Krishna's pastimes

The Birth of Lord Krishna

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The birth of Krishna as related in the Srimad-Bhagavatam and narrated by Amala Bhakta dasa.

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The Qualities of Sri Krishna

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The Qualities of Krishna

The Transcendental Qualities of Krishna

Harinama Dasi narrates Krishna's transcendental qualities from Nectar of Devotion.

Listen to other pastimes of Lord Krishna, narrated by Harinama Chintamani Dasi:

Lord Krishna Steals Butter
Krishna Plays in the Village of Vrindavan
Why Krishna Wears Peacock Feathers

Diwali & Govardhana Puja

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Diwali

Offering a ghee lamp during Diwali

Diwali is a five-day festival widely known as the Hindu New Year, and comes from the Sanskrit word dipavali (dipa, lights and vali, numerous. The festival is commonly observed by illuminating hundreds of candles in homes, temples and public spaces, and by offering opulent preparations of food to the deity.

In ancient times, Diwali was first observed by the citizens of Ayodhya to celebrate the joyful return of King Rama, an incarnation of Krishna. In another era, this was also the day when Lord Krishna performed His Damodara childhood pastime of breaking the pots of yogurt and letting Himself be bound by Mother Yashoda. Devotees remember these pastimes during this auspicious month known as Karttika.

The Founder-Acharya of the Hare Krishna Movement, His Divine Grace A.C. Bhaktivedanta Swami Prabhupada wrote about Diwali in a letter to a disciple:

"Diwali ceremony can be observed in the temple by illuminating 100's of candles, in different parts of the temple, and offering special Prasad to the Deity. This ceremony was observed by the inhabitants of Ayodhya, the Kingdom of Lord Ramacandra, while Lord Ramacandra was out of His Kingdom due to His 14 years banishment by the order of His father. His younger step-brother Bharata, took charge of the Kingdom and the day on which Lord Ramacandra took back the charge again from His brother, and seated on the throne, this is observed as Diwali function. This is the original idea of Diwali, and Dipabali. Dipabali means the same thing—Dipa means candles, and bali means numerous. When numerous candles are lighted it is called Dipabali. In India, this Dipabali function is celebrated in a special auspicious occasion."

Govardhana Puja

The day after Diwali is called Annakuta, or Govardhana Puja. On this day the inhabitants of Vrindavan (Lord Krishna’s abode on Earth) used to hold a festival to honor King Indra, the demigod responsible for providing the rains essential for a successful harvest.

One day, however, sensing that Indra had become overly proud of his position as king of heaven, Lord Krishna convinced the residents of Vrindavan to modify their festival and celebrate Govardhana Hill instead, arguing that it was the fertile soils on the hill that provided the grass upon which the cows and bulls grazed; that the cows and bulls who provided milk and ploughed the lands should be worshiped. This turn of events naturally upset the mighty Indra, who retaliated with terrifying rains and thunderstorms.

Seeing this, Lord Krishna, the Supreme Personality of Godhead, calmly lifted Govardhana Hill with the little finger of His left hand and held it up like a giant umbrella, providing a shelter for the people and animals of Vrindavan from the torrential downpours. The rains intensified. Indra's fury raged. Finally, after seven days, beholding the wonder of the situation and realizing the futility of his own actions, King Indra surrendered. He came down from the heavens and bowed before Lord Krishna with folded hands, offering prayers and asking for forgiveness. He realized his true position as servant of the Supreme Personality of Godhead. In this way Lord Krishna demonstrated that He is Deva Deva, the Lord of the Demigods, and that any purpose for which demigods might be worshiped could easily be served by worshiping Him, the supreme cause of all causes.

Several thousand years later, on this same day, Srila Madhavendra Puri established a temple for the self-manifest Gopala Deity on top of Govardhana Hill.

To celebrate this festival, devotees build a replica of Govardhana Hill made of various opulent foods, worship Lord Krishna as the lifter of Govardhana Hill, worship the hill as His incarnation, and worship the cows and bulls who are dear to the Lord. At the end of the festival, the hill of prasada (sanctified food) is distributed to the public. All Vaishnava temples in India and throughout the world observe this ceremony, and hundreds of people are fed prasada according to the capacity of each temple.

Related articles:

The Krishna Books: Antidote for Suffering

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Among the selected books of Vedic literature His Divine Grace A.C. Bhaktivedanta Swami Prabhupada translated and wrote commentaries on, the trilogy known as Krishna, the Supreme Personality of Godhead is unique. Srila Prabhupada’s Krishna books directly tell us what God is like in His original, personal form and what He and His liberated associates are doing in the eternal, spiritual world. In our temporary world of manifold miseries, one who properly understands Krishna’s transcendental activities can attain the transcendental platform of eternal existence in full bliss and knowledge. So the Krishna books provide much more than fascinating stories: they provide invaluable spiritual knowledge.

Upon first seeing the Krishna books, however, many people express doubts: “Isn’t this mythology? I can’t take this literally.” They conclude that Krishna is just as imaginary as popular heroes like Superman or the mythological gods of ancient lore. To such people I would say. Rather than reject Krishna as imaginary and the Krishna books as mythology, you should understand who Krishna is. Krishna is far more than a popular hero or cultural myth. He is the Absolute Truth, and His pastimes described in the Krishna books are transcendental. The Krishna books deal exclusively with the highest philosophical understanding of the cause of all causes.

Now one may ask, “How can the ultimate truth be a person?” And the answer is that Krishna’s personality is not limited or material. The Vedic sages address Him as Bhagavan, “He who possesses to an infinite degree the opulences of wealth, fame, beauty, knowledge, strength, and renunciation.” The Sanskrit word Krishna literally means “all- attractive” and is therefore the perfect name for the Supreme Being.

Because we have all had bitter experience that persons are always imperfect and mortal, we are prone to conclude that the Absolute Truth can have no personal form or activities. But Jiva Goswami, the great sixteenth-century philosopher of Krishna consciousness, informs us that unless we accept the Absolute Truth as inconceivable we can never even begin to understand Him. In other words, Krishna is a person, but He is not a person like us—limited, frail, and mortal.

Still, there is another pressing objection to taking Krishna consciousness seriously: “Granted that there is a formidable and convincing philosophy of Krishna consciousness, and granted that the concept of God as the Supreme Person is valid. But how is all this relevant to us today? The people of the world are faced with the practical and urgent problems of economic and class struggles, and there is the imminent threat of nuclear war. So even if Krishna is God and is enjoying a life of eternal bliss with His devotees in the spiritual world, how does that help us here in our day-to-day predicaments?”

The answer is that unless we know the Absolute Truth, we can never solve problems arising from the immediate, relative truths. An expert physician knows that certain symptoms indicate a specific disease and that by curing the disease he can cure all the symptoms. Similarly, the world’s problems of conflict, scarcity, oppression, disease, and so on are merely symptoms of our ignorance of life’s real purpose: to know, serve, and love God. Unless our leaders themselves become enlightened in God consciousness and attack the root cause of social ills—widespread spiritual ignorance—no palliative measures can ever succeed in curing the body politic.

The human propensity for love has to be satisfied in terms of the real self and its spiritual needs, not just in terms of immediate physical, familial, or social needs. Our ultimate need is to understand our intimate loving relationship with the Supreme Personality of Godhead, Krishna. So Krishna is not irrelevant; rather, attempting to solve our problems without Him is irrelevant. Forgetting the Supreme Personality of Godhead and disobeying His codes of universal religion are the causes of all suffering. Careful study of the Krishna books, therefore, is not a waste of time but an activity of the utmost importance.

For those of us not interested in reading lengthy treatises on transcendental philosophy, Srila Prabhupada has presented the Krishna books in the attractive form of short stories comprising ninety chapters. The Krishna books are actually a summary study of the Tenth Canto of the Sanskrit scripture Srimad-Bhagavatam, which describes Lord Krishna’s all-attractive pastimes. In the Krishna books Srila Prabhupada has made the essence of this most sublime Vedic literature accessible to modern readers all over the world.

The relevance of the Krishna books to our modern difficulties becomes even clearer when we consider the setting of the original narration of Srimad-Bhagavatam. The scene was a sacred forest in India five thousand years ago. The sage Sukadeva Gosvami narrated the pastimes of Lord Krishna to the emperor Parikshit, who had been cursed to die within seven days. By their practical example, these two exalted persons teach us that life’s ultimate purpose is to hear about, glorify, and remember the Supreme Personality of Godhead. King Parikshit was especially intent on hearing about Krishna, because he knew he would die in a matter of hours. He was confident that by hearing about Krishna during his last moments, he would attain the eternal, spiritual world and thus escape the cycle of birth and death.

Not only King Parikshit but every one of us should be aware of death at every moment. And since the purpose of life is to become fully Krishna conscious before death, hearing or reading about Krishna is our prime need. Thanks to Srila Prabhupada, his Krishna books let us fulfill this need in a most pleasurable way.

Janmashtami Lecture in Hamburg

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Srila Prabhupada in Europe

In this lecture, given in Hamburg, Germany on Janmastami day on September 4, 1969, Prabhupada stresses how important it is to use our senses to serve Krishna in order to be able to understand anything about Him.

IMPORTANT NOTE: The entire transcription of this lecture follows below the audio players—so, read along! If the audio player doesn't appear right away, refresh the page.

Hamburg part 1

Hamburg part 2

Hamburg part 3

sep 4, 1969

...avidya-karma-samjnanya
tåtiya shaktir ishyate

This is a verse from Vishnu Purana. It is stated there that vishnu-shaktih para, "The energy of the Supreme Lord is spiritual." Energy and the energetic, they are nondifferent. Just like the sunshine is the energy of the sun globe, but the quality of sunshine and the sun globe is the same. It is not different.

The sunshine is bright, illuminating, hot—similarly, we can understand the sun globe, the temperature may be very high, but the quality is the same.

So,

vishnu-shaktih para prokta [Cc. Madhya 6.154]

God has got one energy. That energy is spiritual energy. And kshetrajnakhya tatha para: and the same energy is manifested in another form, which is called kshetrajna, or marginal energy, or the energy in which we living creatures are acting.

Ksetrajnakhya tatha para.

And

avidya-karma-samjna, and tåtiya shaktir ishyate.

And besides these energies, there is another energy, which is avidya , ignorance. Karma-samjna : and it is based on fruitive activities.

Anya means besides these two energies, spiritual energy and the marginal energy, living entities, there is another energy, which is called avidya. Avidya means ignorance. And karma-samjna : and in that energy, one has to enjoy his, the fruit of his own labor.

This is the material world.

This material world is also energy of Krishna, or God, but here ignorance prevails. Ignorance is prominent. Avidya , ignorance. Therefore one has to work.

Practically one hasn't got to work, but because he is, one is in avidya , ignorance, therefore he has to work.

Avidya-karma-samjnanya tåtiya shaktir ishyate.

So actually, there is one energy: spiritual energy. Krishna, or God, is the whole spirit, and the energies emanating from Him, that is also spiritual.

Shaktih shaktimator abhinnah.

In the Vedic language we understand that the shaktiman , or the energetic, Krishna, and the energy, they are nondifferent. So this material energy is also nondifferent from Krishna.

In other words of Vedic language it is said,

sarvam khalv idam brahma:

"Everything is Brahman."

In the Bhagavad-gita also, Lord Krishna says that

maya tatam idam sarvam.

Sarvam means all, idam , this manifestation, this cosmic manifestation, whatever you are experiencing... Krishna says that "I am expanded as this cosmic manifestation."

Maya tatam idam sarvam. . .avyakta-murtina.

This impersonal feature, avyakta,

mat-sthani sarva-bhutani naham teshu avasthitah : [Bg. 9.4]

"Everything is resting on Me, or everything is expansion of Myself."

Naham teshu avasthitah:

"But I am not there." This philosophy, acintya-bhedabheda— simultaneously one and different—is our philosophy, inaugurated by Sri Caitanya Mahaprabhu, although it is in the Vedanta-sutras.

So everything is simultaneously one and different from the Supreme Lord. But there are two classes of philosophers.

One class says that God and the living entities are different, and there is another philosopher, monist philosopher. They say God and the living entities are one.

So this acintya-bhedabheda philosophy adjusts that "God and the living creatures, they are simultaneously one and different." They are one in quality, just like the energy and the energetic, the sun globe and the sunshine.

In quality, in sunshine there is heat, there is illumination, light. In the sun globe also, there is heat, there is illumination. But the degrees are quite different.

You can bear the heat and illumination of the sunshine, but you cannot go to the sun globe or you can bear the heat and temperature there. The scientist says that so many millions miles away, if somebody goes or some planet goes near the sun globe, it will immediately burn into ashes.

Similarly, God and ourself, Krishna and living entities, they are qualitatively one, but quantitatively, we are very minute. Anu . We are smaller than the atom.

Nowadays there is atomic theory. We can see the atoms within the holes of the windows when there is focus of sunlight. That is called prasarenu. Prasarenu means six atoms combined together, then it is visible.

Otherwise, atom is also not visible with our naked eyes. There is atomic theory, paramanuvada , in Vedic literature also. And Bhagavata says that the scientists may be one day able to count how many atoms are there within this universe. This is not possible, of course, but it is theoretically.

The Vedic—Srimad-Bhagavatam—says that "It may be possible one day by scientific research, one can count how many atoms are there within this cosmic manifestation. Still, it is not possible to know the Supreme Personality of Godhead by our ordinary sense perception."

Atah Sri-Krishna-namadi na bhaved grahyam indriyaih [Cc. Madhya 17.136].

Krishna, or God, is not perceivable by your material senses. It is not possible. Atah , therefore, Sri-Krishna-namadi. Atah Sri-Krishna-namadi. Namadi. Namadi means "beginning from His name." Because we try to understand Krishna beginning by chanting His holy name, Hare Krishna.

Then, after chanting Hare Krishna, when our heart is purified, then we can understand His form,

sac-cid-ananda-vigraha [Bs. 5.1].

So either His name or His form or His quality or His paraphernalia or His activities—none of these can be understood by your material senses. It is not possible.

Atah Sri-Krishna-namadi na bhaved grahyam indriyaih [Cc. Madhya 17.136].

Indriyaih , the senses. Then how it is understood?

Sevonmukhe hi jihvadau svayam eva sphuraty adah.

When we take to the transcendental loving service of the Lord, then the Lord reveals Himself. We cannot understand. He reveals Himself.

Therefore, sevonmukhe hi jihvadau. Jihva means tongue. The first business of is to engage the tongue in the service of the Lord.

How you can engage the tongue in the service of the Lord? By chanting and glorifying His name, fame, quality, form, paraphernalia, pastimes. This is the business of the tongue.

Sevonmukhe hi jihvadau .

When the tongue is engaged, gradually all other senses are also engaged in the service of the Lord. The tongue is the most important sense within our body; therefore for controlling our senses it is recommended that one should control first of all the tongue.

Srila Bhaktivinoda Thakura sings in his song:

ta'ra madhye jihva ati lobhamaya sudurmati.

Our present conditional state is like this.

Sarira avidya-jal,

We are packed up in the network of this material body. It is just like a fish is caught within a net. Similarly, we are caught up by this network of this material body.

Not only this body—we are changing this net in various phases of life. There are 8,400,000's of holes of this network. This is a network of ignorance, avidya-jal. Avidya means ignorance.

Sarira avidya-jal jatendriya tahe kal.

And this network, my imprisonment within this network of ignorance, is being continued on account of these dangerous senses. Sense enjoyment. So out of these dangerous senses, Bhaktivinoda Thakura says, the tongue is the most dangerous. Tongue is the most dangerous.

The tongue... If we cannot control the tongue, then the tongue will oblige me to take different types of body, one after another. If I am very much fond of satisfying my tongue by flesh and blood, then nature, material nature, will give me facility to taste flesh and blood fresh and give me a body of the tiger.

If I do not discriminate of eating, then material nature will give me a body just like a hog, when we have to accept, as our food, stool.

So we are so-called materially suffering and enjoying according to this body. Therefore this body, this human form of body, is a great opportunity, because God realization begins by engaging the tongue.

Sevonmukhe hi jihvadau [Brs. 1.2.234].

By engaging the tongue in the loving service of the Lord, one can make advance(ment) in Krishna consciousness, ultimate realization of God, the tongue.

So this tongue, in the human body, can be engaged.

In other body, in the cat's body, dog's body, tiger's body—tiger may be a very powerful animal—(but) no animal is powerful or better than human beings. That is accepted.

So this human form of life is a great boon to the living entity who is traveling through the cycle of birth and death, perpetually changing different sorts of body. Here is the opportunity, human form of body. We can utilize the tongue properly and get out of these clutches.

Sevonmukhe hi jihvadau .

So seva, seva means service; jihva adau , beginning from the tongue. So if we can keep our tongue engaged, always chanting Hare Krishna mantra ... Because "Krishna," this sound, is not different from Krishna. Krishna is absolute. Nothing is different from Him. Krishna and Krishna's name is not different.

In the material sense, everything is different. I myself (am) different from this body. I am not this body. But Krishna is not like that. Krishna and Krishna's body is the same.

Avajananti mam mudha manusim tanum ashritah [Bg. 9.11].

Krishna says in the Bhagavad-gita, "Rascals and fools, they deride (at) Me because I appear as a human being. They are thinking just like ‘I am ordinary human being’."

Param bhavam ajananto — "These rascals do not know what is My influence and what I am."

Param bhavam — "What is My nature they do not know. Without knowing Me, they consider, 'Krishna is an ordinary human being.' "

Avajananti mudha —This very particular word has been used, mudha. Mudha means rascals. So in spite of this warning, there are so many rascals passing as big scholars.

They say like this—“when there is order of Krishna that ‘you surrender unto Me,’ (the rascals comment), it is not to Krishna but the unborn spirit which is within Krishna." He does not know that Krishna is not different from His body, Krishna is not different from His name, Krishna is not different from His fame.

Anything pertaining to Krishna is Krishna. They are monists, they are philosophizing that oneness, but as soon as they come to Krishna, immediately they divide: "Krishna is different from His body," or "Krishna's body is different from Krishna."

So atah Sri-Krishna-namadi . So Krishna's name and Krishna is not different. Therefore, as soon as my tongue touches the holy name of Krishna, that means immediately it associates with Krishna.

So if you constantly keep yourself associated with Krishna by chanting this mantra, Hare Krishna, then just imagine how you are being easily purified simply by this process, chanting— jihvadau —engaging the tongue in chanting.

And your tongue wants very palatable dishes to taste. So Krishna is very kind. He has given you hundreds and thousands of palatable dishes, remnants of foodstuff eaten by Him. You eat.

In this way, if you simply make it a determination that "I shall not allow my tongue to taste anything which is not offered to Krishna, and I shall engage my tongue always chanting Hare Krishna," then all perfection is within your hold.

All perfection.

Two simple things: Don't eat anything which is not offered to Krishna. That's all. Our Krishna prasadam are so variegated, nice varieties... The variety is the mother of enjoyment.

How much enjoyment you want with your tongue? You can have simply by eating Krishna prasadam . And the more your tongue is purified, the more you relish the chanting of Hare Krishna mantra .

Relish.

Anandambudhi-vardhanam . It is stated by Lord Caitanya Mahaprabhu that it increases the ocean of bliss, transcendental bliss.

Ocean does not increase—we have no experience within this material world. If (the) ocean would have increased, then all the lands would have been swallowed up many long, long years ago. Ocean does not increase.

But this ocean, transcendental bliss, is increasing. Some of you must have experienced, those who are actually relishing.

The authorities like Rupa Gosvami, he says that "What I shall chant with one tongue? If I would have millions of tongues, then I could chant a little more. And what I shall hear with two ears?"

So he's expecting, he's aspiring to have millions of ears and trillions of tongues to relish this chanting Hare Krishna. So that is another stage, of course, when this chanting will be so melodious that we shall try to have more ears and more tongues to utilize it.

Atah Sri-Krishna-namadi
na bhaved grahyam indriyaih

[Cc. Madhya 17.136].

By our present senses, we cannot understand what is Krishna, or what is God, what is His name, what is His form, what is His quality.

Therefore immediately, if we try to understand Krishna by His picture, "Oh, Krishna is embracing Radharani or the gopis," we shall mistake. Because unless our senses are purified, we shall accept Krishna and Radharani as ordinary young boy or girl and their dealings.

But actually it is not. It is pure.

Caitanya-caritamrita has distinguished that the loving affairs of the gopis with Krishna and the ordinary—these lustful dealings of human beings— there is a gulf of difference.

He compares that the gopis' love with Krishna is gold, and our so-called love here is iron. As there is difference between gold and iron, similarly there is difference between the loving affairs of gopis with Krishna and these mundane, so-called lusty affairs between men and women or boys and girls.

It is never equal.

Therefore, atah Sri-Krishna-namadi na bhaved ... [Brs. 1.2.234]. These present senses, these impure senses, contaminated senses, cannot understand Krishna; therefore we should follow this principle:

sevonmukhe hi jihvadau.

First of all, engage (in) chanting Hare Krishna.

There is Radha and Krishna. Hara is Radha, and Krishna, there is. But don't try to understand by the present senses, but simply chant their holy Name, Hare Krishna. Then,

ceto-darpana-marjanam [Cc. Antya 20.12].

When your, the dust on the mirror of your heart will be cleansed, and it will cleanse by simply chanting,

ceto-darpana-marjanam bhava-maha-davagni-nirvapanam,

. . . and there will be no more any material condition.

That is the next stage. If you chant Hare Krishna mantra without any offense, then immediately the stage will be that you are freed from all material anxieties.

That is the test—how I am advancing in chanting will be tested “how far you are free from material anxieties.” That's all.

Ceto-darpana-marjanam bhava-maha-davagni-nirvapanam [Cc. Antya 20.12].

Then real life begins.

So long you are perturbed by material disturbances, you should know that your spiritual life has not begun. This is confirmed in everywhere:

Brahma-bhutah prasannatma na shocati na kanksati [Bg. 18.54]

Prasannatma — Bhagavad-gita says, "When one is Brahman realized..." Brahman realized means one who understands that I am not this body. I am pure spirit soul, eternal servitor of Krishna.

Simply understanding that "I am not this body. I am spirit soul," is not enough. That is not sufficient knowledge.

Of course, that is good. That is just on the marginal step between matter and spirit. But you have to transcend completely this material existence and come to the platform of spiritual understanding. So, for that purpose, you have to go further after Brahman realization. Brahman:

brahma-bhutah prasannatma [Bg. 18.54]

If you are actually Brahman realized, the symptom will be that you are always joyful, no anxiety—“Anxiety, why...?”

Everything is very nicely discussed in Srimad-Bhagavatam;

Bhayam dvitiyabhiniveshatah syad

When you forget Krishna, or God, and if we think there is something else than Krishna, then we are afraid. And those who are convinced and realized souls that “there is nothing but Krishna, where is the cause of fearfulness?”

Therefore those who are pure devotees, they are not disturbed even in most distressed condition of life. What they think? They think, tat te 'nukampa ...: "My Lord, it is Your great mercy that You have put me into this distressed condition:"

Tat te 'nukampam su-samiksamanah [SB 10.14.8]

So in the distressed condition, the devotees take it an opportunity that "I have got a very nice opportunity to remember God constantly. Krishna, You are so kind that You have given me this distressed condition."

So this Krishna consciousness is very nice. If we try to make progress on this line, we'll feel even:

Yasmin sthite gurunapi duhkhena na vicalyate [Bg. 6.20-23]

Bhagavad-gita says if one is situated in Krishna consciousness, even in the terrible situation, fearful situation, he is not afraid.

Just like Prahlada Maharaja. You see? Prahlada Maharaja, a five-years-old boy, his father tortured him like anything. But he was not afraid. He was not afraid. This is the Krishna consciousness state. The boy is not afraid.

Even in such tortured condition, when his father challenged him, "Prahlada, with whose strength you are so powerful that you do not care for me?" he immediately answered, "My dear father, by whose power you are talking like that?"

So Krishna consciousness is so nice that even one is put into the terrible condition of distress, he is not perturbed.

Narayana-parah sarve

There are many verses like that. We can quote hundreds.

Narayana-parah sarve na kutashcana bibhyati [SB 6.17.28]

If one becomes Krishna conscious, he is not afraid, any condition of life.

Na kutashcana bibhyati. Svargapavarga-narakesv api,

If he is put into the hell or in heaven or in the spiritual world or any world, he is happy.

Tulyartha-darshinah —he thinks everything is all the same: "Either you put me in the hell or heaven or this or that, (it) is all the same." Because he is always with Krishna, chanting Hare Krishna. Krishna is always with him.

So where is the cause of being afraid that "This place is not good; this place is very good?” No. Wherever Krishna is there is very good. That's all.

So we have to practice and train the tongue very nicely.

Sevonmukhe hi jihvadau svayam eva sphuraty adah [Brs. 1.2.234]

And the more our tongue is engaged in the loving service of Krishna... It is very nice service. You simply chant and eat Krishna prasadam. Is it very difficult service? Everyone will accept, "Oh, yes." But unfortunately, everyone does not accept. (laughter) (chuckles) You see.

Caitanya Mahaprabhu therefore says,

etadrishi tava kripa bhagavan mamapi

"My dear Lord, You are so kind that You have approached Me in..., by transcendental sound. Or You are always with Me." You can be. If I take, then Krishna is always with me. If I reject, then... That is the (ignorance)...

"Krishna is everywhere" means as soon as we accept, Krishna is immediately with us. And as soon as we reject, oh, He is far, far away. So Krishna can be with us very easily simply by this chanting or engaging the tongue in His service.

So Caitanya Mahaprabhu recommended this process, or He inaugurated this process in this age. Although it is not new system, but He especially introduced because His incarnation is to reclaim the fallen souls of this age.

So He... [break] ...before advent of Krishna he's simply planning, "As soon as Krishna will take birth, I will kill him."

This is the plan of the demons, to kill God. Atheism. "God is dead"—that is also killing, one sort of killing. "There is no God. I am God." These are all different processes of trying to kill. But God is never killed. Rather, they are killed. That is the whole history everywhere.

Guest: I don't follow. Is it...? Whose choice is it to be a demon? Is it the living entity's choice, complete choice, to be demonic, against God, or is it a part of Krishna's energy to put demons, or to have created him that way?

Prabhupada: No...

Guest: Is it completely each individual's choice to be demonic, or...?

Prabhupada: Yes. Demon means when he is forgotten, when has lost his sense, that is demon. When has lost his sense, that is demon.

Demon means mayayapahrita-jnanah [Bg. 7.15]. Maya, by the influence of maya , the true aspect of knowledge is taken away.

Anyone who is trying to establish it that "There is no God," he is demon. That's all.

There are so many philosophers, so many atheists, so many scientists. Their only business is to deny God. They are demons. Yes?

Guest: Then is there individual complete choice?

Prabhupada: That is ignorance. Yes. Apahrita-jnanah means just like a madman. For the time being, his natural knowledge is taken away. Crazy.

What do we mean by crazy? For the time being, his knowledge is taken away.

Similarly, when a living entity is in that position, as somebody has taken away his knowledge, that is demonic condition. But he can be reestablished again in knowledge.

Just like a crazy man is sent—mental disorder, to hospital for treatment; again he comes as a sane man. Similarly, the demons are just like crazy men. Even they are treated with Krishna consciousness, they can be reverted to their own position.

So this is temporary. This demoniac nature is temporary due to the contact with maya . Therefore the whole business is how to get out of the clutches of maya . Then there is no more demonic nature. It is artificial...superficial. It comes and goes. As it comes artificially, so it can go also. And the driving method is this Krishna consciousness.

Guest: So maya is temporary, and the only thing that is eternal is Krishna and the spiritual energies.
Prabhupada: Yes. Spiritual energy. That is eternal. That is eternal.

So we are... due to our ignorance, we have been very much serious with the temporary situation of maya and we have forgotten the eternal position. This is our present conditional life.

Now this Krishna consciousness movement means His treatment to reclaim the living entity from the clutches of maya . Then he is situated in his natural position. [break]

Read about Krishna's Appearance

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Janmastami: Krishna’s “birthday”?

A yearly reminder that Krishna intervenes in human affairs, so that we'll have something to talk about besides the same old mundane news—none of which is ever really "new" anyway.

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The Advent of Lord Krishna

Please enjoy this famous excerpt from Krishna Book by His Divine Grace A.C. Bhaktivedanta Swami Prabhupada, wherein he describes the transcendentally amazing events leading up to and surrounding the all-auspicious appearance of Lord Krishna in this world...

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More Information

If you wish to have more information about Krishna and Janmastami:

Who is Krishna?

What is Janmastami?

Ratha-yatra, The Festival of Chariots

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Baladeva, Subhadra, Jagannatha
Right to left: Lord Jagannatha, Subhadra Devi, and Lord Baladeva

Ratha-yatra, or the Festival of Chariots, is a joyous event celebrated for thousands of years in the Indian holy city of Jagannatha Puri, and more recently by Hare Krishna devotees in cities around the world. Another name for Krishna, Jagannatha refers to the ecstatic form of the Lord with large eyes and rugged features who is carried on a gigantic chariot during this festival (and worshiped in an ancient temple at the center of Jagannath Puri.)

As the story goes, Lord Krishna once overheard a conversation about how His dearest devotees, the cowherd maidens of Vrindavana, were lamenting in His absence. When He heard these accounts of overwhelming love in separation, the Lord’s hair began to stand on end, His eyes opened wide and filled with tears, and His arms and legs contracted as He went into a state of spiritual ecstasy. Seeing Lord Krishna in this condition, His elder brother, Balarama (Baladeva), also began to feel ecstatic symptoms and displayed similar features. When Their sister, Subhadra, arrived at the scene, she too became consumed with ecstatic joy. Thus the sublime deity forms of Jagannatha, Subhadra, and Baladeva represent this sweet pastime.

The festival of Ratha-yatra represents Lord Jagannatha’s longing to reunite with His dear devotees in Vrindavana, foremost among them, Srimati Radharani. According to tradition, the Lord gets lovesick once a year just prior to the festival. To cheer him up, His servants arrange for Him to go on a lavish procession to meet up with His devotees. Lord Jagannatha rides on a grand, three-story-high chariot, accompanied by thousands of onlookers and marching bands with scores of drummers, singers, and dancers. India’s colonial British rulers coined the term “juggernaut” from the large, heavy chariot used to celebrate this festival in the city of Jagannatha Puri.

Five hundred years ago, Lord Chaitanya Mahaprabhu, the combined incarnation of Radha-Krishna, encouraged all of His followers to celebrate Ratha-yatra with great enthusiasm. His biographies (such as Chaitanya Charitamrita) list many anecdotes surrounding the Ratha-yatra festival. It is said that Chaitanya Mahaprabhu got down on His hands and knees to scrub the Gundicha temple where Lord Jagannatha would stay at the end of the Ratha-yatra parade.

Srila Prabhupada, the founder of the Hare Krishna movement, was very fond of Ratha-yatra. As a child he began celebrating Ratha-yatra when he was five years old, using a small home-made cart and pulling it around the neighborhood with his friends. Later in life, from 1967 until his passing, Srila Prabhupada joined thousands of disciples in cities around the world as they celebrated elaborate Ratha-yatra chariot festivals in the streets of London, Paris, Sydney, Tokyo, San Francisco, Los Angeles, and on New York’s prestigious Fifth Avenue.

Today, Hare Krishna devotees hold Ratha-yatra parades in many cities, usually culminating in a “Festival of India” set up in a city park, with festival tents, entertainment stages, free-feast booths, and a variety of cultural displays and exhibits. Contact your nearest Hare Krishna temple to find out about Ratha-yatras in your area.

Ratha-yatra signifies the Lord’s love for His devotees. He personally comes to visit His devotees and the public who welcome Him in the streets. Befitting the sentiment of its origins, Ratha-yatras in the Hare Krishna movement also serve as reunions for devotees who come from far and wide to participate, meeting up with old friends around their common goal of serving Lord Jagannatha, Sri Krishna.

Bhakti Talk: Premananda Gaur and Mayapur Malini, Part 2

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Premananda Gaura Das gives a candid and touching interview about a favorite Krishna pastime.

The Glories of Lord Chaitanya, Part 4

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The seemingly ordinary activities of Lord Chaitanya as a child are entirely transcendental. Who would have thought that a child at play could topple the bastions of monism and pantheism?

Continuing a special series of articles commemorating the five-hundredth anniversary of Lord Chaitanya's appearance in Mayapur, West Bengal. By His life and teachings, He inaugurated the Hare Krishna movement.

One day, shortly after He learned to walk, Lord Chaitanya was playing with other small neighborhood children when His mother, Srimati Sachidevi, brought Him a dish filled with rice and sweets. After asking her child to sit down and eat, mother Sachi went about her household duties. But as soon as she left, Lord Chaitanya began to eat dirt instead of the lovingly prepared food. Upon returning, mother Sachi was greatly surprised. "What is this!" she exclaimed.

This was one of Lord Chaitanya's childhood pastimes when He appeared on earth five hundred years ago. Yet at first hearing, it hardly seems to confirm Lord Chaitanya as the same Supreme Personality of Godhead described in the ancient Vedic literature. The Bhagavad-gita does assert that to establish universal religious principles the Supreme Lord regularly appears within the material creation, playing the part of a human being. Thus, although He is the oldest of all, He exhibits many uncommon pastimes as a child.

But what's so uncommon or divine about eating dirt? Every one-year-old tends to think that anything visible is also edible. How is Lord Chaitanya's dirt-eating any different? And how does it serve to establish universal religious principles? Let's return to the scene of the Lord's childhood misdemeanor and find out.

Upon being asked by mother Sachi to account for His behavior, the Lord replied in a surprisingly philosophical way. "Why are you angry?" He said. "You gave Me dirt, so how am I to blame? Rice and sweets, or anything edible, is all but a transformation of dirt. You gave Me dirt—and I ate dirt. Why do you object?" Lord Chaitanya argued that since all food comes originally from the earth, it is but a transformation of dirt. So eating sweets or eating dirt, what's the difference?

Lord Chaitanya's childish reply parodies the philosophy of monism espoused by the Mayavada philosophers, who hold that the one and only reality is all-pervading, eternal, undifferentiated spiritual existence, or Brahman. Thus, as the popular Mayavada slogan goes, "All is one." In other words, despite appearances, you and I are not separate individuals, but we are one in all respects with the impersonal Brahman. Or, to get right down to it, each of us is God-if we could only realize it. And this material universe—with all its variety—is, they say, false, an illusion.

In eating dirt Lord Chaitanya was taking the "All is one" philosophy to its logical conclusion. "Dirt is illusion, and sweets are illusion," He was implying. "So what's the difference between eating dirt and eating sweets?"

Mother Sachi was no pundit, yet her stern reply to Lord Chaitanya shatters the foolish subterfuge of Mayavada scholars. "Who taught You this philosophy that justifies eating dirt?" she asked. "If everything is one, why do people in general eat not dirt but the food grains produced from the dirt?"

Thus mother Sachi exposed the impracticality of Mayavada philosophy and showed the commonsense Vaishnava viewpoint. (A Vaishnava is a devotee of Lord Vishnu, or Krishna.) "My dear boy," she said, "if we eat dirt transformed into grains, our body is nourished, and it becomes strong. But if we eat dirt in its crude state, the body becomes diseased instead of nourished, and thus it unfortunately is soon destroyed.

"In a waterpot, which is a transformation of dirt, I can bring water very easily. But if I poured water on a lump of dirt, the lump would soak up the water, and my labor would be useless."

Unlike the Mayavadis, Vaishnavas, as mother Sachi explained, have a very practical, workable realization of spiritual truth. They accept that all is one, but only in the sense that everything is the energy of the Supreme Personality of Godhead. This material world, being His inferior energy, is one with Him. But the varieties within that energy, although temporary, are not illusion. And as for ourselves, we are eternal, individual manifestations of the Lord's superior, spiritual energy. Thus we are one with God in quality. But to argue, as the Mayavadis do, that we are all God would be a gross oversimplification.

The Vaishnava knows material varieties have practical value in devotional service to the Supreme Person. With a waterpot we can bring water to wash the Lord's temple, church, or mosque (or in mother Sachi's case, to bathe the Lord Himself). And with rice and other foods we can prepare varieties of dishes, offer them to the Lord, and use the spiritualized remnants of those offerings to nourish our bodies and thus strengthen them for engaging in the unlimited variety of pure devotional activities.

Mayavadis, on the other hand, consider devotional service to be an occupation only for the ignorant. "Why serve God?" they say. "You are God." To them water, earth, food, our physical bodies, and all other material manifestations are illusion and therefore of no practical value. Since they see all form and personality as illusion, they consider the Supreme Lord Himself to be illusion. Everything is illusion, they claim, except their own idiot philosophy.

In the simple childish act of eating dirt—and defending it—Lord Chaitanya parodied, and allowed His mother to defeat, a philosophical doctrine of monism that poses a serious threat to anyone of any religious faith who aspires for a loving relationship with God. Mayavada philosophy, Lord Chaitanya would later teach, is worse than atheism, because in the guise of a spiritual teaching it denies the Supreme Personality of Godhead and the eternal value of devotion to Him.

All of Lord Chaitanya's childhood pastimes have similar deep imports. When He was a little older, He would go to the nearby bank of the Ganges and tease the young girls assembled there. According to Vedic custom, girls ten to twelve years old worship Lord Siva, praying that in the future they'll have good husbands. Lord Siva is the powerful demigod in charge of the ultimate dissolution of the universe, yet he is also a peaceful devotee of the Personality of Godhead, Lord Krishna. So the girls on the bank of the Ganges were praying to Lord Siva for a husband who was, like him, both peaceful and powerful.

Lord Chaitanya would sit down with the girls and interrupt their worship, snatching up the flower garlands, sandalwood pulp, fruits, and sweets they were offering to Lord Siva. "Worship Me," He demanded, "and I will give you good husbands and other benedictions. Lord Siva and his wife, the goddess Durga, are My menial servants."

In His youthful playfulness Lord Chaitanya was making an important point. There is a misconception among some students of Eastern religions that the Vedic tradition is polytheistic and therefore that followers of the Krishna consciousness movement worship many gods. But this is not a fact. According to the Vedic literature, everyone is a servant of the Supreme Personality of Godhead, Lord Krishna. Within the universe, some of the Lord's most elevated servants have been empowered to look after the universal administration, and these powerful living entities are known as demigods. Lord Siva, as we have already mentioned, is in charge of destruction, Lord Brahma directs the creation, and millions of other demigods manage such universal resources as sunlight, water, fire, wind, and rain. The demigods are all great devotees of the Lord, working under His supervision. They are controllers, just as we are all to some degree, but they aren't equal to the supreme controller.

In the Bhagavad-gita, Lord Krishna asserts that those who worship the demigods have lost their intelligence. Although it is a fact that the demigods can award material benedictions to their worshipers—Lord Siva, for example, can be worshiped for a good husband—these benedictions must ultimately be sanctioned by Krishna Himself. So why not worship Krishna directly? That is the intelligent thing to do. That is what the Vedic literatures direct us to do, and that is what the Supreme Lord Himself was demanding, not only of the young girls on the bank of the Ganges, but of all of us.

All living entities, including the demigods, are part and parcel of Krishna, and therefore it is our constitutional position to serve and worship Him. By doing so, we gradually attain eternal, blissful life in Krishna's transcendental abode. That is a benediction even the demigods aspire for, and one they cannot award their own worshipers.

In comparison to the demigods, who control important aspects of the cosmic manifestation, human beings are insignificant and powerless, and therefore it is in one sense natural for men to worship demigods. We worship powerful and wealthy personalities even on this planet, so why not the demigods? But in comparison to Lord Krishna, even great demigods like Lord Siva are insignificant, since they derive all their power from Him. If you have only one dollar, a thousand dollars seems like a lot of money, but to a multimillionaire a thousand dollars is small change. Similarly, in comparison to Lord Krishna, the demigods, what to speak of powerful men on this planet, are small change.

So yes, followers of the Krishna consciousness movement believe in the demigods. and they offer the demigods due respect. In fact, they offer respect to all living beings, seeing them all as servants of Lord Krishna. But they worship and love only the Supreme Person, following His instructions in the Bhagavad-gita to give up all varieties of worship and just surrender to Him.

As with His pastime of eating dirt, Lord Chaitanya, by teasing the young girls, established a religious principle that applies to everyone who desires to please the Supreme Lord and develop a loving relationship with Him. Lord Chaitanya did not favor one religion over another; rather, He taught the eternal nonsectarian science of God realization. As the study of ordinary sciences is open to any person, regardless of his or her nationality or religious upbringing, so the science of Krishna consciousness taught by Lord Chaitanya and His followers is open to anyone. And it can work for anyone. Two plus two equals four, no matter what your geographical, philosophical, or religious background.

Lord Chaitanya is not, therefore, a sectarian figure. He is, as the Vedic literatures indicate, the Supreme Personality of Godhead playing the part of His own devotee, to teach us love of God. He is like the elementary-school teacher, who, to instruct new students, sits down with them and pretends to be learning to write the letters of the alphabet.

Perhaps the easiest way to understand the nonsectarian nature of Lord Chaitanya's teachings is to examine His primary teaching, that the most effective way to worship God in this age of confusion and quarrel is to chant His holy names. Lord Chaitanya especially chanted the Hare Krishna mantra, but He taught that all of the Lord's names mentioned in the world's great scriptures will have the same purifying and liberating effect on the sincere chanter. Who could object to such a sublime, nonsectarian instruction? Persons of any religious faith, even while executing their ordinary house-hold or business responsibilities, can perfect their human lives by constantly and steadfastly singing or chanting in devotion the particular names of God with which they are familiar.

As a child, Lord Chaitanya managed to teach this foremost principle to His family and neighbors, even before He could crawl or walk. Like all children, He would cry and have to be given constant attention. The attention the Lord demanded, however, was a little unusual. No matter what His mother or the other ladies of the neighborhood did to appease Him, He would continue to cry—until He heard the chanting of Krishna's names. As soon as the ladies chanted, He would quiet down and look upon them pleasingly with His beautiful eyes. Taking this clue, the ladies were constantly chanting and clapping their hands, making the Lord's house and the entire neighborhood the site of an ongoing festival of transcendental sounds like Lord Chaitanya's neighbors, we can all take up the chanting of God's holy names and relish the Lord's pleasing glance upon us.

Water, A Meditation

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In Hawaii, clear turquoise waves lapped at my knees while a multicolored sea turtle gently fed near my feet. It's the allure of water that draws people to that peaceful, beautiful spot, like so many places people go to relax and rejuvenate. Several months later in London, across two oceans from Hawaii, friends took me for exercise in an indoor heated pool. Although the sports club lacked beauty and the water was full of chemicals, my time in the water was still refreshing. Water is one of the categories of Krishna’s energy, as described in scripture such as Bhagavad-gita and Brahma-samhita. Krishna always exists as a transcendent person apart from His energy, while at the same time He is present in that energy. Therefore, while water is not Krishna, Krishna is water. In what ways can we appreciate Krishna in water? He is the taste or the essence of water, the quality that quenches our thirst and brings satisfaction. As I swam in the London pool, I thought of the softness or liquidity of water. One of Krishna’s qualities is His softness. His spiritual body is so soft that it changes color where it has been brushed by a leaf. His soft body is a stimulus for His devotees' love for Him. The scriptures describe that the Lord and His form are the same. So both His body and His sentiments are soft. Especially when Krishna takes the mood of His chief devotee and appears as Lord Chaitanya, His heart melts with compassion for all living beings, and He freely gives love of God without considering the merit of the candidate. His heart is, therefore, like melted butter, soft and fluid. The liquidity of water shows us this flowing and melting quality of the Lord’s love and kindness. Water is also powerful, so much so that its swift flow can provide all the electricity for a city, or one huge wave can create tremendous destruction in a moment. The power of water reminds us that one of Krishna’s opulences is unlimited strength. He creates, maintains, and destroys countless universes effortlessly. He carries planets on His head with such nonchalance that He is hardly aware of their weight. If all the potential and kinetic power of the entire world’s water were combined into one gigantic wave, it would not equal the tiniest fraction of Krishna’s strength. This dual nature of water—soft yet powerful—reminds us of how Krishna, whose eternal spiritual form is that of a delicate sixteen-year-old boy, easily fought with and killed huge, muscular demons who were tormenting innocent citizens.

Water Pastimes

Many of the Lord’s transcendental, spiritual activities relate to water. When Krishna creates the material world, He assumes an form beyond measure lying in a yogic sleeplike trance on His incarnation the serpent Shesha, who floats on the causal ocean, which is alive and spiritual. Uncountable universes, one of which we now inhabit, come out of the Lord’s body when He exhales. Then the Lord enters each universe and creates from His perspiration an ocean that fills half the universal shell. He lies down in that water, and His consort the goddess of fortune massages His feet. The Lord enjoys floating on this cosmic ocean with His consort. Because each of us is a small part of the Lord, we have His propensities to a minute degree. So the common human desire to float on a boat, raft, or other device with one's beloved comes from the Supreme, the source of everything. Another example of Krishna’s pastimes involving water occurred early in universal history. In Vedic cosmology, planets are conscious persons. The planet Earth once fell into the universal water when demonic persons disturbed her orbit by drilling for oil and upsetting her balance. Celestial beings, called devas, who control the universe in service to Krishna, wanted Earth to be rescued. Responding to their desire, the Lord came to save her. He assumed the form of a splendid, gigantic boar (Varaha), dove to the bottom of the universal ocean, picked up Earth, and gently carried her on His tusks to the water’s surface. As He did so, a great demon challenged them. Lord Varaha then carefully placed fearful Earth on the water and gave her the ability to float. A fight between the Lord and the demon ensued within the great ocean. After defeating the demon, Lord Varaha returned to the spiritual sky. Sometimes a flood devastates the universe, and Krishna assumes the form of a golden fish to play in the water. Tied to a horn on His head is a boat carrying sages, Vedic knowledge, and seeds to replenish the world after the flood. During this pastime, Krishna enjoys His play within the water as well as His loving relationship with the great sages. Krishna in His original form often sports in water with His friends and beloveds. For His water pastimes He chooses rivers such as the Ganges and Yamuna, who are also goddesses pure in love for Him. Krishna also plays in lakes and ponds filled with lotuses and swans and surrounded by jeweled pavilions. These bodies of water are persons, devotees of His, alive with love and bliss.

Watering Our Devotion

Besides meditating on how water reminds us of Krishna's qualities and pastimes, we can increase our awareness of Him when we use water in our everyday lives. For example, for basic health we need clean water for drinking and bathing, and we need it to cook and to clean our clothes and homes. We need the system Krishna has set up for supplying clean water through evaporation and rain. At the very least, we should regularly thank the Lord for these gifts, which keep our bodies alive. Beyond that, we should be thankful for water as an impetus to remember Krishna, because that remembrance will increase our service and love for Him, watering the plant of our devotion.