Revealing Krishna’s heart

Let us try to get a glimpse into Krishna’s heart today. How lovingly He reciprocates with His devotees and what makes Him obliged to His devotees. There is an underlying sweet mellow in Krishna’s exchange with His devotees. These mellows in Krishna’s heart are revealed to us by the acharyas, they know Krishna’s heart.

Revealing Krishna’s heart

Now, the Lord comes to deliver the devotees (paritrāṇāya sādhūnām), but it is clearly stated in Bhagavad-gītā that a devotee transcends the material qualities (sa guṇān samatītyaitān). A devotee is in a transcendental position because he is no longer under the control of the three material modes of nature — goodness, passion, and ignorance. But if a sādhu is already delivered, being on the transcendental platform, then where is the necessity of delivering him? This question may arise. The Lord comes to deliver the devotee, but the devotee is already delivered. Therefore the word viḍambanam, meaning “bewildering,” is used in this verse because this appears contradictory.

The answer to this contradiction is that a sādhu, a devotee, does not require deliverance, but because he is very much anxious to see the Supreme Lord face to face, Krishna comes not to deliver him from the clutches of matter, from which he has already been delivered, but to satisfy his inner desire. Just as a devotee wants to satisfy the Lord in all respects, the Lord, even more, wants to satisfy the devotee. Such are the exchanges of loving affairs. Even in our ordinary dealings, if we love someone we want to satisfy him or her, and he or she also wants to reciprocate. So if the reciprocation of loving affairs exists in this material world, in what an elevated way must it exist in the spiritual world.

(Teachings of Queen Kunti,12p)

Krishna’s heart is controlled by love

Krishna becomes obliged to the loving spirit of the devotee and not exactly to the service rendered. No one can serve Krishna completely. He is so complete and self-sufficient that He has no need of any service from the devotee. It is the devotee’s attitude of love and affection for Krishna that makes Him obliged.

(Nectar of Devotion, Chapter 22)

How Krishna fulfills the desires of His devotees

In Vṛndāvana there is a place where there was no temple, but a devotee desired, “Let there be a temple and sevā, devotional service.” Therefore, what was once an empty corner has now become a place of pilgrimage. Such are the desires of a devotee.

(SB 10.13.50p)

Who, but only a stone-hearted person like me would not like to surrender to a personality like Krishna, and aspire to become a lover of God.

All glories to Srila Prabhupada.

Your Servant,

Giriraj dasa

Householder mahatma

Hare Krishna, I am sharing excerpts from a lecture where Srila Prabhupada speaks a Householder mahatma. He tells us about the aim, symptoms and determination of such a householder. I pray that his words inspire us to become one.

Can a householder become a mahatma?

Question may be whether a mahātmā can be in the household life or not. That is being described: Yes. In household life also there can be mahātmā. Just like Advaita Mahāprabhu. Caitanya Mahāprabhu even; Nityānanda Mahāprabhu. They were all householders. Caitanya Mahāprabhu, He was a householder. He married twice. His first wife died—He married for the second time. Regular householder, although He left household life very early. He was only twenty-four years old; therefore He had no children. But Nityānanda Prabhu had one child, Vīrabhadra, and Advaita Prabhu had two, three children, of which Acyutānanda was very highly elevated. Similarly, Śrīvāsa Ṭhākura, he had children.

So Caitanya Mahāprabhu does not say that one has to become in the renounced order, of sannyāsī, then he becomes a mahātmā. No. We also do not propagate such idea. At least, I am not doing that. I am creating householder, ideal householder. And my ideas are being fruitful. Here in London I sent six householders, and they are doing nice; sincerely they are working. Therefore I am very much proud of them.

What is the aim of such a householder?

A householder mahātmā has only one aim: how to attain the perfectional stage of love of God. That is the aim. Generally, a householder in the modern civilization, they are simply trying to accumulate money, increase the bank balance and make the society, friendship and love as the aim and object of life, and they have no other business. But a person who is mahātmā, his aim is different. His aim is “How to make my life perfect in Krishna consciousness. How to please Krishna, how to make friendship with Krishna.”

Everyone is seeking some friend. That is a fact. The businessmen or lawyer or politician, everyone is seeking some friend. Without friend… Society, friendship and love, these things are required. But a mahātmā householder, he is seeking actual friendship with Krishna… Because he knows, “If Krishna is my friend…”

Just like Arjuna sought friendship with Krishna; Duryodhana sought friendship with Krishna’s power. Krishna divided Himself. Because it was family warfare between two cousin brothers, and Krishna was also related with both of them by family relationship, so He said, “How can I take part with one and not with the other? Then that will be partiality. So anyway, I divide Myself into two. I am alone, one side, and in which side I shall go, I shall not fight. I shall not touch even a weapon. And the other side, all My soldiers.” Krishna had many soldiers. So Duryodhana thought that “I shall take Krishna’s soldiers,” and Arjuna thought, “I shall take Krishna only, even He does not fight.” So this is the determination of mahātmās, that they want simply Krishna’s friendship.

…A devotee has got four business: īśvare prīti, love for God, Krishna; friendship with devotees; and kindness to the neophytes; and rejection to the non-devotees. These four principles. A devotee’s only lovable object is Krishna. His only friend is devotee, another devotee.

(Lecture, 17 September 1969, London)

As a struggling householder devotee, mere thought of becoming a householder mahatma may seem very fetched but we can rise to that platform if we have the desire, sincerity and most importantly a will to please Srila Prabhupada. Srila Prabhupada desired that all householder devotees should become ideal householders. He mentioned in the above lecture how he is very proud of such sincere householders. Today we have hundreds of such householder mahatmas in our Krishna conscious society.

We can test ourselves with some checkpoints given by Srila Prabhupada in his above lecture-

  1. What am I doing in my daily sadhana which is helping me to cultivate friendship with Krishna?
  2. Do I seek friendship with Krishna as a person or with His power?
  3. Do I long for friendship with non-devotees?
  4. Are my best friends devotees?
  5. Is Krishna my only lovable object?
  6. Is the only aim of my life to please Krishna and His devotee?

Sounds tough! but it is a sweet struggle, it is adventurous and it is full of reciprocation from Krishna and His pure devotees.

All the best !

All glories to Srila Prabhupada.

Your servant,

Giriraj dasa

Sanctioned by Krishna

Hare Krishna,

In our daily dealings many times we face circumstances where we have to seek favour from others. Sometimes we get a positive response, sometimes it is negative. Srila Prabhupada shares an amazing insight on how should a devotee see the final result, whether favourable or unfavourable, in a manner that helps us to build our relationship with Krishna.

Srila Prabhupada– So we can ask favor from anyone, but we must know that nobody can favour us unless it is sanctioned by the Supreme Person. We must always know. It is not that one in a superior position can favour me. No, he cannot show favor unless it is sanctioned by the Supreme.

Suppose we approach a rich man to favour us with some contribution or membership fees, but that rich man cannot favour us unless it is sanctioned by Krishna. Krishna is there within him and if he says “You give him this money,” the man will give us. Suppose we request somewhere and he does not favour us. We should not be sorry. We should know that Krishna did not dictate to him that he should donate. He is not so fortunate, therefore Krishna did not dictate as such to him. So there is nothing over which to be sorry. This should be our principle.

(Lecture- 22 March, 1976, Mayapur)

This is a master key that can help aspiring devotees unlock many closed doors-

  1. Faithfully remembering that everything that is happening is sanctioned by Krishna allows us to live an anxiety-free life.
  2. Turn a negative experience into a positive ‘spiritual muscle building’ opportunity.
  3. As we cultivate the habit of naturally feeling dependent on Krishna under all circumstances, it allows devotees to live on Krishna’s mercy, even in this material world.
  4. Such a culture help devotees to develop a spiritual vision where we can see Krishna’s hand in all the happenings in our life, even in the so-called material dealings.

We can apply this principle in multiple situations- while seeking donations, in our dealings with other devotees, in our professional life, etc. Instead of feeling temporarily elated or disheartened, we can practice to become equipoised during life’s ups and downs, see each happening as sanctioned by Krishna, strengthen our relationship with Krishna, thereby allowing us to always remember Krishna and never forget Him.

All glories to Srila Prabhupada.

Your servant,

Giriraj dasa

How to capture Krishna’s beauty in a painting

Time

1969, USA

Team

Try to picture this: you are an artist and you‘ve been a devotee for two or maybe three years … or even six months like Bhakta Mark, Muralidhara. There were Jadurani, Bharadwaja came from Montreal, Muralidhara and Devahuti came from L.A.

The Challenge- capture Krishna’s beauty

You are tasked with painting something that is supposed to exceed the greatest works of art ever known to man. You are supposed to paint something that is more beautiful than Raphael or Da Vinci or Rembrandt has ever painted in their lifetimes because you are painting the beauty, the unlimited, infinitely unlimited beauty of God. So what is the beauty of Mona Lisa compared to God … what is anything compared to that? So these poor artists are shuddering: ―How in the world can we accomplish this?

What Prabhupada is giving the world is so great and our skills and our abilities are so small they don‘t match. It is not even close—and then a letter comes and now he wants a painting a day? So, there was a lot of concern, and as they were talking amongst themselves they wrote to Prabhupada that they did not
feel adequate or up to this challenge: ―We think that our skills as artists are not that great, and we think we need to study seriously and go to an art academy. We need to learn the greatest techniques of the greatest art in the world, and maybe then we will be able to do something that might be slightly worthy of what Prabhupada is going to give to the world. A vision of God: how can we paint that? We barely know even how to paint.”

Srila Prabhupada’s vision to capture Krishna’s beauty

Real beauty

Prabhupada explained to them: “Your whole concept of beauty is mundane. Actually, you don‘t even know what real beauty is. There are two parts to understanding real beauty. The first part is that everything in the painting must be authorized and authentic. There can be no imagination, no fabrication, no fanciful imagination like poets and artists of the world who are trying to create something that is beautiful based on what they have seen in the world.”

The second definition Prabhupada gave them is this: “The only way you are going to achieve beauty is through your heart, through bhakti—devotion to God and not through anything mundane. If you don‘t paint with bhakti, I don‘t care what it looks like it will not be accepted”.

How to Capture Krishna’s beauty?

So now we come back to the problem that the artists had and how they proposed that they wanted to go to art school. And Prabhupada had said that was not how they were going to learn how to paint beautifully: “They may teach you how to paint in a mundane way, but that is not what I am looking for. This is how you are going to learn how you are going to paint. You are going to sit in front of your canvas, eight, ten, twelve hours a day. Day after day and the entire time you are going to be painting, you are going to be chanting Hare Krishna Hare Krishna Krishna Krishna Hare Hare Hare Rama Hare Rama Rama Rama Hare Hare. I understand that you feel helpless and totally inadequate and you are in great anxiety that you cannot do this. Yet that is exactly the mood that I want you to be chanting with. I want you to be in so much anxiety, so anxious, in so much desperation that when you call out to Krishna it is from the core of your heart.” It should be the greatest desperation that anyone has ever felt in life. That is how I want you to chant Hare Krishna while your hand is moving, and if you do that day after day, crying to Krishna for help, every single day then you will learn how to be an artist, that is all the training you need.”

( Excerpt from the Book ‘This is my heart’ by HG Ramesvara prabhu)

Rising to the challenge

Srila Prabhupada Lila

These are pictures of the ISKCON artists working in Boston in 1970. Bharadraja is painting Lord Caitanya taming the wild beasts in the jungle by His chanting of the holy names. Murali-dhara is touching up a picture of four-headed Lord Brahma in Satyaloka. The devotees hadn’t been painting so long, but they were learning by working….They worked in a rather large area on a second floor with lots of windows. About six painters could work at one time, with lamps clamped to their canvases. They’d listen to Prabhupada’s lectures or bhajans of him singing while they painted, and they considered their lives blissful. Working on the Press in separation from Prabhupada while he toured the world produced intense dedication.

The painters felt dedicated. During this early time I was the manager of the painting department. I didn’t have many duties. I assigned the pictures, managed the personnel and my main job turned out to be how to restrain the devotees from working too much. Painting was a service that gave the painters great enthusiasm, and they worked all day and night, and I had to tear them away from their canvases. They were in a mood of painting in a marathon spirit, and Prabhupada encouraged it.  When the paintings were completed and used in the books the originals were put in simple frames and hung in the temples. Prabhupada personally gave instructions by mail as to how exactly the characters should be painted.

(By HH Satsvarupa Das Goswami)

The result- A Miracle

Not bad for no art school. That is the power of the order of the pure devotee because embedded within the order is the potency to carry it out, the empowerment to carry out the order. There is no other way to explain this miracle. Eightyseven paintings in the Krishna book, forty-eight paintings in the Bhagavad-gita and that had to be finished by the end of 1971. And in between they had to paint the second canto, two volumes so seven paintings each. They had to paint for the Nectar of Devotion, and because Prabhupada was introducing art in the books they had to now reprint the first canto, 1st volume and three paintings in those.

There are eighty-seven paintings in the Krishna book, forty-eight paintings in the Bhagavad-gita, twenty-one paintings in the first canto and fourteen paintings in the second canto. And all of this had to be finished by the end of 1971 because then they had to return to the third canto because Prabhupada was already translating the fourth canto. So they painted one hundred eighty paintings in two years, which is unbelievable. By being empowered by Srila Prabhupada, these paintings have a type of bhakti that is impregnated into them by Prabhupada‘s order.

(From the Book ‘This is my heart’ by HG Ramesvara Prabhu)

Scripture confirms-

The form of the Lord is understood by the paramparā system… His description of the bodily features of the Lord is not an imagination. Sometimes we give instructions to our students about the bodily features of the Lord, and they paint Him. Their paintings are not imaginary. The description is given through disciplic succession, just like that given by Nārada Muni, who sees the Lord and describes His bodily features. Therefore such descriptions should be accepted, and if they are painted, that is not imaginative painting.

(SB 4.8.46p)

What Srila Prabhupada revealed on how to capture Krishna’s beauty was so heart-touching that I read it repeatedly and I felt inspired to share it with everyone. The state of our heart needed to capture Krishna’s beauty or Krishna Himself in our heart is now an open secret, the question is do I have the laulyam, the transcendental greed, to want to capture Krishna!

All glories to Srila Prabhupada.

Your servant,

Giriraj dasa

P.S.: The painting on the top is from the first edition of Krishna book.

There is a Television in our heart!

He Lives Forever | The Hare Krishna Movement

Hare Krishna,

I am sharing below the transcript of a lecture by Srila Prabhupada where he mentions how anyone can see God! He reveals that we have Television in our heart!

Sila Prabhupada: So we are worshiping Govindam, the Supreme Personality of Godhead, the original person. So this sound, govindam adi-puruṣaṁ tam ahaṁ bhajāmi, is reaching Him. He is hearing. You cannot say that He is not hearing. Can you say? No. Especially in this scientific age, when television, radio messages are broadcast thousands and thousands of miles away, and you can hear…. Why Kṛṣṇa cannot hear your prayer, sincere prayer? How can you say? Nobody can deny it.

So, premāñjana-cchurita-bhakti-vilocanena santaḥ sadaiva hṛdayeṣu vilokayanti (Bs. 5.38). Just like thousands and thousands miles away you can transfer the television picture or your radio sound, similarly, if you can prepare yourself, then you can see always Govinda. It is not difficult. This is stated in Brahma-saṁhitāpremāñjana-cchurita-bhakti-vilocanena. Simply you have to prepare your eyes, your mind in that way. Here is a television box within your heart. This is the perfection of yoga. It is not you have to purchase one machine or television set. It is there, and God is also there. You can see, you can hear, you can talk, provided you have got the machine. You repair it, that’s all. The repairing process is Kṛṣṇa consciousness. Otherwise, everything is supplied, complete, complete set of machine you have got within you.

And just like for repairing, an expert mechanic required, similarly, you require the help of someone expert. Then you’ll see that your machine is working. It is not difficult to understand. Nobody can say that it is not possible. In the śāstra we hear also. Sādhu śāstraguru vākya, tinete kariya aikya.

Spiritual realization can be perfected by three parallel process. Sādhu. Sādhu means saintly persons, who are realized souls, sādhu. And śāstraŚāstra means scriptures, authoritative scriptures, Vedic scriptures, śāstra. Sādhu, śāstra and guru, a spiritual master. Three parallel lines. And if you place your car or vehicle on these three parallel lines, your car will go direct to Kṛṣṇa.

(SP Lecture – October 18, 1968, Seattle)

Please read it 2-3 times and we may get a sense of what Srila Prabhupada is telling us. And it is not just a theory, being an acharya he himself is experiencing it and then sharing the same with us. Let us delve deeper within us and get the Television in our heart repaired!

In the next blog, I will share Srila Prabhupada explaining in detail- how to see Krishna in our heart!

Your Servant,

Giriraj Dasa

p.s. – Below is the short audio clipping of the above lecture.

Sādhu śāstra guru – three parallel lines

13 Female Gurus in ISKCON's Guru Parampara mentioned in Bhagavad-gita “As  It Is” - Akincana Gocara

Hare Krishna,

As we progress in Krishna Consciousness it is important to check whether our train is going on the right track. And ours is a special train that runs on three parallel tracks- sādhu śāstra and guru!

Why is it important to me?

Narottama dāsa Ṭhākura states that one has to ascertain the right path for his activities by following in the footsteps of great saintly persons and books of knowledge under the guidance of a spiritual master (sādhu-śāstra-guru-vākya). A saintly person is one who follows the Vedic injunctions, which are the orders of the Supreme Personality of Godhead. The word guru refers to one who gives proper direction under the authority of the Vedic injunctions and according to the examples of the lives of great personalities. The best way to mold one’s life is to follow in the footsteps of the authorized personalities.

(SB 4.21.28-29p)

They act as checks and balances

Sādhu, whose character is spotless, he’s called sādhu. Śāstra means scripture, and guru, guru means spiritual master. They are on the equal level. Why? Because the medium is scripture. Guru is considered to be liberated because he follows the scripture. Sādhu is considered to be honest and saintly because he follows scripture. Sādhu-śāstra-guru-vākya. Nobody can become a sādhu if he does not accept the principles of scripture. Nobody can be accepted as guru, or spiritual master, if he does not follow the principles of scripture. This is the test.

(Lecture – New York, December 26, 1966)

Can we understand it in more detail please!

Spiritual realization can be perfected by three parallel process. Sādhu. Sādhu means saintly persons, who are realized souls, sādhu. And śāstraŚāstra means scriptures, authoritative scriptures, Vedic scriptures, śāstra. Sādhu, śāstra and guru, a spiritual master. Three parallel lines. And if you place your car or vehicle on these three parallel lines, your car will go direct to Kṛṣṇa. Tinete kariyā aikya.

Just like in the railway line you see two parallel lines. If they are in order, the railway carriages are carried very smoothly to the destination. Here also, there are three parallel lines—sādhu, śāstraguru: saintly person, association of saintly person, acceptance of bona fide spiritual master, and faith in the scriptures. That’s all. Then your carriage will be going nicely, without any disturbance. Sādhu śāstra guru vākyacittete kariyā aikya.

So here in the Bhagavad-gītā, the Supreme Personality of Godhead explaining Himself, Kṛṣṇa. So if you say, “How can I believe that Kṛṣṇa said? Somebody has written in the name of Kṛṣṇa that ‘Kṛṣṇa said,’ ‘God said.’ ” No. This is called disciplic succession. You will see in this book, Bhagavad-gītā, Kṛṣṇa, what Kṛṣṇa said, and how Arjuna understood. These things are described there.

And the sādhu, saintly person, beginning from Vyāsadeva, Nārada, down to many ācāryas, Rāmānujācārya, Madhvācārya, Viṣṇu Svāmī, and latest, Lord Caitanya, in this way, they have accepted, “Yes. It is spoken by Kṛṣṇa.” So this is the proof: if saintly persons have accepted. They have not denied. Authorities, they have accepted, “Yes.” This is called sādhu. And because sādhu, saintly persons, have accepted, therefore it is scripture. That is the test. Just like . . . it is common sense affair. If the lawyers accept some book, then it is to be understood that this is law book. You cannot say that “How can I accept this is law?” The evidence is the lawyers are accepting. Medical . . . if the medical practitioners accept, then that is authoritative medical book. Similarly, if saintly persons are accepting Bhagavad-gītā as scripture, you cannot deny it.

So sādhu śāstra: saintly person and scriptures, two things, and with spiritual master, three, three parallel lines, who accept the sādhu and the scripture. Sādhu confirms the scripture and spiritual master accept the scripture. Simple process. So they are not in disagreement. What is spoken in the scripture is accepted by saintly person, and what is spoken in the scripture, the spiritual master explains only that thing. That’s all.

So via media is the scripture. Just like lawyer and the litigants—via media is the law book. Similarly, the spiritual master, the scripture . . . saintly person means who confirms the Vedic injunction, who accepts. And scripture means what is accepted by the saintly person. And spiritual master means who follows the scripture.

So things equal to the same thing are equal to one another. This is axiomatic truth. If you have got hundred dollars, and another man has got hundred dollar, and if I have got hundred dollar, then we are all equal. Similarly, sādhu śāstra guru vākya, when these three parallel lines in agreement, then life is success.

(SP Lecture, 18/10/1968, Seattle)

This the process

When a man comes into good consciousness and accepts a saintly person as a spiritual master, he hears many Vedic instructions in the form of philosophy, stories, narrations about great devotees, and transactions between God and His devotees. In this way a man becomes refreshed in mind, exactly like a person who smears scented sandalwood pulp all over his body and decorates himself with ornaments. These decorations may be compared to knowledge of religion and the self……. One cannot return to Kṛṣṇa consciousness unless he is favored by the instructions of a saintly person. Therefore Śrīla Narottama dāsa Ṭhākura sings, sādhu śāstra guru vākya, cittete kariyā aikya. If we want to become saintly persons, or if we want to return to our original Kṛṣṇa consciousness, we must associate with sādhu (a saintly person), śāstra (authoritative Vedic literature) and guru (a bona fide spiritual master). This is the process.

(SB 4.26.12p)

Srila Prabhupada openened this opportunity for us

So this Kṛṣṇa consciousness movement is giving chance to everyone to hear from the authoritative sources, from the śāstra. Sādhu śāstra guru. These are authorities. So instead of hearing from the unauthorized persons….

(SP Lecture- Bhuvanesvara, January 22, 1977)

Finally, it is upto us…

Vāsudeva is always ready to help us, provided we want to take help from Him. And He, not only internally He is helping, externally also, He’s sending His representative to teach us. And there is śāstra, just like this Śrīmad-BhāgavatamSādhuśāstraguruGuru is there, śāstra is there, saintly persons are there. You take advantage. And the Lord is there within yourself. So why don’t you take? This is intelligence. 

(SP Lecture on SB 1.7.7 — Vrndavana, September 6, 1976) 

I pray and hope that this compilation was somehow meaningful and inspires us to regularly hear Srila Prabhupada’s lectures and read his books.

All glories to Srila Prabhupada.

Your Servant,

Giriraj dasa

Srila Prabhupada- limitless compassion

Hare Krishna and Pranam dear devotees,

Please hear this heart-touching incident which shows that there is no limit to the compassion of our dear Srila Prabhupada-

It was the beginning of 1977. Prabhupada was in the Bombay temple. He was very sick. He had stopped all food intake – he was taking 1/4 a cup of orange juice per day. His body had only bones left – there was no flesh. And yet, he was insisting that he wanted to go to London. The doctors had given up responsibility. But as always, he was adamant.

At this time, one Pancaratrika Pandit from Bangalore named Sampat Kumar Bhattacarya came to know about Srila Prabhupada’s situation. So, he took a flight from Bangalore to Bombay – which in those days was a huge thing for a Brahmin priest – and met Prabhupada, and asked for a private meeting. Generally, nobody was allowed a private meeting, but when he said that he specially came by flight from Bangalore to meet Srila Prabhupada, he was allowed a private meeting. So, everybody was asked to go out, and they talked.

The conversation was like this: Sampat Kumar: ‘Swamiji, I am feeling very pained that you are suffering like this.’

Prabhupada (laying down, in broken words): ‘The whole world is meant for suffering. Dukhalayam asavatam.’

Sampat Kumar: ‘But still Swamiji, there are so many people depending on you. So when you suffer, they suffer.

Prabhupada: ‘What can I do?’

Bhattacarya: ‘Swamiji, I want to tell you something. In Vrindavan temple, they are having your deity on the altar. And all kinds of people are coming and praying to it and offering flowers to it, and you are still living. According to Pancaratra, when the Acarya is living, if he puts his deity on the altar, then all the sufferings people are having come to his body through the deity. So you please tell your disciples to worship your deity only after you leave your body.’

He was speaking as if he was giving some information to Prabhupada, which Prabhupada did not note.

Prabhupada: ‘I know. I came here to take their suffering.’

Bhattacarya was shocked. He was not giving any new information. This was well known to Prabhupada, and he was determined to suffer for others.

Prabhupada: ‘Do you have anything else to say?’

Bhattacarya: ‘Swamiji, if that is your wish, what can I say? I am only a priest.’

Prabhupada: ‘Even when I leave, I will keep continuing taking their suffering, and make them free so they can keep chanting Hare Krishna.’

(Told by HG Atma Tattva Das in a Bhagavad Gita class on 9.34 in Los Angeles on the 20th of March 1993)

(Additional reference – By HG Rajendranandana Prabhu in the Memory Anecdotes of a Modern Day Saint by- Volume 4 by Siddhanta dasa)

Yes. Those who are spiritually advanced, their photograph and ordinary photograph is different. Just like here is statue of Kṛṣṇa. He’s not different from Kṛṣṇa. The original person Kṛṣṇa and this statue of Kṛṣṇa is the same. Similarly, a spiritually perfect person and his photograph is the same. Because it is in the absolute stage. In the absolute stage there is no difference. In the material stage there is difference. Is that clear?

(Lecture, 16th Sept. 1966, New York)

We can see that Srila Prabhupada has not disappeared. He is very much here- for us- in every temple, in every devotee’s home and in the heart of his dear followers. We simply need to put our prayer at his lotus feet- he is a unique combination of mercy and potency.

All glories to Srila Prabhupada.

your servant,

Giriraj dasa

From kanishtha to madhyam-adhikari

Hare Krishna and Pranam dear devotees,

I am posting a blog after a long gap. What better to start by reading some nectar from Srila Prabhupada. I am sharing a very instructing excerpt from a lecture Srila Prabhupada gave in Vrindavan in 1972. Please read it carefully.

Prabhupada– So, in devotional service there are three stages,” “The kanistha-adhikari, the madhyam-adhikari, and the uttama-adhikari, or beginning, middle, and advanced stages. In the beginning, kanistha-adhikari, the devotee engages in Deity worship, makes offerings to the Deity, cleans the floor, etcetera. This isn’t to say that Deity worship is lower than meditation. It’s just the beginning stage.

“Sometimes the kanistha-adhikari thinks that he has realized Krishna just because he has worshiped the Deity nicely, but he must make further advancement. When we say ‘Krishna,’ we do not refer to Krishna alone, but to all of His energies and paraphernalia. When we say, ‘The king is coming’ we don’t mean that the king is coming alone. His ministers, secretaries, queens, soldiers—everyone is coming. Similarly, Krishna is the root of all emanations, and when He comes, His devotees also come with Him. When we recognize Krishna’s devotees and pay them respects, we are further advanced. If a pure devotee comes, the pujari can immediately stop the aratik and go to receive him. Krishna is satisfied more when His devotee is worshiped. That’s a fact.

“Yasya prasadad bhagavat-prasado yasya prasadan na gatih kuto’pi. The spiritual master is the representative of God because he’s engaged twenty-four hours daily in Krishna’s service. The spiritual master is considered as good as Hari because he’s Krishna’s most confidential servant. Worship of the spiritual master is not artificial or concocted: it’s recommended in all the Shastras. Advanced devotees accept this and treat the spiritual master accordingly.

“Although the spiritual master is offered respects like Hari, he doesn’t think himself Hari. He considers his disciples to be his spiritual masters. He thinks, ‘Krishna has sent me so many spiritual masters.’ He doesn’t even think of himself as a guru but as a servant to his disciples, because Krishna has given him the task to train them.

When one is advanced, he can see the importance of other devotees. An advanced devotee never offends another devotee. That is a very serious offense. Therefore we address one another as ‘Prabhu.’ This should not simply be spoken with the lips. It should be realized. One should think of other devotees as his prabhus, his masters. Not that he should try to become master himself.

We should always be willing to offer respects not only to other devotees but to everyone. Everyone. Why? Because every living entity is originally a devotee of Krishna. Circumstantially, being covered by the modes of nature, he seems like a demon, but his original nature is that of Krishna’s servant.

“The process of bhakti really begins when one is self-realized. Before that, if one engages in Deity worship yet thinks that he is the body and does not give respect to devotees, he is at the first stage, kanistha-adhikari. Although seated on the material platform, he’s trying to improve his condition by following the directions of the spiritual master and Shastra.

We should not remain perpetual neophytes. We should try to advance to madhyam-adhikari. On this platform, we distinguish between four different kinds of living entities: Krishna, Krishna’s devotees, innocent people, and atheists. We should not superficially say, ‘In my view, everyone is the same.’ Of course, that is the last stage, but because we are neophyte, this is not our vision. This vision of the maha-bhagavat should never be imitated. Imitation is artificial.

“In the second stage, that of madhyam-adhikari, one treats all types of men according to their position and tries to increase his love for the Supreme Personality of Godhead and also make friends with the devotees. He doesn’t envy the devotees. If a devotee is superior, we should take lessons from him; if equal, we should make friends with him; and if lower, we should try to help him.

A madhyam-adhikari does not simply give respect to other devotees: he teaches others to become devotees as well. This means preaching. A preacher should approach others and say, ‘You’re wasting your life in material activities. You should become Krishna’s devotee.’ This is preaching. One should preach Krishna consciousness to the innocent. The atheists should be avoided because as soon as an atheist hears about God, he becomes envious and vicious.

“At the last stage, that of maha-bhagavat or uttama-adhikari, one doesn’t see devotees and nondevotees. He sees everyone as a better devotee than himself. Nor does he pretend to have this consciousness. No. He actually thinks like this. He’s naturally humble: he wants to pay respects to everyone, and he wants no respect for himself. If one wants respect for himself, he’s still at the secondary stage. The maha-bhagavat is ready to give respect even to an ant.

“When one attains this highest platform, there’s no more friend, no more enemy, no more preaching. The maha-bhagavat sees everyone engaged in the Lord’s service, with the exception of himself. This platform, however, should not be imitated. It must be sincere, not superficial.

Those who are preachers must remain on the second platform, that of madhyam-adhikari. Even when a maha-bhagavat wants to preach, he must come down to that second platform. He cannot remain on the highest and preach. He plays the part of second-class devotee. For instance, in the Bible, Lord Jesus Christ said, ‘I have many things to say, but you are not qualified to understand them.’

( Lecture, 23rd Oct 1972, Vrindavan)

There are many gems in the above excerpt. However I wish to focus upon if we could see how Srila Prabhupada expects every ISKCON devotee to graduate to the level of a madhyam-adhikari, he does not want us to become complacent in Bhakti, which affects many of us. He also instructs us what qualities an aspiring devotee should develop to come to the platform of a madhyam-adhikari.

There is nothing bad in being in a primary school, everyone has to go through it but one does not remain in a primary school, one graduates to secondary school. The same is true for Krishna consciousness as well.

And lastly, we heard how important it is to be engaged in preaching service, which attracts even a Maha-bhagavat or an uttama-adhikari to come down to the level of a madhayam-adhikari. Like Srila Prabhupada did.

In the next blog, I will share from the above-quoted lecture, Srila Prabhupada’s instruction on how to preach properly.

All glories to Srila Prabhupada.

Your servant,

Giriraj dasa

Why devotees suffer?

Hare Krishna and Pranam dear devotees,

These are difficult times and we see suffering all around us. Especially we have seen Indians suffer severely in the second wave of COVID and our heart and prayers are with everyone at this time of difficulty. However, we see devotees also suffer during such times and sometimes as neophytes we may wonder why devotees suffer, I am already under the shelter of Krishna. However, as per scriptures, a devotee’s suffering is not the same as that of an ordinary person, devotees do not suffer karmic reactions, they may look same but are completely different. A karmi eats grains and vegetables and a devotee also eats the same, however, there is a completely different effect on both. One is under the control of material energy whereas the other is under the control of Krishna. Hence mature devotees accept their so-called suffering also as the mercy of Krishna and great devotees like Kunti maharani pray for more suffering as it facilitates deeper remembrance of Krishna.

Today I came across the below conversation which may help us understand why devotees suffer.

Devotee: Srila Prabhupada, sometimes people argue that if there is no God, it doesn’t matter what I do, and if there is a God, then He is controlling everything and it still doesn’t matter what I do, because everything is predetermined anyway. In either case, I am free to do anything I like.

Srila Prabhupada: Yes, but why do you suffer?

Devotee: Well, it’s all God’s plan. I suffer according to God’s plan.

Srila Prabhupada: No. It is not God’s plan that you suffer; you suffer because you violate God’s laws. He is controlling everything, but He has given you minute independence: you can either follow His laws or violate them. But you are so foolish that you do not understand you are suffering. Your position is like that of the cats and dogs, who also cannot understand that they are suffering.

Our point is that you are suffering because you have violated God’s laws, and if you become obedient to God you will not suffer. But you are such a fool, such a rascal, that you do not even know that you are suffering.

Devotee: But the devotees also seem to be suffering.

Srila Prabhupada: Yes, but they are not suffering like the nondevotees. Material life, which is the cause of suffering, is like a disease, and devotees are giving up this diseased condition of life for Krishna consciousness. If you are suffering from some disease, you cannot expect to be cured immediately. But one who is taking the medicine is very intelligent. His sufferings will soon be gone. But these nondevotee rascals will not even take the medicine—Krishna consciousness—so they will continue to suffer. To man

And for the most part, devotees enjoy. Why are you always chanting Hare Krishna and dancing unless you are enjoying?

Devotee: Sometimes I get a sick stomach, too.

Srila Prabhupada: That’s because you have a material body. But your suffering is just like the movement of a fan that has been switched off. The fan is still moving, but the switch is off; so it will soon stop. Similarly, your suffering will soon stop, because you are acting on the spiritual platform. And after giving up this body, you will have a completely blissful life. As Krishna says in the Bhagavad-gita [4.9], tyaktva deham punar janma naiti:

“After giving up the body, a devotee doesn’t take birth again in the material world.” You are not going to get another material body, full of suffering. That is your advantage.

But these nondevotee rascals are going to continue getting body after body, all full of suffering. They will have to accept one body and suffer, and then again they’ll have to give up that body and take another body and suffer. As long as one accepts a material body he will have to suffer, because having a material body means suffering. So those who are not Krishna conscious will change bodies one after another and continue to suffer the threefold miseries [those caused by the body and mind, those caused by other living beings, and those caused by natural calamities].

But devotees, even if they appear to be undergoing some suffering, will eventually give up the material body and remain in their spiritual body, free from all suffering.

Devotee: [taking the position of a materialist] That is simply your faith.

Srila Prabhupada: And it is your faith that you do not believe it. We are accepting the words of the Bhagavad-gita on faith, so we have a chance of getting promoted to the spiritual world. But you have no faith, so you are sure to continue suffering in the material world. We are at least willing to take the chance, but you are so foolish that you are not willing to take the chance. So your suffering is sure to continue.

Devotee: Indians often say, “Well, I will take the chance when Krishna wishes. His will is supreme, so whenever He wishes He will make me Krishna conscious.”

Srila Prabhupada: In the Bhagavad- gita [18.66], Krishna says, sarva-dharman parityajya mam ekam sharanam vraja: “Give up all your nonsense and surrender unto Me. Become Krishna conscious.” So, Krishna wishes that you surrender to Him. Why don’t you obey His wish?

Devotee: Why does Krishna arrange for the pleasures of sense gratification if they only bring us suffering?

Srila Prabhupada: Again, the same answer: Krishna has given us minute independence—we can use our senses for either sense gratification or for serving Him, which is the real pleasure of the senses. The senses are meant for enjoyment, but if you try to enjoy your senses in a diseased way—by gratifying them—that is your misfortune, and you will have to suffer. You have to cure your disease by becoming Krishna conscious. Then you will enjoy unlimitedly.

We are not like the Mayavadis [impersonalists], who want to destroy the senses and become senseless. That is not our program. We want to purify the senses (sarvopadhi- vinirmuktam tat-paratvena nirmalam). Suppose a man cannot see because he has glaucoma. The mayavada program is that if your eye is giving you trouble and you cannot see, pluck it out. That is not our program. We want to cure the disease so you can see very nicely. So, our senses should be cured of the material disease by our practicing Krishna consciousness. Then we will be able to enjoy real sense pleasure by using our senses in the service of Hrishikesha [Krishna], the master of the senses.

(Morning walk, April 1975, Mayapur)

This divine energy of Mine, consisting of the three modes of material nature, is difficult to overcome. But those who have surrendered unto Me can easily cross beyond it.

(Bg 7.14)

All glories to Srila Prabhupada.

Your servant,

Giriraj dasa

Inquisitiveness- quality of a devotee

Hare Krishna and pranam dear devotees,

A few days back I heard a lecture by Srila Prabhupada where Prabhupada spoke about an essential quality of any disciple- inquisitiveness. We make progress in Krishna consciousness by asking questions, clarifying our doubts. This is a Vedic principle and a key part of guru-disciple relationship. Srila Prabhupada famously said ‘asking questions is a sign of intelligence’. I am sharing part of the transcription of the lecture below –

People should be engaged always inquiring about progress of spiritual life. That is advancement. Bodhayantaḥ parasparam. There should be constantly discussion. So this is jijñāsu.

And to dissipate this ignorance, get out of this ignorance, one has to approach a person who is not abodha but bodhabudhāBudhā bhāva-samanvitāḥ: one who has known what is the destination of life. That budhā . . . What is that? Bhajante ananya manaso budhā bhāva-samanvitāḥ (BG 10.8). So one has to approach a budhā.

Therefore Lord Buddha’s name is Buddha, from this bodha. He has understood everything. He was prince, and he never came out of the palace, and when he came out he saw one old man with a stick, with great difficulty walking. So inquired his servants, “What is this?” “This is old man. Everyone has to become like this.” That was the inspiration of understanding. “Why he should be like that? Why one should become old man? Why he should walk on sticks?” So these inquiries made him Buddha, Lord Buddha, by meditation. That is his pastime.

That means one should understand by nature study, why this man is diseased, why this man is old, why this man is suffering. Then bodhayantaḥ parasparam, then the inquisitiveness can lead him to the proper knowledge. And where to get that proper knowledge? That is guruTad-vijñānārthaṁ sa gurum evābhigacchet (MU 1.2.12). But if there is no inquiry, if one is dull like stone and tree, then how there will be inquiry?

So our education at the present moment is given just dull like stone and trees. Trees standing, cutting. No inquiry. “Why you are cutting?” He cannot. So dull. But this inquisitiveness should be enthused. People should be enthused to inquire: ādau gurvāśrayaṁ sad-dharma pṛcchātSad-dharma pṛcchāt. That inquisitive must be . . . Guru means . . . To accept guru means the disciple should be very very eager to knowSad-dharma pṛcchātĀdau gurvāśrayam. Why you accept a guru? “It is a fashion.” One should be very inquisitive: sad-dharma pṛcchāt.

And everywhere the same thing. ParipraśnaTad viddhi praṇipātena paripraśnena sevayā (BG 4.34). But don’t make inquiries cheap: “Ah, here is my guru, and he’s meant for answering all my questions. Let me go on questioning, questioning, questioning.” No. Sevayā: you must serve him. You must be ready to serve him. Then you have got right to make question. Otherwise not.

Two things. First of all, you must find out a person where you can fully surrender, praṇipātena. And then you can inquire, and the inquiry should be compensated by sevaYasya prasādād bhagavat-prasādaSevonmukhe hi jihvādau svayam eva sphuraty adaḥThe more you are inclined to render seva, the more the truth becomes revealedyasya deve parā bhaktir, yathā-deve tathā gurau, tasyaite kathitā hy arthāḥ, prakaśanteIt is a different science. The more you are inclined to render service, the more the spiritual truth becomes revealed.

And two things: if you are not inquisitive, don’t bother yourself to have a guru. Useless. There is no need. Tasmād guruṁ prapadyeta (SB 11.3.21). Tasmād, “therefore.” What is that? Jijñāsuḥ śreya uttamam. If you are inquisitive about transcendental science, śreya uttamam.

(Lecture, )

I felt a bit embarrassed after hearing this lecture as I do not ask too many questions. I prayed to Srila Prabhupada to help me that I do not assume I have understood a particular point rather I should confirm it from senior devotees and develop the quality of inquisitiveness. At the same time I should be careful that I don’t treat senior devotees like an ATM machine to answer my questions at all the times, I should develop the mood to serve them as well.

All glories to Srila Prabhupada.

Your servant,

Giriraj dasa