The Caitanya Vaisnavas
WHEN Srila Prabhupada brought Krsna consciousness to the West in 1965, he was carrying forward the movement begun by Sri Caitanya Mahaprabhu five hundred years ago in Mayapur, West Bengal. Srila Prabhupada brought Krsna consciousness packaged in a spiritual tradition known as Gaudiya (or Bengali) Vaisnavism. Gaudiya Vaisnavas are devotees of Lord Krsna and Lord Caitanya Mahaprabhu, who is Krsna Himself in the form of His own devotee. In this issue of Back to Godhead we look at some of the history and important devotees in the Gaudiya Vaisnava tradition.
In January, Gaudiya Vaisnavas celebrate the appearance of Nityananda Prabhu, Lord Caitanya's closest associate. Srila Prabhupada speaks about Nityananda Prabhu in the opening article of this issue. Nityananda is Balarama, Krsna's first expansion. Since Balarama has the same potency as Krsna, Balarama (or Nityananda) is also God.
Many people in the West had heard of Krsna before Srila Prabhupada's arrival in New York. Krsna's Bhagavad-gita had been available in English for a long time. But hardly anyone outside India knew of Lord Caitanya and Nityananda. So Srila Prabhupada came to deliver everyone from this great misfortune. Lord Caitanya and Lord Nityananda are especially merciful forms of Krsna and Balarama who descended to save the fallen souls of this age. They brought with Them the process of God realization for the age: the congregational chanting of Hare Krsna, Hare Krsna, Krsna Krsna, Hare Hare/ Hare Rama, Hare Rama, Rama Rama, Hare Hare. Although Lord Caitanya and Nityananda appeared in Bengal, They came to deliver the whole world.
In his lecture Srila Prabhupada tells of Nityananda Prabhu's mercy, and he quotes the full text of a song by Narottama Dasa Thakura. Narottama wrote many Bengali devotional songs shortly after Lord Caitanya passed away. He was one of the three great devotees who transported the writings of the six Gosvamis from Vrndavana to Bengal. Lord Caitanya had empowered the Gosvamis to write many books explaining the science of Krsna consciousness and the philosophy of the sankirtana movement. The Gosvamis entrusted to Narottama Dasa Thakura, Syamananda Prabhu, and Srinivasa Acarya the vital task of delivering the manuscripts to devotees in Bengal. In this issue, we begin a three-part biography of Srinivasa Acarya that will describe their journey.
One of the six Gosvamis was Gopala Bhatta Gosvami, founder of Vrndavana's Radha Ramana Temple. In this issue, Padma Nabha Goswami, one of the present leaders of the temple and a descendant of its first priest, relates the temple's history.
Read on to learn more about the roots of the Gaudiya Vaisnava tradition.
Meant to write to you after your first new issue—you have done a superb job re-thinking and re-presenting. Good luck. My heart is with you.
Cheers for Shelter
Thank you very much for printing the fantastic article on Shelter and Bhakta Vic in the Sep/Oct issue. These guys really deserve it. Shelter is an incredible inspiration to me as well as many other young devotees everywhere. Shelter was my introduction to Krsna consciousness when they played here on Oct. 3, 1990. That day was the most purposeful moment in my life, and from then on it has been complete joy. I look forward to seeing Bhakta Vic's column in upcoming issues, as he is an incredibly intelligent individual. All glories to Shelter's devotional service! Hare Krsna!
Thanks so much for publishing the article by Bhakta Vic. It was thoroughly enlivening to read the whole magazine!
Grass Valley, California
I was fortunate enough to be able to accompany Shelter at their very packed concert here recently (they broke the fire code, there were so many people). Immediately upon their arrival, groups of anywhere from five to ten people surrounded the band, and the "youths" asked sincere questions for the entire length of time we were there (six hours). Then many came back to the temple, and even more came to the Sunday feast the next night.
When the band sang, a hundred young men and women were screaming the words to "Saranagati," and everybody chanted Hare Krsna, Hare Krsna, Krsna Krsna, Hare Hare, Hare Rama, Hare Rama, Rama Rama, Hare Hare. Many of Srila Prabhupada's books were sold.
I thought straightedge hardcore wouldn't last, but it appears now to me to be expanding, and there definitely is a group of people within it who are seeking higher consciousness.
Contemporary and Controversial
I think the new magazines are excellent. The basics are still there, but it looks exciting and new. Even simple changes such as adding pictures of temples and Deities to the list of ISKCON temples make a difference and make the whole magazine more enticing.
I also very much appreciate BTG's willingness to discuss "controversial" (women's issue, mistakes of the movement in the past) and contemporary ("Hardcore Hare Krsnas") topics. I find the quality of the writing to be very good, less "official party line" and more of the personalities of the individuals being expressed.
Port Royal, Pennsylvania
In the Sept./Oct. issue of BTG, Suhotra Swami points out the devotions of one Jagannatha Dasa, a so-called follower of Haridasa Thakura: "He (Jagannatha Dasa) had his followers cover their mouths while chanting the maha-mantra and told them to chant the second half (Hare Rama) first." But according to Srila Prabhupada it doesn't matter whether one chants Hare Krsna first or Hare Rama first.
The following is taken from a class by Srila Prabhupada on Srimad-Bhagavatam (3.26.5), given on December 17, 1974, in Bombay.
Srila Prabhupada is describing the many forms of the Lord and then goes on to say, "So either you chant Hare Rama or you chant Hare Krsna, it is the same; there is no difference. Sometimes they place first Hare Rama, Hare Rama, Rama Rama, Hare Hare; and sometimes they place first Hare Krsna, Hare Krsna, Krsna Krsna, Hare Hare. There is no difference. Sometimes they say, 'No, it should be Hare Rama first'; sometimes 'Hare Krsna first.' But that is not very important, childish."
While one is chanting the maha-mantra one after another, what is the difference? Srila Prabhupada instructed his disciples to chant Hare Krsna first because that is how Lord Caitanya chanted. Otherwise, it makes no difference, as pointed out by Srila Prabhupada.
Like the Ganges
Every two months I wait for that breath of fresh air to arrive, and just like the river Ganges it comes down from the spiritual world through the mists of Maya to illuminate my heart. I cannot practice Krsna consciousness very nicely, and I keep falling down and picking myself up, but without your magazine I would be lost forever. Please keep sending it for my sake and for sudras like me.
Worshiping Krsna as Buddha
As a subscriber to the new Back to Godhead magazine, I enjoy reading about Lord Krishna and the spreading of Krishna consciousness more than I ever have before.
On June 20, 1991, I formally converted to Buddhism, from the Baptist branch of Christianity. I learned subsequently that Lord Krishna does truly appear in the form of Lord Buddha, and I became more enthusiastic than ever in my daily worship in my new religion.
Keep up the grand work in your magazine.
Don Coston, Jr.
Disappointed Becomes Satisfied
When BTG first came out last January, I was a little disappointed. First, it was late. Then I never received my second magazine. But after the last issue, I was satisfied. I'm writing to thank you for producing a beautiful magazine!
Just the other day my mother was commenting to me how she liked the new BTG. She said it didn't treat you like a first-timer to Krsna conscious philosophy, but now BTG gave more information and discussion on Krsna consciousness today.
Jagai Nitai Dasa
Hare Krsna! I just returned from my first visit to a temple. I've felt pretty isolated in Des Moines, so I was really looking forward to meeting other devotees. I hadn't ever spoken with a devotee face to face.
The Detroit temple is where I was able to visit, Sunday, Sept. 22, 1991.
I really wasn't sure what to expect.
The grounds were very nice. When I walked from my car to the main entrance, I felt very calm, the whole grounds are wonderful to walk thru.
As I opened the front door at 9 A.M. that morning, I heard someone singing some beautiful Sanskrit. I found him sitting on some steps in the entryway. It was from that point on that I felt very welcome. The devotee, Navadwipa Dasa, took the time to show me around the beautiful building. The tours weren't to start until 12:30 and I had to leave around that time, so Navadwipa Dasa was kind enough to show me the temple and rest of the grounds. Navadwipa Dasa's wife was also very kind to explain things to me. After Navadwipa Dasa had shown me around and left me to enjoy the temple and grounds, I was sitting outside on a bench reading a book on Krsna when a devotee from the kitchen came out and offered me some cooked sweets. This was very nice! A little later, after I had the chance to use my japa beads for the first time in a temple, the gift shop opened and I stocked up on several books and other items.
I can't say enough about the wonderful temple and devotees in Detroit. All glories to Krsna and His devotees!
Des Moines, Iowa
One Father's Service
"If they read one word of my books," Prabhupada said, "they'll be benefited." That applies also to BTG.
In the '60's, my father worked for a big commercial bakery in the Bowery. He mentioned to me then that he met these young men several times who wore ridiculous clothes and were bald. "Nice boys," he said. "They're nice boys. I give them money and they always want me to take their magazine, but I don't want to get into that stuff!"
A long time after I became a devotee, the temple president and I both sent my father a BTG subscription one year. When asked what he was doing with the two magazines, he said he was placing them each month in the waiting room of the Veterans Hospital where he was being treated for cancer.
Although my father was a typical example of an ignorant person who wouldn't read anything but the newspaper, he became attracted to Back to Godhead, and the philosophy had some effect on him. He would sometimes say things like, "Those guys with the ropes are coming for me soon, you know."
Presently it's the anniversary of his death. Whether or not he had an appointment with the Yamadutas is not too significant to me. What is significant is the service, however small, that he rendered to Prabhupada and his movement. I think BTG would be well placed in the homes of all our parents, and we need not think too much if they'll read the whole thing.
On behalf of the grateful dead
San Diego, California
I can understand the prohibition against meat-eating. But what's wrong with eating garlic and onions? Surely there's no more violence committed when we eat an onion than when we eat a potato. Is it considered sinful to eat garlic and onions?
Durban, South Africa
Eating onions and garlic adversely affects one's consciousness. Why? Because the modes of goodness, passion, and ignorance influence every living thing—human, animal, or plant—and we learn from the Vedic literature that onions and garlic are in the lower modes of nature: passion and ignorance. In spiritual life one should cultivate the mode of goodness and avoid the lower modes.
We welcome your letters. Send correspondence to The Editors, Back to Godhead, P.O.Box 90946, San Diego, CA 92169, USA.
A lecture in Bhubaneswar on February 2, 1977
Today Is The Appearance Day of Nityananda Prabhu. Nityananda Prabhu is Baladeva, Baladeva-tattva. Narottama Dasa Thakura has sung, vrajendra nandana yei, saci suta haila sei, balarama haila nitai: "He who was formerly the son of Nanda Maharaja has appeared as the son of Sacidevi." Caitanya Mahaprabhu's mother's name was Sacidevi. So Krsna is Sri Caitanya Mahaprabhu, and Balarama is Nityananda Prabhu.
In the Vedic literature it is said, nayam atma bala-hinena labhyah: "One cannot understand the Absolute Truth without bala." Bala means strength. Sometimes rascal philosophers say that bala means bodily strength. They propagate the philosophy that "Unless you are bodily stout and strong, you cannot achieve spiritual salvation. You must be very strong and stout and eat meat and fight, and then you'll get a spiritual birth in your next life."
No. The strength—bala—required to understand the Absolute Truth is different. This is spiritual strength. The difficulty of the present situation is that although we are moving on account of spiritual strength, people have no information of spiritual strength. They are thinking of material strength.
That is expressed by Narottama Dasa Thakura's song: ahankare matta hoiya, nitai-pada pasariya, asatyere satya kori mani. The misconception of thinking that bala means bodily strength is due to ahankara, false ego. By the spell of maya, people are thinking, "We are independent. We can do whatever we like." This is called ahankara-vimudhatma. Under false pretext, false prestige, everyone is thinking, "We are independent. We can find the solution of the problems of life by material adjustment."
So that is the material disease—ahankara-vimudhatma. Bewildered, people do not understand that the real strength is spiritual strength. We see daily that a person may be very strong, very powerful, have a good brain, be a very good scientist—but what is the person's real strength? The strength is atma. As soon as the atma, or the soul, goes out of the body, the intelligence, the strength—so many things—they are nothing.
That is the difference between a dead man and a living man. A living man may be very powerful and in a very good position, but as soon as he dies, he is lying down on the floor. And if you kick him on his face, he'll not protest. So where is the strength? The strength is gone. That is spiritual strength.
On spiritual strength, the body moves. Suppose you have a very good car—Mercedes or Rolls Royce. When there is no petrol, how will the car move? It is not possible. There is a kind of spirit required—"petrol spirit."
Similarly, real strength is spiritual strength. That spiritual strength is Balarama. Therefore we have to take shelter of the lotus feet of Balarama. Balarama means guru-tattva. Balarama represents guru. If we want to understand Caitanya Mahaprabhu, if we want to understand Krsna, then we must take shelter of Balarama.
Nayam atma bala-hinena labhyah. This Vedic injunction means, "Without the mercy of Balarama you cannot realize your spiritual identity." Balarama comes as Nityananda Prabhu. Therefore we must take shelter of Nityananda.
This song by Narottama Dasa Thakura begins nitai-pada-kamala, koti-candra-susitala: "The lotus feet of Nityananda are as cooling as millions of moons." If we take shelter of Nityananda Prabhu, we'll get peace. For example, in daytime, especially in the summer, we become exhausted by the heat. But in the evening, as soon as there is moonshine we become satisfied. All the day's labor and fatigue are immediately removed. One moon gives us so much pleasure. And the shade of Nityananda Prabhu's lotus feet is as pleasing as the moonshine of millions of moons.
If we actually want peace of mind, if we actually want to be free from material fatigue, we must take shelter of Nityananda Prabhu. Nityananda Prabhu is strength, spiritual strength. And without spiritual strength, you cannot approach Krsna.
Nayam atma pravacanena labhyah: "If you are a good speaker, that does not mean you'll understand Krsna." Na medhasa: "Neither by a good brain." Because you have a very good brain you'll understand Krsna? No. Na bahuna srutena. You think that because you are a very good scholar, a university degree holder, you can understand Krsna? No. That is not possible.
We must have spiritual strength. The source of spiritual strength is Balarama, Krsna's first manifestation, prakasa-vigraha. Krsna is manifesting Himself through Balarama. So we have to take shelter of Nityananda Prabhu.
Je chayay jagata juray. The whole world is suffering, but if you want peace, take shelter of Nityananda Prabhu.
Heno nitai bine bhai, radha-krsna paite nai, drdha kori' dharo nitai pay. Our real aim of life is how to go back home, back to Godhead, and associate with Radha-Krsna. In another song the same author says, manusya-janama paiya, radha-krsna na bhajiya, janiya suniya bisa khainu. Unless you come to Radha-Krsna, you cannot get real pleasure. If you want to dance and get pleasure, don't dance independently. Dance with Krsna.
Just like here, in our temple, we are also eating, but we are eating the remnants of food left by Krsna. That is real pleasure. It is not that we stop eating. We are not dry philosophers. All over the world we are eating Krsna prasadam. At least ten thousand men and women are taking Krsna prasadam, but we have no anxiety. We have no anxiety. A family consists of a few members. They are full of anxiety about how to maintain the family. We are maintaining a family of ten thousand, and we have no anxiety. Just see practically. We have no anxiety. We require thousands and thousands of rupees for maintaining in Europe, America—a costly affair. But because we are under the shelter of Nityananda Prabhu, Balarama, we have no anxiety.
Material life means anxiety. You cannot avoid anxiety if you lead a material life. That is Prahlada Maharaja's instruction. He was asked by his father, "My dear son, what is the best thing you have learned from your teachers?"
He replied, "My dear best of the asuras, the whole human society is suffering, at least suffering from one disease—anxiety."
Ask anybody. Take a small ant and take a big elephant. Take the President of the United States or take a street beggar. Ask them, "Are you free from anxiety?" Nobody will say, "Yes." They will say, "I am full of anxiety." That's a fact. Why are they full of anxiety? Prahlada Maharaja has replied, sada samudvigna-dhiyam asad-grahat: "They are unhappy because they have accepted asad-vastu—that which will not exist."
Everything—whatever we have—will not exist. Our body will not exist. And this is the main platform of our present existence. In the material world, you exist only as long as the body is there. So Prahlada Maharaja said, "The real solution to the problems of life is to get out of this material condition. That is the best thing, in my opinion."
A Vedic injunction says, asato ma sad gamah: "Don't live in this asat, this material condition." Sad gamah: "Go to real existence." Real existence means spiritual life. If we actually want life, blissful life, we must get out of material existence. That is Prahlada Maharaja's instruction.
Samudvigna-dhiyam. And if you remain in material existence, you must suffer some anxiety. You will not be exempt. So Prahlada Maharaja advises, hitvatma-patam grham andha-kupam vanam gato yad dharim asrayeta. The real problem is anxiety. And anxiety will continue as long as you are in material existence. Therefore, real life is to get out of material existence.
Atma-patam means "killing the soul." Material civilization is killing the soul. People have no information of the soul. They do not know how to become peaceful, how to become blissful. They are trying to be peaceful through the external material energy. They are thinking that by constructing big, big buildings they will be peaceful.
Here in Bhubaneswar they are doing this. They are building big roads and traveling with motor cars. And they are thinking that this is advancement of civilization. No. It is not advancement of civilization. It is increasing their anxiety. There is no solution to the anxiety.
Formerly there was no university. The university was in the cottage. Vyasadeva was writing the Srimad-Bhagavatam and all the Puranas in a cottage. That was the university. Who can produce such literature as that which Vyasadeva has given? From any angle of vision—from the literary point of view, from the philosophical point of view—everything that he has written is perfect: the Mahabharata, the Puranas, the Vedanta-sutra...
There was no need of universities. His writing required a clear brain, and that was achieved through brahminical qualities: peacefulness, self-control, austerity, purity, tolerance, honesty, knowledge, wisdom, and religiousness. Where is the education today to teach these qualities? Technical education—how you can very nicely hammer—will not solve the problems of life.
If we want the real solution to the problems of life, our first duty is to take the shelter of Lord Nityananda's lotus feet. Then we'll be happy. We'll be soothed by the moon rays emanating from His lotus feet, and all our fatigue will subside.
Sei sambandha nahi ja'r, brtha janma gelo ta'r. If you have no connection with Nityananda Prabhu, you're simply wasting time.
Se pasu boro duracar. Here Narottama Dasa Thakura has used a very strong word. "Anyone who has no connection with Nityananda Prabhu is a pasu." Pasu means animal. How can an animal get happiness? That is not possible. From childhood the dog searches after food. The street dog cannot get food. Unless a dog has a master, he's always unhappy.
So it is better to become a dog of Nityananda Prabhu instead of becoming a dog of so many other people. Then we shall be happy. Everyone is a dog. Everyone is searching after a master to serve. But no one is satisfied because such a master is a false master. When you take the real master, Nityananda Prabhu, you'll be happy.
Bhaktivinoda Thakura has sung, vaisnava thakura, tomara kukkura, boliya janaha more: "My dear Vaisnava Thakura, kindly accept me as your dog. I am a dog already, but I am maya's dog. I'm not a Vaisnava's dog. So kindly accept me." If we do not become a dog of Nityananda Prabhu, a Vaisnava, or a guru, there is no question of happiness. Nitai na bolilo mukhe, majila samsara-sukhe. One who has no connection with Nityananda Prabhu and who does not say, "Jaya Nitai! Jaya Gaura!" becomes absorbed in material enjoyment. Majilo samsara-sukhe means to think, "Society, friendship, and love, divinely bestowed upon man." Materialist persons say like that. In samsara, material existence of repeated birth and death, there cannot be sukha, happiness. But the materialist is attracted by material existence.
Vidya kule ki koribe tar. What help will a university education or birth in a big family be? These will not help. Why are we accepting these false solutions?
Ahankare matta hoiya, nitai-pada pasariya, asatyere satya kori mani. Misled by false prestige and false ego, we are accepting the body, which will not exist. We have taken the body as reality. But if we take shelter of Nityananda Prabhu, we'll get enlightenment.
Nitaiyer koruna habe, braje radha-krsna pabe, dharo nitai-carana du'khani. Therefore Narottama Dasa Thakura advises that if you want the association of Radha-Krsna, you must first achieve the mercy of Lord Nityananda. Today is Nityananda Prabhu's appearance day. Let us at least remember today the lotus feet of Nityananda Prabhu. That is wanted.
Nitaiyer carana satya, tahara sevaka nitya. The reality is nitai carana, the lotus feet of Nityananda Prabhu. And anyone who is a servant of Nityananda Prabhu is transcendental. One who becomes the dog of Nityananda Prabhu gets eternal life. We are eternal, but under the misconception of material identification we are under the subjugation of maya. It is very much a botheration, but people do not know this. We are going from one body to another, transmigrating. And there is no guarantee what our next body will be. But people have no science, no knowledge about this, the very first instruction of Bhagavad-gita. They are rascals, and they are proud of their education, their universities. This is going on.
Nitai-pada sada koro asa. Therefore we should always desire to be under the shelter of Nityananda's lotus feet.
Narottama boro duhkhi. Narottama Dasa Thakura is an acarya, a great spiritual master. But he is presenting himself as a common man. He is not duhkhi, unhappy, but he's presenting himself as duhkhi. Acaryas are never duhkhi. But taking the common man's position, he says, "Narottama is very unhappy." Narottama means "the best of the human beings." Here in the material world one may be the best of the human beings—in a very exalted position—but everyone is duhkhi, unhappy.
Nitai more koro sukhi: "Only Nityananda can make me happy. Otherwise, it is not possible to be happy."
Rakho ranga-caranera pasa. So we should always pray to Nityananda Prabhu, "Kindly keep me under Your shelter. I am very unhappy. Under the shelter of Your lotus feet I shall be happy." That is real happiness. Thank you very much.
Is the Srimad-Bhagavatam Class Still Relevant?
by Satsvarupa Dasa Goswami
DEVOTEES IN Krsna consciousness are seeking new ways to open and deepen their relationships with one another. They are not satisfied with the impersonal communications that often characterize human dealings in the material world. To become more functional and happy in Krsna consciousness, some devotees turn to personal counseling and even professional therapy. But what about that old forum of self-improvement—hearing the Srimad-Bhagavatam from a self-realized speaker? Is the process of sravanam (submissively hearing the scriptures) still relevant? Can our sravanam be improved?
Personal counseling in Krsna consciousness takes place when one devotee seeks confidential guidance from another, trusted devotee. This method is implied in Rupa Gosvami's description of loving exchanges among devotees: ". . . revealing one's mind in confidence, inquiring confidentially" (Upadesamrta, Text 4). Sometimes I may act as the counselor for my friend, and sometimes I go to him to receive counseling. It is a practice that calls for mutual love and trust. It develops through honest exchanges, with reference to the Krsna conscious conclusion (siddhanta).
Persons with severe difficulties sometimes seek counseling from professional therapists. In a recent seminar at ISKCON's Gita Nagari farm, some devotees testified that therapy helped them, and they compared it to going to a physician whose treatment may help someone function better in devotional service. Other devotees at the seminar pointed out the risks of seeking help from persons who do not practice Krsna consciousness. A professional psychologist may strive to be neutral in his advice, but can he support celibacy or be sympathetic to a life of full dedication to Krsna?
Aside from counseling sessions, devotees seek meaningful encounters among themselves, both on a one to one basis and in community. Open discussion in a community is usually called ista-gosthi. In a news article about the Krsna consciousness movement, a journalist once described an ista-gosthi as a "transcendental gripe session." More precisely, at an ista-gosthi devotees can discuss problems that may have built up for want of sufficient communication. They are usually topics that affect the whole community, and the guiding principle is that we can discuss them candidly, looking for Krsna conscious solutions.
When devotees speak about the need for informal meetings, the already existing forms of communication may sometimes come in for criticism. Sometimes the daily Srimad-Bhagavatam class is singled out as lacking in inspiration.
Certainly, Bhagavatam lecturers and their audiences may improve their rapport. But hearing Srimad-Bhagavatam is still the best method for removing doubts and dirt from the heart. When a learned Vaisnava speaks from the scriptures and answers questions, the potency for self-improvement is unlimited.
Srila Prabhupada personally introduced the Bhagavatam class into ISKCON, and it is a time-honored method of communication. Thousands of years ago the sages at Naimisaranya heard Srimad-Bhagavatam from Suta Gosvami. Suta Gosvami had previously attended the original Bhagavatam classes held by Sukadeva Gosvami, who spoke to Maharaja Pariksit at a gathering of learned devotees.
The successful Srimad-Bhagavatam class requires an eager audience and a qualified speaker. Many of us have had the experience of enduring Bhagavatam classes we found boring. Sometimes we think a speaker has not prepared himself well, or he uses the occasion to air his personal opinions under the cover of scripture. Admitting this, both audience and speaker of Srimad- Bhagavatam can strive to improve their performance.
The Srimad-Bhagavatam class can be a most personal, relevant, and effective way of spiritual communication. Let other methods of communication be encouraged, as long as they can make us more fit to chant and hear about Krsna and perform devotional service. There is a time and a need to deal with topics that don't belong in Srimad-Bhagavatam class. But there is also a time to put aside all relative matters and hear the Absolute Truth.
We can never completely solve the difficulties of family, marriage, and community living. Human dealings are innately imperfect. The source of perfection is the Supreme Personality of Godhead, Krsna, and He is represented by the teacher Vyasadeva, who is represented whenever a qualified devotee speaks the Srimad-Bhagavatam.
Many devotees had their lives dramatically transformed by hearing a Srimad-Bhagavatam class. When Srila Prabhupada gave a lecture in January 1974 stressing the need to "distribute books, distribute books, distribute books," several devotees in the audience vowed on the spot to dedicate their lives to that instruction. The Nectar of Devotion relates the history of a brahmana who heard that devotional offerings could be made in the mind, practiced mental worship, and so was personally brought by Lord Narayana to Vaikuntha.
The Srimad-Bhagavatam message is most potent when spoken by a pure devotee like Srila Prabhupada. But as Prabhupada told us, the message is effective when spoken in disciplic succession by his representatives.
How can a speaker improve the Srimad-Bhagavatam presentation? I once wrote a letter to Srila Prabhupada asking if it was advisable to rehearse and carefully prepare my Bhagavatam lectures. Srila Prabhupada replied: "It is all right to prepare your lectures, but you should also be ready to speak at a moment's notice."
It's important for speakers to leave time at the end of their lectures so that the audience can ask questions. This is often the most enlivening part of the Srimad-Bhagavatam class.
As hearers, we should not demand novelty from Srimad-Bhagavatam. Even if we have heard the same teachings before, that doesn't mean we have fully realized them or we're practicing them perfectly. Hearing the Srimad-Bhagavatam is a comprehensive practice. Prabhupada states that one should hear the message with rapt attention, but for this one needs a pure mind. And for purity of mind one should be pure in one's activities, regulated in eating, mating, sleeping, and defending.
To be dissatisfied with superficial relations is a healthy sign. We should encourage one another to address and solve personal and community problems. Furthermore, we should realize the strength we can gain from the methods Prabhupada has given us. Prominent among these is the daily hearing of Srimad-Bhagavatam.
As stated in the Srimad-Bhagavatam (1.2.18), "By regular attendance in classes on the Bhagavatam and by rendering of service to the pure devotee, all that is troublesome to the heart is almost completely destroyed, and loving service unto the Personality of Godhead, who is praised with transcendental songs, is established as an irrevocable fact."
Satsvarupa Dasa Goswami is the author of more than sixty books, including a six-volume biography of Srila Prabhupada.
By Request—Cooking Lessons
by Yamuna Devi
I'M BEGINNING my second year writing this column. In the premiere issue I asked readers to send in their requests for topics. Nearly all the letters came from people living outside ISKCON temples—a chef, a prison inmate, a graduate student, and a physician, to name a few. The most requested topic was cooking lessons.
Many ISKCON centers offer cooking classes, but for Back to Godhead readers who don't have access to them, this year in this column I'll focus on introductory cooking lessons.
The textbook and homework source for the study is my new paperback entitled The Best of Lord Krishna's Cuisine. A shortened edition of my 800-page hardback, it offers substantial text and 172 recipes from five regional Indian cuisines—North, South, East, West, and Central. While classically Indian in origin, these vegetarian recipes keep Western tastes in mind. Hot chilies and seasonings are used in moderation, and much like salt and lemon juice, they act as flavor enhancers instead of overpowering elements.
In the eight years I served as one of Prabhupada's personal cooks, he sampled more than eighty-five percent of the dishes in the book. If he critiqued or commented on a dish, I worked that information into the final version of the recipe. More than a dozen dishes are Srila Prabhupada originals—from Creamy Mung Dal with Chopped Spinach to the techniques in Three Methods of Cooking Vegetables. For the Simple Tomato Chutney he simply gave me a list of the ingredients and left the amounts and texture up to me. Creamy Pineapple and Rice Jubilee is a dish he taught my sister Janaki in San Francisco. His recipe for Bittermelon Chips with Coconut was a regular on many lunch plates, with flavor variations of the dish rendered by his cook Malati Devi Dasi.
On occasion Srila Prabhupada might have suggested a seasoning adjustment or explained how a different heat intensity would affect the finished texture or body of a dish. Perhaps he came into the kitchen and gave an impromptu demonstration of a technique or procedure. No matter what his involvement in my learning these recipes, I've tried to let each page of The Best of Lord Krishna's Cuisine reflect Srila Prabhupada's standard and instruction.
Srila Prabhupada continually revealed new aspects of the art of devotional cooking, not only to me but to all his student cooks. So I've spent day upon week collaborating with many of his other cooks, collecting recipes, comparing notes, and recalling stories for the text. Most of my colleagues agree that his instructions seemed to flow out of the student's eagerness to learn. He once said that he gave the instructions because we wanted to hear so intently, and of course he was right.
As with the cookbook, in this column I will try to explain things in a simple, uncomplicated way. I hope it will spark your interest enough so you'll delve more deeply into the subject. You can use either the soft- or hardback edition of the cookbook for the course. They're available in bookstores or by mail order from Bala Books, 12520 Kirkham Ct., Poway, CA 92064.
Before we proceed to class topics such as rice, legumes, vegetables, and condiments, I'd like to address a few questions I'm repeatedly asked about devotional Vaisnava cooking: What is the attitude of the Vaisnava cook? What rules and regulations surround the preparation of food in the kitchen? What type of food should we eat daily? How do I organize my kitchen, and what special equipment do I need? How do I make my cooking a meditation, a yoga, and a devotional offering to Lord Krsna? What is the nature of food offered to Krsna, and how does it affect consciousness?
In the next issue, we'll glance at some of Srila Prabhupada's early letters and conversations on these subjects and hear insights from early ISKCON cooks.
For the newcomer to Vaisnava cooking, these topics are concisely answered in an excellent BBT publication called The Higher Taste—A Guide to Gourmet Vegetarian Cooking and a Karma-Free Diet, available through ISKCON centers worldwide. Pick up a copy for good reading.
The standards you'll learn in this course will be be easy to put into gear, as I'll give more weight to attitude than to paraphernalia. Devotional cooking is not a mechanical process but a means of purifying the heart.
In subsequent issues we'll focus on chapters in the book such as Rice, Dals, Vegetables, Salads, and Beverages. We'll concentrate on ingredients, how and where to find them, technique, and easy-to-prepare recipes for workday meals. I encourage you to get The Best of Lord Krishna's Cuisine and explore a new culinary adventure this year. It will not only expand your taste horizon; it will likely change your life.
The classes will start in the next issue, but for now, here's a recipe for a simple pepper blend with a terrific flavor. Try it out for a week in place of plain black pepper.
½ tablespoon dried lemon peel
Simply mix the ingredients and while you're cooking grind them fresh from a pepper mill when the recipe calls for black pepper. The ingredients are available at gourmet and specialty food stores.
Yamuna Devi is the author of Lord Krishna's Cuisine: The Art of Indian Vegetarian Cooking and is a regular contributor to the Washington Post.
Service to the Cow
by Advaita Acarya Dasa
THE VEDAS DESCRIBE the cow as our mother (go-mata). Why? Because she gives the milk that nurtures and nourishes us from infancy to old age. When the cow is happy, satisfied, and well taken care of, she produces far more milk than her calf requires. We can use this milk for our dietary needs.
Srila Prabhupada writes, "Foods such as milk, milk products, sugar, rice, wheat, fruits, and vegetables are the foods that best aid health and increase life's duration." He calls milk "the most wonderful of all foods."
The ox plows the fields from which grains, fruits, and vegetables are produced. Therefore the cow and ox together provide human beings with the complete foods to satisfy all our nutritional needs.
In return for all the service the cow and ox provide, the Vedas prescribe three duties for human beings toward the cow:
1. Serving the cow (go-seva)
Serving the cow: We should serve the cow with the same attitude that the Supreme Personality of Godhead, Lord Sri Krsna, serves the cows in Vrndavana. The Srimad-Bhagavatam describes in detail how Lord Krsna takes the cows and calves every morning to graze on the pastures of Govardhana Hill. There are hundreds of thousands of cows at the palace of Nanda Maharaja (Lord Krsna's father), and each cow has her own name. Whenever Lord Krsna plays His flute and calls the cows by name, the cows, intelligent and affectionate, come running toward Him.
The Vedic literature enjoins us to satisfy the needs of the cows daily (with food, shelter, and so on) before we satisfy our own needs. This is how Aryans—civilized persons—should serve the cows.
Worshiping the cows: The Vedic scripture states that all the demigods and demigoddesses reside in the body of a cow. This explains why the body of a cow is divine and holy. If we worship Mother Cow, we attain the same material benefits we'd get by worshiping the demigods and demi-goddesses individually. The Garuda Purana says that anyone who has even once worshiped Mother Cow will be saved after death from the great suffering of hell (Naraka). Lord Krsna, the Supreme Personality of Godhead Himself, gave more importance to the worship of the cows than to the worship of the king of the demigods, Indra. Therefore in India even today many millions of pious Vedic followers worship Mother Cow at least once a year on Govardhana Puja day.
Protecting the cows: If we accept the cow as our mother, she deserves our veneration and love. And we should protect her from all dangers. In Vedic times it was the duty of everyone, especially kings, to protect the cows at all cost.
In the Vedic literature we find the revealing story of Emperor Dalip (an ancestor of Lord Ramacandra in the Sun Dynasty) and his commitment to cow protection. Once when Emperor Dalip was in the forest, he saw that a ferocious lion had gotten hold of a cow and was going to kill her. The emperor challenged the lion, "If you kill the cow, I will kill you. Let this cow go free!"
The lion replied, "O pious king! For my food I must kill animals. If I let this cow go free, what will I eat? I'll die of hunger."
Emperor Dalip thought for a few moments and replied, "O lion, if you let this cow go free, you do not have to die of hunger. I offer my body for you to eat! Let my body be your food!"
As soon as Emperor Dalip lay before the lion to be killed so that the cow could live, the lion and cow transformed themselves into a divine man and woman. The lion was Dharma, righteousness personified, and the cow was Mother Earth personified. They had been testing the emperor's commitment to cow protection.
How can we protect cows today? In the United States alone more than forty million cows will be slaughtered this year to satisfy the demands of meat-eaters. And all over the globe many millions more will be slaughtered for the same reason. Yet this should not discourage us from our goal of cow protection. Even today, when the effects of Kali Yuga (the Age of Ignorance) are so strong, intelligent people can take part in the auspicious act of cow protection in two ways:
1. Never eat cow flesh (never eat meat!) and thereby never support cow killing. Please also tell others about the sinfulness of cow slaughter.
2. Help ISKCON farm projects where active cow protection is being practiced under Srila Prabhupada's direct order. For example, the Adopt-A-Cow program at the Gita Nagari farm in Port Royal, Pennsylvania, provides you a direct opportunity to give financial and other help for the upkeep of about 150 cows.
The three basic duties of human beings toward the cow—service, worship, and protection—should and can be practiced today. The cow needs our love, affection, and reverence because, after all, she is our mother and she is so dear to the Supreme Personality of Godhead, Lord Krsna.
Advaita Acarya Dasa (Dr. Arvind K. Singh) was born in 1943 in a traditional Vaisnava family in Uttar Pradesh, India. Educated in India, he has served as an anesthesiologist in America since 1973. In 1980 he and his wife received spiritual initiation in ISKCON from Satsvarupa Dasa Goswami. Advaita Acarya Dasa started the Adopt-A-Cow program at the Gita Nagari farm in 1985. Now he is also a director of the ISKCON Foundation. He lives in Scranton, Pennsylvania. He and his wife have three sons.
The Little Man in the Brain
by Sadaputa Dasa
DURING A RECENT television show entitled "Inside Information," vision scientist V. S. Ramachandran of the University of California at San Diego made some interesting points about how we see. He said that if you ask the man in the street how vision works, he will say there is an image on the retina of the eye. The optic nerve faithfully transmits this image to a screen in the brain, in what we call the visual cortex. And that image is what you see.
Ramachandran pointed out that this explanation leads to a logical fallacy. If you create an image inside the head, then you need another person in the head—a little man in the brain—who looks at that image. Then you have to postulate an even smaller person inside his head to explain how he sees, and so on, ad infinitum. This is obvious nonsense, and Ramachandran said that inside the brain there really is no replica of the external world. Rather, there is an abstract, symbolic description of that world. Brain scientists are like cryptographers trying to crack the code the brain uses in perceiving its environment.
So how does perception work? Suppose you are looking at a car traveling down a street. You perceive the shape of the car, its color, and its motion all at once. You may realize at once that it's red, that it's a Volkswagen bug, and that it's slow enough and far enough away so you'll have time to cross the street in front of it.
Recent research in brain science shows that the brain houses three separate visual systems to see shape, color, and motion. All three systems use information coming down the optic nerves from the eyes, but the systems are distinct both anatomically and functionally. The systems are named after the complex anatomical pathways they occupy in the brain.
The parvo-interblob-pale-stripe system deals with color contrast along borders of objects, but not color per se. It responds to the shapes of objects, but says nothing about their colors. The blob-thin-stripe-V4 system determines colors and shades of gray, but it has low resolution for shapes. The magno-4B-thick-stripe-MT system tells about movement and depth, but it's colorblind and doesn't react to stationary images. (1) All three systems work together when you see the Volkswagen coming down the street.
To illustrate how such a visual system works, I've devised a simple example with computer logic. The figure above shows an "eye" consisting of a vertical plastic tube with ten photoelectric cells in a vertical row. The tube has room for one to ten small plastic balls. The photoelectric cells detect the balls. Each output wire from a photocell is "on" if a ball is present in front of the cell, and "off" if a ball is not present.
The ten wires from the cells form a kind of "optic nerve." This nerve divides into three branches leading to three processing systems.
The multiple-of-2 system tells whether the number of balls is odd or even. It works through logic gates, represented by the gray and black triangles. The wires going to the top of a triangle are its input wires, and the wire going down from the triangle's point is its output wire. A gray triangle represents a none-gate. Its output wire is on if none of its input wires are on, and otherwise it is off. A black triangle represents an all-gate. Its output wire is on if all its input wires are on, and not otherwise. The gates in the multiple-of-2 system are arranged so that the final output wire emerging from the bottom of the system is on if the number of balls is even, and off if the number is odd.
Similarly, the gates in the multiple-of-3 system are arranged so that the final output wire is on only if the number of balls is a multiple of 3 (i.e., 3, 6, or 9). In the multiple-of-5 system, the output wire is on only if the number of balls is a multiple of 5 (i.e., 5 or 10).
This network recognizes three distinct features of the number of balls.
It does this using three distinct subsystems of gates that operate in parallel, each subsystem using simple logical operations in response to binary information (represented by "on" and "off" or 1 and 0). These sub-systems resemble the brain's subsystems for recognizing the shape, color, and motion of an image. The brain's subsystems use distinct sets of neurons, which work with binary information. (When a neuron is stimulated, it either fires or it doesn't, with no response in between.)
Our example of a computer network gives some idea of how the brain can process information with which to respond to its environment. Data from the senses, encoded as patterns of nerve impulses, can travel to a wide variety of brain subsystems, where networks of neurons extract various kinds of information. This information can then be combined to yield further information, which in turn can be used to generate brain output.
But can this explain how we see? This view of the brain avoids an infinite regress of little men looking at screens in one another's heads. And it gives us an idea of how the brain can identify complex patterns and respond to them. But it tells us nothing about how we are aware of a Volkswagen coming down the street.
Look again at our computer network model. We could easily build this model out of electrical hardware, and we could hook up the output wires from the three subsystems to colored lights labeled 2, 3, and 5. Suppose we did this, put 6 balls in the tube, and saw lights 2 and 3 turn on, and the light 5 stay off. Would the electrical network be aware that 6 is a multiple of 2 and 3? Is there any reasonable basis for saying the network would be aware of anything?
The answer is no. We can fully understand what the network is doing. We can understand the flows of electrical current within its wires and the operation of its logic gates. But this understanding tells us nothing about whether or not the network is aware of anything. And if someone were to declare that the network actually is conscious of something, we would be at a loss to understand how or why that should be.
This is all well and good with electrical networks. Perhaps they are completely devoid of consciousness. But what about human brains? When I see a Volkswagen coming down the street, I'm having a conscious experience, and I know directly that this is so. I assume that since other people are similar to me, they too have real conscious experiences. Can we understand this phenomenon in terms of networks of neurons in the brain?
The answer seems to be no. Our electrical network could be built using neurons instead of wires. That network would recognize patterns the same way, and we would understand it the same way. The essence of the network lies in the pattern of its logic gates, not in the substance making up these gates. But this means we can't understand consciousness in neural networks any better than in electrical networks.
One might point out that there are more than 10 billion neurons in the cerebral cortex and only a few logic gates in our example. Couldn't it be that consciousness emerges from the interaction of billions of neurons? Perhaps, but how? With billions of logical units in a network, one can certainly handle patterns much more complex than simple columns of 1 to 10 balls. But this tells us nothing about consciousness.
One idea is that consciousness may arise at the level where the brain organizes information from separate systems, like those for shape, color, and motion, and integrates it into one unified gestalt. One problem with this proposal: Does such unification actually occur? To write down a lot of information you need many letters, and if you code the information in patterns of nerve impulses, you need a lot of neurons to store it. No matter how much you try to compress it by careful coding, it remains spread out and not truly unified. And if you mix together all the information in one spread-out region of the cerebral cortex, you have in effect re-created the screen in the original story of the little man in the brain.
The basic fallacy of the little man in the brain argument is that it assumes implicitly that consciousness can be understood in physical terms. One tries to explain consciousness by describing a machine that creates a certain display of information. Then one recognizes that the mere presence of displayed information fails to account for consciousness of that information. Then one proposes another mechanism to interpret the information and finally generate consciousness. When that attempt also fails, one takes refuge in the overwhelming complexity of the brain and says that a consciousness-producing mechanism must be hidden in there somewhere. All we have to do is find it.
One way to escape from the little man fallacy is to forget about consciousness and restrict our attention to the brain's data processing. But this leaves a crucial aspect of life permanently outside the domain of science.
Another way to escape the fallacy is to consider that consciousness just might be due to a nonphysical entity—dare we say a soul?—that reads the data displays of the brain just as we read the letters of a book.
Although this idea is anathema to scientists who insist that everything must obey known physical laws, it promises to greatly expand the frontiers of science. It could very well be true. And to realize its potential for enriching our scientific understanding, all we have to do is seriously consider it.
1. Margaret S. Livingstone, "Art, Illusion and the Visual System," Scientific American, January 1988, pages 78-85.
Sadaputa Dasa (Richard L. Thompson) earned his Ph.D. in mathematics from Cornell University. He is the author of several books, of which the most recent is Vedic Cosmography and Astronomy.
Kick Out Darwin
by Urmila Devi Dasi
The Doctrine Of Evolution is difficult to hide from. It is so pervasive in textbooks of science, geography, history, and literature that the reader, numbed by repetition, hardly notices the constant drone.
Our children need help to remain awake to spiritual life amidst this sleepy cloud of propaganda. We need to teach them the truth. And we need to show them, clearly and specifically, how evolutionists are lying.
Does it really matter? Is it important for our children to know the origin of life and the universe? Perhaps they can be clear about spiritual life without bothering to think about Darwin one way or the other.
But can they? In most standard modern versions, evolution links tightly with the outlook that all order, law, and life come about by chance. But spiritual life means connecting with the Supreme Spirit, Krsna, who is a person directing the cosmos and giving the seed of life.
Also inherent in most of today's evolutionary views is the notion that life is a complicated organization of matter. But spiritual life begins when one understands that the self, the essential living being, is irreducibly spirit, always distinct from matter.
Therefore, we need to teach the truth. The order and law of this world are everywhere. For young children, we give simple analogies. "See the white line in the middle of the street?" We show them. "That means there is a government. I may not see the mayor or the governor or the president, but this line is proof that they exist. In the same way, the cycle of seasons and the intricate design of a plant are proofs of an intelligent creator."
Materialistic evolutionists scoff at proving God by design. What of injustice and suffering, they ask? Did God design these?
"Yes," we tell our children, "just as the government—made up of people—has designed the prison and court system."
The problems posed by the materialists become an indication of God when resolved by explanations of karma and reincarnation.
In such ways, whether informally as opportunities arise or as part of a planned curriculum of science and social studies, we can teach young children to see Krsna in His creation.
We also need to teach the difference between life and matter.
The love of a cat for her kittens, the urge for survival that sends the ant over what to him is a hundred miles for a grain of sugar—these are constant signs that life is other than matter. The inability of a machine, even a computer, to become aware of its own existence tells the child that consciousness does not arise from a complex combination of matter. Rather, just as I, a conscious being, operate a computer, so I operate this body. My computer will never write this article by itself.
Srila Prabhupada's books brim with evidence for God and the soul. Daily in-depth study of his books will awaken children's true vision. They will see that behind the veil of maya is the face of the Supreme Lord.
We need to protect our impressionable and vulnerable children from the evolutionists' propaganda machine. Films, television programs, textbooks, and science museums often conform to evolutionary doctrine unquestioningly. Exposure to these, especially frequent exposure, may draw the blind of darkness over the window of our children's knowledge.
But how can we combat the evolutionists' propaganda? When the child matures in the realm of intellectual and reasoning ability, we must systematically attack the unsound premises of evolution while giving evidence for the existence of Krsna and the soul.
Our first argument is that the bodily machine of even the simplest life form cannot arise from a chance combination of matter, any more than an explosion in a printing shop could bring into existence a dictionary or the works of Shakespeare.
Second, even if somehow the external body of a living being could spring forth from random material processes, the body cannot work without the soul. An airplane is built by intelligent people, not by a tornado in a junk yard. But however an airplane is built, it needs a pilot. Otherwise, it can sit on the runway for thousands of years without flying. Despite a machine's complex technology, it still needs a living being to push the buttons.
In this way, we can explain that the symptoms exhibited by living beings—from the plant to the ant to human beings—indicate the presence of a "driver," the soul. And as soon as this driver leaves, the body dies and decays.
Evolutionists say that life came originally from matter and that all species have gradually developed from the first life form. Practically speaking, that's what evolutionists must say. Why? Because they'd never convince us that advanced life forms arose from matter. We'd never believe that giraffes appeared suddenly from a pond. Evolutionists would be a laughing stock if they asserted that each species developed independently in its present form from chance molecular collisions.
Yet how strong is the evidence for gradual evolution?At the chemical level, we can point out that scientists have failed to show how matter could by chance alone pull together even one protein needed for life. Going further down the supposed evolutionary line, we can show our children that crucial evidence for evolution is lacking in the fossil record, that mutations are generally harmful and do not change one species into another, and that intermediate forms of organs would be nonfunctional and therefore hinder rather than enhance the survival of their owner. We can give specific examples from the evolutionists' bag of so-called proofs and show how they are irrelevant or distorted.
Finally, it's helpful to expose children to mysteries scientists can't explain. We can study well-documented instances of psychic ability and out-of-body experiences that support the conclusion that the mind is more than the brain. While we don't rely on such empirical evidence or put full faith in what is sometimes sensationalism, a carefully chosen study of the most solid evidence can help a child know that many of the inexplicable occurrences described in the Vedas are still happening today.
For most of us, to refute evolutionist propaganda entirely from our own understanding and knowledge would be difficult. So I suggest some books and videos that can help structure an educational program, whether at home or at school. There are certainly many other useful resources, and I would be glad to hear of other suggestions. As Srila Prabhupada told us, "The more we kick out Darwin, the more we advance in spiritual consciousness."
The following are books and videos I suggest for students at least thirteen years old. (Younger children may be able to grasp at least the basic ideas.) The materials not produced by ISKCON are quite valuable. They may not present a complete view of the soul and God, but they do a good job of dismantling evolution and establishing theism, at least in a general way. Please keep in mind, of course, that they may put forth some minor points with which we disagree.
Life Comes from Life, Srila Prabhupada (Bhaktivedanta Book Trust, 3764 Watseka Ave., Los Angeles, CA 90034).
Human Evolution, video, Sadaputa Dasa (Bhaktivedanta Institute, P.O. Box 99584, San Diego, CA 92169).
Darwin's Secret Identity, David Webb (Available from Krishna Culture, P.O. Box 12380, Philadelphia, PA 19119).
"Mysteries of the Unexplained," Reader's Digest, 1982. Often available through bookstores, it probes into such diverse topics as bizarre coincidence, unusual rain (frogs, nuts), inexplicable astronomical occurences, UFOs, psychic ability, spontaneous human combustion, miracles, monsters, and evidence for advanced ancient civilizations (including a reference to the Vedic brahmastra weapon). Each section includes only well-documented cases. The official scientific explanation is offered and then placed into doubt.
The following are available from Master Books, Creation Resource, P.O. Box 1606, El Cajon, CA 92022; (800) 999-3777:
Understanding Genesis, Unit One: Creation: Facts and Bias, video, Ken Ham. This is excellent for preachers. Showing how our assumptions affect what we see, it throws doubt on the supposed authority of science. Some slight sectarian references.
Origins: Creation or Evolution, Richard Bliss. Simple and clear, this is the best general textbook I know of. It contains some slight references to a young Earth. No sectarian religious content.
Origin of Life: Evolution/Creation, Richard Bliss and Gary Parker. This only covers whether or not life could have first arisen spontaneously from matter. Easy to understand. Slightly nods to the idea that life is simply a complex organization of matter. No sectarian religious content.
Understanding Genesis, Unit Four: What's Wrong With Evolution, video, Gary Parker. Shows that one species cannot evolve into another. Some slight sectarian references.
Back to Genesis: Is Life Just Chemistry?, video, Michael Girouard. Explains why life cannot originate by chance from matter. Deals with Stanley Miller's experiment and various aspects of initial creation. Some slight sectarian references.
Urmila Devi Dasi became a disciple of Srila Prabhupada in 1973. She has been involved in ISKCON education for the last seven years, primarily as the principal of the Detroit gurukula. She recently moved with her husband and their three children to the ISKCON community in Hillsborough, North Carolina, where she is working to establish a model of spiritual education.
The Origins of Cow-Killing Economics
by Hare Krsna Devi Dasi
The Bhagavad-gita specifically instructs us, krsi-go-raksya: we human beings must protect the cow, our milk-giving mother. Go-raksya—"protect the cow." Not go-hatya—"kill the cow." This is most sinful.
AS I DISCUSSED in my last column, Lord Krsna says in the Bhagavad-gita that the activities of the productive class of society should be krsi-go-raksya-vanijyam: agriculture, cow protection, and trade. Agriculture gives us grains. Cow protection gives us milk and the oxen to produce the grains. And trade, which comes about naturally when there's surplus production, benefits the farmer and the rest of society.
Grains and cows are an important basis of wealth, not only in the spiritual culture advocated by Lord Krsna but also in modern materialistic economics. The crucial difference is that the center of the spiritual economic system is cow protection, and the center of the materialistic system is cow killing.
In this series, we'll examine how cow killing became an important part of the modern economic system. As this brief history unfolds, note how slaughtering the cow, pushing the ox out of work, and stoking up production for centralized marketing and money-grabbing have led us to the present precarious state of affairs.
As we drive down the road and see many prosperous hamburger chains, we may take it for granted that cow slaughter has always been a basic feature of civilizations outside India. But that is not the case. The ancient Egyptians prohibited cow slaughter. The Hebrews, among others, restricted it to religious sacrifices. Still today, the pastoral peoples of East Africa slaughter cattle only during rituals and ceremonies. And in modern communist China, even Mao Zedong himself observed, "Draft oxen are a treasure to the peasants. As it is practically a religious tenet that 'Those who slaughter cattle in this life will themselves become cattle in the next,' draft oxen must never be killed."
One might ask how an avowed atheistic leader such as Mao Zedong could have allowed himself to support a religious belief against killing oxen? Anthropologist Marvin Harris suggests that religious and ritual restrictions on cow slaughter and eating of cow flesh were not irrational laws but important tools for the welfare of society. The draft power or milk of the animal was too valuable to lose. And wasting pasture to feed many cows for slaughter would eventually have brought starvation.
Then why has cow slaughter become so prominent over the last few centuries? Let's begin in Europe in the late Middle Ages. That's when the draft horse began to push the ox out of agriculture. Even though horses needed costly grain, they could plow much faster than oxen. "They were able to increase greatly the amount of food that one farmer could raise, which meant that more men were freed to pursue the arts and crafts," observed agricultural historians Vernon Carter and Tom Dale. So people started shifting to the towns, and oxen started heading for slaughter.
In the 1700's, the industrial revolution speeded up cow slaughter. New farming machines and new crops such as clover and turnips made cows easier to raise for meat. And technological advances increased the output and efficiency of slaughterhouses. So producers could supply meat more cheaply.
Factory life forced people to change what they ate. Unlike the farmer, the factory worker couldn't go home to a lunch of lentil stew or porridge. Bread and meat were more convenient. So the factory worker's food preference changed to meat, and because his income was increasing, he could afford it.
In The Industrial Revolution, Frederick Dietz writes, "Since meat was coming to be more valuable than powers of draft in an ox," traditional breeds that provided milk and draft power tended to be "replaced by such new breeds of cattle as the Durham shorthorns, the Herefords, and the Devons." So the industrial revolution bred beef cattle.
But it was across the ocean in the newly developing American nation that raising cows for meat would become a big way to gain wealth. This is somewhat ironic because in America until about 1840, when draft horses became more widespread, oxen were the main source of agricultural traction. A team of oxen could be bought for one sixth the price of a team of horses, oxen could do the same work for less expense in feed, and oxen were resistant to disease. Ben Franklin noted, "The farmers are more thriving in those parts of the country where cattle are used than in those where the labour is done by horses. The latter are said to require twice the quantity of food to maintain them."
Yet two factors made it possible and even profitable to raise cattle for slaughter. The first was the Native American crop maize—or corn—which gave much higher yields than European grains. The second was that by taking land from the Native Americans, European immigrants could create much larger farms than in Europe.
Since the Native Americans had never farmed with draft animals, most of their land had never been used for anything more than hunting and gathering. The new American farmers were able to take hold of large plots of this fertile land, so with oxen the farmers could reap tons of grain more than they needed for their own subsistence.
The farmers, of course, wanted to make money from the grain, but shipping it to market was difficult. Roads were poor, and carts were scarce, especially during the American Revolutionary War, when they were absorbed by the military. Smithsonian agricultural historian John Schlebecker relates the farmers' unenlightened solution: "Corn-fed cattle and hogs which transported themselves provided one important way of moving the corn crop to market. The grain otherwise had to be transported by cart and wagon."
North American farmers also developed vital economic relations with the slave-powered sugar plantations of the West Indies. European plantation owners preferred to plant all their West Indian acreage in sugar, sell it at high prices, and import whatever else they needed for food. "Corn, wheat, flour and bread from North America always found a ready market in the West Indies. The West Indians also bought large quantities of dried and salted meats." Thus krsi-go-hatya, farming and cow killing, began to assume an important place in American economic development.
Neglecting to follow Krsna's instructions to base the economy on agriculture, cow protection, and trade has led to disastrous results. The role of the ox in Krsna's system is crucial. The ox's limited productivity works against the growth of a centralized, impersonal, exploitive economy and keeps society based in the country, where the simple life favors spiritual advancement. The more society strays from Krsna's plan, the more suffering increases. In my next column, I'll discuss how the mechanization of agriculture multiplied the misery.
Hare Krsna Devi Dasi has been involved in Krsna consciousness since 1978. She spent several years on ISKCON's Gita Nagari farm in Pennsylvania. She now lives in Maine, where you can write to her c/o The Ox Power Alternative Energy Club, 9B Stetson St., Brunswick, ME 04011.
A true story by Ravindra Svarupa Dasa
Part I: The Prophecy
DASHING ALONG in a lurching little car, we were on our way to see Panditji when Delhi suddenly went dark. Our headlight beams, slewing and bouncing, threw up rapid-fire scenes of blacked-out apartment blocks, empty eroded lots, and here and there clusters of human faces, radiant in the darkness like petals on damp soil.
"This will make us late," remarked Maharaja unnecessarily.
"Panditji should know that," I said. Panditji was reputed not only to be a brilliant astrologer but a seer as well. Local devotees had begun to consult him regularly.
"Well, he has just got a new mantra, and his accuracy has much improved," said our native guide and driver, peering intently into the blackness into which we were hurtling. "At first when I was going, you could be completely confident on Fridays only. But slowly, slowly, he has gotten better."
"With each new mantra," Maharaja said.
"It is quite astonishing, really. Now in March Panditji will be receiving his final mantra. Then he will be completely accurate."
Tacking smartly over the gullied and potholed paving, our guide wound us deeper and deeper into a vast maze of apartment blocks.
"It would be nice if Panditji were right about ISKCON," I said. The report was that Panditji was predicting that ISKCON would save the whole world.
"Oh, yes. He's so positive about ISKCON," said our guide. "And now he is becoming a devotee himself."
"Because of what he foresees," said Maharaja.
"That and good association. He was a pure sakta—Laksmi and Durga only were there—but now you will see Krsna on his walls."
"From sakta to bhakta," said Maharaja.
The car swerved and slammed to a stop. The road ahead was packed solid with people. Somewhere within the throng wailed raucous band music, all trombones and clarinets.
"A wedding," said our guide. "But from here we can go by foot."
Leaving the car, we squeezed into the milling, roaring crowd. Hissing kerosene lamps of terrific incandescence swayed here and there above the crush, borne on the heads of boys in red livery. From the lamps, long sharp shards of garish light drove deep into the tumult of moving shadows and boiling dust. Through that we pushed and groped our way.
Suddenly the music engulfed us, and we were forced to dodge marching rows of energetically blowing bandsmen. Lines of red, wet faces bobbled by, veins bulging, cheeks ballooning, eyes popping. The musicians were encased in extraordinary, comic-opera uniforms: no two alike, all weighed down with rococo exuberance of silver and gold, and all of them unspeakably soiled and spotted—picked up, it seemed, at some rummage sale of uniforms of deposed tropical dictators.
No less zany were the instruments. Mutant trombones sported valves of trumpets, or two slides, or slides that took off at various angles. Trumpets and baritones blossomed with multiple bells. Woodwinds coiled, curled, bulged, and bent in ways I'd never seen before. My ears and mind boggled at the deafening music—an uncanny, impossible blend of Indian ragas and Dixieland jazz.
We rounded a street corner and were released at last into the silence and the space of a broad and barren square, walled in by high apartment blocks. We made our way past a jostling queue of women and children eager to thrust plastic buckets under a gushing standpipe. And then for a long time we were ascending narrow outdoor steps, switching back repeatedly, our shoulders brushing the high cement wall that enclosed us, until we stood upon a rooftop under the Delhi night sky, where the last russet of twilight was sliding under the western horizon. Here a woman with a flashlight led us to a small, windowless, bunkerlike structure. She said we were to wait inside for Panditji. We filed in through a low door.
Just inside, at the door's left, a magnificent brass image of Laksmi Devi glowed softly in the light of ghee lamps tiered below her polished teak throne. The flames flickered in the wake of our passage. Flanking the altar, covering a low table and the floor before it, were a vast number of identical brass pots, each anointed on the belly with scarlet swastikas, crowned with an array of mango leaves around a cloth-bound coconut, and hung with garlands of marigolds, now dried up.
We sat at the other end of the room, on cushions before Panditji's low wooden desk. Thick books stuffed a case against the wall to our right, and the overflow, in precarious piles, took the floor on both sides of the desk. On the wall facing us geometrical yantras of Laksmi and Durga, etched on sheets of burnished copper, burned within the shadows; color prints of Laksmi, Durga, and Kali further displayed Panditji's devotion to the goddess. But, reassuringly, Krsna's picture commanded pride of place above Laksmi's altar, and Surya-Narayana flamed among the yantras.
"Interesting vibes," Maharaja was just noting softly, when Panditji entered. He was younger than I had imagined, and startlingly nondescript in appearance. You thought of a clerk or bank teller.
After introductions, Maharaja handed Panditji his chart, a computer printout. Working methodically, Panditji positioned on his desk a tall candle with trapezoidal sides that yielded a long and bright flame; then he carefully copied Maharaja's chart onto a page of a large ledger book and returned the printout. Silently, without expression, holding very still, he considered the chart for some time. Then he thumped the page hard with his pencil point, and looking up at Maharaja, said with great animation: "This is your last birth."
Talking rapidly and gesturing broadly with his arms, Panditji expounded upon the chart. Occasionally he would snatch off his gray wool cap, palpitate it vigorously with his fingers, and then suddenly slam it back onto his head. He would fling both arms out completely to emphasize a point.
As Panditji spoke, the candle on the desk cast his shadow, greatly enlarged, upon the walls and ceiling, so that his sweeping gestures danced all around us, embracing us, enclosing us in around the candlelight, the book, and the seer.
Maharaja entered into a long technical discussion with Panditji I could not follow. Toward the end, Panditji qualified his initial statement somewhat: An upcoming period presented a slight danger that Maharaja could end up in the heavenly planets, but if all went well, he would be liberated. In any case, he was not returning to this planet. Panditji wound up with some sound practical advice.
Changing the subject, Maharaja mentioned to Panditji that I was leaving for Calcutta tomorrow to attend ISKCON's annual Governing Body Commission meetings, soon to begin in Mayapur. Panditji began to extol ISKCON.
"It will not be possible to overestimate the importance of your movement for the world."
"How will this year's meeting go?" I asked, pulling back from the grandiose.
"Oh, very well, very, very well," Panditji said, his face bright and eyes shining. "Nineteen-ninety will be a very important year for the world, and most especially for ISKCON." Speaking swiftly and surely, he entered into an intricate numerological analysis of "1990."
Falling under the spell of Panditji's prophetic utterances, I became conscious of the cosmic spaces hanging above us, of the turning of the starry wheel of time. Through the door open to the night I could hear the music of the wedding band—raga in ragtime—getting steadily louder now: a procession was headed our way. I watched the seer's shadow dance across the ceiling and walls, and thought, "This is too much." I picture the words in red ink on a manuscript margin. I would have cut it. The blackout, the crazy band, the theatrical shadows. The effects were heavy-handed—and derivative as well: The band was straight out of Fellini, and the shadows, of course, from Disney's "Sorcerer's Apprentice." However, I was aware that I wasn't writing this script, and I wondered whether I was in a position to criticize whoever was.
Panditji continued, speaking with great assurance: "And this meeting—now at the start of 1990—it will be the turning point of ISKCON. The meeting will be very cordial." He paused, almost visibly gathering power. "In fact, at this meeting the dharma-cakra of ISKCON will be assembled and put into motion."
"Dharma-cakra?" I asked. The wheel of truth or righteousness, the dharma-cakra was generally known as the Buddhist symbol for the all-pervading power of true religion. How was Panditji using it?
He explained: Cakra means wheel, and a wheel rotates smoothly and can travel everywhere when all its spokes are strong and properly aligned. Until now, Panditji said—comparing the individual GBC members to the spokes of the ISKCON dharma-cakra—the members of the GBC have not been properly aligned. Individual members have put their own zones or concerns or conceptions before the interest of the whole. Therefore there has not been proper cooperation and harmony. The spokes have been misaligned. But at this meeting, he said, it will be properly assembled.
"The meeting will be cordial, and differences will be overcome," he said. "And then after that, ISKCON will become very, very powerful." He paused a beat and added: "And I think the day it will be accomplished is March 7."
"On that exact day?" I said.
"Yes. That day...it will be accomplished."
"But I think the meetings are over with on the third or fourth," I said.
"Perhaps it doesn't have to happen at the meetings," Maharaja suggested.
"Or sometimes the meetings run extra days," I said.
"In any case," Panditji said, "I think that is the day."
I was puzzled. Panditji had described a process, the assembling of the dharma-cakra, and at the same time given a single date for its "accomplishment." What was meant by "accomplishment"?
I turned this over in my mind while Maharaja and our guide pursued prophecy with Panditji. They discussed some prognostications of great wars, apparently from Nostradamus. Panditji said that no great cities would be destroyed by war, but that some huge geological cataclysm, substantially altering the earth's geography, was in the offing. The conversation turned again to Maharaja's chart and wound down to astrological technicalities.
Panditji led us down the narrow steps by flashlight. The city was still in blackout, but now it was calm and silent. The street of the wedding party was deserted, and a huge, bunting-hung pavilion on one side stood empty and abandoned, all revelers having retired to rest.
Later, back in our room, Maharaja looked up March 7 on his Vaisnava calendar.
"Well, that's one thing," he said. "It's Ekadasi."
Next issue—Part II: The Prophecy Fulfilled
Ravindra Svarupa Dasa, ISKCON's Governing Body Commissioner for the U.S. mid-Atlantic region, lives at the Philadelphia temple, where he joined ISKCON in 1971. He holds a Ph.D. in religion from Temple University.
Meeting "Mr. Sex-Is-Great"
by Bhakta Vic 108
THE CROWD TONIGHT is volatile like nitro. Intense polarization: ninety percent of the kids are totally into Shelter [The popular straightedge band Vic was part of before recently forming his new band, 108], heart and soul. The rest, dead set against us. The mixture explodes as our music blares. Kids running and jumping around, urgently singing along.
At song's abrupt end, silence envelops the hall. Ears perk to receive Krsna consciousness. Taking advantage of the quiet, those opposed launch a shower of protests, the first attack their spearhead slogan—"Sex is great!"—followed by anthems of sex glorification and a flurry of praise for masturbation.
A few sharp words from Raghunatha slice their offensive to pieces. The power chords of our next song finish them off. The show ends. Pulling a book bag full of 'zines over my shoulder, I move into the crowd. Guess who I run into...yeah, Mr. Sex-Is-Great himself. Not unexpectedly, whatever he has to say is pretty crude. I shrug off his remarks with a "Yeah, yeah, sure, sure" and walk away.
The next thing I know, his eyes are inches from my face, and he's shouting and pointing fingers of accusation. I out-shout him, arrogant enough myself, then draw him into a quieter corner, hoping to transform wrath into discussion.
After letting him blow off verbal steam for close to ten minutes, I interrupt: "Hey listen. In two sentences or less, what's your point?"
"I just think it's so stupid that you guys are against sex! Sex is beautiful! Sex is totally natural."
"We're not against sex."
Pause. Let it sink in.
"Sex is natural. You're right. And sex naturally results in a baby. Latex condoms don't grow on trees. Sex that's dependent on all that stuff is obviously unnatural. But sex can be natural and beautiful and all that mushy poetic stuff, if it's followed through to its natural conclusion. Otherwise it's nothing more than mutual exploitation, thinly masked by a ridiculously transparent costume of lovey-dove-dove."
With gestures comically reminiscent of a college professor, he asks, "Sex only for procreation?"
"Yeah, but not that any John and Sally can hop into the sack and have some kid they kick out onto the street. That's not natural either. They have to be committed and qualified to raise the kid, giving him or her every opportunity for a full life enriched with self-realization. Then, like you say, sex is beautiful."
"Do you have sex?"
That ignites him: "No way! No possible way! I don't believe you for a second. You'll go crazy. You've got to have sex!"
Shades of the old "you'll die if you don't eat meat" argument. "You don't go crazy without sex," I tell him. "You go crazy with it. Here you are with some overwhelming, consuming compulsion which is never fully satisfied but instead burns more fiercely every time you go at it. Now that's enough to drive anyone crazy. And that's exactly what sex..."
"Look," he interrupts, "I'm studying to be a sex therapist..."
"So then you know firsthand all the crazy problems surrounding sex."
"People just need to open up." The standard textbook dogma. "People are so afraid of sex. That's why they have so many problems."
"Come on! You really believe that trash? There's no proof that anyone, anywhere, at any time, has ever had a life of deep fulfillment and satisfaction by opening up to sex. In fact, just the opposite. As people get more and more into sex, the world just gets proportionately hotter. Depression, violence, crime—how often are they all bound up with your just-get-into-it sex? Doesn't say a whole lot for your so-called sexual revolution, does it?"
Nothing. He just stares at his shoes. Then something clicks and his eyes light up. "I have sex, and I'm happy!"
The utter predictability almost hurts. "The truth is you're accepting a pitifully temporary high. If you're really so satisfied, why are you always so damn bored, looking for something to do? Only a hungry man goes in search of a meal. A person who's already satisfied has no need."
His strong frame shakes with disapproval. "No! No! You don't understand! You can't repress the sex drive!"
"Stand still for a second," I say, waiting for him to calm down. "I agree with you. You can't shut off or stifle the sex drive, because it originally comes from the deepest recesses of the self."
"Right," he graciously confirms.
"The strongest and most primal urge of the soul," I explain, "is called bhakti. When this drive tries to find expression through the body, it gets perverted into the sex drive."
"Sex is not perverted!" he explodes."Cool it. I don't mean 'perverted' like some weirdo flasher in the park. Maybe 'distorted' is a better word. Anyway, the sex drive is a garbled expression of our deepest primal urge for pure devotion.
"A devotee," I continue, "is not some stuffy character with a stiff upper lip and self-crucifying Victorian ideals. Myself, I want the most pleasure. I want to satisfy the sex drive to the maximum possible extent, at the fountainhead, in sex's most primal and unbridled form—the urge for pure devotion. This is the only way the sex drive will ever really make you happy. That's the only way to satisfy sex desire."
"So you don't have sex?"
I can just about see my words floating out his other ear. "No. I don't."
"Let me ask you a question. Do you masturbate?"
"Impossible! You gotta..."
"Look, this is the last time I'm gonna try to communicate with you, so listen close. I couldn't care less about masturbation. Or any kind of sex. What's so fantastic about it? Cockroaches do it. Worms do it. I want something more out of life than worm pleasure. And because I'm actually getting that higher pleasure by stimulating my Krsna consciousness—the most intense, urgent, and pure desire—I couldn't care less about your sexology and your crazy masturbation theories.
"Sex is like a mosquito bite. You'll never satisfy it by scratching. I don't care if you're up to your ears in sex—you'll never be satisfied. The only way you can really fulfill and express the pure sex desire and bring the highest pleasure into your life is to develop love for Krsna. That's all I have to say."
I walk away from a man who continues to shout the glories of sex. Wasted time? Well, he sure didn't hear a word. But I know I did. And I hope you did too.
Bhakta Vic 108 joined the Hare Krsna movement about a year and a half ago. He and his new band—108—are based at the Washington, D.C., temple.
Bhakti-yoga at Home
Touch It to Your Head
By Rohininandana Dasa
IN VEDIC CULTURE, one shows respect to an object by touching it to one's head. When Srila Prabhupada was a child, his mother taught him to pick up and touch to his head any grains of rice that might have fallen from his plate. I teach this same practice to my children. The lesson I'm trying to teach them goes deeper than the concept of "waste not, want not" my own father taught me. And it goes deeper than the idea of saving the earth's resources. I'm teaching my children that the grain of rice should be respected because it was given by God. In fact, it is a part of God.
The grain of rice is, of course, produced from the earth. In Sanskrit, the earth is known as Bhumi, derived from bhu, which means "becoming," "being," "existing," or "produced." Bhumi is therefore known as Mother Earth because she enables us to exist materially by providing our bodies and the food that nourishes them.
Our father is Lord Krsna—spiritually because our existence as spiritual beings depends upon Him, and materially because He injects us as seeds into the womb of Mother Earth, who produces the life forms we souls inhabit. A grain of rice, the product of one life form (the rice plant), is a result of the energies of Father Krsna and Mother Earth and so represents them.
The Vedanta-sutra states, sakti saktimatayor abhedah: "The energy and the energetic are nondifferent." In other words, the cause of a thing is present in that thing. So a rice grain is nondifferent from Krsna because it is one of His energies.
How special one grain of rice is! By touching it to our heads in the right consciousness, we're touching Krsna.
We can honor Krsna through His energy in many ways. For example, we can respect Krsna by turning off an electrical appliance as we leave a room. We can resolve, "Krsna has kindly provided so much. Let me accept my quota only—what I need to live—and let me not misuse one particle of His energy."
Srila Prabhupada taught by example how to conserve Krsna's energy. On a morning walk, he once went into a neighbor's garden to turn off a dripping tap. Another time, although ill he got up from his bed to turn off a fan running unnecessarily in an adjoining room.
Srila Prabhupada criticized the wastefulness of his Western disciples.
"This is your custom," he once said. "Simply wasting. If you have some extra cloth, you cannot fold it. You cut it off and throw it away. Whatever goes wrong, you solve it with money, and it appears good. You make some accident, and you cover it quickly with money. It is not that you are very capable, but with money you cover your deficiencies."
While cautiously using Krsna's energy in His service, we must especially be concerned with our use of the energy of time. Krsna says, "Time I am." The greatest deficiency is to waste time. Once a moment has passed, all the money in the world cannot buy it back. When we try to dedicate every moment to Krsna's service, we'll get a sense of the eternal world, where time is never wasted.
As Krsna says in the Bhagavad-gita, Krsna consciousness, or yoga, is "the art of living" (yoga karmasu kausalam). By remembering Krsna when we turn off a light or a tap, when we recycle paper or glass or reuse an envelope, or when we work to reduce our necessities, we'll not only act more harmoniously with the earth, but we'll also make spiritual advancement and prepare ourselves to go back home, back to Godhead.
Rohininandana Dasa lives in southern England with his wife and their three children. Please write to him at Woodgate Cottage, Beckley Nr. Rye, E. Sussex TN31 6UH, U. K.
Seeing His devotee's desire to
by Padma Nabha Goswami
WHEN Sri Caitanya Mahaprabhu visited South India on His tour of the holy places, He visited the Sri Rangam Temple. In front of the Deity He chanted and danced in ecstatic sankirtana. The head priest of the Sri Rangam Temple, Sri Vyenkata Bhatta, was very much impressed with Sri Mahaprabhu's love of God.
After Mahaprabhu's kirtana, Vyenkata Bhatta invited Him to his house. There he requested Mahaprabhu to stay during the four months of Caturmasya, which was soon to start. Mahaprabhu, as a sannyasi, accepted his request.
Vyenkata Bhatta directed his son, Gopala Bhatta, to render all services to Mahaprabhu during this period, and Gopala Bhatta with great sincerity took care of Sri Mahaprabhu's every need. As a result he received great benefit by Mahaprabhu's association. Being pleased with Gopala Bhatta's devotional affection, Mahaprabhu gave him initiation and ordered him that after the disappearance (death) of his parents he should go to Vrndavana to live there, performing bhajana, devotional service, and writing books.
At the age of thirty, after his parents disappeared, Gopala Bhatta went to Vrndavana. When he reached there, he heard that Mahaprabhu had already visited Vrndavana and had returned to Puri. Hearing this, Gopala Bhatta was disappointed, thinking that Mahaprabhu had never ordered him to visit Him in Puri. Mahaprabhu, however, through Rupa Gosvami and Sanatana Gosvami, sent Gopala Bhatta His personal asana (seat) and cloth as signs of His blessings.
Later, when Gopala Bhatta heard of the disappearance of Mahaprabhu, he felt great separation from the Lord. But in a dream Mahaprabhu instructed him, "If you want My darsana, if you want to see Me, make a pilgrimage to Nepal."
In Nepal, Gopala Bhatta visited the Gandak River and took his bath there. After his bath, he filled his waterpot, but was surprised to see that some salagrama-silas had entered it. He emptied them back into the river and refilled his water pot, but again he saw that some salagrama-silas had entered his water. pot. He emptied his waterpot one more time, and upon filling it a third time, he saw that now twelve salagrama-silas were there. Thinking that this must be some mercy of the Lord, he decided to bring all the salagrama-silas to Vrndavana.
Gopala Bhatta gave initiation to Gopinatha Dasa, a brahmacari who lived with him and rendered him all services.
One day a wealthy man came to Vrndavana and offered Gopala Bhatta all kinds of dresses and ornaments for his salagramas. Gopala Bhatta, however, told him to give them to somebody else, since his salagramas were of a round shape and therefore the dresses and ornaments could not be used.
This incident made Gopala Bhatta think deeply. It was Nrsimha Caturdasi, the appearance day of Lord Nrsimhadeva, and Gopala Bhatta remembered how Lord Nrsimha, in His form as half-lion, half-man, had come out of a pillar. Gopala Bhatta prayed to the Lord, "O Lord, You are very merciful. You fulfill all the desires of Your devotees. I wish to serve You in Your full form." He read the pastimes of Lord Nrsimhadeva in the Srimad-Bhagavatm, and after chanting in ecstasy he fell unconscious. The next morning he awoke to find that one of the twelve salagramas, the Damodara sila, had manifested as Sri Radha Ramana. He informed Sanatana Gosvami and Rupa Gosvami.
Gopala Bhatta started serving Sri Radha-Ramanaji. After some years, however, he became concerned: after his disappearance, who would continue the service of Sri Radha-Ramana? He asked Gopinatha Dasa, his brahmacari disciple, to get married and take the service of Sri Radha-Ramana as a hereditary duty. Gopinatha Dasa did not want to marry but suggested his younger brother, who was married. Gopala Bhatta agreed and initiated him.
After the disappearance of Sri Gopala Bhatta Gosvami, this disciple, known as Damodara Dasa Goswami, continued the worship of Sri Radha- Ramanaji. Since then the Goswami families descended from Damodara Dasa Goswami and, spiritually, from Gopala Bhatta Gosvami have continued the worship of Sri Radha-Ramana very nicely in Vrndavana to this very day.
Before preaching in the West, Srila Prabhupada, the Founder-Acarya of ISKCON, was for many years a close friend of Sri Vishwambhar Goswami, an acarya in the line of Gopala Bhatta Gosvami. Srila Prabhupada advised his devotees to learn the high standard of Deity worship and Vaisnava etiquette from the Sri Radha-Ramana Temple. Many times Srila Prabhupada visited the Sri Radha-Ramana Temple and was very much impressed.
Padma Nabha Goswami, son of Sri Vishwambhar Goswami, is one of the present leaders of the Radha-Ramana Temple.
A newly chartered foundation will help ISKCON fulfill the mission of Lord Krsna.
by Drutakarma Dasa
FOR SOME PEOPLE, a foundation is simply a good way to keep the government tax agents from taking away a personal fortune. Others see foundations as an excellent way to promote an idea. These days thousands of foundations promote a variety of ideas, ranging from animal rights to human rights. But now there's a new foundation on the scene—the only one dedicated to propagating the idea of Krsna consciousness. It is called the ISKCON Foundation, chartered last year in California.
"In a perfect world ideas could be born, nourished, developed, made known to everyone, criticized and perfected, and put to good use, without the crude fact of financial support ever entering into the process. Seldom, if ever, in the practical world in which we live, does this occur. The influence of money on ideas can be powerful." So said Warren Weaver, an official of the Rockefeller Foundation, in 1967.
And it is true that foundations such as the Rockefeller Foundation have been instrumental in propagating certain ideas in human society. The Rockefeller Foundation built the Mt. Palomar observatory, where much of the astronomical work related to the godless Big Bang theory of the origin of the universe was performed. The Foundation also funded much of the initial work in genetics and particle physics, supported archaeological work crucial to modern ideas of human evolution, gave money for opening schools of psychiatry at major universities, and supported population studies and medical studies that resulted in the legalization of abortion in the United States and population control programs around the world.
The above list is an example of the strong secular and materialistic focus major foundations tend to have in their giving policies.
In 1951, before Srila Prabhupada came to the United States, he wrote a letter asking the Ford Foundation to fund his work of spreading true God consciousness through an association of intelligent people. But a staff assistant at the Detroit office of the Foundation wrote back: "Regret to advise that we are unable to pursue your suggestions concerning the establishment of an association of the intelligent class of people. The Ford Foundation has no program in which specific ideas such as you describe might be included."
In 1969, Srila Prabhupada, reflecting on his personal experience, commented on how unfortunate it was that the foundations would not support anything genuinely spiritual. "If you go to such foundations and say, 'Give us some money for spreading Krsna consciousness, printing these books,' they will reply, 'No, no. We are not interested in religion. We are for scientific improvement.' "
Nevertheless, Srila Prabhupada continued to see the foundations as important and in 1969 requested his American disciples to approach them. "There are so many rich people in your country. If somebody comes forward, we can make very nice progress very quickly. So we have to make some propaganda amongst them. Actually it [Krsna consciousness] is the nicest thing possible. Simply they have to be convinced. That's a fact. Nobody can challenge our sincerity and our purity in this world....The best thing is what we are presenting. There is no doubt about it. Now people have to know it. How to make it known? We have to go to the newspaper man, magazine man, to the foundations."
Srila Prabhupada would no doubt be pleased with the establishment of the ISKCON Foundation. Significantly, Alfred Brush Ford (Ambarisa Dasa), a great-grandson of Henry Ford, has agreed to serve as chairman of the ISKCON Foundation Board.
"The ISKCON Foundation is a vehicle to carry Srila Prabhupada's movement into the next millennium," says Ambarisa, who is also head of the ISKCON Ministry of Cultural Affairs. He adds, "Only by offering people the genuine Vedic culture of India can we satisfy their desires for peace, prosperity, and spiritual fulfillment."
Dr. Vibhakar Mody, Dr. Arvind Singh (Advaita Acarya Dasa), and Mr. Dahyabhai Patel have agreed to serve as vice-chairmen of the ISKCON Foundation. Dr. Mody and Dr. Singh are physicians, and Mr. Patel is the president of a manufacturing company in Irvine, California. Their participation on the Foundation board reflects the growing commitment to ISKCON among its friends in the Indian community.
"I support the ISKCON movement from my heart," says Dahyabhai Patel. He believes the ISKCON Foundation "will be beneficial to our future generation."
The chief executive officer of the ISKCON Foundation is Naveen Khurana (Navina Krsna Dasa), who holds an M.BA. from the University of Illinois.
"Lord Caitanya ordered that Krsna's message be spread to every town and village in the world," says Navina Krsna. "The Foundation will assist ISKCON in making this order a reality."
Other founding members of the board include Alister Taylor (Advaita Acarya Dasa), John Sims (Abhirama Dasa), G. L. Goyani (Gadadhara Dasa), Dinesh Patel, James McDonough (Dhrstadyumna Dasa), Ian Cheverton (Vicitravirya Dasa), Dr. Kirit Joshi, Amrish Goel, Charles Geer, Dr. Subramaniam Shastri, and William Ogle (Balavanta Dasa). All of them have successful professional and business experience.
"The formation of the ISKCON Foundation is a significant landmark in the long-term establishment of the Hare Krsna movement's position as a major spiritual force in the West and all over the world," says Advaita Acarya Dasa. "I am honored to be involved."
The ISKCON Foundation board also includes the following members of ISKCON's Governing Body Commission—Mukunda Goswami, Sridhara Swami, Badrinarayana Dasa, and Ravindra Svarupa Dasa.
The entire ISKCON Foundation Board was approved by the North American Committee of ISKCON's Governing Body Commission, as well as the North American temple presidents. The Foundation will be primarily active in North America, although it is hoped that it will inspire similar efforts in other parts of the world.
Of course, one might ask: Since ISKCON is already raising funds through its temples and the Bhaktivedanta Book Trust, what is the need for the ISKCON Foundation?
The answer takes us to the heart of what a foundation does. Compared to governments, even the biggest foundations have limited funds at their disposal. They therefore tend to look for emerging, breakthrough areas of research and development where a small investment can have the greatest impact. So foundations have commonly been active in farsighted social and intellectual trendsetting. The ISKCON Foundation will also function in this tradition.
The ISKCON Foundation has a board of thoughtful, concerned ISKCON members who will be using Foundation funds and their own expertise to encourage innovative approaches in critical areas—getting important projects off the ground, helping established programs with special needs, and identifying new avenues and methods for spreading Krsna consciousness.
In the twenty-five years since its founding by Srila Prabhupada, ISKCON has compiled a remarkable record of achievement. ISKCON has:
—brought together people from all racial, national, and religious backgrounds in a worldwide spiritual community;
All of this caused the renowned scholar A. L. Basham, author of The Wonder That Was India, to comment: "Hinduism is once more becoming...an expansive missionary religion taking in people from all over the world....The culmination of this process so far is that represented by the followers of the Hare Krsna movement."
Unfortunately, because of insufficient expertise in management and organization, ISKCON's record of success has not translated into the degree of public recognition, understanding, and support that might be desired. The Foundation is therefore initiating a two-phase program to achieve these objectives in North America.
In the first phase of activity (1991-1992), the ISKCON Foundation is conducting the movement's 25th Anniversary Campaign.
In this phase, a primary goal of the Foundation will be to improve the management and organization of ISKCON temples. A key element will be to bring more Indian community and other congregational members into the forefront of ISKCON leadership on all levels—local, national, and international.
To help local temples achieve financial stability, the Foundation is developing a system of annual membership by ISKCON friends and supporters. The program involves methods employed by successful nonprofit organizations of all kinds.
Through its public relations committee, the Foundation will help ISKCON establish better relations with various segments of society, including government, business, academia, the media, and the Indian community.
The first Vaisnava Vedic college has already won approval to grant degrees in the United States. The Foundation will help create the college's educational programs, including Vedic philosophy, Vedic science, and Sanskrit.
Lawsuits are part of the price ISKCON pays for following Lord Krsna's instruction to teach the message of the Gita in a sometimes unfriendly environment. For years ISKCON has been fighting religious intolerance in courtrooms around the world, and the Foundation will act to insure that ISKCON's resources for legal defense remain at a high level of readiness and effectiveness.
Building on the accomplishments of Phase I, the Foundation will embark on a Srila Prabhupada Centennial Campaign in 1992. The five-year campaign, which culminates in 1996 with the 100th anniversary of Srila Prabhupada's birth, will incorporate local, North American, and international objectives.
Local campaigns will be conducted to better meet the needs of ISKCON congregations, including improving existing temples and developing more facilities and programs.
For North America as a whole, goals of the Srila Prabhupada Centennial Campaign include:
—developing the National Vedic College, which will provide a base for research and publishing, as well as education and training for future generations.
On the international level, the Foundation expects that with adequate organization and funding, ISKCON will be able to speed up construction of its model Vedic city in Mayapur, West Bengal, the appearance place of Lord Caitanya. ISKCON will also be able to continue restoring and renovating holy places in and around Vrndavana, U. P., the site of Lord Krsna's earthly appearance some five thousand years ago. Projects for building and renovating temples at holy places elsewhere in India will also benefit.
In an appeal to ISKCON friends and supporters, Foundation chairman Ambarisa Dasa recently said, "Please join us in assisting Srila Prabhupada and Lord Krsna to make this a better world, now and for coming generations."
Drutakarma Dasa is an Associate Editor of Back to Godhead. He and his wife live in San Diego.
The Embodiment of Lord Caitanya's Love
by Satyaraja Dasa
SRINIVASA ACARYA is one of the most important personalities in the religious history of Bengal, perhaps the most important Vaisnava teacher in the generation immediately following Sri Caitanya Mahaprabhu. He is chiefly remembered as the illustrious disciple of Gopala Bhatta Gosvami and Jiva Gosvami. His achievements include delivering the writings of the Gosvamis from Vrndavana to Bengal, converting King Birhambir to Vaisnavism, and originating the Manohar Shoy style of kirtana. At Kheturi, Bengal, he co-organized the first Gaura Purnima Festival (celebrating the anniversary of Caitanya Mahaprabhu's appearance in this world), which Narottama, Syamananda, and thousands of other Vaisnavas attended.
Srinivasa Acarya's parents—the brahmana Gangadhara Bhattacarya and his wife, Laksmi Priya—lived in the small village of Cakhandi, on the bank of the Ganges in the Burdwan district of Bengal. They longed to raise a child who would be a great devotee, but until the birth of Srinivasa, they were child-less for many years.
Gangadhara was himself a great devotee of the Golden Avatara, Lord Caitanya Mahaprabhu, the incarnation of Sri Sri Radha and Krsna predicted in the scriptures. Lord Caitanya had appeared in Navadvipa and was currently in the world. Gangadhara spent much of his time hearing and retelling the stories of Lord Caitanya's pastimes (lila) with the Lord's intimate associates. He wanted to see Lord Caitanya, but social and familial obligations kept him at home, so he resolved to meditate on the Lord in separation. In 1510, however, he could not tolerate the separation any longer. He set out for Navadvipa to see the Lord of his life. After only seven miles, as far as the village of Katwa, he learned that Nimai of Nadiya—Caitanya Mahaprabhu—was in that very village taking sannyasa, the renounced order of life.
"What?" cried Gangadhara. "Why must my Lord take the renounced order? This austerity is reserved for human beings like me so we can overcome our attachments to this world. Certainly there is no need for Sri Nimai, the Supreme Personality of Godhead, to live the harsh life of an ascetic."
But Gangadhara's reservations were mixed with excitement: he would soon see his Lord face to face. When he approached the sacrificial area where Sri Nimai was taking sannyasa, he saw the Lord's intimate associates—Nityananda Prabhu, Candrasekhara Acarya, Mukunda Datta, and many others. He saw Madhu Sila, the barber, preparing to cut Nimai's beautiful locks of raven black hair.
"No!" the onlookers were saying. "Please stop!" They, like Gangadhara, could not conceive of the Lord in the renounced order of life. Even Madhu, who had the good fortune to touch the Lord's head, could cut His hair out of duty only, weeping profusely. Madhu and the others knew that the Lord had decided to set an example for the entire religious world and stress the importance of renunciation. There was nothing they could do.
Kesava Bharati, the sannyasa-guru, gave Nimai His new sannyasa name, "Sri Krsna Caitanya." The crowd was in shock: "Beautiful Nimai is really taking sannyasa!" They couldn't believe their eyes, from which tears were flowing incessantly. But the deed was done.
Madhu fainted. Why had he shaved the Lord's head? It was as if he had been controlled by the Lord's own hand to fulfill the Lord's own desire. "Caitanya! Caitanya!" said Gangadhara Bhattacarya to himself. "Caitanya! Caitanya! Caitanya!" he repeated again and again. His eyes pleaded with everyone there: he wanted to understand what had just happened, but all he could do was mutter in a stupor of mixed emotions.
Gangadhara found himself calling the Lord's names aloud with uncontrollable enthusiasm—"Caitanya! Sri Krsna Caitanya! Sri Krsna Caitanya!"
He returned to Cakhandi, half mad with ecstasy, unable to stop repeating the Lord's names. He told his wife what had happened, and she too was overcome with ecstasy. As the days passed, their ecstasy increased, and the whole town of Cakhandi marveled at Gangadhara's transformation. Seeing Gangadhara's absorption in Sri Caitanya's name, his wife and the other villagers began calling him Caitanya Dasa.
Journey To Puri
Caitanya Dasa and his wife went to Jagannatha Puri, where Lord Caitanya had gone after accepting the renounced order. When the couple arrived, they went to Sri Caitanya and surrendered at His feet.
"Lord Jagannatha is very happy that you have come here," the Lord said. "Go to the temple and see His Deity form. The lotus-eyed Lord is extremely merciful, so please go see Him."
Govinda, Lord Caitanya's personal servant, accompanied Caitanya Dasa and his wife to the temple, where they offered many prayers at the feet of Lord Jagannatha. Weeping tears of divine love, the happy brahmana couple were soon escorted to the luxurious accommodations Lord Caitanya had arranged for them. They spent several happy days with Sri Caitanya in Jagannatha Puri.
One day Lord Caitanya told His servant of His plans for the couple. "Govinda," the Lord said, "although Caitanya Dasa and his wife have not mentioned it to Me, I know they would like to have a child. They said so in front of Lord Jagannatha, who is nondifferent from Me. They have prayed sincerely, and I know their hearts. Their desired offspring will soon appear. His name will be Srinivasa, and he will be a greatly beautiful child. Through Rupa and Sanatana I will manifest the bhakti-sastras, and through Srinivasa I will distribute them. Caitanya Dasa and his wife should quickly return to Chakandhi."
The Appearance of Srinivasa
In Cakhandi the couple had a beautiful baby boy, whom they named Srinivasa. He was born in the second or third decade of the sixteenth century on the auspicious full-moon day of the month of Vaisakha (April-May). Laksmi Priya's father, Balarama Vipra, a learned astrologer, told the happy couple that their son was a mahapurusa, a divinely empowered soul.
The boy had a broad chest and a long, elegant nose, and his beautiful eyes extended like lotus petals. Like Lord Caitanya, he had a bodily luster resembling molten gold and arms that extended down to his knees. According to custom, Caitanya Dasa and Laksmi Priya gave charity to the brahmanas, and the brahmanas blessed the child.
Laksmi Priya would constantly sing the glories of Lord Caitanya into the child's ears, and the melodious sounds made him joyful. As Srinivasa grew, he learned to chant the names of Caitanya Mahaprabhu and Radha-Krsna. Soon this small crescent moon known as Srinivasa grew full and was known as the brightest and most beautiful boy in Cakhandi. He studied under the famed Dhananjaya Vidyavacaspati, who taught him all branches of Vedic learning, including religion, logic, poetry, political science, grammar, and Ayurveda.
According to the Prema-vilasa, Dhananjaya Vidyavacaspati said that he had nothing to teach Srinivasa. The Prema-vilasa also relates that the goddess of education appeared to Srinivasa in a dream and told him she would make him proficient in all areas of learning, especially the scriptures. Still, Srinivasa became known as Dhananjaya Vidyavacaspati's prize pupil, and as such he was the pride of Cakhandi. He was loved by all the townspeople, who saw him as a precious gem.
Narahari Sarakara Thakura
Because of Srinivasa's popularity, he met Narahari Sarakara, an intimate associate of Lord Caitanya from nearby Srikhanda. Narahari Sarakara's intense devotion had pleased Lord Caitanya, and Narahari had the distinction of being allowed to sing the Lord's glories in the Lord's presence, although the Lord, out of humility, would not let anyone else do so. This distinction impressed young Srinivasa, and he accepted Sri Narahari as his first instructing guru.
After meeting Narahari Sarakara, Srinivasa began to show signs of ecstasy. Narahari told Srinivasa to go to Puri to see Sri Caitanya Mahaprabhu. While Srinivasa was considering how to execute the instruction, his father passed away from this mortal world after seven days of fever. It was a shock to the family, and Srinivasa did all he could to console his mother.
Meanwhile, the omniscient Sri Caitanya Mahaprabhu was preparing His associates for Srinivasa's arrival. He had already written to Rupa, Sanatana, and Gopala Bhatta Gosvamis requesting them to teach Srinivasa spiritual life. And He asked Gadadhara Pandita in Jagannatha Puri to teach Srinivasa the Srimad-Bhagavatam.
Narahari Sarakara advised Srinivasa to see to his mother's care in Jajigram, where her father and brothers had moved from Cakhandi. Then Srinivasa was to proceed to Puri to associate with Lord Caitanya. Srinivasa asked Narahari to initiate him into the chanting of Krsna's name, but Narahari told him that Lord Caitanya wanted him to take initiation from Gopala Bhatta Gosvami.
Meeting with Gadadhara Pandita
Still a boy, Srinivasa set out with a companion for Puri. On the way, he learned that Sri Caitanya had left this world. Then Lord Caitanya—along with Nityananda Prabhu, who had also passed away—appeared to Srinivasa "on the pretext of a dream" and consoled him. The phrase shopna chaley ("on the pretext of a dream") appears frequently in Bengali literature of the period and is usually taken to mean "in a spiritual vision."
Still, Srinivasa remained grief-stricken. He went to the Gopinatha temple in Puri to take shelter of Gadadhara Pandita. The Pandita was overcome with separation from Lord Caitanya, and tears always flowed from his eyes. Srinivasa bowed at Sri Gadadhara's feet and introduced himself.
Gadadhara Pandita became joyful. "I'm glad you have come and introduced yourself," he said. "Just before passing away, Caitanya Mahaprabhu told me to teach you the Bhagavatam. He knew you would arrive in Puri one day, and He asked me to explain Krsna-lila to you."
Gadadhara Pandita's joy—he could now fulfill this order of the Lord—again turned to sadness. "I cannot teach you Bhagavatam at this time, O young Srinivasa," he said, "for the manuscript in my possession has become illegible from the tears I have cried onto its pages."
Srinivasa touched the sacred book to his head and felt ecstasy arise within himself. Nonetheless, the problem of studying a book that had been rendered illegible remained. But Sri Gadadhara and Srinivasa would not be swayed from their purpose. The will of Mahaprabhu could not be obstructed. Sri Gadadhara sent a message to Narahari Sarakara in Bengal asking him to secure another manuscript of Srimad-Bhagavatam. Narahari replied that another copy was available and that a messenger should be dispatched immediately. Gadadhara sent Srinivasa himself and told him to hurry. The separation from Lord Caitanya was intolerable, he said, and he didn't know how long he could stay in this world.
Before leaving, Srinivasa fulfilled a long-cherished desire to see Lord Caitanya's associates. He went to the homes of Ramananda Raya, Sikhi Mahiti, Sarvabhauma Bhattacarya, Vakresvara Pandita, Paramananda Puri, Gopinatha Acarya, and many others. He also went to see King Prataparudra, but according to the Bhakti-ratnakara the king had gone away in solitude to lament the Lord's passing.
Srinivasa as Gaura Sakti
Srinivasa reminded the great personalities in Puri of Lord Caitanya. Seeing his intense and unprecedented love of Godhead, the devotees could understand that he was Gaura Sakti, the embodiment of the energy of Caitanya Mahaprabhu. According to the Prema-vilasa, Srinivasa is an incarnation of Lord Caitanya's ecstasy. The Lord's intimate associates could naturally perceive this and could understand that through Srinivasa the eternal message of Lord Caitanya—the message of the Vedic literature—would be widely distributed.
Lord Caitanya had broken open the storehouse of nectarean love of God, and the Gosvamis, by writing books, had taken that nectar and placed it in tangible vessels. Srinivasa would see that these vessels were circulated among all sincere souls. The intimate associates of the Lord gave Srinivasa instructions and advice for carrying on the mission.
When Srinivasa arrived in Bengal and received the copy of the Bhagavatam from Narahari Sarakara Thakura, he learned that Gadadhara Pandita had passed away. The news was a terrible blow, and Srinivasa lamented. Then Gadadhara Pandita appeared to him on the pretext of a dream and encouraged him to go forward.
Srinivasa reflected on the inconceivable will of the Lord. Why had He taken away the person who was to teach him the Bhagavatam? Was there a new plan? Was someone else to teach him the sacred scriptures? Some say that Srinivasa fell despondent at this time, but not much is known about the years that followed Sri Gadadhara's passing from this world. It is generally assumed that Srinivasa spent this time at first in a heartbroken state and then in serious meditation. He probably continued his studies, as he was still in his teens.
When Sri Jahnava Devi, the wife of Nityananda Prabhu, went to Vrndavana, Rupa Gosvami asked her to send Srinivasa to Vrndavana as soon as possible. On her return to Bengal, she relayed the message to Narahari. Sri Caitanya had told the Gosvamis of Vraja to train Srinivasa, and Narahari advised him to hasten to Vrndavana so that the Lord's command should not be violated.
The request heightened Srinivasa's desire to study bhakti literature with Rupa and Sanatana. Had he gone to Vrndavana then, he would have met Rupa and Sanatana. But he decided to visit the homes of Lord Caitanya's principal associates on the way, stopping at Navadvipa to visit Sri Caitanya's home.
Association with The Navadvipa Devotees
This was the second time Srinivasa delayed a journey: first the journey to see Gadadhara Pandita, and now Rupa and Sanatana. Perhaps Srinivasa's enthusiasm to associate with Lord Caitanya's direct followers in Puri and Navadvipa was so overwhelming that he was unable to heed the advice of his forebears. Some say that all of this was the will of providence, so that Srinivasa would take initiation from Gopala Bhatta Gosvami. Others say that Srinivasa, by his example, was teaching the importance of pilgrimage and association with devotees.
Srinivasa was enthralled with the home of Sri Caitanya in Navadvipa (Mayapur), where he met Visnupriya Devi, the Lord's revered widow, and her esteemed servants, Vamsivadana Thakura and Isana Prabhu. They all blessed Srinivasa, and he stayed with them for several days, hearing the pastimes of Lord Caitanya.
During those days he watched Visnupriya Devi perform severe austerities. For example, she would chant the maha-mantra—Hare Krsna, Hare Krsna, Krsna Krsna, Hare Hare/ Hare Rama, Hare Rama, Rama Rama, Hare Hare—over each grain of rice she was to eat. When she was finished with her daily chanting, she would eat only the grains she had set aside.
"Truly," Srinivasa said, "this is a wife who was worthy of Sri Caitanya."
Srinivasa also met Damodara Pandita, Suklambara, Murari Gupta, and other early friends and intimates of Lord Caitanya in Navadvipa. From there Srinivasa went to nearby Santipura, where he was warmly greeted by Sri Advaita's wife, Sita Thakurani, and her sons Acyuta and Gopala.
Srinivasa Meets Jahnava Devi
Then Srinivasa visited the house of Nityananda Prabhu in Khardaha, where Jahnava Devi, her son Birabhadra, and others greeted Srinivasa as if he were part of their own family. But Jahnava Devi encouraged him to start for Vrndavana without delay because Rupa and Sanatana would soon rejoin the Lord in the spiritual world.
On the way to Vrndavana, Srinivasa stopped at the well-known Abhirama Thakura's house in Khanakul Krishnanagar to deliver a letter from Jahnava Devi. The Thakura greeted him with three loving lashes from an extraordinary whip, but this unusual greeting was a benediction. The whip, known as Jai Mangala, would bestow love of God on anyone it touched. Sri Abhirama and his wife, Malini, showed deep affection for Srinivasa. Not only did they bless him with their famous whip, but they gave him valuable instructions and reiterated the importance of going to Vrndavana as soon as possible.
While continuing his journey, Srinivasa stopped in Katwa, where his father had seen Lord Caitanya adopt the renounced order. Next he passed through Agradvipa, where the three famous Ghosh brothers—Vasudeva, Govinda, and Madhava—had established their temple, and then he proceeded to Ekacakra, the birthplace of Nityananda Prabhu. Finally, Srinivasa made one last stop in Jajigram to say farewell to his aging mother and to visit Narahari Sarakara, his beloved guru. Narahari was concerned about Srinivasa's delay in going to Vrndavana and asked him to leave immediately.
And so, without further delay Srinivasa set out for Vraja. By this time he had achieved adulthood.
The Journey to Vraja
Meanwhile, Sanatana Gosvami had left this mortal world, and Rupa Gosvami could not bear the separation. Sri Rupa felt that he, too, might not survive to instruct Srinivasa, so he asked his distinguished disciple (and nephew) Jiva Gosvami to care for Srinivasa.
Traveling in those days, mostly by foot, was difficult. Nonetheless, Srinivasa was making determined progress, stopping briefly on the way in Benares to visit the house of Candrasekhara Acarya, where Lord Caitanya had lived for two months. Here Srinivasa met an elderly disciple of Candrasekhara who invited him for a meal and showed him the places associated with Sri Caitanya.
Next, Srinivasa reached Prayag (known today as Allahabad) and spent the night there. Four days before arriving in Vrndavana, he heard that Sanatana had passed away four months earlier. And when he reached Mathura, he learned that Rupa Gosvami had passed away only three days earlier. Srinivasa fell to the ground, crying like a madman. He felt himself the most unfortunate person in the universe. He had failed to meet Lord Caitanya and to study the Bhagavatam with Gadadhara Pandita. Now he had failed to meet Rupa and Sanatana.
While Srinivasa sat beneath a tree wishing for his own death, Rupa and Sanatana appeared to him on the pretext of a dream and told him he was the embodiment of Lord Caitanya's love. They encouraged him to proceed to Vrndavana to take shelter of Gopala Bhatta Gosvami and to study under Sri Jiva with all his life and soul.
(continued in the next issue)
Satyaraja Dasa is a disciple of Srila Prabhupada and a regular contributor to Back to Godhead. He has written several books on Krsna consciousness. He and his wife live in New York City.
The worldwide activities of the International Society for Krishna Consciousness (ISKCON)
The Bhaktivedanta Book Trust has published two new books by Srila Prabhupada. Narada-bhakti-sutra is a classic Sanskrit scripture on devotional service that Srila Prabhupada began in 1967 but never completed. Now his disciples have finished it. The Laws of Nature: An Infallible Justice is a compilation of some of Srila Prabhupada's talks and writings on karma, reincarnation, and devotional service. For more information, see back cover.
A drought hit ISKCON's Gita Nagari farm in Pennsylvania last summer, causing a feed shortage. So devotees are raising funds to make sure the cows and bulls are well fed during the long winter. To help, send your contribution to Adopt-A-Cow, P.O. Box 839, Port Royal, PA 17082.
"Lord Jagannatha Greets a Free Berlin," read a banner at the Berlin Rathayatra, held in September. After the festival, in the temple courtyard the devotees held an installation ceremony for Deities of Lord Caitanya and Lord Nityananda.
ISKCON Padua, Italy, has moved to a new home, a two-hundred-year-old building known as Casa de Guistina. The devotees have renamed it Prabhupada Desa—"the place of Prabhupada."
Devotees in Zurich took part in four big open-air festivals last summer. They distributed 38,000 plates of prasadam.
In November, Swiss National TV aired two programs on Krsna consciousness. Also, Swiss National Radio interviewed devotees at their Roche d'Or farm, focusing on their ox training and biological farming.
The chariots rolled at ISKCON Bhubaneswar's Rathayatra festival last summer, as ten thousand people pulled. The parade was held the same day as the original Rathayatra in Jagannatha Puri. The festival included nine days of programs and a return procession.
Six floats with Krsna conscious themes moved through the center of town as part of the Janmastami festival at ISKCON Udhampura, in the state of Jammu and Kashmir. Ten thousand people attended the three-day celebration, which included 24-hour-a-day chanting of Krsna's holy names.
Two hundred thousand people attended ISKCON Bombay's three-day Janmastami celebration. Festival-goers bathed the temple's main Deities, Sri Sri Radha Rasa-vihari, Ganges water and other sacred subtances from 1008 silver pots. Member of Parliament and veteran film-actor Mr. Sunil Dutt took part in the bathing ceremony.
Srila Prabhupada speaks out to college students in Secunderabad. Bhakta Ravi of Bhaktivedanta Youth Services in Secunderabad has started a monthly publication entitled Srila Prabhupada Speaks Out. BYS members there plan to distribute it widely at local colleges and universities.
The Cable News Network (CNN) ran a story in September on devotees chanting and distributing literature in Moscow. ISKCON leaders estimate that ten thousand people in the Soviet Union are seriously practicing Krsna consciousness.
The Radha-Krsna Deities rode a boat on Janmastami at ISKCON Singapore. Devotees set up a pond in the temple, filled with lotuses and sweet-scented water. Each of the one hundred guests got the chance to pull Their Lordships' boat.
Hare Krishna Food for Life fed hundreds of schoolchildren during ten days of intensive prasadam distribution in Zimbabwe last summer. The Food for Life team made their base at a primary school in the small village of Maramba and traveled to schools within a sixty-mile radius.
Several years ago the Zimbabwe government had banned ISKCON. Now the government was grateful to have ISKCON give out prasadam meals to drought victims near the Mozambique border.
For more detailed news, see ISKCON's monthly newspaper, ISKCON World Review. To subscribe, see page 55. Any news from your town or village? Please let us know!
In December, Krsna conscious young people from various Indian states gathered in Mayapur for seminars organized by ISKCON's Bhaktivedanta Youth Services.
ISKCON's annual Mayapur-Vrndavana Pilgrimage, attended by devotees from around the world, begins March 5 with a nine-day tour of Mayapur (Navadvipa Parikrama). After celebrating Lord Caitanya's appearance on March 18, devotees will travel to Vrndavana.
ISKCON's Governing Body Commission (GBC) will meet in Mayapur February 18-March 3, just before the festival begins.
Annual Fall Pilgrimage
Devotees from around the world toured Vrndavana during ISKCON's fifth annual Vraja Mandala Parikrama, a walking pilgrimage through Krsna's holy land. The pilgrimage took place during the sacred month of Kartika (October 23-November 21).
At the end of November, the Padayatra was in Dvaraka for the opening of the ISKCON Padayatra Gate. The gate commemorates the Padayatra's first encirclement of India, a fourteen-thousand-kilometer walk that began in September 1984 and ended in March 1988.
The Padayatris are now walking through Gujarat on their way to Jaipur, Rajasthan.
The ox-cart for the Belfast-to-Moscow Padayatra served as Lord Jagannatha's chariot for the first Paris Rathayatra in ten years. The European Padayatra is spending the winter at New Mayapur, ISKCON's farm in southeastern France. In April, the devotees will head for Italy.
In mid-November the Padayatra devotees drove to central America, to walk through Belize, Guatemala, and El Salvador. They are also seeking permission to hold Padayatra in Cuba.
For more information about Padayatra, write to:
While Lithuania moved along the road to independence, a few of her countrymen discovered the path to full freedom.
by Nartaka Gopala Devi Dasi
In 1980 Rimas was studying art at the Pedagogical Institute in Lithuania when a fellow student returned from the Olympics in Moscow with some books on Krsna consciousness. As Rimas was greatly attracted to Vedic culture, he and several like-minded students decided to live together and practice Krsna consciousness. They did many paintings of Krsna and gradually turned the house into a temple.
At the time, the KGB had many spies, so they quickly learned of the students' Krsna conscious activities. Rimas and his friends were members of the Young Communist League, because there was little chance of entering a university without being a member of the League. So when reports of their religious activities spread, they were called to a meeting and expelled from both the League and the school. The local newspaper called them CIA agents.
Rimas taught his father, Haris, the Hare Krsna maha-mantra. Haris was a member of the Communist Party and worked as a chief engineer at the Lithuanian Production Training Center. Haris knew he could benefit spiritually from Krsna consciousness, so he began chanting at home and on the job.
One day during a kirtana at Haris's home, the KGB arrived, destroyed his altar, and confiscated his religious paraphernalia. They claimed that the religious rituals he was practicing were harmful to health. At his job the KGB began to harass him by spreading false rumors. Haris tolerated their antics for many months just so more people could hear about Krsna. Finally he was expelled from the Communist Party and automatically lost his job. But he was satisfied because everyone in the factory knew something about Krsna.
In 1983 Rimas and Haris became initiated members of ISKCON. Rimas received the name Rama Bhadra Acarya Dasa, and Haris became Pundarika Vidyanidhi Dasa.
While working as an artist in a theater, Rama Bhadra Acarya met Rita, a student of journalism at the university. He gave her the Bhagavad-gita As It Is in English. They began to discuss devotional topics in parks or as they walked outside so that their conversations wouldn't be overheard. They didn't dare speak about Krsna on the telephone or even out loud in their own rooms.
Rama Bhadra Acarya: "The KGB were aware of our every move, whether at school or on the job. They made us feel as if we were on a stage. They knew everything."
Soon Rita's Krsna conscious activities were detected, and she was threatened by the KGB. One agent tried to blackmail her: "I know where your father's garden is. Something was stolen near there, and I can prove that you did it—unless you decide to leave the Hare Krsnas." They also tried to discourage her by saying that a sectarian person cannot become a journalist.
Rita finally left the university of her own accord because she knew that sooner or later she would be expelled. Eventually she married Rama Bhadra Acarya and became an initiated devotee, receiving the name Rati Pradha Devi Dasi.
* * *
In the spring of 1981 Razita was studying to be a librarian at the university in Vilnius, the capital of Lithuania. Her boyfriend, Gintaras, studied mechanical engineering. During school vacation they worked in a theater as pantomime actors. Some of their friends were artists interested in Eastern culture and philosophy. They gave Razita and Gintaras some books about Krsna. There were no books available in their native tongue, Lithuanian, but someone had typewritten copies of Perfect Questions, Perfect Answers and Bhagavad-gita As It Is, without purports, in Russian. They also read a few small articles from Back to Godhead.
As Razita and Gintaras began to appreciate the sublime Vedic philosophy, their friends invited them to the forest for a kirtana. They all knew that they could be persecuted for religious activities, as their communist government's official doctrine was atheism. Nevertheless, thrilled with their newfound experience of chanting, they continued to chant Hare Krsna near loud waterfalls so as not to be detected.
The next year Razita and Gintaras helped their friends print a magazine in Russian called Hare Krsna. They published it with an old date to make it look as if it had been printed several years earlier. They could then tell the police, "I don't know where this came from. It was already here; I just found it."
One day Razita and Gintaras went to a kirtana at a friend's house. Twenty people had been chanting for one hour when the police came. The police took them to the police station and released them after they'd made appointments to speak with the KGB.
When Razita met the KGB agent, he told her, "We are here to help you. You must think about the future. If you want to stay in the university, you must sign this document denouncing the Hare Krsna movement."
Razita refused to do so, even though she felt that her studies might be endangered.
Sometime later an opportunity arose for her to study in Czechoslovakia. She thought it might be a better place to practice Krsna consciousness. But the school's KGB refused her application, saying, "There's no question of your going to study there. The question is, Will you be allowed to continue to study here? We know you were singing Hare Krsna in the street."
After some time Gintaras married Razita, and they both became initiated members of ISKCON, receiving the names Gangambupada Dasa and Rasikananda Devi Dasi.
* * *
In 1985 the devotees of Lithuania and Latvia came together for a festival on Janmastami, the appearance day of Lord Krsna. One devotee was the caretaker of a museum construction site at an isolated location. It seemed to be an ideal spot for the festival. More than fifty devotees were cooking preparations to offer Lord Krsna. The police arrived and took the devotees' devotional clothes, japa beads, and books. The devotees had posted verses from the scriptures on the walls, and some policemen began to read the verses out loud.
Rasikananda: "We were listening to verses from the policemen's mouths, by Krsna's grace. This was our Janmastami celebration."
Rati Pradha: "Some situations were horrible, but we were prepared and waiting for them. We were thinking that we simply must persevere until the end and do whatever we can to spread knowledge about Krsna."
Rama Bhadra Acarya: "Until 1986 it was an extremely dark and hopeless period in our lives for openly spreading the Krsna consciousness movement. It was a black time; there was no hope, and things seemed to be getting worse."
It was at this time that a worldwide campaign was begun to "Free the Soviet Hare Krsnas." Citizens of many countries sent thousands of statements to high-ranking Soviet officials imploring them to grant the devotees religious freedom. Demonstrations were held in some countries.
Around the same time, the Soviet government began experimenting with the new politics of glasnost and perestroika, which appeared favorable for those interested in pursuing a religious path. The Lithuanian devotees made a brave and bold decision: they would chant and dance in public, something never before done in Lithuania.
At the first public kirtana, hundreds of onlookers watched with approval. And when the fifteen devotees were arrested and taken away, the people complained: "Leave them alone! Let them sing! We will stay!" For one hour the crowd stayed and discussed what had taken place.
Gradually the situation in Lithuania began to improve. In 1989 the devotees published their first book translated into the Lithuanian language, Sri Isopanisad. Also in that year a historic event took place when the first Rathayatra in the Soviet Union was held in Kaunos, Lithuania. Crowds surrounded the chariot with the Deities, and hundreds of people came to take prasadam.
Rasikananda: "Before glasnost, devotees couldn't work, study, or travel. My mother told me she would have me sent to Siberia and my daughter institutionalized. In the last few years we've been able to travel abroad. I'm distributing Srila Prabhupada's books, and intelligent people are listening. Now my mother is favorable."
Rasikananda's husband, Gangambupada, binds the books and distributes them as well.
Rama Bhadra Acarya is now the chief Lithuanian translator of Srila Prabhupada's books. His father, Pundarika Vidyanidhi, is the president of ISKCON Vilnius.
* * *
The developments that have taken place in the Soviet Union in the past year were unimaginable five or ten years ago. The Republic of Lithuania has declared its independence, and Krsna conscious activities are flourishing there as well as in Russia. Devotees are planning many temples and Krsna conscious schools and farm communities. Srila Prabhupada went to Russia in 1971, and one Russian youth became his disciple. The seed of Krsna consciousness Srila Prabhupada planted has grown to fruition, and thousands of people are awakening their dormant Krsna consciousness.
Nartaka Gopala Devi Dasi, an American disciple of Srila Prabhupada, has been distributing his books since the early seventies. She and her husband now live in India.
Mismanagement By Rascals
This exchange between His Divine Grace A.C. Bhaktivedanta Swami Prabhupada and some of his disciples took place in Geneva, Switzerland, on June 2, 1974.
Srila Prabhupada: People are not bad. I have seen. They are very nice. The government—the rascals. A few men who are controlling the government—they are all rogues and thieves. Everywhere the masses are innocent. These rascals have misled them. In India, in Russia, I have seen. The mass of people—they are very nice.
Andha yathandhair upaniyamanah: blind leaders, leading the blind populace into the ditch. The ordinary people are innocent. For instance, the India-Pakistan war happened due to these politicians. The Hindus, the Muslims—they are innocent. They don't fight. These politicians engage them to fight artificially for their political ambition. The wars declared nowadays are on account of these rascal politicians. The people do not want it.
Disciple: Srila Prabhupada, it seems the politicians want to create scarcity artificially in some areas. But isn't it true that crops can be grown anywhere in the world?
Srila Prabhupada: Yes. If crops did not grow anywhere in the world, then what would be the value of nature's arrangement?
Disciple: Well, for example, there are some parts of India that are too dry to cultivate the ground.
Srila Prabhupada: "Dry" means there is no rain. If nature likes, there can be profuse rain. That is nature's arrangement. That is stated in the Bhagavad-gita. Parjanyad anna-sambhavah. Parjanyat: you must have sufficient rain.
And for having sufficient rain, you must execute yajna, or sacrifice. Yajnad bhavati parjanyah. So these leaders are now becoming rascals. They are not performing yajnas. They are opening slaughterhouses. How will there be rain? Instead of performing yajnas, they are opening big, big slaughterhouses.
Disciple: Srila Prabhupada, now in many parts of the world, the desert area is increasing.
Srila Prabhupada: Yes, the desert area will increase.
Disciple: So then, isn't it true that under present conditions, crops may not grow in every part of the world—and that it's necessary to transport food? At least for the time being, we don't have the possibility of growing food anywhere and everywhere. So some transportation of food is required.
Srila Prabhupada: What will be the use of transportation as the production of food decreases? If there is decreasing hope of producing food grains, then what will be the use of transportation?
Disciple: Well, in some areas there still is hope of producing.
Srila Prabhupada: If somewhere crops are produced, then in another place they can also be produced. You must perform yajna—sankirtana-yajna, the chanting of the Lord's holy names. Then you will get enough food. Yajnad bhavati parjanyah, parjanyad anna-sambhavah, annad bhavanti bhutani.
So in Switzerland are there many slaughterhouses?
Disciple: Some time ago, Srila Prabhupada, I read in the newspaper that they had so much milk and so much butter that the government proposal was to kill the cows.
Srila Prabhupada: "Kill the animals." Oh, just see. They will not give the milk and butter to others.
Disciple: The farmers were complaining that their prices weren't high enough, because there was so much milk.
Srila Prabhupada: Their criterion is price—not that the goods are required. They want money for purchasing wine. This is the difficulty. They are not satisfied simply by eating sufficiently. They want money for women and wine. This is their philosophy.
Disciple: In the United States, Srila Prabhupada, they had that same problem. The farmers felt they were not getting a big enough price.
Srila Prabhupada: So if they had sense, they would export to where there is necessity of this milk, butter, grain. Then the world would be happy.
Disciple: That was my question. If there is necessity for exporting, then is there necessity for maintaining ships and planes and trains and electrical dynamos and so forth?
Srila Prabhupada: No. The point is that if in one place you can produce food grains, butter, and milk, then why can you not produce these things in another place? That is my point. The land is everywhere the same.
Now, here in Europe and America, there is enough production because the population is less. America is larger than India and has much less population. Therefore you find excess. You see? Also, India is not fully producing, not utilizing all the land.
Disciple: Srila Prabhupada, if the people here in the West are so sinful, how is it that they have so much facility and comfort? Apparently, all of that will go away soon. Very soon.
Srila Prabhupada: Yes. Yes. As the people increase their sinful activities, this facility and comfort will be taken away.
Therefore we propose that "Everything belongs to Krsna, and we are all sons of Krsna. Just cooperate in Krsna consciousness. Then the whole world will be happy."
This is our proposal. "Why do you think, 'It is American,' 'It is Swiss,' 'It is Indian'? Everything belongs to Krsna. Let us become obedient to Krsna, and because we are sons of Krsna, let us enjoy the property of Krsna. Immediately there will be happiness."
I have several times said that all over the world, people can produce so much foodstuff that ten times the present population can be fed. Ten times. In Africa, in Australia, and even in America, there is so much prospect of producing additional food.
But they will not cooperate. They will go on killing the animals. They will throw the grain into the sea and claim, "It is our land—so this grain is our property to dispose of as we like." Rascal civilization.
(continued in the next issue)
HERE'S A Krsna conscious project you might like to support or get involved in. We'll tell you what the goals are, who's involved, what's going on, what's blocking the way, and how you can give a hand.
New York and San Diego.
Bala Books is led by devotees of Krsna with backgrounds in publishing, filmmaking, and children's literature.
Publisher: Yogesvara Dasa, award-winning producer of animated children's films for PBS and The Disney Channel.
Director: Prahlada-priya Dasa, head of publications, responsible for the production of Yamuna Devi's acclaimed cookbook, Lord Krishna's Cuisine.
To expand the library of Krsna conscious stories through illustrated books, audio recordings, and films that will reach out to people both inside and outside ISKCON.
Encouraged by Srila Prabhupada to publish children's books and other devotional literature, Yogesvara and his partner Prahlada-priya Dasa have produced a dozen illustrated works and as many adult-level publications since Bala's inception in 1977.
"We were fortunate to have had Srila Prabhupada's personal guidance for our service, " Yogesvara recalls. "He was clear that we should publish not just for our own congregations but for people everywhere. He saw Bala Books as a vehicle for popularizing Krsna consciousness on a mass scale. We didn't quite know how or why Krsna conscious publications and programs would sell commercially, but as always, Prabhupada knew what he was talking about. We've been astounded by the results."
In 1987, Bala Books published Lord Krishna's Cuisine: The Art of Indian Vegetarian Cooking, by Yamuna Devi. The 824-page encyclopedia of devotional cooking went on to receive the "Best Cookbook of the Year" award from The International Association of Cooking Professionals. It is in its sixth American printing and its second British edition, and two foreign editions are scheduled for release next fall. Bala Books recently released an abridged paperback.
Bala Books has published and distributed more than 300,000 devotional books in the past 14 years. Bala titles have appeared in six languages, and a Russian language series is in translation. In 1984, the government of India selected Bala Books to produce two days of story-telling, dance, music, and puppetry at Lincoln Center in New York City as part of The Festival of India. Last year, Bala Books helped buy 26 Second Avenue, Srila Prabhupada's first temple in the West, and donated five thousand copies of the illustrated Prabhupada biography to temples in Africa.
A small staff limits the company's ability to open new markets and begin new sales efforts.
The company has embarked on several devotional projects, including an illustrated Ramayana series and a feature film. A dozen illustrated children's books are in development, and the company has outlined a children's book-with-audiocassette series of tales from India.
HOW YOU CAN HELP
Submit the names of bookstores, gourmet shops, vegetarian restaurants, health-food stores, and other outlets that might be interested in carrying the Bala Books cookbooks or children's publications.
For further information, please contact:
For orders, please contact Kalki Dasa at the Poway address.
by Rebecca Hickox
Every day I chant Your holy names,
I daily seek the key to Your domain,
It is not by my effort I am here,
Upon my tongue, my Lord, I beg You, dance.
Hare Krsna Hare Krsna Krsna Krsna Hare Hare
FROM AUTHORITATIVE SOURCES we learn that the chanting of the maha-mantra—Hare Krsna, Hare Krsna, Krsna Krsna, Hare Hare/ Hare Rama, Hare Rama, Rama Rama, Hare Hare—is the embodiment of the perfection of yoga for this age.
Today we have great difficulties living fifty or sixty years. A person may live at the utmost eighty or a hundred years. In addition, these brief years are always fraught with difficulties due to circumstances of war, pestilence, famine, and so many other disturbances. We're also not very intelligent, and at the same time we're unfortunate. These are the characteristics of people living in Kali-yuga, a degraded age.
So properly speaking we can never attain success in the meditational yoga system described by Krsna. At the utmost we can only gratify our personal whims by some pseudoadaptation of this system. Thus people are paying money to attend some classes in gymnastic exercises and deep breathing, and they're happy if they think they can lengthen their lifetimes by a few years or enjoy better sex life.
But we must understand that this is not the actual yoga system. In this age that meditational system cannot be properly executed. Instead, all of the perfections of that system can be realized through bhakti-yoga, the sublime process of Krsna consciousness, specifically mantra-yoga, the glorification of Sri Krsna through the chanting of Hare Krsna. That is recommended in Vedic scriptures and is introduced by great authorities like Caitanya Mahaprabhu.
Indeed, the Bhagavad-gita proclaims that the mahatmas, the great souls, are always chanting the glories of the Lord. If one wants to be a mahatma in terms of the Vedic literature, in terms of Bhagavad-gita, and in terms of the great authorities, then one has to adopt this process of Krsna consciousness and of chanting Hare Krsna.
But if we're content at making a show of meditation by sitting very straight in lotus position, then that is a different thing. But we should understand that such show-bottle performances have nothing to do with the actual perfection of yoga. The material disease cannot be cured by artificial medicine. We have to take the real cure straight from Krsna.