On Changing My Dīkṣā

Foremost, I want to make it clear that I am not “against” ISKCON. I do not believe that  ISKCON is “bogus.” Nor do I feel that its leaders are without significant merit. Nor do I think that its members cannot attain Krishna-prema. Most certainly, I don’t at all believe that ISKCON’s founder, A.C. Bhaktivedānta Swāmī Prabhupāda, is any less than a unparalleled empowered exponent of Śrī Krishna Caitanya Mahāprabhu.

I am sincerely grateful for the role Śrīla Prabhupāda, ISKCON, and its leaders and members have played in my life. There are, in fact, a considerable number of people in ISKCON whom I continue to hold in the highest regard. Foremost among them in particular is the 24-hour Kīrtan Sevaka, Aindra dāsa.

However, since the very beginning of my involvement with ISKCON, I have found myself either rationalizing, defending, dreading, or trying in vain to correct several ISKCON issues — from blatant and severe sexism, child abuse, censorship, and irrationality (justified by immature and incomplete ideas of “Vedic culture”) to stubborn misconceptions of the sambandha, abhideya, and prayojana of Gauḍīya Vedānta.

For my first 9 years, I dedicated myself mainly to rationalization and defense of these flaws. In the next 9 years I mostly turned away in dread of it all. In the third 9 years I tried (mostly in vain) to correct and improve things in whatever capacity I could. Over much of these last 9 years the guidance from my ISKCON guru gradually faded and was replaced by increasingly satisfying guidance from a source that I found to be more traditional yet more open, inclusive, and vastly more intellectual and śāstric: Satyanārāyan dāsa Bābājī of the JIVA Institute in Vṛndāvana.

It feels natural and organic now to transfer my dīkṣā to this source.

I hope that my friends and associates in ISKCON will not be unduly distanced or threatened by this. Again, I have nothing against ISKCON and wish nothing but the best for it and for its individual members. I look forward to participating in the brighter side of ISKCON whenever it would still welcome, tolerate, or even just overlook my presence.

Vraja Kishor

www.vrajakishor.com

Spiritual guarantee

(Kadamba Kanana Swami, 20 March 2014, Melbourne, Australia, Srimad Bhagavatam 2.7.52)

SP_smiling

We are not free to live life just as we want to: prakrteh kriyamanani, gunaih karmani sarvasah, the bewildered spirit soul, under the influence of the three modes of material nature, thinks himself to be the doer of activities which are in actuality carried out by nature, Bhagavad-gita 3.27.

Rather, there is a script and this script is going along even though we have so many desires. In the middle of all that, “I want this, I want that. I want to be here, I want to be there. I want to do all these things.” But ultimately, the script will determine what we are allowed to do and what we are not allowed to do, where success will be and where failure will be. With time, we begin to realize more and more that things are not in our control because with time, we see in so many situations that we wanted things and it did not happen. We are controlled by the material energy, simply by circumstances.

Sometimes, we are successful and we are surprised. It was something very difficult and it worked; everyone says, “Wow, you did that very expertly.”

But actually the truth is, it just happened, somehow or other, it just happened and was successful. Other times, you work so hard, you know you worked so hard and it was just not successful, “It is just not logical. I’ve done it a hundred times and it worked a hundred times. Now it’s just not working; why not?” So like this, we are in the material world, depending on the arrangement of Krsna and who is providing things to us through the material energy.

Spiritual life is different. In spiritual life, you can be sure. In material life, you are never sure. You never know, you cannot be sure about anything in material life but in spiritual life you can be sure, actually. The result is guaranteed; it is certain.

When you engage in devotional service, success will be there, etavaj janma-saphalyam (CC Adi 9.24), if you want to make this life successful, dehinam iha dehishu (CC Adi 9.24), while we are now in this body, then use it in the service of Krsna. Then surely, it will be successful. This is the injunction of scripture.

“OM” IS THE IMPERSONAL SOUND FORM OF KRISHNA

Letters of His Divine Grace A. C. Bhaktivedānta Swami Prabhupāda

 

 

London

15 November, 1969

 

 

 

My Dear Harold Torf,

Please accept my blessings. I am very glad to receive your letter dated November 11, 1969, and I am so much obliged to you for your kindly offering me your service. You are rightly placed by Krishna’s Grace under Brahmananda, and you try to follow his instructions. As soon as he will recommend, I shall initiate you; most probably when I return to Boston. Your picture shows you are a very nice boy, promising to become a good Vaisnava in the future. Krishna has sent you for being taken care of by us, so we shall do our best. You also kindly try to follow our instructions.

His Divine Grace chanting Hare Krishna in his quarters at Los Angeles

His Divine Grace chanting Hare Krishna in his quarters at Los Angeles

Regarding Omkar, you may know that Om is the impersonal sound form of Krishna. Those who are unable to utter immediately the Sweet Name of Krishna, they are recommended to chant Om. Just like a child is taught to make a particular type of sound, and thus he learns the name of father, mother and other relatives. That is the beginning.

So in the beginning, Om is the right vibration of transcendental sound, and the meaning is to address the Supreme Lord. Our business is directly with the Supreme Lord. Impersonal feature of the Lord is just like the illumination of the lamp. The lamp is the more important thing.

You will gradually understand all these features of the Absolute Truth if you read Bhagavad-gita and adhere to the regulative principles#. If there is difficulty in understanding, you consult with Brahmananda, or still further you send your inquiry tome. Thank you very much for your letter. I hope this will meet you in good health.

Your ever well-wisher,

A.C. Bhaktivedanta Swami

#The four regulative principles prescribed by Srila Prabhupada are

  • No meat eating, including fish, eggs, onions and garlic
  • No intoxication including tea and coffee
  • No illicit sex
  • No gambling

Also Read

OM versus HARE KRISHNA – Which is Better?

“Mohan” is finally united with “Phoolkali” in Mathura

Mathura 2016.09.24 (VT): Elephant named Mohan is finally free form the torture of his previous owners who used him to beg around temple, as well as during marriage ceremonies. He was brought to the Elephant Conservation and Care Centre (ECCC) at Farah where he was welcomed by the female elephant named Phoolkali, who was freed from a circus. Phoolkali waived a flag towards Mohan to welcome him to the Centre.

Female elephant Phoolkali welcoming Mohan with a flag on which "FREEDOM" is written

Female elephant Phoolkali welcoming Mohan with a flag on which “FREEDOM” is written

South East Asia’s major NGO “Wild Life – SOS”, which is working for towards the rights of wild animals, freed Mohan from a village near Lucknow, after two years long legal battle. As soon as the NGO got the custody of Mohan, they brought him to ECCC where Phoolkali welcomed him with “freedom” written flag. One more elephant bythe name “Raju” too welcomed Mohan by hooting loudly.

Animal activist Dr. Yaduraj Kadpekar said that Mohan and Raju were captive of same person from the past five decades. The ex owner of these elephants killed their mother and abducted these elephants when they were children. Later on they were forced to beg in the villages around Lucknow.

Dr. Kadpekar further said that the ex-owner of Mohan and Raju used to chain them and beat them, which can be verified from the numerous wound marks on their bodies. Raju got freed in the year 2014, but Mohan took few more years to be freed. 55 years old malnourished Mohan never got adequate food also from his ex-owner.

Founder of “Wild Life-SOS” NGO Mr. Kartik Satya Narayan and Ms. Gita Sheshmani said that now Mohan can live with his 22 mates in the favourable environment. He will also be healthy soon under the guidance of experts from ECCC.

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Goons threatened Govardhan Sant to pay extortion or face slander

Govardhan 2016.09.24 (VT): Crime against Sants took a new face at Govardhan when some goons threatened Mahant Mahamandaleshwar Sanwaria Baba to pay extortion amount or face slander. The matter has already been reported at the Govardhan Police station, but even after no action from the past five days, Sants were forced to protests in front of the station, in which many locals also joined.

Sants and Mahant from Akhada Parishad staged a protest in front of Govardhan Police station because of the negligence from Police. They have also given a deadline of 72 hours for Police to take some action or else Sants from Ayodhya Chavani will run a movement against the Police.

Mahant Mahamandaleshwar Sanwaria Baba reported that on Sep 16 a person, who was the native from Mukharai, along with two of his associates, visited his Shri Radha Damodar Ashram. He asked Babaji to pay him Rs. 10,000 per month which he termed as “chauth” (tax), failing which he will deface the reputation of Babji and his ashram.

FIR was lodged by Babaji atthe Govardhan Police station on Sep 19 about the incident, and SSP Babloo Kumar along with CO of the area was also informed. SSP assured actions against the accused, but even after five days of reporting, no progress had been made by the Police. Waiting for some remedy, Sant community finally outburst with anger and Ashok Narayan Das (representative from Govardhan Nirvani Akhada Parishad) reached Police station.

Shri Narayan Das demanded instant action from the SO Arvind Kumar, but the SO replied that the investigation is on and results will be out soon. Shri das gave a deadline of 72 hours to Police to show some action or else a massive movement will be initiated by the Akhada Parishad in which sants from Mathura, Vrindavan, Barsana and even Ayodhya will fight for their rights.

Mahant Narayan Das Maharaj, Mahant Girish Das Maharaj from Tyagi Ashram, Mahant Ishwar Sharan das Maharaj of Tilpat Ashram, Raghav Das Maharaj, BJP City Head Siyaram Sharma, MLA from Youth Association Sushil Agarwal, City Head of Vishwa Hindu Parishad Manoj Sharma were also present along with Mahant Mahamandaleshwar Sanwaria Baba and Ashok Narayan Das.

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Grand celebration of Gurumat Samagam in Vrindavan

Vrindavan 2016.09.24 (VT): Gurumat Samagam was celebrated in a grand way at the Guru Nanak Teela Gurudwara. The Guru Nanak Teela is the only Gurudwara of Vrindavan. When Guru Nanak Dev, the founder of Sikhism came to Vrindavan, he took rest in a teela (mound). Later the mound was leveled with the ground, where a grand Gurudwara was built.

guru-nanak-tila-2

The Gurumat Samagam is organised to honour the Sikh Gurus. The Sikh community form across the country, Dharmaprachar Committee, Shiromani Gurudwara Organising Committee and Amritsar Sahib celebrated the event exuberantly on Thursday in the city.

Two days long festival was organised to celebrate the first enlightenment of Guru Granth Sahib concluded at 9 am on Thursday.  Non stop reading of the verses from Shri Guru Granth Sahib was carried out verses for two days, followed by kirtan and katha form the senior Sikh sants. During the end of the programme, all the participants performed “ardas” (prayers of Sikhs) cumulatively.

Langar (free food) was distributed among the large number of devotees, who participated in the festival for two days.  The celebration also included the cultural programmes which fascinated the devotees, besides a devotional environment was maintained.

Devotees from Gurudwara Bangla Sahib Delhi under the leadership of Baba Vachan Singh, Sardar Balvinder Singh from Dharmaprachar Committee, and devotees from round the country were present during the ceremony.

guru-nanak-tila-5

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A Divine Elixir

It is said that wherever Lord Rama’s glories are chanted, Hanuman goes to that place. Yesterday after Deity greeting I was chanting grs-with-chitraleka-and-kosha-rupa-after-classin my quarters in Dallas when I received a text message saying, “Chitralekha is speaking about Srila Prabhupada now.” I immediately left for the temple room, remembering Hanuman: Even though I am like a monkey—or my mind is like a monkey—I wanted to hear her speak about Prabhupada. And what I experienced was an unprecedented flow of divine nectar. I heard things about Srila Prabhupada that I had never heard before and had new deep thoughts and realizations about him. The talk was an elixir for my body, mind, and soul. It is now available on the ISKCON Dallas SoundCloud: https://soundcloud.com/premasindhu/hg-dharma-prabhu-sb-11743. Chitraleka’s talk follows a short class on Srimad-Bhagavatam.

Hare Krishna.

Yours in service,
Giriraj Swami

Pitiable condition of City Government Hospital

Mathura 2016.09.23 (VT): Last month’s raid from the then District Magistrate too didn’t caused much effect on the functioning of Mathura’s Government City Hospital. The situation remained the same even when the ADM went to inspect the hospital yesterday. Washrooms don’t have doors, and were stinking from miles as the last cleaning was done months back. Many doctors and support staffs were missing from the duty.

ADM (Revenue) Ravindra Kumar reached the City Hospital on Thursday morning 11:30 am for a surprise inspection and reached the male ward first, along with the CMS Dr. Amitabh Pandey. He met the patients first and took some feedback for the kind of facilities they are getting. Then as soon as he reached the washroom and saw its poor condition, Shri Kumar rebuked the concerned department for showing negligence for months.

A patient in female wards told Shri Kumar that the Doctor hasn’t visited from the past three days and that nurse is only doing the needful. Washrooms in female wards too had the deprived condition with the whole area stinking due to foul smell.

Seeing the crowd on the registration counter, ADM asked the hospital management to open one more counter to assist the patients and reduce the work load from the single registration staff. Dr. Anant Vyas was absent from his child care department. The compounder said that the doctor has gone to Child Development department, to which ADM said that no doctor should go out during OPD hours.

During the inspection, ADM found the pathology also full of dirt and waste, with used disposable syringe and cotton lying on floor openly. Later on, Shri Kumar found that Dr. Kumar was also absent from his room number 35, during OPD hours.

CMS said that two doctors and many support staff was absent yesterday due to which they have been issued a notice. On the information from ADM, District Magistrate Dr. Nitin Bansal has asked to cut the salary of those employees who were absent during duty hours.

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Tasting and Distributing Krishna Consciousness, Sunday Evening, September 18, Houston

Giriraj Swami and Anutama Prabhu spoke from Sri Caitanya-caritamrta, Adi-lila, 7.92.

adi-2-05-938x1377“Srila Bhaktisiddhanta Sarasvati Thakura explains in his Anubhasya, ‘A person who has attracted the attention of the spiritual master by his sincere service likes to dance and chant with similarly developed Krsna conscious devotees. The spiritual master authorizes such a devotee to deliver fallen souls in all parts of the world. Those who are not advanced prefer to chant the Hare Krsna mantra in a solitary place.’ Such activities constitute, in the language of Srila Bhaktisiddhanta Sarasvati Thakura, a type of cheating process in the sense that they imitate the activities of exalted personalities like Haridasa Thakura. One should not attempt to imitate such exalted devotees. Rather, everyone should endeavor to preach the cult of Sri Caitanya Mahaprabhu in all parts of the world and thus become successful in spiritual life. One who is not very expert in preaching may chant in a secluded place, avoiding bad association, but for one who is actually advanced, preaching and meeting people who are not engaged in devotional service are not disadvantages. A devotee gives the nondevotees his association but is not affected by their misbehavior. Thus by the activities of a pure devotee even those who are bereft of love of Godhead get a chance to become devotees of the Lord one day.” (Cc Adi 7.92 purport)

To download, right click and choose ‘Save As’.
Sunday-Program Talk by Giriraj Swami and Anutama Dasa

“Vanity Karma” ebook announcement

Bhaktivedanta Book Trust press release

The award-winning book Vanity Karma: Ecclesiastes, the Bhagavad-gita, and the meaning of life is now available as a high-quality ebook at the Kindle Store, on Google Play, and on iBooks.

What is life for? What may give it meaning? Does it have any meaning at all?

Such questions are independently explored both in the wisdom book Ecclesiastes and in the Bhagavad-gītā. In Vanity Karma, wisdom meets wisdom as these two perennial classics come together, uniting in a fascinating exploration.

Jayadvaita Swami, an American monk in the Indian tradition of Krishna spirituality, offers us a deep and authentic spiritual understanding that, we may find, can infuse our lives with meaning and with joy.

“As a scholar of Ecclesiastes, I am deeply impressed with his grasp of the book’s message. I enthusiastically recommend this book to all.” –Tremper Longman III, author of the New International Commentary on the book of Ecclesiastes

Vanity Karma is the winner of the 2016 Benjamin Franklin gold award given by the Independent Book Publishers Association for the year’s best book in the category “Religion.”

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Get it on Google Play

 

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Lohvan’s Government School is a shining example in itself

Mathura 2016.09.22 (VT): Indian Government has been trying from decade to improve the situation of Government school as well as to encourage people to send their kids in them. But nothing has been changed except the condition of Junior Government School at Atulya Gram, Lohvan, which is a shining example of how and what the Government should actually do.

When the parents are going away from the Government schools across India, the Raya Government Junior School have enrolled 61 new students to make a total strength of 50 students. To achieve this, the school Principal went from door to door of the village to motivate them to register their children in the school.

Principal Shri Kuldeep Saraswat also likes to see his school neat and clean for which he keep encouraging students and general staff. Apart from that, he also used a portion of his salary for the betterment of the school which is assisted by the teachers Sunita Kumari, Usha Devi, Babli Gautam, Renubala Gupta, Lata Rani, Laxmi Chaudhary and staff Manju Devi.

Principal Shri Kuldeep Saraswat and Teacher Ms. Reubala Gupta along with students and models of Arts & Science

Principal Shri Kuldeep Saraswat and Teacher Ms. Reubala Gupta along with students and models of Arts & Science

The school do a regular school assembly daily in the morning using mike system, followed by physical exercises, scout training, etc. Extra-curricular activities like rangoli competitions, essay writing competition, arts and science competitions etc. are organised from time to time in the school. Winners of these competitions also get a certificate along with reward from the school side, to keep them motivated.

The school walls are also painted with beautiful paintings and quotes to motivate for cleanliness. School also contributes in environment protection by planting trees from time to time beside educating the villagers about environment protection.

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Railbus service to resume between Mathura-Vrindavan

Vrindavan 2016.09.22 (VT): Rail department is working hard to get the Railbus service resumed between Mathura and Vrindavan, which stopped one and half years back. The department is fixing the railway tracks after which barricades will be installed on road-crossings, post which service will start again.

Railway barricades aregetting installed at three places between Mathura and Vrindavan viz. Shri Krishna Janmbhoomi railway line, masani road and Gandhi marg in Vrindavan. The installation work for the forst two places is in the final phase and will be completed soon.

The Railbus service between Mathuraand Vrindavan stopped on July 23 2015 due to technical faults, which increased trouble for daily passengers as well as for visitors. Since then the sants, elderly people and prominent personalities of Vrindavan were raising their voice to resume the service as soon as possible. MP Hema Malini also wrote a letter to CM Akhilesh Yadav and Central Railway MinisterSuresh Prabhu so that the service can be restarted.

Soon the railyway department got their instructions and the Railbus was sent to Izzatnagar for repairing. Apart from that, railways have also started to repair the 14kilometres long railway track between Mathur and Vrindavan. Velding and barricade installation work is in full swing these days on the railway track.

Service were halted earlier as well

This is not the first time that the Railbus servces has been stopped. There had been incidents in the past also when the service was stopped for technical faults.

The service first stopped on May 5 2011, but was resumed after repairing. Again on March 28 2014 the service were interrupted for short time. Later, on the services were stopped on May 3 2015 only to start again from July 20 same year. But the service again was stopped after three days on July 23 till date.

Now after the all round efforts, hopes have risen again that the service will begin again soon.

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Planning…

(Kadamba Kanana Swami, 29 April 2014, Radhadesh, Belgium, Srimad Bhagavatam 6.4.49-50)

kks japa walk

Our purpose is fixed and we should not let obstructing circumstances to block us permanently. Somehow or other, we must find a way to fulfill our purpose which is to chant sixteen rounds and to follow four regulative principles. This is our first austerity, to chant these rounds and to follow the principles.

But we also need support. It is not just a matter of the right frame of mind. It is also a matter of favourable conditions so that it becomes feasible and possible. One must protect our rounds. One must put other undesirable things out of one’s life and then focus on our japa, otherwise it is not going to happen. One cannot just think, “I’ll see how far I get today,” then there is a good chance that it will not work. So chanting sixteen rounds is about making an arrangement to chant sixteen rounds. That planning is actually so important!

It is not all about the mood and getting absorbed. That comes after. If the arrangement is wrong then how can you get absorbed? First the arrangement has to be in place then stage two comes, “How to get absorbed?” I find that the one thing which helps me is to read a little bit. It is not that we just get up and are immediately in the mood, “Okay, let’s get these rounds done! I’m up so let me quickly get stuck in then it is over,”

That is one way of chanting but another way is where we say, “Okay, I’ll read for five or ten minutes.” And I read until I come across something that strikes me and then I start chanting and that gives me some energy to get into the mood. Then the mood starts happening. Like that there are impetuses. Ālambham is there, the impetuses in spiritual life that help us to awaken our attraction for Krsna.

The Seven Female Qualities

The 7 female qualities Krishna mentions in Gītā 10.34 are:

1. Sri – Beauty
2. Kiriti – Celebrate-ability
3. Vak – Speech
4. Smrti – Thoughtfulness
5. Medha – Intelligence
6. Dhrti – patience
7. Ksama – forgiveness

Śrī – Beauty / Ornamentation

Everyone can see that women are more beautiful then men. Everyone can also see that they are much more ornament-able, and much more expert in ornamentation.

Men are also “attractive,” but male attractiveness doesn’t come so much from beauty as it comes from male qualities like strength, power, stability, reliability, bravery, etc.

Kīriti – Celebrate-ability / Fame

Everyone knows how easy it is to be carried away by thinking about, looking at, talking about and celebrating a woman. Even women spend most of their time thinking about and celebrating other women. This is why, for example, women are on the covers of most men’s magazines, and on the covers of most women’s magazines, too.

Vāk – Speech

Speech is the vehicle which expresses thought. This is why the god Brahmā (lit. “knowledge”) is so attracted to the goddess Vāk / Sarasvatī (lit. “speech”). Everyone can easily notice that women use words much more often and with much more finesse than men.

Smṛti – Memory / Thoughtfulness

Everyone can easily see that women remember details better than men – birthdays, etc. Another aspect of smṛti means not forgetting what is right and wrong. It is easy to see that women are much less dangerous and well-behaved then man. Criminals are primarily male. Another aspect of smṛti means being thoughtful of others.

Medhā – Intellect / Prudence

There are different types of intelligence. One is “wisdom” or “prudence.” Everyone can easily notice that women are far lass rowdy than men, and are less inclined to take risks. Another type of intellect is the ability to communicate: this was already covered by the concept of vāk (the ability to use words).

Men also have a type of intellect they excel in: decision making and giving commands. Thus we can all easily notice in society that women reflect more about things, contemplate and discuss more deeply – while men come to conclusions more easily and take more decisive actions on those conclusions.

Some people have difficulty accepting that this is the Vedic outlook about female intelligence. They should please refer to this article: According to the Veda, Are Women Less Intelligent than Men?

Dhṛti – Patience / Forbearance

Women have the forbearance to hold a child within their womb for nine months and then push it out into the world through an opening that is remarkably small for such a task. They also have the forbearance to deal with the needy (like children and husbands who don’t have patience to put their dirty socks in the right laundry bin, what to speak of doing laundry themselves).

Kṣamā – Forgiveness

Everyone can easily see that the vast majority of violence in the world is carried out by men. Women prefer to forgive and find ways to cooperate.

Does Every Woman Excel in These Seven? Does Every Man Lack Them?

No.

But nonetheless these seven are seen on average more prominently in women – and this is why Krishna says “I am the beauty, fame, speech, thoughtfulness, intellect, forbearance, and forgiveness of women.”

The physical body is a result of the mental body. We get female physical bodies as a result of having  primarily feminine qualities in our mental makeup. Visa versa for men. Not every woman is equally feminine. Not every man is equally masculine. Some people are in a borderline zone between the two and experience that their physical gender doesn’t perfectly match their mental self, or sometimes physically display both genders. But on average women definitely have more female qualities than men, and visa versa. That is why, on average, we find the seven excellent qualities mentioned here most naturally and fully manifest among women. And it is also why the divinities personifying these qualities are all goddesses, not gods.

Vraja Kishor das

www.VrajaKishor.com

Tagged: Men and Women, sexism, Women

Travel Journal#12.16: Czech Woodstock, Prague, Newcastle, Chester, Edinburgh

Dairy of a Traveling Sadhaka, Vol. 12, No. 16
By Krishna-kripa das
(August 2016, part two)
Czech Woodstock, Prague, Newcastle, Chester, Edinburgh
(Sent from Brooklyn, New York, on September 21, 2016)
Where I Went and What I Did
I traveled from the Baltic Coast to northern Czech Republic for the Trutnov Open Air Music Festival (Czech Woodstock), where Hare Krishna devotees share Krishna food, music, and wisdom with hundreds of people at a rock concert for three and a half days. Then I did harinama in Prague for one day. The next day I was held up uselessly at Gatwick Airport by immigration officials and missed the London harinama. I did salvage the day by going to Southall and getting my harmonium repaired for just the cost of the new reeds. The next three days I did harinama in Newcastle by myself, as well as attending the Wednesday evening kirtana and the Janmastami and Vyasa-puja ceremonies. I include inspiring notes on the Vyasa-puja offerings of the Newcastle devotees as well as some we read that day from the international Vyasa-puja book. I spent the weekend with Karsna Prabhu, Mother Aharada, and their son, Mark, doing harinama in Chester and attending their semimonthly program, which was also attended by two new people who came because of the harinama. The next week I finished out August, chanting in Newcastle on Monday and Wednesday, and going to Edinburgh Tuesday for harinama and our Tuesday evening program there.
The last half of August I was staying at many venues with no regular Bhagavatam classes, so I have notes on a recorded lecture by Srila Prabhupada and Bhakti Charu Swami. I have also an excerpt from the online journal of Satsvarupa Dasa Goswami and one of his books, and a couple quotes from Sadaputa Prabhu from his Mysteries of the Sacred Universe, which I proofread recently for its reprinting and which will soon be available from Amazon.com.
I would like to thank the Newcastle temple for their generous donation. Thanks to Karsna Prabhu and the Chester nama-hatta for their donation to cover my travel expenses from Newcastle to Chester and Lukas and the Gauranga Mantra Centre for their donation to cover my travel expenses from Newcastle to Edinburgh. Thanks to Rama Prasada Prabhu, Lotus, and Malini Devi Dasi of the Edinburgh congregation for their donations and Emma of the Chester nama-hatta for her donation. Thanks to Punya Palaka Prabhu for contributing to my travel to Trutnov for the Czech Woodstock. Thanks to the Indian tourist for his donation on Prague harinama. Thanks to JAS Musicals of Southall, who repaired my harmonium for only the cost of the three reeds that needed to be replaced. Thanks to Chand, Mark, and other devotees of the Chester nama-hatta for their pictures of our harinama there.
Itinerary
September 13–21: New York City Harinam
September 22–25: Philadelphia Harinamas and Ratha-yatra
September 25–mid November: New York City Harinama
Three days in mid November: Washington, D.C., Harinama
last two weeks November: North Florida
December: New York City Harinam
Trutnov Open Air Music Festival (Czech Woodstock) 2016
Like at the Polish Woodstock, Hare Krishna devotees are friends with the organizer of the Trutnov Open Air Music Festival (Czech Woodstock), and we have our own camp and our own stage, where we distribute Krishna prasadam (spiritual food) and Krishna kirtana (spiritual music). 

On our first harinama, we passed a vendor of flower crowns, and the devotees tried them on.

Here is our kirtana leader Nrsimha Caitanya Prabhu so decorated.
Also on our harinama was Ananta Gauranga Prabhu, who I know from his childhood in Alachua, his youth at Krishna House, and most recently from New York City Harinam, where he sang beautifully and played mrdanga for Rama Raya Prabhu’s harinama party.

The first night I was surprised to see one girl chanting and dancing in our tent named Eliska (in the center of the above picture), who I remembered from 2009. She and some high school friends really enjoyed chanting and dancing in the kirtana so much back then (https://youtu.be/bWcHj6U9ijM):

She had traveled to different parts of the world, attending the festival only once since then. She is a regular attender at Baladeva’s, Trutnov’s Hare Krishna restaurant. I told her to look out for the kirtana programs we have there during the year.

These two girls appeared so joyful to be chanting and dancing to the Hare Krishna kirtana.

The prasadam was wonderful as usual.

The samosas were very tasty.

They also had rice and sabji, raita, pasta salad, halava,and coconuts balls in three flavors.
As part of our scheduled program there was a question and answer session with a senior devotee who could not make it that day. I had figured they would just ask another senior devotee to do it, but they announced they would just continue chanting. I had already left the stage, thinking the chanting was over, so I decided to use the bathroom before returning for more kirtana. Before I could return to the stage one couple asked if I would answer some questions for them. They asked the meaning of Hare, Rama, and Krishna, and about the relationship between Hinduism and Hare Krishna. I explained the three names mean the spiritual energy of God, God, who is the source of all pleasure, and God, who is all-attractive, respectively. I explained we are a group within Hinduism that stresses the worship of Krishna. Although many gods are worshiped within Hinduism, the Bhagavad-gita stresses the worship of the Supreme Lord, Krishna, alone. I explained Srila Prabhupada’s analogy that you do not have to give money to the different ministers in the government for defense, education, health, etc. You simply pay your tax to the central government, and it is all distributed. In the same way, we do not need to worship the sun god, the moon god, the rain god, etc. We just have to worship the Supreme Lord. They recognized I had been coming for many years. I explained there is a lot of joy in the chanting, and we like to share it with others. As they were from Prague, I gave them an invitation to our temple and restaurant there, which they were happy to receive. I was glad to answer their questions, especially as I thought the question and answers session was a good idea, and it should not have been skipped. 
I talked to a lady who had an interest in meditation. She has taught local Czech politics at a university in Prague for nine years. I explained that the chanting we do is a kind of meditation, and that if she liked it, she could attend our Wednesday programs at our Govinda’s restaurant in Prague. She danced to our kirtanas on at least a couple of occasions, looking very joyful.
I have many video clips of people chanting Hare Krishna and dancing with the devotees. Although these people are not yet serious about completely dedicating their lives to spiritual advancement, whatever chanting and hearing of the holy name of the Lord they do is very good for them. While viewing these videos keep in mind that Srimad-Bhagavatam (6.2.14) states, “One who chants the holy name of the Lord is immediately freed from the reactions of unlimited sins, even if he chants indirectly [to indicate something else], jokingly, for musical entertainment, or even neglectfully. This is accepted by all the learned scholars of the scriptures.” So these people are becoming more and more pious and gradually becoming eligible to perform devotional service to the Supreme Lord with determination in the future and attain love for God, the goal of life. 
The first two days of the four-day festival, the Harinama Ruci traveling sankirtana party chanted in town of Trutnov (both on the streets and outside, and even inside, the bars and restaurants), from the town to the festival site, and at the festival site itself. We often tried to encourage the people we met to chant the Hare Krishna one word at a time, and sometimes we were very successful and sometimes less so
Because of a change in the price structure, fewer people came to the festival this year, about 6,000 instead of 18,000. Thus Harinama Ruci left early to chant in Prague on the final day. Although it would have been fun to go with them, I wanted to participate in our program at Trutnov.
There are many people who visit our Krishna tent at Trutnov every day to experience our Krishna food and Krishna music. For most of them, it is their only contact with Krishna consciousness the whole year, and it is an important part of the festival for them. Although their level of commitment is not comparable to those who adopt more of the spiritual practices we follow, still they need to be encouraged in whatever they can do, and we play a role there in encouraging them.
In different parts of the world we have festivals where devotees can go, like the Sadhu Sanga festival in America or the Bhakti Sangam festival in Ukraine, and become inspired. Our Krishna Camp at Trutnov is for these people with a just little initial attraction to Krishna, their Sadhu Sanga festival, and it is important we provide it to give them an opportunity for spiritual association. Otherwise all there is at these concerts is sex, drugs, and rock and roll, from which even those successful at them say, you “can’t get no satisfaction.”
In the afternoon, persons willing to hear and dance with our chanting were fewer and far between, but the devotees were still enthusiastic (https://youtu.be/1NfxORBnIrY):
Our special guest this year was Bhakti Gauravani Goswami, originally Vedavyasa Prabhu, a German BBT translator, who has taken sannyasa and is preaching in Spain recently. Here he led kirtana the first evening (https://youtu.be/Kk6pllXTAhs):
Evening kirtanas with Nrsimha Caitanya Prabhu (https://youtu.be/N9ItPdD-nr4):
Evening kirtanas with Dhruva Maharaja Prabhu from Slovakia (https://youtu.be/q6AO_rjzrcQ):
I took some pictures in the evenings with my phone, which has a light, to illuminate some of the enthusiastic dancers to our kirtanas.
Nrsimha Caitanya Prabhu began leading our first evening kirtanas on the first day of the Czech Woodstock (https://youtu.be/tYRqrw6ww9M):
The second evening we had the most participants dancing to our kirtana (https://youtu.be/8ECDfxVsQXQ):
Here is a kirtana on the final evening, to a smaller, but still enthusiastic crowd (https://youtu.be/CcLDVm5Q0Ag):
Thanks to all the devotees whose cooperation made it possible to share Krishna music and Krishna food with hundreds of people at Trutnov, the Czech Woodstock.
Janmastami in Newcastle
At the Newcastle Janmastami festival, I was not doing so well because of the fast, and tiredness from travel, and thus it was hard to appreciate. I was also frustrated that no one wanted to chant with me in public due to unfortunate circumstances. There was dance, drama, and kirtana as usual. Bhakti Rasa Prabhu spoke nicely.
Vasheel led a lively late night Janmastami kirtana at ISKCON Newcastle, getting the devotees dancing (https://youtu.be/wzq4pIemgLU):
I was satisfied with the feast.
Notes on the Vyasa Puja Offerings in the Vyasa-puja Book
In our Newcastle Vyasa-puja service we read a few offerings from favorite senior devotees from the international Vyasa-puja book.
Bhakti Caitanya Swami:
Srila Prabhupada taught that association with the pure devotee is not as valuable as service to the pure devotee. By serving Srila Prabhupada we attain love for Krishna.
Jayapataka Swami:
Lord Caitanya delivered people in India but engaged His commander-in-chief devotee, Srila Prabhupada, in delivering people in remote places.
Notes on Vyasa Puja Offerings in Newcastle
Several devotees mentioned they especially like Srila Prabhupada’s Vyasa-puja because they get to hear the inspiring realizations of their friends about Srila Prabhupada’s mercy.
Kirtida Devi Dasi:
I am glad to be here and reflect on my relationship with you and to hear the appreciations of the other devotees.
ISKCON is a vehicle through which you expressed your devotion to your guru, the line of teachers, and Krishna.
ISKCON is the people who make it up.
Please help me to be a solution to any problems I may find in ISKCON and not add to them.
Bhakti Rasa Prabhu:
ISKCON is your Krishna’s mercy distribution network.
Markandeya Prabhu spoke at a program attended by Mahakrama Prabhu, who suffering from throat cancer. Turns out Markandeya Prabhu had recovered from that kind of cancer and was very sympathetic to Mahakrama Prabhu’s condition. Although the odds were against it, in your ISKCON society, such a meeting was possible.
Vrinda Devi Dasi:
I think by your mercy, everything that is not possible will become possible for us.
When I thought of all you have done for us, I tried again to distribute a book on sankirtana although previously I was unsuccessful, and I succeeded.
Vasheel:
Thank you for being there for all us fallen souls.
I appreciate your simplicity. To someone who said, “I am God,” you once said, “You are dog.” Later the man thanked you.
Madhuri Devi Dasi:
Just because I have not met you personally does not mean I cannot have a personal relationship with you, so I decided to start with this offering.
Traveling in American recently, I was away from home, and I was thinking about how you were away from home all alone there in New York City.
In that foreign place what was most familiar to me was the devotees, who I am connected with because of you.
Let this movement of Krishna bhakti spread through my heart.
Gauridas Pandit Prabhu:
I visited Sweden. In a country with a different culture I felt out of place until entered the Stockholm temple. There everything was familiar to me. The devotees were so kind. It was like I was going from one home to another.
Radha Shyam Prabhu:
Your conversation with Bob Cohen [in Perfect Questions, Perfect Answers] struck many chords with me.
Although I am not reading your books at present, they have permanently changed my life.
It is rare to find anyone with a passion for anything, what to speak of a passion for benefiting humanity with spiritual enlightenment.
Varsha:
Hearing from your disciples about their interactions with you, I felt bad I missed your association, but then I considered at least I had the association of those who had your association.
Vrishni:
You came on a boat to America with nothing but your own love for Krishna and your desire to spread Lord Caitanya’s message.
Jagannathesvari Devi Dasi:
“All glories to the moons, who are devotees of the principal moon, Lord Caitanyacandra! Their bright moonshine illuminates the entire universe.” (Sri Caitanya-caritamrita, Adi-lila 13.5) This verse always reminds me of you. 
Ramai Prabhu:
The whole world is indebted to you for teaching the purpose to life.
Those who have taken up the chanting can realize the depth of it.
It is a miracle that you have spread this chanting to so many parts of this world.
You have freely given a way of life so that everyone can be happy.
Ram Rao’s wife, Indira:
Everything you have given is for my heart’s content. Please accept my gratitude.
Anu:
Thank you for giving us ISKCON. I think this is my real family.
Gopal:
In 1973 or 1974 was in Gujarat and looking for a job at the time. I saw devotees setting up for a program. I helped Srila Prabhupada spread a carpet on the stage for it. More devotees came. I chanted with them. Soon after that my life improved. I got good employment. Whenever I feel lonely, I think of the experience with Srila Prabhupada, and I feel ananda [spiritual pleasure]. Ananda has no opposite.
Krishna-kripa Das:
Srila Prabhupada wrote in a letter to Sudama, December 23, 1972:
“Yes, from the very beginning I went to New York because I thought that Krishna Consciousness is the most important idea in the world, so let me go to that place, New York, which is the most important city in the world, and if I am able to do anything for Krishna and my Spiritual Master, even I am at the fag-end of my life, at least let me try for it there. So my dreams have all come true, and all of you nice boys and girls are getting the credit. When I was alone in your New York, I was thinking, who will listen to me in this horrible, sinful place? All right, I shall stay little longer, at least I can distribute a few of my books, that is something. But Krishna was all along preparing something I could not see, and He brought you to me one by one, sincere American boys and girls, to be trained-up for doing the work of Lord Caitanya Mahaprabhu. Now I can see that it is a miracle. Otherwise, your city of New York, one single old man, with only a few books to sell for barely getting eatables, how he can survive, what to speak of introducing God-consciousness movement for saving the humankind? That is Krishna’s miracle. Now I can see it.”
Srila Prabhupada was successful because of his amazing faith, and what was that faith?
Faith in his guru and his guru’s order:
(1) preach in the West
(2) if you get money, print books
(3) cooperate
Faith in parampara, the lineage of spiritual teachers:
(1) faith in their message
(2) faith in their desire to spread the chanting all over the world

Faith in the holy name:

(1) Simply by chanting 16 rounds of the Hare Krishna mantra on beads and giving up the four sinful acts in one life anyone, no matter their background, can become pure enough to go back to the spiritual world.
Newcastle Harinamas
I saw two women of the same age walking together, one pushing an old lady in a wheelchair and the other pushing a young kid in a stroller. It reminded me of how at both the beginning and the end of our lives, we are helpless and have to take the help of others. Such are the limitations of our temporary material bodies. If I was not busy chanting, I would have taken a picture of that striking image.
After our Vyasa-puja program in Newcastle I took a nap and went on harinama from 8–10 p.m. Following the advice of a sanitation worker I encountered on the way downtown, I sat on the sidewalk between the parking lots and The Gate, which claims to be “Newcastle’s premier leisure and entertainment centre.” As I watched the people walk past, it occurred to me that the difference between me and them was Srila Prabhupada’s mercy. Over seven people said Hare Krishna to me, four danced, one had a picture taken with me, an Indian couple who went to our Juhu temple I encouraged to visit our place in Newcastle, one guy, who gave a donation, chose Beyond Birth and Death when I offered him a book, and another guy happily told me he was already up to page 70 in Nectar of Instruction. Pointing to his beer can, he said was not fully enlightened yet, but he was on the path. I told him to read every day and his life would be transformed. He believed it. All glories to Srila Prabhupada!
Harinama in Chester
On my way to Chester, I stopped at the ticket office at Manchester Piccadilly. I did not have the debit card I used to book my ticket from Edinburgh to Newcastle, so I could not pick up my ticket from the automatic ticket machines but had to go to the counter. In the course of my conversation with the man behind the counter, he asked if I was a Hare Krishna. Then he said, “Gaur . . . and be happy.” I said, “Oh, Gauranga!” “What does that mean?” he asked, “Something about being happy?” “Oh, Gauranga is a name of God,” I replied. “He is a special incarnation of God who came to give the highest spiritual ecstasy to the most unqualified people, and that is a cause of happiness!” I asked how he knew about the name Gauranga, and he explained that when he was in high school many years ago a Hare Krishna devotee sold him some books.

Karsna Prabhu, Aharada Devi Dasi, and Mark of Chester are my favorite harinama family. It is not so often that both parents and the kids go on harinama. 


In Chester there are many people on the streets, and although there is often too much competition with other musicians, it was not so bad this time.

We chanted on Saturday for three hours in downtown Chester, accompanied by Alan, the main leader of our Liverpool nama-hatta and Kamalaksi Devi Dasi, the nice Indian lady who cooks for that program. 

The next day we chanted for two and a half hours with Chand and his wife (not in picture), daughter, and son. The second day two older ladies came by independently of each other, and both were attracted enough to attend our semiweekly program that night. One had a serious interest in yoga and different religions, and I would not be surprised if we see her again.   

After the Chester program, on my way home to Newcastle I chanted outside Liverpool Lime Street train station for half an hour. While there a guy came up to me and showed me a 20 pence coin saying, “I will give you this if you promise to be quiet for 30 seconds while I walk past.” I smiled, said “OK,” and accepted the coin. It seemed inauspicious to abandon chanting altogether just to please a demonic living entity, so I chanted my mind for 30 seconds before continuing out loud with my harmonium and amplifier after the man had passed. That had never happened before.
Harinama in Edinburgh
Although I had done five times as many books and collected five times as much in Newcastle the previous day, in Edinburgh my presence made a difference in the life of one high school graduate, who was half way through reading Easy Journey to Other Planets. He wanted another book. I recommended Sri Isopanisad as two days before Alan of Liverpool had told me he had become convinced by reading it, and therefore, I was reminded of how nice it was. The young man decided to choose Chant and Be Happy instead because he was a musician and he had a love for George Harrison. He took down the details of our Edinburgh Gauranga Mantra Centre and said he would try to come next Tuesday.
The Edinburgh nama-hatta attenders are participatory, cooperative, and charitable, and there are often some new people at the meetings. I am always encouraged to go there, and I look forward to returning next year, God willing.
An Odd Picture
After chanting downtown for 2 hours in the evening on Vyasa-puja day, I was walking up the hill to the Newcastle temple, and I saw this sign. I felt I had to take a picture of it.
Balaji in Tirupati, Andhra Pradesh, is one of the most famous and popular deities of Lord Krishna in India, and certainly one of those receiving the greatest contributions.


Here in Newcastle-upon-Tyne, however, the glorious transcendental name of Balaji is associated with beers and spirits, and “off-licence.” 


If you are non-British, you may wonder, as I did, what does “off-licence” mean? Apple’s dictionary says, “A store selling alcoholic beverages for consumption elsewhere.” Such is the degradation of this age!

To see pictures I did not include, click on the link below:
Insights
Srila Prabhupada:
From a class on Srimad-Bhagavatam  1.8.41 in Mayapur on October 21, 1974:
Traditionally sannyasa is meant for the brahmanas. We agree, but for those who are brahmana by qualities, not by birth.
We do not claim the position of Vaishnava but rather we wish to remain the servant of the Vaishnava.
There are four divisions of sannyasa, kuticaka, when one lives outside the village but receives food from home, bahudaka, when one begs door to door, parivrajakacarya, when one preaches from country to country, and paramahamsa, when one sits in one place absorbed in Krishna consciousness.
The whole process is detachment from family, community, etc.
We do not approve of nationalism, but instead we are creating internationalism.
Just as we cannot create our own laws but have to follow the laws given by the state, we have to follow the laws given by God and not act according to our own whims. Dharma is that law given by God, but we have created so many dharmas.
Gold is gold. There are not different kinds of gold. There is 14-karat gold, and 20-karat gold, but pure gold is one. In the same way, we are preaching pure religion, not religion adulterated by so many other things.
We have no other business than to follow the laws of God.
God is real, and anything in connection with God is real, otherwise it is all imitation.
We killing the demons by giving them the Hare Krishna mantra, which purifies them, so their demonic activities are stopped.
Whatever is done is done, but we must stop our demonic activities.
Satsvarupa dasa Goswami:
From a “Poem to Radha-Govinda” posted on Facebook on August 24, 2016:
“Radha-Govinda reciprocate with me.
Radha-Govinda taste the sweetness
of conjugal love.  They exchange it in
sidelong glances.
They taste it in
kisses and embraces.
And share it
with Their innumerable devotees.
Anyone can become
Their associate by following
in the footsteps of
the gopis, or accepting
a pure devotee
in disciplic succession
as the spiritual master. 
The spiritual master initiates one
into the Hare Krishna mantra,
which is made up of the names
of Radha and Krishna.
He teaches Bhagavad-gita
and Srimad-Bhagavatam,
and instructs
the disciple on how
to worship the Deity.
Vande guroh sri-
caranaravindam.
From Begging for the Nectar of the Holy Name:
“Srila Rupa Gosvami says in Upadesamrta that although at present we don’t taste the sweetness of the holy name due to jaundice (avidya), the holy names are so wonderful that by repeatedly chanting them, the taste will return. This statement is not Rupa Gosvami’s imagination. The chanting is very wonderful, it does have a sweet taste, and we will attain it. Therefore, we will show our belief in the statement by acting on the basis of it. We will go on chanting.”
  
Bhakti Charu Swami:
From a lecture at Croatia Seminar 2016:
“Why did Krishna create this universe?” In that respect we can consider two explanations. One is a prison house, where the criminals are being corrected. A prison house is actually a reform house, meant for correcting our perverted mentality. Our mentality has become perverted, so there is a need to create this prison house. So Krishna has created this prison house, where the criminals are being punished to eventually understand what they should do. Now, sometimes some people find this quite shocking, “This material nature is a prison house? I am a prisoner? What’s wrong with you! I think I am the most decent and honest person.” So if we have some reservation or reluctance in accepting that concept, then let’s consider the other explanation. The child wants to play with his friends in the park. So the child says, “Daddy! Daddy! I want to go to the park.” The father says, “Okay, come”, and he takes the child to the park. And coming to the park, the child is completely lost in the games with his friends. When he is winning in the game, he is happy. When he is losing, he is sad. That’s the game. And he completely forgot about the father. While the child is playing in the park, the father is sitting there on a bench and watching the child. Then the child becomes afraid. All his friends have left, it became dark, so the child calls out, “Daddy, where are you?” So then the father comes, picks him up and says, “Come, let’s go.” So, in a way, our situation is like that. We are a bunch of kids who wanted to play, and coming to the playground, meeting our friends, we are completely immersed in play. In the course of our game some are our friends and some are our enemies. Those who are playing in my favor, they are my friends. Those who are opposing me, they are my enemies. In this way, in this field, we are creating duality. We are so lost that we have no time to think about the Father. But then, at some point, when we turn to the Father and say, “Daddy, where are you?”, then He comes and picks us up and says, “Come, let’s go home.”
Sadaputa Prabhu:
From Mysteries of the Sacred Universe (p. 170):
“According to the Bhagavatam, God simultaneously spans all scales of size from largest to smallest. God also defines space rather than existing within it as an object among other objects. The space thus defined involves unlimited scales and dimensions, and it is not limited to the three-dimensional Euclidian continuum. However, it does include this continuum. Indeed, it contains many three-dimensional continua.”
“This system of thought rules out the kind of comprehensive model of reality that we are familiar with in the West. Rather, it lends itself to multiple models that represent different aspects of an inconceivable total reality.”
—–
The verse reassures us that even if people chant without proper understanding they still benefit greatly from it.
yathagadam viryatamam
 upayuktam yadrcchaya
ajanato ’py atma-guṇam
 kuryan mantro ’py udahrtah
“If a person unaware of the effective potency of a certain medicine takes that medicine or is forced to take it, it will act even without his knowledge because its potency does not depend on the patient’s understanding. Similarly, even though one does not know the value of chanting the holy name of the Lord, if one chants knowingly or unknowingly, the chanting will be very effective.” (Srimad-Bhagavatam 6.2.19)

Cucumbers!

img-20160904-wa00001This beautiful and animated pastel drawing of Lord Caitanya and His associates was given to me by a very talented devotee. She came to our kirtan the other night, and when it came time to pass out the delicious looking sweets at the end, in a joking mood I asked all the devotees if there was anyone who was not attracted to eating any of them. To my surprise thos mataji raised her hand and replied that she was not. I asked her what it was then that she was attracted to eating, and she said, “Cucumbers!” Everyone laughted, but afterwards when they were relishing all those tasty sweets, she looked even more happy honoring that entire plate of cucumbers that we had presented to her.  She came up to me later, thanked me for the cucumbers, and she told me that we had met about 40 years ago in San Diego before she joined the movement.

She had been kicked out of her house, was very hungry, and was looking everywhere for food. I invited her to the temple to have some prsadam, she gratefully accepted, loved everything about the temple, and soon joined the movement. She was overjoyed and very thankful that we met in Vrndavana after so many years and  came back a few days later to present me with that captivating pastel of Lord Caitanya that she had just drawn.

It is wonderful to see how Krsna reciprocates with His devotees. I had the fortune of being able to give Lord Caitanya to her and now she has also given Him to me.

Gunagrahi Das

Durban, September 2016

Written by Ragalekha dd

Those who have known Kadamba Kanana Swami over the years were accustomed to his hectic schedule. Often one would be trying to catch their breath in between attending multiple programs a day. However, things have changed drastically now. Maharaj continues in recovery mode and in the week after Radhastami, there were just three programs!

First was the Sunday Love Feast (11 September). The program began with the weekly practice of reciting a chapter of Bhagavad-gita and on that day it was Chapter 17: The Divisions of Faith. This set the tone for the lecture where Maharaj spoke at length about the modes of material nature. A barrage of questions came through at the end to which Maharaj gave very practical answers. The program ended with Guru Puja and a lively kirtan.

During the week, Maharaj gave one morning lecture based on Srimad Bhagavatam and on Friday (16 September), he was the special guest at a nama-hatta program held at the Kendra Hall, a Gujarati community centre in the city. There were many new-comers present and Maharaj spoke about the saintly person and how the saintly person is always fulfilled as he has internal happiness; he has strong conviction in God and therefore experiences the spiritual dimension!

Last week, the TOVP team also visited Durban to promote their fund-raising endeavour. On Wednesday, 14 September, Jananivasa Prabhu (Mayapur Head Pujari) and Vraja Vilasa Prabhu arrived. Kadamba Kanana Swami and Jananivasa Prabhu greeted each other in Srila Prabhupada’s room at the temple and on one of the days, they had lunch prasadam together. Ambarish Prabhu and Svaha Mataji arrived a few days later and so did Agnidev Prabhu!

As we reported already, Kadamba Kanana Swami had his six-monthly medical screening and the results were good. We remain cautiously excited and continue in our prayers for him…

We having some technical challenges with our recording device hence the delay in posting recent recordings. We are working on it! Thank you for your patience.

Visit Flickr to see more photos. 

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ISKCON Gears Up for Karttika

Vrindavan 2016.09.21 (Deen Bandhu Das): Kartika is glorified in the Puranas as very special for making spiritual advancement and the best place to be in Kartika is Sri Braja Dham. In fact this month is known as Damodar, since in the middle of this month, the Lord performed His very enchanting Damodar Lila. Kartika month also represents Radharani, and devotees perform special austerities to gain Her favor.

With great happiness in our hearts, we invite everyone to join in the auspicious Kartika Festival in Vrindavan from the 16th of October to! 4th of November. ISKCON is arranging a wonderful variety of parikramas to the Holy Places of Krishna’s pastimes in Braja for all of you.
This year marks the 30th anniversary of the Sri Vraja Mandala Parikrama by foot organized by HH Lokanatha Swami. Deena Bandhu and senior devotees will be taking out bus parikramas to the lila-sthalis of Vraja! HH Indradyumna Maharaja will also be hosting bus parikramas. Various ISKCON Temples in India, will also be bringing their congregation devotees for bus parikramas of Braja Bhumi.

Sri Vraja Mandala Parikrama will take around 2,000 devotees on foot down the dusty paths of Vraja and camp out at various places for one full month. HH Lokanatha Swami, HH Radharaman Swami, and various other senior devotees will be giving katha in the various destinations. Everyone who has participated finds that it is one of the most rewarding experiences in their life. For those not
so hardy to walk or camp out, they also have a shuttle service to take devotees to the various destinations and return to Vrindavan in the evening. For more information and to signup: http://www.vrajamandalaparikrama.com

Sri Sri Krishna Balaram Mandir Karttika Parikramas going by bus will be lead by Deena Bandhu dasa and other senior Vaishnavas. Leaving early in the morning, the devotees will travel by bus to different Holy Places. Then by foot they will visit the different lila places, taking breakfast along the way. Deena
Bandhu dasa’s lively narration have become world famous for bringing Radha Krishna’s pastimes to life. The buses will return for lunch to Vrindavan. For more information one can approach the Welcome Center at ISKCON Vrindavan: +918126698702 (Laksmipriya dd) or <wc.vrindavan@gmail.com>. The schedule of parikramas can be found at: http://www.dandavats.com/?p=31491

The Kartika Parikrama of Indradyumna Maharaja and HG Badahari dasa usually go to one place each and have extensive kirtan and katha and then returning in the evening. They will also have a trip to Jaipur for few days in between the Vraja Parikramas. For more information and registration: http://www.kartikparikrama.com/#top

For those living in major ISKCON Temples in India, you may contact your respective temples to know information about their Vraja Parikrama programs.

With straw in our teeth and humbly falling at your feet, we beg all of those organizing parikramas to please, please, please refrain from using plastic plates and cups! It is heart breaking to see this ugly pollution of our Holy Dhama. Leaf plates (pattal), leaf cups(dona), and paper cups are readily available in Vrindavan!

Just after Diwali, 4th of November is the 39th Annual Disappearance Day Festival of His Divine Grace A.C. Bhaktivedanta Swami Prabhupada. We extend a warm invitation to all to come and commemorate this sacred occassion with us in Sri Vrindavan, where His Divine Grace is sitting in Samadhi. Leading up to this day, every evening, senior disciples will be relating their memories of Srila Prabhupada. One day
before on 3rd November, we will take Srila Prabhupada in the very same palanquin from 1977 for a grand Sankirtan Procession past all the Goswami temples in Vrindavan.

The post ISKCON Gears Up for Karttika appeared first on Vrindavan Today.

Important Questions About Gurus

Q: You mentioned in your video, diksha refers to getting the mantra and shiksa refers to getting instructions on how to chant it…

Dīkṣā means acceptance into the educational process (aka “sādhana”) of a given school. This acceptance is accomplished by giving the student the school’s study materials (mantra and śāstra)

Q: We already got the mantra from some devotee, we may not even remember whom. Would a formal initiation ceremony benefit us?

Hearing a mantra from someone on the sidewalk is a haphazard dīkṣā at best. Real dīkṣā should be intentional. The person giving it should be recognized by the school as worthy of evaluating whether a candidate is worthy of being inducted into the school. And the induction should be done deliberately. Giving of the mantras (etc) are the process to accomplish this induction. Just hearing a mantra doesn’t mean I am inducted into the school that uses the mantra, but induction into a school will involve being given their mantra. So “a includes b, but b does not always include a.” (where “a” is the acceptance into a spiritual school, and “b” is the bestowal of their mantras, etc)

Q: Siksha guru plays more significant role than diksha guru.

Sometimes yes. Sometimes no. Generally its best if the dīkṣā guru is also the primary śīkṣā guru.

Q: In the current scenario, the siksha gurus who guide us daily are mostly not authorized by the ISKCON institution to give diksha. In this case, should one aspire to receive dīkṣā initiation from the diksha guru of one’s siksha guru, based on the assumption that since his siksha guru is so great, the diksha guru must be great as well – because a deer cannot give birth to a lion?

If you feel that a person represents a school very authentically and deeply, but there is some branch of that school that does not agree and therefore does not authorize that person to accept inductees on their behalf, then you should figure out of either your opinion of the merit of that person is wrong, or your opinion of the value of that branch of the school is wrong. One or the other is wrong. If you decide that the branch is wrong, then leave the branch. If you decide the person is wrong, leave the person.

Q: The diksha gurus authorized by ISKCON are often too busy having thousands of disciples, and may not have time to talk to his disciples directly. Most of the instruction comes through others, the councillors or siksha gurus. In such a situation, how will the formalities of initiation help a practicing devotee?

If the dīkṣā guru is authorized by an empowered branch of the school to accept you as a member of the school, then you are accepted. And the dīkṣā guru would then assign you to an appropriate śīkṣā guru, and would not interfere with the instruction you receive there, knowing his practical limitations. If he does not put you in the care of a śikṣā guru or does not allow that śīkṣā guru to perform his or her role, then the dīkṣā guru was accepted mistakenly, for they are not sincere and do not desire to benefit the disciple. They should be renounced if they persist in this behavior.

Q: Can one person have more than one guru?

An individual should accepted into one school, or at least one at a time. It generally difficult to attend two schools simultaneously. Therefore there should be need for only one successful dīkṣā per school – so, basically there should only be one dīkṣā guru. But everyone in the universe and everything should become our śikṣā guru. We should have multiple śīkṣā gurus, but there should be order and priority. The dīkṣā guru would ideally be the main śīkṣā guru. Others further along in our own school are other high-priority śīkṣā gurus. Others from other schools, or just random people and animals are also śīkṣā gurus, but their teachings are understood in context of the teachings of the higher-priority śikṣā gurus.

Śrī Krishna Dās Kavirāja therefore says, “vande ‘haṁ śrī guroḥ, śrī guruṁ vaiṣṇavamś ca” which means “Obeisance to my guru (singular, dīkṣā guru), and also to my gurus (plural, śikṣā gurus), the Vaiṣṇavas (the highest-priority śikṣā gurus).

Tagged: diksha guru, Guru, siksa guru