Japa workshop at Barsana 2012


Hare Krishna.

This was last year winter, japa retreat 2012, Barsana, 1st December.

I was told very highly about this retreat by HG Vrajamohan Prabhu, my inquisitiveness got better of me and I went to attend the first two days. The whole retreat was managed very professionally and, surprisingly, most of the participants were foreigners.

I was told that if I attend this retreat then atleast for few months my japa will improve.

I had no idea who HH Sacinandana Swami and HG Bhurijan Prabhu were.

In the first Session HH Sacinandan maharaj introduced everyone and then the session started. In that closed hall, with Deities, maharaj, and all the other devotees, knowing that we were in Barsana, it took Maharaj just few hours to take us deep within the spiritual sea. It was transcendental. After 3 sessions it was like a transcendental deluge and a competition on who will shower more mercy on us, HG Bhurijana Prabhu or HH Sacinandan Maharaj.

I called up home on the second day and told my wife that I am not coming back for the next 6 days. I had just one set of clothes to wear and no warm clothes,which actually helped.

What they both spoke was pure nectar. The whole atmosphere in the retreat was so pure. I never knew such purity was possible in the material world. But then it was Barsana, Radha Rani’s place and who better to ask for Her mercy then HH Sacinandan Maharaj.

One session after another they made us drink nectar of Krishna’s Name, pastimes and qualities.

One day we had 12 hour continuous Kirtan where the star attraction was HH Indradyumna Swami Maharaj. I heard him for the first time, his kirtan took us to another realm altogether. Another surprise was Kirtan by HG Prasanta Mataji, she was so intense while singing and such purity. I immediately fell in love with her. My ideal Gurumata. I confessed it to her the last day also accepting that I was a gate crasher.

I did not know how those 12 hours of continuous kirtan passed, local ladies joined in as so many devotees danced in spiritual ecstasy outside the hall. We also had kirtan by local Vaishanava babaji, a wonderful style of kirtan. As a surprise, in the end, we had Braja children dressed as Radha, Krishna and gopis. They looked so beautiful, danced graciously, for those few moments I could imagine how young Krishna would be.

Then we had a 64 round day session at `Ter Kadamb’. Most of us did much more than that by 4pm. It gave me tremendous confidence to chant more rounds.

The retreat also brought another change within me. Each night the dinner we got was like a small portion of an appetizer or even less. Infact the first night I thought it was just a dry starter before the sumptuous dinner would be served. I was in for a mild shock when I found that it was the only dinner we will be served. I was told that a light dinner helps us get up early. Well, it indeed helped to get up early every morning. When I came back home I changed my dinner pattern to a very light dinner. It helps me get up early and also reduces my longing for food in general, not that I have conquered it.

I would strongly suggest that any one who is serious about his devotional journey should attend Maharaj’s retreat on japa and then Govardhan Parikarma. It is coming up again this winter, organised by VIHE, one can send a mail to vihe@pamho.net for more details.

My realisations from the retreat

1. I never knew what the taste or `ruchi’ in the Holy Name, the retreat let me taste it. I was always told that `ruchi’ only comes at a very later stage or once I get initiated but Maharaj made me taste it. I knew what to hanker for while doing my japa.

2. Our consciousness while doing the japa should be that of begging or praying to the Lord.

3. All offenses come from false ego and false ego can be dissolved by humility. Humility comes when soul cries from Krishna.

4.  I could never could never visualise how should I look up to Srimati Radharani,  I got a definition : `Karunamayi’.

(Karuna is something which falls on undeserving.)

This retreat was one of the best thing that happened in spiritual journey, and even today when I read my notes I can taste it in my heart. It was an amazing experience and I came back super charged with devotional energy.

All glories to HH Sacinandan Maharaj.

All glories to HG Bhurijan Prabhuji.

All glories to the Holy Name.

All glories to Karunamayi Radharani.

All glories to Sri Guru and Gauranga.

There are no coincidences in Krishna Consciousness

Hare Krishna.

I have never believed in coincidences nor took too much notice of them ever in my life.

But to my surprise I have found myself increasingly taking more hints than ever in my life. I wrote in brief about it in my earlier blog on Parmatama a few days back.  I am sharing the latest incident which happened on 19th Oct which made me share it again on this topic.

I am quite dunce, more so in taking hints and my wife can share a long list on this topic. Over the last one year I have been getting so many hints, and such broad ones, that I have no other option but to notice them. It is like someone is raising a flag in front of me to notice the obvious hint.

Be it a trip, a lecture, seeing Lord, the hints have started dropping in like never before.

Sumeet Prabhu called me up on 19th morning around 7.45am. He had just returned from USA was sharing his experience at Seattle temple and in general about our spiritual journey. During the conversation he spoke about HH Bhakti Tiratha Swami ji and then suggested  that I should read the book `Surrender’ by Maharaj. I replied with a lame yes but in my mind I thought I already have so many books to read and I don’t want to read too many books. Then the topic changed and we spoke about whether devotees should glorify each other or not. Inspite of good council by Sumeet Prabhuji in the past I stood on my ground that too much glorification among neophytes may lead to pride and then fall down. After talking for some time I requested Sumeet Prabhuji that I need to listen to the weekly lecture of HG Rukmini Krihsna Prabhuji over internet and we will meet on Sunday morning at the temple and catch up.

The lecture had already begun by the time I logged in and Prabhuji was speaking about envy. To my utter surprise after a few minutes HG Rukmini Prabhuji too talked about HH Bhakti Tiratha Swamiji and then asked the audience to read … what else… his book `Surrender’   ! I could not believe my ears. And then the next big surprise, after the lecture was a over a devotee asked prabhuji what should we do when we get appreciation or if someone over-glorify us. Prabhuji explained that it is all right  to accept glorification and we should accept it with proper etiquette. We should not reply that please don’t speak like this and then get into a verbal duel with the other person on how we don’t deserve it. He explained that glorification cleanses the speaker and it is also our seva to accept it, he quoted the words  Dadati Pratigrihnati, it is both accepting and giving . He explained that we should fold our hands and accept it, ensuring that we don’t get puffed up inside, we should then immediately transfer it to the Guru Paramapara. We should say `thank you so much that you could see this particular quality in me, it is all thanks to the mercy of Guru and Guru Parampara. Prabhuji explained that if we don’t allow the other person to speak then we stop other person’s cleansing and we too miss an opportunity to glorify Guru Parampara. It is win win for both provided we don’t `drink’ the glorification our own self.

The same evening HG Asit Prabhu spoke about … what else.. glorification of devotees among themselves, at the Gurgaon centre.

Now is there any way I could have missed the point ??

How merciful are all the Vaishanavas and how merciful is the sweet Lord who guides us repeatedly even when we ignore Him continuously. We all must learn to keep our internal ears tuned to the messages from the Lord. I have no idea how this tuning happened and I can take it as a causeless mercy of Guru Maharaj (how everything is happening so fast since I got initiated), HG Rukmini Krishna Prabhuji, HH Bhakti Madhurya swamiji, the wonderful devotees of Gurgaon, my sweet Lord and all the Vaishnavas whose heart is as soft as melted butter.

Or May be the most undeserving get most mercy. I remain most grateful and the only way I can hope to reciprocate is by praying that I get a chance to serve the Vaishanavas, ISKCON and my Guru Maharaj.

All Glories to Guru Parampara.

All Glories to Sri Guru and Sri Gauranga.

All Glories to Srila Prabhupada.

Dancing in front of Deities

Hare Krishna,

Srila Prabhupada dances in front of the Deities at ISKCON’s Bhaktivedanta Manor, Lechmore Heath, Watford, UK. 1974.

Srila Prabhupada dances in front of the Deities at ISKCON’s Bhaktivedanta Manor, Lechmore Heath, Watford, UK. 1974.

In my initial years I used to wonder why, or even how, devotees dance after the morning Guru puja. I would place them as sentimental devotees, priding myself as the one who is here for the serious knowledge. I still remember, at Punjabi Bagh temple, some devotee would try to pull me in and I would reply with a lame shrug. Of course, I never danced in my whole life, was an introvert and on top of it I am gifted with two left feet.

Bewildered, one day I finally asked one senior devotees why do they dance ? I got the reply that dancing  is to please the Lord, that dancing in front of the Deities is recommended in the Vedas as well and is also part of bhakti. I was not convinced.

This changed over last 1 year. I slowly let go of my shyness to join in and my awkwardness about dancing steps and then came to a stage where I actually started to look forward to it and would happily jump in.

How much I have changed, I realised 2 week back, when at the Gurgaon centre, HG Haridas Thakur Prabhuji started a kirtan after the  morning Bhagavatam class. May be the prasadam was delayed or some other reason but I knew it was going to be a short kirtan.  After few minutes of listening I felt like dancing and not just dancing but jumping with joy. The kirtan was very melodious and Prabhuji always sings very well that but the surge in my heart was a new surprise, and shock, for me. In few seconds I felt that I would choke if I don’t start dancing immediately. I tried to stop myself as I could see everyone else was very nicely standing and clapping. I prayed let someone else start it and I looked around for any eye contact but to no avail. I had no idea how but I took the first step and then requested the devotees to join in, ever merciful, some devotees obliged and we dance for a few minutes.

Now at home or in most of the kirtans I always feel like dancing in front of the Lord, the feelings come like a big surge and I have to control myself to hold them, but mentally I dance and I dance – for the pleasure of the Lord  !

All glories to the most merciful Lord Jagannath.

All glories to Sri Guru and Sri Gauranga.

Lectures with deep philosophy

Hare Krishna.

Till now, I would  always `judge’ devotees based on how they would give lectures. Similarly when some `simple’ lecture would be going on I would get impatient and would pray that Prabhu ji will soon discuss something important or `deep’. It is only recently that I realised how foolish I was, or rather I am, that most of the time the limitation is not with the speaker but with the listeners. An intelligent speaker always see who is the general audience, he then speaks according to what they can absorb rather than what only a few devotees can relish. I realised that the the austerity may be with the speaker who may wish to speak of deeper topics but has to control himself for the benefit of the majority of listeners. I touch my ears and promise myself never to judge devotees based on their lectures.

I also realised that  all the limitation is within me if I can’t get taste out of simple topics.

All glories to the ever merciful Vaishanavas.

All glories to Srila Prabhupada.

I am the taste of water…

Hare Krishna.

Today morning as I went to the kitchen to drink my daily quota of  3 glasses of luke warm water I realised that although I long to drink water first thing in the morning yet I don’t bother about its taste, it has more or less become a routine for last few years. The only time I long for its taste is when I don’t get it, mostly when I am travelling and the room has just one half filled bottle, then I relish each gulp of water in the morning as I drink it carefully and long for more.

I think similar may be my current state of chanting . Every morning I get up, I get fresh and then I start my Japa. Of course, I first try to pay my obeisances before staring my Japa in a right consciousness and then begin with a force,  but once I complete my rounds or even in the middle of my rounds I chant mechanically, just hoping that I am atleast listening all syllables. I even wait for them to get completed so that I can start listening to some lecture.

Yes, over the years my no. of rounds have increased but still I am not chanting with taste. In fact I miss my early days where I used to do my japa in front of the altar with a ferocious concentration. At least the first 8-12 rounds were done with 110% of my heart into them.

By the mercy of Guru and Gauranga, I do get some taste when

1. I chant in the presence of the devotees, always very positive. May be I get conscious of everyone’s presence, may be the devotee’s presence help me focus better, it always works for me.

2.  When I chant in the temple, after mangal arti, the concentration and purity is at a different level altogether.

3.  When I chant in any of the `Dham’, I myself wonder at my concentration and the emotional connect.

kabe ha’be bolo se-dina amar
 aparadha ghuci, suddha name ruci,
krpa-bale habe hrdoye sancar
When, oh when will that day be mine? When my offenses ceasing, taste for the name increasing, when in my heart will your mercy shine? When, oh when will that day be mine?
All glories to Srila Bhaktivinod Thakura

All glories to Srila Prabhupada.

Paramatma in our heart

Hare Krishna.

few days I was looking back at my short spiritual journey and wondering how so many bad vices are having less effect on me now. I know for sure that it is not that suddenly I have developed a great will power.

I realised that the major factor which helps me is my acceptance and acknowledgment that  Paramatama is sitting with in my heart.  It took me some time but once I started `experiencing’ Him it became very difficult for me to overlook Him. When I `do’ something which isn’t right then most of the times I become conscious that He is watching me `doing’ it. After a few `misses’ I could no longer ignore Him.

upadraṣṭānumantā ca
bhartā bhoktā maheśvaraḥ
paramātmeti cāpy ukto
dehe ’smin puruṣaḥ paraḥ

Yet in this body there is another, a transcendental enjoyer, who is the Lord, the supreme proprietor, who exists as the overseer and permitter, and who is known as the Supersoul.                (BG13.23)

I also realised that I can’t request Sri Radha Shyamsundar to enter my heart if They have to watch me doing all this monkey business.

All glories to Sri Guru and Sri Gauranga.

A Pure Vaishanava


Hare Krishna.

I have always been more interested in philosophy in my journey of Krishna consciousness, though I started a liking for `kathaa’  in the last few months. Some time back I downloaded a 7 day Bhagavad Katha by HG Sarvabhouma Prabhuji and during a conversation with Karuna Prabhuji, Punjabi Bagh temple, I shared with him how much I relished it. It was  full of nectar. He agreed with me and asked me if I have heard lectures of HH Radha Govind Maharaj. I replied in negative and prabhuji advised me to listen to his lectures some time.

I downloaded the lectures the next day and, well what can I say ……..my spiritual life was never the same again.

Maharaj’s lecture blew me with his simple language and yet a very deep understanding of Krishna consciousness. Listening to Maharaj’s `vani’ increased my enthusiasm to hear ‘Kathaa’ a thousand percent. I have no interest in philosophy any more. For me everything is in the ‘kathaa’ only ! Within a week I downloaded more than 50% of Maharaj’s lectures and listen almost an hour everyday without fail. Every single word he says sinks deep inside my heart.

We can hear and download Maharaj’s lectures at


One of the series I listened in the begining  was Bhishma Stuti. For me Bhishama stuti was always more of  `Jnana’ and I used to be confused on the role played by Bhishma. I can’t describe in words what that `kathaa’ did to my heart. Each single word was full of `rasa’. I pay my mental obeisance to Maharaj almost everyday and thank all the devotees who have put so many of his lectures on Iskcondesiretree.

I am listening to Akrur milan for last some days and my admiration for Maharaj, my love for Krishna and all His associates grow multi fold after listening to him every new day, such is the power Maharaj’s words have on my soul.

I have not had the fortune to meet Maharaj personally. I hope to take his darshan in the month of Kartik at Vrindavan. But every time I listen to him , his picture comes right across my eyes, smiling, cracking jokes and distributing love of Krishna to every single soul who is listening him. Maharaj’s language, his style, his respect for Srila Prabhupada, his hold on Sankrit, deep understanding of so many previous acharaya’s commentaries and poems, Mahaprabhu’s Leela and most of all his love for Krishna comes right into our ears and then sit inside our heart. I now know what does it mean when someone say that two ears are insufficient.

I feel Maharaj is one of the Brajawasi who is narrating sweet Krishna tales to an assembled group of innocent villagers. I simply love him. I thank him from the bottom of my heart for being so generous on unfaithful people like me and turning us into lovers of Krishna. I pray that Maharaj continue to spread Krishna Katha, in good health,  for many many years to come.

All Glories to HH  Radha Govind Maharaj.

All Glories to Srila Prabhupada.

All Glories to Sri Guru and Sri Gauranga.

Namamrita Seminar : Day 2,3 & 4

Hare Krishna.

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

Day 2: Maharaj touched the below topics

a. Role of japa in Bhakti and mechanical chanting.

b. Forgiveness and Humility

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

All Glories to all the devotees who attend the seminar.

All Glories to His Holiness Bhakti Brhat Bhagavad Swami Maharaja.

All Glories to Srila Prabhupada.

Namamrita Seminar : first day

Hare Krishna.

I had the fortune to attend the Namamrita Seminar of His Holiness Bhakti Brhat Bhagavad Swami Maharaja during the third week of September.  I had heard a great deal about the seminar from HG Chitralekha Devi Dasi mataji in her news letters in the past. It was difficult to leave work for 3 days but then the Lord arranged everything to fall perfectly in place as seminar finished by lunch time everyday.

Maharaj started by speaking about the glories of the Holy name and reinforced how Holy name is non different from Krishna. He spoke about relationship with the Holy name and how in this age of kali Hari Nama is the incarnation of Lord and out of nine processes of devotional service it is the most important.

Maharaj also stated that between kirtana and japa, japa is more important. He explained that japa maintains us internally and kirtana brings people from external to internal consciousness. Hence in this sense japa is more important. Secondly we also take a vow in front of our spiritual to chant minimum of 16 rounds of japa  at initiation.

Maharaj brought to highlight another subtle difference between `neophyte chant at least 16 rounds’ and `members of Krishna Consciousness chant a minimum of 16 rounds’. He explained that minimum means we should to chant more than 16 rounds, that is the clear instruction of Srila Prabhupada for initiated devotees.

Chanting Hare Krishna is the easiest, quickest, safest and surest way to Go back home, back to Godhead.

Stages in chanting the Holy Names : Maharaj explained three stages of chanting :

a. Nama Apradha ( Chanting with offenses)

b. Namabhasha ( Clearing stages)

c. Shudha nama ( Pure Chanting)

He explained that irrespective of what stage we are in, we should simply be repentant and go on chanting and we will cross to the next stage. As we progress we can realise Krishna through our tongue  and ears, not our eyes.

The last topic of the days was Evaluating our Japa. Maharaj stressed that we need to develop a relationship with Nama Prabhu. And we should hear our japa loud and clear and we should sincerely practice to chant without offences.

Maharaj asked everyone to rate our Japa on a scale of 1 to 10 on the criteria of taste and steadiness separately.

In the last he brought another subtle point that as per scriptures there are 32 syllables in the Maha mantra. Which means that the name `Rama’ should be pronounced as `Ramah’ . We should not get so self conscious that we stop at each syllable but we must know what is the correct sanskrit pronunciation.

The day ended with delicious lunch  Prasadam. Later, many munificent devotees went for Nagar Sankirtana.

All glories to His Holiness Bhakti Brhat Bhagavad Swami Maharaja.

All glories to Srila Prabhuada.