Statement of Purposes
1. To help all people discern reality from illusion, spirit from matter, the eternal from the temporary.
The Impersonalists Prove Our Point
IN THE PREVIOUS issue of BTG, we mentioned that a magazine in the Pacific Rim had published an editorial objecting to our series on the demigods, the exalted servants of Lord Krsna who govern the laws of the universe. I had expected that in the present issue we might answer the editor's objections.
We won't—and for an unanticipated reason: local religious politics. In several countries on the Pacific Rim, the national government has set up local boards to advise it on religious affairs, and among these is a board for Hinduism. The countries I have in mind have large Hindu populations, so the board is meant to represent the Hindu interest.
The governments take seriously the boards they have appointed, so the boards have a fair amount of power. By the advice of the board, a religious group can receive full state approval and support—or it can be marginalized or even banned.
As fate would have it, the majority of Hindu leaders in these countries subscribe to precisely the idea which BTG, in recent articles, has challenged: the idea that worship of any god will bring one to the same goal, since the gods merely represent a higher, impersonal Absolute.
As our recent articles have shown, in the Bhagavad-gita this idea is rejected. The Gita clearly declares that Lord Krsna is the Supreme Personality of Godhead and all other deities are His servants. Though the Absolute does include a formless, impersonal feature, that feature is in fact subordinate to the ultimate personal form of Godhead, Sri Krsna.
What we are seeing here is a difference of views that has been a hallmark of philosophical discussion in India for centuries: the difference between personalism and impersonalism.
Both the personalists and impersonalists agree that everything is one. But the impersonalists say that everything is utterly one—nothing and no one is ultimately distinct from anything or anyone else. And the personalists say that oneness includes eternal variety. Everything is one because everything is the energy of Lord Krsna. We are all one because we are all part and parcel of Krsna, yet at the same time, everything and everyone is truly and distinctly individual.
Getting back to politics: In some countries where the impersonal school of Hinduism is in the majority, local Hindu leaders seem inclined to advise their governments that as long as everything is one, everything is cozy: peace and harmony and religious tolerance will prevail, because everything is one. But Krsna consciousness, they say, will mean intolerance and discord, because it insists on individuality, and in particular the supreme individuality of Krsna. So the impersonalists, it seems, would like the government to weigh in on their side. But in arguing for the coziness of oneness, they have also shown the flaw in their thinking. For all paths are equally true—except Krsna consciousness. All views are equally valid—except Krsna consciousness. All should be honored and tolerated—except Krsna consciousness.
What kind of oneness is that?
Anyway, in the interests of keeping harmony with powerful and potentially repressive local boards, we'll leave that Pacific Rim editorial without further comments. Except this—
In arguing for oneness, the impersonalists have proven our point: everyone is eternally individual.
Whole Life Changed
I do not have the words to praise the work being done by ISKCON world-wide. In 1991, I attended one lecture and feast on Sunday in the Hare Krsna Temple in North Sydney in Australia. That lecture has changed my whole life. Ever since, my view towards so many things in the world has changed enormously. I have visited your temple at Vrndavana in India and also Govardhana Dhama at Millfield, on the Central Coast of New South Wales. God will bless you all with eternal bliss and happiness for what you are doing to uplift society and spread the message of the Supreme Lord and spirituality. Thank you very, very much indeed.
Lord Krsna's Potency In Action
Back to Godhead magazine is all-attractive and ever-expanding, just as Lord Krsna is all-attractive and His beauty ever increasing. Thank you for your hard work and unceasing efforts to expand and improve BTG. It is simply amazing to see Lord Krsna's potency in action. A few humble souls, but sincerely surrendered, have regularly produced such a powerful preaching magazine.
Duhsala Devi Dasi
Thank You to Srila Prabhupada's Disciples
Yamuna Devi has preserved Srila Prabhupada's devotion to Lord Krsna in the kitchen. That is why it is so satisfying to try all the different procedures she mentions and use just the right ingredients.
As Srila Prabhupada's grand-disciple, for his centennial I want to glorify him by glorifying all his wonderful disciples who are doing such valuable service for him in the Krsna consciousness movement. By working in this movement under the guidance of my spiritual master and with the help of so many other of Prabhupada's disciples, such as Yamuna with her cookbook, Satsvarupa Maharaja and his Srila Prabhupada-lilamrta, the members of the governing body, and the staff of BTG, I and so many others who didn't have the chance before are able to come into contact with Srila Prabhupada. I offer my humble obeisances and gratitude to Yamuna Devi and to all of Srila Prabhupada's disciples.
Lalita Devi Dasi
My mind and heart go out to Dvarakadhisa Devi Dasi and her wonderful article "The Best and Worst of Japa." Her wonderful insights and her humor will encourage any soul who has occasionally wondered, "Why should I chant God's name?"
A Scientist with Faith
The New York newspaper India Abroad published a letter from a reader who rejected the laws of karma explained by Krsna in Bhagavad-gita. The writer offered instead that a person's life is governed solely by chemistry and biology. A Back to Godhead reader wrote this reply.
I am one of many physicists and engineers who still hold firm faith in Gita, in Krishna, and in His words. The writer is one of many, particularly in this Kali Yuga [the dark age of illusion], who have lost faith in Gita and God, the Supreme Being.
A scientist is interested in understanding logically how nature works so that he can manipulate nature to satisfy his desires. The basic natural desires are to enjoy eating, sleeping, mating, and defending. All animals are engaged constantly in these four activities only.
Human life begins when one is curious to know much more than animals: Who am I? Who created this material world? Who created the laws of nature which the scientists are mad to know and engineers are mad to manipulate? Who digests the food in the stomach? Who causes the heart to beat, or to stop beating even when all the ingredients of body functioning seem in order? Who wakes one up even when there is no alarm?
All these and many more are human enquiries which animals or animalistic human beings cannot think of. When one inquires about things like this, he or she is human. Our scriptures say, athato brahma jijnasa: Spiritual life begins after such inquiry.
Mundane scientific inquiry depends solely upon logic and the five material senses, and it is successful mostly for the study of nature. When one comes to the study of self, it fails.
To get spiritual knowledge one can use the senses and logic, which will go a long way, but to get the fruit of spiritual knowledge one does better to trust an authority.
When I wanted to know who is my father, I asked my mother. She said, "This is your father," and I accepted. The writer of the referenced letter, it seems, would not believe his mother and would probably go to get blood tests and genetic tests of his parents to try to see the truth. And even then his evidence would be inconclusive. It is wise to take the word of recognized authorities.
A.C. Bhaktivedanta Swami Prabhupada gives us the spiritual knowledge and the ways to live as human beings that Krishna gave us originally, just like a postman who does not add, delete or modify the letters he delivers. Srila Prabhupada's book "Beyond Birth and Death" gives the understanding of karma as given by Krishna, the supreme authority.
Jai Sri Krishna!
Standing Up for the Truth
I refer to the resolution of the Federation of Hindu Associations and the brilliant reply given by Jayadvaita Swami. It is so funny that the president of the association calls himself the protector of Hindu interests but condemns the Puranas by calling them obscure. If the Puranas are obscure, why do he and others attend so many programmes directly based on Puranas? Without Puranas, Hindu society would have been left high and dry, as the Vedas are high and the Upanisads are dry for an ordinary Hindu. The Puranas are the basis for restoring faith, and the Srimad-Bhagavatam is the pinnacle of all Puranas.
Prabhupada's Krsna consciousness movement is not endangering Hinduism; it is the only organization which has brought out the true purpose of Hinduism, namely following the Sanatana Dharma. Since the movement is based on sastras [Vedic scriptures] and is highly convincing in logic and content, it is being accepted universally. The proof is the spreading of the Hare Krsna movement in every nook and corner of the world. I congratulate you for standing up for the truth, without any compromise to please a few self-declared leaders.
Subuddhi Krsna Dasa
BTG a Ray of Light
Back to Godhead never fails to inspire me during those trying times, when Maya seems to be on the attack and I seem to be groping in the darkness of ignorance. BTG always offers that ray of light, and for this I am so grateful.
As a university student, I find that BTG never fails to bring colour into our boring, routine lives.
Especially in the current South African context, where everything is so stressful, BTG gives us hope.
All through my academic career, I have been proud to show others copies of BTG, because I know that I will never be disappointed and always get positive results—it's simply matchless, simply the best.
Thanks again for this wonderful magazine.
We'd like to hear from you. Please send correspondence to: The Editors, Back to Godhead, P. O. Box 430, Alachua, Florida 32616, USA. Fax: (904) 462-7893.
E-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org email@example.com
Our brilliant original nature
A lecture given in Honolulu, on January 28, 1974
by His Divine Grace A.C. Bhaktivedanta Swami Prabhupada
ka va saheta viraham purusottamasya
"Who, therefore, can tolerate the pangs of separation from that Supreme Personality of Godhead? He could conquer the gravity and passionate wrath of His sweethearts like Satyabhama and others by His sweet smile of love, pleasing glance, and hearty appeals. When He traversed my [earth's] surface, I would be immersed in the dust of His lotus feet and thus would be sumptuously covered with grass, which appeared like hairs standing on me out of pleasure."—Srimad-Bhagavatam 1.16.35
KA VA SAHETA viraham purusottamasya. Purusottama. There are two words—purusa and prakrti. Prakrti means "enjoyed" or "the energy," and purusa means "the enjoyer" or "the powerful." We living entities are prakrti. That is stated in the Bhagavad-gita: prakrti vidhi me param. And Krsna is the purusa, the Supreme Person or the supreme enjoyer.
The purusa has different features: His personal feature, as the Supreme Personality of Godhead, and His expansions. His expansion feature is of two kinds: svamsa, or His personal expansions, and vibhinnamsa, His separated expansions. We living entities are all vibhinnamsa, separated expansions, small particles. We are like particles of sunshine. The sunshine is a combination of very small particles of light. Similarly, we living entities are small particles, part and parcel of God. We are also bright, shining. We are not dull. But on account of our combination with material nature we have been covered. Therefore our shining quality is now stopped. That is due to forgetfulness of our relationship with the Supreme purusa—purusottama, or uttama purusa.
There are three grades of purusa: uttama, madhyama, and adhama. We are the lowest grade, adhama; therefore there is a chance of our brightness being sometimes covered. But we can again revive our brightness and shine with the Supreme Person. As the sun and the sunshine shine together, when we are again posted in our own constitutional position—where Krsna is like the sun and we are shining particles—then our life is successful. That is wanted.
Therefore Krsna, the Purusottama, comes to take us back: "Why are you now covered? Why has your shining stopped? You are morose. You are suffering the threefold miserable conditions of material existence. Why are you rotting here?" Sarva-dharman parityajya mam ekam saranam vraja.
Krsna comes Himself. He is within everyone's heart. He is ready to instruct, but He'll instruct only persons who have engaged themselves in devotional service. The master may have many workers, but he speaks to the important persons, not to the ordinary person. Similarly, the master Krsna is there in everyone's heart:
Whatever we are getting for our sense enjoyment is with the sanction of the purusa, the Supreme Person. The Paramatma feature is madhyama [the intermediate] purusa. Purusottama [purusa uttama] is the Supreme Person, and the Supreme Person by His expansion as the Supersoul is present in everyone's heart. isvarah sarva-bhutanam. He's guiding as friend, but He speaks directly with the living entity as soon as we are purified by devotional service. Tesam satata-yuktanam bhajatam priti-purvakam. That qualification we have to attain. Then Krsna, Purusottama, will speak from within, just as He spoke from within Brahma (tene brahma hrda ya adi-kavaye).
We have to become qualified to talk with the Supreme Person, and He will give us advice. He's ready to give us advice from within and from without—from within as Supersoul and from without as the spiritual master. Therefore it is said, guru-krsna-prasade paya bhakti-lata-bija. Both are required: guru and Krsna. Krsna is within your heart. If you are sincere, if you actually want Krsna, He will help you in meeting the spiritual master, His representative. And by the instruction of the spiritual master you will develop more and more your Krsna consciousness, your original position.
This is called devotional service, or bhakti-lata, "the creeper of devotional service." To grow a creeper one first of all sows the seed and waters it; then gradually the seed sprouts and the creeper grows. It will become a big tree or creeper and give you fruits. Similarly, the bhakti-lata-bija, the seed of the bhakti creeper, is given by the spiritual master in cooperation with Krsna. That is initiation.
Initiation means sowing the seed of devotional service. Now, if after getting initiation you think, "I have become perfect. Now again whatever nonsense I was doing I shall go on doing it," then it will be useless. Suppose you plant a seed. If you don't take proper care and water it nicely, then it will not grow; it will be stunted. So initiation means that by the mercy of Krsna, through His agent, the spiritual master, you get the seed of bhakti-lata, the creeper of devotional service. So you have to take care of yourself by following the instructions. You cannot think, "Now that I have a spiritual master and I have initiation, my business is finished. Let me do all nonsense." No.
At initiation, before the fire we promise, "No illicit sex, no meat-eating, no gambling, no intoxication." The fire is a representation of yajna-purusa, the Lord of sacrifice, and through fire the yajna-purusa, or Purusottama, eats. So during the initiation ceremony the fire is present, the spiritual master is present, sastra, or scripture, is present, and Krsna is present. They are all witnesses.
If you are in court, before the high-court judge you promise, "Whatever I'll speak in this court will be the truth." So the judge knows that promise, and he gives his judgment based on that promise. Similarly, the promises made at initiation must be kept; otherwise the initiation will be useless. By the mercy of guru, by the mercy of Krsna, you get the thing. Now to use the thing properly will depend on you. I can give you a very nice thing, but if you keep it locked up in your treasury and never use it, then what good will it do you? Mali haya sei bija kare aropana. You have to sow the seed and pour water and see that it is nicely growing.
So don't think that after the official ceremony of initiation your business and my business are finished. No. The business begins. It is not the finishing; it is the beginning. Adau gurv-asrayah. The beginning is to take shelter of guru. Then the student must be very inquisitive—sad-dharma-prccha. You'll find all these instructions in The Nectar of Devotion.
Today some of you are going to be initiated. This is the beginning of your spiritual life. But if you don't take care for further development, then that is up to you. You may fall down, because Maya is very strong. Maya will place so many impediments. She does not like that so easily you go back home, back to Godhead. Maya's business is like the police's business. The police's business is to see that the criminal has returned to his original consciousness as a law-abiding citizen. Otherwise the police will go on punishing him. Similarly, Maya is the police agent. Her business is to chastise you. Every moment this is going on. Material life means to be within the jurisdiction of Maya, and she's always punishing us, because we have tried to forget Krsna and that is not good for us. That is explained in the Srimad-Bhagavatam:
ya esam purusam saksad
I'll give you a practical example. This finger is part and parcel of my body, but if it becomes diseased, then it cannot act as my finger. It becomes a source of pain only. Then sometimes the doctor advises, "Unless you cut off this finger, the whole hand will be faulty." And you have to cut off the one finger to save the other fingers. Similarly, we are all part and parcel of the Supreme Lord, and we become disobedient or diseased. To become disobedient to God means we are in a diseased condition, because we always have to be obedient to somebody. Even in our so-called disobedient state—when we don't care about God—we care about somebody else. That is obligatory. You cannot say, "I don't care about anybody." That is not possible. If you don't care about God, then you have to care about somebody else. If you don't care about the state law, then you have to care about the police department. You cannot say, "I am independent." That is not possible.
Our position is one of forgetting God. We have been kicked constantly by Maya. Maya has given us the senses, and the senses are dictating to us, "Do this, do that, do this, do that." And we become servant of our senses.
So two things are there. You are servant by constitution, but when you forget or give up the service of the Lord, then you become servant of your senses or Maya. That is your position. Now you must voluntarily give up the service of the senses and surrender to the master of the senses, Hrsikesa.
One of Krsna's names is Hrsikesa. Hrsikesa is the master of senses, Krsna. In our present condition we have forgotten the master of our senses and have taken our senses as our master. That is our position. That position has to be purified—we have to become not the servant of the senses but the servant of the master of the senses. Then we also become master of the senses. That purificatory process is called devotional service, or bhakti. That is described in Narada Pancaratra: sarvopadhi vinirmuktam tat paratvena nirmalam.
Now, how we have become the servant of our senses? Because of so many designations—"I am American," "I am Indian," "I am Hindu," "I am Muslim," "I am Christian," "I am this," "I am that." Accepting designations means becoming a servant of the senses. So we have to forget our designations. At initiation everyone should consider, "I am no longer American," "I am no longer Indian," "I am no longer this or that," "No longer do I think, 'I am Hindu, he is Christian.' Now I must think, 'I am the servant of Krsna.' " When you think in this way, then you become designationless—"I am the servant of Krsna." Jivera svarupa haya krsnera nitya dasa. You become designationless and immediately purified.
Nirmalam means "spotless." When your senses are engaged in the service of the master of the senses, that is called bhakti.
These things are all very elaborately explained in our books.
Those who are going to be initiated should take it as a vow not to fall down again. Catch Krsna's lotus feet very tightly and you'll not fall down. Mam eva ye prapadyante mayam etam taranti te. Be determined. Don't make it a farce—"Today I am initiated, and tomorrow I will again give up everything and again grow my hair and then go to hell." No. Don't do that. If you want to be serious, then the path is clear for going back to Godhead.
mam ca yo 'vyabhicarena
As soon as you engage yourself in devotional service you become purified of all material contamination. Sa gunan samatityaitan. We are being troubled by the three modes of material nature, but if we stick to our devotional service we'll be protected. It is not very difficult to follow the four regulative principles. For example, no illicit sex. There is no question of stop-ping sex, but no illicit sex. But people today are so unfortunate that although a man has a wife he goes to another girl and although the girl has a husband she goes to another man. So unfortunate.
These things should be stopped if you want to be serious. Otherwise, make a farce and do whatever you like. I cannot give you protection. That is not possible.
You must follow these rules and regulations if you are serious. Then take initiation. Don't make a farce. That is my request. One has to be very determined—bhajante mam drdha-vratah. This word is used in the Bhagavad-gita: drdha-vratah, "strong determination"—"Yes, in this life I shall go back home, back to Godhead." This is determination.
And what is the difficulty? No difficulty. Chant the Hare Krsna mantra. You are accepting the beads. You must chant sixteen rounds. You can finish in two or three hours. You have twenty-four hours. Of course, if you want to sleep twenty-three hours, that is another thing. You have to minimize your sleeping. If you cannot finish sixteen rounds, then you must not sleep on that day, you must not eat. Why don't you forget to eat? Why do you forget chanting Hare Krsna? This is negligence, aparadha, offense. Rather, you should forget your sleeping and eating, and you must finish sixteen rounds. That is called determination.
So you are welcome to take initiation. But if you are neglectful, if you want to make it a farce, that is your business. I cannot give you protection.
Thank you very much.
Its Message And Activities
"The Hare Krsna movement says that harmony between itself and the whole world can be established by understanding one simple point ..."
This article closely paraphrases and to a large extent copies verbatim an article published in June 1927 in The Harmonist, a journal founded in 1879 by the great spiritual master Srila Bhaktivinoda Thakura. The Harmonist article, like all the others in the June 1927 issue, was unsigned. But the editor at the time was Srila Bhaktisiddhanta Sarasvati Thakura, the spiritual master of His Divine Grace A.C. Bhaktivedanta Swami Prabhupada. We may presume, therefore, that Srila Bhaktisiddhanta Sarasvati either wrote the article or approved of its contents.
BY THE GRACE of Krsna, the Hare Krsna movement has spread all over the world, spreading Krsna's message.
The truth spreads in two ways—positively through direct support and negatively by opposition. The truth cannot be made sufficiently known by the positive method alone. Propaganda through opposition invokes and glorifies the truth more brilliantly than direct support. In the Satya-yuga, through negative propaganda, the demon Hiranyakasipu more than the devoted Prahlada glorified Krsna in His form as Nrsimhadeva. In the Treta-yuga, the demon Ravana more than the devoted Hanuman proclaimed the greatness of Krsna in His form as Lord Ramacandra. In the Dvapara-yuga, demons like Kamsa, Jarasandha, and Sisupala, more than devotees like the Pandavas and Yadavas, proclaimed the greatness of Krsna Himself. And in the present age, Kali-yuga, antagonists like Jagai, Madhai, Chand Kazi, Prakasananda Sarasvati, Ramacandra Khan, Ramacandra Puri, and in more recent times various sects of hypocrites have glorified Krsna in His forms as Lord Caitanya Mahaprabhu and Lord Nityananda Prabhu more than have Lord Caitanya's own devotees.
The truth is in all ages propagated in this world by both the positive and negative methods. The true message of ISKCON, the International Society for Krsna Consciousness, has spread and is spreading in this manner.*
*When this article mentions ISKCON or the Hare Krsna movement, the original named the Gaudiya Math, an organization that was ISKCON's spiritual predecessor.
It may be asked, "What does ISKCON do? Is it merely another association like the thousands of sects in this world? Or is it among the world's welfare societies? Or is it one of the world's many mischievous organizations?
"What work does ISKCON do for the benefit of the world? Is the Hare Krsna movement affectionate like a mother, a protector like a father, or a helper like a brother? What well-being for society does it desire? What very considerable service does it render to mankind that the world, or the civilized world, or the whole of mankind should listen to its message?"
Many such questions may arise in our minds.
ISKCON is not an association like the world's thousands of sects. It doesn't desire the welfare or non-welfare of the world like other benefit- or mischief-making societies. It does not do work that is beneficial or harmful in terms of worldly enjoyments. ISKCON is neither affectionate nor cruel like a worldly mother. It is neither protector nor destroyer like a worldly father, neither helper nor enemy like a worldly brother. What then is this Hare Krsna movement that the world should listen to its words?
There need be no want of harmony between the Hare Krsna movement and the world. The only disharmony is caused by one little misunderstanding. The Hare Krsna movement says that harmony between itself and the whole world can be established by understanding one simple point: that the duty of all living beings consists in the exclusive service of Adhoksaja, the Transcendence. Most people of this world say that the duty of all living beings is the service of aksaja, or matter. Even when this is not actually said, in practice it is this that is always done.
The Hare Krsna movement says that sadhya, the object of our activities, should itself be the only sadhana, or means for attaining that object. In the opinion of most men of the world, sadhya and sadhana are different. The Hare Krsna movement says that so long as one continues to be under the influence of the physical and mental dharma (functions), words like "unity" and "universal love" are mere sounds, like such words as akasa-kusum ("a flower in the sky"). Harmony is possible only when one has obtained a firm footing in the dharma of the soul.
Service to Godhead or Service to Matter
This distinction requires to be made perfectly clear. The service of the Adhoksaja means the service of the transcendental Godhead. That which helps or hinders the gratification of the body or the mind is not the service of the Adhoksaja, the Transcendence; it is the service of aksaja, matter. The body is pleased by the enjoyment of free air and the open sky. The troublesome mind is gratified if allowed to roam at will like an unbridled horse, to revel in the beauties of Nature, to gather honey as it pleases from the many-tinted flowers of the groves of poetry. Contrary to this is the impersonal or voidistic point of view, based upon repugnance for all gratification. Neither of these is service to the Adhoksaja—both are service to the aksaja.
Although most people of the world profess to be positivists, dealing only with positive facts and phenomena, they fail to see, though it must be quite patent, the greatest of all phenomena. They at any rate forget it in practice even when they appear to know. Although the greatest of the positivists, Carvaka, could not but have observed this greatest of all phenomena, he failed to take notice of it. That great phenomenon is generally known by the name of—death.
If the memory of this great event were retained in our minds we would assuredly be solicitous of the amrta (deathlessness). The Sruti (Svetasvatara Upanisad 2.5) says we are all children of the amrta, heirs of the amrta. Srnvantu visve amrtasya putrah: "Listen, O children of the amrta."
In this world two kinds of endeavor are found for obtaining this amrta. Like the sons of kings in the epochs recorded in history, some try to ascend the throne of their father by treason against the father; on the other hand, loyal sons in seeking to be heirs of a kindhearted and affectionate father look upon constant service as being both the means and the end.
The Hare Krsna movement understands such service to be the appropriate and eternal method. Why is it appropriate? Because—
srnvatam sva-kathah krsnah
"Sri Krsna is the benefactor of all holy persons. Whosoever listens to or sings about His messages is sanctified. Appearing in the hearts of all who listen to accounts about Himself, He destroys the evil propensities in their hearts to the very root." This root or seed of sin, or sinful desire, or ignorance (avidya), is the cause of the worldly sojourn of the living being.
Why is the method eternal? Because—
bhejire munayo 'thagre
"In the beginning the munis, or sages, worshiped the Adhoksaja, the transcendental Personality of Godhead, in this way."
That type of kindness which does not give rise to manda, or evil, is termed amandodaya daya. For example, if a sick man is allowed to eat forbidden items or a drunkard is helped to proceed to a liquor shop, kindness is indeed shown, but that kindness later turns out harmful to the person who receives it. If the sick man is placed under medical treatment against his will, if the drunkard is protected from his evil course, amandodaya daya, non-harm-producing kindness, is shown. Preventing floods and famines, nursing the sick, pleasing or displeasing anyone, or stultifying anyone's faculty of consciousness (i.e., promoting voidism)—every one of these is an instance of mandodaya daya, harm-producing kindness.
Man cannot understand this till he realizes his true position. By such acts the living being is not really benefited. Cutting the root of misery is doing real good to others; the treatment that allows the gangrene of sensual desires to remain does no real good to the patient. Nor does one prove great wisdom, out of spite to the gangrene of sensual desires, to hang the sick man, holding out to him the prospect of mukti, annihilation, as a complete and permanent cure.
svayam nihsreyasam vidvan
"Just as the best physician, even if a patient evinces a desire for unwholesome food, does not allow it, he who is himself aware of nihsreyah, the highest good, never advises an ignorant person to do karma, work, for his own interest." (Bhagavatam 6.9.50) The Sruti (Mundaka Upanisad 1.2.6) says:
avidyayam bahudha varta mana vayam
"Ignorant persons, being themselves in the midst of manifold avidya, errors, think, 'We have gained what we want.' Because they work for their own interest, attached to their work, they have no experience of the real truth. With extreme solicitude they gain little as the result of their activities. After a time they fall from their position." The Sruti (Mundaka Upanisad 1.3.8) further says:
avidyayamantare varta manah
"Remaining in the midst of ignorance, men consider themselves conscientious and enlightened. Such perverted and ignorant men come to grief, like the blind man led by the blind."
The Remedy for All Distress
Forgetful of their own home under the spell of the enchantress, most people of the world are running headlong in the opposite direction. In this again their intoxication, eagerness, concentration, and firm determination are so intense that they have little opportunity to think about home. But the voice of the Hare Krsna movement is ever proclaiming:
'krsna' bala, sange cala,
"Chant Hare Krsna. Come along. These are the only alms we beg."
"Back to God and back to home" is the message of the Hare Krsna movement.
To arrest the pervertedly running tide and redirect it towards the Eternal Source is the seemingly unpleasant duty of the Hare Krsna movement.
The Hare Krsna movement says, "All men of the world without exception belong to our family. All birds and beasts, grass and shrubs are our kin. Whatsoever conscious being, wheresoever existing, belongs to our Supreme Lord. We shall conduct our family members from out of the spells of the enchantress towards home. We shall not show for-the-time-being sweet sympathy for them by enabling those who have fallen into the snares of the enchantress to get more deeply entangled. Even if under the spell of the enchantress they fill heaven and earth with their loud protestations against our endeavors, we shall still proclaim the message of the amrta to them."
Even if it is contrary to the current of thoughts of the religious or religiously minded people as those terms are understood by the world, or even if it appears strange or wonderful to them, we will still forever practice and proclaim the sanatana-dharma, the eternal religion made by God, the tidings of which are unknown to any of the rsis, gods, siddhas, and men, the dharma which, although it happens to be hidden, pure, and difficult to understand, alone enables us to attain the amrta. That dharma is the supreme dharma of the living being, the dharma to which all living beings without exception have a claim, the dharma to which everyone in the universe may become the heir. That dharma is the object as well as the method of our endeavors.
The current that is sweeping the world, the flood on which it is adrift, the famine by which it is distressed, the want, fear, sorrow, delusion by which it is mastered, oppressed and tortured, can be prevented, can be pulled up by the root, by the method of moving homeward, the method of self-surrender at the holy feet of the sorrowless and fearless amrta.
The Power of the Holy Name
So long as we stay in the foreign land—and the greater the distance and speed with which we continue to run towards foreign lands and away from the direction of home—so long and to the same extent will sorrow, fear and delusion refuse to leave us; they will on the contrary mock us like the delusive deer by their further and steady increase. The Sruti (Brhad-aranyaka Upanisad) says, dvitiyad vai bhayam bhavati: "Fear must result from the perception of a second entity different from Godhead."
Death cannot be abolished from this mundane world. By no amount of effort by the united living beings of the universe can the threefold miseries be banished to Siberia. No one can extinguish the fire of Ravana's funeral pyre. Only the water cooled by contact with the feet of Sri Ramacandra has the power to quench it. Once the world is fairly embarked on the high tide of the holy name the insignificant worldly flood retires forthwith. If the alms in the shape of the songs glorifying Krsna become easily procurable, the little famines will leave us for good as a mere attendant result. With the appearance of sorrow-delusion-fear-killing bhakti (devotional service), avidya (nescience), the root of every form of misery of the living being, is destroyed, and the soul is well satisfied.
Bhakti is like fire. Nothing else can purify gold the way fire can. Without bhakti-yoga (the association of bhakti) other forms of effort are meaningless, like the attempt to refine gold by applying tamarind, earth, or ashes.
To imagine artha-vada in regard to the holy name—or, in other words, to imagine that the glorification of the name is mere exaggeration of praise—is that godless intellectual attitude which gives rise to our belief in other tangible forms of effort. We think that the work of glorifying or preaching the name of Krsna is not conducive to the general good. Or again we may think sometimes that the glorification and preaching of the name is on a level with other kinds of effort.
The first is artha-vada in regard to the name. The second is the offense (aparadha) of believing the chanting of the name to be equal to other good works. To have faith in the holy name is so very rare that we may leave it out of consideration. If we had faith even in namabhasa (the most dimly perceived name) we would have never said that succoring the victims of floods is better than congregationally chanting Hare Krsna and preaching about Krsna, or that opening hospitals or freeing the country from famines is better than preaching devotion to God.
Hundreds of famines can be got rid of not by namabhasa but even by namaparadha (offensive chanting of the name). The mukti (liberation) that is not obtained in millions of births by brahma-jnana, "knowledge of Brahman," can be had by one single namabhasa. This is no exaggeration.
The Only Message
This alone is the only true message. Lord Caitanya Mahaprabhu, the avatari (the source of all incarnations), the savior of Kali-yuga, has borne testimony to it through the namacarya (the teacher of the name by his own personal example) Sri Thakura Haridasa.
Never adopting the bad logic of purveyors of vulgar news, neither Lord Caitanya nor any of His devotees was ever in a hurry to prevent flood or famine or to found hospitals, nor did they give any other advice to anyone except telling all men at all times and places:
kali kale nama vina nahi ara dharma
"In the Kali-yuga there is no other dharma but uttering the name of Krsna."
khaite suite yatha tatha nama laya
"Regardless of time or place, one who chants the holy name, even while eating or sleeping, attains all perfection." (Caitanya-caritamrta, Antya-lila 20.18)
yare dekha, tare kaha 'krsna' upadesa
"Whomever you meet, instruct him about Krsna. By My command, be a guru and save this land." (Cc. Madhya 7.128)
ucca sankirtana tate karila pracara
"You have preached the loud chanting of the Hare Krsna maha-mantra and in this way freed all moving and nonmoving living enities from material bondage." (Cc. Antya 3.76)
bharata-bhumite haila manusya-janma yara
"One born as a human being in the land of India [Bharata-varsa] should make his life successful and work for the benefit of all other people." (Cc. Adi 9.41)
There is no dharma for the living being other than kirtana, chanting of the holy name of God. To the extent that one disbelieves in bhakti, devotional service, as denoted by kirtana or the holy name—in other words if one thinks that all wants cannot be fulfilled by kirtana—to that extent one is nastika, atheistic. The degree of help one gives in propagating bhakti as denoted by kirtana is the sole measure of one's belief in God. On the other hand, a man is a nastika, disbeliever, to the extent that he obstructs kirtana. Since the name has to be chanted every moment, even while eating or sleeping, since bhakti denoted by kirtana is the only dharma of the living being, since there is no dharma but this, where then is the time to get rid of flood or famine or found hospitals? Those who claim to be positivists but forget the greatest of all facts, death, those who are fallen, like the blind man led by the blind, and who under the spell of the enchantress loiter about like travelers without an objective—it is such people who have time for work other than hari-kirtana, chanting of the holy name of Krsna. All efforts except hari-kirtana cause samsara, "the worldly sojourn," the road leading not to the east but in the opposite direction. On the other hand, by all-time hari-kirtana one turns away from every other direction to face the east, or journey homeward.
"We Will Not Listen to You"
The Hare Krsna movement is the missionary of this all-time kirtana. The movement asks not that all efforts of the world be destroyed but that they be deflected in their course. The Hare Krsna movement begs every one of us to offer his all to Krsna. The opulence of the Hare Krsna movement is for the sole purpose of making all efforts of the world krsna-para, "having Krsna as their goal." The offering to Krsna comes first, and after the offering has been made, bhakti begins. The Hare Krsna movement says, "Make the offering to Krsna first, and after that has been done profess to be a bhakta, a devotee."
The Hare Krsna movement says, Do not imitate the kirtana-kari (one who does kirtana). Anukara, imitation, is a mere burlesque. By arraying oneself in the trappings of a devotee like a harlequin one may deceive people, but one does no good either to oneself or to others. It is those who follow the kirtana-kari that are really their own benefactors or properly alive to self-interest. They are also benefactors of others and mindful of others' interests. They are not blinded by considerations of undue personal advantages, nor do they cheat others. They are therefore truly disinterested. It is by kirtana alone that the claims of self-interest, the interests of others, and disinterestedness are simultaneously satisfied.
Bhoga (enjoyment) or mukti (freedom from misery) in the shape of prevention of famines and so on is gained by namaparadha (offensively taking the name) or by namabhasa (taking the dimly perceived name). That by which millions of times greater eternal good is produced, by which the lotus of the eternal well-being of the living entity blossoms forth—that Sri Nama (holy name) the Hare Krsna movement endeavors to give away freely. The members of the Hare Krsna movement are earnestly trying to give away, freely, Krsna Himself.
In this world there are many persons who spread unwholesome doctrines after advertising their intention to give good advice. And most men are deceived by the idea that actually the pleasurable experience of the moment is the "good." Sanatana Gosvami asked Lord Caitanya Mahaprabhu,
'ke ami', 'kene amaya jare tapa-traya'
"Who am I? And why do the threefold miseries afflict me? If I do not know this, how for me can there be good?"
Lord Caitanya Mahaprabhu is the expounder of sanatana dharma, the eternal occupation for every living being. If the message that He delivered to us regarding the only means of obtaining the "good" had once reached our ears, we would not have considered bhakti denoted by kirtana weak and other methods strong. We would not have turned our face away from the direction in which the treasure would be easily found and have hurried towards the south for the bite of wasps, towards the west for the terrors of the yaksa (the demon that guards worldly riches), or to-wards the north to offer our lives to the fangs of the black snake.* Our home is eastward, but we are running with all speed away from the east towards other points of the compass. And when the people of the east call out to us to turn back, deluded by the mirage we say, "We will not listen to you. See what beautiful lakes full of the cleanest water lie yonder before our very eyes." Talking thus and being by degrees enamored of that which only appears to our senses, we are ever moving away from home towards foreign lands.
*The allusion here is to the story of a poor man advised by an astrologer that the man's father had left him a treasure. The astrologer warned that access to the treasure was blocked from the south by wasps and drones, from the west by a demonic ghost, and from the north by a big black snake. But by digging in the east the treasure would at once be recovered. Similarly, the treasure of Krsna consciousness is blocked by the biting wasps of fruitive action, the ghost of mental speculation, and the snake of impersonal yoga. But by devotional service that treasure is easily attained.—Editor, BTG
Sects of Hypocrites
In those circumstances the doings of the Hare Krsna movement sometimes seem to us and to those who are like-minded with ourselves to be contrary to our ideas. This is likely and need not cause any surprise. But all this notwithstanding, the Hare Krsna movement, bearing its message, its bright flag flying, emblazoned on it the words that attract our ears and eyes, is ever saying:
neha yat karma dharmaya
evam nrnam kriya-yogah
yad atra kriyate karma
"The work not done for the sake of dharma, the dharma not performed for the purpose of vairagya [renunciation], the vairagya not practiced for the service of Visnu—whosoever practices such work, dharma, or vairagya is dead in life. Conditional fruitive works [naimittic kamya karmas] are the cause of the bondage of the world [samsara-bandhana] or 'birth-journeys' [yoni-bhramana]. But those very works, if done for Godhead, have the power to destroy ungodliness. The divine knowledge [bhagavat-jnana] associated with devotional service [bhakti], denoted by hearing, chanting, and so on, is assuredly the unswerving fruit of work performed in this world to please God."
This is the subject of the propaganda of the Hare Krsna movement. The movement by its practice proclaims that neglecting to gratify the senses of Godhead but instead gratifying the senses of the living being can bring no real good either to oneself or to others. Nor does invoking mukti (annihilation) in deprecation of the pleasures of the senses of the living being constitute service to God. There are many sects of hypocrites who counterfeit bhakti, devotional service, by falsely assuming the paraphernalia of a devotee but are not aware that bhakti is an impulse of the soul. Of these, some to fill their bellies, some to achieve fame, or some again by imitating some other purpose serve to delude the people.
The Hare Krsna movement says that it is not proper in the name of dharma to practice trade. We should not use Krsna to serve our own pleasures; our duty is only to serve Krsna. The movement says that imitating the devotee of Krsna or putting on the dress of Narada as in a theatrical performance is far from walking after the devotee of Krsna or following Narada. Delightful tune, time, and cadence alone do not constitute the movement's kirtana, or chanting of Hare Krsna. Those are found even in the performances of recording stars and harlots. Cetanata, "consciousness," is necessary. Simultaneous practice and preaching are necessary. The Hare Krsna movement says that he who does not possess a pure character is not fit even to be styled a man, not to speak of being regarded as religious (dharmaka).
The Hare Krsna movement keeps at a distance from the five Kalisthanas, "abodes of quarrel." The Kalisthanas, according to a text of the Bhagavatam, are the following: (1) dissipating games such as cards and dice; or trade or the profession of a trader performed in the name of dharma; (2) indulgence in luxuries such as betel, tobacco, wine, and so on; (3) improper association with woman or unusual addiction to one's own wife; (4) animal slaughter; or not proclaiming the truth to people but deceiving them by untruth, not preaching krsna-katha, "the word of God," to other living beings but in place of krsna-katha giving other kinds of advice; (5) cheating people, or accepting money earned by their labor and applying such wealth to the maintenance of wife and children or increasing the scope of one's own enjoyment; or not employing everything—the body, mind, and speech, life, wealth, and intellect—in the service of Sri Visnu, who is the proprietor of all things and the Supreme Lord of all wealth.
The Highest Good, With Little Effort
The Vedic literature says that of all things the human body is the dearest to God, for the human body is the giver of param artha, "the highest good," and is very difficult to obtain. Therefore, while this body lasts, without being immersed in any other thing, not deceiving ourselves by thinking that any method other than sorrow-stupor-fear-killing devotional service is productive of good, our duty is to unceasingly practice devotional service. Other forms of devotional service to God are weak; the devotional service denoted by kirtana is strong. Once the protection of the strong bhakti is secured, it gives the living beings the highest good with little effort on their part. Therefore, preaching kirtana at all times, by right of the highest kinship, to induce all living beings to turn homeward is true universal love, true help for others, true kindness, and the true duty of life. Embracing all the inhabitants of the universe without exception, in sadness calling upon all to turn their face towards God to be preachers of this devotional service denoted by kirtana, the Hare Krsna movement says:
he sadhavah sakalam eva vihaya durat
"O righteous people, bid goodbye to everything from a distance and offer the devotion of your hearts to the feet of Lord Sri Caitanya Mahaprabhu."
Srila Rupa Goswami
Srila Rupa Gosvami appeared in 1489 in Karnataka, South India. He was the younger brother of Srila Sanatana Gosvami.
Forced by various circumstances, Srila Rupa Gosvami and Sanatana Gosvami had to work for the Muslim government of Bengal under Nawab Hussein Shah. Rupa Gosvami was then known by the Muslim name Dabir Khas ("private secretary"). Although he enjoyed great wealth and prestige, he never forgot Lord Sri Krsna. Even before meeting Sri Caitanya Mahaprabhu, Rupa Gosvami had already written several books on Vedic philosophy and was renowned for his learning and devotion.
In 1514, Rupa and Sanatana met Sri Caitanya Mahaprabhu for the first time and were initiated by Him. Rupa left government service and spent ten days hearing from Sri Caitanya Mahaprabhu the philosophy of Krsna consciousness. Sri Caitanya then ordered Rupa Gosvami to go Vrndavana with a fourfold mission: (1) to uncover the lost sites of Lord Krsna's pastimes, (2) to install Deities of the Lord and arrange for Their worship, (3) to write books on Krsna consciousness, and (4) to teach the rules of devotional life.
At first Rupa Gosvami felt great difficulty carrying out the desire of Lord Caitanya. But one day, while Rupa was sitting on the bank of the Yamuna River contemplating his mission, a beautiful boy came to him and asked the cause of his despondency. Rupa Gosvami explained. The boy then led him to a small hill.
"Inside this hill," said the boy, "is the beautiful Deity Govindadeva." He said that the Deity had been buried to protect Him during a Muslim invasion.
The next day Rupa Gosvami led a group of villagers to the site and had them excavate the hill. The Deity Govinda was unearthed. Rupa Gosvami then had a magnificent temple constructed under the patronage of Emperor Akbar and Maharaja Man Singh of Amber, Rajasthan.
Rupa Gosvami fulfilled all four parts of the mission given to him by Lord Caitanya, including writing many books on Krsna consciousness. He passed away in 1564. Devotees pay respects to him by visiting his samadhi, or memorial tomb, in the courtyard of the Radha-Damodara temple in Vrndavana.
Research by Syamasundari Dasi, Girls Vaisnava Academy, Alachua, Florida.
The Essence of Compassion
By Satsvarupa Dasa Goswami
ACCORDING TO The Nectar of Devotion, "A person who is unable to bear another's distress is called compassionate." Whereas generally people are too focused on their own interests to concern themselves with the distress of others, the devotee is focused on Krsna's interests. Because Krsna desires that the conditioned souls be delivered, the devotee dedicates his life to fulfilling that desire. The devotee, therefore, is naturally compassionate.
Srila Prabhupada expressed his compassion through preaching, which is the essence of compassion. And the driving force of preaching is purity. Preaching exists on the strength of the purity of the hearts and minds of the devotees.
And what is purity? Purity means that the devotee has no desire other than to please Krsna. A pure devotee, therefore, preaches to fulfill the desire of Krsna.
In the Srimad-Bhagavatam (7.9.43-44), the great devotee Prahlada Maharaja expresses his spirit of compassion. Addressing Lord Nrsimha, Prahlada prays:
O best of the great personalities, I am not at all afraid of material existence, for wherever I stay I am fully absorbed in thoughts of Your glories and activities. My concern is only for the fools and rascals who are making elaborate plans for material happiness and maintaining their families, societies and countries. I am simply concerned with love for them. ...
Srila Prabhupada honored the mood that Prahlada Maharaja expressed in his prayer: Although devotees are satisfied wherever they are because they always chant the holy name, they still feel a deep concern for the suffering nondevotees. The nondevotees are suffering because they are attached to the illusory world. They think happiness lies in a godless life. Actually, true happiness comes only when we engage in Krsna's service. A compassionate devotee understands this. Tasting his own spiritual happiness, he desires to share that happiness with others.
Prahlada Maharaja's prayer reminds us of Srila Prabhupada's own situation. Before Prabhupada came to America, he was living the life of a saintly person in the holiest place in the universe, Vrndavana, India. He spent his time chanting, praying, translating the Srimad-Bhagavatam, speaking about Krsna, and associating with other devotees. Materialists are rarely interested in Vrndavana—it is a poor town—so the devotees are free to spend their time peacefully bathing in the Yamuna and Radha-kunda, worshiping the many Deities of Krsna, walking around Govardhana Hill, and relishing the special atmosphere of intimacy with Radha and Krsna.
Out of compassion, however, Srila Prabhupada left his peaceful life and came to America. Certainly he was acting on his spiritual master's expression of compassion, which was a reflection of Lord Caitanya's desire that the holy name be spread to every town and village in the world. Still, it was Srila Prabhupada's own great compassion that made him so wonderfully successful.
On his arrival at Commonwealth Pier in Boston on September 17, 1965, Prabhupada wrote a prayer to Krsna.
My dear Lord Krsna, You are so kind upon this useless soul, but I do not know why You have brought me here. Now You can do whatever You like with me.
Lord Caitanya's benediction on us in this age is that we can awaken our dormant love of God simply by chanting the holy name of Krsna. Other forms of spiritual practice require much gradual and painstaking purification, which people in this age don't have time for. People today are short-lived, unfortunate, and always distracted and disturbed. Srila Prabhupada at once saw this on his arrival in the West.
Still, Prabhupada was determined and compassionate. He had met many obstacles—Indian bureaucracy, two heart attacks at sea, no money, no friends—but he had remained dependent on guru and Krsna. He wrote in his poem:
"Therefore, if You desire their deliverance, then only will they be able to understand Your message. ...
"O Lord, I am just a puppet in Your hands, so if You have brought me here to dance, then make me dance, make me dance, O Lord, make me dance as You like."
Satsvarupa Dasa Goswami travels extensively to speak and write about Krsna consciousness. He is the author of many books, including a six-volume biography of Srila Prabhupada.
Prabhupada's Kitchen Demeanor
By Yamuna Devi
ANY DEVOTEE who has worked in a bustling kitchen for a temple or restaurant knows how turbulent the atmosphere can be. Work hours often exceed stamina levels, and the heat of the stoves can make passions flare. Home kitchens, though often considered the heart of the home, are often no less turbulent. To walk into a kitchen and find a sense of peace or calm is rare. But that is the quality Srila Prabhupada brought into every kitchen I saw him enter.
Peace in the Kitchen
My first chance to be with Prabhupada in the kitchen came during the fall of 1966. I was his only assistant while he prepared the first wedding feast in ISKCON. While Prabhupada single-handedly made a lavish eighteen-course feast in his narrow galley kitchen, just outside it I was given the solitary and stationary task of shaping aloo kacauris—deep-fried potato-stuffed flaky pastries. As I watched him for more than six hours, I noted his organization and impeccable cleanliness. His flow of activity was efficient and graceful, and save for his instructions to me, his attention was focused solely on his work. He performed a number of tasks by hand, without the help, or hindrance, of many tools or gadgets. He measured each spice in his left palm. He hand-kneaded dough, hand-whisked legume bada batter, and hand-brayed fresh panir cheese—all with lightning speed. Despite his doing many things at once, the mood purling from his kitchen was one of peace and calm. Even as a newcomer I somehow sensed he was both cooking and meditating, and later I understood that he was fully absorbed in this art solely for the pleasure of his spiritual master and the Lord. Off and on for the next ten years, until my last kitchen exchange with him in Vrndavana in the fall of 1976, he taught me many things, revealing layer upon layer of his peaceful kitchen composure.
Perhaps simply hearing of Prabhupada's mood in the kitchen might inspire you to elevate the mood of your own kitchen. The open secret to a peaceful atmosphere in the kitchen is pure consciousness of the Lord, or Krsna consciousness. Your level of attachment and appreciation for Krsna consciousness will affect the atmosphere of your kitchen.
Here are some practical things you can do to improve your kitchen:
• Take stock of cleanliness and organization, and improve standards.
• As far as possible, move other people and their activities to the periphery of your work area.
• Try to work in silence or with some transcendental sound playing in the background.
• Focus on what you are doing. That will help you become more expert, so you'll be able to do more things at once and make better use of your time.
Very soon you and those around you will benefit from your endeavors, because cooking in a pleasing, Krsna conscious atmosphere will improve the quality of your offering to the Lord.
Kacauris and Samosas
The stuffed pastries known as kacauris and samosas are relished as temple prasadam or made at home and eaten round the clock. In different regions of India they are differently named, depending on the shape, the stuffing, the seasonings, and the local method of pastry-making. The frying medium also changes from kitchen to kitchen, some kitchens classically using ghee and others different types of oil.
Kacauris are flaky round pastries, from ¼ to ½ inch thick, filled with spicy pastes of mashed peas, potatoes, root vegetables, dried fruits, or ground dals. Samosas are triangular, half-moon, or log-shaped pastries, amply stuffed with fillings such as coarsely mashed potatoes, cauliflower, or mixed vegetables. I have also stuffed them with corn and peppers, cheese and spinach, and numerous other succulent vegetable blends.
From childhood Srila Prabhupada loved kacauris. One of his affectionate childhood names in Calcutta was Kacauri Mukhi ("Kacauri Face"), and he was known to collect as many kacauris as he could hold in his small hands. He also kept as many as he could in his multi-pocketed vest to distribute to his young friends. In his youth he learned to cook kacauris by watching his mother and his maternal aunt (who was famous in the family for her wonderful savories and pastries fried in mustard oil). He also watched professional pastry chefs.
If you are following this cooking class, carefully read the section entitled Deep-Fried Savory Stuffed Pastries in the class textbook, Lord Krishna's Cuisine.
There are different ways to make pastry doughs, stuff them, and cook the pastries. When you've mastered any one of these ways, kacauris can be a culinary tour de force. But kacauris are the most difficult of all pastries to master. So for cooking students they're often culinary Waterloos. To fry a pastry for over fifteen minutes without making it a soggy oil-soaked disc is a challenge. You have to do each part of the process well to get outstanding results.
The textbook instructions should carry you through to good results. All you need to add are practice and determination.
When you feel you have clearly grasped what is to be done, make some fresh ghee and prepare at least two kinds of both kacauris and samosas. Newcomers might want to try the baked samosa recipe on page 21 and move on to deep-fried pastries on the next try.
The baked samosa is not a classic samosa, but it disappears from serving trays every bit as fast as the originals. And baked samosas don't require a wok of fresh ghee. The pastry dough is easy to make and handle and bakes up mouthwateringly flaky and delicious. I have added both lemon zest (the outer oily portion of the lemon skin) and pure lemon oil to make a crust with a hint of lemon flavor. You may leave them out if you prefer a plain, buttery-flavored crust. Or to flavor plain dough you may add any of the following: ½ tablespoon of minced, seeded jalapeno chili, or 3 tablespoons of minced cilantro, sun-dried tomatoes, or oil-cured olives. They are all delicious. For added flavor, serve samosas with a thinnish Tamarind Chutney from the class textbook.
Yamuna Devi is the author of the award-winning cookbooks Lord Krishna's Cuisine: The Art of Indian Vegetarian Cooking and Yamuna's Table. She is a regular contributor to The Washington Post and Vegetarian Times. Write to her in care of BTG.
Baked Potato Samosa
(makes 24 samosas)
1 1/3 cups unbleached flour
2 teaspoons cold-pressed peanut oil
For the pastry:
Combine all the pastry ingredients in a food-processor bowl and process until the dough forms a ball (usually less than a minute). Form the dough into 2 smooth patties, wrap them separately in plastic film, and refrigerate. (The dough can be made 1 or 2 days ahead of use.)
For the stuffing:
Warm the oil in a skillet over moderate heat. Drop in the ajwain or cumin seeds and the red pepper flakes and fry them until they darken a few shades. Add the curry powder, sugar, and lemon juice, cook about 10 seconds, and add the potatoes and peanuts. Mash the potatoes to blend in the seasonings. Fry them for 2 or 3 minutes. Remove the pan from the heat, add the cilantro, season with salt and pepper, and mix well. Divide the potatoes into 24 even-sized portions. Press the portions into logs about 2 inches long.
To shape the samosas:
On a lightly floured surface, roll one portion of pastry into an oblong roughly 10 ´ 13 inches. Trim to 9 ½ ´ 12 ½ inches. Brush off the excess flour and cut 3 times crosswise and 4 times lengthwise to yield twelve 3-inch squares.
To make each pastry:
Brush the edges of a pastry square with water. Place a portion of potatoes along one edge and roll up into a log shape. Press each seam firmly to seal. Place the log, seam side down, on non-stick baking trays. Repeat the process to shape the remaining 23 pieces.
Preheat the oven to 375 degrees F (190 degrees C). Bake the samosas until crisp, lightly browned, and slightly puffed (about 25 minutes). Offer to Krsna warm or at room temperature. (Samosas freeze well, unbaked or partially baked, ready to finish cooking when needed.)
Centennial Reflection Moment
There are innumerable ways for each of us to relish remembering Srila Prabhupada this year. Whether you do it on your own, in small groups, or in big gatherings, hear, chant, remember, glorify, and worship Prabhupada's words, pastimes, and instructions. Some fortunate souls can instantly recall exact words spoken by Srila Prabhupada, some can recall verbatim something they have read or been told about him, while others can learn of him through films, photos, or videos. No matter what your ability or situation, take advantage of this auspicious year to intensify your awareness of Srila Prabhupada. That will benefit us all immeasurably.
Bhakti-yoga at Home
The Yoga of Love
By Rohininandana Dasa
ONE WET EVENING in 1972, when I was first learning about Krsna consciousness, I sat in a tent leafing through Srila Prabhupada's Bhagavad-gita As It Is. Occasionally I looked out gloomily through the rain to see the dim outline of the Pyrenees Mountains surrounding the little green valley in which I was marooned. The rain had fallen steadily for two days without sign of letting up. Even my sleeping bag was wet.
My romantic idea of practicing yoga in the mountains was fast proving to be a dream only. All I could think of was dry clothes and a hot meal. Still, I had my Bhagavad-gita, and I continued turning the pages.
Something caught my attention: "The culmination of all kinds of yoga practices lies in bhakti-yoga. All other yogas are but means to come to the point of bhakti-yoga. Yoga actually means bhakti-yoga, and all other yogas are progressions toward the destination of bhakti-yoga." (Bg. 6.47, purport).
"Of course," I thought. "Since the word yoga means to connect with the Supreme, the binding link of that connection must be bhakti."
Following Srila Prabhupada's line of thought, I understood that when a jnani absorbed in empirically contemplating the distinction between truth and illusion comes to the point of understanding and accepting that the Supreme Truth is Krsna, he then becomes a yogi. Similarly, when a karmi busy working for material rewards comes to the point of feelingly offering the results of his work to Krsna, he also becomes a yogi.
Prabhupada made it all so simple: karma + bhakti = karma-yoga; jnana + bhakti = jnana-yoga.
I finally understood that yoga simply means to act for Krsna's pleasure. Either I could sit in my cold tent thinking, "I have no desires, I own nothing, I am nothing," while secretly clinging to my world, in which I was the central character, or else I could agree, "Yes, Krsna is the enjoyer, the Lord, and my dear friend." I felt a surge of happiness to think that perhaps I was not alone. With a light heart I lay down in my sleeping bag listening to the steady downpour pelting against the canvas and further soaking the sodden valley.
Dawn came slowly and miserably. I was cold. I was so conscious of my painful body that a long time passed before I could bring myself to continue my reading and contemplation. I could see no end to the rain, which after three days seemed to seep into my bones. There was no question of packing up and trudging off. All I could feel enthusiastic about was cooking a hot meal with my diminishing supplies.
As the pan heated on the camping stove ("Krsna's stove," I remembered), with numb fingers I again opened up the Gita. This time it was Chapter Nine, text twenty-six: "If one offers Me with love and devotion a leaf, a flower, fruit, or water, I will accept it."
In the purport Srila Prabhupada explains that there is a very simple process for achieving perfection: offering Lord Krsna our loving service and "nothing more."
"This is wonderful!" I thought. "But wait a minute. Although Prabhupada says 'the process is very easy,' he also says that the only qualification required is to be a pure devotee who loves Krsna. But I don't love Krsna. I barely know anything about Him. Basically I just love myself (and I'm not even sure about that), so how can I reach the highest perfection of life in this way? Maybe I should meditate instead."
I had tried meditating, withdrawing my mind from external stimuli. True, I had temporarily felt some peace by my efforts, but I was always faced with the fact that I had to live in a busy world. To go off and live in a cave in the Himalayas, or even a secluded wood nearer home, was beyond me. And even if I could, I might find myself in the same situation—cold, hungry, and staring bleakly at the rain and meditating "Rain, rain, go away,"
I read on: "But preparing nice, simple vegetable dishes, offering them before the picture or Deity of Lord Krsna, and bowing down and praying for Him to accept such an offering enables one to advance steadily in life, to purify the body, and to create fine brain tissues which lead to clear thinking. Above all, the offering should be made with an attitude of love. Krsna has no need of food, since He already possesses everything that be, yet He will accept the offering of one who desires to please Him in that way. The important element, in preparation, in serving, and in offering, is to act with love for Krsna."
"Perhaps I could try it with the soup," I thought. "But still, it's the love bit that stumps me. Surely Krsna won't accept my offering, devoid of love."
But Prabhupada made it sound easy. "Prepare a simple vegetable dish." I could do that. "Bow down and pray to Krsna to accept such a humble offering." I could do that too. Certainly my offering would be humble, even if I wasn't.
"Besides, I've got to start somewhere. Prabhupada's right—the process is easy. Learning the right attitude is the hard part. That might take a long time. Still, with Krsna's help anything's possible."
I followed Srila Prabhupada's directions and bowed down. "Krsna, please accept this. Hare Krsna." I felt foolish, not knowing what to say, but deeper than my sense of foolishness was a laughing happiness rising within my heart. Yes, I had done the right thing. Lord Krsna and Prabhupada told me to do it, and I'd done it.
I looked at the soup and began to serve it out. Prabhupada had said serving was also important. I felt he was directing my every move. I was already familiar with the idea of eating in a mood of gratitude to God. But this was different. I had just offered something to the Lord, and now it looked as though He was offering it back. I sipped at the soup.
I knew what taste to expect, because it was a simple vegetable soup. But besides the expected taste, a wonderful thrill began from my mouth down to my stomach—and beyond. My whole being felt electrified. My heart felt it would burst. Something more was going on than a hungry man having breakfast.
I had a sense of what bhakti is about. I was detached from the uncomfortable conditions (I had forgotten all about them), I knew (at least a little) what I was doing and who I was doing if for, and I was absorbed in transcendental thought. Bhakti, the yoga of love, did seem to include all to be gained from other yogas, and much more, because by linking with the Lord and serving Him I could feel His helping hand.
A solitary mystic may gain mastery over some time and space, but unless he awakens love for Krsna, what has he ultimately gained? A little fame, power, or influence. Only bhakti is absolute, because only bhakti links us in a firm embrace with the Absolute Lord.
I gazed at the rain, cheered by the warm sunlight of Krsna consciousness. I no longer felt alone.
Rohininandana Dasa lives in southern England with his wife and their three children. Write to him in care of Back to Godhead.
Saved by the Book
By Navina Nirada Dasah
ONCE IN San Diego a devotee was distributing small books in a parking lot. As he approached one car he saw a young man sitting in the driver's seat. When the devotee knocked on the window, the man shouted, "Look, just leave me alone! Get outta here!"
The devotee went on his way, but then he thought, "This guy's pretty bad off. He needs a book." So the devotee returned and stuck a small book under the windshield wiper.
Later the young man showed up at the San Diego temple and told this story:
"When the devotee saw me, I was very morose. I was frustrated about school and feeling no inspiration in life. My parents had sent me to a psychologist, but he was no help, and I became even more depressed. I thought there must be something wrong with me. I saw how my friends were so enthusiastic about going to school, getting jobs, making money. I concluded that everyone else was okay and I was just messed up, a total failure.
"So I decided to kill myself. I ran a tube from the exhaust pipe through the trunk into my a car, rolled up the windows, and started the engine. I thought this would be a good way to end all my misery and pain.
"The car was filling up with carbon monoxide when someone walked up holding a big stack of books on his arm and knocked on the window. I told him to get lost. I thought he was a crazy fanatic—especially when he came back and put one of his books under my windshield wiper.
"But then I began to get bored and thought, 'Well, what would be the harm if I read something before I die?' So I rolled down the window, reached out, and grabbed the little book. The title looked interesting—Civilization and Transcendence. I started to read.
"In that book I found that Srila Prabhupada directly points out the defects of modern civilization and gives people an alternative, the Krsna conscious way of life.
"Suddenly I realized, 'Hey, I'm not crazy. Everyone else is!'
"So I rolled down the windows, disconnected the tube from my exhaust, and drove home. After reading the book cover to cover, I've come to the temple to become a devotee."
The young man stayed in the temple and became a very nice devotee.
Prabhupada's Books: Crimefighters Extraordinaire
During my last visit to Siberia I heard the following story from the devotees there.
A burglar who belonged to a gang of thieves was in an apartment searching for valuables when he heard a noise at the door. He became scared and started to climb out the window. Frustrated that all his trouble had come to naught, he quickly grabbed whatever was at hand—a book lying on the kitchen table—and then ran off.
When the burglar arrived home and looked at the book, he saw that the title read Bhagavad-gita As It Is. He didn't have the slightest interest in such a book, but since he had stolen it he figured he might as well read it, so he opened it and began.
Soon he was becoming more and more interested in philosophy and spiritual life. He started visiting the local temple and gradually began chanting Hare Krsna. After some time he brought his gang members to the temple and introduced them to Krsna consciousness. Before long they were all regularly visiting the temple to render services like cleaning and driving. When devotees asked them what they did for a living, they simply answered, "God allows everyone to survive."
But there was a problem. The burglar's wife became disturbed to see the great change in his character. He was losing interest in his occupation. She worried about their income. To make matters worse, her father was one of the biggest gangsters in town. Infuriated to find his son-in-law breaking with their tradition of thievery, the father-in-law even threatened to kill him if he didn't stop his spiritual practices, which his father-in-law considered an insult to their great heritage.
So the burglar was caught in a real bind. But one day his wife went to visit some relatives in Moscow, and while shopping in a big marketplace she saw a young man carrying a stack of books. He was walking around without approaching anyone. After he had walked past many people, he went straight up to her, gave her a book, and said, "This is the best book in the world. You should read it, because you'll really like it." The devotee didn't know her and had no idea her husband was already chanting Hare Krsna.
The burglar's wife was intrigued that out of hundreds of people in the marketplace the devotee had come up to her. She bought the book, Teachings of Lord Caitanya. Then she went home and read it cover to cover. Now convinced about the philosophy of Krsna consciousness, she joined forces with her husband and threw her father out of the house.
The couple started to visit the temple together, and soon the man began going out with the devotees to distribute books. As he became more and more keen to do that service, he realized, "Formerly I would walk by so many mansions thinking how I could enter them and steal something. Now I think, 'Let me go to that house and give the occupants Krsna's mercy in the form of Prabhupada's books.' "
Books for Everyone
Vijaya Dasa from the United States was distributing books in Vienna, the capital of Austria. Walking around in the area in front of the Austrian Parliament building, he offered books to many sophisticated and influential people. One middle-aged man, accompanied by a few other people, stopped to look at the Bhagavad-gita.
"This is a classic work from the Sanskrit wisdom," Vijaya told him. "We present this knowledge to people suffering due to ignorance of their own identity."
As they spoke, the man revealed his interest in karma, reincarnation, and ancient wisdom and philosophy. He agreed to buy the book, gave a donation, and left with his group.
Afterwards Vijaya asked some passersby who the man was.
They said, "He's the President."
Navina Nirada Dasa, a disciple of Harikesa Swami, has been one of ISKCON's leading book distributors for many years. He is based at the ISKCON temple in Zurich.
Appreciating Prabhupada's Gifts
By Ravi Gupta
THIRTY YEARS AGO Srila Prabhupada came to America to spread the Krsna consciousness movement. Although he had tried hard in India to interest his countrymen in Lord Caitanya's message, they had mostly ignored him. But in the twelve years that followed Prabhupada's arrival in America, Prabhupada made a great contribution to India and to his countrymen. Many Indians now realize this. I asked several members of our Indian congregation in Boise this question: What is Srila Prabhupada's contribution to you and to the Indian community? Here are their answers.
Sudhir Goyal, a hydrologist, was a dedicated Indian nationalist. He was a member of the RSS (Rashtriya Svayamsevak Sangh) and deeply wanted to spread India's glory. But when he came to know about Srila Prabhupada and his teachings, in Boise, his ideas of nationalism completely changed. He found what he was truly searching for. He says, "Srila Prabhupada gave me true nationalism—not on a political platform but a spiritual one. India is on the top in its spiritual knowledge. This is India's real glory. And it is my duty to distribute that spiritual knowledge to the whole world, as Lord Caitanya instructed. Then I must serve my own country by taking this knowledge back to India. That service was part of Prabhupada's mission."
As Srila Prabhupada said, he did not come to the West to take wealth, technology, or education, as most Indians do, but he came to give his culture to the West. Prabhupada took nothing for himself, yet he gave the world the jewel of Vedic culture. Many times Prabhupada said that what India really has to give the world is her spiritual culture and this is where her real glory lies. So Srila Prabhupada was a true nationalist, because he not only kept to his Vedic culture but distributed it to everyone.
And by translating the Sanskrit scriptures into English, Srila Prabhupada made them accessible to all, says Ravi Iyer, an electronics engineer. "In other temples we did the rituals in Sanskrit, but we did not understand what we were doing."
Seema Raj, a TV journalist, adds, "Without Srila Prabhupada, Krsna would have been in India and remained there, but Prabhupada made Him world famous. Full credit goes to Prabhupada."
But even in India and to Indians, says Sudhir Goyal, Srila Prabhupada gave back the Vedic culture—in a much more pure and coherent form. Sudhir describes his own experience: "Before I knew about Srila Prabhupada, I had hundreds of unanswered questions in my mind, such as the purpose of the caste system, cow worship, 'idol' worship, and so on. Prabhupada gave answers in a much more meaningful and understandable way than I ever knew."
My father, Anantarupa Dasa, had a similar experience. When he first came to the U.S., many people would ask him for the reasons behind what they saw as absurdities in Indian culture. Only when he read Srila Prabhupada's books did my father find logical and convincing answers, free from the confusion of modern Hinduism.
For many Indians, Srila Prabhupada's movement and teachings are a way to come back to their original culture. Manisha Mittal, a physician, describes how, because of Prabhupada's teachings, she and her family "started thinking again about lost values." They became vegetarians again and spent more time worshiping the Lord than they ever did. One of Prabhupada's greatest contributions, she says, was to her children. "Our children knew about Lord Krsna and Lord Rama, but Their lives were just stories. By Prabhupada's mercy, all that changed. Now our children are more proud and aware of who they are and can say it without hesitating."
Sudhir Goyal agrees. "We may have had an inheritance of Vedic culture, but our children, if not for Srila Prabhupada, would have never known about the philosophy and culture." His son Ayush is a good example of what Prabhupada gave the younger generation. Ayush, age seven, has memorized 108 verses of the Bhagavad-gita. He holds programs on Indian culture at his school and is able to talk to his teachers about Krsna conscious philosophy. Several Indians in our congregation come to our center mainly to perpetuate their culture in their children.
Overall, Srila Prabhupada's contribution to Indians and the world was incalculable. As Ramaa Murli says, "He was not an ordinary human being. What he did was beyond human capacity."
And what allowed Srila Prabhupada to do so much? It was his devotion to Lord Krsna and his dedication. He had no selfish motives but simply wanted to serve the Lord.
Mukta Sood, the principal of a local private kindergarten who has been coming to our center since it opened ten years ago, says, "Srila Prabhupada is different from all other gurus. He did not come here to collect big money like other swamis. He wasn't money-minded. With what he did he could have made a fortune for himself. But he was very simple. For himself he just had a few possessions, and he slept just four hours. Yet he came here and started a movement and made so many temples. He did more than a man can do."
Pam Issuree, a public-school teacher, says it well: "In Srila Prabhupada I see a person who is totally spiritual. He epitomizes the spiritual aspect of a person. He is someone who lives nothing but spirituality."
Now, in Srila Prabhupada's centennial year, it is our turn to glorify Srila Prabhupada by giving the whole world what he gave us. How? Give someone a plate of prasadam or a Bhagavad-gita As It Is, or invite people for a kirtana in your home. That will surely please Srila Prabhupada.
Ravi Gupta, age fourteen, lives at the Hare Krsna center in Boise, Idaho. The center is run by his parents. Ravi, who was schooled at home, is a second-year student at Boise State University.
Transcendental Commentary on the Issues of the Day
Madana Mohana Versus Madonna
by Joan DeLisio
AT WORK I'M forced to hear popular lust songs on the radio. As I stand in line at the grocery store, magazine covers with beautiful celebrities do their best to capture my attention. I live in New York City, and even when I stand at a stoplight waiting to cross the street, "adult" magazines on newsstands bombard my eyes. This is the atmosphere we live in.
I was recently listening to a recording of a class in which Srila Prabhupada spoke about Madana, otherwise known as Cupid, the god of sex life. Prabhupada said that Krsna is Madana Mohana, "the one who attracts Cupid." So I couldn't help but remember the famous singer who calls herself Madonna. Why has her fame been so strong? Because she's expert at invoking people's lust. In the material world the lust men and women feel for one another is confused with love. So the more that entertainers can awaken our lust, the more we worship them.
Srila Prabhupada went on: "Our business is not to be attracted by the glimmer of this material world but to be attracted by Krsna. That is the Krsna consciousness movement. Unless we become attracted by the beauty of Krsna, we must be satisfied by the false beauty of the material world."
Prabhupada said that when one is attracted by Krsna, Madana (lust) is defeated, and as soon as Madana is defeated we conquer over the material world. To conquer the material world, Prabhupada said, is very difficult, but if anyone surrenders unto Krsna, catches His lotus feet very strongly, and says, "Krsna, save me!" Krsna promises, "Yes, I'll save you—aham tvam sarva-papebhyo moksayisyami ma sucah. Don't worry. I shall save you."
So the next time you're standing in line at the grocery store and you're tempted to buy a magazine with stories on materialistic people, just call out loudly, "Krsna, save me!" The cashier and the other customers may give you strange looks, but back home you'll be happy to find yourself reading Srila Prabhupada's books or chanting Hare Krsna rather than reading about the icons of a lust-filled world. That's guaranteed by Lord Krsna Himself and all the great spiritual teachers. Hare Krsna.
... And the Pursuit of Happiness
by Datta Dasa
TENSION RAN high in the crowded casino. Earl placed all his money on red and nervously chewed his lower lip. He'd had some luck earlier in the day, and now everything he'd won, along with all he'd managed to borrow from his uncle Hank, rode on this one bet. A win meant he'd make his mortgage payment and keep his house. A loss meant he'd go home in disgrace.
The crowd hushed as the croupier spun the roulette wheel into a blur of red and black. Every eye in the room fixed on the little white ball rapidly circling the wheel.
As the wheel slowed, the ball moved erratically, stopping briefly on a black square, then a red one. As the wheel slowed more, the ball paused longer at each color. Black, then red, then black for nearly a second, then red again.
The croupier's unseen hand curled under the edge of the table toward a hidden switch. The ball came to rest on red.
Earl felt an incredible thrill in his heart and a pleasant lightness in his head.
The croupier discreetly pushed the hidden button again. A small solenoid under the table silently bumped the wheel just enough to free the ball one last time. This time it landed on black.
Earl turned away from the table with tears in his eyes. "I was so close!"
Like this fictional example, the game of trying to find lasting happiness in the material world is rigged. One of four things always happens when we plan for happiness on the material level.
The first is that we make our plan, carry it out, and achieve our goal—only to learn the goal doesn't make us happy. The new car we thought would make us feel so good turns out to be an expensive pain in the neck. The movie we went to see was a drag, after all. We found that perfect mate—the man or woman of our dreams—but we're suffering more now than when single.
The second thing that can happen is that although we work hard to achieve a goal we believe will make us happy, we just can't get it. We're never able to set aside enough money for that dream house by the lake. Or success as a professional musician eludes us. Maybe we just miss a position on the board of directors or just can't get a date with that beautiful model down the street.
The third thing that can happen is that what once made us happy no longer does. Going out boating the first ten or twenty times may have been fun, but then it became a little old. We've become tired of roller-blading. The first thousand hours of video games were fun, but now the very sight of a color monitor feels repulsive.
The fourth thing is the catch-all. If somehow or other we manage to slip past one, two, and three, number four will be waiting: We find some happiness, but then we lose it. The girl of our dreams runs off with the plumber. We get fired from the perfect job. Our new toy breaks. Someone steals our jet ski the day after the insurance runs out.
The material world is full of change and upheaval. We may get some brief pleasure, but it can't last. Even if we miraculously find something that gives us some happiness our entire lives, we are forced to give it up at death.
Does that sound pessimistic? Would it be pessimistic to say you can't buy a sandwich in a hardware store? You can't find something that isn't there in the first place. You could say, "Enjoy whatever you can, and when it's over you can still enjoy the memories." But if memories are so enjoyable and satisfying, why do people have to keep searching for more material activities to become happy?
True happiness exists only on the spiritual platform. By nature we are sat, cit, and ananda: eternally full of knowledge and happiness. So our desire for happiness is natural, and because we're eternal we want eternal happiness. We just have to remember not to look in the wrong place. We have to look for spiritual pleasure, which is endless, limitless, and totally satisfying.
Spiritual happiness comes to us when we're on the spiritual platform. The bodies we have now will one day cease to function. But the soul—our real self—never dies. Each of us has an everlasting loving relationship with God, Krsna. We've all forgotten that relationship to one degree or another. Rediscovering it can make us happy and satisfied for endless time.
This year, ISKCON's annual festival in honor of the appearance of Sri Caitanya Mahaprabhu was the largest international gathering of Srila Prabhupada's followers ever.
By Prasanta Devi Dasi
LET'S GO BACK SOME four hundred years, to about thirty years after Lord Sri Caitanya Mahaprabhu had ended His pastimes on earth. The first Gaura Purnima Festival, honoring the anniversary of Lord Caitanya's appearance, was taking place in Kheturi-gram, now located in Bangladesh. The organizers of the festival, the great acarya, or spiritual teacher, Narottama Dasa Thakura and his cousin Santosh Datta had sent messengers in all directions with invitations. The most important Krsna conscious leaders throughout India, direct associates of Sri Caitanya Mahaprabhu, and devotees of Lord Caitanya from the generation after Him responded to the invitations. Traveling from their towns and villages by foot, palanquins, or bullock carts, these devotees in turn invited everyone they met to come along, so thousands came to attend the festival.
Narottama and his cousin bore the entire expense of the festival. They built a beautiful temple, a large storehouse for food, an elaborate kirtana hall, a bathing pond, a colorful flower garden, a residential building for devotees, and guest houses for other visitors.
The most respected Vaisnava at that time, Sri Jahnava Mata, who had been the wife of Lord Caitanya's associate Sri Nityananda Prabhu, presided over the festival.
On Gaura Purnima day, Narottama unveiled five sets of Radha-Krsna Deities, which Srinivasa Acarya then installed. Expert kirtaniyas (singers) glorified the Lord, while dancers and actors performed intricate classical dances and dramas. The whole of Kheturi-gram roared with the holy name of the Lord.
After the installation ceremony, Narottama Dasa Thakura, the embodiment of Lord Nityananda's ecstasy and of Lord Caitanya's teachings, began to lead a moving kirtana in his own style. He and the countless waves of dancing devotees looked like the full moon and the unlimited stars in the sky.
Just as the kirtana was reaching its peak, Lord Caitanya and His associates miraculously appeared in their eternal spiritual forms in front of the thousands of assembled devotees. Filled with the unlimited ecstasy of transcendental love, the devotees all danced more and more, completely loosing themselves in the kirtana.
Now let's return to 1996. Last February and March, members of the Hare Krsna movement from all over the world, faithfully following in the footsteps of Srila Narottama Dasa Thakura and his associates, once again gathered in India to celebrate the appearance of Lord Caitanya. The event, however, was not a regular Gaura Purnima Festival. It was the Hare Krsna World Convention—one of the major events marking the worldwide celebration of the Srila Prabhupada Centennial. The photos on these pages give you a glimpse of what turned out to be the largest international ISKCON festival ever, with more than two thousand devotees attending programs in Mayapur, Calcutta, Allahabad, Delhi, and Vrndavana.
The British government decides:
By Bhakta Pradip Gajjar
After a ten-year struggle, ISKCON has secured the right for all devotees to worship and attend festivals at Bhaktivedanta Manor, the Hare Krsna center outside London. The British government has overturned a local government order to close the gates. ISKCON has won the go-ahead for a new access road, and with the new road the temple can stay open for all.
SET IN SEVENTEEN ACRES of gardens and pastures, Bhaktivedanta Manor is the most important shrine for the devotees of Lord Krsna in Great Britain. George Harrison of the Beatles donated the Manor to the Hare Krsna movement in 1973, and that same year Srila Prabhupada installed the Deities Sri Sri Radha-Gokulananda.
Srila Prabhupada had a vision for Bhaktivedanta Manor. He wanted to bring forth the spiritual atmosphere of Vrndavana, Lord Krsna's supreme abode, with a community of devotees dedicated to serving Krsna. He wanted Bhaktivedanta Manor to be an ideal place for Krsna consciousness.
The Hindu community in North London accepted the Manor as their local temple. They admired the high standard of worship. They were impressed at how devotees were keeping to the traditional practices of sanatana-dharma, the eternal culture of Vedic spiritual life. People respected Srila Prabhupada and his work and felt grateful that the Manor was meeting their spiritual needs.
But some of the Manor's neighbors were unhappy about the large numbers of pilgrims the Manor began to draw. Here is what happened.
• 1973. The Council for the Borough of Hertsmere, the local government authority, grants the Manor the right to operate as a theological college. Srila Prabhupada sets up a Krsna conscious college, with a shrine. Traditionally such a shrine is always open to the public.
• 1981. As the Manor grows in popularity, Hertsmere Council clamps down and bans all festivals. The Council later withdraws the ban and signs a compromise: The devotees agree to hold only six large festivals a year, and the Manor can stay open.
• 1985. A new wave of complaints. When two devotees buy property in the local village, a local councillor (his grandfather had owned the Manor) leads fourteen villagers in a campaign against "a takeover by outsiders." The Manor is "too popular," it draws "too much traffic" and "too many Hindus." The Council hires a count of devotees visiting the Manor—with separate counts for "coloured" and "white."
• 1986. The Council tries—but fails—to get a High Court order to stop people from coming to the Manor on Sundays.
• 1987. On its own, the Council throws out the agreement allowing six festivals a year and issues an "enforcement notice" to shut out the public entirely.
• 1988. The Council offers planning permission for a temple at another site. But when an application is handed in, the Council turns it down.
• 1988. Devotees appeal the enforcement notice to the Department of the Environment.
• 1989. The "Save the Manor" movement swells. Supporters hold protests, petition the government, and seek help from political leaders. The Hindu community rallies to the cause.
• 1989. Seven thousand people join cricket star Sunil Gavaskar and actor Rishi Kapoor in a "sponsored walk." Each step is a prayer: "Keep our temple open for worship." The walk raises £100,000 for legal expenses—and becomes the largest Hare Krsna chanting party ever to come together outside India.
• 1990. The Secretary of State denies the appeal.
• 1991. More disappointments. A Manor appeal is turned down by the High Court. A Court of Appeal says no. The European Court of Human Rights says its hands are tied: "British planning laws." Political help fails. Every legal channel is exhausted. On March 16, 1994, the temple is scheduled to close.
A New Direction
We sat watching Srila Prabhupada's desire for Bhaktivedanta Manor slipping from our hands. We intensified our prayers and told the community, "We have lost many battles, but still the gates of the temple are open for you. Surely Lord Krsna won't refuse His devotee's desire."
We daily recited a prayer: "Dear Lord, if You so desire, for the pleasure of Your pure devotee, Srila Prabhupada, please keep Bhaktivedanta Manor open for all Your devotees."
In 1987 we had thought about building a new road to give access to the temple without going through the village—but the land for the road had been unavailable. Now we decided to try again.
Just months before the temple was to close, the land suddenly came within reach. We quickly raised £300,000 and bought it. Here was a way to meet the villagers' concerns but still keep the Manor open: We applied to the Council for permission to build the road.
By now the Manor had become a national, even international, issue. More than one hundred Members of Parliament joined the list of supporters. Letters for saving the Manor poured into the British government from around the nation, and abroad.
But time was running out. March 16 was only months away—and the Council kept our application in their pocket.
On Wednesday, March 16, 1994, the enforcement notice took effect. Now the temple was legally bound to stop public worship. On that day, 36,000 people, from all over England, marched in central London to protest: "Today we are banned from worship—shame on the British government. We shall defy this ban! We shall protect our temple from closure, protect dharma from attack."
Akhandadhi Dasa, president of the Manor, announced good news: "The Council has bowed to you. They are feeling the pressure." The Council had granted that while the application was pending, the temple gates could stay open. Akhandadhi said, "The tide is turning."
One Step from Victory
Our planning application was sound. Even the Council's own planning experts said so. Our new road would preserve and enhance the environment and keep temple traffic from entering the village.
But what the experts for the Council recommended, the politicians on the Council refused. They rejected our application. The Council was adamant: No worship at Bhaktivedanta Manor! No Hindu temple in the village!
As 1995 began, we appealed again to the Department of the Environment. The ensuing Public Inquiry stretched on for six months. Now many community leaders, religious leaders—and even many local villagers—spoke out in our favor.
Martin Palmer of the International Consultancy on Religion, Education and Culture: "The Manor has become one of the most important pilgrimage centres of any faith in the UK."
Kishore Ruperalia, Secretary of the Vishva Hindu Parishad (World Hindu Society): "Hundreds of Hindu youths in the UK have taken to a pious and clean life as a result of the teachings and guidance they received from Bhaktivedanta Manor."
Reverend Christopher Lamb, representing the Church of England: "Some way of allowing the worship to continue must be found."
The Manor Is Saved
Though still banned, worshipers continued to visit the temple. For allowing them in for the Janmastami festival—Lord Krsna's birthday—in 1994, the temple was prosecuted. It thus became the first religious community in the last three hundred years to be prosecuted in England for observing worship. The result: an unprecedented fine of £37,000.
Then suddenly the Department of the Environment announced its decision: thumbs up on our proposal.
The Secretary of State wrote in his decision that the Manor "is unique in the UK because there is no comparable alternative place for teaching, worship, and meditation." The Manor, he said, "is by tradition and association an important place—the home to a very special shrine and Deities of the highest significance to the followers of Krishna consciousness..."
The Secretary noted, "The close association of the Hare Krishna movement's founder with the Manor makes it a special if not unique place. ... That association must continue."
On the first Sunday after the decision, hundreds of devotees and pilgrims came to offer their thanks to Lord Krsna. People cried, cheered, clapped, and bowed their heads before the Deities.
The "Save the Manor" campaign has enlarged the fame—and the extent—of Bhaktivedanta Manor. What was once a temple dear to the people of North London has now become dear to devotees all over the country, and all over the world. And what started as an estate of seventeen acres has now become seventy.
Who knew this would be the outcome of a battle that so nearly ended the mission of Bhaktivedanta Manor? Undoubtedly this has come about because of Lord Krsna's desire to fulfill the desire of Srila Prabhupada. As Srila Prabhupada's servants, we pray to become instruments in Krsna's inconceivable plan.
Bhakta Pradip Gajjar was among the main organizers of the "Save the Manor" campaign.
The Team Behind the Victory
Akhandadhi Dasa, who joined the Manor in 1975, carried the weight of the campaign to keep the Manor open. He expertly managed the legal affairs, many times outwitting opposing lawyers. As temple president, he ensured that at every stage Srila Prabhupada's dreams and the work of Bhaktivedanta Manor were shown rightly. When people recall the campaign they will recall Akhandadhi's moving and uplifting words of encouragement to the community.
Naresh Chadha, the Chairman of the Hare Krishna Temple Defence Movement, spread the message of the campaign throughout the Indian community. He helped organize public gatherings and demonstrations, bringing people together from all parts of the country. And he was a spearhead for the historic gathering of 36,000 on March 16, 1994.
From the day in 1986 when he heard that Bhaktivedanta Manor was suffering injustice, Frank Ward, a Labour councillor at Hertsmere, worked with the Manor campaign. He persuaded his Labour colleagues at Hertsmere to support the temple. And they had pledged to safeguard public worship at the Manor if appeals to the government failed. In the last ten years he took the campaign to Nepal, India, and South Africa. He has become a good friend of all the devotees—and a lover of Krsna prasadam, the food first offered to Lord Krsna. Devotees have nicknamed him Arjuna Dasa, after the famed upholder of religion.
A Note Of Thanks
On behalf of the devotees of Bhaktivedanta Manor, special thanks to:
Sivarama Swami, ISKCON's Governing Body Commissioner for the U.K.
The devotees of the Bhaktivedanta Manor Foundation, headed by Pranabandhu Dasa and Sruti Dharma Dasa
The Council of Patrons of Bhaktivedanta Manor
The members of the Hare Krishna Temple Defence Movement
Kishore Ruperalia, Secretary of the Vishva Hindu Parishad
C. B. Patel, Editor of Gujarat Samachar
O. P. Sharma, President of the National Council of Hindu Temples
Shantoo Ruparell, of Singh & Ruparell Solicitors (instructing solicitors for the campaign)
The members of the spirited youth group Pandava Sena
The public relations team: Atmanivedana Swami, Bimal Krsna Dasa, and Bhagavat Dharma Dasa
We would also like to thank the community of devotees worldwide, our friends and well-wishers, and all who have supported this campaign by writing letters, signing petitions, and offering sincere prayers for Bhaktivedanta Manor.
The Highest Pleasure In A Rascal Culture
This exchange between His Divine Grace A.C. Bhaktivedanta Swami Prabhupada and some of his disciples took place on October 18, 1975, during a morning walk in Johannesburg, South Africa.
Disciple: Srila Prabhupada, people sometimes criticize by saying, "Your Vedic culture was most solidly established in India. And India is now considered relatively poor and unfortunate. So why should we respect the Vedic culture?"
Srila Prabhupada: The thing is, when you Westerners went to India you curbed down the original Vedic culture. The people in India could not take to your rascal Western culture, and thanks to you they have lost their own culture. This is India's bad luck. The British did not teach them how to actually take up the Western culture, but they killed the Eastern culture. You understand?
Srila Prabhupada: Now India has no position. She cannot take to the Western culture fully, and she has lost her own culture. This is India's bad luck. The British never taught Indians how to become actually Westernized. No. They did not give them sufficient education. Especially in the beginning, the British were against giving the Indians higher education. They wanted some clerks to conduct their affairs—some third-class, fourth-class men for their mercantile and government bureaucracies.
"Educated" meant ABCD. That's all. "Let the Indians know ABCD, then take fifty, sixty rupees' salary, go home to their little neighborhoods outside the city and return the next day on the train. Let them work hard in our city and get just enough money to maintain themselves."
Nothing more. No money, no education, no real knowledge of industry. The Indian people were not taught properly. In America, for instance, I see the factories, and the arrangement is so nice. But go to those Indian factories—it is hell. Hell. Simply hell. The Britishers exploited the Indians, and the mercantile class of India—they have learned simply how to exploit.
Disciple: Exploit their own people.
Srila Prabhupada: That's all. Formerly, the Manchester people were exploiting the Indians. And now the Ahmedabad people—they have learned how to exploit. And the government is satisfied, because the exploiters pay taxes: "Never mind. The workers may go on suffering." This is going on. And the Indian people have lost their own culture. They have been taught how to drink alcohol, how to eat flesh.
Aside from all this, Indians cannot work as hard as Westerners. The hot climate does not allow it. India's climate is good for living peacefully, not working so hard, and instead engaging the brain in spiritual advancement. That is India's gift. Her people are not meant for hard work.
Actually, hard work is not required for anyone. This is animal civilization—simply to work very hard. If a man works hard like an animal, then what is the difference between the man and an animal? Here in the Western countries the climate is more suitable for heavy industry, and as one would expect, the people are being taught to work very hard like animals, and they do that. Therefore, materially they have become so-called advanced, to the point that spiritually they are committing suicide. Is it not?
Disciple: This is true.
Srila Prabhupada: Materially advanced, spiritually suicidal. Am I right or wrong?
Disciple: Right, Srila Prabhupada. Another dimension also comes to mind. In your commentary on Srimad-Bhagavatam you write that if people want to increase their material advancement, then they should also increase their sex lives.
Srila Prabhupada: Yes. Without sex one cannot be materially enthusiastic. And if you stop sex, then you become spiritually advanced. This is the secret. If you stop sex, then you will become spiritually advanced, and if you indulge in sex, then you will become materially enthusiastic. That is the difference between Western and Eastern culture. The whole Eastern culture is based on stopping sex, and here in the Western countries on how to increase sex. The people here are eating meat, eggs, drinking wine. These things increase sex desire. And as soon as you get a very satisfactory sex life, you become enthusiastic to work hard. Therefore for karmis, or those seeking material advancement, marriage is necessary, because without sex they cannot work. And for those seeking spiritual advancement, sex is prohibited.
Actually, in this Western culture, people do not know the science of life. For them, "life" means this body. Their life is this body. That means they do not know what life is. After all, when the living person has gone, the body they thought he was is lying there. They are very proud of their scientific advancement, but in reality do they know who the person was? They cannot explain. This is their ignorance. And yet they are very proud of their advancement.
But once this person's life span has come to an end, can they bring him back to life? That they cannot do. That means the whole basic principle of their so-called culture is ignorance. Mudho 'yam nabhijanati: Krsna says, "Fools and rascals can never understand the soul or the Supreme Soul." And moghasa mogha-karmano mogha-jnana vicetasah: "Their material cleverness—their so-called knowledge—leaves them spiritually baffled." Why? Raksasim asurim caiva prakrtim mohinim sritah: "Those who take shelter not of My divine nature but of prakrti, the material nature, become so bewildered that they do not know life's real aim." Moghasa: "They are utterly baffled." And therefore, mogha-karmano: "Whatever they are doing—that will be useless." Again, mogha-jnana: in this so-called advanced culture, there is no spiritual knowledge. So actually there is no knowledge.
Disciple: So with their advancement of knowledge they are increasing their sex lives, but if they were really advanced in knowledge, they would be decreasing their sex lives.
Srila Prabhupada: Yes. They do not even know what knowledge is. To these fools and rascals, knowledge means sex. That is their knowledge. Advancement of knowledge means how to enjoy sex. How to take shelter of abortion—child killing. And how to perfect their contraceptive method. The whole thing is on the basis of sex. That's all. They do not know anything except these things. They know that after sex there is so much botheration. But they cannot give sex up. Therefore, they make all these arrangements: take contraceptives, or kill the child.
That means their whole so-called civilization, their whole culture, is based on sex. That's all. But yan maithunadi-grhamedhi-sukham hi tuccham/ kanduyanena karayor iva duhkha duhkham: "Sex is like the rubbing of two hands to relieve an itch. Those with no spiritual knowledge consider this itching the greatest happiness, although actually, from start to finish, the whole business is distress—and it is most abominable."
Is that pleasure? These supposedly advanced rascals think it is pleasure to unite the urine-passing parts. [Laughter.] And we have to believe this is pleasure—a standard of pleasure utterly third-class, fourth-class. Yan maithunadi-grhamedhi-sukham hi tuccham. Very abominable. Tuccham: the Vedic literature says, "Sex is most abominable." And yet these fools take it as the highest goal, and they make all sorts of elaborate arrangements for this abominable pleasure.
When dogs have sex, everyone knows that their whole "enjoyment" is abominable and insignificant. Therefore, dogs are allowed to do it on the street. And people can see it. Is that a very nice scene? Yet when the same abominable and insignificant thing is done by the human beings, they are taking it that "This is the highest." This is the basic principle of their happiness. That's all. Mohinim—captivation by the opposite sex.
And this is real captivation. For instance, nature has already made women's faces, breasts, and hips beautiful, their singing and talking and walking all very attractive. And now, thanks to this rascal culture, the women are walking around virtually naked. This is going on. The whole thing is based on sex, and that is tuccham, most abominable. Prakrtim mohinim sritah: people are being taught to take shelter of the material nature's potency for bewilderment.
It will take them three hundred births to understand that sex pleasure is actually abominable. Therefore, in Bhagavad-gita Krsna says, bahunam janmanam ante: "A rascal gains the wisdom to surrender to Me only after many, many births." Not that immediately, simply by hearing our Gita lecture, people will give this abominable pleasure up. It will take many, many births to understand.
The Four-Year Campaign Was Worth It
By Lokanath Swami
WE ARE HALFWAY through the Centennial year, and much has happened to increase consciousness of Srila Prabhupada and bring him and his teachings to the notice of the world. Still, there is much more to happen this year, including Prabhupada's Maha Vyasa-puja (Appearance Day celebration), Feed the World Day, World Enlightenment Day, and a series of events in India around the month of Kartika (October-November).
Centennial celebrations are thriving in many parts of the world. While reading a report sent to me by Srutakirti Dasa, the temple president of ISKCON Durban, I felt that the Centennial team's four years of planning and hard work had been worth the effort. In his report, written in April, Srutakirti told of upcoming Centennial events in Durban and South Africa:
Subscribe now! The publication will continue until April 1997. Subscriptions: 4 issues, US$10. Bulk Orders: 50 copies, US$56 (postage not included). Send payment by international check, payable to ISKCON, to Bhaktin Arati, 62 Sant Nagar, New Delhi 110065, India.
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Sahasra Tirtha Jala video, poster, and presentation folder, Centennial T-shirts, pens, badges, posters, bags, photo frames, key chains, etc.
Centennial Master Plan
Harinama Manual (by Indradyumna Swami)
Food For Life Manual
ISKCON Incorporation Day: August 7
Prabhupada's Maha Vyasa-puja: September 6
Feed the World Day: November 23
World Enlightenment Day: December 14
Maha Vyasa-puja: September 6
World Congress for the Synthesis of Science and Religion: January 6-12, 1997
VIHE Courses: October
Vraja Mandala Parikrama: October 6-November 6
Grand Opening of Prabhupada's Samadhi: November 14
Opening of Temple: November 12
Opening of Temple: November 16
Opening of Temple: November 20
Awards Ceremony & Inauguration of The Centennial Memorial: March 22, 1997
News and Events
On June 2-8, more than one hundred ISKCON centers worldwide took part in Padayatra Week. As with previous Padayatras ("walking festivals"), Padayatra Week generated much media coverage. Thousands of temple devotees and congregation members walked under the banner "Walk for a Change," promoting a change of consciousness from material to spiritual.
Padayatra Week also introduced Padayatra to new countries, thus helping to realize a special achievement for the pleasure of Srila Prabhupada—Padayatra in one hundred countries by the end of 1996.
More centers will hold Padayatra Week later in the year.
World Holy Name Day
On June 9, the sound of Hare Krsna, Hare Krsna, Krsna Krsna, Hare Hare/ Hare Rama, Hare Rama, Rama Rama, Hare Hare vibrated around the planet as never before, when thousands of devotees chanted and glorified the holy name and Hare Krsna radio stations broadcast the maha-mantra continuously for twenty-four hours. In South Africa, Bhakti Bhrnga Govinda Swami led fifteen thousand people chanting through the streets of Durban. Meanwhile, in some cities around the world devotees sponsored interfaith gatherings focused on the universality of chanting the holy names of God.
New York Festival
On June 5-17, five hundred devotees assembled in New York City, birth city of ISKCON, for a pilgrimage commemorating thirty years of Krsna consciousness in the Western world. Devotees chanted in Tompkins Square Park, where Srila Prabhupada initiated the public chanting of Hare Krsna in the West. Devotees gathered at 26 Second Avenue, Prabhupada's first temple, to hear stories of ISKCON's beginnings. Daily chanting parties and visits to the places where Srila Prabhupada stayed brought everyone to a high level of Prabhupada consciousness. The New York pilgrimage culminated in a Rathayatra on June 15.
ISKCON Social Development Conferences
Conferences on social development in ISKCON were held in Mayapur, West Bengal, in March, and in Alachua, Florida, in May. Throughout the year devotees will hold similar conferences in other parts of the world as part of the Centennial efforts for uniting and strengthening ISKCON.
Sahasra Tirtha Jala
Water from 1,008 holy places will be used to bathe deities of Srila Prabhupada on his appearance day. By Lord Krsna's grace, the challenge was met: ten thousand kalasas (waterpots) and fifteen thousand liters of sacred water were dispatched. Some sailed over the seas; others flew by air cargo. Most of the Centennial kalasas and the sacred water have reached ports—Philadelphia, Durban, Saint Petersburg, Vladivostok, London, Odessa, Antwerp, Sydney.
Come And Celebrate
At your local ISKCON Center September 6*
Every ISKCON center will celebrate Srila Prabhupada's Maha Vyasa-puja. For information on local programs and how you can take part, or to sponsor a kalasa of sacred water to offer during the ceremony, please contact your local temple president or Centennial coordinator.
Or in Calcutta September 6-8
The Calcutta Maha Vyasa-puja committee has scheduled a three-day program to honor Srila Prabhupada in his birth city on the occasion of his one-hundredth birth anniversary. The celebrations include:
• Welcoming the Sahasra Tirtha Jala
• 1,008-water procession in the city
• 50,000 guests at Netaji Subhash Chandra indoor stadium
• 1,000 devotees from India and abroad
• Bathing Srila Prabhupada with sacred water from 1,008 holy places
• Celebrities from India and abroad honoring Srila Prabhupada
• A feast of 1,008 dishes offered to Srila Prabhupada
• Premiere of the movie "A Lifetime in Preparation"
• The "New World of Hare Krsna" documentary
• Krsna Vision
• International devotees sing Srila Prabhupada's glories
• Drama: "Srila Prabhupada"
*Check with your nearest temple for the date in your country
The worldwide activities of the International Society for Krishna Consciousness (ISKCON)
NBC television aired a prime-time special last February that featured BTG associate editor Drutakarma Dasa and BTG contributor Sadaputa Dasa. The show, The Mysterious Origins of Man, with actor Charlton Heston as the host, brought out challenges to Darwinian evolution and other commonly held scientific ideas. Half the show focused on research found in the book Forbidden Archeology: The Hidden History of the Human Race, by Drutakarma and Sadaputa. Estimated audience: fifteen million.
The Los Angeles City Council unanimously overturned a resolution by the local airport commission that would have stopped devotees from distributing Krsna conscious books at the airport. After seeing Srila Prabhupada's books and hearing from devotees about book distribution, the council ordered the airport commission to work out a compromise with the devotees and other groups who approach travelers at the airport.
Devotees have begun a $100,000 renovation of the Hare Krsna center in Los Angeles. They plan to build a new reception area for tours of Srila Prabhupada's quarters, renovate the altar and the room for Deity paraphernalia, and add windows and decorative work to the temple.
The Religious Public Relations Council (RPRC) elected Anuttama Dasa, national director of ISKCON Communications, to its board of governors last March. The RPRC, the oldest public relations association in the United States, promotes high standards for religious communications and public relations.
Canadian-born Bhakti Marg Swami set out in April to walk 5,270 miles (8,500 km) across Canada to promote the Srila Prabhupada Centennial. As he travels, he will tell how Krsna consciousness offers spiritual solutions to material problems. He will also place copies of Srila Prabhupada's Bhagavad-gita As It Is in libraries in all ten Canadian provinces.
Fifteen Indian newspapers across the USA and Canada are printing monthly full- and half-page ads glorifying Srila Prabhupada for spreading India's spiritual culture around the world. The ad campaign began last December and will run throughout the Centennial year.
The Houston Hare Krsna temple opened a new community hall in May. Opening the 12,000-square-foot hall begins the renovation of the four-acre temple site, known as Hare Krishna Dhama.
The Bhaktivedanta Swami Charity Trust convened a historic reunion of the Sarasvata family—the disciplic followers of Srila Prabhupada's spiritual master, Srila Bhaktisiddhanta Sarasvati Thakura. The reunion took place in Sridham Mayapur in February, occasioned by the Srila Prabhupada Centennial. Srila Prabhupada had directed that the Charity Trust promote unity and cooperation within the Sarasvata family, and the reunion took place in pursuance of that end. Direct disciples of Srila Bhaktisiddhanta Sarasvati Thakura attended the reunion, and so also did representatives of almost all the institutions headed by his followers. The convenor of the meeting was ISKCON leader Jayapataka Swami, the chairman of the Charity Trust. Those in attendance decided to form a permanent body, called the Sarasvata Gaudiya Association. The association will meet annually in Sridham Mayapur.
A Muslim scholar from the Islamic Academy in Bombay visited ISKCON's center in Mayapur, West Bengal, earlier this year. During his tour of the project, the scholar, Mr. Shabbir Totanavalla, met with several Hare Krsna devotees of Arabic Muslim background.
ISKCON Calcutta will hold its annual Rathayatra festival on July 17. After a week-long festival, a "return yatra" will be held.
Thirty men beat up an international group of Hare Krsna devotees chanting last April in the streets of Sarajevo, Bosnia. Three devotees were hospitalized for stab wounds and one for head injuries suffered during the twenty-minute attack.
"The clash had been unexpected," reported the Reuters news agency. "The Hare Krishna movement had been very active in Sarajevo throughout the war, performing their dance and songs in the city streets even during the worst of the shelling and winning sympathy for their courage from the besieged residents."
A spokesman for the Ministry of the Interior promised the police would do its best to catch the perpetrators. So far, four suspects have been arrested.
Devotees in Belarus have finished the first stage in developing 340 acres of land they received from the government three years ago. They have built a three-story residence, a greenhouse, a shed for twenty cows, and workshops for brickmaking and wood and metal work.
The St. Patrick's Day Parade in Dublin included sixty devotees and their festival cart. Some 350,000 spectators along the route looked on as officials announced over loudspeakers, "This is a very special year for the Hare Krsna devotees, as it is the centennial year of their spiritual leader, Srila Prabhupada."
The Hare Krsna movement in Croatia has created a homepage on the World Wide Web. The location is http://public.srce.hr/~hmarjan/. So far, it's all in Croatian.
Devotees in Christchurch, New Zealand, in January celebrated the tenth year since the installation of their Deities, Sri Sri Nitai-Gauracandra (Nityananda and Caitanya). The celebrants installed a brass cakra (the disc of Lord Visnu) on the temple roof and held a parade on the city's main street.
Soon after, one hundred devotees took Hare Krsna festivals to the ten major cities of the North Island. The festivals drew crowds of 150 to 500 people. The tour ended in Auckland, where 5,000 people attended a festival.
The Bhaktivedanta Book Trust displayed Srila Prabhupada's books at the Tokyo International Book Fair.
Dignitaries in Trinidad praised ISKCON during a festival for Lord Caitanya Mahaprabhu. The ministers of health and social development and the local mayor spoke at ISKCON's Logdenville temple.
Prabhupada's Unfinished Mission
By Hare Krsna Devi Dasi
Discharging one's occupational duty as a means of rendering devotional service unto the Supreme Personality of Godhead is the ultimate goal of life. (Srimad-Bhagavatam 4.20.9, purport)
The ultimate goal of life is to please Lord Visnu by varnasrama-dharma. (Srimad-Bhagavatam 8.16.60, purport)
"I WAS PRESENT on two occasions when Srila Prabhupada spoke about how important establishing varnasrama was to him," said Abhirama Dasa, a disciple of Prabhupada's. "Both times were in the summer of 1977, in Prabhupada's room in Vrndavana, before Prabhupada left to go to London. At the time, I was Prabhupada's nurse and an assistant to Tamal Krsna Goswami, Prabhupada's personal secretary.
"The first time, several devotees were with Prabhupada. We knew that his health was getting weaker. He was talking to us about his imminent departure.
" 'I have no lamentation,' Prabhupada said. He paused for a few seconds, and then he said, 'No, I have one lamentation.'
"A devotee asked, 'Because you have not finished translating the Srimad-Bhagavatam?'
"Prabhupada replied, 'No, that I have not established varnasrama.'
"On the next occasion, some time later, I was with Prabhupada in his room when he said, 'Fifty percent of my work is not complete, because I have not established varnasrama.' "
The Importance of Varnasrama
What is this mission that was so important to Srila Prabhupada? Varnasrama-dharma is the organization of society into four occupational groups and four spiritual groups. These groups work not to viciously compete and exploit, like modern social classes, but to cooperate with mutual responsibility among the classes, with the specific goal of pleasing the Supreme Lord.
After Srila Prabhupada's passing in November of 1977, a Back to Godhead article (January/February, 1978) entitled "The Gifts of His Divine Grace" presented thirteen of Prabhupada's fundamental contributions for the spiritual benefit of the world. Among them was "Ideal Life in Harmony with God and Nature":
The spiritual master, as the representative of the Lord, conveys the Lord's instructions and shows how to put them into practical effect. In the Vedic scriptures, the Supreme Lord perfectly teaches how to live happily in this world and at the end of life go back home, back to Godhead. He gives the perfect system of social organization, known as varnasrama-dharma, and He tells us how to solve all economic problems simply—by depending on the natural fertility of the earth and by protecting cows and drinking the milk He's arranged for them to give us.
Srila Prabhupada was convinced that social organization should be used to promote spiritual progress. That conviction was founded on the instructions of his own spiritual master, Srila Bhaktisiddhanta Sarasvati Thakura, and supported by the Vedic scriptures. Prabhupada often quoted the instructions of the great sage Parasara Muni from the Visnu Purana (3.8.9):
"The Supreme Personality of Godhead Lord Visnu is worshiped by the proper execution of prescribed duties in the system of varna and asrama. There is no other way to satisfy the Lord."
Srila Prabhupada also cited this statement by Lord Krsna from the Bhagavad-gita (4.13):
catur-varnyam maya srstam
"According to the three modes of material nature and the work ascribed to them, the four divisions of human society were created by Me."
And Srila Prabhupada cited Krsna's instructions at the conclusion of the Gita (18.45-46):
sve sve karmany abhiratah
yatah pravrttir bhutanam
"By following his qualities of work, every man can become perfect. Now please hear from Me how this can be done. By worship of the Lord, who is the source of all beings and who is all-pervading, man can attain perfection through performing his own work."
So it was not surprising that the sense of the Back to Godhead eulogy was poignantly highlighted several pages later in a special edition of "Srila Prabhupada Speaks Out" entitled "His Final Instructions." It featured a number of statements Prabhupada had made in his last days in Vrndavana, including the following instruction to "make the situation favorable" for chanting Hare Krsna by establishing varnasrama:
And I also want you to organize varnasrama society [the Vedic social structure]. Divide society: brahmana [intellectual class], ksatriya [administrators], and so on. There should be social division, just as there is a division of the different parts of our body. This will help people. Don't waste the human form of life by sinful living. I have already given the ideas in my books, so you should all read them. You are intelligent, all of you. Caitanya Mahaprabhu said, para-upakara—do good to others; do not exploit them. Any human being has the ability to chant Hare Krsna. Give them chanting. And also make the situation favorable. Is that clear?
So here was the instruction, clear and irrefutable: One of Srila Prabhupada's last great wishes was that devotees establish the varnasrama organization of society to pave the way for spreading Krsna consciousness throughout the world.
Indeed, Prabhupada saw the establishment of varnasrama as a central mission of the Krsna consciousness movement, as shown by his purport to the following passage from the Srimad-Bhagavatam (9.10.51), describing the rule of the Supreme Personality of Godhead Lord Rama:
Srila Prabhupada Risked His Life
Recently, I was speaking with a friend about Prabhupada's desires to establish varnasrama. She observed, "I don't think we appreciate just how important this was to Prabhupada. He was so intent on this mission that he was willing to risk his life in an attempt to carry it out." She recalled that Prabhupada, during his last days, had told his secretary Tamal Krsna Maharaja, "I want to establish varnasrama." And when Tamal Krsna Goswami asked, "How will you do that?" Prabhupada spoke of Gita Nagari, ISKCON's farm in Pennsylvania. "I will go to Gita Nagari. I will sit down, and I will teach you how to live off the land."
But the doctors in Vrndavana warned him not to go. They said he would risk his life by going to the West. Still, in spite of their warnings, Prabhupada attempted to go. He made it to London, but there his health collapsed, so he returned to Vrndavana. And within two months he was gone.
My friend continued, "So the doctors might say this proves they were right: Prabhupada never should have attempted that trip. Would they be right? That depends on us. If we take up Prabhupada's heroic attempt and complete his mission, we can prove that they were wrong: the mission of Krsna's pure devotee ultimately cannot be baffled by any obstacle of the material world. I guess that's what it means to be fixed on the order of the spiritual master. You try to make sure his plans for the benefit of the world are fulfilled, no matter what."
After my conversation with my friend, I could not help thinking of Prabhupada's own statement in the Srimad-Bhagavatam (4.24.15, purport):
After being initiated and receiving the orders of the spiritual master, the disciple should unhesitatingly think about the instructions or orders of the spiritual master and should not allow himself to be disturbed by anything else. This is also the verdict of Srila Visvanatha Cakravarti Thakura, who, while explaining a verse of Bhagavad-gita (vyavasayatmika buddhir ekeha kuru-nandana, Bg. 2.41), points out that the order of the spiritual master is the life substance of the disciple. The disciple should not consider whether he is going back home, back to Godhead; his first business should be to execute the order of his spiritual master. Thus a disciple should always meditate on the order of the spiritual master, and that is perfectional meditation. Not only should he meditate upon that order, but he should find out the means by which he can perfectly worship and execute it.
If we focus our lives on the order of our founder-acarya that we organize society for pleasing the Supreme Lord Sri Krsna, there is no doubt that spiritual adventure and a vital strengthening of our relationship with Srila Prabhupada await us in the coming years.
Hare Krsna Devi Dasi, an ISKCON devotee since 1978, is co-editor of the newsletter Hare Krsna Rural Life.
The author would like to acknowledge the contributions of Muralivadaka Dasa, Abhirama Dasa, and Jaya Lalita Devi Dasi.
Prepared for Death
By Urmila Devi Dasi
A COUSIN WITH WHOM I'd had no contact since joining the Hare Krsna movement sent me a card of congratulations when our son married. So I responded with some photos of our family and a card of pleasantries. She then sent me photos of her family and told me she and her husband were about to make a trip with her parents.
On that trip, her father, my mother's brother, died alone when he went to take a nap. Since my cousin and I were now writing, I took the opportunity to send her a note of sympathy, in which I quoted these words by Lord Krsna from the Bhagavad-gita: "For the soul there is never birth nor death. Nor having once been, does he ever cease to be. He is unborn, eternal, ever-existing, and primeval. He is not slain when the body is slain."
She wrote back, "Your view of death seems so true, yet difficult for the 'Westernized' mind to grasp. I wish we were better prepared for death and loss in our upbringing, education, community, and religion. Everywhere one turns there seem to be only messages of youth and life, and an ignoring and shunning of aging and death."
Actually, there has been a kind of "death education" in American public schools for more than a decade. As Snookie Dellinger, a parent, testified in 1984 to the U.S. Department of Education, "A survival game which my seventh-grade son participated in required him to eliminate five out of ten whom they did not have room for on a spaceship." Doris D'Antoni, another parent, spoke about the death education of her grandchildren: "In one program in our county, little first-graders made their own coffins out of shoe boxes."
In 1980, then president Reagan criticized government school programs where children "decided which members of their family should be left to die for the survival of the remaining ones." Some death education programs have children write a suicide note.
While this type of education may prepare a child to take his own life or the lives of others (something children are doing more and more of nowadays), it doesn't give a spiritual understanding of death or what to do at the crucial time when it comes.
Devotees of Krsna do not see death as a subject in any way unfit for children. Instead, we see death to be, as Krsna explains, simply a change of clothes. Death looms large for a materialist because it yanks away what he holds on to as his sources of pleasure. But for a devotee, death merely tests how well one has lived.
At death the soul fixes on what has been most important in life. The soul who thinks only of Krsna will not get another material body, required for those with material longings. Rather, the soul who perfects the art of dying will develop a spiritual body with which to serve Krsna forever.
Children who understand Krsna's simple and logical explanation of death look at life with tremendous joy and hope. Even two- and three-year-olds can easily make the connection—if I must focus on Krsna at death, let me dedicate my body, mind, and words to Him during life.
I often remember my three-year-old friend Radha-Govinda Dasi. She always talked of Krsna's pastimes, imitating them in her play. She never displayed a child's usual possessiveness or envy, and she seemed little concerned with her external circumstances. Her parents trained her to rise daily before sunrise to worship the Deity of Krsna. At home and in my nursery school, she learned to think of Krsna at death.
On the day she gave up her body fourteen years ago, at age three, she had spent the morning dancing and chanting in the temple with great enthusiasm. Then she had helped her mother cook a feast, because it was the festival of Srila Prabhupada's appearance in this world. We had no doubt she left her material body while absorbed in love for Krsna, because she had loved Him throughout her life.
Our own daughter, about the same age, saw the death of Radha-Govinda, her best friend, as a great cause for celebration. "Why are you sad?" she would ask me. "Radha-Govinda is playing with Krsna!"
Urmila Devi Dasi, initiated in 1973, has worked in ISKCON education since 1983.
It has been conclusively decided in the scriptures, after due consideration, that the ultimate goal for the welfare of human society is detachment from the bodily concept of life and increased and steadfast attachment for the Supreme Lord, who is transcendental, beyond the modes of nature.
Rejecting all other desires, abandoning philosophical speculation and fruitive work, and refraining from the worship of the demigods and demigoddesses, I shall worship and serve Lord Krsna with my body and mind in the company of other devotees.
Srila Narottama Dasa Thakura
I envy no one, nor am I partial to anyone. I am equal to all. But whoever renders service unto Me in devotion is a friend, is in Me, and I am also a friend to him.
Lord Sri Krsna
The Lord is very satisfied with His devotee when the devotee greets other people with tolerance, mercy, friendship, and equality.
Fear arises when a living entity misidentifies himself as the material body because of absorption in the external, illusory energy of the Lord. When the living entity thus turns away from the Supreme Lord, he also forgets his own constitutional position as a servant of the Lord. This bewildering, fearful condition is effected by the potency for illusion, called maya.
Sri Kavi Rsi
In modern civilized society, slaughterhouses are regularly maintained and supported by a certain type of religious principle. But without knowledge of the presence of God in every living entity, any so-called advancement of human civilization, either spiritual or material, is to be understood as being in the mode of ignorance.
His Divine Grace A.C. Bhaktivedanta Swami Prabhupada
Children and foolish people are attached to materialistic, fruitive activities, although the actual goal of life is to become free from such activities. Therefore, the Vedic injunctions indirectly lead one to the path of ultimate liberation by first prescribing fruitive religious activities, just as a father promises his child candy so that the child will take his medicine.