ISKCON Derire Tree's Posts (14019)

6494114052?profile=RESIZE_400xWell, the fancy bars and dining rooms are open for business again. It’s as if nothing had ever happened to startle clients from Covid 19. The same laughing and giggling goes on as before and the sounds of liquor bottles and glass containers—no less than champagne glassware—are making their music. So, there’s more going on than just line-ups happening outside bubble tea joints. Anyways, it all took me by surprise to see the streets such as Avenue Road, Soto and Bloor in a shape of vibrancy again, as I paced along in a mode of passion. I was definitely plodding along.

“Hey, monk!” Shouted a young cyclist across the street. At medium speed he was showing off the twirling of his closed umbrella. Impressive it was. It added to the street’s liveliness. I reached the park at Christie Pitts to meet Vishal and talk to him about what’s going on in his mind.

“The male cows!” he said.

“You mean the bulls?” I asked, needing to confirm. He knows I was raised on a hobby farm. We had cows on our farm, however, bulls were rare unless born from a cow that received artificial insemination. Basically our conversation went the way of cruelty toward bulls, and the bovine in general—the slaughter industry.

So Vishal and I are planning to visit a farm north of the city to see what another Vishal is doing with his Gir cows from India. In truth, we were two city boys talking about a better life in the countryside; something like the way Krishna lived as a cow-herder.


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“If I had not been there with Srila Prabhupada for days and weeks and months, my life would be nothing but dry, tattered scraps.”

Adapted by Nandimukhi Devi Dasi from Remembering Srila Prabhupada (© 1998 Daniel Clark)

HIS DIVINE GRACE A.C. Bhaktivedanta Swami Prabhupada, my spiritual master, enacted his life’s activities from his birth in 1896 to his passing in 1977. I knew him for the last eleven years of his exemplary pastimes. But to say I knew him is going too far. I watched him. I listened to him. I talked with him and corresponded with him. I followed him and obeyed him-and disobeyed him. I learned from him. I bowed down before him and prayed to him. I loved him, and still do. Through those eleven years, that person I first knew as the Swami, then as Swamiji, and then as Srila Prabhupada, guided my life.

My first contact with Srila Prabhupada was in April of 1966. 1 saw a New York Times photograph with a long caption. The Swami, pictured sitting, was giving classes on Bhagavad-gfta in a loft on the Bowery. For the Swami, first and foremost, God is a person, the caption stated. The best way to attain God realization, he said, is through devotion-and specifically by chanting names of God in a congregational setting. The name of God preferred by the Swami: Krsna.

In July, Swami Bhaktivedanta and his students moved into a small storefront on Second Avenue. It was seven blocks south of my apartment. I often rode the bus south to a friend’s place, and it took me by 26 Second Avenue, where a sign above the window bore the name “Matchless Gifts.” Early one evening the lights were on. Through the window I could see half a dozen people sitting on straw mats with their backs to the street. Facing them and me, at the far end of the room, was a golden glow-that’s all I saw at first. It was the Swami, in yellow cloth.

I was scared. Scared because I was attracted, and I knew what that attraction meant. I would have to stop having sex! I would have to give up all kinds of things. These impressions came to me in the three or four seconds allowed to me by the fast-moving bus.

During the late summer, the Krsna conscious people were the subject of many conversations on the Lower East Side. Most of the neighborhood “beats” kept their distance. I too hesitated to walk through the storefront door into that other world. Then a neighborhood avant-gardo newspaper, The East Village Other, published a long article on Swami Bhaktivedanta and his disciples. Included was an announcement that the Krsna people would hold outdoor gatherings every Sunday at the park. My wife and I decided to go the next Sunday.

The day was sunny and mild, and the park, as usual, was busy with colorful bohemians celebrating the weekend.

The Swami was dressed in a traditional wrapped cloth. He was sitting down, batting on a little wooden bongo drum. The inner circle of adepts included several enraptured disciples dancing at a stately pace around and around in a circle perhaps ten feet in diameter. Their arms were raised in supplication. Around the dancers sat two dozen or so cross-legged meditators buried deep in the sound of the mantra they sang. Around them stood a crowd of a hundred people. They were a cross-section of the Lower East Side population: students, Ukrainians, Puerto Ricans, bohemians, blue-collar workers, and kids. Many of the onlookers, helped by leaflets passed out by a disciple, sang along with the exotic spiritualists at the center. My life changed at that moment. I was catapulted into a new world.

The Swami modestly kept himself out of the spotlight. He allowed the words and the music of the mantra to work its sacred effect. After a while he stood to speak. I was too far away to hear much of what he said. He spoke with intensity-that was clear. I wanted to hear more.

I attended the next evening meeting at 26 Second Avenue. Once again, the chanting, which I learned was called kirtana, was deeply fulfilling to me.

After a kirtana of twenty minutes or so, the Swami spoke. I had expected a smiling, light-hearted wizardly fellow. Instead, the Swami was dead serious. His lecture concentrated on the evils of sex, which he railed against with vigor. During the question-and-answer period, he employed a quickness of wit and startling perceptiveness in his responses. It was plain – he dwelled in a world of mystics and saints who were completely real to him. No matter how much grief it caused me, I was determined to proceed further along this path. I became a regular at the storefront.

The experience of being with the Swami was unsettling. It forced us to question our assumptions about every move we made. Yet to be with him was also the most comforting and reassuring event of our lives. We used to chant on our beads, speaking the mantra aloud, in the courtyard right under his apartment window. Sometimes he would look out and smile. To be so close to him was like being at the center of the universe. We felt no fear or anxiety. He was our eternal protector.


Srila Prabhupada

Do you wonder about his authenticity? One young man attending a lecture in New York did. He asked Prabhupada, in a rude, sarcastic tone of voice, “Can you see God?” The answer came swiftly: “Yes, but you’re in the way!”

The movements of his hands were decisive yet supple. In 1966, before the Society had a treasurer, Prabhupada kept the meager fund of petty cash in his little snap-clasped purse. His disciple Brahmananda asked him for fifty cents. Prabhupada picked up the purse with a slow-motion sweep and elevated it to his eye level with his arms outstretched. He deftly unsnapped the clasp with one hand as his other hand descended into the purse, thumb and forefinger together like a bird’s beak, the other fingers straight out like wings. Somehow the beak immediately found a fifty-cent piece. The graceful bird flew out of the purse holding it as if it were a golden coin from a king’s treasure chest and released it into Brahmananda’s hand.

“This typewriter is not different from Krsna,” he taught us in his apartment at 26 Second Avenue. He patted the gray metal machine he was using to type Out his purports to Bhagavad-gita. Thus we learned one of the central principles of Krsna consciousness: matter engaged in the service of God becomes spiritualized. “When you place an iron poker in the fire, it becomes just like fire.”

Among his perfections was his gentlemanly behavior. In preparation for his return to New York in 1969, the devotees worked hard to fix up his apartment. As Prabhupada climbed the stairs and saw the rooms through the open door, he said, “This is my old home” and melted our hearts. He knew we wanted him to stay there and never leave. He couldn’t give us that, but he gave us his love. At every moment he won us over again and again.

If I had not been there with Srila Prabhupada for days and weeks and months, my life would be nothing but dry, tattered scraps. The sound of the words from his mouth was like a ripe delicious mango, and it drove you mad for more and more. His hands danced, and the sight of him blessed our eyes with spiritual vision, for on seeing him we gazed into the kingdom of God.

That is why I bow down before him and offer him songs of praise.

Damodara Dasa lives with his wife, Vajresvari Devi Dasi, in Sebastian, Florida. He works as an electronic media specialist at the local public library.

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There are many things which we aspire for and even worship, which have no intrinsic value. They have value inasmuch as they are attached to values, and thus can serve perverted or promoting aims. Thus, though they have no value, they have a use. These things which we attach value to, are actually tools for values to be attached to. For example, a knife is neither good nor evil, but can be used for good or evil. It has a use, but no value.

What is it that we worship as human beings that is essentially without value, but is merely a tool? Intelligence is in this category, as is its effect- knowledge. Wealth, also. Fame. Beauty, definitely. Strength, physical and psychological. All these desirable things have been used to further human happiness and evolution, or to retard it. And yet, though they are essentially valueless, we strive for these things and worship people that have them, whom we call “celebrities”. Am I going too far when I say that we worship them? In the temples of India, people line up to get a glimpse of the Lord in His deity form-similarly people will line up to get a glimpse of their favorite celebrity. In the scriptures of India, God Who is known as Bhagavan, is defined as one who possesses unlimited wealth, strength, fame, knowledge, beauty and renunciation- the qualities of a celebrity exactly (maybe without the renunciation bit, though they do seem to change partners often…) So what people are mad after, are the qualities of God, yet the qualities themselves are neither good nor evil- they are neutral. They can be used for good or for evil.

Does it not make more sense to strive not for that which is neutral, merely a tool, but for the values themselves which can turn the tool into something of value? What is the use of a nutcracker when all one has to crack is stones? Only attached to an edible nut, does the nutcracker have value, indeed it is foolish to try to design a nutcracker if there are no nut trees! Similarly, it is foolish to try to acquire knowledge, wealth or fame, unless one has a good reason to acquire them. When added to such values as kindness, empathy, forgiveness, tolerance, the respect for all life, and love, in short when attached to the striving towards the well-being and evolution of all things, these tools have value. That is what the sastra refers to as the mode of goodness or sattva guna- those values that end in happiness. When attached to self-centered values, the striving toward happiness at the cost of others, such as the desire for power, prestige and influence, these values give a temporary sense of happiness only, which quickly dissipates in the loneliness of self-centeredness. That is what the sastra refers to as the mode of passion, rajo-guna. When attached to evil propensities, the striving towards the destruction of self and society, these tools are extremely dangerous- they are the values of the lowest mode, tamas, which ends only in misery and madness. Hitler thus misused his fame. Openheimer, his intelligence. President Bush, his wealth. Many a psychopath has misused physical and/or psychological strengths. Women- and men- can misuse beauty to destroy themselves in the market of prostitution.

We have a tendency, despite all that, to worship not values, but tools, and we strive our whole lives to acquire them. This is the foolishness of a society obsessed with nutcrackers without access to nuts, or to keyboard and mouse designs, who have no interest in getting a CPU, or to wires and electrical tape, who have no interest in getting an electricity supply. We are not mad, but our obsession goes beyond reason- it is an obsession of the heart for God- for we are craving His qualities exactly. To this natural obsession, God gives wise counsel- add to it the values that ensure our own good- and thus pervading every revealed word of God, the message to develop kindness, empathy, forgiveness, etc, is echoed…

When we began to divorce religion from education, we lost what was essential to the survival of the human race. The mad race for tools was then on, without any guidance as to how best to use them, for the guide books for our survival were reduced to quaint myths in the minds of men. In ancient Vedic times, only to those who had developed the values conducive to happiness and growth- the sattvic qualities- was higher education an option. Now it is a legal necessity- for all- and also a legal necessity that no revealed word of God be taught, in the name of secularism. Now we have come to the utter insanity of creating nutcrackers en masse, while all nut trees and books on how to grow them, are banished.

The revealed word of God describes certain values- or things to be attained which are inherently valuable. Yet these revelations themselves can be used as tools and manipulated according to the whim of the believer. When religion is separated from its essential values, it becomes a tool- a thing of vice in the hands of a vicious person, a thing of virtue in hands of the virtuous. This, we have seen in the course of history.

Religion’s Essence

But it may be asked that if religion is nothing but essential values, then how can it be separated from the same? How can goodness become neutral, or to put it another way, how can an active principle embodying goodness, become a passive principle of neutrality, and thus be used for destructive purposes?

This happens when something is separated from its essence. Returning to our example, a nut is essentially a food, which is life giving, but it can be stuffed into the trachea and inhibit breathing, causing death. Food and the values of religion are life-giving, but separated from their function, they lose value and are reduced to tools, passive utilities for an active principle which may be antagonistic. Thus so much viciousness has come about from religion -which is supposed to embody values that are good for all of God’s creation.

Therefore, in the Bhagavad gita, even religion is described as within the categories of goodness (sattva), passion (rajas) and ignorance (tamas) (Bg 17th chapter) . Everything is influenced by these modes of nature to elevate, stagnate or deteriorate the human condition, but Krishna declares throughout all these changes the modes alone are active- everything else is in a passive tool-like state (Bg 14.19, 14.22-25)

Is Religion essential, anyway?

Then it may be asked “if religion is not essentially valuable, if it is no more than a passive tool, then why have it at all? Why not just separate out its essence, the values therein, and throw out the rest? Is not a person who is kind, generous, open and loving, a religious person, anyway?” Indeed, in the sastra, the platform of God consciousness is called suddha sattva- all these principles in their pure state. When a person is good only for the sake of being good, kind only for the sake of being kind, etc that is purity of principle, or the principle of goodness in a fully activated condition.

The problem is- where is such a perfect person to be found? We all have the tendency to less than fully embody the values we strive towards- thus we see, so often, youthful idealism later on frustrated by the defeat and hopelessness of realizing one’s limits. The usual response of the individual is to then return to mediocrity and be happy to blend with the crowd… by his middle age, the striving is over, or replaced with endeavour that is separate from idealistic perfection…most people striving for tools of neutrality, such as wealth…

How did this happen, this tragic accident on the royal road to perfection? The mistake is very subtle….If one sees oneself as the source of the values of love and empathy, for example…if one is being loving and caring because one identifies oneself as a loving and caring person, one will always be disappointed by one’s limits. Furthermore, that limit is even more limited, because the values are being used by the ego to boost up one’s sense of worth, they are being used as tools, though on a very subtle level. On the other hand, if one sees the Lord as their source, and oneself as a mere conduit, one is humbled to be touched thus by the Lord, and whatever one can do, is proof of His mercy. One feels not oneself to be loving and caring, but that the love and care of the Lord is so overwhelming that it can flow through any channel, however limited it may be…in this way one naturally avoids using religion as a tool- rather one is a tool for the active principle of religion to flow through.

Thus, the gita recommends values be suffused with devotion that is without expectation of reward from God or man. For example, trying to be tolerant for the sake of being tolerant, means that one does so only because one values that value, and wants to mould one’s life around it. One does not want to use it for a tool, for recognition or whatever, but essentialize it, internalize it, and live it. Doing so, brings one into the light of God, as He Himself declares in the Bhagavad gita that one who internalizes such attributes is very dear to Him. (Bg 12.13-20) This process is naturally joyful, because the Lord in one’s heart Who witnesses everything, all one’s innermost thoughts, actions and motivations, is pleased by that striving, and, like a lover, will ignore any of its faults. This helps the devotee overcome the hopelessness of his limits, and thus there is reassurance and delight from within, which ensures that he will not fall from the process.

Of the Lord, for the Lord…

So in terms of tools, religion must not be separated from its function which is to please the Lord. In its lowest form, in the mode of ignorance, religion is used to destroy people- physically through jihads and crusades, or psychologically through guilt-tripping, damning and judging (Bg. 17.19). In its stagnating form, the mode of passion, it is used to augment one’s ego- one wants to be perceived as a great and holy person, and thus be admired by all (Bg 17.18). In its purest form, it is used to help people evolve- and this is when religion’s values are internalized, lived, not used as a tool of manipulation or falsity of ego (Bg 17.17)

Religion is then very close to fulfilling its purpose, and to a certain extent it does so, for being used in this way, it is very pleasing to the Lord. But when it is consciously used to serve the Lord, knowing the Lord to be the source of all goodness, empathy, kindness, equality of vision etc- when thus kept, in its pure form, only for the pure purpose of pleasing the Lord, Who dwells in all hearts as the witness, it has become stripped of all that covers it and regains its very essence.

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3798092906?profile=RESIZE_710xOne disciple of Srila Prabhupada wrote him a letter soon before he left this world saying he wished he could trade his youth for Srila Prabhupada’s old age so Srila Prabhupada could go on preaching. Srila Prabhupada appreciated the disciple’s loving sentiment but said that how much they loved him would be shown by how they cooperate to spread this movement in his absence.

This shows that it is easier to embrace old age and death than it is to give up the false ego.

The Lord not impressed with the Precetas 10,000 years of austerities in the water as much as He was by their friendly cooperation.

So many demons came to Vrindavan but actually, they did not cause as much trouble as Brahma and Indra, the demigods.

In Brhad-Bhagavatamrita, Brahma said although both he and Indra caused distress to Krishna in Vrindavan, he caused more distress by separating Krishna from His devotees, the cowherd boys.

There is an African proverb saying if you want to walk fast, walk alone, but if you want to walk far, walk with others.

Despite being pure devotees and despite being in the presence of Krishna, the Pandavas each had a different idea about what to do with Asvatthama, who had killed their children. So if we are not pure devotees and if Krishna is not personally present it is no wonder that we disagree.

What to do to cooperate better?
At least be friendly to each other.
Engage in the six kinds of loving exchanges.
Each individual must be overcoming their anarthas [unwanted qualities].
Each must understand the importance of the mission.

Fifteen years ago we started having all the brahmacaris eat meals together in the brahmacari ashram, and that act had great impact improving the devotees’ relationships.

It is our job to encourage the other devotees to purify themselves.

Jayananda Prabhu visited a devotee who had left the temple and worked in a butcher shop, and ignoring his blood-stained apron, Jayananda gave him a hug, and that devotee said later that he came back only because of Jayananda’s loving interaction.

There is a German proverb: “Treat a man as he is, and he will remain as he is. Treat him as he could be, and he will become as he could be.”

Internal discord is our greatest enemy.

Disunity in the leadership is especially bad.

Leadership has to have sensitivity and spirituality in addition to strength. In the Pandavas, Bhima had strength, Yudhisthira had sensitivity, and Arjuna had spirituality.

In leadership in a diverse group, here is a strategy: We have respect everyone. We have to agree on a course of action. We have to cooperate to carry out the action.


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There comes a time, sometimes regularly, where we may feel, Oh, Krishna. I can’t do this anymore. This ‘this’ will be different for everyone. It happened to Arjuna in the Gita – he wanted to give up, not to fight, and go off to the forest to be alone. He did not want to deal with people and life’s problems. He told Krishna: I’m not fighting, I can’t do it, I can’t see the point, better if I don’t act and move to the side.

If it can happen to Arjuna, who had everything going for him, including talent, skill, health, family, and especially friendship with Krishna, it can certainly happen to all of us. The struggle for existence, as daily life is described in our teachings, can sometimes just be too much. We will feel like Arjuna and have a desire to give up and go away.

Arjuna was a good person. He did nothing wrong and still he felt despondent. Of course that was connected to him not wanting to do anything wrong; the impending war and killing was something he was having grave doubts about. And he was a warrior! In his blood was the natural desire to protect the innocent and ensure good leadership in the world. Still he was overwhelmed, doubtful, and unsure of his next steps.

Our fight may be with an illness, a slow recovery, mistakes, a sudden death, a mountain of bills or debts, a challenging work environment, tension in relationships, a loss, a failure, a breaking of the law. Or it maybe we see how broken the world is and feel helpless to help. The list is endless.

How to respond to such feelings of inadequacy? How to work through them, gathering our resolve, and moving forward? We need to be able to do this otherwise such feelings will wear away at our energy and we will slowly grind to a halt.

By the end of the Gita, Arjuna has found his understanding, found his sense of self in relationship to the context of his life. Here are three of Krishna’s teachings in the Gita that helped him recover and re-energize:

We have to do something:
We are a soul with a body. One one level, spiritually, we have nothing to do with this world. The soul remains untouched. One another level, while in the body, we are connected to the world and must move within it. We are forced to act, even if all we do is breathe and eat. And every move has an impact on our future – both action and inaction. Be careful Arjuna, Krishna says. Running from difficulty may seem like a good move, but will solve nothing.

Do what we are good at:
Krishna told Arjuna, you are a warrior. To go off and be a renunciate is not your calling. You won’t be able to do it, and it will be neither good for you nor the world. Better do what you are called to do by your natural talents and disposition than trying to avoid your duty because it’s hard. We should try to adopt this mood ourselves. What is our best way to serve, to give, to live in community with others and Krishna? What is our part to play, even though we may sometimes want to be or do something else. We have to find our best fit.

Don’t do it for ourselves, but for Krishna:
Even if we know what to do and it’s what we are good at, we can still feel off center. That’s because life becomes dry if we are only trying to live it for ourselves. Working for others is a step up, but that still wasn’t enough for Arjuna. Ultimately we need to do it for Krishna. Krishna told Arjuna, “Remember Me and fight.”

How can we apply these things? We should think, “I am doing this for Krishna so let me do it in the best way possible.” If I am cooking for friends, let me cook as if it’s for Krishna and make it fabulous. If I am repairing a wall, let me see it as Krishna’s wall and make it perfect. If I am managing, selling, planning, teaching, parenting, drawing, doctoring – whatever – let me do it to the very best of my ability. Let me develop that ability. Let me be and do the best for Krishna.

Arjuna had Krishna in his uncertainty and so do we. With Krishna, we can face anything. And that makes all the difference.


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By Jayapataka Swami

It has come as a shock for worldwide devotees, disciples and well-wishers of HH Bhakti Charu swami to receive the update from HH Bhakti Charu Swami health care team (29 June – 10 AM US EDT) that Maharaj has become critically unwell. He has suffered a heart attack in the last few hours and this is affecting all his organs and bodily functions. At this time the doctors are working full time to stabilize Maharaj.The coming hours are the most critical Maharaj has been and we will be giving updates as soon as we can. At this time we are asking for full attention, prayers and focus on the wellbeing of HH Bhakti Charu Swami.

Following this update, a massive Japa wave & Narasimha Prayers has been going on everywhere and HH Jayapataka Swami called for an online Marathon Japathon at 9:15 pm IST and he addressed as follows:

“We all know how dear His Holiness Bhakti Caru Swami is, to Srila Prabhupada, and all his followers. And how he is so dear to all the devotees of ISKCON. So it seemed that he was improving a lot, but he had a mild heart attack and that has complicated issues a lot. So that is why we are having a prayer marathon. Because, if the Lord wishes, we hope we can have Bhakti Caru Swami back. So, I sent him a message that he ordered me to stay, (HG Mahavaraha prabhu: this happened when Jayapataka Swami maharaj had a stroke, HH Bhakti Caru Swami visited him in the hospital, and he requested him to stay), and now I requested him to also stay. Right now we can pray to Sri Sri Radha Madhava, Sri Panca Tattva, Sri Prahlada Nrsimhadeva, Sri Jagannath Baladeva Subadra Sudarshana cakra, because They are our only hope.”

Update – 29 June – 11 PM US EDT

Dear Disciples of HDG Srila Prabhupada, devotees, disciples and well wishers of HH Bhakti Charu Swami Maharaj,

The ongoing kirtans, Japas and Yagnas are of great benefit and solace to all the devotees and the world in general.

Maharaj remains in the most critical position and remains on the ventilator with increasing oxygen requirements. He has now developed further complications with his kidneys and they may require support. His heart is requiring some supportive medications.

We remain hopeful that things will improve but the next 12 hours are dangerous.

We ardently request Lord Narasinghadev’s mercy and blessings.

Your aspiring servants,
HH BCS Medical Care Team


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Chanting the Hare Krishna maha – mantra isn’t a mundane activity but is in fact a means by which we can experience exponential spiritual pleasure.

Chanting connects us to Krishna provided we chant with utmost sincerity and seriousness. One of the most important requirements of chanting is that we should pronounce each syllable of the maha – mantra clearly and loud enough so that we can hear what we chant.

But many a times we the spiritual seekers chant inattentively without bothering if we are calling the names of Krishna with clarity or not. That the ability to chant Krishna’s name is a gift given to us by Krishna to re-establish our relationship with him is totally forgotten.

Have we ever bothered to ponder what if this gift, the gift of speech, is taken away from us one day?

Recently I underwent oral surgery and realized what it means not having the ability to speak.

The surgery which lasted for more than 2 hours was quite complicated and very painful. After surgery my mouth and gums were swollen and it was almost impossible for me to open my mouth and speak. Now as per the vow taken during initiation we are supposed to chant 16 rounds of Hare Krishna maha-mantra daily irrespective of any circumstances and so I tried to comply with the vow.

But chanting became a herculean task. With great difficulty I was able to pronounce each syllable of the maha – mantra and in spite of the efforts I was not able to utter the holy names with clarity. And the chanting was so feeble that I had to struggle to hear what I was chanting. Somehow I was able to complete my 16 rounds. But the excruciating pain during chanting forced me to remember those days when I had the ability and opportunity to chant with clarity but I rarely bothered to do so. During those days my mouth just uttered the words, the ear remained oblivious to those words and my mind mostly wandered recklessly taking me into different worlds. I rarely chanted with love and devotion, rarely thinking that the ability to chant Krishna’s name is also a gift given to me by Krishna. And never ever thought what if this precious gift is taken away from me one day. Although Krishna being so kind has not taken this precious gift from me. But the temporary ailment at least made me realize that how casual I have been in my chanting.

Inattentive chanting is the root cause why we do not excel in our spiritual journey. Most of us make multiple material plans but seldom make plans to grow in our spiritual life. We do not realize that our ephemeral body is deteriorating day by day. When we are hale and hearty then we have more opportunity to be Krishna conscious. But sadly we waste those moments pursuing sensual goals. But if we utilize such precious moments in practicing spirituality then result will be phenomenal, we can attain Krishna.

So next time when we have beads in our hands and we are ready to invest time in chanting Hare Krishna maha – mantra then we should invest all our consciousness in it and chant clearly, attentively and reverentially and enjoy the transcendental sound and feel Krishna’s presence in our heart. Hope when I recover fully then I too will become more serious in my spiritual journey.


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By Krishnarupa devi dasi

Many ISKCON members are aware of the formation of the Revisions Review Panel (RRP), but they may not be informed of how it came about and exactly what its task is. This article I hope serves to communicate more of these details. 

In February 2019, the BBT/GBC Relations Committee conversed about meeting with the GBC body to discuss Srila Prabhupada's books edits and to form a group that would review revisions.

At the BBT general meeting in June 2019, the BBT resolved to set up a review group (Revisions Review Panel) with input from the GBC at the proposed meeting mentioned above.

Independently, the SABHA (Spiritual Advisors Bhagavata Assembly) also sent a proposal to the GBC to create such a body. 

At this stage, the BBT relayed their earlier resolution to the SABHA. 

Read more:,7405/

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6465390872?profile=RESIZE_584xIt has come as a shock for worldwide devotees , disciples and well wishers of HH Bhakti Charu swami to receive the update from HH Bhakti Charu Swami health care team (29 June – 10 AM US EDT) that Maharaj has become critically unwell. He has suffered a heart attack in the last few hours and this is affecting all his organs and bodily functions. At this time the doctors are working full time to stabilise Maharaj.The coming hours are the most critical Maharaj has been and we will be giving updates as soon as we can. At this time we are asking for full attention, prayers and focus on the wellbeing of HH Bhakti Charu Swami.

Following this update, a massive Japa wave & Narasimha Prayers  has been going on everywhere and HH Jayapataka Swami called for an online Marathon Japathon at 9:15 pm IST and he addressed as follows:

“We all know how dear His Holiness Bhakti Caru Swami is, to Srila Prabhupada, and all his followers. And how he is so dear to all the devotees of ISKCON. So it seemed that he was improving a lot, but he had a mild heart attack and that has complicated issues a lot. So that is why we are having a prayer marathon. Because, if the Lord wishes, we hope we can have Bhakti Caru Swami back. So, I sent him a message that he ordered me to stay, (HG Mahavaraha prabhu: this happened when Jayapataka Swami maharaj had a stroke, HH Bhakti Caru Swami visited him in the hospital, and he requested him to stay), and now I requested him to also stay. Right now we can pray to Sri Sri Radha Madhava, Sri Panca Tattva, Sri Prahlada Nrsimhadeva, Sri Jagannath Baladeva Subadra Sudarshana cakra, because They are our only hope.”

Latest Update:

Update – 29 June – 2 PM US EDT

Dear Disciples of HDG Srila Prabhupada, devotees, disciples and well wishers

We thank you deeply for the out pouring of the Holy name that is sweeping the world.
We only have a short up date at present.

HH Bhakti Charu Swami remains in the critical period- things are constantly changing and the doctors continue to work with HH Bhakti Charu Swami. At this time prayer remain our most important weapon and medicine.

A fuller update will be posting in 6-7 hours- in the mean time please continue with focused prayers and chanting of the holy name. Narsimhadev is our hope and prayer is our thought.

Your aspiring servants
HH BCS Medical Care Team

Recent Update – 29 June – 2 PM US EDT

Dear Disciples of HDG Srila Prabhupada, devotees, disciples and well wishers

We thank you deeply for the out pouring of the Holy name that is sweeping the world.
We only have a short up date at present.

HH Bhakti Charu Swami remains in the critical period- things are constantly changing and the doctors continue to work with HH Bhakti Charu Swami. At this time prayer remain our most important weapon and medicine.

A fuller update will be posting in 6-7 hours- in the mean time please continue with focused prayers and chanting of the holy name. Narsimhadev is our hope and prayer is our thought.

Your aspiring servants
HH BCS Medical Care Team


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I did walk a piece today. I did wait a piece today—in the dentist clinic waiting room. A woman in front of me, age sixty, brunette to red hair—ponytailed—at the inquiry desk, left her queue to sit down. I followed.

“So you’re a monk?” she began.


“What order?”

“Hare Krishna!”

“Oh yeah! Why the colour?”

“This saffron tone is reserved for celibate monks. It’s a colour worn before one’s married, and after retirement. I never got married. I’ve had this colour all these years.”

“When did you join?”

“Age twenty.”

“It was your calling?”

“Definitely,” I said.

“My father was a minister. It was his calling. He knew at age fourteen. He ministered in Kenya. Everyone thought he was crazy. A Scotsman he was.”

I was curious. “Was he Presbyterian?”

“He started off but then he became non-denominational.”


The dialogue went on.

“I adopted kids from Africa. I have a few.”

She definitely was no monk, or nun, but a conversationalist, yes. I wanted to continue on but was asked to go for my dental cleaning.

“Well, I’m being called. Nice to talk to you!”

“Likewise!” she said.


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By Madhava Smullen

“When the lockdown started, nobody thought we could distribute books, and everybody was worried about what would happen,” says Shyama Mohini Dasi, co-sankirtan leader at ISKCON Toronto, Canada. “But Vaisesika Prabhu encouraged us to think differently, and innovate.”

Every year since 2007, devotees at Toronto, ISKCON Silicon Valley, and other temples – inspired by Global Duty Officer for book distribution Vaisesika Das – have held a Bhaktivinode Thakur Marathon for the six weeks between Nrsimha Chaturdasi and Bhaktivinode Thakur’s appearance day.

This year, from May 6th to June 20th, ISV devotees actually doubled the number of books distributed, despite being unable to physically approach people due to the pandemic lockdown.

With a poster and video from Vaisesika encouraging devotees to “distribute from home – all you need is a phone,” teams across North America as well as in London, England also posted incredible numbers of Srila Prabhupada’s books.

Team ISV distributed 13,861 books and 253 sets; Team Harinama Ashrama NYC 5,570 books and 136 sets; Team London, UK 1,235 books and 4 sets; Team Laguna Beach 1,000 books and 40 sets; and Team Toronto 875 books and 31 sets.

Teams in Seattle, Philadelphia, Houston, Delware, Chicago and Round Rock, Texas rounded out the effort for a total of 26,4747 books and 519 sets.

To take the edge off and make the sankirtan fun, devotee organized virtual “calling parties” on Zoom, which provided moral support and gave the feeling of distributing all together. Around 30 devotees at a time would call people from their own homes and distribute books over the phone, while simultaneously consulting each other for help on Zoom and reporting successes.

“We would start by calling contacts we had made before, on sankirtan or at temple festivals, dating back to 2014,” says Malini Dasi, co-sankirtan leader at ISKCON Silicon Valley. “We would introduce ourselves, and make a connection. Then we would present the books. If they accepted them, we would ask for a donation, and tell them about contactless shipping – we either ship directly through USPS or deliver the books and leave them outside people’s doors. We also offer e-books if they are not comfortable with paper books.”

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This is dependant on the seriousness of one’s anger and aggression. If it is very serious, then the person may need counseling. Krsna consciousness cannot resolve psychiatric or psychological problems. By chanting the Hare Krsna Mahamantra, one becomes purified, and eventually, both psychological and psychiatric problems can disappear. But it is important to remember however that people who are intensely affected by such problems, whether it be anger or depression or something else that falls into such a category, it requires proper attention and time to heal. So it is best in such instances for people to seek professional help. This is the reality, even though there is a lot of shame around that, which is very unfortunate.

Anger is a big problem and can spoil many things. This is the very nature of anger; it wants to break; it wants to destroy! So people who have an anger problem tend to destroy their own lives as well as the lives of people around them. So this is not good. But this is just a normal part of life as we are not perfect.

We are all under the influence of the six enemies of the mind – kāma (lust), krodha (anger), lobha (greed), moha (illusion), mada (pride or madness or foolishness) and mātsarya (envy). These weaknesses will be there in everyone in this world – your spouse, your children, your neighbors, your colleagues, everyone and everywhere. Srila Bhaktisiddhanta Saraswati Thakura explains that these six enemies are always attacking us like the bugs buzzing around our head. They are always present in this world and we cannot escape them.

So what are we going to do about that? It is not that, “Oh some people have these problems, but I do not.” No, if you think you do not have these problems, then you are deeply having one of them, illusion. So as devotees, or as aspiring devotees, there must be some willingness to change. Being a Vaishnava does not just mean “From now on, I promise to chant sixteen rounds and follow the four regulative principles.” That is perfect, but not exactly all we need to do. We need to go deeper and say, “From now on, I am ready to change. I am ready to actually change my heart and overcome my own shortcomings.” I understand that this is not an easy process, but it is certainly required to advance in Krsna consciousness.


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6428016670?profile=RESIZE_400xChanting before Tulasi today, I recalled an incident with Srila Prabhupada in his garden in New Dvaraka, Los Angeles, in 1973. I was looking at him, and suddenly his face lit up, his eyes opened wide, and he smiled broadly, as if he were seeing a long-lost dear friend. When I turned around to see who had come, I saw that it was Tulasi, being carried by a devotee. “Just by her presence,” Prabhupada said, “Tulasi purifies the whole atmosphere.”

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As we look around the world, or watch and read the news, practically everywhere is affected by some kind of natural disaster. Floods are displacing millions of people, forest fires are destroying thousands of acres and burning out of control, earthquakes continue to force people to live in fear, and tornadoes and hurricanes have become more fierce and numerous than ever. And if that is not enough, droughts are causing massive crop damage and water shortages.

The fact is that nobody likes a loss, no matter how great or small it may be. And a disaster can take years to recover from, which can only increase our struggle to exist in this world. So what are we to make of all this? Is this just our own bad luck? Is this some kind of karmic reaction we are suffering? Is this merely the way life goes on in this material world? Or is this what God is doing to us? In fact, where is God in all of this? Or how many times have your heard someone ask, how can God be so cruel?

From a spiritual perspective, when we ask “Where is God in all of this?” we must understand that to blame God for the way the world works is our own ignorance. And this ignorance is only the misguided perception of the absence of God, just as darkness is only the absence of light. From the very beginning, the world and everything in it is temporary. Or did you forget that? Our existence in this material world is also temporary. But we get so accustomed to the idea that things are going to go on the way we expect them to, that we are thrown completely out of whack when they don’t, and especially when the world throws reversals into our life. I have an old saying: Show me a world with security, and I will show you an illusion. The point is that change is the only constant in this world, which also implies that change means a lack of security due to not knowing what we can really expect in the future. And it is a challenge to remain balanced in all of this. And the only way you can do that is by attaining a spiritual consciousness. Let me explain:

Natural disasters go on in varying degrees on a daily basis, whether we notice them or not. Nature also means neutral, and it acts in whatsoever way it does to provide balance, even if it may seem cruel, as in the way stronger animals feed off the weak. That is a law of nature, and however cruel it may seem to be. In this world, that is how balance is maintained in many cases so that certain species do not overpopulate. In this and so many other ways, nature acts in a way to help maintain balance in this world.

So when natural disasters hit humanity, as in events mentioned in the first paragraph, it forces us to become more clear regarding the temporary nature of this world, and more cooperative with that principle, whether we like it or not. Natural disasters can also provide a way to discern what is really important and what is not. We may have lost so many of our possessions, but we may still have our life. And if we lose our possessions or someone we know, we again have to realize the importance of how to live with whatever time we may have, fully knowing that tomorrow is promised to no one. Then we have to shed those things that, in the end, we are bound to lose anyway. Loss is no easy thing in one’s life, but better to go through stages of preparation than to be tested only at the very end of our lives at the time of death when it may be more difficult than ever to lose everything you hold dear. We need to be ready to go forward into the next realm rather than being held back by all the longings we have for the attachments we have accrued in this life. This is the lesson we should learn by experiencing various natural disasters on a personal level, or by observing those that go on around us. In this way, disasters of any kind can act as lessons that pull away the layers of illusion that hold us to the false impression of who or what we think we are in this material realm.

This is how there is some good in any situation, regardless of how awful it may seem. God does many things in one move, or one act. And in one major event, so many things may have been put into motion for many positive things to take place in the long run. Sometimes you can see that in the change of the psyche of innumerable people in the world that may have been affected by whatever event has happened, especially when they deal with the event by pulling together to sort out the new challenges they have to face. In this way, there is hope for a new vision, a new awareness, a new spirit of cooperation and view of each other.

For example, when a tornado destroys a neighborhood or town, everyone has to drop their ego and their differences in order to work together to make things operate smoothly again. So many trees may have been blown over, downing electrical lines and stopping the flow of power or communication. Then people must work together to help clean up, get things working again, or check on the elderly to see if they are all right. And the more we work together, the easier it becomes for everyone. But is that not the case with life in general? Sometimes we forget this, until a natural disaster again forces us to take a second look at who we are, who are our neighbors, and possibly with less judgmentalism than before. So sometimes we must get conked on the head, so to speak, to force ourselves to look at who we are and where our life is taking us. It is strange that sometimes this will not happen unless some major turning point or challenge takes place in our lives. These things show how well the world can move when we cooperate, when we acknowledge our need for each other and also our joy at being needed or giving to a higher cause by helping others.

With this new vision of ourselves and who we are and how we fit into the world, we may then see how God is found in all the acts of care and concern in each person around us. When the world comes together to help each other or those who have been affected by the disaster, all the kindness, consideration, the prayers, the donations, the heart-felt love that is now more prevalent than ever, is all part of our spiritual nature. When we consider all of this, we can see that each act of kindness is like the light of God everywhere. We simply have to be more willing to keep this spiritual renewal and vision in our heart and minds in our everyday lives.

In this way, the tragedy itself, whatever it may be, will have made us more humble, more cooperative, and a kinder person. It makes us realize our vulnerability, both individually and collectively. It makes us realize how fragile life can be, and how we should also appreciate whatever blessings we have. It forces a reassessment of who we are and, if we learn the lesson properly, gives an opportunity for a voluntary renewal in our spirituality. It also helps separate the superficial from what is really important. That is why we must always cling to our spiritual identity and the grace of God and be ready for anything.

Regarding those who may have died, what do we do for them? We have to remember that the soul, our real identity, never dies. It is eternal, so it merely moves on to another realm. Death is a soul’s change of focus from one plane of existence to another. The legacy of those who have departed is the renewed unity found in us survivors, and the reason to work together more closely than ever. It shows the reason why we must shed our dislike or unfamiliarity with each other. Their legacy is that this has brought us together in a mood of solidarity. It reawakens us to our dependency on God and His protection. This is the legacy of those we have lost in such situations. This is their gift to us. Let us keep this gift precious so it does not take another tragedy or loss to again reawaken ourselves to how special we all are.

We also must understand that in these sorts of tragedies, no one is sacrificed or dies in vain. The Lord of all casts aside no sincere soul, regardless of caste or creed, for all paths ultimately point toward the same God. They have not left us but only gone on before us. There is always a purpose behind everything, whether we understand it or not. So let us give them our blessings and pray for their safe journey to higher realms. Let God bless and guide all those who have departed from us.

However, when such disasters are related to man-made problems, like the failure of nuclear reactors, or oil spills and the like, this is simply because things are becoming too complex and out of control, or too far away from the way we need to cooperate with nature. It is a sign that we need to change and simplify our lives and actions. It is like nature shaking the tree to drop the unnecessary fruits. Then we merely have to change our vision and the values that we have to again begin to move in the right direction.

Disasters or tragedies created by fanatical religious terrorism is in a category by itself, apart from natural disasters. Such events are not a display of one’s allegiance to God, but a show of hatred for one’s fellow man, only because a section of society seems different, or that they follow a different spiritual path. This is spiritual blindness. Let us not follow in their ways of being oblivious to the unity and Divinity with all of us. But let us drop the superficialities and cooperate together, knowing full well that such is the way to make life easier for all of us. The desire to conquer or convert is the most divisive path there can be, and we have seen for many centuries that it has been the most cruel and destructive as well. And has the world gotten better because of it? No, in fact, it has only increased the fear and chaos in the world instead.

Let us also remember as we face such predicaments or tragedies, our greatest strengths and developments are often revealed through our most difficult challenges. Therefore, through such tests and by working together to improve things because of such difficulties, we will come ever closer to see the real potential and character of ourselves and the people involved. It will show the world the exceptional possibilities of real cooperation and understanding that can exist. It can show everyone the unity that can come from a spiritual renewal and reawakening.

Therefore, in such situations we should pray for the dead that they can be escorted to higher realms by God’s guiding light. We also pray for the well-being of the injured, the survivors, and the families who have lost loved ones, that they be soothed by God’s grace. We pray for us to become free from the shock and sadness that this sudden change has caused. But let us learn the lesson in the proper way so we can move forward with progress.

Let us also pray for the help from the volunteers and rescuers, those who donate much needed money to rebuild, and all who give their time and prayers to get us through this tragedy. Let the light of love, hope and upliftment shine forth and fill the world with God’s grace, beauty and power. Let everyone see the sense of living in peace and cooperation. Before we attack or criticize others, let us see our own faults which we must route out. Let us work on cleansing our own minds and purifying our own hearts, and then extend that encouragement to others.

Let us turn hate to love, enmity to friendship, strangeness to familiarity, greed to generosity, war to peace, and fear into hope. Let us pray for the good of all, and grow with the challenges, finding strength in the Supreme. May God protect us in all directions and guide us through whatever difficulties that appear in our lives.

In conclusion, let us offer our respects to God, and let Him kindly vanquish our demon-like desires for selfish or fruitive activities in this material world. Please dear Lord, appear in our hearts and drive away our ignorance so that by Your mercy we may become fearless in the struggle for existence in this temporary realm. May there be good fortune throughout the universe, and may all envious persons be pacified. May all living beings become calm by practicing devotion to You, for by accepting such service they will realize Your Divinity in each and every person, and thus think of each other’s welfare. Therefore, let us all engage in the service of the Supreme Being, Lord Sri Krishna, and always remain absorbed in thought of Him. (Bhagavata Purana 5.18.8-9)


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It’s All Good by Bhaktimarga Swami

6428016670?profile=RESIZE_400xThis particular cyclist really gets around. I’ve met him now on so many different streets. I guess it’s mutual. I also get “out and about,” as the expression goes. My friend, on his two wheels, was telling me of his new program—a fast consisting of only water. He also mentioned a second abstinence—violence.

“I’m not listening to the news and not watching violent films like Thor or Captain America,” he said.

I assumed he feels light-hearted and more at peace with himself. He concurred when I asked him. Surely, when on that bike as frequently as he is, with feet off the ground, and moving not quite at the speed of light but moving quickly, he must find it to be liberating. When stationary he says he works on his kundalini.

“I wish you the best of days,” I expressed, bidding a good-bye until next time.

Actually it was already night time. I was held up on a zoom conference with local organic farmers. To be more accurate I was online with farmers who have all taken on eco-friendly lifestyles and who are Krishna Conscious.  On-board-presenters included people from as far west as Saranagati, in British Columbia, and as far east as Quebec. It is very impressive to see the development of these places.

Some people get high on a bike and others while working the land and animals. It’s all good!

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From Back to Godhead

A discussion on the options for the soul under the influence of Krishna’s material energy.

A controversy arose during a Sunday discussion at ISKCON’s Saranagati Village, in British Columbia, Canada. Some devotees quoted a famousBhagavad-gita verse (3.27) where Krishna says, “The spirit soul bewildered by the influence of false ego thinks himself the doer of activities that are in actuality carried out by the three modes of nature [goodness, passion, and ignorance].”

In other words, they said, although a person may think he or she is making choices, in fact those “choices” are chosen and that “freedom” is an illusion. We’re bound.

Other devotees read from another section of the Gita where Srila Prabhupada writes, “If one wants, he can develop, by practice, the mode of goodness and thus defeat the modes of ignorance and passion. One can similarly develop the mode of passion and defeat goodness and ignorance. Or one can develop the mode of ignorance and defeat goodness and passion. Although there are these three modes of nature, if one is determined he can be blessed by the mode of goodness.” (Gita 14.10, Purport)

In other words, they said, we’re not bound, because according to our desires, we choose how to act.

Prabhupada’s purports to the Srimad-Bhagavatam contain similar apparently contradictory statements: “The conditioned soul is forced to act under the pressure of the modes of material nature. The living entity has no independence.” (Bhag. 3.27.2, Purport) And on the other side: “One has to act in such a way that in spite of being in the material nature he is not affected by contamination.” (Bhag. 3.27.21, Purport)

So, are we forced to act by material nature, or do we freely choose how we act?

The answer is multifaceted.

Srila Prabhupada explains that spirit is independent, or free, and matter is dependent, or bound. (Life Comes from Life, Chapter 8) In this world, all living things are spiritual beings – spirit souls – encased in a material body. Lower species are completely controlled by the body they’re in and so, by God’s arrangement, are not responsible for their acts: they don’t incur karma. Srila Prabhupada writes, “Animals, birds, reptiles, and other lower life forms strictly adhere to the laws of nature; therefore there is no question of sin for them, nor are the Vedic instructions meant for them. Human life alone is a life of responsibility.” (Sri Ishopanishad, Mantra 1, Purport)

Krishna gifts humans with intelligence, and according to Srila Madhvacharya, persons above the age of fourteen are considered capable of distinguishing between good and bad and are thus culpable for their pious or sinful actions. (Bhag. 11.21.16, Purport) If we, whether devotees or nondevotees, are responsible for our acts, then it is only fair and logical that we are independently choosing what those acts will be. In other words, if we were forced to act, as the lower species are, then the law of karma would be unjust – we would be punished for doing what’s beyond our control.

If our actions were impelled by Krishna, Krishna would be responsible for our good and bad actions. By making some of us to do good action, resulting in enjoyment, and some do bad, resulting in suffering, Krishna would be partial and cruel. And if He were responsible for our actions, the reward or punishment for them should go to Him.

Although Krishna is the supreme controller and the ultimate doer, He does not accept responsibility for what happens to us. “The Supreme Lord does not assume anyone’s sinful or pious activities.” (Gita5.15)

If material nature forced us to act, it would be responsible for our actions – and their reactions. But material nature is inert matter. It has no consciousness; it simply facilitates our actions and awards us the fruits of our pious and impious material activities. Material nature is not responsible for what we do.

Krishna, the cause of all causes, reciprocates our desires by allowing material nature to fulfill them. Although Krishna has His own desires for us – He wants us to return to Him – He and material nature, remaining neutral, fulfill our desires. What we desire is our responsibility. According to our desires material nature allows us to act and then rewards or punishes us for our actions. So, regarding our desires, we are the doers. Regarding the facilitation and fruition of our desires, material nature is the doer (this validates Bhagavad-gita 3.27). And Krishna is the ultimate sanctioner.

In the purport to Srimad-Bhagavatam 10.87.25, Srila Prabhupada’s disciples write:

Srila Vyasadeva refutes this idea [that the soul is inactive] in the section of the Vedanta-sutra (2.3.31–39) that begins, karta shastrartha-vattvat: “Thejiva soul must be a performer of actions, because the injunctions of scripture must have some purpose.” Acharya Baladeva Vidyabhushana, in his Govinda-bhashya, explains: “The jiva, not the modes of nature, is the doer. Why? Because the injunctions of scripture must have some purpose (shastrartha-vattvat). For example, such scriptural injunctions as svarga-kamo yajeta (‘One who desires to attain to heaven should perform ritual sacrifice’) and atmanam eva lokam upasita (Brihad-aranyaka Upanishad1.4.15: ‘One should worship with the aim of attaining the spiritual kingdom’) are meaningful only if a conscious doer exists. If the modes of nature were the doer, these statements would serve no purpose. After all, scriptural injunctions engage the living entity in performing prescribed actions by convincing him that he can act to bring about certain enjoyable results. Such a mentality cannot be aroused in the inert modes of nature.”

As adult human beings, we are responsible for what we desire. That means we have the ability – the freedom – to choose our desires, whether pious or impious. One student works hard and does well; another with equally good intelligence wastes his time and fails. One manager is friendly, another tyrannical. These are choices we, as individuals, make. As a result we individually reap the good and bad consequences of our choices.

The Plot Thickens

There is more to it, however, than this. One may ask, why does one student choose to be lazy, one manager to be tyrannical?

Life is a continuum of birth, death, and rebirth. The body and circumstances we’re in now are not accidents but the results of our actions in previous lives. If in previous lives we ignored scriptural principles and instead tried to control and enjoy this material world, then in this life we will find ourselves proportionately more bound by the modes of material nature that govern this world. The God-given freedom we have as a spiritual being will be more covered. Srila Prabhupada explains, “When you are placed into the sea, you have no control. You move according to the waves. This means that there is a power that is controlling you. However, if you put yourself in better circumstances, you will be able to control.” (The Quest for Enlightenment, Chapter 6) Thus the more our activities contradict our identity as spiritual beings, the more we’re bound by the forces of material nature – goodness, passion, and ignorance.

Due to complex karmic reactions, a student is intelligent but lazy, a manager is qualified but demonic. They are awash in the sea, pushed by its waves of passion and ignorance. Yet, they are not helpless. Although limited, they still have freedom. Otherwise, the reactions they accrue for their actions – their karma – would be unjust. And there is no injustice in Krishna’s creation. This means the lazy student, the ogre manager have the innate free will to overcome their attitudes. The student can become industrious, the manager compassionate. No doubt this change is difficult and takes determination, but it’s not impossible. It can be done and has been. And it’s expected. We are meant to improve.

Devotees of Krishna are not exempt from the influence of the three modes of material nature. Kapiladeva, the son of Devahuti, explains:

There are multifarious paths of devotional service in terms of the different qualities of the executor. Devotional service executed by a person who is envious, proud, violent, and angry, and who is a separatist, is considered to be in the mode of darkness. The worship of Deities in the temple by a separatist, with a motive for material enjoyment, fame, and opulence, is devotion in the mode of passion. When a devotee worships the Supreme Personality of Godhead and offers the results of his activities in order to free himself from the inebrieties of fruitive activities, his devotion is in the mode of goodness. (Bhag. 3.29.7–10)

This is not to say, however, that devotees and nondevotees are the same, for Krishna favors His devotees. He preserves what they have, carries what they lack, gives them the understanding by which they can come to Him, and swiftly delivers them from the ocean of birth and death. “When one desires Krishna, the Lord takes special care and encourages one to desire in such a way that one can attain to Him and be eternally happy.” (Gita5.15, Purport)

Every one of us has some independence to chalk out the plan of our life. We are not helpless, and nothing is stereotyped. We can change our habits by good or bad association, and we need to become intelligent enough to discriminate between good and bad. We’re the cause of our bondage. “The living entity is the cause of the various sufferings and enjoyments in this world.” (Gita 13.21)

Srila Prabhupada explains:

Because he is a living soul, he has the capacity to desire by his free will. Such desire is fulfilled only by the omnipotent Lord. And so, when the living entity is bewildered in his desires, the Lord allows him to fulfill those desires, but the Lord is never responsible for the actions and reactions of the particular situation which may be desired. Being in a bewildered condition, therefore, the embodied soul identifies himself with the circumstantial material body and becomes subjected to the temporary misery and happiness of life. (Gita 5.15, Purport)

But we can also desire freedom and eternal happiness.

Transcending the Mode of Goodness

We humans are expected to be sane and to follow scriptural regulations to gradually elevate our consciousness. We cannot annihilate our desires, but we can transform them. In a letter, Srila Prabhupada wrote:

You cannot kill the human propensities, but they can be changed for higher purposes. You [spoke] of annihilation of desire, orvasana. But you can think on it very wisely if vasana can be stopped at all. No. Vasana can never be stopped. The vasana is an eternal function of the soul, and as the soul is eternal, orsanatana, so also is the vasana. Therefore vasana can be changed only from one object to another. The mind is always a thinking and feeling organ. It does not matter what [it thinks] but it is a fact that it thinks. I am sure that you cannot probably put the mind completely at rest without thinking something. So the quality of thinking, feeling, and willing has to be changed but we may not attempt to kill the mind altogether. That is an impossible fact because the mind acts even after the so-called death or after the annihilation of the material body. (Letter to Ved Prakashji, undated)

We can pray to Krishna to purify our desires. In the words of the greatacharya Bhaktivinoda Thakura,

kanaka-kamini-lobha, pratishtha-vasana
chadaiya shodha more, e mora prarthana

“To You I earnestly pray that You reform my greed for wealth and women and my yearning for name and position.” (Jaiva-dharma, Chapter 5)

In his song “Gopinatha,” Bhaktivinoda Thakura also fervently prays:

O Gopinatha, I can no longer tolerate the pain of ignorance and the cycle of repeated births and deaths. 
O Gopinatha, I am a confirmed servant of lust. Worldly desires are awakening in my heart, and thus the noose of fruitive work is beginning to tighten. 
O Gopinatha, when will I wake up and cast this enemy of lust far away, and when will You manifest Yourself in my heart? 
O Gopinatha, I am Your devotee, but because I abandoned You and thus forgot my real treasure, I have worshiped this mundane world.

When we understand the three modes of nature, their influence on us, and their ultimate controller, the Supreme Personality of Godhead, Sri Krishna, and when we act according to His instructions, we become gradually free of the influence of the material modes. Lord Krishna says, “By refraining from a particular sinful or materialistic activity, one becomes freed from its bondage.” (Bhag. 11.21.18) According to how covered we are by Krishna’s external, material energy, we’re that much bound. Thus the apparently contrary statements above are all valid.

Srila Prabhupada assures us that if we’re enthusiastic, patient, and determined to follow the process of devotional service to Krishna, not only can we be blessed by the mode of goodness but we can also transcend goodness and overcome the effects of karma. Then all the actions and reactions of our past activities will be nullified. In Krishna’s words, “One who engages in full devotional service, unfailing in all circumstances, at once transcends the modes of material nature and thus comes to the level of Brahman.” (Gita 14.26) And, “Abandon all varieties of religion and just surrender unto Me. I shall deliver you from all sinful reactions. Do not fear.” (Gita 18.66)

Simply by hearing about Krishna and His devotees, we will lose our longtime desire to control and enjoy this world, and as we gradually reduce our desire to dominate, we will proportionately enjoy spiritual happiness. A Vedic mantra says that as we associate with the Supreme Personality of Godhead, we proportionately relish our eternal blissful life.

So, eternal blissful life can be ours if we desire and pray for it. “When will Nityananda bestow His causeless mercy upon me so that my desire for material enjoyment will become very insignificant? When will that time come?” (Srila Narottama Dasa Thakura, Lalasamayi Prarthana 2). By the causeless mercy of our transcendental superiors, our desires will no longer be material, but spiritual. At that time the modes of goodness, passion, and ignorance will release their ironlike grip on us. We’ll be completely free.


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Many a times, we wonder “what bit of good have I done today ?” After all, everything said and done, life is pretty mechanical and also largely material. We follow the same working routines day after day, year in and year out, in whatever profession or calling we have chosen for ourselves, or had been pushed into or drifted into by the compulsions of need, convenience, location, education, ambition, or just innate personal proclivities. At times, to break the monotony, we go to a movie, or to the club or wherever we hope to find some pleasureable moments. Some of us have developed hobbies or inclinations which find expression in creative endeavours. But after the break or the holiday, we are back to the grind, in a manner of speaking.

Does this kind of “mechanical life” satisfy us emotionally ? Do we feel fulfilled in entirety ? Does the attainment of personal material milestones really endows us with permanent happiness or just plain contentment ? Is man’s intricate constitution and construction ‘designed’ in a manner that just the fulfillment of his rudimentary or more sophisticated material needs provides him with lifelong happiness ? Is life only the sum total of eating, sleeping, mating and defending ? If that is indeed so, then perhaps we might take satisfaction from the fact that man, being a social animal, is much more sophisticated than the other animals and smaller or lesser beings with whom we share this planet, and that we, as representative of man, have managed to wrest a greater portion of the resources of this planet for our own welfare, comforts, lifestyle and ‘sophistication’. We might even be tempted to repeat what George Orwell said in ‘Animal Farm’ : “all animals are equal but some animals are more equal than others”.

Some of us have been subconsciously or consciously involved in voluntary honorary service to our immediate communities, groups, clubs, NGOs, humans or other creatures in distress, whatever, in our quest to do what we perceive will give us greater personal and emotional satisfaction than what we might get if we just focused only on meeting our own personal milestones for material needs, by pursuing our own professional or business goals, for profit. This is sublimation, in which a person attains greater satisfaction in goals which go beyond himself and enjoins sympathetic consideration for others, charity, nobility of thought, and a broader vision which sees one’s true happiness in the fulfillment of aspirations which go beyond one’s personal ‘interests’. And it is this sublimation which leads man towards his ultimate happiness and contentment in this material life.

Let us see what the Srimad Bhagavad – Gita ( 18.37 to 39 ) says about happiness :
“That which in the beginning may be just like poison but at the end is just like nectar and which awakens one to self-realization is happiness in the mode of goodness ( satt gunn ).
That happiness which is derived from contact of the senses with their objects and which appears like nectar at first, but poison at the end, is of the nature of passion ( rajah gunn ).
And that happiness which is blind to self-realization, which is delusion from beginning to end and which arises from sleep, laziness and illusion is said to be of the nature of ignorance ( tamah gunn ).”

Happiness in tamah gunn or rajah gunn is fleeting and unsustainable, as it leads, by definition, to misery.


In his story “How much land does a man need ?”, the great Russian thinker and writer Leo Tolstoy has shown very poignantly that at the end of this life, a man needs a patch of land just 6 feet by 2 feet, where he can be put to rest. Even though such a statement could be considered by some as gauche or insensitive, it is very telling of our own realities and a reminder of the ‘final destination’ in this life, as well as an opportunity to question ourselves about our own dearly held assumptions and plans for the future.

The Srimad Bhagavad – Gita (18.05) states :
“Acts of sacrifice, charity and penance are not to be given up but should be performed. Indeed, sacrifice, charity and penance purify even the great souls”.

The process of sublimation involves ceasing one’s endeavours for personal gain and transforming the same endeavours to reach for a goal which entails a benefit to “others”, those who are less fortunate, less accomplished or lesser endowed than us.

The Srimad Bhagavad – Gita further states ( 18.11 and 12 ) :
“It is indeed impossible for an embodied being to give up all activities. Therefore it is said that he who renounces the fruits of action is one who has truly renounced.
For one who is not renounced, the threefold fruits of action – desirable, undesirable and mixed – accrue after death. But those who are in the renounced order of life have no such results to suffer or enjoy.”

Materially speaking thus, it is in our own interest to sublimate our activities and renounce the fruits of our endeavour, which clearly points the way to charity or charitable work. Lord Krishna states in the Srimad Bhagavad – Gita (16.10 and 11) :
“The demoniac, taking shelter of insatiable lust, pride and false prestige, and being thus illusioned, are always sworn to unclean work, attracted by the impermanent. They believe that to gratify the senses unto the end of life is the prime necessity of human civilization. Thus there is no end to their anxiety.”

While on the subject of sankhya yoga, (6.01 and 02), the Lord states :
“One who is unattached to the fruits of his work and who works as if he is obligated, is in the renounced order of life, and he is the true mystic – not he who lights no fire and performs no work.
What is called renunciation is the same as yoga, or linking oneself with the Supreme, for no one can become a yogi unless he renounces the desire for sense gratification.”

Those uninitiated into the spiritual knowledge of the Srimad Bhagavad – Gita might consider Arjuna as a very gifted and talented warrior (like Bruce Lee or Dara Singh or an Indiana Jones of ancient times), who ‘killed’ so many enemies on the battlefield. But in reality, Arjuna was fighting for a cause beyond his own personal needs or wants. In fact he came into the battlefield very reluctantly and initially refused to pick up his weapons. His eventual entry into the battle was an act of yoga, which went beyond consideration of his own feelings or likings. To say that he was a warrior merely ‘fighting’ in the battlefield would be superfluous. He was a true yogi who was convinced by what Lord Krishna had stated in (18.7 to 9):
“Prescribed duties should never be renounced. If, by illusion, one gives up his prescribed duties, such renunciation is said to be in the mode of ignorance ( tamah gunn ).
Anyone who gives up prescribed duties as troublesome, or out of fear, is said to be in the mode of passion ( rajah gunn ). Such action never leads to the elevation of renunciation.
But he who performs his prescribed duty only because it ought to be done, and renounces all attachment to the fruit – his renunciation is of the nature of goodness ( satt gunn ), O Arjuna.”

Arjuna automatically becomes a role model for those amongst us who have certain cherished ideals, and have mountains of difficulties to overcome ( including the limitations of our own thinking ) before attaining significant breakthroughs or success.


One may ask, out of the multitude of individuals who do voluntary charitable work for a cause beyond the fulfillment of their own personal needs, what contribution can one individual make, that will make a significant difference to society, one’s country, etc. ? To use a cliché, it is the little drops of water which create a large body of water such as the ocean. Little by little, individual endeavour, when pursued with sincerity and commitment, creates giant systems and eventually transforms whole communities or countries ( which provides the satisfaction and happiness for which an individual volunteers his time, efforts, money, etc; ). When Professor Muhammad Yunus, of Chittagong University, initiated his research project for delivery of micro credit to the most backward sections of Bangladeshi society in 1976, namely widows and poor single women with children in tow, little did he realize then that the Grameen Bank, which he had founded, would become the role model and initiator of similar models in other developing countries such as India, and would transform Bangladesh’s rural landscape in such a way that would earn him a Nobel Prize in later years. His subsequent removal from the chairmanship of the bank was a sordid affair, which reminds us that while we should provide support and leadership, and should work hard to create and sustain organizations, when those organizations attain maturity, we should hand over and move on in renunciation, and not try to hold on, which in any case would not be an act of charity, and which would be the cause of our own subsequent unhappiness or anguish.

The whole idea is to practise charity for a worthy or noble cause and not for one’s self aggrandizement. According to the Srimad Bhagavad – Gita ( 17.20 to 22) :
“That gift which is given out of duty, at the proper time and place, to a worthy person, and without expectation of return, is considered to be charity in the mode of goodness ( satt gunn ).
But charity performed with the expectation of some return, or with a desire for fruitive results, or in a grudging mood, is said to be charity in the mode of passion ( rajah gunn ).
And charity performed at an improper place and time and given to unworthy persons without respect and with contempt, is charity in the mode of ignorance ( tamah gunn ).”

Hence the Srimad Bhagavad – Gita, the crown jewel of India’s spiritual wisdom, and spoken by Lord Krishna Himself, openly advocates and fully endorses charity in its noblest form ( in satt gunn ).


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2515108933?profile=RESIZE_710xIt’s been another one of those weeks wherein caring for our severely autistic/mentally daughter has very nearly eclipsed all other activities. Again. Same as every minute of every day. For years on end. In order that we might truly learn and grow deeper with sincere affection from the difficult experience which the Supreme Lord has sent as mercy to reform us from all selfish considerations. Or complaint (tat te nukumpam…) about the severe circumstance we must necessarily endure. As each endless day of severest ordeal crawls on it’s long journey into darkest night. Iron character is forged in the fire of ordeal. We are thusly compelled to continue anew each morning with our impossible life. As if the material energy had focused like a club specifically fashioned to brutally beat the spirit of mundane enjoyment completely from our consciousness. In order to cause all superficiality of being to be harshly scoured like a veneer from our souls.

Needless to say, we don’t worry much about threats of nuclear war, global famine or possible pandemics. Because universal devastation is continually revisited upon us as a constant daily occurrence within our household. As if this life were only training for the next hardship. And even the promise of eventual death is no guarantee that the next life will be any better (“Hello Mr. Sunshine!”) in our learning sojourn into Forever. And our journey to Love.

Much of our present difficulty is pertaining to our daughter’s full onset of OCD (Obsessive Compulsive Disorder) with her becoming an adult. Apparently, with adulthood various symptoms of OCD manifest within childhood can often become intensified and more severe. This has certainly been the case with our daughter who now has become completely obsessed with endlessly repeating each and every ordinary everyday activity. As if she were trapped in a rut of endless repetition—while constantly looking to us to reassure and somehow facilitate her every movement. Like she had become a zombie who also takes a certain perverse glee in observing our frustrations as we have to repeatedly urge her to take each bite of food. And each sip of water.

After finally being toilet-trained at nine years old (we used to jokingly refer to this important day as Independence Day because it happened on the Fourth of July) her obsessive compulsions have nearly caused this to be lost as she requires constant prompting for every little thing. And I mean every little thing. After being able to dress herself since early childhood—she is now unable to do so. Or completely unwilling—at least. And gleefully resists attempts to help her do what she already knew how to do. Each moment only feels like a lifetime. Her OCD has caused her to often violently demand (for her mother especially) to be forced to fulfill her every little need. As we dance madly backwards on thin ice trying to avoid potentially dangerous emotional outbursts. While simultaneously worrying about the neighbors might “think” of the ongoing litany of accompanying primal screams (“The hurricane inside the house has just started WWIII again—would someone please shut the windows!”).

OCD can be treated in cognitive adults who wish to achieve some measure of rehabilitative therapy. Of their own volition. Our child is more like a chimpanzee. Wild. And almost without any language skills whatsover. There is absolutely no possibility of a medical professional trying to “communicate” or reason with her about getting help overcoming an disorder which she not only doesn’t see as a problem—but actually a cause of self-stimulation. This combined with the self-stimulating textbook SIB (Self-Injurious Behavior) which she exhibits in a severe way common to many autistics. Apparently many severely autistic people eventually have all their all their teeth removed after they’ve finally picked away at their gumlines to expose raw nerves at the root. Like camels who enjoy eating thorns because of the bloody taste and “pleasurable” pain which is thereby incurred.

Whew! Thank God for small slivers! Life stings. And how was your day?

In the past couple of years that I’ve been publishing articles for the worldwide Hare Krishna community, I have often wondered about other special needs children (and their brave-hearted loving parents), but have heard very little about them. In fact, almost nothing as if they were merely some unpleasantness to be marginalized, discounted and swept beneath the “carpet.” Some time ago, after reading “Futility is the Principle,” parents of a special needs child contacted me for advice. From what they told me of their impending ordeal they were handling it quite well in a Krishna Conscious way. But were nonetheless very dismayed by the apparent lack of compassion which they had experienced from “devotee” friends in their local temple community. And they were very surprised to discover that non-devotee “karmis” were actually more compassionate and sympathetic to their parenting ordeal. Although the name of their child has been changed in respect for their privacy and anonymity what follows is the parent-to-parent advice I gave them. May Sri Guru and the Supreme Lord Shri Krishna Chaitanyadev kindly bless them and other loving parents of special needs children with ever deeper spiritual understanding with which to embrace their difficulty and lovingly raise their children.

Parent-to Parent

It sounds like your long first two years with “Hari” is more physically severe than what we initially experienced with our daughter (who has become more difficult as she has grown older, larger and bigger). Hopefully, you have a good relationship with your pediatrician. This can be very helpful. When your son begins to walk pay special attention to toe-walking which can denote autism. Because our daughter cannot speak we haven’t been able to have her vision tested. But as your child’s speech hopefully develops it might be more possible for you to do so.

I’m sorry to hear of the obvious lack of real compassion which you have experienced with those local practitioners of Krishna Consciousness with whom you have contact. It is shocking to perceive firsthand that those who should be repositories of Mercy and Divine Grace can sometimes be so devoid of basic compassion. Unfortunately, this stonehearted mood appears to have permeated much of the world in a way that is almost too awkwardly painful to mention.

Our own experience is that by having a child which requires special attention and greater affection from the parents forces us to go to a much deeper place of real love which transcends philosophical theory. Those who make a mere catechism of philosophical theory (without actual realization and maturity of insight) cannot appreciate or understand the potentially positive transformation unconditional affection may have upon the heart. Please forgive them for what they obviously do not have the “eyes” to “see.” (All of us can only ” see” what we can “see.” And “be” what we can “be.”)

What advice I would give to good parents like yourselves with a very young child with special needs and developmental delay is to love them with all your heart in an extremely unconditional way. Such affection with the help of Supersoul (the Guru within) will teach you deep things which might not be possible to learn from the Scriptures alone (or from ceremonial religiosity alone).

Resist the natural temptation to compare your child with any other “normal” children. You are souls. You must see this child as a soul which might be helped greatly by the influence of transcendental sound vibration erupting from your own hearts and out into the ether which surrounds you in your own home. Make your child like a Deity by your devotions towards whom you are constantly singing the kirtan of Sri Hari! Formal considerations of official puja or temple worship may become less possible because of the natural constraints of your own situation. This makes it so as a soul you must make the vibration of Hari kirtan from your own heart, lungs and tongue a constant existential salient point until the Holy Name Itself becomes your Deity. Please know that this child who has appeared to you with the name “Hari” is a great Mercy upon you so that you will be completely consumed with the Holy Name “Hari” which you will be sure to hear, chant and r emember with great forebearance.

Depending on degree of severity in your child’s impairment, possibly some help might be derived from conventional medicine or alternative therapies. With affectionate discernment avail yourselves of what help you might be able to get, but don’t be disappointed if convention largely fails you in your noble sojourn to find help for your child. Be wary of alternative “therapies” which self-promote “cures” under the auspices of an expensive price tag (which often inadvertently exposes insipid profit motivations by charlatans). And if possible avoid conventional medicine’s standard approach to prescribe pharmaceutical ameliorations (as a last resort they wanted to prescribe respirdol for our daughter which is a powerful anti-psychotic with potentially fatal side effects like diabetes and an otherwise rare form of liver cancer).

At first our daughter was diagnosed with PDD (Pervasive Developmental Delay) at the age of three. At age four we received the full-on diagnosis of autism. Nothing has helped us more than being literally forced to “fly our own planes” and become the souls we really were. Finally. After all. At last.

From such informal inspirational depth of being we can “see” that as loving parents we are indeed fully-equipped as jiva souls to deal with all adversity (‘adversiddhi?”) which comes our way by the Sweet Will of Providence. And that such external difficulty is not only not a “bad” thing but is actually our true inmost necessity and requirement come to help us become reformed within (tat te nukumpam…) and awakened with actual spiritual consciousness in a way that is completely transcendental to any external considerations whatsoever. If we can catch the gist of such a penetrating idea and embrace our apparent hardship with grace, courage and compassion it can transform our world in an extremely positive way.

Please know that I also suffered a great deal emotionally as my long sought after first born child was diagnosed as autistic and mentally retarded. They might as well have given me the news of her death, which is how it felt at first. I was emotionally devastated by this and it very nearly ruined my life at the time. I went from being a top Ford salesman to being virtually unable to sell anything (after a lifetime of sales work). I cried a lot with self-pity, “Why me, God?” This caused me to call out to Krishna as if I was at the time of my own death. Eventually, by His Grace I evolved from within to divest myself of all self-pity (as the most useless human emotion) by harmonizing spiritually from deep within until I could ask, “Why not me, God?”

Unfortunately, we are also very shocked to see that some “devotees” have very little compassion towards each other or especially towards the “meat-eating, demon, karmis” who they often appear to like sneering down their noses at with impervious disdain. For many years I have not viewed other souls who do not know of Krishna consciousness with such hateful disregard. I see “non-devotees” as souls in forgetfulness of their true inner natures. Yet, I nonetheless feel compelled to share affectionate friendship with them. As I always seek the goodness within others as fragmental portions of the same Supreme Spirit which suffuses all beings and all things. And I hope that by my unconditional friendship with them t hey might eventually become positively influenced towards real spiritual awakenment in a very positive way.

Please forgive me for saying that those persons who demonstrate a manifest lack of genuine concern for the suffering of others are themselves suffering from want of compassion in their lives which are dried up by extreme tendencies towards philosophical theory and subsequent heartless renunciation. Please show them your unconditional compassion and affection also.


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6400307471?profile=RESIZE_584xDear Maharajas and Prabhus,

Please accept my humble obeisances. All glories to Srila Prabhupada.

The Global Devotee Care Directorate is pleased to announce the launch of a new website for the pleasure of Srila Prabhupada, and all the devotees.

Spiritual Care is one of the critical areas of Devotee Care. To facilitate this Spiritual Care element, we have brought together various online courses run by different ISKCON institutions in the area of Scriptures, Spiritual practices and Skills, and made it accessible from this one website. We have categorized them in different levels based on one’s level of connection with the philosophy.

We have made an earnest & humble effort to bring them on one platform to facilitate better accessibility.

If you are aware of any other online courses which may be added here from any of ISKCON’s centres then you may send those details on the ‘Contact Us’ button on the top of the site.

Thank you.

Your servant,

Gauranga Das

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For Srila Prabhupada, the term “Society, Friendship and Love,” was used to refer to the primary allurement which keeps us shackled in the material world of illusion and suffering. The following excerpt is indicative of his general usage of the term:

Persons who are conditioned in the society, friendship, and love, this is the attraction for material life. “Society, friendship and love,” they think, “divinely bestowed upon man.” But that, it is not divinely bestowed upon man. From spiritual point of view, it is the gift of maya. Society, friendship and love is the gift of maya, illusion. (SB 3.25.23, Lecture, Nov 10 1968)

In the same lecture, Srila Prabhupada vividly describes just how society, friendship and love are illusory:

So we like society, friendship. Oh, I do not know how many intimate friendship I had, but those are now just like dream, everything finished. Now I am making new friendships with your countrymen, with you younger boys of this country, and I have forgotten the friendship which I made the whole life in India. So this friendship, this love, this society, this country—everything illusion. Just like dream. (SB 3.25.23, Lecture, Nov 10 1968)

Does this imply that Srila Prabhupada’s present association with his disciples is but another dream, another phase of illusion? It is clear that Srila Prabhupada used the term to refer to material association. Spiritual association is eternal, and has eternal value.

The phrase, “society, friendship and love” may be traced to a poem by William Cowper entitled “The Solitude of Alexander Selkirk”, where, oddly enough, they are associated with the soothing benefits of religion, and may almost imply spiritual association. The stanza in question runs as follows:

Society, Friendship, and Love

Divinely bestow’d upon man,

O had I the wings of a dove

How soon would I taste you again!

My sorrows I then might assuage

In the ways of religion and truth,

Might learn from the wisdom of age,

And be cheer’d by the sallies of youth.

Alexander Selkirk’s adventures in the South Pacific were the source of another well-known piece of Literature: Daniel Defoe’s Robinson Crusoe. The four years Alexander Selkirk spent marooned on a desert island fascinated the English public of the early 18th century, and were remarked by his companions to have effected a wonderful transformation of his somewhat roguish character. It was observed that Selkirk had attained a certain peace of mind after spending over four years on the island, where his only mental occupation, after securing food and shelter, was his daily reading of the Bible. But the change in his character appears to have been short-lived: he returned to his former unruly ways in the association of fellow buccaneers.

All of which raises another question: just what is the value, or the price, of association? The example of a man shipwrecked on an island was given by Father Tanner in a lively debate with Srila Prabhupada concerning the real situation regarding Srila Prabhupada’s disciples. Were they really pure, or was their apparent purity of conduct merely the effect of their temporary association? A man shipwrecked on an island may live a very pure life while on the island, and the effect of his solitude may last some time after being rescued, but, like Alexander Selkirk, he is bound to fall back to his old ways once placed in his old environment.

Srila Prabhupada’s response to this argument is telling: a person is considered pure so long as he remains engaged in a purifying process. What may happen in the future, or in different circumstances is not important. He is to be accepted for what he is at present.

The Father found something wanting in this view, feeling perhaps that it entails a sort of hypocrisy, or only an outward show of purity. Srila Prabhupada’s answer was that the process of devotional service is both internal and external. The difficulty for the Father seems to be one of choice: if it is possible for someone who is once pure to become impure by his own choosing, how can he ever be considered to have been pure? But purity never entails a loss of freedom. Srila Prabhupada answers succinctly: “I say that there is every chance of falling down. That is up to you to keep fit.” (Room Conversation, July 11 1973).


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