On page 51 of this issue, you'll find Indian Prime Minister Atal Bihari Vajpayee's speech at the opening of a new temple of the International Society for Krishna Consciousness (ISKCON). The Prime Minister's attendance at the opening shows that ISKCON is a prominent spiritual society in India today.
Before traveling to America in 1965, Srila Prabhupada had worked hard—but without much success—in his native India to revive interest in the teachings of Lord Krsna. After his success in America, Srila Prabhupada returned to India in 1970 to resume his work there. During subsequent world tours, he traveled to India often and inspired many of his countrymen in spiritual life.
Today ISKCON has more than fifty temples in India. In this issue you'll read about the fast-growing Radha-Gopinatha temple in Chowpatty, near downtown Mumbai. You'll also hear from a senior disciple who traveled with Srila Prabhupada during his 1970 tour of India. And you'll read how a visit to India in the 1970's helped solidify one young man's commitment to spiritual life.
There's lots more here too. We invite you to sample as much as you'd like. (You'll find a Glossary on page 15.)
• To help all people discern reality from illusion, spirit from matter, the eternal from the temporary.
Who's the Rama in "Hare Rama"?
Why don't you have to know the meaning of the words in the maha-mantra in order for it to be effective? Does the word Rama in the mantra refer to Lord Rama of Ramayana?
OUR REPLY: Srila Prabhupada compared chanting to taking medicine: Whether or not you understand it, it will work. The maha-mantra consists of names of the Lord, which are non-different from the Lord Himself. So when you chant you're in the Lord's association, and you become purified.
Rama is a name for Krsna, because it means "the supreme pleasure." By chanting Rama you can address Krsna Himself, or Lord Ramacandra, or Lord Balarama. Rama can refer to Them all—Lord Krsna or any of His "Rama" expansions.
The Ancient Krsna And Krsna in the 60s
I have been doing a research project on Krsna. What I don't understand is how it is connected with the ancient Krsna. I mean, what was so enduring about the ancient life that it was founded in the 60s (I think)?
Please write back and set me straight!
JAYADVAITA SWAMI REPLIES: Thank you for your question.
To understand Krsna, it's best to consult the standard books of knowledge about Krsna. Our Bhaktivedanta Book Trust publishes many of these books, which you may be able to find in your local library. (The translator is His Divine Grace A.C. Bhaktivedanta Swami Prabhupada.)
From these ancient books we learn that Krsna is a name for the supreme source of everything—in other words, God. It is not possible to understand Krsna properly without understanding this fact: By "Krsna" we mean God, the Supreme Person.
God is eternal, and every living soul is also eternal. And there is an eternal relationship between God and every living soul. That relationship is the subject of the ancient teachings about God. And because that relationship is eternal, those teachings are just as important for us now as they were then.
What happened about Krsna in the 1960s was not that something new was founded. What happened, simply, is that the ancient teachings about Krsna that were available in India were first brought from India to the West.
Since then, many people all over the world have learned about Krsna and their relationship with Krsna from these books. And by rediscovering their relationship with Krsna they have become joyful and have taken to a very pure way of life.
There are many books written by people who talk about Krsna but don't properly understand who Krsna is. Those books won't help you. (Maybe they're what got you confused in the first place.)
For more information, again, try looking in your library for the books from the Bhaktivedanta Book Trust, like Bhagavad-gita As It Is; Srimad-Bhagavatam; Krsna, the Supreme Personality of Godhead; and many smaller books as well. You can also get copies from our "Hare Krsna Catalog." The catalog people might be able to point you to other information too. The catalog has a toll-free number: 1-800-800-3284. Feel free to call.
I hope this helps. If you have more questions, please feel free to ask. And good luck on your project!
Mapping the Universe
I read (and reread) with great interest Sadaputa Prabhu's brilliant and convincing attempt to show that the Bhagavatam's description of Bhumandala corresponds to modern observable astronomical phenomena [BTG Nov/Dec '97]. However, I was left with a couple of questions, which I hope Sadaputa Prabhu will graciously answer:
(1) I noted a complete omission of any mention of the moon, although Srila Prabhupada regularly raised the issue of the position of the moon in relation to the sun and the earth. How does the moon fit into this picture?
(2) Although Sadaputa Prabhu explains how the orbits of modern planets correspond in distance to the features of Bhumandala, he makes no attempt to explain what those features of Bhumandala are and whether they correspond to anything accepted in the modern sense of reality. We are left with the impression that Bhumandala and all its features, such as the oceans of yogurt, milk, and sweet water, are imaginary. (Sadaputa's only explanation is that Bhumandala must be regarded as invisible.)
Since Srila Prabhupada clearly states that these features do in fact exist, how do they fit into Sadaputa's model?
SADAPUTA DASA REPLIES: The BTG article does not tell the full story of the Fifth Canto. To do that, many more articles would be needed.
The moon does not fit into the solar system map, since if we plot its modern orbit we find that it is smaller than the radius of Jambudvipa. (This modern orbital radius, by the way, agrees with the lunar orbital radius given in the Surya-siddhanta.)
In the Bhagavatam the sun, moon, and planets are positioned above Bhumandala, which is a plane. Thus their heights above Bhumandala are not the same as their distances from the earth globe. To understand what these heights mean, we must first understand the relation between the earth globe and the plane of Bhumandala. The answer is that the plane map of Jambudvipa corresponds to a stereographic polar projection of the earth globe. This enables us to understand clearly the statements in the Fifth Canto about day, night, and the seasons. It also gives us a simple model that explains the position of the moon. The sun, moon, naksatras, and planets occupy successive planes in a planisphere model, similar to what we find in an astrolabe.
To explain this adequately, a complete article is necessary. Here I will just mention that the planisphere model also explains another point I left unexplained in the Advanced Astronomy BTG article, namely that the planetary heights in the Bhagavatam lie only on one side of Bhumandala. Thus, the Bhagavatam combines a planisphere model of the earth with a geocentric map of the solar system. From this standpoint, all the astronomical statements in the Fifth Canto make sense.
I should also note that a scholarly article on Jambudvipa as a planisphere model was published back in November 1985. The article, titled "Maps of Time," by W. Randolph Kloetzli, appeared in the journal History of Religions. This article shows that the planisphere model clarifies many difficult points in the cosmology of the Visnu Purana (a cosmology essentially the same as that of the Fifth Canto, but with more details).
Regarding the features of Bhumandala and their reality:
In the Advanced Astronomy article, I presented Bhumandala as a map of the solar system, and thus I spoke only about distances in the solar system. However, Bhumandala also maps a heavenly region called bhauma svarga (as well as divya svarga, which is Indra's heaven, and bila svarga, the lower planets).
This heavenly region is described as real in the Bhagavatam. Thus, it has mountains, rivers, inhabitants, etc. It is located in the plane of the solar system, and it extends about as far as the orbit of Saturn (corresponding to Lokaloka Mountain).
This region is certainly invisible, but that does not mean that it doesn't exist. I have argued that it is higher-dimensional. I should note that higher dimensions include three dimensions. So to say that Bhumandala is higher-dimensional in no way contradicts the description of its three-dimensional position.
My purpose in writing my book Alien Identities was to show that there is evidence for the existence of inhabited higher-dimensional realms. There is no need to doubt the reality of these things, since there is evidence for their existence even apart from the Bhagavatam.
Of course, this still doesn't answer the question of what the dvipas, oceans, etc., are made of. I do not know what it means to say that there is a ocean of milk, but I presume that there is some clearcut meaning. Perhaps we will find out later. (Milk that can be churned to produce "the nectar of immortality" is presumably not ordinary milk.)
I am presently writing a book and producing a CD ROM that will address these questions in more detail.
In our news section in the January/February issue, we mentioned that the BBC World Service televised a half-hour program on the Janmastami celebrations at Bhaktivedanta Manor. In fact, it was a radio broadcast.
You can attain a spiritual, eternal body,
A lecture given in Mexico City on February 14, 1975
by His Divine Grace A.C. Bhaktivedanta Swami Prabhupada
matra-sparsas tu kaunteya
"O son of Kunti, the nonpermanent appearance of happiness and distress, and their disappearance in due course, are like the appearance and disappearance of winter and summer seasons. They arise from sense perception, O scion of Bharata, and one must learn to tolerate them without being disturbed." —Bhagavad-gita 2.14
FROM OUR DISCUSSION last night it is to be concluded that we are not going to die. Krsna said that not only He but also Arjuna and all others present on the battlefield would continue to exist. How shall we exist? As we are existing now: we have accepted a particular material body and are existing. Similarly, after this body is finished, we'll accept another body and continue to exist.
Now the question is, "In what kind of body shall I exist after this body is finished?" That is also explained in the Bhagavad-gita. If we like we can exist in the higher planetary systems, where the duration of life is very, very long and the sense enjoyment more perfect than in this world. That existence we can have. Similarly, we can exist in the lower grade of life, like cats, dogs, insects, trees, aquatics. We can also exist in the same way we are existing now. And we can exist exactly as God exists—in an eternal life of bliss and knowledge.
To have a spiritual body means to have an eternal life of bliss and knowledge. The body we now possess—the material body—is neither eternal, nor blissful, nor full of knowledge. Every one of us knows that the material body will be finished and that it is full of ignorance. We cannot say, for example, what is beyond this wall. We have senses, but they are all limited, imperfect. Sometimes we are very proud of seeing, and we challenge, "Can you show me God?" But we forget that as soon as the light is gone, our power of seeing is gone.
The whole material body is imperfect and full of ignorance, whereas the spiritual body is full of knowledge, just the opposite. We can get that body in the next life, provided we work for it. We can work to get our next body in the higher planetary systems, we can work to get the body of a cat or a dog, or we can work for a body of eternal, blissful knowledge.
Therefore the most intelligent person will try to get as the next body one full of bliss, knowledge, and eternity. That is explained in the Bhagavad-gita. Yad gatva na nivartante tad dhama paramam mama. That place—that planet or sky—where you go and from which you never return to this material world is the spiritual world. In the material world, even if you get promoted to the highest planetary system, Brahmaloka, still you'll have to come back. But if you try your best to go to the spiritual world—back home, back to Godhead—you'll not return to accept a material body.
Then the question is, "If I am eternal, why are there so many miserable conditions of life? And why I am forced to die?" These are actually intelligent questions. "If I am eternal, why should I stay in the material body, subjected to birth, death, old age, and disease?"
Krsna instructs that the miserable condition of life is due to the material body. Those engaged in sense gratification are called karmis. The karmis do not care for the future. They simply want immediate facilities for pleasure, just like a child without the care of the parents. Such a child plays the whole day. He doesn't care for the future life, doesn't take any education. But in the human form of life, if we are actually intelligent we must try our best to get the life or body where there is no more birth, death, old age, and disease. The Krsna consciousness movement is meant to educate people for that purpose.
Krsna the Supplier
Now, one may say, "If I simply devote myself to Krsna consciousness, how will my material necessities be supplied?"
The answer is in the Bhagavad-gita: Krsna will look after the necessities of life for anyone simply engaged in Krsna consciousness. Krsna is already looking after everyone's maintenance. Eko bahunam yo vidadhati kaman: "That one Supreme Person is maintaining the necessities of all living entities." So for a devotee trying to go back home, back to Godhead, there will be no scarcity. Rest assured.
Krsna says in the Bhagavad-gita, tesam nityabhiyuktanam ... yoga-ksemam vahamy aham: "When a devotee is always engaged in My service, I see that his necessities of life are filled." A practical example is that in this Krsna consciousness movement we have one hundred centers, where from 25 to 250 devotees live. We have no fixed means of income, but by the grace of Krsna we have no scarcity; everything is supplied. People are surprised: "These people do not work, do not take any profession. They simply chant Hare Krsna. How do they live?"
But if cats and dogs can live at the mercy of God, the devotees can live very comfortably by the mercy of God. There is no question of that. Still, someone may think, "I have taken to Krsna consciousness, but I am suffering for want of so many things." For such a person—or for all of us—the instruction is matra-sparsas tu kaunteya sitosna-sukha-duhkha-dah: "These pains and pleasure are just like winter and summer." In the winter, water is painful, and in the summer, water is pleasing. So what is the position of water? It is pleasing or painful? It is neither painful nor pleasing, but in a certain season by touching the skin it appears to be painful or pleasant. Such pains and pleasures are explained herein: "They are coming and going. They are impermanent."
Rgama apayinah anityah means "They are coming and going; therefore they are not permanent." Krsna therefore advises, tams titiksasva bharata: "Just tolerate." But do not forget your real business, Krsna consciousness. Don't care for these material pains and pleasures. Of course, you can try your best to counteract pains, but if you are unable, don't be misled by these so-called pains and pleasures.
One devotional quality is titiksa, "tolerance." That should be learned—how to tolerate in every condition of life. For example, those who are actually brahmanas do not neglect to bathe early in the morning when the temperature is pinching cold. That simply requires practice. The bathing may be painful for one or two days, but if you practice, it will no longer be painful. So one should not give up bathing early in the morning because it is severely cold. Similarly, in the summer when there is scorching heat one should not decide, "We shall stop cooking." In the kitchen it may be too hot, but we cannot give up cooking.
Similarly, the rules and regulations for making spiritual advancement may be painful, but we cannot give them up. We have to learn how to tolerate. Therefore Krsna advises, tams titiksasva bharata: "My dear Arjuna, good descendant of Bharata Maharaja, try to tolerate this."
Sri Caitanya Mahaprabhu has advised, therefore, how tolerant one should be to advance in Krsna consciousness. He has said, trnad api sunicena: "Become humbler than the grass." Although so many people may trample the grass, it does not protest. Taror api sahisnuna: "And be more tolerant than the tree." Someone takes its branches, someone snatches its fruit, sometimes cuts it, but still the tree gives you shelter and fruit, flowers, and leaves. The tree is a good example of tolerance.
Anyone who desires to go back home, back to Godhead, has to learn to be tolerant and forbearing. That is the instruction of Sri Caitanya Mahaprabhu. He also says, amanina manadena: "One should not desire any respect for oneself but should offer all respect to others." In this way, if we practice, we become fit for going back to Godhead, back home. That will be explained in the next verse:
yam hi na vyathayanty ete
"If one practices, then one becomes fit for going back home, back to Godhead." So practice. Then anything will be tolerable. In the morning, when we go for our walk, people are practicing running. I cannot run. But if I practiced for some days, I could also run.
Anything you practice you'll be successful at. So if by practicing Krsna consciousness you can go back home, back to Godhead, why should you neglect it? It will solve all your problems. The real problems are birth, death, old age, and disease, and if you can solve these problems simply by practicing some regulative principles, why don't you do it?
That is our request. We are opening hundreds of centers to train people to practice Krsna consciousness and go back home, back to Godhead. You cannot go back home, back to Godhead cheaply. You have to practice certain regulative principles; then you will be fit. That is not very difficult, and if you practice, it will be very easy. The beginning should be chanting the Hare Krsna mantra so that you'll be fit for practicing.
Therefore, take full advantage of the Krsna consciousness movement and be successful in your life. Do not be misled. After this body is finished, every one of us will have to accept another body. If we neglect the rules and regulations and then have to accept the body of a dog—just imagine how displeasing it will be! But Krsna says, mad-yajino 'pi yanti mam: "Anyone engaged in Krsna consciousness comes to Me." So practice Krsna consciousness and go back home, back to Godhead.
Thank you very much.
By Satsvarupa Dasa Goswami
IMAGINE YOU ARE at the ancient forest known as Naimisaranya, hearing directly from the learned Suta Gosvami. He has just finished describing the instructions given by the sage Narada to Vyasadeva, the author of the great book of wisdom Srimad-Bhagavatam. Suta says that Narada is "bhagavan," then tells us that after Narada took leave from Vyasadeva, Narada "left to wander at his free will." Just imagine being free like that. Narada has no obligations and no reason to be anywhere, and as Srila Prabhupada states, "No one can stop him from his free movement."
Everyone hankers for a life free of restriction because it's the natural, transcendental state of the soul. Unfortunately, a soul who chooses material consciousness also chooses unlimited restrictions. Every action performed in material consciousness entails reactions, forced upon us as the result of what we do. If we choose birth, we have to accept death. If we choose to enjoy ourselves at another's expense—and all enjoyment is had at the expense of another—we have to be enjoyed by someone else doing the same.
Therefore, the scriptures say that freedom is to be found only when we practice devotional service. Because Krsna is above the laws of cause and effect, performing acts for His pleasure carries no reactions.
The main pivot of devotional service is freedom. Krsna is free to bestow His mercy upon us, and we are free to accept His mercy or not. Without choosing to depend upon Krsna's strength, power, and love, we cannot free ourselves from the restrictions imposed upon us by illusion. Bhakti, devotional service to Krsna, is given freely only when someone wants it.
To prove we want it, however, we may have to accept some restrictions. The mind and senses have to be controlled. We need to be careful to avoid people who disdain the devotional path. Prabhupada calls these restrictions "the regulative principles of freedom."
It sounds like a paradox: surrender equals freedom. It's like entering into a contract. We give up our so-called freedom and agree to practice pure Krsna consciousness to achieve the real freedom of our true nature. Real freedom doesn't mean sleeping late or not having to go to work; it means freedom from birth and death. To be free, we give up pretending we're enjoyers to become what we really are: servants. To be free we abandon our conquest of the world to turn to love of God. Then Krsna, the unconquerable, consents to be conquered.
Getting to the point of wanting real freedom is not as easy as it looks. People usually equate freedom with the ability to fully express themselves without guides or regulation. They think freedom is not to be found in charted waters but in uncharted explorations. They think real freedom starts when they overcome fear of the unknown.
Even those who try to free themselves from the pull of their senses do not always find satisfaction. The Bhagavatam (1.6.35) states, "It is true that by practicing restraint of the senses by the yoga system one can get relief from the disturbance of desire and lust, but this is not sufficient to give satisfaction to the soul ..."
To feel real satisfaction the soul has to be in a natural condition. The Vedas define such a natural condition as that of full bliss, full knowledge, and full eternality. If we are constitutionally eternal but find ourselves bound, then that's called imprisonment.
Then how to end our incarceration? Surrender is first practiced by hearing the words of those who are engaged in devotional service. By hearing, we remember who we are. Narada emphasizes this point: "It is personally experienced by me that those who are always full of cares and anxieties due to desiring contact of the senses with their objects can cross the ocean of nescience on a most suitable boat—the constant chanting of the transcendental activities of the Personality of Godhead."
That takes us back to Naimisaranya and the words and activities of the sages. Suta Gosvami has just related the story of Narada Muni instructing Vyasa. He will now go on to describe Vyasadeva's meditation and the perfect vision of the Absolute Truth that Vyasa received. We can be with Narada through the pages of the Bhagavatam, living as we like in the world of freedom-seeking and freedom-tasting souls.
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 36
By Yamuna Devi
OF ALL THE syrup sweets Srila Prabhupada taught his disciples to make, the most famous is gulabjamun, the focus of my last column. Gulabjamuns have been a trademark sweet at ISKCON feasts and festivals since Srila Prabhupada taught disciples to make them more than thirty years ago.
Besides gulabs, Srila Prabhupada relished and taught his disciples to make all the syrup sweets mentioned in the class textbook, Lord Krishna's Cuisine—kanti, gaja, malpura, balushai, pantoa, jalebi, and mysore pak. In Rishikesh, 1977, and in Delhi, 1971, Srila Prabhupada requested fresh hot jalebis to ward off a cold. In Vrndavana, 1974, he asked a disciple from Vrndavana to make bundi jalebi. At the Radha-Damodara temple, 1972, his sister Pisima made his childhood favorites: gaja and kanti. And at various times and places I made him khaja, balushai, and malpura.
Simply stated, syrup sweets are sweets made with sugar syrups. They vary widely in taste, texture, and appearance. For example, fried and syrup-soaked jalebi is light, juicy, and slightly crunchy, balushai is a flaky pastry drenched with a flavor-infused syrup glaze, and mysore pak is a melt-in-your-mouth chickpea-flour fudge made with sugar syrup. Many cooks include as syrup sweets the rasgulla family, whose textures range from airy and spongy to dense and cakelike.
Sugar syrups fall more or less into four categories: light (1 part sugar to 2 parts water), medium (1 part sugar to 1 ½ parts water), medium-heavy (1 part sugar to 1 part water), and heavy (2 parts or more sugar to 1 part water). These syrups are invariably infused with an aromatic, from simple cardamom seeds to exotic essences of flowers such as the rose, dhus, and kewra.
Here are questions most frequently asked of me about syrup sweets:
A: Success in gulabs rests in controlled frying temperatures, so use a thermometer if necessary.
A: Fresh ghee is the frying medium of choice. Nothing yields a similar result, although some cooks recommend new vegetable oil.
A: For purity, I prefer nonfat, noninstant organic milk powder. Experiment with what you have available and make minor adjustments as necessary.
A: In India today, whitish-gray granulated sugar is used. I recommend fructose, turbinado sugar, or natural-processed cane sugar.
A: Rasgulla success rests on the moisture content of the cheese and on maintaining the recommended syrup consistency while cooking; thin as necessary, and take notes for comparison.
Syrup sweets are difficult to master, with variables that demand patience and knowledge. But by learning classic sweet-making arts, we take part in a great tradition hundreds, even thousands, of years old. Let us try to master making some of these sweets, learn the kitchen lessons to be learned, and pass the knowledge to future generations. In this way, let us try to please Srila Prabhupada.
Flaky Pastry Diamonds with Honey Glaze
Instead of sugar syrup, this recipe calls for drizzling with slightly warm local honey.
1 ½ half cups unbleached white flour
In a wide bowl, mix the first five ingredients. Add ghee or butter and blend with your fingertips until the texture resembles coarse breadcrumbs. Add the milk and work the mixture briskly into a rough dough. Knead the dough, adding sprinkles of more flour or milk if necessary, to make a medium-consistency smooth dough. Gather the dough into a smooth ball, cover it, and set it aside for half an hour.
Heat the ghee or vegetable oil in a deep frying pan. Divide the dough in half and roll it out on a lightly floured surface until the dough is ¼ inch thick. Brush off excess flour. With a sharp knife, cut the dough into approximately 1-inch squares or diamonds. When the ghee is hot (a piece of dough sizzles and floats to the surface), add the dough pieces until the surface of the ghee is covered.
Fry the pastries until they're golden-brown. With a slotted spoon, transfer them to absorbent paper. Repeat the process with the remaining dough. Drizzle the pastries with warm honey just before offering to Lord Krsna.
By Urmila Devi Dasi
IT'S RATHER COMMON now in America—a sign proclaiming "Drug-free School." But teachers, parents, and students know the idea is a joke. Intoxicants—tobacco, alcohol, marijuana, cocaine—rage through the minds and bodies of young people practically everywhere.
Studies, treatments, and educational programs have done little. Rather, children are taking intoxicants at younger ages, and use is increasing. Modern society knows that intoxication brings crime, cruelty, illness, laziness, accidents, family breakups, and early death. But what can we do to stop it?
First we need to consider why people take intoxicants. The urge to dull or distort one's awareness comes from a sense of futility and hopelessness. Modern philosophies teach our children that all existence comes from chance interactions in a universe with no one at the controls. In schools, on television, in history, science, or literature, the message is that there are no absolutes. Truth is relative. Expedience and popular whim determine value.
To children who see reality as having no ultimate goal, the future looks empty. A sensitive child can understand that life in the material world is basically miserable and temporary. And if the present life is everything, with nothing beyond death and gross matter, why not create a more pleasant reality—at least within one's mind?
Another reason for the urge for intoxication is modern society's equating happiness with escape and delusion. According to Bhagavad-gita, such delusion is happiness in the mode of ignorance, the lowest of the three modes of material nature (goodness, passion, and ignorance). Some intoxicants may seem to promote passion, as they speed up physical and mental processes. And some intoxicants seem to mimic the effects of goodness by imitating a sense of peacefulness (it's really just lethargy) or "consciousness expansion." Yet all intoxicants produce only varieties of illusion and delusion.
How do we give children the message that happiness equals the ignorance of distorting reality? By encouraging them to escape from life through fantasies, fairy tales, parties, and amusement parks. Television and movies further the idea that entertainment and pleasure come from entering a world of illusion. In fact, watching television creates symptoms similar to those of intoxication, such as increased violence, decreased attention span, false estimation of one's abilities, and difficulty showing compassion to others.
Influenced by the mode of passion, kids use intoxicants for social acceptance. In fact, mild forms of intoxication are so much a part of the world today, regardless of the country or culture, that not only peers but also parents and family elders routinely initiate children into smoking and drinking, or at least ingesting caffeine—in caffeine-laden drinks and chocolate.
We can keep or save our children from intoxicants first by giving them thorough knowledge of the purpose and plan of creation. From a young age, a child should know that he or she is a pure soul, capable of achieving unlimited spiritual happiness in love of Krsna, both in this life and beyond. Children need to learn that the miseries of life result from our rebellion against the authority and love of Krsna, the Supreme Person. We get free of misery not by ignoring or covering it but by using our free will to serve Krsna. Besides receiving theoretical knowledge of such a view of life, our children should be around people whose lives exemplify their spiritual vision.
By living with people who think and work in harmony with Lord Krsna, naturally our children will experience happiness in the mode of goodness, and even happiness beyond any material happiness they can imagine. Spiritual happiness means full alertness and expanded consciousness, so children who perceive love for God will tend to avoid anything that will limit their awareness.
The natural inclination of a child to play, hear stories, and celebrate should be directed not to illusion but to the supreme reality, Lord Sri Krsna. In that way a child can transcend the material miseries rather than try to cover them.
And if a child's community is filled with people who don't include the dulling or distorting of consciousness as part of festivity and social acceptance, pressure from peers and elders will work in a positive way to give the child a sober lifetime.
Urmila Devi Dasi and her family run a school in North Carolina. She is the major author and compiler of Vaikuntha Children, a guide to Krsna conscious education for children.
Changing Minds and Hearts
Compiled by Navina Nirada Dasa
HERE ARE SOME experiences and realizations of devotees who give people Krsna consciousness through books by Srila Prabhupada and his followers.
Follow the Leader
In Lithuania we went to a construction site to distribute books. We found five Russian workers in a hut, preparing for lunch.
"Hello, I have something for you," I said.
Experience told me I had only a small chance of success. They seemed to be waiting for someone else. Still, I put my set of books on their small table. But under the weight, their lunches started to fall to the floor.
"Get out of here!" they shouted.
Then their leader came in with two bottles of vodka (they can't imagine having lunch without it), and all the workers started to shout joyfully. I was the only morose one.
"What are you doing here? Get out!" shouted the brigade leader when he saw me in the smoky room.
They all looked at me angrily. Only by the Lord's mercy was I able to pacify them, and they agreed to listen to my presentation for five minutes. It wasn't my best performance. And although I tried hard, their eyes still looked the same after several minutes.
"Wait a minute—" said the brigade leader suddenly, as he pointed to one of the books in the pile.
The workers awakened from their dreams and looked at the books.
"What is this book?" the leader asked.
The other men seemed curious now.
I went through the books until I reached Bhagavad-gita As It Is.
"Yes, this is the same book!" said the leader, as if he had found an old lost friend.
"The same book!" he said. "Oh, I have it at home!"
My confidence jumped.
But then he shook his head.
"Such a difficult book," he said. "Very difficult."
My confidence started to sink.
"It's hard to believe, guys," he told the men, "but I tried my best for four months and still couldn't understand anything. Then I had my vacation. I decided to go for several months, and I took this book with me. Instead of completely wasting my time, I tried to study the book. You can't imagine—every word in this book is like nectar. So much realization. So much truth. You must take the sets for yourself, and I'll take a set for my family."
"But we'll never be able to understand them," protested one of the workers.
"That doesn't matter," the chief said. "Maybe you are fools, but your children will read the books, and they'll thank you. They'll appreciate them."
Turning toward me he said, "Thank you very much. You are doing very important work."
Nityananda Rama Dasa adhikari
"You Saved My Life"
I walked over to a man sitting in the driver's seat of a parked car and handed him a copy of The Science of Self-Realization. As he looked at the beautiful photograph of Srila Prabhupada on the cover, I spoke to him about the book and about the chanting of Hare Krsna.
On the seat beside him I noticed a large knife, some whisky bottles, and what appeared to be a package of illegal drugs. The man accepted the book and left. I went on with my service.
A half an hour later he returned and asked to speak with me urgently.
"It's a life or death situation," he said.
I sat in the car with him, and he told his story.
"At the moment you first saw me," he said, "I was going straight to kill someone who owed me money and was refusing to pay me."
He showed me the knife.
"I was going to get intoxicated so I could get up the courage to kill him. But I don't know what happened. I saw the monk on the cover of this book and chanted the Hare Krsna song you taught me, and suddenly someone is telling me from inside, 'Forget about the money. Don't kill him.' "
He was clearly moved.
"I just came to thank you, because you saved my life."
I told him to thank Lord Krsna, who was telling him from within to forget the money and the murder.
We became good friends, and I invited him to visit the temple and to go deep into the philosophy of Krsna conscious4ness.
Haripada Dasa adhikari
Navina Nirada Dasa, a disciple of Harikesa Swami, has been a leading book distributor for many years. He heads ISKCON's book distribution ministry and travels worldwide to train and inspire book distributors.
A thriving Krsna conscious community
By Kalakantha Dasa
MUMBAI (as Bombay is now officially called) is both India's gateway to the West and the West's gateway to India. It is by far India's wealthiest and most westernized city. Population: thirteen million and growing.
Today, three ISKCON branches in three parts of Mumbai worship and serve Radha-Krsna Deities: in Juhu, Radha-Rasabihari; at Mira Road, Radha-Giridhari; and in Chowpatty, Radha-Gopinatha.
For twenty years ISKCON's beautiful Juhu temple has maintained a popular guest house, restaurant, and cultural center. Thanks to its dedicated devotees, ISKCON's Juhu temple continues to be among the most popular religious centers in Mumbai, attracting thousands daily and sometimes hundreds of thousands for festivals.
More recently, devotees have started an ISKCON branch in Mira Road, a fast-growing northern suburb. Having secured a strategic 1.5-acre plot and set up modest arrangements for their temple and asrama, they hold a full program of spiritual activities and plan to build a large temple to serve an expanding ISKCON congregation in this portion of Mumbai.
Now we'll take a more detailed look at ISKCON's temple in Chowpatty.
An Unexpected Opening
Apparently Lord Krsna Himself planned the opening of the Chowpatty temple. During the 1980s, Mumbai devotees Srinathaji Dasa and his wife, Maithili-priya Dasi, periodically taught Krsna consciousness in the Chowpatty section of central Mumbai and gave money in support of the Lady Northcoate Hindu Orphanage located there. When the trustee of the orphanage died, Srinathaji was surprised to find himself named in the will as the new trustee. He soon realized he'd gained an opportunity both to help the orphans and to provide a new center for Srila Prabhupada's movement. Since 1987, the devotees have done both, under the leadership of His Holiness Radhanatha Swami.
Bringing Krsna to the Orphanage
Radhanatha Swami and the devotees in Chowpatty decided to uplift the orphanage by converting a meeting hall into a temple and training the orphan boys in Krsna consciousness. Today thirty-eight boys, aged five to sixteen, eagerly take part in all the temple activities. After attending the morning program in the temple, they eat a healthy breakfast of Krsna-prasadam and go to classes at a local school. After school it's more prasadam and an evening program of kirtana (chanting), class, and much personal care. The boys appear well behaved and radiantly happy as they go about their Krsna conscious duties.
Building the Brahmacari Asrama
Radhanatha Swami then turned his attention to giving Krsna consciousness to the residents of Mumbai. From the start he emphasized giving all interested people a high degree of individual care and attention.
"We don't ask anyone to be a brahmacari [celibate monk]," he says. "We just ask everyone to be Krsna conscious. Whatever one's family status and vocation, we encourage everyone to be a first-class devotee of Krsna. In fact, if someone wants to move into the temple, we discourage them. Only if a young man shows a high degree of commitment and seriousness can he enroll in our brahmacari asrama."
The Chowpatty brahmacaris maintain high standards of simplicity and renunciation. They share common dormitory rooms, sleeping on simple mats on the floor. Each man has one modest cupboard, and they own only what fits inside. They carefully avoid gossiping. Each brahmacari chants all sixteen rounds* with the other devotees and attends the full morning program, plus extra classes.
*Hare Krsna devotees each have a strand of 108 beads, on which they chant the Hare Krsna mantra. Initiated devotees vow to chant on the full set of beads—one round—at least sixteen times a day.
Through a schedule of book distribution, college programs, and Krsna conscious gatherings, each brahmacari learns to teach Krsna consciousness. Senior brahmacaris regularly counsel their juniors, whose needs they ensure are met. After two full years of excellent sadhana (spiritual practice), students who express a serious commitment to celibacy may don the saffron cloth of a brahmacari. Forty brahmacaris now live in the Chowpatty asrama. All but three have college degrees.
Krsna Conscious Couples
The same principles of good spiritual practice and service to others apply equally to devotees who choose to marry. At present, thirty senior married couples serve as counselors for the temple's many young congregational members, men and women alike, both before and after their marriages. Besides practical advice about married life in Krsna consciousness, the Chowpatty counselors have formed teams to help young couples find housing and employment. To help couples raise Krsna conscious children, another team provides advice and programs, including a successful Sunday school at the temple. Yet another team arranges for complete health care for all devotees. (Many of the devotees and congregational members of the temple are medical doctors. To work and serve together, they and other devotees have built a new hospital, across the street from ISKCON's Mira Road temple.)
To avail themselves of all these services, couples must simply be dedicated to serving Srila Prabhupada's instructions.
"In Mumbai parents complain that young people have become westernized and irreligious," says lifelong Mumbai resident Radha-priya Dasi, wife of Krsnacandra Dasa (Hrishikesh Mafatlal), one of India's leading industrialists. "Yet when the young men and women want to take up Krsna consciousness, their parents often worry. 'Who will want to marry such a religious person?' they think.
"As counselors, we help young people find the proper balance between their spiritual lives and their family and social responsibilities. We urge them to stay in school and cooperate with their parents while practicing Krsna consciousness. Sometimes we help explain Krsna consciousness to their parents. And when young men or women want to get married, we help them find partners among the hundreds of other young people in our congregation who are following Srila Prabhupada's teachings."
Radha-priya and Krsnacandra regularly attend the morning services at the temple, often with their children, Radha Dasi (19), Anjali (15), and Priyavrata (11). Despite busy schedules, Radha-priya and Krsnacandra meet with their group of twelve couples every two weeks, lending advice and experience from their twenty years of marriage and twelve years of Krsna conscious practice.
Krsnacandra says, "We regularly meet with other counselors for fresh inspiration. And our counselees know they can call on us for any emergency."
Besides the extensive counseling network, every two weeks a team of three senior women meet women in the congregation, as a group or individually, to discuss devotional service or problems women may face.
Cooperating to Spread Krsna Consciousness
The dedicated Chowpatty brahmacaris and grhasthas (married people) show their love for Srila Prabhupada by cooperatively teaching about Krsna in a variety of ways.
Book Distribution—Especially in December, the grhasthas and brahmacaris focus their energies on distributing Srila Prabhupada's books. Last year, they sold more than 61,000 hardbound books in 30 days.
Each month, the temple community sets aside three or four days for book distribution. During these days, volunteers from the congregation take charge of all the Deity worship and all other temple duties so that the brahmacaris can go out full-time. The women of the congregation are especially delighted to offer this service.
College Programs—Ten brahmacaris work full-time conducting weekly programs in thirty-seven Mumbai-area colleges, including all the medical and engineering colleges plus another ten colleges in nearby Pune. Students who take a serious interest follow a curriculum of Krsna conscious study designed by Radhe-Syama Dasa, who holds a master's degree from IIT (the Indian Institute of Technology). Grhasthas help by opening their homes for programs near campuses that cannot provide a meeting place. And the grhastha counselors help take care of the hundreds of students who have started chanting sixteen rounds as a result of contact with these programs.
Satsangas (Krsna conscious gatherings)—At least twenty-five times each week, the grhasthas organize public programs for kirtana (congregational chanting), Bhagavad-gita class, and prasadam. The brahmacaris lead the chanting and deliver the lectures. These programs give an opportunity for people who have received books and attended college classes to practice Krsna consciousness along with initiated ISKCON members, and several hundred people usually attend.
In addition, once a month a large gathering gives people from all sections of Mumbai a chance to come together in a central place for a massive Krsna conscious festival. Up to 7,000 people attend these monthly events.
Sunday Feast—About seven hundred people pack the Chowpatty temple each Sunday from noon to 5:00 P.M. Teams of grhasthas plan, prepare, and serve the delicious prasadam feasts. Besides kirtana, class, and prasadam, the program sometimes includes entertainment by Sunday school students, who put on plays or recite memorized verses from the Bhagavad-gita.
Children's Group—Recently a children's group, organized by the children themselves, has begun assisting the temple brahmacaris. One evening a month the children conduct the entire evening program, including kirtanas, bhajanas, plays, storytelling, puppet shows, and verse recitation. For these special nights, the temple is filled with adults and children.
Yatras (pilgrimages)—At least two or three times a year, up to four hundred ISKCON Chowpatty members travel together to a holy place to intensively chant and hear about Lord Krsna. They have visited such holy places as Prayag, Udupi, Badrinath, Gangotri, Mayapur, Vrndavana, Chitrakuta, Jaipur, Dvaraka, Pandharpur, Ramesvaram, Tirupathi, Varanasi, Kuruksetra, Sri Rangam, and Jagannatha Puri. Each pilgrimage brings the devotees closer together as they enliven one another in Krsna consciousness. Living together simply, the devotees vow to speak only about Krsna. These transcendental adventures deeply touch all the participants.
One feels among the Chowpatty devotees a powerful sense of love and camaraderie that permeates the vigorous and successful programs for spreading Krsna consciousness.
Radhanatha Swami explains, "The brahmacaris and grhasthas have great love and respect for one another. Grhasthas living outside see the brahmacaris in the temple as exemplary sadhus. The strong brahmacari asrama creates faith in the integrity of the temple. The brahmacaris are taught to genuinely respect and serve the men and women of the congregation as worshipable Vaisnavas, devotees of the Lord.
"When people come, if they just see the beauty of the building or the Deities, we're not giving them all of what Srila Prabhupada wanted. Guests should be so impressed with the quality of the residents that they want to hear from them and serve them. Then we see that the visitors become sincerely involved. Everyone who visits is warmly and personally greeted, given an introductory pamphlet, prasadam, caranamrta [water from the Deities], and some friendly words. They leave feeling they have made a friend. By this process our guests become Krsna conscious.
"We try to teach everyone to be the servant of the servant of Krsna. By sticking to this principle, everything becomes more wonderful."
Kalakantha Dasa, a devotee since 1972, is Back to Godhead's circulation director. He lives with his wife and their two young daughters in Gainesville, Florida.
His Holiness Radhanatha Swami
RADHANATHA SWAMI is a senior ISKCON member highly respected for his personal spiritual qualities. When he was nineteen, he decided that without God everything else was futile. So he set out on a determined spiritual quest.
Starting in London, he began seeking religious leaders and immersing himself in the religious life of a great variety of churches, mosques, and synagogues. Over the next two years he proceeded across Europe and the Middle East until he reached India and went to the Himalayas. There he lived in caves, forests, and on the banks of sacred rivers with sadhus and yogis.
It was in Mumbai that Radhanatha Swami first met Srila Prabhupada. In course of time, while living in Vrndavana, Radhanatha Swami concluded that the philosophy of Krsna consciousness surpassed all others he'd encountered. He accepted Srila Prabhupada as his spiritual master in Vrndavana in 1971, and was later initiated in America.
Srila Prabhupada in Mumbai
SRILA PRABHUPADA'S principal biographer, Satsvarupa Dasa Goswami, took account of every day of Prabhupada's life between 1965 and 1977. His finding: Of all the cities Prabhupada visited during this time, he spent the most time in Mumbai.
As a young grhastha, Srila Prabhupada helped two sannyasis start the Mumbai branch of the Gaudiya Math, the mission founded by his guru, Srila Bhaktisiddhanta Sarasvati Thakura. Prabhupada found a suitable building for the temple (just a few minutes from ISKCON's present Chowpatty branch) and helped raise funds. Later Srila Bhaktisiddhanta installed the Deities in Mumbai.
When the two sannyasis asked Srila Bhaktisiddhanta to direct Srila Prabhupada to be the center's president, Srila Bhaktisiddhanta replied, "Let him do what he's doing now. In course of time he will do everything."
It was at this same Mumbai branch of the Gaudiya Math that Srila Prabhupada first presented two historic tributes to his guru: a poem ("Adore, adore ye all the happy day ..."), and an essay entitled "The Universal Teacher." From Mumbai in 1936, Prabhupada wrote his final letter to Srila Bhaktisiddhanta, in which he asked what service to do. Two weeks before Srila Bhaktisiddhanta's departure from this world, he dispatched a letter to Prabhupada in Mumbai, asking him to spread Krsna consciousness in English.
Many years later, when Srila Prabhupada left Vrndavana to fulfill his guru's order, he returned to Mumbai. There he found a sponsor, Sumati Morarji, to help him go to the West. After succeeding in the West, Srila Prabhupada returned to India and conducted his first major festival in Mumbai's Cross Maidan.
Over the next few years, Srila Prabhupada fought for, funded, and built ISKCON's beautiful Juhu Beach center. Of the major ISKCON temples in India, Srila Prabhupada built this temple alone entirely of marble, indicating Mumbai's special prominence in Srila Prabhupada's mind as a springboard for spreading Krsna consciousness worldwide.
The Obstacle to the Royal Sacrifice
Translated from Sanskrit by Hridayananda Dasa Goswami
The sage Vaisampayana is telling the history of the five Pandava brothers to their great-grandson, King Janamejaya. As the narration continues, the great sage Narada has just visited the Pandavas in their royal assembly hall and described the glories of the sacrifice known as Rajasuya. [Abridged from the original translation.]
Yudhisthira Sighed upon hearing Narada's words, and as he thought how he might achieve the Rajasuya, he could not be calm. Having heard the glories of exalted saintly kings who had offered sacrifice, and noting well how they had achieved higher planets through their pious deeds, Yudhisthira yearned to perform the Rajasuya.
Even while that monarch of amazing courage and strength faithfully performed his duties, he again fixed his mind in this thought: Is the performance of the Rajasuya for the good of all people and all the worlds? Yudhisthira was the best of those who know the just laws of God, and being merciful toward all creatures, he acted for the good of all without exception. And so the people trusted him, as a child trusts his father. Indeed, he had the quality of being ajata-satru, "one whose enemy was never born," for there was no envy or malice in him.
The monarch, who was an excellent speaker, brought his ministers and brothers together to ask them again and again about the Rajasuya. The assembled counselors replied to the vastly learned king, who yearned to offer a great sacrifice to the Supreme Lord.
The counselors said, "When a king is consecrated by this sacrifice, he attains the virtue of Varuna, lord of the waters. And although already a king, by this sacrifice he aspires to gain the merit of an emperor. Dear Kuru child, your well-wishing friends feel the time has come for the Rajasuya, for you have earned the status of an emperor.
"In that sacrifice, priests strict in their vows chant sacred hymns to gather fuel and build six holy fires. Having ladled the oblations into the fire, one who executes all the procedures of rite and is consecrated is said at the offering's end to have conquered all by his sacrifice.
"O mighty-armed one, you can do it! We are all at your command. Without pondering further, Maharaja, set your mind on performing the Rajasuya."
Thus all the well-wishing friends, individually as well as in a group, spoke their minds. Hearing their speech, the Pandava king, slayer of enemies, accepted it in his mind, for their words were virtuous, confident, and glorious, and they expressed what the king himself strongly desired. Having listened to his well-wishers' words, and knowing he could accomplish the Rajasuya, he set his mind again and again on its performance.
Once more the wise king took counsel with his brothers, great-souled priests, and counselors headed by Dhaumya and Dvaipayana.
Yudhisthira said, "I ask you in good faith, How can I fulfill my desire to perform the Rajasuya, that grand rite fit for emperors?"
Thus addressed by the king, the priests and sages spoke these words at the proper moment to the most virtuous Yudhisthira: "You know the divine law, and you are worthy of the great Rajasuya ceremony."
When the priests and seers had thus spoken to the king, his ministers and brothers welcomed their words. The king possessed great wisdom and was a self-realized soul. Once again that noble son of Prtha thought deeply on the matter, for he desired the good of all the world. [These were his thoughts:] "A wise man never fails when he carefully studies the time, place, and circumstances, and the income and expenditure, and when he then acts with full intelligence after considering the situation. After all, one does not undertake a sacrifice simply to lead oneself to ruin. With this understanding, one takes up one's task."
But to know for certain his duty, the king went in his mind to Lord Krsna, the maintainer of all beings, for he considered Lord Krsna to be above all the world. Yudhisthira knew for good reasons that although the limitless and mighty-armed Lord Krsna is unborn, by His own desire He apparently takes birth in this world. Yudhisthira knew that Lord Krsna's activities are those of the Supreme God, that nothing is unknown to Him, and that there is nothing He cannot do or overcome. Thus the king thought of Krsna.
Yudhisthira, son of Prtha, fixed his unflinching intelligence in Lord Krsna and at once dispatched a messenger to that spiritual teacher of all living beings, just as one might send word to one's guru.
Traveling on a swift chariot, the messenger soon reached the land of the Yadavas. After entering the city of Dvaraka, he approached Lord Krsna, who dwells there. Just as Yudhisthira hankered to see Krsna, so the infallible Lord hankered to see that son of Prtha. With Indrasena, Lord Krsna went at once to the city of Indraprastha.
Quickly traversing various lands on a swift chariot, Lord Krsna, maintainer of the people, came to Prtha's son, Yudhisthira, who waited at Indraprastha. There in the king's personal quarters, Yudhisthira and Bhima honored Lord Krsna as a loving brother honors his brother. The Lord was then pleased to see His father's sister, Kunti. Next, Lord Krsna happily enjoyed with His loving friend Arjuna while the twins, Nakula and Sahadeva, surrounded Him like disciples surrounding their guru.
When Lord Krsna had rested in that happy land, was feeling well, and had time, Yudhisthira met with Him and explained his project.
Yudhisthira said, "I desire to perform the Rajasuya, but one cannot attain it by desire alone. O Krsna, You know all that is required to achieve it. One in whom all the world is united, who is honored everywhere, who is the lord of all—such is the king who enjoys the Rajasuya.
"I have met with my dear friends, and they have told me I should perform the Rajasuya. But it is by your word, Krsna, that the matter will be finally decided. Certainly there are those who out of loving friendship do not point out the shortcomings of a plan, and there are others who say what we want to hear to advance their own interest. In general we see that when people give advice about a project, they seek their own happiness and welfare. But You go beyond these motivations, for You are completely transcendental to material lust and anger. You should tell us exactly what is our greatest good in this world."
*For Yudhisthira to become emperor and thus qualified to perform the Rajasuya sacrifice, all the kings of the world must accept his sovereignty. So here Lord Krsna will tell Yudhisthira about the main obstacle to the sacrifice—Jarasandha and his allies.
Lord Krsna said, "Maharaja, you have all the qualifications to perform the Rajasuya. I shall tell you something, O Bharata, even though you know all this. Today the royal order is made up of members of royal families left by Lord Parasurama [when he killed all the kings of the earth]. Therefore, today's royalty is a younger line of monarchs, who acknowledge the dynasty of Aila and Iksvaku to be the origin of their lineage and are bound in a continuous succession. O best of the Bharatas, know that the kings of the Aila dynasty and the descendants of Iksvaku form 101 royal lineages of extraordinary qualities. This line now extends to the four corners of the earth and is esteemed for its success and opulence.
"But in that succession has arisen a most powerful king, known as Jarasandha, in whom the hundred and first royal line is invested. After ruling and enjoying the middle portion of the earth, he has set his mind on strife with other kings.
From birth, Jarasandha has achieved wide sovereignty. Sisupala, a mighty king born to lead armies, has completely taken shelter of Jarasandha, O wise monarch. And the lord of the Karusas, the powerful Vakra, who fights with magic, waits upon Jarasandha like a faithful disciple. Jarasandha has great courage, and two other exalted warriors of great courage, Hamsa and Dibhaka, have both taken shelter of him, as have Dantavakra, Kurusa, Kalabha, and Meghavahana.
"He who bears the divine jewel known as bhuta-mani on his head, he who punished the Yavana lords Mura and Naraka, that king of unlimited strength who rules the west like Varuna—your father's old friend Bhagadatta—is surrendered in word and deed to Jarasandha. But still he is devoted to you in his mind, bound to you in love like a father.
"That king who rules the southwestern end of the earth, who strengthens the Kunti clan, your heroic maternal uncle Purujit—he alone, that burner of enemies, is fully surrendered to you in affection.
"Paundraka, the evil-minded ruler of the Cedis, whom I have not yet slain though he is celebrated among his people as the Supreme Person, has also gone to Jarasandha. He declares himself the Supreme Person appearing in this world, and in illusion he has adopted My symbols and emblems. He rules parts of Bengal and Bihar and the lands of the Kiratas and is widely known among the people as Vasudeva.
"Caturyu is a powerful Bhoja and a friend of Indra. By the power of his science he conquered the Pandyas, the Krathas, and the Kaisikas; and his brother, the hero Ahrti, is equal to Parasurama in battle. Caturyu, also known as King Bhismaka, is devoted to Jarasandha, and he is a killer of even powerful enemies. Because We are his relatives, We have always treated him with deference, but though We accept him, he does not accept Us, and though We treat him kindly, he persists in being unkind to Us. Failing to recognize the strength and aristocracy of his own line, O king, he has sought shelter of Jarasandha upon seeing Jarasandha's blazing fame.
"Some time ago the foolish and vain Kamsa so harassed his relatives that he was able to directly approach the two goddesslike daughters of Jarasandha and make them his wives. The names of those younger sisters of Sahadeva were Asti and Prapti. Foolish and vain, Kamsa then used his strength to overcome his relatives. He achieved preeminence, but his policy and strategy were extremely bad. When that evil one persecuted the elder kings of the Bhoja clan, they respectfully met with Me, determined to save their families, and they offered Sutanu, the daughter of Ahuka, to My uncle Akrura. Then I, backed by Balarama, fulfilled My duty to My relatives. Balarama and I proceeded to kill Kamsa and Sunama.
"But as soon as that danger was passed, Jarasandha rose up to avenge the death of his son-in-law, and so, king, We took counsel with the eighteen younger families of Our dynasty. We concluded that even if without resting we went on for three hundred years slaying them with mighty weapons that could kill one hundred soldiers each, we would not destroy their army. Moreover, in that army were two most excellent fighters named Hamsa and Dibhaka, who shone like gods and surpassed the strong with their strength. In My opinion these two heroes and mighty Jarasandha formed a threesome that was an equal match for the three worlds. Not only did We come to this conclusion, but all the other kings of the earth were of the very same mind.
"The great king celebrated as Hamsa met in battle the eighteen younger warrior clans. Someone untruthfully announced, 'Hamsa is killed!' When Dibhaka heard this he drowned himself in the waters of the Yamuna, thinking, 'Without Hamsa, I cannot bear to live in this world.' Fixed in this thought, Dibhaka came to his end. When Hamsa heard about Dibhaka, he threw himself into the same river Yamuna and drowned. When King Jarasandha heard that the two had come to their end in the waters, he left the land of the Surasenas and went back to his city.
"The king having turned back, O slayer of foes, we all dwelled happily again in the city of Mathura. But when Kamsa's lotus-eyed wife returned to her father, Jarasandha, king of Magadha, she was anguished over the death of her husband, and so, O leader of kings, again and again she entreated her father, 'You must kill my lord's killer!'
"Then, Maharaja, O tamer of foes, remembering well our previous discussion of Jarasandha's might, we were perplexed. And so we retreated, O king of men. We quickly threw together our great wealth, O king, and with our treasure, friends, and relatives we practically flew away in fear of him. After considering the matter, we took shelter in the West, in the pleasing city of Kusasthali, Dvaraka, which is graced by Mount Raivata.
"There we again established our residence, constructing our fort so well that even the gods could hardly invade that city. Even the women can fight and defend that city, what to speak of the Vrsni heroes. O slayer of foes, we now dwell there free of all fear. As the citizens gaze upon Raivata, the best of mountains, and the holy ford called Madhavitirtha, O tiger of the Kurus, they find there the greatest joy.
"Most virtuous Bharata, you are always endowed with all the qualities of an emperor, and you should make yourself the emperor of the royal order. But as long as Jarasandha and his vast army live, it will be impossible for you to attain the Rajasuya. That is My opinion, O king.
"Like a lion defeating great elephants, Jarasandha has conquered kings and imprisoned them in a cave high on a mountain at his capital, Girivraja. Since he defeated the kings after worshiping Lord Siva, King Jarasandha wants to offer all those monarchs in sacrifice. As Jarasandha went on defeating kings, he would bring them to his city, make a corral for them, and bind them in it. Even We, Maharaja, in fear of Jarasandha, completely renounced Our home in Mathura and went to Dvaraka. If you actually want to achieve this sacrifice, then try to kill Jarasandha and free those kings. Otherwise, O most intelligent one, O Kuru child, even to begin a full performance of the Rajasuya will prove impossible. That is My view, O king. But how do you see it, sinless one? The situation being what it is, you decide with good reasons and then explain them to Me."
The Main Characters
Srimati Sita Devi
Sita Devi, or Sita Thakurani, and her sister Sri were both married to Srila Advaita Acarya, a close associate of Lord Caitanya. The sisters were expansions of Yoga Maya, the internal potency of the Lord. Sita Thakurani's three sons—Acyutananda, Krsna Misra, and Gopala Misra—became great devotees of the Lord.
When the Supreme Lord Sri Caitanya Mahaprabhu appeared as the son of Jagannatha Misra and Sacimata, Sita Thakurani became absorbed in parental affection for Him. To protect Him from witches and sorcerers, she gave Him the name Nimai, after the neem tree. It is said that evil spirits cannot go near neem trees; therefore Sita Thakurani thought that no harm could come to a boy named Nimai.
Sita Thakurani and Advaita Acarya moved from Shantipur to Mayapur to be near Jagannatha Misra's house. Sita Thakurani would go every day to see Nimai, and she would give friendly advice to Jagannatha Misra and Sacimata on how they should raise Him.
Years later, even after Lord Caitanya accepted the renounced order of life, Sita Thakurani continued to treat Him as her son. She loved to cook for Him, and when she invited Him to lunch He could not refuse. The love Sita Thakurani showed Lord Caitanya was so intense that He looked upon her as His own mother.
Srila Prabhupada stress the importance
By Giriraja Swami
ONE OF MY MOST wonderful experiences in life came when I accompanied Srila Prabhupada on his tour of India from October 1970 to February 1972. While every experience with Srila Prabhupada was wonderful, traveling with him as he spread Krsna consciousness was especially so. We visited Bombay, Delhi, Madras, Indore, Surat, Calcutta, Gorakhpur, Amritsar, and Allahabad.
Generally, Srila Prabhupada would address large public gatherings in the evening and meet individuals or small groups during the day. While speaking about Krsna consciousness to Indians, Srila Prabhupada touched one young American who was touring India. The young man began to travel with us, and sometimes he would sit next to me when we took our meals of Krsna-prasadam, food offered to Krsna.
"Krsna is definitely God!" he would exclaim. "Otherwise, how could I—such a lowly creature—get such nice prasadam every day. Krsna is truly merciful."
After associating with us for some days, the young man had learned enough of the philosophy to ask Srila Prabhupada a question: "If all service is absolute, why do we have to chant sixteen rounds?"
Srila Prabhupada answered, but somehow the young man was not satisfied and repeatedly pressed his point.
Finally, Srila Prabhupada sat erect, and in a grave voice said, "Why chant sixteen rounds? Because the Supreme Personality of Godhead wants you to!"
Even then the young man persisted.
Young Man: Why is any one activity of Krsna consciousness better than another? Take, for example, chanting sixteen rounds. Suppose you've served Krsna twenty-three hours, and in the last hour you can either finish your rounds or enroll someone as a life member of ISKCON. Instead of chanting your sixteen rounds ...
Srila Prabhupada's words were always full of truth, and sometimes full of humor. Subsequently, while studying Sri Caitanya-caritamrta (Madhya-lila 22.113), I found a philosophical truth underlying Srila Prabhupada's humorous reply. The basic principle of regulative devotional service is to always remember Krsna and never forget Him:
smartavyah satatam visnur
Commenting on this verse from Padma Purana, Srila Prabhupada writes: "There are many regulative principles in the sastras [scriptures] and directions given by the spiritual master. These regulative principles should act as servants of the basic principle—that is, one should always remember Krsna and never forget Him. This is possible when one chants the Hare Krsna mantra. Therefore one must strictly chant the Hare Krsna maha-mantra twenty-four hours daily. One may have other duties to perform under the direction of the spiritual master, but he must first abide by the spiritual master's order to chant a certain number of rounds. In our Krsna consciousness movement, we have recommended that the neophyte chant at least sixteen rounds. This chanting of sixteen rounds is absolutely necessary if one wants to remember Krsna and not forget Him. Of all the regulative principles, the spiritual master's order to chant at least sixteen rounds is most essential."
Although Srila Prabhupada had instructed the young man not to ask "Why," here Srila Prabhupada gives the answer. Though we may have other important duties, the basic principle is to always remember Krsna. And to always remember Krsna, we must regularly chant sixteen rounds.
As Krsna's empowered representative, Srila Prabhupada understood the necessity for us to chant sixteen rounds. But is it true, as Srila Prabhupada said, that he would have no objection if the young man did nothing more than chant sixteen rounds, eat, and sleep?
Let us consider the meaning of the maha-mantra. When we chant we are addressing Krsna and His energy. If Krsna were to respond and ask, "Yes? You called? What do you want?" what would we reply? "A VCR"? "A new house"? "An imported car"? "A beautiful wife"? "A better job"? "A husband for my daughter"?
No. A pure devotee will not ask for anything material. He will ask only for service to Krsna and Krsna's devotees. "O Lord Krsna! O Srimati Radharani! Please engage me in Your devotional service."
Srila Prabhupada knew that if the young man chanted sixteen rounds every day, Krsna would hear his prayer and fulfill his desire. Krsna would give him more and more service at the lotus feet of His dear representative, Srila Prabhupada.
Giriraja Swami serves as an ISKCON Governing Body Commissioner for Mumbai, Mauritius, Spain, Portugal, South Africa, and several other places.
Service To A Higher Mission
The French army wanted him—but so did Krsna.
By Radha Carana Dasa
BORN INTO a French Jewish family on July 4, 1957, I had the privilege to receive a strict religious education throughout my childhood. That training would prove helpful to me in my spiritual search.
Paris is not the ideal place to spend one's teenage years, but it offered me an opportunity to learn the hard facts of life. After many failures in trying to enjoy life, at age fifteen I felt a great urge for spiritual emancipation. At seventeen I gave up meat-eating and turned to the East for answers.
Lord Krsna came into my life unexpectedly just before I started my first job, as a clerk. I had decided to get myself a motorcycle to ride to work. A local dealer had exactly what I wanted, but for some reason my father decided to take me to a dealer in the next suburb, Fontenay aux Roses. The shop was right across the street from what was then the Paris Hare Krsna temple.
I saw two devotees walking down the narrow street, which was filled with the strong fragrance of incense from the temple's Spiritual Sky incense factory. The effulgent devotees drew my full attention, and my heart felt an intense spontaneous desire to be with them. My vision ended in an instant, though, as I suddenly found myself pushed brusquely inside the shop by my father, who was muttering about strange aliens.
But it was too late. I couldn't keep the devotees out of my mind, and my attraction to them only grew.
When Srila Prabhupada came to Paris and lectured at the Salle Pleyel in 1975, I wanted to go but my father objected. He said I was too young, but I know that he saw my attraction to Krsna consciousness as an insult to our Jewish family tradition.
Through the education and training my father had given me, I had no doubt gained faith in the existence of God as the supreme father and controller of everything. But looking into the daily practices of Judaism, I found no blissful satisfaction to encourage me to pursue it further. So, shortly after Srila Prabhupada's visit, at the age of eighteen I left for India in search of my spiritual identity.
In Search of the Real India
National borders from Europe to India were open then, and for many young people the journey to India was the road to heaven. The Magic Bus would take you from Amsterdam to Katmandu for only $100. No seats. Everyone sat on the floor. The bus was full of young hippies running away from Western culture to the culture of drugs and so-called gurus India had to offer. But it also had more to offer than that. Waiting to be found lay the timeless Vedic culture and Krsna consciousness.
After a rough journey through Greece, Turkey, Iran, Afghanistan, and Pakistan, I arrived in Amritsar, Punjab, in June 1977, and then made my way to New Delhi, barefoot and penniless. Srila Prabhupada was in Vrndavana, and I used to meet his disciples in the market across from the New Delhi railway station (Paharganj). They would invite me to the Delhi temple and suggested I go to Vrndavana. I knew that if I ever put even one foot in the temple, I'd want to join the devotees and I'd lose my independence. And I knew that if I went to Vrndavana, Prabhupada would get the better side of me and I would have to bid farewell to all my material conceptions and plans.
I wasn't ready yet, so I booked a seat on the next train to Varanasi, where I stayed at the house of a sitar maker and spent a month learning how to play the sitar. Back in Paris my parents were getting regular visits from the military police, because I was of age for national service. My father sent me repeated letters asking me to return quickly and avoid further complications with the army.
I was well settled in Varanasi and lived by the bank of the Ganges. I felt I was midway to the spiritual sky. But I knew I had to deal with the army. At the same time, the idea of becoming a devotee was growing stronger; I knew I had to get a spiritual master. To deal with both matters, I decided to go back to France.
Catching buses, hitchhiking through the Afghani and Iranian deserts, and even walking through the mountains, I finally reached Paris, only to find my anxious parents expecting me to become a soldier. My plan was different. I wanted to avoid military service and instead engage in devotional service.
When I presented myself at the recruiting center, I carried a set of chanting beads and a Srimad-Bhagavatam I had bought from devotees on the street. The two days of physical tests went well, but I asked for an appointment with the psychologist. When I entered his office, I found myself alone with a tall man in a white shirt, wearing thick, square glasses on his broad face. He looked at me intensely, but he didn't seem concerned that my uniform included a bag of chanting beads hanging around my neck. I prayed to Lord Krsna to help me find the right words and promised that if He'd get me out of the situation, I'd become His devotee.
The psychologist asked me what was hanging around my neck. I showed him the beads and explained to him they were for chanting the names of God. He opened his eyes wide and then asked what book I was reading. I showed him the Sanskrit on the pages of Srimad-Bhagavatam. I went on to explain that I had just been to India looking for a spiritual path and that although I was not against military service, I had a more important mission to fulfill.
His reply was quick and brief: "We can provide you with all facilities for your worship in the army. You're fit; you should be drafted."
I saw no promising signs on his face or in his words. So I tried again. I said that bhakti-yoga is practiced twenty-four hours a day. I pleaded that this was an urgent phase in my life and I wasn't trying to avoid my national duties.
The words yoga and duty seemed to move him. He paused for a while and then briskly grabbed the rubber stamp on his desk, pressed it onto his red ink pad, and after holding it briefly in the air, abruptly marked a sheet of paper.
He held the paper out to me, looked straight into my eyes, and said, "Here, my boy, you're free. Become a spiritualist and a yogi, but don't be a hypocrite. Do it properly all the way."
I just couldn't believe what I'd just heard. I thanked him and ran out the door towards the exit, excitedly waving the paper in the air. I jumped onto the train and went home to celebrate my freedom. My parents were happy because they felt that now was the chance for me to become serious in life and take the right direction.
Yes indeed, but this time it would be Krsna's direction. I began to go to the temple every week and to attend festivals. The Paris temple was filled with many wonderful devotees. Srila Prabhupada was very ill at that time, but he somehow made a last trip to the West, visiting the Bhaktivedanta Manor, his temple outside London. There was a chance that Prabhupada would visit Paris, so I excitedly thought of finally meeting him. My first temple service was to paint Prabhupada's bathroom, just in case he decided to come. But by Krsna's desire, Prabhupada returned to Vrndavana from London.
One main inspiration for me from the beginning was the association of Indradyumna Swami, who was then married, not yet having accepted the renounced order. For me, he was the example of a devotee who had already reached the spiritual world. His strict practice of Krsna consciousness and his enthusiasm in leading us in the chanting of Hare Krsna touched me deeply.
One day as I was walking out of the temple to go home, he called out to me and said, "You've been coming for a while now. You should begin to chant rounds," * (Devotees chant on a string of 108 beads, reciting one Hare Krsna mantra on each bead. One set of 108 mantras is called a round. Srila Prabhupada set the rule that initiated devotees in the Hare Krsna movement must chant at least sixteen rounds every day.) and he handed me a set of brand-new beads.
He also kindly invited me to attend the Janmastami festival (Lord Krsna's appearance day), soon to be celebrated at ISKCON France's New Mayapur farm. I accepted both gestures as the mercy of Srila Prabhupada.
From that time on I knew that nothing else would hold me back from moving into the temple. I finally decided to move into the devotees' association for the rest of my life. On Friday, September 20, 1977, at 10:30 A.M., by the grace of Srila Prabhupada I became a devotee of Lord Krsna at the Hare Krsna temple in Paris, France.
Radha Carana Dasa is a disciple of Sripada Tamal Krsna Goswami. Radha Carana has served in many parts of the world and is now helping spread Krsna consciousness in Israel.
By Caitanya Vallabha Dasa
My heartiest congratulations to you for securing admission to the Wharton School at the University of Pennsylvania, one of the top schools in the U.S.A. It is an achievement worthy of praise.
Today you stand at the crossroads in your life. The decisions you make now will yield fruits for the rest of your life. A wrong decision may produce a bitter fruit, and a correct one will yield the sweetest of fruits. So you should take everyone's advice but make your own decision.
You will have to choose between doing the right things and doing the wrong things. You will have many friends tempting you with the so-called pleasures of girls, drugs, and alcohol. There will hardly be a friend who will tell you to avoid them. Friends are as temporary as a cloud. As you evolve from school to college, you will shed old friends and gain new ones. And when you start working, there will be another change of friends. Thus you will continuously change friends and find that all relationships are temporary.
But there is one friend—Krishna—who resides in your heart and whose friendship is never lost, not even in your next life. In His form as the Supersoul He is your most intimate and dear friend. He never leaves your side; He accompanies you at all times as you, the eternal soul, move from one material body to another in this ever revolving wheel of samsara, the cycle of birth and death. He is continuously telling you what is right and what is wrong. As your eternal friend, He encourages you to do the right thing and cautions you against taking a wrong step. But beware! He will not stop you from wrongdoing. He will only alert you.
Often, you might take a wrong step, not being able to distinguish between the voice of the Supersoul and the urgings of your own mind. Taking the wrong steps will bring physical, mental, and emotional stresses, for these wrong steps are the seeds of pain and sorrow. Pain and sorrow are the direct result of forgetting Krishna, who resides in your heart. And when the reactions arrive, you wonder, "Why me?"
To help you remember Krishna more often, and to mitigate problems in life, our Vedic scriptures—operating manuals of life—suggest that we mold our life in such a way as to keep Krishna in the center. Here's a practical way to begin:
—Chant the Hare Krishna maha-mantra a set number of times on beads every day
In four to six months your friends will see changes in your behavior and attitude and will be pleasantly surprised. Little miracles will come your way, and people will say, "You are lucky." Because the practice of Krishna consciousness is a science, the results are certain. But as with any scientific technique, you have to observe some regulations.
So, look ahead. Work hard. Have fun. But please do not forget Krishna at any cost. He is your only true, eternal friend.
Dog Race in a Dangerous Place
Here we conclude an exchange that took place between His Divine Grace A.C. Bhaktivedanta Swami Prabhupada and some of his disciples during a morning walk in Denver, Colorado, on June 28, 1975.
Srila Prabhupada: Until these world leaders take to this Vedic culture, what kind of civilization will they have? Dog race. Horse race. They want this. Rat race. That's all. Their civilization is a race. Dog race. Horse race. Rat race. The citizens do not know anything about this great science of the soul. Modern civilization means that people are simply becoming rascals, animals. Of course, strictly speaking, theirs is a motor race. They have advanced beyond the common dog race to a motor race. But if a doggish person is running not on four legs but on four wheels, does that mean he is not a dog? It is the same race. The same race—whether by running on four legs or on four wheels. The race is the same, and the dog is the same.
So this civilization is a glorified dog race. Modern man does not know, "I may feel proud of racing around in a car, but is there any value if I do not understand the meaning of my life?" Hmm? So this is going on. A big, big highway for dog racing—that is modern civilization.
And when rascal yogis and swamis present their version of the Vedic culture, they say something like, "By this transcendental meditation you will keep your dog race very nice." In reality, these yogis and swamis are bewildered by this materialistic civilization. "Oh, very nice. It is very nice." That's all. In Bhagavad-gita Krsna describes such people. Mohitam nabhijanati mam ebhyah param avyayam: "Bewildered by the modes of material nature, fools and rascals do not know Me, who am above the modes and inexhaustible." The modern world is filled with such mudhas, rascals. So, the only hope is that you distribute our Krsna conscious books as much as possible.
In London there is a big stadium for dog racing. Do you know that? Many people go to see the dogs race.
Disciple: In America dog racing is very popular as well. Here in Denver, people love to go.
Srila Prabhupada: To the dog race? [Laughter.]
Disciple: We've gone there, too, Srila Prabhupada, to distribute your books.
Srila Prabhupada: In Australia, also—Sydney—oh, they are very fond of dog racing. Many men take their big dogs for racing.
Disciple: It makes for good gambling.
Srila Prabhupada: And in Europe, being aristocratic means keeping many horses and many dogs. That is aristocracy. The aristocrats ride on horses, and taking their dogs they go to the forest and kill some innocent birds. This is the extent of their heroic activities. [To a disciple:] Do you remember that palace we went to see in France?
Disciple: Yes. In the hallway they had many pictures of aristocrats killing birds and foxes. Pictures to memorialize these great personalities and their heroic activities.
Srila Prabhupada: In Paris we saw a huge statue of Napoleon. And we recalled Napoleon's boast, "I am France." France is still there, but there is no Napoleon. [Laughter.] Napoleon, finished, Hitler, finished, Gandhi, finished.
Disciple: Srila Prabhupada, in the same place where we saw that statue of Napoleon, formerly there had been another statue, of Louis XIV. Napoleon pulled that one down and replaced it with his own statue.
Srila Prabhupada: And some day someone else will come and replace Napoleon's statue. For instance, in Karachi they have pulled Gandhi's statue down.
Nothing in this material world will stay. So always chant Hare Krsna. This is a very dangerous place. Padam padam yad vipadam: This is a place where at every step there is danger. Right now, we are walking in a very nice park, but at any moment there may be a revolution and the whole thing may change. The whole thing may become like fire, just as it has now become in India. So we should remember that here in this material world, padam padam yad vipadam: At every step there is danger. Therefore, give up your attachment for this place. That is real intelligence. And yet the modern educational system is misleading people into maya-sukhaya: making gorgeous plans for temporary happiness. That's all. If in the slaughterhouse the animals are kept very comfortably, what is the meaning of it?
Disciple: No meaning. They'll still be slaughtered.
Srila Prabhupada: It is sure that all the animals will be slaughtered. So even if, let us say, the animals could arrange that "All right, before being slaughtered, let us live very comfortably," would that be very good intelligence? Intelligence consists in inquiring, "Why must we be slaughtered? How to stop this business?" That is intelligence.
How do you define slaughterhouse? What does slaughterhouse mean?
Disciple: A slaughterhouse is a place where many animals are sent to be killed brutally.
Srila Prabhupada: Yes. In a slaughterhouse many animals are brought together expressly to be killed. So this whole material world is a slaughterhouse. And when there is need, many two-legged animals will be brought together into a war and killed.
This place is a slaughterhouse. And yet the foolish two-legged animal is thinking, "I am now very comfortably situated." He forgets, "I am going to be slaughtered." Mrtyu-samsara-sagarat: "This place is an ocean of slaughter." In Bhagavad-gita Krsna confirms it—mrtyu-samsara-sagarat. This place is a slaughterhouse. But people are accepting it as their home. Another name for this material world is mrtyu-loka, "the place of death." But still, people take it as a very comfortable place. This is their intelligence: accepting a slaughterhouse as a very nice place. When you point these things out to these animals who are going to be slaughtered, how do they respond?
Disciple: Well, Srila Prabhupada, just a few days ago, in New York, a lightning bolt struck an airliner and sent it crashing down onto a big highway. A ghastly, horrifying scene, with hundreds of people screaming in agony as they lost their lives. After that, I was passing out your books at the Denver airport and mentioning, "How about that New York crash? Seems any of us could die at any moment, you know?"
But most people in the terminal looked up from their cushy chairs and said, "Oh, I've got my whole life in front of me." Things like that. "I'm just devoting my attention to getting ahead. I'm enjoying my life far too much to start indulging in that kind of negative thinking."
Srila Prabhupada: Oh. Just see. Slaughterhouse. But still, somehow people hope to find real, lasting comfort within the slaughterhouse.
Disciple: Srila Prabhupada, in your lecture the other day in Los Angeles, you said that when a great war happens, with many people killed, it has been arranged by the Supreme, as in the Battle of Kuruksetra.
Srila Prabhupada: Yes. Krsna states that fact to Arjuna. "You are feeling intense affection for your family members, even though they are trying to usurp your kingdom by mounting a massive attack. You are thinking, very nobly, that you do not wish to kill your family members. But it is already settled. They must be killed here. I have brought them. You may kill them or not kill them—they will be killed. That is My plan. If you want, you may take credit that you have been victorious in the battle."
And modern warfare is the same kind of arrangement. It is all prearranged. War means bringing many two-legged animals together and killing them. Finished. And that is happening every so often. A Napoleon is being sent for killing. Or a Hitler is being sent for killing. In India, the Lord Himself comes for killing. Lord Ramacandra came for killing Ravana, and Lord Krsna came for killing the Kauravas.
Disciple: But, Srila Prabhupada, in these big wars aren't the Lord's devotees killed also? Wasn't that true even during the Battle of Kuruksetra?
Srila Prabhupada: Well, during the Battle of Kuruksetra, all five Pandava brothers were saved. When the battle was over, all five brothers remained. So when there is a war, it is not that all the devotees are saved, but mostly they are saved. And more important, Krsna assures,
janma karma ca me divyam
"Upon giving up this body, those who know the transcendental nature of My advent and activities never return to this miserable and temporary material world. Rather, they come back home to Me."
Hare Krsna couples know from the start
By Dhyana-kunda Devi Dasi
IN MY MOTHER'S wedding photo, she holds a thin bunch of flowers as if she wished to hide it somewhere. The Town Hall marriage chamber resembles a waiting room of an old-fashioned office. My parents, in their everyday attire of poor college students, look blissful but embarrassed, as if they cannot fully comprehend what is happening: Are we really married? What now? Get out and go back to our classes, or what?
In those times—the sixties—the young Polish intelligentsia took pride in abandoning the old rites of the Catholic tradition. Under Communist influence, marriage was thought of as merely a formality, a matter of signatures. Twelve years later, my parents placed their signatures on a divorce document.
I'm remembering this as I leaf through my own wedding album. In the background I can see my mother's face. Touched, she is watching as my husband and I throw grains into the sacrificial fire, while a devotee softly explains to her the meaning of the rituals.
In my childhood, I used to wrap myself in a window curtain and dream I was wearing a beautiful silk dress, so long that I would have to lift it with both hands when stepping up the stairs. Soon enough, life forced me to admit I wasn't a fairy-tale princess. But now my old dream was to be fulfilled at, of all places, a Hare Krsna temple—the same temple where I'd learned every day that I'm not my female body and not meant to be the center of attraction. A wedding ceremony was to be performed for two persons striving to understand that the attachment between man and woman is a trap of maya (illusion), and that our real family is Krsna's family in the spiritual world.
Krsna consciousness is both idealistic and practical. It makes the highest perfection—love of God—accessible to people with various natures and inclinations. Celibacy and absolute dedication to spiritual practice are encouraged and praised, and so is a sincere desire to pursue Krsna consciousness in married life. Devotees wishing to create a family can have their material needs fulfilled while getting unlimited opportunities to keep Krsna in the center.
Devotee families have their own unique offering to make to Krsna. Theirs is not an inferior brand of spirituality. Nor is marital happiness something shameful, as was often believed in the medieval ages of Christianity. God does not envy our enjoyment. But if we want our happiness to last, it has to be built on the principle of serving Krsna's enjoyment, because we are all His servants and cannot have lasting enjoyment by acting against our nature.
The night before my wedding, the devotee who would be dressing the temple Deities the next morning asked me which clothing I most liked seeing the Deities dressed in. I felt touched: she wanted to help me appreciate and remember our Deities on that special day.
Until recently, in all traditional societies, religious rituals accompanied major transitions in life, such as being born, taking up education, or getting married. The Vedic scriptures call those rituals samskaras, or purifying rites. Samskara means "impression," like ruts in soft clay or a riverbed. The purpose of samskara is to create a deep, lasting impression in the mind of the person for whom it is performed. The impression will channel the stream of the person's thoughts and emotions in a way conducive to spiritual advancement. On the social level, samskaras help clarify for members of the society their place in it: their rights, duties, progress. Psychologically, samskaras aid the development of one's sense of identity, purpose, and fulfillment in life.
The vivaha-samskara (wedding rite) offers an excellent opportunity to spiritualize thoughts, emotions, and commitments that accompany being united with one's chosen partner. A Vaisnava wedding (a wedding of devotees of Krsna) is not only a colorful, joyful ceremony but also a source of devotional inspiration for years to come. When difficulties arise in the relationship, we may ask ourselves, "How did I get into this situation? Why did I marry this person?" Then the mind will go back to the wedding day and automatically remember Lord Krsna, His devotees, and His loving service.
Sanctioning a relationship by a Vaisnava wedding is not all it takes to make a marriage successful. And one can even undergo this meaningful ceremony thoughtlessly. One person will meditate on the ritual's essential meaning, while another may be preoccupied worrying about a pimple. The foundation for a good marriage is laid long before, beginning from childhood. Proper motives for entering the relationship are essential. A senior devotee, married for many years, once told me, "If we are honest and respect each other, Krsna can make our marriage like soft grasses, and if we are cheaters, He can make it like a swamp."
Still, the Vaisnava wedding ceremony helps the couple take their first step together in harmony with each other and with God. Even if the partners have already lived together before accepting Krsna consciousness, undergoing the vivaha-samskara can deepen their relationship and make it more satisfying. It helps the couple realize, "We are together not because it somehow happened this way, not by mistake, not in a passing episode of blind passion. The life we share is sanctified and meaningful, an important aspect of our spiritual life. Any little effort to make our relationship pleasing to Krsna goes to our eternal benefit."
Another photo: a woman devotee leads me to the temple. In my gorgeous red silk sari, with ornaments and flower wreaths in my hair, I'm nervous. What will my dear one think of me? "The princess! Ridiculous!"
Prayers for Success
Next moment, I'm inside. As sweet sounds of Hare Krsna chanting envelop me, suddenly the anxiety goes away. The bridegroom and I approach the altar and stand before the Deities. Mentally, we offer Them a prayer we have prepared:
"Our dear Radha and Krsna, O Divine Couple, please accept us. Please teach us to serve You and not try to imitate You. If You think we can help each other grow in love and devotion to You, then let this marriage ceremony be auspiciously performed under Your merciful glance. May we never forget this ceremony. Then our relationship will stand the test of time. May our parents, who are blessing us now, never feel sorrow remembering our wedding."
Then I offer my own prayer:
"O Srimati Radharani, so beautifully decorated with ornaments and flowers, smiling with such simplicity and kindness, You are the real princess. I am happy standing before You in humble submission. The desire of my childhood has now melted away."
Dhyanakunda Devi Dasi, originally from Poland, joined the Hare Krsna movement in 1987 and was married in 1994. She holds a masters degree in psychology. She lives at the ISKCON farm in Almviks Gard, Sweden, where she serves as an English editor and Polish translator for the north European branch of the Bhaktivedanta Book Trust. She is also one of a group of international deputies to ISKCON's Governing Body Commission.
The worldwide activities of the International Society for Krishna consciousness (ISKCON)
Prime Minister of India Opens
Speech by Sri Atal Bihari Vajpayee, the Honorable Prime Minister of India, at the Inauguration of the Sri Sri Radha-Parthasarathi Temple and Glory of India Vedic Cultural Center. Rama Navami, April 5, 1998.
Hare Krsna. Hare Rama.
For the benefit of my friends from abroad, I would like to say a few words in English:
Distinguished guests, it is my privilege to be present at today's pious function to mark the opening of this magnificent temple and also the Glory of India Vedic Cultural Center in Delhi. The piousness of today's function is further enhanced by the fact that it is taking place on the auspicious occasion of Rama Navami.
I would first of all like to express my deepest sense of appreciation for the vision, dedication, and achievement of the International Society for Krsna Consciousness (ISKCON) and all those who have collaborated with it to present this unique spiritual gift to the nation's capital. The ISKCON movement has few parallels in the world in terms of its rapid global spread, its trans-national, trans-ethnic, and trans-professional appeal, its outward simplicity, and the devotional energy of its followers. In the less than three and a half decades since its inception it has established temples in practically all parts of the world, and many of them are marvels of beauty, such as the one that is being opened in New Delhi today.
The maha-mantra of Hare Krsna Hare Rama reverberates to the dancing feet of ISKCON devotees each morning and evening in temples from Stockholm to Sao Paulo and from Miami to Mayapur. What ISKCON has achieved is indeed globalization of the Gita appeal. Some people say that my government is opposed to globalization. But let me say that I am all in favor of globalization of the message of the Gita. Not only the globalization of the message of Gita but indeed of the messages of all the sacred books of the world with which the message of Gita bears close conformity.
If today the Bhagavad-gita is printed in millions of copies in scores of Indian languages and distributed in all nooks and corners of the world, the credit for this great sacred service goes chiefly to ISKCON.
I understand that ISKCON is also propagating the message of the Gita through the latest gadgets of information technology, and this temple itself provides an astonishing demonstration of the use of high tech to popularize the higher truth of life and the universe.
For this one accomplishment alone, Indians should be eternally grateful to the devoted spiritual army of Swami Prabhupada's followers. The voyage of Bhaktivedanta Swami Prabhupada to the United States in 1965 and the spectacular popularity his movement gained in a very short spell of twelve years must be regarded as one of the greatest spiritual events of the century.
What accounts for the rapid spread of the ISKCON movement globally?
The answer should be sought in two factors—internal and external. The external factor was, in my opinion, the disillusionment in the leading minds in Western countries arising out of the domination of the materialist ideology and culture in the West. Both capitalism and communism gave birth to disillusionment, since both are essentially materialist ideologies that are incapable of satisfying the real needs of man. Young, sensitive, and searching minds could not have reconciled themselves to the reality of wars, violence, greed, excessive consumerism, and degradation of the human and natural environment. They had to seek answers elsewhere, and ISKCON was one movement where they found the answer.
The internal factor was of course the inherent strength of ISKCON's message, a message founded in the philosophy of the Gita. It answers all the moral concerns and needs of the world, be it man's quest for inner peace, his need for belonging to the rest of the human and natural community, his concern for the environment, his attitude towards work and attitude towards death. The Gita provides comprehensive and internally consistent answers to all these concerns.
It is in this respect that ISKCON differs from other passing fads and fashions that appealed to the disillusioned Western minds in the 1960s and 70s. These fads come and go, but the ISKCON movement is growing from strength to strength.
The transcendental and universal message of the Bhagavad-gita is evocatively communicated by Bhaktivedanta Swami Prabhupada in his book Bhagavad-gita As It Is, and I would like to read the following excerpt from his introduction to the book:
"In this world men are not meant for quarreling like cats and dogs. Men must be intelligent to realize the importance of human life and refuse to act like ordinary animals. A human being should realize the aim of his life, and this direction is given in all Vedic literatures, and the essence is given in Bhagavad-gita. Vedic literature is meant for human beings, not for animals. Animals can kill other living animals, and there is no question of sin on their part, but if a man kills an animal for the satisfaction of his uncontrolled taste, he must be responsible for breaking the laws of nature. ... If we properly utilize the instructions of Bhagavad-gita, then our whole life will become purified, and ultimately we will be able to reach the destination which is beyond this material sky.
"That destination is called the sanatana sky, the eternal, spiritual sky. In this material world we find that everything is temporary. It comes into being, stays for some time, produces some by-products, dwindles, and then vanishes. That is the law of the material world, whether we use as an example this body, or a piece of fruit or anything. But beyond this temporary world there is another world of which we have information. That world consists of another nature, which is sanatana, eternal."
In this distinguished gathering of spiritual masters and spiritual seekers I am indeed a layman. But permit me to share with you a few thoughts of mine on the relevance of the Gita's message in today's national and global contexts. The Gita's relevance is universal and eternal because it provides a satisfactory answer to three basic questions of life: What are we? What should we do? And how should we live?
Human beings have confronted these questions in all societies at all times. The Gita answers these questions through the harmonization of jnana-yoga, karma-yoga, and bhakti-yoga. The beauty of Indian culture is that it made the essence of these three paths of yoga available to the lowest man as well as to the highest seeker. The Gita is not a prescription for non-action or passivity. It gives a radical message of action which transforms the self and the society. That is why it could inspire countless revolutionaries and freedom fighters, such as Mahatma Gandhi, Swami Vivekananda, Lokmanya Tilak, and others. But in times of peace and nation-building, the Gita can also inspire the politician, the teacher, the worker, the scientist, and the common citizen—and film actors also.*
*Film stars Sunil Dutt and Hema Malini were among the guests present in the audience.
Therefore the motto of all of us today should be yogah karmasu kausalam ["the art of work in devotion to the Supreme"]. What we need today is the application on a national scale of the work-related ideology of the Gita. This will create a new work culture, and a new work culture will create a new India.
A word about the architectural beauty of the new ISKCON temple. It is undoubtedly a worthy addition to New Delhi's array of beautiful buildings and structures, both old and new, whose numbers, sadly, are far less than what the nation's capital ought to have and whose collective beauty, even more sadly, is drowned under the sprawling and spreading sea of ugliness and ordinariness.
The spectacular look of this temple and its landscape reminds me of a telling quotation I came across in a newspaper yesterday. It is by the celebrated author Sri V. S. Naipaul, who commented on the paucity of beautiful modern buildings in India. Naipaul says, "Independent India has not produced architecture. Poor countries need very fine buildings to put people in touch with what is possible with the beautiful. Such fine buildings are the most public art." Naipaul is right. We need more and more buildings which put our people in touch with our own tradition of beauty and aesthetics.
Naipaul may also be right in observing that beautiful buildings are the most public art. We cannot tolerate a situation where everything that is beautiful—beautiful paintings, beautiful beaches, beautiful mountain resorts, and beautiful works of art—is available only to those who have the money. A beautiful temple, of course, is more than a piece of public art. It puts people in touch with the higher beauty of the almighty creator and all His creation. The sights, sounds, and indeed all the vibrations in a temple have the effect of soothing the devotees, comforting them, giving them hope and confidence, and elevating them to a transcendental plane of existence, at least for the brief time we spend praying and worshiping in the temple.
May I once again felicitate all those who have had a hand in making this great dream come true—the acaryas of ISKCON, the generous donors, the architect, the landscape designers, the engineers, the workers, and all the other humble devotees. Thank you very much indeed.
Transcendental Commentary on the Issues of the Day
The Mighty Itching
By Kalakantha Dasa
The world's most mighty man, it seems,
The charges may or may not stick,
By admirals and by generals and
Cannot forestall instrusion from
What army or assassin's gun
In India, the elephant,
While rushing toward his female
That one may rule the jungle
A mighty king named Bali, who
The boy asked for three paces
"You see," the boy instructed,
Now Bali got the message and
"Don't scratch that blasted itching
You'd think the mighty leaders
Why do we Hare Krsna folks
No More Cows
By Hare Krsna Devi Dasi
DURING A conversation in Los Angeles in 1968, Srila Prabhupada made a sobering prediction about what would happen if humanity continued its practice of cow slaughter:
Devotee: You said that as the Age of Kali-yuga progresses there'll be no more butter.
In 1968, Srila Prabhupada's prediction must have seemed unlikely. Of course there would be cows. Even if cows were continually slaughtered, commercial dairies would constantly produce more. By the marvelous workings of the market economy, there would always be more milk. Supply and demand: If consumers wanted milk, obviously dairy farmers would produce it.
Probably most people still believe that, but in recent decades, unbeknown to the consumer, the situation has been shifting. Agricultural experts note that a dangerous fault line has begun to develop, as many dairy farms are forced to close because they're not making money.
In a recent New York Times article ("Losing Money on Every Gallon," October 12, 1997) reporter William Glaberson described the dairy farmer's anxiety: "According to government and private estimates, an average dairy farmer in the New York region is now paid less for a gallon of milk than it costs to produce that amount. That money-losing formula means that in places where dairy farming is not just the biggest industry but a way of life, people are beginning to speak of a new farm crisis."
In 1987 New York had 14,500 dairy farms. Of the 9,000 that remain, as many as 1,000 could soon be forced out of business, says Donald Davidson, New York's commissioner of agriculture and markets. Shirley Ferris, Connecticut's commissioner of agriculture, says, "Dairy farmers are getting the same amount for their milk as they did 10 years ago, but the cost of everything they have to buy has quadrupled. I don't need to say any more."
What went wrong? farmers wonder. Depression-era farm subsidies are being phased out, and the "free market," it turns out, is not so free after all. It encourages monopoly and oligopoly. That means big guys call the shots. Government officials and big milk buyers work out prices the farmer gets for milk. Farmer and consumer, who never see each other anyway, have little say in the matter.
As dairy farms continue to fold, it's tempting to say, "Serves 'em right; they're killing cows." And in terms of karma, we know the next life holds more trouble for commercial dairy farmers. But in practical terms it's simply not possible to do commercial dairying without slaughtering cows. The high cost of maintaining unproductive cows would drive a farmer out of business. Unfortunately, land taxes are prejudiced against the subsistence farmer, who would be more likely to protect his cows.
The real solution is to create another kind of society, based not on maximizing profit but on maximizing spiritual advancement. That is the varnasrama society described in Vedic literature, a society in which all the occupational groups cooperate to please the Supreme Personality of Godhead. In that society, the cow is not considered a money-making machine but a sacred animal, beloved by Krsna, an entity who softens human passions, elevating humanity to the mode of goodness so it can better hear the message of Krsna.
In Hyderabad, Srila Prabhupada once told a disciple, "We should establish this varnasrama-dharma in America. The varnasrama is centered on the cow."
Varnasrama is based not on the concept bigger is better but on the concept whatever pleases Krsna is better. In varnasrama, the cow and bull are treasured family members, and the government protects farmers so they can in turn protect the cows and create a peaceful atmosphere for chanting Hare Krsna. The chanting of Hare Krsna removes the bad effects of the present sinful age and helps create a spiritual society.
Hare Krsna Devi Dasi, an ISKCON devotee since 1978, is co-editor of the newsletter Hare Krsna Rural Life.
Who Is Worshipable?
By Devamrta Dasa
THE Sri Isopanisad (Mantra 13) declares:
anyad evahuh sambhavad
"It is said that one result is obtained by worshiping the supreme cause of all causes and that another result is obtained by worshiping what is not supreme. All this is heard from the undisturbed authorities, who clearly explained it."
This important verse tells us that in matters of worship, one must exercise discrimination. Since we exercise discrimination even in ordinary affairs, how much more careful should we be in spiritual concerns.
The Isopanisad says that we must first identify the supreme cause of all causes and then worship Him. Worshiping anyone else will yield different results. So it's not "all one," as popular belief might hold. Under the misconception that all is one, multitudes throng to all kinds of temples without seeing any fundamental distinction between them.
The task of identifying the Supreme is made difficult by the diverse family traditions coming down through generations and all manner of so-called gurus and sadhus dishing out their own concocted philosophies. Add to this confusion a mindboggling range of deities, and we have a heady mix potent enough to make the bewilderment of the public complete.
Therefore, proper knowledge coming down through a bona fide disciplic succession of saintly, self-realized souls (dhiras) is necessary. Our worship must be set on the firm foundation of genuine gurus, sadhus, and sastra (scripture).
From that standpoint, let's take a look at the wide variety of temples that abound. Let's begin with those that, although called temples, are not really temples at all, because the "deities" worshiped in them find no mention in the revealed Vedic scriptures. You might be surprised by how many such "temples" there are. One example: in some places one finds images of persons (often supposedly demigods) who are nonexistent or at best of dubious origin. Another example: in some places a powerful and charismatic human being is worshiped. For instance, in Tamil Nadu one finds "temples" where awe-struck admirers reverentially worship the "deity" of a former state chief minister, who was also a famous film star. Also in this category come temples of various persons who, without authoritative evidence, are considered in popular folklore to be saints, powerful mystics, or even God. Clearly, such worship has no spiritual value. It is just a waste of the worshiper's valuable human life.
Then there are "temples" devoted to various otherworldly beings such as nagas (snakes), bhutas (ghosts), pretas (spirits), and so on. Their worship, usually based on local customs, traditions, and superstitions, often involves spooky "possession" by a spirit or such abominable practices as the slaughter of animals (sometimes even humans). From the Bhagavad-gita we can understand that this is worship in tamo-guna, the mode of ignorance, and is therefore to be completely avoided by those who wish to rise to the spiritual platform, beyond the three modes of material nature.
Next we have the many temples dedicated to the major gods and goddesses, such as Siva, Ganesa, and Durga, in their multifarious forms. While the worship of demigods (devatas) is within the house of the Vedas, so to speak, Lord Krsna does not recommend such worship. Why? Because the devatas are not the Supreme. Any benefits they grant their worshipers are actually bestowed by the Supreme Lord, Sri Krsna, alone. The demigods are empowered representatives of the Supreme Lord entrusted with the administration of the universe. The power to discharge their functions comes from Sri Krsna. He is the fountainhead of all there is, including the demigods and the great sages, as He declares in Bhagavad-gita.
Apart from being Krsna's authorized representatives, the demigods are great devotees of the Lord. So one should respect them and never offend them. Yet the devotees of Lord Krsna know that the respect offered the demigods is due to their connection to Him. Devotees of Krsna do not see the demigods as independently worshipable.
The conclusion, therefore, is that since Lord Krsna is the supreme cause of all causes, one should worship Him and become His devotee. The temples of Krsna (or Visnu, His personal expansion) are nondifferent from the eternal spiritual world, and one can derive the greatest benefit of human life by visiting such temples, seeing the Lord's beautiful form with devotion, partaking of His prasadam (food offered to Him), and hearing and chanting His holy names and glories in the association of His devotees.
Devamrta Dasa, a disciple of His Holiness Radhanatha Swami, holds master's degrees in finance and electrical engineering. He heads the thanatology department at the Bhaktivedanta Hospital at Mira Road, Mumbai. (Thanatology is the scientific study of death.)
The sage feels transcendental pleasure in the gradual advancement of spiritual culture, whereas the man in materialistic activities, being asleep to self-realization, dreams of varieties of sense pleasure, feeling sometimes happy and sometimes distressed in his sleeping condition. The introspective man is always indifferent to materialistic happiness and distress. He goes on with his self-realization activities undisturbed by material reactions.
His Divine Grace A.C. Bhaktivedanta Swami Prabhupada
I do not pray for heavenly pleasure. I do not even aspire for liberation. Simply let the nectar of Lord Krsna's transcendental pastimes flood my ears, day after day.
All sins are destroyed and all good fortune is created by the Supreme Lord's qualities, activities, and appearances, and words that describe them animate, beautify, and purify the world. On the other hand, words bereft of His glories are like the decorations on a corpse.
The Supreme Lord cannot be obtained by one who is qualified by being a great lecturer, a great scholar, or a great student of the Vedic literature. The Lord reveals His own form to one with whom He is pleased.
Katha Upanisad 1.2.23
The Lord is very satisfied with His devotee when the devotee greets other people with tolerance, mercy, friendship, and equality.
O Krsna, those who continuously hear, chant, and repeat Your transcendental activities, or take pleasure in others' doing so, certainly see Your lotus feet, which alone can stop the repetition of birth and death.
Srimati Kunti Devi dasi
What is unattainable for one who has satisfied the Supreme Personality of Godhead, the shelter of the goddess of fortune? Even so, those who are dedicated to His devotional service never want anything from Him.
Srila Sukadeva Gosvami
Contributors of Vedic Thoughts for this issue: Ramesvara Dasa (Nava Jiyada Nrsimha Ksetra, Germany), Sudarsana Ramanuja Dasa (Mumbai), Gour Govinda Dasa (Honolulu), Bhakti Vikasa Swami (Baroda, India), Kadrudhanayu Devi Dasi (Wroclaw, Poland)
Praise for the Glory of India
THE SECRET OF SUCCESS in spiritual life lies in satisfying the desires of the bona fide spiritual master. The spiritual master is understood to be the representative of Krsna. So when the spiritual master is satisfied, so is Krsna Himself.
A pure devotee of Lord Krsna, His Divine Grace A.C. Bhaktivedanta Swami Prabhupada, the founder-acarya of ISKCON, desired that there be a great center for presenting the authentic Vedic knowledge and culture in New Delhi. And he desired that the Deity of Lord Krsna be established in New Delhi in an opulent temple, to preside there as the Supreme Personality of Godhead and bestow His blessings upon all.
Now these desires have been splendidly fulfilled, even more so because the temple and cultural center have been inaugurated, with a message of great appreciation, by the Prime Minister of India, Sri Atal Bihari Vajpayee.
It is a pleasure for me to congratulate the devotees, supporters, and friends who have worked together to create this wonderful offering for the glory of India and the glory of the Supreme Lord.
In particular, it is a pleasure for me to congratulate my godbrother His Holiness Gopala Krsna Goswami, who devotedly served as Krsna's instrument to bring everyone together and pull the whole thing off.
Over the years, I have seen Gopala Krsna Maharaja working so hard on this project, gathering together the people, the plans, the resources, struggling over obstacles, determined to see it happen. And I used to jokingly remark, "Maharaja, if you can really bring this off, Krsna will take you back to Godhead for sure."
The remark was a joke in this sense: It's not that simply because one accomplishes something—even something extraordinary—one is guaranteed a ticket to the kingdom of God. Maharaja and I both knew that.
The real truth is that one who is absorbed in working to please the spiritual master and Krsna is already in the kingdom of God. The scriptures confirm, "One who fully devotes himself to the service of Krsna, wholeheartedly dedicating body, mind and words, is a liberated soul, even in this material world."
Lord Krsna lives eternally in the spiritual world, and those who constantly devote themselves to the service of Krsna, and the service of His servants, live with Him forever, in both this life and the next.
In the Bhagavad-gita, therefore, Lord Krsna urges us to put all else aside and simply devote ourselves to serving Him. I am grateful and proud to be serving in a society of devotees like Gopala Krsna Maharaja, who have so sincerely taken this message to heart. Blessed by Lord Krsna and by Srila Prabhupada, they have done wonders. For among all the glories of India, and all the glories of the world, nothing is more glorious than pure devotional service to the Lord.