Statement of Purposes
1. To help all people discern reality from illusion, spirit from matter, the eternal from the temporary.
The Hare Krishna Virus
WORD SPREAD ON THE INTERNET of a new threat to computers—"The Hare Krishna Virus." According to reports, the infectious computer code was timed to go off in September, and it was a nasty one: It would attack your hard disk and erase everything on it, and along the way leave you hardly more than a few telltale words: "Hare Krishna, Hare Krishna ..."
Well, the date for the viral epidemic came and went, with hardly more than a few sneezes. McAfee Associates, a leading supplier of anti-virus software, said the Hare Krishna Virus had turned up on perhaps ten computers, and with no heavy damage. The epidemic, it seemed, was a dud.
We're relieved to hear the virus failed to catch. Picture thousands of computers and networks going down all over the world, gasping "Hare Krishna, Hare Krishna ..." with their last breath. A public-relations disaster.
By Krsna's grace, we escaped the disaster, and computer users worldwide escaped the infection. Or did they?
Here were all these computer people all over the world, talking about the Hare Krishna Virus. You could see the messages flying around the Net: "Hare Krishna. ... Hare Krishna. ... Hare Krishna. ..." What in the world had gotten into them?
It was the Hare Krishna Virus after all. Not the one that exterminates your hard disc, but the one that spells the end for your entanglement in the material world.
"Hare Krsna"—these are names of the Absolute, the Supreme, the Personality of Godhead. And because the Absolute is absolute, there's no difference between Krsna the name and Krsna the person. They are identical. So anyone who chants the transcendental vibration "Hare Krsna"—for any reason at all—comes at once in touch with Krsna, the Supreme.
Even if you don't know what you're chanting, when you chant "Hare Krsna" the potency of the vibration will act. It's like medicine—whether or not you understand the chemistry, it works.
The Vedic scriptures say that even if you don't mean to do it, even if you do it as a joke, even if you do it negligently, chanting Hare Krsna cleanses the heart.
We are entangled in material existence, in an endless cycle of birth and death, because of dirt that has built up in our hearts over countless lifetimes. It is that dirt that keeps us covered by illusion, by perplexity, by anxiety and sorrow.
But the Vedic scriptures say that simply by chanting Hare Krsna, even unthinkingly, one can be freed from more dirt than can possibly heap up. And what to speak of chanting Hare Krsna seriously and sincerely, with devotion.
Our computer crowd, of course, wasn't chanting with devotion—but somehow or other they were reciting the holy name of Krsna. And a purifying effect was taking place.
The Bhagavad-gita says that whatever spiritual headway you make stays with you, even into the next life; it is never lost. Even one inadvertent "Hare Krsna" may be what leads in the end to freedom from birth and death.
We're down on computer viruses—they're pernicious. But whoever wrote that Hare Krishna Virus gave it the best of names.
The Task of Saving Hinduism
Thank you BTG for standing firm in your resolve not to bow down to pressures from the so-called defenders of Hinduism. I used to be one of those millions of Hindus who hesitated to proclaim my faith openly and be proud of it. The reason? Simple: Nobody, no organization, no book, no magazine has ever explained, discussed, and analyzed Hinduism the way Srila Prabhupada, ISKCON, Bhagavad-gita As It Is and BTG have done.
At the countless "Hindu" prayers and ceremonies I have been to, barely a single reference has been made to the Bhagavad-gita or any other Vedic scriptures. All I heard was what the speakers had to say, and believe me they had a lot to say—but none of it based on our scriptures.
"Who is Krsna, Siva, Brahma, Ganesa ...?" They would say. "They are all one." This simplistic answer might satisfy some, but most of us would still go home with many unanswered questions.
Such speakers have made everything so simple. They have reduced Hinduism to a cheap "idea." Go to the temple once a week. Be a vegetarian on Fridays or Tuesdays. And the rest of the time do what you please. In the end you will merge into the light.
"I thought God was Krsna, Siva, Brahma ...?"
"Well yes, they are, but they are also light."
"So why don't we just pray to the light?"
"Well, it's the same. Everything is the same. Everything is one. Everything is light."
These are some of the explanations given by Hindu "scholars" in my country, and I suspect that the same thing is happening the world over.
When a person of a different faith condemns them for praying to "stones" and "objects," they will quickly explain that these are only symbolic, nothing more. Such scholars do not have the guts and the knowledge to stand firm and explain confidently that God and His form, name, fame, and pastimes are one and the same because God is omnipotent and omnipresent. And when someone Krsna conscious gives an explanation contrary to their beliefs but in accordance with the scriptures, these so-called scholars will use political and cultural sentiments to plead their case. They will use words such as "fanatics" and "misguided." Well, at least the "fanatics" are chanting the glories of God all over the world. They are showing the world what India and Hinduism really have to offer human civilization.
I beg you to keep on telling the truth. Don't surrender your convictions. Send your chanting parties to every country. For many, including myself, you are the only sensible thing in this confusing material world.
Prabhupada defeated Western scholars who misinterpreted Hinduism. Now you have the unpleasant task of saving Hinduism from within—that is, from Hindus themselves.
Thank you. Jai Sri Krsna.
Keep Up the Great Work
You have a box in Back to Godhead that says we don't complain enough. I don't know of any other publication that is so transcendentally blissful as this one. You deliver the nectar of Srila Prabhupada and his disciples in a clear, cogent, and relishable form that will help a suffering humanity to come to its senses.
Keep up the great work you are doing. Srila Prabhupada must be very pleased with you for this wonderful service.
Moving Toward a Cruelty-Free World
Recently my wife and I have given up drinking milk and all milk products. This is because we were shocked to learn about the inhumanity of raising cows for milk production, including the shocking revelation that cows in the US are regularly fed animal products—including other cows! This is what led to mad-cow disease in the UK.
Srila Prabhupada wanted us to drink cow's milk, and this made sense in Vedic India, where cows were treated properly, (and perhaps modern India as well). But in the modern Western world milk has associated with it countless negative karmas. How can it be right for us to support this inhuman activity? There is a large group of pure vegetarians ("vegans") in this country who avoid milk and meat products. Should we not belong to that group?
Vitamin B12 can be received from other sources (certain yeasts, breakfast cereals, etc.), so there is nothing inherently healthy about milk. "Organically grown" milk is not available where we live. My wife and I would like to hear ISKCON's views about drinking milk when it is produced so cruelly.
Dave and Bharti Kythe
OUR REPLY: The Vedic scriptures tell us that drinking milk is important for developing the finer intelligence that will help us in spiritual realization. And we saw that Srila Prabhupada, even while in the West, offered milk to Krsna and drank milk regularly.
The way cows are exploited, especially in the West, is sinful. And those responsible will suffer sinful reactions. But one cannot become pure simply by avoiding milk.
In Kali-yuga, nearly everything involves exploitation. Even simple fruits and vegetables—soaked with chemicals, and grown by big corporations, and harvested by workers paid a pittance. In this age, nothing is pure.
Animal products are everywhere—photo film, car tires, computer chips ...
What can be done?
We simply follow in the footsteps of Srila Prabhupada. He was keenly aware of the evils of Kali-yuga. And he was the greatest advocate of love and protection for Krsna's cows. Still, he continued to offer Krsna the Kali-yuga milk available and accept it. And all the while he encouraged us to establish our own communities, where cows would be properly protected.
This material world is a bad bargain. Materially speaking, our life here can never be pure. But by dedicating our lives wholeheartedly to the devotional service of Krsna, we can rise above the inevitable impurities of this material world—by going back to the only world where everything is pure, the spiritual world of Lord Krsna.
In Accordance with Srila Prabhupada's Instruction
Thank you for the August issue of BTG. It reminded me of earlier editions, full of pictures of happy devotees on sankirtana, in accordance with Srila Prabhupada's instruction. The cover was beautiful, all of Srila Prabhupada's selections were wonderful, and among the articles, "Madana Mohana Verses Madonna" and "Prepared for Death" especially appealed to me. In all, it was an issue I enjoyed reading and felt confident distributing.
Real devotees are not after rewards.
A lecture given in Bombay, April 1, 1974
by His Divine Grace A.C. Bhaktivedanta Swami Prabhupada
kanksantah karmanam siddhim
"Men in this world desire success in fruitive activities, and therefore they worship the demigods. Quickly, of course, men get results from fruitive work in this world."—Bhagavad-gita 4.12
Last night we were discussing the previous verse:
ye yatha mam prapadyante
"As all surrender unto Me, I reward them accordingly. Everyone follows My path in all respects, O son of Prtha."
EVERYONE IS SEEKING the Absolute Truth in different ways. Worship of the demigods is one way of searching after the Absolute Truth, the Supreme Personality of Godhead. Therefore demigod worship is recommended in the Vedas, in the upasana-kanda.
The Vedas are divided into three kandas, or divisions: karma-kanda, for fruitive work; jnana-kanda, for philosophical speculation; and upasana-kanda, for demigod worship. Therefore one name for the Vedas is trayi, "three."
The Srimad-Bhagavatam states, stri-sudra-dvijabandhunam trayi na sruti-gocara: "Women, the laboring class, and friends of the twice-born cannot understand the Vedas." Dvija-bandhu—"friends of the twiceborn"—refers to those who are born in families of brahmanas [intellectuals], ksatriyas [administrators], or vaisyas [farmers and merchants] but who do not possess the qualities of these higher classes.
A brahmana's qualifications are given in the Bhagavad-gita (18.41):
samo damas tapah saucam
"Peacefulness, self-control, austerity, purity, tolerance, honesty, knowledge, wisdom, and religiousness—these are the natural qualities by which the brahmanas work."
The ksatriyas' qualities are also given (18.42):
sauryam tejo dhrtir daksyam
"Heroism, power, determination, resourcefulness, courage in battle, generosity, and leadership are the natural qualities of work for the ksatriyas."
The duties of the vaisyas are given (18.44):
"Farming, cow protection, and business are the natural work for the vaisyas."
And, finally, the duties of the sudras are given (18.44):
"For sudras there is labor and service to others."
A sudra is satisfied by serving somebody, just as a dog is satisfied to have a nice master.
To get success in a particular type of occupational duty, people sometimes worship the demigods. That is described here. Like us, demigods are also living entities, and all living entities are part and parcel of Krsna. Mamaivamso jiva-loke jiva-bhutah sanatanah. There is no difference between the demigods and us, but they are more fortunate to have gotten the post of Candra [the moon-god], Surya [the sun-god], Indra [the king of the heavenly planets], Brahma [the chief demigod], and so on.
To get success in material activities, people sometimes worship demigods. But in the Bhagavad-gita Lord Krsna explains that although in one sense demigod worship is worship of Him—because the demigods are part of Him—demigod worship is avidhi-purvakam, done "in a wrong way." The vidhi, or "rule," is to worship the Supreme Personality of Godhead. Demigod worship is something like bribing a doorman to enter the room of a great officer.
By demigod worship one can get results very quickly. But the results are antavat, "limited." Bhakti, however, is unlimited. The less intelligent worship the demigods instead of the Supreme Personality of Godhead. In India especially we will find many devotees of the demigods. These devotees are not actually devotees. Devotion can only be in connection with the Supreme Personality of Godhead. Those who worship the demigods are not devotees, because they want to get a reward from the demigods. But bhakti is not like that. The bhaktas, devotees, are not after any reward from the Supreme Personality of Godhead. That is the difference between bhakti and demigod worship.
Caitanya Mahaprabhu teaches us bhakti. He says, na dhanam na janam na sundarim kavitam va jagad-isa kamaye: "My Lord, I do not wish to ask from You opulence, riches, a nice wife, or many followers." These are material opulences. So Caitanya Mahaprabhu says, "I do not want all these things." Mama janmani janmanisvare bhavatad bhaktir ahaituki tvayi: "I only want Your causeless devotional service birth after birth." That is the desire of a devotee. He doesn't want liber-ation. He wants to serve the lotus feet of the Lord birth after birth—janmani janmani. That is his aspiration.
The karma-kandiya, those on the platform of fruitive activities, are generally attracted by demigod worship. But those detached from material happiness become attached to Krsna. We have to choose whether for temporary benefit we shall worship demigods or for permanent benefit we shall worship Krsna. That is our choice. But people generally choose the immediate result (ksipram hi manuse loke siddhir bhavati). That immediate result may be palatable in the beginning, but it will produce bitter results at the end. But that we do not consider.
The immediate result and the remote result are described by the Sanskrit words sreyas and preyas. Preyas means "immediate benefit," and sreyas means "ultimate benefit." Those interested in the ultimate benefit go back home, back to Godhead. For them, worshiping the Supreme Lord is most beneficial. And those interested in temporary benefit worship demigods. They may pray to goddess Durga, dhanam dehi, rupam dehi, yaso dehi: "Give me wealth. Give me beauty. Give me fame." They forget that whatever material benefit they get will be lost with the end of the material body, when everything is lost. In the Bhagavad-gita Lord Krsna says, mrtyuh sarva-haras caham: "At the end, I, as death, take away all your material possessions."
So to desire temporary benefits is not good. Because we are eternal—nityo nityanam cetanas cetananam—we should be after eternal happiness, eternal benefit. That should be our business. Therefore we should not be karmis, fruitive workers. Neither should we become jnanis, mental speculators. We should become yogis. And what kind of yogi? Bhakti-yogi.
There are different types of yoga practice. Out of them, bhakti-yoga is the topmost. Krsna says, bhaktya mam abhijanati yavan yas casmi tattvatah: "I can be understood only through bhakti." Without being in bhakti-yoga one cannot be happy or understand Krsna or one's relationship with Krsna. Evam prasanna-manaso bhagavad-bhakti-yogatah.
We hold this class for the benefit of human society. The Krsna consciousness movement is meant to allow us to constantly hear about Krsna, talk about Krsna, chant about Krsna, eat about Krsna, work for Krsna, sleep for Krsna, walk for Krsna. Anything we do in relationship to Krsna is pious. Punya-sravana-kirtanah. Srila Rupa Gosvami recommends, nirbandhah krsna-sambandhe yuktam vairagyam ucyate: dovetail everything with Krsna activities, Krsna consciousness. Then our life will be successful.
Krsna is sitting within your heart. When He sees that you are very serious about Him, then He helps you. We have many dirty things within our heart, but as soon as we begin to hear about Krsna they become washed away. Now we are hearing from Krsna in the Bhagavad-gita. Krsna is speaking about Himself. Krsna is speaking about the situation of the material world. He'll speak about the spiritual world. Everything is there in the Bhagavad-gita. So if you regularly hear, that is the beginning of your success in life.
The Vedas are called sruti, "hearing." One has to hear the Vedas from the right person. That is the recommendation of Sri Caitanya Maha- prabhu. Sthane sthitah sruti-gatam tanu-van-manobhih. To achieve success in self-realization or God realization, Sri Caitanya Mahaprabhu recommends, sthane sthitah: "Just stay in your present position, as a grhastha [householder] or as a brahmana or as a sannyasi [renunciant] or as a businessman or professional man—it doesn't matter." But, sruti-gatam tanu-van-manobhih: "Just try to hear about Krsna." Sruti-gatam means "aural reception." Tanu-van-manobhih: "And try to employ your body, words, and mind in Krsna's service."
Ye prayaso 'jita jito 'py asi. One of Krsna's names is Ajita, "He who is never conquered." But anyone who, without speculation, humbly and meekly hears about Krsna from the realized soul will one day will be able to conquer the unconquerable.
The Krsna consciousness movement is meant to give everyone the chance to hear about Krsna. That hearing is the first process—sravanam. And when one has heard very nicely about Krsna, then one can speak about Krsna. And one must speak. One who has heard nicely about Krsna cannot remain without speaking about Krsna. He must speak or preach. Hear and preach about whom? Visnu, or Krsna.
sravanam kirtanam visnoh
"Hearing and chanting about Visnu, remembering Him, serving His lotus feet, worshiping Him, offering Him prayers, becoming His servant, becoming His friend, and offering everything to Him." These nine processes of Krsna consciousness are being pushed forward by the members of the Krsna consciousness movement all over the world. We have opened a center here in Bombay, the most important city of India. So we request you all to come every day and try to understand the philosophy of Krsna consciousness, based on Bhagavad-gita, Srimad-Bhagavatam, Vedanta-sutra, Ramayana, Mahabharata—all authentic scriptures. We are not concocting or giving false interpretations. We are presenting Bhagavad-gita as it is, without any deviation.
So if we take advantage of this process of understanding—srnvatam sva-kathah krsnah punya-sravana-kirtanah—then gradually we shall be free from the results of all our past sinful activities. Hrdy antah-stho hy abhadrani. Abhadrani means "inauspicious things accumulated within our heart." By krsna-kirtana—chanting about Krsna—our heart will be cleansed. Sri Caitanya Mahaprabhu recommends ceto-darpana-marjanam: The heart is like a mirror, and it can be cleansed by the chanting of Hare Krsna. As soon as the heart is cleansed we can understand what is Krsna, what I am, what my relationship is with Krsna, and how I should act in relation to Krsna. Understanding these things is the perfection of life.
Thank you very much.
Pure Bhakti—"It Requires
By Satsvarupa Dasa Goswami
WHAT THE Bhagavatam defines as religion far surpasses what most people think of as religion today. According to the Bhagavatam, religion means bhakti, pure devotion. Pure devotion is the only process by which we can rediscover our lost relationship with Krsna. Ultimately, it is performed in full consciousness of our spiritual identity. Until we know who we are in relation to Krsna, we cannot actually serve Krsna with our very selves.
For now, however, we can practice at devotion. That practice will provide us the opportunity to express our earnestness and sincerity to attain Krsna. If we have to sweat to surrender, we'll also have to see our unworthiness. Bhakti is not cheap.
Pure devotional service is not cheap, because it is free of all selfish desire. Even knowledge for knowledge's sake has to be left behind. That's why the practice of pure devotion can uncover and awaken our true identity as eternal, spiritual, blissful servants of the Supreme. "This relation of servant and the served is the most congenial form of intimacy."
This is not vague sentiment. Measure it against any stated goal of religion. The Bhagavatam says, "By rendering devotional service unto the Personality of Godhead, Sri Krsna, one immediately acquires causeless knowledge and detachment from the world." Attachment for the spiritual equals detachment from the material.
Lord Krsna awards pure devotional service through contact with His pure devotees. Pure devotion cannot be had through hard work or by renunciation, by detachment, or by any other means. Therefore, we call its attainment causeless.
Lord Krsna is present in everyone's heart. When He sees that we sincerely want to serve Him, He will give us the intelligence by which we can approach Him. All living beings serve Krsna—either out of love or because they are forced to by the laws of material nature. There are two similar words in Sanskrit that point to this: sastra and sastra. Sastra refers to the scriptures, the directions for religious life. Those who are intelligent obey the scriptures and follow the Lord. Sastra means "weapon." Those who refuse to follow the Lord are forced to surrender by the power of His weapons.
Being forced by the laws of nature to serve Krsna is like being in prison. Just look at how all of nature serves Krsna's purpose in this world. The plants clean the air, the earthworms aerate the soil, and one living being provides food for another. This is service but not bhakti, because there is no choice.
We want to render favorable service to Krsna. Srila Prabhupada says, "It requires nothing more than sincerity." And just imagine the result: "Only those who render unreserved, uninterrupted, favorable service unto the lotus feet of the Lord, who carries the wheel of the chariot in His hand, can know the creator of the universe in His full glory, power and transcendence."
How do we do it? Our constitutional position is to take the holy name into our minds and onto our lips. We chant to establish ourselves as tiny servants of God. We chant because we have survived another night and want to live another day in devotional service. We chant because we will have to meet death. We chant because Lord Krsna, the original person, is identical with His name, and because He is all-attractive.
We have come out of darkness by Prabhupada's mercy. Prabhupada said that he was not invited to come to America but he came anyway. No one here asked him to present the Bhagavatam, but he did it anyway. No one here asked him for the holy name, but he gave it anyway. Reluctantly, slowly, we have taken it. Prabhupada planted seeds of pure devotion indiscriminately. On Lord Caitanya's order, He did not screen prospective candidates. Rather, he distributed his mercy unconditionally just as the moon shines in everyone's yard whether one is rich or poor.
What does Srila Prabhupada say about the best way to attain pure devotional service? "Whenever you find time—you must find time—... read all these books, or chant. But when you are hungry, take prasadam. When you are sleepy, take a snap [that is, a nap], not very much, just to refresh. And go on, either chanting on the beads, reading the books, or talking about Krsna. In this way always remain in Krsna consciousness. ... Krsna consciousness means to remember Visnu always, twenty-four hours a day, some way or other. ... Everything Krsna. This is Krsna consciousness." (Lecture, May 31, 1972)
Satsvarupa Dasa Goswami travels extensively to speak and write about Krsna consciousness. He is the author of many books, including a six-volume biography of Srila Prabhupada.
Cooking Class: Lesson 27
By Yamuna Devi
VEGGIE BURGERS—once a favorite of vegetarians only—are now showing up in restaurants everywhere. President Clinton is purportedly a big fan of the veggie Boca Burger. In America several brands of veggie burgers are available in natural-food stores and supermarkets, and gourmet veggie burgers are served at fine restaurants from Maine to California. Whether served as is, inside a sesame-seed bun, or between slices of British bap, French croissant, Italian foccacia, or Middle Eastern pita, veggie burgers are here to stay.
India's closest equivalent to the veggie burger is a family of street snack foods called tikkis, translated as "veg cutlets," "veg chops," or "veg burgers." Tikkis are deep-, shallow-, or pan-fried, they're soft on the inside and crisp on the outside, and they feature the tastes and textures of several vegetables. Some tikkis are bound together with a little flour or some bread crumbs, and others are given a rich texture with chewy cooked grains.
Tikkis are traditionally served alone or as part of a full meal, with little more than a squeeze of lime juice or a dollop of chutney or tomato sauce. But India's food habits are in transition. I predict that soon classic tikki will more resemble American-style veggie burgers and be served as a fast meal sandwich from Chowpatty Beach to Howrah station.
Srila Prabhupada and Tikkis
Each region of India has favorite renditions of this food. My first Bengali sampling was cooked by Srila Prabhupada's sister Bhavatarini, lovingly known as Pishima, or "Auntie." She made tikkis for Prabhupada's lunch. They were somewhat complex—spicy mashed green peas enveloped with mashed potatoes and then with brayed panir cheese. She flattened them into small patties, dipped them into a thick chickpea-flour batter, and shallow-fried them in ghee until they were crisp and richly browned.
The minute Srila Prabhupada saw the tikki he smiled, nodded, and said, "Oh, she has made veg chop."
"Veg chop?" I asked, somewhat amazed.
Srila Prabhupada then said that this was a kind of tikki, a dish from his childhood. With my first bite I wanted to know more about tikkis.
Most of the tikki recipes in Lord Krishna's Cuisine I later prepared for Srila Prabhupada. They're versions he liked or requested. Now I'm always coming up with new versions and rarely make tikkis the same way twice. If you follow this series of cooking classes, try several tikkis from the book. If not, at least try the recipe below. (Don't be put off by the lengthy list of ingredients—eleven are pantry items.)
The yield for this recipe is generous. Use the recipe as a formula for inspiration and come up with several seasonal variations to your own liking.
NOTE: You may use more or less oil while frying, but too little will make the crust dry and brittle. Non-stick pans keep the patties from sticking to the pan. I find that these burgers are at their best when fried in flavored ghee or any type of flavored Consorzio olive oil.
Tikkis freeze well. Stack the cooled burgers between sheets of waxed paper and freeze them in well-sealed containers.
Yamuna Devi is the author of the award-winning cookbooks Lord Krishna's Cuisine: The Art of Indian Vegetarian Cooking and Yamuna's Table. She is a regular contributor to The Washington Post and Vegetarian Times. Write to her in care of BTG.
Tikkis: Indian-Style Veggie Burgers
This tikki is inspired by one served at the Mayfair Resort Restaurant in Jagannatha Puri. It includes beets for a red hue, potatoes and oats for binding, cooked grains and veggies for texture, and spices, chilies, and herbs for zest, heat, and flavor. I've never had any two batches of this recipe turn out exactly the same, so be ready to add more oats if the mixture is too moist, or more chilies if you want more heat.
1 tablespoon cold-pressed corn oil
Heat the oil in a large nonstick skillet over high heat. Drop in the mustard and cumin seeds, and when they begin to pop add the ginger and red pepper flakes. Fry until the cumin is toasty brown but not black.
Drop in the asafetida and within 5 seconds all the vegetables. Fry for 10 minutes, stirring frequently. Sprinkle in the flour, keep stirring, and cook for another 4 or 5 minutes. Set aside to cool.
Combine the remaining ingredients and cooled vegetables in a large bowl. Mix well with your hands. Season with salt and pepper. Using an oiled measuring cup, scoop up ½-cup portions and flatten each one into a 3 ½-inch smooth-edged patty. Place the patties on baking trays lined with waxed paper. Cover them and refrigerate them at least 4 hours, or better overnight.
To cook the patties, place 2 or 3 large nonstick frying pans over medium-high to high heat. Warm 2 tablespoons of oil in each pan for each batch. Place 3 or 4 patties in each pan and fry until richly browned, charred in places, 4 to 5 minutes per side. Use a gentle hand with the spatula as you turn the patties over. Transfer the patties to cookie racks to cool slightly and firm up while you fry the remaining patties. Offer to Krsna.
For entree service: Spoon hot tomato sauce on warmed dinner plates and place 2 burgers on each. Surround with 1 to 4 vegetable dishes.
For an Indian-style snack: Serve with a lime wedge or cashew chutney. To serve as burgers, melt a slice of good cheese on top and serve with your choice of toppings between rolls, rustic bread, or sliced foccacia.
Bhakti-yoga at Home
Giving Krsna Away
By Rohininandana Dasa
I OWE A LOT to Lord Krsna's devotees.
On an underground train in London many years ago, as I sat in my seat, alone and lost in thought, I heard a voice call to me—"Hey, man!" I glanced up to see a shaven-headed young man with what looked like a white tuning-fork painted on his forehead. As his intense eyes met mine he said, "You know, you don't have to smoke dope to get high."
Did I know? Yes. I'd been searching for natural ways to be happy. When I heard the devotee's words, I knew without a doubt he was right. I pondered what kind of high state might lie behind his serious yet smiling face. Although I didn't know it then, I'd just reached the end of a chapter of my life and was about to begin a new one.
A few days later, as I walked along a dingy Piccadilly Line platform, on the tunnel wall I came across a poster of Krsna and Balarama. As I looked at Their incredibly beautiful faces smiling at me from Their Vrndavana home, I thought that maybe a place of eternal happiness did actually exist.
Another time, at High Street Kensington, I met a devotee who sold me a Back to Godhead magazine and gave me an invitation to a temple where he promised I'd get a free vegetarian love feast. I went to the temple, ate the feast, and joined in the chanting.
On a dark evening I met some devotees walking along a road. Their faces, their movements, and their voices attracted me. Simply by their presence the devotees created an atmosphere in which I felt Krsna's presence.
Though the years have rolled by, I still feel moved when I remember those moments. Without them, where would I be now? Although they may seem ordinary, I see them as part of Lord Caitanya's great movement and of Srila Prabhupada's momentous arrival in the West. In those wonderfully sweet moments of my life, I met Krsna, and my lonely wandering ended.
Krsna's pure devotees are special because Krsna resides within their hearts as their only possession. Therefore, they can share their love for Krsna. They can tell others about Krsna, help others prepare to meet Him, and introduce them to Him. In short, devotees can give us Krsna. Srila Bhaktivinoda Thakura sings, "O Vaisnava devotee, Krsna is yours. You are able to give Him to me, for such is your power."
Krsna likes to spread Himself around through His devotees. As the Lord's representatives, devotees do their best, sometimes at great personal risk and expense, to give everyone Krsna—because they love everyone.
Lord Krsna is pleased when He notices someone giving Him to others. In the Bhagavad-gita (18.69) He says, "There is no servant in this world more dear to Me than he, nor will there ever be one more dear."
For me, Srila Prabhupada was the epitome of these words. A few months before he left this world he said, "I am just trying up to the last moment of my life [to] deliver some good to people. That is my determination."
One of Srila Prabhupada's gifts was showing that preaching is much, much more than telling someone about God and religion. By Prabhupada's courage, dynamism, resourcefulness, enthusiasm, and a host of other attributes, he showed that preaching is a great adventure in which one's life is full of sharing Krsna with others.
When I give Krsna I feel alive. I wake up from the dream that I am the central character in the soap opera of a fearful struggle to survive. I feel the radiant joy of life. No longer am I like George Bernard Shaw's complaining and feverish little clod of ailments and grievances.
Whether we strike up a conversation about Krsna, put up a poster advertising a Hare Krsna festival, or sell someone a book or magazine about Krsna, let's give Krsna to others. Remember Srila Prabhupada's words: "Go and preach. Don't be afraid. ... Whatever you have learned from Krsna, from your guru, just repeat it."
Rohininandana Dasa lives in southern England with his wife and their three children. Write to him in care of BTG.
From Fear to Bliss in Kenya
By Mahavegavati Devi Dasi
ONE NIGHT IN Mombasa, Kenya, I was returning from preaching when three young Muslim men approached me.
One of them asked challengingly, "What is your name?"
"Mahavegavati Dasi," I answered.
"You lie!" he said, and he asked me again.
"I already told you. Mahavegavati Dasi."
"No, it's not. You lie!" He blew cigarette smoke, and his two friends scowled.
The three men laughed and made nasty comments. A crowd of Muslim men gathered, and as the crowd grew, the atmosphere became more hostile. I was sure I was going to be killed in a matter of minutes. "Well, if I'm going to go," I thought, "I might as well go down fighting and make it glorious."
I turned to the crowd, praying to Srila Prabhupada to enable me to give whatever Krsna consciousness I could before I got killed. My hands shaking in fear, I started screaming, enraged with indignation.
"How dare you call yourselves Muslims! You're not Muslims. You're pigs!"
I don't know why I called them pigs. If anything would have brought me closer to death, it was calling Muslims pigs. Everyone became silent, so I pressed on.
"How dare you come to me at this time of night. You know it is against your Holy Koran to speak at this time of night to a woman who is not your mother, sister, or daughter."
I went on to scold them further, feeling completely fearless by this time and not worrying about death. I was still expecting death, but somehow I felt that Srila Prabhupada and Krsna were right there, throwing weapons from my mouth.
"How dare you!" I shouted. "Why aren't you in the mosque saying your prayers, reading the Holy Koran, or chanting the beautiful names of Allah?"
After some time a man who was senior among them came forward to ask questions in a hostile mood.
"Why do you Hindus worship idols?"
I explained Deity worship and other points. More questions came, and I answered—through translation from Arabic to Swahili to English and back. Gradually, the mood of the conversation changed from hostile to philosophical. We discussed Krsna, Allah, the soul, and the soul's personal relationship with God. I was in bliss. The fearful situation had completely changed.
Down Dark Alleys
I had been speaking with the elder for more than an hour and a half when all of a sudden three different young men grabbed me.
"Come with us," they ordered.
I had no choice. One of them pulled me by the hand, and the other two followed us.
I turned to Krsna. "Please, just let them kill me now. Why are You prolonging this?"
For forty-five minutes we walked down dark alleys, turning this way and that. I kept wondering when my end would come.
We finally arrived at a kiosk, where the men offered me a chair and something to eat. I accepted some coconut water.
Then to my surprise the three men started asking questions about Krsna consciousness. I've never been in a situation where I went from fear to bliss so quickly. The three men were serious Muslims who wanted to find out more about Krsna consciousness and how it related to Islam. Their questions were serious. They were looking for answers, and only Prabhupada had made those answers available. All the answers they had not been able to get from their elders they were hearing from one of Srila Prabhupada's daughters (which added to the experience, because Muslim women take a very different role in Islamic society). We talked about Allah, Krsna, Islam, the soul, Srila Prabhupada, the Hare Krsna movement, the faults of modern society, and more.
Finally the men said they were tired, and we ended the discussion. It was 4:15 A.M.
"We have found the perfection of Islam," they told me. "How do we join your movement?"
I don't know what happened to those men, because I left Kenya right after that incident. I don't know whether or not they took to Krsna consciousness. At least they heard something about Krsna, so their devotional service has begun. That night I taught them how to chant Hare Krsna on dikker beads, the beads Muslims use for chanting the names of Allah.
We never know who will be ready to hear about Krsna and possibly even go further. Srila Prabhupada gave us everything. Now we have to try our best to give it to others.
Mahavegavati Devi Dasi, a disciple of Srila Prabhupada's, helped spread Krsna consciousness in East, Central, and West Africa in the 1980s. She now lives in Buffalo, New York.
"Material Education Will
Here we conclude an exchange between His Divine Grace A.C. Bhaktivedanta Swami Prabhupada and some of his disciples. It took place on October 18, 1975, during a morning walk in Johannesburg, South Africa.
Srila Prabhupada: In Montreal a Bengali gentleman inquired, "Swamiji, you are using very strong words—'fools and rascals.' Can it be explained otherwise?"
And I replied, "No. These are the only words—that you are all rascals and fools." [Laughter.]
Disciple: Srila Prabhupada, you once said, "Anyone who has a material body is a rascal."
Srila Prabhupada: A rascal. That's all. And yet these rascals are trying to make the body permanent, even though they know they cannot. You cannot make the material body permanent. You are not allowed to keep it for more than several decades. Nor will you ever be allowed. Still, punah punas carvita-carvananam: [you are chewing what you have already chewed]. Repeatedly, these fools go on trying for the impossible. What is impossible, what cannot be allowed—they are trying for it.
Disciple: Well, it appears people just can't accept that all their endeavors to make the body permanent will be defeated.
Srila Prabhupada: Yes. Of course, they are seeing—they are experiencing—that their endeavors are doomed. History never says that any man has become immortal. Even a great demon like Hiranyakasipu could not become immortal. And what to speak of these tiny demons? One kick is sufficient to kill them.
Disciple: Well, Srila Prabhupada, how is it that the Americans and Europeans, especially, have become the vanguard of these rascal ideas, this rascal culture?
Srila Prabhupada: Because they are Raksasas, flesh-eaters. They are eating flesh and drinking wine and having illicit sex. Raksasa civilization. Hiranyakasipu civilization. Hiranya means "gold," and kasipu means "soft bed." Simply learning how to attain these things—this is Raksasa civilization. These people are simply searching after an existence of soft beds and gold, sex and money.
Of course, what they are trying for is impossible. It will not be allowed. And yet they are trying for it. After all, how can the material body be made permanent? But these fools say, "Yes, we are trying. Now disease has been reduced. Now we are living a few more years." These are their foolish words. They will never say, "No, it is impossible." Rather, they will go on glorifying their rascal endeavors.
Modern science—what actual advancement have they achieved? We are talking on that point. These so-called scientists and other leaders are simply misleading.
In this connection Srila Bhaktivinoda Thakura has composed a nice song. He says, jada-vidya jato, mayara vaibhava. Jada-vidya means "material education," so-called material science. Vidya means "education." So this expansion of knowledge means expansion of maya, illusion.
The result is tomara bhajane badha: people will forget God. With the advancement of so-called material science or material knowledge, the result will be that people will forget God.
And next is moha janamiya, anitya samsare: "I am already captivated by the material world—a temporary place where I cannot stay—but the advancement of material knowledge will make me more captivated, and I shall work just like an ass." That's all.
Now, tell me whether Srila Bhaktivinoda is right or wrong. His charge is that advancement of material education is advancement of the influence of the material energy. And if you say, "What is the wrong there?" the wrong is, "You are already rascals, and this education will make you even more of a rascal." Moha janamiya, anitya samsare: "I am already captivated by the temporary material world, and these things will simply make me more completely, more thoroughly captivated." Now, this is the verdict of Bhaktivinoda Thakura. So if you don't like it, tell me your reason.
As for material "education," we are already captive under the laws of material nature, and the more we advance in material education, the more rigidly we'll be captive. So this is the verdict of Bhaktivinoda Thakura. What is your answer? Can anyone refute Bhaktivinoda Thakura and prove that he is wrong?
Disciple: Well, some may say that without material education we couldn't even read the knowledge Bhaktivinoda Thakura has written.
Srila Prabhupada: Who says we are against learning to read? The question is what we should read. If you dedicate yourself to reading Bhaktivinoda Thakura, that is real education.
We want that you learn from Bhaktivinoda Thakura, from Vyasadeva, from Narada. But why are you learning from Darwin, Freud, and other rascals? Education means you should learn from a person who is divinely authorized, who is without mistake, who is without illusion, who does not cheat—just as, for instance, we are learning from Krsna. That is education. And if you learn from rascals and fools, then what is that education? Education means to learn from a learned person.
Education is required, but we require that which is actually education, that which is not cheating. And yet, thanks to so-called modern education, we are being cheated. We are being taught simply to work for the body—which we are not. Is that education? Or is it cheating?
You may say, "I am looking after my own personal interests. Every day I turn on the water, and I thoroughly wash my shirt and coat."
But is that knowledge? "And what about you, sir? What about your food?"
"Me? My food? I don't care about that. Daily I wash my shirt and coat."
Is that education? You keep yourself starving, while you keep your shirt and coat very clean. Is that education? This is going on. Therefore, people are restless. They are hungry, starving. But what can their cars and big buildings do for them? Why are they committing suicide? Because they are not happy. There is no food for the spirit soul—the actual self. Is that education?
That is not education. So Bhaktivinoda Thakura is right when he says, jibake karaye gadha: "Material education means making everyone more and more of an ass." That's all. Everyone is already an ass, because he's in the material world, and material so-called education means keeping him in that condition more and more.
Disciple: So, Srila Prabhupada, after a person leaves this particular material body and takes another one, then he starts off all over again?
Srila Prabhupada: No. He starts again according to the kind of new body he has earned. He will have to work according to whatever kind of body he has earned. If he has earned a dog body, he will work as a dog. If he has earned a tree body, he will work as a tree. "Previously you went naked, without any shame. Now stand naked for five thousand years in the scorching heat and freezing cold. You cannot protest, even when your limbs are being cut off."
So these natural laws are there to be understood. But what do the modern so-called educators know about this science? Krsna says, tatha dehantara praptih: "At the end of this lifetime you have to take a different body." He does not specify what form of body you are going to take. By your actions you are determining that.
And you can see, by practical experience, that there are millions of forms of body for you to take. Actually, there are 8,400,000 forms of body. You have to enter one of them. That's all. So what can you do? Nature will force you: "Enter this body."
It may be a better body, or it may be an abominable body. But you have to enter another body. Now, where is the educational institution to remind me, "I'll have to enter another body after death, so let me be careful about what kind of body I shall have"? Where is that educational institution? These so-called educators are blind.
A Showcase for Krsna in Houston
Here in the American Southwest, Asian Indian families are showing
By Nagaraja Dasa
PERHAPS MORE than any other temple in North America, the Hare Krsna temple in Houston, Texas, has inspired locally resident Asian Indians to seriously take up the practices of Krsna consciousness as given by Srila Prabhupada. Indians have a natural affinity for Krsna consciousness because it represents their original culture. Still, Western devotees have traditionally been the mainstay of ISKCON temples in America. One reason: Although devoted to Lord Krsna and supportive of ISKCON temples, many Indians find that family duties seem to keep them from fully taking part.
But not so in Houston. When the temple moved to its present location in 1985, Tamal Krsna Goswami, ISKCON's governing body commissioner for Texas, recognized the local Indian enthusiasm for serving Lord Krsna. And since then the devotees in Houston have done their utmost to help more and more Indian families offer direct service to Krsna at the temple.
The Houston temple is probably the only full-size ISKCON temple in North America (maybe even the world) where all the services are carried out by grhasthas, or married devotees. Nearly all these devotees are of Indian origin. None of them receives any financial compensation from the temple.
Building a Place of Pilgrimage
One attraction that has drawn people to ISKCON Houston is the ambitious plans for the temple itself. In 1986 the devotees installed Deities of Radha-Krsna in the temple, a former church that still looked like one. Seeing the Deities standing on an ornate Indian-style teakwood throne, the devotees were inspired to renovate the temple interior. Today the motifs of the marble floor, the multi-domed ceiling, and the carved pillars all give the feeling of traditional India.
The devotees didn't stop there. They embarked on a $2.5 million project to create Hare Krishna Dhama, a "Hare Krsna Holy Abode," where thousands of people can learn about Krsna. The devotees bought adjacent land and drew up plans for a hall, a park with ponds, trails, and gardens, and—for the existing temple—additions and a Vedic-style exterior.
The first phase of the project—the building of a hall—is complete. Gauranga Hall and Dr. Rakesh Dhingra Cultural Center opened last May. It is used for feasts, marriages, and other religious ceremonies. Besides the main hall, the building has classrooms, guestrooms, a stage, a kitchen, and a conference room. Gauranga Hall and Dr. Rakesh Dhingra Cultural Center is the largest hall in the Houston area serving the Indian community.
Expanding the Congregation
While some people decry the need for ornate temples, Srila Prabhupada taught the principle of using everything in the Lord's service. He also knew that if you want people to hear a spiritual message, you should provide them comfortable surroundings in which to hear it. So he encouraged temple construction, and the devotees of Houston are seeing the benefits of his vision. As soon as the devotees spread the word about their plans to develop Hare Krishna Dhama, they began to see more and more people, especially Indians, take interest in Krsna consciousness. As people offered support, they felt themselves drawn toward Lord Krsna. Consequently, since 1986 many Indians from the Houston area have become initiated disciples in the Hare Krsna movement and have increased their commitment to spreading Krsna consciousness.
In the past few years many Indian families have moved close to the temple to increase their service to Lord Krsna. They still have their jobs and professions, but living close to the temple lets them serve Krsna with both their money and their time. Syamasundara Dasa (Hasmukh Naik), the temple president, puts in a full day at the business he runs with his wife, Syamavallabhi Devi Dasi. But every evening he either does temple administration or visits people at home to talk to them about Krsna consciousness and Hare Krishna Dhama. His brother-in-law Caitanya Dasa serves the Deities during the day (he's the head pujari, or priest), and in the evening he works at his business. His wife, Draupadi Devi Dasi, assists him both at work and at the temple.
Guru Bhakti Devi Dasi, also of Indian origin, is a physician. Despite her busy schedule, she performs temple services and attends the temple program every morning. She is one of the largest contributors to the Hare Krishna Dhama project. And she gives her patients Srila Prabhupada's Bhagavad-gita As It Is.
These are just a few examples of the dedicated devotees of ISKCON Houston. Without neglecting their other responsibilities, they have arranged their lives so they can directly serve the Lord in the temple and help Srila Prabhupada in his mission of spreading Krsna consciousness.
Nagaraja Dasa is the managing editor of Back to Godhead. The brothers Vivek and Vijay Pai are graduate students at Rice University and active congregational members of the Houston temple.
For more on this story, visit our site on the Worldwide Web: http://www. krsna. com
Dr. RAKESH K. DHINGRA, a Houston physician, is the main contributor to the Hare Krishna Dhama project. In 1992 devotees asked Dr. Dhingra to lend them money so that the construction could continue during the fund-raising campaign. Dr. Dhingra agreed.
By the time the new hall opened last May, devotees had borrowed $218,000 from Dr. Dhingra, who then decided to give the $218,000 as a donation—and gave $33,000 more. He has also bought an office near the temple for devotees to use during construction.
Dr. Dhingra lives with his mother in a house he recently bought across the street from Hare Krishna Dhama. His niece Guru Dhyana Devi Dasi is a disciple of Tamal Krsna Goswami.
The devotees of Hare Krishna Dhama offer Dr. Dhingra their heartfelt thanks for his generosity.
A Temple That Really Cooks
KRSNA CONSCIOUSNESS is sometimes called "the kitchen religion" because devotees place great importance on cooking for Krsna, honoring (eating) prasadam, His sanctified remnants, and distributing them to others. The devotees at the Houston temple are especially enthusiastic about cooking for Krsna.
Temples traditionally cook many preparations for Lord Krsna on special festival days. For example, on Janmastami, Lord Krsna's appearance day, devotees in ISKCON temples usually try to cook 108 different dishes for the Lord throughout the day. At the Houston temple, however, for Janmastami and at least two other festivals a year the devotees often cook 1,000 or more dishes for the Lord's pleasure.
How do they do it? Well, they really know how to cook! And each family tries to cook many preparations. Some cook fifty, a hundred, two hundred, or more. They start a week before the festival, making things that will stay fresh.
The dishes to be offered directly to the Deity are cooked in small quantities, but for festivals the cooks have to cook in large quantities too—enough to feed two thousand people or more. Many of the Indian women are such expert cooks that they think nothing of cooking their special dish for a thousand people.
Besides dishes from all regions of India, the major feasts at ISKCON Houston also include Mexican-style food and Western specialties like cakes, pies, and breads. On seeing the display of the preparations at one festival, a guest exclaimed, "I think anything I could ever want to eat is here in this room!" Yes. And it was all cooked for the pleasure of Lord Krsna.
Krsna Consciousness Transcends All Boundaries
How one devotee is teaching Krsna consciousness to psychics, New Agers, and members of the Hispanic community.
I'VE BEEN INVOLVED with the Houston temple since 1988, but I first got serious in March 1995. When I heard about the Prabhupada Centennial, I decided to make it my Centennial project to introduce a hundred people to Srila Prabhupada's teachings. I had been a psychic and a New Age healer, so I knew many people.
One day a Spanish radio station called and asked me to talk about Prabhupada on the air. The show was so well liked that about two hundred people called the station to get more information. Then a Hispanic group that likes Krsna consciousness invited me to talk on their Spanish radio show every week for an hour. I felt like Srila Prabhupada was telling me, "Why only a hundred people? I want you to bring me 100,000!"
Now at least half a million people in Houston have heard about Krsna consciousness through the radio. Whenever I go on the air, I answer at least fifteen calls an hour, and I tell listeners they can call me at home. Seven to ten people call me every day at home. Most of the people call for counseling, so I let them know that their real problem is that they don't have a link with Krsna. "That's all you need to solve all your problems." I just tell them about simple things—association with devotees, the atmosphere of the temple. That really attracts people, and it turns out that for them the temple is the greatest stress reliever.
About twenty people I've talked to come to the temple somewhat regularly. With the completion of the new community hall, I now have some space to hold Spanish programs at the temple.
I've also been on American and Indian radio shows, and they've both gone over well. Krsna consciousness doesn't depend on race or language. I always try to remember that Srila Prabhupada wanted to make a house for the whole world to live in.
I still get invited to psychic fairs and New Age fairs, so I go to those once a month. While I'm there I only talk about Krsna. The other psychics at the fairs are really baffled to see me putting all my effort into serving Krsna, rather than just trying to get money. But I tell them, "I've found Krsna. I've found the truth."
The Proposed Marriage Challenged
King Drupada and his son doubt:
Translated from Sanskrit by Hridayananda Dasa Goswami
The sage Vaisampayana is telling the history of the Pandavas to their great-grandson, King Janamejaya. The Pandavas are living disguised as brahmanas in a brahmana's house. Arjuna, one of the five Pandava brothers, won the hand of Princess Draupadi in an archery match. After the match, her brother Dhrstadyumna secretly followed the Pandavas to their hideout to learn their identities. He has just returned to tell his father, King Drupada, that the "brahmana" who won his daughter is probably Arjuna, whom the king has long hoped would marry her.
King Drupada Was Overjoyed. He called his royal priest to deliver this message: "We must know who you are, great souls—whether or not you are the sons of Pandu."
Taking the king's words, the priest went and recited to the Pandavas the king's complete message just as the king had spoken it, and in the proper sequence, for the messenger understood the importance of sequence.
"Most worthy ones, King Drupada, lord of this land, desires to know you, for having witnessed how one of you struck down the target, the king now sees no end to his happiness.
"[The king says,] 'Please explain the lineage of your family and community. Place your foot on the heads of the envious and bring pleasure to this heart of mine and to the hearts of those who follow me, the king of Pancala.'
"King Pandu was a beloved friend of King Drupada's, and Drupada loved him like his very self. This was Drupada's desire: 'If only my daughter could be the daughter-in-law of Pandu, the Kaurava king!' O men of flawless form, this desire of King Drupada's has ever stayed in his heart—'Arjuna, with his long, wide arms, should accept my daughter in sacred marriage!' "
Having spoken the message, the priest stood humbly before them.
Yudhisthira looked up at him and then ordered Bhima, who stood close by, "We must honor this person with footbath and gifts. He is the royal priest of King Drupada, and he is to be offered the highest honors."
Bhima did exactly that, O king, and the priest accepted the honors in a noble fashion.
When the brahmana was seated at his leisure, Yudhisthira said to him, "The Pancala king Drupada has released his daughter in accordance with his religious duty and following his own desire. The heroic King Drupada designated this princess as a royal gift, and he has honored his word. There is no need here for an investigation into our social class, our means of livelihood, or our family or lineage. Because a great soul strung the bow and pierced the target in the midst of the earthly kings, he fairly won this girl Draupadi, and she was properly entrusted to him.
"Things being what they are, the king of the Pancalas should not lament and make himself miserable. You stated that King Drupada has long desired to marry his daughter to the son of Pandu, and his majesty's wish shall certainly come to pass. Dear brahmana, such a beautiful princess was virtually unattainable. That bow could not possibly have been strung by a dull or weak man. Indeed, how could a man unschooled in weapons or of wretched birth have struck down the target? Therefore, there is no reason for the Pancala king to grieve over his daughter. Nor is there any man on earth who can change the fact that the target was brought down."
Drupada Prepares a Test
As Yudhisthira was thus speaking, another messenger came running from the Pancala king and announced that a feast was ready.
The messenger said, "On the occasion of his daughter's marriage, and in honor of the bridegroom's party, King Drupada has arranged a splendid meal. All of you are urged to complete your religious duties and without delay come with Draupadi for the feast. These chariots yoked with fine horses and adorned with gold lotuses are worthy of kings. All of you should mount them and proceed to the home of the Pancala king."
Placing the royal priest on the first chariot, the rightful leaders of the Kurus mounted those grand chariots and departed. Kunti and Draupadi went with them.
Hearing from his priest what Yudhisthira had said, King Drupada, hoping to learn the identity of the Kuru leaders, brought various gifts appropriate for all the social classes. He collected fruits and other simple foods [preferred by the brahmanas], and beautifully woven armor, shields, garlands, and royal seats. For the farmers there were gifts of cows, ropes, and other such implements. And he brought all the tools and materials used for the crafts and trades, with nothing left out. The king also collected all the necessary equipment for sports and recreation.
[Still, Dhrstadyumna had indicated that they were probably warriors, and so the king especially prepared gifts suitable for warriors.] There were large swords, excellent bows, the best arrows, bright chariots of various styles, brilliant sets of armor for chariot horses, and lances and spears beautifully adorned with gold. There were javelins, explosives, battle-axes—all that is used in battle—and the most exquisitely wrought beds and chairs in plentiful variety.
The Pandavas In the Palace
Taking hold of the saintly Draupadi, Kunti entered the inner sanctum of the palace [reserved for the women]. There all the ladies sincerely and generously honored the wife of the Kaurava king Pandu. Meanwhile, King Drupada along with his sons and ministers, the close friends of the family, and all the royal attendants got their first opportunity to see the Pandavas at close quarters. Observing their lionlike gait, their large eyes like those of a mighty bull, their massive shoulders draped in deerskin, and their long arms, bulging like ruling serpents, the king and his associates were filled with great joy.
The courageous brothers then took their seats in the finest chairs with exquisite foot-rests. They accepted such royal opulence without hesitation, for the grand riches spread before them did not surprise or affect them, and those noblest of men calmly sat according to age.
The male and female attendants and cooks, all in spotless uniforms, brought out all sorts of simple and elaborate foods fit for kings and served in bowls and dishes of silver and gold. Then those heroes of men ate to their full satisfaction. With full trust in King Drupada, they relaxed in a most cheerful mood. Passing over all of the ornate and opulent gifts, they made straight for the collections of military articles, for they had come to earth to be warriors.
Drupada, his son, and all the important ministers marked their behavior. Approaching the sons of Kunti, who were sons and grandsons of monarchs, they joyfully accorded them the highest honors.
Drupada, the brilliant king of Pancala, then called for Yudhisthira, the son of a king, and formally welcomed him with the welcome offered to brahmanas.
With a generous, open mind, Drupada asked Kunti's shining son, "How can we know whether you are warriors, brahmanas, qualified merchants, or the sons of working-class mothers? Or are you perfected mystics who wander in all directions displaying your magical powers, having descended now from heaven to meet my daughter Krsna [Draupadi]? Sir, tell us the truth of this matter, for we are burdened by a heavy doubt. When our doubts are dispelled and we know you, satisfaction will dwell in our minds. Does a good and noble lot await us, O fiery champion? Kindly speak the truth, for the truth when spoken shines beautifully among kings, more so than sacrifice or gifts, whereas falsehood clearly has no such appeal among noble men. I see that you are a true warrior, for you shine like the gods, and upon hearing your words I shall certainly arrange a proper wedding."
Yudhisthira Maharaja said: "My dear king of Pancala, do not despair. Rather, you should be pleased, for your cherished desire has certainly been fulfilled. We are royalty, O king, the sons of the great soul Pandu. Know me to be the eldest son of Kunti, and those two are Bhima and Arjuna. It is they who won your daughter, O king, in the meeting of monarchs. Over there are the twin sons of Madri, where Krsna is standing. Let the sorrow in your heart be dispelled, O best of kings, for we are ksatriyas and your daughter is like a lotus plant that has gone from one clear lake to another. I am now telling you everything as it is, Maharaja, for you, sir, are our guru and our greatest shelter."
King Drupada was so deeply moved with joy that he could not even see what was in front of him. Although he wanted to respond properly to Yudhisthira, he was unable to speak. With much effort, however, the fiery old warrior restrained his jubilation, and with the manners of a noble king he replied in a befitting way. The righteous ruler then inquired as to how the Pandavas had fled from those who had tried to murder them. Yudhisthira, the eldest Pandava, explained everything in the order that it had happened.
Hearing the statements of Kunti's son, King Drupada condemned the leadership of Dhrtarastra and consoled and encouraged Yudhisthira. The eloquent Drupada then promised that he would strive to help the Pandavas regain their rightful kingdom. Then at the king's behest, Kunti, Draupadi, Bhimasena, Arjuna, and the twins, along with Yudhisthira, moved into the royal palace and began to live there, O king, well attended and honored by Drupada.
Drupada Questions the Marriage
When the Pandavas had rested and were refreshed, the king came to them with his sons and said, "On this very day, the Kuru prince should take my daughter's hand in sacred marriage. It is a holy day, and mighty-armed Arjuna should take the opportunity."
King Yudhisthira, son of Dharma, then said to him, "O king, [being the eldest brother] it is I who am first to accept a wife."
King Drupada said, "Then you, sir, being a hero—or whomever you designate as the proper one for Krsna—may take my daughter's hand in sacred marriage."
Yudhisthira said, "Draupadi will be the queen of all of us, O king, for that is what our mother has decreed. I am unmarried at present, and so is Pandava Bhimasena. Arjuna has won your daughter, who is like a jewel, and the agreement in our family, O king, is that a jewel will be shared equally. O best of rulers, we have no desire to renounce our pact. By our religious principles Krsna will be queen to all of us. So let her take the hand of each of us, in order, before the ritual fire."
King Drupada said, "My dear Kuru prince, it is ordained that one king may accept many queens, but many kings have never been authorized to marry a single queen. You are a most decent and religious man, Kaunteya, and you should not perform an irreligious act that violates the Vedas, as well as common morality. Why is your mind fixed like that?"
Yudhisthira said, "Virtue can be subtle, Maharaja, and we do not always understand where it will lead us. But with firm conviction we follow step by step the path of our venerable superiors and predecessors. I have never spoken a lie, nor does my mind dwell in the irreligious. I have simply repeated to you what my venerable mother has said and what is my own conviction. This is indeed in accord with dharma, O king, and you should accept it without analyzing it any further. Your Majesty, you should have no doubt in this matter."
King Drupada said, "You, your mother, and my son Dhrstadyumna should discuss what is to be done. Whatever you all decide we shall carry out tomorrow morning."
Srila Vyasadeva Arrives
All of them then met together and began to discuss, O Bharata, when suddenly Dvaipayana Vyasa happened to arrive.
Seeing the arrival of holy Vyasa, the Pandavas and the illustrious Pancala king rose to meet and honor him. He greeted them in turn, inquiring about their health and happiness. At last that great-minded one sat down on a shining golden seat. With the permission of Srila Vyasa, all those illustrious people sat down on very costly seats.
After a moment King Drupada, in a kind and gentle voice, asked the great soul Vyasa about Princess Draupadi: "How can one woman accept many men and not violate our religious law? My lord, explain all this to us as it is."
Srila Vyasa said, "It appears to be a violation—indeed almost a mockery—of religious law, an act incompatible with the Vedas as well as common morality. I want to hear everyone's view."
King Drupada said, "I feel that this act is irreligious, for it contradicts the holy scriptures and traditional morality. One woman does not become the wife of many men, O best of brahmanas. Nor was this custom of polyandry ever practiced by our forefathers, who were great and learned souls. Thus it cannot be sanatana-dharma, the eternal law of God. That is why I cannot be convinced about this procedure, for to me its virtue and authority are covered with doubt."
Dhrstadyumna said, "O noble twice-born one, how can an elder brother who follows the spiritual path act in such an aggressive manner with the wife of his younger brother? O brahmana rich in austerity, however subtle or intangible religion may be we do not understand how it can possibly lead to such a conclusion. Simply by one's own determination one cannot turn irreligion into religion. Therefore, I am not convinced that people of our culture should commit such an act. In no way should Draupadi become the queen of five men."
Yudhisthira said, "My voice has never uttered a lie, nor does my mind dwell on irreligion, yet still my mind favors this course, for it is not at all irreligious. Most virtuous sage, in the Puranas authorities say that a brahmana woman named Jatila, in the line of Gautama, had intercourse with seven sages. You know best what is the law, and certainly the order of a guru is law. Of all gurus, the highest is a saintly mother. Thinking we had brought alms, our mother said, 'Whatever you have brought you must all enjoy equally.' Therefore I consider our decision to be dharma, the path of virtue."
Kunti Devi said, "Yudhisthira always treads the path of righteousness, and the situation is just as he said. I have an acute fear of untruth, so how can I be saved from speaking falsely?"
Srila Vyasa said, "You shall be saved from untruth, good woman, for this marriage is in obedience to the eternal law of God. I shall not speak now to everyone, but rather I shall explain to you privately, O Pancala king, how this unusual religious duty was ordained and why it is accepted as being in accord with the eternal law of God, for, just as Yudhisthira stated, this is indeed a moral act without doubt."
The divine incarnation Vyasa then got up, took the king's hand, and went with him to the king's quarters. Kunti, the Pandavas, and Dhrstadyumna did not know what to think. They waited anxiously for both of them to return. Meanwhile, Dvaipayana Vyasa then explained to the king, who was a great soul, exactly why it was permitted by religious law for a single wife to have many husbands.
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, USA. Phone: (904) 418-4644.
The worldwide activities of the International Society for Krishna Consciousness (ISKCON)
An eighteen-year-old Krsna devotee won first prize for his sculpture at a Pennsylvania regional art fair. His entry: Lord Krsna in His form as Lord Nrsimhadeva killing the demon Hiranyakasipu. During the fair, thousands of students and parents viewed the sculpture, and a printed explanation of the Nrsimhadeva pastime. The devotee, Jaya Caitanya Dasa, is a student in high school.
Devotee-made Govinda's Bliss Bars are spreading joy from health-food stores across America and onboard flights of Air New Zealand. The sale of the fruit-and-nut bars started from the San Diego temple kitchen a few years ago as a way to give people a taste of Krsna-prasadam. Now Govinda's Bliss Bars is an international business with nine employees, its own offices, and professional equipment.
Jayanta Dasa, who helps run the business, says, "Govinda's Bliss Bars may be mass produced now, but they're still made with devotion and offered to the Deities."
Pilgrims to the Rainbow Gathering feasted on food offered to Krsna and enjoyed the taste of His holy names. For the ten days of the annual national gathering, held last summer in the Ozark mountains, an all-woman crew of devotees from Columbus, Ohio, spread the chanting of Hare Krsna and served Krsna-prasadam to about 1,500 people a day.
Tens of thousands of British Hindus celebrated a triumphant Janmastami at Bhaktivedanta Manor, ISKCON's estate outside London. In 1994, ISKCON had been fined £30,000 ($45,000) for ignoring a local ban on its public festival. This year, the Minister of the Environment granted the public the permanent right to attend, and a court of appeal slashed the fine to £5,000. Janmastami celebrates the day of Lord Krsna's appearance.
Devotees have completed a new access road to Bhaktivedanta Manor. ISKCON had volunteered to build the road to keep the local village free of traffic, and the Environment Minister made building the road a condition for keeping the Manor open to the public. The devotees pulled off the work in months, in time for Janmastami.
Thousands attended this summer's London Rathayatra, the biggest ever.
Krsna's Village of Peace dominated the "Woodstock" festival held in northern Poland in July, according to a major Polish newspaper. The three-day festival drew fifty thousand people a day. At least a thousand were always in front of the Hare Krsna stage, chanting with the devotees. When devotee bands performed on the main stage of the festival, tens of thousands of young people chanted Hare Krsna with them.
Jurek, the festival organizer, highly popular in Poland for his charitable work, delighted in the devotees' presence. He, his wife, and his secretaries dressed like devotees to attend a marriage of seven couples in the Hare Krsna tent. Devotees distributed twenty thousand plates of prasadam.
Apple Computer named a Krsna conscious CD-ROM September's "enhanced CD of the month." In fact, Apple says, it's one of the five best enhanced CDs ever produced. An enhanced CD lets your computer play music and display video. The Krsna conscious CD, called "Satisfaction Guaranteed," features songs of the Krsna conscious rock group Matchless Gift, from Eastern Europe. The video includes a biography of Srila Prabhupada, and Krsna conscious art with explanations. It was produced by Brahma-muhurta Dasa of the Bhaktivedanta Book Trust on an Apple Macintosh computer. Apple is showing it around as an example of what their computers can do.
ISKCON congregational members from ten countries met this summer for a week of seminars near Pula, Croatia. Attendance: 450.
The Chechan war claimed the life of an ISKCON devotee in Grozny, the Chechen capital. The devotee, twenty-year-old Andrei Savitsky, was killed when a rocket attack hit City Hospital Number 4. He was one of a team who for nearly two years have been distributing Krsna prasadam in Chechnya through ISKCON's program Food for Life.
More Rathayatra festivals: Amsterdam, Paris, Bulgaria, and elsewhere.
The holy city of Dwarka is the site for a new ten-room ISKCON guest house, now under development. A charitable friend donated the new place, and ISKCON leader Maha-Visnu Goswami is seeing to the project. Donors wishing to help are invited to get in touch with him. Visitors wishing to stay at the guest house are asked to let him know in advance. For the address and phone number, please see page 57.
Now published in Bengali: the entire set of Srila Prabhupada's multi-volume Srimad-Bhagavatam. Translator: Srila Prabhupada's disciple Sripada Bhakti Caru Swami.
ISKCON Calcutta celebrated the Jagannatha Rathayatra in grand style. The procession—and a return procession seven days later—featured three chariots, numerous floats, and thousands of people taking part. Among the prominent: film star Hema Malini, cricket star Saurav Ganguli, and former Chief Air Marshall O. P. Malhotra. Between the two processions, ISKCON held nightly spiritual programs at Deshapriya Park.
National Youth Program forms a part of ISKCON's Srila Prabhupada Centennial celebrations. The program includes a National Essay Contest, a National Intercollegiate Debate Competition, and a series of seminars and panel discussions. The topics for the essays, debates, and discussions are designed to stimulate students to delve deeper into their spiritual and cultural heritage. The national program covers 7,000 colleges in 250 cities in India and Nepal.
Janmastami at ISKCON Bombay was huge, as usual. Attendance: 400 to 500 thousand people.
A half-hour TV program about the Hare Krsna movement was aired on Janmastami by Doordarshan, Indian national television. The program—"Hare Krsna, Hare Krsna"—was written, produced, and directed by ISKCON devotee Sri Krsna Caitanya Dasa.
An international group of cyclists is taking a pilgrimage along the Yamuna River during Kartika (October-November) to promote awareness of threats to the forests of Vrndavana. The journey was organized by the World Wild Fund for Nature through its Vrndavana chapter. The chapter was pioneered by Ranchor Dasa, a disciple of Srila Prabhupada's from London.
The consul general of India officially opened the new ISKCON temple in Sydney. Formerly a funeral parlor, the newly renovated building is now a lively temple at an ideal location in North Sydney.
The Nigerian spokesman for a UN anti-drug program commended ISKCON for "freeing unfortunate Nigerian youth from the slavery of drugs." The spokesman, Mr. Antonio Mazzitelli, offered his praise at the University of Lagos, at a conference on health and social vices. The conference was sponsored by the United Nations International Drug Control Program, for which Mr. Mazzitelli is the Nigerian representative.
More than one thousand students and guests enjoyed prasadam, and many more learned about Srila Prabhupada, at a booth run by Hare Krsna devotee Locana Dasa at Taiwan Normal University's fiftieth anniversary celebration last summer. Locana Dasa, who was born in Portugal, is studying Chinese at the university.
Devotees in Costa Rica have built a gurukula school at their New Goloka Vrindavana Farm, outside San Jose. Sripada Bhakti Abhaya Carana Swami organized the fund-raising for the school.
A boat temple plying the Amazon will bring Krsna conscious festivals to villagers. The two-story boat is 52 feet long (16 meters). It can carry fifty people and has its own kitchen. Devotees at Nova Jharikhanda, in the middle of the Amazon forest, launched the boat.
A look at the similarities between a great sage seen throughout the Vedic literature and the greatest preacher of Krsna consciousness in the modern age.
By Sarvabhauma Dasa
SRI NARADA MUNI, a son of Lord Brahma (the first created being in the universe), is one of the twelve mahajanas, or authorities on Krsna consciousness. Narada's teachings have been introduced to millions of people by the books of His Divine Grace A.C. Bhaktivedanta Swami Prabhupada. Srila Prabhupada notes in a purport to the Srimad-Bhagavatam (6.5.22), "The immediate spiritual master is the representative of Narada Muni; there is no difference between the instructions of Narada Muni and those of the present spiritual master." The more we hear about Narada Muni and his servant Srila Prabhupada, the more we see the similarities in the messages and activities of these two transcendental great souls.
In a purport to the sixth canto of the Bhagavatam, Srila Prabhupada points out a similarity between himself and Narada Muni. After Narada had convinced thousands of Prajapati Daksa's sons to renounce family life for full dedication to spiritual life, the outraged Daksa told Narada, "You are a rascal who does not know how to behave toward others. You may travel all over the universe, but I curse you to have no residence anywhere."
Srila Prabhupada comments:
Actually, such a punishment is a boon for a preacher. A preacher is known as parivrajakacarya—an acarya, or teacher, who always travels for the benefit of human society. ... In the parampara system [disciplic succession] from Narada Muni, I have also been cursed. Although I have many centers that would be suitable places of residence, I cannot stay anywhere, for I have been cursed by the parents of my young disciples. Since the Krsna consciousness movement was started, I have traveled all over the world two or three times a year, and although I am provided comfortable places to stay wherever I go, I cannot stay anywhere for more than three days or a week.
"He Likes to Hear"
Hearing from spiritual teachers is of primary importance in spiritual life, as we see from the lives of both Narada Muni and Srila Prabhupada. As the young son of a maidservant, Narada served devotees and developed faith in hearing their transcendental words: "I could hear them describe the attractive activities of Lord Krsna. And thus listening attentively, my taste for hearing about the Supreme Personality of Godhead increased at every step." (Srimad-Bhagavatam 1.5.27)
Just before initiating Srila Prabhupada in Allahabad in 1932, Srila Bhaktisiddhanta Sarasvati Thakura noted of him, "Yes, he likes to hear ... I have marked him. I will accept him as a disciple." Because Srila Prabhupada faithfully heard and repeated the message of his spiritual master and the previous Vaisnava preceptors, he achieved astounding success in spreading Krsna consciousness all over the world.
Sri Narada Muni and Srila Prabhupada are intimate partners in the confidential service of producing and disseminating transcendental literature glorifying the Supreme Personality of Godhead. In the Srimad-Bhagavatam (1.5.11) Narada tells Vyasadeva, the compiler of the Vedic literature, "That literature which is full of the descriptions of the name, fame, forms, pastimes, etc., of the Supreme Lord is a different creation, full of transcendental words directed toward bringing about a revolution in the impious lives of this world's misdirected civilization."
In the Padma Purana, Narada vows to Srimati Bhakti Devi, the personification of devotional service, "O beautiful-faced one, there is no other age like Kali-yuga [the present age], because you will be established in every house as well as in the heart of every person." Later in that Purana the sages known as the Kumaras reveal to Narada how bhakti can be established: "As when a lion roars wolves flee in fear, so merely by the sound of the Srimad-Bhagavatam all the vicious qualities of Kali-yuga are destroyed."
In Sri Caitanya Mangala Lord Brahma gives Narada a specific prescription for Kali-yuga: "Narada, no other scripture compares to the Srimad-Bhagavatam, which is completely transcendental. Narada, you should teach the Bhagavatam in order to deliver all living entities."
It was no accident, therefore, that the first hardbound book Srila Prabhupada labored to publish was an English translation of Srimad-Bhagavatam. The Bhagavatam—the very book that Narada Muni had urged Vyasadeva to write to purify the fallen souls of this age—became Srila Prabhupada's chief weapon to vanquish the wolflike evils of Kali-yuga.
In the Padma Purana Bhakti Devi tells Narada, idam sthanam parityajya videsam gamyate maya: "I will leave this place [Sri Vrndavana] and be carried to foreign lands." Srila Prabhupada wrote his translation and purports to the Bhagavatam in holy Vrndavana- dhama, the divine appearance place of Lord Krsna. Later, Srila Prabhupada took the books on the cargo ship Jaladuta and set sail for America.
Narada Muni compiled the Narada-pancaratra and the Narada Bhakti Sutras and gave pertinent instructions on devotional service in many other important Vaisnava books. Srila Prabhupada has commented that Narada-pancaratra "gives direction to the diseased men of the world how one's present engagement can lead to the path of spiritual emancipation." Thus both Sri Narada and Srila Prabhupada seek to uplift people of all backgrounds, progressively and systematically.
Without Narada Muni's contribution to the Vaisnava literary tradition, the highest Vedic conclusion, or siddhanta, would be far more obscure. And without Srila Prabhupada's books and their massive distribution all over the world, the loss to humanity would be great.
Spreaders of the Holy Name
Throughout the Puranas Narada Muni is seen traveling, playing his divine vina (a stringed instrument) and chanting the holy names of the Lord. Srila Prabhupada personally brought the holy names to New York, London, Russia, Africa, South America, and many other places, and he sent disciples to places he himself did not go.
Deliverers of the Fallen
Just as Narada Muni is famous for transforming a vicious hunter named Mrgari into a gentle devotee, Srila Prabhupada is famous for transforming degraded hippies into effulgent devotees. Just as Narada once tolerated the nakedness and intoxication of the brothers Nalakuvara and Manigriva to bless them with Krsna's audience, Srila Prabhupada tolerated naked hippies at Morning Star Ranch in California to give them Krsna consciousness. Just as Narada extended his mercy to a woman by giving shelter in his asrama to Kayadhu, the mother-to-be of the great devotee Prahlada Maharaja, Srila Prabhupada gave shelter to women in his asramas and accepted them as his disciples.
Through the Narada-pancaratra Narada provides guidance in Deity worship, especially for Kali-yuga, the present degraded age. Srila Prabhupada took inspiration from Narada's book when he started Deity worship in temples all over the world.
In the Padma Purana Sri Narada promises Bhakti Devi, "Hear my vow. If I do not preach your message, subdue all other religions, and make devotional festivals predominant, then I shall not be considered the servant of Lord Krsna." Srila Prabhupada held massive Rathayatra festivals in major cities of the world, giving the most fallen the chance to see Lord Krsna in His Deity form as Lord Jagannatha. Thus he helped Narada Muni fulfill his vow that devotional festivals would rule in Kali-yuga.
Srila Prabhupada established the Deities Sri Sri Rukmini-Dvarakadhisa (Radha-Krsna) in Los Angeles and set standards of Deity worship there for other temples to follow. As a result of Srila Prabhupada's devotion, beautiful Deities of the Lord now grace ISKCON temples all over the world.
Narada Muni, himself a renounced saint, is famous for encouraging many great kings and leaders to renounce their attachments and surrender to the Supreme Personality of Godhead. Although Srila Prabhupada received millions of dollars and many opulent properties, he always kept the spirit of vairagya, detachment. He saw that everything belongs to Krsna, so he used everything in Krsna's service.
Narada Muni credited his advancement in Krsna consciousness to his faithful service to devotees. Similarly, Srila Prabhupada felt that whatever success he had attained in spreading Krsna consciousness had come directly from the mercy of his spiritual master. Srila Prabhupada once said that he had asked his spiritual master only one question: "How shall I serve you?"
More than Timing
Throughout the Puranas Narada Muni always seems to arrive at the perfect moment to deliver the perfect message to great souls at moments of doubt or distress.
Some might credit Srila Prabhupada's preaching success to the fact that he came to the West at a time when scores of young people were searching for alternatives to modern materialistic life. In Srila Prabhupada-lilamrta, however, Satsvarupa Dasa Goswami points out that Srila Prabhupada's amazing success was more than circumstantial:
It was not the advent of the jet plane, nor was it happenstance, nor luck, nor even a social or historical phenomenon that enabled Srila Prabhupada to spread Vedic culture from East to West and back again. No. It was the will of Krsna and the sincerity of His servant.
Sri Caitanya-caritamrta reveals how Narada Muni and Srila Prabhupada were able to spread Krsna consciousness—krsna-sakti vina nahe tara pravartana: "Unless empowered by Krsna, one cannot propagate the sankirtana movement."
Narada's Intimate Servant
Srila Prabhupada was more than just an obscure or minor servant of Narada and the previous Vaisnava acaryas. By spreading the Hare Krsna maha-mantra all over the world; by seeing to the distribution of millions of books on Krsna in every major language; by inspiring the distribution of perhaps over a billion plates of Krsna-prasadam (food offered to Krsna); by holding devotional festivals such as Rathayatra in major cities of the world; and by transforming thousands of Kali-yuga debauchees into devotees of Krsna, Srila Prabhupada acted as the intimate servant of his spiritual master and Narada Muni.
On several occasions Srila Prabhupada indicated that Narada was pleased and attracted by the hearing and chanting about Krsna taking place in ISKCON. In 1966 the New York devotees rented an expensive auditorium near Carnegie Hall with hopes of attracting influential people, but only seven people showed up. When one of Srila Prabhupada's disciples apologized, mentioning that almost no one had come, Prabhupada raised his eyebrows and said, "No one? You did not see Narada?"
Sarvabhauma Dasa, a disciple of Tamal Krsna Goswami, was initiated in 1982. Based in Texas, he distributes Srila Prabhupada's books and organizes the spreading of Krsna consciousness at street fairs and on college campuses.
"From the viewpoint of eternity, a life span of five thousand years
By Visakha Devi Dasi
TWO SUMMERS AGO when the Reforestation Department of the Sequoia National Park in California gave away excess baby Sequoia trees, I got four and planted them on our nine-acre property in the foothills of the Sierra Nevada mountains. Sequoias don't produce useful things like fruits or flowers. They simply live—for thousands of years. And they grow—hundreds of feet high.
Sometimes I'd sit next to my favorite of the four-foot-high trees, quietly chanting the names of God—Hare Krsna, Hare Krsna, Krsna Krsna, Hare Hare/ Hare Rama, Hare Rama, Rama Rama, Hare Hare. And I'd think how this sapling's parent or grandparent was present when Lord Krsna was on earth five thousand years ago, and when Lord Caitanya was here five hundred years ago.
Over the next few months, as the baby tree took root, spread its graceful limbs, and grew, my thoughts shifted to where I would be as the tree reached its full height and girth. A few decades from now, when my body would become decrepit and useless, this tree would still be in its childhood. And when I, the soul, would leave this body to enter a new one—who knows what type of body or where?—my memory of this nine-acre plot, my house, my family, and my Sequoias would all be left behind. Yet this tree would be right there, growing silently century after century. And century after century I'd be passing from one body to another, from one universe to another, in body after body. Both types of embodiment—the tree's and my imagined future ones—seemed futile. (At least the giant Sequoia, though, would be providing shelter for birds and animals. Who knows what I'd be doing?)
What attracted me to this tree over the hundreds of others that decorate our property? Its extraordinary ability to survive. I realized that although I hear and use the word eternal often, its actual import is alien to me; otherwise, why would I be impressed with a life span of a mere five thousand years? From the viewpoint of eternity, a life span of five thousand years is the same as that of five years: both are a flash, both temporary. Either way, the body disintegrates and the soul moves on.
Longevity attracts me because I'm an eternal spiritual being, an imperishable soul. In my natural state I don't transmigrate. So, since I'm not meant to be helplessly, traumatically dragged from one body to another, I crave permanence in this life. But I don't really want the permanence of a giant Sequoia. Although by comparison to mine, the length of its life is awe-inspiring, to stand in one place, immobile and incommunicative, would be awful. I'm not meant for that.
I'm meant to serve Krsna, without interruption and without motivation. By such devotional service I'll rejoin Him eternally in His eternal home in a blissful, eternal, spiritual body.
Unfortunately, my present service to God is both interrupted and motivated. So I don't qualify to regain an eternal body. I'm stuck with temporary ones unavoidably accompanied by birth and death.
My attitude reminds me of that of my two-year-old, who blithely answers "no" to the most reasonable requests: "Sit down and eat your dinner." "No." "Let's put your shoes on." "No." And so forth. "No" to her is an easy answer that saves her the trouble of stopping whatever she's doing to do something else—even something better.
Similarly, when Krsna says, "Give up sense gratification and follow Me," I respond with her mentality: "No." "Always think of Me." "No." And so forth.
Now if I could get out of the two-year-old stage and enter the stage of cooperation and surrender to the Lord, I could, conceivably, avoid having to take more material bodies after this one is finished. And even if I'm not completely successful, whatever advancement I make will stay with me as I transmigrate from body to body. If in some future body I continue to advance, I'll be adding to the progress I've already made. So even if finishing up this temporary-body business in this lifetime is a long shot, it's one that's supremely worthwhile.
Srila Prabhupada explains, "One should be captivated by this information. He should desire to transfer himself to that eternal world and extricate himself from this false reflection of reality. For one who is too much attached to this material world, it is very difficult to cut that attachment, but if he takes to Krsna consciousness there is a chance of gradually becoming detached. One has to associate himself with devotees, those who are in Krsna consciousness. One should search out a society dedicated to Krsna consciousness and learn how to discharge devotional service. In this way he can cut off his attachment to the material world." (Bhagavad-gita 15.6, purport)
Since the Sequoias are on our property, we can protect them from being cut. And the attachments and rebellions that have grown up in my mind I can cut down, especially by learning from the examples of my godbrothers and godsisters. By their inspiration, one day I may be qualified for a body that outlives even innumerable giant Sequoias.
Visakha Devi Dasi has been contributing articles and photographs to Back to Godhead for twenty years. She lives with her husband and their two daughters in the foothills of central California.
Many Paths to One Goal?
By Ravi Gupta
AN INDIAN GUEST at our Sunday Feast once asked, "Why do you talk only of Krsna-bhakti [devotion to Krsna]? Our tradition is so rich—jnana-yoga, dhyana-yoga, karma-yoga, hatha-yoga, raja-yoga, buddhi- yoga, kundalini-yoga. Why do you limit Hinduism to bhakti-yoga? Unlike others, who say there is only one way, the beauty of our tradition is that we can choose any deity and any path, since they all lead to the same goal."
Many Hindus share our guest's belief, often basing their belief on verse 4.11 of the Bhagavad-gita, which they loosely translate as "All paths lead to the same goal." After all, since God is all-pervading, they reason, where else can any path go?
This, however, is a mistranslation of the verse. In fact, Krsna makes it quite clear in the Bhagavad-gita that our choice of which path to tread does make a difference.
The verse goes like this:
ye yatha mam prapadyante
Srila Prabhupada's translation reads, "As all surrender unto Me, I reward them accordingly. Everyone follows My path in all respects, O son of Prtha." (Bg. 4.11) Lord Krsna uses the possessive pronoun mama, "mine" and the singular noun vartma, "path." In other words, there is but one path—Krsna's.
That we are all on Krsna's path doesn't mean that whatever we do leads us to Krsna. Imagine the spiritual path to be a great highway. Some of us are progressing slowly, some faster. As long as we move in the right direction, we make spiritual advancement. But if, desiring to be independent of the Lord, we turn our heads and go the other direction, we head into further ignorance.
And whom we worship while on the path also matters. Krsna says in the Bhagavad-gita (9.25) that those who worship ghosts go to the ghosts, those who worship ancestors go to the ancestors, and those who worship demigods go to the demigods. If all worship is the same, why the different destinations? These destinations are like exits on the spiritual highway. They simply divert us from the final goal.
But what about the different spiritual paths described in the Bhagavad-gita, such as jnana-yoga, dhyana-yoga, karma-yoga, and so on? Don't all of them lead to the same goal?
Different bona fide methods for spiritual realization are like different lanes on the spiritual highway. All of them are heading toward the final goal, yet all but one of the lanes are fairly slow, and they can bring us only part way to success. Nearing the final destination, they all merge into another lane, which has been coming all along, namely bhakti-yoga, or devotional service to Sri Krsna.
Krsna Himself says in Bhagavad-gita that He is the ultimate goal of all spiritual processes. For those performing dhyana-yoga He says, "One should meditate upon Me within the heart and make Me the ultimate goal of life." For those performing karma-yoga He says, "Whatever you do, whatever you eat, whatever you offer or give away, and whatever austerities you perform—do that, O son of Kunti, as an offering to Me." For those performing jnana-yoga He says, "After many births and deaths, he who is actually in knowledge surrenders unto Me, knowing Me to be the cause of all causes." And for those who want to perform Vedic sacrifices, Krsna proclaims that He is the goal and beneficiary of all sacrifices.
Although Krsna says clearly that He is the goal of all spiritual processes, He also says that only through bhakti-yoga can He be attained. "One can understand Me as I am, as the Supreme Personality of Godhead, only by devotional service. And when one is in full consciousness of Me by such devotion, he can enter into the kingdom of God." (Bg. 18.54) And Krsna says at the end of the sixth chapter that of all yogis—with their different methods for spiritual realization—the bhakta is the most intimately united with Him.
Therefore, because Krsna says He is the goal of all spiritual paths but one can attain Him only through devotional service, all spiritual paths (at least those that are genuine) must lead to pure devotional service, which in turn leads to Krsna, the ultimate spiritual destination. The benefits obtained by other forms of yoga should impel one to serve the Lord.
Ravi Gupta, age fourteen, lives at the Hare Krsna center in Boise, Idaho. The center is run by his parents. Ravi, who was schooled at home, is a second-year student at Boise State University.
Motivation for Obedience
By Urmila Devi Dasi
LORD KRSNA DEMANDS surrender, and Srila Prabhupada explains that without obedience one cannot attain to the Lord's kingdom. So how do we teach our children obedience? Here are some ideas:
It's important, though, to hear from the child before we make a decision or give an instruction. Better to say, "Let me think about it" rather than an automatic "No" that later changes to an "Oh, all right." We shouldn't change our decision if the child's response is to whine, argue, or criticize. Otherwise, the child will learn to use these responses to get us to renege on a firm decision.
Sometimes we inadvertently reward misbehavior, as when we let a child do what he wants after he has been rude or offensive. The desire for happiness motivates all behavior, so we may need to examine carefully what happiness the child thinks he is getting when he behaves badly. We then need to help the child get a taste for spiritual happiness.
Challenges can include some friendly competition, which Prabhupada said "gives life." Excessive competition can lead to envy, cruelty, and cheating. But if the competition comes with a team spirit—an understanding that we are working together to best serve the Lord—we can keep competitive enthusiasm and yet avoid competitive trouble.
When the method we're using with a child fails to work, we tend to simply keep at it. That's like speaking to a foreigner one's native language, louder and louder. Instead, when what we are doing fails to inspire our children to obey the Lord and cooperate with us, we need the flexibility to try a different tack.
Urmila Devi Dasi, initiated in 1973, has worked in ISKCON education since 1983.
Why Commercial Dairies Can't Stop Killing
By Hare Krsna Devi Dasi
FROM TIME TO TIME I receive letters from people who want to help our Hare Krsna farms develop. They often suggest we market "organic milk" or "milk from protected cows." So it was with interest that I read the following instruction by Grandfather Bhismadeva to Maharaja Yudhisthira in the Mahabharata: "They who live by selling hair, poisons, or milk have to sink in hell."
Bhismadeva is considered one of the twelve great mahajanas, or authorities on Krsna consciousness. He spoke these words several thousand years ago. By looking at more recent history we can see the suffering these commercial activities have caused.
To see the miseries caused by "selling hair" one has only to look at the vast enclosure movement of the 1500s and 1600s, when peasants were swept off their land and left to starve so the manorial lords could expand a profitable wool industry.
As for the sufferings caused by poison sellers, one has only to look at the environmental havoc caused by pesticides over the last fifty years.
But what about selling milk? How would that cause suffering?
Consider the process of marketing milk. (For simplicity, we'll set aside government subsidies, which make the process more complex.) The price of milk, as with any product, must take into account the cost of land, labor, and anything else needed to produce the milk. All other things being equal, in an open market people will buy from whoever can produce milk for the least cost. To "live by selling milk," therefore, I must by all means bring my price down to a competitive level; otherwise, I'll lose my market share to more "efficient" farmers.
How does this affect the protection of cows? To protect cows I need extra land, labor, and feed for animals not producing milk, including bulls, oxen, and older cows. Obviously, this pushes up my production costs and the price I must charge for milk. In 1988 at Gita Nagari, the Hare Krsna farm in Pennsylvania, we calculated that to produce one gallon of milk from a mature protected herd costs $10.00 a gallon. We would not have been able to "make a living" from selling milk.
A farmer selling milk must do whatever it takes to bring his commodity into a competitive price range. If one farmer slaughters his animals to save on feed costs, then all others must do the same or be priced out of the market. Because of this sinful activity, the farmer must "sink in hell," as Bhismadeva describes. That is the karmic reaction for cow slaughter.
Srila Prabhupada encouraged devotees to produce for self-sufficiency, not for the commercial market. Then if there is surplus it can be sold in the market. So there's a difference between market-oriented production and a subsistence production that markets the surplus. To produce milk for my needs and sell what's left over, I don't need a competitive price to survive. If no one buys my product, I can still survive. I'm not forced to adopt cruel means to keep my prices low. My living comes from the land.
In a letter to Yasomatinandana Dasa (November 28, 1976), Srila Prabhupada summarized this perspective:
This is a no-profit scheme. For agriculture we want to produce our own food, and we want to keep cows for our own milk. The whole idea is that we are ISKCON, a community to be independent from outside help. This farm project is especially for the devotees to grow their own food. Cotton also, to make their own clothes. And keeping cows for milk and fatty products.
At present, many of our farms protect cows with the help of charitable donations, allowing devotees a taste of cow protection until we can institute a full-fledged Vedic social system. The farms also enable devotees to avoid the sinful activities inevitably involved with marketing milk.
Last of all, a donation to a Krsna conscious farm allows devotees there to feed and milk cows and farm with oxen. Krsna is pleased to receive offerings made of milk from protected cows, and grains and vegetables produced by oxen. In return, He awards to the supporters of cow protection a special appreciation for His own joyful pastimes of herding cows and bulls in the transcendental village of Vrndavana.
The Best Welfare Program
By Lokanath Swami
During a talk at a Christian monastery in 1972, Srila Prabhupada said, "When I started this movement I was cooking and distributing prasadam. . . . We invite everyone, 'Please come here, chant the Hare Krsna mantra, dance with us, and when you are hungry take some food. We are prepared to give you.' So our program is very easy. Actually these boys and girls were not advised in the beginning to become my initiated students. I simply invited, 'You please come.' I was chanting in Tompkins Square Park in New York, and many of them were coming. So I invited them, 'Please come with me. Take some prasadam.' So they used to take that. In this way, gradually, they developed their Krsna consciousness, and after some time they proposed, 'Swamiji, make me your disciple.' "
To honor Srila Prabhupada in his centennial year, we've marked one day for massive distribution of prasadam on a global scale. We call it "Feed the World Day." On that day, November 23, we're calling for every ISKCON temple, family, and congregational group to take part in giving out Krsna's mercy in the form of prasadam, and in turn get the mercy of Srila Prabhupada. We hope Feed the World Day will provide an inspirational springboard and encourage devotees to expand prasadam distribution unlimitedly.
World Enlightenment Day
One of the last events of the centennial year is World Enlightenment Day, December 14. On that day, devotees throughout the Hare Krsna movement will focus on one goal: distributing as many books about Krsna as they possibly can.
Many devotees distribute Krsna conscious books as their main service. But on World Enlightenment Day, devotees who usually do all other sorts of service will join in the spirit of distributing books.
As Srila Prabhupada repeatedly said, distributing Krsna conscious books is like dropping bombs in the war against ignorance. Book distribution can check the rampant march of the degraded forces of this age.
Once while Srila Prabhupada was on a layover at an airport in Japan, a young Japanese man approached him with serious spiritual questions. Srila Prabhupada was pleased and amazed: He had never before visited Japan, but his books had reached there and were having an effect.
The Bhaktivedanta purports, which emanated from Srila Prabhupada's lotus mouth, enlighten all who read them. Srila Prabhupada is the true representative of Srila Vyasadeva, the personification of knowledge. Anyone who wishes to do good to the world can step forward to distribute Srila Prabhupada's books. Lord Krsna says that no one is more dear to Him than one who preaches His glories. World Enlightenment Day gives us all an opportunity to go out armed with Srila Prabhupada's books and shower them into the laps of faithful conditioned souls. Prabhupada ordered us, "Distribute books, distribute books, distribute books."
Beyond the Centennial
Devotees throughout the world have this year tried in many ways to improve ISKCON and themselves. Now we must continue the work. As part of our Centennial observance, we focused on enhancing our purity in four ways: Education and Training, Uniting Prabhupada's Family, Strengthening ISKCON, and Increasing Prabhupada Consciousness. It's by carrying on these ideals that we can have the purity to expand book distribution, prasadam distribution, and the chanting of the holy names. We'll be able to spread the glories of Lord Krsna and His pure devotees in every town and village of the world.
This is the last Centennial bulletin. We'd like to thank the editors of Back to Godhead for offering us this forum. Thanks also to those who read the columns and felt inspired to take part in Centennial events.
Ebe yasa ghusuk tribuvana: May Srila Prabhupada's glories be spread throughout the three worlds!
Centennial T-shirts, pens, bags, badges, posters, photo frames, key chains, etc.
Harinama Manual (by Indradyumna Swami)
Food For Life Manual (by Priyavrata Dasa)
Memorials Manual (by Gaurangi Devi Dasi)
Centennial Coloring Book (by Syamapriya Devi Dasi)
Sahasra Tirtha Jala book (by Tattvavit Dasa & Jaya Vijaya Dasa)
Raising Spiritual Standards poster
Centennial Global Ministry Centennial House
62 Sant Nagar
New Delhi 110065, India
Phone: +91 (011) 6469633 or 6481977. Fax: +91 (011) 6225277 or 6872378.
Feed the World Day: November 23
World Enlightenment Day: December 14
Opening of Prabhupada's Samadhi Museum: Vrndavana, November 14, 1996
World Congress for the Synthesis of Science and Religion: Calcutta, January 6-12, 1997
Inauguration of the Centennial Memorial: Mayapur, March 22, 1997
Temple openings in New Delhi, Ahmedabad, and Bangalore: April, 1997
News and Events
On September 5 and 6 ISKCON temples worldwide were filled with devotees and guests paying homage to Srila Prabhupada on the one-hundredth anniversary of his appearance. With 12,000 copper and silver kalasas (water pots), celebrants bathed Prabhupada's murti (sculptured form) with 10,000 liters of sacred water collected from 1,008 holy places. A book printed for the occasion tells the stories of more than one hundred tirthas (holy sites) and the adventurous efforts of the devotees who collected the water.
In Calcutta, Srila Prabhupada's birth city, the bathing was performed with 1,008 kalasas. Look for a full report with photographs of the Calcutta festival in the next issue of Back to Godhead.
New Book and Video Released
Srila Prabhupada's Geetar-gan, a Bengali poetical rendition of the Bhagavad-gita, was released on Prabhupada's appearance day in the form of a book, giving the transliteration and English translation, and six audio cassettes. On the cassettes, professional musicians from Calcutta sing Prabhupada's verses to music of their own composition. The cassettes were produced by HMV, under the direction of Bhakti Caru Swami.
Also released on Srila Prabhupada's appearance day: Parikrama, a full-length Bengali feature film. It describes how the lives of several people are changed by a circumambulation of Navadvipa, the birthplace of Lord Caitanya Mahaprabhu. The film was produced by Bhakti Caru Swami, working with professional artists. The screenplay was written by the well-known playwright Shaktipada Rajguru.
One who has experienced his own true identity understands that all things exist as paraphernalia for giving ecstatic pleasure to the Supreme Lord.
Srila Bhaktisiddhanta Sarasvati Thakura
One who has unflinching devotion for the Personality of Godhead has all the good qualities of the demigods. But one who is not a devotee of the Lord has only material qualifications that are of little value.
O my Lord [Krsna], persons who smell the aroma of Your lotus feet, carried by the air of Vedic sound through the holes of the ears, accept Your devotional service. For them You are never separated from the lotus of their hearts.
The materialist thinks that persons engaged in Krsna consciousness are crazy fellows wasting time by chanting Hare Krsna, but actually he does not know that he himself is in the darkest region of craziness because of accepting his body as permanent.
His Divine Grace A.C. Bhaktivedanta Swami Prabhupada
How can the fire of material suffering continue to burn the hearts of those who worship the Supreme Lord? The Lord's lotus feet have performed innumerable heroic deeds, and the beautiful nails on His toes resemble valuable jewels. The effulgence emanating from those nails resembles cooling moonshine, for it instantly relieves the suffering within the heart of the pure devotee, just as the appearance of the moon's cooling light relieves the burning heat of the sun.
Sri Havir Rsi
The Absolute Truth is Sri Krsna, and loving devotion to Sri Krsna exhibited in pure love is achieved through congregational chanting of the holy name, which is the essence of all bliss.
Srila Krsnadasa Kaviraja Gosvami
Saintly persons, who are friends to all living entities, have a peaceful consciousness. They have controlled their senses and minds, and they easily attain the path of liberation, the path back to Godhead. Being unfortunate and attached to the miserable material condition, a materialistic person cannot associate with them.