spiritual awakenment in a very positive way.

Please forgive me for saying that those persons who demonstrate a manifest lack of genuine concern for the suffering of others are themselves suffering from want of compassion in their lives which are dried up by extreme tendencies towards philosophical theory and subsequent heartless renunciation. Please show them your unconditional compassion and affection also.


Read more…

Good To Expect Bad by Achyut Gopal Das

Mosquitoes are something that bother me and very often as an unconscious reflex action and many times as a conscious action, I catch myself killing many of them. This is just one of the many sins and offenses I commit, mentally, verbally and physically. How can I then not expect any reactions for these actions of mine. Why should I pray for a life of no difficulties. Rather, I should be praying to God to give me my quota of reactions so that I learn my lessons quickly and rectify my offensive and sinful mentality. 

The Srimad-bhagvatam mentions the episode of King Pariksit garlanding Shamika Rsi with a dead snake due to being afflicted with unbearable hunger and anger which is very unusual of the tolerant and saintly King. What is commendable is his thought process as soon as he commits this offense. 
The Srimad-bhagvatam 1.19.1-3 mentions it in this way - "While returning home, King Parīkṣit felt that the act he had committed against the faultless and powerful brāhmaṇa was heinous and uncivilized. Consequently he was distressed. King Parīkṣit thought: "Due to my neglecting the injunctions of the Supreme Lord I must certainly expect some difficulty to overcome me in the near future. I now desire without reservation that the calamity come now, for in this way I may be freed of the sinful action and not commit such an offense again. I am uncivilized and sinful due to my neglect of brahminical culture, God consciousness and cow protection. Therefore I wish that my kingdom, strength and riches burn up immediately by the fire of the brāhmaṇa’s wrath so that in the future I may not be guided by such inauspicious attitudes."
One may feign praying for punishment for one's offenses or one may pray for punishment for one's offenses not expecting God to fulfill it. But the King not only prayed for some punishment but when he heard the news of punishment, he became satisfied that his prayers are answered. The Srimad-bhagvatam 1.19.4 mentions - "While the King was thus repenting, he received the news of his imminent death, which would be due to the bite of a snake-bird, occasioned by the curse spoken by the sage’s son. The King accepted this as good news, for it would be the cause of his indifference toward worldly things." Thus, King Pariksit leads by his example of how a devotee should think while living life in this world.

When one asks the question, "Why do bad things happen to good people?", it shows an inherent defective attitude that, one is a very good person having done no bad. We all are guilty of doing bad, either knowingly or unknowingly and therefore we should expect some bad thing or the other in our life and when the bad does come upon us, we can see it as God's grace on us because everything including the bad is in indeed God's grace on us for our highest good. At least, that is how I want to see my life...
Read more…


Have You Forgiven?

Below is a checklist to help you determine whether or not you are practicing a life of forgiveness, and thus what you may still need to work on. Go over this checklist as many times as needed for any person you have issues with.

On a scale of 0 to 10, with 10 being the highest level of unforgiveness, rate your forgiveness practice (0 is a perfect practice).

You need your offender to apologize.

You need your offender to admit they were wrong.

You need your offender to receive justice.

You need your offender to feel guilty about what they’ve done.

You need your offender to be aware of how much he or she hurt you.

You need your offender to rectify him or herself.

You need your offender to learn their lesson, either on their own or by your intervention.

You need your offender to pay for what they’ve done.

You need to tell your offender you forgave them in order to completely forgive (in some cases it may be helpful to tell them, but your forgiveness should not be dependent on this).

You keep the record of their wrongs securely lodged in your heart.

You punish your offender with your tongue by telling others what he or she has done.

You don’t let them save face.

You are unhappy or upset if your offender prospers, if people like or appreciate like them, etc).

You allow your offender to be afraid of or intimidated by you as a way of punishing them.

You get angry or upset every time you think about or see your “offender.”

You hope that something equally bad will happen to your offender.

You blame your offender for how you feel.

You blame your offender for problems in your life (problems related to what they did to you).

You attempt to forgive but can’t perfectly do it because you feel the person doesn’t deserve to be forgiven.

You forgive out of righteousness, that you’re great enough to do the right thing because your offender is too weak, stupid or full of himself to admit he or she is wrong.

You don’t empathize with the life struggles and conditioning that caused your offender to do what he or she did.

You don’t appreciate the good that exists in your offender

You are unable to pray for your offender, or if you do, at heart you really don’t want the blessings you prayed for to actually come to them.

You don’t accept that the situation was created to bring about your own learning, growth, and healing.

You can’t forgive yourself (complete forgiveness entails self forgiveness)

The Attitudes and Practices of One Who Lives The Life of Forgiveness.

For any item on the checklist that is not a 0, isolate which attitudes and practices below you need to adopt to bring it to a zero.

You accept that the situation provides an opportunity for your learning and healing and feel blessed to have the opportunity to deal with it.
You accept that you are harming yourself by holding onto your resentment.
You fully embrace the hurt and the emotions attached to the hurt without suppressing or repressing your feelings.
You accept that forgiveness is about your response to what they did and not about what they did. You thus agree to take responsibility for your own feelings and not make your feelings dependent upon the rectification of the mistakes made by your offender (their admitting their mistake, asking for forgiveness, apologizing for what they did, suffering for their mistake, rectifying their mistake, changing their behavior, etc.) or their being publically exposed or brought to justice.
You accept that your core need – coming from a core hurt – has created a need that has not been met and that the unfulfilled need has caused the resentment.
You do not deny what they did was wrong, hurtful or painful.
You may wish to speak about what happened once or twice to release the negative emotional energy attached to the resentment. After this, you stop talking about what happened and stop going over it in your mind again and again.
You accept that blaming them is simply the way you are dealing with your personal pain (a disempowering way), and that only forgiveness will release your pain.
You accept that blame is a way to avoid seeing your own defects by seeing those very defects in others.
You accept that you are also capable of making great mistakes, perhaps even the mistakes they made.
You treat them as you would want to be treated if you were in their situation.
You empathize with their life struggles and conditioning and why they acted the way they did.
You appreciate whatever good is found in your offender.
You pray for the welfare of your offender and bless them.
By your words and actions your offender is assured they have nothing to fear from you (you don’t use resentment to control them).
You honor your offender for the life lessons they bring you.
You accept that God wants you to extend to others the same forgiveness He gives you (give mercy, get mercy).
You forgive to get closer to Krishna. You value your relationship with Krsna more than you value punishing your offender.
You forgive from the heart (not just officially) and in action, and continue to forgive your offender daily.
You tear up the record in your heart of how they were wrong and how you were right.


Read more…

Sun and Sound by Bhaktimarga Swami

After a good catching-up rest at the Longdenville ISKCON Centre, I, along with a good number of devotees, hopped into another one of those colourful Chariot Fest events in the downtown of nearby Chaguanas.  My dear Godbrother, Guru Prasad Swami, and I were whisked into a devotee-owned warehouse and office for quick, simultaneous interviews by two TV stations.  Another one followed after our parade.
It was a hot one - both the weather and kirtan.  Somehow in Trinidad, overcast conditions had prevailed all week, until today, and then there were the blaring loud-speakers as well, which give an event like this the usual Trinidadian flavour.
The streets were crowded.  It was the perfect place to be.  I believe with the chanting, dancing and drumming, there was a shaking of the whole town.  The mayor joined us as well as a rep from another government level.  The youth carried the show with their exuberance, and the established business persons and seniors stood by with donor-backing. 

I went from the chill to the frying pan in terms of the elemental conditions, but that is what happens for me in the winter months.  My constant companion on this day was an umbrella over my head protecting me from the merciless sun, while my friend, Guru Prasad, kept his ear-plugs in place.  Lots of smiles dominated the program, including the euphoric stretching smile of Jagannatha, the central figure.
Read more…

A Bridge to Krishna by Sacinandana Swami


Sri Caitanya Mahaprabhu said: “Of the nine processes of devotional service, the most important is to always chant the Holy Name of the Lord. If one does so, avoiding the ten kinds of offenses, one very easily obtains the most valuable love of Godhead.” (Sri Caitanya-caritamrta, Antya 4.71)
One might ask, “Then why do we hear so many lectures on the Bhagavatam in our movement. Why don’t we simply sing and dance instead of listening to so many explanations?” The answer is: the other eight processes of devotional service support the chanting of the Holy Name.
For example, when you hear or read about Krishna you will know who Krishna is. From this position you will chant to a person, you will connect with Krishna; you will chant with sambandha-jnana. However, if you don’t read the Bhagavatam, if you don’t know who Krishna is, He will not mean anything to you and thus you won’t connect with Him. In other words, your chanting will be ‘shadow’ chanting, without substance. You will only think about material things and it will not be devotional service. Therefore you must hear and learn about Krishna, so that your chanting won’t be a bridge that leads nowhere, but a bridge to Krishna.

For me, chanting means touching Krishna. Here is an example for what I mean by that: at airports smoking is forbidden outside of designated smoking rooms. Especially when many people are smoking in one of these rooms, whoever comes out of it smells intensely – having been so immersed in the smoke – and if the person passes you, you’ll immediately know where he or she came from. Similarly, in chanting you want to be so absorbed that you touch Krishna, that you touch the spiritual world and that when you have completed your chanting you will have a Krishna conscious fragrance or influence around you.

Therefore it is so important that every day you enter this ‘room’ of intense, immersed chanting. Then you can bring something of the spiritual atmosphere into your daily life. That is why we are interested in the other eight practices of devotional services – they support us, and we need this support, so that we can chant with taste and absorption.


Read more…
By Madhava Smullen

The Bhakti Center in New York City’s Lower East Side has had an impressive 2019, laying the foundation for its community to have an extremely transformative year in 2020.

The Center’s annual report (, released this January, highlights many exciting achievements, led by devotees paying off their mortgage in full to outright own the 25 First Avenue building. 

Two major fundraisers in December 2018 and June 2019 helped make this possible. The June fundraiser “Devotion in Motion,” a ballroom gala-style event held at a showroom in Tribeca, featured music by Jahnavi Harrison, an inspirational talk by Radhanath Swami, and a presentation by Executive Director Virabhadra Tansey. Drawing 100 people, it raised $200,000. 

Also behind the historic achievement was Finance Director Sundarnath Das, who brought the Bhakti Center out of debt and into financial sustainability; and of course the continual support of the community for over a decade.

During a ceremony on December 16th, Radhanath Swami offered a copy of the deed to Sri Sri Radha-Muralidhara and Srila Prabhupada, along with kirtan by devotees from the Bhakti Center, ISKCON Brooklyn, New Vrindaban and Cleveland, Ohio, many of whom had a historic connection to the Center and its presiding deities.  


In a moving talk, Radhanath Swami said “To own this building seemed like a far away dream,” and told the devotees that they had a collective responsibility to take care of this precious asset of Srila Prabhupada and ISKCON.

The achievement is particularly monumental when viewed through the lens of ISKCON history. In 1975, devotees purchased a multi-storey building on 340 West 55th Street in the heart of Manhattan, which Srila Prabhupada was exceedingly proud of, and which saw the movement thrive. However, after Prabhupada’s departure, management sold the building, which GBC Praghosa Das recently called “one of the greatest blunders in the history of our movement.”

“So to finally own a six-storey building in Manhattan, one block away from 26 2nd Avenue, is a huge deal for the devotees,” says Bhakti Center art director and marketer Rukmini Priya Poddar. “We see it as a really big accomplishment.”

Devotees have also begun investing in improvements on the Bhakti Center building, spending $100,000 to completely renovate the second floor into a top-of-the-line yoga and meditation studio that will attract an upper class New York audience.

Across four months from August to November 2019, two interior designers from Sydney, Australia – Lalita Priya Dasi (co-director of the film Hare Krishna!) and her mother –  worked with contractors including Radha Madhava Dasi from New York to transform the space.


“The ceiling had collapsed because one of our pipes broke, and the whole place looked dark and dingy,” says Rukmini. “So we put in high quality, beautiful wood floors, made the walls brighter, and added a feature wall with a beautiful stone murti of Krishna.We also have plants, a hanging ghee lamp, a brand new sound system and lighting, and new yoga mats, cushions, and bench seating. It’s quite aesthetically gorgeous.”

The floor also includes a smaller meditation studio/classroom for kirtan classes and more, as well as a holistic lifestyle boutique store. The store sells everything New Yorkers need to start on their Bhakti path, such as mridangas, harmoniums and kartals for those taking kirtan classes; introductory books like the Bhagavad-gita As It Is, Sacinandana Swami’s The Living Name and Radhanath Swami’s The Journey Home; deities and deity paraphernalia for those who want to learn how to worship the Lord; and Ayurvedic products. 

It also sells kichari packs containing rice and moong dahl, a spice kit and instruction manual for those who want to start cooking prasadam; and sustainable fashions by Rasika Gopi. 

“Rasika works with village women in India to create beautiful block print clothing that is fair wage,” says Rukmini. “All the products in our shop have a story – we can say, this was made by this woman, in this village, and we’re paying her properly. Because more and more people in New York are very conscious, and they want to know who’s making their items.”

The store is just as aesthetically pleasing as the yoga studio, with stylish cabinetry, brick walls, wood floors and new glass doors letting in streams of sunlight. 


“When we first opened it and people walked through, they were like, “Is this really the Bhakti Center?” Rukmini laughs. “This year we want to attract a lot of people to events and classes on the second floor, and eventually we want to have the whole Bhakti Center renovated to the same quality.”

Two major new programs will be offered this Spring in the newly renovated space. The first, a 100-hour Meditation Teacher Training, will be taught over four weekends between February 21st and March 29th and is aimed at yoga students looking to deepen their meditation practice or teachers who want to add it to their classes. 

Taught by world-renowned Yogi Charu (Charu Chandra Das), it is based on the classical techniques found in the Hatha Yoga Pradipika, Shiva Samhita, Gerand Samhita and the Bhagavad-gita; and includes Japa Yoga – mantra chanting on malas (beads); Ajapa Japa – effortless mantra chanting; Kaya Sthairyam – steadiness of the body (sitting still); Samaveta Pranayama – even breathing; and much more.

The second program is Explorations of Kirtan – an Immersive Training in the Art of Sacred Song. Taught by Doyal Gauranga and Kishor Chandra, who head up the Bhakti Center’s Kirtan School, it will also run over four weekends, between February 22nd and April 12th. As well as teaching instruments and techniques of kirtan, it will cover the culture, mood, history and meaning of kirtan according to Sri Chaitanya Mahaprabhu’s teachings. 

The Bhakti Center, of course, also has many ongoing daily yoga and meditation classes, as well as weekly programs like Tuesday and Thursday night kirtans, and study programs like Gita Life and Bhagavat Sravana. 


Among its most life-changing programs are Community Groups. Over a four-month semester, people meet every week at member’s homes, to study Srila Prabhupada’s Bhagavad-gita or other spiritual books like Bhakti Tirtha Swami’s ‘From Lust to Love.’An experienced devotee facilitator answers questions, and there are several levels of groups, such as Beginning Bhakti, Growing Bhakti, and Deepening Bhakti. 

“Four months is a commitment, but there is a very high retention rate,” says Rukmini. “Around seventy percent of people who join a community group stay. And that’s the place where we create a really strong sanga of friends.”

The Bhakti Center’s community is what its team are most proud of, fostering incredible transformation. Its latest report, for instance, shares several “Bhakti Journey” stories from everyday New Yorkers who were searching for something more, showing their step-by-step progress.

Many first attended a yoga workshop or teacher training at the Bhakti Center, then participated in a Bhakti Immersion Retreat or began to read and discuss the Bhagavad-gita in a community group. From there, some began to study Ayurveda, went on pilgrimage to India, or began teaching yoga classes or facilitating community groups themselves. Others then took on the practice of bhakti, began doing selfless service, or even became initiated devotees. 

“New York is known for having all the people in the world, yet feeling the most lonely,” says Rukmini. “So many people are looking for warm, friendly, loving community. And I think they’ve found it at the Bhakti Center – along with genuine authentic tradition, deeply rooted in Srila Prabhupada’s teachings.”

“I moved from confusion to clarity,” writes one community member, Roya P, in the Bhakti Center’s annual report. “I walked through these doors not knowing what I wanted to do or who I wanted to be. This path and community has removed the dust from the mirrors of my eyes so I can truly see. I feel safe to claim my power and gifts and encouraged to help others do the same.”


“You can see that their lives have transformed,” says Rukmini. “They’ve given up bad habits, they’re living their values, their lifestyle is more healthy, they’re doing meditation practices, they’re connected to a loving community, and they have a relationship with God that they feel has really enriched their lives.”

Read the Bhakti Center’s Annual Report here:

Sign up for Explorations of Kirtan here:

Sign up for 100-hour Meditation Teacher Training here:


Read more…


From Back to Godhead

Chaitanya Mahaprabhu was always absorbed in thoughts of Sri Vrindavan, often enquiring in a deep devotional mood, “Where is Vrindavan?” On several occasions, His devotees, fearing separation from Him, diverted, discouraged, or dissuaded Him from visiting Vrindavan.

The Lord’s first attempt to go to Vrindavan occurred shortly after He accepted sannyasa, the renounced order, at age twenty-four. Nityananda Prabhu, His chief associate, tricked Him into thinking that the Ganga, which flows through Navadvip, West Bengal, where the Lord lived, was Vrindavan’s river Yamuna. Mahaprabhu was so intensely absorbed in thoughts of Vrindavan that He jumped into the Ganga. But Advaita Acharya, another leading associate, was waiting close by with a boat, and upon seeing Advaita, Mahaprabhu realized that this could not be Vrindavan. Advaita Acharya took Mahaprabhu to nearby Shantipur, where the Lord’s mother, Sacimata, was awaiting His arrival. On her request the Lord proceeded to Jagannatha Puri, to live His renounced life there.

From Puri, Chaitanya Mahaprabhu soon traveled to South India, and when He returned, His desire to visit Vrindavan was revived. He decided to first go to Bengal to visit His two mothers – mother Ganga and mother Saci – and the other devotees there. From Bengal He would make His way to Vrindavan.

In Navadvip, Mahaprabhu informed the devotees that He would be walking to Vrindavan. A devotee named Nrisimha Brahmacari wanted to ease the Lord’s journey by creating a picturesque path for Him. He meditated on constructing a beautiful jeweled road, flanked by bakuls, rare flowering trees. In his mind he put up beautiful trees on the banks of the lakes on the roadside. But he could not meditatively construct the road beyond Kanai Natashala, near the border of Bihar. He concluded, therefore, that Chaitanya Mahaprabhu would not be going to Vrindavan after all. As it turned out, because thousands of devotees wanted to accompany Him to Vrindavan – an inappropriate way for Him to visit that holy place – Mahaprabhu returned to Jagannatha Puri.

After some time in Puri, Chaitanya Mahaprabhu yet again strongly expressed His desire to go to Vrindavan, and gently requested His followers not to use any tricks to keep Him back. King Prataparudra (the king of Puri) and other devotees dissuaded Mahaprabhu from leaving, citing as reasons the rainy season and the upcoming Rathayatra festival. Therefore, after the rainy season and the Rathayatra, Mahaprabhu began His journey to Vrindavan with a servant, Balabhadra Bhattacharya.

Lord Chaitanya Travels to Vrindavan

Lord Chaitanya’s journey was filled with transcendental events. Leaving Orissa, He passed through the forest of Jharikhanda, inhabited by wild animals. Tigers, elephants, and deer were all attracted to Him, and He made them chant the holy names and dance in ecstasy. Even the elephants reared up on their hind legs and danced. Deer and tigers, natural enemies, embraced and kissed one another. When all the tigers and deer and elephants danced and jumped, Balabhadra Bhattacharya was struck with wonder.

Seeing the animals around Him, Sri Chaitanya Mahaprabhu remembered Vrindavan. The atmosphere He had created in the forest and the consciousness of the forest residents made Him feel that He had already reached Vrindavan. He then recited a verse about Vrindavan: “Vrindavan is the transcendental abode of the Lord. There is no hunger, anger, or thirst there. Although naturally inimical, human beings and fierce animals live together there in transcendental friendship.” (Srimad-Bhagavatam 10.13.60)

Chaitanya Mahaprabhu smiled on seeing the behavior of the animals, and He continued on His way. His mind had been absorbed in ecstatic love at Jagannatha Puri, but when He passed along the road to Vrindavan, that love increased a hundred times. He reached Varanasi and then several other towns, continuously dancing and chanting as He journeyed through Prayag and headed towards Mathura and Vrindavan.

Reaching Vrindavan

In 1515, Chaitanya Mahaprabhu arrived in Vrindavan and revealed the pastime places of Lord Krishna. His visit must be understood in terms of His identity and mood. The descriptions of His visit are captured in scriptures like Sri Chaitanya-charitamrita, by Srila Krishnadasa Kaviraja Goswami, who puts forward an esoteric reason for it – Lord Chaitanya’s desire to experience Srimati Radharani’s love for Lord Krishna. Chaitanya Mahaprabhu is Krishna Himself, but in the golden complexion and deep devotional mood of Srimati Radharani. Therefore He is known as the Golden Avatar, or Gauranga (“golden body”). Vrindavan evoked in Him deep transcendental mellows as He reenacted the pastimes He, as Krishna, had performed there five thousand years ago.

Upon reaching Mathura, Chaitanya Mahaprabhu first bathed in the Yamuna River at Vishram Ghat and went for darshana of the Krishna deity (Keshava) at Janmasthan, the holy birthplace of Krishna, after which He performed the parikrama (reverential walk) around Mathura. The Lord?s ecstatic love increased a thousand times when He visited Mathura, but it increased a hundred thousand times when He wandered in the forests of Vrindavan, beginning with Madhuvan, Talavan, Kumudavan, and Bahulavan. It was on Karttika Purnima, the full-moon day of that holy month, that Lord Chaitanya reached Vrindavan and began to visit its twelve sacred forests.

While Mahaprabhu was passing though the forests, the cows, being greatly attracted to Him, surrounded Him and licked Him. When He caressed them, they were unable to leave His association. All the birds began to sing the glories of Radha and Krishna, and the peacocks danced. As if offering a gift to a friend, the trees shook, bathing the Lord in flowers and presenting their fruits to Him. Throughout His parikrama, Lord Chaitanya displayed a flood of happiness that drenched all who came in contact with Him.

While walking, the Lord saw two parrots in dialogue and was eager to hear their conversation. On cue, the parrots flew down near Him. Krishnadasa Kaviraja describes their conversation in detail. First the male parrot glorified Krishna’s beauty and the effect He had on the gopis. The parrot then said that Krishna’s company was so alluring that even Lakshmi Devi underwent penance to take part in Krishna’s pastimes with the gopis – because Krishna is Jagat Mohana, the one who attracts everyone in the universe. The female parrot in turn spoke of Sri Radhika’s glorious beauty, Her delightful singing, and Her admirable intelligence, calling her Sushilata (“of excellent morals”) and Cittamohini (“attractor of the mind”). The male parrot continued Krishna’s glorification, calling Him Vamshidhari (“holder of the flute”), Chittahari (“stealer of the mind”), and Madana Mohana (“attractor of Cupid”). The female parrot’s response was a more intense veneration of Radharani. In this way Chaitanya Mahaprabhu relished the sweet glorifications of Radha and Krishna.

Chaitanya Mahaprabhu then arrived at Arishta Gram, where Krishna killed the demon Arishtasura five thousand years ago. This episode led to the manifestation of Syama-kunda and Radha-kunda. With the passage of time, however, these holy lakes had almost disappeared, and none of the local residents could help Lord Chaitanya find them. Being the abode of knowledge, He found two paddy fields called Kali Badi (black field) and Gauri Badi (white field) whose waters had reduced to the size of two small ponds. He entered them and bathed while offering them prayers.

Lord Chaitanya had rediscovered Syama Kunda and Radha Kunda. As Srimati Radharani is dear to Krishna, so is Her kunda, or lake. There Lord Krishna had performed water sports and the rasa dance with Srimati Radharani and the other gopis. Nearby are the kundas of the ashta-sakhis, Radha-Krishna’s eight closest gopi friends. Overwhelmed by ecstatic love, Lord Chaitanya danced on the bank of Radha Kunda and drew tilaka marks on His body with the lake’s clay.

At Govardhan Hill

Then Chaitanya Mahaprabhu proceeded to the Govardhan parikrama path. When He saw Govardhan Hill, He was overwhelmed with joy and offered obeisances by falling to the ground like a rod. He embraced a Govardhan rock and became mad with ecstatic love. When He arrived at the village of Govardhan, He offered obeisances to the Krishna deity named Harideva. Frenzied with ecstatic love, Chaitanya Mahaprabhu danced before Harideva. People were astonished to see the Lord’s beauty and ecstasy. He bathed in Brahma Kunda and that night stayed at the Harideva temple.

In another temple, on top of Govardhan Hill, resided Gopala Raya, the beautiful deity of cowherd-boy Krishna discovered by Srila Madhavendra Puri. During the night, Lord Chaitanya wondered how He would be able to see Gopala Raya without climbing Govardhan Hill, which He considered too sacred to climb. Gopala Raya understood His desire and reciprocated. A rumor spread among the villagers that Turkish soldiers were coming to destroy their temples. So the villagers rushed to protect the deities and moved Gopala Raya to a village named Ganthuli Gram. The next day, Lord Chaitanya bathed in Govinda Kunda and then saw Gopala at Ganthuli Gram. He was so overwhelmed by ecstatic love that He chanted and danced continuously for three days and three nights. On the fourth day, Gopala Raya returned to His own temple.

Chaitanya Mahaprabhu then continued with the Govardhan parikrama. At the sight of Govardhan He became rapturous with love of Krishna. While dancing, He recited a verse from the section of the Tenth Canto of the Bhagavatam known as the Venu Gita (“The Song of the Flute”): “Of all the devotees, this Govardhana Hill is the best! O my friends, this hill supplies Krishna and Balarama, along with Their calves, cows, and cowherd friends, with all kinds of necessities – water for drinking, very soft grass, caves, fruits, flowers, and vegetables. In this way the hill offers respects to the Lord. Being touched by the lotus feet of Krishna and Balarama, Govardhana Hill appears very jubilant.” (10.21.18)

Chaitanya Mahaprabhu displayed deep transcendental emotions, and His profuse tears fell on Govardhan as if in an abhisheka (bathing of the Lord).

The Lord then visited Kamyavan and other forests one after the other. He bathed in Pavana Sarovara and climbed the hill called Nandisvara, the site of the house of Maharaja Nanda, Krishna’s father. After inquiring from local people, He found three deities in a cave on the hill: Nanda, his wife (Yashoda), and between them the beautiful child Krishna, His body charmingly curved in three places. After offering respects, Lord Chaitanya touched Lord Krishna with great love. He chanted and danced the entire day and then went to Khadiravan, where Krishna killed Bakasura, a gigantic crane demon.

The Chaitanya-charitamrita states that when Sri Chaitanya Mahaprabhu visited the temple of Sesha-shayi (Vishnu reclining on His serpent bed) and His consort Lakshmi Devi, He recited a verse from the Srimad-Bhagavatam (10.31.19), spoken by the gopis when Krishna left them during the rasa dance: “O dearly beloved! Your lotus feet are so soft that we place them gently on our breasts, fearing that Your feet will be hurt. Our life rests only in You. Our minds, therefore, are filled with anxiety that Your tender feet might be wounded by pebbles as You roam about on the forest path.”

Thereafter, the Lord arrived at Khela Tirtha and then Bhandiravan. After crossing the Yamuna River, He went to Bhadravan. Then he visited Srivan, Lohavan, Mahavan, and Gokula, the place of Krishna’s early childhood pastimes. Upon seeing the spot where Krishna freed two demigods who had been cursed to live as trees, Lord Chaitanya felt tremendous ecstatic love. Finally He returned to Mathura.

In search of solitude, Lord Chaitanya soon moved to Akrura Ghat. He then visited Seva Kunj, the location of the rasa dance in the present town of Vrindavan. He was so overwhelmed by love of Krishna that He fainted. Regaining consciousness, He rolled on the ground in ecstasy. Thereafter He visited Keshi Tirtha and then returned to Akrura Ghat in the evening.

The next morning, Sri Chaitanya Mahaprabhu returned to Vrindavan and bathed at Chira Ghat, where Krishna had teased the gopis by stealing their clothes while they bathed in the Yamuna. Lord Chaitanya rested under a tamarind tree that had been there since the time of Lord Krishna’s pastimes. Because the river Yamuna flowed nearby, a cool breeze was blowing. Lord Chaitanya beheld the beauty of Vrindavan and the river. He performed kirtana there, His absorption in thoughts of Krishna causing His golden complexion to turn bluish.

Quoting the Brihan-naradiya Purana, Lord Chaitanya told everyone of the importance of chanting the holy name: “In this age of Kali, the only means of deliverance is the chanting of the holy names of the Lord. There is no other way, no other way, no other way.”

Has Krishna Returned to Vrindavan?

At this time, everywhere Lord Chaitanya went the talk of the town was that Krishna had again appeared in Vrindavan. Some people who had come from Vrindavan to Akrura Ghat reported that they had seen Krishna dancing on the hoods of the serpent Kaliya in the Yamuna, just has He had done fifty centuries earlier. Chaitanya Mahaprabhu’s traveling companion, Balabhadra Bhattacharya, wanted to go see the reported Krishna. But Mahaprabhu rebuked him, saying that those who were supposedly seeing Krishna were mad.

Why would Krishna appear in Kali-yuga? asked Lord Chaitanya. The scriptures, He explained, say that He appears in only three of the four ages.

In fact, since Chaitanya Mahaprabhu is Krishna, there was no need for Balabhadra Bhattacharya to go elsewhere. The supposed appearance of Krishna at Kaliya Ghat was an illusion, and Chaitanya Mahaprabhu’s appearance was the reality. The so-called Krishna turned out to be a fisherman standing in his boat.

As the Chaitanya-charitamrita (Madhya 18.118-19) shows, the people then understood the real identity of Chaitanya Mahaprabhu: “By Your bodily features we can see that You are none other than the son of Nanda Maharaja, although the golden luster of Your body has covered Your original complexion. As the aroma of deer musk cannot be concealed by wrapping it in a cloth, Your characteristics as the Supreme Personality of Godhead cannot be concealed by any means.”

Chaitanya Mahaprabhu stayed for many days at Akrura Ghat and revived the Krishna consciousness of many people. One day, He recalled the celebrated pastime that had occurred there when Akrura was taking Krishna and Balarama away from Vrindavan. While in the river chanting the Gayatri mantra, Akrura saw Vaikuntha, as well as Lord Vishnu reclining on Ananta-shesha. As Chaitanya Mahaprabhu recalled Akrura’s vision, He fell into the Yamuna and almost drowned. Balabhadra Bhattacharya jumped into the river and rescued the Lord.

After this incident, both the Lord’s host and Balabhadra Bhattacharya thought that it would be unsafe for the Lord to go alone to the Yamuna and that it would be better to take Him away from Vrindavan. The Lord and Balabhadra Bhattacharya then returned to Jagannatha Puri.

In Sri Chaitanya-charitamrita (Madhya 17.228?229), Krishnadasa Kaviraja Goswami writes, “When Sri Chaitanya Mahaprabhu was elsewhere, the very name of Vrindavan was sufficient to increase His ecstatic love. Now, when He was actually traveling in the Vrindavan forest, His mind was absorbed in great ecstatic love day and night. He ate and bathed simply out of habit.” The Vrindavan pastimes of Chaitanya Mahaprabhu demonstrate His absorption in the mood of separation from Krishna, the esoteric reason for His appearance in this world around five hundred years ago.


Read more…


When it comes to making relations work for a lifetime, probably the most powerful and handy tool available is forgiveness. Every relationship goes through a patch where it begins to ferment from love to hate. The search is for a process that stops the fermentation from taking place.

When one embraces hate one forgets. When one embrace love one forgives. Hatred is like a storm. Every storm always begins with a small speck of dirt. Very soon the entire sky is engulfed with a dust tornado. Similarly, every hate begins with a single doubt that has hurt the ego. Very soon every corner of your intellect is covered by the tornado of negative thoughts about the person who has caused the hurt till love is just not visible. The feeling of being hurt is the highest when the person who has hurt you the most is the very person you love the most.

Forgiveness is the sign of being concerned about the future and hatred is the sign of being stuck to the past. Harboring hatred means egoistic prosperity and emotional poverty. When you send hate signals to someone who has hurt you, your ego feels massaged at having got back aptly. But the flip side is that your emotions feel hurt, as the relationship of love has been stabbed from your side also. When the virus of hatred enters into your system it wrecks you emotionally.

Adopting forgiveness means egoistic depression and emotional prosperity. The ego is bound to feel depressed when you don’t retaliate while succumbing to hurt. However, with forgiveness, the relationship survives the storm of hatred. Forgiving when you are right means you value being right in the relationship over being right in your opinion.

In the Ramayana, Rama was chasing the golden deer and realizing that it was a demon in disguise, He shot it down. The demon died calling out to Sita and Lakshmana mimicking the voice of Rama. Sita panicked while Lakshmana remained calm. When Lakshmana didn’t budge even an inch to help his brother, Sita insulted him, mercilessly assassinating his character. Though hurt very deeply, Lakshmana paused to ponder over the sudden change of conduct and vocabulary of his sister-in-law. A moment of thinking gave him clarity that her concern for Rama was taking the shape of hateful words simply to instigate him to take timely action. Keeping his screaming ego encaged within the framework of logical thinking, Lakshmana decided to focus on her concern for Rama rather than on her hatred expressed towards him.

Words of hate are usually a desperate call for attention towards a hurt heart. Exhibition of anger in such situations is due to a rise in insecurity levels. Holding hatred in the heart is like holding super-toxic acids in a flimsy bag. Very soon they will corrode your peace of mind. Better to express it bluntly then to hold it painfully. When Lakshmana realized Sita’s painful predicament, he decided to be kind instead of being right. Though his ego was screaming for release, he decided to forgive her instability that arose due to her insecurity. By wearing the mask of empathy around his mouth, Lakshmana managed to save silently the 25-year-old relationship.

Forgiveness is the color that a butterfly leaves on the fingers of the child that catches it. It is the fragrance that the musk deer leaves on the hand of the hunter that captures it. It is the taste that the honeybee leaves for the farmer that breaks its comb. Forgiveness is not a quality you exhibit to help the other person. In actuality it’s a beautiful way to honor yourself.

In the Mahabharata, Arjuna killed a plethora of members of the Naga clan. The surviving Naga Takshak developed intense hatred towards the Pandava dynasty and conspired to eliminate Parikshit who was their last descendent. When Parishit died being bitten by Takshak, the poison of hatred was transferred to Janmajeya. He in turn organized a huge sarpa yajna where millions of snakes from across the planet were dragged into the sacrificial fire. Seeing no end to the hatred between the dynasties, wise sages advised Janmejaya to stop the karmic cycle using the instrument of forgiveness. They explained that frustrating moments are nature’s way of separating the good from the great. Greatness of a person shines forth when he exhibits great stability in moments of greater instability. Respecting their wise words, Janmajeya put a full stop to the legacy of hatred.

The default setting of the radio of life during angry seasons is to be tuned in to the lower frequencies playing hate songs. Unfortunately the frequency-changing knob isn’t always easily reachable. Therefore we need the help of a wise radio engineer who can help us find higher frequencies where the voice of kindness is amplified. By tuning in to higher frequencies regularly, one’s focus shifts from quantitative growth to qualitative up gradation.

Hatred makes one unnaturally frozen and rigid like ice. Forgiveness allows one to be naturally soft like the water happy to let go and flow. A person who learns to forgive is simply saying, “Why should I die of someone else’s disease?”


Read more…


Translation (SB 11.10.17)

Although the performer of fruitive activities desires perpetual happiness, it is clearly observed that materialistic workers are often unhappy and only occasionally satisfied, thus proving that they are not independent or in control of their destiny. When a person is always under the superior control of another, how can he expect any valuable results from his own fruitive actions?


Although materialistic persons reject Kṛṣṇa consciousness and instead pursue temporary sense gratification, even that sense gratification is often beyond their reach. If a person could really control his destiny, why would he create problems for himself? No intelligent person would impose death, old age or disease upon himself or his loved ones. One should recognize that these unwanted miseries are forced upon one by a higher power. Since we are all obviously under superior control, the atheistic philosophy advising one to simply perform fruitive activities and create a happy life is most imperfect.

Due to the influence of time, happiness and misery are created. When a woman becomes pregnant, her husband, relatives and friends eagerly await the birth of the child. As time passes and the child is born, everyone feels great happiness. But as the child grows into old age and eventually dies, that same passage of time is a cause of suffering. Ignorant persons vainly seek help from scientists who work feverishly and fruitlessly in their laboratories to stop death. In modern times, inventions have been created to eliminate the inconveniences of life, but the maintenance and production of such conveniences has proven to be unbearably inconvenient for hundreds of millions of people throughout the world. Only the most foolish person will propose that there is no superior controller and that one can achieve favorable results by expert performance of material activities. Ultimately all material activities are useless because they end in annihilation. If one is driving a car but has only limited control, the situation is most dangerous and must lead inevitably to disaster. Similarly, although we are trying to direct the material body to happiness, we are not in full control of the bodily demands, and therefore there will inevitably be disaster. As stated in Bhagavad-gītā (9.3),

aśraddadhānāḥ puruṣā

dharmasyāsya parantapa

aprāpya māḿ nivartante


“Those who are not faithful on the path of devotional service cannot attain Me, O conqueror of foes, but return to birth and death in this material world.” If one is not a devotee of Lord Kṛṣṇa, the eventual result of his activities is simply mṛtyu-saḿsāra — repeated birth and death.

This chapter is entitled as The nature of fruitive activities. It is herein explained by the Lord, how illusion of material life is that we are the controllers of our destiny. In the process of fruitive activities, people are thinking that they are the cause of the results of their actions. Krishna says in the Gita that this is Ahankaar, this is false ego. The foolish living being thinks himself to be the cause of the results of his actions. But actually they are carried out by the nature. They are carried out by the higher powers and the evidence of this is very clearly explained in the purport that in everyone’s performance of actions in this world they are seeking pleasure, they are seeking health, they are seeking long lives. But yet Mrtyu samasara comes upon everyone- the repetition of birth and death and the frustration. So ultimately there is higher power we are all under the control of.

Story of Shaubhari muni

In Srimad Bhagavatam in ninth canto, there is a story of Shaubhari muni. He was very powerful yogi. Millions of time more powerful than any materialist today in his ability to fulfill his material desires. He had attained very great mystic powers. And of course when one becomes very powerful spiritually or materially, the tendency is to become very proud and in pride the greatest danger is that we can offend saintly persons. So Shaubhari Muni , as it is described, somehow offended the great devotee Garuda. By doing this, although he was very respected for his very high position, if Krishna does not protect us then nobody however great we are , however advanced spiritually we are, we cannot control our senses even from the grossest activities. It is not possible. The greatest illusion even in spiritual life is to think that by spiritual advancement we can protect ourselves from falling into clutches of Maya, but the fact is

rāga-dveṣa-vimuktais tu

viṣayān indriyaiś caran

ātma-vaśyair vidheyātmā

prasādam adhigacchati

(BG 2.64)

It is only by the mercy of Krishna that we can maintain any spiritual position at all. It is only by the mercy of Krishna that we can control our senses, even from the slightest temptation of illusory energy . It is not by our own power. Of course we must follow the rules and regulations of Krishna Consciousness in spiritual life according to our capacity and when Krishna sees that we are sincere and we are humbly attempting and trying, He will give us the power to control our senses and overcome the temptations of illusion. But without Krishna’s help, we cannot do anything.

So Shaubhari muni, although was very advanced in the yogic process, because of this pride he offended a great devotee and therefore Krishna simply withdrew His mercy and if Krishna can withdraw His mercy from a great spiritualist like this then what to speak of the gross materialist who is trying to look for pleasures in this world. Such a powerful yogi he was. He was in the Yamuna under the water for thousands of years performing meditations. Who of us could do that? Such power of control that he even had the power to control his breath. He did not even have to breathe air for thousands of years. This is the power he had to control his senses.

While he was living under the water one day, he saw a male and female fish enjoying the pleasures of sex together. Now what is our position in comparison to his as far as the ability to control our senses. And when we see birds or insects or fish having sexual pleasure together, does it disturb our minds? We just go on walking, doesn’t mean anything to us, but illusory energy of the Lord is so powerful, that if one is not protected by the lord then even something so insignificant as that, can completely infatuate one’s attention . So Shaubhari muni was thinking when he saw all this that “Oh! the pleasures of sex are so wonderful .Look at how these fish are enjoying.” He thought I must have this facility. He came out of the water, simply hunting for a consort to enjoy material pleasures with and he came across some beautiful damsels who were princesses. He approached their father who said,” You are an old man and my daughters are not attracted to you. Besides being very old and having long-matted grey hair, and because he was under water for so long, his skin was all wrinkled from too much exposure to water. They were not at all attracted. After all young ladies do not wish to have a husband who is an old sadhu . They like someone who is very strong, handsome and wealthy. So by his mystic power he transformed his form into the most young beautiful, handsome prince . Who of us could do that? Then when he came, all the princesses wanted him. So he expanded himself to satisfy each and every one of them. In this way he married, he enjoyed like anything. He was given tremendous wealth , tremendous powers. By his mysticism, he was able to create beautiful kingdoms, wonderful wonderful facilities to enjoy. He had literally at his control everything he wanted by his mystic powers and by the inheritance of what he had been given by his father -in- law. With these beautiful princesses, to the extent that anyone could imagine, he was enjoying material life. But after a short time of doing like this, he realized that no matter in how many forms I expand myself, no matter how much wealth I create by my mystic powers, no matter how beautiful these young girls are, he is frustrated and they were frustrated. He could understand what a great mistake he had made and he realized that this is because I had offended this great devotee of the Lord that I lost all my intelligence completely. Ultimately he and his wives all renounced everything and accepted the renounced order. So what is there to be learnt from this story. First of all whoever we are, however great we are, unless we are humbly taking shelter of the lotus feet of the Lord it is not possible for us ultimately to control our senses because we are all under His power. He can take away our intelligence. He can cover us by Maya. He can cover us by yoga maya. He can do anything He wants. We are eternally His servitors.

Story of Vishvamitra muni

We read a similar story in the life of Vishvamitra muni. He was such a great powerful yogi that he was able to sit in meditation in the winter in the peaks of the Himalayas with breaking ice and keeping his body up to his neck in the ice for 6 months at a time. Sometimes we are afraid of a cold bath which lasts about 15 or 20 seconds . He spent 6 months in ice without being disturbed, such was his power. But by the power of the illusory energy, just the tinkling of the ankle bells of Menaka was able to bewilder his mind and cast him deeply into the abyss of the material sense enjoyment. But it is described that Srila Haridas Thakur, even the personification of Maya with all of her potencies came before him to try to dissuade him from his wows. Because with great humility he was taking shelter of Krishna through His name, ultimately Maya became his disciple. Ultimately she surrendered to him. So the conclusion is that the devotee of the Lord understands that it is only by the power of God, it is only by the power of Krishna that we can do anything. It is only by power of Krishna that we can be protected and therefore, the devotee with all humility is always seeking shelter of the lord. Therefore such a devotee is never vanquished by the material energy. But those foolish materialistic people and even those less intelligent spiritualists who are dependent on their own powers, on their own abilities, on their own opulence, they are birth after birth after birth frustrated , frustrated by the inflictions of the modes of material nature.

Depending on Krishna

The greatest, most powerful materialistic heroes in the world throughout history- where are they now? They have all succumbed to death. They have all succumbed to old age. They have all been defeated. Material nature defeats every one and this is the essential principle in the 11th chapter of the Gita, where Krishna manifests His universal form to show that I am devouring everyone, I am consuming everyone. In my form of time, everyone is completely under my control and nobody can escape it even for a second and the greatest illusion it is to think that we have escaped it. The difference between the sura or the asura, the demoniac and the devotee is simply that. And therefore I will act independent of Krishna’s will. In the universal form of God He showed that He is devouring every living being from the greatest most powerful heroes to the insignificant insects in His form of time. Devotee accepts it. Devotee admits it ,“Yes , KRISHNA You are in control. You have created, You are maintaining and you will annihilate. I surrender to you”. Srila Prabhupada used the example that a cat keeps a rat in her mouth holding with her teeth and the when rat looks when she looks upon that cat in great fear and horror, the rat is seeing this cat as death personified. The same cat when she is holding her kittens with the same mouth, the kitten sees the cat as the most protective loving mother. What is the difference? This is difference of perception. Because the rat is trying to act independent of the will of the cat. What is that saying, when cat is away the rats will play? Because the rat has a separate interest trying to enjoy separate therefore sees that cat as death personified and ultilmately is killed by the cat. But the kitten , because the kitten has learned to take shelter, to surrender to the cat, the same cat appears to the kitten as the most loved, blessed, protected mother. So similarly this human society is called rat race. What does rat race mean? That means when the cat is away the mice and rats will play. We are thinking there is no God. We are thinking that God is not in control therefore either the God doesn’t exist or He is somewhere else and therefore we are all doing our own thing. We are all trying to make our arrangements, our own grand plans for material enjoyment, for progress and civilization. Therefore when death comes, we view death as the most cruel, terrible cheater taking everything away. Krishna says,’ I am death personified. For a devotee’ , but because a devotee is conscious that I can do nothing without Krishna , Krishna is everything, I can only be His servant. Let me just serve His will and whatever the result is. We are not attached to the results of our activities. We understand that the results are in the control of Krishna This is the teaching of karmaṇy evādhikāras te mā phaleṣu kadācana(BG 2.47). A devotee simply does his service for the pleasure of the Lord and is not at all attached to the fruits of his actions because he knows ultimately Krishna is in control. Whether I am a success or a failure, it is not in my hands. It is in God’s hand. I simple have to try my best. Such a devotee who is always absorbed in loving , humility in devotional service, such a devotee understands that death is but my Lord so kindly taking me back to His eternal abode. Devotee is not afraid of death. Devotee sees Krishna in life and sees Krishna in death because the devotee is taking shelter of Krishna.

bhajahū re mana śrī-nanda-nandana
abhaya-caraṇāravinda re

My dear mind, please take shelter of the lotus feet of the Lord. Surrender to Him. Be His servant. Only in this way you will be free from fear, anxiety, frustration and suffering. But any other arrangement we try to make be it on any various spiritual or material path, ultimately we will end in frustration and anxiety unless we learn to take shelter in all humility of the service of the Lord. Whoever we are, whether we are bramhacharis, grahasthas, vanprasthas,or sanyasis we must know that we do not have the power to control the mind, our senses even for a moment without the help of God, without the grace of God. Krishna’s illusory energy is so powerful. Even lord Shiva, the greatest of all vaishnavas and expansion of Lord Himself was completely mad after Mohini murti. Chasing after a young woman, even so intoxicated by this that Mohini Murti ran by his own disciples great sanyasis who were saying Om Namah Shivaya and performing great tapasya, giving up all forms of sensual experiences and here the lord they were worshipping comes by them running after a young woman, what is this? Lord Shiva what are you doing? We have given up all these things for you and you are doing. They could not understand. Ultimately lord Shiva became so completely intoxicated by the beauty of Mohini murti and finally in the end when he came back to his senses he was not even ashamed. He was proud. He was proud that my Lord is so great, that if He wants to take away my intelligence and make me into a complete sense enjoyer that is His glory. He was not ashamed thinking, oh I have lost my reputation. He was thinking no no if My lord wants to do like this, this is His power. I am completely subordinate to Him. So what to speak of us, our position. If Krishna wants to protect us nothing came disturb us and if Krishna wants to disturb us nothing can protect us. So therefore we simply have to try to please Krishna. Devotee has no other ambition. He doesn’t want to be great spiritualist. He doesn’t want to be powerful. He doesn’t want to attain mystic power. He doesn’t want to perform tremendous tapasya. He simply wants to please Krishna . If Krishna is pleased with our humble service nothing can harm us. If Krishna is not pleased then it is just the matter of time till through His illusiory energy we must succumb. So therefore this is the difference between the material consciousness and spiritual consciousness. One surrenders understanding our complete dependence on the Lord.
Real meaning of Independence

Recently we were at the rainbow gathering and the 4th of July came and we were discussing this idea that throughout America this is a very holy day. It is the day of independence. I think the 4th of July was the day when first the American politicians wrote the declaration of independence. They wanted to declare their independence from the British. Then there was a great war, the revolutionary war and ultimately the American colonies were victorious and they gained independence. Every year on 4th of July there is this great celebration, ‘Independence Day’. They are blowing off the fireworks, and all sorts of speeches and celebration. But what type of independence. First of all we came here and we took away the independence of American Indians. What is this? First, some Europeans came and then they fought war with the American Indians to take away their independence. Then the British came and took away our independence . Then we fought against them and took our independence. But the fact is that of all those people who signed the declaration of independence, is anyone of them here today to tell us about their independence. They have all succumbed to the repetition of birth and death . They have all attained what every materialist must attain – old age, disease and death. Therefore what sort of independence. Real independence comes when we declare from the core of our hearts that we are utterly and completely dependent on Krishna, dependent on God. The greatest illusion, an obstacle for real happiness and joy in this entire existence is that we are independent. Therefore every day devotees celebrate beginning at 3 or 4 in the morning, we are to celebrate that we are 100% , 24 hours a day, dependent on the mercy of Krishna. And in that dependence we recognize that dependence and glorify who we are depending on in everything we do and everything we say and potentially in everything we think.

Krishna is everything. We are His insignificant parts. He is nityo nityānāṁ cetanaś cetanānām eko bahūnāṁ yo vidadhāti kāmān (Kaṭha Upaniṣad 2.2.13) . That one Supreme Creator and controller of all that exists is completely masterminding this entire creation and all living beings are utterly dependent on His control. That is bhakti, to recognize that and to surrender. Bhagavad Gita gives this message. Arjuna wanted to act independently and what was the result. With all of his good qualities he was utterly frustrated but then he simply admitted that Krishna, You are my Lord, You are my Master, You are the creator, You are the maintainer, You are the destroyer, I surrender to You. What is Your will? Let me please You. Let me serve You. In that we are independent of all the material miseries. In total dependence on Krishna, on total dependence on the words of Guru we are completely independent of the illusions and frustration of this world. To the extent we are not surrendered, to that extent we must suffer the illusions of this world. So therefore a devotee sees only in these terms. He does not see that all I need is this and this and only if this happens and only if that happens then everything will be alright. The devotee understands that to the degree I am suffering it means to that degree I am not surrendering my will.

Sarva dharma parityajam mam ekam sarva vraja. Krishna says abandon all other occupations , all other dharmas, all other religions, just surrender with utter dependence on me. I will protect you from all sinful reaction, do not fear.

Thank you very much!

Hare Krishna!

Read more…

Devotional Services


(English version of the ‘Bhakti Rasamrita Sindhu’ by Sri Rupa Goswami)

Edited by Tridandi Goswami Abhay Charan Bhaktivedanta Swami


Akhilla, Rasa, Amrita, Murti, Prasrmara, Ruci, Ruddha, Taraka, Pali, Kalita, Syama, Lalita, Radha, Preyan, Bidhu, Jayati.

Akhila=All inclusive, Rasa=Mellow, Zest, Amrita=Nectar, Murti=Form, Prasrmara=Expanding, Ruchi=Attractive features, Ruddha=Controlling, Taraka=of the name, Pali=of the name, Kalita=Influenced by, Syama=of the name, Lalita=of the name, Radha=Shrimati Radharani, Preyan=Dearest, Bidhu=Consort, Jayati=Exists with glories.


Lord (Shri Krishna) Who is the dearest consort of Shrimati Radharani—exists eternally with all glories. He is all inclusive Personality Mellow transcendental in His eternal Form. By the expansion of his multi attractive features He is the controlling deity of the cowherd damsels like Taraka, Pali with influence over Syama and Lalita.


Lord Shri Krishna Who is the Personality of Godhead in His eternal Form is glorified because He has endeared Himself by His acts of benevolence in disseminating the different kinds of Rasa or Zests. Rasa is psychologically described as a sense perception. But the sense perception which we experience in our material conception of life,-is a perverted reflection of the reality. The reality is approached by self realisation of understanding the all inclusive Personal Form of the Supreme Who is all attractive Shri Krishna. The very name of Shri Krishna is suggestive of a conception of complete attraction by dint of wealth, strength, influence, beauty, knowledge and renunciation. Complete embodiment of all these opulences combined together in their fullness is exhibited by the manifested activities of the Lord when He is, out of His causeless mercy, within our view, although the Supreme Person is transcendental to the speculative actions of thinking, feeling and willing of a living being.

The eternal consort of Shrimati Radharani is Lord Shri Krishna Who is plenarily manifested as the speaker of the Bhagwat Geeta,—has His innumerable beams of expansions and each and every one of them is complete Bidhu or the one who vanquishes all kinds of distresses of the devotee. Even the Ashuras or the atheists who are enemies of the Lord are benefitted by His causeless mercy although superficially they appear to be slain by the Lord. Ashuras who are killed by the Lord do also attain to the platform of Mukti or liberation which is the destination of the impersonalist empiric philosophers. As such He is all attractive both for the Ashuras or the non-devotees materialistic living being and the Suras or the devotees. He is glorified evidently both by Suras and Asuras alike. In the battlefield of Kurukshetra Lord Shri Krishna was glorified even by the opposite camp of Arjuna when Bhisma addressed Lord Shri Krishna to be the relative of Arjuna the victorious warrior. And those who died in the battlefield of Kurukshetra attained the highest stage of liberation simply by fixing up their eyes over Him while dying in the field.

By His fullness of opulences and on account of His becoming the One without a Second competitor and His being the Lord of all creatures, He is worshipped even by the Supreme directors of the cosmic creations. He is attractive even by His personal decorative features. Lord Shri Krishna is observed always decorated with multi ornaments of apt position. His earrings, His crown, His bangles, His necklace, and belt etc. bedecked with most valuable jewels and His attractive smiling face smeared with the pulp of sandalwood on the forehead and His yellowish silken garments all combined together make His full attractive Personality. The whole ‘Bhagbatam Puranam’ is practically a vivid description of His fullness of attraction and in the beginning of the same the Lord Shri Krishna is discriminated from all other plenary manifestations or incarnations with emphasis on His becoming the Original Form of Godhead and the Personality of Godhead as He is. And considering all these features of His Person and transcendental qualities as described in all the Vedic revealed scriptures, Lord Shri Krishna is undoubtedly the all attractive eternal Form of all Rasas.

In the present context of His transcendental features He is the Predominating Lord of the primary Rasas called Santa (transcendental inaction) Dasya (transcendental servitorship) Sakhya (transcendental fraternity) Vatsalya (transcendental conjugation). In His transcendental Form in relation with the denizens of the Brajabhumi, He is the embodiment of spiritual bliss. The spiritual bliss is described in the Brahma Sutras also.

So for other Rasas which are secondary and individually connected with Him He is very properly described in the Bhagabatam on the arena of the King Kansa of Mathura. He is described there as follows:—

Mallanam asani (thunderbolt for the wrestlers) Naranam Narabara (for ordinary man, He is the most perfect form of man) Strinam smara murtiman (for the woman He appeared to be personified Cupid or the most desired of the opposite sex) Gopnam swajana (for the cowherdsmen He appeared to be the most beloved kinsman) Asatam khitibhujam sasta (for the culprit minded rulers He appeared to be the most redundant governor) and Swapitro sisu (for the parents He appeared to be a small child) Mrtyo Bhojapate (He appeared to be death personified before the king of Bhoja or Kansa) Virata avidusham (He identified Himself with the all pervading universal self for the less intelligent persons) Tatwam param yoginam (He appeared to the mystics to be the Absolute Truth) Vrishninam paradeva (for the Vaishnavas or to the descendants of Vishnu He appeared to be the highest worshipable deity). And thus known to the respective knowers according to their respective power of knowing Him, the Lord Shri Krishna entered the arena of King Kansa accompanied by His elder brother Shri Valadeva.

In the revealed scriptures the Rasas are described to be of twelve different sets. They are as follows:—

1. Roudra (anger) 2. Adbhuta (wonderful) 3. Sringara (conjugal) 4. Hasya (comic) 5. Vira (chivalrous) 6. Daya (merciful) 7. Dasya (servitorship) 8. Sakhya (fraternity) 9. Bhayanaka (ghastly) 10. Vitbhatsa (shocking) 11. Shanta (neutral) 12. Vatsalya (parental). Sringara and the Madhurya Rasa are one and the same. These twelve Rasas are standard Rasas and Lord Sri Krishna is evidently the embodiment of all these Rasas. He is not only the enjoyer of the Madhurya Rasa or the Sringara Rasa with Srimati Radharani but He is the enjoyer of the Vivatsya Rasa when He kills Ashuras like Kansa and Jarandha. In the creation of the Lord, there is nothing more than the above mentioned standard twelve Rasas in the matter of dealing with one another. Activities of the living being are accelerated by one of the Rasas either in its original form or in a perverted form. But all the Rasas are emanation from the Transcendence. There is no existence of any sort of reciprocation of Rasa if it is not emanated from the Supreme. Everything that be has its original source of emanation from the Supreme Being and that is the confirmation by the first sutra of the Vedanta Sutras (Janmadyasya yatah). And Sri Krishna being the original form of Godhead He is conclusively the reservoir Fountain Head of all the Rasas described above. And as such the Rasa in relation with Him become the absolute in nature. The Lord being the Absolute Truth any one of the above Rasas is Absolute in nature in relation of reciprocation with His service. The Lord being the enjoyer of all the Rasas the reciprocator is either directly or indirectly a constitutional servitor of the Lord exchanging the different Rasas. And therefore the devotees who serve the Lord directly in the primary Rasa of Dasya, Sakhya, Vatsalya and Madhurya are super servitors or eternal servitors than those who serve Him in the secondary Rasas of Roudhra, Adbhuta, Hasya etc. which are seven in all. Actual position of the living being is to serve the Lord and nothing more. The living being cannot become the Absolute Master at any stage of his existence namely materially or spiritually. Materially he can falsely pose himself as the master and being baffled in that attempt such servitor desires to annihilate his existence by becoming one with the Lord. This desire of becoming one with the Lord is not even within the jurisdiction of the Shanta Rasa and therefore except the five primary Rasas all other Rasas are exhibited outside the spiritual realm. But his oneness is transcendentally realised in the primary five Rasas because in the Absolute realm although there is constant reciprocation of the primary Rasas between the Lord and His eternal reciprocators or eternal servitors, qualitatively there is no difference between the Lord and the servitors. In the absolute realm there is no difference between Radharani and Krishna or between Yasoda and Krishna and so on. The reciprocators in the absolute realm and in the relative world are essentially and qualitatively one and the same but quantitatively there is difference between two namely the Lord and the servitors. The Lord is the immense source of supply of all the Rasas while the living entities are recipients only in their different capacity. In other words the Lord is the Whole while His Servitors are Constitutional Parts and Parcels only. The parts and parcels have therefore limited potency to enjoy and as such the parts and parcels of the Lord cannot be actually said as enjoyer in the proper sense of the term. Such reciprocators of the Rasas therefore properly termed as the enjoyed or the servitor partaker of the enjoyment enjoyed by the Lord. Although the Rasa of reciprocation is equally partaken both by the Lord and the servitors, the Lord is the Predominator enjoyer while the parts and parcels are predominated enjoyer. Real enjoyment of the living entity is realised in that way otherwise he can simply merge himself with the Lord by annihilating his constitutional position as he is emanated from the Supreme. This constitutional position of parts and parcels are predominantly existent in the Absolute Realm whereas the secondary Rasas are manifested in the relative world. When the Lord therefore desires to enjoy the secondary Rasa with His servitors such reciprocation is brought into existence in the relative world by the desire of the Lord. These secondary Rasas when they are actually dovetailed with Absolute Person the result is the same as that of other primary Rasas. Therefore the Vivatsa Rasa displayed between the Lord and Kansa also terminated in the liberation of Kansa on account of Sri Krishna’s becoming the Absolute Person.

Therefore the servitor living being, if at all he wants to relish any one of the above Rasas, he must reciprocate the same with Sri Krishna who is the unlimited ocean or source of all Rasas. One can derive any amount of Rasa of a particular type from that resources simply by such reciprocation with Krishna. “Gopal Tapani” directs therefore conclusively that Krishna is the Supreme Fountain Head of all the Rasas which are also confirmed by the Sruti or the Vedas. One should therefore always meditate upon Krishna to derive a particular type of Rasa according to one’s choice and under proper direction of the spiritual master.

Krishna appeared to Kansa as death personified because Kansa chose to kill Krishna from the beginning of His appearance. Similarly the Gopis wanted to have Krishna as the lover and therefore Krishna treated with them as the most fascinating lover displayed by the Madhurya Rasa of a transcendental paramour.

The conclusion is that the Personality of Godhead reciprocates with His servitors in the proportion and quality of service rendered unto Him. Nobody is doing anything except this reciprocation of Rasas between Krishna and himself and thus one is reaping the desired result in the proportion and quality of service illusioned in contamination with the material energy whereas such service is transcendental in the Absolute Realm where illusion is conspicuous by its absence only. The quality of service to Sri Krishna in the highest plane form is exhibited by the Gopis and such service is eulogised in the ‘Bhagavatam’ in the following words. “What is that penance which the Gopis had performed so that they are privileged to enjoy the drinking of the nectar of Lord’s beauty which is as much unfathomed as His other opulences are.”

With the Gopis therefore the highest transcendental quality of Rasa is reciprocated by the Lord and out of them the specifically mentioned Gopis of the name Taraka, Pali, Shyama, Lalita and Srimati Radharani are significant. In the Puranas the names of the Gopis like Gopali, Palika, Dhanya, Vishakha, Danistha, Radha, Anuradha, Somabha, Taraka etc. are mentioned. And in the ‘Dwarka Mahatma,’ the names of the Lalita, Shyamala, Saibya, Padma, Bhadra along with Vishakha are mentioned as the chief of the damsels of Brajabhumi. There is such mention of the names of the Gopis in “Skandha Puranam” also. Such Gopis were attracted by the beautiful and attractive features of the Form of Sri Krishna. They were not only attracted but also they were actually under the control of Lord by the paramourous feeling of the lover and the beloved. Such transcendental feelings of the pure Gopis are never to be compared with the erotic principles of the mundane world. In these transactions of highest reciprocations of Rasas Srimati Radharani stands to be the supermost partaker. She is therefore actually the counterpart emblem of all the Rasas which are reciprocated between Krishna and Radha in a specific manner unknown even to Krishna—both being equally full and perfect there is constantly an overflow of transcendental bliss which is purest form of competition of the Ahladini energy or the transcendental pleasure giving element potent in the Lord but displayed by Radharani.

In the Uttrakhanda of the Padmapuranam, such reciprocation of highest transcendental mellows is affirmed by eulogising the place called by the name Radhakunda where the Lord Krishna and Radharani exhibited Their reciprocal fullness. Radhakunda is therefore as much dear to Sri Krishna as Srimati Radharani. In Dwarka Rukmini is mentioned as the topmost queen of the Lord and similarly in Vrindaban Radharani is the topmost of the Gopis. The pastimeous functions of Vrindaban represent greater degree of Rasa reciprocation than Dwarka. As such Radharani is more conspicuous than Rukmini. She is there the all attractive counterpart of the all attractive Lord and therefore She is the highest embodiment of the Ahladini potency of the Lord. Voluntarily the Lord bifurcated Himself both as Radha and Krishna and again joined together in the still more attractive Form of Sri Chaitanya Mahaprabhu. In other words, the devotees of the Lord Sri Chaitanya Mahaprabhu are eligible candidates for approaching the Fountain Head of all Rasas. According to Sri Jiva Goswami the names of both Radha and Krishna are mentioned in the Rigveda as “Radha Madhava.” Men with poor fund of knowledge and so-called adherents of the Vedas indulge in pragmatic discussions concerning Radha and Krishna without consulting the authoritative statements of the Goswamins headed by Sri Rupa Goswami and followed by Sri Raghunath Das Goswami. Sri Narottamdas Thakur therefore recommends to the serious students of Rasa science to surrender unto the protection of the merciful Goswamins who left all material association of aristocracy and comfort and voluntarily accepted the part of a rigid mendicant to bestow upon the fallen souls like us their highest gift of benediction in the matter of love affairs of Radha and Krishna.

The transcendental science of the love affairs of Radha and Krishna is not a thing easily understandable even by the highest talented persons and materialistic opportunists. Those who therefore try to realise the affairs of Radha and Krishna in puffed up manner of materialistic scholarship will vanquish in the womb of oblivion if they are reluctant to consult the books left by the Goswamins. “Bhakti Rasamrita Sindhu” on which we are attempting on an English version following the footprints of the Goswamins,—is the first of a series of books in this connection. This preliminary study in the science of devotional service is therefore cautiously done by boring the transcendental subject within the purview of a serious student.

Metaphorically Bidhu means the moon. As such the Lord is compared with the moon although He is sometimes compared with the most powerful sun. He is compared with the moon per excellence not in the sense that the moon is less powerful than the sun. On the other hand, He is not compared with the sun on account of the sun’s inability to counteract the fatigue of a tiresome man. It is the light of the moon only which is soothing to such tiresome person. We want to drink Rasa for getting ourselves relief from the tiresome effect of dry material life. Tiresome people in order to mitigate the fatigue of day’s labour try to eschew a particular type of Rasa from the more tiresome sounds of radio and other materialistic instruments of relaxation but the foolish people do not know that real Rasa is flowing under the Lotus Feet of Lord Sri Krishna. He is constantly disseminating the flow of transcendental Rasas in the soothing way of the moonlight. Therefore He is compared with the moon which has a specific cooling effect on the fatigued person. In the spring the moonlight is still more soothing. The spring moon is the sum total of all the Rasas of other seasons and thus Sri Krishna is compared with the moon delightfully displayed along with the twinkling stars of the name Taraka etc. In that metaphorical explanation the word Ruddha means covered and Pali means the range. In other words the rays of the moon has covered the twinkling light of the range of stars. This beautiful features of the moon is exhibited at night which is compared with the name of dark Shyama. In this metaphorical combination of words Lalita means pastime and Amrita is the moon light itself.

As the moonlight, stars and their reciprocal pastime all concerned in the night alone, so also Lord Sri Krishna’s pastime in the highest zest of transcendental Rasa is possible at night alone along with Srimati Radharani and Her eternal associates. In that night illuminated by the moon the stars known as Anuradha or Radha is more intimately connected with the star known by the name Vishaka. As the moon is more beautiful on the full moon night of spring, similarly the attraction of Krishna is fully displayed in the matter exchanging Rasa.


Read more…

Srila Prabhupada On Education By Example


By Indira-sakhi Devi Dasi

Srila Prabhupada stressed that character development was an inseparable part of education. He explained that the teachers themselves should be exemplary role models to successfully impart Vedic knowledge to the students.

You are right when you say that setting a good example for the boys is the best precept. There is a saying that an example is better than a precept. Our exemplary character depends on strictly following the four principles, and this will conquer the whole world. Our boys and girls in London, by their exemplary character, have drawn the attention of many respectable persons and even some public papers. Our movement is not only for some theoretical teaching, but it is for developing practical character and definite understanding. (Letter to Aniruddha, Los Angeles, February 4, 1969)

One thing, if Aniruddha is shaky in his Krishna Consciousness, how he can teach the children? Unless one is firmly convinced about Krishna Consciousness, I don’t think the children will learn properly from such a person. (Letter to Satsvarupa, Calcutta, February 16, 1972)

He wanted that the children in the movement along with learning academic subjects, should be trained in all aspects of Krsna consciousness. He stressed that this can only be accomplished if the parents and teachers are sincere devotees, following all the rules and regulations and behaving in an impeccable manner, for “children’s nature is to imitate”. (Lecture on SB 2.3.15, Los Angeles, June 1, 1972)

Simply follow the program of the elders, let the children associate as much as possible with the routine KC program, and when the others go out for working and business matters, the children can be given classes as you describe. They can learn our method of Krishna Consciousness by rising early, cleansing, plus knowledge of Sanskrit, English, a little Mathematics, history, geography, that’s all. We haven’t got to take any help from the government by getting so-called accreditation. If outsiders want to send their children to us, it will not be for their accreditation, but because they will get the best education for relieving them of all anxieties of material life and for this education the government has no idea.

Where is such thing as transmigration of the soul being taught in classroom? If they simply learn to rise early, cleanse, all hygienic principles, their study will be greater than any government program. Whatever the elder members are doing, the children should do if possible. But for teaching, the teachers themselves should be fixed up initiated devotees, otherwise how the children can get the right information and example? (Letter to Aniruddha, Calcutta, March 7, 1972)

Srila Prabhupada condemned the modern education system in which teachers are appointed on the basis of their academic qualification alone.

For learning Vedic knowledge, one must approach a person who is cent percent engaged in devotional service. He must not do things which are forbidden in the śāstras. A person cannot be a teacher if he drinks or smokes. In the modern system of education the teacher’s academic qualification is taken into consideration without evaluation of his moral life. Therefore, the result of education is misuse of high intelligence in so many ways. (SB 1.9.26, Translation and Purport)

Not that “Professor such-and-such,” and eating meat. This is the degradation of society. He is doing the work of a brāhmaṇa—teacher means brāhmaṇa—and eating meat – Oh, horrible! (Room Conversation with Devotees, New Orleans, August 1, 1975)

The principle of teaching by example is central to the philosophy of Krsna consciousness. Srila Prabhupada expected not just teachers at school to adhere to it to educate the children, but also all preachers to follow it to be effective in conveying Vedic truths to people in general. He asserted that this would benefit both the preacher and the congregation.

So you are one of the chief men of this Institution, kindly maintain your behavior to the standard so that others will follow and the whole thing may go on nicely. It was said about Lord Caitanya: Āpani ācari prabhu jīvere śikhāya, that is, He personally used to practice Himself the injunctions and then He used to teach others. That is our principle: Unless one is perfectly behaved person, he cannot teach others.(Letter to Hayagriva, Madras, February 13, 1972)

If you are not ideal, then it will be useless to open center. You behave nicely, they will come, they will see, and they will learn. If you go to some school and the professors are rascals, then what you will learn? It is both, reciprocal. You shall act as professor, teachers. Your life should be ideal, and they will come and see, and they will learn. (Srimad-bhagavatam Lecture, Melbourne, May 19, 1975) 6

This is an article from the recent ISKCON Ministry of Education’s quarterly journal, Viplavah. To read it:

Read more…


Here is a recent video of him trying to encourage the distribution of Srila Prabhupada’s books with a Tulabhara.
Tula means scale and bhara means weight. Traditionally, someone sits on one side of the scale and on the other side rice with shell, coconut, banana, different fruits will be stacked, until it is equal to the weight of the person. Then this bhoga is offered to the Lord. Here it seems that the weight of His Holiness in books will be distributed to lucky souls!!!



Read more…


The five Pandava princes were heirs to the throne of the world. Duryodhana, their envious cousin, was always scheming how to get rid of them so that he could claim the crown for himself. Killing the Pandavas though, was not so easy, for Lord Krishna was their special friend. And everyone knew that Krishna’s powers were unlimited.

However, by cheating at a gambling match, Duryodhan managed to banish his cousins to the forest for thirteen years. They took with them Draupadi, the devoted and beautiful wife of all five brothers.

To assist the Pandavas during their exile, the Sun God gave Draupadi a special pot as a gift. With it she could always feed her own family as well as an unlimited number of guests. The only rule was that after Draupadi had eaten for that day, the magical pot would produce no more food until the next day. So, even though they were living in the forest, the Pandavas were never hungry.

Duryodhana and his brothers often spied on the Pandavas during their exile in the forest. One day, while camping nearby, Duryodhan was visited by a famous mystic yogi, Durvasa. Durvasa was very quick-tempered. If he ever became angry he would put dreadful curses on people. And if he were pleased, he was quick to offer benedictions as well.

On this particular visit, Durvasa was not alone. He had come with ten thousand disciples. Duryodhana was crafty as well as evil-hearted. So he was exceedingly careful to welcome the great saint with the utmost care and attention. He personally made sure that whenever Durvasa said he was hungry, even in the middle of the night, food was brought to him.

The yogi was obviously pleased with Duryodhan’s service, and after a few days he said, “Ask me for a benediction. I’ll give you whatever you desire.” Duryodhana was elated. This was just what he had hoped would happen. But he didn’t want to let the yogi know that his desire was for something very wicked, so very innocently he said, “You are very kind. The only thing I would like is for my beloved cousins, the Pandavas, to have the pleasure of your company. By good fortune they are staying not far from here. I simply desire that you visit them.”

Durvasa agreed to this simple request. Duryodhana watched as the sage and his ten thousand disciples departed. He chuckled to himself, thinking, “The Pandavas have taken lunch already. Now they’ll never be able to feed Durvasa and all his disciples. I can’t imagine what kind of terrible curse he will cast upon them.”

The eldest Pandava, Yudhishthira, along with his brothers, greeted Durvasa and his men when they reached the camp. It was a shock for the princes to see so many guests. As the entourage walked into the camp, Yudhisthira turned to Draupadi and whispered, “Quick! Get your magic pot so we can offer them something to eat.” “But I have already eaten”, she confessed. “The pot is now empty until tomorrow.”

After exchanging a few polite words with the sage, Yudhisthira requested, “My dear Durvasa, you’ve been walking for so long in the forest. Please go and bathe. When you return, your meal will be waiting for you.” Durvasa and his disciples happily made their way to the river. The Pandavas, meanwhile, were in panic. They knew of Durvasa’s reputation, of how he was so easily upset, and of the power of his curse. Draupadi was in tears. In that condition, she did the only thing she knew could possibly help. From the depths of her heart she called on Lord Krishna. “O Master of the universe, O Lord of the gods, please protect us. Without You we are lost.”

Miraculously, as if from nowhere, Krishna appeared before her. He listened as Draupadi explained the whole situation, but He did not offer a solution. Instead He said, “I am hungry, Draupadi. Would you please bring Me some food?” Bewildered, Draupadi replied, “But I’ve already told You, the pot the Sun God gave me is empty. It won’t yield any more food today. Now I have two problems: I cannot feed You, nor can I feed Durvasa and his men.” Krishna merely smiled. “Don’t worry. Just bring Me the pot.” Still puzzled, Draupadi fetched the pot and Krishna inspected it closely. “Oh, this looks delicious,” Krishna said, having discovered a morsel of vegetable

stuck on the rim. Taking it between His fingers He popped it in His mouth. Then he requested Bheema, the strongest of the Pandava princes to call Durvasa and his men from the river. “Tell them their meal is ready.”

As Bheema approached the riverside he saw Durvasa and the other sages standing waist-deep in the water. They were all doing a very curious thing: they were rubbing their bellies as if they were filled with food. Bheema then heard Durvasa say, “Oh no! Look! Here comes Bheema carrying a club. If we insult him by refusing to eat what Draupadi has prepared, he will be furious. But how can we eat? We’re all feeling completely satisfied. I can’t eat anything, no matter how delicious it is.”

Bheema could hardly believe his eyes and ears. Durvasa’s ten thousand disciples were all saying, “Me too! I can’t even think about eating now.” Then, as Bheema got closer, they all ran into the forest, still wet from their bath, and only half-dressed. Bheema laughed and ran back to tell the other Pandava princes. Much to their relief, the guests never returned.

Draupadi said, “I realize what has happened. If you water the roots of a tree then its other parts – the twigs, leaves, branches, and flowers – are all benefitted. Krishna is like the root of a tree. So when Krishna is satisfied, everyone is satisfied, including Durvasa and his thousands of followers.”

Through Draupadi’s devotion and the kindness of Lord Krishna, the Pandavas were saved from Duryodhana’s evil plans.


Read more…


As I drive up to the Alachua Temple, I take in the beautiful grounds with newly planted trees, fresh flowers, and a well-maintained temple. I enter the Temple, pay my obeisances, gaze at the beautiful forms of our Lords, praying that They bless me and my family throughout the day with Their remembrance. They’re so merciful, exquisitely dressed, and the devotees marvel and discuss Their beauty when the curtains open for Guru Puja. I appreciate the fact that guests are well-received and cultivated nicely. I take darshan of the Deities. I wish I could help with the Sunday feast, but unfortunately, I’m short on time. It’s a little frustrating as there are so many activities at the Temple, and I’d love to participate in every one of them; but that, of course, is impossible.

That’s where tithing comes in. By making a regular donation, I can feel a part of everything that is going on, helping to maintain a strong financial base. In practically every religious tradition, tithing plays an important part. There are many quotes from different scriptures extolling the virtues of tithing, and the rewards that the tither receives. One quote I came upon says, “If beings knew the results of giving and sharing, they would never eat without having given, nor would the stain of selfishness overcome their minds.” Many people tithe because they know the benefits they will reap as they receive blessings for maintaining the Deities, feeding the devotees and guests, helping to maintain the Temple, supporting book distribution, and so many other valuable services.

So, in a nutshell, tithing helps the Temple, and it helps me. I feel connected, and my service expands as I feel part of the activities. I am enthusiastic about the planned Temple expansion and hope that Krishna will give me the opportunity to increase my tithing!


Read more…

Anticipating Places by Bhaktimarga Swami

The flight to Port of Spain was early, and  got me landed in plenty of time for some fun happenings within the range of devotional yoga.  I’m looking forward to the next ten days which will include a quick trip to Tobago.  We have been contemplating for years on doing a visit to this touristy island.  Also, on the list, is my second journey to Suriname where everyone speaks Dutch.
Google tells me that the first permanent settlement of Europeans in Suriname was established by a group of British planters and their slaves in 1651.  In 1667, Suriname was seized by a Dutch fleet, and that year it was ceded to the Netherlands in exchange for New Amsterdam, now New York City.
When I visited Suriname, about five years ago, I was astounded not just to find mostly Hindustani persons (East Indians), but that the Dutch language prevails.  It is expressed from their tongues, and that’s the language of my ancestry.  It makes me feel kind of at home.  While winter bleakness will dominate the Canadian homefront, I’ll be soaking in some sun and rain.  

Which reminds me, just before I left for this trip my friend, Gaura, and I chatted, and brought up the subject of my favourite pop artist, voice-wise.  It goes to James Taylor, and his song, “Fire and Rain” with such poignant lyrics as: “Been walking my mind to an easy time my back turned towards the sun/ Lord knows when the cold wind blows it’ll turn your head around."

I anticipate a good time with walks, chants and various services.
Read more…

Chanting with Feelings by Niranjana Swami

Excerpt from the lecture by HH Nirañjana Swami

Baltics Winter Festival, January 17, 2014

The following is a partially-edited transcription of an excerpt of a lecture given on January 17, 2014, at the Baltics Winter Festival – Chanting with Feeling

Today I wanted to read and speak from a few quotes about the Holy Name. Some of them I have read recently and found a lot of significance to them, not only to myself but those with whom I shared them. A lot of times the devotees struggle to make their chanting relevant. The previous speaker, Dhīra-śānta Prabhu was using the word ‘mechanical’, and he was explaining how to avoid being mechanical.

The quotes I am going to present today are from Śrīla Bhaktisiddhānta Sarasvatī Ṭhākura, and he is quite incisive in his presentation. The one thing I’ve really noticed when reading a lot of these references given by Śrīla Bhaktisiddhānta is that he is cutting and very clear. When I use the word ‘cutting’, I mean he really makes it very clear what is bhakti, and what is not bhakti. Sometimes he presents it in a way ‘what is useful’ and ‘what is useless’. Sometimes, if we are not careful in our own discrimination, we may not be able to see something as useless, the way he sees it. We may gravitate towards a certain understanding about bhakti, which may be compromised. And it’s compromised because we can’t fully surrender, and when we hear about full surrender, it’s disappointing because of our own limitations. Or, it may not be disappointing, but it may also be fearful.

As Dhīra-śānta Prabhu was saying before, “Kṛṣṇa is Hari – One who takes away.” When we hear that, sometimes we think, “Why should I let Kṛṣṇa take these things away?” And we become a little fearful about what could possibly happen if we chant too sincerely. We have this sense that if I chant too sincerely, Kṛṣṇa may take something away – and I am not ready for that! But although Kṛṣṇa is Hari (One who takes away), when one cultivates firm faith in Kṛṣṇa and in His Name, one finds that Kṛṣṇa not only takes away our obstacles but He also takes away our fear!

And that’s encouraging. When that begins to happen, then a devotee actually experiences progressive advancement in his faith. That’s why Kṛṣṇa very clearly states in the 18th chapter of Bhagavad-gītā‘surrender and don’t fear’. He says, mā śucaḥ for a verygood reason. [Bhagavad-gītā 18.66] Generally we think, “Surrender is going to bring us a fearful state”, and that’s why Kṛṣṇa says, “Don’t fear. Don’t worry”.

We were recently reading a verse from the 4th Canto of the Bhāgavatam, where the Lord is addressed as Hari-īśvara. Śrīla Prabhupāda was breaking down these 2 words to hari and īśvara, with īśvara meaning ‘controller’. He says, “Because the Supreme Lord is the supreme controller, He can give full protection. He can also eradicate all the obstacles on the path of devotional service.” He also says, “Hari means ‘the Lord who takes away’.”

So, Kṛṣṇa not only takes away obstacles on the path of devotional service, which are generally our attachments, but He takes away our fear of losing them. And when a devotee experiences that freedom from fear, it’s liberating. When that happens, the devotee actually feels encouragement and gratitude towards the Lord.

Sometimes Kṛṣṇa puts His devotee in a very difficult situation, and the devotee begins to ask, “What did I do to deserve this?” But as we know, the Lord minimizes the suffering of His devotee. Sometimes the devotees have a false understanding, or false conception, to think, “If I am surrendered to Kṛṣṇa means I shouldn’t have to suffer.” And then they become doubtful, “Is Kṛṣṇa really protecting me? Why is Kṛṣṇa doing this to me? I am suffering! I surrendered so much to Kṛṣṇa – why should I have to suffer?”

But, the Lord minimizes the suffering. And minimization of the suffering means that we deserve a lot more than what we got. But minimization also means that whatever suffering the devotee has to experience now, presently, is actually burning up his previous reactions to sinful life, so that his future is bright – and in that way also Kṛṣṇa is minimizing the suffering of a devotee. That’s why Kṛṣṇa says mā śucaḥ… “Don’t fear! Your future is bright! Why are you fearful?”

When a devotee has firm faith in Kṛṣṇa’s words, he understands, “Kṛṣṇa is so kind that He is giving me just a small token in comparison to what I deserve. I have the faith that whatever Kṛṣṇa does is always for my benefit. And my fear goes away!” Mā śucaḥ… “Do not fear! I will relieve you from these sinful reactions.” But it doesn’t necessarily mean that the reactions are gone now. They are minimized by the grace of the Lord. The future is bright!

Therefore, as Bhāgavatam states, the devotee always goes on glorifying Kṛṣṇa, and he goes on serving Him with his body, mind and words. And then certainly, mukti-pade sa dāya-bhāk [Śrīmad-Bhāgavatam 10.14.8], he becomes a bona fide candidate for liberation.

So when Kṛṣṇa says in Bhagavad-gītā 18.66, “Surrender unto Me, and I will deliver you from sinful reactions”, the components of that surrender, as explained by Śrīla Viśvanātha Cakravartī Ṭhākura, are given in the previous verse.

man-manā bhava mad-bhakto
mad-yājī māṁ namaskuru
mām evaiṣyasi satyaṁ te
pratijāne priyo ’si me

“Always think of Me, become My devotee, worship Me and offer your homage unto Me. Thus you will come to Me without fail. I promise you this because you are My very dear friend.”[Bhagavad-gītā 18.65]

That is our surrender. “Just Remember Me. Worship Me. Offer your homages unto Me.” And what else does He say? “Your future is bright! Surely you will come to Me.” Therefore He says, “When you surrender in this way, and when you abandon all varieties of religion and just surrender your mind to Me, then you have no reason to fear – you will come to Me.”

And that is the activity of Lord Hari, when that fear is taken away by remembrance of the Lord. Lord Hari is the ‘One who takes away’, but He also takes away our fear because generally, it’s the fear which is the cause of so much anxiety. As Śrīla Prabhupāda explains, ‘fear’ means to not know what lays in the future. That’s why we fear. “If I do this, what’s going to happen? If I get on the plane, is it going to land?” Fear comes from the anticipation of the unknown. Not only that, but when we hear, according to the statements from śāstra, that every living entity has a stockpile of reactions, where some are prārabdha(manifest) and some are aprārabdha (not yet manifest), sometimes we become anxious. “When is that going to happen? When is that disruption to my life going to appear?” But Kṛṣṇa says, mā śucaḥ… “Don’t fear. Just surrender and remember Me. I’ll take care of you.”

Surrender can be a fearful state, but it also can be a very joyful state. Because when that fear goes away, one feels so relieved that Kṛṣṇa is there. “Kṛṣṇa is protecting me. Kṛṣṇa is giving me His assurance that my future is bright. And I can see how wonderful my future can be, if I simply remember Him. Because if I am remembering Him now, and I feel so joyful, just imagine what it will be if I go on and continue remembering Him.” So, the devotee loses his fear by remembrance of the Lord.

As we were saying before, Śrīla Bhaktisiddhānta Sarasvati Thakura can be very cutting. What he says can almost instill fear, because in some of his quotes that we are going to read, he really draws the line: what is bhakti, and what is useless. Sometimes we don’t like to hear that something that we thought was useful, all of a sudden is useless.

There is a verse in the 3rd Canto of the Bhāgavatam, spoken by Devahūti,

“Anyone whose work is not meant to elevate him to religious life, anyone whose religious ritualistic performances do not raise him to renunciation, and anyone situated in renunciation that does not lead him to devotional service to the Supreme Personality of Godhead, must be considered dead, although he is breathing.” [Śrīmad-Bhāgavatam 3.23.56]

And Prabhupāda says in the commentary, “If all of our activities do not lead to devotional service, they are useless.” Here Devahūti is saying, “Anyone whose work does not lead to the religious life…”, so we may think, “Well, religious life – that’s auspicious! Especially if our religious life brings us to the platform of renunciation! That’s so auspicious!” But then she says if your renunciation doesn’t lead you to bhakti, you are like a dead body, although you are breathing.

Bhakti is what gives life. It gives validity to religion and renunciation. But if our religion and renunciation don’t lead us to bhakti – it’s useless. Therefore, Śrīla Bhaktisiddhānta draws the line what is bhakti, and what is not bhakti. But before I read these though, I wanted to read something from Śrīla Prabhupāda, because Prabhupāda has also spoken on this topic, about feelingly praying.

He says, “Our chanting should be relevant.” He makes it very clear that if there is no feelings, it’s not so relevant. He talks about this in his commentary to the verse in Śrīmad-Bhāgavatam, where Queen Kuntī is praying,

edhamāna-madaḥ pumān
naivārhaty abhidhātuṁ vai
tvām akiñcana-gocaram

“My Lord, Your Lordship can easily be approached, but only by those who are materially exhausted. One who is on the path of [material] progress, trying to improve himself with respectable parentage, great opulence, high education and bodily beauty, cannot approach You with sincere feeling.”

(Partial Purport) “…It is said in the śāstras that by once uttering the holy name of the Lord, the sinner gets rid of a quantity of sins that he is unable to commit. Such is the power of uttering the holy name of the Lord. There is not the least exaggeration in this statement. Actually the Lord’s holy name has such powerful potency. But there is a quality to such utterances also. It depends on the quality of feeling. A helpless man can feelingly utter the holy name of the Lord, whereas a man who utters the same holy name in great material satisfaction cannot be so sincere. A materially puffed up person may utter the holy name of the Lord occasionally, but he is incapable of uttering the name in quality…” [Śrīmad-Bhāgavatam 1.8.26]

Prabhupāda goes on to explain how such chanting is inferior. Materially satisfied man may even occasionally chant the Holy Name – not just uttering the Holy Name once – but Prabhupāda says he can’t be so sincere. Sincere chanter is one who chants with quality, with feeling.

What is that feeling? We want to read a few of Śrīla Bhaktisiddhānta’s quotes about what that feeling is, and here is the first such quote, which is an answer to the question “Whose offering does Lord Kṛṣṇa accept?” Here Śrīla Bhaktisiddhānta draws the line! Pffffffshhhhh! [Guru Maharaja make sharp sound like drawing the line] Let me show you what that line is.

“ ‘O Kṛṣṇa! I do not want from You any happiness for myself. Whatever You want from me, I will obey without fail. Even if I have to suffer in doing Your will, that suffering will be my pleasure. You are the all-auspicious Lord, and as such, Your arrangements can never be inauspicious.’

“If a servant of Kṛṣṇa prays to Him with such faith and feelings, the Lord will certainly accept his offerings. Without these feelings and faith, the Lord will not accept that which is offered.”[“Amṛta Vāṇī: Nectar of Instructions of Immortality” by Śrīla Bhaktisiddhānta Saraswati]

In the first part Śrīla Bhaktisiddhānta is actually speaking this as if it’s a prayer. “O Kṛṣṇa! I do not want from You any happiness for me.” Are we ready to say that? “Kṛṣṇa I don’t want from You any happiness for me. Please, spare me of that. I don’t want it. Whatever You want from me, I will obey without fail! Even if I have to suffer in doing Your will, that suffering will be my pleasure.” In other words, Śrīla Bhaktisiddhānta is making it clear that a devotee only wants service. That’s all he asks for.

In the second part, Śrīla Bhaktisiddhānta draws the line. Pffffffshhhhh! If one doesn’t have these feelings, Kṛṣṇa doesn’t hear! Kṛṣṇa doesn’t listen!

Oftentimes we quote a verse from Prahlāda Mahārāja, where he’s speaking to his friends, classmates in the school, sons of the demons.

“My dear friends, O sons of the demons, you cannot please the Supreme Personality of Godhead by becoming perfect brāhmaṇas, demigods or great saints or by becoming perfectly good in etiquette or vast learning. None of these qualifications can awaken the pleasure of the Lord. Nor by charity, austerity, sacrifice, cleanliness or vows can one satisfy the Lord. The Lord is pleased only if one has unflinching, unalloyed devotion to Him. Without sincere devotional service, everything is simply a show.” [Śrīmad-Bhāgavatam 7.7.51-52]

Here is where Prahlāda Mahārāja draws the line. Who does Kṛṣṇa look at? Who gets Kṛṣṇa’s attention? Those who have unflinching faith in the Lord. Not by dint of their austerities, not by dint of their sacrifices, or their acceptance of vows. These things in themselves do not capture the Lord’s attention. That’s why Kṛṣṇa says,

“Whatever you do, whatever you eat, whatever you offer or give away, and whatever austerities you perform – do that, O son of Kuntī, as an offering to Me.” [Bhagavad-gītā 9.27]

Somebody may perform very severe austerities. Hiraṇyakaśipuwas very austere! Many people perform very severe austerities for other reasons, but Kṛṣṇa says, “Do it for Me!” So, Prahlāda Mahārāja is saying that if one doesn’t have this unflinching, unalloyed devotion to Kṛṣṇa, than whatever one does is simply a show! It’s meant to get somebody else’s attention. But Kṛṣṇa is not looking. His attention doesn’t go there. Kṛṣṇa’s attention only goes to those places where devotees have firm faith in Him.

That’s why it’s always recommended that we should associate with, and hear from, and faithfully serve those who have faith, because if we don’t have that unflinching, firm faith, how are we going to get Kṛṣṇa’s attention? We cannot be waiving our hands, “Hey Kṛṣṇa! Look at me! I am here!” No. It’s devotion which draws Kṛṣṇa’s attention.

Therefore Śrīla Bhaktisiddhānta is saying that if a servant of Kṛṣṇa prays to Him with this faith and these feelings, then Kṛṣṇa will certainly accept his offering. Without these feelings and faith, the Lord does not accept the offering.

Who does the Lord listen to? Those who are not asking for anything, except for His service. Because they have firm faith that service is everything. The opportunity to serve Kṛṣṇa is the safest place. “Kṛṣṇa is so kind that He accepts me. He takes notice and gives me service.” When the devotee sees that kind of recognition, his faith increases.

Sometimes devotees ask a question, “What can I do? They don’t give me any service!” But what are we thinking service is? We think, “Service is what I’ve selected for myself to do! And no one gives me any service (that I want)!”

But when the devotee is sincerely chanting – feelingly! – he thinks, “Please, my only shelter is service! I can’t live without an opportunity to serve You. That’s all I want!” Lord Caitanya is teaching us,

na dhanaṁ na janaṁ na sundarīṁ

kavitāṁ vā jagad-īśa kāmaye

mama janmani janmanīśvare

bhavatād bhaktir ahaitukī tvayi

“O Almighty Lord, I have no desire to accumulate wealth, nor to enjoy beautiful women. Nor do I want any number of followers. What I want only is the causeless mercy of Your devotional service in my life, birth after birth.”[Śikṣāṣṭaka, verse 4]

This should be the sincere prayer of a devotee praying to Kṛṣṇa, “Please, engage me in Your service.” Śrīla Bhaktisiddhānta says, that is a proper mood to chant the name of the Lord. Then one who feels deprived of service can chant with feelings. Then it can become very relevant. “I feel deprived of service. Kṛṣṇa please, give me service, because without service there is no meaning to my life.”

Just a few days ago, I was listening to a lecture where Śrīla Prabhupāda was saying, “Living entity who has no service to Kṛṣṇa, is like the finger that’s been cut off from the hand.” Has no purpose. It’s useless. Finger’s usefulness is only when it’s connected to the hand. Similarly, a devotee’s usefulness is when he is connected to Kṛṣṇa’s service.

In another lecture, given in 1973, Prabhupāda says, “Even if a devotee can’t serve to his full capacity, even if he wants to serve, Kṛṣṇa accepts that ‘wanting to serve” as a service! And his life becomes successful.” In another words even if there are obstacles to service, but if we want to serve, then Kṛṣṇa accepts that desire of ‘wanting to serve’ as service.

Prabhupāda is explaining in the Upadeśāmṛta that devotional service is a cultivation of desire: we simply have to cultivate the desire to serve Kṛṣṇa, and not our senses. And when we look at our own hearts and see our non-capacity for doing that, we should feel something. We should feel that we need help. That’s what Śrīla Bhaktisiddhānta is going to say in the next quote, which is an answer to the question “How should we call the Supreme Lord”.

“Sri Gaurasundara taught us that in order to chant the Lord’s holy names, we must become lower than the straw in the street. Unless we consider ourselves insignificant, we cannot call upon another for help. Only when we pray for another’s help do we consider ourselves helpless. In such a state of mind we think that without another’s help we will be unable to do anything. We will understand that it is impossible to do alone that which is meant to be done by five people. Sri Gaurasundara has instructed us to chant the Lord’s names. We get this information from our spiritual master. To chant the Lord’s names means to take His help. But while chanting, if we consider Him our servant or expect Him to do our work, then there is no question of our living in the conception, “I am lower than the straw in the street.” [“Amṛta Vāṇī: Nectar of Instructions of Immortality” by Śrīla Bhaktisiddhānta Saraswati]

How often do we think, “I got everything under control: I got my life together, I know exactly what I am doing.” But, we have to feel insignificant. Śrīla Bhaktisiddhānta Saraswati says, “Unless we consider ourselves insignificant, we cannot call upon another for help. Only when we pray for another’s help do we consider ourselves helpless.” Are we praying for help? If we are, what are we praying to help us with? “Kṛṣṇa help me with my wealth… Kṛṣṇa help me with my anxiety… Kṛṣṇa help me with my distress, with my suffering… Help me get a job…” So many things we can ask from Kṛṣṇa. But Śrīla Bhaktisiddhānta says, “No, we should not engage Kṛṣṇa in our service.”

Our prayer should be, “Kṛṣṇa, help me be Your servant! I need Your help, because when I look in my own heart and I see all the things my mind is filled up with, unless You help me, I will never be able to remember that I am Your servant.”

Uh-oh! What does that mean? Is Kṛṣṇa going to do something that can be a cause for fear again? Do we have enough courage to ask Kṛṣṇa like that? Again, mā śucaḥ… Don’t fear! If we simply sincerely pray, Kṛṣṇa will take away that fear! “Kṛṣṇa help me, I am helpless. I look in my heart, I see lust, greed, the desire for prestige. I see so many things which are dragging me away from Your service. Help me be Your servant and remove these obstacles which are preventing me from serving You. I cannot do that alone.”

Śrīla Bhaktisiddhānta says, “In such a state of mind we think that without another’s help we will be unable to do anything.” Then he goes on to speak about being lower than the straw on the street, and the proper mood of humility, which I will skip reading, because we are running out of the time. Bhaktisiddhānta ends this quote with saying.

“… We often think we are doing the Lord a favor by offering Him prayers; that we could have engaged in some other activity instead. Such a mentality is an example of a lack of tolerance. We need someone to protect us from such a mentality, someone to help us become lower than the straw in the street. We certainly need to take shelter of a person who will deliver us from sinful motives. Śrīla Narottama Ṭhākura says, “Lord Kṛṣṇa does not reject those who worship Him under the shelter of the spiritual master. Others who do not do this simply live and die uselessly.” [continued “Amṛta Vāṇī: Nectar of Instructions of Immortality” by Śrīla Bhaktisiddhānta Saraswati]

Thank you very much. Jay Śrīla Prabhupāda!

Read more…


From Back to Godhead

“From the viewpoint of eternity, a life span of five thousand years is the same as that of five years: both are a flash, both temporary.”

Two summers ago when the Reforestation Department of the Sequoia National Park in California gave away excess baby Sequoia trees, I got four and planted them on our nine-acre property in the foothills of the Sierra Nevada mountains. Sequoias don’t produce useful things like fruits or flowers. They simply live—for thousands of years. And they grow—hundreds of feet high.

Sometimes I’d sit next to my favorite of the four – foot-high trees, quietly chanting the names of God -Hare Krishna, Hare Krishna, Krishna Krishna, Hare Hare/ Hare Rama, Hare Rama, Rama Rama, Hare Hare. And I’d think how this sapling’s parent or grandparent was present when Lord Krishna was on earth five thousand years ago, and when Lord Caitanya was here five hundred years ago.

Over the next few months, as the baby tree took root, spread its graceful limbs, and grew, my thoughts shifted to where I would be as the tree reached its full height and girth. A few decades from now, when my body would become decrepit and useless, this tree would still be in its childhood. And when I, the soul, would leave this body to enter a new one—who knows what type of body or where?—my memory of this nine-acre plot, my house, my family, and my Sequoias would all be left behind. Yet this tree would be right there, growing silently century after century. And century after century I’d be passing from one body to another, from one universe to another, in body after body. Both types of embodiment—the tree’s and my imagined future ones—seemed futile. (At least the giant Sequoia, though, would be providing shelter for birds and animals. Who knows what I’d be doing?)

What attracted me to this tree over the hundreds of others that decorate our property? Its extraordinary ability to survive. I realized that although I hear and use the word eternal often, its actual import is alien to me; otherwise, why would I be impressed with a life span of a mere five thousand years? From the viewpoint of eternity, a life span of five thousand years is the same as that of five years: both are a flash, both temporary. Either way, the body disintegrates and the soul moves on.

Longevity attracts me because I’m an eternal spiritual being, an imperishable soul. In my natural state I don’t transmigrate. So, since I’m not meant to be helplessly, traumatically dragged from one body to another, I crave permanence in this life. But I don’t really want the permanence of a giant Sequoia. Although by comparison to mine, the length of its life is awe-inspiring, to stand in one place, immobile and incommunicative, would be awful. I’m not meant for that.

I’m meant to serve Krishna, without interruption and without motivation. By such devotional service I’ll rejoin Him eternally in His eternal home in a blissful, eternal, spiritual body.

Unfortunately, my present service to God is both interrupted and motivated. So I don’t qualify to regain an eternal body. I’m stuck with temporary ones unavoidably accompanied by birth and death.

My attitude reminds me of that of my two-year-old, who blithely answers “no” to the most reasonable requests: “Sit down and eat your dinner.” “No.” “Let’s put your shoes on.” “No.” And so forth. “No” to her is an easy answer that saves her the trouble of stopping whatever she’s doing to do something else—even something better.

Similarly, when Krishna says, “Give up sense gratification and follow Me,” I respond with her mentality: “No.” “Always think of Me.” “No.” And so forth.

Now if I could get out of the two-year-old stage and enter the stage of cooperation and surrender to the Lord, I could, conceivably, avoid having to take more material bodies after this one is finished. And even if I’m not completely successful, whatever advancement I make will stay with me as I transmigrate from body to body. If in some future body I continue to advance, I’ll be adding to the progress I’ve already made. So even if finishing up this temporary-body business in this lifetime is a long shot, it’s one that’s supremely worthwhile.

Srila Prabhupada explains, “One should be captivated by this information. He should desire to transfer himself to that eternal world and extricate himself from this false reflection of reality. For one who is too much attached to this material world, it is very difficult to cut that attachment, but if he takes to Krishna consciousness there is a chance of gradually becoming detached. One has to associate himself with devotees, those who are in Krishna consciousness. One should search out a society dedicated to Krishna consciousness and learn how to discharge devotional service. In this way he can cut off his attachment to the material world.” (Bhagavad-gita 15.6, purport)

Since the Sequoias are on our property, we can protect them from being cut. And the attachments and rebellions that have grown up in my mind I can cut down, especially by learning from the examples of my godbrothers and godsisters. By their inspiration, one day I may be qualified for a body that outlives even innumerable giant Sequoias.


Read more…