ISKCON Derire Tree's Posts (12968)

The Art Of Heart by Achyut Gopal Das

Devotion means attention to details." - Radhanath Swami

As I was having my breakfast at our ISKCON-run restaurant at Vrindavan, I saw one lady chef cut a piece of cake, neatly place it on the center of the plate and wipe the excess cake markings very meticulously with a tissue paper. It was then served to the customer with a knife and fork. I very much appreciated the devotion this lady put in her job. No wonder, why people spend so much extra money in going to high-quality restaurants which not only focuses on the quality of the preparation but also on the quality of the presentation of the preparation. When "the giver" puts their heart in something, it is felt in the heart of "the receiver". Eating is not just an activity of filling one's belly and satisfying one's palate, it is also about satisfying one's heart.

I took a lesson from this incident. In life, we are all "givers" in some instances and "receivers" in some instances. As receivers, we all want to receive the best but very often in our role as givers, we don't give our best. We don't put our hearts fully into what we are giving God, giving others and giving society. We do a lousy job, shortcut job and try to get on to our main job of putting our heart in satisfying ourselves. Our philosophy is - best for ourselves and average for others. This is the life philosophy for the less evolved. The more evolved people believe in giving the best for others because they know that, that is the only way best comes to oneself. One cannot have the best crop if one's neighbors have the worst crop - one cannot be happy if one's neighbors are unhappy. By giving our best to others, we receive the best.

And doing our best and giving our best is not dependent on whether the job in hand is small or big. Giving one's best and doing one's best is an attitude. It should take hold in us and become part of our very nature. Then, life becomes beautiful. "Our job is not just to do our job- our job is to do our job well." Imagine, how God will feel if we put our heart in every Holy-name we chant and in every service we perform. He is also a person with feelings and emotions. He becomes pleased when someone offers and serves Him with love and devotion. Therefore, the most important art we need to master is the art of putting our heart in every art we do.
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By Giriraj Swami

Today is the disappearance day of Srila Gaurakisora dasa Babaji Maharaja. Srila Gaurakisora dasa Babaji was a great devotee - a maha-bhagavata. He was a disciple of Srila Bhaktivinoda Thakura and was very renounced. He had lived for many years in Vrindavan, roaming the twelve forests, chanting the holy names of Krishna, eating by begging alms, and sleeping under trees. Later, after Srila Bhaktivinoda Thakura discovered Lord Chaitanya’s birthplace in Mayapur, Srila Jagannatha dasa Babaji Maharaja, the siksa-guru of Bhaktivinoda Thakura and parama-guru of Gaurakisora dasa Babaji, instructed Gaurakisora to move to Navadvipa-dhama.

There Gaurakisora resided on the banks of the Ganges and practiced devotional service with intense devotion and renunciation. Because materialistic men would come and disturb him with their desires for mundane blessings (asirvada), the babaji began to stay by a municipal lavatory, where the filth and obnoxious smells would discourage unwanted visitors. There he would chant in peace—in ecstasy. He would beg alms and cook in discarded clay pots, or eat parched rice with green chilies, or just ingest Ganges mud. Sometimes he would collect the discarded cloth from the crematorium, wash it in Ganges water, and use it to cover himself. His only desire was to be absorbed in the mellow of the holy name—in Krishna consciousness.

Gaurakisora was a siksa disciple and intimate friend of Srila Bhaktivinoda Thakura. The Thakura arranged a bhajana-kutira for him on the same property as Bhaktivinoda Thakura’s house in Godruma-dvipa. When the time came for Srila Bhaktisiddhanta Sarasvati Thakura to take diksa, Srila Bhaktivinoda Thakura advised him to approach Srila Gaurakisora dasa Babaji Maharaja. Srila Bhaktivinoda Thakura was the father of Bhaktisiddhanta Sarasvati and his first instructor in the spiritual science, but the etiquette was that one would not take diksa from one’s biological father. So Srila Bhaktivinoda Thakura sent him to Gaurakisora dasa Babaji Maharaja.

Srila Bhaktisiddhanta Sarasvati Thakura was highly literate. By the age of seven, he had memorized the entire Bhagavad-gita and could even explain its verses. He had a photographic memory, and in school he read all the books in the entire library. Just by reading them once, he could remember every word, and so the library purchased new books just for him. By the age of twenty-five, he had written numerous articles and published a book, Surya-siddhanta, for which he was awarded the title “Siddhanta Sarasvati.” So, he was highly educated and literate, whereas Srila Gaurakisora dasa Babaji Maharaja was hardly educated or literate at all.

The first time Siddhanta Sarasvati approached Srila Gaurakisora dasa Babaji Maharaja, the babaji refused to accept him. He didn’t directly say no, but he said, “I will ask Mahaprabhu.” When Siddhanta Sarasvati returned and told his father what had happened, Srila Bhaktivinoda Thakura encouraged him to persevere: “You must go back and beg him with all humility and earnestness to accept you.” So, he went back, and Gaurakisora dasa Babaji again refused, saying, “Oh, I forgot to ask Mahaprabhu. I am so sorry.” When Siddhanta Sarasvati returned home, Srila Bhaktivinoda Thakura was most upset. He knew that Gaurakisora dasa Babaji was a pure devotee, and he urged Siddhanta Sarasvati to persist; he again instructed his son to beg Gaurakisora for his mercy, and he added, “If you fail this time, don’t bother to come back home.”

So, Siddhanta Sarasvati left the house and went to the Ganges. He felt so hopeless, he thought he might as well just drown himself in the river. Just then, Srila Gaurakisora dasa Babaji Maharaja appeared; he knew what was in his future disciple’s heart. Siddhanta Sarasvati just threw himself at the lotus feet of Srila Gaurakisora dasa Babaji in abject humility and complete surrender. Finally, Srila Gaurakisora dasa Babaji accepted him. Siddhanta Sarasvati had shown that he was free from any tinge of false pride even though he was so learned and literate and his guru was uneducated.

Srila Prabhupada remarked that Gaurakisora dasa Babaji was illiterate and could not even sign his name, yet he became the spiritual master of Sarasvati Thakura, the best scholar of his time. And thus he proved the statement of the Vedas:

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

“Only unto those great souls who have implicit faith in both the Lord and the spiritual master are all the imports of Vedic knowledge automatically revealed.” (Svetasvatara Upanisad 6.23)

Although Gaurakisora dasa Babaji was hardly educated or literate, learned scholars and public servants would approach him with their questions on Srimad-Bhagavatam and other shastras, and, with his realized knowledge, he would answer their questions to their full satisfaction. Sometimes devotees would read various scriptures for him and he would comment on them from his deep spiritual realization.

Still, out of his great humility, Srila Gaurakisora dasa Babaji Maharaja refused to accept any disciples; Srila Bhaktisiddhanta Sarasvati Thakura was the only exception.

Gaurakisora dasa Babaji enjoined Bhaktisiddhanta Sarasvati never to go to Calcutta, which he considered “a bastion of Kali-yuga.” So Bhaktisiddhanta Sarasvati remained in Mayapur. In 1905 he took a vow to chant the Hare Krishna mantra a billion times. Residing in a grass hut near the birthplace of Lord Chaitanya, he chanted the Hare Krishna mantra day and night. He cooked rice once a day in an earthen pot (or just parched the rice in the sun) and ate nothing more. He slept on the ground, and when the rainwater leaked through the grass ceiling, he sat beneath an umbrella, chanting. Locked in a small room, he chanted japa day and night, day after day, month after month, year after year. Finally, when he had completed his quota, he felt that he was ready to come out and preach. And to preach he went to Calcutta.

In a talk at the Ardha-kumbha-mela in Allahabad, Srila Prabhupada raised the point that Srila Gaurakisora dasa Babaji had instructed Bhaktisiddhanta Sarasvati never to go to Calcutta but that everyone knows he went to Calcutta. So, Srila Prabhupada questioned whether Bhaktisiddhanta Sarasvati had disobeyed the orders of his spiritual master. “No!” Srila Prabhupada declared. “He was never in Calcutta; he was always in Vaikuntha!”

So, we pray to Srila Gaurakisora dasa Babaji:

namo gaura-kisoraya
  padambhujaya te namah

He is saksad-vairagya-murtaye, the personification of renunciation (vairagya); and vipralambha-rasambodhe, always merged in the ocean of the mellow of separation from Krishna (vipralambha-rasa). Padambhujaya te namah: “I offer my respectful obeisances unto his lotus feet.”

That was the mood of Srila Gaurakisora dasa Babaji Maharaja: he was always merged in that nectarean ocean of devotion in separation, and he had no care for his body or for anything material—just hari-nama.

He wrote a beautiful song that is completely in the mood of Raghunatha dasa Gosvami. It is said that of the Six Gosvamis, Raghunatha dasa was the most attached to the service of Srimati Radharani—that he had the most intense desire to serve Srimati Radharani—and Gaurakisora dasa Babaji wrote a beautiful song in that mood. He begins with a refrain: kotai go premamayi, radhe radhe, radhe radhe—“Where is Radha, so full of love? Radhe, Radhe, Radhe, Radhe!” Then he proceeds to express the mood of Raghunatha dasa Gosvami in separation from Radharani, desiring and aspiring for Her service.

When Srila Gaurakisora dasa Babaji Maharaja left this world, there was some dispute over what would happen to his body. His samadhi would of course become an important place of pilgrimage, and some of the heads of the local Vaishnava centers saw this as an opportunity to raise money—for their mathas and even for their own sense gratification. Srila Bhaktisiddhanta Sarasvati ran to the site, but when he arrived, some of the local babajis objected: “He is not a sannyasi; how can he give samadhi to such an exalted and renounced personality?” But Srila Bhaktisiddhanta Sarasvati responded forcefully: “I am the only disciple of Babaji Maharaja, and although I have not accepted sannyasa, I am a celibate brahmachari, not secretly addicted to abominable habits or involved with illicit activities. Who among you can say that in the last year he had no sex or illicit contact with a woman? Please step forward.” Everyone was silent. Then he challenged, “Who has refrained for the last six months?” Everyone was silent. Next, “For the last three months?” Again, silence. “For the last one month?” Silence. “The last three days?” Still silence. They had been exposed and humbled. Not one of the babajis was fit to even touch the transcendental form of Srila Gaurakisora dasa Babaji Maharaja, and one by one they walked away.

Even then there remained some question about how to handle the body, which was still lying on the ground. Out of his great humility, Srila Gaurakisora dasa Babaji Maharaja had instructed that when he departed, his body should be dragged through the streets of Navadvipa so that it would be bathed in the dust from the feet of the Vaishnavas who had walked the holy ground of the dhama. So, some of the townspeople proposed to take the body and drag it through the streets of Navadvipa. Such fools! Such rascals! But Bhaktisiddhanta Sarasvati Thakura stopped them. “Although we are fools and offenders,” he said, “still we can try to understand the true meaning of Babaji Maharaja’s humble request. After the departure of Thakura Haridasa, Lord Chaitanya Himself took the spiritually blissful body of the Thakura on His lap and danced. Following the divine example of Mahaprabhu, let us also bear Babaji Maharaja’s blissful body on our own heads.”

So, Srila Bhaktisiddhanta Sarasvati took charge of the body and placed it in samadhi on the western side of the Ganges, across from Mayapur. In time, the river’s course changed and its waters threatened the area of the samadhi. So Srila Bhaktisiddhanta brought the samadhi to Mayapur, to his matha. There he had created a replica of Vrindavan, with tamala trees and kadamba trees, with Syama-kunda and Radha-kunda, and with a small Govardhana Hill made of govardhana-silas. Most appropriately, he placed the new samadhi by the side of Radha-kunda, and that is where the transcendental remains of Srila Gaurakisora dasa Babaji still rest today. One can go there and pray to him and feel his presence and get his mercy.

Srila Gaurakisora dasa Babaji Maharaja is an ocean of mercy (all pure Vaishnavas are). I pray that he will help me to chant the holy name, to chant with taste. When I prayed to him earlier—and this may just be my speculation—I imagined that he said, “You must give up your offenses.” Then I was thinking, “What offenses?” And then I imagined that he answered, “You must chant with attention.”

Of course, Srila Bhaktivinoda Thakura does state that inattentive chanting is the root of all other offenses and that, conversely, attentive chanting will destroy all the other offenses. “But how do I do that?” I asked. And the answer came: “You must try. You just have to make the effort.” And I suppose that is always the process—that we make our honest effort and depend on the mercy of the acharyas and Krishna.

In my case, however, my chanting sometimes becomes such a routine that I do not even make the effort to hear every word or every mantra. I just do it. I just go through the motions. So, I guess that is my challenge, my special order—to chant with attention.

Devotees often raise the question of chanting with quality. When on a morning walk a disciple asked Srila Prabhupada, “How can we chant with quality?” Prabhupada replied, “The quality will come. For now, just chant as a matter of duty; chant your sixteen rounds. When the quality comes, there will be no force. You will have taste, and spontaneously you will desire, ‘Why sixteen rounds? Why not sixteen thousand rounds?’ Rupa Gosvami desired, ‘How shall I chant with one tongue and hear with two ears? Had I billions of tongues and trillions of ears, then I could relish chanting.’ ”

Srila Prabhupada said that quality means asakti, attachment, and that Chaitanya Mahaprabhu showed this quality: “Sunyayitam jagat sarvam govinda-virahena me: ‘Oh, I do not see Govinda. The whole world is vacant.’ Sunyayitam jagat sarvam govinda-virahena me. This is quality.” When one feels viraha-bhava, when one feels separation from Radha and Krishna, one is chanting with quality.

 Srila Gaurakisora dasa Babaji is an ocean of mercy, and we pray for his grace.

Hare Krishna.

[A talk by Giriraj Swami on Gaurakisora dasa Babaji’s disappearance day, November 22, 2004, Dallas]


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Srila Gaura-Kisora Dasa Babaji




Srila Gaura-Kisora dasa Babaji is the spiritual master of Bhaktisiddhanta Sarasvati Thakura. He was born in a vaisya family in a small village beside Padma River in Bangladesh. Following his father, he earned his livelihood by selling grains. He was devotionally inclined from childhood and spent many hours singing bhajans and hearing Krishna-katha. He was married very young but when his wife died in 1849, he immediately left home and went to Vrindavan. For the next 30 years he lived in Vrindavan wandering around the forests and pastime places of Srimati Radharani and Lord Sri Krishna while absorbed in chanting Holy Names:



He would lie prostrate, offering his humble obeisances to the residents of Vraja, considering them as embodiments of Lord Krishna. During this time he took Babaji initiation from Bhagavata dasa, a disciple of Srila Jagannatha dasa Babaji.

Srila Gaura-Kisora dasa Babaji was a renunciation personified. He chanted 200,000 names of Lord each day and stayed in isolated places, eating only what would come of its own accord and sleeping wherever he found himself at night time. He had very few possessions: Tulasi-mala (Tulasi beads) around his neck; another Tulasi-mala on which he chanted; and a few books such as Narottama Dasa Thakura’s Prarthana and Prema Bhakti Chandrika. He refused service from anyone and would not let anyone serve him, though many tried. In 1894, he heard that Lord Caitanya’s birthplace has been discovered and so he came to Navadvipa-Mayapur Dhama, knowing the two Dhamas are non-different.

In Navadvipa-Mayapur, he again wandered around the places of the Lord’s pastimes absorbed in ecstasy of separation. His renunciation was intense and genuine. He would dress himself in the discarded cloth used to dress corpses, beg rice from householders, and cook with discarded earthen pots. He would dance on the banks of the Ganges chanting the Holy Names of Krishna; at other times he would lie on the ground unconscious. Others tried to imitate Gaura-Kisora dasa Babaji’s renunciation wanting to gain fame for themselves, but they all fell away into disgrace.

In 1908 Srila Gaura Kisora Dasa Babaji lost his sight. He refused attempts to take him to an eye specialist, preferring instead to chant and worship Lord Krishna. He stopped travelling at this point. He would sit in his bhajana-kutir deeply absorbed in Krishna’s pastimes.


Srila Gaura Kisora Dasa Babaji encountered many disturbances to his Hari-bhajana from the materialists who sought benedictions from him. They all received heavy instructions from Babaji, but very few were able to understand that these instructions were actually for their eternal benefit.

One time Babaji Maharaj arrived at the house of Srila Bhaktivinoda Thakura dressed in very expensive clothes. When asked about this, he explained people would think he is bogus and so not come to him for benedictions.

At other times he sat on the porch of a prostitute’s house to avoid people, and lived under an upturned boat hoping no one would find him there.

During the last 6 months of his life, he resided in an abandoned latrine (converted into a room) in a dharmasala to avoid the materialists and concentrate on chanting the Holy Names: HARE KRISHNA HARE KRISHNA KRISHNA KRISHNA HARE HARE / HARE RAMA HARE RAMA RAMA RAMA HARE HARE . He left this world at this dharmasala on 19 November 1915 on Utthana Ekadasi, at the end of the Kartika vrata.











at Godrumadvipa, Navadvipa-Mayapur


On 19 November 1915, on Utthana Ekadasi in the Kartika-vrata, Srila GauraKisora dasa Babaji re-entered into his eternal loving pastimes with the Supreme Lord Sri Krishna. After Srila Bhaktisiddhanta Sarasvati Thakura had heard of his disappearance, he went to the place where Srila Gaura-Kisora lived. At that time different persons from different temples in the area began to fiercely argued to claim the spiritual body of Srila Babaji. But Srila Bhaktisiddhanta Sarasvati Thakura obstructed them from doing so. The inspector of the police of Navadvipa arrived at the scene.

Srila Bhaktisiddhanta in a voice as deep as thunder said, “I am the only disciple of Paramahamsa Babaji Maharaja. Even though I have not accepted sannyasa, I am a celibate brahmacari and by the grace of Babaji Maharaja I am not secretly addicted to abominable habits or involved in fornication as some monkey-like people are. If there is someone amongst the people here present who is a renunciate of stainless character, then he can have Babaji Maharaja’s samadhi. We have no objection to that. He, who within the last year, or the last six months, three months, one month or at least within the last three days, has not had illicit connection with a woman will be able to touch this spiritual blissful body. If anyone else touches it he will be completely ruined. ”

Hearing this, the superintendent of police said, “How is it that he can prove this?”

Srila Bhaktisiddhanta Thakura replied, “I have faith in their word“.

At this, one-by-one all the bogus babajis slipped away without a word. Srila Bhaktisiddhanta Sarasvati then claimed the samadhi.

After this, several persons approached Srila Bhaktisiddhanta Sarasvati Thakura and said, “Before Srila Gaura-Kisora disappeared, he requested that his body be bound with ropes and be dragged through the streets of Navadvipa Dhama, and thus, be bathed in the dust of the Dhama. Therefore, we should follow these instructions of Srila Babaji Maharaja .”

Then Srila Bhaktisiddhanta Sarasvati Thakura spoke up and said, “My spiritual master, on whose shoulders reside the Supreme Lord Krishnacandra, has said this in a very, very deep mood of humility in order to destroy the pride of those persons who are opposing the Supreme Lord. Even though we are inexperienced, foolish and offensive, still, I will not let his instruction be misinterpreted. Sri Caitanya Mahaprabhu took the spiritual body of Srila Haridasa Thakura, when he disappeared, on His lap and began to dance. Just see how his glories have been described. So therefore, we are also following in the footsteps of Lord Caitanya. Place the transcendental body of Srila Gaura-Kisora above our heads.”

According to the regulations from the Samakara Dipika, Srila Bhaktisiddhanta Sarasvati Thakura with his own hands prepared the samadhi of his spiritual master. His Samadhi was on the western bank of the Ganga in Kuliyagrama at the place called Mutanchada in the present town of Navadvipa. Later on, by the desire of Srila Gaura Kisora dasa Babaji, the place of his samadhi gradually became engulfed by the changing current of the Ganga. When the samadhi was within very close proximity to Ganga Devi, in 1932, his samadhi was moved under the instructions of Srila Bhaktisiddhanta Sarasvati Thakura, from that place to a place in Sri Mayapur Dhama where the Caitanya Math is presently situated. Next to Sri Sri Gandharvika-Giridhari Temple inside the Sri Caitanya Math campus is the Srila Gaura-Kisora Dasa Babaji’s samadhi temple.

Directions to Srila Gaura-Kisora Dasa Babaji Samadhi:

#1) Srila Gaura-Kisora dasa Babaji’s samadhi is at Sri Caitanya Math on Bhaktisiddhanta Sarasvati Marg, which is about 3kms from ISKCON Sri Mayapur Candrodaya Temple or half km from Srivasa Angan (the house of Srivasa Pandita).

#2) Sri Caitanya Math is a stopover during “Navadvipa-Mandala Parikrama” which is organized every year about 2 weeks before Guara-Purnima Festival at Sridham Mayapur. One can visit this transcendental place by attending Navadvipa-Mandala Parikrama.

Sri Caitanya Math – The Forest of Vrindavana in Mayapur:


Live Video from Sri Sri Krishna-Balaram Temple Vrindavana:




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Science and Krishna Consciousness


Krishna Kripa Das: [Drutakarma Prabhu read a paper about how to position oneself as a scientist and as a devotee in which he asked a lot of relevant questions. I asked him for the paper, and I insert it here:]

“Science and Krishna Consciousness: Questions on How to Position Oneself”

For anyone seeking to engage with modern science as a devotee of Krishna, specifically as a member of the International Society for Krishna Consciousness, the question of positioning becomes important.

1. What is my actual identity, and how do I position myself publicly in relationship to it?

A practitioner of Krishna consciousness ultimately identifies as a jiva, an eternal conscious self, whose constitutional position is to render loving service to the supreme conscious self, Krishna. But practitioners of Krishna consciousness now find themselves in the world of matter, which covers but also reveals Krishna. The Srimad-Bhagavatam recommends that as a first step practitioners of Krishna consciousness may learn to perceive the world of matter as a feature of the virat rupa, the universal form of Krishna. Material scientists also try to understand the world of matter but in terms of atheistic views, or views that acknowledge God only as the initiator of the world of matter, which then continues to function as if there were no God.

So how does a practitioner of Krishna consciousness position himself in relation to science and scientists? Is the practitioner positioning himself professionally in a secular educational institution or scientific institution? If so, does the practitioner publicly identify himself as such? If one does identify oneself as a practitioner, then how does one position oneself to colleagues. Does one maintain a complete separation between one’s practice of Krishna consciousness and one’s practice of science? Does one keep one’s Krishna consciousness as a matter of private belief, which does not intersect or interfere with one’s practice of science? Does one’s sharing of one’s Krishna consciousness with one’s scientific colleagues extend no further than explaining cultural elements of one’s practices to those who express curiosity about them? Or does one try to introduce elements of the worldview of Krishna consciousness into one’s practice of science? If one does this, how does one position oneself? Does one think, “I am primarily a scientist, just like all other scientists, but I also just happen to be a practitioner of Krishna consciousness”? Or does one think, “I am primarily a practitioner of Krishna consciousness, who happens to be a scientist”? Perhaps if one is situated in a secular educational or scientific institution, one is more likely to adopt the former positioning. If a devotee is situated in an educational or scientific institution that is part of the society of practitioners of Krishna consciousness, one may be more likely to adopt the latter positioning. Should one go so far as to position oneself as a member of another knowledge tradition engaged in dialogue with the knowledge tradition of contemporary secular science? Whatever the case one has to position oneself in terms of one’s actual intellectual center of gravity.

These preliminary questions on positioning lead to other questions.

2. How does a practitioner of Krishna consciousness interested in science position himself in relation to the traditional system of Vedic epistemology? A brief summary of this epistemology involves three pramanas, or sources of knowledge: pratyaksa (sense perception), anumana (logical inference), and sabda (verbal testimony, specifically, the statements of sastra). Modern secular science is based primarily on pratyaksa and anumana, which are limited and imperfect. The statements of sastra, properly understood, are taken as expressions of truth. I am here giving a basic simple understanding. There are of course many nuances and subtleties. But the point is that a devotee interested in science will have to position himself or herself in relationship to this basic epistemology, especially when it involves apparent contradictions between the provisional conclusions of modern secular science and the statements of sastra.

Here one has to also position oneself in relation to traditional Vaishnava hermeneutical principles for understanding the statements of sastra. The default position is to take the direct, dictionary meaning of the words (the mukhya vrtti) rather than taking secondary meanings or indirect interpretations. Again there are nuances and subtleties, but whatever the case, one will have to define one’s position in relation to these hermeneutical principles.

3. How does a practitioner of Krishna consciousness interested in science position himself or herself in relation to the core texts of the Krishna consciousness movement, such as the Srimad-Bhagavatam? This question is of course related to the epistemological and hermeneutical questions just mentioned. Practitioners of Krishna consciousness generally accept the statements of sastra as evidence, a valid source of knowledge about this world as well as the spiritual world. Modern secular science does not. One approach might be to position oneself as a scientist and, while making no explicit mention of sastra, do research that results in findings that are in fact consistent with sastra, without mentioning sastra. Or one could openly position oneself as an advocate of the Vedic worldview as a source of true knowledge about the observable world, and propose that the findings of scientific research, properly understood, are consistent with the Vedic worldview, which should encourage respect for and faith in the Vedic literature. One way to accomplish this, while respecting the position of secular science that scripture is not evidence, is to propose: “If what the Vedic literature says is true, then we should expect to see X.” And then show we do see X. Another option, which I personally do not favor, is that we adjust our reading of sastra to conform to the current consensus in secular science. My main point is that one has to position oneself in this regard.

4. How does the practitioner of Krishna consciousness interested in science position himself in relationship to Srila Prabhupada and his statements about science? Any member of the International Society for Krishna Consciousness, whether a professional scientist or a devotee interested in science, has to position himself in relation to Srila Prabhupada in this regard. Ideally, this should be done taking into account the full range of Srila Prabhupada’s statements about science and scientists. Some of his statements were more positive, some more negative. It would be incorrect to take the more negative statements as representative of his whole point of view, just as it would be incorrect to take his more positive and conciliatory states as representative of his whole point of view. I believe it is possible to formulate a coherent overall picture. But the main thing is that one will have to position oneself in relation to some realistic depiction of Srila Prabhupada’s views on science. Some of us will be doing this as direct disciples of Srila Prabhupada and others as granddisciples.

5. How does the practitioner of Krishna consciousness interested in science position himself in relationship to the previous acaryas? What do we do in cases where there appears to be some contradiction between the statements made by Srila Prabhupada about science and those made by another acarya? The default position for a member of ISKCON is to defer to Srila Prabhupada. In any case, the point is that one will have to position oneself in this regard. Ideally, the decision will be made based on a truly comprehensive understanding of both the statements of Srila Prabhupada and those of the previous acaryas.

6. How does a member of ISKCON interested in science position himself in relation to other members of ISKCON who have previously made contributions to science and Krishna consciousness? How can previous contributions be fairly evaluated, how can there be building on foundations without blind following or imitation, how can there be respectful correction of mistakes, identification of shortcomings, or expressions of disagreement? Similar questions arise in the positioning of the older contributors in relation to the newer contributors. How can the new contributions be properly evaluated, so that new contributions that may differ from older ones are not rejected just for that reason alone, and not for any actual shortcomings?

7. How does a member of ISKCON seriously interested in science position himself in relationship to the existing science groups and organizations in ISKCON the various Bhaktivedanta Institute branches, other organizations for science and Krishna consciousness? Is one already a member of one of these institutes or groups? If so, how should your group relate to the others? Should there be more unity? Should there be more diversity? Or perhaps one chooses to remain independent of any group.

8. How does a member of ISKCON seriously involved in science position himself in relationship to ISKCON as a whole? This of course will depend on the other positioning decisions one has made. For example, has one positioned oneself as a member of an ISKCON science group? Or is one independent? Whatever the case, the question of the position of science within ISKCON arises. To what extent should efforts related to science be supported by ISKCON, including financially? What priority did science have in Srila Prabhupada’s strategic vision for ISKCON?

9. Getting back to questions related to individual efforts, it seems a member of ISKCON seriously involved in science must ask, “What do I personally want to accomplish? What aspect of the Vedic worldview would I like to see introduced into the world of science? And how exactly am I going to do that? Who will my audience be, and how do I intend to reach that audience?” The question of audience is important. Will my audience be professional secular scientists? Will my audience be devotee scientists? Will my audience be the general public? Or all three. And again one has to consider positioning. Do I position myself as an independent researcher and make all these decisions on my own, or do I consult others or make such decisions collectively as part of a group, or even take direction from someone?

I can give answers to all these questions, recognizing that others may answer them in a different way. But are these the right questions?

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By Praghosa Dasa

A common denominator for practically each of the unlimited varieties of material bodies is that the spirit soul dwelling within is to one degree or another attached to the particular body they reside in.

In turn most resided in bodies have others who are also attached to them, generally family members, or what Srila Prabhupada often referred to as ‘skin disease’. He specifically used this term to describe excessive attachment to family members which leads to increased illusion and the bizarre hope that one thinks they are able to save other family members from death – an impossible dream:

“One is often attached to family life, namely to wife, children and other members, on the basis of “skin disease.” The krpana thinks that he is able to protect his family members from death; or the krpanaa thinks that his family or society can save him from the verge of death. Such family attachment can be found even in the lower animals, who take care of children also.” BG 2.7 Purport

As devotees we are well aware that no matter how attached anyone is, to any particular body, it doesn’t matter, death of the body is inevitable. As Maharaja Yudhisthira famously commented when asked what most amazed him in this material world:

ahany ahani bhutani gacchantiha yamalayam
sesah sthavaram icchanti kim ascaryam atah param

“Day after day countless living entities in this world go to the kingdom of death. Still, those who remain aspire for a permanent situation here. What could be more amazing than this?” MB (Vana-parva 313.116)

These above words were spoken 5000 years ago but still they ring as true today as they did then. I guess our refusal to accept the impending reality of death can be put down to a couple of different factors, not least the intense attachment we all have to our body. It is surely fascinating that no-one (or practically no-one), will seriously argue that the body will live forever. In that sense we all do accept that the body dies but unfortunately that acceptance doesn’t translate into the required urgency to make sure this impending death is our last one:

Those who are actually advancing in spiritual life, they should always keep in front that “We may advance in so many things, but these four things—birth, death, old age, and disease —cannot be solved by our so-called material advancement of science.” SBL December 16th 1970

I remember reading about a certain South American dictator who flew his opponents out to the middle of the ocean and then threw them out – falling to their death. While no doubt their experience was traumatic, it would more than have focused the minds of those descending to their death. The reality is that we are all falling to our death but most of us do not identify with the urgency that Pinochet’s victims experienced.

This of course also applies, in different measures, to devotees, and there is little doubt that the more we advance in spiritual life, the more and more reluctant we will be to waste even a moment of our time away from serving Krishna:

The greatest loss in life is passing time without understanding Krishna. Every moment of our lives should be utilized properly, and the proper use of life is to increase devotional service to the Lord. Without devotional service to the Lord, the activities of life become simply a waste of time. SB 4.27.3 Purport

Another reason is simply fear, as conditioned souls we are pretty expert at avoiding those things that we fear and there is little doubt that there is nothing that generates greater fear in us than death and rebirth. The fear of death or thanatophobia as it is quaintly named is surely the mother of all fears. In Greek thanatos means death. Thanatos was also a ‘mythological’ figure who interestingly had the following siblings – Geras (Old Age), Oizys (Suffering), Moros (Doom), Apate (Deception), Momos (Blame), Eris (Strife), and Nemesis (Retribution). We just need to add birth and we have the full set (given that Oizys/suffering qualifies as disease). Whatever the reason, death is a major issue for all of us, even if we want to blank it out. I recall one interviewer, who in his innocence, came to the temple to report a story for his media outlet. Unbeknown to him Srila Prabhupada, as ever, had other ideas and immediately began preaching to him. During that exchange Srila Prabhupada made the following point:

Interviewer: “Ah, my spiritual ness is strongly absent from my own person. I…”

Prabhupada: “How? Why do you say absent? You are talking.”

Interviewer: “Well, in the sense that I, I look beyond who I am now, I don’t look very far. At this point in my life, I haven’t made the decision that I need to look.”

Prabhupada: “You may decision or not decision, there are two things. There are two things. One is your body and the other, the living force which is moving your body. There is no question of decision; it is already decided.” Interview June 10th 1976

So whether we face death or try to put it on the back burner, it really doesn’t matter as death isn’t going away and we will have to deal with it, or it will deal with us accordingly.

Another interesting aspect of death is that it can strike indiscriminately. Old/Young, Sick/Healthy, Man/Woman, Rich/Poor etc. padam padam yad vipadam.

Of course we tend to be more horrified when a young, healthy person dies as opposed to an old sick person. That of course is somewhat natural but it is interesting to note that both young and old have so much in common. One thing that they don’t always share is that only very close family and friends tend to love an elderly infirm person, whereas the vast majority of people are enamoured by babies. Again this is somewhat understandable as babies are naturally so cute and loveable. While this is very true it strangely cannot be denied that both old and young have so much in common, particularly if the old person is suffering from some kind of dementia.

baby walkers / zimmer frames
nappies / incontinence Pads
baby food / liquidized food
baby speak / rambling
baby bath / bathing chair
play with them / entertain – humour them
educate them / re-educate them
watch them / oversee them
coax them to sleep / make sure they’re asleep

One thing the old and young do not have in common is their enthusiasm for birthdays. As we get older we tend to wish our birthdays would take longer and longer to come around. Whereas young children are hilarious in as far as wanting their birthdays to come around as quickly as possible. I saw a mother and child the other day having the following conversation:

4/5 year old child; “Mummy how many weeks is March away”

Mother “Your birthday is 5 weeks away dear”

Another fascinating thing is that it is so hard to tell the difference between a male and female baby (assuming both have a nappy on). It is equally difficult to tell the difference between an elderly male and female if they have no hair. In that sense both at birth and death this body that we are so attached to – becomes increasingly androgynous.

Androgyny is a term derived yet again from Greek, avrip (aner, meaning man) and yuvn (gyne, meaning woman)

So both from a material and spiritual point of view this body has little to offer unless it is exclusively engaged in the service of spirit. As devotees we know this reality (even if we don’t always act in full realization of it), therefore we should strive to do all we can to offer protection, shelter, compassion and love to all, even if they are resistant to our approaches.

After all it is only those who know the realities of death [the illusion that is death] who can reveal the secret of eternal life.

“The living entity is eternal. Thus he has neither birth nor death (na hanyate hanyamane sarire [Bg. 2.20]). According to the reactions of one’s fruitive activities, one takes birth in various species of life among the birds, beasts, trees, human beings, demigods and so on, thus rotating through various bodies. For a certain period of time, one receives a particular type of body as a son or father in a false relationship. All our relationships in this material world with friends, relatives or enemies consist of duality, in which one feels happy and distressed on the basis of illusion. The living entity is actually a spiritual soul who is part and parcel of God and has nothing to do with relationships in the world of duality. Therefore Narada Muni advised Citraketu not to lament for his so-called dead son” SB 6.16 Summary

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Healing by Purnacandra Goswami


The following is an excerpt from Purnacandra Goswami’s “Unspoken Obstacles on the Path to Bhakti”

Thrown from the Horse

Have you ever experienced an emotion rearing its head and throwing you? I was thrown off a horse at the age of twelve. I was winded and desperately gasped for air.

My riding teacher told me, “Get back on and try again.”

I could hardly breathe and thought, “No way!”

He continued with firm conviction, “If you don’t get back on now, you’ll never ride a horse again.”

Sensing the wisdom of his statement, I gathered courage, climbed back up and rode the horse without a problem. The same principle applies to dealing with emotions guilt, anger, envy, lamentation, fear or depression. If we are thrown for a loop, we must get up and try again. It may be difficult at the time, but it gets easier as you do it and almost impossible if you don’t.

Let’s consider what happens when devotees sometimes fall from grace and become guilt ridden. They may self-flagellate, thinking this a necessary ritual to get back in good graces with the Lord. They may wallow in lamentation, taking shelter of tamo-guna. Or they may become defensive and try to passionately bolster their self-worth with a brazen front, which leads to self-deception.

I have been with devotees in such states, and often their problem is insecurity. Strengthening a devotee’s feeling of self-worth is important in bringing him back to a position where he can try again. Acceptance plays a major role in this endeavor although it is the subtlest element involved. The devotee must feel accepted and not in a condescending way. Since the material energy is so strong, many sadhakas will slip on the path and need friendship, understanding and encouragement to continue.

There are additional points about falling from grace and a devotee’s response to it. yadi kuryat pramadena yogi karma vigarhitam yogenaiva dahed amho nanyat tatra kadacana

“If, because of momentary inattention, a yogi accidentally commits an abominable activity, then by the very practice of yoga he should burn to ashes the sinful reaction, without at any time employing any other procedure.” (Bhag. 11.20.25)

The word yogena here refers to jnana-yoga and bhakti-yoga, since they both have the power to burn karma to ashes. The word amhas or “sin” refers to an accidental falldown against one’s desire. Premeditated misuse of the Lord’s mercy is much more serious. The Lord prohibits any extraneous purificatory rituals, since the yoga systems are themselves the most purifying processes, especially bhakti-yoga. If one gives up one’s regular devotional practices to perform a special ritual or penance, trying to purify a sinful reaction, one may become guilty of the additional fault of considering karma superior to bhakti. One should pick oneself up from an accidental falldown and go on enthusiastically with one’s devotional duties without being discouraged. Still, one should regret; otherwise, there will be no purification. If, however, one becomes overly depressed about an accidental falldown, one will not have the enthusiasm to continue on the devotional path.


We have explored some forms of misguided ethos or dysfunctional dynamics in our Society. Over many years, these dynamics have been ushered in by past leaders, although the leaders were well- intentioned and faithful to Srila Prabhupada. An ethos that hampers the free flow of devotion has crept in. We cannot blame one person nor can we consider such leaders condemned by the Lord since He accepts only a devotee’s sincerity and positive contributions. Still, the mistaken moods, ideas and dealings must be clearly understood and rooted out, at least within oneself. One could also avoid persons who espouse or exhibit such unhealthy, obstructive ideas. There is no need to go on a witch-hunt or become angry or bitter. Such strong negative emotions would needlessly damage one. What’s done is done. If we consider deeply, it is quite possible that you or I could have done the same or worse.

Here is an interesting statement by Srila Prabhupada’s Godbrother, Sripada B.R. Sridhara Maharaja on this theme; it is philosophically deep and also healing for those who have been jostled and bruised while trying to surrender to Mahaprabhu’s mission within any organization. “On the whole, we must think that no blame is to be put on others, and it is actually true. We are responsible for our disgrace, our fallen condition. And the path to self-improvement is also similar: we must learn to critique ourselves and appreciate the environment. Our appreciation should especially be for Krsna and His devotees, and then gradually everyone else. He has not given anyone the authority to harm us. If it appears that way, it is only superficial and misleading. That anyone can do harm to anyone else is misleading. It is only true on the superficial plane. Of course, this does not condone harming others or ignoring oppression, but from the absolute standpoint there is no harm. When we reach the highest stage of devotion, we shall see that everything is friendly and that our apprehension was wrong. It was a misconception.” (Loving Search for the Lost Servant pp. 21–22)

Srila Prabhupada had to face many problems in the beginning while establishing ISKCON. He began with nothing and had to deal with all the immaturity, madness and fighting of thousands of neophyte devotees. His tolerance was incredible. Here is an important explanation, taken from a letter he wrote to Atreya Rsi Dasa back in February 1972:

“It is not so much that because there may be some faults in our godbrothers and godsisters, or because there may be some mismanagement or lack of cooperation, that this is due to being impersonalists, no. It is the nature of the living condition to always have some fault. Even in the Spiritual World there is some fault and envy sometimes the Gopis will quarrel over Krishna’s favor, and once Krishna was so much attracted to Radharani that by mistake he tried to milk the bull instead of the cow. And sometimes when the Gopis used to put on their dress and make-up for seeing Krishna, they would be too much hasty and smear kumkum and mascara in the wrong places and their ornaments and dresses would appear as if small children had been trying to dress themselves.

“There are so many examples. But it is not the same as material fault or material envy, it is transcendental because it is all based on Krishna. Sometimes when one Gopi would serve Krishna very nicely, the others would say, ‘Oh, she has done so nicely, now let me do better for pleasing Krishna.’ That is envy, but it is transcendental, without malice. So we shall not expect that anywhere there is any Utopia. Rather, that is impersonalism. People should not expect that even in the Krishna Consciousness Society there will be Utopia. Because devotees are persons, therefore there will always be some lacking. But the difference is that their lacking, because they have given up everything to serve Krishna money, jobs, reputation, wealth, big educations, everything their lackings have become transcendental because, despite everything they may do, their topmost intention is to serve Krishna. ‘One who is engaged in devotional service, despite the most abominable action, is to be considered saintly because he is rightly situated.’

“The devotees of Krishna are the most exalted persons on this planet, better than kings, all of them, so we should always remember that and, like the bumblebee, always look for the nectar or the best qualities of a person. Not like the utopians, who are like the flies who always go to the open sores or find the faults in a person, and because they cannot find any utopia, or because they cannot find anyone without faults, they want to become void, merge, nothing they think that is utopia, to become void of personality. So if there is sometimes slight disagreements between devotees, it is not due to impersonalism, but it is because they are persons, and such disagreements should not be taken very seriously. The devotee is always pessimistic about the material world, but he is very optimistic about spiritual life; so in this way, you should consider that anyone engaged in Krishna’s service is always the best person.”

Srila Prabhupada once said that spiritual life is difficult, but material life is impossible. Therefore, a devotee must always be tolerant and look on the bright side. If one expects too much from any spiritual organization, seeking perfection in all dealings, one will be disappointed. If one then wants to become void, or lose oneself, that is impersonalism, the other side of what we discussed earlier in this chapter. In other words, impersonalism lurks in all corners either blindly covering oneself over, avoiding the variety of personal dealings, including faults, or always seeing faults and focusing on them excessively both indicate and spawn impersonalism. Healing comes, however, by practicing being personal, and that practice naturally brings one to the point of being personal. Thus, being personal is both the means and the end.

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Please come and join us.....!

Deepen your relationship with the holy name - in japa aswell as in kirtan!

        When..........? From the 21st to the 25th of December 2019

We will leave Mayapur by bus at 5am outside the Main Gate, and we will
return on the 25th by lunch time.


 * PRICE: The only price to pay for attending this wonderful event is an
intense greed for deepening our relationship with the holy name.
The entire event including transport, accomodation and prasadam will be
offered on donation basis.

* QUALIFICATION: This retreat is for seriously practicing devotees who are
chanting some rounds regularly for at least one year.

For more information and registration please see


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Gopastami by Giriraj Swami

Today is Gopastami, the day on which Krishna and Balarama and other boys Their age, who previously had tended the calves, were given charge of the cows. This event is described in Srimad-Bhagavatam (10.15.1):

tatas ca pauganda-vayah-sritau vraje
  babhuvatus tau pasu-pala-sammatau
gas carayantau sakhibhih samam padair
  vrndavanam punyam ativa cakratuh

“When Lord Rama and Lord Krsna attained the age of pauganda [six to ten] while living in Vrndavana, the cowherd men allowed Them to take up the task of tending the cows. Engaging thus in the company of Their friends, the two boys rendered the land of Vrndavana most auspicious by imprinting upon it the marks of Their lotus feet.”

As stated in the purport: “Since Lord Krsna’s spiritual body had apparently grown slightly in age and strength, the senior men of Vrndavana, headed by Nanda Maharaja, decided to promote Krsna from the task of herding calves to the status of a regular cowherd boy. He would now take care of the full-grown cows, bulls, and oxen. Out of great affection, Nanda Maharaja had previously considered Krsna too small and immature to take care of full-grown cows and bulls. It is stated in the Karttika-mahatmya section of the Padma Purana:

suklastami karttike tu
  smrta gopastami budhaih
tad-dinad vasudevo ’bhud
  gopah purvam tu vatsapah

‘The eighth lunar day of the bright fortnight of the month of Karttika is known by authorities as Gopastami. From that day, Lord Vasudeva served as a cowherd, whereas previously He had tended the calves.’

“The word padaih indicates that Lord Krsna blessed the earth by walking on her surface with His lotus feet. The Lord wore no shoes or other footgear but walked barefoot in the forest, giving great anxiety to the girls of Vrndavana, who feared that His soft lotus feet would be injured.”

The celebration was meant for only the cowherd men and boys, but Srimati Radharani also wanted to enjoy the fun, and so, because of Her resemblance to Subala-sakha, she donned his dhoti and other garments and joined Krishna. Thus, on this occasion, in temples in Vrindavan and elsewhere, Srimati Radharani is dressed as a cowherd boy.


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Vote for Hare Krishna!


Dear Readers, You have a great opportunity to influence movie fans worldwide to watch “Hare Krishna!” by rating the film on The more votes and higher the rating the more people will be persuaded to watch the film. If you are inspired, kindly follow these instructions:

1. Go to:

2. Search for HARE KRISHNA! The Mantra, the Movement and the Swami who started it all

3. Go to “RATE THIS” and click on the star.

4. Sign in on Facebook, Google, etc.

5. Create your IMDb account. That will take you back to the main page.

6. Click again on the “RATE THIS” star.

7. Choose a number from one to ten ten is the highest rating and you’re done.

Remember, millions of movie fans worldwide visit to see which movies they want to watch based on the audience rating and number of votes. We have a great opportunity with so many sincere followers of Srila Prabhupada to influence movie fans all over the world to watch HARE KRISHNA! and become purified by a 90 minute darshan of Srila Prabhupada. Thank you very much!

Dear Srila Prabhupada,

Please accept our humble obeisances. All glories to you.

On this auspicious day of your disappearance we wish to offer you our plans for ongoing distribution of your movie HARE KRISHNA! The Mantra, the Movement and the Swami, you who started it all.

Our wish is to put your movie in at least as many languages as your books which are in 86 languages. HARE KRISHNA! is now in 22 languages available on DVD and online streaming at

Upcoming screenings include release of the film early next year in 25 cities in Italy and 12 showings in January on SVT the National TV station of Sweden.

The 50th anniversary of your founding ISKCON has come and gone and the celebrations were grand. Still, there are many more 50th anniversaries to come those of your arrival in cities and countries around the world forever establishing those places holy tirthas.

For instance, on Oct. 20, 1970, you arrived in Amritsar with your newly formed World Sankirtan Party the first large group of devotees you brought to India. That 50th anniversary will come next year in 2020. Soon after, you visited Indore, Surat, and Allahabad. In 2021 more 50th anniversaries follow with your visits to Sydney, Moscow, Paris, Detroit and Gainesville, Florida. Many more will come over the next 6 years all the way to the 50th anniversary of your departure in 2027.

Today we humbly offer the idea of celebrating these 50th anniversaries with a red carpet screening of your movie in the best theater in the city, inviting the mayor, VIPs, ambassadors, professors and representatives of businesses and influential organizations to your “second coming” 50 years later.

The review from LA Yoga Magazine aptly reads, “HARE KRISHNA! is the second coming of Prabhupada.”

Undoubtedly, your movie will become more and more popular as time goes on., the biggest film review website in the world has listed HARE KRISHNA! in the top 100 of over 260,000 documentary films. Millions of movie fans worldwide visit to see which movies they want to watch based on the audience rating and number of votes. On their website, HARE KRISHNA! has an average rating of 9.5 out of 10 from the votes of 934 people.

Here is one review from their website. “One of the most spiritual and awakening movies I have ever seen. I’m a big fan of Hollywood movies and don’t have deep knowledge of religion but this movie is like magic.
It’s about one person’s struggle on his spiritual journey his humanity and kind nature. If you hear about Meditation, Yoga and Karma in the West, all credit goes to this Swami.”.

The more the public, especially the leaders of society have the opportunity to witness your glorious life, the more they will understand you, your mission and your followers.

Dear Srila Prabhupada, please bless our efforts to serve you in this way for many years to come.

Always begging for your mercy,

Your grateful servants,

Yadubara das and Visakha devi dasi

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32 Ways to Not Chant Japa


Japa is the name of the mediation a Krishna devotee does while using beads. A string of beads has 108 beads on it and the complete Hare Krishna mantra (link to our webpage here) is chanted on each bead. When you complete 108 beads you have done 1 round, which usually takes about 7 minutes. Devotees who have taken first level vows chant 16 rounds or more every day. That is 108×16 = 1726 mantras each day. If done properly this is a powerful meditation that purifies the heart and mind, and awakens love for Krishna. Mostly we don’t chant properly and therein lies the problem. Mahatma Prabhu offers a pointed and humorous reminder to help us do better.

From The Japa Workshop by Mahatma das

1. To Do List Japa – Meditating on your to do and shopping lists, sometimes adding and deleting items between mantras. This may also include mentally balancing your checkbook or mentally going over which bills you have to pay. Caution: This process can cause you to lament about how many bills you have to pay, and thus changing your prayers from “Oh Lord, please engage me in your service,” to “Oh Lord, please add a few more zeroes to the end of my bank balance.”

2. I Hate Him Japa – While chanting, meditating on who hurt you, how badly you were hurt, how much you hate that person, and what you’ll do to get back at him. By the end of 16 rounds your hatred has increased tenfold and you have developed excellent plans and strategies to take revenge.

3. I am Right Japa – Meditating while chanting on how right you are and how wrong someone else is, and with every mantra you become more convinced how right you are. Also know as “Pump Your Ego Japa. ”

4. Watering the Weeds Japa – Chanting so poorly that by the time you finish you feel disgusted, depressed and miserable. Gone are the days of “Chant and Be Happy.” Now it is, “Chant and Be Miserable.”

5. Beat the Clock Japa – You chant as fast as possible in an attempt to get those bothersome rounds over with, sometimes trying to break your previous record of one round in 3 minutes 59 seconds – which was formerly thought to be humanly impossible – until you proved it could be done if one is intensely motivated to get his chanting over with as soon as possible!

6. Robot Japa – You chant like a robot. Chanting while totally disconnected from the mood of the mantra. You sometimes wish another devotee or a robot could chant your rounds for you.

7. Firing Blank Mantras Japa – Krsna’s name is chanted, but your mind and heart are somewhere else – and so is He. The sound Krsna comes out of your mouth, but because there is no consciousness, it is like firing blank mantras.

8. Killing Time Japa – Chanting, but thinking of things to entertain yourself with while you chant so you won’t be so bored just listening to the mantra. In this way you kill time while chanting and thus make chanting 16 rounds quite tolerable by making it much less painful than usual.

9. Creative Japa – Using japa as a time for brainstorming, thus doing some creative thinking, generating new ideas, and finding solutions to your problems. It is useful to have a pen and paper handy to write down your ideas. Although you may get very few rounds done, and you won’t get the nectar of the name – you have spent the past two hours in a such a high degree of passion that you will definitely have a long list of good ideas. (But is it really a good idea to ruin your japa to get some good ideas?)

10. Novocain Japa – Your heart is so numbed that you feel absolutely nothing when you chant.

11. Driving Japa – Chanting while distracted by the task of driving, sometimes accompanied by cursing at people who cut you off (i.e. the anti-trnad api sunicena mantra). Of course, the reason you chant while driving is that you get up late.

12. No Japa, Japa – While holding your beads you converse with another devotee, moving your beads as you talk. In this way you sometimes finish a so-called round or two by the end of the conversation. (Oh God, help us!)

13. Prajalpa Japa – You chant a few mantras and then speak a few words of prajalpa (gossip) to your friend. You chant a few more mantras and then listen as they speak some prajalpa to you. Then you respond with some even more juicy gossip. This process often continues for the entire japa session.

14. Call and Response Japa – You talk to someone, and while listening to you they chant japa. Then they reply and while listening to them you chant japa.

15. Reading Japa – Reading and chanting at the same time. (Note: This would not be a problem if you had two or more heads.)

16. Left Hand Japa – Chanting japa while doing something with your left hand (cleaning, cooking, tinkering, organizing, washing your car, etc.). This is very useful for developing left arm strength.

17. Bubblegum Japa – Chanting in a way that sounds like you are chewing bubble gum while chanting Hare Krsna.

18. New Mantra Japa – Chanting a new form of the Hare Krsna mantra, such as “here kitty, kitty, here kitty, kitty,” or “nish, nish, ram, ram, ari, ari.”

19. Entertainment Japa – Chanting while watching TV or a movie. Note: watching TV while not chanting, but chanting during the commercials is also no good! (And, Krsna conscious video is also included in TV Japa.)

20. Internet Japa – A few mantras and a few emails, sometimes chanting and reading at the same time. Inevitably, the beads get put on the table and the right hand lands on the keyboard.

21. Window Shopping Japa – Chanting while window shopping (this commonly happens when making the attempt to knock out some rounds while in the shopping mall).

22. Boredom Japa – You are so bored while chanting that you feel like killing yourself.

23. Relaxing Japa – Lying down or relaxing in a hammock while chanting (often accompanied by coconut water in your left hand).

24. Slumber Japa – Taking advantage of japa to get a good nap. Another variety of “Slumber Japa” is trying to fight off sleep, but continually failing. This is also known as “Dive Bomb Japa” due to the head constantly rising and falling (diving).

25. Bitter Medicine Japa – Your experience of the holy name is like bitter medicine and your face turns in disgust as you chant.

26. Painful Japa – Your mind is so out of control that it is painful to try to control it. Thus, the expression on your face while chanting appears similar to the expression of a person with a knife in their back (or a person with severe constipation).

27. Shaking Japa – (Also known as “Ants in Your Pants Japa”) – You chant as if you were a toy monkey that was just wound up.

28. Radar Japa – Looking around at anything and everything – and everybody – while chanting.

29. Audio Japa – Chanting japa while listening to a lecture, kirtan, song, or the radio. This is especially challenging while listening to the radio (unless, of course, it is one of your favorite songs or some juicy news).

30. Sightseeing Japa – Walking or driving and chanting while doing some serious sightseeing.

31. Shopping Japa – Nish, nish, ram, ram, ari, ari-ing your way through the supermarket or mall.

32. Apathy Japa – Chanting with absolutely no desire or enthusiasm to chant.


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All-Attractive Hari-Katha

By Jaya Gaursundar Dasa GauraVanacari

All-Attractive Hari-Kathā:

By hearing Śrīmad-Bhāgavatam regularly and always taking the matter very seriously the Personality of Godhead Śrī Kṛṣṇa manifests in the heart very shortly.

śṛṇvataḥ śraddhayā nityaṁngṛṇataś ca sva-ceṣṭitam
kālena nātidīrgheṇa bhagavān viśate hṛdi (SB 2.8.4)

“Parīkṣit Mahārāja attained salvation simply by hearing, and Śukadeva Gosvāmī attained salvation simply by chanting.

Mahārāja Parīkṣit, the personification of Hearing (śrī-viṣṇoḥ śravaṇe parīkṣid abhavad) personally recommends that one hear Śrīmad-Bhāgavatam regularly, always (nityam) by oneself with serious devotion. That will help one to see the Lord Śrī Kṛṣṇa manifested in one’s heart within no time. (Purport by Srila Prabhupada)

The sound incarnation of Lord Kṛṣṇa, the Supreme Soul [i.e., Śrīmad-Bhāgavatam], enters into the heart of a devotee, sits on the lotus flower of his loving relationship, and thus cleanses the dust of material association, such as lust, anger and hankering.

praviṣṭaḥ karṇa-randhreṇa svānāṁ bhāva-saroruham
dhunoti śamalaṁ kṛṣṇaḥ salilasya yathā śarat (SB 2.8.5)

Similar quote: Śrī Kṛṣṇa, the Personality of Godhead, who is the Paramātmā (Super soul) in everyone’s heart and the benefactor of the truthful devotee, cleanses desire for material enjoyment from the heart of the devotee who then relishes virtuous messages of Śrī Kṛṣṇa.

śṛṇvatāṁ sva-kathāḥ kṛṣṇaḥ puṇya-śravaṇa-kīrtanaḥ
hṛdy antaḥ stho hy abhadrāṇi vidhunoti suhṛt satām (SB 1.2.17)

It is the special mercy of the Supreme Lord that as soon as He knows that one is glorifying His name, fame and attributes He personally helps cleanse the dirt from one’s heart. Simply by such glorification not only one becomes purified but also achieves the results of pious activities (puṇya-śravaṇa- kīrtana). Puṇya-śravaṇa-kīrtana refers to the process of devotional service. Even if one does not understand the meaning of the Lord’s name, pastimes or attributes, one is purified simply by hearing or chanting of them. Such purification is called sattva-bhāvana.

Therefore by regular attendance in classes on the Bhāgavatam and by rendering of service to the pure devotee, all that is troublesome to the heart is almost completely destroyed and loving service unto the Personality of Godhead, who is praised with transcendental songs (uttama-śloke) is established.

naṣṭa-prāyeṣv abhadreṣu nityaṁ bhāgavata-sevayā
bhagavaty uttama-śloke bhaktir bhavati naiṣṭhikī, (SB 1.2.18)

When Lord Kṛṣṇa descends to this world in His original two-handed form, out of kindness He manifests that form in a way His devotees conditioned in human society can perceive and understand. To show mercy to His devotees, as will attract those who hear about them to become dedicated to Him. He assumes a humanlike body and engages in conjugal pastimes that have an inconceivable spiritual potency to attract the polluted heart of conditioned souls. Therefore any pure- or simple-hearted person who hears narrations of the loving affairs of Kṛṣṇa will be attracted to the lotus feet of the Lord and gradually become His devotee.

anugrahāya bhaktānāṁ mānuṣaṁ deham āsthitaḥ
bhajate tādṛśīḥ krīḍa yāḥ śrutvā tat-paro bhavet (SB 10.33.36)

Those pastimes in the form mature fruit become even more tasteful when emanated from the lips of Śrī Śukadeva Gosvāmī in form of Śrīmad-Bhāgavatam. The necterian juice of that mature fruit of the desire tree of Vedic literatures was already relish able for all, including liberated souls. Therefore ‘O expert and thoughtful men, relish it.’

nigama-kalpa-taror galitaṁ phalaṁ śuka-mukhād amṛta-drava-saṁyutam
pibata bhāgavataṁ rasam ālayam muhur aho rasikā bhuvi bhāvukāḥ (SB 1.1.3)

Overwhelmed by feelings of separation from Kṛṣṇa, the gopīs sat down on the bank of the Yamunā and began praying for His audience and singing His glories like this: “The nectar of Your words and the descriptions of Your activities are the life and soul of those suffering in this material world. These narrations, transmitted by learned sages, eradicate one’s sinful reactions and bestow good fortune upon whoever hears them. These narrations are broadcast all over the world and are filled with spiritual power. Certainly those who spread the message of Godhead are most munificent.” This is in side of that necterian fruit (Śrīmad-Bhāgavatam)

tava kathāmṛtaṁ tapta-jīvanaṁ
kavibhir īḍitaṁ kalmaṣāpaham
śravaṇa-maṅgalaṁ śrīmad ātataṁ
bhuvi gṛṇanti ye bhūri-dā janāḥ (SB 10.31.9)

Anyone who faithfully hears or describes the Lord’s playful affairs with the young gopīs of Vṛndāvana will attain the Lord’s pure devotional service.

vikrīḍitaṁ vraja-vadhūbhir idaṁ ca viṣṇoḥ
śraddhānvito ’nuśṛṇuyād atha varṇayed yaḥ
bhaktiṁ parāṁ bhagavati pratilabhya (SB 10.33.39)

Therefore, Śrī Prabuddha advises King Nimi that “One should hear, glorify and meditate upon the wonderful transcendental activities of the Lord. One should specifically become absorbed in the appearance, activities, qualities and holy names of the Supreme Personality of Godhead. Thus inspired, one should perform all of one’s daily activities as an offering to the Lord.”

‘śravaṇaṁ kīrtanaṁ dhyānaṁ
harer adbhuta-karmaṇaḥ
janma-karma-guṇānāṁ ca
tad-arthe ’khila-ceṣṭitam (SB 11.3.27)

One who desires his ultimate self-interest should cultivate friendship with those persons who have accepted Kṛṣṇa as the Lord of their life. One should learn how to associate with the devotees of the Lord by gathering with them to chant the glories of the Lord. This process is most purifying. As devotees thus develop their loving friendship, they feel mutual happiness and satisfaction. And by thus encouraging one another they are able to give up material sense gratification, which is the cause of all suffering.

pāvanaṁ bhagavad-yaśaḥ
mitho ratir mithas tuṣṭir
nivṛttir mitha ātmanaḥ (SB 11.3.30)

Hearing from Nārada’s mouth the glories of the Lord, which vanquish all the ill fortune of the world, the Pracetās the sons of King Prācīnabarhi also became attached to the Supreme Personality of Godhead. Nārada described the glories of the Lord as follows:

“śriyam anucaratīṁ tad-arthinaś ca dvipada-patīn vibudhāṁś ca yat sva-pūrṇaḥ na bhajati nija-bhṛtya-varga-tantraḥ katham amum udvisṛjet pumān kṛta-jñaḥ” (SB 4.31.22)

Although the Supreme Personality of Godhead is self-sufficient, He becomes dependent on His devotees. He does not care for the goddess of fortune, nor for the kings and demigods who are after the favors of the goddess of fortune. Where is that person who is actually grateful and will not worship the Personality of Godhead? – katham amum udvisṛjet pumān kṛta-jñaḥ?

Prabhupada writes: All materialistic men, including big kings, and demigods in heaven worship Lakṣmī, the goddess of fortune. But Lakṣmī, however, is always after the Supreme Personality of Godhead, even though He does not require her service or service from millions of goddesses of fortune. In Brahma-saṁhitā it is mentioned that the Lord is worshiped by hundreds and thousands of goddesses of fortune, but the Supreme Lord does not require service from any of them because if He so desires He can produce millions of goddesses of fortune through His spiritual energy, the pleasure potency. This very Personality of Godhead, out of His causeless mercy, becomes dependent on the devotees. How fortunate, then, is a devotee who is thus favored by the Personality of Godhead. What ungrateful devotee will not worship the Lord and enter into His devotional service?

King Parīkṣit was interested in hearing kṛṣṇa-kathā elaborately (from the beginning to the end of life, the wonderful, glorious activities and character of Lord Viṣṇu, or Śrī Kṛṣṇa, the Supersoul, the Supreme Personality of Godhead, (the cause of the cosmic manifestation) who appeared in that Yadu dynasty with Baladeva, His plenary expansion.

Because glorification of the Supreme Personality of Godhead is performed in the paramparā system, that is, it is conveyed from the spiritual master to disciple. Such glorification is relished by those no longer interested in the false, temporary glorification of this cosmic manifestation. Descriptions of the Lord are the right medicine for the conditioned soul undergoing repeated birth and death. Therefore, who will cease hearing such glorification of the Lord except a butcher or one who is killing his own self?

nivṛtta-tarṣair upagīyamānād
bhavauṣadhāc chrotra-mano-’bhirāmāt
ka uttamaśloka-guṇānuvādāt
pumān virajyeta vinā paśughnāt (SB 10.1.4)

This Hari-kathā is attractive for all. It is sung by those who are already on the liberated platform due to being free from all material hankerings. It is the medicine [for those who are aiming for liberation]. Moreover, it gives pleasure to the ears and minds [of those who are complete materialists]. Due to all these reasons, which person will cease from hearing such kathā, except for a butcher or the killer of his own soul?

Srila Prabhupada mentions that Kṛṣṇa-kathā is very simple. In Bhagavad-gītā it is said that Kṛṣṇa is the Supreme Personality of Godhead. As He Himself explains, mattaḥ parataraṁ nānyat kiñcid asti dhanañjaya: “O Arjuna, there is no truth superior to Me.” (Bg. 7.7) Simply by understanding this fact — that Kṛṣṇa is the Supreme Personality of Godhead — one can become a liberated person. Śrī Caitanya Mahāprabhu has advised us to hear the glories of the Lord from a realized person (bhāgavata paro diya bhāgavata sthane). A Vaiṣṇava is nivṛtta-tṛṣṇa; that is, he has no material purpose, for his only purpose is to preach Kṛṣṇa consciousness. A qualified reciter of Śrīmad-Bhāgavatam gives the right medicine (bhavauṣadhi) for the conditioned souls. Anyone who is not Kṛṣṇa conscious and does not engage in the service of the Lord is also paśu-ghna. Kṛṣṇa-kathā is called bhavauṣadha, the remedy to stop the repetition of birth and death.

According to Srila Sridhar Swami there are three types of people in this world.

First type is the liberated souls- nivṛtta-tarṣair who are freed from all types of material hankerings. Bhāgavata kathā is sung by them. The liberated souls (Muktas) are of two types Jñānīs and bhaktas. Jñānīs or muktas are those who have achieved four types of liberations (sālokya, sāmīpya, sārūpya and sārṣṭi). The term nivṛtta-tarṣair means that such kathā is sung by the bhaktas, the devotees. Upa – means that this kathā being greater than all other spiritual practices is sung more and more by devotees. Due to the fact that such kathā bestows the highest result, the devotees sing it always. This indicates the supreme pleasurable nature of this kathā. Uttama-śloka-guṇānuvādāt — “He who has the best (uttama) glories (śloka) is known as uttama-śloka. He is the Supreme Lord and has qualities (guṇa) such as eternality, transcendence, unparalleled magnanimity, affection, etc.” The constant repetition (anuvādāt) of such qualities is uttama-śloka-guṇānuvādāt. Who will stop listening to this kathā or become satiated by it? For pure devotees, the joy of such līlā-kathā constantly arises spontaneously within their hearts so they sing it naturally instead of meditating. On the contrary, such spontaneous energy does not arise in those who are aspiring for liberation or those who are aspiring for material enjoyment. For them, the terms bhavauṣadhāt and chrotra-mano ’bhirāmāt have been used. This means that for them such kathā enters like a medicine (bhavauṣadha) through the ears (śrotra) into the mind (manaḥ). For such people the importance of the ears is indicated. For jñānis, such kathā does not come out spontaneously through their mouths in the form of songs. For those who are aspiring for liberation, such kathā enters through the ears and causes delight to the mind but do not arise spontaneously in the heart. The materialists may also sing the Lord’s songs, but out of a spirit of material enjoyment. Still, because they sing such songs out of spontaneous materialism, they are better off than the jñānīs and those desirous of liberation, who does not sing such songs.

Second type are those who desire liberation – mumukṣu even for them this hari-kathā is the exclusive solution, bhavauṣadhāt it is the medicine which relieves all distresses.

And third type, are the materialists who desire sense gratification. For such people, too, this hari-kathā is an unprecedented source of sense gratification. Śrotra-mano ’bhirāmāt, it provides great delight (joy) to their ears (śrotra) and the mind (mano). By its sound it delights the ears, and by its meanings the mind is completely (abhi) delighted (rāmāt). Therefore those who desire material enjoyment, for them, too, it provides more joy-happiness.

None of the above three should have alaṁ buddhi, the thought that, “Now I have heard enough (alaṁ) hari-kathā. Let me stop now.” This is specified by the term bhavauṣadhāt, the medicine for curing the disease of material existence. Therefore they should not stop hearing.

Only two types of people give it up because they do not delight in such kathā. who else unless (Vinā) they are apaśughnāt means one who kills (ghna) the true self-interest of his pure soul (apa-śug) or paśughnāt, a butcher or hunter. Paśughnāt refers to a hunter. Due to his mind constantly disturbed by torture and violence caused to others, the hunter loses good intelligence to determine what is favorable for him in this world and the next, and thus even in this world his sense enjoyment is lost due to such a degraded intelligence. Therefore it is said:

rāja-putra ciraṁ jīva mā jīva ṛṣi-putraka

jīva vā mara vā sādho vyādha mā jīva mā mara

“O son of the king! May you live forever [because if you live you will enjoy here but if you die then you may be degraded]! O son of the sage! Do not live any longer [for you have no enjoyment in this world but enjoyment is waiting for you in the next]! O self-realized sādhu! You may live or die as per your wish. For you will be happy regardless of your situation! (O hunter! Neither live nor die for you will continue to suffer regardless of your situation!”)

Therefore one who ceases listening to such kathā will be unhappy in both worlds and will also undoubtedly cause pain to others just like a hunter. The intention of the verse is to verbally use abusive language (gāli-pradāna) for such people. Similarly Lord Vrsabha Deva used such a strong language while teaching bhāgavata-dharma – importance of human life to His sons. He said ‘nāyaṁ deho deha-bhājāṁ nṛloke kaṣṭān kāmān arhate viḍ-bhujāṁ ye. – Of all the living entities who have accepted material bodies in this world, one who has been awarded this human form should not work hard day and night simply for sense gratification, which is available even for dogs and hogs that eat stool. Sense gratifiers are no better than stool eating animals. After undergoing severe hardships all day, human beings are trying to enjoy themselves at night by eating, drinking, having sex and sleeping. For all this hardship, his only happiness is a little sex. Indeed, dogs and hogs do not have to work so hard for sex. Human life is meant for tapasyā, austerity and penance. Human beings should voluntarily accept suffering in the form of austerities and penances in order to attain the divine life.

In conclusion all are eligible for such kathā. In this way since hari-kathā is the means as well as the goal, it should be relished in a mood of service by one and all.

If the kathā of Lord Hari is so attractive, what to speak of the kathā of Lord Krishna and his beautiful form?

When we learn to love Krishna purely, the result is yayatma suprasidati: our heart and soul become content fully and forever.


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By HH Sivarama Swami

First meetings

I first met my spiritual master on March 6th 1975 in Dallas Texas. Srila Prabhupada had just been in South America and had toured the Southern United States. I was on travelling book distribution with a sankirtan party and had strayed quite a distance from Montreal my home base.

While reporting to the temple president about our scores, we were informed that Srila Prabhupada was flying from Atlanta to Dallas the next day and would be there for some time. We immediately drove west to see with the idea to meet Prabhupada at the airport. By the time we arrived both Prabhupada and his reception of devotees had left. All that remained was a trail of flower petals through the airport.

Disappointed we sped to the temple, but by the time we arrived, gurupuja was over and Srila Prabhupada was finishing his talk. I came in the temple room, offered obeisances and saw my spiritual master for the first time.
For almost five years I had seen and known Prabhupada visually from photos. His pictures were on the altar, vyasasana, books, magazines, framed on temple walls, in fact everywhere.

But I had never seen Prabhupada in person. My first impression was that here was that same photo, but now it was moving. It was such a strong impression, seeing the person I had worshipped in inanimate form for half a decade come to life. Through the rest of the lecture I continued to see Prabhupada in that way. Then I understood that the spiritual master is non different than his picture.

That was the first personal contact with his Divine Grace, although I had been an initiated devotee for two years.

There were a limited number of meetings with His Divine Grace in the two years that followed. As before our first meeting, so to the present day my association has been more with Prabhupada’s vapu than his vani. It was Krishna’s arrangement. After all Caitanya Caritamrta states “guru krsna prasade paya”, “by the mercy of Krsna one gets guru”.

Krsna had arranged just so much association with Srila Prabhupada. It was a perfect arrangement. I have seen many devotees who after countless hours of association with Srila Prabhupada, been his secretary, cook and travelling companion abandon his service and compromise the principles of Krishna Consciousness. Prabhupada had written that one should be careful not to associate too closely with the spiritual master lest one think him an ordinary man. Krsna had protected me.


I cannot say I had clearly considered why I was to take initiation from Srila Prabhupada. The temple president said I should and so I composed a letter to that effect. While writing I had a strong feeling I did not know what I was doing. Years later, as I became increasingly aware of what it meant to be a disciple that intuition was confirmed. Although almost 30 years have transpired since I first became aware of Srila Prabhupada the relationship continues to grow and unfold. As Srila Prabhupada had said the relationship between the spiritual master and disciple is a transcendental and mystical one.

I can remember as far back as 1970 reading the abridged version of Srila Prabhupada’s Gita. At that time I avoided the purports, thinking that they were simply an interpretation of Krishna’s words. I had thought “why should I accept Swamiji’s explanation, I have my own.” A little later I purchased the first set of Krsna books and began to read that regularly. In time I came to realise that Krsna Consciousness was being delivered by Srila Prabhupada, and that his words were no different from Sukadeva Goswami’s or for that matter Lord Krishna’s. Srila Prabhupada wrote objectively repeating the words of the acarya’s.

One day I was returning from the temple via the bus. I remember standing, and reading the Easy Journey to Other Planets I had just purchased. Srila Prabhupada was saying how one should accept a spiritual master and was citing his qualifications. I have a clear impression, holding on to the straps with one hand, the book with the other wondering, “who is my guru?”.

Srila Prabhupada was a transparent media. He transmitted complete and perfect knowledge with no personal slant. I accepted the information I was receiving from the book as perfect and yet could not recognise its author as my eternal spiritual guide. It took a few months to realise that Srila Prabhupada was a bona fide guru, a few experiences and another few months to accept that he was my spiritual master.

There was an altar in the living room of our apartment where my wife and I offered all our food. Devotees had taught us to make offerings and do a simple worship. The picture of Srila Prabhupada was most prominent. One day while in a less than Krsna Conscious state, I entered the living room . Immediately I was overwhelmed with the feeling that someone was watching me. But there was no one there. When I looked at the altar, I could see Srila Prabhupada’s eyes gazing at me. It did not quite look like a picture, but rather the person was actually there.

I ignored the observation and crossed to the other side of the room. Looking once again at the picture it appeared that Prabhupada was now looking in this direction. At this point I became a little uneasy moving about the room to get away from Prabhupada’s gaze. Wherever I went, he seemed to be looking there. I concluded that Srila Prabhupada was aware of everything I did, paid my obeisances and ran out of the room.
On another night I had the first dream in which Srila Prabhupada appeared.

It was long ago so I cannot remember much. Since then I have had many dreams of his Divine Grace many of which I have written down. the main portion of the dream was that Srila Prabhupada was standing at a distance and waving to me, calling me by name. He was walking forward and calling me to follow him. Srila Prabhupada wanted me to go with him. I woke up “where did he want me to go”. The answers came from within; “to Krsna, out of maya, to ISKCON, to spread Krsna Consciousness”.

It became obvious that Srila Prabhupada was making contact with me. On the basis of that contact he was establishing a relationship whether I was prepared for it or not. Srila Prabhupada was entering into my life and would not leave. I made my first conscious step at surrender and began to view Srila Prabhupada as my spiritual master.

A personal invitation

In 1976 Srila Prabhupada visited Montreal temple for half a day on his way to India. Once again I was on travelling sankirtan and this time in the Maritime Provinces. we received the news a day earlier. There was only two of us. I remember driving down the motorway seeing the driver tired and sleepy. Without stopping we switched places at 70 mph. I was not going to get there late this time. I stayed up all night to build a new Vyasasana. The visit was brief. In the departure lounge all the devotees sat in silence at Srila Prabhupada’s feet. I was foolish enough to speak about the trials of book distribution to Srila Prabhupada, who patiently responded while everyone looked on in anger.

At last he said “If it is too difficult you can come with me to India”. I did not know what to reply. Srila Prabhupada was extending a personal invitation. What would I do going to India with Prabhupada. He looked at me.

“If you like I will go” I said sheepishly. It was my mistake. I should have immediately taken the opportunity and shown my ardent desire. What did I like to do? But I was duty oriented and the next day the GBC man confirmed that I was better off staying and distributing books. But I should have gone anyway.


Coming to Krsna Consciousness was for me, as many others an act of great sacrifice and personal turmoil. I left my wife, dog and a potential career, angered my parents and relations, struck out against the natural course of conditional existence and declared war on Maya. I did not know Krsna, I understood little of the philosophy and the way of life was foreign. But I had firm faith in Srila Prabhupada and I followed him. Srila Prabhupada was everything. He was the spiritual master, visionary acarya, empowered preacher, head pujari, expert cook, father, friend, and only via media to Krsna. Everything I had left behind I reposed in him. In fact Srila Prabhupada was my life.

Then in 1977 he just left. I cannot say that Srila Prabhupada had not given notice. Even as early as 1966 he had said “my time has come, I am an old man and can die at any moment”. But I, like many others did not believe that Srila Prabhupada would go. Mainly I could not conceive of living, what to speak of Krsna Consciousness without him.

I was in the temple in Chicago room chanting my rounds before the deities. It was after the morning program and my day off from sankirtan. Someone came downstairs and asked me to come up into the temple president’s office. I did. He told me of the telephone call he received with the news. I just sat down on a chair. I think I must have sat there around eight hours. I was in a state of shock. In my mind I was just trying to comprehend what it meant that Srila Prabhupada had left. How was there such a thing as Krsna Consciousness without Srila Prabhupada. How was there a world without Srila Prabhupada? Most seriously how would I exist without Srila Prabhupada’s presence.

It is true that my association with Srila Prabhupada was limited. However I was always secure knowing that he was somewhere on this planet, somewhere as the ultimate authority to resolve any controversy, somewhere I could go if I needed to. Where was he now?

Almost twenty years have passed and I have reconciled that the search for Srila Prabhupada is within his instructions, his books and within my heart. Gradually I am learning to appreciate that it is vani which is the eternal link that I am being forced to embrace. Srila Prabhupada has given in his dedication to Srimad Bhagavatam. “To my spiritual master Srila Bhaktisidhanata Saraswati Thakur, he lives forever by his divine instructions and the follower lives with him”. If I want to live forever with Srila Prabhupada I must abide by his orders. It was not my choice, but rather his will. Srila Prabhupada could have stayed had he desired. He did not.

The future

The next generation of devotees has come and there will be more to follow. Devotees who never met Srila Prabhupada in person, devotees who did not go on morning walks, sit in lectures or wait for Prabhupada’s arrival at the airport. What remains for the future? As I, so others can continue to know and live with Srila Prabhupada by following his instructions. In that attempt one must be intelligent and sincere. There are already deviant sects who in an attempt to immortalise Prabhupada, go against his teachings. Srila Prabhupada desired we maintain the integrity and siddhanta of our parampara.

He wanted devotees to preach conjointly to spread Krsna Consciousness all over the world. Srila Prabhupada wanted books translated and distributed, temples and deities, varnasrama and festivals and most of all pure devotees. Followers of His Divine Grace should make his desires a reality in Hungary. In that way as he lives by his instructions, we will live together forever with him.

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Teaching by Example


By Bhurijana Dasa

Setting a Good Example

We should concentrate on training the children up in Krsna consciousness, not so much formal academic educationa little reading, writing, mathematics, that’s allbut more by giving them facility to follow the examples of the older devotees in the regular Krsna conscious program.

Letter to Satsvarupa dasa, February 16, 1972

Let the children associate with the elders as much as possible in the routine Krsna conscious program.

Letter to Aniruddha dasa, February 16, 1972

The best way to train the children is by letting them associate with their elders in the regular schedule of devotional practices.

Letter to Satsvarupa dasa, February 28, 1972

By the good association of their parents and other older members, they will become nicely fixed in Krsna consciousness.

Letter to Satyabhama-dev das, February 28, 1972

Simply by associating with the elderly members, the children will learn everything. The quality of the elderly members must also be exactly to the standard of excellent Vaisnavas. Otherwise, the children learn by example, and they will be very easily misguided if their senior godbrothers and godsisters are themselves neglectful.

Letter to Satsvarupa dasa Gosvam, July 1, 1972

The basic principle of a Krsna conscious teacher is that he teaches by example.

ei malakara khaya ei prema-phala

niravadhi matta rahe, vivasa-vihvala

The great gardener, Lord Caitanya, personally eats this fruit, and as a result He constantly remains mad, as if helpless and bewildered.

Purport: It is the mission of Sri Caitanya Mahaprabhu to act Himself and teach the people. He says, apani acari’ bhakti karila pracara (Cc., sdi 4.41). One must first act himself and then teach. This is the function of a real teacher. Unless one is able to understand the philosophy that he speaks, it will not be effective. Therefore, one should not only understand the philosophy of the Caitanya cult but also implement it practically in one’s life.

Cc., sdi 9.51

Students learn even when no formal instructional attempts are being made. All learners, not just young children, only need to see the behavior demonstrated by their teacher to spark the natural tendency to imitate a superior. In the Vedic system, therefore, the teacher is called acarya. Within this word is acara (activities), for acting properly is the first principle for a teacher, especially one in the line of Lord Caitanya.

Srila Prabhupada: Leader means they should behave in such a way so that by following them, others will be benefited. That is leader.

Conversations, Vol. 10, Los Angeles, July 9, 1974

When used purposefully, teaching by example, or modeling, can be a powerful teaching tool. Many things are learned better through observation and imitation than through verbal explanations and instructions.

Awareness of Example

We have all learned our native language and most of our attitudes, values, and social behavior without having had any systematic instruction. In fact, the examples we have seen have influenced us more powerfully than the verbal instructions we have received.

With this in mind, we can consider that any behavior a teacher exhibits constitutes teaching; teaching does not only take place while deliberately instructing students. Teaching by example goes on at all times. This places great pressure on teachers to live up to their ideals.

If students observe discrepancies between what is demanded and what is actually allowed, they will behave according to what is allowed. For example, students will obey the teacher for the first few days if they are told to do their seat work quietly and on their own. If it gradually becomes clear, however, that the teacher does not intervene in any way when students do not work quietly or when they copy from one another, they will see that the teacher does not mean what he says. They will often become disobedient.

This points again to the need for teachers to be aware that the only requirement for teaching to take place is that a student sees behavior modeled before him.

What is Learned from Example?

Exposure to a teacher’s example can result in either or both of two responses by the learner: imitation and inference.

Imitative learning

In imitation, a student observes his role model’s behavior and then imitates it on his own. Often this is used as a teaching technique, as when students observe their teacher performing a task (such as counting mantras on one’s fingers) and the student is asked to repeat the process on his own.

Unfortunately, unplanned and sometimes undesirable imitation also occurs. Students often pick up distinctive expressions, speech patterns, or gestures that their teacher uses, whether or not the teacher uses them consciously. Students also take cues from their teacher in learning how to react in ambiguous situations. If a teacher responds to student embarrassment with tact and sympathy, students will tend to follow suit. If, however, a teacher reacts with insensitive sarcasm or ridicule, students will probably laugh and call out taunts of their own.

Inferential learning

Besides imitation, observation also produces inferential learning. The learner observes the role model’s behavior, and, on the basis of these observations, makes inferences about the role model’s beliefs, attitudes, values, and personal qualities. Here the learner makes inferences about why the role model is behaving a particular way or about what type of person the role model is. This is also called incidental learning because it involves acquisition of information in addition to, or instead of, what the role model is trying to convey.

For example, suppose a teacher calls on a student to go to the blackboard and write the Sanskrit and English to a Bhagavad-gita verse. The teacher serves as a role model by the way he reacts to the student’s mistakes. One teacher points out that there is a mistake and asks the student to look at his work again to try to locate the error. Another teacher informs the student of his mistake and then calls on someone else to go the board and correct the problem. Both teachers are teaching the sastric content, but the inferential learning acquired by the student called to the board, and by the rest of the class in this situation, will differ with the two teachers.

In the first case the students may learn: “The teacher is friendly and helpful. It is safe to make a mistake. You will have a chance to correct yourself if you can do so, or you’ll get some help if you can’t.” In the second teacher’s class the students may learn: “You better be ready to perform when you get called to the board. The teacher wants to see the problem done correctly and he has limited patience with anybody who can’t do it right. If you know the answer, raise your hand and try to get called on to go to the board. If you’re not sure, try to escape the teacher’s attention so you won’t get embarrassed.”

What inferential learning might take place as a result of the following conversation with Srila Prabhupada?

Devotee: But isn’t that not good because the politicians nowadays, when they are running their campaign, they say so many lies to the public, that “When I am elected I will do this and I will do that.” They pay off so many people in order that they can become elected. So always the good persons also have to cheat in order to get in position, but usually the . . .

Srila Prabhupada: Therefore we have stopped our political activities. It is not good. It will hamper our spiritual understanding.

Devotee: Because we will also have to do that.

Srila Prabhupada: If you want to dance, you cannot be shy. There is a Bengali proverb, nate vase gunthana tana. You understand Bengali? No. “When you are going to dance . . .” A girl, or a lady was supposed to dance on the platform, on the stage, and when she came, she saw thousands of people. Then she drew her veil, what is called, gunthana, became little ashamed. “So you are going to dance. What is the use of veiling yourself?” So similarly, when one takes part in politics, if you don’t take all the tactics of politics, then you cannot gain ground.

Conversations, Vol. 10, Paris, June 14, 1974


Inferential learning goes on whenever students observe their teacher. Teachers rarely try to teach the information that students are inferentially learning; nevertheless, students learn by observing them.

What might a student inferentially learn from the following conversation with Srila Prabhupada?

Srila Prabhupada: No, no, no. Sama-darsinah means there is no distinction between sin and virtue. That is sama-darsinah. As soon as you see, “This is virtue, and this is sin,” it is not sama-darsinah.

Guest: Virtue and sin become the same in sama-darsinah.

Srila Prabhupada: Yes. That is sama-darsinah.

Guest: In other words, the sin does not remain sin any longer.

Srila Prabhupada: That is another thing. But he has no vision that “This is sin, and this is virtue.” That is sama-darsinah. As soon as you make distinction, you are not sama-darsinah.

Guest: In another interpretation, in . . .

Srila Prabhupada: You may interpret in a different way. Sama-darsinah, this is plain word. Sama-darsinah means there is no difference, that’s all.

Guest: But sama-darsinah equals sama-darsinah. The sin and virtue are the same.

Srila Prabhupada: Yes, that is sama-darsinah because here it is said clearly, vidya-vinaya-sampanne brahmana. A brahmana, learned brahmana, and vinaya, very humble. That is the sign of goodness. Vidya-vinaya-sampanne . . . gavi hastini suni ca. runi ca means dog. Now he is seeing a dog and a learned brahmana same. Dog is supposed to be sinful, and this learned brahmana is supposed to be virtuous. Therefore his vision, the virtuous and the sinful, the same. That is sama-darsi.

Guest: I think that they have made many mistakes in writing of the slokas.

Srila Prabhupada: That’s all right. Now you are finding mistake with Vyasa, so who can talk with you?

Guest: No, but, but . . .

Srila Prabhupada: Please excuse me. Please go out. Please go out. Don’t trouble. You are finding faults with Vyasa.

Guest: We only want you to be understood here.

Srila Prabhupada: [shouting]. I am not sama-darsinah! I don’t say I’m sama-darsinah! I don’t say, sama-darsinah. So you say sama-darsinah. Sama-darsinah.

Guest: You should be sama-darsinah.

Srila Prabhupada: But I am not in that stage. I say because you don’t surrender to Krsna, you are sinful. That is my darsana.

Conversations, Vol. 10, Allahabad, January 18, 1971


Factors Affecting the Influence of the Teacher

Aside from external, situational factors, the effect a teacher has upon his students varies according to the personality and behavior of the teacher himself. And, of course, with the depth of his Krsna consciousness. Students will tend to imitate a teacher whom they admire and respect, and they are likely to adopt his attitudes and beliefs. Students are less likely to imitate a teacher whom they dislike or do not respect – especially in adopting that teacher’s beliefs. In addition, much undesirable inferential learning will occur from the observation of such teachers, but relatively few desirable modeling effects are likely.

Here is a conversation with Srila Prabhupada revealing some of his mood and Krsna conscious personality that won the hearts of his disciples and caused them to follow his path.

Advaita: Swamiji, last night our window was broken. Was that maya striking?

Srila Prabhupada: Huh?

Advaita: Kids broke the window?

Srila Prabhupada: Yes. Maya is always striking. Why do you take only a window? Why do you compact maya in the window? She is without window, within the window. Maya is not only, I mean to say, limited to a certain extent. The whole world is maya. Jagan mithya. The whole universe is maya. Only that part is not maya where chanting Hare Krsna is there.

Devotees: Haribol. Hare Krsna.

Srila Prabhupada: As soon as there was some slacking in Hare Krsna the maya struck. (Laughs.) Yes. Yes.

Govinda dasi: Swamiji?

Srila Prabhupada: Yes. You are asking at the last moment. You are very much careful about time.

Govinda dasi: Oh, I didn’t know.

Srila Prabhupada: No, you ask me.

Govinda dasi: No, I won’t ask.

Srila Prabhupada: No, no, no, you ask. Yes. Yes.

Govinda dasi: Could you describe Krsna’s pastimes as cowboy whenever He goes out in the morning with the cowherd boys?

Srila Prabhupada: You have no experience here in your country. Have you got any experience? But in India we have got experience how in the morning the cowboy takes some food from the mother and with the cows he goes to the field. The cows are let loose on the grazing ground. They are enjoying, and this cowboy is sometimes singing. The flute, Krsna’s flute, is because He is cowboy. The cowboys still play with that flute. In India you’ll find.

Conversations, Vol. 1, New York, April 11, 1969

What inferential learning do you think took place through this simple incident?

* * *

Students will readily accept instructions from a teacher whom they admire. Teachers, therefore, should keep themselves Krsna conscious and develop the qualifications of a devotee. The twenty-six qualities of a devotee are as follows:

Such qualified devotees will certainly attract the admiration and surrender of everyone.

Srila Prabhupada: Tell them, “Chant Hare Krsna!” You should chant, they will chant. You should behave yourself very strictly on discipline and they will follow.

DVARAKANATHA: It seems that we must become humble. We must become servants to them in the sense that we do everything that we can to facilitate their service. Then when they see we are surrendering to our service, they will surrender to us.

Srila Prabhupada: Very good idea. Example is better than precept. You should all be personal examples, and they will do that. If you do not practice, if you simply force them, that will not be good.

JAGADYSA: The teachers are setting a good example in that way.

Srila Prabhupada: Then the children will follow. You rest assured.

Conversation with teachers in Dallas, July, 1975

* * *

Ways of Teaching by Example


The most obvious use of modeling occurs in a deliberate demonstration. In Gorakhpur, Srila Prabhupada once descended from his vyasasana to demonstrate to a disciple how to properly wash a floor with water and a cloth. He often entered the kitchen himself to teach his disciples how to cook and clean. In the early days in San Francisco, he personally taught Mukunda and Jivananda the mantras and basic mrdanga beats.

In teaching specific skills, especially to younger students, a demonstration is the method of choice.

Modeling Krsna conscious thinking

Teachers should regularly think aloud when making decisions and solving problems so that students can hear them model their Krsna conscious thinking processes.

This can be done with real decisions and problems the teacher faces, as well as with lessons in the curriculum. In giving directions about how to do seat work or homework, for example, and in dealing with students who are having difficulty, teachers can verbalize each step of their thinking process. Verbalizing will help students see the way the problem is approached. It will also help them see the answer as a logical conclusion following a chain of reasoning, rather than as something that the teacher just knew and that the student must commit to memory.

MADHUDVISA: This boy is Yugoslavian, and he has done some translating of your Isopanisad into Yugoslavian. So he is wondering if it is possible to spread Krsna consciousness in Yugoslavia?

Srila Prabhupada: Everywhere possible.

MADHUDVISA: But these countries are all under Communist rule. It is very difficult in those countries.

Srila Prabhupada: Not difficult. Nothing is difficult. For the time being it is difficult but in due course of time it will be very easy. Now who knew that in Europe and America or all over the world Hare Krsna will go on? Bon Maharaja left the field; others left the field. You see? Other swamis came. They talked all nonsense, yoga, this and that, nose pressing, eyes pressing — they are all finished. Now Hare Krsna is going on. Now people, the nose-presser and eyes-presser, they are no more important. Is it not? Eh? Now our men go and challenge these rascals. And in New York they did it.

Conversations, Vol.10, Melbourne, July 2, 1974

* * *

Modeling beliefs

The strength of a teacher’s beliefs about particular subjects is sometimes demonstrated by how much time and emphasis he assigns to that subject. Such teacher behavior (e.g., more time or more excitement) will subtly communicate to students what the teacher considers important.

Preaching, book distribution, prasadam distribution, and many other focal points of ISKCON became so, not only because of Srila Prabhupada’s direct words, but because his attitude toward them was expressed by his behavior. He was thrilled when books were produced, translated, and distributed. He said that book distribution gave him life. He showed pride in his disciples’ bold preaching attempts in Communist countries, and he insisted that even inimical guests take prasadam before leaving his company. Teachers naturally model the way they think about a subject, so they should become aware of what they are communicating to their students.

What beliefs can you infer from the conversation below?

Srila Prabhupada: There is one bead bag lying for three hundred years there. Whose? He has taken initiation. He does not know where is the bead bag? Just see.

Karandhara: On the heater there’s someone’s beads.

Srila Prabhupada: So I saw it was lying in the bathroom. Then I brought it here, and it’s still lying unused. Whose it is?

BHAGAVAN: It is mine.

Srila Prabhupada: You are so forgetful?

BHAGAVAN: No, I was looking for them.

Srila Prabhupada: Why? Why did you . . . ?

BHAGAVAN: I left them on your bathroom door, I think.

Srila Prabhupada: Yes. Hmmm. So this kind of leadership will not make any solution, if you do not know what is the real goal.

Conversations, Vol.10, Paris, June 13, 1974

* * *

Modeling curiosity and interest in learning

By the very nature of their service, teachers are committed to learning. This commitment should come across in their classroom behavior. They should model not only a specific interest in curriculum subject matter, but a general commitment to learning and knowledge.

One important situation in which teachers can show their commitment to learning is in responding to students’ questions, especially the spontaneous questions that a student may ask. Questions from the class are a sign of interest in the topic. They indicate that a student is thinking. Spontaneous questions also indicate a “teachable moment,” when students are open to learning.

Devotee: Swamiji, if all things here are a reflection of what is perfect in the spiritual world, then shouldn’t hate and frustration and despair and prejudice also appear in the spiritual world?

Srila Prabhupada: Yes.

Devotee: Does it?

Srila Prabhupada: Yes.

Devotee: Aren’t they bad?

Srila Prabhupada: But that frustration has no disappointment. (Laughter.) That is the beauty. Just like Lord Caitanya is manifesting that spiritual frustration, “Oh, Krsna, I could not see You.” He’s jumping into the sea in frustration. But that frustration is the highest perfection of love. Yes. Everything is there. But without inebriety. You are very intelligent boy. I thank you. Yes. Yes.

Conversations, Vol. 1, New York, April 11, 1969

* * *

As questions are expressed, teachers should respond in a way that shows questions are not viewed as threats, but are welcomed and valued. The question can first be acknowledged or praised: “That’s a good question, Krsna dasa. It does seem foolish that we’d leave Krsna in the spiritual world.” Then the teacher can attempt to answer the question or can refer it to the class for discussion: “How about it, class? Why would a soul leave Krsna instead of staying in Goloka Vrndavana?”

The teacher can also reinforce curiosity and interest in learning through the asides and comments made in passing during class conversations. Without belaboring the point unnecessarily, the teacher can get across to the class that he regularly studies the Srimad Bhagavatam, appreciates how sweetly the Deities appear, and participates in and appreciates other transcendental pursuits (“Last night I read in the Bhagavatam . . . ,” or “I can’t get the Deities out of my mind since I saw Them this morning”). A teacher thus makes his students aware that he thinks carefully about his life and shows evidence of an active, inquiring Krsna conscious mind.

Socialization through modeling

Teachers socialize their students through modeling. That is, they shape the values, attitudes, and behavioral standards that their students adopt. Students’ ideas about appropriate behavior and about how they should look upon themselves and others are affected by what they see when they observe their teachers. If you wish your students to become gentle and concerned, you must model gentle and concerned behavior.

Srila Prabhupada: Where is that girl, Saradiya? Here is a nice girl. You see. And where is your husband? Oh, why are you so skinny?

SARADIYA: Prabhupada, he just got over jaundice. In Bombay.

Devotee: In Bombay he had jaundice.

Srila Prabhupada: Oh. So give him sugar candy water. Bring in the morning. You know sugar candy? Soak sugar candy at night in a glass, and the first business in the morning you should take that glass of sugar candy water.

SARADIYA: He is doing all that now.

Srila Prabhupada: Ah. And he should not at all take ghee. No fat preparations. And if possible secure papaya, raw papaya, green, and boil it. These are medicine for jaundice. He is inside this room? He has come back?

Conversations, Vol. 3, Vrindaban, October 15, 1972


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Srila Prabhupada’s Concluding Words


A talk on Sri Rama-ekadasi, November 6, 1996, in Pune, India, by Giriraj Swami

We are gathered here in the auspicious month of Kartik, which is also known as Damodara. Srila Prabhupada wrote in The Nectar of Devotion that just as Lord Damodara is very dear to His devotees, so the month of Damodara is also dear to them. And in the month of Kartik, in the year 1974, Srila Prabhupada completed his translation of Sri Caitanya-caritamrta, in Juhu, Bombay.

When Srila Prabhupada was in Bombay, we used to go to his quarters every morning after mangala-arati, because at around six o’clock he would go for his morning walk. One morning Harikesa Prabhu, Srila Prabhupada’s secretary at the time, greeted us at the door. He was very excited and said, “Last night Srila Prabhupada finished translating Sri Caitanya-caritamrta. And he dictated the most wonderful glorification of his spiritual master.” Harikesa said that Srila Prabhupada was feeling blissful and that he had instructed that we celebrate the occasion with a feast.

So, the exact anniversary of Srila Prabhupada’s completion of the translation of Sri Caitanya-caritamrta falls some time between the night of Ekadasi and the morning of Dvadasi.

Srila Prabhupada ki jaya! Sri Caitanya-caritamrta ki jaya!

At the end of Sri Caitanya-caritamrta, Srila Krsnadasa Kaviraja Gosvami concludes:

‘ami likhi’, eha mithya kari anumana
amara sarira kastha-putali-samana

“I infer that ‘I have written’ is a false understanding, for my body is like a wooden doll.” (Cc Antya 20.92)

anipuna vani apane nacite na jane
yata nacaila, naci’ karila visrame

“My inexperienced words do not know how to dance by themselves. The mercy of the guru made them dance.” (Cc Antya 20.149)

Now we shall read from Srila Prabhupada’s Concluding Words at the end of Sri Caitanya-caritamrta:

“Today, Sunday, November 10, 1974 corresponding to the 10th of Kartika, Caitanya Era 488, the eleventh day of the dark fortnight, the Rama-ekadasi we have now finished the English translation of Sri Krsnadasa Kaviraja Gosvami’s Sri Caitanya-caritamrta in accordance with the authorized order of His Divine Grace Srila Bhaktisiddhanta Sarasvati Thakura Gosvami Maharaja, my beloved eternal spiritual master, guide, and friend. Although according to material vision His Divine Grace Srila Bhaktisiddhanta Sarasvati Thakura Prabhupada passed away from this material world on the last day of December 1936, I still consider His Divine Grace to be always present with me by his vani, his words.”

The theme of the Concluding Words of Sri Caitanya-caritamrta is Srila Prabhupada’s relationship with his spiritual master and his service to his spiritual master. But what he really discusses is service to the spiritual master in separation vani-seva.

Sometimes people think that physical proximity to the spiritual master is an indication of special mercy or good fortune, and in one sense it may be. But the real essence of the relationship with the spiritual master is service to his instructions. And service to the instructions does not depend on physical presence. In the Concluding Words, Srila Prabhupada explains how he translated Sri Caitanya-caritamrta following the order of his spiritual master. Even though Srila Bhaktisiddhanta Sarasvati Thakura was no longer present from the material point of view, he was present by his instructions, and Srila Prabhupada was connected to him by following them.

“There are two ways of association by vani and by vapuh. Vani means words, and vapuh means physical presence. Physical presence is sometimes appreciable and sometimes not, but vani continues to exist eternally. Therefore we must take advantage of the vani, not the physical presence. Bhagavad-gita, for example, is the vani of Lord Krsna. Although Krsna was personally present five thousand years ago and is no longer physically present from the materialistic point of view, Bhagavad-gita continues.”

Lord Krishna spoke the Bhagavad-gita to Arjuna five thousand years ago. He was personally present to speak the Bhagavad-gita, but even though from the material point of view Krishna is no longer physically present, His words the Bhagavad-gita continue to exist. And if we take advantage of His instructions in the Bhagavad-gita, we can experience His presence.

Still, we should not conclude that because Lord Krishna or Srila Prabhupada is present in the form of transcendental sound, we do not need a personal link to the previous acharyas and Krishna. By the direct instruction of the spiritual master, one gets one’s life’s mission. And after one gets one’s life’s mission, one dedicates one’s life and soul to following the instruction.

“In this connection, we may call to memory the time when I was fortunate enough to meet His Divine Grace Srila Prabhupada, sometime in the year 1922. Srila Prabhupada had come to Calcutta from Sridhama Mayapur to start the missionary activities of the Gaudiya Matha. He was sitting in a house at Ulta Danga when through the inducement of an intimate friend, the late Sriman Narendranatha Mallika, I had the opportunity to meet His Divine Grace for the first time. I do not remember the actual date of the meeting, but at that time I was one of the managers of Dr. Bose’s laboratory in Calcutta. I was a newly married young man, addicted to Gandhi’s movement and dressed in khadi. Fortunately, even at our first meeting, His Divine Grace advised me to preach the cult of Sri Caitanya Mahaprabhu in English in the Western countries. Because at that time I was a complete nationalist, a follower of Mahatma Gandhi’s, I submitted to His Divine Grace that unless our country were freed from foreign subjugation, no one would hear the message of Sri Caitanya Mahaprabhu seriously. Of course, we had some argument on this subject, but at last I was defeated and convinced that Sri Caitanya Mahaprabhu’s message is the only panacea for suffering humanity.”

Srila Prabhupada told us that many sadhus used to visit his father’s home but that he was usually not satisfied with them. He knew one who used to don the dress of a sadhu in the morning just to go and beg. “What is the use of such sadhus?” Srila Prabhupada would ask. So, when his friend Narendranatha Mallika suggested that he meet Srila Bhaktisiddhanta Sarasvati Thakura, he initially refused: “What is the use of meeting another sadhu? I have already seen enough of them.” But in the end, he agreed.

Even in his youth, Srila Prabhupada was the leader of his group of contemporaries, and they wouldn’t be satisfied until Srila Prabhupada had met Srila Bhaktisiddhanta and given his approval. Anyway, Srila Prabhupada agreed to meet him, and at their very first meeting Srila Bhaktisiddhanta Sarasvati Thakura asked Srila Prabhupada to preach Lord Chaitanya’s message throughout the world. Srila Prabhupada argued that India was still dominated by foreign rule. Even less-advanced countries like China were independent, but not India. Srila Prabhupada questioned, “Who will listen to us when we are still a dependent nation?” But Srila Bhaktisiddhanta Sarasvati Thakura countered that the message of Sri Chaitanya Mahaprabhu was eternal and had nothing to do with relative material conditions like political dependence or independence. Somehow Srila Prabhupada was defeated, yet he was happy to have been defeated by his spiritual master.

“At last I was defeated and convinced that the message of Sri Caitanya Mahaprabhu is the only panacea for suffering humanity. I was also convinced that the message of Sri Caitanya Mahaprabhu was then in the hands of a very expert devotee and that surely the message of Sri Caitanya Mahaprabhu would spread all over the world. I could not, however, immediately take up his instructions to preach, but I took his words very seriously and was always thinking of how to execute his order, although I was quite unfit to do so.”

At the very first meeting, Srila Prabhupada got the instruction, and although he was unable to take up the instruction at first, he always kept the instruction in his heart. And he was always waiting for the time when he would be able to take it up. Again, vani-seva.

“In this way I passed my life as a householder until 1950, when I retired from family life as a vanaprastha. With no companion, I loitered here and there until 1958, when I took sannyasa. Then I was completely ready to discharge the order of my spiritual master. Previously, in 1936, just before His Divine Grace passed away at Jagannatha Puri, I wrote him a letter asking what I could do to serve him. In reply, he wrote me a letter, dated 13 December 1936, ordering me, in the same way, to preach in English the cult of Sri Caitanya Mahaprabhu as I had heard it from him.”

Srila Prabhupada had received the order at the first meeting, and he received the same order again just before his guru maharaja passed away. In other words, Srila Bhaktisiddhanta Sarasvati Thakura reconfirmed the instruction he had given to Srila Prabhupada at their first meeting. Srila Prabhupada knew for sure that this was his life’s work.

“After he passed away, I started the fortnightly magazine Back to Godhead sometime in 1944 and tried to spread the cult of Sri Caitanya Mahaprabhu through this magazine.”

It is also auspicious that Back to Godhead has begun again in India, in Bombay, to further Srila Prabhupada’s mission to serve the order and fulfill the desires of his spiritual master.

“After I took sannyasa, a well-wishing friend suggested that I write books instead of magazines. Magazines, he said, might be thrown away, but books remain perpetually. Then I attempted to write Srimad-Bhagavatam. Before that, when I was a householder, I had written on Srimad Bhagavad-gita and had completed about eleven hundred pages, but somehow or other the manuscript was stolen. In any case, when I had published Srimad-Bhagavatam, First Canto, in three volumes in India, I thought of going to the U.S.A. By the mercy of His Divine Grace, I was able to come to New York on September 17, 1965. Since then, I have translated many books, including Srimad-Bhagavatam, Bhakti-rasamrta-sindhu, Teachings of Lord Caitanya (a summary), and many others.”

Srila Prabhupada received the instruction to preach the message of Chaitanya Mahaprabhu in English, so he was thinking how to execute the order and preach. He decided to start Back to Godhead magazine and, further, to translate books. So, he began to translate Bhagavad-gita As It Is and other works.

“In the meantime, I was induced to translate Sri Caitanya-caritamrta and publish it in an elaborate version. In his leisure time in later life, His Divine Grace Bhaktisiddhanta Sarasvati Thakura would simply read Caitanya-caritamrta. It was his favorite book. He used to say that there would be a time when foreigners would learn the Bengali language to read Caitanya-caritamrta. The work on this translation began about eighteen months ago. Now, by the grace of Sri Caitanya Mahaprabhu and His Divine Grace Bhaktisiddhanta Sarasvati Thakura, it is finished. In this connection I have to thank my American disciples, especially Sriman Pradyumna dasa Adhikari, Sriman Nitai dasa Adhikari, Sriman Jayadvaita dasa Brahmacari, and many other boys and girls who are sincerely helping me in writing, editing and publishing all these literatures.

“I think that His Divine Grace Bhaktisiddhanta Sarasvati Thakura is always seeing my activities and guiding me within my heart by his words. As it is said in Srimad-Bhagavatam, tene brahma hrda ya adi-kavaye. Spiritual inspiration comes from within the heart, wherein the Supreme Personality of Godhead, in His Paramatma feature, is always sitting with all His devotees and associates.”

Here Srila Prabhupada explains further how he received direction from his spiritual master. Of course, he received direction from his spiritual master in their personal meetings beginning with their first meeting, when Srila Bhaktisiddhanta Sarasvati Thakura instructed him to preach the message of Lord Chaitanya in the English language. And the same instruction was reconfirmed in his last letter, when Srila Bhaktisiddhanta Sarasvati Thakura again said to preach the message of Lord Chaitanya in English. But here Srila Prabhupada gives more insight into how the disciple can receive guidance from the spiritual master: from within the heart.

We know Uddhava’s prayer to Lord Krsna:

naivopayanty apacitim kavayas tavesa
brahmayusapi krtam rddha-mudah smarantah
yo ’ntar bahis tanu-bhrtam asubham vidhunvann
acarya-caittya-vapusa sva-gatim vyanakti

“O my Lord! Transcendental poets and experts in spiritual science could not fully express their indebtedness to You, even if they were endowed with the prolonged lifetime of Brahma, for You appear in two features externally as the acarya and internally as the Supersoul to deliver the embodied living being by directing him how to come to You.” (SB 11.29.6)

In his Concluding Words Srila Prabhupada explains that not only is the Lord sitting within the heart as Paramatma, but the Lord is not alone; He is sitting there with His associates and servants. The implication is that the Lord in the heart is sitting there with the spiritual master and that therefore one can get inspiration from the spiritual master within the heart. Of course, there are some conditions; it is not that everyone can get inspiration or direction from the spiritual master in the heart. The main qualification is that one should be free from material desires. One should have no desire except to serve the order of the spiritual master. And one should feel that if he cannot execute the order of the spiritual master, he should rather die. In other words, one should be prepared to lay down one’s life to execute the order of the spiritual master.

“It is to be admitted that whatever translation work I have done is through the inspiration of my spiritual master because personally I am most insignificant and incompetent to do this materially impossible work.”

Basically, Srila Prabhupada is saying that he was not capable of translating Sri Caitanya-caritamrta personally, but that he was inspired and guided by his spiritual master within the heart.

One newspaper reporter came to interview Srila Prabhupada, and Srila Prabhupada explained that actually he was not writing his books but that Krishna was writing them. One disciple wanted to make the idea easier for the reporter, so he offered that what Prabhupada meant was that Krishna was giving Prabhupada the intelligence to write the books. But Srila Prabhupada said, “No. Krishna personally writes them.”

Here Srila Prabhupada is giving further insight into his statement by explaining, “Yes, the Lord within the heart is there to give direction, but the Lord is not alone; He is accompanied by His devotees, and among the devotees is the spiritual master.” Srila Prabhupada feels that his spiritual master guided him in his translation of Sri Caitanya-caritamrta.

“I do not think myself a very learned scholar, but I have full faith in the service of my spiritual master, His Divine Grace Srila Bhaktisiddhanta Sarasvati Thakura. If there is any credit to my activities of translating, it is all due to His Divine Grace.”

Srila Prabhupada said, “If we try to do some service and take the credit for ourselves, there will be so many problems. But if we give the credit to Krishna, things will go nicely.”

“Certainly if His Divine Grace were physically present at this time, it would have been a great occasion for jubilation, but even though he is not physically present, I am confident that he is very pleased by this work of translation.”

Srila Prabhupada was envisioning that if his guru maharaja were physically present, it would have been a great occasion for jubilationthat Sri Caitanya-caritamrta had been rendered into English. But Srila Prabhupada feels confident that although his guru maharaja is not physically present, still he is pleased by this work of translation. In other words, even if his guru maharaja is not physically present, he is spiritually present and is aware of Srila Prabhupada’s activities. Earlier, Srila Prabhupada said that his guru maharaja wasalways seeing his activities, and now he says that he feels that his guru maharaja is pleased with his service of translating Sri Caitanya-caritamrta. The connection is alive and dynamic.

Now, if we hear about Srila Prabhupada’s intimate relationship with his spiritual master in separation, we may start to imagine that we have the same relationship with Srila Prabhupada and begin to speculate, “Srila Prabhupada wants this, and Srila Prabhupada is pleased.” But maybe Srila Prabhupada does not want this, and maybe Srila Prabhupada is not pleased. So, he brings us back to the practical platform, where the spiritual master directly says what he wants and shows when he is pleased not that we imagine that we are on the same platform as Srila Prabhupada and speculate, “Oh, my guru maharaja wants me to do this. My guru maharaja is very pleased with me.”

Srila Prabhupada continues, “He was very fond of seeing many books published to spread the Krsna consciousness movement.” He saw it, and everyone knew it. He was not speculating or imagining, but acting on what he saw and heard. Srila Bhaktisiddhanta was pleased to see books published to spread Krishna consciousness.

“Therefore our society, the International Society for Krsna consciousness, has formed to execute the order of Sri Caitanya Mahaprabhu and His Divine Grace Srila Bhaktisiddhanta Sarasvati Thakura.”

Once, Srila Prabhupada asked us in Calcutta, “What is the duty of the spiritual master, and what is the duty of the disciple?” Then he himself gave the answer: “The duty of the spiritual master is to serve Krishna, and the duty of the disciple is to assist the spiritual master.” He gave the example that the spiritual master has to serve Krishna and that part of the service is to clean the temple floor. So, when the disciple is washing the floor, he should think, “I am assisting my spiritual master in his service to Krishna.” But then again, we never serve Krishna directly. We always serve through our spiritual master. So, when we assist Srila Prabhupada in his service to Krishna, we are more directly assisting him in his service to his spiritual master, Srila Bhaktisiddhanta Sarasvati Thakura, and through disciplic succession, in service to Sri Chaitanya Mahaprabhu, or Krishna. Thus, the International Society for Krishna Consciousness has been formed to execute the order of Srila Bhaktisiddhanta Sarasvati and Sri Chaitanya Mahaprabhu, specifically in the matter of publishing and distributing transcendental knowledge.

“It is my wish that devotees of Lord Caitanya all over the world enjoy this translation, and I am glad to express my gratitude to the learned men in the Western countries who are so pleased with my work that they are ordering in advance all my books that will be published in the future.”

Professors and librarians placed standing orders for all of Srila Prabhupada’s books. They wanted them all even those not yet published. Here too Srila Prabhupada says that he wants us to relish his books, not just sell them.

“On this occasion, therefore, I request my disciples who are determined to help me in this work to continue their cooperation fully, so that philosophers, scholars, religionists, and people in general all over the world will benefit by reading our transcendental literatures such as Srimad-Bhagavatam and Sri Caitanya-caritamrta.”

Srila Prabhupada is requesting us to help him in his work of publication and distribution of transcendental literatures all over the world. And he mentions different categories of readers: philosophers and religionistsand people in general everyone, all over the world. He is asking us to help. Therefore, we should preach. And, as Srila Prabhupada indicated, there should be some result. Either people should chant Hare Krishna and change their lives, or they should give some money and take a book. When there are results, Srila Prabhupada is pleased in two ways: He is pleased that people are taking to Krishna consciousness, giving some money and taking some literature, chanting Hare Krishna and becoming devotees. And he is pleased that his servants are becoming purified, because preaching also purifies the preacher.

We often hear or say that we should practice what we preach. If we don’t practice what we preach, who will follow us? Srila Prabhupada said, “If you are smoking a cigarette and you tell someone, ‘Don’t smoke,’ how will he hear you?” And Srila Prabhupada specifically instructed that if we carefully chant at least sixteen rounds of the Hare Krishna maha-mantra daily and follow the four regulative principles, we will get sufficient strength to preach. But if we don’t chant sixteen rounds and follow the four regulative principles, we cannot expect to have the potency to impress the hearts of the audience. So, we should do both practice and preach. We don’t have to be very learned scholars or big tapasvis. Our little austerity is to chant sixteen rounds and follow the regulative principles not much. But that will give us sufficient strength and purity to preach and actually touch and move people.

“Thus end the Bhaktivedanta purports to Sri Caitanya-caritamrta, dated November 10, 1974, at the Bhaktivedanta Book Trust, Hare Krishna Land, Juhu, Bombay.”

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Srila Prabhupada’s Disappearance Day


By Giriraj Swami

We have gathered at the lotus feet of Srila Prabhupada on the auspicious occasion of his disappearance festival. When we were with His Divine Grace in Surat on his guru maharaja’s disappearance day, he remarked that on the absolute platform there is no difference between the appearance and disappearance of the spiritual master just like the sunrise and sunset, both are beautiful.

Srila Prabhupada always glorified Krsna as the Supreme Personality of Godhead, and he instructed everyone to take shelter of Krsna. Many people who came in touch with Srila Prabhupada were struck by this fact. George Harrison, for example, said that so many svamis and gurus tell their followers to surrender to them but that Srila Prabhupada always said, “Krsna is the Supreme Personality of Godhead; you should surrender to Him.”

Once, a new devotee approached Srila Prabhupada and said, “Srila Prabhupada, I can trust you; I can surrender to you. But I can’t trust your representatives. I can’t surrender to them, because I fear they may cheat me.” And Srila Prabhupada replied, “Don’t surrender to me either. I may also cheat you. Surrender to Krsna.”

aho baki yam stana-kala-kutam
jighamsayapayayad apy asadhvi
lebhe gatim dhatry-ucitam tato ’nyam
kam va dayalum saranam vrajema

“Alas, how shall I take shelter of one more merciful than He who granted the position of mother to a she-demon [Putana] although she was unfaithful and she prepared deadly poison to be sucked from her breast?” (SB 3.2.23)

In the beginning of devotional service an aspirant may think that he is a devotee, but as he makes progress he comes to realize that actually he is not a devotee. It is paradoxical: the neophyte thinks, “I am a devotee,” and the advanced devotee thinks, “I am not a devotee.” When we hear of Krsna’s mercy upon Putana, who was a demon, we may think, “Well, it is wonderful that He was so merciful to Putana, but at least I am not a demon; I am a devotee.” Yet although we are aspiring devotees I don’t say that we are not devotees, but at least we can say that we are aspiring devotees we do have some qualities in common with Putana.

One quality mentioned is jighamsaya she acted out of envy. We are in the material world out of envy of Krsna. We don’t want to accept Him as the supreme enjoyer; we want to enjoy independent of Him. That means we are envious of Him, and it is actually envy that keeps us in the material world. Only one who is completely liberated and pure can be free from envy. Srinivasa Acarya glorifies the Six Gosvamis of Vrndavana, dhiradhira-jana-priyau: they are dear both to the gentle and to the ruffians. Dhira means one who is sober, who does not identify with the body but knows that he is the soul within (dhiras tatra na muhyati). He is dhira sober, gentle, undisturbed. And adhira is the opposite one who identifies with the body, or, as in the translation of this verse, a ruffian. So, the Six Gosvamis are popular with both the gentle and the ruffians. They are pleasing to everyone because they are not envious of anyone, and thus they are worshipable. Dhiradhira-jana-priyau priya-karau nirmatsarau pujitau. They are nonenvious (nirmatsarau) and thus worshipable (pujitau). Srila Prabhupada explains that one who is nonenvious is worshipable because one can be nonenvious only if he is a pure devotee. Anyone other than a pure devotee must still be affected by envy. Our natural position is to serve Krsna (jivera ‘svarupa’ haya krsnera ‘nitya-dasa’). If we act as anything other than an eternal servant of Krsna, it means that we have not fully realized our actual position and that our original envy of Krsna, which brought us into the material world, is still, to some degree, lingering.

After starting his mission in New York and San Francisco, Srila Prabhupada suffered a stroke, and after all efforts to recover in America had failed, he decided to return to India to recoup his health. Before his departure, he visited the San Francisco temple. No one had expected him, in his condition, to speak, but he asked for the microphone. He spoke about his mission, how under the order of his spiritual master he had brought Lord Caitanya’s movement to America and how Krsna had kindly sent so many sincere souls. He told the devotees, “I have a few children in India from my family days, but you are my real children. Now I am going to India for a little while.”

One of Srila Prabhupada’s early disciples from San Francisco suddenly entered the room. The devotees knew that he wanted to leave Krsna consciousness, that he hadn’t taken his initiation vows seriously, and that he wanted to move on he didn’t want a spiritual master any more. The other devotees tried to discourage him, but he had persisted. Now they were incredulous: how could he do such a thing on the night before Swamiji’s departure?

The devotee, Ravindra-svarupa*, fell to the floor to offer obeisances, but he didn’t rise up. Instead, he began crawling on his hands and knees toward Prabhupada. This dramatic encounter is vividly described in Srila Prabhupada-lilamrta: “Ravindra usually had a cavalier manner, enhanced by a handsome face, long tousled hair, and a beard. But now he was wretched and sobbing and crazy. He crawled towards Prabhupada, who sat but two steps off the floor on the simple redwood dais. Prabhupada looked at him with compassion: ‘Come here, my boy.’ Ravindra crawled up the steps and placed his bushy head on Prabhupada’s lap. Moved, the devotees watched as Prabhupada stroked Ravindra’s head and the boy cried and cried.

“ ‘What’s wrong, my son? You don’t have to be so unhappy.’

“Ravindra bawled out, ‘I want . . . ,’ he sobbed, ‘aah . . . to . . . aah . . . reach God directly! Without anyone in between!’

“Prabhupada continued to pat and stroke the boy’s head: ‘No, you continue to stay with us if possible. Don’t be a crazy fellow.’ Ravindra’s weeping subsided, and Prabhupada continued, speaking both to Ravindra and to the emotion-struck group in the room. ‘I am an old man,’ he said. ‘I may die at any moment. But please, you all carry on this sankirtana movement. You have to become humble and tolerant. As Lord Caitanya says, be as humble as a blade of grass and more tolerant than a tree. You must have enthusiasm and patience to push on this Krsna conscious philosophy.’

“Suddenly Ravindra’s tears were gone. He jumped up, dejectedly stood, hesitating for a moment, and then hurried out the door, banging it behind him.

“Ravindra-svarupa’s dramatic exit from Krsna consciousness shocked the devotees. Prabhupada sat still and continued speaking to them gravely, asking them to stick together and push on the movement, for their own benefit and for others. Whatever they had learned, he said, they should repeat.

“They realized, perhaps for the first time, that they were part of a preaching mission, a movement. They . . . had a loving obligation to Swamiji and Krsna.”

Although that disciple’s exhibition might have been extreme, in principle he is no different from many of us. We also don’t want anyone between us and Krsna. We don’t want to surrender; we want to be Krsna. But by Prabhupada’s mercy we have been engaged in devotional service and are undertaking the process of purification chanting the holy names, hearing Srimad-Bhagavatam, associating with devotees, worshiping the Deity, and as far as possible residing in Mathura, Vrndavana, Mayapur, or any temple of Gaura-Nitai or Radha-Krsna.

Putana was asadhvi, unfaithful. And she pretended to be something that she was not. She was actually a demon, but by her mystic powers she presented herself as a very beautiful woman. When she entered the village of Gokula she appeared so beautiful and effulgent that people thought that Laksmi, the goddess of fortune herself, had come. So when she entered the house of Nanda Maharaja and Yasodamayi, no one stopped her. She was so beautiful and effulgent that they thought she was some higher being. Actually, she was a she-demon, and she came to kill Krsna.

Of course, it is not entirely wrong to present oneself as something that one is not. Sometimes, for social reasons, we must, but internally we should remain faithful. The problem is that internally sometimes we become unfaithful (asadhvi). We want to surrender we decide to surrender but then we take back our surrender. It happens all the time. We surrender decide to surrender and then withdraw our surrender. We are not sure whether we should surrender. We are not sure whether the process will work, whether we will get the result. We are not sure whether we will be successful in our attempt. We are not sure whether Krsna will take care of us. We are not sure our desires will be fulfilled.

Ultimately, it comes to faith (sraddha), upon which all progress depends.

‘sraddha’-sabde visvasa kahe sudrdha niscaya
krsne bhakti kaile sarva-karma krta haya

“Sraddha is confident, firm faith that by rendering transcendental loving service to Krsna one automatically performs all subsidiary activities. Such faith is favorable to the discharge of devotional service.” (Cc Madhya 22.62)

Even in Srila Prabhupada’s presence devotees did not always understand him. Most of the people who joined Srila Prabhupada were young, in their late teens or early twenties, and it was years before any of them left his or her body. The first I recall was Jaya Gopala dasa, who lost his life in an automobile accident. His young wife was distraught, and Srila Prabhupada assured her that Jaya Gopala had gone back to Godhead and that she would join him. A godbrother commented that Srila Prabhupada had said that just to encourage her.

Then I came across a book called His Divine Grace, by Danavir Goswami. Looking through it I saw a photo of Jaya Gopala, with the caption: “Srila Prabhupada stated that Jaya Gopala was not ready to go back to Godhead but that Krsna made an exception and took him back anyway.” That is causeless mercy Prabhupada’s mercy. Krsna has no interest in anything of the material world. He is interested only in devotees. And it is only because of the mercy of a devotee that Krsna takes interest in someone who is not yet truly a devotee. Why else would Krsna make an exception for us other than Prabhupada’s mercy? Otherwise, who is Jaya Gopala dasa or any of us to Krsna? It is because of our connection with Srila Prabhupada that we have any standing in Krsna’s eyes.

Of course, Krsna is the Supersoul. He is in the heart of every living entity as the witness and overseer. And He loves the living entities and accompanies them wherever they go. But He is neutral. He lets them act to fulfill their desires. He doesn’t interfere. However, when a devotee intervenes, Krsna takes special interest. One who has received a devotee’s mercy gets Krsna’s mercy, and that is true of all of us, your followers, now. Otherwise, why should we be engaged in devotional service? We are just conditioned souls who have come into the material world to enjoy, in imitation of Krsna. Why should we even be in Krsna’s temple? We are here by Srila Prabhupada’s mercy, and thus we are making the effort to purify our hearts, hearing Srimad-Bhagavatam and chanting the holy names, and become true devotees.

Satsvarupa dasa Gosvami told me a nice story a realization or thought that he had had. It relates to Srila Prabhupada’s mercy and leads to the conclusion kam va dayalum saranam vrajema: “How shall I take shelter of one more merciful?” In other words, “He is so merciful; how can I find anyone more merciful? How can I take shelter of anyone else?”

Sometimes it happens that Srila Prabhupada’s followers meet saintly persons outside of ISKCON. One year, Satsvarupa Maharaja went to Jagannatha Puri, during the holy month of Purusottama, to spend some time with one such sadhu. But while there, Satsvarupa Maharaja felt uncomfortable; he didn’t feel at home in that association. He felt that Srila Prabhupada had created ISKCON to be his home and that he could feel at home only in ISKCON nowhere else.

Then he went a step further. He imagined a time when he would leave his body and come to the precincts of Krsnaloka and the gatekeeper would ask him, “Who are you?” He suddenly became fearful, thinking that he was taking a gamble by turning himself into a siksa disciple of that sadhu rather than remaining an exclusive disciple of Srila Prabhupada. He wasn’t sure exactly what his relationship with that sadhu was or how that sadhu would relate to Krsna on his behalf.

Then he imagined a different sequence. In this one, when the gatekeeper asked, “Who are you?” he would reply, “I am Satsvarupa dasa, a disciple of His Divine Grace A. C. Bhaktivedanta Swami Prabhupada.” Then he imagined the gatekeeper going to Srila Prabhupada and asking, “Satsvarupa has come to the gate What should we do?” And he imagined that Srila Prabhupada would say, “Satsvarupa? My Satsvarupa? Call him immediately.”

To me, this provides a striking picture of Srila Prabhupada and his mercy, and it serves to answer the rhetorical question “How shall I take shelter of one more merciful than he?” For us, there is no one more merciful. There is no need to take shelter of anyone else, and there will be no gain if we leave him to take shelter of anyone else.

Two years ago I had the good fortune to meet Srila Prabhupada’s disciple Narayani dasi again. I hadn’t seen her for many years, and then at a japa workshop here, I met her, and she told me a story that she had heard. Srila Prabhupada was giving a talk in which he said that in order to go back home, back to Godhead, one must be cent percent pure, cent percent free of material desires and attachments. When Prabhupada saw that the devotees were discouraged, he said, “All right, 90%.” Still they were dejected. Then he said, “All right, 80%.” Still they were crestfallen. Then he said, “All right, 75% but not less.”

After the talk, Srila Prabhupada commented, “If you just hold on to my lotus feet, I will take you back to Godhead. I have the key to the back door.”

Once, I heard that Srila Prabhupada had said, “Your qualification is that I give an instruction . . .” I thought the rest of the sentence would be “and you follow it,” but the statement was “Your qualification is that I give you an instruction and you try to follow it.” Not even that we follow it just that we try to follow it.

(Of course, we must try sincerely and seriously, by all means, with all of our energy and resources.)

In our japa retreats we emphasize chanting with attention, without offense. We encourage devotees to pronounce each syllable distinctly and hear each syllable attentively. To chant inattentively is an offense. So, I thought of my initiation letter Srila Prabhupada sent it to me in Boston from Los Angeles in which he instructed me to avoid the ten offenses. And I thought, “Oh, my God, that was practically the first instruction I got from Srila Prabhupada the one I got when I was initiated and now, thirty-six years later, I still haven’t been able to follow it, which is another offense: to disobey the orders of the spiritual master.” So I thought, “I am just drowning in offenses.” And then I thought, “I better reread that letter, to try to get some strength and inspiration.” I reread it, and there was the instruction: “You should avoid the ten offenses as far as possible.” Srila Prabhupada was so merciful he knew that I couldn’t avoid them completely. So he saved me from the offense of disobeying his order, by writing “as far as possible.”

So that is our qualification, according to Srila Prabhupada. And that is our hope. If we sincerely try to follow his instructions strictly if we just hold on to his lotus feet he will do the rest. He will take us back home, back to Godhead.

Hare Krsna.

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“That night, Srila Prabhupada called me. I was attending Srila Prabhupada – actually one of us used to always be with Srila Prabhupada for two hours. My shift was 12am-2am. So it must have been around 1am. Srila Prabhupada called me, and told me: “The time has come for me to leave this planet, therefore you should make arrangement to take me to Vrindavan immediately.” He wanted to leave his body in Vrindavan. I was completely shocked, and immediately ran downstairs to wake up Tamal Krishna Maharaj.”

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In this article, Suhotra Swami discusses various approaches to acquiring knowledge. He examines this phenomena in terms of the three pramanas (pratyaksa, anumana and sabda), which are the recognised sources of knowledge in the Vaisnava tradition. Suhotra Swami explains that in Vaisnava epistemology sabda (hearing from an authoritative source) is accorded the greatest regard. He examines the methods of direct perception and logical argument and offers an interesting analysis of their limitations in comparison to sabda as a source of infallible and transcendental knowledge.


By Suhotra Swami

‘How can I be certain that what you are telling me is true?’ Every thinking person asks, and is asked, this question. Vedic philosophy arrives at certitude through pramana, which refers to sources of knowledge that are held to be valid. In the Brahma-Madhva-Gaudiya Sampradaya, the school of Vedic knowledge that ISKCON represents, there are three pramanas: pratyaksa (direct perception), anumana (logical argument) and sabda (authoritative testimony). Of these, sabda is imperative, while pratyaksa and anumana are supportive. Therefore, when a devotee of Krsna is asked about the certainty of his beliefs he usually answers by quoting authority: guru (the spiritual master), sastra (the Vedic scriptures) and sadhu (other devotees respected for their realisation of the teachings of guru and sastra).
In Western schools of thought, citing authority to certify what we say doesn’t seem to count for much any more. There is a Latin phrase for this kind of proof, ipse dixit (‘he himself has said it’), which is the answer that disciples of an ancient Greek sage used to give whenever an opponent called the sage’s doctrine into question. The problem modern thinkers have with ipse dixit is that its evidence lies only in words. And words alone don’t prove anything.

Lucy in the land of Narnia C. S. Lewis, in The Chronicles of Narnia, illustrates the modern difficulty with ipse dixit proof. In the story, an odd thing happens to Lucy, the youngest of four children visiting the large, eccentric home of an elderly professor: she passes through the back of a clothes closet into another land called Narnia. When Lucy returns and relates her experience to her brothers and sister, they conclude that her senses had to have been mysteriously deluded. The children finally bring the matter before an authority, the professor himself. His decision is that because Lucy is not known to be a liar, nor mad, she must be telling the truth. Lucy’s brother Peter still cannot believe it. He argues that the other children found no strange land through the back of the closet.

‘What’s that got to do with it?’ the professor asks.’Well, Sir, if things are real, they are there all the time.’

‘Are they?’

‘But do you really mean, Sir,’ demands Peter, ‘that there could be other worlds – all over the place, just around the corner – like that?”Nothing is more probable,’ the professor replies. [1]

In a modernist analysis of the story, Peter probably would be called a reasonable young man who was right to doubt his hyper-imaginative sister Lucy. As for the professor, bless him, he must be well into his second childhood. Modernists similarly compare the Vedic description of worlds other than ours to the fantasies of children and dotty senior citizens. Just because some devotee saw something he thought was the spiritual world and his guru, by referring to some old book, confirmed his disciple saw the spiritual world, doesn’t make the existence of the spiritual world certain. Another Latin phrase sums up the modernist outlook: de omnibus dubitandum (‘doubt is everything’). This was coined by René Descartes (1596-1650), often called the father of modern philosophy.

As every student of European philosophy knows, Descartes doubted what he perceived with his senses; he also questioned the ipse dixit authority of his education in the Greek classics. From out of these doubts arose a certitude about his own being, which he expressed in his famous maxim, ‘I think, therefore I am’. Oxford philosopher A. J. Ayer explains, ‘The sense in which I cannot doubt the statement that I think is just that my doubting entails its truth: and in the same sense I cannot doubt that I exist.’ (Ayer, 1956:45)

The modern method of thought

Doubt itself, then, formed Descartes’ immediate, indubitable data. From there he doubted his way to an understanding of the external world, questioning at every step both his senses and the teachings of previous authorities. His method looks natural and normal to people today, but for his time it was a radical break from the Medieval intellectual tradition. Descartes’ method of systematic doubt marks the starting point of scientific rationalism.

What would Descartes do with Lucy’s story of Narnia? As he himself wrote, ‘In our search for the direct road to truth, we should busy ourselves with no object about which we cannot attain a certitude equal to that of the demonstrations of arithmetic and geometry.’ (Descartes, 1701) In other words, the reality of a thing is to be certified by a system of logical proof (anumana), like geometry. It is not enough just for Lucy to see Narnia (pratyaksa), or even get authoritative confirmation that she saw it (sabda). If anumana certifies it, then Narnia exists even if Peter can’t see it or didn’t learn about it in school. If anumana doesn’t certify it, Narnia doesn’t exist, no matter what Lucy saw or the professor says.
As physicist Paul Davies points out, Descartes’ method of analytic geometry is a historical antecedent to today’s quantum physics, which also promotes anumana over sabda and pratyaksa. (Davies, 1992:166) Like Descartes, the modern scientist relies upon a system of mathematical logic to decide what is real and what is not. And, like Descartes, he asserts that mathematical proof overrides even direct perception. The old adage, ‘seeing is believing’, is out the window. We cannot see quarks, black holes or space-time worms, but the calculations tell us they exist – therefore they are certain.

The quantum Narnia As many of us may know from popular science magazines and pocketbooks, quantum theory mathematically proposes the existence of ‘alternative worlds’ that influence our own. (Davies, 1988:67) For example, suppose Lucy drops her claim of having directly seen Narnia and instead tells her siblings, ‘Physicists say that the structure of everything rests upon mathematical laws. They also say there are unlimited other universes in mathematical dimensions. Given the infinite possibilities involved, I am completely certain that in one of these other parallel universes is a place called Narnia.’

The professor concurs that she is right. Still Peter protests, ‘Do you really mean, Sir, that there could be other worlds – all over the place, just around the corner – like that?’

‘Nothing is more probable,’ the professor replies.

‘Peter,’ Lucy chimes in, ‘you should pay attention to the professor now. This is no fairy tale. It’s science. You were right to be dubious about the original form of my Narnia tale. But throw in a little physics and hey presto. It’s rather tame, actually. We’ve heard so much about the quirky quantum world that by the mid-1990’s, Narnia is just cold pudding.’

Many educated people today would tend to agree with Lucy. But Peter remains dubious that the quantamised tale of Narnia is any more credible. These are his reasons: ‘Even if I say I believe you now, I still don’t get to see Narnia for myself. Quantum physics says that the alternative worlds are completely disconnected from each other. Communication between them is impossible. An individual cannot leave one world and visit another, nor can we even glimpse what life is like in all those other worlds. (Davies, 1988:137) Not only can’t you show me Narnia, you can’t even give me a solid reason for believing that Narnia exists, because as a kid I’ll never be able to work out the mathematics for myself. Admit it Sir, you’re asking me to swallow the same old ipse dixit proof as before!’

His voice kind and fatherly, the professor patiently says, ‘Peter, settle down. In the original tale of Narnia, Lucy’s only evidence was her direct perception. We can’t trust that because, after all, she’s only human. But logic is more developed than perception. Therefore the quantum explanation is superior. Since your perception is also untrustworthy, you’re not able to use it to question logic and mathematics. Even if you can’t understand the quantum method of logic, it has an authority of its own, different from ipse dixit proof.’

‘Are you telling me the quantum Narnia has the certain authority of truth?’

‘Peter, I said nothing could be more probable. I didn’t guarantee that it is true. The point is that scientific logic has its own authority that is worth your while to listen to and follow, young man.’

‘No doubt, Sir, scientific logic is more developed than the simple words of a little girl, but it seems to me that you’re the one missing the point. If we simply believe scientific theories without verifying whether they are true, we grant the scientists testimonial authority over our lives, not just theoretical authority. Theoretical authority means I’m giving you a hearing just for argument’s sake; I may accept what you say or not. But testimonial authority supposes you to be speaking real facts that I, as a schoolboy, ought to take seriously if I want knowledge. You admit you cannot guarantee that what you are saying about Narnia is true, there is no evidence by direct perception that Narnia is real, yet still you expect me to grant you testimonial authority. But how can I be certain that what you are telling me is true?’
Self-evident authority To summarise, Peter and the professor disagree whether logic has authority. The professor’s position is that if a statement is backed up by scientific logic (which he admits is not necessarily true), it has authority and should be accepted as testimony. Peter argues that logic in itself does not have the certain authority of truth. He accuses the professor, and modern science, of requiring schoolchildren like himself to believe in theories about unseen things like Narnia as if they were true. This is just the sort of ipse dixit authority that Descartes rejected.

Peter’s objection to the authority of logic is well worth marking. A notorious problem of modern systems of reason is that their claims to authority are beyond reason. For example, what is the reason for the professor’s argument that logic is the better method to certitude? The professor admits that logic does not guarantee truth. He speaks in terms of probability instead. But if the truth cannot really be guaranteed through logic, then how can we establish whether something is even true? Therefore, the professor’s argument for logical certification of knowledge is not at all reasonable. [2] If his reason for the authority of logic is without reason, he is not really making an argument. Rather, he is putting forward an axiom: ‘Logic has authority because I say so.’

Why should we accept his axiom because he says so? This is the essence of Peter’s challenge. In the same way, the reason for granting authority to sense perception (pratyaksa) cannot be defended from sense perception itself. Our senses are limited. They cannot prove that there is no reality beyond their limits of perception. Thus there is no firm reason for giving final authority to sense perception in questions of certitude.

Like Peter, Vedic pramana distinguishes between logic and testimonial authority. The word sabda means ‘sound’, but the sabda that is cited as authoritative Vedic testimony is sabda-brahmana, spiritual sound. It is in a category by itself, distinct from anumana (logic) and pratyaksa (direct perception). Spiritual sound, as opposed to ordinary sound, is svatah-pramana. That means its authority is self-evident; it does not derive it from another pramana. Srimad-Bhagavatam (6.3.19) points out the essential difference between speech that carries self-evident authority, and speech that does not.

dharmam tu saksad bhagavat-pranitam
na vai vidur rsayo napi devah
na siddha-mukhya asura manusyah
kuto nu vidyadhara-caranadayah

‘Authoritative laws of religion (dharma) are those directly spoken by the Supreme Personality of Godhead. Even the great sages in the higher planets cannot ascertain the real religious principles, nor can the demigods or the leaders of Siddhaloka, to say nothing of the asuras, ordinary human beings, Vidyadharas and Caranas.’

What Krsna says has the full authority of truth. Krsna Himself is the Supreme Truth, the Param Brahman. Bhagavad-gita (10.12-3) states that great sages like Asita, Devala and Vyasa ‘confirm’ this truth. That does not mean that the truth Krsna speaks depends upon the confirmation of others. The sages confirm they know the truth by repeating what Krsna says. Thus they are also accepted in the Vedas as authorities whose words are always true, because their authority derives from Krsna. Apart from this, sages, demigods, angels, human beings and demons have no self-evident authority.

Similarly, sense perception and logic have no self-evident authority; they depend upon sabda. For instance, I perceive that people die. Logical doubt impels me to ask whether every human being, including myself, will also die. But my senses and mind cannot answer that with certitude. I must turn to authoritative testimony. After learning from this that I and everybody else will indeed die, logical doubt then forces me to ask, ‘what is the use of this life?’ As before, the senses and mind cannot give me a certain answer. Only sabda has that authority.

Anumana can help us form a logical basis for a belief in worlds other than our own, as quantum physics does. But logic cannot even bring us to the realisation, with complete certainty, of other worlds in a different material dimension, let alone the certain realisation of transcendental worlds in the spiritual dimension (Vaikuntha). The spiritual dimension is self-evident only via the medium of sabda, pure Vedic sound as transmitted by Krsna and His authorised representatives. On the other hand, sound spoken by someone who has no self-evident authority, who does not refer to Krsna and who derives authority from pratyaksa and anumana, is not sabda. If we parrot such empty sound as ipse dixit evidence, it certifies nothing.

Problems of self-referential logic

Are we, who adhere to Vedic philosophy, being too credulous when we quote sabda as certain proof? Is there any rationality whatsoever in the concept of self-evident authority? Well, Descartes is still famous as a great rationalist. The central theme of his philosophy, the so-called Cartesian principle, is that anumana bears self-evident authority. He believed that the mind, by referring to itself alone, can arrive at the fundamental certainties of existence: I exist, God exists, and geometric logic is intrinsically superior to all other types of knowledge. Nowadays it is fashionable for philosophers to reject Descartes’ arguments for the existence of the soul and God, as simply a result of his Christian upbringing. Still, the basic theme of the Cartesian principle, that the mind must decide for itself what is true and what is not, is an almost obligatory dogma in the West. In Western philosophical language, truth that the mind finds within itself alone is called a priori, self-evident. [3] If the truth about everything is knowable only by logical doubt, then truly, de omnibus dubitandum, “doubt is everything.”

Descartes tried to establish his self-referential principle by equating thought (‘I think’) with the self (‘therefore I am’). To the Christian that he was, ‘I am’ meant ‘I am an eternal soul, different by my thought from matter’. His basis of certitude was formed by this sense of non-physical identity. From that basis, he devised his ‘indubitable’ Cartesianism. But all his maxim really says with any certitude is, ‘I am thinking now, therefore I exist now’. The self does not always engage in thought. Sometimes it is completely unconscious, as during dreamless sleep. If thought or logical doubt is the self’s nature, and thought is not always, then it does not follow that the self is always. ‘I think, therefore I am’ is no more or less valid a statement than ‘I sleep, therefore I am not’.’ Anumana, then, does not self-referentially establish a certain ground of eternal existence.

A second problem is that self-referential logic leads to paradox. Everyone who regularly uses a computer has experienced a ‘hang’, when the computer gets stuck in a function and cannot execute further commands. The only remedy is for the operator to reset the system. A ‘hang’ happens when the computer slips into a logical loop that keeps referring back to itself. In the same way, our minds slip into a logical loop as we consider Descartes’ own central theme: doubt is everything. If the statement is true, it is false, because by asserting that doubt is everything, it leaves no doubt about what everything is. But if it is false, then it is true, because the falsity of the statement provokes doubt in everything once more. Yet again, if it is true, it is false; but still, if it is false, it is true … on and on without end. There is no way out of the loop because the logic of the statement has only itself to refer to. This strongly suggests that for logic to be meaningful, it must be directed by truth beyond itself, just as a ‘hang’ must be reset by an operator external to the computer itself. Truth, then, is something beyond anumana.

A third problem is that Descartes himself could not put into practice the tenet of self-referential anumana. He did experiments to test his theories, resorting to observation (pratyaksa) to support his anumana.

I am not the mind

Descartes’ intentions were pious. With his maxim, ‘I think, therefore I am’, he offered everyone a simple method of self-realisation which he believed certified our identity as soul. He hoped his method of logical analysis would put religion on a rational footing. Unfortunately, his method does not really lead to self-realisation, because it confuses the soul with the mind.

Vedic sabda reveals truths the mind is unable to discern by referring to itself. One such truth is that the mind is a subtle material covering of consciousness, something like a cloud of smoke hanging around a flame that is not burning cleanly. The flame is comparable to the soul, for the flame spreads its light like the soul spreads consciousness. A flame that is not burning cleanly is like a soul in maya, the state of forgetfulness of Krsna. From the soul in maya, the mind arises, like smoke rising from a flame. Smoke and flame are closely associated yet have opposite qualities: flame gives light, while smoke obscures light.

The mind is called cancala in Sanskrit, meaning ‘unsteady’. Sometimes it is awake, sometimes it dreams, sometimes it is in a deep dreamless sleep. When the light of self-knowledge is obscured, wakefulness, dreaming and deep sleep delude consciousness. We therefore make such false statements as ‘I think’, ‘last night I dreamt’, ‘I was unconscious’, and so on. However, the flame of the self, the soul, burns eternally, unaffected by this clouding of its light. The unsteady mind is captivated by external sense impressions. Through the mind and senses, the soul’s attention is focused upon the ever-changing material world. This misdirection of consciousness (the power of the soul) turns samsara-cakra, the wheel of birth and death.

The mind, having no self-informing capacity, is misinformed by the imperfect senses. Illusioned by uncertain sense data, the mind makes mistakes. When in spite of this, we stubbornly think we’ve gained indubitable knowledge, we are cheated. For example, suppose you and I agree, on the basis of perception and logic, that ‘one plus one is two’ is an undisputed fact. We form a school of philosophy, the Too True To Two school. We challenge any other school to come forward and prove that “one plus one is two” is not certain. The losers have to give the winners all the money in their wallets except one banknote. A member of the One On One Won school takes up the bet. He places one drop of water on a flat glass surface with an eyedropper, then carefully adds a second drop to it. The result, to our chagrined surprise, is not two drops. We lose, cheated by our own minds and senses. After giving away the money, I have one dollar in my wallet. You have a ten dollar bill in yours. Pooling our funds, we fall into a grave philosophical contradiction. My senses tell me we now have two notes, but your mind tells you we have eleven dollars. We quarrel. I shout, ‘Believe your eyes! Two!’ You shout back, ‘Believe your mind! Eleven!’ Condemning one another, we dissolve our school.

How can we be certain about sabda?

The dispute over the two bills is not just comedy relief for readers weary of epistemology. Friction between rationalists (who believe their minds, i.e. logic) and empiricists (who believe their eyes, i.e. the senses) has been a flashpoint of regular philosophical controversy since classical times. Like unsupervised children, pratyaksa and anumana quarrel whenever the authoritative parent pramana, Vedic sabda, is absent. At the moment, anumana has more weight in science than pratyaksa. But as with all trends of history, this will not last. Stephen Hawking has this to say about the future of modern, non-Vedic anumana: ‘One theory builds upon another. We can’t escape the suspicion that we may be constructing a very ephemeral house of cards.’ (Ferguson, 1994:65)

Unfortunately, modern intellectuals equate Vedic sabda-pramana with the sort of ipse dixit authority that Descartes rejected. And so, despite their doubts, anumana remains the favoured pramana, though it is ever uncertain. But there are three simple, standard rules of semantics (the study of linguistic communication) that, if put into practice, demonstrate the difference between sabda and ipse dixit statements, and establish sabda as authoritative. If I want to know whether a statement has real authority, I must:

1. know what the statement means

2. know the right way to verify it

3. have good evidence for believing it (Wilson, 1960:76)

Firstly, knowing what a statement means requires me to accept an appropriate discipline of thought. For instance, I cannot know what ‘nondeterministic, polynomial-time-complete’ refers to through the disciplines of basket weaving, literary criticism or phrenology. The appropriate discipline is combinatorics, the study of complex logical problems. Similarly, if I want to know what the statement ‘sabda is the sound incarnation of Krsna’ means, I have to accept the system of discipline (parampara) through which sabda is handed down.
Secondly, I verify the statement ‘sabda is the sound incarnation of Krsna’ by consulting the three parampara sources of sabda: guru, sastra and sadhu. If I read this statement in sastra, I consult guru and sadhu for verification. If I hear it from guru, it is verified by sastra and sadhu; and if I hear it from sadhu, it is verified by sastra and guru.

Thirdly, there is very good evidence for believing the statement ‘sabda is the sound incarnation of Krsna’. One who makes the senses and mind his authorities is bound by them, and is thus bound by ignorance of the self. In other living creatures such ignorance of the self is natural; but in man it is a vice that results in vice. The sound of Ipse dixit does not have the potency to free the self from the vicious demands of the mind and senses. Hearing it, a man remains like an animal, his life’s goals no higher than eating, sleeping, sex and self-defence. Sabda that is understood and verified following the two previous rules, transforms the hearer in a way that ipse dixit does not. As Srila Prabhupada writes in Bhagavad-gita As It Is, ‘Perfect knowledge, received from the Supreme Personality of Godhead, is the path of liberation.’ (Bhaktivedanta, 1983:266) Liberation of consciousness from the dictation of the mind and senses, and from ignorance and vice, is self-evident in the devotees who take to the path. And when a devotee comes to the end this path of liberation, of hearing Vedic sabda, Krsna personally reveals Himself as Absolute Knowledge, the Absolute Knower and the Absolute Object of Knowledge. This state of full realisation of the truth is called Krsna consciousness.


Ayer, A. J. The Problem of Knowledge. 1956.

A. C. Bhaktivedanta Swami Prabhupada. Bhagavad-gita As It Is. 1983.

Davies, P. Other Worlds. 1988.

Davies, P. The Mind of God. 1992.

Descartes, R. Rule for the Direction of the Mind. 1701.

Ferguson, K. The Fire in the Equations. 1994.

Russell, B. Problems of Philosophy. 1912.

Wilson, J. Language and the Pursuit of Truth. 1960.

Harper Collins Dictionary of Philosophy. 1992.


[1] Cited by Ferguson (1994: 253-4).


[2] Does the professor’s position really represent modern science? Don’t scientists have more reasonable arguments that establish logic as authoritative proof? Stephen Hawking says that quantum theory is about ‘what we do not know and cannot predict’. (Ferguson, 1994:21) Ferguson furthermore notes, ‘It is generally agreed that in science nothing can ever be “proved”.’ (Ferguson, 1994:26) About what he called ‘knowledge concerning the universe as a whole’,’ the great philosopher-scientist Bertrand Russell (1912:82) wrote, ‘the proposed proofs that, in virtue of the laws of logic such and such things must exist and such and such others cannot, are not capable of surviving a critical scrutiny.’ Still, students in schools throughout the world must pass examinations on theories that scientists themselves admit are unproven. Why? The answer is that a theory is accepted not on the grounds of its certitude, but on the grounds that nobody has yet disproved it. ‘The best anyone can say of a theory is that it has not been disproved.’ (Ferguson, 1994:26) This principle forms the basis of modern scientific knowledge. This same principle, ironically, is considered a fallacy in classical philosophy: argumentum ad ignorantium, the fallacy of argument from ignorance. An argument that says something is true because nobody has proved it false, or that something is false because nobody has proved it true, is held to be invalid according to this rule of fallacy.

[3] A priori literally means ‘that which precedes’ (i.e. preceding sense experience). That it may mean self-evident is confirmed by the Harper Collins Dictionary of Philosophy (1992:270).

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Mystic Experience and the Name of God


From Back to Godhead

By Achyutananda Das

Taking into account the many descriptions of Godhead found in ancient books, scriptures and the eternal wisdom heard by disciples from their venerable masters, the Absolute Truth may be defined as follows: He is by Himself and for Himself; He has all knowledge, strength, opulence, fame, beauty and renunciation; He is the Fountainhead of limitless energies and the Fountainhead of infinite qualities all of which are identical with Himself. He has infinite forms, all of which have equal powers and qualities; and He has infinite Names with which He is identical. And, He is beyond the scope of the organic senses. We cannot see Him, hear Him, touch Him, smell or taste Him with our eyes, ears, hands, noses or tongues. The Name of God can only be spoken through spiritual lips; in which case, in our Krishna Consciousness society, which preaches the group chanting of the Name of God, exactly what are we all doing? Why chant the 16-word mantra of Hare Krishna if God’s Name is beyond our power to utter? This sensible question deserves a sensible answer, and to do justice to this common inquiry we can only go to the writings of those souls who actually have had spiritual bodies, senses and faculties and who had regular intimate communion with Krishna.

Bhaktivinode Thakur is one such spiritual entity whose poems, writings and powerful, inspiring personality is moving mountains of darkness from the hearts of the devotees. He has written, “O Harer Nama [the Name of God], You enter my ear, my tongue and penetrate my heart and tears spring from my eyes, turning the dust at my feet to clay. Thus the impressions of my steps are left so that others will follow my way.” So it is not by his own initiative that anyone may chant the Name, but it is the Name which takes the initiative and out of His own prerogative descends to the soul of the aspirant.

When the Name pierces all the physical, mental and intellectual boundaries up to the soul, then the full Personality of Krishna with all His qualities, forms, etc. is realized. It is just like this: on a cloudy day we cannot see the sun, but it is due to the sunlight itself that we see the clouds. When by the heat of the sun the clouds break, the clear light is seen and then the full sphere of the sun is seen at last, revealing the world, myself and of course the full sun itself. Krishna descends to our consciousness in the same manner. First as a principle that is to say, by our reason we come to the knowledge that we and this world must have a creator who is different but not apart from us. Then if the seeker is more fortunate, a firm belief can become lodged in his mind.

As the Divinity comes down through the chanting of the Name, real spiritual experience enters one’s senses, and sometimes he feels or sees God everywhere. Where the devotee is determined to seek after God above and beyond anything else, it is a sign that Krishna is piercing his finer sentiments until, face to face, the devotee sees Krishna, having totally surrendered to Him. Those learned in the science of Krishna declare this stage to be “Samadhi,” or trance.

Such a state is very rarely to be found in any person, and yet nowadays we frequently read about states which resemble samadhi achieved by quite a number of mystical people. How can we be sure of authenticity?

There are eight symptoms which precede samadhi, which are as follows: 1) stunned sensation, 2) chills, 3) what we know as goose bumps or horripilations, 4) trembling, 5) perspiration, 6) tears, 7) choking and 8) trance. But just by seeing these outer signs, can we conclude that a person is really in samadhi? No. And many cases of such tricks or accidents of nature occur. Once a scholar was reading this description to some elderly religious women. He noticed that all through his discourse one women was weeping constantly. He thought that she might be approaching that rare state, and afterwards bowed to her and praised her devotion. But the old grandmother said, “No, I am not a devotee. I had a son he died last year. You look just like my boy!” With that she departed the temple, leaving the foolish scholar baffled.

We must never judge the true contact with God by material or outward symptoms, though they may resemble the eight sattvik, or pure, symptoms of samadhi. Once a yogi came to a village and displayed his power of walking across the surface of a river. All the people showered coins and praises on him, but one wise old man approached him and said, “Swamiji, you have two cents worth of power!”

“How is that?” the yogi retorted, amazed by such denseness and arrogance.

“Because for two cents I can take you across the river on my boat!”

No matter how wonderful the feats of magic or of nature may look, we must always weigh them on the scales of eternal, blissful knowledge. At this moment huge waves are crashing together in the ocean. Niagara Falls is discharging billions of kilowatts of energy, even galaxies are colliding somewhere, causing inconceivably blinding light and explosions terrible enough to dwarf 1000 megaton hydrogen bombs but sitting aloof from any of this temporary if grand phenomena, the soul of man remains untouched. No matter how great the impressions of phenomena are, they are only elements changing energy into other elements, and cannot pierce to the true depths of the soul. But if one man makes 1 per cent of spiritual progress, he has made eternal progress which benefits all beings. For when Krishna actually does descend to any soul, He can project His energy to all things near and far.

Sri Chaitanya Mahaprabhu’s inconceivable spiritual potency is such. When His chanting was vibrated, even trees and wild animals forgot their conditional natures and danced in ecstasy. Any of the supremely fortunate people who witnessed His pastimes became powerhouses of divine energy, each and every one capable of continuing the smooth flow of Krishna Consciousness to all, as that consciousness itself descended from Krishna’s realm.

No personality, incarnation, saint or great emperor has revealed such vibrant outbursts of direct contact of God as Chaitanya Mahaprabhu. Sometimes He would, in the transcendental feeling of separation, be endowed with all the eight above-mentioned symptoms. Raising Himself to full height, He would crash to the ground wailing for Krishna. The devotees often feared all His bones broken to splinters. After chanting the Hare Krishna Mantra, Chaitanya sometimes began to roll to and fro. Rivers of tears flowed from His eyes. And then He gave an extremely confidential teaching: “I have no trace, not a tinge of love for Krishna in Me for if I did, how is it that I could remain alive within this body?”

Not to speak of the trances and “experiences” recorded by many curious seekers of “bliss consciousness,” cosmic and “expanded” consciousness, Lord Chaitanya, in the ecstasy of love of God, felt His own love hopelessly inadequate. He made light of the many symptoms He exhibited, and when He spoke at all it was not of Himself, but of the pure love of God which was His life and mission.

Now, if it is possible to connect oneself with the current of blissful consciousness, what is the method? There are many doors but which one leads to the goal? We are not yet possessed of pure intelligence, so how can we know which way is right? Again the answer descends from Krishna, enriched by Chaitanya Mahaprabhu and revived by Bhaktivinode Thakur, whose potency was infused into Bhaktisiddhanta Saraswati, who in turn bestowed his great love and mercy and sublime wisdom upon Prabhupad Bhaktivedanta Swami, the writer’s own divine master. Now available for all, regardless of rank or status and free of charge, the same primeval Krishna Consciousness is being distributed by Prabhupad’s Society. Carried along spiritual currents, the Name divine, the Maha Mantra comes, as we spread the glorious chanting of Hare Krishna.


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Art of living is to master art of Dying


By Sri Chaitanya Chandra Das

The last thing people would like to discuss or even think is ‘Death’. But they often don’t last till last to discuss or even think about what really death is! Man has made so much innovation in technology that with little remote control he can control satellites from thousands of miles away. Or he can put so much complexity into a small electronic chip to work wonders. But death challenges all human advancements. It is an affront to the genius of modern human. Nobody wants to die but everybody has to die. It is beyond their control. So much research has gone into eliminating death but the wonder is no body has escaped cruel death till now even the researchers. The death rate is same everywhere i.e. 100%.

In my childhood I used to deliberate so much on death. The more I used to deliberate the more I used to get befuddled as there seemed no solution for this enigma. I used to cry at night thinking that one day I have to leave my beloved ones. How can I never be separated from them was my relentless anxiety. I used to ponder when we come in this world there are attachments growing around us. Attachment for mother, father, friends, etc. gives us boost to struggle in this world. Without attachments rarely one can survive. But the paradox is at the time of death all attachments are abruptly severed. How ghastly! How Painful! Death means end of everything. Death means perpetual separation from loved ones, never to meet again, ever! How horrifying is the idea! Just as some dry leaves on river surface come together and with a surge of wave are separated for ever. Thinking thus I would cry whole night.

One who thinks profoundly about death cannot afford to bear attachments for anyone and anything in this world. But people don’t want to think about death rather they want to forget it so that they can cultivate attachments for their loved ones which is source of pleasure for them. Just like when we are ailing we know something is erroneous with the body and we take medication. In this world we can’t live without attachments but death severs those very same attachments brusquely and makes us suffer bitterly. Hence we can conclude that we are at wrong place. This world is not meant for gentlemen/women.

Once when Pandavas, great devotees of Lord were in exile they were extremely thirsty while nomadic in the forest. Yudhistir asked his brothers to search some lake nearby. When after long time they didn’t return he himself went in search of them. No sooner he found them near a lake in unconscious state than a supernatural voice resonated,

“Your brothers didn’t care to answer my questions before drinking water from my lake hence their current state. If you too don’t answer you will follow them.”

Yudhistir nodded solemnly.

One of the many questions asked by the supernatural voice was “What is most astonishing thing in this world?”

Yudhistir impeccably replied “One sees death everywhere around but he thinks he is an exception. This is most astonishing.”

Later after perfectly answering all other questions the brothers were resurrected back.

So the most astounding thing in the world is not the 7 wonders of the world, but the attitude that I will never die inspite of seeing death around. Everyone who dies thinks like that. Nobody likes to die.



While voyaging throughout 84 lacks species of life every time we encountered death. We were in species of dog, ant, tree, snake, fish, tiger, elephant, eagle, demigod, pigeon, spider, scorpion, lion, whale, shark, bacteria…… It is thrilling!? But surely not fun. Every animal species is filled with immense angst for survival. Even the kings of jungle have to famish for weeks to catch their prey. It’s not a tranquil life.

If we deliberate deeply we can observe that for every kind of desire we have, there is facility in nature. If someone desires to fly freely in the air there is bird’s body, someone desires to swim there is aquatic body, someone desires to eat a lot there is elephant body, someone desires excess sex is given pigeon body, someone desires to sleep a lot there is polar bear body, someone likes to be naked there is tree body, someone desires to eat flesh there is tiger body and so forth. God has provided facility for accomplishing every kind of desire. You just think of it and it is there in nature. Of course we need to deserve before we desire. Now the desire for living eternal is there in everyone without exception. Nobody wants to die. So is there any facility for that in nature? Yes of course! Hence the quest for supernatural is natural. Many movies are also made portraying such a supernatural place where one doesn’t die and can live eternally happy. It is described in Bhagavad Gita 15.6

na tad bhasayate suryo na sasanko na pavakah yad gatva na nivartante tad dhama paramam mama

That supreme abode of Mine is not illumined by the sun or moon, nor by fire or electricity. Those who reach it never return to this material world.



It is explained in vedic texts that we are not the body but spirit soul. And the body has death not the soul. So actually we don’t die rather the body does at the time of death. Good news! How relieving it is. Soul is indestructible while the body is destructible. Soul is driving force for the body. A transcendentalists understands this fact and goes further to know the source of the soul. The original home of the soul is the kingdom of God. Somehow the soul has landed in this foreign land and is suffering like an orphan. Hence the duty of the living entity is to go back to his original home where there is eternity, bliss and complete knowledge in association of God

It is explained that just like a cat when she hunts for rat her teeth appears like death knell to rat but for a kitten same teeth are loving embrace of mother. When death appears a materialists feels petrified. But for a transcendentalists death is God’s loving embrace, a call back home.

When two prisoners are escorted out of a jail into a van it may seem both are heading to same destination. But one is released completely from the jail because of his good bearing while the other is confined to rigorous imprisonment on account of his impish conduct. So death is same for materialists and transcendentalist but what happens after death is imperative.

So a transcendentalists practices bhakti yoga. Bhakti yoga is more powerful than death. Even death cannot check progress on this path. Best way of practicing it is by chanting God’s names



AnchorOne who practices sincerely and seriously will surely at time of death acquire a spiritual body which is absolutely free of any deficiency. So death is a time to change body from an inferior one to superior one. Hence for a transcendentalists death is time to revel!


Finally my crying for my loved ones came to an end. I understood if we perform Bhakti yoga and achieve perfection then we all can meet again in spiritual world never to be separated again. Srila Prabhupada, founder Acharya of ISKCON once said, “When we go back to spiritual world we will have another ISKCON there!” Path of Bhakti yoga is best welfare activity for the family members and all. Even if one performs bhakti yoga alone he can deliver his beloved ones. In the holy pages of Srimad Bhagavatam 4th canto the story of Dhruva Maharaj appears where his mother guided him to practice Yoga in forest to achieve Lord. At the culmination when Dhruva achieved perfection and was about to leave for spiritual world he asked his beloved mother also to be taken along although she didn’t practice yoga herself. So if I practice seriously enough and when time comes for soaring back to spiritual world I shall take my beloved ones along. Then we shall live happily ever after together with God in the kingdom of God!!! “Happily ever after”


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“TWO” Short To Rope The Universe


By Caitanya Caran Das

Damodara lila special

One of the important legends associated with Diwali is Damodara lila, a pastime in which mother Yashoda tried to tie Krishna with a rope. The rope turned out to be two fingers short. So she tied more rope, but, no matter how many ropes she tied together, the combined rope remained two fingers short.

This pastime signifies that no matter how much we try, we will always fall short in our attempts to understand God with our intelligence. Modern science is finding the same about the universe too, which, the Vedic literatures state, is a product of God’s superintelligence. Centuries of cosmological research has increased scientific information, but not scientific understanding, because of “two” unexpected trends:

1. The more scientists know, the more they realize how little they know –

Science “conquered” space – and realized how little it knew about space. To the uninformed, space missions proved human greatness. To the well informed, they showed human smallness. Space research reveals that there are more stars in the universe than all the grains of sand on all the beaches of earth, and our sun is just one of these cosmic grains. No wonder former President of the American Association for the Advancement of Science Kenneth R Boulding admitted, “Cosmology… is likely to be very insecure because it studies a very large universe with a small and biased sample.”

2. The more scientists know, the more they realize what they previously “knew” was wrong –

Newton’ laws were considered bedrock truths of physics till they were found inapplicable in the microscopic and the macroscopic realms. Quantum physics was developed to explain the atomic world, and relativistic physics for the cosmic. But then both of them turned out to be violently contradictory. As both have to coexist at the origin of the universe – when both the microscopic and the macroscopic were one, science had the formidable challenge of devising with a Theory of Everything (ToE) to unify these irreconcilable pillars of science. Let’s review the history of the development of the ToE:

Initial vain roar: Physicist Leon Lederman, former president of the American Physical Society, “we hope to explain the entire universe in a single, simple formula that you can wear on your T-shirt.”

Subsequent exasperated grunt: Astrophysicist Steven Weinberg, a Nobel laureate in physics, “As we make progress understanding the expanding universe, the problem itself expands, so that the solution always seems to recede from us,”

Final concealed whimper: Theoretical physicist John Wheeler of Princeton University, “Never run after a bus or woman or cosmological theory, because there’ll always be another one in a few minutes.”

Going back to the pastime, the rope Mother Yashoda was trying to tie around Krishna was only two fingers short. But the rope of ToE that science has been trying to tie around the universe is not only short, but also broken, as Stephen Hawking confessed, “The theories (in physics) we have so far are both inconsistent and incomplete.”

Mother Yashoda did eventually succeed in tying Krishna – but only after when Krishna, by His own grace, let Himself be bound. Similarly science can understand the universe, especially our place and purpose within it – but only when it harmonizes with super intelligence by researching and applying the verifiable spiritual science delineated in BG, thus paving the way for spiritual revelation.

That’s not as unscientific as it may sound. A scientist no lesser than founder of quantum physics Nobel Laureate Max Planck stated, ” For religion, God is at the beginning; for science, God is at the end.” And science has started reaching that end by its discovery of “fine tuning” of the universe – micro-precise adjustment of the values and inter-relationships of at least 80 parameters essential for life. Obviously fine-tuning needs a fine tuner. Of course, diehard devotees of atheism have proposed chance and multiple universe theories, but these are all intrinsically unproven and unprovable. They fit better the realm of science-fiction than science.

When scientists accept the verdict of their own evidence, they will remove the obstacle in a long-overdue spiritual leap of science. Lest they hesitate or falter in this bold step, renowned physicist Micheal Faraday’s reminder can urge them on, “We ought to value the privilege of knowing God’s truth far beyond anything we can have in this world.”

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