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.
How Can a Symbol Be the Lord?
LORD CAITANYA Mahaprabhu advises that one chant the names of the Lord always, since the Lord's names and the Lord are nondifferent.
A reader who got in touch with us on the vast network of computer networks known as the Internet wonders how this is so. "No symbol can be the same as the object or entity it symbolizes," he writes. "That is against the whole concept of names or symbols. Also, the names of the Lord exist only in our minds and while we think them or say them, but the Lord is omnipresent in space and time. If the two are the same, there is a clear contradiction. How can this contradiction be resolved?"
Here is how I replied.
If by "symbol" we mean "something that represents, and differs from, something else," then according to Vedic literature the names of the Lord are not symbols.
The Padma Purana says:
nama cintamanih krsnas
"The holy name of Krsna is transcendentally blissful. It bestows all spiritual benedictions, for it is Krsna Himself, the reservoir of all pleasure. Krsna's name is the form of all transcendental tastes or relationships. It is complete, it is never contaminated by material qualities, and it is always liberated and spiritual; it is never conditioned by the laws of material nature. The name of Krsna and Krsna Himself are identical."
In the conditioned soul, there is a difference between one's name, one's form, and one's self. But in Krsna, the Absolute, no such distinctions exist. That is the nature of the Absolute.
Therefore, if the Lord is omnipresent in space and time, so too are His names.
We may sometimes think of the Lord, but His existence does not depend on our thinking of Him; He exists before we think of Him and after. Similarly, when we chant or think of the holy name of the Lord, the holy name exists independently, both before and after.
To our conditioned mind and senses, this is fairly well inconceivable. Therefore the Padma Purana says:
"Material senses cannot appreciate Krsna's holy name, form, qualities, and pastimes. When a conditioned soul is awakened to Krsna consciousness and renders service by using his tongue to chant the Lord's holy name and taste the remnants of the Lord's food, the tongue is purified, and one gradually comes to understand who Krsna really is."
In other words, as Krsna says in Bhagavad-gita:
bhaktya mam abhijanati
"One can understand Me as I am [as the Supreme Personality of Godhead] only by devotional service. And when one is in full consciousness of Me by such devotion, one can enter into the kingdom of God."
Lord Krsna is nondifferent from His words as found in Bhagavad-gita and His holy names as found in the maha-mantra: Hare Krsna, Hare Krsna, Krsna Krsna, Hare Hare/ Hare Rama, Hare Rama, Rama Rama, Hare Hare. So by reading books such as Bhagavad-gita As It Is, by chanting the Hare Krsna maha-mantra, and by rendering devotional service to Lord Krsna under proper guidance, one can attain the perfection of life.
Filling the Void
I thought I would write to let you know how much I enjoy the magazine. It has an interesting and varied format that just gets better and better. Also, I am glad to see that in the last year or so you have been including a colored picture of Krsna or one of His other avatara forms.
Two things I especially enjoy are "On Pilgrimage" and the Mahabharata. There are many travel books and magazines about India, but not spiritual ones, and you fill that void. And Hridayananda Dasa Goswami has done such an excellent job with the Mahabharata that I find myself reading the translation over and over. I definitely want to purchase this translation when it is available in book form.
Please accept my obeisances to the whole staff for making such a magazine available, and may Krsna bless you with everlasting success.
Real and Practical
I've just finished reading your May/June issue and wanted to compliment you for a job well done!
Your new feature on "Hare Krsna People" is very nice. Sriman Anuttama Dasa has set a good example for the householder community, and stories such as his serve as a real and practical demonstration for others. I look forward to reading more articles like this.
Srila Prabhupada Speaks Out
The "Prabhupada Speaks Out" and Srila Prabhupada's lectures are always especially nectarean. H. H. Bhakti Vikasa Swami's well-done article on Remuna and Ksira-cora Gopinatha is very informative and makes me quite determined to pay a visit there on my next journey to Orissa.
Keep On Rockin' for Krsna
I am a sixteen-year-old male, and for the last three years I have been involved with Krsna consciousness and ISKCON. Recently, thanks to some devotee friends, I was introduced to the bands Shelter and 108 and became an instant fan. So I was shocked to read Maharani Dasi's letter [BTG May/June '94] in which she criticizes Vraja Kishor Dasa for having a rock band and claims "rock 'n' roll and Hare Krsna don't mix."
On the contrary, both Shelter and 108 (as well as other emerging K.C. bands) prove that rock and Hare Krsna do mix—with beautiful results. Personally, I find these bands an excellent means of voicing my opinions on Krsna and the frustrations of Kali-yuga.
Music has always been a vital part of Krsna consciousness. Srila Prabhupada even appeared at the Avalon Ballroom amidst karmi artists and delivered the gospel of Lord Caitanya through music. By doing this, Prabhupada was able to bring Krsna to many seekers. Was this fusion of rock and Krsna wrong?
To all the Vaisnava bands out there: Thank you for being my voice, and keep on rocking for Krsna. Hari bol!
Why Are We Here?
I am thirty-seven years old, and I am of Italian origin though born in Montreal. I am very interested in Hinduism, and I would like to become a sincere Vaisnava one day.
I would like to serve Lord Krsna with heart and soul. I find it difficult because the material world takes up a lot of my attention. But I am confident that by chanting the maha-mantra and by going to the temple more often to associate with devotees I will become successful in breaking the hold that the material world has on me.
There is one question that is bothering me, and I write to you today for some help. Srila Prabhupada has said that the material world is the cause of so much suffering. Why then did the Lord create us in the material world? Why didn't He just leave us in the spiritual world? Then there would be no suffering and misery.
I guess that what I'm really asking is: What is the purpose of material existence? Why are we on earth and not with God?
I am very confused and depressed because I do not know the meaning of life. I am born, I suffer, and then I die. My life seems meaningless. I would really like you to help me with this, because many people tell me we must enjoy our life through sense gratification but the questions keep coming to mind: Why are we on earth? Why do we live a few years and then die? What is the meaning of life?
Since Hinduism is the oldest religion, I thought that it might have an answer to my questions. Thank you so much for your kindness and patience! Hare Krsna.
OUR REPLY: The questions you have asked are most intelligent and valuable. Understanding that this material world is a place of suffering, you ask why the Lord put us here in the first place. Why didn't He just leave us in the spiritual world? And what is the purpose of our material existence?
The answer is that we are in the material world not because of Krsna's desire but because of our desire. As spiritual living beings, we are all originally Krsna conscious, and therefore our natural, healthy condition is that of servants of Krsna in the spiritual world. The vast majority of living beings never leave the spiritual world but stay there eternally. Some of us, however, for no good reason, chose to leave the service of Krsna, just as an unfortunate child may give up the loving protection of his father. Therefore we have come to the material world.
Krsna is completely independent, and since we are tiny parts of Krsna, we also have this same quality of independence, in a very small degree. When we use our independence properly, we stay eternally in the spiritual world. But when we misuse our independence we fall into the material world.
Misusing our independence means trying to enjoy independently from Krsna. If a hand wants to enjoy food, it has to give the food to the stomach. Then the hand will also enjoy it. The hand cannot enjoy independently. Similarly, we also can be happy only by serving Krsna. And when we try to be happy independently, that attempt is called maya, or illusion.
At the present moment, by illusion, we are trying to enjoy the resources of the material world, but instead we are struggling and suffering. Therefore Lord Krsna says, "Please give up this needless struggle. Just surrender to Me and be happy."
The soul in this material world is like a child who insists on touching fire. The father tells the child, "No, don't touch it. You'll get burned." But if the child insists on touching it, the father finally says, "All right, go ahead and learn the hard way." Similarly, Krsna is letting us "learn the hard way" by struggling in this material world.
But at the same time, Krsna gives us the opportunity to give up this illusory struggle, surrender to Him, and go back home, back to Godhead. That is the real purpose of material existence.
The easiest and most effective way to surrender to Krsna is by chanting the maha-mantra—Hare Krsna, Hare Krsna, Krsna Krsna, Hare Hare/ Hare Rama, Hare Rama, Rama Rama, Hare Hare. By chanting Hare Krsna we associate with Krsna through transcendental sound. In this way our heart becomes purified of all misconceptions, and we return to our happy, normal condition.
The chanting is most effective when performed in the company of devotees. By associating with sincere devotees of the Lord, we revive our natural Krsna conscious devotion. And by continued practice in the association of devotees, under the guidance of a bona fide spiritual master, our life becomes completely successful.
You write that you are confident that by chanting the maha-mantra and associating with devotees you will succeed in breaking free from the hold of the material world. Yes, that is the process. Please stick to this process, and Krsna will help you in every respect. Then it is sure that you will go back home, back to Godhead, for an eternal life of bliss and knowledge, and never return to this miserable material world.
Again, thank you very much for your most intelligent questions. And thank you also for reading and appreciating Back to Godhead.
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 get Krsna to accept you, pray for the favor of His greatest devotee.
A lecture given on Radharani's Appearance Day in London, September 18, 1969
TODAY IS RADHASTAMI, the appearance day of Srimati Radharani. Fifteen days after Krsna's birth Radharani appeared. Radharani is Krsna's pleasure potency. Radha-krsna-pranaya-vikrtir hladini-saktih. The Supreme Personality of Godhead has varieties of energy, as confirmed in the Vedic literature: parasya saktir vividhaiva sruyate.
The Supreme Lord has nothing to do personally. Na tasya karyam. Here in the material world we find that a very big man—political head or business head—has nothing to do personally, because he has many assistants. Similarly, does the Supreme Personality of Godhead, full with six opulences, have to do anything personally? No. He has many assistants.
In the Bhagavad-gita Krsna says, sarvatah pani-padam tat: "The Lord has His hands and legs everywhere.'' You'll find that Krsna has nothing to do. He's simply enjoying with the gopis (cowherd girls) and Radharani. He's not killing the demons. The Krsna who kills the demons is Vasudeva Krsna; He's not the original Krsna. Krsna expands Himself. The first expansion is Baladeva. From Baladeva come Sankarsana, Pradyumna, Aniruddha, and Vasudeva. So in His Vasudeva feature Krsna acts in Mathura and Dvaraka. But Krsna in His original feature remains in Vrndavana.
One of the greatest fiction writers in Bengal, Bankim Chandra Chatterjee, mistakenly thought that Krsna of Vrndavana, Krsna of Dvaraka, and Krsna of Mathura are different persons. Krsna is the same, but He can expand Himself in millions and trillions of forms. Advaitam acyutam anadim ananta-rupam. Although He has unlimited forms—ananta-rupam—He's advaita: There is no distinction between Krsna and His other forms.
When Krsna wants to enjoy, what kind of enjoyment will He have? That has been discussed by Srila Jiva Gosvami. Krsna is Param Brahman, the Absolute Truth. The Absolute Truth has three features: Brahman, Paramatma, and Bhagavan. Jnanis, those who try to understand the Absolute Truth by mental speculation, by dint of their own knowledge, realize the Absolute Truth as impersonal Brahman. And yogis, those who try to understand the Absolute Truth by meditation, realize the Absolute Truth as Paramatma.
Paramatma is the feature of the Supreme that is situated in everyone's heart. Isvarah sarva-bhutanam hrd-dese 'rjuna tisthati. And that Paramatma feature is an expansion of Bhagavan, Krsna, the Supreme Personality of Godhead. Krsna says in the Bhagavad-gita (10.42),
atha va bahunaitena
Arjuna was trying to understand Krsna's potencies, so Krsna explained in the tenth chapter, "Among seasons I am spring, among rivers I am the Ganges, among beasts I am the lion, among men I am the king ... " And Krsna concluded, "How far shall I go on? Just try to understand that because of My entering the universe by only one plenary portion, the whole cosmic manifestation exists.''
The material world exists on one plenary portion of Krsna. And Krsna Himself enters within the universe: andantara-stha-paramanu-cayantara-stham. Without His entering, the universe cannot exist, just as without the soul's entering within the body, the body cannot exist. As soon as the spirit soul leaves the body, the body is useless. The body may be that of a prime minister, but as soon as the soul leaves the body, the body is not worth even a farthing. Similarly, because Krsna enters within the universe, the universe has value. Otherwise it is simply a lump of matter.
So when Krsna wants to enjoy, what kind of enjoyment will He have? That has been discussed by Srila Jiva Gosvami. Krsna is the Supreme Great. God is great, everyone knows. So when the Great wants to enjoy, what quality of enjoyment will He have? That is to be understood.
Therefore Svarupa Damodara Gosvami has written, radha-krsna-pranaya-vikrtih. The loving affairs of Radha and Krsna are not ordinary, material loving affairs, although they appear like that. Avajananti mam mudha: rascals and fools misunderstand Krsna to be an ordinary man. They do not know Krsna's transcendental nature. They try to imitate Krsna's rasa-lila, His dancing with the gopis. There are many such rascals.
To understand Krsna is very difficult:
Out of millions of persons, one may try to make his life perfect. Nearly everyone is working like an animal, and for an animal there's no question of perfection. The animal propensities are eating, sleeping, mating, and defending. And unfortunately most human beings are engaged like animals. They have no other business. They are like hogs, who spend the whole day and night working—"Where is stool? Where is stool?'' And as soon as the hogs get some stool to eat, they get fat. Then, "Where is sex? Where is sex?" The hog does not consider whether the mate is even his mother or sister. That is the hog's life. Human life is not meant for hog civilization. But modern civilization is a hog civilization, although it seems polished because the hogs wear shirts and coats.
The Krsna consciousness movement, in contrast, is for understanding Krsna. That requires a little labor, austerity, penance. Tapasa brahmacaryena samena ca damena ca. One has to undergo tapasya and brahmacarya—austerity and celibacy. Brahmacarya means stopping sex life or controlling sex life. Without becoming brahmacari, without controlling the impulse for sex, one cannot understand spiritual life. Formerly in Vedic civilization boys were trained from the very beginning to become brahmacari. It was not like the modern day, when boys and girls ten or twelve years old are enjoying together. Such enjoyment spoils the brain; the finer brain tissues are lost, so that one cannot understand higher things.
These are the processes of self-realization: samena (by control of the mind), damena (by control of the senses), tyagena (by giving in charity), saucena (by cleanliness). But in this age these processes are very difficult to undergo. Practically it is impossible. Therefore Lord Caitanya, Krsna Himself, has made Himself easily available by one process:
harer nama harer nama
This age, Kali-yuga, is considered the most fallen age. We think we are making much advancement, but it is the most fallen age, because people are becoming like animals. As animals have no other interest than four bodily necessities—eating, sleeping, mating, and defending—so in this age people are interested in four principles of bodily want. They have no information of the soul, nor are they prepared to realize what the soul is. That is the defect of this age.
But the human form of life is especially meant for realizing oneself: "What am I?" That is the mission of human life. Athato brahma-jijnasa: This life is meant for inquiring about Brahman, Paramatma, and Bhagavan.
Jijnasu means inquiry. We inquire every morning, "What is the news today?" Immediately we pick up a newspaper—inquisitiveness is there—but we are inquiring about very base things only. We have no desire to inquire about the highest possibility, brahma-jnana, knowledge of the spirit.
That is the lack in modern civilization. Today people are mainly inquiring about how to earn money. That propensity is there is every age, but in this age it has become the principal factor. Everyone is engaged simply for the bodily necessities. Nidraya hriyate naktam: at night people sleep very soundly, snoring. Vyavayena ca va vayah: or they engage in sex. In this way they're wasting time. And during the daytime—diva carthehaya rajan: "Where is money? Where is money? Where is money?" And kutumba-bharanena va—as soon as one gets money, one thinks how to purchase things for the family, that's all. Shopping, snoring—that is the engagement in materialistic life.
Out of many such foolish persons engaged in sleeping, mating, earning money, and providing the family with a nice apartment and food, one is inquisitive how to perfect the human form. This life is meant for perfection. What is perfection? Perfection means to get out of misery. Everyone is trying to get out of misery, but no one knows the ultimate goal by which to get out of it. Na te viduh svartha-gatim hi visnum. One can be out of misery when one approaches Visnu.
Here in the material world people are trying to go to the moon, but these foolish people do not know what they'll gain even if they go there. The moon is one of the material planets. Krsna has already said in the Bhagavad-gita, a-brahma-bhuvanal lokah ... All the material planets are places of misery. The moon is very near, but even if you go to the topmost planet, which is known as Brahmaloka, you'll find misery.
You can see every night what a vast number of planets there are. But you cannot go to them. You are simply trying to go to the nearest planet, and you are failing. So what is your scientific improvement?
But you can go. Material scientists calculate that if one were to travel forty thousand years at the speed of light, then one might approach the topmost planet in the material world. So at least in the modern scientific calculations it is impossible to go there. But one can go; there is a process. That we have tried to explain in our small booklet Easy Journey to Other Planets. By the yogic process one can go to any planet one likes. That is a yogic perfection.
The living entity is called sarva-gah, "one who can go anywhere he likes." For example, Narada Muni can travel anywhere he likes, either in the spiritual world or in the material world. So you can also do that. That is possible. Within one year the great yogi Durvasa Muni traveled all over the universe and went to Visnuloka, the spiritual world, and came back. That is recorded in history.
So this is one of the perfections. And how can it be attained? By understanding Krsna. Yasmin vijnate sarvam evam vijnatam bhavanti. The Mundaka Upanisad says that if you simply understand Krsna, then everything else can be understood very easily. Krsna consciousness is such a nice thing.
This evening we are talking about Radhastami. We are trying to understand Radharani, the chief potency of Krsna, Krsna's pleasure potency. As we learn from Vedic literature, Krsna has many varieties of potency: parasya saktir vividhaiva sruyate. Just as a big man with many assistants and secretaries hasn't got to do anything personally—simply by his will everything is done—so the Supreme Personality of Godhead has varieties of energy, and everything is being done so nicely.
The material world, where we are now living, is called bahir-anga-sakti, the external energy of Krsna. And just see how nicely everything is being done by the material energy. Krsna explains in the Bhagavad-gita, mayadhyaksena prakrtih suyate sa-caracaram: "Under My superintendence the material energy is working." The material energy is not blind. Krsna is in the background. And apart from the material, external energy, there is another energy—the internal energy. By the internal energy the spiritual world is being manifested. Paras tasmat tu bhavo 'nyah. As the material world is manipulated under the external energy, the spiritual world is conducted by the internal potency. That internal potency is Radharani.
We should try to understand Radharani. Radharani is Krsna's pleasure potency, hladini-sakti. In the Vedanta-sutra the Absolute Truth is described as anandamaya, always in the pleasure potency.
When you want ananda, pleasure, you cannot have it alone. Alone you cannot enjoy. When you are in a circle of friends or family or other associates, you feel pleasure. My speaking is very pleasing when there are many persons here. I cannot be happy speaking alone; that is not ananda. Although I could speak here in the dead of night when there is no one here, that is not ananda. Ananda means there must be others.
Because Krsna, the Absolute anandamaya, He has become many: eko bahu syama. We are also Krsna's parts and parcels, meant to give pleasure to Krsna. And the chief pleasure potency is Radharani.
radha krsna-pranaya-vikrtir hladini saktir asmad
Krsna is Param Brahman, the Supreme Absolute, as you know from the Bhagavad-gita. When Arjuna understood Bhagavad-gita, he affirmed to Krsna: param brahma param dhama pavitram paramam bhavan: "You are the Supreme Personality of Godhead, the ultimate abode, the purest, the Absolute Truth."
So Krsna is Param Brahman, the Supreme Absolute. In the material world we see that a great saintly person gives up everything of material enjoyment simply to enjoy brahmananda, the happiness of Brahman, the Absolute. He becomes a sannyasi just to understand that he is in Brahman. So if one has to give up everything material for Brahman realization, do you think that Param Brahman, the Supreme Brahman, can enjoy anything material? No. Krsna's enjoyment is nothing material. This point should be understood.
In the material world we have a little information of Brahman and Paramatma, but no one knows Param Brahman, or Bhagavan, the Supreme Personality of Godhead. Therefore it is said, manusyanam sahasresu kascid yatati siddhaye. Siddhaye refers to understanding Brahman or Paramatma. But out of many persons who have realized Brahman and Paramatma, hardly one can know Krsna.
Without knowing Krsna, what can we understand about Krsna's pleasure potency? Without knowing a big man, how can I understand his internal affairs? Similarly, if we do not understand Krsna, how we can understand how Krsna is enjoying? That is not possible.
The Gosvamis are giving us information of the pleasure potency of Krsna, Srimati Radharani. We have described the loving affairs of Radha-Krsna in our Teachings of Lord Caitanya. If you have this book, you can read about the transcendental loving affairs of Radha Krsna.
So today we pray to Radharani because She is the pleasure potency of Krsna. Krsna means "all-attractive," but Radharani is so great that She attracts Krsna. So what is the position of Srimati Radharani? We should try to understand this today and offer our obeisances to Radharani.
"Radharani, You are so dear to Krsna. So we offer our respectful obeisances unto You." Radharani is hari-priya, "very dear to Krsna." Through the mercy of Radharani we can easily approach Krsna. If Radharani recommends, "This devotee is very nice," then Krsna immediately accepts me, however great a fool I may be. Because I am recommended by Radharani, Krsna accepts me. Therefore in Vrndavana you'll find all the devotees chanting Radharani's name more than Krsna's. Wherever you'll go, you'll find the devotees greeting one another, "Jaya Radhe!" You'll find this still in Vrndavana. The devotees are glorifying Radharani. If you go by the speculative process to understand Krsna, it will take many, many lives. But if you take to devotional service and just try to please Radharani, Krsna will be gotten very easily.
Radharani can deliver Krsna. She is so great a devotee, the emblem of the maha-bhagavata. Even Krsna cannot understand the quality of Radharani's devotion. Although Krsna says vedaham samatitani—"I know everything"—He fails to understand Radharani. Radharani is so great.
Krsna knows everything, but to understand Radharani, Krsna accepted the position of Radharani.
Krsna thought, "I am full. I am complete in every respect, but still I want to understand Radharani. Why?" This question obliged Krsna to accept the propensities of Radharani to understand Himself.
Such topics, of course, are part of a great transcendental science. One advanced in Krsna consciousness and well conversant with the sastras, scriptures, can understand. When Krsna wanted to understand Himself, He took the tendency of Srimati Radharani. That is His appearance as Caitanya Mahaprabhu. Radha-bhava-dyuti-suvalitam.
Caitanya Mahaprabhu is Krsna, but He has accepted the propensities of Radharani. As Radharani is always in feelings of separation from Krsna, so Lord Caitanya, in the position of Radharani, was feeling separation of Krsna. That is the teaching of Lord Caitanya—to feel separation, not meeting. The process of devotional service taught by Caitanya Mahaprabhu and His disciplic succession is how to feel separation from Krsna. That is Radharani's position—always feeling the separation.
The Gosvamis, also, when they were in Vrndavana, never said, "I have seen Krsna." Although they were the most perfect devotees, they never said, "I have seen Krsna." Their prayers were like this: he radhe vraja-devike ... he nanda-suno kutah!
Radharani does not remain alone. She stays always with Her friends (vraja-devi) Lalita or Visakha and other damsels of Vrndavana. So the Gosvamis, in their mature stage when they were living at Vrndavana, were praying in this way: he radhe vraja-devike ca lalite he nanda-suno kutah: "Radharani, where are You? Where are Your associates? Where are You, Krsna, Nanda-suno, son of Nanda Maharaja? Where are you all?" They were searching. They never said, "I have seen Krsna dancing with the gopis. Last night I saw." [Laughter.]
Those who speak like that are called sahajiyas. Mature devotees do not speak like that. The sahajiyas take everything very cheap—Krsna very cheap, Radharani very cheap—as if they can see Radha and Krsna every night. No. The Gosvamis do not teach us like that. They were searching after Radha-Krsna. He radhe vraja-devike ca lalite he nanda-suno kutah/ sri-govardhana-kalpa-padapa-tale kalindi-vane kutah: "Are you there at Govardhana Hill, or on the banks of the Yamuna?" Ghosantav iti sarvato vraja-pure khedair maha-vihvalau. Their business was to cry like this: "Where are You? Where are You, Radharani? Where are you, Lalita, Visakha, the associates of Radharani? Where are You, Krsna? Are You near Govardhana Hill, or on the bank of the Yamuna?"
Ghosantav iti sarvato vraja-pure. Throughout the whole tract of Vrndavana they were crying and searching after Radha-Krsna—khedair maha vihvalau—as if madmen.
Vande rupa-sanatanau raghu-yugau sri-jiva-gopalakau. We have to follow the footprints of the Gosvamis and learn how to search out Krsna and Radharani, in Vrndavana or within our hearts. That is the process of Caitanya Mahaprabhu's bhajana, or worship: feelings of separation (vipralambha-seva).
Feeling separation from Krsna, Mahaprabhu would fall into the sea. He would go out of His bedroom in the dead of night. Nobody knew where He had gone. He was searching for Krsna.
That process of devotional service is taught by Caitanya Mahaprabhu. It is not that we can say very easily, "I have seen Krsna and Radharani in the rasa-lila." No, not like that. Feel the separation. The more you feel separation from Krsna, the more you should understand that you are advancing. Don't try to see Krsna artificially. Be advanced in feeling separation, and then your devotion will be perfect. That is the teaching of Lord Caitanya.
Atah sri-krsna-namadi na bhaved grahyam indriyaih. With our material senses we cannot see Krsna or hear Krsna's name. We must engage ourselves in the service of the Lord. Where does the service begin? Jihvadau: from the tongue. Not from the legs, eyes, or ears. It begins from the tongue. How? Chant Hare Krsna, Hare Krsna, Krsna Krsna, Hare Hare/ Hare Rama, Hare Rama, Rama Rama, Hare Hare. And take Krsna-prasadam. The tongue has two businesses: to articulate sound, Hare Krsna, and take prasadam. By these processes you'll realize Krsna.
Don't try to see Krsna. You cannot see Krsna with your material eyes, nor can you hear about Him with your material ears, nor can you touch Him. But if you engage your tongue in the service of the Lord, then He'll reveal Himself to you: "Here I am." That is wanted.
So feel separation from Krsna just as Radharani does, as Lord Caitanya teaches us, and engage your tongue in the service of the Lord. Then one day, when you are mature, you'll see Krsna face to face.
Thank you very much.
Further and Further In
By Satsvarupa Dasa Goswami
THERE IS NO END to how much we can be together with Srila Prabhupada through his books. His books are like a tunnel that never comes to an end. We enter deeper and deeper and walk further and further in. They are not a dark tunnel but a tunnel of wonderment and discovery. And unlike tunnels in the material world, this tunnel will lead us into an opening in the spiritual world. It's a good feeling, and it always leaves me satisfied, to know that reading Prabhupada's books means being led by him through the tunnel to meet Krsna.
Something personal happens when we discover that, aside from any official stance we might take, we actually like to read Prabhupada's books. It is so satisfying to feel the security Prabhupada's books offer, and to realize that that security is not available elsewhere. What that feeling amounts to is the knowledge that we can trust everything Prabhupada says about Krsna. We know we are not being cheated.
Prabhupada is the one who can build the conviction and faith our souls are hankering for. Prabhupada preached in the West and presented things in a way that would accommodate our needs. We shouldn't take that lightly. We've been raised in a tradition of empirical knowledge and skepticism, mental speculation, and challenge of authority. Prabhupada was able to penetrate our training. He understood our rascal minds, and he knew how to encourage us. He knew how to give us Krsna. He convinced us to accept the Vedic scriptures. He, or the one who strictly follows him, is the one who can lead us on.
I speak from my own experience. Prabhupada's books not only give me security, they hand me spiritual reality. People following invented spiritual paths may convince themselves that they are in touch with spiritual reality or that any spiritual book is opening up the spiritual world, but they later realize the illusion. Often they find that their lives don't change. Or they find that there are things about their author they can't accept. Eventually they realize that the author is not their spiritual master. He's somehow not the person they are meant to entrust their souls to.
We are all looking for spiritual safety. Personally, I can't place that trust or locate that safety in authors from here and there. I find that it's best to receive the message of Krsna consciousness through the writings of my spiritual master. Recently I heard Prabhupada lecture on this point. He said the disciple has to hear from his or her spiritual master. Then he said, "But even if you [his disciples] were to read the writings of my spiritual master, you would have to do it through me, through my explanations." It's a fortunate person who can read his spiritual master's books and invest all his faith in learning directly from him.
All Vaisnava spiritual masters teach the traditional truths of Krsna consciousness, but each spiritual master conveys those truths person to person, from guru to disciple. In other words, Prabhupada didn't just write books; he became our spiritual master and taught us personally. He is the same spiritual master for whom we cooked, whose lectures we attended, and in whose movement we serve. Nor did he keep us distant from him. We have a loving reciprocation with him. Therefore, his books are not just something we read "among other books." They are our way back to Godhead.
Back to the tunnel image: I know what it means to rise early in the morning and read a section I've read many times. This morning it was Bhagavatam, First Canto, Chapter Six, where Narada Muni gives his final instructions to Srila Vyasadeva. I found purports there that I felt I had never read before. Then I thought, All the previous readings were leading up to this reading and have accumulated into more appreciation than I have ever felt before. Prabhupada's words were opening up to me as reality. He says that a pure devotee, under the guidance of the spiritual master, can accumulate credit in devotional service. When a devotee becomes mature, he goes back to the spiritual world. He doesn't have to come back to this miserable material world. When I'm reading attentively, these "concepts" of hearing faithfully, of developing a spiritual body, of becoming one of the eternal associates of the Lord in the spiritual world all become more real than anything else, more real than the chair I'm sitting in or the desk on which the book is placed. That's what we're all looking for in spiritual reading, and that's what's leading me further and further in.
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 15
By Yamuna Devi
EVERY ISKCON TEMPLE has its unsung heroes—devotees who quietly serve the Lord with dedication. You find them everywhere, but few reach the cooking stature of the eighty-year-old legend in the Deity kitchen of ISKCON's Mayapur Chandrodoya temple in West Bengal.
Her name is Radharani Dasi, but she's lovingly known as Didi Ma, or grandmother. Daily for the last seventeen years, she has directed her realm, the kitchen.
Today I met Didi Ma in the kitchen at 6:30 A.M. With her were two bright-faced brahmacaris, Ghanasyama Dasa and Rasavigraha Dasa, who have been training as her apprentices for, respectively, nine months and one and a half years. Surrounded by baskets of just-picked produce and by shiny brass pots of well water, she was seated on the floor, busy cleaning and cutting platter upon platter of vegetables with a very old Bengali foot knife.* Her grey eyes spoke volumes, conveying approval or disapproval with a glance. Words were sparse, save for terse instructions or affectionate exchanges with the temple priests and the extended kitchen staff.
* This utensil, a curved blade attached to a board, is held in place by one's feet. One sits on the floor and cuts vegetables by pushing them against the blade. A pleasant alternative to standing.
The quiet morning broken only with the sound of lilting Bengali kirtana, I marveled at the smooth flow of kitchen activity. I asked questions in my rusty pidgin Hindi-Bengali kitchen language. In five and a half hours, the team turned out four gigantic trays of a twelve-course Deity breakfast, a thirty-plus course Deity lunch, and numerous varieties of milk sweets. The two brahmacari chefs exchange duties daily—from vegetable chef to bread-and-sweet chef—but Didi Ma almost always cuts the vegetables. It is understood that the finished textures of the artful dishes rest largely on her precise vegetable cutting; the chefs have yet to graduate to the post.
Organization and Results
The bread-and-sweet chef for the day, Rasavigraha Dasa, made paper-thin wheat capatis; perfect buttered rice; deep-fried puffed breads called luci; sugar-glazed Bengali pastries called gaja; savory biscuits (spiked with black cumin seeds) called nimki; a condensed rice-pudding, called chaval khira, studded with raisins and cashews; diced fruit with rice, folded in sweet yogurt; and various fudges, called barfi and sandesa, made from milk and cheese. He worked on a Western-style marble countertop, making all the dough by hand. Using little more than a rolling pin and knife, he turned out flawless dishes.
Before the vegetable chef, Ghanasyama Dasa, began cooking, on a stone mortar he ground pastes of fresh ginger, cumin seeds, coriander seeds, white poppy seeds, and special spice-seed blends. He powdered fresh coconut by rubbing it across the fine teeth of an iron coconut grater. And he made fresh tomato puree in a mill.
Then he sat on a low stool in front of four burners, surrounded by ground spice pastes, platters of cut vegetables, containers of whole spices and ground spice powders, and tins of ghee and oil. In typical Bengali style, he began cooking all the dishes on high heat, using generous amounts of ghee and oil, in thick bowl-shaped karai pans.
A sampling of his dishes: rich cauliflower charchari; diced zucchini in a sugar glaze; cut green beans in tomato glaze; pureed spinach with fried panir cheese; cubed jackfruit-and-potato in cumin-ginger gravy; green papaya with bits of crispy channa dumplings in coconut sauce; pan-sauteed dry whole okra and potato fingers; and, the topic of this month's column, the vegetable stew called sukta—all made in classic Bengali tradition, with trademark Didi Ma style.
How I define and prepare Bengali sukta comes largely from instructions given by Srila Prabhupada and his younger sister, Pishima. I talk about those instructions in the class textbook, Lord Krishna's Cuisine. If you're following this cooking-class series, read the section on sukta and then prepare at least three of the recipes from the cookbook.
In my experience, sukta was one of the dishes Srila Prabhupada most often requested. He would ask his cook to sun-dry sliced bitter-melon rounds to take with him when he traveled to places where fresh bitter melon wasn't available. I even recall him taking the time to do this himself on the rooftop patio of his Bombay quarters.
For newcomers to sukta, it is a faintly to sharply bitter vegetable dish, with textures ranging from that of thick soup to chunky stew. Its bitterness most popularly comes from bitter melon, called karela in India. It's available at many Chinese and Asian greengrocers and sporadically in larger supermarkets. According to many Ayurvedic sources, bitter dishes aid normal digestion and jump-start a sluggish appetite. Therefore they are eaten toward the beginning of an Indian meal.
The Didi Ma rendition of sukta that follows is decidedly Bengali, mixing deep-fried bitter melon and green banana with pan-fried potato and green papaya—four tropical staples. Feel free to experiment with local seasonal produce, using vegetables such yams, peas, carrots, eggplant, potatoes, sweet potatoes, green beans, broad beans, or lima beans, in any combination. Deep-fried vegetables are traditional and yield a rich quality, but adding steamed or roasted vegetables to the sukta broth is also delicious. Bitter melon, however, is better not steamed or roasted; it is tempered and much more delicious when fried. Experiment with ingredients to find your own favorite varieties for sukta.
Kitchen Meditation for Today
Srila Prabhupada wrote in a letter to Vyasa Dasa in 1970, "Anyone can understand that behind the beauty of nature, behind the succulent fruits and vegetables, behind the wonderful heat and light of the sun, there is a Friend. So we should contact that dearmost friend, Krsna." With a fixed mind, contact Lord Krsna through your cooking.
Didi Ma Sukta
Use any 4 varieties of the vegetables mentioned in the article plus the bitter melon mentioned below to familiarize yourself with this dish; then forget the measurements.
½ teaspoon fennel seeds
3 lbs. mixed vegetables, cut into large 1 ¼" pieces
Toasted spice seasoning and assembly:
1 tablespoon unrefined corn oil or ghee
Combine in a blender all the ingredients for the spice paste, process until smooth, and then transfer to a bowl.
Fry the root vegetables, eggplant, or starchy vegetables in batches until golden brown. (Alternatively, steam or oven-roast the vegetables until tender.) Set aside.
In a little oil or ghee, fry sliced bitter melons until brown and crispy; remove with a slotted spoon and let drain.
In a large saucepan, heat the corn oil or ghee over moderately high heat. Add the cumin and bay leaf and fry until the cumin darkens a few shades. Add the spice paste and fry until nearly dry. Pour in the water or liquids and bring to a boil. Add all of the vegetables, bring to a gentle boil and cook to the desired texture. Season with salt and pepper and fold in fresh herbs. Then offer to Krsna.
Bhakti-yoga at Home
By Rohininandana Dasa
IN THE BHAGAVAD-GITA (12.8-12) Lord Krsna gives a series of merciful prescriptions for the benefit of people in different circumstances.
The first direction Krsna gives is this: "Just fix your mind upon Me, the Supreme Personality of Godhead, and engage all your intelligence in Me. Thus you will live in Me always, with-out a doubt." (Bg. 12.8) This instruction is meant for someone already advanced on the path of bhakti-yoga, someone who has attained the stage of spontaneous attraction to serving Krsna (raganuga).
For someone who has not yet developed spontaneity, the Lord recommends vaidhi-bhakti, or devotional service in practice: "My dear Arjuna, O winner of wealth, if you cannot fix your mind upon Me with-out deviation, then follow the regulative principles of bhakti-yoga. In this way develop a desire to attain Me." (Bg. 12.9). By following this advice, one will become purified and rise to the stage of love of God.
For a person unprepared or unable to practice such principles of bhakti-yoga, Lord Krsna advocates karma-yoga, the sacrifice of one's work: "If you cannot practice the regulations of bhakti-yoga, then just try to work for Me, because by working for Me you will come to the perfect stage." (Bg. 12.10) In the purport to that verse, Srila Prabhupada suggests that we be "sympathetic to the propagation of Krsna consciousness." He writes,
There are many devotees who are engaged in the propagation of Krsna consciousness, and they require help. So, even if one cannot directly practice the regulative principles of bhakti-yoga, he can try to help such work. Every endeavor requires land, capital, organization, and labor. Just as in business one requires a place to stay, some capital to use, some labor, and some organization to expand, so the same is required in the service of Krsna. The only difference is that in materialism one works for sense gratification. The same work, however, can be performed for the satisfaction of Krsna, and that is spiritual activity. If one has sufficient money, he can help in building an office or temple for propagating Krsna consciousness. Or he can help with publications. There are various fields of activity, and one should be interested in such activities. If one cannot sacrifice the results of his activities, the same person can still sacrifice some percentage to propagate Krsna consciousness. This voluntary service to the cause of Krsna consciousness will help one to rise to a higher state of love of God, whereupon one becomes perfect.
Karma-yoga is therefore a transitional stage between the material and spiritual. Srila Prabhupada explained this point in a 1974 lecture in Mayapur, West Bengal:
Yoga means connection with Krsna. Bhakti-yoga means a direct connection, but there is also karma-yoga, which is yoga, but not pure yoga. Karma-yoga means:
yat karosi yad asnasi
Whatever you are doing already can be offered to Krsna. In the beginning you may not be able to take to pure bhakti-yoga. Therefore karma-yoga is recommended. Never mind what you are doing. In that position you can become a devotee. People are interested in different types of work. Therefore Krsna says, yat karosi—never mind what you are doing. And how does it become karma-yoga? Tat kurusva mad-arpanam: "You give it to Me."
* Such people work simply for themselves and their families and then audaciously claim that they are karma-yogis. Here Srila Prabhupada strongly rebukes such dishonest people.
"Not by Works Alone"
As a karma-yogi, one does not simply work for Krsna without advancing in one's understanding and love for Him. To work hard for someone requires some affection and love. Without this affection, or bhakti, one cannot perform any type of yoga. Therefore karma (work) plus bhakti equals karma-yoga. As one practices karma-yoga one should try to add the principles of bhakti-yoga to one's life as much as one can practically maintain them. Gradually one will rise to the platform of unconditional, unmotivated, uninterrupted service to Krsna, the exclusive feature of pure bhakti-yoga, the topmost rung of the "yoga ladder." If we seriously apply the practical methods of Krsna consciousness, taking advantage of the help offered to us by the merciful Lord Krsna, any one of us can attain pure devotional service to Krsna in our lifetime.
A much quoted Christian maxim states, "It is not by works alone that one can enter the kingdom of God." Karma-yoga is not simply "works" but work as an offering to God. If we try to serve Lord Krsna, the Supreme Person, through our daily work, He reciprocates by extending His grace and gradually frees us from fruitive desire and the tendency to perform ordinary karmic activity. In this regard the old adage "God helps those who help themselves" is certainly true.
In the Bhagavad-gita the Lord explains that even though the material body is not our real self, it can and should be used in acts designed to please Him. Spiritual life of any type should never produce idleness, where-in one expects God's grace while one languishes in inactivity or engages in selfish, fruitive pursuits.
Krsna never told Arjuna to sit idly on the chariot, even though, by the Lord's all-powerful desire, Arjuna's opponents were already defeated. Rather, Arjuna was to work hard as an instrument for Krsna and so take the credit. If we try hard, Krsna will unfailingly help us, but He first wants to see how painstaking we are in our efforts.
If you are at the stage where karma-yoga is the place for you to begin your progress toward pure bhakti, then carefully read chapters three and five and chapter eighteen, texts 42-47, of the Bhagavad-gita As It Is. That will help you practically perceive how to be Krsna conscious at every moment of your daily life.
The Real Mother Earth
By Hare Krsna Devi Dasi
THE CONSCIOUSNESS of the farmer while interacting with the earth not only affects productivity but also reveals the farmer's spiritual standing.
First we may ask, Who or what is the earth? Is the earth simply a mass of chemicals, or is it a person with feelings and desires? And if the earth is a person, how can we learn about and how should we relate to that person?
Although most traditional cultures have for centuries respected the earth as a person—Mother Earth—modern industrial agriculture has mostly treated the earth as simply an impersonal amalgamation of chemicals, to be pushed into productivity or subdued with other chemicals. So the growing popular movement to reestablish connections with Mother Earth as a person is sometimes viewed as a step backward. But is it really?
In the Bhagavad-gita (17.4), Lord Krsna says that people in the mode of goodness worship the demigods and that people in the mode of passion adore demons. Thousands of modern farmers obediently follow researchers and agricultural agents who advise them to lace their fields with chemicals to grow more feed to fatten animals for slaughter. In the most practical sense, following such materialistic gurus is pretty close to worshiping demons. It's worship in the mode of passion.
And what is the result of such worship? Krsna says (Bg. 14.12) that the symptoms of the mode of passion are great attachment, fruitive activity, intense endeavor, and uncontrollable desire and hankering. From the mode of passion, greed develops. (Bg. 14.17) And happiness in the mode of passion is "just like nectar in the beginning and just like poison in the end." (Bg. 18.38)
These symptoms show up when farmers revere materialistic scientists and economists who preach the wonders of chemically based agribusiness. The lives of such farmers are full of greed, intense endeavor, and uncontrollable desire.
And what has been the outcome of this mentality? Modern agriculture seemed "just like nectar" in the beginning, when chemicals prodded the earth into turning out surplus crops. But now that farmland in so many places is eroded and stained by chemicals, modern agriculture often seems "just like poison."
Although worship of the personality of Earth may at first look like a step backward, compared with worship in the mode of passion it is a step in the right direction. Because the Earth is one of the demigods appointed by the Lord to control aspects of the affairs of the universe, earth worship can bring one from the mode of passion up to the mode of goodness. And Krsna says, "From the mode of goodness, real knowledge develops." (Bg. 14.17)
So it might seem that earth worshipers are on the right track. And to an extent they are. But for their efforts in spiritual life to succeed they need to go one step further, because elsewhere in the Bhagavad-gita (7.23) Krsna points out the shortcomings of demigod worship. "Men of small intelligence worship the demigods," Lord Krsna says, "and their fruits are limited and temporary."
Demigods such as Lord Brahma or Mother Earth live thousands of years, but eventually their life—and the material benedictions they award—must come to an end. Srila Prabhupada once said, "If you worship demigods you may get some temporary benefit, but at the end the benefit will be finished, you'll be finished, and the demigod who has given you the benediction will be also finished."
The problem is that demigod worship is spurred on by a desire for material gain, whether it be for tangible wealth or for a peaceful life. Krsna says, "Men in this world desire success in fruitive activities, and therefore they worship the demigods." (Bg. 4.12) And the desire to enjoy in the material world binds us to it.
So on one hand Krsna says that worship of the demigods is in the mode of goodness and that acts in goodness can lead to knowledge. But on the other hand He seems to condemn demigod worship. So how are demigod worshipers to attain lasting benefit?
The secret is that the demigods are great devotees of the Lord. So by submitting to higher authorities, the demigods, thus acting in the mode of goodness, one prepares oneself to submit to the highest authority—the Supreme Lord. And in this way one transcends even the material mode of goodness.
In the Caitanya-caritamrta (Madhya-lila 24.124) Lord Caitanya tells Sanatana Gosvami, "If those who are attached to demigod worship fortunately associate with the devotees, their dormant devotional service and appreciation of the Lord's qualities gradually awaken. In this way they also engage in Krsna's devotional service and give up the desire for liberation and the desire to merge into the existence of impersonal Brahman."
How is it that mixing with devotees can turn demigod worshipers into worshipers of the Supreme Lord? Here's one way: By mixing with devotees, a demigod worshiper will hear of his demigod's relation to the Lord.
For example, although some people may know prayers to Mother Earth, they may not know that she also prays to the Supreme Lord and has many interactions with Him. Several passages about Mother Earth—also known as Bhumi Devi—are found in the Vedic scriptures, such as the Srimad-Bhagavatam. By studying these accounts, worshipers of Mother Earth will learn not only of her activities but of the Supreme Lord's wisdom, power, and generosity, as shown in His pastimes with her. What's more, they'll learn that Mother Earth is most pleased not when we worship her directly but when we learn to use her bounty to worship the Lord, who is so kind to her.
In the next issue, we'll study the pastimes of Mother Earth and King Prthu, an incarnation of the Lord's power to rule. Their activities have powerful relevance to our life on earth today.
by Daniel Deleanu
First I found out
Then I saw in a picture
And something's changed
O my dear Lord,
Is Preaching New to Hinduism?
By Ravi Gupta
AT THE ISKCON CENTER in Boise, Idaho, some guests, originally from India, questioned ISKCON's emphasis on preaching. They said that preaching was not part of traditional Indian philosophy and culture. In most Indian temples people just perform their personal prayer. The preaching mood, our guests said, was imbibed from the Christian concept of conversion. In India there were no Holy Wars, for Hinduism accepts all religious paths as valid. There is little reason to emphasize preaching.
Yes, Hinduism rejects conversion in the sense of getting someone to give up his or her faith in favor of one's own. At the same time, though, Hinduism aims at reviving everyone's sanatana-dharma, their lost relationship with the Lord.
Unfortunately, religions today, including Hinduism, tend to water down their original message, and their followers in general have wandered from the goal of life. To bring people to their original God consciousness, Srila Prabhupada, as a true Vaisnava, spread Lord Krsna's message for the benefit of humanity.
Srila Prabhupada is not preaching Hinduism but is spreading awareness of our relationship with God through the chanting of God's holy name. Prabhupada's message transcends all material designations of religion and nationality. Srila Prabhupada said that if one is a Christian, one should be a good Christian and faithfully follow the instructions of Jesus Christ. If one is Muslim, one should be a good Muslim.
Preaching does not mean Crusades or Holy Wars, but it is a compassionate service for the benefit of humanity. Preaching is natural, for when one acquires a wealth of precious knowledge one wants to give that wealth to others. A devotee of the Lord is full of compassion, concerned more for others' welfare than his own. In the Srimad-Bhagavatam (7.9.44), Prahlada Maharaja prays, "My dear Lord Nrsimhadeva, I see that there are many saintly persons indeed, but they are interested only in their own deliverance. Not caring for the big cities and towns, they go to the Himalayas or the forest to meditate with vows of silence [mauna-vrata]. They are not interested in delivering others. As for me, however, I do not wish to be liberated alone, leaving aside all these poor fools and rascals. I know that without Krsna consciousness, without taking shelter of Your lotus feet, one cannot be happy. Therefore I wish to bring them back to shelter at Your lotus feet."
A devotee like Prahlada Maharaja wants others to be released from ignorance and feel the joy of spiritual life. Devotees are unselfish and desire only the welfare of others. Srila Prabhupada wrote in a letter to a disciple, "Now each one of us has got a great responsibility to spread this movement as far as possible, and that is the greatest service to suffering humanity."
Srila Prabhupada looked on preaching not as a selfish conversion to one's own faith but as a great service to the world. A devotee does not preach with the mentality of "holier than thou." Rather, he feels himself a humble servant of the Lord, giving the greatest service to mankind. Krsna consciousness cures our spiritual disease and restores us to our normal condition. It destroys birth, death, disease, and old age once and for all. Because a devotee so faithfully spreads Lord Krsna's sublime message, Krsna considers him to be His dearest devotee:
ya idam paramam guhyam
"For one who explains this supreme secret to the devotees, pure devotional service is guaranteed, and at the end he will come back to Me." Krsna then says, "There is no servant in this world more dear to Me than he, nor will there ever be one more dear." (Bg. 18.68-69)
Preaching is well rooted in the Hindu tradition and philosophy. It is a vital part of Indian culture. In India we find that people still throng to temples and pandals* to hear from saintly persons or listen to readings from scripture. Great saints of the past—Madhvacarya, Sankaracarya, Ramanujacarya, Sri Caitanya Mahaprabhu—traveled the Indian subcontinent preaching their message. They were called digvijaya, those who conquered all directions with their philosophy.
* Religious programs held in tents in public areas.
Archeological finds in India have also revealed some striking evidence of preaching in ancient periods. In Archeology and the Vaishnava Tradition, Steven Rosen (Satyaraja Dasa) writes of the significance of a column erected in 113 B.C. in central India by Heliodorus, a Greek ambassador to India. The inscriptions on the column, written in the ancient Brahmi script, make Heliodorus the first known Western Vaisnava. One inscription reads, "This Garuda column of Vasudeva [Krsna], the God of gods, was erected here by Heliodorus, His worshiper. I, the son of Dion and an inhabitant of Taxila, came as Greek ambassador of the great King Antialkidas to King Kashiputra Bhagabhadra, the savior, then reigning prosperously in the fourteenth year of his kingship." Other inscriptions reveal the author's knowledge of Vaisnava philosophy. So even in the pre-Christian era, preachers were bringing Westerners to Krsna consciousness.
Historian/Indologist J. W. McCrindle writes, "The Besnagar [Heliodorus] record testifies to the proselytizing zeal of the Bhagavatas, or Vaishnavas, in the pre-Christian centuries, and it shows that their religion was excellent enough to capture the hearts of the cultured Greeks and catholic enough to admit them into its fold."
By Srila Prabhupada's zeal many thousands of Westerners have accepted the nonsectarian philosophy of Krsna consciousness. Srila Prabhupada is an ambassador of the spiritual world who spread Lord Krsna's message everywhere. Lord Caitanya prophesied that in every town and village of the world the holy name of the Lord would be sung. And Srila Bhaktivinoda Thakura later wrote, "O for that day when the fortunate English, French, Russian, German, and American people will take up banners, mrdangas, and kartalas and raise kirtanas through their streets and towns. When will that day come?" Srila Prabhupada preached in many ways—through chanting, prasadam distribution, book distribution, temple construction—and thereby fulfilled Lord Caitanya's prophecy, spread India's glory around the globe, and made the Vedic heritage available to all, even in a small town like Boise.
The Creative Urge
By Urmila Devi Dasi
I'M WATCHING ROHINI, a thirteen-year-old with definite artistic talent and promise. She boards at our home to attend school here, and she spends every spare moment with her art pad and pencil. As she fills each page, the lines magically fuse and bend to reveal the Lord, His pastimes, and His associates.
Rohini's drawings unlock the memory of my own first drawings of Krsna. Perhaps because my older sister attended Cooper Union School of Art in New York City, I was naturally drawn to art—oil, pencil, charcoal, pastel. After two years of art in high school, I went on to study drawing and sculpture in college. But I became disgusted with meaningless swirls of color and pattern, or twisted bits of metal and wood. Through art, I wanted to communicate truth, beauty, and purpose.
Then I met devotees of Krsna. What a pleasure to learn from Srila Prabhupada that I could meditate on Lord Krsna, the Absolute Truth, who is full of unlimited beauty and meaning! My mind and senses, for so long my enemies, could now act as friends by thinking of and portraying the Lord.
Full of excitement, I started my first Krsna conscious drawing—Krsna dancing with the gopis, the milkmaids of Vrndavana. I can't say I understood anything of the Lord's pastimes, His opulence, or even my own spiritual identity. But from Prabhupada's teachings I knew that Krsna could appear in my picture if I worked with devotion.
With whatever tiny spark of devotion I could coax out of my heart, I started to move the pencil, just as I had done in countless art classes. But this session was different. I no longer felt I was the creator. I thought of Jambavan's prayer to Lord Krsna in Prabhupada's book Krsna: "Not only are You the creator of the creators, but You are also the creator of the material elements the so-called creators manipulate."
I understood that I was simply manipulating the paper, my hand, the graphite and wood of the pencil. Krsna had created all these, and they were under His control.
Did I have the power to depict the Supreme Lord of creation with my puny pencil? No, but by Krsna's grace He manifested Himself on my paper, despite my lack of artistic skill and my glaring spiritual shortcomings. I felt overwhelmed by His kindness.
"Being pleased by our devotion," I tell Rohini, "Krsna comes onto our paper. We show our devotion simply by trying to draw Him."
She leans back, examining her work with a critical eye, deciding to change the pleats of Yasoda's sari.
Worshiping Krsna through art is perhaps one of the most natural, simple, and pleasing kinds of yoga, even for the youngest child. When I was barely a beginner among beginners in Krsna consciousness, I could perceive the Lord's transcendent reciprocation through art. And similarly, through art, even a child without philosophy, austerity, or renunciation can begin to love the Lord.
Perhaps one of the sweetest aspects of devotional art is that it's a way most children naturally want to serve Krsna. The greatest hurdle in any educational subject, that of getting the student to want to learn, is already overcome. The only task for the parent or teacher is to direct and structure the child's inner desire.
Once a child is two years old or so, he or she can learn to color a picture within the lines, using suitable colors. When children of any age create their own pictures, they should stick to portraying Krsna and His pastimes as the scriptures describe.
Children must learn respect and veneration for drawings of Krsna, because without these attitudes the children's devotion cannot blossom. The children learn that drawings should not be put on the floor, touched by the feet, or brought into a toilet room.
Children can start learning some artistic techniques as soon as the children are ready for school. Brush strokes, color theory, simple perspective, balance of designs—all are useful for any child, whether or not he or she becomes an "artist." Without such instruction, the older child or adolescent may feel hesitant, not wanting to keep turning out "flat" or "stick" drawings, and lose interest in art. But a child who receives the basic instructions will easily keep alive the spontaneous creative urge.
Resources For Teaching Drawing Skills
For children age four or five through adult:
Drawing with Children, by Mona Brookes. Published by Jeremy P. Tarcher, Inc., Los Angeles. Distributed by St. Martin's Press.
Drawing Textbook, by Bruce McIntyre. Published by Audio-Visual Drawing Program, 1014 North Wright St., Santa Ana, CA 92701.
For students age twelve and older or those who have developed basic drawing skills, here is a good source of books for beginning art, advanced art, and brush art: Basic Education, P. O. Box 1438, Lewisville, TX 75067-1438. Phone: 1-800-925-7777, or (214) 315-1776. (They have many international branches as well.)
By Vraja Kishor Dasa
WHEN I TOLD my father I wanted to dedicate my activities to Krsna's pleasure, he tried to talk me out of it. One of his arguments: "How can you dedicate yourself to serving God? You don't even know what He wants you to do!"
Not such a bad argument. How do I know what Krsna wants from me? Krsna is so far above me, totally beyond the reach of my mind and senses. How could I know what makes Him happy? And without knowing what makes Krsna happy, how could I possibly connect my activities to His pleasure?
Rupa Gosvami has answered these questions in Bhakti-rasamrta-sindhu with his definition of pure devotional service. (Srila Prabhupada gave it to us in Caitanya-caritamrta and further explained it in his Introduction to The Nectar of Devotion):
The important term, as far as my dad's question goes, is krsnanu-silanam. Check out the Sanskrit for a second—krsna-anu-silanam. I'm sure you're familiar with the first word: krsna. The last word, silanam, means "activities of cultivation." How can I connect my activities to Krsna so they'll be part of cultivating Krsna consciousness? Look at the Sanskrit: krsna-silanam. Yes: anu! My activities connect to Krsna by the bridge of anu.
Great. What's anu? Anu means "following." Follows what? Krsna-anu: following Krsna. In other words, anu means connecting to Krsna by following the spiritual master and the disciplic succession from Krsna. The relationship between our activities and Krsna "is established by connecting oneself with the bona fide spiritual master, who is the direct representative of Krsna in disciplic succession." (NOD p. xxii)
I don't know what Krsna wants; Dad's right. But the guru does know exactly what Krsna wants me to do. My dad would have a hard time with that one. "Guru? He's just another human being like you. How does he know what Krsna wants you to do?"
Because his guru told him.
"How did his guru know?"
Because his guru told him. Etc., etc., etc.—all the way back to Krsna.
Krsna knows exactly what He wants, and He doesn't keep it a secret. He tells various people who, in turn, tell others and thus pass the message down through time. That's how a tiny, limited soul like you or me can know what Krsna wants us to do.
An objection is probably ringing in my dad's ears. He might say, "This disciplic succession coming down from Krsna would never work in the real world. It would be like a game of 'telephone.' The message, passed from person to person, would be completely messed up by the time it gets to you."
Funny, don't you think Almighty God at least has the power to play a game of "telephone" without messing up?
God can create entire universes so complex that even the most sophisticated quantum physicist can't figure them out—but God can't successfully play a preschool game of "telephone"?
He can, of course, and He does. How? Well, when Krsna "passes the message" to someone, He gives not one but three things: (1) the message itself, (2) the power to perfectly understand it, and (3) the power to perfectly pass it on.
What's more, if somehow or other the message gets mixed up, Krsna comes Himself or sends someone to make it clear again.
Krsna has the power to do whatever He likes. He likes us, so He calls us up on the telephone of disciplic succession, lets us know where He is, and tells us how to get there.
The Start of an Exploration of Meaning
By Hridayananda Dasa Goswami
Originally presented to the Committee on the Study of Religion, at the University of California at Los Angeles.
I ATTEMPT IN THIS PAPER to clarify certain essential teachings of the Bhagavad-gita that are traditionally "zones of puzzlement" among scholars. These concern a single point: the nature and status of God, Krsna, according to the Gita. My strong conviction is that the Gita itself is a lucid, self-explanatory work, and therefore the occasional practice of commentators to force on it extraneous doctrines often renders the text obscure where it is bright, esoteric where it is literal, and impersonal where it is intensely personal. I am operating here on an ancient principle which holds that certain Vedic ** (I use Vedic here in the widespread Indian sense to mean the original Vedas, Brahmanas, and Upanisads, as well as the religiously authoritative classic literature such as the Puranas and Itihasas.) literatures are svatah-pramanyam, literally "evident in or by themselves." As stated in the Bhavisya-purana, "The Rg Veda, Sama Veda, Atharva Veda, Mahabharata, Pancaratra, and original Ramayana are all considered by authorities to be Veda. The knowers also know that those Puranas dedicated to Lord Visnu enjoy the same status. These literatures are self-evident, and there is nothing at all to speculate about them." ** (rg-yajuh-samatharvas ca bharatam pancaratrakam mula-ramayanam caiva veda ity eva sabditah puranani ca yaniha vaisnavani vido viduh svatah-pramanyam etesam natra kincid vicaryate (Vedanta-sutra 2.1.6) puranani ca yaniha vaisnavani vido viduh svatah-pramanyam etesam natra kincid vicaryate)
I should note at once that this principle does not do away with intellectual response to the scriptures. Rather it is a call for sober practices for understanding, in which we first struggle to comprehend a scriptural message on its own terms, through careful study of its internal structures of meaning.
We get some historical flavor of this methodology by turning to a fascinating theological debate that took place almost five hundred years ago in Benares between Sri Caitanya Mahaprabhu, the founder of Gaudiya Vaisnavism, and Prakasananda Sarasvati, a leading Sankarite sannyasi of the time. After hearing Prakasananda's interpretation of Vedanta-sutra, Sri Caitanya Mahapra-bhu replied, "The Veda is evident by itself. It is the crown jewel of all evidence. When it is interpreted, the self-evident quality is lost." ** (svatah-pramana veda——pramana-siromani laksana karile svatah-pramanata-hani (Caitanya-caritamrta, Adi-lila, 7.132))
The quality of self-evidence mentioned here is especially apparent, in my view, in the Bhagavad-gita, which is part of the Mahabharata. I have therefore selected five specific areas, vital to the Gita's message, that are especially prone to misinterpretation, and I have attempted to demonstrate from the Gita itself the consistent and self-evident view of the speaker, Lord Sri Krsna, especially as He describes Himself.
The first topic is the Gita's strong monotheism, in which the many gods of the Hindu pantheon are sharply relegated to the status of subordinate servitors to the Supreme Lord. The second topic is that of the separate individuality of Krsna as God, distinct from, and transcendental to, the individual entities, who are tiny expansions of the Lord. Third is Krsna's standing as the supreme controller. The fourth subject is the delicate issue of monism. I show that despite certain statements in the Gita to the effect that "Krsna is everything," there is nothing like a bald monistic doctrine in the Gita. Finally, fifth, I argue from the Bhagavad-gita itself that Krsna comes to this world in a spiritual, eternal form, and not a material body, such as those we inhabit.
As mentioned above, these five topics ineluctably lead to a single conclusion: that the real and final topic of the Bhagavad-gita is Krsna Himself, who is inseparably related, and yet eternally transcendental, to the individual souls, of whom we are specimens. This doctrine of bhedabheda-tattva, or the inconceivable, simultaneous difference and nondifference of the Lord and the individual souls, is Sri Caitanya's reading of the Bhagavad-gita, and Vedic literature in general.
I have included the topic that Krsna is the controller to drive home the point that the Godhead being talked about in the Bhagavad-gita is not a vague, wispy Deity whose true ineffable status is but indirectly hinted at by the hierarchical language of mortals. Completely to the contrary, we have in the Gita a full-blown expression of an omnipotent, omniscient, omnibenevolent Supreme Lord, commanding, and even poignantly entreating, the individual souls enmeshed in maya to return to Him in His divine abode.
I call this paper "The Start of an Exploration of Meaning" because the constraints of time and space have permitted only an introductory statement about the Godhead as He is conceived in the Bhagavad-gita. In fact, the points I make here are amplified by the rest of the Bhagavad-gita. At the very least, I hope this paper will stimulate the reader to investigate the Gita as far as possible on its own terms. There are certainly esoteric passages in religious scriptures, including the Vedic books. But the guiding Vedic principle is that we should interpret only that which is ambiguous, that which plainly calls for explication of hidden meanings. There are many such statements in the Sanskrit scriptures, but the fundamental message, the central theme is generally clear.
The verses quoted here are all my own translations, unless otherwise indicated, and I have given great stress on literal accuracy in their rendering. I have endeavored to avoid, thereby, unfounded flights of poetic inspiration, and dubious constructions devised to legitimate tentative insights. My conclusions reflect what I have learned from the Bhagavad-gita As It Is (The Bhaktivedanta Book Trust, Los Angeles, 1989), whose translation and purports are the unique devotional scholarship of His Divine Grace A.C. Bhaktivedanta Swami Prabhupada.
The point of view here is clearly in the tradition of Sripada Madhvacarya, Sripada Ramanujacarya, Sri Caitanya Mahaprabhu, and other illustrious Vaisnava scholars, who opposed the monistic interpretation of Sripada Sankaracarya and those in his line. In a sense, one gets here a glimpse of a millennial theological debate in action.
1. There Is One God
In the Bhagavad-gita, Lord Krsna declares Himself to be the Supreme Godhead, and He specifically asserts His supremacy over the well-known gods or demigods of the Vedic and Hindu pantheon. Indeed, Krsna is the source of all the other gods that inhabit the cosmos, ** (aham adir hi devanam (10.2)) for He is the source of all that exists. ** (aham sarvasya prabhavah (10.8)) Thus those who worship other gods are ultimately worshiping Krsna, the source and sustainer of those gods. ** (ye 'py anya-devata-bhakta yajante sraddhayanvitah te 'pi mam eva kaunteya yajanty avidhi-purvakam (9.23)) Similarly, although the gods may accept offerings from their worshipers, the gods themselves are acting as mere agents of the Supreme God who is the ultimate enjoyer of all types of sacrifice. ** (aham hi sarva-yajnanam bhokta ca prabhur eva ca (9.24)) An ignorant worshiper of the demigods who does not clearly recognize this supremacy of the Godhead falls to a lower status of life. ** (na tu mam abhijananti tattvenatas cyavanti te (9.24))
The demigods cannot award ultimate liberation, since those who attain to their worlds fall again to the mortal earthly realm when their pious merit is exhausted. ** (te tam bhuktva svarga-lokam visalam ksine punye martya-lokam visanti (9.21)) This impermanence holds true not only for the planet of Indra, surendra-loka (9.20), or svarga-loka (9.21), but indeed for all the worlds within the material cosmos, including that of the creator, Brahma. ** (a-brahma-bhuvanal lokah punar-avartino 'rjuna (8.16)) It is only in the world of the Supreme God, Krsna, that one finds the eternal abode, going to which one never returns to take birth in the material world. ** (yad gatva na nivartante tad dhama paramam mama (15.6) yam prapya na nivartante tad dhama paramam mama (8.21) mam upetya tu kaunteya punar janma na vidyate (8.16))
Further evidence of the temporary position of the gods is given in the eleventh chapter of the Gita. The cosmic form, which the Lord therein displays, is revealed to be Krsna's form and power of Time ** (kalo 'smi (11.32)) and even the hosts of gods, are overwhelmed and astonished, and enter within Time's destructive power. (11.21-22)
Lord Krsna is also absolutely superior to the gods in cognitive powers. In all respects, Krsna is the origin of the gods. Hence they cannot understand Krsna's origin. ** (na me viduh sura-ganah prabhavam na maharsayah aham adir hi devanam maharsinam ca sarvasah (10.2)) Indeed, He is beginningless. Not only the gods but the entire universe is bewildered by the modes of nature and thus does not recognize or understand Krsna, who is beyond those modes. ** (tribhir guna-mayair bhavair ebhih sarvam idam jagat mohitam nabhijanati mam ebhyah param avyayam (7.13)) It is only because of the bewildering influence of the material modes upon the conditioned souls that they worship other gods at all. ** (yajante sattvika devan yaksa-raksamsi rajasah pretan bhuta-ganams canye yajante tamasa janah (17.4))
The omniscience of Krsna is superlatively causal, since Krsna is the source of everyone's memory, knowledge, and forgetting. ** (sarvasya caham hrdi sannivisto mattah smrtir jnanam apohanam ca (15.15)) Indeed Krsna knows the past, present, and future of all beings, but no one, in the material world, knows Him in truth. ** (vedaham samatitani vartamanani carjuna bhavisyani ca bhutani mam tu veda na kascana (7.26)) In fact, so much are the living beings dependent on Krsna, that even their faith in other gods must be supplied by Krsna. ** (yo yo yam yam tanum bhaktah sraddhayarcitum icchati tasya tasyacalam sraddham tam eva vidadhamy aham (7.21)) And the results awarded by those gods are actually given by Krsna alone, of whom the gods are but agents. ** (labhate ca tatah kaman mayaiva vihitan hi tan (7.22))
As Krsna is prior to the gods and absolutely superior in powers of being and cognition, so too is the result of worshiping Him—eternal life in the Lord's abode, clearly distinguished from the temporary results derived from worshiping all other powerful beings: "Men of small intelligence worship the demigods, and their fruits are limited and temporary. Those who worship the demigods go to the demigods, but My devotees come to Me." ** (antavat tu phalam tesam tad bhavaty alpa-medhasam devan deva-yajo yanti mad-bhakta yanti mam api (7.23)) Similarly: "Those sworn to the gods go to the gods; those sworn to the forefathers go to the forefathers; worshipers of ghostly spirits go to such spirits; but those who worship Me go to Me." ** (yanti deva-vrata devan pitrn yanti pitr-vratah bhutani yanti bhutejya yanti mad-yajino 'pi mam (9.25))
In view of this fundamental distinction between Krsna and the gods, and their respective powers to reward their worshipers, only those whose intelligence is stolen by lust worship the gods and neglect the Supreme Godhead. ** (kamais tais tair hrta-jnanah prapadyante 'nya-devatah (7.20)) And as stated above, even the temporary fruits awarded by the gods are really provided by Krsna alone. ** (labhate ca tatah kaman mayaiva vihitan hi tan (7.22))
Thus there is nothing at all beyond Krsna; ** (mattah parataram nanyat kincid asti dhananjaya (7.7)) He is the great Lord of all the worlds; ** (sarva-loka-mahesvaram (5.29)) and He is the creator and sustainer of everything. ** (sarvasya dhataram (8.9)) Within the Gita, Arjuna glorifies Krsna as the Supreme Brahman, the Supreme Abode, the Supreme Purifier, the Supreme Divine Person. ** (param brahma param dhama pavitram paramam bhavan purusam sasvatam divyam ... (10.12)) Krsna is the God of the gods, ** (deva-deva (10.15)) and He is the origin of the gods. ** (adi-devam (10.12) tvam adi-devah (11.38)) Krsna is the primeval Person. ** (purusah puranah (11.38)) Arjuna further affirms that no one is equal to or greater than Krsna. ** (na tvat-samo 'sty abhaydhikah kuto anyah (11.43))
The Lord ends His teaching in the Gita by urging Arjuna to abandon all other duties (dharman) and take shelter of Krsna alone: sarva-dharman parityajya mam ekam saranam vraja. (18.66) Thus the monotheistic thrust of the Gita is neither vague nor occasional, and, as shown later in this paper, apparent suggestions of monism do not compromise the overwhelming conclusion: the absolute supremacy of Krsna.
Arjuna certainly understands Krsna to be the Supreme Lord. When asked if he has understood the Lord's teachings, he replies: "My illusion is gone ... I shall execute Your instructions." ** (nasto mohah ... karisye vacanam tava (18.73))
2. Krsna And The Individual Souls Are Distinct Entities
As Lord Krsna is eternally the Supreme Person, so the individual souls are, of logical necessity, eternally distinct from and subordinate to the Lord:
"Never did I not exist, nor you, nor all these kings. Nor shall we not exist, all of us, for ever after." ** (na tv evaham jatu nasam na tvam neme janadhipah na caiva na bhavisyamah sarve vayam atah param (2.12))
Here Krsna clearly states that "all of us" (sarve vayam)—He, Arjuna, and all the assembled kings—will exist forever, just as they always existed at all times in the past. Indeed, never was there a time when we did not exist. In the previous verse, Krsna chided Arjuna for taking the body to be the self. Similarly, in the verse immediately following, Krsna will describe the soul as dehi, the owner of the body, different from deha, the body. Indeed the entire first half of the second chapter of the Bhagavad-gita makes it clear that our real identity is eternal soul and not the body. Thus, having said that a learned person (pandita) sees the soul, and not the body, as primary, surely Krsna is speaking of the real person, the soul, as He begins to explain to Arjuna the fundamental nature of the world. After all, how can the Lord be apandita, or foolish? Thus it is the real Krsna, the eternal Krsna, and the real Arjuna, the eternal Arjuna, who have always existed and always will exist. And all of us, says Krsna, will continue to exist in the future.
Similarly, later in the Gita, we find the following:
"There are two [classes of] beings in this world, the perishable and the imperishable. All created forms are perishable, but a soul who stands at the summit is imperishable.
"The Supreme Person, however, is another, and He is declared to be the Supersoul. It is that inexhaustible Lord who has entered the three worlds and sustains them.
"Because I am beyond the perishable beings, and greater even than the imperishable, I am thus celebrated in this world, and in the Vedas, as the Supreme Person. One who knows Me in this way to be the Supreme Person is a knower of everything, and he worships Me with all his heart." (15.16-19)
These four verses of the Gita offer many significant lessons. Krsna has defined the term purusottama to mean the Supreme Person who stands beyond the conditioned souls entangled in the snare of maya and even beyond the highest soul (that is, beyond the liberated soul who stands at the highest point of spiritual perfection). Indeed Monier-Williams in his Oxford Sanskrit dictionary describes kuta-sthah as the pure soul standing on the unchanging, spiritual platform. Since Krsna emphatically declares that the purusottama is beyond even the liberated soul, we can hardly translate purusa here as "man" or anything indicative of a material position, since this would not even apply to the kuta-sthah or the liberated soul, and what to speak of the Supreme Person who stands far beyond such a pure soul. Krsna uses the word api, "even," to make explicit that He is "beyond even the liberated soul." In other words, it is not the Gita's philosophy that one becomes Krsna, or equal to Krsna, by spiritual liberation. A normal reader would not question that Krsna is beyond the conditioned soul, but here the Lord emphasizes by the world api that He is beyond even the liberated soul who stands at the summit of spiritual perfection.
The finality of this understanding of the supreme personal individuality of Krsna is confirmed at 15.19, wherein Krsna states that one who understands Him in this way (evam) as the Supreme Person (purusottama) is the knower of everything (sarva-vit) and worships the Lord with all his heart. ** (... bhajati mam sarva-bhavena bharata (15.19)) In other words, Krsna explicitly rejects the notion that realization of the personal feature of the Lord is a mere prelude to an eventual impersonal understanding.
Earlier in the fifteenth chapter, Krsna states that the living being in this world is eternally a fragmental part (amsa) of the Lord. ** (mamaivamso jiva-loke jiva-bhutah sanatanah (15.7)) The soul is further said to be indivisible ** (acchedyo 'yam (2.24)) and so the fragmental status is not effectuated in time, but is a pre-eternal, never-ending fact. ** (na tv evaham jatu nasam na tvam neme janadhipah na caiva na bhavisyamah sarve vayam atah param (2.12)) As Lord Krsna simply puts it, God is not one of the ordinary living beings, nor even one of the liberated souls, rather, "the Supreme Person is someone else. ... " ** (uttamah purusas tv anyah (15.17))
We have already demonstrated that Krsna claims to be absolutely cognizant and the source of all other cognition. He makes the same claim in the thirteenth chapter, where He introduces the terms ksetra, "the field" (i.e. the body) and ksetra-jna, "the knower of the field" (i.e. the soul who is conscious of the body). The Lord concludes this discourse by asserting that although each soul is the knower of his field, i.e. his particular body, "I am the knower of all fields," meaning all bodies. ** (ksetra-jnam capi mam viddhi sarva-ksetresu bharata (13.3))
In the same thirteenth chapter, Krsna describes both the individual soul and the Lord as purusa—persons—but the contrast is striking. The individual soul is a purusa, but he is (a) "situated in material nature," (b) "trying to enjoy the material qualities," and thus (c) compelled by his attachments to those qualities to take birth in high and low species of bodily encagement. ** (purusah prakrti-stho hi bhunkte prakrti-jan gunan karanam guna-sango 'sya sad-asad-yoni-janmasu (13.22)) (40)
In the very next verse, the Lord describes Himself also as purusa, but the difference between the two purusas could not be more clear, for Krsna is said to be the supreme or transcendental purusah (purusah parah). The use of the adjective parah to denote the supreme purusa is significant, for this word not only entails the notion of supremacy, but also a strong sense of "the other." Indeed, para is often used in Sanskrit to indicate the opposite of atma- or sva-, both of which indicate "self" or "one's own." In fact, atma in Sanskrit is the simple reflexive pronoun. In other words, para has the unequivocal sense here of the wholly other who is supreme. In this same verse, Lord Krsna also uses the term paramatma, describing Himself thus as the "Supreme Soul."
It should be noted that the adjective parama (used with atma to form paramatma), is almost identical to para in conveying supremacy, but that parama does not convey the sense of being the "other" in contrast to one's self. It is this wider term para that Krsna employs to distinguish Himself, as purusa, from the ordinary purusa who is struggling vainly to exploit the Lord's material creation. Thus the Gita's claim that the individual soul is eternally distinct from the Supreme Soul is a strong one, and not a vague or esoteric articulation.
The Lord is also said to be the maintainer of the living beings. ** (sarva-bhrc caiva (13.15)) It is natural that the Lord maintain the living beings, for they are stated in the Gita to be the Lord's own energy: "Besides the material nature, there is another superior energy of Mine. Know it to be the living being ... " ** (apareyam itas tv anyam prakrtim viddhi me param jiva-bhutam ... (7.5)) The living being trapped in the clutches of maya, the Lord's illusory material energy, can escape her control only by surrendering to the Lord. He cannot escape by his own autonomous decision or endeavor. ** (daivi hy esa guna-mayi mama maya duratyaya mam eva ye prapadyante mayam etam taranti te (7.14))
(Continued in the next issue.)
We Worship Everything
The following conversation took place in Los Angeles on May 14, 1973.
Devotee: Srila Prabhupada, if material nature is the absence of Krsna, then what is material?
Srila Prabhupada: Nothing is material. If you continue Krsna consciousness, there's nothing material. When we offer this flower in Krsna consciousness, is it material?
Srila Prabhupada: So how has it become spiritual? It was material in the tree and now it has become spiritual? No. It is spiritual. As long as I was thinking that it is meant for my enjoyment, it was material. As soon as I take it for Krsna's enjoyment, it is spiritual.
Devotee: So actually this entire world is spiritual.
Srila Prabhupada: Yes. That we want—to engage everything in Krsna's service. Then this world will be the spiritual world.
Devotee: So we can also appreciate Krsna's creation in that light? For example, this flower is very beautiful because it is Krsna's.
Srila Prabhupada: Yes. We realize that. The Mayavada philosophy says jagan mithya: "This world is false." We don't say that. Krsna has created so many nice things for His enjoyment, why shall I say mithya [false]? Suppose you build a nice house and you call me, "Just see," and if I say, "It is all mithya."
Devotee: I'll be offended, because I can't enjoy it if it is false.
Srila Prabhupada [Laughing.]: How depressed you'll be!
The Bhagavad-gita explains that the demons say like this—asatyam apratistham te jagad ahur anisvaram. The rascals, the demons say that this world is asatya, untruth, and that there is no cause, no isvara. This is the declaration of the demons.
But if Krsna is a fact, His creation is a fact. His energy is a fact. Why shall I say it is false? We don't say it is false. The Mayavadis say it is false.
Devotee: If someone looks at the Deity of Krsna and thinks it's only stone or wood, for him it's still material?
Srila Prabhupada: That is his ignorance. How can it be material? The stone is also Krsna's energy. For example, electricity is everywhere, and the electrician knows how to utilize it. Similarly, Krsna is everywhere, even in the stone, and the devotees know how to utilize stone to appreciate Krsna. The rascals do not know. The devotee knows because he has no other view than of Krsna. Why should the stone be without Krsna? "Here is Krsna." That is real oneness. The Mayavadi philosophers propose oneness, but they divide—this is stone, this is not Krsna. Why bring another thing?
Devotee: For a Krsna conscious person is Krsna as much in the stone as in the Deity?
Srila Prabhupada: Yes.
Devotee: Just as much?
Srila Prabhupada: Yes. Why not?
Devotee: But we order Deities all the way from India?
Srila Prabhupada: Krsna explains, "Everything is in Me, but I'm not everything." This is called acintya-bhedabheda—simultaneous oneness and difference. Everything is Krsna, but you cannot worship this bench as Krsna. That is rascaldom.
The sunshine is also sun. Is it not? But when the sunshine is in the room, you cannot say, "The sun is my room." This is called acintya-bhedabheda.
Devotee: But you said one can see Krsna within the stone.
Srila Prabhupada: Yes. Why not?
Devotee: And one can worship Him within the stone or within everything.
Srila Prabhupada: Yes. We worship everything. We see Krsna everywhere. We don't see the tree; we see Krsna's energy. Therefore the tree is also worshipable because Krsna and Krsna's energy are both worshipable. Therefore we say, "Hare Krsna." Hare means Krsna's energy. We worship everything.
In our childhood we were taught by our parents that if a grain of rice falls on the floor, we must pick it up and touch it to our head to show respect. We were taught like this—how to see everything in relationship with Krsna. That is Krsna consciousness.
Therefore, we do not like to see anything wasted, anything misused. Why are we preaching? Because we see that so many rascals are misusing their life. We think, "Let us give them some enlightenment." This is our mission.
We could think, "Let them go to hell." Mayavadi sannyasis engage in meditation or go to the Himalayas, but we have come to Los Angeles. Why? This is our mission. "Oh, these people are being misused under maya. Let them gain some enlightenment."
We are teaching how to utilize everything for Krsna, how to understand Krsna in everything. That is our mission. See Krsna in everything. Krsna says, "Anyone who sees Me everywhere, and everything in Me, is perfect."
HERE'S A Krsna conscious project you might like to support or get involved in.
Association Orientale de Bhakti Yoga (Eastern Society for Bhakti Yoga)
New Mayapur, France
Acaryavan Dasa, Bhavasindhu Dasa, Gaura Bhakta Dasa, Subhadra Priya Devi Dasi, Bhaktin Salima
1. To spread Krsna consciousness in the Arabic-speaking world, particularly North Africa.
2. To spread Krsna consciousness among the North African community of France (six million people).
3. To translate Srila Prabhupada's books into Arabic, publish them, and distribute them in large numbers.
In the 1970s Srila Prabhupada was pleased to hear that some of his disciples were spreading Krsna consciousness in the Arab countries of North Africa. To carry on the work there, last year some devotees originally from North Africa started the Eastern Society for Bhakti Yoga (ESBY), under the supervision of ISKCON governing body commissioner Hari Vilasa Dasa. A few French devotees have joined the team and are enthusiastic to open centers in North Africa.
As no nonresident devotee can stay permanently in North Africa, ESBY's first step is to create a strong backup team to organize regular tours there. (See BTG, Sept./Oct. 1992.) ESBY members write to people they've met on trips to North Africa and introduce Krsna consciousness to Arab students attending universities in France.
ESBY has teamed up with the Mediterranean BBT (Bhaktivedanta Book Trust) to publish a new Arabic version of Bhagavad-gita As It Is for the Srila Prabhupada Centennial. A translation of The Science of Self-realization is almost completed.
A program of lectures in the numerous Arab circles of Paris is planned for 1994-5.
Most devotees shy away from spreading Krsna consciousness among the Arabs, whom they consider mere religious fanatics. So very few devotees are involved in ESBY. It also has no steady source of funding.
HOW YOU CAN HELP
1. Sponsor the printing of a newsletter to be sent to contacts in North Africa.
2. If you have any qualification in written Arabic, join the book production team. (Fewer than ten titles—mostly small books—are available at present.)
3. Join a preaching tour to the Arabian countries.
4. Give financial support.
5. Offer encouragement or ask questions.
Association Orientale de Bhakti Yoga
Domaine d 'Oublaisse
36360 Lucay le Male
Phone: +33 (54) 402395
Fax: +33 (54) 402823
The Military Exhibition
An uninvited warrior threatens to eclipse Arjuna's brilliance.
Translated from Sanskrit by Hridayananda Dasa Goswami
The sage Vaisampayana is telling the history of the Pandavas to their great-grandson, King Janamejaya. As the Mahabharata continues, the Pandavas will display their military prowess.
O BHARATA, SEEING THAT the sons of Dhrtarastra and of Pandu had acquired proficiency in the use of weapons, Drona spoke thus to Dhrtarastra, ruler of the people, in the presence of Krpa, Bhisma, Vidura, Somadatta, Vyasadeva, and the wise Bahlika: "O king, your boys have fully assimilated the military science, and now, noble Kuru, with your approval they should demonstrate to you what they have learned."
With a jubilant mind, the king said: "Drona, you are a great teacher and have done a great job! Whenever you think is the best time, and in whatever place you like, just order me so that things may be arranged exactly as you want.
"Today I must sadly envy those men who have good eyes and who will thus be able to see my children perform heroic feats to demonstrate their skill in weapons. Vidura, do exactly as the learned guru commands, for no other pleasure will be like this, my righteous brother."
Taking permission from the king, Drona went outside followed by Vidura. That very learned Drona proceeded to locate and measure an area of flat, fertile land, without trees or bushes and gently sloping to the north. On that land, on the holy day of a venerable star, he made an offering to the Supreme. The purpose of this was announced throughout the city, O eloquent king. On the site of the proposed arena, skilled workmen then constructed, exactly according to scriptural codes, a large palatial grandstand for the king and his associates, who were equipped with all kinds of weapons. And the workmen made proper facilities for the ladies. The countryfolk arranged large, high platforms for themselves, and the wealthy families arranged for private palanquins.
When the day arrived, the king placed Bhisma and the noble professor Krpa in the front of his entourage and traveled with his ministers to his viewing palace, which was built of gold, shaded by a canopy of interlaced pearls, and adorned with precious gems. Then the king's wife, Gandhari, the glorious Kunti, and all the women of the king's family, along with their fully bedecked attendants, joyfully went up to the viewing platform like the wives of the gods ascending holy Mount Meru.
The members of the four social orders, headed by the brahmanas and ksatriyas, quickly came out of the city, eager to see the Kuru princes demonstrate their skill in arms. With the thrilling music of bands and the excited roar of the crowd, that assembly of people heaved and resounded like a great tossing sea. Then the great teacher, garbed in white array, with white hair, white moustache, white garland, a white silk thread round his chest, and white tilaka marking his body,* entered the very center of the stadium with his son, like the moon attended by Mars entering brightly into the cloudless sky. Drona, that most excellent of mighty men, then made an offering unto God, suitable for the moment, and commanded the brahmanas learned in mantra to chant the auspicious hymns. The brahmanas chanted the holy hymns of the day, blessing the moment, and then special men entered the arena carrying varieties of weapons and gear.
* Tilaka markings, made of a special clay, indicate that the body is a temple of God.
Next, the young men, the mighty young bulls of the Bharata race, entered the arena, their armor fixed tightly about them, their belts tightened for action, and their quivers bound tightly to their bodies. The princes came in order of age, with Yudhisthira in the lead. They first proceeded to the center of the field, offered a respectful greeting to their teacher, Drona, and then proceeded to formally honor in the traditional way both Drona and Krpa. When the two great professors conferred their blessings, all the princes were filled with joy, and they next offered respectful greetings to their mystical weapons, which were adorned with flowers previously offered to the Deity. The Kaurava princes honored their weapons with sacred flowers mixed with red sandalwood. They themselves were anointed with red sandalwood paste, they wore red garlands, they used red flags, and their eyes were red with the fire of determination.
With Drona's permission, those fierce fighters took their weapons in hand. First they took up their bows, crafted of refined gold. With various styles and facial expressions, the princes strung their bows, fixed arrows upon them, and twanged their bowstrings, making a wonderful sound to honor all the people gathered there.
The Young Men Show Their Skills
Those great adolescent heroes then exhibited the most amazing weapons. Some people in the crowd ducked their heads in fear of being struck by a flying arrow, and other people boldly stared at the exhibition, struck with utter astonishment. Riding by on horses, the princes pierced the targets with volleys of arrows beautifully marked with the archer's name and released with agility and speed. Observing the strength of the boys in wielding their bows and arrows, the crowd was amazed, as if seeing a magical Gandharva mansion in the sky. Wide-eyed with wonder, hundreds and thousands of spectators would suddenly cry out, "Sadhu! Sadhu!" (*) as the stunning events unfolded. And the mighty princes went on exhibiting their skills—with bows, on chariots, on elephant-back, horseback, and in hand-to-hand combat.
* "Excellent! Excellent!"
The combatants then grabbed their swords and shields and, moving all over the field, displayed the ways of swordsmanship just as they had been taught. As the princes competed with sword and shield, the experienced spectators studied their tactics, daring, steadiness, agility, and firmness of grip.
Then Duryodhana and Bhima, ever enlivened for combat, came down together, clubs in hand, their weapons like two big mountains with a single peak. Tightening their belts, those two heavy-armed warriors were brazenly determined to show their masculine strength. As they faced one another, their strength only increased, like that of two maddened bull elephants fighting for a willing female. Flawless clubs working away, the two mighty men, maddened like lusty bulls, circled each other, each keeping the other to the left. The great-minded Vidura described to Dhrtarastra all the deeds of the young princes, while Kunti narrated to Gandhari.
With the Kuru prince in the arena against Bhima, the best of strong men, the crowd split into two factions, taking sides according to their affection.
"Go, hero!" "Go, Kuru king!" "Come on, Bhima!" cheered the people, and their sudden roaring and shouting at each new blow resounded throughout the arena. Seeing the stadium shaking like a stormy sea, the wise Drona said to his dear son Asvatthama, "Both Bhima and Duryodhana are highly trained and very powerful. Stop them before a riot breaks out in the stadium."
Thus the son of the guru stopped the two warriors—as wild as the fire of cosmic annihilation and as mighty as the ocean—who stood with upraised clubs.
Drona then entered the playing field of the arena. Stopping the music, he spoke out in a voice as deep and resonant as the rumbling of great clouds.
"He who is dearer to me than my own son, he who is first among those who wield all weapons, he who is born from Indra and equal in splendor to Lord Visnu Himself—may you behold now Arjuna, son of Prtha!"
Blessed by the words of his guru, Arjuna came before the crowd in the full vigor of his youth, carrying his deadly bow, his arm and finger guards tightly fastened, and his quiver full. Garbed in golden armor, Arjuna appeared like a sunset raincloud, flashing with sunrays, rainbow, and lightning. There was a great commotion throughout the arena, conchshells trumpeted, and the bands burst into music from every side of the stadium.
"There is the son of Kunti. That beautiful young man is the middle son of Pandu. He's actually the son of Indra himself. He will protect the Kuru kingdom. He's the best of all in his knowledge of weapons. He's the most religious of all the warriors. You may talk of noble men, but his knowledge of noble conduct is a transcendental ocean, for he is the dearest friend of Lord Krsna Himself, the Personality of Godhead, who slew evil Kamsa. Lord Krsna holds Arjuna as dear as His very self. Thus whatever Arjuna promises he will certainly do, for the Lord is ever with him."
When Arjuna's mother, Kunti, heard these unique praises voiced by the spectators, loving tears ran down her chest and mixed with the milk that flowed from her breasts as she gazed upon her son. The great sound of the crowd filled Dhrtarastra's ears, and that leader of men then joyfully said to Vidura, "O Ksatta, what is that mighty sound which makes the arena shake like a stormy sea? It has arisen suddenly from the stadium and pierces the very heavens."
Sri Vidura said, "Maharaja, it is because of Arjuna, the beloved son of Pandu and Kunti. He has come down onto the field with his golden armor, and the crowd has gone wild."
King Dhrtarastra said, "I am fortunate. I am blessed. I am protected, O learned one, by these fiery warriors, the sons of Pandu, who have arisen from the sacred kindling wood of that great lady Kunti."
When the uproarious arena somehow settled, Arjuna, the awesome warrior, then displayed the military skill acquired from his teacher. With the weapon of the god of fire he created fire; by the sea-lord's arm he created water; by the weapon of the wind-god he let loose the wind; and by the weapon of the lord of the rain he released the clouds. By the weapon of earth he entered the earth; by the science of mountains he spread hills before everyone's sight; and by the weapon of internal placement he went within and vanished from view.
One moment he expanded his body upwards, and at the next moment he shrank it down. In an instant he went to the front of his chariot, a second later he was sitting on the chariot seat, and at the next moment he was again standing on the ground. With varieties of arrows, that teacher's favorite, endowed with consummate skill, pierced targets that were delicate, impenetrable, barely visible, and in all ways troublesome. An iron boar was made to move about the field, and Arjuna shot fire arrows into its mouth in such rapid succession that the arrows appeared to the crowd to be one continuous shaft. Then the heroic prince buried twenty-one arrows into a hollow cow's horn as it swung about on a rope. In this and similar ways, with a huge sword, with a bow, and with a club, that military master showed the audience wonderful feats.
Karna, The Uninvited Guest
After the demonstration by Arjuna, the program was nearly finished. The crowd began filing out, and the musicians put down their instruments, when suddenly from the area of the main gate came a mighty slapping of arms that resembled the clashing of thunderbolts. So mighty and awesome was the sound that people began to wonder, "Are the hills exploding? Or is the earth breaking asunder? Or has the sky filled up with thundering clouds?"
These were the spontaneous thoughts of the stadium crowd, O king, as everyone turned and stared at the main gate of the arena. Surrounded by the five sons of Pandu, Drona stood up brilliantly like the glowing moon surrounded by the bright hand-constellation. Deadly Duryodhana rose to his feet, and his hundred strong brothers and Asvathama at once surrounded him. Club in hand, Duryodhana stood at the ready, and his brothers raised their clubs and stood with him. The eldest son of Dhrtarastra shone like Indra surrounded by the hosts of gods, ready to shatter the cities of the wicked.
Wide-eyed with wonder, the people gave way as into that broad stadium strode Karna, conqueror of cities, his face dazzling with the jeweled earrings and his body shielded by the mighty armor that were both with him at his birth. Girded tightly with sword and bow, he moved like a proud-pacing mountain.
Destined for wide fame, handsome with large, wide eyes, Karna was born from the virgin Kunti, begotten by the sharp-rayed light-maker, the mighty Sun. Invested with the Sun's own virile strength, Karna would lay low the hosts of his enemies. He fought and lived with the power and courage of the lion, the bull, and the elephant, and in brilliance, beauty, and luster he shone as bright as the sun and the moon. He was tall and straight like a golden palm tree, and his youthful body was built as solid as that of a lion. This strong-armed warrior, the handsome child of the sun, clearly had innumerable qualifications. He looked all about the arena and then offered his obeisances to Drona and Krpa, but without much real respect. Not a single person in that vast assembly moved, nor for a single moment did they take their eyes off Karna.
"Who is he?" they frantically asked one another, as suspense and curiosity filled the air.
Then Karna himself spoke out in an eloquent voice as deep and grave as the rumbling of clouds. He addressed himself to Arjuna, not knowing that he spoke to his own brother, [for the mother of both was Kunti. Nor did Karna know the identity of his own father.]
The child of the sun called out to the earthborn son of Indra, "Son of Prtha, whatever deeds you have performed here today, I shall perform better than you, and before everyone's eyes. So steady your mind, and don't be overwhelmed by what you are about to see."
Before Karna could even finish his words, the entire audience rose to its feet as if shot up by a machine. At that moment, O tiger of men, joy came to Duryodhana, and for an instant shame and anger pierced mighty Arjuna. Then with Drona's official permission, the mighty Karna, who ever loved a fight, performed all that Arjuna had done. Seeing all this, O Bharata, Duryodhana and his brothers joyfully embraced Karna. Duryodhana said to him, "You are most welcome here, mighty-armed one. It is our good fortune that you have come, for I see that you are a true gentleman. I myself and the entire Kuru kingdom are at your full disposal, to enjoy as you wish."
Karna said, "I need nothing else but your friendship, sir, and if I must accept some other boon, O Bharata, then I would fight a duel with that son of Kunti named Arjuna."
Duryodhana said, "Enjoy with me all that princes enjoy! Do good to your friends, O tamer of the enemy, and put your foot on the head of those who wish us ill."
Feeling deeply insulted, Arjuna called out to Karna, who stood fixed like a mountain in the midst of that assembly of royal cousins, "Those who enter though not invited, and those who speak their whim though not requested, attain the worlds reserved for their kind. Slain now by me, Karna, you will attain those very worlds."
Karna said, "This arena is open for all. What is your complaint, Arjuna? Among the royal order, leadership goes to the strongest men, for justice depends on power. Why these insults uttered by weaklings to comfort themselves? Speak with arrows, Bharata, for today with arrows, before the eyes of your guru, I shall take off your head."
With Drona's consent, and quickly embraced by his brothers, Arjuna, conqueror of hostile cities, went toward Karna for combat. And Karna, embraced by Duryodhana and his brothers, took up his bow and arrows and stood ready for battle. Thereupon the sky was suddenly covered by thundering clouds that flashed with lightning, and there were profusions of rainbows and formations of shrieking cranes. Seeing Lord Indra affectionately sending his signs to encourage his son Arjuna and forecast his victory, the Sun vanquished the clouds that came too near his child Karna. Thus Arjuna could be seen covered by the shadow of Indra's clouds, whereas Karna was fully exposed, bathed in the rays of the Sun.
The sons of Dhrtarastra stayed on Karna's side of the field, and Drona, Krpa, and Bhisma stayed on the side of Arjuna. Two factions also arose among the ladies in the crowd. Only Kuntidevi, the daughter of King Kuntibhoja, understood that a fight to the death between blood brothers was about to take place, for Arjuna and Karna were both her beloved sons. Thus she became faint with anxiety. Seeing her in utter confusion, Vidura, the knower of all justice, tried to bring her to her senses by sprinkling her with water mixed with sandalwood. Kunti came back to her senses, and seeing her two sons fit with armor, she went through such agony that she could not follow anything that was happening.
Krpa, son of Saradvan, was an expert in the customs and rules of dual combat, for he knew all of the sacred law. Thus he said to the two warriors who stood with their large bows raised for action, "This man here is the beloved son of Pandu, and the youngest child of Prtha. He is a Kuru prince, and he will make battle with you, sir. And you, mighty-armed one, must now tell us the names of your mother and father and your royal line. Who are those leaders of men to whom you bring glory? As soon as we learn this, the son of Prtha will set his bow against you, or perhaps he will not."
When Karna was thus addressed, his face bent down in shame, like a withered lotus flooded by the monsoon waters.
Duryodhana said, "Professor, our religious scriptures conclude that a man becomes a king in three ways: by birth in a royal family, by acts of heroism, and by leading an army. If Arjuna does not wish to fight with a non-king, then I hereby install this man as king of the land of Anga."
That very moment, learned brahmanas ceremonially anointed mighty Karna with sacred grains and flowers, bathed him with water from golden pitchers, installed him on a golden seat, and endowed that maharatha warrior with riches, for he was now the new ruler of Anga. He then received the paraphernalia of kingship, such as the royal umbrella and yak-tail fan, and he was honored with cries of victory. He then said to Duryodhana, "What could I give you or do for you that would equal your gift of a kingdom? Say it, and I shall certainly do it."
"I desire everlasting friendship with you," replied Duryodhana. Thus addressed, Karna replied, "It shall be so!" The two warriors happily embraced and felt the greatest joy.
The Glory Of India
A project of ISKCON
(Founder-Acarya: His Divine Grace A.C. Bhaktivedanta Swami Prabhupada)
LOCATION: New Delhi, India
PURPOSE: To serve as a center for India's greatest glory—her Vedic knowledge and culture
PRINCIPAL ARCHITECT: A. P. Khanvinde, recipient of the Indian government's Padma Shri award for distinguished service
CONTRACTOR: Tarapore and Company, Madras (contractors for Delhi's 5-star Taj Mansingh Hotel, and the Indira Gandhi indoor stadium)
MATERIALS: Steel: 880 tons. Cement: 5,500 tons.
Marble: 25,000 square feet. Stone: 75,000 square feet.
Stone chips: 260,000 cubic feet. Wood: 2,000 cubic feet.
CONSTRUCTION WORKERS: 250
COST: Rupees 12 crores (about US $3,750,000)
TARGET DATE FOR COMPLETION: December 1995
This is the construction site for the Glory of India Vedic Cultural Center.
At the base of a large pit—perhaps a hundred yards by fifty, and eight yards deep—lies the foundation for a museum. And elsewhere, at the highest part of the site, three towers are emerging for what will soon be a temple.
On one side the site overlooks Sant Nagar Main Road, with its houses and storefronts. On two other sides, trees extend up past the fence, from nearly a hundred acres of park. Off east through the park, walking distance away, stands the lotus-like Bahai temple, a New Delhi landmark, and off to the south the tall stacked office blocks of Nehru Place, New Delhi's "second downtown."
The many aspects of the new center will bring alive the spiritual culture of India.
1. The Temple
Dedicated to the service of Radha and Krsna, the temple is the center of attraction for the entire complex. Its unique latticed towers—a fusion of traditional design and modern possibilities—will extend ninety-eight feet above the highest point of the hilltop. With carved stone, wood, and marble, the temple will bring to life the advanced artistry of ancient India in devotion to Lord Krsna.
2. The Museum of Vedic Culture
The museum will show various aspects of the Vedic philosophical and cultural heritage, both through simple exhibits and dioramas and through sophisticated multimedia programs.
3. The Center for Vedic Studies
For serious students of Vedic culture, the center will provide classes, seminars, and conferences. The center's Library for Vedic Research will house an extensive collection of Vedic literature, both in original Indian languages and in foreign translations. The center will also offer special programs for school children.
4. The Vedic Center For the Performing Arts
The center will offer performances in music and dance by India's foremost artists. Performances will take place in a traditional open-air amphitheater, facing the temple of Radha and Krsna.
5. The Asrama
The true essence of a place of Vedic culture resides with the enlightened people one finds there. The center will be home for devotees fully dedicated to studying, living, and teaching the Vedic culture.
6. Krsna Jayanti Park
Groves, waterfalls, ponds, and gardens will be an integral part of the project. And the Krsna Jayanti Park, dedicated to the pastimes of the Lord, will provide a setting where spiritual life can flourish in tranquil surroundings.
THE ULTIMATE ORGANIZER for the Vedic Cultural Center has always been Lord Krsna Himself. Behind the scenes, devotees say, Lord Krsna, the Personality of Godhead, has been arranging everything.
Yet Lord Krsna works through His devotees. And the devotee who, from the beginning, has taken up the task of building the Vedic Cultural Center has been Gopala Krsna Goswami.
Gopala Krsna Goswami first met Srila Prabhupada in Canada, later served him in America, and then took up responsibilities for spreading Krsna consciousness in India. He first started working on the Cultural Center in 1982.
Remarks A. P. Khanvinde, the project architect, "He has worked very hard, brought all the elements together, finding the team, raising the funds. Maharaja Gopala Krsna has tremendous perseverance."
Gopala Krsna Goswami tells how the project got started:
"When Prabhupada was on this planet, he had expressed to me a desire to build a big project in Delhi. Prabhupada and I had gone to see different pieces of land in Delhi, but unfortunately the land could not be realized while Prabhupada was on the planet. But after Srila Prabhupada's departure, since we knew that this was Prabhupada's desire, we were pursuing attempts to get land from the government.
"To get land from the government in India, especially in Delhi, is very, very difficult. There's a lot of red tape involved. But we made several attempts, and finally in 1982 we met the Education Minister, Mrs. Sheela Kohl, and with her help and the help of the person then the chairman of the Delhi Development Authority, Mr. Jagmohan, we obtained the land."
From the beginning, the vision of what to do with the land was a broad one. "What we had proposed to the government was not just a simple temple but an educational and cultural project. The project would include a Vedic museum that could present the Vedic history of India using modern technology, for the benefit of both Indians and foreigners. By Krsna's grace, whomever we spoke to was very much inclined to the idea. And the name that we coined—'Glory of India Vedic Cultural Center'—made people understand that this was not just going to be another temple.
"We knew that if we just constructed another temple in Delhi it would not be so significant. We have a great heritage, a great message to give, and therefore we thought that we should give this philosophy in a very modern package.
"Our vision is to create an institution that will inspire people to dedicate their lives to the teachings of Lord Sri Krsna. And in keeping with this theme, the Glory of India museum and exhibition will present highlights from our ancient and medieval texts, such as Mahabharata, Ramayana, Srimad-Bhagavatam, and Caitanya-caritamrta, using dioramas and modern technology."
Turning from the sophisticated to the simple, Gopala Krsna Goswami tells how the idea for the park got started: "In Delhi there is a big park known as Buddha Jayanti Park, and Prabhupada used to go there for morning walks. So once while on a walk he said, 'Why don't we have a Krsna Jayanti Park in Delhi?' "
Gopala Krsna Goswami, therefore, has been working to make the park happen. "We've approached the Delhi Development Authority to grant us fifteen to twenty acres of additional land for a Krsna Jayanti Park. Our plan is to construct a mini Krsna Jayanti Park within our complex, and when we get additional land the park can expand."
Gopala Krsna Goswami always thinks expansively: "Prabhupada desired that temples be constructed in all the major cities of India and other parts of the world," he says. And he tells of the purpose. "These temples are spiritual hospitals. Just as a sick patient goes to a hospital to get cured of his disease, one comes to the temple of the Lord to have darsana of the Deities, to listen to the kirtana and preaching, so that one is inspired to dedicate his life to the teachings of the Lord." The teachings of the Lord form the essence of the Vedic culture. And that culture is the greatest glory of India. Gopala Krsna Goswami therefore says, "We hope that after this project is completed it will not only attract Delhi-ites to come and have darsana of the Deities but will also attract scholars, public leaders, Indian tourists, Western tourists, and school and college students to come and get exposed to the Vedic heritage."
Funding and Support
FUNDING FOR THE Vedic Cultural Center has come almost entirely from India itself, and especially from Delhi, rather than from sympathizers or ISKCON centers abroad.
Gopala Krsna Maharaja tells of the contribution by the Hindujas. "Since this was going to be a very expensive project, I asked several leading families in India to take part. One family I have known for the past twelve years is the Hinduja family. They very much appreciated our concept, and they agreed to participate.
"Apart from financial contributions, the Hinduja family has given us great moral support for this project, and they have been actively involved in planning the construction strategy. Sri Ashok Hinduja, the youngest of the Hinduja brothers, though a businessman, is a gifted architect and an expert in construction. And Mr. Gurnani, who looks after construction for the Hindujas in India, has been very much involved."
Many other generous donors have come forward, cooperating to build this project for the glory of India and the glory of the Supreme Lord.
He says, "Though nowadays I am running ill—I have faced a second heart attack—I am hopeful to collect that much money."
He collects funds by enlisting supporters, called "Pandava members" after the five pious devotees who anciently ruled from what is now Delhi. One becomes a Pandava member by contributing at least one lakh, five lakhs, or ten lakhs for the temple. (A lakh is 100,000 rupees.)
"In India," he says, "people know the importance of using money spiritually. They are ready to give."
Jayananda Dasa, 38, belongs to a well-to-do business family. Apart from other enterprises, he recently took the lead insetting up a steel-making plant (startup cost: 100 million dollars).
Jayananda raises funds by introducing the project to friends and business acquaintances and enlisting their support.
"Now," he says, "My desire is, 'Let this temple be constructed.' I can see that in the future my parents and my brother and my family will always be happy and proud to see, 'Yes, Delhi has the Glory of India project.' "
Dedicated to constructing the center is a highly qualified team of devotees and professionals. Leading architects and engineers have come forward to give their service, without expecting payment.
A. P. Khanvinde, principal architect
Educated at Harvard, honored by the Indian government, and eagerly sought for the design of projects like institutes, hospitals, and universities, Mr. A. P. Khanvinde brings to the Vedic Cultural Center a lifetime of architectural experience. Yet this is the first time he has designed a temple. "This project came to me as a surprise," he says.
And the surprise brought a need for decisions. "When the idea of designing a temple came," he says, "I was of a dual mind—whether to reproduce the kind of temple existing six, seven or eight hundred years back or to have a temple appropriate to the present time and technology.
"After all, what was existing then, between 500 A.D. and 1100 A.D., was an outgrowth of the knowledge and techniques available then. When temples were first built, even the knowledge of mortar was unknown. Temples were done with vaults and arches and domes, all a product of stone piled upon stone. There developed a great technology, all related to stone.
"But now we have cement and concrete and steel, and therefore to express our time we will have to have a temple that shows our association with the past, expressed in the technology of the present.
"I was not keen to imitate the past," he says. "But we should be inspired by the past."
Inspiring also is the multifaceted nature of the project. "What we are building is not a temple alone. It is an institution where learning and practicing and devotion all take place. That's what we hope this will be, in course of time. That's the theme."
S. M. Jauhri, associate architect
The accomplished architect S. M. Jauhri has been involved with the Glory of India project from the very beginning. For the past ten years, he has devoted himself to its success. At the start, before the project had clear sources of funding, Mr. Jauhri used to spend from his own pocket for models and drawings and plans. And now it is Mr. Jauhri who sees to the proper implementation of the architectural concept on site.
S. V. Damle, structural engineer
An independent consultant in Delhi since 1965, Mr. Damle has worked on hotels, agricultural institutions, and industrial estates. He served as a consultant for the United Nations building in Kathmandu, and recently the 600-bed Apollo Hospital near Delhi. He and Mr. Khanvinde have worked together on several projects over the last thirty years. "You can say that our wavelengths are tuned to each other," he says.
The structural engineer has to fulfill the aesthetic dream of the architect, he says. And with the Glory of India project, Mr. Damle gives special attention to making sure that the structures are built strong. "A normal building's life is roughly sixty to seventy years," he says. "It is assumed that after seventy years it will be torn down and redone. But temples have to stay for ages." Mr. Damle therefore insists upon richer mixes for concrete, and special treatment for the steel.
Mr. Damle was recruited to the Glory of India project by Mr. Khanvinde, "He said to me, 'Can you contribute?' So I said, 'I will be glad to do that.' "
His inspiration? "I believe in God. That is the thing."
Mr. Damle speaks of the personal benefits of working on a spiritual project. "We haven't done that much study, to be frank with you. But at least in association with people of a spiritual nature we will learn something. And we get pleasure out of it.
"Such projects as temples give solace to the mind," he says. "In your profession you always work for your family and money. Of course, you work for your own mental satisfaction also. But here the ultimate goal is different. We are working for our own mental satisfaction and for a spiritual goal."
Mr. Damle sees special significance in the Glory of India project. "This will be an important project not only for Delhi but for all of India. This Delhi area—Hastinapura—is the karma-bhumi [place of activities] of Lord Krsna. So if such a temple comes in this area, it is a pleasure for everybody.
"I think it is my honor to get associated with this project. God has given me a chance to do it."
Ravindra Bhan, landscape architect
Mr. Bhan got involved in the Glory of India project through Gopala Krsna Goswami, whom he knew through a mutual friend in Canada. "Maharaja mentioned to me that they were going to build a temple in Delhi and I should get involved. So I said, 'Certainly. Any time you tell me I shall be there.' "
Because the site of the temple is hilly and rocky, some had considered it undesirable. But Mr. Bhan thinks differently. "The site is very exciting, and though there are technical difficulties, one would like to keep the rocks and preserve the character of the site."
Rather than using ground and water and trees as "fillers," Mr. Bhan takes a holistic approach. The buildings, he says, should become "an integral part of the landscape."
Mr. Bhan plans to use water extensively. In the hot climate of Delhi, especially in the summer months, water will be especially welcome.
"My approach as a designer will be to use water as an element of life. How can we work with this element of life, which is really a primordial element: from your birth to your death, water is there, in every aspect of your life. And even by sound the water in nature becomes a part of your inner experience. Water can murmur, it can gush, it can roar, it can trickle, it can drop. You name it, and water can do it. And how do you take these sounds—very subtle sounds—and mix them with the environment?
"Suppose you have somewhere a meditative area. The water should have a trickling sort of effect. If it is an area where a lot of people congregate, the sound should be slightly more, so that the water becomes dominant and the sound of the people becomes subservient. So as a designer I am asking, How can I use water as a major element of the design?
"And also we have to introduce a lot of trees. The building should emerge out of the trees. Lord Krsna is always associated with nature—the kadamba forest. He's the one God in the Hindu scripture whom you find with natural things—the water, the river, trees, the cows ... So to honor Lord Krsna the landscape must come alive."
Amar Singh Rana, site inspector
Amar Singh Rana is a civil engineer with thirty years of experience. He originally comes from Himachal Pradesh. Looking for a suitable school for his son, he came to ISKCON and later received spiritual initiation from Lokanath Swami. His initiated name is Atmarama Dasa. Atmarama oversees the work of the contractor, checking bills, workmanship, and quality of materials, and makes sure that what's constructed meets the drawings.
C. J. Dave, project director
Mr. Dave was formerly a member of the board of directors of Dastur and Company, one of the world's largest consulting firms in the steel industry. Now he devotes his full time to the devotional service of Lord Krsna. You'll find out more about his story on page 51.
Ramesh Khosla, interior designer (photo unavailable)
Recently joining the Glory of India project is Mr. Ramesh Khosla, the senior partner of a leading architectural company in Montreal. Mr. Khosla is the recipient of several international awards in architecture, including the Aga Khan Award. Though an architect, he specializes in interior decoration. Apart from other major buildings, he has designed the interiors for several leading hotels in Asia and around the world.
Lokanath Swami, spiritual leader
Among the spiritual leaders for the Vedic Cultural Center is Lokanath Swami. Originally from Maharashtra, Lokanath Swami joined ISKCON in New Delhi in 1971. He is now coordinating ISKCON's worldwide programs to celebrate the Srila Prabhupada Centennial, in 1996. One of the offerings to honor Srila Prabhupada in that year will be the new Vedic Cultural Center.
Lokanath Maharaja reminds us of the time Srila Prabhupada spent in Delhi before going to the West. "He did his printing here—printing of the Bhagavatam. And Delhi is where he first published his Back to Godhead. Prabhupada would go to the printer, practically on an empty stomach, and sometimes he'd carry loads of paper on his head. In Delhi Srila Prabhupada preached in different temples. He met different prime ministers. And he had a kind of preaching center at Chippiwada, in Old Delhi. Srila Prabhupada had a connection with Delhi, and so the Glory of India project will also testify to the glory of Srila Prabhupada."
Trikalajna Dasa, temple president
Trikalajna Dasa, a devotee with a background as a civil engineer, moved from London to Delhi to serve as president of the Cultural Center. One virtue of the Center that especially interests him: It will be educational for diplomats from abroad.
"Having been in the West and having seen how people in Europe and America sometimes mistreat our movement, I feel that if their representatives in India can understand us properly, maybe we won't have to face the kind of unnecessary difficulties we've had to go through.
"We want to give diplomats a true and proper understanding of the Vedic culture, and ISKCON is the one organization that can do that with a very clear understanding."
Another focus of his interest: to invite schools and colleges and university students.
"If trained to understand that the ways of the Vedic culture are not simply rituals and rites but have great meaning, young people will not only appreciate but will follow. And if they follow, then naturally the country will improve."
Though the Center is still just an emerging structure of steel and bricks, Trikalajna is looking ahead. "In every corner of Delhi there should be some branch or some center where people can come and reach us easily and take the benefits that we have to offer. Then they can easily make their life spiritually conscious and sublime."
"Krsna Makes All the Arrangements"
An interview with Mr. C. J. Dave (Caturmasya Dasa), Project Director for the Glory of India Cultural Center.
Though in 1980 he had given a donation to ISKCON and in that way become formally a member, in fact, he says, he hardly knew anything about ISKCON or Krsna consciousness.
Here he tells how he came to be an ISKCON devotee and took up a leading role in building the Glory of India Vedic Cultural Center.
In the morning when I used to travel in my car, from Bhandra to Bombay, the drive would take one hour, and I would read the newspaper, because that's the only time I used to get.
So by the merest chance, one day I was traveling in my car and reading a newspaper, and I saw that one ISKCON devotee by the name Rasaraja Prabhu was going to conduct introductory Bhagavad-gita classes at Opera House, near Indian Merchants Chambers, near my office. And it was convenient for me at 5:30 to go and attend the class.
I went basically as an inquisitive person. Rasaraja was a young man, an engineer by profession, with a Master's degree from BITS Pilani, and then working for Ford Motor Company in America—I saw his resume—and I was impressed. So I thought, "This young man is going to speak about Bhagavad-gita. Let me go and hear."
Before that I had read a number of Bhagavad-gita books—by Mahatma Gandhi, Vinoba Bhave, Radhakrishnan, Swami Chinmayanand, Swami Sivanand—but I didn't have any direction. I used to find pleasure in reading, but beyond that—whether I should do anything or not do anything or whether the book had any practical application—I didn't know anything much about it.
Then when I attended the classes by Rasaraja Prabhu, I was impressed: "There is something in Bhagavad-gita. I have now understood something."
When the course was over, after six weeks, I went abroad for my business again, but when I came back I became very seriously ill—I had to undergo three operations.
By Krsna's mercy, when I was sick in the hospital bed I used to read Srila Prabhupada's Bhagavad-gita. I read it a number of times. Then other books. Then I bought Prabhupada's cassettes also.
Then I realized that there was something I had been missing all along. I was on the wrong track. I realized that. So when I recovered I started going regularly to the ISKCON temple on Sunday. I told everybody, "On Sunday I'll have no social calls, no social meetings. I must go to the temple and take prasada there."
"What Will You Do The Whole Day?"
So that is how I made a beginning. I attended some Bhagavad-gita classes conducted by Gopala Krsna Maharaja downtown. Then Sridhara Swami gave some classes on Isopanisad. Then Rasaraja conducted classes on Vedanta-sutra and the Vedas. So I went on attending more and more and more and more, and I got more interested. And I decided that I should at least use my time in the car, while going to the office and returning home, to read Bhagavad-gita.
Then whenever I used to meet the temple maharajas and other devotees they used to say, "Are you doing chanting?" I did not understand the importance of chanting. I thought, "Reading is more important, to understand the knowledge." But then they were insisting, "No, no, you should also do some chanting." So I started chanting. In my car, while going I would chant, and while coming I would read.
Then one day on my own I decided, "Now I should retire from my business," and I tendered my resignation to my chairman.
My chairman said, "Why do you want to resign? What will you do the whole day?"
I said, "I want to now engage myself in devotional service."
He said, "What will you do the whole day? You can do it two hours, three hours ... You'll get tired."
I said, "No, it should be all right for me."
Then he said, "All right, we'll make some arrangement. You go in the morning to the temple, attend classes, and instead of coming to the office at nine o'clock you can come at eleven o'clock." They gave me that facility.
Meanwhile I decided that I should visit Mayapur with my wife and family. There I used to attend mangala-arati, and then Gopala Krsna Maharaja saw me one day and said, "You are from Bombay?"
I said, "Yes, Maharaja, I'm from Bombay."
"What do you do?"
I said, "I'm doing this." I told him what I was doing.
"Then you come and see me when you are in Bombay."
So I went and met him. Then I said, "Maharaja, I have retired, and I want to have some seva [some service to do]."
He said, "Why don't you come to Delhi and see the site? You could be useful as an engineer."
So that's how I got involved.
I finally left my job, and I have no regret about that. Many people—friends and all—said, "You are a fool. You are making a mistake. You have got all the comfort. You have got all the facility. You have got a car, and everything is at your disposal. The chairman likes you very much. Why do you want to leave?"
I said, "No, I have this idea. I must do it." I was firm in that.
So this is how I came into this Krsna consciousness movement, and I am very happy to be here, extremely happy.
I was initiated by Gopala Krsna Maharaja in May 1991. And now I realize I should have become Krsna conscious much earlier. I regret the time lost. Now whatever time is available, I must use it fully for Krsna consciousness. That is why I am here.
Getting Involved In The Project
Before my retirement, for one year—in 1990 and '91—I was coming twice every month to Delhi, on behalf of the company. The company was paying my expenses, and while in Delhi I was attending to ISKCON, getting things done, following the contractor, and like that.
When I came to the site the first time, not being an architect I was feeling, "How will I be able to manage things?" Though I had worked in steel plants and handled bigger projects, this was altogether different.
And when I came here, Gopala Krsna Maharaja was not very happy, because there was no progress on the work. I would come after a month, and every time I would see that nothing was moving. We had an architect—not Mr. Jauhri but another man—but he wasn't able to get the work done. So I saw that we had to have a very experienced architect.
In my consulting firm, Dastur and Company, we had a panel of architects from all over India. So I asked the director in my head office, in Calcutta, "Who are some architects I can depend on in Delhi?" He gave me the name of Khanvinde and two or three other people.
So I called Khanvinde from Bombay, and I said, "I want to come to Delhi and meet you. I have heard about you from Mr. Kulkarni, and I want your assistance."
He said, "Yes, Kulkarni has told me. But why do you want to come here? I am coming to Bombay, and we can meet." So I arranged for him to have dinner with me at my house.
At my house we began chatting, and he said, "Mr. Kulkarni has told about you, that you are a director and you are very much liked by Dastur and Company. Why are you resigning?"
So I told him the whole story. "I've had enough of this, and what will I gain if I continue to work? I may earn a couple of lakhs rupees more, but that is not going to help me. And I realize that I have to give up all these things."
So I narrated the whole thing. And then I told him, with folded hands, "I need your guidance and help. I am in the dark. I know how to go about and manage things, but I want your association on this project."
He said, "Well, it's not correct ethically for me to get involved, because you already have an architect."
So I said, "Ok, I have got an architect, but you can be a personal guide to me. You at least should guide me how to go about it."
So he started getting involved. He was a very nice man, very humble and nice. And by Krsna's mercy we were on the right track. Khanvinde brought Damle and other people together, and everything fell into place.
But money was a big problem. Normally an architect charges a fee of four to five percent for a contract of this type. For a ten-crore project, that meant forty or fifty lakhs of rupees. So I said, "There must be some way we can save the money for the temple." So we talked with Khanvinde, and he said, "I will devote my time. You hire one or two junior architects and take a small place, and on my way to the office and coming back from the office I will guide the men and get the thing done."
And because his name was there, other architects also wanted to work with him and not charge anything. So everything, by Krsna's mercy and Maharaja's mercy, worked out all right.
"Krsna Does Everything"
When the architectural matters were going nicely, I was looking for someone who could work on the site, because I am not a construction man. I know construction broadly, but details I don't know.
So I was again praying to the Lord, "OK, how do I manage things at the site?" And this is how I located Rana. He was coming to the temple weekly, and I came to know he was a civil engineer and a disciple of Lokanath Maharaja. And Lokanath Maharaja said, "Why don't you involve him in your project? He has construction experience."
One by one, everything fell in line. This was my experience. So I feel that when you are sincere at it, Krsna makes all the arrangements. I don't have to do it. I only try to see that we work sincerely, and the work will be done by Krsna. He does everything. I am convinced.
The worldwide activities of the International Society for Krishna Consciousness (ISKCON)
A new book exposes a coverup of extensive scientific evidence for a picture of human origins radically different from the one most scientists accept. The book, The Hidden History of the Human Race, was written by Richard L. Thompson (Sadaputa Dasa) and Michael A. Cremo (Drutakarma Dasa), both frequent contributors to BTG. It is a briefer version of their Forbidden Archeology, which was previewed last year in our May/June issue.
Forbidden Archeology has been creating a considerable stir. Wrote the renowned anthropologist Richard S. Leakey, "Your book is pure humbug and does not deserve to be taken seriously by anyone but a fool." Among the many scientists who disagree is Dr. David Heppell of the Department of Natural History at the Royal Museum of Scotland. The book, he writes, is "a very comprehensive and scholarly compilation and appraisal of the available information on the subject. Whether one accepts the evidence presented or not, it certainly looks as if there will no longer be any excuse for ignoring it."(Please see the ad on page 23 for more information.)
The Hare Krsna movement's Institute for Applied Spiritual Technology, in Washington, D. C., offers Krsna conscious lectures, workshops, and seminars in such diverse areas as stress management, time management, conflict resolution, male-female relationships, and health and fitness. The programs at the Institute, headed by Bhaktitirtha Swami, attract people from all walks of life.
Govinda's Buffet has re-opened, next door to the Hare Krsna temple in Los Angeles. The restaurant had been located a block away.
Devotees thwarted a thief's attempt to rob Govinda's Gifts last May in Los Angeles. The gift shop is located above Govinda's Buffet. The man had held a handgun to the head of a devotee saleswoman and pulled the trigger, but the gun didn't fire. As the thief tried to run, two devotees caught up with him and subdued him until the police came.
Devotees produce and broadcast monthly Krsna conscious programs for four cable channels in Los Angeles.
Govinda's Restaurant in Tucson, Arizona, serves 150 people a day. The restaurant, opened two years ago, also trains managers and cooks for Krsna conscious restaurants in other locations.
The Bhaktivedanta Archives is planning its next major project: reprinting all the back issues of Back to Godhead, in hardbound volumes. Look for details in upcoming issues of BTG.
September programs at ISKCON's Pennsylvania farm: Labor Day retreat, September 3-5. Gita Nagari Institute seminars, September 6-11. See page 58 for details.
Devotees in Zagreb, Croatia, now worship Deities of Gaura-Nitai (Caitanya Mahaprabhu and Nityananda Prabhu). About a hundred guests attended the installation ceremony in May.
The Bhaktivedanta Institute has received formal approval to start a one-year Master of Science degree program in Consciousness Studies, in collaboration with the Birla Institute of Technology and Science (BITS) at Palani. BITS is one of India's top technical schools. The program will run at Bombay, starting from Fall 1995. The BI staff will design and teach the courses. BITS will award the degrees.
A devotee-run nature-cure hospital has been established on a six-acre plot in Manipur. The hospital has two doctors and six assistants.
The Vaisnava Institute for Higher Education will hold fall semester (October 7-November 1) at the Krsna-Balarama Mandir in Vrndavana. Students can choose from more than a dozen courses. Open to all. See page 59 for details.
Devotees from around the world will walk on pilgrimage through the Vrndavana area during the month of Kartika (October 20-November 18). Lokanath Swami, coordinator of Padayatra Worldwide, will lead the tour, known as the annual Vraja Mandala Parikrama.
Srila Prabhupada Centennial—1996
When twenty-five devotees traveled in June to Gangotri, the source of the Ganges, they collected water each ISKCON temple can use to bathe its figure of Srila Prabhupada on his appearance anniversary in 1996. Devotees plan to go all over India to collect water from a thousand sacred places. Each ISKCON temple will receive a kailasa (covered metal pitcher) with a mixture of all one thousand waters to bathe Srila Prabhupada.
In Pandharpur, Maharashtra, devotees will celebrate the tenth anniversary of Padayatra India on Radhastami, the appearance day of Srimati Radharani. A group of devotees began walking from Dvaraka, on the west coast, in 1984.
At the end of May one hundred devotees danced, chanted and walked to the village of Dagotiere, the fiftieth village the Padayatra has visited in Mauritius. The walk marked the Padayatra's second anniversary. Devotees plan to visit every village in Mauritius by the end of 1996.
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,
We should always keep Krsna within our minds, for Krsna is like the sun. This is the motto of our Back to Godhead magazine: Krsna is just like the brilliant sun, and maya, ignorance, is just like darkness. When the sun is present, there cannot be darkness. So if we keep ourselves in Krsna consciousness always, we cannot be influenced by the darkness of ignorance; rather, we shall always walk very freely in the bright sunshine of Krsna.
—His Divine Grace A.C. Bhaktivedanta Swami Prabhupada,
Even the entirety of whatever there may be within the three worlds to satisfy one's senses cannot satisfy a person whose senses are uncontrolled.
—Lord Vamanadeva, Srimad-Bhagavatam 8.19.21
There is nothing more sinful than untruthfulness. Because of this, Mother Earth once said, "I can bear any heavy thing except a person who is a liar."
—Bali Maharaja, Srimad-Bhagavatam 8.20.4
The prayers of the impersonalists offend the Lord more than denunciation by His avowed enemies.
—Srila Bhaktisiddhanta Sarasvati Thakura,
I desire to be in Vrndavana so that I may sit on the bank of the Yamuna and pass each long day of my life in the twinkling of an eye, meditating on Lord Krsna.
—Adi Sankaracarya, Abhilasastaka
There is no friend equal to knowledge. There is no enemy equal to disease. There is no affection equal to that received from one's own child. And there is no strength superior to the will of God.
Of secret things I am silence.
—Lord Krsna, Bhagavad-gita 10.38
The person who has not at any time received the dust of the feet of the Lord's pure devotee upon his head is certainly a dead body. And the person who has never experienced the aroma of the tulasi leaves from the lotus feet of the Lord is also a dead body, although breathing.
—Saunaka Rsi, Srimad-Bhagavatam 2.3.23
Give up the shackles of matter slowly. Cultivate your spirit inwards. Give up prejudices which you have acquired from the so-called rational thinkers who deny the existence of spirit. Be humble in your self and learn to respect those who work towards spiritual attainments. Do these with your heart, mind, and strength in the company of spiritual people alone, and you will see Krsna in no time.
—Srila Bhaktivinoda Thakura,
There is no stronger obstruction to one's self-interest than thinking other subject matters to be more pleasing than one's self-realization.
—Sanat Kumara, Srimad-Bhagavatam 4.22.32