ISKCON Derire Tree's Posts (13238)


“The Supreme Controller loves to be controlled by the love of His great devotees.”

God is defined as the Supreme Being and understood to be the source, master, and controller of everything that be. Thus many people worship Him in reverence and depend on Him for protection. However, even God also sometimes desires to be controlled by someone else. Such a controller can only be His pure devotee, who conquers Him by the power of his or her loving devotional service. Various devotees and poets like Srila Sukadeva Gosvami describe this quality of the Supreme Godhead Krsna by words like – bhakta-vasyata (controlled by devotees), bhrtya-vasyata (controlled by servitors), bhaktair-jitatvam (conquered by devotees), bhakti-baddham (bound by loving devotion), bhakta-paradhina (dependent on devotees) and so on.

Controlled by Devotees

The entire universe, with its great, exalted demigods like Lord Siva, Lord Brahma and Lord Indra, is under the control of the Supreme Personality of Godhead, Krsna. Yet He has one transcendental attribute: He comes under the control of His devotees (bhrtya-vasyata). Krsna reveals this quality of being controlled by His devotees vividly in His various dealings with the Vrajavasis, who consider Him as their life and soul, and who dedicate their bodies, minds and words for His pleasure alone. Krsna takes great pleasure in being bound by their loving service through mellows like friendship, parental affection and conjugal love.

The Supreme Proprietor Steals

Lord Krsna is the supreme unrivalled proprietor and master of all the material and spiritual worlds and He is served by thousands of goddesses of fortune. Nonetheless, He steals butter in the houses of the vraja-gopis, as if He were poverty-stricken. Knowing that Krsna steals butter in their houses, the gopis invent various means to hide the butter from Him by hanging the butter pots from the ceiling or keeping them in dark rooms and so on. But Krsna cleverly reaches them by inventing newer methods of stealing (steya-yogaih). The gopis relish these activities of Krsna, but externally they chastise Him. These simple gopis are very much appreciative of Yasoda’s fortune of being Krsna’s mother. However, they think that she must be bereft of the pleasure of witnessing Krsna’s stealing pastimes for He wouldn’t steal butter in her house.

Complaints of Love

To give the same pleasure to Yasoda, the gopis go to her house to narrate Krsna’s stealing acts in the form of criticism and complaints against Him. Krsna’s pastimes are very enchanting, but when His pure devotees like the gopis (or Sukadeva Gosvami in the Bhagavatam, suka-mukhad amrta-drava-samyutam) narrate them, they appear more nectarean, being mixed with the love of the devotee. Thus, Mother Yasoda experienced a greater pleasure upon hearing about Krsna’s stealing activities from the gopis than the gopis did themselves by directly witnessing them. The gopis’ apparent angry complaints are nothing but expressions of their loving affection for Krsna.

The Absolute Truth Lies

When the gopis complain, Krsna often doesn’t admit His naughty activities. Instead, He speaks so many lies against them and claims innocence in front of Mother Yasoda. Krsna is the Supreme Absolute Truth (satyam param), whose eternal existence is beyond the creation, maintenance and dissolution of this material cosmos, of which He is the ultimate cause. Yet, He often lies to the gopis, cheats them, tricks them, bewilders them, and in this way captivates their hearts. Krsna steals butter and performs so much mischief in Yasoda’s house, but when questioned by her, He cleverly makes false statements that fascinatingly have deeper and more truthful meanings! For instance, when Yasoda asked Krsna, “Who distributed butter to the monkeys?” Krsna cleverly replied, “The one who created them!”

Cause Behind Contradictions

The falsehood of the Absolute Truth is a special ornament of His character that charms His devotees. By acting in many contradictory ways, Krsna actually relishes the love of His devotees and also expresses His love for them. To manifest this quality of “bhakta-vasyata,” Krsna sometimes relinquishes His other opulences and attributes, and proudly declares to everyone the glories of His devotees who have full control over Him (darsayams tad-vidam loka atmano bhakta-vasyatam, SB 10.11.9). Damodara-lila is an unparalleled example in which Krsna behaves in such contradictory ways to exhibit His quality of “bhakta-vasyata.”

The Self-Satisfied Becomes Hungry

One early Dipavali morning, engaging her maidservants in various activities, Mother Yasoda personally started churning butter for Krsna. She engaged her body in churning, her mind in thinking of her beloved son, and her words in singing about His activities. In this way her complete absorption attracted Krsna who is all-attractive and self-satisfied in all respects (atmarama). Krsna got up from sleep and came to her eagerly, hungry for her milk (stanya-kama). Krsna climbed on her lap, His own property, and she started to breast-feed Him. A transcendental competition between Yasoda’s love in the form of her milk and Krsna’s hunger for it started. Both knew no bounds, yet the milk sometimes overflowed from His mouth, forming small rivulets of milk. This feeding went on for a good while, losing all sense of time!

Peace Personified Becomes Angry

Suddenly, the special milk of the Padma-gandha cows boiling in the kitchen started overflowing, and to save it, Yasoda immediately kept Krsna aside and ran there. Upon being deprived of His mother’s milk, greedy Krsna became very dissatisfied. Krsna is known as visuddha-sattva vigraha, or one in pure goodness devoid of any tinges of passion and ignorance. Yet He shed tears and now manifested anger, breaking a pot of yogurt and stealing butter. He started distributing the butter to monkeys, restlessly looking around, anxious that His mother might come and punish Him at any time.

Time Personified Flees in Fear

As it is common for a thief to leave some clue, Krsna left a clue for Mother Yasoda to catch Him – His butter footprints. Following them, Yasoda, desiring to teach a lesson to her naughty child Krsna, the all-knowledgeable, reached there calmly, with a stick in her hand. Krsna was shocked! Although fear personified and even Yamaraja fears Krsna, He was now fearful of Yasoda’s stick. Krsna ran towards the main gate, hoping that Yasoda wouldn’t punish Him in public.

The Fastest Becomes Caught

Despite her fatigue Mother Yasoda chased Krsna with great determination, but Krsna looked behind often and always kept Himself at a safe distance, at least a hand’s length away from Her. At times she almost caught Him, but just missed. The yogis cannot capture Krsna within their hearts and the Upanisads declare that He can run faster than the mind, but now a simple gopi of Vrndavana, Yasoda, finally captured Him, although He wanted to avoid being arrested by her. This is the greatness of her pure love.

The Condensed Bliss Cries

Although she did not intend to beat Him, Yasoda then threatened Krsna by raising her stick. Krsna became more afraid and cried, His genuine tears mixing with the black ointment around His eyes. Usually when Krsna cries, Yasoda would wipe His tears wit her cloth, but now He Himself rubbed His eyes with His own hands, and thus smeared the ointment all over His face. He trembled in fear and breathed heavily as He cried. Although His soothing smile dries up the ocean of tears created by the lamentation of the conditioned souls, He was now crying in fear of His mother. And although the breathing of His expansion, Maha-Visnu, generates millions of brahmandas, He was Himself now breathing heavily in anxiety.

The Object of Prayers Gets Scolded

Yasoda scolded Krsna for all His offenses of breaking pot, stealing butter, distributing it to the monkeys and fleeing away, while making her run behind Him. Considering Him as her son, out of her intense maternal affection, she became eager to discipline Him and train Him as a good human being. She chastised Him by calling Him a restless, greedy, hot-tempered boy, a monkey-lover and a house-plunderer. She threatened Him, saying that she wouldn’t feed Him milk products or give Him toys or allow Him to play with His playmates.

The Supreme Judge Awaits Judgement

Krsna was guilty! His fate was completely in His mother’s hands. She might punish Him, bind Him or release Him at her will. Krsna bent His head low in front of Yasoda and promised her that He wouldn’t do such mischief anymore and anxiously pleaded for her to drop the stick. Due to her intense affection, Yasoda became worried to see His distress and suspected that He might run away due to fear, anger and fickleness. Unaware of His prowess, she thought it wise to bind Him and keep Him home, while she was busy with her household chores. Thus, she ordered her servants to get some soft ropes.

An Attempt to Bind the All-Pervading

The Supreme Lord Krsna is all-pervading in time and space. He has no beginning or end, no exterior or interior, no front or rear and is beyond sense perception (adhoksaja). Mother Yasoda, considering Him her own child, tried to bind Him to the wooden mortar with a rope. She tried to tie up with her cords of strong prema the all-pervading Lord of all, who binds up with the ropes of maya everyone from Brahma to the blade of grass.

Fist-Sized Waist Not Bound by Meters of Rope

Krsna didn’t want to be bound! He desired to do His daily duties of stealing yogurt and playing with His friends. So, His satya sankalpa-sakti (power to fulfill His every desire) inspired His vibhuti-sakti (power of showing His opulence) to manifest in His body. Thus, the rope of Mother Yasoda became two fingers too short in binding Him. She got more and more ropes and tied them together, but the rope was always two fingers too short.

Divinity’s Desire Vs. Devotee’s Determination

Yasoda’s determination didn’t slacken despite her failure. So, Krsna had to transform His desire. Seeing her loving endeavor (parisrama), Krsna became merciful (krpa). Krsna’s krpa-sakti which reigns as the king of all His potencies and illuminates all others, melts the heart of the Lord and turns it into butter. It made His satya sankalpa and vibhuti saktis immediately disappear. The distance of two fingers was filled by the devotee’s endeavor and the Lord’s causeless mercy. The bhakta-nistha, or the firm faith of the devotee seen in his or her tireless endeavors to serve and worship Krsna, and the sva-nistha or the steady quality in Krsna, which brings forth His mercy upon seeing the devotee’s efforts, causes Krsna to be bound. In the absence of these two, the rope will remain two fingers too short.

sva-matuh svinna-gatraya visrasta-kabara-srajah

drstva parisramam krsnah krpayasit sva-bandhane

(SB 10.9.18)

The Liberator in Bondage

Thus, Krsna, who can liberate everyone from material bondage, is Himself bound by the love of His devotee. The rope with which Yasoda bound Him is the rope of her pure love. In this Damodara-lila, Krsna shows Yasoda and the whole world that only love can bind Him. And even in that bound up state, He retains His quality of liberating others. Therefore He was able to liberate the sons of Kuvera by pulling down the Yamalarjuna trees. In His liberating them, He again exhibited His quality of being controlled by His devotee, because it was His devotee Narada who desired that the sons of Kuvera be liberated by Krsna.

The Possessor of All Qualities and Their Opposites

To show this quality of being controlled by His devotees, Krsna acts against some of His innate qualities. There is no contradiction in this, because Krsna possesses all the qualities and all their opposites too. He is smaller than the smallest and bigger than the biggest. He is within everything and apart from everything. His quality of being merciful to His devotees, being controlled by their loving devotional service, stands as the epitome of all His attributes. Thus the process of bhakti is glorified in Damodara-lila.

nayam sukhapo bhagavan dehinam gopika-sutah

jnaninam catma-bhutanam yatha bhaktimatam iha

Lord Krsna, the son of Mother Yasoda, is easily accessible to devotees engaged in spontaneous loving service, but not to mental speculators, aspirants of self-realization, or those in bodily identification. (SB 10.9.21)

The Devotee Becomes Greater than God

Krsna is asamordhva – no one is equal to Him or greater than Him. Some philosophers may want to become one with God, but in Vaisnava philosophy the devotee becomes so much more powerful than God that he or she can control God. The Supreme Godhead Krsna elevates His devotee beyond His own position, just as Arjuna became the hero at Kuruksetra while Krsna was simply his chariot driver. Mother Yasoda is the epitome of vatsalya-rasa. The word “yasoda” means “giver of fame.” By binding Krsna with her ropes of love, Yasoda gave Krsna the fame of being controlled by His devotees. The glories of the Supreme Personality of Godhead are studied through the three Vedas, the Upanisads, the literature of Sankhya-yoga, and other Vaisnava literature, yet Mother Yasoda considered that Supreme Person her ordinary child out of Her intense affection for Him (trayya copanisadbhis ca… SB 10.8.45). Sukadeva Gosvami glorifies her, saying that neither Lord Brahma, nor Lord Siva, nor even the goddess of fortune, who is always the better half of the Supreme Lord, can obtain from the Supreme Lord, the deliverer from this material world, such mercy as received by Mother Yasoda. (nemam virinco na bhavo… SB 10.9.20).


To love and be loved is the need and innate nature of every person, not to speak of the Supreme Person Krsna. Krsna loves every individual soul who is His part and parcel and He desires that they also love Him. However only His unalloyed devotees completely realize their relationship with Krsna and love Him unconditionally. Love also constitutes being controlled and dominated by the beloved and thus presenting oneself as a subordinate to such love. Thus Krsna finds great pleasure in being controlled by His unalloyed devotees and is practically sold out by their love. This quality of Krsna’s is celebrated as bhakta-vasyata.


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Ganga Sagar Mela


Ganga Sagar Mela is a festival observed especially at the confluence of the Ganges and the Bay of Bangal. Kapilasrama, the asrama of Lord Krsna's incarnation as Kapiladeva, the son of Devahuti, is located at this place. The festival Commemorates King Bhagirathi's bringing the River Ganges down from the celestial planets to the ocean and the lower worlds. In Ganga Sagar Mela, over 6 lakhs pilgrims assembled to take a holy dip at the place of confluence of river Ganges on the Makara Sankranthi day.

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For Gopala Bhatta Gosvami’s appearance day I thought to read a verse and purport about him from Sri Caitanya-caritamrta, Adi-lila, Chapter Ten, “The Branches of the Caitanya Tree”:

TEXT 105

sri gopala bhatta eka sakha sarvottama
rupa-sanatana-sange yanra prema-alapana


Sri Gopala Bhatta Gosvami, the forty-seventh branch, was one of the great and exalted branches of the tree. He always engaged in discourses about love of Godhead in the company of Rupa Gosvami and Sanatana Gosvami.

PURPORT by Srila Prabhupada

Sri Gopala Gosvami was the son of Venkata Bhatta, a resident of Sri Rangam. Gopala Bhatta formerly belonged to the disciplic succession of the Ramanuja-sampradaya but later became part of the Gaudiya-sampradaya. In the year 1433 Sakabda (A.D. 1511), when Lord Caitanya Mahaprabhu was touring South India, He stayed for four months during the period of Caturmasya at the house of Venkata Bhatta, who then got the opportunity to serve the Lord to his heart’s content. Gopala Bhatta also got the opportunity to serve the Lord at this time. Sri Gopala Bhatta Gosvami was later initiated by his uncle, the great sannyasi Prabodhananda Sarasvati. Both the father and the mother of Gopala Bhatta Gosvami were extremely fortunate, for they dedicated their entire lives to the service of Lord Caitanya Mahaprabhu. They allowed Gopala Bhatta Gosvami to go to Vrndavana, and they gave up their lives thinking of Sri Caitanya Mahaprabhu. When Lord Caitanya was later informed that Gopala Bhatta Gosvami had gone to Vrndavana and met Sri Rupa and Sanatana Gosvami, He was very pleased, and He advised Sri Rupa and Sanatana to accept Gopala Bhatta Gosvami as their younger brother and take care of him. Sri Sanatana Gosvami, out of his great affection for Gopala Bhatta Gosvami, compiled the Vaisnava smrti named Hari-bhakti-vilasa and published it under his name. Under the instruction of Srila Rupa and Sanatana, Gopala Bhatta Gosvami installed one of the seven principal deities of Vrndavana, the Radha-ramana deity. The sevaits (priests) of the Radha-ramana temple belong to the Gaudiya-sampradaya.


Actually, one of the families entrusted with the Deity service at the Radha-ramana Mandir has a history of relations with the line of Srila Bhaktivinoda Thakura and Srila Bhaktisiddhanta Sarasvati. Visvambhara Gosvami’s father or grandfather had relations with Srila Bhaktivinoda Thakura, the family maintained relations with Srila Bhaktisiddhanta Sarasvati Thakura, and then Visvambhara Gosvami had very friendly relations with Srila Prabhupada. And he spoke very nicely about Srila Prabhupada. Now Visvambhara Gosvami’s son Padmanabha Gosvami is also very favorable to ISKCON. In fact, ISKCON devotees often honor prasada at his home at the Radha-ramana Mandir. I also took prasada there with His Holiness Tamal Krishna Goswami, and Padmanabha Gosvami showed us a letter that Srila Prabhupada had written to his father, Visvambhara Gosvami, about how all Vaishnavas should cooperate. So, not only does the Radha-ramana temple belong to the Gaudiya-sampradaya, but at least some of the sevaits have had close relations with the line of Srila Bhaktivinoda Thakura.

PURPORT (concluded)

When Krsnadasa Kaviraja Gosvami took permission from all the Vaisnavas before writing Sri Caitanya-caritamrta, Gopala Bhatta Gosvami also gave him his blessings, but he requested him not to mention his name in the book. Therefore Krsnadasa Kaviraja Gosvami has mentioned Gopala Bhatta Gosvami only very cautiously in one or two passages of the Caitanya-caritamrta. Srila Jiva Gosvami has written in the beginning of his Tattva-sandarbha, “A devotee from southern India who was born of a brahmana family and was a very intimate friend of Rupa Gosvami and Sanatana Gosvami has written a book that he has not compiled chronologically. Therefore I, a tiny living entity known as jiva, am trying to assort the events of the book chronologically, consulting the direction of great personalities like Madhvacarya, Sridhara Svami, Ramanujacarya, and other senior Vaisnavas in the disciplic succession.” In the beginning of the Bhagavat-sandarbha there are similar statements by Srila Jiva Gosvami. Srila Gopala Bhatta Gosvami compiled a book called Sat-kriya-sara-dipika, edited the Hari-bhakti-vilasa, wrote a foreword to the Sat-sandarbha and a commentary on the Krsna-karnamrta, and installed the Radharamana Deity in Vrndavana. In the Gaura-ganoddesa-dipika (184) it is mentioned that his previous name in the pastimes of Lord Krsna was Ananga-manjari. Sometimes he is also said to have been an incarnation of Guna-manjari. Srinivasa Acarya and Gopinatha Pujari were two of his disciples.


Srila Gopala Bhatta Gosvami ki jaya!

One story about Gopala Bhatta Gosvami is that on the eve of Nrsimha-caturdasi all the other Gosvamis and Vaishnavas in Vrindavan were preparing to worship their Deities and hold festivals. Gopala Bhatta Gosvami had only a salagrama-sila; he didn’t have a Deity with arms and legs and a body that he could dress and decorate. So, he was feeling deprived of the opportunity to serve like the other devotees who had Deities they could serve in these ways. And out of Gopala Bhatta Gosvami’s strong desire, a salagrama-sila became manifest in the form of Radha-ramana. Radha-ramana is considered the most beautiful Deity of Krishna. He is the one original Deity of the Gosvamis that has remained in Vrindavan, while the others had to be taken elsewhere for fear of the Muslim invaders. And near the temple of Radha-ramana in Vrindavan is the samadhi of Sri Gopala Bhatta Gosvami.

Gopala Bhatta Gosvami’s uncle and siksa-guru was Prabodhananda Sarasvati. His samadhi is also located in Vrindavan, just off the parikrama path near Kaliya-ghata, which is quite near our Krishna-Balaram Mandir. So, often when we go on parikrama down the path near the Yamuna, we visit Prabodhananda Sarasvati’s samadhi and bhajana-kutira. And then we proceed to Srila Sanatana Gosvami’s samadhi. Srila Sanatana Gosvami was the most senior of the Gosvamis and was also a close associate and instructor of Gopala Bhatta Gosvami. In fact, Gopala Bhatta Gosvami worked with Sanatana Gosvami to produce the great treatise Hari-bhakti-vilasa.

I feel that Gopala Bhatta Gosvami has been especially merciful to me on two occasions. On one, I visited his bhajana-kutira at Sanketa, a place between Nandagrama and Varsana where Radha and Krishna used to meet and sometimes perform rasa-lila. Gopala Bhatta would sit and chant underground in a deep cavern, accessible only through a long, narrow passage. At the end of the passage was a somewhat roomier place where Gopala Bhatta used to chant, now marked as his bhajana-sthala. I remember going there with Tamal Krishna Goswami and others on a very hot day and struggling to crawl through the passage to the bhajana-sthala. It was very difficult, but when I finally reached there, Gopala Bhatta Gosvami was very merciful. He allowed me to chant with a glimpse of taste. And after all the devotees emerged from the cavern, I stole back in. I crawled back to Gopala Bhatta’s lotus feet, and I sat there chanting. I will never forget his mercy to me there, and I pray that he will enable me to chant with relish and love.

On the other occasion, the last time I visited Vrindavan, in Kartik of 1999, shortly before my surgery, I visited Gopala Bhatta’s samadhi near the Radha-ramana Mandir. We arrived just after raja-bhoga–arati,and the pujari was closing the doors to the samadhi-mandira. But he was kind enough to open the doors for us, to allow us darshan of Gopala Bhatta Gosvami. He gave us some flowers and caranamrta, and invited us to stay for prasada. Thus our small party, along with some local sadhus, honored Gopala Bhatta Prabhu’s maha–maha-prasadam with great relish, and we even stayed to take a little rest before, filled with bliss, we continued on our way. So, Gopal Bhatta Gosvami is very kind.

Years later, when some of my disciples from Bombay went to Vrindavan on pilgrimage, they visited the samadhi. They told the pujaris about me, how my health no longer allowed me to visit Vraja, and asked for some prasada for me. And one of the pujaris kindly gave them a piece of cloth from the samadhi. It is very special. Now, twice a year, once on his appearance day and once on his disappearance day, we bring it out and touch it. So now we shall pass it around and touch it to our heads and to our hearts—and pray to Gopala Bhatta Gosvami for his sublime mercy.


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In the introduction to the Srimad Bhagavatam, Śrīla Prabhupāda quotes a very famous verse (SB 1.5.11):

tad-vāg-visargo janatāgha-viplavo
yasmin prati-ślokam abaddhavaty api
nāmāny anantasya yaśo ‘ńkitāni yat
śṛṇvanti gāyanti gṛṇanti sādhavaḥ

This is the verse that speaks about viplavo, a revolution, so that attracts me because I like the revolutionary spirit, the spirit of making changes, something dynamic. Prabhupada is pointing out it is the discussion of Krsna that would bring about the change.

It means wherever there are devotees who are chanting the names of God, that can bring about a revolution in a misdirected and misguided civilization. Where slokas of Krsna will be discussed, that is where there will be a change. And such verses are heard and sung by men who are thoroughly honest, even if imperfectly composed.

Some devotees have identified this verse as a verse which predicts Srila Prabhupada’s mission because it says that through Srimad Bhagavatam in particular the world will change. And Prabhupada brought the Bhagavatam to the western world, not the Gita. The trunks that he brought with him on the Jaladuta contained sets of Bhagavatams. He sold 1 set to the captain of the Jaladuta, and of course, later he sold other sets.

He was going to give a lecture in Pennsylvania when a man came and sat next to him and they had a discussion. It was a nice conversation and when it was time for Prabhupada to speak, he asked the man to look after his box of books. After the lecture Prabhupada asked him to open the box and hold the books up. Prabhupada explained what those books were, and then said that anyone who wanted books could go to the man and give him the money. 

Prabhupada just engaged him, and in this, he put the Bhagavatam into practice by engaging someone in devotional service. It was not just a dry lecture but a real lecture. Before this person knew it he was engaged in devotional service. That was Prabhupada’s tendency – to somehow or the other engage everyone in devotional service. 


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Ganga Sagara Mela by Ramai Swami


King Sagara performed the Ashvamedha sacrifice to declare his sovereignty over the neighbouring kingdoms. The 60,000 sons of Sagara were following the horse when they saw it enter a cavern where the sage Kapila was meditating. Not seeing the horse, they presumed that Kapila had hidden it.

They did not kill Kapila as he was a sage but they started disturbing his meditation. Annoyed at being disturbed, Kapila, with a curse burnt the 60,000 sons of Sagara. Time passed and later Bhagiratha, the great grandson of Sagara, chanced to come across the bones of his dead ancestors. He wanted to perform the shraddha of his ancestors but there was no water available for the ceremony.

Bhagiratha prayed to Brahma who asked him to pray to Vishnu, to allow the heavenly Ganga to come down to earth. Lord Vishnu asked him to request Shiva, to allow the torrential rain to fall on his head before it came to the earth as the river was very forceful and if allowed to come down unchecked, her fall would split the earth.

Shiva agreed to take the gigantic weight of the cascading Ganga on the matted hair piled high on his head. This ensnared and delayed the progress of the river which, in meandering through the labyrinth of his hair, lost its force and then gently descended to the Himalayas from whence it flowed to the plains bestowing its waters on the parched earth.





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ganga_slideshow.jpg?profile=RESIZE_710x By Binoy Sri Gouranga Das 

The second most popular mela after Kumbh Mela is the Ganga Sagar Mela. It is India's biggest fair held in Sagardwip, West Bengal, and witnesses a large number of people pouring in. Celebrated with great vigor and enthusiasm, the festival has a cultural and spiritual significance where pilgrims dip themselves in the holy waters of Ganga to purify their souls.  

Held during the winters, the Mela is an annual gathering of pilgrims which see a number of rituals, lit lamps and chanting in and around Sagardwip.

Ahead of Ganga Sagar mela, 2020, ISKCON is all set to launch a permanent, compact kitchen, capable of providing meal to 10,000 persons per day, at Sagar Islands in South 24 Parganas district.

Hot, sumptuous, nutritionally well-balanced, vegetarian food will be served throughout the year under Ganga Sagar project, an ISKCON Mayapur initiative.

The “Annamrita-Thali”, containing rice, dal, roti, sabji, chutney and a sweet, will be available from 8 am to 8 pm, said Sundar Govind Das, project manager. “The semi-mechanised kitchen, where the food will be prepared using steam, is considered healthier than direct heat. The devotees of ISKCON will prepare the meal in the compact kitchen keeping proper hygiene, food safety and security norms in mind,” he said.

“This project is absolutely non-profit, non-sectarian but charitable initiative to feed the poor and hungry pilgrims regardless of cast, creed, race, language or religion to encourage universal brotherhood,” read a statement issued by ISKCON.

Das said if the state government wishes, the kitchen can be utilized to assist it in serving mid-day meals in the adjoining areas of Sagar Islands.

“A few months ago, the island was severely affected by cyclone Bulbul, which left trails of devastation. All the communication was shut down for nearly two days, due to which there was more requirement for cooked food among the local people and pilgrims who were stuck in the Sagar Islands. ISKCON kitchen is capable of instantly rendering relief by supplying food in such situations in future under the guidance of the government,” added Subroto Das, media spokesperson of ISKCON, Mayapur.


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Blessed Granny by Sivarama Swami


From Back to Godhead

Dear Sivarama Swami,

Hare Krsna. Please accept my humble obeisances. All glories to Srila Prabhupada. I hope you do not mind my writing to you. I have never written to a spiritual master before. You do not know me. My name is Bhaktin Dora and I live in Pecs (Hungary). I am 14 years old, and I live at home with my mother and older sister.

Some years ago I went to the Hare Krsna Festival with a friend. I was not very interested, but I enjoyed the chanting and dancing at the end. After it was over I bought a book, The Science of Self-Realization. I do not know why; generally I never read. I think it was because of the chanting.

I took the book home and cannot remember what happened to it. One day my mother found it and was very angry with me. She thought that I was reading this kind of thing. You see, our family members are all very strict Catholics. They thought Krsna consciousness was some kind of “brainwashing.” Actually I wasn’t reading the book; I had forgotten all about it. Somehow it just “appeared.” Anyway, my mother was going to throw it away.

My grandmother, who is 68, was in the kitchen at the time. She lives in the apartment upstairs. She came in and took the book. She looked at it and scolded me in a very heavy way. I thought that would be the end of it. I did not mind so much, as I was in a lot of maya at the time.

About a week later I overheard a conversation between my mother and grandmother. Granny was saying that this was not some ordinary book. She said that what Prabhupada was saying is what Jesus Christ said and that Krsna is God. I was very surprised. She said we should listen to what Prabhupada said and chant Hare Krsna because that was the religion for this age. There was a lot of talk about how Christianity was no more and no one was following the Bible but what Prabhupada said was pure and perfect.

Things really took a turn from there. One day my grandmother visited the nama-hatta [local Krsna center] here and began to chant on beads. She also began to buy Prabhupada’s books one by one. She was spending all her pension buying what she called the “beautiful holy Bhagavatam.” Sometimes she could only afford to eat potatoes, but she kept buying the books. The devotees even came to her flat and helped her set up an altar. When I went upstairs, there were Krsna pictures everywhere.

That was really the beginning. One night Granny had a dream about Prabhupada. Something really happened to her then. I don’t know what it was, but she began to get very enthusiastic. Next she began to get the whole family involved. I mean, not just me and my mother and sister, but her two sons, their wives and six children, as well as her brothers, sisters, and relatives. Before, she used to carry a Bible with her and quote Jesus Christ. Now she has a Bhagavad-gita and quotes “the good Lord Prabhupada.” She became a veritable transcendental terror. Everyone in the family has to chant at least one round a day. In addition Granny made everyone become a vegetarian, including my dog Sikra, and we offer our food to a picture of Prabhupada and Lord Caitanya.

Now I am also getting out of maya and chanting and reading a little also. Where I go to school my friends inquire about Krsna, since they know I am a devotee. The whole family goes to the nama-hatta, all sixteen of us. During the Christmas marathon [for book distribution], we all tried to distribute Prabhupada’s books. Even Granny would take books with her to the market and sell them to the vendors. Everyone is afraid of her because she is fearless. They all think she has gone crazy, but she doesn’t care.

Now she is saving to go to Budapest to see the newly installed Deities. She has heard that Lord Caitanya and Lord Nityananda “came” to Hungary and are being worshiped there by the devotees. She says she wants to see God just once in this life.

At this year’s Hare Krsna festival, you were speaking to the guests after the kirtana. You must remember my grandmother because she came and sat right beside you and asked so many questions. At the end when you stood to leave, she even kissed your hand, remember? I also wanted to ask a question, but I was shy. Could I please ask you now? I hope you do not mind, Maharaja.

I want to know what kind of man Srila Prabhupada was. He must be so dear to Krsna to have spread this message all over the world. What are these books that changed my family so much? How is it possible that he can speak so powerfully through them? You must feel very fortunate to be his disciple. How great a man he is! Sometimes when my Granny chants in front of a picture of Krsna she cries. How does Prabhupada do that? I want to cry like that too. Granny dreams of Prabhupada, and sometimes she talks to his picture. Although it says on the cover of the book that he passed away, is Prabhupada really dead, or is he still alive? Do you think I can meet him some day?

I am sorry that I have gone on so. I would like to be a good devotee one day and help you and Prabhupada spread Krsna consciousness. Please could you answer my questions?

Your servant,
Bhaktin Dora

Sivarama Swami: Srila Prabhupada, what is this brand of mercy that you gave this old lady I just barely met, which you never gave me? She never met you, never saw devotees. She is not even initiated by you. What is this kindness that you bestow upon her, which you do not give me, your “fortunate disciple”?

What am I referring to? It is just this. After having come in contact with you for just a few months, what inspiration did you give this Granny in that dream? What did you move in her heart that made her change her life in its final days, that made her turn against the current of banality and tradition and strike out alone to change her world? No sympathy, no association, no institutional support. Boldness I do not possess, changes I do not have strength to make.

Srila Prabhupada, I want to know what you say to her from your picture when she talks to you? I have so many pictures. You do not speak to me through them.

Although I worship Deities daily, I continue to see them as made of marble and wood. How is it this old lady has the conviction that God has “come” to her country? Why have you not given such vision to me? I want to cry like that too. When will you give me that mercy?

Srila Prabhupada, this is one letter, from one girl who came in contact with you. How many millions of such souls are there who have yet to write, who are directly experiencing your mercy daily, who read your books with implicit faith, whom you talk to in dreams and pictures, whose lives you change abruptly and reward with tears when chanting the holy names?

How many people cross the boundaries of rules and regulations by the strong boat of your mercy and practice and taste Krsna consciousness in a realm beyond logic and good fortune? When will you one day bestow some of this special mercy upon me that you give them?

If I am not to acquire it directly, even after begging for it, then I will serve such souls who have reached your mission. I will offer them prasadam, give them your books, and show them how to practice. I will chant with them. Thus I can hope to gain a new perspective of your greatness, even though I may never fully understand it.


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In August 2009, at the tender age of 8, Jagannath moved to Sridham Mayapur with his Mum. He was admitted to Sri Mayapur International School, grade 2 class. His natural attraction to the holy Dham was instant!

Jagannath was an all-rounder from his childhood – he actively participated in all sports (cricket, football, basketball, volleyball & table tennis) as well as devotional activities such as playing mrdanga, harmonium, kartals and singing. He was also blessed academically.

In 2012 Jagannath and his Mum had to leave Mayapur to be with their family in South Africa. However he was unable to live away from Sri Dham Mayapur, so they moved back in 2013, where he continued his studies at the International School.

He completed his IGCSE levels in June 2017, with an A in Mathematics, Accounting, Physics, Computer Science and a C in English.

Jagannath completed his AS and A-Levels in 2019 with an A in Mathematics, a B in Accounting & Economics and a C in Computer Science.

One lovely advantage of living in the Dham and attending the Sri Mayapur International School is that he also had the wonderful opportunity to complete his Bhakti Shastri degree in 2019.

During this time, Jagannath’s Mum had various services in the Dham to make it possible for him to complete his academic years in Sridham Mayapur.

After spending almost 10 years in Sri Mayapur Dham, Jagannath would love to pursue a career in finance towards a CA with the intention of returning with His mum to serve in the Dham as soon as possible in the future.

The one complication for his Mum is that she has to now somehow find a way to finance Jagannath’s further education in South Africa. The cost of his education alone is approximately 50,000 Rand or almost £2700 GBP a year.

Naturally, Jagannath and his Mum would be deeply grateful for any donations they receive toward his further education.

Please kindly donate whatever you can through PayPal using this email address:

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By Madhava Smullen

The latest tour by ISKCON Youth Ministry saw youth help put on four Rathayatras in the Caribbean, and some become inspired to take on active roles in the Hare Krishna Movement.

A total of about twenty-five youth participated throughout the tour, with fourteen from around the US being joined by about five local youth in both the Dominican Republic and Puerto Rico.

Ages ranged from seventeen to twenty-four, with the tour running from December 14th to January 5th.

Three Rathayatras, organized by Bhadra Das from ISKCON Alachua, Florida, were held in the Dominican Republic – one in Puerto Plata, one in Santiago, and one in the capital city Santo Domingo; while a fourth was held in Puerto Rico’s capital, San Juan.


“In Santiago, the indigenous people were really receptive and sweet,” says ISKCON Youth Minister Manorama Das. “Many joined in the Rathayatra and danced with us.”

In Santo Domingo, the parade route took devotees through the barrio, where thousands of people got to see Lord Jagannath and hear the kirtan, before ending with a festival in Parque Colon, the central square of the city’s historic district. And in San Juan, tourists thronged around the festival site, set up amidst the cruise ship terminals.

At all the Rathayatras, local devotees distributed prasadam and Prabhupada’s books; while the youth performed a Bhagavad-gita drama to a Spanish language audio track, Bharatanatyam dance, and a big kirtan onstage (which, in Santo Domingo, included local musicians on traditional Latin instruments like congas).

“There are only very few devotees on both Caribbean islands, so the local devotees really appreciated us,” says Manorama. “Which made us feel valued, like they really needed us.”

Manorama explains that the Rathayatra festivals were the highlight of the year for local devotees. “The Caribbean is a much under-utilized resource at the moment – we need more devotees to go there and spread Krishna consciousness,” he says.

Tour youth also performed several Harinamas on the streets of the Dominican Republic and Puerto Rico. A highlight was the Harinama in old San Juan with Gaura Vani, which took place during a holiday music festival sponsored by a local brewery.


“The entrance to the festival was a giant fake Christmas tree, hollowed out at the base,” says Manorama. “We did Harinama inside the entranceway, and everyone who went in or out danced their way through the Harinama. It was quite something!”

During their stay in Puerto Rico youth also visited Plenitud Eco Farm, where husband and wife Vaishnava and Draupadi are trying to revitalize islanders’ interest in organic farming, and are teaching local college students and schoolchildren how to grow their own food.

While at Plenitud, ISKCON youth mingled and connected with a group of twelve visiting college students from South Dakota, most of whom had never heard of Hare Krishnas before, and who were very curious. 


“We worked in the fields and did gardening together, and our group cooked prasadam for everyone, using locally grown vegetables such as taro root,” says Manorama. “We also did a cultural performance just for the college kids, where Ranganayaki danced Bharatanatyam, and then we had a kirtan with them. In the last twenty minutes, we were all dancing together, doing the train, and the tunnel, where everybody goes under eachother’s arms. The college kids really got into it, and had a fun evening with us.”

Of course, no visit to the Caribbean would be complete without some recreation. Between Harinamas and Rathayatras, youth visited a different beautiful beach nearly every other day, hiked through tropical rainforests, and discovered waterfalls with swimming holes such as Juan Diego waterfall in Puerto Rico’s El Yunque national rainforest.

“We also came across some interesting flora and fauna, like stick insects and katydids, who mimic leaves,” Manorama says. “We even fed prasadam to them!”

Other highlights of the tour included a six-hour New Year’s Eve kirtan at Puerto Rico’s only ISKCON temple in hilly Gurabo.

Deeply moved by the youth’s contribution to San Juan Rathayatra and more, longtime temple president Arisudana Das gave each one of them an appreciation present and said, “You young people could have gone anywhere on your winter holidays, but you chose to come to a poor country like Puerto Rico, with a very poor temple, and help us in our preaching.”

On the final evening of the tour, the group sat in a circle to share appreciations with each other. One experience commonly shared was how much U.S. and local youth enjoyed getting to know each other, and building strong friendships.

Also appreciated was the new emphasis on systematic daily study of the Srimad-Bhagavatam during the tour.  

“They really appreciated those serious philosophical discussions we had,” Manorama says. “About focusing on becoming Krishna conscious in this lifetime, and living an extraordinary life. We really tried to make the point that these young people are so fortunate that they’re growing up in the Hare Krishna Movement, and that Prabhupada wanted them to be the future hope of ISKCON – not just ordinary congregation members who go about their business and come to the temple once a week on Sundays. But to take Krishna consciousness seriously, and think about how they can get involved and help in a missionary way, to take the movement to the next level.”

Many youth were deeply inspired by this discussion, as well as the experience of connecting with each other through service and preaching. In particular, Hari, the twenty-year-old son of Puerto Rico temple president Arisudana Das, committed in his heart to being a devotee of Krishna and active member of ISKCON.

“He decided, ‘That’s what I want to do – I want to be a devotee,’” Manorama says. “He wants to recommit, help his father, who has kept the temple alive for sixteen years, and get more serious. So the tour has really had an impact on the local youth.”

This year, tour organizers covered the expenses of local devotee youth in Dominican Republic and Puerto Rico from their own pockets, so that they could participate in the tour. Please help ISKCON Youth Ministry continue to change lives by donating at


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Giving a fillip to the aspiration and vision of Chief Minister Ms. Mamata Banerjee, to develop spiritual tourism in the Ganga Sagar belt, ISKCON (International Society for Krishna Consciousness) is ready to launch a permanent, semi-mechanized, modern and compact kitchen which will be capable to prepare up to 10,000 meal per day at the Sagar Island during the Ganga Sagar Mela 2020. ISKCON Management hopes this initiative will be helpful to serve the pilgrims and devotees by fulfilling their prolonged demand to have an adequate Prasadam facility in a neat and clean place.

Gangasagar Project, an initiative of ISKCON Mayapur, would like to offer people an opportunity to experience hot, sumptuous, nutritionally well-balanced, 100% Pure Vegetarian full meal Prasadam (sanctified food) throughout the year because Indian Vedic culture describes that, any Tirth-Yatra is incomplete without honoring prasadam. The meal named “Annamrita-Thali”, will consist of Rice, Dal, Roti, Sabji, Pickle/chutney and a sweet available from 8 AM to 8 PM throughout the day said Sundar Govind Das , Project Manager of ISKCON GangaSagar. The semi-mechanized kitchen, where the food will be prepared using steam, is considered healthier than the direct heat of the flame. The devotees of ISKCON will prepare the meal in the compact kitchen which has been designed in such a way so that proper hygiene, food safety & security norms is maintained. In that kitchen we are giving priority to use 304 grade stainless steel.

This project has already fulfilled its commitment to serve 1,00,000 meals during the Gangasagar Mela, absolutely FREE of cost for last 15 years at the Sagar Island.

Apart from above mentioned festivals and emergencies, it is decided, this pilot project will be continued by ISKCON throughout the year by offering meals to the tirth-yatris on “PAY AS YOU CAN” basis. “Our actual objective is, in any circumstances, no one should leave Gangasagar Dham without receiving Lord Kapil Muni’s and Gangadevi’s mercy in the form of Prasad” said Das. This project is absolutely non-profit, non-sectarian but charitable initiative to feed the poor and hungry tirthya-yatris regardless of cast, creed, race, language or religion to encourage Universal Brotherhood.

ISKCON Gangasagar has developed the kitchen in such a way that if the State Government wishes , the kitchen may be utilized as a centralized kitchen to assist in serving mid-day meals in the adjoining areas of Sagar Island informed Das.

Couple of months ago the island was severely affected by the cyclone Bulbul, which left trails of devastation. All the communication was shut down for nearly 2 days due to which there was more appeal for cooked food among the locals and pilgrims who were stuck in the Sagar Island. With a compassionate mind that moment, the ISKCON management envisioned to build a permanent modern kitchen at the Gangasagar which has facilities to stock inventory for couple of days. In case of natural calamities and emergency situations , ISKCON kitchen is capable of instantly rendering relief by supplying food to the affected people, under guidance of local Government

-- Subroto Das (source:


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Ganga Sagar Mela 2020 Invitation


On Makara Sankranti day, miilion of pilgrims visit the holy palce of Ganga Sagar, take Makara Sankranti Snana ( bath at Ganga Sagar) and worship mother Ganga. To facilitate the pilgrims, ISKCON organises a massive Prasada distribution and give in charity blankets etc. Recognized by West Bengal State government, ISKCON Ganga Sagar’s welfare work is very much appreciated and widespread coverage is given in local media. Below is the letter from Sundar Govinda das, Director of the project.

New Year Greetings and the blessings of Lord Sri Krishna to you and your family.

The very first auspicious occasion in the new year is Makar Sankranti and Ganga Sagar Mela. On this day, the Sun God will make northward movement, uttarayana and bring more light and good fortune.

The Matsya Purana states: “On the day of Makar Sankranti, one should feed devotees and the poor sumptuously. Those who make offering on this day are rewarded by Sun-god in many future lives.”

Lord Krishna declares in the Bhagavad-gita (17.20): “Charity given out of duty, without expectation of return, at the proper time (kala) and place (desha), and to a worthy person (paatra) is considered to be in the mode of goodness.”

The place where any charity is given, the time when it is given and the type of recipient of the charity are very important factors. The auspicious occasion of Makar Sankranti, the holy place of Ganga Sagar, and its pious pilgrims present before us an ideal combination, which is a rare opportunity for us to take advantage of and earn immense punya by giving charity. Your good deeds of the past have bestowed you with wealth. When you share your wealth in charity for a deserving purpose, the wealth gets back to you multiple times!

To welcome and accommodate the lakhs of pilgrims, a temporary city is erected on the shores of Ganga Sagar on this auspicious bathing day. Ganga Sagar Mela is the convention of great souls like yogis, pious pilgrims, sadhus, sannyasis, spiritual tourists who come from around the world. Many Sadhus come from various holy places and the remotest forests and mountain caves in the Himalayas. The most popular visitors are the Naga Babas.

The pilgrims and yogis congregate at Ganga Sagar with the complete faith that Lord Sri Hari will send charitably disposed devotees like you to fulfill these basic needs of theirs. We plan to distribute 1,00,000 plates of free prasadam during 7 days of Ganga Sagar Mela charity camp. A plate of prasadam consisting of rice, dal, sabji will cost Rs. 20/- only. Hence we need to raise Rs. 20,00,000/-.

The Vishnu Smriti states, “Lakshmi , the Goddess of fortune, resides in those who are charitable.”

You have always been a generous supporter. A kind-hearted person like you can understand the value of Anna-Dan on an auspicious day like Makar Sankranti day at Ganga Sagar Mela, so I am approaching you for support.

I request you to spare us a few minutes and write a tax-deductible cheque/ Demand Draft in favor of “ISKCON Ganga Sagar Fund”, and forward it to us by registered post or courier to: ISKCON Gangasagar Centre, Rd no. 5, Village & Post: Sagar, Dt. South 24 Parganas, WB. Pin. 743373.

As a gesture of appreciation for your donation of Rs. 1,500/- or more, a special puja and tarpan will be performed on your behalf at Ganga Sagar, which will bring prosperity and success to you. In addition, we will also send you the holy Ganga water collected from auspicious muhurtha of Makar Sankranti Day at Ganga Sagar Mela 2020. You can sprinkle the holy water on your head to get the unlimited blessings of Mother Ganges and Lord Kapila.

Your prompt response will help us to properly plan the prasadam distribution during the festival. Please do not skip this rare opportunity to get the unlimited blessings of Lord Sri Krishna!

For more information, please feel free to contact me or WhatsApp on 973-5333-511/ 987-443-7164 or mail your queries to and copy to

May Mother Ganga and Sun-god bestow you with good fortune in the new year.
Yours in the service of Lord Krishna.

Sri Sundar Govind Das
General Manager of ISKCON Mayapur and Gangasagar Project



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Our beloved “Thakur Maa”

Kolkata, 2020

On the auspicious occasion of Putrada Ekadashi (7th January, 2020), our most beloved ‘Thakur Maa’, mother of HH Subhag Swami eternally entered the kingdom of Lord. She left this world with a peaceful smile. The devotees gathered at that time described the instance and narrated her pastimes. They were astonished to witness the departure of a pure soul. HH Subhag Swami also visited and spoke to her. Thakur Maa was born in a very rich aristocratic family of Bengal (The Bhagyakul Roy Family also known as The Roys of Bhagyakul) in a place called Bhagyakul (near Dhaka, Bangladesh) in undivided Bengal, now in Munshiganj district of Bangladesh. A devotee recalled the first darshan of Thakur Maa, “She had light golden complexion, curly bob hair and her face was shining. She wore golden bangles whose color mixes with her hands.”

Thakur Maa had eight siblings and her father was a very rich salt businessman of Bengal. She was the eldest child and her parents gave her a lot of care and attention during childhood. She was married at an early age to Shri Vinay Kumar Talukdar (Maharaja’s father) and then also she got a lot of love and care. Her father in law, Shri Rasik Chandra Talukdar, always used to eat food cooked by her. Thakur Maa once said, “My father in law ate only when I served him lovingly”.

She was an expert in cooking many Bengali items. As she born in a rich and pious family, from her childhood she used to visit many holy places with her parents, who told her about the Lord and his pastimes in various Thirthas. She was a devotee of the Lord from her childhood and she instilled the same values to Maharaja. She told Maharaja about the Lord, accompanied him to visit local temple, generally RamKrishna Mission, and used to practice all rituals especially the Ekadashi Vrata.

Thakur Maa used to tell the devotees that their Guru Maharaja came from Vrindavan although he was born in Kolkata and the devotees were always puzzled about this secret until once she narrated the following incident when her father had organized a feast for the sadhus. Thakur Maa’s family used to visit Shri Vrindavan Dham regularly and serve the sadhus there. Her father had a temple in Vrindavan, now renamed Mira Bai Temple, and there he used to serve sadhus. One day while her parents were serving sadhus, one of the sadhus looked at Thakur Maa enquired who this lady was, to which her father replied that she was his daughter. The sadhu then said that she is a very nice lady and also very lucky because one of her child will be the deliverer of many conditioned souls. This was naturally confusing for her parents and thinking that she had misheard, Thakur Maa’s mother replied, “Yes, she sleeps a lot and also doesn’t take much food these days”. Thakur Maa was observing this and after the feast she asked her father about the sadhu’s enquiry. So her father told her how the sadhu predicted that she will beget a child who will deliver many condition souls. Hearing this prophecy, Thakur Maa become shy and ran away. After consulting the doctor it was confirmed that she had conceived a child. Thakur Maa told devotees that she knew already that this child will not stay with her.

She said, “You are now seeing that your Guru Maharaja is very silent and shy but he was not like this always. In his childhood days, he used to play in Ganges and do much mischief, crossing from one side to another.” Many times Thakur Maa would get angry with him for spending so much time in playing with friends and used to shout on him to stop playing and return back early, but Maharaja did not.

Maharaja loves his mother very much and always asked his disciples about her wellbeing. When devotees came from Vrindavan, Maharaja asked what they had brought from Vrindavan for Thakur Maa. Sometimes, Maharaja personally told to give something for Thakur Maa. When Maharaja was in a foreign country, he bought a muffler for Thakur Maa which she received from the devotees and became greatly pleased and satisfied. Many times devotees also used to bring gifts for her.

A devotee bought a pair of socks for her once. She asked what was put on her feet that made her feel so warm. Upon realizing that it was a pair of socks, she said that she can’t wear it because she has to work in the kitchen. The devotee requested, “Thakur Maa your legs are very cold” to which Thakur Maa said, ‘Ok, I will wear it sometimes’.

Once on Maharaja’s Vyas puja, Thakur Maa came to Shri Mayapur Dham to grace the occasion and took part in the celebrations in Shri Mayapur Chandrodaya Mandir. Thakur Maa was very happy and everybody was also very happy to serve her. She took prasadam and was very happy during the celebration. Many times, Maharaja was busy and couldn’t give time to Thakur Maa. On one such occasion, Thakur Maa became anxious and told devotees that she wanted to meet her son and requested the devotees to tell Maharaja to meet her, which they did. When she met Maharaja, she became very emotional and held Maharaja tightly, speaking, “You are ok! You are ok! You are ok!” The Devotees also started crying by witnessing so much love between them. Next day, Maharaja was going to Singapore and while going to airport, Maharaja asked Thakur Maa if she wanted to buy something from the mall but Thakur Maa was unwilling to buy anything.

Thakur Maa also love devotees a lot. One day Maharaja took devotees for a boat ride with Thakur Maa and suddenly rain started and he told devotees to come inside the shed in the boat. Then Thakur Maa used to tell everybody to come safely, take care of yourself, and be careful one day. She was so caring and loving to everyone.

Thakur Maa loved devotees a lot. One day Maharaja took devotees for a boat ride with Thakur Maa and suddenly it started to rain and he told devotees to come inside the shed in the boat. Thakur Maa told everybody to come in safely, take care of themselves, and be careful. She was so caring and loving to everyone.

Thakur Maa invited devotees to take prasadam, stay with her and not go away. She was so loving and affectionate for devotees naturally. Thakur Maa always used to feed the devotees with her hands. Thakur Maa always insisted devotees that she will cook and they will eat. Devotees tried many times to serve her but she didn’t take any service or anything from the devotees. Thakur Maa was an expert and she cooked very nicely for the devotees and told devotees that they should cook for their Guru like this, and then they will get the mercy. Devotees asked Thakur Maa what they should bring for her. She asked them to bring sandesh and dahi for her. Thakur Maa always loved the devotees and gave affection and blessings that one day they will please their Guru and will get the love of your Guru.

When Srila Prabhupada came to Kolkata with Maharaja, Thakur Maa came to him. She asked Srila Prabhupada why he had taken her child, and requested him to kindly return him back to her.

Srila Prabhupada asked Thakur Maa, “How many children do you have?” She told, “I have seven children”. Then Srila Prabhupada said, “Thakur Maa you are a tree and you have seven flowers. I am asking you to give me one flower for offering to Lord at his Lotus feet”. To this, Thakur Maa said, “Ok I have given you one flower to offer it to the lotus feet of the Lord, happily”.

Thakur Maa told the devotees that during her marriage, her mother gave her a lot of gold, diamond and pearls. Devotee asked her that what she did with the ornaments? She said, “I distributed it all among my daughter-in-law”. Devotee asked, “Why did you not give anything to Maharaja?” Thakur Maa told them that their Guru Maharaja didn’t want these things and that she gave him Krishna and these things are useless for him now.

Gradually time passed and Thakur Maa become old and unfortunately developed a tumor. Maharaja advised devotees to consult with her brothers and decide what to do and he was a sanyasi and can’t tell everything. Day by day, she got older (she was 99). After a few days, she was again admitted to the hospital. Devotees visited the hospital and Thakur Maa asked devotees what they had brought for her. Devotees told her that they brought Sandesh and she said, “Please serve me Sandesh, they are not giving anything. They are passing food through the pipe.” Devotees said, “Thakur Maa, Maharaja sent charan-amrita for you, please take it.” Next day, Maharaja came to meet her and told a devotee that he will serve her Sandesh, then he should give charan-amrita to her. Thakur Maa came back home but due to cold weather, her condition deteriorated further and due to extreme old age, many problems arose.

On the auspicious occasion of Shri Putrada Ekadashi, Pausa Masa (Shukla) at 4:03 am (Amrita Yoga) Thakur Maa left this world with a peaceful smile on her face. Devotees brought garlands and chandan of Shri Narasingha dev.

Maharaja was informed and was glad to hear she left this world at an auspicious time. Maharaja said that after Srila Prabhupada if somebody is very dear to him, it is Thakur Maa and that she was a pure devotee.


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By Madhava Smullen

If you’re looking for mantra music beyond traditional kirtan – say, a fun, sunny mix of soft rock, folk, and funk via the French Riviera and the Pacific Rim – you might want to try out Confused Soul’s new single “Madhu,” with its sing-alongability and joyful sax refrains. An album, “Riviera,” is set to follow this summer.

Confused Soul came about with the meeting of two minds who found that they had a lot in common. Chandrashekhara Acharya Das, who is half French, grew up in both Los Angeles and Paris. With music in his blood early on – his mother was on the board of directors of the L.A. Opera – he gravitated more towards pop and rock music, and served as lead singer for the bands Village of Peace and 18 Days, performing in front of thousands at the Polish Woodstock festival.

Tulasi Das, meanwhile, was born in New Zealand to a French father and New Zealander mother, and lived around the world in such countries as Singapore, Tahiti and Australia. Trained in classical Western music and playing the oboe from the age of twelve, he branched out into electronic music in university, then learned traditional Indian instruments after joining ISKCON. Since 2015, Harinama Sankirtana has been his main service, from the Yuga Dharma Ashrama in New York City, to Vrindavan’s 24-Hour Kirtan to the streets of Paris.


When Tulasi and Chandrashekhara realized how much they had in common – including musicality, the French language and a desire to spread the Holy Name in France – they decided to go on a two-month sankirtana tour of the French Riviera together in May/June of 2019. 

“We took a small Renault car, filled it with sponsored Bhagavad-gitas, Tulasi’s harmonium and my guitar, and rented Air BnBs as we made our way along the coast,” Chandra says. “Every day, we’d distribute free Bhagavad-gitas to young people on the street, go back to our apartment for prasadam, and then go out again to chant with our harmonium and guitar.” 

In the first few towns, they focused only on chanting the Hare Krishna maha-mantra. But when the well-meaning manager of famous Saint-Tropez restaurant Sénéquier commented, “We love your music, but could you change up the melody and words a bit?” the pair saw an opportunity to better reach the local people.\


Developing a seven-song routine, including different Hare Krishna tunes and other simple mantras, Chandra and Tulasi practiced them daily until after one month, they realized they had enough material for an album.

They decided to name their band “Confused Soul” to honestly express the reality that most bhakti practioners have their daily struggles with bhakti yoga. “Although our hearts and eyes are aimed at the lotus feet of Krishna, it’s not always a smooth ride,” Chandra says.

While it was being recorded in Paris and Montpelier in the South of France, Confused Soul’s album organically morphed from a low-fi acoustic sound into a full soft-rock, folk, and funk album with drums and bass by professional session musicians and saxophone by Ethan, the South African virtuouso who plays with Indradyumna Swami’s Polish tour. 


The first single, Madhu, will be released on digital platforms on January 15th. Featuring the mantra Hari Haraye Namaha, one of Lord Chaitanya’s favorite bhajans, its accompanying video is shot in the heart of Paris and showcases Tulasi and Chandra’s playful dynamic.

The rest of “Riviera” will be released song by song, with a new cut available around every six weeks and the full album out by the summer. The second single, Jaya Jagannatha, will be out in March and will wrap the mantra “Jagannatha Swami Nayana Patha Gami” in jazzy, Parisian chords. It will be accompanied by a video filmed on the banks of the Yamuna in Vrindavan during Kartik season. 

“There are overhead drone shots of a huge face of Lord Jagannath we sculpted in the sand, as well as footage of Tulasi and I cycling a bycle ricksaw in Old Vrindavan town,” Chandra says with a grin. 

Other album tracks include Mangalacharana, from the introduction to Bhagavad-gita As It Is; Nitai Gauranga, which invokes the mercy of Lord Chaitanya; Sita Rama, which utilizes a chord progression popular in Evangelical Christian worship services; and Major, which, as its title suggests, features the Hare Krishna mantra with a major chord progression.


Finally there’s Lenny, a maha-mantra tune that pays homage to Lenny Kravitz – whom Chandra once presented with a Srimad-Bhagavatam set – by drawing inspiration from the chord progression in his song “Be.”

“Most of the mantras we’ve chosen are quite simple, to make it easy for people to get a hold of and sing along to,” says Tulasi. 

To add to the participation element, “Riviera” sees Chandra and Tulasi singing in harmony together, then leaving space for the listener’s response.

The main goal of “Confused Soul” is to reach people who are relatively new, but already have a foot in the door of spirituality. 

“We plan to tour yoga studios in Paris and the South of France in May and June,” Chandra says. “Because the kirtan scene in France is ten years behind that of North America – and I think now is a prime time to enter it.”

The band also want to cater to the devotee audience’s need for a variety of devotional music in different genres depending on their mood.

“We hope to encapsulate the mood of yukta-vairagya – utilizing anything and everything that we can in Krishna’s service, while at the same time not compromising our own personal practice and ‘purity,’” Tulasi says. “And ultimately, we want to show that devotional service, as Krishna says in the Bhagavad-gita, is joyfully performed.”

Watch the video for the single “Madhu” here:

“Madhu” will be available for purchase on Spotify, iTunes, Bandcamp, Soundcloud, and Amazon on January 15th. 

For more information, visit


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Making it to Montreal is always a good venture for me.  Like all visits to various communities, it is special being in the company of old friends, newcomers, and those growing toward new devotional potentials. 

Jay and I and a group of local devotees, including a father and daughter from New Brunswick, took to the sidewalks east of the centreville, to catch some good but cool air, and accompany ourselves with the maha mantra, and chanting on beads.  The walk was in the prime of the afternoon, but with daylight being so brief during these winter months, you wonder, sometimes,  if there even is an afternoon.  
Five-thirty p.m. is the time for the Sunday Open House.  I was invited to lead the kirtan, singing mantras in appreciation of the saintly monk, Chaitanya.  Class followed.  Our dedicated monastic in Montreal is Prana Gauranga, who showed me "the famous verse" (as he put it) from Chapter 2:41 of the Bhagavad-gita to speak from.  It goes like this. 
"Those who are in this spiritual path are resolute in purpose and their aim is one.  O beloved child of the Kurus, the intelligence of those who are irresolute is many branched."
From the above verse, we can appreciate the message of the value of focus.  In the world in which we live, the experience is one of mass distractions, and a sense of concentration on primary functions in life is amiss.
One great aspect of the Sunday Open House is the emphasis on what the soul likes.  The components are mantra, message and meal. 
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In the Srimad Bhagavatam 7 canto it is said: The Supreme Personality of Godhead and His devotee know how to use properly lust, anger, greed, illusion, pride and envy.

In the Bhagavad Gita 3.37, Srila Prabhupada says: “…Therefore the origin of lust is also in the Supreme. If, therefore, lust is transformed into love for the Supreme, or transformed into Krishna consciousness – or, in other words, desiring everything for Krishna – then both lust and wrath can be spiritualized.
Hanuman, the great servitor of Lord Rama, exhibited his wrath by burning the golden city of Ravana, but by doing so he became the greatest devotee of the Lord. Here also, in Bhagavad-gita, the Lord induces Arjuna to engage his wrath upon his enemies for the satisfaction of the Lord. Therefore, lust and wrath, when they are employed in Krishna consciousness, become our friends instead of our enemies.”

Greed is the cousin of lust, but there is a difference: the lusty person likes to enjoy living things, persons and animals; the greedy one, inert things like money, properties. In ISKCON now we will require spiritual greed to please the guru parampara to make in Mayapur Dhama the biggest temple in the world. How does the devotee use illusion? The devotees who distribute Srila Prabhupada’s books are quite expert in using illusion in Krishna’s service, saying to the people, ‘Oh you look a nice person!’

Once I gave a Science of Self-realization book telling him: ‘Oh you look a nice person,you look like the pope Paul the Second. He took out immediately his wallet and gave 100$. Srila Prabhupada said: “You just have to glorify them”. Another time I gave a book to a girl saying: “You have a saintly look”.She at once cooperated.

Pride. Pride comes before a fall. We should be afraid of this kind of pride. But there is a healthy pride, to belong to a family of vaishnavas with so many wonderful acaryas, with all the 26 qualities of a Vaishnava visible in them in a excepcional way.

The Nectar of Devotion, cap. 29 says: “Pride. Expressions of ecstatic love in pride may be the result of excessive wealth, exquisite beauty, a first-class residence or the attainment of one’s ideal goal. One is also considered proud when he does not care about the neglect of others. Bilvamangala Thakura said, ‘My dear Krishna, You are leaving me, forcibly getting out of my clutches. But I shall be impressed by Your strength only when You can go forcibly from the core of my heart.’ This is an instance of feeling pride in ecstatic love for Krishna”.

Once during the rasa dance, when Radharani left the arena and Krishna went to seek Her out, one of the dear friends of Radharani addressed Krishna thus: “My dear Krishna, You have been very much obliging in serving the form of our Sri Radharani, and now You have left all the other gopis to search for Her. Please allow me to inquire how You want Her to treat You.” This is an instance of feeling pride on account of exquisite beauty.

Sometimes Radharani felt pride within Herself and said, “Although the cowherd boys prepare nice flower garlands for Krishna, when I present My garland to Him, He becomes struck with wonder and immediately accepts it and puts it on His heart.”

Similarly, in the Tenth Canto, Second Chapter, verse 33, of Srimad-Bhagavatam, Lord Brahma says, “My dear Madhusudana, persons who are pure devotees of Your Lordship actually feel Your ecstatic friendship, and as such they are never vanquished by enemies. They know they are always protected by You, and so they can matter-of-factly pass over the heads of their enemies without any care.” In other words, one who has taken complete shelter under the lotus feet of the Lord is always proud of being able to conquer all enemies.

One weaver at Mathura addressed Krishna in this way: “My dear King of Vrindavana, I have become so proud of Your causeless mercy upon me that I do not even count upon the mercy of the Lord of Vaikuntha, which is sought after by many great sages in deep meditation.” In other words, although the yogis and great sages sit in meditation upon Lord Vishnu, who is residing in Vaikuntha, a devotee of Krishna is so proud that he does not consider such meditation to be very valuable. This feeling of pride is due to one’s having achieved the highest goal of life – Krishna.

And how to use envy? Once I went to Srila Prabhupada’s rooms in Mayapur Dhama,and HG Harikesa prabhu offered to Srila Prabhupada for his pleasure all the Caitanya Caritamrita in an eastern european language. When I saw those wonderfully binded books,I become transcendentally envious.I thougth: “Just see!, here all the Caitanya-caritamrita in a language that a few million people would speak,and it is not printed still for spanish speakers, who are 500 million”.

In the Padyavali, one of the friends of Radharani once addressed Her thus: “My dear friend, please do not be too puffed up because Krishna has decorated Your forehead with His own hand. It may be that Krishna is yet attracted by some other beautiful girl. I see that the decoration on Your forehead is very nicely made, and so it appears that Krishna was not too disturbed in painting it. Otherwise, He could not have painted such exact lines!” This is an instance of envy caused by Radha’s good fortune.

In the Tenth Canto, Thirtieth Chapter, verse 30, of Srimad-Bhagavatam, there is the following statement: “When the gopis were searching for Krishna and Radha after the rasa dance, they thus began to speak among themselves: ‘We have seen the footprints of Krishna and Radha on the ground of Vrindavana, and they are giving us great pain, because although Krishna is everything to us, that girl is so cunning that She has taken Him away alone and is enjoying His kissing without sharing Him with us!’ ” This is another instance of envy of the good fortune of Srimati Radharani.

Sometimes when the cowherd boys used to play in the forests of Vrindavana, Krishna would play on one side, and Balarama would play on another. There would be competition and mock fighting between the two parties, and when Krishna’s party was defeated by Balarama, the boys would say, “If Balarama’s party remains victorious, then who in the world can be weaker than ourselves?” This is another instance of envy in ecstatic love.

The conclusion is : yukta vairagya, everything can be used in Krishna’s service, except sinful activities.

Om Tat Sat.


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ABC of sattva-guna by Muniraja dasa


Many of us struggling sadhakas know that overcoming laya, sleepiness, during chanting, hearing and meditating is not always an easy thing. Some devotees struggle year after year, regularly wandering in a realms of tamo-guna and sleep while Srimad Bhagavatam-class, japa and gayatri.

Surrendering to Krsna and guru and having their mercy, developing service attitude are the essence for increasing our taste and first appreciation to the process of chanting, but there are several commonsense external things which are also very helpfull for developing the mode of goodness, sattva-guna. Then we can at least stay awake.

There are no hard and fast rules for chanting the holy name, but many rules and regulations are very helpfull for attentive chanting.


Krsna instructs that one should not sleep too much or too little. Young and enthousiastic devotees sometimes artificially sleep too little, and elders sometimes think that since they went for mangalarati for many years, it is not that important to wake up early anymore.

Srila Prabhupada however instructed devotees to wake up latest 04.00 am, and said that if one cannot wake up early in the morning one is not serious about spiritual life.

According to ayurveda hours before midnight are double time effective for recharging our mind and body during the sleep. From 8pm to 2am is better than from 10pm to 4am.

I recall hearing one time mentioning that by avoiding eating at night time, going to bed one hour earlier and waking up one hour earlier than normally one can easily make revolutaniory change in one`s state of mind.

When one wakes up one should wake up determinedly, not moving one`s alarmclock 6 times, shifting back and forth between sleep and semi-sleep for 45 minutes.

Sleeping during the three sandhyas, namely sunrise, midday and sunset is not recommended since they are powerfull times for spiritual practises and one should take advantage of them. Srimad-Bhagavatam also mentions that Lord Siva along with his ghostly associates is wandering around on a time of sunrise and sunset and one may get influenced by sleeping that time.


Since we spend a good percentage of our lives sitting in Bhagavatam class and with japa, there is no loss to spend some time for finding an ideal sitting posture. There is a famous statement from Srila Prabhupada: “Sit properly!” Keeping your spine straight and long is very helpful for staying alert. When your spine is straight, pranas flow naturally. In yoga classes it is often stressed to keep shoulders a little back. Then your bearing is good and spine straight. You can do exercise, look your shadow while you sit either with shoulders front or a little back, see the difference in the posture of your back. But shoulders too much back is not good either. Yoga-experts maybe consulted for more details.

Backing up our lower back to the wall while sitting maybe helpful for someone, but leaning to the wall in a lazy way usually increases sleepiness.

One should sit on an asana, it is stated in sastras that if one chants without asana energies flow out from the body. Sastras especially mention wool, silk and kusa-grass as good material for asanas. Pillows or bedsheets are not recommended.

Keeping a little dais below your sitting bones maybe helpful for good posture also.

And of course if you anyway feel sleepy while sitting, then just walk peacefully.


First of all, don`t eat anything cooked by non-devotees. I recently heard how person had lamented to his guru, how his mind was so difficult to control even after years of chanting. His spiritual master simply said: “Stop eating grains cooked by non-devotees!”. Person followed the instruction and there was great difference in his abitility to concentrate after that.

Prasadam is transcendental, but if we honor large quantities of prasadam in the evening time it usually means difficulties for morning program. Large quantities of waste products or undigested foodstuffs in our body also effect our state of mind, and may increase sleepiness and make us dull and morose.

Too much sugar or grains in our daily diet, especially white flour can also increase sleepiness.


Chant in a clean, nicely ventilated room. Wear tilaka on 12 places of your body and chant the tilaka mantras aloud (not whispering or in your mind). Srila Prabhupada mentioned that if we don`t chant them aloud, our bodies continue under karma. Have clean devotional clothing while chanting. It is also stated that beadbag is place for Krishna’s lila`s, it is polite towards Krishna to have a clean beadbag, one should wash it minimum once a week, no loss to wash it daily.

In general developing cleanliness is very conducive for sattva-guna. Unfortunately during kali-yuga all good qualities are reducing day by day. Especially in western countries where people don`t have any idea of basic points of cleanliness it is sometimes challenge to teach them to devotees also. Devotees who have never lived in community of other Vaisnavas maybe unaware of many basic points, and elder devotees who move out from close association of other bhakti-yogis may little by little become loose in their standards.


When you anyway feel sleepy during your japa or in Bhagavatam class you may try some of following points:

-drink some water
-wash your face with cold water
-take a walk outside
-stand on your head for two minutes(in temple it may cause some confusion…)
-during class one may stand up

Your servant Muniraja dasa

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The degree to which you are able to turn to Krsna while chanting reveals the depth of your relationship with Him and how healthy you are spiritually. If you are unhealthy, you simply cannot turn to Krsna. Your mind will dislike the idea of chanting. It will be very rebellious and everything but Krsna will appear in your mind at that time. Every relationship starts with giving attention, and your relationship with Krsna is no exception. Therefore, you must learn how to chant with attention. It is said in the scriptures that inattention to Krsna is the root cause of all other offences and problems. Thus, inattention to Krsna embodies our main problem in this material existence. We need to fix that – it is most important.

Srila Haridasa Thakura speaks about this: “Even if one successfully overcomes all the other offences in chanting and even if one chants continuously, it may be that one’s love of Krsna does not come about.”(Harinama Cintamani) In other words, it is possible that someone is chanting 120 rounds every day without offences but not have a drop of love of Krsna because they have not cured the root problem – having turned away from Krsna. Unfortunately, this inattention or this turning away from Krsna and trying to enjoy separately is such a deep-rooted problem that Haridasa Thakura says, “Simply by one’s own endeavor the conditioned soul is not able to give up inattention in chanting. No-one can give up distractedness on one’s own strength. Such victory over the material mind can only come about by Your [Krsna’s] merciful blessings.” (Harinama Cintamani)

Therefore, when you feel, “I want to become Krsna conscious! I want to be attentive to Krsna! I want to turn to Him, but everything in my life seems to work against this desire. I’m trying, but maya’s influence is so strong I seem to not be able to shake her off” you must seek the help from Krsna. When you try to concentrate on your japa but all you experience is your body and mind screaming, or when you try to chant in kirtana and your mind fixes on complains such as “This is too loud” or “That person doesn’t sing in tune”, you should understand and recognize your fallen condition. Lord Caitanya gives us the example of how one should pray in this situation: “Oh my Lord I am your eternal servant. But somehow I have fallen into this dangerous ocean of birth and death. Kindly pick me up and like a little particle of dust fix me at Your lotus feet.

I belong only to you, just like the pollen of the lotus flower belongs to the lotus flower but the storm of my own desires has blown me away into the ocean of material death, and now I’m suffering.” (Adapted from Sri Caitanya-caritamrta Antya-lila, 20.32)

The moment you turn to Krsna like this, everything can change. The moment you do this during your japa, it can be the most ecstatic experience – that you won’t want to interrupt. That is because, as Srila Bhaktivinoda Thakura teaches us, the moment we turn to Krsna He says, “Yes! Yes!” and He who sits in all our hearts destroys all fears and personally throws out all contaminations of lust, anger, greed, etc.

Krsna is aware of your every thought. When you turn away from Him He is sad. But He does not give up on you, He walks behind you. The moment you turn to Krsna, He runs before you. And then, for every Hare Krsna that you chant while turning to Krsna, Krsna says, “Here I am.” So the moment you turn to Krsna, He helps you by destroying your obstacles. And it all starts by giving attention to the Holy Name. That is the field where you have to practice. The Holy Name is Krsna’s most merciful form. You have to make it work.

It is an essential need to feel the spiritual connection with Krsna. Without this connection our life is a life of shadows; as if we only eat shadow meals. We cannot be nourished by such kind of eating. If we want to live a real spiritual life we have to see to it that there is spiritual substance, which is based on the understanding that “I’m a soul, a part of Krsna”. When we apply this understanding to our spiritual practice, for instance – in kirtana where we do the familiar activity of chanting with others, we introduce a new element and experience a change. I think all of us know the difference. During such a kirtana the atmosphere in the room is different and the devotees are much more absorbed. However, this is only one aspect – doing your spiritual practices from the right perspective. You also need to learn to take care of the physical, emotional and social aspects of your life from a spiritual viewpoint. Then, a totally new dimension of life will reveal itself to you. If you don’t take a spiritual perspective while fulfilling your worldly duties, your life will not become transformed; it will remain a shadow life. On April 1st, 1966 in New York, Srila Prabhupada spoke about this: “Simple theoretical knowledge that ‘I am consciousness; I am not this body,’ anything, simple theoretical knowledge, cannot help us. Just like a person who studied medical science or law or any technical science. He gets all theoretical knowledge. But if he does not practice, then that knowledge will gradually subside. You see? Similarly, that ‘I am not this body, but I am that pure consciousness,’ that is already analyzed in various ways. But now, we are in practical life.” In other words, after you have received spiritual knowledge, you have to apply it. The challenge each morning is: “Today, how will I engage in the physical, emotional and social aspects of my life from the spiritual perspective and not get lost in them?”

In order to meet this challenge you need every day to connect to yourself as a spiritual soul and come back to the point that: “I’m a part of Krsna and the reason I’m here in this world is to realize this wonderful relationship.” This is the beginning state of Krsna consciousness; the middle state and also the end state of Krsna consciousness. So, every day you need to do something that spiritually nourishes and energizes you. Have you done such practices today? When you ask yourself this question, you have to look at the quality of your sadhana. Was it just the mechanical, dutiful execution of religious practices? Or have you actually been able to contact Krsna and become nourished by that? This question has to be asked every day.

Your spiritual practice must do for you what roots do for a tree – they anchor it firmly in the soil so that when a storm comes the tree doesn’t fall over. In the same way, a devotee must find a practice that makes him or her immovable and nicely centered despite the ‘storms of life’. The best way to do this is to remember throughout the day: “I am simply the servant of the Vaisnavas and Krsna”. Then you are anchored. Here is an exercise that you can do in the evening in order to align your mind in preparation for the next day. When you go to bed, meditate in three steps: 1) “I’m an eternal soul”

2) Think of Krsna and turn to Him with a prayer 3) “When I live my normal life tomorrow, I want to do it in a way that I remain connected to myself and with Krsna. The world in which I’m active is simply an opportunity for me to act on this spiritual platform. This is its reason for existence.”


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Great visionaries by Kadamba Kanana Swami


The Pandavas were not ordinary people in two ways; not ordinary in the sense that they were devotees from birth and not ordinary because they had taken birth in a royal family. It was not just something like the modern royal families. Even in the modern royal families, there is some culture, there is tradition and there are certain standards. People grow up with a certain awareness, “I am supposed to behave in a noble way … where nobility obliges me to do certain things.” In the sense of the Pandavas, that was something very deeply rooted in every fibre of their existence because they grew up in a refined culture which was completely favourable. We know what world we grow up in now, a world that has many twisted values – a misguided, misdirected civilisation.

So now, for us to turn to Krsna means a turn in life, a complete revolution. But for the Pandavas, it was rather the crown of all of their culture and their lifestyle. It was just a further extension of where they were. They were trained to live a life of dharma, to live a life based on scripture. They were trained to protect religious principles and to govern. They had a very broad vision because they were not ordinary people who simply thought of their own interests. They were thinking of the welfare of the society at large. Therefore, they were people with a very big vision – you can say that they were great visionaries. Their vision was not based on their speculation but one that was thoroughly rooted in transcendental knowledge and applied with intelligence.


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Any Colour You Like by Jagabandhu das


My earliest memories of religion in this life are of my father (my first guru) teaching me about the Great Spirit worshiped by American Indians (“Wakan-Tanka” Who also undergoes quadruple expansion just like the all pervading yet personal Vasudev). He also taught me that I should be respectful of other people’s beliefs irrespective of race and creed. And never look down upon anyone. Ever.

Even though his mother, my paternal grandmother was a devout Baptist (my maternal grandmother was a devout Jehovah’s Witness), he wasn’t much of a “church-goer” himself because he felt that the “Church” only wanted your money. Unfortunately, there’s a certain wisdom in this perspective. He nonetheless tolerated my wanting to go to Jesus’s “house”— which meant the local Presbyterian church near our home in 1960s suburban Minneapolis. As a very young child it was within easy unescorted walking distance from our house, right next to the elementary school I started attending as a kindergartner a couple of years later. My young heart drew much comfort and inspiration from the stories of Jesus. And I wonder if the Presbyterian Church of America has need for a Child “Protection” Office (before the Windle Turley lawsuit I never knew that “religious” people could do such horrible things to children).

Our family doctor was Jewish so I became aware of a difference in sacred holidays. Some of my classmates at school were Catholic (which also seemed like a different religion to me). I secretly wished we had such beautiful churches and songs along with wishing that we had little statues of Mother Mary for our car’s dashboard.

I spent summers as a child with relatives in Canada who were staunch Jehovah’s Witnesses (who took me out “witnessing” with them as a small child). And I’ve been impressed by their courage on behalf of God ever since.

From studying world history in school I learned that there were Muslims, Hindus and Buddhists. It never occurred that others should be dishonored for practicing a spiritual tradition different than the one I felt most comfort with. Throughout this life I have had the good fortune of making their varied-Faith/multi-coloured acquaintances and friendships. And their diversified faithful sublime devotions are to me like different colours of a beautiful rainbow shining towards God.

This open-mindedness instilled within me by my father at an early age made it so I was amenable to hear the Supremely Gorgeous Teachings of Srila A.C. Bhaktivedanta Swami Prabhupada as a teenager. By His Divine Grace I would learn what true broadmindedness really was from the great heart of someone so transcendentally magnanimous that he could “build a house the whole world could leave in.” Without being intimidated by other’s beliefs or converting anyone to anything but pure God Consciousness Itself.

Years later from Srila Bhaktivinode Thakur (especially the Bhagavat speech) I learned how to be truly unitarian in my perception of other spiritual traditions and to encourage all to sincerely practice whatever bona fide Faith process which brought them some measure of solace and divine inspiration. And I do not find it appropriate for me to discourage whatever acts of devotion they might subjectively prefer according to accrued internal merit. What to speak of finding fault with their particular belief system.

Although where I live is the bottom of the American “Bible belt” and the “Christian” residents who I mostly associate with are generally arch-conservative Southern Baptists; nonetheless, part of the local tradition of old-fashioned famous Southern hospitality is for the local people to be really friendly to one another and respectful too! Ladies are still politely referred to as “ma’am” and the gentleman are referred to as “sir,” in everyday life. Going into stores people regularly hold doors open for each other. Because of this when complete strangers pass each other going opposite directions on the local motorcar byways it’s common to offer each other a friendly wave from inside each other’s vehicle. To me there’s a certain antiquated (unfortunately) innate sweetness inherent within such affectionately respectful social exchanges. As if every wave is favourable:-) And everyone a friend. With my own petty mind the only enemy which plagues my all my existence. From the womb to the tomb.

Unconditional friendliness towards all jivas reaches it’s zenith and is perfectly exemplified by Srila A.C. Bhaktivedanta Swami Prabhupada and his boundless affection which suffused all his dealings. My favorite story of His Divine Grace is how when a disciple happily remarked, “Srila Prabhupada, everyone likes you!”

Srila Prabhupada beamed his great transcendentally beautiful smile before replying, “That’s because I like everyone.”

With the help of good guidance: if I can remember the immortal advice of Srila Saraswati Thakur that I must consider all others superior to myself and at last conquer the sole (soul?) enemy of my own wicked mind and false ego and be a kindly friend to all (maitrah), then I will encounter nothing but favourable/friendliness everywhere I turn as the whole environment rises up to assist my real inner development in an extremely friendly way which I may in turn reciprocate/reflect affectionately with any and all whom I might encounter. Regardless of temporal embodiment or varying expressions of unique subjective preference of Divine Faith. 


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As devotees, we don't realise the great fortune of being able to wear the attire of a Vaishnava, apply Tilak on our forehead, wear Tulsi beads on our neck, chant the Holynames of Krishna, associate with His wonderful devotees, engage in His service, honour His prasadam, visit His holy dhamas, circumbulate Tulsi, see His holy deities, hear His Katha, participate in His festivals, read His words in the scriptures. These are by no way ordinary activities. These are blessings of an immeasurable kind. What we are given access to and the kind of devotional life we are given a chance to preform is very rare.

Only very very fortunate souls get the fortune to get connected to the Lord through anyone of these activities. Indeed, great demigods long to experience this kind of life. And the best part is that we have been offered all this fortune without any qualification of ours. One time, one disciple asked Srila Prabhupada, "What was our qualification that we got to meet you and took to the path of devotional service?" Prabhupada nonchalantly replied, "You'll don't have any qualification of your own to receive this mercy. I made your qualification." Similarly, none of us are qualified to receive the immense treasure of Bhakti, it was only by the mercy of devotees that we have got entry in this path. Mercy of the Lord comes through the channel of the mercy of His devotees. 

Therefore, let us value this opportunity, cherish each aspect of it and value each moment if it with gratitude, love and eagerness. That is the best way to reciprocate with the Lord for His immense kindness upon us for this fortune beyond our imagination and beyond our qualification. 
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