Even a Dog-eater can become a Guru if he is a Devotee of Krishna

By His Divine Grace A. C. Bhaktivedānta Swami Prabhupāda

Jagadguru Srila Prabhupada, the spiritual master of the entire world

Jagadguru Srila Prabhupada, the spiritual master of the entire world

Śva-paco means candāla, one who eats dogs. He is considered the lowest. There are different kinds of meat-eaters. But in India, there were no cow-flesh-eaters. Some of them were eating hogs, even dogs. But no government will allow to eat the flesh of a cow. No, that is not allowed. If you want to eat flesh, you can eat hogs and dogs, and goats also. But you cannot touch a cow. This is the restriction. First of all, they should not be meat-eaters. But even if you are a staunch meat-eater, still you cannot touch the cow. You can eat some other animal.

So śva-pacah means the dog-eaters. In Korea, and some parts of the world, they eat dogs. Theysell dog flesh publicly. So in India also there is a class of meat-eaters. In Assam side, they eat dogs. So the dog-eaters are considered the lowest of mankind. Śva-pacah. Śva means dog and pacah means who cooks. Śva-pacah means candāla.

If a man from the śva-pacah or the candāla family becomes a Vaishnava (devotee of Krishna), strictly according to the orders, then he can become guru, but a brāhmana cannot become a guru if he’s not a Vaishnava. This is the stricture. Even if one is born in the family of a brāhmana, and he’s not only born, he’s even qualified – sat-karma-nipuno, nipuno means qualified – but still he cannot become a guru.

sat-karma-nipuno vipro


avaisnavo gurur na syād

vaisnavah śva-paco guruh

“A scholarly brahmana, expert in all subjects of Vedic knowledge, is unfit to become a spiritual master without being a Vaishnava, or expert in the science of Krishna consciousness. But a person born in a family of a lower caste can become a spiritual master if he is a Vaishnava, or Krishna conscious.”

Padma Purana

[An excerpt from a lecture delivered on the Bhagavad-gita 1.40 in London on July 28, 1973]

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Kirtans from the Attic

Here’s some old recordings of kirtans from thirty years ago. Although 1985 was a great year for cassette tapes, time had taken its toll on them and they were sounding pretty rough. Now they’ve been given new life by Jaggi of Radha Krishna Records.

Jaggi has done a great job in restoring them. Using a Bang & Olufsen tape machine, he cleaned the tape heads, played it back through a BBC analogue desk, and enhanced the recording. Hopefully you will find a use for them.

They arrived just in time for my 60th birthday. If you enjoy them please say a prayer for my continued good health and spiritual progress. Hare Krishna.


Johannesburg, October 2016

Written by Sesa Das

Early on Friday morning (07 October), Kadamba Kanana Swami flew from Cape Town to Lanseria, Johannesburg. There were no programs scheduled that day so Maharaj got some well-deserved rest.

On Saturday evening, Maharaj was invited to give class at the Benoni Hindu temple at their namahatta program. After forty minutes of kirtan, Maharaj recited Bhagavad-gita 9.10 and began talking about how nothing in this world can satisfy, attract or intimidate Krsna…

He is transcendental! He does not depend on the offering made to him but accepts the bhakti. It was a very enlivening class for everyone as Maharaj asked a crucial question, “How do you know Krsna is real? Where is the proof?” Then he explained that the pure devotee is living proof and gave many stories and examples from Srila Prabhupada’s life. Highly applicable because the life of the devotee is also Bhagavatam, the person Bhagavatam, so Lilamrta is also Bhagavatam! We preach to hippies and then we can leave and go home to a sane environment. However, Srila Prabhupada went to live with them, in the madness, he had no support and wasn’t even disturbed about it! He had such inner strength and this convinces us and makes it easier for us! In this way Maharaj explained and gave us a clearer understanding on this question and how it helps deepen our conviction to keep to Vedic culture, rather than modern day science which is constantly changing.

Sunday 9th October 2016 marked the 9th anniversary of the Soweto Ratha Yatra festival. Devotees assembled early outside the Soweto temple to build the cart and Harinamananda Prabhu began the kirtan. Shortly thereafter, Maharaj and Agnideva Prabhu arrived. With many devotees on mrdangas, whompers, kartals and dancers all around, the procession was about to begin and Maharaj sang for around two minutes and then shifted the intensity of the kirtan up by four gears! It was amazing! Maharaj sang until mid-way of the procession and then Agnideva Prabhu took over and sang for the remainder. The kirtan was incredible! The dance moves executed by the devotees words can’t even attempt to describe! The pujaris were showering the streets with prasada! The locals were all running out of their houses, jumping for the prasada and dancing along in appreciation of the procession! Soweto is historically well known for having revolutionary roots for many events which benefited South Africa, and no doubt the Ratha Yatra is also an enlivening revolutionary procession for all in the country!

On Tuesday evening, Maharaj went to the Pretoria temple and the progam began with a rocking kirtan which lifted off the roof! During the class Maharaj touched upon his personal experiences with several senior devotees such as Yasodanandana Swami, Mahavirya Prabhu and Tamal Krsna Goswami stating that we get so much personal-ism and shelter from their personalities and relationships. We see they all did something for Srila Prabhupada. What will we do? They all told Srila Prabhupada, “Don’t worry, I’ll do it!” and they did! They all sacrificed so much and are sold out to Prabhupada. This is a lecture not to be missed! Listen to it ASAP!

On Maharaj’s last evening in Jo’burg he went back to Soweto for a house program. For the first few hours Maharaj sang kirtans with a few melodies! The room of people were going mad dancing! What an atmosphere! During the class Maharaj spoke how anything is possible when Krsna is on our side; like the story of the sparrow’s eggs taken by the ocean and Garuda aiding to bring them back. So with our small attempts what can really happen but when Krsna sees that we are really trying, he can change the whole world very quickly. For example, in the early days no-one could imagine Russia becoming Krsna Conscious! Now if we don’t know a Russian devotee we may be in the minority of Iskcon and it is spreading massively there. So a sales pitch may convince a few, however the impossible becoming possible is only with Krsna’s help, because only with purity does the movement become a success! Then miracles happen when we somehow purchase Krsna!

The following morning (14 October), Maharaj left for Mauritius. It may sound overly hectic and busy, however please be rest assured that Maharaj does get sufficient rest, exercise and healthy prasada to keep nourished and balance things out.

Visit Flickr to see more photos. 


Saturday, October 22nd, 2016

Mumbai, India
Very Egalitarian
Everyone brings their individual strengths to the table.  These mid-term meetings have drawn leaders of the Hare Krishna movement together.  Psychoanalysts, psychiatrists and people in the field of human behaviour have identified nine different human types from perfectionists to peace-makers.  Among the monks and family men and women who lead our society, we actually have all types participating, and it is very much wanted.
Now when it comes to meetings, not all participants are very active in vocalizing themselves.  Listening?  Yes. But speaking their minds or opinions—well, a few dominate.  I’m one of the quieter ones.
I do, however, have the service of opening the sessions with a kirtan and then a reading from sastra (scripture) or a past letter from our guru, Srila Prabhupada, which addresses an important issue.
Also, among the leaders, some are well-established in popularity with thousands of followers.  Some attendees, although talented and intelligent, are fairly reserved and not well known, but no less important.  What happens at the meetings is you see everyone as very much equal.  That is the beauty of the forum; all who sit at the conference table take the position of humble servants of Krishna.  The approach is very egalitarian.
May the Source be with you!

4 km

Cape Town, October 2016

Written by Sesa Das 

On Saturday morning (01 October), Kadamba Kanana Swami flew from Durban to Cape Town and was joyfully welcomed at the airport by a group of devotees, and we drove to the temple about 15 km away.

Later on in the day, we went to Sea Point along the Cape Town coast or as the locals call it, “Let’s go over the mountains.” Cape Town has amazing scenic views and now there were many landmarks all over the city reminding us of the great achievements Nelson Mandela had made, from enlarged steel versions of his glasses looking out to Robin Island (where he was formerly imprisoned) to big skyscraper buildings which had coloured windows in such a way that from the outside you saw a picture of Mandela across the building! Whilst walking along the beach many would approach us saying, “Hi… Wow… or Hare Krsna,” and we would give a quick response or from time to time Maharaj stopped and greeted and conversed with them like a true gentleman.

Sunday was an important day for ISKCON Cape Town. You could feel it in the air! Everyone assembled in the temple early & even during class there was loads of vegetables to be chopped, cooks rushing around and people everywhere getting things ready. Why? Alongside it being the Sunday Love Feast, on this day was going to be their harinama bus festival for Iskcon’s 50th Anniversary! What does that mean? Well at 10:30am we arrived at a car park near Sea Point & there were two buses awaiting us! One double decker bus and one smaller single storey bus.

Devotees were bringing prasadam & fliers for distribution and we began to head into the buses as Maharaj began leading the harinama on the roof of the double-decker with Medhavi Prabhu singing on the single storey bus! Even before the driver had switched on the vehicle, Maharaj had already taken off – absolutely rocking the top floor with the speakers blasting the Holy name, whompers smashing, mrdangas pounding the atmosphere and people all around inside & outside the bus dancing!

Thirty minutes later, we got off the buses to do harinama along the beach! We sang, danced, played instruments loudly & everyone stared, a little shocked and then smiled whilst devotees ran all over the beach distributing cupcakes and the famous Cape Town ladhus! (If you haven’t had one, you have no clue what you’re missing out on! Fly in & get one! It’s worth it!) We re-entered the bus and Harinamananda Prabhu (from Australia) began leading a jolly tune. People were waving and singing along with us as the bus went through the town. Maharaj was dancing, glancing & enticing others on the side walk to sing also! What a festival it was!

Our last stop was at the famous Cape Town Waterfront were everyone crowded around the harinama party, coming out of shops, restaurants, off the beach and from all corners to see what was happening. Many joined in the singing and dancing & one African band group even began playing along with us when we passed them.


Then we all went back to the temple and shortly thereafter Maharaj gave the Sunday Love Feast class. For the first hour or so Maharaj led another roaring kirtan going through a few melodies. Maharaj recited Bhagavad-gita 7.7 & began the class reminding us how we see through our mind which accepts and rejects things but again we chew the chewed. Then a baby began crying & Maharaj said, “That’s enough to make anyone cry!” We try to squeeze the juice but the taste quickly goes & bubbles pop & we are just left with sticky stuff.

We see many saints in the world though. St. Francis would walk around and give any of his possessions to anyone who wanted and asked for them. He would embrace lepers. He was full of compassion & kindness. So we see mercy isn’t discriminating. The Supreme Lord is open to all. The mahamantra is the names of Krsna. Krsna means all attractive! Hare, is the energy of service and Rama, is the happiness from that service! But to get that mercy, love is needed and love requires humility to develop. Through genuine honesty, we know who we really are! Through real honesty we receive real mercy. So we must strive for service, humility, love & mercy! And Lord Caitanya openly gives us a direct way back and Lord Caitanya instructed everyone to distribute love of Godhead to all! So Srila Prabhupada didn’t just translate the books but devotional service for all us!

Then the class opened up for some questions and Maharaj ended it with saying that the Lord always upholds the words or promises of the spiritual master and will never let them go in vain, like when Brahma gave the boon to Hiranyakasipu. So Srila Prabhupada said, “If you faithfully follow four regulative principles and chant sixteen rounds, you will go back to Godhead!” Afterwards, Maharaj sat outside whilst the feast began and spoke to many individuals.

After a day or so of rightly due rest, Maharaj had an evening program at the temple and began by reciting Bhagavada-gita 9.9…

It’s inconceivable to understand Krsna as He is the cause of everything and it’s said that not even a blade of grass can move without Him, yet He isn’t responsible for any of this! Why? Because He didn’t want this world! Actually this world and the different yugas are completely a mirror of our state of consciousness. In Satya yuga everyone was going for self-realization. Then in Treta yuga material agendas began. Indeed, there was goodness and piety, however there was more desire to enjoy and lower consciousness began creeping in. Now we are in Kali yuga, the age for those with learning difficulties. So we are all of a lower standard and so the bar is lowered too. This age of Kali yuga is like an ocean of crocodiles (which represent ignorant speculative theories) and only by Mahaprabhu’s mercy can an innocent child swim across to the other side safely. We have difficulties of old habits haunting us and we know they aren’t good or useful but when we think about them or bring them back then spiritual life becomes hard again. Ultimately we place our faith in those places where we are attracted. So we have to look at material life and become convinced that it doesn’t work! We have to consciously cut material attachments. We must develop real friendship with the spiritual master also. It is the disciples’ duty to re-connect, serve & trust him whole-heartedly. To restore things with our honesty. But we must really not stagnate & do more and more service!

The next morning Maharaj gave a morning class from Srimad-Bhagavatam 1.9.43, the chapter summarizing the passing away of Bhismadeva. We see that Bhismadeva was never distracted! He had no attachment to this material as he was attracted to Krsna. So asrama is secondary, more of a support system, and not the end goal! All our acts are for Krsna ultimately. Maharaj told many stories of his experiences in Iskcon and was always leading toward the need of absorbing oneself in Krsna consciousness.

The following morning Maharaj gave Srimad-Bhagavatam class on the next verse (1.9.44) and began by giving some of the stories from Mahabharata where Duryodhana challengingly confronted Bhismadeva saying that he’s not really fighting properly…

So Bhismadeva boldly said he would kill the five Pandavas with these five arrows and Duryodhana was eager to keep them. Then Krsna reminded Arjuna how he had previously saved Duryodhana out of family duties and could still ask any boon from him. So that evening Arjuna went and Duryodhana grudgingly had to hand over the five arrows. Bhismadeva, a personality dedicated to his vows wasn’t happy at all that now he could not fulfill his vow and therefore he wanted to make Krsna break His vow of not fighting. Therefore he really wanted to see Krsna in the fighting mood. It was at that moment where he saw his worshipable deity. The principle we see here is the sense of dharma which we must put first in life. The class ended with Maharaj glorifying the Mahajanas. ‘Maha’ meaning great and ‘jana’ meaning personality. So we see they are so-called due to their ability to deal with and handle such big issues. And now we know there are modern day Mahajanas, because only once in 1000 yugas does all the Vedas come to the west! And this was done by Srila Prabhupada.

Later that evening, Thursday (06 October), Maharaj went to Stellenbosch University to give a talk and kirtan. Returning after a few years, Maharaj instantly knew the way around and led us all to the room for the event. Students and professionals began to come in and fill up the room. Then Maharaj sat down at the front with the harmonium and told us all, “I would sing every day and if there was ever a day that I didn’t sing it was a miserable one!” Then for an hour or so Maharaj sang and the whole crowd embraced the experience, closing their eyes and singing back loudly. You could feel the energy bouncing off the walls! Then Maharaj began speaking about his experience of coming into contact with the Hare Krsna mantra, and before that the Rama mantra and his travels en-route to India. Only when coming into contact with the Bhagavad-gita did it satisfy the deeper personalism aspect he was looking for, so then he knew this was real. Maharaj could appreciate and understand the philosophy as he had seen the east. He had seen a dead body lying in the street and people throwing money on the body. Maharaj recognized the individual and ironically thought this beggar died in poverty and was now buried in money. But then someone explained the culture that they would burn the body on the day either before sunrise or sunset as the soul that had left wanted to come back in. So the living entity had to give up the body and must move forward to the next journey. So the Bhagavad-gita isn’t to be seen as a book but a way of life. It comes off the pages and we see it in the people and buildings all around us! So these books give us great insights and then we learn through life. Otherwise we die before we’ve died! Then to finish Maharaj ended by answering a few questions and then finally a short kirtan.

And this brought to an end our visit to Cape Town…



Thousands took midnight bath in Radha Kund on its appearance day

img-20161024-wa0011Radhakunda, 2016.10.23 (VT): Thousands took bath in Radha Kund at midnight on Sunday on the occasion of the appearance day of Shri Radha Kunda. Radha Kund appeared at midnight. Hundreds of Bus full of devotees went to Radha Kund from Vrindavan and other places to take holy bath in the kund. Bathing in Radha Kund is especially beneficial on this day. This day is marked as the holiest day in the auspicious month of Kartik.
This day is known as Ahoi Ashtami or Bahulashtami, which falls on the eighth day of waning moon of the Kartik month or on the Krishna Paksha Ashtami. This festival is very unique in Braj region as mothers keep fast for the well-being of their son. Mother Yashoda used to observe this fast for the well being of her son Shri Krishna.
A holy dip in Radha Kund on the auspicious day of Ahoi Ashtami is considered very significant. It is believed that the childless couples having problem in conceiving a child is blessed with a child if they take bath in Radha Kund on this auspicious night.
The midnight time, which is known as Nishita time, is considered the significant moment to take the holy dip. Hence bathing begins at midnight and continues throughout the night. To seek the blessings of Radharani to conceive soon, couples perform puja after standing in the water tank and offer Kushmanda, white raw pumpkin, which is famously known as Petha. Kushmanda is offered after decorating it with red cloth. Even those couples, whose wishes were fulfilled, revisit Radha Kund as gratitude of thanks to Goddess Radha Rani.
As the story goes that while Shri Krishna was present in Braj at the end of the Dwapara Yuga, Kamsa was doing everything he could to kill him in order to avert the prediction that the eighth child of Devaki would assassinate him. He sent demons one after the other, many of whom were endowed with mystic powers like the ability to transform into terrifying and murderous forms. One such demon was Arishtha, whos name means ill luck, misfortune or disaster. Arishtha took the form of a giant bull, and it was in this shape that he came to Vraja with timg-20161024-wa0012he mission of attacking and killing Krishna.
However, as with all the other misguided and malevolent friends and hagers-on of the wicked king Kamsa, Arishtha was no match for Krishna who easily disposed of him bringing relief to all the Brajwasis who had been intimidated by the frightening bull. After he had killed Arishtha, Krishna came as usual to meet Radha and her sakhis to enjoy his pastimes with them. However, being provoked by Lalita and the others, she said she said she didn’t have anything to do with him, as he had become impure from the act of killing a bul. The bull, after all, is the very symbol of dharma. When Krishna asked what he could do to be free of his sin, she said that nothing short of bathing in all the seven sacred rivers would be effective.
Yogeshwar Shri Krishna, showing off for his beloved, pushed his heel into the ground and made a large hole. Then he invited the sacred rivers, who appeared in their personified forms and filled the hole to make a beautiful bathing pond. And so Krishna took his purifying dip and the ponds was given the name Shyam Kund. After bathing, Krishna began to tease the gopis, “ Now that I have bathed in the holy water of Shyam Kund, I am free from any fault, but I am afraid that because you sided with Arishthasura, you have become too impure to touch. You are going to have to do something to counteract your fault.”
With that, the Radha and the Gopis became a little arrogant and said, “You have your kund, so we will have ours. Our Radha is no less powerful than you. Then, remarking the huge cavity created by the bull’s hooves on the western side of Shyam Kund, they decided to make her kund there. They broke their bangles to make tools for digging and began to make their own hole.
Within minutes, Radha and her friends were finished; the hole was ready but there was no water in it. Krishna and his friends watched and laughed at the Gopis predicament. Nevertheless, Krishna generously offered to fill Radha’s kund with water from his tank, but Radha and the Gopis, still proud refused.
Lalita then said, “ Why don’t we form a bucket chain to the Manasi Ganga and fill it up with water from there?” And so this is what they did.
Then, on Krishna’s order, all the holy tirthas who had come to fill Shyam Kund appeared and offered choice praises and obeisance unto Shri Radhika. Being satisfied with their worship, Radha Rani gave them permission to enter into her hund. And so Krishna broke the dam that separated the two ponds and their waters merged.
Hearing about the appearance of Radha Kund, Yogmaya Paurnamasi Devi called Vrinda Devi and instructed her to plant various trees and vines on all four banks of the kunds. According to her own wish, Vrinda Devi also constructed jeweled ghats, i.e, steps leading down to the water, in order to facilitate Radha and Krishna’s pastimes. She arranged for beautiful kunjas to be laid out with different kinds of trees, vines and flowers. These kunjas were sassigned to Shrimati Radha Rani’s eight principal sakhis. On both sides of each ghat she had charming wish-yeilding kalpa vriksha trees planted. Singing male and female parrots, pigeons, cuckoos and peacocks are always sitting on the branches of these trees, and the kundas are filled with golden, yellow, green, red, blue and white lotus flowers.
This Shri Radha Kund is the place where Shri Shri Radha Madhava have their most confidential eternal midday pastimes, as described at great length in the Govinda Lilamirta, and other such texts. Besides playing their water sports here, they swing, play pasha, drink mead and have their noon time meal, visiting the kunjas of skhis which encircle the kund.
Ahoi Ashtami or Ahoi Aathe is a festival that is integral to Vraja culture. Brajwasis have been traditionally observing this festival. Since Krishna’s mother celebrated it for Krishna’s well-being, so do the Brijwasi women. The women organize special puja with an earthen pot full of water and a calendar bearing the story of Ahoi Ashtami. Then the sons take bath with that water on the day of Chhoti Diwali, the day before Diwali. It is believed the sons will remain healthy if they take bath with that water.
On this day, the mothers fast from dawn to dusk, breaking it at twilight after seeing the stars in the sky. Some women break the fast after getting sight of the moon, but this is more challenging as the moon rises late in the night on Ahoi Ashtami.
Once upon a time, there lived a woman in a village. She had seven sons. One day she went to the forest to bring clay for the renovation and painting of her home. She started digging the ground above a foxhole. By accident, her spade broke through the ground into the hole and killed the fox cubs in the den. The woman felt very sorry and sympathetic, but being helpless she returned home from the forest.
When the mother fox returned to her den, she began to lament at the death of her children and prayed to God to punish the perpetrator of the deed. “May that person suffer the loss of her children just as I have !”
As a result of the curse, all her seven sons died within the year. One day she narrated her woes to some of the elderly ladies in the village. She was crying and told them that she didn’t commit the sin intentionally. The ladies appreciated her honesty and told her that by confessing her sin she had atoned her half of the sin. They suggested the woman to pray the goddess Ahoi Bhagwati by making an image of her. “By the grace of the goddess your sin will be cast off.”
The woman kept fast on the Kartik Krishna Ashtami and then onwards she started praying and keeping fast regularly. By the power of her prayer the God’s grace was showered on her and she was able to get her seven of her sons back. Since then, it became a ritual to worship the goddess Ahoi Ashtami Bhagwati every year on this day. The image of Ahoi Devi is usually made with red color on the mud walls.

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Yoga and Reason


By Swami B.V. Tripurari

Today there are a number of nuanced forms of the basic philosophy of materialism, all of which view the world as nothing more than physical forces interacting. Let me refer to them collectively as reductive materialism. Opposed to reductive materialism are the worldviews that acknowledge the causal influence of an immaterial mind and consciousness. I think that if reason is to prevail, the non-reductive worldviews that argue for the position that our thoughts influence our actions and thus have causal efficacy in the world and that the world itself is inherently meaningful win the day. Allow me to briefly reason why.

One of the problems with reductive materialism is that “cause-and-effect relationships” are said to govern everything. In the material world, everything that happens, every effect, is directly related to a physical cause. An example of such cause and effect relationships is “The yogi is ill today because he ate rich food yesterday.” Here “because” indicates the relation of cause and effect: The eating made him ill. Now when we embrace the idea that the world is entirely based upon cause-and-effect relationships, this means that such relationships are all that goes on in the brain, a physical object.

However, for reasoning to take place in the brain, the brain must be the locus of “ground-consequent relationships” and not merely cause-and-effect relationships. How so? Because reasoning involves grounds/premises out of which a conclusion or belief reached is the consequence of the stated premise. If the premise is true, then the conclusion is also true as a matter of logic and thus one has a valid argument. Rational conclusions are the result of certain evidence. We believe something because of some evidence that supports our belief. The evidence is the ground on the basis of which we infer or reason as to our conviction. An example of such ground-consequent relationships is, “The yogi must be ill today because he hasn’t risen yet (and we know he is an invariably early riser when he is well).” Here our reasoning as to why the yogi has risen late is based upon the premise that, when in good health, the yogi always rises early. The reasoning that gives rise to our belief is based upon the premise. We reasoned that because the yogi always rises early when he is in good health, he must be ill because he today did not rise early.

As we have seen, rationality depends upon premises being seen as grounds for consequent conclusions/beliefs. Whereas in reductive materialism, every thought we think is said to be a result of a physical or environmental cause rather then arising from any rational grounds. Neurons fire and thoughts follow, or so some think. As such, because reductive materialism requires that we deny that our brains function in terms of by ground-consequence relationships and posits that the world proceeds only on the basis of cause-and-effect relationships, with that reductive materialism also requires that we abandon the idea that we are truly rational creatures. If all we have is a brain to reason with, we have no reasoning power at all. Given that we do engage in ground consequent reasoning, as I am doing here, reason itself must not be located in the brain or any other purely physical object. This argument was first raised by C.S. Lewis.

We may also reason further that if the world proceeds on the basis of cause-effect relationships alone, there is no objective ground on which to determine right actions from those that are wrong. That which occurs in the world has no “ought” to it. Physical forces interact and that is the end of the story, unbelievable as it is. Add to this the fact that as much as there is no objectively correct way to act, on the same grounds there is also be no correct way to think. To deny objective cognitive values implies the absurd conclusion that the idea that we ought to avoid self-contradiction in discourse is merely a personal preference. Thus reason again has no locus within materialism, in that if materialism is to be consistent it destroys the very idea of rationality. Of course people do somehow reason and try to determine the best way to act. As such, within materialism, people are thought to make up meaning in a world where, objectively speaking, there is none. Exactly how anyone’s brain does this is unclear.

Some posit that we reason with a mind that derives from our physical brain but that this mind and its reasoning in turn have no influence on our actions, a rather counterintuitive position. And such theories still render reason ultimately meaningless because they posit that reason has no causal efficacy. Again, in such theories the world proceeds entirely on the basis of cause and effect relationships, and while reasoning may go on in a mind that has emerged from the physical brain, its thoughts are of no consequence. The problem here of course is that such theories deny reason the power to weigh in on anything conclusively, while the veracity of materialism is dependent upon reasoning conclusively about that which is observed.

In contrast, non-reductive worldviews, such as those we find in yoga philosophy positing that mind and consciousness are not derived from the physical, leave room for reason to be what we all assume it is in our every day discourse. It is more than merely physical forces interacting or the locus of convictions that have no bearing on the course of events in a world where every event is already determined by a chain of physical causes and effects.

South Africa, September 2016: Part 2

Written by Sesa Das 

I arrived in South Africa on Monday, 26 September, taking a break from the Bhaktivedanta Manor where I am a resident, and will travel with Kadamba Kanana Swami until the end of October. Here is an account of our travels…

On Tuesday evening (27th September), Maharaj had another session with the Caitanya Caritamrta Book Club in Durban. Maharaj began a mellow kirtan in Srila Prabhupada’s room as the devotees began to come in. As the clock struck 7pm, we saw Maharaj was serious about being on time and having no interruptions as we pulled a key out and signalled for the door not to be just closed but locked! Phew, I just made it on time! And I would have really regretted not being there as it was enlivening class with Maharaj speaking about the levels of intimacy in Mahaprabhu’s pastimes between individuals.

Maharaj told us that we see Garuda offers his pranams to Lord Narayana from a distance, which we still see in many temples having the Garuda stambha. However, in Mahaprabhu’s movement it’s not like that and rather it is a movement which includes and uplifts all to an equal platform. The mercy of Mahaprabhu can empower even a dog (not the best of swimmer) to easily cross over an ocean! We see the disciples of Madhavendra Puri extremely fixed and focused on how to serve their spiritual master’s lotus feet and this is a very important lesson for all of us. Towards the end, Maharaj began speaking on the importance of preaching and for this to be effective we have to develop real compassion, otherwise it’s not possible. Vasudeva-datta being the embodiment of compassion, desired Lord Caitanya to liberate every soul in the universe being overwhelmed thinking of their state of suffering. And so preaching is like becoming a doctor who to deal with someone’s suffering and one must get personally involved to truly make great things happen; we need great compassion. We must preach and never give up – continuously rising to the challenge, never lowering the ideal and always striving to aim for it! In this way more and more we realize and feel the whole sampradaya is behind us in force and then we begin seeing the small steps others take in spiritual life and develop faith and appreciation in them.

A few days later, disciples gathered at a house program. Maharaj began with a rocking kirtan and then began reading from chapter 17 of Madhya Kandhara, Caitanya Bhagavata.

Maharaj elaborated on our inability to really understand the relationships between high individual like Lord Caitanya & Advaita Acharya, for example. So we don’t always see the spiritual links. The spiritual reality is that material enjoyment doesn’t satisfy the soul and is therefore temporary. But eternal life also includes this life, not that only after life is the eternal life, but we look at how to make this one auspicious too by serving Krsna. So we often think how can be enjoy now? We see Advaita Acharya felt a little like that whilst absorbed in love of Lord Caitanya and so Mahaprabhu punished him by disappearing so then Advaita Acharya became depressed and saw he was proud and now realized his dependency on Mahaprabhu. 

So we see the depth needed for real surrender in our Krsna Consciousness. Then the whole sangha took a turn as we felt an extra boost coming out of Maharaj as he began speaking about and glorifying the Mahajanas and went onto to explain…

When we depend on Krsna, we depend on purity. Otherwise we can look pure but much else in actually going on inside. We see that yes Bali Maharaja gave everything to Krsna but maybe due to a moment of sentiment, out of ksatriya dharma and so we see that the Lord tested to see if he is really sincere & therefore the snake was wrapped around Bali and he didn’t care and was still cent percent surrendered and that is why he became a Mahajana & we likewise have many different snakes in our lives to deal with, things which squeeze us but how to we react? We know Bhisma had been shot so many but he didn’t care he was always thinking of Krsna. Vaiyasaki, the son of Vyasa is Sukadeva Goswami was always just concerned with being absorbed in Krsna Consciousness. So these Mahajanas remind us that Krsna can do anything and how to properly react. So yes we think we are impure, but must continue trying for purity & constantly striving for improvements. What an ecstatic class it was. Everyone going away deeply inspired and contemplating the glories of the Mahajanas & their faith.

 Friday, 30 September was the last day that Maharaj would be in Durban for a while. On Friday evening, Maharaj addressed the youth of Durban at their monthly kirtan gathering at the Sri Sri Radha Radhanath temple. 

Maharaj began with a few simple words about how the youth have automatically inherited the world with all its perks and the mess up from previous generations. So now it is really up to the youth to make something of it and deliver a brighter tomorrow.

Then Maharaj began leading an intoxicating kirtan and the Holy name was vibrating through the whole temple room and within no time everyone forgot where they were and many jumped up to begin dancing whilst others played instruments and sang with all their enthusiasm. After around an hour of leading kirtans there was a Q&A session, everyone was handed slips of paper and were able to ask any questions they wanted anonymously. The stack of questions looked small to start off with, however within a short period of time the whole harmonium in front of Maharaj was packed out and overflowing with slips containing multiple questions at a time! The Q&A went on for another hour with Maharaj giving tips on how to practically apply or relate to the principles of Krsna Consciousness whilst being realistic as students and young professionals. A very practical Q&A for all.

One person asked Maharaj, “What is your secret to getting everyone so entranced in kirtan?” and Maharaj replied, “Well, I don’t know, it’s Krsna’s mercy, but one thing I can say is that, I’m not playing the harmonium, I’m not singing for the sake of singing, for the echo of my voice. What I’m trying to do is playing the people. I’m looking at people and I’m trying to drive them mad!” 

The next morning, we set off for Cape Town…



High Court granted injunction on the laying of sewer pipeline on Yamuna

september-18-2016_vrindavan_015Allahabad / Vrindavan, 2016.10.20 (VT): The Allahabad High Court on Thursday granted injunction on laying the sewer pipeline on Yamuna bank, and restrained the government to release any drainage or sewer water in the Yamuna. A two judge bench, headed by the Chief Justice Shri Dilip B Bhosle and Justice Shri Yashwant Varma was hearing a Public Interest Litigation (PIL), filed by Shri Madhumangal Sharan Das Shukla, a Senior member of the Braj-Vrindavan Heritage Alliance, seeking a stay on the laying of a sewer line in the river bed and building new ghats adjacent to the ancient heritage ghats.
Petitioner’s counsel s Shri Anuruddh Chaturvedi and Shri K.M. Tripathi, appeared before the court and urged to impose a stay on the ongoing work and that was granted. In its particular order the court said, “In the meanwhile, we direct all the respondents to ensure that work of laying drainage pipeline shall not be carried out on the bank of river and in any case, no drainage water shall be released in the said river.” Now the matter will come up for hearing again on November 28.september-15-2016_vrindavan_105Archaeological Survey of India (ASI) and Nagar Palika Parishad, respondents in the case, submitted their replies, ASI stated that it had got an FIR registered against the contractor of UP’s irrigation and water resourced department in June for carrying out illegal construction work at this heritage ghats near Jugal Kishore temple, a centrally protected monument. Subsequently, the department also informed its headquarters in Delhi about the matter in August. On September, 20 ASI director general wrote to the UP government contractor to remove the unauthorized construction from the Keshi Ghat within seven days. A demolition order had also been issued, the ASI added.
Earlier, during its first hearing of the case on 6th October, the court granted more time to Central government and various departments’ o f the state government to file their replies by the following date of hearing, the high court directed the Mathura district administration to ensure that no damage is done to the heritage ghats of Vrindavan.
Another bench of two judges headed by Justice Arun Tandon and Justice Sunita Agarwal observed, “There are serious allegation in the matter of unauthorized construction / damagedly work on the ancient Ghats at the bank of river Yamuna includeing its floodplain. We only provide that the district magistrate shall ensure that no uncalled for construction work is raised on the existing ghats, in any manner.”september-19-2016_vrindavan_027
It should be noted that the Uttar Pradesh government proposed a River Front Development Project under which a beautification project on the Yamuna bank in Vrindavan was undertaken. The Braj-Vrindavan Heritage Alliance has been critical to this project right from the beginning and its delegation met several district officials to lodge a protest against it.

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Remembering Aberfan


On this day in October 1966 I was ten years old and living in a small village in Cornwall. I’d gone out for a walk in the afternoon and wherever I went, people were talking to each other about a terrible thing that had happened that morning in a Welsh village.

I don’t remember hearing about disasters very much when I was young, so this made a deep impression on me. It was as if the whole village felt it. News travelled a little slower back then, but the grainy images on a neighbours black and white television set was showing hundreds of people trying to rescue children from a school that had been covered in an avalanche of mining waste. Thousands of tons of slag, made unstable due to the rain, had slid down a hill and covered houses and an entire primary school. Many children my age had died, I heard.

One neighbour shooed me away, saying to her husband: “He’s too young to listen to this; these are kids his age. He’ll get affected by it.”

Affected I was. For days afterwards we were told harrowing stories of the little children who had been at their lessons when the hill simply slid down on top of their school. The black slag came in through the windows of their classrooms, covering them and everything else. We had bad dreams about it, and wrote letters to ‘The children of Aberfan’ to show our support and solidarity. A collection was taken up, and I brought a threepenny bit from home.

News wasn’t just ‘the news’ then, where you could choose to distant yourself from all the bad things in the world. This was real children who had died, 116 of them within a few minutes, in a small village just like ours, and in a primary school just like ours. We were connected.

Aberfan, 21st October 1966

Thursday, October 20th, 2016

Mumbai, India
Today I was asked to read before our global leaders the following excerpt from the preface of the book “Bhagavatam.”  It was how we began the day’s meetings.
“We must know the present need of human society.  And what is that need?  Human society is no longer bounded by geographical limits to particular countries or communities.  Human society is broader than in the Middle Ages, and the world tendency is toward one state or one human society.  The ideals of spiritual communism, according to Srimad-Bhagavatam, are based more or less on the oneness of the entire human society, nay, of the entire energy of living beings.  The need is felt by great thinkers to make this a successful ideology.  Srimad-Bhagavatamwill fill this need in human society.  It begins, therefore, with an aphorism of Vedanta philosophy, janmady asya yatah, to establish the ideal of a common cause.
Human society, at the present moment, is not in the darkness of oblivion.  It has made rapid progress in the fields of material comforts, education and economic development throughout the entire world.  But there is a pinprick somewhere in the social body at large, and therefore there are large-scale quarrels, even over less important issues.  There is need of a clue as to how humanity can become one in peace, friendship and prosperity with a common cause.  Srimad-Bhagavatamwill fill this need, for it is a cultural presentation for the re-spiritualization of the entire human society.”
(There’s more!)
May the Source be with you!

4 km

Wednesday, October 19th, 2016

Mumbai, India
What Counts!
At 7:10 p.m. when I had the chance to see the honourable deities of Sita Rama at the temple (ISKCON) it was difficult to get around.  Many people were doing what I was—trying to receive some mercy from above.  The place was packed.  There were local attendees, and I also saw a dozen or more inquisitive tourists, most likely from Russia.  They observed the elaborate display of the deities.  They also couldn’t help but notice the monks-in-training who were enthusiastically singing and dancing as a way of trying to please the deities.
I made my way to the front of the temple room, close to the deities.  I also participated in the dance and took some lead on the dance steps.  This created a small sensation since the monks are accustomed to more-or-less a robotic type of repetitious movement.  They saw a chance to break out of it.  There was some apprehension initially and then liberation kicked in.
In the course of that, I saw someone approaching for darshan(viewing of the deity) and he was moving rather slowly with the assistance of crutches.  It was my friend from Ahmedabad, Yasomatinandan, who has aged considerably since last I saw him.  He broke into a smile after I tapped him on the shoulder, at which time he recognized me.
This is the same Yasomatinandan whom I see every day in the corridor in the form of a photo, enlarged and framed, on the wall.  He is walking with his guru, Srila Prabhupada, in the photo.  He looks handsome, energetic and young.
That dynamic has changed in Yaso, but I see his consciousness is good and that is what counts.
May the Source be with you!

4 km

Recordings: October 2016 – Part 1

Please find below recent recordings of lectures and kirtans by Kadamba Kanana Swami. 

Download ALL (zip file, 931 MB)










Cape Town











Spiritual Intoxication

8da2bb992387fb6d8ee63fcf2389330cIt is quite interesting to hear how advanced one can become regarding detachement from this mortal body and inner absorption on the Lord. Below is an excellent example in this regard. I pray that at the time of death we can all come to this level:

“Just as a drunken man doesn’t notice whether or not he is wearing his coat or shirt, one who is perfect in self-realization and has thus achieved his eternal identity doesn’t notice whether the temporary body is sitting or standing. Indeed, if by God’s will the body is finished or by God’s will he obtains a new body, a self-realized soul doesn’t notice, just as a drunken man doesn’t notice the situation of his outward dress.”

SB 11.13.36

Monday, October 17th, 2016

Mumbai, India
High Point
A major high point for me at the Juhu Temple was the great moments of kirtan in the evening.  This, of course, involves dancing, and dancing is good.  It involves using leg muscles which don’t get used in the course of walking.
The ISKCON complex is somewhat that—complex.  For me, it’s like a maze when trying to get around from temple room, to meeting room, to accommodation room.  There’s quite a lot of transmigration of body and soul which goes on within the complex.
Yes, I’m intimidated by the outdoors.  Traffic is crazy.  Weather is hot.  Pollution is high.  I’m actually relishing the time with peers whom I don’t see for months at a time.  We all stay within the complex.
Spiritual advancement is largely dependent on good spiritual company.  In fact, it is the major factor behind growth.  Therefore, my stay here in Juhu, Mumbai is a true blessing because of all the great comrades I have here.
Mind you, most of them just can’t dance up a storm with the many young males present, who reside as monks in the confines of temple and ashram.  But the sit-down and break-out sessions we have together are precious.
One important topic for us is succession planning.  Hey, most of the old boys are in their mid to late 60’s.  It is time for more delegation and empowerment—time to transfer responsibilities to the ones who can dance.
May the Source be with you!

4 km

Tuesday, October 18th, 2016

Mumbai, India
Lament Not
“One who has taken his birth is sure to die, and after death one is sure to take birth again.  Therefore, in the unavoidable discharge of your duty, you should not lament.”  Bhagavad-gita 2:27
We received the news today that a very prominent member of our community, known not just in Mumbai but globally, passed away in Bhutan.  Nataji, as everyone knows him, died from heart failure and he had the biggest heart.  He was a generous devotee and he was dear to his guru, Srila Prabhupada.
As the verse above from the Gita indicates “we will be back and so there is no need to lament.”  Over the course of four and a half decades, many senior men and women got to know Nataji.  He was very kind to all.  He had compiled reading material on bhakti-yoga in the business place.
Condolences to his family.  We may try to pay heed to the words above by Sri Krishna, “Do not lament,” in regard to his going.  Based on his magnanimous disposition, Nataji will march on to the subtle greener pasture of the spiritual world.  Therefore, why lament?  But, a notion of self-pity is natural, as he’ll be missed.
Funeral rites will be tomorrow in Mumbai, with a procession beginning at his home.
For my evening, I had every reason to rejoice.  I usually dream about giving presentations to young enthusiasts of the bhaktimovement.  One hall got filled up at 8 p.m. with fresh young monks in training.  They came to hear “Tales from Trails.”
May the Source be with you!

3 km

Sunday, October 16th, 2016

Mumbai, India
A Lesson From the Python
Yesterday, Bhanu Swami spoke about the python man—the sadhu, or holy man who becomes popular by merely lying there in the field and accepting whatever may come of its own accord as food.  His disposition is one of detachment.  Such was the topic during the Bhagavatam lesson.
Today, we were honoured to hear from Kavi-chandra Swami who spoke further on the nature of a python, who hypnotizes his prey causing it to come closer.
The parallels, between the python and the certain type of monk who doesn’t walk about, are very interesting.  The main theme I picked up on was instructive.  As Rupa Goswami, another celebrated monk of the 16th century, expressed it, “Do not endeavour for mundane things.”
In a conversation I had at lunch with Tejiyas, a true blue researcher on rural community development, he said the greatest challenge in implementing the simpler life for even the welcoming city slicker is to resign oneself to the principle that we be content with what we have.  It appears greed is an element which really needs to be tackled if one wants to be more frugal in the way one does things.  I think most of us will admit we waste like crazy and we work way too hard to accumulate what we don’t need.
My walking, by the way, hasn’t totally diminished.  I’m not excited about walking at nearby Juhu Beach.  In the day, it’s extremely hot.  In the night, the dogs attack.
May the Source be with you!

4 km

Recordings: September 2016

Please find below recordings of lectures and kirtans by Kadamba Kanana Swami captured during September. 

Download ALL (zip file, 1.3 GB)


















Cape Town 











Krishna & Pleasure

To depict Krishna and his rasa-līlā as something totally unlike what we ourselves know of happiness and pleasure is suicidal, for it causes us to feel that Krishna is irrelevant to what we spontaneously, naturally, and powerfully want and need. The fact is that nothing could be farther from the truth. Krishna is called “Krishna” for a reason! Rāma. Govinda. Madan Mohan. Rasarāja. Gopi-vallabha. All these names are bursting with exactly the flavor and experience our heart and soul spontaneously, eternally crave. If we deny or ignore that, why should we be surprised that our bhajan lacks life and attentiveness?

Yes, something also needs to be said to explain that our concept of happiness and pleasure pales in comparison to the pleasure and happiness experienced in rāsa-līlā. This is fine! Say it loudly, for it is also inspiring and powerfully attractive to us, right now, and for real. And let us clearly explain that this difference arises because of a fundamental difference in the nature of our approach to pleasure (karma and kāma – “selfishness”) vs. Krishan’s approach to it (līlā and prema – “selflessness”). Stress this all you want, and then some, otherwise we will never attain that all-attractive rasa!

But please beware of depicting Krishna as utterly “transcendental” as if “transcendental” means having no similarities at all with what we already understand and have spontaneous emotional attachment to. Besides being philosophically inaccurate, it will prolong our spontaneous disinterest in Krishna and his bhajan.

Vraja Kishor das (www.vrajakishor.com)

Tagged: madhurya rasa, Rasa-Lila, Sexuality

Shastras are the base of the Indian Culture: Dr. Satyanarayan Dasa

dsc_0168Vrindavan, 2016. 10.16 (VT): A six month course in ‘Bhakti – Tirtha’ commenced on Sunday at the Jiva Institute in Vrindavan. Around 50 scholars from around the world are in Vrindavan to attend the course. Scholars from America, Germany, France, Lithuania, Poland, Ukraine and Italy will participate to learn the course. Apart from the resident scholars, 50 more scholars will take the online tutorials to learn the course.
Dr. Satyanarayan Dasa, who is the President of the Jiva Institute, will lead the group of four educators to conduct the course. Dr. Dasa will be assisted by Dr. Jagadananda Dasa (Jan Brenzki), Shri Mahamuni Dasa (Dr. Matthew Dusty) and Shri Advaita Das (Prof. Edwin Brynte).
Inaugurating the ‘Bhakti-Tirtha’ course, Acharya Shrivatsa Goswami said, “Dham is incomplete without Bhakti. It is the result of Bhakti that Shri Krishna incarnated as Lord Chaitanya Mahaprabhu to manifest Shri Dham Vrindavan. The Six Goswamis who were the followers of Lord Chaitanya Mahaprabhu wrote many sacred literatures, filled with deep spiritual knowledge. The Ascetic Devotees from around the world are keen to study these sacred texts.” “Shri Jiva Goswami was a great editor among the Six Goswamis, who edited many texts written by the other Goswamis. He had a great collection of all the sacred texts and opened a library at Radha Damodar Mandir. It was available for the readers belonging from all the sampradayas, ” added Shri Goswami ji.dsc_0136
Dr. Satyanarayan Das said, “The Shashtras (Sacred literature) are the base of our Indian culture. Vrindavan was once a treasure of great scholars. There were many Sanskrit schools, where the sashtras were being taught. The Acharyas, who taught the shashtras had deep knowledge about the shastras. Unfortunately, the number of those great teachers are declining, who are hardly being replaced by the new ones.”
He further added, “People are also not interested in learning the shashtras, the consequence of which is the latest controversy of organizing an atheist conference in a religious place like Vrindavan.”
Dr. Achyuta Lal Bhatt, Shri Sevananda Brahmachari, Shri Ananda Gopal Dasa, Shri Padmanabha Das and several other speakers addressed the ceremony.

scholars attending the inaugural ceremony

scholars attending the inaugural ceremony

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