Some commentators have opined that the Bhagavad- gita is an allegory. For example, the "Kurukshetra" mentioned in the first verse, they say, is a symbol for the body.
But His Divine Grace A.C. Bhaktivedanta Swami Prabhupada, the founder of the Hare Krsna movement, spoke out strongly against such opinions. If you make the Gita an allegory, he taught, Lord Krsna's words lose their absolute authority, allowing you to conclude that when Krsna says, "Surrender unto Me," perhaps He (or whatever He represents) means something else.
While arguing against speculative interpretations of the Gita, Srila Prabhupada would often point out that Kurukshetra does in fact exist. And our photo story this issue takes you there.
For fully self-realized souls, Lord Krsna is not a symbol or an idea, but the unlimitedly attractive Supreme Person, visible in their hearts at every moment. Srila Prabhupada was one such soul who walked among us. In the article "Srila Prabhupada's Equal Vision" in this issue, you can read about Srila Prabhupada in action, defending Lord Krsna and His enlightening teachings.
If you're new to Back to Godhead or Krsna consciousness, our Glossary on page 15 should help you get oriented.
• To help all people discern reality from illusion, spirit from matter, the eternal from the temporary.
Please allow me to compliment you on your beautiful and inspiration- giving magazine. I have a couple of questions: (1) Three world religions, namely Christianity, Judaism, and Islam, say that God created the world in six days. What does this mean? Is there an explanation to be found in the Vedic scriptures? (2) Why do Krsna's avataras always appear on Indian soil?
OUR REPLY: The complexity of the Vedic descriptions of creation and the time spans involved would suggest that the six-day creation is a simpler explanation for people in general. The idea of a six-day creation naturally raises questions. For example, what "days" are we talking about? The Vedas say that on the heavenly planets one day is equal to our six months. And if we were to use Lord Brahma's days (he is the empowered creator), each one would be 4.3 billion years long. So, even assuming the creation took six days, if those were God's days the creation would have taken a very long time from our perspective.
As for Lord Krsna's avataras always choosing India, the Vedas say that Bharatavarsa (India) is a pious land favored by the Lord. Krsna is a person, so by favoring a particular place when He descends, He's simply displaying His prerogative.
Thank you for your well-presented research article "Advanced Astronomy in the Ancient Vedas" in BTG Nov/Dec 1997 showing how the ancient Vedic text Srimad-Bhagavatam seems to give an accurate map of the planetary orbits known to modern astronomy.
Towards the end of the article Sadaputa Dasa summarizes by saying, "It would seem that Bhumandala can be interpreted as a realistic map of the solar system, showing how the planets move relative to the earth."
Although he seems to show convincingly that the Bhagavatam corroborates modern astronomy, he seems to bring up an even bigger inconsistency. Modern astronomy seems to show that there are many suns and many similar disk-shaped solar systems observable through our telescopes, all contained within this same universe. That seems to be at odds with the Bhagavatam presentation, which says that the plane of Bhumandala, our solar system, extends out to the edge of a self-contained brahmanda, or a universe enclosed by a thick shell of elements surrounding only one sun.
Maha Visnu Swami
SADAPUTA DASA REPLIES: We can see that the Bhagavatam is describing the solar system. Even if we ignore my analysis in the "Advanced Astronomy" article, we can make the simple observation that 4 billion miles is a reasonable figure for the size of the solar system, but it is utterly insignificant compared with the distance to the nearest star, according to modern astronomy.
We should be realistic and recognize that the Bhagavatam is describing the solar system, not the universe of stars and galaxies. The point of my article is that the Bhagavatam is describing the solar system very accurately.
The Bhagavatam mentions stars, but they do not fit into the solar system map I discussed in the "Advanced Astronomy" article. I did not discuss stars in the article, so let me make a few observations about them here:
First of all, the Bhagavatam places the stars within the shell of the brahmanda. This means they must be closer to us than about 2 billion miles. According to modern astronomy, the nearest star is about 4 light-years away. This comes to about 23 trillion miles, or 11,500 times the distance to the shell of the brahmanda. Most stars are much farther away than this. Clearly, the Bhagavatam differs from modern astronomy regarding the distances to stars. Taken literally, the Bhagavatam does not give us a good map of the stars in three-dimensional space.
So, how are we to understand this?
One option is to suppose that the Bhagavatam is not giving literal distances to stars. But in that case, how is the Bhagavatam treating stars? To answer this, I must introduce some background material.
Consider, first of all, the 28 naksatras, said in Srimad-Bhagavatam (5.22.11) to be 200,000 yojanas (eight miles/yojana) above the moon. There is a large literature on the 28 naksatras. They are generally called "lunar mansions" in English, since they mark the daily positions of the moon as it completes its orbit. It takes the moon about 27.3 days to complete one orbit relative to the stars. The naksatras serve as a system of markers, like hour markings on a clock, that can be used to measure time using the motion of the moon. The naksatra intervals are associated with star constellations, and one can see what naksatra the moon is in by observing the stars near the moon.
In this application, the distances to the naksatra stars in 3D space are not important. What is important is that the naksatras form a backdrop in 2D against which the motion of the moon can be measured. Therefore, it is significant that the naksatras are placed in the layer just above the moon in Bhagavatam 5.22.11. This is like placing the plate with hour markings just behind the hands of a clock. I propose that this is how the Bhagavatam is presenting the naksatras.
In medieval Western astronomy, the signs of the zodiac and their corresponding stars were treated as marks on the surface of a universal shell (the sphere of fixed stars). They served as a set of reference markers for measuring the movements of the moon and planets (especially in astrology). The Bhagavatam places the naksatras on a plate rather than on the shell, but it uses the naksatras in essentially the same way medieval Western astronomy used the signs of the zodiac. Of course, the Bhagavatam also mentions the signs (called rasis).
Apart from the 28 naksatras, the Bhagavatam mentions the Seven Rsis (the Big Dipper), Dhruvaloka (Polaris), and the stars making up the Sisumara constellation. These stars are also treated in the Bhagavatam as markers indicating the passage of time. The Sisumara is like a great clock—an essentially two-dimensional construct. The Sisumara's three-dimensional structure is not described. All we have are statements giving the heights of the Seven Rsis and Dhruvaloka as, respectively, 20,800,000 miles and 31,200,000 miles above Bhumandala—less than the distance between Mercury and the sun. There is no mention of the modern astronomical finding that stars vary in distance from the earth by many light years. There is no mention that the Milky Way (Akasa Ganga) is a vast disk of stars with a diameter of about 100,000 light years. There is also no mention of many galaxies like the Milky Way distributed over millions of light years of outer space. Do we wish to deny all these things? The Bhagavatam certainly does not refer to them.
I therefore argue that the Bhagavatam is giving an excellent description of the solar system, in the spirit of the ancient and medieval systems. But like them, it is not describing the universe of stars and galaxies. It is treating stars in an essentially 2D fashion.
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Founded in 1966 by His Divine Grace A.C. Bhaktivedanta Swami Prabhupada, the International Society for Krishna Consciousness (ISKCON) carries on in the modern world a great ancient tradition rooted in the Bhagavad-gita, the teachings Lord Krsna spoke five milleniums ago. The Gita and the other Vedic scriptures declare Krsna to be the original person, God Himself, who appears periodically in this world to liberate all living beings.
Only five hundred years ago, Krsna descended as Sri Caitanya Mahaprabhu to teach the most sublime and effective means of meditation for the present day: the chanting of the names of God, especially as found in the Hare Krsna mantra.
Today members of ISKCON continue Lord Caitanya's movement by distributing the teachings of Lord Krsna and the Hare Krsna mantra all over the world.
We spell Sanskrit words and names by a phonetic system that lets you know how to say each word. Pronounce short a like the u in but, long a like the a in far (and held twice as long as the short a). Pronounce e like the a in evade, long i like the i in pique. Pronounce the vowel r like the ri in rim, and c like the ch in chair. Pronounce consonants like ch, jh, and dh as in staunch-heart, hedge-hog, and red-hot. Pronounce s and s like sh. So for Krsna say KRISHNA, for Caitanya say CHAITANYA.
Members of the International Society for Krishna Consciousness receive names of Lord Krsna or His great devotees, combined with Dasa (Dasi for women), meaning "servant." For instance, the name Krsna Dasa means "servant of Krsna."
We can never be fully satisfied even with unrivaled material pleasures.
A lecture given in London on August 8, 1973
by His Divine Grace A.C. Bhaktivedanta Swami Prabhupada
na hi prapasyami mamapanudyad
"I can find no means to drive away this grief which is drying up my senses. I will not be able to dispel it if even if I win a prosperous, unrivaled kingdom on the earth with sovereignty like the demigods in heaven."—Bhagavad-gita 2.8
THIS IS THE position of material existence. We are sometimes in difficulty. Not sometimes—we are always in difficulty. But we say "sometimes" because we make some attempt to get over the difficulty and that is taken as happiness. Actually there is no happiness in material existence. But sometimes we hope, "By this attempt I shall become happy."
That is how the so-called scientists are dreaming: "In the future we shall have no death." So many of them are dreaming in that way. But sane persons say, "Trust no future, however pleasant." That is the actual position.
Therefore Arjuna has approached Krsna. Sisyas te 'ham: "Now I am Your sisya, Your disciple."
"Why you have come to Me?"
"Because I know that no one else can save me from this dangerous position."
This is real sense.
The Supreme Happiness
Yac chokam ucchosanam indriyanam. Ucchosanam means "dried up." When we are put into great difficulty, the situation dries up our senses. Then no sense enjoyment can make us happy. Ucchosanam indriyanam. Here in the material world, happiness means sense gratification. But actually that is not happiness. Real happiness is described in the Bhagavad-gita: sukham atyantikam yat tad. ... atindriyam. Real happiness—atyantikam—the supreme happiness, is not enjoyed by the senses. Atindriya means "surpassing or transcendental to the senses." That is real happiness. But we have taken happiness as sense enjoyment.
By sense enjoyment no one can become happy, because we are in material existence and our senses are false senses. Real senses are spiritual senses. So we have to awaken our spiritual consciousness. Then by spiritual senses we can enjoy.
Our material senses cover our real senses. I'm not this body; I'm spirit soul. But this body covers my real body, the spiritual body. The spiritual body has spiritual senses. Not that we are nirakara, formless. Why nirakara? When my hand is covered by some cloth, the cloth also gets the shape of a hand. Because I have a hand, the cloth has a hand. Because I have legs, my pants have legs. Similarly, the material body has form because the spiritual body has form.
It is common sense. From where has the body come? The Bhagavad-gita describes the body as vasamsi, a garment. A garment is cut according to the body, not that the body is made according to the garment. My body—this garment—has hands and legs; therefore originally, spiritually, I have hands and legs. Otherwise, how has the body developed?
Originally we are all persons. Krsna says, "These soldiers, these kings, you and I, My dear Arjuna, it is not that we did not exist in the past. Neither is it that in the future we shall cease to exist. I, you, and all these kings and soldiers who have assembled here existed before. As we are existing now as individual persons, we existed in the past as individual persons. And in the future we shall exist as individual persons." So where is the question of impersonality?
The principle given in this verse is that to understand things in reality one has to approach Krsna as Arjuna approached Him. Sisyas te 'ham: "Now I am Your disciple; just teach me." Sadhi mam prapannam: "I am surrendering. I am not trying to talk with You on an equal level."
To take a guru means that whatever the guru says you have to accept. Don't take a guru just to be fashionable. You must be ready. That is called prapannam, "surrender."
Tad viddhi pranipatena. You can understand spiritual truth simply by surrendering. You should not try to test the guru: "I shall test him to see how much he knows." Then what is the use of approaching the guru? Therefore Arjuna says, "Besides You, no one can satisfy me in this perplexed condition." Yac chokam ucchosanam indriyanam: "My senses are drying up."
Arjuna is referring to the superficial senses, not the actual senses. The real senses are within. Hrsikena hrsikesa-sevanam: We have to serve Krsna, Hrsikesa, with our senses. Krsna is real, and we have to come to the position or reality of serving Him. Tat paratvena nirmalam. When our senses are purified, we can serve Him.
Ways of Gaining Knowledge
Indriyani parany ahur indriyebhyah param manah, manasas tu paro buddhir. These are different stages—sensual, mental, intellectual, and so on. The bodily concept of life is on the sensual stage. When you transcend the bodily senses, you come to the mental platform. When you transcend the mental platform, you come to the intellectual platform. When you transcend the intellectual platform, you come to the spiritual platform, where there is spiritual form.
There are different grades and steps. On the gross bodily platform we demand pratyaksa-jnana, knowledge through direct perception. Pratyaksa means "direct perception." There are different stages of knowledge: pratyaksa, paroksa, aparoksa, adhoksaja, and aprakrta. Knowledge acquired on the bodily platform, through direct perception, is not real knowledge. Therefore, we can challenge the so-called scientists. Their basic principle of knowledge is in the bodily concept of life, pratyaksa, experimental knowledge. Experimental knowledge is on the stage of gross sense perception. Everyone says, "We do not see God." But God is not a subject you can see with pratyaksa, direct perception.
In this room we do not see the sun directly, but we know there is sun outside. It is daytime. How do we know? Because there are other ways by which we can experience it. That process of knowledge is called aparoksa.
Krsna consciousness is adhoksaja and aprakrta—knowledge beyond the senses. How can we perceive what is beyond our direct perception? Through the process called srota-pantha, or sruti—taking knowledge from the Vedas. And the Vedic knowledge is explained by the guru. Therefore one has to take shelter of Krsna as the supreme guru or of Krsna's representative. Then all one's troubles, arising out of ignorance, can be dissipated.
In this verse Arjuna is replying to something Krsna might say to him: "Go on fighting. And when you get the kingdom, you'll be happy. There is no need of accepting Me as guru."
Ordinary men think, "I am earning so much money. What is the use of accepting a guru? I can understand everything in my own way."
Another rascal says, "Yes, yata mata tata patha. Any opinion is all right. You can make your own opinion."
That is going on: You can make your own opinion to understand God. So foolish rascals are making their own opinions. But getting knowledge is not possible in that way.
Arjuna says: avapya bhumav asapat-nam rddham: "Even if I win a prosperous, unrivaled kingdom on earth ..." Sapatni means "rival wife, co-wife." In the material world, if a man has more than one wife there is rivalry. One wife is snatching him: "Come to my room." Another wife is snatching: "Come to my room." So he's perplexed. Similarly we have these wives—the senses. The eyes are dragging: "Please come to the cinema." The tongue is dragging: "Please come to the restaurant." The hand is dragging somewhere else. The leg is dragging somewhere else. Our position is like that.
In the analogy, the man with different wives is being dragged to different rooms. Why? Because the wives are rivals. But here Arjuna is speaking of an unrivaled kingdom. If there are many kings to claim one's property, there is difficulty. But Arjuna says, avapya bhumav asapatnam rddham: "Even if I get a kingdom and riches for which there is no other claimant, I won't be able to dispel my grief."
Arjuna speaks not only of a kingdom of this world but also of a kingdom of the higher planetary systems. Men are now trying to go to the moon. That is also a kingdom, which belongs to higher living entities known as demigods. They are very powerful. The demigod Indra, for example, is the powerful controller of the rains. He wields the thunderbolt.
People do not believe this, but we believe what is described in the Vedic literature. Not "believe"—this is fact. From where is the thunderbolt coming? Who is arranging for the rain? There must be some director. Just as there are so many departmental managers in the state government, there must be many directors in God's government. These directors are called demigods.
The demigods supply us by the order of Krsna. Therefore there are sacrifices for satisfying the different demigods. Indra supplies us rain. Krsna once stopped the Indra yajna, the sacrifice to Indra. When Krsna's father, Nanda Maharaja, was arranging for the yajna, Krsna said, "My dear father, there is no need of an Indra yajna."
Krsna was showing that for anyone who is Krsna conscious there is no need of any yajna. Especially in this age, Kali-yuga, it is very difficult to perform different kinds of yajna. That was possible in the Treta-yuga, millions of years ago. Krte yad dhyayato visnum tretayam yajato makhaih. Makhaih means to perform yajna. In this age no one follows the directions for performing yajna. That is not possible in this age. Therefore the scriptural injunction is yajnaih sankirtanair prayair yajanti hi sumedhasah: "Instead of bothering with so many other things, people with good brain substance should perform sankirtana-yajna, the chanting of the holy names of the Lord."
These are the statements in the scripture:
Krsna-varnam tvisakrsnam. Here in this temple we have the Deity of Lord Caitanya. He is Krsna Himself, but His complexion is akrsna, "not blackish." Tvisa means "by complexion." Akrsna: "yellowish." Sangopangastra-parsadam. And He's accompanied by His associates: Nityananda Prabhu, Advaita Prabhu, Srivasa, and other devotees.
Caitanya Mahaprabhu is the worshipable Deity in this age. Krsna-varnam tvisakrsna. So what is the process of worship? Yajnaih sankirtanair prayair yajanti hi sumedhasah. The sankirtana-yajna as we are performing it before Lord Caitanya, Nityananda, and others is the perfect performance of yajna in this age. Therefore it is becoming successful. This is the only prescribed yajna. There are so many yajnas, and sometimes Indian people perform so-called yajnas. They collect some money, that's all. Their yajnas cannot be successful because at present there are no yajnic brahmanas.
The yajnic brahmanas used to test the pronunciation of Vedic mantras for the sacrifice. The test was that an animal would be put into the fire and if the mantras were chanted correctly the animal would come out of the fire with a fresh young body. But where are such brahmanas in this age? Therefore no yajna is recommended. This is the only yajna: chant the Hare Krsna mantra and dance in ecstasy.
Rajyam suranam api cadhipatyam. Formerly there were many demons who conquered over the kingdom of the demigods. The demon Hiranyakasipu spread his authority even over the kingdom of Indra.
Indrari-vyakulam lokam mrdayanti yuge yuge. Indrari means "the enemy of Indra." Indra is the king of the heavenly planets, and the demons are his enemies. We also have many enemies. Because we are chanting the Hare Krsna mantra, there are so many critics and enemies. They do not like us. There are always demons, but now the number has increased. Formerly, there were some. Now there are many. Indrari-vyakulam lokam. When the demonic population increases, then vyakulam lokam: people become perplexed. Mrdayanti yuge yuge: at that time Krsna comes.
Ete camsa-kalah pumsah krsnas tu bhagavan svayam. Srimad-Bhagavatam lists the names of the incarnations of Krsna, or God. After mentioning all the names, the Bhagavatam says, "All the incarnations listed herewith are partial representations of Krsna. But Krsna is the original Personality of Godhead." Krsnas tu bhagavan svayam. And when people are too harassed by the onslaught of the demons, He comes.
The Bhagavad-gita confirms what Srimad-Bhagavatam says. Krsna says:
yada yada hi dharmasya
"Whenever and wherever there is a decline in religious practice, O descendant of Bharata, and a predominant rise of irreligion—at that time I descend Myself."
In this age, Kali-yuga, people are so much disturbed; therefore Krsna has come in the form of His name: Hare Krsna. Krsna has come not personally but by His name. But because Krsna is absolute, there is no difference between His name and Himself. Abhinnatvan nama-naminoh. As Krsna is full, complete, similarly Krsna's name is also full, complete. Suddha: It is not a material thing. Nityah: It is eternal. As Krsna is eternal, His name is also eternal. Purnah suddhah nitya-muktah. There is no material conception in chanting the Hare Krsna mantra. Abhinnatvan nama-naminoh: "The holy name and the Lord are abhinna, identical."
Rajyam suranam api cadhipatyam. So even if we get the kingdom of the demigods—asapatnam, without any rival—still we cannot be happy as long as we have the material conception of life. It is not possible. That is explained in this verse.
Thank you very much.
The Power of Initiation
By Satsvarupa Dasa Goswami
WHENEVER I READ about Narada Muni in the Srimad-Bhagavatam, I am reminded of the power of initiation into Krsna conscious life. Narada was only five when his spiritual masters came to spend the rainy season at his mother's inn. They stayed four months, and after they left, he never saw them again. While they were there, he was able to serve them, hear from them, and accept initiation from them. Srila Prabhupada writes, "There was a tangible change in his life, although he was only a boy of five years." His encounter with these sages was so brief that we are left to wonder what it was they gave him that produced such a lasting change.
The sages imparted vijnana, realized knowledge of their Krsna conscious teachings. This is the real gift the spiritual master gives a disciple at initiation. Anyone can read the scriptures to gain knowledge, and chanting is so easy that anyone can do that too. But only the spiritual master can provide both knowledge and the service exchange by which realization of the knowledge becomes possible. Realization implies that we live what we have learned. Thus we see that when someone accepts initiation in Krsna consciousness, his life changes.
It becomes obvious by Narada's behavior that he internalized his gift of realized knowledge. His story reminds me of Srila Prabhupada's experience when he met his spiritual master for the first time. "Such a nice saintly person I have met. Now I know that Lord Caitanya's mission is in expert hands." Although it was some years before Prabhupada actually accepted initiation, he at once desired to serve his spiritual master's mission. For Srila Prabhupada, meeting his guru didn't seem to cause sweeping changes in the externals of his life—he didn't suddenly give up his family or reject his business—but his internal life changed in a significant way. He later told us that after that meeting, the spiritual training his father had given him now became solidified by his guru.
For those born in the West, the changes we experience are usually more obvious. We give up illicit sex, intoxication, meat-eating, and gambling. We begin to chant the holy name. We come to accept a beautiful bluish boy as the Absolute Truth. How could any of that be possible for those born in this culture? It's a sign we have been given a gift of realization.
Another piece of realized knowledge we come to understand almost miraculously when we accept a spiritual master is that we are not the body but eternal servants of Krsna. This realization grows in depth as our willingness to serve guru and Krsna increases.
Sometimes people assume that initiation is external, something done to join an institution. When initiation is approached with the proper motives, however, there is nothing external about it. The significance of initiation goes far beyond institutional status, and those who take initiation only to achieve such status are inevitably disappointed. By taking true shelter of a spiritual master, we develop the strength and discipline to open ourselves to a Krsna conscious inner life. The real heart of the initiation relationship is the disciple's desire to become a devotee of Krsna and the spiritual master's willingness to help the disciple achieve that goal.
Initiation is based on faith. The support of an initiated devotee's life is his or her relationship with other devotees and with the vows he or she has accepted—that is, the relationship with chanting Hare Krsna and with living a clean, Krsna conscious life. Hearing from scripture is also essential. To understand these practices as necessary aspects of the guru-disciple relationship is important, because initiation is only the beginning. By continued service to the spiritual master, we are prodded into an ever-deepening understanding of Krsna and our relationship with Him. This prodding does not depend on the guru's physical presence, but on the service attitude toward the spiritual master in the disciple's heart. Narada spent only four months out of his entire life with his spiritual masters, and Srila Prabhupada met his spiritual master only a dozen times, but both were great, empowered devotees. Our success may be smaller, but it is of the same nature. By entering into a committed relationship with the spiritual master, we can attain Krsna.
Satsvarupa Dasa Goswami is the author of many books, including a six-volume biography of Srila Prabhupada.
By Yamuna Devi
BACK TO GODHEAD'S first cooking column was penned by author and photographer Visakha Devi Dasi. Seasoned with wit and wisdom, her columns consistently served us with food for spiritual thought and practice. When she stopped writing the column, I was asked to take over. Now, seven years later, this column is my last.
From the beginning I felt unqualified to write the column. Though at the time I had been teaching spiritual cooking for years, had written national magazine articles and two cookbooks, and was a special food writer for the Washington Post, I viewed these qualifications as insignificant for this task. Back to Godhead is Srila Prabhupada's magazine—dedicated to uplifting and spiritualizing humanity—and to write for it requires different acumen. From the onset I turned to prayer, and have kept doing so.
My columns assumed a mainly cooking-class format, following sequential topics in the class textbook, Lord Krishna's Cuisine. Along with culinary principles of how, where, when, and why, I offered some detailed instructions I learned while serving as Srila Prabhupada's cook. I wanted newcomers to learn essential cooking techniques and take those techniques on a journey exploring devotional cooking. I wanted expert cooks to improve the purity and quality of everything related to cooking.
Now that the cooking course has reached the end of Lord Krishna's Cuisine, I've decided to stop writing the column and devote my energy to other projects I'm involved in for serving Srila Prabhupada.
If you cooked through the entire class series—job well done! Accept my congratulations along with a mentally sent Completion of Class certificate. By now you are attached to the means and the end, and are likely sharing the process with others.
Now your postgraduate homework: Vow that for the rest of your life, as far as possible, everyone you meet will receive at least a taste of Krsna-prasadam. And do your part to help inundate every town and village with Krsna-prasadam and the holy name.
Final Topic: Beverages
Water is the universal beverage of choice—no liquid quenches thirst and aids digestion quite like it. Ayur-veda warns against drinking ice-cold water or other beverages; they're too shocking to the fire of digestion. Hot water or herbal tea after a meal helps with digestion. Water or tea sipped before and during a meal should be tepid or cool.
The class textbook has thirty-four beverage recipes, divided into three categories: Fruit Juices and Syrups, Chilled Dairy Drinks, and Warming Drinks. Most are a snap to make, so you won't need much time or effort to work through them.
For the letters I've received with exciting stories of revelation and appreciation, a heartfelt thank you. And for now, a farewell to all my readers. Thank you for the honor of sharing time with you in Krsna consciousness.
Yamuna Devi is the author of the award-winning cookbooks Lord Krishna's Cuisine: The Art of Indian Vegetarian Cooking and Yamuna's Table. She is a regular contributor to The Washington Post and Vegetarian Times.
Herbal tea is popular as a refreshment or for its medicinal value. This recipe is for one of my favorite sipping teas, good for most constitutions and at any time of the day.
2 cups water
Bring the water to a boil and add the fennel seeds and ginger. Reduce the heat to low, cover, and simmer 4-5 minutes. Strain into a warmed cup and sweeten with honey. Offer to Krsna.
Meditation—While Watching Children?
By Urmila Devi Dasi
IT'S 5:20 IN THE MORNING. For twenty minutes I've been chanting the maha-mantra on my beads: Hare Krsna, Hare Krsna, Krsna Krsna, Hare Hare/ Hare Rama, Hare Rama, Rama Rama, Hare Hare. A group of children aged five through twelve had been sitting around me in a circle, also chanting. Forty minutes remain for my personal mantra meditation.
I lean over and unlock a wooden cabinet with my left hand.
"Hare Krsna, Hare Krsna ..."
Please, Lord, let me realize that You are fully present in Your holy name. Let me try to hear Your name—without my mind wandering—for at least a minute.
"... Rama Rama, Hare Hare."
Jahnu, my grandson, sees the cabinet open and shuffles over in his funny, awkward run. From out of the cabinet, Arjuna and Nimai grab the pictures of Krsna they've been coloring.
"... Krsna Krsna, Hare Hare ..."
Lord, let me be Your servant.
Balarama walks over to get the picture of Lord Visnu he's been coloring (so far, in one solid color), speaking to Cintamani in his jumbled English-Spanish with intensity. I close my eyes.
"... Hare Hare ..."
Jahnu has sat down by the markers with his picture of demons taunting the saint Prahlada. I open my eyes. For each marker he opens, I have to make sure he closes the lid tightly and puts the marker back. This I do with my left hand around his tiny palms. I am trying to teach him how to do this himself, as I did with Balarama two years ago.
My right hand continues to go from bead to bead.
"Hare Krsna, Hare Krsna, Krsna Krsna ..."
Please remove my envy so I can serve You nicely. Help me to fix my mind on the sound.
"... Rama Rama ..."
Lalita Madhava and Sitarani are throwing markers instead of coloring, distracting some of the adults who surround us, chanting with an intense desire for purification and love of God. I must not let the children disturb them. If I can get the girls' attention and then slightly shake my head "No" while bending my eyebrows, I can continue to hear—pray to deeply hear—the Lord's names.
For years I wondered whether caring for children during much of my chanting time would greatly impede my spiritual progress. Finally I understood: If we serve Lord Krsna's devotees, Krsna is more pleased than when we just serve Him directly.
With an awkward tilt like a wooden puppet on strings, Jahnu now runs across the room to Subhadra, who has a bag of stuffed-animal toys. No longer having to help him close pens, I chance shutting my eyes and hope for a long, uninterrupted time to hear.
"... Hare Hare; Hare Krsna ..."
Unfortunately, in my inner playground my mind jumps down slides, and swings into the sky. I think about what I need to do today. I think about how this morning's chanting session would be a good inspiration for this column.
No—away flickering thoughts! Just hear.
"... Rama Rama, Hare Hare."
Arjuna and Nimai are fighting because Nimai started to color Arjuna's picture. They've had enough of coloring and are now taking copies of Srila Prabhupada's books and looking at the pictures. Both can read, and Arjuna can read well enough to understand most of what's in the book in his hand. Still, right now they just look at pictures, one book after another. Balarama also stops coloring and gets his own book. He's now old enough to know not to put the book on his feet or the floor.
"... Krsna Krsna ..."
The sound of Your holy name is so sweet. When will I become fully absorbed, fully meditating on the sound of Your name?
"Hare Krsna, Hare Krsna ..."
Now Jahnu has toddled back to the cabinet. On the way, he has babbled to several of the adults in the temple room, smiling, and nodding his blond curls. Following with her pull-hands/drag-legs crawl, Subhadra also approaches the cabinet. We must watch her closely; if she takes the tops off the markers, she will put the ink into her mouth. She may also crumble the other children's pictures.
This time, Jahnu points to a book. We get out a children's version of the story of Krsna killing Aghasura. There's a color picture on every page. The book goes on top of a mat so as not to be on the floor, and I turn the pages with my left hand while Jahnu and Subhadra look, enthralled.
"... Krsna, Krsna ..."
Krsna is so beautiful. Someday may I enter into His pastimes.
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.
Mercy in the Factories
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.
Srila Prabhupada's Blessings
I was distributing books in a factory and had just signed up one hundred workers to each take a set of books (fifteen books in each set). When I went to see the director for payment, he sent me to the chief accountant, but she refused to give me the money, saying she had nothing in the treasury.
A few days later was the anniversary of Srila Prabhupada passing, so we had a big festival at the temple. I thought that to really get the mercy of Srila Prabhupada I should go to the factory and see the chief accountant to get the payment so that the workers could get Srila Prabhupada's books.
When I got to the factory, the chief accountant told me there was no chance of my getting the money that day because it was Friday; I should come back on Monday. But I knew that day was special, and I really wanted to please Srila Prabhupada. So I sat down in her office, pulled out a picture of Srila Prabhupada, placed it on the table, and began to pray intensely to Srila Prabhupada.
After a while all attention turned to me. The chief accountant was quite concerned and asked me what was wrong.
"Today is the anniversary of the departure of my grandfather," I told her. "I'm praying to him to help me."
She left her office and came back with a paper in her hand—a release for the money for the books.
"You'll get the money today," she said. "I promise."
By now it was late in the afternoon, and the bank was closing in twenty minutes. We ran to her car and sped off to the bank. When we returned to the factory, she was concerned that the workers hadn't gotten their books. It was already too late for me to pick up the books from the temple and make it back before the workers went home. So she made an announcement over the intercom:
"All workers who were to receive books must go to the Hare Krsna temple tonight and collect them."
When I returned to the temple later, I was amazed to see a long line of people entering and walking out with boxes of books. The temple was full of workers from the factory. They all received the mercy of Srila Prabhupada.
—Jagadisa Dasa, CIS
In Lithuania, Nityananda Rama Dasa went to sell sets of books at a factory where the director was feared by all the employees. The director was like a gangster and would beat people and throw them out of the company. When Nityananda Rama came in with the books, the workers told him not to go anywhere near the director. But Nityananda Rama wasn't deterred. He went in, showed the director the books, and fearlessly preached to him with determination.
The man looked at the books and read a little. He appreciated that Nityananda Rama was taking time to explain the books and talk to him. As the saying goes, "It's lonely at the top." No one would ever talk with him, so he was lonely.
The director called all the department heads to his office and told them, "Everyone is going to buy a set of these books."
No one dared say no. The director let Nityananda Rama go through the company selling books, with his recommendation.
Nityananda Rama collected many signatures authorizing payment, and a few days later he returned to deliver the books. The director had assembled all the workers and department heads in a large hall. He then gave a speech.
"Today is a very important day, because you all have the chance to get these wonderful books. You may ask yourself why I'm doing this, since you all know I've been an atheist all my life. But since I've met this interesting person and read these books, I'm convinced there's something more than just material life. And I want God—up there—to know that I, Valdimier Zuchenkof, have given His books to the workers of my factory."
Everyone applauded, and he started handing out the books.
—Navina Nirada Dasa
Navina Nirada Dasa heads ISKCON's book-distribution ministry and travels worldwide to train and inspire book distributors.
Kurukshetra—The Land of Dharma
War and pious deeds have often come
By Lokanath Swami
KURUKSHETRA, about one hundred miles north of New Delhi, is best known as the place where the great battle of the Mahabharata was fought and Lord Krsna spoke the Bhagavad-gita. But long before that, Kurukshetra had played a dominant role in the history and culture of ancient India. For thousands of years it was a hub around which the Vedic civilization spun in its full glory. Kurukshetra's religious importance is described in many scriptures, including the Bhagavad-gita, the Mahabharata, and various Upanisads and Puranas. The scriptures refer to it as a place of meditation and an abode of demigods. The atmosphere of Kurukshetra is still charged with the chanting of Vedic hymns, especially the Bhagavad-gita.
The first verse of the Gita refers to Kurukshetra as dharma-ksetra, or "the field of dharma," indicating that it was already known as a holy place. Today one can find many ancient temples and sacred lakes at Kurukshetra, an area of about one hundred square miles between the sacred rivers Sarasvati and Drsadvati in Haryana state.
The Great King Kuru
Kurukshetra was formerly known as Brahmaksetra, Brghuksetra, Aryavarta, and Samanta Pancaka. It became known as Kurukshetra because of the work of King Kuru.
The Mahabharata tells of how King Kuru, a prominent ancestor of the Pandavas, made the land a great center of spiritual culture. King Kuru went there on a golden chariot and used the chariot's gold to make a plow. He then borrowed Lord Siva's bull and Yamaraja's buffalo and started plowing. When Indra arrived and asked Kuru what he was doing, Kuru replied that he was preparing the land for growing the eight religious virtues: truth, yoga, kindness, purity, charity, forgiveness, austerity, and celibacy.
Indra asked the king to request a boon. Kuru asked that the land ever remain a holy place named after himself, and that anyone dying there go to heaven regardless of his sins or virtues. Indra laughed at the requests.
Undaunted, Kuru performed great penance and continued to plow. Gradually, Indra was won over, but other demigods expressed doubts. They said that death without sacrifice did not merit a place in heaven. Finally, Kuru and Indra arrived at a compromise: Indra would admit into heaven anyone who died there while fighting or performing penance. So Kurukshetra became both a battlefield and a land of piety.
The Mahabharata Battle
When the Pandavas claimed their legitimate share of their paternal kingdom from their uncle Dhrtarastra and his sons, the Kauravas, they were given the Khandava Forest in the south of the Kuru kingdom. There they built a magnificent city called Indraprastha, located where Delhi is today. The Kauravas kept Hastinapura, situated to the northeast of Delhi, as their capital.
Later, the Pandavas were exiled for thirteen years after Yudhisthira's defeat in a game of dice. After the exile, the Pandavas demanded the return of their kingdom. On behalf of the Pandavas, Lord Krsna went to Duryodhana, the eldest Kaurava, and begged for five villages for the five Pandavas. But proud Duryodhana refused to give any land. "I won't even give them enough land to fit on the tip of a pin," he said.
The war was therefore unavoidable, and the Kauravas and Pandavas decided to fight at Kurukshetra, because it was large, uninhabited, and abundant with water and fuel-wood.
The Pandavas won the Battle of Kurukshetra, which lasted only eighteen days.
The Birth of the Gita
The Battle of Kurukshetra began on the day known as Moksada Ekadasi. (Ekadasi is the eleventh day of either the waxing or waning moon, and moksada means "giver of liberation.") On that day, Krsna enlightened Arjuna with the knowledge of Bhagavad-gita, liberating him. Now every year on that day—considered the birthday of Bhagavad-gita—festivals in honor of the Gita are held at Kurukshetra and many other places in India. The grand festival in Jyotisar, the spot where the Gita was spoken, is organized as a state function, with chief ministers and governors presiding. Coincidentally, this is also the time of ISKCON's annual Prabhupada Book Marathon, when devotees distribute hundreds and thousands of copies of Srila Prabhupada's Bhagavad-gita As It Is in India and around the world.
Rathayatra's Kurukshetra Roots
Once, when Krsna was preparing to go to Kurukshetra at the time of a solar eclipse, He invited the gopis (cowherd girls) and other residents of Vrndavana to meet Him at Kurukshetra. When He had left Vrndavana in His youth, He had promised to return very soon. But He had been away for a long time (about a hundred years), so out of intense spiritual love, the residents of Vrndavana had always felt ecstatic longing to see Him again.
The residents of Dvaraka (a majestic city) arrived at Kurukshetra on chariots; the residents of Vrndavana (a simple cowherd village), on ox carts. Because the families of Vrndavana and Dvaraka were related, a joyful reunion took place.
Of all the residents of Vrndavana, the leading gopi, Srimati Radharani, had felt the pangs of separation from Krsna more than anyone else. She and the other gopis were determined to bring Krsna back to Vrndavana. The loving exchange between Krsna and the gopis at Kurukshetra is the esoteric meaning behind the festival known as Rathayatra ("Festival of the Chariots"). So whenever Hare Krsna devotees put on Rathayatras in cities around the world, they are proclaiming the glories of Kurukshetra.
Lokanath Swami is the director of ISKCON Padayatras ("walking festivals") worldwide and ISKCON's minister for social development information.
SUMATI MORARJI [see "Departures," page 32], who in 1965 gave Srila Prabhupada free passage to America on her steamship Jaladuta, remembered meeting Srila Prabhupada at Kurukshetra for the first time during the 1950s. Srila Prabhupada was sitting under a tree, chanting on beads. Sensing that he was a distinguished sadhu, Sumati Morarji approached him. She was impressed with his humility and devotion, and she mentioned this when Srila Prabhupada went to see her in Bombay to ask her help in getting to America.
In October 1970, Srila Prabhupada was traveling to Amritsar by train with a group of disciples. As the train arrived in Kurukshetra station, he said, "Just here, Lord Krsna spoke Bhagavad-gita five thousand years ago. People say that it does not exist, that it's a mythological place, a symbol of the field of the body and the senses. They say it is an allegorical place. But here we are at the Kurukshetra station."
As he spoke, the sun was setting, and a bright orange sky shone over the flat land.
"How can they say Kurukshetra is not a real place?" he continued. "Here it is before us, and it has been a historical place for a long, long time."
On December 1, 1975, Srila Prabhupada went to Kurukshetra with several disciples. Before returning to Delhi, he decided to visit a less developed area of Kurukshetra called Jyotisar, the actual place where Lord Krsna had spoken the Bhagavad-gita. Srila Prabhupada walked about and thoroughly inspected the area. After ten minutes he asked the devotees what they thought of it. Everyone expressed enthusiasm about the place, which they sensed as spiritually vibrant. A deep, timeless wisdom and serenity seemed to permeate the atmosphere. Srila Prabhupada told the devotees that ISKCON should build a temple of Krsna and Arjuna there.
In 1996, the Srila Prabhupada Centennial year, devotees made a special effort to obtain a parcel of land in Jyotisar. By the grace of Krsna and Arjuna they succeeded in acquiring six acres, just a hundred yards away from the spot where the Bhagavad-gita was spoken. In April 1998, the governor of Haryana presided over the ceremony dedicating the ground for the temple. At present, ISKCON runs a small temple in Thaneswar, a couple of miles from Brahma Sarovar. The devotees are planning, designing, and raising funds for the complex that Srila Prabhupada wanted in Jyotisar.
Also during the Srila Prabhupada Centennial year, a prominent square in the town of Kurukshetra was named after Srila Prabhupada: Bhaktivedanta Swami Chouk [Square].
Kurukshetra's Holy Sites
The Vamana Purana says that nine sacred rivers and seven sacred forests exist in the region.
The beds of all the rivers except the Sarasvati are difficult to find at Kurukshetra. But the Sarasvati flows during the rainy season, and its bed is visible at other times.
At Jyotisar, Lord Krsna spoke the Gita, the spot marked by a marble chariot under a banyan tree. The tree is said to be more than five thousand years old, making it the oldest witness to Lord Krsna's immortal conversation with Arjuna. Jyotisar is on the bank of the Sarasvati, about five miles from the town of Kurukshetra.
Lord Brahma is said to have created the earth here. During solar eclipses hundreds of thousands of pilgrims come to take a holy dip in Brahma Sarovar, observing an ancient tradition. The beautiful Brahma Sarovar is larger than the other lakes in the area and is well maintained by the Kurukshetra Development Board. It has become the center of interest for pilgrims coming to Kurukshetra.
On the northern banks of Brahma Sarovar sits a Radha-Krsna temple of the Gaudiya Math, the institution founded by Srila Bhaktisiddhanta Sarasvati Thakura, the spiritual master of His Divine Grace A.C. Bhaktivedanta Swami Prabhupada. The Gaudiya Math temple was built to commemorate the reunion between Radha and Krsna that took place at Kurukshetra five thousand years ago.
Kurukshetra is known as Samanta Pancaka ("five lakes") because here Lord Parasurama, an incarnation of Lord Krsna, made five lakes from the blood of ksatriyas he killed. (Lord Parasurama purged the earth of wicked kings and warriors twenty-one times.) Srila Prabhupada said that the blood later turned into water.
One of the lakes is called Sannihit ("assembly"). On the new-moon day all the holy places personified are said to assemble in the lake. At the time of a solar eclipse, pilgrims are first led to Sannihit Lake, known as an abode of Lord Visnu.
Ban Ganga, or Bhishma Kund, is a holy place about three miles from Kurukshetra. During the Battle of Kurukshetra, Bhismadeva, the grand-uncle of the Pandavas, lay here on his deathbed, made of arrows piercing his body. When he asked Arjuna to quench his thirst, Arjuna knew that the great Bhisma did not thirst for water of this world. So Arjuna pierced the earth with an arrow, and Ganges water gushed out like a fountain. Bhisma drank the holy water and thanked Arjuna for his great deed. Bhisma then instructed Yudhisthira on the path of dharma.
Pilgrims to Ban Ganga can worship a Deity of Lord Krsna in His universal form and a 26-foot-high deity of Hanuman.
This is a small village a couple of miles from Brahma Sarovar. Here Arjuna also brought forth the Ganges by shooting an arrow into the ground, this time to provide drinking water for his chariot horses during his single combat with Jayadratha.
Karnavadha is a long trench where the wheels of Karna's chariot were stuck before Arjuna killed him.
Parasara Muni, the father of Srila Vyasadeva, had his asrama here, about twenty-five miles south of the town of Thaneswar. Duryodhana hid in the lake here after running away from battle at the end of the Mahabharata war. He came out of the water when the Pandavas challenged him to fight.
Pehowa, seventeen miles west of Thaneswar, was formerly known as Prithudak, "the pool of Prthu." King Prthu, an incarnation of Lord Krsna's ruling potency, performed last rites for his father here. Hundreds of pilgrims visit Pehowa every day to offer oblations to their ancestors.
At Chakravyuha, eight kilometers south of Thaneswar, the general Dronacarya organized his army in the shape of a discus (cakra). It is also where Abhimanyu, the son of Arjuna and Subhadra, was killed.
At Dadhichi Tirtha, on the bank of the Sarasvati, the sage Dadhici had his asrama long ago. The Srimad-Bhagavatam relates that Indra once asked Dadhici to give his bones to be made into a weapon for fighting the demons. Dadhici complied with the request and gave up his life.
How to Get There
Kurukshetra, located in the state of Haryana, is a four-hour train ride from Delhi. There are also direct trains from Mumbai, Agra, Baroda, Chandigarh, and Simla.
Kurukshetra has several inexpensive or free guest houses (dharmshalas). The rooms are generally clean and are adequate if you don't mind roughing it a little. Otherwise, the best hotel in town is the centrally located Neelkanthi Krishna Dham Yatri Niwas. In Jyotisar, try the secluded Canal Guest House.
(This information comes from Holy Places and Temples of India, by Jada Bharata Dasa, available through The Hare Krsna Catalog.)
Bhima fights Jarasandha
The tyrant Jarasandha accepts a challenge from
Translated from Sanskrit by Hridayananda Dasa Goswami
The sage Vaisampayana is telling the history of the Pandavas to their great-grandson, King Janamejaya. As the narration continues, Krsna and the Pandavas Bhima and Arjuna have challenged the evil king Jarasandha to a fight. The defeat of Jarasandha, who holds many kings hostage, will entitle Yudhisthira to perform the Rajasuya sacrifice and become world emperor. Now Jarasandha responds to the challenge. [Abridged from the original translation.]
KING JARASANDHA, eager to fight with his foes of awesome deeds, then authorized the coronation of his son Sahadeva. Now that the fight had come, O best of the Bharatas, the king remembered the two leaders of his armies, Kausika and Citrasena, who were known in this world by the names Hamsa and Dibhaka, names that in the past had been celebrated in human society and honored by the world.
O king, Jarasandha was the best of the strong and as courageous as a tiger, and his prowess was awesome in the world. Lord Krsna, Balarama's infallible younger brother, remembered that [by Lord Brahma's order] to kill Jarasandha was another's ordained lot. True to His word, Lord Krsna, the maintainer of the world, respected the order of Brahma and so did not wish to kill Jarasandha personally.
Thereupon the eloquent and infallible Lord Krsna, the joy of the Yadu dynasty, said to King Jarasandha, who had made up his mind to fight, "Of the three of us, O king, whom are you inclined to fight? Which of us should prepare himself for battle?"
O king, when Krsna had addressed him thus, Jarasandha, the splendid ruler of Magadha, chose to fight with Bhimasena. The royal priest, bearing the finest medicines, painkillers, and restoratives, waited upon Jarasandha, who was eager for battle. A renowned brahmana performed all the auspicious rituals for Jarasandha, who was ever devoted to the warrior's path. After fastening his full armor, Jarasandha took off his crown and carefully combed his hair. He then rose up like the ocean overflowing its shores.
The astute king Jarasandha said to Bhima, of awesome feats, "Bhima, I will fight with you. It is good for you to be defeated by a superior."
Having thus spoken to Bhimasena, the mighty Jarasandha, tamer of foes, went toward his foe like the Asura Bali confronting Indra. Then, having taken counsel with Krsna, mighty Bhimasena, blessed with auspicious rites and eager to fight, approached Jarasandha.
The Fight Begins
Those two tigers of men met in battle, using their bare arms as weapons. Heroic and supremely excited, each yearned to conquer the other. As the two struck each other's arms and seized, stretched, and held each other, there was a ferocious din like thunderbolts striking mountains. Both men were euphoric in battle and fought with extraordinary strength. Hungry for victory, they each sought an opening to win an advantage over the other.
That contest of the two mighty warriors was like the duel between Vrtra and Indra. Indeed, so fierce was the fighting, O king, that it drove away the crowd that had gathered near. As each combatant pushed and pulled his foe, striking his opponent's chest with an open hand, dragging and tearing, the two struggled intensely and slammed each other with their knees. They rebuked each other with mighty voices and belted each other with blows that landed like crashing stones. Broad-chested and expert in battle, the two foes joined in close combat, their long arms falling on each other like iron bludgeons.
The battle began on the first day of the month of Karttika and continued, day and night, without rest. For thirteen full days those mighty souls battled on, but on the fourteenth night the king of Magadha felt exhausted and stopped.
Your majesty, when Sri Krsna saw that the king was exhausted, He addressed Bhima to alert him fully: "O son of Kunti, it is not proper to harass an exhausted enemy in battle. Certainly if he is fully harassed, he could give up his life. Therefore, Kaunteya, you must not harass the monarch. Fight him with your arms, O best of the Bharatas."
From these words of Lord Krsna's, the son of Pandu, killer of hostile heroes, understood that Jarasandha was vulnerable and made up his mind to kill him. Thereupon, to conquer the unconquered one, Bhima let his fury rise and seized Jarasandha.
Jarasandha Torn Apart
Eager to slay Jarasandha and using his ample intelligence, Bhimasena said to Krsna, the joy of the Yadus, "Krsna, it is inappropriate for me to pamper this sinner and spare his life."
Thus addressed, Sri Krsna, eager to see Jarasandha slain, replied to Bhima in a tigerlike mood to hurry him: "Your supreme strength comes from the gods, Bhima, so show at once on Jarasandha the power the wind-god has given you!"
The mighty Bhima, tamer of foes, then hoisted powerful Jarasandha and whirled him around, O king. After spinning him around a hundred times, O best of the Bharatas, Bhima hurled Jarasandha down and with his bare arms broke his back. Bhima then trampled him and let out a roar. As the Pandava roared and Jarasandha cried out while being trampled, a tumultuous sound went forth, terrifying all living things. The cries of Jarasandha and Bhima struck all the citizens of Magadha with fear, and women had miscarriages. "Can it be that the Himalayan peaks are ripping apart? Is the earth shattering?" Thus the people of Magadha wondered on hearing Bhimasena's roar.
Bhima had seized his enemy by the feet and hurled him to the ground. Then, pressing down one of Jarasandha's legs with his foot and grabbing the other in his arms, Bhima, like a great elephant ripping apart a branch, tore Jarasandha apart from his anus, and the people saw the two bodily fragments, each with one leg, thigh, testicle, hip, breast, back, and nostril, along with one arm, eye, eyebrow, and ear.*
*Jarasandha had been born in two parts, which were then joined by a witch named Jara. Krsna hinted to Bhima that Jarasandha was vulnerable to being split apart.
That night Krsna, Bhima, and Arjuna, those tamers of foes, discarded the lifeless king, who seemed to be asleep, at the gate of the main road leading to the royal palace, and then they departed. Lord Krsna arranged for the yoking of Jarasandha's chariot, which was adorned with flags and ensign, and after bringing on board His two cousin-brothers, Bhima and Arjuna, He set free His relatives—kings who had been imprisoned by Jarasandha. Those liberated lords of the earth then approached Sri Krsna and bestowed riches upon Him, who is worthy of riches, for the Lord had freed those kings from great fear.
The Great Chariot
Then Krsna, uninjured, equipped with weapons, victorious over the enemy, and mounting His celestial chariot, left with the kings the capital of Girivraja, with its circle of mountains and green pastures. With Lord Krsna at the reins and His two warrior brothers on board that fabulous war chariot, so carefully crafted for killing, everyone could now clearly see that even all the kings of the world could not conquer it. Indeed, bearing the two warriors Bhima and Arjuna, and with Lord Krsna holding the reins, that chariot shone with beauty, and all the world's archers could not conquer it. It was on this chariot that Indra and Visnu had ridden in the battle for Taraka, the wife of Brhaspati, and now Lord Krsna, having mounted it, made ready to depart.
Upon that triumphant and deadly car, bright like molten gold, thundering like a cloud, and adorned with circlets of bells, Indra had once slain nine times ninety demons, and now those best of men, having won it, rejoiced. Thereupon, the Magadha people became astonished to see mighty-armed Krsna standing on the chariot with His two cousin-brothers. When Lord Krsna stood upon that chariot yoked with divine horses and as swift as the wind, it shone with utmost beauty. On this excellent chariot the Lord arranged for a beautiful free-flying flag to be raised that was visible for eight miles. Indeed, it shone as bright as a rainbow stretched across the sky like the rain-god's bow.
Sri Krsna thought of Garuda, and so he came. At that very moment [by the presence of Garuda on the chariot's flag] the chariot stood tall like a great temple pillar. Garuda, devourer of serpents, stood on that excellent chariot with other creatures, who rested on the flag with wide-open mouths roaring great sounds. Garuda shone with such distinctly superior prowess that it was difficult for ordinary creatures to gaze upon him, blazing as he was like the midday sun basking in its thousands of rays. O king, that divine and excellent banner, seen by gods and humans alike, did not get entangled in trees, nor could weapons damage it. Standing firm on the divine car, which resounded like a rain cloud, the infallible, tigerlike Krsna departed with the two Pandavas.
The celebrated and mighty-armed Lord Krsna, whose eyes are as delicate as lotus petals, then departed Girivraja, but He stopped outside the city on a plain. There, O king, all the citizens reverently approached Him, with the brahmanas in the lead, and they behaved in accord with the sacred rules. So also did the kings freed from bondage worship Lord Madhusudana, Krsna, gently speaking these words: "O mighty-armed one, O son of Devaki, it is not surprising that You, together with Bhima and Arjuna, have carefully protected the principles of religion. Today You have lifted up all the kings who had sunk into the miserable mud of the horrible lake of Jarasandha. O Visnu, O Supreme Person, thanks to Providence You have freed us kings who were languishing in that dreadful mountain fort, and thus You have achieved shining fame. O tiger among men, O most noble one, tell us what deed we can do for You, even if difficult, for we kings must know this."
The great-minded Lord Krsna, master of the senses, then encouraged the kings with these words: "Yudhisthira wishes to perform the Rajasuya rite. He is always dedicated to justice, and now he wishes to establish his sovereignty. All of you should help him with his sacrificial performance." At this, O noble Bharata, the kings were delighted, and all of them happily agreed and promised, "So shall it be!"
Those lords of the earth then presented Lord Krsna with riches, and out of compassion for the kings, the Lord reluctantly accepted their gifts. And even the son of Jarasandha, the mighty chariot warrior Sahadeva, came out with his people and ministers in a procession headed by priests. Becoming meek and humble, he also presented many valuable gifts and then stood near Lord Vasudeva, Krsna, the God of mankind. O noble Arya, as Jarasandha's son Sahadeva stood fearfully before Him, Lord Krsna granted him full assurance of safety and right there anointed him king of Magadha. Having allied himself with Lord Krsna and having been honored by the two sons of Prtha, the wise king entered the city of his father and grandfather. Then lotus-eyed Krsna, glowing with supreme opulence, took the varieties of riches and departed with Prtha's two sons.
Return to Indraprastha
After arriving in the city of Indraprastha, the infallible Lord and the two sons of Pandu approached Dharmaraja Yudhisthira, and the Lord addressed him with pleasure: "By good fortune, Bhima has brought down powerful Jarasandha, and the kings have been freed from bondage, most noble monarch. And also by good fortune these two virtuous men, Bhimasena and Dhananjaya Arjuna, have come back to their city uninjured, O Bharata."
Yudhisthira fittingly honored Krsna and then joyfully embraced Bhimasena and Arjuna. His two brothers having destroyed Jarasandha and achieved victory, King Yudhisthira, known as Ajatasatru, or "one who has no enemy," sat with them and rejoiced. Yudhisthira also met with the freed kings in order of seniority, and having shown them hospitality and honor, he granted them their leave. With Yudhisthira's permission those kings departed at once and with great joy traveled to their own countries on their many vehicles.
Thus the vastly wise Lord Janardana, Krsna, slew the enemy Jarasandha with the Pandavas' help. Having slain Jarasandha with the use of intelligence, Lord Krsna, tamer of the enemy, took His leave from Dharmaraja Yudhisthira, Kunti, and Draupadi, and also from Subhadra, Bhimasena, Arjuna, and the twins, Nakula and Sahadeva. Then, O noble Bharata, Yudhisthira and the other Pandavas respectfully circumambulated Lord Krsna of indefatigable deeds. After begging permission from the priest Dhaumya, Krsna departed toward His city on that very best of chariots, which was as radiant as the newly risen sun and which was a gift from the king of justice, Yudhisthira. With that celestial car He made the world resound in all directions.
Their power vastly increased by their great victory and their rescue of the kings, the Pandavas inspired the greatest love and pleasure in Draupadi. King Yudhisthira, celebrated for his protection of the realm, then did all that was proper for the goodness, pleasure, and prosperity of the world, and he did all this in terms of sacred law.
Hridayananda Dasa Goswami, who holds a Ph.D. in Indology from Harvard University, occasionally teaches at the Graduate Theological Union in Berkeley, California, and has been a visiting lecturer at the University of California at Los Angeles.
The Characters in this Episode
Asura—an enemy of the demigods
Bali—a leader of the Asuras who became a great devotee of Lord Krsna
Brahma—the first created being in the universe
Brhaspati—the spiritual master of the demigods
Draupadi—the wife of the five Pandavas
Garuda—the divine eagle who carries Lord Visnu
Indra—the king of the heavenly planets
The Pandavas—Though the name Pandava means "son of Pandu," the five Pandavas were sired by demigods—the three eldest Pandavas (Yudhisthira, Bhima, and Arjuna) in the womb of King Pandu's wife Kunti, and the youngest (the twins, Nakula and Sahadeva) in the womb of Pandu's wife Madri. The Pandavas are sometimes called "Bharata" or "best of the Bharatas," because they come in the dynasty of King Bharata.
Subhadra—Lord Krsna's sister
Vrtra—a powerful demon once defeated by Indra (Vrtra was in fact a devotee cursed to be a demon for one lifetime.)
The worldwide activities of the International Society for Krishna consciousness (ISKCON)
The Bhaktivedanta Archives released its upgraded version of the Bhaktivedanta VedaBase in August, on Janmastami, Lord Krsna's appearance day. The new version, available for Windows 95/98/NT only, has many new features, including a section containing biographical works on Srila Prabhupada by disciples and many other books. For more information, see The Hare Krsna Catalog on page 63.
India's television series "Abhay Charan" is currently filming in New York City. The first twenty-six episodes, covering Srila Prabhupada's life in India before he traveled to America, have aired on the Doordarshan national television network. The series, now off the air, will resume when a year's worth of shows have been produced. Originally shot in Hindi, the series is being dubbed in English, Dutch, French, Tamil, German, Spanish, and Italian for sale on video-cassettes.
ISKCON Detroit held its annual Rathayatra ("Chariot Festival") in August on Belle Isle, an island park in the Detroit River. Michigan gubernatorial candidate Geoffrey Fieger campaigned at the festival and accepted a packet of Krsna-prasadam. The day before the festival, the Detroit Free Press ran a front-page article, with three color photos, announcing the festival and discussing the Hare Krsna movement.
The 1998 National Geographic Garden Book highlighted New Vrindavan's Palace Rose Garden, at Prabhupada's Palace of Gold. For the seventh straight year, the garden won an All-American Rose Selections Award for outstanding rose gardens.
The first in-depth documentary on the Hare Krsna movement in nearly twenty years is now available from ISKCON Television (ITV). Three years in the making, "The New Hare Krishna World" comes on two 60-minute video-cassettes. (Available from the Hare Krsna Catalog, page 63.)
Janmastami marked the twenty-fifth anniversary of Srila Prabhupada's installation of Sri Sri Radha-Gokulananda, the Radha-Krsna Deities at Bhaktivedanta Manor, ISKCON's center outside London.
Rain and mud failed to keep devotees from distributing—or festival-goers from trudging to receive—ten thousand plates of prasadam last June at the annual Glastonbury, England, music festival. Devotees also braved sometimes knee-deep mud to chant Hare Krsna throughout the festival grounds.
Eleven thousand young people attended a Hare Krsna concert at the ISKCON site during Poland's annual "Woodstock" festival, held in August. The Hare Krsna site included twenty-seven tents—the main one the size of a football field. Ten thousand people a day received plates of Krsna-prasadam.
The North European branch of the Bhaktivedanta Book Trust (BBT) reports the following English-language books now in production: Srila Prabhupada-lilamrta (complete in two volumes), Srimad-Bhagavatam (complete in three volumes), Sri Caitanya-caritamrta (complete in two volumes), and Brhad-Bhagavatamrta (translation in progress, including commentaries by Vaisnava acaryas).
The North European BBT publishes books in forty-five languages.
Commonwealth of Independent States
The chief minister of New Delhi visited ISKCON's temple in Moscow last July. The chief minister, Sri Sahib Singh Verma, delivered a short speech, during which he stressed the importance of spreading the message of the Bhagavad-gita in Russia. He encouraged devotees to build a Vedic temple in Moscow and have millions of Moscovites chanting Hare Krsna.
Twenty-five hundred devotees from the CIS gathered at ISKCON's temple in Sukharevo, outside Moscow, in July for a week of lectures, seminars, kirtanas, and fellowship.
Summer Rathayatras: Moscow and Novosibirsk, Russia, in June; Odessa, Ukraine, in July.
Back to Godhead associate editor Drutakarma Dasa (Michael A. Cremo) will present a paper at the Fourth World Archeological Congress, to be held in January at the University of Cape Town, South Africa. His paper is titled "Forbidden Archeology of the Early and Middle Pleistocene: Evidence for Physiologically and Culturally Advanced Humans." Drutakarma Dasa co-authored, with Sadaputa Dasa (Richard L. Thompson), Forbidden Archeology, which challenges modern evolutionary theory by citing suppressed or ignored archeological evidence of the antiquity of modern man.
Devotees are halfway through a 1,700-mile Padayatra ("walking festival") from Buenos Aires, Argentina, to Sao Paulo, Brazil. They started early this year and are walking with an ox-powered Deity cart that serves as a bookstall, lecture stage, and conveyance for items used to put on Hare Krsna festivals at the many stops along the way.
SUMATI MORARJI, the former director of the Scindia steamship line who provided Srila Prabhupada free passage to America in 1965, passed away last July in Mumbai. Srila Prabhupada wrote regularly to Mrs. Morarji, especially while starting his mission in the West, keeping her informed of his activities. She assisted him in various ways over the years, and Srila Prabhupada often expressed his appreciation for her help. The millions of souls who have benefited from Srila Prabhupada's arrival in the West are indebted to her for her generous act of helping him come to America. Her example shows that any service to a great devotee can bring inestimable good results.
Children of Krishna, Inc.
"Helping Hare Krsna Youth Help Themselves"
Alachua, Florida, U.S.A.
Anuttama Dasa, Badrinarayana Dasa, Dhira Govinda Dasa, Jahnavi Devi Dasi, Krsna Avatara Dasa, Manu Dasa, Sanatana Dasa (Four directors are from ISKCON's second generation.)
Children of Krishna, Inc., supports, furthers, and protects the educational, economic, emotional, and spiritual development of the children of the Hare Krsna movement.
Children of Krishna aims to help the leaders of ISKCON achieve the following:
a) Create a loving environment for our children and protect them from harm;
b) Provide our students a first-class, well-rounded education through trained professional teachers and exceptional schools;
c) Give our young adults the transitional training and support they need to become productive and happy members of society.
Children of Krishna, Inc., was formed in 1996 during the annual meeting of ISKCON's North American leaders. CKI assists young men and women who grew up in the Hare Krsna movement by providing grants and loans for continuing education and for personal and occupational development. Grants have supported internships, counseling, reunions, university tuitions, youth publications, and the purchase of computer equipment for ISKCON-affiliated schools. Thanks to the generous contributions of ISKCON members and friends, CKI has given out more than $30,000 to young devotees.
How You Can Help
Children of Krishna links young people in need with adults willing and able to help. If you know any young devotees who could use assistance, tell them about CKI, or phone CKI at the number below.
Children of Krishna operates solely on contributions. To make a pledge or contribution, contact:
Managing Director, CKI
P. O. Box 2458
Alachua, Florida 32616, U.S.A.
Phone: (904) 462-1081
He wanted the whole world to know Krsna.
By Giriraja Swami
UPON THE invitation of the Gita Bhavan ("Gita Center"), in December 1970 Srila Prabhupada and a party of disciples traveled to Indore, in the Indian state of Madhya Pradesh, to take part in the week-long celebration of the anniversary of the day on which Lord Krsna spoke the Bhagavad-gita. Most of the other speakers were Mayavadi impersonalists, who did not preach Bhagavad-gita as it is or present Krsna as He is.
In Indore many gentlemen would come to meet Srila Prabhupada in his room, usually with their own ideas of spiritual life. Srila Prabhupada complained, "They come to the guru with their own opinions to see if the guru will agree. If the guru agrees, he is very good. But if the guru disagrees, they think, 'He is not good.' "
One argument between Prabhupada and some guests was especially instructive. On the previous night, Prabhupada had delivered a lecture at the Gita Samiti ["Society"] Hall and was appalled to find there was no picture of Krsna. The next day Prabhupada raised the issue with his guests to make the point that people don't properly understand and present Bhagavad-gita and its speaker, Lord Krsna. Prabhupada said that his mission was to present Bhagavad-gita properly—as it is—and to expose those who do not.
Srila Prabhupada: A bona fide spiritual master is one who carries out the order of higher authorities. We are carrying out the order of Caitanya Mahaprabhu, or Krsna. Krsna taught Bhagavad-gita, and He stated, "Anyone who preaches the confidential message of Bhagavad-gita is very dear to Me."
Guest (1): We believe in an incorporeal God, nirakara.
Srila Prabhupada: Who says "incorporeal"? Who says?
Guest (1): You find it all over India, that incorporeal form, jyotir-linga.
Srila Prabhupada: You are bringing something else besides Bhagavad-gita. Just try to understand. In this International Society for Krishna Consciousness, we are preaching Bhagavad-gita. Jyotir-linga—these theories may be in other literature, but we are particularly interested in preaching Bhagavad-gita. And because the Gita is being preached wrongly all over the world with nonsense commentary, we want to rectify it. Therefore our society is especially named "Krishna Consciousness."
Guest (1): What is wrongly preached about Gita?
Srila Prabhupada: Here is an example: Yesterday I went to that Gita Samiti. There is a lamp. Why is there a lamp instead of Krsna? Krsna is a lamp? Therefore I say it is being wrongly preached. Why is there a lamp? Bhagavad-gita is spoken by Krsna. So why is there no picture of Krsna? That means you have not understood Krsna. Therefore your so-called Gita Society is not bona fide.
Even in ordinary affairs, if there is some political meeting, you keep Gandhi's photo, Nehru's photo, because they are the political leaders. Gita Samiti is preaching Bhagavad-gita, and there is not a single picture of Krsna. This is misguided.
Gita Bhavan has invited me because we are teaching Bhagavad-gita. But they celebrate Gita's jayanti and the speaker of Gita is not present? Therefore I say there are so many places, even here, which are wrongly representing Bhagavad-gita. So our position is to rectify that wrong propaganda.
Guest (2): What is that wrong propaganda?
Srila Prabhupada: There are many examples. In the ninth chapter of the Bhagavad-gita, Lord Krsna says, man-mana bhava mad-bhakto mad-yaji mam namaskuru: "Engage your mind always in thinking of Me, become My devotee, offer obeisances to Me, and worship Me." But one well-known commentator says, "It is not the person Krsna to whom you must surrender." Where does he get this nonsense idea?
Guest (1): No, [an influential impersonalist] also has said that.
Srila Prabhupada: Therefore I say they are all nonsense. They are all nonsense who deviate from the original text of the Bhagavad-gita.
The guests challenged Srila Prabhupada's statement that his presentation of Bhagavad-gita was correct while the presentations of others were not. They said he should see and treat others with "equal vision."
Guest (3): If each person has an individual identity of soul above the body, you must treat everyone as equal.
Srila Prabhupada: They are not equal. There are three gunas, or modes of material nature, and Bhagavad-gita analyzes: "These persons are in sattva-guna [goodness], these persons are in rajo-guna [passion], these persons are in tamo-guna [ignorance]."
Guest (3): That is not the personality of the atma. The atma is everyone's soul. You have the potency to rise and go higher and higher.
Srila Prabhupada: You are not in the atma stage; I am not in the atma stage. You are in the bodily stage.
Still, if you see everyone equally, why do you find fault in me? If you are in the atma stage, you have no argument with me. Panditah sama-darsinah. This is stated in the Bhagavad-gita:
[The humble sages, by virtue of true knowledge, see with equal vision a learned and gentle brahmana, a cow, an elephant, a dog, and a dog-eater (outcaste).]
Guest (4): That is the correct position.
Srila Prabhupada: That is the correct position, but if you find that "Swamiji is not on the standard," that means you are not in the position—sama-darsinah, equal vision.
Guest (4): But what if a person commits a murder?
Srila Prabhupada: In the very high stage of sama-darsinah, there is no distinction between sin and virtue. As soon as you see, "This is virtue and this is sin," it is not sama-darsinah. Here it is said clearly, vidya-vinaya-sampanne brah-mane. A brahmana is learned and vinaya, "very humble"—these are signs of goodness. Suni means "dog." He sees a dog and a learned brahmana the same. Now, the dog is supposed to be sinful, and the learned brahmana is supposed to be virtuous. Therefore in his vision the virtuous and the sinful are the same. That is sama-darsi.
Guest (1): I think they have made many mistakes in writing the slokas [verses].
Srila Prabhupada: Now you are finding faults in Vyasa. Who can talk with you? Please excuse me. Please go out. You are finding fault with Vyasa.
Guest (5): We only want you to be understood here.
Srila Prabhupada [shouting]: I am not sama-darsi. I don't say I am sama-darsi. You say you are sama-darsi.
Guest (2): You should be sama-darsi.
Srila Prabhupada: But I'm not in that stage. I say that because you don't surrender to Krsna, you are sinful. That is my darsana [vision].
Guest (3): You should also be seeing as sama-darsinah.
Srila Prabhupada: No, why shall I? I am not in that position. I am simply repeating the words of Krsna. That is my point. I may be sama-darsi, I may not be sama-darsi. My position is simply to repeat. That's all.
In his books Srila Prabhupada explains that a person on the highest platform does not make distinctions; he sees everyone as being engaged in the service of the Lord. But when one takes the position of guru, he must make distinctions for the sake of instructing and delivering others. Even the best devotee has to act on that platform when he teaches. Although he sees everyone as servant of Krsna, he also sees differences:
keha mane, keha na mane, saba tanra dasa
"Some accept Him, whereas others do not, yet everyone is His servant. One who does not accept Him, however, will be ruined by his sinful activities." (Caitanya-caritamrta, Adi-lila 6.85)
I thought of Srila Prabhupada's strong criticism of people still in the bodily concept of life who try to imitate the highest devotee, the uttama-adhikari. In his purport to Sri Isopanisad, Mantra 6, Prabhupada writes: "The uttama-adhikari knows that there is no difference between a vastly learned brahmana and a dog in the street because both of them are part and parcel of the Lord, although they are embodied differently according to the qualities of material nature. ... Such a learned devotee is not misled by material bodies but is attracted by the spiritual spark within the respective entities. Not considering the respective actions of the brahmana and the dog, the uttama-adhikari tries to do good to both.
"Those who imitate an uttama-adhikari by flaunting a sense of oneness or fellowship but who behave on the bodily platform are actually false philanthropists."
Srila Prabhupada's arguments in this purport to Sri Isopanisad closely parallel his discussion with the gentlemen in Indore.
Because Srila Prabhupada had said his position is simply to repeat, another guest raised the ultimate question.
Guest (6): But every successive teacher has added some interpretations of the knowledge, no?
Guest (5): You are the successor of somebody.
Srila Prabhupada: Yes.
Guest (3): Then what is your contribution? That is what we are asking. What is your sama-darsi? Have you become sama-darsi?
Guest (6): You are instructing others to be sama-darsi, but are you sama-darsi?
How Srila Prabhupada had to fight for Krsna! Preaching really means fighting, and Prabhupada was always fighting for Krsna. He was a real spiritual warrior.
Srila Prabhupada: My sama-darsi is, Why should only Hindus know Krsna? The whole world should know Krsna. But if you, the Hindus, refuse to know, what can I do?
Srila Prabhupada had answered their challenge: By his practical work he had made Krsna consciousness available to everyone, all over the world. That was his equal vision. And that was his contribution—to his predecessors and to us. Prabhupada had presented Krsna and Bhagavad-gita as it is, and people all over the world were accepting and becoming Krsna's devotees. Now if the guests wanted, they could also follow and benefit.
President Big Pig
Here we conclude an exchange between His Divine Grace A.C. Bhaktivedanta Swami Prabhupada and some of his disciples, which took place in Fiji on May 1, 1976.
Disciple: Well, Srila Prabhupada, that's society's problem. We do vaguely sense, I have a soul—but we don't know, I am a soul. Nearly everything we hear from our cultural and political leaders makes us think, "I'm really just this material body, these cravings." And with our thoughts so degraded, naturally our actions become degraded. But even with all the crime and chaos, these leaders keep pushing their darkness on us as if it were enlightenment.
Srila Prabhupada: That is modern society's defect. Therefore, our Krsna consciousness movement is so essential. People are being misled into accepting ignorance as knowledge.
Take, for example, Darwin's theory: Somehow matter, which is dull and dead, has produced us, who are conscious and living. This is simply speculation based on ignorance. And yet people are accepting it as knowledge.
Or take Freud's sex philosophy: Humanity's problems will end when people learn how to enjoy sex. Even the hogs and dogs know how to enjoy sex. These ideas are the business of the hogs and dogs, and yet people are accepting them as high philosophy. Based on sex, Freud wrote his so-called philosophy.
Is all this really science and philosophy? Find this verse in Bhagavad-gita, thirteenth chapter; one of the phrases is tattva-jnanartha-darsanam.
Disciple: Here it is, Srila Prabhupada. Adhyatma-jnana-nityatvam tattva-jnanartha-darsanam/ etaj jnanam iti proktam ajnanam yad ato 'nyatha. The Lord says, "Accepting the importance of self-realization, philosophical search for the Absolute Truth—this I declare to be knowledge. And besides this, whatever there may be is ignorance."
And then in your Purport you go on to say, "One should try his best to distribute real knowledge to the people, so that they may become enlightened and leave this material entanglement. ... There are many research scholars and philosophers who study sex life or some other subject, but according to Bhagavad-gita, such research work and philosophical speculation have no value. ... One should make research, by philosophical discretion, into the nature of the soul. One should make research to understand the self. ...
"As far as self-realization is concerned, it is clearly stated here that bhakti-yoga is especially practical. ... One must consider the relationship between the Supersoul and the individual soul. The individual soul and the Supersoul cannot be one. ... One should be humble and know that he is subordinate to the Supreme Lord. Due to rebellion against the Supreme Lord, one becomes subordinate to material nature. One must know and be convinced of this truth."
Srila Prabhupada: Therefore, these rascal leaders are in ajnana, or ignorance—dealing with sex, generally dealing with this material body as the basis for their science and their philosophy. Dealing with the body and dealing with sex are the business of the animals, and yet these rascals are passing as big scientists and philosophers. This is the situation, the whole world over. So how important this Krsna consciousness movement is. Just imagine.
Disciple: All over the world, it's obvious people haven't a clue about the goal of knowledge. They don't know what information they should really be seeking.
Srila Prabhupada: They do not know. And therefore they are animals. What will dogs understand? When there is a lady dog, a dozen male dogs will come and smell the best portion of the body. [Laughter.] This is the dogs' philosophy. So Freud did that—focusing on the best portion of the body, he wrote his philosophy.
Disciple: Books and books.
Srila Prabhupada: Just see. This is Freud's position. What a low taste. Dogs' and pigs' business—and he wrote philosophy about it. Still, his books are selling like anything.
Disciple: In the Purport we've just read, Srila Prabhupada, you seem to say that when someone finally understands that he's not this body but a spirit soul, then at once he can also understand that there must be a Supersoul, sustaining him and deserving his devotional service.
Srila Prabhupada: Yes. That I have already told you. Therefore, it is essential to understand, first, that you are not this material body.
Disciple: So, Prabhupada, let's say someone is totally in material consciousness, thinking he's just this body. Then he can't possibly understand the Supersoul? He can't understand God? This suggests we've got to hear the analogies Krsna gives us in the Gita for seeing the difference between the soul and the body. For instance, the wearer and the garment, the tiller and the field, the operator and the machine.
Srila Prabhupada: Yes.
Disciple: All right. So if we're still thinking we're these bodies, then we can't understand God. Then, Prabhupada, what to make of all these religious organizations that have no clear understanding of the soul? Most religious groups today are, in a roundabout way, promoting the idea that "I am this body."
Srila Prabhupada: Therefore, they're not practicing religion. They're cheating. Their activity is not religion. It is cheating.
Disciple: So they're simply speaking empty words? God this and God that?
Srila Prabhupada: Yes. Actually, today there is no religion. In the name of religion, some farce is going on.
Disciple: That's a fact. As you've noted in the past, it's the Devil citing scripture.
Srila Prabhupada: Yes. These supposedly lofty, supposedly religious persons are eating the slaughtered flesh of God's other creatures. What to speak of religion—these people have no human sense, even. They haven't even the sense to understand, "I am cutting the throats of these poor animals placed under my protection. If somebody were to cut my throat, what excruciating pain I would feel. Yet I'm doing this same thing to these creatures, and then I'm claiming to be very religious, a lover of God? How can I even call myself a human being? I do not even have human compassion."
Today cats and dogs are passing as scientists, philosophers, and religionists. The followers of Darwin and Freud—they're the leaders of society. But they're animals only. Cats and dogs. So how you can expect to receive any benefit from them?
Sva-vid-varahostra-kharaih samstutah purusah pasuh: The leaders are cats and dogs and pigs; still, they are very much worshiped. By whom? Sva-vid-varahostra-kharaih: By lesser dogs and pigs, as well as camels and asses. Suppose some pig is being praised by a band of lesser pigs, dogs, camels, and asses. Naturally, they will praise him by saying things like, "Oh, sir, you are the king." Does that mean he's really a king? He's an animal.
So this is going on. People are electing a big animal as their president. And then, when the big animal begins to devour them, they protest. "Oh! Now he's not a proper president! Get him down! Get him down!"
But why did you choose him in the first place?
"Because we are pigs; we have no other knowledge. Now we have to find another big pig and appoint him as our president."
Everything is explained in the Vedic literature. If you can present all this information properly, it will act very strongly. The voters are sva-vid-varahostra-kharaih—pigs, dogs, camels, and asses. And the president is another animal, simply bigger. That's all. Modern society is simply a polished version of the animal kingdom. A big pig becomes the king of some lesser pigs, dogs, camels, and asses. So what sort of exalted transactions can you expect in such a society?
This is these people's real picture. One who is an actual human being—he's seeing how the animals are enjoying by voting and electing their president: "We are engaged in a very great business. We are electing our president." [Chuckling.] This is going on.
Some day, when you warn these rascal pigs and dogs that their president will surely devour them, they will understand what kind of president they have elected.
But for now, this devouring by the big pig is happening even in the most advanced country, the U.S.A. And what to speak of other, less advanced animal kingdoms. So take these books and preach.
Transcendental Commentary on the Issues of the Day
Swept Away By the Sweeps
by Amala Bhakta Dasa
ENTERING SWEEPSTAKES is a symptom of the gambling mentality—the desire to become extremely wealthy by risking a little money, and always against astronomical odds. People who regularly take part in sweepstakes sometimes become obsessed with them. This is especially true of the elderly, and many businesses purchase "sucker" mailing lists to capitalize on this weakness of seniors.
In the United States many aged persons enter twenty-five to fifty contests a week, some requiring five dollars or more in entry fees to collect the big-money prizes that seem guaranteed. Or they subscribe to numerous magazines (which they never read), thinking that will enhance their chances of winning. Some seniors spend as much as $2,000 a month on sweepstakes and scams, often tricked into believing they're winners.
For example, 88-year-old Richard Lusk of Victorville, California, flew to Tampa, Florida, last January, certain he had won $11 million dollars in the American Family Publishers Sweepstakes. He paid $1,700 for an airline ticket so that he could hand-deliver his "winning" entry to the return address on the letter that stated: "RICHARD LUSK, FINAL RESULTS ARE IN AND THEY'RE OFFICIAL: YOU'RE OUR NEWEST $11 MILLION WINNER." Unfortunately, Lusk failed to notice the small print that said he was a winner only if he had the winning number.
According to Tampa airport officials, twenty people, most of them seniors, have flown there in recent years to collect their so-called fortunes. Most of them had never read the small print that declared the odds against winning the big prize to be 200 million to one.
Why are the elderly so vulnerable?
When we're old, our decaying and decrepit body tells us we're approaching death. Everything we worked and lived for—everything that gave meaning and purpose to our life—will soon be lost. Because we have identified ourselves with our temporary, material body, we are about to be reduced to a big zero. This is frightening, if not overwhelming. Yet in our distorted understanding, money has become synonymous with life, and much money with much life. So winning millions at a sweepstakes would be like winning back our disintegrating life. We could once again become secure, popular, important, admirable, lovable, enviable—and enjoy the illusion of feeling like a lord.
But when we know and experience ourselves as the soul—which is by nature eternal and blissful—and when we develop our relationship with the Supreme Lord, Krsna, in loving devotional service, we don't need the prospect of winning a sweepstakes (or any contest, for that matter) to make us feel alive. In pure Krsna consciousness, our every moment, even when our body is languishing, will be filled with the true thrill of life, as we perceive the Lord's loving presence in His books, His devotees, and in our own hearts. When we have that consciousness, we have everything, for it satisfies us completely.
Y2K: Why to Care, or Millennium Nightmare?
by Kesihanta Dasa
IN THE MID-SEVENTIES when I was in high school, I thought my Mom's self-correcting IBM Selectric typewriter was the ultimate tool for my writing projects. Today I wouldn't think of using anything but a Pentium computer to write this article. Of course, now that I depend on word processors, the word comes out that they may all be crashing on January 1, 2000—along with the power, transportation, food supplies, and utilities we modern-day humans have come to expect.
Everyone agrees that the Year 2000 computer bug—known as "Y2K"—is a problem. The debate rages over how big a problem it will be. When the year 2000 rolls around, some computers and computer chips, restricted by short-sighted, space-saving planners to only two digits to designate the year, will compute that it is now 1900. This will cause a series of miscalculations that some say will freeze bank accounts, stop planes and traffic lights, and silence phones. Others say the problem is restricted to very old computers. Repairs are underway, they say, and experts will foil Y2K before it surfaces.
As there are two mundane sides to the Y2K debate, there are two Krsna conscious positions to consider as well. First, as renounced yogis, why do devotees of Krsna use computers, electricity, and airplanes in the first place? It's because of the principle of yukta-vairagya—practical renunciation—that Srila Prabhupada borrowed from the previous acaryas and used with wonderful success to bring Krsna consciousness west. You can use nearly anything for Krsna if you intend to please Him. For spreading Krsna consciousness, the modern Hare Krsna movement uses all sorts of amenities and services that Y2K could knock out. The mission would be disturbed.
On the other hand, since Prabhupada warned against over dependence on artificial necessities, the Y2K problem could be a blessing in disguise. If indeed the amenities of modern life were unavailable, you and I would be forced to learn to live off the earth. We would either starve or learn to live by using oxen to plow, planting grains and vegetables, and milking cows. We would spin cotton or wool thread for our clothes, find medicinal herbs, and either stay at home or travel only short distances by animal power.
Imagine—a mere computer glitch forcing us to turn our attention to gardening, storing and preserving food, and finding alternative sources of water, clothes, shelter, and other necessities. How the mighty have fallen!
In fact, whether cyber-originated or not, calamities always trouble us in this life. Even if you're born in a comfortable situation, birth is painful, adolescence awkward, old age distressing, and death unavoidable. Over and above problems arising from our own bodies, we also suffer from natural disturbances and the actions of others. You could say that Y2K is a misery imposed on us all by the developers of computer technology.
Whether it's catastrophic or microscopic, a wake-up call or a wash, one thing is for sure: Y2K is yet another good reason to chant Hare Krsna. Why?
In the Bhagavad-gita, Lord Krsna says to tolerate all kinds of adversity. Without a higher, spiritual taste within, how can anyone tolerate external misery? As Lord Caitanya taught, chanting the Lord's names awakens our natural, higher taste. So we can store food, but we must know that chanting and spiritual awakening are always a good precaution—for Y2K or anything else life in the material world may throw our way.
Growing Old Without Viagra
by Ravi Gupta
WE WERE DEPRESSED, and they gave us Prozac. We began losing our hair, and they gave us Rogaine. Now we lose our vigor, and they give us Viagra. Life is a great chemical pill.
Viagra's all over the place—newspaper headlines, the evening news, doctors' offices, medicine cabinets.
A quote from a story in the Idaho Statesman proclaimed, "Doctors nationally have written 120,000 prescriptions for Viagra the first week of its release, [and it] is being touted as the most revolutionary medicine to hit the market since the birth control pill."
Revolutionary for what? Now every man can take the pill to renew his virility. Fifty-, sixty-, seventy-, eighty-year-old men become young once again.
But the Vedic scriptures give us a different perspective. Life is not meant just for revitalizing the body. There is a time for everything, and the Vedas lay this out very clearly.
Srimad-Bhagavatam, the ripened fruit of the Vedic scriptures, divides life into four stages—brahmacarya, grhastha, vanaprastha, and sannyasa—each twenty-five years long.
The first quarter is spent as a student, studying under the guru, or spiritual master. This is a time of celibacy, character building, and intense spiritual training.
After graduating from gurukula—"the house of the guru"—the student may go on to married life, taking the spiritual values he has learned to maintain a God-centered family.
At the age of fifty, the Vedas say, the husband and wife should retire from active family life, leaving their grown children to care for themselves. The couple should focus their lives again on the true purposes of human life and slowly reduce the tie of affection.
In this way, at the age of seventy-five they should completely dedicate themselves to worshiping the Lord and prepare for the final test.
According to the Vedas, the point of life is not to push one's sense gratification to the furthest limits, to find newer and newer means of beautifying, strengthening, and pampering the body—until it finally collapses. Such a life ethic is described in the Bhagavad-gita as demoniac:
"They believe that to gratify the senses is the prime necessity of human civilization. Thus until the end of life their anxiety is immeasurable. They are bound by a network of hundreds of thousands of desires and absorbed in lust and anger."
Srila Prabhupada explains: "The materialists, who have no concept of God, think that they are advancing. They try to enjoy this material world to the utmost limit and therefore always engage in inventing something for sense gratification."
The Gita describes this world as changing and temporary. After all, how long can we keep our hairline intact? How long will the boost of Viagra last?
The real search in life, the Gita says, should be to answer the questions that are truly vital to human life: Who am I? What am I doing here? Why am I suffering? How do I achieve supreme happiness?
Without asking these questions, we are no better than a royal edition of animals.
After all, wouldn't a chimpanzee love to have Viagra?
In the broken remnants of a beautiful relationship,
By Dvarakadhisa Devi Dasi
JONI LIVED IN THE HOUSE across the street. She had long blonde hair and could roller-skate better than anyone in the neighborhood. We spent our childhood together, clattering down the pavement on our steel roller-skates, dragging our dolls and their trappings from one house to the next, racing her four turtles on the back patio. We played long, involved games of make-believe that could continue for weeks. In summer Joni and I luxuriated for endless hours in backyard wading pools. In winter we tramped through the woods surrounding our neighborhood, careful to avoid the haunted house. We constantly plotted to escape our little sisters, and loyally stuck together when the big girls picked on us.
In high school Joni got a bright-orange Mustang convertible. Her blonde hair came from a bottle by this time, but no one knew except me. We shared clothes, double-dated, and got part-time jobs scooping ice cream together. No one in the world knew me better than Joni did. Our friendship seemed so deeply ingrained in the pattern of my life that it never occurred to me it might someday end.
But it ended quickly when we graduated from high school. She got married, I went to college, and the comfortable rhythm of our friendship broke. The backdrop of shared experience disappeared, leaving us struggling to think of polite things to say to each other. When I saw her a few years ago, I didn't even recognize her.
And yet, when I hear the phrase "best friend" I can't help but think of Joni. I think of the time she refused to go to a party I was not invited to. I remember the way I sobbed when her boyfriend dumped her. I remember all the bowls of popcorn we shared in her basement, fueling serious conversations that sorted through the complex issues of our lives. No experience was complete until we discussed it thoroughly, no emotion too burdensome to be shared. The memory of the friendship and the comfort it brought has long outlived the friendship itself.
This is a common experience, this fond remembering of a lost friendship. Friendships fuse under many circumstances, but circumstances are predictably unpredictable. We lose our friends when they move away, or when our interests drag us apart, or when misunderstanding or betrayal blocks our heart connection. And there is the ultimate separation of death. But the comfort of friendship is so deep and so restoring we continually seek the intimacy we have repeatedly found and lost.
Srila Prabhupada compares friendship in this world to a drop of water in the desert. Friendship is something we crave, yearn for, search after. It's there, but in such a tiny quantity that our thirst for it cannot be satisfied.
"The idea of society, friendship, and love is not at all false," Srila Prabhupada explains, "but the place where we search for it is false."
Yes, there is someone who can understand your deepest emotions, who cares about you through thick and thin, who sees your intrinsic beauty even in your darkest times, and who will never, ever leave you. That person is Krsna.
This may seem a disappointment to those of us who have forgotten how dear we are to God. In our state of forgetfulness, we are blind to Krsna's loving presence, and the idea that Krsna is our best friend seems a lonely conclusion. When jocular companionship portrayed in beer commercials shapes our conception of friendship, understanding how friendship applies to the creator of the universe is difficult. But when we understand that Lord Krsna is seated within our hearts, lifetime after lifetime, we get a better sense of true friendship. He is there whether we're embodied as kings or as dogs. Never giving up, never leaving us in disgust, He waits patiently for us to become frustrated with our search for pleasure in a world of falsity. He tolerates our blasphemy and our stubborn refusal to acknowledge His omnipresence. He forgives every atrocity. His love is unconditional. Who wouldn't want a friendship like that?
Glimpses of Krsna's Friendship
I have known some wonderful moments when I could catch a glimpse of Krsna's eternal friendship. Some of those moments were deeply personal, times when each breath was choked with pain and yet somehow I could feel the presence and solace of my dear, dear friend in my heart. Some of those moments were twisted with a private irony that could only be shared with someone who has witnessed my every thought. Sometimes I have seen Krsna take away the proverbial keys to the car when I have been in no condition to drive. And other times I have felt Him pushing me past fears and regrets with the supreme encouragement of a most confident friend.
Understanding that Krsna is our best friend doesn't mean we no longer feel any friendship for other living beings. Rather, that understanding intensifies our connection with everyone, because we know that our wonderful friend loves everyone deeply. No one was more loving and compassionate than Srila Prabhupada, the perfect example of a fully realized soul. People who cared nothing for God were attracted to Srila Prabhupada because he exuded genuine warmth and concern toward them. These are the natural qualities of a pure devotee.
So when we hear from the Vedic literature that there is no love in this world, that's not a cause for lamentation but an affirmation of what we already know in our hearts. Love and friendship simply cannot endure without the empowering central force of love for the Supreme Lord. In the same way that sunlight dwarfs the illuminating power of a tiny candle, our true loving relationship with God dwarfs our very best memories of material friendship. As Srila Prabhupada promises, "If we make our friendship with Krsna, it will never break."
Dvarakadhisa Devi Dasi is a frequent contributor to Back to Godhead. She and her family are part of the Hare Krsna community in Alachua, Florida.
A Devotee in Pink
By Hare Krsna Devi Dasi
GET ALL YOUR NECESSITIES from the land," Srila Prabhupada often told devotees. Rural self-sufficiency promotes simple living, which helps reduce material desires to make way for Krsna consciousness. And rural living brings another benefit: On a farm we can engage many kinds of living entities in Krsna's service.
Cows give their milk for Krsna. Oxen plow the fields to offer Him grains. The dogs scare away groundhogs who dig holes that can break an ox's leg. Cats catch mice and protect the grain supply for Krsna's cows. All these creatures have their work to do for Krsna. Graceful barn swallows eat flies that bite the cows. In the morning, song birds sing a melodic symphony to greet the Deities. During the day, the honeybees industriously gather honey to make special treats for Lord Balarama. * (In His incarnation as Lord Balarama, Lord Krsna is said to be very fond of honey.) In the evening, tree frogs and crickets serenade the Deities as They rest.
In any devotee community you visit, if you take note you might see that even the trees in the forest are different. Somehow they seem to know they're serving Krsna. They can sense they're lucky. The flowers are lucky: Big yellow marigolds make up Krsna's garland. Tiny white matricaria flowers decorate Srimati Radharani's hair. Fragrant pink rose petals scent the Deities' morning bath. And what about the buzzing mosquito? How is she serving Krsna? By her bite she reminds you, "There's always some kind of suffering in the material world, no matter how nice it seems. Better finish up your business here and go all the way back home, back to Godhead."
Because Srila Prabhupada encouraged us to get as much of life's necessities from the land as possible, self-sufficiency means a chance for everyone to serve Krsna. The slower pace of country life, combined with chanting of Hare Krsna to purify the heart, allows us to see our garden and woodland neighbors as servants of Krsna. When that happens, their distinct personalities begin to emerge for us. Krsna is the supreme personality, and when we see other living entities in relation to Him, their personalities become more apparent. We can see we're living in a place where we're surrounded by devotees of Krsna in all forms of life.
This is the world we long for. This is the world that artists and animators vainly try to create in children's cartoons, which hold great attraction because of our natural desire to live in a place where everything is alive and conscious. But cartoons pale next to the real thing, because they lack the life-giving connection to Krsna. The more you see the different living entities in terms of their service to Krsna, the happier you become, because you see that you are always surrounded by well-wishing friends who can instantly remind you of Krsna.
I had an experience recently that reminded me how lucky we are that Srila Prabhupada has given us rural communities to train us in this awareness. I was riding on a bus from Boston to Maine. As we came into Maine I was pleased to see the long expanses of green pine forest. My mind began to drift peacefully. Then my eye caught a tiny glimpse of bright pink as the bus sped down the highway. Instantly my mind flashed to the Radha-Damodara Deities at Gita Nagari Farm in Pennsylvania. That flash of pink was a wild rose, the same kind of rose we loved to put in the Deities' morning bath at Gita Nagari. That rose was saying to me, "You remember me. I'm a servant of Radha-Damodara. It's nice that you appreciate the scenery. But don't forget who created it, and don't forget who the ultimate enjoyer is. It's Krsna. In your appreciation of the beauty of nature, remember Him. Don't forget."
Thank you, dear rose. Thanks for reminding me of Krsna. You are a true friend.
Formerly the editor of Hare Krsna Rural Life, Hare Krsna Devi Dasi is currently compiling a five-volume series of Srila Prabhupada's teachings on varnasrama and farm community development. The first volume, "Speaking about Varnasrama" is due out this fall and will be available through The Hare Krsna Catalog.
Don't Be Shy—Chant!
By Ravi Gupta
ON THE FIRST OF January this year, at our ISKCON center in Boise, Idaho, we held a "japathon"—an eight-hour session of japa (chanting the Hare Krsna mantra on beads). It was a spiritually rejuvenating way to begin the New Year, and many in our mostly Indian congregation took part wholeheartedly. Some chanters completed seventy-four rounds, while others did sixty-four, fifty, thirty-two, sixteen, or just a few.
Chintu Mudumbi, a fifteen-year-old who chanted seventy rounds, said of his experience, "When you chant like this, you realize that chanting actually works. All doubts about the reality of spiritual existence just go away. You begin to wonder why anyone would not take to the process."
Many other participants had similar thoughts. They felt the great power and pleasure in the holy name of Krsna.
In India today japa is somewhat of a lost practice. Among a great variety of religious activities people perform, japa is almost always absent. Religious speakers promote many ways to express our devotion to God, but rarely does one hear the glories of the personal chanting of the holy names. Japa chanters are mostly devoted widows or renounced sadhus living in places of pilgrimage.
Chanting on japa beads can be embarrassing for some people. For example, when I was visiting India my aunt remarked, "You don't realize—if I went outside the house with japa beads in my hand, people would laugh at me and think I'd left the world to become a saint."
Even Indians who perform other spiritual practices find it difficult to get themselves to chant japa.
"I can sing or listen to hours of bhajanas [devotional songs]," said an Indian guest at the temple. "I can cook a feast for the Deities or read scripture—but I just cannot sit down and do japa."
Yet japa is an important part of our heritage, and the Vedic scriptures extol its virtues. Srila Haridasa Thakura, an associate of Lord Caitanya, chanted 300,000 holy names every day. He is called namacarya, "the teacher of the holy name." Sri Caitanya Mahaprabhu, who is Krsna Himself, also chanted a fixed number of rounds every day. King Kulasekhara, one of the great South Indian Alvars, writes in his Mukunda-mala-stotra, jihve sri-krsna-mantram japa japa satatam: "O tongue, please constantly chant the mantra composed of Sri Krsna's names." And in the Bhagavad-gita Lord Krsna says that of all sacrifices He is japa.
While all types of devotional service should ideally be done with full concentration on Krsna, we often derive secondary benefits from them, even when we're distracted. For example, we might listen to bhajanas for the pleasing music, cook prasadam to fulfill the family's needs, or read scripture out of intellectual curiosity. But chanting japa without focusing the mind on the holy names tends not to give secondary benefits. So it is a test of our purity, sincerity, and absorption in Krsna consciousness.
We have to work toward pure chanting, which will gradually bring us to the stage of ecstatic love of God. We have to carefully avoid offending the holy name. In the Srimad-Bhagavatam, Sukadeva Gosvami tells Maharaja Pariksit, "If one's heart does not change, tears do not flow from his eyes, his body does not shiver, nor his hairs stand on end as he chants the Hare Krsna maha-mantra, it should be understood that his heart is as hard as iron. This is due to his offenses at the lotus feet of the Lord's holy name."
Srila Prabhupada required his disciples to chant at least sixteen rounds of the Hare Krsna maha-mantra every day. That would help them progress in the pure chanting of the holy names. Prabhupada writes, "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."
So let us pick up our japa beads and chant in earnest—Hare Krsna, Hare Krsna, Krsna Krsna, Hare Hare/ Hare Rama, Hare Rama, Rama Rama, Hare Hare.
Ravi Gupta, age sixteen, lives at the Hare Krsna center in Boise, Idaho, USA. The center is run by his parents. Ravi, who was schooled at home, is a fourth-year student at Boise State University.
I HAVE DECIDED to resign as editor in chief.
The time has come for us at BTG to start handing the magazine over to a younger generation of devotees—the young people born and raised in the Hare Krsna movement, and the disciples of Srila Prabhupada's disciples.
A first step in this is for me to get out of the way and make room for others to move up.
Now, therefore, our managing editor, Nagaraja Dasa, is taking over as editor in chief. Really, he has been doing the main editorial work for quite a long time. But he has not had full freedom and responsibility to do it, because even while traveling away from the office, I was the remote-control chief. So now the full editorial responsibility will be his.
A team of devotees will be working with Nagaraja on developing and implementing new editorial ideas.
A theme of high priority will be to bring younger devotees onto the BTG staff, involve them and train them, and gradually complete the transfer of responsibility from our own generation to the next.
Kalakantha Dasa, our circulation manager (who handles a lot more than circulation), will focus on recruiting and training new devotees to serve at BTG. He'll be looking for people both for editing and for design, and for circulation as well.
I will continue to be involved in BTG as a trustee of the Bhaktivedanta Book Trust. I will have a hand in major financial decisions and other matters of publishing. I will be on call as an editorial consultant. I also hope to be personally involved with the recruiting and training for BTG of younger devotees.
I expect to continue assisting our BTG office in India, formed about two years ago, as well as our new BTG circulation office in the UK.
Though serving as editor in chief is not a material engagement one needs to renounce, still it seems sensible, at a mature age, to retire and make way for others. One is advised by Vedic scriptures to retire by the age of fifty. At forty-nine, I think I am on schedule.
I hope you will all give your blessings and best wishes to me and your full support to our new editor in chief, Nagaraja Dasa.
Thank you very much. Hare Krsna.
Krsna is the supreme father, and all living entities within the material world are exactly like misled children of a wealthy man who have left home to loiter in the street. Therefore the greatest benefit one can bestow upon one's fellow human being is to give him Krsna consciousness.
His Divine Grace A.C. Bhaktivedanta Swami Prabhupada
Persons who are impelled by pure devotional service in Krsna consciousness and who therefore go to see the Deities of Visnu in the temple will surely get relief from entering again into the prison of a mother's womb.
Those who are actually advanced in knowledge are able to appreciate the essential value of this age of Kali. Such enlightened persons worship Kali-yuga because in this fallen age all perfection of life can easily be achieved by the performance of sankirtana, the congregational chanting of the Lord's holy names.
Sri Karabhajana Muni
From association with devotees is born faith. From faith is born pure knowledge. From pure knowledge is born meditation. From meditation is born devotional service, which pleases Lord Krsna and destroys all sufferings.
Srila Bhaktivinoda Thakura
One may cleanse himself daily by taking a bath in water, but if one takes a bath even once in the sacred Ganges water of Bhagavad-gita, for him the dirt of material life is altogether vanquished.
Anyone who has developed the ecstasy of love for the Supreme Personality of Godhead, and who is always merged in transcendental bliss on account of that love, cannot even perceive the material happiness or distress coming from the body or mind.
Within the heart of a person overpowered by lamentation or anger, there is no possibility of Krsna's being manifest.