ISKCON Derire Tree's Posts (13817)

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From Back to Godhead

In a unique form, Lord Krishna is worshiped in a famous temple in Puri, India, and at Rathayatras (chariot festivals) there and around the world.

I was born in a conservative Orissan Vaishnava family in Puri, on the east coast of India. The Supreme Lord Jagannatha and His devotees were at the center of my life. As a child, I played with dolls of Jagannatha, Baladeva (Balarama), and Subhadra, the deities in the famous Puri temple. I still remember how my mother gave me enormous plates of Jagannatha prasadam and told me to always remember the Lord. I saw how the simple and devoted Orissan people—even doctors, engineers, and scientists—never neglect to honor Lord Jagannatha. I watched how the king of Puri becomes a humble servant and sweeps the street before Jagannatha’s cart during the yearly Rathayatra, or festival of the chariots.

Lord Jagannatha may look peculiar and strange to the Western world, but He is the life and soul of the Orissans. Even though I attended the Rathayatra festival for many years in my youth, it was not until I met the devotees of ISKCON that my devotion for Jagannatha deepened. Now Jagannatha is worshiped in many ISKCON temples around the world, and I have grown to see Him as the most merciful and charming person who excuses His devotees’ offenses and attracts them further along the path of devotional service.

Jagannatha means “Lord of the universe.” Many Vedic books mention that Jagannatha is Krishna. Baladeva is His brother, and Subhadra is His sister.

Although Krishna is absolute and transcendental to material nature, to accept the loving service of His devotees He appears before us as the deity in the temple, in the form of stone, metal, wood, or paint. Jagannatha is a wooden form of Krishna.

Because Jagannatha does not look like Krishna, people may wonder how He can be Krishna. Scriptures tell the story behind Jagannatha’s peculiar form.

Jagannatha’s Transcendental Advent

The Skanda Purana relates King Indradyumna’s quest to find a deity form of Krishna after dreaming of a beautiful blue deity named Nila Madhava. The name describes the sapphire color of the deity: Nila means blue, and Madhava is one of Krishna’s names. King Indradyumna sent messengers in all directions to find Nila Madhava, and a brahmana named Vidyapati returned successful. He discovered that Vishvavasu, a pig farmer (savara) in a remote tribal village, was secretly worshiping Nila Madhava. When Vidyapati later returned to that place with Indradyumna, however, Nila Madhava was gone. King Indradyumna surrounded the village with his soldiers and arrested Vishvavasu.

Then a voice from the sky proclaimed, “Release the savara and build a big temple for Me on top of Nila Hill. There you will see Me, not as Nila Madhava, but in a form made of neem wood.”

Nila Madhava promised to appear as wood (daru), and thus He is called daru-brahma (“wood-spirit”). Indradyumna waited by the ocean, where the Lord arrived as a giant log floating toward the beach.

Disguised an old man, Vishvakarma, the architect of the demigods, arrived to carve the deities under the condition that he would remain undisturbed for twenty-one days. King Indradyumna consented, and the artist worked behind locked doors. Before the time period was up, however, the noise stopped, and King Indradyumna’s intense curiosity prompted him to open the doors. Vishvakarma had disappeared. In the room, the three deities of Jagannatha, Baladeva, and Subhadra looked as if unfinished—without hands or feet—and Indradyumna became greatly perturbed, thinking he had offended the Lord.

That night, Jagannatha spoke to the king in a dream and reassured him, explaining that He was revealing Himself in that form out of His own inconceivable desire, to show the world that He can accept offerings without hands, and move around without feet.

Lord Jagannatha told the king, “Know for sure that My hands and feet are the ornament of all ornaments, but for your satisfaction, you may give Me gold and silver hands and feet from time to time.”

Devotees now worship the same “unfinished” forms of Jagannatha, Baladeva, and Subhadra in Puri and in temples around the world. These forms are part of their eternal pastimes.

Transformed by Rohini’s Talks

The Utkala-khanda of the Skanda Purana gives another account related to Krishna’s appearance as Jagannatha. (Utkala is the traditional name for Orissa.) Once, during a solar eclipse, Krishna, Balarama, Subhadra, and other residents of Dwaraka went to bathe in a holy pond at Kurukshetra. Knowing that Krishna would be there, Srimati Radharani, Krishna’s parents Nanda and Yashoda, and other residents of Vrindavana, who were burning in the fire of separation from the Lord, went to meet Him. Inside one of the many tents the pilgrims had set up at Kurukshetra, Rohini, Lord Balarama’s mother, narrated Krishna’s Vrindavana pastimes to the queens of Dwaraka and others.

The residents of Dwaraka are said to be in the mood of opulence (aishvarya), and they worship Krishna as the Supreme Lord. But the residents of Vrindavana are in the mood of sweetness (madhurya), and they have a confidential relationship with Krishna that surpasses awe and reverence because it is based on friendship and love. Rohini’s narration was thus extremely confidential, so she posted Subhadra at the door to prevent anyone from entering.

Krishna and Balarama came to the door and stood on Subhadra’s left and right sides. While listening to Rohini’s narration of Krishna’s intimate Vrindavana pastimes, Krishna and Balarama became ecstatic, and Their internal feelings were exhibited externally. Their eyes became dilated, Their heads compressed into Their bodies, and Their limbs retracted. Seeing these transformations in Krishna and Balarama, Subhadra also became ecstatic and assumed a similar form. Thus, by hearing about Krishna’s pastimes in Vrindavana, Krishna and Balarama, with Subhadra in between, displayed their ecstatic forms of Jagannatha, Baladeva, and Subhadra.

The Lord’s Highest Ecstasy

According to the Skanda Purana, the Jyeshtha-purnima, the full-moon day of the month of May-June, is the birthday of Jagannatha. Jagannatha is Krishna, but Krishna’s birthday is Janmashtami, in the month of Bhadra (August-September). This apparent contradiction is resolved if we understand that the Jyeshtha-purnima is the time when Krishna appeared in the form of Jagannatha with big, dilated eyes and shrunken limbs. This is known as mahabhava-prakasha, the ecstatic form of Krishna. Mahabhava means “the highest ecstasy,” and prakasha means “manifestation,” so Jagannatha is literally the ecstatic form of Krishna.

The poem Mahabhava Prakasha by the Oriyan poet Kanai Khuntia describes the confidential meaning behind the form of Jagannatha: He is the embodiment of Krishna’s pangs of separation from the residents of Vrindavana, particularly Radha and the gopis. Scriptures explain that intense feelings of spiritual ecstasy, especially in this mood of separation from a loved one, produce transformations in the body. Since Krishna is not different from His body, His internal feeling showed externally, and He assumed the form of Jagannatha.

The ecstasy of mahabhava is compared to an ocean. In the pastime with King Indradyumna, a giant log floated on the ocean. Similarly, the forms of Jagannatha, Balarama, and Subhadra float on the ocean of mahabhava.

When the sage Narada saw Krishna transformed as Jagannatha, he prayed to the Lord to appear like this again. Although the Lord is not obliged to anyone, He reciprocates with His devotees to fulfill their desires. In Garga Samhita Krishna states (1.27.4): “I am full—all the epics in one. Yet I surrender to the wish of My devotee and come in whatever form he wants.” Thus, just as Krishna appeared as Nila Madhava to satisfy Vishvavasu, He appeared in the deity form as Jagannatha and resides in Jagannatha Puri to satisfy the desire of Narada Muni.

This special form of Krishna is also known as Patita Pavana, the savior of the fallen, and anyone who takes His audience with proper consciousness is awarded spiritual liberation.

Jagannatha as Krishna of Vrindavana

Although Jagannatha is often identified with Krishna of Dwaraka, in the mood of opulence, His actual but confidential identity is as Krishna of Vrindavana, the lover of Radharani. The Jagannatha Chaitanyam says, “Radha stays in the heart of Jagannatha, and so does Sri Krishna.”

Krishna is known by His relationships, especially with the residents of Vrindavana, and devotees sometimes refer to Jagannatha in this way. Jagannatha is considered the consort of Radharani, who associates with Krishna only in His mood of Vrindavana. The ecstasy that resulted from Krishna’s love for Radharani caused Krishna’s transformation into the form of Jagannatha.

The Oriyan poet Banamali sings, “O Jagannatha, Yashoda’s dear foster son, Your Radha is like the chataka bird, drinking only the pure raindrops You shower as Your grace.”

In Vrindavana, Krishna assumes the graceful three-fold bending form (tribanga-lalita), and He wears a peacock feather and plays His flute. The Jagannathashtakam (verse 2) identifies Jagannatha with this mood: “In His left hand Lord Jagannatha holds a flute, on His head He wears peacock feathers, and on His hips He wears fine yellow silken cloth. From the corners of His eyes He bestows sidelong glances upon His loving devotees, and He always reveals Himself through His pastimes in His divine abode of Vrindavana. May that Jagannatha Svami be the object of my vision.”

The poetess Madhavi-devi, the sister of Ramananda Raya, writes in one of her songs: “The tender, sweet verses of Sri Gita-govinda bearing the name of Radha are woven into the khandua [pieces of cloth worn by Jagannatha each evening], which Lord Jagannatha holds close to His limbs.”

The Chaitanya-Chaitanya explains that Krishna came as Chaitanya to understand Radharani’s mood. During Rathayatra He danced in ecstasy in front of Lord Jagannatha (Krishna) to get His attention. In reply, Jagannatha consoled Him: “I never forgot any gopis or gopas, and especially You, Srimati Radhika. How can I forget You?”

Narada Muni revealed to Gopa-kumara in Brihad-bhagavatamrita (2.5.212–214): “Eternally as dear to Sri Krishnadeva as His beautiful Mathura-dhama is that Purushottama-kshetra. There the Lord displays His supreme opulence and yet charms His devotees by acting like an ordinary person of the world. And if you are still not fully satisfied after going there and seeing Him, then at least stay there for some time as the means to achieve your desired goal. Of course, your ultimate goal is pure love for the lotus feet of Krishna, the divine gopis’ life and soul—love that follows the mood of the Lord’s own Vraja-bhumi. You seek no other goal than that.” Love for Jagannatha is krishna-prema, love of Krishna, which is our ultimate goal. Krishna has become available to everyone in the form of Jagannatha.

Since Lord Jagannatha is none other than Krishna, His abode is equal to Vrindavana, where Krishna performs His childhood pastimes. Jagannatha Puri—also called Purushottama-kshetra, Sri Kshetra, and Nilacala (“the place of the blue mountain”)—contains all of Krishna’s Vrindavana pastimes (lilas), although they may be hidden from material eyes. The Vaishnava-tantra states, “Whatever lilas of Sri Krishna are manifest in Gokula, Mathura, and Dwaraka are all found in Nilacala, Sri Kshetra.”

By having the proper spiritual vision—eyes anointed by pure love of Godhead, krishna-prema—one can see all the pastimes of Krishna there.

Jagannatha is no one else but the ecstatic manifestation of Krishna, who appears in His most merciful form to help us go home, back to Godhead. Therefore, Srila Prabhupada has introduced the Jagannatha Rathayatra in many cities around the world to uplift the conditioned souls from the spell of maya (illusion). Let us take advantage of the occasion.

Source: http://www.dandavats.com/?p=18226

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From Back to Godhead

When Krishna leaves Vrindavana to become the ruler of a great kingdom, He remains the same Krishna, the treasure of His devotees’ hearts.

The Krishna deity worshiped at the Hare Krishna temple in Los Angeles, where I live, is named Dvarakadhisha, “the Lord of Dvaraka.” Dvaraka is the pristine island Lord Krishna rules in His adult years. (Although Krishna lived in Dvaraka when He was present on earth five thousand years ago, Dvaraka exists eternally in the spiritual world. Therefore, in this article I’ll sometimes use the present tense when referring to Dvaraka and Krishna’s activities there.) Generally devotees of Krishna think of Him primarily as the Supreme Personality of Godhead who speaks the Bhagavad-gita and performs wonderful spiritual pastimes in the cowherd village of Vrindavana. In that rural setting, He plays and enjoys life among many relatives and friends. Gaudiya Vaishnavas, or followers of Sri Chaitanya Mahaprabhu, know that Krishna as a cowherd boy exchanges the most intimate feelings with His devotees. Still, Krishna is always Krishna, and devotees love Him when He displays Himself in other ways as well. For example, He is also endearing in His role as Dvarakadhisha.

Krishna is no ordinary ruler. Kings or presidents represent what is grand and powerful in this world. Yet even the finest and most awesome personality is only a small indication of the opulence of the Supreme Personality of Godhead. His very body is constituted of eternity, knowledge, and bliss.

Though Krishna as Dvarakadhisha enjoys many sporting battles, He has no one to conquer and nothing to achieve, being always complete in Himself. He always knows exactly what to do in His regal duties in relationship to His citizens, ministers, and soldiers. His brows are never furrowed with the anxiety of diplomatic responsibilities.

Though Krishna rules as an adult, He is in fact nava yauvanam, eternally youthful. According to Brihad-bhagavatamrita, by Sanatana Goswami, the king of Dvaraka has “all of the beauty of youth made even sweeter by traces of childlike innocence.”

As a ruler, Dvarakadhisha has only the best of motives. His only objective is to defeat demoniac influences and protect His surrendered, pure devotees. His authority is original and inexhaustible. To obey His authority is the primary nature of every living being.

An Extraordinary Kingdom

Srila Prabhupada’s book Krishna: The Supreme Personality of Godhead describes Dvaraka as the most superb and beautiful city in the history of the world. The island of Dvaraka is decorated with 900,000 extraordinary mansions built of first-class marble, with gates and doors made of silver and jewels. The clear blue-green ocean lies on all sides. The residents of the mansions, all pure devotees of Krishna, are of very fine beauty.

Dvaraka’s innumerable gardens and parks are full of a variety of sweet, colorful flowers, and orchards abound with an array of fruit. Beautiful chirping birds, intoxicated peacocks, and ponds filled with lilies and lotuses delight the senses. The residents decorate every lane and walkway with water pots, festoons, banana trees, and fragrant flowers, just in anticipation of Krishna’s strolling there.

Srila Rupa Goswami’s Bhakti-rasamrita-sindhu describes, “The servitors in the abode of Dvaraka always worship Krishna as the most respectable and revered Personality of Godhead. They are captivated by Krishna because of His superexcellent opulences.”

From Brihad-bhagavatamrita we learn that although Dvarakadhisha is truly the absolutely powerful king of kings, enjoying in all opulence, He is also humble, friendly, and full of unlimited love. His devotees, in a mood of ecstatic servitude, awe, and reverence, are absorbed in loving sentiments for their Lord.

One such devotee is Sri Rukmini, the single most exalted feminine personality, the Lord’s principal queen. She is an expansion of God’s pleasure potency, so she is God incarnate in female form, full of every feminine grace and virtue possible. She exhibits exquisite beauty specially designed to please the Lord of Dvaraka.

Sri Rukmini is always fully satisfied with Her Lord and submissive to Him. She understands His every mood and keeps within her heart the details of His childhood and youth. Although hundreds of qualified maidservants attend to His every need, She fans Him Herself, holding the snow-white chamara in her young bejeweled hand. Jealousy and anger never beset her.

An Extraordinary King

In His youth, Krishna left Vrindavana and traveled to the city of Mathura, where He assumed His leadership role in the Yadava dynasty. He fought with and killed the most feared despot of His time, Kamsa, and released His parents from Kamsa’s prison. He then built a fort on the island of Dvaraka and transferred all of the citizens of Mathura there to protect them from the attacks of Kamsa’s ruthless relatives who sought revenge.

Shortly thereafter Lord Krishna kidnapped His queen, the young princess Rukmini. Her brother had arranged a marriage for her as part of a political alliance. But she only wanted Krishna as her husband, so she requested Him, through a messenger, to come to her aid. Kidnapping a princess was common for kings in those days, but Krishna did this single-handedly against an army of angry, heroic princes. Krishna took the hand of many other superbly beautiful, opulent princesses in various daring ways. He rescued 16,000 princesses being held captive by the cruel king Bhaumasura. He married every one of them and provided each a royal palace on the island of Dvaraka. For many hopeful lifetimes of penance and austerity they had prayed for Krishna’s favor upon them.

The Nectar of Devotion states, “While Krishna was living in Dvaraka, He expanded Himself into 16,108 forms, and each and every expansion resided in a palace with a queen. Not only was Krishna happily living with His queens in those palaces, but He gave in charity from each palace an aggregate number of 13,054 cows completely decorated with nice clothing and ornaments daily. This means that 13,054 multiplied by 16,108 cows were being given in charity by Krishna every day. That was the system of Krishna’s daily affairs while He was living in Dvaraka.”

Many amazing battles took place between Krishna and a variety of rival demoniac kings. King Jarasandha, Kamsa’s father-in-law, attacked Dvaraka with numerous military phalanxes consisting of tens of thousands of chariots, horses, elephants, and soldiers. Krishna observed the immense strength of Jarasandha, which looked like an ocean about to cover a beach at any moment. He thought about the situation and His mission to rid the world of demoniac influences, so He took this opportunity to face and destroy the military phalanxes.

Subsequently Lord Balarama, Krishna’s brother, arrested Jarasandha. Krishna feigned compassion for Jarasandha and had him released, but He had a plan: Jarasandha would in the future besiege the city of Mathura seventeen times, and each time Krishna and Balarama would be able to destroy hundreds of thousands of demoniac soldiers. Jarasandha himself was eventually defeated in a fight with Krishna’s cousin Bhimasena.

The Syamantaka Jewel and Other Episodes

Because of intrigue involving a jewel known as Syamantaka, Krishna was once wrongly defamed. The Syamantaka could produce gold by its mystic power. Many people coveted the jewel, and when it went missing, some people accused Krishna of stealing it. The jewel was actually in the hands of persons who could not properly take care of it and were almost driven mad by its potency. One citizen finally surrendered both the jewel and his daughter to Krishna, having come to realize that all valuable things are the measure of Krishna’s benevolence and should be offered in His service.

One crazy rival named Paundraka was so jealous of the superexcellent qualities of Krishna that he became convinced that he himself was Krishna. He set out to defeat Dvarakadhisha by donning an extra set of arms and carrying imitation weapons only wielded by Vishnu Himself. Declaring himself to be God, he set out to kill the Lord. Eventually Krishna beheaded Paundraka, who achieved liberation for having meditated so intensely on the Personality of Godhead in his meager attempt to be Him.

Lord Dvarakadhisha’s fellow king and cousin Maharaja Yudhishthira once held a great sacrifice, which included a ceremony to honor the best person in attendance. Although Krishna was posing as an ordinary king, Yudhishthira adored Him as none other than the Supreme Personality of Godhead, and so he selected Him to be honored and worshiped in the ceremony. But Krishna’s envious cousin Sishupala disagreed with Yudhishthira’s decision and berated Krishna, who eventually cut off Sishupala’s head with His disc and allowed Sishupala’s soul to merge into His own body.

During Dvarakadhisha’s reign, part of His mission was to enthrone His great devotee Yudhishthira, religion incarnate, as emperor of the world. The Lord of Dvaraka acted as a peace messenger on Yudhishthira’s behalf to try to prevent the war with the ill-motivated Kurus. When negotiations failed, Yudhishthira’s brother Arjuna employed the Lord as his chariot driver in the battle. At that time, Lord Krishna, His head adorned with a golden helmet, spoke the Bhagavad-gita to Arjuna to enlighten him (and us) and encourage him in the fight. The Lord was fully capable of fighting the battle and winning it at once for Arjuna. But He wanted to serve and glorify His devotee Arjuna by engaging him to fight as a matter of Krishna conscious duty.

Most Amazing Events

If Krishna’s reign as a king seems full of amazing events, just consider how amazing He seems to His reverent, respectful servants at Dvaraka. They are often surprised by His unpredictability. They remember when Sudama, Krishna’s friend from His school days, came to visit. Krishna’s guards and wives witnessed what looked like a homeless person going into the Lord’s rooms unchecked. To their wonder they saw how Krishna reacted with spontaneous love at the sight of His dear old friend.

Though Sudama was very thin and dressed in shabby cloth, Dvarakadhisha embraced him, sat him down on His own bed, and bathed his feet while Rukmini fanned him. When Sudama shyly offered Krishna his only possession, a bag of plain dried rice, Dvaraka’s queens observed with amazement the way the Lord took the rice as though it was the most irresistible gift.

More cause for surprise is found in Uddhava-sandesha, where Rupa Goswami says that Dvarakadhisha becomes emotional by remembering His family and friends in His old cowherd village home. He misses them too much. He asks Uddhava, His cousin and closest friend, to deliver a message to them from Him. Though a king with many wives and a great kingdom to govern, to Uddhava’s amazement the Lord remembers every person and detail that Uddhava will encounter when he tours the cowherd village.

Perhaps the most surprising event occurred at a great festival held at Kurukshetra during a solar eclipse, when the residents of Dvaraka met the residents of Vrindavana. The simple Vrindavana cowherds felt extremely fortunate to see Krishna again. From within their hearts they spontaneously recalled all of Krishna’s childhood pastimes. Though unhappy seeing Him dressed as a king, they could not think of going back to Vrindavana without Him, so Krishna stayed in Kurukshetra longer than He had planned. Upon seeing the simple villagers’ love for Krishna, the residents of Dvaraka felt great ecstasy. The Jagannatha Rathayatra festival commemorates this pastime. In Krishna, Srila Prabhupada writes, “The Rathayatra festival observed by Lord Chaitanya is the emotional process of taking Krishna back to Vrindavana.”

The King of Kings

Krishna is not a material person, and His actions are not the activities of this world. His unique, unrestricted pastime of rejoicing in the association of His simple cowherd family and friends is at the heart of Gaudiya Vaishnavism. Lord Chaitanya teaches that above reverential worship of God is pure love in the most intimate relationships, such as friend, son, or lover. If the Lord sets aside His kingly worship in awe and reverence for the sake of Vrindavana’s sweet, familiar, and spontaneous love, it is only another example of His transcendent love as the God who is the loyal devotee of His devotees.

Krishna is the original supreme enjoyer. To meditate on Him as the king of kings is solid spiritual nourishment. It helps us understand the unlimited dimensions of pure power and pure love in their original spiritual forms. Dvarakadhisha’s pastimes give us transcendental insight into the love, potency, and compassion of the greatest spiritual hero and leader of all eternity.

Source: http://www.dandavats.com/?p=18229

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By Damodarlila dasa, Maharashtra Padayatra leader

Since the India-wide lockdown was announced in March 2020, the Maharashtra Padayatra has been under the shelter of the Sawantwadi ISKCON centre. The devotees here have been taking good care of us, especially temple president Vasusresta dasa. As we can’t leave the centre due to the lockdown, we have faced a shortage of grains and grocery items. After one of the morning programmes, I discussed the issue with congregation devotees Avadhut Krishna dasa and Govindananda dasa. Govindananda’s classmate is the mayor of Sawantwadi, so Govindananda invited him and his team to the centre where they all had darshan of Sri Sri Nitai-Gaurasundar. The mayor gave a donation of 50kg of rice and wheat, and five litres of oil as well as pulses. He was glad to have darshan and said, “If you need any help, please let me know and pray that the Covid-19 pandemic runs away from our country.” We gifted everyone the Bhuvaikuntha book by our spiritual master, Lokanath Maharaja, and other small books.

The next day Sawantwadi deputy mayor Annapurna Koregaokar came for darshan. She donated 25kg of rice, 3kg of pulses and some groceries. She also provided us with hand-stitched face masks and some jackfruits for Their Lordships saying, “This is for the Lord specially from the village side.” We thanked madam by gifting her Maharaja’s Bhuvaikuntha book and Srila Prabhupada’s small books. We were happy to receive the guests and we thanked the Lord for sending us their help. But that was not the end. Ex-Sabhapati Mr Mangesh Talwanikar visited the centre and donated 25kg of rice and pulses and oil. He was also pleased to have darshan of Their Lordships.

Our morning programme is going on regularly with more chanting and more reading. Daily before chanting we read our Gurudev’s book, Japa vidhi Guru nidhi, which helps us to have more attentive and absorbed chanting. Sometimes we padayatris give class and sometimes the congregation devotees give class. In the evening daily kirtan is from 5pm to 6pm as part of the holy name global sankirtan to eradicate the virus. Then we have Bhagavat-gita class and also sing Vaishnava bhajans and read their translation.

Read Krishna, hear Krishna katha daily

One month ago, I read that Prabhupada says, “Every night before going to sleep, read Krishna book, hear Krishna katha. If you are attached to this hearing, then by reading, reading, regularly, one day when you are going to sleep remembering all these things, maybe in a dream Krishna can come. This is perfection.”

I shared a thought of reading the Krishna book daily with other padayatris and they all said haribol. Since then we read the Krishna book every evening before we sleep. The lockdown has given us more time to read the scriptures.

Fodder and shade for our oxen

Congregation devotee Devakiputra dasa has a cow at his house, so mercifully when he was ordering fodder for his cow he also ordered for our oxen. He loves our oxen and takes their darshan when he comes to the centre. He recently donated his house to the Sawantwadi centre. Four years ago, Lokanath Maharaja came here and everyone took prasad and took photos with him in the courtyard. Now in the same courtyard we tie our oxen and Devakiputra’s cow to the big tree there. Recently the cow gave birth to a calf and they named her Ganga. A special sweet made form the colostrum of the cow was offered to our Nitai-Gaurasundar.

Fresh green grass for our oxen

Namacarya dasa, an agricultural officer, stays few kilometres from the centre. Daily on his bicycle he brings green grass for our oxen. They eat dry fodder regularly now and I feed them green grass daily. Namacarya takes so much effort. The oxen enjoy the grass and Namacarya spends much time loving and caressing them.

Source: http://www.dandavats.com/?p=74515 & http://www.padayatra.com/the-lord-shows-he-is-everyones-ultimate-caretaker/

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By Sakhipran Devi Dasi

During these trying times of the pandemic, for devotees who are not working and stuck at home, ISKCON Nashik, India, is offering a great opportunity to participate in an online Chaitanya Caritamrta contest (CCC-2020). 

Part one of the contest consisting of Adi-lila has already been successful wherein nearly 400 devotees from all over the word (India, UAE, Australia, USA, Canada, Qatar etc) participated. The contest was conducted online on May 3rd, 2020, based on the verses & translations of all the seventeen chapters of Adi-lila and/or lecture series by Krishnadhan Das on ISKCON Nasik's official Facebook page Iskcon Nashik - Sri Sri Radha Madan Gopal Temple (official)

The participants expressed great joy to be able to spent their quarantine time in such wonderful way, reading Chaitanya Caritamrta. It reminded them of how Lord Chaitanya Mahaprabhu appeared to illuminate the whole world on the dark night of full lunar eclipse.

On their requests, Krishnadhan Das and Gokul Mahajan Das are planning to conduct similar contest tentatively on the 21st of June for Chaitanya Caritamrta Madhya-lila, details of which will be made available on ISKCON Nasik's official Facebook page.

(Those who do not have the Chaitanya Caritamrta book set, can purchase it online or read at Bhaktivedant vedabase Bhaktivedanta Vedabase.)

Source: https://iskconnews.org/iskcon-nashik-india-organizes-caitanya-charitamrita-contests,7364/

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Cyclone hits Sri Mayapur

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Dear devotees, please accept our humble obeisances. All glories to Srila Prabhupada!

Amphan, the strongest cyclone ever recorded in the Bay of Bengal, reached Sridham Mayapur on Wednesday’s evening. The wind gusts were very severe, reaching the speed of 160km/h, accompanied by torrential rain and tumultuous sounds.

The community devotees were informed of the approaching cyclone and recommendations were given of how to prepare for the forthcoming nature’s disaster. Sarasvati Nagar was expected to be most affected by the cyclone as there are many tin-shed houses there. The Mayapur community leaders therefore had made an arrangement that the devotees owning such tin houses could stay in the brick buildings of other community members.

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In the morning, after the winds somewhat subsided, the assessment of the community and campus was performed by Mayapur management. Everyone was relieved to know that the Deities, devotees and cows were all well. Although many big trees were uprooted or snapped in half, blocking the roads, damaging fences, walls of the buildings and electrical poles, there was no major damages to the campus. Signboards, temporary fences, tin sheds and massive tree branches were scattered on the ground. The cleaning of the campus commenced immediately, with many devotees and departments personnel involved.

The Radha Madhava Temple reported no damage, the seva to Their Lordships continues uninterrupted. The TOVP reports no damage of the temple and the construction site.

The Goshala too, reported no damages and all the cows are safe. The Mayapur Elephants are safe as well, as they were kept under the shed for the duration of the cyclone. However, lots of trees on the elephant’s premises were fallen and it will require significant effort to clear them up.

In the Sarasvati Nagar sector, two tin houses lost their roofs, while several devotees reported that they did not get any sleep as they had to pull the roof down in the night, so it doesn’t get ripped off by the wind.

Many residential sectors of Mayapur also report absence of electricity. Unfortunately, that might continue for a prolonged period of time, while the government attempts to reinstall the fallen and damaged transformers and electrical lines.

60 Russian devotees were stranded in Mayapur due to Covid-19 pandemics. They needed to leave Mayapur this morning for their repatriation flight from Kolkata. There was lots of anxiety if they will be able to reach Kolkata, as even the local road outside the campus was blocked by the fallen trees. However, with the prompt help of the local management, these trees were removed to give way to devotees’ bus. We wish them a safe travel and pray that they can reach their destination without any further hindrance.

All glories to Sri Guru and Gauranga!

Your servant Subheksana Das,

on behalf of Mayapur Administrative Council.

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Source: https://www.mayapur.com/2020/cyclone-hits-sri-mayapur/

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I was inspired to walk upon the sun’s movement in the western sky.  I couldn’t see the glowing disc itself for the trees, the buildings and the time but I could perceive it through the colours it left.  It was a mix of warm colours, from reds, to pinks to an almost purple.  I wanted to gaze at it for some time but my measly mission was to walk.  And for that I must watch the sidewalk, the curbs, the traffic and the pedestrians.
 
Oh yes, you really have to be cautious about pedestrians.  And as they are watching your directions you must see where they angle.  It’s called social distancing.
 
At the furthest point of my evening trek, the intersection of Christie and Bloor, across from Baskin Robbins ice cream, I sat on a curved concrete ledge for a break.  A curious kind, a young man, sat next to me.  I slid over honouring the distance required and smiled.
 
“Oh don’t worry.  I’m immune!” he said.
 
“But I may not be!” I said in defense.
 
“What are you doing?”
 
“Relaxing.  I just finished chanting a mantra called gayatri.”
 
“Teach me,” he mildly asked.
 
“Here’s a card and on it is a mantra for peace.”
 
He tried.  “Hare Krishna!”
 
“Can you teach me another?”
 
“Try this one, ‘Govindam adi purusham...’ I’ll give you something more simple.  Om!”  He did well with that.  He was colourful like the sky I saw earlier.  He pulled out a can of Budweiser beer, then a cigarette and lit it.
 
“You’re not going to stay immune for too long when you do those things,” I advised.  He shrugged his shoulders.  I let him know I have to return to where I came from.

Source: http://thewalkingmonk.blogspot.com/2020/05/tuesday-may-19-2020.html
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“They [the masses] must have their illusions at all costs; they turn instinctively, as the insect seeks the light, to the rhetoricians who accord them what they want. No truth, but error has always been the chief factor in the evolution of nations…. The masses have never thirsted after truth. They turn aside from evidence that is not to their taste, preferring to deify error, if error seduces them.” (Gustave Le Bon, 1995: 132).

The advent of ‘modernity’ saw the eradication of the ancien regime with the king being the manifestation of society and the direct link to God, the undermining and overthrow of the clergy followed by the Industrial Revolution caused a reconfiguration of values. The glitter of capitalism, propounded by the material success of the West, has indeed caused social, political and psychological upheavals. Dichotomies that once created order and structure, like the public/private divide, or even gender for that matter have been challenged and mutated.

For centuries man has been growing deluded by wealth and the material, but the disintegration and degeneration of society caused by this materiality is reaching a turning point. The plague of natural disasters, the growing numbers of civil wars, the increase in refugees, the global recession, inabilities of governments to provide basic amenities to the poor and security to nations are signs of the effects of how through the propagation and promulgation of greed and aspiration for material greatness, society greatly suffers. But what goes down must come up at some point. Life is such, the changing of the seasons, the rise and fall of the tide, the rising and setting of the sun, the escalation and contraction of the heart are but mere examples of nature’s course.

From the perpetual rise of social movements people are becoming more aware of the fallacy of nationalisms as a unifying entity and the world is torn asunder by attempts at unity. This reveals that people are hankering for ‘an homogenous’. Religion has been suppressed, and it is now time for it to fight to come up for air, like the proletariat against the repressive order of the bourgeois during the French Revolution. The proletariat for years was a silent, underground movement. Immense planning and preparation ultimately culminated in the overthrow of the King, aristocrats and nobles, and formalized equality became the new unifying mean.

Srila Prabhupada’s ISKCON is taking such a form. It is a wave that is silently creating tremors the world over. The cumulative effects of simultaneous activities that are attracting growing numbers of people across the world will soon have the effect the French Revolution had. As in France, inequality was abolished, there was the introduction and implementation of democracy and creation of a constitution that all religiously abide by. Likewise, the Krishna Consciousness Movement will strike with such a force that illusory mechanisms will dissipate, and the following of the four regulative principles, chanting of the maha-mantra and obedience to the teachings of the Bhagavad Gita will be the attractive cohesive force. Society will once again exist with Krishna being the locus of all activities. This can be achieved by three processes, instructions of the guru, the importance of chanting and the power of vaishnava association. Or as Gustave Le Bon states in his mass psychology of crowds; affirmation, repetition and contagion.

Unlike the ancien regime wherein the king represented the link between man and God and the clergy were secondary to the king, in a Vaishnava society, the invert is true. The guru/sannyasa is the link between man and God – he occupies the topmost position in society and is the unifying figure. In Krishna Consciousness, the instructions of one’s guru is one’s spiritual life force, (as perfectly depicted by Srila Prabhupada). The guru, leaning and affirming the teaching of previous acharyas and desiring the rapid spread of Krishna Consciousness, instructs His disciple to fulfill a certain order.

The chanting of the Hare Krishna maha-mantra in the age of Kali-yuga, is the prescribed method of love of God. Once accepting a guru and accepting the vow of chanting a minimum of 16 rounds per day, one begins his spiritual journey full steam ahead. Srila Rupa Goswami states that once acquiring a taste for the holy-name, one desires thousands of tongues to chant and taste its sweetness and millions of ears, shaped like the ear of a calf, to drown in the sweetness of the holy name.

The effect of chanting is, one, more chanting and two, service. In terms of the former, the more one’s mind is engaged in chanting the more consumed one’s mind becomes in chanting. Srila Prabhupada gives the example of his uncle who traded in the textile industry and who owned a textile shop. For several decades he would, from his shop, shout of the prices of the textiles so much so that even in his sleep he would shout the price of textiles. Likewise, when one’s mind becomes consumed in chanting and Krishna consciousness, one is able to mentally think about Krishna 24 hours a day. Thus, the power of repetition is due to the fact that the, “repeated statement is embedded in the long run in those profound regions of our unconscious selves in which the motives of our actions are forged. At the end of a certain time, we have forgotten who is the author of the repeated assertion, and we finish by believing it.’”
The latter ties-in with the third aspect – contagion.

The contagious attitude of service is initially contracted by unconsciously being the servant of the servant of the servant of the servant. It is by the mercy of the devotees that one is actually able to render service, however menial to the Lord. The association of the devotees is imperative for the contagious attitude of service, and is depicted in:

vancha-kalpa-tarubhyas ca
kripa-sindhubhya eva ca
patitanam pavanebhyo
vaishnavebhyo namo namah

“Just like a desire tree, a Vaishnava can fulfil all the desires of anyone who takes shelter of his lotus feet.” Chanting of the maha-mantra is a humble plea for service and the devotees are the enablers of the effects of chanting. Without the mercy of the devotees and the mercy of one’s guru, spiritual life becomes devoid of an essence and ultimately implodes. Chanting and service is thus a dialectical process, a process that will debilitate and later disintegrate if one-way whatsoever. The gopis perfectly depict this. Not only do they chant the maha-mantra but the leaders of each cluster of gopis enable one another to serve the Divine couple. The culmination of their efforts is the pleasure that Sri Radha-Krishna derive from their efforts which brings the greatest joy to their heart of hearts. Chanting and service thus pulls one further into the mellows of service, but this gentle and ecstatic centripetal force, in addition, creates a community of sincere devotees, willing to upkeep his vows to his guru and give his life, in whatever way, to the propagation of ISKCON. Thus through the acceptance of a guru and his instructions, the mental and verbal occupation of chanting the maha-mantra and the association of devotees, or as Le Bon states, through affirmation, repetition and contagion – crowds are formed.

The peasantry of the French Revolution slowly developed and gathered its forces, but ultimately struck with such a force that the face of the world changed politically, morally, socially and economically. Similarly, but with a greater outcomes, ISKCON is slowly and cautiously sinking its roots in countries, cities and towns the world-over, but soon, the Movement will be a rage that will obliterate any materiality whatsoever and society will exist is a state of pure utpoia, in a state of perfectly practiced Krishna consciousness.

Source: http://www.dandavats.com/?p=9071

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“How is our existence in the material nature? Very beautiful, very wonderful. [laughter] Full of promises and full of excitement, full of opportunities. But that is the influence of the Lord’s illusory potency. We are suffering, but we consider this suffering condition to be joyful. The reality is this material existence is full of suffering. And the thing is, the more we try to enjoy, the more we end up suffering. Therefore, saintly people in the past, they used to voluntarily accept austerities, difficulties. Enjoyment leads to suffering, so now you reverse the process: voluntary acceptance of suffering will lead to enjoyment. But that is not actually the cure for the suffering condition. The suffering condition is threefold. What are the threefold miseries? Adhyatmika, adhidaivika and adhibhautika. The sufferings caused by body and mind, they are known as adhyatmika. The suffering caused by other living entities is called adhibhautika and the suffering caused by the demigods or sufferings due to natural calamities [adhidaivika]. Now can anybody avoid these threefold miseries? [audience: no] Life itself is full of suffering. It is all designed for suffering. Janma-mrityu jara-vyadhi-duhkha-dosanudarshanam, this is duhkha, duhkha means suffering, sorrows. [Bg 13.9] So this is the materialistic way of life. We are suffering but we are actually thinking we’re enjoying. The little bit of enjoyment that comes is only a transient thing. We get some so-called enjoyment that comes out of sense gratification. When our senses are gratified, when our mind’s desires are fulfilled, we call it enjoyment. But the actual condition is a miserable suffering condition. Don’t you also sing every morning, samsara-davanala-lidha-loka? This material nature is like a forest fire. We are burning in a forest fire, samsara davanala. Generally we don’t really understand this suffering condition. We don’t understand what the reality is, until and unless we come across a saintly person, a person who is situated in knowledge, he actually gives us the real understanding. You see, simple considerations: a saintly person makes us aware how we are designed to suffer here, how we are meant to suffer here. Therefore, we must try to get out of this situation.”
His Holiness Bhakti Charu Swami, Lord Krishna’s Pastimes Outside of Vrindavana, 29th May 2016, European Retreat, Island of Iz (Croatia), Morning Session

Source: http://www.dandavats.com/?p=29868

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Wednesday morning, after clamoring aboard a United 747 Jet, I flew over the Pacific Ocean, crossed the international dateline, and landed in Tokyo, Japan at 2:30pm Thursday afternoon.

Ten minutes before our jet landed in Tokyo, our chief purser asked the passengers - who had been without sunlight for nearly eleven hours - to open their window shades.

The instant the passengers opened the shades we were treated to a most magnificent sight: the green earth below with all its majesty and variety.

I was surprised at how jubilant I felt simply by seeing the earth and the light of the sun!

After being deprived for only a few hours, my senses were already starving for sunlight, air and tangible variety.

Living in the material world is like flying in the fuselage of a jet where one gets only indirect light and an intangible taste of variety from a television screen. Since the material world is a mere reflection of reality, the so-called happiness we perceive here is faint, unsatisfying, and frustrating.

Bhakti yoga opens the window shades of our senses, letting in the light and variety from the spiritual world, revealing the unlimited possibilities for enjoyment that come from meeting Krishna, our divine source and reservoir of all pleasure and variety.

One glimpse of the festival of happiness that is the spiritual world turns the bhakti yogi’s mind toward going there.

Author John O'Donohue writes:

“Once the soul awakens, the search begins and you can never go back. From then on, you are inflamed with a special longing that will never again let you linger in the lowlands of complacency and partial fulfillment. The eternal makes you urgent. You are loath to let compromise or the threat of danger hold you back from striving toward the summit of fulfillment.” (John O'Donohue, Anam Cara: A Book of Celtic Wisdom)

And in Srimad-Bhagavatam, Sri Narada Muni in his teachings to his disciple Vyasadeva, describes the nature of his own awakening:

“O great sage, as soon as I got a taste for the Personality of Godhead, my attention to hear of the Lord was unflinching. And as my taste developed, I could realize that it was only in my ignorance that I had accepted gross and subtle coverings, for both the Lord and I are transcendental.” (SB 1.5.27)

Hear and chant about Krishna daily as doing so opens the window of one’s senses to the light of the spiritual world and awakens the desire in one’s heart to again embrace the ground of the spiritual world.

Source: http://www.dandavats.com/?p=47247

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How can we chant in a way that it makes us forget the material world and run to Krsna? When you sit down to chant, there will be moments in which you notice that your mind wandered somewhere else – ‘Uuups, I was thinking about my shopping list, that I have to close this deal to get more money and that Suresh Patel said something bad about me – well, he can just wait – I will show it to him!’ You will notice, ‘Where was I? I am sitting here in saintly company, chanting, but what happened?’ What happened, my dear devotees, is that your mind went away because there was not enough taste and you went to material subjects. Understand this: you are where your mind is. A student may sit in a class, but if he is absent-minded and thinks of his next outing with his friends, the teacher will say, “Hey, hey, what was I just talking about?” “I don’t know.” You are where your mind is. Therefore, we chant a mantra, which also means vehicle, something that transports the mind to another place if we connect the mind with it.

For most of the time modern people are not present in what they are doing, they are “spaced-out”. When you chant, the first thing you need to do is to catch the mind whenever it wanders. ‘Oh, where was I? Where was I for so long my dear Krsna? I was absent from You. For so many long years I have forgotten You, my Lord, even in kirtana I am not with You. Oh, where is my mind going!’ So, when you chant you are very lucky if you notice, ‘Oh, my mind was absent, I must bring it back.’ Only then, you will really be sitting in the kirtana. If your mind is somewhere else, then it has transported you to another place. Therefore, focus, concentrate!

And in order to bind the mind to the chanting, you must give up illusory attachments to this world. If you are convinced, with genuine humility, that no one and nothing, not your money, not others, can save you, you can chant without interruption. You must go to Krsna, only He can save you. And for this you have to practice a little detachment. We know one of the offences against the Holy Name is to maintain material attachments. They will pull you in the opposite direction of where you want to go. You are an awakening soul, you want to go to Krsna. Srila Bhaktisiddhanta Sarasvati Thakura names four illusory attachments a chanter must give up: first of all a strong love for the material world, secondly, identifying with the material body, thirdly, attachments to anything other than Krsna and fourthly serving maya. Now I know you think, ‘Oh Maharaja, why are you saying all of this in the morning? You are destroying my whole day! I have so many attachments and you tell me I should give them up. I just started building a new house…’ I know that it is difficult. You have to sit down with your mind and address it, “My brother mind, I want to become a devotee. I want to break out of the chains of maya. Material life has only given me repeated birth, death and misery. So, dear mind, can we speak?” The mind will reply, “Not if you tell me to give up attachments.” You can answer, “No, I will tell you something you will like. See, I have to tell you something very serious. Everything that comes into being in this world also dies. Nothing is permanent. We also have to die one day. Please, see that the attachments in our heart that you cultivate are like intoxication. For a moment an intoxicated man is very happy, but then, when it wears off, he is ill, unhappy and destructive. Be practical, these things don’t bring satisfaction, they don’t bring eternal bliss and knowledge. Please understand this. And now please come into the kirtana with me. Only the kirtana, nothing else. Sit with me, I have something wonderful for you: the Holy Name. Just absorb yourself in the Holy Name, it will be very nice.”

Srila Bhaktivinode Thakura says, “O bird of my mind, you always fly everywhere. I have brought something very beautiful for you, the Holy Name and when we chant it, Krsna will help us. Bird of my mind, come, sit and eat this food of the Holy Name. And remember, the day will come when they will carry us to the funeral pyre and our son will put fire into our mouth and we will not be able to chant. Now you have a tongue, eat the fruit of the Holy Name, it is most ecstatic. Stay with me, mind.” And my dear devotees, just by this attitude, in western philosophy it is called the via positive, which means “the positive way”, you will be successful. If you only have the via negetiva, the way of the negation “No attachments, no sense enjoyment!” it will be very difficult. But sankirtana is such that even an unqualified person will benefit just by combining the mind with Krsna in His most merciful form: the Holy Name. You must only practice this one thing: don’t be absent minded when you chant, don’t run away from the Holy Name, don’t turn your back to Him. No, when you chant, have this motivation: I will now turn to Krsna in the form of His Holy Name. The deity (the Holy Name) is identical with Krsna. And you can expect miracles. So my request to you is, when you sit in the kirtana, please be present minded, tell your mind “For the next few hours, please stay with the kirtana.” And all of a sudden you will experience an inexplicable transformation.

From a lecture by Sacinandana Swami in Nairobi, Kenia, September 29th, 2018.

Source: http://www.dandavats.com/?p=71207

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By Madhava Smullen 

According to NPR, fear of food shortages during the COVID-19 pandemic has spurred people on to plant more vegetable gardens; while community supported agriculture programs (CSAs) are booming.

In New Vrindaban, West Virginia, ISKCON’s first rural community which Srila Prabhupada earmarked as an example of sustainability to the world, resident devotees have a headstart, and are using the pandemic to push themselves closer to their goal of self-sufficiency.

A few weeks ago, responding to an impetus by the GBC and the ISKCON Ministry for Cow Protection and Agriculture, members of the ISKCON New Vrindaban and Eco-Vrindaban boards and New Vrindaban Village Council formed a small working group to explore New Vrindaban’s food security needs, and see what they could do to enhance food security in the short term.  

Allegra Lovejoy Wiprud, a board advisor for ECO-V, graduate student at Yale Forest School and founding member of the Sacred Ecology Forum, says, “Many rural areas do suffer from food insecurity as practices of farming, food storage, and local-food diets have been supplanted over time by consumption patterns dependent on the mass supply chain. This food insecurity is often paired with economic insecurity, leading to a rural hunger crisis in many parts of America, which is exacerbated at times like this.” 

Of course, New Vrindaban is fortunate to have had a focus on farming and rural food security for many years. To begin with, the ECO-V farms and staff, headed by General Manager Ranaka Das, supply a great deal of produce to the temple and community. 

Read more: https://iskconnews.org/new-vrindaban-residents-grow-gardens-for-food-security-amid-covid-19,7361/

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Took A Chance by Bhaktimarga Swami

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I took a chance, a risk… It was starting to sprinkle. Tiny drops from the sky made polka dots on the stairs.
 
I had finished one of those live-stream presentations on Iskcon Toronto’s Facebook page on the topic of “The Art of Forgiveness,” then joined our crew for the pot-banging in support of health caretakers after which I decided to put in my allotted time for my daily trek. 

Whether those polka dots were going to stay for seconds or if they were to fill in to be a solid wetness on the concrete surface, I was determined to walk. My clothes might get drenched, my socks get soggy, it didn’t matter to me at that point. I just had to go and do myself the favour of a regular work out. It would mean a better sleep and that circumstantially would transpire into better service for the next day.

If I were to get wet due to Indra’s mercy it would mean that the god of rain was pushing me to move faster in order to keep warmer. Anyways, adventure is good. It hardly rained. As I said, I took that chance. I let Krishna do the doing and being the ultimate IN CHARGE. I felt He will roll out all things in the way He wants. It’s actually His choice. It’s simply a moment of surrender. In fact for just that one hour (of walking) that it took it was an attempt at surrender.

That is the feature of the day that should dominate. Surrender is the act of letting go. It is a very liberating mindset—one that is difficult to master. Simply the effort has to be made and then whatever is lacking from the participants part becomes compensated by His merciful contribution. He fills in but we can’t take His generosity for granted.
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Mothers by Kisori Gopika Devi Dasi

Courtesy of Covid-19, the sky-high prices of vegetables and having to contend with dried-up herbs pushed us to start our own little garden. My husband was planning about organic fertilizers, timings for watering and ensuring adequate sunlight. However, as I fingered the fertile soil; I realised that the nutrients and strength that Mother Earth provides to those plants was being ignored. We focus on the externals; we praise the gardener’s skills, the fertilizers, right timings of water and sunlight. Yes, these are all important; but we do not see the invisible work of Mother Earth; how she supports these vegetables to flourish. Sadly, this also applies to mothers in our society.

Aside from bringing up a child to be independent in a terribly competitive and materialistic world, a devotee mother plants and waters the seed of Krishna Consciousness in her child. Sure, whether the child becomes a devotee or not depends on the mercy of Radha and Krishna. But the mother (and father of course) is responsible in teaching God consciousness to her child. Srila Prabhupada had instructed that women’s duty should be to take care of the children. So many women in our society quit their jobs to focus solely on the upbringing of their children and welfare of their family.

A mother’s daily activities are perceived as mundane; she simply prays, cooks, cleans and takes care of her child on a daily basis; however we cannot perceive the love and care of the mother in the sound of the child’s gleeful laughter, we cannot perceive the patience and resilience of a mother in keeping the house clean every-day, we cannot perceive her discipline and determination in practising her own Sadhna when she devises ingenuous ways to bring up her child in Krishna Consciousness. Because her activities appear so repetitive and mundane, a woman’s voice and reasoning is ignored because she is deemed as lacking the professional clout to handle any problems and it is expected that her world is limited to waiting on her children and collecting air-tight containers…how petty-minded; even worse when some women, even in our society, are subject to domestic or verbal abuse. They are looked down upon, ignored and treated with irritation by their close ones. This leads them to loneliness, depression; so much depression that they lose taste for spiritual life.

How can we help such women? Should we tell that they need to fight against their loved ones until the latter respects them. Some women are forceful so they can demand respect, but some are not; they are meek and quiet and wouldn’t dare voice out their feelings. They need to understand that what they are going through is their karma and the result of living in this material world. Luckily, Srila Prabhupada has the answer.

SB 2.9.3

Yarhi vava mahimni sve parasmin kala-mayayoh rameta gata-sammohas tyakvodaste tadobhayam

As soon as the living entity becomes situated in his constitutional glory and begins to enjoy the transcendence beyond time and material energy, he at once gives up the two misconception of life (I and mine) and thus becomes fully manifested as the pure self.

Srila Prabhupada explains how one can be freed from the control of the material nature by surrendering unto the Supreme Lord, but if there is no surrender, then the living entity will never be able to control the material nature. So, he stresses on the need to be firmly situated in the transcendental loving service of the Lord.

There are so many examples of devotees surrendering to Krishna and the Lord coming to their rescue. For instance, Draupadi was brought in front of the assembly of the Kurus to be mercilessly humiliated by Duryodhana and his brothers. As Dushasana tried to strip her naked, she desperately clung to her saree with one hand and held out one hand crying out for Krishna. She had begged for help from her glorious husbands and her righteous elders, but everyone was powerless. Finally, she realized that she could not help herself either and holding out both arms, she cried out for Krishna. Only then did Krishna supply her with unlimited amounts of cloth to cover herself.

Secondly, on the auspicious day of his wedding, Vasudev was imprisoned and he promised Kamsa that he would bring each of his new-born child to the demoniac King. Imagine the pain of seeing one’s child being murdered in front of one’s very eyes and being imprisoned for nineteen long years. Vasudev could have fought with Kamsa but he had faith and he did not want to interfere in the Lord’s plan. Krishna did come to kill Kamsa and save Vasudev although it happened as per his own sweet will.

What is the point of such pastimes of Krishna? These pastimes are meant to give us hope and to inspire us. Circumstances of the material world and our own karma will push us against a wall and make us feel like there is no solution. It will make us feel all alone and that we have been deserted by Krishna. This is how mothers especially those who are ignored, belittled or who suffer verbal and physical abuse, feel.

How to cope?

As mothers we need to come to terms that we will not be valued for our invisible contribution and we will be happier once we stop expecting recognition from our immediate family. To face the fruits of our karma and material nature, we must empower ourselves through our Sadhna. The best armour for a mother is her spiritual practices. Srila Prabhupada speaks of the material body being overcast with five kinds of miserable conditions, namely ignorance, material conception, attachment, hatred and absorption. By worshipping the Lord, glorifying the Lord, hearing Srimad Bhagavatam, rendering service and being always in the association of devotees, we will gradually rise above these miserable conditions. It also helps to have a trustworthy friend with whom we can confide our difficulties. This will relieve the heart of sadness.

We need to realise that we may not get recognition from our immediate family but ultimately, we are rendering service to Krishna through our family and we are earning Krishna’s recognition. All that is happening to us is only Krishna’s doing. We have fallen in love with a very mischievous Lord and his ways are the same as his four-bending form. It will never be straightforward.

Isvarah paramah krsnah Sac-cid-ananda-vigrahah Anadir adir govindah Sarva- karana-karanam (Brahma-samhita 5.1)

Let us obey the Supreme Lord, whose hand is in everything, without exception.

Source: http://www.dandavats.com/?p=85708

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Srimati Rukmini Devi: My initiation

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On August 15, 1968, in Montreal, I was initiated at the age of 16-an unqualified person meeting such a great and unprecedented saint as Srila Prabhupada. At the same time, the six pioneers from San Francisco, on their way to London received their Gayatri mantra, or second initiation.

To listen to the transcript of my initiation, please click on this link: https://prabhupadavani.org/transcriptions/initiation-rukmini-dasi/

Written transcript begins here:

[Yamuna starts kirtana with “Hare Krsna.”

Prabhupada: Vandanam. Vandanam. Vandanam.

Yamuna: What?

Prabhupada: Vandanam Prayer?

Yamuna: [indistinct]

Prabhupada: Yes.

Yamuna: [indistinct] [Prabhupada leads devotees in Vande ‘ham].

vande ‘ham sri-guroh sri-yuta-pada-kamalam sri-gurun vaisnavams ca
sri-rupam sagrajatam saha-gana-raghunathanvitam tam sa-jivam
sadvaitam savadhutam parijana-sahitam krsna-caitanya-devam
sri-radha-krsna-padan saha-gana-lalita-sri-visakhanvitams ca

[I offer my respectful obeisances unto the lotus feet of my spiritual master and of all the other preceptors on the path of devotional service. I offer my respectful obeisances unto all the Vaisnavas and unto the Six Gosvamis, including Srila Rupa Gosvami, Srila Sanatana Gosvami, Raghunatha dasa Gosvami, Jiva Gosvami and their associates. I offer my respectful obeisances unto Sri Advaita Acarya Prabhu, Sri Nityananda Prabhu, Sri Caitanya Mahaprabhu, and all His devotees, headed by Srivasa Thakura. I then offer my respectful obeisances unto the lotus feet of Lord Krsna, Srimati Radharani and all the gopis, headed by Lalita and Visakha.]

Chant.

[Yamuna starts leading Hare Krsna kirtana. Prabhupada chants prayers to the six Gosvamis by himself] [13:37]

Read more: http://www.dandavats.com/?p=77838

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HG Padmakshi Vinodini Mataji and HG Govinda Vallabha Mataji (from Left to Right)

For the warriors of COVID-19

Reported by Dr. Chetan Hazaree

We often hear that devotees live a life of mature compassion. They perform multifarious activities out of their compassion for the welfare of all living entities. While performing these compassionate acts, their vision is set on serving the Supreme Lord and begging for mercy, not for themselves, but for others. Each mature devotee performs different acts of compassion according to his inclination and capacity.

With the striking of COVID-19, the entire humanity was brought to its knees. It tamed the very false-ego and pride of humanity that was making humans think as if they are marching towards undefeatable immortality. A small virus has the capacity to make the entire humanity’s arrogance surrender. Many individuals and organizations stepped-in organizing efforts of varied scales to help. These individuals and organizations demonstrated material compassion, caring for body and shelter of hungry and homeless humanity.

Grappled by the question of what best can be done for humanity, two relatively old but very strong and special souls dedicated to Hari-bhakti attempted an innovative solution. They undertook a special Yajna. This special Yajna was designed to last for 50-days, each day requiring attentive service of 12-14 hours. The fruits of this offering were dedicated to spiritual well-being and good health of the Honourable Prime Minister of India, The Medical fraternity, The Police forces and many others who are parts of the army fighting the battle against the pandemic of COVID-19. When repeatedly asked about the inspiration, the source of strength and courage to undertake such an intense Yajna, HG Govinda Vallabha Mataji (82 Years) and HG Padmakshi Vinodini Mataji (78 Years), both residents of Kharghar, Navi Mumbai. very reluctantly revealed the details.

“The world came to a literal standstill. We have never seen such a thing in our entire life. You see, there is no answer that medicine has for this disease. But there are spiritual solutions” said the grave voice of HG Govinda Vallabha Mataji. Recalling the teachings of the five-year old Prahlada to chant Harinam, she said people in general, being bewildered by the illusory energy of the Supreme Personality of Godhead, are always engaged in animosity toward one another. Quoting the words of Lord Shiva to mother Parvati “just see how all these living entities have been placed in danger because of the poison produced from the churning of the ocean of milk” she told that the devotees, even at the risk of their own temporary lives, try to save others. She with her deep penetrating eyes further said. “You see what has humanity churned and what poison it has produced”. She knew the essence – it was difficult for her memory to remember where exactly this is said in Srimad Bhagavatam.

Another pair of grave eyes of HG Padmakshi Vinodini Mataji were lost in trance, as if witnessing these narrations live. Coming to this world as if in an emotional jerk, she said, “Krishna! Your name is the only shelter”. This appeared as if she is reciting the second verse of shikshashtakam, which states that O my Lord, Your holy name alone can render all benediction to living beings, and thus You have hundreds and millions of names like Krishna and Govinda. In these transcendental names You have invested all Your transcendental energies. There are not even hard and fast rules for chanting these names. O my Lord, out of kindness You enable us to easily approach You by Your holy names, but I am so unfortunate that I have no attraction for them.

“What best could we do? How could we apply what we have learnt? How much could we do in this ripe old age? The compassion of both the Matajis was contemplating on these questions and intensely praying to their spiritual master, HH Gopal Krishna Goswami Maharaja. The prayers were answered in the form of a unique inspiration when we discussed the idea with our shiksha guru HG Vaishnavanghri Sevak Prabhu, who gave us a plan to implement this idea, both shared. So, let us hear what vow they undertook.

These two Matajis, who are dedicated to serving their istha deva – Sri Sri Krishna Balaram with great determination and faith undertook the Yajna of chanting 10 Million i.e. One Crore Holy Names in 50 days. Yes, this means chanting a minimum of 2 lakh names per day. Divided between the two, it comes to 1 lakh names per day, which means 64 rounds, by each one of them. Chanting contemplatively with the emotions of compassion and prayers, it took 10-12 hour every day for each of them. These were beyond their ardent and elaborate daily services to their Lordships Sri Sri Krisha-Balaram.

Both selflessly, humbly, tolerating the tests and tribulations of their bodies at their ripe age and with complete surrender happily chanted for 50 days continuously. On completion of the chants, under the guidance of HG Vaishnavanghri Prabhuji, both Matajis meditated on Lord Krishna in the form of Parmatma (Hrishikesha) situated in everyone’s heart and offered the results of their chanting to the intended recipients for their welfare and success. HG Vaishnavanghri Prabhuji said the results (yajnaphala) will straight way reach the recipients through the transcendental connect of Parmatma, the common factor between recipients and the Matajis!

What a silent Yajna (service)!

What an inspiration and spiritual direction!

What a fruitful utilization of life for the well-being of all!

Source: http://www.dandavats.com/?p=85717

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By Madhava Smullen

When Ghanashyam Das first began his chaplaincy service in New York City, little did he know that he would end up on the frontlines of a global pandemic, risking his own health every day to provide spiritual and emotional support for patients dying of Coronavirus.

Ghanashyam, now 42, joined ISKCON in 2000 at 26 2nd Avenue in New York, the movement’s first ever temple. Later, he moved to the Bhakti Center in Manhattan, where he lived as a monk for eleven years, and where his empathic nature saw him serve as counselor and mediator for his fellow brahmacharis.

This led to a post as assistant chaplain at Columbia University, and then, at students’ request, as official chaplain at NYU. So when he decided to change ashrams and move into family life, it made sense to Ghanashyam to learn how to do what he loved for a living. 

Beginning in 2014, he took a year of Clinical Pastoral Education at Belleveue Hospital, which included training through regular patient visits as well as academic processes to learn listening and empathy skills. He then interviewed for a paid chaplain residency at New York-Presbyterian Hospital – ranked the number one hospital in New York City, and number five in the nation – and was hired the very same day. 

Upon conclusion of his one-year residency, the supervisor of the chaplaincy program liked Ghanashyam so much that she created a position for him as assistant to the supervisor, helping to train new residents. Finally, in 2018, he was hired as a full-time palliative care chaplain at the main branch of New York-Presbyterian in Manhattan, tending to patients suffering from serious illnesses or dying. 

Read more: https://iskconnews.org/devotees-on-the-frontlines-of-covid-19-chaplain-ghanashyam-das,7360/

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Even when there is duty, we have to see what will be the effect of the duty. Not everything should be done very blindly. This is devotee. Devotee means he’s not blind. Yasyasti bhaktir bhagavaty akincana sarvair gunais tatra samasate surah. (SB 5.18.12) [“All the demigods and their exalted qualities, such as religion, knowledge, and renunciation, become manifest in the body of one who has developed unalloyed devotion for the Supreme Personality of Godhead, Vasudeva.”] Bhagavad-bhakta means he will act in such a way that all is qualified; nobody can criticize him. That is bhagavad-bhakta. Sarvair gunais tatra samasate surah.

We have many instances. Raghunatha dasa Gosvami was a very rich zamindar’s son, and there was trouble between the minister of the state and his father and uncle. They were zamindars, raising revenues to the extent of twelve lakhs, and only four lakhs was going to the Nawab. So, this was the business. The minister came to arrest Raghunatha’s father and uncle, and they fled away from home. So the minister arrested Raghunatha dasa Gosvami. At that time he was not Gosvami; he was a grihastha, young man, Raghunatha. So, he handled the matter in such a nice way that the matter was settled between the minister and his father. The idea is although he was Vaishnava, he was not a fool in how to manage an estate. It does not mean that a Vaishnava will be fool because he’s Vaishnava. No. Vaishnava has twenty-six qualifications. One of the qualifications is daksa: he must be very expert in doing things very nicely. Not that because one is Vaishnava he’ll be callous in worldly things. No. Therefore I repeatedly request the management that you must be very expert in managing these temple affairs. Everything should be to the right point. Not a single farthing should be wasted. A Vaishnava must be daksa, expert in everything. This is no excuse, that “I have become a devotee; therefore I am callous to all material things.” What material things? Nirbandhah krsna-sambandhe yuktam vairagyam ucyate. (Bhakti-rasamrta-sindhu 1.2.255) [“When one is not attached to anything but at the same time accepts everything in relation to Krishna, one is rightly situated above possessiveness. On the other hand, one who rejects everything without knowledge of its relationship to Krishna is not as complete in his renunciation.”] Anything in relationship with Krishna is not material; it is spiritual. Don’t think this temple is an ordinary building. It is Vaikuntha. Cintamani-prakara-sadmasu. Krishna has His house, prakara-sadmasu. Sadma means house. So we should take very, very careful attention that this temple is kept very nicely, managed very nicely. Not that “I have become Vaishnava. Let everything be stolen or spoiled or broken. I have become Vaishnava. I cannot take care. That is not my consideration.”

Everything in relationship with Krishna is Krishna. Krishna is the advaya-jnana, Absolute Truth. Krishna and His name, His house, His devotees, His everything—nama rupa guna lila parikara vaisistya, everything.

—Srila Prabhupada, talk on Srimad-Bhagavatam 1.7.40, October 1, 1976, Vrindavan

Source: http://www.girirajswami.com/?p=15831

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I was asked to speak on the topic, “The Art of Forgiveness” on one of those zoom calls for Sunday so while on my walk today to deliver a small packet of what we call mahaprasadam, some blessed sweets, to Subuddhi on her 85th birthday, I thought about the subject of forgiveness.  In a way I was preparing myself for some thoughts I could convey on the broadcast.

What did come to mind was a song that came on the radio, a tear-jerker, from when I was 8—a song by Brenda Lee, “I’m sorry!”—a love song, of course.  There’s one line “Please accept my apology,” which is so heartfully expressed from her voice.  Now if I could only say it with feeling to those I’ve offended in the past.  We all owe apologies to someone…

What also came to mind while walking through those residential streets were the words uttered by warrior, Arjuna, to Krishna, asking for forgiveness due to being overly-familiar.  Verse 11.41–42:

“Thinking of You as my friend, I have rashly addressed You ‘O Krishna’, ‘O Yadhava’, ‘O my friend’, not knowing Your glories.  Please forgive whatever I may have done in madness or in love.  I have dishonored You many times, gesturing as we relaxed, lay on the same bed, or sat or ate together, sometimes alone and sometimes in front of many friends.  O infallible one, please excuse me for all those offenses.”

In this instance Krishna had just revealed His cosmic form and it came to light that Arjuna’s actions were somewhat informal, too casual or disrespectful.
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Lord Caitanya’s magnanimous desire was to bless the whole world with His infinite mercy by displaying His most sublime lila of tasting and widely distributing the supreme fruit of love of God, Krishna prema. He thus desired to engage all willing souls to help Him distribute His sublime gifts everywhere. To fulfill his divine desire, Lord Nityananda Mahajan became the chief distributor of this transcendental harvest of pure love through the chanting of the nectarean Holy Names of Lord Krishna, the Hare Krishna maha-mantra. And Lord Nityananda forever continues to fulfill Mahaprabhu’s merciful desire by empowering so many worthy devoted souls with Gaura-shakti, the divine force to awaken bhakti in all hearts.

Among so many glorious dedicated servants of Gaura-Nitai, Srila Bhaktisiddhanta Saraswati Thakur was specially chosen as the perfect transmitter of the pure Gaura-vani to contemporary mankind. Nurtured by his own exalted father Srila Sacidananda Bhaktivinode, he imbibed from him the deepest compassion for all of suffering mankind. He then dedicated every ounce of his life’s energy to propagate pure bhakti through his missionary institution, the Gaudiya Math, with over 60 temples throughout all of India. And he intensely desired to see Mahaprabhu’s divine gifts brought to the rest of the world.

Among his many qualified disciples, one very rare pure soul, Abhay Charanaravinda Das, specially understood his mind’s desire. Abhay took to heart this first and last instruction he received from his great master, as his only life and soul: to deliver the pure message of Sri Caitanyadev to the English-speaking countries. While deepening his own devotion to Lord Caitanya’s teachings, he also prepared himself for the arduous service of his western spiritual mission by taking the sannyas order in 1959, as A. C. Bhaktivedanta Swami. He then began his life’s magnum opus: his enlightening translation into English of the “Granta Raja” (the king of all scriptures), Srimad Bhagavatam.

Thus, in the summer of 1965, at the advanced age of 69, he finally made his historic journey aboard the steamship Jaladuta to the shores of America, carrying with him his rare matchless gifts: the sacred order of his master and his translation of the Bhagavatam. What he was about to accomplish – the world-wide Hare Krishna explosion – is nothing short of miraculous, as the most rapidly expanded spiritual movement in all of history. Let us succinctly explore the salient features of Srila Prabhupada’s very rare empowerment that demonstrate his unique stature as the most effective preacher of the Bhagavat Dharma in the entire history of Vedic culture (within the present Kali-yuga):

Only Srila Prabhupada fearlessly ventured outside of India as the first Vaisnava sannyasi to inject into the materialistic wasteland of America the sublime vision of God’s true identity and our loving connection to Him. Only Srila Prabhupada brought with him to the West the first english edition of the luminous Srimad Bhagavatam, as the formost theistic exposition of God’s supreme Personhood. Only Srila Prabhupada, moved by universal compassion, sat down alone in the midst of decrepid New York City, to chant Hare Krishna for the pleasure of Lord Caitanya and his guru.

Only he lived among the degraded and confused youth of the Lower East Side to mercifully uplift them back to sanity. Only he masterfully injected into their muddled mentality the sacred words of Lord Krishna to begin their progress towards His eternal service. Only he patiently fanned their spark of sincerity to gradually mold the most receptive into his fledging followers. Only he lovingly nurtured their tender creeper of devotion to allow them to become attached to his strict teachings. Only he was empowered to deliver to the world the pure Gaura-vani (from the bona-fide Sarasvata lineage), in its most complete, succinct and accessible form, within his 60 enlightening books of translations of the essential devotional scriptures. Only he could inspire his growing numbers of dedicated disciples to abundantly distribute these unique works of spiritual genius with millions of copies worldwide. Only he is by now the most abundantly printed and read author in history.

Only he devoted himself day and night to propagate the Sankirtan Movement of Lord Caitanya with such intense enthousiasm that his many disciples were inspired to follow his awesome example and also accomplish super-human feats of devotion. Thus Srila Prabhupada was able to establish over 100 temples worldwide in only 11 years. Only Srila Prabhupada, as a fully-realized rasika-guru, could inject into their hearts a deep taste for the Holy Name and a steady desire to also give access to this great blessing to all future generations.

Srila Prabhupada’s contribution to the spiritual progress of humankind remains unequalled within recent history. And that divine force will continue to grow through his greatest legacy: his pure-hearted followers worldwide. The secret of his miraculous success was, in his own words, his unconditional faith in the words of his own great master. Such pure guru-nistha is the inestimable example he left us all, to nourish our own desire to become his worthy servants and representatives. We will forever remain in awe of his unique greatness, as our constant meditation and strength.

Gokulananda das ACBSP – ISKCON Vancouver, Canada, August 14th/09.

Source: http://www.dandavats.com/?p=7570

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My dear Indradyumna Swami Maharaja,

Please accept my prostrated obeisances at your lotus feet. All glories to Srila Prabhupada. And all glories to your service.

I could speak for many days about your service to Srila Prabhupada and Sri Chaitanya Mahaprabhu, and for many hours about how you have helped me personally. But today I wish to focus on one area in particular in which you have helped me—my writing, which Srila Prabhupada said I should take up as my “first business” and which thus is my most important service.

Some years ago, you told me that I should bring out a book every year, and for three consecutive years I faithfully did that, publishing Watering the Seed (revised and expanded), Many Moons: Reflections on Departed Vaishnavas, and Life’s Final Exam: Death and Dying from the Vedic Perspective. Then one year at the Sadhu Sanga Kirtan Retreat, in my talk I mentioned some things related to the Juhu saga. Afterward, when I came down and sat next to you, you took my hand in yours and said, “I never heard many of these details before—you must bring out your book about Srila Prabhupada and Juhu as soon as possible.”

I took your instruction to heart, and for the last several years I have focused on that project. When the book was almost ready, you wanted to know what the title would be, and you gave some advice to make it shorter, and in the end I accepted one of your suggestions for the title: I’ll Build You a Temple: The Juhu Story. Now, with your encouragement, the book is almost ready to be sent to the BBT for printing.

Related to my writing is my base in Carpinteria, and here too you have given me valuable advice. You said that I should not burden myself and my small staff by having many programs there; rather, I should go out for preaching programs.

My writing is also inspired by my Deities. You were instrumental in my getting Sri Sri Gandharvika-Giridhari, you gave me Gopisvara Mahadeva, and you were involved in the establishment of the worship of Sri Sri Nitai-Gaura-nataraja and Sri Sri Radhika-Radhika-ramana.

There is no end to my debt to you, which will take me many lifetimes to even begin to repay—but that makes me very happy, because I want to serve Srila Prabhupada with you life after life. As Srila Prabhupada wrote to a disciple who asked about our relationships in ISKCON, “As to your question concerning whether relationships between devotees are eternal, the answer is ‘yes.’ This is confirmed by Sri Narottama dasa Thakura: cakhu-dana dilo yei, janme janme prabhu sei: ‘he is my Lord birth after birth.’ ” We are eternally connected in Srila Prabhupada’s service.

Hare Krishna.

Your eternal, grateful servant,
Giriraj Swami

Source: http://www.girirajswami.com/?p=15836

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