An excerpt from
by Satsvarupa Dasa Goswami
January 12, 1972
Some of Jaipur's prominent citizens had devised a plan to share expenses and responsibilities in arranging a pandal* program . ... At Srila Prabhupada's request, devotees from Delhi and other Indian centers came to Jaipur to join him.
Prabhupada took a small room within the Govindaji temple compound, and his disciples moved into a nearby house. ...
Throughout the week-long festival large crowds continued to come for Prabhupada's morning and evening lectures. Prabhupada would chant prayers from Brahma-samhita and then lecture in Hindi. Not only did the citizens of Jaipur honor Prabhupada, but they honored his disciples also. Here, more than in most other Indian cities, the devotees were treated not as foreigners or outsiders but as sadhus.
"This whole city is made of devotees of Radha-Govindaji," Prabhupada commented.
The police chief, who visited often, was cordial and respectful. As Srila Prabhupada and his disciples went from place to place in Jaipur during the day, policemen would salute them, halting traffic to let them pass. People invited Srila Prabhupada to their homes, and they treated him like a king.
*In India Srila Prabhupada and his disciples would often conduct Krsna conscious programs under pandals, or large canopies, and thousands of people would attend.
Statement of Purposes
1. To help all people discern reality from illusion, spirit from matter, the eternal from the temporary.
The Dolly Follies
Can they clone a human being?
They can. They will. They may already have.
Does a clone have a soul?
Yes. A clone has consciousness, and consciousness means soul.
How does the soul enter the cloned body?
No problem. It already happens in nature, with identical twins. One cell splits into two bodies, and by Krsna's arrangement a soul enters both.
Is there any history of cloning in the Vedic scriptures?
Yes, in Srimad-Bhagavatam. When the goddess Diti was pregnant, Lord Indra by mystic power entered her womb to kill the expected child. He cut the child to pieces—but each piece, to his surprise, became a child. These children became known as the forty-nine Maruts. (An early lesson to cloners: Once you start slicing, you may not always end up with what you set out for.)
Will cloning be good for humanity?
Sometimes good, sometimes bad, always a waste of time. Cloning is but another attempt to coax nature into giving us a better life on earth, a life more like what we want.
But nature, by design, acts in such a way that we always get precisely what we deserve: a mixture of happiness and distress brought about, measure for measure, by our own karma. No matter what you do, you can't squeeze a better life out of it.
Real advancement of civilization lies not in tinkering with nature, vainly trying to make a better world, but in moving forward in self-realization and getting out of the material world altogether. If we're not doing that, we're simply wasting our time.
But as long as we're here, can't cloning bring about some good?
Some good, perhaps. But here's a secret of nature: Whenever we try to exploit her, get more, make things better, she always retaliates. Result: More comfort at the start, more trouble later down the line. It's "the rubber-band effect": It always snaps back on you.
As stated in Srimad-Bhagavatam (7.9.17), duhkhausadham tad api duhkham atad-dhiyaham: As long as we're in material consciousness, whatever we do to remedy our troubles just makes our troubles worse.
With the comfort of the car comes the poison of exhaust; with the efficiency of nuclear power plants, disasters like in Chernobyl.
In the long run, will cloning make for a better world? No. As usual, worse.
What kind of karma must you have to become a clone?
Bad. Good or bad, karma's all bad, because karma means repeated birth and death.
Apart from that, precisely what kind of karma must you have? The ins and outs of karma are subtle, too subtle to consistently predict. The cell biologists at the Roslin Institute who cloned Dolly the sheep might come back in their next lives as sheep, perhaps cloned ones, bleating a truly excellent "baa baa" and wearing superior coats of wool.
What will cloning mean for bioethics?
It'll mean a mess. The pattern is becoming familiar: Science charges ahead, and human life becomes more vexatious, more dangerous, and further off from spiritual realization.
What does the Hare Krsna movement advise?
Live simply, chant Hare Krsna, get out of this material world, and go back home, back to Godhead.
Cow-Killing and Karma
I would just like to thank you for that wonderful article by Jayadvaita Swami "Mc-Cow-Killer Comes to India" (Jan./Feb. '97). Clear and to the point. We hope BTG will print more articles in the future about the relationship between cow-killing and karma, also the relationship between meat-eaters and trying to have a spiritual life.
I am incarcerated in the New York State corrections system. I recently stumbled upon your magazine while searching the library cart for something interesting to read. To be truly honest, I had no intentions other than to browse through it. But I found the topics fascinating, and I ended up reading it twice. In fact, it was so immensely intriguing that I decided to write and thank you all at Back to Godhead.
Peace and Calm for the Soul
I always wait for the next issues of BTG and IWR [ISKCON World Review—now Hare Krishna World]. To read these publications cover to cover is one of the most relaxing and peaceful acts for mind and body. Without any question, since I have started Krsna prayers, I feel much more strengthened, happy, and at peace. To be spiritually raised and freed from the miseries of the cycle of birth and death is a prize that is the most valuable in this material world. This is the actual peace and calm for our soul, which might have been tormented for thousands of years in the past in different life forms. To reach Sri Krsna's planet and never come back is what all of His devotees strive for. That is the answer to all of the questions put to us by this material world.
The Best Ever
I just wanted to write a short note and compliment you and the BTG staff on the Jan./Feb. edition of BTG. I thought it was the best BTG I've ever seen (not because my article happened to be there). The layout, the color schemes, the photos, the articles—I found everything attractive and captivating. Thank you for taking this service on and making BTG what it should be for the glorification of Srila Prabhupada and the sankirtana movement.
Where Among The Ten Avataras?
I have been associating myself for some time with devotees of the Hare Krsna movement, and simultaneously I have had the pleasure to read some books written by Srila Prabhupada, including the translation of Bhagavad-gita, and have listened to many discourses. I am attending arati and occasionally performing devotional service. This has really revived my Krsna conscious heart. It is a real bliss.
However, there is one little question remaining unanswered and in need of some clarification. According to our scriptures, there are ten avataras, and the name of Sri Caitanya Mahaprabhu does not appear among them. Please clarify.
OUR REPLY: The ten incarnations you mention are among the most well known of Lord Krsna's avataras (incarnations), but the Vedic literature tell us that the Lord comes in innumerable avataras. Although Lord Caitanya is not among the ten avataras, He is mentioned in the Vedic literature. Srila Prabhupada cites at least ten references in his commentary on Sri Caitanya-caritamrta (Adi-lila 2.22). Although we can't list all the references, here is one of the most important, taken from the Srimad-Bhagavatam (11.5.32):
"In the Age of Kali, intelligent persons perform congregational chanting to worship the incarnation of Godhead who constantly sings the names of Krsna. Although His complexion is not blackish, He is Krsna Himself. He is accompanied by His associates, servants, weapons, and confidential companions." The verse is spoken by the saint Karabhajana Rsi when describing the incarnations of Krsna for the four ages—Satya, Treta, Dvapara, and Kali.
Although Lord Caitanya is sometimes called an avatara, He is actually more than that; He is Krsna Himself—the avatari, or source of all incarnations. So that is another reason why we don't see Lord Caitanya on the list of ten avataras—just as we don't see Lord Krsna's name on that list.
Prabhupada and other devotees of Lord Caitanya have not changed the scriptures by accepting Lord Caitanya as Krsna. Rather, the evidence is available to those eager to find it.
I really enjoyed the article about the devotees in Sarajevo. I thought it was well written and uplifting. Those devotees are amazing! I hope you will do a follow-up on them in a year or two.
I particularly like the articles on various temples around the world, especially when they include pictures of the temple rooms and Deities. I only have one complaint. The magazine is too short and too infrequent! I wish you would return to a monthly edition and expand the articles. I would gladly pay more for the subscription. Please consider expanding, I need more! Hari bol.
OUR REPLY: Thank you for your praise. We'd like to expand in every way at once. BTG now has twice as many pages as when it was monthly. To expand further, we need more subscribers. (Spread the word!) Thank you again. Hare Krsna.
Evolving in Understanding God
After reading the many interesting articles and letters concerning the position of demigods, I felt the desire to write and express my ideas. Being somewhat a student of world religious thought and spiritual philosophy, with a strong affection towards the Hare Krsna movement, I see things a little different from the views now being expressed.
The core differences between the personalists and the impersonalists have already been discussed, so I will not go into this except to state that the stance of the impersonalists considers all—demigods, man, etc.—to be the manifestation of the impersonal Brahman or nirguna, being attributeless. The basic idea of the personalists, especially the Gaudiya Vaisnavas, is that Lord Krsna is the Supreme and is a person, Himself different from the jivas [living beings], though not in essence, and the demigods are subordinate servitors to the Supreme Lord Krsna Himself.
The main issue being put forward in BTG is that worship of any deity other than Krsna is inferior. It seems what is missing here is the understanding of the soul's expanding consciousness through the process of transmigration. The reason that various religious systems exist, such as Islam, Hinduism, Christianity, Buddhism, and the numerous sects and sub-sects, is that God manifests knowledge of Himself in various aspects to appeal to men of varying levels of consciousness. Meaning that no one system of belief or understanding is either inferior or superior but each respects a different aspect of the Absolute.
While I personally am more inclined towards the understanding of God as Sri Krsna as taught by Srila Prabhupada, this is due to my present level of consciousness, and the practices of Saivites, smartas, or Mormons are not inferior. The various demigods, while being personalities themselves, do represent different aspects of the Godhead. So they are both separate personalities and representatives of the differing levels of God's manifestation.
OUR REPLY: First of all, we should understand clearly the difference between the jiva and God. God, or Krsna, is unlimited, all-pervasive, the source of everything, and so on. Though the jiva is made of the same spiritual substance as God, the jiva is infinitesimal and always subordinate to God, the Supreme Controller.
Because the demigods are empowered by Krsna to perform certain functions, they are said to represent Krsna. But representing God and being God are not the same thing. The demigods are jiva souls in powerful material positions. They are not the Supreme Lord.
While it is true that people can evolve in their spiritual understanding, "evolving" implies improving. There are higher and lower levels of understanding. The highest understanding is that Krsna is the Supreme Lord, we jivas are minute parts of Him, and we are His eternal servants. The demigods are not the Supreme Lord; they are jivas. We are not part of the demigods, and we are not their eternal servants. They are servants of Krsna.
So if one is worshiping the demigods, we cannot say that he has no need to progress. We have to point out that his worship is inferior. Krsna Himself says that it is avidhi-purvakam—"performed with an improper understanding."
It is not that all understandings are equal. Srila Prabhupada gave the analogy of a person approaching a mountain. From a distance the mountain looks like a cloud, as one gets closer one sees trees, and when one reaches the mountain one sees all kinds of variety. Many people have only a hazy understanding of the Absolute Truth, but the Bhagavad-gita, Srimad-Bhagavatam, and other Vedic scriptures give us a clear view. In Back to Godhead we try to present that for everyone's benefit.
One may be a demigod worshiper, or whatever, but on learning that the highest truth is to worship the Supreme Lord, why not accept it? We're not saying that people who worship God without a clear understanding are bad, but we're convinced that the most clear and exact explanation of the Absolute Truth is available in the Vedic literature, so we want to allow everyone to take advantage of that knowledge.
Saving Vedic Culture
India's spiritual culture has always been a source of attraction for people across the world. But bogus gurus, who posed as leaders of India's ancient Vedic culture, cheated and destroyed the spiritual lives of thousands of Western people. For these bogus swamis and miracle men, meditation was a way to become famous and acquire wealth. They killed the real essence of sanatana-dharma.
Srila Prabhupada, a bona fide guru and a great scholar, exposed such so-called gurus and their rascal philosophy. Srila Prabhupada, whose mind was filled with the nectar of honesty, propagated without any change the Vedic philosophy that great acaryas of Vaisnavism like Sri Ramanuja, Madhva, Nimbarka and Lord Caitanya Mahaprabhu had taught. Srila Prabhupada propagated Vaisnavism in the Western countries without compromising with the ironlike materialistic Western way of life.
Today's young generation in India are opting for the imported version of materialistic life, which they see on Madonna movies or at Michael Jackson concerts in India, and are leaving behind in the dustbin their original Vedic culture.
But due to the efforts of ISKCON, India's Vedic culture has taken root all over the world. And by the efforts and hard work of foreign preachers and devotees, many young Indians have had their eyes opened and been inspired to keep their gemlike culture.
I greatly admire the efforts of the pure devotees of ISKCON to preach to the young-generation Indians who are aping the Western materialistic way of life. These efforts inspire the young generation to love their Vedic culture. When they see foreign preachers practising Krsna consciousness they also feel inspired.
I congratulate and admire the good work of ISKCON in broadcasting the Vedic knowledge throughout the world, thus saving Vedic dharma from destruction. Keep up the good work.
Jagannath Das Munirkha
We'd like to hear from you. Please send correspondence to: BTG, P. O. Box 430, Alachua, FL 32616, USA. Fax: (904) 462-7893. Or BTG, 33 Janki Kutir, Next to State Bank of Hyderabad, Juhu, Mumbai 400 049, India. Phone: (022) 618-1718. Fax: (022) 618-4827. E-mail: email@example.com
Pure devotees of the Lord can make any place pure, because they are always in His company.
A lecture given in Geneva, Switzerland, on June 1, 1974
by His Divine Grace A.C. Bhaktivedanta Swami Prabhupada
My lord, devotees like your good self are verily holy places personified. Because you carry the Supreme Personality of Godhead within your heart, you turn all places into places of pilgrimage.
TIRTHA MEANS "holy place of pilgrimage." In every religion there is the system that followers go to a holy place of pilgrimage. In India there are many holy places—Gaya, Prayag, Mathura, Vrndavana, Haridvara, Ramesvaram, Jagannatha Puri, Navadvipa. Some of them are very prominent, and many more are not prominent. Similarly, the Muslims go to Mecca, Medina, and the Christians go to Jerusalem.
In human society there must be some religious process; otherwise, it is animal society. And in every religion there is the recommendation to go to holy places of pilgrimage.
The first-class devotees are themselves holy places, and wherever they go they make that place a holy place of pilgrimage. That is the idea expressed in this verse, spoken by Maharaja Yudhisthira to Vidura, who had just returned home. Although Vidura belonged to the royal family, he left home after his nephew Duryodhana misbehaved toward him.
Vidura was very fond of his elder brother Dhrtarastra, so before the Battle of Kuruksetra, Vidura always gave Dhrtarastra good counsel: "My dear elder brother, why are you intriguing against the Pandavas?" But Dhrtarastra would not hear the younger brother's advice.
Dhrtarastra's son Duryodhana thought, "My uncle Vidura is always trying to persuade my father not to take part in vanquishing the Pandavas."
So Duryodhana used harsh words to criticize Vidura, who, although the son of a king, was not born of the queen. He was born of a maidservant. Formerly, the queens had many maidservants, and they also sometimes bore children by the king. Such a child was called dasi-putra, "son of a maidservant." Legally they could not inherit anything from the king.
Vidura was born like that. He was not born of the queen but of a maidservant. But his elder brother Dhrtarastra liked him very much. Dhrtarastra raised Vidura nicely. He got him married and gave him sufficient property. Dhrtarastra was very kind to him. And therefore Vidura was also very much obliged to him and always gave him good advice. Vidura was a great devotee.
Vidura left home because of the family dissension between the Kurus and the Pandavas. And after the Battle of Kuruksetra, when everything was finished, he returned. He still had affection for his eldest brother and gave him advice: "My dear brother, now everything is finished, including all your sons, for whom you intrigued so much. You are living shamelessly. You treated the Pandavas, your nephews, very badly. You wanted to kill them in so many ways. There was a battle, and your sons and grandsons are all dead. And still you are shamelessly living in the house of your nephew, whom you treated so badly. You have no shame."
In this way Vidura strongly criticized his brother.
Then Dhrtarastra surrendered: "My dear brother, what do you want me to do?"
Vidura said, "Come with me at once. Don't stay here."
So Dhrtarastra left home, underwent austerities, and got salvation.
Here, when Vidura returns after the battle, Yudhisthira, his nephew, is receiving him. Yudhisthira knew, "Our uncle Vidura was always on our side and tried to protect us." Yudhisthira was very pleased to welcome Vidura.
During the Kuruksetra war Vidura had traveled to holy places of pilgrimage and spoken with his spiritual master, Maitreya. Because he had been traveling to holy places, Yudhisthira Maharaja told him, "My dear uncle, you are such an exalted devotee that you do not even need to travel to the holy places of pilgrimage, because wherever you stay will turn into a place of pilgrimage."
Narottama Dasa Thakura sings, tirtha-yatra parisrama, kevala manera bhrama: "To go to holy places of pilgrimage is only a mental satisfaction." Actually, if one is fully surrendered to the lotus feet of Krsna, he is so exalted that wherever he lives becomes a holy place of pilgrimage. The pure devotees of Krsna are always thinking of Krsna. Premanjana-cchurita-bhakti-vilocanena santah sadaiva hrdayesu vilokayanti. They cannot forget Krsna even for a second. They are carrying Krsna. Therefore, because Krsna is with the devotee, wherever a devotee goes becomes a place of pilgrimage.
Cleansing the Holy Places
It is also said that ordinary persons go to the holy places of pilgrimage and leave their sinful reactions there. That is one purpose of going to the holy place. One thinks, "Whatever sinful activities I have done during my life, now I leave them here, and I become purified."
It is true that one becomes purified by visiting a holy place. But the ordinary man does not know how to keep his life purified. He returns home and commits the same sinful activities. In the Christian church people must go to the church weekly and perform atonement because they keep performing the same sinful activities. This is not very good. Once purified, you should remain purified.
When the holy places of pilgrimage become piled up with the sinful reactions of the common man, a saintly person goes there and makes the holy place clean. Bhavad-vidha bhagavatah. Bhagavata means "one who has a relationship with Bhagavan." Bhagavan is linked to the word bhagavata. Anything in relationship with Bhagavan, the Personality of Godhead, is called bhagavata. This book [Srimad-Bhagavatam] is called Bhagavata because it has nothing to do with anything except the activities of the Supreme Personality of Godhead.
There are two kinds of bhagavata: the book Bhagavata and the person bhagavata. Bhagavata reading should be performed by the person bhagavata. Then it is very nice.
Bhagavatas tirtha-bhutah. The person bhagavatas are already pure holy places of pilgrimage. Mahad-vicalanam nrnam grhinam dina-cetasam. Therefore, because they are merciful they travel all over the world to purify the ordinary human beings.
Materialistic persons think, "It is my duty to live comfortably, to give all facilities to my family or to my society or to my nation, to earn my livelihood and spend for sense gratification." That is their philosophy. They do not know anything more than that.
Especially in the Western countries people are expert in adjusting materially for sense gratification. They know how to live comfortably in the material world, but they have no spiritual information. That is the defect of the Western civilization. People have only a vague idea of God, practically no idea. But human life is not meant simply for living very comfortably in material life. The other necessity is that we should know Bhagavan; we should become bhagavatas.
People Must Learn
Because people have practically no information about Bhagavan, they should learn something from the Krsna consciousness movement. Therefore we have published so many nice books. It is the desire of Krsna that people read these books and try to understand the Krsna philosophy, the science of Krsna, the science of God. Then their life will be perfect. Otherwise, this one-sided civilization of material comforts will not help them. However you may create your city or home—very nice, clean, materially comfortable—you will not be allowed to stay. That defect people do not understand. And after you leave this body, there is no certainty what kind of body you are going to get. There is certainty according to the material laws, but people do not know it.
One's next body will be manufactured according to one's present association with the material modes of nature. There are three material modes of nature: goodness, passion, and ignorance. If you keep yourself in touch with the material mode of goodness, you will be promoted to a higher standard of life. Urdhvam gacchanti sattva-sthah. Therefore, you may enjoy material life, but you should at least keep yourself to the standard of brahminical culture. Then there is a guarantee that you won't degrade yourself; you'll get a higher status of life in the higher planetary system: Janaloka, Maharloka, Tapoloka, Satyaloka.
But if you keep yourself as you are, you will stay in this planetary system, called Bhurloka. Above this is Bhuvarloka, then above that the heavenly planets.
If you keep yourself in the association of the mode of ignorance, or in foolishness, then you go down. Jaghanya-guna-vrtti-stha adho gacchanti tamasah. Tamasika means "abominable character," and abominable character entails four things: illicit sex, intoxication, meat-eating, and gambling. These are the exhibition of tamo-guna, the mode of ignorance. If you keep yourself in the association of the mode of ignorance, then you are going to become adhah. Adhah means "down." You will go down to the lower planetary systems.
We don't criticize you for trying to live comfortably in the material world. Do that. But don't associate with the mode of ignorance. That is very risky. Whether you stay in householder life or brahmacari [celibate] life or sannyasa [renounced] life, at least keep yourself always in goodness. Then your position is all right. Otherwise, it is very risky.
The Western people do not do that. They keep themselves in the mode of ignorance. Theirs is a very risky civilization. At least you Europeans and Americans should know this, and you should distribute this knowledge. It is your duty to save people. They do not know this knowledge. As soon as there is talk of goodness and warnings about sinful activity, immediately they go away. Immediately. Yesterday a gentleman came, and just when I began to talk about pious activities and impious activities, he immediately left—"I have got another meeting."
That is the position of people today. Upadeso hi murkanam prakopaya na santaye. If your give a foolish person good instruction, he will be angry. He will not take it. Payah-panam bhujanganam kevalam visa-vardhanam. That situation is compared to giving milk to a snake. Snakes are fond of drinking milk. So sometimes a snake charmer will mix milk with bananas and give that to the snake to eat to his satisfaction. But what is the result? As soon as the snake becomes strong by eating, his teeth become filled with poison. Within the pocket of the teeth is venomous poison. When the snake bites, the poison is emitted, and the bitten man or animal dies.
If you are infected by some disease, you will have to suffer from that disease. This is a fact. It is scientific. Similarly, if you are infected with a particular mode of nature, you will have to suffer accordingly. If you stay in ignorance, you will get the body of an animal.
Therefore every one of you should become a pure devotee, a first-class devotee. In this age it has been made very easy. Simply keep yourself cleansed by not indulging in the four prohibitions [no meat-eating, no illicit sex, no intoxication, no gambling], and chant Hare Krsna. Then you will all be first-class devotees. And wherever you will go—wherever you speak, wherever you sit—you will be able to purify that place.
Keep your spiritual strength intact. Chanting the Hare Krsna mantra keeps Krsna always within your heart.
Krsna consciousness is not expensive at all. You don't have to make an exalted throne for Krsna. You can imagine, "In my heart I have placed a diamond throne, and Krsna is sitting there." That thinking is accepted by Krsna. "I have kept a diamond throne—a very costly throne—because Krsna is coming. He will sit down here." That thinking is not false. It is a fact. You create such a situation within your heart. "Now Krsna has been seated. Let me wash His feet with Ganges water, Yamuna water. Now I shall change His dress to first-class costly garments, then decorate Him with ornaments. Then I shall give Him something to eat." You can simply think like this. This is meditation. Svantah-sthena gadabhrta. It is such a nice thing. You can sit down anywhere and think that Krsna is sitting in your heart and you are receiving Him in such a nice way. It is so easy.
If you simply carry Krsna within your heart always in devotional service—exalted devotional service—and chant Hare Krsna, and think of Krsna, wherever you will go you will purify the whole place. Svantah-sthena gadabhrta. It is a fact. It is confirmed in the Srimad-Bhagavatam. Try to stay in your position as a devotee, and as far as possible teach these rascals who are simply attracted by the glaring material stones and wood. Let them have some knowledge, and do benefit to your countrymen, to your society, to your family.
Thank you very much.
By Satsvarupa Dasa Goswami
ALTHOUGH AGNOSTICS and atheists often speculate that God is dead, Srila Prabhupada said the pure devotee can hand us Krsna. Krsna is the property of the pure devotee, and if we are willing to receive Him we can meet Him.
Prabhupada was so convinced in his own faith that people found him able to arouse their faith in Krsna even when they had never heard of Krsna before.
Srila Prabhupada says something so astounding to the Western mind that it's amazing that any of us accepted it. Prabhupada says that the cause of all causes is a bluish cowherd boy named Krsna. Krsna's transcendental body is completely spiritual, and from that body comes all existence. Krsna spreads throughout all existence in His energies, yet He is always in Vrndavana, playing a flute.
Prabhupada teaches this matter-of-factly, and he insists that it is not a sectarian idea. To practice any religion is fine, he says, as long as its basis is loving devotion, but ultimately this beautiful bluish cowherd boy with a flute in His hands is the supreme attractive form.
The doubting mind tells us that there is no reason to believe all this, but Prabhupada says there is every reason to believe it. As a matter of fact, there is no reason not to believe it. He is so strong in his conviction that he cuts our doubts at the root. He doesn't allow us to relegate Krsna to Hindu philosophy or discount Him in any way at all. So Prabhupada's followers have become soldiers, writers, teachers, and philosophers in this cause of spreading Krsna consciousness, and don't expect me to speak otherwise. I have come to agree with Prabhupada: Krsna is the most attractive form of God, and chanting His name holds the best hope for going back home, back to Godhead.
Still, someone may ask, why the specific person Krsna out of all the world's gurus, messiahs, avataras, and prophets?
I remember being with Prabhupada in Atlanta, Georgia. I had been out distributing full sets of his books in universities around the country. Prabhupada asked, "Are the professors liking our books?" I told him they were buying the books but they didn't really accept what he was teaching as truth. Rather, they thought of us as representatives of yet another sect.
Prabhupada readily agreed, "Yes, we are one of many sects, but we are the sect of the Absolute Truth."
That was Prabhupada's Krsna. To Prabhupada, Krsna was not a vague or ephemeral figure but a substantial person, someone Prabhupada knew personally. And yet Krsna is the Absolute Truth.
This reminds me of how the residents of Vrndavana referred to Krsna as Nanda Maharaja's Krsna, because when Krsna appeared He played as the son of the cowherd Nanda. Although many amazing things happened in Vrndavana after Krsna's appearance, the elder members of the cowherd community always discounted Krsna's role in them. Demons were killed, devastating forest fires stemmed, twin arjuna trees felled, but the elder members always managed to find a cause other than Krsna. After all, Krsna was just a tiny child, dependent on them for His meals.
Then Krsna held aloft the giant Govardhana Hill for seven days, and the residents of Vrndavana all took shelter under the hill. They all saw Him do it, and it confused them. And there was something else they didn't understand. They asked Nanda, "We do not know why we are so attracted by your son Krsna. We want to forget Him, but this is impossible. Why are we so naturally affectionate toward Him?"
"Your son Krsna." As one devotee prays, "Let others, fearing material existence, worship the Vedas, the Vedic supplementary Puranas, and the Mahabharata. But I shall worship Nanda Maharaja, in whose courtyard the Absolute Truth, the Supreme Brahman, is crawling as a child."
Prabhupada, of course, represents teachings received in a disciplic chain. In fact, he said that his success came from his simply repeating his spiritual master's words. Still, Srila Prabhupada, with his own realization of Krsna, has sweetened the teachings he so faithfully represents.
It is not incompatible that Prabhupada faithfully carries a message and yet lends the message his own special taste. Just as a parrot is said to sweeten a fruit by touching it with its beak, so Prabhupada sweetens the presentation of Krsna by speaking it from his own realization. Therefore, I simply pray to come to know Krsna as Srila Prabhupada knows Him.
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 30
By Yamuna Devi
THIRTY YEARS AGO India's classic sweets were unknown to most people in the world. Today, thanks to Srila Prabhupada, millions have sampled them at ISKCON centers, and thousands make them at home. Srila Prabhupada began introducing the West to Indian sweets in the fledgling months of his movement in New York and San Francisco, from August 1966 through May 1967. At this time Srila Prabhupada cooked for himself almost daily, frequently teaching new cooks as they came forward to learn.
Early ISKCON Sweets
During this period, aside from teaching the simple, soul-satisfying daily fare of rice, dal, capatis, and vegetables, Srila Prabhupada introduced—especially for feast menus—sweets, savories, pastries, and chutneys. Of six of those early sweets, four are quick and easy to make: Simply Wonderfuls (Khara Pera), Melt-in-Your-Mouth Chickpea-Flour Confections (Besan Laddu), Semolina Halva with Golden Raisins (Suji Halva), and Creamy Pineapple-and-Rice Jubilee. Two other dishes are khir (a creamy rice/milk pudding, called sweet rice), and gulabjamun (fried milk-fudge balls soaked in sugar syrup, called ISKCON bullets). Most novice cooks find little difficulty preparing the first four dishes, but khir is slightly more challenging to prepare well, and is certainly more time consuming, especially when made in quantity. Even proficient cooks find gulabjamun a trial to master.
Quick and Easy Sweets Defined
As a rule, classic milk-based Indian sweets are neither quick nor easy to make. They use one of two staple ingredients: unsweetened condensed-milk fudge, called khoa, or unripened fresh cheese, called chenna. In quantity, these staples take several hours to prepare.
Most early ISKCON kitchen crews were largely untrained and understaffed, and practical shortcuts seemed the order of the day.
Learning from Srila Prabhupada and from professionals in Indian sweet shops around the world, devotees found that many khoa-based sweets can be made not only with khoa but instead with a fudgelike replacement made quickly from ghee, powdered milk, and a little milk. Srila Prabhupada made Simply Wonderfuls and gulabjamuns that way, and devotees loved them. Using the replacement for khoa enabled cooks to make massive quantities of sweets quickly for distribution. Some ISKCON centers still make sweets this way, along with classic versions.
For those faithful readers following this cooking series, now is the time to delve into the introduction to the chapter on sweets in the class textbook, Lord Krishna's Cuisine. Before you cook through the recipes in the Quick and Easy Sweets section, carefully study the text and familiarize yourself with a few ingredients you'll use repeatedly in the next sixty-plus recipes in the section. Whenever possible, use organic ingredients.
Get milk from different sources—in a perfect world, from protected cows—and note the difference between pasteurized and unpasteurized. Study the milk's color, taste, and aroma, and the feel of viscosity from the fat content. Make yogurt from different qualities of milk to learn the resulting tartness, body, and texture. Study the properties of as many varieties of granulated and liquid sweeteners as possible. Natural-food stores offer a good selection. Compare the flavor and sweetness of the different choices.
In general, white and light-hued sweeteners showcase sweetness with minimal flavor; darker sweeteners add flavor. If you want milk-based sweets to stay a light color, instead of refined cane sugar try using granulated fructose, pale-blond Florida Crystals, or demerara sugar ground in a blender at home.
Going through the book, prepare the ambrosial rice dish on page 658, a Srila Prabhupada Sunday Love Feast creation from his Willard Street apartment in San Francisco. Try it as is, or replace the pineapple with another seasonal fresh fruit, and the whipping cream with stirred yogurt. Change the ingredients in keeping with the season, but keep the dish creamy and pleasantly sweet.
Until next time, chant Hare Krsna and be happy.
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.
(Whisked Saffron Yogurt-Cheese with Dried Cranberries and Toasted Pecans)
You can make this version of srikand without shopping at an Indian grocery store, and it goes well with everything from hot puris to fresh fruit.
2 (475 ml) cups yogurt cheese (strained and hung yogurt)
Place the yogurt cheese, saffron, sweetener, and dried cranberries in a bowl; whisk until creamy and light. Chill for at least two hours, garnish with nuts, and offer to Lord Krsna.
The Fragrance of Krsna
One evening while in his garden in New Dwarka (Los Angeles temple), Srila Prabhupada looked into the sky and said, "So, is the sky the color of Krsna?"
A disciple said, "In your Krsna book it says that Krsna is the dark bluish like the thunder cloud."
Prabhupada said, "The sky is the color of Krsna. The light from Krsna's bodily effulgence makes the sky blue.
Sometimes after leaving the garden he would go back to his room and listen to the recording of the Srimad-Bhagavatam class he had given that morning. Then he would have me pick night-blooming star jasmine growing on the bushes just outside his garden. The flower's scent is especially fragrant at night.
One evening while holding a sprig of blossoms up to his nose for several minutes, he said, "Ahh, this is Krsna."
I would often bring them to his bedroom just before his evening massage. Throughout his massage he would smell them off and on. He would then keep them on his pillow, close to his nose, all night. The following morning I would find the flowers gently lying on the pillow exactly where they had been the night before. The flowers looked as fresh and fragrant as ever, as if they had just been picked. His Divine Grace is always showing us how Krsna is in every part of the creation.
—Excerpt from a work in progress by Srutakirti Dasa.
A Day in the Mayapur Preschool.
By Radha-priya Devi Dasi
BEFORE I JOINED ISKCON I was a kindergarten teacher in Zurich. I vividly remember one boy who used to come to school with a red cape around his shoulders and proudly declare, "I'm Superman." Here in the Radha-Madhava preschool at the Hare Krsna community in Mayapur, West Bengal, the children playfully imitate Krsna and Balarama, or Ramacandra, Laksmana, and Hanuman. Seeing the children playing like that, one can easily understand that Krsna consciousness is the most natural thing for every living being, and that it is also a lot of fun. Recently Bhakta-avatara, just three and a half, said, "You know, Krsna is in my heart as Supersoul, and if somebody wants to do something to me, Krsna will come out and snap him!"
I take care of eight three- to five-year-olds. Their parents live in Mayapur, but the group is truly international: Govardhana and Sita are from Switzerland, Sacisuta from Armenia, Rasarani from America, Bhakta-avatara is half Italian and half Indian, and the others are local Bengalis.
Children at their age have a hard time sitting still, and they can't concentrate for long. Unless taught through activities both constructive and interesting, they'll tend to wander about, make a mess, and fight with one another. So I come to school with a lesson plan.
Today we begin with a game designed to teach the ABCs.
Then I ask the children, "Who is Krsna?"
"The Supreme Personality of Godhead," the kids shout enthusiastically.
"And He appears in many different forms," I add.
We then sing a song of the ten incarnations of Krsna.
Now the time for arati has come. We have a small altar, and every day a different child offers incense, a ghee lamp, water, a flower, and a camara fan, while the others chant together in kirtana.
Tomorrow is Lord Ramacandra's appearance day, so after our little arati I tell them the story of Ramacandra, the ideal king who protected His wife, Sita, and killed the demon Ravana. Then, because we are learning the letter B (as in "bow"), I have them draw Lord Ramacandra's bow on their little blackboards.
At 11:30 A.M. we have a fifteen-minute break. While the children eat prasadam snacks their mothers have packed for them, I correct yesterday's homework and assign more.
There is one hour left, and we are going to use it for free play. Govardhana has chosen to look at the picture dictionary, while Kausalya, a little Bengali girl, wants to make a pearl garland for decorating the altar. Rasarani and Bhakta-avatara are building a temple from wooden blocks, Sita is drawing Krsna with colored pencils, and Pramila is dressing dolls with saris and dhotis.
Of course, the children need to be supervised so that they cooperate with one another and their play is disciplined and Krsna conscious. When I give a sign for cleaning up (I ring a particular bell), the children put their games or toys back on the shelf and sit down again.
To end the school day, we sing a song about the lotus feet of Lord Caitanya, by whose mercy we are able to reside happily in His wonderful holy place. Now each child receives his or her homework, and I explain individually what they have to do. Finally, I have the children close their eyes while I play the flute for a few moments. I want them to leave the school in a peaceful frame of mind. While they sit with their eyes closed, I go from one child to another, touching each head, giving permission to stand up and go to their mothers, who are already waiting outside.
Radha-priya Devi Dasi graduated from the Menzingen kindergarten seminary in Switzerland in 1983. She joined ISKCON in 1989 and moved to Mayapur with her husband in 1994. In November 1994 she began the Radha-Madhava preschool.
Not Religion But Sanatana-Dharma
By Shrikumar Poddar
SOMEONE ASKED ME, "Are you a Hindu?"
I: Do you have some time?
He: Why do you ask?
I: If you are in a hurry I will say I am a Hindu. But if you have some time, then I will say I am not a Hindu.
He: You are trying to confuse me.
I: You see, my friend, there is no religion called the Hindu religion. But what the majority of the people of India believe in is called Hinduism by people of other faiths. In reality, we in India do not have any concept of religion. There is no word in our vocabulary for religion.
He: Then what do you believe in?
I: We believe in the concept of dharma. Dharma refers to the principles that uphold the universe and therefore apply to everyone. Those principles are the same for everyone, regardless of religion or faith. They exist whether we have discovered them or not. For example, gravity existed before Newton discovered it.
The ultimate principles are called sanatana, or "eternal," because they will exist forever, even if we forget them. So sanatana-dharma refers to the eternal principles that uphold the universe.
He: Please go on and explain everything clearly.
I: You see, both of us believe in God. By God we mean the one who is omniscient, omnipotent, omnipresent. There is no place where God is not. God is in everything. He permeates every cell of your body and mine. He is present in every atom of the universe. So the nature of everything is divine. You and I are both part of the Divine.
He: What you say does make a lot of sense to me.
I: You see, we are all divine, but still there is a big difference between us and the divine incarnations like Rama and Krsna. What is the difference?
He: I'm not sure.
I: The answer is quite simple. Divine incarnations are infinitely great, so They are aware of Their divinity at every moment, whereas you and I are eternally small, so we forget our divine nature. We think of ourselves as the material body rather than as part of the Divine.
Our life here on earth is meant to develop the knowledge of our true nature by conscious effort toward perfection.
He: Do you believe in salvation?
I: Yes. We would call that concept nirvana, or liberation from the cycle of birth, death, and rebirth. An individual soul is born again and again for thousands or millions of lifetimes until it achieves nirvana.
He: Millions of lifetimes?
I: My friend, we can have instantaneous nirvana in this lifetime if we can develop mastery over our own self. But for this we must give up all our desires and serve Lord Krsna without any expectations of return.
He: You've given me a lot to think about.
Shrikumar Poddar, publisher and social activist, is a longtime friend of Back to Godhead.
From Bhagavad-gita As It Is, Introduction
THE ENGLISH WORD religion is a little different from sanatana-dharma. Religion conveys the idea of faith, and faith may change. One may have faith in a particular process, and he may change this faith and adopt another, but sanatana-dharma refers to that activity which cannot be changed. For instance, liquidity cannot be taken from water, nor can heat be taken from fire. Similarly, the eternal function of the eternal living entity cannot be taken from the living entity.
Sanatana-dharma is eternally integral with the living entity. When we speak of sanatana-dharma, therefore, we must take it for granted on the authority of Sripada Ramanujacarya that it has neither beginning nor end. That which has neither end nor beginning must not be sectarian, for it cannot be limited by any boundaries.
Those belonging to some sectarian faith will wrongly consider that sanatana-dharma is also sectarian, but if we go deeply into the matter and consider it in the light of modern science, it is possible for us to see that sanatana-dharma is the business of all the people of the world—nay, of all the living entities of the universe.
Bhakti-yoga at Home
Words of Love
By Rohininandana Dasa
AFTER PERFORMING kirtana, the congregational chanting of the Lord's holy names, devotees customarily bow their heads to the floor to offer obeisances to the Lord and His representative, the spiritual master. And before reciting the mantras to Srila Prabhupada or their own initiating spiritual master devotees usually add the prayers known as Prema-dhvani—"words of love." One devotee calls out "all glories" to a list of holy persons and places, and after each name the assembled devotees respond with "Jaya!" which means "All glories!"
The following are the main Prema-dhvani prayers recited throughout ISKCON:
Jaya om visnu-pada paramahamsa parivrajakacarya astottara-sata Sri Srimad A.C. Bhaktivedanta Swami Maharaja Prabhupada ki jaya!
Rohininandana Dasa lives in southern England with his wife and their three children. Write to him in care of BTG.
Avoiding Maya's Traps
This exchange between His Divine Grace A.C. Bhaktivedanta Swami Prabhupada and some of his disciples took place in Seattle, Washington, on October 14, 1968, at the close of a lecture on Bhagavad-gita As It Is.
Srila Prabhupada [hearing the bells and music from a passing ice cream truck]: What is that?
Disciple: An ice cream truck, Srila Prabhupada.
Srila Prabhupada: Oh, ice cream. [Laughter.] You are taking ice cream? Huh?
Disciple: No, Srila Prabhupada. Sometimes they make it with eggs or slaughterhouse by-products or who knows what. But anyway, the trucks go up and down the street.
Srila Prabhupada: Canvassing?
Srila Prabhupada [laughing as the ice-cream-truck music grows louder]: Don't take ice cream. This is maya. [Laughter.] "Come on, come on—enjoy me. Come on, come on—enjoy me." [He says it musically and laughs.] As soon as you enjoy, you become entrapped. That's all.
Just like fishing tackle. The fisherman throws the bait and invites the fish, "Come on—enjoy me. Come on, come on—enjoy me." And as soon as the fish tries to enjoy—hupp! [Laughter.] Finished. [Prabhupada imitates the choking sound of a hooked fish.] And then the fisherman looks at the fish and says, "Where will you go now? Come on into my bag. Yes. I'll fry you nicely."
You see? So these things are all explained in the Srimad-Bhagavatam. The fish loses his life because of his uncontrolled tongue. He cannot check the dictation of the tongue; therefore, he loses his life. You see?
Similarly with the deer in the forest. The hunter will play very nice flute, and all the deer will assemble to hear him playing so nicely. In that way the hunter gets one of the deer into his trap, and the deer loses his life. In other words, just as the fish loses his life by tasting, the deer loses his life by hearing.
Tasting. Hearing. And the elephant is caught by sexual attraction. Do you know how the elephant is captured? Yes, a trained she-elephant goes to the male elephant, and he follows and drops into a big pit. He remains there for some time. Then he's shackled and taken away. In this way the Bhagavatam offers various examples of how our material senses can trap us in illusion.
That big black bee—what is it called? Bhramara? What is the English name for that big black bee? [Making an illustrative buzzing sound:] Onnnhhh.
Srila Prabhupada: It may be. In any case, he is entrapped by smelling the lotus flower. He enters within the lotus flower and loses his life.
So, being pulled by just one uncontrolled sense, each of these different creatures is losing his life. And yet in this modern so-called civilization, we have got all our senses uncontrolled. So, just imagine, what our position is? These examples are from the animal and insect kingdoms, wherein only one uncontrolled sense is prominent. But in this modern so-called civilization, all our senses are uncontrolled. So what is our position? You see?
In this connection another example is given in the Srimad-Bhagavatam. Imagine a man who has got six wives, and he has entered his house, and suddenly all the wives are dragging him—"You come to my room." You see? One wife has taken his left hand, another has taken his right hand, still another has taken his left leg, and yet another has taken his right leg, and so forth. And he's wondering, "Where shall I go?"
You see? So in this modern society, this is our position as human beings—overwhelmed by so many senses which to date we have neglected to control. Instead of controlling the senses, most people are becoming servants of the senses. Most people are losing their opportunity, this great opportunity of human life—to control the senses in Krsna's service and then go back to His eternal abode.
[A disciple raises his hand.] Yes?
Disciple: Srila Prabhupada, those people who focus their attention on advancing to the higher material planets, where sense enjoyment is even more easily available—do they have even more opportunity to become entrapped?
Srila Prabhupada: No. Anyone within this material world is entrapped by this sense enjoyment. Either in the higher planets or in these middle planets or in the lower planets. For instance, among the human beings there is sense impetus, and among the lower animals there is sense impetus.
So both the human beings and the animals have sense impetus. Therefore we must ask, What is this so-called human being? We so-called civilized beings—what are we doing? The same thing that the lower animals are doing, namely eating, sleeping, mating, and defending. The same thing that the dog is doing.
Anyway, wherever you go in the material world, either in the higher planets or in these middle planets or in the lower planets, sense gratification is prominent. Only in the spiritual world is there no sense gratification. In the spiritual world there is simply an endeavor to satisfy Krsna. Here everyone is merely trying to satisfy his own senses. That is the law of the material world. That is material life. And as long as you go on trying merely to satisfy your own senses, you will stay in this material world.
But as soon as you turn your senses toward satisfying the senses of Krsna, you reawaken your spiritual life. It's a very simple thing. Hrsikena hrsikesa-sevanam: use your senses to satisfy Krsna, the Lord, the master of your senses. That is bhakti. That is devotional service.
You have senses. So you have to satisfy them. Because you have these senses, you have to satisfy them. The question is how you can actually satisfy them. The proper method. But you do not know the proper method. The conditioned soul does not know that when he simply tries to satisfy Krsna's senses, his senses will be automatically satisfied.
For instance, as I have said many times, if I want to see to the health of a tree's branches and leaves, I do not pour water directly on them. Rather, I pour water on the root. Or if I want to see to the health of my arms and fingers, instead of trying to feed them directly I give the foodstuffs to my stomach, and automatically my arms and fingers are satisfied.
This secret we are missing. We are thinking we shall be happy by trying to satisfy our senses directly. Krsna consciousness means don't try to satisfy your senses directly—try to satisfy the senses of Krsna. Automatically your senses will be satisfied. This is the secret of Krsna consciousness.
The opposite party—the karmis, or materialists—they are thinking, "Oh, why shall I satisfy Krsna? Why shall I work for Krsna the whole day and night? Let me work for my own satisfaction." The devotees are working the whole day and night for Krsna, and the karmis are thinking, "What fools they are. We are very intelligent. The whole day and night we are working for our own sense gratification, and what benefit are they getting from working for Krsna?"
This is the difference between the materialists and the spiritualists. The spiritualists' endeavor is to work the whole day and night strenuously, without any halt, simply for Krsna. That is spiritual life. And the materialists make the same endeavor, always trying to satisfy their personal senses. This is the difference between the materialists and spiritualists.
So the Krsna consciousness movement means that we have to train our senses to satisfy Krsna. That's all. For so many thousands and millions of lifetimes we have simply tried to satisfy our personal senses. Let this lifetime be dedicated for satisfying Krsna's senses. That is Krsna consciousness. At least dedicate this one lifetime. For so many lifetimes we have simply tried to satisfy our personal senses. Let this lifetime—at least this one lifetime—be dedicated for satisfying Krsna's senses. Let me try and then see what happens. And we will not be the loser. Even if we sometimes wonder whether we are being inconvenienced by not directly satisfying our senses, still we will not be the loser.
The Treasure of the City of Victory
In Jaipur, the capital of "the Land of Kings,"
By Visakha-priya Devi Dasi
WHILE VISITING JAIPUR, the capital of the Indian state of Rajasthan ("the Land of Kings"), I have the good fortune to stay two houses away from the city's most famous Krsna temple, the Govindaji Temple. I can easily walk to mangala-arati, the early-morning worship, without having to look for a ricksha. At 4:55 A.M. I walk out my host's front gate and join the hundreds of rickshas, scooters, bicycles, and pedestrians hurrying toward the temple. The street buzzes with spiritual energy.
I walk across the temple compound and leave my shoes under a tree, praying to find them again among the thousands of shoes scattered all around. The large pink latticed wooden doors to the Deity room are still locked and chained, but a large crowd has already gathered, and people are singing again and again, "Govinda Hari, Gopala Hari, Jaya Jaya Prabhu Dina-dayala Hari."
As the doors open, a white curtain is drawn sideways, unveiling another white curtain. Worshipers throw coins and flower petals toward the Deity chamber. Then the second curtain opens to disclose the beloved forms of Sri Sri Radha-Govinda. A shower of coins and petals falls at Their feet, amid shouts of "Jaya ho! Govinda! Radhe-Govinda!"
The men gather to the left, the women to the right, and while the pujari (priest) offers arati (a ceremony of worship), the people sing. All at once, devotees ring brass gongs, at the back of the hall a group plays hand cymbals and clay drums, and small groups carry on with separate kirtanas—a joyous cacophony in praise of Lord Govinda.
As the pujaris prepare to sprinkle sacred water over the heads of the worshipers, the crowd edges forward. No need to push—the mighty waves of the crowd's ecstatic love for Govindaji carry one forward, closer and closer to the railing separating the hall from the raised platform around the Deity chamber. Some devotees dip under the rail and, arms outstretched, press their foreheads against the marble platform strewn with ghee-soaked grains. Their torsos forward, lower body in the kirtana hall, they are pressed still further forward by eager seekers of Govindaji's mercy. Yet soon they pull themselves back from under the rail and rejoin the crowd.
For about half an hour, Lord Govinda's devotees happily walk a circle around the Deity chamber, singing "Radhe-Govinda, Jaya Radhe Govinda, Radhe-Govinda, Jaya Radhe-Govinda, Jaya Radhe-Krsna, Pyare Krsna, Radhe-Govinda ..." And while encircling the Deity, or on their way out, people share Deity prasadam. Women sit together in small groups to sing or speak about Govindaji and His wonderful pastimes.
Looking at the great multicolored river of devotees, crosscurrents flowing in and out of the Govindaji Temple, I remember Srila Rupa Gosvami's "warning": "My dear friend, if you are indeed attached to your worldly friends, do not look at the smiling face of Lord Govinda as He stands at Kesi-ghata on the bank of the Yamuna. Casting sidelong glances, He places His flute to His lips, which seem like newly blossomed twigs. His transcendental body, bending in three places, appears very bright in the moonlight."
Yes, Govindaji has ruined the worldly life of many of the people of Jaipur. All they seem to care for is to see Him and get His mercy.
Visakha-priya Devi Dasi, originally from France, joined ISKCON in 1978 in South Africa, where she served until 1991. She now lives at ISKCON's Krsna-Balarama Temple in Vrndavana, India, and is one of the managers of the Vrndavana Institute for Higher Education (VIHE).
Jaipur: City of Victory
IN 1727 THE RAJPUT KING Jai Singh II laid the foundation for a new capital city on a recently annexed territory. Jai Singh dedicated the city to Lord Govindaji and named it Jaipur, "city of victory."
Jai Singh had Jaipur designed according to silpa sastra, the part of the Vedas that deals with design, architecture, and construction. The city was so well planned that even today town planners from all over the world come to study its layout.
The original city was protected by seven fortified gateways (pols), all still standing, and a masonry wall twenty feet high and nine feet thick. The city has now spread far beyond the wall, much of which has been torn down for building material.
The buildings of old Jaipur are built from solid blocks of reddish-pink sandstone. Sandstone readily cleaves into slabs, so buildings not built of it are faced with it. Jaipur was painted pink for a visit by Prince Albert in 1853 and became known as the Pink City. Staying true to the name, Jaipur still keeps the buildings diligently pink.
The major streets of the city are 111 feet wide. They cut the straight, narrow side lanes at right angles. The main street, two and a half miles long, runs from the Chand Pol to the Suraj Pol. On this street lies the entrance to the City Palace.
Within the precincts of the City Palace, which covers one seventh of the original city, Jai Singh built the Jantar Mantar, then India's greatest astronomical observatory. Its sundial gives the time down to two-second accuracy.
Jai Singh's great attachment to Lord Govinda led him to place Govindaji's temple across from his palace and link the two with fountains bordered with four rectangles of gardens. The gardens, where peacocks still strut about, are neatly surrounded by stone balustrades. From his bedroom Jai Singh could see Govindaji on the altar.
The flat-roofed temple includes a hall in front of the Deities, a wide area for walking around them, and a large Deity chamber topped with marble-embossed domes with brass spires. The walls and ceilings of the temple are decorated with intricate white stucco designs on a pink background.
North of the temple are extensive pools and gardens dotted with chatras, or gazebos. The rectangular gardens line the sides of two intersecting rows of fountains and pools. A watchtower stands above each of the four entrances to the temple compound.
Other Temples to Visit
Madhu Pandita Gosvami worshiped these Deities in Vrndavana. The temple is located in the Topkhanadesh area of Jaipur, near Chandpol Bazaar. Ask for directions when you're in the area.
These are the original Deities worshiped by Srila Jiva Gosvami in Vrndavana. The temple is on the right side of Chaura Rasta Road, about two hundred feet south of Tripolia Bazaar Road.
In this temple devotees worship the Deities of Radha-Vinoda originally worshiped by Srila Lokanatha Gosvami at the Radha-Gokulananda Temple in Vrndavana.
The Vinodilal Temple is on Tri-poliya Bazaar Road, about 150 feet west of Chaura Rasta Road. To the left of shop 295, a flight of stairs goes up to the temple.
Srila Jayadeva Gosvami worshiped these Deities. The temple is about five kilometers from downtown on Amber Road, on the right, next to a temple called Kanak Vrindavana. Look for the sign "Kanak Vrindavana and Govinda Deoji, Birla Restored."
Plane: Direct flights from Delhi, Bombay, Calcutta, Udaipur, Varanasi, Aurangabad, and Ahmedabad.
Bus: From Delhi, 5 hours. From Vrndavana, 6 ½ hours. Deluxe buses are available from the interstate bus terminal in Delhi. Private companies also offer deluxe buses to Jaipur.
Train: From Delhi, about six hours, depending on the train. Trains also run from Agra, Udaipur, Hyderabad, and Mathura. Reservations are required.
Car: Taxis are available for round trips from Delhi or Vrndavana.
Jaipur has many hotels. We list here some recommended in the travel guidebook Holy Places and Temples of India, by Jada Bharata Dasa (available from our Hare Krsna Catalog).
Lower priced: Ever Green Guest House (phone: 363-4460), Jaipur Inn (316-157), Diggi Palace (373-091), Swagatam Tourist Bungalow (310-595).
Middle: Aangam Travellers Home (370-880), Atithi Guest House (378-679), Madhuban (319-033), Hotel Mangal (75126), Hotel Megh Niwas (32266).
High: LMB (565-844), Hotel Khasa Kothi (375-151), Narain Niwas Palace Hotel (310-3710).
Strictly vegetarian restaurants: LMB (Johari Bazaar), Natraj and Surya Mahal (MI Road), Annapurna (behind Raj Mandir Cinema), Woodlands (Sawai Ram Singh Road), Canakya (MI Road).
ISKCON has a center in Jaipur, of modest size, about twenty minutes from the middle of town. The center has no rooms for overnight guests, but otherwise has the full range of ISKCON programs.
The address: E-243 Ram Path, Shyam Nagar, Jaipur 302 001; phone: (0141) 364022.
Though now worshiped with
By Padma Nabha Goswami
THE GOVINDAJI DEITY of Jaipur was originally installed in a beautiful temple in Vrndavana by Srila Rupa Gosvami, one of the main contemporary followers of Lord Sri Caitanya Mahaprabhu.
Rupa Gosvami and his elder brother, Sanatana Gosvami, were born in a brahmana family, and their given names were Amara Deva and Santosh Deva. They grew up in Ramakeli, then the capital of Gauda Desa (now West Bengal). After the early death of their father, their grandfather Mukunda Deva, a high-ranking government officer, raised them and taught them Sanskrit and Arabic.
Rupa and Sanatana then served as prime minister and treasury minister in the government of the Mogul king Hussain Shah. Impressed with their work, the king gave the title Sakar Mallik to Sanatana, and Dabhir Khas to Rupa. Because the brothers adopted the customary beards and dress of Muslims, they were accused of becoming Muslims. Despite these charges, however, Rupa and Sanatana regularly discussed the Vedic scriptures, worshiped the Deity, and remembered the pastimes of Radha and Krsna. Actually, they were patiently waiting for the mercy of Krsna while reluctantly serving the Mogul government.
The Mercy of Lord Caitanya
The brothers heard of the glories of Sri Caitanya Mahaprabhu and wrote to Him, begging for mercy. Mahaprabhu purified the brothers by coming to Ramakeli and changing their names to Rupa Gosvami and Sanatana Gosvami.
After some time Rupa Gosvami left his job, friends, and family to take complete shelter of Mahaprabhu. Following Mahaprabhu's path through the Jharikhanda Forest, Rupa Gosvami hurried toward Vrndavana.
When Rupa arrived in Prayag (Allahabad), he heard that Sri Caitanya, having returned from Vrndavana, was staying at Dasasvamedha Ghata, beside the Triveni, the confluence of three holy rivers. Rupa ran there and offered obeisances to the Lord, who embraced him.
For the next ten days Mahaprabhu spoke to Rupa about prema-dharma, pure devotional service. Even today that place by the Dasasvamedha Ghata is called Rupa Siksasthali, "the place where Lord Caitanya taught and inspired Rupa Gosvami in the science of bhakti." Sri Caitanya told Rupa to first visit Vrndavana and then meet Him later in Jagannatha Puri.
In Mathura, Rupa Gosvami met Subuddhi Raya, a great devotee of Lord Caitanya and a former king of Gauda Desa. Rupa wandered in Vraja Mandala (Vrndavana) visiting the places of Radha-Krsna's pastimes.
After staying briefly in Vrndavana, Rupa went to Puri, where he shared a cottage by the ocean with Thakura Haridasa. There Rupa Gosvami began writing two dramas, Vidagdha Madhava and Lalita Madhava. Daily Sri Caitanya would visit Rupa and Haridasa and talk about Krsna. After ten months Lord Caitanya asked Rupa to move to Vrndavana.
After a long separation, Sanatana met Rupa in Vrndavana, and together they wrote books, taught Krsna consciousness, and found the lost places of Radha-Krsna's pastimes.
From old scriptures they learned that a beautiful Deity of Govindaji (Krsna) had been installed at a place known as Yogapitha in Vrndavana five thousand years ago by Vrajanabha, king of Mathura, the great-grandson of Lord Krsna. Eager to find the lost Deity, Rupa and Sanatana searched Vrndavana, constantly crying out, "O Govinda! O Govinda!"
One day a brahmana boy told Rupa that the Yogapitha he was looking for was now called Goma Tila. Every day a cow poured milk into a hole on top of this tila (hill). Realizing that Goma Tila was a special place, Rupa asked the Vrajavasis (the residents of Vraja, or Vrndavana) to dig up the ground. When they found a gorgeous black Deity of Krsna, everyone spontaneously chanted, "Govindadeva ki jaya! Govindadeva ki jaya!" ("All glories to Lord Govinda!")
On hearing the news of Govindaji's appearance, Lord Caitanya sent Kasisvara Pandita to Vrndavana from Puri, giving him a Deity of Lord Krsna to take with him. Kasisvara Pandita installed the Deity, named Gaura-Govinda, or "Golden Govinda," next to Govindaji. Gaura-Govinda is still worshiped in Jaipur in the Govindaji temple compound.
The Govindaji Temple in Vrndavana
The Govindaji temple in Vrndavana was built by king Man Singh in 1590, at the time of Jiva Gosvami (the nephew of Rupa Gosvami and Sanatana Gosvami). It is the second oldest temple in Vrndavana. The red sandstone used in the construction, although at the time reserved for government buildings, was donated by the Mogul emperor Akbar to his friend Man Singh. Emperor Akbar also gave seventy acres of land for Govindaji's upkeep.
The deep red of the stone, the ornately carved designs, and the temple's massive size distinguish the Govindaji temple from all others in Vrndavana. The highest dome, in the center of the temple, has a huge lotus flower intricately carved from a single slab of red stone.
A stone panel outside the temple states that Man Singh built the temple with stone given by Emperor Akbar. It also lists the completion date and the names of the architect and the chief mason.
Another stone panel, embedded in the wall beside the Deity room, bears Sanskrit verses. Although not completely readable, these verses resemble Jiva Gosvami's Govindastaka, eight prayers glorifying Lord Govinda.
Govindaji Goes to Jaipur
In 1669 Moguls destroyed many Vrndavana temples, including much of the Govindaji temple. Radha- Govindaji escaped by secretly moving to Radha-kunda, then to Kamya-vana, and finally to Govindapura, near Jaipur.
In 1772 the king of Jaipur placed Radha-Govinda in the garden temple behind the City Palace. Every day thousands of devotees from Jaipur and other places come to see Radha-Govinda and the Gaura-Govinda Deity of Kasisvara Pandita. The pujaris follow strict rules and regulations in worshiping Radha-Govindaji with sincerity and love.
In 1819-1825 Nanda Kumar Basu opened a new temple for worshiping the prati-bhu murtis (expansions of the original Deities) of Radha-Govinda in Vrndavana. This temple stands behind the original Govindaji temple and attracts hundreds of devotees daily.
In 1873, two hundred years after the Moguls had ransacked the beautiful Govindaji temple in Vrndavana, Mathura district magistrate F. S. Growse renovated it. Now the temple is a historical monument protected by the Indian government.
In place of Radha-Govindaji, the Gosvamis of Govindaji have installed Deities of Gaura-Nitai, Giridhari-sila, and Lord Jagannatha, Lord Balarama, and Subhadra Devi. A deity of Yogamaya (one of Krsna's energies), said to have been discovered by Srila Rupa Gosvami, is worshiped in an underground temple next door.
Still the devotees of Vrndavana want Sri Govindaji to return. Nowadays the Moguls no longer present a problem. I know that Sri Govindaji is treated just like a king in Jaipur, but still the devotees of Vrndavana have the Vrndavana mood of love for Govindadevaji. We request the present king to take this request sincerely.
Padma Nabha Goswami, son of Sri Vishwambhar Goswami, is one of the respected servitors of the Radha-Ramana Temple in Vrndavana.
Wise Advice from the Kuru Elders
Bhisma, Drona and Vidura advise Dhrtarastra
Translated from Sanskrit by Hridayananda Dasa Goswami
The sage Vaisampayana is telling the history of the Pandavas to their great-grandson, King Janamejaya. As the narration continues, King Dhrtarastra has just heard the advice of his son Duryodhana, who suggested defeating the Pandavas with trickery, and of Karna, who wants to fight the Pandavas. Now he asks the elders of the Kuru family for their opinions.
After Hearing The Words of Karna, the powerful Dhrtarastra thanked him. After a moment he said, "O son of a charioteer, it is fitting that you, being a great-minded man and a master of weapons, have spoken such words, full of the vigor of combat. But it is best that Bhisma, Drona, and Vidura, along with you two men, together decide the wisest plan, the one that will bring us a happy ending."
Then the famous Dhrtarastra brought all these advisers, O king, and they began to deliberate.
Bhisma said: "Under no circumstances can I condone a war with the sons of Pandu, for as much as I care about Dhrtarastra, that much I care for Pandu and his family, without a doubt. I have the same feelings for Kunti's sons as for Gandhari's, and it is my duty to protect the Pandavas—as much as it is your duty, Dhrtarastra. As I am responsible for the well-being of the Pandavas, so is King Dhrtarastra, and so are you, Duryodhana, and all the other Kurus. Indeed, all the citizens should be concerned to help and care for them.
"This being the case, I find no pleasure in making war with them. Let us rather make peace with those heroes, and let us give them their land at once, for this kingdom is theirs to rule; it is the kingdom of their father and their forefathers, the greatest of the Kurus.
"Duryodhana, my son, just as you see this kingdom as the land of your forefathers, so do the Pandavas [as descendants of the same forefathers] see it as the land of their forefathers. If the austere Pandavas have not really inherited the kingdom, then how does it belong to you, or to any descendant? If you have gotten the kingdom fairly, noble Bharata, then in my opinion surely the Pandavas have gotten it before you.
"We must act with kindness and give the Pandavas half the kingdom, for that is certainly in the interest of all the people. If we do otherwise, it will not be for our good, and you will inherit utter infamy without doubt.
"You must guard your reputation, for a good reputation is surely the greatest power. It is said that when a man's reputation is ruined, his life becomes fruitless. If a man's reputation is unspoiled, Kaurava, then he actually lives. But when his reputation is ruined, O son of Gandhari, he is ruined. You must strictly abide by this religious law, for such is the custom of the Kuru family. O mighty-armed one, act in a manner worthy of your ancestors and yourself.
"From the time I heard that Kunti was lost in the fire, Duryodhana, I had not the strength to see the face of a single creature. And the world does not accuse [the arsonist] Purocana* of evildoing as much as it accuses you, O tiger of men. That the Pandavas are still living relieves you of the dark stain of sin. Indeed, to see the Pandavas again is something to be fervently wished.
* Incited by Duryodhana, Purocana had set fire to a house in which the Pandavas were living. But the Pandavas had secretly escaped unharmed.
"Now that those heroes are alive, even Indra himself, thunderbolt in hand, could not take from them their rightful share of their father's kingdom. O Kuru child, every one of them is fixed in the sacred law, for their minds think only of God's will. Now those princes have been thrown out of the kingdom in the most unlawful way, though they have the same right as any of you to rule it. If you are interested in following the religious law, if you wish to please me, and if you would act for the well-being of the world, you must give the Pandavas half of this kingdom."
Drona said: "Dhrtarastra's friends have been brought together for council, to make a practical proposal that will enhance our virtue and reputation; thus we have heard, your Majesty. And I am of the same mind as the great soul Bhisma. The Pandavas must be given their equal share of the kingdom. That is our eternal religious law.
"We must quickly send to [the Pandavas and their father-in-law] Drupada a man who knows how to speak pleasantly. The man should bring many jewels, O Bharata, and he should go at once. He should bring many gifts to lead Drupada to reciprocate our generosity. Just as you might say it, Dhrtarastra, the man should explain the tremendous benefits and prosperity that will arise by uniting the Kurus and the Pandavas. And he must explain again and again to Drupada and his son Dhrstadyumna that you and Duryodhana are most pleased with this prospect, O Bharata. After the sons of Kunti and Madri are pacified for all the past wrongs, the messenger should explain again and again the propriety and pleasure of unity.
"By your command, mighty king, the messenger must present to Draupadi many shining adornments fashioned of gold. Fitting presents should similarly be offered to all the sons of Drupada and to Kunti and the Pandavas. Thus as soon as Drupada and the Pandavas are completely conciliated, the messenger should speak and explain why they should return to Hastinapura. When those heroes agree to the proposal, a beautiful army escort, headed by Duhsasana and Vikarna, should go and escort them back to the city. Thereupon, O noble king, being regularly honored by you, and with the good wishes of the citizens, they will stand in the place of their fathers. I agree with Bhisma, O Bharata, that this is the way you and your sons must act toward the Pandavas, for in the absence of their father they are also your children."
The Power of Destiny
Karna said, "These two counselors have always worked for money and prestige in all their so-called duties. Why is it very amazing, then, that they cannot or will not give good advice? How can a man who claims to speak what is best for others convince honest people when he speaks with a dirty mind and hidden motives? This shows that when the things we value are threatened, our so-called friends can neither help nor harm us, for in both happiness or distress everything depends on destiny. Whether a man is wise or foolish, young or old, and whether he has friends to help him or not, wherever he goes he encounters all that is destined for him.
"We have heard from authorities that long ago there was a king named Ambuvica in the royal palace of the Magadha monarchs. Deprived of all his senses, the king could only breathe, and he depended on his ministers to perform all the duties of state. His counselor named Mahakarni then became the real master of the country, and thinking he had now gained control of the military, Mahakarni began to despise the king. The foolish man seized all the privileges and properties of the king, including his women and jewels. But after he had gained what he coveted, his greed only increased. Having taken everything, he now desired to formally seize the kingdom. But although he tried, he was unable to steal the kingdom even of a monarch who was deprived of all his senses and could only breathe. This we have heard from authorities. What else could his kingship be, if not a position ordained by Providence?
"If a kingdom is destined for you, then it shall be yours, O king. While the whole world watches, sovereignty will certainly stand with you. And if anything else is destined to be, even by endeavoring you shall not attain the kingdom. Thus, learned man, you must consider the honesty and dishonesty of those who advise you, and you must know whether a particular piece of advice is coming from the wicked or from those free of malice."
Drona said: "We know for what purpose you with your flawed nature have spoken these words, for you are corrupted by envy of the Pandavas and now you would persuade us to adopt your wicked envy. I speak what is absolutely most beneficial for the prosperity and well-being of the Kuru dynasty. If you think that is wicked, Karna, then you tell us what is best. I speak what is most beneficial, and if anything besides this is done, then within a short time the ancient Kuru line will be destroyed. That is my conviction."
The Wisdom of Vidura
Sri Vidura said: "King Dhrtarastra, it is without doubt the duty of your relatives to tell you what is best, but words do not long remain with those who do not want to hear them. The most noble of Kurus, Bhisma, son of Santanu, has told you what is actually good for us, but you do not accept it, O king. Similarly, Drona explained in various ways how we can achieve the greatest good, but that, too, Karna thinks unbeneficial for you.
"But I do not see anyone who is a better friend to you, O king, than these two lionlike men, Bhisma and Drona, nor is anyone wiser than they. These two men are senior in age, wisdom, and education, and they are impartial toward you, noble king, and to the sons of Pandu. They are not less than Lord Rama or King Gaya in their truthfulness and devotion to duty, O Bharata, and there is no doubt about it. From the very beginning they have never uttered a single unbenevolent word, nor have they ever been seen to do you any harm.
"How could these two tigers of men fail to recommend what is actually best for you—these two who are victorious by their devotion to truth? They hold real wisdom, O king. They are the best men in this world, and they will never say anything deceitful, especially when the matter concerns you. That remains my unshakable conviction, O Kuru son. These two religious-minded men will not speak in favor of a particular side for money's sake. Rather, they are thinking of your greatest good, O Bharata.
"These two leaders of men have stated that the Pandavas cannot be overcome, and that is a fact, O tiger of men. It is a fact in your life, and may God bless you to realize it.
"How is it possible to conquer in battle the handsome Arjuna when even Indra cannot defeat that fiery Pandava? And huge Bhimasena has in his mighty arms the strength of ten thousand elephants. How is it possible, O king, for even the gods to conquer him in battle? And it is the same with the twins, who fight with the deadly precision of the sons of Death. How could anyone who wishes to live challenge them on a warfield? And the one in whom relentless drive, truth, mercy, victory, and forgiveness ever reside—how can he, the senior Pandava, be conquered in battle?
"What evades their conquest when Lord Balarama has taken their side, when Lord Krsna is their personal adviser, and when Satyaki stands with them in battle? Drupada is the father of their wife; and his sons, the heroic brothers headed by Dhrstadyumna, are now their brothers-in-law. Knowing that the Pandavas cannot be overcome, and that by ancient and sacred law they have first right to their father's kingdom, you must behave with them rightly.
"Your honor has been tainted by the great infamy of Purocana's act, O king, and now you must cleanse yourself of that stain by showing your mercy to the Pandavas. Drupada is a powerful king who has an old feud to settle with us; an alliance with him would strengthen our side. Many powerful warriors of the Dasarha clan always side with Sri Krsna, and victory is always with Krsna. If a task can be accomplished with kind words, O king, who is so cursed by Providence that he would strive for the same result through war? The citizens of the town and country have already heard that the Pandavas are alive, and they intensely desire to see them. Give to the people that satisfaction, O king.
"Duryodhana, Karna, and Subala's son Sakuni are bound to irreligious acts, for they have a corrupt vision and are childish. Do not put faith in their words. You are a good man, my king, but I have told you long ago that by Duryodhana's treachery our people will perish."
Hridayananda Dasa Goswami, who holds a Ph.D. in Indology from Harvard University, is Professor of Vaisnava Theology at the Graduate Theological Union in Berkeley, California. He frequently speaks at universities and is translating the Mahabharata and other Sanskrit works.
The worldwide activities of the International Society for Krishna consciousness (ISKCON)
ISKCON's trekking swami completed his trans-Canada walk in December. Canadian-born Bhakti Marga Swami started from Vancouver in April and reached the Atlantic Ocean on December 6. He walked 5,355 miles (8,568 kilometers) to promote the need for Canadians to look to spiritual solutions to life's problems. See the next issue of BTG for the full story.
ISKCON's Bhaktivedanta Academy has opened a branch in Udupi, Karnataka, the seat of the disciplic lineage from the great spiritual teacher Madhvacarya. The Academy will offer two- and four-year courses on Vedic scriptures, as well as courses on Sanskrit, Vaisnava history, Vedic cooking, Deity worship, chanting of Vedic mantras, and performance of Vedic rituals.
More than 150,000 plates of Krsna-prasadam went out to villagers during ISKCON's Vraja Mandala Parikrama, a pilgrimage tour of Vrndavana, the holy place of Krsna's pastimes. Devotees held festivals each night during the pilgrimage. ISKCON organizes the Parikrama each year during the month of Karttika (October-November).
ISKCON's center in the holy city of Dwaraka celebrated its first-ever Jagannatha Rathayatra festival, held in late January. Devotees distributed 250 books and 5,000 full plates of prasadam during the three-day festival.
Devotees in Warsaw appeared on Poland's largest television channel during an all-day televised charity drive. An estimated ninety percent of Poland's households—thirty million people—watched the event, headed by Jurek Owsiak, Poland's most famous charity-drive organizer. Mr. Owsiak opened the show by introducing important people present, and as the cameras focused on the devotees he said, "My friends the Hare Krsnas are here to give us beautiful color, garlands, and free vegetarian food."
The thirty devotees present in the studio and at programs held in the studio parking lot passed out seven thousand pieces of prasadam and more than two hundred flower garlands to important guests. An interview with ISKCON leader Indradyumna Swami about the charity drive appeared on the station's evening news.
Satyavak Dasa, a disciple of Srila Prabhupada's, passed away in Cheltenham, England, in November, surrounded by devotees chanting the Lord's pure holy names. Satyavak had spent his last years counseling addicts.
Srila Prabhupada's servant Upendra Dasa left behind his mortal body on his journey back to the eternal abode of Krsna. Upendra Dasa departed peacefully, on January 30, in the midst of devotees chanting Hare Krsna. He had been brought to New Govardhana, a Hare Krsna farm community in Australia, and cared for in his last months by affectionate devotees grateful to him for bringing Krsna consciousness to Australia in the early days of the Krsna consciousness movement.
In Durban, South Africa, 300,000 people attended ISKCON Durban's four-day Rathayatra festival at the end of December. Devotees passed out 200,000 free prasadam meals. Dignitaries attending the festival included Durban Mayor Obed Mlaba, several deputy mayors for various parts of Durban, and Jacob Zuma, chairman of the African National Congress. Mr. Zuma is also minister of economic affairs and tourism for Kwa-Zulu Natal province.
On the main stage, inside a tent with 4,000 seats, guests enjoyed Krsna conscious chanting, plays, and dances throughout the day and evening, while on another stage boys from ISKCON's gurukula school in Mayapur, West Bengal, performed traditional Vedic fire sacrifices. On a third stage one of the country's most famous African pop singers, Mercy Pakela, performed with her band twice each day, inspiring thousands of her fans to sing the Hare Krsna maha-mantra. Ms. Pakela became a Hare Krsna devotee last year.
The minister of education and culture for Kwa-Zulu Natal visited the Hare Krsna center in Durban in January to receive five hundred copies of Srila Prabhupada's Bhagavad-gita As It Is. At a press conference, the minister, Dr. Vincent Zulu, expressed appreciation for the "treasure" of Srila Prabhupada's books, which will be used for a new Hindu Studies course in the province's schools. ISKCON is also giving the department of education two hundred two-volume sets of Srila Prabhupada's Krsna, the Supreme Personality of Godhead.
ISKCON in Kisumu, Kenya, has received four acres of land for a temple and guest house by the side of Lake Victoria. The land was donated by Mr. Ramesh Mehta, a prominent Kisumu businessman. The Bhumi-puja (consecration of the land) was performed on Rama Navami, the appearance day of Lord Ramacandra.
Government leaders in Sierra Leone met with ISKCON leader Bhakti Tirtha Swami in November and received copies of his book Leadership for an Age of Higher Consciousness. The honorable S. M. F. Kutubu, speaker of the house of parliament, introduced Bhakti Tirtha Swami and his book to several members of parliament and other dignitaries.
ISKCON devotees in Medie, Ghana, took part in the first Ghana International Book Fair in November.
Town Chief Niikwao Amponsah attended the opening of the partially completed ISKCON temple in Medie, Ghana. Chief Amponsah has been reading Srila Prabhupada's books, and he chants Hare Krsna on beads every day. The chief's entourage and more than one hundred Indian families also attended the September event.
Commonwealth of Independent States
Srila Prabhupada's lectures are being translated into Russian on tape cassettes for distribution. One devotee, Yasoda Kumara Dasa Brahmacari, is doing the work. He has translated all the recorded lectures from 1966 and is now working on 1967 and 1968. His goal is to complete five hundred tapes by 1998.
In the use of our time
By Giriraja Swami
TIME ... "Time I am, the great destroyer of the worlds," says Lord Krsna, "and I have come here to destroy all people." (Bhagavad-gita 11.32) The powerful time factor represents the Supreme Personality of Godhead. Through time the will of the Lord is manifest.
Time is of utmost importance to all of us, because the duration of our lives is made of time. How we use our time is how we use our life.
Once while speaking to a businessman in Bombay, Srila Prabhupada quoted a verse from Canakya Pandita: "At the time of death one cannot purchase one more moment of life, even for all the riches in the world." Time is invaluable and must be invested carefully. "So we should utilize each moment for the greatest gain," Srila Prabhupada continued. "In the ledger of your life, all time engaged in Krsna consciousness is profit, while all time engaged in material activities is loss. If we want the greatest profit in life, we have to use every moment in Krsna consciousness."
What is the greatest profit? Lord Krsna says, yam labdhva caparam labham manyate nadhikam tatah: "When one actually comes to the perfection of Krsna consciousness, he realizes there is no greater gain." (Bhagavad-gita 6.22)
In the use of our time—our life—we should give priority to the supreme cause, Krsna. "Things which matter most should never be at the mercy of things which matter least." (Goethe)
What could matter more than Krsna consciousness? We are suffering repeated birth, death, disease, and old age. After so many lives we have come to the rare human form, the most valuable asset to free us from the miseries of material existence. Human intelligence is especially meant to realize God and make a permanent solution to life's problems. One who fails to use this most valuable asset for the best purpose—for Krsna consciousness—is the greatest miser and fool.
When we plan our day, our week, and our life, we should first set aside time for the most important activities: discussing and distributing the message of Godhead in the association of pure devotees. "Both by rising and by setting, the sun decreases the duration of life of everyone, except one who utilizes the time by discussing the topics of the all-good Personality of Godhead." (Srimad-Bhagavatam 2.3.17) If we first set aside time for the most important things, we'll take the less important things in proper perspective.
A teacher once brought a large open-mouthed jar into a room full of students. He filled the jar with rocks and asked the students, "Is the jar full?"
The students replied, "Yes."
The instructor then poured pebbles into the jar, filling the spaces between the rocks. He asked again, "Is the jar full now?"
By then the students were a little wise, so they remained silent.
The teacher then poured sand between the pebbles and asked, "Is the jar full now?"
Again the students stayed silent. The teacher then poured water up to the top. Now the jar was full.
What do we learn from this? When we put the rocks in first there is space for pebbles, after pebbles there is still space for sand, and after sand, water. If we fill our schedule with the most important activities first, with Krsna conscious activities, we'll always be able to accommodate less important activities, if we choose to. But if we fill our time first with less important activities—pebbles, sand, and water—there will be no place left for the most important activities, the large rocks. So let us plan our days and weeks to include time for chanting Hare Krsna, hearing Krsna's glories, and serving Krsna's devotees. Then our lives will be completely successful.
One may consider, With so many other commitments, how will I manage time for Krsna? Let us see how the great devotee king Ambarisa did it. Although he was the emperor of the world, he dedicated time to Krsna, and by the grace of the Lord his kingdom and dynasty flourished:
King Ambarisa engaged his mind on the lotus feet of Lord Krsna, his words in describing the transcendental qualities of the Lord, his hands in mopping the temple of the Lord, his ears in hearing the activities of the Lord, his eyes in seeing the form of the Lord, his body in touching the body of the devotee, his nostrils in smelling the scent of flowers offered to the Lord, his tongue in tasting the tulasi leaves offered to the Lord, his legs in traveling to places of pilgrimage and temples of the Lord, his head in offering obeisances unto the Lord, and his desires in executing the mission of the Lord. Indeed, Maharaja Ambarisa engaged all his senses in devotional service and various engagements related to the Lord. In performing his prescribed duties as king, Maharaja Ambarisa always offered the results of his royal activities to the Supreme Personality of Godhead, Krsna, who is the enjoyer of everything. He took advice from faithful devotees, and thus he ruled the planet earth without difficulty.
Maharaja Ambarisa did everything without difficulty, by the grace of the Lord.
We simply need faith (sraddha):
'sraddha'-sabde—visvasa kahe sudrdha niscaya
"By rendering transcendental loving service to Krsna, one automatically performs all subsidiary activities. This confident, firm faith, favorable to the discharge of devotional service, is called sraddha." (Sri Caitanya-caritamrta, Madhya 22.62)
Now by the grace of Srila Prabhupada we have come in contact with the Krsna consciousness movement and have received a chance to realize the greatest gain in life. We can hear about Prabhupada, follow his instructions, and serve his mission. Lord Krsna Himself declares, mad-bhakta-pujabhya-dhika: "Engaging in the service of My devotee is more profitable than trying to engage in My service directly." (Srimad-Bhagavatam 11.19.21)
So let us begin now chanting Hare Krsna, Hare Krsna, Krsna Krsna, Hare Hare/ Hare Rama, Hare Rama, Rama Rama, Hare Hare, following Srila Prabhupada and his devotees.
Now ... Now is the time.
Giriraja Swami serves as an ISKCON governing body commissioner for Mumbai, Mauritius, Spain, Portugal, South Africa, and several other places.
Profit and Loss Statement
Hearing about Krsna
Chanting about Krsna
Praying to Krsna
Becoming Krsna's servant
Making friends with Krsna
Surrendering everything to Krsna
Hearing material sounds
Chanting material sounds
Thinking about material things
Praying to materialists
Becoming the servant of materialists
Making friends with materialists
Surrendering to materialists
Friend to All
Srila Prabhupada rang his bell. I went at once to his room and offered by obeisances. When I sat up, his eyes widened. Looking at me with great concern, he pointed to the floor near my legs and said, "Do you see that bug?"
After looking around for a few moments, I finally spotted the small insect. I nodded in agreement, having no idea what was to come next.
In a very serious voice His Divine Grace said, "I have been watching that bug for some time now, and he has not moved. I think he is hungry. Get a prasadam flower and put him on it to take him outside. Put him on a plant outside so he can get some nourishment."
I did what my most merciful Guru Maharaja asked and returned to the servant's quarters.
Neither of us spoke of the bug again. It was just another wonderful occasion in which he showed me just how indiscriminately merciful a pure devotee is. His Divine Grace didn't feel it was a waste of time to transcendentally mitigate the suffering of even the smallest of living creatures.
—Excerpt from a work in progress by Srutakirti Dasa
Now young readers have a lavishly illustrated volume of "The Beautiful Bhagavatam" just for them.
Srila Prabhupada's translation, with commentary, of the eighteen-thousand-verse Srimad-Bhagavatam is perhaps his greatest literary contribution. Following his predecessor spiritual masters, he had such faith in the spiritual power of the Srimad-Bhagavatam that he made its study one of the main spiritual practices for members of the International Society for Krishna Consciousness. Every morning in every Hare Krsna center around the world, devotees conduct a class on Srimad-Bhagavatam.
Prabhupada wanted to give everyone the chance to benefit from this great scripture, so he encouraged his disciples to distribute it as much as possible. By his inspiration, volumes of the Bhagavatam are in tens of millions of homes around the world.
Srila Prabhupada wanted children also to study Srimad-Bhagavatam. He would sometimes say he wanted the children of the Krsna consciousness movement to learn to read just so they could read the Srimad-Bhagavatam.
To help children read this most important book, a group of devotees in Europe recently worked together to bring out a volume of illustrated stories from the Srimad-Bhagavatam. We spoke about the project with its main organizer, Ajamila Dasa.
BTG: What inspired you to take up this project?
Ajamila Dasa: I could see that devotee children need Krsna conscious books. Our children seem to have voracious appetites for reading. They see that their parents have beautiful books like the Srimad-Bhagavatam, but there is virtually nothing like the Bhagavatam on their reading level.
The boy saint Prahlada Maharaja taught that one should learn and practice the teachings of Srimad-Bhagavatam from childhood. So I wanted to find a way to make the Bhagavatam's teachings more accessible to children. After researching Srila Prabhupada's instructions on how best to serve our youngsters' needs for Vedic literature, I found that in essence he said this: If we condense and simplify the many stories in the Bhagavatam and other Vedic writings, and illustrate them with lots of color pictures, children will love them.
I wanted to complete the first volume during Srila Prabhupada's centennial year, 1996, and by his mercy we offered the first book to His Divine Grace on the auspicious anniversary of his passing.
BTG: Will you do more books like this?
Ajamila Dasa: We plan to produce an eighteen-volume series so that young readers can begin tasting the nectar of Srimad-Bhagavatam. Each volume will also be available on an advanced interactive CD-ROM. This year we'll produce a dramatized narration of the first volume, interwoven with music and sound effects. The eighteen volumes will follow the eighteen-volume edition of Srila Prabhupada's translation and commentary on the Srimad-Bhagavatam. We hope the books and CD-ROMs will encourage young people to take up an introductory study of Srimad-Bhagavatam and then progress further and study the entire Srimad-Bhagavatam in full detail.
BTG: How long did it take to produce the first book?
AD: I thought it would take two years, but it took four. Now that I have a solid system in place, the next volumes should come out more quickly. The second volume is now in production and will appear around the end of this year. Two volumes on the Third Canto will appear around the end of 1998. Some volumes will come out quicker than others, but on average we should be able to produce two volumes every eighteen months.
We'll work hard to keep improving the quality. We want to draw the minds of our young readers away from all the nasty allurements of the material world and nearer to Srimad-Bhagavatam—the literary incarnation of God for this age.
BTG: What obstacles did you face in bringing out the first volume?
AD: Lots. As with any large project, an obvious difficulty was getting the needed money. And of course there are hundreds of details that have to be taken care of. So we sometimes felt overwhelmed. But we took heart from the words of the great devotee Srila Bhaktivinoda Thakura, who said that struggles in the service of the Lord are a great source of joy, because they destroy the darkness of ignorance.
We also gained great inspiration from Bhagavad-gita and Srimad-Bhagavatam. And we prayed to Srila Prabhupada, begging for his mercy.
In short, we worked and prayed and depended on Krsna, and things came together. Perhaps not always in the way we wanted them to come together, but Krsna certainly provided the necessary determination and the results.
An excerpt from Illustrated Bhagavatam Stories, Chapter 4
When Dhritarashtra was conceived in the womb of Queen Ambalika by the sage Srila Vyasadeva, whose body was frightfully old, the terrified queen closed her eyes in horror, and thus Dhritarashtra was born blind.
Gandhari was Dhritarashtra's chaste and devoted Vedic wife. Even before meeting her arranged husband, Gandhari did not become discouraged when she heard that he was blind. In fact, she immediately blindfolded herself and permanently remained that way to avoid being more privileged than her husband.
When Yudhisthira's coronation time arrived, his uncle, Dhritarashtra, refused to give up the throne. Thus an ongoing royal dispute over the inheritance of the throne increasingly disrupted the Kuru monarchy for more than a decade.
The two opposing sides were named the Kauravas and the Pandavas. The Kauravas were Dhritarashtra and his one hundred sons, headed by the oldest and most ambitious son, Duryodhana. The Pandavas were Yudhisthira and his four powerful brothers, Bheema, Arjuna, Nakula, and Sahadeva.
The Kauravas tricked and cheated Yudhisthira and his brothers of their rights to the throne. Influenced by greed and lust for royal power and wealth, on several occasions the Kauravas tried in various devious ways to kill the Pandavas.
In order to avoid a violent conflict with the Kauravas, the Pandavas proposed that they would occupy and rule just five small villages. And although Lord Krishna personally requested the Kauravas to accept the generous and peaceful solution offered by the Pandavas, Duryodhana, representing the Kauravas, arrogantly refused. The Pandavas were thus forced to defend themselves against the Kauravas in what turned out to be a horrific war.
The historic battle that followed was fought at Kurukshetra, in India. Heroic kings and their millions of soldiers came from all over the world to fight for the side they believed was right. The victorious side stood to gain the royal throne of Hastinapura (now known as New Delhi) and rule the world. Although the war lasted only eighteen days, it claimed the lives of many millions of soldiers.
In a far distant place, the blind Dhritarashtra heard his noble secretary, Sanjaya, describe the progress of the horrible massacre. Sanjaya could see the war as if looking at a television in his heart. His guru, Srila Vyasadeva, empowered him with special mystic vision.
Much to Dhritarashtra's despair, the Pandavas won the war with the divine blessings of Lord Krishna. Dhritarashtra lost everything: his one hundred sons, his loyal kings, and his millions of soldiers. Only the Pandavas and a few others survived.
After the war, Krishna put Yudhisthira in his rightful position as King of Hastinapura and the world.
Dhritarashtra remained in the royal Hastinapura palace until his dying days. According to his karma, after death he was destined to suffer in hell for causing the Kurukshetra war. To save Dhritarashtra, his learned half-brother, Vidura, vigorously instructed him on how to atone for his sins and go back to the spiritual world.
But Dhritarashtra's sins against the Pandavas were so serious that Lord Krishna would not grant him spiritual liberation. Instead, the Lord allowed Vidura to persuade Dhritarashtra to do astanga-yoga, a Vedic process of atonement that can save one from going to hell. Thus Vidura, Dhritarashtra, and Gandhari left for the Himalayas.
Upon reaching the southern side of the Himalayan Mountains, Vidura said, "Let us stop here. This is Saptastrota. Many great sages perform penance here because this place has a spiritual influence."
Under Vidura's expert guidance, Dhritarashtra carefully followed the process of astanga-yoga. He bathed in the morning, noon, and evening, and ate no food. He drank only water and purified himself by doing the agni-hotra (fire ceremony). Giving up all thoughts of material attachment for his family, he fully controlled his mind and senses and stopped falsely thinking that his material body was his real self. Then, while controlling his breathing process and sitting postures, he concentrated his mind and senses on God, the Supersoul, who resides in every living creature's heart.
Because Dhritarashtra perfected the process of astanga-yoga, a mystic fire burnt his old, useless body to ashes. The administrative demigods then allowed the soul in Dhritarashtra's body to commence its next birth on a higher planet. Just after the fire had consumed Dhritarashtra's body, the devoted Gandhari voluntarily entered that fire and followed her husband to the same elevated planet.
In ancient times a chaste Vedic wife would feel the pain of her husband's separation as greater than the pain of actual fire. Out of love and loyalty she would voluntarily enter her pious husband's cremation fire, seemingly without pain. Even 125 years ago in India, devoted wives still practised this Vedic custom called sati. But now, sati is prohibited not only because some unscrupulous men forced sati onto women to inherit their wealth but because such a high standard of family devotion is extremely rare.
"I feel satisfied with Dhritarashtra's elevation," thought Vidura, "but I regret that he did not attain spiritual liberation."
Vidura left his body while on pilgrimage at Prabhasa, a holy place in India. The highly elevated Vidura was escorted by demigods back to his planet, Pitriloka, where he resumed his duties as Yamaraja. While on Earth, Vidura mostly learnt and taught the spiritual science of self-realization and love of God. The essence of Vidura's learned discourses can be found in the Third and Fourth Cantos of Srimad-Bhagavatam.
A terrifying fall inspires renewed conviction in the real value of human life.
By Samba Dasa
Varahavana Asrama, Western Ghats, South India
IT WAS A DIM AND WET morning. I could make out the silhouettes of dark, heavy monsoon clouds as they moved slowly across the mountain tops, the rocky outcrops occasionally tearing off tendrils of wispy white cloud that quickly vanished as they brushed against the treetops below.
I was all set for a long drive to Bangalore. It was a Thursday, and I was a bit apprehensive, because Vedic literature tells us that Thursday is an inauspicious day for travel. But my computer had been giving me problems, I really needed it fixed, and this was the only practical time to get it done. Besides, hadn't I traveled on many Thursdays before without problem?
As I made my way to the jeep along the rain-soaked path through the trees, I wondered if I really should bring the whole computer. If the jeep broke down on a barren stretch of jungle road, I'd have to leave the computer unprotected. But it was too late now; I was committed to leaving, so I brushed the thought aside.
As the morning light broke through, I drove the jeep up the steep wooded hillside and onto the road. Our farm is deep in the forest, about five miles from the nearest town. In this region there are only small pothole-filled roads, and the driving is difficult.
After about two hours I reached the hilly Western Ghat section, an area of deep forest. The road climbs steeply alongside a wide rushing river known as the Kempu Nadi, or "Red River." The road runs from the coastal plane of Karnataka up through the Western Ghats, until at three thousand feet it reaches South India's Central Deccan Plateau.
By this time the sky was mostly clear, and the sun was shining brightly. The road was wide, and with little traffic the drive was pleasant. The route is one of the most beautiful drives I know of anywhere in the world, and I was feeling happy. The jeep was responding nicely as I climbed a few tight bends.
The sun was low and at certain places tended to dazzle me. As I rounded one particularly steep turn—crash!—the jeep hit a deep pothole. I was shaken. I slowed down and checked the steering and brakes. Everything seemed OK. I decided not to stop, and drove on as normal.
After another ten minutes or so I started to look for a convenient place to fill my water bottle from one of the many waterfalls. I couldn't find a really good spot, so I decided to pull over at a small trickle falling from a nearby cliff. As I filled my bottle, I noticed a few rust spots on the jeep and made a mental note to get an estimate for a re-spray.
The day was becoming really beautiful. The sun was shining strongly, the air was cool and fragrant from all the forest trees, and everything glistened from the recent rainfall. After months of clouds and heavy monsoon rain, the sunshine was a welcome harbinger of a glorious autumn season.
I got back in the jeep and pressed on. Six more hours of driving to go, and I wanted to reach Bangalore for a late lunch.
The End of a Carefree Drive
The drive was great. I really felt fortunate to be living in this part of the world. Growing up in London, I had always wanted to be an explorer, and now I had a great job looking after a 100-acre plantation deep in the wildlife-filled jungles of one of the world's last virgin rainforests. As I drove, various thoughts streamed by—life was good. Something amusing came to me, and it made me chuckle quietly to myself.
Then the nightmare began.
The road curved slightly to the left. I was traveling about 65 kph. As I approached the bend, something seemed wrong. I couldn't understand what was happening, whether I or the jeep wasn't responding, but somehow the jeep was crossing to the other side of the road. I tried to brake and turn the wheel, but before I knew it the jeep was on the wrong side of the road.
Just then, through a clearing in the trees on the right, I saw the river below. A small tributary flowed through a culvert under the road and then crashed down eighty feet or so into the main river. I realized that I was about to plunge over the culvert and down into the torrent below. At the edge of the road above the culvert was a low wall, about fifteen inches high, and I was heading straight for it, head on.
In recent years I had consulted a number of astrologers. Most of them said I would have a long life. I had often thought I wasn't one of those people who suppose, "It won't happen to me." I had realized that there was no reason to think I was something special, and that there was just as much chance of me being killed prematurely as anyone else. But at the same time, the reassurance of the astrologers, and the fact that I was a practicing Krsna devotee, had somehow lulled me into a false sense of security. Suddenly, all this was being shattered.
I was about to die.
There was no way I was going to survive that drop. Trees lined the bank, the drop was almost sheer, and the river was raging. In the last second before hitting the culvert wall, I had a terrible sense of being let down—those damned astrologers were wrong! I was facing the greatest tragedy of all: death had arrived.
Crash! This time it was for real. The windshield exploded, the jeep hurtled over the edge, I had a sickening feeling of falling through space. Nnnnoooo! It was no use trying to do anything. Sometimes people think, "Well, if this happens to me I'll try to jump out of the jeep and save myself." Or I will do this or that. But when material nature takes over, there's nothing you can do. I suddenly realized I was helpless.
Death had come. It was real. No more time.
I found myself floating in the middle of the jeep as it plummeted upside down into the gorge, my face inches from the canvas top. When would it come? When would I be smashed against the rocks? When would my body be sliced to pieces in a tangled wreck of twisted steel?
There was nothing else to do. Only one person could help me now. Without thinking I just cried out, "Krsnaaaa! Krsnaaaa! Krsnaaaa!" It was automatic, a natural cry for our eternal father. Years of chanting had paid off. I remembered to call for Krsna.
I don't know exactly how I fell. I can't remember how I got the injuries. All I know is that there was a severe jolt, and suddenly I was down at the bottom of the bank careening headlong into the water.
And just as suddenly as the fall had started, the jeep slammed to a violent halt.
Water rushed by on all sides, its roar ringing in my ears. Blood poured from my head. My heart pounded. I was in shock, but I was alive.
I scrambled out of the jeep. Luckily the water was only a foot deep. I searched for a piece of glass or mirror to see the extent of my injuries. I tried to stay calm and rational, but I knew I had to get out of there quickly. I could have had severe internal bleeding and might pass out at any time.
The gashes above one eye and on the side of my head looked ugly—but at least I still had a head. I checked my legs: a deep tear in my left knee, a puncture wound in the back of my right ankle. Not too bad. I found some clean cloth in the back of the jeep and bound my injuries as best I could. It didn't look too bad, but I was far from safe.
I looked in the back of the jeep. I couldn't believe it—the computer and monitor were still in their boxes. My briefcase was still in the front. I waded to the back of the jeep and saw my steel trunk upright on the river bank, though most of the contents (and the bag with my CD player) were under a few inches of rushing water.
The road was at least sixty or seventy feet up a steep, slippery bank. What was I to do? If I just left the jeep, everything was bound to get stolen. It seemed that no one had seen the crash, but I would have to get help, and the jeep would certainly be seen. I thought of hiding the computer—Krsna's computer—in the thick foliage nearby, but the ground was too slippery, and I was in a lot of pain.
The Long Trip Up
The most important thing was to get help. I grabbed my briefcase and some other valuables and started slowly climbing the bank. I couldn't bend my left knee, so it was difficult. Thick brambles and fallen trees lined the path. I almost felt like giving up, but I pushed on, and after around twenty minutes I managed to haul myself onto the road.
It was deserted. No one in sight. Blood oozed down the side of my face, and sometimes it would drip into my eye and obscure my vision. Thirsty, I staggered over to a stream to drink.
I saw a car approaching, so I waved my arms frantically. The car slowed, and then sped on. This happened five or six times, and I began to despair. Then at last a jeep stopped. None of the people in it spoke English, and I didn't speak Kannada. They looked over the edge down at the jeep, and looked at me in disbelief.
Just then another car stopped, and the man spoke English. I asked him to help me retrieve the things from the jeep, and before I knew it he had four or five men scrambling down the steep bank. By this time many cars were stopping, and a crowd was gathering. I stood at the top of the culvert and shouted directions through my interpreter to the men carrying up my things.
Eventually my possessions started to pile up around me. One man made his way over to me and started to examine my injuries. Concerned, he offered to take me to the nearest town, a two-hour drive up the Ghat. I wanted to get my equipment out of there, and he assured me that he would take care of everything. Somehow I felt I could trust him. I was starting to feel weak, and my vision was starting to fragment. He and a few others carried me to his car and let me lie on the back seat, while they loaded my things into the back. At last everything was loaded, and we drove off. I was somewhat relieved; I was alive, my things were all accounted for, and we were on our way.
A New Life
The man was a Hindu, and I started to tell him about the accident. I told him that when I realized I might die I just cried out for Krsna. He smiled and said, "Krsna has saved you. You have a new life now."
We stopped for about half an hour at a small medical center, where I was given a rudimentary examination and many painful stitches. The doctor thought that there were no internal injuries and that I could proceed. We continued on to Bangalore.
A few days later, when I visited the local police station to check on the jeep recovery, I was greeted by the police team who had just returned from the crash site. When they realized that it was I who had been in the jeep, the chief inspector raised his hands in the air and said over and over, "God is great! Krsna is great! Hare Krsna! Hare Krsna!"
He was amazed to see me not only alive but standing on my own two feet, with little apparent damage. Later the police told me that the previous year a car had gone over at the same spot and both passengers had been killed. It was rumored that a Brahma Raksasa (a dangerous ghostlike demon) haunted the spot. These spirits wait for lonely travelers and try to enter their bodies. They choose an opportune moment and paralyze the victim or throw him over a steep edge or in into a river. I had heard of such things before but had never experienced anything like it. Even now I cannot be sure if what happened was due to mechanical failure or something far more sinister.
About a week afterwards I was recovering well, and I decided to set up the computer, which was all dried out by now. It worked perfectly.
Before the crash I had been casual about my spiritual life. Sure, I was a practicing Krsna devotee, but I had become complacent. It had gotten so bad that I had started to belittle the pious habits of more serious devotees as being simply sentimental nonsense. I had become a little irreverent and was treading a dangerous path of criticism. Although I was expert at finding the faults in others, I was not prepared to see my own shortcomings.
For one who has learned the path of right action, to stray from that path is highly dangerous. I believe that Krsna saw that tendency in me. Not long before the crash, in a moment of introspection, I had chided myself for having a poor attitude. I feared that if I did not change I might have to face a severe test. I had hoped that it might not be too severe.
It seems funny to say it, but I'm glad I had that crash. It has made me realize the true value and importance of human life. Just when we think everything is perfect, the material world can take us and smash us to pieces. This world is not a safe place. Better to give it up once and for all and go back home to Krsna.
Samba Dasa, a disciple of Sripada Satsvarupa Dasa Goswami, joined ISKCON in England in 1976. He now serves as the project manager for the Sri Mayapur master plan office.
by Lord Sri Caitanya Mahaprabhu
trnad api sunicena
More humble than a blade of grass,
Something Worth Hearing
By Navina Nirada Dasa
HERE ARE SOME experiences and realizations of devotees who give people Krsna consciousness by giving them books by Srila Prabhupada and his followers. I start with an experience of my own.
While distributing books recently I met a young man very interested in Krsna consciousness. As we were speaking, he put in hearing aids to understand me.
He told me that when he was a child his parents quarreled so much he wanted to lose his hearing, and after a few months he lost ninety percent of it. The doctors had no idea how it happened and said there was no cure.
Then he met devotees and started to chant the maha-mantra. Now he has something valuable to hear, and with the help of his hearing aids he has about sixty percent of his hearing. He is reading Srila Prabhupada's books and chanting Hare Krsna, and he comes to the temple every other day to do devotional service.
The following stories are from other Hare Krsna book distributors around the world.
Bhagavatam for a P.M.
One Sunday morning I felt I wanted to do something valuable for guru and Krsna, so I took a few books with me and went out to distribute in the old section of Stockholm. Because it was Sunday and only ten o'clock in the morning, finding people was difficult.
Then I spotted Olof Palme, the prime minister of Sweden, out on his morning walk. I offered him a book, saying that it was about the most essential questions of life and would be useful for his career.
"I'm not so philosophical," he replied. "Besides, I don't even have any money with me."
Still, he reached into his pockets, found a few coins, and gave them to me, and I gave him a Srimad-Bhagavatam.
Just in time. Two weeks later he was assassinated.
Subala Dasa adhikari
Books and Shoes
I was distributing books in a parking lot in a small town one Saturday when I met a man who told me about his previous meeting with a book distributor.
Years ago the man met a devotee distributing books. The man was fascinated by the books and thought they were beautiful, but he had no money to buy them, because he had just bought a pair of shoes.
The devotee told him that their meeting was not by chance and that he should take the opportunity to buy the books. Convinced, the man left, returned the new shoes, and came back to buy the books.
When the man went home, some friends came to visit and gave him some brand-new shoes.
"No More Books!"
Govinda Dasa was distributing books door-to-door in the CIS. An old woman answered the door.
"Mother, please look at the nice books I have."
"They may be nice, but I won't read them."
"Please, just hold them and look at them."
"No, since I read one small book by—I don't remember the author's name—I realized that no other books are on the same level and I decided not to read any books except by this author."
"What if these books are better?"
"No, they are not better. Please leave me alone. I don't want any more books!"
Govinda Dasa asked her to show him the book she was talking about. He entered the room and saw several empty bookshelves. It looked as if she had once had many books. Now she had one book, sitting alone as if on an altar—Srila Prabhupada's Easy Journey to Other Planets.
Manibhusana Dasa adhikari
A group of devotees traveled from Mumbai to Nasik, Maharashtra, to distribute books at a big religious fair. One of the devotees showed Srila Prabhupada's books to a shopkeeper selling pornography. The shopkeeper became inspired. He bought Srila Prabhupada's books in English, Hindi, Marathi, and other languages and changed his little pornography shop into a shop for selling Prabhupada's books, which he knew would purify him.
Damodara Dasa adhikari
Navina Nirada Dasa, a disciple of Harikesa Swami, has been one of ISKCON's leading book distributors for many years. He is based at the ISKCON temple in Zurich.
The Vedic Solution to World Hunger
By Hare Krsna Devi Dasi
LAST NOVEMBER the World Food Summit in Rome tried to figure out how to feed the world's 840 million chronically hungry people. The meeting's secretary general, Dr. Kay Killingsworth, said that the problem was not insufficient food production but inequitable distribution. "The result is that food does not reach the needy."
Here are some typical suggestions for solving world hunger:
1. Push industrialism. As profits rise, the benefits will trickle down to the poorest, and everyone will be able to afford enough food. Problem: Full employment drives up wages, destroying profit. To keep wages low, industry needs at least six percent of the population unemployed.
2. Accept some unemployment, but use taxes and charity to feed people who can't work. Problem: Unemployment always contributes to social instability. Food aid programs tend to grow and become more costly. Donors and taxpayers resist the burden. Governments under economic strain slash food aid.
3. Give more food grain to starving countries. Problem: Political thieves intercept grain and sell it at prices the poor can't afford, or cheap grain from abroad puts local farmers out of business.
4. Boost yields with techniques from the Green Revolution. Problem: The techniques are costly, and the benefits usually flow to the wealthiest landowners. Others are often forced to sell their land and migrate to the city, where they add to the hunger. Most of the food goes for high-profit export, not local nourishment.
5. Increase world food production by modernizing agriculture. Part 1 of Problem: "Modernized" agriculture means agriculture dependent on petroleum—petrol for the tractor, petrol for the irrigation pump, petrol to move the food by train, ship, plane, and semi-truck; petrol products to pave the roads; petroleum derivatives for pesticides, herbicides, and hundreds of miles of plastic mulch.
Part 2 of Problem: Petroleum is limited. Experts predict that a rising demand from developing countries will spark a fuel crisis. Modern farms will struggle just to survive.
The Real Problem
Srila Prabhupada gives us a clue to solving the hunger problem: "The whole world situation is degrading because people are not producing their own food. This is the problem, the real problem." When the hungry grow their own food, there will be no problem of tax funding or militant middlemen, no shipping or administrative problem, and, thanks to ox power, no fuel or fertilizer problem. Farm families grow their own food.
By depending on commercial farming, food aid programs try to make it do something it's not designed to do: feed the poor and hungry. The main purpose of commercial farming is to make money. That's what "commercial" means. Commercial farmers carry thousands or millions of dollars of debt to keep up their operations. They can't afford to give food to the hungry; they must sell it for a good profit.
The first problem of hunger is that most of the world's hungry people are landless. The Vedic solution to world hunger has two steps: First, the government gives a portion of land to each family. Second, each family uses the land to produce its food.
Srila Prabhupada explains:
Everything is God's property. You enjoy for your livelihood what is given to you. That is the perfect philosophy. That was the system in Vedic civilization. God is the proprietor. The king is the representative of God. He gives you some land: "Take this land and produce your livelihood. Whatever you produce, give one fourth to me." (Morning walk in Sanand, India, December 26, 1975)
Vedic civilization is arranged so that you keep some land and you keep some cows. Then your whole economic question is solved. ... If you have got excess, then you can trade, you can send to some place where there is scarcity. But every man should produce his own food. That is Vedic culture. You get a piece of land and produce your family's foodstuff. ... As soon as one has land sufficient to produce, he is safe. His food problem—that is the real problem—is solved. (Lecture in Geneva, June 6, 1974)
In the Vedic system one last step is required. All the food a family produces they should offer with love and devotion to the Supreme Lord before eating. This final step ensures that all the work performed will lead to spiritual progress and happiness.
Hare Krsna Devi Dasi, an ISKCON devotee since 1978, is co-editor of the newsletter Hare Krsna Rural Life.
At the present moment the human society teaches one to love his country or family or his personal self, but there is no information where to repose the loving propensity so that everyone can become happy. That missing point is Krsna, and The Nectar of Devotion teaches us how to stimulate our original love for Krsna and how to be situated in that position where we can enjoy our blissful life.
His Divine Grace A.C. Bhaktivedanta Swami Prabhupada
This temporary life is full of miseries. Take shelter of the holy name as your only business.
Srila Bhaktivinoda Thakura
Philosophical research culminates in understanding the Supreme Personality of Godhead. After achieving this understanding, when one becomes free from the material modes of nature he attains the stage of devotional service. Either by devotional service directly or by philosophical research, one has to find the same destination, which is the Supreme Personality of Godhead.
One should try to keep himself satisfied in any condition of life—whether distress or happiness—which is offered by the supreme will. A person who endures in this way is able to cross over the darkness of nescience very easily.
Sri Narada Muni
Unto one who has transcendental qualities due to friendly behavior with the Supreme Personality of Godhead, all living entities offer honor, just as water automatically flows down by nature.
Sri Maitreya Rsi
Give up all fear and shyness and take shelter of the merciful Lord Sri Caitanya Mahaprabhu. He rescues the most wicked of heart, and therefore He is known as Patita Pavana, "the savior of the fallen."
Srila Narottama Dasa Thakura
The transcendental body of Krsna is very sweet, and His face is even sweeter than His body. The soft smile on His face, which is like the fragrance of honey, is sweeter still.
Sri Bilvamangala Thakura