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The Power Of Association

Japa Group - Mon, 2015-06-22 18:07
The analogy is that if a single stick is bent then it will break but with a bunch of sticks together there is no question of them breaking. The same goes with association, when we associate with each other in a Krsna conscious way, then we are strong together and help each other to make advancement.
Categories: Personal Blogs

Reminder

Seed of Devotion - Mon, 2015-06-22 14:33
I rarely listen to live recorded kirtans. It's just not my thing for a variety of reasons. Nevertheless, there are some live recordings that I listen to at times, and one particular kirtan I listen to is when I myself have lead the kirtan. This particular kirtan that I lead was about four years ago, and I had hosted Wednesday gurukuli bhajans at my home for my birthday.

Now, you may think this conceited of me. I listen to myself sing?

I'm having a difficult time in my life right now - where to go next in life? I'm facing pain and bewilderment and fear. Once again, I have found myself listening to this kirtan from four years ago.

I've been a little mystified why I'm listening to it, a little shy that someone would walk by my room and hear me listening to myself! But this morning I realized that I go back to listen to this kirtan when I am having a particularly difficult time in life - I'm struggling with my life situation, I'm facing issues of self-doubt and hurt and pain, or I'm simply unhappy. I realized that when I am singing the holy name is when I am the most happy and peaceful. I can hear it, I can feel it.

Four years ago I wasn't necessarily happier in life, in fact I was also going through a tough time. But at the time when I sang this kirtan, everything melted away. All that existed was pure joy and connection with others.

When I listen to this recording, there's a part of me that is longing to experience the peace and joy that I can hear so clearly. It's a reminder that I have been and can be happy and connected.

And of course, the holy name is always accessible, always ready to dance upon my tongue if only I let Him. Sometimes I find it hard to muster up any sincerity at all to even chant so I resort to simply hearing, and hope blossoms in my heart once again.


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Categories: Personal Blogs

The prayers of Prahlad

(Kadamba Kanana Swami, 02 May 2015, Simhachalam, Germany, Nrshima Caturdasi Morning Lecture)

Transcribed by Tattvavati dd

om ajnana-timirandhasya jnananjana-salakaya
caksur unmilitam yena tasmai sri-gurave namah

When Srila Prabhupada was lecturing on the appearance day of Lord Nrsimhadev in Bombay, he was lecturing immediately after a play and he was glorifying Hiranyakasipu because the part was played so well. Then he explained more about the pastimes of Lord Nrsimhadev and at the end he said, “If I had more time, I would have spoken about the prayers of Prahlad.” These prayers of Prahlad were particular favourites of Srila Prabhupada and in a sense, the most important, because Prahlad is a devotee and we are following in his footsteps and are trying to be devotees of the Lord. Therefore, in these prayers, when Prahlad is praying from his position as a devotee, these are especially relevant for us. Of course, when we hear about Hiranyakasipu, we realize that there is a little Hiranyakasipu in us too! So every aspect of the pastime has its relevance but still, because Prahlad is a devotee, we want to give some special attention to his words.

So, I shall start with a very short introduction. The situation was that Lord Nrsimhadev´s anger had been aroused by Hiranyakasipu. Lord Nrsimhadev’s anger was so extreme and so strong that it was still raging even after Hiranyakasipu had been killed. This whole pastime took place in the celestial regions and the demigods who were present felt the incredible, overwhelming anger! Due to the heat of that anger, they felt thrown back and they were just overwhelmed by fear and by no means could they go near the Lord. Even Laxmi Devi did not dare go near the Lord but for another reason. Laxmi Devi had never seen this form of the Lord and because Her chastity is to the Lord Visnu, She had some doubt whether She was really dealing with Lord Visnu. So, even Laxmi did not appear before the Lord. No one could. Lord Brahma could not, Lord Siva could not. None of the demigods could possibly go near the Lord!

So Lord Brahma pushed Prahlad forward and said, “Well, He appeared because of you, so you go and pacify Him!” Well, it does not look very heroic when you shove a five year-old boy forward like, “You go and deal with Him!” (Laughter)

No, we should not take it in that way, we should see that Lord Brahma is most intelligent and therefore very deeply analysed the situation and also realized Prahlad is not just a five-year-old boy, he is extremely powerful – nothing could kill him, nothing could possibly kill Prahlad! So many attempts were made to kill him but nothing worked.

Then the Lord benedicted Prahlad and placed His lotus hand – I guess it is a hand or transcendental paws or whatever it was. He placed His hand on the head of Prahlad and then, it is said that Prahlad was purified, further purified from any possible influence of his demoniac birth and subsequently Prahlad started to offer prayers.

So after having offered various prayers, Prahlad comes to this prayer that I chose, (Srimad Bhagavatam 7.9.11)

naivātmanaḥ prabhur ayaṁ nija-lābha-pūrṇo
mānaṁ janād aviduṣaḥ karuṇo vṛṇīte
yad yaj jano bhagavate vidadhīta mānaṁ
tac cātmane prati-mukhasya yathā mukha-śrīḥ

Translation: The Supreme Lord, the Supreme Personality of Godhead, is always fully satisfied in Himself. Therefore when something is offered to Him, the offering, by the Lord’s mercy, is for the benefit of the devotee, for the Lord does not need service from anyone. To give an example, if one’s face is decorated, the reflection of one’s face in a mirror is also seen to be decorated.

And I will read Srila Prabhupada’s purport which is not so long:

In bhakti-yoga it is recommended that a devotee follow nine principles; śravaṇaṁ kīrtanaṁ viṣṇoḥ smaraṇaṁ pāda-sevanam/ arcanaṁ vandanaṁ dāsyaṁ sakhyam ātma-nivedanam (SB 7.5.23). This service of glorifying the Lord by hearing, chanting and so on is not, of course, meant for the benefit of the Lord; this devotional service is recommended for the benefit of the devotee. The Lord is always glorious, whether the devotee glorifies Him or not, but if the devotee engages in glorifying the Lord, the devotee himself automatically becomes glorious. Ceto-darpaṇa-mārjanaṁ bhava-mahā-dāvāgni-nirvāpaṇam (Siksastakam 1). By glorifying the Lord constantly, the living entity becomes purified in the core of his heart, and thus he can understand that he does not belong to the material world but is a spirit soul whose actual activity is to advance in Kṛṣṇa consciousness so that he may become free from the material clutches. Thus the blazing fire of material existence is immediately extinguished (bhava-mahā-dāvāgni-nirvāpaṇam)…

So to comment a little bit… I found this quite important that the Lord does not need our glorification, especially because we are members of the sankirtan movement which is a movement dedicated to constant glorification of the Supreme Lord. Sometimes the question is raised, “But why does the Lord need to be glorified all the time? Is He enjoying this to hear His own glory? Is it almost like vanity? What is this quality in the Lord that He likes to be glorified and that we have to chant all His glories all the time? Why? What is this in the Supreme Lord?

But from this verse, we see what the key is to the entire glorification of the Supreme Lord because Prahlad makes it very clear. Now Prahlad, as Srila Prabhupada states, is one of the mahajans (Srimad Bhagavatam 6.3.20).

svayambhūr nāradaḥ śambhuḥ, kumāraḥ kapilo manuḥ

Prahlad Maharaj is one of the twelve mahajans, one of the authorities, therefore whatever Prahlad speaks is to be taken as authorized instruction. And Prahlad is stating that the Supreme Lord is atmarama, He is satisfied within the self, He does not need our glorification but the amazing thing is that by glorifying the Lord, the person who glorifies Him is purified. Just as when we decorate our face and when we look at our reflection, it is also decorated. So when we decorate the Lord in glorification, we ourselves become glorified and purified. As it is said in the Caitanya Caritamrta, Krishnadas Kaviraj Goswami says (CC Madhya 22.75) sarva mahā-guṇa-gaṇa vaiṣṇava-śarīre, and then it says kṛṣṇa-bhakte kṛṣṇera guṇa sakali.

He says that all the good qualities of Krsna will manifest within a vaisnava. So it is very interesting that by serving Krsna, the vaisnava gets the qualities of Krsna. The entire glorification of the Lord is actually decorating ourselves. Although we offer Him this praise and endless glorification, our own glories are increasing. And that is a  very important point made by Prahlad which really struck me very much.

Then I would like to go to one more prayer of Prahlad and then I will end, (Srimad Bhagavatam 7.9.15)

nāhaṁ bibhemy ajita te ’tibhayānakāsya-
jihvārka-netra-bhrukuṭī-rabhasogra-daṁṣṭrāt
āntra-srajaḥ-kṣataja-keśara-śaṅku-karṇān
nirhrāda-bhīta-digibhād ari-bhin-nakhāgrāt

Translation: My Lord, who are never conquered by anyone, I am certainly not afraid of Your ferocious mouth and tongue, Your eyes bright like the sun or Your frowning eyebrows. I do not fear Your sharp, pinching teeth, Your garland of intestines, Your mane soaked with blood, or Your high, wedgelike ears. Nor do I fear Your tumultuous roaring, which makes elephants flee to distant places, or Your nails, which are meant to kill Your enemies…

So throughout scripture, Lord Nrsimhadev is described as frightening, like in Nrsimha Tapani Upanisad, He is called bhisana or very frightening appearance. But the frightening appearance of the Lord is not at all frightening for the devotee, not frightening for Prahlad nor for the devotee because as Srila Prabhupada explains, a lion is very fearsome to all animals but not to his own cubs, right!

His own cubs are not at all afraid of the lion because the lion is their protector, so rather than being afraid, they feel very well-protected. Just as children like to say, “My father is a policeman,” or something like that, just to scare off other kids, “You can’t do anything to me. My father…” So when your father and protector is Nrsimhadev, then one is very comfortable. So in this way, the devotees are rather very comfortable, very happily discussing the intestines of Hiranyakasipu hanging as a garland around the neck of the Lord…

Srila Prabhupada says, “Prahlad stands next to the killer of his father and he has a garland ready. He wants to garland the killer of his father.” It is very transcendental and quite difficult to understand for the materialists. Sometimes people come into our temples and they see the painting of Hiranyakasipu and they see it for what it is and they say, “What is this?” And the devotees say, “Oh, it’s our Lord Nrsimhadev.” Because we see this all as the great mercy of the Lord, who is so affectionate, so much full of love towards His devotees that He will not tolerate, not tolerate any violence towards His devotees and thus the devotees, by worshiping Lord Nrsimhadev, become fearless.

Bahir nrisimho hridaye nrisimho, He is everywhere and outside of us is Lord Nrsimhadev, the Lord is in the heart. Yato yato yami tato nrisimho, everywhere we are Lord Nrsimhadev is there. In this way, we are feeling very safe and very happy to commemorate this pastime with all its bloody descriptions. I´ll end here. Thank you very much!

Srila Prabhupada ki jaya!

 

Categories: Personal Blogs

Real Service Gives Permanent Satisfaction, June 6, Towaco, New Jersey

Giriraja Swami - Mon, 2015-06-22 10:40

We were out on the street when suddenly I had a clear and vivid perception and realization that I was not the body— that I was something completely different. It was a very joyful and blissful experience:

brahma-bhutah prasannatma
na socati na kanksati
samah sarvesu bhutesu
mad-bhaktim labhate param

“One who is thus transcendentally situated at once realizes the Supreme Brahman and becomes fully joyful. He never laments or desires to have anything. He is equally disposed toward every living entity. In that state he attains pure devotional service unto Me.” (Bg 18.54)

I started to weep, it was such a wonderful experience. I mentioned it to some devotees, and they suggested that Srila Prabhupada might have been chanting on my initiation beads at that moment. And it is possible, because a couple of days later Srila Prabhupada’s letter came with my beads, and it was dated that day. It stated, “I beg to acknowledge receipt of your letter dated July 2, 1969, sent along with your beads. I have chanted on them, and your initiated name is Giriraj. . . . So, I marked it in your person when I was in Boston, and I prayed to Krishna that this good soul may be aware of the importance of Krishna consciousness.”

Towaco Talk
Towaco Kirtan

Categories: Personal Blogs

Travel Journal#11.10: Manchester Ratha-yatra and Harinamas in The North of England

Krishna Kripa Prabhu's Blog - Mon, 2015-06-22 09:22
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Diary of a Traveling Sadhaka, Vol. 11, No. 10
By Krishna-kripa das
(May 2015, part two)The North of England and London
(Sent from Newcastle-upon-Tyne on June 22, 2015)
Where I Went and What I Did
The second half of May I began by staying in Manchester for a week to do harinama to promote their Ratha-yatra on Saturday, May 23. Midweek I just took a brief trip to Sheffield to go to their Wednesday evening program and Thursday afternoon kirtana at the Burngreave Ashram as it was worth the trip to attend the two programs. After Ratha-yatra I went to London because Sthita-dhi Muni Prabhu, my friend, godbrother, and fellow assistant of Sadaputa Prabhu, was visiting after doing two presentations in Radhadesh at a devotee academic conference. I learned that the South London ISKCON devotees had organized a 24-hour kirtana the same weekend as the Manchester Ratha-yatra, and I sang in about 10 hours of it. After spending Monday and Tuesday in London, I returned to The North to attend the nama-hattas and do harinamas in Sheffield, Preston, Liverpool, and Leeds, and to attend the Newcastle monthly 8-hour kirtana on the last Saturday in May.
I share an excerpt from a lecture by Srila Prabhupada, quotes from Brhad-bhagavamrita by Sanatana Goswami, quotes from Navadvipa-dhama Mahatmya by Bhaktivinoda Thakura, excerpts from the daily journal and books of Satsvarupa Dasa Goswami, and notes on lectures by Bhakti Charu Swami, Dhirashanta Swami, Dayananda Swami, and Sthita-dhi Muni Prabhu. Dayananda Swami collected some interesting quotes on forgiveness, some of which are included.

Thanks to Hassan Mahmood for the pictures of his friend playing karatalas with me, thanks to Manchester ISKCON for pictures of the Ratha-yatra, and thanks to Govardhan Devi Dasi for the pictures of us chanting in Leeds. We credit Caitanya-candrodaya Prabhu for the picture of me and the hot dog shop.
I would like to thank Sthita-dhi Muni Prabhu, Anthony Bate and the Preston nama-hatta, Alan Miles and the Liverpool nama-hatta, ISKCON South London, and Janardana Prabhu and the Leeds nama-hatta for their kind donations.
Itinerary
June 22: NewcastleJune 23: Edinburgh Tuesday night programJune 24: NewcastleJune 25: Blackpool and Preston nama-hattaJune 26: Southport and Liverpool nama-hattaJune 27: Newcastle 8-hour kirtanaJune 28: Paris Ratha-yatraJune 29–July 3: Paris harinamas with Janananda Goswami and Harinama RuciJuly 4: York harinama and Manchester kirtana with Madhava Prabhu
July 5–9: NewcastleJuly 10: LeedsJuly 11: ChesterJuly 12: ManchesterJuly 13–15: LondonJuly 16–19: PragueJuly 20–26: Baltic Summer FestivalJuly 28–August 2: Polish WoodstockAugust 3–15: Czech Padayatra?August 16–18: Bratislava?August 19: Prague?August 20–23: Trutnov (Czech Woodstock)August 24: LondonAugust 25: Edinburgh?August 26: NewcastleAugust 27–30: Newcastle retreat?September 2–3: SheffieldSeptember 4–7: IrelandSeptember 8: New York City

Harinama in Manchester
One day I chanted 4½ hours in Manchester's city center to promote our Ratha-yatra. An English lady chanted a few mantras with me, an Indian man gave me a vegetarian pastry. 
 
A young Asian guy played the karatalas a little while and his friend sent a picture of us.
I met an Indian lady who knew the Scottish devotees and had just moved to Manchester. She was very happy to learn of our Ratha-yatra and local temple. People got a couple books and donated enough to cover my weekly bus ticket.
On the way to Sheffield, I chanted through the Manchester Piccadilly train station till where they check your tickets. After I showed my ticket, a policeman came up to me and said a couple people said I was speaking negatively to them. I said I was a Hare Krishna and was just chanting “Hare Krishna.” He was aware that is what Hare Krishnas do and advised me just to be more sensitive toward other people. I asked if it was OK I chanted in the train station. He said it was. I invited him to Saturday's Ratha-yatra. He said he had the day off and would be downtown with his daughter and he might come.
A curious Muslim girl asked if she could play my harmonium when I was chanting downtown. I reluctantly agreed, as you never know what will happen in those cases. Usually the people just play the keys, but she just pumped the bellows, so I played the keys and chanted Hare Krishna for three or four mantras as her friends watched amused. It must have been a funny sight.
One young Indian couple stopped by as I was chanting Hare Krishna. The girl, Priyanka, had been attending the ISKCON temple in Tirupati since she was very young. She and her partner, named Krishna, were happy to learn of the next day's Ratha-yatra and the details about the Manchester ISKCON temple.
One English guy in his thirties or forties stopped by and bought a Gita because he just wanted to know what it was all about. That was the last of the four days I had been chanting in Manchester, and the first Gita sold.
Harinama in Sheffield
One Indian lady gave donations and took a small book from me two days in a row.
Manchester Ratha-yatra

Krishna blessed us with sunny and warm weather for the Manchester Ratha-yatra, which was held in Cathedral Gardens, where some people enjoy themselves and others pass by when going between city center to Victoria Station and the nearby parking lots.
Devotees attended from Newcastle, York, Leeds, Sheffield, Preston, Liverpool, Chester, and London, as well as from Manchester itself. 


Because Janananda Goswami has many disciples in Newcastle, more of my friends from there came than usual.

Before the Ratha-yatra, about ten or fifteen devotees did a harinama for about 45 minutes down Market Street and gave out invitations and told people about our festival in Cathedral Gardens.
 
 
One mother and daughter from Portugal were very attracted by the Ratha-yatra procession, the mother videoing it while the teenage daughter beamed with happiness. I told them we had Hare Krishna centers in Lisbon and Porto, and they could find them on the internet.

 A group of ladies delighted in dancing at the front of the procession briefly.
At the end, some onlookers also joined the dancing.
Janananda Goswami's lively singing and dancing really boosted the enthusiasm during the cart procession. Purusurama Prabhu later commented on how all the kirtanas that day were very good.
At one point Janananda Goswami danced with a brahmacari from the Manor, swinging him around.

The devotee ladies also swung each other in dance.
Except for one young British man who complained the prasadam was so cold he could not eat it, everyone said the prasadam was very good, with one young man describing it as fantastic. I especially liked the cabbage pakoras and the cake, but I found the vegetable dish a bit spicy for my taste.
  One young Oriental lady was attracted by my garland. I gave it to her boyfriend to place it on her, and she was happy to receive it.
One young British lady moved with the music during the final kirtana, raising her hands in the air from time to time. As the chanting ended I gave her an invitation to the Manchester temple with the mantra on the reverse side, telling her these were the words to the song and our invitation to our Manchester center where we had weekly programs with the chanting and the Indian vegetarian food that she had experienced that day. Later I saw she went to the book tent with the mantra card, and an Indian devotee lady taught her how to chant japa and gave her beads.
Several onlookers joined in the dancing at the final kirtana.
South London 24-Hour Kirtana 
Normally I would not go to London for the South London 24-hour kirtana because I consider that my field is The North of England, but since I was going to London to see my friend, I decided to go early for the South London 24-hour kirtana.I rode back to Bhaktivedanta Manor with Parasurama Prabhu after the Manchester Ratha-yatra. By the time I took the underground and the overground and walked to the South London temple in Croydon it was 12:30 a.m. A young man who helped me navigate the overground said “Gauranga” to me as we parted. I asked if he would like a Gauranga wrist band, and he said he followed another path but that he would wear the wristband, so I gave one to him. I was thinking of chanting till 2:30 a.m. and then taking a 2-hour nap like I did at Birmingham, but the organizer asked me to sing during his own slot at 3:00 a.m., which was generous of him. By then it was the brahma-muhurta time and then mangala-arati, so I decided to chant till 5:30 a.m. Then I chanted from 10:30 a.m. to 3:30 p.m., so I got a good ten hours in altogether. The organizer, who had invited me to come to their South London kirtana at the Birmingham 24-hour kirtana earlier in the month, thanked me for coming and even gave me a donation.
Radha Londonisvara Das Prabhu was one of the big kirtana leaders, and he did a good job.
Dhirashanta Maharaja shared some nice realizations about the holy name with us. I shared a room with him and got to know him better which was nice. I usually just see him briefly at festivals in Eastern Europe.
London Visit
I took my friend, Sthita-dhi Muni Prabhu, to see different sites important in the history of ISKCON London. In addition to our present temple of Sri Sri Radha-Londonisvara at 10 Soho Street, we visited 7 Bury Place, the site of the first temple, Russell Square, where Srila Prabhupada would take morning walks, and Conway Hall, where Srila Prabhupada did a series of lectures.
  We also visited Trafalgar Square, the site of the festival after the London Ratha-yatra.
I went on harinama each day. One day the dancing was so lively I videoed it. Gopinath Prabhu led a great kirtana, playing my funky harmonium, and several onlookers joined us and played instruments and danced for a while (https://youtu.be/ykRU2aivtVo):

While waiting in line for prasadam at Govinda's Restaurant, I got talking to a young American lady who first learned about Hare Krishna from buying a book in Union Square. Later she became attached to a British guy and moved to London, and she now participates in different devotional activities in the Sri Sri Radha-Londonisvara community.
Chanting in Preston
I chanted for a while along the streets in Preston with Tony, the organizer of our Preston programs, and then I chanted on my own. One young gentle couple with pleasant smiles was walking by, and I gave them an invitation to the program that night. They asked how to get there, and I tried to describe it the best I could. They actually came to the program and had a good time. I encouraged them to invite their friends. They said because just moved to Preston they had no friends. I smiled and said, “'We can be your friends.” The lady was vegetarian her whole life, being raised that way by her parents. They gave their email for the mailing list. I hope we see them again.
Chanting in Liverpool
I had the best day I ever had chanting by myself in Liverpool. We previously would begin our harinamas at Marks and Spencer, but the last time I chanted there, a Gaudiya Math person was annoyed that I chanted so close to his Gaudiya Math book table, so I asked the devotees to suggest another venue, which they did, St. John's Shopping Center. An Indian man who had his own guru wanted to donate something to Bhagavan, so he bought some nuts that the devotees later used in the dessert for the program that night. A young Englishman donated bananas. Many people tossed some coins in my bowl, and they amounted to over £20 (over $30). One lady described the singing as beautiful. Another said she had not seen the Hare Krishnas for years and said it was lovely I had come out to sing.
One family from Southport ate their lunch no more than three yards (three meters) from where I was singing and gave me £2 as they were leaving. The husband said that they never see Hare Krishnas in Southport and that if I chanted there I would be a hit. That was striking to me because the bus I had taken from Preston to Liverpool that day had passed through Southport, and since I had a day ticket, I seriously considered getting off and chanting in Southport for some time. I think the next time I make the journey I will get off in Southport and chant for a while there.
Newcastle Eight-Hour Kirtan
I am always inspired by the enthusiasm of the Newcastle devotees for their monthly 8-hour kirtana. There is always lively singing and dancing and an amazing feast.
 Dhananjaya Prabhu often plays the bass.
The guys dance.
  They even lifted Prema Sankirtana Prabhu off the ground!

The ladies dance too, but my pictures of them were blurry.
  The prasadam seems more opulent each time.
Here are just the sweets and savories.
Chanting in Leeds

I was so happy ten devotees chanted together in Leeds before their monthly program on the last Sunday in May. I get the best turnouts there. Govardhan dd and her husband, John, now come all way from Scarborough regularly to participate in it.
Later one of the Johns from Leeds chanted with me after the program for an hour on Briggate Street. We met an Indian man who had been in our Krishna-Balaram temple in Vrindavan the previous week. He was happy to learn of ISKCON programs in Leeds.
Uncommon Photos
Some devotees are creative with their sikhas.
  Would you eat at a restaurant named Samsara?

Sometimes people take misleading shots of you.
Just for the record,
I have nothing to do with traditional British sausage hotdogs.
For more photos taken but not included, click on the link below:https://picasaweb.google.com/103872792410945983719/TravelJournal1110?authuser=0&authkey=Gv1sRgCMqnp_GV4dCnxAE&feat=directlink
Insights
Srila Prabhupada:
From a lecture on August 17, 1973:
Prabhupada: This morning when I was walking, some of our students inquired that “If somebody says that 'I do not believe in God,' what is the immediate answer?” The immediate answer is that you come to the street; instead of going to the right you go to the left, and here is a constable, he is your God. Immediately he will arrest you and harass you. So how you can say that you are independent of God? There is God for everyone, but the status of God may be different. One may be worshiping a police constable as God; [laughter] one may be worshiping his boss as God; one may be worshiping his leader as God. So in this way, everyone is worshiping some sort of God. But we are worshiping the Supreme God. That is the difference. Devotees: [applause] Jaya Prabhupada! Prabhupada: That is the difference. You cannot live without God, but your God may be of different quality and my God may be of different quality. Now what is that different . . . quality? We are selecting God: the richest, the most reputed, the most beautiful, the most wise. That is our God. You are selecting a God who is less intelligent, no knowledge, not beautiful, not so strong—a false God. That is the difference. Everyone has to accept some God, because it is the nature of every living entity to serve under somebody superior. That is the definition given by Lord Caitanya: jivera 'svarupa' haya—'nitya krishna-dasa' [Cc. Madhya 20.108]. Every living entity is by nature, by his constitutional position, is a servant; but he is originally servant of Krishna. But because he has forgotten Krishna he has to become servant of so many people. Generally, so long we are not servant of God, we are servant of our senses. That is our position. We have to become servant. But our present position is that we are servant of our senses. I accept to serve somebody, not to that person, but that somebody gives me some money, and with that money I satisfy my senses. So because I am servant of my sense, I agree to serve somebody, even though I do not like it. [applause]
Sanatana Goswami:
From Brhad-bhagavatamrita:
[Narada Muni said:] “It is quite fitting that your devotees care only for prema-bhakti,pure devotional service to the Lord’s lotus feet. Such prema-bhaktifor the Lord, who is very affectionate to His devotees, fulfills all their ambitions and is alone their final goal.”
Bhaktivinoda Thakura:
From Navadvipa-dhama Mahatmya:
“In the Vayu Puranaas well, the Lord Himself speaks of His appearance, 'In Kali-yuga I will appear in populated Navadvipa on the bank of the Ganges as the son of Sacidevi to begin the sankirtanamovement. I will appear in a brahmana'shouse in the best of brahmana'sfamily.'”
“In the Agni Purana, the following is said: 'He will appear as Gauranga and will be very peaceful with a long neck, and surrounded by devatas,or devotees.' In the Garuda Puranait is said: 'In Kali-yuga, the devotees will give up all other holy places and reside in either Vrndavana or Navadvipa.'”
The Skanda Puranasays: "In Kali-yuga, anyone who takes shelter of Mayapur and worships Me will be freed of all sins and attain the highest goal. The glories of whatever tirthas are present throughout Navadvipa increase a million times in Kali-yuga. The glories of all tirthasincrease by association with Gauranga just as the value of metal increases by association with a touchstone. Mayapur is none other than the spiritual energy of the Lord, Yogamaya, which increases everyone's bliss."
Bhakti Charu Swami:
It is still a custom to go to Kurukshetra during a solar eclipse to take bath in Simanta-panca.
Nothing other than pure devotional service to the Lord is the goal. The great sages aspire for this only. Other practices are means, but devotional service is the goal.
Is samadhi perfection? What do you do when you see the Lord in the heart? In santa-rasa, they are just happy with that, but others will not be satisfied with that. Thus the sages who are perfect in meditation are aspiring for devotion like the devotees, because they have only santa-rasa or meditation on the Lord. Love is manifest in the form of service which is the actual engagement of the living entity.
Dhirashanta Maharaja:
The challenge is to be a proper receptacle for the spiritual sound.
We may think that chanting Hare Krishna is difficult, but try standing on your toes with your arms in the air or standing on one leg with your arms in the air. In comparison to these austerities, chanting Hare Krishna is very easy.
If we try to accomplish our other responsibilities before chanting 16 rounds, then we will find we have no time to chant Hare Krishna at the end of the day, but if we chant Hare Krishna first, we will find we have more energy to do our other duties properly.
Srila Prabhupada said, “If you chant your 16 rounds of Hare Krishna by ten in the morning, you will not have any anxiety during the day.”
It is said that each hour of your sleep between 8:00 and midnight counts as two hours, from midnight to 3:00, each hour counts as an hour and a half, from 3:00 to 6:00, each hour counts as one hour, and sleep after 6:00 has no value.
  Satsvarupa Dasa Goswami:
From Japa Transformations:
Japashould be chanted from the heart, the seat of affections. It is an act of love toward Radha and Krishna. Short of love, it is a pleading. Anything less than that is just reciting the outer covering of the mantras, the syllables without the heart. I should not be satisfied with my little speed rituals in the morning. It is a desperate act, with time running out. When will you love Radha-Krishna while reciting Their names? When will you dare to ask for service? There is a legion of lackadaisical chanters, and they are not appreciating suddha-nama.I have far to go, but seem stuck in namabhasa.Chanting more is one remedy. Praying at other times for improvement in nama-bhajana.Even writing, asking for it.”
From “Poem for May 20” in Viraha Bhavan:
“All harinamadevotees should
know the 'Siksastakam' and take
its lessons to heart.”
From “Poem for May 21” in Viraha Bhavan:
“Prabhupada said, 'Just hear,'
and there is a lot of wisdom
and practical advice packed in
those words. Because the name
of Krishna is more merciful than
His form, all you have to do
is chant it with submission
and love and you are
vaulted to the front
ranks of advancement
in nama-bhajana.No
need for complicated
meditation or discursive
thought. Just call out
to Radha-Krishna, 'Please let
me chant Your names,
please let me serve You!'”
From “Poem for May 25” in Viraha Bhavan:
“Today’s drawing shows four devotees
dancing and chanting
with upraised arms.
They look like they
are having fun but seriously
engaged. Harinama
is like that. It is
simultaneously a happy
and a heavyvrata(vow).
To sing Hare Krishna
brings waves of bliss.
The devotees are attached
to go out into the streets
and express their
joy and share it with the nondevotees.
But the obligation to
do it every day,
and in the pressure of
the materialistic atmosphere
of the city, can be daunting.
The harinamadevotees
are spiritual warriors
and connoisseurs of spiritual happiness.”
From Wild Garden:
“O Prabhupada,
I play my part,
an actor on the stage,
in the start of old age,
please touch me again
tell me when.
Let me be your son
as I am, happy serving you
in a way that makes you
smile,
and claim me as a worker
for your cause.”
From “Poem for May 26” in Viraha Bhavan:
Harinama devotees are expansive,
and they embrace the world
with a performance of congregational
chanting. With open hearts,they guide everyone to
hear Radha and Krishna’s
names, and better yet,
ask them to join in the singing.
They are making the greatest
act of charity by
distributing the holy names.
How? Because singing
God’s names
cleanses the mirror of the mind
and lets one see he
or she is a spirit-
soul, an eternal servant of Krishna.
Chanting Hare Krishna relieves a person
of birth and death and promotes
one to the eternal spiritual world.
So there is no higher welfare
work than promoting harinama.”
From “Poem for May 27” in Viraha Bhavan:
Harinamadevotees are motivated
by love. They don’t
go out mechanically or
merely by a sense of duty.
They love to sing the
holy names, and they love to attract people
to the bliss of congregational chanting.
They love Lord Caitanya and
Srila Prabhupada and desire
to please them by carrying out their requests
and mission. The
whole endeavor is
motivated by love,
and by acting in this way. Krishna,
who isbhakta-vatsala,
is inclined to the devotee
because He is conquered by the bhakta.”
From “Poem for May 28” in Viraha Bhavan:
I remember chanting japain the
street and feeling dissatisfied
that I was 'chanting to the
air' with no counting of the
numbers. I expressed this to
Prabhupada, and he informed me how to
use the small counter beads tied
to the bead bag. Quotas give
us a proof, a tangible recording
of the substantial accumulation of
beads we have accomplished.
“At the Krishna-Balarama Mandira
the twenty-four hour kirtanainspired
by Aindra Prabhu has
been going on for many
years. But Prabhupada said,
'Vrndavana is inspiration only.
Our real mission is worldwide.'
Devotees have to come out
of Vrndavana and present
congregational chanting in the
big cities of the West.
This is the compassion Prahlada Maharaja
spoke of when he said he
didn’t want to go back to go back to Godhead
unless he could take the fools
and rascals with him. Devotees
who have left Vrndavana to chant
in the city are making a great
sacrifice. Krishna is pleased
with them and is making
Vrndavana in their hearts.”
  Dayananda Swami:
“If we cannot forgive, it means we are in maya [illusion], because we do not understand that by the law of karma we are getting distress because a bad misdeed of our own.”
We have to forgive ourselves first, not beat ourselves over the head for some mistake we made. If we cannot forgive ourselves, it will be more difficult to forgive others.
Our Krishna consciousness is demonstrated by how quickly we can pacify mental agitation and go on with life.
Haridas Thakura shows an amazing example by forgiving the people who beat him twenty-two marketplaces, and Jesus Christ also did so by forgiving those who nailed him to the cross. With such good examples, why do we refuse to forgive people? Maybe we think we are not on that level as those great saints or think that our chanting alone will bring us to a higher level.
Forgiving is not about the other person so much as it is about our relationship with Krishna. Krishna is looking to see if we are willing to forgive and move on.
Quotes about Forgiveness from Different Sources:
“Forgiveness is the release of all hope for a better past.(Alexa Young)
“If we apply an eye for an eye and a tooth for a tooth, most of the world will be blind and toothless.” (Mahatma Gandhi)
“Deal with the faults of others as gently as with your own.” (Chinese proverb)
“Forget the past that sleeps and ne'er
The future dream at all,
But act in times that are with thee
And progress thee shall call.” (Bhaktivinoda Thakura)
“Forgiveness is the only medicine that can cure the hurting soul.” (David Bruce Linn)
On the platform of tolerance and humility, we will not become offended and feel the need to forgive an offender.
We should be able to act to protect innocent people without hating the offender.
There was a case of a boy stabbing a girl to death in the presence of her mother, in which the mother had the sentiment of wanting to help the boy. The boy had anger on his face throughout the whole trial. The mom said to the boy at the end of the trial, “I do not feel angry with you, but I am very hurt. I pray that God may act so you may lead a better life.” And the anger disappeared from the boy's face.
There is a case of a six-year-old black girl who was being escorted to a white school the day after segregation ended in the United States. The white people were saying nasty things to her the whole time. The people escorting saw she was saying something to herself the whole time, and they asked her about it afterward. She said she was praying to God for the people who were speaking harshly to her. And she was only six years old.
Those things we think we cannot forgive, we have to examine philosophically and ask why. The main philosophy is to consider thus, “My dear Lord, one who earnestly waits for You to bestow Your causeless mercy upon him, all the while patiently suffering the reactions of his past misdeeds and offering You respectful obeisances with his heart, words and body, is surely eligible for liberation, for it has become his rightful claim.” (Srimad-Bhagavatam 10.14.8)
Whatever happens, if I take shelter of Krishna, I will come out smelling like roses.
If we start complicating things, such as our observance of Ekadasi, we may find our outreach activities get minimized.
In 1970 my father to me yelled from another room to see a program on the TV. It was a newscast of the Ratha-yatra in London. I recall seeing the devotees happily dancing with upraised arms. My father said, “This is real religion!”
By rendering devotional service, we get piety, and become qualified to hear Srimad-Bhagavatam. One who has a taste for hearing is qualified and fortunate, and by such hearing one becomes motivated to engage in devotional service.
Srila Prabhupada was noted by his guru as one who likes to hear.
Whether we can understand it or not, it auspicious to hear.
To see Krishna in the sphere of our activities is a very auspicious thing.
A child sees, but without knowledge, what does he actually see? Those without factual knowledge will just speculate on what they see and not see the reality.
When one new devotee heard the Bhagavatam class, he was amazed that the speaker always spoke on things that were on his own mind.
Comment by Sakhya Rasa Prema Prabhu: Bilvamangala Thakura felt that his eyes were going to all the wrong places, and so he took them out, but then he saw Krishna. So that is evidence that Krishna is not seen with our ordinary eyes.
Sthita-dhi Muni Prabhu:
The reason we feel a sense of separateness from God is that we have the freedom to love to God. If there was only one choice, there would be no love. Krishna likes relationships of love, and so there has to be the choice.
If we have some natural piety, we will admit that we should offer the fruits of our work to the Lord, but we may not be so enthusiastic, because we are still in an unnatural condition.
The rules are meant to draw out the joy in our hearts. If we are too upset about them, we have to recalibrate.
The point of physical therapy is not to do the physical therapy well but to be able to move naturally. Similarly the goal of bhakti is not to do the activities of the practice perfectly but to purify the heart so we are in a healthy condition.
Krishna has our best interest in mind. He wants to party with us.
It unfolds now, not like a pie in the sky at the end.
As time goes by, we work through our tests, and go on to the next level.
By doing the bhaktinow, the renunciation comes naturally.
The experience of bhakti as no limits.
Q (by me): Have you see from your practice evidence of Krishna's protection and His providing for you?A: I have a sense that Krishna puts me into different situations that I would not have voluntary put myself in which have made me grow in ways I needed to grow.
I see there is something beneficial to be gained from any situation.
In the history of ISKCON there was a devotee that did a lot of good things and a lot of crazy things, but Srila Prabhupada would always encouraging him, sometimes being very heavy, but all to keep him moving forward.
If you crack the whip or lavish them with praise, that is all for the same purpose, to encourage them to move forward spiritually.
Through the difficult times I realized that the knowledge alone was not enough to completely deal with the situation, but it gave me a construct that could keep me going through the difficulties.
Radha Londonisvara Das Prabhu:
When you act for Krishna's pleasure, you can get so absorbed you do not notice the passage of time.
Ralph Waldo Emerson:
Quoted on a “MHK: Meditation the Hare Krishna Way” brochure:
“What lies before us, and what lies behind us are small matters compared to what lies within us.”
-----
I like verses describing the superexcellence of Krishna's beauty such as:
krishna-madhuryera eka svabhavika bala krishna-adi nara-nari karaye cancala
“The beauty of Krishna has one natural strength: it thrills the hearts of all men and women, beginning with Lord Krishna Himself.” (Sri Caitanya-caritamrita,Adi 4.147)
Categories: Personal Blogs

Focusing On One Point

Japa Group - Sun, 2015-06-21 19:56
I heard a lecture by Giriraj Swami from a very nice Japa retreat. He was talking about the principle of focusing on one point to control the mind. He spoke about how our eyes tend to wander as we chant and this causes the mind to wander also, following the path of the eyes.
Today I tried this method - I focused on one point and chanted my rounds like this and it worked!
Categories: Personal Blogs

Engaging in service according to our nature

(Kadamba Kanana Swami, 12 May 2015, Melbourne, Australia, Personal Address)

We have grown up in a particular situation; we have integrated into the world and then in the middle of that, suddenly there is Krsna consciousness with a whole new system of values! These two kind of clash, though in some ways they mix fine together but you have to figure out a balance.

In due course of time, we have to come to a natural way of life in Krsna consciousness. It cannot be artificial. We are what we are! To an extent, we can change. You know, somebody with a hot temper can learn to count to ten and keep cool… to a degree, until it gets really TOO MUCH! (laughter)

So we can adjust our character a bit but basically we have a nature and we have to engage that nature in devotional service. Of course, devotional service is not only about doing according to our nature, it is also about doing the needful for the movement. Like no-one might say, “It’s my nature to clean toilets,” and then no-one will clean them, until someone comes who says, “Okay, I will do the needful.”

But still, we do have a nature and we engage that nature in the service of Krsna because those are the things we will be good at. We have to find some natural engagement, some natural service in Krsna consciousness and if we are good at it, it is also more satisfying.

Krsna consciousness is not artificial. We are what we are and we just engage our personality in the service of Krsna. It is not about oppressing our nature.
Categories: Personal Blogs

Thoughts on Father’s Day

Giriraja Swami - Sun, 2015-06-21 13:22

Today I think of Srila Prabhupada’s letter to a disciple, “You have accepted me as father, so I have also accepted you as my dear and real son. Relationship of father and son on spiritual platform is real and eternal; on the material platform such relationship is ephemeral and temporary. Although I cannot give you anything as father, still I can pray to Krishna for your more and more advancement in Krishna consciousness. Your sincerity and service mood will always help you in advancing your genuine cause.”

I also think of my godbrother Mukunda Datta Prabhu’s account of the the first time he heard Brahmananda Prabhu speak, at the Mayapur festival in 1978, on the following verses:

“O My sons, you should accept a highly elevated paramahamsa, a spiritually advanced spiritual master. In this way, you should place your faith and love in Me, the Supreme Personality of Godhead. You should detest sense gratification and tolerate the duality of pleasure and pain, which are like the seasonal changes of summer and winter. Try to realize the miserable condition of living entities, who are miserable even in the higher planetary systems. Philosophically inquire about the truth. Then undergo all kinds of austerities and penances for the sake of devotional service. Give up the endeavor for sense enjoyment and engage in the service of the Lord. Listen to discussions about the Supreme Personality of Godhead, and always associate with devotees. Chant about and glorify the Supreme Lord, and look upon everyone equally on the spiritual platform. Give up enmity and subdue anger and lamentation. Abandon identifying the self with the body and the home, and practice reading the revealed scriptures. Live in a secluded place and practice the process by which you can completely control your life air, mind and senses. Have full faith in the revealed scriptures, the Vedic literatures, and always observe celibacy. Perform your prescribed duties and avoid unnecessary talks. Always thinking of the Supreme Personality of Godhead, acquire knowledge from the right source. Thus practicing bhakti-yoga, you will patiently and enthusiastically be elevated in knowledge and will be able to give up the false ego.” (SB 5.5.10–13)

After reading the verses and purport, Brahmananda Prabhu began to explain them slowly and thoughtfully. He said something to effect that “Rsabhadeva gave theses very deep instructions to his one hundred sons. My father never gave me such important instructions.” After a pause, he added, “Then I met my real father.” With this, Brahmananda Prabhu broke down and began to sob uncontrollably, which ended the class.

“The Lord is directly concerned with the twice-born or civilized men. A civilized man is one who has taken his birth twice. A living entity takes birth in this mundane world due to the union of male and female. A human being is born due to union of the father and mother, but a civilized human being has another birth by contact with a spiritual master, who becomes the actual father. The father and mother of the material body are so only in one birth, and in the next birth the father and mother may be a different couple. But the bona fide spiritual master, as the representative of the Lord, is the eternal father because the spiritual master has the responsibility to lead the disciple to spiritual salvation, or the ultimate goal of life.” (SB 3.5.7 purport)

Hare Krishna.

Your eternal servant,

Giriraj Swami

Categories: Personal Blogs
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