Statement of Purposes
1. To help all people discern reality from illusion, spirit from matter, the eternal from the temporary.
A Glimpse of a Krsna Conscious World
Back to Godhead often brings you India's holy sites. In this issue, for the first time, we bring you a whole state—Manipur.
When Lord Krsna descended five hundred years ago as Sri Caitanya Mahaprabhu, He predicted that someday Krsna consciousness would spread to every town and village in the world. Not long after Lord Caitanya left this world, devotees in His line carried Krsna consciousness to Manipur. So since the seventeenth century the people of Manipur, like the members of the International Society for Krishna Consciousness, have been Gaudiya Vaisnavas, devotees of Krsna and Sri Caitanya Mahaprabhu.
Manipur was not an Indian state when the people there became Gaudiya Vaisnavas, and in many ways its culture was quite different from that of Krsna pilgrimage centers in India like Vrndavana and Mayapur. But Krsna consciousness took hold there, thanks to an intelligent and pious king who saw Krsna consciousness not as a foreign religion but as the Absolute Truth.
Because Krsna consciousness is the original pure consciousness of every living being, it has nothing to do with race, nationality, or ethnic origin. Yet Manipuris worship Krsna with their own colorful traditions. Unique Manipuri styles of art, music, and dance express familiar Krsna conscious themes. And the people of Manipur worship Krsna in ways they find natural for them. People anywhere in the world can do the same.
To some degree that's already happening, by the mercy of His Divine Grace A.C. Bhaktivedanta Swami Prabhupada. When Prabhupada's followers gather in India for ISKCON's annual festivals, thousands of devotees from dozens of countries, speaking dozens of languages, chant Hare Krsna together as one. And we often notice in a lead singer's style the flavor of a far-off land.
Vedic scriptures tell us that Lord Caitanya's advent launched a 10,000-year period in which Krsna consciousness will become prominent all over the world. What will it be like to live in a world where almost everyone is Krsna conscious? Manipur gives us a clue. While the Vaisnava culture there may not be as strong as it once was, it is still strong nonetheless. And the response of the people to the pure Vaisnava teachings of Srila Prabhupada gives hope that it can become still stronger.
Manipur is a difficult place to visit, because the government allows few foreigners to enter. But last spring BTG editor Jayadvaita Swami was part of a group of ISKCON devotees allowed a short visit. His report opens our special 21-page section on this unique state.
Thanks for a Million and More
I always enjoy reading BTG and I found this issue [July/August] particularly interesting. The graphic article on the repression of our Armenian devotees was especially moving, and Ravindra Svarupa's explanation of the origin of the conditioned soul was simply brilliant.
Having attended the opening of Srila Prabhupada's Pushpa Samadhi [memorial temple] in Mayapur this year, I was also pleased to see your four-page coverage of this historical event. However, I believe BTG was seriously remiss in not mentioning even once the name of the devotee who made this wonderful monument possible. I mean, of course, Sriman Ambarisa Dasa, who donated more than $1 million for the building. You even included a photo of Ambarisa Prabhu bathing Srila Prabhupada's murti but failed to identify him.
Srila Prabhupada was always careful to recognize devotees for the service they render. As he often said, we are not impersonalists.
OUR REPLY: You're right. Ambarisa Prabhu deserves our special thanks.
Also worthy of recognition: Surabhi Dasa for designing the building, Matsya Avatara Dasa for completing the interior design, Pancaratna Dasa, Kadamba Kanana Dasa, and Sadbhuja Dasa for overseeing construction, the Sri Mayapur Development Committee for all sorts of work, the Bhaktivedanta Book Trust and many ISKCON temples for financial contributions, and the many other devotees who gave of themselves for Srila Prabhupada's samadhi in various ways. And again, special thanks to Ambarisa Dasa.
Tears for the Victims
I was reading the July/August Back to Godhead magazine, and the article "Persecution in Armenia" really touched my heart. After reading the article, I could not stop the tears falling out of my eyes. The devotees over there who were victimized felt like my own family, even though I have never heard of them before.
Monica also sent a letter to the president of Armenia, signed by her and forty of her teenage friends, asking him to protect the devotees of Krsna in his country.—Editor
Preach and Compete
Hare Krsna. I am ten years old and a devotee of Krsna. I am writing to thank all of you who produce BTG magazine. Its many articles and features have helped to inspire me. My father has always preached to my brothers and sisters and me of the glory of Krsna and service to Him.
I recently took up karate, and Krsna consciousness has greatly helped me in my training. Throughout a recent five-day tournament, many coaches and competitors inquired about the Jagannatha bead bag my father was wearing. In this way we were able to preach about Krsna throughout the tournament.
Thanks again for your inspiring work.
Aaron Jai Jevons
While going through our school's old magazines in the library, I came across an old issue of your devotional magazine. I was really taken with it. All your articles and photographs were heart-touching, especially "Srila Prabhupada Speaks Out."
Every day I went through the same magazine, and it has really changed my inner self. Right now, I am impatiently searching for a true peace. I am dying to do something in life through devotional dedication towards God. That would really lead me to fulfill my desire.
Who's Who of the Gods Is Welcome in Trinidad
The current BTG feature "The Glories of the Demigods," by Satyaraja Dasa, is most welcome for us here in Trinidad and Tobago. Both the Hindus and the non-Hindus appreciate the opportunity to understand who is who amongst the devata-demigods and understand the difference between them and Krsna or Sri Ramacandra. We encourage Satyaraja Prabhu to continue.
Rama Devi Dasi
In the September/October issue, we neglected to give the name of the artist who did the painting on the inside front cover. The artist's name is Bhakta Nicolai Zibovski, from Ukraine, Russia.
In the July/August issue (page 23), the address for the Armenian Embassy in the United States was incorrect. The correct address is 1660 L. St. NW, Suite 210, Washington DC 20036.
We regret the errors.
How much the earth gives forth her bounty depends on the spiritual quality of those who rule her lands.
A lecture given in Tehran, Iran, on March 13, 1975
by His Divine Grace
nisamya bhismoktam athacyutoktam
kamam vavarsa parjanyah
Maharaja Yudhisthira, after being enlightened by what was spoken by Bhismadeva and Lord Sri Krsna, the infallible, engaged himself in matters of perfect knowledge because all his misgivings were eradicated. Thus he ruled over the earth and seas and was followed by his younger brothers.
During the reign of Maharaja Yudhisthira, the clouds showered all the water that people needed, and the earth produced all the necessities of man in profusion. Due to its fatty milk bag and cheerful attitude, the cow used to moisten the grazing ground with milk.—Srimad-Bhagavatam 1.10.3-4
After the Battle of Kuruksetra, Yudhisthira Maharaja was unwilling to accept the kingdom. He thought, "For me so many men have been killed on the battlefield. I am so sinful. I am not fit for the throne." But great personalities like Bhismadeva, Lord Krsna, and Vyasadeva requested, "No, there is no fault with you. It was a fight. It was right. So you can reign."
Yudhisthira thought, "These great personalities have given their opinion that there was no wrong on my part." So he agreed to rule.
It is said here, sasasa gam indra ivajitasrayah: "He ruled the earth as perfectly as King Indra rules heaven." How was Yudhisthira able to do that? Ajitasrayah—he ruled completely as a devotee. The king can rule the country—the world—if he takes shelter of Krsna. Ajitasrayah means "Krsna conscious, God conscious." A Krsna conscious person, one advised by the sastra, scripture, can rule the whole world or any part of the world exactly like Indra, the king of heaven, who rules perfectly.
[Reads from his purport to text 3:] "The modern English law of primogeniture, or the law of inheritance by the firstborn, was also prevalent in those days when Maharaja Yudhisthira ruled the earth and the seas. In those days the king of Hastinapura (now part of New Delhi) was the emperor of the world, including the seas, up to the time of Maharaja Pariksit, the grandson of Maharaja Yudhisthira. Maharaja Yudhisthira's younger brothers were acting as his minister and commanders of state, and there was full cooperation between the perfectly religious brothers of the king.
"Maharaja Yudhisthira was the ideal king or representative of Lord Sri Krsna to rule over the kingdom of earth and was comparable to King Indra, the representative ruler of the heavenly planet. The demigods like Indra, Candra, Surya, Varuna, and Vayu are representative kings of different planets of the universe. And similarly Maharaja Yudhisthira was also one of them, ruling over the kingdom of the earth.
"Maharaja Yudhisthira was not a typically unenlightened political leader of modern democracy. Maharaja Yudhisthira was instructed by Bhismadeva and the infallible Lord also, and therefore he had full knowledge of everything in perfection.
"The modern elected executive head of the state is just like a puppet because he has no kingly power. Even if he is enlightened like Maharaja Yudhisthira, he cannot do anything out of his own good will due to his constitutional position. Therefore, there are so many states over the earth quarreling because of ideological differences or other selfish motives. But a king like Maharaja Yudhisthira had no ideology of his own. He had but to follow the instruction of the infallible Lord and the Lord's representative and the authorized agent, Bhismadeva.
"It is instructed in the sastras that one should follow the great authority and the infallible Lord without any personal motive and manufactured ideology. Therefore, it was possible for Maharaja Yudhisthira to rule the whole world, including the seas, because the principles were infallible and universally applicable to everyone.
"The conception of one world state can only be fulfilled if we can follow the infallible authority. An imperfect human being cannot create an ideology acceptable to everyone. Only the perfect and the infallible can create a program which is applicable at every place and can be followed by all in the world. It is the person who rules, and not the impersonal government. If the person is perfect, the government is perfect. If the person is a fool, the government is a fool's paradise. That is the law of nature.
"There are so many stories of imperfect kings or executive heads. Therefore, the executive head must be a trained person like Maharaja Yudhisthira, and he must have the full autocratic power to rule over the world. The conception of a world state can take shape only under the regime of a perfect king like Maharaja Yudhisthira. The world was happy in those days because there were kings like Maharaja Yudhisthira to rule over the world."
Everything from the Earth
Let the king follow Maharaja Yudhisthira and show an example of how monarchy can make a perfect state. He can do that if he follows the instructions in the sastras. He will get the power.
Because Yudhisthira Maharaja was a perfect king, a representative of Krsna, it is said of his rule, kamam vavarsa parjanyah: "During the reign of Maharaja Yudhisthira, the clouds showered all the water people needed."
Parjanyah means "rainfall." Rainfall is the basic principle of supply for all necessities of life. Therefore Krsna says in the Bhagavad-gita:
annad bhavanti bhutani
"All living bodies subsist on food grains, which are produced from rains. Rains are produced by performance of yajna [sacrifice], and yajna is born of prescribed duties."
The head of state is responsible to see that everyone is happy—both man and animal. The rascal state executives sometimes make a show of benefiting man, but they do nothing to benefit the animals. Why this injustice? The animals are also born in this land. They are also living entities. They may be animals, with less intelligence than man, but does that mean slaughterhouses should be constructed for killing them? Is that justice?
Also, the king should give shelter to anyone who comes to his state. Why should he make distinctions? If a person comes and says, "Sir, I want to live in your state," that person must be given all facilities. Why this, "No, no, you cannot come. You are American. You are Indian. You are ... "?
If a king follows the Vedic principles, he will be an ideal king. He will be a good leader. And nature will help him. Therefore it is said that during the reign of Maharaja Yudhisthira, sarva-kama-dugha mahi: "The earth produced all the necessities of man in profusion." Mahi means "the earth." You get all your necessities from the earth. They fall from the sky in the form of rain. People do not know the science of how things come from the earth. Under certain conditions and astral influences the rain falls, and then so many things are produced—the valuable stones, the pearls. People do not know how these things come.
If the king is pious, nature cooperates to help him. And if the king or the government is impious, then nature will not cooperate. We get information about this from the Fourth Canto of the Srimad-Bhagavatam. When the earth was not supplying, the king, Prthu Maharaja, was about to punish her. She said, "This is my duty. Because people are demons, I must restrict the supply."
Leaders think that simply by passing a resolution in the Parliament they will make everything come. They think they can be rascals and everyone will be happy. But the leaders will not make the world happy, and their behavior will simply deteriorate more and more.
The Only Sacrifice
Krsna never says, "The factory will make the people healthy and strong." But government rascals are promoting factories. Then how will the people be happy? By performing ugra-karma—"horrible work"—the people will be unhappy, dissatisfied rogues. Where has Krsna said, "Open factories for economic development"? Nowhere.
Here it is said that all economic development will be complete simply by regular rainfall. Kamam vavarsa parjanyah. Kamam means "all necessities of life." Modern scientists, philosophers, and politicians do not know this. We are getting so many things. How are they supplied? It is clearly said, kamam vavarsa parjanyah: "The necessities are supplied by rain." And how will the rain be regular? Yajnad bhavati parjanyah: "By yajna, sacrifice."
Where are sacrifices to be found? In Kali-yuga, the present age of quarrel and hypocrisy, sacrifices are very difficult to perform. There is no money. There are no qualified brahmanas. Therefore the sastra says, yajnaih sankirtana-prayair yajanti hi sumedhasah: "In Kali-yuga intelligent persons will perform the sacrifice of chanting the holy names of the Lord." Those who have brain substance, not cow dung, in their heads will take this process.
Let everyone chant Hare Krsna, in every home. Whatever people have, all right. Just begin chanting. Just see what happens. We are trying to introduce the chanting, but rascals will not take it. There is no loss if people chant Hare Krsna worldwide. Where is the loss? But still, they will not.
Everything can be had from the chanting. Sarva-kama-dugha mahi. The earth is the mother, and Krsna has arranged that everything will come from the earth. Everything is coming. The rose is coming, the mine is coming, the gold is coming, the coal is coming, the petrol is coming. Everything is there in the earth. And if there is regular rainfall, you get everything you need. And by performing sacrifice, you get regular rainfall. In this age all other types of sacrifice are impossible:
harer nama harer nama
"In the Age of Kali one can attain the goal of life by chanting the holy names of the Lord. There is no other way."
So introduce the chanting of Hare Krsna. What is the loss for people? Let the chanting go on home to home, office to office, factory to factory. Let there be factories, but let all the factory members be engaged in chanting, and supply them prasadam, food offered to Krsna. There will be no more strikes. There will be no more communist movements. Everything is available. Everything will be all right.
The Krsna consciousness movement is not sentimental fanaticism. It is not a religious movement. It is a scientific movement for the good of the whole world. We have to convince people of this by our character, by our behavior. Then people will accept the Krsna consciousness movement.
Now they think it is a type of religious movement. And for them "religious" means fanaticism. Krsna consciousness is not like that. It is not meant for fighting other religions. The British created fighting between Hindus and Muslims. Before that, there was no religious fight in the history of India. The Kuruksetra fight was political. That was not a religious fight on the basis of "You are Hindu. I am Muslim. Therefore we must fight." There was no such fighting in Indian history.
On the material platform your interest and mine sometimes clash, and there may be fighting. But why fight in God consciousness? If everyone is God conscious, where is the question of fighting?
Thank you very much.
"Why Did This Have To Happen To Me?"
By Satsvarupa Dasa Goswami
KRSNA ALWAYS ACTS for everyone's welfare. This is true, even though we cannot always understand it. Therefore, even if we are put into an awkward or difficult situation, we should see it as Krsna's mercy and arrangement.
The Srimad-Bhagavatam tells the story of Bali Maharaja and Vamanadeva. Vamanadeva is the Supreme Personality of Godhead, appearing in the form of a small brahmana boy. He goes to Bali Maharaja and begs three paces of land, "as paced by My own steps." As the story progresses, Vamanadeva reveals His universal form. His first two steps claim the whole universe, and Bali is then unable to fulfill his promise of three. Thus he is put into difficulty. Vamanadeva arrests him with the ropes of Varuna, and his wife and guru reject him.
The Bhagavatam tells us, however, that Bali Maharaja is neither ashamed nor aggrieved at his arrest. Instead, he addresses Vamanadeva as follows: "Many demons who were continuously inimical toward You finally achieved the perfection of great mystic yogis. Your Lordship can perform one work to serve many purposes, and consequently, although You have punished me in many ways, I do not feel ashamed of having been arrested by the ropes of Varuna, nor do I feel aggrieved." (Bhag. 8.22.6)
Srila Prabhupada explains in his purport to this section that Bali Maharaja appreciated the Lord's mercy and the fact that the Lord distributes His mercy liberally. "Bali Maharaja was indeed a fully surrendered devotee, but even some demons who are not at all devotees but merely enemies of the Lord attained the same exalted position achieved by many mystic yogis. Thus Bali Maharaja could understand that the Lord had some hidden purpose in punishing him. Consequently he was neither unhappy nor ashamed because of the awkward position in which he had been put by the Supreme Personality of Godhead."
Why would someone feel ashamed to be put in such an awkward position? Because one likes to appear victorious, especially in front of friends and relatives. Also, one might be ashamed to be degraded in front of the greatest personality, the Supreme Lord.
Bali had lost all his material possessions—everything from home and kingdom to the respect of his family members. Bali at that time was ruling the whole universe. He had a lot to lose. But instead of being ashamed or aggrieved, Bali was jubilant. He accepted everything that happened to him as Krsna's plan, and he had faith that even this awkward situation was created by Krsna for his own good.
Although we like to learn from the people in the Bhagavatam, we cannot pretend to be on the same platform as they. Bali was arrested by Krsna personally. We may not have the fortune to be punished directly by Krsna. Instead, we are punished indirectly by Him, through His material energy. We can understand that our suffering or awkward situations are created by our past karma.
Srila Prabhupada tells us, however, that we are receiving only a token of what is due to us, like a murderer whose retribution is only a pinprick. The state has the right to take the murder's life, so a token reaction to his crime is like a devotee's token reaction to his past sinful life.
A devotee who recognizes this lives by this verse from Srimad-Bhagavatam: "My dear Lord, one who earnestly waits for You to bestow Your causeless mercy upon him, all the while patiently suffering the reactions of his past misdeeds and offering You respectful obeisances, with his heart, words, and body, is surely eligible for liberation, for it has become his rightful claim." This verse depicts Bali Maharaja's attitude.
In another section of the Bhagavatam, we read of Maharaja Yudhisthira lamenting that so many people were killed to set him on the throne. Yudhisthira wanted to mitigate his suffering by understanding things had to happen that way. Bhismadeva then began describing how the Pandavas had already suffered so much, although they did not deserve to suffer. Since the Pandavas were all pure devotees of Krsna, they could not be suffering from sinful reactions. They were destined to suffer by providence, the influence of time. When we are suffering, therefore, we can only be tolerant.
Bhisma then turned to Yudhisthira and said: "In my opinion, this is all due to inevitable time, under whose control every person in every planet is carried, just as the clouds are carried by the wind."
Even pious people have to suffer the miseries of the material nature. Still, we want to know more. What is this time, under whose influence everyone has to suffer? Prabhupada explains that kala, time, is identical with Krsna Himself and therefore the influence of time indicates His inexplicable wishes. There is nothing to be lamented, because it is completely beyond our control. It is simply to be accepted. Time and death are inevitable.
It is often easier to accept how time influences others than how it influences ourselves. People ask, "Why did this have to happen to me?" But no one can know the Lord's plan. "Even though great philosophers inquire exhaustively, they are bewildered. ... It is useless to inquire about it. The best policy is simply to abide by the orders of the Lord without argument." In this way, a devotee can be at peace about life's reverses.
A further point is that Krsna can carry out many purposes with one act. He can pull down two trees like a naughty boy, and at the same time liberate the two souls embodied in them. In offering those souls liberation, He also fulfilled Narada Muni's promise to Kuvera's two sons, whom Narada had cursed to stand as trees.
When Krsna directly or indirectly punishes us, we must have faith that He is acting to bring us closer to His lotus feet. We should pray to have this realization in times of difficulty or confusion, and to understand that the real purpose of life is to satisfy the Supreme Lord, not to satisfy ourselves. Satisfying Krsna is not difficult. We simply have to take whatever situation in which we find ourselves and transform it into an opportunity for devotional service.
Therefore, Narada Muni told Srila Vyasadeva: "O brahmana Vyasadeva, it is decided by the learned that the best remedial measure for removing all troubles and miseries is to dedicate one's activities to the service of the Supreme Lord Personality of Godhead [Sri Krsna]. O good soul, does not a thing, applied therapeutically, cure a disease caused by that very same thing?" (Bhag. 1.5.32-3). Srila Prabhupada adds, "Milk preparations sometimes cause disorder of the bowels, but the very same milk converted into curd and mixed with some other remedial ingredients cures such disorders."
It is our attachment to material objects that make us suffer. If we can take those same material objects and use them in Krsna's service, that will help us go back to Godhead.
Cooking Class: Lesson 21
By Yamuna Devi
For almost thirty years I have made chutneys almost daily. Chutneys, both fresh and cooked, are piquant palate-teasing relishes that serve to accent other dishes. Readers familiar with homemade Indian chutneys know they bear little resemblance to commercial stuff that has the same name (and is most often loaded with vinegar). Homemade chutneys are served with a wide range of meals, from those with one or two dishes to banquets. And aside from invigorating flavor, the Ayur-veda says that chutney helps stimulate digestion.
With eye-catching allure, chutneys sparkle with vibrant shades of freshness: the green hues of fresh mint or coriander chutney, the golden orange of fresh mango-and-papaya chutney, the rose pink of flash-cooked cranberry, the reds of cooked tomato or plum, the alabaster white of coconut, or the sparkling yellows of cooked pineapple or fresh corn. Flecks of green in muted earth-tone chutneys of nuts or legumes signal hot chilies or fresh coriander. And the textures of chutney range from chunky and crunchy to thin and creamy.
Chutneys inspire creativity and experimentation. In a matter of minutes, with little or no effort over the stove, you have taste sensations.
Ripe, fresh ingredients are essential for outstanding chutney or salsa (which might be called "Mexican chutney"). The closer to the garden the better.
Restaurant chefs often build reputations on their chutneys and salsas. To come up with your own favorites, improvise and experiment with seasonal herbs, fruits, and vegetables.
Called taza chatni in India, fresh chutney is a loose puree of uncooked ingredients, as popular in India as pesto in Italy. But unlike oil-rich pesto, fresh chutney has hardly any or no added oil. What it does have is heat, a little to a lot, registering on the heat scale from mild to torrid-volcanic!
The good news is you have the choice. After nearly three decades my heat tolerance has stayed almost the same: I still prefer mild to medium-hot chutneys, with more flavor than heat.
Though fresh chutneys are traditionally ground on large stone mortars, they're a snap to make in a blender or food processor. Typical consistencies vary from loose paste to spoonable puree. I thin chutneys with yogurt, buttermilk, vegetable juices, or the liquid from cooked beans. I fold chutneys into steamed or baked vegetables, use them as sauces on casseroles or bean dishes, drizzle them on tikkis and mashed potatoes, mix them into vegetable, whole-grain, or pasta salads, or serve them as dips or salad dressings. You get the idea.
Served with everything from rice and dal to pakoras and samosas, cooked chutneys are irresistible. Perhaps in the near future they'll become as popular as Mexican salsas, because they're every bit as diverse. You don't need the aid of a machine here, just the rat-a-tat of the knife as you chop beautiful ingredients like plums, mangos, guavas, ginger, chilies, tomatoes, pineapples, and fresh coriander.
Like any good relish or sauce, whether simple or complex, cooked chutney has layers of texture and flavor. For example, in Pineapple-and-Raisin Chutney (in Lord Krishna's Cuisine) note the contrasts between sweet-acidic pineapple and sugary-sweet dried currants, floating in a hot, almost buttery sauce.
If you've sampled good homemade or temple chutneys, you know how ambrosial they are. If you are hearing about them for the first time, be prepared for goods you'll rarely find in a jar. Try these dishes and surprise yourself.
The Heat Connection
As I mentioned, both fresh and cooked chutneys are fueled with heat from hot chilies, ranging in intensity from mild to devilishly hot. Even if you don't like hot foods, give chilies a try. When used judiciously, they act as flavor enhancers rather than heat givers, and will spark up flavors in a dish, much like salt, lemon juice, or lime juice. It's when you use more than small amounts that the heat takes over.
You can use dried or fresh chilies. Most ethnic stores, specialty stores, and supermarkets sell dried chilies whole, crushed, and ground. Scores of varieties are now available, with wonderful flavor overtones. A few to stock are cayenne, ancho, poblano, jalapeno, chilpote (smoked jalapenos), New Mexican, Chinmayo (my favorite), and generic crushed chilies.
For fresh chilies, small chilies with pointed tips and narrow shoulders are generally the hottest. Larger chilies with a rounded base and wider shoulders indicate moderate heat with sweet overtones.
Most of the fresh chilies used in India are unavailable in the West, so it good to become familiar with alternatives. Large supermarkets now carry a pretty good variety. Large banana, poblano, and Anaheim chilies are fairly mild, smaller jalapenos are medium-hot, and Thai or serrano chilies, smaller still, are the hottest.
When handling hot chilies, wash your hands before touching your face; the juices will smart and burn your eyes. To keep the taste of your chilies above the heat, remove the seeds.
Once you've become familiar with the flavor elements in fresh chilies, chilies will likely end up in much more than your chutneys.
Readers following the classes should make several dishes from the chapter on chutney in the class textbook, Lord Krishna's Cuisine. The recipes here are not in the book. They're a few dishes I've come up with in recent recipe testing.
Srila Prabhupada on Chutney
Srila Prabhupada said several times that a simple feast means four things—chutney, puri, halva, and a vegetable. In Mayapur he recommended a feast of chutney, kicchari, a vegetable, and sweet rice.
Those engaged in Srila Prabhupada's service as personal cooks will easily recall his fondness for good chutney. On various occasions he asked for mint chutney, coconut chutney, fresh neem chutney, or cooked tomato chutney. He taught several of us how to make chutneys of neem, guava, and tomato. In Vrindavan, Prabhupada's sister Pishima showed us how to make his childhood favorite—Bengali tomato chutney.
On this Column and Cooking Class
Now, about half-way through this series of cooking classs, we are nearing Srila Prabhupada's Centennial Celebration. You may have already decided how you want to glorify him on this auspicious occasion. But certainly you'll have the opportunity to practice and share Prabhupada's teachings about cooking and prasadam.
I want to express my gratitude to Srila Prabhupada for all of his wonderful instructions to me about this subject. I feel so fortunate to be able to pass them on to you through this column in Back to Godhead. Please take them, use them, and share them with others. In this way, together we can take Srila Prabhupada's instructions and pass them on to devotees in the next century.
Roasted Corn Chutney
I came up with this chutney using just-picked Silver Queen corn from my organic gardener. It is a salsalike fresh chutney, good on its own or as a topping for baked potatoes.
1 tablespoon unrefined cold-pressed corn oil
Brush 1 ½ teaspoons of corn oil over the corn. Coat a grill rack with vegetable spray, place the corn on the grill, and place the grill over medium-hot coals or under a broiler. Cook the corn until charcoal flecked, 10 to 15 minutes, turning it to brown it evenly. Cool; then cut the kernels from the cobs.
In a bowl combine three fourths of the kernels with the fennel, bell pepper, and Anaheim pepper. Place the remaining kernels and the lime juice in a food processor and reduce to a coarse pulp. Scrape the pulp into the other ingredients. Season with salt, pepper, and cilantro. Stir well. Offer to Krsna.
Many people can't detect the nuts in this warm, gingery chutney. They just like it and want the recipe. I rarely make it the same way twice. Experiment with ingredients and come up with a few variations. This chutney is excellent thinned down for salad dressing, or with grilled eggplant, raw vegetable crudites, and endless other items.
½-inch to 1-inch piece peeled ginger root
Combine the ginger, chilies, lemon juice, and cashews in a food processor and "pulse" until chopped. Chop the peppers and put them into the processor. Process, adding water as needed, until the ingredients reduce to a smooth puree.
Transfer to a bowl, season with salt, and stir in the cilantro. Offer to Krsna. Serve, or cover and refrigerate for up to 2 days. (Chutney thickens as it sits. Thin with water as desired for spread, dip, sauce, or salad dressing.)
Fresh Cranberry Chutney
A fresh, light, sweet-tart alternative to traditional cooked cranberry chutney.
2 juicy sweet oranges
Using a zester, remove 1 teaspoon of orange zest from an orange and set it aside. Using a sharp serrated knife, peel away all of the skin and pith of the orange. Cut between the membranes to remove the orange segments. Dice the segments and set them aside. Place into a food processor any orange juice left on the cutting board.
Peel, core, and coarsely chop the pear. Place the pear, cranberries, and maple syrup into the food processor. Process, scraping the sides of the bowl as needed, until the ingredients reduce to a coarse puree.
Add the nuts. Use the "pulse" setting on the food processor to mix them into the chutney. Season with cayenne and salt. Transfer to a dish and stir in the oranges. Garnish with orange zest. Offer to Krsna.
Srila Bhaktisiddhanta Sarasvati Thakura
Srila Bhaktisiddhanta Sarasvati Thakura is the spiritual master of His Divine Grace A.C. Bhaktivedanta Swami Prabhupada. Here we present an excerpt from Srila Bhaktisiddhanta's writings:
"The knowledge of the Absolute can be had all at once; there is no factor of time or space. If we are at all intent on knowing Him, we must have some sort of objective reference for His subjective activity. Now we are busy with worldly affairs: we think we are men and women. Instead of doing so, we should be serving Him, and when He participates with our pure selves, we will be set free from all the tempting influence of the different things of Nature.
"We want that we should go back. Like a shooting star, we have strayed out of the range of His attraction. Like a comet, we are journeying without cessation. Our eternal condition is that we are absolute infinitesimals, and as such, we should dovetail with the Absolute Infinity.
"The function between Him and us is love. He is the lover. If He loves us, we will be taken back. If He has an apathetic tendency towards us, it is because we are averse to Him; and we will be undergoing 8,400,000 births and deaths, again and again. It would be judicious for us that we should go back to the Absolute Infinity, and all our engagement should be with Him, and not with anybody else."—From Colloquies With Foreigners (an essay)
by Hare Krsna Devi Dasi
On April 19 a terrorist explosion destroyed the Alfred P. Murrah Federal Building in Oklahoma City, taking the lives of 168 people, injuring hundreds more. Many people were surprised to learn that the deadly blast was caused not by some high-security military explosive but by ordinary agricultural fertilizer mixed with fuel oil. How could a peaceful substance like crop fertilizer be used for such an insane and deadly purpose?
But when I heard about the ingredients used, my mind flashed to a passage from An Agricultural Testament, written in 1940 by Sir Albert Howard, the grandfather of modern organic farming:
The feature of the manuring of the West is the use of artificial manures. The factories engaged during the Great War in the fixation of atmospheric nitrogen for the manufacture of explosives had to find other markets. The use of nitrogenous fertilizers in agriculture increased, until today the majority of farmers and market gardeners base their manurial programme on the cheapest forms of nitrogen (N), phosphorus (P), and potassium (K) on the market. What may be conveniently described as the NPK mentality dominates farming alike in the experimental stations and the countryside. Vested interests, entrenched in time of national emergency, have gained a stranglehold. (p. 18)
In other words, artificial nitrogen-based fertilizer is simply a by-product of the military technology of World War I. When the war ended, manufacturers had to find another market for nitrates, so they began to promote artificial fertilizer—with phenomenal success. Therefore when the federal office building was blown up a few months ago, the tragic fact is that the chemicals were only doing what they were originally designed to do—destroy things, and people.
It occurred to me that the devastation of the Alfred Murrah Building was only the most dramatic example of destruction by chemical fertilizer in the last fifty years. Conservationists like Sir Albert Howard have for decades lamented for soil destroyed when structure-building animal manure is replaced with powdery nitrates. Others have lamented the thousands or millions of small-farm families around the world who have been driven off the land by agribusinesses using tractors and chemical fertilizers.
I began to think how in many ways the recent history of agriculture is simply a by-product of military technology and military policy. Srila Prabhupada states, "God's gifted professions for mankind are agriculture and cow protection." (Light of the Bhagavata) That's because simple living and high thinking provide the ideal environment for spiritual advancement. But the agriculture military technology has given us is not the kind the Lord originally intended. The agrarian by-products of military history lead not to peace and spiritual advancement but to conflict and spiritual backwardness. Let me show you what I mean.
When the last war horses trudged back from the Crusades in the Middle Ages, they and their descendants were put to work in the fields. These powerful horses, bred to carry armored knights into combat, were much faster than oxen. That meant one man could plow more than twice as much acreage as before. It also meant that the ox was sent to the slaughterhouse and that many farmers were driven off their farms to the miserable towns.
Several centuries later, Eli Whitney, known for his invention of the cotton gin, with its staggering sociological and environmental effects, affected agriculture just as much by his role in founding the military-industrial complex. In 1801 he produced 10,000 muskets with interchangeable parts. Comments one author, "His startling concept of interchangeable parts also transformed American industry and launched the Machine Age."
The invention of mass-produced machines with interchangeable parts helped bring on the twentieth-century mechanization of agriculture. That gave us the tractor and combine harvester to produce food crops, and the truck, train, and steam-powered ocean vessels to transport them. By increasing productivity and marketing power for the wealthiest farmers, these technologies helped drive smaller farmers off the land to the cities—to a life less favorable for cultivating spiritual values.
A decade after Whitney's mass-produced rifles, Napoleon Bonaparte, facing food shortages caused by the British naval blockade, offered a prize for a way to preserve food. Nicholas Appert won the prize with his technique of sealing boiled vegetables in jars to prevent spoilage. The invention of canning eventually gave rise to large-scale vegetable farming geared for shipping food to long-distance markets rather than growing it for the local community. As crop prices fell, more farms folded; more people went to the city.
Whitney wasn't the only arms producer whose technology would later be used for farm machinery. In 1774 John Wilkinson invented a special lathe to create a uniform bore for cannons. That meant that James Watt finally had someone to produce the piston cylinders for the new steam engine he had designed.
Seventy years later, during the Crimean War, Henry Bessemer invented a method of rotating projectiles that required a superior quality of cast iron to produce guns strong enough to fire his new invention. His next invention was the Bessemer method of converting iron into steel—by a process that began to make steel cheap enough for a much wider range of products. Finally, in 1913, on the eve of World War I, Harry Brearley accidentally discovered stainless steel while trying to create a high-chromium steel for rifle barrels.
All these advances in arms production ultimately aided the production of large-scale mechanized farm equipment. The heavy demand for steel for military needs in World War I and World War II sped up factory efficiency, bringing prices for mechanized farm equipment within the reach of farmers—just barely.
As early as the late 1800's, paying for all this war-generated technology began to whittle away the farmer's independence. As Robert West Howard explains in The Vanishing Land (p. 85), "The middlemen's usurpation of agricultural markets via the tin can, centralized processing, and shrill salesmanship about the great advantages of iron and steel farm machines eventually crippled the farmer's self-sufficiency and made him as dependent on money as the workers in city sweatshops and tenements. Town and village banks burrowed greedily into agricultural life."
All this took place despite warnings from American farm publications: "A farmer should shun the doors of a bank as he would the plague or cholera. Banks are for traders and men of speculation, and theirs is a business with which farmers should have little to do!"
But by the first World War, thousands of farmers were induced to sell their work animals for the war and gamble their land at the bank:
Artillery and commissary needs sent more than 1.5 million horses and mules overseas, at farm prices of $200 per head and up. The "silk-shirt" years" saw land prices in the Midwest soar to $400, then $500, and finally $600 an acre. Banks and wildcat loan firms worked overtime on applications for "enough money to buy one of those tractors." (Howard, p. 160)
For thousands, the wartime gamble failed to pay off. In October 1929 the stock markets crashed, and over the next 10 years more than 750,000 American farmers lost their land. The auctions of foreclosed farms set off riots and gunfire. Again, thousands of farmers set out to seek non-existent jobs in the cities.
Apparently the only thing that could cure the Great Depression was another war—with more repercussions for farmers:
The USDA resurrected the World War I slogan of "Food will win the war"... As in the last war, millions of marginal acres were ripped open and planted to grains or cotton. New irrigation ditches gurgled the reserve water out of reservoirs and aquifers. [Swiss chemist Paul Muller discovered DDT at the beginning of World War II.] Purchase of chemical fertilizers and insecticides doubled and tripled. ... Rising prices for harvests persuaded most farmers and ranchers to complete the mechanization of their holdings. (Howard, p. 170)
Thus, by the end of the war only fifteen percent of the population worked on farms. "Farm sizes grew to 400, 800, 1,000 acres, and were dependent on specialty crops and the quantity of machines." War shot down the farmer and replaced his simple agrarian values with urban consumerism. By 1994 only one percent of Americans worked as farmers.
Recent wars have brought more so-called advances for farmers. The Agent Orange defoliant of the Vietnam War has been transformed into Roundup, a popular weed killer.
The conclusion is obvious: When chemical fertilizer blows up a building it's front-page news, but though newspapers take little notice, war-grown agritech kills people and cripples societies around the world, every year. It's just harder to see.
That's why on our Hare Krsna farms we want to get away from the agriculture that's a by-product of military history. We want an agriculture that's a by-product of loving Krsna, the Supreme Personality of Godhead. We want to depend on the cow and the bull and the land rather than on tractors and weed killers and chemical fertilizers. Only a reformed way of living with the land will bring society peace and prosperity.
It's not that Hare Krsna devotees are fanatically against all the by-products of military technology that have come into farming. Most of us eat grains produced with machines rather than with oxen. But our goal is to live as Krsna lived in His farming village of Vrndavana. And in general we see that the highly proclaimed agricultural advances brought to us by war do not bring a peaceful, satisfying life conducive to spiritual understanding. We want to set up a simpler, more natural way to farm that will help us make spiritual advancement.
So, no chemical fertilizers for us, thanks. We don't want the disastrous side effects. We want to use the fertilizer Krsna has given us—cow manure. As Srila Prabhupada wrote in a letter to Rupanuga Dasa in January 1976, "We shall never use this artificial fertilizer on our farms. It is forbidden in the sastras [Vedic scriptures]."
It's not that we fear that sprinkling a little nitrate powder on our tomatoes will send us to hell. But if we content ourselves with the sprays and machines handed down to us from the military-industrial complex, we risk shutting ourselves of from the satisfying culture of simple Krsna conscious farming villages. We want the kind of environment where we can see Lord Krsna, the original cowherd boy, face to face. For that we want Krsna's agriculture, not the agriculture of war.
If God Is Everywhere,
By Purusottama Dasa
Visiting Krsna's temple is visiting the spiritual world. That was my impression the first time I went to the Hare Krsna temple near Washington, D. C.
Unfortunately, a great majority of Indian people do not take the time to go to the temple. Generally speaking, in this Age of Kali people are enamored with Krsna's external energy, maya. As a result, they wrongly think that by increasing material comforts they will achieve happiness. They don't know that material nature is very strong and that everyone is tightly bound by its stringent laws. According to the Bhagavad-gita (8.16), "From the highest planet in the material world down to the lowest, all are places of misery wherein repeated birth and death take place."
Understanding the nature of this world, we should find at least a couple of hours every Sunday to leave behind our mundane activities to inquire about the Absolute Truth in the temple atmosphere.
Sometimes people avoid the temple by reasoning that because God is all-pervading there is no need to go to the temple. But if God is all-pervading, then He is certainly in the temple also. A temple of Lord Krsna is a house of God and is completely spiritual and transcendental, a place where the Supreme Personality of Godhead is worshiped with love and devotion. As such, the temple is there to purify us, and we should take advantage.
Actually, God's presence in the temple is especially beneficial to us. Despite His omnipresence, He is not readily perceivable except to one with spiritual vision. In a Krsna temple we can associate with people trained in spiritual vision, and we get to enhance our own realization of the all-pervading nature of the Lord by hearing the transcendental philosophy of Krsna consciousness. Furthermore, we learn to perceive the Lord's personal presence in the Deity (arca-vigraha). Thus, by taking advantage of spiritual association, by hearing the transcendental philosophy, and by worshiping the Deity in the temple, an ordinary person is more likely to remember the Lord's all-pervasiveness in day-to-day life. Moreover, the temple offers us an opportunity to meet others also interested in broadening their spiritual perception. Only a temple can afford all these advantages.
In fact, a temple of Lord Krsna is like an embassy of the spiritual world, Vaikuntha-loka. So in the material world a temple is a place to experience the flavor of the kingdom of God. When we enter the temple we can genuinely feel and see the omnipotence of the Lord. As a result, we feel uplifted and reminded of our original relationship with Krsna in the kingdom of God.
The temple is also a hospital where we receive treatment for our spiritual disorders. All of us suffer from a sort of amnesia: We identify with our material bodies and forget we are spirit souls. We have forgotten our real identity and our eternal relationship with the Supreme Personality of Godhead, Lord Krsna. Consequently, we have to take birth after birth; hence, there is no end to our miseries.
But when we enter the temple we feel relief, because there the Lord is worshiped according to the rules and regulations of the revealed scriptures. So the temple is reminiscent of the spiritual world, our original home. Even in the conventional sense, when someone has amnesia expert psychologists agree that the most reliable cure is to put the patient in familiar environments. No other remedy is quite as effective. Similarly, when one goes to the temple, associates with devotees, and chants the holy names of God—Hare Krsna, Hare Krsna, Krsna Krsna, Hare Hare/Hare Rama, Hare Rama, Rama Rama, Hare Hare—one is cured of the amnesia of material life. Soon one becomes spiritually aware and blissful and develops love for the Supreme Personality of Godhead.
Lord Krsna's temple is also the place where we can realize the magic of a real guru. The Srimad-Bhagavatam (11.3.21) says, "Any person who seriously desires real happiness must seek a bona fide spiritual master and take shelter of him by initiation." Lord Krsna Himself declares in the Bhagavad-gita (4.34): "Just try to learn the truth by approaching a spiritual master. Inquire from him submissively and render service unto him. The self-realized souls [gurus] can impart knowledge unto you, because they have seen the truth."
The foremost qualification of the guru is that he is able to arouse in our hearts dormant love for Krsna. Therefore, learning about our relationship with Krsna and how to approach Him should be our purpose in approaching a guru. The Krsna temple offers us a unique opportunity to learn from a bona fide guru.
The temples of the International Society for Krishna Consciousness (ISKCON), being genuine temples, are fully spiritual and transcendental. Therefore, although they appear to be within the major cities of the world, they are also within the spiritual world. People experience a transcendental phenomenon when they go to the temples daily, for the Sunday feast, or for other festivals. If you visit the Krsna temple today, you too might remember something you have long forgotten.
Srila Prabhupada has build a house where the whole world can live. He has given a very open, honest, and practical way of life—of song, dance and music, of tasty and nourishing vegetarian food, of healthy moral habits, enriched family relationships, and indispensable knowledge. To transform so many lives throughout the world in such a powerful and beneficial way is a bit of the real magic of a real guru. You can see that magic at Lord Krsna's temple today. Hare Krsna!
Bhakti-yoga at Home
Overcoming the Stumbling Blocks in Family Life
Jivan Mukta Dasa and Sita Devi Dasi
Rohininandana Dasa, the longstanding author of this column, has taken a break this issue so we can introduce two new writers. We'll vary the authors of this column and others from time to time to bring you the realizations of many writers. Rohininandana Dasa will be back soon.
So how can we successfully prevent the attrition of our Krsna consciousness and at the same time fulfill our householder duties? We can do this by carefully adhering to a regulated life of Krsna conscious practices.
Regulation means control—of our time, our senses, our children. For devotees, that control is accomplished through Krsna conscious activities. Krsna tells us in Bhagavad-gita that by regulating our eating, sleeping, work, and recreation we can mitigate our material pains. The regulative practice of Krsna consciousness, known as sadhana-bhakti, goes one step further than ordinary regulation—it also empowers us spiritually.
When a family adheres to a spiritual program and cooperates to manage the household, the burden of stress and frustration is lightened. A disciplined devotional routine creates a more gentle flow to family life and an atmosphere where Krsna consciousness can flourish. We should regulate our play, rest, exercise, and worship in a way that will help us develop our attitude of service toward guru and Krsna.
Although following a sadhana program as strictly at home as one would in a temple may be a challenge, we can stick to a modified program. Your schedule may prevent you from waking up at three or four in the morning, but your aim should be to get up before sunrise. The brahma-muhurta period, one and a half hours before sunrise, is most conducive to spiritual practices.
Though we may dress in conventional garb at our work places, we can still wear devotional clothing and tilaka during the morning program, while we sing the standard morning prayers in front of the family's Deities or Deity pictures and chant our prescribed number of rounds on our beads. If your schedule prevents you from chanting and worshiping in the morning, an evening program is also very effective.
Encourage the entire family to take part in the spiritual program. Children need to hear and chant too. Otherwise their lack of Krsna consciousness will be a stumbling blocks in both their devotional life and our own. Children should take part according to their age. Young children will usually pick up the songs and verses by hearing them sung. Older children can follow in a book until they memorize the prayers. As the children become proficient, they can be encouraged to offer aratis, lead some of the prayers, or play the cymbals or drum.
Our own enthusiasm or lack of it will affect how well the children take part. We may need to offer incentives. In our home we draw a tulasi tree for each child. When the children sing nicely, chant japa attentively, and pay attention during Bhagavatam class, they are allowed to color in three tulasi leaves. As they see tulasi growing, they become eager to earn more leaves.
Children are gifts from Krsna. Our responsibility is to see that we provide them the best opportunities to get free from the material world. Parents serve as role models. When children see us inviting devotees to our home for kirtana and prasadam, when they see us taking part in the local temple functions, when they hear us talking about Krsna and the material condition, or when they hear us glorifying the pure devotees of the Lord, their minds are influenced by standards that will mold their adult lives.
The priorities and goals we set nurture the ambitions of our children. Birth in a family of devotees is indeed fortunate, but it is not a guarantee of salvation. Krsna consciousness is a practical science attained by training and good association.
Inattention in performing our spiritual duties will create spiritual confusion. Maya, illusion, will get the chance to regain dominance over our family lives. Television, frivolity, mundane association, and general misuse of our time, if not checked, will stall our spiritual development. Our efforts, therefore, should be to increase our absorption in Krsna conscious activities. This will wash away bad habits and the subsequent excuses for not chanting, hearing, and reading, just as the continuous pouring of milk flushes out an ink-filled glass.
Prabhupada says that we should arrange our day so that we always think of Krsna. Rupa Gosvami confirms in The Nectar of Instruction that this is the essential instruction.
The rewards of a regulated life of devotional service are many. Peaceful, loving relationships between family members develop as we realize the transcendental meaning of our association. The pleasure we derive from seeing our children take part in Krsna consciousness inspires us and confirms the importance of our sadhana. Child-rearing, sometimes a seemingly thankless task, becomes a source of great inspiration. When our children spontaneously act out Krsna's pastimes or pretend to give Bhagavatam class, when they offer arati, ask philosophical questions, share their realizations, or pick flowers for the Deity, we parents feel great joy.
Attachment for the spiritual well-being of our family members leads to, and indicates, our attachment to the Supreme Lord. And attachment to Krsna's lotus feet is the perfection of human life. When our regulated life centers on Krsna and service to our spiritual master, rather than seeing our duties as stumbling blocks and obstacles we see them as steppingstones—opportunities to gain release from material confinement.
Jivan Mukta Dasa and his wife, Sita Devi Dasi, live on Georgia Bay in Ontario, Canada, where they own and operate a year-round retirement community. They have four children, whom they school at home.
"I have More Respect for Christ Than You Have"
Here we continue an exchange that took place in Paris, on June 15, 1974, between His Divine Grace A.C. Bhaktivedanta Swami Prabhupada, two priests, and two Christian scholars.
Madame Siaude: As you say, since Lord Jesus is the son of God, his body is spiritual. But because Jesus wanted to take part in the life of the human beings on earth, we think he actually accepted a material body.
Srila Prabhupada: Why do you speculate that Jesus accepted a material body?
Madame Siaude: We have prayers that say Jesus underwent suffering and death.
Srila Prabhupada: But that is a so-called death. In your mind you think, you speculate, that he died. But he resurrected.
Madame Siaude: But the Gospel says that he died.
Srila Prabhupada: That's all right.
Madame Siaude: Just as you accept—totally—the word as found in the Vedas, so we accept—totally—the word as found in the Bible.
Srila Prabhupada: But when the Bible speaks of Jesus, "died" simply means something resembling death. Janma karma ca me divyam: In Bhagavad-gita, Lord Krsna explains that the birth, activities, and disappearance of Himself and His pure devotees are all transcendental. Just take, for example, Christ's "birth" from the womb of Mary. It may appear like an ordinary material birth, but actually it is not. It is something resembling birth, but in reality it is transcendental.
Madame Siaude: No. It is very important that we understand the death of Christ to be a real death. The central point of our faith and our philosophy is that Lord Jesus actually died.
Srila Prabhupada: No. The Vedic literature explains that even an ordinary living being does not die. Na hanyate hanyamane sarire. Do you understand Sanskrit?
Madame Siaude: Not by hearing it. I have to read it.
Srila Prabhupada: Na hanyate: "The soul is never killed." And hanyamane sarire: "Even when the body dies, the soul is never dead."
Father Canivez: Your Divine Grace, in order for there to be dialogue, we have to respect one another's positions—not that we will try to convert the others. Just as we respect your absolute faith in the Vedic philosophy, so also there must be respect about our Christian interpretation of the life of Lord Jesus and his death.
Srila Prabhupada: Oh, I have more respect for Jesus Christ than you have. I say, "Jesus does not die." You say, "Jesus dies." As far as respect is concerned, I have more respect than you. You want to see Jesus Christ dead. I don't want to see him dead.
Madame Siaude: Jesus dies, but after, there is his resurrection.
Srila Prabhupada: No death. Recently, there was an archaeological excavation that demonstrated that Jesus Christ did not die. After the crucifixion, he was taken to Kashmir.
Madame Siaude: Well, we are not so much inclined to discuss such historical matters.
Srila Prabhupada: I was very much pleased to hear this information, because I had been very sorry that Jesus Christ was crucified. So when I learned of this scientific discovery, I was very satisfied.
Father Canivez: Your Divine Grace, I was at your conference last night, and I heard you declare that human life is meant for knowing God. So, what is your process for coming to know God?
Srila Prabhupada: That is very simple. Just take, for example, your body. You, the soul, are the important, active principle. Similarly, this gigantic cosmic manifestation must have some active principle. That is God. So where is the difficulty in understanding God?
Father Canivez: For example, in your prayers, how do you ...
Srila Prabhupada: Now, first of all let us understand what God is, then prayer. If we do not understand God, then what will we understand about prayer? If you understand that there is the active principle, then you can understand the prayer that we have already cited from the beginning of Srimad-Bhagavatam: janmady asya yato 'nvayad itaratas carthesv abhijnah svarat—"I pray to the Supreme Personality of Godhead Vasudeva, who is the origin of all creation." This is the active principle.
So the process is that I offer all my respect to the Absolute Truth, the Supreme Truth, from whom the creation has taken place, in whom everything is resting and working nicely, and to whom, after annihilation, everything will return.
And when you study what are the nature and activities of that original source, the Vedic literature further informs you, abhijnah: He is all-cognizant; He knows everything. For instance, although I, the soul within this body, am cognizant of this body, still I do not know how the body is working. I am eating, but I do not know how my eatables transform into secretions and then go to the heart, and so forth. Of course, the so-called scientists have understood somewhat, but not fully. So I do not know what is going on within my body. I do not know how many hairs are there. But God knows everything, every nook and corner of the whole universe.
So we cannot compare ourselves to God. That is impossible. But still, since we are forced to get knowledge from others, we may naturally question, "From whom has God gotten His knowledge?" Therefore, the Vedic literature also declares, svarat: "God hasn't got to take knowledge from anyone else—He's independently full of knowledge."
In addition, God imparted knowledge to Brahma, the first created being in the universe. That knowledge is called Vedic knowledge. In other words, Vedic knowledge is coming directly from God. Then it is being distributed through Brahma. And God is so mysterious that even learned scholars become bewildered in their attempt to understand Him. And although this material world is a temporary phantasmagoria, it appears to be fact—on account of its being the energy of God.
Madame Siaude: Your Divine Grace, as I recall from reading some of the Vedic literature, God is known as antaryami, "the witness within the heart." Does this mean that we can have a direct experience of God, in addition to what we experience in the scriptures?
Srila Prabhupada: Yes. That direct experience of God is the practice of yoga.
Madame Siaude: I guess if you strive for prapati, or surrender, this is a way to God directly.
Srila Prabhupada: Yes. That is the real process.
Madame Siaude: But is surrender different from yoga?
Srila Prabhupada: No. Surrender is bhakti-yoga. Bhakti, devotion to God.
Madame Siaude: But I was thinking surrender is something different from bhakti.
Srila Prabhupada: Surrender is bhakti-yoga.
Madame Siaude: You take surrender to be bhakti?
Srila Prabhupada: Bhakti, devotion, yes. Surrender means devotion. For instance, I can surrender unto you only when I have got full faith in you and devotion unto you. Otherwise, I cannot. So bhakti-yoga is wanted. If we simply devote ourselves to God, then everything is complete. Therefore, in Bhagavad-gita Lord Krsna describes prapati, or surrender. Bahunam janmanam ante jnanavan mam prapadyate: "After many, many lifetimes of endeavoring to understand God through mental speculation, when one is actually wise he surrenders unto Me." And in the next line Krsna says, vasudevah sarvam iti sa mahatma sudurlabhah: "When one understands that Vasudeva, or Krsna, is everything, then his knowledge is perfect. But such a mahatma—such a great soul—is very rare to be seen."
by Jayadvaita Swami
Indian Airlines—from Calcutta via Guwahati—has brought us to Imphal. We're a delegation of devotees from America, India, France, Italy, Iran, Australia, Singapore, and New Zealand. Hazy grey sky, mountains off in the distance to your left. The air is cool (Calcutta was blazing). We're up on a plateau, at twenty-five hundred feet.
On the far side of the barbed wire that marks the parking lot from the airfield, an Army guard, turbaned Sikh, looks on patiently, rifle in hand.
A drought is on. This is mid March, supposedly a season of rain showers, but the last rain was in February, and that gave only a little. But, drought aside, today is the second day of the festivities for Holi.
A group of devotees meet us and festoon us with fluffy garlands of cotton thread—bright red, white, green, yellow, with some silvery tinsel mixed in. Then we're into a jeep, some cars, and Maruti vans, and on our way to our temple.
We get down a few blocks early: We're in for a big reception. Awaiting us, lining the road, stand rows and rows of men and women, dressed in garments of bright Holi colors—solid red and pink-scarlet—with drums, cymbals, double conches. The faces are Chinese-Tibetan, and the chanting is Hare Krsna, loud and strong, in a unique Manipuri style.
People pour big pots of water on our feet and toss handfuls of flaked rice into the air—an auspicious greeting. In the midst of it all, Manipuri faces behind video cameras get it all on tape. (Sony has made it to Manipur.)
Ceremonies in the temple, some refreshments, some rest, and we're off for sankirtana at the temple of Govindaji. The Deity of Govindaji is the ultimate object of love and devotion for people throughout Manipur, and today people have come to see Him and celebrate Him from all over the state.
In the courtyard of the temple, crowds arrive in parties of sankirtana—drummers, cymbal players, conch blowers, banner carriers—singing the glories of Govindaji.
The mood is joyful, and part of the fun is the traditional Holi spraying of colors—water dyed red or pink or purple, sucked up from vats and shot up into the air and onto the crowds from brass syringes the size of rifles. Everyone sprays and gets sprayed, so your clothes and face and arms and all of you gets thoroughly parti-colored. The fun goes on well into the night.
The next morning things have calmed down, the dye (less tenacious than in Calcutta) has mostly washed off your skin, and we're off to Moirang, about thirty miles south. Along the way, bands of young girls at intervals barricade the road with rope or bamboo, demanding a rupee to let your car pass. In Manipur that's another Holi tradition. Everyone gives.
In Manipur the Holi celebrations go on for six days. The markets close, and sankirtana parties travel from place to place, chanting the holy names of the Lord—Hare Krsna, Hare Krsna, Krsna Krsna, Hare Hare/ Hare Rama, Hare Rama, Rama Rama, Hare Hare.
On our way to Moirang, we stop at several towns along the road. At each stop, arrangements have been made for us to witness a performance of sankirtana. Sankirtana in Manipur is a highly cultivated art. Professional and semi-professional groups perform at birth ceremonies, weddings, festivals, and other such occasions. Usually, several groups perform at every function.
A typical performance takes place at Bishnupur, a fair-sized town (signs on shops: "Vishnu Pharmacy," "Sanjit Video Parlor"). To start the sankirtana, the first group shouts out, "Gauranga Mahaprabhu ki jaya!" ("All glories to Lord Caitanya Mahaprabhu.") Then the drumming begins.
This is power drumming, with five or seven pungs (Manipuri mrdanga drums). Complex rhythms swirl into one another, punctuated by cymbals played with equal finesse. And the drummers dance with acrobatic virtuosity, tightly choreographed. The drummers play and dance with a look of serious, determined intensity, We're reminded that Manipur has been a kingdom of ksatriyas, royal warriors, people you don't want to mess with.
The drumming leads into the singing, songs glorifying the Lord. The melodies are attuned to the seasons. The melodies now are those of spring.
Groups take their turns drumming, dancing, and singing, groups of boys, of men, and of women also, the women dressed traditionally in lotus pink.
As each performance ends, the singers and dancers offer obeisances, and at the end of it all, prasadam is distributed—tangerines and apples—and then we're back on the road.
At Moirang we have another ISKCON temple and asrama. There, more sankirtana performances and then lunch prasadam. In Manipur the preparation, offering, and distribution of prasadam are also highly cultivated arts. The devotees offer Krsna many delicious varieties of food, made from what's locally in season. The spicing is sometimes mild, sometimes fiery. Among the special items: vegetables and salads made with the roots of lotuses.
The plates themselves are made of banana leaves or lotus leaves, with the various items of food placed in boat-shaped cups, again fashioned from leaves of banana or lotus.
For the next several days, in the afternoons and early evenings we visit friends and ISKCON members at their homes. There we perform our own sankirtana and speak a little bit about Krsna. This too is part of the Manipuri Holi tradition: sankirtana groups go from home to home, chanting the glories of the Lord.
One ISKCON member whose home we visit is Sri Radhabinod Koijam, the deputy chief minister of Manipur. We chant in his courtyard, and afterwards he gives a few words of thanks: "By your visit, by your presence, our state is blessed, and my home is blessed today. By chanting the names of Lord Caitanya and Lord Krsna—we are convinced—we can have peace, and we can relieve any problems affecting the state."
Problems there are. Local political movements are in tension with the Indian central government. And the traditional culture of Manipur is in tension with the outside world.
We saw this graphically the last night we were there. As part of a cultural program, an ensemble of tribal people put on a demonstration of their traditional folk dances. Colorful and lively, this was a fairly slick performance by hill people now accustomed to city life in Imphal.
What wasn't expected, though, was their last number, "The Fashion Show." For this one, the flutes, gongs, and bass drums gave way to a tape of 1950's American top 40. The young men and women who in the previous hour, dressed in blue and red indigenous costumes, had regaled us with such items as their harvest dance now lined up in Western-cut suits and satiny dresses and high heels and, one at a time, came forward to sensuously pose and posture in a perfectly serious and perfectly incongruous mimicry of what the world expects from Paris.
Defenders of Manipur, you have your task before you!
To visit Manipur, non-Indians need a special permit. Because of political disturbances in the northeastern states of India, requests for such permits are not easily granted. When granted, the permits allow one to stay for five days.
Indian Airlines runs flights daily between Imphal and Calcutta and several times a week between Imphal and New Delhi. Sahara Airlines flies Imphal-New Delhi twice a week.
Manipur: The land at a glance
Area: 8,632 square miles (roughly the size of the American state of Massachusetts).
Geography: The land is hilly, rugged, and generously watered. The Manipur valley (about 700 square miles) lies 2,600 feet above sea level. The hills to the north rise to more than 8,000 feet. Eighty to ninety percent of the land is forested.
Climate: The summers are warm and rainy, the winters cool and dry. Temperatures run from 38 degrees F in January to 82 degrees in July and August.
Population: 1,826,714 (latest census: 1991)
People per square mile: 212
Main language: Manipuri
Literacy rate: 41.35 percent
Religion: Gaudiya Vaisnava 62%, Christian 26% (mainly among the tribal people of the hills), Muslim 8%. The remaining 4% mainly follow various ancestral traditions.
Main occupations: agriculture, weaving
Main crops: rice, corn, sugarcane, oil seeds, fruits, vegetables.
Main manufactured goods: lumber, sugar, and handicrafts.
Capital: Imphal (population 130,000). Manipur has seven other small cities and some 2,000 agricultural villages.
Favorite sport: polo (Manipur is where it started, and where the British learned it).
Political history: Manipur was an independent kingdom until 1891, when it was conquered by the British in the Anglo-Manipuri war. Manipur regained independence, with the rest of India, in 1947. It merged into India in 1949, first as a centrally administered territory and later, since 1972, as a full-fledged Indian state.
How Manipur Became a Krsna Conscious State
Text by Jayadvaita Swami
The Vedic scriptures tell us that Manipur was a Krsna conscious land even more than five thousand years ago. But for the last several centuries the Manipuris have also worshiped various regional semi-historical deities, who hold a place in Manipuri culture even today.
In modern times, worship of Visnu first gained prominence in Manipur in the fifteenth century, during the reign of King Kyamba. It is said that the Pong king Khekhombha fo the Shan kingdom* gave Kyamba a Visnu cakra (the symbolic disc of Visnu). The presence of the cakra seemed to bring about various supernatural events, so on the advice of brahmanas the king had a temple constructed for it and instituted regular worship. The worship was continued by his descendants.
*A tract of land between Assam and Burma, annexed to Burma in 1752.
The philosophy taught by Lord Caitanya Mahaprabhu was first introduced in the seventeenth century by five disciples of the great devotee Srila Narottama Dasa Thakura. The songs of Srila Narottama Dasa Thakura are still sung throughout Manipur, and his birthday is an occasion of festivities.
In the early eighteenth century, the powerful king Garibniwaj embraced the worship of the Personality of Godhead in the form of Lord Ramacandra. But the wave of devotion that turned the entire kingdom Krsna conscious took place during the reign of Garibniwaj's grandson Rajarsi Bhagyacandra.
The Victory of King Bhagyacandra
Bhagyacandra ascended the throne in 1759, but in 1762 the Burmese, acting in concert with his envious maternal uncle, invaded Manipur, and the king, with his queen and a few attendants, fled to the neighboring state of Ahom, now known as Assam.
The King of Ahom, King Rajesvara, had heard of Bhagyacandra's virtues and was pleased to receive him. They became close friends, and Rajesvara arranged for Bhagyacandra to stay in the vicinity of the royal palace.
But Bhagyacandra's crafty uncle wrote a letter to the king saying that the person taking refuge at his court was an imposter, not the great Bhagyacandra. The uncle advised the king of Ahom to destroy him.
The message seems to have influenced King Rajesvara. Though not entirely persuaded, he began treating Bhagyacandra with coolness and suspicion.
The real Bhagyacandra was said to have supernatural powers. So finally, on the advice of senior ministers, King Rajesvara reluctantly devised a test: In a public arena, Bhagyacandra, unarmed, was to catch and tame a wild elephant.
Confronted with this humanly impossible task, King Bhagyacandra prayed to Lord Krsna for guidance. Lord Krsna then appeared to him in a dream and advised him to enter the arena with a garland and japa beads in hand. Victory, Lord Krsna told him, was assured.
In the future, the Lord said, Bhagyacandra would be the sole king of Manipur. Upon regaining the kingdom, he should install a Krsna Deity, The Deity, Govindaji, should be carved from a certain old jackfruit tree growing on the slopes of a hill known as Kaina, and the physical features of the Deity should match those the king was seeing now.
After installing the Deity, the Lord said, the king should arrange for the performance of a rasa-lila, in which the Deity should be worshiped with songs and dances. The Lord enabled Bhagyacandra to envision in detail the kinds of dress the dancers should wear and the manner in which the songs and dances should be composed.
The next morning, crowds waited on rooftops and treetops to see the fate of the supposed king of Manipur. Bhagyacandra solemnly entered the arena, holding the garland and japa beads and chanting the holy name of Lord Krsna.
The elephant charged from a distance, but as it neared Bhagyacandra it slowed down and then knelt before him. According to some accounts, the elephant seemed as though struck repeatedly by some unseen enemy. King Bhagyacandra alone, we are told, could see Lord Krsna sitting atop the elephant's head like a mahout. And to that Lord the king offered the garland from his hand. The king then mounted the elephant and rode triumphantly through the cheering crowds.
Thoroughly convinced, King Rajesvara profusely apologized and offered his full assistance. He supplied men and arms to help King Bhagyacandra win back his kingdom.
After an arduous trek from Ahom through the jungles, Bhagyacandra returned with his forces to Manipur and regained the throne. He restored the kingdom to normalcy and set about to consolidate its small kingdoms into one state, while still preserving cultural diversity.
Lord Govindaji Appears Again
For some reason, some say because of repeated Burmese invasions, Bhagyacandra did not at once install the Deity of Govindaji. But one day a tribal woman appeared at the gates of his palace, insisting on having an audience with the king. She bore a message, she said, from someone even higher than him.
Granted a private audience, the woman told the king that while she was cultivating vegetables in her field a young boy came before her and began playing tricks. He won the woman's affection and asked her to convey to the king a message: He had made a promise, but now he was neglecting it, and the boy was very angry.
The king at once understood that the boy was Krsna Himself. He returned with her to her village—on the slope of Kaina—and there found the old jackfruit tree of which Lord Krsna had spoken.
The king arranged to fell the great tree, had it brought back to his capital, Langthabal, and appointed expert sculptors to carve the Deity. He described to the sculptors precisely how the Lord should look, according to the vision he had seen, and advised them also to consult the descriptions in Srimad-Bhagavatam.
The sculptors carved a beautiful image, and when the king saw it he acknowledged that the form was superb. But it did not, he said, match his vision. By the king's order, the Deity was named Sri Vijaya Govindaji and opulently installed. An elderly uncle of the king became the priest of the Deity. The king then ordered the sculptors to carve another.
They began again, but again the Deity differed from the form the king had envisioned. This happened several times. Each time, the king had the Deity opulently installed in a different temple and told the sculptors to try again.
The sculptors were getting anxious—not much was left of the tree—but at last they carved a Deity that the king said matched his vision precisely.
With joyous festivities the Deity was installed, and from the very beginning He was revered as the Supreme Personality of Godhead. The king himself, his court, his entire state—all were dedicated to Govindaji.
Skillfully, the king introduced all the features of traditional worship of Lord Krsna as taught by the followers of Lord Caitanya. Rather than try to stamp out previous traditions of Manipuri religion and culture, by his own example he inspired his people in devotional service to Govindaji.
Devotion to Govindaji became the focus of the spiritual and cultural life of Manipur. The people became Vaisnavas, devotees of Krsna, but they expressed their devotion with a special Manipuri spirit. They were Manipuri Vaisnavas, and they are still known as such till this day.
The First Rasa-Lila
After the installation of Govindaji, yet to be fulfilled was Krsna's order that the king arrange for the performance of rasa-lila. The king now set about this in earnest. He engaged various experts to compose the music, design the costumes, conceive the dances, and so on. In all matters, the king himself gave guidance.
The dance was not to be merely an artistic performance. Rather, the dance was to be done for the pleasure of the Deity and the spiritual upliftment of the audience. Krsna's pastimes take place on the highest level of spiritual devotion, and the performance had to convey the pastimes of the Lord in all their purity. Grace, delicacy, chastity, and deep spiritual feeling—all these were to be hallmarks of the rasa-lila.
The rasa-lila was to be performed not in a theater but in a "rasa-mandala" specially constructed for the Deity, Lord Govindaji. Govindaji Himself would be in the center of the rasa-lila.
But as yet there was no Deity of the Lord's consort, Srimati Radharani. Who then would play her role? For the pleasure of Lord Govindaji, the king selected his own daughter, the young and beautiful princess Bimbavati. And the king himself became one of the mrdanga drummers for the satisfaction of the Lord.
The rasa-lila was held in November 1779, on the night of the full moon. By all accounts it was splendidly performed. Over the years, the rendering of rasa-lila through dance and song developed into a highly refined art, and till this day it is celebrated as a sacred tradition in Manipur. And whenever it is performed, a prayer is made to Govindaji on behalf of Maharaja Bhagyacandra.
Perfecting a Life of Devotion
Princess Bimbavati herself was so overcome with devotion that she renounced the world and spent the rest of her life serving Lord Krsna and singing His holy names. She became famous as Sija Lairoibi, meaning "the princess who owned the Lord." The golden deity of Radharani at the Govindaji temple was later made in her likeness.
After ruling for 39 years, till 1798, King Bhagyacandra decided to retire from political life. With his sons, several queens, and several hundred associates, he left the kingdom for what in those days was a most difficult journey—a pilgrimage on foot to the Ganges at Murshidabad, in what is now West Bengal.
The king handed over the state of Manipur to his eldest son, Labanyacandra, and spent the rest of his days in a life of detachment and devotion. He passed away in October of 1799 at Murshidabad. There his body was cremated, near the tomb of the great Srila Narottama Dasa Thakura, of whom many devotees in those times believed him an incarnation. The brahmanas of those days gave him the title "Rajarsi," meaning a sage in the form of a king.
By the king's will, a portion of his ashes was brought back to Manipur and buried at the royal cremation ground, and another portion was brought to Navadvipa, the abode of Sri Caitanya Mahaprabhu.
"The Land of Jewels"
Legends describe that millions of years ago Lord Siva and his consort Parvati danced together in Manipur while the many-hooded divine serpent Ananta Sesa illuminated the dance arena with the jewels from his crowns. Enchanted by the celestial music that accompanied the dance, Ananta Sesa swayed back and forth, unaware that the jewels from his splendid crowns were falling upon the earth. The beautiful site of this pastime became known as Manipur, "the land of jewels."
The Mahabharata mentions that in the kingdom of Manipur, more than five thousand years ago, the prince Arjuna married the Manipuri princess Citrangada. Their son Babhruvahana ruled Manipur for a very long time. Though some scholars (of course) disagree, most scholars and adherents of the Vedic tradition identify that kingdom of Manipur with the present Manipur state.
We're used to seeing surnames last, but in Manipur the surname comes first. The last name is an indication of caste, usually Sharma for brahmanas and Singh for all others (mostly ksatriyas). One's given name is the name in the middle. The prefix Raj Kumar or Raj Kumari is used by descendants of the royal family. So, for example, in the name Chingangbam Budha Singh, Chingangbam is the family name, and the given name is Budha.
Manipuri Holy Places Outside Manipur
Because the Manipuri Vaisnavas are devotees of Lord Sri Krsna and Lord Sri Caitanya Mahaprabhu, they have established many temples in Navadvipa, Vrndavana, and Radha-kunda. Non-Indians unable to visit Manipur can more easily visit these temples.
Navadvipa: Navadvipa has several Manipuri temples, clustered together along the Ganges, across the road from the Devananda Gaudiya Math.
The Anu Mahaprabhu Mandir. Like her father, Rajarsi Candrabhagya, Princess Bimbavati left Manipur on pilgrimage to the Ganges at Navadvipa. There a temple was raised, in which the Deity installed was carved from the same jackfruit tree as the Govindaji Deity in Manipur. Bimbavati lived here till she expired. The temple is now being nicely maintained by six brothers descending from the royal family.
Sri Gopalaji Mandir. Also known as Manipuri Raj Bari ("Bari" is Bengali for "home"). Built by Maharaja Sri Churachand Singh (knighted by the British), who was king from 1891 through 1941. The temple is now under the care of a trust, of which Bhakti Svarupa Damodara Swami is the chairman.
Sri Sri Radha-Krsnacandra Mandir. Temple built by Maharani Dhan Manjari, the wife of Churachand Maharaja. Later in life, the king and his wife were not getting along together so well, so they had different temples. Hers is over the wall from Gopalaji.
Vrndavana: In Vrndavana, five or six small temples are to be found in the area of Kesi Ghata. The temples are about 80 or 100 years old. Most prominently, there is the Manipuri Raj Bari, built by Maharaja Dumbra Singh. (To find them, ask anyone for the "Manipuri temples.")
Radha-kunda: More Manipuris live in Radha-kunda than in Vrndavana itself. The Manipuri royal family has shown great devotion for Radha-kunda. The present paving around Radha-kunda and Syama-kunda was done by Maharaja Churacand. Radha-kunda has twenty-seven Manipuri temples, most built by the royal family. Among the temples, two are the most prominent.
Sri Gopalaji Mandir. Built eighty years ago by Maharaja Curacanda. The temple is designed so that in autumn the rising sun shines directly on the Deity. The temple is now under the care of Bhakti Svarupa Damodara Swami.
Baro Gunja. This temple, still larger, was also built by the King Gambhira Singh. Installed here is a beautiful Deity of Radha-Krsna. The temple is notable for its attractive architecture.
Elsewhere: Jagannatha Puri. By the western side of the Jagannatha temple is a Manipuri dharmasala for pilgrims, again built by the royal families.
Near Manipur. Manipuris have built temples in the northeastern Indian states near Manipur, such as Assam, Tripura, and Meghalaya. The ISKCON temple in Agartala, the capital of Tripura, was a gift of a descendant of the Manipuri royal family, Sri R.K. Kamaljit Singh. Manipuris living in Agartala have also built temples in Radha-kunda, Vrndavana and Navadvipa.
Large communities of Manipuris live in the Sylhet district of Bangladesh and the Mandalay district of Myanmar (formerly Burma). Manipuri devotees have built temples in both places.
Srila Prabhupada on Manipur:
In the Srimad-Bhagavatam (9.22.32) it is said, sutayam babhruvahanam manipura-pateh so 'pi tat-putrah putrika-sutah: "By his wife the princess of Manipur, Arjuna had a son named Babhruvahana, who became the adopted son of the Manipuri king."
Srila Prabhupada gives the following purport:
"It is to be understood that Parvati [the wife of Lord Siva] is the daughter of the king of the very, very old mountainous country known as the Manipur state. Five thousand years ago, therefore, when the Pandavas ruled, Manipur existed, as did its king. Therefore this kingdom is a very old, aristocratic Vaisnava kingdom. If this kingdom is organized as a Vaisnava state, this revitalization will be a great success because for five thousand years this state has maintained its identity. If the Vaisnava spirit is revived there, it will be a wonderful place, renowned throughout the entire world. Manipuri Vaisnavas are very famous in Vaisnava society. In Vrndavana and Navadvipa there are many temples constructed by the king of Manipur. Some of our devotees belong to the Manipur state. The Krsna consciousness movement, therefore, can be well spread in the state of Manipur by the cooperative efforts of the Krsna conscious devotees."
By Jivanuga Dasa
PEOPLE IN MANIPUR have received ISKCON with enthusiasm because it reinforces Manipur's traditions of Vaisnava culture. During 1976 and early 1977, Srila Prabhupada made plans to visit Manipur, but was obstructed by poor health and difficulty getting entry permits for foreign devotees. ISKCON opened its first Manipur center in December 1977 in the capital, Imphal.
In 1981, through the efforts of leading Manipuri Vaisnavas and philanthropists, ISKCON acquired six acres of land as a permanent site for its projects. Among the major donors was Sri L. Kulabidhu Singh, an ISKCON life member and recent recipient of the Vikas Ratna award from the government of India.
In 1982 devotees started the Bhaktivedanta Institute Mission School. The school teaches the basics of Vaisnava culture and philosophy, along with academic subjects. More than 400 students are now enrolled.
In 1988, Srila Prabhupada's Bhagavad-gita As It Is first appeared in the Manipuri language, translated by the respected scholar Sri R. K. Shitaljit Singh. Translation of Srimad-Bhagavatam is in progress. ISKCON Manipur has its own press for printing smaller books.
Early this year, ISKCON opened a 44-bed nature-cure hospital and yoga asrama in the Langol foothills on the outskirts of Imphal.
Women play an active role in Manipuri cultural and devotional life. Some two hundred women from influential Manipuri families lead the ISKCON Women's Forum, which organizes and takes part in cultural events throughout the year.
In the spring of 1995, devotees undertook the building of a new temple, the Sri Sri Radha-Krsnacandra Manimandira. When completed in 1999, it will be the largest Vaisnava pilgrimage center in northeastern India.
A disciple of Srila Prabhupada's from Manipur heads ISKCON's efforts to preserve and spread Manipur's spiritual culture.
By Jivanuga Dasa
HIS HOLINESS Bhakti Svarupa Damodara Swami (T. Damodara Singh) was born in Manipur on December 9, 1937. He grew up in the traditional Gaudiya Vaisnava culture, his father, Sri T. Jogendra Singh, being a devout sankirtana singer. His father passed away when Damodara was only seven years old, and Damodara was raised by his mother and elder sister. Under the guidance of his uncle Sri T. Kerani Singh, he dedicated himself to his studies and went on to attend Calcutta University, where he earned a Master's degree with honors in Chemical Engineering and Chemical Technology. While working as a research fellow, he was awarded an Indian Overseas Scholarship from the Government of India. So in the fall of 1969 he joined the Department of Chemistry at the University of California (Irvine) and began working on his Ph.D.
Suddenly one day in the spring of 1970, he received a telegram: "Your mother expired March 24th—sraddha April 6th." Deeply saddened, he was planning to return to Manipur for the sraddha ceremony when a letter came from Sri Kerani. The letter instructed, "A Vaisnava never laments for death; rather, he laments for birth. The soul is immortal. Don't come to India now. You can offer worship to Lord Krishna for your departed mother there in America. Concentrate on your duty and don't waste time. Once born in this world, everyone is bound to die." Damodara cancelled his ticket.
Facing many questions about the journey of life, for some time Damodara began to neglect his studies. One evening a friend, Dr. Ravindra Rao, came to console him. As they drove along the Pacific Coast Highway, they saw a group of Hare Krsna devotees, heads shaved, dressed in dhotis, chanting and dancing in Laguna Beach. Surprised, Damodara bought a small book, received an invitation to the temple, and reflected that the life of a devotee is what he should be pursuing, rather than wasting time at the university.
Dr. Rao began going often to the temple in Laguna Beach, and when he found out that Srila Prabhupada was in Los Angeles Dr. Rao proposed to Damodara that they go together to have darsana of Srila Prabhupada.
Bhakti Svarupa Damodara Swami recalls, "I requested him to go first and inform me about Srila Prabhupada."
When Dr. Rao returned he described Srila Prabhupada as being full of spiritual qualities and insisted that Damodara go with him for darsana.
Dr. Rao began going every evening to be with Srila Prabhupada. Each time, he would ask Damodara to go with him, and each time Damodara would decline. Finally Dr. Rao issued an ultimatum: "Tomorrow morning you must accompany me to see Prabhupada. If you don't agree, I will never come see you again in this lifetime." Damodara agreed. As they were driving to see Srila Prabhupada, Dr. Rao disclosed that he would be receiving initiation from Srila Prabhupada that day.
Dr. Ravindra Rao became Ramananda Raya Dasa. After the ceremony, he introduced Damodara to Prabhupada. Damodara at once felt, "Here is my spiritual father." Srila Prabhupada remarked, "You Manipuri Vaisnavas are descendants of Babhruvahana, the son of Arjuna." Later Prabhupada said, "All the intelligent boys and girls of India are coming to the U.S.A. to learn material scientific knowledge and earn dollars. But I did not come here to take anything. I came to give Krsna consciousness to the people here. Why don't you do the same thing that I am doing?"
Damodara was so impressed that he instantly became Srila Prabhupada's follower. He was formally initiated in Los Angeles in 1971 and given the name Svarupa Damodara Dasa. (Later, Svarupa Damodara accepted sannyasa, the renounced order, and became known as Bhakti Svarupa Damodara Swami.)
Srila Prabhupada encouraged Svarupa Damodara to finish his Ph.D. and use his scientific knowledge in Krsna's service. During early-morning walks along Venice Beach in Los Angeles, Srila Prabhupada instructed him about many scientific topics and asked him to spread Krsna conscious ideas in the scientific community. Their conversations later appeared in a book, Life Comes from Life.
Later, in Vrndavana in 1974, Srila Prabhupada made Svarupa Damodara the first director of the Bhaktivedanta Institute, a postgraduate scientific organization for study of the Vedic worldview.
Srila Prabhupada told Svarupa Damodara to present Krsna consciousness both through science and through culture. Therefore, apart from his work with the Institute, through Ranganiketan Bhakti Svarupa Damodara Swami is bringing the Gaudiya Vaisnava culture of Manipur to audiences around the world. And through the ISKCON centers in Manipur he is working to preserve and revitalize the Krsna conscious culture in Manipur itself.
Manipuri dancers inspire audiences with a glimpse of Manipur's Vaisnava culture.
by Jivanuga Dasa
During the early 1970's Srila Prabhupada expressed to Bhakti Svarupa Damodara Swami that the Manipuri traditions of music and dance, such as rasa-lila and sankirtana, are so infused with the Vaisnava culture that they are cultural representations of Krsna consciousness. If properly presented, he said, these cultural expressions could be powerful and inspirational. Taking heed of Prabhupada's words, Bhakti Svarupa Damodara Swami formed Ranganiketan in 1987.
"Ranganiketan," which means House of Colors, began its first international tour in 1990, with engagements in Europe and North America. Since then the troupe has put on nearly 400 performances for more than 250,000 people on four continents. It has appeared at the University of California (Berkeley), at EPCOT Center (Walt Disney World), and at the Kennedy Center in Washington, D.C. Ranganiketan is the most extensively booked performing arts company of its kind from India.
The troupe gives special emphasis to educational programs. More than half of Ranganiketan's performances take place before young audiences. Carefully created instructional materials prepare students for the performance, and lectures and demonstrations help them further understand what they've seen.
The cultural activities of Ranganiketan don't stop at the stage. Troupe members are also adept in various offstage arts, especially the creation of Manipuri prasadam, the traditional cuisine, which has delighted people wherever the troupe goes.
Ranganiketan performances give samples of the music, dance, and martial arts of northeastern India. Thang-ta is a weapons-oriented form of martial arts that dates from the time of the Mahabharata. Both men and women learn these arts from an early age. With precision and strength, Ranganiketan artists demonstrate the various forms of Thang-ta, using swords, shields, scimitars, and occasionally their bare hands.
The acrobatic drum dances are powerful demonstrations of sankirtana that blend complex beats with the devotional mood of Narottama Dasa Thakura. Performed with the pung (Manipuri mrdanga), the drum dances serve as an auspicious invocation before the performance of the rasa-lila.
The classical rasa-lila is the most important of the various types of Manipuri devotional dance. It expresses the quintessence of Vaisnava culture and philosophy—the yearning of the individual soul to surrender to the supreme soul, Lord Sri Krsna. Through that surrender, the soul attains transcendent happiness and the highest fulfillment of spiritual desire. In Manipur, rasa-lila performances can feature 108 dancers and last up to twelve hours. On tour, of course, the dances are shorter and the dancers fewer, but they give an authentic taste.
The current touring company consists of twenty-two dancers, drummers, musicians, and martial artists. These performers are among the most accomplished in Manipur.
In 1996, Ranganiketan will tour North America for five months, beginning in late February. Some dates are still open for performances during this time. For information, contact
"... looked like nothing else on this earth ... a memorably joyous dance spectacle."—Lewis Segal, The Los Angeles Times
"National Geographic came to life ... "—The Oregonian
"... a charming ensemble of young Manipuri men and women presenting their ancient arts with enthusiasm and vigor. The drumming is highly virtuosic and exciting, the dancing, in lovely costumes, graceful and elegant."—Beate Gordon, The Asia Society
"Ranganiketan opened up another world.... "—Der Landbote, Switzerland
"... these artists look to find in their innermost selves what will make their performance a success for the soul."—Provencal, France
The Birth of Draupadi
The Pandavas hear the story of the birth of their future wife.
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, now living in Ekacakra disguised as brahmanas, hear from a traveling brahmana the story of the birth of Draupadi and her brother Dhrstadyumna.
The Pandavas were truly tigers among men. O brahmana, after the slaying of Baka, the Raksasa, what did they do next?
Having slain Baka, Bhima and the other Pandavas continued to dwell in the same place, studying the Absolute Truth in the house of the learned brahmana. After some days had passed, another brahmana, strict in his religious vows, came to the brahmana's house to seek lodging. Having vowed to receive all guests God sent to his home, the first brahmana, a leader of his community, gave full honor to the visiting sage and offered him shelter.
The noble Pandavas and Kunti worshiped the wandering holy man and sat down to hear as he began to tell many stories. He talked about various countries, describing their holy places, the deeds of their kings, and the diverse features of their capitals.
As he finished his tales, the learned man mentioned that in the Pancala country the beautiful princess Draupadi would be holding a most extraordinary svayamvara, a ceremony in which a princess chooses her husband from among qualified princes. He also described the unusual birth of Dhrstadyumna and Sikhandi and mentioned how Draupadi, the daughter of King Drupada, was born from a great sacrifice, without passing through a mother's womb.
On hearing the saintly one mention this most amazing news of world events, the Pandavas, those noble men, urged the sage to tell the stories again in detail.
"How did these wonderful events take place—that Drupada's son Dhrstadyumna took birth from the flames of a sacred fire, and that his sister Draupadi arose from the middle of a sacrificial altar? How did Dhrstadyumna then learn all the weapons from the great archer Drona? And how could two loving friends like Drona and Drupada become enemies? Who caused their friendship to break?"
My dear king, when the exalted Pandavas had thus urged the sage to speak, he began by explaining all about the birth of Princess Draupadi.
The Rivalry of Drona and Drupada
The brahmana said:
Near the gateway of the Ganges [where the sacred river begins her earthly course] lived a mighty saint and ascetic named Bharadvaja, who was most learned and faithful to his religious vows. Once, when he had come to the Ganges to bathe, he saw a chaste apsara named Ghrtaci, a dancing girl from the heavenly planets, who had come there first and had just taken her bath. Just then, as she stood on the river bank, the wind came and stole away her clothes.
Seeing her without any covering, the sage could not help but desire her. Though he had carefully practiced celibacy since childhood, his mind was now entangled with the goddess. In his excitement, semen spilled from his body. The sage placed his seed in a pot, and Drona took birth from that pot as the son of the sage. As a child Drona thoroughly studied the Vedas with all their branches.
Bharadvaja had a friend named Prsata, a king who had a son named Drupada. Young Drupada would always go to the sage's retreat, and the powerful prince played and studied with Drona. Then Prsata passed away, and Drupada became king.
Drona heard that Lord Parasurama, having retired to the forest, desired to give all his wealth to the brahmanas. So Drona, the son of Bharadvaja, went to him and said, "O noble twice-born, I am Drona, and you may know that I have come in need of money."
Lord Parasurama said, "All that is left to me now is my own body and my weapons. So, brahmana, you may select, either my body or my weapons."
Sri Drona said, "Sir, it is best that you give me all your weapons and the technology to engage and withdraw them."
Lord Parasurama, born in the Bhrgu dynasty, agreed to the request and presented all his weapons to Drona. Drona was jubilant, for he had received from Parasurama the most highly regarded of all weapons: the brahmastra. He now excelled mankind in weaponry.
With his fierce new power, the son of Bharadvaja was a tiger among men. Approaching King Drupada he said, "I am your old friend."
King Drupada said, "An uneducated man cannot be a friend to a learned man, nor a man with no chariot to a chariot warrior, nor a non-king to a king. What need is there for a friend of the past?"
Drona Seeks Revenge
The intelligent Drona then and there made up his mind to seize Drupada's kingdom, the kingdom of Pancala. Drona went directly to Hastinapura, the capital of the Kuru chiefs. The Kuru grandsire Bhisma gathered up his grandsons and presented them to the learned Drona to be his students. Bhisma also awarded him all kinds of wealth.
Determined to make Drupada suffer for his offense, the expert Drona then assembled all his students and said to them, "When students have learned their weapons, they owe a debt to their teacher, which must be paid. There is something I desire that turns strongly in my heart. You, my innocent boys, must promise me that when you have learned your weapons you will give me what I desire."
Later, when the all the Pandavas had mastered their weapons through diligent practice, Drona again brought up the debt to the teacher and said, "The son of Prsata is a monarch named Drupada, who lives in the city of Chatravati. You must take away his kingdom at once and offer it to me."
The five sons of Pandu then defeated Drupada in battle, arrested him, and brought him with his ministers before Drona.
Sri Drona said, "Once again, O ruler of men, I request your friendship. A non-king is not fit to be the friend of a king. Therefore I strove to capture your kingdom so that we could in fact be friends. You will be king of all the land to the south of the Bhagirathi River, and I shall rule the land to the north.
That great insult, though spoken in a minute's time, never left Drupada's heart, and he grew morose and thin.
King Drupada Serves the Sages
King Drupada was a frustrated man, and he journeyed to the dwellings of many brahmanas, seeking the very best of the twiceborn, sages who had perfected the Vedic science of action. He had faith that if he were to have a powerful son, that son would defend his father and mitigate the grief that afflicted the father's mind.
Drupada constantly thought, "I don't have outstanding children." As his sons were born, the discouraged father said, "What a shame are these relatives!" He was forever sighing, for he yearned to repay Drona. He fretted over the situation, but no matter how he tried he could find no way to counteract with his own warrior strength Drona's deeds, learning, power, and discipline.
Once as the king was wandering about the bank of the Ganges where it flows near the River Yamuna, he came upon a sanctified dwelling of brahmanas. Each sage there was fully trained, faithful to his religious vows, and greatly fortunate. Drupada, son of Prsata, particularly noticed two powerful brothers named Yaja and Upayaja. They were peaceful and strict in their vows. Born in the family of Kasyapa, they were advanced in their studies of the Vedas. Those two brahmanas, leaders of all the sages there, seemed perfect for Drupada's purpose. Confident that they would save him from his plight, he eagerly served them, satisfying all their desires.
After ascertaining the strength and learning of both, Drupada submitted himself discreetly to the younger brother, Upayaja, who was particularly firm in his vows, and offered him all he might desire. Rendering Upayaja menial service, addressing him in a most pleasing tone, and arranging all that he wanted, the king honored the sage in the traditional way.
Drupada then said to Upayaja, "Dear brahmana, there must be a process by which I can get a son who will kill Drona. Upayaja, do it for me, and I shall give you ten million cows, or whatever else is very dear to your mind. O illustrious brahmana, I have no doubt about what I want, and I shall give you everything if you will only help me."
The sage replied, "I do not care to perform such a rite."
To win his favor, Drupada continued to render him faithful service.
At the end of one year, at the proper moment, the exalted brahmana Upayaja said to Drupada in a gentle voice, "My older brother, while strolling in the forest by a waterfall, picked up a fruit that had fallen there, but he did not investigate the purity of the ground. I was following behind him, and I saw my brother's improper behavior. He ate an unclean fruit without any investigation. There were impurities clinging to the fruit, but he did not see them. When a person does not consider cleanliness in one thing, why should he in another?
"When we were living in our guru's house and studying the Vedas, my brother would constantly eat other people's leftover alms, praising the quality of the food again and again without the slightest disdain. After carefully studying the matter, I have concluded that my brother is willing to work for profit. So go to him, O king, and he will help you perform your sacrifice."
Hearing these words from Upayaja and not liking them at all, the wise king kept his feelings to himself.
After thinking over the matter, he went and worshiped the venerable saint Yaja and said to him, "My lord, engage me in the rite of sacrifice, and I shall certainly give you eighty thousand cows. I have suffered so much because of my conflict with Drona, and you must now bring some happiness to my life. He is the greatest of Vedic scholars, and no one is more skilled in the deadly brahmastra weapon. Therefore, when we had a quarrel between friends, he easily defeated me. There is no warrior or commander on the earth equal to that wise son of Bharadvaja, now the chief military teacher of the Kuru empire.
"His large bow, the length of three outstretched arms, is clearly unique. When Drona lets fly his impenetrable network of arrows, they simply remove the body of his foe. He has a brilliant mind, and he is an extraordinary archer. With his brahminical power he will doubtlessly strike down a warrior's strength. He seems ordained to cut down the ruling class, as if he were Parasurama himself. No man on earth can bear the terrible power of his weapons.
"Like fire fed with the butter of rite, he shoots out his brahmana's power. Joining the battle, that first of brahmanas burns up the warrior class. It has been ordained by the creator that among brahmanas and kings a brahmana's power is greater. Thus with the mere strength of a king, I am wretched. And so I resort now to the power of brahmanas by approaching you, sir, who are greater than Drona, for you are a supreme scholar in the Vedic science. I must attain an invincible son who can bring down Drona in battle. Do that work for me, Yaja, and I shall select for you ten million cows."
Yaja consented, saying, "So be it," and he began to prepare for the sacrifice.
The Sacrifice Yields Children
Though Upayaja was unwilling, Yaja urged him to take part, saying, "Do it for your older brother's sake."
Finally Upayaja also promised to work the rite for the destruction of Drona. The mighty ascetic Upayaja then explained to the king the sacrificial procedure that would produce the son he desired.
"O king," he said, "exactly as you desire, your son will be a mighty warrior of extraordinary fire and strength."
Determined to have a son who would kill Drona, King Drupada performed all the sacrificial rites with precision so that the process would be successful. Then, at the end of the sacrifice, Yaja called upon Drupada's godly wife.
"Come toward me, queen, daughter-in-law of Prsata, for twin children are ready to have you as their mother."
The godly queen replied, "O brahmana, I am not quite prepared for the holy act. I have to rinse my mouth, and I am holding the sacred scents in my hands. Please wait, Yaja, as a favor to me."
Yaja said, "I, your priest, have already cooked the oblation in the fire, and Upayaja has blessed it with mantra. How then can it not fulfill the purpose of the rite? As for you, you may come forward or stay there as you like."
When Yaja had thus spoken, he made the sacrificial offering he had prepared so well, and from the fire of sacrifice arose a male child, glowing like the gods. The child was as radiant as fire and frightening to behold. He wore a beautiful helmet and armor and was equipped with a sword, a bow, and arrows. He repeatedly let out a thundering warrior cry. He mounted an excellent chariot and on it went forth. All the people of Pancala present there joyously roared their approval.
From the sky a great invisible being declared, "Now the glory of Pancala is born, a king's son who will drive away the people's fear and banish the king's sorrow, for this child is born to kill Drona!"
Then from the middle of the sacrificial altar arose a beautiful and blessed maiden. All her limbs were lovely to behold, her waist was as attractive as a sacred altar, and everything about her was enchanting. Her color and complexion were radiant, for she was an immortal godly being who had taken human form as a Pancala princess.
No other woman on earth could match her supreme beauty. The fragrance of her body, equal to that of a blue lotus, wafted for many miles. She came forth in an exquisitely mature body with lovely curving hips.
The moment she appeared an invisible voice declared, "This best of all women is known as Krsna,* and she is meant to bring many kings to ruin. In due time this thin-waisted woman will carry out the mission of the gods. Because of her, terrible fear will arise among the rulers of the earth."
*Usually called Draupadi ("the daughter of Drupada"), she was also well known as Krsna because of her beautiful dark complexion and pure devotion for Lord Krsna.
Hearing this, all the people of Pancala roared like a host of lions. The abundant earth could hardly bear their weight, so heavy were they with joy.
Seeing the twins produced from the sacrifice, the queen, eager to have her children, approached Yaja and said, "These two must not know anyone but me as their mother."
"So be it," said Yaja, for he desired to please the king.
With full meditation the learned sages then gave names to the two children: "Because this boy is bold and daring (dhrsta) and fiercely courageous (dhrsnu), and because he follows the sacred law and was born from shining light (dyut), this son of Drupada will be called Dhrstadyumna.
"Because this girl will always call upon the name of Lord Krsna, and because her color is dark (krsna), she will be called Krsna."
Thus in a great sacrificial rite, twins were born to King Drupada.
[Although Dhrstadyumna was destined to kill Drona] Drona, the mighty son of Bharadvaja, brought the Pancala prince, Dhrstadyumna, to his own home and taught him the military science. Drona was a brilliant and liberal man. He knew that the future as ordained by God cannot be avoided, and so he acted thus to preserve his own glory.
The worldwide activities of the International Society for Krishna Consciousness (ISKCON)
Devotees have built a temple in Alachua, in northern Florida. The temple opened on Janmastami, the appearance day of Lord Krsna. Local devotees and congregational members contributed to the two-year fund-raising campaign for the 4,000-square-foot building.
The temple is located at New Raman Reti Farm, which devotees purchased in 1977 on the day Srila Prabhupada passed away. In recent years more than four hundred devotees have moved to Alachua, home of several important ISKCON projects, including Back to Godhead.
The Birla Institute is launching a program to offer a Master of Science degree in conjunction with the Bhaktivedanta Institute in Bombay. Graduates will receive a degree in Consciousness Studies. The Birla Institute is one of India's top technical schools.
ISKCON Bhubaneswar has received permission to renovate three holy places in Orissa: the temple of Lord Alalanatha, the samadhi (memorial temple) of Haridasa Thakura, and the birthplace of Srila Jayadeva Gosvami.
ISKCON devotees are also working on a reforestation project for Lord Jagannatha's forest, which supplies wood for His kitchens and the Rathayatra chariots.
Two hundred college students attended a Bhagavad-gita seminar sponsored last July by ISKCON's Bhaktivedanta Youth Services in Secunderabad. Among the guest speakers: Mr. M. V Krishna Rao, Inspector General of Police. He told the students that by taking help from Bhagavad-gita and other Vedic writings one can easily journey through the ups and downs of life and reach the ultimate goal.
A Hare Krsna festival touring Poland attracted more than two thousand people this past summer at each of sixteen outdoor programs. At some programs, more than four thousand people attended.
Czech devotees have started a restaurant in Prague, in an old low-rent building provided by the city government and renovated and furnished with loans from friends. City officials attended the opening.
Commonwealth of Independent States
Twenty-five thugs stormed the Hare Krsna temple in Rostov-on-Donau, Russia, in June, and beat the forty devotees, including women, gathered in the temple for the evening service. Brandishing shovels and wooden clubs, the attackers beat the heads and ribs of the unarmed devotees, ten of whom were later hospitalized for concussions and broken bones. At the time of this writing, one devotee was in critical condition with a fractured skull. Police are investigating the attack.
Volunteers from Hare Krishna Food for Life brought relief to victims just twenty-four hours after an earthquake devastated the city of Neftegorsk, in the Russian province of Sakhalin, last June. Four devotees spent ten days in the city, distributing prasadam made from one ton of rice, beans, and vegetables supplied by the Russian Ministry of Emergency.
Gunmen shot dead a Hare Krsna leader while robbing his home in Sukhumi, in the breakaway Abkhazia region of Georgia. Igor Kortua, who ran the Food for Life program in Abkhazia, was killed in July as he tried to defend his wife from three gunmen, all Abkhazians, who wanted to steal her jewelry. The couple's young son was also wounded in the attack.
In Abkhazia, separatist forces fought a war against Georgian government troops from August 1992 through September 1993. Devotees have been working there for three years, providing food for refugees from the conflict. About 1,000 people are fed daily.
ISKCON leader Bhakti-tirtha Swami received a standing ovation for his speech on Sanatana Dharma ("Eternal Religion") at the main event of the World Hindu Conference last July in Durban, South Africa. Attending were President Nelson Mandela, members of his cabinet, scholars, religious leaders, and other dignitaries.
ISKCON devotees served prasadam to thirty thousand people attending the Conference.
The Bhaktivedanta Institute of Philosophy held a nine-day course on English, Sanskrit, scripture, and philosophy last June at Nova Gokula Farm in Brazil. Several of the teachers hold advanced academic degrees.
Devotees have opened a small center in Hanoi, Vietnam.
To get much of our news Back to Godhead teams up with 1SKCON World Review, the newspaper of the Hare Krsna movement. For more detailed news, subscribe to ISKCON World Review (see page 60).
Srila Prabhupada's Centennial
Nepal has released a one-rupee postage stamp honoring Srila Prabhupada's Centennial.
Devotees in Mauritius have launched a competition that includes a one-year course of study in Srila Prabhupada's biography.
In honor of the Centennial, ISKCON's center in Lagos, Nigeria, has pledged to hold chanting processions in 108 towns and villages and organize Food for Life programs once a month at the city center.
Devotees in Orissa plan to establish a government-accredited Vaisnava university at the birthsite of the Vaisnava poet Jayadeva Gosvami. The school will be named the Jayadeva Bhaktivedanta University.
Padayatra South Pacific
Devotees from four Australian temples joined local devotees for a three-week Walking Festival in Papua New Guinea, the Solomon Islands, Vanuatu, and New Caledonia.
The Padayatra team from Bhaktivedanta Manor in England led walking festivals in Norway and Denmark last June and July, and in August moved on to Ireland.
The conditioned living entity is satisfied in his own particular species of life; while deluded by the covering influence of the illusory energy, he feels little inclined to cast off his body, even when in hell, for he takes delight in hellish enjoyment.
There is no truth superior to Me. Everything rests upon Me, as pearls are strung on a thread.
—Lord Sri Krsna
Modern civilization is a patchwork of activities meant to cover the perpetual miseries of material existence.
—His Divine Grace A.C. Bhaktivedanta Swami Prabhupada
Men become strong and stout by eating sufficient grains, but the devotee who simply eats ordinary grains but does not taste the transcendental pastimes of Lord Caitanya Mahaprabhu and Krsna gradually becomes weak and falls down from the transcendental position.
—Srila Krsnadasa Kaviraja Gosvami
The material miseries of the living entity, which are superfluous to him, can be directly mitigated by the linking process of devotional service. But the mass of people do not know this, and therefore the learned Vyasadeva compiled this Vedic literature [Srimad-Bhagavatam], which is in relation to the Supreme Truth.
—Srila Suta Gosvami
It is very much regrettable that unfortunate people do not discuss the description of the Vaikuntha [spiritual] planets but engage in topics that are unworthy to hear and bewilder one's intelligence. Those who give up the topics of Vaikuntha and take to talk of the material world are thrown into the darkest region of ignorance.
The self-effulgent Vaikuntha planets, by whose illumination alone all the illuminating planets within this material world give off reflected light, cannot be reached by those who are not merciful to other living entities.
—Sri Maitreya Rsi