How We Tick – On The Inside

The mind is a sort of mirror by which consciousness reflects its light into the dim world of external objects. This mirror is the first function of the mind, which is called citta (“heart”).

The mind has three other functions too. 

The next function is to create an image of oneself (“ego” / ahamkara). Consciousness reflecting on a mirror, sees an image of itself. The image is not exactly the self, but resembles it, depending on the quality of the mirror. This image inspires a general sense of ambition: “I see myself on this mirror, I exist! So let’s do something!”

The next function of the mind (manas) is called “emotions and desires” or just takes the name “mind” since it is the main function of the whole internal aparatus (antah-karana). The mind develops very specific ambitions, called desires. For example, If the self revealed on the mirror of the ego appears to be a monkey, the mind will then develop desires that go along with that monkey ego. “I want bananas.”

The final function is to recognize objects and other patterns of data. This is called “Intelligence” (buddhi). All the perceptual senses feed their data into the intellect, which sorts it out and makes sense of it. So, for example, when some yellow light comes into the eyes, the intellect sorts it out – recognizing it as belonging to either a lemon or a banana.

The intellect feeds these recognized patterns to the mind. “Hey look we have a lemon here.” The mind then reacts with an emotion. “Boo! I don’t want lemons I want bananas.” Or if the intellect reports a banana the mind reacts with a happy emotion “Yay, bananas!”

The mind then presents its desire to the intellect “I want them.”

The intellect will assess how and if it is possible to get them. This produces more emotions in the mind. If the intellect informs the mind, “they are far up in a tree, guarded by pythons.” Then the mind experiences sadness. If the intellect figures out a way to distract the pythons and climb the tree, the mind experiences elation. 

So all the emotions, desires, ambitions, and self concepts are not in the field-knower (us, consciousness itself), they are in the field – and we vicariously identity with our field by looking at it intently, projecting our consciousness into it via the first function of the mind (citta), the mirror.

Tagged: emotions, mind, Psychology

Creating a human sanctuary in Vrindavan: Gurukul University and Radha Bawri

Radha Bawri (See Gallery) must be considered a treasure of Vrindavan and given all protection and all facility to preserve its environment in as authentic a fashion as possible. When the Mahanta talks about the necessity for a natural environment for the perfection of the rasika path of bhajan, he is communicating Vrindavan’s essential message, and that is a message that is being increasingly lost in the urbanization and “monetization” of Vrindavan.

For Vrindavan to remain authentic, authentic places of the Vrindavan culture must be protected and nourished.

As I see it, Radha Bawri is able to exist in large part because it is surrounded on two sides by the Gurukul land, on the southern side by an empty field belonging to the ashram and used for the cowshed. On the western side is the encroaching Rajpur village.

Gurukul31Rajpur is not particularly noted as a place for temples or ashrams, and the people living there are still mostly villagers culturally, even though occupationally the percentage of farmers is probably much less than it was a generation ago. I did not ask, but I got the impression that it is largely upper caste. In other words, it can still be designated like that!

I also noticed that there are a few new ashrams of the current, low-end, urban style going up. There are still other empty areas on the other side of Rajpur on the way to the Parikrama Marg. In general, the southern part of Vrindavan within the Parikrama Marg or perimeter, from Mathura Road to the Yamuna, is less developed than the north. This is changing rapidly.

The Gurukula area itself is quite large and it is entirely astonishing that it is still empty, with only a few buildings from the Arya Samaj heyday in the late 19th early 20th century style. Here and there are a few ruins of what were once nice small buildings. The “university” itself is an interesting looking place and I will have to investigate. It is quite a treasure in itself.

Gurukul1The land is being entirely neglected. It is covered with scrub acacia and a few large trees near the pathway going through the property, but it is becoming increasingly used as a dumping ground. In this day and age, unless there is active protection, deterioration sets in very fast. The situation is dire everywhere. The ashram itself is not entirely able to deal with its refuse and that is taking on unsightly proportions, with the expected effects.

So I am calling on all Brajvasis and the government officials and other wellwishers of the community to develop this area as a park of a Tatia Sthan type nature, a place where peacocks can thrive and even monkeys find a natural home. It is difficult to grow things where the water is poor, but trees can be made to grow in Vrindavan. Let’s spread the Tatia Sthan mood instead of killing it. I think this, perhaps more than anything else, is what Sewak Sharanji meant when he talked about a “human sanctuary” in Vrindavan.

Jai Sri Radhe!


There is no reason why a human sanctuary should not also be a peacock sanctuary.

The photos of the Gurukul area and this one taken at Radha Bawri are from July 2011. The rest of those photos can be seen in my Facebook album.

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2016 – 30 years of blissful service!

In the years since the first installation, the temple at Govindadvipa has undergone many changes. These have been both structural and in terms of personnel. One thing that hasn’t changed is that Their Lordships remain the centre focus for the community. The service continues and without a doubt, the devotion shows! In that time we have had a minium of 118 pujaris (priests/priestesses) that performed direct service and ably assisted by many, many others who performed supporting roles. Whole families have grown up in the service of Sri Sri Radha Govinda.

Devotion is fixed in the heart of an advance devotee, but Krishna is so kind that He appears along with His eternal consort, Srimati Radharani the manifestation of pure bhakt and pleasure potency, just so we can focus our devotion. This is an astonishing benediction. Any mother can attest to the focus and concentration given to looking after a child or a lover focusing on the beloved, it is in the manifestation of wanting to please that we can serve nicely. Similarly when we have a beautiful form of Krishna to serve, we can dovetail all our propensities into a loving sacrifice for God’s pleasure. Of course there is not difference between any aspect of God – His name, form, pastimes, features or creations but one must be very advanced to fully appreciate this in more than theoretical terms. Therefore the performance of all service and activities for the pleasure of Krishna and offering the results out of love, are made so much more accessible when we have beautiful Deity forms to focus on.

We pray that we can continue to do so and ask everyone to help us do so and directly become involved in offering service. There are many ways to do this.

You can offer practical service in doing work, volunteering devotional service, on the island at Govindadvipa and in other practical ways. We always need people to help with maintaining the island, helping with repairs, decorating the temple for festivals etc. Whatever skills you have, these can be offered with devotion to Krishna.

You can offer support in the form of regular patronage of an affordable amount that suits your means. Patron forms are available to download or from the temple for both Euro and Sterling contributions by direct debit.

You can sponsor flowers, a feast or some of amenity facilities that are required as a once off or non-regular contribution – see our facebook page for up-to-date lists on Facebook: Sri Sri Radha Govinda 30th Anniversary 2016. A full list of birthday gifts for the anniversary and sponsorship opportunities are uploaded.

Join our “Fiver a Week” campaign or our version of Fiver Friday! If we have just 25 to 30 individuals who can join this campaign we can meet the shopping needs for Their Lordships India fund each year. This is when we purchase specialist items annually and this is our minimum requirements – as a new campaign we have just 3 slots filled at this time – let’s do what we can to change that. For some people this is not a steady sum due to their means so club together with someone else! On the other hand, it is a small sum that most people would possibly not even notice being spent on something useless or frivolous. So this is an easy way to sustain the seva into the future.

Off a bench, gazebo or mural art in honor of a guru, family member etc. that will reflect the pastimes of The Lord on the island and around the parikrama trail. These can be placed with or without a memorial plaque.

If you have specific skills in building, design, electrician, plumbing, boat maintenance or renovation, landscaping etc. then we would have engagement in these areas to the extent that you can offer service.

Planting a tree that will sustain the island shelter belt and facilities into the future. This requires the tree to be protected from wild deer etc. therefore if planting, this needs to be costed in as a protective guard.

Sponsor a cow to ensure that Krishna’s cows are always cared for.

Help repair the temple and keep it in optimum shape as the House of God/ Govinda’s abode and follow our renovation funding appeal on Go Fund Me. This is a preliminary start to the process but we have a long list of work to be completed including development into the future. So help with the immediate requirements in phrase one on

Temple fund campaign:


Shopkeepers fined for using polythene

Mathura 2016.05.27 (VT): The city administration launched a campaign on Thursday to limit the use of polythene by shop keepers. Those who found guilty were imposed fines of 5,000 to 11,000 rupees. The campaign was launched in the Holi Gate area. Many shopkeepers closed and absconded when they became aware of the campaign.

Two years ago, the Allahabad High Court officially banned the use of plastic bags by shopkeepers in Mathura. The State Government also backed the court’s decision last year and instructed the city administration to enforce the law strictly. Even after that, however, shopkeepers continued to openly use polythene bags.

Ravindra Kumar (ADM Revenue), Ram Araj Yadav (City Magistrate) along with the team from Mathura Municipal Corporation and Police raided the shops near Holi Gate area in Mathura. Fines were imposed on six shops in the General Ganj and Agra Road areas.

Krishna Dairy, Jain Dairy and Giriraj Dairy were made to pay fines of 11,000 rupees each; and the Rangeshwar Sweet Centre juice shops paid a fine of 5,000 rupees each. Even a pushcart fruit seller was made to pay a fine of 500 rupees for using poly bags. Many pushcart vendors and shopkeepers escaped after knowing about the raid.

The city administration collected a total amount of 43,500 rupees from the fines.

The ADM also showed his concern about illegal encroachment on footpaths near Gurudwara. The local vendors started escaping and vacating the footpath as soon as they saw the raids. The rest of the vendors were fined and instructed not to repeat the act again.


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‘Miracle on Second Avenue’ by Mukunda Goswami

book‘Miracle on Second Avenue’ is a short, carefully researched documentary book written in a you-are-there style, that catalogs the start and growth of the Hare Krishna movement. ‘Miracle on Second Avenue’ won the 2012 National Indie Excellence Award for Biography. The work is a memoir of Mukunda Goswami, one of the pioneers of the religious group that is now known throughout the world formally as the International Society for Krishna Consciousness (ISKCON). The book is a series of historical events that include the movement’s founder, A.C. Bhaktivedanta Swami, and his interactions on two continents with the author over the three-year period from August 1966 until December 1969.

Here is a video clip introducing the book. Watch on YouTube.

Mathura Judge to make decision on Prabandhak Committee members

Vrindavan 2016.05.24 (VT): A Mathura judge will now decide the who will sit on the Prabandhak Committee at Thakur Bankey Bihari temple Ji. The four elected members have not been able to come to an agreement about the three persons who will complete the seven-member committee within the one month allotted after elections.

The election was held last month, in which four members were elected to administer the Raj Bhog and Shayan Bhog sewa of Thakur Ji. As per the rule, these four members have to select three other members from outside to form a seven members committee and then get it approved from Mathura judge. But the elected members were not able to agree on names for three other members.

Rajat Goswami, who was elected for the Raj Bhog sewa, said that they have submitted an application to finalise the names of the remaining three members. Gaurav Goswami, wo was elected for the Shayan Bhoga sewa said that a few of the elected representatives want to reelect the previous members of the committee, which he protested. Due to this, a decision is still pending and it appears that the Court in Mathura will have to make it.

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The Finale

fin_del_caminoThe following quote is from The Beggar IV, meditation 15 by B.T Swami. His Holiness was a very dear friend whom I looked up to and tried to emulate in every aspect of my life. Here he is reflecting deeply and wisely on an event that sooner or later we will all be participating in.


“Death removes everything that is false; death reveals to us our true friends; death exposes our true priorities; death brings forth wisdom; death educates us on our fears and weaknesses; but most importantly, death  reminds us that these material bodies and material universes are not our homes. Since death is calling you, don’t fear or hide, but present yourself and see what she has to offer. After all, she is a just, faithful, and loyal servant of Krishna.”

The demon within

(Kadamba Kanana Swami, 04 February 2016, Bhaktivedanta Manor, United Kingdom, Srimad Bhagavatam 10.2.21)

YamadutasIt is true that there is that inner animal within us. The animal that we hide. The animal that lives behind the saintly expressions on our faces. There is this animal and we have chained him up in regulative principles by Srila Prabhupada’s mercy but he wants to break loose. That inner animal which lives within and he OR SHE wants to break loose and waits for opportunities!

I like this theme. I found it somewhere in a magazine, a lady writer picked up on it. She had this bag of special chips and she was like really lusting over the chips in her mind for a long time, and was waiting for an opportunity to sort of like get into it and stuff them in her mouth. So when no one was around, she attacked it, ripped it open and just like packed it in… and then someone came!

Now we can easily translate that into a mangal aarti sweet. You know, you get caught just as you secretly stuff it in your face. For a moment, you give some room to lusty desires by taking shelter of prasadam. It is good to take shelter of prasadam but you feel embarrassed when you get caught with a mouthful and you try to inconspicuously swallow it, as if everybody does not know what you doing since everybody you know does it too!

The point I am making is that it shows that we are indeed a combination of the modes of material nature and that indeed all these pushings of the senses are within us and we are controlling them with good behaviour. We say the right words, “Jaya… nectar… bliss.” Whatever words are there in the jargon, we say them and we dress in a particular sort of way… We are experts in projecting an image but internally it is still raging – there is still a volcano. There are still so many influences pulling us in so many directions. And therefore there is still a little bit of Kamsa in us… still a little bit of Putana and still a little bit of all these demoniac personalities.

Advancement in Krishna Consciousness Means Development of Faith, May 24, Houston

GirirajSwamiTalkGiriraj Swami read and spoke from Bhagavad-gita 8.28.

” ‘One who has a little faith in Bhagavad-gita should learn Bhagavad-gita from a devotee, because in the beginning of the Fourth Chapter it is stated clearly that Bhagavad-gita can be understood only by devotees; no one else can perfectly understand the purpose of Bhagavad-gita. One should therefore learn Bhagavad-gita from a devotee of Krsna, not from mental speculators. This is a sign of faith.’ (Bg 8.28 purport)

Adau sraddha—The first stage in devotional service is sraddha, or faith. Without sraddha one cannot make any progress in devotional service. Or, one cannot even begin in devotional service. Here Srila Prabhupada emphasizes that faith means faith in the devotional scriptures and in the devotees who explain them and apply them in their lives. And that faith is described in the verse we just read—just by engaging in devotional service one need not engage in other activities separately but one gets the result of  all the other processes just by engaging in devotional service. That is faith, and that is the beginning of Krishna consciousness. Advancement in Krishna consciousness really means development of faith.”

Bhagavad-gita 8.28, Houston

Unless we are interested in such questions, there is no need of wasting time to accept any Guru or Spiritual Master

By His Divine Grace A. C. Bhaktivedānta Swami Prabhupāda

Who requires a guru? It is not a fashion that one has to accept anyone as guru. No. A person requires a guru when he is inquisitive, (tasmād gurum prapadyeta jijnāsuh), when he is very much eager to understand the spiritual shreya uttamam.

Uttamam. “Ut” means transcendental, and “tama” means darkness. This world is called darkness, or ignorance. So one who wants to transcend this position of ignorance and wants to know the transcendental subject, i.e. spiritual subject, brahma-jijnāsā, he requires a guru, not any other person […] So here is the inquiry, which Sanatana Gosvami makes (before Chaitanya Mahaprabhu), “You have delivered me from the clutches of material attachment. I was a minister, getting good salary, very nice post. So many aristocrats were offering me respect. So I think it was not necessary. My real necessity is to advance in spiritual consciousness. You have so kindly given me relief from this material concept of life. Now, according to Your desire, I have left everything. Therefore, let me know what my duty is?”

An inquisitive disciple accepts Srila Prabhupada as guru, or spiritual master

An inquisitive disciple accepts Srila Prabhupada as guru, or spiritual master

This is required. If anyone becomes disciple of a bona fide guru, then his duty is to ask from the guru what he can do to help the guru. That is required. So Sanatana Gosvami is giving us the example. Āpana-krpāte kaha ‘kartavya’ āmāra. Kartavya means duty. “Now what is my duty? I have left my so-called duty, ministership. Now I am interested in my real duty, so kindly speak to me what is my duty.”

Another question which Sanatana Goswami asked was, ke āmi: “Actually what I am?” ke āmi kene āmāya jāre tāpa-traya: “I do not want sufferings, but sufferings are forced upon me, three kinds of suffering: ādhyātmika, ādhibhautika and ādhidaivika.” This is knowledge.

Ādhyātmika means sufferings pertaining to the body and mind, ādhibhautika means sufferings offered by other living entities and ādhidaivika, sufferings offered by natural disturbances. There are three kinds of sufferings … there are so many sufferings which we do not want. Still, they are forced upon us. Therefore he said, kene āmāya jāre tāpa-traya: “These three kinds of miseries are always giving me trouble, and at the same time, I do not know what I am.”

Everyone is thinking, “I am this, I am that,” but he is suffering. These are very plain questions. So these questions should be put before the spiritual master, and he should get proper answer and act accordingly. Then spiritual life will be successful.

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

[An excerpt from a lecture delivered on the Chaitanya Charitamrita, Madhya Lila 20.100-104, in Bombay on November 3, 1975]

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Can’t We Enjoy in this Life and Serve Krishna in Our Next Life?



… But still, as a Rascal, I claim that “I AM GOD”

By His Divine Grace A. C. Bhaktivedānta Swami Prabhupāda

So, what is God? He is the supreme eternal being amongst many other eternal beings (nityo nityānām cetanaś cetanānām). We, living entities, are all eternal beings. Our position is eternity. As it is described in the Bhagavad-gita (2.20), na jāyate na mriyate vā kadācit: “These living entities, they do not take birth or die at any time”… And what is God? He is also eternal. So nityo nityanānām.

Krishna, the Supreme Maintainer of all living entities

Krishna, the Supreme Maintainer of all living entities

We are eternal, we are many, and God is also eternal, but He is one. He is singular number. Not that all of us are Gods. That is nonsense. We are part and parcel of God, but we are not as powerful as God. Anyone can understand it very easily. They are claiming to have become God. So does he think that he is equal in power with God? No. That is foolishness. God is one, but we are many…

As in practical experience also, we have this understanding that we require a leader. In the present moment there are so many parties, so many nations, so many societies, but there is a leader. That you cannot deny. Just like in our Krishna consciousness society, I happen to be the leader. Similarly, there are other parties, political parties, and business parties. Everywhere there is a leader. You cannot avoid the leader. That is not possible.

I had put this question to Professor Kotovsky that “What is the difference between your philosophy and our philosophy? You are Leninist; you are following the leader Lenin, and we are following the leader Krishna. So where is the difference in philosophy?” You have to follow one leader. That you cannot avoid. Without leader you cannot be guided, you cannot form a party. Everywhere you go… Just like in our country we followed the leadership of Mahatma Gandhi, so we became a nation. So everywhere you will find: there must be a leader. Without leader you cannot become a community or a nation. Similarly, who is the supreme leader? That is God, or Krishna. Therefore He is described in the Vedas, nityo nityānām cetanaś cetanānām. He is the leader.

So what is the difference between the plural number nityas and singular number?  Eko yo bahūnām vidadhāti kāmān. That is the difference – that we are living entity and Krishna, or God, is also living entity, but Krishna maintains all other living entities; we cannot maintain even ourselves. We find difficulty, especially nowadays, to maintain even a family. That is the difference.

And still, as a rascal, I claim that “I am God. I am God.” Nobody can claim unnecessarily that one is God. First of all prove that you can maintain all the living entities. You cannot maintain yourself even. You beg from door to door. So how can you become God? Very simple question. Because in the Vedas (it is) said that eko yo bahūnām vidadhāti kāmān: “That one, singular number leader, He maintains all other living entities.” That we have got practical experience. He is maintaining so many crabs within the sand. He is maintaining so many ants in the hole of your room. He is maintaining millions of elephants in the African jungle.

[An excerpt from a lecture delivered on the Chaitanya Charitamrita, Madhya Lila 20.100-104, in Bombay on November 3, 1975]

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“I Can Challenge The Scientists Because I Know  Krishna” Reveals Prabhupada


Mayavadis say that God has no legs, no eyes, no ears and no hands

The Biology of Right and Wrong

By Peter Saalfield, originally published at Harvard Magazine.

Philosophers have long debated the foundations of moral decision-making. “Rationalists” from Socrates to Immanuel Kant argued that people should rely on intellect when distinguishing right from wrong. “Sentimentalists” like David Hume believed the opposite: emotions such as empathy should guide moral decisions.

Now Hazel associate professor of the social sciences Joshua Greene, a philosopher, experimental psychologist, and neuroscientist, is trying to resolve this dispute by combining brain-scanning technology with classic experiments from moral psychology to provide a new look at how rationality and emotion influence moral choices. His work has led him to conclude that “emotion and reason both play critical roles in moral judgment and that their respective influences have been widely misunderstood.”

Greene’s “dual-process theory” of moral decision-making posits that rationality and emotion are recruited according to the circumstances, with each offering its own advantages and disadvantages. He likens the moral brain to a camera that comes with manufactured presets, such as “portrait” or “landscape,” along with a manual mode that requires photographers to make adjustments on their own. Emotional responses, which are influenced by humans’ biological makeup and social experiences, are like the presets: fast and efficient, but also mindless and inflexible. Rationality is like manual mode: adaptable to all kinds of unique scenarios, but time-consuming and cumbersome.

“The nice thing about the overall design of the camera is that it gives you the best of both worlds: efficiency in point-and-shoot mechanisms and flexibility in manual mode,” Greene explains. “The trick is to know when to point and shoot and when to use manual mode. I think that this basic design is really the design of the human brain.”

Unlike earlier philosophers, he can test his theories with neuroscientific instruments. His primary tool is functional magnetic resonance imaging (fMRI), which takes advantage of the fact that many mental functions are localized to specific areas of the brain. Deliberative reasoning, for instance, is housed in the prefrontal cortex, whereas the amygdala is considered the seat of the emotions. By monitoring blood flow to these areas, fMRI allows Greene and his colleagues to observe exactly when someone is relying on “manual mode” or “automatic settings.”

For one experiment (published in Neuron in 2004), Greene asked his subjects how they would respond to a moral dilemma known as “the trolley problem,” which involves pushing an innocent stranger in front of a speeding trolley in order to save five other strangers from being killed. Despite the utilitarian value of killing a single stranger, most respondents said that doing so would be morally wrong: the thought of pushing an innocent person to his death was too much. Yet a handful of subjects said they would end the stranger’s life in order to rescue the others, and Greene found that this group exhibited increased activity in the dorsolateral prefrontal cortex, a brain region he calls “the heart of manual [i.e., rational] mode.”

More recently, though, Greene’s research has led to a slight alteration in his camera analogy. In a series of experiments published in Neuron in 2010, he used fMRI to further explore the interface between rationality and emotion. Again he scanned the brains of subjects responding to the trolley problem, but this time he repeatedly altered the number of lives at stake and the likelihood that the victims could be saved. With 40 lives on the line and a 95 percent chance of their deaths without intervention, for example, nearly every test subject was willing to sacrifice one life to save the rest. But with 15 people at risk and a 50-50 chance for their survival, Greene reports, “[R]espondents were split down the middle as to whether they would intervene.”

As his subjects considered these variations, they all showed increased activity in brain areas that assign emotional value to items like food and money (the ventral striatum and the insula) and also in a region thought to integrate different approaches to decision-making (the ventromedial prefrontal cortex). These systems are evolutionarily older than the rational brain. Moral decision-making, Greene believes, “involves a whole lot of systems in the brain that are not specifically devoted” to that task alone; his results illustrate that even when humans are considering hypothetical moral scenarios or calculating abstract probabilities, they rely to some extent on emotions for guidance.

Thus rationality, unlike “manual mode” on a camera, cannot function independently of emotion, even in people who tend to be more rational—or utilitarian—decision-makers. “Reason by itself doesn’t have any ends, or goals,” Greene says. “It can tell you what will happen if you do this or that, and whether or not A and B are consistent with each other. But it can’t make the decision for you.”

Yet even though emotions will probably always affect people’s decisions, Greene thinks their input can—and should—be minimized in certain scenarios. By learning more about the neurological mechanisms of moral decision-making, he hopes that people may one day improve the judgments they make. “I think that we are too willing to rely on our automatic settings,” he says. “Our [emotions] are there for a reason and they do a lot of good, but they also get us into trouble in situations that they weren’t designed for.”

Keep it simple

(Kadamba Kanana Swami, 20 March 2016, Durban, South Africa, Lecture at Sunday Program)

bolo 036

Bhagavad-gita makes it very clear – we should not waste our time in trying to control the material energy and make it more and more favourable for our stay in the material world. Rather, we should understand that our stay in the material world is temporary and therefore, whatever use we make of the material energy, let it be minimized and let us keep it simple so that we have ample opportunity to focus on the real roots of our existence, focus on Krsna – the Supreme Personality of Godhead.

So one must cut this tree of samsara (of material existence), this asvattham, this banyan tree that offers us no tomorrow, with the weapon of detachment. Detachment is necessary in this world. Of course, detachment is not easily developed. The Vedic model is given of phalgu vairagya. If you go to the state of Bihar, you can visit Gaya, and there is the Phalguna River. I visited there. It is just a dry river bed but that is not all there is to it because if you dig a little, about thirty centimetres below, you will find water. It is an underground river. So phalgu vairagya is depicting the underground desires which remain when we are trying to be detached, when we are trying to turn away from the material world but still, we must persevere to become free of them.

We Should Know Our Real Self-Interest, May 22, Houston


Prahlada Maharaja instructs his classmates.

Giriraj Swami read and spoke on Srimad-Bhagavatam 7.6.1, as part of the ISKCON-Houston Sunday School graduation program.

” ‘Prahlada Maharaja said: One who is sufficiently intelligent should use the human form of body from the very beginning of life—in other words, from the tender age of childhood—to practice the activities of devotional service, giving up all other engagements. The human body is most rarely achieved, and although temporary like other bodies, it is meaningful because in human life one can perform devotional service. Even a slight amount of sincere devotional service can give one complete perfection.’ (Srimad-Bhagavatam 7.6.1)

“In this verse and purport Prahlada Maharaja and Srila Prabhupada give a complete program for human life and a complete program for human society. Unfortunately, at the present moment, most people are under the influence of the modes of passion and ignorance with hardly a touch of the mode of goodness. In other words, people are living almost like animals. Dharmena hina pasubhih samanah—without dharma, without spiritual life, humans are on the level of animals (Hitopadesa). This has created a very serious situation, and consequently people are suffering terribly. They themselves are suffering, and they cause others to suffer.”

Srimad-Bhagavatam 7.6.1, Houston

Vraja Vilasa: Krishna’s grandmother, Variyasi Devi

I offer my obeisances unto Variyasi Devi, Sri Krishna’s paternal grandmother, whose feet do not touch the ground out of pride over the happiness caused by her beloved moon-like grandson, whom she always delights with joking words.


priyasya naptuḥ sukhato’ti garvāt
pādau na yasyāḥ patataḥ pṛthivyām
namāmi narmārcita-naptṛ-candrāṁ
varīyasīṁ kṛṣṇa pitāmahīṁ tām

Stavāmṛta Kaṇā Vyākhyā: The līlā-śakti paints delightful pictures of the Vraja-companions’ sweet love in the consciousness of Raghunath Das Goswami, who relishes these sweet feelings himself and leaves his adharāmṛta (lip-nectar, or remnants) to the practising devotees of the world. When the practising devotees hear and chant this topic, their personal feelings towards their beloved deity will awaken and the corresponding prema will be infused into their hearts.

ei amṛta anukṣaṇa, sādhu mahanta megha-gaṇa,
viśvodyāne kore variṣaṇa
tā’te phale prema-phala, bhakta khāya nirantara,
tāra śeṣe jīye jagajana

The great devotee-saints are like clouds that always shower this nectar over the garden of the world, and prema sprouts as a result. The devotees always eat this, and the people of the world subsist on their remnants. (Caitanya Caritāmṛta)

In this verse Raghunath Das Goswami introduces us to the great love of the gopi Variyasi for her grandson Sri Krishna.

pitāmahī mahī-mānyā kusumbhābhā harit-paṭā;
varīyasīti vikhyātā kharvā kṣīrābha-kuntalā

Sri Krishna’s paternal grandmother is named Variyasi, and she is greatly respected in the Vraja-maṇḍala. Her complexion resembles the Kusumbha-flower, her dress is green, she is small and her hair is white like milk.

Out of pride over the happiness caused by her beloved grandson her feet do not touch the ground, so it is said by the people. This pride is not a transformation of the mundane modes of passion and ignorance, this is a transformation of pure sattva (spirit). This pride arises from love of God.

prītiḥ khalu bhakta cittam ullāsayati mamatayā yojayati viśrambhayati, priyatvātiśayenābhimānayati, drāvayati, sva viṣayaṁ pratyabhilāṣātiśayena yojayati prati-kṣaṇam eva sva viṣayaṁ nava navatvenānubhāvayati asamordhva camatkāreṇonmādayati ca.

Love delights the hearts of the devotees, links through feelings of mine-ness, bestows confidence and, through great feelings of affection, special pride, it causes one to melt (or soften), it creates a great craving for the Lord and a resultant attachment to him, it causes the lover to experience the Lord as fresh at every moment and intoxicates the lover with unprecedented feelings of astonishment. (Prīti Sandarbha, 84)

In the bhakti shastras (devotional scriptures) these feelings are progressively described as rati, prema, praṇaya, māna, sneha, rāga, anurāga and mahābhāva. Taking this abhimāna or pride to heart, Sri Radharāṇī is saying: “O friend! I am proud of Your pride!”

Prema cannot leave this pride for even a moment. premera sadāi abhimāna, prema cāya ṣola ānā prāṇa. “Prema always has pride, prema wants 100% of the heart!” What can a premika be more proud of? That the Lord is his all-in-all! The experienced know how high the price of this loving pride is! Knowing this to be the soul of prema they want to embrace it from all sides.

How glorious the prema of Sri Krishna’s grandmother Variyasi is can be known from this verse. She always makes fun and jokes with Sri Krishna and Sri Krishna is also floating in an ocean of topmost bliss when he hears her jokes.

Seeing that Sri Krishna is happy with her jokes and humor grandma calls him again and again: “O rey Nāti-cāṅd (moon-like grandson)! Come here!”

The acharyas say: “Those who have realized that Krishna is the Supreme Truth cannot understand him in full. Sri Govinda, who is the embodiment of sweetness, can only be fully realized through a sweet loving attitude. One should not think, though, that the knowledge of the Lord’s prowess is thereby somewhat lost. Knowledge of the Lord’s sweetness, which is like the Triveṇī (the confluence of the Gaṅgā, Yamuna and Sarasvatī) is always inseparably mixed with awareness of the Lord’s prowess. When separation is experienced this is exposed and that knowledge saves the life of the separated devotee.”

Das Goswami bows down at the feet of Krishna’s paternal grandmother Variyasi, who is most conscious of his sweetness –

kṛṣṇa mora nāti’ boli garve buka bharā;
kṛṣṇa sukha sampad heri sukhe ātma-hārā
pautra garve pā phele nā kabhu dharaṇīte;
hāsya parihāse magna govinda sahite
kṛṣṇa pitāmahī boli yāra kautuka kathā;
ullāsete śune sabe prasaṅga hoy yathā
sei varīyasī kṛṣṇa pitāmahī yini;
kṛpā-lobhe sadā pade praṇata ye āmi

Eager for her mercy I bow down to Krishna’s paternal grandmother Variyasi, whose heart is filled with pride as she says: “Krishna is my grandson!”, whose feet don’t touch the ground out of pride of her grandson, who is always immersed in joking and laughing with Govinda and who gladly speaks of herself as Krishna’s paternal grandmother, something which is glady heard and discussed by all the others.

Commentary of Sri Radhakuṇḍa Mahānta Paṇḍita Sri Ananta Dāsa Bābājī Mahārāja is named Stavāmṛta Kaṇā Vyākhyā (a drop of the nectar of Stavāvalī), and was published in Gaurābda 503 (1989 A.D.) from Sri Krishna Chaitanya Shastra Mandir, Vrajananda Ghera, PO Radhakunda (district Mathura), U.P., India.

Devotional songs in Bengali that follow each commentary were composed by Dr. Haripada Śīla.

© Translated by Advaita dāsa in 1994

The post Vraja Vilasa: Krishna’s grandmother, Variyasi Devi appeared first on Vrindavan Today.

Sunday, May 22nd, 2016

Sunday, May 22nd, 2016
Toronto, Ontario
The Need for Blessings
Please notice: for those following me in the walk through America, I will continue.  I have taken some days off my route to attend a wedding, a pre-school anniversary, and the blessing of some land purchased for the purposes of bhakti (devotion).
Speaking of blessings, I had returned from a visit to a Physio Rehab with my dear god-brother Daniel Dean (Vallabha Chaitanya) who came in contact with a unique form of cancer. That went well.
I decided to walk back- a mere 8.3 kilometres- to my ashram (monastery).  While trekking back through the area of Parkdale, on King Street, I asked three young ladies on their stroll, “What is the time?”
“8:45 pm,” answered one of them.  Another asked, “Are you a monk?”
“Do you just walk around Parkdale and give blessings?”
“I try.  It could use some, don’t you think?”
There was some agreement to the notion.  Parkdale, although an area of some fairly well-maintained homes, has some reputation for drugs, prostitution, and mentally unstable people roaming in certain areas.  Blessings could help the place, but I’m not sure that I have the power to release such benevolence.  I can only try to function as a medium of mercy through the use of chanting the mahamantra as I walk the zone of Parkdale.  It is actually a place of great potential for beauty, morality, and sanity.
I see that the city is making the effort to culturally clean up by providing decent facility. Yet the real revitalization depends on a spiritual participation.
Yes.  That is the resort we, as humans, require – a spiritual shelter.
May the Source be with you!
14 km

Saturday, May 21st, 2016

Saturday, May 21st, 2016
Toronto, Ontario
Our Group
Back at home-base but I can’t get lax.  It should be business as usual.  “Walk a stretch!  Do so in the morning if you can.  You catch the best air.  Trees are sending it out for you to capture.  Oxygen, yes!  The early sun is energy-giving as well.  Connect with it!” – I tell myself.
I conscripted a small group of eager walkers and chanters.  Our intent was to connect with a piece of the creation, and the Creator too – through the chanting.  Our group of five fairly-well represented the spectrum of the human race.  Even Viv came to join us.  She’s from China.  We were, altogether, looking like poster kids.  This is a far cry from the early days of the Hare Krishna movement when most of the new recruits were, on average, in the age bracket of 18 to 25 and from white, middle-class backgrounds. 
Now there is quite the cross-section of people involved in functions that are spiritual.
Is walking spiritual?
It can be.  It simply depends on your state of mind.  When you move through the world, on foot, and you see yourself as a tiny spark of life, humbled by all you see, and in appreciation of all that wonder – then you’ve got it right.  Then you are a pilgrim, or a spiritual mover.
The area our group walked in, Rosedale, was a place easy to fall in love with – considering the great burst of spring dynamics.  Walk and get high! 
Congratulations to Parama and Rukmini for the absolutely beautiful wedding.
May the Source be with you!

7 km

Friday, May 20th, 2016

Friday, May 20th, 2016
Rocky River, Ohio
Detroit Rd by Erie
Detroit Rd appears to go on forever, beginning from the downtown of Cleveland.  It is a rather straight route and runs parallel to Lake Erie.  There are a few bends to the road which always make a break from monotony.
Gone are pedestrians and motorist have taken-over, in this foresty, residential haven.  Dear to all motorists are good roads.  Road improvement people populate the road and it is they who nod in greeting.  Their showing this acceptance of me compensates for the lack of people walking.
A pilgrim, however, must be satisfied with whatever comes head on.  If people are not on the sidewalk, then branches and roots of trees make themselves welcome.  I do feel their presence.  They are above me as branches.  They are below me as feet (roots).  And, like people, they throw off their smells.  ‘Fragrant’ is the word.
Second to them are the birds in flight.  A robin took a fierce beak-dart at a black-bird.  Yes, territory means everything to them.  Likely those baby-blue robins’ eggs drew the attention of the black-bird.  When do we not view or experience defense?
For myself, I have little to defend while I am moving through perfect weather.  I’m sandaled and sock-less.  No hat.  Not coat.  It’s a short one (walk) today, again.  It’s a six miles.
Our guru Srila Prabhupada, used to say “little drops wear away the stone.”
May the Source be with you!

6 miles

Thursday, May 19th, 2016

Thursday, May 19th, 2016
Lakewood, Ohio
Pedestrians – Yes!
The previous night’s program, held at Dayal’s, was devotional as usual because that’s where he is at.  I thank him for all the times that he’s accommodated me.
The walk today was short, sweet, and memorable.  The sun shone, the temperature perfect at about 65 degrees Fahrenheit – good for a walk.  What a break it was seeing human beings on the same street level.  I stuck to Detroit Avenue, going west.  Avadhut, a Cleveland resident was my support person, while Gopal and Arjuna have left for a weekend conference.
As traffic whoozed by I could now see people, pedestrians not bound by vehicles.  I could greet kids on their way to school, adults on their way to work.  One of those people was Bill, 63, who mixed with devotees of Krishna through the 70’s.  His surname is Angel.  In many ways he is one. 
He offered pranams.  For blocks we walked, talked philosophically, and otherwise – until we reached his workplace ‘John’s Diner.’  I stopped-in to use the restroom.  I mentioned to Bill about the lack of response from media in Cleveland regarding the walking project.  As we entered John’s work premises, a cozy, 50’s style, checker-tiled-walled place with round stools at the bar; there was Bob Soltys – a photographer and writer for media.
Bob was fascinated by the pilgrimage project I was doing.  He liked the concept of the easy life of moving, a ‘ramblin’ rose,’ a rolling stone.  Bob had an affinity for the spiritual as a balance to life.  He even said he’ll pull together an article for a media outlet.
My visit to Cleveland was not in vain.  Again, this night, we held a program, a satsang, this time at the home of Avadhuta.  His very great and animated spouse, Agnihotra, put a great feast together.  Kirtan was at an optimum.
May the Source be with you!
7 miles

Wednesday, May 18th, 2016

Wednesday, May 18th, 2016
Downtown Cleveland, Ohio
Got Excited
Abhimanyu Arjuna and I trekked from Beachwood to the downtown Public Square of Cleveland.  It would be our rest stop, but renovations are underway so we continued on for the ideal relaxing location.  At Superior Ave we were told by a city rep to not cross the road but to wait for three minutes while a movie stunt was being done for a ‘Fast and Furious’ sequel.
Okay!  Something about racing cars is what Arjuna was saying.  He says he likes the series.  I resigned to say anything about the boring nature of fast cars.  I don’t even care much for slow cars.
Never cared much for basketball either.  On my second installment of walking today Gopal accompanied me.  He was clicking away with the camera as we passed by the stadium.  The Cleveland Cavaliers and the Toronto Raptors were playing next.  Still, this doesn’t excite me as much as meeting people.
At mid-day Agnihotra treated us to her exceptional soya nuggets.  I’m a bit warmed up now.  And her husband, Avadhut, took us to the pilgrimage sites of Bhakti Tirtha Swami’s earlier childhood.  He died from cancer over ten years ago and was a dear friend to me.  Known as John Favors, he was recruited to attend Hawken private school for boys.  He was a remarkable student and he graduated at the high school the same year as classmate Jeff Briggar who took us for a tour of this thriving school.
We also drove to B.T. Swami’s former home, or at least where the home was at 82nd St off of Kinsman, now an empty lot.  The church he attended as a child is now boarded up.
Jeff did pull out a copy of the school’s year book which opened to two pictures of B.T. Swami when he was John Favors.  The write-up on him goes as follows.
“With his amazing strut, his flaming, iridescent, tapered, cuff-less, belt-less, sharkskin, electric, spray-paint, skin-tight, orange tubes (pants), his matching four-inch high-rolled-collar-turtleneck, offset by contrasting sport coat (belted in the rear), and alligator pinstripe shoes, John Favors came to Hawken.  Underneath that sartorial splendor was a real student.  Favors’ contribution to every class was always impressive.  He was one of the few seniors who studied during the day (or studied at all for that matter) and he could be found any time in his private carrel in the library.  He appeared very quiet, perhaps a bit frightened by Hawken when he first arrived last September.  His fear wore off in time yet despite his overt amicability, Favors remained somewhat estranged.  It’s possible that that is the way John wanted it.  Regardless, Hawken and John learned something from each other.”
Being in his places of the past and reading about my dear friend, I got excited.
May the Source be with you!

14 miles