Prabhupada’s vision for ISKCON

Hare Krishna.

9th August, 2015. Gurgaon.

Yesterday, 8th August, was the day when ISKCON was incorporated ISKCON. I copying an article from Back To Godhead Magazine. Kindly read the same and get a sense of what Srila Prabhupada was about to do and from what humble begining, as a general of Mahaprabhu. We should all come together to nurture this Kalpataru, the ‘wishfulfilling tree’ , called ISKCON and broadcast the teachings of Mahaprabhu in every single town and village of the world.

A brief history of the incorporation of ISKCON (#15-05, 1980)

by Satsvarupa Dasa Gosvami

 

July, 1966 : Amid the cacophony of a storefront at 26 Second Avenue in New York, Srila Prabhupada had begun teaching the science of Krsna consciousness to a motley congregation drawn from the local community. Then, in his characteristically farseeing way, he founded the International Society for Krishna Consciousness.

We shall call our society ‘ISKCON.’ ” Prabhupada laughed playfully when he first coined the acronym.

He had initiated the legal work of incorporation that spring, while still living on the Bowery. But even before its legal beginning, Prabhupada had been talking about his “International Society for Krishna Consciousness,” and so it had appeared in letters to India and in The Village Voice.

A friend had suggested a title that would sound more familiar to Westerners, “International Society for God Consciousness,” but Prabhupada had insisted: “Krishna Consciousness.”

“God” was a vague term, whereas “Krishna” was exact and scientific; “God consciousness” was spiritually weaker, less personal. And if Westerners didn’t know that Krsna was God, then the International Society for Krishna Consciousness would tell them, by spreading His glories “in every town and village.”

“Krsna consciousness” was Prabhupada’s own rendering of a phrase from Srila Rupa Goswami’s Padyavali, written in the sixteenth century. Krsna-bhakti-rasa-bhavita. “to be absorbed in the mellow taste of executing devotional service to Krsna.”

But to register ISKCON legally as a nonprofit, tax-exempt religion required money and a lawyer.

Carl Yeargens had already had some experience in forming a religious organization, and when he had met Prabhupada on the Bowery he had agreed to help. He had contacted his lawyer, a young Jewish man named Stephen Goldsmith.

Stephen Goldsmith had a wife and two children and an office on Park Avenue, yet he maintained an interest in spirituality. When Carl told him about Prabhupada’s plans, he was immediately fascinated by the idea of setting up a religious corporation for an Indian swami.

He visited Prabhupada at 26 Second Avenue, and they discussed incorporation, tax exemption, Prabhupada’s immigration status—and Krsna consciousness. Mr. Goldsmith visited Prabhupada several times. Once he brought his children, who liked the “soup” Prabhupada cooked.

He began attending the evening lectures, where he was often the only non-hippie member of the congregation. One evening, having completed all the legal groundwork and being ready to complete the procedures for incorporation, Mr. Goldsmith came to Prabhupada’s lecture and kirtana to get signatures from the trustees for the new society.

July 11. Prabhupada is lecturing.

Mr. Goldsmith, wearing slacks and a shirt and tie, sits on the floor near the door, listening earnestly to the lecture, despite the distracting noises from the neighborhood.

Prabhupada has been explaining how scholars mislead innocent people with nondevotional interpretations of the Bhagavad-gita. Now, in recognition of the attorney’s respectable presence, and as if to catch up Mr. Goldsmith’s attention better, Prabhupada introduces him into the subject of the talk:

I will give you a practical example of how things are misinterpreted. Just like our president, Mr. Goldsmith, he knows that expert lawyers, by interpretation, can do so many things.

When I was in Calcutta, there was a rent tax passed by the government, and some expert lawyer changed the whole thing by his interpretation. The government had to reenact a whole law, because their purpose was foiled by the interpretation of this lawyer.

So we are not out for foiling the purpose of Krsna, for which the Bhagavad-gita was spoken. But unauthorized persons are trying to foil the purpose of Krsna. Therefore, that is unauthorized.

All right, Mr. Goldsmith, you can ask anything.”

Mr. Goldsmith stands, and to the surprise of the people gathered, he makes a short announcement asking for signers on an incorporation document for the Swami’s new religious movement.

Prabhupada: They are present here. You can take the addresses now.

Mr. Goldsmith: I can take them now, yes.

Prabhupada: Yes, you can. Bill, you can give your address. And Raphael, you can give yours. And Don…. Raymond. … Mr. Greene.

As the meeting breaks up, those called to sign as trustees come forward, standing around in the little storefront, waiting to leaf passively through the pages the lawyer has produced from his thin attache, and to sign as he directs.

Yet not a soul among them is committed to Krsna consciousness.

The lawyer meets his quota of signers, but they’re merely a handful of sympathizers who feel enough reverence toward the Swami to want to help him.

The first trustees, who will hold office for a year, “until the first annual meeting of the corporation,” are Michael Grant (who puts down his name and address without reading the document), Mike’s girlfriend Jan, and James Greene. No one seriously intends to undertake any formal duties as trustee of the religious society, but they are happy to help the Swami by signing his fledgling society into legal existence.

According to law, a second group of trustees will assume office for the second year. They are Paul Gardiner, Roy, and Don. The trustees for the third year of office are Carl Yeargens, Bill Epstein, and Raphael.

No one knows exactly what the half-dozen legal-sized typed pages mean, except that “Swamiji is forming a society.” Why?

For tax exemption, in case someone gives a big donation, and for other benefits an official religious society might receive.

But these purposes hardly seem urgent or even relevant to the present situation in the little storefront. Who’s going to make donations? Except maybe for Mr. Goldsmith, who has any money?

But Prabhupada is planning for the future, and he’s planning for much more than just tax exemptions. He is trying to serve his spiritual predecessors and fulfill the scriptural prediction of a spiritual movement that is to flourish for ten thousand years in the midst of the Age of Kali.

Within the vast Kali Age (a period that is to last 432,000 years), the 1960s are an insignificant moment.

The Vedas describe that the time of the universe revolves through a cycle of four “seasons,” or yugas, and Kali-yuga is the worst of times, in which all spiritual qualities of men diminish, until humanity is finally reduced to a bestial civilization devoid of human decency.

Yet for ten thousand years after the advent of Lord Caitanya there is the possibility of a Golden Age of spiritual life, an eddy that runs against the current of Kali-yuga.

With a vision that soars off to the end of the millennium and far beyond, and yet with his two feet planted solidly on Second Avenue, Srila Prabhupada has begun an International Society for Krishna Consciousness.

He has many practical responsibilities: he has to pay the rent, and he has to incorporate his society and pave the way for a thriving worldwide congregation of devotees.

Somehow, he doesn’t see his extremely reduced present situation as a deterrent from the greater scope of his divine mission. He knows that everything depends on Krsna, so whether he succeeds or fails is all up to the Supreme. He has only to try.

The purposes stated within ISKCON’s articles of incorporation reveal Prabhupada’s thinking. They are seven points; similar to those given in the Prospectus for the League of Devotees he had formed in Jhansi, India, in 1953. That attempt had been unsuccessful, yet his purposes remained unchanged.

Seven Purposes of the International Society for Krishna Consciousness:

  1. To systematically propagate spiritual knowledge to society at large and to educate all peoples in the techniques of spiritual life in order to check the imbalance of values in life and to achieve real unity and peace in the world.

  2. To propagate a consciousness of Krishna, as it is revealed in the Bhagavad-gita and Srimad-Bhagavatam.

  3. To bring the members of the Society together with each other and nearer to Krsna, the prime entity, and thus to develop the idea within the members and humanity at large that each soul is part and parcel of the quality of Godhead (Krsna).

  4. To teach and encourage the sankirtana movement, congregational chanting of the holy name of God as revealed in the teachings of Lord Sri Caitanya Mahaprabhu.

  5. To erect for the members and for society at large a holy place of transcendental pastimes dedicated to the Personality of Krsna.

  6. To bring the members closer together for the purpose of teaching a simpler and more natural way of life.

  7. With a view towards achieving the aforementioned purposes, to publish and distribute periodicals, magazines, books and other writings.

Reardless of how ISKCON’s charter members regarded the Society’s purposes, Srila Prabhupada saw them as imminent realities.

As Mr. Ruben, the subway conductor who had met Prabhupada on a Manhattan park bench in 1965, remembers, “He seemed to know that he would have temples filled up with devotees. ‘There are temples and books,’ he said. ‘They are existing, they are there, but the time is separating us from them.’ ”

The first purpose mentioned in the charter was propagation. “Preaching” was the word Prabhupada most often used. For him, preaching had a much broader significance than mere sermonizing. Preaching meant glorious, selfless adventures on behalf of the Supreme Lord.

Lord Caitanya had preached by walking all over southern India and inducing thousands of people to chant and dance with Him in ecstasy. Lord Krsna had preached the Bhagavad-gita while standing with Arjuna in his chariot on the Battlefield of Kuruksetra. Lord Buddha had preached, Lord Jesus had preached, and all other pure devotees preached.

ISKCON’s preaching would achieve what the League of Nations and the United Nations had failed to achieve—”real unity and peace in the world.” ISKCON workers would bring peace to a world deeply afflicted by materialism and strife.

They would “systematically propagate spiritual knowledge,” knowledge of the nonsectarian science of God. It was not that a new religion was being born in July of 1966; rather, the eternal preaching of Godhead, known as sankirtana, was being transported from East to West.

And this new consciousness in the West would come about through the teachings of Bhagavad-gita and Srimad-Bhagavatam.

The Society’s members would come together, and by hearing the philosophy of Krsna consciousness and chanting the Hare Krsna mantra in mutual association they would realize that each was a spirit soul, eternally related to Krsna, the Supreme Personality of Godhead. They would then preach these realizations to “humanity at large,” especially through sankirtana, the chanting of the holy name of God.

ISKCON would also erect “a holy place of transcendental pastimes dedicated to the Personality of Krsna.” Was this something beyond the storefront? Yes, certainly. He never thought small: “He seemed to know that he would have temples filled up with devotees.”

He wanted ISKCON to demonstrate “a simple, more natural way of life.” Such a life (Prabhupada thought of the villages of India, where people lived just as Krsna had lived) was most conducive to developing Krsna consciousness.

And all six of these purposes would be achieved by the seventh: ISKCON would publish and distribute literature. This was the special instruction given to Srila Prabhupada by Srila Bhaktisiddhanta Sarasvati Thakura, who had specifically told him one day in 1935 at Radha-kunda in Vrndavana, “If you ever get any money, publish books.”

Certainly none of the signers saw any immediate shape to Prabhupada’s dream, yet these seven purposes were not simply theistic rhetoric invented to convince a few New York State government officials. He literally meant to enact every item in the charter.

Of course, he was now working in extremely limited circumstances. The sole headquarters for the International Society for Krishna Consciousness was “the principal place of worship, located at 26 Second Avenue in the city, county, and state of New York.” Yet Prabhupada insisted that he was not living at 26 Second Avenue, New York City.

His vision was different.

His Guru Maharaja had gone out from the traditional holy places of spiritual meditation to preach in cities like Calcutta, Bombay, and New Delhi. And yet Prabhupada would say that his spiritual master had not really been living in any of those cities, but was always in Vaikuntha, the spiritual world, because of his absorption in devotional service.

Similarly, the place of worship, 26 Second Avenue, was not a New York storefront, a former curiosity shop. It was a small place, but it had now been spiritualized. The storefront and the apartment were now a transcendental haven.

“Society at large” could come here; the whole world could take shelter here, regardless of race or religion.

Plain, small, and impoverished as it was, Prabhupada regarded the storefront as “a holy place of transcendental pastimes, dedicated to the Personality of Krsna:” It was a world headquarters, a publishing house. a sacred place of pilgrimage, and a center from which an army of devotees could issue forth and chant the holy names of God in all the streets in the world.

The entire universe could receive Krsna consciousness from the International Society for Krishna Consciousness, which was beginning here.

http://backtogodhead.in/chartering-a-new-society-by-srila-satsvarup…

(I have taken the liberty to include pictures from various resources, they were not part of the original article.)

All glories to ISKCON

All glories to Srila Prabhupada.

All glories to Sri Guru and Gauranga.

Top five limbs of devotional service

Hare Krishna

17th Jan, 2015, Gurgaon.

lord-chaitanyas-instruction-to-srila-sanatana-goswami

More than a year back, HH Gopal Krishna Goswami Maharaj came to ISKCON Gurgaon centre and spoke a verse from Śrī Caitanya-caritāmṛta which somehow slowly, yet firmly, got settled inside my heart. Maharaj instructed everyone to memorise this wonderful verse. The verse was

sādhu-saṅga, nāma-kīrtana, bhāgavata-śravaṇa
mathurā-vāsa, śrī-mūrtira śraddhāya sevana

“One should associate with devotees, chant the holy name of the Lord, hear Śrīmad-Bhāgavatam, reside at Mathurā and worship the Deity with faith and veneration. (cc.madhya.22.128)

In this powerful verse from madhya lila Mahāprabhu describes the process of devotional service to Sri Sanatana Goswami. In the beginning He describes the truth about the living entity and the super excellence of devotional service. He then describes the uselessness of mental speculation and mystic yoga. In all circumstances the living entity is recommended to accept the path of devotional service as personally explained by Śrī Caitanya Mahāprabhu. The speculative method of the so-called jñānīs is considered a waste of time, and that is proved in this chapter. An intelligent person should abandon the processes of karma-kāṇḍa, jñāna-kāṇḍa and mystic yoga. There are sixty-four items listed in regulative devotional service, and out of these sixty-four the last five are considered very important.

CC Madhya 22.129: “These five limbs of devotional service are the best of all. Even a slight performance of these five awakens love for Kṛṣṇa.

Prabhupada writes the below verse from the Bhakti-rasāmṛta-sindhu, in his purport

aṅgānāṁ pañcakasyāsya pūrva-vilikhitasya ca
nikhila-śraiṣṭhya-bodhāya punar apy atra śaṁsanam

The glorification of these five items [association with devotees, chanting the holy name and so on] is to make known the complete superiority of these five practices of devotional service.”

CC Madhya 22.130: “‘With love and full faith one should worship the lotus feet of the Deity.

CC Madhya 22.131: “‘One should taste the meaning of Śrīmad-Bhāgavatam in the association of pure devotees, and one should associate with the devotees who are more advanced than oneself and who are endowed with a similar type of affection for the Lord.

CC Madhya 22.132: ‘One should congregationally chant the holy name of the Lord and reside in Vṛndāvana.’

CC Madhya 22.133: ‘The power of these five principles is very wonderful and difficult to understand. Even without faith in them, a person who is offenseless can awaken his dormant love of Kṛṣṇa simply by being a little connected with them.’

CC Madhya 22.134: “When one is firmly fixed in devotional service, whether he executes one or many processes of devotional service, the waves of love of Godhead will awaken.

CC Madhya 22.135: “There are many devotees who execute only one of the nine processes of devotional service. Nonetheless, they get ultimate success. Devotees like Mahārāja Ambarīṣa execute all nine items, and they also get ultimate success.

What is most amazing is if we analyse how Srila Prabhupada made the structure of ISKCON.

In one of his lectures HH Bhakti Charu Swami says ‘Prabhupada actually designed ISKCON in such a way that anyone who is engaged in Krishna consciousness in ISKCON is automatically performing these five activities. The first aspect is sadhu sangha, anyone who is in ISKCON is getting the association of the sadhus. Similarly anyone who is in ISKCON must attend the Bhagavatam class and at least read for some time every day, so this is how one is reading scriptures. Anyone who is in ISKCON worships the deity, although not all of us worship the deity directly but by attending mangala-arati and the morning program we automatically do that. Then comes residing in the holy dhama, all temples of Krishna are non-different from Goloka Vrindavana. Therefore, those who are living in the temple, or those whose consciousness is in the temple, are actually residing in Mathura. In this way Prabhupada has given us the simple process for Krishna consciousness.’

Now I realise why so many senior devotees always stress that we have to remain in ISKCON, serve the local temple, do our sadhna bhakti and we will surely make progress in our spiritual life.

vande śrī-kṛṣṇa-caitanya-devaṁ taṁ karuṇārṇavam
kalāv apy ati-gūḍheyaṁ bhaktir yena prakāśitā

I offer my respectful obeisances unto Lord Śrī Caitanya Mahāprabhu. He is an ocean of transcendental mercy, and although the subject matter of bhakti-yoga is very confidential, He has nonetheless manifested it so nicely, even in this Age of Kali, the age of quarrel.
(CC Madhya 22.1)

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

Tulasi- Shaligram Vivah

Hare Krishna

2010, Vrindavan.

This was during my initial days of spiritual journey. I had started going to Vrindavan, alone, staying for a day or two, not knowing what exactly to do besides attending temple program. I did not know a single soul there besides Deities. So, mostly I would attend all the morning programs, have breakfast prasadam at Govinda, come back to room to read, sleep a bit, back in the temple at 4-5pm, have dinner prasadam at Govinda, come back to room, read a bit and sleep by 9pm for next day’s Mangal Arti. This is what I still aspire for.

vrindakunda15

I was again in Vrindavan Dhama and after Mangal Arti there was announcement that it is very special day (what day isn’t special in Vrindavan) and a bus will be leaving for Vrinda Kunda for the marriage of Tulasi and Shaligram. I had never ever heard in my life about this event and I don’t know why my heart prompted me to board that bus to the Lila sthali of Vrinda Devi. I went for it.

It was two bus load of devotees, with hardly any Indian on board. We reached the temple after a long bumpy ride, it was in middle of the fields, with no road after the final turn towards temple.

vrindakunda9

I could see a beautiful small temple decorated in very simple and traditional Indian way. There was a slight buzz around the place. I found that a group of devotees had done all night kirtan the previous night. Jai ! As we entered it was announced that we will get some prasadam, we sat on the mats and were served a very delicious puffed rice prasadam, it was dry and salty, with a banana. I still remember the taste of that prasadam after so many years. I still hanker for it, even that time I had greedily taken extra portions and kept on munching it for a long time.  After the prasadam was over most of the devotees got busy with some service. The temple was getting ready for the marriage. The whole setting was completely rural. I wondered around,  bought and read a book, a devotee had put the book stall. I was too naive to beg for any service.

I was told that an Malaysian couple has been sponsoring this event for some time. As the time came for the marriage we had ISKCON pujaris and local temple priest who presided over the ceremony complete with mantras and, later, pheras. The local priest explained how the `Braja’ scriptures are different from what our Acharayas have written. The Malaysian couple, wife was Indian and husband a native Malaysian, did the kanyadaan. Shaligrama shilla and Tulasi walked around the havan kund in their laps. Many devotees had brought nice gifts for the newly weds. Amid all the kirtan, marriage, vidai (bride leaves for husband’s home) not for a single moment I felt that I was not attending a traditional Indian marriage.

Prasadam-for-sadhus-02

After the marriage there was a feast for the local Brajawasis, we served each one of them with sumptuous prasadam. Once they  finished then it was our time to honour the prasadam. Kirtan continued almost throughout the time. It was the first time that I came contact with the non-Indian ISKCON devotees and I was completely ashamed to see their devotion during the whole ceremony. I am sure I have never worked so hard, as they did, in any of my cousin sister’s marriages (I don’t have a real sister).  I still vividly remember one devotee feeding leftover prasadam to a street dog with such affection as if feeding his own son. I would not have even gone close to that dog in normal times. Consciousness of all these devotees was very pure and I felt being the odd one out.

We came back in the evening. I will felt purified till my inner core. Sometimes when I look back, I think it was after attending this ceremony and being in touch with so many pure devotees that my spiritual journey got on the track.

I also feel that we do not appreciate enough what role ISKCON plays in making such `Lila sthali’ accessible to a common man. Had it not been for ISKCON, every devotee would be on the mercy of local `panda’ or priest, as in most traditional Indian temples. I don’t remember being charged for this for the trip, and even that would be some very reasonable amount to cover the cost, got association of devotees, blessings of attending Tulasi Shaligram marriage, heard melodious and impromptu kirtans by devotees, sumptuous prasadam, opportunity to serve Brajavasis. I do not know any other organization in India, or the whole world, which would serve so much and that too for a non-member like me and with no other motive than to please Krishna.

It is a pity when I see so many temples in India, at prime locations in cities and various Dhams, in dilapidated condition. They should all handover the management to ISKCON and see the difference in service to Deities and preaching in the area, which is the purpose of a temple.

We can know more about Tulasi vivah and the Vrinda Devi temple, now under ISKCON, at

http://www.iskcondesiretree.net/page/tulasisaligrama-vivaha

Sri Vrindadevi and Vrinda Kunda

( All pictures are file pictures, which I took from the Vrinda Devi temple website)

All glories to Tulasi- Shaligrama Vivah.

All glories to ISKCON.

All glories to Srila Prabhupada.

Who is a pure devotee of the Lord

Hare Krishna

25th January, Gurgaon

Quotes-by-Bhakti-Charu-Swami-on-Remaining-in-ISKCON

Q:  Who is a pure devotee ? What are signs of a pure devotee ?

A: One who fulfills the desire of Lord is a pure devotee.

Srila Prabhupada explains in cc MADHYA 19 167

“As we can understand from the Bhagavad-gītā (9.34 and 18.65), the Supreme Personality of Godhead wants everyone to think of Him always (man-manā bhava mad-bhaktaḥ). Everyone should become His devotee, not the devotee of a demigod. Everyone should engage in His devotional service, including arcana (Deity worship) in the temple. Man-manā bhava mad-bhakto mad-yājī māṁ namaskuru. Everyone should offer obeisances, from moment to moment, to the Supreme Personality of Godhead. These are the desires of the Supreme Lord, and one who fulfills His desires favorably is actually a pure devotee.”

Signs of a Pure Devotee

Prabhupada writes in the purports of same verse and MahaPrabhu explains it in verse 168

1. The first business of a pure devotee is to satisfy his spiritual master, whose only business is to spread Kṛṣṇa consciousness.

2. A pure devotee has no plans other than those for the Lord’s service.

3. A pure devotee is not interested in attaining success in mundane activities.

4. A pure devotee simply wants success in the progress of devotional service.

5. A pure devotee is only interested in satisfying Kṛṣṇa and he does not engage himself in any other or demigod worship.

6. A pure devotee could be situated in any order of life.

Q: How can we say that anyone and everyone in the world can accept devotional service ?

A: It’s already been proved under ISKCON by changing the lives of people from all across the world.

Srila Prabhupada explains in cc madhya 19. 167

This process is completely manifest in the activities of the Kṛṣṇa consciousness movement. It has been actually proved that the entire world can accept devotional service without failure. One simply has to follow the instructions of the representative of Kṛṣṇa.”

Q: What is Pañcarātra and Bhāgavata systems ?

A: Srila Prabhupada explains in cc madhya 19.169

“The Pañcarātra system includes methods of temple worship, and the Bhāgavata system includes the spreading of Kṛṣṇa conscious philosophy through the recitation of Śrīmad-Bhāgavatam and the discussion of philosophy with people who are interested.”

All glories to Srila Prabhupada.

All glories to Sri Guru and Gauranga.

How to ignite the dormant love for Krishna ?

Hare Krishna.

24th January.

Quotes-by-Bhakti-Charu-Swami-on-Why-We-Need-A-Spiritual-Master-Guru

I am continuing the series of Q&A which I take out from Srila Prabhuapada’s translations and purports.

Q: How can we ignite the dormant love for Krishna in our heart ?

A: By associating with devotees.

Srila Prabhupada writes in his purport of cc madhya 19 151

“Everyone has dormant kṛṣṇa-bhakti — love for Kṛṣṇa — and in the association of good devotees, that love is revealed. As stated in the Caitanya-caritāmṛta (Madhya 22.107):

nitya-siddha-kṛṣṇa-prema ‘sādhya’ kabhu naya śravaṇādi-śuddha-citte karaye udaya

Dormant devotional service to Kṛṣṇa is within everyone. Simply by associating with devotees, hearing their good instructions and chanting the Hare Kṛṣṇa mantra, dormant love for Kṛṣṇa is awakened. In this way one acquires the seed of devotional service. Guru-kṛṣṇa-prasāde pāya bhakti-latā-bīja.”

Q: Who is an Aryan ?

A: One who chants the Holy name is an Aryan.

Srila Prabhupada translates the below verse from SB 3.33.7 quoted in CC madhya 19.72 as

“‘My dear Lord, one who always keeps Your holy name on his tongue becomes greater than an initiated brāhmaṇa. Although he may be born in a family of dog-eaters and may therefore, by material calculation, be the lowest among men, he is still glorious. This is the wonderful effect of chanting the holy name of the Lord. It is therefore concluded that one who chants the holy name of the Lord should be understood to have performed all kinds of austerities and great sacrifices mentioned in the Vedas. He has already taken his bath in all the holy places of pilgrimage, he has studied all the Vedas, and he is actually an Aryan.'”

This verse was quoted by Vallabha Bhaṭṭācārya when MahaPrabhu tells him not to touch Roop and Sanatana Goswami as he is a high caste Brahmin.

Srila Prabhupada explains in the purport of SB 3.33.7

“The word juhuvuḥ means that the chanters of the holy name have already performed all kinds of sacrifices. Sasnuḥ means that they have already traveled to all the holy places of pilgrimage and taken part in purificatory activities at those places. They are called āryāḥ because they have already finished all these requirements, and therefore they must be among the Āryans or those who have qualified themselves to become Āryans. “Āryan” refers to those who are civilized, whose manners are regulated according to the Vedic rituals. Any devotee who is chanting the holy name of the Lord is the best kind of Āryan. Unless one studies the Vedas, one cannot become an Āryan, but it is automatically understood that the chanters have already studied all the Vedic literature..”

Q: How does one know what does Krishna wants us to do ?

A:  By surrendering to a bona fide representative of Krishna.

Srila Prabhupada explains in cc madhya 19. 167

“The criterion is that a devotee must know what Kṛṣṇa wants him to do. This understanding can be achieved through the medium of a spiritual master who is a bona fide representative of Kṛṣṇa. Śrīla Rūpa Gosvāmī advises, ādau gurv-āśrayam. One who is serious in wanting to render pure devotional service to the Lord must take shelter of a spiritual master who comes in the disciplic succession from Kṛṣṇa. Evaṁ paramparā-prāptam imaṁ rājarṣayo viduḥ [Bg. 4.2]. Without accepting a bona fide spiritual master coming in the disciplic succession, one cannot find out the real purpose of devotional service. Therefore one has to accept the shelter of a bona fide spiritual master and agree to be directed by him.”

All glories to Srila Prabhupada

All glories to Sri Guru and Gauranga.

HG Madhavananda Prabhuji

Hare Krishna.

14th December, 2013.

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It was wonderful to get a call from HG Achyut Hari Prabhuji to invite me at his home for a program by HG Madhavanada Prabhuji at his home in Gurgaon.

I have heard Prabhuji’s nectarean  lectures many times in the past at Punjabi Bagh temple as well as at Gurgaon. I also subscribed to the emagazine Sri Krishna Kathamrita Bindu which Prabhuji publishes and read some of his books as well. He is a blessed soul and a great devotee of the Lord and His servants and definitely has the double  mercy of Srila Prabhupada and HH Gour Govinda Swami Maharaj. I always look forward to hear his lectures.

Prabhuji’s introduction at www.iskcondesiretree.com reads as: Madhavananda Das, joined ISKCON in Los Angeles in 1982. He moved to Bhubaneswar Orissa in 1993 where he has been living since. He was instructed by Sri Srimad Gour Govinda Swami Maharaja to edit his lectures into publications. For over ten years he has been serving as the director of ISKCON Gopal Jiu Publications, the editor of Sri Krishna Kathamrita Magazine, and the email magazine Sri Krishna Kathamrita Bindu. This short introduction does not do justice to Prabhuji, he is a very very humble and yet a scholar with in depth knowledge, specially Gaur Lila at Jaganannath Puri Dhama. Prabhuji serves Srila Prabhupada and HH Gour Govinda Swami Maharaja with utmost sincerity and dedication. His bhajans take us away from the material world and into the spiritual world.

As I paid my obeisances to Prabhuji , my mind went straight to Jagannath Puri and in mind I went to Jagannath temple, entered inside, stood in the que and then finally got the darshan of the Lord of the universe. Such is the potency of Prabhuji that a neophyte like me could take darshan of Jagannath by merely being in the presence of His devotee.

Prabhuji spoke about Krishna’s various pastimes for sometime and It was painful when he announced that the class is over. Prabhuji sang Gaur Arti with everyone afterwards.

I begged Achyut Hari Prabhuji to allow me to drop Prabhuji tomorrow at Punjabi Bagh temple, which he mercifully agreed.

15th December

I picked Prabhuji and came to Punjabi bagh temple. Prabhuji spoke about the verse SB 7.5.13

Translation

Persons who always think in terms of “enemy” and “friend” are unable to ascertain the Supersoul within themselves. Not to speak of them, even such exalted persons as Lord Brahmā, who are fully conversant with the Vedic literature, are sometimes bewildered in following the principles of devotional service. The same Supreme Personality of Godhead who has created this situation has certainly given me the intelligence to take the side of your so-called enemy.

He explained the above verse in relation to book distribution. He said like Prahalad Maharaj is speaking that we should not consider anyone  as our  enemy or friend similarly when we go out  people may consider us sometimes as their friend and sometimes as their enemy. But we should not look towards them in similar fashion and should always treat them equally. We should make judgment on whom to approach based on whether the person is rich or poor, handsome or ugly and so on.

Prabhuji also recited a wonderful story from MahaBharat where one devotee mixed all the delicious prasadam made by Draupadi because he did not wished to make a distinction between various dishes as they were all prasdam ! ( Definitely a lesson for me !)

Prabhuji stressed that we should distribute Krishna Prema to everyone without distinction and that we should follow Panch Tattava on how They distributed Krishna Prema.

He recited another wonderful story where King Janak refused to go to Vaikuntha and wanted to stay in hell as inhabitants there were getting some relief from various punishments, by the mere presence of King Janak. And how King Janak finally gave the benefit of his chanting of just one Rama Nama and he liberated everyfrom hell. This is what, Prabhuji commented, should be our mood in any service, Jive Doya. This is the mood of our Acharayas, which should strive to inculcate within us.

He added that we should not feel that we are giving `our’ mercy to all these fallen souls when we distribute books. Prabhuji said that we should instead instill a mood of serving them and serving Krishna. He said that for the sake our own purity we should not see anyone we meet as friend or foe, rich or poor and we should spread mercy to receive mercy. We can listen to the complete lecture at http://www.iskconpunjabibagh.com/audio-gallery/hg-madhavanand-prabhu ( 15th Dec 2013)

Later, I felt inspired to hear more lectures of Prabhuji and downloaded many lectures from iskcondesiretree.com, they were all dipped in Krishna Prema, guide us to a higher realm and offer us enlightening point of views & realisations. My pick was Ramananda Samvad. We can download this and many more lectures at

http://audio.iskcondesiretree.info/index.php?q=f&f=%2F03_-_ISKCON_Prabhujis%2FISKCON_Prabhujis_-_K_to_R%2FHis_Grace_Madhavananda_Prabhu%2FRamananda_Samvad

I pray that at the lotus feet of Prabhuji and further pray that he continues to receive mercy of Sri Guru and Gauranga to spread the glories of Holy name all over the world and enrich the lives of devotees with Krishna Katha.

HG Madhavananda Prabhu ji Ki jai.

All glories to Srila Prabhupada.

How can we see Krishna ?

Hare Krishna.

22nd January, Gurgaon.

Krishna

Its only recently that I have started reading Srila Prabhupada’s purports a little more carefully than ever before, especially since I started reading Sri Caitanaya Caritamrta. I realised that there are so many gems scattered in each purport. I am sure that I am just scratching the surface as I am a beginner in the spiritual life.

Since past two weeks I have started taking my notes in a Q&A form. This helps me in two ways, first I now read the purports a little more carefully and secondly I get clear answers to so many questions and can store them on my ipad for future reference. Reading Sri Caitanaya Caritamrta has turned out to be a goldmine of knowledge for me, quenching my thirst to know more, and opening so many wonderful doors into Gaur Lila.

I am sharing a few Q&As below, all these answers are from Srila Prabhupada’s translations, unless I mention any of my learning from the same or will share the reference. Let me also acknowledge my complete lack of intelligence, experience, realisations and knowledge of shastra. I haven’t yet read Srimad Bhagavatam completely and only with permission from my Shiksha Guru I have started reading Sri Caitanaya Caritamrta on the side. I also do not recollect 100% of what all I have read till date. I am aware that there are multiple answers to many questions with reference to Srila Prabhupda’s purports in different verses and in different books. In this way I am completely ineligible to write on such topics. But I still hope and pray that this endeavour will please Sri Guru and Srila Prabhupada as I am sharing these Q&As without my own interpretation and I pray at their lotus feet that they bless us so that we can use this knowledge to spread Krishna consciousness all over the world. Here it goes

Q: How can we see Krishna ?

A:  “One cannot see the Supreme Lord by making personal efforts. Rather, when the Lord is pleased by the service of a devotee, He reveals Himself.”

Srila Prabhupada writes in the purport of cc m 8.285 “In the Bhagavad-gītā (7.25) Lord Kṛṣṇa states:

nāhaṁ prakāśaḥ sarvasya yoga-māyā-samāvṛtaḥ mūḍho ‘yaṁ nābhijānāti loko mām ajam avyayam

“I am never manifest to the foolish and unintelligent. For them I am covered by My internal potency [yogamāyā], and so they do not know Me, who am unborn and infallible.”

“The Lord always reserves the right of not being exposed to everyone. The devotees, however, are always engaged in the service of the Lord, serving with the tongue by chanting the Hare Kṛṣṇa mantra and tasting mahā-prasādam. Gradually the sincere devotee pleases the Supreme Personality of Godhead, and the Supreme Lord reveals Himself. One cannot see the Supreme Lord by making personal efforts. Rather, when the Lord is pleased by the service of a devotee, He reveals Himself.”

Q: What is Vraja river and why is it called Vraja?

A: Causal ocean is called Vraja river.

Srila Prabhupada explain in the purport of cc madhya 19 153 “There is a river, or causal ocean, between the spiritual and material natures, and this river is free from the influence of the three modes of material nature; therefore it is called Virajā. The prefix vi means vigata (“completely eradicated”), and rajas means “the influence of the material world.”

Last Sunday HG Haridas Thakur Prabhuji, Gurgaon, confirmed that MahaVishnu rests in the River Vraja,  also called Causal Ocean, which is the border between transcendental and material realms.

Q: What is guru-kṛṣṇa-prasāda?

A:  This is part of one of the most famous verses of CC, cc madhya 19.151,

brahmāṇḍa bhramite kona bhāgyavān jīva

guru-kṛṣṇa-prasāde pāya bhakti-latā-bīja

Translation

“According to their karma, all living entities are wandering throughout the entire universe. Some of them are being elevated to the upper planetary systems, and some are going down into the lower planetary systems. Out of many millions of wandering living entities, one who is very fortunate gets an opportunity to associate with a bona fide spiritual master by the grace of Kṛṣṇa. By the mercy of both Kṛṣṇa and the spiritual master, such a person receives the seed of the creeper of devotional service.

Srila Prabhupada explains in its purport that  “Kṛṣṇa is situated in everyone’s heart, and if one desires something, Kṛṣṇa fulfills one’s desire. If the living entity by chance or fortune comes in contact with the Kṛṣṇa consciousness movement and wishes to associate with that movement, Kṛṣṇa, who is situated in everyone’s heart, gives him the chance to meet a bona fide spiritual master. This is called guru-kṛṣṇa-prasāda. Kṛṣṇa is prepared to bestow His mercy upon all living entities, and as soon as a living entity desires the Lord’s mercy, the Lord immediately gives him an opportunity to meet a bona fide spiritual master. Such a fortunate person is fortified by both Kṛṣṇa and the spiritual master. He is helped from within by Kṛṣṇa and from without by the spiritual master. Both are prepared to help the sincere living being become free from material bondage.”

I will be very grateful to you if you can give me your feedback on this Q&A format. Did it prove helpful to you and should I continue to post them in future. Pl mail your comments to giriraj.bcs@gmail.com or you can leave a comment below.

All glories to  Sri Caitanaya Caritamrta.

All glories to Srila Prabhupada.

Does ISKCON has any Uttama Adhikari ?

Hare Krishna

21st Jan 2014.

A devotee called up today evening and stated that he just read a statement by Srila Prabhupada that we should reject any guru who can not take us back to Godhead. The talk then went to which Guru, if any, is a Uttama Adhikari in ISKCON and how to find him ?

I remembered the same question being asked to HH Bhakti Brhad Bhagavat Maharaja during the seminar on ISKCON Disciple course at Punjabi Bagh temple last year. I offered the same reply to the devotee.

Maharaj replied with the following statement from Srila Prabhupada in Nectar of Instructions verse 5, second last para (http://vedabase.net/noi/5/en )

“Out of many such Vaiṣṇavas, one may be found to be very seriously engaged in the service of the Lord and strictly following all the regulative principles, chanting the prescribed number of rounds on japa beads and always thinking of how to expand the Kṛṣṇa consciousness movement. Such a Vaiṣṇava should be accepted as an uttama-adhikārī, a highly advanced devotee, and his association should always be sought.”

Maharaj declared that we do not need any more `pramaan’ ( proof) than the above statement from Srila Prabhupada himself and we will all agree that with the above definition almost all the Sanyasis in ISKCON will qualify as being a Uttama Adhikari ! Hari Bol !

All Glories to Srila Prabhupda.

HH Giriraj Swami Maharaj

Hare Krishna.

5th January, Gurgaon.

The Sunday morning class was enlightening, we have a new full time preacher in Gurgaon, HG Mahaprabhu Chaitanaya prabhuji. He gave an excellent class today. After the class got over we were chatting up when HG Haridas Thakur Prabhuji informed us that HH Giriraj Maharaj is visiting Noida at 1 pm today. After the breakfast prasadam they both left for Noida. I came back home in double mind on whether to go to Noida or not. The weekly Bhagavad Gita group  meeting at my home would start at 4 pm and it would inappropriate to cancel it or miss it. As I was returning home I got a mail from HH Giriraj Maharaj that he is leaving Vrindavan for Noida and would also give the morning lecture at Delhi temple. I had invited  Maharaj to visit Gurgaon, he had consented but he wrote back a few days back that he was unwell and won’t be able to make it this time.

As I read maharaj’s email, I realised that if he could come to Noida to give a lecture in bad health and then what stops me to drive to Noida and take his darshan. I reached home and discussed the same with my wife, she too pushed me to go to Noida. I left home around 12noon and was at the temple sharp at 1 pm. Noida temple is right on the main road and at an excellent location, Sri Sri Radha Govinda ki jai. The temple would open officially on 12th Feb. The main hall was packed with devotees and there was wonderful kirtan going on.

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Maharaj came around 2 pm and it was so good to take his darshan. He looked frail and weaker than when I last saw Maharaj at Punjabi Bagh temple 3 years ago. May Krishna give Maharaj a very healthy 2014.

photo 2

Maharaj said as a new year has just started he has picked up a relevant verse from Srimad Bhagavatam.,SB 2.3.17

āyur harati vai puḿsām  udyann astaḿ ca yann asau
tasyarte yat-kṣaṇo nīta   uttama-śloka-vārtayā

Both by rising and by setting, the sun decreases the duration of life of everyone, except one who utilizes the time by discussing topics of the all-good Personality of Godhead.

Like a magician Maharaj brought out different meanings and teachings from this wonderful verse.

My lessons from the lecture :

1.  We should not waste a single moment of life, which can not be bought by any amount ofgold. It indeed given me new prospective of time management and my time spent in service of Srila Prabupada and ISKCON.

2. We have to just remain alive in our devotional service to go back to Godhead.

3.  A devotee’s old age or disease in the present life is but an impetus to a guaranteed eternal life. He gets free from the cycle of birth, disease, old age and death.

I then met Maharaj briefly and he spoke and looked with such affection. Maharaj then got busy in signing his books for the pleasure of the devotees. I realised that it was already 3.30 pm. I rushed home but before leaving spotted Gaurav prabhu, bought a book and requested him to get Maharaj’s autograph  on the same. He, always ready to help, agreed and I rushed back home.

6th January, Gurgaon.

By lord’s mercy I again made up my mind to hear Maharaj at Delhi temple and went with HG MahaPrabhu Chaitnaya prabhuji. We reached just in time for the lecture. Maharaj looked better today, he spoke on the following verse

ei-kathā śuni’ mahāntera mahā-sukha haya

caitanyera krpā yāńhe, tāńhe ki vismaya

When the personal associates of Śrī Caitanya Mahāprabhu would hear of the activities of Rūpa and Sanātana Gosvāmīs, they would say, “What is wonderful for a person who has been granted the Lord’s mercy?” ( CC madhya 19.132)

My lessons from this lecture :

1. We should not hesitate to write and we must distribute Srila Prabhupada’s books for the pleasure of Srila Prabhupada, this is our parampara.

2. We should not try to copy six Goswamis, what they did was the external manifestation of their internal mood. This is a very very important lesson for me.

3. The last lesson I learnt is that I must always hanker to listen from pure devotees in person, it has a very different effect on my consciousness  compared to when I listen to lectures over internet or recordings.

Maharaj explained that Bhaktisiddhānta Sarasvatī Thākura compared distributing literature to playing on a great mrdanga. A normal Mrdanga can only be heard for few blocks but Book Mrdanga goes hundred of miles. Maharaj gave examples of how people become devotees after reading Srila Prabhupada’s books in far off places.

As the lecture finished I heard the nectarean voice of HH Gopal Krishna Goswami Maharaj. Jai ! Maharaj too was there so it turned out to be a double bonus for me.

photo 4

Srila Prabhupada wrote in the purport of above SB verse that `a moment passed in the association of a pure devotee by hearing and chanting the transcendental messages of the Lord is a perfect guarantee for eternal life, for returning home, back to Godhead.’ What I surely felt was that each moment passed in the association of Maha Bhagavat like HH Giriraj Maharaj and HH Gopal Krishna Goswami Maharaj is guaranteed like being in the spiritual world, Vaikuntha, no anxiety, only bliss.

All glories to HH Giriraj Swami Maharaj.

All glories to HH Gopal Krishna Goswami Maharaj.

All glories to Srila Prabhupada.

Year 2013

Hare Krishna.

31 Dec 2013, Ujjain, 8.30pm.

As the year 2013 comes to an end at midnight tonight I look back at what all happened in my spiritual life.

1. In my wildest imagination I could not have dreamt that I will be at Ujjain on new year eve and attending a wonderful retreat by Guru Maharaj.

2. That I am in the association of devotees is the cherry on the cake. Of course in the company of Shyamal Prabhu, Atma Prabhu, Radhapad Prabhu I am like a crow staring at a group of swans. Still by some good fortune I am here in their midst.

3. Guru Maharaj showered his complete mercy by visiting our home so many times and ensuring that as a family we remain steadfast on way to start our devotional journey.

4. The trip to Surat with devotees was a wonderful experience for me. It was trailer of what are happy devotee families and what is preaching with passion and care.

5. I had one of the best Kartika months ever and never been in Dhama for so many days.

6. I somehow gathered courage and started a weekly Bhagavad Gita study group at my home. The suport l received from my family, my devotee friends and the local centre was very humbling experience for me.

7. This group gave me a focus and also meaning to my devotional life.

8. I realised that grow to in devotional life I need to cultivate relationships, a most difficult part for me.

9. I attended many seminars and each one enriched me.

10. I got some inclination on what is chanting and what is meant by devotional service.

11. The visit of HH Gopal Krishna Goswami Maharaj would remain a highlight for the whole life.

12. I got a little taste for hearing and could hear lectures daily.

13. I fell in love with HH Radha Govind Maharaj and could take his Darshan for the first time.

14. It seems somehow by Krishna’s mercy I am getting a taste and longing to remain in the association of devotees. It’s a different matter that except for few devotees like Sumeet Prabhu, Karuna Prabhu, most of them, rightly, stay away for me. A crow among swans.

15. My wife made a very nice altar and then very nice presence of Srila Prabhupada in our new home, Guru Maharaj named it Krishna Kunj.

16. I could somehow feel the presence of mercy in all aspects of my devotional life , be it from devotees, Srila Prabhupada, Guru Maharaj or Krishna. I could appreciate a little the word causeless mercy.

17. I started reading Chaitanaya Charitamrita and found its teachings most profound.

18. I got some faith in Gaur Nitai and the six Goswamis.

18. Guru Maharaj strong teachings have converted me to become a strong supporter of ISKCON and Srila Prabhupada.

19. Guru Maharaj taught about Yukta Vairagaya today morning and I hope to imbibe it inside me.

20. I feel more peaceful, contended and happy than at the start of the year.

21. I could carry the Deity of Srila Prabhupada to all the 6 Goswami temples of Vrindavan.

22. Went to Mayapur Dham for the first time after my initiation.

23. Got initiated by never ending causeless mercy of HG Rukmini Prabhuji and Guru Maharaj.

24. I found a wonderful and most merciful brother in Sumeet Prabhu, except for the wrong habit glorifying me for no purpose he is near perfect. He guides me affectionately like a younger brother and keep my enthusiasm running. Being myself a zero in both my material and spiritual journey I can’t reciprocate nor return his feelings and gestures. I can only pray to Krishna for his spiritual and material well being.

25. I never felt alone for a moment ; there were devotees who took pity on me , Guru Maharaj who showered his causeless mercy on me, Srila Prabhupada who listened to my prayers , developed relationship with Gaur Nitai and reciprocation of love happened with Sri Sri Radha and Shyamsunder

I am looking forward to the promise I made to a Devotee today to reach the temple before Mangal Arti tomorrow morning and chant our rounds early on the first day of the year.

As I sit alone in my room in the temple guest house, ready to sleep early, I have my bead bag next to me and only Krishna and His devotee in my thoughts. I have no interest in the celebrations going in the temple nor in my dinner, I only hope to chant at least one japa round with love for Krishna before I wake up next year.

I pray at the lotus feet of all the devotees to please bless me with their association in the coming year.

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