- Bhaktisiddhanta Sarasvati
Lecture on Srimad Bhagavatam, Canto 8, Chapter 6, Text 20 by Guruprasad Swami.
O demigods, fulfilling one's own interests is so important that one may even have to make a truce with one's enemies. For the sake of one's self-interest, one has to act according to the logic of the snake and the mouse.
A snake and a mouse were once caught in a basket. Now, since the mouse is food for the snake, this was a good opportunity for the snake. However, since both of them were caught in the basket, even if the snake ate the mouse, the snake would not be able to get out. Therefore, the snake thought it wise to make a truce with the mouse and ask the mouse to make a hole in the basket so that both of them could get out. The snake's intention was that after the mouse made the hole, the snake would eat the mouse and escape from the basket through the hole. This is called the logic of the snake and the mouse.
Part 1 : The setting
Probably will go down in the history of my insignificant life as the best weekend I have ever had. It was fantastic ! While many of my friends and work mates decided to stay at home to enjoy the long weekend break (Monday was a public holiday here) and also to avoid the harsh weather reported (rain, heavy cold winds) , I decided to venture out. I would be spending 3 days with 120 odd Melbourne devotees, His Grace Bhurijana prabhu and HG Jagattarini mataji at the New Nandagram farm of ISKCON Melbourne temple. This would be my first set of classes with these 2 exalted devotees. I had heard so much about the pair, that I immediately decided to go when I first heard about it few months ago. Luckily, I got a place before it ran out.
The New Nandagram Farm is about 60 miles and took us about 2 hours to get there. All devotees had arranged their own cars and rides from the city. The farm, as I had written before in previous posts last year, is calm and beautiful. One good reason to have classes here is that there are no distractions. Once you are here, you are basically locked in for a few days. No mobile phones, no Internet, no outside world. It’s just trees, grass, fresh clean air, devotees, gurus, prasad, Gaura Nitai and Sri Radha Krishna. The farm has their own cows, accommodation facilities as well as a nice and small temple. As devotees, what more could we ask for.
It had already drizzled on Friday night. And perhaps, few days in the past as well. On arrival one could see the fresh grass making its way out of the ground, the smell of fresh soil was there and the wind was getting a bit cold. But still as far as the eyes and nose were concerned, it was tranquility everywhere. And everyone looked absolutely happy to be there. Happiness begets happiness. Some devotees went for a walk, others started to set the rooms up and I decided to look around.
Not sure why or perhaps I didn’t explore enough, but these were the only two flowers I could find to photograph at the farm. There were plenty of trees, bush and grass all around but couldn’t find many wild flowers. As I took the photo, I was thinking to myself, “2 yellow flowers, like Gaurasundara and Nityananda“. And these flowers were just outside the temple room. Speaking about our dear Gaura Nitai, even they decided to attend in full force. They came in many numbers !
WoW, I say ! There were another 2 but I forgot to take Their pictures. Like me, many others were surprised and delighted to see many Gaura Nitai’s all over the altar. People gazed for a long time from one deity set to another. I was also inspired to have one for myself. One day, I shall. But that “one day” is a long way away from me now. Lot’s to improve in my devotional service. That’s one of the things you learn from such weekend getaways with devotees. You get to see the depth of their devotion and the progress each one has made. Truly inspiring.
Srila Prabhupad was there too, looking all wrapped up in wollens, warm and cozy. He looked the most motivated, happiest and raring to go ahead with the 3 days of program !
I love altar set-ups. And this new one at the farm was thrilling. It was big and draped in beautiful blue, violet and burgundy silk cloth. Nice choice of colors. Although it was bright, it really went well with all the Gaura Nitai deities and candles. Beautiful flower garlands and petals were there as well along with fragrant incense.
The entire setting outside and inside the farm house was perfect. Everyone appreciated all the efforts put in. We were ready. May the class, prayers and honouring prasadam begin !
I am busy, very busy and tired, very tired, which is why I am not giving more detail about what is going on in my garden which is both exciting and frustrating with successes and failures.
We had some dry weather leading up to Memorial Day so I made a push to get some ground worked up. I used adrenaline to drive myself for 4 straight days. Of course, I still didn’t get up to full time work, but was having some 8 hour days, fairly physical.
I worked hard Memorial day morning up to 2 in the afternoon then went to a cookout and consumed about 10,000 calories and sat up for the rest of the day.
For the next two days I couldn’t get off the couch, had to lay down the whole time which was a reminder to myself why I pace myself normally and don’t push, because if I do push hard I end up too wasted to do anything and it all averages out anyway.
I usually spend a few hours on the couch in the afternoon, one reason for which is if I don’t my ankles swell up, even if I just sit up all day, I need the feet up time. Now I have realization that I also need the rest.
The third day I was able to sit up but it was the fourth before I was able to go out again.
I also had my monthly blood work results come back showing all 3 liver enzyme results as being high, the first time that has happened since my liver transplant 3 years ago. I don’t know if that is a cause for my seemingly increased fatigue or if the overexertion was the cause of the high enzymes.
I may have hit my peak and now be on the downside of energy levels again. I had been feeling better this spring than since 2004, hopefully I can get back up to at least that level.
Anyway, I keep picking away at the garden using all the available energy I do have and am not too far behind. So the busy is relative to energy, not time. Hopefully I can provide more details on the garden later.Posted in News, Ramblings or Whatever
The most merciful 500 year old ancient deities of Rajapur, Sri Jaganath, Baladeva and Subhadradevi kindly allowed Themselves to be bathed continuously for four hours by His loving devotees. This ceremonial bathing of the Lordships before the Ratha yatra or Chariot festival is called Snana Yatra or Devasnana Purnima. According to Skanda Purana when Raja Indradyumna installed the deities in Puri, he arranged this bathing ceremony. This day is considered to be the birth-day of Lord Jagannath. Devotees from Mayapur fetched water from Ganges and went on harinam procession to Rajapur to observe Snana Yatra Purnima festival. The deities were brought into the beautifully decorated Snana Mantap and offered abhisheka. Endless stream of devotees waited in a big queue to get their chance to personally bathe the Lord.
The following is a short description by HH Bhakti Charu Swami Mahraja about His final Order of Renunciation on June 07, 2009.The following is a short description by HH Bhakti Charu Swami Mahraja about His final Order of Renunciation on June 07, 2009.
The following is a Śrīmad Bhāgavatam class given by H.H. Bhakti Charu Swami on 07 June 2009 at ISKCON Ujjain.
To download the lecture, right click on the download link and choose either “Save link as” or “Save target as”
Pankajanghri Prabhu has served in Sri Dham Mayapur since 1971. He and his twin brother, Jananivasa Prabhu, have become world famous as the exemplary “pujari brothers”. For nearly forty years, they have been serving the Deities in Mayapur with steady dedication as instructed by Srila Prabhupada. Pankajanghri Prabhu is also on the Mayapur community’s Management Board and a facilitator at Mayapur Academy, an institution commited to brahminical training.
Known for his friendly dealings and great sense of humor, Pankajanghri Prabhu enchants devotees with his incredible accounts of Lord Jagannath, Baladeva, and Subhadra and Lord Nrsimhadeva’s very personal dealings with Their devotees in Mayapur.
By Radha-Vrindaban Chandra’s mercy, we have the good fortune of hearing from him right here! Please partake of this special opportunity on Monday & Tuesday evening after Evening Arati (7:30pm). You’ll be enthralled and enlivened!
Pankajanghri Prabhu will also give Bhagavatam class on Wednesday morning and hold an istagosthi with the pujaris (TBA). For more info, contact Ananda Tirtha Das on 304-845-9591.
From Srila Prabhupada:
Tamal Krsna: These two pujaris, the two brothers…
Prabhupada: They’re ideal.
Tamal Krsna: …they look like they’re out of the Caitanya-caritamrta. They appear as two persons right out of that book.
Prabhupada: Yes. Very good boys.
Tamal Krsna: Vaikuntha men.
Prabhupada: Oh, yes. They do not know except the duty. Very good boys.
Tamal Krsna: Perfect team of brothers.
Srila Prabhupada told one of his Mayapur managers, “I have noticed those two brothers. They are wonderful devotees. They never speak nonsense, they’re gentle, and they’re always meditating on Sri Sri Radha-Madhava.
Monday, June 8th 7:30 pm (Temple Room)–Amazing Pastimes of Lord Jagannatha in Mayapur
Tuesday, June 9th 7:30 pm (Temple Room)–Miraculous Displays of Nrsimhadeva’s Mercy
Wednesday: Srimad-Bhagavatam Class
We also have with us for the first time HH Bhakti Sundar Goswami, formerly Jagat-caksur Das ACBSP, who will give the Srimad-Bhagavatam classes on Tuesday and Thursday!
Tune in to http://www.krishna.com/nv to hear the live audio if you can’t make it in person!
Daily various brajavasi and vaisnava camps have come to assist, to take advantage of this bhakti seva. This is the real reason for this cleaning, allowing one and all some direct Goloka sevas.
With numerous colourful pots filled with lovingly prepared chipped rice, festive flags and banana leaves, sweet kirtana sounds in the air and a large gathering of vaisnavas around SriSRi Gaura-Nitai, the Sri Mayapur International School was transformed into the village of Panihati on the banks of the Ganga
Through the ISKCON Prison Ministry, many inmates take to the chanting of the Holy Names, to the study of the philosophy, to amazing Krsna Conscious artwork, as well as to organizing programs for the benefit of other inmates in the same jail.
"Last night I dreamt of Prabhupada. He was gathering all his disciples together and asking them if they took his instructions seriously. Different devotees spoke up and gave proofs of how they had pleased him and done outstanding service. I showed a proof from a newspaper that I had done some good service. Prabhupada was very serious at the meeting and not easily convinced by the devotees’ proofs."
Satsvarupa dasa Goswami - June 8, 4:56 A.M.
There was a rock ‘n roll show on in the neighborhood last night, but I put my earplugs in and slept peacefully. I didn’t wake until 4:15 A.M. I will be behind on rounds.
Chanting japa is my solemn duty. Even if you get up late, you have to chant your japa, gradually catching up with the quota. Don’t be sloppy because it’s late. Slow down and be patient and execute the yajna with a sane mind. Repeat the syllables patiently. Try to think of Radha and Krishna. Don’t worry, they will get done, they will get done. It’s a simple thing. Anyone can do it. We should not push it to a corner of the mind and dwell on other things because of its simplicity. Give the mind’s full attention to this simplicity. It’s a prayer to which you can give your whole heart. Call out to Krishna, the Supreme Lord, by saying His name. Call out to Radha, our eternal benefactor, by calling Her name. They can help you. Be sure of that. Use your time for this, and other things can get done at another time. Let it be a day of catching up. But I can chant with leisure and steadfastness. It is not a day to rush. Neither is it a day to be remorseful, but just take it in stride that you have to give your time to the chanting and not to other things. The mantras are a gift and should be handled gratefully. It is no different from another day, except you have more time to dedicate, more time to build the quota, more time to do it nicely. Less time for other things, but that’s all right, because you’re doing the primary thing, and so your day is not wasted, not in the least.
There was heavy fog when we came out to the beach, but the sun is gradually cutting through. We met a man collecting aluminum cans from the trash bins. Narayana engaged him in conversation. The man said he once got a hundred cans out of one of the trash bins, but prices for aluminum are rock-bottom now. He said he’s going to continue collecting and hoping things will get back to normal. The tractor man is here but too far away to give us a wave. The sea is very calm. A few days ago, I wrote that Narayana said we should like to take a day off each week and rest. What he meant was we should use it like ekadasi and do extra sadhana, chanting and hearing. A devotee wrote me and said that at the Alachua temple, many devotees take the weekend off and don’t attend the morning program. He said he didn’t approve and that this wasn’t Prabhupada’s standard. Last night I dreamt of Prabhupada. He was gathering all his disciples together and asking them if they took his instructions seriously. Different devotees spoke up and gave proofs of how they had pleased him and done outstanding service. I showed a proof from a newspaper that I had done some good service. Prabhupada was very serious at the meeting and not easily convinced by the devotees’ proofs.
I don’t like it when I think of him as being so stern but prefer his being pleased with us. Some of us think that Prabhupada will appear at the time of our death and speak up to Krishna on our behalf. I guess the idea comes from our knowing Prabhupada was very compassionate and grateful for the services devotees rendered him. The Bhagavad-gita states that even a little service will never be lost and will save us from the greatest fear. The greatest fear is that the yamadutas will come for us and punish us after death. We think of Prabhupada as a vishnuduta who will come and stand between us and the yamadutas.
Today I have to spend extra time chanting my rounds, but I will get all my journal writing done as well. There’s time for everything in a day, even if you get a headache.
“Festival Sketch.” A festival is an occasion where crowds gather, many devotees and persons who are not devotees but who are attracted to the festival booths and performances of kirtana, prasadam distribution, dramas and dances. There are also lectures held at festivals. Some devotees prefer to hold their festivals quietly in their bhajana-kutirs by chanting japa and reading Srimad-Bhagavatam. Milt Jackson resonates a quiet festival. John Lewis’ piano is behind him. This could be a concert at the festival. Hundreds of people could gather on foldup chairs and listen to “Festival Sketch,” played by MJQ. It could be a Krishna conscious festival with krsna-prasadam being distributed. They start to play fast, and people tap their toes. They’re wearing Jagannatha T-shirts, and Jagannatha is on His cart in the distance. The devotees are enjoying this “Festival Sketch” by the MJQ. It’s giving a lively feeling to the festival. The festival is a success. MJQ has added something to it, a jazz performance. The subdued, classical feeling to their playing makes people peaceful and at the same time enlivened. They’ll give a big applauds when it’s over. These are very professional, talented musicians, and the festival organizers are lucky to have gotten them to come to the festival. They came because they’re inclined to help devotees, and some of them are Krishna conscious themselves. They end it quietly with Milt Jackson’s long resonation on the keys.
“Bags’ Groove.” “Bags” is Milt Jackson’s nickname. On this one, a guest artist appears, Sonny Rollins, on tenor sax. He plays the melody along with the MJQ, and it’s a definite addition. The crowd digs Sonny. He’s not show-offy but understated, leaving space for the MJQ to play by themselves, and adding his own solos also. They take it at mid-tempo, with a definite swing to it. It’s “Bags’ Groove,” so Milt Jackson’s vibraphone is featured. The drum is nice and pronounced, kicking the rhythm along, and Percy Heath on bass is steady and soft. The drum is definitely with it. After Bags’ solo, the crowd applauds, then Sonny Rollins comes in. His tenor improvisations are noteworthy. He plays with the tune, and bends it, and changes it. He’s brilliant. The afternoon is pleasant, and the crowd enjoys this extra instrumental group. Some of them have their prasadam plates in their laps. Others are standing or wandering by. There’s a good hundred people sitting and listening attentively. It’s a great addition to the festival of Jagannatha. Jagannatha listens from His cart, along with Baladeva and Subhadra. They’re being fanned with a camara, and they’re smiling. Sonny Rollins stands in a bent position, very cool. He hits lower notes and then goes up the scale. It’s so enjoyable to hear him. The crowd applauds when he finishes, and John Lewis plays on piano. He plays the actual melody instead of improvising. He plays it sparingly on upper notes. He then starts to play with lively chords, then the whole group plays together. Sonny’s playing the melody softly, the MJQ behind him. Then he comes to an end with three blasts on his horn, and the audience applauds enthusiastically.
“Night in Tunisia.” This is Dizzy Gillespie’s famous tune. Sonny plays it with telegrahic, Morse-code kinds of notes to begin with. The MJQ plays like a beautiful summer day, and the afternoon rides on, the people enjoying the music. They play at mid-tempo, and Sonny takes an improvising solo. The audience is held spellbound. They know they won’t get much more of this, so they’re attentive and tapping their toes. More people come and gather. It’s standing room only now. Bags plays a soft solo for “Night in Tunisia.” It’s all very polite, while at the same time very moving. It’s nice the way the peoples’ attention is caught, and yet they’re just sitting back enjoying the afternoon at the Hare Krishna festival. They applaud Bags’ solo, and John Lewis starts to play. He plays delicately and sparingly. The drummer backs him up. Then they do a thing where John strikes long chords, running his fingers down the piano, and Sonny joins him. There couldn’t be a better way to spend an afternoon. They end it by slowing down and giving Sonny room for an extended improvisation, which he loves to do, twisting notes and finally screaming.
I wish to come closer to You. This cannot be done by yoga or meditation. It can only be done by devotional service. Devotional service means performing acts of loving work offered to You. It can be done by reading Srimad-Bhagavatam and other bhakti shastras. It can be done by sharing Krishna conscious knowledge with devotees and those unacquainted with Krishna. But they have to be openminded and eager to hear. It can be done by praying, chanting Your names. Chanting also has a special requirement: it has to be done without offenses to the holy names. One can do all of these acts or others, or only one of them. But they have to be done without duplicity. One can choose a form of devotional service that suits his or her taste.
You can do more of your favorite service, or you can try a new form and see if you like it. We don’t have much time in the human form of life, so it might be nice to try something new and see if it sparks you. Try hitting a hardball for extra bases. Change your razor blade once a week and keep a closer shave. The more you can associate with advanced devotees, the more you’ll learn. No advanced devotees available to you? Then cultivate your own self more seriously with better and more chanting; read more; listen to lecture tapes by talented speakers, by Prabhupada. Don’t be stagnant.
My dear Lord Krishna, I want to come closer to You. I can’t seem to do it. But theoretically, I know the ways to do it, so I just have to apply them. I need to be determined to try harder, more intelligently. Apply a little more salt. Pump your legs on the exercise bike. Speak up at the dinnertable and ask for what you want. Don’t be annoyed when Dattatreya makes a good suggestion, but carry it out. Or don’t. Be alive. Stay awake and chant. Take rest when you need it. Be one of your own best friends and act for your own good.
I know You will help me, Lord, and I have to trust in that. I need to turn to You for direction. I need to follow Your statements in Bhagavad-gita and Prabhupada’s statements in his purports. Be attentive and active in this. Be confident that if you follow Krishna, you’ll become Krishna conscious.
My dear Lord Krishna, You are my shelter. You are my caitya-guru, and I must tune in and follow you with my heart. I must practice and learn how to do this. You are offering me a true plan, and I need to be aware of it and follow it. It is not very complicated, but it requires courage and faith. I must follow my own intelligence (because I have to), but I must follow Your instructions as a disciple follows his guru. Please teach me how to harmonize my intelligence with Your superior instructions so I will be practical and successful.
In 1986, Peter Davies was on holiday in Kenya after graduating from Northwestern University.
On a hike through the bush, he came across a young bull elephant standing with one leg raised in the air. The elephant seemed distressed, so Peter approached it very carefully.. He got down on one knee, inspected the elephants foot, and found a large piece of wood deeply embedded in it. As carefully and as gently as he could, Peter worked the wood out with his knife, after which the elephant gingerly put down its foot.
The elephant turned to face the man, and with a rather curious look on its face, stared at him for several tense moments. Peter stood frozen, thinking of nothing else but being trampled. Eventually the elephant trumpeted loudly, turned, and walked away. Peter never forgot that elephant or the events of that day.
Twenty years later, Peter was walking through the Chicago Zoo with his teen aged son. As they approached the elephant enclosure, one of the creatures turned and walked over to near where Peter and his son Cameron were standing. The large bull elephant stared at Peter, lifted its front foot off the ground, then put it down. The elephant did that several times then trumpeted loudly, all the while staring at the man.
Remembering the encounter in 1986, Peter could not help wondering if this was the same elephant. Peter summoned up his courage, climbed over the railing, and made his way into the enclosure. He walked right up to the elephant and stared back in wonder. The elephant trumpeted again, wrapped its trunk around one of Peter legs and slammed him against the railing killing him instantly.
Probably wasn’t the same elephant.Posted in Jokes
“In my last birth I was born in the family of cowherd men, and I gave protection to the calves and cows. Because of such pious activities, I have now become the son of a brahmana.” – Lord Chaitanya (Chaitanya-charitamrta, Adi Lila 7.111)
Throughout history many traditional societies have centered on a particular animal, and the relations the people develop with that animal influence the values of the whole society. We think of the role of buffalo in shaping the lives and values of the Native Americans of the Plains. Similarly, we think of the Laplanders and their reindeer, or even the New England whaling villagers and the whales.
In each case, without a particular animal the culture of the people would be entirely different. Because of relations to that animal, whether by shooting, herding, or sailing after it, the society encourages attributes such as toughness, bravery, gentleness, or respect for nature.
Vedic culture centers on the cow. In fact, without cows there can be no true Vedic culture. Veda means “knowledge” – in the highest sense, spiritual knowledge. And as Srila Prabhupada explains, cow protection and brahminical culture are “the two pillars of spiritual advancement.” (Srimad Bhagavatam 1.17.20)
Now, it is easy for even an outsider to understand why brahminical culture is considered indispensable for spiritual advancement. After all, brahmanas are the disseminators of spiritual knowledge and the exemplary maintainers of spiritual standards, just like the priestly class in any society.
But what about cows? What do cows have to do with spiritual advancement? And why cows? Why not sheep or goats or horses?
In his purport to Lord Chaitanya’s statement above, Srila Prabhupada gives us the clue. “The words of Lord Chaitanya Mahaprabhu, the greatest authority, herein clearly indicate that one becomes pious simply by keeping cows and protecting them.” How can that be? One reason is that cows are emblems of the mode of goodness.
In Vedic teachings different animals are associated with different material qualities. For example, monkeys, because of their extraordinary sex drive, belong to the mode of ignorance. Lions are said to be in the mode of passion, and cows in the mode of goodness. When humans ally themselves with an animal in the mode of goodness, they themselves gradually rise to goodness, which is favourable to spiritual advancement.
In the opening quote of this article, Lord Chaitanya was teasing an astrologer who had determined that the Lord, in His past life, had appeared as an incarnation of the Supreme Personality of Godhead. To have some fun with the astrologer, Lord Chaitanya ostensibly denied that He was the Supreme Lord, saying that in His past life He had been merely a cowherd boy, and that only by His pious activities had He now become a brahmana…
By Matsya Avatara Dasa
From the Introduction of the book:
THE TWENTY-SIX QUALITIES OF THE SPIRITUAL RESEARCHER
When starting any type of journey we need to get the adequate equipment so that the journey will be as comfortable as possible and we will also have some basic guarantee that we will eventually be able to attain our desired goal. This also applies to the journey towards self-realization, but in this case the equipment is very special. In fact the spiritual researcher does not venture into the exploration of the external world but into the inner universe, and in order to proceed safely and successfully, he needs to develop all the noblest and most elevated qualities of his personality, many of which lie in a dormant state.
Thus the principles we will explain are not simply to be considered on the theoretical platform, but they need to be demonstrated in practical everyday life. What we are going to discuss is not a scholarly and academic elaboration but a concrete and real search, because only consistency between theoretical assumptions and practical application can bring a quick evolutionary process. This process offers innumerable benefits: on the metaphysical level it facilitates the understanding of truths that would otherwise remain dogmatic or only accessible from the nominal point of view; on the intellectual platform it creates the manifestation of discernment between what is good and what is bad. This discernment enables us to avoid many obstacles and sufferings that are often generated also in circumstances that appear very ordinary. On the mental platform one attains that serenity that, as explained by Krishna in Bhagavad-gita1, cannot be separated from the journey of self-realization, and finally on the physical platform, the body gets the benefits of health and well-being.
If the dangers we will have to face were indicated by a clearly visible luminous sign it would be easy to avoid them, but the great dangers of life are not advertised in this way. However, these signals appear on other channels to those who possess the qualities we are going to study. Such virtues should be therefore studied and developed not in order to increase our ego but to become mature, solid and consistent persons that can offer help and a good example to themselves and to many others.
We should be able to measure someone's maturity or immaturity according to objective parameters; thus the evaluation of a particular individual should not be determined by personal liking or disliking, but by the presence or absence of specific qualities.
The virtues that we are going to consider are twenty-six in number, and they are mentioned and explained in several parts of Vedic literature; in this context I will utilize mainly two extremely prestigious texts: one, universally recognized for its authoritativeness, is Bhagavad-gita2, the other, equally authoritative within the Gaudiya Vaishnava3 tradition, is Caitanya-Caritamrita4.
Because of their greatness and majesty these two texts have been able, in the course of the centuries, to shape the life of a great number of individuals and they place the teaching of the twenty-six qualities within a wider elaboration on the subject of perfection, so that perfection will be not considered as something abstract, theoretical and utopistic, but will be substantiated so that it can be concretely perceived through such virtues. As true mind scientists, veritable psychologists and sociologists, the special authors of such works did not stop at beautiful but abstract philosophical speculation, they have connected these qualities, veritable jewels of a character, to precise behaviors, because values that are not practiced cannot be worth much, they do not produce effects and they evaporate like snow in the sunshine.
Gita and Caitanya Caritamrita, the texts examining the virtues we are going to study, are known as religious scriptures that support and canonize a system of values contained in a particular tradition; this however does not mean that their value is merely religious, because their psychological and sociological value, too, is undoubtedly great.
Those who want to keep a clear-cut separation between science and religion are victims of a prejudiced vision that has taken roots in the western tradition, but unexpectedly help has come from quantum physics itself, a very pragmatic branch of knowledge that confirmed that a scientist's vision of the world is not different from a mystic's.
The value of texts such as the Puranas, Vedas, Upanishads, and Brahamanas is extraordinary, not simply from the merely theological-ritualistic point of view, but also because they offer a system of values that enables us to organize our lives in a happy, healthy, consistent and harmonious way.
What do the great texts of Tradition tell us? That we are happy, vigorous, intelligent, creative and willing to live when the microcosm of our body is in harmony with the macrocosm. There is no difference between systems of different size because there are laws of a supreme order, a system of values that relate and connect everything that exists. The same laws that govern the orbits of planets and galaxies also apply to the growth of a blade of grass or a cell, to the communication between synapses, to the development of neurons, to the division of the cell by which the fetus gradually develops. Inspired, constant research, determined to get into harmony with these laws, shapes intelligence that takes us to self-healing, capable of solving problems that otherwise would be delegated to pharmaceutical industry with scarce success.
It has now been scientifically proven that serene and inspired persons, who are dedicated to things they believe in, remarkably improve the level of their immune system. On the other hand when we are depressed, sad, filled with resentment, jealousy and envy, we cause a drop in our immune system.
We need to realize the importance of living happily in the company of persons who practice virtues and believe in them. We must be interested in values that have universal scope, accepted by Catholicism, Buddhism or any other system that contemplates a rise in consciousness and self-realization. Of course we will also include the secular systems because there are no more barricades between religion and social life. It is absurd to think that values can only be contained within so-called religious currents: even if it is clear that the priority of religious life is precisely the application of such values, many non-religious persons also welcome and practice them. Cleanliness, truthfulness, compassion, generosity, sobriety and ecology are not just religious but rather universal values.
On the occasion of the 50th anniversary of the Federation of the Indian Republics at the University of Milan, I have stated that it was the Vedas themselves that supported India's independence from the British Administration. It was a special feeling to speak about Vedic civilization in those places that, in 1968, witnessed hot, vehement, and sometimes violent protest affirming values that society did not accept.
Specifically, the values mentioned and explained in the Vedas have enabled the constitution of States within a society with so many languages, races, ethnic groups and religions.
A student-professor was commenting how people are in the grip of prejudice in relation to whatever is different, and I said that such prejudice is generated by fear, because one who carries prejudice is weak and fragile by definition; an authoritarian person is weak, and this is why he needs to use force to impose himself, while one who controls his senses and has inner strength is not authoritarian but authoritative, he is not angry but serene. No matter what comes before him, he finds the correct key for its interpretation and answers adequately to the stimulation that derives from it.
What is different scares us because it jeopardizes our certainties and some clichés we have grown accustomed to. Fear generates hostility. This is why "different" people such as Jesus, Socrates, or in more recent times Martin Luther King, have been murdered. This makes us understand that the intention of affirming a universal system of values must be based on a commonly known language that should not be too exotic, exoteric or mysterious, because this would create suspicions, fears and persecution mania. We need to relate to others as if in a pleasurable game, so that prejudice will automatically fall away.
Everyone needs a model for their own development; without a model we cannot achieve anything. As long as he had Seneca to look up to, Nero was not the madman described by history. He became crazy when he changed his model, taking his inspiration from Tigellinus.
For a spiritual researcher, an excellent model is one who has complete control over passions and impulses, or vegam. Vegam means "impulse", or a discharge of energy. In a person who is afflicted by manic syndromes, the "discharges" he feels contain a great energy, but immediately afterwards he falls into a state of depression. This is typical of the dystics, those who have a two-phase behavior: in the first stage there is courage, strength, brilliance, wit, humor and a typically manic frenzy, but because this manifestation of energy is not based on reality, it is followed by a vertical fall into depression, the good mood disappears and euphoria gives way to disappointment. Then melancholy steps in, and in the most serious phases it contains even suicidal ideas, or a dark vision that affects the surrounding people, too.
Speaking of virtue implies referring to very precise and real models that are certainly not utopistic. Today like in ancient times, these qualities can be developed by the modern sages. These values are beyond time and space, they are eternal... do you want evidence? The fact they have been experienced by traditions that did not know each other, and by persons who lived at the opposite ends of the planet, who have expressed the very same realizations.
First of all, the twenty-six qualities or virtues must been explained and shown not as abstractions, but as the fruit of a series of coordinated and conscientious efforts. They are real wealth, much more valuable than any material asset that attract thieves, tax officers, false friends, and feed pernicious desires aggravating the attachment to mundane life, that makes leaving the body even more painful. The assets constituted by virtues, on the contrary, are not lost with the body. Even recent discoveries on DNA confirm this reality and determine the environment, including the psychological environment that a being finds in his next birth.
Thus we can reveal the mystery, the enigma of why there are so many other species besides the humans; it is really conceivable that chicken only exist to be roasted and eaten? Or that lambs exist to be slaughtered at Easter? This kind of idea is pure folly. Actually all these life forms search for perfection, but their nervous system is not completely developed to harmonize with the universe. This is a fascinating subject that should deserve adequate exploration. Man is racing madly after super-technology, artificial intelligence, and certainly he deserves the credit for extraordinary discoveries, but during this search he has often forgotten the inner world, becoming alienated and confused, losing the awareness of ourselves, of the world and of life.
Attaining our goal requires a constant attention, but if we begin this journey with the proper attitude it will be enthusing and give us such satisfaction and benefits that we will feel their effects for the rest of our life. Spiritual teachings that are luminous and potentially accessible to everyone will be understood and applied by each person as much as the evolutionary level of each individual will allow. In any case, no matter from which level he starts, if the spiritual researcher is sincere and dedicated, he will be able to gradually attain perfection with patience and determination, under the guidance of a genuine Master, an acarya. Acarya is a significant term in the Tradition we are talking about: it comes from the Sanskrit acara, ‘proper behavior’, and indicates a person whose behavior is immaculate and consistent with what he teaches in words. In fact teachings become effective as much as the person that transmits them is the first to apply them in his own life. In the long run, mere theoretical teachings become boring, sometimes impossible to understand, and incapable of producing fruits. On the other hand, one who respects some principles and applies them in his own life he will be able to transmit them effectively even without enunciating them verbally, because example is much more powerful than precept.
Shri Krishna Caitanya Mahaprabhu5 summarized this concept as follows: “Some behave well but do not teach, others teach but do not behave well. Perfection consists in both teaching and behaving well”.
In any environment such knowledge is constantly and practically useful: when we acquire the proper know-how we can become conscious of the atmosphere we find in an office, in a family, in a factory, in a church. We can immediately understand which psychological type our interlocutor is, but above all, these twenty-six qualities we are going to study are an exceptionally effective parameter to measure and evaluate ourselves.
This evaluation is meant to understand our shortcomings, because only by understanding them we can add what we lack, in the language of modern psychology, we can integrate our personality.
Only by understanding which qualities we should develop most we can prepare a serious work on ourselves: this is why the acquisition of knowledge is a primary factor. By analyzing these virtues everyone will be able to examine himself and discover where the deepest shortcomings lie and also where the picture looks encouraging. We will understand why in the course of the millennia the great Vedic sages, the great Masters, have explained that such qualities are characteristic of the people of a divine nature, while those who are devoid of them are characterized as darkened, dull people who generate sufferings for themselves and for all those who stay around them; sometimes even for entire communities or nations.
Behind each virtue we can get a glimpse of a world, a dimension where we need to enter to acquire that particular quality. Mere remembrance is not sufficient, what we need to do is to practice that quality, live it and integrate it in our behavior, in our intra-psychic and inter-psychic dynamics.
We can compare an individual to a tree: a burning tree risks propagating the fire to an entire forest, and similarly a burning individual risks spreading the fire to a family, a community, a project. Luckily, also the contrary is true: a strong and sweetly scented tree can expand its fragrance in all the forest, and a healthy, stable and virtuous individual can do the same thing.
The virtues of which we will discuss are the basis of all types of relationships in society as in spiritual life, in economics, in family and sentiments; they enrich life for anyone, in any circumstance. Maybe they cannot be applied simultaneously, all the twenty-six of them, but the more the awareness grows, the wider the application field becomes. Practice is very helpful: we start maybe by applying one quality only, then by a chain reaction the others will gradually manifest, too, and we can joyfully experience that they come one by one, sometimes in couples, of by the threes... and sometimes, in moments of confusion, all the twenty-six disappear.
Practice is perfected by constantly living in the company of these twenty-six qualities that can become a garland of sweet scented flowers we can always carry with us.
Caitanya Mahaprabhu indicated these virtues to one of his important disciples, Sanatana Gosvami, and also in Bhagavad-gita, at the beginning of the sixteenth chapter, we find a list of twenty-six virtues that is very similar. By comparing the two lists we find that any difference is only a variation of rasa6, or taste, emotion, sentiment.
We will introduce the subject with a description of the twenty-six qualities by Shrila Bhaktivinoda Thakura7: “Like twenty-six pearls or sweet-scented flowers, they constitute a necklace representing the character of a practically perfect person. The state of perfection is characterized by the presence of these twenty-six qualities”.
In the Scriptures the perfect, evolved, liberated beings such as great sages and saints are sometimes described with some of such virtues and sometimes with others, but when we make a careful analysis of their character we find that all twenty-six are present. Such virtues are certainly an attainment, not a starting point. By knowing them we become able to make an assessment of our life, to understand who we are, where we are, and in which direction we are walking.
It is rare for an individual to be able to make a deep and honest analysis of oneself, and this is why the spiritual Master is necessary. TModern men are more and more inclined towards psycho-therapists and analysts that often are not even aware of the spiritual reality of the soul, and therefore they only analyze on the basis of temporary characteristics. Within Tradition such analysis is made by the guru, who is able to see the shortcomings in a personality and proposes a therapy by engaging the disciple in devotional service, which leads to catharsis and purification8.
We cannot heal by ourselves alone; today we live in the "do it yourself" age and the figure of the Master has become obsolete, rejected by the majority of people. Individuals are left to themselves, everyone is master of himself and the effects are under our eyes: violence spreads, phobias and panic attacks are more and more frequent, and depression is now the fourth more common disease in the world. The "do it yourself" mentality is therefore an illusion, but when we have understood this fact it is not sufficient for us to passively cling to a Master. One who wants to have the guidance of a spiritual Master must activate himself and serve in his mission; this has been true for millennia and the sacred Texts offer dozens of examples.
We need a dynamic approach, the deliberation of submitting ourselves to the cure, a therapeutic pact in which Master and disciple take a role and respect it.
Krishna explains in Bhagavad-gita: “Go to a Master who possesses this knowledge, be humble, ask him questions and serve him”9.
Service and humility psychologically prepare us to understanding, in fact if our state of mind is not appropriate we will not be able to perceive the answers, no matter how deeply wise they can be.
The Masters can offer knowledge because they have realized it; one can only give what he has. Thus, by following the teachings of an enlightened person, gradually the anarthas crumble away and give way to virtues. In this way trust turns into faith and becomes deeply structured in the heart, because theoretical knowledge is united with practice that confirms the teachings. By seeing persons who have become healed,our faith in the therapy grows and we understand that the method is working. However, the cure must be administered adequately and the two parts, Master and disciple, must interact harmoniously.
In the West there is a widespread prejudice in regard to spiritual masters, because people still suffer from the dichotomy of religion-secularism. In the Vedas this does not exist because the rishis10
were at the same time secular and religious, they did not deny the central position of the spirit or the peripheral importance of material creation. The stimulation to approach the world of the spirit should not be accompanied by a denial or denigration of the world.
Virtue, ethics, is a spiritual factor that can be manifested in the world through morals, through a series of behaviors that are based on ethical principles. The most genuine part of each religion in fact manifests as a concrete behavior in the world.
The Illuminists' protest was against an abstract religiosity only showing a practical result in privileges and a monopoly of power; it did not oppose spirit in itself, but the way it was expressed in daily life. The determination of the liberal state to express values different from the confessional states was a legitimate freedom of expressing one's own spirituality that was called in a different way only as a reaction. Some anarchists have shown great virtues in their lives; they were just protesting against a corrupt religious world, but they opposed an evil by generating a situation that later degenerated into evil itself.
Often the West moves between these extreme opposites, as it was brilliantly explained by Heraclitus with the principle of enantiodromy11;
even Plato speaks about it when he states that after a period of anarchy a tyrant comes, then after a while he is felled and anarchy returns. The Puranas state that such contrasts keep increasing in Kali-yuga12. However, the sun is neither western nor eastern and virtues are of a spiritual nature, whether they are lived by Mazzini or St. Anthony. Nobody should think he is the sole repository of these virtues; fundamentalism originates from a monotheism that cultivates the idea of being the chosen people, the sole repository of the truth, but the truth that pervades the entire universe is inscribed into the hearts of all men.
1 Bg. II.66.
2 Literally, ‘Bhagavan's song’. It is a text belonging to the VI book of the Mahabharata epic, considered the Gospel of the Hindus, the most famous Sanskrit work in the world, and its authoritativeness is recognized by all the Schools of thought belonging to the vast Indo-Vedic tradition. In his commentary to Bhagavad-gita, Shankara Acarya calls it "a collection of the quintessence of the meaning of the entire Veda". It highlights the figure of Krishna, the hero God, who reveals the science of spiritual realization to prince Arjuna on the battlefield of Kurukshetra.
3 School founded by Shri Caitanya Mahaprabhu, based on the doctrine known as acintya bheda-abheda tattva, that explains how God and the souls or jivas are non-different from the qualitative point of view but different on the level ot shaktis or powers. The word Gaudiya comes from the Sanskrit Gauda, indicating the district of Gaur, the central area of Bengal, from where Caitanyadeva started to spread His teachings.
4 The most famous and important biography of Caitanya Mahaprabhu (1486-1534), compiled by Krishnadas Kaviraja Gosvami, who could hear the earthly lilas of the Lord from the mouth of his own Master, Raghunatha Gosvami, one of the six Gosvamis of Vrindavana, direct disciple of Caitanya Mahaprabhu.
5 (1486-1534). Founder of the Gaudiya-vaishnava School, He was considered a manifestation of Vishnu-Krishna and venerated as such. His preaching gave Hinduism a new orientation and the culture of Bengal an impulse that would never fade away. In line with the Bhagavata literature and with the previous vaishnava acaryas, Caitanya offered a faith pervaded by the personalist vision of the Absolute, to whom the devotee offers service and devotion, thus becoming free from the cycle of the samsara and attaining the highest goal of existence, love for God (prema bhakti). His teachings were the foundation of the thought system known as Acintya-bhedabheda-tattva.
6Literally, 'taste, aroma, flavor, sentiment, emotion'. Spiritual sentiments that constantly and reciprocally flow between God and His devotee. Rupa Gosvami's Bhaktirasamrtasindhu (II.32-33) explains in details twelve main rasas, of which the following five are the most famous: contemplation (shanta-rasa), service (dasya-rasa), friendship (sakhya-rasa), parental relationship (vatsalya-rasa) and romantic relationship (madhurya-rasa).
7 (1838-1914): acarya of the Gaudiya-vaishnava tradition, magistrate, theologian, poet and prolific author of works on bhakti.
8 Those who are interested in a deep study on the relationship Guru-disciple can avail the text on this subject, or the text on Traditional Indian Pedagogy, both published by CSB; please contact the Secretary.
9 Bg. IV.34.
10 Great sages, poets who compiled the Vedic literature. There are three different categories of 'seers': rajarishis, saintly kings, brahmarishis, wise brahmans and devarishis, devas that are distinguished due their saintliness and wisdom.
11 A psychological law enunciated by Heraclitus, according to which everything is transformed into its opposite.
12 The last of the four cosmic ages that cyclically follow each other and characterize the transformation. Traditionally it began in 3102 B.C., with the disappearance of Bhagavan Shri Krishna from Earth, where it is compared to the winter season for its aspects of dullness and degradation. In fact this period is characterized by the prevalence of hatred and quarrel (the world kali literally means ‘quarrel’), the increasing denial of the dharmic principles and the decreasing psycho-physical and intellectual resources of the human beings, that become less and less capable of conceptualizing, memorizing, understanding and especially living the teachings on the metaphysical realities. The total duration of the Kali yuga is of 1.200 heavenly years, equivalent to 432.000 earthly years.
Part 6 – The eating !
(The final article on this topic)
The guests looked visibly happy. The food was made. They did it ! They all seemed proud and by now Chef Kurma was like their best friend. One group quickly began to gather plates, bowls and cutlery for the table. A few others helped in transferring the food into large utensils. Below are pics of what we made along with some comments from Kurma’s notes.
This quick to prepare, aromatic rice dish inspired by India’s Moghul cuisine is flavoured with both whole and ground cumin, and is made even more aromatic with the addition of cloves and cinnamon. The sweet addition of raisins in a savoury dish is typical of Moghul taste.
Karhi is an excellent source of vegetarian protein – yogurt, a complete protein combines with the chickpea flour – an incomplete protein that becomes complete in conjunction with yogurt. Karhi is delicious, light and easy to digest, and good for you – what more could you ask !
This dish originates in Punjab, northern India. However, its is well known all over India and there are hundreds of variations of the same dish. Here’s a delicious version that can be served with any meal, anytime. It especially lends itself to special feasts and dinners and can be kept warm for some time, actually improving the flavour of the dish.
This tender and delicious pickle from Maharastra is simultaneously hot, sweet and sour. Select firm fresh eggplants for best results.
This creamy, smooth dal soup with its pleasant lemony taste and chunks of butter-soft vegetables is ideal as a tasty accompaniment to either a simple or elaborate menu.
This dish proves just how delicious pumpkin can be if teamed up with the correct flavour partners. Succulent Gujarati Pumpkin is excellent served with farm flatbreads.
The salad is a welcome addition and gives it a different feel to a table full of Indian dishes. People enjoyed mixing the salad with their poories and rice. The most popular dish in both the classes went to the eggplant pickle ! And that includes me too !
And that’s my plate there with a serving of everything. I had 3 of these ! And for 2 days !
What an experience ! From zero guests to almost 30 guests ! If you put your efforts with determination and confidence in yourself, your seniors and the beautiful Lord, it’s bound to go well. My special thanks to all the above strangers who enabled me to carry out this service. The fact that they are enjoying delicious food prepared by our cherished and senior devotee Chef Kurma Das, tells me that these are special people. In fact, anyone who takes the effort to honor food prepared by exalted vaishnavas are indeed special.
More and more people need to get these books on vegetarian cooking. They need to know that such cooking is not always about eating cold sandwiches and cold salads. Not only is it fun to cook delicious vegetarian preparations but it also brings with it fond memories for the entire family.
In the forewords of one of the above cookbooks, the President of the International Vegetarian Union, Mr. Howard F. Lyman writes, ” Kurma has provided a great way to start the rest of your life. It is not about being perfect. It is about doing better tomorrow than you did today. This book will enable you to be part of the solution and less part of the problem. Read, prepare, and enjoy great food with Kurma’s help. And, remember, starting with fresh organically-grown produce from local family farmers is always the first step toward recovery for both you and the planet.”
And what message did Kurma prabhu give me? Well, he presented me with one of his cook books, “Cooking with Kurma – More Great Vegetarian Dishes” and on the first page he wrote :
Chant, Cook, Take Prasad and Be Happy
Your Humble Servant
Dear Kurma prabhu,
Thank you so much for all the efforts and patience you put in over the 2 days with me and the guests. Your excitement was contagious and I am sure their life has been affected. You worked so hard for us.
Results have already started to show. The 2 cafes are looking at introducing recipes from your book to their customers, once a week. I hope this falls in place soon. Once it’s in place, this will be a great achievement where hundreds will be introduced to your cooking and methods. Another 2 guests have formed a vegetarian club and they held a veg day which attracted 400 odd curious diners, I am told ! Another guest is busy inviting guests to his home to taste his apple chutney and much much more !
I have made more friends from these classes and my friends who attended are respecting me more for the veg choices I have made. I have learnt the importance of seeing cooking as an art and a holy activity. It has made me more organized, aware and more devotional.
And I will never forget the advise you gave me last year when I was finding it tough to get everything organized for a class – “…so do not worry. We have to be very professional as you already have been, we have to fill in all the details, work hard, as you have been, and the result, is always in Guara Nityanand’s loving hands. If you meditate on Lord Chaitanya and Nityananda, even the most difficult task becomes easy”.
I, sincerely, from the bottom of my heart, thank you for all that you have done over the last so many years for so many people. And spending such valuable time with me too. I shall try my best not to let you down and endeavour to chant, cook, take prasad and to be happy as long as I can. And for sure, will get others to do the same.
Your humble servant as well,
With numerous colourful pots filled with lovingly prepared chipped rice, festive flags and banana leaves, sweet kirtana sounds in the air and a large gathering of vaisnavas around Sri Sri Gaura-Nitai, the Sri Mayapur International School was transformed into the village of Panihati on the banks of the Ganga.
Inspired by the wonderful “cida-dadhi-mahotsava,” the chipped rice festival as described in the Sri Caitanya Caritamrita, Krishna-Prestaya Mataji,
"Sri Hari-nama-cintamani indicates that the clearing stage really begins with dealing with inattentiveness. So if we find ourselves stuck--if you material desires are not decreasing; if lust, greed, and anger are not going away; if we're feeling, "I've been so long in this movement and my enthusiasm is not there"--the effect of continued offenses is being felt. The effect of maintaining offenses is described in The Nectar of Devotion: it is like a waning moon Inexplicably, for no reason, your enthusiasm for devotional service goes "pfft" and you can't figure out why. When we find ourselves in that position we can understand that somehow or other, not only are we committing offenses but we are not trying to rectify them."Ravindra Svarupa das
By popular demand (shout out to Pulkit), here's another track from H.H. Prabhavishnu Swami's 24 May Bhajan session.
It's a crash-mix of Sri Rupa Manjari Pada. I basically copied the settings from the last mix I did, verbatim. The last mix had a mrdanga, but I've just applied the same EQ, effects, and gain to the tabla. In future, as long as the mics stay where they are I can just do one mix, then reuse it. The only thing to do then would be to ride the faders and do some live gain adjustments while listening to the track, to make it "breathe". I don't have time for that now - if I get my free Faderport, or even better, a 16-track R-16, I'll start doing that.
On this track Arjuna really let rip on the tabla, and Sridhar on the flute/saxophone. They'd warmed up on the previous tracks and the energy in the temple was peaking. Another two other factors - I'd gotten the hang of manipulating the FOH (front of house) sound, and had also pushed the faders up. At this point we were maxing out the PA system (300W Yamaha Stagepas). From memory this was the last track of the night. Somehow it's been dumped to my hard drive as 15/17, so there are two more tracks to come.
50 cents at the recent Book fair at the Convention Centre in Southbank. We got 40 books for 37 bucks. Lots for Prahlad's school. I had a copy of William Gibson's Idoru in my hand, but somehow it didn't make it to the checkout and back to our house. I'm sure that Param Satya put it back, but she denies all knowledge...
I'll see if someone at work has a copy they can lend me. I'd like to read it.
This weekend we went to the Brisbane Yoga Fest.
This is the third year of the grass-roots, community event organised by Jonathan Murphy and his partner Tanya. We've participated each of those years, and watched as the festival has grown in scope.
(Apologies for the photos - I'm not such a good photographer. Sound is more my thing)
For the last two years it's been held at the Old Museum in Bowen Hills, a wonderful piece of architecture:
This year we didn't have a yoga stand, as our underground studio (aka: our house) is already at capacity with 12-16 people coming to the evening classes. Adina-lila and Prema Yogi organized a prasadam stall. The piping hot soy chai and vegan gluten-free carob muffins were a big hit with the punters after the chai tent wallahs cancelled due to sickness (Oink oink).
Here's a shot of Brian, an Atma old-timer from when we first started in 2004, helping out:
Bhakta Leonardo serving out:
I got there at 2pm, as Param and I had to teach three classes at the temple in the morning. Param taught a class at Yogafest at 3pm. This year there were three studios with classes going all day. Param had about 100 people for her class. Afterwards a bunch of people asked her where she teaches. She had to tell them: "Nowhere!". Those who know, know... ;-)
There were a number of stalls around on the grass outside the Museum:
I made an appearance at the Fusion Hot Yoga stall to sign autographs:
I got totally soaked and frozen riding my scooter home from the temple before coming to Yogafest, but that was a brief 30 minute shower in an otherwise clear, sunny autumn day in Brisbane:
Here's a shot of the sky at around 5pm, which is sunset here at the moment:
Here's a close up of the green bin in that picture:
A beautifully clear, full moon night:
(Theologian and philosopher Connor) Cunningham is a firm believer in the theory of evolution, but he is also a Christian. He believes that the clash between Darwin and God has been hijacked by extremists - fundamentalist believers who reject evolution on one side, and fundamentalist atheists on the other. Cunningham attempts to overturn what he believes are widely held but mistaken assumptions in the debate between religion and evolution.
- from the BBC website
Please note that this program is divided into six videos on Youtube. Here are the other parts:
Part of these "Thoughts for Today" is to remind us of our mission. The principle of using material things in the devotional service of the Lord and thereby purifying them has not only been underscored by Rupa Gosvami, but is expounded in the Bhagavad-gita and the Srimad Bhagavatam. Bhagavad-gita As It Is (3.9) and Srimad Bhagavatam (1.15.34) both establish this principle.
Shyam Kishor das singing a Hare Krishna bhajan.
Nobody ever seems to be especially neutral on the topic of vegan health. Most are convinced that a vegan diet is either completely dangerous or a magic bullet cure-all. The myths about vegan eating spring from both sides of the argument and are sometimes completely contradictory. Here are a few of the most common ones.
Myth: Vegans are at risk for iron deficiency.
Truth: Actually, vegans are less likely to get iron deficiency than lacto-ovo vegetarians. Vegans consume more iron and tend to replace milk (which contains no iron and also inhibits iron absorption) with iron-rich foods. Iron from plant foods is absorbed at a lower rate than from meat, but iron deficiency anemia is no more common among vegans than any other group.
Myth: Vegan diets are okay for adults, but not for children.
Truth: Studies show that vegan kids sometimes fall short on a few nutrients compared to omnivore children, but that they have better intakes of other nutrients. All types of diets for children require careful planning. Vegan diets can provide adequate nutrition for children at all stages.
Myth: Dairy foods cause osteoporosis because they are high in protein, so vegans—who don’t drink milk—have lower calcium needs than omnivores.
Truth: Two myths in one! Unfortunately, there isn’t a shred of evidence that dairy foods cause osteoporosis. And the idea that vegans need less calcium than omnivores because of differing protein intakes is debatable. The research on this one is all over the place, with lots of conflicting studies. For now, it’s wise and responsible for vegans to meet standard recommendations for calcium.
Myth: Since vegans don’t drink milk, they can’t get enough calcium without supplements.
Truth: There are a number of plant foods that are good sources of well-absorbed calcium. While vegans can get adequate calcium from natural sources, most don’t meet calcium needs without using fortified foods or supplements. And guess what? Neither do most omnivores.
Myth: Organically-grown plants provide vitamin B12.
Truth: There is no evidence that plants grown in organic soil can provide adequate B12 for vegans. Vegans need to include fortified foods or B12 supplements in their diet. There is absolutely no debate among this among responsible vegan nutritionists.
Myth: Vegans need to consume combinations of plant foods to meet protein needs.
Truth: This myth is definitely a golden oldie. It’s been around since at least the early 1970s—and even though it was refuted in the 1990s, most of the world hasn’t caught up. Sadly, this includes many health professionals and journalists. Here is what the American Dietetic Association along with all vegan nutrition experts say: When vegans get adequate calories and eat a variety of whole foods throughout the day, they get plenty of protein. Protein is not an issue for vegans.
Myth: Vegan diets cause eating disorders in teen girls.
Truth: Some teen girls who already have eating disorders choose vegan or vegetarian diet as a way to control intake. A vegan diet will not cause an eating disorder and is not a sign of an eating disorder.
Myth: Vegan diets are fattening because they are so high in carbohydrates.
Truth: Some vegans are fat and some are skinny. As a group, though, vegans tend to be slimmer than meat eaters. Whole plant foods are high in good carbs and rich in fiber and are good choices for weight control.
Myth: You will automatically lose weight on a vegan diet because it’s so low in fat.
Truth: Most vegan diets are not low in fat. Eating a low fat diet does not guarantee weight loss and eating a vegan diet does not guarantee weight loss. A vegan diet is a healthful way to lose weight, but you still have to use up more calories than you consume.
Myth: Our ancestors ate meat, so vegan diets aren’t natural.
Truth: Our ancestors gnawed raw meat off the bones of animals and scavenged for wild greens. Today’s omnivore diet is completely “unnatural,” because it includes foods like grains and dairy that played no part in the meals of early humans. Vegan diets support health and eliminate animal cruelty. That sounds better than “natural!”
Taken From: http://www.examiner.com/x-5670-Seattle-Vegan-Examiner~y2009m6d3-Myths-and-truths-about-vegan-dietTagged: vegan myths
by Jim Motavalli
NPR.org, June 5, 2009 · I have a prediction: Sooner than you might think, this will be a vegetarian world. Future generations will find the idea of eating meat both morally absurd and logistically impossible. Of course, one need only look at the booming meat industry, the climbing rates of meat consumption in the developing world, and the menu of just about any restaurant to call me crazy. But already, most people know that eating red meat is bad for their health and harmful for the planet. It’s getting them to actually change their diet that’s the hard part — and that’s exactly why it won’t happen by choice.
Going by the numbers, eating meat is pretty hard to justify for the even moderately health-conscious. A National Cancer Institute report released last March found that people who ate the most red meat were, as the New York Times put it, “most likely to die from cancer, heart disease and other causes.” The biggest abstainers “were least likely to die.” Those who eat five ounces of meat daily, (the equivalent of one and a half Quarter Pounders or Big Macs) increase their risk from cancer or heart disease by 30 percent compared to those who eat two-thirds of an ounce daily — a stark difference.
The environmental impact is also crystal clear — and similarly appalling. “Livestock’s Long Shadow,” a 2006 report by the United Nations’ Food and Agriculture Organzation (FAO), found that livestock is a major player in climate change, accounting for 18 percent of all greenhouse gas emissions (measured in carbon dioxide equivalents), or more than the entire global transportation system.
The obvious solution to both health and environmental disasters is to stop eating meat altogether. But this is easier said than done. Even the studies addressing the impact of meat on the planet downplay vegetarianism, as if the authors are nervous to press it on people. Going veggie is not even proposed as one of the FAO’s “mitigation options” (which instead include conservation tillage, organic farming, and better nutrition for livestock to reduce methane gas production). Nor is it emphasized in “Happier Meals: Rethinking the Global Meat Industry,” a report by Danielle Nierenberg at the Worldwatch Institute. The study’s author is herself a vegan, but she told me, “Food choices are a very personal decision for most people. We are only now convincing them that this is a tool at their disposal if they care about the environment.”
She has a point: Giving up meat is tough, and arguing people into it is probably a losing proposition. Even with all the statistics out there about the dangers of meat, there are fewer vegetarians in the world than you’d think. A Harris poll conducted in 2006 for the Vegetarian Resource Group found that only 2.3 percent of American adults 18 or older claim never to eat meat, fish, or fowl. A larger group, 6.7 percent, say they “never eat meat,” but often that means they only avoid the red kind. Worldwide, local vegetarian societies report high participation in just a few places – for example, 40 percent in India, 10 percent in Italy, 9 percent in Germany, 8.5. percent in Israel, and 6 percent in Britain.
So how will we become a vegetarian planet? The numbers suggest that we won’t stop eating meat simply because it’s “the right thing to do.” People love it too much. Instead, we’ll be forced to stop. By 2025, we simply won’t have the resources to keep up the habit. According to the FAO report, 33 percent of the world’s arable land is devoted to growing crops for animal feed, and grazing is a major factor in deforestation around the world. It’s also incredibly water-intensive. The average U.S. diet requires twice the daily amount of water as does an equally nutritious vegetarian diet, reports the Worldwatch Institute. Meanwhile, there will be more than 8 billion people on this earth, and two-thirds of the world’s population will live in water-stressed regions.
Sounds like a mess — and one that doesn’t bode well for our cattle cravings. Meat will disappear — except as a luxury available to few — and the ethical issues will evolve, too. In the way that slavery, once a broad social norm, later became an unthinkable crime, we can expect to see a similar shift once meat-eating disappears from our planet. Perhaps, some day, the very idea of eating animal flesh will seem as remote as the idea of owning humans does now. So if you’re a carnivore, enjoy now — before the inevitable vegetarian revolution begins.
Taken From: http://www.npr.org/templates/story/story.php?storyId=104995789Tagged: meat, vegan
June is National Dairy Month, but to a vegan, dairy as a food is not always something to celebrate.
Some people say that milk is a completely natural food for humans, and that it is a natural by-product that comes from cows. Some people even think that cows need to be milked for their own health. Something about “milk poisoning”, among other silly reasons I’ve heard. However, cow’s milk is not natural for humans to drink, nor for any other animal aside from its own offspring, and it is usually not a natural process when the cows produce it for us.
The fact is that the dairy industry is a business, as is any other farm. In order to supply the milk, farmers impregnate cows so they lactate. Just like humans, cows need to be pregnant to produce milk. With billions of ‘farmed’ cows in the world, there is no way those cows can be impregnated naturally by a bull at the same time and ready to produce milk. From this you can surmise for yourself that farmers must artificially inseminate cows so they can secrete that creamy fluid you use for your coffee and cereal. The thing that got me was when someone called it “pus” and I could never envision myself drinking it again. Even organic and family farmed milk has this downside.
These facts are necessary to know for those vegetarians who say they “could not live without cheese”, or people like me, who used to have a long-term relationship with ice cream. There are so many options available, it is hard to remember what my life was like when I was eating dairy. Soy milk, rice milk and almond milk satisfy my cookies and milk cravings and go great in cereal. There are many soy cheeses, rice cheeses and almond cheese options that melt and taste just like cow’s milk cheese. There is even margarine, cream cheese and ice cream that is non-dairy!
My favorite non-dairy milks:
Kikkoman Pearl (even available in green tea flavor!)
Westsoy (creamy like real milk)
My favorite non-dairy cheeses:
nutritional yeast (tastes like cheese, strangely enough)
Tofutti for cream cheese
My favorite non-dairy yogurt:
My favorite non-dairy ice cream:
Soy delicious- fruit-sweetened and a lot less calories than regular ice cream.
As for the calcium, amino acids and vitamins A and D found in milk, you can get all of them from plant sources. Fact.
My personal dairy story: I was vegetarian for about two years before becoming vegan, only giving up meat because of the literal connection to animal flesh and because I wanted to lose weight. When I went on a diet, it was because I felt unhealthy on my omnivorous diet. I never expected to be launched into the super-health-food land of veganism. I still ate yogurt, cheese and ice cream. Oh man, do I love ice cream!
Then I became lactose intolerant, and the condition got steadily worse over the next year. Little did I know that at the time my yearning for ice cream would fade, to be replaced with alternatives made from plants that tasted even better than the original! I think I was cosmically inclined to become vegan. It is not just the fact that I get nauseous when eating dairy. If I were completely tolerant of lactose I now realize that dairy is just as unnecessary and as harmful as meat.
What vegans are asking: that you consider the possibility of including less animal products in the average American diet and remain open to change. Even if you accuse these facts of being wrong, it is always necessary to question your surroundings and follow your heart when it comes to what you put in your belly.
When surveyed, the majority of consumers are not comfortable eating genetically engineered foods, but most people can’t really explain specifically why they have concerns. Watch this in depth look at the history of the GE debate. This web movie covers every aspect of the issue, from health impacts, to pesticide use, to biotech industry cover-ups.
The OCA has called for a boycott of bogus organic dairy brands such as Horizon and Aurora (suppliers to Wal-Mart, Safeway and other giant chains), who have inundated the market with misleadingly labeled “organic” milk produced on factory farms. Recently, the situation has worsened as organic feed prices have increased and recession-pummeled consumers have cut back on the amount of organic milk they are purchasing. The result is a surplus of organic milk, depressed milk prices, and an increasing number of organic dairy farmers across the U.S. being driven into bankruptcy. Consumers can support ethical organic dairy farmers and preserve organic integrity by boycotting Horizon and Aurora products and instead supporting local organic farmers and dairy cooperatives like Organic Valley and others.
Taken From: http://www.organicconsumers.org/articles/article_18096.cfmTagged: cows, dairy, organic
The process of of making your own flour is a lot easier than most people imagine. Before the advent of the modern flour mill, grinding wheat or corn into flour was a laborious task. For that reason, most Americans still assume flour is made with some sort of magical machinery in a factory somewhere. In actuality, wheat is one of the easiest crops to grow, even if you have limited space. Once you’ve grown it, you just need to cut an arm-full, flail it a bit to remove the grain, blow the chaff off the grain, and use a device like your blender to make the flour. From there, the cookie, bread, pasta or pancake recipe you use is up to you!
Monsanto and the biotech bullies are once again moving to tighten their grip on the world’s food supply. Genetically engineered (GE) varieties now account for 70-90% of all conventional (non-organic) corn, soybeans, cotton, and canola grown in the U.S. Joining the growing menu of unlabeled and untested gene-spliced Frankenfoods, genetically engineered sugar (derived from GE sugar beets) hit store shelves in 2008. Now it appears that the most controversial crop of them all, Monsanto’s GE wheat, is not far behind, at least if industry gets its way. Given that wheat is such a major global crop and essential ingredient in bread, breakfast cereals, pasta and other everyday foods, the force-feeding of unlabeled GE wheat on the public would represent a major conquest for Monsanto and the biotech industry.
Although Monsanto withdrew their applications to the U.S. and Canadian governments for approval of genetically engineered wheat in 2004 because of tremendous pressure from the OCA and hundreds of our allied public interest groups and farmers (as well as pressure from large food companies such as General Mills), it looks like we’re in for another round of battle.
Wheat industry groups in the United States, Canada and Australia announced on May 14, 2009, they would work toward the objective of “synchronized commercialization of biotech traits in the wheat crop.” For the sake of the Earth and public health, we must stop them.
June 15, 2008
Laguna Beach, California
We have gathered at the lotus feet of the Panca-tattva on this most
auspicious occasion of Raghunatha dasa Gosvami’s cida-dadhi festival. The
background to this incident can be found in the early life of Srila
Raghunatha dasa Gosvami. His uncle and father, Hiranya and Govardhana
Majumadara, were wealthy landlords in Bengal–almost like kings–and had a
huge, opulent riverside palace, with boats that plied the river. Hiranya and
Govardhana were generous and devoted to brahminical culture, and they
practically maintained the entire brahmana community of Nadia with their
charity. Raghunatha dasa was their only son, so naturally they put all their
hopes in him to carry on the family dynasty. But Raghunatha, from a young
age, was attracted to Sri Caitanya Mahaprabhu. The Majumadara’s spiritual
master was Yadunandana Acarya, a disciple of Advaita Acarya (of the
Panca-tattva) and an intimate student of Vasudeva Datta. And the family’s
priest was Balarama Acarya, a dear associate of Haridasa Thakura and close
friend of Yadunandana Acarya. Balarama Acarya and Yadunandana Acarya used to
host Haridasa Thakura, and when Haridasa stayed in their village, Raghunatha
visited him daily and received his mercy. Balarama Acarya also invited
Haridasa Thakura to speak in the Majumadaras’ assembly about the glories of
the holy name. Thus Raghunatha dasa had the association of these great
souls, followers of Caitanya Mahaprabhu, who would tell him about Mahaprabhu
and encourage him to chant.
Once, when Caitanya Mahaprabhu, after taking sannyasa, visited Santipura,
Raghunatha dasa went to meet Him. In pure love, he fell at Lord Caitanya’s
lotus feet, and the Lord, out of His mercy, blessed him with the touch of
His feet. Raghunatha served the Lord for a week, and after he returned home
he was mad with ecstatic love. He wanted to join Mahaprabhu in Puri, but his
family would not allow him. Time and again he would run away from home to go
to Puri, and every time his father would catch him and bring him back. His
father even kept five watchmen to guard him day and night, four servants to
see to his comforts, and two brahmanas to cook for him. Thus eleven people
were engaged to make sure he did not go to Puri. Finally, Raghunatha begged
his father, “Please allow me to see the lotus feet of Caitanya Mahaprabhu.
Otherwise, my life will not remain in my body.” So his father allowed him to
go to Santipura, sending many servants to accompany him. For seven days
Raghunatha stayed in the Lord’s association, constantly thinking, “How will
I get free from the watchmen? How will I be able to go with Mahaprabhu to
Puri?” The Lord, being omniscient, could understand Raghunatha’s mind, and
He reassured him with some important statements. These instructions form the
background of the Panihati festival, and we shall read them, as they are
recorded in Sri Caitanya-caritamrta, Madhya-lila, Chapter Sixteen: “The
Lord’s Attempt to go to Vrndavana.”
“sthira hana ghare yao, na hao vatula
krame krame paya loka bhava-sindhu-kula
[Lord Caitanya told Raghunatha dasa:] “Be patient and return home. Don’t be
a crazy fellow. By and by you will be able to cross the ocean of material
“markata-vairagya na kara loka dekhana
yatha-yogya visaya bhunja’ anasakta hana
“You should not make yourself a showbottle devotee and become a false
renunciant. For the time being, enjoy the material world in a befitting way
and do not become attached to it.”
PURPORT by Srila Prabhupada
The word markata-vairagya, indicating false renunciation, is very important
in this verse. Srila Bhaktisiddhanta Sarasvati Thakura, in commenting on
this word, points out that monkeys make an external show of renunciation by
not accepting clothing and by living naked in the forest. In this way they
consider themselves renunciants, but actually they are very busy enjoying
sense gratification with dozens of female monkeys. Such renunciation is
called markata-vairagya–the renunciation of a monkey. One cannot become
really renounced until one actually becomes disgusted with material activity
and sees it as a stumbling block to spiritual advancement. Renunciation
should not be phalgu, temporary, but should exist throughout one’s life.
Temporary renunciation, or monkey renunciation, is like the renunciation one
feels at a cremation ground. When a man takes a dead body to the
crematorium, he sometimes thinks, “This is the final end of the body. Why am
I working so hard day and night?” Such sentiments naturally arise in the
mind of any man who goes to a crematorial ghata. However, as soon as he
returns from the cremation grounds, he again engages in material activity
for sense enjoyment. This is called smasana-vairagya, or markata-vairagya.
In order to render service to the Lord, one may accept necessary things. If
one lives in this way, he may actually become renounced. In the
Bhakti-rasamrta-sindhu (1.2.108), it is said:
yavata syat sva-nirvahah
svi-kuryat tavad artha-vit
adhikye nyunatayam ca
“The bare necessities of life must be accepted, but one should not
superfluously increase his necessities. Nor should they be unnecessarily
decreased. One should simply accept what is necessary to help one advance
In his Durgama-sangamani, Sri Jiva Gosvami comments that the word
sva-nirvahah actually means sva-sva-bhakti-nirvahah. The experienced devotee
will accept only those material things that will help him render service to
the Lord. In the Bhakti-rasamrta-sindhu (1.2.256), markata-vairagya, or
phalgu-vairagya, is explained as follows:
vairagyam phalgu kathyate
“When persons eager to achieve liberation renounce things related to the
Supreme Personality of Godhead, thinking them to be material, their
renunciation is called incomplete.” Whatever is favorable for the rendering
of service to the Lord should be accepted and should not be rejected as a
material thing. Yukta-vairagya, or befitting renunciation, is thus
yuktam vairagyam ucyate
“Things should be accepted for the Lord’s service and not for one’s personal
sense gratification. If one accepts something without attachment and accepts
it because it is related to Krsna, one’s renunciation is called
yukta-vairagya.” Since Krsna is the Absolute Truth, whatever is accepted for
His service is also the Absolute Truth.
In the Bhakti-rasamrta-sindhu, Srila Rupa Gosvami enumerates sixty-four
items of devotional service, beginning with guru-padasraya, taking shelter
of a spiritual master; krsna-diksadi-siksanam, taking initiation and
instruction from him; visrambhena guroh seva, serving him with respect; and
sad-dharma-prccha, inquiring about one’s eternal duties. And at the end of
the list he discusses certain items that he has not included but which one
might think could have or should have been included. One such item is the
cultivation of vairagya (detachment), and Rupa Gosvami explains why he has
not included it. He says that bhakti by nature makes the heart soft. The
primary activities of bhakti, hearing and chanting about Krsna and
remembering Him, make the heart soft, whereas the cultivation of speculative
knowledge and performance of artificial austerities tend to make the heart
hard–the exact opposite of bhakti.
The question then arises, “If we do not cultivate detachment from material
things, are we meant to be attached to them?” The answer, of course, is no.
Sastra says that a person absorbed in material enjoyment is far from being
absorbed in Krsna. Then how do we resolve this dilemma–that we do not want
to be attached to material things yet do not want to cultivate detachment
from them? In reply, Rupa Gosvami says that a taste for devotional service
itself will destroy one’s material attachments, without the hardness of
heart caused by the practice of vairagya. And in this important verse he
explains what kind of vairagya is suitable for bhakti:
yuktam vairagyam ucyate
Anasaktasya means “without being attached,” and visayan means “material
sense objects.” Without being attached, when one engages (upayunjatah)
material sense objects in appropriate ways (yatharham) in relation to Krsna
(krsna-sambandhe)–in devotional service–that is called proper renunciation
(yuktam vairagyam ucyate).
Srila Prabhupada used to cite the example of a famous monk in India who was
supposed to be so renounced that if anyone offered him money, his hand would
curl and turn away. Srila Prabhupada said, “But if anyone offers us money,
we will immediately take it and use it in Krsna’s service.”
The impersonalists, who have no idea of Krsna–the beauty of Krsna–or of
the actual identity of the living entity as the eternal servant of Krsna,
may pose as being renounced, but actually they are not. So in contrast to
yukta-vairagya, Rupa Gosvami has composed a verse that describes
phalgu-vairagya. The Phalgu is a river in Bihar that has the peculiar
quality of appearing like dry land. On the surface is sand, but underneath
is water–a real river, with a strong current. The renunciation of
impersonalists who reject the world–who reject material things as maya
(illusion) even when related to the Lord–is called phalgu. On the surface
they appear to be renounced, but underneath is a strong current of material
In the beginning of his discussion of bhakti, Rupa Gosvami poses the
question of what makes one eligible–what is the adhikara–for bhakti, and
he quotes a verse from the Eleventh Canto of Srimad-Bhagavatam:
jata-sraddhas tu yah puman
na nirvinno nati-sakto
bhakti-yogo ’sya siddhi-dah
First, one should have faith (adau sraddha)–faith in and attraction for the
messages of Krsna (mat-kathadau). And na nirvinno nati-sakto: one should not
be too attached or too detached. This might also seem odd, but the
Bhagavatam explains that if one is too attached to material life, he or she
will be unable to take to bhakti but will be inclined to fruitive activities
(karma), and if one is too averse, too negative, he or she will take to
jnana, impersonal speculation. For bhakti, one should be neither too
attached nor too detached, too disgusted with material life.
jata-sraddhas tu yah puman
na nirvinno nati-sakto
bhakti-yogo ’sya siddhi-dah
“If somehow or other by good fortune one develops faith in hearing and
chanting My glories, such a person, being neither very disgusted with nor
attached to material life, should achieve perfection through the path of
loving devotion to Me.” (SB 11.20.8) In other words, one should be in the
middle. Then the heart will be open to bhakti. Both sense gratification and
artificial renunciation make the heart hard.
So, what did Lord Caitanya tell Raghunatha dasa? First He said, “Don’t be a
crazy fellow. Don’t be a monkey renunciant.” That is what Raghunatha should
not do. Now, what should he do?
“antare nistha kara, bahye loka-vyavahara
acirat krsna tomaya karibe uddhara
Sri Caitanya Mahaprabhu continued, “Within your heart you should keep
yourself very faithful, but externally you may behave like an ordinary man.
Thus Krsna will soon be very pleased and deliver you from the clutches of
“vrndavana dekhi’ yabe asiba nilacale
tabe tumi ama-pasa asiha kona chale
“You may see Me at Nilacala, Jagannatha Puri, when I return after visiting
Vrndavana. By that time you can think of some trick to escape.
“se chala se-kale krsna sphurabe tomare
krsna-krpa yanre, tare ke rakhite pare”
“What kind of means you will have to use at that time will be revealed by
Krsna. If one has Krsna’s mercy, no one can check him.”
In this way, Sri Caitanya Mahaprabhu bade farewell to Raghunatha dasa, who
returned home and did exactly what the Lord told him.
After returning home, Raghunatha dasa gave up all craziness and external
pseudo renunciation and engaged in his household duties without attachment.
For one year Raghunatha dasa remained at home, acting exactly as advised by
Sri Caitanya Mahaprabhu.
bhitare vairagya, bahire kare sarva-karma
dekhiya ta’ mata-pitara anandita mana
“Raghunatha dasa was inwardly completely renounced, even in family life, but
he did not express his renunciation externally. Instead, he acted just like
an ordinary businessman. Seeing this, his father and mother were satisfied.”
(Cc Antya 6.15)
Raghunatha dasa expertly handled a serious legal implication that could have
led to his uncle’s arrest, thus saving his family from a very difficult
situation with the Muslim government. And because he was acting like a
proper materialist, his family members were happy and relaxed their guard.
As a relatively new devotee, I really liked the image of Raghunatha dasa
Gosvami in Vrndavana, although I did not know what his internal
consciousness actually was. And I wanted to be like him–a gosvami in
Vrndavana, staying one night under one tree and another night under another
tree. I never said anything to Srila Prabhupada, but because he was
empowered by the Lord, he could understand my mind–just as Lord Caitanya
could understand Raghunatha’s mind. One day I was sitting before Prabhupada
in his room in Juhu–I hadn’t said anything–and he just looked at me and
said, “First you manage your father’s property like Raghunatha dasa Gosvami,
then you go to Vrndavana and be a gosvami.” [laughter] At the time, Srila
Prabhupada was very concerned about the Juhu project.
Finally, although Raghunatha dasa was still being watched by guards, he got
the idea to meet Nityananda Prabhu in nearby Panihati. He thought, “Let me
see Nityananda Prabhu, even if the guards come with me. At least let me see
Now we shall read from Sri Caitanya-caritamrta, Antya-lila, Chapter Six:
“Lord Caitanya Meets Raghunatha dasa Gosvami.”
In this way Raghunatha dasa passed one year exactly like a first-class
business manager, but the next year he again decided to leave home.
He got up alone one night and left, but his father caught him in a distant
place and brought him back.
This became almost a daily affair. Raghunatha would run away from home, and
his father would again bring him back. Then Raghunatha dasa’s mother spoke
to his father as follows.
“Our son has become mad,” she said. “Just keep him by binding him with
ropes.” His father, being very unhappy, replied to her as follows.
“Raghunatha dasa, our son, has opulences like Indra, the heavenly king, and
his wife is as beautiful as an angel. Yet all this could not tie down his
“How then could we keep this boy home by binding him with ropes? It is not
possible even for one’s father to nullify the reactions of one’s past
“Lord Sri Caitanya Mahaprabhu has fully bestowed His mercy on him. Who can
keep home such a madman of Caitanyacandra?”
Sometimes the parents of Prabhupada’s disciples also thought that their
children had become mad. Once, two brothers, Bruce and Greg Scharf (later
initiated as Brahmananda and Gargamuni), joined Srila Prabhupada’s movement,
and their mother came to Prabhupada and complained that her boys had become
crazy. After speaking with her for some time, he invited her to join him in
the temple room, and there he gave a class: “Who is Crazy?” He said, “What
is the definition of ‘crazy’? A crazy person is someone who doesn’t know who
he is.” For example, if I think I am Napoleon Bonaparte or Theodore
Roosevelt or Mahatma Gandhi–if I don’t know who I am–that means I am
crazy. Srila Prabhupada concluded, “So anyone who thinks he is the body is
crazy, because he doesn’t know who he is. So who is crazy? Are these boys
crazy–these devotees–or are you crazy?”
Then Raghunatha dasa considered something in his mind, and the next day he
went to Nityananda Gosani.
In the village of Panihati, Raghunatha dasa obtained an interview with
Nityananda Prabhu, who was accompanied by many kirtana performers, servants,
Sitting on a rock under a tree on the bank of the Ganges, Lord Nityananda
seemed as effulgent as hundreds of thousands of rising suns.
Narottama dasa Thakura sings, nitai-pada-kamala koti-candra-susitala: the
lotus feet of Lord Nityananda are as cooling as hundreds of thousands of
moons.” And here He is described “as effulgent as hundreds of thousands of
rising suns.” He Himself is like the sun and the moon.
Many devotees sat on the ground surrounding Him. Seeing the influence of
Nityananda Prabhu, Raghunatha dasa was astonished.
Raghunatha dasa offered his obeisances by falling prostrate at a distant
place, and the servant of Nityananda Prabhu pointed out, “There is
Raghunatha dasa, offering You obeisances.”
Hearing this, Lord Nityananda Prabhu said, “You are a thief. Now you have
come to see Me. Come here, come here. Today I shall punish you!”
Out of humility, Raghunatha dasa had offered obeisances from a distance, but
Lord Nityananda, in a humorous mood, said that he was like a thief–one who
hides in the shadows in the outskirts. At this time Raghunatha dasa was a
young man, only about twenty-two years old.
The Lord called him, but Raghunatha dasa did not go near the Lord. Then the
Lord forcibly caught him and placed His lotus feet upon Raghunatha dasa’s
Lord Nityananda was by nature very merciful and funny. Being merciful, He
spoke to Raghunatha dasa as follows.
“You are just like a thief, for instead of coming near, you stay away at a
distant place. Now that I have captured you, I shall punish you.
“Make a festival and feed all My associates yogurt and chipped rice.”
Hearing this, Raghunatha dasa was greatly pleased.
This was a very humorous request, because Raghunatha dasa was practically a
prince and chipped rice is a most simple food. It would be as if Mukesh
Ambani, now the richest man in the world, came to the temple and said, “I
want to do some service” and Tukarama Prabhu, the temple president, replied,
“Okay, buy puffed rice for all the devotees.” That would be a joke. Now,
imagine: Raghunatha dasa is living in unlimited opulence, like Indra, the
king of heaven, and Nityananda Prabhu says, “Oh, I am going to punish you!
You have to serve chipped rice and yogurt to all My associates.”
Raghunatha dasa immediately sent his own men to the village to purchase all
kinds of eatables and bring them back.
Raghunatha dasa brought chipped rice, yogurt, milk, sweetmeats, sugar,
bananas, and other eatables and placed them all around.
As soon as they heard that a festival was going to be held, all kinds of
brahmanas and other gentlemen began to arrive . . .
Just like here, you all heard that there was a festival, and so you came.
TEXT 54 (continued)
Thus there were innumerable people.
Seeing the crowd increasing, Raghunatha dasa arranged to get more eatables
from other villages. He also brought two to four hundred large, round
He also obtained five or seven especially large earthen pots, and in these
pots a brahmana began soaking chipped rice for the satisfaction of Lord
In one place, chipped rice was soaked in hot milk in each of the large pots.
Then half the rice was mixed with yogurt, sugar, and bananas.
The other half was mixed with condensed milk and a special type of banana
known as canpa-kala. Then sugar, clarified butter, and camphor were added.
After Nityananda Prabhu had changed His cloth for a new one and sat on a
raised platform, the brahmana brought before Him the seven huge pots.
On that platform, all the most important associates of Sri Nityananda
Prabhu, as well as other important men, sat down in a circle around the
Next, the author lists various great associates of Nityananda Prabhu who
were present. Nityananda Prabhu is the incarnation of Balarama, just as Sri
Caitanya Mahaprabhu is the incarnation of Krsna, and Balarama is always
associated with His cowherd boyfriends. Many of Lord Balarama’s cowherd
boyfriends in krsna-lila descended on earth at the time of gaura-lila and
took birth in brahmana and other families. Many of them became associates of
Lord Nityananda, and one of them, Uddharana Datta Thakura, who was also with
Him at Panihati, appeared in a family that was related to the family in
which Srila Prabhupada later appeared.
Hearing about the festival, all kinds of learned scholars, brahmanas, and
priests went there. Lord Nityananda Prabhu honored them and made them sit on
the raised platform with Him.
Everyone was offered two earthen pots. In one was put chipped rice with
condensed milk, and in the other chipped rice with yogurt.
All the other people sat in groups around the platform. No one could count
how many people there were.
Each person was supplied two pots, one with chipped rice and yogurt and one
with chipped rice and condensed milk. Raghunatha dasa kept purchasing more
chipped rice, more milk and yogurt, more bananas and other fruits, and more
sweets. Not only did brahmanas hear about the festival and come to partake,
but merchants heard too and came to sell their goods. Raghunatha dasa would
buy their chipped rice and yogurt and sweets and bananas, and then he would
feed them the very same food. The multitude of people eventually occupied
all the space on the land, and when there was no more place to sit, people
started to stand on the bank of the Ganges and eat. And when all the space
on the bank was taken, people began to stand in the water of the Ganges and
eat their chipped rice and yogurt.
Toward the end of the feast, Nityananda Prabhu, in meditation, brought Lord
Sri Caitanya Mahaprabhu to see the fun. Lord Nityananda stood up and walked
with Him amidst all the eaters. As a joke, He took a morsel of rice from
each pot and put it in Caitanya Mahaprabhu’s mouth, and Sri Caitanya
Mahaprabhu took a morsel from each pot and put it in Nityananda Prabhu’s
mouth, laughing as He made Him eat it. But nobody could understand what
Nityananda Prabhu was doing. Only some rare, fortunate souls could see that
Lord Caitanya was also present.
The entire pastime is very nice, but time does not allow us to read or
describe it all in detail. Suffice to say, in the words of Sri
Caitanya-caritamrta (Antya 6.90, 89, 88):
sri-ramadasadi gopa premavista haila
ganga-tire ‘yamuna-pulina’ jnana kaila
“All the confidential devotees who were cowherd boys, headed by Sri
Ramadasa, were absorbed in ecstatic love. They thought the bank of the
Ganges to be the bank of the Yamuna.”
nityananda-prabhava-krpa janibe kon jana?
mahaprabhu ani’ karaya pulina-bhojana
“Who can understand the influence and mercy of Lord Nityananda Prabhu? He is
so powerful that He induced Lord Sri Caitanya Mahaprabhu to come eat chipped
rice on the bank of the Ganges.”
nityananda mahaprabhu-krpalu, udara
raghunathera bhagye eta kaila angikara
“Sri Caitanya Mahaprabhu and Lord Nityananda Prabhu are extremely merciful
and liberal. It was Raghunatha dasa’s good fortune that They accepted all
Another great devotee of Sri Caitanya Mahaprabhu and Nityananda Prabhu was
Raghava Pandita, who lived nearby in Panihati. During the festival he came
and invited Nityananda Prabhu to his house for prasada, and Nityananda
replied, “I belong to a community of cowherd boys, and I generally have many
cowherd associates with Me. I am happy when we picnic like this by the bank
of a river. So let Me eat this food here now, and in the evening I shall eat
at your home.”
That evening, as promised, Nityananda Prabhu came to Raghava Pandita’s
house. He performed sankirtana in Raghava’s temple and inspired all the
devotees to dance. Then He Himself began to dance, thus inundating the world
with ecstatic love. Sri Caitanya Mahaprabhu personally came to see
Nityananda Prabhu’s sweet, ecstatic dancing, but only Lord Nityananda could
see Him. Thereafter Raghava Pandita served Lord Caitanya, Lord Nityananda,
and Their associates a sumptuous feast, and after everyone was satisfied, he
gave Raghunatha dasa the remnants of food left by Gaura and Nitai on Their
kahila,–”caitanya gosani kariyachena bhojana
tanra sesa paile, tomara khandila bandhana
He said to Raghunatha dasa, “Lord Sri Caitanya Mahaprabhu has eaten this
food. If you take His remnants, you will be released from the bondage of
your family.” (Cc Antya 6.123)
As stated in Sri Caitanya-caritamrta, Raghava Pandita would always prepare a
plate for Sri Caitanya Mahaprabhu, and every day Caitanya Mahaprabhu would
come and eat at Raghava Pandita’s house, sometimes allowing Raghava Pandita
to see Him. On this occasion, Raghava Pandita was pleased to see that
Caitanya Mahaprabhu had come to honor the prasada at the place he had set
for Him next to Nityananda Prabhu. Srila Krsnadasa Kaviraja Gosvami
bhakta-citte bhakta-grhe sada avasthana
kabhu gupta, kabhu vyakta, svatantra bhagavan
“The Supreme Personality of Godhead always resides either in the heart or in
the home of a devotee. This fact is sometimes hidden and sometimes manifest,
for the Supreme Personality of Godhead is fully independent.
sarvatra ‘vyapaka’ prabhura sada sarvatra vasa
ihate samsaya yara, sei yaya nasa
“The Supreme Personality of Godhead is all-pervasive, and therefore He
resides everywhere. Anyone who doubts this will be annihilated.” (Cc Antya
The next morning, when it was time for Raghunatha dasa to return home, out
of humility he did not approach Nityananda Prabhu directly but submitted his
appeal through Raghava Pandita. After having taken His bath in the Ganges,
Nityananda Prabhu was sitting with His associates beneath the same tree
under which they had sat the previous day. Raghunatha dasa approached Him
there and worshiped His lotus feet. Then, through Raghava Pandita, he
submitted his desire:
“adhama, pamara mui hina jivadhama!
mora iccha haya–pana caitanya-carana
“I am the lowest of men, the most sinful, fallen, and condemned.
Nevertheless, I desire to attain shelter at the lotus feet of Sri Caitanya
“Like a dwarf who wants to catch the moon, I have tried my best many times,
but I have never been successful.
“Every time I tried to go away and give up my home relationships, my father
and mother unfortunately kept me bound.
“No one can attain the shelter of Sri Caitanya Mahaprabhu without Your
mercy, but if You are merciful, even the lowest of men can attain shelter at
His lotus feet.
“Although I am unfit and greatly afraid to submit this plea, I nevertheless
request You, Sir, to be especially merciful toward me by granting me shelter
at the lotus feet of Sri Caitanya Mahaprabhu.
“Placing Your feet on my head, give me the benediction that I may achieve
the shelter of Sri Caitanya Mahaprabhu without difficulty. I pray for this
This is an important point: Without the mercy of Nityananda Prabhu, no one
can attain the shelter of Sri Caitanya Mahaprabhu. And Nityananda Prabhu
agreed to be merciful; He placed His lotus feet on Raghunatha dasa’s head,
and He praised him to the other devotees, saying that although Raghunatha’s
standard of material happiness was equal to that of Indra, the king of
heaven, by the mercy of Caitanya Mahaprabhu he had no attachment to it at
all. Then Nityananda asked all the devotees to bless Raghunatha dasa that he
would soon attain shelter at Sri Caitanya Mahaprabhu’s lotus feet. And He
said to Raghunatha,
“My dear Raghunatha dasa, since you arranged the feast on the bank of the
Ganges, Sri Caitanya Mahaprabhu came here just to show you His mercy.
“By His causeless mercy He ate the chipped rice and milk. Then, after seeing
the dancing of the devotees at night, He took His supper.
“Lord Sri Caitanya Mahaprabhu, Gaurahari, came here personally to deliver
you. Now rest assured that all the impediments meant for your bondage are
“Sri Caitanya Mahaprabhu will accept you and place you under the charge of
His secretary, Svarupa Damodara. You will thus become one of the most
confidential internal servants and will attain shelter at the lotus feet of
Sri Caitanya Mahaprabhu.
“Being assured of all this, return to your own home. Very soon, without
impediments, you will attain shelter at the lotus feet of Lord Sri Caitanya
After consulting with Raghava Pandita, Raghunatha dasa privately delivered
one hundred gold coins and some gold to Nityananda Prabhu’s treasurer,
telling him not to mention the presentation to Lord Nityananda until He
returned home. Then, to honor Lord Nityananda’s associates–great devotees
and servants and subservants–Raghunatha left another hundred gold coins and
some gold with Raghava Pandita, who, in accordance with Raghunatha dasa’s
instructions, prepared a list of how much would be given to each and every
devotee. Then Raghunatha dasa took leave of Raghava Pandita and, filled with
gratitude to Lord Nityananda for His mercy, returned home.
At home, Raghunatha dasa no longer went into the interior section of the
palace but slept on the Durga-mandapa outside. Then one night it happened,
as Lord Nityananda had predicted, that Raghunatha dasa got an opportunity to
escape. The Majumadaras’ and Raghunatha’s guru, Yadunandana Acarya, came at
the end of the night and told Raghunatha that one of the other disciples,
who had been engaged in worshiping the Deity, had left that service, and
Yadunandana wanted Raghunatha to induce that brahmana to take up his service
again, as there was no other brahmana to do it.
All the guards were asleep, and in any case Yadunandana Acarya was a trusted
well-wisher of the family. So Raghunatha dasa left with Yadunandana Acarya,
and after walking some distance he submitted to his spiritual master, “There
is no need for you to accompany me. You may proceed to your home, and I will
meet that brahmana and persuade him to resume his service.” So Yadunandana
Acarya went to his place, and Raghunatha dasa sent the brahmana–and then
left for Nilacala, Jagannatha Puri.
Because he knew that his family would search for him, Raghunatha took the
inner route and for twelve days walked through jungles and remote villages,
always thinking of the lotus feet of Sri Caitanya Mahaprabhu and Nityananda
Prabhu. On most days he did not eat anything, but because he was fixed in
his determination, he did not mind. He managed with whatever little he could
get, and eventually he attained the lotus feet of Sri Caitanya Mahaprabhu in
Puri, as Nityananda Prabhu had predicted.
This gives us a clue as to how we can become free from material attachments.
All the scriptures say that to achieve Krsna–to achieve love for Krsna–one
must be free from material attachments, but cultivating detachment is not
the process. Then, what is the process? The process is service, specifically
service that will please Nityananda Prabhu, because if we please Nityananda
Prabhu, by His mercy we will become detached from all that is material.
ara kabe nitai-candera karuna haibe
samsara-vasana mora kabe tuccha ha’be
“When will Lord Nityananda bestow His mercy upon me so that my desire for
material enjoyment will become very insignificant?” (Prarthana)
Now, becoming free from material attachments does not necessarily mean that
one must leave home, like Raghunatha dasa did. He is one example, but there
are other examples of Caitanya Mahaprabhu’s associates who did not leave
home. Lord Caitanya did not ask them to leave home, and in some cases He
actually instructed them to remain at home. This is another mystery–how one
can serve the Lord in either a position of renunciation or a position of
Once, Srila Prabhupada asked his guru maharaja about this very question. He
began by saying that Rupa Gosvami left everything for the service of
Caitanya Mahaprabhu–his lucrative service, his post as minister–tyaga. And
Ramananda Raya, who was a governor and a householder, lived in great
material opulence–bhoga. Both were accepted equally by Lord Caitanya. “So
what is the difference?” he asked. “Both were devotees of Caitanya
Mahaprabhu.” Thus he raised the question of bhoga and tyaga–enjoyment and
Srila Bhaktisiddhanta Sarasvati Thakura gave a striking answer. He invoked
the term prosita-bhartrka, which refers to a wife when her husband is away.
In Vedic culture, when the husband was away, the wife would wear very plain
clothes. She wouldn’t decorate herself or comb her hair. She would lie down
and sleep on the floor, and she would live in a very austere and renounced
way. And the same woman, when her husband was home, would bathe twice daily,
apply oil to her body, wear beautiful clothing, and decorate herself in a
very attractive way. But in both cases the central point is the husband.
When the husband is away she lives in that renounced way, and when the
husband is present she acts in that more spirited way, but in both
situations the central point is the husband–to please the husband–and so
there is no difference. Thus Srila Bhaktisiddhanta explained that as
devotees we are interested neither in bhoga nor in tyaga. We are interested
only in Krsna and Krsna’s service. For Krsna’s service we can give up
everything, like the Gosvamis. And for the sake of Krsna’s service we can
accept any opulent position, like that of Ramananda Raya, who was the
governor. And either–or both–will please Sri Caitanya Mahaprabhu.
So becoming free from material attachments doesn’t necessarily mean that the
son will leave the parents or that the husband will leave the wife or that
the wife will leave the husband. It means that one is free from material
bondage and acts to please the Lord. When Lord Caitanya was discussing with
Ramananda Raya what is the perfection of life (sadhya), the first answer
that Caitanya Mahaprabhu accepted was that one can remain in one’s position
(sthane sthitah) and chant and hear the glories of the Lord in the
association of pure devotees. As stated in the Tenth Canto of
Srimad-Bhagavatam, one should completely give up the process of mental
speculation and just become submissive. You can remain in your position
(sthane sthitah). If you are a grhastha, you can remain a grhastha. If you
are a brahmacari, you can remain a brahmacari. Whatever you are, you can
remain in your position, but hear the messages of Krsna from the mouths of
pure devotees. That is the real principle of devotional service, as accepted
by Sri Caitanya Mahaprabhu.
jnane prayasam udapasya namanta eva
jivanti san-mukharitam bhavadiya-vartam
sthane sthitah sruti-gatam tanu-van-manobhir
ye prayaso ‘jita jito ‘py asi tais tri-lokyam
[Lord Brahma said to Krsna:] “Those who, even while remaining situated in
their established social positions, throw away the process of speculative
knowledge and with their body, words, and mind offer all respects to
descriptions of Your personality and activities, dedicating their lives to
these narrations, which are vibrated by You personally and by Your pure
devotees, certainly conquer Your Lordship, although You are otherwise
unconquerable by anyone within the three worlds.” (SB 10.14.3)
Why, then, should one leave one’s family at all? One may do so only to
expand one’s service to the Lord and humanity. As Srila Prabhupada explains,
“A pure devotee cuts off the limited ties of affection for his family and
widens his activities of devotional service for all forgotten souls. The
typical example is the band of Six Gosvamis, who followed the path of Lord
Caitanya. All of them belonged to the most enlightened and cultured rich
families of the higher castes, but for the benefit of the mass of population
they left their comfortable homes and became mendicants. To cut off all
family affection means to broaden the field of activities. Without doing
this, no one can be qualified as a brahmana, a king, a public leader, or a
devotee of the Lord.” (SB 1.8.41 purport)
Many of Caitanya Mahaprabhu’s intimate associates were householders. In the
Panca-tattva, Advaita Acarya was the ideal householder. But at a certain
stage it may become favorable for someone to leave his family and engage
fully in the mission of the Lord. Either way, we depend on the mercy of Lord
Nityananda. Whether we are with family or not doesn’t really matter. What
really matters is increasing our attachment to Krsna and Krsna’s service.
When one is attached to Krsna, one naturally becomes detached from maya. At
the same time, if one is too preoccupied with maya, it will be hard to
develop attachment to Krsna. So we should keep our lives simple. If our
lives are too complicated, we will be distracted. We will have too many
things on our minds to really chant and hear properly.
And the main process, as we know, is to chant the holy names of the Lord:
harer nama harer nama
harer namaiva kevalam
kalau nasty eva nasty eva
nasty eva gatir anyatha
“One should chant the holy names, chant the holy names, chant the holy names
of Hari [Krsna]. There is no other way, no other way, no other way for
success in the present age of Kali.” (Brhan-naradiya Purana 38.126) And to
get the full benefit, one must chant with attention. If our mind is
wandering while we are chanting, we will not really get the full benefit. In
fact, it is an offense (nama-aparadha) to be inattentive while chanting. It
is said that all the other offenses follow from inattention but that if one
chants with attention–if one actually hears the holy names–then all the
other offenses will be destroyed. So it is very important to chant with
attention. But if we are too preoccupied with material affairs, then even
while we are chanting on our beads, our minds may be thinking of other
things–how much money we have in the bank, whether we have enough to pay
the bills, or whatever.
So we want to keep our lives simple. Although it is hard in Kali-yuga, we
want to keep our lives as clear as possible. And we should keep the time
when we chant exclusively for Krsna. That is our time with Krsna, with the
holy name. We shouldn’t think about other things. Of course, we do have to
consider other matters, but not when we are chanting and hearing about
What also pleases Krsna–and especially Lord Nityananda–is sharing Krsna
consciousness with others. At the end of the Bhagavad-gita Lord Krsna says,
“Of all of My servants, he who preaches My message is most dear to Me. There
will never be one as dear to Me as he, and in the end it is guaranteed that
he will come to Me.” He will go back home, back to Godhead.
ya idam paramam guhyam
bhaktim mayi param krtva
mam evaisyaty asamsayah
“For one who explains this supreme secret to the devotees, pure devotional
service is guaranteed, and at the end he will come back to Me.
na ca tasman manusyesu
kascin me priya-krttamah
bhavita na ca me tasmad
anyah priyataro bhuvi
“There is no servant in this world more dear to Me than he, nor will there
ever be one more dear.” (Bg 18.68-69)
In a talk in Los Angeles, Srila Prabhupada paraphrased many of the
principles that we have just discussed. He said that in order to approach
Radha and Krsna, one must get the mercy of Lord Caitanya, and that in order
to get the mercy of Lord Caitanya, one must get the mercy of Lord
Nityananda, and that in order to get the mercy of Lord Nityananda, one must
approach people like Jagai and Madhai.
Jagai and Madhai were sinful people. Nityananda Prabhu and Haridasa Thakura
approached them and requested them to chant the holy names, but they were so
fallen that they began to blaspheme Nityananda and Haridasa. Eventually
Madhai hurled a pot at Nityananda Prabhu and hit Him on the forehead, and
blood started to come. When Caitanya Mahaprabhu heard, He rushed to the
spot, ready to kill the offenders, Jagai and Madhai, but Nityananda Prabhu
intervened. He said, “My Lord, we are in Kali-yuga. In previous ages You
came to kill the demons, but in Kali-yuga You have come to deliver them. If
You kill people like Jagai and Madhai in Kali-yuga, You will have to kill
everyone, because everyone will be like Jagai and Madhai–eating meat,
drinking wine, and exploiting women.” He said, “In Kali-yuga, We don’t kill
the demons physically. We kill their demonic mentalities.” Under the threat
of Caitanya Mahaprabhu’s Sudarsana cakra, and touched by Nityananda Prabhu’s
mercy, Jagai and Madhai accepted Lord Nityananda’s mercy, surrendered to
Lord Caitanya Mahaprabhu, and took up the chanting of the holy name.
brajendra-nandana yei, saci-suta hoilo sei,
balarama hoilo nitai
dina-hina yata chilo, hari-name uddharilo,
tara saksi jagai madhai
“Lord Krsna, the son of the King of Vraja, became the son of Saci, and
Balarama became Nitai. The holy name delivered all those souls who were
lowly and wretched. The two sinners Jagai and Madhai are evidence of this.”
(Prarthana) Jagai and Madhai gave up their sinful activities, and thereafter
Caitanya Mahaprabhu never referred to their sinful pasts.
So, Srila Prabhupada instructed, “To get the mercy of Lord Nityananda, we
have to approach people like Jagai and Madhai.” That means the people on the
street, people everywhere; we have to approach the people. Following Lord
Nityananda, who was ordered by Lord Caitanya, we should beseech people,
prabhura ajnay, bhai, magi ei bhiksa/ bolo ‘krsna,’ bhajo krsna, koro
krsna-siksa: “By the order of Lord Gauranga, O brothers, I beg this one
request: Chant ‘Krsna!’ worship Krsna, and follow Krsna’s instructions.”
Very simple. Srila Prabhupada also quoted Caitanya Mahaprabhu, yare dekha,
tare kaha ‘krsna’-upadesa, amara ajnaya guru hana tara’ ei desa: “Wherever
you go, whomever you meet, just repeat the instructions of Krsna. In this
way, on My order, become a guru and try to deliver everyone in this land.”
So it is not very difficult. We just repeat. Krsna says, “Surrender to Me,”
and the guru says, “Surrender to Krsna.” The guru doesn’t say, “Surrender to
me”–he says, “Surrender to Krsna.” It is very easy.
Srila Prabhupada’s secretary Syamasundara and his wife, Malati, had a little
girl named Sarasvati, who from the age of three or four would approach
people and ask, “Do you know who is Krsna?” Our first temple in Bombay was
an apartment on Warden Road, a prestigious place near the sea. Many
respectable gentlemen would come, and Sarasvati would approach them and ask,
“Do you know who is Krsna?” And then she would answer, “Krsna is the Supreme
Personality of Godhead.” And Srila Prabhupada remarked, “She is preaching.
What she says is perfect, because she is repeating what she has heard.” We
just repeat what we have heard from authorities. Anyone can do it. We don’t
have to be very intellectual or imaginative or creative. We just repeat. And
in that way we get the mercy of Nityananda Prabhu–through Srila Prabhupada.
Srila Prabhupada is the representative of Nityananda Prabhu, and everything
that we can achieve through the mercy of Nityananda Prabhu can be achieved
by the mercy of Srila Prabhupada, who has taken up the mission of Nityananda
Prabhu and Caitanya Mahaprabhu, the mission of the Panca-tattva. The
spiritual master engages the disciples in such a way that they get the mercy
of the Lord. And Srila Prabhupada has done that for us through ISKCON. He
has created ISKCON in such a way that by practicing and preaching Krsna
consciousness– by holding festivals like we are having today and have every
Sunday and holy day–we get the mercy of the Lord.
But to have the potency to preach we must practice. And the most essential
practice is to chant sixteen rounds with attention. One teacher commented
that devotees have become very expert with their left hands, because that
way, with their right hands in their bead bags, with their left hands they
can dust the house or type on the keyboard of the computer. They become very
expert with their left hands. But we do not want to chant like that. We want
to chant sixteen good, attentive rounds, follow the four principles, and
work to spread the sankirtana movement. If we chant sixteen good,
offenseless rounds, follow the regulative principles, and work to our
capacity to spread the sankirtana movement, Srila Prabhupada has assured us
that we will go back home, back to Godhead, and serve Sri Sri Radha and
Krsna and Their associates.
Srila Prabhupada has given us everything. We just have to take it. It is so
simple. We just have to take it. Sometimes Srila Prabhupada would cite a
cartoon in a newspaper, which depicted an old lady sitting across from her
husband. The lady was requesting her husband, “Chant. Chant. Chant.” And the
husband was replying, “Can’t. Can’t. Can’t.” That is our misfortune in
Kali-yuga. With the same effort that it takes to refuse to chant, we could
chant. That is our misfortune.
Still, devotees work tirelessly to induce people to chant. And it may be
difficult to convince them. Srila Prabhupada raised the question: “Who is
crazy?” People now are mad with material desires:
nunam pramattah kurute vikarma
yad indriya-pritaya aprnoti
na sadhu manye yata atmano ‘yam
asann api klesada asa dehah
“People are mad after sense gratification, and they do not know that this
present body, which is full of miseries, is a result of one’s fruitive
activities in the past. Although this body is temporary, it is always giving
one trouble in many ways. Therefore, to act for sense gratification is not
good.” (SB 5.5.4)
It is very hard to make a crazy person sane. Thus, Srila Prabhupada compared
our work to that of a psychiatrist in a madhouse. He is trying to help the
patients, but the patients may not appreciate his efforts; in fact, they may
turn against him. Still, he continues to endeavor to help them.
Of course, I am very happy with all of you here today. But you are just a
small fraction of the population. Most people are out enjoying–or trying to
enjoy–what they call material happiness. And because it is so hard to bring
people to Krsna consciousness, the mercy one gets for making that effort is
very great. And so we try our best–depending on the mercy of Srila
Prabhupada and Sri Sri Gaura-Nityananda.
Srila Prabhupada ki jaya!
Sri Nityananda Prabhu ki jaya!
Srila Raghunatha dasa Gosvami ki jaya!
"Although I’ve had headaches for over thirty years, I’m grateful I don’t have a worse, more debilitating disease. I’m also grateful for the company I keep in this house. Daily posting of The Yellow Submarine: My Bhajana-Kutir is a deep satisfaction to my life. My daily japa efforts are my “juice.” For all these things and many more, I thank You, Lord."
Satsvarupa dasa Goswami - June 7, 2:28 A.M.
I had a peaceful night and woke up around 2:15 A.M. My head is clear. I just called Narayana and began my chanting.
I don’t know whether I finished my eighth or ninth round. During the first four rounds, I was distracted. My mind was reviewing the Belmont Stakes horserace, which I watched on television. The favorite horse, Mine That Bird, ridden by Calvin Borel, was in last place but just near the end burst forward into first place. It looked like he was going to win, but at the last moment, a horse named Summer Bird came from the outside and won the race. The jockey on Summer Bird said that Calvin Borel was naive about the Belmont Stakes track, since he had never ridden on it, and did not ride the race properly. They said Calvin Borel began to make his move to the front too soon. The owners of Summer Bird were Indians—a cardiologist named Kalarikkal Jayaraman and his wife, Vilasini who is also a doctor—appeared in the winner’s circle. They were typical Indians and spoke with heavy accents. Dr. Jayaraman held the silver winner’s cup for a few moments, but then found it too heavy and placed it back on the table. They spoke only a few words but were very happy. It was a disappointment that the great favorite, Mine That Bird, and the favorite jockey, Calvin Borel, did not win but came in third place. Unfortunately, I thought of all this instead of paying attention to Hare Krishna Hare Krishna Krishna Krishna Hare Hare/ Hare Rama Hare Rama Rama Rama Hare Hare during the first four rounds. Narayana-kavaca came up to my room late. He was in the room when I was chanting those first four rounds, so it disrupted my concentration. The second four rounds were better. I chanted speedily but got a little confused about whether I chanted four or five rounds. My chanting was mostly in my mind, with barely audible sound vibrations. It was not one of my better performances. But it’s still early, and I have time for another four rounds before Narayana comes up at 5:00 A.M. for our morning duties and going to the beach. I’ll try to improve. This is the second day in a row that worldly events have intruded into my japa and that I have not concentrated strictly on the sound vibrations of the syllables of the names. I must stop delving into outside events so this doesn’t happen. Or if I delve into outside events, or they intrude on me, I should put them aside during the period of chanting if I have a clear head.
Japa is like a horserace. It requires complete concentration, running your race without any distraction from the other horses or from the condition of the track or from anything. The jockeys have to bear down on their horses and get the most out of them. The horses are the ones who actually run the race. The winning jockey said he was riding in easy chair for a while, meaning that there were other horses in front of him and there was nothing he could do but sit back and wait for an opportunity to make a move. The jockey did a lot at the last stretch to get the most out of his horse and put him into first place. So it’s a combination of jockey and horse and track that wins the race. I have to put all my elements of concentration to bear and take advantage of all the conditions, such as the state of my health, the utterance of the mantras, and the most important of all, the attention of the mind on the syllables of the holy name. You cannot be daydreaming of something else and expect to win the race. Some of the favorite jockeys did not do well. What was their fault? Their horses just were not able to put in the effort, and the jockeys were not able to get into position. In horseracing, can have all kinds of mishaps and bad luck. With chanting japa, it is not a matter of luck but dedication and devotion. You have to realize you’re doing the most important thing, and all other things have to be put aside. The horserace is only a few minutes long. The japa stretch is much longer than that. To keep up your meditation, you have to be an athlete in good condition—alert, intelligent and strong. You have to take advantage of the breaks and opportunities that take place as your horse moves among the others. Mine That Bird took his usual place along the rail and made his usual late burst of incredible speed to come to the front of the pack, but he just didn’t have what it took to last to the end of the mile-and-a-half-long stretch at Belmont. I failed today from the beginning with my lack of attention and my reminiscence of yesterday’s exciting event. I did not adjust my priorities. If I wanted to think of the race, I could have thought if it later in the day, not at this crucial morning hour. I was helpless and let my ind run away with me without serious purpose. Now let me try to recover my remaining rounds in good fashion without horseraces or baseball games, just the sound of the names and the hearing of the syllables, the famous “just hear” formula recommended by our spiritual master.
At the moment the gates opened and the horses were let out, in other words, from the moment I began my chanting,