ISKCON Derire Tree's Posts (14339)


When His Divine Grace A.C. Bhaktivedanta Swami Prabhupada frst arrived in America in the midst ol the cultural turmoil of the sixties, he quickly captured the hearts and minds of the New York hippies and the San Francisco flower children with the chanting of the Hare Krsna mantra.
Within three years, he journeyed to London, and by 1971, Hare Krsna had been recorded on hit records by former Beatles John Lennon and George Harrison. By then the mantra had been heard by hundreds of millions of people, and the International Society for Krishna Consciousness, formed in New York in 1966, had spread to six continents. How could an elderly Indian swami in a strange, foreign land, with no money, no support, no friends, and no followers, achieve such phenomenal success? The story that follows includes eyewitness accounts and excerpts from Srila Prabhupada-lilamrta, the authorized biography of this extraordinary saint, written by one of his intimate disciples, His Holiness Satsvarupa dasa Goswami.

The arduous sea voyage from Calcutta to Boston was finally over. The lone passenger aboard the cargo ship Jaladuta, a seventy-year-old Indian holy man, had been given free passage by the owner of the Scindia Steamship Company. His Divine Grace A.C. Bhaktivedanta Swami Prabhupada arrived at Commonwealth Pier on September 17, 1965.

For thousands of years krsna-bhakti, love of Krsna, had been known only in India, but now, on the order of his spiritual master, Srila Prabhupada had come to awaken the natural, dormant Krsna consciousness of the American people.

On his arrival day onboard the Jaladuta, he wrote in his diary the following words:

Absorbed in material life, they [Americans] think themselves very happy and satisfied, and therefore they have no taste for the transcendental message of Vasudeva [Krsna]…. But I know that Your causeless mercy can make everything possible, because You are the most expert mystic … How will I make them understand this message of Krsna consciousness? … O Lord, I am simply praying for Your mercy so that I will be able to convince them about Your message…. I am seeking Your benediction … I have no devotion, nor do I have any knowledge, but I have strong faith in the holy name of Krsna….

In 1922, Sri1a Prabhupada’s spiritual master, His Divine Grace Bhaktisiddhanta Sarasvati Thakura, had requested him to spread the teachings of Lord Krsna, including the Hare Krsna mantra, to the West, and now, after a lifetime in preparation, Srila Prabhupada was ready to begin.

After landing in America with the Indian rupee equivalent of eight dollars, he spent his first year in the United States with a family in Butler, Pennsylvania; an Indian yoga teacher in Manhattan; and later, with the help of friends, rented a small room in upper Manhattan.

By the summer of 1966, he had found a larger location more suited to propagating the Hare Krsna maha-mantra and the ancient science of Krsna consciousness. That summer Prabhupada had met a young man named Harvey Cohen, who offered him an old artist-in-residence loft in lower Manhattan’s Bowery.

Here, a small group of young Bohemian types would join Srila Prabhupada every Monday, Wednesday, and Friday evening for chanting Hare Krsna and classes on the Bhagavad-gita. Although not yet incorporated or known by its present name, the International Society for Krishna Consciousness had been born.

Few of Srila Prabhupada’s guests, whose interests included music, drugs, macrobiotics, pacifism, and spiritual meditation, knew very much about what they were chanting or exactly why they were chanting it. They just enjoyed it and liked being in the presence of the man they affectionately called “Swamiji.” These musicians, artists, poets, and intellectuals, most of whom had chosen to live outside of mainstream society, felt that by chanting Hare Krsna they were taking part in something mystical and unique.

Srila Prabhupada led the solo chanting: Hare Krsna, Hare Krsna, Krsna Krsna, Hare Hare/ Hare Rama, Hare Rama, Rama Rama, Hare Hare. The melody was always the same-a simple four-note phrase, the first four notes of the major scale. Prabhupada led the kirtana with small three-inch-diameter hand cymbals he had brought with him from lndia. He would ring them in a one-two-three, one-two-three fashion Some of his followers clapped along with him, and some joined in with small fingercymbals of their own. Others sat in yoga postures, hands outstretched, chanting and meditating on this novel transcendental vibration. Guests would sometimes bring other instruments, including guitars, tambouras,An Indian stringed instrument.* flutes, tambourines, and a wide variety of drums.

After a few months some of Srila Prabhupada’s followers secured for him a better place to live and spread the chanting of the holy name. The new Second Avenue location on the hippie-filled Lower East Side included an apartment for Srila Prabhupada one floor up and a ground-floor storefront, which he would use as a temple. Within a few weeks, the small sixty-by-twenty-five-foot storefront was packed with young people three nights a week. Gradually the storefront took on the appearance of a temple as visitors began to bring tapestries and paintings for the walls, carpets for the floors, and amplification equipment for Srila Prabhupada’s lectures and kirtanas (congregational chanting).

Prabhupada’s kirtanas were lively and captivating, with numerous guests spontaneously rising to their feet, clapping and dancing. Srila Prabhupada, always conducting the kirtana in call-and-response fashion and playing a small African bongolike drum, would accelerate the chant faster and faster, until after about half an hour it would reach a climax and suddenly end. Chanting along with Srila Prabhupada in this small room on Second Avenue, guests found themselves transported into another dimension, a spiritual dimension, in which the anxieties and pressures of everyday life in New York City simply did not exist. Many soon caught on that chanting Hare Krsna was an intense and effective form of meditation, a direct means of communion with something greater than themselves, no matter what their conception of the Absolute.

Srila Prabhupada initiated his first disciples in September of ’66, at which time about a dozen students vowed to chant a minimum of sixteen rounds a day on their beads. This meant reciting the sixteen-word mantra 1,728 times a day, a meditation that would take them between one and a half to two hours to complete.

Prabhupada’s flock soon began to print and distribute invitations and leaflets such as this one:

Practice the transcendental sound vibration,
Hare Krishna, Hare Krishna, Krishna Krishna, Hare Hare
Hare Rama, Hare Rama, Rama Rama, Hare Hare.
This chanting will cleanse the dust from the
mirror of the mind.

Another invited America’s youth to

No More Coming Down

Practice Krishna Consciousness
Expand your consciousness by practicing the

In the mornings Srila Prabhupada would lead the devotees in one round of japa (chanting on beads). After chanting with Prabhupada, the devotees would chant their remaining sixteen rounds on their own.

The celebrated American poet Allen Ginsberg, accompanying the kirtana on his harmonium, had by now become a regular at the evening chanting sessions at the temple and in nearby Tompkins Square Park. In a 1980 interview published in Srila Prabhupada’s biography, he recalled his experiences.

Allen: I liked immediately the idea that Swami Bhaktivedanta had chosen the Lower East Side of New York for his practice…. I was astounded that he’d come with the chanting, because it seemed like a reinforcement from India. I had been running around singing Hare Krsna but had never understood exactly why or what it meant…. I thought it was great now that he was here to expound on the Hare Krsna mantra-that would sort of justify my singing. I knew what I was doing but I didn’t have any theological background to satisfy further inquiry, and here was someone who did. So I thought that was absolutely great…. If anyone wanted to know the technical intricacies and the ultimate history, I could send them to him…. he had a personal, selfless sweetness like total devotion. And that was what always conquered me … a kind of personal charm, coming from dedication … I always liked to be with him.

The chanting of Hare Krsna seemed to spread in an almost magical way, and as time went on, the number of people attracted to it increased geometrically. Even in this unlikely New York setting, the mantra seemed to have a life of its own. Whether it was the melody, the beat, the sound of the words, the look of the devotees, or Prabhupada’s humility or serenity, nearly everyone who then came in touch with the chanting of Hare Krsna responded favorably.

In December 1966, Srila Prabhupada would explain on his first record album, the LP that introduced two of the Beatles, John Lennon and George Harrison, to Hare Krsna, that “the chanting Hare Krsna, Hare Krsna, Krsna Krsna, Hare Hare/ Hare Rama, Hare Rama, Rama Rama, Hare Hare is not a material sound vibration, but comes directly from the spiritual world.”

Prabhupada’s Tompkins Square Park kirtanas were spiritual happenings that are now legendary. Hundreds of people from all walks of life took part; some as observers and some as eager participants, chanting, clapping their hands, dancing, and playing musical instruments. Irving Halpern, one of many local musicians who regularly participated, remembers the scene.

Irving: The park resounded. The musicians were very careful in listening to the mantras…. I have talked to a couple of musicians about it, and we agreed that in his head this Swami must have had hundreds and hundreds of melodies that had been brought back from the real learning from the other side of the world. So many people came there just to tune in to the musical gift, the transmission of the dharma. “Hey,” they would say, “listen to this holy monk.” People were really sure there were going to be unusual feats, grandstanding, flashy levitations, or whatever people expected was going to happen. But when the simplicity of what the Swami was really saying, when you began to sense it-whether you were motivated to actually make a lifetime commitment and go this way of life, or whether you merely wanted to place it in a place and give certain due respect to it-it turned you around.

And that was interesting, too, the different ways in which people regarded the kirtana. Some people thought it was a prelude. Some people thought it was a main event. Some people liked the music. Some people liked the poetic sound of it.

After the kirtanas Srila Prabhupada usually spoke for a few minutes about Krsna consciousness, inviting everyone back to the temple for a Sunday afternoon “love festival” of chanting and feasting, a weekly event that soon became a tradition that continues today. The October 9 edition of the New York Times described the Tompkins Square Park kirtana with the following headline: “SWAMI’S FLOCK CHANTS IN PARK TO FIND ECSTASY.”

Sitting under a tree in a Lower East Side park and occasionally dancing, fifty followers of a Hindu swami repeated a sixteen-word chant for two hours yesterday afternoon to the accompaniment of cymbals, tambourines, sticks, drums, bells, and a small reed organ…. Repetition of the chant, Swami A.C. Bhaktivedanta says, is the best way to achieve self-realization in this age of destruction.
… many in the crowd of about a hundred persons standing around the chanters found themselves swaying to or clapping hands in time to the hypnotic rythmic music. “It brings a state of ecstasy,” said Allen Ginsberg the poet…. The ecstasy of the chant or mantra Hare Krishna, Hare Krishna, Krishna Krishna, Hare Hare/ Hare Rama, Hare Rama, Rama Rama, Hare Hare has replaced LSD and other drugs for many of the Swami’s followers.”

At the same time, New York’s avant-garde newspaper The East Village Other ran a front page story with a full-page photograph of Srila Prabhupada standing and speaking to a large group of people in the park. The banner headline read “SAVE EARTH NOW!!” and in large type just below the picture, the maha-mantra was printed: “HARE KRISHNA HARE KRISHNA KRISHNA KRISHNA HARE HARE HARE RAMA HARE RAMA RAMA RAMA HARE HARE.” The article admired the chanting and described how Srila Prabhupada “had succeeded in convincing the world’s toughest audience-Bohemians, acidheads, potheads, and hippies-that he knew the way to God.”

Turn Off, Sing Out, and Fall In. This new brand of holy man, with all due deference to Dr. Leary, has come forth with a brand of “Consciousness Expansion” that’s sweeter than acid, cheaper than pot, and nonbustible by fuzz.

The newspaper story described how a visit to the temple at 26 Second Avenue would bring “living, visible, tangible proof” that God is alive and well. The story quoted one of Srila Prabhupada’s new disciples:

I started chanting to myself, like the Swami said, when I was walking down the street-Hare Krishna, Hare Krishna, Krishna Krishna, Hare Hare/ Hare Rama, Hare Rama, Rama Rama, Hare Hare-over and over, and suddenly everything started looking so beautiful, the kids, the old men and women … even the creeps looked beautiful … to say nothing of the trees and flowers.

Finding it superior to the euphoria from any kind of drug, he said,

There’s no coming down from this. I can always do this any time, anywhere. It is always with you.

CABH 3.1: To San Francisco and Beyond

To San Francisco and Beyond

Early in 1967, several of Srila Prabhupada’s disciples left New York and opened a temple in the heart of San Francisco’s Haight-Ashbury district, home for thousands of hippies and “flower children” from all over the country. Within a short time, Srila Prabhupada’s temple there had become a spiritual haven for troubled, searching, and sometimes desperate young people. Drug overdoses were common, and hundreds of confused, dazed, and disenchanted young Americans roamed the streets.

Haridasa, the first president of the San Francisco temple, remembers what it was like.

Haridasa: The hippies needed all the help they could get, and they knew it. And the Radha-Krsna temple was certainly a kind of spiritual haven. Kids sensed it. They were running, living on the streets, no place where they could go, where they could rest, where people weren’t going to hurt them.

I think it saved a lot of lives; there might have been a lot more casualties if it hadn’t been for Hare Krsna. It was like opening a temple in a battlefield. It was the hardest place to do it, but it was the place where it was most needed. Although the Swami had no precedents for dealing with any of this, he applied the chanting with miraculous results. The chanting was wonderful. It worked.

Michael Bowen, an artist and one of the leading figures of the Haight-Ashbury scene, recalled that Srila Prabhupada had “an amazing ability to get people off drugs, especially speed, heroin, burnt-out LSD cases-all of that.

Every day at the temple devotees cooked and served to over two hundred young people a free, sumptuous multi-course lunch of vegetarian food offered to Krsna. Many local merchants helped to make this possible by donating to the cause. An early San Francisco devotee recalls those days.

Harsarani: People who were plain lost or needed comforting … sort of wandered or staggered into the temple. Some of them stayed and became devotees, and some just took prasadam [spiritual food] and left. Just from a medical standpoint, doctors didn’t know what to do with people on LSD. The police and the free clinics in the area couldn’t handle the overload of people taking LSD. The police saw Swamiji [Srila Prabhupada] as a certain refuge.

Throughout lunch, devotees played the New York recording of Srila Prabhupada chanting the Hare Krsna mantra. The sacred sound reinforced the spiritual mood of the temple and helped to ease the tensions and frustrations of its young guests.

Sunday, January 29, 1967 marked the major spiritual event of the San Francisco hippy era, and Srila Prabhupada, who was ready to go anywhere to spread Krsna consciousness, was there. The Grateful Dead, Moby Grape, Janis Joplin and Big Brother and the Holding Company, Jefferson Airplane, Quicksilver Messenger Service-all the new-wave San Francisco bands-had agreed to appear with Srila Prabhupada at the Avalon Ballroom’s Mantra-Rock Dance, proceeds from which would go to the local Hare Krsna temple.

Thousands of hippies, anticipating an exciting evening, packed the hall. LSD pioneer Timothy Leary dutifully paid the standard $2.50 admission fee and entered the ballroom, followed by Augustus Owsley Stanley II, known for his own brand of LSD.

At about 10:00 P.M., Srila Prabhupada and a small entourage of devotees arrived amid uproarious applause and cheering by a crowd that had waited weeks in great anticipation for this moment. Srila Prabhupada was given a seat of honor onstage and was introduced by Allen Ginsberg, who explained his own realizations about the Hare Krsna maha-mantra and how it had spread from the small storefront in New York to San Francisco. The well-known poet told the crowd that the chanting of the Hare Krsna mantra in the early morning at the Radha-Krsna temple was an important community service to those who were “coming down from LSD,” because the chanting would “stabilize their consciousness on reentry.”

The chanting started slowly but rythmically, and little by little it spread throughout the ballroom, enveloping everyone. Hippies got to their feet, held hands, and began to dance as enormous, pulsing pictures of Krsna were projected around the walls of the ballroom in perfect sync with the beat of the mantra. By the time Srila Prabhupada stood and began to dance with his arms raised, the crowd was completely absorbed in chanting, dancing, and playing small musical instruments they had brought for the occasion.

Ginsberg later recalled, “We sang Hare Krsna all evening. It was absolutely great-an open thing. It was the height of the Haight-Ashbury spiritual enthusiasm.”

As the tempo speeded up, the chanting and dancing became more and more intense, spurred on by a stageful of top rock musicians, who were as charmed by the magic of the maha-mantra as the amateur musicians had been at the Tompkins Square kirtanas only a few weeks before. The chant rose; it seemed to surge and swell without limit. When it seemed it could go no further, the chanting stopped. Srila Prabhupada offered prayers to his spiritual master into the microphone and ended-by saying three times, “All glories to the assembled devotees!” The Haight-Ashbury neighborhood buzzed with talk af the Mantra-Rock Dance for weeks afterward.

Within a few months of the Mantra-Rock event, devotees in San Francisco, New York, and Montreal began to take to the streets with their mrdangas (clay drums) and karatalas (hand cymbals) to chant the maha-mantra on a daily basis. In just a few years, temples were opening all over North America and Europe, and people everywhere were hearing the chanting of Hare Krsna.

On May 31, 1969, when the Vietnam war protest movement was reaching its climax, six devotees joined John Lennon and Yoko Ono in their Montreal hotel room to play instruments and sing on John and Yoko’s famous recording “Give Peace a Chance.” This song, which included the mantra, and a hit single, “The Hare Krishna Mantra,” produced in September of the same year by Beatle George Harrison and featuring the devotees, introduced millions to the chanting. Even Broadway’s long-running musical hit Hair included exuberant choruses of the Hare Krsna mantra.

At the now historic mass antiwar demonstration in Washington, D.C., on November 15, 1969, devotees from all over the United States and Canada chanted the Hare Krsna mantra throughout the day and distributed “The Peace Formula,” a small leaflet based on Srila Prabhupada’s teachings from the Vedic scriptures. “The Peace Formula,” which proposed a spiritual solution to the problem of war, was distributed en masse for many months and influenced thousands of lives.

By 1970, when George Harrison’s “My Sweet Lord”- with its beautiful recurring Iyrics of Hare Krsna and Hare Rama-was the international number-one hit song of the day, devotees in dhotis and saris, chanting the maha-mantra with musical instruments, were now a familiar sight in almost every major city throughout the world. Because of Srila Prabhupada’s deep love for Lord Krsna and his own spiritual master, his amazing determination, and his sincere compassion, “Hare Krsna” had become a household word.


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7956293265?profile=RESIZE_400xBy Pusta Krishna das

The Glorification of the Holy Names is the Great Benediction for all the World’s Theistic People

Lord Chaitanya is not merely a prophet or messenger. We accept that He is the Supreme Lord appearing to give His great benediction upon the human society. By observation, we can understand that those of the Christian religion, those of the Islamic faith, those of the Jewish faith, and other theistic religions are rarely likely to give up their passionate faith in God according to their traditions. Neither is it the mission of Lord Chaitanya to effect such a change. When our Godbrother, Atreya Rsi, was in Tehran in the 1970s, he wrote to Srila Prabhupad to inform him that he had gotten some of the Muslims to chant the Hare Krishna Mantra. Srila Prabhupad’s reply was very interesting and enlightening. He said, ‘why are you trying to make Lord Chaitanya’s Movement a sectarian thing. The Muslims have their name for God, Allah, so let them glorify God through the expression of their name for God.’
I want to add what a loving and kind-hearted person Atreya Rsi Prabhu was. Still, we can be more or less convinced that the deep faith in God expressed by followers of other theistic religions need not, and should not be challenged. Rather, the Holy Names are the unifying principle of purification and love of God.

For a book that I am writing, I wanted to understand more about Islam. While the expression of religion in the world does not always correlate with the teachings of a religion, Islam itself means surrender to the Will of God. Islam, Allah, promotes that God is Himself sufficient to take care of the material and spiritual needs of individuals. It promotes a direct relationship with God, no intermediaries necessary or desirable. Krishna also in the Bhagavad Gita promotes surrender unto Him only, abandoning all varieties of religion or duties. Christ also promotes that one should aspire to love God the Father with all one’s heart and soul and mind.

While the religious practices will differ from each other, all confirm that one can associate with the Lord through remembrance and glorification of the Holy Names of the Lord. The Supreme Lord is the Supreme Pure, and when we associate with His Holy Names, considered to be spiritually non-different from God Himself, then we can become purified by contact with Him, by His grace. Indeed, this is the mission of Lord Chaitanya for the people of the Kali-yuga, the age of quarrel. Thus, we must not think that we can save the world, but the Supreme Lord, through His Holy Names, can easily effect the individual and society for the best possible spiritual outcomes. If we give all credit to the Holy Names, to the Personality of Godhead, we may come closer to appreciating the wonder of Lord Chaitanya’s appearance and significance.


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One Path, Many Paths by Caitanya Caran das


When we start exploring life’s spiritual side, we may hesitate to commit ourselves to any particular spiritual path: “Won’t that make me close-minded and incapable of appreciating other paths?”

Possibly. But if we don’t commit ourselves to one path, we may never appreciate any path.

To understand, consider the metaphor of climbing a mountain. The top of the mountain is spiritual consciousness, wherein we relish the ultimate reality. The bottom of the mountain is material consciousness, wherein we pursue worldly objects as life’s greatest pleasures. Various time-honored spiritual traditions are different paths up this mountain. The Bhagavad-gita (04.11) indicates that all seekers are on the same journey to the one ultimate reality.

If we climb the mountain by any one path, we start perceiving things from a higher perspective. Then, if we interact with others who have also climbed the mountain, even if by other paths, we can better understand their perceptions – both those that concur with our perceptions, and those that differ.

Similarly, when we commit ourselves to one spiritual tradition, that committed practice raises our consciousness to a higher, non-material level. When we thus gain some spiritual experiences ourselves, we can better appreciate others’ spiritual experiences. Then, if we study different traditions, we can make greater sense of both the universality underlying all traditions and the specificities characterizing various traditions.

If, however, we don’t commit to any tradition, we are like trekkers who don’t climb the mountain. We can hardly see things from a higher perspective. And all traditions remain hypothetical.

Commitment to spiritual traditions that raise our consciousness doesn’t close our mind – it opens our mind to higher realities, as revealed in both our and other traditions.

Hence the paradoxical principle: to deeply appreciate various traditions, we need to first go deep into one tradition.

Think it over:

How is exploring life’s spiritual side like climbing a mountain?

How does hesitation to make spiritual commitments keep us deprived?

How can committing to one tradition help us better appreciate other traditions?


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Freedom through the Holy Name

7956262271?profile=RESIZE_584xBy His Divine Grace A.C. Bhaktivedanta Swami Prabhupada

God’s names are a divine gift that can lift us from the conditions of material life and return us to our original spiritual freedom.

Ladies and gentlemen, I thank you very much for kindly participating in this Krishna consciousness movement. This knowledge, bhagavata-dharma, was spoken by Bhagavan Himself, Lord Sri Krishna. Bhagavan is a Sanskrit word. Bhaga means fortune, and van means one who possesses. So bhagavan means the supreme fortunate. There are six principal opulences: beauty, wealth, strength, fame, knowledge, and renunciation. One who possesses these in full, without any rival, is called Bhagavan.

Bhagavata-dharma means the relationship between the devotees and the Lord. The Lord is Bhagavan and the devotee is bhagavata, or in relationship with Bhagavan. Everyone is related with the Supreme Personality of Godhead, just as a father and son are related. That relation cannot be broken at any stage, but sometimes it happens that the son, out of his own independence, goes out of his home and forgets the affectionate relationship with the father.

We living entities are part of God. When we want to live independently of God, the conditional stage of our existence begins. “Conditional stage” means we accept a material body, which is conditioned in so many ways. For example, the body undergoes six kinds of change: It is born at a certain date, it remains for some time, it grows, it gives some byproducts, it dwindles, and at last it vanishes.

Besides these six changes of the body, we face many tribulations. There are the threefold miseries: those pertaining to the body and mind, those offered by other living entities, and those caused by natural disturbances. And the whole thing is summarized into four principles, namely birth, death, old age, and disease. Together these make up our conditional life.

Our Original Consciousness

To get out of these conditions of life, we must revive our Krishna consciousness, or God consciousness. Krishna means the Supreme Lord. God consciousness, or Krishna consciousness, is our original consciousness. Just as it is natural to remember our father in this life, it is natural to remember our original father. But we forget the supreme father, Krishna, and we want to live independently to enjoy life according to our whims. That is so-called independence. But by such independence we are never happy, so for this illusory happiness we transmigrate from one body to another. Each type of body has a particular facility for happiness. We want to fly in the sky. But because we are human beings, we have no wings and cannot fly. But the birds, although they are lower animals, can easily fly. If you analyze you’ll see that every type of body has a particular facility that others don’t. But we want all facilities of life. That is our inclination.

For example, modern scientists are trying to go to other planets, but they’re conditioned, so they cannot go. There are millions and trillions of planets before us the sun, the moon, Venus, Mars. Sometimes we wish, “How can I go there.” But because we are conditioned and not independent, we cannot go.

Originally, because we are spirit soul, we were free to go anywhere. We have immense independence, but we are now conditioned by this body. Therefore the human form of life is an opportunity to get back our original independence. That is called Krishna consciousness. That is freedom.

Two Kinds of Material Body

We have our spiritual body within the material body. That is our real identification. Now we are covered by two kinds of material body. One is called the subtle body and the other is called the gross body. The subtle body is made of mind, intelligence, and false ego, and the gross body is made of earth, water, fire, air, and ether. Generally we can see the gross body; we cannot see the subtle body. I know that you have your mind. I know that you have intelligence. You know that I have a mind and intelligence. But I cannot see your mind, I cannot see your intelligence, I cannot see your determination, I cannot see your thoughts, feelings, and will. You see my gross body made of earth, water, air, and fire, and I can see your gross body. And when your gross body is changed and you are carried away by the subtle body, that is called death.

Death means we change the gross body. For example, you have your shirt and coat, and you may change the coat but keep the shirt. Similarly, we keep our subtle body and give up the gross body; that is called death. And by the laws of nature the subtle body carries us into the womb of another mother. Then we develop another gross body with materials supplied by the mother. And when the body is prepared, we come out of the womb to work again with our subtle and gross bodies.

Bhagavata-dharma means that we have to transcend both the gross and subtle bodies and come to the spiritual body. It is very scientific. And as soon as we come to our real, spiritual body, being freed from the gross and subtle bodies, then we actually feel happiness and independence. The process of Krishna consciousness is the highest benediction for human society because it is trying to bring the human being to the platform of the spiritual body transcending the gross and subtle material bodies. That is the highest perfection. Human life is meant for coming to that platform, the spiritual platform, transcending the gross and subtle material bodily concept of life.

Therefore this Krishna consciousness movement is very important. Those who have taken to it are very, very fortunate.

“I Am Wasting My Valuable Life”

I shall explain a song sung by Narottama Dasa Thakura, one of our predecessor acharyas, or teachers. His songs are accepted in our Vaishnava society as Vedic truth. He has written in simple Bengali language, but it contains the Vedic truth. He has written many songs. One of them begins hari hari biphale janama gonainu: “My dear Lord, I am simply wasting my valuable life.” Narottama Dasa is speaking for people in general. Although we have been born as human beings, we do not know how to use human life. We are just like animals. The animal eats; we simply make arrangements to eat unnaturally. That is our advancement. In the animal kingdom every animal has a particular type of food. A tiger eats flesh and blood, but if you give the tiger nice oranges or grapes, he’ll not touch them, because those are not his food. Similarly, a hog eats stool. If you give the hog nice halava, it will not touch it. You see? Every animal has a particular type of food. Similarly, we human beings have our type of food. What is that? Fruits, milk, grains, vegetables. Our teeth are made for such foods. If you take a fruit, you can easily cut it into pieces with your teeth. If you take a piece of flesh, it will be difficult to cut with these teeth. But a tiger has a particular type of teeth, and he can immediately cut flesh into pieces.

We are advancing in education, but we do not even study our teeth. We simply go to the dentist, that’s all. This is our advancement of civilization. The tiger never goes to the dentist. Its teeth are so strong that immediately it can tear raw meat into pieces. But it doesn’t require a dentist, because it doesn’t eat anything unnatural for it. We eat anything; therefore we require the help of a dentist.

The human being has a particular type of business. That business is to study and discuss the bhagavata life. That is our natural business. We should try to understand Bhagavan, God. The relationship between Bhagavan and the bhakta, or devotee, is called bhagavatadharma. The business of human life is very easy: Simply hear about Krishna. Krishna is Bhagavan, the Supreme Personality of Godhead, and we are part of Krishna.

Suppose I have forgotten my home. I left my home a long time ago and have forgotten my father. So if somebody reminds me, “Do you know such-and-such gentleman? He is your father. You were playing in such a way, your father was helping you . . .” In this way, if he simply talks of my father, I will remember my home. Similarly, we have forgotten our relationship with Krishna. If we simply hear about Him, then we will remember.

It is a simple process. We simply have to hear about Krishna. Krishna is situated in everyone’s heart, and we have forgotten Krishna, our supreme father, on account of material contamination. So hear about Krishna attentively. You haven’t got to do anything else. It doesn’t require that you become an M.A. or a Ph.D. No. God has given you two ears, and if you kindly submissively hear from the realized souls, then your life will be successful.

Deliverance by The Holy Name

I was explaining Narottama Dasa Thakura’s song. Let me finish it. He says:

hari hari! bifale janama gonainu
manusya-janama paiya,
radha-Krishna na bhajiya,
janiya Suniya bisa khainu

“My dear Lord, I received this valuable human form of life, but I have wasted it for nothing. This life is meant for understanding Radha and Krishna, but I did not do so. Therefore I have knowingly taken poison.” Sometimes a person takes poison to commit suicide. He knows that as soon as he’ll take the poison he’ll die. Similarly, one who is not taking to Krishna consciousness is drinking poison. This life is the opportunity to become Krishna conscious. And if you don’t use this opportunity, that means knowingly drinking poison.

Golokera prema-dhana harinama-sankirtana. Just as we receive radio sounds from different countries, from the spiritual world we receive the vibration of Hare Krishna, Hare Krishna, Krishna Krishna, Hare Hare/ Hare Rama, Hare Rama, Rama Rama, Hare Hare. Rati na jan milo kene tay: “I could not get my attachment to this transcendental vibration.” Samsara-bisanale, dibanisi hiya jwale, juraite na koinu upay: “I am suffering constantly with the poison of this materialistic way of life, and I did not try to get out of it by taking shelter of the Hare Krishna maha-mantra.”

Then Narottama Dasa says, brajendra-nandana yei, Saci-suta hoilo sei. “In this age, the same Supreme Personality of Godhead who appeared five thousand years ago as the son of Nanda Maharaja that Krishna has appeared in this age as the son of mother Saci.” Lord Caitanya’s mother’s name was Saci-devi. Balarama hoilo nitai: “The same Balarama who appeared as Krishna’s elder brother has appeared as Nityananda.” What is the business of Lord Caitanya and Nityananda Prabhu? Dina-hina jata chilo, hari-name uddharilo delivering the lowly, wretched souls with the holy name.

There are two kinds of people within the material world. One is committing sin and the other is suffering sinful reactions. Papi-tapi. That is our business. In this life, I am suffering the resultant action of my past impious activities and creating another set of impious activities so that I shall suffer next life. Hariname uddharilo: But everyone can be delivered simply by chanting Hare Krishna, Hare Krishna, Krishna Krishna, Hare Hare/ Hare Rama, Hare Rama, Rama Rama, Hare Hare. Thank you very much.


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7956228477?profile=RESIZE_584xOn July 4th, 2020, the world has lost one of its most inspiring spiritual leaders, Bhakti Charu Swami, to COVID-19. The shock and the loss made thousands of his followers numb, while others expressed their pain by posting their appreciations of their beloved master, or friend, on many different forums around the globe:

"The vacuum felt by Bhakti Charu Maharaja’s departure is immense. And that is how it should be. These feelings of separation are the proper testimony to Bhakti Charu Maharaja’s life—so exemplary, so well lived." (Bhadrinarayan Swami, San Diego, CA, USA)

"You touched so many hearts from coast to coast, just as you did in Europe, India, and everywhere." (Kalakantha Das, Gainesville, FL, USA)

"The sweetest person I have ever known." (Pragosh Das, Dublin, Ireland)

"Although we know intellectually from our philosophy that the 'soul is eternal and never dies,' we cannot deny the sadness we feel when a devotee departs." (Indradyumna Swami)

On Thursday September 17th, Bhakti Charu Swami’s 75th birthday, a team consisting of Bhakti Charu Swami's disciples, admirers as well as professional filmmakers, have launched a documentary film project with the purpose of celebrating Maharaja’s life and to present the impact he made in the world to a large global audience. 

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7956209499?profile=RESIZE_584xIn Jagannatha Puri, besides the deity of Lord Jagannatha, there is another famous deity which was the Gopinatha deity of Gadadhara known as Ṭoṭā-gopīnātha. We had just described in the Caitanya Caritamrta that Gadadhara had taken a vow of ksetra-sanyasi. The vow was to just stay in Jagannatha Puri and serve the deity, but Caitanya Mahaprabhu said, “How can you break your vow?” And Gadadhara said, “I am not interested in keeping that vow. I am interested in the association of the Lord.” But Lord Caitanya instructed him to stay. Anyway, the deity of Ṭoṭā-gopīnātha is a very large deity and Gadadhara in his old age found it very difficult to actually decorate the head of the deity. So one day, the deity just sat down overnight. When they opened the door, the deity was in a sitting position, in a crossed-legged position. So this is a very famous deity in our line. Gadadhara is very significant and very important to us.


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Decisions! by Vaisesika Dasa


The word, decide, means, “to come to a resolution in the mind as a result of consideration.”
Before leaving one’s present human body, a man or woman has the chance to make a fixed number of decisions. Because our time is limited, the number of decisions we get to make is also limited.
However, the decisions that we make now – before the process of aging debilitates us – directly determine our future body and facility.
Bhakti yogis keep their spiritual intelligence sharp by regularly hearing from the scriptures, the guru and advanced devotees. When the need to make an important judgment arises therefore, these wise practitioners are prepared to make beneficial decisions that situate them ever more soundly in their service to the Lord.
Srimad-bhagavatam 7.19.12:

After all the rsis and others had seated themselves comfortably, the King, [Maharaja Pariksit] humbly standing before them with folded hands, told them of his decision to fast until death.


Although the King had already decided to fast until death on the bank of the Ganges, he humbly expressed his decision to elicit the opinions of the great authorities present there. Any decision, however important, should be confirmed by some authority. That makes the matter perfect. This means that the monarchs who ruled the earth in those days were not irresponsible dictators. They scrupulously followed the authoritative decisions of the saints and sages in terms of Vedic injunction. Maharaja Pariksit, as a perfect king, followed the principles by consulting the authorities, even up to the last days of his life.


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7955891693?profile=RESIZE_584xBhaktivedanta Research Center is happy to announce a 3-day International Webinar on 'Spiritual Well-being and Stress Management': Religio-Psychological Perspectives in collaboration with Kolkata Society for Asian Studies.
Registration Link: Click here
Zoom meeting Link: Click here
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From Back to Godhead

What is the effect of chanting Hare Krishna?

The names of the Lord in the maha-mantra Hare, Krishna, and rama are invested with His full potencies. Singing God’s names, therefore, is to contact Him through the medium of transcendental sound. Thus, the effect of chanting is the same as the effect of directly associating with the Lord. The following beautiful verse, written by Lord caitanya, describes the seven effects the Hare Krishna mantra has on chanters.

prati-padam purnamrtasvadanam
sarvatma-snapanam param
vijayate sri-Krishna-sankirtanam

“Let there be all victory for the chanting of the holy name of Lord Krishna, which can cleanse the mirror of the heart and stop the miseries of the blazing fire of material existence. That chanting is the waxing moon that spreads the white lotus of good fortune for all living entities. It is the life and soul of all education. The chanting of the holy name of Krishna expands the blissful ocean of transcendental life. It gives a cooling effect to everyone and enables one to taste full nectar at every step.” (Sri Siksastaka 1)

Although many books have been written explaining the theological implications of this verse, the following is a simple summary of the seven effects of chanting Hare Krishna:

(1) The chanting of Krishna’s name is a purifying agent that cleanses our hearts of envy the root cause of our descent to this world and other bad qualities we have since acquired, like lust, greed, and anger.
(2) As it purifies the heart, Krishna’s name also protects sincere chanters from any further contamination from the worldly energy and those affected by it.
(3) chanting awakens pure devotion to Krishna, the soul’s dormant propensity to serve the Lord with love; and further chanting revives the loving devotion that qualifies one for the greatest good fortune Krishna’s association.
(4) A result of acquiring devotion is that devotees become illuminated with spiritual knowledge. Further chanting matures that knowledge into realization, which in time reveals the devotee’s original position in one of the five relationships with Krishna.
(5) To the degree that the heart is relieved of unwanted habits, we become devoted to Krishna; to the degree that devotion is firmly fixed in our heart, we acquire realized knowledge; to the degree that the heart is illumined by both devotion and knowledge, we taste spiritual happiness. In this way the ocean of bliss swells.
(6) chanting frees conditioned souls of the illusion of identifying themselves with their body and mind and establishes them in the cooling reality that they are eternal spiritual entities.
(7) When devotees finally achieve the perfection of chanting, they taste the full nectar of loving devotion to Krishna a nectar that makes the bliss of liberation seem insignificant.

The Spiritual Sound Vibration

When we chant Hare Krishna, we are meant to be in contact with Lord Krishna and His associates. That is the nature of spiritual sound, which is different from the kind of sound that is only heard. Hare Krishna written on a piece of paper is as much a sound as when you speak it. It is sabda-brahma, spiritual sound, and it is not limited to something communicable only from the mouth to the ear. The spiritual energy or potency manifests itself in sabdabrahma. And because it is spiritual, it doesn’t have the restrictions we have here in the material world.

Generally when we speak of sound, it means something we must hear with the ear. And certainly that is also the characteristic of spiritual sound, but it is not limited to that. material sound is something we generally relate to as being a transmission of information. but Hare Krishna is a transcendental sound vibration. If I say some other words, these are material sounds. The difference with the spiritual sound is that it does more than just communicate a message. It contains within it and is empowered with a spiritual potency, and that means it represents the spiritual realm or energies, either in part or whole.

Caitanya Mahaprabhu says, namnam akari bahudha nija sarva saktin: Krishna’s holy name has all spiritual potency. When you ask, “How are youn” how much potency is in that sentencen but when you say, “Hare Krishna,” then everything that exists within the spiritual world is present, compressed within that sound vibration. And that presence is there whether you see it on paper or hear it in your ear.

The spiritual world also exists in the reality of Srila Prabhupada’s purports. Srila Prabhupada uses the same words we use. He also asked, “How are youn” but because he’s speaking from the spiritual platform, his words are saturated with spiritual potency and therefore have more impact than just a mere question. Aside from posing the question, his words also purify the heart, free one from material contamination, are liberating, and bring about spiritual realizations.

When Srila Prabhupada asked, “How are you?” it was a lot more than just a question. It was not a mere enquiry about well-being. behind it was the intent of someone coming from the spiritual world to liberate us, to bring us closer to Krishna, and that in itself comes across. This is a complex and detailed subject.

Connecting with the Sound

In the Vedanta-sutra it is said that sabda liberates us. When we say Hare Krishna, all the potency of Godhead is there. It is like being in the presence of the Lord, like reading all the Vedas, like seeing the spiritual world, like hearing all of Krishna’s pastimes, like understanding the philosophy if you know how to connect with the sound. That is the challenge: connecting with the sabda. because with any kind of relationship there has to be more than transmission; there has to be reception. If the other person isn’t receiving, then the relationship is not working. If the receiver is no good, you don’t get the message. All our modern media communication is based on information coming from one side and being received on the other. If the receiver is faulty, the whole thing fails. When someone sends a kirtana to your computer, the file appears as a bunch of squiggles if you don’t have the right program to receive it. Similarly, the effects of spiritual sound will be impeded if we’re not tuned in.

The challenge of Krishna consciousness is to be proper recipients of spiritual sound. We have ears, and those are the general instruments, but those are not enough. because sabda-brahma is not just sound. Sabda-brahma works on the level of consciousness. It is not just a sound vibration, though we use that terminology. You have to have the proper consciousness to connect with that sound vibration. Purification of consciousness needs to come about so that there is no obstruction. When we can hear Hare Krishna without offense or interference, then, Srila Prabhupada says, we come directly in contact with God.

Sometimes people say, “Show me God.” This is how to see God: by hearing Hare Krishna. but you have to hear it in a certain way, because your consciousness perceives, not your ear. my tongue is speaking, and the sound is going through the microphone. but the microphone isn’t hearing anything, because it is not conscious. It is transmitting sound, but it is not hearing. Similarly, my ear is an instrument, but I am hearing. The soul is hearing. but if the soul is contaminated, it cannot pick up the message of Hare Krishna. It is interfering.

Purification of consciousness is necessary. How is it donen by chanting Hare Krishna. chanting and hearing purify the consciousness more and more until it is completely pure. Then one can recognize that there’s no difference between Krishna and His name. And then when one says Hare Krishna, the whole spiritual world unfolds, because nija sarva saktin all the potencies of Godhead are present within the sound vibration. nothing is held back. It is a wonderful experience.

We are practicing. We are trying to purify our consciousness to perfectly hear and chant the holy name of the Lord. Then what happens when we can do thatn We continue to chant, because there is nothing more pleasurable. Srila rupa Gosvami expresses the mentality of the perfect chanter: “I do not know how much nectar the two syllables ‘Krishna’ have produced. When the holy name of Krishna is chanted, it appears to dance within the mouth. We then desire many, many mouths. When that name enters the holes of the ears, we desire many millions of ears. And when the holy name dances in the courtyard of the heart, it conquers the activities of the mind, and therefore all the senses become inert.” (Vidagdhamadhava 1.15)

That is the experience of the transcendentalist. We are getting a taste in our conditioned state, and for transcendentalists the experience is millions of times greater. And the nature of the experience is that it makes you want to have more and more and more. We must keep these points in mind and appreciate the divine nature of the Hare Krishna mantra. despite the fact that we don’t have to pay for it, or that we can take it anywhere, or that it is not secret, none of these things diminish its sanctity. We should see what a wonderful thing Hare Krishna actually is.


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Prabhupada told us the story of the old Bengali lady, who while on her death bed, is being forced by her son to chant ‘Hare Krsna!’

The son says to his mother, ‘chant! chant! Hare Krsna bolo!’ but the mother is simply not chanting. The son then pushes her a little stronger and finally the lady says a full sentence, “I am dying, can’t you see? What more do you want me to say?” The lady says this whole sentence but still she could not say Hare Krsna! Why?

This is because the lady has not seen how chanting this mahamantra will bring her eternal happiness. The son continues to force his mother to chant, but if the son were to show her how this chanting will bring happiness, then she would be able to chant.

Therefore, somehow or other, we must be able to show people that there is happiness coming from the chanting of the mahamantra. And of course, this is easiest through kirtan because kirtan brings everybody happiness.


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7950920500?profile=RESIZE_584x2020 is bringing in new things for ISKCON North America (NA) Communications Department: new management, with the appointment of Madan Gopal Das as Director and Kumari Kunti Dasi as Administrative Director, as well as back-to-back events to boost the North America teams with a Training Workshop and Communications Conference in the fall of this year.  

The NA Directors of Communications work directly under the guidance of Anuttama Das, ISKCON GBC, and Global Communications Minister, with the aim of providing resources to the North America Communications teams in their respective yatras/Temples.  

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Sri Chitra Sakhi Appearance Day

7950918498?profile=RESIZE_584xToday is the divine appearance day of Chitra Sakhi. Chitra is the fourth of the varistha gopis. Her beautiful saffron complexion resembles the color of kumkuma, and her garments are the color of crystal. She is 26 days older than Srimati Radharani, being 14 years, 7 months and 14 days of age. Her father is Catura, the paternal uncle of Suryamitra. Her mother is Carcika-devi and her husband is Pithara. She is an adhika-mrdvinayika, and her home is in Chiksauli.
In gaura-lila she appears as Sri Govindananda. She and Sri Krsna are very affectionate toward each other, and she is very devoted to her seva of bringing cloves and garlands.She is especially expert in the lover’s quarrel between Radha and Krsna (the third of the six definitions of the word abhisarana). When Lord Madhava is full of bliss, she becomes satisfied.

Chitra-devi can read between the lines of books and letters written in many different languages, perceiving the hidden intentions of the author. She is a skilled gourmet and can understand the tastes of various foods made with honey, milk, and other ingredients simply by glancing at them. She can nicely make various kinds of nectarean beverages. (There are also eight other gopi maidservants, headed by Rasalika-devi, who are expert at making various nectarean beverages.)

Chitra-devi is expert in playing music on pots filled with varying degrees of water. She is learned in the literature describing astronomy and astrology, and she is well versed in the theoretical and practical activities of protecting domestic animals. She is especially expert at gardening. There are other gopis who mostly collect transcendental herbs and medicinal creepers from the forest and do not collect flowers or anything else. Chitra-devi is the leader of these gopis. The chief gopis in Sri Chitra’s yutha are Rasalika, Tilakini, Saurasen, Sugandhika, Vamani, Vamanayana, Nagari and Nagavallika.

At Mayapur, Chitra Sakhi is adorned nicely with flowers & garlands. Devotees offered Deep dan to Chitra Sakhi, praying for her mercy.

Sri Chitra Sakhi ki Jai!


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2515099102?profile=originalCandramauli Swami:

In the kirtana of the holy name, so much mercy is easily available, but we can miss it if we do not do two things: be eager for it and appreciate it.

Our consciousness is what makes this sangha (spiritual gathering).

We want to glorify Krishna in the form of the holy name.

I pray that I can never forget the value of the association of devotees, especially when we get together for kirtana.

We have our favorite kirtana leaders and our favorite melodies, but these our secondary to attentive chanting of the holy name.

Lokanath Swami:

We chant from the heart because our residence or base is in the heart.
Gopal Guru Goswami has given a commentary on the maha-mantra.
With the first Krishna, we call on Krishna to attract us.
Then we call on Radha to attract us by Her sweetness.
With the “Hare Hare” we beg to be engaged in service.
The last “Rama Rama” means “please let me be fixed in your name, form, qualities, and pastimes.”
The last “Hare Hare” means “please consider me as your own and deal with me as part of your pastimes.”

Sacinandana Swami:

What makes bhakti nectar or makes kirtana nectar is that we do it for Krishna.

Psychology Today says, “Twelve minutes of kirtana is as powerful as three hours of meditation.

One Indian magazine says, “As ginger purifies the body, kirtana purifies the mind.”

But the Vaishnavas do not think much of the selfish kinds of kirtana mentioned in these magazines.

The spiritual world is very attractive because of the kirtana.

Kirtana is an import from the spiritual world not an imitation.

When many cowherd boys offered their lap for Krishna to put His head on, Krishna expanded into as many cowherd boys as made such an offering to reciprocate with them.

Let us offer our kirtana for the pleasure of Srila Prabhupada and Krishna, and if Krishna wants, He may splash us with a few drops of the kirtana-rasa.

Several times Srila Prabhupada was asked how to best chant. Once, when questioned by Jayadvaita Swami, I believe, he replied, “Listen to yourself chant sincerely.”

Formerly yajnas (sacrifices) were performed to create auspiciousness for human society. Now such sacrifices give only partial results because chanting of the holy name is the only recommended sacrifice for this age.

Agnideva Prabhu:

The name of the Lord is very high, but He extends Himself to the lowest section. Thus we should feel gratitude.

In this age, we cannot do anything. We cannot do what was proscribed in previous ages.

In ISKCON we do deity worship, but ISKCON was started by Srila Prabhupada doing kirtana.

The chanting and the giving of the holy name to others is our only business.

Sri Caitanya Mahaprabhu is Krishna Himself, and He and His associates demonstrated the chanting.

Trinidad and Tobago is a small country, but we still have two temples, and harinama sankirtana is going on five or six days a week.

Kirtana is not a spectator sport. Participate in kirtana, and experience Krishna consciousness as Sri Caitanya Mahaprabhu desired.

Vaiyasaki Prabhu:

Although these are names of God in the Sanskrit language, the language is not important.

In Texas they interviewed people about making Spanish an official language in addition to English.
One lady said, ‘Certainly not.’
‘Why not?’ the interviewer asked.
The lady replied, “Jesus spoke English.”
‘How do you know?’ asked the interviewer.
‘I read my Bible in English every day,’ replied the lady.
That is a true story.

Mantra uses the mind while tantra uses the body.

The songs you hear on the radio are not the songs they sing in the spiritual world.

The mantras are gifts to us so we can go back to the spiritual world.

The material world is like a well that we have fallen into and cannot get out of. We can only get out if someone throws us a rope. The mantra is the rope. Through the connection with the mantra we are transferred back to the spiritual world.

In Bg. 5.29, Krishna says, “I have a sweet heart for every living entity.”

In pure vision we see every living being as a child of God.

When we are pure we can do the Lord’s will. His will is that everyone can be joyful and happy in life and to return to the spiritual world.

You do not have to believe what I say because you do not know me. I am sharing what I have experienced. If you experiment with the mantra, you can see for yourself.

If we are not joyful, we are not connected to the original source of all joy.

By chanting the mantra the darkness in the heart is extinguished, and we become enlightened. It is not immediate.

The arrangement of words in the mantra is like a poem. When we sing, we sing in poetry.

“Hare” refers to the personality of divine love who is feminine.

In Psalms it says lift up thy voice in song and glorify the Lord with drums and symbols.

As a white light appears blue or red when filtered, the divine love in our heart appears colored by lust, anger, greed, etc., so we cannot see it.

With divine love, we can mend our relationships with other people.

For the first year or so of life, you drink milk from your mother. And the rest your life, you drink cow’s milk, so in India the cow is seen as a second mother. Just as you would not kill your mother, in India, they do not consider killing the cow.

People may be nasty with us, but we do not have to descend to that level with them. We can be cordial and respectful with them.

I had a personal audience with my spiritual master in Vrindavan. He explained that the definition of a thief is someone who takes the property of someone else and uses it for his own benefit. He said, “If you receive knowledge from me, and only use it for your own benefit, you are like a thief. So wherever you go and with whomever you meet, share whatever you have received from me with others.” And so I have been trying to do that.

We invite everyone to dance. Those who are shy, you do not have to be shy, because everyone else will be dancing.


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Concerning Talks by Bhaktimarga Swami

7950904489?profile=RESIZE_584xA yogi friend of mine, Devananda, who I’ve known for forty-five plus years, came by. He spends half his time in India and half in China. It looks like he retreats to his native Toronto now and then. We always have a good chat. Today we covered everything from The Gita, bhakti, jnana, smarta brahmins, Covid-19, transgender, vaccines, Indian history, Islam, you name it. We spoke while eating prasadam, nice blessed food, in the environment of “Govinda’s” dining hall.

Devananda is cool, a Canadian, Jewish, and yes, a yogi; genuine in his practice. We’ll meet again, soon.

It was a stimulating Gita Zoom class from 5 to 6 pm, a regular, blissful undertaking every Thursday. A subsequent reading from the book Chaitanya Charitamrta is a regular daily happening, followed by our staircase kirtan. Oh! How passersby respond, especially when the drumming is good.

My final event for the day was a vigorous walk to the Deer Park area, by Davisville, to see some of our bhakti-yogi devotees that I haven’t seen for some time. Covid-19 has put them into hiding. I enjoyed the prasadam they fed me with, homemade bread and buns with veggie stuffing inside. The pool, with water fountains, was pleasant as the day came to a close. I sat there in concerning thoughts about our world -so much turmoil.

On the topic of transgender please check out Father Mike He speaks so well on the subject.


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The glory of the Lord’s holy name is confidential knowledge that must be passed on to others with care.

This article discusses the offense of telling faithless persons the glories of the holy name.

Among the many presents I received for my sixth birthday were several pairs of heavy red stockings. Like most children, I preferred toys to clothes-especially duplicate clothes. So I ran to my room and pouted. Like any good mother, mine told me to return to my guests, smile, and say, “Thank you,” regardless of how I felt about the gifts.

We commonly show what value we place on things by how we treat them. If I respect the gift or the giver, I place the object in a position of honour or give it to someone I care for. Giving what I have received to an unworthy person or throwing it carelessly into storage shows my lack of regard for it and may invoke the displeasure of the giver.

There’s an example of this in the scriptures. While the sage Durvasa was passing on the road, he saw Indra, chief celestial administrator, riding on the back of his elephant. Durvasa was pleased to offer Indra a garland from his own neck. But proud Indra took the garland and, without respect for Durvasa Muni, placed it on the trunk of his elephant. Being an animal, the elephant couldn’t understand the value of the garland and threw it between its legs and smashed it. Seeing this insulting behavior, Durvasa cursed Indra to become poor. (Srimad-bhagavatam 8.5 .15 – 16, Purport}

The fact that Indra was willing to part with a gift is laudatory. Giving in charity our possessions, whether earned or bestowed, is purifying even for saints. Indra’s problem was that he gave in charity to an animal. Krsna teaches in Bhagavad-gita that charity should be given to a worthy person , at an appropriate time and place, without expecting return. If charity is given to some one who will misuse it, or if it is given disrespectfully, the giver becomes involved with the illusion of ignorance instead of advancing either materially or spiritually.

The greatest treasure is the holy name of the Lord, Krsna. It is more precious than an alchemist ‘s touchstone, which turns iron to gold. Our having received the holy name shows the love of those who gave it to us as well as our determination to know and love the Supreme Lord. To know of the glory, power, and love of the maha-mantra-Hare Krsna, Hare Krsna, Krsna Krsna, Hare Hare/ Hare Rama, Hare Rama, Rama Rama, Hare Hare-is to know the essential intimate truth of all existence. Certainly when we have the fortune of the holy name we should also give it in charity.

Yet this treasure of Krsna’s name, which is identical to Krsna, exhibits its full pleasure and peace only to one who honours it. One of the prime ways to show this honour is to use discretion when revealing the details of the name’s glories. If we tell of the name’s grandeur and sweetness to someone who then becomes blasphemous, we are also responsible for offending the holy name, and our spiritual advancement is impeded.

Jesus said, “Do not give what is holy to the dogs; nor cast your pearls before swine, lest they trample them under their feet , and turn and tear you in pieces.” (Matthew 7:6) In a similar way, Krsna tells Arjuna, “This confidential knowledge [of surrender to Krsna with love] may never be explained to those who are not austere, or devoted, or engaged in devotional service, nor to one who is envious of Me.” (Bhagavad- gita 18.67)


Is the solution to keep spiritual knowledge to ourselves? No. For if out of fear of giving the holy name to swine- like envious people we refrain from sharing our spiritual wealth, we become envious as well. Srila Prabhupada told one of his disciples, an expert cook, that to avoid envy she should teach her skills to others. An envious person wants to either take away what others have or prevent them from having access to his own opulence. Instead, we should want others to become as spiritually wealthy and fortunate as we are, or more so. In addition , by giving the charity of Krsna consciousness to a worthy person , we evoke Krsna’s pleasure, thereby increasing our own happiness in chanting.

To share the holy name and the astonishing brilliance of Lord Krsna’s form, qualities, and activities with faithful, honest persons brings great joy and satisfaction. The reciprocation of wisdom and elation both between the people who exchange understanding and between them and Krsna is so thrilling as to be almost indescribable. Krsna says, “For one who explains the supreme secret to the devotees, pure devotional service is guaranteed, and at the end he will come back to Me. There is no servant in this world more dear to Me than he, nor will there ever be one more dear.” (Bhagavad-gita 18.68-69)

How to discern where and with whom to share the name? The Lord Himself in His incarnation as Caitanya Mahaprabhu would chant on the public streets with His devotees, leaving it up to the hearers to take advantage or not. But He was cautious about discussing intimate details of spiritual life with those who would be critical. Before we share more than the sound of the hoIy name with someone, we should try to find at least a spark of faith, for faith is the only real qualification for taking up the chanting of Krsna’s name.

For several years, a group of devotees of Krsna traveled around America with two sannyasis Visnujana Swami and Tamal Krsna Goswami. Visnujana Swami would sweetly sing the Hare Krsna mahamantra while devotees would give out free plates of prasadam. Tamal Krsna Goswami told his friend Ravindra Svarupa Dasa that he would walk up to those who were eating and listening and ask, “Do you like the food and the music?” If they showed some enthusiasm, he would introduce them to Prabhupada’s books or discuss philosophy with them. If they had little or no attraction to the chanting or the meal, he spent no further time with them.

In other words, the faith of people will show in their eagerness. Jesus speaks again of the Lord’s glory in terms of a pearl: “The kingdom of God is like a merchant in search of fine pearls; on finding one pearl of great value, he went and sold all that he had and bought it.” (Matth ew 13:45-46) Rupa Gosvami similarly explains, “Pure devotional service in Krsna consciousness can be attained only by paying one price-that is, intense greed to obtain it. If it is available somewhere, one must purchase it without delay.” (Padyavali 14)


But practising discretion in sharing the truth is more than a blanket categorization of two kinds of people- faithful and faithless. The reality is that there are few people with whom one can share either everything or nothing. The key to avoiding the offense of teaching the faithless, while at the same time benefitting ourselves and others, is to develop fine judgment regarding appropriateness. Lord Krsna gives four guidelines for spiritual communication: the message must be true, pleasing, backed by scriptural authority, and beneficial to both parties. For a specific message to be beneficial’ one needs to determine its appropriateness. For example, many truths of spiritual life seem bitter to someone with material attachments. Transcendent realization involves not only the wonderful and exciting revelation of Krsna’s name, form, and activities, but also the fact that in our separation from Krsna we are voluntarily in an illusion of selfish, greedy ugliness . To progress in understanding our eternal nature, we must face the unpleasant truth that trying to enjoy a temporary, miserable material body and mind is at best a great embarrassment for us, the soul.

Although an understanding of the awkward situation of a soul in the world is undoubtedly ultimately beneficial for everyone, there should be a type of contract before such instruction is given. Otherwise, if the intended recipient becomes angry there is no benefit , and there may be harm, for him or her as well as for the giver of the message, Therefore, Prabhupada says, “One should not speak in such a way as to agitate the minds of others. Of course, when a teacher speaks, he can speak the truth for the instruction of his students, but such a teacher should not speak to those who are not his students if he will agitate their minds.” In other words, however true our instruction, a person should formally or informally accept us in the role of teacher for it to have true benefit. Of course, being pleasing is also important. Our presentation should be civilized and polished.

The principle that our hearers must in some regard be our students before we can speak bitter truth or advanced topics holds true even when we share Krsna consciousness with faithful people. For example, readers of this article have agreed to hear something from me. When someone gives a public lecture, the audience takes at least the temporary position of students. The same is true when people take the initiative to ask for advice: they are to some extent approaching us as an authority, giving us the right to say something that will benefit them, even if sometimes unpleasant. Without such a contract, whether formal or understood, we’re not justified in communicating whatever we want in the name of truth. To do so on spiritual topics is to offend the name, and if done with a devotee of Krsna, may be an offense to the Lord’s servant as well.

In his book Harinama Cintamani, Bhaktivinoda Thakura especially explains the offense of teaching the holy name to the faithless in regard to those who act as gurus. Whether initiating disciples into the chanting, or having a formal relationship as an instructing spiritual master, there is sometimes a temptation to accept disciples for personal wealth or prestige. Such a problem occurs in ordinary schools. Universities sometimes admit students not solely because of their academic qualifications, but because they come from families that will give generously of their money, name, or both. It’s no secret that the most selective universities give preference to such “legacy students.” They openly say that favouring the legacy candidate saves other students’ tuition costs because of the donations received.

Perhaps such a policy makes financial and practical sense to a school of engineering or law, but it runs counter to Krsna’s desire and the whole mood of devotional service to Him. A guru can suffer if he considers a disciple’s qualification in terms other than faith.

Sometimes, of course, we imperfect beings may be deceived by the apparent sincerity of someone who shows interest in Krsna’s service. A merciful devotee of Krsna wants to give a chance to everyone, fanning even a small spark of curiosity into a blaze of loving devotion. If by accident we take as a student or disciple someone who later becomes blasphemous, we should publicly renounce that person so that both of us do not fall from the Lord’s shelter.

If we wish our chanting of Hare Krsna Hare Krsna Krsna Krsna Hare Hare/ Hare Rama Hare Rama Rama Rama Hare Hare to have the full effect, we must treat the holy name and all transcendent knowledge and practise with love and care. We honour the Absolute Truth through scrupulously giving the blasphemous little opportunity to find fault, teaching only what will benefit faithful persons who agree to hear from us, and finding great satisfaction and bliss always sharing the holy name with those eager to enter its mysteries.


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The Holy Name by Srila Bhaktivinoda Thakura


My heart is like a desert, hot with the rays of the sun. This is my internal mental condition. The desire for temporary, material things cannot satisfy me because by nature they are death producing. And not one or two, but thousands of such death-producing desires have taken shelter in my mind. So, my subconscious region is always burning. This is my condition. But somehow, by the grace of sadhu and my guru, the holy name of Krishna with its infinite prospect has entered through the holes of my ears and reached the plane of my heart. And there, with some peculiar hope, with infinite, auspicious possibilities, it touched my heart with a new kind of nectar.

New hope is aroused by that sound. Then by force it comes from the heart toward the tongue. Not by the endeavor of my tongue I am producing that sound. What came from the heart of a saint through my ear, entered my heart, and that forcibly appeared on my tongue, and began to dance.

That is the holy name proper. It descends from above. The material tongue cannot produce it. Its source is above. And through an agent of the absolute it comes through the ear to the heart. From the heart it gather some sympathy, then the holy name of Krishna forcibly appears upon the tongue and begins to dance. With great force that sweet sound comes to the tip of the tongue, and began to dance.

The real effects of the divine name have been described here. If it is a real living name the voice will be choked up. There will be shivering in the body, the legs will be unable to stand, and sometimes tears will flow in a current on the body. One’s hair will stand on end, and sometimes the body will change color. The material mind and consciousness will fade away, and we may fall in a swoon. The whole body and mind will appear as if it is being attacked, shivering, and influenced in many ways.

Apparently it may seem that so many troubles are created in the body and mind, but the real heart is overflowing with a particular kind of strange, sweet juice. Sometimes the devotee thinks, “I am swimming in an ocean of nectar. My whole existence is submerged in an ocean of nectarean rasa. I am beside myself and cannot understand where I am. What is this? What is surrounding me? Am I going mad? Where is my past experience, my seriousness, my gravity… where are they?

I have been completely converted by a foreign element. I am a doll in the hands of a great force, which is so affectionate to me. I cannot ascertain how it is possible that by my faith I have entered this great, unknown environment. And at last I find that I am captivated. My entire being, within and without, has been captured and controlled by an especially sweet force. It is beyond description. I came to take shelter of Him and accept Him as my guardian. But now at his hands, I am being dealt with in such a merciless and oppressive way.

Still, I feel everything is very pleasing beyond my experience. I cannot resist anymore. I am fully captured. So let my faith go anywhere because I cannot escape. I am captive in the hand of a sweet loving friend. All my independence is gone, and I have no other choice but surrender.

I find that He is an autocrat. He does whatever He wants. Since it is not possible for me to resist, I must surrender. No, I will cooperate and do whatever He wants. Meanwhile, I find that the holy name is like a blossoming flower emanating wonderful sweets streams. The holy name contains so many sweet variegated forms of current within Him. In different ways He is expressing Himself. Sometimes He shows a peculiar type of color and form, and then disappears.

So many charming aspects are revealed within, as He forces me to surrender at the base of that altar. He shows Himself in a full-fledged form as He leads to vrindavana to witness His vraja-lila with Radha. I find Myself in the midst of His uniquely sweet and loving abode. He says, “You see! I have so many wonderful things and this is your home. I am not imagination but concrete reality. You will find that this environment is very sweet and favorable, and you should live here.”

I see that He is exchanging a variety of loving rasas with His many devotees. And I find that a spiritual body has emerged from my previous one, and that I have a permanent place here in His service. Such a new life I find here that all considerations of my past life and experience has vanished. What He says is true; my real life is here, and my previous material life was a waste.”

Now I find that chanting the holy name gives me a new hope, a new prospect, and new encouragement. The name supplies whatever we want. All our internal hankerings will be fulfilled if we chant the name. The holy name is eternal, full of ecstasy, and it is the purest of the pure.

I find I have been completely converted, and now my innermost hankering is this: Let whatever is against this sweet name vanish forever from the world. Everyone should come here. I am ready to sacrifice my life to finish any opposition, so that everyone can easily, peacefully, and fearlessly enjoy this absolute, sweet and blissful life.

(From Sharanagati)


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Some people hold that, having been prophesied by scripture, by Lord Chaitanya and by the previous acharyas, if Srila Prabhupada had not spread Krishna Consciousness, some other devotee, or some group of devotees, would have been empowered to do so in Srila Prabhupada’s place.

In other words, the prophecy to spread Krishna Consciousness around the world relied on empowerment, rather than an empowered individual, for its fulfillment. It is similar to saying that if we were empowered like Hanuman, we could also jump to Lanka. But is empowerment all that is needed? Can anyone by empowerment do any prophesied task as well as anyone else?

The first empowered entity of the universe was Lord Brahma. Certainly here we cannot say that if he hadn’t created the universe, someone else would have – there wasn’t anyone else around. This is perhaps the most definitive case where an enormous task by any stretch of the imagination relied solely on one individual for its fulfillment. He was empowered by Lord Visnu in the activity of creation. So – could you or I do that? The answer is given in scripture, and the answer is, “no.” To be empowered like Lord Brahma, scripture tells us, one has to be so qualified that sometimes Lord Visnu cannot find a suitable candidate, and takes the role on Himself.

So empowerment is essential – but having a qualified candidate to handle the empowerment is also needed. Lord Brahma is so qualified that he is capable of acting almost to the same level as Lord Visnu in the matter of creation when empowered to do so. Similarly, Srila Prabhupada was so qualified he was empowered to save the world. Such a great soul, as Bhagavad Gita says, is very rare. If Lord Krishna Himself recognizes the greatness in such a devotee, even though He is the source of empowerment, how much more should we do so? Empowerment does not make us all equally capable just as education does not make us all equally intelligent. We are still individuals with our personal qualities. We have our insignificant qualities, greatly empowered devotees have theirs. It is not all one.

So my response to the original proposal that “someone else would have done it because it was prophesied” is that, yes, what Srila Prabhupada achieved was prophesied – but he was the qualified individual sent to fulfil that prophecy.

Perhaps because we walked around with him, talked with him, there is sometimes not enough distance between us and him to appreciate who he was, while it is easier to extol more distant personalities like Ramanujacharya or Srila Bhaktivinode Thakur. It is the North Korea syndrome where the populace worship Kim Jong-un- but it helps that they believe he does not defecate or urinate and also talks with dolphins. If we misunderstand Srila Prabhupada to be an ordinary man due to familiarity or envy, we will also consider another person could have done what he did, with empowerment.

Finally, we should mention that Srila Prabhupada was foretold at birth by an astrologer to open many temples, that Srila Bhaktivinode Thakur around that time said a great General would soon come from the spiritual world to spread the glories of Lord Chaitanya around the globe indicating the activities of one particular individual, and Srila Bhaktisiddhanta Saraswati said about Srila Prabhupada “One day he will do everything”. So next time you happen to hear someone say something along the lines that because it was prophesied, what Srila Prabhupada achieved could have been done by someone else, remember these prophecies also.

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7947955654?profile=RESIZE_584xDear ISKCON Leaders and Devotees,

Please accept my humble obeisances. All glories to Śrīla Prabhupāda.

“I am requesting all of my students to read my books very seriously every day without fail”

Letter to Bhargava – LA, 13-06-72

I submit to you, with immense gratitude, this short report on the recently concluded International Shravanam Week, 2020. The objective of the festival was to glorify the reading of Srila Prabhupada’s books every day. By all of your support, it exceeded all of our expectations many folds, in its very first year.

On behalf of ISKCON’s Ministry of Education, I would like to express a very big thank you to everyone of you, who celebrated and supported it in your respective ISKCON centers.

It would be impossible to mention the names of all the devotees who participated but I share a few highlights.


Srila Prabhupada’s books must have a unifying effect on ISKCON and this festival demonstrated that abundantly. Almost 25 senior leaders across various continents, including 10 plus GBC members, gave interviews on this topic. In unison, each said, how they owe their spiritual lives to Srila Prabhupada’s transcendental books.

The GBC Executive Committee, gave their valuable time for supporting this. HH Ramai Maharaja gave the inaugural address. HH Bhakti Caitanya Maharaja and HH Bhanu Maharaja gave interviews to inspire others to read. Other leaders, such as HH Jayapataka Maharaja very kindly continued to inspire to commit more to reading through their daily classes.

We hope that within 2020, we would have an opportunity to hear from each of the GBC members on this topic to inspire ISKCON members.


1) Methodology:

Several leaders appreciated the methodology of celebrating this festival. HG Radhey Shyam Prabhu felt that the approach the Ministry of Education adopted, is an excellent way to celebrate international festivals. i.e. identifying a few simple steps and disseminating the necessary resources to execute over internet to facilitate the celebration in small and big centers alike. Several devotees are already adopting it successfully for world wide festivals.

2) Content

Several gems of realizations were mined through the interviews. HG Visnumurti Prabhu from Vanipedia said “haribol Tapana Mishra prabhu. I just finished listening to your conversation with Praghosh prabhu. Absolutely brilliant. I am very happy that Praghosh and your good self addressed so much about Prabhupada’s letters and conversations and him being our preeminent siksa guru.”

The interactive webinar and interviews were viewed by thousands of devotees around the world. Close to 500 devotees have expressed interest in hearing more on this topic regularly. And 30 devotees have volunteered to assist in spreading the word. All of their accord inspired by what they heard from leaders.

I am grateful to Bhakta Russell (Australia) who worked round the clock with support from Bhakta Steve (Mayapur) and our small team to publish the content. We had the kind support of ISKCON Desire tree, GBC SPT team led by H.G. Gopal Bhatta Prabhu (ACBSP), for spreading the word.


• Auckland, New Zealand: ISKCON devotees held 5 reading groups through the week, with up to 30 members reading variety of Srila Prabhupada Books every day;

• Devarshi Prabhu in Mayapur, lead and inspired several French speaking devotees in few countries including francophone Africa to read the complete French Bhagavad Gita As It Is (with purports) within the 7 days period;

• Krishna Premarupa Prabhu (Zurich), conducted his own reading sessions and interviewed the leadership in Europe;

• A presentation was made on the project and well received by almost 100 senior leaders present in the ICC, ISKCON India meeting. Thank you Sumithra Krishna Prabhu (TP, Chennai).

• H.H. Lokanath Maharaja’s inspired one of his disciples who is reading with a group of 350 devotees every day.

• H.H. Kavicandra Maharaja shared “A group of matajis in Israel got enlivened and had a 12 hour reading marathon. Everyone of 18 participated. They posted the link and have have received 3000 views. They got so enlivened that they now have a 5 day 3 hour daily event.”

• In ISKCON Kanhaiyadesh, devotees are now reading Srimad Bhagavatam every day over zoom for 30 mins each in two languages.

Way forward

The International Shravanam week is not the end of the emphasis on reading every day. It was meant to have a concerted effort to remind us all of the significance of reading Srila Prabhupada’s books every day for every member of ISKCON. At the ministry we have now close to 108 realizations and several recorded interviews that we will release one every week. We hope that with your support we can maintain the enthusiasm until the next year festival and for lifetimes to come :- )

For the pleasure of all the devotees, as part of our weekly inspiration, we release a very special interview with H.H. Kavicandra Maharaja



I beg each one of you (or other you may know who can) to come forward and speak with us on this topic. You will be surprised as to how much this service we volunteer to help others would help ourselves.

I close this report here. With thank you. Thank you. Thank you. With a grateful and jubilant heart. All glories to Srila Prabhupada’s transcendental books!

Thank you.

Your servant,
Tapana Misra dasa
Ministry of Education


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7947943501?profile=RESIZE_584xBy Madhava Smullen 

International Shravanam Week, run by the ISKCON Ministry of Education from September 3rd to 9th, has facilitated and encouraged devotees worldwide to regularly read ISKCON Founder-Acarya Srila Prabhupada’s books by providing resources, inspiration and guidelines. The Week is part of a larger effort, “Books Are the Basis,” to “enhance the culture of reading Srila Prabhupada’s books globally.”The promotional flyer for Shravanam Week

Shravanam Week was officially added to ISKCON’s calendar, after the society’s Governing Body Commission (GBC) accepted a proposal from the Ministry of Education during their Annual General Meeting in February.

A GBC resolution also supported the initiative, stating that “at the 2017 edition of the Sanga for Gurus, GBCs and Sannyasis (SGGS) it was felt there should be a worldwide effort to increase reading of Srila Prabhupada’s books.” 

“At the SGGS the Gurus, sannyasis and GBCs felt that the one thing that could make maximum impact for ISKCON’s future generations and ISKCON’s sustainance would be if devotees read Srila Prabhupada’s books,” says Ministry of Education Executive Director Tapana Misra Das, who spearheaded the Books are the Basis and Shravanam Week initiatives. 

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