August 28 2008 – Mayapur

Sitala had to rush off to Vrndavana yesterday for an unspecified period to try and ensure that the Radhastami outfits get completed and sent off on time. Tough for her because her health isn’t that great and she just got back from two months on the road in Poland. Still I am sure the temples will appreciate her sacrifice if she gets the outfits to them on time.

My day was rather slow. I still feel a bit of exhaustion from the tour and settling into a routine hasn’t happened yet. I have to start serious writing to complete Vol. 6 of Transcendental Diary by Gaura Purnima so that’s an anxiety looming.

I cut my finger nails today. I can’t stand them long because they get in the way when I am typing.

   a bit long for typing

Srila Prabhupada also didn’t like long nails. For one thing, they get dirty easily and thus become an entryway for disease into the body; he used to trim his with a steel implement with a single angled cutting edge. Seeing His Divine Grace cut his nails short, I also learned to follow suit. And for another good reason:

July 15, 1976 – Pennsylvania Farm (now Gita Nagari)

By 11:00 a.m. we were pulling into the farm entrance. A handful of devotees, led by Paramananda dasa, greeted him. We were taken to a small, wooden, two story residence where Srila Prabhupada could take his massage. During the massage I pointed out a thumb-sized lesion over the joints of his toes, resulting from the two-hour foot massage I gave him in New York. Prabhupada just shrugged it off, saying that when the body ages the healing processes do not work as well — that was what old age meant. I was relieved he took it so lightly.

Once before, when discussing his massage with a visitor, he looked over in my direction and said half-jokingly, “Sometimes he cuts me!” Prabhupada’s good humor lessened my mortification. But it’s for this reason I keep my fingernails very short.”

Speaking of nails, I always remember to be very careful about disposing the cuttings, not just for cleanliness’s sake, but because of an incident in 1972 at the old Sydney temple when it was still in Glebe.

Madhudvisa Swami had arrived some months before to become the GBC and resident sannyasi and preacher. We were all raw, young recruits. He had been in the movement a long time — over 4 yrs. and he had spent time in India to boot. We were grateful for his wisdom and guidance.

This particular evening, I happened to see one of the brahmacaris, Gaura Gopal das, sitting in the opened sliding door of a Volkswagan van, cutting his finger and toe nails. He was just letting the parings drop to the ground. Madhudvisa Swami went past and warned him, “Gaura, you had better not leave any cuttings around. If you do, it will attract thieves!”

Gaura Gopal was surprised-incredulous in fact. How could leaving nail cuttings attract thieves? It seemed like a superstitious old wives’ tale. He didn’t want to be disrespectful to our sannyasi leader, but he clearly couldn’t accept it. “Naw, it will be alright, Maharaja.”

Madhudvisa told him, “OK, well I am just telling you what they say in India. Leaving nail cuttings around is sure to bring thieves.”

The next morning an astonished Gaura Gopal opened his van door only to find that it had been broken in during the night and his tape recorder and other small items had been stolen. He swore he would take Madhudvisa Swami’s advice a lot more seriously in the future.

And I have, since that time, always made sure that when I cut my nails, the cuttings get flushed down the toilet. I am not going to take the risk.

Is it an old wives tale and it was just an unlucky coincidence? Did Krsna arrange it so that Gaura Gopala would show a bit more respect to a sannyasi? Or is there something to it? It’s a fact that in tantra, spells can be cast on a person if some hair or nail clippings can be obtained.

All I can say is that many years later I was told by a devotee who had lived in India for some years that there is some folklore that says that if you cut your nails on a particular day of the week, you get a certain type of result. I don’t remember now what they are, but one is especially advised not to cut them on Sundays because it brings adverse results. I always follow that – just in case!

1. Gauragopala dasa
August 29th, 2008 at 9:08 pm

Hari Bol, I remember that incident very clearly, I never have since left ‘nail clippings’ around outside and always flush down the drain. Even during trials and tribulations, this is one thing I would never neglect. I often wondered why this was so engrained on my consciousness and not the fact that poor sadhana is the only cause of spiritual weakness and ‘forgetfulness’ (Except how to properly dispose of nail clippings)

This incident left a lasting impression upon me. I remember how Hari Sauri Prabhu often spoke of this incident for years later, even in classes, warning others to correctly dispose of their nail clippings.

He may also remember that we were told that leaving nail clippings around not only attracts thieves, but such an unclean act attracts ghosts

In addition to this, about two years later, I went and saw my father. During my visit one morning, I found him cutting his nails inside the house. I then told him what happened to me and also added nail clippings left around also attract ghosts, he never heeded my advice to cut nails outside, ironically the next day his house was broken into and after that till the day he died, he never ever cut his nails inside again.

Hare Krishna

All glorious to Srila Prabhupada

Your fallen servant Gauragopala dasa

2. Madhava_bbsr
August 30th, 2008 at 7:12 pm

I’ve looked into this a little over the years. The famous Vedic astrologer B. V. Raman in his book, “Muhurtha” has written:

“Cutting Nails. – Avoid Fridays and Saturdays – the 8th, 9th, 14th lunar days as well as New and Full Moon days. Cutting nails means discharge of electricity from the human body and one should be careful to see that the reaction on the human body is not adverse.”

I’m not sure of the reason, but in most of the Gaudiya Maths, sannyasis, brahmacaris, and vanaprasthas shave their heads and cut their nails on full moon days. It’s generally considered that if they are cut on the full moon day, hair and nails will grow back faster.

Thanks for your nice blog Prabhuji. I hope this was some help.

Your servant,
Madhavananda Das

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