Heart of a Vaishnava revealed

Hare Krishna Dear devotees,

We often read and hear, how being a devotee, our heart should be soft, full of humility and compassion for others. Sometime we are not even sure where to draw the final line as there are different instructions for devotees at different levels of consciousness. We do not even know what is true humility and many a times wonder how a pure Vaishnava thinks, what are his emotions and how does he acts?  

Caitanya Mahaprabhu quoted the below verse, from Mahabharat, to a brahmana during his visit to Mathura

tarko ’pratiṣṭha śrutayo vibhinnā
n
āsāv ṛṣir yasya mata na bhinnam
dharmasya tattva
nihita guhāyāṁ
mah
ājano yena gata sa panthāḥ

‘Dry arguments are inconclusive. A great personality whose opinion does not differ from others is not considered a great sage. Simply by studying the Vedas, which are variegated, one cannot come to the right path by which religious principles are understood. The solid truth of religious principles is hidden in the heart of an unadulterated, self-realized person. Consequently, as the śāstras confirm, one should accept whatever progressive path the mahājanas advocate.’

(CC Madhya 17.186)

There have been innumerable great devotees whose example we can take, Srimad Bhagavatam also mentions names of 12 mahajans. So which mahajan should we look up to?

Interestingly, Srila Bhaktivinoda Thakura has stated that for us,  Gaudia Vaishnava , the followers of Mahaprabhu are the modern mahajans. We should follow them.  He writes :

The åñis and mahätmäs who have taught conduct before the appearance of Sri Caitanya Mahaprabhu are counted among the previous mahäjanas. The conduct seen in the mahäjanas after the appearance of Sri Caitanya Mahaprabhu is the conduct of later mahäjanas. The conduct of the later mahäjanas is superior and should be adopted. The conduct of Sri Caitanya Mahaprabhu and His followers is meant to teach people, so that conduct should be followed in all respects.

So let us hear about the thinking, feeling and acting of one of such mahajans, Srila Haridas Thakur, whom Caitanya Mahaprabhu declared to be Namacharya of our sampradaya. So he is definitely qualified to be one of modern mahajans. Let us find about the condition of his heart from Caitanya Bhagavat, may be we feel inspired to have a re-look at our own heart. 

Background

Srila Haridas Thakur was born in a muslim family in a village called Buron, and because of his presence there, many people became purified and took up the chanting of the holy name. After some years he left his village and travelled to a place near the river Ganga. He finally settled in the village of Phulia near Santipura.

He  passed his time wandering on the banks of the Ganga chanting the name of the Supreme Lord Krishna. It was common to see him dancing while he sang the glories of Lord Krishna’s name. People would gather around him just to see the unrestricted tears of love of Godhead that flowed profusely from his eyes, drenching his entire body. Even the strictest atheists marvelled at his behaviour.

The Circumstances

The local Qazi became envious of Haridas Thakur’s popularity and reported to the Nawab, “This man is acting like a Hindu; arrest him and punish him appropriately.” Thus Haridas Thakura was arrested.

In the court he was accused of practicing Hindu religion despite being a muslim. When Srila Haridas Thakur replied that God is one and the difference between Hindu God and Muslim God is in Name only, he was sentenced by the Nawab to be lashed in 22 market places until he dies.  

He was then dragged by the soldiers from one market place  to another, lashing him mercilessly. By the grace of Lord Krishna, Haridasa felt little pain in his body. Just like Prahlada in the Srimad Bhagavatam who was tortured by demons, Haridas never suffered at all. Not only was Haridas freed from his pain, whoever remembers this story of Srila Haridas will also be saved from the miseries of life. Throughout his ordeal, Haridasa’s one emotion was pity for the sentries. “O Lord Krishna, please be merciful upon these poor souls so they may not be punished because of me.”

(What would be our reaction if  someone were to give us a humiliating public chastisement, or God forbid, a tight slap, for no fault of ours?) 

What Krishna will not do for His pure devotee !

During Caitanya Mahaprabhu’s mahaprakash pastime, He called for Haridas Thakur and shared that when Haridas Thakur was being beaten how Lord wanted to kill all the soldiers but He could not do so because Haridas Thakur himself was praying for those very soldiers!

Sri Caitanya Mahaprabhu revealed:

I hesitated in My heart to punish them for it will disturb you, knowing your compassionate nature.

My Sudarsan disc weapon was rendered impotent. I could not strike those men because you were determined to forgive them and so unable to see your misery I protected you from their lashes by placing My back on your back.

“I accepted all those lashes meant for you on My back, see the marks on my back.

Haridas Thakur’s glorification of Mahaprabhu

When Haridas heard about the Lord’s magnanimous deed he fell swooning to the ground. He lost all external consciousness and was immersed in an ocean of ecstasy.

Thakura Haridas said, “O Lord Visvambhara! You are the Lord and Protector of the Universe, now the responsibility of delivering a lowly fallen wretch like me rests on You, My Lord. How can I describe Your transcendental glories as I do not possess any good qualifications, I am sinful, and I am not even within the Vedic society.

(We all have many demoniac propensities but how do we see ourselves in the mirror every day?)

Just seeing me makes a person vulnerable to sin, and touching me makes one so contaminated that he must bath immediately; how can I say anything about Your divine pastimes?

(Whereas our mere touch or at least our power of speech is capable to turn any non-devotee into a devotee, God’s gift to mankind, only if others were to follow my instructions, or better, hear my pastimes!)

There is one fact that You yourself have stated, anyone remembering your lotus feet, be he an insignificant and fallen as an insect, is never forsaken by You. Whereas even a mighty king falls from grace if he disregards Your lotus feet. I am incapable of remembering You although I know you shelter the most impoverished soul if he simply remembers You.

(Remember Haridas Thakur would daily chant 300,000 names or 192 rounds every day. What most of us chant in 12 days!)

The evil Duryodhana and Suhsasana dragged the righteous Draupadi into the palace court wanting to disrobe her. Confronted with the danger of disgrace she remembered You, Krishna. And because of this You made her sari endlessly long by Your mystic potency. Yet the evil doers could not perceive Your hand in this.

I am so sinful that I cannot remember such a magnanimous Personality as You; O Lord! please therefore give me shelter at Your lotus feet.

The demon Hiranyakasipu inflicted all varieties of treachery and brutal methods trying to kill Prahlad like poisoning, hurling down from the mountain, throwing in boiling cauldron of oil etc. Yet throughout his tribulations Prahlad meditated upon Your lotus feet and was saved from each and every calmity. In this way You humbled many of his enemies and took away all their vitality and strength: finally You appeared in Person due to Prahlad’s meditation.

Once the five Pandavas were in grave dilemma fearing the wrath of Durvasa Muni, but by remembering You, You appeared personally and saved them. You calmed Yudhisthira Maharaja with your assuring words, see I am already here, you just sit down and relax and I will take care of Durvasa Muni and his army of disciples.”

Only the shred of vegetable left stuck to the side of the pot after the Pandavas had eaten was taken by; Lord Krishna relishing the thought of coming to His devotees aid. The sage with his disciples meanwhile bathing in the river suddenly felt full in the belly like having eaten a sumptuous meal” ashamed and tearful they fled.

The miraculous benefits of remembering Your lotus feet was amply demonstrated by the Pandavas in this incident. The path of true devotion for everyone is to remember You; You perform Your super excellent activities to rescue Your devotees.

(My own pastimes spontaneously start floating in my mind when I am chanting, for some strange reason happenings in my own life seems to be more interesting then Krishna’s pastimes)

“O Lord! I am such a destitute that I do not even possess the sweetness of Your memory and yet You have not forsaken me. Although I am unfit to see You, You are present before me in person. I am praying to You now for only one benediction.”

(Why is Krishna taking so much time to reciprocate? I am almost ready to join the boys!)

Lord Chaitanya replied, “Say all that you want to say, there is nothing that I do not want to give you.

Haridas spoke to the Lord with folded hands, “O Lord, I have known only misfortune yet You give me so much hope. Just allow me to partake of the remnant of foodstuffs of Your devotees totally surrendered to Your lotus feet. Let this activity be my permanent and most prominent service life after life. My sinful birth and existence is miserable, without remembering You, but now please make my life successful by granting me the remnant of Your servitors.

(What! Not to become a gopi? Not even a gopa or even a simple servant of Krishna. We can close our eyes and consider what will be our reply if Krishna decides to manifest in front of us and says ‘Ask Me anything you may desire’)

I feel within my heart that I have committed a grave offense by asking of You to situate a elevated status of that of a Vaishnava, although I am grossly unfit.

( He is considering it an offense that he even asked or desired to come to the level of a Vaishnava!)

O Lord! my master, Protector and the maintainer of the entire creation, I am spiritually lifeless, therefore kindly forgive my ignorance.

(After joining ISKCON I have gathered so much information!)

O Lord Visvambhara, the beautiful son of Mother Saci, You are my master, so be merciful to me and keep me as a dog in the house of a Vaishnava.”

( Not even a cow ! who is at least tied within the boundary of the home. A dog is not even allowed inside a cultured Vaishnava’s home)

Haridas Thakur was overwhelmed by feeling of ecstatic devotional emotions and he repeatedly petitioned the Lord, his desire for humility and devotional service unfulfilled.

( We are feeling morose simply by reading what all is Haridas Thakur requesting from Mahaprabhu!)

Caitanya Mahaprabhu reveals His heart

Lord Chaitanya replied, “Listen My dear Haridas, you are a highly elevated Vaishnava, if anyone spends a day in your services and association or you kindly speak to someone for a short time, that person certainly achieves Me, there is no doubt about this. Whoever respects and serves you does so to Me also, for I perpetually reside within you.

As my servitor Your position is unique, you have therefore imprisoned Me within your heart eternally. I bless you that since you are crowned already with a faultless character that you will always continue to worship and serve Me and My devotees without a single deviation or offense.”

A tumultuous sound of joy from the Vaishnavas greeted Lord Chaitanya’s boon to Haridas Thakur. High birth, caste, fruitive activities or wealth are worthless commodities to achieve love of Godhead only the intense loving desire for Krishna can bring one to the lotus feet of Krishna.

Where do I go from here, I definitely have a long way to go!

In the spiritual matters there is no loss or anything disheartening everything has a positive outcome. Please rejoice as we read below the benediction of just hearing the above chapter from Caitanya Bhagavat, Madhya Lila, chapter 10.

One who hears this pastime of the Lord and Haridas Thakur with proper faith will certainly enjoy the fruit of Lord Krishna prema. These words are not my concoction but the bold declarations of all scriptures. One is sure to experience the bliss of devotional service to Lord Krishna if one hears the transcendental activities of the pure devotees of the Supreme Lord. All glories to Haridas Thakur, a giant amongst the Vaishnavas, remembering him one is freed from all sinful reactions.

Where to read: ISKCONDESIRETREE E BOOK

Where to hear :  Audio book format in Android mobile app

Now it is upon us to see whether we even have a desire to enjoy the fruit of Krishna prema or not!

 

All glories to heart of a Vaishnava.

All glories to Srila Haridas Thakur.

All glories to Sri Guru and Gauranga.

All glories to Srila Prabhupada.

 

Your servant,

Giriraj dasa

Raising our children in Krishna consciousness

Hare Krishna.

27th July, 2015. Gurgaon.

I regularly hear parents complaining that their children don’t listen to them or they do not have basic etiquette while talking to parents or siblings, everything is about their own self.

Some examples

During a recent house program a Mataji marveled at the 8 year son of a devotee couple, how effortlessly he sat through the whole  1.5 hours program and completed his homework without any protest. Mataji recollected that before coming to this program she yelled at her 15 year old daughter to study for her class test next day. She was exasperated just narrating it. Being the father of a teenage girl my own self, I could relate to her frustration.

Few months back a worried father called up to seek help as his son seems to be trading illegal substances in his first year at college.

Another father shared how his son is ‘printing’ currency notes on his home printer and trading it just for ‘kicks’.

Are we willing to change for our children’s sake ?

The real surprise is that when I ask the parent if they would be willing to change for the sake of their children, they think of my changed lifestyle,  and the generally the answer is a polite N0!

The problem is that we, as parents, are ourselves so busy in so-called `enjoying my life’ that we are also guilty in neglecting our duty of raising our kids properly. In many cases the material life has become so busy, with both parents working hard, children are bound to get neglected. Of course, today the whole atmosphere is polluted with exposure from TV, mobile and now the final nail has been stuck by internet. Most of the digital games to promote hatred and violence in our young children. But all this should mean more care and protection and not less.

In my little experience I have found that where both the parents are devotees, children usually come up nicely as both role models are similar. Issues crop up where only one of them, mother or father, is practicing  Krishna consciousness. At times children become confused but generally stay grounded and pick up some or many good habits depending upon many factors. Since kids spend most  time with Matajis, it becomes more challenging if mothers are not devotees. Any devotee must spend a lot of time with his kids. Sometimes the devotees get so busy in their own sadhana that they forget about sharing love and preach to their own kids, may be because of resistance from the other half. For example: a father must listen and play with kids and in some plays introduce Krishna consciousness. We have to make an effort to change their thinking, their thought process and make them ready to face both material world and progress in spiritual world. But the big problem is where both parents have no idea about spirituality, it is a big gamble for them in today’s environment.

Many times we forget that our children imitate and absorb more from our own behaviour. They carefully observe how their parents behave with each other, with them and with the outside world. We cannot teach them to be polite and then fight like cats and dogs in front of them. They will not ‘hear’ us if we don’t ‘hear’ them. I am also learning all this the hard way.

I spoke to Shyamsundar Prabhu and sought his views as Prabhuji was himself raised in a Krishna consciousness family and now he is a proud father of two very well raised kids. Prabhuji stated:  We need to comprehend our kids’ strengths and weakness. The parents must see whether to plug weakness of your child so that it doesn’t become impediment in the path of their spiritual progress or harness their strength so that they become more fixed in bhakti and weaknesses get effaced over a period of time. For example: my son was very good in reading but had low attention span. I gave him KC books and made the glories of Krishna so interesting for him that his concentration span increased by leaps and bound. I focused on his weakness of concentration: read Krishna book to him; exchanged kathas and learning from each kathas. On the other hand my daughter had interest in music and food but totally disinterested in philosophy discussion. So all I did was to use her strength in music and recognition by others to motivate her. She is now learning the importance of humility that she has to sing for the pleasure of the Lord and devotees and not for her own recognition.

Prabhuji also stressed that we should never loose hope that your kids won’t come in Krishna Consciousness. Keep trying. But do not push too hard that chord breaks. It should be subtle and slowly if there is resistance. Patience pays. For kids to respect, the kids must look up to us and have higher standards so that they have something to achieve as benchmark. Both, parents and kids, should be able to push each other to have mutual respect and love for each other.

 Srila Prabhupada wrote many letters to his disciples on raising the kids and I am sharing some.

What is the aim of married life ?

The aim of married life is to produce nice children, Kṛṣṇa conscious children. That is the best service to the human society: produce nice children. Don’t produce cats and dogs. That is my request. Otherwise don’t produce. Remain separate. Separate means there is no separation, but don’t produce children. That is my request. Putrārthe… Pitā na sa syāj jananī sā syāt. The Bhāgavata says, “One should not become a father, one should not become a mother, unless they are able to protect the children from the imminent danger of death.” What is that? The cycle of birth and death. If you can train your children to Kṛṣṇa consciousness, then your child will go back to Godhead in this life. That should be the aim. As you will try to go back to Godhead in this life, similarly, you shall take charge of your children that he can also go in this life back to Godhead. The mother’s and father’s duty should be that “This child is born out of my womb, and this is the last phase of his life, to come into this womb of any animal or man—no more material body.” That should be the responsibility of father and mother. That is the direction of Bhāgavata. (Paramananda & Satyabhama’s Wedding — Montreal, July 22, 1968: )

Who should beget children ?

If you and your wife want to have children for raising them in Krishna Consciousness, and if you are prepared to take the full responsibility for delivering them from the clutches of birth and death, then I have no objection. (Letter to Sri Govinda — Jaipur 20 January, 1972)

How to raise them ?

The basic idea of raising children as they are described in the Vedic literature is that from birth till the age of five years the parents may be very lenient with the child. From the ages six to ten they should tighten the discipline of their child, and from the ages of ten till the sixteenth year the parents should be as strict as a tiger with their child so that he will be afraid to be disobedient at all. Then after the sixteenth year the parents shall treat their child as a friend, and the child is allowed to gradually develop his adult responsibility and independence. (Letter to Vibhavati – Los Angeles 15 July, 1969)

Please also take care of the children. They are our future hopes, and the adolescent age is the most dangerous age. It is the turning point of one’s life. In this age, if you take care of the children, surely they will come out first class Krishna Conscious devotees. (Excerpt from a letter written to Hayagriva — London 7 November, 1969)

Don’t neglect them for any cause.

Please accept my blessings. I am in due receipt of your letter dated July 19, 1972,….. For you, child-worship is more important than deity-worship. If you cannot spend time with him, then stop the duties of pujari. At least you must take good care of your son until he is four years old… These children are given to us by Krishna, they are Vaisnavas and we must be very careful to protect them. These are not ordinary children, they are Vaikuntha children, and we are very fortunate we can give them chance to advance further in Krishna Consciousness. That is very great responsibility, do not neglect it or be confused. Your duty is very clear. (Letter to Arundhati — Amsterdam 30 July, 1972)

Can they be trained ?

Pradyumna: “Children who appear in such families fortunately generally imitate such worship of the Deities, even in the way…”

Prabhupāda: Children’s nature is to imitate, because they have to learn. So nature has given them the propensity to imitate. So the first imitation begins from the parents. So if the parent is nice Kṛṣṇa devotee, naturally the children become devotees. That is the opportunity of taking birth in a Vaiṣṇava family. So you are all Vaiṣṇavas. If your children do not become Vaiṣṇava in the future, then it is a great, I meant to say, fault on your part. So you should be very cautious, careful, that children are not going astray, they are becoming actually Kṛṣṇa conscious. That means you have to imitate, er, you have to be devotee, and they will imitate. By imitation, imitation, imitation, they will come to Kṛṣṇa consciousness. Then they will never give it up. (Lecture on SB 2.3.15 — Los Angeles, June 1, 1972)

I want hundreds of children !

Regarding the child problem: I may inform you that all our children born of the Krishna conscious parents, they are welcome and I want hundreds of children like that. Because in future we expect to change the face of the whole world, because child is the father of man. Anyway, I have seen Malati is nursing her child so nicely that she attended my meeting every day and the child was playing and she never cried. Similarly, Lilavati’s child also never cries or disturbs the meeting. Lilavati was always present with her child, so it depends on the mother. How to keep the child comfortable, so that it will not cry. The child cries only when it feels uncomfortable. The child’s comfort and discomfort depends on the mother’s attention. (Letter to Krsna Devi — Montreal 21 August, 1968)

So we see that being a parent come with lots of responsibility and that should not mean just pushing Krishna consciousness down their throat or giving up when we face resistance. Specially in a family atmosphere one has lead with more effort and humility. We should see ourselves more as a caretaker whom Krishna has handed over these special souls for some time. Even when we face resistance we should continue our efforts with lot of affection and productive time, they will bear result. We should see such circumstances as Krishna’s special mercy on us that He has given us some challenging situation which is good for our own spiritual progress, on job training! All this may involve praying and then striving to inculcate more compassion, humility, intelligence, affection, a softer heart, patience, faith in Krishna and much more but don’t we all hanker to have these very qualities as a devotee!

All glories to Srila Prabhupada.

All glories to Sri Guru and Gauranga.

How a Vaishanava sees others !

Hare Krishna.
18th Feb, 2015. Gurgaon

Vaishnava-Etiquette-4-More-on-Behavior

I recently heard a very nice lecture by HG Vaisesika Prabhuji gave in Mayapur.

Translation
The symptoms of a sādhu are that he is tolerant, merciful and friendly to all living entities. He has no enemies, he is peaceful, he abides by the scriptures, and all his characteristics are sublime.
(SB 3.25.2)

In his short lecture prabhuji was able to tell what is the result a vaishanava’s tapasya ? How a vaishanva is always compassionate on others and how should we see non devotees and finally how we can engage everyone in the service of Lord, all points were an eye opener for this shudra. In the purport Srila Prabhupada writes that the purpose of austerity is also to make our hear soft, this relates to what we recently heard from HH Bhakti Vijnana maharaj on making our soft, I always thought ( wrongly, this is not for a vaishanava) that austerity makes one’s heart hard !!

Prabhuji began `Although a Vaisnava has sufficient power in tapasya, he does not become angry when put into difficulty. If one undergoes tapasya but does not become a Vaisnava, however, one does not develop good qualities. For example, Hiranyakasipu and Ravana also performed great austerities, but they did so to demonstrate their demoniac tendencies. Vaisnavas must meet many opponents while preaching the glories of the Lord, but Sri Caitanya Mahaprabhu recommends that they not become angry while preaching. Lord Caitanya Mahaprabhu has given this formula: trnad api sunicena taror api sahisnuna/ amanina manadena kirtaniyah sada harih [Cc. adi 17.31]. “One should chant the holy name of the Lord in a humble state of mind, thinking oneself lower than the straw in the street; one should be more tolerant than a tree, devoid of all sense of false prestige and should be ready to offer all respect to others. In such a state of mind one can chant the holy name of the Lord constantly.” Those engaged in preaching the glories of the Lord should be humbler than grass and more tolerant than a tree; then they can preach the glories of the Lord without difficulty.

Prabhuji said In the prosecution of the Krishna Consciousness movement, practically everything can be used in the service of Krishna. Srila Prabhupada states in this verse about the kinds of austerities devotees perform. The result of those austerities is that their hearts become more forgiving.

Srila Prabhupada says in the purport that our austerity must make our heart soft. We must become more forgiving. What does it mean to be forgiving? Prabhuji said that there are three ways of seeing people:

A) One way is according to their past. This is the most conservative. Such and such has sinned in the past therefore they are not qualified. Basically we see people how they have behaved with us in their past, this is the judgmental mode and I fall under this category most of the times.

B) Prabhuji then added that someone more liberal might look at someone only in the present, they may say to forget the past. What is he doing now?

I once asked Shyamsundar Prabhuji on how to overcome this mentality of judging others. Prabhuji then shared how he once requested HH Vedvyasapriya Maharaj a cure for the same disease and Maharaj told him that the key to overcome is that we should see everyone with a `refreshed button pressed’ ! What does it mean ? It means that we should see everyone without remembering that person’s past dealing with us or what we heard about him from others, this is specially true with for those devotees with whom we are not on best terms or who may have even offended us in the past. We deal fresh, with no prejudice holding us back. I try to imbibe this wonderful instruction but mostly at the need of the hour I tend to forget it ! Still I push myself to imbibe it and whenever I have been able to apply this formula it works wonderfully well, equally surprising the other person and my own self.

C) Prabhuji said that the most liberal person sees the future potential of the living entity. Those who know the miracle of distributing the holy name and the literary kirtan of the holy name, written down on pages, to people all over the world, believe in the power of this literature and the names of God, therefore they become forgiving of what has been done in the past or even what they are doing right now.

This is one step further higher, what a wonderful way to see others, to look at their potential. I wonder that this must be how Srila Prabhupada would have seen all the hippies in USA, not what they done in their past or what they are doing now but what they could become ! This is a wonderful benchmark to copy.

Vaisesika Prabhuji said that `It is in using everything to connect these living entities with Krishna, that we perform our greatest tapasya.’ Sukadeva Goswami tells kirata, to believe it that anyone from any section of society, even the most degraded, can come to the topmost position because of the power of Lord Vishnu that comes through his devotees.’

Prabhuji ended his lecture with the below story.

In San Francisco, I went with a group of devotees to chant Hare Krishna and distribute books and prasadam downtown. It was the most busy day of the year, called Black Friday. If anyone’s heard of Black Friday, please say Haribol ! In a crowd of people coming down the street who were watching the Harinam Sankirtan, I saw a couple, a young man and a young woman together. They were dressed like the hippies of old. As soon as they saw the Sankirtan party they stopped, as if mesmerized. They just stared and did not move.

I went over and introduced them to the Bhagavad Gita. They were so interested that they sat down right on the sidewalk in the middle of the whole crowd. They began to go through the Bhagavad Gita. I suggested at one point that they keep the book and asked if they could give a donation. When someone gives some hard earned money in return for a book, it qualifies them to read the book.

They searched up and down the many pockets that they had in their clothes. They couldn’t find any money at all. The man pulled out a blue cigarette lighter and he looked at me and said, “You don’t want this.” I said, “Yes I do, give it to me.” It turned out that it was their most valuable possession. They needed it to.

I realized how important it was about a half an hour later when some of their friends came up to me. They said, “My friends are over there but they sent us over here because we need a light.” But it made me realize that they had given up something very important to them. So I took that blue lighter home. And I cleaned it more than I’ve ever cleaned any item before. I keep it with my puja paraphernalia. Every day when I light a ghee wick or an incense to offer to the Saligram or to Giriraja, I think of that couple. I pray that their service will be accepted.

To hear this lecture, please press HERE.

My own learning from this lecture

  1. When I meet people I should try to see what they could become !
  2. All austerities should make my heart softer.
  3. I should practice to become more forgiving.
  4. I should strive to engage everyone in the service of Lord, including my own self.
  5. I live to be corrected.

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

p.s. : I have recently added two more pages on the blog

www.forthepleasureoflordkrishna.com/caitanya-mahaprabhu

( It’s a brief essay on the life of Mahaprabhu by Srila Bhaktivinoda Thakura and the shastric pramana of Mahaprabhu advent in this yuga)

www.forthepleasureoflordkrishna.com/sri-caitanya-caritam%E1%B9%9Bta-teaches

(I have uploaded almost all my general notes from CC in Q&A form on this page)

I request all the readers to kindly go through these pages at leisure and if you like then please share with your friends.

Prajalpa – Why to avoid it ?

Hare Krishna.

2nd August, 2014, Gurgaon.

Quotes-by-Srila-Prabhupada-on-Prajalpa

I was sharing yet another mercy of Tulasi maharani at our home with ShyamSundar prabhu yesterday morning. While continuing our conversation over phone, as usual, our discussions went over from one topic to another and in the end we discussed how some devotees should have done such and such thing better and then the conversation ended. After ending our conversation I realised that from sharing a realisation and mercy I went into a judging mood about other devotees and that shows very poorly on my consciousness that even after reading and hearing so many instructions on this regard how easily I get into gossiping about devotees, prajapala. I immediately sent an SMS to ShyamSundar Prabhu requesting him to please stop me whenever I start discussing other devotee. In fact, I added that we should not even discuss other devotees behind their back. He heartily agreed. I felt much lighter.

In the evening I was deleting old mails from my phone when I saw that in one of the mails was a seminar done by HG Radheshyam Prabhuji and Chaitanya Charan Prabhuji, Pune. The title of the topic, you guessed it – Prajalapa !! Godsend for me ! I heard the complete lecture on my way to and from office and it contained a wonderful learning for me. I am writing some part of it for the pleasure of devotees and I hope and pray to Srila Prabhupada that I too will learn something from this lecture.

Sripad-Radhe-Shyam-2

Prajalpa (with HG Radheshyam Pabhu) Posted: 04 Sep 2013 03:46 AM

The seminar started with HG Radheshyam Prabhu’s lecture. Prabhuji started with giving a general view of what is prajalapa and what is not prajalpa.

Prabhuji then glorified how Nectar of Instructions is a great guide book for all serious devotees as it teaches sadhaks the control of the senses, avoiding the unfavourable, accepting the favourable things in bhakti and how to know different levels of Vaishanavas and how to associate with them. Prabhuji then defined some terms

Prajalpa means useless talk.
Jana sangha means association of non devotees.

Prabhuji then quoted the famous second verse from NoI

atyāhāraḥ prayāsaś ca prajalpo niyamāgrahaḥ
jana-saṅgaś ca laulyaṁ ca ṣaḍbhir bhaktir vinaśyati

Translation
One’s devotional service is spoiled when he becomes too entangled in the following six activities: (1) eating more than necessary or collecting more funds than required; (2) over-endeavoring for mundane things that are very difficult to obtain; (3) talking unnecessarily about mundane subject matters; (4) practicing the scriptural rules and regulations only for the sake of following them and not for the sake of spiritual advancement, or rejecting the rules and regulations of the scriptures and working independently or whimsically; (5) associating with worldly-minded persons who are not interested in Kṛṣṇa consciousness; and (6) being greedy for mundane achievements.

Prabhuji then explained how Srila Prabhupada and Srimad Bhagavtam use very strong words against prajalpa.

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Prabhuji then added that when a Jiva comes into this world he does jana sangha, the result is laulayam- Material greed. He then does prayaas, works very hard. For what purpose ? for atyahaara to collect more than what he needs. For doing prayaas in jana sangha he does prajalpa !

Prabhuji then explained that we have to use our intelligence to say that not everything minus Krishna is parajalapa. Prabhuji explained how Sri Sanatana Goswami would often go to villages and talk to brajawasis and ask them about their health, how did the crops do and their general well being. The brajawasis too considered Sri Sanatana Goswami as their Guru because his inspiration brought them more close to Krishna. So such talk may sound mundane but it was not mundane talk.

Prabhuji gave some examples and stated that we should not behave like a crazy person at home – saying that I won’t talk anything else other than Krishna or don’t talk prajalpa with me to our family members, and we should be level headed. Level headed means that we behave according to time, place and circumstance. That means we ask children how are they doing in their studies, we ask well being of our family members, we help in all the daily chores of the home, etc. That is what Lord Caitanya told Raghunath Das Goswami that You manage your business externally, meditate on Krishna internally. That means externally we should look like a ‘karmi’ a materialistic person, speaking, behaving with our friends and relatives for the sake of pleasing them but internally we should meditate on Krishna. So we can do general talking with our friends and relatives and that may be considered all right but in the name of being practical a devotee should not go the extreme of becoming completely materialistic.

Srimad Bhagavatam is very strict on not using our senses for mundane things and Prabhuji quoted some very strong verses from Bhagavatam in this regard.

Prabhuji spoke how these days people want to speak every topic under the sun except spiritual topics. Prabhuji said that we are living in the times of media madness where so much global gossip through internet, TV, radio, all this is going on. So while living in the material world we should not develop tendency to do prajalpa with friends and relatives but at the same times among devotees we should know how to speak according to time, place and circumstances. Prabhuji said we can talk directly about Krishna, we can speak indirectly about Krishna (temple management issues, etc.) but there should not be any useless talk.

Prabhuji said that prajalpa is a very important topic because our tongue and mind are connected. The tongue has two activities, eating and speaking, so we should only eat prasadam and speak only glories of Krishna. And because tongue and mind are connected so if we speak about Krishna our mind gets filled with remembrance of Krishna. Similarly if we speak nonsense with tongue then the mind gets filled with nonsense. That is why we should try to speak about glories of Krishna, pastimes of Prabhupada, share with others what we have learned, etc. instead of using the tongue to vibrate useless things like gossip.

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It was then the turn of HG Chaitanya Charan Prabhuji to speak.

Prabhuji started his lecture by stating that the path of virtue and path of vice is always open in all the times and similarly the path of prajalpa is also there throughout the ages, but in modern times there are three main differences :

  1. Gossip is culturally glamourised. General knowledge about things which are absolutely irrelevant to people is glamourised today. There is a term called information junkie, it defines a person who knows a lot of junk information. Much of the information we acquire is useless but because of the social standards which are there, whenever there is a discussion between some people everybody basically wants to show of how `aware’ I am of current situations. So there is a culture of glamourisation of knowledge that is irrelevant if not harmful. That comes because everyone starts thinking that this is very good as I know so much.

  2. Intellectually rationalised. This means that a person starts thinking that this knowledge must be useful for me. There are so many things I need to know. In the past the knowledge was primarily for action and application. People would learn about farming, how do you dig, how do you plough, etc. So knowledge was always connected with its utility, its functionality. Never before in the history of humanity people had so much information about which there was no action to be done.

Say we say how many daughter so and so film star has, how does this matter to anyone ! When we acquire so much knowledge not only does it swamp our mind but it also makes us feel helpless. E.g. a bomb exploded in Iraq or an American ambassador was killed in Africa or there was a hurricane in America. Now if we think how much information we read in daily newspapers is going to change what we are going to do on that day, or the next day or the next month, very little. So all the information we acquire its utility for us is near zero. But somehow oh, you should be aware of current affairs.' Prabhuji said certainly we should not be completely ignorant of the things, but is not that everything which happens everywhere, we need to keep abreast of it. So its intellectually rationalised oh! I have to be up to date, specially where general knowledge is just generaltrivial’ knowledge.

  1. Technologically facilitated. Even 100 to 150 years ago news would travel at the speed of the fastest transport available. But from the invention of the telegraph onwards the availability of irrelevant news has increased so much that now, because of the internet, within moments we get information from every corner of the world. So what does this news do ? Sociologist say that news in nothing new, it’s the same old things are happening to new people !! What are things that happen in this world ? There is birth, old age, disease, death, someone loses, someone wins, someone has some happiness and someone has some distress, its the same old thing happening to new people and we call that news. Actually there is nothing new about the news. But because news from everything is so easily available that our tendency for prajalpa becomes technologically facilitated.

One last consequence of this information bombardment ? As we said that when we are living in a society where information to action ratio is so low, we have so much information and so little action, and the consequence of this carries over into our spiritual life where we also want to acquire a lot of information but we don’t do any action about what we already know ! So we go on- what is said in this book, what is said in that book, what is said in that book. Prabhuji narrated an incident when HH Jayadvaita Maharaj was once asked a question. He was asked 3-4 things, what does this, this and this things mean ? Maharaj replied `that’s not a question that’s a quiz, next questions please !’ Prabhuji added, sure, we can be philosophically inquisitive and learn information but the point is here that often because of our infatuation with information we forget the application of the part and we just think that spirituality is about acquiring more and more information.

And over the period of time we will start feeling oh! there is no new information available in Krishna consciousness philosophy, whatever information is there, I know about it. And then we will start getting bored. But the boredom in because there is no newness. The information is for action, the action is developing a relationship with Krishna. So when we use the information in Krishna consciousness for developing a relationship with Krishna, the newness in Krishna consciousness will come not from the newness of the information but from the newness about our connection with Krishna. As we deepen our relationship with Krishna we are able to connect with Him deeper and deeper. And that will bring newness in our life.

HG Radhesyam Prabhuji later narrated how as recent as in Lord Chaitanaya’s time, devotees would talk only about Krishna while doing general things like plucking flowers, etc but. now it is just mundane talk, cricket scores, office gossip, basically awakening the material emotions of people instead of awakening their spiritual emotions.

Chaitanya Charan Prabhuji cautioned that in the name of avoiding prajalpa we should not become insensitive, we must follow general society courtesies and greetings. We should not get into unnecessary mundane discussions or gossips. What is to be given up is that information which is not relevant to our immediate material life, job, etc. or to Krishna consciousness.

HG Radheshyam Prabhuji said as devotees we should we careful about not wasting too much time debating topics on which we have no control like christian conversion or controversial topics like whether jiva fell from Vaikuntha or from Brahmjyoti, and so on. Whenever we have some doubt we should go to authority and they clarify the subject to us. By talking among fellow devotees nothing good will come out of it and one may start to have doubts in his mind mind about the whole philosophy itself. What good will come out by a discussion among two ignorant people, who do not know beyond each other’s level, will it help ? We should go to someone wise. Otherwise it is prajalpa discussing and arguing among our own selves. We should find and then go to senior devotees and sanyasis in ISKCON who know about such subject and get answer to our questions rather than indulging in such talk among ignorant people. So useless talk is just not about mundane discussions with general people but it could be among devotees also and we should avoid it.

Prabhuji then quoted BG 9.14
satataṁ kīrtayanto māṁ yatantaś ca dṛḍha-vratāḥ
namasyantaś ca māṁ bhaktyā nitya-yuktā upāsate

Translation:
Always chanting My glories, endeavoring with great determination, bowing down before Me, these great souls perpetually worship Me with devotion.

Prabhuji added that when we waste our time in gossip then we are disapproving Krishna’s statement that My devotees always chant My glories, i.e., if we claim ourselves to be a Krishna devotee.

Prabhuji discussed in detail how in when Prabhupada was on this planet then in free time everyone would read Krishna book or talk about Srila Prabhupada or Krishna or discuss how to increase preaching.

Later, Chaitanya Charan Prabhuji said in a lighter vein that ISKCON is like a Kalpataru, whatever we want from it we will get it. If someone comes here for money he will get money, if someone come for woman he will get woman, if someone come for power he will get power, if someone comes for prestige then in which organisation people come and offer obeisances to you! If somebody wants controversy then he will get more controversy than what is there in the material world! BUT if we want Krishna then we will get Krishna also. So all these controversial issues are there but ultimately it is up to us what do we want ? If we keep our focus clear on why I have come to Krishna consciousness then we will steer clear of all these things. There are so many intellectual misconceptions in the society, within and outside the movement also, so protecting our faith is our responsibility.

Prabhuji further explained that it is not that any argument is irrefutable, all arguments are refutable. But just like when a war is going on and there is an elephant warrior from the other side and there is a foot soldier from this side. The foot soldier will get crushed. So right now we are all like foot soldiers. So if we hear someone talking about fall of Jiva or sidha pranali and if we want to learn about these things then we can go to our own elephant warrior and not try to fight that elephant warrior, we will get crushed. So generally speaking if anyone starts propagating any ideas then that person will have some sort of logic, some sort of reasoning, and we when we are discussing we will not be able to find what is the flaw in it, although there will be lot of flaws in it, just like a foot soldier can not fight with an elephant warrior.

For example if we see Madhava sampradaya, they refute mayavada philosophy. So they have to know about mayavada to refute mayavada to but for first 20 years of their training they would never read any mayavadi books, they would read only refutations of mayavadi philosophy written by their acharayas, so they would be equipped for refutation but they would not be exposed directly. And after 20 years of education when they are deeply rooted, thoroughly convinced, they have understood the tactics of the false arguments, then they would study the opponent books. And then they can refute that also. So this is a time-honoured strategy. So we are not avoiding or dodging issues, we are protecting our faith so that we can become equipped to deal with issues when the need arises and if the need arises. So if we have already heard some controversy then we can go to some authority and discuss that and get the answers. But just circulating misconceptions or discussing with ignorant only weakens our faith and then it drags us down.

Prabhuji added that Maya attacks us in two ways, one is doubt and the other is desires.

Doubts attack us at the level of our intelligence.
Desires attack us at the level of our mind.

So when the doubts attack us at the level of our intelligence then intelligence becomes weak and then the mind takes over. That’s how we get lost.

In the end of first part HG Radheshyam Prabhuji said in our free time we can discuss what new learning we had recently, what tactic some other region is employing to increase preaching, discuss a new lecture we heard, a sanyasi we served, we can also talk
about health of the devotees and their concerns. A good question we can ask other devotees is how do they cope up when maya attacks them.

Part II of the lecture was on arguments, I am giving a very brief summary as the blog has become very long.

Arguments

Chaitanya Charan Prabhuji quoted the below famous verse from Mahabharata which Srila Prabhupada regularly quoted

tarko ‘pratisthah srutayo vibhinna
nasav rsir yasya matamna bhinnam

Translation
Dry arguments are inconclusive. A great personality whose opinion does not differ from others is not considered a great sage. Simply by studying the Vedas, which are variegated, one cannot come to the right path by which religious principles are understood. The solid truth of religious principles is hidden in the heart of an unadulterated self-realized person.

Prabhuji emphasised that Absolute truth can not be understood just by logic and arguments, that’s why logic is considered inconclusive.

Prabhuji gave examples of how Sri Caitanya Mahāprabhu defeated Prakashananda Sarawati and later Sarvabhauma in Puri. In both the cases Mahaprabhu first entered the heart and then His opponent’s head. So at first His humility touched their hearts and then He touched their head and was able to transform their lives.

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Similarly we should not try to win over people by mere arguments. We should first see if the other person is open to listen to us and if not then we should see if there is any way we can open his heart and then give him the arguments. And if not then we should leave him alone and just pray for him.

Debates

Debating with outsiders.

When we meet some other people who claim to have scriptural knowledge or they claim to know a lot, then they present something and we present something and it goes on and on and on. And if we find that this person is just not ready to learn then at that time it may be a good idea to just leave it that. Because if in the process of arguing or debating we lose our temper or become angry then that anger will further alienate that person. Either it will make him feel victorious oh I have defeated that person and makes him think he is right or it will alienate that person as he may think that these people are so narrow-minded or so self-righteous about their ideas.

On the other hand if we find that things don’t work out then just end on a cordial note. We can say that you have some spiritual ideas and I have learned something else from my spiritual master. This is what my spiritual teachers have taught me is the conclusion of the vedic scriptures. Now ultimately you are a free soul and if this is what you want to believe then my best wishes are with you. And leave it that. Now at the least what has happened he has felt that devotees are gentlemanly people, they agree to disagree. Sometimes we have to leave it that.

Prabhuji added that Material life teaches us in two ways one is the spiritual master, he teaches us gently, warmly, gives us instructions, and the other is the school of hard knocks, maya, beats down a person. Eventually everyone has to come to Krishna. So later on when they learn from the school of hard Knocks, when they find out that their own intellect is not solving their problems, it still keep them in illusion, then at that time if they still have positive appreciation for devotees they will come to devotees, take shelter of lotus feet of Krishna. In general people who are intellectual have lot of pride, so when they meet another intellectual person who is very humble then It charms them, they may not admit it but it charms them.

Debate among devotees.
Prabhuji discussed this is in detail for 15 minutes, the summary was that we should avoid it and only if necessary for practical purpose or management then we must do in private. Prabhuji also stated that few things we can understand quickly, few after some debate and discussion, few things we can understand only after years of service and realisation and then again few things we may never understand as we are finite and Lord is infinite. Also different devotees can have different definition of success.

Prabhuji cautioned that gossip with devotees or non devotees takes our mind away from Krishna only for some time but debate among devotees creates aversion towards devotees and that is even more harmful. So in former case one is allured away from Krishna but in the later case we are repelled away from Krishna. So devotees should avoid such debates. Debates are useful only if they help people develop their conviction.

Readers can download and hear these wonderful lectures by clicking Part I and Part II

All glories to the wonderful preachers of ISKCON.
All glories to Sri Guru and Sri Gauranga.
All glories to Srila Prabhupada.

Namamrita Seminar : Day 2,3 & 4

Hare Krishna.

 

The next three days were in complete bliss of Hari Nama and association of wonderful devotees.

Day 2: Maharaj touched the below topics

a. Role of japa in Bhakti and mechanical chanting.

b. Forgiveness and Humility

c. Preparing for 64 rounds of japa on day 3rd

Maharaj spoke how it is very important to do our japa early in the morning and we should try to fix a sitting place for the same. This place should not not offer any distractions while we are chanting our Japa. He also stressed that chanting in front of Tulasi Maharani brings additional potency into our chanting. He added that we should hear the sound and not our mind during Japa.

while preparing us for the 64 rounds the next day he gave a very important instruction that we should chant in a receivers mood and not in an achiever’s mood. This was a very important lesson for me as whenever I chant 64 rounds I mostly felt it in an achiever’s mood. I now know what was not correct in those rounds. This was like a personal instruction for me and I pray that I never forget it.

Then Maharaj spoke about another most important topic of Vaishnava Apradha and how it is the only Apradha which can not be countered by chanting. He spoke about recognising offences, how to beg forgiveness and benefits of forgiving and being forgiven. It was one of the most interesting topic of the day and generated maximum no. of questions.

Maharaj ended the day with encouraging words from Chaitanya Charitmrita and Nectar of Instructions, verse 5, purport.

Next day was for 64 rounds Japa and Maharaj advised everyone to get up early, as early as 2am, and start chanting.

Day 3 : I got up around 3.45am and got into chanting with a fresh mind and consciousness. Three days of association of devotees showed its benefit clearly. I reached the home where prog was being conducted around 7 am. I had completed more than one fourth of the rounds by that time. Inside everyone was sitting in circles in front of Tulasi Maharani and chanting seriously. We had a break for breakfast and more or less everyone did their Japa non stop. By 2 pm when we had a break for lunch prasadam almost everyone had completed their 64 rounds. The whole atmosphere remain charged with devotional energy. I am confident that had the session continued til evening many of the devotees would have crossed 100 rounds. Maharaj blessed everyone by leading with example as to what each of us is capable of doing and how important it is to chant in the association of devotees.

Day 4 : Maharaj started the day with a practical discussion about how we should always be grateful to the lord in whatever position we find ourselves and gave some practical advice on how to turn adverse happenings in our lives into  Krishna’s mercy. He finished this session with an exercise where everyone was to write ` What do we feel in our life where we feel ungrateful and what is Krishna trying to teach us , what is the lesson ?  This session proved be a very humbling experience.

The next session was to prepare for Sankalapa letter. We were to write a letter to Sri Nama Prabhu expressing gratitude towards Srila Prabhuapada, our spiritual master and the first person who introduced us to Krishna Consciousness. We were to complete the letter with a sankalapa /vow in relation to Japa. We all felt very charged up in Maharaj’s presence. I wrote a very long letter, which I will share some other time.

Maharaj then made each of us show our letter and vow to the Deities, Tulasi maharani and of course Maharaj. I knew I have stepped forward and agreed to do more in my Japa and I pray at the lotus feet of all the devotees and Maharaj that I am able to keep my vow.

In the end everyone sat together and shared their experience of the seminar. We were most thankful to Maharaj for taking time out for such a small batch of devotees and begged him to organise the level 2 of the seminar next year. Maharaj, ever merciful, agreed.

All Glories to all the devotees who attend the seminar.

All Glories to His Holiness Bhakti Brhat Bhagavad Swami Maharaja.

All Glories to Srila Prabhupada.