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Yesterday was the last day of our yatra. On the request of devotees we have come to this place. It is a very unknown part of Vrindavana this particular temple. It is not to be found in any of the parikrama books. We only are aware of these deities Sri Sri Radha Gopijanavallabha. The mercy They have personally bestowed upon myself.

Yesterday devotees had a vote, by democratic process; conclusion was we come here today.

We understand Krishna by the grace of Krishna’s devotees. We cannot approach Krishna directly. It is by His own sweet will that He has arranged. Krishna wants to give credit to His devotees, He wants to bestow His mercy through His devotees. It is only through the mercy of Vaisnavas that we can understand what is Krishna, what is the Holy name, what is Vrindavana, what is the purpose of life beyond just greed and egoism.

I would like to briefly narrate a few personal encounters in my life in relationship to Sri Sri Radha-Gopijanavallabha – with your permission.

In 1971 I was a devotee of Lord Siva, I was traveling from the area Pashupatinatha to Amarnatha for a pilgrimage in month of August. Very crowded third class train, didn’t sit down for about 40 hours. Finally the train stopped and I wanted to somehow or other to move, so I crawled over people’s heads, somehow I pulled myself out of the window, because I had these attachments. The train started moving and I tried to get back in and it was so very crowded, no window to fit a human being inside.

So the train left and I was in this unknown place. I asked a sadhu on the railway platform – where is this. He said this is Mathura, today is Janmastami! So he took me to Janmasthaana where I spent the whole day. It was very crowded and very joyful, although I really didn’t know who is Krishna or what is Krishna so much. And then at midnight everyone went to Dwarkadhisha. Bathed in Visnu-ghata. So I was thinking actually that night I stayed, although I was in Mathura, in a temple of Lord Siva with a babaji named Sivananda. And I was thinking I will go to Vrindvana for about 3 days. Then I will go to Amarnatha.

So I started walking down the road and a bus saw me on the road between Vrindavana and Mathura near fields and it stopped and picked me up. They said I did not have to pay anything. So I went on the bus and then I arrived and I just asked someone is there a river here – Yamuna, because I knew there was Yamuna. So they pointed, so I was just walking toward Yamuna because that was my tradition – whatever holy place I would just go to; whatever holy river was there and just sleep under tree and do meditation. So as I was walking and one Vraja-vasi approached me and said to me; “oh you have come from foreign land.” Because foreigners were very rare at that time. There was no ISKCON at that time.
He said you have come to Krishna’s home, we are Krishna’s family, you are our guest let me give you some food. So he took me to some Vraja-vasi’s house and had prasad, nice prasad, and then he said where are you staying, I said on the river. He took me to one ashram of one blind sadhu, then I met him and he said let him stay here and he said yes, but still I went to the Yamuna. So on the 3rd day when I was going to leave in the morning from Mathura to the railway station. I woke up with typhoid fever, so I was very very sick. And some of Srila Prabhupada’s godbrothers were very kind to me. And after I was in this Rama-Krishna charitable hospital for about 2 weeks. Laying in a room with 40 dying people.

They gave me shelter in one Gaudiya matha for some time and I was studying there. The doctor told me I had to wait at least 2 months before I could travel or I would die. My body was so weak and emaciated from the way I was living. By the end of the 2 months I came to the conclusion that of all the theologies, philosophies, religions and spiritual paths that I have experienced there is nothing higher, nothing as sweet, nothing more beautiful then the religion of Vrindavana. Devotion to Sri Sri Radharani and Sri Krishna. So I decided to spend the rest of the my life in Vrindavana and never leave.

So after some time I was living on the bank of Yamuna. Sometimes going to Govardhana, Nandaghama, Varsana and various places. I would usually sleep under trees near Chir-ghata here in Vrindavana. We would go to mangala-arati at Radharamana temple and then Radha-vallabha temple then go to mangal arati to Seva-kunja and Banke-bihari gets up quite late. Sometimes to Radha-Damodara temple. So what happened is some sadhu, one very nice sadhu he got to know me. I would go every night a few sadhu’s and myself we would go around Vrindavana, Vrindavana parikrama, we did this every night. For the whole month of kartik, we would just sing bhajans on the bank of the Yamuna. One of the sadhu’s was a musical godbrother of Ravi Shankara, he played sitar. But he considered Ravi Shankar to be somewhat in maya because he played ragas without Krishna’s names. He would play ragas and only chant Krishna’s names when he played. So he was a fantastic sitar player.

We would sit on bank of Yamuna and just chant and he would just play, 3/4/5 of us and then we would go around Vrindavana every night in the moonlight. And one of these nice sadhus told me I want you to meet a very very very simple and pure soul. When you meet him you will understand what is bhakti. So I thought he was going to bring me to some nice temple. He took me in the Radha-Vallabha temple area down this very isolated little ally way where there was an open sewer gutter just flowing like anything, black sewage and had to step over the sewage gutter to get in the door. And it was someone’s house. Very, very small house. And a family was living in that house. Always making noise and everything. Then a hallway and in one of the hallways in their house there was a closet. The family was always passing, walking through that hallway and in that closet were the Deities of Sri Sri Radha-Gopijanavallabha. And then he introduced me to the pujari. His name was Ghanshyam.

How gracious and how kind he was! He had such pure love and devotion to the Deities. I was told that many years before when was young a man, he came from a very wealthy family. His Father, Mother all family members came on a pilgrimage to Vrindavana. They spent a few days and what the dhama of Vrindavana did to his heart was something wonderful. He became so deeply attached to Vrindavana.
Just by being here he became completely detached from everything in life. He saw no other purpose or meaning to existence except surrendering to Sri Radha and Krishna in Vrindavana. So when it was time to go he said I will stay here I will not leave. So his parents thought this is ridiculous so they said all right you come a little later. So they went back.

The parents came back again; they said now you must come, he said no I will not leave. So they told him we will take away all your property, all your money everything unless you come back. We will not in any way support you being here.
He considered the only real treasure and wealth in life his residence in Vrindavana, in the service of Radha and Krishna. So they left. From a very wealthy family, he was in total poverty. In the summer, which is very hot, in the winter it is extremely cold, he would just sleep in the dust of Vrindavana on the ground in various places. He would go do madhukari and get some roti. At that time Vrindavana was a very very quite place. He hardly new anyone. He would just be immersed in chanting the holy name and praying. One day he was just sitting in the dust all day long just chanting the holy names and do you know what his Deity was? – The name of Radharani.

In the Sanskrit alphabet he just wrote “Sri Radha”. In the dust with his finger and he would just worship that. And at the end of the day he would erase it so that nobody would step on it. So when he erased he saw some gold. He rubbed the ground and he felt something there and he started digging in a little and there was a piece of gold. So he was thinking what is this. Dug into the ground and what he found was something extraordinary. It was the top of the head of Srimati Radharani’s deity. And next to Her underground was a beautiful blackish deity of Lord Krishna. And it was written underneath Him Radha-Gopijanavallabha.

So he had These deities, These deities you see, They’re quite big deities. He had absolutely not one paise. He only had one torn-up set of clothes, he had no residence and here is self-manifesting deities of Radha-gopijanavallabha. So he felt that They have somehow put Themselves under my care, I cannot leave Them.

So he would just sit there with Them and chant. And sometimes people would come by and give some madhukari. He could not go to homes because he can’t just leave the deities in the field. He was worshipping Them literary under a tree, even in the rainy season under a tree. And people would sometimes come by and give some roti and he would offer it. This went on for some time. And this particular family of Vraja-vasis they saw his genuine and sincere devotion. So they said you can put your deities in the closet of our house near our hallway. Those deities remained there for about the next 50 years. And he worshipped Them there.

This is where we met him. He would never leave the deities. He would only one time of the day he would go the Yamuna, because he had no one to help him, to collect water. To bring back. He would bathe in Yamuna and then bring a bucket back to bathe the deities.

Now when I met him he was an old man. Perhaps in his 80’s. And he had a certain mood about him. It was that he was the most fallen, insignificant servant of Gopijanavallabha. Most unqualified and that anyone who came to that temple and very few people ever came. But anybody who would come in to that little temple he would consider that was Gopijanavallabha’s very special guest, Gopijanavallabha’s friend, personally invited. And he would give his life, his soul his everything to serve anybody who came. He was one of the simplest people I ever met. He was really living in poverty. You know where he slept for that 50 or 60 years? He slept in the hallway. People would just, family would just walk by. Practically stepping over him. The deities were in a tiny little closet near that closet was a tiner closet. Whatever the deities belongings were, were in there. And he just slept on the hallway on the floor.

So I started coming there about 9 o’clock every morning after about 5 different mangal arati’s that I would attend. I would go to Gopijanavallabha temple. And one day I just went there because I just wanted to be with Ghanshyam. So one day he told me come today at noon and I will give you prasad. So I was thinking how can I refuse this. So I came at noon, he gave me, all he had was 3 rotis; nothing else. 3 rotis. So he said you come everyday, you must come. He said you must come everyday. Gopijanavallabha and Radharani want you to come everyday to take prasad with Them.

So after about 3 days there was this one sadhu who brought me to his house. He told me do you know that Ghanshyam has not eaten anything for 4 days. I said why. He said because you are eating all his rotis. He said Ghanshyam does not go out to beg really. He can’t go far. There’s 3 little houses right in that area. Each one cooks one roti. And he goes to those 3 houses everyday to get 1 roti from each house. And he brings, that’s all he has. He offers that to Gopijanavallabha. So he said he his giving you all of his food.

So I came the next day and he just put down the rotis down in front of me. And I said Ghanshyam these are your rotis. He said no, no, these are your rotis. I said I already had prasad. He said doesn’t matter Gopijanavallabha wants you to eat these rotis. I said no, no I do not want these rotis. He said You MUST, YOU MUST. He spoke nice English, because he was coming from an educated family.

I said Ghanshyam I have been told that you’ve not eaten for 4 days because I am eating all of your prasad. He said no, who has told you this, it is not true. i am eating so much, gopijanavallabha is giving me everything I need. Now you eat these rotis, please. I said Ghanshyam I am not going to eat these rotis because they are your rotis. Literally he began to weep and tremble with folded palms begging me to eat the rotis. I said Ghanshyam unless you show me that there is more rotis in your house I am not going to these.

He said I have so many rotis in this house. He said Gopijanavallabha is consort of Sri Radharani, She is the supreme goddess of fortune. You don’t think there is any rotis in Her house. I said Ghanshyam show me the rotis. He said no need to show you, no need. They are here. You just take this parasad. He became so concerned, I said Ghanshyam I know that there are 12 places in Vrindavana that give madhukari to sadhus at a particular time of the day. In those days every sadhu knew where to go at what time to get free rotis. That was the first thing sadhu’s learn when they come to Vrindavana; Time schedule of roti distribution in different temples.

So, I said I can go anywhere, you are here. You are starving. He said No need, you take these rotis. He started crying and pleading and praying to me. I understood if I did not take his rotis I would break his heart. So I was praying to Gopijanavallabha what should I do? Break his heart or starve his body. He would not let me leave without eating the rotis. But I never came back at 12 o’clock. The next day he didn’t eat the rotis at 12 o’clock knowing that I would come 9 o’clock the next day. We had a big fight and I refused to eat his rotis.

This was a selfless service attitude. He was so old and so thin. One day I saw him walking with this bucket of water to bathe Gopijanavallabha. And from the Yamuna he would walk about 3 steps and then would have to put the bucket down and rest. Then he would pick it up strenuously, 3 steps then put it down to rest. At the time I was only 20 years old. So I took the bucket from him and I said I will carry it to the top. He would not let go, he said no need, no need, no need. I said Ghanshyam let me carry it for you. I can carry it in 3 mins, it takes you half hour. I am young. He said yes you are young so you should enjoy. But I am old man. I am just the servant. My life is sacrifice, he said you are Gopijanavallabha’s friend. You should not have to work for Him, but I am just his fallen servant. It is my duty to serve Him. He would not give me that bucket. I was walking alongside him for about 20 mins. We were having tug of wars, he would not give me the bucket. And then finally he began to cry and with a choked up voice he said this service I have to Gopijanavallabha; is all I have in life. Please, please do not take it away from me. I never tried to take that bucket from him again.

One day I happened to be there and it was some festival so a Vraja-vasi brought him a cup of sweet rice to offer to Gopijanavallabha. Now please don’t give or take the spontaneous love of the Vraja-vasi’s but you can hear to understand its nature. He was just eating 2/3 rotis a day for how many years and here was a small pot of sweet rice in a clay cup and it was brought. The way he offered it to the deities is he sat me down on the little hallway in front of the closet. He put the spoon, 1 spoon in a cup and put it right to Gopijanavallabha’s mouth and said a little prayer. Then he put it to Sri Radharani’s mouth and said a little prayer, then he came to me because it’s only a few feet from the deities and where I was sitting. He came and said open your mouth and put your head back. Then I opened by mouth and put my head back and he just poured the sweet rice from the spoon in my mouth. And this is how he offered the entire pot of sweet rice. He just kept on doing it spoon by spoon, Gopijanavallabha’s mouth, Sri Radharani’s mouth then he would just toss in my mouth. I said Ghanshyam save some for yourself, he said no need, no need. Then with folded palms and tears in his eyes he said you are Gopijanavallabha’s friend, you Gopijanavallabha’s friend. I am only his insignificant servant.

One time in the month of January I happened to come by to visit him in the night time. So Ghanshyam and I were chanting together. Whenever I went, I would come at all different times of the day sometimes just to visit him and whenever I would come he was never idle, he was never sitting, sleeping, but always doing seva. I’d come and he would be fanning the deities he just be standing and fanning and singing songs. Another time I had come he had sandalwood pulp and he was putting chandan and grinding. But most of time, 90% of the times when I would come he would just be sitting alone with the harmonium and singing beautiful songs for Gopijanavallabha. He was always busy doing some seva. Sometimes he would be doing puja, offering arati, sometimes he be dressing Them. So this night I came and we were singing this nice kirtan together. In this old broken down little house in a hallway. So then I said I’m going, now I must go and Ghanshyam said where are you going. I am going to take rest. He said where do you take rest. I said I always take rest on the bank of Yamuna. He said oh no, it is January, it is very cold. Then you have no home, you have no proper clothes, no blanket even. He said you stay here tonight it is too cold, I insist you must sleep here tonight. So I said Ghanshyam I sleep on Yamuna every night. He said no no, tonight you must stay here.

Gopijanavallabha, you are His guest, you must sleep nicely. So I laid down on the floor next to him and he came out with this old blanket and put it on top of me. So I was thinking ahhh this is very nice blanket. And then he laid next to me. All he had is just a thin dhoti and little chadar. Not even a pillow. He slept right on the bare floor, he just had a little piece of burlap he wouldput on the floor and he would lay on his arm. And he was trembling cold. I said Ghanshyam this is your blanket. You sleep with your blanket. He said no no, it is not my banket. It is your blanket. He said Gopijanavallabha wants you to have this blanket. You are his friend. I am only his fallen servant. You must accept this blanket. I said no it is your blanket. I will only stay here if you sleep with the blanket. So then he was begging me again, weeping, begging me take the blanket, sleep nicely. He said I am an old useless servant. What difference does it make if I suffer. But you are dear to the Lord, you must enjoy.

This was his mood. He was worshipping the deities for 50, 60 years. And I’m just a new devotee, I just arrived in Vrindavana and understood who Krishna is a couple months before. So finally, he surrendered. I was about to walk out. I said if you don’t take this blanket I am leaving for the Yamuna. He said all right, all right, I will sleep in the blanket. You just lay down. So I lay down and it was cold. Ghanshyam was under this old tattered blanket but it was a little warm. So sometime later I woke up at night, in the middle of the night. And mysteriously I was feeling a little warm. So, I looked over at Ghanshyam and he’s just laying there trembling, trembling like a leaf in the wind. And then I looked at myself and I saw the blanket was on me. While I was sleeping he put the blanket on me.

So very, very quietly I picked up the blanket and I wanted to not wake him. As soon I touched his body with the blanket he just leaped up “NO NEED, NO NEED” I said Ghanshyam you are not even sleeping, you are freezing. He said NO NEED, NO NEED you are Gopijanavallabha’s friend, I am his servant. The duty of the servant is to serve the friend. Gopijanavallabha will never be pleased with me unless I sacrifice my life for the happiness of His guests and His devotees. You must accept this blanket. He said you keep this blanket, you take it with you. I refused. So then we actually, I wasn’t yelling but I said no I’m not going to sleep with this blanket and he was insisting and insisting, then finally I said I am going to the Yamuna. Then he said all right, all right I will sleep with the blanket. So I lay down, he laid down. And I woke up a few minutes later and I was warm. And I looked over there he was suffering, miserably, freezing, trembling and again I tried to really, really secretly put the blanket, as soon as I touched him NO NEED, NO NEED, NO NEED. He said my life is to serve. He said you don’t understand my happiness is to serve, my only function in life is to serve. Whether I suffer or I whether I enjoy means nothing. The only meaning is Gopijanavallabha and Radharani are happy with me. They are happy when I give everything I have to devotees.

He was so sincere. I would not except. At least 5/6 times that night this happened of the switching of blankets. I never came back there at night. In the winter.
Then it started getting warmer, started going there sometimes at night and he was aging. It was so nice, somehow or other he had made this little bed for the deities, have you seen the size of these deities? He would, every night, whenever possible, he would put the deities in the bed and lay Them down and massage Their feet and put a little blanket over Them. And then he would sing for Them for hours while They were sleeping. But because he was getting, he did this for many many years, but in his old age he could not lift the deities and put Them in the bed. So any time I would come at night the would ask me please,please help put Radharani and Gopijanavallabha in Their bed.

I wasn’t initiated at that time. I didn’t even have a spiritual master, what to speak of being a brahmana. But he would have me lift, because the feet are lighter he would take the side of Gopijanavallabha’s feet and I would take His shoulder’s and we would carry Gopijanavallabha into and lay Him into the bed and take Sri Radharani and lay Her in bed. And he was so happy, he would just be crying in joy at Gopijanavallabha and Radharani tonight get to sleep in Their bed again. He would never ask me please come every night and help me. If I happened to come at night he would very humbly appeal, will you put Gopijanavallabha in Their bed. Otherwise he would put Them to rest standing up. And how much he was so happy I could see, it was like the most glorious festival, was like the most glorious feast in his heart to see the deities nicely lying in Their bed to take rest.

One day I said, I came in the morning, I said to Ghanshyam I am going to Varsana. He started to cry. He was so dedicated to those deities. As far as I know, although he was living in Vraja-bhumi since he was 19/18 years old he came, this time he was there about 60 years. As far as I know he had never gone to Varsana. He had never gone to Nanda-ghama, never even seen Govardhana hill. Because he was duty-bound to his deities. He would never leave Them. When I told him I going to Varsana he began to cry. With folded hands he said when you go so Sri-ji mandir please, please tell Sri Radharani Ghanshyam is longing to come there to see Her. But that I cannot come because I am only Her servant. And I cannot leave my service.
Another time I was going to Govardhana hill, I said I am going for Govardhana parikrama. Ghanshyam again began to cry. He said when you see Giriraja, tell Him that Ghanshyam has been worshipping to Him and praying to Him for many years and is longing to see Him. He was seeing Varsana, he was seeing Govardhana, much clearer then so many thousands of pilgrims that walk around on parikrama of these places.
Bhaktisiddhanta Saraswati Thakura taught us do not try to see Krishna, decide to serve Krishna in such a way that He will be pleased to see you. When I heard this statement of Bhaktisiddhanta Saraswati Thakura some time later in remembrance of Ghanshyam came very intimately into my heart. Truly lived by the principles of servant of the servant of the servant.

It was actually in that little closet temple that I was with Ghanshyam and 2/3 other old sadhus that would come to meet him in the mornings. And I had to leave India because my visa had expired. So they gave me 2 suggestions in the presence of Gopijanavallabha. 1 suggestion is if you have to leave India; go to Mithala -Janakpura. It is the Varsana of Rama’s lila. It’s in Nepal so it is out of India. So I went there.
I was in Nepal in for about a month or something, and then my Nepalise visa expired. And I only had a 2-week transit visa in India. Just to go through then I had to depart. So from Pashupatinatha I went to Ayodhya and Prayag, and then I came to Vrindavana. There I spent about 10 days in Vrindavana. My last day I did Govardhana parikrama and then departed. But the day before Govardhana parikrama I visited Ghanshyam baba. And he and a couple others were saying if you have to leave Vrindavana, because I was crying I have to leave Vrindavana. They said if you have to leave Vrindavana you should go to New Vrindavana. I asked what is this New Vrindavana? They said Swami Prabhupada, when he was here in Vrindavana, because I had already accepted Prabhupada as my guru by that time in Vrindavana.

They said your guru-maharaja Swami Prabhupada, he was telling us that he has created a Vrindavana in America called New Vrindavana. And he told us that it is non-different then from Vrindavana. So you should go there, that way you will never leave Vrindavana until you can come back. And he even told, he said you should be pujari when you go there.

So I had to leave and I went to Amsterdam. That was the first ISKCON temple I ever saw. I would live with Prabhupada when he came to Vrindavana. I was with Prabhupada in Bombay for sometime before. When I never saw an ISKCON temple and the whole expect for 10 days when Prabhupada was doing parikrama around Vrindavana there was never any ISKCON devotees here.

So then I went to the temple of London, Bury place ; stayed for some time. And then I visited my parents because they were severely heart-broken by my spirit of attempted renunciation. So I visited them for some time then I got the news that Prabhupada was coming to New York. So immediately I went and hitchhiked to New York. And I was with Prabhupada for about a week there. And the day he was leaving there was an announcement that Prabhupada is coming to New Vrindavana. And he is going to give a 7-day lecture series on Srimad Bhagavatam and it is going to be called the Bhagavat-dharma discourse. And he is going to celebrate Janmastami there and Vyasa-puja and we need people to help prepare for the festival because devotees from all over the country are going to be coming so whoever can come, please come and help to serve Prabhupada there and be there for his festival. So when I heard that I was thinking in Gopijanavallabha temple I was told that I should go to New Vrindavana and Prabhupada is going to be there. So I went to New Vrindavana. And my intention was only one thing – just to stay there till 6 months expired then I can get a visa to come back to Vrindavana India. That was my only intention. But when Prabhupada came and I heard him preach I realised that we really see Vrindavana through serving the spiritual master. Through the Supreme Lord. As long as we have any selfishness in our heart. Narottama Dasa Thakura (says)- as long as we have any material desire in out hearts we can’t really see what is Vrindavana.
So by Prabhupada’s mercy he inspired me that you should just surrender to your service, where you are. You are here now to surrender to your service. Surrender to serving in helping in my mission. So I was in charge of milking cows and doing some other simple work. Then the pujari, the brahmacari in asharam got married. That happens sometimes. I was such a simple new devotee. I was thinking how is it possible, he’s serving Radha-Vrindavananatha. He is a personal, he is bathing Radha-Vrindavanatha, he is dressing Them, he’s feeding Them, why in the world would anyone who had such a wonderful service would want to get married. Inconceivable!! So I went to that devotee I said if you want female association come and help me milk cows. It’s the safest way to associate to with the opposite sex. Somehow or other he didn’t accept my advice. So he got married.

Then the temple president said you should be the pujari. I said who is going to take care of the cows? He said you, you do both. So I was pujari for Radha-Vrindavananatha. I remember one day I was putting the dress on Srimati Radharani something wonderful happened, I remembered then Ghanshyam baba told me I should be the pujari at New Vrindavana. So for 11 years I was not allowed to come to India. Because in those days devotees were really in a sense of surrender and they were very duty-bound in the way they rendered their service. We would never ever, ever act outside authority or blessings. So for 11 years I remained there worshipping the deities. And after I was given sannayas, actually I did not want to take sannayas. But the leader of New Vrindavana Kirtananda Maharaja he would. I would just always be talking about Vrindavana, because in those days nobody had ever been to India but a few devotees.
When I was in London in Bury place, I had this old thin, it was one of those wolf grey chadars, was really an old one. Some sadhu wore it for years and gave it me. And I had it on when I was in London and the devotees in Bury place were gathering around me, they said that’s just like Prabhupada’s chadar. They had never seen a chadar except on Srila Prabhupada. And me, they said where did you get that, its just like Prabhupada’s chadar, we have never seen anything, its so. I said a sadhu gave it to me in Vrindavana. VRINDAVANA!, you have been to Vrindavana! People would be very interested to know what is Vrindavana. We would read about it Krishna book, but what is it like today.

So when I came to New Vrindavana only the leader had been to Vrindavana. Nobody else had ever been. So everyone would want to know about Vrindavana and after I would tell everyone, everyone wanted to go. Kirtananda Maharaja made a rule that I was not allowed to speak about Vrindavana. That rule was very very difficult to follow. Sometimes devotees would come way up to that old mountain farmhouse where the temple was of Radha-Vrindavanatha and it would be just me and them looking after the offerings and the aratis. In between they would say tell me about Vrindavana. And I would start telling them about the places of Govardhana and the places of Vrindavana and the places of Nanda-ghama, Varsana. I’d start telling them about Vraja-vasi’s and start telling them about different sadhus I would know there. Telling them about my meetings with Prabhupada there. And then they’d start telling everybody. And the temple president would say, because I was a brahmacari, he’d say Radhanatha is in maya.
He wakes up at 1 in the morning and chants rounds and works all day, why is he in maya? Because he is talking about Vrindavana. Then he’d come all the way up, I told you not to talk about Vrindavana, you are agitating the community.
One day he said Prabhupada said New Vrindavana is non-different then Vrindavana so you just talk about New Vrindavana. So he was trying to convince me, he would say I will never, ever in your life let you go back to Vrindavana because I know if you go you will never come back. So he was trying to convince me to take sanyassa in 1982. And I was refusing refusing, he was pushing, and pressurising, and he had the whole community, he preached to whole community to not give me any peace of mind till I took sannyasa. So everyone would be harassing me.

So finally he said to me you take sannyasa I will let you visit Vrindavana. But I still refused. Finally, it was too much, I had to surrender, and after I surrendered I decided I want to be unconditional so I knew I had to do it anyway I said but I still get to go to Vrindavana. So 11 years later 1983 I returned to Vrindavana. First time. I remember I came to Gaura-purnima, first time I ever went to Gaura-purnima in Mayapura 1983. Because when I was living in India, so then I took a train from Calcata to Delhi and I took the Taj express to Mathura and I decided to go according to my old tradition. I went to Visvam-ghata, took bath and walked along the Yamuna from Mathura to Vrindavana. But things really changed at that time, there was a lot obstructions in that water if you tried to do it today. So I came to Vrindavana. And I’ll never forget, this is 11 years later, you know at Radha-Vallabha temple there is the old temple, there is the new temple where the deities were. Well that old temple is very close to Ghanshyam baba’s house.

So I came and I happened to see Ghanshyam sitting on the steps outside the old temple. And now he was 11 years older, he was in his late 80’s or 90’s, I don’t know. And he looked at me. When I lived in Vrindavana, I wore this simple white lungi, that was kind of torn up and I had a little chadar and I had long dredded hair and I never shaved because I was young, it didn’t make that much difference that I never shave. And now here I am a Sannyasi, with a danda, with shaved head. So he was looking at me and he was old, he was just looking at me.

Because one great sadhu living in Vrindavana had given me a name when I was little, the name Ratin-Krishna dasa. I never got initiated but he gave it out of affection. So Ghanshyam always called me Ratin. That means Krishna the chariot driver of Arjuna.
So he looked at me and he was just looking and I bowed down, and I got up, and he was just. And then he said, like a father to a long lost son – Ratiiiiin!
Then he started to weep, started to cry. He embraced me. And he said Radha-Gopijanavallabha has been waiting for so long to see you. And he took me by the hand and took me to that same little hallway where the closet was. And he started; he started taking off the jewellery of the deities and giving it to me. Saying Radharani wants you to have this. He’s giving me rotis. And I came that night from Krishna-Balarama temple, secretly. I left Krishna-Balarama temple that night to help him put Radha-Gopijanavallabha into the bed, 11 years later. I even brought a couple godbrothers to the temple, he was just taking off, giving them whatever he could give them, he would give them, bow down to each Vaisnava.

Then the next time I came, I came to the door and I walked in. I walked into that little temple there was no Gopijanavallabha, there was no Ghanshyam. So I asked the family members – Ghanshyam, Ghanshyam. And the person, with tears in their eyes, smiling said Goloka.

He was so old but he knew that if he were to die, there’d be no one to take care of the deities. Because that family had nothing to do with the deity worship, they were just working people and like that. So even though, he was really aged then in poor health, he just lived to take care of the deities. From my understanding, because for many years I was asking people, where is Gopijanavallabha. Nobody knew, even that family didn’t know. Then I met one very dear brother and friend named Asika-Krishna dasa Prabhu. Who during the time I lived in Vrindavana he would often, we would go to see Ghanshyam baba. And he told me, what he told was this – that Ghanshyam baba was just living because there was no one else to do the seva of the deities. But then one trust built this temple, but they had no deity, so they were looking for a deity to put in the temple. So someone told them, there is this beautiful self-manifesting deity just in the closet. So they asked him, and he was so happy. After 60 years in this closet Gopijanavallabha, maybe 70 years in this closet, Gopijanavallabha will finally have a temple. So he came here when the temple was built and he was, somebody else’s temple, somebody else’s trust but he was just the pujari.
And very very soon after, because the trust would supply another pujari. As soon as he saw that Gopijanavallabha had a house and he trained some other pujari, someone to take care of Them. As soon as he saw the deity seva taken care of nicely he gave up his body. A young person will serve the deity better then me.
So he had no reason to remain in this world.

When we read about qualities of selfless service, when we read about the principle of servant of the servant of the servant, when we contemplate actual humility of the heart, Sri Gopijanavallabha empowered him to be a very wonderful wonderful example of that. But only a few people in the whole world ever saw him or knew him. He was just totally an unknown person. But his life and soul is the prayer where the people would just come to see the deities. Probably no more than 6/7 different people a month would come to see his deities. But anybody who came would be the joy of his life. To serve Gopijanavallabha’s friend, his special invited guest. So I think today Ghanshyam baba is very happy. That all of you have come to see the beautiful forms of his beloved Lord. And what a mystery life is that at the time I was just an insignificant little beggar sleeping on bank of Yamuna. And I been given the wonderful fortune of now bringing, helping to bring a 1000 devotees for the darshan of Gopijanavallabha.

Our beloved Srila Prabhupada was truly the embodiment of selfless service.
Srila Prabhupada left Vrindavana, he left his beloved Radha-Damodara. He suffered heart attacks, strokes, sea-sickness, persecution to give us Krishna. Srila Prabhupada told us that he saw us as the representatives of his guru-maharaja.

And he how served and gave his life to give us Krishna. It is by Srila Prabhupada’s selfless compassion that my insignificant self has been spiritually sustained and nourished to whatever extent there is year after year. It is by his selfless service attitude based on pure love that is sustaining all our spiritual lives. And actually it’s Srila Prabhupada, his act of such humble devotion even to wretched materialistic people that has brought all of us to Vrindavana. It is actually Srila Prabhupada who has fulfilled the spiritual desires of millions of people throughout the world. And even it is Srila Prabhupada who has actually fulfilled Ghanshyam baba’s great desire. The 1000’s of sincere souls will come to take the blessings of his beloved Lord.

So we should know with great faith and conviction that His Divine Grace AC Bhaktivedanta Swami Prabhupada is the ultimate manifestation of the highest teachings of Vaishnava scriptures. He has given us everything, he has given us everything. He has given us the complete, unadulterated mercy of the parampara. And what does he stress, he puts such great great emphasis on the spirit of service. Throughout his lectures, throughout his books and manifested by his life how much emphasis he has put on developing a proper service attitude.

What is a service attitude?

Service doesn’t simply mean doing something for someone else. That is a very superficial understanding. But real service is selfless, unconditional, uninterrupted by various obstacles that come in our path. Ghanshyam baba longed to visit Varsana, Govardhana, Mahavana. But there was no consideration because his service was to his Lord. Srila Prabhupada could have been living here in Vrindavana, probably would have lived to over a 100 years old. But he sacrificed his health, he sacrificed the peace of mind of the holy dhama. He sacrificed everything. Selfless to give you the opportunity to love Krishna.

Prabhupada taught us this principle, to live by this principle. It is the principle we read on every page of Caitanya-caritarmta – unconditional selfless service. It is the principle that is broadcasted throughout the entire Srimad-Bhagavatam, from the first verse to the last – unconditional devotional service without ego.
What is the pleasure of the Lord, what is the pleasure of His devotees? What is my duty to Him? Prabhupada notes the will of the Lord comes through Guru, Sadhu and Sastra. His guru told him to spread the holy names all over the world.
It became his life and soul. Doesn’t matter what obstacles, what inconveniencies. Doesn’t matter whether it brings life or death. Because he had that selfless humble attitude of service; all of us have been saved. The doors to the spiritual world of Goloka have been opened to billions and billions and billions of people.
trnad api su-nicena taror iva sahisnuna amanina mana-dena kirtaniya sada harih [Cc. Adi 17.31] Caitanya Mahaprabhu told us to string this verse of the thread of the holy name and to wear it always. It is our life, we can evaluate how we are successful by how we are pleasing Krishna. We can evaluate how we are pleasing Krishna by studying our hearts, our intentions, our words and actions. In relationship to this teaching.
trnad api su-nicena taror iva sahisnuna amanina mana-dena kirtaniya sada harih [Cc. Adi 17.31] Be humble like the straw in the street, tolerant like trees, ready to offer all respect to others and expect none in return. If we live by this verse then we can actually follow Prabhupada’s teachings. And broadcast the glories of the holy name always.

Today is the last day of our yatra. This is the last meeting we will all have together. The purpose of this yatra is not sight-seeing, not just to come to a holy place and get sick become purified from that. The purpose of this yatra is to inspire us to dedicate our lives and soul with the selfless service attitude. To serving Srila Prabhupada and his mission. Because he has given us his life and his life’s contribution to the parampara was a society he created. If we are not grateful to him for saving us will Krishna be pleased with us.

However knowledgeable you may become in various high topics. Will Krishna be pleased with if we are not grateful to his pure servant who sacrificed his life to take us out of the ignorance of kali and give us the path of perfection? So let us pray here, with very sincere hearts, that through this wonderful yatra, we have participated in over the last 15 days will bring us a much deeper sense of dedication, humility, to really do that we possibly can to Prabhupada and his mission of pure compassion. And follow his teachings to humbly serve the Vaisnavas, give his compassion to the suffering conditional souls. By reading his books, by speaking from his books, distributing his books. By helping in what other way and ultimately we can pray that we can sincerely, whole heartedly, understand the importance of chanting the holy names and making it the first priority in our lives.

The more love we have the more love we can give. That love comes when we gratefully serve those who has given us so much. And we could really reciprocate with Srila Prabhupada by taking shelter of the holy name because that is the ultimate gift that he has given us. Prabhupada wanted us to remain united, to cooperate with each other in spreading the glories of chanting the holy names:
HARE KRISHNA HARE KRISHNA KRISHNA KRISHNA HARE HARE
HARE RAMA HARE RAMA RAMA RAMA HARE HARE

I wish to thank all of you very much for your outstanding service to the Vaisnava community during Srila Prabhupada’s disappearance festival. It was, it was a feast for my heart to see all of you serving so nicely. What a great benediction that was to have the opportunity to perform the sacred service of giving prasad to Srila Prabhupada’s followers from all over the world in honour of Srila Prabhupada’s disappearance festival. I think some causeless mercy has descended upon us. I think because all of you are very very sincere in your efforts, Srila Prabhupada has rewarded by giving you the chance to serve his devotees. We must be convinced, not only theoretically but practically that happiness is never an acquired, the illusory mirages of this world, real happiness can only come through service, through giving.

Thakura Bhaktivinode said – the sufferings and miseries I endure in my service to Krishna are the source of my greatest joy.
Getting prestige, popularity, followers, getting money, beautiful family, nice home, good health, these things give a very temporary superficial external sense of happiness or pleasure. But in service even if none of those things we just stated are there, in service we gain actual inner satisfaction.
Let me ask of, were you happy in seeing how blissful the devotees were getting served prasad? – HARIBOL
Who do you think was getting more inner joy – those being served and eating or those for fasting so long rendering service – huh? Would you have been happier sitting there eating?
This is Prabhupada’s mercy. This is really Srila Prabhupada and Sri Radha’s mercy, that we can understand this principle practically. That our real happiness is in sacrifice of service. And the more that service is unconditional and selfless the more it is a service of love, of pure love. It is that pure love of Krishna that every soul is longing for. And nothing can replace it. We must long for that love. But we have no qualification, we are so far away from the standard of unconditional love. But if we serve sincerely, with humility, and we desperately, desperately, desperately trying to chant the holy names properly then Krishna will see out efforts.
That little sparrow trying to dry up the ocean and Krishna sees if we are sincere and determined with the right purpose He will bestow that love upon us through the mercy of guru and Vaisnavas. Actually your service to the devotees during Prabhupada’s festival will perhaps give faith and happiness to people all over the world, even those who are thousand’s of miles away when they hear about it. It is preaching.

If we become proud we have served nicely then that pride neutralises the effect of the great benediction we received. But if we feel ourselves unqualified but grateful, grateful for the causeless mercy that I was allowed to serve amongst other Vaishnavas, soon Krishna will bestow the prime benediction of pure love within our hearts.

So I know all of you worked very hard to do this and on behalf of Srila Prabhupada, and behalf of all the leaders of the International Society for Krishna Consciousness and all the devotees who have given their lives, I very gratefully thank all of you very much. Let this be a lesson of what is of real value to the heart.
I’d like to also thank all of you for your incredible enthusiasm throughout this festival. Many of you have gotten sick, physically, and of course many thorns in your feet, much dust in your lungs. But still I didn’t hear anyone complaining, everyone is just trying to get purified, trying to help all the other devotees to be happy in Vrindavana. And especially thank you for tolerating me. I honestly and sincerely do not know how you do it or why you do it but you do it.

That is some special magic of Srila Prabhupada, that he can somehow or other see his eternal resplendent divine mercy through a little piece like me, that is his inconceivable power. So I thank all of you very very much and pray that when you return to your homes and bring the real spirit of Vrindavana – selfless service and the longing for complete attachment to Sri Sri Radha-Gopinatha. And complete determination to glorify Them by hearing and chanting Their holy names.

I want to especially offer my gratitude to Malati devi mataji. She’s so humble, I’ve learnt so much, she’s one of the senior most disciples of Srila Prabhupada on the entire planet. She’s one of the few people who had accessive personal direct service to Srila Prabhupada and some of the most intimate surroundings of Srila Prabhupada’s mission. She’s fearless, she’s absolutely determined, despite inconceivable health problems, she just never gives up, never complains and never wants any credit, just happy to be amongst the devotees. My deep deep gratitude to Malati mataji for all she’s done and all she’s doing for Srila Prabhupada and all of us. And to Rasalila mataji who has performed very difficult service maintaining a marriage in the western world in the age of kali for so many years. This is very very outstanding preaching. And in the process to raise a child – Gaurangakishor Prabhu. Raise a child who loves Krishna, loves to preach about Krishna. Good fruits come from good trees. Thank you mataji.
And to Nartaki mataji, is she here? Such a humble devotee and how much she, she really has deep deep attachment to Krishna. To hearing about Krishna, to speaking about Krishna, to being with devotees of Krishna. She has truly been blessed deeply in her heart by Srila Prabhupada’s mercy.
During this yatra we had many wonderful souls come and join us speak to us. Amongst them the shining jewel of all Vraja-vasis has come to be with us today – Dinabandhu Prabhu – HARIBOL, HARIBOL, HARIBOL!
What would be Vrindavana yatra without Dinabandhu Prabhu! His spontaneous devotion, his enthusiasm to preach the glories of Vrindavana-dhama, with his incredible knowledge and realisations, always a profound inspiration for us.
Same time he is very much involved performing great sacrifices in Prabupada’s service for making Vrindavana temple for what Prabhupada wants it to be. So my gratitude to you Dinabandu Prabhu. I learnt so much from you. I hope you are all happy.

Devotees: HARIBOL, HARIBOL, HARIBOL!

If you are happy then my insignificant life has served some noble purpose. So I am grateful that you have given me that. Srila Prabhupada ki’ jaya!

Source: http://www.dandavats.com/?p=2388

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Srila Prabhupada about political leaders

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Bhagavad-gita As It Is
BG Chapters 1 – 6
If a man gets some ministership in the government by worshiping a political leader, he considers that he has achieved a great boon.
BG 4.12, Purport:

The boons of the demigods are material and temporary. Both the material worlds and their inhabitants, including the demigods and their worshipers, are bubbles in the cosmic ocean. In this world, however, human society is mad after temporary things such as the material opulence of possessing land, family and enjoyable paraphernalia. To achieve such temporary things, people worship the demigods or powerful men in human society. If a man gets some ministership in the government by worshiping a political leader, he considers that he has achieved a great boon. All of them are therefore kowtowing to the so-called leaders or “big guns” in order to achieve temporary boons, and they indeed achieve such things. Such foolish men are not interested in Kṛṣṇa consciousness for the permanent solution to the hardships of material existence. They are all after sense enjoyment, and to get a little facility for sense enjoyment they are attracted to worship empowered living entities known as demigods. This verse indicates that people are rarely interested in Kṛṣṇa consciousness. They are mostly interested in material enjoyment, and therefore they worship some powerful living entity.
Srimad-Bhagavatam
SB Canto 1
In politics, social service, altruism, philanthropy and ultimately in religion or even in salvation, the very same tint of sense gratification is ever-increasingly predominant. In the political field the leaders of men fight with one another to fulfill their personal sense gratification.
SB 1.2.10, Purport:

The completely bewildered material civilization is wrongly directed towards the fulfillment of desires in sense gratification. In such civilization, in all spheres of life, the ultimate end is sense gratification. In politics, social service, altruism, philanthropy and ultimately in religion or even in salvation, the very same tint of sense gratification is ever-increasingly predominant. In the political field the leaders of men fight with one another to fulfill their personal sense gratification. The voters adore the so-called leaders only when they promise sense gratification. As soon as the voters are dissatisfied in their own sense satisfaction, they dethrone the leaders, The leaders must always disappoint the voters by not satisfying their senses. The same is applicable in all other fields; no one is serious about the problems of life. Even those who are on the path of salvation desire to become one with the Absolute Truth and desire to commit spiritual suicide for sense gratification. But the Bhāgavatam says that one should not live for sense gratification. One should satisfy the senses only insomuch as required for self-preservation, and not for sense gratification.
Any man from any social status becomes a well-known man in human society within a very short time if he is simply glorified truly or falsely in the daily newspapers. Sometimes political leaders of a particular party are also advertised by newspaper propaganda, and by such a method of glorification an insignificant man becomes an important man—within no time.
SB 1.2.14, Purport:

If realization of the Absolute Truth is the ultimate aim of life, it must be carried out by all means. In any one of the above-mentioned castes and orders of life, the four processes, namely glorifying, hearing, remembering and worshiping, are general occupations. Without these principles of life, no one can exist. Activities of the living being involve engagements in these four different principles of life. Especially in modern society, all activities are more or less dependent on hearing and glorifying. Any man from any social status becomes a well-known man in human society within a very short time if he is simply glorified truly or falsely in the daily newspapers. Sometimes political leaders of a particular party are also advertised by newspaper propaganda, and by such a method of glorification an insignificant man becomes an important man—within no time. But such propaganda by false glorification of an unqualified person cannot bring about any good, either for the particular man or for the society. There may be some temporary reactions to such propaganda, but there are no permanent effects. Therefore such activities are a waste of time. The actual object of glorification is the Supreme Personality of Godhead, who has created everything manifested before us. We have broadly discussed this fact from the beginning of the “janmādy asya” (SB 1.1.1) śloka of this Bhāgavatam. The tendency to glorify others or hear others must be turned to the real object of glorification-the Supreme Being. And that will bring happiness.
Formerly war was never declared by the whims of selfish political leaders; it was carried out on religious principles free from all vices. Violence carried out on religious principles is far superior to so-called nonviolence.
SB 1.7.36, Purport:

An enemy who does not resist is never killed by a warrior who knows the principles of religion. Formerly battles were fought on the principles of religion and not for the sake of sense gratification. If the enemy happened to be intoxicated, asleep, etc., as above mentioned, he was never to be killed. These are some of the codes of religious war. Formerly war was never declared by the whims of selfish political leaders; it was carried out on religious principles free from all vices. Violence carried out on religious principles is far superior to so-called nonviolence.
Mahārāja Yudhiṣṭhira was not a typically unenlightened political leader of modern democracy. Mahārāja Yudhiṣṭhira was instructed by Bhīṣmadeva and the infallible Lord also, and therefore he had full knowledge of everything in perfection.
SB 1.10.3, Purport:

The modern English law of primogeniture, or the law of inheritance by the firstborn, was also prevalent in those days when Mahārāja Yudhiṣṭhira ruled the earth and seas. In those days the King of Hastināpura (now part of New Delhi) was the emperor of the world, including the seas, up to the time of Mahārāja Parīkṣit, the grandson of Mahārāja Yudhiṣṭhira. Mahārāja Yudhiṣṭhira’s younger brothers were acting as his ministers and commanders of state, and there was full cooperation between the perfectly religious brothers of the King. Mahārāja Yudhiṣṭhira was the ideal king or representative of Lord Śrī Kṛṣṇa to rule over the kingdom of earth and was comparable to King Indra, the representative ruler of the heavenly planets. The demigods like Indra, Candra, Sūrya, Varuṇa and Vāyu are representative kings of different planets of the universe, and similarly Mahārāja Yudhiṣṭhira was also one of them, ruling over the kingdom of the earth. Mahārāja Yudhiṣṭhira was not a typically unenlightened political leader of modern democracy. Mahārāja Yudhiṣṭhira was instructed by Bhīṣmadeva and the infallible Lord also, and therefore he had full knowledge of everything in perfection.
SB Canto 2
The Lord plays exactly like the social, political or religious leaders. Because such roles ultimately culminate in the discussion of topics of the Lord, all such preliminary topics are also transcendental. That is the way of spiritualizing the civic activities of human society.
SB 2.3.14, Purport:

So Bhagavad-gītā, although containing the high philosophy of the Vedic wisdom, is for the beginners in the transcendental science, and Śrīmad-Bhāgavatam is for graduates and postgraduates in the transcendental science. Therefore literatures like Mahābhārata, the, purāṇas and similar other literatures which are full of the pastimes of the Lord, are all transcendental literatures, and they should be discussed with full confidence in the society of great devotees.

The difficulty is that such literatures, when discussed by professional men, appear to be mundane literature like histories or epics because there are so many historical facts and figures. It is said here, therefore, that such literatures should be discussed in the assembly of devotees. Unless they are discussed by devotees, such literatures cannot be relished by the higher class of men. So the conclusion is that the Lord is not impersonal in the ultimate issue. He is the Supreme Person, and He has His different activities. He is the leader of all living entities, and He descends at His will and by His personal energy to reclaim the fallen souls. Thus He plays exactly like the social, political or religious leaders. Because such roles ultimately culminate in the discussion of topics of the Lord, all such preliminary topics are also transcendental. That is the way of spiritualizing the civic activities of human society.
SB Canto 4
Many great political leaders have tried to establish independence, but due to such so-called independence the people’s dependence has only increased.
SB 4.9.35, Purport:

In this verse the word svārājyam, which means “complete independence,” is very significant. A conditioned soul does not know what complete independence is. Complete independence means situation in one’s own constitutional position. The real independence of a living entity, who is part and parcel of the Supreme Personality of Godhead, is to remain always dependent on the Supreme Lord, just like a child who plays in complete independence, guided by his parents, who watch over him. The independence of the conditioned soul does not mean to fight with the obstacles offered by māyā, but to surrender to Kṛṣṇa. In the material world, everyone is trying to become completely independent simply by fighting against the obstacles offered by māyā. This is called the struggle for existence. Real independence is to be reinstated in the service of the Lord. Anyone who goes to the Vaikuṇṭha planets or Goloka Vṛndāvana planet is freely offering his service to the Lord. That is complete independence. Just contrary to this is material overlordship, which we wrongly take to be independence. Many great political leaders have tried to establish independence, but due to such so-called independence the people’s dependence has only increased. The living entity cannot be happy trying to be independent in the material world. One has to surrender, therefore, unto the lotus feet of the Lord and engage in his original, eternal service.
The symptom of a qualified king or political leader is mentioned herein—he must be very merciful and compassionate to the people and see to their prime interest, which is to become elevated devotees of the Supreme Personality of Godhead.
SB 4.21.50, Purport:

The symptom of a qualified king or political leader is mentioned herein—he must be very merciful and compassionate to the people and see to their prime interest, which is to become elevated devotees of the Supreme Personality of Godhead. Great souls are naturally inclined to do good to others, and a Vaiṣṇava especially is the most compassionate and merciful personality in society. Therefore we offer our respects to a Vaiṣṇava leader as follows:

vāñchā-kalpatarubhyaś ca
kṛpā-sindhubhya eva ca
patitānāṁ pāvanebhyo
vaiṣṇavebhyo namo namaḥ

(I offer my respectful obeisances unto all the Vaiṣṇava devotees of the Lord. They can fulfill the desires of everyone, just like desire trees, and they are full of compassion for the fallen souls.)
The so-called political leaders are busy making plans to advance the material prosperity of their nation, but factually these political leaders only want an exalted position for themselves.
SB 4.24.66, Purport:

Many aristocratic families were created by people in their extreme madness, but we can see that in the course of time those families and empires have all been destroyed. But still the foolish atheists do not accept the supreme authority of the Lord. Such foolish people unnecessarily concoct their own duties without referring to the supreme authority of the Lord. The so-called political leaders are busy making plans to advance the material prosperity of their nation, but factually these political leaders only want an exalted position for themselves. Due to their greed for material position, they falsely present themselves as leaders before the people and collect their votes, although they are completely under the grip of the laws of material nature. These are some of the faults of modern civilization. Without taking to God consciousness and accepting the authority of the Lord, the living entities become ultimately confused and frustrated in their planmaking attempts.
Political leaders do not like to leave their political posts, and they either have to be shot by an enemy or obliged to leave by the arrival of death.
SB 4.29.76-77, Purport:

A living entity too much absorbed in material activity becomes very much attracted to the material body. Even at the point of death, he thinks of his present body and the relatives connected to it. Thus he remains fully absorbed in the bodily conception of life, so much so that even at the point of death he abhors leaving his present body. Sometimes it is found that a person on the verge of death remains in a coma for many days before giving up the body. This is common among so-called leaders and politicians who think that without their presence the entire country and all society will be in chaos. This is called māyā. Political leaders do not like to leave their political posts, and they either have to be shot by an enemy or obliged to leave by the arrival of death. By superior arrangement a living entity is offered another body, but because of his attraction to the present body, he does not like to transfer himself to another body.
SB Canto 5
SB 5.13.15, Translation:

There were and are many political and social heroes who have conquered enemies of equal power, yet due to their ignorance in believing that the land is theirs, they fight one another and lay down their lives in battle. They are not able to take up the spiritual path accepted by those in the renounced order. Although they are big heroes and political leaders, they cannot take to the path of spiritual realization.
Big political leaders might be able to conquer equally powerful political enemies, but unfortunately they cannot subdue their strong senses, the enemies that always accompany them.
SB 5.13.15, Purport:

Big political leaders might be able to conquer equally powerful political enemies, but unfortunately they cannot subdue their strong senses, the enemies that always accompany them. Not being able to conquer these nearby enemies, they simply try to conquer other enemies, and ultimately they die in the struggle for existence. They do not take to the path of spiritual realization or become sannyāsīs. Sometimes these big leaders take up the guise of a sannyāsī and call themselves mahātmās, but their only business is conquering their political enemies. Because they spoil their lives with the illusion of “this is my land and my family,” they cannot progress spiritually and attain liberation from the clutches of māyā.
Here the meaning of husband or guardian is clearly explained, people want to become a husband, a guardian, a governor or a political leader without knowing the actual meaning of such a superior position.
SB 5.18.20, Purport:

Here the meaning of husband or guardian is clearly explained, people want to become a husband, a guardian, a governor or a political leader without knowing the actual meaning of such a superior position. There are many people all over the world—indeed, throughout the universe—who claim for some time that they are husbands, political leaders or guardians, but in due course of time the Supreme Lord desires their removal from their posts, and their careers are immediately finished. Therefore those who are actually learned and advanced in spiritual life do not accept any leader, husband or maintainer other than the Supreme Personality of Godhead.
Instead of deceiving themselves and others by pretending to be all-powerful, all political leaders, husbands and guardians should spread the Kṛṣṇa consciousness movement so that everyone can learn how to surrender to Kṛṣṇa, the supreme husband.
SB 5.18.20, Purport:

Lord Kṛṣṇa personally states in Bhagavad-gītā (18.66), ahaṁ tvāṁ sarva-pāpebhyo mokṣayiṣyāmi: “I shall deliver you from all sinful reactions.” Kṛṣṇa is not afraid of anyone. On the contrary, everyone is afraid of Kṛṣṇa. Therefore He can actually give protection to a subordinate living entity. Since so-called leaders or dictators are completely under the control of material nature, they can never give complete protection to others, although they claim this ability due to false prestige. Na te viduḥ svārtha-gatiṁ hi viṣṇum: (SB 7.5.31) people do not know that real advancement in life consists of accepting the Supreme Personality of Godhead as one’s master. Instead of deceiving themselves and others by pretending to be all-powerful, all political leaders, husbands and guardians should spread the Kṛṣṇa consciousness movement so that everyone can learn how to surrender to Kṛṣṇa, the supreme husband.
SB 5.18.27, Translation:

My Lord, from the great leaders of the universe, such as Lord Brahmā and other demigods, down to the political leaders of this world, all are envious of Your authority. Without Your help, however, they could neither separately nor concertedly maintain the innumerable living entities within the universe. You are actually the only maintainer of all human beings, of animals like cows and asses, and of plants, reptiles, birds, mountains and whatever else is visible within this material world.
SB Canto 7
The educators, scholars and big political leaders worshiped by millions of people cannot understand the goal of life and take to Kṛṣṇa consciousness, for they have not accepted a bona fide spiritual master and the Vedas.
SB 7.5.32, Purport:

One may ask why highly educated persons do not take to Kṛṣṇa consciousness. The reason is explained in this verse. Unless one takes shelter of a bona fide, fully Kṛṣṇa conscious spiritual master, there is no chance of understanding Kṛṣṇa. The educators, scholars and big political leaders worshiped by millions of people cannot understand the goal of life and take to Kṛṣṇa consciousness, for they have not accepted a bona fide spiritual master and the Vedas. Therefore in the Muṇḍaka Upaniṣad (3.2.3) it is said, nāyam ātmā pravacanena labhyo na medhayā na bahunā śrutena: one cannot become self-realized simply by having an academic education, by presenting lectures in an erudite way (pravacanena labhyaḥ), or by being an intelligent scientist who discovers many wonderful things. One cannot understand Kṛṣṇa unless one is graced by the Supreme Personality of Godhead. Only one who has surrendered to a pure devotee of Kṛṣṇa and taken the dust of his lotus feet can understand Kṛṣṇa.
We have seen important political leaders killed for a slight discrepancy in their behavior.
SB 7.6.19, Purport:

Ajāmila separated himself from the Supreme Personality of Godhead by performing many sinful activities and was condemned by Yamarāja to be very severely punished, but because at the time of death he chanted the name of Nārāyaṇa, although he was calling not for the Supreme Lord Nārāyaṇa but for his son named Nārāyaṇa, he was saved from the hands of Yamarāja. Therefore, pleasing Nārāyaṇa does not require as much endeavor as pleasing one’s family, community and nation. We have seen important political leaders killed for a slight discrepancy in their behavior. Therefore pleasing one’s society, family, community and nation is extremely difficult. Pleasing Nārāyaṇa, however, is not at all difficult; it is very easy.
In recent history we have seen many political leaders work hard for individual and collective economic development, but they have all failed.
SB 7.7.41, Purport:

No one has ever achieved the results he desired from material activities. On the contrary, everyone has been frustrated again and again. Therefore one must not waste his time in such material activities for sensual pleasure, either in this life or in the next. So many nationalists, economists and other ambitious persons have tried for happiness, individually or collectively, but history proves that they have all been frustrated. In recent history we have seen many political leaders work hard for individual and collective economic development, but they have all failed. This is the law of nature, as clearly explained in the next verse.
SB Canto 9
Sometimes in our practical experience we see that some political leader adhering to satyāgraha will not eat but will drink water.
SB 9.4.39-40, Purport:

When Mahārāja Ambarīṣa, in his dilemma, consulted the brāhmaṇas about whether he should break the fast or wait for Durvāsā Muni, apparently they could not give a definite answer about what to do. A Vaiṣṇava, however, is the most intelligent personality. Therefore Mahārāja Ambarīṣa himself decided, in the presence of the brāhmaṇas, that he would drink a little water, for this would confirm that the fast was broken but would not transgress the laws for receiving a brāhmaṇa. In the Vedas it is said, apo ‘śnāti tan naivāśitaṁ naivānaśitam. This Vedic injunction declares that the drinking of water may be accepted as eating or as not eating. Sometimes in our practical experience we see that some political leader adhering to satyāgraha will not eat but will drink water. Considering that drinking water would not be eating, Mahārāja Ambarīṣa decided to act in this way.
SB Canto 10.1 to 10.13
The Lord’s purpose in maintaining this material world is to give everyone a chance to go back home, back to Godhead, but kings and political leaders unfortunately try to hinder the purpose of the Lord.
SB 10.2.1-2, Purport:

The Lord’s purpose in maintaining this material world is to give everyone a chance to go back home, back to Godhead, but kings and political leaders unfortunately try to hinder the purpose of the Lord, and therefore the Lord appears, either personally or with His plenary portions, to set things right. It is therefore said:

garbhaṁ sañcārya rohiṇyāṁ
devakyā yogamāyayā
tasyāḥ kukṣiṁ gataḥ kṛṣṇo
dvitīyo vibudhaiḥ stutaḥ

“Kṛṣṇa appeared in the womb of Devakī after transferring Baladeva to the womb of Rohiṇī by the power of Yogamāyā.” Yadubhiḥ sa vyarudhyata. The kings of the Yadu dynasty were all devotees, but there were many powerful demons, such as Śālva, who began to persecute them. At that time, Jarāsandha, who was Kaṁsa’s father-in-law, was extremely powerful, and therefore Kaṁsa took advantage of his protection and the help of the demons in persecuting the kings of the Yadu dynasty. The demons naturally appeared more powerful than the demigods, but ultimately, because of help received from the Supreme Personality of Godhead, the demons were defeated and the demigods triumphant.
By some arrangement of the Supreme Personality of Godhead, people are killed wholesale in different ways, by war, pestilence, famine and so on. At that time, even atheistic political leaders go to a church, mosque or temple for protection by God or gods and submissively say, “God willing.”
SB 10.4.3, Purport:

When Arjuna inquired from Kṛṣṇa in His universal form, “Who are You?” the Lord presented Himself as kāla, death personified to kill. By nature’s law, when there is an unwanted increase in population, kāla appears, and by some arrangement of the Supreme Personality of Godhead, people are killed wholesale in different ways, by war, pestilence, famine and so on. At that time, even atheistic political leaders go to a church, mosque or temple for protection by God or gods and submissively say, “God willing.” Before that, they pay no attention to God, not caring to know God or His will, but when kāla appears, they say, “God willing.” Death is but another feature of the supreme kāla, the Supreme Personality of Godhead. At the time of death, the atheist must submit to this supreme kāla, and then the Supreme Personality of Godhead takes away all his possessions (mṛtyuḥ sarva-haraś cāham (BG 10.34)) and forces him to accept another body (tathā dehāntara-prāptiḥ (BG 2.13)). This the atheists do not know, and if they do know, they neglect it so that they may go on with their normal life. The Kṛṣṇa consciousness movement is trying to teach them that although for a few years one may act as a great protector or great watchman, with the appearance of kāla, death, one must take another body by the laws of nature.
SB Cantos 10.14 to 12 (Translations Only)
SB 12.3.8, Translation:

“Political leaders challenge one another: ‘All this land is mine! It’s not yours, you fool!’ Thus they attack one another and die.”
SB 12.3.32, Translation:

Cities will be dominated by thieves, the Vedas will be contaminated by speculative interpretations of atheists, political leaders will virtually consume the citizens, and the so-called priests and intellectuals will be devotees of their bellies and genitals.
Sri Caitanya-caritamrta
CC Madhya-lila
The people of India, were entranced by the political leaders. We preferred, therefore, to come to the West, following the order of our spiritual master, and by the grace of Lord Caitanya Mahāprabhu this movement is becoming successful.
CC Madhya 7.109, Purport:

In Navadvīpa all the learned scholars are followers of the smṛti-śāstra, and Lord Caitanya Mahāprabhu did not attempt to convert them. Therefore the author has remarked that the spiritual potency Lord Śrī Caitanya Mahāprabhu did not manifest at Navadvīpa was by His grace manifested in South India. Thus everyone there became a Vaiṣṇava. By this it is to be understood that people are really interested in preaching in a favorable situation. If the candidates for conversion are too disturbing, a preacher may not attempt to spread Kṛṣṇa consciousness amongst them. It is better to go where the situation is more favorable. This Kṛṣṇa consciousness movement was first attempted in India, but the people of India, being absorbed in political thoughts, did not take to it. They were entranced by the political leaders. We preferred, therefore, to come to the West, following the order of our spiritual master, and by the grace of Lord Caitanya Mahāprabhu this movement is becoming successful.
Philosophers, historians, literary men, public speakers and social and political leaders are sometimes accepted as mahājanas.
CC Madhya 17.185, Purport:

There are many yogīs who want to control the senses, and for them Patañjali Ṛṣi is a mahājana. For the jñānīs, the atheist Kapila, Vasiṣṭha, Durvāsā, Dattātreya and other impersonalist philosophers are mahājanas. For the demons, Hiraṇyākṣa, Hiraṇyakaśipu, Rāvaṇa, Rāvaṇa’s son Meghanāda, Jarāsandha and others are accepted as mahājanas. For materialistic anthropologists speculating on the evolution of the body, a person like Darwin is a mahājana. The scientists who are bewildered by Kṛṣṇa’s external energy have no relationship with the Supreme Personality of Godhead, yet they are accepted by some as mahājanas. Similarly, philosophers, historians, literary men, public speakers and social and political leaders are sometimes accepted as mahājanas.
Other Books by Srila Prabhupada
Renunciation Through Wisdom
It is strange but true that political leaders can never understand that the Absolute Truth cannot be impersonal or formless but must be the Supreme Personality of Godhead.
Renunciation Through Wisdom 4.4:

It is strange but true that political leaders can never understand that the Absolute Truth cannot be impersonal or formless but must be the Supreme Personality of Godhead. The scriptures are filled with passages that describe incarnations such as the gigantic form of Lord Mahā-Viṣṇu lying on the Causal Ocean, but Lord Kṛṣṇa is the source of Mahā-Viṣṇu. Still the demented political leaders cannot comprehend the truth. But if out of His mercy Lord Kṛṣṇa wishes to bless such atheists, then their rocklike hearts will soften and they will see the two-handed form of Kṛṣṇa playing His flute in Vṛndāvana.
Message of Godhead
Even the biggest political leaders have been heard to say that the hungry man or woman finds no meaning in God and religion.
Message of Godhead Introduction:

At the present moment, the word religion is being sacrificed on the altar of materialistic tendencies. The human race is more concerned now with subject matters related to eating, sleeping, defending, and gratifying the senses, much as are the lower animals. The general tendency is to avoid transcendental subject matters as far as possible or, in any case, not to go into the details. Even the biggest political leaders have been heard to say that the hungry man or woman finds no meaning in God and religion. People in general, under the leadership of such materialistic men, are gradually descending to the status of lower animals, devoid of all transcendental realization, knowing nothing beyond their material bodies and the material world.

Source: http://www.dandavats.com/?p=25566

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A Bridge to God By Satyananda Dasa

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From Back to Godhead

Lessons on life, death, and living in a spirit of devotion

ISKCON devotees commonly use the phrase, “Going back home, back to Godhead.”Have you ever thought about what this means when a traveler is anxious to return home? Home is where our family is, where there are people who love us, who trust us. It’s the place we’re comfortable and happy. It’s the place we feel most natural.

The world we live in is foreign to the soul; we are strangers in a foreign land. In this alien place we call home we experience so many misfortunes, confusions, and unnatural conditions. These miseries are there because we have forgotten our true spiritual essence and instead identified ourselves with our material body. This identification causes us pain, yet we don’t want to give it up. We are in illusion about what will bring us happiness. In our misunderstanding of who we are, we want to hold on to those things that cause us suffering. We will actually do anything to preserve and to maintain our body. We do not hesitate to commit any atrocious activity to somehow or other increase our life span. We use the body to create a home and comfort, but of course neither is possible not for long, anyway.

Living on a Bridge

Lord Jesus is quoted in the Bible as saying that this world is a bridge. We should cross a bridge, not build a house on it. A bridge is meant for one purpose only to take us from one side to another. It is not a place to stop, to make a permanent residence.

This human form of life is the bridge that can take us from the land of illusion, from the land of attachment, and from the land of birth and death to our true home: the land of the eternal, the land of love, the land of Krishna. We should use this bridge for the purpose for which it was built. But we tend to be foolish weaver age persons in this world and so spend our entire lives simply trying to set up a home on this bridge. We try hard to hold on to illusion as long as possible. However much we endeavor, we are bound to be frustrated. We must be kicked off the bridge by death.

Death is not a Dead End

For worldly persons death means “the end.” Death means being kicked out of our home, ripped from family members, friends, and all our well-wishers. It doesn’t matter that we might have given our lives to these people. We must go.

But death shows a different face to devotees; death means tasting the sweet fruit of everything we have given our lives for not losing it, but gaining it. Death doesn’t mean to be stripped from our home but to return to our home. Death doesn’t mean to be stripped from family members and other loved ones but to return to our eternal, true family members and loved ones. After a long, tiring, and frustrating journey through the foreign land we can finally return home. A devotee welcomes both life and death for this reason.

It is said in the Gita (2.69) that what is nighttime for the conditioned soul is daytime for the devotee. Krishna tells Arjuna, “Although you are speaking like a wise man, you are actually a great fool because you are lamenting for that which is not worth lamenting for. Wise persons lament neither for the living nor the dead because they know the soul is eternal.”

If there is one thing devotees lament in their hearts, it is when someone dies without having used his or her life to attain the supreme consciousness. Such a miserly person has given up the chance for self-realization and has died like a dog or cat. There is nothing to lament for those who have cultivated Krishna consciousness. Death for such persons simply means taking one step closer to their home the spiritual world. We should weep tears of sorrow for those who waste their lives on pursuits other than Krishna consciousness because for them death casts them deeper into this foreign land and further from their home with Krishna.

Celebrating Death

For devotees, death is really the time of life we most celebrate. Death is when we go back home to our real family and to Krishna. In Vaikuntha there are no more disturbances, austerities, or sacrifices; it is a place where we can simply enjoy the comforts of our eternal home. Vaikuntha means “the place of no anxieties.” Knowing we are on our way to such a place leaves devotees peaceful, joyful, and fearless.

Ultimately, there is only one fear in this world the fear of death. All other fears are corollary to that. We are afraid of the death of our prestige, of our material sense enjoyment, of our fortune, and ultimately of our body. But a devotee knows there is no death. Death is simply when the door opens and Krishna says, “Welcome home!” Just like when you walk home after an arduous journey, longing for your mother’s cooking and to see your family again, your family greets you with a “Welcome home,” so it is when you return to Krishna. Throughout our lives we are knocking on the door to Krishna’s kingdom, asking Him to let us in. That is a devotee’s life.

Those who are not devotees do not knock on the door. Rather, they knock on every other door except Krishna’s. No one in your own home will kick you out, but when you stay in other people’s homes, after a brief visit they will get tired of you and say, “Why have you been here so long? Go away!” Similarly, we knock on so many doors and go to so many temporary homes from one birth to another. We knock on this doors of this family, that family, another family, and every time, ultimately, we are told to leave. We find ourselves back on the street time and again. This body, that body, another body, and then kicked out.

The only place we are not kicked out from is the home called Vaikuntha. By practicing sadhana-bhakti by engaging in devotional service Krishna opens that door with Sri Radha and all the gopas and gopis with their wonderful smiling faces, and says, “Welcome home.” And there is a wonderful celebration death.

In this sense death means life and life means death. Therefore sadhus say, “Die before you die.” When we die to all our illusions, false prestige, and attachments before our physical death, we attain eternal life; there is no death. In this world they have a different philosophy: “Live before you die.” By that they mean, “Try to accumulate as much as you can and try to enjoy as much as you can, because you don’t know what death will bring. Eat, drink, and be merry, for tomorrow may never come.” This is what ignorant people say. Devotees have faith and understanding and, ultimately, they recognize the false propaganda when they hear it.

Lessons in Dying

When Sri Ramanujacharya was on his death bed, his disciples gathered around him, weeping. Ramanujacharya looked out at them and said, “Why are you crying? I should be crying for you. I am going back to Vaikuntha, where there is no more suffering. You have to stay here. So don’t cry. Just chant the names of Narayana.”

Ramanujacharya served his mission while performing penance. To him death meant God was saying, “All right, you have struggled long enough for me. Now come home.” Similarly, Srila Prabhupada struggled. He endured much pain to serve the Lord. He was willing to do it forever if Krishna wanted him to, but then when Krishna indicated to him that it was time to come home, Srila Prabhupada told his disciples, “Take me to Vrindavana. Krishna-Balarama are telling me to come home.” He went to Vrindavana and there performed his seva of translating holy scriptures until his last breath.

He assured us there was no need for us to be confused by his passing; Krishna was simply calling him home. He was living in his wonderful quarters in Vrajabhumi with devotees surrounding him constantly chanting Hare Krishna. In the end, he said “Hare Krishna” and went home, back to God. He had no fear, no regrets, and no anxieties. We were crying because we were now without him, but his only sorrow was that he had to leave us here since we were not ready to join him yet. That was his only sorrow. His sorrow was not like that of a materialist: “I’m losing my life, losing my body. I have 108 temples; they are mine. I’m being taken away from them.” No. He explained, “Everything is Krishna’s. These temples are all the property of guru and Krishna. The door of Goloka Vrindavana is opening for me and I want to take all of you with me, but you are not ready. Please come join me when you can.” This was his last message: that we should cooperate to show our love for him. And through this cooperation he promised that we would someday come to join him with Krishna.

By understanding life and death like this we can feel real peace and truth in our lives. We should strive every possible moment to prepare ourselves for this journey home, back to Godhead by engaging in the wonderful process of devotional service, by carefully hearing the spiritual master’s messages, and by following those messages diligently while serving the Vaishnavas in a spirit of humility, respect, and devotion. And we should very carefully and attentively, according to our vows, chant the holy names: Hare Krishna, Hare Krishna, Krishna Krishna, Hare Hare/ Hare Rama, Hare Rama, Rama Rama Hare Hare. By performing this simple and sublime process of invoking the holy name we can experience the eternal truth of Krishna’s love for us in this life and joyfully engage in His loving service in His wonderful mission.

Source: http://www.dandavats.com/?p=26290

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8545908289?profile=RESIZE_584xKarnamrita, a man who is missed
A man who believed morals should persist
For him family was at the top of the list
A principal which in early days we’d resist

A true brahmin – devotee sincere
One who wanted things to be clear
As truth will always drive away fear
This loss – puts the cheek to the tear

He fought a fierce cancer combat
Now the body is a mere new stat
So many, you could shake a stick at
Resilient soul moves to a new flat

He was determined in helping the other
His was a vision for earthly sister/brother
And Archana – the indisputable partner
A support – comrade like no other

All hail to this man of power
We’ll remember him at this glorious hour
Blessings to him with plural flower
Krishna’s mercy to come like a shower

Source: http://www.dandavats.com/?p=93279

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8545867092?profile=RESIZE_584xBy The Grihastha Vision Team

On February 9th, beloved Grihastha Vision Team member and premarital counselor Karnamrita Dasa passed away after a long battle with cancer.

Karnamrita Dasa was initiated by Srila Prabhupada in 1970. For fourteen years, he lived in various ISKCON temples around the world. In the beginning of his devotional service, he participated in street sankirtana and book distribution, and eventually became a head cook and pujari, specializing in emergency devotional service.

After marrying, he did extensive personal growth work and realized the importance of such healing as an adjunct to devotional service. Trained in many energy-healing modalities, he incorporated healing into his life, work, and service.

He often worked with his wife, Arcana Siddhi Devi Dasi, a licensed clinical social worker, in premarital counseling and couple’s therapy. Together they presented workshops with spiritual and/or personal growth themes throughout the world, including workshops for the GVT.

Karnamrita had a blog on Krishna.com and published a book, Give to Live, available through Amazon. He is also co-author of Heart and Soul Connection: A Devotional Guide to Marriage, Service, and Love.

Read more: https://iskconnews.org/karnamrita-dasa-who-lived-to-give-passes-away,7686/

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8545864075?profile=RESIZE_584xFrom doing things for Krsna to looking after people who were doing things for Krsna to looking after people for Krsna, all these things come up in devotional service. The mercy of Sri Caitanya Mahaprabhu offers us a golden opportunity that if somehow or other, we can take advantage in the service we do for this mission and in our personal behaviour and in our dealings with the vaisnavas, then surely we can go back to Godhead. As I said, in my youth, I was sometime careless in my dealings with others. But now I regret that as I realise now that every vaisnava is very precious. Even one relationship spoilt with one vaisnava is one opportunity to receive mercy blocked. So I am now regretful for my careless dealings and now I am trying to be more careful and more appreciative in my dealings of vaisnavas. I appreciate the mercy that comes from the vasinavas because this is directly the mercy of Sri Caitanya Mahaprabhu.

Source: https://www.kksblog.com/2021/02/every-vaisnava-is-precious/

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Two Victories by Bhaktimarga Swami

8545850671?profile=RESIZE_400xWow! So, one of our monks, a student of Bhakti Raghava Swami, Canadian monk extraordinaire, has accomplished something wonderful. At a length of 73 minutes, Krishna Chandra, broke the world record for reciting by heart the entire text, Bhagavad-Gita. There are 700 verses of wisdom that form the entire text; a poetic work of literary power.

Congratulations!

I would also like to express my thanks once again to Dwarkanatha for a daily brewing, steeping spices for a tea to combat the effect of the COVID-19 virus. Since restrictions were enforced in March or our cook has been steady at making it available at our ashram residents here in Toronto. He uses cloves, ginger, cinnamon, pepper and adds a dose of jaggery to sweeten it.

Regular consumption of this tea and adhering to social distancing has kept our ashram free of the virus, thus far. We would like to keep it that way. And I might add that catching fresh air outdoors, some vitamin D, if possible, and a good walk also is the type of protection we need.

I managed to catch our cook just as he was completing cooking the evening meal, comprised of cream of broccoli soup (the cream is from coconut milk), homemade bread, a curried mixed veggie prep and finally the chai (tea).

A meal like that plus a reading from the text Chaitanya Charitamrta starts a closure to our evening.

Source: http://thewalkingmonk.blogspot.com/2021/02/tuesday-february-2nd-2021.html

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Direct Vs Indirect Devotional Service

 

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Direct devotional service is divided into five transcendental humors or flavors, and indirect devotional service is divided into seven transcendental humors. 
Nectar of Devotion 34: Transcendental pleasure derived from devotional service can be divided into two groups: direct devotional service and indirect devotional service. Direct devotional service is divided into five transcendental humors or flavors, and indirect devotional service is divided into seven transcendental humors. Direct devotional services are as follows: neutrality, servitude, fraternity, paternity and conjugal love. Indirect devotional service is divided into laughter, compassion, anger, chivalry, dread, astonishment and ghastliness. Devotional service can therefore be divided into twelve types, each of which has a different color. The colors are white, multicolored, orange, red, light green, gray, yellow, off-whitish, smoky, pink, black and cloudy. The twelve different kinds of transcendental humors are controlled by different incarnations of God, such as Kapila, Mādhava, Upendra, Nṛsiṁha, Nanda-nandana, Balarāma, Kūrma, Kalki, Rāghava, Bhārgava, Varāha and Matsya.
Sustenance, manifestation, expansion, reflection and lamentation are the five visible symptoms in exchanges of ecstatic love. The test of devotional service can therefore be made in terms of these five symptoms. In the devotional service of neutrality there is sustenance, in chivalrous devotional service there is expansion, in compassionate devotional service there is reflection, in angry devotional service there is lamentation, and so on.
An apparently pitiable condition in devotional service may appear distressing to the inexperienced student, but the feelings of the devotee in this pitiable condition are considered to be ecstatic by expert devotees. For example, the subject matter of the Rāmāyaṇa is sometimes considered pitiable and distressing to the heart, but actually that is not the fact. The Rāmāyaṇa narrates how Lord Rāma was sent to the forest by His father just when He was going to be enthroned. After Lord Rāma’s departure, Mahārāja Daśaratha, His father, died. In the forest His wife, Sītādevī, was kidnapped by Rāvaṇa, and there was a great war. When Sītādevī was finally delivered from the clutches of Rāvaṇa, Rāvaṇa’s whole family and kingdom, and Rāvaṇa himself, were vanquished. When Sītādevī came home she was tried by fire, and after some days she was again banished to the forest. All of these subjects in the Rāmāyaṇa seem very pitiable, and they may appear very distressing to the reciter, but actually they are not. Otherwise, why would Hanumān, the great devotee of Lord Rāmacandra, read daily about the activities of Lord Rāmacandra, as described in the Rāmāyaṇa itself? The fact is that in any of the above-mentioned twelve transcendental humors of devotional service, everything is transcendentally pleasing.

Source: http://www.dandavats.com/?p=85627

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Last Night The Grim Reaper Came for me

8545888458?profile=RESIZE_584xBy Karnamrita Das

I saw the grim reaper in my dream,

feeling no fear, I was curious to see him.

Coming near, he pointed his bony, pale hand toward me.
His other palm raised in blessing pose
where it was written, the number 65—my age!
Then with both hands, he pointed to the sky, and shrugged.
His sickle and dark robes then transformed.
He showed his true self, as a blissful, radiant sage.
Smiling enchantingly, he said, “People dress me with their fear,
thinking I have come to destroy them and take everything away.
You can see me as I am, because you have no fear,
and you live the life of Godly devotion, the life of the soul.”

“Death only pertains to the body, having nothing to do with the soul.
I only come to help souls have another opportunity in physical form.
Life is a great blessing to realize the soul and God,
but souls cover themselves and hide behind matter’s disguise.
People fear me because of their false attachments to temporary things
that are actually the cause of all their suffering, such a great irony.
They fail to know the purpose of life and death, and
that physical life is short for a very good reason.
Not knowing this people complain about superficial things
instead of searching for answers why life is temporary,
what life is for, and why there is birth, death, disease,
old age, joy and sorrow, and a feeling of incompleteness.

“Souls in physical dress cling to false things
that have nothing to do with themselves as a soul,
thinking they are a body, that material things belong to them,
that bodily relationships and designations define them,
that kinsmen only come from blood ties—
but actually every being is our kinsman
as we are all children of the same God, our Source.
To study this is life’s curriculum, to realize it, is true knowledge.
One can’t wait till the time of death to contemplate this
but must study it in life, endeavoring to live the life of the soul.
The great prophets throughout time come to teach this—
following their example you must share this wisdom
about the proper use of this temporary physical life;
real life is eternal in the great joyful celebration of God;
we find meaning and purpose in the spirit;
and everything we search for is within already.

"You should remember that you may die today—
or tomorrow, or before you turn 66, or in twenty years.
It matters not, if you live the life of the soul.
For one truly devoted to God, life and death are the same—
to the extent you live the “soul purpose” of life and remember God.
This truth has to be chosen moment by moment
until you are completely purified of matter’s influence.
You must teach by who you are, and your highest ideals.
Let your soul’s light illuminate and guide you at every step
and help receptive souls awaken to their divine potential
or that which they search for without knowing.
Thus you have to demonstrate what they are searching for
by radiating the joy, peace and wisdom of the soul,
and speak from your soul heart to theirs—
that is your life work now and forever.”

Then I woke up, praying to Krishna to completely wake up!

Source: http://www.dandavats.com/?p=61172

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Just after the 12 years of exile of the Pandavas was completed, they were considering where to spend the remaining 1 year incognito. While still in the forest, a brahmana came to them and reported that the sticks which he used for igniting his sacrificial fire had somehow gotten entangled in the antlers of a deer, and the sticks were now gone. The sage asked the Pandavas to see if they could possibly return the sticks. In a search for that deer, a very unusual event took place. They could not find the deer, but instead became overwhelmed with thirst (much like what happened to Maharaja Pariksit). A distant lake was spotted, and one-by-one the Pandavas went to quench their thirst and died instantly when they drank from the lake, not heeding the warning of a crane to first answer his questions before they drank. When Yudhisthira came to the lake, he was stunned seeing his dead brothers lying by the side of the lake.

As with his brothers, Yudhisthira heard the voice of the crane warning him to not drink from the lake without answering his questions. The crane then transformed his shape into a Yaksa, who then posed very deep questions of Maharaja Yudhisthira. Within the profound answers given by Maharaja Yudhisthira is the often- quoted phrase “Mahajano yena gatah sa panthah” [Caitanya caritamrta. Madhya 17.186], or “The path of spiritual perfection is enunciated by the perfected souls, the mahajanas”. Another often-quoted statement of Maharaja Yudhisthira is that “The most wonderful thing in this world is that, although everyone is dying, people think that they will somehow live forever.” A summary the questions and answers is found below.
Questions by the Yaksha to Yudhisthira Maharaj.
Q: The Yaksa asked, “What is heavier than Earth?”
A: “A mother’s love”, replied Yudhisthira.
Q: By what does one become wise?
A: By serving one’s elders.
Q: What are the tidings of this world?
A: The world is like a cooking pot with the sun as its fire, days and nights as its fuel and months and seasons as its wooden spoon. All of us are being cooked by time.
Q: What is the most wonderful thing?
A: The most wonderful thing is that although everyday innumerable humans and their animals go to the abode of death, still a man thinks he is immortal.
Q: What makes the soul rise out of matter?
A: It is knowledge of the Supreme Lord which makes the soul rise. .
Reading Assignment a) The Lake of Death, Mahabharata.
a) The Lake of Death, Mahabharata (Krishna Dharma, Torchlight Publishing) .
“I am a Yaksa, not a bird. Hail to you! It was I who killed your energetic brothers for their own faults. Although forbidden to drink, they disregarded me. If one loves life, he should not attempt to take this water by force. The lake is mine and one may take its water only after answering my questions.” “O Yaksa, I do not wish to take what is yours. I shall try to answer your questions to the best of my ability. Please ask me what you will.”
The Yaksa began to place questions before Yudhisthira: “What makes the soul rise out of his entanglement in matter? Who keeps him company, who is his guide on that spiritual journey, and on what is he established?” “It is knowledge of the Supreme Lord which makes the soul rise. Godly qualities are his companions, dharma is his guide, and he is established on truth.”
“What makes one learned? How does one attain to that which is most exalted? How does one acquire a second self, and by what, O King, does one become wise?” “One becomes learned by studying the Vedas. By asceticism one attains what is most exalted. Intelligence is like a second self, and serving one’s elders makes one wise.”
The Yaksa then asked about all kinds of subjects, ranging from worldly wisdom to knowledge of religion to spiritual matters. Yudhisthira answered them all without hesitation. Finally the Yaksa said, “I am satisfied. Answer my last four questions and I will restore one of your brothers to life. Who in this world is happy? What is the most wonderful thing? What are the tidings of this world, and how can one find the eternal path of religion?”
With folded palms Yudhisthira replied, “He who is neither in debt nor exiled and who lives simply, eating simple food in his own home, is happy. The most wonderful thing is that although every day innumerable creatures go to the abode of death, still a man thinks he is immortal. The tidings are that in this world–which is like a cauldron with the sun as its fire, days and nights as its fuel, and months and seasons as its wooden ladle–all creatures are being cooked by time. The eternal religious path is found only in the heart of great mystics.” The Yaksa smiled. “You have rightly answered every question. Tell me which of your brothers you wish to have restored to life?” “O Yaksa, let Nakula, as tall as a sal tree and endowed with a broad chest and long arms, be brought to life.”
The Yaksa was surprised. “Bhimasena is surely more important to you than Nakula, O King, and Arjuna is your chief support. Why do you ask for Nakula to be revived?” “He who sacrifices virtue is himself destroyed,” replied Yudhisthira, “and he who preserves virtue is in turn preserved by it. I am therefore careful to always observe virtue. For me, great virtue lies in refraining from cruelty; it is superior to all worldly gain. Thus I ask for Nakula. Both Kunti and Madri are the same to me. In myself Kunti still has one son, but Madri now has none. With a desire to behave equally toward my two mothers, I ask for the life of Nakula.”
“Since, O Pandava, you consider abstention from cruelty superior to both profit and desire, then let all your brothers be restored to life.” As the Yaksa spoke, the four brothers rose from the ground as if from a sleep. They felt refreshed and free from hunger and thirst. Yudhisthira then asked the Yaksa, “Who are you, O great being, who assumes the form of a crane? Tell me in truth your identity. Are you a god? Perhaps you are my father himself.” Yudhisthira had guessed correctly and the Yaksa replied, “I am indeed your father, O best of the Bharatas. Know me to be Dharma. I have come here with the intention of meeting you. Fame, truth, self-control, purity, simplicity, charity, modesty, steadiness, asceticism and celibacy are my limbs. I am reached by abstention from cruelty, impartiality, peacefulness, asceticism, purity and humility. You possess all these qualities, dear son. By good fortune you have conquered your mind and senses and practice virtue. I wanted to test you and I am fully satisfied. Ask me for boons and I will bestow them. Those who are ever devoted to me need never experience misfortune.” Yudhisthira bowed respectfully before his father and said, “My first desire is that the Agnihotra of the Brahmin whose fire-sticks were lost not be destroyed.” “O son of Kunti, it was I in the form of the deer who carried away those sticks. I shall return them to you. Ask for some other boon.”
[NOTE: from an earlier passage in this same chapter— “One day, as they sat discussing in the company of rsis, a Brahmin in obvious distress came before Yudhisthira. He explained that a deer had caught hold of the sticks he used to light his sacred fire and taken them into the forest. "The sticks, along with my ladle and other paraphernalia, were tied in a bundle. Somehow the deer caught them on his horns. O hero, I must have them back so that my sacrifice may not be stopped.”]
Yudhisthira thought carefully and said, “The twelve years of our forest life are now complete. For the thirteenth year we must live incognito. Please grant that no man will recognize us during that time.” “So be it. Even if you wander about in the world as your actual selves, you will not be recognized. Through my favor you will lead a secret, incognito life in the city of Virata. Now take these fire sticks and ask from me another boon. I am not satisfied with conferring only these two favors. O Yudhisthira, you should know that I begot you. Vidura, your friend and well-wisher, is also a part of myself.” Dharma handed the sticks to Yudhisthira, who replied, “O god of gods, it is enough for me that I have seen you. To please you, however, I will accept one further boon. O lord, grant that I may always overcome avarice, folly and anger, and that my mind be always inclined toward charity, asceticism and truth.” Dharma smiled and said, “By nature you are gifted with these qualities, O Pandava. You are already the embodiment of virtue. But I grant your desire.” The god then disappeared, leaving the five Pandavas standing together on the shore of the lake. In wonder they returned to their hermitage with the Brahmin’s fire-sticks.

Source: http://www.dandavats.com/?p=85751

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8542964875?profile=RESIZE_584xBy Karnamrita das

PRAYERS FOR SURRENDER TO LET GO OF THE UNHELPFUL AND ACCEPT OUR CONTRIBUTION: I may die today. I may not be able to finish this piece of writing. I have an incurable condition which I was blessed to remember from my cancer diagnosis. I am a soul encased in a body that by identifying with gives me the view that I must suffer disease, old age, death, and rebirth. I have an ego that feels threatened by non-existence and sees others as competitors for what appear to be scarce resources, and so I create friends and enemies. I think I have to watch my back at all times in fear and look out for “No. 1” or for me, those who support me, and what is “mine.”.

I believe I am defined by what mind tells me, what I see, and by the conditions around me: I consider that my identity is my work, my station in life, my story, my family, my nationality, ethnicity, gender, religion, sport’s team, favorite sitcom, or my past or present circumstances. I act as if the world should be centered around me, thinking that the world and other persons, places, or things are for my personal enjoyment. I tend to argue for my limitations and staying the same rather than work toward fulfilling my potential with faith that I can and must change to avoid stagnation.

The above is what is called material bodily conditioning, and what I, and all us of are up against, when we take up the banner of the soul to spiritually awaken by realizing our true nature for the glory of God. Fortunately, I have been blessed to understand that there must be some purpose about my current bodily/mental condition which in my late teenage past became intolerable, the basis of an existential crisis that led me on my spiritual quest. I again returned to find bhakti, the holy name, my comrades in spirit, and my teachers.

Thus, due to some unimaginable good fortune, I dedicated my life, sincerely though naively, to understand my spiritual purpose and fulfilling it through my personal mission. With this idea, I began my spiritual journey. On that journey, I have traveled through many valleys, tropical islands, deserts, or with great joy, difficulties, detours, frustrations, disappointments, starts and stops, recommitments, longings for what I thought I lost, and then, repeatedly being redirected forward on the path of light and true virtuous life.

I have to continually remind myself of the urgency of this quest, albeit with a sense of humor, and reevaluate my progress toward the transcendent goal. Doing this, I have to make course corrections to keep on the path with enthusiasm and joy. I see my life circumstances and whatever conditions or people I encounter as purposeful, meant to teach, and help me grow as a person and spiritual practitioner.

I cannot use my spiritual quest as an excuse for not living as a human being and understanding both my life lessons and the gifts I am meant to share with both humility in my dependence on God, and confidence in his grace and help. Nor can I use my physical necessities as an excuse for not continuing my spiritual aspirations and practices. Balance is always in order until that time when our spiritual calling takes over our life and becomes our only necessity. When we love Krishna, or God, we will know what to do!

In our initial enthusiasm for the spiritual quest we may imitate this stage of full surrender. While that does have value for the short term to give us some spiritual footing, we gradually come to realize just how high such a stage this is, requiring considerable spiritual standing and passing through many lower stages of growth and tests. That way out is through!

It is never too late to be what you might have been! Thus, in the last stage of my life, or perhaps with my last breath, I reaffirm with whatever humility I have, that I am a keeper of the flame of bhakti (as all devotees are meant to be) to whatever degree I am blessed. I have to do whatever is required to keep that flame burning brightly—my challenge is to not be distracted by complacency or comfort. I am also called to pass that torch of spiritual illumination to others and teach whatever I know. If I don’t, I will dry up, and just fade away ingloriously.

To this end I pray for all I am worth to realize my highest potential for the good of all, and encourage you do that same. Be a possibility thinker. Change your focus by affirming your highest good. Spiritual faith attracts the mercy to know that prayer with the holy name carries us and can move our personal mountains or apparent obstacles. With God (for us, Krishna) all things are possible!

Live and pray. Breathe, aspire, pray, and become. Share and serve. Give and love. Offer everything (Gita 9-27). Surround yourself with the holy names, inspiring association, and what encourages you. Let us encourage one another to stay the course of a lifetime of devotional aspirations and service!

Source: http://www.dandavats.com/?p=76205

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By Karnamrita Das and Arcana siddhi Devi Dasi

I have been speaking to a friend about how personal and spiritual growth can be related, or how our being balanced human beings in the mode of goodness is a good foundation for Krishna consciousness. Thus I thought of posting this article by my wife and I: Chanting the holy name and engaging in Bhakti-yoga (Krishna consciousness or devotional service) is the ultimate process of purification and healing in our tradition of Gaudiya Vaishnavism. The process of counseling should be seen as an adjunct to the process of Krishna consciousness, and although it can be helpful for some devotees, it is not in itself the panacea for all our problems. The reason for bringing this up is that sometimes the question arises: “Why do we need anything other than our spiritual practices to be successful in our spiritual life?”

One answer is that we don’t. Only bhakti, can give bhakti, or Krishna consciousness. However, therapy can create a favorable mental environment for the practice of Bhakti yoga. A “favorable mental environment” generally means a healthy psychology which is balanced and strongly influenced by the “mode of goodness”.

There has been much criticism for going to a “non-devotee” therapist. There is validity to this concern to the extent that the therapist doesn’t support or understand the practice of Gaudiya Vaishnavism. Putting that concern aside for now, what if a therapist is first and foremost a devotee and is a therapist by profession and as a service to devotees? What if such a devotee therapist is using therapy in the pursuit of helping a devotee in their spiritual life? If therapy is used in this way, then that therapy is part of Krishna consciousness because it serves it.

Even though psychotherapy isn’t innately spiritual or necessarily supports a belief in God, there is more and more acceptance in its’ practice of the spiritual dimension to life. The development of transpersonal and other more spiritual therapies attest to this. In addition in the last 20 years we have seen a shift (at least in social work) from not acknowledging a person’s religion or spirituality, to seeing them as a great aid to the process of therapy.

We can give our practical experience about the value of therapy with devotees. Sometimes even mature devotees come to us with relationship problems or difficulties in performing their sadhana due to their negative perceptions and feelings (anarthas). Often these devotees are “doing everything right” from the external point of view of faithful spiritual practice, and still they are feeling “stuck” in the preliminary stages of devotion. Or in other cases, the devotee’s mental disturbance is so severe that they are not able to perform their sadhana at all. In either case, there is obviously something internal they are doing which needs to be changed, and frequently counseling can be very helpful. These devotees have generally exhausted other opinions.

For more conservative devotees, psychotherapy itself (or any process not found in Shrila Prabhupada’s books or in Vedic literatures in general) is really on trial since it is a material art that may on the surface disagree with the tenets of Krishna conscious philosophy. Therapy like anything else–such as the practice of medicine, law, architecture, etc–is only a tool, and it can be used or misused. One of the biggest fears against therapists is that in some respects they are in the position of being a type of Guru and they give spiritual (or “material”) advice.

This is a reality, and it means that ideally a devotee’s therapist should be an advanced devotee who is well aware of their great responsibility to give good advice. In some cases, this “advice” may appear to be a step backward to outsiders, yet the goal is a healthy psychology that fosters sadhana and wholesome relationships with devotees and others. In extreme cases the goal may initially be physical survival.

It seems we need to demystify counseling, or frame it in terms that are comfortable for devotees. What exactly is counseling or psychotherapy? Although we can label counseling in a stereotyped way based on its misuse, we see Krishna conscious counseling as a very specific and focused type of devotee association. This process allows a trained person (who is ideally compassionate, balanced, and also a devotee of Krishna in good standing) to help us change our unhealthy patterns and learn more productive ways of interacting with the external world, as well as helping us make the mind our friend and not our enemy.

Though our pure chanting and serving dissolve the subtle body (our material mind, intelligence, and false ego in which our material desires and anarthas are stored), it is generally a slow process. Our habitual mental patterns and attitudes often hold us back. They can become so much a part of us that we often don’t notice them or we think there is nothing we can do to change. Counseling is one way to facilitate change, and change, or moving toward our spiritual identity is really what spiritual life is all about. We should be willing to accept whatever will assist us in our progressive change or spiritual awakening.

Therapy and counseling can help us take better advantage of our spiritual practices. Though not everyone needs it, it can be an additional support to help us to remain fixed in our goal and avoid offenses that may be caused from unhealthy attitudes (anarthas). Offenses and anarthas feed off each other, and can become part of a downward spiral that if not addressed will prevent our spiritual progress, and if severe enough, will take us away from Krishna.

Below is a brief outline of what we understand to be the essence of the therapeutic process in Krishna Consciousness.

1) The therapeutic relationship allows a person to feel safe revealing his/her mind, since confidentiality is a basic principle.

2) The therapeutic relationship gives the devotee a place to vent bottled-up feelings that would otherwise come out in dysfunctional or destructive behaviors towards self and others.

3) The therapeutic relationship helps the devotee to confront behavior patterns that may be hindering relationships with others and sabotaging his/her service.

4) The therapeutic relationship helps the devotee to acknowledge anger, lust, greed and envy in a non-judgmental setting and together with the therapist can generate creative ways to tackle the behavior and keep it in check.

5) The therapeutic relationship helps the devotee to understand how the past, i.e., relationships with parents etc., have helped shaped his/her current perceptions and behaviors. This understanding can help unconscious patterns become more conscious.

6) When our behavioral motivations come into the conscious realm we can then understand them and make choices to correct them. They no longer have the power over us that they did when they were submerged in the unconscious.

To conclude, Krishna conscious counseling is meant to help the devotee deal with their presented problem in a way that is conducive to healthy relationships, and to their spiritual practices. The guidance of the therapeutic process can help retire anarthas, and enable one to chant and serve with more attention and purity. In this sense therapy can be seen as a strong rod to give support to the tree of Bhakti, meant to assist the primary goal of Krishna consciousness. In our assessment therapy when applied properly goes well with the practice of Krishna consciousness. The efficacy of any process can be judged by the result. If something is helpful to our spiritual life we can certainly see that as a manifestation of Krishna. [As an aside, we require many devotee therapists to meet the demand, so I hope our youth will consider a career in counseling. Helping devotees is a very satisfying service and benefits our entire society of devotees!]

Source: http://www.dandavats.com/?p=42545

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In Memoriam – Karnamrita das

8542915066?profile=RESIZE_584xVideo: Click here

By Siddhanta Das

He went out on Sankirtan book distribution, selling, giving away, Srila Prabhupada’s books for many years. In each book he sold he had a very personal encouraging letter printed out offering to correspond and answer any question, he would sign each letter and he had a substantial list of people he regularly diligently kept in correspondence with from each of these interactions. His personal touch inspired the people he met to share their life stories with him.

Source: http://www.dandavats.com/?p=93255

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Which Brahma are you? By Karnamrita dasa

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The story of Lord Brahma going to visit Krishna at Dvarka is one of my favorite stories for reminding me of my insignificance. I think of this story when I am confused with other Karnamritas. I get email for Karnamrita dasi the singer, and I get asked if I wrote the biography of Gaura-kishora das Babhaji, or other books. I am reminded of my dear friend Dr. Garuda who has to distinguish himself from another Garuda who is active on-line.

By Karnamrita dasa

So which Karnamrita am I? That is a great question with superficial and deep answers. Who are any of us?

Prabhupada initiated 3 disciples with the name of Karnamrita das, and I am the middle one. So I could answer that I am the insignificant servant of Prabhupada
(with one big head of fluff) who was initiated in Los Angeles in August 1970, or I could say I am the husband of Archana-siddhi the well know devotee therapist and BTG author, or the I am the pujari, or I am the energy healer New Agy type devotee, etc. We all have so many ways in which we may be know or designated that are to our liking or not.

Ke ami? So which one are we? Which das or dasi are you—really? Let us remember this story of Brahma:

Lord Brahma is greeted by Krishna’s doorman at one of his palaces and asks,

‘What is your name so I may tell Lord Krishna who has come, desiring his audience.’

‘I am his devotee Brahma,’ was the reply.

Brahma may have wondered how the doorman didn’t recognize him by his four heads, but perhaps this doorkeeper was inexperienced. We assume that many other demigods came to visit Shri Krishna in Dvarka, so perhaps the doorkeeper wanted to make sure he didn’t make a mistake.

After some time, the doorman returned and asked another question to the anxious Brahma, ‘Which Brahma are you’?

With the appearance of the doorman Brahma was expecting to be let in. Thus he was taken back by the question, and puzzled over the meaning. His great intelligence from his four heads was bewildered. What kind of a question was this? As far as he knew he was the only Brahma, so were there others? Brahma is not a man of few words, yet he found himself speechless in confusion. Finally, he came up with a reply.

‘I am the four headed Brahma, the father of the four Kumaras.’

After some time he was escorted in through the incredibly opulent palace to the room where the regal Krishna was sitting comfortably on a royal throne.

Upon seeing Lord Krishna, Brahma offered him obeisances and appropriate worship, and then Shri Krishna honored him with welcoming words. He inquired from Brahma about the nature of his visit.

Brahma replied that he would tell him about the nature of his visit after Krishna helped with a doubt.

Brahma questioned the Lord thus, ‘Why did you ask which Brahma had come? Kindly tell me the purpose of such an inquiry. Are their other Brahmas besides me in this universe?

Krishna smiled at Brahma’s words and called all the Brahmas from the infinite universes. Immediately unlimited Brahmas arrived wth their various numbers of heads. Some had ten, some twenty heads, fifty, a hundred a thousand, some ten thousand, one hundred thousand, some ten million and one hundred million. Their was no counting the number of heads.

Also arriving from each universe were the various manifestations of Lord Shiva with unlimited heads, and King Indra with thousands of eyes on their bodies.

Beholding the unlimited opulenses of Krishna and feeling dwarfed by the manifestation of other Brahmas, our universes Brahma felt like a rabbit amidst many elephants.

I love what Brahma says, ‘There are people who say, ‘I know everything about Krishna.’ Let them think in that way. As far as I am concerned, I do not wish to say very much about this matter. O my Lord, let me say this much. As far your opulences are concerned, they are all beyond the reach of my mind, body and words.’ [SB 10.14.38]

The ‘Law of Contrast’ is very important for all of us. Thinking of those greater than our self can help us to realize our true position, as tiny and insignificant. We all have a little bit of ‘Isha’ or controlling power, yet in comparison to the many powerful people on this planet what is our position? Then there are the devas, and the Supreme Isvara, Lord Shri Krishna.

We are never the doer, but have to be empowered to do any even simplest thing’what to speak of large accomplishments? We may appear great or devout to others and have influence, power, bhakti, wealth, education, good looks etc, yet as devotees we have to remember that whatever opulence or Krishna consciousness we have been blessed with are given to us for service, not for any selfish purpose. We are all on the path of realizing this fact: We are givers or servants, not takers or masters.

As it is said in the Christian tradition, ‘To whom much is given, much is expected.’ And for those of us living in America, Prabhupada told us something like, ‘What is the use of being American if you don’t do something wonderful.’ We could easily say that for all devotees. What is the use of being a devotee, unless we do something wonderful or become wonderful? Being wonderful means being a pure devotee imbued with Prema, or at least making steady progress in Bhakti and sharing what we have to our utmost capacity. The best use of our life energy is to chant Hare Krishna and engage in devotional service. We do our best and the results come by Krishna’s mercy.

So which Brahma are you?

Source: http://www.dandavats.com/?p=5089

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To Rochdale by Bhaktimarga Swami

8542772297?profile=RESIZE_400xI have a number of choices as to which direction to take when I step out the door for my night walk, that is if I don’t have a specific destination, such as picking up a donation for the temple at Subuddhi’s residence. Yes, she simply calls me and I fetch it at a given time.

So, there I stood at our Roxborough door entrance. Which way to turn? Enie meenie miney mo! Well, I don’t take that mantra too seriously. What really guided me, intuitively, at least this evening, was Avenue Road south.

Why?

One criterion which determines my direction is whether I want to be in the city lights or not and maybe find a few masked people (which is what most people are these days).

From there I went south on Avenue Road, crossed the corner at Avenue and Davenport and went down to Bloor, past the Music Conservatory, Rochdale and the old iconic statue, called “The Unknown Student.” The tragedy of the Rochdale project of the 60s has much to do with drugs. The building itself became known as the largest drug distribution warehouse in North America. Many deaths.

When I first joined the Hare Krishna mission in ‘73 several apartments on one floor were occupied by Krishna families. The rent was cheap and so was the drug culture. Krishna devotees play no part in that. Eventually the families left. I remember a group of us Krishnas coming from that floor after a brief chant and all the druggies as well as some students in the front of the building parted and gave way, out of reverence, I guess.

Source: http://thewalkingmonk.blogspot.com/2021/02/monday-february-1st-2021.html

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8538651297?profile=RESIZE_584xCompiled by Nartaka Gopala dasi

Our dear Godbrother Vishal Prabhu passed away in Sri Vrindavan Dham sometime around February 8, 2021. He was 82 years old, almost 83. Vishal Prabhu was a legendary distributor of Srila Prabhupada’s books. Above is a photo of how I remember Vishal the most: wearing not one, but two book bags, criss-crossed in front of his chest, and going out to distribute every single day for the last fifty three years, whether he was in the US or in India.

Another photo at ISKCON Miami of Vishal showing his watch that had been gifted to him by Srila Prabhupada and holding a photo of his beloved Guru Maharaja Srila Prabhupada wearing the same watch. If anyone knows that story about Mr. Dhumji Devji in Kenya, please comment. Vishal joined the movement in approximately 1968, and he was about thirty years old when he joined. He married Visalini devi and they had three daughters together, one of whom passed away in Vrindavan at a very young age. His two remaining girls are Krsnamayi and Vrinda.

There is one conversation in the series of books Conversations With Srila Prabhupada, where they were mentioning Vishal das and Prabhupada stated: “Vishal is a good boy.” On another occasion Vishal was chastised heavily by Prabhupada. Vishal got to go to Africa with Srila Prabhupada to preach. From there they went to Bombay. At the airport in Bombay the officials requested to see their yellow-fever inoculation cards. They did not have any so had to stay in Quarantine ten days. At that time Vishal asked Srila Prabhupada if there was anything he could do to help. Srila Prabhupada told him strongly, “What can you do? You speak nonsense!”

For the last 25 years of his life he lived half in Miami temple and half in Vrndavan. He was flying back and forth so much that I told him he should join the airlines points club to get free flights. He asked me to sign him up on Air France so I did. After a few months or so he got a free round trip ticket to Delhi. On that flight when he arrived in India they would not let him enter and informed him that he was blacklisted because of a previous offence of overstaying his visa there. He had to fly right back to America! This began an arduous period of five to seven years of Vishal striving to get a visa for India to go live in his beloved Vrindavan Dham. Finally after him suffering a lot, he was allowed to go back. Once that happened he pretty much stayed there for the rest of his life.

Vishalji was quite the character but he was totally surrendered to Srila Prabhupada and Lord Sri Krsna. We will miss him a lot but we are elated to see that he passed away “lying in the lap of Krsna” in the most holy Sri Vrndavan Dham.

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Mantra Murti devi: My Memories of Vishala prabhu who just passed away in Vrindaban: I remember Vishala prabhu in Miami since 1989. Every year, while he was in Miami, on his birthday we would make a birthday party for him. We would make a large quantity of gulub jammons, simply wonderfuls, cauliflower pakoras and cake. Sometimes he would buy ice cream and potato chips and ask me to offer them to Srila Prabhupada for him. When I brought him a big bowl of ice cream, he asked me if I also took some for myself. Every day he would go out and sell Srila Prabhupada’s books. When he would leave for sankirtan, quoting Srila Prabhupada, he would sing, “If you love me, distribute my books, books, books.” He once gave me a picture of Srila Prabhupada that he had won for distributing the most books at the Miami temple.

 Mridani Dasi : fortunately Vishala Prabhu, you had your last breath in Vrndavana. Have a glorious journey back home 

Matthew Puskar Goldman: He was born 2/18/38  his legal name was Harvey Dactor.

     Jaya Gouranga Das: May Lord Krishna bless our dear Godbrother Vishal Prabhu.  Vishal Prabhu always distributed Srila Prabhupada’s books very enthusiastically and with lots of determination. He was a very dear friend and Godbrother of mine, we spent quite a bit of time together in Vrindaban where I lived from 1976 to 1984. He was there at that time and we associated quite a bit. All glories to his service. How auspicious to leave his body in Vrindaban Dham. All glories to our Divine Eternal Father Srila Prabhupada.

HH Giriraj Swami : He was a great soul. We will certainly pray for him. Thank you for informing us.

Vishalini Foward: He was so attached to Vrindavana and distributing Srila Prabhupadas books. Leaving his body in Vrindavana exemplifies the quality of Krsnas mercy. Prayers that his soul finally make this journey in peace 

    Jyestha devi: Dear Vishal prabhu, you attained the perfection of your life by leaving your body in Sri Vrndavana Dhama! My thoughts and prayers are with Krsnamayi and Vrnda, your beautiful daughters.

    Lilanath das all Glories to Vishal Prabhu, my first encounter with him was in Vrindavan, he asked for a contribution for the Goshala. Years later in Miami he was in Coconout Grove Temple distributing Srila Prabhupada’s books. I hope Krsna will receive him in His abode.

     Samapriya Devi Dasi: Good for you Vishalji!! All Glories to Srila Prabhupada!! This life is tough but Krsna’s mercy is there for devotees who are totally dependent on Him.

Darwin Bothwik , Dwarakadish das:  I remember Vishal Prabhu when I lived in Vrndavan in the 70’s and early 80’s. I always remember his enthusiasm for distributing books. How auspicious to depart from Vrndavan. 

     Radhashyam Das: My dandavat pranam to Vishala das. I first met him at the opening of the Krishna Balaram temple in Vrindavan. He was always very friendly and I never saw him without a big bag of Prabhupada books on his shoulder. Later, he lived at the Miami temple and whenever he saw me he shouted out “RADHESHYAM” with a big smile. May his spiritual guardians bless him.

Moksha Laksmi devi: Journey well Vishal. You were such a determined book distributor. My best wishes for your daughters Vrinda and KrishnaMayi.

      Adishesa Das Adikhari: Our God brother Vishal das was the most sweet hearted personality and God brother.

Arcita Dasa: An ISKCON icon has departed! May Lord Krishna grant Vishal prabhu immediate and eternal shelter at His Lotus Feet! Hare Krishna!

Mahabhagavata Dasi: Hare Krishna. Journey on, dear Vishal Prabhu. Your struggles in this life have brought you to Vrindavan and Krishna’s Lotus Feet. Hari Bol.

Yuvati Dasi: That is a ripe old age for an Iskcon devotee, he was always quite spry, and he loved Srila prabhupada, maha prasad, and preaching, I hope he is enjoying the company of all his like-minded god brothers and associates who have gone before him, good wishes to him on his journey.

Dasaratha Suta das: Srila Prabhupada liked Vishal and told him, “Then I give you Vrindavan!”
 
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From Back to Godhead

Even in the most hopeless situations there is hope—when we turn to Lord Krishna.

“Can you please speak to my relatives,” a doctor friend requested me after a Sunday feast program in our temple. “Their youngest son died in an accident recently, and they are much traumatized.”

I agreed and went to meet the family in a corridor outside the temple hall. The father told me how the son had gone to a picnic with his friends and had drowned in a river. He was just eighteen. I listened sympathetically, and when they asked questions I offered answers I thought would give them hope in their painful situation. After half an hour, some of the family members seemed consoled, though the mother had been silently shedding incessant tears.

As we parted, my thoughts veered to another story I had heard. It, too, took place near a lake and was a sudden catastrophe that struck a family, but the attitude of the victim turned a life-threatening crisis upside-down.

Nightmare on an Excursion

Once a mighty elephant named Gajendra, the head of his heard, went to a lake to bathe with his many wives, children, and other members of the herd. Thoroughly refreshed by the cool, clear water, they sported by spraying water over each other with their trunks. When everyone was laughing and enjoying water sports in the crystal-clear lotus-filled lake, a crocodile suddenly attacked Gajendra and would not let go. The elephant, sure of his mighty strength, fought valiantly but could not free himself. Seeing him in that grave condition, his wives cried. The other elephants tried to rescue him by grasping him from behind, but because of the crocodile’s great strength, they could not succeed. The fight continued for a long time, slowly draining away the elephant’s strength.

The Inevitibility of Disaster

This story, which is not over yet, is narrated in the Srimad-Bhagvatam, which through many such narrations offers us valuable life lessons. Gajendra can represent anyone afflicted by misery. He was living what anyone would consider an ideal life—terrific power, presitige, and control, loving family and friends, and all the luxuries he could want. But now he found himself trapped in the jaws of a crocodile. Similarly, our world is full of agents of misery. They may not look as menacing as a crododile, but can cause just as much pain. They come in different forms, such as natural disasters, terrorist attacks, corruption, disease, and exploitation. These crocodiles are built into the world. We may feel safe now, but they are there, just a step away, waiting to clench their mighty jaws upon us. That is the world we live in.

We may feel that problems are indeed part of life and that we should fight them with courage and determination. But what is our usual strategy for crisis management? We pitch our personal strength, intelligence, and money, or garner support from friends, relatives, and political leaders. But sometimes all our support systems fail. Diseases, accidents, and terrorists don’t avoid the rich, the famous, or the beautiful.

Someday when all our support systems fail, then what? Whom will we turn to?

For the answer, let us go back to Gajendra.

Surrender to the Supreme

When Gajendra saw that he had no power to defend himself and that none of his friends, relatives, or wives could help him, he became extremely afraid of being killed. He thought for a long time and finally decided, “It is by the will of providence that I have been attacked by this crocodile, and therefore I shall seek shelter of the Supreme Personality of Godhead, who is always the shelter of everyone, even of great personalities.” ( Srimad-Bhagavatam 8.2.31-33)

Gajendra prayed from his heart, and soon God (Lord Narayana, Vishnu) manifested right before him. Despite his great pain, Gajendra took a lotus flower in his trunk and with great difficulty offered it to the Lord, who pulled both Gajendra and the crocodile out of the water. Then the Lord severed the crocodile’s head with His disc, thus saving Gajendra.

When faced with our own problems, we should consider applying Gajendra’s approach—he turned to God. We, too, can find the ultimate shelter. Krishna Himself might not come to us, but surely His help will.

A Creation of Calamities

We may feel reluctant to approach God for a solution, and we may want to just wait, either because life is comfortable or because we feel that the current tragedy will not last. But such inertia stems from ignorance of the powerful unseen dynamics that control this world.

The Vedic texts teach us that God creates the material world for us rebellious souls who have turned away from God to enjoy independent of Him. Being a loving father, He has created a place for us to enjoy to our hearts’ content. But He wants us to enjoy the best, and not just be happy with the imitation. Therefore, He has employed His representative, Durga Devi, the supervisor of material world, to gradually bring us to proper knowledge. Along with advice from scriptures and sages on how to transcend this world and go back to God, we have Durga Devi’s crocodiles biting us—to shake us out of our inertia and make us want to escape this miserable place.

The moment we come to the material world these crocodiles have us in their grips. Despite our best hopes and efforts, they won’t let go. We can break loose from the crocodile jaws of the material energy only when, like Gajendra, we totally humble ourselves, realizing that we are completely helpless, and then surrender to Krishna, the Supreme Lord.

We are not aware of our predicament. And even if we sometimes are, we think it will go away. But unless we surrender to Krishna, it won’t.

Krishna, Our Companion in the Darkest Times

In every situation, even the most extreme, Krishna is always there to help us. He never lets His devotee down. He is suhridam sarva-bhutanam: everyone’s best friend. He is right there within our hearts, just waiting to give us a completely blissful life. No matter what we do, no matter what we have done, Krishna never leaves us. Who could be a better friend? Birth after birth we have totally betrayed, blasphemed, and rejected Him, but He is still with us. His love is unconditional; He never leaves us. He is always waiting, always willing to give us a chance. At no time will Krishna not deliver us, if we just turn to Him, as Gajendra did.

We have to choose the Lord’s shelter moment after moment throughout our stay in the material world. At times when the crocodiles are not biting into our flesh, it is easy to forget Lord. Then our dormant desires to enjoy the illusion raise their heads again. We should learn from Gajendra in this regard. After being liberated, he was not thinking of enjoying again in this world. If that had been his desire, then Krishna would have left him here. Krishna would have said, “Oh! You want to enjoy here, but there is going to be another crocodile. You are not out of the real crocodile’s mouth.” But after Gajendra was freed from the crocodile, he didn’t want to do anything except serve the Lord, love the Lord. He was so grateful. Krishna saw that Gajendra had no material desire, that he had lost all faith in maya’s false promises in this world. Therefore, Krishna not only freed him from the crocodile, but He put him on an airplane and sent him directly to Vaikuntha, the spiritual world.

The Holy Names: The Only Hope

In this age the holy names of the Lord incarnate to liberate us from the crocodile jaws of the material energy and take us back home to the eternal world of the Supreme Personality of Godhead. So in the spirit of Gajendra, we should learn to surrender to the Lord with a humble and sincere heart—not tomorrow but today. Filled with the spirit of humility and grateful tolerance—whereby we offer all respects to others and expect none for ourselves—we can actually take shelter of the Lord. That’s the meaning of “surrender.” At a superficial level, “surrender” means doing what you are told. But deep-down surrender means to have the type of humility expressed by Lord Chaitanya: “My Lord, I am Yours. You can trample me, embrace me, or break my heart. Whatever situation You put me in, My Lord, I am Yours.” (Sikshashtaka 8)

The spirit of Gajendra and the lesson of Srimad-Bhagavatam are to welcome adversities and transform them into blessings by sincerely and intensely taking shelter of the holy names of the Lord. Material existence is designed to give us the optimum situation in which we can really, seriously, from our hearts cry out Krishna’s holy names, following in Gajendra’s footsteps. In every situation the crocodile of suffering and death is immanent. Supreme liberation is the rightful claim only for one who takes shelter of the Lord when difficulties come. When setbacks, intrusions, impediments, and disturbances come into our lives, we must welcome them with folded palms and grateful hearts, thinking, “I deserve worse, and this is only a token trouble given by Krishna.”

Krishna is inviting us into His eternal transcendental pastimes for total relief, shelter, and ecstatic joy. Our body will die—today, tomorrow, someday. If we can once take shelter of Krishna and sincerely cry out His holy names, we can be delivered. Therefore, all dangers are blessings from Krishna, helping us to cry out to Him.

Source: http://www.dandavats.com/?p=23682

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8538024276?profile=RESIZE_584xSri Mayapur Community hospital needs your help to start Operation Theatre services:

Dear Devotees,

Please accept the blessings of Sri Sri Radha Madhava and our humble obeisances at your lotus feet.

We are very grateful for your magnanimous support us during the COVID crisis. Through your encouragement help and support we were able to attend to the health care needs of more of almost 10,000 patients during the lockdown period even with the very basic set up we have here in Sri Mayapur.

However, one of the major deficiencies we are very acutely feeling now is the absence of a proper operation theatre which will help us perform many regular general surgical procedures for devotees and dhamvasis who are suffering as well as support our expectant mothers in community.

Right now for any of their surgical needs they are forced to go to Kolkata where treatment is time consuming and expensive. Due to COVID crisis devotees and dhamvasis are also financially challenged and they cannot afford such treatment.

We have two full time and experienced Gynaecologist our team who joined our team recently. Also there are other qualified general and ortho surgeons who are willing to come and perform surgeries in this area provided we have able to give them a good facility. This will tremendously help all the devotees and dhamvasis alike as they can get best care at an affordable cost locally.

Read more: https://www.mayapur.com/2021/sri-mayapur-community-hospital-needs-your-help/

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When I say “our street” I mean the one that we live on as well as the back alley that runs parallel to it and let’s not forget the street parallel to it and then the one also parallel but on the other side of the tracks. This was my route for the night; with snow and ice all over its surface.

It is awfully peaceful at the hour of 9 to 10 p.m. This is no doubt conducive to a soft chant rolling off the lips.

The quiet, combined with space, also lends itself to thoughts of the day’s affairs. To backtrack, at 11 a.m.  I heard teams of four in number reciting Bhagavad-Gita slokas (verses) over Zoom, by kids who are with GEL, Gita Ethics Learning. I was impressed with their sharpness of memory. I congratulated them. And then the questions rolled out. After their presentations I offered mine, after being introduced as a walker of lands. When questions do that — roll — you know there’s interest and curiosity. That’s life. Those kids are promising.

At noon I gave a class to Brampton folks on the topic, “How to Deal with the Winter Blues?” The message was on the same topic for Ottawa. Again, many questions came.

By the way, how do we see winter in a favorable light? Below are some winter dillies:

  • A snowflake is Winters version of a butterfly.
  • Cold hand, warm heart, can’t lose.
  • Eat, drink and be cozy.
  • From Bhagavad-Gita: “Happiness and distress are like winter and summer seasons. They arise from sense perception and one should tolerate them without being disturbed.” 2.14.

Source: http://thewalkingmonk.blogspot.com/2021/02/sunday-january-31-2021.html

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