The Hare Krsna movement was shocked in March by the passing of two devotees in a car accident in India. His Holiness Tamal Krishna Goswami, an early disciple of Srila Prabhupada, was a guru and a longtime leader in the movement. Vrndavanesvari Devi Dasi, wife of the president of ISKCON's rural community near Auckland, New Zealand, had for years faithfully served Lord Krsna in a variety of ways. A short "In Memoriam" for these devotees appears in this issue. To all who knew and loved these dedicated servants of the Lord, we offer our heartfelt condolences.
Devotees are preparing a feature article about Tamal Krsna Goswami for the next issue, and right now you can find more about both him and Vrndavanesvari on our web site (www.krishna.com).
Also in this issue, we explore the need for faith, study the forms and moods of prayer, witness the progress of Krsna consciousness in Ukraine, learn of seven results of chanting Hare Krsna, hear of a unique king blessed with attraction for Lord Caitanya, and discover Krsna's energy behind everything from lemons to computers.
—Nagaraja Dasa, Editor
• To help all people discern reality from illusion, spirit from matter, the eternal from the temporary.
Giving a Spiritual Outlook
I would like to take this opportunity to congratulate you for wonderful articles like "Destiny and Endeavor" and "How Scared Should You Be?" published by you in the January/February issue. Also, the article written by Satsvarupa Dasa Goswami, relating to the ideals of people in the Krsna consciousness movement, is commendable. He has very delicately addressed the challenges one faces in material life and the spiritual aspirations which need to be fulfilled.
I must admit that articles in BTG have constantly given its readers a spiritual outlook towards their lives. I congratulate you once again for the commendable job you are doing.
Dr. Arun Dhir
Thank you for making such a magnificent and wonderful magazine! We are so grateful for the amazing work your writers, artists, graphic designers, and editors do for every single issue. We are also truly looking forward to the web site—especially the promised screensaver (hope you have one for Mac too); we have been looking for one for a very long time.
Your March/April issue had a glorious picture on page 54, which we instantly fell in love with. Such a sweet and attractive presentation of our great and beautiful Lord!
Linda Liu & Martin Madsen
Clarification of the Law of Karma
If a person committed murder in his previous birth, then in this birth he will be murdered. So God must arrange for someone to murder him. That's my understanding. But then that person will have to be murdered in his next life, and the cycle goes on and on. But why should that person suffer for carrying out God's will?
S. Venkata Subramanian
OUR REPLY: God arranges that someone who wants to use his free will to kill someone gets to be used as the instrument to punish someone who killed in the past. Then God arranges that someone else who wants to use his free will to kill someone gets to be used as the instrument to punish the second killer, and so forth.
There are plenty of potential criminals, so finding a "volunteer" for the job is not a problem. Because God is omniscient and all-powerful, this is not an administrative challenge for Him.
The lesson is, of course, to engage not in fruitive activities but rather in devotional activities, which have no reaction and which burn up both our past pious and sinful reactions, leaving us with no karma and no more material bodies.
Brought to Tears
I've been reading Back to Godhead magazine ever since I bought my first one from a devotee during Mardi Gras in New Orleans twenty-nine years ago. Today I am writing to comment on the article entitled "My Mother's Transformation," by Indradyumna Swami, from the last issue. I found the article incredibly moving. I cried as I read the story, thinking how the mercy of Srila Prabhupada has saved so many fallen souls. Even a person who had no apparent interest in Krsna was liberated by the mercy of His pure devotee.
Light in the Cell
As an inmate of the Wisconsin Correctional System, I have been very fortunate to become involved with the ISKCON Prison Ministry. I have been a recipient of Krsna's mercy by the association of His two servants Candrasekhara Dasa and Jagannivasa Dasa. Through their association and guidance, my old world and understanding have been shaken and turned upside down, leading me into the light of truth and bhakti. I humbly thank them for Srila Prabhupada's books and issues of BTG, which have been beneficial to me beyond their knowing.
In your January/February issue there was an article entitled "Where to Die?" by Sarvabhauma Dasa. I was so happy to read it, as this has been a question of mine for a very long time.
I always felt that I had to go someplace considered holy, like India, to find spiritual truths and realizations. Now I know that idea was part of the illusion I was stuck in. This article was just what I needed to read; it opened my eyes.
I still have a longing for India and a desire to seek out the holy places there, but for now I am able to do that right where I am, through the articles I read in BTG. I consider it a blessing to have come in contact with ISKCON and BTG magazine. You both have changed my life forever.
Please write to us at: BTG, P.O. Box 430, Alachua, FL 32616, USA. E-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org.
Lord Krsna wants us to give up our
By His Divine Grace A. C. Bhaktivedanta Swami Prabhupada
avyakto 'yam acintyo 'yam
"It is said that the soul is invisible, inconceivable, and immutable. Knowing this, you should not grieve for the body."—Bhagavad-gita 2.25
IN SO MANY WAYS Krsna is convincing Arjuna that the spirit soul is immortal. Avyakto 'yam: It is not manifest to the blunt material eyes. We cannot see it, because the magnitude of the soul is one ten-thousandth part of the tip of the hair. Very small. Smaller than the atom.
That spirit soul is everywhere. Sarva-gatah. And wherever the spirit soul lives within the material world, he has a body and a heart, and within that heart Krsna is also there. Isvarah sarva-bhutanam hrd-dese 'rjuna tisthati. Both of them—the soul and Krsna—are living there. Therefore, anor aniyan mahato mahiyan: Krsna can become greater than the greatest and smaller than the smallest. That is God.
When Krsna was playing as a child, He ate earth, and His playmates complained to mother Yasoda, "Mother, your son Krsna is eating earth."
Mother Yasoda asked for an explanation: "Krsna, why are You eating earth? I have given You sandesa [a sweet]."
Krsna said, "No, Mother, I have not eaten earth."
"No, Your friends are complaining."
"No, they have become My enemies this morning. We had some quarrel. Therefore they have combined so that you will chastise Me."
Mother Yasoda wanted to solve the problem.
"All right, show me Your mouth. Open Your mouth. I want to see."
When Krsna opened His mouth, His mother saw innumerable universes inside.
This is Krsna. Anor aniyan mahato mahiyan. Krsna enters within the universe, but at the same time millions of universes are within His mouth. This is the explanation of "greater than the greatest and smaller than the smallest."
Of course, although mother Yasoda saw Krsna's display, she could not believe it, because she never thought that Krsna is the Supreme Personality of Godhead. She always thought, "He is my tiny child." That's all. "I have to take care of Him." These are called parental feelings—vatsalya-rasa.
Moods Of Service
Krsna is served by devotees in many rasas—transcendental mellows or humors. Someone is serving as His servant. Someone is serving as His friend. Someone is serving as His father and mother. Someone is serving as His conjugal lover. These are the five primary mellows in which a devotee is connected with Krsna.
There are seven other rasas. They are secondary. For example, somebody is serving Krsna as an enemy, like the asuras, the demons. They also serve Krsna, but as His enemy. Somebody serves by giving pleasure to Krsna, another by fighting with Him.
So there are twelve rasas. Akhila-rasamrta-sindhu—all the rasas we experience within this world come from Krsna. Janmadyasya yatah. The Vedanta-sutra says that everything within our experience is in Krsna. That is Krsna. He was stealing, which we generally consider not very good business. But stealing is also in Krsna. He's famous as Makhana-cora, the stealer of butter.
All our dealings in the material world are only a perverted reflection of our dealings with Krsna in the spiritual world. But the impersonalists, unaware of the spiritual world, have no information that Krsna is always busy. Because He's a person, He's always busy. He wants to please the gopijanas—the cowherd boys and the gopis, His constant companions.
Krsna is sanatana, eternal, and His dealings with His devotees are also sanatana. And these dealings are possible not here but in the sanatana-dhama, the eternal world. We cannot have sanatana dealings with Krsna in the material world. Therefore Krsna comes to canvass the conditioned souls: "For eternal happiness, for eternal dealings, come to Me in My eternal place." Yad gatva na nivartante tad dhama paramam mama.
Why not in the material world? By nature the material world is not permanent; it is temporary. Janmadi. Everything in the material world has a date of birth, and anything which has a date of birth must have a date of death also. That is the nature of the material world.
Here we can practice sanatana-dharma, the eternal occupation, but sanatana-dharma is actually performed in the spiritual world. In business one is trained to become an apprentice and then he's given a post. Similarly, Sanatana Gosvami explains, devotees who are perfectly trained in devotional service are first of all given birth in the universe where Krsna is present.
Of course, Krsna is always present everywhere, just as the sun is always present in the sky. When the sun sets, it is not within my vision, but the sun is still in the sky. Similarly, Krsna is always present. We have to make our eyes fit to see Him. How? Lord Brahma explains:
Only the devotees who have loving affection for Krsna can see Him. The propensity to love Krsna is there already. But we have transferred that loving propensity to maya, illusion. The whole process of Krsna consciousness is to transfer the loving propensity from maya back to Krsna. This is the simple definition of Krsna consciousness. We have love for Krsna, but being illusioned, being falsely positioned, we are trying to love something which is not Krsna—maya, Krsna's maya, or illusion.
Krsna says, mama maya: "Maya is also Mine." For example, the cloud is made by the sun. The sun evaporates water from the ocean, and the water becomes a cloud. The business of the cloud is to cover our eyes from seeing the sun, but actually the cloud has no separate existence, and as soon as the sun is bright, the cloud disappears. Bhutva bhutva praliyate: The cloud comes into existence, and again it disappears. Similarly, maya, illusion, is only sometimes generated. The material world is impermanent. It comes and goes. Maya simply covers our eyes.
But although the cloud can cover my eyesight, it cannot cover the sun. Similarly maya cannot touch Krsna. The Mayavada philosophy says that when Krsna comes here He comes covered by maya. No. This is not correct. Maya cannot touch Krsna. When Vyasadeva realized Krsna before writing the Srimad-Bhagavatam, he saw Krsna and maya. Maya was in the background. Maya cannot come in front of Krsna. So Krsna is never covered by maya. It is our eyes which are covered by maya.
So we, the fragments of Krsna, are covered by maya, but Krsna is not. The theory that Krsna becomes covered is nonsense. Krsna is the controller of maya. And we are controlled by maya. That is the difference. Krsna is mayadhisa, the controller of maya, and we are mayadhina, controlled by maya.
Yet we can become free. When an airplane goes above the clouds, you have immense sunlight. The clouds are below. Similarly, you can go above maya. You can transcend maya and see Krsna always. That is possible. How? Mam eva ye prapadyante mayam etam taranti te: Simply surrender to Krsna, and Krsna will arrange that you are no longer under maya. Simple process. Just do as Krsna demands—sarva-dharman parityajya mam ekam saranam vraja: "Abandon all varieties of religion and just surrender unto Me." This is sanatana-dharma.
We are, after all, servants of Krsna, but artificially we are trying to become masters of the material world. We are therefore sent here. Just as those who are revolutionary, who do not care for state laws, are sometimes killed or put into the prisonhouse, those who are not voluntarily surrendering to Krsna are put into the prisonhouse of the material world. They are forced to surrender.
And when you falsely think you have become free—"I have now become liberated. I have become God"—you fall into the last snare of maya. How can you become God? What capacity do you have? God has created so many things. What have you created? God has shown so many things. What have you done?
Still, people falsely think, "I am God." This is the last snare of maya. Everyone is trying to lord it over material nature. We think, "I want to become a cabinet minister." "I want to become president." "I want to become a business magnate." And when everything fails, we want to become God. That is also maya. It is not possible to become God.
Our relationship with God, Krsna, is that we are meant to serve Him. But we have forgotten our real position, our sanatana-dharma. Sanatana-dharma means that the living entity is a part of the whole and is therefore meant to serve the whole. Because my finger is part of my body, its business is to carry out my order, to serve the whole body. If I want my finger to come to my head, it comes at once. Similarly, our business is to serve Krsna. But when we want to become lord, independent of Krsna, we place ourselves in maya. The Prema-vivarta states, krsna-bahirmukha hana bhoga-vancha kare/ nikaa-stha maya tare japaiya dhare: "When the living entity wants to enjoy material nature, he is immediately victimized by the material nature." As soon as we desire to imitate Krsna, that is maya. We create the situation of maya. "I want to become Krsna. I want to become God. I want to become the Lord." This is maya.
Krsna is sanatana, eternal. We are also sanatana, but when we forget to serve Krsna, we serve temporary things. And when we engage again in the service of Krsna, we return to our sanatana-dharma, eternally serving Krsna.
Dharma means "characteristic." You cannot change dharma. The characteristic of sugar is sweetness, and the characteristic of chili is pungency. Everything has its characteristic. That is called its dharma. You purchase chili, and if it is not very pungent you throw it away—"Oh, it is not good"—because the dharma of the chili is lacking. Similarly, if you take sugar and find it salty, then you say, "Oh, what is this?"
So everything has some characteristic, and we as living entities have our characteristic. We are sanatana, eternal. Our characteristic is to serve God. If I don't serve God, then the characteristic will remain and I'll have to serve maya, thinking in illusion that I have become master. For example, a man has a motorcar. To purchase a motorcar and maintain it requires lots of money, and to get this money he has to work very hard. But then he thinks, "Now I have a motorcar. Very nice." Still, he is serving the motorcar, that's all.
This is the position. One is actually servant, not master, but he thinks that he's master. This is maya. When we give up the falsely prestigious claim that we are master, then we are liberated.
Now we are struggling hard within the material world under the influence of maya, changing between different bodies. Sometimes I go to the heavenly planets, sometimes to the hellish planets. Sometimes I am a rich man, sometimes a poor man, a brahmana, a sudra, a tiger, a tree. In this way, everywhere within the universe the living entities are struggling for existence. Krsna says:
"All living entities are My parts and parcels, but foolishly, carried by mental concoction within the material world, they are struggling to become master."
This is the disease. The rascals are pulled by the ear by prakrti, material nature. Material nature dictates, "Do this," and I have to do it. To one who has associated with the mode of ignorance, prakrti gives the body of a hog. Then prakrti tells him, "Come here. Eat the stool." And he eats. "Oh, so nice." This is maya. Is stool a very nice thing? But prakrti has given the hog a certain type of body, and he is relishing, "Oh, stool is so nice."
In the human form of body also, people are eating so many nonsense things in the restaurants, in the hotels. And they're relishing, "Oh, it is so nice." This is maya.
Our business is to serve, but because we take the attitude "I don't like to serve Krsna" or "I am Krsna," we are placed under the clutches of maya—immediately. And under the illusion of maya, we associate with the different modes of material nature, and so we have to take birth. Sad-asad-yoni-janmasu. One becomes a hog, one becomes a dog, one becomes a human being, a demigod, a tree, a plant—8,400,000 species and forms of life. Krsna says, sarva-yonisu kaunteya . . . aham bija-pradah pita: "Of all these forms—whatever they may be—I am the father."
So if Krsna is the original father of every living entity, how has one become a brahmana, one a sudra, one a tree, one a tiger, a hog, an Indra, a Brahma? How is that?
We get our births in different types of body because we associate with different modes of nature. My mind carries me to the next body. It is foolish to say, "This man is now dead. Everything is finished." That is rascaldom. He is not finished. His life is going on.
Foolish rascals say, "Now this man is dead, finished." Big, big professors say, "Swamiji, after death everything is finished." And they're professors. Just see. Rascals and fools are becoming leaders, professors, politicians. How will the people be happy when they are always led into ignorance and enamored by the external feature of Krsna's energy?
Krsna's Two Energies
The material world is also Krsna's energy. But we are attracted by the material energy when we should be attracted by the spiritual. As explained in the Bhagavad-gita, both energies are Krsna's: apara (inferior) energy and para (superior) energy. But we are now attracted by the material elements of the apara energy: bhumir apo 'nalo vayuh—earth, water, fire, air. And because we are attracted by the material energy, when we construct a very nice stone house we think, "Now, yes, my life is successful. I have a very nice house of stone." Am I stone? No. Still, my attraction is for the stone. Therefore Krsna gives me facility: "All right, take the stone and try to be happy. But you'll never be happy. You'll be happy when you surrender to Me."
For example, a father gives his child all facilities to play, but at the same time the father says, "My dear child, don't play like this. It is not good." But because the child persists, the father sometimes says, "All right, you play like that." Similarly, Krsna does not want us to come to the material world and be attracted by earth, water, air, fire, and sky and become great scientists and make combinations of these five elements. What is this world? Tejo-vari-mrdam yatha vinimayo yatra tri-sargo 'mrsa: This world is a mixture of fire, earth, water, air, and sky. It is a false thing.
As this world is a combination of these five elements, our body is also a combination of these same five elements, and we are attracted to it. "Oh, I have such a nice, strong, beautiful body—American body, Indian body, brahmana body, this body, that body." All maya. You'll never be happy by this bodily concept of life.
Krsna indirectly explains this point when He says, acchedyo 'yam adahyo 'yam akledyo 'sosya eva ca: "The individual soul is unbreakable and insoluble, and can be neither burned nor dried." Since the body is burned to ashes, how can we be the body? When a man is dead, the body is put into the fire and burned. Then how are we the body?
The body is made of three elements: bile, mucus, and air. It is a bag of bones and sesh and blood. If one thinks, "I am this body," then he is go-kharah—a cow or an ass. Anyone in the bodily concept of life is an animal. And how can you receive knowledge from a person who is an animal? You cannot get any knowledge from the cows or asses.
To speak frankly, practically everyone is in the bodily concept of life. Therefore the modern civilization is an animal civilization, not a human civilization. Human civilization begins when one understands, "I am not this body. I am spirit soul—aham brahmasmi." As long as people are under the bodily concept of life, theirs is a civilization of cats and dogs, that's all.
Thank you very much.
Our greatest inventions would get
By Piyushkumar Mehta
We have the tendency to take Krsna's creation for granted. For example, when we're hungry we might pick a fruit from a tree and just eat it without a second thought.
I got to thinking about how many factories it takes to make one of man's greatest inventions: the computer sitting on my desk. To put it into perspective, let's say I had to build a computer from scratch. At first I thought I'd need perhaps five or ten factories, but in the end I discovered that it would take thousands of them.
The little components are made in many countries—inks, glass, buttons, switches, speakers, keyboards, wiring, microchips, circuit boards, plastic and metal casings, and so on. We need machinery and equipment to build all those things.
Then there are factories that process the raw materials and chemicals used in manufacturing. And we need more factories to build mining equipment, bulldozers, and so on, to get the raw materials. We need to sink oil wells for the plastic and chemicals and the fuel to transport every little piece of equipment tens of thousands of kilometers. We need to build ships, trains, cars, trucks, and airplanes to deliver all the components around the world. We need more factories to build these. We need massive coal, gas, nuclear, or hydroelectric power stations throughout the manufacturing process, and we need them in the end to power the computer.
What about the disks, the software, other media and hardware devices? I could go on and on, but I think you get the picture. This may seem a little exaggerated, but it's true. To get this computer working on my desk, it really took all that effort.
What about Krsna's creation? We take a lemon seed and plant it in the soil, and from that seed come hundreds of lemons and thousands of lemon seeds, each seed capable of producing another lemon tree. Krsna's factory. In one area in the same soil I may plant seeds for lemons, apples, pears, oranges, or peaches, and each seed will produce a different fruit.
Furthermore, these plants and trees purify the air we breathe; they take in carbon dioxide and produce oxygen—as opposed to man's computer, which produces tons of pollution. Somehow, mystically, with very little effort, fruit factories take shape from seeds. I say "mystically" because it is impossible for scientists to explain how the seed becomes the tree. If they knew, they would be able to manufacture such seeds. But scientists at the greatest universities or biotech institutes cannot make even a single seed or blade of grass.
Lord Krsna creates, and man simply amalgamates the things already created—and not very well, I might add. Because in the end, when you're hungry you prefer an apple, not a computer. Your survival depends on it. In the end, man's amalgamations are just an illusion. We will still use Krsna's inconceivably intelligent creations—the air, water, plants, fruits, sunlight—which scientists can never imitate fractionally, what to speak of manufacture.
Only a fool will say that the biosphere in all its intelligently organized complexity has come about by accident. It takes much time and effort for us to amalgamate and manipulate creation just to get non-essential things. How then can we continue to take for granted Krsna's superior intelligence behind the creation?
Bhakta Piyush lives in Marondera, Zimbabwe.
WHILE BROWSING recently at the Clarkston, Michigan, public library, out of the corner of my eye I thought I saw a book called Mastering Maya. I may have done a double take as I thought, "Did I really see what I thought I saw?"
But I did see it. Of course, I at once marveled and chuckled at the title. "Maya" used here is the name of a software program used to generate 3D animation and effects for the entertainment industry. I'd never heard of the application before.
I was especially amused by these phrases in the forward:
"Welcome to the wonderful world of Maya."
"You are led through lessons that will reinforce your knowledge of each of the various aspects of Maya."
"It will be time to meet others who share your enthusiasm for Maya."
The first verse I thought of after encountering the book:
daivi hy esa guna-mayi
"This divine energy of Mine [mama maya], consisting of the three modes of material nature, is difficult to overcome. But those who have surrendered unto Me can easily cross beyond it." (Bhagavad-gita 7.14)
"Mayesvara" came to mind next. It's a name of Krsna meaning "Controller of Maya."
I've heard that Srila Prabhupada said his disciples didn't fear Maya enough.
I looked in the "Maya" chapter of Vaisnava Verse Book and thought this verse might be most appropriate to this book:
"The external potency Maya, who is of the nature of the shadow of the cit potency, is worshipped by all people as Durga, the creating, preserving, and destroying agent of this mundane world. I adore the primeval Lord Govinda, in accordance with whose will Durga conducts herself." (Brahma-samhita 5.44)
Tamal Krishna Goswami
Vrndavanesvari Devi Dasi
ON MARCH 15, His Holiness Tamal Krishna Goswami Maharaja and Srimati Vrndavanesvari Devi Dasi passed from this world as the result of a car accident near Mayapur, West Bengal. Vrndavanesvari's husband, Kalasamvara Dasa, survived the crash with relatively minor injuries. Aghavit Dasa, a disciple of Tamal Krishna Goswami, suffered life-threatening injuries but is now recovering.
Tamal Krishna Goswami was an ISKCON governing body commissioner and initiating spiritual master. Accepted as a disciple by His Divine Grace A. C. Bhaktivedanta Swami Prabhupada in 1968, he quickly emerged as a leader in ISKCON, establishing temples around the world. As one of Srila Prabhupada's most trusted disciples, he often served as Srila Prabhupada's personal secretary. He wrote many books on Krsna consciousness, including two classical Vedic dramas. A feature article on Tamal Krishna Goswami will appear in the next issue of Back to Godhead.
Vrndavanesvari Devi Dasi was a beloved member of ISKCON's New Varshan community near Auckland, New Zealand, where her husband serves as the community president. A disciple of His Holiness Indradyumna Swami, she also took instruction from His Holiness Tamal Krishna Goswami. A sincere, generous, enthusiastic devotee, she was a highly successful fundraiser who loved to cook for the devotees and chant Hare Krsna with deep absorption. Besides her husband, she leaves behind her thirteen-year-old son, Raghunatha.
Transcendental Commentary on the Issues of the Day
The Morality Of Stem Cell Research
by P. Govindarajan
ON NOVEMBER 25, 2001, the U.S. biotechnology company Advanced Cell Technology (ACT) announced that it had cloned a human embryo. The announcement caused widespread alarm and concern. ACT used cloning to grow a tiny six-celled embryo that could serve as a source of stem cells. It is hoped that stem cells could be used to treat a wide range of diseases, from diabetes and stroke to incurable degenerative diseases such as Parkinson's and Alzheimer's.
Pro-life lobbyists in the United States fear that human embryos are being created by cloning for the sole purpose of killing them to harvest their cells. Some members of the U.S. Congress have proposed a ban on human cloning. But scientists say that stem cell research could provide hope for a wonder cure, because the forty or so cells making up the microscopic cluster of a few-days-old human embryo are found to be astonishingly versatile seeds that may be coaxed into replicating almost any kind of cell, tissue, or organ in the human body.
The idea of regenerating tissues or organs in lieu of surgery has been gaining ground. The main issue involved in stem cell research is whether the new field is ethical and moral, and thus to be permitted by civilized society.
Non-Material Organizing Force
The problem is that although scientists know that stem cells can morph into any kind of cell, they have no idea what impels the morphogenesis, or the process of cell division, after the fertilization of the egg. A living organism is much more than the aggregate of its cells. Study of the cell and its nucleus can never reveal the cause of cell reproduction. How the single-celled egg and the single cell that fertilizes it divide and multiply until their number is increased astronomically to form a whole living being staggers the imagination.
German biologist Hans Driesch (1867-1941) said, "Life, at least morphogenesis, is not a specialized arrangement of inorganic events; biology therefore is not applied physics and chemistry. Life is something apart, and biology is an independent science."
It is life, a non-material force, Driesch insisted, that produces order and form in the living being. Biologists have no satisfactory explanation for the marvelous and purposeful process by which the single fertilized cell is able to duplicate itself infinitely according to a pre-determined blueprint to form a whole living being with life and consciousness.
In his 1962 book The Nature of Life, evolutionist C. H. Waddington notes that cells are neatly arranged into organs with definite shapes and specific functions. He admits: "I'm afraid biologists have to confess that they have hardly any notion of how this is done. It certainly must involve something more than purely chemical processes."
Cell reproduction works according to a master plan to form a highly complex but orderly and well-designed living organism. Seeking the mechanism of cell reproduction will not reveal the directing force behind it.
The fertilized egg used in stem cell research is human life and not inert chemicals. Human life starts from the moment of fertilization. The zygote possesses life, as its growth through cell division shows. The addition of a few more years of life to patients suffering from degenerative diseases should not come at the cost of snuffing out the life of posterity at the very start of their mortal career.
Human intellect should not ignore the prompting of moral conscience. Learning through trial and error is fraught with grave risks and dangers. For example, Scottish researchers who cloned the sheep Dolly used 277 unfertilized eggs for cloning, of which 29 fertilized but only one grew to full term. Success stories are well publicized, but failures are usually hushed up. If human embryonic stem cells are implanted in aged patients, there could be a mismatch between the new and the old cells, giving rise to new complications.
Many scientists who do research using adult stem cells feel that there may not be any need for research using stem cells derived from human embryos and fetuses. Recent research with adult stem cells reveals that they are capable of replicating themselves and even differentiating into other cells.
Knowledge of the profound secrets of nature in regard to the process of fertilization should be treated as highly sacred, to be handled with utter humility and deep reverence. Biologists should realize that appearances can be wholly deceptive; knowing about the superficial aspects of the cell does not mean one understands the whole of the working of nature.
To earn name and fame, curious scientists, under the banner of research, should not take advantage of the vulnerability of the seriously sick to play with the lives of embryos and fetuses. In the Bhagavad-gita Lord Krsna says, "Those who are demonic do not know what is to be done and what is not to be done; neither cleanliness nor proper behavior nor truth is found in them. They say that the world is unreal, with no foundation, no God in control. They say it is the product of sex desire and has no cause other than lust. Following such conclusion, the demonic, who are lost in themselves and who have no intelligence, engage in unbeneficial, horrible works meant to destroy the world. Taking shelter of insatiable lust and absorbed in the conceit of pride and false prestige, the demonic, thus illusioned are always sworn to unclean works, attracted by the impermanent."
Human life, in whatever form, should be treated as highly sacred, and secular science should not lay its hands on the life of posterity. By portraying stem cells as the only panacea for all ills, scientists seem to be making highly exaggerated claims about their potentiality and prospects. It may be recalled that gene therapy was hailed as the most effective antidote for human ills, but its clinical application is nowhere in sight. Morally conscious citizens of civilized society should not be carried away by the tall claims of scientists. Stem cell research in all its forms based on human cloning should be opposed and rejected.
Since retiring as chief general manager of the Bangalore office of the Reserve Bank of India, P. Govindarajan has devoted himself to spreading Vaisnava philosophy, especially the message of Bhagavad-gita. He contributes articles on Vaisnavism and the Gita to Tirumala Tirupati Devasthanam's journal Sapthagiri, Gita Press's Kalyana Kalpataru, and Bhavan's Journal.
How can our faith grow from
by Satsvarupa Dasa Goswami
FAITH IS VITAL FOR THE discharge of devotional service. In Bhagavad-gita (9.3) Krsna says, "Those who are not faithful in this devotional service cannot attain Me, O conqueror of enemies. Therefore they return to the path of birth and death in this material world." Srila Prabhupada writes in his purport that without faith we cannot attain Krsna. Faith, he says, is developed by associating with devotees. Without such association, we cannot become fully faithful.
There are three degrees of faith. The lowest type gives only enough faith to bring us into the association of devotees but is not based strongly enough on scriptural knowledge or belief in the truth of scripture to keep us there. The second type is firmer, and although we may not be conversant in scripture, we believe in the truth taught there. A devotee with the highest type of faith has firm conviction as well as firm knowledge of the scriptures.
When we as aspiring devotees consider the question of faith, we often assume we already possess it. After all, we are faithfully prosecuting our sadhana, our regulated spiritual practices. But faith is a live issue. It is not some-thing that once achieved remains vibrant without further thought. That is especially true for those of us who grew up in an environment of skepticism and were taught to challenge faith.
Therefore, we should understand both what faith is and what our own faith is. Besides the three types of faith listed above, the scriptures define faith as initial (sraddha) and fixed (nistha). Sraddha, according to Prabhupada, is shown by a person who is willing to wander into the temple and who is able to feel good about what is going on there. It sounds almost like a kind of favorable curiosity. That initial faith is enough to bring us into the association of devotees.
Nistha means conviction that cannot be changed. Prabhupada writes that a devotee with such faith feels that if he can attain Krsna consciousness, all his desires will be fulfilled. There is nothing more important than the development of Krsna consciousness. A devotee with nistha may not have attained the goal but is fixed on its importance and value.
The dictionary defines faith as "unquestioning belief in God; unquestioning belief that does not require proof or evidence." Faith is trust in God—in His actions and promises. This is the kind of faith required for a devotee. Although we can provide scriptural evidence to support our Krsna conscious conclusions about the nature of the soul, the nature of God, transmigration, and so on, we have little empirical proof that any of it is true. Somehow or other, however, we have become willing to accept the authority of guru and scripture on faith, and we have molded our life's principles around their teachings.
Prabhupada's Empowered Faith
If we examine Srila Prabhupada's life and preaching, we can see how empowered he was both in his own faith and in his ability to create faith in others. It is remarkable how he was able to convince the hedonistic youth of New York City to chant Hare Krsna and to accept the form of Krsna as the topmost expression of Godhead. After Prabhupada's first public kirtana, the East Village Other printed the headline "Save Earth Now!!" In the accompanying article, the reporter told a fanciful story about a group of theologians who had killed an old man in a church. There was a subsequent press report that God was now dead. Some people didn't believe it.
They dug up the body and found it to be not the body of God, but that of his PR man, organized religion. At once the good tidings spread across the wide world: God lives! But where was God?
Prabhupada had a way of presenting the philosophy of Krsna consciousness that made it attractive, and his life was true to his teachings. We wanted to be like him. Prabhupada would say, "Krsna consciousness is such a nice thing," and we would look at him and believe it to be true.
I mention this because faith is like love: you cannot analyze faith too closely without fear of losing it. We live with the results of faith—we practice our sadhana, we live with difficulties in Krsna consciousness, and we remain attracted to Krsna. On faith we question the guru, and with faith we accept his answers. On faith we then entrust him with our soul. Often, we don't know exactly what it is that awakens faith in our hearts, but when the time, place, and person are right, we are able to act on the budding of faith.
But as I mentioned previously, firm faith is not won in a day. I remember studying Bhagavad-gita under Srila Prabhupada and feeling the strengthening of my conviction. Yes, Krsna is God, and yes, the soul transmigrates from one body to another. Yes, we are eternally and constitutionally Krsna's servants. Then one day Prabhupada told us that Krsna had 16,108 wives. That little bit of information threatened to upset my faith. We sometimes believe only a percentage of what we read in scripture, and when we are asked to accept something outside our belief system, it may threaten our whole practice.
I raised my hand to challenge Prabhupada's description of Krsna's wives.
"I'm trying to accept the Bhagavad-gita in good faith," I said, "but when I hear this, it's difficult for me to accept."
Prabhupada said, "Difficult for you? It's difficult for the greatest scholars."
Faith & Knowledge
I think it is important for us to realize that actively developing faith is not inferior to cultivating knowledge. That is, having faith is not opposed to being reasonable, and it is not sentimental. Faith is a necessary part even of material life.
On a morning walk with some devotees, Srila Prabhupada showed this to be true:
Disciple: So knowledge is not necessary for faith, but faith is necessary for knowledge.
Earlier on this walk, a devotee had asked Prabhupada, "How does one particular person come to manifest faith and others do not?" Prabhupada replied that it is because of purity. Another devotee volunteered, "Oh, you mean from past lives and pious activities?" Prabhupada said that if we have purity, we acquire more faith and knowledge. We must begin, however, with faith. "Because he is faithful, therefore I help him to get knowledge. Again you come to that."
Disciple: Blind faith is the belief that...
We needn't be intimidated by someone saying that faith is only for religionists. Everyone lives in this world on faith; it's only a matter of where one's faith is placed.
The difficulty for aspiring devotees is that so much of the depths of spiritual life is beyond any material experience we may have, and usually beyond our spiritual experience. What else can we do but accept the truths on faith? Our lack of faith, however, tends to stem from our lack of experience. For example, we may be willing to say that we have faith in the scriptures, but at the same time we may think that scriptural statements describe extremely ideal conditions we will never attain. That shows a lack of faith in ourselves and in the scriptural statements that declare that we can attain such states.
We may also have a lack of faith in the power of the institution to elevate us, or some other lack of faith. Our faith can usually be measured. It is not unlimited. That measurement becomes most obvious to us whenever our faith is tested in some way. Then we can take personal inventory.
In the Gospel, Jesus says that those who have faith can move mountains. Some people try to prove their faithfulness by pointing to supposed miracles in their lives—God responding to their prayers. But that's a fruitive approach to God, as if we are asking God to prove His power by something that can be measured in this world. Rather, devotees wish to have a simple faith in Krsna's existence and in His love for us. We want a simple faith that Krsna accepts our service. This faithful dimension should be our reality, regardless of our material prosperity or lack of it. We always trust that Krsna's desires are being carried out in our lives.
Dealing With Doubts
How to reach such faith? Perhaps we think it's a weakness to be honest about how much faith we may not yet have. But honesty is the only recourse for those trying to increase their faith. We have to begin with who we are and what we can accept and work forward from there. If we refuse to be honest, we will develop an official kind of faith, a complacent faith, a thoughtless faith. We won't feel the fervor that will drive us forward in spiritual life, but will simply be going through the motions.
If we have any conscience or self-awareness at all, we should ask, "How am I receiving this knowledge? Is it putting me to sleep? Is it inspiring me? Do I really believe it?" The initial faith that brought us to the practices of Krsna consciousness shouldn't become a memory upon which we live.
To be without faith is a sign of weakness. Prabhupada once went to an ecumenical meeting with a few priests.
One of the priests asked him, "Don't you ever have doubts?"
Prabhupada replied, "Doubts? Of course not. How can I be teaching if I have doubts?"
The priests were disturbed by his reply; they wanted him to admit to doubts because they had doubts. A fixed person will not have doubts. We may have to acknowledge that we are not so fixed.
Different points become items of doubt for different people. Some people left the Hare Krsna movement when Prabhupada said that we did not go to the moon. Others may not have left, but remained unable to accept his statements. Faith is something that must be worked out against integrity. Sometimes, revealing our doubts to someone can help us find that balance.
Doubts are not useful to our Krsna consciousness. Hayagriva Dasa once wrote an essay about doubt that Prabhupada titled "Doubt, Thy Name is Bondage."
One obvious way to combat doubt and to strengthen faith is to cultivate knowledge. Faith combined with knowledge can lift us from unsure believer to someone fixed in his convictions. By expressing our doubts and then opening ourselves to scripture and saintly persons, we can often find a satisfying response. We don't have to allow our doubts to intimidate us.
Also, we should not think that our acceptance or rejection of certain points in the scripture either validates them or invalidates them. They are true on their own merit. Prabhupada said, "You may believe or not believe; that is a different thing." Part of faith is recognizing our smallness in the face of truth.
As Prabhupada stated, faith begins with the tongue, with chanting and taking prasadam. Faith does not begin with the mind, as most people may think, or even with the eyes. By simply engaging the tongue in Krsna's service, we can understand the highest truths, because developing faith is not like developing a muscle. We make our endeavor to attain it, but ultimately faith is a gift of God. When we prove our sincerity, we are given more of it, along with spiritual knowledge.
I once wrote to Prabhupada that I had realized that to understand the Bhagavad-gita I needed more than scholarship. The knowledge would come to me by more mystical transference. Until Krsna blessed me, I would not be able to understand it.
Prabhupada replied, "You are a sincere devotee, so Krsna will give you the intelligence to understand Bhagavad-gita."
Faith comes from sincerity.
But it's not only supramundane. Even psychologically when we act in Krsna consciousness and receive good results from our practices, we feel the blossoming of faith, trust, and loyalty.
Experience in Krsna consciousness includes the testing of faith. Faith, it seems, is usually tested either when we face adverse conditions—pain, danger, duress, grief—or we are tempted by maya. At such times a devotee may find himself thinking, "Krsna, why did you do this to me?" To come out with a mood of acceptance—that Krsna is acting only for our own benefit—means we have passed the test.
Enthusiasm And Faith
Faith thrives in an environment of enthusiasm. Without enthusiasm we feel dull. Our same of devotion is low. Faith is not simply a belief in God; it is an active interest to hear about Him. A pure devotee will want to hear about and serve Krsna endlessly. The more enthusiasm our faith has, the stronger it will become. We are not interested only in nominal belief, as if our faith were a personal opinion with little relevance to our lives. We want burning conviction.
Therefore, our enthusiasm has to be based on love and not on the results we receive from our service. If we serve and ostensibly fail in some way, our enthusiasm should not become dampened. To build enthusiasm we should associate with devotees who are enthusiastic. We must consciously place ourselves in situations that vitalize our Krsna consciousness. Faith shouldn't be something we once had when we accepted Krsna consciousness but haven't touched since. We need to go to its core.
Again we can turn to Prabhupada as an example: He was such a fighter that when he went out to spread Krsna consciousness but met only resistance, he became more Krsna conscious and more determined. His successes or failures never dampened his faith. He lived always in the reciprocation he received from Krsna, whatever that reciprocation was. We can learn to do the same.
Satsvarupa Dasa Goswami, one of Srila Prabhupada's first disciples, is a former editor of Back to Godhead and the author of many books on Krsna consciousness, including a six-volume biography of Srila Prabhupada.
For the chance to meet Lord Caitanya,
By Mathuresa Dasa
LORD Sri Krsna Caitanya Mahaprabhu, known in His youth as Nimai Pandita, entered the renounced order of life in February 1510, at the age of twenty-four. He left His home, family, childhood friends, lifelong companions, and loving followers in Navadvipa, Bengal, and made His headquarters five hundred miles to the south at Jagannatha Puri, on the Bay of Bengal, in the state of Orissa. His departure, though abrupt and without warning, only heightened His affectionate dealings with all of His Navadvipa devotees.
"My dear friends," He told a crowded farewell gathering at Advaita Acarya's house in Shantipura, "although I have suddenly accepted the renounced order, I still know that I shall never be indifferent to you. As long as I live, I shall never be able to neglect you or My loving mother."
Lord Caitanya's elderly mother, Sacidevi, had requested her son to reside at Puri. Consoling herself and the assembled devotees, she explained, "Jagannatha Puri and Navadvipa are like two rooms in the same house. Pilgrims are always traveling back and forth between the two, and this coming and going will help carry news of my Nimai."
For ten days Saci cooked for her son and all the devotees. The Lord dined with His devotees, and at night He chanted the holy names of Krsna and danced in their company. Both as friend and as spiritual master, He gave Himself freely, meeting with each of the devotees who had come to see Him from Navadvipa and other towns. Looking at everyone's face individually, He embraced each devotee warmly.
At last, with His mother and friends in tears at the house of Advaita Acarya, Sri Caitanya Mahaprabhu departed resolutely, accompanied by only four associates, and traveled on foot and by boat to Puri, arriving in March of 1510. In April the Lord held lengthy discussions with Sarvabhauma Bhattacarya, Puri's leading monist scholar, convincing the Bhattacarya to apply his great learning to the practice of loving devotion to the supreme person, Lord Krsna. In May, Lord Caitanya was on His way again.
The South Indian Tour
To the dismay of Sarvabhauma and many other new followers, who had known Him for only a matter of weeks, Lord Caitanya for the second time in four months left everything behind. Taking only one traveling assistant, He departed on a walking tour of South India, to Cape Comorin and back, visiting hundreds of temples and holy places over the next two years.
As the hours and days slowly passed in Jagannatha Puri and Navadvipa, the Lord's associates hungered for news of His travels and whereabouts. In their homes and on the streets they held congregational chanting of the holy names of Krsna, and they waited impatiently for the chance to see Him again.
Maharaja Prataparudra, the king of Orissa, was among Sri Caitanya Mahaprabhu's new admirers in Jagannatha Puri, even though he had never met the Lord. A member of the dynasty of the Ganga kings, Prataparudra was opulent and powerful, traveling his domain with a retinue of secretaries, ministers, soldiers, and officers, and living in palaces with his queens and servants. His kingdom extended from his capital in Cuttack south to Rajamahendri, where Ramananda Raya served as governor, and further down the coast to the area of modern Chennai, where Bhavananda Raya, Ramananda's father, was in charge.
Prataparudra later shifted his capital to Khurda, a few miles from Jagannatha Puri, and he was sometimes addressed as the king of Puri. As a pious ruler, he took a personal interest and direct hand in managing Puri's ancient Jagannatha Temple. Whenever he was in town he would daily visit the home of his priest, Kasi Misra, massage Kasi Misra's feet, and eagerly hear from him the details of the opulent worship of Lord Jagannatha. It is said that King Indradyumna, who established the Jagannatha temple thousands of years ago, took birth again in his own dynasty as King Prataparudra.
Eager to meet the Lord, Prataparudra called for Sarvabhauma Bhattacarya.
"I have heard from many people," the king told Sarvabhauma, "that an exalted saintly person has come from Bengal and shown you great favor. Now, being merciful upon me, please arrange for me to meet this great personality."
"What you have heard is true," Sarvabhauma replied, "but an interview is difficult to arrange. Sri Caitanya Mahaprabhu is very much detached from worldly affairs. Even in dreams he does not grant interviews to a king."
At this, Prataparudra was disappointed, but not surprised. Saintly persons as a rule negelected men too proud of their wealth and power. Prataparudra, however, was not fond of his royal position, and he was determined to meet Sri Caitanya Mahaprabhu.
"I would try, of course, to arrange a meeting," Sarvabhauma continued, "but the Lord has recently left to tour South India."
The news shocked and disappointed the king.
"Why has He left Jagannatha Puri?" he asked in great anxiety. "Why did you allow Him to leave? Why didn't you fall at His feet and beg Him to stay?"
"I tried very hard to keep Him here," Sarvabhauma explained, "but because He is the Supreme Personality of Godhead, Lord Krsna Himself, He is completely independent."
"You are a most experienced and learned scholar," the king told Sarvabhauma, "so when you address Sri Caitanya Mahaprabhu as Lord Krsna, I accept this as the truth. Please, when the Lord returns, I wish to see Him just once to make my eyes perfect."
Prataparudra joined the residents of Jagannatha Puri in anxiously awaiting the Lord's return from South India. While waiting, he received a letter from Ramananda Raya, who had just spoken at length with Lord Caitanya on the bank of the Godavari River. Impressed with Ramananda Raya's vast and intimate knowledge of the science of devotional service, the Lord wanted him to retire from goveernment work in Rajamahendri and join Him in Puri upon His return there. Though Ramananda Raya stood to lose a lucrative government post, he wrote to eagerly submit his resignation. Hearing of the Lord's desire from Ramananda's letter, King Prataparudra not only accepted Ramananda's request but also granted him a pension equal to his former salary so that he could serve the Lord without anxiety.
"Sri Caitanya Mahaprabhu is very merciful to you," the king wrote Ramananda Raya. "Therefore please solicit my meeting with Him without fail."
The Lord Returns To Puri
After two long years, Lord Caitanya's traveling assistant one day arrived in Puri to announce that the Lord had reached the nearby town of Alalanatha (Alarnath). The devotees in Puri were overjoyed and rushed to Alalanatha to greet the Lord, dancing along the way. In his capital at Cuttack, King Prataparudra soon heard the news and wrote to Sarvabhauma, again requesting an interview. The reply was not encouraging. Sarvabhauma wrote back that Lord Caitanya had refused a meeting. For a person in the renounced order, the Lord had insisted, meetly a worldly person like a king was as dangerous as drinking poison.
"My dear Bhattacarya," the Lord had warned, "if you should ever let another such request come from your mouth, you will never see Me again."
Sri Caitanya Mahaprabhu is the Supreme Personality of Godhead, Krsna Himself, in the role of His own devotee. Both as the Supreme and as a devotee, He was most mercifully disposed to all living entities, what to speak of a great devotee like Maharaja Prataparudra. Nevertheless, as a world teacher and a sannyasi, a person in the renounced order, He warned by His own behavior that pandering to a materialistic person is detrimental to spiritual life. Despite Sarvabhauma's recommendation, Lord Caitanya held firm, driving Maharaja Prataparudra to further take shelter of His servants.
Sarvabhauma Bhattacarya, afraid of the Lord's threat to leave forever, returned home to think carefully over the situation. Srila Prabhupada writes: "Lord Caitanya Mahaprabhu's activities were exhibited sometimes to reveal Him as the Supreme Personality of Godhead and sometimes to show Him as a devotee. Both kinds of activity are mysterious and appreciated only by pure devotees."
While Sarvabhauma was mulling over the matter, another letter arrived from Prataparudra. The king wrote: "Please appeal to all the devotees associated with Sri Caitanya Mahaprabhu and submit this petition on my behalf. By the mercy of all the devotees, one can attain shelter of the Lord. Without His mercy, my kingdom does not appeal to me. If Gaurahari, Lord Caitanya, will not show mercy to me, I shall give up my kingdom, become a mendicant, and beg from door to door."
In addition to soliciting the mercy of Lord Caitanya's associates in Puri, King Prataparudra again requested the help of Ramananda Raya, who had come to see him after relinquishing his duties in South India. Together they went to Jagannatha Puri, arriving in procession riding on horses and elephants along with their ministers and military commanders. Prataparudra went to visit the temple of Lord Jagannatha, while Ramananda Raya hurried with great pleasure to meet Sri Caitanya Mahaprabhu. Having resigned his post as a government diplomat, Ramananda Raya now turned his diplomatic talents to softening the Lord's heart towards Prataparudra.
Diplomacy in the politcal arena routinely entails duplicity and self interest, while in the field of devotional service diplomatic talents become an asset in assisting the Lord and His devotees. Although Lord Caitanya had firmly refused to see the king, the diplomacy of Ramananda Raya, Sarvabhauma Bhattacarya, and all the devotees would succeed in changing His mind. Devotees are always eager to recommend another devotee to the Lord or the spiritual master, and these recommendations are always successful.
"My dear Lord," Ramananda Raya informed Sri Caitanya Mahaprabhu, "when I told Prataparudra of Your order for me to retire, he was pleased to relieve me of my duties. Upon hearing Your name, he rose from his throne and embraced me. He granted me a full salary as a pension so that I could serve You without anxiety. King Prataparudra said, 'I am most fallen and unfit to see the Lord. I hope that in a future birth He will allow me an interview.' "
Lord Caitanya was pleased to hear of King Prataparudra's service to Ramananda Raya.
"My dear Ramananda Raya," He said, "Since you are the foremost devotee of Krsna, whoever loves you is certainly a very fortunate person. Because the king has shown so much love for you, Lord Krsna will certainly accept Him."
Lord Caitanya quoted a verse from the Adi Purana, where Lord Krsna tells Arjuna, "Those who claim to be My devotees are actually not My devotees. Those who are devotees of My servant are factually My devotees."
Sri Caitanya Mahaprabhu indicated that He too is more accessible through service to His servants than by direct service to Himself. While the Lord and His great devotees make themselves available to everyone, the link created by direct approach is never as strong or as intimate as the link forged by service to their servants. Srila Prabhupada calls this the psychology of "If you love me, love my dog," and it is present in all of us. Because we are part of the Supreme Lord and qualitatively one with Him, like Him we are most pleased and indebted when someone serves and pleases those who are dear to us. Even in dealing with an ordinary person, direct approach results in a comparatively formal relationship, whereas the indirect approach of pleasing a person's loved ones at once captures a person's heart. This phenome-non derives from the Supreme.
The Fault Of Being King
Prataparudra's service to Ramananda Raya pleased Sri Caitanya Mahaprabhu and assured the fulfillment of Prataparudra's dearmost desire to meet the Lord. Nonetheless, as a matter of form the Lord again refused the king an interview.
"Please see the king at least once," Ramananda Raya asked forthrightly.
"My dear Ramananda," the Lord replied, "how can you make such a request? A mendicant ruins himself in this life and the next by associating with a king. He loses all his spiritual credits for the next life. And in this life, as soon as the public finds a little fault in the behavior of a sannyasi, they advertise it like wildfire. A black spot of ink cannot be hidden on a white cloth."
"But my dear Lord," Ramananda respectfully protested, "You have delivered so many sinful people. This King Prataparudra is a servitor of Lord Jagannatha and Your devotee."
"The king certainly possesses good qualities," Lord Caitanya agreed, "but simply by taking the name 'king' he has ruined himself."
With Sri Caitanya Mahaprabhu's hard line unyielding, the unpleasant task of delivering the bad news to King Prataparudra again fell to Sarvabhauma Bhattacarya. Not only had Lord Caitanya held firm against Sarvabhauma and Ramananda Raya, but a group of devotees headed by Lord Nityananda had also failed to obtain an interview for the king.
Having arrived in Puri with Ramananda Raya, and having humbly enlisted the help of all the devotees, Prataparudra had good reason to be hopeful.
When Sarvabhauma came to see him, he asked, "Have the devotees submitted my petition to the Lord as I requested in my letter?"
"Yes," Sarvabhauma gently replied, "but the Lord has refused to see a king. He said that if He were asked again, He would definitely leave Jagannatha Puri."
This time Prataparudra's disappointment was boundless. Two years of waiting and submitting his requests appeared fruitless.
Distressed and forlorn, he cried, "Alas! Sri Caitanya Mahaprabhu has appeared to deliver all kinds of sinful persons. Has He decided to deliver everyone except a king named Prataparudra? Will He glance mercifully at everyone but me? If I do not receive Sri Caitanya Mahaprabhu's mercy, my body and my kingdom are useless."
"Do not worry," Sarvabhauma comforted the king. "Because of your determination, Sri Caitanya Mahaprabhu will definitely see you. Ramananda Raya's description of your love for Him has already changed His mind."
Sarvabhauma reminded Prataparudra that Rathayatra, the Festival of the Chariots, was only a little more than two weeks away, and he suggested a plan.
"On the day of the festival," he said, "the Lord will dance all day before the chariots in great ecstatic love. After dancing, He will rest in the Gundicha garden. At that time you should go there without your royal entourage, dressed as an ordinary man, and read to the Lord from Srimad-Bhagavatam about Lord Krsna's pastimes. Sri Caitanya Mahaprabhu will be so ecstatic from your reading that I am sure He will embrace you."
Resolving to follow Sarvabhauma's advice, the king felt transcendental happiness. Now he had not only the support and mercy of the devotees, but a plan as well. He was elated until he heard, three days later, that Sri Caitanya Mahaprabhu had suddenly left Puri alone and gone to Alalanatha. Lord Caitanya had happily viewed the annual bathing ceremony of Lord Jagannatha, after which Lord Jagannatha retires to seclusion for the two weeks before Rathayatra. Unable to bear not seeing Lord Jagannatha, Sri Caitanya Mahaprabhu had abandoned Puri.
Sarvabhauma and other devotees followed Lord Caitanya to Alalanatha while Prataparudra waited in anguish. How would they bring Sri Caitanya Mahaprabhu back to Puri as long as Lord Jagannatha was in seclusion? What could compete with the Lord of the universe, Krsna Himself, for Sri Caitanya Mahaprabhu's attention? Would Lord Caitanya return at all, or was this the start of another endless pilgrimage?
The Devotees From Bengal
Sarvabhauma soon arrived at Prataparudra's palace to allay the king's fears. Lord Caitanya had agreed to return to Jagannatha Puri after hearing that many of His devotees from Bengal were on their way to see Him. Having received news of the Lord's return from South India, they had set out on the five-hundred-mile journey from Navadvipa almost at once and would be arriving soon. Since last seeing the Lord during the ten-day festival at Advaita Acarya's house two years earlier, they had anxiously contemplated their reunion with Him, their spiritual master and dearest friend. While Sarvabhauma was reassuring King Prataparudra, a devotee named Gopinatha Acarya came to the palace and confirmed the news.
"About two hundred devotees are coming from Bengal," Gopinatha Acarya said to Sarvabhauma. "All of them are greatly elevated and specifically devoted to Sri Caitanya Mahaprabhu. They have already arrived on the bank of Lake Narendra and are waiting there. I need to make arrangements for their lodging and meals."
King Prataparudra jumped at the chance to serve Lord Caitanya's intimate friends and devotees.
"I shall give orders to the temple manager to arrange everyone's residential quarters and prasada," he promised.
Then, turning to Sarvabhauma with excitement, the king said, "Please show me, one by one, these Bengali devotees of Sri Caitanya Mahaprabhu."
"Actually I do not know any of them either, although I would like to," Sarvabhauma replied. "Let us go up on the roof of the palace with Gopinatha Acarya. He knows every one of the Bengali devotees and will identify them for us."
From the roof of Prataparudra's palace Gopinatha Acarya began to point out the devotees. He identified Advaita Acarya, Srivasa Pandita, Gadadhara Pandita, Vakresvara Pandita, and Haridasa Thakura, while his two companions craned to see. All the arriving devotees were chanting and dancing as they approached the palace from Lake Narendra on their way to see Lord Caitanya.
"Here are Vasudeva Datta and Sivananda Sena," Gopinatha Acarya continued. "And here also are Govinda Ghosa, Madhava Ghosa, and Vasudeva Ghosa and the residents of Kulina-grama, and the residents of Khanda."
Gopinatha Acarya went on and on, naming the Bengali devotees and describing their qualities and their service to Sri Caitanya Mahaprabhu.
"How many names shall I speak to you?" he asked. "All the devotees you see here are associates of Sri Caitanya Mahaprabhu, who is their life and soul."
An associate of the Sri Caitanya Mahaprabhu is just what King Prataparudra wanted to be. Here were friends and disciples from the Lord's childhood and youth, as well as older devotees who had known the Lord since His birth and had known His parents before that. Prataparudra absorbed himself in watching their arrival and in hearing their voices as they chanted the holy names.
Srila Prabhupada comments: "One who is intelligent understands that all the personal associates and devotees of Sri Caitanya Mahaprabhu are ever liberated. One should not think that because Sri Caitanya Mahaprabhu was personally present five hundred years ago, only His associates were liberated. Rather, Srila Narottama Dasa Thakura says that anyone is a liberated associate if he acts on behalf of Sri Caitanya Mahaprabhu. Simply by accepting the associates of Sri Caitanya Mahaprabhu as ever liberated, one can very easily go back home, back to Godhead."
Maharaja Prataparudra was astonished at the brightness of the Bengali devotees.
"I have never seen such an effulgence," he said. "It is like the brilliance of millions of suns. Nor have I ever heard the Lord's names chanted so melodiously."
As king of Jagannatha Puri, Prataparudra had heard the congregational chanting of the holy names performed by the hundreds and thousands of pilgrims arriving in Puri from all parts of the world. He was not a newcomer to the chanting of Hare Krsna, but these followers of Sri Caitanya Mahaprabhu surpassed everyone in their ecstatic performance of kirtana and in their attractive personal features.
"Such are the symptoms of pure devotees when they are chanting," Srila Prabhupada explains. "All pure devotees are as bright as sunshine, and their bodily luster is very effulgent. If a devotee sticks strictly to the principles governing Vaisnava behavior, his bodily luster will naturally be attractive, and his singing and chanting of the holy names of the Lord will be effective."
"The transcendental sweetness of their voices," Sarvabhauma informed the king, "is a special creation of Lord Caitanya known as prema-sankirtana, or congregational chanting in love of Godhead. Sri Caitanya Mahaprabhu has descended to teach that the real religious principle for this age of Kali is the chanting of the holy names of Lord Krsna."
Srila Prabhupada writes: "The members of the International Society for Krishna Consciousness should go to India and perform sankirtana congregationally. This will attract the attention of all the important personalities in India, just as the beauty, bodily luster, and sankirtana performance by the associates of Sri Caitanya Mahaprabhu attracted the attention of Maharaja Prataparudra. The associates of Sri Caitanya Mahaprabhu were unlimited during the Lord's presence on this planet, but anyone who is pure in life and devoted to the mission of Sri Caitanya Mahaprabhu is to be understood as a nitya-siddha [liberated] associate of the Lord."
From the rooftop of his palace, King Prataparudra noticed further unique qualities of the Bengali devotees. Practically all other pilgrims, the king knew, followed many regulations when arriving in Puri or any holy place. Pilgrims to Puri would normally fast for a day, shave their heads clean, bathe in the ocean, and then visit the temple of Lord Jagannatha. But the devotees of Lord Caitanya were rushing to the Lord's residence at Kasi Misra's house, passing the main gate of the Jagannatha temple along the way. For Maharaja Prataparudra, accustomed as he was to the age-old traditions of Puri, and responsible as he was for their maintenance, this was a potentially alarming sight.
"Instead of visiting the temple of Lord Jagannatha, all the devotees are running toward the residence of Sri Caitanya Mahaprabhu," Prataparudra remarked with surprise. "And Vaninatha, the son of Bhavananda Raya, has gathered seven men to carry a huge quantity of delicious maha-prasada to Kasi Misra's house. Why isn't everyone fasting, shaving, and so on?"
"This is spontaneous love," Sarvabhauma explained. "All the devotees are very anxious to meet Sri Caitanya Mahaprabhu after long separation. And understanding that the devotees were coming, the Lord called for quantities of prasada. When Sri Caitanya Mahaprabhu is distributing prasada with His own transcendental hand, who will bother with fasting and other regulations? First the devotees will meet Sri Caitanya Mahaprabhu and then take Him with them to see Lord Jagannatha. When one is inspired by the Lord from within the heart, he does not care for ordinary regulations and social customs."
After watching Sri Caitanya Mahaprabhu's Navadvipa devotees rush to meet their Lord, friend, and spiritual master, King Prataparudra came down from the roof of his palace. He called for Kasi Misra and the temple manager and told them to provide comfortable living arrangements for everyone.
Hearing His devotees arrive, Sri Caitanya Mahaprabhu left Kasi Misra's house to meet them on the road. He embraced each one, inviting them into the house, where He continued to offer attention and respect to each devotee individually. Before lunch, which He served with His own hand, Lord Caitanya and His guests bathed in the sea, and afterwards all the devotees went to rest at the residences provided by King Prataparudra and Kasi Misra. In the evening they came again to meet Sri Caitanya Mahaprabhu at Kasi Misra's house and went with Him to visit the temple of Lord Jagannatha, where Lord Caitanya began congregational chanting of Hare Krsna. It was the Navadvipa devotees' first kirtana with Sri Caitanya Mahaprabhu since their meeting at Advaita Acarya's house two years earlier. The chanting, accompanied by eight drums and thirty-two pairs of cymbals, was tumultuous and lasted for several hours, the Lord and His devotees dancing in ecstasy and astonishing all the residents of Puri, who came running to see.
King Prataparudra too heard the uproarious kirtana and returned to the roof of his palace to watch and listen as night began to fall. Earlier in the day he had first noticed the sweet voices of the Navadivpa devotees as they had arrived in Puri and disappeared towards Kasi Misra's home. Now, looking down again from his rooftop, he was further astonished to see these eternal associates ecstatically chanting and dancing with Sri Caitanya Mahaprabhu in their midst. How they must be enjoying His association after so much time apart!
As the kirtana ended, Maharaja Prataparudra watched the devotees return with Sri Caitanya Mahaprabhu to Kasi Misra's house to again honor prasadam, and the fortunate king's anxiety to join their company increased without limit.
In the next issue, King Prataparudra meets the Lord.
Mathuresa Dasa, a disciple of Srila Prabhupada, has written many articles for BTG. He and his wife, Gangagati Devi Dasi, and their four children live in Alachua, Florida.
6: Vandanam—Turning to Prayer
God is a person, and out of His infinite kindness
By Dvarakadhisa Devi Dasi
In the Srimad-Bhagavatam, the devotee Prahlada Maharaja, a great spiritual authority, says, "Hearing and chanting about the transcendental holy name, form, qualities, paraphernalia, and pastimes of Lord Visnu [Krsna], remembering them, serving the lotus feet of the Lord, offering the Lord respectful worship..., offering prayers to the Lord, becoming His servant, considering the Lord one's best friend, and surrendering everything unto Him (in other words, serving Him with the body, mind, and words)—these nine processes are accepted as pure devotional service. One who has dedicated his life to the service of Krsna through these nine methods should be understood to be the most learned person, for he has acquired complete knowledge.i Here we continue our series on the nine processes of bhakti-yoga, or devotional service to the Lord.
PRAYER, OR vandanam, is the sixth of the nine processes of devotional service. An intensely personal process, it may also be the most universal, for prayers fill the traditions of religions and cultures of the world, creating our most ancient ties and our most common language. Scriptures are filled with prayers—prayers that become our friends and companions for life. Nearly everyone has felt the comfort of a childhood prayer, or the companionable stir of belonging when familiar prayers are quoted.
Prayer is often the very first way children learn about God. Parents teach their children simple prayers for bedtime or mealtimes. These early prayers teach children much about the way to approach the Lord. There are simple prayers of gratitude, prayers for the welfare of loved ones, and, of course, prayers for some coveted desire to be fulfilled. Childhood prayers often express fear of the wicked or of God's wrath. They set up theological principles, such as eternal heaven and hell, that shape the behavior of entire cultures.
While each of us has a unique encounter with the world, prayer invites communication that supersedes material circumstances. Prayer in its most lovely form reawakens our deepest, most primal sentiments and longings. Prayer articulates knowledge that seems to arise from somewhere beyond this life's recollections; that is why the words from a prayer written centuries ago can often feel like the most sincere expression of our own spiritual longing.
Prayer Of Distress
Prayer is often prompted by suffering. According to the Bhagavad-gita, God accepts such prayers, even though they're centered on our own pleasure rather than God's. A delightful story from the Srimad-Bhagavatam tells why.
A magnificent elephant named Gajendra was traveling with his herd when he become tired and thirsty. They stopped at a lake, where they enjoyed playing in the water. Deep within the lake, however, lived a crocodile of great strength. The crocodile caught Gajendra's leg in his mighty jaws, and despite Gajendra's own massive power and the assistance of his elephant herd, Gajendra was unable to free himself.
They fought for a long time. Slowly, Gajendra's strength began to wane, while the crocodile, a creature of the water, stayed strong in his element. As Gajendra saw his death approaching, he realized that no one could truly save him except the Supreme Lord. From deep within the elephant's being arose the words to a prayer learned in a former life, and he sang it out with devotion. Moved by the pure-hearted song of surrender, Krsna, the Supreme Lord, appeared and killed the crocodile.
What attracted Lord Krsna to this elephant? Was it the incredible sight of an elephant reciting a prayer? Was it the prayer itself, a long catalogue of Krsna's glories, that brought Him to the scene?
Neither of these things are truly compelling to the Supreme Lord. After all, prayers are recited in His honor always and everywhere. But the astonishing feature of Gajendra's prayer was that it was uttered with pure realization. Gajendra could see that his triumphant reign as elephant master was just a temporary role in the world. His eternal role was in relationship to the Lord, and when Gajendra realized this, he was inspired within his heart with words of glorification. The point was not that he knew the prayer and used it to remove himself from an ugly predicament, but that he felt the prayer, and sang it with full love.
Often prayers have expectations attached. After all, what's the point of communicating with the Lord of the universe if we can't freely express our desires? If we live with the consciousness of God's omnipotence, then praying for what we want can feel natural. But think of all those prayers—for good weather, for money, for miraculous cures—and consider how impossible it is to fulfill all of them at once. As Srila Prabhupada pointed out, during World War II the wives of the German soldiers were praying for the safe return of their husbands, and the wives of the British soldiers were praying for the safe return of their husbands. In a war, how can everyone be satisfied?
Sometimes we are blessed with the answer to our prayers, and sometimes we are blessed by the apparent rejection of our prayers. Sometimes our prayers are answered, but we cannot recognize Lord Krsna's response. How does Krsna decide which requests to grant? How do we react when He seems to ignore our prayers, even when our situation becomes quite desperate?
On one level, the answer is complex, fraught with karmic consequences and lessons for our own good, just as a parent denies the child pleasures that could bring the child danger or pain. Think how often, in retrospect, we are grateful that God did not grant the answer to our prayers? Good thing, we later reflect, that we lost that job. Good thing the one we loved didn't love us back. Saved from our own short-sightedness, God rescued us by ignoring our pleas.
But sometimes our losses are so tremendous that we can find no silver lining, no reason to explain Krsna's negligence. How can it ever be okay to lose a child? How can it be okay to waste away slowly from a painful disease? When tragedies like these enter our lives, as they do in this world of unpredictable misery, we often turn to prayer with an unimagined intensity. And often there is no relief from the pain, no sign that Krsna is listening, or caring. It's hard not to let the seeds of anger and doubt season our relationship with Krsna when He seems to be deliberately destroying all that we love.
But that may be His point. We love the people and things of this world so deeply. And while this love is natural, it must be held in perspective. Love, in its most pure and satisfying form, is meant for Krsna. We are most our true selves, most our joyous selves, when that love for God is fully awake in our beings, when we give and receive love from others in this world as part of our larger purpose of loving Him. This, of course, is not a small realization, and it is impossible to superficially adopt. But from time to time the Lord may bring it out through apparent tragedy. It certainly doesn't feel like a blessing, but it is nothing less than the chance to turn to Him who loves us best.
Nothing I've ever read illustrates the relationship of prayer and suffering better than the prayers of Queen Kunti. She and her family were fortunate to be with Lord Krsna, who helped them endure death and separation of loved ones, financial ruin, and humiliation. Finally, when their trials were over, Krsna prepared to leave. Kunti prayed, "Let our sufferings come again, for when we see them, we see You, and then our birth and death are through." Later she prayed, "Please cut the ropes of my attachment to my family so my love can flow to You alone, like the Ganges to the sea." Most of us would be reluctant to offer such prayers, but not the fearless Queen Kunti!
Prayer, then, is a reflection of our realization and our unique relationship with Krsna. Prayer is everything from our most intimate conversations with the Lord in the heart to the universal expressions of praise and gratitude echoing through time. It is not a language of words, but a language of heart. Beautiful prayers with no feeling mean nothing to God; the beauty of a prayer, however articulated, is in its sincerity.
Find your own most beautiful prayers, and offer them with courage.
"O son of Maharaja Nanda [Krsna], I am Your eternal servitor, yet somehow or other I have fallen into the ocean of birth and death. Please pick me up from this ocean of death and place me as one of the atoms at Your lotus feet."
Sri Caitanya Mahaprabhu
"O Lord Mukunda [Krsna], I bow down my head to Your Lordship and respect-fully ask You to fulfill this one desire of mine: that in each of my future births I will, by Your Lordship's mercy, always remember and never forget Your lotus feet."
"O Krsna, I offer my obeisances unto You because You are the original personality and are unaffected by the qualities of the material world. You are existing both within and without everything, yet You are invisible to all."
Srimati Kunti Devi
"O all-powerful one, I desire no boon other than service to Your lotus feet, the boon most eagerly sought by those free of material desire. O Hari [Krsna], what enlightened person who worships You, the giver of liberation, would choose a boon that causes his own bondage?"
"O my Lord, persons who smell the aroma of Your lotus feet, carried by the air of Vedic sound through the holes of the ears, accept Your devotional service. For them You are never separated from the lotus of their hearts."
"O son of Vasudeva [Krsna], obeisances to You, within whom all living beings reside. O Lord of the mind and senses, again I offer You my obeisances. O master, please protect me, who am surrendered unto You."
Dvarakadhisa Devi Dasi is a frequent contributor to Back to Godhead. She lives with her husband and daughter in Gainesville, Florida.
"Philosophy and Religion
Here we conclude an exchange between His Divine Grace A. C. Bhaktivedanta Swami Prabhupada and a television interviewer. It took place in Gainesville, Florida, on July 29, 1971.
Srila Prabhupada: You are concerned about the relationship between one man and another man. But if the central point is missing, then there is practically no relationship. For instance, if you are American and another man is American, both of you feel some relationship, because the center is America. In the same way, unless both of us understand God, the central point, you cannot understand what I am, nor can I understand what you are. So we have to first of all reestablish our lost relationship with God; then we can talk of universal brotherhood. Otherwise, there will be discrimination.
For instance, in your country, or any country, a "national" means a man born in that land. Is it not? But humans do not take the animals as nationals. Why do the animals have no right to be regarded as nationals? That is imperfect knowledge. There is no God consciousness; therefore, they think only the human born in this land is a national—not others.
Interviewer: That is not necessarily based on religious principles, of course.
Srila Prabhupada: That is a philosophical principle.
Srila Prabhupada: And religion without philosophy is sentimentality.
Interviewer: Don't you think there are very good reasons for the existence of these rules and regulations in this respect?
Srila Prabhupada: Yes. The rules and regulations of society must be established on the basis of philosophy. Otherwise, the whole thing is sentimentality. Defective. Religion without philosophy is sentimentality—and philosophy without religion is mental speculation. Philosophy and religion should be combined. Then the situation will be perfect.
Interviewer: I think that in this . . . in this part of the world—in the Western world, at least as much as I am aware of it—we do place a good deal of emphasis on religion.
Srila Prabhupada: Everything should be based on philosophy.
Interviewer: Well, as to religion, what I would like to highlight, what I would like to emphasize, is that we place a good deal of emphasis on religion in the way it gets one man to deal with another man. The ethic of religion. Now, in the Krsna consciousness movement . . .
Srila Prabhupada: One moment. We must be clear.
Interviewer: Beg your pardon?
Srila Prabhupada: We are not concerned about how one man deals with another man.
Interviewer: Not as part of your Krsna consciousness movement?
Srila Prabhupada: No, no.
Interviewer: Because we . . .
Srila Prabhupada: No. This is not important, because we know, as soon as one understands how to deal with God, he'll automatically deal with other men very nicely.
Interviewer: But, you know, let's take the Christian religion, for an example.
Srila Prabhupada: I do not know.
Interviewer: You know the Ten Commandments, for example.
Srila Prabhupada: Yes. Yes.
Interviewer: There is a heavy emphasis in the Ten Commandments on the relationships between one human being and another, you know. "Thou shalt not kill." "Thou shalt not steal." You know. That sort of thing.
Srila Prabhupada: But Jesus Christ never said that "Thou shalt not kill" protects only human beings. Where is the evidence? Jesus Christ never said "Thou shalt not kill" protects only human beings. Thou shalt not kill any animals, either.
Interviewer: Any life.
Srila Prabhupada: Do not take any life. That is religion.
Interviewer: It has never been interpreted that way.
Srila Prabhupada: You have interpreted it the wrong way. But Jesus affirmed the commandment "Thou shalt not kill." He never said, "Thou shalt not kill human beings." Why do you interpret in that way?
Interviewer: How would I recognize a true follower of the Krsna consciousness movement by his behavior? What would his traits be? What would his outward expressions be?
Srila Prabhupada: Yes. Yes. He would be a very perfect gentleman. That's all. You would not be able to find any fault in him. That is Krsna consciousness, perfect Krsna consciousness. Therefore, it is stipulated not to eat meat.
Interviewer: Not to eat meat?
Srila Prabhupada: Correct. And therefore, there is a prohibition against illicit sex. Therefore, there is a prohibition against intoxication. A Krsna conscious person does not smoke, even—what to speak of other intoxication. And therefore, there is a prohibition against indulging in gambling. So if people can observe these four rules and regulations, they will become perfect men. Simple.
Interviewer: Or women, I presume.
Srila Prabhupada: Oh, men or women.
Interviewer: Men or women?
Srila Prabhupada: Anyone.
Interviewer: There is a place for women in Krsna consciousness too, isn't there?
Srila Prabhupada: Men and women have got the same right. For instance, we are getting married boys and girls as our disciples. They are following the same principles. The same principles. These are the four pillars of perfect life. Now, if we indulge in those sinful things—illicit sex, meat-eating, intoxication, and gambling—then those become the four pillars of sinful life. And if we take the sinful things away, then the prohibitions become the pillars of perfect life.
Interviewer: Now I would like to ask you one more question, and I would like to ask you to end the program by chanting your mantra of Hare Krsna. One more question, though. In the six years that you have been in this country, in the United States, have you been encouraged or discouraged?
Srila Prabhupada: I am encouraged.
Interviewer: Encouraged? Why?
Srila Prabhupada: Because so many devotees are coming daily.
Interviewer: "So many? You say so many. You know, we have maybe—what?—two dozen people sitting here.
Srila Prabhupada: We have got sixty centers.
Interviewer: There are roughly two hundred ten million Americans.
Srila Prabhupada: But when you sell diamonds, you cannot expect that everyone will purchase. There must be bona fide customers for diamonds. You cannot expect that diamonds are going to be purchased by everyone among the mass of people. You cannot expect it.
Interviewer: Do you in general approve of this society, or do you have major complaints about it—the American society that you now live in?
Srila Prabhupada: I have no complaint. These boys and girls—they are very nice. I am, rather, encouraged that these boys and girls are so much inquisitive about Krsna. So it is the best field for this movement, the best field anywhere. But anyway, these boys and girls—I can understand they were hankering after something nice. They were frustrated. So now they have got the things they have been hankering after, and they're coming to this movement.
Interviewer: All right. I would like to thank you very sincerely for giving us a very brief insight into the teachings of the Krsna consciousness movement. May I ask you to ask your followers who are present here with us tonight to join you in the chanting of the mantra for just a minute to close out the program? Please?
Srila Prabhupada: Oh, yes. We can chant.
"Amid the combat wreckage of yesterday and the governmental corruption of today, Lord Caitanya's sankirtana movement stands tall, spiritually strong."
By Devamrta Swami
KIEV, THE CAPITAL of Ukraine, was the gateway to another dimension. Never before had I experienced this part of Europe free from the USSR—it had been shackled during my previous nerve-shattering years there. Leaving the courtesy and efficiency of British Airways behind, our party of three groped our way through the hour's worth of primitive bureaucracy and outer space known as Ukrainian immigration and customs. Although the arriving passengers were few, the pointless procedures and delays were many.
The past and present of the tract of land known as the Ukraine is a tale of both bad karma and superb bhakti. Horrendous wars and persecutions have mangled the past. Now, under the guise of democracy, organized crime controls the material present. Amid the combat wreckage of yesterday and the governmental corruption of today, Lord Caitanya's sankirtana movement stands tall, spiritually strong. Prabhupada's ISKCON is healthy and dynamic here.
About sixty-five million souls occupy human bodies in Ukraine. The main city, Kiev, holds about two million of them. Would I see the people free from the brutal chains of the East's Marxism/atheism, now only to suffer the toxic fumes of the West's consumerism and pop culture? Choose your poison, but at least the free-market/democratic style of maya in the West usually allows us to spread Krsna consciousness—that is, while its hedonism gradually destroys the inner fiber of the people.
Riding through the city from the international to the domestic airport, we bounced over an endless stream of potholes. Observing the surroundings, I could understand that the flood of Western glamor and glitter—engulfing other former communist countries—had definitely passed Ukraine by. Gray, shoddy, and disheveled, Kiev still looks like a typical East-bloc city, though the communist empire collapsed more than a decade ago.
The Ukrainian devotees driving us, however, were as shiny and sweet as a rasagulla fresh off the Lord's plate. Because I had to board a domestic flight to Odessa that same evening and I hadn't eaten all day, the devotees brought lunch prasadam for us to savor somewhere along the way.
Searching amid the drab streets and broken roads for a scenic spot for lunch, we finally just pulled over alongside the main route to the airport. I guess time was running out. On a ragged spot of weeds and grass, at a safe distance from the all-pervading roadside trash, we eagerly tasted the Lord's mercy. Never mind the dilapidated trucks and buses with ancient engines roaring a few feet away from our meal. And we ignored the smell of thick black diesel smoke that hung over our picnic site. This late lunch was our first taste of Ukrainian bhakti—and it was triumphant.
Air Travel Ukrainian Style
Four hours after I landed in Kiev, I was on my way south to Odessa. (Dave and Adrian would follow, by overnight bus.) Bouncing in a small, beat-up propeller plane—the official domestic flight to a major city—I was happy that in my first four hours in the country we only had to pay bribes twice. The first time, on the way to the airport, a traffic cop hit up our devotee driver "for speeding." No ticket, no receipt, of course. Just hand over some cash.
The second, at the wooden bench they called the check-in counter, the airlines lady commanded that I could take my small carry-on bag with me only by paying "a small supplement." Dave and Adrian changed money to handle the bribe, as the local devotees apologized profusely: "Our country is poor; the people have to get money."
When the plane landed in Odessa, the checked baggage was waiting—not in the terminal, as you would expect, but underneath the plane. You were expected to haul all your checked luggage plus your carry-ons all the way across the tarmac to the "arrivals terminal"—a fence behind which people watched for their arriving friends and kin. Apparently customer service is not a factor in the airlines industry here. Somehow this frail body—wearied after almost two days of continuous flying from South America—rose to the challenge. Lugging all the luggage across the airfield, I reached the fence and the devotees.
With a devotional chorus of Hari bol! they eagerly grabbed my bags and escorted me to the car. Once inside, I collapsed. Contemplating the garlands they had placed on me, I remembered the famous verse from the Hari-bhakti-sudhodaya (3.11) about decorations for a dead body. Srila Prabhupada writes, "The purport is that sometimes when a friend or relative dies, especially among lower class men, the dead body is decorated. Dressed and ornamented, the body is taken in procession. That sort of decoration of the dead body has no actual value because the life force is already gone. Similarly, any aristocracy, any social prestige, or any advancement of material civilization without Krsna consciousness is as good as the decoration of a dead body."
The corpse resurrected the next morning at a devotee's house. A blissful sight greeted my waking eyes: My friends B. B. Govinda Swami and Bhakti Caitanya Swami lay peacefully at rest in the same room. I spent a jubilant day in Vaisnava merriment.
The next day, the annual Ukrainian ISKCON Festival by the Black Sea would begin. I went to bed early, determined to be well rested and ready for the main events—chanting and dancing. Also, I figured that the Ukrainian devotees didn't pay for my airfare just for a dead body to attract sympathy at the festival.
Six-Day Krsna Party
The site of the six-day jamboree was a kind of health resort—Ukrainian standard—overlooking the sea. You've heard of five-star hotels? I'd rate this place generously at no stars. But more than twelve hundred excited devotees—mostly from Ukraine, and a few from neighboring Belarus and Russia—eagerly piled through the front gate. They were ready to party—six intense days of hearing and chanting about Krsna.
Hearing and chanting in private certainly has its time, place, and function in our daily spiritual diet. But the scriptures explain that the taste, the rasa, intensifies during sankirtana: the congregational glorification of the Lord. Besides the standard morning program held at ISKCON temples everywhere, the festival was jammed with opportunities for deepening our attachment for the Lord.
Beginning at 10:00 A.M., seminars ran concurrently all day, with a long break for lunch. Bhakti Caitanya Swami gave "The Demons in Vraja-lilai; Prahladananda Swami presented topics from The Nectar of Devotion; Prabhavisnu Swami discussed Caitanya-caritamrta; Srutakirti Prabhu, Srila Prabhupada's personal servant for several years, delivered his memoirs to standing-room-only crowds. Niranjana Swami taught based on Prabhupada's letters in the Prabhupada-Siksamrta. Bhakti Vijnana Swami, the only Russian sannyasi, always drew big numbers. Needless to say, unlike all the other speakers, he did not require a translator. Bhakti Vikasa and B. B. Govinda Maharajas also held forth.
I presented "Vrndavana Through Uddhava's Eyes: A presentation of Vrndavana's sights, sounds, smells, inhabitants, and Krsna-lilas as seen and remembered by Lord Krsna's dear friend and advisor Sri Uddhava."
The twelve hundred guests, like eager shoppers at a large mall, went from seminar to seminar, sampling the variegated transcendental wares to their full delight.
After evening arati, devotees had a choice between bhajanas led by Bada Haridasa Prabhu and a multi-media slide show on the holy places, by Bhakti Caitanya Swami. I opted for Bada Hari's treasure chest of Vaisnava songs, since he is an old acquaintance from my Los Angeles days in the seventies. I hadn't seen him since then. Bada Hari knows seemingly countless songs and several tunes for each of them. Night after night for at least two hours after arati, and often more, Niranjana Swami played mrdanga, Bada Hari played harmonium and sang, and I chanted along vigorously and then danced with abandon whenever the wonderful bhajanas would spontaneously transform into maha-mantra kirtanas.
In Slavic countries, unlike the often excessively rationalist West, sentiments are considered serious business—a profound essence of life. Ukraine certainly was no exception. Bada Hari's Vaisnava bhajanas would play on the Ukrainian devotees' heart strings, and when the worship reached its peak, you could see their swollen hearts rise up from their chest to the head. As the ecstasy energy climbed past the level of their mouth and nose, their eyeballs would start to glisten and enlarge. Finally, upon reaching the brahma-randhra, the very top of the skull, their joyous hearts would soar out, to the spiritual world.
No one at the festival seemed to have minded that the first three days were without running water. The central pump at the resort broke down, so twelve hundred devotees carried water in buckets to their rooms, for showering and washing and cleaning.
After six days of this intense bhakti festival, I hit the road with Niranjana Swami, the local GBC [ISKCON Governing Body Commissioner], and Acutyapriya Dasa, the regional secretary of Ukraine, to visit temples and small centers.
By car we traveled south eight hours from Odessa to the Crimean peninsula, sticking out into the Black Sea above Turkey, and then back eight hours to Odessa, and then north eight hours to Kiev. The roads were horrible, but relishing one another's Vaisnava association, we were completely satisfied.
Everywhere in Ukraine the devotees' spirits were buoyant. I could see that because they had leaders who labored to care for them personally and to train them, and who were vigilant to protect the spontaneous missionary spirit, the idealism of Krsna consciousness was alive, well, and attracting huge numbers. The Ukrainian devotees were enthusiastic, genuine, and eager to sacrifice. Just to witness their humble yet gorgeous bhakti easily made all the austerities of traveling worthwhile. According to the European, American, or Australian standard, Ukraine is an economically downcast country, brimming with material inconveniences. Yet the devotees were, on the whole, vibrant and keen, armed with the unabashed charisma and camaraderie that makes Krsna consciousness so attractive—both to newcomers and oldtimers.
Bada Hari Prabhu, a householder and father, added the grhastha perspective to the visitors' insights. He was amazed to observe how the children and even the teenagers were wellbehaved and devotional. He raises two children in Alachua, Florida, and was shocked at the difference. His conclusion? Devoid of the opportunities for the high-tech sense gratification and economic hallucination that overwhelm devotee kids in America, the Ukrainian devotee kids, in their materially unappealing circumstances, had a much better chance at becoming Krsna conscious.
In a country of 65 million people, you have a community of 2,500 active devotees that is rapidly expand-ing. The Ukrainian lesson shows how dynamic bhakti can triumph in any circumstance.
Remember Chernobyl, the worst nuclear accident in history? You guessed right—it happened in Ukraine. Yet even amid such a karmic disaster area, I could see that good ISKCON leadership, a clear spiritual vision, loving care of the devotees, and dedication to Prabhupada's objectives can take you back to Godhead.
Let's follow Prabhupada's path, as he has given it to us from Bhaktisiddhanta, Bhaktivinoda, and the six Gosvamis. Then, through our attempts for pure devotion, even in this terrified world—America, Ukraine, England, or Australia—we can associate with Krsna.
His Holiness Devamrta Swami is based in Australia and Los Angeles. He travels regularly throughout South America and Russia.
Teaching 1—Seven Effects Of Chanting
Lord Caitanya tells of the purifying power of spiritual sound.
by Satyaraja Dasa
This continues a series on Lord Caitanya's Siksastaka, or "Eight Teachings." (The first installment was the Introduction, in the last issue.) The series has been adapted from lectures presented at the New York City Public Library to a group of students from Columbia University.
FROM THE VERY FIRST verse, you'll see that Caitanya Mahaprabhu immediately homes in on the importance of chanting the holy names. Before we explore the all-inclusive significance of spiritual sounds, we should understand the full potency of even material sounds, or vibrations that permeate the material sphere.
The importance of sound should not be underestimated. Sounds can totally change a person's perspective. All kinds of people rallied together and sang "La Marseillaise" during the French Revolution. "The Horst Wessel Song" fueled the dictatorship of Nazi Germany. "Buddy, Can You Spare a Dime" was the fireside song of the Great Depression. And "We Shall Overcome" unified the American civil rights movement. For every era, a song or a group of songs influence the day. For the Sixties we may think of the Beatles, Bob Dylan, Jimi Hendrix, Jefferson Airplane, the Grateful Dead.
Sound vibration is integral to our way of perceiving things, and sounds affect us in ways we know and even in ways we don't. We are all aware of the subliminal effects of sound. We commonly use sound for our own ends. Since we lean toward personal sense gratification, we tend to exploit sound. Powerful people can even start wars with sound, spreading propaganda by capturing radio, television, and newspapers.
Those who know exactly how to harness sound can get what they want out of life. If they're expert, they can easily motivate people, even control people, with the simplest sounds. Words incite riots. Advertisers rouse consumers to buy all kinds of things they don't really need. It's a great science—words are that powerful.
Indirect vocabulary, euphemisms—and then there are the buzz-words and catch-phrases, sounds meant to evoke a particular response. The science of words is really developed throughout the world, in various ways and for various purposes.
If the sounds we're accustomed to are that powerful, what then can be said of the sounds beyond our limited sphere of knowledge? If the expert manipulators of conventional sound can exploit—or, in some cases, help—the world to such a profound degree, perhaps there are sounds beyond our current limited reckoning that can take us further, sounds that can open up new vistas of possibility.
In fact, modern science tells us of sounds to which we have no access. For example, as human beings we can't perceive certain portions of the known vibratory spectrum. Although we're extremely sensitive to sound waves of about 1,000 to 4,000 cycles per second (cps), we're all but deaf to sound waves above 20,000 cps. Dogs and cats, on the other hand, can hear up to 60,000 cps, while mice, rats, whales, and dolphins can actually emit and receive sounds well over 100,000 cps.
So our senses are imperfect and limited. Indeed, of the sounds we can hear, are we really hearing them properly? How much escapes us? Modern science, then, can lead us to at least one inescapable conclusion about sound: We must admit our limitations in this area.
This all leads us to the central teaching of Caitanya Mahaprabhu, which centers on sound and its most profound dimensions. Basing His teaching on the ancient Vedic texts of India, He tells us, as do the proponents of modern science, that there are sounds that lie far beyond the purview of ordinary sense perception.
The sounds of which Caitanya Mahaprabhu speaks are spiritual sounds, called sabda-brahma, and they have the special potency to fully awaken us from the slumber of materialistic life. The Vedic literature holds that the common, unenlightened person is in a sleeplike state. The analogy is quite fitting: Until one wakes up to reality—abiding reality—one may appropriately be deemed asleep.
To further extend the analogy: The most common way to awaken someone is to make some sound. The other senses are inefficient in this regard. If a friend is sleeping and you want to wake him up, what's the first thing to do? You may dress yourself quite lavishly and with abundant decoration, but the sleeping person won't notice. You may even dress in "loud" colors, but they won't be loud enough to awaken your sleeping friend. No. It's clear: The most natural thing is to call out his name until he wakes up.
So this is Caitanya Mahaprabhu's method, and it is based on the ancient Vedic texts. The Vedic literature recommends various methods of God realization for different ages. In the Satya-yuga, millions of years ago, the method was meditation. The techniques of yoga and meditation employed by many people today were actually meant for Satya-yuga, when practitioners are said to have lived for many thousands of years. According to the original texts on yoga, it actually takes at least a thousand years to perfect this process. So it is not recommended for Kali-yuga, the current age, when we live one hundred years at most.
Then, in Treta-yuga, when natural commodities—gold, silver, all kinds of natural products of the earth—existed in abundance, before the environment was raped, thousands of years before the Industrial Revolution, the method of God realization was sacrifice. Great offerings were made to God. Then in Dvapara-yuga, temple worship became the recommended means of God realization.
But in this age, Kali-yuga, chanting is recommended. Caitanya Mahaprabhu taught:
harer nama harer nama
"In the age of Kali, there is no other way, no other way, no other way for spiritual progress than chanting the holy name, chanting the holy name, chanting the holy name of the Lord." This is further confirmed in Srimad-Bhagavatam, in the Twelfth Canto, where it is mentioned that whatever was achieved by meditation in Satya-yuga, sacrifice in Treta-yuga, and temple worship in Dvapara-yuga can be achieved in this age simply by chanting the holy name of the Lord. God's name is called tarak brahma nama, or "the name that helps one cross beyond the ocean of illusion." The eight verses of Lord Caitanya's teachings reveal the various spiritual levels one attains by chanting the holy name.
First I'll give these verses to you in the original Sanskrit, one by one, and then I'll give Srila Prabhupada's English translation. I'll try to explain them in the traditional Gaudiya Vaisnava way so that you can get a feel for the poetry and at the same time see the depth of knowledge that is there in these verses.
This is the first one:
"All glories to the Sri Krsna sankirtana, which cleanses the heart of all the dust accumulated for years and extinguishes the fire of conditional life, of repeated birth and death. This sankirtana movement is the prime benediction for humanity at large because it spreads the rays of the benediction moon. It is the life of all transcendental knowledge. It increases the ocean of transcendental bliss, and it enables us to fully taste the nectar for which we are always anxious."
Ceto-darpana means "the mirror of the mind." If you let a mirror sit for many years, a great amount of dust accumulates. Our unfortunate position is that for countless births we have enhanced our conditioned state, developing likes and dislikes for countless millennia. According to the Vedic tradition there are 8,400,000 species of life, and we desperately travel through each of them trying to reclaim our original, natural state of spiritual happiness.
We go through the different bodies, each equipped with a particular sensual strength, but none of these bodies is particularly satisfying. And nature is set up in such a way that this subtle point eventually becomes obvious to us, especially when we are evolved human beings, human beings with a spiritual perspective. Then, and only then, do we genuinely see the futility of trying to artificially squeeze pleasure out of material life.
Why artificially? Because material life is not natural for us—we are originally spiritual beings. There is an inherent difference between me and this table. That difference is the soul, the spiritual element, consciousness. So if I, a spiritual being, try to enjoy matter, I'm like a fish out of water, and eventually that becomes very clear. It is at this point, then, that I begin to pursue spiritual pleasure, which is of a higher quality, and, more important, it lasts. It has substance.
But to reach this point of awareness one requires marjanam, or "cleansing." So Caitanya Mahaprabhu says ceto-darpana-marjanam: We must clean the mind of materialistic conditioning. Then what happens? When you cleanse a mirror it can reflect whatever is actually there. So then you can see yourself—who you really are. And you can see God and your relationship with God. One who learns how to clean the mirror of the soul can see these things clearly.
The cleansing is done through the holy name of Krsna. Therefore Caitanya Mahaprabhu says, vijayate sri-krsna-sankirtanam: "All glories to the chanting of the holy name of Krsna." Why? Because this chanting is the only real cleansing process. One learns how to properly chant under the direction of a bona fide spiritual master. There are so many ways to perfect one's chanting. The genuine spiritual teacher will help the disciple avoid offenses to the holy name. It is a great science. If one chants the holy name properly, there are seven effects. Those are given in this verse by Lord Caitanya.
The first of the seven effects has already been mentioned: Chanting cleanses the mirror of the mind. Next, it stops the miseries of material existence. Caitanya Mahaprabhu compares the material world to mahadavagni, a great forest fire. This fire is completely extinguished—nirvapanam—by the chanting. That is the second effect of chanting.
Then Caitanya Mahaprabhu gets particularly poetic. He mentions the kairava, which is a special white lotus—sometimes described as a "transcendental lily"—that blooms only at night. You see, the lotus is the emblem of auspiciousness, and Caitanya Mahaprabhu is herein indicating that just as the moonshine brings forth the tender kairava, so also does the holy name spread the moonshine of good fortune and auspiciousness. That's the third effect one can expect by the proper chanting of Sri Krsna's name.
The fourth effect is vidya, or knowledge. Caitanya Mahaprabhu says vidya-vadhu-jivanam, which refers to Sarasvati, the goddess of learning. Lord Caitanya says that all knowledge comes to one who sincerely chants the holy name of the Lord. Chanting is the life and soul of all education. What is knowledge really worth if it does not lead to love of God? So, according to Caitanya Mahaprabhu, a truly sincere chanter has all knowledge, because he has realized the ultimate purport of learning: submission to the will of God.
Anandambudhi-vardhanam. The next few words tell us that sincere chanting can give the highest bliss. Whatever state of happiness you've attained, proper chanting can take you further. The word vardhanam means "increasing." It increases whatever bliss you may have. That is the fifth effect. This is very important because everyone wants to be happy. That's natural. But Caitanya Mahaprabhu's claim is that one can achieve a superior happiness—superior in quality and quantity—if one learns how to become absorbed in the holy name. It is everlasting and joyfully performed.
So Caitanya Mahaprabhu is beckoning us, challenging us. We should call His bluff and try it. We can only come out on top. We don't have to give up our material life. All we have to do is add the chanting to our lives. Then we can see if it actually offers the highest happiness.
The sixth outcome of chanting is that it gives a soothing effect, a cooling feeling. In other words, it gives relief from material life. And this leads to the seventh effect: prati-padam purnamrtasvadanam. It gives the full nectar at every step. Then: sarvatma-snapanam param. At that time one's whole existence becomes thoroughly bathed in transcendence.
So that's the sevenfold effect of chanting. No gaps. One feels a constant surge of spiritual pleasure. But one must become adept.
This is all in the first verse of Caitanya Mahaprabhu's Siksastaka prayers.
Satyaraja Dasa is a disciple of Srila Prabhupada and a regular contributor to BTG. He has written several books on Krsna consciousness, the latest of which is Gita on the Green: The Mystical Tradition Behind Bagger Vance. He and his wife live near New York City.
Kirtana with TKG
"Everybody Go Home."
Chuckles bounce around the room as Tamal Krishna Goswami teasingly announces the end of evening kirtana. It's 9:00 P.M. in Mayapur, and for the past two hours, two hundred devotees have been chanting together. Our host, Tamal Krishna Goswami (TKG to many), sits on the corner of a six-foot-square white mat with ten Godbrothers.
The 7:00 P.M. kirtana at TKG's has become popular. TKG orchestrates everything. Senior sannyasis take turns leading. Men, women, boys, and girls from India, Taiwan, Europe, and America pack the flat.
The chanting, sweet and focused, comes in timeless enchanting melodies. Electric failures turn lights and fans on and off. No matter—the chanters are in another dimension, beyond the complaints of a scrunched body in a muggy room. Powerful, penetrating waves of devotion bathe the chanters as they pour out their hearts to Krsna.
Departing guests each receive a sweet. TKG invites his Godbrothers to stay on for light prasadam. Relaxed, he talks about kirtana and his plans.
In pursuit of a doctoral degree in religious studies, TKG has missed the past six annual meetings in Mayapur of ISKCON's governing body (GBC), of which he is the senior member. He has excelled in his studies, winning numerous awards, publishing two books, and earning respect and admiration in the academic community for Srila Prabhupada. Now he's back in Mayapur.
TKG's life touches everything and everyone in ISKCON. He bought the first land in Mayapur. His loving disciples span the globe, from Taiwan to America, England to India. Devotees everywhere enjoy his books, dramas, and taped lectures. Now, fifty-five, and nearly a Ph.D., he's ready for his next service for Srila Prabhupada.
The next day, after the tedious GBC meetings, TKG says, "The GBC should all go to the Ganga together every day before lunch. We'd get more done. Then in the evening we should all come together for kirtana.i
That evening, the kirtana crowd outgrows his room.
TKG announces, "Tomorrow we'll move to the temple."
The following evening, in the temple, he's in his corner of the white sitting-mat with the usual guests, playing karatalas, eyes shut in concentration.
A day and a half later, TKG leaves this world in a car accident in Phuliya, a holy place where the saint HaridasaThakura used to chant Krsna's name 300,000 times a day. Shocked, his Godbrothers and disciples take his body for a final tour of Mayapur's holy places and inter him in the shadow of Srila Prabhupada's samadhi. Memorial events continue day and night. A wonderful unity prevails, as if TKG has disappeared from external vision and entered everyone's heart.
Lord Krsna allowed TKG to come back to Mayapur, to smile and talk and chant with his leading Godbrothers. And the Lord let them serve TKG a final time by taking him on parikrama and placing him in samadhi. Had he left this world at any other time or place, all this would have been impossible.
This dear Vaisnava has a new world to conquer in some other place. We are unexpectedly bereft of his friendship, wisdom, and kindness. May we remember his parting lesson: Kirtana in the association of loving devotees solves every problem. And someday, may you and I meet in TKG's room for kirtana.—Kalakantha Dasa
We are not the body; we are spiritual beings trapped in the body. Our real interest lies in understanding this simple fact.
His Divine Grace A. C. Bhaktivedanta Swami Prabhupada
There is no consideration of superior or inferior status due to social position in regard to worshiping Krsna. In worldly occupation there are different activities according to the different social division, which are due to superior and inferior grades of intelligence. There are no such distinctions in the process of devotional service.
Srila Bhaktivinoda Thakura
There is no death like infamy, there is no enemy like anger, there is no sin like criticizing others, and there is no intoxicating liquor like delusion.
Narada Purana 1.7.54
When relished with love in countless ways through service rendered constantly by the tongue, the nectar of Sri Krsna's name delights the heart. Who can describe the unequaled excellence of that nectar of Sri Krsna's holy name?
Messengers from Vaikuntha to Gopa-kumara
There is only one God for everyone. The Hindus and Muslims are different in many ways. Still, the truth is that the Koran and the Puranas describe the same one God. The one God is pure, eternal, undivided, unchanging, perfect, and complete. He lives in everyone's heart. As God gives them the idea, so everyone in the world acts. Following their own scriptures, all the people of the world speak of God's names and qualities. God knows everyone's nature. Anyone who attacks others attacks God Himself.
Srila Haridasa Thakura
If you cannot purify yourself by any endeavor whatsoever, then just go sit with the Vaisnavas and you will achieve all auspiciousness.
One should learn how to associate with the devotees of the Lord by gathering with them to chant the glories of the Lord. This process is most purifying. As devotees thus develop their loving friendship, they feel mutual happiness and satisfaction. And by thus encouraging one another they are able to give up material sense gratification, which is the cause of all suffering.