Statement of Purposes
1. To help all people discern reality from illusion, spirit from matter, the eternal from the temporary.
Welcome to Our New Readers in India
WITH THIS ISSUE, I'd especially like to welcome our thousands of new readers in India.
For Indian readers, BTG, once rare and hard to come by, is now widely available.
A dedicated team of Indian devotees, based in Mumbai, has worked hard to launch BTG in India—and now, with this issue, it's actually happening. We're taking off.
Srila Prabhupada began Back to Godhead in India in 1944, and when he came to the West he brought Back to Godhead with him, entrusting the task of publishing it to his American disciples.
Now, from America, we've come full circle and brought Back to Godhead back to India.
We look forward to dialogue, interaction, with our new Indian readers. On our "Letters" page, expect to see more letters from Delhi, Mumbai, Madras, Calcutta, Bangalore.
As the months go by, expect BTG to become less American, more global. (Readers in England, Australia, and South Africa, rejoice!) As BTG in India takes off, look forward to more articles from India, and from Indian devotees.
India is the land of Vedic culture and spirituality. It is in India that Lord Krsna appeared, in India that the Vedic writings have been given and preserved, and in India that Lord Krsna, only five hundred years ago, came again, in Bengal, as Lord Caitanya Mahaprabhu. Lord Caitanya taught,
bharata-bhumite haila manusya janma yara
"Anyone born as a human being in India should make his life perfect in Krsna consciousness, and spread love of Krsna for the welfare of others."
Srila Prabhupada used to say that he himself was only one Indian and that by his humble effort the Hare Krsna movement had spread all over the world. So he used to urge all other Indians to take seriously the message of Lord Krsna, follow it in their own lives, and cooperate with him in spreading the Hare Krsna movement throughout the world.
It is in this spirit—for the benefit of India and the world—that we are now bringing Back to Godhead back to India. We are hopeful that the intelligent, pious, and fortunate people of India will receive its message favorably.
The full credit for Back to Godhead India belongs to Srila Prabhupada. It is he who began Back to Godhead, single-handedly, and it is he who has enabled us to serve as helping hands in pushing forward with the magazine.
My grateful thanks to my Godbrother Sripada Radhanatha Swami Maharaja and his disciples in Mumbai for taking up the work of Back to Godhead full-heartedly.
Special thanks to Krsna Candra Dasa (Sri Hrishikesh Mafatlal) for his vision, backing, and inspiration. And thanks to Srinathaji Dasa (Dr. Narendra Desai) for sponsoring 1,008 subscriptions for selected Indian leaders.
Thanks again to my longtime friend Mr. Shrikumar Poddar for his invaluable advice in publishing. And thanks to Mr. G. V. Pujara and his son Kaushal, again for splendid help and advice. Thanks to our friends at India Book House, who are bringing Back to Godhead to newsstands and other points of distribution throughout the country.
And thank you for reading Back to Godhead.
Expanding the Chanting
My wife, Sima, and I are ISKCON life members very closely associated with the Laguna Beach temple. We had been hosting six congregational programs a year at our home. About six months ago we expanded the program in Orange County, from the Laguna Beach temple. Our objective is to spread the sankirtana movement in every corner of Orange County. Sankirtana means chanting of the holy names of the Lord. The chanting of the holy names of the Lord is so powerful that by this chanting even householders can very easily gain the ultimate result achieved by persons in the renounced order.
Reading with Relish
Thank you to the editors of BTG for the glorious and very inspiring magazine. Without it I would be lost. For two and a half years I have been reading it with relish from cover to cover. Everything is so perfect—just as Srila Prabhupada wanted it.
I'm working as a registered nurse. I chant my sixteen rounds daily and read as much as I can. I always read BTG and IWR [ISKCON World Review] cover to cover. It gets lonely living away from a temple, so BTG and IWR help me feel connected.
Kanka Devi Dasi
Krsna Is Supreme
I have been enjoying Back to God-head for several years. I very much enjoy the series of articles entitled "The Glories of the Demigods." There are many people who read, recite, and memorize the scriptures like the Bhagavad-gita and Valmiki Ramayana but somehow miraculously fail to understand the powerful message: Lord Visnu (Sri Krsna) is the Supreme God, the creator of all (including the demigods), and the ultimate conferrer of moksa, or liberation from the miserable cycle of birth and death. I read many times with interest the article "Is Back to Godhead an Offender?" in the Jan/Feb issue of BTG. I want to congratulate you on your beautiful and clear reply to the objections of the Federation of Hindu Associations (FHA) and express my complete agreement with you. Sri Krsna, the Supreme Lord, grants not only moksa (which He alone can) but all that is needed for a happy and peaceful life on earth. But as Lord Sri Krsna Himself says, it is a rare human being who realizes this: bahunam janmanam ante jnanavan mam prapadyate/ vasudevah sarvam iti sa mahatma sudurlabhah (Bhagavad-gita 7.19). I pray that Lord Sri Krsna will continue to bless ISKCON and all your endeavors.
Godhead Is 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.
Krsna on the Net
The NetNews in the May/June BTG inspired me to sign up for a Netscape class at the local public library. Within an hour I was on the library's computer exploring the various Krsna conscious Web sites. I enjoyed it immensely. Two more hours passed very quickly as I saw transcendental art, Prabhupada photos, and Krsna conscious articles.
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.
In the July/August issue, we printed the wrong photo for a news story on page 46. The correct photo is shown below.
In that same issue, the Calendar Closeup on Srila Rupa Goswami, on page 18, said that he was born in Karnataka. In fact, although his family had originally come from there, he was born in Bengal.
Material life means struggling
A lecture given in Los Angeles, on September 28, 1972
by His Divine Grace A.C. Bhaktivedanta Swami Prabhupada
This issue of Back to Godhead coincides with Janmastami, the anniversary of Lord Krsna's appearance, so we've selected a lecture in which Srila Prabhupada discusses Lord Krsna's appearance and activities. All Hare Krsna centers hold a special celebration on Janmastami. Call a center near you for the exact date in your area and a schedule of events.
ekonavimse vimsatime vrsnisu prapya janmani
"In the nineteenth and twentieth incarnations, the Lord descended as Lord Balarama and Lord Krsna in the family of Vrsni, or the Yadu dynasty, and by so doing He removed the burden of the world."—Srimad-Bhagavatam 1.3.23
Krsna can appear from anywhere. But He chooses to appear in the dynasty of Vrsni. Balarama appeared first, and then Krsna appeared, in the family of Vrsni, the Vrsni dynasty. One of Krsna's names is Varsneya because He appeared in the Vrsni family, just as sandalwood is known as "Malayan sandalwood" because it was formerly grown in large quantities in Malaysia.
Janma karma me divyam. Krsna's birth, or appearance, and work are not ordinary. Divyam—they are transcendental. Yo janati tattvatah. If one understands Krsna tattvatah, "in truth," then the result is tyaktva deham punar janma naiti: after giving up this body one does not take another material body. Krsna says, mam eti: "He comes to Me." That is the success of life. If you simply try to understand Krsna—His transcendental appearance, disappearance, activities—then your life is successful.
The purpose of the Krsna consciousness movement is to try to make people understand Krsna. Simply by understanding Krsna one will become liberated from material bondage. Every one of us is trying to get out of some kind of bondage. We feel, "I am bound up by certain circumstances, so I must get out." Ending this bondage is called atyantika-duhkha-nivrtti.
Duhkha-nivrtti means avoiding painful situations. Everyone is trying to avoid painful situations. That's a fact. We are struggling. I have got some income, say two hundred dollars, but that is not sufficient for me. So I struggle hard to get five hundred dollars, to avoid the painful situation. When I have five hundred dollars I feel another pain, so I try for one thousand dollars. In this way I go on increasing, and the painful situation is never mitigated. It will continue. Otherwise, why are millionaires committing suicide? They have money. But they do not know that no amount of material comforts will make them happy. That is not possible.
India is advertised as a very poor country. But still the majority of the people in India are happy. People elsewhere do not know that. Materially, Indians, especially the villagers, haven't got many possessions—may-be only one or two pieces of clothing. But still they follow the Vedic principles, bathe early in the morning, go to their business, and eat whatever they get. And they are happy. People say, "Primitive." But, after all, you want happiness. Primitive or advanced—what is that? If in an advanced civilization you commit suicide, why not be primitive?
People do not know what is actual happiness. Therefore the struggle is going on. Na te viduh svartha-gatim hi visnum: The rascals do not know that real happiness is Visnu, God. Our happiness is Krsna. For Krsna we are working day and night. The karmis, the nondevotees, are also working day and night, but they are not happy. We are happy. That they do not know. We are also doing the same things they are doing. We are not lazy. We are not sleeping. Every one of us is busy. Someone is writing, someone is typing, someone is selling books, someone is preparing prasadam [food offered to Krsna], someone is cleaning, someone is going to sankirtana [spreading Krsna consciousness]. Not a single moment are we lazy. But because we are working for Krsna, there is happiness. Here nobody is paid a single farthing. Rather, you bring money. But still you are happy. But the karmis are getting money, and still they are not happy. Why? This is practical.
We sometimes have to tell someone that he cannot live with us. So he leaves, but he cannot stay away. Unless there is happiness, why is he sticking to Krsna consciousness? Those who leave and then come back could not find any happiness outside Krsna consciousness. People may say, "These are foolish people, working under some idea." But those in Krsna consciousness are happy. They must be happy. But others do not know this. Na te viduh svartha-gatim hi visnum. Nondevotees do not know how happiness can be attained.
Happiness can be attained when you come to God, because you are part and parcel of God. Take this example: A little child is crying, and no one can pacify him. But as soon as the child is put on the breast of the mother, he is at once happy, because the child is part and parcel of the mother and immediately he understands, "Now I have come to safety, my mother."
Similarly, we are all part and parcel of God, Visnu. So unless we come to Krsna or Visnu—Krsna is Visnu—there is no happiness. It is not possible. But the rascals do not know this. They are trying to become happy by so-called scientific advancement.
The Platform of No Distress
The aim of life is to come to the platform of happiness, where there is no distress at all, simply happiness (anandamayo 'bhyasat). That is our aim.
You see so many pictures of Krsna—Krsna is playing with the cowherd boys, Krsna is dancing with His girlfriends, Krsna is stealing butter. Krsna is doing so many things, and they are all simply happiness. You won't find Krsna morose or sitting and crying. Even if He kills some demon He does it very laughingly, as an easy job. You see? Whether He is killing or dancing, He is happy.
We are giving this information of happiness, the topmost happiness—without any unhappiness—Anandamayo 'bhyasat. The Vedanta-sutra says that the nature of the individual soul and the Supersoul is to become happy. Anandamaya—"happy." Spiritual life means happiness. That happiness can be attained in cooperation with the Supreme.
We are like sparks of fire. Sometimes the sparks looks very beautiful. But if a spark falls from the fire, the fiery quality of the spark is at once extinguished. Our material condition is like that. We gave up the company of Krsna, and we wanted to be happy in this material world; therefore we are suffering.
If you put the spark, the particle of carbon, back into the fire, it will again become fire and red-hot. In the Krsna consciousness movement we are trying to pick up the sparks that by chance have fallen from the fire and put them back into the fire. That return to the fire is real happiness.
The Test for God
In today's verse it is said, rama-krsnav iti: God appeared as Rama and Krsna. There must be symptoms of Rama and Krsna. What is the test? The test is bhagavan aharad bharam: God can remove the burden of the world. When Krsna and Rama appeared, Balarama killed so many demons to make the world peaceful. From birth Krsna killed Putana, Aghasura, Bakasura, the Kesi demon, and so many other asuras, or demons. Every day Krsna and Balarama used to go to the forest, and some asura would come to disturb Them, to kill Them, and Krsna would finish him. And Krsna's friends would come home and narrate the story to their mothers: "Mother, Krsna is so wonderful. Such a big demon came, and Krsna killed him at once in this way and that way." That is Krsna. Not that because one has some so-called meditation one becomes Krsna without any test. What is the proof that someone is Rama or Krsna? Foolish people do not take the proof. They simply pose a bogus man as Rama or Krsna.
Balarama and Krsna are Bhagavan. They are actually the Supreme Personality of Godhead, and They proved it. They are not the "Rama" or "Krsna" dying of cancer. We are not after such a Rama or Krsna. When there is a real Rama and a real Krsna, why should I go to the imitation Rama or Krsna?
We should be intelligent enough not to be bluffed. Krsna yei bhaje sei bada catura: Without being intelligent, nobody surrenders to Krsna.
bahunam janmanam ante
Anyone who has surrendered to Krsna is the most intelligent (jnanavan). Krsna says that one who is fully wise after many, many births surrenders unto Him.
We Can't Be Cheated
Everyone is trying to put forward a competitor to Krsna. "Oh, why that Krsna? Here is another Krsna—with a big beard." That kind of "Krsna" is for the foolish man, and those presenting him as Krsna are also foolish.
Lord Krsna says in Bhagavad-gita,
catur-vidha bhajante mam
Four classes of men, if they are pious, come to God: the wise, the distressed, the inquisitive, and those in need of money. Generally, if an ordinary person is pious he prays to God, "My dear Lord, I am in distress. Kindly save me." Or if somebody needs money, he also approaches God: "My dear Lord, for want of money I am suffering. Kindly give me some money." The jnani approaches Godfor knowledge. He wants to know the constitutional position of God. And the inquisitive person is inquiring, "What is God?"
These four classes try to understand or approach God. Out of these four, two classes—those in distress and those in want of money—forget God as soon as they get money or their distress is over. But the inquisitive and the wise continue to search out God. Out of these two classes, when one understands what is God he is perfect. That becomes possible after many, many births: bahunam janmanam ante jnanavan. What kind of knowledge does one get? Vasudevah sarvam iti: "Krsna is everything, Vasudeva." One of Krsna's names is Vasudeva.
Sa mahatma su-durlabhah: that type of great soul—who accepts Krsna as everything—is very rare. Those who have taken Krsna as everything are the greatest souls, the topmost souls within the world. They cannot be misled by an imitation Krsna. They are interested in the real Krsna: Vasudeva Krsna, the son of Vasudeva.
Krsna appeared in the Vrsni family, and our business is to understand Krsna. We cannot understand Krsna fully. He is unlimited. But still, by following in the footsteps of mahajanas, great devotees, we can understand to some extent what is Krsna.
Our real aim is to love Krsna. The gopis, Krsna's cowherd girlfriends, did not know that Krsna is God. The cowherd boys did not know. Even His mother, Yasoda, did not know that Krsna is the Supreme Personality of Godhead. But their love for Krsna was spontaneous. They did not know anything beyond Krsna. If you come to that stage, that is perfection.
Not that we want to know God. What will we know? What knowledge have we got that we can understand God? But we can see by God's activities. When Krsna appeared, all His activities were uncommon. He was not a human being, but He played as a human being. The human being marries, so Krsna married. But His marrying is wonderful. He married 16,108 wives. That is uncommon. Nobody can marry like that. Muslim nawabs used to marry many wives. One nawab married 160 wives, but he could not reach all the wives every day or every night. That was not possible. But Krsna is not like that. Krsna expanded Himself into sixteen thousand forms and personally accompanied each wife.
So this incarnation of Krsna-Balarama is described in detail in the Srimad-Bhagavatam. Their symptoms, the father's name, the mother's name, the place, the activities—everything is being described. We cannot be cheated by a false incarnation of God. That is not possible. Those who want to be cheated are cheated. But we don't want to be cheated. We want real God. Therefore nobody can cheat us.
Thank you very much.
The History of the Krsna Book
By Satsvarupa Dasa Goswami
THE BHAGAVAD-GITA tells us that if we understand Krsna's birth and activities we can go back to Godhead. Srila Prabhupada's book Krsna, the Supreme Personality of Godhead (he called it "the Krsna book") presents us with all the necessary information with which to reach this goal. In his Preface to the Krsna book Prabhupada writes, "The book Krsna is another presentation to help the Krsna consciousness movement in the Western world. ... People love to read various kinds of fiction to spend their time and energy. Now this tendency can be directed to Krsna. The result will be the imperishable satisfaction of the soul, both individually and collectively. By reading this one book Krsna, love of Godhead will fructify."
We were surprised when Prabhupada first proposed that he write the Krsna book, a summary study of the Tenth Canto of Srimad-Bhagavatam. As the end of 1968 approached, he had been working steadily on his translations of the Bhagavatam and was just completing the Fourth Canto. We all looked forward to years of Bhagavatam work ahead. Everything seemed possible and fresh.
Then in December a letter addressed to Jadurani arrived. "As soon as possible, I will require some artist who will paint pictures from the Bhagavatam as I give hints on what to paint, but the artist must be very quick. Two or three pictures must be done every week. These pictures will be used for my new book, Krsna, which I will begin as soon as I get the assistance of a quick painter. I am sure that you can do this, but you are already engaged with so much work. There is one girl in Seattle, Joy Fulcher, who is a nice artist. As usual I shall send Krsna tapes* to your husband with hints for you about the pictures so you and your husband can send me the complete materials for final printing. Consider these suggestions and do the needful."
Prabhupada didn't present us with an order, but a proposal. It was typical of him: he liked to share the enthusiasm he felt for his work, to share the adventure. Of course, we were honored to serve Prabhupada in any way, and naturally Jadurani agreed to do the paintings.
Prabhupada withheld the tapes until the first five paintings were done. I wrote to him asking for the tapes just after he introduced the idea of the book to us, but he responded: "So far as the new book Krsna, I have already sent suggestions to Jadurani, and as soon as the pictures are drawn, I will send you the tapes." I didn't receive tapes from Prabhupada for another few months.
Sometimes people look at those early paintings and smile at their lack of artistic sophistication, but Prabhupada considered them windows to the spiritual world. Paintings were important to the concept of his book. Prabhupada accepted them as devotional offerings and said they enhanced the beauty of his book.
Although we didn't know it at the time, there was a deeper meaning behind Prabhupada's suddenly deciding to summarize Krsna's Tenth Canto pastimes. He revealed it only later in his Caitanya-caritamrta purports. In the middle of the Caitanya-caritamrta (Madhya-lila), the author, Krsnadasa Kaviraja Gosvami, suddenly begins to described the Lord's final pastimes. Krsnadasa Kaviraja explains, "I am now almost an invalid because of old age, and I know that at any moment I may die. Therefore I have already described some portions of the Antya-lila [final pastimes]."
In a similar mood, Prabhupada wanted to give us the Tenth Canto of the Srimad-Bhagavatam. In his purport to Krsnadasa Kaviraja's statement, he writes: "Following in the footsteps of Srila Krsnadasa Kaviraja Gosvami, I am trying to translate the Bhagavata literatures as quickly as possible. However, knowing myself to be an old man and almost an invalid because of rheumatism, I have already translated the essence of all literatures, the Tenth Canto of Srimad-Bhagavatam, as a summary study in English. I started the Krsna consciousness movement at the age of seventy. Now I am seventy-eight, and so my death is imminent. I am trying to finish the translation of Srimad-Bhagavatam as soon as possible, but before finishing it, I have given my readers the book Krsna, the Supreme Personality of Godhead, so that if I die before finishing the whole task, they may enjoy this book, which is the essence of Srimad-Bhagavatam." (Cc., Antya 1.11 and purport)
In his next letter, he mentioned the size of the book: 8-1/2x11. This is an unusually large book, but Prabhupada chose the large trim size because he wanted to display the illustrations.
At first, Prabhupada asked for two or three paintings a week. Later he asked for one a day. The artists tried but could not keep up. Finally they wrote to Prabhupada and explained why they couldn't maintain such a pace and Prabhupada assured them, "That's all right. That was my idea. I don't say that you must do it if it's not practical. It was just my idea."
Prabhupada often set a pace for his disciples that forced us to change our lives if we were going to keep up with him. When the spiritual master gives an order, it's not that the disciple looks at his own list of priorities to see if he can fit the order in. Rather, the disciple should change his life to serve the spiritual master's order. Prabhupada often made us stretch ourselves, and we became happy to do it.
Soon, Krsna book became Prabhupada's main work, and he suspended his work on Srimad-Bhagavatam. We thought Krsna book would never end; Krsna had so many pastimes!
By November 1969 Prabhupada went to London. I received a letter from him saying, "So far as Krsna is concerned ... one respectful friend has promised to get this printed immediately. In my previous letter, I asked you to give quotation for this Krsna book. ... It is essential for me to know [the cost] because the friend who wants to publish this book should be informed about the cost of production within a week." That friend, who remained anonymous in this letter, was George Harrison.
Prabhupada expected the book to come out in May of 1970. His disciple Syamasundara suggested we introduce Krsna book along with a new record, "Govindam," just coming out from ISKCON, and Prabhupada seriously considered the proposal. "Under the circumstances I wish to print a few thousand of a small booklet regarding Krsna book with a few pictures giving a short description of Krsna on the cover page."
Although this pamphlet was never actually printed, we still have Prabhupada's ad copy: "Krsna, the supreme rich powerful famous and beautiful Personality of Godhead without any material attachment is now available in book form. 400 pages reading matter and fifty-two colorful illustrations in first-class hard bound and wood-free paper printed. Those who have heard the Hare Krsna mantra record as well as 'Govindam' will do well by procuring this deluxe book and keep at home as a great treasure. Try to understand the basic principles of the great movement Krsna consciousness."
While all this attention was on publication, Prabhupada had not stopped writing. Now he was working on the second volume of what he envisioned as a three-volume Krsna book set.* When Gaurasundara invited him to Hawaii, Prabhupada declined. He was able to write in Los Angeles in a house some devotees had rented for him in Beverly Hills. "I'm sorry that I cannot come, I have to disappoint you but I'm not very enthusiastic to travel. I'm engaged in finishing the Krsna book and if I go even for fifteen days the progress will be halted."
Of course, book production was only one aspect of the Krsna book's history. Book distribution was the other. When the Krsna book finally arrived from the printer, I was in Boston. The devotees ripped open the cartons right on the lawn of the Boston temple. "Oh, look how beautiful Srila Prabhupada is on the cover!" "Look at the beautiful paintings!" We were so happy to finally receive the book.
Prabhupada received his copies at the Rathayatra in San Francisco. Devotees had rushed advance copies to him from the printer in Japan. What could give the devotees more pleasure than to see Prabhupada looking at a newly printed book? He looked at his dream fulfilled. Everything had been done, and now he could be relieved that even if he passed away, Krsna's Tenth Canto pastimes would be available.
Prabhupada looked at the book and announced to the people, "Now this book has just been delivered to us, Krsna, the Supreme Personality of Godhead. We have fifty copies, so anyone who wants a book from me can come up." He offered them for ten dollars each. A mob of people pushed their money forward until all the books were sold. He didn't even keep a copy for himself.
This was the beginning of Krsna book distribution in America. Since that day, millions of copies have been sold all over the world.
Of course, Krsna book remains a wonderful transcendental literature. Read it carefully. "By reading this one book, love of Godhead will fructify."
Satsvarupa Dasa Goswami travels extensively to speak and write about Krsna consciousness. He is the author of many books, including a 6-volume biography of Srila Prabhupada.
Cooking Class: Lesson 25
By Yamuna Devi
MANY PEOPLE become dosa fans with their first taste. I joined their ranks in 1971, at a breakfast served in the Madras home of Sri K. K. Balu. My golden-brown paper-thin dosa, which looked similar to a pancake, was more than 20 inches across. The dosa had been flexible when the cook had removed it from the griddle. As the dosa had cooled, he had placed a spoon of spiced mashed potatoes on it and artfully eased it into a crisp five-inch-high scroll. The paper dosa, as this style of dosa is known, was served South Indian-style—on a fresh banana-leaf plate, with plenty of sambar (spicy vegetable-and-dal stew), hot iddli (steamed bread made with rice and dal), and moist coconut chutney on the side.
I recall the occasion perhaps more for my exchange with Srila Prabhupada than for the outstanding dosa. I was one of several devotees traveling with Prabhupada around India. The highlight of many days was to take a meal with him. On this particular morning my eyes were glued to Prabhupada. While reciting a Bengali prayer glorifying prasadam, food offered to Krsna, he watched the servers distribute trays of dosas. Then, with a graceful sweep of his right hand, he broke off a piece of dosa with his thumb, forefinger, and middle finger, his little finger and ring finger slightly extended. He then picked up a bite of potatoes with the piece of dosa and dipped it into the chutney. I followed suit, and as our eyes met, his head moved slightly side to side in appreciation. It was one of those meals where quiet replaced chatter and each bite brought a new taste sensation. After we'd finished the meal, Prabhupada called me over and asked if I could prepare dosas. I replied that I hadn't a clue how to do it but that I would learn. I've been working on it ever since.
A Little About Dosas
Contemporary cooks loosely define dosas in two categories—classic and quick-style. Classic dosas prevail in most South Indian kitchens, where they are made daily from rice and urad dal. The ingredients are soaked separately, drained, ground into batters, and set aside in a warm nook to ferment, as is done with a sour dough starter. Classic dosas are best cooked on a smooth, well-used iron griddle. The dough is spread out anywhere from one-eighth inch thick to parchment-paper thin. Depending on the thickness and size, dosas may be served as is, stuffed and folded in half, or stuffed and rolled as "logs." Paper dosas are eased into a hollow scroll shape and are often served with a seasoned vegetable dish.
Quick dosas are made from flours of dal, rice, or other grains, whisked into thick or thin batters. Some cooks like to moisten the flour with yogurt so the dosas have a characteristic sour flavor. I have experimented with numerous flours and have come up with delicious nontraditional dosas made with flours of corn, wheat, buckwheat, semolina, and wild rice. Several recipes are found in the class textbook, Lord Krishna's Cuisine, and reduced-calorie varieties in Yamuna's Table. Batters for quick dosas are thinner than those for classic dosas, so quick-dosa batters cook differently and require different cookware. Because quick-dosa batter is similar in shape and consistency to French crepe batter, an omelet pan or a good quality nonstick griddle will serve you well when cooking quick dosas.
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 Back to Godhead.
South Indian Dosa with Potatoes and Coconut Chutney
(Serves 6—Twelve 8 ½-inch dosas or eighteen 6 ½-inch dosas)
This quick-dosa batter, made from everyday ingredients, is wrapped around seasoned mashed potatoes and served with a moist coconut chutney. Serve it with rice anytime, as a light meal by itself, or as an entree preceded by salad and sambar dal.
1 cup stone-ground cornmeal
1 cup grated coconut (6 ounces frozen)
Combine the first 8 ingredients in a mixing bowl and mix well. Cover and set aside for at least 2 hours, or overnight. (The batter can even be made 2 days ahead of use. Refrigerate well sealed. Stir the batter before each use.) When you are ready to make the dosa, add enough of the remaining water to make a thin, pourable, crepelike batter. Stir in the salt, the soda, and ½ tablespoon of oil.
Heat 2 or 3 large griddles or nonstick omelet pans over medium to medium-high heat. To shape each dosa, scoop out ½ cup of batter (for 8 ½-inch dosas) or ¼ to 1/3 cup of batter (for 6 ½-inch dosas). Pour the batter over the bottom of a pan. Lift and tilt the pan so the batter flows to make the crepe. Cook the dosa until the edges begin to curl and the bottom turns golden brown, 3 to 4 minutes. (If your nonstick surface is old, you may need to drizzle a few drops of oil around the dosa as it cooks.) Flip the dosa over and cook the other side.
Place the corn in a frying pan with a few spoons of water. Steam a few minutes. Add the potatoes, re-season with salt and pepper, and mix well. With the browned side of the dosa facing down, spoon a thick line of potato filling across the center of each dosa. Roll up the dosa to enclose the filling. Transfer the dosa to a shallow oiled baking tray. Repeat with the remaining ingredients. Bake the dosas in an oven preheated to 375 degrees F (190 degrees C) for about 15 minutes.
To make the chutney, whisk the coconut and yogurt in a bowl. Fry the oil, mustard seeds, chilies, and dal in a small pan until the dal turns brown and the mustard seeds crackle and pop. Add the asafetida and curry leaves and let them sizzle about 10 seconds. Pour the seasoning into the yogurt and stir to mix.
Offer the dosas and chutney to Lord Krsna.
Bhakti-yoga at Home
Srila Prabhupada—Krsna's Miracle
By Rohininandana Dasa
IT MUST BE ONE OF the greatest preaching adventures of all time.
An elderly mendicant in complete obscurity struggles relentlessly to carry out the order of his guru. He tries to establish the Krsna consciousness movement in India and abroad, he cries out for help in his task, but he receives practically none, even from his own spiritual brothers. But Prabhupada, as he himself once said, is "not a man to be disappointed." He soldiers on, taking tiny indications as great opportunities. He is prepared to expend enormous amounts of energy for Krsna—to fight like Arjuna up to the last breath.
Somehow he makes it to America. He walks New York's wintry streets and rides the buses just to see where they will end up. He talks to a man on a park bench—"There are temples and books, they are existing, they are there, but the time is separating us from them."
Eventually he attracts a small band of young people, and to their amazement he forms the International Society for Krishna Consciousness. And soon his little group grows into an influential worldwide movement.
Later he would write, "When I was alone in New York I was thinking, 'Who will listen to me in this horrible, sinful place? All right, I shall stay a little longer. At least I can distribute a few of my books. That is something.' But Krsna was all along preparing something I could not see, and He brought you to me one by one—sincere American boys and girls—to be trained up for doing the work of Lord Caitanya Mahaprabhu. Now I can see that it is a miracle. Otherwise, your city of New York, one single old man, with only a few books to sell for hardly getting eatables—how can he survive, what to speak of introducing a God consciousness movement for saving humankind? This is Krsna's miracle. Now I can see it."
Rohininandana Dasa lives in southern England with his wife and their three children. Write to him in care of Back to Godhead.
You Can Distribute Books
By Navina Nirada Dasa
FOR MANY YEARS members of the Hare Krsna movement around the world have gone out daily to distribute Srila Prabhupada's books. These devotees want to give everyone the chance to learn the transcendental knowledge contained in the Vedic literature. Many people have come to Krsna consciousness simply because they met such a dedicated devotee who presented Prabhupada's books with enthusiasm and conviction.
But why should only devotees living full time in temples distribute books? Book distribution is not a service limited only to them. In many spiritual organizations, members of the congregation do most of the work of passing out books and spreading the message in other ways. Just imagine the effect of all ISKCON temple devotees and congregation members taking part in distributing books.
As a member if ISKCON's congregation, you can distribute books anywhere, in any community. You may start small, but your every effort is most valuable.
The Centennial Year offers a special opportunity to give Prabhupada's books to our friends, to other people we know, or to whomever we meet. To gain inspiration in this service, we can commit ourselves to one or more of the following programs:
1. One book a day—To distribute 366 books in 1996.
2. One day a week—To go out one day a week to distribute books.
3. World Enlightenment Day—Organizers of the Srila Prabhupada Centennial have designated December 14 as the day for everyone to distribute Prabhupada's books. It could be the biggest book distribution event ever.
4. Srila Prabhupada Marathon—Each December devotees in ISKCON make special efforts to distribute large numbers of Prabhupada's books. You can take part.
During last December's marathon ISKCON's Radha-Gopinatha temple in Chowpatty, Mumbai (Bombay), had tremendous success in increasing book distribution. How? The members of the congregation took a big part in making it happen. Some gave books as gifts, some sold books to friends, some sold books door to door, some paid for books that others distributed. Some sold books from stalls at railway stations and other prominent locations. Some passed out books in their offices or persuaded their clients to buy books to give to employees or business associates. Some did service in the temple to free other devotees to go out.
Here are two examples of congregation members who distributed books while tending to their regular duties:
Sakhi Sarana Dasa. He inspired a man who owns a cloth shop to take five hundred Bhagavad-gitas, to be given free to any customer who bought a certain amount from his shop.
Madhupriya Devi Dasi. She is a devotee from the congregation, a housewife with three small children. She became the top book distributor for the temple simply by going out every evening and selling Prabhupada's books in crowded places.
If you'd like to distribute Prabhupada's books, inform the president of your local temple. He'll be happy to guide and encourage you in this important service of helping people by giving them the highest knowledge.
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.
Become A Rascal And Suffer
Here we continue an exchange between His Divine Grace A.C. Bhaktivedanta Swami Prabhupada and some of his disciples that took place on October 18, 1975, during a morning walk in Johannesburg, South Africa.
Srila Prabhupada: In the Vedic system, sex is allowed only for begetting children. In other words, restriction. Sex is allowed, but with great restriction—under religious rules and regulations.
There are so many things, such as the garbhadana, or seed-giving, ceremony. Even when sex is employed properly, for begetting a child, it is not undertaken secretly, without anyone else's knowledge. There should be a ceremonial function, garbhadana-samskara. All the brahmanas and relatives come, and everyone knows, "Some time soon, this man is going to have sex for begetting a child." So there is a dignified heralding. Not that sexual activity is simply done in the heat of the moment, like cats and dogs.
Actually, even cats and dogs do not have sex secretly. Human beings do it secretly and use contraceptives, because they do not want the botheration of having a child. Therefore, their "scientific advancement" especially means how to kill the child: how to take and distribute contraceptive pills, how to arrange for abortions, and how to allow the young people, "Yes, you go on having sex, but take these pills so that you may not be bothered."
Why not stop all the botheration of sex altogether? That they cannot do, because they are animals. Because they have created an animal civilization, they cannot escape all this botheration. Kandutivan manisijam visa-heta dhirah. Why don't they teach people to become dhirah, sober? "Let me tolerate this itching sensation [the urge for sex]. Let me remain brahmacari [celibate], remain on the spiritual platform."
Their teaching is not good: "You should have sex repeatedly"—and then suffer the consequences. And in trying to avoid suffering the consequences, people incur more suffering. Bahu-duhkha bhajah: after sex—illicit or licit—the consequence is suffering. Even when the sex is licit, then you still have to take care of your wife, and you also have to take care of the children, and be always in anxiety about their food and clothing, their education, their upliftment, and so on and so forth. Always undergoing suffering.
And if the sex is illicit, then you have to undergo these sufferings: Because you commit the sin of killing the child by contraceptives or abortion, therefore in your next life you must be killed. And in the meantime you have to go to the doctor and pay his exorbitant fees, and so on. So where is the relief from suffering? Whether illicit or licit, sex means you have to suffer.
But trpyanti neha krpana bahu-duhkha bhajah. These rascals, once they have had sex, they cannot be done with it: "That's all right. I have already got one child to take care of." No. "I must have sex again and again." You would think that once someone had committed sinful activities such as killing the child in the womb, then he would say, "All right. Stop it now." No. "Again."
Trpyanti neha krpana: such a miserly person is never satisfied. He knows that following his sinful activity there will be suffering. Still, he'll not stop this sinfulness.
Therefore, a man should be educated to become sober: "Let me tolerate this itching. That's all. I'll save so much trouble." This is knowledge. To become a rascal and then more and more of a rascal and then suffer—is that civilization? Does civilization mean simply making people rascals, so that they can suffer and commit spiritual suicide?
Just tell people that they have created this civilization of "Become a rascal and then suffer." And all their sufferings are nature's arrangement. Nature says, "You have forgotten Krsna. Now you must come under my control. You've become a rascal. Now suffer." Daivi hy esa guna mayi mama maya duratyaya. Krsna says, "My material nature is very severe, very punishing." Why is she doing that? She is teaching us, "Surrender to Krsna. Otherwise, you will go on suffering like this." This is nature's way.
But the rascal—because he is a rascal—does not know that prakrteh kriyamanani gunaih karmani: "I am under the full control of prakrti, material nature, and her business is to keep me a rascal and make me suffer." And yet these rascals are thinking themselves advanced in education.
Disciple: Prabhupada, they will say that this suffering is actually pleasure.
Srila Prabhupada: That's all right. Go on with your "pleasure." Who is stopping you? Enjoy this "pleasure." But if everything in this material world is made for your unrestricted pleasure, then why are you taking up a countermeasure? Why do you make a plan to kill the child? Because everything is pleasure? Why do you take up the contraceptive method—if the real arrangement here is not for punishment and spiritual correction but for your sensual pleasure?
That is the proof of what rascals they are. Mudha nabhijanati: Krsna says, "Rascals can never understand what is what." Try to understand why Krsna has said so many times, mudhah ... mayayapahrta-jnana: "These people are rascals, whose so-called knowledge is stolen by illusion." Krsna, the Supreme Lord, is speaking like that, so there must be some meaning.
Human civilization means giving spiritual relief. Enlightened life, comfortable life—not simply repeating the dark, sensual ordeal of the animals. That is human civilization.
Disciple: Srila Prabhupada, in everyday life we see that only the devotees are somewhat free from anxiety.
Srila Prabhupada: Yes. That's a fact. We have little anxieties, simply because we have to deal with this rascal world. Otherwise, we have no anxiety. But we have taken this mission, to go and approach people and tell them the truth. Therefore, we have got a little anxiety. Otherwise, there is no question of anxiety.
Because we are mixing with these rascals—and we have to do that, we who have taken up this mission—therefore, we have some little anxiety. That is also not very much. But anyway, you must know, the whole world is full of rascals and fools. That is not an exaggeration. Or have you got a different opinion?
Srila Prabhupada: Hm? What do you think? Do you agree?
Disciple: They are mudhas [fools].
Srila Prabhupada [laughing]: Our verdict is final: "All rascals and fools." Therefore, when I ask these rascals, "Any question?" they are stopped. [Laughter.] "Come on—any question?" What question can they ask? I challenge them, "Any question?" They know, "We have been proved rascals."
During my lecture last night I quoted Krsna's chastisement of Arjuna in the Bhagavad-gita. Asocyan anvasocas tvam prajna-vadams: "Your words are very high-sounding, but do you know what you are doing? Talking like a low-class fool. Overlooking your inner soul, your real, spiritual self. Stupidly taking yourself to be this outer covering, this material body. But this material body is the very cause of all your suffering." And I said, "This is the position of everyone. Everyone is a fool, a rascal, ignoring life's actual problem."
"Eight Prayers Pleading for Srila Prabhupada's Service
by Jaya Balarama Dasa
yo megha-varna-purusam purusartha-data
yah—who; megha-varna—the color of a cloud; purusam—Person; purusa-artha—the goal of life for mankind; data—endower; tat-drsti—his glance; sprsta—touched; patita—fallen; adhika—more; vipra-varyah—the best of brahmanas; sva-ahlada—personal happiness; tyakta—abandoning; guru-sevana—the service of his guru; tapa—troubled; labhah—received; sevam—service; pradehi—please bestow; prabhupada—O Prabhupada; nu—truly; kim-karah—the servant (literally, what should I do?); asmi—I am.
He endowed humanity with the priceless goal of life, the Supreme Personality of Godhead, whose bodily hue resembles that of a lustrous monsoon cloud. The touch of his merciful glance elevates the most fallen to a platform superior to that of the most excellent brahmana. He abandoned his personal happiness of residing in Sri Vrndavana Dhama and accepted countless troubles to render service to his guru, Srila Bhaktisiddhanta Sarasvati Thakura. O Prabhupada! Please bestow your service on me, for I am ready to accept your order.
dharmasya—of spiritual practice; roga—disease; samana—curing; artha—for the purpose; bhavat-prasadat—by your mercy; pascatya-desa—western countries; tarana—delivering; agata—came; vari-dutah—he who boarded the ship Jaladuta; acara-hina—bereft of good behavior; saranah—the refuge; vyasana—distressed; ardra—heart-melting; ragah—love.
He mercifully came to cure dharma, who had become diseased. Thus he boarded the steamship Jaladuta to deliver the Western countries. He became the shelter for those totally bereft of decent behavior, his heart melting out of love for the souls in such distress. O Prabhupada! Please bestow your service on me, for I am ready to accept your order.
sri-nama—the holy name; jayu—medicine; parisevana—distributing; dhairya—patience; karyah—duty; stri—loose women; suna—animal slaughter; pana—drinking intoxicants; dhana-vancana—gambling; jivada—physician; aryah—noble; gauranga-pada—the feet of Lord Gauranga; kamala—lotus; arpana—offering; yoga—union with the Supreme; vakta—preacher.
That noble person accepted the duty of a physician and forbearingly administered the medicine of the holy names of Krsna to those addicted to promiscuity, meat-eating, intoxication, and gambling. He preached the yoga of offering everything to the lotus feet of Lord Gauranga [Sri Caitanya Mahaprabhu]. O Prabhupada! Please bestow your service on me, for I am ready to accept your order.
tattva-andha—blind to the truth; loka—people; visaya—sense objects; indriya—senses; samvrtanam—for those absorbed; gita-upadesa—instructions of the Gita; pathana—reading; ahnika—daily; dipa-data—giver of light; diksa—initiation; anusiksa—relevant instruction; japa-mantra—mantra meditation; vidhana—procedure; dhata—regulator.
For those blind to the truth, absorbed in the world of the senses and sense objects, he illumined their consciousness through the daily reading of Sri Krsna's instructions in the Bhagavad-gita. He gave initiation and instructions in the process of chanting the maha-mantra and the Gayatri mantra. O Prabhupada! Please bestow your service on me, for I am ready to accept your order.
paka-aspade—in the kitchen; lavana—salty; tiksna—pungent; rasa—flavors; adi—and so on; gandhaih—with the spices; dugdha—milk; anna—grains; vyanjana—vegetables; phala—fruits; adi—and so on; su-pakva—nicely cooked; bharta—master; ksira—sweet rice; adi—and so on; rasa—all tastes; rasana—tongue; amrta—nectar; purna—full; dayi—giver.
In the kitchen he masterfully cooked grains, fruits, vegetables, milk products, and other ingredients, flavoring them with salt and spices such as chili. He thus served full plates of tasteful preparations, such as sweet rice, which were truly nectar for the tongue. O Prabhupada! Please bestow your service on me, for I am ready to accept your order.
apanna—ripe; sasya—fruit; vitapi—of the tree; sruti-sara—essence of the Vedas; sastram—scripture; bhasa—language; antarena—into another; bahu-desa—many countries; vibhakti—distribution; karta—doer; krsnasya—of Krsna; hrt—heart; vivaranam—uncovering; para-duhkha-duhkhi—one who feels sorrow because of the sorrow of others.
He translated Srimad-Bhagavatam, the ripe, juicy fruit of Vedic literature, and through his disciples he distributed it throughout the many countries of the earth. Thus he, whose only sorrow lies in seeing the sorrows of others, uncovered their hearts to reveal the presence of Krsna. O Prabhupada! Please bestow your service on me, for I am ready to accept your order.
maya—the illusory energy; vimudha—bewildered; kali—quarrel personified; bhanjana—defeating; deva—the Lord; gata—the singer; kalyana—auspicious; drsti—glance; purusa-uttama—the best of persons, Lord Jagannatha; dana-patrah—recipient of charity; tivrena—by the intensity; bhakti—devotion; abhilasena—by the desire; ku-desa—the degraded countries; panthah—traveller.
His singing of Krsna's glories illusioned the illusory energy and disrupted Kali's plans for disruption. By his earnest devotional hankering, he invoked the charitable glance of Lord Jagannatha, and thus the Lord also traveled to bless the degraded countries of the West. O Prabhupada! Please bestow your service on me, for I am ready to accept your order.
ananda-sagara—the ocean of bliss; rasayana—elixir; dhira—sober; murte—form; sri-radhika-madana-mohana-trpta—having satisfied Sri Radhika and the bewilderer of Cupid; sphurte—brilliantly manifest; tat-pada—Their feet; sisya—disciples; nayana—leading; atma—self; su-tusta—well satisfied; purte—fulfilled.
O Prabhupada! Your form is filled with sobriety, yet you taste the elixir of the ocean of bliss. Your form is brilliantly manifest because you give pleasure to Sri Sri Radhika-Madana-Mohana [Radha-Krsna], and you are filled with satisfaction by leading your disciples to Their lotus feet. O Prabhupada! Please bestow your service on me, for I am ready to accept your order.
murari-sevakanam—of the servants of Murari; hi—indeed; satatam—always; dautya-sevane—in serving your mission; krpaya—by your mercy; asmasu—upon us; namresu—humble; tava—your; dhulih—dust; sada—always; astu—let it be; re—oh.
O Srila Prabhupada, kindly allow the dust of your lotus feet to perpetually fall upon us, who are the humble servants of Lord Murari [Krsna] and are forever engaged in assisting your mission.
Jaya Balarama Dasa wrote these verses as an offering to Srila Prabhupada on behalf of ISKCON's Murari Sevaka farm community in Tennessee.
An Impersonator Gets Caught
He'd never take the Hare Krsnas seriously
By Bhakta Sean Carolan
[Rupa Gosvami and Sanatana Gosvami said to Lord Caitanya]: "Jagai and Madhai had but one fault—they were addicted to sinful activity. However, volumes of sinful activity can be burned to ashes simply by a dim reflection of the chanting of Your holy name. Jagai and Madhai uttered Your holy name by way of blaspheming You. Fortunately, that holy name became the cause of their deliverance. (Caitanya-caritamrta, Madhya, 1.194-195)
FIVE YEARS AGO, while still in high school in Honolulu, my friend Brian and I decided to dress as Hare Krsnas on Halloween. We got some white sheets and dyed them orange. I wore a woman's stocking on my head to make me look bald, and Brian wore a rubber wig with a ponytail. We borrowed tambourines from someone in our high-school band.
We went to school in our costumes. We got a lot of attention. Brian and I had the same American Studies class. No one could concentrate. Everyone kept looking at us. Our classmates asked, "What are you?"
"We're Hare Krsnas, don't you know?"
When nightfall came, we went to Kalakaua Avenue. On Halloween, the police close the streets to traffic, and thousands of costume-clad Hawaiians and tourists mob the street. We started to shake our tambourines and give out flowers to people. "Hare Krsna. Here's a flower for you."
Close Encounters of the Spiritual Kind
An hour or so went by. Off in the distance we heard the sound of karatalas and drums. From out of the crowd came a jubilant group of Krsna devotees chanting the maha-mantra. Brian and I were shocked. We were afraid they would be angry with us for impersonating them.
The devotees saw us. There was a strange moment of silence. Then one of the devotees approached us. He said, "Hare Krsna. Yeah, we thought someone like you would be down here." Instead of shouting at us, they asked us to join them! They taught us the words of the maha-mantra: Hare Krsna, Hare Krsna, Krsna Krsna, Hare Hare/ Hare Rama, Hare Rama, Rama Rama, Hare Hare.
We began to chant. The devotees filled our tambourines with prasadam cookies to distribute.
We tagged behind the party, chanting and dancing. As we handed out cookies, we said, "Yeah, we're the real ones. These guys are posers." As we chanted, we changed the words of the mantra. It was complete blasphemy. Still, we were having fun.
We chanted for three hours. Finally, the devotees went home. One of the devotees asked, "So, are you ready to join up? Are you ready to come with us?"
"Yeah, right," I thought. "Never in a million years."
We met another friend, Cherise, around midnight. We gave her an orange sheet and taught her the maha-mantra too. The three of us chanted and danced along Waikiki.
Most people were amused by our imitation kirtana, but some of the ghouls and goblins got ugly. One burly, angry drunk ripped the wig from Brian's head. Brian and I were petrified. Cherise was outraged. She poked him in the chest, "You give that back, mister!" He relented. Off we went again, hairstyles intact.
Hoarse and thirsty, we drove to a nearby shopping center. We entered the Rose City Diner, a '50s fast-food joint, bustling with witches, warlocks, ghosts and other creatures of the night. "The Monster Mash" blared from the jukebox.
We were parched and broke. Shaking my tambourine in outstretched arms I approached the manager at the counter, "Hare Krsna. Hey, will you give us free sodas if we get up on the counter and chant and dance?" He agreed.
We got on top of the long formica countertop, and belted out the maha-mantra for everyone to hear. The patrons laughed and applauded. We got our sodas and headed for home. Our chanting trio had been out for more than two hours. Blissful and exhausted, we made it home at three A.M.
For the next several days the maha-mantra kept echoing through my head—Hare Krsna, Hare Krsna, Krsna Krsna, Hare Hare/ Hare Rama, Hare Rama, Rama Rama, Hare Hare. It was pleasurable, but I was afraid. "This is addictive. I'd better stop before I become one of them," I thought. I pushed the maha-mantra back into my subconscious and forgot about it.
I finished high school and began attending MIT. I joined a fraternity and soon entered the fast lane of college life—women, alcohol, and hard drugs. By the middle of my freshman year, after hitting bottom, I began to search for spiritual knowledge. I studied martial arts, different systems of meditation, hatha-yoga. I read the Bible. I took a course on Asian religions, which included a study of the Bhagavad-gita.
One day, a fraternity brother came home and said, "Here, I got this from some guy on the street." It was Srila Prabhupada's Message of Godhead. I looked at the striking picture of Srila Prabhupada on the back. I was frightened by it. I put it away and continued my mishmash of pseudo-spiritual pursuits.
Then last May, at the end of my sophomore year, I met Bhakta Sashi from the Boston temple in front of the student center at MIT. He was distributing Srila Prabhupada's books and invitations to the temple. I spoke with him several times at his book table. I would needle him, but he was always kind and reasonable in answering my questions.
During my summer break in Hawaii, I read the cookbook The Higher Taste, which Sashi gave me. Inspired by it, I offered some food to Krsna. I had never tasted anything like it before. I started to offer more of my food. I became convinced: "I have to go to the temple."
When I returned to MIT last fall, I was depressed. My then-girlfriend had just left for college. I had broken ties with my old college fraternity. I felt like I was in limbo. I had lost the temple's address, so I walked up and down Commonwealth Avenue. I couldn't find the temple.
I went home and read The Higher Taste again. I read about the maha-mantra. "Oh, no, I'm not going to start that again!" But it said that chanting the Hare Krsna mantra is the only shelter. So I went for a long walk and I started to chant. Immediately, all my troubles melted away. As I walked down Commonwealth Avenue I prayed to Krsna, "Please let me find this temple." I detected the fragrance of sandalwood incense. I looked across the street and I saw the temple. Krsna was reeling me in ...
The next day was Sunday. As I rode my bike toward the temple, I saw a devotee chanting on his beads on the steps. "No," I thought, "I won't shave my head!" I peddled past.
But I came back the next week. Inside I found a warm, friendly atmosphere and that all-addictive mantra: Hare Krsna, Hare Krsna, Krsna Krsna, Hare Hare/ Hare Rama, Hare Rama, Rama Rama, Hare Hare.
I'll remember that day for the rest of my life. It was beautiful. I felt like I was home. I remember thinking, "I don't want to leave. This is nice."
During December, I visited the Honolulu temple for the first time. On Saturday night the devotees packed into the van to chant Hare Krsna on Kalakaua Avenue. On the way there, I told a devotee about that Halloween five years ago. He said, "I remember you." It was the same devotee who had given us the cookies and taught us the maha-mantra.
Another devotee explained that as they were going home that night they were saying, "These guys think it's pretty funny that they're out here imitating devotees, but I'll bet you at some point they'll become devotees."
Or at least they'll try ...
Bhakta Sean moved into the Boston temple in December 1994. He's now back in Hawaii, teaching the maha-mantra to people on the island of Kauai.
Five Husbands For Draupadi
Arjuna surprises his mother when he returns with his wife-to-be.
Translated from Sanskrit by Hridayananda Dasa Goswami
The sage Vaisampayana is telling the history of the Pandavas to their great-grandson, King Janamejaya. As the Mahabharata continues, Arjuna returns with Princess Draupadi to the potter's workshop where the Pandavas and their mother have been living, disguised as brahmanas. Arjuna has just won the hand of Draupadi in a competition among princes.
KUNTI, THE MOTHER of the Pandavas, knew only that her sons had gone out as usual to collect alms and that they had not returned on time. She began to imagine all sorts of calamities that might have befallen them. "I pray that Dhrtarastra's sons have not discovered and killed them, for my sons are the best of the Kurus. Could they have been waylaid by horrible Raksasas, who possess mystical powers and never forgive an enemy? But the great soul Vyasa declared that my sons would be victorious. Could his conclusion be in error?"
Filled with affection for her sons, Prtha thus worried over them until late in the afternoon, when Jisnu Arjuna returned. Like the bright sun surrounded by clouds, he came in surrounded by brahmanas, who kept the Absolute Truth before them.
Prtha's two exalted sons Bhima and Arjuna, the finest of men, went back to the potter's workshop with the greatest of joy. Finding Kunti home, they called to her, joking about Draupadi: "We brought alms!"
Kunti was inside the shop, and without looking at her sons she called back, "All of you enjoy the alms together."
When Kunti saw they had brought a girl, she cried out, "Oh, what a terrible thing I have said!" Embarrassed, and fearful of an irreligious act, Kunti took the very blissful Draupadi by the hand and went to see Yudhisthira.
Kunti said, "Your two younger brothers delivered to me the young daughter of King Drupada, and being distracted, son, I said as usual, 'All of you enjoy the alms together!' O best of the Kurus, how will my statement not prove false, [for I cannot lie]? Yet how will sin not overtake the sinless daughter of the king of Pancala?"
Yudhisthira, a king of tremendous ability, thought over the matter for some time. Then, trying his best to encourage Kunti, the courageous Kuru said to Dhananjaya Arjuna, "You have won Draupadi, O Pandava, and it is you who will satisfy the princess. Now let the sacred fire be ignited. May the offerings be made. You shall lawfully accept her hand."
Arjuna said, "Do not bestow upon me an irreligious deed, my king. What you propose is not the virtue people seek. You, as the eldest brother, will marry first, and then the mighty-armed Bhima, of inconceivable works. I come next, after me comes Nakula, and finally Madri's son Sahadeva will marry. Vrkodara Bhima, the twins, this girl, and I, O king, are all your subordinates. It being thus, you must carefully consider the situation and then do what must be done to enhance our virtue and reputation. Your actions must also be pleasing to Drupada, the king of Pancala. You may command us, for we are all prepared to obey you."
All the Pandavas then looked over at the glorious Draupadi, who stood before them, and then sat staring at one another, holding her within their hearts. Each of the Pandavas was a man of immeasurable vigor. As they went on looking at the maiden Krsna, a deep love arose in their hearts and forcibly took hold of their eyes and ears and all their senses. The creator of this world had personally designed the very attractive body of the Pancala princess, and all creatures were enchanted with her grace, for she was lovelier than other women.
Yudhisthira understood that all the Pandavas were absorbed in thinking of the lovely form of Draupadi, and he well remembered all that their grandfather Dvaipayana Vyasa had told them about their future marriage. The king then told his brothers, "To avoid the serious danger of division among us, pure-hearted Draupadi will be a wife to all of us."
The Pandavas thought about the instruction of their brother, Pandu's eldest son. Deep within their minds they meditated on the ultimate purpose and meaning of his decision, and thus those most able warriors simply sat in silence.
Krsna Meets the Pandavas
Meanwhile, the Vrsni hero Lord Krsna, surmising the identity of the Kuru heroes, went with Lord Balarama to the potter's workshop to see those valiant men.
Arriving there, Krsna and Balarama saw Yudhisthira, of wide, long arms, as he sat free of hatred and surrounded by his brothers, who were as bright as fire. Approaching Yudhisthira, the most distinguished of religious men, Lord Krsna, known as Vasudeva, affectionately pressed the feet of the rightful Kuru king and said, "I am Krsna."
Sri Balarama also touched Yudhisthira's feet, and the Kuru princes joyfully welcomed Krsna and Balarama. The two Yadu leaders also touched the feet of Their aunt Kunti, the sister of Their father.
King Yudhisthira, who saw no one as his enemy, then asked Lord Krsna about His well-being. Revealing their own state of affairs, he inquired, "Dear Krsna, we have all been living in disguise. How did You know who we are?"
Lord Krsna smiled and replied, "Fire, even when covered, is detected, O king. Who but the noble sons of Pandu, among all mankind, could perform such feats? Thank heaven all of you Pandavas were saved from that fire, and thank heaven Duryodhana, that sinful son of Dhrtarastra, and his minister could not accomplish their plan. May you all be blessed so that even in hiding you grow and prosper, shining like a steadily burning fire. We shall now go back to Our camp so that no one discovers who you are."
Granted His leave by the eldest Pandava, Sri Krsna, whose opulence is inexhaustible, departed quickly with His brother, Sri Baladeva.
Dhrstadyumna Listens In
Dhrstadyumna, prince of Pancala, had followed Bhima and Arjuna as they returned to the potter's shop. Hiding his men all around, he sat undetected near the workshop.
When night fell, Arjuna, the mighty twins, and Bhima, harasser of foes, happily gave Yudhisthira the alms they had begged. Then at the proper time generous Kunti said to Drupada's daughter, "Now, sweet girl, take the first portion of the collection and offer it to the Supreme Lord. Then give it in alms to a learned brahmana. And give some to whoever in this neighborhood desires food. Then quickly divide the remainder. Keep half for the four brothers and me and you, and give the other half, good woman, to Bhima. He's that son of mine who looks like a maddened bull. That swarthy young man is built very strongly and is our hero, but he always eats a lot."
The joy in the heart of the princess made her beauty shine. Accepting Kunti's words without the slightest doubt, the saintly young bride did exactly as instructed. And they all took their food.
Then Sahadeva, the expert son of Madri, put down a ground covering of kusa grass, and all the heroes spread out their deerskins on it to sleep on the earth. The men lay with their heads pointing toward the direction blessed by the sage Agastya [south]. Kunti was in front of them, and Draupadi was across from their feet. The princess lay on the earth with the sons of Pandu, as if a pillow for their feet. But there was no unhappiness in her heart, nor did she think less of those princes, who were the foremost of the Kurus.
As they lay there, talks arose among them. The mighty heroes began to tell wondrous stories of armies and governments, of divine weapons, chariots, and elephants, of swords, clubs, and deadly axes. And as they told their stories, Dhrstadyumna, the prince of Pancala, heard them, and his men saw how their princess lay there without any of her usual comforts.
Dhrstadyumna, King Drupada's son, eager to tell his father in detail all that the Pandavas and the women had said and done that night, hurried back to the palace.
Drupada Hears the Report
The king of Pancala looked worried and upset, for he did not know the identity of the Pandavas, to whom he had given his beloved daughter. As soon as his son returned, the exalted monarch questioned him: "Where has my daughter Krsna gone, and who led her away? Is the princess now the property of a low-class man? Is she in the hands of an outcaste? Or does she now serve a tax-paying merchant? Is a foot now stuck on my head? Has the royal garland fallen on the polluted ground where bodies are burned? Or has it been placed on a man of distinguished, kingly rank? Or was it one of still higher rank, a brahmana? Or is it, my son, that a lowly left foot has been thrust on my head by the man who carried away Krsna? Or may I yet dream that the sons of Pandu live and that I am now united with the very best of men? Tell me in truth! Who is that man of great power who has now won the right to my daughter?
"Oh, Vicitravirya was such a hero for the Kurus! Can it be that sons in his line have prevailed? Can it be that the youngest son of Prtha grabbed that bow today and struck down the target?"
Then Prince Dhrstadyumna, the crown jewel of Pancala, enthusiastically related to his father what had happened and who had taken Draupadi.
"It was that youth with large copper-colored eyes and deerskin dress, the one as handsome as the gods, who strung the finest bow and sent the target falling to the earth. And without becoming entangled, he quickly left, all the while being praised on all sides by the finest brahmanas. He strode like thunder-wielding Indra, who is attended by all the gods and seers as he strides through the demon sons of Diti.
"Draupadi held on to his trailing deerskin, and he looked like a mighty elephant followed by his jubilant mate. All the kings were furious with indignation, and they assailed him as he departed. But in the midst of those monarchs another man appeared, uprooted a large tree that stood firmly in the earth, and furiously drove off and chased those rows of kings just as Death pursues all that breathe. And as all the kings watched them, Your Highness, those two extraordinary men, shining like the sun and the moon, took our Krsna and departed.
"They went outside the city to the workshop of a potter. There I saw a woman sitting, and she resembled a fire's flame. I reason that she is their mother. Sitting near her were three powerful men who appeared to be of the same family. They too shone like fire.
"The two men arrived from the stadium, offered their respects at the woman's feet, and had Draupadi do the same. They introduced Draupadi to the others, and then all the men went out to collect alms. As soon as they came back, Draupadi took the alms, made an offering to the Lord, and fed the brahmanas. With the remainder, she waited upon the older woman and the heroic men, serving them their meal, and then she ate. Then the men lay down to sleep, and Draupadi lay at their feet like their foot-pillow. Their bed was made of fine deerskins spread over darbha grass, and somehow it seemed appropriate for the occasion.
"They began to narrate stories with voices as deep and strong as doomsday clouds. And how they told those wonderful stories! These were not the stories that merchants and common laboring men would have to tell, nor would brahmanas speak like those heroes. The way they talked about battle and war, they are undoubtedly prominent warriors, O king.
"Clearly, our great hope will now be fulfilled, for we hear that Prtha's sons were saved from the fire! The forceful way that powerful young man strung the bow and struck the target, and the way they all speak to each other—they are surely the Pandavas moving about in disguise."
Hridayananda Dasa Goswami led the team of devotee-scholars who completed the translation and commentary of the Srimad-Bhagavatam begun by His Divine Grace A.C. Bhaktivedanta Swami Prabhupada. He is now doing graduate work in Sanskrit and Indian Studies at Harvard University.
Dramatic readings by Hridayananda Dasa Goswami of his Mahabharata translations may be purchased from: HDG Tape Ministry, P. O. Box 1156, Alachua, FL 32616. Phone: (904) 418-4644.
Murari Sevaka Farm
(under the guidance of Jayapataka Swami and Bir Krsna Goswami) Jvarajit Dasa, Nandanacarya Dasa, Nirguna Dasa, Gayatri Dasa, Vijaya Devi Dasi
Devotees bought the farm in 1975, and Srila Prabhupada named it Murari Sevaka—"the place where everyone is a servant of Murari (Krsna)." The project is beautifully situated in an area where several small valleys run together. The first Krsna devotees here built a barn, a temple, and a few simple cabins. They also began adding to the temple building to make an extended complex. The project had a school. Devotees used oxen for some of the farming. In 1977 residents began worshiping Deities of Sri Sri Nitai-Gauracandra (Caitanya and Nityananda) and Srila Prabhupada.
Though the project lost momentum during the 1980s, it is undergoing a new birth, with a new generation of devotees convinced that the land, the climate, and the location of the project make it an ideal place to develop a community where people can live simply in Krsna consciousness and give Krsna consciousness to others. Besides working to develop the farm, devotees go out to distribute Srila Prabhupada's books and put on Krsna conscious programs, especially in Nashville, the area's largest city.
The farm is home to twenty-eight cows, calves, and oxen. One cow is giving milk.
Devotees are starting a primary school, the earlier school having closed many years ago.
1. Finish the temple complex.
2. Develop cottage industries.
3. Take advantage of natural sources of power (by using windmills, for example).
4. Use ox power for farming, trans-port, and other kinds of work.
6. Construct buildings for schools, camps, retreats, festivals, and seminars.
7. Develop a health/healing center.
8. Start a cabin time-sharing program.
Because Murari Sevaka is lesser known than other ISKCON farms, devotees may have stopped considering it as a project they could get involved in. The project especially needs more devotees living and working on the land.
How you can help
Visit Murari Sevaka.
If you have knowledge or experience in planning or developing a project like Murari, give your advice.
Consider moving onto the farm. Land is available on a life-lease or service-agreement plan. You can also buy land next to the project.
For more information, or to send resumes, donations, or development advice, write or call:
ISKCON Murari Sevaka
Rt. 1, Box 146-A
Mulberry, TN 37359
Tel: (615) 759-6888 or 759-5785
Sri Rangam—Temple of Temples
The history of this holy place traces
By Bhakti Vikasa Swami and Jaya Vijaya Dasa
SRI RANGAM, or Sri Rangaksetra, is the largest temple in the world in which worship is still being performed. Situated on an island at the confluence of the Kaveri and Kollidam rivers in the South Indian state of Tamil Nadu, Sri Rangam is the main center of worship and culture for the Sri Vaisnavas, the disciplic line of devotees of Lord Visnu (Krsna) that begins with Laksmi Devi (Sri, Lord Visnu's consort). Historically, their main acarya, or spiritual teacher, was Sri Ramanuja (See sidebar, page 31).
The Sri Rangam temple compound covers about three square miles. The main temple is surrounded by seven walls, which represent the seven planetary systems described in Vedic cosmology. The seven walls have twenty-one towered entrances (gopurams), the highest of which, at 250 feet, can be seen from at least ten miles away. Much of the town of Sri Rangam is within the three outer walls of the temple compound.
The Deity in the main temple is Sri Ranganatha Swami, a two-armed form of Lord Visnu reclining on the divine serpent Ananta Sesa. The priests of Sri Rangam have worshiped Sri Ranganatha in much the same way since the eleventh century, when Sri Ramanuja set up strict standards of worship, with a meticulous schedule of songs, prayers, rituals, and offerings.
Since the time Sri Ranganatha decided to stay at Sri Rangam (See sidebar "Sri Rangam: The History, page 29) countless kings, queens, saints, sages, devotees, demigods, and goddesses have eagerly stood before the doors of His chamber awaiting His merciful glance. Millions of souls since ancient times have had that fortune, and many more will have it for many years to come.
The Brahmanas of Sri Rangam
AN OLD brahmana struggles to climb the stairs to perform his service in the temple. I ask him when he is going to retire.
"No, the Lord wants our surrender," he replies. "The Lord does not want our surrender up to one week or three weeks before our death. He wants our lifelong surrender."
I have met many Sri Rangam brahmanas, and they are very special people. They have very great feeling for Sri Ranganatha Swami and Sri Ramanuja. They will not give up their service. "What would Ramanuja think?" they say.
I have met brahmanas who have been worshiping Sri Ranganatha Swami all their lives. They will not miss a day, even when sick. If they have a high fever and are too sick to bathe, they will stand near the Deity's chamber and direct someone else on how to perform a particular service for the Lord.
Many Sri Rangam brahmanas who by circumstance have to live elsewhere, even outside India, carry with them their great devotion to Sri Ranganatha Swami.
—Bhakti Vikasa Swami
Sri Rangam: The History
THE HISTORY of Sri Rangam, as told in various Puranas and other Vedic writings, traces back to the beginning of creation. Pleased by the penance of Brahma (the first created being), Lord Visnu (the Supreme Lord) manifested Himself in the form of Lord Ranganatha for Brahma to worship. Lord Ranganatha appeared with His Deity chamber, or vimana.Brahma worshiped Lord Ranganatha for a long time and eventually handed the worship over to Vivasvan, the sun-god, who handed it over to Svayambhuva Manu, the father of mankind. Manu passed on the worship to his son Iksvaku, a great king and the head of the dynasty in which Lord Krsna was later to appear in His incarnation as Lord Ramacandra.
Lord Ramacandra ruled in Ayodhya, in northern India, during the age known as Treta-yuga, millions of years ago. The pastimes of Lord Ramacandra are recounted in the epic Ramayana. Lord Ramacandra defeated the great demon Ravana, who had kidnapped the Lord's wife, and placed Ravana's brother Vibhisana on the throne of Sri Lanka, Ravana's former kingdom. Because Vibhisana was a great devotee, Lord Ramacandra presented Him with the Deity of Sri Ranganatha to worship in Sri Lanka, off the southeast coast of India.
While traveling to Sri Lanka with Sri Ranganatha (along with the Lord's vimana), Vibhisana stopped near the Kaveri River, at a holy place called Candra Puskarini, where a Deity of Ananta Sesa (the Lord's serpent-bed) was worshiped. Dharma Varma, a king of that region, had seen Lord Ranganatha in Ayodhya and had been praying for some time to be able to serve Him. Lord Ranganatha blessed the king by promising to stay at Sri Rangam. When Vibhisana tried to continue his journey, Lord Ranganatha would not move.
Lord Ranganatha then blessed Vibhisana by promising to always look toward Vibhisana's kingdom, Sri Lanka. So although most Deities in India face east, Sri Ranganatha Swami reclines on His right side with His head toward the west as He looks south toward His great devotee Vibhisana.
King Dharma Varma and his successors in the Chola dynasty built a large temple around the vimana of Lord Ranganatha and served Him with great opulence. But after many generations the temple was covered in sand and gradually lost and forgotten.
Then one day, temple histories say, a king of the Chola dynasty was resting under a tree in the area when a parrot told him that Lord Ranganatha was buried under the sand. The king then excavated the temple and restored all parts of the huge complex. Over the years to follow, numerous Chola and Pandya kings, including King Kulasekhara (See sidebar, page 36), expanded and renovated the temple.
Great Vaisnava leaders Yamunacarya, Ramanujacarya, and Sudarsanacarya all had important roles in the further development of Sri Rangam. But during the fourteenth century invading Moghuls plundered most of the Lord's treasures. Then in the fifteenth and sixteenth centuries the Vijayanagar and Nayak rulers slowly began to revive the glories of Sri Rangam. In the seventeenth and eighteenth centuries Muslims, the French, and finally the British used the fort-like temple of Sri Rangam during their conquests. Eventually, when India gained independence in 1947, the Indian government and the Sri Vaisnavas took over the management of the temple.
SRI RAMANUJA (A.D. 1017-1137) spent 80 of his 120 years at Sri Rangam. For twenty years he was the chief priest of the temple.
Ramanuja is the main acarya, or spiritual teacher, in the line of teachers and disciples knows as the Sri Sampradaya. His presentation of Krsna consciousness is known as visistadvaita, "qualified nondualism." A staunch proponent of the philosophy of personalism, he taught that although the Supreme Lord and the individual souls are qualitatively one, there is still a difference between them, for the Lord is infinite and the living entities are infinitesimal. Ramanuja traveled extensively throughout India, teaching personalism and debating proponents of monistic philosophy. His commentary on the Vedanta-sutra is known as Sri-bhasya.
Ramanuja founded seventy-four centers of Sri Vaisnavaism and initiated seven hundred sannyasis (renunciants), twelve thousand brahmacaris (celibate students), thousands of householders (including kings and wealthy landowners), and three hundred ketti-ammanis, women who took vows of renunciation.
Here are some of Sri Ramanuja's instructions as he was about to leave this world:
"Worship all Vaisnavas as you worship your guru. ... Have faith in the previous acaryas. ... Study scriptures that describe the glories of the Supreme Lord. ... Always endeavor for purity. ... Take shelter of the Lord and have faith in Him alone.
"If you follow these instructions, you will never be separated from me. Why should one grieve over the disappearance of the temporary body?"
Because the body of a great devotee is considered spiritual, Ramanuja's followers preserved his body after he passed away. Over the years the priests of Sri Rangam have regularly applied a special preservative, and after more than 850 years Ramanuja's body has not decayed. It is worshiped in a temple within the Sri Rangam compound. Sri Ramanuja sits in the lotus position, his right hand extended slightly forward, bestowing benedictions.
Appreciating the Residents of Sri Rangam
THOSE WHO LIVE and die in Sri Rangam, as in any holy place, are rare, fortunate souls. Somehow or other they have a special internal relationship with the Lord, which may be much deeper than we can see. Visitors should always give the local residents of any spiritual place the utmost respect.
In the course of Padayatra, our walking tour of India, we come in touch with hundreds of thousands of people, but when we enter a holy place we try to view everything with a different consciousness. We have entered a spiritual zone , where the Lord and His associates enact numerous pastimes. If we offer respect with care, reverence, and sincerity, the Lord may allow us some understanding of His pastimes here.
Though we have visited many places, only in Sri Rangam have I seen such great respect toward Lord Caitanya and kindness toward His devotees. Only in Sri Rangam have I seen brahmanas offer full prostrated obeisances to the Padayatra Deities as we chanted in procession around the temple precincts. And only in Sri Rangam have I heard the priests serving Sri Ranganatha stop the rushing queue so "the Hare Krsnas can have an extra long darsana [audience] of the most merciful Sri Ranganatha Swami."
One evening in the temple of Sri Ranganayaki Nachiyar (Maha-Laksmi, Lord Ranganatha's consort), we met an eighty-five-year-old Sri Vaisnava who could barely walk and see. Still, despite his advanced age and physical difficulties, he was coming to the temple. He looked up at us, surprised to see foreign devotees.
"How are you?" I asked him.
"Very fine!" he replied in a clear voice.
He then chanted various mantras glorifying the Lord. He loudly chanted "Govinda!" full of youthful enthusiasm, and he raised his hands and danced.
The next evening I met him again and asked how he was doing.
"I'm very happy, very happy!" he said.
Such happiness is the potency of the holy names of the Lord chanted by one of His devotees in the holy places of Sri Rangam.
—Jaya Vijaya Dasa
Lord Caitanya's Visit to Sri Rangam
LORD KRSNA appeared five hundred years ago in West Bengal as Sri Caitanya Mahaprabhu, who accepted the mood of a devotee of Krsna. After taking sannyasa, the renounced order of life, Lord Caitanya traveled throughout India for six years, visiting holy places and spreading the chanting of the holy names of the Lord. During that period, the longest time He spent in one place was at Sri Rangam.
Lord Caitanya observed the practice that a sannyasi ceases travel during the four months of the rainy season. So one year He spent those four months in Sri Rangam, at the home of a Sri Vaisnava brahmana named Vyenkata Bhatta. Because Vyenkata Bhatta was a devotee with whom Lord Caitanya could discuss the transcendental pastimes of Lord Krsna, Lord Caitanya passed His days at Sri Rangam in great happiness.
Lord Caitanya would bathe daily in the sacred Kaveri River and visit the temple to see Sri Ranganatha Swami. Many hundreds of thousands of people from various parts of India came to Sri Rangam to see the beauty of Caitanya Mahaprabhu and His ecstatic love for Lord Krsna. Every day, local Vaisnava brahmanas would invite Caitanya Mahaprabhu to their homes for lunch.
Vyenkata Bhatta and Caitanya Mahaprabhu developed a friendly relationship, and they would happily laugh and joke together. Since Vyenkata Bhatta belonged to the Sri Sampradaya and worshiped the Supreme Lord in His majestic aspect as Laksmi-Narayana, Caitanya Mahaprabhu would have lengthy spiritual discussions with him about the differences between worshiping Laksmi-Narayana and worshiping the Lord in His most sweet form as Radha-Krsna. To establish that the worship of Radha-Krsna is higher than that of Laksmi-Narayana, Lord Caitanya (all the while in a pleasant mood) cited a scriptural reference that tells how Laksmi, the consort of Narayana, wanted to join the most confidential pastimes of Krsna but was not allowed to do so.
Unable to defeat Lord Caitanya's arguments, Vyenkata Bhatta said, "You are the Supreme Personality of Godhead Krsna Himself. You know the purpose of Your activities, and the person whom You enlighten can also understand Your pastimes."
Caitanya Mahaprabhu enlightened Vyenkata Bhatta in all the subtle details of Lord Krsna's most intimate pastimes.
Lord Caitanya then said, "There is no difference between the transcendental forms of the Lord. Different forms are manifested due to different attachments of different devotees. Actually the Lord is one, but He appears in different forms just to satisfy His devotees."
When the four-month period ended, Sri Caitanya Mahaprabhu took permission from Vyenkata Bhatta to continue on with His travels. When Caitanya Mahaprabhu bade farewell, Vyenkata Bhatta fell down unconscious in the ecstasy of spiritual love.
Pilgrims to Sri Rangam can still visit the house of Vyenkata Bhatta.
The Prayers of King Kulasekhara
KING KULASEKHARA, who scholars say may have lived during the ninth century, was one of the twelve Alvars, ecstatic mystic poets who appeared in South India at various times between one thousand and five thousand years ago. The Alvars wrote mostly in the South Indian language Tamil. The Sri Vaisnavas accept the poems of the Alvars as scripture.*
*One reason for Sri Rangam's prominence is that it is the only divya-desam glorified by all twelve Alvars. The Sri Vaisnavas list 108 divya-desams, "holy sites," of which Sri Rangam is the chief. In Tamil it is referred to as Periya Koil, "the temple of temples."
King Kulasekhara was the tenth Alvar. After giving up the throne, he resided at Sri Rangam, where he wrote two great works: Mukunda-mala-stotra*, in Sanskrit, and a collection of 105 Tamil hymns.
*Available in English from the Bhaktivedanta Book Trust (BBT). The translations of the prayers given here are from the BBT edition.
The following prayers are from the Mukunda-mala-stotra:
jayatu jayatu devo devaki-nandano 'yam
All glories to this Personality of Godhead known as the son of Srimati Devakidevi! All glories to Lord Sri Krsna, the brilliant light of the Vrsni dynasty! All glories to the Personality of Godhead, the hue of whose soft body resembles the blackish color of a new cloud! All glories to Lord Mukunda, who removes the burdens of the earth!
mukunda murdhna pranipatya yace
O Lord Mukunda! I bow down my head to Your Lordship and respectfully ask You to fulfill this one desire of mine: that in each of my future births I will, by Your Lordship's mercy, always remember and never forget Your lotus feet.
maj-janmanah phalam idam madhu-kaitabhare
O enemy of Madhu and Kaitabha, O Lord of the universe, the perfection of my life and the most cherished mercy You could show me would be for You to consider me the servant of the servant of the servant of the servant of the servant of the servant of Your servant.
O Lord Krsna, at this moment let the royal swan of my mind enter the tangled stems of the lotus of Your feet. How will it be possible for me to remember You at the time of death, when my throat will be choked up with mucus, bile, and air?
Srila Prabhupada was very fond of this prayer, and he would sing and quote it often.
Visiting Sri Rangam
How to get there—Sri Rangam is ten kilometers from Tiruchirapalli (also called Trichy), a prominent city in Tamil Nadu you can reach by air, rail, or road. You can take a taxi or a city bus from Trichy to Sri Rangam.
Wherever Prabhupada traveled he showed how everything
By Kurma Dasa
From an upcoming book entitled The Great Transcendental Adventure: The Pastimes of His Divine Grace A.C. Bhaktivedanta Swami Prabhupada in Australia and New Zealand.
Tuesday, June 25, 1974
THE EARLY-MORNING air was crisp as the Alitalia jet touched down on the airport tarmac, sending the devotees crowded on the observation deck into a frenzy. They raced back to the international terminal and started chanting ecstatically to receive His Divine Grace. Since Prabhupada had chosen to visit only Melbourne this time, virtually every devotee in the Australasian zone had converged there. Devotees waved flags and banners, blew conches, and danced and chanted unabashedly before the customs doors, jumping and straining to see Prabhupada as the doors opened and closed.
Customs authorities had agreed to allow Prabhupada to circumvent the usual protocol, which would have kept him queued up with the other passengers. Suddenly, a devotee from the back of the crowd yelled, "Prabhupada!" Devotees turned and to their surprise saw Prabhupada standing humbly behind them. Customs authorities had indeed given Prabhupada special priority, allowing him out through the VIP exit without informing anyone. The devotees had been at the wrong gate.
The airport was briefly quiet as the devotees fell to the ground in obeisances. Then the kirtana resumed, louder and more blissful than before. Flower petals flew, cameras flashed. With one devotee holding a mirror-studded blue and gold umbrella over Prabhupada's head, the group surged down the corridor to the press lounge.
Prabhupada looked graceful and aristocratic. He smiled brightly. A dark wool wrapper hung over one shoulder. In one hand he carried a bamboo cane and a large bouquet of yellow dahlias, in the other his white attach'. Prabhupada entered the lounge and sat down, removing from around his neck all but one of the many flower garlands he'd just received. Despite the long, taxing journey—twenty-four hours from Frankfurt—Prabhupada appeared fresh and relaxed.
The kirtana roared. TV and newspaper reporters jostled and knelt beside Prabhupada, pens and notebooks poised. Film crews quickly adjusted their cameras and microphones. Prabhupada seemed unaffected by the fanfare. Propping his cane next to his right knee, he put his hand inside his bead bag and chanted.
Madhudvisa Swami, brightly dressed in orange silk, shaven head glistening with perspiration under the hot press lights, brought the kirtana to a close. The devotees settled in, cross-legged and attentive. Prabhupada's eyes slowly scanned the room, briefly scrutinizing each face.
As the press conference began, the reporters seemed somewhat hostile. A young reporter, perplexed by the devotees' reverence, wanted to know why the devotees had pressed their faces to the ground in obeisance at Prabhupada's arrival.
Prabhupada answered soberly, unfazed by the reporter's aggressive mood.
"The devotees prostrate themselves," he said, "because the kingdom of God is for the humble and meek. I am teaching them how to become humble and meek. I have to collect obeisances as a tax collector has to collect taxes."
Another reporter, displaying the attitude of irreverent interrogation typical of his kind, made an issue out of the devotees' fund-raising on the streets of Melbourne.
"Have you any idea how much money the sect makes every year?" he asked.
Prabhupada grinned. "We can spend all the money of the world."
The devotees roared. "Haribol!"
Prabhupada added with a twinkle in his eye, "Unfortunately, you do not give us the money."
The devotees laughed, and Prabhupada grinned even more.
Prabhupada continued, "We're spending at least, at the present moment, eight hundred thousand dollars per month."
"On what, Your Grace?"
"On this propaganda, all over the world. And we are selling our books, not less than forty thousand dollars per month."
A woman reporter asked Prabhupada if he liked to work.
Prabhupada opened his eyes wide and looked her straight in the eyes. "We are working more than you—twenty-four hours. In my old age I am traveling all over the world."
"But don't you get a lot of your money from begging?" asked another reporter.
Prabhupada shook his head. "No, no. First of all you see. Working—you cannot work more than us, because I am an old man, seventy-nine years old, and I am traveling always, all over the world, twice, thrice in a year. You cannot work so much, at least."
On hearing Prabhupada's frank reply, the devotees cheered and again chanted, "Jaya! Haribol!"
Another reporter expressed disapproval of the handsome car waiting for Prabhupada outside the airport terminal. Madhudvisa Swami, having recalled previous bungled receptions for Prabhupada, had been determined to make this one a success. He had hired a chauffeur-driven maroon Rolls Royce to drive Prabhupada to the temple.
"Your Grace, your religion is a very ascetic one. Will you be living ascetically in Melbourne? We're told you'll be taken away in a Rolls Royce."
"Our religion does not say asceticism. Our religion teaches to love God." Prabhupada pointed to the reporter's stylish suit. "You can love God in this dress. There is no harm."
"But it is a self-denying religion, isn't it?"
Prabhupada shook his head slightly. "No, no. Not self-denying. We are using everything. Why self-denying? We simply use whatever is absolutely necessary, that's all."
The reporter was not about to back down.
"But wouldn't it be better that you were traveling in a much smaller car, less pretentious?"
Prabhupada wasn't backing down either.
"Why? If you give me a Rolls Royce to travel, why shall I refuse it? It is my favor upon you that I accept this. The guru is the representative of the Supreme Lord. Krsna rides in a golden chariot. What is this Rolls Royce? Tin, rubber, and wood. I say Rolls Royce is not enough."
The devotees laughed at Prabhupada's frankness. He wasn't intimidated by the press. They had come looking for hot scandal, but he had given them cool-headed facts. He left them baffled by his transcendental style.
Another kirtana escorted Prabhupada to the escalator leading to the ground-floor parking area. AsPrabhupada descended, he noticed Bhurijana Dasa, recently returned from Hong Kong, positioned at the bottom of the escalator. As Prabhupada reached the bottom, Bhurijana spontaneously reached out his hand, and Prabhupada affectionately grasped it.
Exiting the terminal building, Prabhupada, loaded with garlands, climbed into the back seat of his Rolls Royce, its windscreen now adorned with a parking ticket. As someone blew a long, loud blast on a pink-bellied conch shell, the car drove off towards the temple, leaving the devotees scrambling for their vans.
14 Burnett Street, St. Kilda
By the time the Rolls Royce pulled up in front of the narrow terrace house, a loud kirtana was in full swing on the street. Many neighbors stood in their gardens to witness the joyous scene. Devotees lined the path to the front door sprinkling flowers as Prabhupada entered the freshly painted temple.
Prabhupada's arrival address was brief. He was happy to be in Melbourne again, he said, and he complimented the devotees on their keeping the temple clean and bright. He was here, he explained, on the invitation of Madhudvisa Maharaja, to attend the Rathayatra festival of Lord Jagannatha.
Prabhupada's first evening class in Melbourne was on the Thirteenth Chapter of the Bhagavad-gita, verses twenty-two through twenty-four. Prabhupada explained that out of ignorance the living entities in the material world are claiming to be purusa, the enjoyer, when in fact they are prakrti, the enjoyed. Ultimately, Krsna is the supreme enjoyer.
"Just like in this temple. Who is the enjoyer? Krsna is the enjoyer. We are helping in Krsna's enjoyment. Krsna will eat something very nice. Our business is to prepare it nicely and offer it to Krsna. He is the enjoyer. He is enjoying His flute in the company of Srimati Radharani. So His very position is enjoyer, and we are His servants. We don't claim that we are on an equal level with Krsna. That is not our philo-sophy. We claim to be servant of the servant of the servant of the servant of Krsna. This is our position."
Prabhupada glanced lovingly at the altar.
"Krsna has become your guest. You have brought Krsna here. He is very kind. Because you are devotees, because you want to serve Krsna, Krsna has come into your temple in a form which you can very easily serve. Krsna does not require your service, but He is so kind that He is accepting your service. You are bathing the Deity, you are dressing the Deity, offering flowers, garlands. And whatever preparation you can make, you are offering Krsna. So Krsna has accepted your service in a form which you can handle. That is His energy. And if you want to serve Krsna in His gigantic form, universal form, you do not know where to catch Him. That is not possible."
The secret of real enjoyment, Prabhupada concluded, was allowing oneself to be enjoyed by Krsna.
"The devotees are always anxious: 'Krsna is the enjoyer, and we are the enjoyed. So our business is to see how I am being enjoyed by Krsna, by serving Him.' This is devotion. This is Krsna consciousness. As long as you want to enjoy the material world, you remain in the material world. And as soon as you offer yourself to be enjoyed by Krsna as servant, according to His order you serve, and then immediately you are in the spiritual world.
"So you can be in the material world or the spiritual world as you desire. If you want to remain in the spiritual world, this temple is the spiritual world. We are not living in Melbourne. This temple is not Melbourne. It is Vaikuntha. It is Vrndavana."
Wednesday, June 26
A few devotees, eager to see whether Prabhupada's arrival had received any publicity, waited outside the local news agency for the morning papers.
The previous night's Herald had already published a frivolous article, entitled "Even the Divine Get Blueys" [Blueys are parking tickets.] The writers disapproved of Prabhupada's use of a Rolls Royce.
It was obvious from the superficial news reports that despite this being Prabhupada's fourth visit to Australia most reporters still had no idea of Prabhupada's actual position. To the press, Prabhupada was just another celebrity in a constant parade of faces and events.
The morning's Age followed in the same vein, with another sarcastic headline: "Divine Grace Comes Rollsing In." It also displayed the press's fascination with the trivial:
"Sixty young Hare Krsna devotees yesterday welcomed their earthly leader to the city with obeisances—but official Melbourne met him coolly. His Divine Grace Bhaktivedanta Swami Prabhupada came out of the airport to find pink parking tickets on the windscreens of his Rolls Royce and two supporting cars. ..."
The devotees were already disgusted with the fault-finding and negative press. But an article on page two of the morning's Sun topped it off. A reporter who had visited the previous night had totally misconstrued Prabhupada's warnings about the dangers of sinking down to the animal kingdom. He had come to an amazing conclusion:
"Krishna Sect Founder: 'I'll Return as Animal.'
"His Divine Grace A.C. Bhaktivedanta Swami Prabhupada is resigned to dying soon, then returning to Earth as an animal. ..."
Amogha Dasa at once started working on a letter to the editor, asking that he publish what Prabhupada had actually said. By the time Prabhupada returned from his walk, the whole temple was discussing the article. "What will Prabhupada think about it?" the devotees wondered.
The bright morning sun shone through the saffron curtains behind Prabhupada's red and orange vyasasana (guru's seat). Prabhupada was giving the morning class from the Second Canto of the Srimad-Bhagavatam to a packed temple room. The business of a saintly person, he explained, was to perform welfare work for the people in general. And the best welfare is to awaken people to their sad-dharma, or real occupational duties.
"At the moment, I may be working as an American, or a European, or an Australian, but this is temporary because the body is temporary. As soon as this body is finished, I will begin another chapter of duty. Suppose this life I am a human being; next life I may not be a human being."
Prabhupada paused. Grinning, he looked around the room. "This statement was not liked by the newspaper man."
The devotees laughed. Obviously, Prabhupada had read the article.
"He was told that next life you can become animal, so he has published in my name, 'The Swami can become an animal.' The Swami can become an animal. The so-called swamis, they will become animals." More laughter.
"So that is not wrong. But we devotees, we are not afraid of becoming animals. Our only ambition is that we become Krsna conscious. So the animals—the cows, the calves who are Krsna conscious ... You have seen the picture of Krsna? Yes. So, better that we should become animal of Krsna.
"So there is nothing wrong. Even if we become an animal of Krsna, that is also very worthy. That is not an ordinary thing. Any associate of Krsna, either His cowherd boyfriends, or calves or cows, or the Vrndavana trees, plants, flowers, or water—they are all devotees of Krsna. They like to serve Krsna in different capacities. So to become an animal of Krsna is a great, great fortune."
The devotees were delighted to see Prabhupada take positive meaning from the foolish article. But there was more. He explained that simply the printing of the holy names Hare Krsna greatly benefited the readers, regardless of whether the names were mentioned in reverence or disrespect.
"In the newspaper you hear so much news. But if you hear something about Krsna, that is the only perfect thing. That news has been published in many morning papers: 'Krishna,' 'the leader of the Krishna movement,' or 'this Hare Krishna movement.' There is some vibration of the word Krsna. That makes the atmosphere purified, surcharged. So many thousands and millions of people will read 'Krsna,' willingly or unwillingly. That is their profit. Immediately when they once utter the word Krsna, they become benefited.
"Never mind what is the news. We don't care for that. But because they will utter the word Krsna, that is their profit, and that is our profit for the Krsna consciousness movement. So, thank you very much."
Gopikanta, an enthusiastic full-time book distributor, asked Prabhupada what was the exact benefit for a person who took the Srimad-Bhagavatam on the street and gave a donation.
"That is already explained," Prabhupada said. "They will read. They will see the picture of Krsna. The immediate profit is that they will ask, 'What is this picture?' And you will say, 'Krsna.' 'Oh?' they say. 'It is Krsna?' From the beginning of the book—from the cover—the benefit begins, because uttering the word Krsna is beneficial. Then if he reads—of course, if he pays for the book, he will read it. So he has a chance to know about Krsna. His life becomes sublime."
Later in his room, Prabhupada said that his spiritual master, Srila Bhaktisiddhanta Sarasvati, in considering whether articles were worthy for publication, would count how many times the word Krsna or Caitanya had been used. If these holy names had been quoted sufficiently, he would say, "That's all right. This can be used."
Prabhupada turned to Caru Dasa.
"So, how many times has this man mentioned the word Krsna in the article?"
Caru quickly counted.
"Seventeen times, Prabhupada."
"And how many people live in Melbourne?"
"At least a couple of million, Prabhupada."
"So that's seventeen multiplied by two million times that the holy name of Krsna has been chanted."
Kurma Dasa, an Australian disciple of Srila Prabhupada's, is one of the Hare Krsna movement's most famous chefs. He is the author of Great Vegetarian Dishes and appears in the ITV (ISKCON Television) video series Cooking with Kurma.
Confidential Servant of the Lord
By Lokanath Swami
SRILA PRABHUPADA appeared in this world just a day after the celebration of Lord Krsna's appearance day. We followers of Srila Prabhupada's see this as a sign of his intimate relationship with the Lord. The Vedic literature teaches us that because a spiritual master such as Srila Prabhupada is the Lord's most confidential servant, we must honor him as much as we honor the Supreme Lord Himself. We are therefore honoring Srila Prabhupada throughout his Centennial Year and especially on the 100th anniversary of his appearance day.
Srila Prabhupada often said, "I am not God, and you are not God, but we are eternal servants of God." Although we are all servants of God, most of us have forgotten our positions. Prabhupada, however, was a self-realized servant of the Lord, as we can understand by examining the selfless work he performed on behalf of the Lord.
In Bhagavad-gita (4.8) Lord Krsna says, "To deliver the pious and to annihilate the miscreants, as well as to reestablish the principles of religion, I Myself appear, millennium after millennium." Srila Prabhupada writes in his purport to this verse that the Lord sometimes comes to earth Himself and sometimes sends His empowered representatives to carry out His mission. Let us briefly consider Srila Prabhupada's contributions to the Lord's mission on the earth.
To Deliver the Pious
To shelter pious and sincere souls, Srila Prabhupada founded the International Society for Krishna Consciousness. The Society's schools, farms, and temples are spiritual oases that give relief to faithful devotees in the desert of material existence. And the different aspects of the Society such as Deity worship, Food for Life, congregational chanting, and spiritual festivals are meant to revive the devotion of pious souls and prepare them to return to the spiritual kingdom of the Lord.
To Annihilate the Miscreants
Following in the footsteps of Sri Caitanya Mahaprabhu, Srila Prabhupada worked to curb down the demoniac tendencies of the people of this age. Prabhupada spoke out strongly against anything or anyone opposed to Krsna consciousness. His words were razor sharp, his books bombs smashing illusion. His Bhaktivedanta purports will continue to devastate atheistic opponents for thousand of years to come.
To Reestablish The Principles of Religion
Real religion is one: to serve the Supreme Personality of Godhead. Srila Prabhupada translated bhakti not just as "devotion" but as "devotional service," to emphasize that devotional service is the eternal occupation of all living entities.
Lord Caitanya Mahaprabhu introduced the main process of devotional service for the present age: the chanting of the holy names of the Lord. Lord Caitanya spread the holy names within India. And Srila Prabhupada said that Lord Caitanya had left to the International Society for Krishna Consciousness the job of spreading the holy names to the rest of the world. When Prabhupada first came to America, he chanted by himself in New York City. Later, he encouraged his disciples to chant and dance through the streets of cities all over the world.
Centennial T-shirts, pens, badges, posters, bags, photo frames, key chains, etc.
Centennial Master Plan
Harinama Manual (by Indradyumna Swami)
Food For Life Manual
Centennial Coloring Book
For more information about publications and promotional items, contact your national Centennial office or:
Centennial Global Ministry Centennial House
62 Sant Nagar
New Delhi 110065, India
Phone: +91 (011) 6469633 or 6481977. Fax: +91 (011) 6225277 or 6872378.
VIHE Courses in Vrndavana: October 14-November 8
Vraja Mandala Parikrama: October 25-November 25
Opening of Prabhupada's Samadhi in Vrndavana: November 14
Feed the World Day: November 23
World Enlightenment Day: December 14
Second International Congress for the Synthesis of Science and Religion—Synthesis II Calcutta, January 6-12, 1997
Global Centennial Awards Ceremony in Mayapur March 22, 1997
News and Events
ISKCON Social Development Conference
In early July forty devotees attended a two-day conference on social development within ISKCON. The conference, held at Radhadesh, ISKCON's center in Septon-Durbuy, Belgium, was the third in a series of conferences meant to develop recommendations to the GBC (ISKCON's governing body) concerning ISKCON's social structure. The discussions at Radhadesh centered mostly on the importance of the grhastha asrama, or married life in Krsna consciousness.
Guests from Europe and America joined nearly one thousand devotees from all over the Commonwealth of Independent States for the twenty-fifth anniversary of Krsna consciousness in Russia. The event took place in Moscow on July 14. Syamasundara Dasa, who had accompanied Srila Prabhupada on his visit to Moscow in 1971, guided a tour of the places they had stayed at or visited. Special guests were Professor C. G. Kotovski, whom Srila Prabhupada had met during his visit, and Ananta Santi Dasa, Srila Prabhupada's only disciple in Russia. The event coincided with the arrival in Moscow of Padayatra Europe—a group of devotees completing a 10,000-km walk from Belfast.
On August 7 devotees gathered in temples worldwide to remember the early days of ISKCON and review its purposes, as given by Srila Prabhupada when he incorporated the Society in 1966. Devotees discussed the successes and failures of their respective centers and made plans for improvement. In many places devotees passed out pamphlets explaining the Society's goals, purposes, and history.
Other Centennial News
TV Series on Srila Prabhupada
In India, a weekly television series about Srila Prabhupada is now on the air, in Hindi. The series is called "Abhay Charan—The Life and Teachings of Srila Prabhupada." Doordarshan, Indian national TV, broadcast the first episode on September 7, the day after Srila Prabhupada's appearance. The series is scheduled to run for at least 104 weeks. Producer: Bhakti Caru Swami.
Bhaktivedanta Swami Circle is the new name for the street in front of ISKCON's temple in Durban, South Africa. The city renamed it in honor of Srila Prabhupada.
New Books About Srila Prabhupada
The Centennial Year has inspired many devotees to publish their memories and realizations of Srila Prabhupada. Many books about Prabhupada are already available, and more are expected before the end of the year. Here is a list of books we know about:
Acarya—Portraits of Srila Prabhupada, by Sesa Dasa
The Jaladuta Diary, by The Bhaktivedanta Archives
Journey to the Pacific Rim, by Bali Mardana Dasa
My Glorious Master, by Bhurijana Dasa
Srila Prabhupada and His Disciples in Germany, by Vedavyasa Dasa
One Hundred Prabhupada Poems, by Satsvarupa Dasa Goswami
Prabhupada Sayings, by Aditya Dasi
Srila Prabhupada At Radha Damodara, by Mahanidhi Swami
Srila Prabhupada's Visit to Malaysia, by Janananda Dasa
A Transcendental Diary, Vols. 1-3, by Hari Sauri Dasa (more volumes to come)
*Some of these books are available through the Hare Krsna Catalog. For more information call toll free 1-800-800-3284.
By His Example, by Guru Dasa
The Early Days, by Govinda Dasi
Prabhupada's '66 New York Diary,
by The Bhaktivedanta Archives
Prabhupada Teaching His Lady Disciples, by Andarupa Dasi
Srila Prabhupada in Australia, by Kurma Dasa
Srila Prabhupada in Bombay, by Giriraja Swami
Srila Prabhupada in France, by Jyotir Mayi Dasi
Srila Prabhupada in Italy, by Supta Vigraha Dasa
Srila Prabhupada in Mexico, by Maharsi Dasa
Srila Prabhupada in the UK, by Mahakratu Dasa
Srila Prabhupada in Venezuela, by Jagad Caksu Dasa
Accepting a Spiritual Master
By Urmila Devi Dasi
THIS MONTH (September) we celebrate Srila Prabhupada's one-hundredth birthday anniversary. To honor Srila Prabhupada, our children can sing his praises, decorate his seat, write homages to him, and help cook a feast in his honor. Honoring Prabhupada in these ways is important, but our children really honor him when they become his students.
The Vedic idea of a student differs from that of the Western idea. The Western student hears a subject or learns a skill, pays his fee, and then goes his way. The Vedic student finds a self-realized teacher and becomes inspired to take a great vow of lifetime dedication as his disciple. (The child should be at least twelve years old at initiation, so that he or she can take vows with personal conviction. Generally, our children are older than twelve at initiation, but twelve is the minimum age.)
Discipleship implies that a student voluntarily, with love, dedicates body, mind, and words to the guru's pleasure. True discipleship is the secret of success in spiritual life, because what pleases the guru pleases God, Lord Krsna.
Because the complete dedication of a disciple gives a guru great influence over the disciple, our children need to learn the qualities of a saintly person before determining at whose feet they will lay their life. They should then spend at least a year observing and serving under a person whose behavior and instructions reflect the qualities they have studied.
And our children must become qualified to be disciples. As reputable universities examine prospective students though complex entrance procedures and examinations, a guru examines a prospective disciple for a year to see that the knowledge will be given to one who is worthy. Adults in the child's family, school, and community should help the child become fit for initiation and able to recognize a bona fide guru. Our teaching children to become qualified disciples is similar to a guidance counselor's helping a student pick a good college and meet the college's entrance criteria.
The mutual examination of guru and disciple implies that our children must find a spiritual master present before them. So although our children become convinced that Prabhupada showed all saintly qualities during his life, it is one of Prabhupada's disciples who must examine them and accept them and whom they must accept as representing Prabhupada, as Prabhupada represented his spiritual master.
After the prospective guru and disciple are satisfied with their examination of each other, the disciple takes a formal vow at initiation. Childhood should be a preparation for the moment when one vows to abstain for life from illicit sex, meat-eating, intoxication, and gambling. Clearly a child whose family and friends are free from these vices is at an advantage. A disciple in ISKCON also vows to daily chant sixteen rounds of the Hare Krsna mantra on a strand of 108 beads.* Such a vow requires a background of maturity and self-discipline in the child's life.
The initiation ceremony isn't simply some cultural ritual or rite of passage; it is completely on the spiritual platform. The years of sacrifice by the child's parents and teachers succeed when the child formally commits to the school of Krsna consciousness, where Krsna Himself is the headmaster and the gurus are the teachers. There is no better way for our children to glorify Prabhupada.
Urmila Devi Dasi, initiated in 1973, has worked in ISKCON education since 1983.
Varnasrama Village for the Twenty-First Century
By Hare Krsna Devi Dasi
I'VE WRITTEN HERE about Srila Prabhupada's plans to spread Krsna consciousness by developing varnasrama, the Vedic social system. If put into place in the coming century, what would varnasrama be like? A clue lies in what Srila Prabhupada said when asked how he planned to establish varnasrama: "I will go to Gita Nagari [ISKCON's farm in Pennsylvania]. I will sit down, and I will teach you how to live off the land."
Varnasrama is a social system based on the principle of simple living. But how does living off the land call for a whole social system? Suppose I want to be a vaisya, a farmer. Wouldn't getting a cow and planting some crops make me a vaisya? Not really.
I need cooperation from other groups. The essence of varnasrama is that each group must fulfill responsibilities that together provide for everyone's material needs and, ultimately, spiritual progress.
Let's take a look at the help I need to be a varnasrama farmer.
First of all, I need some land. In varnasrama, the ksatriya, or administrator, gives land to farmers like me. He also keeps law and order in society and provides for occupational training. (Traditionally, children would learn farming from their parents. Today, because most parents don't know farming, children would more likely learn at Krsna conscious school. In either case, the ksatriya is responsible to see they are properly trained.) A farmer not trained in growing crops, conserving soil, managing waste, caring for animals, and so on, will create havoc for himself and his community. So if I want to be a vaisya, the ksatriya provides what I need for training. In return for land, training, and protection, I give him twenty-five percent of what I produce.
Now I have land, animals, and some training, but I still can't work. I have no house to live in, no equipment to farm with. And even though I'm expert in growing crops and caring for my cows and oxen, I can't do all the work myself. I need assistant laborers, or sudras. In return for their labor, I make sure they have adequate food, clothing, and housing.
So we now have three social groups: vaisyas (farmers), ksatriyas (administrators), and sudras (laborers and craftsmen). We need a fourth group. Although ksatriyas provide the schools and support the teachers (Prabhupada spoke of a "varnasrama college"), the actual teachers are brahmanas. In return for training and spiritual guidance, as a vaisya I make generous donations of food to the brahmanas and help provide their maintenance.
In addition to training citizens in occupational skills, the brahmanas give spiritual guidance to ensure that everyone works as an offering to Krsna [See sidebar, page 56]. By encouraging religious festivals and daily worship of the Deity, the brahmanas enliven people with the higher taste of spiritual life. That taste helps people give up selfish and destructive material desires. As a vaisya, I give money and whatever else I can in support of religious activities.
I've focused on vaisyas just to give a glimpse of the kinds of interaction required in a varnasrama society. Each group helps and gets help from the other groups. They work together for spiritual progress.
Srila Prabhupada wanted to set up varnasrama not only at Gita Nagari but all over the world. In 1977 Tamal Krsna Goswami, Srila Prabhupada's secretary at the time, described Prabhupada's enthusiasm for a new Australian farm project:
Srila Prabhupada was most enlivened to hear the report of the New Govardhana Farm. [He] said, "This is the next aspect of Krsna consciousness which I wish to push forward. If I am able to travel again, then I shall visit the farms and make them perfect. On these farms we can demonstrate the full varnasrama system. If these farms become successful, then the whole world will be enveloped by Krsna consciousness."
By creating rural varnasrama villages according to Srila Prabhupada's vision, the Krsna consciousness movement can change the state of the world in the twenty-first century from collapse and despair to meaningful social progress and spiritual fulfillment.
Hare Krsna Devi Dasi, an ISKCON devotee since 1978, is co-editor of the newsletter Hare Krsna Rural Life.
Different Offerings, Same Access to Spiritual Gain
IN VARNASRAMA the underlying goal of daily work is to please the Supreme Lord. Different workers in a rural community make different offerings, but everyone has an equal opportunity for spiritual progress.
A sudra makes his offering to the Lord using material elements and his own talents or services. A sudra may create a sculpture or a painting or a building. He may create a song or a dance or some music. He may make a saw or a wagon or an ox yoke. He may clean, help farm, repair buildings, or do clerical work. In a Krsna conscious society, a sudra can do these and similar tasks in a devotional consciousness and offer them to Krsna.
The vaisya makes his offering using plants and animals. He raises crops, takes care of cows, and trades his surplus, providing the food needed by society. He should offer to the Lord both his produce and his labor.
The ksatriya makes his offering by carefully leading and protecting the citizens. He must follow the Vedic aphorism sarve sukhino bhavantu: "Make everyone happy." The ksatriya can offer Krsna a well-organized society where each person can become spiritually satisfied doing his occupational duty.
The brahmana makes his offering to the Lord by using knowledge, scripture, and sacred paraphernalia. For example, he may use lamps and incense to worship the Deity in the temple, or in the role of teacher he may use practical knowledge to train others in their occupations while revealing to them the spiritual dimension of work.
The greatest enemies to progressive spiritual culture in human society are the old fossils of political parties who are blind themselves and who try to lead other blind men. They bring about disaster in a peaceful human society.
His Divine Grace A.C. Bhaktivedanta Swami Prabhupada
A pure devotee of the Lord ... will not give up his shelter at the lotus feet of the Lord for a single moment—indeed, not for half a moment—even in exchange for the benediction of ruling and enjoying the opulence of the entire universe.
Sri Havir Rsi
The conditioned soul sometimes personally appreciates the futility of sense enjoyment in the material world, and he sometimes considers material enjoyment to be full of miseries. However, due to his strong bodily conception, his memory is destroyed, and again and again he runs after material enjoyment, just as an animal runs after a mirage in the desert.
The highest, best, and most spiritual ideal of the Divinity is to be found in Krsna. To bring arguments against Him is simply to deceive one's self and deprive one's self of the blessings that God has kept in store for man.
Srila Bhaktivinoda Thakura
The pure devotee is always within the core of My heart, and I am always in the heart of the pure devotee. My devotees do not know anything else but Me, and I do not know anyone else but them.
Lord Sri Krsna
In the association of pure devotees, discussion of the pastimes of the Supreme Personality of Godhead is very pleasing and satisfying to the ear and heart. By cultivating such knowledge one gradually becomes advanced on the path of liberation, and thereafter he is freed, and his attraction becomes fixed. Then real devotion and devotional service begin.