Mahant Nritya Gopal Dasji :: Modi said nothing wrong about cow protection

Mathura, 2016.08.26 (VT): Mahant Shri Nritya Gopal Dasji Maharaj of Ayodhya, who is both the president of the Ram Janam Bhoomi Nyas and the Shri Krishna Janam Bhoomi Nyas in Mathura, was present to oversee Janmashtami celebrations in Mathura yesterday.

He gave a wide-ranging press conference in which he spoke to journalists about the Ram temple saga and the current controversy about PM Modi’s criticism of people who deceptively claim to be protecting the cow.

Asked about Modi’s comments on the cow protection “racket”, Mahantaji said that, “Yes, the VHP was unhappy with his remarks, but in fact he said nothing wrong. He was not talking about cow protection itself, but about those who were taking advantage of Hindu sentiment for their own profit. There are people in Braj also who are talking of serving the Mother Cow, but really are only serving themselves.

“The PM was taking aim at those who are making a business out of cow protection, not the genuine selfless servants of the Mother Cow,” he said. “Those who are sincere will get all support from the PM and the BJP. The situation of the cow in Braj is also not ideal, and that is in great part because of the profiteers who are taking advantage of Hindu affection for the cow.”

India’s Holy Rivers

Asked about the condition of India’s holiest rivers, the Mahanta said, “The Ganga and Yamuna are not just central to Indian culture, they are the country’s lifeline. The rivers themselves are not contaminated, but the draining of sewage into the rivers is polluting them. If that is stopped, then the rivers will return to their natural pure state. I am quite pleased with the Namami Gange initiative and if everything goes according to plan, we should have a pollution-free Ganga and Yamuna in two years. Then it will be necessary for us to turn to social issues.”

“Religious leaders have to take their responsibility for the general welfare of society and awaken people to the need for character development.”

 

The BJP and the Ram Birthplace temple issue

With regard to the temple at Ram’s birthplace, he said, “We are very hopeful that the Court will settle the matter soon. As soon as permission comes, we are confident of the support of the Government, and that it will not be long before we have a beautiful temple worthy of our faith in Sita-Ram.”

“There is no question of the BJP distancing itself from the Ram temple issue,” he insisted. “The BJP took shape purely on the basis of the Ram Janam Bhoomi. By Lord Ramchandra’s blessings it won the election and formed the government in Delhi. If the BJP ever drops the Ram birthplace temple from its agenda, it will cease to exist.

“This is not something that is limited to the BJP and its leaders. All Hindus have a deep desire to see the Ram temple built. The BJP is getting votes because it promised to build the temple. They don’t have to talk about it all the time. But you should know that the Muslims are no longer making any objections. Now they also want to put an end to this ongoing trouble spot. There is no point in trying to make a political football out of it.”

“I have hopes that the BJP wave will continue in the next election. Hindu society is coalescing. The SP and BSP are badly losing popularity. So I am hopeful that the BJP will form the next UP government.”

cowsmuggling

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Srila Prabhupada’s and Lord Krishna’s Mercy, August 18, New Dvaraka, Los Angeles, 2014


PrabhupadaPreachingInIndia
———-
Giriraj Swami read and spoke from Srimad-Bhagvatam 10.2.31 for the morning class on Srila Prabhupada’s Vyasa-puja day.

“In Srila Prabhupada’s initiation letter to me he wrote, ‘I marked it in your person when I was in Boston, and I prayed to Krishna that this good soul may be aware of the importance of Krishna consciousness.’

“The pure devotee prays to Krishna to give mercy to the fortunate conditioned soul. And because Krishna is bhakta-vatsala—affectionate and favorably inclined to His devotees—He fulfills their desires. Within the heart He encourages the candidate—the object of the devotee’s mercy—to appreciate the value of Krishna consciousness and accept the process of devotional service.”

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Srimad-Bhagavatam 10.2.31

How to Respect Sadhus, and How Sadhus Avoid Respect.

Chapter 22 of Bhāgavatam continues… The four child-sages have appeared at King Pṛthu’s ceremonial arena, and he has welcomed them. Now he begins talking with them and will ask his first question.

When they were seated on their golden seats, the boys seemed like sacred fire in an altar. With deeply appreciative deference for these older brothers of Śiva, the king said, “Aho! What auspicious deeds must I have done to warrant the company of you auspicious beings? Simply seeing you grants benedictions that even yogis cannot find! What could remain impossible to attain, in this world or beyond, for a person who has achieved the grace of great scholars like yourselves?”

The boys appeared uncomfortable with the praise. So the king said, “You are, like your brother Śiva, devotees of Viṣṇu, so my praise is not an exaggeration.”

The boys accepted this but still tried to dodge the king’s praises. “We always travel everywhere, so what is the big deal about our coming here?”

“You always travel everywhere,” the king replied, “but do so beyond the sight of common people, just as we don’t see the all-seeing consciousness that is the cause and essence of everything we see.”

The boys remained silent so the king continued, “Your appearance among us is the greatest wealth! Even a poverty-stricken home should be treated like the wealthiest home in the world if it welcomes sādhus like you.”

“You have welcomed us with expensive golden thrones and many other fancy things,” the boys said. “A poor home has no such things, so how would they properly welcome a sādhu?

“Wealth is not important to a sādhu,” the king said. “Every home at least has water, with which they can welcome you.”

“What if their well has run dry?” the boys asked.

“They can spread some grass on the ground for you to sit on.”

“What if their land is barren, and they have no grass?”

“If they don’t even have grass they can sweep a portion of the ground for you to sit there.”

“What if they are striken with illness and cannot even get up?”

“They can simply offer you their heartfelt feelings.”

“Is this inferior to the fancy reception you have given us?” the boy-sages asked.

“Not at all,” the king replied. “Wealth is not important, the feelings of affection and respect for the sādhu is. A home may overflow with opulence and wealth, but if it is devoid of the water that washes the feet of sādhus, it is like a tree full of snakes. One should not recline in its shade.”

The boys’ faces glowed with delight and appreciation for the King’s deep and sincere realization.

Svāgataṁ!” The king declared, “We welcome you! You are the greatest scholars! You have taken up strict vows in your quest for enlightenment, and, although you are the most serious, devoted, and deep persons, you move about in the form of children! My question for you is this: Most people know nothing except what their senses show them. Plagued by this disease, they value nothing except external objects, and get completely dragged down by their own endeavors to enjoy these objects. O masters, is there any hope for them? Can anything cure them and bring them true happiness?”

Feeling bad for having jumped quickly into his question without asking anything about his guests themselves the king explained, “I don’t ask you how you are doing because there is no doubt that you must be doing well. You are delighted by virtue of your own consciousness, and therefore have no concern with good and bad, or any other illusions. People say you are ascetics, but in fact they are the ones who suffer difficulties, not you. You are friends and guides of us all, so I am asking you – what is the most effective way for people suffering in this world to get relief?”

– Excerpt from an early draft of Part 4 of

Beautiful Tales of the All-Attractive

A translation of Śrīmad Bhāgavatam’s fourth canto

By Vraja Kishor

Parts 1, 2, and 3 of Beautiful Tales of the All Attractive

are available at VrajaKishor.com

Tagged: four kumara, fourth canto, prithu, Srimad Bhagavatam, welcoming a sadhu

No place like Mathura-Vrindavan for Janmashtami

Vrindavan, 2016.08.25 (Shreya Suresh Kumar, itripto) Janmashtami also known as Gokulashtami celebrates the birth of Krishna, believed to be the eight incarnation of Vishnu. Krishna is one of the most popular gods in the Hindu pantheon as are the tales of his growing up years in Vrindavan. This festival is celebrated on a grand scale in several parts of India. But if you really want to experience Janmashtami celebrations, Mathura is the place to be at. Mathura is the birthplace of Krishna and so Janmashtami celebrations in Mathura are unique and unparalleled.

Being the birth place of Krishna, Mathura holds a special place in Hindu mythology to the extent that scriptures call it one of the seven holiest cities (or Sapta Puri) of India. Sapta Puri are also known as tirthas. The region around Mathura and Vrindavan, the two cities most closely associated with Krishna’s birth and formative years is called Braj Bhoomi or the Land of Pastures. Even though Braj Bhoomi isn’t a clearly defined political area, its culture — one associated with herders and cattle breeders — makes it unique. It is here, in the heart of Braj Bhoomi’s Mathura, stands the beautiful Keshav Dev Temple. The general belief is that the spot where it stands is the birthplace of Krishna.

The history of Mathura and Krishna’s birth in Mathura:

Unlike the stories of Krishna’s growing up and adolescent years that are joyous, the one associated with his birth is far from being a happy one. And it involves considerable blood and gore. It begins, as many stories do, in the palace of a just and much loved king. Ugrasen, who ruled Mathura and the regions around it, was a fair and a well-respected ruler. As is wont in stories like these, Ugrasen’s son turns out (we are told) to be the exact opposite of his father. Kamsa is cruel, unjust and therefore hated by his people. But for all his faults, Kamsa has a soft spot for his sister, Devaki, the mother of our story’s hero. And this is where things get complicated.

Hindu mythology tells us that beyond the human realm, the gods have been conspiring to overthrow the evil Kamsa. According to the scriptures Bhudevi or Earth Goddess was so upset by the atrocities committed by evil rulers that she requested Vishnu for help. Vishnu, the preserver of the Universe, agrees to descend upon the earth in a human form and destroy any traces of evil. And Kamsa, it would seem, was his first target.

Photograph courtesy: Wikimedia Commons

Photograph courtesy: Wikimedia Commons

Back in the kingdom of Mathura, Devaki decides to go against her brother and marries Vasudev, the ruler of the Yadu dynasty. The problem? Yadus were Kamsa’s mortal enemies and the two would fight bitter battles. If things weren’t complicated enough for young Devaki for going against her all-powerful brother, the gods decide to announce to the world that her eighth son would be the end of Kamsa. And so a divine call or akashvani predicts Kamsa’s death! The mortified king of Mathura decides to kill Devaki but is calmed down by Vasudev’s pleas for mercy. Vasudev agrees to offer Kamsa all their children soon after they are born in exchange for his newly-wedded wife’s life. Kamsa agrees to spare her life and puts them into a prison. Years pass; Vasudev stands by his word, offering Kamsa one newborn child after another. Kamsa, and this is where the story gets gruesome, kills all of them! One by one, seven newborns die at the hand of the cruel king.

Just before Devaki is to deliver her eighth child — the one who would kill his cruel uncle — Vishnu appears before the bereaved and imprisoned couple and instructs them to exchange their son for the daughter of Yashodha and Nanda’s who be born in Gokul at about the same time. Vasudev is confounded at the instructions. How could he, a prisoner of a powerful king, escape confinement, take his child to Gokul and return with another one? But soon after the birth of his eighth child, in a stroke of divine intervention, the guards of his prison fall asleep, the doors are magically thrown open and Vasudev strolls out of jail carrying baby Krishna in a basket over his head. Battling torrential rains, Vasudev reaches Gokul and exchanges his son for Nanda’s daughter. He returns to the prison with the changeling and appeals, yet again, to Kamsa to spare the child. Vasudev argues that the divine announcement had predicted Kamsa’s death at the hand of a son and not a daughter. And, after all, how could a female child harm the mighty Kamsa anyway? The pleas fall on deaf ears and Kamsa kills the child anyway.

Since gods work in strange, mysterious ways, another divine announcement is heard. This one comes in the form of a goddess who had been reborn as Nanda and Yashodha’s daughter. The goddess announces that the one who would kill Kamsa has already been born! Devaki and Vasudev go back in prison and Kamsa begins the hunt for his would-be assassin. As years go by, Krishna grows up away from the politics and intrigue of Mathura, blissfully unaware of his true calling. Eventually, he does end up killing his uncle, thus fulfilling the divine prophecy. Ugrasen is released, as are the long-imprisoned Devaki and Vasudev. Peace returns to the land of Mathura and Krishna goes on to do greater things, playing (as we know) a crucial role in shaping the future of Hastinapur and indeed the entire country of Bharatvarsha.

Does it come as a surprise that the city of Mathura spares no expense in celebrating the birth of its most famous son? Here is how Janmashtami is celebrated in Mathura.

Janmashtami celebration in Mathura

According to the Hindu calendar, Janmashtami is celebrated on the eight day of Bhadrapad month. This year Janmashtami falls on August 25. Since Krishna was said to be born at the stroke of midnight, devotees stay awake the whole night, offering prayers to him. The most important part of these celebrations is the reading out of Bhagvad Gita, which is done at homes as also in many temples. Rocking cradles with infant Krishna’s idol is also yet another tradition followed across the country.

Janmashtami celebrations also include the practice of Raas Leela. Raas Leela or the Dance of Divine Love is part of the story of Krishna in which he dances with his beloved Radha and her friends or sakhis. The Indian classical dance form Kathak is believed to have been evolved from Raas Leela.

Raas Leela is a treat to watch for those who love narration of mythological stories. It depicts the salad days of Krishna when he was in his playful best. It also tells stories of his flirtatious nature. The Raas leela was performed on a night when Krishna playing the flute attracted the Gopikas of Vrindavan, which is a town in Mathura district. All the Gopikas sneaked away from their houses and head straight to the forest to dance all night with Krishna. It speaks of love and romance. It is also believed that if one who faithfully watches or listens to the Raas Leela will attain pure love and blessings from Krishna also known as Suddha-bhakti. You have to experience it first hand to understand the joy in watching Raas Leela.

Amidst the many celebrations in Mathura, another main event is the offering of ‘Chappan Bhog’ which consists of 56 dishes which is later distributed among devotees. This offering is made after Bal Krishna’s idol is bathed. The most distinctive part about Janmashtami celebrations in Mathura is their ‘Ghattas’ where every temple in Mathura is painted and adorned in the same color which also includes the idol of Krishna. Color-coordinated temples are definitely a treat to the eyes. With these, putting up Jhankis (pictured above), an art form bringing out the life of Krishna and his childhood through artwork that includes clay models of Krishna, is another very distinctive feature of this district. The whole city looks beautiful and colorfully lit up.

Dahi Handi Celebrations in Mathura:

Dahi Handi 1

Human pyramids are formed where people climb on top of each other to reach the pot that is kept hanging from above. This pot has butter and curd with dry fruits and also honey. This is done as an enactment of Krishna’s childhood when he stole butter from people’s homes. It is believed that Krishna always convinced his friends to form the pyramid so that he can reach the pots of butter and curd. These pots were tied from the ceiling by his mother Yashoda, who was well of Krishna’s antics. This particular event is not just symbolic but also fun to watch. Called as Dahi Handi, this is celebrated all across India. People who come to watch throw buckets of water at those who are making this pyramid to make it more challenging for them. The ones who reach the top and manage to break the pots are considered as winners. Dahi Handi in many cities like Mumbai has a price as a reward for the winners. Though the best Dadhi Handi celebrations can be witnessed in Mumbai, Mathura also has its share of fun and delight.

Apart from the performances and celebrations that happen in Mathura, Vrindavan is also a noted town where Krishna is said to have spent his childhood joyfully playing and stealing butter from people and also their love and affection. Vrindavan is a quaint town that is situated in Mathura district. The Janmashtami celebrations in Vrindavan begin 10 days before the festival actual starts. The whole town and district of Mathura comes to life with bhajans and prayers and festivities. Raas Leela is performed here too and Krishna is usually played by young boys here. You can experience the grander of these celebrations in the many temples of Mathura. There are several Krishna temples in Mathura that you must visit during Janmashtami. You will find approximately 5000 temples in Vrindavan alone, out of which temples like the Banke Bihari, Krishna Balaram temple and Iskcon are the most famous ones. All the temples in Mathura and Vrindavan specifically are the same. The puja timings and the rituals are not much different. But in all these temples, the most important ritual is the Abhishek of Krishna. The priests of that particular temple take out Krishna’s idol and cleanse it with a lot of devotion and care. A massive crowd gathers to just watch this. You too must witness this ritual!

Here are a few temples of Mathura and Vrindavan that you must visit.

Krishna Janmabhoomi Temple

Detail of the gates of Krishna Janma Bhumi

The Krishna Janmabhoomi temple in Mathura was built around the same prison where Krishna was born. Situated very close to Mathura railway station, this temple is one of the major attractions in Mathura. It sees many devotees every year. This temple is situated right next to a mosque and hence you will always find heavy security. It is said that this temple has been rebuilt at least 17 times and today this temple is one of the most visited holy places in India. And during Janmashtami, people flock in large numbers. The temple was originally built by Vajranabha, who was the last living person of the Yadu dynasty. It was later rebuilt by Vikramaditya, an emperor of ancient India. During Janmashtami, the temple is lit up and is hustling with prayers, hymn chanting and poojas.

Dwarkadheesh Temple

One of the largest and the oldest temples of Mathura, the Dwarkadheesh temple is a renowned Hindu shrine in dedication to Krishna. It was built in 1814 by Gokul Das Parikh who used to be the treasurer of Swalior State. This is where Krishna shifted to from Mathura and lived until his last breath on earth. The main deity of this temple is Dwarkadheesh who was the King of Dwarka. Dwarkadeesh is kept in this temple in Krishna’s form and the idol is made of black marble. With Krishna’s idol you will also see a white marble idol of his love Radharani. From Mathura junction is it only 3.5 km away and an auto rickshaw ride will take you to this temples in about ten minutes. You can also opt for a cycle rickshaw which will take about 20 minutes.

Kesava Deo Temple

Kesava deo

Kesava Deo temple also known as the Keshav Dev temple is also another most sacred shrines of Mathura. Situated right next to Krishnabhoomu, Kesava Dev is the main deity of this temple. When this temple was first built, the deity was Bajanabh who was Krishna’s great grandson. In 1992, the unfortunate events in Ayodha let to tighter security at the main complex of Krishnabhoomi. This temple is most visited by Krishna devotees from within the country and abroad as well. Once you visit this temple, you will notice that the charm and quaintness of this temple is still intact. This temple hosts every major festival and Janmashatami is one of them. The Goverdhan temple is followed commonly here to celebrate festivals. This temple is said to be built above the prison where Krishna took birth. This temple is said to be so grand that neither paintings nor words could best describe it.

The construction of this beautiful temple was completed in 1965 at a whopping cost of Rs 15 million. You will also find a small room next to the temple that resembles a prison. If the stories are true, it is believed that this is the room where Krishna was born.

ISKCON Vrindavan

shutterstock Vrindavan1

The Krishna Balarama Temple is one of the main temples of ISKCON situated in Vrindavan. The main deities of this temple are both Krishna and Balarama who is Krishna’s elder brother. This temple is very strict about cleanliness and maintains high standards of the same. ISKCON is ‘For International Society for Krishna Conscience’ where Janmashtami is celebrated with much pomp and merriment. Wherever you might be, this is one temple that you must visit during Janmashtami to witness the devotion and faith that people have towards Krishna. Preparations begin well in advance and the temple premises are cleaned and decorated for Gokulashtami. The altar and the hall of this temple are lit up vibrantly and adorned with flowers. On the day of Janmashtami, a total of 108 offerings are made to Krishna. These offerings consist of sweets and savouries and are mostly made by devotees with mush devotion. Another important event is the bathing of Krishna’s idol with water that is purified with saffron, tulasi leaves and also cardamom and rose petals. Authorities who work here make sure the make ample arrangements for devotees who come from across cities. You will find many ISKCON temples in India; however the whole vibe of this festival is best felt and experienced in Mathura- the birthplace of Krishna.

If you are planning to head to Mathura to experience how people celebrate Krishna’s birth then let us tell you, you are going to have the time of your life. You do not have to worry about the stay options in Mathura since there are a lot. Do not expect the 3-star accommodations that you find in cities. The hotels and homestays in Mathura are decent enough and are ideal for a couple of days’ stay. And because Janmashtamai is just few days away, make your reservations before they are all booked.

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Sri Krishna Janmastami Talk from 2013, San Jose, California

krishna-son-of-vasudevaGiriraj Swami read and spoke on Srimad-Bhagavatam 10.33.36 at Lord Krishna’s Appearance Day festival.

“When we hear these stories, we should think, ‘Krishna is so kind to His devotees.’ Even in the midst of the worst calamity, if you just take shelter of Krishna — just surrender to Krishna — He will protect you.  ‘I could have that facility if I surrender to Krishna. Why am I missing out — puttering around with my little toys and sense gratification and fallible soldiers? I am wasting my time. I should surrender to Krishna and get the real benefit.’ So, Krishna appears for this reason. And we can make the purpose of His appearance successful by hearing about His pastimes and dedicating ourselves to Him.”

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Giriraj Swami
Vaisesika Dasa

By chanting Hare Krishna, I can understand “Who I am”

By His Divine Grace A. C. Bhaktivedānta Swami Prabhupāda

You may inquire why we chant Hare Krishna.

“Hare Krishna” was chanted by Lord Chaitanya, who introduced this movement five hundred years ago in India. We are following the footprints of Lord Chaitanya. Because He chanted Hare Krishna, therefore we are also chanting Hare Krishna.

Lord Chaitanya dancing ecstatically to the transcendental chant of Hare Krishna

Lord Chaitanya dancing ecstatically to the transcendental chant of Hare Krishna

Lord Chaitanya has recommended that God has innumerable names, and any one of those names can be chanted, and there are no hard and fast rules and regulations for chanting. It is not that you have to prepare yourself or you have to educate yourself or you have to adjust yourself for chanting. No. Everyone can chant Hare Krishna. Similarly, there is no preoccupation or any rules and regulations.

So the benefit will be that gradually you shall understand what you are. The whole modern civilization is going on under the wrong impression that “I am this body.” In Srimad-Bhagavatam it is said that “One who goes on with the concept of the body, is no better than an ass or cow.” [Yasyātma-buddhih kunape tri-dhātuke… SB 10.84.13].

But actually we are not this body. So if we chant this mantra, Hare Krishna, then I can understand what I am. And as soon as I understand that I am not this body, then my activities become different, because at the present moment I am acting on the concept of my life as this body. Because this body is born of a particular place in a particular country, therefore I am saying that “I am American,” or “Indian,” or “Chinese” or “German,” due to this body. And because I have got relationship with some woman with this body, therefore I accept the woman as my wife. There are hundreds of thousands of women, but the woman who has got relationship with this body is my wife. There are thousands and millions of children, but one child who has got intimate relation with this body, I call him as my son.

So if the body is falsely identified, then we can understand that our identification with this world is also false. The real identification is, as it is stated in the Vedic literature, aham brahmāsmi: “I am Brahman.”

“I am Brahman” means “I am spirit soul. I am not this matter.” So this misconception (that I am this body) has to be removed. Of course, it is not possible that everyone will be able to understand it, but even if a certain percentage of the human society can understand, so many problems will be solved immediately.

[An excerpt from a lecture delivered in Montreal, Canada on June 15, 1968]

Also Read

DETECTING THE SPIRIT SOUL

If the soul exists, where is the soul exactly located in body?

What happens after we die? Where does our soul go?

Unless we are interested in such questions, there is no need of wasting time to accept any guru or spiritual master

Janmashtami also being celebrated at Koile Ghat

Mathura, 2016.08.24 (VT): Today the whole world will dive into an ocean of joyful celebration at the coming of Janmashtami, the appearance day of Lord Sri Krishna. Every temple, ashram and preacher from every branch of Hinduism celebrates the birth of Lord Krishna with great pomp. The country’s big cities each have their own special events.

Most of the attention will go to Krishna’s birthplace in Mathura, and only a few people will take notice of Koile Ghat on the banks of the Yamuna in the nearby village of Koile Alipur. But there are more and more Brajvasis who will be drenched in the nectar of devotion by celebrating the pastime of Krishna’s appearance at Koile Ghat.

This is where the Braj Foundation will also be celebrating, for it is here that it undertook one of its first major and most successful projects.

Koile Ghat was a direct witness to the actions of Vasudevaji who came this way to cross the Yamuna on the night of the first Janmashtami, carrying the newborn baby Krishna in a basket on his head. As he crossed the river, balancing Krishna precariously on his head, Vasudev was overcome with a sense of panic from the rising water and rapid current. Actually, it was the excited river goddess, who recognized the baby as her eternal husband, and was swirling up to touch his feet.

But Vasudeva did not know that and so he called out “koi le ! koi le !” (“Someone take him!”) beseeching someone to take the baby as he felt he was being swept away. This is how the place came to be known as Koile Ghat. Vasudeva was saved when the all-knowing divine baby lowered his feet so that Yamunaji could touch them. The Yamuna subsided and Vasudeva was able to cross over safely to Gokul, which lies on the other side.

Satellite maps reveal that this particular spot is indeed where the Yamuna’s width is the least during her course in this region.

The renovation of Koile Ghat

Most of the mahants in Braj’s maths and monasteries had been giving attention to their own projects, temples and guesthouses, but for centuries the historical spots related to Krishna’s pastimes had once again been abandoned and fallen into ruin.

When we became aware of the situation at Koile Ghat, we not only had improvements made, restoring and beautifying the locale, but had an 8-foot figure of Vasudeva placed there in commemoration of that glorious event. The historic ghat was also rebuilt. The total cost of the work was Rs 18 lakh.

A village level maintenance committee named ‘Koile Ghat Sanrakshan Samiti’ was constituted to look after the ghat. The enthusiastic members take lead in organizing various festivals here like offering 125 thousand oil lamps every year on Yama Dvitiya (a day after Deepawali).

Recently, at the request of the devotees of Koile village, the Braj Foundation further spruced up the site by building a temple to the goddess Yamuna and some stone canopies or chhatris. A deity to Yamuna Devi was also consecrated in the temple.

Now the local villagers come here every evening for satsang, taking pleasure in bhajan and kirtan of the names of the Lord. It is as though the ecstatic moment of Krishna’s appearance on Janmashtami is being relived here on a daily basis.

Koileghat 2

 

 

 

Interestingly this is the most attractive view point of Yamuna. From this ghat one can see Gokul across the river, Vrindavan on your left and Mathura on the right. No other point at Yamuna in Braj gives you such a magnificent view. Any devotee who sits in the cooling shade of the trees and looks out on the banks of the Yamuna and the village of Gokul across the river, spontaneously begins to glorify Braj and Krishna. Glories to Braj Dham! Glories to Sri Krishna!

There are several dozen historic ghats like this on the banks of Yamuna where numerous leelas of Shri Radha Krishna were performed. All of them are in shambles and need immediate attention. In order to restore these ancient heritage ghats (banks) of river Yamuna a detailed study is being done by the research wing of Braj Foundation.

History Repeats Itself

In the summer of 2010, heavy rains led to flooding in the Yamuna. The water covered all the steps at Koile Ghat came as far as the Vasudevaji statue up to his waist, exactly as it had happened five thousand years ago. Brajwasis and pilgrims were so thrilled to see this rare leela being reenacted that they came in large numbers to behold that memorable scene with their own eyes. Press photographers risked their lives by entering the strong current of Yamuna flood waters to capture this memorable image with their cameras.

Yamuna Pujan Sthali

If you want to perform Yamuna pujan in Braj, you may not find a better place than this. Unlike other ghats in Mathura where you have to negotiate your way through congested lanes, heavy traffic chaos and where no car parking space is available for you, here you approach this transcendental site very comfortably from NH2, opp. Mathura Refinery Township. A proper road takes you to Koile Ghat where there is enough place for parking, followed by lush green garden and natural beauty.

The ghat lays within the precincts of the 12.5 hectare Ruchil Van, a forest that has also been revived by the Braj Foundation with the generous cooperation of the Indian Oil Corporation, to whom this land belongs. They have pledged to maintain it as a green area.

Vasudeva statue in floods of 2010.

Vasudeva statue in floods of 2010.

 

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Laxmi Gautam stirs police to action on Vrindavan morphing case

Vrindavan, 2016.08.25 (Indian Express) : The problem of “morphed” pictures posted on-line or sent through WhatsApp or Instagram is on the rise in India. The problem is a fairly new one, and police are not sure how to handle the cases. When it happened in Vrindavan, the police did not not even register the case or start investigating until local social activist Laxmi Gautam got involved.

On August 13, Shyam Chaudhary, a priest from Vrindavan, received more than 50 photoshopped images of teenage girls from Vrindavan and other parts of the country on WhatsApp. The post maliciously identified the girls as prostitutes, and included their names, addresses and the “rates” charged by them.

When the priest called up the number from which the photographs had been sent, it was found to be switched off. Chaudhary then called a friend in Vrindavan, whose daughter was featured in the photographs, in which photos of the girls’ faces had been attached to nude torsos.

“Shyam Chaudhary came to me and showed the pictures. I already knew that some pictures of my daughter, a graduation student, had been altered by an unknown man. But I was shocked to see how he had sent the pictures with the ‘rates’ charged,” said the girl’s father.

The girl, who is under depression, has stopped going to college since she heard about the photoshopped pictures. Her father said he had lodged a complaint with the Vrindavan and Mathura police around nine months ago but had not received any response.

“My son and I had received the morphed pictures of my daughter on WhatsApp in November last year. I contacted the Vrindavan Kotwali police station, where we were told to contact the cyber cell. When we went to the cyber cell, we were asked to get permission from the SSP,” he said.

“Even after making several rounds of the SSP office, my complaint was not heard. I stopped pursuing the matter as I was tired of the callous approach of the policemen,” he added.

The family then contacted Vrindavan-based social activist, Laxmi Gautam. “Of the 50-plus pictures shared on WhatsApp, 35 were of teenage girls and women from Vrindavan… Many families have refused to take up the matter as it involves young girls. Most of the victims have stopped going out in public and are in a state of depression,” she said.

“But many parents accompanied me to the police on Tuesday… Nine families met Mathura SP (City) Alok Priyardashi and lodged their complaints in the evening,” said Gautam.

When contacted, Mathura SSP Babloo Kumar said he has ordered that an FIR be lodged into the matter.

Morphing is editing an original picture by unauthorized user or fake identity. A person’s pictures are downloaded by fake users and again reposted/uploaded on different websites by creating fake profiles after editing. This amounts to violation of I.T. Act, 2000 and attracts sec. 43 & 66 of the said Act. The violator can also be booked under the Indian Penal Code.

 

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Respect Comes Naturally

I’ve taken the auspicious opportunity of Śrī Krishna Janmāṣṭhamī to resume my work on presenting Canto Four of Śrīmad Bhāgavatam, in the same manner as I have so far managed, despite myself, to present the first three. I resume from the very beginning of Chapter 22:

Just as the citizens finished expressing their appreciation to King Pṛthu, four sages entered the arena, descending from the sky and shining as brilliantly as the sun. The King and his retinue recognized them as Brahma’s original quadruplet children. They all stood up to greet the sages, as eagerly and naturally as the senses arise to greet their desired sense objects.

Back-To-Godhead-Prthu-Maharaja-With-Four-kumarasThe most significant thing here is that Prthu’s expression of respect towards the sages came “as eagerly and naturally as the senses arise to greet their desired sense objects.” (indriyeśo guṇān iva)

What does this show?

First, it shows that the four sages were obviously respectable – as much as a voluptuous woman is obviously desirable and attractive, there is no denying it. There is a lot of artificial respect given these days, because no one really has many genuine good qualities. Therefore rules and traditions and cultural morrays have to be put into place and enforced to insure that the people who thrive on respect continue to get it. This is the system of respect that flourishes in kali-yuga, in the absence of truly respectable people. When a person is truly respectable, we automatically respond accordingly; just as our saliva starts to flow upon seeing and smelling a wonderfully delish, fresh, hot plate of excellent food.

Second, it shows that King Pṛthu was not “diseased.” Excellent sense objects do not always arouse the senses, for example, if the senses are weak and ill. A diseased person does not have the spontaneous reaction to delicious food that a healthy person has. Similarly, in kali-yuga we are all diseased in our interest of what sages have to offer. Therefore even if a self-evidently exalted sage comes into our midst, we do not respond. We prefer instead to continue offering our pretentious respects to the powerful personalities officially endorced by the leaders of our organizations and societies – because we are diseased; we do not have interest in the wisdom of sages, we have interest in obtaining better chapattis and more comfortable coushins, and maintaining a roof over our head and meals in our plates.

So, two things are required: an excellent sense object and healthy senses. Then there can be enjoyment, and the senses spontaneously awaken for it. Similarly there must be a genuine sage with, and there must be a person sincerely interested in true wisdom. Then the sage will be happily and warmly welcomed and wisdom can flourish.

Under the influence of their glorious nature, the civilized king approached them with humble posture, and very respectfully welcomed them properly with offerings and seats. He personally washed their feet, and then bathed the knot of hair atop his own head with that water. He did this in front of everyone, so that everyone would know his opinion of the exalted sages, and the proper behavior even a king should show to the wise.

– Vraja Kishor dās

www.vrajakishor.com

Tagged: Bhagavata Purana, canto four, fourth canto, respect, Srimad Bhagavatam

Srila Prabhupada’s Vyasa Puja Offering 2016

09081606nama om visnu-padaya krsna-presthaya bhu-tale
srimate bhaktivedanta-svamin iti namine
namas te sarasvate deve gaura-vani-pracarine
nirvisesa-sunyavadi-pascatya-desa-tarine

Dearmost Srila Prabhupada,

All glories to Your Divine Grace on this most auspicious day of your Vyasa Puja. I had the great fortune of coming in contact with the devotees in 1968. Inspired by their enthusiasm and cordiality, I visited your temple in Buffalo, New York, one Sunday a few hours before the feast. In spite of my far from brahminical appearance, I was invited into the kitchen to help, and after a two minute briefing on the protocol of cooking for Krsna, I found myself on the assemply line folding samosas. I love to cook, but what I remember most about that day was how warm and kindhearted everyone was. I chose to be sheltered by Iskcon from then on, and I am very happy to say that for 47 years your movement has fully satisfied my heart. There are many reasons for that, but the main one is the love shared amongst the devotees.

While writing this offering, I was reading in His Holiness Sivarama Swami’s book, Krishna Sangati, the  following description of the deer’s despair due to intense separation from Krsna after the Lord’s departure to Mathura from Vrndavna:

Once-playful deer, unmindful of the soft grasses that had lost their flavour, longingly gazed towards Mathura. In sadness they simply listened to the echo of Krsna’s flute-song. And if that echo were ever to leave the valley of their ears, then how would these timid creatures have continued to live? They would live only by hearing of Krsna, as did the gopis, who had sustained Vrndavana with their love, as did the bees, birds, and sparse foliage, who had all abandoned their duties in the trauma of Krsna’s absence. And live they must, for if one tiny insect, one insignificant blade of grass, or any of Krsna’s associates were to die, Krsna would im- mediately perish of a broken heart.

How relishable it is to read about Krsna’s divine love for his devotees and how much He cares for them. And how equally relishable it is for us to meditate on that same love which He imbued you with and which you showered upon us through your personal dealings, compassion, intimacy, concern for our wellbeing, and huge personal sacrifice. You clearly showed, just as did your Lord thoughout His pastimes, that your devotees were more dear to you than your own life.

Iskcon is now 50 year old, and although you left this planet after being with us for only 12 years, the legacy of love, so sweet and impelling, that you powerfully instilled with us has been transferred from generation to generation for 40 more years.

We see that your Iskcon has not only stood the test of time but is replete with wonderful accomplishments that will surely continue to propell us far into the future with great transcendental force. I am so happy to have visited yatras where Iskcon is expanding at a rate reminiscent of the days you were personally with us. Although it is impressive to see all the big beautiful buildings that are going up and projects that have been started, what I have been truly overwhelmed by more than anything else is how many pure hearted souls your stalwart disciples and their followers are attracting. Everywhere I have gone I have met saints, young and old, decorated with one vaishnava quality after another. Their nature is such that it makes me feel as if I have known and loved them forever. They are warm, humble, openhearted, joyful, and enthusiastic, and reflect your mood in such a way that one cannot help but want to associate with these devotees again and again.

You say in your Upadesamrta that this movement was started to facilitate the love shared amongst the devotees.  That love is what everyone truly wants, and when sincere seekers find themselves in an atmosphere permeated by it, they become greedy for it and come back again and again for more. That is the Iskcon you gave everything for and sheltered us with. It is the gift of lifetimes, the spiritual world on earth, and the only hope for the lonely, alienated, hapless souls of this dark age. You bestowed it on all and continue to do so as your  transcendental potency flows like a river of nectar that, as predicted, will continue to rise and flood every town and village of this world.

In spite of all the inspiration you have bestowed upon me through your purehearted devotees, still I have for so long been shamefully aware of my unwillingness to wholeheartedly follow in their footsteps. Therefore I am begging you, Srila Prabhupada, to please continue to cast your merciful glance upon me so that in some lifetime this aspiring bhakta can take proper advantage of your treasurehouse of good fortune.  Until  then, I will continue to pray for the day when I am free from the envy, lust,  and lethargy that has blocked my path.  On that  glorious day, I will truly know what it means to have joined your Krsna  consciousness movement.

Your grateful servant,

Gunagrahi Das

Get Govardhan Parikrama declared as Eco Sensitive Zone: Green Activists

New Delhi / Vrindavan, 2016.08.24 (VT):  The Vrindavan-based environmental activist group Friends of Vrindavan  (FOV) demanded that special attention be given to 21-kilometre stretch of road around Govardhan, the Parikrama Marg.

In their letter addressed to the Environment Minister, the activists said the entire area within the Govardhan Parikrama should be recognized and preserved as an Eco Sensitive Zone.

DSC_0031On Monday, three members from Friends of Vrindavan met the Union Minister for Environment and Forest Shri Anil Madhav Dave at his office, situated in the Indira Paryavaran Bhavan in New Delhi.

FOV director Jagannath Poddar briefed the Environment Minister on the NGO’s activities and informed him about the degrading environmental condition of Vraja – Vrindavan.  He was accompanied by Shri Tamal Krishna Das Brahmachari from Imli Tala and Shri Akash Vashishtha, an environmental journalist and activist.

The minister was informed that the entire Vraja is under threat from garbage, pollutants and toxic materials, domestic waste and the sewer. The vast green cover, which once up on a time was the unique feature of the Lila Bhumi of the Divine Couple, is shrinking as concretization and unplanned urbanization go unchecked. The infrastructure of the town can’t provide services to the increasing numbers of pilgrims who visit the Holy Dham all year round.

“We are alarmed and seriously feel that the swaroop and flavor of Vraja area must be preserved at all costs. The government should make some policies that can save Vraja,” said Shri Tamal Krishna Das.

“The Giriraj hill is diminishing each day due to unplanned urbanization. The area of the entire Govardhan Parikrama Marg must be preserved by declaring it an Eco Sensitive Zone.  The ESZ will check the uncontrolled urbanization of the area and prevent further concretization. The green cover of the area should be revived by planting more trees and all tree felling must be outlawed,” said Jagannath Poddar.

Shri Akash Vashishtha urged, “The revenue or the gram sabha land on the sides of the Yamuna between Mathura and Vrindavan must be acquired for the Forestry Department. It will protect the Yamuna flood plain from encroachments and illegal construction.”

The Minister appreciated the concern of the delegation and advised them to approach the State Government to make a proposal about it. He assured them that if the state government sends any such proposal his way, the Union Ministry will consider it favorably.

meeting with the minister

meeting with the minister

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Green Tribunal delivered its final verdict on Vrindavan’s garbage menace

DSC_0083Vrindavan / New Delhi, 2016.08.23: What could be a better gift for Vrindavan on the occasion of Shri Krishna Janmashtami, than a renewed commitment of keeping Vrindavan clean? The National Green Tribunal has given its final judgment against the illegal and unregulated disposal of the Municipal Solid Waste in the temple town of Vrindavan.
The Green Court has also refused to modify its earlier order of slapping environment compensation on the authorities including the Vrindavan Municipality, Uttar Pradesh Pollution Control Board and the District Administration. The court said that the petition of the authorities were ‘without substance’ and lack ‘bonafie’.
In its order the Green Court restrained the Municipality or any person from burning the Municipal Solid Waste or other waste in the open in any part of Vrindavan, as well as from dumping the waste on the river bed of Yamuna. The court also directed the Municipality to identify the site and prepare the same for transportation and dumping of the Municipal Solid Waste.
In given time, the Municipality didn’t comply with the order of the court. The petitioner Shri Madhumangal Shukla informed the court that the respondents were defying the courts order. He persisted in the court that the indiscriminate dumping of the garbage was still in practice even after the court’s direction. He also producDSC_0074ed the evidences on how the garbage was still being burnt at different places including the banks of the water bodies.
After seeing the evidences, the court appointed a senior lawyer as court commissioner to visit Vrindavan to find out the truth about the garbage management in the holy town. After visiting Vrindavan, the commissioner submitted his report in which he dealt with different sites in the City of Vrindavan and showed that there was indiscriminate dumping of the Solid Waste besides being burnt in different places.
While dismissing the plea of the authorities to give relief on the fine imposed on them; the court said, “The report of the local commissioner discloses the pathetic state of affairs prevailing in Vrindavan, even on the bank of Yamuna. The respondents cannot repeatedly harm the public health and environment by not acting in accordance with their statutory and public law obligation. For these reasons, we see no ground to modify and /or recall the order dated 11th May 2016.”
The bench gave two weeks time to all the Respondent Applications to comply with the judgment dated 11th May, 2016 and deposit the requisite amount with the Central Pollution Control Board.
Talking to the media the petitioner, Shri Madhumangal Shukla said, “It is the victory for all the devotees who want to see Vrindavan clean. Now when the court has given its final verdict, we need to ensure that the Municipality comply with the directions of the court.”
“We shall decide the next course of action in the meeting of the Braj-Vrindavan Heritage Alliance,” added Shri Shukla.

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Manjaris husbands, similar services and complexions

Question – “In previous blogs, like those of December 4, 2007, April 19, 2015 and June 15, 2015 you said manjaris have no husbands, but in his commentary on Ujjvala Nīlamaṇi, Śrī Viśvanātha Cakravartī writes –

paroḍhānāṁ śrī-rādhādīnāṁ dāsyaḥ kāścana śrī-vṛṣabhānv-ādibhir vivāha-kāle dattāḥ kanyakā eva kāścana tad-anyā rūpa-mañjary-ādayaḥ paroḍhā eva jñeyāḥ. bimbādhare kṣatam anāgata bhartṛkāyāḥ [vilāpa-kusumāñjali 1] iti śrī-dāsa-gosvāmy-ukteḥ. 

“Some of the servants of Rādhā, who were given at the time of her marriage by Vṛṣabhānu, were not married, and others like Rūpa-mañjarī, were married. Raghunātha dāsa Gosvāmī has said:

tvaṁ rūpa-mañjari sakhi prathitā pure’smin
puṁsaḥ parasya vadanaṁ na hi paśyasīti
bimbādhare kṣatam anāgata-bhartṛkāyā
yat te vyadhāyi kim u tac chuka-puṅgavena

“My dear friend Rūpa Manjari! In the township of Vraja you are well known for your chastity. You don’t even look at the faces of other men! It is therefore surprising that your lips, that are as beautiful as red Bimba-fruits, have been bitten, although your husband is not at home. Has this maybe been done by the best of parrots?” (Vilāpa-kusumāñjali 1). He quotes exactly the same verse that you quote to prove the opposite.”

Advaitadās: “Look at the next sentence in his commentary – arvācīnānāṁ sādhaka-bhaktānāṁ tu bhāvo yathā-ruci yathā-sampradāyaṁ vā phaliṣyatīti boddhavyam – “It should be understood that the bhāva of present day sādhakas will bear results according to taste and sampradāya.” It is not that there is only one way or there is only one Rūpa Manjarī. There are as many Rūpa Manjarīs as there are liberated manjarīs to serve and follow her. Viśvanātha also writes in the same commentary: ‘Some were not married, some were married.” It is not that every single manjarī MUST be married. Śrīla Narottama dāsa similarly sang: kobe ei yāvat grāme āmār pāṇi grahaṇa hobe? (“When will I be married in Yāvat?”) – this is also optional.

Question – “Sceptics of siddha praṇālī say that sometimes disciples of the same Guru find they have all gotten the same manjarī-service.”

Advaitadās – “So, what is the problem? That Guru-manjarī may specialize in providing a certain service to Śmt. Rādhārāṇī’s lotus-feet. We should not forget that every sādhana-siddha (previously conditioned soul who reached perfection) has his/her own Rādhārāṇī to serve, there is no surplus of any service-offerings. Śrīla Sanātan Goswāmī writes in his Bṛhad Bhāgavatāmṛta (2.5.52) –

yathā hi bhagavān ekaḥ śrī-kṛṣṇo bahu-mūrtibhiḥ
bahu-sthāneṣu varteta tathā tat-sevakā vayam

“Just as the one Supreme Lord Śrī Kṛṣṇa exists in many forms and many places, so also do we, His servants.” 

Those sceptics cannot conceive of the unlimited nature of the spiritual sky. Most manjarīs also have the same name. Even in the material world it is like that – how many Jacks and Johns are there not in America, how many Vladimirs and Irinas in Russia? They are still all different individuals! Again here, each Rati- or Guna-manjarī has her own Rādhā to serve. A rāgānugā guru may have 1000s of manjarī disciples, surely they will not all have different names and services. But they do each have their own Rādhā to serve. It can also happen that two manjarīs serve together, as we can see in verses 55 and 72 of Vilāp-kusumanjali for instance. These scenarios are not mutually exclusive. We have our limited concepts here that only one thing can be done at a time by one person. In the Bhāgavat (10.69) it is described how One Kṛṣṇa performed different pastimes with 16.108 queens in Dvārakā all at the same time – can you explain? So if one Guru gives the same manjarī-service to all of his disciples, then that is his/her specialty! This will only work with faith – a man was told he could walk across water by holding a closed tree-leaf in his hand, and it worked, until he opened the leaf and lost his faith. As soon as he lost his faith he drowned. Of course the spiritual world being unlimited does not mean that anything goes – rasābhāsa (perverted mellows) and viruddha siddhānta (bogus theories) should and cannot be carried along to that realm.”

Question – I heard some manjarīs also have a black complexion?

Advaitadās – Sādhu Bābā gave one of my Guru-sisters a black complexion, yes. Mostly manjarīs have fair, golden complexions, but that doesn’t mean they cannot be orange, pink, green, or śyāma colored. Śrīla Prabodhānanda Sarasvatī writes in Vṛndāvana Mahimāmṛta (3.107) – nānā-divya-vicitra-varṇa-tanubhir…….premāndhaiḥ parimaṇḍite’tilalite rādhā-sakhī-maṇḍalaiḥ” “Rādhā’s sakhīs (manjarīs are included) are decorated with blind love, are very delicate and have various divine, variegated or wonderful complexions.”

Ebullient Yamuna trying to touch feet of Krishna in Gokul

Gokul 2016.08.23 (VT): Gokul is getting ready to celebrate Janmashtami, the biggest festival of the year. Simultaneously, the Yamuna is rising to touch the feet of her dearest Lord Krishna. Lakhs of devotees have already started visiting the village to experience this miracle during Shri Krishna Janmotsav.

Playground of Lord Krishna at Nand Bhavan, Gokul (Photo: Prawal Saxena)

Playground of Lord Krishna at Nand Bhavan, Gokul (Photo: Prawal Saxena)

Gokul is the place where Lord Krishna came right after taking birth in the jail of his uncle Kamsa. The sacred place is now getting ready for the three-day celebration which will start after the “chathi poojan” on Aug 24. Devotees have already started thronging the place to get the blessings of Lord Krishna by swinging his swing.

Nand Bhavan, Gokul (Photo: Prawal Saxena)

Nand Bhavan, Gokul (Photo: Prawal Saxena)

Every year at this time, the sacred Yamuna River rises as far as Nand Bhavan in Gokul to touch the feet of Lord Krishna. She advances as far as the gates of Nand Bhavan and then goes back after navami, which will be Aug 27 this year.

Kanha’s Gokul sadly neglected

Potra Kund at Gokul (Photo: AU)

Potra Kund at Gokul (Photo: AU)

Gokul is the place where Lord Krishna lived for 11 years and 52 days. The place is associated with the pastimes of Lord while he knocked down many demons. This is the place where he stayed and did cowherding for years, but this sacred place if now losing its value as residents are migrating in search of jobs and better opportunities.

Gokul is almost 10 kilometres from Mathura and has a population of around 5,000. This place full of pastimes of little Krishna is becoming empty now as many families migrate to bigger cities for job opportunities.

The village is old and has narrow lanes and old styled houses, but many of them are now permanently locked. A 65 years old local from Gokul, Babulal Pujari said that he has seen around 100 families migrating from here in the past couple of years.

Gokul also lacks in basic infrastructure. There is only one hospital which is mostly empty as no doctor is permanently on duty there. People have to walk for almost a kilometer to get public conveyances. The population of cows is also decreasing day by day as people don’t keep them anymore.

Squalor can be seen at every corner of the town with no one to take responsibility to clean it. The Mathura district city administration doesn’t even bother to put sign boards to guide visitors to the tourist centers. The road leading to Nand Bhavan is also damaged due to negligence from the city administration.

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The three stages of chanting Hare Krishna mantra

By His Divine Grace A. C. Bhaktivedānta Swami Prabhupāda

By chanting Hare Krishna mantra one becomes free from sinful reaction. Not only that, he becomes very soon a devotee. Not only does he become free from all sinful reactions of his life, but his mind becomes fixed up in the lotus feet of Krishna. So try to understand what is the result of chanting. By the offenseless chanting of the Hare Krishna mantra, we remain freed from all sinful reaction of life and our attachment for the Supreme Lord in devotional service increases.

Prabhupada in Tompkins Square Park

Prabhupada chanting the Hare Krishna mantra

There was an argument between Haridasa Thakura and a brahmana. Haridasa Thakura said that by the offenseless chanting of the holy name of Lord, one not only does one become free, not only does he become brahma-bhuta (liberated), but his love of Godhead manifests. The dormant love of Godhead manifests and automatically he is liberated. So that brahmana protested that “Don’t exaggerate your chanting in this way. One becomes liberated after performing so much austerities, penances, and you say simply by chanting Hare Krishna, one becomes liberated! This is too much exaggeration.” So there was argument, and the argument increased, and there was cursing also, and Haridasa Thakura was a little bit agitated, and the brahmana became offender and he suffered. That incidence is described in the Chaitanya-caritamrita.

So the first stage of chanting Hare Krishna mantra is full of offenses. But if one sticks to the principle… Therefore we have to regularly chant sixteen rounds at least. So even if there are offenses, by simply chanting and being repentant that “I have committed this offense unnecessarily or without knowledge,” so simply be repentant and go on chanting. Then the stage called nāmābhāsa will come. That is offenseless, when there are no more offenses. That is called nāmābhāsa. At nāmābhāsa stage one becomes liberated immediately. And when one is liberated, if he goes on chanting — naturally he will go on chanting — then his love of Krishna will become manifest.

These are the three stages of chanting: chanting with offense, chanting as a liberated person and chanting in love of God. The example is just like an unripe mango undergoes changes. It is not that chanting brings another thing as a result. No. The same thing becomes manifest in different feature. Just like if you taste an unripe mango, it is very sour. But when it is fully ripened, the taste is changed. The taste is now sweet.

So in the beginning we may be very much reluctant in the matter of chanting, but when you become liberated the chanting will be so sweet that you cannot give up. Just like Rupa Gosvami says that “If I had millions of tongues and trillions of ears, then the chanting of Hare Krishna mantra would have been relishable. What can I do with one tongue and two ears?” So that is liberated stage. That is prema.

That stage is attainable. If you follow the principles regularly, everyone will attain to that stage when he simply likes to chant Hare Krishna, Hare Krishna, Krishna Krishna, Hare Hare/ Hare Rama, Hare Rama, Rama Rama, Hare Hare.

[An excerpt from a lecture delivered on the Srimad Bhagavatam 6.2.9-10 in Allahabad, India on Jan 15, 1971]

Janmastami

(Kadamba Kanana Swami, 17 August 2014, Goloka-dhama, Germany, Janmastami, Srimad Bhagavatam 10.41.6-10)  

Krsna_yashodaWe remember the pastime of when Krsna first came to Mathura and he met a garland-maker, Sudama, who offered Krsna many nice garlands, sandalwood and other things. That garland-maker actually used go to Vrindavan regularly to collect flowers, so he had previously met Krsna and made offerings to Krsna with flowers, so that garland-maker was already recognized by Krsna as a devotee. At the end, he adorned Krsna and Balarama with beautiful garlands and they looked very beautiful. Then the two Lords offered to the surrendered Sudama, who was bowing before them, whatever benediction he desired. Sudama asked the Lord for unshakable devotion – devotion that could not be destroyed by anything. Then he asked the Lord for friendship with the Lord’s devotees and for transcendental compassion for all living beings. So this garland-maker was very intelligent. What would we ask for if we would suddenly, unexpectedly meet Krsna? What would we ask? It would not be so easy, ‘Well, Krsna, okay, give me love of God!’  But we can see the example of Sudama who was thinking much deeper about the matter than we are. Love of God is very good but Sudama asked to be given unshakable devotion, as he knew maya is very strong and did not want be affected by anything. Unshakable devotion means love of God!

This is very nice – this garland-maker who seems to be, in a way, a background personality; there is not a whole chapter in Srimad Bhagavatam dedicated to the garland-maker who offered some garlands to Krsna. But just see how profound his thinking is and how important unshakable devotion is, how important friendship with the devotees of the Lord are and how important transcendental compassion for all living beings is.

To approach Krsna we require blessings. Janmastami is an opportunity to approach Krsna and to really enter into Krsna’s reality. We are going to spend time remembering various pastimes of Krsna over the next few days and all these activities are actually taking us into Vrindavan because it is through remembering the activities of Krsna that we are getting entrance; as Jiva Gosvami explains, Vrindavan is a state of consciousness. So we are looking for blessings just as Sudama received benedictions from the Lord and asked for the unshakable devotion.  Like this, we are gradually preparing ourselves so may we all be blessed by such a meditation of Sudama.

krsna_paintingThe fact is that by committing ourselves to Krsna, by focusing, by giving ourselves, by making offerings to Krsna – even if only for a day: chanting, cooking, hearing, intensely focusing on Krsna the entire day – then we will find that our relationship with Krsna has become so much nourished and strengthened that we realize that this Janmastami is not just a festival where we get enlivened by the association of devotees and a wonderful program until the next enlivening festival. No, we actually realize that if we really make a commitment to focus on Krsna, to really get serious, just for a day, then this Janmastami makes a permanent change in our spiritual life. We are permanently coming closer to Krsna, so in this way, each Janmastami is another step closer to Krsna.

Janmastami is particularly meant for us as it is an opportunity to connect in a very serious way with Krsna and in service to him, because then it will be a great source of strength that will benedict us in our spiritual life. We build on that and then we surrender again and in this way we build up our spiritual strength.

Scriptures recommend performing of naimitika kriya – exceptional devotion practice, or special spiritual activity during special occasions that brings new life and that we bring back to our everyday routine devotional practices of nitya kriya. So doing something special on this Janmastami can renew our everyday practice, bring new life and at the same time because we have for one day functioned on a higher level of surrender than usual, we have come one step closer to making that permanent and that has the lasting effect. With this meditation we can begin our Janmastami celebration and get ready to come before Krsna. We are anticipating with great eagerness Krsna’s appearance day and hope everyone will have a wonderful Janmastami, Janmastami that will make all the difference!

National Geographic Channel highlights ISKCON Kitchen

I went to the Bhaktivedanta Manor this afternoon. It was a hot summer’s day for England, but a team of dedicated volunteers were underneath a marquee surrounded by chopping tables and hot gas stoves, preparing food for the 30,000 pilgrims that will be arriving on Thursday for Lord Krishna’s birthday. Just last month our teams prepared hot meals for 17,000 in Trafalgar Square. In Glastonbury the Hare Krishna tent fed 15,000 hungry mouths over the festival, and the same team prepare 900 meals daily for the homeless and hungry students.

Besides singing and dancing in public places, or distributing books, giving out blessed food or prasadam is the activity for which ISKCON is known. Today, 50 years after it started, that essential activity of cooking in large quantities has been raised to a fine art. It takes some feat of organisation to prepare food for thousands of people but it seems to be one thing that ISKCON does well.

Here’s how the National Geographic Channel picked up on one such ‘mega-kitchen’ this week:

Village Association Liaison Selected

New Vrindaban - Sudha Krsna Prabhu

Dear devotees,­­­­

The Steering Committee is happy to announce it has selected Sudha Krsna prabhu as the liaison for the Village Association. The committee took this decision after publicly advertizing the position for 10 days, and after duly considering all submitted applications.

We hope this will be a first of many effective ways for your future elected representatives, the Village Council members, to hear your ideas and concerns, as well as for you to be regularly updated with relevant information.

Strengthening our community means to increase our communication and to discover ways to help each other.

What follows is a brief Bio of Sudha Krsna prabhu:

My name is Sudha Krishna das. Many devotees know me as “SD” or Sanatan Dharma das. I joined ISKCON in the summer of 1981 in Toronto, Canada and moved to New Vrndaban in the mid 1980’s where I served until the late 1990’s. In 1999, I received diksha from Srila Govinda Maharaja who has inspired my faith in Srila Prabhupada from the day I met him.

After leaving New Vrndaban with my former wife, Lila Avatar d.d., I attempted to be successful in business and relationships for close to 20 years. But after repeated failed attempts and having learned many valuable lessons, I contacted Jaya Murari Prabhu who reminded me of the importance of sadhu sanga, living in the holy tirtha, and taking only Krishna Prasdam.

I therefore recently came back in New Vrndaban with every intention of staying. I feel immensely grateful to be back and my foremost desire is to be of service to all devotees, past, present and future.

While away from New Vrndaban, I have acquired a decent amount of experience in the fields of human services, as a drug and alcohol counselor, in non-profit management, as a caregiver for the elderly suffering from dementia, and as a professional salesman.

Now back to New Vrindaban for less than two weeks, I have already been blessed with various opportunities for service. One that I am highly looking forward to is as a Village Association Liaison. I find it exciting and inspiring to be building bridges amongst community members and being instrumental at communicating with, and informing devotees without personal agenda.

I currently have been provided an office space in the Wellness Center where from I can speak with devotees confidentially.

I feel I can be a productive member of the community as well as a responsible and confidential Village Association Liaison. I look forward to connecting with all of you in the near future.

Thank you for giving me the opportunity,

Your servant,

Sudha Krsna das

Sudhakrsnadas@gmail.com

Sunday, August 14th, 2016

Sunday, August 14th, 2016
Toronto, Ontario
Those Who Came Forward
I’m back in my home-base, but still keeping up my daily walking,while fingering through my beads numbering 108, and moving my upper and lower lips–as well as my tongue–to utter the name of Krishna.  Whenever I travel, these mechanical, mental and spiritual outputs are there.
I re-connected with Yonge St., the strip from Bloor to Dundas, known for its characters.
Near Dundas, a Caucasian young person, with hair pulled back to form a bun, came up to me and began talking in a rather incoherent way.
“Are you on drugs?”  I asked him.  Indeed he was, as he expressed so in a non-confessional way.  For him, that’s his life.  I mentioned to him to do himself a favour and pull out of it.  “Then life can begin.”
Our conversation got cut short when another fellow, this time an Indian–who was obviously also ‘on something–addressed me with, “Hare Krishna!”  He said it several times and continued with words that made no sense.  Still, he was zealous and maintained a smile for the reason, I guess, that he’s talking to a sadhu, of sorts.  I indicated that I had to proceed, although I perceived he was liking the attention.
A young Black chap then came to stand in front of me, and in a facetious way, bowed at the waist respectfully, demonstrating some kind of reverence.  I took the gesture to not be coming from the heart, so I didn’t take him too seriously.
As I said, “Characters!”  But I wouldn’t put them down entirely.  They were the ones who came forward, out of all the pedestrians on Yonge St.
May the Source be with you!
5 km

Saturday, August 13th, 2016

Saturday, August 13th, 2016
Pelee Island, Ontario
Ways of Nature

It is astounding to see the ways of nature.

Yesterday, we witnessed an entity in the form of a catfish exiting the water.  This morning, the reverse occurred.  It was not a catfish, but rather a large black water snake who slithered from the trees in front of us, moved over the sand, and slipped into the shallow shore waters of Lake Erie.  It then disappeared into the depths of the fresh water.
We were also terribly humbled by biting stable-flies.  Nature came on then with another of her forces.  After a dry spell, running a month in duration, a near-drought in Ontario, Ohio, and the surrounding vicinity, was dispelled.  Rains and rainbows made their visitations.  On our return journey to Toronto, I delighted in reading from “Memories,” recollections from devotees about our dear guru, Srila Prabhupada, as those welcoming rains came down with a passion.
Every journey, especially an auto-driven one, needs its breaks.  I suggested to our crew, “Let’s check out one of my favorite locations on the planet—Uncle Tom’s Cabin.”  With me were Nimai-Nitai, originally from India, Elona from Latvia, and Katrina from Russia.  They were not aware of the historical significance of this place.
As a person on foot–or one who most often likes to be–I have the opportunity to learn of past tragedies and victories.  Historicalplaques and places are everywhere.  Check out the Underground Railway, Josiah Henson, and Uncle Tom’s Cabin.
May the Source be with you!

5 km