IN THIS ISSUE we visit "Krishna's Village of Peace," a cultural presentation that has become a prominent part of Poland's "Woodstock" festival, an annual summer gathering of hundreds of thousands of mostly young people. For this event, His Holiness Indradyumna Swami heads a festival team of more than five hundred devotees from around the world. For three days—late into the night—they enchant Poles with the richness of Krsna conscious art, song, dance, philosophy, drama, and cuisine.
One devotee who loved Krsna conscious festivals, and helped organize dozens of them, was Tribhuvanatha Dasa, who passed away a little over a year ago. Originally from Ireland, he helped bring Krsna culture not only to Great Britain, but also to east Africa and Arab countries of the Middle East. In this issue, friends and admirers pay homage to his life.
All those enriched by Krsna conscious festivals are indebted to His Divine Grace A. C. Bhaktivedanta Swami Prabhupada, who started holding public festivals in America in 1967. In "Glorification in the Highest Language," a distinguished Sanskrit scholar praises Prabhupada for his efforts and successes in delivering Krsna consciousness to countries around the world.
Hare Krsna.—Nagaraja Dasa, Editor
• To help all people discern reality from illusion, spirit from matter, the eternal from the temporary.
• To expose the faults of materialism.
• To offer guidance in the Vedic techniques of spiritual life.
• To preserve and spread the Vedic culture.
• To celebrate the chanting of the holy names of God as taught by Lord Sri Caitanya Mahaprabhu.
• To help every living being remember and serve Sri Krsna, the Personality of Godhead.
Source of Light
I want to thank you for the wonderful and inspiring article by Devamrta Swami, "When the West Loved India," in the September/October issue. It certainly was one of the best articles of its kind in many years. All of us who have accepted the Vedas as our own self, through the teachings of Srila Prabhupada, can certainly identify with the deep appreciation, to say the least, for the Vedic civilization of all the distinguished European and American personalities of that era. But the real merit of the article lies in showing how everything really has its origin in the Vedas. That is the way we understand them.
According to the Vedas themselves, the human race has its origin in them, because without their teachings we remain on the animal platform. The Veda alone, as identical with the Supreme, illuminates us as the spirit soul within these material bodies. Naturally we cannot but become spontaneously attracted toward the source of that illumination, the source of spiritual light, the Veda.
Vancouver, B.C., Canada
Concurring Biblical Teachings
I'm writing to say how much I enjoy reading Back to Godhead every two months. The July/August issue was particularly enjoyable, and I found the article "Prayerful Reading" particularly good. When I first came to sadhana it was through practicing the spiritual exercises of St. Ignatius, and one of the methods I used was similar to this form of prayerful reading. I am grateful for your returning me to this practice. I graduated onto the "Jesus Prayer" and now onto the beautiful maha-mantra, which this form of prayerful reading so complements.
In the same issue was the article about the three yogas, by Srila Prabhupada, and interestingly just before I read it I had been reading the following in the Holy Bible: "I thank you, Father, Lord of heaven and earth, because you have hid these things from the wise and prudent and revealed them unto babes . . . . All things are revealed to me by the Father; and no man knows the Son but the Father; nor does anyone know the Father except the Son, and the one to whom the Son will reveal him."
I felt this was close to what Srila Prabhupada was saying about devotional service being the way to know Krsna. It is only the Son (pure devotee) who can be in a relationship of love with God, and it is by the grace of the devotee that the Father of all is revealed.
Barnoldswick, Lancashire, U.K.
Philosophy and Religion
The article "Does Religion Cause War?" [November/December] was extremely analytical and thought-provoking. Humankind cannot survive without both philosophy and religion. Vedic knowledge alone can offer a peaceful solution for this conflict-ridden world.
Unfortunately, it is a sad fact that Indians themselves are forgetting their roots. The people who should be propagating this transcendental knowledge are being smitten by the craze for "modernization." But as long as there are preachers like Caitanya Carana Dasa, there is hope that people will be drawn towards spirituality in a very scientific and systematic way.
Mrs. Chinmayee Joshi
Gratified and Inspired
I found the September/October issue full of rich and exciting experiences. I was particularly moved by the article on the visit to the Siberian gypsies. As it so happens, I had just read Solzhenitsyn's Gulag Archipelago. Having seen how horribly these people had suffered through the Stalinist persecutions, what to speak of the tremendously harsh living conditions they routinely undergo in general, I was gratified to see this little orb of Krsna's mercy being extended to them.
Also, I was completely inspired by the excellent article from the eighteen-year-old student from Idaho on the two crippled boys "cured" by devotional service. I am paralyzed and undergo continual physical challenges myself and tend to use hardship as an excuse to "go soft" on devotional disciplines. Thank you for the inspiration.
BTG Still Life and Soul
I really enjoy receiving this journal because it keeps me in touch with the Lord's devotees, whom I admire very much. Back in 1970 I began to participate in Lord Caitanya's harinama sankirtana movement under the expert and caring guidance of His Divine Grace A. C. Bhaktivedanta Swami Prabhupada. He became my spiritual master a year later.
At the Henry St. Radha-Krsna temple in Brooklyn, Back to Godhead was delivered in boxes, and we would load many boxes into a big van filled with devotees, karatalas, and mrdangas. We would go into Manhattan, and one group of devotees would chant while another group would distribute BTGs.
Back to Godhead was, and still is, the representation and the life and soul of ISKCON and Srila Prabhupada. Thank you all who still do the work that is so dear to our beloved Srila Prabhupada. Bless every devotee who lends even the most humble service to this cause.
Dasarha Dasa Adhikari
Boca Raton, Florida
Please write to us at: BTG, P. O. Box 430, Alachua, FL 32616, USA. E-mail: email@example.com.
To understand God one must first come to the enlivened state of liberation, free from the influence of the material modes of nature.
By His Divine Grace A. C. Bhaktivedanta Swami Prabhupada
"Thus established in the mode of unalloyed goodness, the man whose mind has been enlivened by contact with devotional service to the Lord gains positive scientific knowledge of the Personality of Godhead in the stage of liberation from all material association.—Srimad-Bhagavatam 1.2.20
Vijnana means science. Krsna consciousness is not a concoction or speculation. It is a science, just as mathematics is a science: Two plus two equals four. You cannot make two plus two equal five, according to your whims. No. Anywhere you go, it doesn't matter, two plus two equals four, because mathematics is science. So either in America or in India or in England, everyone will accept that two plus two equals four. That is science.
Science is true everywhere. Not that I can imagine my God according to my whims, you can imagine your God according to your whims. That is going on. But how can you imagine? There is no question of imagining.
This bhagavat-tattva-vijnanam—this truth, this science—can be understood by a person who is mukta-sanga, freed from material association. He can understand. Mukta-sangasya jayate. And one's condition at that point will be evam prasanna-manasah—enlightened, engladdened. As long as we are in the jurisdiction of ignorance and passion, there cannot be any jubilation, there cannot be any enlightenment. Therefore we have to come to the platform of goodness.
As stated in the previous verse,
"As soon as irrevocable loving service is established in the heart, the effects of nature's modes of passion and ignorance, such as lust, desire, and hankering, disappear from the heart. Then the devotee is established in goodness, and he becomes completely happy." Cetah—everything is working within the heart. The heart is the central point of the body. So when the heart is not punctured by rajo-guna and tamo-guna—the modes of passion and ignorance—and you become situated in the mode of goodness, then you become jubilant.
A jubilant person can understand, "Why are people working so hard like cats and dogs?"
Human life is meant for understanding God. Athato brahma-jijnasa. In animal life, one cannot understand. But in human life, consciousness is developed. One can understand. That understanding is there in the mode of goodness. How does one becomes intelligent in understanding God? When he is on the platform of goodness, he can study the nature of things and ask, "Why shall I work so hard for getting all my material necessities? They are being supplied by nature. The birds and beasts are getting their food, they are getting their mates, they are being protected in their own way, they have a sleeping nest, an apartment."
When we sit down in the garden, we see that even the small ant has a family, it has a home, it has food. Everything is there. From the ant to the elephant. Who is supplying? The animals do not do any business. They have no profession. But they are getting their necessities of life.
The Light Of Goodness
Goodness means intelligence, and ignorance means darkness. In darkness, we cannot see what is what.
Goodness means light. Anyone can see that all the 8,400,000 species of life are getting their food. They are getting their shelter. They are satisfying their sexual desire. They are also defending without any extra endeavor. By nature, they are doing these things in their own way. So why is the so-called civilized human being so harassed to obtain these four things? We have better intelligence. We should be more comfortable than the animals without struggling for existence. But our struggle for existence is greater than their struggle for existence.
What is this civilization? This is not civilization. Everyone wants a peaceful, calm life, even those who are struggling so hard, such as big business magnates. On weekends they find some nice secluded place, without trouble. That is natural.
Human nature should be like that. "Why should we work so hard simply for eating, sleeping, mating, and defending?" Modern civilization is a wrong type of civilization. In the modern age human society is so made that one has to work like an ass, day and night, simply to satisfy these four necessities of life.
And that satisfaction is not guaranteed. When I was in India, I was contemplating coming to your country. I thought that America is very rich, so there is no problem for eating, sleeping, and mating. But the civilization is so made that there is no shelter. People are lying down in the park, on the street. Why? There was no necessity, but you have created such a civilization that a certain section of people are lying down on the street, in the park—no dress, no food, no fixed shelter, no fixed sex life. Everything is topsy-turvy. This is not civilization. Then how can people understand God? Their minds are always disturbed and full of anxiety.
Only By Bhakti-Yoga
First of all you have to come to the stage of tranquillity. Evam prasanna-manasah. Prasanna-manasah means to be always jubilant. That can be achieved by this process: bhagavad-bhakti-yogatah, by devotional service, not by any other process.
There are many other yoga systems—karma-yoga, jnana-yoga, dhyana-yoga, hatha-yoga. Every endeavor for spiritual enlightenment is called yoga. There are different types of yoga, but real yoga is bhagavad-bhakti, devotional service. Therefore Krsna says in the Bhagavad-gita [6.47]:
yoginam api sarvesam
"That yogi who is My devotee and is always thinking of Me within the heart is the highest yogi." Sraddhavan: faithful. Bhajate: worship. This is bhajana: Hare Krsna, Hare Krsna, Krsna Krsna, Hare Hare/ Hare Rama, Hare Rama, Rama Rama, Hare Hare. The first-class yogi chants the Hare Krsna mantra and thinks of Krsna within his heart. That is bhagavad-bhakti-yoga. And if in the beginning he does it nicely, according to the rules and regulations, then he becomes prasanna-manasah—enlightened, engladdened. There is no more lamentation or hankering. That is the sign.
Evam prasanna-manaso bhagavad-bhakti-yogatah. Then you can understand God. God is not so cheap: "Come on, I shall show you God. You haven't got to follow any rules and regulations." People want to be cheated. Therefore there are so many cheaters; they take advantage of that. People want everything very cheap, but that is not possible. This is the stage: prasanna- manasah. Then you can understand God. It is a science.
If somebody says, "Come on, I shall teach you the science of chemistry within a second. Give me some money," is that possible? If somebody says, "I shall teach you mathematics. Come on, give me some money," why are these rascals misled?
Knowledge of God is a science; it is not sentiment. Trying to understand the Supreme Personality of Godhead without reference to these scientific books, Vedic literature, is simply a disturbance, simply rascaldom. Rascals are creating disturbances, always cheating people. That is the instruction of Rupa Gosvami:
Utpata means "disturbance." If anyone, without reference to the Vedic scriptures, claims that he has understood God and devotional service, he simply creates a disturbance. That's all. Knowledge of God and devotional service is a science. How can you manufacture it?
Philosophy And Religion
Therefore any religion without scientific understanding through philosophy is simply sentiment. It is not religion. And philosophy without religious understanding is mental speculation. That is also useless. Philosophy which does not search ultimately what is truth, what is God—that philosophy is mental speculation. And knowledge of God without philosophy is simply sentiment. They should be combined.
To understand God, our relationship with God, our duty, everything should be understood, scientifically. Bhagavat-tattva-vijnanam. Therefore this word has been used: vijnanam, which means visesa-jnanam. Jnanam refers to ordinary knowledge, and when vi, meaning "particularly," is added, it refers to the practical application of knowledge. That is vijnanam.
This vijnanam, this science, can be understood by mukta-sanga, one who is freed from the lower modes of material nature, especially tamo-guna and rajo-guna. So do not be fooled by so many rascals who imply that bhagavat-tattva-vijnanam—understanding the science of God—is so cheap that you can get it simply by one day's association with some rascal. That is not possible. It has to be studied, it has to be practiced, it has to be realized.
Vijnanam is being presented in the Srimad-Bhagavatam. Therefore in the beginning of the Srimad-Bhagavatam [1.1.2] it is stated: dharmah projjhita-kaitavo 'tra. All rascaldom going on under the name of religion—all cheating religion—is completely kicked out from the Srimad-Bhagavatam. We are presenting Krsna consciousness on scientific understanding. It is not for sentimentalists.
[To a disciple:] Read the purport.
[Disciple:] "In the Bhagavad-gita (7.3) it is said that out of many thousands of ordinary men, one fortunate man endeavors for perfection in life. Mostly men are conducted by the modes of passion and ignorance, and thus they are engaged always in lust, desire, hankerings, ignorance, and sleep. Out of many such manlike animals, there is actually a man."
Prabhupada: "Manlike animals." They show two hands, two legs, but actually they are animals. Two legs have been transformed into two hands. Go on.
Disciple: "Out of many such manlike animals, there is actually a man who knows the responsibility of human life and thus tries to make life perfect by following the prescribed duties. And out of such many thousands of persons who have thus attained success in human life, one may know scientifically about the Personality of Godhead Sri Krsna."
Prabhupada: Yes. So it is not so easy to understand Sri Krsna. Manusyanam sahasresu kascid yatati siddhaye, yatatam api siddhanam [Bhagavad-gita 7.3] Out of many persons who have endeavored for perfection of life, hardly one can understand Krsna. It is not so easy. But it is easy by Krsna's grace. Krsna being very compassionate with the fallen souls of this age appeared as Lord Caitanya and distributed Krsna. That is His prerogative. That is His right. If Krsna wants to distribute Himself freely, that is a different thing.
Otherwise, it is not so easy to understand Krsna. To earn one million dollars is not so easy. But if you are fortunate, you meet somebody who can distribute a million dollars at a time. That is a different thing. Therefore Lord Caitanya was recognized by Rupa Gosvami, who prayed, namo maha-vadanyaya krsna-prema-pradaya te: "My dear Lord, You are the most munificent of all incarnations. In the other incarnations, people could not understand You, but now You are freely distributing Yourself." Therefore we have to follow the footsteps of Rupa Gosvami. Then we can understand Lord Caitanya. And if we get the favor of Lord Caitanya, we can easily understand Krsna. This is the process. Go on.
Disciple: "In the same Bhagavad-gita (18.55) it is also said that scientific knowledge of Sri Krsna is understood only by the process of devotional service (bhakti-yoga)."
Prabhupada: Yes. Here also it is confirmed: bhagavad-bhakti-yogatah. It is not said, "by mystic yoga," "by hatha-yoga," "by jnana-yoga," "by karma-yoga." No. Bhagavad-bhakti-yogatah. If we want to understand the science of God, then we have to adopt devotional service. Not by other yogas. Otherwise, in the Srimad-Bhagavatam it would have said, "by karma-yogatah," "by jnana-yogatah," "by hatha-yogatah," "by dhyana-yogatah." No. It is clearly said, bhagavad-bhakti-yogatah.
Bhagavat-tattva-vijnanam mukta-sangasya jayate. If you are still after jnana-yoga, dhyana-yoga, you cannot understand Krsna, God. It is clearly said. In the Bhagavad-gita [18.55] also it is clearly said, bhaktya mam abhijanati: "simply through devotional service."
If you want to know God, you have to follow the prescribed rules and regulations of bhagavad-bhakti-yoga. It is very simple. It has been made very easy, especially in this age: simply by chanting the Hare Krsna mantra. It has been made easy, but we are so unfortunate that we do not take advantage of this. Etadrsi tava krpa bhagavan mamapi durdaivam idrsam ihajani nanuragah. Lord Caitanya Mahaprabhu laments, "My dear Lord, You are so compassionate and merciful to us that in this age You have descended as Your name, and one can chant this name without any regulation." Niyamitah smarane na kalah. Any time, any circumstances, one can chant the Hare Krsna mantra. Krsna has become so liberal. But Caitanya Mahaprabhu says, etadrsi tava krpa bhagavan mamapi: "My dear Lord, although You are so merciful to me, I am so unfortunate that I could not be attached to chanting the mantra. Oh, I am so unfortunate."
You see? Things have been made so easy, actually, but the unfortunate class of men cannot take to it.
Thank you very much.
Devotees remember a departed friend, guide, and inspiration.
By Ranchor Dasa, Addha Dasa, and Kirti Kishor
Tribhuvanatha Dasa passed away on October 16, 2001, from cancer. On the one-year anniversary of his passing, some devotees who knew him well sent us the following recollections.
Memories of a Dear Godbrother
Tribhuvanatha Dasa, born in 1953 in Longford, Ireland, as Thomas Heggarty, was one of life's great individualists. All his life he stood out from the crowd. His charm and good humor contrasted with his sheer strength of character and fearless demeanor. Nothing was too much for him, and nothing dismayed him.
Misfortune dogged Tom's early life, much of it spent in and out of care homes in Ireland, which left him only semi-literate. By the age of sixteen he had arrived in London with his elder brother in search of adventure and drawn to Eastern mysticism. Almost at once he met Hare Krsna devotees and visited their London temple. He spent the day helping out, and when night fell and the community went to bed, he found himself back on the street. When the lights came on at 4:00 A.M. the next morning, Tom was waiting outside the front door to be re-admitted. He had slept that first night of his new Krsna life in a park near the temple. That was to be typical of his abiding sense of renunciation and dedication. That very day he was accepted into the community, and he at once threw his boundless energy into his new vocation.
By the time I joined the temple six months later, Tribhuvanatha was the mainstay of the temple workforce. If anything needed doing, he did it, and if any of us needed an example of what it meant to be fully absorbed in the service of Krsna, we had only to look to him. He was particularly good at giving out encouragement. Irrepressibly cheerful and always able to look on the positive side, he had the knack of putting across the philosophy of Krsna consciousness in a way that was memorable and practical, and totally sincere, despite his lack of formal education.
One day, shortly after I moved in, we were invited to the London School of Economics to make a presentation on Krsna consciousness. The LSE was a well-known melting pot of radical politics, and the students there were a tough audience. After we had chanted, Tribhuvanatha's talk held a large group spell-bound well beyond their lunch-hour, entertaining and instructing them in equal measure.
Tribhuvanatha's greatest love was to chant Hare Krsna on the street and play the drum. He would chant for hours, belting out the maha-mantra and pounding the drum as if his life depended on it, which in his mind it surely did. Anyone who saw him in full flow would be moved by his deep outpouring of devotion. Many days he would be worn out from long hours of work and too little sleep, but he would go out on the street, morning and afternoon, dragging us behind him. Seeing his example was enough to make us want to raise our own efforts. He showed us what was possible.
Gratitude For Guru's Grace
A key to Tribhuvanatha's unflagging energy was his love for his spiritual master, Srila Prabhupada. He considered that his guru's grace had saved him from disaster, and so his obedience to Prabhupada was unconditional.
When I first joined the temple I often used to hear Tribhuvanatha begin, "Prabhupada says." and then quote a suitable saying for the occasion. I asked him when he had heard all these things from Prabhupada. He was surprised.
"I haven't met Prabhupada yet," he replied, "but I've read all these things in his books."
We all read the same books, but with him, Prabhupada came to life.
The following summer, in 1971, Prabhupada came to London, and most of us met him for the first time. Tribhuvanatha was selected to give him a garland at the airport. In the weeks that followed, and in subsequent years whenever Prabhupada came, I saw he always had eyes especially for Tribhuvanatha. I wasn't the only one to notice this. We all knew that Prabhupada had special affection for Tribhuvanatha.
In 1973, on Prabhupada's first visit to Bhaktivedanta Manor, we were chanting Hare Krsna at the end of his Bhagavad-gita lecture. Prabhupada looked grave. Soon Tribhuvanatha stood up right in front of Prabhupada, playing a mrdanga drum, dancing his unique flat-footed dance, his back straight and erect like a trained actor, his weight back on his heels, and his feet beating the ground, while his head nodded up and down. His eyes met Prabhupada's, and suddenly they were both laughing with each other in perfect harmony.
In the years that followed I seldom saw Tribhuvanatha. Prabhupada called him to India to help lay the foundations for ISKCON's temples there, and after that he just kept traveling and preaching. But I will always remember him as he was on that day in 1973: laughing for sheer joy before his beloved spiritual master.
Taking the Gita to the Arab World
In 1978 Tribhuvanatha recruited a fearless and determined group of brahmacaris—Avinascandra, Nikhilananda, Maha-kratu, and Padmapani—to travel to the Middle East to distribute the just-published Arabic translation of Bhagavad-gita As It Is. While driving from London to Beirut, they were held at knifepoint in Ankara and stranded without money in Istanbul for nine days with a broken-down van. They managed to survive by selling their large stock of "Change of Heart" tapes from shop to shop. Finally they made it to Beirut—in the middle of a civil war.
In Beirut, Srila Prabhupada's books were much appreciated in the wealthy Christian areas, where it was safe to wander about. Once, though, when the devotees strayed into a Palestinian area, some heavily armed PLO men stopped them, piled onto their car, and ordered them to drive to the PLO command post. The devotees were questioned one by one, but Tribhuvanatha saved the day by convincing the PLO that they were friends of Ravanari, a Palestinian devotee.
In his desire to please Prabhupada, Tribhuvanatha had failed to warn his colleagues of the extremely hazardous nature of their venture. Still, some devotees stayed on in Beirut and risked their lives distributing the Gitas. Those who stayed were all arrested and tortured at some point.
Nikhilananda: "It was Tribhuvanatha's principle to spend all the money he had on preaching, printing books, etc., to make sure it was used for Krsna. So we never had any money. In the beginning we lived in the poorest part of town, with rats in the shower room, next door to an Arab guerrilla base. We were in the midst of bombing, tanks, and machine-gun fighting all the time. In one week, the Syrians, who were involved in Lebanon's civil war, fired fourteen hundred rockets on a part of town where we had just sold our books.
"Every evening some Arab soldiers of various groups raided our flat to see what we were doing. But they would usually put aside their machine guns and sit down with us to sing the maha-mantra. They really liked doing kirtana with us and went wild about it. The only problem was how to stop the kirtana after a few hours without making them angry. We tried to smile all the time. And we depended on Srila Prabhupada."
Arrested In Damascus
Tribhuvanatha once traveled to Damascus to look for a devotee delivering money from the West. Because that devotee was carrying a large amount of foreign currency, he was suspected of being a spy and arrested. Tribhuvanatha's enquiries about him raised suspicions, so he was arrested too. He was held in a hellish dungeon for a month. His prison was a damp cellar without windows or lighting and with no room to stand. He was fed only an occasional bowl of watery soup with a piece of mouldy bread, which he described as being not fit for a dog. Fortunately, because of his Irish nationality his jail time was relatively short.
One time in Beirut during 1978, some devotees, after being held for a week by guerrillas, were released. Tribhuvanatha greeted them on their return.
"Alive and well!" he said.
He was so relieved. A bright smile wreathed his face.
"Nikhilananda! Padmapani! You're alive! We thought that you had gone back home, back to Godhead."
Later on, other devotees traveled to the Persian Gulf to raise money for spreading Krsna consciousness in the Arab world. Devotees came and went over the years, but Tribhuvanatha was the guiding force on behalf of Srila Prabhupada, and the person who held it all together.
A Temple In Cairo
After all the books had been distributed, Tribhuvanatha wanted to open a temple in Cairo, but there was no money. He handed Padmapani a pile of photos of ISKCON temples and asked him to try to get help from Indians living in Kuwait. He was sure that when they saw what ISKCON had done in other places, they would be happy to help start a temple in Cairo.
Tribhuvanatha bought him a ticket, and he landed in Kuwait with five US dollars in his pocket and only a vague idea of what to do or where to go. Armed only with faith in Srila Prabhupada and in Tribhuvanatha's words of advice, he was successful. He returned from Kuwait a week later with US $2,000 to start a Cairo center. It wasn't long before Tribhuvanatha was holding regular programs at the local university and in the small temple in Zamalek, a suburb of Cairo.
Nikhilananda summed up the whole experience: "When you're with devotees like Tribhuvanatha Prabhu, life is very intense and you feel Srila Prabhupada's presence always."
The Festival Organizer
In 1987 Tribhuvanatha started arranging Hare Krsna festivals throughout the United Kingdom. He and his small crew would often visit two towns or cities a month, putting on festivals after a few weeks of advertising and street chanting.
In 1991 Tribhuvanatha returned to his homeland when he was put in charge of the Inis Rath Island Temple in Ireland. After rescuing the temple from the brink of insolvency, he began organizing preaching activities all over Ireland, and with his festival crew opened a center in Dublin. When the devotees would go to the annual Feila festival, trouble-makers would throw beer cans at them and try to pull their tent down. Tribhuvanatha relished the adventure and madness of it, taking every opportunity to inspire people to chant and dance and take prasadam. The kirtanas were what really kept things going. They were Tribhuvanatha's trademark. No matter what happened, the holy name was victorious.
During this period in Ireland, Tribhuvanatha met a devotee who had traveled in east Africa and who invited him to visit there. After seeing Kenya, Tanzania, and Uganda, Tribhuvanatha became inspired to travel there with other devotees and do a festival tour. The first African tour was in 1995, and there has been at least one tour a year since then, with devotees coming from all over the world to take part.
The festivals reached Kenya, Tanzania, Uganda, Zambia, Malawi, and Zimbabwe, in universities and colleges, public stadiums, parks, halls, theaters, hotels, and Hindu temples. Once, at a festival in Mwanza, Tanzania, the whole town—over ten thousand people—came to the festival in a stadium. The kirtana beat out powerfully for hours, and everyone danced.
With much time and effort, Tribhuvanatha helped open a temple, a farm, and an orphanage school in Kampala, Uganda.
In Kenya, Tribhuvanatha inspired Krsna-mayi Devi Dasi, an Indian devotee who lives in Kisumu and who regularly helped out at local orphanages, to open her own school. In 2001 Krsna-mayi opened an orphanage called Little Gokula Education Centre, dedicated to Tribhuvanatha Prabhu as the patron saint. He remains the main inspiration behind it. The school educates and cares for 180 African children, mainly orphans and street kids. Some of these children met Tribhuvanatha, and all love him, as he loved everyone.
After some years in Ireland, the festival crew moved back to England to help a small struggling temple in the north and do festivals there again. Now the crew holds UK festivals during the summer and an African tour during the European winter.
Because of illness, Tribhuvanatha eventually had to stop organizing the festivals. At the last festival he attended, he instructed his crew to carry on with the festivals whatever happened.
"That's all I'm about," he said. "That's all I've ever been about. It looks like a bunch of people jumping around, having a laugh, a good time, but it's Krsna's trick to enter their hearts. Just as someone can sneak into your house without your knowing it, so by these festivals and kirtanas, Krsna sneaks into their hearts. I'll always be at the festivals, and as Prabhupada said, Narada Muni will always be there."
An account of Tribhuvanatha's passing is at www.krishna.com/371
"We finally had a Sunday school syllabus. Of course, most of it would never be used."
By Bhayahari Dasa
"May I go to the bathroom please?" piped a high squeaky voice, accompanied by much frantic hand waving.
I mentally calculated the odds of three kids feeling a compulsive call of nature within a few seconds. Probably the same as me getting struck by lightening or winning the lottery.
"Sure," I said, shrugging resignedly as the child almost instantaneously disappeared.
"Back to the lecture," I said quickly, a little alarmed by the calculating looks on the small faces of the other students.
Welcome to the Sunday school of ISKCON Washington, D.C.
The idea of a Sunday school started with a group of parents concerned about the need for the spiritual education of their children. Some parents worried about the lack of devotee association, some wanted a more formal platform to address the spiritual queries of their children, while others wanted to see them imbibe more of the Vedic heritage. But above all, the parents wanted to share the sweet nectar of Krsna consciousness with the children in the community.
Thus the idea of the Sunday school was born. Not that it was a novel idea. There had been Sunday schools with varying levels of success. Owing to time constraints or lack of interest, however, the schools had eventually stopped. Now, once again, infused with enthusiasm and driven by needs, a group of parents was resuscitating the Sunday school.
The new school would be called "Sanskriti," to convey the essence of our desires to help the children strengthen their bonds with the rich Vedic heritage. The venue and the timings were decided fairly quickly. The school would be held in the cultural hall at the ISKCON temple in Potomac, Maryland, outside Washington, D.C. The classes would take place on Sunday evenings so parents could take part in the Sunday Feast program while the children attended school.
The next task was deciding what to teach, how to teach, and when to teach. Each us has been given some free will by Krsna, and in discussing these questions, we parents all chose to exercise it to the fullest extent. While some of us wanted to control every aspect of what was taught and how, others demanded the right to improvise. Some wanted kirtanas and others the chanting of Vedic verses. Some wanted to focus on moral issues, others on spiritual topics. Still, despite several rounds of negotiations, bargaining, and tense debates, we always managed to keep Krsna in the center—by consuming enormous quantities of prasadam. After several intense sessions, spanning many weekends, we finally emerged, battered and bruised but triumphant. We finally had a Sunday school syllabus. Of course, most of it would never be used.
We decided to start small. That would give the new teachers some experience and help us fine-tune the approach. We would start with the children of the temple congregation and wait for a semester before going city wide. (And a year before going national! And, perhaps, in a couple of years, international! And—after all, we were all realistic, humble people.)
We Propose, The Kids Dispose
We decided to have a few classes and then hold a parent-teacher meeting to give and get feedback. But the children began giving us their feedback from the very first class. For instance, in the verses class, the five-to-nine-year-olds would spontaneously enter a self-induced trance. After a lot of goading and persuasion, they would briefly descend to mutter something inaudible under their breath and then relapse. But they more than made up for this with their enthusiasm during the activity class, as they molded clay into small deities, cut garments for them, and carefully strung jewelry to decorate them. So, verses were out and activities were in for the five-to-nine.
The older kids, supposedly on the thinking edge, refused to take part in our carefully crafted, thought-provoking discussions about vegetarianism, peer-pressure, and moral values. The painful expressions on their faces at our attempts to draw them into discussions would have put any self-respecting dentist to shame. Yet they seemed to get mysteriously rejuvenated in the verses class, far exceeding our most optimistic expectations. So, discussions were out and verses were in for the older kids.
The youngest kids came with their own set of challenges. Some of them would take one look at the teacher and burst into a paroxysm of tears, while the others would find it difficult to contain their giggles. If that was not disconcerting enough for the teachers, they also had to contend with the steely looks of some of the parents who chose to take part in the class with their kids. No wonder the burn-out rate in the teaching profession is so high.
So, finally, in the end the kids beat us into abject submission. They forced us to throw out all our carefully crafted strategies and comply with their demands. They showed what we as parents had always suspected: When the chips are down, they are the ones who really call the shots. I guess the old saying about God being present in children should be taken a lot more literally. One of the names of God is Isvara, the Supreme Controller, and we saw this potency fully manifested in our students.
The Vaisnava acaryas enjoin that the third verse of Caitanya Mahaprabhu's Siksastaka should be the object of constant meditation by devotees who want to perfect their spiritual lives. The verse states: "One can chant the holy name of the Lord in a humble state of mind, thinking himself lower than the straw in the street. One should be more tolerant than the tree, devoid of all sense of false prestige and ready to offer all respect to others. In such a state of mind one can chant the holy name of the Lord constantly."
Being a Sunday school teacher will automatically give you all the realizations described in this verse and more. After your students have walked all over you, literally and figuratively, even a straw on the street begins to look exalted. A tree is considered the ultimate symbol of tolerance because it does not complain even when cut down, but unlike a Sunday school teacher, it doesn't have to pretend to enjoy it. And after having spent enough hours unsuccessfully begging and cajoling the kids to do some particular thing, all prestige, true or false, will automatically take leave of you.
So, my earnest recommendation to all you aspiring spiritualists eager to make progress is to become a Sunday school teacher.
Krsna promises that any austerity for His pleasure will be rewarded. And rewarded we were when the children staged their own Rathayatra festival. The sight of our students enthusiastically pulling the Rathayatra cart on which sat beautiful deities of Lord Jagannatha, Lord Baladeva, and Subhadra Devi, resplendent with jewelry and clothes painstaking made by the students' young fingers, melted the hearts of our congregation. The spectacle of the toddlers earnestly chanting Vaisnava prayers, of the older kids confidently quoting Sanskrit verses from the Bhagavad-gita, and of the beaming parents proudly looking on as their children performed, suddenly made all our effort worthwhile. So much so, that we eagerly look forward to doing it all over again.
Bhayahari Dasa, a disciple of His Ho-liness Romapada Swami, lives in Gaithersburg, Maryland, with his wife, Indulekha Devi Dasi, and their seven-year-old son, Dhruv. He works in information technology and can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Sunday School Curriculum Available
FOR ANYONE interested in beginning a local Sunday school program, a complete curriculum is available for children ages 6 through 14. The comprehensive program is designed to provide a fun, hands-on approach to Krsna consciousness. Reproducible student workbooks contain skits, puzzles, art projects, and more, offering Vedic knowledge in an age-appropriate manner. The step-by-step teacher's guides that accompany the student workbooks contain worksheets, games, quizzes, and tips for making instruction more effective and rewarding. Most important, the Hare Krishna Sunday School program teaches students of all ages to apply the philosophy of Krsna consciousness to their everyday lives.
Also available (via e-mail at no cost): "How to Start Your Own Hare Krishna Sunday School—An Introductory Packet," with detailed instructions for starting a school in your community.
Tapasvini Devi Dasi
Hare Krishna Sunday School
4218 NW 234th Ave.
Alachua, FL 32615, USA
A highly respected Sanskrit scholar uses "the language of the gods" to pay homage to Srila Prabhupada.
"The great river of the nectar of Sri Krsna Caitanya Mahaprabhu's compassion has descended to earth in one person. That is our Srila Prabhupada, the emperor among spiritual masters."
—From Srila Prabhupada Satakam
If There Is One Verse that nearly everyone knows from the Bhagavad-gita, it is Krsna's famous promise to uphold religion on earth: "Whenever and wherever there is a decline in religious practice, O descendent of Bharata, and a predominant rise of irreligion, at that time I descend myself." (Bg. 4.7)
Usually Krsna comes Himself in one of His wonderful forms, such as Rama, Nrsimha, or Varaha. To uphold righteousness in the world, He protects the pious and destroys the demoniac. But sometimes Krsna sends his pure devotee instead, just as the president sends an ambassador to a foreign land. Krsna's devotee has the same mission as the Lord, but he accomplishes it in a different way. The Lord's representative does not kill the de-mons. Instead, he turns them into devotees, using the powerful weapon of compassion.
Srila Prabhupada was such a devotee of the Lord, and during his life span of eighty-one years, he distributed the culture of Krsna consciousness more widely than ever in history. He gave Krsna freely, removing the barriers that keep people from devotional service. He dismantled the barrier of language by translating the Vedic scriptures into English (and now, through his disciples, most other languages). He removed the barriers of caste and gender by offering spiritual initiation to men and women of all countries. He removed the barrier of nationality by establishing temples of Krsna all over the world. And he defied the barrier of age by doing all this after the age of seventy.
A Unique Tribute
Last November, devotees around the world observed the twenty-fifty anniversary of Srila Prabhupada's passing. His followers and admirers paid homage to his life and teachings. The departure of a Vaisnava is an occasion for both sadness and joy—sadness because we have lost the association of a great soul, and joy because he has returned to Lord Krsna's abode.
One of the unique tributes offered to Srila Prabhupada on this occasion was a piece of Sanskrit poetry called Srila Prabhupada Satakam—a collection of one hundred Sanskrit verses in praise of Srila Prabhupada's life, character, teachings, and disciples. The author is Dr. Mudumbai Narasimhachary, who recently retired as the head of the Department of Vaishnavism at the University of Madras, in Chennai, India, and is currently a visiting professor at the University of Oxford in England. The verses are composed in a variety of Sanskrit meters, and the language is erudite but sweet.
Sanskrit is known as devavani, "the language of the gods." The Vedas are revealed in Sanskrit, and when Krsna came to earth five thousand years ago, he spoke in Sanskrit. Today, the language is used by followers of Vedic culture all over the world as the medium for praising the Lord and his devotees. Srila Prabhupada spent his life translating the Vedic scriptures so that people of all countries could benefit from transcendental knowledge. Now, twenty-five years later, it is fitting that we express our appreciation for his work by glorifying him in the language of the Vedas.
Few people could be more qualified to compose such a work than Dr. Narasimhachary. He is a widely respected scholar of Sanskrit, Vaisnava theology, and Vedanta philosophy. He has written several books on these subjects, and lectures at universities in the United States, Europe, Malaysia, and India. He is currently collaborating with several international scholars on various publishing projects.
Most of all, Dr. Narasimhachary is loved for his ability to compose Sanskrit poetry. He has been honored with numerous titles in recognition of his skill, such as Sastrakavirat, "king of scholarly poets," Sahityavisara-da, "master of literature," and Asukavisekhara, "best among those who can compose poetry extempore." Professor Narasimhachary often composes beautiful Sanskrit verses at a moment's notice.
Dr. Narasimhachary is a devout practitioner and spiritual master in the Sri Vaisnava sampradaya of Ramanujacarya. He is an ardent worshiper of Sri Laksmi-Hayagriva, the presiding deities of Vedic knowledge. He always wears the Vaisnava tilaka and maintains his Vaisnava diet and practice wherever he travels. His appreciation for Srila Prabhupada began when he first came to Oxford, England, three years ago. He was invited by the Oxford Centre for Vaishnava and Hindu Studies, an academic institution that aids the study of Vaisnava theology at Oxford University. The Centre's director and many of the students are ISKCON devotees.
It was there that Dr. Narasimhachary began reading Srila Prabhupada's biography by Satsvarupa Dasa Goswami. He was so moved by Srila Prabhupada's story of sacrifice, courage, and compassion that he decided to compose one hundred verses in his praise.
For the professor, the visible proof of Srila Prabhupada's power and purity is his society of devotees. Dr. Narasimhachary appreciated the association of devotees, and especially their ability to practice strict Vaisnavism while living in Western countries. He visited several ISKCON centers in England, and found them to be vibrant and welcoming.
The one hundred verses of the Satakam describe different aspects of Srila Prabhupada's teachings and person-ality. Several verses focus on his ac-complishments, his constant medita-tion on Radha and Krsna, his concern for his disciples, and his deep knowledge of the scriptures. Using a traditional method of Sanskrit eulogy, Dr. Narasimhachary describes Srila Prabhupada's form from his lotus feet to his face. The professor also devotes a section of verses to glorification of the Hare Krsna maha-mantra, since the chanting of the holy names was the essence of Srila Prabhupada's teachings and the foundation of his success.
In the box at left are some verses from the Satakam that focus on Prabhupada's fearless preaching of Krsna consciousness all over the world.
Srila Prabhupada Satakam
By Professor M. Narasimhacary
Translated by Radhika Ramana Dasa
dhrtva ca kanthe nalinaksa-mala
Wearing a necklace of Tulasi beads around his neck, and placing the radiant Vaisnava tilaka upon his forehead, our spiritual master Srila Prabhupada traveled the earth, dancing, and chanting the names of Lord Mukunda in a loud voice.
darams ca putran api bandhu-vargam
Renouncing wife, children, relatives, and everything related to household duties, Srila Prabhupada, the emperor among spiritual masters, considered the entire world his own family.
videsa-yatra asakrt prakurvan
Traveling repeatedly to foreign countries, Srila Prabhupada taught the doctrine of devotional service. He was the sun who made the lotuslike hearts of the Westerners blossom.
Srila Prabhupada thought like this [onboard the ship to America]: "The people living in the Western countries are absorbed in material enjoyment. In matters of eating, sleeping, and so on, they are no better than animals, and they are devoid of religious principles."
madyam ca mamsam mahileti matva
"Reveling in wine, meat, and women, they are now wasting their lives and are thus wandering in the cycle of samsara. How can they be saved?" In this way, Srila Prabhupada was distressed over their condition.
sri-rama rameti na ko 'pi vakti
"Here, no one chants 'Sri Rama, Rama.' No one chants 'Sri Krsna, Krsna.'" Srila Prabhupada, the emperor among sages, was certain that these two names could liberate the people.
There is no qualification needed within the three worlds to chant this Hare Krsna mantra. There is no condition of eligibility based on a person's caste, gender, and so on, nor is there consideration of a suitable place, time, or order of life.
svayam parisramya dhanany uparjya
Thus, depending upon the mercy of Sri Krsna, the Lord of Radhika, Srila Prabhupada personally worked hard and collected funds. That emperor among spiritual masters built a kingdom of pure bhakti—a territory with no boundaries.
With great intuition, the best among spiritual masters, Srila Prabhupada, constructed temples of Lord Krsna, the beloved of Sri Radhika, all over the world. At the same time, he established these temples in the hearts of honest devotees. How wonderful this is!
na bhitir asid hrdaye kadacin
There was never any fear in Srila Prabhupada's heart, nor was he ever doubtful of his victory. For one whose mind is constantly absorbed in love for Mukunda, how can there be despair?
Srila Prabhupada was the best of devotees, an intimate associate of Krsna, the dearest friend of Sri Radhika. Otherwise, how could he accomplish so much in such a short time, that which is impossible for others?
jayatu jayatu dhiman sad-gurunam gurur no
All glories, all glories to our spiritual master, the guru of sadgurus! All glories, all glories to the yogi who is the embodiment of pure and eternal spiritual knowledge! All glories, all glories all the time to the adorable Srila Prabhupada! All glories, all glories to the powerful sun who destroys the night of maya!
Teachings 6, 7, & 8, Symptoms Of The Purest Love
Through His example and instructions, Caitanya Mahaprabhu taught the highest principles of rasa, or the loving exchanges between God and His devotees.
By Satyaraja Dasa
This is the final installment of a five-part series on Lord Caitanya's Siksastaka, or "Eight Teachings." The series has been adapted from lectures presented at the New York City Public Library to a group of students from Columbia University.
My Lord, When Will my eyes be decorated with tears of love flowing constantly when I chant Your holy name? When will my voice choke up, and when will the hairs of my body stand on end at the recitation of Your name?"
Caitanya Mahaprabhu is here referring to sattvika-bhavas, or the ecstatic bodily transformations that occur when one develops love of God. Caitanya-caritamrta tells us that tears, pride, joy, fainting, madness, trembling, patience, humility, melancholy, perspiration, hairs standing on end, and faltering of the voice are natural symptoms of ecstatic love for God. They cause a devotee to dance and even to float in the ocean of transcendental bliss.
These symptoms sometimes occur while an adept chants the holy name of the Lord. But an adept may hide the symptoms so as not to confuse the neophyte practitioner. Rupa Gosvami, in his Bhakti-rasamrta-sindhu, has scientifically outlined the sattvika-bhavas so that a devotee can ascertain his own level of progress.
In this verse Caitanya Mahaprabhu zeros in on three particular sattvika-bhavas as representative of the rest. Nayanam galad-asru-dharaya: streams of tears run down from the eyes. Then, vadanam gadgada-ruddhaya gira: the voice falters; one becomes choked up. And pulakair nicitam vapuh: the hairs on the body stand erect. A devotee should expect such symptoms. As Caitanya Mahaprabhu says in this verse, kada . . . bhavisyati: "When will this occur?"
The answer, of course, is that these symptoms occur when one is approaching the dawn of true love: bhava. Otherwise, we have experience of only the mundane counterparts. Crying, faltering of the voice, bodily hairs standing erect—such phenomena have material counterparts, usually associated with sentimentality and exaggerated emotionalism. But the sattvika-bhavas described here are quite different. They are completely spiritual, and someone properly trained in the scriptures under a bona fide spiritual master can recognize the difference.
Question: Is it really such a big deal? Let's say that someone does mistake these ecstatic symptoms for something material. Won't he still make progress in spiritual life? What difference does it make? I don't understand why it is such a significant thing.
Satyaraja Dasa: It's a science. And as in any other science, certain laws function. The sattvika-bhavas show that you're making progress. Otherwise, how would you know if you're advancing spiritually or just deluded? You may be brainwashed.
By scientifically analyzing the signposts or the things we can expect along the way, the followers of Caitanya Mahaprabhu have methodically outlined an objective spiritual science. For one who undergoes the proper training, it's virtually impossible to be cheated. One who pursues spiritual life properly, according to the outlines of the Gosvamis, will know exactly what the sattvika-bhavas mean. He'll know whether he's feeling authentic spiritual emotions or mundane counterparts.
Others may take these symptoms of ecstatic love cheaply. In India a class of pseudo devotees known as prakrta sahajiyas cheapen the whole process, making it a mundane and sometimes hysterical show of exaggerated affection and external fanaticism. This is all artificial. One should not try to attain the ecstatic symptoms in this artificial way. It is a process, not an event.
The Most Coveted Goal
So through strict practice, called vaidhi-sadhana, one can gradually attain the level of love of God, and when one develops proper spiritual passion, raga, he can attain the highest level, called prema-bhakti. But that's not a cheap thing, and it's rarely attained. It's the ultimate goal of life.
Once someone tastes prema-bhakti, even for a moment, nothing can take its place. That's the point. That's the proof that it's the highest thing. All classes of transcendentalists are anxious to get prema-bhakti. Gross materialists, of course, have their own peculiar domain of pleasure—crude, unfulfilling pleasure, pleasure that's painful in the long run. That's the rock-bottom variety.
There is a higher level of material pleasure. Higher than the gross materialists are the jnanis, or those who are on a more subtle platform, somewhat more refined. Their pleasure, being intellectual, is more sophisticated and usually lasts longer as well.
Higher still is the pleasure of the impersonalist, called brahmananda. This is where spiritual happiness begins.
But the most coveted goal is prema-bhakti, love for Krsna, and all of the others, whether they know it or not, are hankering after the intense pleasure that comes from the genuine state of Krsna consciousness. That pleasure is so very intense that, once having tasted it, one cannot live without it. It is maddening. In particular, the feeling of separation from Krsna is described as overwhelming.
But we're getting ahead of ourselves. The divine madness of separation, known as viraha-bhakti, is revealed in the next verse of the Siksastaka prayers:
"O Govinda! Feeling Your separation, I am considering a moment to be like twelve years or more. Tears are flowing from my eyes like torrents of rain, and I am feeling all vacant in the world in Your absence."
Here, in Caitanya Mahaprabhu's seventh verse, we are allowed to witness the internal struggle of a soul nearing the highest levels of perfection. As Caitanya Mahaprabhu, in the previous verses, has played the part of souls aspiring for perfection, here He shows a soul tasting the first stages of genuine Krsna consciousness, of love of God. Here He continues on the theme of viraha-bhakti, or "devotion in separation." This is the highest. When one reaches some genuine modicum of accomplishment on the path of pure love of God, he experiences two levels: sambhoga, or "devotion in union," and vipralambha (also known as viraha-bhakti), or "devotion in separation." This latter level is higher, for union is enhanced by separation. Separation is the key ingredient for intensity, even when there is union.
For example, once when Radha and Krsna were performing their divine pastimes together, a large black bee flew into their vicinity. Now, Krsna is sometimes known as Madhusudana because He killed the demon known as Madhu. But a bumblebee is also known as Madhusudana, because madhu also means "honey."
When Krsna saw the bee, He jokingly said, "Radha, watch out! That bee may sting you!"
Radharani became frightened and ran into Krsna's arms. When She did this, Krsna lovingly joked with Her again, making a play on one of His own names.
"O Radha," He said, "there is no longer any reason to fear. Madhusu-dana is already gone."
Of course, Krsna was referring to the fact that the bee had left, but when Radha considered the other meaning—that Krsna was gone—She was totally gripped by vipralambha-bhava, or the loving mood of separation, even though She was right there in Krsna's arms.
So this is the intensity of love in separation. Radha appreciated Krsna even more when She began to consider His absence.
Caitanya Mahaprabhu begins the seventh verse by addressing Krsna as Govinda, "one who pleases the senses." Separation from Krsna assaults Caitanya Mahaprabhu's senses, so He's petitioning Krsna by His specific name as the one who pleases the senses.
Even in this world our senses become assaulted by separation. Every part of the body aches. We can't eat, we can't sleep—it's called the blues. Everyone knows the feeling. Loosely speaking, it drives us crazy. And intense separation can actually lead to madness. I would say that most forms of madness come from separation. The materialist goes mad because he is separated from the objects of his sense gratification. His wife dies, or his business folds, or he loses his money or his home. He's separated from these things, and it hurts. That's material separation, and it's intense. It drives people mad.
Now, spiritual separation leads to divine madness, or divya-mada, and Caitanya Mahaprabhu is a prime example of this. But a unique thing about spiritual separation and divine madness is that they are not a horrible experience. Spiritual separation is on the absolute platform, and that means that spiritual separation and union are but opposite sides of the same coin. They are but variations in the spiritual pursuit of Krsna's pleasure.
Still, spiritual separation drives the devotee mad with love, and so Caitanya Mahaprabhu asks for relief—it is that intense. "Oh Govinda, please relieve my senses!"
Question: But since it is part of the divine play of Krsna and His devotee, why does the devotee hanker so much? He knows that the Supreme Lord is merciful. He knows that they will eventually be reunited, that the Lord is just enticing him with this separation.
Satyaraja Dasa: Yes. I was about to explain that. You see, knowledge does not suffice. Spiritual relationship, rasa, supersedes knowledge. Just like that story of Radharani and the bumblebee. She knew that Krsna was right there in Her arms. She had direct experiential knowledge. But, still, Her emotions became swept away in the vipralambha-rasa, in separation. Why? Because it is the sweetest thing. It is the most cherished goal. Only if you really appreciate Krsna can you appreciate the mood of separation and all it offers.
You are asking why separation should be taken so seriously despite the knowledge that one can be reunited with the Lord in due course. I've given one answer. I've explained that knowledge, in and of itself, is not enough. Another perspective on this is revealed by Caitanya Mahaprabhu in this very verse. When one hankers to be reunited with the Lord, which is called sambhoga-rasa, then each moment appears to be a millennium (yugayitam). It seems endless. Elsewhere, Caitanya Mahaprabhu says that it seems "a day never ends."
A yuga is sometimes defined as a minimum of twelve years, so in translating this verse Srila Prabhupada has rendered it as "each moment appears to be like twelve years or more." But usually a yuga is considered to be many thousands of years. So Caitanya Mahaprabhu prays to be relieved of this lengthy wait. "I want to be reunited with Krsna now! I can't take it anymore." This is His mood.
So the sense of urgency makes it necessary for a devotee to take separation very seriously.
Question: Is this the point of spiritual evolution at which the ecstatic symptoms occur?
Satyaraja Dasa: Yes. That's also revealed in this same verse. Caitanya Mahaprabhu says that because of this separation, He experiences pravrsayitam—tears flow from His eyes like torrents of rain. This is a symptom of ecstasy. He says that His eyes become varsara megha-praya—like clouds in the rainy season. The tears of great devotees are like monsoon rains. One traditional analogy comes to mind: In India, when the hot weather appears it dries up the cooling waters—especially small puddles—and it may scorch the lotuses that live there. The devotees are compared to those lotuses, because they feel a similar scorching effect due to separation from the Lord. But the great devotees are crying in separation like the monsoon rains and thus soothing their brother and sister lotuses, the novices in Krsna consciousness.
The Fire Of Separation
Sometimes the devotee in separation feels as if he's being slowly consumed by a terrible fire. But he knows that Krsna would not really do that to him, and so the sincere devotee generally reasons that "Krsna is doing this to me just to test my love." This is especially the mood of Srimati Radharani, the devotee in separation par excellence.
But Radharani goes so far as to say, "Perhaps it's better to disregard Him! If Krsna is going to put Me through such tests, then I want nothing to do with Him."
This is a type of spiritual indignation, called mana in Sanskrit. Of course, as soon as Radha feels like that, She is besieged with mixed emotions. The genuine characteristics of Her natural love once again manifest within Her pure heart. The diverse ecstatic symptoms of zeal, envy, eagerness, humility, and supplication all become manifest at once. In that exalted mood, Radharani's mind becomes transcendentally agitated, and She speaks in a distinct way to Her friends the gopis, the cowherd girls of Vrndavana. It was in this same spirit that Caitanya Mahaprabhu uttered the next verse, the final verse of the Siksastaka. When the verse indeed came from His lips, He was totally overtaken by the identity of Radharani.
aslisya va pada-ratam pinastu mam
"I know no one but Krsna as my Lord, and He shall remain so even if He handles me roughly in His embrace or makes me brokenhearted by not being present before me. He is completely free to do anything and everything, for He is always my worshipful Lord unconditionally."
Caitanya Mahaprabhu, in the mood of Radharani, says that Krsna is always mat-prana-nathah, "the Lord of my life." This holds true whether Krsna embraces Him tightly or tramples Him or breaks His heart by not being present before Him. Once again, we are confronted with sambhoga and vipralambha; whether in union or in separation, Caitanya Mahaprabhu remains true to the Lord of His life. This is the level of dedication required to reach the supreme destination.
In Srimati Radharani's intense emotional state of divine love, Caitanya Mahaprabhu calls Krsna a lampatah, or "a debauchee who mixes with other women." In other words, He is aware of Krsna's cunning nature. As the Supreme Personality, the independent Lord, Krsna can do whatever He likes, and the devotee is always aware of this. Such independence on Krsna's behalf increases the thrill of the relationship. Lord Krsna doesn't have to show His mercy—He may not. But, of course, He always does. This paradoxical wonder gives spiritual life excitement.
This excitement is especially felt by the gopis. The gopis, whose exemplary love is epitomized by Srimati Radharani, love Krsna no matter how He treats them. Of course, Sri Krsna will not ultimately exploit them. That's the difference between material love and spiritual love. When such cart blanche fidelity manifests in this world, it is the worst kind of gullibility. One will generally be hurt and exploited. But the gopis are spiritual, and they have totally dedicated their lives to Krsna, the Supreme Spirit.
Still, Krsna seemed to leave Vrndavana, and although He actually stayed there in an unmanifest state, He went, by His plenary portion Vasudeva, to Mathura. This served to put the gopis into a heartrending state. "Will Krsna ever return?" they wondered. And they would cry out for Him: "Where has Krsna gone? Krsna! Krsna! Where are You?"
Curing Our Amnesia
This brings us full circle: we are back to the chanting. The gopis' cries of love are the perfection of chanting. And our own chanting is meant to gradually evoke the remembrance that we too are looking for Krsna. "Krsna, where are You?" This is our original refrain too, and chanting helps jar our memory. It cures our spiritual amnesia.
Because of their intense separation from Krsna, the gopis became broken-hearted, as Caitanya Mahaprabhu commiserates in this verse. After Krsna left Vrndavana, they spent the rest of their lives feeling profound separation from Him. In that mood, in that separation, of course, they remembered Him constantly. This is technically called lila-smaranam, and it is very advanced. In this way, the gopis associated with their dear Lord Krsna, experiencing sambhoga even in the midst of vipralambha.
In their separation, the gopis' love for Krsna did not diminish in the least; rather, it became even more intense. That's the purpose of love in separation, and that's why Krsna allows His devotees to go through this gut-wrenching yet transcendental experience. It increases their love. If a pauper manages to accumulate some wealth, he really values it. What's more, if he then abruptly loses it, he'll think about it twenty-four hours a day. Similarly, to increase His devotees' love, Krsna sometimes seems to be lost to them, but instead of forgetting Him, they find their transcendental loving sentiments increasing.
That's real love. In spite of abuse, neglect, indifference, and all kinds of general mistreatment, the love goes on increasing. We are talking about selfless, absolute surrender and submission. It is quite different from material submission, where there is always the risk of exploitation. Krsna is never our exploiter; He's always our ever well-wisher.
When Caitanya Mahaprabhu was in Puri, He was constantly absorbed in the gopis' feelings of separation from Krsna. So by His example He taught about worship of Krsna in separation, the highest kind of submission and love. He gave the same teachings in His Siksastaka prayers, recorded in the Caitanya-caritamrta and Rupa Gosvami's Padyavali. The other Gosvamis presented the teachings in their writings as well. Fortunately, the teachings have survived to the present, and for that the modern world is indebted to the lives and endeavors of Srila Bhaktivinoda Thakura, Srila Bhaktisiddhanta Sarasvati Thakura, and, of course, His Divine Grace A. C. Bhaktivedanta Swami Prabhupada.
Satyaraja Dasa is a disciple of Srila Prabhupada and a regular contributor to Back to Godhead. He has written several books on Krsna consciousness, the latest of which is The Four Principles of Freedom. He and his wife live near New York City.
He had planned for a relaxing time, by it seemed Krsna had other plans.
By Bob Roberts
ONE STEAMY late afternoon on the last Saturday of June, it's still too hot for my daily walk, so I decide to drive to a favorite swimming hole. Early summer has brought many days with highs over 90° F, so I figure the water will be pleasantly warm for my little exercise.
Upon arrival at Spring Mill Pond at Island Lake Recreation Area, near Brighton, Michigan, I'm struck by the presence of more than a dozen emergency vehicles at the west end of the sandy beach. I see ambulances, a fire truck, police and sheriff cars and trucks, and a Red Cross van.
"Must be a training exercise," I muse.
But it's no exercise. Other beach visitors tell me that the law enforcement and rescue personnel are here on serious business. A twenty-year-old man, swimming laps in the small pond, has somehow gotten into trouble. When his friends called for help, witnesses at first thought they were horsing around. But he went under around 3:00 P.M. Now a professional search operation is underway, with scuba divers being towed behind a powerboat.
I'm sobered by the methodically grim task I see in front of me. Though a couple of fathers still swim with their small children at the opposite end of the pond, I've lost all desire to swim today. Smasana vairagya?*
*The temporary sense of detachment one feels at a cemetery or place of cremation.
I approach the search operation at the west end of the pond. Yellow police tape reading "POLICE LINE DO NOT CROSS" is tied to the cars pulled to the water's edge, forming an area reserved for the rescue workers. A gurney is just behind a medical examiner's van, so I conclude that because of the time he has been under water, the young man is now presumed drowned.
A blonde girl who looks about fourteen is sobbing, and I hear her say something like, "My big brother is never coming back."
I chat with a man around my age about the gloomy scene we have chanced upon. I remark that someone can drown in only a few feet of water. But then I realize that even though that may be true, if one is in shallow water, and has buddies to help, quick rescue and revival is more likely. Falling into deep water makes immediate help much less likely and thus death more certain.
A man sitting on a nearby picnic table is speaking with a couple sunbathing on the sand. I overhear him say, "vegetarianism." We discuss the subject a bit, and I hand him a Sunday Feast invitation card that I always carry in my wallet. As he leaves I ask him to say, as a favor to me, "Hare Krsna," and he readily does.
Maybe I should have mentioned the benefits of offering food to God.
This area was formerly a gravel mining operation, and I walk up a gravelly hill next to the pond to take in the entire scene. A motorboat carrying four men trolls slowly across the surface. About twenty yards behind it, bubbles rise from the scuba divers.
Every few minutes the boat suddenly turns sharply and goes in the opposite direction, and each time that happens I think the divers had found the young man. But they haven't.
Back near the beach I see a tall, slim, young dark-haired man with a shocked expression walk out from the taped-off section to sit on a picnic bench some distance from the rescue workers. As I pass, he looks up at me.
He seems approachable, so I ask, "Your friend has gone under?"
He nods almost imperceptibly.
I reply something like, "Wow, I've swum across this pond many times."
I suppose I'm trying to sympathize with his loss and grief, but I feel that my talk is inappropriate, only irritating him and wasting his time, and I finally conclude with, "I hope it works out for you."
Seconds later while walking away I think, "What a stupid thing I just said! 'I hope it works out.' His friend has obviously just died unexpectedly, on a pleasure outing, and I say, 'I hope it works out.' 'I'm sorry' would have been much, much better."
Maybe I should have just left him alone. I'd first thought that since he'd left the immediate area of the rescue and sat on a picnic table, he was open to conversation, but maybe I was wrong, and I feel like an insensitive and ignorant gawker.
But I'm unable to leave the scene. Part of me is fascinated, perhaps morbidly, by the spectacle; another part hopes to view its conclusion; and another part likes that the normal air of frivolity of the area in high summer—loud music, disturbing yelling, and the preening and flirting of adolescents—is absent.
I return to my car for my japa beads and Bhagavad-gita As It Is. I manage to chant two rounds while sitting on a picnic table, still watching the operation from a distance. A gorgeous soft golden sun is low in the western sky, casting its reflection on the water. Occasionally, athletic and confident looking young men walk by me on their way to the simple structure housing vending machines and restrooms. They tell me that the water where they're searching is about thirty feet deep, at that depth around 55° F., with visibility about two feet. I talk with one about "the diver's reflex," the ability of a human body to slow its metabolism and heart rate to nearly imperceptible levels while all available blood is directed to keep the brain alive for thirty minutes or longer while submerged in cold water. Ordinarily, a human being will die, or at least suffer massive and irreversible brain damage, if deprived of oxygen for more than about four minutes. But I've read reports of people surviving submersion for up to an hour, and making full recoveries, provided the water is cold enough.
But the young diver today says, "After an hour, it's pretty much a recovery operation."
The young victim, under water for over five hours now, is assumed drowned.
To The Gita
For some reason I turn to some of the Gita's last verses and read, "O King, as I repeatedly recall this wondrous and holy dialogue between Krsna and Arjuna, I take pleasure, being thrilled at every moment." (18.76)
As I write this one week later, I am embarrassed, as it appears that being thrilled at the scene of a tragedy is totally inappropriate. I can understand that a maha-bhagavata (topmost devotee) can be thrilled whatever the circumstances, but I know I'm not on that level.
I wonder if I should have shared my Gita with the young man whose friend had drowned. I occasionally discuss Krsna consciousness with strangers, but it's usually when I'm out chanting on the street with other devotees, or at book tables, festivals, or the temple. Maybe I should have. I'm not used to being around these tragic circumstances.
Another man tells me helicopters were on the scene earlier.
"Med evac?" I ask.
"No, TV news copters."
A Fox 2 TV van arrives, and a young reporter briefly interviews a fireman on camera.
"Does alcohol appear to be a factor?" the reporter asks.
"Not at this time," the fireman answers.
The TV news crew departs.
I overhear a police officer say that they will continue to search until 10:00 P.M.
I walk back to the cordoned-off area to see a pickup truck with a bed-mounted generator noisily filling the divers' air tanks. At one point I count seven divers in the water: Three are resting in shallow water at the far west end, two are tied to ropes held by two men standing on the north shore, and two more are being pulled from the motor boat. Various vehicles have come and gone. The medical examiner's van is no longer at the site. A couple of county pickup trucks are now parked so that the pair of lights on stands in their beds, also powered by portable generators, can illuminate the scene, as the sun has now dropped below tree level. I'm reminded of a motion-picture crew cooperating in a common effort, with lots of vehicles, equipment, and people on location.
About 10:15 a Green Oak township fireman walks toward the group of friends.
"Kelly," he calls out.
I presume that is the sister of the victim, the next of kin present. She and several other young people gather around him, and he talks privately to them. I again hear her sobbing and guess that he has said that the search will soon be halted for the night because of darkness.
Mosquitoes have arrived with the dark. A man and wife astronomer couple is setting up their clock-driven telescopes and offer to share insect repellant with me. The beach is a regular observation spot for the Ford Amateur Astronomy Club. I tell them what has happened, and we then chat a bit about astronomy. A few years back I attended the Island Lake Star Party, the club's all-night open gathering, and various members generously showed me, through their precision systems, some heavenly bodies, such as Jupiter and its moons, the rings of Saturn, and, I think, the Crab Nebula. About ten years ago an employer gave me as a bonus a rather large Dobsonian Reflector telescope, and with it devotee friends and I viewed some of the same objects. But at that Star Party the gazing quickly struck me as inane. Probably everyone there would concede that none of us would ever go to the objects we were peeking at. Each member's equipment must have cost thousands of dollars of their hard-earned money, had taken time and effort to transport to a dark place, haul out, and set up, and what was the gain? So now I've seen the Crab Nebula. So what? Is my life any better, or am I any closer to the truth?
Amateur astronomy's just another unsatisfying hobby in the material world. Like when Markandeya Rsi asked Nara-Narayana to see the illusory potency (Srimad-Bhagavatam, Canto 12, Chapter 9). "So be it," replied Nara-Narayana, smiling. Then Markandeya found himself in the midst of the four great oceans, along with all the inhabitants of the universe, tormented by harsh winds, lightning, and great waves. My scoping of the heavenly bodies didn't result in anything dramatic, but its futility reminded me of Markandeya's pastime.
With the arrival of darkness, biting bugs, and the end of the day's search, I decide to drive home.
Three days later The Livingston Daily Press Argus reports that rescue teams found the young man's body the next morning.
Return To The Pond
Independence Day. Despite TV weather predictions of a cooler and drier day, I find the weather again stifling hot and humid, and to escape the distressing noise of illegal fireworks in my neighborhood, I return to Spring Mill Pond. Because of the holiday and hot weather, the beach is crowded, but now, five days later, there are no rescue personnel here, just a nearly full parking lot and many people on the beach.
I walk to the area of the rescue operation. Loud, bad music blurts from a boom box. I wade into the water and see all ages enjoying the summer scene—sunbathing, swimming, snorkeling, strolling on the beach. I'm amazed by the number of people smoking cigarettes. It's bad enough to do that anytime, inhaling carcinogens, tar, and nicotine, to no benefit, but on a hot day? What is wrong with them? What can they be thinking? How can they do that?
"Thanks to smoking's dangerous, edgy, anti-authority image," said Mr. Butts, Garry Trudeau's Doonesbury character in a recent comic strip.
I swim across the short width of the pond. I consider myself a slow but decent swimmer, and for years have wanted to swim across the mile-wide Detroit River near the temple. But today I'm surprised at how sluggish I feel in the water, no doubt because this is only my second swim since last summer. Various devotees have told me that swimming is one of the few Vaisnava sports. Yet in a Prabhupada lecture I'd read last week, he commented:
Just like nowadays people are very fond of diving within the water and swimming. This has become a fashion. So next life they are going to become fish. Yes. Because yam yam vapi smaran bhavam tyajaty ante kalevaram [Bg. 8.6]. If you at the time of death, if you think of that—how to swim very nicely within the water—that means next life nature will give you a fish life. You get it. That is God's mercy. Why should you artificially try to become a fish? Become actually a fish. That is nature's gift. So you'll get. Yam yam vapi smaran. This is stated in the Bhagavad-gita. Because whatever we practice in our life, so that concept of life, that imagination, continues.
—Melbourne, April 22, 1976
Yet I recall other comments by Srila Prabhupada and find them in Srila Prabhupada-lilamrta, Volume 5: Let There Be A Temple.
Pancajanya: "Prabhupada said, 'Lord Caitanya used to go swimming all the time. He used to play ball. So you can go and swim. Just make sure you remember Krsna.'"
Nanda-kumara: "Prabhupada said, 'The sun is there—Krsna is the light of the sun. The ocean is there—Krsna is the taste of water. You are surrounded by Krsna. How can you forget Krsna? He is all around you.'"
So maybe swimming in moderation while remembering Krsna is one thing, but across the Detroit River? Leave it for the fish. And try not to become one.
Krsna states in the Gita (8.6): "Whatever state of being one remembers when he quits his body, O son of Kunti, that state he will attain without fail." I hope the unfortunate young man remembered something transcendental at the critical moment in his short life. My first thought is that that was unlikely, but I don't know for sure.
We never know the spiritual development of those we encounter. I'm a wedding photographer, and at a job in May the wedding disk jockey happened to notice the orange bumper-sticker on the inside of my opened camera case—Prabhupada: Your Ever Well-Wisher. He soon approached me to say that he'd been reading the Swami's (I suspect he was unsure how to pronounce "Prabhupada") books since he was about ten years old.
"Really!" I replied. "How did you encounter them?"
"My parents are very religious. Though they're Christians, and raised me as a Christian, they wanted to expose me to as many other religions as possible. They showed me Buddhist literature, Islamic, others. The Swami's books are most thought-provoking."
I tell him that no doubt in his previous life he cultivated spiritual life, and thus took birth in a pious family.
He'd never been to a Krsna temple, so I gave him a Sunday Feast card.
"None of my friends are interested in this stuff," he added. "Nobody. Just me."
"I know what you mean," I replied. "The Gita [7.3] says that of many thousands of men, only one may endeavor for perfection."
He now seemed a bit stunned by our conversation, at a loss for words, so I wondered if I'd said the right things. Maybe he was just nonplussed to finally encounter someone who could discuss Prabhupada's books, and needed time to digest it.
So at a wedding, what appeared to be a twenty-five-year-old ordinary American disk jockey notices my Prabhupada bumper-sticker and tells me he's read Prabhupada's books. We never know whom we'll meet.
At Spring Mill Pond I hear a helicopter in the distance. As it flies into view, thumping overhead, I see that it's blue and yellow: a med evac from the University of Michigan. I look around, but no one else seems to pay it the slightest attention.
Bob Roberts first met Hare Krsna devotees at Wayne State University in Detroit in 1969. In 1986 he began regularly attending the Detroit temple for the Sunday Feast and occasional festivals. He is a free-lance photographer and resides in Commerce Township, Michigan.
"Come to the Platform of Goodness"
Here we continue a conversation between His Divine Grace A. C. Bhaktivedanta Swami Prabhupada and John Mize, a professor of philosophy. It took place in Los Angeles on June 23, 1975.
Disciple: Srila Prabhupada, it seems you're saying Krsna is independent and we're expansions of Him, part and parcel of Him—so naturally, we have to be independent, too.
Srila Prabhupada: Yes. The part and parcel must have a little portion of independence. For instance, you take a drop of water from the sea, and all the chemical composition of the sea is there in the drop. So Krsna is fully independent, and although we living entities are tiny like a drop of sea water, still the independence quality is there in minute quantity.
Professor Mize: But Krsna has no tendency to fall, whereas we do.
Srila Prabhupada: No, Krsna has no such tendency, because Krsna is God, and therefore He is all-good. Even if He seems to fall down—according to our estimation—it is not actually a fall-down. If we are sensible, we cannot judge God. If we are devotees, in all circumstances we shall glorify God: "You are all-good." That is a devotee. You cannot criticize God—"Oh, You are doing such a thing." No.
Professor Mize: I'm still puzzled about the relationship of the soul to God. If the soul is eternal, as God is, and yet some souls have the tendency to fall and others don't have that tendency.
Srila Prabhupada: No, no—"eternal" does not mean not having the tendency to fall. For instance, you are now a professor. So you can fall down from your position. At the same time, that does not mean you are not eternal. If you should fall down from your position, you do not lose your eternality. You simply fall down.
You can become a professor; you can become an ordinary man. But you are eternal in all circumstances—eternal. Fall-down does not mean that one loses his eternality. That is stated in Bhagavad-gita—na jayate mriyate va kadacin ajo nityah sasvato 'yam purano na hanyate hanyamane sarire: the living entity is never born and never dies. This is eternality. You change your body, but you are eternal.
Professor Mize: It's so puzzling, though—why I would spend eternity in a fallen situation.
Srila Prabhupada: Yes. Therefore, the soul requires that sattva-guna qualification.
Professor Mize: The what qualification?
Srila Prabhupada: That sattva-guna—goodness.
Professor Mize: I'm sorry.
Srila Prabhupada: Goodness.
Professor Mize: Goodness?
Srila Prabhupada: The mode of goodness. For instance, not that everyone becomes a philosophy professor. It requires a certain qualification. But at the same time, everyone can become a philosophy professor. Everyone has got the chance. Provided he is qualified, he can take the post of a philosophy professor. Everyone has got the chance—not that you only have got the chance. But still, it is not that without having a certain qualification anyone can become a philosophy professor. So these things will remain puzzling unless one comes to the qualification of goodness. Therefore, we order our disciples, "Come to the platform of goodness. Give up all these nonsense habits." Then it will be possible.
Nasta-prayesv abhadresu nityam bhagavata-sevaya. [To a disciple:] In the Srimad-Bhagavatam you find this verse. First Canto.
So we are now covered with base qualities: passion and ignorance. But tada rajas-tamo-bhavah: when these base qualities are finished—even if not altogether, even if almost finished—then one can come to the platform of sattva-guna.
Professor Mize: The platform of?
Srila Prabhupada: Sattva-guna, goodness. On that platform one can understand very quickly. This Krsna con-sciousness movement is a little suc-cessful because we are trying to bring the students to the platform of goodness. If you keep people on the platform of ignorance and passion, then it will be difficult.
Disciple: Srila Prabhupada, you asked for Chapter 2, "Divinity and Divine Service," verse 18:
"By regular attendance in classes on the Bhagavatam and by rendering of service to the pure devotee, all that is troublesome to the heart is almost completely destroyed, and loving service unto the Personality of Godhead, who is praised with transcendental songs, is established as an irrevocable fact."
And now Srila Prabhupada's purport: "Here is the remedy for eliminating all inauspicious things within the heart which are considered to be obstacles in the path of self-realization. The remedy is the association of the Bhagavatas. There are two types of Bhagavatas, namely the book Bhagavata and the devotee Bhagavata. Both the Bhagavatas are competent remedies, and both of them or either of them can be good enough to eliminate the obstacles. A devotee Bhagavata is as good as the book Bhagavata, because the devotee Bhagavata leads his life in terms of the book Bhagavata, and the book Bhagavata is full of information about the Personality of Godhead and His pure devotees, who are also Bhagavatas. Bhagavata book and person are identical.
"The devotee Bhagavata is a direct representative of Bhagavan, the Personality of Godhead. So by pleasing the devotee Bhagavata, one can receive the benefit of the book Bhagavata. Human reason fails to understand how by serving the devotee Bhagavata or the book Bhagavata one gets gradual promotion on the path of devotion. But actually these are facts explained by Srila Naradadeva, who happened to be a maidservant's son in his previous life. The maidservant was engaged in the menial service of the sages, and thus he also came into contact with them. And simply by associating with them and accepting the remnants of foodstuff left by the sages, the son of the maidservant got the chance to become the great devotee and personality Srila Naradadeva. These are the miraculous effects of the association of Bhagavatas. And to understand these effects practically, it should be noted that by such sincere association of the Bhagavatas, one is sure to receive transcendental knowledge very easily, with the result that he becomes fixed in the devotional service of the Lord. The more progress is made in devotional service under the guidance of the Bhagavatas, the more one becomes fixed in the transcendental loving service of the Lord. The messages of the book Bhagavata, therefore, have to be received from the devotee Bhagavata, and the combination of these two Bhagavatas will help the neophyte devotee to make progress on and on."
Srila Prabhupada: So we are giving this chance to all: association with the devotee Bhagavata and the grantha-Bhagavata, or book Bhagavata, to get them raised from the lower condition of life, kama-lobha—lusty desires and greediness. This is the process.
And practically you can see all these young men. They have no more lusty desires or greediness. They are quite young, but they never ask permission from me at any time—"Now, today, I want to go to the cinema." They have got all the funds in their hand. Yet they never spend without my permission. Again, these are young men, born in the Western countries, addicted to so many bad habits. But they have given those up.
This is practical. Professor Judah [of Berkeley's Graduate Theological Union] has written me, "I am simply amazed at how you have converted drug-addicted hippies to become servants of Krsna and humanity." That is his puzzlement. But the method is so nice that it automatically becomes successful. Therefore, we are stressing on the method.
Disciple: In other words, Srila Prabhupada, without practice of the method, it's very difficult to understand the philosophical concepts.
Srila Prabhupada: Yes, yes. Therefore it is said that without becoming a brahmana, nobody should touch the Vedas.
janmana jayate sudrah
This verse explains the different stages of self-realization. Everyone is born a sudra. Sudra means the life of lamentation—he does something and laments. This is a sudra. He does not know how to act, but by whims he does something to serve the material body's lust or greediness, and then he laments later on. This is a sudra. And brahmana means na socati na kanksati: he acts to serve the Supreme Brahman, the Supreme Spirit, the original self—so he never laments; neither does he hanker. That is a brahmana.
At a huge festival in Poland, thousands of people get immersed in the culture of Krsna consciousness.
By Krsna-krpa Dasa
THIS SUMMER I joined devotees from sixteen countries on the last three weeks of Indradyumna Swami's Polish Festival Tour, which took us to five towns, four beaches, and the mammoth Polish Woodstock Festival.
The highlight of the tour was Woodstock, a massive two-day concert held each August with fifty bands from all over the world. About 350,000 people, mostly young, attend the festival, organized by philanthropist Jurek Owsiak. He puts on the annual event to thank the many young people who help him raise money for Poland's poor and sick children. For six years, he has invited Hare Krsna devotees to Woodstock to share our philosophy and way of life with others and help keep the attendees engaged and the event peaceful.
Although Woodstock lasts two days, the devotees' festival lasts three, beginning a day earlier. The day before our festival began, we chanted for two hours along the streets of the nearby town of Zary, an accordion and a trumpet complementing our usual drums and cymbals. Many people waved to us, some danced along with us, and half a dozen kids followed us most of the way, some helping by carrying flags. A small crowd formed when we stopped, and some people listened for an hour.
The devotees' camp at Woodstock is known as Krishna's Village of Peace. While our main tent was being set up, Indradyumna Swami talked with an old acquaintance, the local fire chief.
Indradyumna Swami later recalled: "The chief of the fire department said, 'The people of Zary have been waiting all year for you to come. They look forward to Krishna's Village of Peace.' Then he smiled and said, 'Do you remember last year when you visited our fire department and gave me a Bhagavad-gita?'
"Reflecting for a moment, I replied, 'Yes, I remember.'
"'I've been reading it all year, almost every day. It became particularly relevant for me last month when one of my colleagues died fighting a house fire. From that book I understood that the soul is eternal.'"
Krishna's Village of Peace was bigger than ever this year. Five hundred and forty devotees attended, rendering a variety of services.
Every year the devotees stage a special event, such as a Vedic marriage or a Janmastami celebration. This year it was a Jagannatha Rathayatra parade. Before the parade, the mayor of Zary and an ex-mayor, now a member of parliament, took part in an inauguration ceremony. The parade went for almost two hours through acres of tents occupied by many tens of thousands of people. Some danced, some chanted, some helped pull the cart, some took pictures, and others watched with curiosity. One young man stared for a long time and then repeatedly joined his palms together in obeisance to Jagannatha, the Lord of the universe. Television cameras filmed the event for the evening news.
I was assigned to the temple tent, one in a semicircle of tents facing our main tent, which—though a hundred yards long, and with room for ten thousand—was often full in the evening. At one end a stage held Krsna conscious entertainment, scheduled from noon to midnight for three days. In reality, an enthusiastic audience kept the stage show going each night until around 3:00 A.M. Our professional sound system spread the transcendental vibrations several hundred yards in all directions. The stage show included Indian dances, a Ramayana play, a martial arts demonstration, a pantomime on reincarnation, a puppet show of Krsna's pastimes, devotional singing accompanied by traditional instruments, and a variety of bands—from the reggae Village of Peace, to the hardcore Shelter—playing songs with Krsna conscious lyrics. Whenever any of the bands played on our main stage, people in the crowd would dance, sometimes by the thousands. The last band of the evening played traditional devotional music, and on the final evening the listeners crowding our main tent didn't want us to stop. They shouted "more, more" in Polish until we promised to go on as long as they agreed to sing and dance.
In the temple tent, devotional chanting and lectures went on continuously from noon to midnight. Fifty to a hundred people were always on hand, becoming cleansed of lifetimes of karma and becoming attracted, even if imperceptibly, to Krsna's devotional service. We taught batches of people the maha-mantra and the "swami step," a simple dance taught by Srila Prabhupada, and many chanted and danced along with us with great pleasure. The devotees who put on festivals in England, originally organized by Tribhuvanatha Dasa and now headed by Giridhari Dasa, were a great asset, and they performed much of the chanting in the temple tent.
Other tents held prasadam, a gift shop, a book store, a face-painting booth, an information booth, a questions-and-answers booth, a soft-drinks concession, a meditation area, a Vedic astrology booth, and displays on vegetarianism, reincarnation, and science and Krsna consciousness.
The most amazing aspect of the festival was the mass distribution of prasadam. Dozens of devotees cooks prepared prasadam at several school kitchens around Zary, and in three days over 92,000 full meals were distributed. I'm awestruck when I think of the hard work of organizing and carrying out such a feat.
I asked devotees I was traveling with what was special about Woodstock for them.
Dharmatma Dasa: "In my thirty years as a devotee, this is one of the most dynamic and enlivening preaching programs I've seen. Next year will be my third visit to the Polish festivals, and I can't wait. Every devotee should take part and feel the bliss at least once in his or her life."
Devala Dasa: "Indradyumna Swami told me that what gives him the most pleasure is seeing the happy looks on the faces of the people as they tour the grounds of the Village of Peace. That same joy is felt by all the devotees on the tour. To see the reactions of the different people is wonderful. Young, old, black, white, some clean looking, some bedraggled, but all there with the same feeling of awe and reverence as they watch the plays or listen to the lectures. A lot of people come and spend morning until evening, hearing lectures, taking prasadam, discussing philosophy, and chanting and dancing to all the different bhajana bands and Krsna rock groups."
Dvijapriya Devi Dasi: "I feel that the most impressive and incredible aspect of the Woodstock festival is the devotees who organize and take part in it. I was constantly amazed by their tireless enthusiasm and dedication to making sure every soul at the festival had a positive experience of Krsna consciousness. I could see that what really attracted people more than anything else was the blissful atmosphere of the Village of Peace, and especially the genuine sweetness and friendliness of all the devotees they met. My family and I are looking forward to going again next year and, we hope, traveling on the whole summer tour."
Ananda Krsna Devi Dasi, from Poland but living in the U.S., recalls her impressions from when she went four years ago: "What I saw completely surpassed my expectations. First, I had never taken part in such a large cultural event. Second, I was amazed by Indradyumna Swami's team of devotees. They looked really professional, motivated, organized, cooperative, confident, and enthusiastic."
During the festival I would think how Srila Prabhupada had begun his Hare Krsna movement in America by giving young people addicted to intoxication and illicit sex the opportunity to hear about spiritual life, the chanting of the holy name, and the teachings of Bhagavad-gita, and to taste Krsna-prasadam, sanctified food. Many became transformed into saints who could inspire others in spiritual life. I saw the same activity going on, by Prabhupada's grace, at the Polish Woodstock Festival, in another time and another place. People were taking it seriously and becoming attracted to a spiritual and godly life.
Krsna-krpa Dasa, a disciple of His Holiness Satsvarupa Dasa Goswami, serves at the Alachua, Florida, branch of the Bhaktivedanta Institute, the science division of the Hare Krsna movement. Write him at email@example.com.
This article was abridged from a much longer version, which can be found on our Web site—with many more photos: www.krishna.com/371
By Indradyumna Swami
Vara-Nayaka, Nandini, Radha Sakhi Vrnda, and I arrived a few minutes early, and the mayor's secretary had us wait in the reception room. Suddenly a television crew from TVN 24 (the Polish version of CNN) burst into the room. The woman reporter apologized to the secretary for being late.
"I'll say you're late," the secretary said. "You were supposed to be here an hour ago!"
A few seconds later the mayor opened his door and saw two sets of visitors waiting.
Smiling, he said, "I'll see the Hare Krsnas first—they're more important."
He opened the door wider, and we walked in. Closing it, he asked us to sit down. Two seconds later, the door was flung open again, and the television crew entered with cameras at the ready.
Turning on a big light, the reporter asked the mayor, "You don't mind if we film your meeting with the Hare Krsnas, do you? It will make a great story!"
Calm and collected, the mayor said, "Not at all," and he began praising our participation in the Woodstock Festival.
"The members of the Hare Krsna movement have brought a wonderful culture to the Woodstock Festival," he said. "We were proud to have them in our town. They have an important message for the young people of our country. And just see how they are always so happy!"
The reporter soon asked to speak to the mayor alone, and we left the room.
Just as we were going out, she asked that we wait outside the building. She wanted to ask some more questions. A few minutes later she came out with the cameraman.
Setting up in front of the town hall, she said, "This will be on the national news. Here's your chance."
As the camera began filming, I stood under the Polish national flag and spoke to the nation: "As members of the Hare Krsna movement, we are very happy to be participants in this great event of Woodstock. Jurek Owsiak invites us every year because we truly imbibe the two themes of this event: non-violence and working to help young people overcome drug abuse. Our formula is very simple: We chant names of God—Hare Krsna, Hare Krsna, Krsna Krsna, Hare Hare/ Hare Rama, Hare Rama, Rama Rama, Hare Hare. And we distribute vegetarian food offered to God. These simple activities can purify anyone's heart."
I WAS SURPRISED when Mr. Gupta told me that although he'd read some of Prabhupada's writings, he still wasn't sure what the goal of life was. After we'd talked a little, though, I understood that Mr. Gupta's confusion wasn't quite what I'd thought at first. His doubt went something like this:
"I think I live a religious life. I work to support my family, and every day I take time to chant mantras and worship God. This would seem to be enough, but I sense that Prabhupada wants more. Am I missing something?"
Mr. Gupta's question came after a talk I'd given on the philosophy of Krsna consciousness. I had ended by encouraging the audience to take advantage of the many things Prabhupada gave us for our spiritual progress: his books, his Society, his disciples, his prescribed daily spiritual program, the chanting of the maha-mantra, and so on. So Mr. Gupta may have been thinking, "I'm already Krsna conscious. I worship the Lord. Why are you asking me to do more?"
Mr. Gupta's question goes to the heart of what Krsna consciousness is all about. Krsna consciousness is more than performing our daily mantras, rituals, and meditations. Krsna consciousness is self-realization and God-realization. It's above prayers for material rewards. It's pure, exclusive love for Krsna. To be truly Krsna consciousness means to live in transcendence.
Krsna consciousness is above ordinary religion, in which the followers tend to identify the body as the self: "I'm a Hindu" or "I'm a Christian" or "I'm a Muslim." A Krsna conscious person thinks, "Whether in the body of a Hindu, a Christian, a Muslim, or whatever, each of us is a spirit soul, an eternal servant of Krsna."
Religious designations don't exist in the spiritual world. There everyone is simply the servant of the Lord.
Krsna consciousness entails changing our consciousness. Material illusion, beginning with the mistake of identifying with the body, now grips our consciousness. Prabhupada prescribed spiritual practices that remove the material illusion and lift us to the platform of the soul.
Like most followers of any religion, Mr. Gupta thought that performing the rituals and following the rules of his faith are all that's needed for salvation. But Lord Krsna teaches that for salvation we must awaken our natural pure love for Him. Otherwise, we'll be reborn into this world after death, even if we've performed all our religious duties.
Besides, the goal of life is not salvation but pure love for Krsna. That's a rare achievement, and we don't get it by rituals. Krsna is a person, and He decides who gets love for Him, especially by seeing who satisfies His servants. They are His pure representatives in this world, and we must take guidance from them in how to love Him.
A study of Srila Prabhupada's life and teachings shows that He was Krsna's pure representative. Mr. Gupta's sense that Prabhupada was nudging him to do more was correct. Prabhupada was an extraordinary preacher who inspired thousands of people to rise above religious dogmas to pursue spiritual perfection. Human life is meant for spiritual progress. At the end, we should know clearly our identity as eternal servants of the Lord.
Lord Krsna is very much pleased with His devotees, even if they are not on the topmost stage of devotional service. Even on the lower stages of devotional service one is transcendental, and if one continues with devotional life, he continues to be a deva or sura [godly person]. If one continues in this way, Krsna will always be pleased with him and will give him all instructions so that he may very easily return home, back to Godhead.
His Divine Grace A. C. Bhaktivedanta Swami Prabhupada
If one becomes a bookworm, reading many books and scriptures and hearing many commentaries and the instructions of many men, this will produce doubt within his heart. One cannot in this way ascertain the goal of life.
Srila Krsnadasa Kaviraja Gosvami
I continually glorified the Lord and meditated upon Him for millions of years, and at last I was able to understand the transcendental form of the Lord as Sri Krsna, in the dress of a cowherd boy.
Even if a great genius could somehow or other, after a time-consuming effort, count all the particles of dust on the surface of the earth, such a genius could never count the attractive qualities of the Personality of Godhead, who is the reservoir of all potencies.
The holy name of Lord Krsna is the sweetest of all sweetnesses and the most auspicious of all auspiciousness. It is completely spiritual, and it is the transcendental fruit of all Vedic literature. If an ordinary human being chants the holy name of Krsna even only once with faith, or even in the spirit of mocking Him, the holy name will deliver the chanter from the bondage of repeated birth and death.
Skanda Purana, Prabhasa-khanda
No knowledge is a pure as the holy name of the Lord. No vow is as powerful as the holy name. No meditation in the world is like the holy name. No philosophy brings a result like the holy name. No renunciation is greater than the holy name. Nothing will ever be equal to the holy name.
Srila Haridasa Thakura