Good morning Thakuraji- a prayer to Krishna

The power of the prayer to Krishna is known to all the devotees both new or old. The power lies in the process of praying itself. And when that prayer to Krishna comes from the heart of His pure devotees then it has added potency.

We have access to many wonderful prayers to Krishna. There are excellent prayers spoken by great devotees in Srimad Bhagavatam like Gajendra, lord Siva, lord Brahma, Prahlada Maharaj, Dhruva Maharaj, and many others. There are prayers to Krishna in the form of bhajans by our Acharyas. We also have prayers coming from the heart of senior Vaisnavas. They are all potent. If we recite them daily with a sincere and open heart then not only these prayers help us in setting the right mood to approach the lotus feet of Krishna but they also have the potency to gradually change our consciousness. Senior Vaisnavas advise us that prayer to Krishna should be part of our daily sadhana.

In the next four blogs, I will share four special prayers to Krishna written by HG Srimati Mataji for aspiring and struggling devotees like us. They are unique in their approach and can help us raise our consciousness so we can get access to the lotus feet of Krishna- in a very natural and personal manner. When I read them for the first time they immediately struck a chord. I am sharing them with you hoping that they will touch your heart as they touched mine.

Good morning Thakuraji‘ is the first in that series of prayer to Krishna. We can daily read it to our Thakuraji when we receive His first darshan in the morning.

I will be happy to hear about your experience of reading them aloud to Krishna.

All the best,

All glories to Prayer to Krishna

All glories to Srila Prabhupada

Your servant,

Giriraj dasa

p.s. We can right-click on the below image, save it and take its printout.

Thakuraji-Part-1

Unity in diversity

Hare Krishna and pranams dear devotees,

I recently read a very inspiring verse on dandavats. It spoke about unity among devotees. It was not only encouraging, as it pleases Krishna, it also gave a benediction to all the devotees who remain united despite differences in the group/society. Unity in diversity. let’s read the verse

śrī-bhagavān uvāca
varaṁ vṛṇīdhvaṁ bhadraṁ vo
yūyaṁ me nṛpa-nandanāḥ
sauhārdenāpṛthag-dharmās
tuṣṭo ’haṁ sauhṛdena vaḥ

The Supreme Personality of Godhead said: My dear sons of the King, I am very much pleased by the friendly relationships among you. All of you are engaged in one occupation — devotional service. I am so pleased with your mutual friendship that I wish you all good fortune. Now you may ask a benediction of Me.

Since the sons of King Prācīnabarhiṣat were all united in Kṛṣṇa consciousness, the Lord was very pleased with them. Each and every one of the sons of King Prācīnabarhiṣat was an individual soul, but they were united in offering transcendental service to the Lord. The unity of the individual souls attempting to satisfy the Supreme Lord or rendering service to the Lord is real unity. In the material world such unity is not possible. Even though people may officially unite, they all have different interests.

In the United Nations, for instance, all the nations have their particular national ambitions, and consequently they cannot be united. Disunity between individual souls is so strong within this material world that even in a society of Kṛṣṇa consciousness, members sometimes appear disunited due to their having different opinions and leaning toward material things. Actually, in Krishna consciousness there cannot be two opinions. There is only one goal: to serve Kṛṣṇa to one’s best ability. If there is some disagreement over service, such disagreement is to be taken as spiritual. Those who are actually engaged in the service of the Supreme Personality of Godhead cannot be disunited in any circumstance. This makes the Supreme Personality of Godhead very happy and willing to award all kinds of benediction to His devotees, as indicated in this verse. We can see that the Lord is immediately prepared to award all benedictions to the sons of King Prācīnabarhiṣat.

(SB 4.30.8+p)

Srila Prabhupada sets the mood- unity in diversity

Now this displeasing of godbrothers has already begun and gives me too much agitation in my mind. Our Gaudiya Math people fought with one another after the demise of Guru Maharaja but my disciples have already begun fighting even in my presence. So I am greatly concerned about it.

Following in the footprints of Lord Caitanya Mahaprabhu:
trnad api su-nicena taror api sahisnuna
amanina manadena kirtaniya sada harih
“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.”
We must always remember this verse and be as tolerant as the tree, as we execute the Krsna consciousness movement. Without this mentality we cannot be successful.


Material nature means dissension and disagreement, especially in this Kali yuga. But, for this Krsna consciousness movement its success will depend on agreement, even though there are varieties of engagements. In the material world there are varieties, but there is no agreement. In the spiritual world there are varieties, but there is agreement. That is the difference. The materialist without being able to adjust the varieties and the disagreements makes everything zero. They cannot come into agreement with varieties, but if we keep Krsna in the center, then there will be agreement in varieties. This is called unity in diversity. I am therefore suggesting that all our men meet in Mayapur every year during the birth anniversary of Lord Caitanya Mahaprabhu. With all GBC and senior men present we should discuss how to make unity in diversity. But, if we fight on account of diversity, then it is simply the material platform. Please try to maintain the philosophy of unity in diversity. That will make our movement successful.

One section of men have already gone out, therefore we must be very careful to maintain unity in diversity, and remember the story in Aesop’s Fables of the father of many children with the bundle of sticks. When the father asked his children to break the bundle of sticks wrapped in a bag, none of them could do it. But, when they removed the sticks from the bag, and tried one by one, the sticks were easily broken. So this is the strength in unity. If we are bunched up, we can never be broken, but when divided, then we can become broken very easily.

(letter to Kirtananda, 18th October 1973)

Work together

Prabhupāda: Caitanya Mahāprabhu Himself says, ekākī āmāra nāhi pāya bolo.

Prabhupāda: ….The purport of the verse is that even Lord Caitanya Mahāprabhu—He is God himself, Kṛṣṇa Himself—He felt, alone, unable to do this task. He felt. So this is the position. You are cooperating; therefore I am getting the credit. Otherwise, alone what could I do? Ekākī āmāra nāhi pāya bolo. Caitanya Mahāprabhu Himself wanted our cooperation. He is God, Kṛṣṇa. And therefore cooperation is very important thing. Nobody should think that “I have got so great ability. I can do.” No. It is simply by cooperation we can do very big thing. “United we stand; divided we fall.” This is our… So be strong in pushing on Kṛṣṇa consciousness, and Kṛṣṇa will help. He is the strongest.

Still, we must be combined together. Saṅkīrtana. Saṅkīrtana means many men combined together chanting. That is saṅkīrtana. Otherwise kīrtana. Saṅkīrtana. Bahubhir militvā kīrtayeti saṅkīrtana.. Bahu. Bahu means many; many combined together. That is Caitanya Mahāprabhu’s mission: combined together. All nations, all persons, they should combine together. There is hope in our Society, combination. There are Hindus; there are Muslims; there are Christians; there are black, white. Combine them. That looks very beautiful, just like combination of many flowers. There is black flower also. It looks nice, very nice. Each and every flower take alone, it is not beautiful, but when they are combined together, it looks very beautiful. It is attractive. And that is wanted. 

(conversation, 16th March 1976, Mayapur)

Caitanya Mahaprabhu Himself sets the mood for all His followers. As His ‘senapati bhakta’ Srila Prabhupada practiced this principle all his life and he repeatedly encouraged devotees to follow this mood of cooperation with each other. This mood pleases Krishna so much that He readliy bestows His blessing upon us whenever we practice it. Now it is up to us to take advantage of it by applying it in our dealing with each other be it our temple, local center, Bhakti Vriksha group or home. The principle holds good, the choice is ours.

All glories to practicing unity in diversity

All glories to Sri Guru and Gauranga

All glories to Srila Prabhupada

your servant,

Giriraj das

Three main Deities of Vrindavan

After the departure of Lord Krishna, all the Pandavas, unable to bear the separation from Krishna, decided to leave this world. Before they left, Maharaj Yuddhisthir appointed Parikshit, son of Abhimanyu, as the emperor of the whole world. Vajranabha, the great-grandson of Lord Krishna, son of Aniruddha, was made the king of Mathura.

Vajranabha missed Krishna very much. Many great personalities requested him to reestablish the glories of Vrindavan. Vrajanabha decided to excavate all those places in Vraja where Lord Krishna performed His pastimes. He sat under a tree on the banks of Yamuna and prayed to Krishna to reveal His divine pastimes places in Vraja. He received Krishna’s mercy, who revealed His Vrindavan pastimes in his heart. Vajranabha then called upon Vishwakarma, the architect of the demigods to install various Deities. The three principal Deities carved by him were Radha Madanmohana, Radha Govindadev and Radha Gopinath.

At that time there was no one other than Uttara, mother of Maharaj Parikshit, who had seen Krishna directly. The first Deity she saw was of Madanmohan. When Vajranabha showed this Deity to Uttara she said Madanmohan’s feet perfectly resemble Krishna’s feet. Next, when she saw the beautiful form of Govindadeva, she explained that the chest of Krishna was exactly like Him. Finally, when she saw the Deity of Gopinath, she explained that the beautiful smiling face of Gopinath exactly resembled Krishna’s face.

One can understand the importance of these three Deities of Vrindavan for the devotees. Krishnadas Kaviraj Gosvami declares that these three Deities of Vrindavan are the very life and soul of all Gaudiya Vaisnavas.

śrī-rādhā-saha ‘śrī-madana-mohana’
śrī-rādhā-saha ‘śrī-govinda’-caraṇa

śrī-rādhā-saha śrīla ‘śrī-gopīnātha’
ei tina ṭhākura haya ‘gauḍiyāra nātha’

The Vṛndāvana Deities of Madana-mohana with Śrīmatī Rādhārāṇī, Govinda with Śrīmatī Rādhārāṇī, and Gopīnātha with Śrīmatī Rādhārāṇī are the life and soul of the Gauḍīya Vaiṣṇavas.

(CC Antya 142-143)

ei tina ṭhākura gauḍīyāke kariyāchena ātmasāt
e tinera caraṇa vandoṅ, tine mora nātha

These three Deities of Vrindavan [Madana-mohana, Govinda and Gopīnātha] have absorbed the heart and soul of the Gauḍīya Vaiṣṇavas [followers of Lord Caitanya]. I worship Their lotus feet, for They are the Lords of my heart.

(CC Adi 1.19)

Srila Prabhupada explains the role these three special Deities of Vrindavan play in the lives of devotees in his purport of the above verse –

The author of Śrī Caitanya-caritāmṛta offers his respectful obeisances unto the three Deities of Vrindavan named Śrī Rādhā-Madana-mohana, Śrī Rādhā-Govindadeva and Śrī Rādhā-Gopīnāthajī. These three Deities are the life and soul of the Bengali Vaiṣṇavas, or Gauḍīya Vaiṣṇavas, who have a natural aptitude for residing in Vṛndāvana. The Gauḍīya Vaiṣṇavas who follow strictly in the line of Śrī Caitanya Mahāprabhu worship the Divinity by chanting transcendental sounds meant to develop a sense of one’s transcendental relationship with the Supreme Lord, a reciprocation of mellows (rasas) of mutual affection, and, ultimately, the achievement of the desired success in loving service. These three Deities are worshiped in three different stages of one’s development. The followers of Śrī Caitanya Mahāprabhu scrupulously follow these principles of approach.

Gauḍīya Vaiṣṇavas perceive the ultimate objective in Vedic hymns composed of eighteen transcendental letters that adore Kṛṣṇa as Madana-mohana, Govinda and Gopījana-vallabha. Madana-mohana is He who charms Cupid, the god of love, Govinda is He who pleases the senses and the cows, and Gopījana-vallabha is the transcendental lover of the gopīs. Kṛṣṇa Himself is called Madana-mohana, Govinda, Gopījana-vallabha and countless other names as He plays in His different pastimes with His devotees.

(CC Adi 1.19p)

According to the Vedic principles, there are three stages of spiritual advancement, namely, sambandhajñāna, abhidheya and prayojana. Sambandha-jñāna refers to establishing one’s original relationship with the Supreme Personality of Godhead, abhidheya refers to acting according to that constitutional relationship, and prayojana is the ultimate goal of life, which is to develop love of Godhead

(CC Adi 7.73p)

So these three Deities of Vrindavan, each one of Them represent

  1. Sri Radha Madanmohan are the presiding Deity of Sambanda – our eternal relationship with Krishna, we are His part and parcel.
  2. Sri Radha Govindadev are the presiding Deity of Abhidheya – how to act in that relationship. devotional service.
  3. Sri Radha Gopinatha are the presiding Deity of Prayojana– ultimate goal, love of Godhead.

Krishna willing, in our upcoming blogs, we will read in a little more detail about these special Deities of Vrindavan and try to understand and appreciate the unique role They play in the lives of all the Gaudiya Vaisnavas.

All glories to the three main Deities of Vrindavan.

All glories to Srila Prabhupada.

Your servant,

Giriranj dasa

P.S.: It is said that if one gets darshan of these three Deities of Vrindavan on the same day, especially on an Ekadasi, then it is accepted that one has taken full darshan of Krishna. I have posted Their pictures and today is Ekadasi.

The potency of Bhagavad Gita

December is the month in which Krishna spoke Bhagavad gita to Arjuna. The exact day, also known as Gita Jayanti, falls on Moskshada Ekadasi. December is also the month in which book distribution exploded in the west in seventies. Since then devotees in ISKCON have worked hard to keep the same spirit alive. Come December and all over the world ISKCON devotees come out on the streets to distribute Bhagavad gita to the general public, its also called book marathon. As Gita Jayanti month comes to an end let me share a wonderful verse to meditate upon, which I recently heard in a lecture from HG Srimati Mataji. I am sharing brief excerpts from her lecture and the verse below.

The context of this verse is that Krishna has left the planet and Arjuna is feeling pangs of separation from Him.

HG Srimati mataji: If we are essence seekers then we should be aware that Krishna speaking Bhagavad gita to Arjuna is not the end of the story. There is a second advent of Bhagavad gita to Arjuna. When he is in separation from Krishna Bhagavad gita advents in his mind and guides him back home. That’s very very special for us, so as an essence seeker that’s where we should look next.

We can never beat gita in terms of shastra, it is an amazing scripture. We always talk about Bhagavatam. In Bhagavatam we learn about names of Krishna, we learn about form of Krishna, we learn about pastimes of Krishna – that is wonderful but none of those things have any substance in terms of us having a relationship with the person if we don’t the mind of the person. What’s the value me knowing your form if we don’t know where we are at. How can I relate to him on real terms. So Krishna is revealing His mind in Bhagavad gita. And it is these instructions, its not all the amazing experiences that Arjuna had with Krishna that gave him actual solace. He remembered them but that wasn’t what that gave him the solace. What enlivened and illuminated his heart was the instructions Govindadev gave. I find that pretty amazing and for me personally celebration of Gita Jayanti is not complete unless we look at this. (pause)

Here is the special verse :

देशकालार्थयुक्तानि हृत्तापोपशमानि च ।
हरन्ति स्मरतश्चित्तं गोविन्दाभिहितानि मे ॥ २७ ॥

Now I am attracted to those instructions imparted to me by the Personality of Godhead [Govinda] because they are impregnated with instructions for relieving the burning heart in all circumstances of time and space.

Purport:

Herein Arjuna refers to the instruction of the Bhagavad gita, which was imparted to him by the Lord on the Battlefield of Kurukṣetra. The Lord left behind Him the instructions of the  Bhagavad gita  not for the benefit of Arjuna alone, but also for all time and in all lands. The  Bhagavad gita, being spoken by the Supreme Personality of Godhead, is the essence of all Vedic wisdom. It is nicely presented by the Lord Himself for all who have very little time to go through the vast Vedic literatures like the Upaniṣads, Purāṇas and Vedānta-sūtras. It is put within the study of the great historical epic Mahābhārata, which was especially prepared for the less intelligent class, namely the women, the laborers and those who are worthless descendants of the brāhmaṇas, kṣatriyas and higher sections of the vaiśyas. The problem which arose in the heart of Arjuna on the Battlefield of Kurukṣetra was solved by the teachings of the  Bhagavad gita. Again, after the departure of the Lord from the vision of earthly people, when Arjuna was face to face with being vanquished in his acquired power and prominence, he wanted again to remember the great teachings of the  Bhagavad gita  just to teach all concerned that the  Bhagavad gita  can be consulted in all critical times, not only for solace from all kinds of mental agonies, but also for the way out of great entanglements which may embarrass one in some critical hour.

The merciful Lord left behind Him the great teachings of the  Bhagavad gita so that one can take the instructions of the Lord even when He is not visible to material eyesight. Material senses cannot have any estimation of the Supreme Lord, but by His inconceivable power the Lord can incarnate Himself to the sense perception of the conditioned souls in a suitable manner through the agency of matter, which is also another form of the Lord’s manifested energy. Thus the  Bhagavad gita, or any authentic scriptural sound representation of the Lord, is also the incarnation of the Lord. There is no difference between the sound representation of the Lord and the Lord Himself. One can derive the same benefit from the  Bhagavad gita  as Arjuna did in the personal presence of the Lord.

The faithful human being who is desirous of being liberated from the clutches of material existence can very easily take advantage of the  Bhagavad gita, and with this in view, the Lord instructed Arjuna as if Arjuna were in need of it…. The  Bhagavad gita  is therefore meant for terminating all different types of miseries, and Arjuna took shelter of this great knowledge, which had been imparted to him during the Kurukṣetra battle.

(SB 1.15.27+p)

HG Srimati mataji: ….That’s why Prabhupada gave us Bhagavad gita. How many of us read Bhagavad gita daily? We do not understand the preciousness or the potency of Bhagavad gita of what Prabhupada has given us. It’s not only because of the instructions that have been given, its because Bhagavad gita is the words of Govindadev, adi purusham Govindadev. Words of Govindadev are nondifferent from Govindadev. So just by associating with the words of Bhagavad gita we are directly associating with Govindadev.

And if you are chanting Bhagavad gita every day then it’s such an amazing thing , because you are not just chanting those words but they are Govinda’s words. And the potency of it is that immediately, just by the act of you repeating Govindadev’s words, you are properly situated as His servant. And just by the act of you chanting Bhagavad gita daily you get His shelter, you get His protection, you get His guidance, you get everything because you are properly situated in His service. Just by repeating His words! It’s amazing. We are not aware of the potency and the incredible depth what Prabhupada has given us.

How many people read Bhagavad gita daily? Who reads Gita daily? Nobody is interested in Gita. There are just so many other things. But Gita is where you start. As I said in the beginning, if we don’t know a person’s mind what’s so important about knowing what he looks like or what he does- it’s so shallow. Where is the relationship? How can you have a relationship with somebody if we don’t know their mind? We may be able to rattle of about everything they do and rattle of about what they look like but have you had any depth of relationship with that person? You can’t. Gita at so many levels is so amazing. (pause)

Hearing the self-illuminated verse, Prabhupada’s purport and Srimati mataji’s lecture all had a combined effect on my heart and I felt inspired to start reading one chapter of Bhagavad gita daily – verses and their translation.

We make so many new year resolutions or keep different vratas throughout the year. So it may not be such a bad idea to resolve to chant the words of Govindadev daily and get an opportunity to closer to Krishna’s lotus feet. It may well be the support we need to fill our heart with enthusiasm, determination and patience to progress solidly in Krishna consciousness.

All glories to Sri Bhagavad Gita

All glories to Srila Prabhupada

your servant,

Giriraj dasa

Who is a mahatma?

My dear daughter,

In your recent prayers, you asked me, “My dear Krishna, mahatma is a common title these days. We have so many self-styled mahatmas in India. Then I see that many people fall from their spiritual quest or abandon it because they had chosen to follow someone only because of his appearance or popularity. Later the so-called mahatma didn’t behave as a genuine advanced spiritual teacher resulting in a crisis of faith. Can you please let me know whom we can call a mahatma and what are the external symptoms of such a personality, so that we can recognise one and try to get his association?”

I’m pleased with your question as asking questions and clarifying one’s doubts is a sign of intelligence. Different people with different levels of consciousness may call someone mahatma based on their own understanding or inclination. However, a mahatma cannot be manufactured by rubber-stamping an ordinary man. A mahatma is a rare soul, someone who is very dear to me. I’m happy to share with you my definition of a mahatma and his external symptoms-

mahātmānas tu māṁ pārtha
daivīṁ prakṛtim āśritāḥ
bhajanty ananya-manaso
jñātvā bhūtādim avyayam

O son of Pṛthā, those who are not deluded, the great souls, are under the protection of the divine nature. They are fully engaged in devotional service because they know Me as the Supreme Personality of Godhead, original and inexhaustible.

satataṁ kīrtayanto māṁ
yatantaś ca dṛḍha-vratāḥ
namasyantaś ca māṁ bhaktyā
nitya-yuktā upāsate

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

(Bg 9.13-14)

I hope this gives you a better understanding of who is a mahatma. His preoccupation is only in spreading my glories hence he is always engaged in my service. Please associate with such mahatmas. I regularly send them to your planet to help all of you so that you can return back to me in a simple, natural and sure manner.

All the best.

Your ever well-wisher,

Krishna

p.s: for more detailed explanation you may like to read the commentary by A.C. Bhaktivedanta Swami on my above talk. He is a very special mahatma– he knows my heart.

Who is an eternal associate of the Lord?

Hare Krishna and pranams dear devotees,

We frequently hear that such and such exalted Vaishnava is an eternal associate of Krishna or Lord Caitanya Mahaprabhu. Some other terms used for an eternal associate of Lord are Sangi or pāriṣada. Let’s hear from Srīla Bhaktisiddhanta Sarasvati Thakura what is the real significance of being called an eternal associate of Lord and what is the qualification needed to be called one.

The Gauḍīya: Ṭhakura [Narottama dasa] Mahāśaya writes, gaurāṅgera saṅgi-gane, nitya-siddha kari māne, se yāya brajendra-nanda pāśa: “Anyone who is preaching the saṅkīrtana movement is an associate of Caitanya Mahāprabhu.” So whom should we accept as gaurāṅgera saṅgī, Lord Gaurāṅga’s associates or companions?

Srīla Bhaktisiddhanta Sarasvati Thakura: Only those who support Śrī Gaurāṅga’s mood of separation are actual associates of Gaurāṅga; they are His saṅgī. Those who fulfill Gaura’s mission, who serve His inner desire, are His associates. Those who eternally remain present with Gaurāṅga in order to serve Him are gaurāṅgera saṅgī.

While traveling in South India, Śrīmān Mahāprabhu converted people in village after village to Vaiṣṇavism, but those who did not engage constantly in His mission –who did not associate with Mahāprabhu at all times by dedicating everything to Him –how can they be called His “associates”?

The word saṅgī derives from the word saṅga, which means “one who approaches completely.” Those who did not associate with the Lord constantly cannot be called His saṅgī. They can be called His bhaktas, but not His saṅgī.

Another word for saṅgī is pāriṣada. Even though Ṭhākura Narottama did not appear when Śrīmān Mahāprabhu was having His pastimes, he is still Śrīmān Mahāprabhu’s saṅgī because he appeared in this world only to fulfill Mahāprabhu’s mission and is eternally absorbed in His service –totally overwhelmed by Mahāprabhu’s internal mood. He nourishes the Lord’s mood of separation and is therefore a nitya-siddha devotee.

(Srila Bhaktisiddhanta Sarasvati Thakura and the Editor of The Gaudiya, March 23, 1926)

I hope we understood a little bit about the exalted position of someone who is an eternal associate of Lord- someone who is sold-out to the mission of Krishna, dedicating everything for Krishna’s service.

The above would also imply that there is a window of opportunity available for every soul to go back to Godhead and become an eternal associate of Lord by following the path shown to us by previous acharyas – Narad, Dhruv Maharaj, Prahalada Maharaj, our own acharya – Srila Prabhupada. What is needed is a burning desire and a heart that is sold out to the service of Sri Guru and Gauranga. Srimad Bhagavatam says-

O Lord, who resemble the shining sun, You are always ready to fulfill the desire of Your devotee, and therefore You are known as a desire tree [vāñchā-kalpataru]. When ācāryas completely take shelter under Your lotus feet in order to cross the fierce ocean of nescience, they leave behind on earth the method by which they cross, and because You are very merciful to Your other devotees, You accept this method to help them.

(SB 10.2.31)

This human form of body is a most valuable boat, and the spiritual master is the captain, guru-karṇadhāram, to guide the boat in plying across the ocean of nescience. The instruction of Krishna is a favorable breeze. One must use all these facilities to cross over the ocean of nescience. Since the spiritual master is the captain, one must serve the spiritual master very sincerely so that by his mercy one will be able to get the mercy of the Supreme Lord.

(SB 7.15.45p)

The path is there, the process has been given and an unlimited amount of mercy is flowing our way- the choice is ours.

All glories to Srila Bhaktisiddhanta Sarasvati Thakura

All glories to Sri Guru and Sri Gauranga

All glories to Srila Prabhupada.

your servant,

Giriraj dasa

Taking shelter of Krishna

Hare Krishna and Pranams dear devotees,

In response to my last blog ‘Turning distress into an opportunity‘, I received a few calls from devotees on taking shelter of Krishna in times of distress. In all the calls the crux was the same- Should we trouble Krishna with our material problems? Shouldn’t bhakti should be practiced without any motivation. My response was- of course bhakti should not be motivated, which means we practice bhakti for no other purpose than to please Krishna. But when faced with challenges in our lives then whose shelter should we take? Should we place our faith in Krishna’s hands or should we put it in the hands of some demigod, doctor, lawyer, money deposits, etc.?

As a small child depends exclusively upon his father similarly we, aspiring devotees, should practice keeping our faith only in Krishna. We do whatever else needed to be done but we should have the firm faith that the final decision is in the hands of Krishna and hence take shelter of Krishna only. Of course, as a dependent servant, we accept with love whatever Krishna finally decides to do about it.

This morning I read a beautiful verse from Srimad Bhagavatam and in his purport, Srila Prabhupada speaks about the importance of taking shelter of Krishna. I am sharing the same with you all of you.

tasyogra-daṇḍa-saṁvignāḥ  sarve lokāḥ sapālakāḥ
anyatrālabdha-śaraṇāḥ  śaraṇaṁ yayur acyutam

Everyone, including the rulers of the various planets, was extremely distressed because of the severe punishment inflicted upon them by Hiraṇyakaśipu. Fearful and disturbed, unable to find any other shelter, they at last surrendered to the Supreme Personality of Godhead, Viṣṇu.

Lord Krishna says in Bhagavad-gītā (5.29):

bhoktāraṁ yajña-tapasāṁ
 sarva-loka-maheśvaram
suhṛdaṁ sarva-bhūtānāṁ
 jñātvā māṁ śāntim ṛcchati

“The sage who knows Me as the ultimate purpose of all sacrifices and austerities, the Supreme Lord of all planets and demigods, and the benefactor and well-wisher of all living entities attains peace from the pangs of material miseries.” The Supreme Personality of Godhead, Krishna, is actually the best friend of everyone. In a condition of distress or misery, one wants to seek shelter of a well-wishing friend. The well-wishing friend of the perfect order is Lord Sri Krishna. Therefore all the inhabitants of the various planets, being unable to find any other shelter, were obliged to seek shelter at the lotus feet of the supreme friend. If from the very beginning we seek shelter of the supreme friend, there will be no cause of danger. It is said that if a dog is swimming in the water and one wants to cross the ocean by catching hold of the dog’s tail, certainly he is foolish. Similarly, if in distress one seeks shelter of a demigod, he is foolish, for his efforts will be fruitless. In all circumstances, one should seek shelter of the Supreme Personality of Godhead. Then there will be no danger under any circumstances.

(SB 7.4.21+p)

There are innumerable examples – Gajendra, Kunti Maharani, Pandavas, all the Vrajavasis practiced it -Nanada Maharaj, gopas and the gopis. In all their challenges, they would call out only one person- Krishna!

Nanda Maharaj took shelter of Krishna

While Nanda Maharaja was returning home, he considered Vasudeva’s warning that there might be some disturbance in Gokula. Certainly the advice was friendly and not false. So Nanda thought, ”There is some truth in it.” Therefore, out of fear he took shelter of the Supreme Personality of Godhead. It is quite natural for a devotee in danger to think of Krishna, because he has no other shelter. When a child is in danger, he takes shelter of his mother or father. Similarly, a devotee is always under the shelter of the Supreme Personality of Godhead, but when he specifically sees some danger, he remembers the Lord very rapidly.

( Krishna Book, chapter 6)

Gopas always call out to Krishna

Since it was almost night and all the inhabitants of Vrindavan, including the cows and calves, were very tired, they decided to take their rest on the riverbank. In the middle of the night, while they were taking rest, there was suddenly a great forest fire, and it quickly appeared that the fire would soon devour all the inhabitants of Vrindavan. As soon as they felt the warmth of the fire, they immediately took shelter of Krishna, the Supreme Personality of Godhead, although He was playing just like their child. They began to say, ”Our dear Krishna! O Supreme Personality of Godhead! Our dear Balarama, reservoir of all strength! Please try to save us from this all-devouring and devastating fire. We have no shelter other than You. This devastating fire will swallow us all!” Thus they prayed to Krishna, saying that they could not take any shelter other than His lotus feet. Lord Krishna, being compassionate upon His own townspeople, immediately swallowed up the whole forest fire and saved them.

(Krishna Book, chapter 17)

Whole Vraja took shelter of Krishna

Ordered by King Indra, all the dangerous clouds appeared above Vrindavan and began to pour water incessantly, with all their strength and power. There was constant lightning and thunder, blowing of severe wind, and incessant falling of rain. The rain seemed to fall like piercing sharp arrows. By pouring water as thick as pillars, without cessation, the clouds gradually filled all the lands in Vrindavan with water, and there was no visible distinction between higher and lower land. The situation was very dangerous, especially for the animals. The rainfall was accompanied by great winds, and every living creature in Vrindavan began to tremble from the severe cold.

Unable to find any other source of deliverance, they all approached Govinda to take shelter at His lotus feet. The cows especially, being much aggrieved from the heavy rain, bowed down their heads, and taking their calves underneath their bodies, they approached the Supreme Personality of Godhead to take shelter of His lotus feet. At that time all the inhabitants of Vrindavan began to pray to Lord Krishna. ”Dear Krishna,” they prayed, ”You are all-powerful, and You are very affectionate to Your devotees. Now please protect us, who have been much harassed by angry Indra.”

(Krishna Book, chapter 25 )

Gopi’s golden advise for us

Your lotus feet are the proper shelter of Your servitors.

(Krishna Book, chapter 29)

I pray that it helped and it inspires us to take shelter of Krishna’s lotus feet in all conditions- favourable or unfavourable.

All glories to the divine shelter of Krishna

All glories to Srila Prabhupada

Your servant,

Giriraj dasa

Turning distress into an opportunity

Hare Krishna and pranam dear devotees,

We come into Krishna consciousness with a spiritual goal. Most of us are also looking a one-stop solution for all our material distress and anxieties and from one angle it is right to turn to Krishna for our material problems because Krishna is our only protector and shelter.

It is always challenging when devotees are visited by distress, but we can take these times to examine how much we’re able to apply the knowledge we have gained from reading and chanting.

 What is Distress?

Extreme anxiety, sorrow, or pain.

Krishna advises us to tolerate distress without getting disturbed

O son of Kuntī, the nonpermanent appearance of happiness and distress, and their disappearance in due course, are like the appearance and disappearance of winter and summer seasons. They arise from sense perception, O scion of Bharata, and one must learn to tolerate them without being disturbed.

(Bg 2.14)

Seems easier said than done!

Even well placed devotees get surprised and bewildered when distress hits them. Why me? Why now? How  can I go through it? How can I help others who may be going through it? We can see it from multiple angles.

Uttama (good) – philosophical understanding

There are two kinds of activities, namely pious and impious. By executing pious activities one can gain facilities for higher material enjoyment, but due to impious activities one has to undergo severe distress. A devotee, however, is not interested in enjoyment or affected by distress. When he is prosperous he knows, “I am diminishing the results of my pious activities,” and when he is in distress he knows, “I am diminishing the reactions of my impious activities.” A devotee is not concerned with enjoyment or distress; he simply desires to execute devotional service. It is said in the Srimad Bhagavatam that devotional service should be apratihatä, unchecked by the material conditions of happiness or distress.

(SB 4.12.13p)

But better than facing distress with a philosophical understanding is if we can connect our distressed condition directly with Krishna. Another reason is that devotees do not suffer from karmic reactions.

Ati Uttama (better): An impetus to remember Krishna

The word hari conveys various meanings, but the chief import of the word is that He (the Lord) vanquishes everything inauspicious and takes away the mind of the devotee by awarding pure transcendental love. By remembering the Lord in acute distress one can be free from all varieties of miseries and anxieties. Gradually the Lord vanquishes all obstacles on the path of devotional service of a pure devotee, and the result of nine devotional activities, such as hearing and chanting, becomes manifested.

(SB 1.7.10p)

Sarvottama (best): Krishna is curing me with bitter juice

The fact is that everything is the Supreme Personality of Godhead, manifested in varieties of energy. Ekam evādvitīyaṁ brahma. There is no second existence.

Those who are truly vipaścit, learned, are those who have reached the platform of understanding and observing the Supreme Personality of Godhead in any condition of life. Premāñjana-cchurita-bhakti-vilocanena santaḥ sadaiva hṛdayeṣu vilokayanti (BS. 5.38). Learned devotees accept even conditions of distress as representing the presence of the Supreme Lord. When a devotee is in distress, he sees that the Lord has appeared as distress just to relieve or purify the devotee from the contamination of the material world. While one is within this material world, one is in various conditions, and therefore a devotee sees a condition of distress as but another feature of the Lord. tat te ’nukampāṁ su-samīkṣamāṇo (SB 10.14.8).

A devotee, therefore, regards distress as a great favour of the Lord because he understands that he is being cleansed of contamination. Teṣām ahaṁ samuddhartā mṛtyu-saṁsāra-sāgarāt (Bg. 12.7). The appearance of distress is a negative process intended to give the devotee relief from this material world, which is called mṛtyu-saṁsāra, or the constant repetition of birth and death.

To save a surrendered soul from repeated birth and death, the Lord purifies him of contamination by offering him a little distress. This cannot be understood by a nondevotee, but a devotee can see this because he is vipaścit, or learned. A nondevotee, therefore, is perturbed in distress, but a devotee welcomes distress as another feature of the Lord. Sarvaṁ khalv idaṁ brahma. A devotee can actually see that there is only the Supreme Personality of Godhead and no second entity. Ekam evādvitīyam. There is only the Lord, who presents Himself in different energies.

(SB 10.2.28p)

Sarvashreshta (topmost) : Advance devotee see distress as a blessing and welcome it

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

(SB 1.8.25)

Who are such devotees?

Those devotees who are in proper shelter, whose consciousness has evolved and who are steady and enthusiastic in their determination to advance in Krishna consciousness. Such devotees see all distress simply as a mercy of Sri Guru and Gauranga upon them. They have firm faith that Krishna knows what is best for their spiritual progress.

Can I align my consciousness like this?

This is obviously a very high and evolved consciousness but there is very simple and sublime spiritual solution for it. If we have a desire to see all challenges and distress in our life simply as a mercy of Guru and Krishna upon us then one of the option, shared by HG Srimati mataji, is to daily sing the bhajan gopinath, mama nivedana suno by Srila Bhaktivinoda Thakura. By humbly praying for it and then singing this bhajan our consciousness will slowly but surely evolve, our heart will soften and then we can gradually come to realise that all distress is simply mercy of Srila Gurudeva upon me and one welcomes it with all his heart.

I pray that it helped.

All glories to Srila Prabhupada.

your servant,

Giriraj dasa

Gopinath Mama Nivedana Suno

Bhadra Purnima – a special day to glorify book Bhagavata and the devotee Bhagavata

Hare Krishna and pranams dear devotees,

Today is Bhadra Purnima, a very auspicious and special day for all the devotees of lord Krishna.

Visvarupa- mahotsava

Today is Visvarupa- mahotsava , the date on which Lord Chaitanya Mahaprabhu’s elder brother, Visvarupa, took sannyasa, the renounced order of life. We hear from Caitanya Caritamrta –

After this, Jagannātha Miśra got a son of the name Viśvarūpa, who was most powerful and highly qualified because He was an incarnation of Baladeva.

Viśvarūpa was the elder brother of Gaurahari, Lord Śrī Caitanya Mahāprabhu. When arrangements were being made for the marriage of Viśvarūpa, He took sannyāsa and left home. He took the sannyāsa name of Śaṅkarāraṇya. In 1431 Śakābda Era (A.D. 1509), He disappeared in Pāṇḍarapura, in the district of Sholapur. As an incarnation of Saṅkarṣaṇa, He is both the ingredient and immediate cause of the creation of this material world. He is nondifferent from Śrī Caitanya Mahāprabhu, for the aṁśa and the aṁśī, or the part and the whole, are not different. As an incarnation of Saṅkarṣaṇa, Viśvarūpa belongs to the quadruple manifestation of catur-vyūha. In the Gaura-candrodaya it is said that Viśvarūpa, after His so-called demise, remained mixed within Śrī Nityānanda Prabhu.

(CC Adi 13 174+p)

Bhadra Purnima

Today is also Bhadra purnima, a very auspicious day to serve Srimad Bhagavatam. Bhagvatam declares –

If on the full moon day of the month of Bhādra one places Śrīmad-Bhāgavatam on a golden throne and gives it as a gift, he will attain the supreme transcendental destination.

(SB 12.13.13)

Varaah Purana says-

Sri Narayana said to Brahma, O saintly brahmana! among all of my festivals, the celebration of the appearance of Srimad Bhagavatam is the best. I am subdued by persons who with devotion and love hear, decorate and worship Srimad Bhagavatam, with clothes, ornaments, flowers, incense and lamp during festivals, just as a chaste wife subdues her husband.

(Varaha Purana)

So Bhadra Purnima is a great day to gift Srimad Bhagavatam to someone close to us, including bringing Srimad Bhagavatam in our own home. We can also start reading Srimad Bhagavatam from today and even dedicate ourselves to read at least verse from SB daily. There are multiple ways we can serve the lotus feet of Srimad Bhagavatam this Bhadra Purnima and reap the benediction Krishna has kindly left for us.

Srila Sanatana Goswami prays to Srimad Bhagavatam ( and we can pray the same) –

O Srimad-Bhagavatam, I offer respectful obeisances unto You. By reading you one attains transcendental bliss, for Your syllables rain pure love of God upon the reader. You are always to be served by everyone, for you are an incarnation of Krishna.

O Srimad-Bhagavatam, O my only friend, O my companion, O my teacher, O my great wealth, O my deliverer, O my good fortune, O my bliss, I offer respectful obeisances unto you.

O Srimad-Bhagavatam, O giver of saintliness to the unsaintly, O uplifter of the very fallen, please do not ever leave me. Please become manifested upon my heart and my throat, accompanied by pure love of Krishna.

(Krishna lila stava, verses, verses 414-416)

Srila Prabhupada took Sannyasa

Sixty years ago, on this very day, Srila Prabhupada took sannyasa for us. He accepted the order of sannyasa from Sri Srimad Bhaktiprajnana Kesava Maharaja on September 17, 1959 at the Kesavaji Matha in Mathura.

The Background

I was sitting alone in Vṛndāvana, writing. My Godbrother insisted to me, “Bhaktivedanta Prabhu, you must do it. Without accepting the renounced order of life, nobody can become a preacher.” So he insisted. Not he insisted; practically my spiritual master insisted. He wanted me to become a preacher, so he forced me through this Godbrother: “You accept.” So, unwillingly I accepted.

( Srila Prabhupada Lilamrta, Vol 1, chapter 9 )

Sannyasa ceremony

Abhay sat on a mat of kuśa grass beside ninety-year-old Sanātana, also to receive sannyāsa that day. Sitting opposite the two candidates, Nārāyaṇa Mahārāja, Keśava Mahārāja’s disciple, prepared to conduct the ceremony of mantras and offerings of grains and ghee into the fire. Akiñcana Kṛṣṇadāsa Bābājī, Abhay’s Godbrother, known for sweet singing, played mṛdaṅga and sang Vaiṣṇava bhajanas. Sitting on a raised āsana, His Holiness Keśava Mahārāja presided. Since there had been no notices or invitations, only the maṭha’s few residents attended.

Nārāyaṇa Mahārāja chanted the required mantras and then sat back silently while Keśava Mahārāja lectured. Then, to everyone’s surprise, Keśava Mahārāja asked Abhay to speak. Abhay had not expected this. As he looked around at the gathering of devotees, he understood that the common language was Hindi; only Keśava Mahārāja and a few others spoke English. Yet he knew he must speak in English.

After Abhay’s speech, each initiate received his sannyāsa-daṇḍa, the traditional head-high staff made of four bamboo rods bound together and completely enwrapped in saffron cloth. They were given their sannyāsa garments: one piece of saffron cloth for a dhotī, one for a top piece, and two strips for underwear. They also received tulasī neck beads and the sannyāsa-mantra. Keśava Mahārāja said that Abhay would now be known as Bhaktivedanta Swami Mahārāja and that Sanātana would be Muni Mahārāja. After the ceremony, the two new sannyāsīs posed for a photo, standing on either side of their sannyāsa-guru, who sat in a chair.

Keśava Mahārāja didn’t impose any strictures on Abhay; he simply encouraged him to go on preaching. Yet Abhay knew that to become A.C. Bhaktivedanta Swami did not mean merely that he was giving up family, home comforts, and business. That he had done five years ago. Changing from white cloth to saffron cloth, from Abhay Bābū to Bhaktivedanta Swami Mahārāja, had a special significance: it was the mandate he had required, the irrevocable commitment. Now it was only a matter of time before Bhaktivedanta Swami would travel to the West as Bhaktisiddhānta Sarasvatī had ordained. This was Bhaktivedanta Swami’s realization of his new sannyāsa status.

(Srila Prabhupada Lilamrta, Vol 1, chapter 9)

Does everyone need to take Sannyasa?

“The Krishna consciousness movement is not that we are asking everyone to become a sannyāsī like me, and give up everything. No. That is not our program. You act as a brāhmaṇa, as a kṣatriya or a vaiśya or a śūdra. It doesn’t matter. But you try to satisfy Krishna. That is the program.”

(Srila Prabhupada Lecture, Bombay, December 30, 1972)

Srila Prabhupada’s special relationship with Bhagavatam

When asked, “Are you going to America?” Srila Prabhupada replied, “No, Srimad-Bhagavatam is going to America—I am going with it.”

All glories to Vishvarupa Mahotasava

All glories to Bhadra Purnima

All glories to Srimad Bhagavatam

All glories to Srila Prabhupada.

your servant,

Giriraj dasa

How to become dear to Krishna

My dear son,

In your recent prayers, you asked me ‘My dear Krishna what can I do to become dear to you.’  This thought in itself is very commendable so I’m sharing with you what qualities I would like in my children. If you try to sincerely inculcate these qualities then there is no doubt that you will become very dear to me.

One who is not envious but is a kind friend to all living entities, who does not think himself a proprietor and is free from false ego, who is equal in both happiness and distress, who is tolerant, always satisfied, self-controlled, and engaged in devotional service with determination, his mind and intelligence fixed on Me – such a devotee of Mine is very dear to Me.

He by whom no one is put into difficulty and who is not disturbed by anyone, who is equipoised in happiness and distress, fear and anxiety, is very dear to Me.

My devotee who is not dependent on the ordinary course of activities, who is pure, expert, without cares, free from all pains, and not striving for some result, is very dear to Me.

One who neither rejoices nor grieves, who neither laments nor desires, and who renounces both auspicious and inauspicious things – such a devotee is very dear to Me.

One who is equal to friends and enemies, who is equipoised in honor and dishonor, heat and cold, happiness and distress, fame and infamy, who is always free from contaminating association, always silent and satisfied with anything, who doesn’t care for any residence, who is fixed in knowledge and who is engaged in devotional service – such a person is very dear to Me.

Those who follow this imperishable path of devotional service and who completely engage themselves with faith, making Me the supreme goal, are very, very dear to Me.

(Bg 12.13-20)

I hope this gives you some food of thought. I will be eagerly looking forward to hear from you about your progress. Remember I am already there in your heart and just a ‘prayer call’ away from you.

Your ever well-wisher,

Krishna

p.s.- I am trying this new format- letters from Krishna- by quoting Bhagavad Gita verses, kindly do share your comments for the same.

your servant,

Giriraj dasa