ISKCON Derire Tree's Posts (13238)


Question: Namaste Swamiji. It is said that we should always associate with selfless people, and that’s very critical. Then, how should we interact with the people who are selfish? As you say, we should also love them as they are also part of God. So, if we are surrounded by such people, how should we act?
Radhanath Swami: By being a good example. Of course, if those people open their minds and hearts for us to speak to them about higher virtues and higher truths in life, then that is our service to them—to offer them that higher ideal, that higher philosophy that’s based on truth. We should not be egoistically thinking, “I know more than you.” We should be humbly serving all living beings by sharing a spiritual message that will enlighten them, bring joy in their life, and relieve them of suffering. So, if we learn the philosophy and the truth nicely ourselves, we can present it in a way that can help convince others of the good way of living.

But if people are unwilling to hear, we can just be good examples. They should see that we are dynamic and successful in whatever we do, as far as possible. At the same time they should see that we do it without greed, without anger, as an expression of our love for God. They should see that we’re actually good, we’re actually spiritual and selfless. That will have a tremendous impact on people.

We live in a world where people have very difficult time trusting one another because they’re exposed to so much hypocrisy. Most people say one thing and do the other. But when we act in a spirit of selfless service, which comes by cleaning our own hearts through chanting the names of God and living a service-oriented life, people will feel the radiation of your spiritual energy and they’ll be able to trust you. They’ll say that this person actually has a simple and innocent heart and I can trust him/her. And when people trust you, you can do so much good in their lives by your example, by your words. So we should not hate people that are selfish. We should feel compassion for them, and we should live in such a way that we can somehow reach their hearts and help them, and if we can’t do anything else, we can pray for them. You may not be able to change the world, but you could change yourself. And when you access that spiritual potency, you could do your part of making the world a better place.

In building the bridge across the Indian Ocean from Ramesvaram to Sri Lanka, Hanuman was lifting mountain peaks and putting them in the water, and there was a little spider kicking grains of sand with his little legs. Hanuman told the spider, “Move aside!” and Rama said to Hanuman, “No! You move aside! That spider is doing as much as you. In helping me in my mission he is doing as much as he can. That spider’s capacity is to kick one grain of sand at a time, you’re capacity is to rip off mountain peaks and put them, but you’re each doing what you can do; therefore, you are both equally perfect in my eyes.” So, let us be happy just doing our part, whether it’s big or small. And let’s try our best to clean our own hearts to love God and to do actual good in the world.


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By helping us see that we are meant to become like our Lord because we are his parts. Just as he has forgiven us, we should forgive others.

Bhakti wisdom is also to understand that we are eternally the part of Krishna, mamaivansho jeeva loke. Just as we are parts of God, we are meant to be godly. If we look at our own lives we have committed so many misdeeds in this life and previous lives. There are so many reactions that we could have got for those misdeeds. One reaction to past misdeeds is that we stay spiritually blinded. The path to spiritual growth, inner healing, reformation, freedom from sufferings remain blocked for us due to karmic reactions. Fortunately, merciful Krishna has overlooked so many of our wrongs and has given us the opportunity to connect with him. He has given us the knowledge of path to him, the purpose of life, the facilities by which we can come close to him. Along with that, Krishna, has given us so many material things – food, light, heat, water, air, without which we will not survive. When we see that we have been given much by Krishna and he has forgiven us from many misdeeds, then we get the inspiration to forgive.

God gives and forgives, we get and forget

If we learn to remember, focus and prioritize, our relationship with Krishna and what he has done for us then that will inspire us to become godly. Yes, people have hurt me, but my Lord has forgiven me, why cannot I forgive such small things. By such mental disposition, we will please God and will help ourselves to come closer to him. We will also help others to come closer by our graceful conduct.

By lifting our vision towards Krishna and seeing his forgiving nature, by focusing on Krishna and thus purifying our hearts of godless conditioning, our inmate godliness manifests. One feature of that godliness is to have the same forgiving nature in small quantity as Krishna has in infinite quantity. Thus, bhakti wisdom is the process by which we can become more forgiving.


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Gita Mela is an event organized by ISKCON Mayapur dedicated solely for interacting with the tourists. A winter festival that is held from December to January in Mayapur, West Bengal, India, focuses on providing guests an insight into the importance of the Bhagavad Gita. 

Also called the big ‘fair’ of knowledge, the guests are allowed inside the Gita Mela Campus to see big dioramas explaining the Bhagavad Gita’s main teachings, they attend the question and answer session, buy spiritual books from the store, get to know the BBT, watch a video presentation about ISKCON around the world, have japa session, and there is kids play area in the gaming section. 

As they walk through, the stage lures their attention towards performances given by devotees of ISKCON and entertainment throughout the day. Book stalls and dioramas co exist on two opposite sides of the premises. On one side, a sankirtan gift shop, a separate book stall, a Gita study course, and a harinam japa counter to engage, while the other side display a youth forum, a kids’ corner, a Gita slide show, a Gita expo, and a quite popular this year, a face painting booth. 

The marketplace of the Holy Name also had dioramas featuring important lessons given by Lord Krishna, illuminating the darkness of the ignorant in the process. The lessons included quotes from the scriptures of Srimad BG chapters - 4.1, 7.62, 2.22, 6.38. 

An other objective was to distribute Bhagavad Gitas, the devotees were constantly engaged in preaching for the duration of this event. A preacher on foot would distribute 20-25 big books on a good day and 10-15 on other days. All stalls included would deliver around 100-120 Gitas and 50-80 small books per day. 

The Gita Mela grows every year. The event attracts thousands of guests to ISKCON Mayapur for 15 days, and potentially changes their lives.


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Devotees often ask me, “If Krsna is really merciful towards His devotees, why do so many devotees seem to experience misery? I hear in all these lectures that Krsna is so merciful but I don’t experience it – I just had an accident!” Others tell me: “A good friend distanced himself from me,” or “This great devotee is dying from cancer, so how can we make a general statement that Krsna is merciful to His devotees? Maybe He is merciful to Srila Prabhupada, but not to me or those I know…” I would like to address this doubt… Krsna’s mercy towards souls like us – and even for the greatest souls – is that He removes the obstacles we face when we worship Him. However, often we hold on to things that are actually dangerous. For instance, recently a relative of mine, a professor, left his body because of his addiction to alcohol. We used to tell him that drinking is very bad for his liver and that he would soon die if he continues. But he was too attached to the thing that eventually killed him. Often we are no better than this and in these times Krsna’s mercy takes away such obstacles to our devotional service. Out of ignorance we may not find this pleasant but in the long run it is beneficial for us.

Krsna removes obstacles in two ways: softly or more forcefully. For devotees who are at that moment not particularly determined to become purified, He fulfills material desires in such a way that in the end they will develop attachment to His lotus feet. That is the soft way: He gives what the devotee wants, but eventually removes these desires so in the end one only wants Krsna. I think most of us favor this way.

An example: someone might have a strong desire to travel and see the world, but also wants to dedicate their life to Krsna’s service. Krsna might then fulfill the desire for travel within the frame of devotional service. Therefore, Krsna arranges for you to gradually lose interest in the material part of your desire (to travel, become famous or be appreciated by others, etc.) and you will just want to serve. It can also be the case that a devotee is only a little stubborn, but at the same time, he or she wants Krsna intensely. Here Krsna might choose the other way, which is a little bit harder. He might forcefully remove the things that the devotee is attached to. For example, all of a sudden the devotee develops an illness and can no longer eat luxurious food. This is the second type of mercy – where Krsna takes away hindrances to devotional life, without continuing to fulfill materially mixed desires. Krsna expresses it like this, “If I especially favor someone I gradually deprive him of his wealth by which he fulfills all his material desires. Then the relatives and friends of such a poverty-stricken man give him up! In this way he suffers one distress after another.” (Srimad-Bhagavatam, 10.88.8) I believe these are the instances many of us interpret as Krsna’s cruelty. And this is where our mistake lies. This is where our faith breaks. Please don’t make this mistake – have a little faith! We all need to be educated so that we realize that material life and material pleasures are actually not good for us, in fact they are dangerous. Let us never forget why we became interested in Krsna consciousness: to obtain something that even the creator of the universe is hankering for – pure love of God. To help us receive such a precious gift, the Lord sometimes has to use unexpected means to wake us up.

I request you: the next time you experience a mishap in your life or when something does not work out according to your plan, before you go down the road of judging Krsna: “Isn’t it true that you’re not that merciful to me, my Lord? And these lecturers who talk about Your mercy and say You are bound by love are liars.” Take a step back and try to look at your life from the spiritual perspective. Maybe you will find that what you first considered to be a curse is in truth a disguised blessing. The moment you discover this, your faith in Krsna will grow.

In summary, there are two ways in which Krsna destroys His devotees’ obstacles. One is the gradual soft way where He fulfills material desires, but in such a way that in the end you want only Him. The other way, which He considers to be special mercy, is more firm. When the first method doesn’t work that well, He may take the poisonous toy we want to continue playing with, away from us.

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In this era dominated by technology and devices, there are very few devotees of Krishna who use technology or know how to use technology so effectively to spread the message of Krishna-consciousness (KC). Yukta-vairagya, or renunciation in KC, is being perfectly practiced by Shabda Hari das. In this article, we will read how a young man, who is so well-versed with technology, uses technology as a tool to empower devotees to learn using technology to spread KC.

We will learn about the online course he has created to enable devotees to use social media platforms and other ways to promote KC using the internet. He has made this course absolutely free, since he has created it exclusively for devotees, who want to know and serve Krishna and the mission of Srila Prabhupada more. I request devotees to go through this course after they are done reading this article and make the best use of technology to promote the message of Supreme Personality of Godhead- Shri Krishna.

Life in Bangalore

Shabda Hari Das (SHD ) was born in a family of Tamil brahmins, Iyers. His father is from Srirangam and mother is from Madurai. He was brought up in Bangalore. SHD got connected to KC at an age of just 10 years in Bangalore in 1993. 

His KC journey started when his mother went to a very famous astrologer Shri S.K. Jain (Subhanjaya Krishna Das) in Bangalore when they were going through some family issues. His mother got a few books on KC from him, started chanting Hare Krishna mahamantra and was advised to visit the ISKCON temple for the Sunday love feast regularly. Mr. Jain told his mother to give Tulasi water to her husband every day and talk to him about glories of Lord Krishna. Father of SHD got the higher taste and became a devotee when he got devotee association.

Later on his entire family started visiting Krishna-Balaram temple in Bangalore every Sunday. SHD and his younger brother Swarup learned to play the mridanga and lead kirtan at a young age. Their entire family used to look forward to going to the temple and used to participate in Sankirtan, book distribution and congregational preaching.  They were especially attracted by the love and care of the devotees and and khichdi prasad - which was out of the world.

One of the initial bhakti-vriksha programs in Bangalore was started at his house by the inspiration of Narhari Chaitanya das and Vibhav Krishna das.

After finishing his school, SHD moved to Chennai in 2001, for a course on sound engineering. He finished his 9 months sound engineering course (diploma) when he was just 19. He secured 92% marks and topped his college. He was recruited to teach in the same university. After working as an audio engineering lecturer for 3 years, he then moved to Dubai in the year 2005.

Practicing Krishna Consciousness in Dubai

In Dubai, he worked at a place called Internet City for 2 years making polyphonic ringtones for mobile phones. He again got connected with devotees when he was in Dubai in 2005. Nandakumar das and Shri Vallabh das guided him further in KC and SHD took shelter of Jayapataka Swami in Dubai in 2005.

He also made ringtones for devotees which were there on ISKCON Desire Tree back then. The devotee congregation in Dubai is one of the very vibrant communities there. Nandakumar das went on inspiring him a lot. In 2005, even before he got formally initiated into KC, he created a music album called Damodar Kripa.He launched it for local devotees in Dubai, since Dubai is known as Damodardesh. He then formally launched his album when he came back to India in 2009.

In 2008, SHD got married and released an album 'Illuminize’ internationally with his wife. Both of them sang in that album which had Jagannath Astaka, Damodar Astaka and other devotional songs which we set in a western format - to make it appealing to an international audience. 


It became very popular in those days. He promoted this album single-handedly in 2009, after learning internet marketing. Entire 12 song album was created in a bedroom studio, using a laptop and a simple condenser microphone. He had learnt playing piano when he was around 11 years old. While he worked in the music industry, he was already an expert in playing piano keyboard and also with technicalities of digital media.

After working in the corporate world for over 6 years he decided to quit his job in 2011 to set up his own digital media company, which he has been running successfully for last 8 years. It currently has more than 25 employees. He feels that the transitions from one industry to another has been smooth only by the mercy of His Divine Grace A.C. Bhaktivedanta Swami Prabhupada and his spiritual master Jayapataka Swami.

He currently resides in Chennai along with his wife Vanita and two sons - Rishabh and Dhruva.

On the way to blogging

SHD started blogging in 2006, he started his own website named , which had compilation of quotes of his guru Jayapataka Swami. He used to listen to lectures of his guru maharaj, take small quotes and publish them on Wordpress blog. In 2007-08, he set up his own blog, learnt blogging in 3 to 6 months and kept upgrading his skills. His main positioning now is on e-learning and helping people create courses.

He did not want to become a blogger but it was a way to attract customers through content. SHD says, “I was promoting internet tools, products and was doing personal branding. I am moving towards podcasting now, as this is the new trend. I have embedded it in my website .“

The Digital Preacher

SHD mentions, “I have been doing a lot of social media workshops over last 6 years and have trained over 50,000 entrepreneurs and brands. I trained them how to grow their businesses in full day workshops. I was thinking to use my skills to preach KC.I got idea of coming up with an online course after I read the book Sri Godruma Kalptavi written by Srila Bhaktivinod Thakur and translated by Jayapataka Swami, it’s about the different roles one can play in the marketplace of holy name. My idea was to enable devotees to use social media to promote ideology mentioned in scriptures in the best possible way. Digital Marketing can be a powerful tool for devotees to preach and attract people towards movement and to become devotees.” 

The Digital Preacher is a free course, which has been developed by SHD, whose purpose is to spread the holy name to as many people as possible.

After preparing this course, SHD happened to meet Yudhisthira Govinda Das. He coordinated with Anuttama Das and suggested him that this course, which was created by SHD can be certified by ISKCON. If anyone completes this 30 days course, then he can be given a certificate of completion from ISKCON Global Communication.

It is a simple course which can be taken by anybody in any part of the world. Devotees can use it to bring people close to their zones or centers. It was created single-handedly by SHD and was made officially available in April 2019.

2268 devotees are enrolled this course currently (as on 8th January 2020) and response has been amazing. SHD is promoting it online but it has picked up on its own too. He is getting a great response and devotees all over the world are motivated to go for it!

SHD feels, “I plan to do 2-3 courses on promoting Digital marketing for devotees in places, where there is a big congregation, e.g. in cities like Mumbai, Pune, Delhi etc.”

Devotees might not be tech savvy but he intends to bring them online. So, in The Digital Preacher course, SHD gives templates to go live on Facebook, record videos, how to write etc. 

The challenge being faced is that those who start the course must also follow it till the end. He wishes that this course reaches at least 100,000 devotees. Though devotees from all across the globe have gone for this course but 80% of them are Indians.

We are living in an interesting time, since social media is very prominent, as people are spending many hours online every day. Devotees must create more content so that people realize their true purpose of life.

If the internet is flooded with a lot of valuable KC content, then it will have a ripple effect and KC will be spread all over the world. This is the great vision of this multifaceted genius Shabda Hari Das(Siddharth Rajsekar).

The Digital Preacher course can be accessed online at

Siddharth Rajsekar can be reached at,

Give your feedback to writer Premanjana Das (Pranjal Joshi) at


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In the Skanda Purana 2.2.42, Sri Krishna Pusya abhiseka is described as one of the festivals observed for Lord Jagannath in Puri. The chapter gives an elaborate description of the rituals for observing the festival. In Skanda Purana 2.27.99, the pusya naksatra is also mentioned, wherein it is stated that on a thursday, Astami tithi, during Sukla-paksa of the month of Vaishakha, in conjunction with the Pusya-naksatra, on that day Lord Jagannath was installed in the original temple in Puri.

Flowers are a special part of our tradition. It is the way we honor special guests. It is the way we honor the spiritual master and the vaisnavas. It is a form of worship, a form of appreciation. Offering flowers is a simple service for Krishna but it’s a deep meditation, whether it is stringing flowers together or pulling them apart, with every flower, meditation should be an offering out of love and devotion to Krishna.

“patram puspam phalam toyam

yo me bhakta prayacchati”

Krishna says “If one offers Me with love and devotion a leaf, a flower, fruit or water, I will accept it.”  – BG 9.26


In preparation for the festival, the devotees of Mayapur sit around, plucking out tender petals from different kinds of flowers. There are around five types of chandramallika flowers, three types of marigolds, dopati and dalia flowers and thousands of roses. All the flowers are brought from different parts of India. The plucking proceeds till dusk, as basket after basket gets brimmed with fragrant petals. Whoever it may be, young or old, there is that consciousness of humility, generosity, and devotion in them with each flower petal they pluck—with every single one of them as an offering— and a cry for help to attain the highest perfection of life.

Srila Prabhupada once explained the festival this way: “Krishna was just a toy in the hands of the Gopis, so one day the Gopis decided that we shall decorate Him. Pusya abhisheka means a ceremony to decorate the deity profusely with flowers, ornaments, cloths.After there should be lavish feasting and a procession through the streets, so that all the citizens should see how beautiful Krishna appears.”

In the spiritual world the Gopis decorate Krishna and Balaram with feathers, fruits, leaves and flowers. Amongst their many gardens in Pushpavan near Kusum Sarovar, every day, just before noon, Srimati Radharani collects flowers from that garden to make beautiful garlands to offer to Krishna when He meets her at Radha Kund.

His Grace Jananivasa Prabhu was instructed by Srila Prabhupada to celebrate festivals related to the pastimes of the Sri Sri Sri Radha Krishna in a grand way in Sri Dham Mayapur.

Therefore now for the abhisek alone, the devotees make petals from over thirty thousand Chrysanthemums or chandramallika flowers in different colours, fifty kilos of dopati flower or impatiens balsamina in colours ranging from white and light pinks and oranges to dark pinks, purples and red, more than two hundred and forty marigold flower garlands in yellow and orange and over forty thousand roses. Now Define Grand!

Devotees and pilgrims turn up in huge numbers as the festival takes place. When the curtains open both Sri Sri Radha Madhava and Pancha-tattva take your breath away. The temple crowded full of devotees stand astounded for minutes taking darshan and singing to their lordships. They stand decorated in their all new floral outfits, ornaments, flower garlands, Tulsi garlands and anklets. For the skirts alone,the devotees use over five thousand flowers per skirt. Sri Madhava also graces a uniquely special flower outfit which is tailor made perfectly for His Tribanga form, as well as flower jewellery and flower mukut pieces for His turban.

The festival reaches its climax after the sandhya arati, afternoon offering, when it is finally time for the abhiseka, the utsav murtis, small Radha Madahva Deities come forward to everyone’s delight and the abhiseka begins, Sri Sri Radha Madhava are then showered in flower petals as mantras and chanting of the Holy name goes on simultaneously. A beautiful pastime unveiling in front of everyone’s astonishment, the deities get fully covered in the mountain of flower petals getting showered from all directions. The devotees chant even louder and the kirtan even faster when it finally comes to an end and Their Lordships return to the altar to be dressed in fresh clothes and everyone goes home with the sweet reminiscence of the festival.



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An Instructive Lesson by Giriraj Swami

3814101009?profile=RESIZE_710xI remembered an incident from New Delhi, perhaps in 1971. Gurudas and I had gone into a shop to make a purchase, and in the mood of saving Krishna’s money, I was bargaining fiercely. But he corrected me, citing a principle from The Nectar of Devotion - “Not Giving Pain to Any Living Entity.” Srila Prabhupada had written, “This is the statement of Mahabharata: ‘A person who does not disturb or cause painful action in the mind of any living entity, who treats everyone just like a loving father does his children, whose heart is so pure, certainly very soon becomes favored by the Supreme Personality of Godhead.’

“In so-called civilized society there is sometimes agitation against cruelty to animals, but at the same time regular slaughterhouses are always maintained. A Vaisnava is not like that. A Vaisnava can never support animal slaughter or even give pain to any living entity.”

I had related the principle to giving pain to living entities outside the course of devotional service, but Gurudas made me realize that I should not cause pain to the mind of the merchant, whether he was overcharging or not, even in the course of trying to save Krishna’s money.

“Not giving pain to any living entity”- an instructive lesson that I have always kept with me.


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From Back to Godhead

Academic knowledge provides information of the world, but spiritual knowledge awards us eternal liberation

One of my friends in college was known for his immense general knowledge. He knew the names of all recent Hollywood and Bollywood movies, the actors, directors, and producers of each movie, and the winners of Oscar and Filmfare awards from every year. In sports, he knew the winners of each Grand Slam tennis tournament from every year as well as similar information about football and cricket. He also knew the capital city and currency of each country, and a lot more.

I was impressed by his memory, and I admired his voracious reading. Here I was struggling to remember basic mathematical and scientific formulae and somehow clear my examinations. I wished I had the ability to retain at least half of what I read daily.

When I came to Krishna consciousness, however, I felt less impressed by my friend’s general knowledge. I learned that knowledge was meant to produce good character and, ultimately, devotion to God. So-called knowledge of this world is incomplete, because information in this world keeps changing continuously; what is true today will no longer remain true tomorrow. The greater your memory, the greater your capacity to retain information, and the greater will be your reputation as a knowledgeable person. But knowledge about this world is simply data loaded into the brain. How can such ever changing information help us attain anything permanent and everlasting? How can such knowledge help us solve the real problems of life, namely, birth, old age, disease, and death?

Real knowledge is to know what matter is, what spirit is, and the controller of both. And such knowledge must transform one’s heart by invoking our divine nature, which is expressed by displaying divine qualities like cleanliness, forgiveness, compassion, and love for all living beings. Although my friend was updated with the latest current affairs and was also good in his academics, he didn’t seem to possess all these divine qualities. Always unclean, he was addicted to many nasty habits, and he doubted the existence of God and questioned His activities.

Material knowledge is called jada-vidya, or knowledge of inert matter, while spiritual knowledge is called para-vidya, or knowledge of transcendence. Jada-vidya helps us to use the body and live in the material world, but para-vidya can help us attain liberation from the material world and can take us to the eternal blissful spiritual world. Knowledge of the spirit is considered transcendental because it can free us from our conditional material existence.

The Bhagavad-Gita is renowned as the jewel of India’s spiritual wisdom because it presents the condensed essence of all transcendental knowledge one needs to know to perfect the human mission. Srila Prabhupada explains the unique position of the Gita “One will find in the Bhagavad-Gita all that is contained in other scriptures, but the reader will also find things which are not to be found elsewhere. That is the specific standard of the Gita. It is the perfect theistic science because it is directly spoken by the Supreme Personality of Godhead, Lord Sri Krishna.”

What is the effect of transcendental knowledge upon us? How does it benefit us? Lord Krishna uses four analogies to answer these questions.

Knowledge as Fire

Transcedental knowledge
Although fire often acts destructively, knowledge is here compared with fire in a positive way. Just as fire burns up all impurities, the fire of transcendental knowledge burns up all the karmic baggage we carry.

A conditioned soul accumulates enormous karma during his sojourn in this material world. Life after life, in every species of life, a living entity cultivates various desires, and accordingly acts, either piously or sinfully. But whether the actions are pious or sinful, reactions arise out of each action, and no one can escape them. One must enjoy the good reactions and suffer the bad reactions some time in the future.

The glory of transcendental knowledge is that it can burn up all reactions at once both good and bad. jnanagnih serve-kemuini bhesme-sst kurute tatha: “The fire of knowledge burns to ashes all reactions to material activities.” (Gita 4.37) But we may not like to hear about our stock of good karma getting burned up: “I have done so much charity and welfare work for others,” one may protest. “Why should I lose all those credits?” All reactions, both pleasant and unpleasant, are ultimately bad because they bind us to the material world in the repeated cycle of birth and death. Good actions will promote us to higher planets where we enjoy heavenly delights, while sinful actions will push us down to hellish planets where we suffer terrible pain. Even if we go to the heavenly planets, there is no guarantee that we will stay there permanently. Once we exhaust our pious credits, we are forced to return to earth, where we begin our next set of actions and reactions.

Transcendental knowledge can burn up all our reactions and qualify us to go to the eternal spiritual world, from where there is no more coming back.

Knowledge as Boat

The material world is sometimes called bhava-sagara, or an ocean of birth and death. If a man falls into an ocean, he can never cross the ocean alone, no matter how skilled a swimmer he may be. But if he can get the help of a well-built boat, he can save himself from drowning.

Krishna says in the Gita (4.36) that transcendental knowledge is like the boat that can help you cross over this material ocean of nescience:

api ced asi papebhyah
sarvebhyah papa-krt-tamah
sarvarh jnana-plavenaiva
vrjinam santansyasi

“Even if you are considered to be the most sinful of all sinners, when you are situated in the boat of transcendental knowledge you will be able to cross over the ocean of miseries.”

Actually, our stay in the material world is caused by material desires. And the root cause of material desires, Srila Bhaktivinoda Thakura explains, is avidya, or ignorance, which is defined as forgetfulness of this truth “I am the eternal servant of Sri Krishna.”

Transcendental knowledge revives our lost memory of being a servant of Krishna, Therefore it can immediately award us liberation from the ocean of birth and death.

Knowledge as Torchlight

Compared to our blissful eternal existence, life in the material world is groping around in the darkness, in ignorance of our constitutional position. As soon we begin our conditional life, we forget our real identity and get lost in the temporary pain and pleasure of this world. Having spent lifetimes in the darkness of the material world, we have forgotten the life of enlightenment in the spiritual world.

But it is not easy to come out of darkness; years of lone struggle will never lead us out of it. What we need is torchlight, the illuminating lamp of knowledge. That’s how Krishna underscores the importance of transcendental knowledge in the Bhagavad-Gita.

For devotees who are constantly engaged in loving devotional service to Lord Krishna, obtaining transcendental knowledge becomes very easy: Krishna personally destroys the ignorance in their lives by providing this torchlight. He promises this in ens (10.11):

tesam evanukampartham
aham ajnana-jam tamah
nasayamy atma-bhava-stho
jnana-dipena bhasvata

“To show them [those who are constantly devoted to serving Me with love] special mercy, I, dwelling in their hearts, destroy with the shining lamp of knowledge the darkness born of ignorance.”

At another place, Krishna compares knowledge to bright sunshine, which remove the dense darkness of night. Tesiim aditya-vaj jnanarh prakasayati tat param (Gita 5.16)

During Lord Caitanya’s tour of South India, He met a simple brahmene who was engrossed in reading the Bhagavad-Gita. While reading, tears would glide down his cheeks and his hair stood on end in ecstasy. When Lord Caitanya asked the brahmena why he was crying, the brahmaha replied, “Whenever I sit down to read the Gita, the form of Lord Krishna as Partha-sarathi [Arjuna’s chariot driver] appears in my heart. And as soon as I see this form I immediately remember how the Lord is bhakta-vatsala [especially kind to His devotees]. This thought makes me cry.” In his purport to this pastime, Srila Prabhupada quotes a verse from the Shvetashvatara Upanishad (6.23):

yasya deve para-bhaktir
yatha deve tatha gurau
tasyaite kathita hy arthah
prakasante mahatmanah

“Only unto those great souls who have implicit faith in both the Lord and the spiritual master, all the imports of Vedic knowledge are automatically revealed.” Lord Caitanya was extremely pleased upon seeing the devotion of this brahmana and He told him that he had perfected his reading of the em.

Knowledge as Sword

When a plant grows in a field, many weeds grow around it, and they consume most of the water and nutrients fed to the original plant. We then need a sharp cutting tool to remove all the unwanted weeds, which can choke the plant to death.

When a living entity begins the practice of Krishna consciousness, he is cultivating the creeper of devotional service. The process of hearing about Krishna and chanting His holy names provides water and nourishment to the plant. But very soon weeds begin to grow in the form of various desires for material enjoyment objects of enjoyment, name and fame in this world, heavenly pleasures, or mystic yogic powers. Even doubts can arise in our minds due to lack of philosophical conviction. These things distract our attention from the main goal, and our desire for pure devotional service is choked to death.

The sword of transcendental knowledge can come to our rescue. Krishna urges us to use this sharp sword to cut all the weeds of material desire and thus be situated in our real position. That way we can attain the ultimate perfection.

tasmed ajnana-sambhutam
hrt-stham jnanasinatmanah
chittvainam samsayam yogam
atisthottistha bharata

“Therefore the doubts which have arisen in your heart out of ignorance should be slashed by the weapon of knowledge. Armed with yoga, 0 Bharata, stand and fight.” (Gita 4.42)

Knowledge Keeps Maya Away

Meditating on the above four aspects of transcendental knowledge should make us realize the importance of cultivating it. Without knowledge about Krishna, one cannot steadily advance in devotional service. Our faith in the process will remain weak, and thus we are prone to become victims of maya. Srila Prabhupada would constantly emphasize the need to study scriptures like the Bhagavad-Gita and Srimad-Bhagavatam, the foundational books of our Krishna consciousness philosophy. Serious aspirants must somehow acquire this knowledge either through study, hearing or chanting.

Krishna Himself glorifies transcendental knowledge in the following words:

na hi jnanenasadrsam
pavitram ihavidyate
tatsvayam yoga-samsiddhah
kalenatmani vindati

“In this world, there is nothing so sublime and pure as transcendental knowledge. Such knowledge is the mature fruit of all mysticism. And one who has become accomplished in the practice of devotional service enjoys this knowledge within himself in due course of time.” (Gita 4.38)


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First Meaning: –

Srila Jiva Gosvami reveals the meaning of each of the sixteen Names in the Hare Krishna Mahaamantra in his Mahaa-mantrartha Dipika as follows: –

Hare Krishna Hare Krishna Krishna Krishna Hare Hare
Hare Rama Hare Rama Rama Rama Hare Hare

Krishna steals the minds of everyone, yet Radha steals even His mind by Her divine expertise. Thus She is known as Haraa.

He forcibly attracts Sri Radha with the sweet sound of His flute, therefore that Lord of all enchanting qualities is known as Krishna.

It has been heard that during the rasa-lila, doe-eyed Radha was stolen away by Krishna to be alone with Him in a secret forest bower. She is therefore known as Haraa.

When Krishna sports with Radha, Her golden hue takes on the dark complexion of Krishna’s skin. He is thus known as Krishna.

In order to please Sri Radha, Krishna manifested the most wonderful lake (Syama-kunda) in Vrndavana. He then called all the holy rivers to fill it. He is thus known as Krishna.

By Her unsurpassed love, Radha charms He who performs wonderful lilas on the banks of the Yamuna. Therefore, those who are sober know Him as Krishna.

While in Gokula, Sri Hari (Krishna) killed the demon known as Aristasura. During that time, Radha cried out to Him with great feeling and by doing so, She stole His mind. She is thus known as Haraa.


Filled with ecstatic love, Radha sometimes sings the glories of Hari’s exploits quietly and sometimes She sings them aloud. Those who are expert in the secrets of divine sentiments call Her Haraa.

Due to the intense love of Sri Radha, Sri Hari becomes so captivated that His flute falls from His hand. With the desire to enjoy in the forest bowers with Krishna, Radha steals His flute. That goddess is thus famous as Haraa.

Krishna, who is expert at embracing, sports with Radha in the forest groves or in the caves of Govardhana. Thus He is known as Rama.


That most merciful Radha destroys the miseries of Her devotees and gives them great happiness every day. Therefore that goddess is known as Haraa.

The minds of the devotees are continuously drowned in an ocean of supreme joy by seeing the beautiful dark form of Krishna. Therefore He is known by the Name Rama.

Radharani is known as Rama because She enjoys loving pastimes with Acyuta (Krishna) in a secret forest pavilion. Since He is always by Her side, He is known as Rama.


When the residents of Gokula were crying due to fear of the forest fire, Krishna immediately swallowed it and gave His devotees great joy. In this way, He is known as Rama.

Sri Krishna went to Mathurapuri in order to destroy the demons. However, due to being captivated by the love of Radha, He later returned. Therefore She is known as Haraa.

When the son of Maharaja Nanda returned to Vraja, He took away the suffering of all the Vrajavasis. By His wonderful exploits, He steals the heart of Sri Radha. Thus He is known as Hari.

Second Meaning: –

There are three Holy Names that make up the Maha-Mantra, Hare, Krishna, and Rama.

1. ‘Hare’ is a powerful word that directly addresses the energy of the Lord

2. ‘Krishna’ is the Name of the Supreme Personality of Godhead. Krishna is the Possessor of every quality in and out of the universe. He also possesses these qualities in an unlimited quantity.

3. ‘Rama’ means the reservoir of pleasure.

By chanting this Maha-Mantra and doing service to Krishna, anyone can be linked to this reservoir and get unlimited happiness.

While engaged in nama-sankirtana one should chant with deep feeling, full faith, firm determination, and the realization that Radha-Syamasundara are personally present in the maha-manlra with all of their transcendental beauty, qualities, and pastimes. Such performance of nama-sankirtana will surely bring the desired result of Krishna-prema.


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God is one. Moreover, according to Caitanya Mahaprabhu, that one God is Krishna, the cowherd boy of Vrindavan, who chooses to expand Himself unlimitedly still remain the same one Supreme Person, just to increase His own pleasure. Śrīmad-Bhāgavatam (1.3.28) designates this original Godhead as svayam bhagavān: Kṛṣṇas tu bhagavān svayam.

The Supreme Personality of Godhead has three primary energies. The first is antarańga–śakti, or the internal potency. The second is known as taṭastha–śakti, the marginal potency or ‘jiva sakti’. The living entities constitute the marginal potency, and they are situated between the internal and external Potencies yet the living entity is also spiritual. The third is called bahirańga–śakti, or ‘māyā sakti’ illusory Potency or the external potency / energy known as illusion, which consists of fruitive activity (karma).

Viṣṇu Purāṇa (6.7.61): viṣṇu-śaktiḥ parā proktā kṣetrajñākhyā tathā parā avidyā-karma-saṁjñānyātṛtīyā śaktir iṣyate -Lord Kṛṣṇa naturally has three energetic transformations. He is embodiment of multifarious, inconceivable spiritual potencies. parāsya śaktir vividhaiva śrūyate! svābhāvikī jñāna-bala-kriyā ca!!(Svetasvatra Up 6:8) – Each potency acts quite naturally (svābhāvikī) in sequences providing Him full knowledge (jñāna), power (bala) and pastimes (kriyā). parā sakti’ : Also known as internal potency ‘antaranga śakti’ Although this inherent spiritual potency is one, it manifests in three features Bala : strength and opulence called ‘sandhini’, jñāna: knowledge called ‘samvit’ and kriyā : pastimes known as ‘hlādini’. Kṛṣṇa says: daivī hy eṣā guṇa-mayī mama māyā duratyayā — This divine energy of Mine, consisting of the three modes of material nature, is difficult to overcome. Being conducted by divine will, material nature, although inferior, acts so wonderfully in the construction and destruction of the cosmic manifestation. The Vedas confirm this as follows: māyāṁ tu prakṛtiṁ vidyān māyinaṁ tu maheśvaram.“Although māyā [illusion] is false or temporary, the background of māyā is the supreme magician, the Personality of Godhead, who is Maheśvara, the supreme controller.” (Śvetāśvatara Upaniṣad 4.10) hlādinyā saṁvid-āśliṣṭaḥ sac-cid-ānanda īśvaraḥ –The Supreme Personality of Godhead, the supreme controller, is always full of transcendental bliss and is accompanied by the potencies known as hlādinī and saṁvit. (CC Madhya 18.114)

Trying to convey to Sanātana Gosvāmī something of the extent of one-fourth of Kṛṣṇa’s energy, Caitanya Mahāprabhu cited an incident from Śrīmad-Bhāgavatam in which Brahmā, the lord of the universe, came to see Kṛṣṇa at Dvārakā. May I inquire if there are other Brahmās besides me? “Upon hearing this, Kṛṣṇa smiled and at once called for many Brahmās from many universes. The four-headed Brahmā then saw many other Brahmās coming to see Kṛṣṇa and to offer their respects. Some of them had ten heads, some had twenty, some had a hundred and some even had a million heads. Indeed, the four-headed Brahmā could not even count the Brahmās who were coming to offer their obeisances to Kṛṣṇa. Upon seeing this wonderful exhibition, the four-headed Brahmā became nervous and began to think of himself as no more than a mosquito in the midst of many elephants. As each of the Brahmās saw Kṛṣṇa, each thought that He was only within his universe. . Upon seeing this, the four-headed Brahmā at once fell down at the feet of Kṛṣṇa and said, “What I thought about You at first was all nonsensical. Everyone may say that they know You in perfection, but as far as I am concerned, I cannot begin to conceive how great You are. You are beyond my conception and understanding.” “This particular universe is only four thousand million miles broad,” Kṛṣṇa then informed him, “but there are many millions and billions of universes which are far, far greater than this one. Some of these are many trillions of miles broad, and all these universes require strong Brahmās, not just four-headed.” Each universe is made up of 8 elements. Each one is 10 times larger than previous.

Lord Brahmā after he had stolen Lord Kṛṣṇa’s calves and cowherd boys and Kṛṣṇa had exhibited His transcendental opulence by re-creating all the stolen calves and cowherd boys by His viṣṇu-mūrti expansions. After he had seen this, Brahmā offered the following prayers to Lord Kṛṣṇa: guṇātmanas te ‘pi guṇān vimātuṁ hitāvatīrṇasya ka īśire ’sya
kālena yair vā vimitāḥ sukalpair bhū-pāṁsavaḥ khe mihikā dyubhāsaḥ – “Scientists and learned men cannot even estimate the atomic constitution of a single planet. Even if they could count the molecules of snow in the sky or the number of stars in space, they cannot estimate how it is You descend on this earth or in this universe with Your innumerable transcendental potencies, energies and qualities.” (SB 10.14.7)

jānanta eva jānantu kiḿ bahūktyā na me prabho manaso vapuṣo vāco vaibhavaḿ tava go-caraḥ (SB 10.14.38) – There are people who say, “I know everything about Kṛṣṇa.” Let them think that way. As far as I am concerned, I do not wish to speak very much about this matter. O my Lord let me say this much: As far as Your opulances are concerned, they are all beyond the reach of my mind, body, and words. Total Material energy- Mahat Tattva-is inferior energy yet it is very powerful and very difficult to overcome. “daivī hy eṣā guṇa-mayī mama māyā duratyayā (Bg 7.14). Manifestation of Total Material energy is temporary. It is only one breath of Mahā Vishnu an expansion of expansion of Lord Kṛṣṇa. Lord Brahmā the secondary creator of this universe has gigantic form. . He created all these planets by receiving creative energy (śrṣṭi-śakti) from Krishna. From his abode Brahma Loka-Satya Loka he observes activities of all 14 planetary systems.

Among the 14 planetary systems only three systems, bhur-loka, bhuvar-loka and svar-loka are visible to human eye. No upper or lower planets are visible to us. Thus all the stars and planets we see in the night sky, even with the aid of a telescope, belongs to these three planetary systems, with a few rare exceptions. Following is the illustration of the comparison of some visible planet as described by modern day scientists: It shows that the biggest planet is Antares and next big is Arcturus, next is sun. Smaller than Sun is Jupiter, smaller then that is Saturn, then Venus, and Earth. Smallest is Pluto. Compare to Antares (assuming a size of an orange) sun is one pixel in size. Compared to Sun Earth is a small dot about three pixels. So compared to Antares earth is invisible.


As described above the compared to Antares earth is invisible. Sun is ninety millions miles away from earth. Sun is so powerful that its pin size portion can burn entire USA. The light of the sun and the moon is also originally emanating from the brahma-jyotir, which is the impersonal effulgence of the Lord. Kṛṣṇa, by His different energies, diffuses heat and light through the agency of electricity and the sun. Kṛṣṇa says He is the light of the sun and the moon – prabhāsmi śaśi-sūryayoḥ. That prabhā is just a small particle (citkana) of brahma jyotir – which is the glaring effulgence of the transcendental body of Lord Śrī Kṛṣṇa. Whatever illumination appears in the material world is only a reflection of that supreme illumination that supreme Brahman effulgence spreads throughout both the material and spiritual skies. He says by a single fragment of Myself I pervade and support this entire universe. viṣṭabhyāham idaṁ kṛtsnam ekāṁśena sthito jagat. (Bg 10.42) ‘yasya prabhā-prabhavato jagad-aṇḍa-koṭi- Brahma-saṁhitā (5.40)- (I worship Govinda, the primeval Lord) whose effulgence is the source of the illumination of millions and millions universes. Lord also says: It is because of My supremacy that the wind blows, out of fear of Me; the sun shines out of fear of Me, and the lord of the clouds, Indra, sends forth showers out of fear of Me. Fire burns out of fear of Me, and death goes about taking its toll out of fear of Me.

mad-bhayād vāti vāto ‘yaḿ sūryas tapati mad-bhayāt varṣatīndro dahaty agnir mṛtyuś carati mad-bhayāt

“The Personality of Godhead Viṣṇu is the Absolute Truth, whose lotus feet all the demigods are always eager to see. Like the sun god, He pervades everything by the rays of His energy. He appears impersonal to imperfect eyes.” tad viṣṇoḥ paramaṁ padaṁ sadā paśyanti sūrayaḥ divīva cakṣur ātatam

Just as the demigod in the sun is a person and is perceived by his all-pervading energy, the sunshine, so the Lord, although in His eternal abode, is perceived by His all-pervading diffusive energies. The predominating Deity within the sun is Hiraṇmaya, another expansion of Lord Nārāyaṇa whose body is composed of golden effulgence, and has a golden hue which is illuminating the as well as maintaining the entire universe. In the Ṛg Veda, the predominating Deity of the sun is worshiped by this Ṛg mantra: dhyeyaḥ sadā savitṛ-maṇḍala-madhya-vartī nārāyaṇaḥ sarasijāsana-sanniviṣṭaḥ. Nārāyaṇa sits on His lotus flower within the sun. By reciting this mantra, or the Gāyatrī mantra every living entity should take shelter of Nārāyaṇa just as the sunrises. Therefore, when we chant gāyatrī during three sandhyās we should chant mantras in prayerful mood, not just mechanically but consciously meditating upon predominating deity Hiraṇmaya, an expansion of Lord Nārāyaṇa who sits on lotus flower within the sun and whose body is composed of golden effulgence and with golden hue illuminating and maintaining the entire universe. Ultimately, the energy, which sustains us by prolonging the duration of our life, is Kṛṣṇa, and Kṛṣṇa meets us at the end as death. (BG 9.19 Purport). The mantra in Śrī Īśopaniṣad, Mantra 15 –hiraṇmayena pātreṇa satyasyāpihitaṁ mukham tat tvaṁ pūṣann apāvṛṇu – is a simple prayer to the Lord to remove the brahma-jyotir so that one can see His real face “O my Lord, sustainer of all that lives, Your real face is covered by Your dazzling effulgence.”

The earth with 2/3 of vast ocean and 1/3 land would look like a moist grain of sand as compared to the sun. That 1/3 of land is divided into 5 continents filled with 3.5 billion humans. One of the continents is American continent. In North American continent, there is USA with 50 states. Each state has many cities, each city has many streets and there are many houses on a street. In realty human being is tiny jiva jantu-like an insect, aṇu (atomic size) as compared to the Lord who is Vibhu yet living in one house a person thinks, “I am very important and will live here forever. Is it not amazing? In the Bhagavad-gītā(10.41) Lord Kṛṣṇa says: yad yad vibhūtimat sattvaṁ śrīmad ūrjitam eva vā
tat tad evāvagaccha tvaṁ mama tejo-’ṁśa-sambhavam –“Know that all opulent, beautiful and glorious creations spring from but a spark of My splendor.”

Vedic literature (Kaṭha Upaniṣad 2.2.13) asserts that the Lord is the supreme maintainer. nityo nityānāṁ cetanaś cetanānām eko bahūnāṁ yo vidadhāti kamān – He is eternal and the living beings are eternal. He is cognizant and the living beings are cognizant. The difference is that He is supreme living entity of all living entities, and is supplying all the necessities of life for the many other living entities; He alone is maintaining all life from a tiny germ to a big elephant. He cares for all living entities like father does for his children.

Seven types of empowerments (śakti) invested by Lord Kṛṣṇa are: (1) Sesa Nāga in the Vaikuntha world empowered for the personal service of the Supreme Lord (Sva-sevana-śakti). (2) Anantadeva empowered to bear all the planets within the universe (bhū -dhāraṇa-śakti). (3) Lord Brahma empowered with the energy to create the cosmic manifestation (śrṣṭi-śakti). (4) Catuhsana, or the Kumāras, specifically empowered to distribute transcendental knowledge (jñāna -śakti). (5) Nārada Muni, empowered to distribute devotional service (bhakti-śakti). (6) Maharaja Prthu, specifically empowered to rule and maintains living entities (pālana-śakti). (7) Paraśurāma specifically empowered to cut down rogues and demons (duṣta-damana-śakti).

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By Madhava Smullen

The Bhaktivedanta Book Trust has kicked off the New Year by launching its own podcast, “Sankirtan On,” to inspire devotees.

The podcast is facilitated by the BBT’s Marketing, Communications and Innovations dept and was conceived by the department’s director Vaisesika Das as a way to make sankirtan (book distribution and harinama) relevant to a younger generation.

Branding and social media manager Anukula Seva Das, technical expert Amanda Vikram Das, and host Ananda-Murari Das round out the team.

Ananda-Murari, who joined ISKCON in 2012 and has distributed books with the RVC Traveling Sankirtan Party and ISKCON Denver, hosts from his home in Denver.

The podcast, which will be available on all major podcast platforms including Soundcloud and iTunes, will bring listeners interviews, news, stories and inspiration from around the world.  

The first must-listen episode sees Ananda-Murari chatting with Vaisesika Das, a legendary book distributor and sankirtan innovator.

“He’s the ideal first guest because his whole mood really embodies the spirit of sankirtan,” Ananda says. “And as he tells us in his episode, sankirtan is not simply distributing books or going out on harinama; it’s actually a holistic approach to how we practice spiritual life, and how that spiritual life then overflows into the rest of our daily activities.”

In their conversation, Vaisesika and Ananda-Murari discuss sankirtan as a lifestyle of gratitude, in which it is a natural reaction to share the gifts we’ve been given. They talk about the synergistic relationship between book distribution and street chanting of the Holy Name. They talk about the process of Saranagati, or surrender, and how to see oneself as an instrument. And they cover the apprension one may feel when going out on sankirtan. 


“When we go out on sankirtan, we have to redefine what our goal is,” Ananda-Murari says.  “If our goal is just to convince everyone to take a book, then we’re going to be disappointed. But the real goal is purification.” 

Thus Vaisesika calls book distribution “high sadhana,” and emphasizes that we should not only make a plan to share Krishna consciousness, but also to imbibe it within our own lives. 

Vaisesika illustrates this in the episode by recalling how, as a young book distributor in San Francisco, the sankirtan team he was on came to see Srila Prabhupada.

“The temple president introduced them saying, “Srila Prabhupada, these devotees are distributing your books,’” Ananda-Murari recounts. “And Prabhupada looked at them very sternly and said, ‘You must also read these books.’” 

In future episodes, Ananda-Murari hopes to interview Mother Nidra in ISKCON Denver, who is famous for her steadiness, distributing books every day for about forty-five years. 

He also hopes to talk with Deva Madhava Das, temple president of the innovative Harmony Collective in Michigan; Hari Shyam Das, who is heading up a new sanctuary outreach project in downtown Chicago; and book distributor Brajananda Das, who served on the RVC party, and is now temple president at ISKCON Tallahassee, Florida.

“If you’re asking about my dream list, Indradyumna Swami and Radhanath Swami would be pretty ecstatic too,” Ananda-Murari laughs.

As far as topics go, he would like to cover best practices, challenges and barriers to sharing Krishna consciousness, and new and innovative ways of distributing Prabhupada’s books and presenting Krishna consciousness in general.

“I think as a society, we don’t always have to recreate the wheel at every individual center; but we have to get better at franchising things that work,” he says. “So I’m interested in collecting those and sharing them.”

Ananda-Murari also plans to report news of innovative achievements in ISKCON, particularly by young devotees, “So that the good news spreads like fire, and those methods inspire and fuel other ideas and visions.” 

Another exciting feature of Sankirtan On will be audio sankirtan stories, recorded by book distributors from around the world and sent in to the show.

“Often we as humans are looking for miracles,” Ananda says. “We want something extra-ordinary. We want to live a life that’s not just mundane and standard. And sankirtan really affords that experience. Practically every time you go out, there’s some kind of mystical situation that occurs. So the stories will bring awareness to that.”

Although a release frequency hasn’t been set yet for Sankirtan On, the podcast is expected to come out at least once a month. So far, the response to the first episode has been very positive.

“Devotees who are either already doing sankirtan, or are interested in trying it, are saying that the podcast is very inspirational,” Ananda-Murari says. “Many active sankirtan devotees felt that it was very helpful and encouraging in getting them out the door that day. So they’re excited for the next few episodes!”

Listen to the first episode of Sankirtan On with Vaisesika Prabhu here:



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Srila Prabhupada’s Penetrating Vision

Nara Narayan: The minute I sincerely begged, his eyes floated around to the side and he looked at me. I froze. That moment seemed like an eternity. He neither beckoned nor rejected, just observed. My whole system collapsed from the inside out. I said, “Oh my God.” All sorts of confusing emotions ran through me. I thought, “I must straighten myself out and think things through. I am not ready to become his disciple yet.”

Harivilasa: Prabhupada looked at me for the first time. His look was very weighty. I could barely look at him.

Kaliyapani: I had my hands folded, and as he very slowly passed right by me, he looked up at me and returned my gesture, which astounded me. Then our eyes met for one or two seconds. That glance is probably the most memorable experience of my life, because it seemed as if time stopped. I felt that Prabhupada saw thousands of my nonsense births and still completely accepted me in spite of everything. It was an experience that was timeless, that was in another dimension.

Radhanatha Swami: When I got up Srila Prabhupada was in front of me. I was on my knees looking up at Srila Prabhupada, who had a serious, concerned expression and was looking right at me. I felt that he was looking into my soul and that it was touched by Srila Prabhupada’s glance. Never before in my life had I had a sensation like that…..Prabhupada stood silently looking at me, penetrating me with his glance. It seemed like hours. Perhaps it was about thirty seconds.

Jadurani: If Prabhupada just casually or even quickly looked at us, it had tremendous significance. Like many devotees, I felt that he wasn’t just seeing my me. It was almost embarrassing, but at the same time it was not embarrassing because you knew that not only was he seeing beyond the body, but he was seeing beyond the faults and beyond the interactions of the modes of nature. He was seeing the soul, which is so full of wonderful qualities. It was embarrassing, and then it went beyond embarrassing; it was blissful when he would glance at you.
We hear that when Krishna took lunch with His cowherd boyfriends, everyone would think, “He’s just looking at me, it’s just me and Him.” That’s how it was with many of us and Prabhupada. If ten people were in the room with him, each had a personal story of the same moments.

Sureshvar: Finally his eyes fell on me. It’s the only time I remember Srila Prabhupada looking directly at me, except for my initiation. He looked at me with such compassion while I was sitting there with a stupid grin on my face. His look said to me that I was an idiot but he still loved me. I thought, “That’s right, Srila Prabhupada, I’m an idiot. You love me, and I’m an idiot.” I was blissful.

Brahmananda: Prabhupada came in. He was to get up on the platform, but instead he stopped, turned, and looked at me. I’ll never forget that. It’s burnt into my memory.

Rambhoru: Prabhupada repeatedly looked around and then looked back at me. Although I had tried to hide myself, I had made myself more obvious. Every time Srila Prabhupada looked at me, my heart broke. I felt humiliated by his glance, and I started to cry. I sobbed and sobbed, and after about ten minutes I felt purified. I felt clean and rejuvenated. It was my first experience of the glory of being humiliated by a pure devotee.

Yasomatinandan: Prabhupada stopped and looked at me, and I realized he was actually looking at me—a soul, not my body. His look said, “Where have you been?” Prabhupada’s eyes had a profound effect on me.

Visakha: At that juncture, Prabhupada looked at me right in the eyes and, although we had looked at each other before this, this was the first time at such a close distance. We were a couple of feet apart. It was a most memorable experience. Prabhupada’s eyes were dark, and they seemed bottomless. I felt that he saw way past the obvious, way past the body and even past the mind. He could actually perceive my consciousness, which was discomforting because my consciousness was far from what it should have been.
You can say his was a penetrating look. But ordinarily the word penetrating implies a critical or judgmental or harsh look. Prabhupada’s look was none of those things. It was a caring, gentle, concerned, and perceptive look. At that time, since it was the first of several times I would experience this, I was quite surprised by how perceptive I felt he was. In the months and years that followed, when he looked at me, my reaction would always be that I was not where I should be in terms of my Krishna consciousness. But rather than being discouraged with my lacking, I wanted to improve, to become more Krishna conscious, just to please him.

Mahakratu: Prabhupada stopped and looked at me. We were very close to each other, looking into each other’s eyes for what seemed like ages. I stood there frozen. At that time, the first time that I had seen Prabhupada came back to me. His eyes were moist, and there was such warmth in them. And their depth was so great that I felt I was looking into another world. It was amazing.

Brahmatirtha: Prabhupada looked right through me as if I wasn’t there. It was as if I was a transparent sheet of glass. Only Prabhupada could have humbled me with that look, I hope for the rest of my life.

Vrindavaneshvari: When I came up to the vyasasana and Prabhupada asked me the four regulative principles, I could hardly speak, and when he looked at me, my head jerked away as if two magnets were repelling each other. It was strange. I couldn’t look at him. I felt that he could see right through me and he knew exactly who I was, where I was at, and what a rascal I was. It was very cleansing. It was so intense that even when I tried to look at Prabhupada again I had to look away.

Candramauli Swami: It seemed like he was looking at me and looking through me. I’ll never forget that look. I thought, “Oh, my God, he’s seeing what I don’t want him to see.” The fact that he noticed me was a nice experience but the other half of it was, “I’m afraid of what he’s seeing.”

Divyanga: At one point, and I’ve heard other devotees have said this happened to them too; Prabhupada looked right through me. It was like some kind of electronic transmission of sorts but I knew that he knew. He looked right into me and I almost fainted. I was freaked out for a second. Then he turned away and I was just surprised. But that was the time when Prabhupada looked into my soul.

Kalakanta: I remember when I was first introduced to Prabhupada with some other library party members. When Prabhupada looked at me, like so many of my God-brothers, I felt that he was looking right through me. I felt like a little insignificant spec of dust in the universe and completely unworthy of being engaged in his service. I was feeling that way and I heard from Srutakirti in one of his books about what Prabhupada was really thinking in his perception when he would look at his disciples that way. He was thinking, “How can I engage this person in Krishna’s service?”

Jaya Gauri: Nobody knew what was happening so that gave him the reason to pay specific attention to me and to look deeply into my eyes. He looked at me as if he could see this life, my past life and all the dirt in my heart and the good things if I had any.

Balavanta: I was in the back of the room, and my eyes and his eyes locked. It was only for a fraction of a second, but I felt that there was a personal connection between us. At such a time one may think, “Oh, I’m special,” but I didn’t think that, because I realized that Srila Prabhupada had the capacity to relate to and connect with every person in that room. Srila Prabhupada was the external manifestation of the Supersoul, God in the heart of every living entity. Srila Prabhupada is not the Supersoul, he’s a perfected jiva soul, and because he’s perfected he has a transparent, direct connection to the Supersoul. Your connection and my connection to the Supersoul may be covered due to our false ego and conditioning. But in Srila Prabhupada’s case, there was no false ego and no conditioning. The spirit soul and the Supersoul were in perfect harmony. He could know my heart perfectly, because the Supersoul knew.

Sama Priya: Prabhupada affected everybody so deeply. His kindness is the kindness of Krishna. He saw the soul in all living beings. All his disciples had felt that glance of Srila Prabhupada that pierces through all the anarthas and bodily identification.

Kurma: Bhakta Arthur was a boxer for the South Sydney Leagues Club, and he was a tough guy. He had a carpet-laying business. Prabhupada’s eyes stopped at Arthur. Arthur was looking at Prabhupada in the eye, and Prabhupada was looking at Bhakta Arthur. Bhakta Arthur recalls that he was looking and looking and looking, and Prabhupada’s gaze was so intense that eventually he had to look away. Prabhupada’s gaze was affectionate but grave at the same time. Bhakta Arthur, who later became Ajamil, said that this glance brought him closer to Krishna consciousness. Along with that glance came all the blessings of Srila Prabhupada and the disciplic succession. He felt impregnated with something spiritual at that time.

Rasananda: Then I paid obeisances and, rising up from the obeisances, I looked up and he was looking at me with that penetrating look that gave the one being looked at the understanding that this great personality sees our soul.

Draupadi: I just looked up at Prabhupada and Prabhupada looked down at me and he said, “Hare Krishna!” and a big, big smile on his face. It was like at that time everything just went spinning. It seemed that I had been traveling through so many universes and so many lifetimes just to come to that point, to see my spiritual master and spiritual father and pure devotee of the Lord stood before me just looking at me in this first meeting.

Vrindavaneswari: Sometimes in my mind I’d be thinking – I was young – “Oh, I wish Prabhupada would look over here, I wish he would look at me.” All of a sudden, Prabhupada would be looking directly at me, piercing me with his eyes, and I felt very foolish.

Tribangananda: Then he looked at me right in the eye and said, “So what is the use of so many stars when with one moon you can light up the whole night?” And it was such a touching experience, Prabhupada talking in that way directly looking in my eyes so deeply, seeing for the first time Prabhupada’s depth of purpose.

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In 1786 Sir William Jones, a Welsh philologist and judge of the supreme court of Bengal, sent shock waves throughout Europe with the following speech he gave in his address to the Asiatic society of Bengal.

“The Sanskrit language, whatever be its antiquity, is of a wonderful structure; more perfect than the Greek, more copious than Latin, and more exquisitely refined than either, yet bearing to both a stronger affinity, both in the roots of verbs and the forms of grammar, than could possibly have been produced by accident; so strong indeed, that no philologer could examine them all three, without believing them to have sprung from some common source, which, perhaps, no longer exists ”.

The Sanskrit language contains some 2012 dhatus, which are word roots, these create the numerous dhatu rupas, which are word formations, which make up the Sanskrit language. Sanskrit can be likened to a lego set which contains some 2012 building blocks, from which one can create innumerable formations. The shock waves which rippled throughout Christian Europe with the discovery of Sanskrit, was the realisation that these dhatus, these Sanskrit word roots were riddled throughout the European languages.

Parivartate is a Sanskrit word meaning “to turn around” “to move in a circle” “to circumambulate”. It is a dhatu rupa which is made up of two dhatus “Pari” which means “Round” and “Vart” or “Vrt” which means “to turn”. The Europeans could quickly understand the significance of such Sanskrit words. This “Vart” which means “to turn” was seen in the English “Vert” as in “Invert” “Divert” “Revert” “Convert” “Pervert” “Subvert” the “Vert” meaning exactly the same as the Sanskrit “Vart” with “Invert” meaning “to turn inwards” “Divert” meaning “to turn in another direction” and “Revert” meaning “to turn back” all reflecting this Sanskrit “Vart” which means “to turn”.

In the Vedas “Mara” is known as “the God of death” the Sanskrit root of this word being “Mr” which is pronounced “Mer” and from which we get the Sanskrit “Mriti” meaning “Death” the Sanskrit “Mriyate” meaning “Deceased” and the Sanskrit “Mrtyu” meaning “Death”. Scholars such as Sir William Jones could immediately see how this Sanskrit root was cognate with the Latin “Mor” and “Mort” meaning “Death” and which are the roots of European words such as “Murder” “Mortician” “Mortuary” “Mortify” “Moribund” “Mortal” “Remorse” and even that most dreaded of words “Mortgage”. All of which came from the Latin “Mor” meaning “Death” which is intimately related to the Sanskrit “Mr” pronounced “Mer” meaning the same, death, and personified by “Mara” the God of death.

In Germany they quickly recognised the significance of Sanskrit to such a degree it was declared “Germany had become a nation of Sanskrit scholars”. Frederich von Schlegel the German philosopher wrote ” There is no language in the world, even Greek which has the clarity and philosophical precision of Sanskrit. India is not only at the origin of everything, intellectually, religiously and politically, even the Greek heritage seems to pale in significance”.

Dyu is a Sanskrit dhatu, a Sanskrit root which means “Heaven” “Sky” “Glow” “Brightness”. From “Dyu” we get the Sanskrit “Dyut” which means “Illuminate” “Shining” “Splendour”. The European scholars such as Sir William Jones, Max Muller, Sir Monier Williams, they could all see that this “Dyu” was the source of the Latin “Deus” meaning “God”. It was also apparant that the Roman God “Jupiter” which means “father of the Gods” was simply the Sanskrit “Dyu pita” meaning “father in heaven”. And not only that it was easy to see that this “Dyu” from which we get the Latin “Deus” and subsequently “Jupiter” was also the source of the Greek God “Zeus” who is non different than the Roman God “Jupiter”.

In the Vedas stars were seen as celestial bodies which crossed the skies. The name for these stars were “Str” its root being the Sanskrit “Tr” which means “to cross over”. Other meanings for this Sanskrit “Str” was “Scatter” “Spread out” and “Strew” all of which describe the nature of stars. This Sanskrit “Str” is the actual origin of the word “Star” and we see this reflected in many Greek and Latin words such as “Astro” “Astrology” “Astronaut” “Astray” “Asteroid” “Asterisk” “Astrometry” “Aster” and many other words whose ultimate source is this Sanskrit “Str” which means “Star”.

The young Max Muller, the scholar of Oxford whose Boden chair was created to destroy India, was a different animal than the old Max Muller, secure in his position and mature in his knowledge of languages. In his book “India, what it can teach us” published in 1882 at the mature age of 59 he wrote the following.

“The Vedic literature opens to us a chamber in the education of the human race to which we can find no parallel anywhere else. Whoever cares for the historical growth of our language and thought, whoever cares for the first intelligent development of religion and mythology, whoever cares for the first foundation of Science, Astronomy, Metronomy, Grammar and Etymology, whoever cares for the first intimation of the first philosophical thoughts, for the first attempt at regulating family life, village life and state life as founded on religion, ceremonials, traditions and contact must in future pay full attention to the study of Vedic literature.”

Pra in Sanskrit is a dhatu, a Sanskrit root which means “to move forward” “to go forth” “to advance” and even “to breathe”. From this we get the dhatu rupas, the word forms such as “Prapadyate” which means “to go forward” and “Pravriti” which means “to advance”. The significance of this “Pra” was not lost upon Europes leading lights, they could see how it was cognate with the Latin “Pro” which means the same “to move forward” and this became the root of many European words such as “Progress” “Proceed” “Procreate” “Propel” “Prolong” “Proactive” “Produce” “Proclaim” “Progeny” “Prophecy” and “Protrude”, there are over a hundred words all beginning with this Latin prefix “Pro” and all intimately connected to the Sanskrit “Pra” which means exactly the same “to move forward”.

So which came first, the Sanskrit or the Latin, the Pra or the Pro. I will leave it to the experts to explain the Latin “Pro” however in Sanskrit each consonant and vowel has inherant meaning and significance. The Sanskrit “Pra” ends with the Sanskrit vowel “A”. In the Bhagavad Gita Krsna declares.

” Of letters I am the letter A, and among compounds I am the dual word. I am also inexhaustable time, and of creators I am Brahma, whose manifold faces turn everywhere.” Gita 10.33

This Sanskrit “A” is seen as a pure sound, its simply a breath, an exhilation which meets no resistance. Because of this the Sanskrit “A” means “movement” the first movement being inhalation and exhilation and we see this reflected in the Sanskrit “Pra-na” which means “Breath”. We also find that the first movement of the universe, the first cause which is set in motion is “Aum” which appropriately begins with this Sanskrit “A” which means “Movement” and “Action”. This is its significance in the Sanskrit “Pra” “to move” “to act” and to suggest that this Sanskrit “Pra” came from the Latin “Pro” despite the wealth of meaning behind these individual Sanskrit words such as the vowel “A” is being extremely ignorant of the elevated nature of the Sanskrit language.

“It was in India, however, that there rose a body of knowledge which was destined to revolutionize European ideas about language. Panini Grammar taught Europeans to analyze speech forms, when one compared the constituent parts, the resemblances, which hitherto had been vaguely recognized, they could be set forth with certainty and precision.” Renowned American linguist Leonard Bloomfield.

Sanskrit is not the result of some vague, foggy, misty, evolutionary red in tooth and claw struggle for survival. Its the natural expression of higher beings, it is non different from the Vedic scriptures themselves, they are like fire and heat or water and liquidity, they are inseperable in both their origin and purpose. An example of this is the Sanskrit Dhatu “Pu” which means “to cleanse” “to purify” “to purge”. From this Sanskrit dhatu we get the dhatu rupas, the word forms of “Punati” which means “to purify” and “Puta” which means “to cleanse”.

We also get the Sanskrit “Putra” meaning “Son” which is formed by two dhatus “Pu” meaning “Pure” and “Tra” meaning “to rescue” “to save” and “to protect”. In the Vedas a son performs purificatory rites which “Protects” the “Purity” of his parents who have left this world or by performing purificatory rites he can “Rescue” or “Save” his parents from hellish conditions. Another word is “Puja” which is once again the Sanskrit root “Pu” meaning “purify” and the Sanskrit “Ja” which means “to go towards” “to advance”. The meaning of Puja is to advance towards purification. Puja also means an offering, worshipping, but it also means a purifying religious rite, so in this way we can see how intimate these Sanskrit dhatus are to the Sanskrit language and how integrated the Sanskrit language is to the Vedic scriptures whose purpose is one of purification, and to suggest this language has any source other than the Vedas themselves is simply ignorance.

In Europe this Sanskrit “Pu” is once again seen in the Latin root “Pur” which means “Pure” and which is the root of many European words such as “Pure” “Purgatory” “Puritanical” “Purpose” “Purport” “Purchase” and many more which all stem from this Latin “Pur” which the scholars of Europe could see was intimately connected to this Sanskrit “Pu” meaning “Pure”.

” I propose to write about the literature of different nations and different centuries. I wish to show that this literature is not many, but one. That the same leading ideas have arisen at epochs apparently far separated from each other, that each nation however isolated it may seem, is, in reality, a link in the great chain of development of the human mind. In other words, to show the unity and continuity’ of literature. This has only been possible within a few years. To the despairing school-boy of fifty years ago the histories of Phoenicians, Carthaginians, Romans, or Greeks, were so many detached pieces of information to be fixed in the memory by dreary plodding. But the moment the mind realizes the mighty truth that one nation is connected with all others, its history becomes delightful and inspiring, because we trace its method of reproducing the ideas we had met elsewhere. And it is to the Sanskrit language that we owe this entire change in our standpoint.” “Sanskrit and its kindred literatures Studies in comparative mythology” Laura Elizabeth Poor.

Jna in Sanskrit means “to know” “to perceive” “to understand”. From “Jna” we get the Sanskrit “Jnana” which means “Knowledge”. In Europe this “Jna” and “Jnana” is reflected in the Greek “Gnosis” meaning “Knowledge” and also the word “Knowledge” itself, it journeys from “Jna-na” to “Gno-sis” to “Kno-wledge” all centred around this Sanskrit “Jna” meaining “to know” “to perceive” “to understand”.

In Latin they simply drop the Greek “G” and “Gno” becomes “No” as in “Nosco” meaning “to know” and “Noscentia” meaning “Knowledge” and “Notus” meaning “Known”. The “G” returns in the Latin “Co-gni-tion” meaning “Knowledge” and “I-gno-tus” and “I-gna-rus” meaning “Unknown” and from which we get the word “I-gno-rant” and “A-gno-stic” which means “not knowing” and once again this reflects the Sanskrit “Jna” which means “to know” “to perceive” “to understand”.

In the Slavik languages this Sanskrit “Jna” becomes the Slavik “Zna” and this is seen in the Bosnian “Znanja” the Russian “Znaniya” the Serbian “Znanje” the Slovenian “Znanje” the Bulgarian “Znaniya” the Croatian “Znanje” the Czech “Znalost” the Polish “Znajomosc” and the Ukraine “Znannya” all meaning “Knowledge” and all reflecting this Sanskrit “Jna” meaning “to know” “to perceive” “to understand”.

As well as “Jnana” meaning “Knowledge” we also have the Sanskrit “Veda” meaning the same. The Vedas are a vast body of knowledge handed down from lofty spheres. The root of the word Veda is “Vid” which means “to know” “to perceive” “to understand”. From “Vid” we get the Sanskrit “Vidura” meaning “Wise” we get “Vidya” meaning “Science” and we get “Vedanta” meaning “the end of all knowledge”.

In Latin we have “Videre” which means “to see” from which we get the word “Video” meaning “i see”. From this Sanskrit “Vid” meaning “to know” “to perceive” we also get the Latin words “E-vid-ent” “Vision” and “Visitor”. In Greek they either drop the “V” or they replace it with an “E” and so we have the Greek “Eido” meaning “to know” and “Idman” meaning the same.

In Europe this “Vid” and “Veda” is seen throughout their languages. In Czechoslovakia their name for science is “Veda” their name for scientist is “Vedec” and their name for knowledge is “Vedemost”. In Slovakia their name for knowledge is “Veda” their name for science is “Veda” and their name for scientist is “Vedec” all reflecting this Sanskrit “Veda” and “Vid” meaning “Knowledge”. In Romania their name for knowledge is “Vedea”, in Denmark their name for knowledge is “Viden” their name for science is “Videnschab” and in Belarussia their name for knowledge is “Viedy”. In Sweden their name for knowledge is “Vetande” and “Vetenskap” their name for science is “Vetenskap” and their name for scientist is “Vetenskapmann” all reflecting this Sanskrit “Vid” and “Veda” meaning “Knowledge”. The Germans replace a Sanskrit “V” with a German “W” and “Vid” becomes the German “Wit” meaing “to understand”.

“The grammar of Panini stands supreme among the grammars of the world, alike for its precision of statement, and for its thorough analysis of the roots of the language and of the formative principles of words. By employing an algebraic terminology it attains a sharp succinctness unrivalled in brevity, but at times enigmatical. It arranges, in logical harmony, the whole phenomena which the Sanskrit language presents, and stands forth as one of the most splendid achievements of human invention and industry. So elaborate is the structure, that doubts have arisen whether its complex rules of formation and phonetic change, its polysyllabic derivatives, its ten conjugations with their multiform aorists and long array of tenses, could ever have been the spoken language of a people.” The Indian Empire – By Sir William Wilson Hunter


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Kirtan: Are there rules? By Rasananda das


“How any spiritual activity should be done is understood from three sources: saintly persons, standard scriptures and the spiritual master”. (Srimad Bhagavatam 3.28.4, purport)

Proper sankirtan – a phrase used by Srila Bhaktisiddhanta Saraswati in his Sri Sanmodana Bhasyam and by Lord Caitanya Himself – means certain tunes, certain instruments, a certain musical style, certain dress and certain kinds of dancing by the members of the chanting party. In Caitanya Mahaprabhu’s sankirtan movement, rathayatra and the kirtan that is its soul are for distributing the benediction of the Lord’s own process for spiritual emancipation to the onlookers and participants alike. Understanding this, when sincere organizers of a rathayatra or sankirtan party see to it that the rath and the kirtan are proper, what to speak of people, even the birds and animals that hear and witness it can immediately experience spiritual happiness. Only some impersonalists and hardened atheists present might fail to experience the Lord’s benediction. On the other hand, Kirtan not according to the rules may succeed in entertaining onlookers but being not according to the principles and practices of acaryas and experienced devotees, the greatest result – transformation from spiritual somnolescence to a state of spiritual awakening, of actual Krishna consciousness – will not result. Such kirtans simply lack the potency to enact such transformation. Srila Saraswati Thakur therefore says that kirtan, if it is not proper, is not actually.

There are standards for what is to be sung and how to sing it, what instruments are to be used and how the participants should appear, how they should move, how they should dance, and failure to accept and implement those standards makes kirtan or rathayatra less spiritual and more of an entertaining show.

Some object that Lord Caitanya Mahaprabhu, in Sri Siksastaka, says that there are “no hard and fast rules for chanting”. It is a fact that to attract the public with musical artistry may have its usefulness, but somewhere in the movement must be some persons who understand and practice the real thing. Siksastaka’s “no hard and fast rules” refers to the individual jiva’s appeal, in helplessness to the Lord for His protection. When calling for help in situations like fire or accident there are no rules on how to call: One’s may call for help in a language unknown to the local people yet the purpose is served. In disease, the sufferer’s utterances may be incoherent but the doctor’s approach remains controlled and professional and the so the benefit of his efforts to help the sufferer are maximal. The point is that the knowledge and sincerity of at least the leaders of an organized activity like sankirtan or rathayatra to a large extent determine the outcome of the program. If the chanting is materially contaminated, its purifying benefit for the onlookers are less: “If one chants the holy name of the Lord just to make a show, not knowing the secret of success, he may increase his bile secretion, but he will never attain perfection in chanting the holy name.” (Sri Caitanya-caritamrta, Adi-lila, 7.95-96 purport)

Still, as indicated in the item headed “San Francisco wild kirtans” later in the article, even if the chanters are not properly trained, if they are sincerely trying to please the acharya and the Lord, then their chanting is spiritually efficacious. The more their sincerity, knowledge and experience, the more will be the spiritual power of their chanting. Training simply means their knowledge of which tunes are better, which musical quality framing the chanting is best, how loud the accompanying karatals and mrdanga should be in comparison to the loudness of the chanting, the rhythmicity and the performers’ dress, gestures and way of dancing.

By sankirtan being properly performed the Lord is pleased with the chanters for their vibrating His names, for their efforts to remind the ignorant of His identity and glories – that He is their best friend, that matter due to its temporary nature is not true while the spiritual realm is true -and to invite them to give up their struggle for unattainable happiness in matter and go back to Him. As far as musical ornamentation, it is acceptable for attracting the people’s attention, but devotees should not be attached to it. Chanting in front of ‘devotee only’ audiences should be in the old tunes.

Besides introductory chanting of the pancatattva maha mantra three times, only the mahamantra, in tunes sung by Srila Prabhupada or other simple tunes that can easily be followed and responded to by the public, is to be chanted. Anyone not familiar with Prabhupada’s kirtans can find them on the internet.

In street sankirtan and rathayatra, no other mantras but the mahamantra are to be chanted. Even the Nrsimha mantra is not for public kirtan. And “Jai Jagannath, Jai Baladev, Jai Subhadra” is nowhere to found in sastras or the writings of acharyas and is therefore not in fact a mantra capable of liberating the hearer.

“In Bhagavad-gita the Lord says that people’s sufferings are due to their sinful activities, and sinful activities are caused by ignorance. Suppose a foreigner like me comes to America and does not know that cars are driven on the right side of the road. In India the car is driven on the left side. So suppose a person does not know and he drives the car on the left and gets involved in an accident. If he is taken into police custody and says, “Sir, I did not know that here the car is driven on the right side,’’ that does not excuse him. The law will punish him.

“So ignorance is the cause of sinful activities or breaking the law. And when you commit some sinful activity, you have to suffer the result. The whole world is in ignorance. And due to ignorance everyone is implicated in so many actions and reactions, either good or bad.

“Ultimately, there is nothing good within this material world; everything is bad. We have manufactured something good and something bad. But in the Bhagavad-gita we learn that this place is duhkhalayam asasvatam, a place for misery. So in this miserable condition how can you say, “This is good’’ or “This is bad’’? Everything is bad.

“One should be very much pessimistic about the material world. Then one can make advancement in spiritual life. Duhkhalayam asasvatam. This place is full of miseries. If you study analytically, you’ll find simply miserable conditions.

“Therefore we should give up our material conditional life, and in Krsna consciousness we should try to elevate ourselves to the spiritual platform and thereby be promoted to the kingdom of Godhead.” (Lecture, Los Angeles, Dec. 9, 1969; Disappearance Day of Srila Bhaktisiddhanta Sarasvati Gosvami)

Proper chanting

Gaurasundara said, “When many persons gather together and properly chant the names of Krishna, I will certainly appear there.” (Caitanya Bhagavat, Adi Kanda 5.151, Srila Bhaktisiddhanta Saraswati’s Gaudiya Basya purport)

Kali-yuga worshipable because perfection achievable by performing sankirtana

Those who are actually advanced in knowledge are able to appreciate the essential value of this age of Kali. Such enlightened persons worship Kali-yuga because in this fallen age all perfection of life can easily be achieved by the performance of sankirtana. (Srimad-Bhagavatam 11.5.36)

Sankirtana means ‘complete kirtana. Partial or imperfect kirtana is not real sankirtana

Sankirtana means ‘complete kirtana’, for it is unnecessary to perform any other devotional activities if one performs sankirtana. Partial or imperfect kirtana of Lord Krsna’s holy name is not the same as sankirtana. Imperfect chanting of Krsna’s name is unable to cause the optimum spiritual change in the living entities. This will lead them to doubt the potency of kirtana. (Srila Bhaktisiddhanta Saraswati’s commentary on Bhaktivinoda Thakur’s Sanmodana Bhasyam commentary on Siksastakam, sloka 1)

Chanting must be heard from pure devotees in disciplic succession

Holy names uttered by the Mayavadis are not holy names but simply a perverted reflection of the holy names. Therefore in spite of chanting such names, the Mayavadis are affected by the faults ofnamaparadha. (Sajjana Toshani 5.12)

sampradaya-vihina ye mantras te nisphala matah – If your mantra does not come through the disciplic succession, it will not be effective. (Padma Purana)

Pretensious kirtan results in sending people to Hell 
“Making a pretense of harinama, people are waltzing their way to hell. ” (Srila Prabhupadera Goloka-vani, Vol. 1, p 286)

“…chant in the proper way, then my predecessors, the acaryas, will be satisfied” So this is very nice process. And even others do not take it very seriously or they do not come to our philosophy, if you try for it, that is your business. Krsna will be satisfied. Our acaryas will be satisfied, Guru Maharaja will be satisfied. And yasya prasadad bhagavat… If they are satisfied, then your business is finished. You see? Not that others is satisfied or not. By your chanting some public is satisfied—no, we are not concerned with that. He may be satisfied or not satisfied. But if I chant in the proper way, then my predecessors, the acaryas, will be satisfied. That is my business, finished, if I don’t invent in my own way. Srila Bhaktisiddhanta Sarasvati Gosvami Prabhupada Appearance Day Lecture, L.A. Feb. 7, 1969)

Kirtan leaders should chant in the manner of the acarya… all should be pure devotees

“Regarding Kirtana Party: My idea is that at least one dozen persons should form a Kirtana Party. Two persons play mrdangas, eight persons play karatalas, one person playing tamboura, and one person playing melodious harmonium. The person who will play on tamboura will be leader singer. You have just calculated what I want, when you suggest that the leader should sing as I do, and the others will respond. That will be very nice. But all the members of the party will be pure devotees. None of them should be outsiders. We do not want any outsiders as far as possible. Mrdanga playing as you are doing at present will make you more and more expert as you go on playing. Here also I see Gaurasundara simply by playing is improving. If all the members keep their faith in Krishna and tries to please Him, certainly everyone will be pleased by hearing our Kirtana. It is sure and certain. When such Kirtana will be demonstrated, only the harmonium player may sit, and all the others may stand up and join the Kirtana and dancing properly dressed.” (Prabhupada letter to Hansadutta, February 4, 1968)

Sankirtana means complete, perfect kirtana. It can never be partial or imperfect

Sankirtana means ‘complete kirtana’, for it is unnecessary to perform any other devotional activities if one performs sankirtana. Partial or imperfect kirtana of Lord Krsna’s holy name is not the same as sankirtana. Imperfect chanting of Krsna’s name is unable to cause the optimum spiritual change in the living entities. This will lead them to doubt the potency of kirtana. (Srila Bhaktisiddhanta Saraswati’s commentary on sloka 1 of Bhaktivinoda Thakur’s Sanmodana Bhasyam commentary on Siksastakam)

Tune, manner of chanting:

While Prabhupada did on a few occasions say that other tunes and musical styles could be used, looking into the matter more extensively, seeing how many times he asked or emphatically instructed that the simple tunes he used be chanted, we understand that he wanted those tunes to be used. As far as the occasional permissions he gave for other tunes and musical styles to be used, there were always stipulations.

First we will present the evidence that the old, simple tunes accompanied by karatals and mrdanga played in simple rhythms should be used.

Authorized songs means the songs which were sung or composed by self-realized Acaryas.

“Regarding authorized songs, you may inform George that authorized songs means the songs which were sung or composed by self-realized Acaryas. It is an injunction in the Vaisnava regulations that unauthorized songs or statements should never be heard. The comparison is given that milk, although very nutritious food, if it is touched by the tongue of a serpent, it acts like poison. So I am giving herewith a few lines of authorized songs which you may deliver to George. They are as follows:

1. hare krsna hare krsna krsna krsna hare hare

hare rama hare rama rama rama hare hare

2. hari haraye namah krsna yadavaya namah

yadavaya madhavaya kesavaya namah

3. krsna krsna krsna krsna krsna krsna krsna hay

krsna krsna krsna krsna krsna krsna krsna hay

krsna krsna krsna krsna krsna krsna raksa mam

krsna krsna krsna krsna krsna krsna pahi mam

krsna kesava krsna kesava krsna kesava raksa mam

rama raghava rama raghava rama raghava pahi mam

So these songs were sung by Lord Caitanya Himself, therefore they are the most authorized songs.

I am very glad to learn that he has given up composing nonsense songs, it is a great advancement of his spiritual life. But as he has got the aptitude for writing songs, I shall be very glad to give him many such themes of songs on which he can write in his own language and expression. I am giving below one theme:

“My Dear Lord, I have simply wasted my privileges of human form of life. This life was meant for understanding Krsna Consciousness and the pastimes of Lord Krsna with Radharani, but I did not take care of this important business of life. Therefore I have not only wasted my valuable time, but also I have willingly drunk poison for committing suicide. My heart is always in blazing fire because of my association with material sense enjoyment, and I did not fix up my mind in the Krsna Consciousness movement which is imported directly from the Kingdom of God. This Krsna Consciousness movement is inaugurated by Lord Caitanya and Lord Nityananda Who are Krsna and Balarama respectively. They have descended very kindly to reclaim all fallen souls of this age of whom the typical examples are the two brothers Jagai and Madhai. Now, forgetting all mistakes that I have committee. in my past life, I humbly surrender unto You, my Lord Krsna the Son of Nanda Maharaja, and also to Srimati Radharani the daughter of King Vrsabhanu. So both of You are present together, and I fully surrender unto You. Please do not reject me as I have no other shelter except Yourselves.”

“Perhaps you have heard, and George has also heard, my song on this theme, “Hari Hari bifale janama gonainu . . .” So if George can compose a nice song in his own words, and sings, I am sure it will be an epoch making incident. There are many hundreds of thousands of such themes, and if he wants to introduce such songs propitious for pushing Krsna Consciousness movement, that will be very nice.

“The transcendental vibration OM is also authorized, but is specifically sung by the impersonalists. Although there is no incongruity, still because we are preaching the personal feature of God, we shall not chant Hari Om. … …this specific sound of Kirtana as I sing is also another introduction of art that can be intermingled with Western art, and such combination will certainly be appreciated. But so far I know that the Kirtana tune is a specific representation of Gaudiya Vaisnavas and this tune is appreciated all over India as unique. They say that the Kirtana tune is the specific gift of Bengal, and that is a fact. So why not utilize this tune in the Western countries under the able guidance of such expert musician as George?” (Prabhupada letter to Syamasundara, 25 February, 1970)i

Prabhupada’s kirtanas are special

“Religious teachers may talk about God or meditation, but Prabhupada chants, he actually sings – a guru who sings the Lord’s holy names. Within the first moments of my meeting him, I saw and heard him chant. He walked into the storefront where we were waiting, sat down on the same level as us, and spoke a few words. He handed out the karatals and told us the rhythm, “One, two, three; one, two, three.” Then he began to sing, “Hare Krsna, Hare Krsna … “

So, as soon as you came into his presence, you were hearing a singing Swami. Of course, Srila Prabhupada also talked of Krsna, but he gave equal attention to singing the Lord’s holy names. It is not that he was mainly a philosopher who sang on a rare occasion. He was a minstrel on behalf of Krsna, always singing Hare Krsna, Hare Krsna, Krsna Krsna, Hare Hare …

You would ask him, “Swamiji, is there some system of meditation you teach?” He would reply, “Chanting. We chant the holy names.”

“But aside from the chanting?”

“Just the chanting,” he said, “that’s all. You cannot do any other meditation. You are not capable of yoga or anything like Vedanta. Just chant.”

He even said that studying philosophy was not necessary. One could make full advancement in love of God simply by chanting the transcendental vibration.

Prabhupada said that our kirtanas with him were special, even in comparison to others’ kirtanas. One time he invited us to accompany him to a yogi’s asrama in upstate New York. He told us that they also chanted Hare Krsna sometimes, “But ours is heart and soul.”

Prabhupada gave his disciples credit for chanting kirtanas with heart and soul as he did. One evening we had a small, informal kirtana in Prabhupada’s hotel room in Hawaii. Since there was no official program at the temple, Prabhupada was spending a quiet evening working, and his servants were also busy with their tasks. However, Prabhupada called us together and asked us to chant. I came from my editorial desk, Pradyumna came from his Sanskrit work, and Bali Mardana and Sudama also came. Prabhupada asked Sudama to lead the singing. As Sudama began to sing a particular tune, he became self-conscious and stopped. He said, “That’s not the right tune.” He meant that it was not the tune that Prabhupada usually sang. Prabhupada encouraged him, “That is all right. That is your ecstasy.” It enlivened us to think that Prabhupada said we had ecstasy within us, and that even a neophyte devotee’s choosing of a particular tune could be called “his ecstasy.”

Prabhupada’s followers always liked to perform kirtana, especially in his presence. Prabhupada was in weak health when he met with guests during his visit to Hrsikesa in 1977. He spoke for almost an hour and then said, “So now we can have kirtana.” There were a few Indian men present and they began to discuss Prabhupada’s invitation to hold kirtana.

One of the men said, “Prabhupada, tomorrow if you will be willing to come just a hundred feet away from here, there is big hall nearby that can hold many more people who want to hear you.”

“Yes,” Prabhupada said. “I can do that tomorrow night. And now we can have kirtana. If you like, you can go to that hall and do kirtana.”

Two of the Indian men began speaking to each other about Prabhupada’s proposal. One said, “Prabhupada is saying that tomorrow night we can have kirtana in the hall.”

The other man said, “No, right now we should have it.”

Tamala Krishna Maharaja began to laugh at this conversation, because the men were like little children trying to work up their courage to go on harinama. One of them wanted to put off the kirtana until tomorrow night, but the other was trying to be brave and convince his friend that “Prabhupada says we should do it right now.”

The talk went on about whether to do kirtana or not. Suddenly, Trivikrama Swami began clapping his hands in a loud rhythm and singing, “nama om visnu-padaya … “ Trivikrama Swami’s voice cut through the speculation and he seemed to say, “I may not be the world’s best singer, but here goes, right now.”

One time, during the annual Gaura-Purnima festival in Mayapura, Prabhupada called his GBC men to his room to tell them that he was hearing and take pleasure in the kirtana. With his leaders gathered before him in the room, Prabhupada stated that all the devotees in the world should come to Mayapura and constantly have kirtana. He was very blissful as he told them of Bhaktivinoda Thakura’s statement that he had searched the fourteen worlds but found nothing of value except the chanting of the holy names. Prabhupada said that this was Mayapura’s purpose, to come and chant. We may have problems in different parts of the world, but they will go away if we simply come together and chant. Lord Caitanya always chanted and we could do it also. We now had a big building in Mayapura, so everyone could come and live there and simply chant.

On one level, we all enjoyed this blissful talk by Prabhupada, but since the GBC men had so much managerial responsibility, they were also bewildered as to how this could be carried out. Finally Ramesvara spoke, “Prabhupada, if we were actually to do what you said, it would very much reduce the … I mean, how could the programs go on in the different temples around the world?”

“Oh yes,” Prabhupada agreed. Then the talk became managerial. Suggestions were made how we could increase the practice of kirtana in the various ISKCON temples. Prabhupada agreed that some temples were too small to hold constant kirtana, but a few of the bigger temples could attempt to hold twenty-four-hour kirtana, as long as it was not done to the detriment of other work. Prabhupada (he) didn’t mean it literally, he said. All the devotees could not come and live always in Mayapura. So it became a relative discussion about the possibilities of increasing the chanting, although Prabhupada had originally called us together to share his own bliss and to ask that we should all stay in Mayapura to chant.” (Prabhupada Meditations, Volume III, Satsvarupa dasa Goswami)

The old, traditional tune: “I like that tune very much”

“Everyone was excited: Prabhupada was about to arrive in Delhi. Many devotees awaited his arrival, including many ISKCON leaders, so rather than bicker over what aspect of the arrival I would help with, I let the others bargain. “I want to give a garland,” said one person. “You get his luggage,” said another. “I want to wash his feet,” someone else informed us. Eventually, all the devotional duties were assigned, until only I was left. “No one had volunteered to lead kirtan,” I thought to myself.”

Prabhupada’s arrival was very formal on this occasion, and he hardly looked at anyone as he walked into the airport waiting lounge. He offered pranams, but kept a stern look. While he passed through the devotees, I began to bellow out the Hare Krishna mantra to the old, traditional tune we used to sing in New York and San Francisco. Prabhupada, still aloof, heard the chanting and saw me with the kartalas. Then his reticence became a bright, wide-open smile, and he gave me a big wave. As he got in the car, he invited me to join him. “I like that tune very much,” he said, smiling contentedly.

I answered, “Like we sang in San Francisco.” (By His Example, Gurudas das)

Prabhupada sang one tune throughout

Gaura Gopala: “I was right next to Prabhupada through the whole ceremony, playing the drum. He particularly liked to sing one tune through the whole time. He put his hands up in the air. He was dancing.” (Srila Prabhupada Lilamrita, Satsvarupa dasa Goswami, Vol. 5, 44. Let There be a Temple)

Prabhupada “kept the same tune”

“Several people gathered around us as we chanted. Then Srila Prabhupada arrived with a few devotees. He walked the blocks from the temple to the park, which was about a ten-minute walk. Then he sat down and joined us. He played drum himself, and he chanted Hare Krsna for at least an hour. The rhythms would rise and fall like the waves in the ocean, and we would rise and fall with them. He would lead, we would respond, and then he would lead again. Sometimes I would look up to him, sometimes at the crowd, which grew to many people, and the chanting never stopped. Srila Prabhupada’s voice was strong. He kept the same tune, and we kept chanting as if we would never stop: Hare Krsna Hare Krsna, Krsna Krsna Hare Hare/ Hare Rama Hare Rama, Rama Rama Hare Hare.” (Prabhupada Lila, Satsvarupa dasa Goswami, Ch,1: Meeting Srila Prabhupada)

Prabhupada rejects showy kirtan

“At one of the festivals in Vrndavana, Prabhupada rejected the singing of one of his disciples. The devotee had previously been a singer in a band and his kirtanas were much appreciated by some devotees, especially those from his home temple. But when, with showy professionalism, he began leading the guru-puja in Prabhupada’s presence making the tune sound like a rock’n’roll ballad, Prabhupada didn’t like it. He shook his head and indicated that someone else lead.” (Srila Prabhupada Nectar, Satsvarupa dasa Goswami, Ch. 1, Little Drops of Nectar)

The essence is not ornamentation but ecstasy… awakened by sravanam kirtanam

“ …with our kirtana we are only using drums and karatalas, but people come to the point of ecstasy. It is not the ornamentation, it is the ecstasy. This ecstasy is awakened by sravanam kirtanam by devotees. I hope this makes everything clear.” (Prabhupada letter to Dr. Wolf, Jan. 29,1976)

A great secret about the essence of Krsna consciousness: chanting the way we used to when Prabhupada was present

“At Gita-nagari we held an old time kirtana. First we listened to a 1966 kirtana led by Prabhupada. I pointed out that Prabhupada sang only one tune and kept a steady beat for half an hour. Then we tried it. It produced a wonderful feeling and so we repeated it again the next night. Here are some of the letters I received from devotees who were in those kirtanas:

Muktavandya: “I feel like we discovered a great secret about the essence of Krsna consciousness tonight. I suggest you do this wherever you go because it will remind and enlighten everyone about what it was like with Prabhupada. The chanting tonight was very, very nice. Very powerful medicine. Not at all mechanical.”

Caitanya-rupa dasi: “The kirtana last night was wonderful! One devotee told me her opinion that if we were to do this more often we would all come to love each other. I hope we’re going to have this type of kirtana again.”

“Our experiment took place in front of Prabhupada murti in the Gita-nagari temple room. The Deity doors were open and Radha-Damodara gave us Their darsana. We began sitting and we were careful not to speed up. After fifteen minutes one or two devotees stood up to dance. Soon everyone was up. The dancing was that style which some persons have called “The Swami Step.” The nice thing about it was that the dancing energy was not concentrated in one place. There were no superstar dancers. The women were also dancing, as the kirtana energy spread democratically throughout the room.”

“I thought I would become bored, and I braced myself for that, but it did not occur. The only reason I looked at the clock was to make sure we did not go too long. Something nice was happening for everyone. It was a combination of the timeless potency of harinama, and the special effect of chanting the way we used to when Prabhupada was present.” (Prabhupada Meditations, Satsvarupa dasa Goswami, Vol. 3, Ch. 3: Old Time Kirtans)

The tunes sung by Prabhupada are Vaikuntha melodies

“Srila Prabhupada, who is a paramahamsa, who descended from the spiritual sky, who brought his melodies…he said these are Vaikuntha melodies. If we want to know how do they chant in Krishna Loka, it’s not a Marathi melody, it’s not a Gujarati melody, it’s not a Punjabi melody or a Bengali melody or a South Indian melody or a Tamil melody. These are Vaikuntha melodies. So if you want to know what is it like in Krishna Loka, listen to Prabhupada chanting because that’s where he’s situated, he’s situated in Krishna Loka.” (Naranarayan das, ISKCON Mumbai 25th Anniversary, at Chowpatty Temple)

Up to his last days, Prabhupada encouraged chanting in a simple, meditative way… as he had done

Laksmi Nrsimhadev: “… I was sitting in the corner, Srila Prabhupada was lying on his bed and Bhavananda was doing various things. Since it was midnight it was very, very quiet. There was hardly any light at all and I could barely see Srila Prabhupada because I was in the back doorway. Bhavananda gave me small kartals and he said, “Play very, very softly because Prabhupada should get his rest.” I thought that Srila Prabhupada was asleep because he was lying very still and Bhavananda was tiptoeing around. I figured, “Okay, let me chant something very simple.” So I started chanting the standard melody “Hare Krishna, Hare Krishna, Krishna Krishna, Hare Hare.” (sings softly) I was chanting that for a while and I don’t know what possessed me to change that tune but at this particular time someone had introduced “brahma bole chaturmukhe, krishna krishna hare hare.” As soon as I got through the first line “krishna krishna, hare hare”, Prabhupada’s hand went up like a traffic cop. I thought Prabhupada was asleep. But his hand just came from the side of the bed and went up… I immediately went right back to the standard melody… Prabhupada encouraged us to chant the Panchatattva mantra and of course obeisances to guru, and to chant Hare Krishna in a simple, meditative way just like he did. He didn’t use very many melodies and every time you listen to Prabhupada chant, it was a total meditation. That’s what he wanted to hear and that’s what I got from that experience; just keep it simple. (Srila Prabhupada Remembrances [Siddhanta das ITV], Chapter 51)

Melodic instruments divert attention from the mantra; rhythm instruments make one inclined to dance and dancing unlocks devotion; melodies are to be filled with the mantra; no extended notes

Revatinandana: “Srila Prabhupada gave a Sunday feast lecture about kirtan, and he said things that I never heard him say at other times, particularly not during a lecture. He remarked that melodic instruments, including the harmonium, are not meant for kirtan, and he explained why. He said that the ear will automatically follow musical strains, and then our attention will be diverted from the mantra. He said that rhythm instruments are good for kirtan because they make one more inclined to dance, and dancing, in turn, unlocks devotion. He liked graceful dancing. He used to mention that Jayatirtha was a graceful dancer. He said, “See how he dances. This is very good. This will help one feel more devotion.” Another time he told Vishnujana that he did not like melodies that had long, extended notes in them. He liked the melody to be filled with the mantra.

During the lecture he gave that day he also said, “Don’t harmonize during the response.” The leader may sing little variations, but the group should sing a steady response. One person shouldn’t be singing one melody and another doing another melody during the response. “These things,” he said, “will help one pay more attention to the mantra as one is chanting and dancing. That way one will get the maximum benefit, and the kirtan will also become more ecstatic.” He also said that the dancing should be graceful and gentlemanly. Then, during the second kirtan, he got off the vyasasana and danced in the middle of the kirtan party. He danced back and forth very gracefully in what we called the “swami step.” After a while he put his hands up and started leaping up in the air straight up and down. He wasn’t shaking his body around. His hands were up, and he was leaping in the air. He kept leaping and leaping and leaping for a long time, and we were doing it with him. I got tired. I stopped and started to dance back and forth at one point. I was twenty-two years old at the time, and he was over seventy. Yet Prabhupada went right on leaping. He seemed to have no physical exhaustion at all. I was impressed because I thought, “I play basketball and here this guy can jump more than I can.” I shouldn’t say “guy,” but those are the kind of thoughts that were going through my mind. It was the first time I had ever seen him dance, and I was amazed.” (Srila Prabhupada Remembrances [Siddhanta das ITV], Chapter 8)

Melody should not supersede the Holy Name

Bhavananda: “During the festival the devotees were having a kirtan in the temple in Mayapur. They sang a tune that lent itself to saying Ga’dadhar (accent on first syllable). But it was one of those newer melodies. Prabhupada called me in and said, “They are singing Ga’dadhar but it is Gada’dhar (accent on second syllable).” I told everyone, but no one listened to me. They all continued to chant Ga’dadhar because it was more syncopated for the melody. The melody shouldn’t take precedence over the name.” (Srila Prabhupada Remembrances [Siddhanta das, ITV] Chapter 18)

Prabhupada wanted the devotees to learn how to do kirtan properly

Prabhupada wanted to teach his London-bound disciples to sing and play instruments in a specific way. Someone should learn to play the harmonium properly-following the melody, not simply pumping it, as the devotees had been doing for years. And the Sanskrit mantras and bhajanas should be pronounced properly and the melodies sung correctly. Some melodies were to be sung in the morning, others in the evening. Each word was to be pronounced correctly and with the right intonation.

Prabhupada liked Yamuna’s singing, and Mukunda was an expert musician for organizing the party. The spacious Montreal temple was a suitable place for them to practice. Ideally, Prabhupada said, the party should have two mridanga players, one harmonium player, one tamboura player, and at least six karatala players. He talked about sending the group not only to London but to the European continent and then to Asia also. So he wanted them to become expert at kirtana. (Prabhupada Lila 7– 4, Satsvarupa Swami: A Summer in Montreal 1968)

In his last days Prabhupada was pleased by kirtan in the old tunes

Rupa-Vilasa: During Prabhupada’s last days, 24-hour kirtan was going on in his room and devotees would chant for him in shifts. I went with a group of gurukula students. Prabhupada couldn’t take too much sound so we used tiny kartals and made as little noise as possible. Tamal Krishna Maharaj asked me to lead the chanting and I thought, “I’d really like to please Prabhupada with this chanting.” I tried to remember every tune that Prabhupada had chanted the Hare Krishna mantra to and I chanted those. I really concentrated, then our shift ended and we left. The next day when we went to chant, Tamal Krishna Maharaj grabbed me by the arm and said, “You have to chant for Prabhupada.” I said, “Sure, but why?” He said, “The other day after you left Prabhupada called me over and said, ‘Who was that chanting?’” Tamal, always the guardian, said, “Was there anything wrong, Prabhupada?” Prabhupada said, “No. It was very nice.” (Srila Prabhupada Remembrances [Siddhanta das ITV], Chapter 43)

Popular Bengali melodies are a form of entertainment

Dinadayadri: “At the first Mayapur festival in 1972, when the cornerstone was laid, devotees were learning so-called Bengali-style chanting, which was quite different from the chanting Srila Prabhupada had taught us. The Bengali melodies, rather than being completely transcendental, were a form of traditional folk entertainment. When, instead of simply absorbing Srila Prabhupada’s example and trying to emulate that, the devotees imbibed these Indian styles, techniques and drumbeats. Prabhupada expressed some displeasure especially in the beginning when they weren’t good at it.

Achyutananda Maharaj had been in India for some time, learned these styles from some of Prabhupada’s God-brothers in the Gaudiya Math and had started teaching others. Maharaj was a bit arrogant about it, “You don’t know how to chant. I’ll teach you how you should be chanting. In India you have to do it this way.” Some devotees fell for it because the drumbeats and tunes were catchy. But the devotees weren’t good at it, so the result was a cacophony of unpleasant sounds—a mess—rather than the beautiful, angelic chanting that we did under Prabhupada’s tutelage. When Prabhupada heard those kirtans from his thatched hut he’d make a face and say, “It is a pinching sound,” and he would close his windows to reduce the volume. When the kirtan ended he’d say, “Thank goodness it’s over.”” (Srila Prabhupada Remembrances [Siddhanta das ITV], Chapter 37)

Kirtana of persons not anxious for their own well-being is of no benefit
“As long as we remain aloof from Krishna-kirtana that is conducted by pure devotees, maya will delude us in various ways. We will derive no benefit by joining the kirtana of persons who are not anxious for their own wellbeing and hoodwink themself. There will be no sankirtana if we follow such people who, without receiving instructions from true Vaishnavas, imitatively decorate their body with beads and tilaka and screech out some names that merely resemble harinama. ” (Srila Bhaktisiddhanta Saraswati, Sri Caitanya’s Teachings, p. 122)

Musical ornamentation attracts people but devotees should not be attached to it

“Aniruddha: Vishnujana Swami was a wonderful devotee who sang beautifully. Prabhupada said, “By his singing alone, he can go back to the spiritual world.” And Vishnujana Swami was expert in playing the tambora, the mridanga, the harmonium, and in making up his own melodies. He was a little embarrassed to play his own melodies for Prabhupada, but he wanted to be recognized. Once, in the La Cienega temple, where Prabhupada had a small private room adjoining the main temple room, Vishnujana was elaborately playing his melodies on the harmonium in the temple room when Prabhupada came out of his room and said, “What is wrong with the melodies I have given you?” Today the movement has grown and we have many different melodies, but I’m fond of Prabhupada’s original ones.

Prabhupada knew that we were attracting all varieties of people and he was broad-minded. When Vishnujana Maharaj started the road shows using guitars and a lot of music, Prabhupada said, “This is very good to attract people, but the devotees shouldn’t get attached to it.” Today, however, in some places it’s common for devotees to play all these songs. Whatever brings a person to Krishna consciousness is all right – Prabhupada taught us to be broad-minded – but we have to be careful not to compromise.” (Srila Prabhupada Remembrances [Siddhanta das ITV], Chapter 32)

“Those who possess love and devotion in their hearts love to hear Kirtana in the old and ancient tune.”

We were extremely pained to hear kirtana performed by Nyadas, Bahuls and other unauthorized people in the tune of cinemas songs. But our pain was somewhat diminished by hearing the eternal names of Hari, Krsna and Rama uttered by them in the course of their singing. Those who possess love and devotion in their hearts love to hear Kirtana in the old and ancient tune. They do not like to hear or sing useless topics. They sing and hear the pure holy names of Hari in the old tune. Due to lack of good association, the residents of this metropolitan city do not easily realize the characteristics of pure devotional service. Therefore they follow their own concocted process. Anyhow our Sri Gauranga is most merciful. Since He has mercifully allowed the residents of Calcutta to perform Kirtana, we hope that gradually He will reveal pure devotional service in their hearts. (Bhaktivinoda Vani Vaibhav, 55.Chanting the holy names of the Lord)

That old kirtana tune is “the specific gift of Bengal”

Regarding the presentation of “Govindam” as well as other mantras, the vibration is always pure. I will give the theme and if the sound is Westernized that does not matter. But another point is that this specific sound of Kirtana as I sing is also another introduction of art that can be intermingled with Western art, and such combination will certainly be appreciated. But so far I know that the Kirtana tune is a specific representation of Gaudiya Vaisnavas and this tune is appreciated all over India as unique. They say that the Kirtana tune is the specific gift of Bengal, and that is a fact. So why not utilize this tune in the Western countries under the able guidance of such expert musician as George? (Prabhupada letter to Shyamsundar, Feb. 25, 1970)

“Can kirtana really be considered genuine if some worthless people with no ardor for Hari-seva come together and howl? True Hari-sankirtana is that of genuine devotees, who serve Hari according to the principles enjoined in the Vedas and allied sastras. Kirtana is not Hari-sankirtana if conducted for the prevention of cholera or pox epidemics, for prosperity in trade, or for labha-puja-pratishtha. Such kirtana is maya-kirtana.” (Sri Caitanya’s Teachings, p. 122)

No Benefit?
“As long as we remain aloof from Krishna-kirtana that is conducted by pure devotees, maya will delude us in various ways. We will derive no benefit by joining the kirtana of persons who are not anxious for their own wellbeing and hoodwink themself. There will be no sankirtana if we follow such people who, without receiving instructions from true Vaishnavas, imitatively decorate their body with beads and tilaka and screech out some names that merely resemble harinama.” (Sri Caitanya’s Teachings, p. 122)

Go to hell via harinama!
“Making a pretense of harinama, people are waltzing their way to hell. ” (Srila Prabhupadera Goloka-vani, Vol. 1, p 286)

Not to please the crowd but to deliver Krsna in the right way

“Your business is not to, I mean to say, satisfy the crowd. Your business is satisfy Krishna, and then crowd will be automatically satisfied. We are not going to please the crowd. We are going to give them something, Krishna. So you should be very much careful whether you are delivering Krishna in the right way. Then they’ll be satisfied. Your only business should be to satisfy Krishna.” (Bhagavad-gita 7.1, Los Angeles, December 2, 1968)

Kirtan for pleasing the senses through melody, beat and tempo is not kirtana
“Kirtana that is bawled with the intention of pleasing the senses through melody, beat, and tempo is not kirtana; actually it is not kirtana for Krishna. Krishna-sankirtana means vocalizing the aprakrita names of aprakrita Krishna and chanting about the aprakrita form of Krishna, the aprakrita qualities of Krishna, the aprakrita associates of Krishna, and the aprakrita pastimes of Krishna. Still, it is not that melody, beat, and tempo are to be rejected in Krishna-kirtana; all of them must be present. The six ragas and thirty-six raginis are servants of Krishna-kirtana. ” (Srila Prabhupadera Goloka-vani, Vol 1, p 1.300-304)

So called ‘rasa kirtan’

“Professional singers of rasa kirtana are called rasika in the namesake only; In fact they are devoid of any knowledge regarding rasa and are averse to Vaisnava conclusions. Their songs are full of different musical modes and tunes, but their kirtana is not fit to be heard by the Vaisnavas. They add so much to the original mahajana songs in order to please the assembled women and foolish people. Such people are full of pride because they get money and praise from foolish audience.” (Srila Bhaktisiddhanta Saraswati Prabhupada, Sajjana Tosani 6/2)

Other tunes and styles of music – when they are acceptable

We already have explained the fallacy of the idea that the Siksastaka’s statement about there being “no hard and fat rules for chanting” refers to the individual souls’ call on the Lord… that organized chanting has to be done according to certain rules and regulations.

But what of the occasional statements by Prabhupada allowing or encouraging chanting in various other tunes and styles?

Change of tune not harmful

“If there is no mistake in the set up of the wording, the change of musical tune, that is not harmful.” (Srila Prabhupada referring to an album promoted by Rameswar set in modern tunes;

Room Conversation, November 25, 1976, Vrndavana)

San Francisco wild kirtans:

One day while living with Srila Prabhupada at the New Jersey seashore, a tape arrived from the San Francisco temple; some devotees from New York brought it and Srila Prabhupada sat listening to the taped ‘San Francisco kirtan’. Now, a bit of background: Gaurasundara and I had met Srila Prabhupada in San Francisco when he first arrived and had been initiated at the San Francisco temple, the Haight Ashbury Frederick Street storefront, and then had followed him to New York when he returned in March of 1967. The San Francisco Haight Ashbury district was quite wild, there was a hippie environment; Gaurasundara and I were students just prior to meeting Srila Prabhupada, were both in our senior year in the University of Texas; we found the more studious and sedate New York temple more to our liking. In New York, devotees were reading Srila Prabhupada’s books, chanting regularly, and following pretty strictly. In San Francisco, things were generally wilder, with lots of flamboyant kirtans and hardly anyone reading or following strictly. Because of this vast difference between New York mood and San Francisco mood, the natural tendency was for the New York devotees to look down upon the San Francisco temple, and to criticize and roll their eyes when talking about the San Francisco devotees. Yes, the politics had already begun. New York temple really did not take the San Francisco devotees seriously, and San Francisco did indeed have a mood of its own. Knowing all this, I was eager to see Srila Prabhupada’s reaction to the San Francisco kirtan tape. As the old reel-to-reel tape player began blaring the new Hare Krsna chant, Srila Prabhupada began to wag his head in time to the music: Hare Krsna Hare Krsna Krsna Krsna Hare Hare. It was a new singsong chant, nothing at all like the morning and evening ragas that Srila Prabhupada had introduced. This was an American version for sure: horns blared, drums boomed, and cymbals clanged; it was a festive party sound. Some of the New York devotees were aghast; after hearing the tape through, Srila Prabhupada smiled broadly and expressed his appreciation: “Oh, they have done nicely. Very nice. They are chanting so enthusiastically”. One of the tape bearers protested the modern unauthentic sound. Srila Prabhupada drowned him out. It was, in his opinion, wonderful. He sent a message to San Francisco to let them know he loved their kirtan tape and to go on chanting. Srila Prabhupada then said: “They are chanting Hare Krsna, that is the main thing. It may be this tune or that tune, doesn’t matter – this way or that, but they are sincerely chanting. That is what Krsna wants”. (Prabhupada Stories, Govinda dasi, Story # 6 – Wild kirtans)

The Haight Ashbury devotees, though still hippy-like in many ways, were simple and pure in their surrender and following of Krishna consciousness. They had given up drugs and sex. But even other ISKCON temples in the west – what to speak of the situation in India, particularly urban India, are very different. In India there are temples everywhere and many people still go to them although mostly they are demigod temples and a significant number are temples to man-made gods. And of those claiming to be vaisnavas, mainly they are so only by birth, their practice of bhakti often consisting only of visiting some temple once in a year. And what Vedic practices still exist are being eroded away as materialism advances. In modern India, though the maha mantra has spread quite widely, it is usually ‘filmy’ tunes or directly clips from cinema sound tracks. Cinema singing is not anywhere near as good as the sincere efforts at kirtan by those ex-hippy devotees Govinda dasi writes about… Krishna likes the service of new devotee’s. Of course, as the Bible says, “For every thing there is a season”… an appropriate time for everything. The sixties chanting in San Francisco is not for all time and all places while the tunes sung by Prabhupada are.

Prabhupada says “ … we chant Hare Krsna. So we are not training our students any way about musical science, that “We have to chant in this way or that way, we have to dance in this way or that way.” Without any musical knowledge, without any poetic understanding, even a child can take part in it, and he becomes immediately absorbed in ecstasy. Why? This is because we are chanting the glories of the Lord… it does not require any artificial musical knowledge or dancing knowledge. Out of your own ecstasy, you will dance, you’ll chant. You don’t require to study. Just like our playing of mrdanga. Nobody has gone to an expert mrdanga player to learn it. Whatever I play, I sing, I never studied under some expert teacher. But by practice, chanting… It may be melodious, it may be very nice or not. That doesn’t matter. We are not concerned about that, whether it is appealing to the people or not. It will appeal; there is no doubt about it. But we don’t require to divert our attention on these things. Simply because there is glorification of the Lord, it will be palatable. … Krsna is not within the material qualities of goodness, passion, or ignorance. All His qualities are transcendental, nondifferent from Him. Therefore His glorification of the transcendental qualities can be chanted who are already in the transcendental platform. Others cannot. … nivrtta-tarsaih. Nivrtta means already finished, completely finished. … One who has finished his material hankering, they can chant this transcendental glorification of the Lord. Others cannot. Just like in our sankirtana movement, you are taking so much ecstasy, pleasure. So others will say, “What these people are doing? Crazy fellow, they’re trancing, dancing and beating some drum.” They’ll feel like that because their hankering for material enjoyment is not finished. Therefore nivrtta. … Actually, this transcendental name of Krsna, or God, can be chanted in liberated stage. Therefore we prescribe, while chanting, there are three stages. The offensive stage, liberated stage, and actually on the platform of love of Godhead stage. That is the perfectional stage by chanting. In the beginning we chant in offensive stage—the ten kinds of offenses. But that does not mean that we shall not chant. Even there are offenses, we shall go on chanting. That chanting will help me to get out of all offenses. Of course, we must take care that we may not commit offenses. Therefore this list of ten kinds of offenses are given. We should try to avoid. And as soon as it is offenseless chanting, then it is liberated stage. That is liberated stage. And after liberated stage, the chanting will be so pleasing because that is on the transcendental platform that actual love of Krsna and God will be relished. But the same thing… The chanting… In the offensive stage, the chanting, and the liberated stage is chanting… But in the mature stage… Just like Rupa Gosvami, he used to say that “What shall I chant with one tongue and what shall I hear with two ears? If millions of ears I had, if millions of tongue I had, then I could chant and hear.” Because they are in liberated stage.

Other instruments

Electric guitar, if it is, they chant Hare Krsna only, nothing else, then it is all right. But as far as possible, simply mrdanga and kartal. But if GBC thinks that it attracts more people so they give contribution, that is a different thing. Otherwise there is no need. – Room Conversation, London, August 15, 1971

The question of offensive chanting

If one uses the vibration of the holy name for the benefit of the material body, for material wealth and followers, or under the influence of greed or atheism – in other words, if one utters the holy name with offenses – such chanting will not produce the desired result very soon. Therefore one should diligently avoid offenses in chanting the holy name of the Lord. (Sri-Caitanya-caritamrta, Antya-lila, 3.60)


A single utterance of the holy name brings liberation but only if not blocked by offences

O brahmana, when, pronounced properly or not, it appears on the voice, walks on the path of the memory, or enters the ears, if it is not stopped by offenses a single utterance of the holy name of the Lord carries one beyond the world of birth and death. However, if the chanter commits offenses, or if he chants to attain wealth, followers, or the happiness of this material body, he will be thrown into the world of birth and death, and his chanting will not quickly bring the desired result. (Srila jiva Goswami’s Bhakti Sandarbha Anucceda 202.16)


If only offensive chanting is going on, the movement will dissolve into uselessness

“So chanting, even if it is in the offensive stage is not to be avoided for that reason. At the same time, if there is no offenseless chanting going on, only offensive, what kind of people will be attracted? Those who are advanced from previous births or by dint of previous devotional credits in this life will intuitively be able to recognize that “this chanting these people are doing is not pure. There is no use in my joining them… in my associating with them.” On the other hand, too, if people see the members dressed expensively, carrying expensive mobile phones, etc., they will think “Hey, these people have lots of money. Let me join them and also cash in”. In that way any movement can become diluted to uselessness. Prabhupada said “boil the milk”: “I want that we shall concentrate on making our devotees Krishna conscious and ourselves becoming Krishna conscious, and not be so much concerned with expanding ourselves widely but without any spiritual content. Just like boiling the milk, it becomes thicker and sweeter. Now do like that, boil the milk.” (Prabhupada letter to Rupanuga, Honolulu, 9 May, 1972) … “we have got so many students and so many temples but I am fearful that if we expand too much in this way that we shall become weakened and gradually the whole thing will become lost.” (Prabhupada letter to Hamsaduta, Los Angeles, 22 June, 1972)

Those that have already joined, get them refined by constantly encouraging them, instructing them. If that is not attended to, if there is concentration only on grand programs, grand projects, then it will all become useless… If many new people are induced to join and their numbers are counted and reported without concern for the effect on the existing membership and what will happen to them, it is like diluting milk… After diluting it to such an extent, it is no longer milk. You can’t make yogurt out of it, you won’t get nourishment by drinking it… It will just cause dysentery. The movement becomes a sick movement. It may be said that “it is spiritual” but a sick movement cannot do any good for the world. It cannot be said to be spiritual in fact. Only out of sentiment you may say that it is still spiritual. Spiritual means pure, free from disease. Disease is a one of the material contaminations.

So things are to be done according to standards, not in different ways that some may claim – without offering authentic references to guru, sadhu and sastras – that “it is very effective”. Effective in increasing the number of members without consideration of their quality? That is contrary to the acharyas’ desire and we should avoid it. We don’t care if some say we are “fanatical”, or “insisting on following so many rules… Prabhupada didn’t say ‘follow so many rules’”. Whoever argues like that is on the mental plane… understanding simply theoretical. Such persons may appear to follow Prabhupada but they have not internalized his teachings. They cannot in fact effectively chant or preach. Mouthing words is not chanting or preaching. Such members don’t last. They may be called “devotee” and they may be great in number but why listen to them? We have to follow the acharyas. Acaryavan vijnanaya… One who has acharya, he knows the Vedic conclusions. Not others.


This article with some additional formatting that makes it easier to follow is here:

Some of the non-Folio references have not been verified but are included as they are from reputable sources.

Considered questions, comments may be addressed to: rasanandadas[at]gmail[dot]com or on Skype, ID h.zuckerman

i (Upon joining the movement in 1969, among other services, I (the author) was assigned to look after the temple’s “library” consisting of the Collier Bhagavad Gita, Teachings of Lord Caitanya, Sri Isopanisad, a set of Prabhupada’s Indian printed first canto Srimad Bhagavatam volumes, photocopies of letters from Prabhupada on his instruction circulated to all the then four or five temple, a few reel-to-reel tapes of Prabhupada’s bajans and kirtans, the ‘Happening’ album, one or two 45 records and maybe one or two other books. Among the letters was one in which Prabhupada says about authorized chants that they include govinda jaya jaya gopala jaya jaya, radha ramana hari govinda jaya jaya andgopala, gopala, yasodanandana gopala. As this letter does not appear in Folio, I did not include them among the references to authorized mantras.)


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August 21, 1976, Hyderabad

Prabhupada: You were selling Back to Godhead on the street?

Gargamuni: Yes, in the pushcart.

Prabhupada: That time how many copies you were printing?

Gargamuni: We were printing 500 to 1,000. We started at 500 then to 1,000.

Prabhupada: Then when Brahmananda proposed that “We can get it printed from Japan, but they want order for 20,000 minimum.” So I said yes. Five hundred, 1,000 we were selling, and he proposed 20,000. “Yes. You order.” [laughs] Now, two million?

Hari-sauri: The biggest one, I think, was that centennial, bicentennial issue. What was that? It increases, anyway, every year.

Prabhupada: Brahmananda was hesitating how 20,000 per month we shall consume.

Gargamuni: Yes, we were all afraid.

Prabhupada: [laughs] I said, “Yes. You order. We shall consume.” Then this Tamala Krsna, he helped.

Hari-sauri: He was in book distribution from the start.

Gargamuni: Yes. From Los Angeles.

Prabhupada: That’s right.

Gargamuni: From their sales they were sending.

Prabhupada: Yes. He gave impetus for distribution. Then we got encouragement—other party, another party. Where those mimeograph machine gone?

Gargamuni: I don’t know. After I went to San Francisco… They should be preserved. That was beginning. We could still use them.

Prabhupada: Yes. I paid $150 I had collected. They wanted hundred dollars each or $125 each. So I went there, that I want two machines, but I have got $150 dollars only. So he wanted to throw away the machine. “All right, you take two machines.” So I gave $150 and took away two machines. I think it is more costly. Eh?

Gargamuni: Yes, oh, yes. Those are heavy-duty machines. They were old, but they were good.

Prabhupada: No, they were working nicely. And the printer was that boy?

Gargamuni: Yeah, Ranchor.

Prabhupada: Ranchor. Spoiling so much paper.

Gargamuni: Yes, so much.

Prabhupada: He brought $500 from his grandfather.

Gargamuni: Yes, he donated.

Prabhupada: His father and mother divorced. So he used to visit sometimes his grandfather, father’s father. So naturally grandfather, when he used to visit, he gave him some money.

Hari-sauri: And he’d give it to you. Then he gave it to you.

Prabhupada: Once he gave me. Anyway, Krsna is giving us encouragement. Prabhupada: And so beautiful printing, picture and… The beginning was three hundred, and Gargamuni, he took away somebody’s hand cart.

Tamala Krsna: He what?

Prabhupada: It was on the street.

Tamala Krsna: He took a hand cart.

Prabhupada: And he was putting the magazines on the hand cart, selling near cinema and other crowded places. That is very good… So it was a hard struggle in the beginning…

Ref. VedaBase: Room Conversation

July 2, 1977, Vrndavana

Prabhupada: Then I started this Back to Godhead, Hayagriva and Rayarama, editors. And I purchased two machines. What is that?

Tamala Krsna: Mimeograph machine.

Prabhupada: There was advertisement. So I went to Long Island. That two machines… I asked, “What is the price?” “$150 each.” Then he wanted to take away the machines. Machine was all right. And then I told him that “I have got $150 only. If you want to give us, give those two machines.” So “All right, you take these all.” (laughter) So I gave him $150, whatever I had, and I took the machine. In that machine was printed Back to Godhead. So five hundred copies… How many copies you were selling?

Tamala Krsna: Well, by the time we were selling, you were printing about three thousand, and we were selling twenty-five hundred.

Prabhupada: Oh, yes. Then I asked Brahmananda that “Why not print it nicely?” So he said that “Unless we print twenty thousand, nobody will take this work.” And “All right, order twenty thousand.” Now, from twenty thousand or five hundred, what is the quantity now we are printing?

Tamala Krsna: Not less than five hundred thousand a month.

Bhakti-caru: Two million.

Tamala Krsna: Sometimes more.

Bhakti-caru: Maharaja, in all languages it’s two million.

AnchorPrabhupada: And so beautiful printing, picture.

Ref. VedaBase: Room Conversation with Mr. Myer 


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Path of Surrender By BB Govinda Swami


Srila Prabhupada says that Narada is a great personality and he was so pleased by the devotional attitude of Dhruva, that he could have just given him everything. He could have given Dhruva exactly what he wanted. Why didn’t he do it? [a devotee replies that it was because he wanted Dhruva to surrender to Krishna]. Yes, essentially that’s correct. He wanted him to follow the correct path, he wanted him to engage in devotional service.

You see, and this helps us to develop our perspective about our practice and our application of devotional service. Sometimes things may not go according to our design, sometimes we may experience some problems on the path of devotional service, sometimes a situation may arise where we don’t receive the honor and respect that we so much hankering for. Sometimes it may feel like the whole universe is collapsing upon us. And the person may think: “Why doesn’t the spiritual master just snap his fingers and make everything correct?” Or you start praying. You start praying to Krishna, you start praying to great devotees: “Why don’t you change this situation?”But basically they want to see us follow the proper path of surrender to the Lord.

A path of surrender means attentive chanting of the Holy Names of the Lord. Path of surrender means attentive study of scriptures. Path of surrender means describing the glories of Krishna to other people. Path of surrender means to live in cooperation with the vaisnavas. Because all of these different activities will help to change the consciousness, change our attitude.

Attitude, or consciousness, is such an important thing. As long as I’m thinking that I am an independent controller, we will have some difficulties. When we are remembering that we are surrendered servants of the Lord, then Krishna will bless. And we will go on feeling relish in our service, until Krishna sees within your heart : “Oh, there’s another thing we have to work with!” And then boom, we find ourselves in another difficult situation. But then Krishna, He will just wait: “Are they going to realize the right thing to do or not?”

Here it says “Narada couldn’t have at once given Dhruva whatever he wanted”. But it’s not the duty of the spiritual master. His duty is to engage the disciple in the proper process of devotional service. Clean himself internally and externally, to think of the Lord and to pray to the Lord. And then to preach the glories of the Lord.

Prabhupada says, that Krishna was just standing before Arjuna on that chariot. Krishna could have just gone “psshhew” and everybody could have disappeared from the battlefield of the Kurukshetra. He didn’t do like that. He said “Fight. Undergo this trouble. Always think of Me and fight.” And Arjuna did it. And therefore he received Krishna’s mercy.

So it’s the same thing for us. Tasmad, what does it mean? “Therefore”. Sarveshu kaleshu, what does that mean? “All the time”. Sarva means “all, Kala is “time”. Tasmad sarveshu kaleshu, therefore all the time. Mam anu smara, means “remember me very deeply”. Yujya means “fight”. That’s Krishna’s supreme instruction for us. Because we all have different things to do, but regardless of what we do have to do, the principle is to remember Him. And then fight.

Therefore Narada asked Dhruva to undergo the disciple of devotional service in order to achieve the desired result. And thus we need to undergo the discipline of devotional service to achieve the desired success. Don’t think doing anything material will give you the desired success in Krishna’s devotional service. You won’t attain Krishna by material things. You attain Krishna by spiritual performance of devotional service.

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Good chanting does not depend on our adherence to mechanical rules. It is not a matter of just doing the dos and avoiding the don’ts and then our job is done. No, not at all! Chanting is an offering of the heart – a heart filled with feelings of humility, a desire to surrender and a sincere service attitude. It is ultimately a loving call to Sri Sri Radha and Krsna. This means we need to chant with a firm understanding of our relationship with Them (sambhandha). “My Lord, I have a relationship with You. I have lost my way in the world of temporary relationships, but my real life is with You. My real home is with You. You are my eternal safety.”

To put our heart into chanting, in other words, we must feel separation from the Divine Couple. We want to be with Sri Sri Radha and Krsna again and serve Them. And we pray for that through our chanting of the holy name. But how can we feel separation if our hearts are dry? If you cannot cry for Krsna, cry to cry for Krsna. That’s all! We must understand all these things if, in due course, we wish to awaken the heart of a sincere sadhaka and then from there step toward advanced and affectionate chanting. Only affectionate chanting can lead us into deep practice and only if we find shelter in the depths of the ocean of chanting will we be saved from the disturbing waves of offenses (namaparadha) that can completely push us away from our goal.


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Arjuna and Krishna preparing for battle “The emblem of Hanuman on the flag of Arjuna is another sign of victory because Hanuman cooperated with Lord Rama in the battle between Rama and Ravana, and Lord Rama emerged victorious. Now both Rama and Hanuman were present on the chariot of Arjuna to help him. Lord Krishna is Rama Himself, and wherever Lord Rama is, His eternal servitor Hanuman and His eternal consort Sita, the goddess of fortune, are present. Therefore, Arjuna had no cause to fear any enemies whatsoever.” (Shrila Prabhupada, BG 1.20 Purport)

We find that in our material endeavors, we often invoke the name or memory of someone as a way of bringing good luck. Athletes often carry good luck charms given to them by legendary figures in their sport. They also remember the accomplishments of previous great athletes prior to having to perform. Politicians will often invoke the names of great leaders from the past when making an important speech.

These are all ways that we try to ensure success in our ventures. When entering a new field or starting a new task, it is best to consult those who have previously been able to triumph. The successful have the necessary experience and wisdom to help us achieve victory since they have gone through similar challenges. In the same way, in order to be successful in spiritual life, we must consult great devotees of the past.

To the normal person, Arjuna’s task prior to the start of the Kurukshetra War seemed to be that of a warrior trying to achieve victory for his side. In actuality, since he was following the direct orders of Lord Krishna, the Supreme Personality of Godhead, his task was actually that of performing devotional service to God. Because of this, Arjuna’s chariot was decorated with a flag bearing the emblem of Lord Hanuman.

Hanuman In Lord Krishna’s previous incarnation as Lord Rama, there was a great demon named Ravana who had kidnapped Lord Rama’s wife, Sita. Hanuman, a Vanara (human-like monkey) and great devotee of Lord Rama, carried out the orders of the Lord and helped defeat Ravana and rescue Sita. Since Arjuna was also involved in a similar task of performing devotional service to the Lord, he made sure to invoke the memory of Krishna’s great devotee, Hanuman. In our normal everyday affairs, we tend to forget things that we do, services that we provide for people, and the things that others have done for us. God, on the other hand, never forgets service performed for Him. Hanuman was a pure devotee and helped the Lord, and Krishna never forgot it. He made sure that Hanuman would always be famous as a great devotee. He made sure the name of Hanuman would be synonymous with victory in devotional service.

So the lesson is that we should always remember the great devotees of the Lord and ask them for their mercy in helping us serve Krishna. Arjuna already had God acting as his charioteer, so he had no cause for concern. However, simply by remembering Hanuman, his success was guaranteed. This is God’s promise to us. By always remembering Krishna’s great devotees and following the example they set forth, we will never meet defeat in our devotional service to the Lord.

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 By Madhava Smullen

Starting in September last year, bush fires have been causing widespread devastation in Australia, particularly in New South Wales. According to a CNN report on January 6th, 14.7 million acres have been burned across the country. At least 480 million animals have perished, as well as twenty-four people. In December, the smoke in Sydney was so bad that air quality measured eleven times the “hazardous” level.

According to ISKCON Australia Communications Director Bhakta Das, no devotees have been injured, as the fire is some distance from ISKCON’s farming communities.

“All our centers are, however, on alert, especially New Gokula farm where the fires were only twenty kilometres away,” he says. “Thick smoke has been the major difficulty at New Gokula, Govinda Valley, and the Sydney, Canberra and Melbourne Temple areas, as some devotees suffer from asthma and the smoke from the bush fires is very toxic.”

One devotee family has lost a holiday home to the fire, but the family members themselves are all safe. 

Meanwhile the devotee community in Australia has been expressing a great outpouring of sympathy for the victims of the fires. 

“In a practical way, we are helping by working with local Hindu organizations that have been providing bottled water to the firefighters,” Bhakta says. “ISKCON Melbourne has offered to fund the next major shipment.” 

Govinda Valley, a Hare Krishna retreat center in NSW, has offered to house any victims of the bush fire that have lost their homes when there is availability. 

In Victoria, ISKCON has contacted the Victorian Council of Churches Emergency Ministry – an interfaith organization which provides spiritual counseling to those in need during the tragic bush fire – and is volunteering the services of devotees who are Spiritual Care Providers (chaplains). This service will go on for several months.     

As far as emergency meal distributions are concerned, at present the needs of the various fire effected areas have been met by local Lions Clubs and the Australian Army reserves. 

“We have however offered our services to the appropriate relief organizations and local Councils at any time we are needed, to provide vegetarian or vegan meals to those in need,” says Bhakta. “In NSW we have a Hare Krishna Food for Life food van ready to go to any area where we may be required, but at the moment those authorities have appreciated our offers but have asked us to wait and act when instructed by them.” 

Unfortunately, according to Bhakta Das the devastation may be far from over.

“Due to the extreme drought throughout many regions of Australia, so many areas are extremely dry and as such with exceptionally high temperatures and strong winds, even so very early into the summer months, there is anticipation that this is just the beginning of more tragic bush fires in the months to come,” he explains.

All ISKCON centers in Australia, and the farming communities in particular, will remain on high alert for fire risks.

Many devotees are organizing bhajan and kirtan nights at their temples, and Harinama Sankirtana sessions in the streets of major cities, with the specific prayer for rain and an end to the tragedy. 

Devotees are also contributing to various combined Vedic Yajnas organized by their Hindu brothers and sisters at their temples. 

“They have also asked us to perform Harinama Sankirtana at their events,” Bhakta Das confirms.    



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We make arguments that spiritual life is difficult. We always find a reason to say it is difficult. It is difficult because I am too young. It is difficult because I have to study. It is difficult because I have to work. It is difficult because I am married. It is difficult because I am not married. It is difficult because I have to cook. It is difficult because we have a house. It is difficult because we have a mouse! (laughter) We find so many reasons to make spiritual life and taking up Krsna consciousness sound difficult and then we blow up that excuse. We make it bigger and bigger and bigger until we have a really big reason why we cannot practice Krsna consciousness. “What can I do? These are my circumstances which make spiritual life difficult”.

So this tendency is there in us. We can see that our mind is putting forward these arguments to make spiritual life sound difficult, but we must say no to that. No! Because Krsna is the source of all opportunities, so He makes everything possible for us. That is what we saw in Srila Prabhupada. Against all odds, he made it to New York, at the age of 70. I am approaching that age, but even now when I have to go to New York, I think, “Oh, forget it! Not New York!” But Prabhupada went alone and he did it. If there is one quality of Prabhupada that we can appreciate, it is that he never missed an opportunity. Whenever there was an opportunity, he tried. In English, it is to say that he left no stone unturned. He tried every opportunity. For instance, when he was at the Chicago O’Hare International Airport, he asked the devotees to inquire if it could be changed to O’Hare Krsna Airport (laughter). The devotees said, “Oh, that is a good joke Prabhupada!” But Prabhupada was not joking around! So in this way, we can see that he would try anything. yare dekha, tare kaha krsna-upadesa amara ajnana guru hana tara ei desa (Caitanya Caritamrta Madhya-lila 7.128). Whomever you meet, instruct them about Krsna-upadesa. That is actually the key!


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