Back to Godhead magazine is a cultural presentation to respiritualize human society. It aims at achieving the following purposes:
1. To help all people distinguish more clearly between reality and illusion, spirit and matter, the eternal and the temporary.
2. To present Krsna consciousness as taught in Bhagavad-gita and Srimad-Bhagavatam.
3. To help every living being remember and serve Sri Krsna, the Personality of Godhead.
4. To offer guidance in the techniques of spiritual life.
5. To expose the faults of materialism.
6. To promote a balanced, natural way of life, informed by spiritual values.
7. To increase spiritual fellowship among all living beings, in relationship with Lord Sri Krsna.
8. To perpetuate and spread the Vedic culture.
9. To celebrate the chanting of the holy names of God through the sankirtana movement of Lord Sri Caitanya Mahaprabhu.
Hare Krsna: Sticking with It
IN 1966, WHEN THE Hare Krsna movement first got started in the West, it was something new and strange. People didn't know what to make of it. Now, for many people in their thirties and forties, it's something they grew up with. The man in the White House belongs to a generation that saw Hare Krsna become a regular part of American life. When Hare Krsna first came on the scene in London, Prince Charles was just turning twenty.
Kids who once bought Hare Krsna books on street corners are now college professors. Hare Krsna devotees once thought to be part of a "youth cult" are now raising grandchildren.
The influx of Asian Indians into North America over the last two decades has contributed to the growing sense that Hare Krsna is here to stay. Come to a Hare Krsna temple these days, and alongside the devotees who joined Hare Krsna in the West—and their children and grandchildren—you're likely to find Asian Indians whose families have been devotees of Lord Krsna for more generations than they can trace. Youth cult indeed.
Meanwhile, weird practices of the Hare Krsna cult have started to become mainstream. Back in the old days, when we told people we were vegetarians it was just another sign we were flaky. Nowadays? It's a sign that we're smart.
No cigarettes? Hare Krsna was ahead again. No drugs? Chalk up another one for Hare Krsna. How about chastity? Twenty years ago when we told people, "Sex only in marriage," they looked at us like we were cheerfully suggesting suicide. Now, in the Age of AIDS ... Chalk up another one for Krsna's side.
Even our trademark "saffron bedsheets" seem to be catching on. What's been chic in this year's high fashion? Among other things, "the Hare Krsna look." Plunk down several thousand dollars, and a designer will wrap you up in flowing silk Hare Krsna saffron.
Our philosophy, too, has grown ever more familiar and accepted. Karma, reincarnation, the presence of a spiritual spark of consciousness in all forms of life. If that still seems "way out" to you—well, maybe that's just your bad karma.
Trends and fads have arrived and faded, and Hare Krsna is still going strong. Why? I got some insight about it some time ago from a young woman at Kennedy Airport.
I was on my way to India. Head shaved, dressed in my usual Hare Krsna saffron (economy style—cotton, not silk), I stopped off at a counter in the terminal to buy some travelers checks.
The woman counted out the checks for me and handed them over. "Here you go, hon," she said, addressing me with a standard New York endearment. "You know," she said, "I really like you people. You're not like those other groups. You're really what you pretend to be. Here you go."
Thank you. And Hare Krsna.
Thank you for producing such an attractive magazine. The January/February issue in particular was deeply impressive, up-to-date, filled with spiritual purity, and offering a good combination of articles. It was like a festival.
Seeing Every Man as Son
I was glad to see Mother Vegavati's letter [in response to an article by Urmila Dasi] about the importance of a woman's seeing every man except her husband as son.
On several other occasions Srila Prabhupada mentioned that women should see other men as sons, especially brahmacaris and sannyasis. For example, in Vrndavana in 1974 he said, "If I see woman as mother, she must see me as son. That's all. That is the system. The brahmacari, the sannyasi go to beg alms from door to door. 'Mother, give me some bhiksa, alms.' And it is the duty of the grhastha to treat brahmacari and sannyasi as their son."
In 1975, he wrote to his women disciples in Dallas, "Canakya Pandit said that every man should see all other women as mother, and similarly a woman should see all men as son."
Only in the last couple of years has this instruction of Prabhupada's for women been brought to my attention, and I feel it is a great help. I have heard of one respected wife of a GBC who normally addresses men devotees as "son," and I believe it would be a beneficial practice to teach in our gurukulas. Even when I'm working in a mundane office, it helps my Krsna consciousness when I regard men co-workers as sons. That way I can see that they are potential devotees.
Hare Krsna Dasi
URMILA COMMENTS: Athough Srila Prabhupada often quoted Canakya Pandita's advice that a man should view women other than his wife as mothers, he rarely spoke of how a woman should view other men. But in a lecture on Srimad-Bhagavatam (January 7, 1974) Srila Prabhupada said, "This is Kali-yuga.... Nobody sees other's wife as his mother, nobody. And neither the woman sees other's husband as father." So, clearly, a woman may see men other than her husband either as "son" or as "father."
Simhacalam—Blessed or Bogus?
I've just finished reading Hari Sauri's Transcendental Diary, Volume 2, and was very surprised to find, on page 135, a statement by Srila Prabhupada that the tirthas [holy places] in Simhacalam, South India, are not authorized. In the March/April issue of BTG—the anniversary issue—the cover story presented Simhacalam as "an enclave of learning and culture" visited by, among other great personalities, Srila Prabhupada. My question is: What in this situation does "not authorized" mean? Am I missing something somewhere? Please kindly clarify it for me, if possible.
We've checked with Hari Sauri. According to some accounts, Simhacalam in South India is where Lord Krsna in His incarnation as Lord Nrsimhadeva slew the demon Hiranyakasipu. But the Srimad-Bhagavatam tells us that this pastime occurred at the palace of Lord Indra in the heavenly planets. So Srila Prabhupada, Hari Sauri says, expressed doubt that the pastime could have taken place on earth. But Srila Prabhupada obviously considered Simhacalam worth visiting, as did Sri Caitanya Mahaprabhu. Though some stories about the place may be "not authorized," it is certainly an accepted holy place and an enclave of learning and culture.
Krsna Conscious Memory
I am writing in loving memory of my daughter Natasha Krsna, who died March 12, 1993, at the age of 6 months.
After calling BTG headquarters I was put in touch with an angel named Hare Krsna Dasi. Ms. Dasi took the day off from work to attend the funeral and say some poignant words about Krsna consciousness. She did this even though we had never met. God bless BTG and Ms. Dasi. HARE KRSNA!
We'd like to hear from you. Please send correspondence to: The Editors, Back to Godhead, P.O. Box 430, Alachua, Florida 32615, USA.
To know Krsna we must learn the secret that will inspire Him to reveal Himself.
A lecture given in San Francisco, March 26, 1968
By His Divine Grace A.C. Bhaktivedanta Swami Prabhupada
The Supreme Personality of Godhead said: Now hear, O son of Prtha, how by practicing yoga in full consciousness of Me, with mind attached to Me, you can know Me in full, free from doubt. (Bhagavad-gita 7.1)
At the conclusion of the Bhagavad-gita, Sanjaya says, yatra yogesvarah krsno yatra partho dhanur-dharah... "Wherever there is Yogesvara, Krsna, and wherever there is Arjuna, the greatest fighter, there will undoubtedly be victory."
The Bhagavad-gita was spoken as a narration by Sanjaya to Maharaja Dhrtarastra. Sanjaya was Dhrtarastra's secretary. By spiritual vision Sanjaya could see what was going on in the battlefield—just as one sees something on television—and he narrated to Maharaja Dhrtarastra, who was blind. Sanjaya's conclusion was that the side that has Yogesvara, Krsna, must be victorious.
Attachment To Krsna
There are different systems of yoga, and there are many kinds of yogis. Yoga refers to the system, and the yogi is the person who practices the system. The object of yoga, the ultimate goal of yoga, is to understand Krsna. Therefore Krsna consciousness means to practice the topmost yoga system. That yoga system is being described by Krsna Himself. Why? Because He is teaching His most intimate friend, Arjuna.
In the beginning of His explanation, the Lord says, "This system of yoga can be practiced by persons who have developed attachment for Me." The topmost yoga system cannot be practiced by an ordinary man who has no attachment for Krsna. A yogi who has no attachment for Krsna is practicing a different yoga system.
There are five kinds of direct attachment, or asakti. And there are seven kinds of indirect attachment. Direct attachment is called bhakti, but indirect attachment is not bhakti. If you are attached to Krsna by the direct method, that is called devotional service. And if you are attached to Krsna by the indirect method, that is not devotional service, but that is also attachment. For example, Kamsa had indirect attachment. Kamsa was the maternal uncle of Krsna, and it was foretold that Kamsa would be killed by his sister's eighth son. So Kamsa became very anxious, and he wanted to kill his younger sister, Devaki, Krsna's mother. She was saved by her husband, Krsna's father, Vasudeva, by some compromises. That's a great, long story. The last compromise was that Vasudeva told his brother-in-law Kamsa, "You are afraid of the son of your sister. Your sister is not going to kill you. So I request, don't kill your sister. Save her. And I promise that all the sons born of your sister will be brought to you, and if you like you can kill them.''
Vasudeva was a king. He was thinking, "For the time being, this poor girl may be saved, and it may be that time will change the mind of Kamsa. When her sons will be born, he might change his mind.''
But Kamsa was such a great demon that he killed all the sons of Devaki. So when Krsna was in the womb of His mother, Kamsa was always thinking of Krsna. Now, you see, Kamsa was also Krsna conscious, but he was Krsna conscious not directly—not for love's sake—but as an enemy. That is not devotional service. When one is Krsna conscious and Krsna's friend, Krsna's parent, Krsna's servant, Krsna's lover—that is devotion.
Relationships With God
Here it is clearly said, mad-asrayah: "one who wants Krsna." You may want Krsna as your lover. You may want Krsna as your son. You may want Krsna as your friend. You may want Krsna as your master. You may want Krsna as the supreme sublime. These five kinds of direct relationship with Krsna are called devotion, bhakti. Devotees in these relationships are without any desire for material profit.
The concept of accepting God as one's son is superior to the concept of accepting God as one's father. In the relationship between father and son, the son wants to get something from the father. But the father always wants to give something to the son. Therefore the relationship in which one treats God, or Krsna, as son is better than the relationship in which one treats Krsna as father. If I accept God as my father, then I am the son and my only business will be to ask my necessities from the father. But if I become the father of Krsna, then from the beginning of Krsna's childhood my business will be to serve Him. The parents serve the child from his birth.
Therefore the ideal of Krsna's parents and foster parents—Vasudeva and Devaki, and Nanda and Yasoda—is very sublime. Yasoda is thinking, "If I do not feed Krsna sumptuously, He will die.'' She forgets that Krsna, the Supreme Lord, is sustaining the three worlds. Nityo nityanam cetanas cetananam eko bahunam yo vidadhati kaman. Only one God is supplying the necessities of all other living entities. That very same Personality of Godhead has become the son of Yasoda, and she is thinking, "If I do not feed Krsna nicely, He will die.'' That is love. She has forgotten that the person who has appeared before her as her little child is the Supreme Personality of Godhead.
So the relationship of asakti—attachment—is very sublime. It requires time to understand. But there is a position in which instead of asking, "O God, give us our daily bread,'' you think that God will die if you do not supply Him bread. That is the ecstasy of extreme love, and there is such a relationship between Krsna and His devotees.
Radharani, the greatest devotee, the greatest lover of Krsna, loves Him as a paramour. Nanda and Yasoda love Him as parents. Sudama and Arjuna love Him as friends. Similarly, there are millions and trillions of different kinds of devotees of Krsna. They are directly playing with Krsna.
The yoga system described herein—bhakti-yoga—can be practiced by persons who have developed such attachment for Krsna. Others cannot practice it. And if anyone is able to develop such attachment, he will understand God, or Krsna, perfectly.
How Much Do We Know?
To understand God by our theories or speculation is very difficult. We may say that we have understood God, but it is not possible to understand God as He is, because we have limited senses and He is unlimited. How can you capture the Unlimited with your limited senses?
The sastras, scriptures, explain how we can understand God: atah sri-krsna-namadi na bhaved grahyam indriyaih. Our senses are always imperfect. We cannot even understand the material world perfectly. We see so many planets and stars in the sky at night, but we do not know what they are. We do not even know about the moon—one planet. We do not even know about all the varieties on earth.
Our knowledge is always imperfect. That we must admit. To be proud that we have acquired all sorts of knowledge and have advanced in science is foolishness. When it is not possible to understand even the material things we see daily, what can we understand of the spiritual? And Krsna, the Supreme Personality of Godhead, is the supreme spiritual form. So it is not possible for us to understand Krsna by our limited senses.
Then why we are bothering so much for Krsna consciousness if it is not possible? The sastra explains:
Your imperfect senses cannot realize Krsna as He is. But if you become submissive, if you develop the spirit of service to Krsna, either as servant or as friend or as parent or as lover, if you begin to give service to the Supreme Lord, then He will reveal Himself.
Serving Krsna With Love
The beginning of service is chanting. Therefore it is said, jihvadau. Jihva means "tongue." Your service begins by the tongue. How? By the tongue you can chant Hare Krsna, and by the tongue you can taste Krsna's prasadam.
So the beginning process is very nice. You chant Hare Krsna, Hare Krsna, and whatever little prasadam is offered to you by Krsna by His kindness, you accept it. If you become submissive, and if you begin the service of chanting and eating prasadam, then svayam eva sphuraty adah—simply by these two practices, Krsna will reveal Himself before you: "I am like this.''
Krsna is revealing Himself to Arjuna in the Bhagavad-gita because Arjuna is a devotee, he is submissive, and he is Krsna's friend.
The Bhagavad-gita was spoken to Arjuna, not to any Vedantist or speculator. In the beginning of the fourth chapter, Krsna says, "I'll speak to you the old system of yoga, bhakti-yoga.'' He says, "to you.'' Why? Arjuna was not a Vedantist or a great philosopher or a brahmana. He was a ksatriya. He was a fighter and a householder, not even a sannyasi.
One's position is not the qualification to understand Krsna. I have become a sannyasi, a mendicant, but this is not the qualification for understanding Krsna. Even in your white dress, as a householder, you can understand better than me.
Then what is the qualification? Sevonmukhe hi jihvadau: One who has developed the service spirit with love and devotion can understand Krsna. No one else. A child can understand Krsna if he has full faith in Him.
Faith and devotion make one qualified to understand God. To have those qualifications is called mad-asrayah. We are preaching Krsna consciousness. We are not wasting your time or our time. We have full faith—theoretically and practically—that Krsna is the Supreme Personality of Godhead.
No One Is Greater Than Krsna
If you ask, "How do you know that Krsna is the Supreme Personality of Godhead?'' we can answer that we know theoretically from the revealed scriptures—the Vedic literature—and from great authorities in the past and in the present. For example, Lord Caitanya is a recognized great authority. Oh, He is mad after Krsna. Then after Him, His six disciples, the six Gosvamis—especially Jiva Gosvami—have written volumes of literature on Krsna. Then by disciplic succession we have come to the point of accepting Krsna as God.
And long, long ago, Vyasadeva, also known as Vedavyasa, wrote the Srimad-Bhagavatam about Krsna. The Srimad-Bhagavatam is nothing but a description of Krsna. Vyasadeva is also the author of Bhagavad-gita. Bhagavad-gita was spoken by Krsna and noted down by Vyasadeva. And Vyasadeva has put the Bhagavad-gita in the Mahabharata.
Vyasadeva accepts Krsna as the Supreme Personality. In the Bhagavatam he has specifically mentioned, krsnas tu bhagavan svayam. He has given descriptions of about twenty-five incarnations of God. In conclusion he writes, ete camsa-kalah pumsah krsnas tu bhagavan svayam: "All the incarnations are part of the partial representation of God, but Krsna is the Supreme Personality of Godhead Himself.'' Krsna is not part. He is cent percent God. So the evidence of authority establishes theoretically that Krsna is God.
Now, if we believe the scriptures and the authorities, then we'll see that no one can be more powerful than Krsna, more beautiful than Krsna, more famous than Krsna. That seeing is the practical understanding of Krsna as God. Krsna appeared five thousand years ago, but His knowledge, which He gave us in the shape of Bhagavad-gita, is still worshiped. It is worshiped not only by the Hindus or the Indians; it is read all over the world. In your country there are at least fifty editions of Bhagavad-gita, written by different American thoughtful men. Similarly, in England, in Germany, in France—in many countries—you'll find hundreds of editions of Bhagavad-gita.
So who can be more famous or more wise than Krsna? There are many other evidences about Krsna if we believe sastra. Krsna married 16,108 wives, and He provided each one of them with big palaces. Each one of them had ten children, and from those ten children there were many other children.
So these are the evidences from revealed scripture. And in the Brahma-samhita, Krsna is accepted as the Supreme Personality of Godhead. This is a very old book, written by Brahma. In the Brahma-samhita it is said, isvarah paramah krsnah. Isvarah means God. There are many gods—demigods—and there is one Supreme God. The Brahma-samhita says, "Krsna is the Supreme God. He is the God of gods.'' Sac-cid-ananda-vigrahah: "And His body is eternal and full of bliss and knowledge.'' Anadir adir govindah: "He has no beginning, but He is the beginning of everyone. And His name is Govinda.''
Go means "senses," go means "cow," and go means "land." So Krsna is the proprietor of all land, He is the proprietor of all cows, and He is the pleasure for all senses. We are after sense pleasure, but our perfection of sense pleasure can be achieved when we reciprocate our pleasure with Krsna. Therefore His name is Govinda. Govindam adi-purusam tam aham bhajami: "Govinda is the supreme, original Personality of Godhead."
The Perfection Of Life
That same Personality of Godhead is personally speaking about Himself to Arjuna. How can someone simply by speculation speak something about God more important than what is being spoken by Krsna Himself? No one can speak better than Krsna about God, because God Himself is speaking about Himself. If you speak about yourself, who can speak more than you?
If we have faith, if we believe theoretically and practically that Krsna is the Supreme Personality of Godhead, then by Krsna's speeches in this chapter we can understand God. There is no difficulty. We can understand how He is working, how His energies are acting, how He is manifested, what is the material world, what is the spiritual world, what are the living creatures, what is their relationship with God—so many things in God's creation.
The whole Vedic literature is dealing in three things: understanding our relationship with God, acting in that relationship, and attaining the goal of life—love of God.
The first thing is our relationship with God. Then, when we understand our relationship with God, the second thing is to act in that relationship. For example, as soon as a relationship is established between a man and woman—that one is husband and the other is wife—then reciprocal dealings begin.
So first you must understand your relationship with God. That relationship will be revealed when you are perfectly liberated. Every living creature has a particular relationship with God. We have forgotten that. When that relationship is revealed in the process of devotional activities, Krsna consciousness, you should know that you have attained the perfection of your life.
Krsna consciousness is a great science. It is not sentiment or mental speculation or a bluff. It is scientific, as described in the Bhagavad-gita, in the Vedas, in the Samhitas, and as accepted by authorities like Lord Caitanya, Ramanujacarya, Madhvacarya, Narada, Asita, Vyasa—so many authorities.
Krsna consciousness is not a bluff-making or a money-making business. It is reality. If you take to it seriously, your life will be successful.
Thank you very much.
By Satsvarupa Dasa Goswami
British Airways Flight to Trinidad
"STEAK OR FISH?" The friendly stewardess doesn't know what a horrible question she is asking. I am trying to relax. We are going to Trinidad. I am thinking about how important it is to hear from Srila Prabhupada. In a sense, I have nothing new to say to anyone. I can only repeat what Srila Prabhupada has said. The devotees in Trinidad are struggling, and I want to remind them of the goal of human life. They live in a third-world country where they struggle to maintain their spiritual standards in the midst of materialistic countrymen. They also have a poor national economy. They struggle to put petrol in their cars, to get a simple house, to cover the basics like food and rent. They don't seem to have much time for wide-scale preaching. The nondevotee population doesn't really seem that interested. But this is only one side of things.
What can I do there? I can only go and repeat to them what Srila Prabhupada has said. That is the only hope I can offer. Everything is solved by Krsna consciousness.
Srimad-Bhagavatam tells us that Lord Krsna is so attractive to His devotees that they cannot bear His separation. "There is, of course, a difference in the qualities of the transcendental devotees of the Lord," Srila Prabhupada says, "but none of them who have ever contacted the Lord by direct communion or otherwise can leave Him for a moment. That is the attitude of the pure devotee." (Bhagavatam 1.10.9-10, purport)
Srila Prabhupada says we can attain this state even if we don't have face-to-face exchanges with Krsna as the Pandavas and Yadavas did. I may read this section to the Trinidadian devotees.
"Meet with Sri Krsna in the Srimad-Bhagavatam," I may tell them. "Find Him in Srila Prabhupada's purports. Increasing your attraction to Krsna will automatically diminish your attachment to the material world—and diminish your anxiety."
Prabhupada says that like the Pandavas we all have attraction for Krsna. "Lord Sri Krsna is so attractive for the living beings, especially for the devotees, that it is impossible for them to tolerate separation. The conditioned soul under the spell of the illusory energy forgets the Lord, otherwise he cannot."
While reading the First Canto of Srimad-Bhagavatam, I pause and try to visualize Srila Prabhupada working on it day and night in the 1960s. Whenever I think like that, I become satisfied to just accept whatever Srila Prabhupada is giving us. That simple acceptance might be our best accomplishment in this life. I want to understand Bhagavad-gita, Srimad-Bhagavatam, The Nectar of Devotion, and all of Srila Prabhupada's books analytically, but ultimately I want to accept the books because Srila Prabhupada gave them to us. He is our authority, and the representative of the Supreme Authority.
There is no other way to gain realized knowledge. We cannot under-stand Krsna by logic or even by scriptural study; we have to follow the mahajana, the great soul. Do we "know" that life comes from the Supreme? Do we "know" that Krsna is the Supreme Person? No, we don't know. We simply accept it because our spiritual master said it. Now we want wholehearted acceptance.
We chanted in the temple. Hard, wild dancing. Later I gave what I could in the lecture.
One devotee asked how to overcome complacency. I told him complacency comes when we are satisfied with the material benefits that come from bhakti, devotional service. I gave the example of a man told by his landlord to pay fifty dollars in four days. The man has only ten dollars, but he feels satisfied. He is complacent. He is also in ignorance. He doesn't believe he will be thrown out of his room, so he doesn't work to get the extra forty dollars required. Complacency comes when you think you have already done enough.
Another devotee asked me to explain patience. He said, "We are born in a third-world country." Does he think he cannot go back to Godhead from Trinidad? Does he think he has to go to America to go back to Godhead?
Whenever I'm here, my mind fills with mosquitoes and frogs and the dum-dum of their music. The temple here is dark, although outside the sunlight is brilliant. Third-world country.
Debe, South Temple
The climate here is pleasant. Kids on their way to school carry umbrellas in case it rains. There are layers of mild clouds, very different from the clouds in Ireland. Life is simple. What more could we need? Srila Prabhupada says that if you earn fifty dollars a month and increase it to five million a month, you can still eat only four capatis and lie down in a six-foot bed at night. The real purpose of life is Krsna consciousness.
The temple president wants me to speak on Bhagavad-gita 5.2. He says it's about householder life, but I don't see it as a verse about householders. It's about action without reaction. It recommends not giving up our activities, but doing them for Krsna. The background to this discussion appears in the second chapter. There we learn that the tiny eternal soul is entangled in karma and forced to go through repeated birth and death. Krsna tells Arjuna—and all of us—to learn about the atma and stop fruitive work. But Krsna also tells Arjuna to perform the heavy task of fighting on the battlefield. Arjuna then claims that he is confused by Krsna's equivocal instructions.
This came up in the third chapter, and now it appears again. Krsna says that renunciation is best achieved by bhakti-yoga, in which you act but without attachment for the results. You offer your acts to Krsna. The renunciation whereby you try to avoid material objects is less renounced, less effective. It's a kind of mental speculation that doesn't actually stop karmic work. This is the subject matter of verse 5.2. Prabhupada quotes Srimad-Bhagavatam 5.4.6, nunam pramattah kurute vikarma. Get out of this world of repeated birth and death. Engage in Krsna consciousness and be free.
Arrived safely last night. We are staying in a small house on the temple property. This morning I read Prabhupada's purport to The Nectar of Instruction, Text 8. He says that the mind comes up with impressions that produce contradictory images. Therefore we have to train our minds in Krsna consciousness. Otherwise we may think of something other than Krsna or devotional service at the time of death. Every time I read something like this, it makes me aware of the mind's power and the danger in indulging the mind. I want to arrest my mind and bring it to Krsna.
To read the Bhagavatam takes intelligence and mental control. The Bhagavatam's statements can be bewildering unless we approach them with our spiritual intelligence. Those who doubt the Lord because of apparently contradictory statements are doomed like the atheists. "O Lord, is it not bewildering that You are unborn and yet You take birth as the son of Devahuti; that You are the all-powerful Supreme God yet You asked Your parents to move You to Gokula out of fear of Kamsa; and that fear personified is afraid of You yet You cry when mother Yasoda catches You and shows You her stick?"
We do not belong to this material world. May we continue our Prabhupada consciousness and always read his books. Even when we can't be reading, we can be remembering what we have already read—Krsna at Kuruksetra speaking the last verses of Bhagavad-gita, or whatever it was. Keep the sentences going through you. Krsna is the same one Supreme Personality of Godhead who never leaves Vrndavana and who eternally appears in His expansions.
Satsvarupa Dasa Goswami travels extensively to speak and write about Krsna consciousness. He is the author of more than two dozen books, including a six-volume biography of Srila Prabhupada.
Cooking Class: Lesson 14
By Yamuna Devi
AS PROMISED, here's a cooking class from the road in India. For me, being back in India is an instant case of "what is old is new again." Of course, I've met with the inevitable East-West culture shock, but it's one greatly tempered by the warm hospitality of many ISKCON devotees here.
In one month I've visited ISKCON centers in Bombay, and in Mangalore and Kollur in Karnataka state. I've also visited a new project in Karnataka nestled in a remote valley half-way up the majestic Kutachadri mountain. I've sampled outstanding temple prasadam from the hands of outstanding cooks and been inspired by all of them.
A Look at Three ISKCON Kitchens
In a gray marble kitchen Bombay ISKCON's staff of temple cooks prepares massive quantities of sumptuous dishes for the pleasure of the presiding Deities. The expert cooks employ every seasonal fruit and vegetable available, showcasing them in numerous regional cooking styles. The staff's rhythm and organization is a pleasure to see as they turn out more than a dozen dishes for each offering.
For three days Giriraja Swami's kind disciples Visakha Priya and Nama Cintamani kept a nonstop supply of maha-prasadam dishes for me to sample. Dining with temple president Rasaraja Dasa, I relished more wonderful Deity maha-prasadam, our enlivening conversation centering on Srila Prabhupada's qualities, standards, and instructions. Further still, the temple sweet shop and restaurant sent samples of their fare, all prepared by experienced brahmana cooks. This place is worth a visit for too many reasons to mention.
The newly acquired ISKCON Mangalore temple is a sprawling British-designed bungalow complex, with red tile roofs, wide verandas, and lovely gardens. Jahnavi Devi, who heads the kitchen, is known not only for her crisp dosha pancakes and feather-light iddli dumplings but also for her talents with homemade pickles and relishes. Twice a day she prepares tantalizing dishes for the pleasure of the Deity of Lord Nrsimhadeva, Krsna's incarnation as half lion, half man.
Above I've featured one of Jahnavi's recipes for a delicate South Indian yogurt soup called karhi. I wrote down the recipe without specific measurements, so you can experiment by varying the amounts of the ingredients and noting the differences in texture and flavor.
ISKCON Kollur is situated in a mountain village on the banks of the idyllic Suvarnika River. A pump at the river's edge brings sweet river water to the temple compound and kitchen, perched on a cliff overlooking the river. The river water is purported to be infused with more than fifty Ayurvedic herbs and plants that flourish along its banks. Several devotees share cooking duties in the spartan kitchen. The fare is kept simple and nourishing. During my visit, Gita Devi made several varieties of outstanding kicchari (dal-and-rice stew).
Flavor-Rich Indian-Style Soups
In Western kitchens, homemade stock is the basis of outstanding soup. Cooks simmer finely chopped vegetables in water until the cooking has reduced it by at least half, intensifying the flavor of the ingredients and providing nutrition and goodness.
The Indian approach is somewhat different. Indian cooks make good soup in under thirty minutes without stock. They start by frying or roasting aromatics and spices on moderate heat to release the dormant flavors. Then they add vegetables, cook them briefly, and finally add the desired liquid, usually water. As the vegetables simmer to tenderness, the flavors mingle and intensify, creating delicious flavors. The flavors are as simple or complex as the choice of ingredients. A sprinkle of minced herbs or a drizzle of flavor-infused oil finishes off this type of one-pot soup.
Since I'm staying at a place with a kitchen (not always the case when you're traveling), I've enjoyed making several variations of one of my favorite soups. The soup uses a fine-grained Indian bottle gourd called ghiya or louki, the closest Western counterpart being baby pattypan squash. Remembering Srila Prabhupada's fondness for this dish, first I prepared his favorite variations and then came up with a few new ones in the process. The easiest one is offered above. The first day I offered it to Krsna as is, the next day with a cup of pan-fried panir cheese.
You don't need any special equipment to make these soups, no stock is necessary, and you can make many of them in under thirty minutes. If you are following this cooking series, thumb through the recipes in the VEGETABLE SOUP section of the class textbook, Lord Krishna's Cuisine, and try out at least three this month.
The dishes above are delicious for any occasion—light, quick, and satisfying. No matter what your choice, simply cook with attention, devotion, and an attitude of pleasing the senses of the Lord. You're sure to get satisfying results right away.
Simple Bottle Gourd In Tomato Broth
1/16 teaspoon cayenne or paprika
Combine the first 5 ingredients in a bowl and mix well. Heat the ghee or oil in a soup pot over moderate heat. Add the cumin and fennel seeds and fry them until they darken a few shades. Stir in the tomato mixture and cook 4-5 minutes. Add the bottle gourd and cook another 5 minutes. Add water, raise the heat, and bring to a boil. Reduce the heat and gently cook until the squash is fork tender, 15-30 minutes, depending on the variety of squash. Season with salt and pepper, stir in the herbs, and offer to Krsna.
Jahnavi's Yogurt Soup
2 ½ tablespoons sifted chickpea flour
Combine the chickpea flour, corn starch, and ¼ cup water in a large bowl and blend until smooth. Add the remaining water and the yogurt, turmeric, salt, and sugar whisk until blended. Place in a saucepan over moderate heat. Stirring constantly, bring to a boil. Reduce to low and simmer about 15 minutes, stirring every few minutes.
Heat the ghee or oil-butter mixture in a small pan. Add the spice seeds and chili, cover, and toast until they become aromatic and pop or change color. Add curry leaves if available; then pour the seasoning into the thin soup. Offer to Krsna. (To add variety to the flavor, put in a handful of mixed sprouts about 2 minutes before offering.)
Bhakti-yoga at Home
The Krsna Connection
By Rohininandana Dasa
THE AIR IS CRISP. Alone, I climb a stile and step into a field. My boots crunch on the hard, frosty ground. The trees are still today. Even the ponies are still, save jets of smokey breath. Dawn covers the cold horizon with its glow. My heart feels warm as my chanting reverberates deep inside me. A cock crows, a dog answers in the distance. A pheasant, disturbed by my presence, flies noisily from his roost on a branch. I focus my mind on the holy name and continue to chant.
On the way home I pick up a large log for my woodpile. Its weight takes my breath away. I walk unsteadily through the trees and across the field. When I reach the stile, I move my log from one shoulder to another. A delicious sense of relief flows through my strained muscles. A few steps later, as the log's weight begins to oppress my other shoulder, I remember an analogy Narada Muni once gave about a man who tried to relieve himself of a burden by moving it from his head to his shoulder. I consider how that burden represents the trouble we all go through in the material world. That trouble, like the pain of my log, is self-inflicted. Instead of laying down our burdens, we conditioned souls carry them from one body to another as we wander from universe to universe.
And here I am, again embodied in some corner of the cosmos. I have my log, my wood stove, my wife, my children, my bricks, my land. How conscious am I that these will all slip away like sand?
Fortunately, Narada's wise, kindly presence reminds me who I actually am, what is really mine, and what my potential is. By his incessant traveling for Krsna, he arrests the aimless traveling of such souls as you and me so we can return home at last.
Thinkers advise us to connect with each other and with ourselves. But we still die disconnected in this darkling plane of dreams and plans.
Narada Muni, however, can connect us to Lord Krsna. That's his special power, his service, and his joy. After all, he's Krsna's, and Krsna is his to give away.
We can connect with people who have a few scraps of Krsna's potencies and can give us a few baubles. Or we can connect with those who can connect us eternally with the source of all existence, Lord Krsna Himself.
And me with my log and my dreams ... When, oh, when will I lay down all my burdens for good and dance in the Lord's dance party?
A Taste for the Lord's Name
By Urmila Devi Dasi
IT'S AFTER THE TEMPLE'S Sunday feast. Packed into our van, the children laugh and jostle one another as we head for the gurukula to watch a video of Krsna's pastimes. Nimai, the four-year-old brother of one of our students, starts singing the Hare Krsna maha-mantra. He sings quietly at first. Then his singing builds in volume and picks up a clear rhythm and melody. Eleven-year-old Visnujana starts to play the mrdanga drum he'd brought to the feast. Soon all the children are singing together. The singing is their pleasure, and they taste the spiritual sweetness of the Lord's name.
Later, my husband and I chant outside on our beads, marveling that the frogs have awakened on this warm February night. Mixed with the frogs' beeps and blups are sounds from our youngest son, Kesava, and the two boys who board with us. "What are they doing?" my husband asks. Listening closely, we gradually distinguished the sounds of Krsna's names.
As they play, help with cooking, pause in their schoolwork, take a walk, or clean the house, our children and students often burst into transcendental song. Each of our students also chants the Hare Krsna mantra as a quiet personal meditation for at least twenty minutes each morning. And most of the older students commit themselves to chanting a certain number of "rounds" on a string of 108 beads.
"Do you chant a certain number of rounds?" I asked a new thirteen-year-old student.
"No," she replied, "I never have."
"Well," I suggested, "how about starting with three rounds?"
Strangely, after three rounds (about twenty minutes) she was still chanting. And the next morning she was again still chanting after twenty minutes. After a few weeks of this, I asked her, "Are you still just chanting three rounds?"
"I've been chanting seven rounds every day," she said.
"Well," twelve-year-old Kesava piped in, "starting on February first I increased to eight rounds. I'm going to move up until I get to sixteen rounds by the time I'm sixteen."
Our students enthusiastically embrace the Lord's name because of training, a supportive atmosphere, their own commitment to chanting, and the reciprocation of Krsna in the form of His name. We start training our students at age five to sit together for at least twenty minutes each morning and chant on beads. While we don't force the students to chant (we don't punish them if they don't), they understand that we expect them to join in. I help the students pronounce the mantra clearly, I help them finger the beads properly (some young students who play with beads do better to chant without them), and I keep bringing their restless minds back to the sound of Krsna's names.
During our chanting time, I insist that each child respect the spiritual life of the others. No talking or fooling around. I have to set a strong personal example of commitment to my own vow of chanting, as well as to the quality of my chanting. It may seem impossible to chant attentively while supervising twenty students, but I find that Krsna helps me.
No matter how much training we give children, they also have to commit themselves to worshiping the Lord's name. This commitment comes from their own experience with chanting and from understanding its value and importance.
I recall an eleven-year-old boy who joined our gurukula. He sat morosely morning after morning, mouth closed and face glum.
"Chant," I would say.
"I don't have to."
"No, you do have to. Of course, I can't make you chant. But chanting Krsna's name is the process of spiritual realization for the present age. So if you want to realize yourself and God, certainly you have to chant. You may choose not to in this life, but sooner or later, in some lifetime when you really want to know and love Krsna, you'll have to chant."
Today, at age eighteen, he's still chanting.
Children profit from making chanting a habit. Then their training becomes effective and their own commitment a joy rather than a burden. We form habits to make sure we get things done—bathing, cleaning, or even keeping up with world events. Similarly, taking refuge in the Lord's name, at least for a certain time every day, is so much easier when it is a habit.
Children should also form the habit of chanting or singing the Lord's name at every opportunity. We can teach this mostly by our own example. Do we chant while we wash dishes, drive our car, or fix the leaky pipes? Do we chant (quietly) while grocery shopping? Prabhupada advises, "Don't waste time, but if you have time, chant Hare Krsna."
When we train our children to chant, help them commit themselves to chanting, and help them arrange their time so the chanting can become a habit, we create a supportive atmosphere for taking shelter of Krsna's name. The devotee community can add to that support. We are lucky here in North Carolina to be part of a community where the temple is regularly full of devotees for congregational singing of the holy name. And when the time comes to chant on beads, no one talks or sneaks off to bed or gets distracted. The intense spiritual mood in the temple encourages everyone to chant seriously.
When anyone with proper training and the desire to chant purely chants regularly in the association of saintly persons, Krsna quickly reveals Him-self in His holy name. When chanting with the children, I often pray to the Lord in their heart, "Please reveal how You are present in Your divine name. Please show them Your love and mercy."
Krsna's presence in His name is a display of His mercy. And because He loves us more than we can imagine, He is easily pleased to reveal Himself. If our children come to rejoice in the glories and sweetness of the Hare Krsna mantra, their path to the perfection of life is fully open.
Urmila Devi Dasi was initiated in 1973 and has been involved in ISKCON education since 1983. She, her husband, and their three children live at the ISKCON community in Hillsborough, North Carolina, where she runs a school for children aged 5-18. She is the main author/compiler of Vaikuntha Children, a gurukula classroom guidebook.
From the Students
When I chant, I feel very happy and joyful. When I chant about Krsna it feels very fun so you can just think about Krsna.
—Cintamani Dasi, age 8
I like kirtana when it goes fast so that you can jump and dance.
—Gaura Lila Dasi, age 13
Krsna likes us to chant and dance for Him.
—Amala Purana Dasa, age 6
There seems something special about the holy name.
—Amrta Dasi, age 11
I like chanting because it is fun. I like chanting when I am sad. I like chanting a lot because we become more advanced when we chant. I like chanting for Krsna to make Him happy. I like chanting so I become happy like Krsna.
—Visnujana Dasa, age 10
Chanting Hare Krsna brings you closer to Krsna.
—Rohini Dasi, age 13
The most blissful times of my life were the times when I chanted my rounds clearly with full attention. At such times I felt like I could chant forever.
—Yamuna Dasi, age 15
Dead and Gone
By Vraja Kishor Dasa
I REMEMBER WHEN my grand-father died. I was pretty young then; the exact age escapes me. He was so cool. There was nothing I didn't like about him. He was a rip to hang out with. He was nice to people. He ate and drank with gusto and made his own Italian wine in the basement. Okay, he drank a bit much, but I didn't care. I loved the hell out of him.
It might have been Christmastime—the memories are confused. The phone rang, and then I could hear my mother crying down the hall. After a twenty-minute drive to my grandmother's house, we went inside and my grandmother was flipping out and everything was hellish.
The ambulance had already left. My grandfather was in the hospital.
In the waiting room, waiting. I was young, but old enough to feel. We walked a hallway, into a doctor's white office.
"I'm sorry ..."
And the Long Island funeral home—was it Long Island? I can't remember...
I have pictures from those days. My face was a lot less angry then than it would become. In some ways I miss those times.
I was dressed in a black suit, very confused, peering inside the coffin. My wet eyes looked at his. Or were they his? There was only stillness, and the makeup I wish they'd never put on him.
I returned to my seat remembering his loud, playful voice and his funny Italian nicknames for us kids. The same mouth was in the coffin, the same eyes, but now they were still.
The realization gradually began to build. The same eyes. The same mouth. The same calloused, furniture-building hands that had tussled my hair. The same. The same—but so different.
Was he still behind those eyes?
His body was there, but he had left.
When you die, your body is right there, but you are not. You are not. You are not ... he is not ... I am not ...
... this body.
By Ravi Gupta
Chay! Chay!" The calls of tea vendors echo through India's train stations at any time, whether it be two o'clock in the morning or ten at night. The vendors are always busy selling tea through train windows. Sometimes they climb aboard a train and get off at another station, sure that tea addicts will buy a cup. The voices wake the passengers, reminding them of their daily need, urging them to take a cup of hot tea. "One rupee!" the vendor says.
Drinking tea is not part of our Vedic culture. The British introduced tea in 1834, after they had conquered India.
Once I asked my grandmother, "Dadiji, did you always drink tea?"
"No," she replied, somewhat embarrassed.
When she was a child, her father, a well-known attorney in town, would not permit tea in the house except to offer British friends. To keep up with the English "sahibs," however, Indians in the last century have gradually adopted tea as part of our daily lives.
Indian households restricted tea because it is an intoxicant. Even today, the kids are not given tea. They are supposed to drink milk, which is good for them.
The caffeine in tea urges a person to drink tea again and again. I remember traveling in India once on a short bus ride. Halfway through the journey the bus driver had to stop to drink a cup of tea while the passengers waited.
The Vedic scriptures say that intoxication is one of the four pillars of sin. The others are gambling, meat-eating, and illicit sex. We Indians should not have a problem avoiding these sinful activities, but with the influence of Kali-yuga we have become somewhat lax. Most of us know that all of the above are non-religious habits—except when it comes to tea, coffee, or colas.
Devotees do not offer tea to Lord Krsna. Srila Prabhupada wrote in a letter, "Yes, as you have understood, prasadam is offered only from the category of fruits, vegetables, grains, milk products and sugar. This is according to the Bhagavad-gita, wherein Krishna states what He accepts. We have four rules that all my students follow. They do not take any meat, fish, or eggs; no gambling, no intoxicants, including coffee, tea, or cigarettes; and no illicit sex life. Try to follow these four rules, and Krishna will bless you with quick advancement in spiritual life."
While still in family life, Srila Prabhupada tried unsuccessfully to get his wife and children to give up tea. He once said about his wife, "She was very attached to drinking tea. I was always telling her not to drink tea, because I wanted to have a nice Vaishnava family. So although I was repeatedly telling her, this time [just before he left home] I finally said, 'You choose between me or tea. Either the tea goes or I go.' "
Anything Krsna does not accept, the devotees reject. Eating food not offered to Krsna means bondage in the material world. Lord Krsna says in the Bhagavad-gita (3.13):
"The devotees of the Lord are released from all kinds of sins because they eat food which is offered first for sacrifice. Others, who prepare food for personal sense enjoyment, verily eat only sin."
Tea drinking degrades our consciousness. The typical family in India gets up from bed and sips tea, and with tea they either read the newspaper or gossip about mundane affairs. The scriptures recommend that the morning hours are the best time to remember Krsna, perform devotional service, and elevate our consciousness for the day. If we start the day remembering Krsna, the whole day will be spiritual. But if we get up, take tea, and fill ourselves with the rubbish of the material world, we are wasting our valuable morning hours, in which the mode of goodness prevails.
On a recent trip to India I asked people why they drink tea. Most said that tea gives them energy to start the day. Research shows, however, that although tea temporarily increases energy, the body experiences a sudden letdown in activeness after the effect diminishes. The 1983 edition of The Foods and Nutrition Encyclopedia says, "The reason for the lift is that caffeine stimulates the central nervous system (brain) and promotes the breakdown of glucogen to glucose in the liver, which raises the blood sugar level. However, the elevation of blood glucose may be short lived. Hence they feel a letdown due to a drop in their blood sugar."
Tea makes the body like the hare in the race with the tortoise. The stimulation in caffeine makes the body run. Afterwards the body takes a rest because it cannot function without it. When the body depends on its own strength, it gets much farther.
As with many other drugs, caffeine creates dependency in the body. It also robs the body of nutrients. The stimulation of caffeine has long-term effects and has been implicated in cancer, ulcers, birth defects, heart disease, and high blood pressure.
So the question remains how to give up the old habit of drinking tea morning, noon, and night. The only way to cure the addiction for tea is by getting a "higher taste," a spiritual lift that will counteract the temporary boost one gets with tea.
One gets so much energy serving Krsna that there is no need of a stimulant. Devotees do not use tea, and still they sleep less, serving Krsna energetically throughout the day. The pleasure of bhakti-yoga, or service to Krsna, is thousands of times greater than the stale material happiness of drinking tea.
Chanting is one of the first processes in bhakti-yoga. The holy names of Krsna are nondifferent from Krsna. Pure chanting of Sri Krsna's names, specifically the maha-mantra, drives out all desires for material sensations. Krsna's names are like the sun. Any-thing that comes in contact with that sunlight becomes totally pure. So no material desire can stand before Krsna's holy name.
In the Bhagavad-gita (2.59), Lord Krsna speaks of the need for acquiring a higher taste:
"The embodied soul may be restricted from sense enjoyment, though the taste for sense objects remains. But, ceasing such engagements by experiencing a higher taste, he is fixed in consciousness."
Srila Prabhupada writes in his purport, "Unless one is transcendentally situated, it is not possible to cease from sense enjoyment. The process of restriction from sense enjoyment by rules and regulations is something like restricting a diseased person from certain types of eatables. The patient, however, neither likes such restrictions nor loses his taste for eatables. ... But one who has tasted the beauty of the Supreme Lord Krsna, in the course of his advancement in Krsna consciousness, no longer has a taste for dead, material things."
If we artificially restrict ourselves from tea, we will still aspire for that taste. But if someone gives us something better, we will naturally lose our taste for the inferior. If tea gives us a lift, Krsna consciousness gives us unlimited bliss.
By the way, my grandmother has given up drinking tea after fifty-five years. So can you.
A Day with the Oxen
By Balabhadra Dasa
A FARMER'S WORK begins at sunrise. As I walk down the lane to the pasture, I can hear the soft chirping of the sparrows announcing the rise of a huge, golden, mist-covered sun. Out in the field, Vraja and Gita are already grazing. Even through the mist I can see their strong, massive frames. I cup my hands to my mouth and hail them, imitating the sound of a conch shell. Their ears prick up, and they come eagerly, their bodies coming into focus out of the mist. They're never late for breakfast.
The oxen have a good appetite this morning; their heads are soon immersed in the grain buckets. Brown Swiss was definitely the right breed for us, I tell myself—healthy, gentle, and beautiful, perfect for showing people what cow protection's all about.
The oxen look up at me, taking a break from their oats. (Did they sense my admiration?) A good teamster has to make sure his team has enough fuel to do a good day's work. I give them a little more time to fill up on hay and water.
Now it's time to yoke up. Today the oxen will prepare a field for planting by disking it.
"Good, Vraja! Good, Gita!" I pat them on the neck heartily. "You know what we're going to do today? We're going to disk the back field and get it ready for planting oats."
I guess people who haven't worked with oxen expect the oxen would put up a struggle when you yoke them. But for a carefully trained team, that's never the case. Instead, with Vraja and Gita I get the feeling they take pride in working with me. To them, yoking means we're going to have a little adventure together and they can impress me with how well they work. In about 1830, British livestock writer William Yuoatt wrote,
When we press [the ox] into our immediate service when he draws our cart and ploughs our land he rapidly improves upon us: he is, in fact, altogether a different animal; when he receives a kind of culture at our hands, he seems to be enlightened with a ray of human reason, and warmed with a degree of human affection.
A Great Gift from Krsna
We're ready to go. I tap the oxen on the rear with the lash. "Vraja and Gita, get up!"
Their huge bodies respond in synchronized motion. We head out to the field where the disk is waiting. As we come up to it, I give the command to stop: "Whoa, Vraja and Gita!" They halt obediently. I lay the lash in front of them. It's a line they won't cross until I give them another command, even if it takes an hour.
They stand patiently as I hitch a chain to the disk, then to the yoke. Now we're ready to work. "Vraja, Gita, get up!"
They lean into the yoke. The disk cuts into the ground and churns up the moist earth. Down go the weeds, leaving a rich brown seed bed behind.
As the oxen pull, I breathe in the smell of the fresh-turned dirt. "I am the original fragrance of the earth," Krsna says. (Bhagavad-gita 7.9)
The swishing sound of the disk working seems like a prayer to Krsna from Mother Earth. We're going to help Mother Earth make her offering to the Supreme Lord.
What a great gift from Krsna to be able to work with these two wonderful animals! When I think of millions of people working in factories and offices, I feel a pang of regret. What they're missing out on! The fresh air, the peace and beauty of the countryside, and above all, the satisfaction of serving Krsna with these noble animals.
Although the oxen are much stronger than I am, they depend on me for their grain, hay, and water. And I depend on them to pull the plow, plant the seeds, and harvest the crops. So as we work together to serve Krsna, we also serve each other. This mutual dependence and service creates a satisfying relationship. Srila Prabhupada writes:
The bull is the emblem of the moral principle, and the cow is the representative of the Earth. When the bull and the cow are in a joyful mood, it is to be understood that the people of the world are also in a joyful mood. The reason is that the bull helps production of grains in the agricultural field, and the cow delivers milk, the miracle of aggregate food values. The [truly] human society maintains these two important animals very carefully so that they can wander everywhere in cheerfulness.
—Srimad-Bhagavatam 1.16.18, purport
Prabhupada says that the ox is the father of humankind because he works in the field to provide grain for humans (as well as animals), the way a father provides for his children. I'm a father, too, working to provide food for my family. So the way I see it, the oxen and I are a team of fathers working together to serve Krsna.
For me there's another reason to work with oxen. In 1975, Srila Prabhupada visited the ISKCON farm near New Orleans. He saw all the bull calves and asked, "How will you utilize the bulls?" When the devotees seemed unsure, Prabhupada soberly explained that other farmers slaughter bulls because of not knowing how to use them. Our bulls had to be productively engaged.
When I heard about Prabhupada's instructions, they sank into my heart and impressed on me how important it is for the Krsna consciousness movement to properly engage the bulls so that people can see their value. When a cow gives birth, about half the time the calf is a bull. Without showing how to engage the bulls, any formula for cow protection—or even kindness to animals—remains incomplete.
By now, we've done three laps around the field. I keep tabs on how Vraja and Gita are doing. It has been about twenty minutes. As I watch the area behind their rib cage, their breathing tells me they're starting to tire a little. Time for a break. "Gita and Vraja, whoa!"
It's hard work, but satisfying, and we break at comfortable intervals. Rested, we go back to work and continue for several hours. When the sun hangs overhead, hot and bright, it's time to break for lunch.
Everyone is hungry. Vraja and Gita need hay and water, and I need prasadam. I unhook the chain from the yoke and walk the oxen to a shady grove in the pasture. My wife, Chayadevi, brings a lunch basket, and we sit and take prasadam in the shade.
It's a typical southern summer day, very hot and humid. We spend an hour or an hour and a half in the shade of some oaks. Part of the time I take prasadam, read, or chant Hare Krsna, and the rest I spend grooming "the boys" with a currycomb, an event they thoroughly enjoy.
As I comb under Gita's neck, he stretches his handsome head up high and closes his eyes. A beast of burden with a noble soul. A beast with intelligence.
Our lunch break has ended, and it's time to finish work on another field, which we started a couple of days ago. The oxen disked it and made a smooth seed bed by pulling a spring-tooth harrow and a log drag over it. Today we're using a three-row grain drill. Since the field is about an acre, to plant it should take us about two hours.
I glance at the oxen lying under the shady trees. "Okay, Vraja and Gita, lunch time is over."
They slowly lift their massive bodies, weighing a ton each, and stretch to their height of 5-1/2 feet at the rump. They may yet grow another half a foot. We yoke up and walk out to the field, stopping at the shed to pick up the planter and oat seed.
The grain drill is a small wooden tool with handles. Someone has to walk behind it, guiding it to plant straight rows. Today Chayadevi takes this opportunity to get out of the office for some exercise and fresh air.
We quickly arrive at the field. Chaya guides the grain drill as carefully as she would sew a seam on the Deities' clothes. We need straight rows so the oats can be easily harvested a few months from now.
Another plus for low-tech farming: It's a wholesome way to associate with your wife. That helps promote peaceful family life, which makes spiritual progress easier. My wife and I work together to produce food for the Lord. Everything fits together in Krsna's plan. Who could say that for factory work, or even commuting to an office? Manmade arrangements are against family life and against spiritual life. I'd rather take Krsna's plan.
As the sun moves across the clear sky, the day passes. Plowing, disking, cultivating, and planting—a good day's work with the oxen. I think about our part in the day's productivity. Krsna has provided the seeds, the rain, the nutrients in Mother Earth, the warmth and light of the sun, and the oxen. Everything is Krsna's; we haven't provided anything except our service. We're simply Krsna's servants. Exhausted but happy servants.
Days like this are a gift from Krsna, a valuable gift we would like to be able to share with others. Surely they too would become happy in a life like this.
"Agriculture is the noblest profession," Srila Prabhupada says. "It makes society happy, wealthy, healthy, honest, and spiritually advanced for a better life after death." (Light of the Bhagavata, Illustration 9, purport) Thanks for letting us in on this important secret, Srila Prabhupada. You've changed my life, and you'll change the lives of others, too.
HERE'S A Krsna conscious project you might like to support or get involved in.
Gunagrahi Dasa Goswami, Mahatma Dasa
To help young people in America appreciate Krsna consciousness.
To keep in touch with people new to Krsna consciousness and guide them in their progressive surrender to Krsna.
To encourage people to study Srila Prabhupada's books and assist them in their study.
Since its inception six years ago, Krishnafest has focused mainly on bringing Krsna consciousness to young people in America. The twelve-devotee Krishnafest team has four traveling parties, which hold programs in homes, colleges, and high schools, and with Indian youth. Krishnafest runs a school in Dallas to train new devotees, and keeps an office in Dallas to stay in touch with people the Krishnafest devotees have met.
Seven months a year Krishnafest holds a festival on the national mall in Washington, D.C. The festival has inspired thousands of young people to chant Hare Krsna, dance, and buy Krsna conscious books.
Older students from ISKCON schools sometimes travel with Krishnafest, which also works with the Hare Krsna straightedge bands Shelter and 108.
Krishnafest also publishes a bi-monthly newsletter for young people, called Introspection, and introductory booklets and pamphlets.
The Krishnafest devotees plan to visit many people they've met to teach them more about Krsna consciousness. The devotees will also print more books and pamphlets that show young people how Krsna consciousness has relevance for them.
Krishnafest plans to produce audio and video tapes and to work with ISKCON Foundation to develop a program to encourage members of ISKCON's congregation to study Srila Prabhupada's books.
The project lacks the money and manpower it needs to keep in touch with all the people who have become interested in Krsna consciousness through its efforts.
HOW YOU CAN HELP
Join Krishnafest as a preacher, band member, layout/graphic artist, organizer, or writer (you can write at home).
Become a donor. Put Krishnafest in touch with people who want more contact with devotees.
For further information, please contact:
5430 Gurley Avenue
Dallas, Texas 75223
With so much fighting going on in the name of God, one might wonder, "Whose side is God on?"
By Mathuresa Dasa
A QUICK WORLDWIDE poll of assorted fundamentalists as to whether or not God is partial would no doubt indicate that He is—extremely. The only question would be, Partial to whom? In Northern Ireland He sides exclusively with either the Catholics or the Protestants, depending on whom you talk to. In India He is adamant to have built in His honor either a Muslim mosque or a Hindu temple, again depending on whom you ask. And on street corners just about anywhere, preachers inform passersby that He is sending most of them to hell.
To all these claims on His favor and disfavor, Lord Krsna replies that He is partial to no one.
samo 'ham sarva-bhutesu
"I envy no one, nor am I partial to anyone. I am equal to all." (Bhagavad-gita 9.29)
This doesn't mean that there aren't some perks for piety. There are. But those perks are only the results of our own past deeds under the three modes of nature—goodness, passion, and ignorance—in this and previous lives. The Gita clearly explains (14.18) that the pious, conducted by goodness, rise to higher planes of material enjoyment, earning future advantages such as prosperity and knowledge. Those of passionate natures occupy the middle of the road, getting a mixture of persistent misery and the fleeting pleasures of sense gratification. And those addicted to intoxicants, sleeping, meat-eating, and other acts in ignorance descend to madness and illusion, in human and lower forms of life.
We choose our mode or mixture of modes, we get the results of our choices, and the Supreme Lord, though the creator of nature and its modes, takes no sides.
Krsna designs nature's laws to act like fire. Touch fire and get burnt; meddle with the modes and, whatever your religious ties or philosophical outlook, get your reaction. This is impartial. From hellish conditions to heavenly ones, living entities are only living out the results of their previous actions. Krsna has no need even to act as judge, since the impartial workings of the modes proceed merely by His will, leaving Him eternally free to enjoy transcendental exchanges with His pure devotees.
As the father of all living things, Krsna further shows His impartiality by arranging for material nature to supply the needs of life to everyone, whatever their modes. Even the animals are His children and so get what they need. Without offering so much as a prayer, the elephant receives its tons of edibles and the ant its tiny grain. In human society too, both theist and atheist get sunlight, air, water, food, and shelter. God is like a rain cloud that pours water everywhere, even on rocks and oceans. Shortages of essentials may occur, but they show no preference for the denominations of their victims. The shortages are reactions to our dipping into the grossly ignorant mode of nature, not signs of the Lord's direct hand. Krsna, the supreme enjoyer, has better things to do than punish and reward us for our escapades. He assigns such duties to the material nature and remains aloof.
Yet God's impartiality is only half the story, or half of the Gita verse quoted above. The full verse says:
samo 'ham sarva-bhutesu
"I envy no one, nor am I partial to any-one. I am equal to all. But whoever renders service unto Me in devotion is a friend, is in Me, and I am also a friend to him."
While asserting that He is impartial, Krsna also proclaims Himself an intimate friend, or in other words very partial, to His devotees. This contradiction appears to take us back to square one, since most everyone has a valid claim on being devoted to God. Protestant and Catholic, Hindu and Muslim, could all, if so inclined, quote the Bhagavad-gita, or similar lines from other scriptures, and go on feuding. ("God says He's a friend to His devotee—me.")
But Krsna's partiality is transcendental, or confidential. The samo 'ham verse occurs in a chapter of the Gita entitled "The Most Confidential Knowledge." In the beginning, the first two chapters of the Gita, confidential knowledge means understanding the difference between your self and your body: the body is perishable and the soul is not. More confidential still is knowledge of the Supreme Soul and how to attain Him, as described in the seventh and eighth chapters. And most confidential of all is understanding that the kinship and love we now repose in our bodily relations is but a dim reflection of our eternal kinship with God.
If the very beginning of confidential knowledge is understanding that we are not these bodies—not Hindu, Catholic, Muslim, or any other bodily designation—then how can Lord Krsna's partiality have anything to do with our material bodies? It can't. Krsna doesn't say He is partial to His Hindu devotee or His Protestant devotee. He says He is partial to anyone who renders Him service with devotion. With His partiality too, then, He is impartial.
The devotee's kinship with Krsna is not figurative. God is the original master, friend, lover, and child and thus the natural object of our every thought and action. Material friendship and love now absorb our minds and motivate our actions—and yield as their counterpart our material enmities, including religious ones. But such friendship and love are but passing reflections of eternal spiritual templates. Krsna therefore encourages us, a few verses after the partiality verse, "Engage your mind always in thinking of Me, become My devotee, offer obeisances to Me and worship Me. Being completely absorbed in Me, surely you will come to Me."
With the constantly devoted souls, Krsna reciprocates as a friend. He does not merely reward them, from a great distance, through the agency of His material energy. He directly returns their love, because their pure devotional service, like His supreme self, is above the three modes of material nature, beyond ordinary goodness and piety.
The pure devotee of God, while not inattentive to routine familial and religious duties, knows that they are born of material friendship and love. So he rejects all bodily designations and identities and identifies himself exclusively as an eternal servant of the Supreme Person. Upon such devotees Krsna bestows His intimate and eternal friendship. That is His partiality.
So when that quick worldwide poll reaches your doorstep, asking whether or not God is partial, tell the pollster that this is the most confidential knowledge but that, yes, He's partial to those who are impartial, who see no difference between Catholics and Protestants, between street preacher and passersby, and who practice and promote transcendental loving service to Him.
Increasing Population: No Problem
This conversation between Srila Prabhupada and some journalists took place in London, England, on August 18, 1971.
Srila Prabhupada: Now India is faced with so many problems on account of imitating Western civilization.
Guest: Not simply because of the increased population?
Srila Prabhupada: There is no question of increased population. This idea, I say always, is foolishness.
Srila Prabhupada: The birds and beasts are also increasing their population. Who is giving their food? There are 8,400,000 species of life. Out of that, 8,000,000 species are other than human beings, and 400,000 species are human beings. Out of that, the civilized persons are very few. And all the problems are in the so-called civilized population.
We know that God is the original father. He is supplying maintenance for everyone. If there is increase of population, God has enough resources to feed them. It is not a problem of increasing population but of demonic civilization.
Journalist: I was going to ask you about that—civilization.
Srila Prabhupada: The demonic civilization—not increasing population—is creating the problem. So far as I have studied, in America, in Africa, and in Australia there is so much vacant space that if the present population of the world were increased ten times there would still be enough food.
Journalist: You think there's enough food?
Srila Prabhupada: There are enough provisions. But we have made artificial divisions. "This is America." The Americans went from Europe and illegally occupied America. Now they won't allow anyone to come there. Similarly, the Australians won't allow anyone to come there. The same with New Zealand, Africa. Why? Our philosophy is that everything belongs to God and we are all sons of God. Everyone has got the right to live at the cost of God.
Journalist: But the values of Western civilization have ...
Srila Prabhupada: Western civilization created the artificial idea that "this is Africa, this is America, this is Europe."
Journalist: Therefore that has made living as children of God impossible.
Srila Prabhupada: Yes. Because the one son of God is not allowing the other son to come in. He hasn't got the right to forbid. Say your father has ten sons. So all the ten sons have the right to use the property of the father. That is the law. Similarly, all the living entities—not only human beings but birds, animals—all of them have the right to use the property of God. This is called spiritual, or transcendental, communism.
According to Vedic civilization, a householder has to see that even a lizard in the room has his food. A householder would stand on the street, and before taking his food, he would say loudly, "If anyone is hungry, please come. I have food." And if there is no response, then he takes.
Journalist: That's a very difficult doctrine for many people in civilization.
Srila Prabhupada: But that is real civilization. In animal civilization, as soon as one dog comes, another dog barks, "Yow! Yow! Yow! Why are you coming?" Just like here, and everywhere, the immigration department is asking, "Oh, how long will you stay?" Why should they ask that? A human being is coming. In Vedic civilization, even if an enemy comes to your home you receive him with such friendliness that he forgets that you are his enemy.
Journalist: But it must be very difficult for you to preach these values.
Srila Prabhupada: It is difficult because this civilization is demonic. India welcomed everyone, but the result was they were occupied. Your English people were welcomed. Lord Clive was welcomed, but he intrigued to occupy India. And his statue is worshiped here in London. But what was his credit? He made an intrigue—he illegally entered India and made an occupation. That is Western civilization.
Journalist: That's really what I was going to ask. You must find life very difficult preaching values of brotherhood in present-day society.
Srila Prabhupada: Brotherhood is natural. In a family of ten sons, naturally they are brothers. But one son is intriguing how to take the whole property. That is going on. That is demonic.
Journalist: How do you stop that?
Srila Prabhupada: By Krsna consciousness. As soon as you are educated that God is one—the Father is one—and we are all sons, then the whole solution is made.
Is there any significance to the dreams of us souls caught up in the dream of material life?
By Drutakarma Dasa
WITH THE SUN going down, the subtropical heat of the day had abated somewhat. The gentlemen I was coming to meet were seated secluded at a table in a private corner of the patio of the most expensive hotel in the capital. A fountain hissed and gurgled. The fragrance of frangipani flowers filled the air. When I approached, the three debonair party officials stood up to greet me. When I say party, I do not mean the parties you see on the election ballots—I mean the party, the one behind all the others, whether they know it or not. We were all wearing light-colored, crisply pressed tropical suits, with silk shirts and understated ties. None of us was older than forty-five, and I was in my thirties. I shook hands all around, noticing the expensive rings and aristocratic wrists with diamond-inlaid gold watches like my own. This was my introduction to the party's inner circle.
My patron was there smiling, his eyes crinkling at the corners, his white teeth flashing under his neatly trimmed moustache. He was smoothly making the introductions.
We all sat down at a table topped with tinted glass as drinks arrived on a silver platter, brought by a waiter who quickly disappeared. The gentlemen exchanged remarks about cars and tennis, and then the talk shaded into business.
Quite nonchalantly, the most highly placed party member mentioned I would be elected head of one of the minor public parties and then to a key parliamentary seat. My party would be taken into the government coalition, and I would become a minister, a popular one. All three were looking at me. Then the high party official smiled, leaned toward me, and said quietly, "And then ... then you will be assassinated."
I looked toward my patron, and he looked back toward me. There was an uncomfortable silence. They were all three looking at me. "Fine," I said, smiling coolly. "Fine." And I sipped my drink. Everyone relaxed and smiled. It felt good to be in the inner circle.
Then I woke up. Talk about a weird dream! Where did that one come from?
Perhaps from a past life. In ancient times, the great sage Narada once told King Pracinabarhisat: "Sometimes we suddenly experience in dreams something never yet seen or heard of in the present body. My dear king, a living being develops all kinds of thoughts and images because of his previous body. Take this from me as certain. One cannot concoct anything mentally without having perceived it before."
So was I an ambitious, conniving young politician in some past life, involved in some great triple-layered intrigue that ended in my death? I don't know for certain, but, considering my dream, the thought has sometimes crossed my mind. After all, in the younger years of my present life I entered the George Washington University school of foreign affairs, determined to join one of the nation's intelligence services. Perhaps that was the last sputtering remnant of some cabalistic karma fizzling itself out.
Of course, I also wanted to be a novelist, philosopher, and poet. And let's not forget tragic lover and mystic devotee of the Hidden God.
Dreams Of A Golden Mountain
Dreams and past lives. I like the way my spiritual master, Srila Prabhupada, explains it: "Sometimes in dreams we think that we are flying in the sky, although we have no experience of flying. This means that once in a previous life, either as a demigod or astronaut, we flew in the sky. The impression is there in the stockpile of the mind, and it suddenly expresses itself. It is like fermentation taking place in the depths of water, which sometimes manifests itself in bubbles on the water's surface."
The impressions stored within my mind may come not only from my previous human bodies but also from previous nonhuman bodies.
But my dream, the one described above, was obviously from a human lifetime, though perhaps not a previous one. Dream images can also come from the present life. In this life, I definitely haven't gone through the situation played out in my dream. But perhaps my mind used a variety of images, like from some long-forgotten spy films or conspiracy novels, to put together that scene. Narada Muni explains that images within the mind "appear together in different combinations; therefore these images sometimes appear as things never seen or heard before."
Srila Prabhupada gives a nice example: "Sometimes we may see a golden mountain, and this is due to our having experienced gold and mountains separately. In the dream, under illusion, we combine these separate factors. In this way we are able to see golden mountains." So perhaps my dream was just such a concocted illusion, a golden mountain.
But there is yet another possibility. The dream could be the hint of a future body. The mind not only stockpiles images from past material bodies but also serves as the reservoir of desires that generate future bodies. Ending the soul's entanglement in the cycle of birth and death requires dissolving or depleting one's stock of material desires. One way this can take place is through dreams. So perhaps I was destined in some future life to become a conniving young politician who would be killed in an intrigue. And because I have taken to Krsna consciousness, I experienced that karmic tangle in a dream instead of in real life.
Dreams Within Dreams
The connection between dreams and physical reality is curious. Dreams occur in the mind, and yet they are linked with the body. If the body has not reached a certain stage of development, certain kinds of dreams won't occur, even though the images for them may be stored within the mind, either from this life or from past lives. For example, Srila Prabhupada says, "Because of undeveloped senses, a child or boy will not see a young woman in his dreams." But when the senses are more fully developed, the situation changes. "In a dream a young man may experience the presence of a young woman." And this mental dream experience may trigger a reaction in the physical body: "The senses may act, and there may be a seminal discharge."
A more esoteric dream-related phenomenon is travel in the astral, or subtle material, body. Sometimes when I am dreaming and am suddenly awakened, I have the sense of being pulled from some distant place back into my physical body. Was I really out there? I don't know, but Srila Prabhupada once said, "When we dream, our body lies on the bed, but we go somewhere else."
The potential for astral travel exists because the conscious soul is different from the material body. During a dream we may be aware of an astral body. And our waking experience of our material bodies somewhat resembles our experience of the bodies taken on in dreams. Think about it carefully, and you'll see what I mean.
Srila Prabhupada talked about this with Dr. Karlfried Graf von Durckheim, a spiritually oriented German analytic psychologist: "When we dream, we forget the body lying on the bed. We act in different bodies and in different locations. Similarly, during the day we forget our dream bodies in which we traveled to so many places. Perhaps in our dream bodies we flew in the sky. At night we forget our waking body, and in the daytime we forget our dream body. But our conscious self, the soul, still exists, and we remain aware of our existence in both bodies. Therefore we must conclude that we are not any of these bodies. For some time we exist in a certain body, then we forget it. So the body is really only a mental structure, somewhat like a dream, but the self is different from all these mental structures."
So the body and circumstances of my waking state of material consciousness are also like parts of a dream. And my night dreams are then like dreams within dreams.
And to go one step further, this whole universe is said to be a transcendental dream machine. "This material creation," Srila Prabhupada says, "is the spirit soul's dream. When the soul wants to imitate the Supreme Personality of Godhead, he is put into this dreamland of material creation."
Sometimes Krsna enters within the dreamland of maya, illusion, just to encourage us to wake up. In a well-known Bengali song by Bhaktivinoda Thakura, Lord Krsna in His incarnation as Lord Caitanya says, "Wake up, sleeping souls! Wake up, sleeping souls! You have slept so long on the lap of the witch Maya."
When awakened from material dreams, one may have spiritual dreams, such as dreams of Krsna, dreams of Krsna's incarnations, dreams of Krsna's devotees.
About six hundred years ago, the great devotee Madhavendra Puri traveled alone to the sacred place called Vrndavana, where Krsna had appeared on earth thousands of years before. One night, Krsna appeared to Madhavendra Puri in a dream and revealed that in His form as a Deity He lay buried in a nearby jungle. Upon awakening, Madhavendra Puri and some villagers went to the spot revealed in the dream and uncovered the Deity. Madhavendra Puri installed the Deity on the top of Govardhana Hill and worshiped Him with great opulence and devotion. This is an example of a devotee's receiving instruction from Krsna in a dream.
Another kind of dream about Krsna involves a devotee named Pundarika Vidyanidhi, who lived in the town of Puri at the time of Lord Caitanya. In Puri there is a temple of Jagannatha, the Lord of the Universe. When Pundarika Vidyanidhi noticed some deficiency in the temple worship, he became somewhat angry and critical. In a dream, Lord Jagannatha later expressed His displeasure with Pundarika's attitude by slapping him on the cheek. When Pundarika Vidyanidhi awoke, he found his cheeks actually swollen from the slaps delivered in the dream by Lord Jagannatha.
Dreams may also offer premonitions. Jagannatha Misra and his wife, Saci, were to be the father and mother of Lord Caitanya. Before the Lord's appearance, Jagannatha Misra told Saci, "In a dream I saw the effulgent abode of the Lord enter my heart. From my heart it entered your heart. I therefore understand that a great personality will soon take birth."
Five thousand years ago, when Lord Krsna was present on earth, the city of Mathura was ruled by the impious king Kamsa. Kamsa was destined to be killed by Krsna. In Krsna, the Supreme Personality of Godhead, Srila Prabhupada wrote about Kamsa: "In dream he saw various kinds of ghosts being carried in a carriage drawn by donkeys. He also dreamed that someone gave him poison and he was drinking it. He dreamed also that he was going naked with a garland of flowers and was smearing oil all over his body." Kamsa understood these images to be signs of his impending violent death.
Another kind of transcendental dream involves seeing at a distance. Usa, the beautiful daughter of the demon Banasura, lived in a well-guarded palace, in which she was kept by her father, away from the eyes of men. One night she dreamed she was enjoying the company of a handsome young man she had never seen before. Suddenly she awoke from her dream and exclaimed in the presence of her girlfriends, who were sleeping nearby, "My dear beloved, where are you?"
To her friend Citralekha, Usa explained, "My dear friend, in my dream I saw a nice young man who is very, very beautiful. His bodily features are so pleasing that any young girl would be attracted. I feel much pride in saying that this beautiful young man was kissing me and I was very much enjoying the nectar of his kissing. But I am sorry to inform you that after this he disappeared, and I have been thrown into the whirlpool of disappointment. My dear friend, I am very anxious to find this wonderful young man, the desired lord of my heart."
Citralekha assisted her by drawing pictures of various persons—humans, demigods, and members of the Vrsni dynasty, to which Lord Krsna belonged. One of the pictures made Usa very bashful. Srila Prabhupada writes, "Citralekha was a great mystic yogini, and as soon as Usa identified the picture, although neither of them had ever seen him or known his name, Citralekha could immediately understand that the picture was of Aniruddha, a grandson of Krsna."
Dreaming Of The Spiritual Master
Sometimes pure devotees receive instructions from their spiritual master in dreams. This happened with Srila Prabhupada. For most of his adult life, Srila Prabhupada, born Abhay Charan De, lived with his wife and children. In Vedic culture it is customary for a man to give up his family attachments in later years and enter sannyasa, the renounced order of spiritual life. Srila Prabhupada was reluctant to do this. But in 1944, when Prabhupada was forty-eight years old, his spiritual master, Srila Bhaktisiddhanta Sarasvati, appeared to him in a dream, calling him to give up life at home and take sannyasa.
In the biography of Srila Prabhupada, Satsvarupa Dasa Goswami writes, "Abhay awoke in an intensely emotional state. 'How horrible!' he thought. He knew it was not an ordinary dream, yet the request seemed so difficult and unlikely. Take sannyasa! At least it was not something he could do immediately.... He went on with his duties, but remained shaken by the dream."
In 1948, Bhaktisiddhanta Sarasvati again appeared to Srila Prabhupada in a dream and indicated he should take sannyasa. But once more, the time was not yet right.
In 1958, Srila Bhaktisiddhanta appeared to Srila Prabhupada yet again, beckoning him to take sannyasa. Sat-svarupa Dasa Goswami writes, "Abhay awoke in a state of wonder. He thought of this instruction as another feature of the original instruction Srila Bhaktisiddhanta Sarasvati had given him at their first meeting in Calcutta, the same instruction that his spiritual master had later solidified in a letter: become an English preacher and spread Krsna consciousness throughout the Western world.... Abhay reasoned that his spiritual master was saying, 'Now take sannyasa and you will actually be able to accomplish this mission. Formerly the time was not right.' "
In 1959, Srila Prabhupada did take sannyasa, and in 1965 he set out for America, sailing on the Indian freighter Jaladuta. During the voyage, he went through seasickness and severe chest pains that might have been heart attacks. On the second night of these attacks, Srila Prabhupada had a dream, which Satsvarupa Dasa Goswami describes: "Lord Krsna, in His many forms, was rowing a boat, and He told Srila Prabhupada that he should not fear, but should come along. Prabhupada felt assured of Lord Krsna's protection, and the violent attacks did not recur."
Many times Srila Prabhupada's disciples would, and still do, dream of him. In 1970 Srila Prabhupada wrote this interesting line in a letter to his disciple Sudama, who was trying to start a temple in Tokyo: "Actually, I was thinking of you from London, and by the grace of Krsna my anxiety was televisioned to you in your dream."
I too have had rare dreams of Srila Prabhupada, as well as dreams of temple Deities and of ISKCON devotees. I have not received any instructions I can recognize in these dreams. But I do regard them as auspicious transcendental signs.
Where does all this leave me? I consider myself still somewhat caught up in the dream of material life. But I am waking up. I have not completely awakened to my original spiritual identity, but I think I someday will. Srila Prabhupada often said that we wake up from the dream of material life by the power of transcendental sound—the Hare Krsna mantra and the words of the Vedic literature—which may be compared to a transcendental alarm clock. Well, I can hear the alarm clock. I can sense that I should be waking up, and I have some idea of what it is I should be waking to, but my mind is still clinging steadfastly to the remnants of my dream of material life. My real dream, though, is to someday place my mind completely at the lotus feet of Krsna.
In his waking life, Drutakarma Dasa is an associate editor of Back to Godhead and is co-author of the book Forbidden Archeology: The Hidden History of the Human Race, recently published by the Bhaktivedanta Institute.
Arjuna: The Greatest Archer
Full dedication to his guru makes Arjuna the best of Drona's students.
By Hridayananda Dasa Goswami
The sage Vaisampayana, speaking to King Janamejaya, tells the history of the brahmana Drona, who will become the teacher of the Pandavas. As the Mahabharata continues, Drona visits his former friend and classmate Drupada, who has now become a king.
My dear king, the mighty Drona, son of Bharadvaja, approached Drupada, son of Prsata, and said, "O king, know me to be your friend Drona."
[Drupada was embarrassed by the raggedy brahmana who had addressed him in such an intimate way. Not realizing that his old friend had acquired extraordinary weapons from Lord Parasurama, the king replied to Drona unkindly.]
Brahmana, your understanding of things is not very mature, nor is it at all sound, for you come in such a forward manner and tell me that I am your intimate friend. Nowhere at all, O simple one, do we find such friendship between exalted monarchs and persons bereft of opulence and wealth. Close friendships fade away in time, for men themselves are worn out by time. Your intimate friendship with me was justified and proper in the past because we were both students in a similar situation. But nowhere in this world do we ever see friendship that does not suffer the effects of aging. Selfish desires pull friendship apart, and anger cuts it to pieces. You should not depend so much on aging friendships, but rather find new ones for yourself.
O best of the twice-born, you and I once enjoyed a friendship because it was practical at that time. A poor man cannot be the friend of an affluent man, nor a weak man a friend to a hero. What is the value of a friend of the past? When two people have similar wealth and are born in families of similar nobility, there can be friendship and marital ties between them, but not between the rich and the poor.
An unschooled man cannot be a friend to a scholar, nor can a man with no chariot be a friend to a chariot warrior. Kings do not fraternize with nonroyalty. What need is there for a friend of the past?
The Pandavas Accept Drona As Their Teacher
When the mighty Drona was thus addressed by King Drupada, fury filled his heart, and he pondered for a moment. Setting his mind against the king of Pancala, the clever sage then journeyed to Hastinapura, the capital of the Kuru leaders.
As he was arriving, the young Pandava princes, coming out of the city together, ran happily about, playing and batting a ball with a stick. As they sported, the ball fell into a well, and they could find no means to get the ball back. Seeing the boys trying to get their ball, powerful Drona chuckled at the scene and rebuked them in a friendly way.
"Look at that!" Drona said. "Shame on your warrior strength! Shame on your skill with weapons! You who are born in the line of King Bharata cannot even get back your ball. Here is a handful of arrows made of reeds; I have empowered them by chanting military mantras. Now watch and see the strength of these arrows, which no other arrows possess. I shall pierce your ball with a reed-arrow, and I shall pierce that arrow with another, and that with another, till I form a chain connecting your ball to my hand."
Eyes wide open with wonder, the boys looked on as Drona proceeded to pull up the ball.
Having seen this, the boys said to the man who had rescued their ball with such skill, "O brahmana, we salute you; no one else can do that. Who are you? How shall we address you, and what can we do to serve you?"
Tell your grandfather Bhisma about me, what I look like, and what I have done. He is most intelligent and will correctly ascertain my identity.
"So be it," they said, and they all went and told grandfather Bhisma exactly what the brahmana had said, and especially what he had done. Hearing from the boys, Bhisma knew that the brahmana was Drona, and he thought, "Such a qualified person is the right man to teach these boys."
Grandfather Bhisma, the greatest of swordsmen, then personally fetched Drona with much honor and questioned him in a delicate manner. Drona submitted all the reasons for his coming to Hastinapura.
"O unfailing Bhisma," Drona began, "in the past I went to the great saint Agni-vesya to get skill in weapons, for I wanted to master the military science. Anxious to acquire skill in the Dhanur Veda, I lived with him for a long time, many years in fact, as a humble and celibate student with matted locks of hair.
"The son of the Pancala king, a powerful boy then named Yajna-sena, was also there, and we studied together under our guru with great endeavor and concentration. That boy became my dear friend, and he would always help me in any way he could. I was also attached to his friendship, and we kept company together for a long time, from our childhood up through our student years.
"O Kauravya, he used to approach me to do kind things and speak kind words. He would say things, Bhisma, that made my affection for him grow. He would say, 'Drona, I am the most dear son of my father, and when he installs me on the royal throne of Pancala, then, I swear to you, my friend, the kingdom will be yours to enjoy. My property and wealth will be at your disposal, and my royal pleasures will also be yours.'
"After I graduated from my study of weapons and left school to seek an income for my family, I heard that he had been installed as king. I thought, 'Now my purpose is fulfilled.' In a loving mood, I set out to see once more my dear friend. On the way I constantly remembered how we had lived together and all that he had promised me.
"Approaching my old friend Drupada, as he was now called, I said, 'My lord, O tiger of men, it is I, your friend!'
"As I stood there humbly, having come to him in a spirit of loving friendship, he laughed at me as if I were most insignificant and said, 'Brahmana, your understanding of things is not very mature, nor is at all sound, for you to come in such a forward manner and tell me that I am your intimate friend. Nowhere at all, O simple one, do we find such friendship between exalted monarchs and persons bereft of opulence and wealth. An unschooled man cannot be a friend to a scholar, nor a man with no chariot a friend to a chariot warrior. Kings do not fraternize with nonroyalty. What need is there for a friend of the past?'
"When I was thus addressed by King Drupada, fury filled my heart, and I came straight here to the Kuru capital, Bhisma, anxious to find qualified royal students."
Bhisma and the sons of Pandu accepted Drona as guru.
The Story Of Ekalavya
Gathering together all his grandsons, with varieties of riches, Bhisma said, "Here are your disciples." He turned everything over to Drona with proper protocol, and the great archer Drona accepted the Kaurava princes as his disciples.
When they were alone together in a secluded place and the disciples sat at his feet, Drona said to them with great determination, "There is a task that needs to be done, and it ever turns in my heart. Once you have learned weapons, you must execute that task for me. O innocent ones, tell me in truth that you will."
O ruler of the earth, hearing these words the Kaurava princes remained silent. But then Arjuna, the great fighter, promised to give to his guru all that the guru desired. Drona then kissed Arjuna's head again and again, and embracing him with affection wept tears of joy. The powerful Drona then taught the sons of Pandu to use all kinds of divine and human weapons.
Joining the sons of Pandu, kings and princes from the Vrsni and Andhaka dynasties and from many other countries came to Drona, the best of brahmanas, for they were eager to learn the use of weapons. Radheya, an alleged son of a chariot driver, also came to Drona to accept him as guru. Angry by nature, Radheya wanted to defeat Arjuna. With the support of Duryodhana, he insulted the sons of Pandu.
Arjuna consistently endeavored to honor his guru and strived to master the weapons with absolute dedication. He thus became especially dear to Drona.
Once Drona called the cook to a private spot and told him, "Never give Arjuna food in the dark." Thereafter, when Arjuna was once eating by lamp-light the wind blew and extinguished the lamp's flame, but Arjuna continued to eat. He noticed that his hand was not baffled in finding his mouth, because his hand was so accustomed to eating.
So, despite Drona's warning to the cook, Arjuna discovered the effect of constant practice and began to practice shooting at night. O Bharata, Drona heard the reverberating twang of the bow, and rising from bed he approached Arjuna. Embracing him he said, "I shall now teach you in such a way that no bowman in the world will be your equal. I declare this to you in truth!" (1)
Drona then taught Arjuna the art of fighting on foot, on chariots, and on the backs of elephants and horses. He carefully instructed the son of Pandu in the battle of clubs, swords, darts, lances, and javelins, and in the art of combat that mixed weapons.
Witnessing Drona's skill, kings and princes assembled by the thousands, Maharaja, eager to learn the military Veda. Hiranya-dhanu, the Nisadha king, had a son named Ekalavya, who also approached Drona, but the master would not accept him as a student, out of consideration for the others. (2)
[Yet even though Drona had turned him down, Ekalavya did not accept the decision of the master.] The fierce warrior Ekalavya grabbed Drona's feet and placed his own head upon them. He then went to the forest and without the teacher's knowledge or consent crafted out of earthen clay a mystical form of Drona. By unflinching endeavor for power and with a strange faith in this illicit deity, Ekalavya then began to acquire unholy speed in the art of firing arrows.
One day, with Drona's permission, all the Kuru and Pandava princes, who were fierce warriors, set out on their chariots to hunt in the forest. One man carried the paraphernalia of the Pandavas and followed behind them, taking along a dog. As all the princes wandered about, each engaged in his own quest, the foolish dog lost its direction, and while roaming about in the forest the dog approached Ekalavya, the son of the Nisadha king. Staring at the dark Nisadha man, who was covered with dirt and dressed in a black deerskin, the dog kept barking. As the dog barked at him, Ekalavya shot seven arrows into its mouth, so quickly that they seemed to fly all at once.
Its mouth full of shafts, the dog ran back to the Pandavas. When the heroic sons of Pandu saw the hound, they were utterly astonished [for all seven arrows had entered the dog's mouth before the dog could close it]. Realizing the extraordinary quickness required for such a feat, and verifying also by certain symptoms that the bowman had aimed the arrows at the sound of the target, without looking, the princes were humbled, and they praised the feat.
The Pandavas searched the forest for the forest-dweller who had shot the arrows, and they found Ekalavya incessantly hurling his arrows. O king, not recognizing him because of his strange appearance, they inquired, "Who are you, sir, and whom do you serve?"
Please know, my dear warriors, that I am the son of Hiranya-dhanu, the Nisadha king, and that I am a disciple of Drona striving hard to master the Dhanur Veda.
Realizing Ekalavya's identity, the Pandavas returned home and told Drona the entire amazing story. Arjuna in particular kept thinking of Ekalavya. Motivated by love for his teacher, he met Drona in a secluded place and said, "Did you not embrace me once with affection and tell me in private these very words: 'No student of mine shall be better than you?' Why then is there now another student of yours, the son of the Nisadha king, who is a better warrior than I, better indeed than anyone in the world?" (3)
Drona thought for a moment and made his decision. Taking ambidextrous Arjuna with him, he went to see the Nisadha prince. Drona beheld Ekalavya smeared all over with dirt and filth, his hair in matted locks, his garments ragged, and with bow in hand, incessantly firing arrows.
Seeing Drona approaching, Ekalavya came forward, touched his head to the ground, and embraced his master's feet. [Ekalavya had not actually obeyed Drona's order that he couldn't become Drona's disciple, but] now Ekalavya worshiped Drona according to standard procedure. Presenting himself as Drona's disciple, he stood before the great master with hands folded in reverence.
Then, O king, Drona said to Ekalavya, "If indeed you are my disciple, then you must at once give me my fee."
Hearing this, Ekalavya was pleased and said, "What may I offer you, my lord? May my guru command me! O best of Vedic scholars, there is nothing I would not give my guru."
Drona replied, "Give me your right thumb."
Hearing Drona's frightful words, Ekalavya kept his word, for he always made true his vow. His face jubilant and his mind free of remorse, he sliced off his right thumb without hesitation and offered it to Drona. He then continued shooting arrows with his remaining fingers, O king, but not as quickly as before. Arjuna was then free of his intense anxiety, and he was also satisfied, for Drona was now true to his word; (4) now none could defeat Arjuna. (5)
Do You See The Bird?
Among the Kuru princes, Drona had two disciples especially skillful in club-fighting—Duryodhana and Bhima. Asvatthama was best in mystic arts, and the twins Nakula and Sahadeva surpassed all others in sword fighting. Yudhisthira was the best charioteer. But in overall skill, Dhananjaya, Arjuna, was the finest. To the limits of the seas, Arjuna was celebrated as the natural chief of all other military leaders, for in the use of weapons he had strength, daring, and consummate knowledge. Because of his strong devotional link to the Lord, he performed his duty with courage and in full knowledge of the Supreme. (6)
In weaponry as in affection for his teacher, Arjuna towered above all others. Although the same instructions in the use of weaponry were given to all the students, Arjuna alone, by his skill and dedication, received the title Atiratha, "an outstanding chariot fighter." But, O ruler of men, the wicked sons of Dhrtarastra could not stand to see the superior strength displayed by Bhimasena or the perfect knowledge achieved by Arjuna.
When the students of Drona, leader of men, had at last completed their studies, Drona gathered them all together, eager to test their knowledge. He placed atop a tree, where the students could hardly see it, an artificial bird fashioned by craftsmen and pointed it out as the target.
Quickly, all of you take up your bows! Hurry now, fasten your arrows to the bows and take up your positions, aiming at this bird. The instant I give the word, you must cut off its head. Dear sons, as I command each of you, one by one, do just as I say.
Thereupon Drona, the best in the line of Angira, first commanded Yudhisthira, "Fasten your arrow, O invincible one, and when I give the word, let it fly!"
Yudhisthira was thus the first to be tested, and firmly grasping his loud-sounding bow, he stood aiming at the bird, totally fixed on the word of his guru.
O best of the Bharatas, as Yudhisthira, the beloved Kuru prince, stood with his bowstring stretched, Drona paused for a moment and asked him, "O son of noble men, do you see the bird on top of the tree?"
"I see it," replied Yudhisthira.
A moment later, Drona again asked him, "Is it the tree only that you see, or do you also see me and your brothers?"
The son of Kunti replied, "I see the large tree, and you, sir, and also my brothers as well as the bird."
Drona pressed him on this very point; again and again Yudhisthira gave the same answer. Drona was not pleased, and he said in a scolding voice, "You may leave the shooting ring, for you cannot hit the target!"
The illustrious teacher then tested all the sons of Dhrtarastra, headed by Duryodhana, asking the same questions. Then he tested his other disciples, headed by Bhima, and the kings of various countries, but all replied, "We see everything you have mentioned." And all were similarly rebuked by the master.
Then, smiling, Drona spoke to Dhananjaya, Arjuna: "Listen, you must strike this target, releasing your arrow the very instant you hear my command! Now, bend your bow and wait for that moment."
Thus addressed, the ambidextrous Arjuna bent his bow and stood there aiming at the target, awaiting his guru's command. As before, Drona paused for a moment and then asked, "Do you see the bird on the tree, or do you see me?"
Arjuna replied, "I see the bird. I see neither you nor the tree."
Drona was pleased. A moment later the mighty teacher spoke again to the greatest Pandava warrior, "If you see the bird, then speak more about it."
"I only see the bird's head, not its body."
At this reply by Arjuna, Drona's hair stood on end out of sheer joy, and he ordered Arjuna, "Shoot!" Arjuna shot his shaft without hesitation, and the razor-sharp arrowhead cut off the bird's head and knocked it to the ground. Seeing Arjuna execute the command perfectly, Drona embraced him. Drona considered King Drupada and his associates already defeated in battle.
Drona Awards Arjuna The Brahmastra
O best of the Bharatas, some time later Drona, the leader of the Angira line, accompanied his disciples as they bathed in the Ganges. As Drona bathed, a powerful crocodile living in those waters grabbed him by the shin, prompted by destiny. Although able to free himself, Drona called out to his disciples, "Kill the crocodile and save me! Quickly!"
The very instant his guru spoke, the terrifying warrior Arjuna struck the submerged beast with a rush of five razor-sharp shafts while the other princes were still rushing about in utter confusion. Seeing Arjuna in action, Drona was delighted, and he deemed the son of Pandu the best of his disciples.
Cut into numerous pieces by Arjuna's arrows, the crocodile released Drona's shin and relinquished life.
Drona then said to the great soul and fighter Arjuna, "O mighty-armed one, take from me the best of all weapons, the invincible brahmastra, complete with the means for launching and withdrawing it. Under no circumstances is it to be used against human beings, for if launched against an enemy of little strength the excess fire of this weapon can burn up the cosmos. It is said that there is no equal to this weapon in all the worlds, so guard it carefully. Heed this instruction: If ever any nonhuman enemy should put you into difficulty, O hero, then you are to unleash this weapon and kill him in battle."
"So be it!" said the frightening Arjuna, promising his teacher with folded hands.
When Arjuna accepted the weapon, his guru again declared to him, "There is no man in this world who will equal you in a trial of bows."
1. It is said that Drona originally tried to favor his son and make him the pre-eminent warrior, but then, seeing Arjuna's devotion, the master made this vow to Arjuna.
2. Drona worried about the consequences of his revealing such potent knowledge to the future leader of an uncivilized people like the Nisadhas.
3. It was not from pride that Arjuna desired to be the best, but from love for his teacher; he wanted his master's word to be kept and his prestige as a guru thus sustained. Arjuna was also destined to protect the principles of justice, and if his teacher revealed advanced military secrets to unfit persons, Arjuna and his brothers could not perform their divine mission of removing the wicked and reestablishing virtue on the earth.
4. An essential trait for a respectable man of the time.
5. See "Ekalavya's Fault," page 33.
6.Thus buddhi-yoga means intelligence that leads to engagement in the service of the Lord. The term buddhi-yoga is elaborately explained in the Bhagavad-gita. See, for example, Bhagavad-gita 10.10.
SRILA BHAKTISIDDHANTA Sarasvati Thakura, in his book of essays entitled Upakhyane Upadesa, "Instructions in Stories" (Gaudiya Mission, 1936), gives the following commentary on the story of Ekalavya*:
[*Translated from Bengali by Bhakti Caru Swami]
To many people, Ekalavya's devotion to his guru is ideal, but there is a special consideration. What was Ekalavya's fault? That should be considered. Wearing the mask of guru-bhakti (devotion to the guru), Ekalavya revolted against his guru. Whether his guru actually considered him disqualified by birth in a low-class family, or was simply testing him—for whatever reason—when his guru refused to teach him the art of Dhanur Veda, Ekalavya was dutybound to accept the instruction of his spiritual master. But Ekalavya did not like that. He wanted to become great. He needed a guru to be considered bona fide, or perhaps it would not be possible to become great without accepting a guru. With these considerations Ekalavya formed an imaginary or clay material form of the guru.
Ekalavya's main intention was to learn Dhanur Veda and become great. He wanted to satisfy his own senses. He did not want to sacrifice himself to the will of his guru. That was not his honest desire.
Some may say that ultimately Ekalavya accepted the cruel order of his guru without protest. But if we consider this issue more carefully and deeply, we can see that Ekalavya considered mundane morality greater than transcendental devotion. To offer daksina to the guru when he asks for it is a moral code. Ekalavya's sense of morality inspired him to cut off his thumb. He did not offer the daksina with spontaneous devotion. (Otherwise, he would have accepted the guru's first order.)
Real devotion is simple and spontaneous. If Ekalavya had unconditional and natural devotion for Hari (God), guru, and Vaisnava (the devotee of the Lord), then the guru, Dronacarya, and the best of Vaisnavas, Arjuna, and the Supreme Personality of Godhead, Krsna, would not have been dissapointed by Ekalavya's behavior.
Ekalavya's endeavor to learn the Dhanur Veda and his desire to become great were not accepted by his guru. In the core of Ekalavya's heart, he desired to become better than the best of Vaisnavas, Arjuna. The desire to become greater than the Vaisnavas is not devotion.
By mundane consideration the desire to become great is a good desire. But devotion is the effort to remain submissive to the Vaisnavas. Ekalavya wanted his skill to be greater than that acquired by learning the Vedic wisdom directly from a bona fide spiritual master, as Arjuna had done. By asking Dronacarya to do something about Ekalavya, Arjuna showed Ekalavya that Ekalavya's approach to learning the Vedic science was wrong. If Arjuna had not mercifully pointed that out to him, impersonalism would have prevailed. To learn sciences and devotions, people would have created imaginary, mundane, unconscious gurus instead of approaching a bona fide guru.
So Arjuna took care that such an atheistic principle not be established. Arjuna was not envious of Ekalavya. Arjuna's action was a manifestation of his mercy toward Ekalavya and the whole world. If Ekalavya had been an unalloyed devotee of his guru, Krsna would not have destroyed such a guru-bhakta, an earnest disciple of the guru. Krsna always protects His devotees. But Ekalavya was killed by the hand of Krsna. That is what finally happened to Ekalavya. Sri Caitanya Mahaprabhu said that we cannot judge a devotee just by seeing his external austerities. The demons also perform austerities, even more than the demigods.
Ekalavya wanted to become greater than a Vaisnava, against his guru's desire. That is why he was killed by Krsna and ultimately given impersonal liberation. Only the demons are killed by Krsna, and the devotees always protected. Hiranyakasipu and Prahlada are the proof. Therefore we should never try to become greater than Vaisnavas and, wearing a mask of guru-bhakti, actually become an impersonalist. That is what we should learn from the example of Ekalavya. Proficiency in performing activities is not a symptom of guru-bhakti, devotion to the guru. Bhakti means remaining subordinate and submissive to the Lord's loving servants, the Vaisnavas.
Though the sacred sound om is often associated with impersonalists, only the devotees understand its full import.
By Karuppiah Chockalingam
THROUGHOUT THE VEDAS there is much mention of the syllable om. This spiritual vibration, which is sometimes called omkara or pranava, comprises three Sanskrit sounds—a, u, and ma (the a in ma is silent). When these three sounds are combined, the result is the single-syllabled vibration om.
An unusual attribute of om is that it has no direct translation from Sanskrit into English. And though every Vedantist will accept om to be a representation of God, exactly how om is viewed differs according to various schools of thought. These schools can be classified into two main categories, the Mayavadi, or impersonalist, and the Vaisnava, or devotee.
The impersonalist, as the name suggests, is happy to treat om as an impersonal, formless representation of the Absolute Truth. Therefore, the Mayavadi will very openly chant om, being careful to avoid names such as Krsna and Rama, which, according to them, are limited. A Mayavadi might explain his theory of pranava om like this: "Since this whole universe has been created by Him (God), whatever there is in the universe is Him alone. As such, He has no name. But if He has to have a name, then all names are His, for He alone is appearing in all forms. The first sound in most languages is a; the last sound to leave as our mouth closes is m; u is the center of the two. Together, they represent all the basic sounds from which words are produced. And therefore, these three sounds, making up the syllable om, represent the entire universe of names and forms."
Using such reasoning, the impersonalist concludes that the holy name Krsna is ultimately no different from any other word one can dream up. Om, says the impersonalist, contains all sounds, and so it is the universal sound, whereas "Krsna" and "Rama" are limited.
All Vaisnavas know, however, that such speculation on the Lord's holy name is one of the ten worst offenses one can commit at His lotus feet (tathartha vadah). Lord Caitanya, therefore, has repeatedly warned us to steer clear of such offenders, or pasandis.
What Does Omkara Mean To Vaisnavas?
The Gosvamis of Vrndavana have analyzed om (a-u-m) as follows: The letter a refers to Krsna, the master of all planets and all living entities. The letter u indicates Srimati Radharani, the pleasure potency of Krsna, and m indicates the living entities. Thus omkara represents Krsna; His name, fame, pastimes, potencies, and devotees; and everything else pertaining to Him.
To the devotees of the Lord, there is no difference between chanting His holy name and reciting omkara, for Krsna has stated in Bhagavad-gita (7.8, 9.17, 10.25) that omkara is He Himself in the form of sound. Just as omkara is non-different from the Lord's holy name, it is also inseparable from the Lord's beautiful two-armed form as Syamasundara. Pranava om is therefore used in the Vedas and Upanisads to address the Supreme Person—Vasudeva, or Krsna.
Thus, omkara serves no other purpose than to remind the devotee of Krsna. Srila Prabhupada confirms this fact in a purport to Srimad-Bhagavatam (9.14.48) wherein he states that just as Hare Krsna addresses the Lord together with His energy, so too does omkara.
It is therefore clearly evident that om refers to the Supreme Personality of Godhead, Krsna. Yet, surprisingly enough, the Mayavadis are not altogether wrong in thinking that omkara possesses no form. Where's the catch?
Three Angles From Which Om May Be Viewed
Omkara, like Krsna, can be realized or viewed from three angles, as Brahman, Paramatma, and Bhagavan. The speculative Mayavadi knows omkara to be nothing beyond Brahman, or spiritual, and at the same time without shape or form. The mystic yogi sees whatever the Mayavadi sees but also realizes that omkara is situated within the heart of everyone as Paramatma, or the Supersoul. And the Vaisnava knows all that the other two transcendentalists know, but he also realizes that it is the personal aspect of omkara, Bhagavan, that makes the other two aspects possible.
Srila Prabhupada likened these three features of the Lord to the sunlight, the sun globe, and the sun-god residing within the sun. If I were studying the sun, would my knowledge be complete if I could research no further than the sunlight or the sun globe? Some material scientists might answer yes, but a more intelligent person would want to know, "Where does the sunlight come from?" or "What gives the sun its power to shine?" Just as one automatically knows about the sunlight and sun globe the moment he learns that the sun-god, Vivasvan, is the source of both, so one realizes omkara completely when one understands that om ultimately possesses form. Srila Prabhupada highlights this important fact in a purport to Srimad-Bhagavatam (8.3.2).
The understanding of the impersonalist philosopher, though not altogether incorrect, is therefore incomplete. The devotee or Vaisnava, however, knows omkara in truth.
Hare Krsna And Om—The Same In All Respects?
Though Hare Krsna and om are equally potent sound forms of the Lord, there is one difference. If at the time of death one chants Hare Krsna, even though unintentionally, one attains the spiritual Vaikuntha planets without a doubt. This is a universal truth that has been accepted by all great authorities. If, however, one similarly chants om, not thinking of Krsna, one attains to the impersonal brahmajyoti sky of the spiritual world but does not associate with Krsna. This fact is confirmed in Bhagavad-gita (8.11).
One may ask why, if omkara is ultimately personal, one shouldn't reciprocate with Krsna personally on leaving one's body with om on one's tongue. The answer is that it is possible to chant om and go to Krsna but the process involves much more than simply externally uttering om.
According to the Gita (8.13), those who chant om and at the same time remember Krsna while leaving the body do indeed go to the Vaikuntha planets:
om ity ekaksaram brahma
"After being situated in this yoga practice and vibrating the sacred syllable om, the supreme combination of letters, if one thinks of the Supreme Personality of Godhead and quits his body, he will certainly reach the spiritual planets."
In a purport to Srimad-Bhagavatam (7.15.31) Srila Prabhupada informs us that to fix the turbulent, restless mind upon Krsna at the moment of death while thus uttering om, there are certain rules one must follow. These rules are listed in Bhagavad-gita (6.11, 8.12). For example, one must sit in a certain precise posture, cease all the activities of the senses, fix the mind on the heart, and fix the life air at the top of the head.
In addition to all this, Prabhupada points out that only brahmanas, or those in the mode of goodness, can properly recite om. When one chants om after having fulfilled all these prerequisites, only then can he reap the same result as he would have received from inadvertently chanting Hare Krsna.
Then Why Such A Thing As Om?
Since both the Lord's holy name and omkara are transcendental sound vibrations, what then is the purpose of omkara?
Krsna, being all-knowing, could clearly understand that there will al-ways be a class of people called avyakta-sakta cetasam, or those attached to His impersonal aspect. Since such impersonalists have no solid name or form to fix their minds upon, Krsna has provided them with pranava om.
Since om has no direct meaning or refers to no particular form, the Mayavadis assume, without complete knowledge, that the Absolute Truth is beyond all names and forms. To make the Mayavadis think this way was Krsna's intention, for not everyone is capable of acknowledging the Lord's transcendental name and form. Thus, their minds being absorbed in impersonal om, the Mayavadis ultimately merge with the unmanifest brahmajyoti effulgence of the Lord, a type of liberation called sayujya-mukti.
Though sayujya-mukti ensures freedom from material misery, the Vaisnavas consider it no better than hell, for in such a state there is no reciprocation with the lotus feet of the Lord. Consequently, the pure devotees are very careful to see omkara in the light of His beautiful form.
Devotees Spread Only The Holy Name
The pure devotee, whose mind is fixed twenty-four hours a day on the form of the Lord, rises above all rules and requirements for chanting om. Such a devotee, having transcended the three modes of material nature, goes beyond even the qualifications of a brahmana. Thus the devotee's chanting of om is pure, whereas a Mayavadi, who cannot relate omkara to Krsna, chants om being submerged, to a certain extent, in ignorance. Those who actually follow every prerequisite and recite om as directed by Krsna are generally those mystic yogis who, as previously discussed, are more inclined to inner meditation on Krsna as Paramatma than to pure devotional service.
Although all Vaisnavas are more than qualified to freely chant om, the Gaudiya Vaisnavas, devotees of Lord Caitanya, seldom do so. As mentioned earlier, one must be a qualified brahmana to chant om properly. Most people in this Age of Kali are no better than sudras (kalau sudra-sambhavah). Therefore, the Vaisnavas, who care only for the welfare of others, do not very much promote the chanting of omkara. Instead, they particularly promote the chanting of Hare Krsna.
As explained by Sri Caitanya Mahaprabhu, niyamitah smarane na kalah: the requirements for chanting Hare Krsna are absolutely none. Therefore, the only practical means of spiritual advancement for all of us fallen souls of Kali-yuga turns out, once again, to be the chanting of the maha-mantra: Hare Krsna, Hare Krsna, Krsna Krsna, Hare Hare/ Hare Rama, Hare Rama, Rama Rama, Hare Hare.
Our revered institutions of higher learning are reinforcing our ignorance.
From a lecture by Giriraja Swami
"Modern psychologists can study the activities of the mind—thinking, feeling and willing—but they are unable to go deep into the matter. This is due to their lack of knowledge and to their not being associated with the liberated acarya [spiritual master]. Guided by so-called psychologists and philosophers, people in the modern age do not know the activities of the subtle body and thus cannot understand what is meant by the transmigration of the soul. In these matters we have to take the authorized statements of the Bhagavad-gita. Unless all human society understands Bhagavad-gita, civilization will advance in ignorance, not in knowledge."
(Srimad-Bhagavatam 4.29.75, purport)
Here Srila Prabhupada explains simultaneously the process of knowledge and the process of ignorance. Lord Krsna explains the same subject in the thirteenth chapter of the Bhagavad-gita. He lists twenty items that constitute the process of knowledge, of which one is central, mayi canyena-yogena bhaktir avyabhicarini: unalloyed and unbroken devotional service.
This is the actual process of knowledge, and all the others items of knowledge have value only in relation to the basic principle of pure devotional service. In conclusion Lord Krsna states that anything apart from the process of knowledge is ignorance.
By the definition of knowledge given in the Gita and here by Srila Prabhupada, most of what passes as knowledge in the material world is not actually knowledge. It is ignorance. People think they are culturing vidya, jnana—knowledge—but actually they are culturing avidya, ajnana—ignorance. Why? Because they have not understood the first instruction of Bhagavad-gita: I am not the body.
Most people in this world think, "I am the body," and the schools reinforce the same idea: "You are the body." One devotee friend told me that in school he was taught repeatedly, "You are not American, you are Canadian. You are not American, you are Canadian." This is not knowledge. This is ignorance—to identify with the body. And schools all over the world reinforce the same bodily concept of life, and thus entangle the students (who in turn become teachers) in material existence. Neither students nor teachers know the basic fact: "I am not the body."
Sometimes we are impressed by how much the materialists have increased their information, but Srila Prabhupada explains that they're just going further and further from the truth. He has given the example that if one is performing a mathematical calculation and makes a mistake in the first step, even if he performs all the other steps perfectly for hundreds and thousands of steps, he'll go further and further from the actual solution.
The first step is to know who we are. If we mistakenly think "I am the body," and then do everything perfectly for the body, we get further and further away from the goal, which is self-realization or God-realization and which brings real happiness. We want to be happy, but when we try to be happy on the bodily platform, we suffer. Only if we understand, "I am not the body, I am a spiritual soul, an eternal servant of Krsna," and act accordingly, can we achieve actual happiness.
So we should not become bewildered or impressed by the materialists' so-called display of knowledge. Because they have missed the basic point, they are just going further and further away from the goal.
Here Srila Prabhupada cites the philosophers and psychologists. I've had some experience with them in the university, first in the department of philosophy, where they were more interested in linguistics and word jugglery than in the goal of life. Philosophy should discuss the goal of life. But here they were mainly discussing words. Then I transferred to the department of psychology, where I studied under one of the most famous psychologists in America, Abraham Maslow. In one class he described how one morning he woke up and was shivering and experiencing so many symptoms he didn't know what was happening to him. Finally he consulted one psychologist friend, and the friend said, "You're having an anxiety attack." Professor Maslow commented that he had written chapters on anxiety attacks but when he actually had one he couldn't recognize it. So I could see there's a big difference between theoretical knowledge and realized knowledge, even on the material platform. He had no realization.
Then within the department there were two groups: the behaviorists, or rat psychologists, who study stimulus and response and don't even consider consciousness, and the humanistic psychologists, who want to see to the welfare of the whole human being. But the two groups used to fight like cats and dogs over the budget (who would get the greater share) and over appointments (whether a behaviorist or a humanist would be appointed). They would really fight like cats and dogs and get so upset. So I saw that although they may have good theories, they have no realization. Later, when I met the devotees, I realized that even the theories weren't good. But at the time I thought, "Even if they have good theories, what is the use if there is no practical result. They are as petty and quarrelsome as anyone else." So I lost faith in philosophers and psychologists both.
And the psychologists had so many speculative methods. They had "T-groups," training groups, where people used to sit together in a room and say everything that was inside of them. For example, if you hated someone in the room, you weren't supposed to keep it inside. You were supposed to say, "I hate you." They had so many speculative theories, which had very little effect on me.
Still, I am indebted to them for one reason: One of the psychology professors invited Srila Prabhupada to speak in the auditorium there. And that was the first chance I had to see Srila Prabhupada.
Although the psychologists' techniques made very little impression on me, when I came into the auditorium I was impressed. Satsvarupa Maharaja, who was temple president then, was leading kirtana on the stage, and Prabhupada was sitting in the middle of the stage on a raised seat, the devotees dancing in a circle around him. The modern auditorium had bare brick walls inside, and the sound of the kirtana was reverberating off the walls. Students from the audience were jumping up from their seats, climbing on the stage and joining the kirtana, dancing in the circle around Srila Prabhupada. That made an impression. And when I spoke to the devotees after the program, I knew they knew the truth.
After the program there was an announcement that if anyone in the audience was driving to Harvard Square he should take some devotees. I happened to be driving there, so I volunteered to give them a lift.
Having lost faith in psychology, I had started turning towards spirituality, reading books and looking for a guru. I had questions about Zen, about Yogananda—so many questions. In the car I began to question one of the devotees, Jahnava Dasi. As soon as she heard the questions she responded with completely authoritative answers. I was shocked—and impressed.
I had just met one Zen master who was approved as enlightened by another Zen master in Japan. The master in America had given a demonstration at M.I.T., and at the end someone had asked him about Vedanta. He had replied, "Why are you asking me about Vedanta? I have enough problems keeping up with Zen." And he was the author of a popular book on Zen. I had thought, "This is not knowledge." So I asked Jahnava about Zen. At once she gave a better explanation of Zen than any Zen book or Zen master I had come across.
She said that this world is illusory, like images on a movie screen. But if you withdraw your consciousness from the images on the screen, you will see that there is a beam of light. And if you follow the beam of light further back it comes to a point. I'd heard about the point or void before, but never expressed so clearly.
Then she went further. "But behind the light is the light bulb, which is in a machine, a projector, and behind the projector is a person."
I thought, "This is knowledge. It includes everything I wanted to know and more." And the same with all the questions I asked. And as I met the devotees, and of course Prabhupada, I felt that every question I had was perfectly answered.
How could this young girl give such authoritative answers, such perfect knowledge, when even big Zen masters and yogis could not do so? Later I understood the reason: she had received knowledge through parampara, the succession of Krsna conscious masters and disciples. Whatever she said, she had heard from Srila Prabhupada. And because Prabhupada had perfect knowledge, when she repeated the same things she had heard from him her statements were perfect and authoritative. No sentiment. Just bang!
I was impressed. And I thought, "If these are the disciples, then what must be the guru? I can't even imagine!"
After having met the devotees, I had to write my term paper for Educational Psychology. I could think of only one subject: "Krsna consciousness is the best education." Although I had only recently met the devotees, I felt I had learned more in fifteen days with them than in fifteen years in mundane educational institutions. And I could write only of my convictions. The professor, who was also a famous author and psychologist, loved the paper. He found it original and real. He gave me an A for the paper, and for the course.
by Kaumodaki Devi Dasi
The morning sky, still pink with dawn,
His body, colored blackish blue,
His long black hair cascades in curls
A peacock plume bedecks His crown,
The village damsels love this Boy;
A progress report from Sridham Mayapur, West Bengal, India.
IT'S SAID THAT IN CALCUTTA there are two kinds of people—those who've visited Sridham Mayapur and those who plan to. For here, sixty-five miles north, stands the beautiful and extensive campus of ISKCON, the International Society for Krishna Consciousness.
Sridham Mayapur is the birthplace of Sri Caitanya Mahaprabhu, the incarnation of Lord Krsna five hundred years ago who first got the Hare Krsna movement started. And here ISKCON devotees are building a shrine to the spiritual master who spread the movement to the world—His Divine Grace A.C. Bhaktivedanta Swami Prabhupada.
Building the shrine has taken more than a decade, and still the work is not yet finished. But construction is done, and what's left is mainly decorating and artwork.
Here's the work now in progress:
The worldwide activities of the International Society for Krishna Consciousness (ISKCON)
Lord Krsna's rasa dance charmed US audiences during a four-month tour by the Manipuri dance troupe Ranganiketan. The troupe performs under the direction of Bhakti Svarupa Damodara Swami, who hails from Manipur, in northeastern India. The tour began at the Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts in Washington, D.C., where the ambassador of India gave an introduction highlighting the devotional culture of Manipur. The troupe then moved on to Canada, Venezuela, Singapore, and then back to India. More than 150,000 people saw the performances.
Students at the University of South Florida (USF) get academic credit when they take a Sanskrit course offered by ISKCON's Danavira Dasa, director of Florida Vedic College. Comments Dr. Nathan Katz, director of South Asian Studies at USF, "The FVC is providing a valuable service to USF students."
The Bhaktivedanta Archives has published a full-size facsimile collection of the issues of Back to Godhead put out by Srila Prabhupada in India. The collection, printed on high-quality glossy paper and hardbound in one deluxe volume, is entitled Back to Godhead, 1944-1960: The Pioneer Years. Full-page photos of Srila Prabhupada appear interspersed between the issues. This volume is to be the first of several to offer documents from the Archives. For information on how to obtain the book, please see page 53.
A major renovation has now been completed at ISKCON's center in Dallas, Texas. Inside, the asrama, offices, and school have been completely redone. Outside, the temple has been remodeled in traditional Indian style.
An ambitious plan for expansion is underway at ISKCON's Houston center. Look for details in a future issue of BTG.
Srila Prabhupada's disciples in Spanish Fork, Utah, have purchased 8-1/2 acres on which to build a Vedic temple. At last year's Rama Vijaya festival in Spanish Fork, more than 4,000 people attended. This year's festival will take place on September 10.
The San Diego branch of the Bhaktivedanta Institute has moved to ISKCON's farm in Alachua, Florida. Now they're right across the cow pasture from BTG. Their new address: P. O. Box 1920, Alachua, FL 32615.
ISKCON leader Bhakti Marga Swami appears across Canada on a monthly TV show, "On the Way to Krishna."
Construction is more than half finished on a large new temple at ISKCON's Gita Nagari farm in Pennsylvania.
Devotees in England are planning to celebrate the twenty-fifth anniversary of the installation of Radha and Krsna in London. Srila Prabhupada installed the Radha-Krsna Deities, Sri Sri Radha-London-Isvara, on November 27, 1969. London-Isvara means "the controller of London."
Readers in the UK can now order Back to Godhead in England and have it sent to them directly by a special air-mail service from the USA. For a one-year subscription, send £18.50 to Bhaktivedanta Books Ltd., P. O. Box 324, Borehamwood, Herts WD6 1NB, UK.
The war-torn countries of former Yugoslavia relished a taste of Krsna consciousness last year when ISKCON's Gauranga Bhajan Band toured Slovenia, Croatia, and Serbia. Thousands of people poured into auditoriums for programs of devotional music, classical Indian dance, multi-projector slide shows, a lecture on Krsna consciousness, and a mantra-dance segment in which everyone takes part. Among other places, the show went to Ljubljana, Zagreb, and Belgrade. In Zrenjanin, Serbia, the band and the audience of 4,500 students temporarily had to evacuate the hall when someone tossed in a tear-gas bomb.
Devotees in Heidelberg have opened a restaurant in their temple, in the midst of the city. The opening, in March, drew 150 customers. Devotees also run a catering service outside Heidelberg.
Devotees in Spain have completed publishing all of Srila Prabhupada's Bhagavatam volumes in Spanish.
More than 30,000 people visited Radhadesh, ISKCON's center in Septon, Belgium, last year. For $11, visitors receive a tour of the temple, an explanation of the Krsna conscious way of life, and a lunch of Krsna prasadam, food first offered to Lord Krsna.
The government of Hungary has allotted funding for ISKCON, as it does for every other registered religion in Hungary. It has thus reversed its year-old refusal to do so. Last year a member of Parliament introduced a bill that, had it become law, would have denied official status to any religious group existing in Hungary less than one hundred years and having less than ten thousand members. Widely condemned, the bill has essentially died.
Devotees in Hungary have begun a farm community on 345 acres. They plan to build a temple and residences there this year.
A Krsna conscious radio station in Moscow is now broadcasting twenty-four hours a day.
Devotees in St. Petersburg have secured an eight-story building to serve as a new temple. The building, which needs to be totally renovated, offers nearly 39,000 square feet of space. The temple room itself takes up more than 7,000 square feet. The place needs to be big: St. Petersburg has more than 500 devotees.
ISKCON's Food for Life program in Riga, Latvia, now distributes 1,300 plates of prasadam daily.
The first printing of Sri isopanisad in Estonian has sold out. Ten thousand copies.
Finishing work is proceeding in Vrndavana on Srila Prabhupada's samadhi, the memorial where his body is buried. The towers of the building have been completed, and the ceiling is being finished. A new wall is now going up at the front of the site, so that people will once again be able to enter the temple complex through the main gate.
ISKCON's center in Bhayandar, Maharashtra, plans to shift to a new location, four kilometers closer to Bombay. The congregation has outgrown the present place. So the devotees, led by Mr. Maganbhai Kakaria, have purchased a new site on which to build. They plan to start construction by 1996.
Work in Gujarat is progressing on several ISKCON temples. In Baroda the new temple is set to open by Janmastami of 1995. In Surat work is ready to start on a guest house, restaurant, and museum. And work on the temple in Ahmedabad is steadily going on.
ISKCON devotees have won a two-year legal battle for two and a half acres of land next to their temple in Guruvayur, a town of pilgrimage in Kerala. Devotees plan to build a Bhaktivedanta Cultural Center on the land. The center will include a museum and a hall for multimedia Krsna-pastime shows.
Devotees in Andhra Pradesh have started a center in Hanumkonda, near the city of Warangal. An old shrine of Lord Nrsimhadeva was already existing on the site. ISKCON devotees have set up a temporary temple, guesthouse, and other structures. Larger plans are in the works.
ISKCON's center in Bhubaneswar has acquired eleven acres of farmland for protecting cows and growing rice, vegetables, and flowers. Construction in progress at the Bhubaneswar center: a new Govinda's Restaurant.
Land obtained just outside Madras will be the site for a new ISKCON center. Construction is set to begin this year.
The entire BBT edition of Srimad-Bhagavatam is now available in Hindi.
The first canto of Srimad-Bhagavatam has appeared in Manipuri.
ISKCON's GBC Press has published a detailed, two-volume guide to Deity worship. The guide, called Pancaratra Pradipa, is available from sellers of ISKCON books and supplies.
The Bombay members of the League of Devotees have announced that they and members in several other cities have rejoined ISKCON. The League split from ISKCON several years ago.
Three leading ISKCON devotees received approval from ISKCON's governing body to accept sannyasa, the renounced order of life. So Raghubhir Dasa, a longtime leader in South Africa, is now known as Bhakti Caitanya Swami. Radha-Govinda Dasa, from Bihar, is now known as Radha-Govinda Swami. And Birsingha Dasa, a British devotee based in Hong Kong, is now known as Vighna Vinasa Nrsimha Swami.
ISKCON's Festival of the Chariots took to the streets of Christchurch for the first time last February. From the festival stage, City Councilor Gary Moore told the crowd, "When the Hare Krsnas first came to Christchurch, we thought, 'Just ignore them and they will go away.' So we did, and you didn't go. Now we can see the wonderful contribution you make to this city, in so many ways. We thank you and hope that you will continue to hold festivals like this year after year. We are glad you are definitely here to stay."
Sixty to a hundred devotees brought the Festival of India to nearly every town and village in South Island early this year. In most places the devotees met with the mayor or city councilor, planted a tree, and unveiled a memorial plaque for Srila Prabhupada's upcoming Centennial.
Devotees in Nairobi plan to open their new Radha-Krsna temple on Janmastami, Lord Krsna's appearance day, in August. The main hall of the newly constructed temple will fit 1,200 people.
A pious businessman has pledged fifty million Mauritian rupees ($2.8 million) to build an ISKCON temple in the city of Phoenix.
Prime Minister Girija Prasad Koirala conferred in his palace last March with Bir Krsna Goswami and three other American devotees. After hearing from Bir Krsna Goswami how chanting Krsna's names could help solve the problems Nepal faces, the prime minister said, "When people like you come and talk to me, I feel I am not alone."
The first stage of ISKCON's new Kathmandu temple project opened in June.
Devotees in Tokyo give out prasadam to the homeless in Shinjuku, the world's largest train station. More than three hundred men and women live in cardboard boxes in the station.
Devotees have opened Govinda's Vegetarian Restaurant in downtown Singapore. The restaurant serves Chinese- and Indian-style prasadam.
Ten acres on the outskirts of Kuala Lumpur are being developed as the site of a new ISKCON temple.
Devotees in Jakarta plan to open their new Radha-Govinda temple on Janmastami, Lord Krsna's appearance day. Designed by an Indonesian devotee, the temple blends traditional Indian and Indonesian styles.
The first volume of Srimad-Bhagavatam has appeared in Indonesian.
Devotees in Yogyakarta have completed the first permanent building for their gurukula, or children's school. Planned next: an open hall for classes, lectures, and cultural events. A similar hall is nearing completion in Bali.
Devotees have installed Deities of Gaura-Nitai on their farm thirty miles outside San Jose, Costa Rica. The farm has been running for seven years. Devotees from the farm have opened centers in Guatemala, Panama, and Honduras.
General Juan Vargan-Pazos recently received a copy of Srila Prabhupada's Bhagavad-gita As It Is. The general, a vegetarian, is the former commander in chief of Ecuador's armed forces and has twice been a presidential candidate.
Devotees in Guayaquil, Ecuador, have opened a restaurant on the ground floor of their four-storied temple. The temple is in the center of downtown.
A Hare Krsna radio program in Rio de Janeiro called "De Volta ao Supremo" hits the airwaves three hours a week. Translation: "Back to Godhead."
On Radhastami, in September, Padayatra India celebrates its tenth anniversary on the road. Since 1984, the Padayatra has gone on continuously. It has walked more than 35,000 kilometers.
Starting August 26: Leicester Festival, Southal Carnival, Watford Carnival, Notting Hill Carnival. Starting September 10: Hastings to Bournmouth.
Started May 24: Germany, Austria, Hungary, Romania, Moldavia, Belarus, Latvia, Lithuania, Estonia, Russia, Finland.
In March, thirty devotees walked the hundred or so kilometers from their Nova Vrajadhama farm to the city of Nova Jerusalem, arriving in time for that city's Easter-weekend Passion Play, which draws an audience of fifty thousand.
As the devotees walked with their bullock cart carrying Deities of Gaura-Nitai, they passed out ten thousand plates of prasadam and thirty thousand liters of water, greatly appreciated in the drought-stricken area through which they walked.
The residents of one town invited the devotees into their church. The devotees placed the Deities on the altar, performed arati, and gave a talk on Bhagavad-gita. The local priest joined with his flock in asking questions after the talk.
Encouraged by this Padayatra, the devotees now plan to walk across Brazil—at least three thousand kilometers—for Srila Prabhupada's Centennial, in 1996.
For more information about Padayatra, contact:
62, Sant Nagar, New Delhi 110 065, India
Phone: +91 (011) 646-9633; fax: +91 (011) 647-0742
Padayatra England and Europe
Bhaktivedanta Manor, Letchmore Heath, Watford,
Soap gets you clean, right?
Maybe not. Soap is made with fatty oils of various kinds, both vegetable and animal. But for devotees of Krsna, smearing the body with soap made from the fat of a slaughtered animal is not the best way to get clean.
Which soaps have animal fat, and which don't? We checked with the makers of various American soaps, and here's what we found.
Company: Lever Brothers
Brands: Lux, Dove, Shield, Caress, Lifebuoy, Dove BeautyWash, Lever 2000, Lever 2000 Liquid.
Animal-free?: No. (They all contain sodium tallowate—beef fat.)
Brands: Jergens, Jergens Mild, Gentle Touch, Jergens Liquid, Body Shampoo, Aloe and Lanolin soap, Vitamin E and Lanolin soap, Jergens Mild Anti-bacterial Deodorant Soap.
Animal-free?: Body Shampoo, yes. All the others, no. (All the others contain tallow—100% beef.)
Brands: Vel, Octagon, Irish Spring, Cashmere Bouquet, Liquid Irish Spring, Palmolive Bar Soap, Palmolive Gold Deodorant Soap, Softsoap (several kinds).
Animal-free?: Vel and Softsoap Sensitive Skin Cleansing Liquid, yes. All others (including the other Softsoaps), no (or, for some products, unsure).
Company: The Dial Corporation
Brands: Dial, Tone, Spirit, Dial Plus, Dial Liquid, Pure and Natural, Boraxo Powdered Hand Soap.
Animal-free?: Boraxo Powdered Hand Soap, yes. All the others, no. (All the others have beef tallow.)
Company: Procter & Gamble
Brands: Zest, Coast, Lava, Ivory, Safeguard, Liquid Safeguard, Liquid Ivory, Oil of Olay, Kirk's Castile.
Animal-free?: Kirk's Castile, Liquid Ivory, and Liquid Safeguard, yes. All the others, no.
Company: Clear and Natural
Brands: Clear and Natural, Clear and Natural Liquid
Brands: Meadowblend Bar, Liquid Meadowblend.
Soaps for which the ingredients include tallow or tallowate are almost certainly made with animal fat. Soaps found at health-food stores are animal-free when so marked; otherwise you can't be sure. A special mention for Dr. Bronner's Pure Castile Soaps—animal-free and much loved for the metaphysical rantings on the labels.
In the UK
Among animal-free soaps to be had in the UK: Pears Transparent Soap, ASDA Glycerine Soap, Boots Pure Vegetable Oil Soap, and any soap from The Body Shop or Beauty Without Cruelty.
Research by Tim Walter
25,000 Hindus demonstrate in central London.
DEVOTEES OF KRSNA continue their struggle to keep Bhaktivedanta Manor open to the public. The local council of the Borough of Hertsmere is trying to close it. The Manor, the Hare Krsna movement's center north of London, is respected as the oldest Hindu shrine in the U.K. Hundreds of thousands of British Hindus revere the Manor as a place of worship and pilgrimage. But the Council has issued an Enforcement Notice, making it illegal for visitors to come.
Attempts to reach a sensible agreement with the Council have been going on for seven years, to no use. Legal appeals have also failed.
On March 16, the day the temple was to close, twenty-five thousand Hindus marched in peaceful protest through central London. The march was the largest demonstration in British history by the Hindu community outside India.
The temple, meanwhile, had proposed a way to settle the controversy. According to the Council, the problem was traffic: visitors driving to the temple disturbed the local village of Letchmore Heath. The temple put forward a solution: Build a new access road, so that visitors can bypass the village entirely.
The temple has offered to pay for the road, the devotees have secured options to purchase the needed land, and detailed professional studies have shown the plan to be legally, environmentally, and logistically sound.
The temple has applied to the Council for permission to build the road. The Council has put off deciding until July 12. Meanwhile, it has also put off acting on its Enforcement Notice. Till July 12, visitors to the Manor are technically breaking the law, but the Council has said it will do nothing about it.
But if the Council, following the course it has stuck to so far, turns down the plan for the road, after July 12 it will force the gates of the Manor to close.
On May 26 supporters of the Manor, five thousand strong, held a second demonstration, outside Parliament. The fight to keep the Manor open seems to be gaining Parliamentary support. A recent Parliamentary motion aimed at keeping the Manor open drew signatures from 117 members.
Anticipating the possible closure of the temple, the temple youth group, called Pandava Sen, has already held several vigils in Letchmore Heath. "If we can't get inside the temple," they said, "we'll come up every Sunday and worship here on the green. Is there any problem with it?"
That, apparently, is a prospect some villagers would not look forward to. Though the Council says it has acted to close the Manor because of traffic, temple supporters say this is merely an excuse to cover other motives: racial prejudice, religious intolerance, and fear of losing property values.
Anyway, say temple leaders, if the genuine concern is traffic, the Council should swiftly grant the temple's proposal for the access road and let worshipers keep coming to the shrine.