Personal prayers should be part of our daily sadhna

Hare Krishna.

Pray! who, me?

As aspiring devotes we should know that it is spiritual ‘best practice’ to make prayers an important part of our daily sadhna.

Of course, we are aware (but are we conscious of it?) that prayer, vandanam, is part of nine limbs of bhakti and even following a single limb perfectly can help us reach our final goal. We should also know that each pranam manatra which we speak is a prayer to Krishna, Deity, Acharaya & Guru. Being aware of the importance of power of prayers, Srila Prabhupada very much ingrained them into daily program of our society. In fact reading and meditating on our daily temple prayer’s translation alone is a most purifying and uplifting experience.

Yet many a times we fall into laziness, lack of faith, ignorance- I am too junior for Krishna to hear me, I am not surrendered enough,….. a long list of excuses. But actually it is to overcome these very impediments we need to pray more. Personal prayers also help us establish a very solid relation with Krishna, our favorite Deity , Srila Prabhupada, Srimad Bhagavatam, Bhagavad Gita…. What matters most , at our baby stage,  is our sincerity and an open heart.

Yet many, if not most, of the times, as conditioned Kali-yugians, whenever we are faced with some challenge, we invariably fall for the below two standard options

  1. I will sort it out.
  2. I will figure it out.

In reality we can neither sort it out (karma) nor figure it out (jnana). And even when we come into devotional life, due to past conditioning, our standard reaction is for most of the situations is still to opt for these two solutions. We swing like a pendulum between these two options.  Unfortunately they have a very limited, if at all any, role to play in our daily struggle whether, so called, material or spiritual. The real solution lies in taking shelter of lotus feet of Krishna and our prayers form a very important part of this very process of taking shelter.

Lamentation is useless!

Both the mother and the son were lamenting Dhruva Mahäräja’s having been insulted by his stepmother and his father’s not having taken any step on this issue. But mere lamentation is useless—one should find out the means to mitigate one’s lamentation. Thus both mother and son decided to take shelter of the lotus feet of the Lord because that is the only solution to all material problems.

(SB 4.8.24p)

We are in a helpless condition..accept it..pray for help…and get released!

This is struggle for existence… Everyone is struggling. But what you will struggle in the ocean? You may be a very big swimmer, but how long you shall swim? You will be tired. The only means is to take you out of the ocean. Even one inch above the ocean is your safety. It doesn’t matter how many inches you are taken from the ocean. Similarly, the prayer is, “My dear Lord Kåñëa, I am your eternal servant. Somehow or other, I am now fallen in this ocean. Please pick me up and fix me again as the dust of Your lotus feet.” This is the prayer. So we should know in what dangerous position we are. Then there is necessity of prayer. And prayer to whom? To the Supreme Person to save us. Therefore there are so many prayers in the çästra. Prayers means addressing the Lord to save us from this. The real saving is to pick us up from this ocean of nescience, ignorance. Then everything is all right.

(Srila Prabhupada Lecture, Durban, 7th Oct, 1975)

Krishna is known as Uttamshloka!

Another name of the Supreme Personality of Godhead is Uttamaçloka, which means that He is offered prayers with selected verses. Bhakti means çravaëaà kértanaà viñëoù [SB 7.5.23], chanting and hearing about Lord Viñëu. Impersonalists cannot be purified, for they do not offer personal prayers to the Supreme Personality of Godhead. Even though they sometimes offer prayers, the prayers are not directed toward the Supreme Person. Impersonalists sometimes show their incomplete knowledge by addressing the Lord as being nameless. They always offer prayers indirectly, saying, “You are this, You are that,” but they do not know to whom they are praying. A devotee, however, always offers personal prayers. A devotee says, govindam ädi-puruñaà tam ahaà bhajämi : “I offer my respectful obeisances unto Govinda, unto Kåñëa.” That is the way to offer prayers. If one continues to offer such personal prayers to the Supreme Personality of Godhead, he is eligible to become a pure devotee and return home, back to Godhead.

(SB 6.9.47p)

Krishna accepts our prayers

No amount of chosen words are sufficient to enumerate the Lord’s glory, yet He is satisfied by such prayers, just as a father is satisfied even by the broken linguistic attempts of a growing child.

(TQK, chapter 26)

Difficult made easy for kali-yugians!

Lord Siva says:

Although rendering devotional service to the Supreme Personality of Godhead and worshiping Him are very difficult, if one vibrates or simply reads this stotra [prayer] composed and sung by me, he will very easily be able to invoke the mercy of the Supreme Personality of Godhead.

To become a devotee of Lord Kṛṣṇa, Vāsudeva, is very, very difficult. The word especially used in this connection is durārādhyam. The worship of the demigods is not very difficult, but becoming a devotee of Lord Vāsudeva, Kṛṣṇa, is not so easy. However, if one adheres to the principles and follows in the footsteps of the higher authorities, as advised by Lord Śiva, one can easily become a devotee of Lord Vāsudeva.

(SB 4.24.76+p)

Sing prayers written by previous acharayas and Mahajans

Just like we offer prayers from Brahma-saàhitä. We cannot offer prayer from any other persons, written by any other nonsense. No, that is not possible. Viriïca-gétäù. There is power. If you recite the prayers composed by mahäjana, it has got spiritual power.

( Srila Prabhupada Lecture, Mayapur, 25th Feb 1976)

What should be my mood while praying?

Prahläda said, “I am not proud of being able to offer prayers to the Supreme Personality of Godhead. I simply take shelter of the mercy of the Lord, for without devotion one cannot appease Him. One cannot please the Supreme Personality of Godhead simply by dint of high parentage or great opulence, learning, austerity, penance or mystic power. Indeed, these are never pleasing to the Supreme Lord, for nothing can please Him but pure devotional service. Even if a nondevotee is a brähmaëa qualified with the twelve brahminical symptoms, he cannot be very dear to the Lord, whereas if a person born in a family of dog-eaters is a devotee, the Lord can accept his prayers. The Lord does not need anyone’s prayers, but if a devotee offers his prayers to the Lord, the devotee benefits greatly. Ignorant persons born in low families, therefore, can sincerely offer heartfelt prayers to the Lord, and the Lord will accept them. As soon as one offers his prayers to the Lord, he is immediately situated on the Brahman platform.

(SB 7.9 summary)

Then the final result..

According to great learned scholars, the whole Bhagavad-gétä contains many authorized prayers, especially in the Eleventh Chapter, where Arjuna prays to the universal form of the Lord. Similarly, in the Gautaméya-tantra all the verses are called prayers. Again, in Çrémad-Bhägavatam there are hundreds of prayers to the Lord. So a devotee should select some of these prayers for his recitation. In Skanda Puräëa the glories of these prayers are stated as follows: ‘Devotees whose tongues are decorated always with prayers to Lord Kåñëa are always given respect even by the great saintly persons and sages, and such devotees are actually worshipable by the demigods.’….

In the Nåsiàha Puräëa it is stated, ‘Any person who comes before the Deity of Lord Kåñëa and begins to chant different prayers is immediately relieved from all the reactions of sinful activities and becomes eligible, without any doubt, to enter into the Vaikuëöhaloka.

(NoD, chapter 9)

Prayers of Vritasura

  • O my Lord, O Supreme Personality of Godhead, will I again be able to be a servant of Your eternal servants who find shelter only at Your lotus feet? O Lord of my life, may I again become their servant so that my mind may always think of Your transcendental attributes, my words always glorify those attributes, and my body always engage in the loving service of Your Lordship?
  • O my Lord, source of all opportunities, I do not desire to enjoy in Dhruvaloka, the heavenly planets or the planet where Lord Brahmā resides, nor do I want to be the supreme ruler of all the earthly planets or the lower planetary systems. I do not desire to be master of the powers of mystic yoga, nor do I want liberation if I have to give up Your lotus feet.
  • O lotus-eyed Lord, as baby birds that have not yet developed their wings always look for their mother to return and feed them, as small calves tied with ropes await anxiously the time of milking, when they will be allowed to drink the milk of their mothers, or as a morose wife whose husband is away from home always longs for him to return and satisfy her in all respects, I always yearn for the opportunity to render direct service unto You.
  • O my Lord, my master, I am wandering throughout this material world as a result of my fruitive activities. Therefore I simply seek friendship in the association of Your pious and enlightened devotees. My attachment to my body, wife, children and home is continuing by the spell of Your external energy, but I wish to be attached to them no longer. Let my mind, my consciousness and everything I have be attached only to You.
(SB 6.11.24-27)

All glories to Sri Guru and Gauranga.

All glories to Srila Prabhupada.

your servant,

Giriraj dasa

Learning to Love Sri Krishna

Hare Krishna.

27th March, 2016. Gurgaon

Krishna taking prasadam

Learning to love Krishna is something like developing love for family and friends in our everyday life. But we can offer all aspects of our life to Krishna, and one of the most important and practical offerings is food. Krishna declares that devotees who eat food first offered to Him make spiritual advancement but those who prepare food for personal sense enjoyment “verily eat only sin” (Bhagavad-gita 3.13). By offering tasty vegetarian dishes for Krishna’s pleasure and then eating His remnants, we not only avoid sinful reaction, but also gradually develop our loving relationship with Him. After all, love is all about give and take.

And Krishna is teaching us give and take.

“You give something,” Krishna is begging. “You try to love Me. You learn how to love Me. Give Me.”

“Sir, I have nothing to give You.”

“Oh, you cannot collect a little fruit and flower and leaf and little water?”

“Oh, yes. Why not? Anyone can collect.”

So the Krishna consciousness movement is so nice. You can make direct friendship with Krishna. You can become direct servant of Krishna.

Srila Prabhupda Lecture, New York, 22nd July 1971

Krishna tells Arjuna, “If one offers Me with love and devotion a leaf, a flower, fruit, or water, I will accept it.” (Bhagavad-gita 9.26) Out of His kindness, Krishna will accept even the smallest token of our faith — even a little water or a tulasi leaf — if it is offered with love. When Krishna asks us to make such an offering, He is really inviting us to reawaken our eternal, blissful relationship with Him. He wants our love. And so the key ingredient in the preparation and offering process is our affection for Him, our desire to please Him.

As the Supreme Lord, the cause of all causes, and the controller and the proprietor of everything, Krishna is atmarama, self-satisfied. As Srila Prabhupada explains, Krishna does not need food, yet He will accept the offering of a devotee who wants to please and love Him (Bhagavad-gita 9.26 p). Krishna is not hungry for food, He hungers for our love and loving exchange with Him.

How To Offer Food To Krishna

Keep a new plate and glass exclusively for offering home cooked food to Krishna. Place the food prepared for Him on the plate, along with a glass of drinking water. You can place liquid items (such as dal) in small dishes (katories) kept only for these offerings. On each preparation place a tulasi leaf. When the plate is ready, place it on either the altar or a table in front of the altar, or (if there is no altar arrangement) in front of a picture of Krishna. As you sit in front of the altar, meditate on how Krishna will enjoy the offering. Ring the bell while reciting each of the following prayers three times:

nama om visnu-padaya krsna-presthaya bhu-tale

srimate bhaktivedanta-svamin iti namine

namas te sarasvate deve gaura-vani-pracarine

nirvisesa-sunyavadi-pascatya-desa-tarine

I offer my respectful obeisances unto His Divine Grace A.C. Bhaktivedanta Swami Prabhupada, who is very dear to Lord Krishna, having taken shelter at His lotus feet. Our respectful obeisances are unto you, O spiritual master, servant of Saraswati Goswami. You are kindly preaching the message of Lord Caitanyadeva and delivering the Western countries, which are filled with impersonalism and voidism.

namo maha-vadanyaya krishna-prema-pradaya te

krishnaya krishna-caitanya-namne gaura-tvishe namah

O most munificent incarnation! You are Krishna Himself appearing as Sri Krishna Caitanya Mahaprabhu. You have assumed the golden color of  Srimati Radharani, and You are widely distributing pure love of Krishna. We offer our respectful obeisances unto You.

namo brahmanya-devaya go-brahmana-hitaya ca

jagad-dhitaya krishnaya govindaya namo namah

I offer my obeisances again and again to Lord Krishna, who is always worshiped by qualified brahmanas and is very dear to them. He is always concerned with the welfare of the cows, the brahmanas, and the whole universe, and He gives pleasure to the cows, land, and senses.

(jaya) sri-krishna-chaitanya prabhu-nityananda
sri-advaita gadadhara srivasadi-gaura-bhakta-vrinda

Hare Krishna, Hare Krishna, Krishna Krishna, Hare Hare
Hare Rama, Hare Rama, Rama Rama, Hare Hare

From the time you take formal shelter of an ISKCON guru, please recite the mantra of your own guru three times before reciting Srila Prabhupada’s pranam-mantra (the first in the list above). Meditate on offering the food to your guru, who then offers it to Krishna. Leave the offering in front of Krishna for ten-fifteen minutes.

Why We Use These Mantras

The devotee doing the offering is presenting everything to his own spiritual master, who will then offer the bhoga through the guru-paramparä to Lord Caitanya, Lord Krishna, and Their associates. That’s why, when offering bhoga we chant the pranam-mantras to the spiritual master, Lord Caitanya, and Lord Krishna. We are praying that They will be kind enough to accept our offering, despite our many faults and limitations. And we are doing things in a way that is approved by Them – and pleasing to Them!

Srila Prabhupada prasadam quote

Offering maha-prasadam to Sri Guru, the Guru Parampara and the Associates of the Lord

Once Krishna has accepted our offering, we can show our affection and respect for Gurudeva, guru-parampara and Krishna’s associates by offering His remnants first to them in gratitude.

  1. To our Gurudeva

idam maha-prasadam aim gurave namah

  1. To Srila Prabhupada

         idam maha-prasadam om ISKCON-samsthapakacaryaya namah

  1. To Krishna’s associates

         idam maha-prasadam om sangopangastra-parshadebhyo namah.

Leave the maha-prasadam with them for a few minutes and then remove it and clean the area for Krishna’s pleasure and theirs.

How to Respect Maha-maha-prasadam

 Please sing the following prayers in gratitude before beginning your meal of Krishna’s Maha-maha-prasadam

  maha-prasade govinde nama-brahmani vaisnave
svalpa-punya-vatam rajan visvaso naiva jayate

O king, for those with little pious credit, faith in maha-prasadam, Sri Govinda, the holy name, and the Vaishnavas never arises. (From Mahäbhärata)

 sarira avidya-jal, jodendriya tahe kal,
jive phele visaya-sagore
tar’ madhye jihva ati, lobhamoy sudurmati,
ta ´ke jeta kathina samsare

krishna baro doyamoy, koribare jihva jay,
sva-prasad-anna dilo bhai
sei annamrita pao, radha-krishna-guna gao,
preme dako chaitanya-nitai

O Lord, this material body is a place of ignorance, and the senses are a network of paths leading to death. Somehow we have fallen into this ocean of material sense enjoyment, and of all the senses the tongue is the most voracious and uncontrollable. It is very difficult to conquer the tongue in this world. But You, dear Krishna, are very kind to us and have given us such nice prasadam just to control the tongue. Now we take this prasadam to our full satisfaction and glorify You- Sri Sri Radha and Krishna – and in love call for the help of Lord Caitanya and Nityänanda.

It is best to honor maha-maha-prasadam in a clean, peaceful place either alone or with friends/family. Talk at the table should be light-hearted and pleasing to the heart. It’s best to wash the mouth and hands both before and after the mercy meal.

(This article has been written on my request by a very senior and kindhearted devotee who preferred to remain anonymous. My primary focus was to highlight that we should offer bhoga to Krishna in a proper disciplic way and more importantly how with a little extra effort we can offer the prasadam to our Guru, Param Guru and Krishna’s associates and then receive maha-maha-prasadam instead of maha-prasadam!)

All glories to Sri Guru and Gauranga.

All glories to Srila Prabhupada.

 

Power of prayer.

Hare Krishna.

25th December, 2015. Gurgaon

Pray to Krishna

It is simply amazing what incredible result our simple prayers can produce. We need nothing but a sincere cry from our heart. Let me share a recent experience.

I was fortunate to get the association of a very senior devotee sometime back. After meeting this devotee a couple of times my heart longed to get some opportunity to serve this amazing devotee. There didn’t seem to be any chance for me as the needs of this particular devotee are very few and on top of that this devotee is being served very well by a set of senior devotees. Still, I would pray regularly for some chance of service.

Few days back, after some gap, I again got an opportunity to meet this devotee. Before leaving home I prayed with all my heart in front of my altar, begging Lord to grant me some opportunity to serve this amazing devotee. I have Jagannath and Gopal deities at home and I literally rubbed my nose on the ground praying to Them.  The chances, as I mentioned, were bleak if not nil, still the desire in my heart to serve this devotee remained very strong, in fact it only grew stronger with the passage of time.

So I met this devotee and after our meeting was over, this devotee asked a senior devotee and myself to stay back for 5 minutes. As everyone left and the words came out of the mouth this devotee my jaw dropped! I was getting a service!! And that too a service which I could not even dream about! This devotee was observing my face and asked me why I suddenly have this strange look on my face. I shared how I have been praying to get some service and today I prayed with a little more heart and here I am receiving one! It was nothing short of a miracle for me. I was over the moon, I thought I had suddenly developed two wings!

The point I wish to emphasize here is that our prayers to Lord have huge potency. The power is not in us but it is in the prayer itself. So many times we hear devotees say ‘Prabhuji please pray for me’, the point is how much we are praying for our own self? We should not think that other devotee’s prayers have more power ( they have their own place) so let me request others where as Krishna will not hear my own prayers. This is not the case.

It doesn’t matter whether we are a neophyte or a senior devotee, initiated or not initiated, what matters is the sincerity of our prayer. Looking at my own self I would even dare add that even a contaminated heart is no disqualification, rather by the mercy of Gaura Nitai, this very disqualification has become our qualification to seek mercy from the Supreme Lord.

I will share another experience. During the recent Kartik, at one of the home programs I would stress the need to pray almost in every single class. Then after Kartik I requested all the devotees to share their experience of Kartik. One devotee, who attends all the classes diligently, shared how his chanting actually went down during this period, I was very surprised. Then I asked the Prabhuji did he pray before or even during the Kartik to help him chant better or help him overcome whatever challenge he was facing due to which he could not get time to chant, the reply … No.

This is our condition, rather this is my own condition, and not some just some ordinary condition but an unfortunate condition.

durdaivam idrisham ihajani nanuragaha

Lord, and His devotees, have given us so many ways to approach and seek help yet I am so unfortunate that I do not have time to pray and seek their intervention. Actually my condition is very fortunate because having come into Krishna consciousness there are so many means and methods but I am myself making my condition unfortunate by ignoring most of them.

As I looked back I could suddenly see so many means by which Krishna, and His devotees, are willing to help me but I am so unfortunate that I am completely blind to them. In my case, many a times, I am even uttering these prayers or verses but with no understanding or heart in it, this is my ‘durdaivam’.

I am copying some examples, which come to my mind right now, and the benedictions associated with them in Q&A format, along with the reference, from which everyone take benefit.

1. Do I have a desire to attain eternal residence in Vrindavan?

Daily recite Sri Vrinda-devi Ashtakam to Tulasi Maharani

Whoever hears or recites these eight prayers in glorification of Sri Vrinda Devi, becoming just like a bumble bee that is always anxious to taste the sweet nectarine lotus feet of the Divine Couple (the Lords of Vrindavan) – such a person verily attains eternal residence in Vrindavan. Having finally achieved the supreme goal of life, one thus remains situated in the ecstatic loving service of the Divine Couple Sri Sri Radha- Madhava.                                                                                                                                            —  Vrindashtakam verse 9

2. Do I have a desire to realise what is Love of God?

Read chapter 23 of CC Madhya lila regularly.

Whoever hears these instructions given to Sanātana Gosvāmī by the Lord comes very soon to realize love of God, Kṛṣṇa.                                                                       — verse 126 CC Madhya 23

3. Am I facing obstacles on the path of bhakti?

Take shelter of the six goswamis (and by sincerely reading Sri Shad Gosvamy Ashtaka daily).

ei chay gosai kori carana vandan  

jaha hoite bighna-nas abhista-puran

(I offer my obeisances to the feet of these six Gosvamis. By offering them obeisances all obstacles to devotion are destroyed and spiritual desires are fulfilled)

4. Do I have a sincere desire to understand the confidential truth of Sri Caitnaya Mahaprabhu?

Read chapter 8 of CC madhya lila regularly.

 The author requests every reader to hear these talks with faith and without argument. By studying them in this way, one will be able to understand the confidential truth of Śrī Caitanya Mahāprabhu. 

                                                                                                                     — verse 308 CC Madhya lila chapter 8 

5. Do I even have a remote desire to one day serve Sri Radha Krishna directly? 

Here is one clue:

These eleven excellent instructions to the mind grant all spiritual benedictions. A person who stays with the devotees, follows Shrila Rupa Gosvami, and with a sweet voice loudly sings these eleven verses will attain the matchless jewel of direct service to Shri Shri Radha-Krishna in the forest of Gokula.  verse 12 Sri Manah Shiksha

I am sure that there are hundreds of others benedictions given by our acharayas which may be relevant to us at  different stages of our spiritual journey. What is really needed for us is to sincerely seek them, understand their essence by carefully studying them (by always taking shelter of a senior devotee) and finally serve these prayers by reciting them sincerely from our heart.

As an aspiring devotee it will be very beneficial for us if we inculcate a prayerful mood. It will produce miraculous results.

I will grateful if devotees can share their own experience of results of their own prayers to Krishna or having taken shelter of a particular prayer. I will be very happy to share it on this blog or keep it private, whatever way you may desire. Please mail them to giriraj.bcs@gmail.com

All glories to Guru and Gauranga.

All glories to Srila Prabhupada.

Desire trees of Vrindavan!

Hare Krishna.

15th November, 2015. Vrindavan

(Trees of Vrindavan)

Last weekend, in Vrindavan, I stayed with the family of Deepak Handa prabhuji. Prabhuji is a very sincere, steady and soft-hearted devotee, it is indeed a good fortune to be able to get association of such a Vaishnava family.

We started our journey back to Gurgaon and as we were crossing Parikrama marg we saw a western mataji collapsing in front of us on the sidewalk. They were two matajis, in their mid thirties, one of them collapsed and a small crowd had gathered. Deepak prabhuji immediately stopped his car to check if everything was fine. Rather reluctantly, I too followed prabhuji, thinking what help can we give as we are on way back to Gurgaon. As we reached the spot we found that one local devotee had already stopped a rickshaw and was requesting them to show them to a nearby doctor whom he knew personally. Another local mataji too checked and as she found that the mataji who had collapsed was back on her feet and someone is taking her to a doctor,  she was satisfied and left. I too told Prabhuji let’s leave as everything seems settled, she just seemed weak and may be collapsed from exhaustion or weakness. The only hitch in my mind was to which doctor they were being taken to. I told the local devotee to take them to ISKCON hospital but he was firm to show them to the doctor he knew very well, he insisted that many local devotees see this doctor only.

All seemed settled but Deepak prabhuji refused to leave them like this. He said if we are slightly doubtful then let’s check the doctor. We were getting delayed and I thought by going to the doctor we will get further late and we should just move on. Of course I didn’t say it as Prabhuji seemed firm on helping them. Prabhuji went to park his car properly and I followed the two matajis to the doctor, along with the local devotee who recommended him, the doctor was very close by.

The doctor turned out to an ayuvedic doctor/practitioner. He checked her blood pressure, pulse, etc and said that she is suffering from severe acidity, may be even diarrhea, and that she has lost too much fluid.

He then scolded the devotee who brought her stating that he let this mataji lie down on his couch as she seemed to have passed urine, even stool, in her clothes. Suddenly I could smell the stench and felt repulsed. The doctor, said that he can’t do much instantaneously and the best course is that she drinks some energy drink (ORS) and take some precaution in eating. By this time Deepak Prabhuji had walked inside and started talking to the other mataji. We found that they have a flight the same evening to Norway! She didn’t seem to be in a condition to take a long flight today. We also found that they were staying quite close and finally it was agreed to let them go back to their room, get some rest, drink the ORS and then they can decide whatever action they wish to take. All settled.

Deepak Prabhuji then took the prescription for the ORS and requested the two matajis go back to their room and that we will deliver the ORS to their room or at their reception. I thought that one of the mataji is fine and she can easily pick up the ORS from a nearby chemist on their way back to their room. Still out of courtesy I told Prabhuji let me go and get the energy drinks.

As I came out I saw the rickshaw puller washing his seat as he too realised that it was smelling of urine. He didn’t complain as both the matajis again climbed back in the same rickshaw and left. The only thing in my mind was to quickly leave back for Gurgaon.

As I turned back, and slowly walked towards the main road to find a chemist, I suddenly realised that this  morning only I had prayed to one of the trees in MVT to kindly give me an opportunity to serve Dhama or some person in Dhama! Over the last few months it has become a habit for me to pray to the trees in Vrindavan, with amazing results. I had written about it in an early blog few months back (please read it here). I immediately felt utterly ashamed at my internal thought process during this whole incident. I realised that based on my prayer I received an opportunity to help someone in dhama yet I behaved internally like an insensitive moron. I was also relived that I was with Deepak Handa Prabhuji as I am sure that had I been alone I may not have even stopped or stopped and just moved on. But Krishna is so merciful that He ensured that I was with a devotee whose heart was soft. I profusely thanked Krishna and the tree to whom I had prayed in the morning .

In a swift change of mood I was full of excitement and there was sudden spring in my step as I absorbed what really had happened and how my desire got fulfilled within few hours and how close I was to miss it! I knew that had it not been for the presence of Deepak Prabhuji I would have certainly missed it. I went and bought those ORS drinks, then we went together and delivered at mataji’s room.

This incident may sound common but there were many learning for me

  1. It moved something in my heart. I will try to be more sensitive towards helping others, will pray for a softer heart.
  2. Remain constantly in the association of devotees, especially in dhama.
  3. I also learnt a good lesson from Deepak Prabhuji on what does being a devotee really means. I felt utterly ashamed from inside. What kind of a devotee I am with such a hard heart.
  4. This incident also showed me that if we are conscious in Krishna consciousness then we can clearly see that our prayers are being answered but we have become so blind and hard-hearted that we don’t see them.
  5. It solidified my faith that all trees in Vrindavan are Kalpa Vriksha (wish-fulfilling trees)
  6. It also helped me realise that when we pray from the level of our present level of advancement then it helps. I had heard it in a lecture few weeks back that whenever we pray for something then we should pray from the our present level and not try to jump to something higher for which we have no qualification. The example that exalted devotee gave was that if someone gifts us a penthouse in a very fancy building but we find that there are no stairs or lifts for it then it is useless for us. Similarly instead of praying for something very high like Krishna Prema or being present in one of the pastimes of Lord etc., it is better and practical to pray for advancement from our current level to the next level. One can not make progress from an artificial platform. Somehow those words stuck a chord in my heart and from that day my prayers changed and it seems to be working.

In the end, I am copying translation of three verses from Sri Vraja-riti-cintamani, by Srila Visvanatha Cakravarti Thakura chapter 2, text 21, 22 & 23, glorifying the amazing trees of Vrindavan.

From the branches and roots of the trees of Vraja all Brahmas and Shivas emanate. Although the trees of Vraja are as splendid as the sun, they still are wonderful parasols to shade one from the sun’s rays. They shine with the luster of youth, just as the four Kumaras.

The trees of Vraja were never planted or husbanded. They never grew from any seed. They glisten with many leaves and flowers. They bear many ripe, unripe, and ripening fruits.

The splendid trees of Vrajabhumi are perfectly spiritual in nature and full of all potencies. They are just like the incarnations of the Supreme Personality of Godhead. Just as the conditioned souls misunderstand the spiritual nature of the Supreme Lord’s incarnations, in the same way they misunderstand the glory of these trees in Vraja.


All glories to the trees of Vrindavan.

All glories to Sri Guru and Gauranga.

All glories to Srila Prabhupada.

Cry out to Krishna

Hare Krishna

12th Oct, 2015. Gurgaon

I read so much, and hear even more so, on being humble and not just simply humble but humbler than a blade of grass. It feels nice as I read such terms and collect more ‘information’ on how to get into the ‘mood’ of being humble but whenever I am put into a test I fail miserably, a deadly mixture of hardheartedness, passion and ignorance takes over my consciousness. I simply remain a puppet in the hands of three modes of nature.

Many a times I wonder, and now a days also pray to Lord, as to what are You trying to teach me by putting me in such circumstances? Doesn’t the Lord already knows that I have very weak spiritual muscles, doesn’t He know that I will fail such tests, they why? Is it to make me more humble and tolerant or is it tell me that I am just a show bottle devotee with no real substance inside me or to let me realise that I do  not have any love for Krishna as compassion for others is directly linked to our love of Krishna or all of the above!

It is indeed a very grim and helpless condition for me. My heart cries out to Krishna. I wish my heart could speak directly and cry and cry, cry out so loud that it’s steel like frame would burst open. Unfortunately that too doesn’t happen.

But one positive outcome happened this time. With such failures I am learning how each difficult situation forces me to remember Krishna more and more! It makes me realise my helpless condition in this world, gives me some emotions to chant better. In fact  writing this blog I suddenly remember the famous prayer of Kunti Maharani. I can now appreciate, a little bit, the below verse spoken by Kunti Maharani to Krishna

vipadaḥ santu tāḥ śaśvat tatra tatra jagad-guro
bhavato darśanaṁ yat syād apunar bhava-darśanam (SB 1.8.25)

Translation

I wish that all those calamities would happen again and again so that we could see You again and again, for seeing You means that we will no longer see repeated births and deaths.

As I write these heavy words I introspect within my heart if I have the courage to even repeat these words, forget about asking for it! But strangely today I find some courage in my timid heart as I pray to Lord to please put me through the same circumstances again and again and again, let people insult me, beat me, abuse me, let me fail again and again and again, if this alone would help me remember Krishna at all times then let it happen again and again.

I pray to my dear Lord to be merciful upon this wretched soul and take away everything from me, all my so-called possessions, my wealth, my position, my family. Let this world reject me, treat me as a worm in the stool, let the last iota of any sense of ego or to remain independent gets rubbed finely to the ground, but I beg my Gurudeva and Srila Prabhupada  to somehow make me remember Krishna at all time. Let my mind and my heart be engaged only in His thoughts alone and let my own life’s drama take a back seat now, I have had enough of it.

I searched for a prayer and, not surprisingly,  I found one in Saranagati, by Srila Bhaktvinoda Thakura, called Amar Jivana:

āmāra jīvana, sadā pāpe rata, nāhiko punyera leṣa

parere udvega, diyāchi je koto, diyāchi jīvere kleśa

nija sukha lāgi’, pāpe nāhi ḍori, doyā-hīna swārtha-paro

para-sukhe duḥkhī, sadā mithya-bhāṣī, para-duḥkha sukha-karo

aśeṣa kāmanā, hṛdi mājhe mora, krodhī, dambha-parāyana

mada-matta sadā, viṣaye mohita, hiḿsā-garva vibhūṣana

nidrālasya hata, sukārye virata, akārye udyogī āmi

pratiṣṭha lāgiyā, śāṭhya-ācaraṇa, lobha-hata sadā kāmī

e heno durjana, saj-jana-varjita, aparādhi nirantara

śubha-kārya-śūnya, sadānartha-manāḥ, nānā duḥkhe jara jara

bārdhakye ekhona, upāya-vihīna, tā’te dīna akiñcana

bhakativinoda, prabhura caraṇe, kore duḥkha nivedana

Translation:

1) I am an impious sinner and have caused others great anxiety and trouble.

2) I have never hesitated to perform sinful act for my own enjoyment. Devoid of all compassion, concerned only with my own selfish interests, I am remorseful seeing others happy. I am a perpetual liar, and the misery of others is a source of great pleasure for me.

3) The material desires within the core of my heart are unlimited. I am wrathful, devoted to false pride and arrogance, intoxicated by vanity, and bewildered by worldly affairs. Envy and egotism are the ornaments I wear.

4) Ruined by laziness and sleep, I resist all pious deeds; yet I am very active and enthusiastic to perform wicked acts. For worldly fame and reputation I engage in the practice of deceitfulness. Thus I am destroyed by my own greed and am always lustful.

5) A vile, wicked man such as this, rejected by godly people, is a constant offender. I am such a person, devoid of all good works, forever inclined toward evil, worn out and wasted by various miseries.

6) Now in old age, deprived of all means of success, humbled and poor, Bhaktivinoda submits his tale of grief at the feet of the Supreme Lord.

In the end, I pray, may Lord Nityananda be merciful upon me and allow me to visit and roll in the dust of Sri Mayapur Dhama, this seems the only solution to the dreaded disease which has overcome my heart.

All glories to Sri Guru and Gauranga.

All glories to Srila Prabhupada.

Sambandha, Abhidheya and Prayojana.

Hare Krishna.

2nd Oct., 2015. Gurgaon.

Radha Gopinath, Jaipur

(Sri Radha Gopinatha closeup)

According to the Vedic principles, there are three stages of spiritual advancement, namely, sambandha-jñāna, abhidheya and prayojana. Sambandha-jñāna refers to establishing one’s original relationship with the Supreme Personality of Godhead, abhidheya refers to acting according to that constitutional relationship, and prayojana is the ultimate goal of life, which is to develop love of Godhead (premā pum-artho mahān). If one adheres to the regulative principles under the order of the spiritual master, he very easily achieves the ultimate goal of his life. A person who is addicted to the chanting of the Hare Kṛṣṇa mantra very easily gets the opportunity to serve the Supreme Personality of Godhead directly. ( CC Adi 7.73P)

Sri Govindaji acts exactly like the siksa-guru. He is the original preceptor, for Govindaji gives us instructions and an opportunity to serve Him. The diksa-guru is a personal manifestation of the Sri Madana-mohana vigraha. Both of these Deities are worshiped at Vrindavana. Srila Gopinatha is the ultimate attraction of spiritual realization.” (CC Adi 1.47p.)

Sambandha

(Sri Radha Madan Mohan, Karauli)

Srila Sanatana Goswami is the acharya of sambandha, the process of understanding our relationship with Lord Krishna.  The deity for Sambandha is Madan Mohan.

By receiving the mercy of the Radha-Madana-mohana Deity, and by studying the writings of the sambandha-acharya Srila Sana­tana Gosvami, a devotee will attain sambandha-jnana, or knowledge of one’s spiritual identity and his eternal relationship with Sri Krishna. Srila Prabhupada states, “Madana-mohana, Sanatana Gosvami’s Deity, helps us progress in Krishna consciousness. In the execution of Krishna consciousness, our first business is to know Krishna and our relationship with Him, which we can learn by worshiping the Madana-mohana vigraha.”

Abhidheya

(Sri Radha Govind Devji, Jaipur)

Srila Rupa Goswami is the acahrya of abhidheya and he reveals how to execute devotional service. His Deity of Radha-Govindaji accepts service and gives inspiration for increasing surrender on the path of bhakti-yoga. By writing many books Srila Rupa Gosvami has very kindly established the scientific basis of bhakti. “Everyone should read this book, Nectar of Devotion, very attentively, because all the conclusive statements about the Kingdom of Bhakti are contained in this transcendentally valuable book. It is the essence of all Vedic scriptures enlightening about Krishna consciousness. If anyone reads this Nectar of Devotion very carefully, he will have all guidance in the Bhakti Cult.” (Srila Prabhupada lecture 6/27/70)

Prayojana

(Sri Radha Gopinatha, Jaipur)

Sri Raghunatha Dasa Goswami is our prayojana acharya. The Gopinatha Deity is Krishna as master and proprietor of the gopis, the totally surrendered devotees . The Gopinatha Deity represents the prayojana-tattva (truth about life’s ultimate goal”pure love of Krishna. Srila Raghu­natha dasa Gosvami accepts the lotus feet of Srila Rupa Gosvami as his highest aspiration. He thus reveals the way to attain the perfection of one’s loving relationship with Sri Krishna. Through humble prayers and service to the Radha-Gopinatha Deity, and by imbibing the teachings and mercy of Srila Raghunatha dasa Gosvami, a devotee can quickly advance in devotional service and ultimately attain the goal of life, prema-bhakti. (MNS)

“The Gaudiya Vaisnavas who follow strictly in the line of Sri Caitanya Mahaprabhu worship the Divinity by chanting transcendental sounds meant to develop a sense of one’s transcendental relationship with the Supreme Lord (sambandha), and reciprocation of mellows of mutual affection (abhidheya), and ultimately, the achievement of the desired success in loving service (prayo­ja­na). These three Deities (Madana-mohana, Govindaji, Gopinatha) are worshiped in three different stages of one’s development. The followers of Sri Caitanya Mahaprabhu scrupulously follow these principles of approach.” (CC Adi 1.19p.)

In a seminar on bhakti culture HG Srimati Mataji shared three most beautiful verses to describe our relationship with Lord at above three stages, they are most practical for an aspiring devotee. We can recite these verses daily, also before our japa and even during the middle of our japa when the attentiveness seems to slip away. I am trying, and struggling, to follow the same but still reaping some benefits inspite of all my handicaps.

On Sambandha:

caitanyera dāsa muñi, caitanyera dāsa

caitanyera dāsa muñi, tāṅra dāsera dāsa

“I am a servant of Lord Caitanya, a servant of Lord Caitanya. I am a servant of Lord Caitanya, and a servant of His servants.” (cc Adi 6.86)

On Abhidheya:

daśa aparādha yena hṛdaye nā paśe
kṛpā kara mahāprabhu maji nāma rase

O Mahäprabhu, please be merciful to me so that the ten offenses never touch my heart, and I can always remain absorbed in the rasa of the Holy Name. (Harinäma Chintamani 13.59 Bhaktivinoda Thäkura)

On Prayojana:

“prema-dhana vinā vyartha daridra jīvana

‘dāsa’ kari’ vetana more deha prema-dhana”

“Without love of Godhead, My life is useless. Therefore I pray that You accept Me as Your servant and give Me the salary of ecstatic love of God.” (cc Adi .20.37)

As I write this blog, a verse which Krishnadāsa Kavirāja Gosvāmī, author of Caitanya-caritāmṛta, wrote, comes to my memory

vande caitanya-devaṁ taṁ bhagavantaṁ yad-icchayā
prasabhaṁ nartyate citraṁ lekha-raṅge jaḍo ’py ayam

I offer my respects to the Supreme Personality of Godhead, Śrī Caitanya Mahāprabhu, by whose desire I have become like a dancing dog and suddenly taken to the writing of Śrī Caitanya-caritāmṛta, although I am a fool. (cc Adi 8.1)

I humbly seek forgiveness for any mistakes in compiling on this topic.

All glories to Sri Guru and Gauranga.
All glories to Srila Prabhupada.

Are we conscious in Krishna consciousness?

Hare Krishna.

13th September, 2015. Gurgaon

Srila Prabhupada

Since last many days few terms are coming again and again as I read and hear various lectures, become conscious in Krishna consciousness, shelter, surrender and ‘conscious cooperator’. Of course it helps that these days most of my hearing is from lectures from HG Srimati Mataji. These topics are too subtle for my conditioned heart but slowly they are entering my consciousness or let me admit that I trying to imbibe them, struggling but trying is my current state.

As I was trying to get a grip on what is actually meant by the term ‘conscious cooperator’, I wrote a mail to Srimati Mataji and received the below reply

Conscious cooperator’ is a multi-level and very subtle field. It begins with us taking into our heart the very essence of the teachings and mood of Srila Prabhupada and the acaryas he represents so wonderfully.

Then as luck would have it in the next session Mataji broached this topic briefly and I am sharing the same.

Srimati Mataji : As aspiring devotees we should see Krishna’s hand in our daily lives, that whatever is happening in our life, there is certain reason for it. It is there to teach us a certain lesson or redirect us in a certain way.

Another Devotee: When something happens to us many a times we feel we don’t deserve it, so we ask other devotees to pray for us! In a way this also means that Krishna is not intelligent enough that I am receiving something which I don’t need. We should know that everything which is happening to us has a purpose. We should not take on a victim’s mentality and think, even subconsciously, that we are victims. We should see Krishna’s hand in everything happening to us.

Srimati Mataji: Right. If there is something in our life which is causing us disturbance or difficulty, the first thing we should ask is that

Krishna what are You trying to tell me? What am I supposed to learn from this?

Because it will keep coming up again and again and again until we have learned the lesson.

Then Mataji asked another devotee to share her experience of Ouch ! This devotee shared that for a long time she has been praying to Krishna to make her remember His name under all situations. The devotee said that in past she has twice broken her wrist, an elbow and her hip but every time this happened only one word comes out of her mouth… Ouch! She admitted that she is unable to remember Krishna instinctively at such moments and her list of injuries continue!

Srimati Mataji : So there is always a reason why things are happening to us and unless we become a conscious cooperator it won’t help. Our mood should be that I want to learn, that I am trying to understand what I am supposed to learn under these circumstances. What change I am supposed to make in my consciousness and my life.

It is a good practice, if we do not understand the reason, to sincerely pray to Krishna to inspire us in our heart to make us understand what do You want me to learn from it?

I am quoting two paragraphs from the Prayer Srila Prabhupada wrote on board the ship Jaladuta to show the mood of our founder acharaya. This too is from a book Srimati mataji has written on Srila Prabhupada, Mataji entitled these paras as a

Prayer of Surrender

āniyācho jadi prabhu āmāre nācāte
nācāo nācāo prabhu nācāo se-mate
kāṣṭhera puttali jathā nācāo se-mate

O Lord, I am just like a puppet in Your hands. So if You have brought me here to dance, then make me dance, make me dance, O Lord, make me dance as You like.

bhakti nāi veda nāi nāme khub daro
‘bhaktivedānta’ nām ebe sārthak koro

I have no devotion, nor do I have any knowledge, but I have strong faith in the holy name of Kṛṣṇa. I have been designated as Bhaktivedānta, and now, if You like, You can fulfill the real purport of Bhaktivedānta.

Markine Bhagavata-Dharma

(His Divine Grace A.C. Bhaktivedanta Swami Prabhupada at Boston Harbor, September 17, 1965)

The principle here is that Srila Prabhupada is seeing this arrangement as Krishna’s arrangement. And actually we also have to try to develop this vision, to see Krishna’s plan in everything, to see Krishna’s arrangement in everything- that we have surrendered to Him, and so he is taking care of us.

Sometimes we may experience setbacks or disappointments ,but actually Krishna has some reason for giving them to us. We should try to understand that, and if we do we’ll never be disappointed in life.

Prabhupada’s complete surrender is amazing: “I am Your instrument. You can use me. You can engage me as You wish. I have no agenda of my own, no personal agenda. My agenda is whatever You desire. I am here to accept Your desire as my life and soul, to give everything to please You, to serve You.

(Markine Bhagavata-Dharma commentary  by HH Giriraj Maharaj, Three rivers, CA-2002)

So we get some idea as to what should be the mindset of a devotee of Lord Krishna: 

  • See Krishna’s hand in all our circumstances
  • Have complete faith and dependence on Krishna’s intelligence 
  • Learn to become a ‘conscious cooperator’.

All glories to Sri Guru and Gauranga.

All glories to Srila Prabhupada.

PS : I have received many mails requesting me to share Srimati Mataji’s lectures. Many of her lectures are private but here is the link to an amazing seminar on the Holy Name mataji gave at Sri Sri Radha Gopinath temple, Chowpatty, some years back. If we hear it  sincerely and seriously then there is no reason why our quality of japa would not improve.  Press here for the link.