Archive for the 'Q&As' Category

Q&As: Was Srila Prabhupada conditioned? [part two]
5 November 2009

Here’s the second part of the question regarding Srila Prabhupada’s alleged projection of personal sexual frustration into his presentation of Krsna consciousness:

Question:

Here is the phrase in question, corresponding to SB 10.58.17-19.  The
troublesome words are two, “raised breasts.” We would be very much pleased
to hear your expert opinion in regard to this matter.
Your servant,
Vraja-kumara das
While resting and drinking water, they saw a beautiful girl of marriageable
age walking alone on the bank of the Yamuna. Krsna asked His friend Arjuna
to go forward and ask the girl who she was. By the order of Krsna, Arjuna
immediately approached the girl, who was very beautiful. She had an
attractive body, nice, glittering teeth and a smiling face. Arjuna inquired,
“My dear girl, you are so beautiful with your raised breasts. May I ask you
who you are? We are surprised to see you loitering here alone. What is your
purpose in coming here? We can guess only that you are searching after a
suitable husband. If you don’t mind, you can disclose your purpose. I shall
try to satisfy you.”
>>> Ref. VedaBase => KB 58: Five Queens Married by Krsna

Here is the phrase in question, corresponding to SB 10.58.17-19.  The troublesome words are two, “raised breasts” [which are not in the original Sanskrit]. We would be very much pleased to hear your expert opinion in regard to this matter.

Quote from Krsna book, chapter 58: “Five Queens Married by Krsna”

“While resting and drinking water, they saw a beautiful girl of marriageable age walking alone on the bank of the Yamuna. Krsna asked His friend Arjuna to go forward and ask the girl who she was. By the order of Krsna, Arjuna immediately approached the girl, who was very beautiful. She had an attractive body, nice, glittering teeth and a smiling face. Arjuna inquired, ”My dear girl, you are so beautiful with your raised breasts. May I ask you who you are? We are surprised to see you loitering here alone. What is your purpose in coming here? We can guess only that you are searching after a suitable husband. If you don’t mind, you can disclose your purpose. I shall try to satisfy you.”

Answer:

This reply is a little lengthy but it is necessary in order to establish the proper perspective on this question. This is a serious issue and I humbly request you to please give this a serious read.

In giving this description in his summary study ‘Krsna’ Srila Prabhupada is simply following the lead of Srila Vyasadeva, the author of the Srimad Bhagavatam.

vyasa

In the SB there are many places where the beauty of a woman includes a description of her breasts. They are mentioned specifically as being “raised” “projecting upwards” etc. I will give some examples of this later in this text.

What to speak of material women, there are specific descriptions of Krsna’s queens, or the Gopis intimately playing with Krsna, which also mention that a component of their spiritual beauty is their attractive breasts, which are sometimes compared to cakravaka birds.

Consequently, when Srila Prabhupada includes the phrase “raised breasts” in his summary study of the 10th Canto description of the meeting between Krishna, Arjuna and Kalindi, Srila Prabhupada’s addition of this phrase is not at all material, nor is it a product of his lust, frustration, attraction to the forms of material women etc. It is a factual parampara expression of the transcendental beauty of one of Lord Krsna’s eternal and most intimate devotees, His wife Kalindi. Even though it is not directly in the text, it is still a fact and Srila Prabhupada’s addition of it is perfectly spiritual.

Kalindi is part of the internal energy of the Lord. She is a direct expansion of Radharani.

Krsna sakhi_yugal

She is the Yamuna personified and one of the eight principle queens of Lord Krishna. As such there is no material aspect to her beauty. As Srila Prabhupada writes in the SB 1st Canto:

SB 1.11.31

“Unbelievers become astonished to learn that Lord Krsna married more than 16,000 queens because they think of Lord Krsna as one of them and measure the potency of the Lord by their own limited potency. One should know, therefore, that the Lord is never on the level of the living beings, who are but expansions of His marginal potency, and one should never equalize the potent and the potency, although there is very little difference of quality between the potent and the potency. The queens were also expansions of His internal potency, and thus the potent and potencies are perpetually exchanging transcendental pleasures, known as pastimes of the Lord.”

And again, according to Srila Visvanatha Cakravarti Thakura,

visvanatha

as quoted by Hridayananda Maharaja in his purport of SB 10.83.40:

“In the opinion of Srila Visvanatha Cakravarti, Srimati Laksmana became embarrassed when she realized that she had been talking about herself, and so she spoke this verse praising her co-wives. In her humility Laksmana claimed that Krsna’s queens, unlike ordinary wives, could not bring their husband under control, and thus they could relate to Him only as servile housekeepers. In fact, however, since the Lord’s queens are direct expansions of His internal pleasure potency (hladini-sakti), they fully controlled Him with their love.”

Srila Jiva Goswami in his Krsna-sandarbha, describes the queens of Krsna as expansions of His internal potency, and Srila Sukadeva Goswami, at the end of his narration of Narada Muni’s visits to the palaces of the queens of Dvaraka, says,

“Lord Hari is the ultimate cause of universal creation, maintenance and destruction. My dear King, anyone who chants about, hears about or simply appreciates the extraordinary activities He performed in this world, which are impossible to imitate, will surely develop devotion for the Supreme Lord, the bestower of liberation.”

Srila Prabhupada summarizes this verse in the Krsna book by saying:

“In narrating the activities of Lord Krsna in Dvaraka, Sukadeva Gosvami explained to King Pariksit how Lord Krsna, the Supreme Personality of Godhead, descends to this material universe by the agency of His internal potency and personally exhibits the principles which, if followed, can lead one to achieve the ultimate goal of life. All the queens in Dvaraka, more than sixteen thousand in number, engaged their feminine attractive features in the transcendental service of the Lord by smiling and serving, and the Lord was pleased to behave with them exactly like a perfect husband enjoying household life. One should know definitely that such pastimes cannot be performed by anyone but Lord Sri Krsna, who is the original cause of the creation, maintenance and dissolution of the whole cosmic manifestation. Anyone who attentively hears the narrations of the Lord’s pastimes in Dvaraka or supports a preacher of the Krsna consciousness movement will certainly find it very easy to traverse the path of liberation and taste the nectar of the lotus feet of Lord Krsna. And thus he will be engaged in Lord Krsna’s devotional service.”

Therefore if Srila Prabhupada, as a pure devotee, includes an additional description of Kalindi’s beauty, there is no wrong in that, it is rather an aspect of his service and glorification of the Lord and His internal devotees. It is meant to show us that the great devotees of the Lord please Him by their personal beauty and service attitude which is all offered for His pleasure.

Now I shall give some examples where Srila Vyasadeva has included in the SB some descriptions of the breasts of women. In reading this you can just reflect on whether Vyasadeva was doing this because of his own frustrated sex life, or because there is some transcendental purpose.

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Q&As – #5
3 October 2009

chant (1)

Here’s the fifth question from the devotees in the CIS, which is in two parts:

Question 5-1.

Hare Krishna, dear Hari Sauri prabhu! Please, accept my humble obeisances!

Please, tell me what can be done if I want to take a daily service to Sri Krishna, to go to lectures, attend programs and participate in sankirtana, but reading the morning japa is not going well. If this oblation make my body feel bad, and I’ m not rather of myself, because “bad” thoughts all time go to my mind, and the feeling of happiness at the end of the 4th circle is not always achieved, and if achieved, then quickly disappears, and sometimes I cannot even read the 3 laps? Although I can easily read 4-8 rounds in daily or evening time mentally.

Answer:

The basis for all our other service is the chanting of the Holy names.

chant

Srila Prabhupada prescribed the chanting of a minimum 16 rounds per day if we want to make steady advancement. We can judge whether we are making progress by our desire and ability to chant at least 16 rounds daily. In Chaitanya Caritamrta Srila Prabhupada says that if we cannot chant 16 rounds daily we are in a diseased condition of spiritual life.

There is a cartoon Srila Prabhupada once saw in an American newspaper. An old man and an old woman were sitting on a park bench watching a group of devotees chanting. The old woman turned to the old man and said, “Chant, chant, chant!” The old man replied, “Can’t, can’t, can’t!” Srila Prabhupada cited this in a class and to the laughter of the devotees he said that unless one is on the liberated platform, he cannot chant the Holy Names. So conversely, if we are chanting regularly, then we should know we are on the transcendental platform.

So I would recommend that before any other service, your chanting should come first. And then whatever you can do after that is fine.

If you feel that your chanting is artificial and you often don’t have any feeling for it, it doesn’t matter. In the beginning we may not have a higher taste and it may be difficult to chant. But by practice you can gradually develop a good taste for it.

The example is given of a man who has jaundice. When you have jaundice you lose your taste for sugar; in fact it becomes very bitter–actually the sugar is not bitter but the diseased man’s taste is distorted so that it seems bitter. Nevertheless, eating rock sugar is the cure for jaundice. As the disease diminishes, the taste of the suger comes back. When the man is healthy, the sugar again tastes very sweet. Similarly, we are in a diseased condition of material existence and we do not like to glorify and take shelter in the Holy Name, which is Krsna Himself. Still we should chant because chanting is both the means (cure) and the goal.

Even if it feels artificial, it will still act because the Holy Name is real, it is not an illusion. It is our bitter perception and our disturbed mind that is not real and that has to be changed. By constant chanting the change will come naturally.

Question 5-2:

And also, please, give me advice about mosquito problem. There are bugs around my place and every summer evening, in spite of any efforts, the mosquitos penetrate into the apartment. It is impossible to suffer them but having knowledge to use different fumigator is unpleasant.

Answer:

Srila Prabhupada advised us not to kill any living being if we can avoid it. However, if we are attacked,

mosquitos

we can defend ourselves.

bug_gun

When I was with Srila Prabhupada we used a number of methods to stop them attacking His Divine Grace while he was translating in the night:

[From Transcendental Diary Vol 1]

January 18 1976 – Mayapur

In the early evening, just on dusk, a few of the senior devotees and myself were sitting with Prabhupada in his room, conversing. From a distance and gradually drawing nearer, we heard the loud trumpeting of a conch shell accompanied by bell ringing and the chanting of mantras. Bhavananda Maharaja laughed and told Prabhupada it was Anantarama Sastri, an Indian devotee in his mid-twenties who joined us last year with three other sastris. Unfortunately the others left, but he has stayed on. As his name implies, he is very knowledgeable in the scriptures and well-versed in the performance of various types of puja. He can also quote practically any Sanskrit verse from memory.

Bhavananda explained that each evening as the sun goes down, he tours the building, floor by floor, with a bell, conch, and a large, clay incense burner, chanting various mantras to keep away ghosts and other subtle beings.

The sound grew louder and Prabhupada smiled in welcome as Sastri entered his room in a cloud of frankincense, the reverberations of the conch temporarily drowning out our conversation. It was an impressive ritual, made more so by Sastri’s ability to both blow air through his mouth and suck it in through his nose at the same time, thus keeping the conch blowing uninterruptedly for several minutes. He walked around both rooms, waving a bamboo fan over his clay bowl to disperse the fragrant smoke. It also acts as an effective mosquito repellent. After a couple of minutes he respectfully backed out the door and continued his nightly round.

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Q&As from the CIS
18 September 2009

Here’s number three:

3. Hare Krishna! Please, accept my humble obeisances, Hari Sauri prabhu!
You said “Islam is definitely mayavada as is Buddhism”, but how it can be, if the Lord Chaitanya in the dispute with Abdullah Patani proved that Allah is personality in the Koran? And besides, even if someone worships to impersonal aspect of God, can we call him mayavadi because impersonal aspect is also God?
While its a fact that a deep reading of the Koran can reveal that God is ultimately the Supreme Person, as Sri Caitanya Mahaprabhu explained, the fact is that almost all Muslims are in denial of this.
There is an injuction that one should not ascribe mundane characteristics to God, or describe Him in mundane terms. They think it is the greatest offence to speak about God in personal terms–to describe his characteristics and form etc. They think He is so great that He cannot be described and that to describe Allah as a person is to reduce him to ordinary human status or to make him simply a product of our mundane experience or minds.
This is typical mayavada thinking. Thus you will see in Vrindavana and other places in India so many temples where carvings depicting demi-gods or Krsna Himself, or the Dasa-avataras, have been smashed by invading Muslim forces. The faces, hands and feet of these figures have especially been destroyed.
As far as whether a person who worships the impersonal feature of the Lord is a mayavadi or not, that depends on their mentality. There is a difference between an impersonalist and a mayavadi.
Some persons, as they progress in spiritual understanding, come first to an appreciation of the impersonal Brahman. If they are not offensive, they may progress further to Paramatma realization and finally to Bhagavan. This is because each stage has some aspect of bhakti, and because of this Krsna is disposed to reveal Himself more and more. The four Kumaras are examples of this, as is Sukadeva Goswami.
The mayavadis however are those unfortunate souls who, after realizing the all-pervasive aspect of the Lord, stop at that point and claim that God cannot be anything other than impersonal. They decry the other stages of realization, they decry the spiritual form of the Lord and they interpret the incarnations of Krsna and His many forms as transformations of material nature. They are in fact offensive to the Personality of Godhead and because of this they cannot make any further advancement. In fact, when they leave their bodies they becomes almost non-entities like stones or trees.
So we have nothing against a genuine impersonalist, if they are progressive in their spiritual quest. But we reject the Mayavadis outright because they can destroy a person’s whole spiritual advancement with their word jugglery and their envy of the Supreme Lord.
Your humble servant,
Hari-sauri dasa

Q3. Hare Krishna! Please, accept my humble obeisances, Hari Sauri prabhu!

You said “Islam is definitely mayavada as is Buddhism”, but how it can be, if the Lord Chaitanya in the dispute with Abdullah Patani proved that Allah is personality in the Koran? And besides, even if someone worships to impersonal aspect of God, can we call him mayavadi because impersonal aspect is also God?

Ans: While its a fact that a deep reading of the Koran can reveal that God is ultimately the Supreme Person,

800 years old Koran

800 years old Koran

as Sri Caitanya Mahaprabhu explained,

Caitanya

the fact is that almost all Muslims are in denial of this.

As I understand it, in the Koran there is an injuction that one should not ascribe mundane characteristics to God, or describe Him in mundane terms. They think it is the greatest offence to speak about God in personal terms–to describe his characteristics and form etc. They think He is so great that He cannot be described and that to describe Allah as a person is to reduce him to ordinary human status or to make him simply a product of our mundane experience or minds.

This is typical mayavada thinking. Thus you will see in Vrindavana and other places in India so many temples where carvings depicting demi-gods or Krsna Himself, or the Dasa-avataras, have been smashed by invading Muslim forces. The faces, hands and feet of these figures have especially been destroyed.

As far as whether a person who worships the impersonal feature of the Lord is a mayavadi or not, that depends on their mentality. There is a difference between an impersonalist and a mayavadi.

Some persons, as they progress in spiritual understanding, come first to an appreciation of the impersonal Brahman. If they are not offensive, they may progress further to Paramatma realization and finally to Bhagavan. This is because each stage has some aspect of bhakti, and because of this Krsna is disposed to reveal Himself more and more. The four Kumaras are examples of this, as is Sukadeva Goswami.

The mayavadis however are those unfortunate souls who, after realizing the all-pervasive aspect of the Lord, stop at that point and claim that God cannot be anything other than impersonal.

AUM

They decry the other stages of realization, they decry the spiritual form of the Lord and they interpret the incarnations of Krsna and His many forms as transformations of material nature. They are in fact offensive to the Personality of Godhead and because of this they cannot make any further advancement. In fact, when they leave their bodies they becomes almost non-entities like stones or trees.

So we have nothing against a genuine impersonalist, if they are progressive in their spiritual quest. But we reject the mayavadis outright because they can destroy a person’s whole spiritual advancement with their word jugglery and their envy of the Supreme Lord.

Your humble servant,

Hari-sauri dasa



Q&As from the CIS
18 September 2009

I just received a few questions from the Russian forum so I will try to post them one by one.

Q1) Here’s question one (questioner was not identified):

Dear Maharaj. I have a question to you which probably was asked to you not once. 4-th principle. More and more they say it is possible in the family life. I don’t doubt in it at all. But what about the people who gave vows. If the mataji  gives a vow, and then getting marry with not initiated devotee. Or just with friend of Krishna.

The situation is: Mataji is getting marry with vegetarian, who likes Krishna’s consciousness. This lovely guy does not want to follow to 4-th princip at all. But their relations are getting to the serious level. And in this moment older vaishnavs offer to take [give] initiation this mataji as soon as it possible, she was dreaming about it last 10 years. What should she do in this case? Broke relations which are close to marriage? Or for example to get initiation and then just follow her matrimonial debt, implying that husband violates it, but not she? ))

Ans:

First of all, please don’t address me as ‘Maharaja’, I have a long way to go before I become qualified for that title!

This is the closest I will come to being a Maharaja!

This is the closest I will come to being a Maharaja!

Prabhu‘ is our usual way of addressing each other.

I don’t know these people personally so I can only answer this in a general way.

I think this girl is being tested by maya. Just as she is coming close to making a committment to Krsna by accepting the vows of initiation, along comes an ordinary soul who does not even want to follow the basic principles of human life, what to speak of the spiritual principles for making advancement back to Godhead, and she becomes attached to him.

This will end in spiritual disaster for her if her boyfriend is not interested in being a devotee. Not only is he not going to following the ‘no illict sex’ principle, which will make it impossible for her to observe also, but it seems from your question that he is an intoxicator etc. Even if he is a vegetarian, that is not an indication that he wants to develop spiritually. So where is there any question that a devotee can be happy being married to such a mundane person? If she wants to move closer to Krsna then marriage to this man, no matter how lovely he seems to be, will not help her.

The bare facts are that after a couple of years of marriage the ‘honeymoon’ period is over and things become routine and hard work. The excitment of each other’s company becomes less and the daily uninspiring routines take over. If this girl has already developed a taste for Krsna consciousness, it will become difficult for her if her husband does not want to encourage or cooperate with her spiritual efforts.

king-kong-and-the-mrs

However, if he is not inimical to Krsna consciousness, if he is interested in devotional life, then maybe she can gradually bring him closer to Krsna by her own devotional practice. That can sometimes happen but it is difficult.

I am sure there are other perspectives on this, but this is one you might consider seriously.

Here’s question one:
1. Dear Maharaj. I have a question to you which probably was asked to you not once. 4-th principe. More and more they say it is possible in the family life. I don’t doubt in it at all. But what about the people who gave vows. If the mataji  gives a vow, and then getting marry with not iniciated devotee. Or just with friend of Krishna. The situation is: Mataji is getting marry with vegetarian, who likes Krishna’s consciousness. This lovely guy does not want to follow to 4-th princip at all. But their relations are getting to the serious level. And in this moment older vaishnavs offer to take initiation this mataji as soon as it possible, she was dreaming about it last 10 years. What should she do in this case? Broke relations which are close to marriage? Or for example to get initiation and then just follow her matrimonial debt, implying that husband violates it, but not she? ))
First of all, please don’t address me as ‘Maharaja’, I have a long way to go before I become qualified for that title! ‘Prabhu’ is our usual way of addressing each other.
I don’t know these people personally so I can only answer this in a general way.
I think this girl is being tested by maya. Just as she is coming close to making a committment to Krsna by accepting the vows of initiation, along comes an ordinary soul who does not even want to follow the basic principles of human life, what to speak of the spiritual principles for making advancement back to Godhead, and she becomes attached to him.
This will end in spiritual disaster for her if her boyfriend is not interested in being a devotee. Not only is he not going to following the ‘no illict sex’ principle, which will make it impossible for her to observe also, but it seems from your question that he is an intoxicator etc. Even if he is a vegetarian, that is not an indication that he wants to develop spiritually. So where is there any question that a devotee can be happy being married to such a mundane person? If she wants to move closer to Krsna then marriage to this man, no matter how lovely he seems to be, will not help her.
The bare facts are that after a couple of years of marriage the ‘honeymoon’ period is over and things become routine and hard work. The excitment of each other’s company becomes less and the daily uninspiring routines take over. If this girl has already developed a taste for Krsna consciousness, it will become difficult for her if her husband does not want to encourage or cooperate with her spiritual efforts.
However, if he is not inimical to Krsna consciousness, if he is interested in devotional life, then maybe she can gradually bring him closer to Krsna by her own devotional practice. That can sometimes happen but it is difficult.
I am sure there are other perspectives on this, but this is one you might consider seriously.

Your humble servant,

Hari-sauri dasa



Q&As Birthdays
25 May 2009

May 25 2009

Here’s a question about observing birthdays from someone who prefers to be anonymous:

“During Prabhupada’s time, was there anything special done on devotee’s birthdays — particularly temple/ashram brahmacharis/devotees. Anything like a festival/program/feast or glorification for that devotee on that particular day. What was Prabhupada’s mood regarding this. Did he offer any special mercy to you on your birthday? What is our standard today?”

Answer:

There was no special observation of regular devotees’ birthdays. We were always taught that the only birthdays that should be observed were that of the spiritual master and the Supreme Lord.

Sometimes Srila Prabhupada followed traditional culture and offered some bangles or ornaments to small children on their birthdays. When his son Brindaban Candra had a baby girl, Srila Prabhupada gave him one of his gold rings as a gift for the child.

In Folio also you can find a letter addressed to Sally Agarwal where Srila Prabhupada gives his blessings to her baby girl on her third birthday and says:

New York
19 November, 1965
65-11-19

My dear daughter Sally,
I beg to thank you for your kind letter of the 16th instant and I have noted the contents carefully. I am glad to learn that you had been to your parents house for a few days and now you have returned home. I am still more glad to learn that you are going to observe the third birthday of Miss Kamala Agarwal on Saturday next. On this occasion I should have presented her some ornaments but as I am a Sannyasi I can simply offer my blessing for her long life and good prosperity. She cannot now read otherwise at least I should have presented a set of my books. But you set aside one set of my books for her future reading when she will grow up a beautiful and educated girls with full god consciousness. …”

I know a lot of devotees like to observe the birthday of other devotees with a cake or some other observation. Personally I don’t have any enthusiasm for observing birthdays and I have been known to completely forget my own.

resize-of-p1060539.JPG

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Q&As Eating healthy and Srila Prabhupada’s prasadam
22 May 2009

    These questions about prasadam and cooking for Srila Prabhupada are from Bhakta Shane:

Question:

Prabhu – I have few questions to ask and would appreciate if you could kindly speak about this subject.

I’m studying Ayurveda and alternative naturapathy and also want to eventually help to bring about better diet and health understandings for devotees as part of that study – for instance in Australia according to some devotees I’ve talked to there have been 9 devotees in last few years that have had their gall bladders removed – (gall bladder  is there to break down fatty foods as part of its function ) so that is a very high statistic and probably avoidable as well. It would be a very good service if you could do this.”

gallbladder.jpg

gall_bladder4.jpg

The body beautiful–how galling can it be?

Answer:

When I joined the Sydney temple in Feb. 1972 the prasadam was quite opulent. There wasn’t much sense of healthy eating. If it was offerable to Krsna, it was on the menu, and in no small measures either. The combination of ghee and sugar was a revelation that saved many a new devotee from blooping.

ghee.jpg

Oh ghee whizz! Saviour of the fallen!

Breakfast was quite simple, mainly fruits and homemade yoghurt and porridge. The real kick was lunch. Rice and dhal, homemade bread, vegetables soaked in ghee, varieties of sweets like rasagulla and gulabjamuns, sweet rice, puris, pakoras and lots of deep fried items.

On top of that, we had the “brahmacari offering” at about 6 PM every evening. We would return from our afternoon SKP, our youthful bodies having already digested the huge lunch and be feeling ravenous again. Most of us were brand new devotees and suffering sensory deprivation from our adoption of the devotional lifestyle. Eating was our compensation. Satisfaction of the tongue was our only sense enjoyment. So the cooks would make a large pot of halava with liberal amounts of nuts and raisins or a variety of berries,

halava.jpg

which would be offered to a picture in the kitchen and then distributed hot out of the pot. The trick was to make the halava with at least one inch of melted ghee floating on the surface. The brahmacaris would line up in the hallway outside the kitchen door with their stainless steel bowls, eager for their evening charge of sugar and ghee drenched grains.

And what to speak about the Sunday ‘love feast’.

prasad.jpg

George liked a little appetizer too

It wasn’t uncommon for us (me anyway) to down at least three heaped platefuls of prasadam and then stash some for the evening or next morning. Bhakta Bernard I remember, once ate 13 bowls of halava for the feast and then stashed 6 more for his breakfast the next morning (Not surprisingly, he never got initiated and blooped after a few months).

My record was six plates in one Sunday feast. A short time after devouring the last one, I developed acute indigestion.

resize-of-hassid_indigestion_133779.jpg

It got so progressively bad that I actually became afraid that I would collapse and die. Somehow after half an hour or so of morbid repentence and fervoured prayer

resize-of-skeleton.jpg

the pain in my midriff subsided and I took a solemn vow to never eat as much again. From that time on I restricted myself to a maximum of three plates at a sitting.

Well OK, I tell a lie. There was one occasion after that when we were on TSKP to Brisbane. It was a newly opened temple, populated mainly by ex-hippies and young counter-culture dropouts. We arrived in the double decker bus that had been converted into a traveling temple. The sign on the side of the bus read “The Hare Krishna Movement – The Positive Alternative”.

sydneybus3.jpg

February 1972–Australia’s first traveling temple

I took the slogan to heart. The cooks didn’t really know much so the main sweet was “Simply Wonderfuls”

simply-wonderful.jpg

which were simply ghee, sugar and milk powder rolled into balls. Highly addictive. I ate 24 before developing extreme sugar burn in my throat and esophagus. After that I couldn’t look at one for about five years.

Anyway, I digress. When Srila Prabhupada arrived on April 1, 1972 on his second visit to Australia he stayed for a few days.

p4200100.JPG

sp-sydney-1972-desk2.jpg

Srila Prabhupada, April 1972 with Mohanananda dasa, the Sydney temple president

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Q&As Krsna is the only enjoyer
28 April 2009

April 28 2009

This is just in from Daria prabhu, who has just taken up the service of being my new translator on Krishna.ru

“My son Ganesha das and I have met with you in Mayapur last year in November, you even wrote  my son’s name “Ganesha prabhu” in the book “Diary” that you wrote and published. My son is 11 years old and you wrote him “prabhu” – it was first time in his life 🙂

Answer:

“Certainly he is our prabhu. These great souls are the future hope of the Krsna consciousness movement, and the fact that they have been given the opportunity to take up Krsna consciousness right from the very beginning of their lives is an indication that they were advanced devotees in their last lives. So they may well be far more advanced than we are and are thus worthy of being addressed as prabhu.”

Gurukula children New Vrindaban June 1976

October 28 1976 – Vrindavana

[TD5-SB class]

Prabhupada’s attempt to provide the best possible opportunity to those pious souls who have been given the connection to Krsna through birth is displayed in his ongoing concern for the development of the gurukula. Surveying the young boys sitting attentively before him, he explained: “[They are] ringing the karatalas, chanting, dancing, offering obeisances to the Lord–temple atmosphere. Don’t think it is ordinary opportunity. It is very great opportunity. From the very beginning of life they are getting impression, bhakti yoga. Vasudeve bhagavati bhakti yoga. These are not going in vain. Even a child is playing karatala, imitation. Not imitation. He’s given the chance. He was previously Vaisnava. Somehow or other, he could not make his life perfect. Therefore he is given again chance. So naturally he has got tendency to play the karatala, to offer flower here, to offer obeisances. They take pleasure. It is due to previous life, yoga. But it was not perfectly done, so somehow or other they are getting chance from the very beginning of life.”

OK, I digress. Here’s the actual question:
Daria: I consider it an honour to try and translate your answers and questions of our people to you.

Here is the first question. It’s from Seva (male).

“Usually the sense of love and thankfulness rises within me towards people who give from their heart freely. For example if I see some devotees who sacrifices their own wishes to Krishna or to other beings, I feel sympathy for these devotees and I really wish to give something good to them. How can I love Krishna if all He is doing is always taking pleasure and nothing more?”

Answer:

I think Seva prabhu has yet to understand the real nature of love. It is apparent that he is setting conditions on the activities of those he wants to give his love to, and if those persons do not meet his personal requirements or standards, he does not feel inclined to love them. This is not love, this is Seva prabhu’s sense gratification. He wants everyone to be subordinate to his so-called love.

As far as Krsna goes, what can we say about the statement “How can I love Krishna if all He is doing is always taking pleasure and nothing more?” Does Seva prabhu seriously think this is all Krsna is doing?

Krsna’s position is perfectly described in Bhagavad Gita Bg 5.29:

bhoktaram yajna-tapasam
sarva-loka-mahesvaram
suhrdam sarva-bhutanam
jnatva mam santim rcchati

TRANSLATION
“A person in full consciousness of Me, knowing Me to be the ultimate beneficiary of all sacrifices and austerities, the Supreme Lord of all planets and demigods, and the benefactor and well-wisher of all living entities, attains peace from the pangs of material miseries.”

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Krsna is described as the bhokta, the ultimate enjoyer. Why? Because He alone is the source of all the lokas, or planets and universes. He pervades the creation in his form as Supersoul, supplying all the necessities of life to every living being (not just humans). He provides the air we breathe, the water we drink, the earth we eat in the form of foodstuffs, the rainfall, the sunshine and every other aspect of our lives. The entire creation is simply a transformation of Krsna’s energies. Krsna is quite literally everything.

Krsna is everything

Everything and everyone is subordinate to Krsna’s will. He is second to none, the creator, maintainer and destroyer of all things, and He is the master of time. We are simply insignificant, infinitesimal particles of His existence. Without Krsna, we do not exist.

Even in ordinary logic we see that one who owns something, controls it. If you don’t own something, how can you control it? And one who controls something, has the right to enjoy it. If you don’t own something, and if you have no control over it, how can you enjoy it?

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Q&As ISKCON sutra
25 April 2009

April 25 2009

Here’s an interesting inquiry from Shyama Gopal dasa about a well-known sutra that was chanted all over ISKCON in the 70s, when book distribution was booming and ISKCON was expanding like anything:

“Prabhu, I was just reading articles on your blog site (great site!) as one devotee referred me to your blog this morning.

“I wanted to ask you about: “Books are the basis, preaching is the essence, utility is the principle, and purity is the force.”

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Books are the basis

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Preaching is the essence

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Utility is the principle

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Purity is the force

Answer:

We did a lot of research about two years back but noone could find the original source of this sutra. However, it was used on the masthead of the ‘Sankirtan Newsletter‘ that Srutadeva prabhu was putting out every week in the mid-70s. Srila Prabhupada was sent copies and used to read every issue:

October 30 1976
[TD 5]

“When Prabhupada flew from New York to London in July, Srutadeva prabhu and his family from Baltimore accompanied our party to take up a new service in England. On Jayatirtha prabhu’s request, he has taken up the post of temple president at Bury Place. Srutadeva used to compile the weekly Sankirtana Newsletter, which, along with the official BBT monthly newsletter sent out by Ramesvara Swami, keeps the temples around the world (and Srila Prabhupada) up-to-date with temple book distribution scores. Whereas the BBT newsletter bases the temple rankings in the monthly competition on the amount of laxmi they send in to the BBT each month, Srutadeva’s Sankirtana Newsletter lists individual book distributors’ scores as well as all of the books sold by category-small, medium, large, and maha-large-in each temple per week. Since he started it in 1974, his newsletter has helped fuel the competitive book distribution spirit amongst the temples and devotees and is read and appreciated by Srila Prabhupada. Now, with his move to England, he has stopped this service and handed it on to another devotee in Los Angeles.”

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Q&As Prasadam
16 April 2009

April 16 2009

Here’s a good question about prasadam from Padmanabha prabhu at Govinda Valley, a highly successful yoga retreat center run by devotees an hour south of Sydney Australia.

“As you know at Govinda Valley we cook first class prasadam for our guests, which they greatly appreciate.

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Its a real art though to cook the right quantities. On the one hand we don’t want to waste and on the other hand we don’t want (not even) one guest to go without. Because there’s all kinds of different groups, some very yoga who eat very little, others who eat much more, the kind of weather it is, etc.. etc… So many factors that make it really difficult to discern how much to cook.

We have many discussions about it and have very different opinions about what should be done with leftovers. Some say : Srila Prabhupada said that after two, three hours one shouldn’t eat the prasadam anymore and one should definitely not warm up prasadam.

So I wanted to ask you for clarification: ‘How did Prabhupada deal with:
-the amounts to cook?
-what to do with leftovers?
-how long can you keep eating the same prasadam?

At the moment we have ‘a standard’ on non retreat days that we cook every day fresh but add to it prasadam maximum one day old and maximum one time reheated. On retreat days we can turn a kichari or a sabji into a blended soup, if its from the same day. But we still have discussions and differences of opinions.

Can you help us out, Prabhu?
Thank you very much.

Your servant,
Padmanabha Dasa
Govinda Valley Retreat
www.govindavalley.com

Answer:

This is a good question about how prasadam left overs should be used. There is an interesting story in this connection.

In 1975 the whole Caitanya Caritamrta was published. In Australia we received it a little later than other places but we read it eagerly. After the GBC Madhudvisa Swami read about the reactions to offenses to prasadam, he decided on a new policy for Sunday feast left-overs. This does not mean the prasadam that was left in the pots. It means the prasadam that visitors left over on their plates.

The previous policy was to dump it in bins and then take it to the ocean and throw it in the sea for the fishes to eat. We had been doing this for many years. When I joined in 1972 in Sydney, we used to take a dustbin full out to the Gap or some other such cliff top place, crawl out along a ledge so we were directly above the ocean and then dump the bin’s contents, paper plates and all, into the sea.

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It was difficult to separate the food from the plates so we used to throw the lot in. However it was troublesome and, apart from the guilty feelings of dumping garbage into the sea, we were always apprehensive about being caught.

Sometimes we would bury the leftovers in a shallow pit in the back yard. After the pit was full we would cover it with earth. That seemed to work quite well and in fact, we noticed after some months that the place where the remnants had been buried became very luxurious with fresh green grass growing, whereas the rest of the yard was usually dry and barren.

Anyway, in Melbourne in 1975 Madhudvisa decided that it was an offense to throw away prasadam, even if it had been already eaten by karmis at the feast. So his new policy was that on Monday morning, all the left overs, including the remnants from the visitors plates, would be put on trays, re-heated and served out for breakfast.

Needless to say this was the cause of much contention and debate with some devotees flatly refusing to eat it.

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Q&As #11 Srila Prabhupada’s brahmin thread
16 April 2009

April 15 2009

This final question in the CIS series is from Vyasa Shuno das:

“When you were personal servant of Srila Prabhupada most probably you had a chance to see how Srila Prabhupada changed his Brahmin thread. My question is how many lines it consisted of? I ask because there is an opinion that brahmacari should wear 3 line thread, grihastha should have 9 line thread (3 for his wife) or should we have regular 6 lines thread – the way they are available on the market?”

Answer:

The whole time I was with Srila Prabhupada as far as I remember, he wore six threads on his upavita (sacred brahmin thread). I never heard him say that the number of threads was particularly important. The main thing is to chant the gayatri mantra correctly, it doesn’t matter how many threads are chanted on.

According to HH Sacinandan Swami in his book “The Gayatri Mantra” :

“At the time of second initiation, men receive from their guru a sacred thread called the yajnopavita (or simply upavita). Yajnopavita means literally “that which surrounds Visnu” (yajna=Visnu; upa-vi-ta means surrounding). The idea is that a brahmana wears a thread that surrounds Lord Visnu.

Srila Prabhupada writes: “The sacred thread is a sign of those who are competent to study the Vedas from the acarya or the bona fide spiritual master … The spiritual master accepts only the sincere inquirer as his disciple and gives him the sacred thread.”

Yadubara and his wife Vishakha are given second initiation:

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Devotees often wonder how many single strands the upavita should have. The brahmanas in Indian culture usually wear nine threads.

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According to some Vaisnavas, these nine threads symbolize the nine processes of bhakti (sravanam, kirtanam etc) Others say they refer to the nine islands of Sri Navadvipa-dhama, and yet others say they represent the nine stages from sraddha to prema, as explained in Bhakti-rasamrta-sindhu, (therefore some Vaisnavas have explained, these three ideas correspond to one another.)

Srila Prabhupada wore three times three threads when he was placed in Samadhi. Other Vaisnavas in the Gaudiya tradition wear six single threads to signify the six Goswamis. From this we can conclude that the exact number of threads is ultimately not so important.”
[end quote from TGM]

While Srila Prabhupada liked us to learn more about our Vaisnava culture he didn’t like it if we got too caught up in the fine details. The main point is to worship Krsna and acceptance of the sacred thread is a major step forward in that process.

Your humble servant,
Hari-sauri dasa



Q&As #10 Faith and Religion
15 April 2009

April 15 2009

Here’s #10 from Ananga Manjari dd in the CIS:

“Can you please explain the difference between religion and faith?”

Answer: 

 How many essays do you want? 🙂

 Your question is rather vague also. You have not defined either religion nor faith, as you understand them, or as others generally take them.

 Briefly, religion nowadays is taken as a social protocol, with certain rites and rituals. Most people only skate on the surface without ever penetrating the deeper aspects. Thus their practice of religion is superficial. Many people also list a particular religion as their religion just because they were born in a particular family and country etc. They have no particular affinity to it, it is just another label attached to this body.

 Some people however want to penetrate a little deeper and gain a personal experience and realization of their religion, and deepen their faith.

There are many people who have rejected the standard religions such as Catholicism or various types of Christianity. There are many faith-based expressions such as Pentecostal, various forms of Protestants etc. These are people who wanted to get away from the shallow ritualistic show of formulated religion and actually experience God. However, they themselves have become religions and their so-called spontaneous expressions have become shows only.

 Take for example the so-called ‘charismatic’ Christian religions practiced by the ‘born-again’ Christians. A great show is made of being touched by some preacher

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and then fainting in ‘ecstasy’ or spiritual delerium.

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But it is an emotional show only. Ask such persons if they can tell you anything about God, and they cannot.

 Unfortunately due to a lack of knowledge, any kind of sentimental experience beyond the ordinary scope of daily life is taken as a ‘spiritual experience’ when in fact it has nothing to do with real spiritual life. Simply some adjustment of the mind or intellect is taken as spiritual but these types of experiences are within the three modes of nature and are products of bewildered persons’ minds and senses.

Its not just the Christians either, most people of the world have only a superficial understanding based on their identification with their temporary bodies. The real spiritual plaform can only be experienced when we understand we are not this body. When we rise above the demands and gratification of the body, mind, and intellect, and we connect with Brahman in His three features, then we can experience the divine. This also requires the guidance of a self-realized soul, someone who has actually seen the absolute truth and can accurately convey it to others. It is a science, not a sentiment.

 Therefore Srila Prabhupada says that Krsna consciousness is neither religion nor faith, both of which can be changed. Krsna consciousness is the actual experience of God in his different features, under guidance of shastra and guru. He often said that the Krsna consciousness movement is an educational movement meant for the upliftment of all mankind.

In this interview in New York on July 14 1976 with a reporter from Newsweek Srila Prabhupada stressed this educational aspect of his ISKCON: 

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Q&As #9 The Holy Name is everything
15 April 2009

April 11 2009

Here’s question #9 from Laxmana Prana das:

“In the purport to SB 4.24.40 Srila Prabhupada writes: “The real quintessence of sabda-brahma is the sound of Hare Krishna mantra. To the one who chants these transcendental sounds all material and spiritual truths are revealed.” And further: “In his prayers Lord Shiva begs the Supreme Personality of Godhead to show us His mercy so that just by chanting Hare Krisna mantra we could understand everything existing both in material and spiritual worlds…”

My question is: “How can we understand everything in this world simply by chanting Hare Krishna mantra?”

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Answer: 

The Hare Krishna maha-mantra is directly Krsna Himself.

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When we realize that the name and the Lord are the same, we come to the self-realized platform.

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Because Krsna is everything, both material and spiritual, when a devotee realizes that Krsna is everywhere, then everything becomes known to him.

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It is revealed to him by Krsna, due to his intimate connection. Otherwise it is not possible to know what this material world is, what to speak of the spiritual world.

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We can only gain whatever knowledge Krsna chooses to reveal to us. No matter how intelligent we think we are, we are covered by the three modes of material nature. Only when Krsna is pleased with us are we relieved of the cloud of ignorance that currently shrouds our consciousness. We can know what He wants us to know, and we cannot know what we want to know if Krsna does not consent. If there is no sun, our power of seeing is useless.

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Thus even very intelligent persons are constantly bewildered if they are not devotees of the lord. And someone, even if they may not appear to be very intelligent, can know everything if Krsna reveals it to him. It is therefore not a question of brain power.

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Q&As #8 Srila Prabhupada’s letters
11 April 2009

April 8 2009

Bhakta Stanislav asks:
“Can you please tell me if Srila Prabhupada always personally replied his letters or may be sometimes his secretaries did it for him? If his secretaries did that what was the procedure? Did they sign the letters as secretaries? Did they show their replies to Srila Prabhupada for approval?”

Answer:

Good question.

In the early days Srila Prabhupada would hand type all his letters himself. However this soon became too difficult and as soon as he started traveling and his disciples started opening new centers, he took the service of a full time secretary and servant.

The general principle was that the secretary would deal with the mail. After my first day of traveling with Srila Prabhupada to Kuruksetra, we arrived back in Delhi:

December 1st, 1975 – New Delhi
[TD1]

It was about nine in the evening when we arrived at No. 9 Todar Mal Lane. As he sat in his room, Prabhupada inquired about the day’s mail. Generally, Prabhupada’s mail is handled exclusively by his secretary. But, since Hansaduta had gone off to get something to eat at Nathu’s, Srila Prabhupada sent me to the temple to collect his mail. When I handed him the letters, to my great surprise, he asked me to open them and read him the contents. It was a privilege that I eagerly although nervously accepted. Tearing open the envelopes one by one, I read out the messages. Prabhupada also opened a few and inspected them.

Pusta Krsna Swami sent one from South Africa, describing his plans to purchase a Mercedes in Germany and drive it here for Prabhupada’s use in India. One was from Kirtiraja dasa in Los Angeles. He is moving to Europe in order to begin preaching in Poland. Another, written by Gopiparanadhana dasa, contained a translation of the first chapter of Srila Bhaktivinoda Thakura’s work Sri Caitanya-siksamrta. There were several other letters as well.

Just as Prabhupada was finishing his reading, Harikesa came in. Shocked to see me reading Prabhupada’s mail, he proceeded to chastise me, disregarding the fact that Srila Prabhupada was present right in front of us. “This is to be done only by the secretary,” he said angrily, “You have no business even touching the mail!”

Srila Prabhupada did not say a word. He merely stood and walked quietly into his bedroom to take rest. Harikesa meanwhile continued to emphasize his point. “If Brahmananda was still the secretary, you’d never get away with this!” He cooled off, however, when I explained that Srila Prabhupada himself had asked me to read to him. Harikesa conceded that under the circumstances I had no choice but to do it.

In one sense Harikesa was right. Prabhupada’s mail is private and is not to be dealt with whimsically. From Harikesa’s point of view I am just a temporary helper, and thus I should be careful not to tread on the more exclusive domain of Srila Prabhupada’s regular servants. Otherwise Prabhupada himself will be disturbed in his daily activities.

Nevertheless, we both understood that, while recognizing a certain preeminence of his senior men, in the aggregate Prabhupada doesn’t discriminate. If the right man is not around, he employs whoever is available. To him we are all his disciples in the service of Krsna, and he engages anyone who is willing and available, according to necessity and the devotee’s own capacity.

Accepting my action as an innocent response to a direct request from Srila Prabhupada, Harikesa relented. Then I joined Srila Prabhupada to give him his massage.

December 2nd 1976 – Vrindavana

Prabhupada changed into his gamcha and sat on the straw mat.

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As I began to massage him, Hansaduta arrived with the mail. Prabhupada sometimes replies to his letters at mid-morning, but more often during his massage. Hansaduta read each letter one by one, writing down Srila Prabhupada’s replies exactly as he dictated them.

It is instructive and entertaining to hear various ISKCON reports from all over the world, both the problems and the successes, and to hear Prabhupada’s responses to them. He is very punctual in answering, always replying within a day or two of receiving a letter. He answers a letter as if the correspondent is there in front of him. His responses are accompanied by all the same facial gestures that mark his conversations — appreciative raising of his brows and widening of his eyes, a slight tip of his head, bright smiles, scolding looks. He gives each letter his full attention and his replies are expressive and personal and always to the point.

Today he dealt with the letters received in New Delhi. …

Each day after taking dictation, Hansaduta types the letters and later, in the evening, places them on Prabhupada’s desk. Each one is clipped to an addressed envelope, a carbon copy, whatever enclosures there might be, and the letter being replied to. In the night Prabhupada reads and signs them. They are mailed the next day.”     [end quote]

So this was the general standard. Later in 1976 when Harikesa Swami was Srila Prabhupada’s secretary,

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he noted that some letters of a routine nature or with questions that had been answered many times before, did not really need a reply from Srila Prabhupada. They could be replied by the secretary and thus save Srila Prabhupada from a small part of the burden:

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Q&As #7 Did HH Visnujana Swami have disciples?
8 April 2009

April 8 2009

This one is from Bhakta Iskatel about one of early ISKCON’s favorite preachers:

“Hari Sauri Prabhu, can you clarify one point regarding Visnujana Maharaj.

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Did he initiate anyone or just brought new people to Srila Prabhupada? If he did initiated anyone are they still in the movement and what are they doing?”

Answer:

HH Visnujana Maharaja disappeared in March 1976. By 1977 Srila Prabhupada accepted the likelihood that he had committed suicide by drowning in the Ganga at Allahabad.

You can read about Visnujana Maharaja’s last personal exchange with Srila Prabhupada in Transcendental Diary Vol 1, March 11th:

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the last photos taken of Visnujana Swami before he disappeared in March 1976

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Visnujana Maharaja, the tall, charismatic co-leader of Radha Damodara TSKP, who was listening in the background, spoke up for the first time. “Srila Prabhupada, how did Chota Haridasa achieve perfection by killing himself after apparently pouring water[sic] on his devotional creeper by talking to a woman?”

He was referring to the close associate of Lord Caitanya who drowned himself in the Ganga after being rejected by the Lord.

Prabhupada’s reply was very grave. “His instance was that even an associate of Caitanya Mahaprabhu can fall down. And if one falls down, his punishment is that, suicide. There is no other punishment. He must commit suicide. This is Caitanya Mahaprabhu’s instruction. Otherwise he is Caitanya Mahaprabhu’s personal servant. He cannot fall down. But Caitanya Mahaprabhu showed this instance that ‘Even one is My personal servant, he can fall down.’ And if anyone by any cause he falls down, his punishment is he must commit suicide. This is instruction.”

Everyone’s eyes widened as they took in the statement.

Srila Prabhupada elaborated. “This falldown, there is possibility in any moment because we are very small. We can be captivated by maya at any moment. Therefore we shall be very, very careful. And if you fall down, then punishment is you make suicide. That’s all. Then next life we shall see.”
[end quote]

After this conversation, Visnujana Maharaja left Mayapur without telling anyone and was never seen again by any ISKCON devotee.  In April 1977 the co-director of Radha Damodara TSKP and Visnujana’s closest friend, Tamal Krishna Goswami, reported to Srila Prabhupada that some information had been received about a tall western sannyasi who had paid a boat man in Allahabad to take him out into the middle of the Ganga and that he had jumped in the waters and didn’t come up again. Since Visnujana Swami had not been seen for over a year, Srila Prabhupada accepted the likelihood that it was him. When asked what his fate would be, Srila Prabhupada was reported to have said that “Now he is preaching on the heavenly planets.”[note: this story was told to me by Tamal Krishna Goswami].

As far as your question goes as to whether he had any disciples, no, there was no question of his having any disciples of his own since he left his body  before Srila Prabhupada.

In the presence of one’s own guru one is not supposed to make disciples of his own. It is against the etiquette as Srila Prabhupada stated in this letter to Tusta Krsna Swami December 2 1976 sent from Vrindavana:
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Q&As #6 Any old story?
3 April 2009

April 3 2009 – Rama Navami ki Jaya!

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Here’s question #6, a very topical subject from Bhakta Ilya Zaharov:

I heard that in Vrindavan there are many stories about Radha and Krishna which are being spread around by the word of mouth amongst Vrijabasis but they are not written in any bona fide sastras. What was Srila Prabhupada’s attitude to these stories ?

Answer:


    Srila Prabhupada said very clearly that unless we can verify any information or mantras we hear, from shastra or from our bona-fide acaryas, then we should not accept them. They may be true, or they may not be true. But shastra is our guide and reference.

On another occasion Srila Prabhupada chastized a learned Sanskrit scholar who had joined ISKCON, for making up a poem in which he incorrectly presented the philosophy:

January 25 1976 – Mayapur
[TD 1]

As we walked around, Anantarama Sastri joined us. Srila Prabhupada expressed his satisfaction that such an educated man has joined our movement, and he instructed Bhavananda Maharaja to make sure he is well looked after so that he may not go away.

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Anantaram Shastri holding microphone at the opening of the bank in Vrndavan KB mandira on April 5 1976 —see photos section for more pictures

“Although a somewhat self-conscious individual, Sastriji was eager to recite a poem he had composed for Srila Prabhupada’s pleasure. As we walked, and without asking first, he broke out into  melodious verse, singing the praises of Bhagavan Sri Gopala — or at least it seemed so. His chanting was impressive to my untrained ear; but Srila Prabhupada was alert. When Sastri sang naciye naciye aile gopala, “My dear Gopala, please come to me dancing,” Prabhupada stopped him. “Don’t manufacture knowledge. Take knowledge from Bhagavan. Don’t order Bhagavan. Just follow Bhagavan. That is not wanted. Do not write concocted poetries. That is not beneficial. Simply follow.”

“Srila Prabhupada told him that his singing was sense gratification because he was giving instruction to Gopala, “please come to me, naciye, dancing.” He stressed that our process is to take instruction. “It is all nonsense. Why should you ask Gopala to come to you? You cannot order. You must follow. We are to carry out the order of God, not to order God to carry out my order. That is mistake.”

“Prabhupada went on for some time, condemning the attitude with which people generally approach God. He explained that in India they sing a traditional arati song which repeats the words sab ko sampatti de bhagavan. De bhagavan means “give me.” And in the West, he explained, the Christians also have the same idea. “The whole world,” Prabhupada observed, “they have accepted God as order supplier: I order, You supply. The Christian church also, ‘God, give us our daily bread.'”

“And if God doesn’t give, then God is dead,” Tamal Krishna Maharaja added.

“Dead. This is going on. And our prayer is, ‘I don’t want anything. Simply engage me in Your service.’ This is the real prayer, which is taught by Caitanya Mahaprabhu.”
[end quote]

In a discussion about chanting on September 6, 1976 in Vrndavana, Srila Prabhupada made these comments about the necessity of following our acaryas:

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Q&As #5 Srila Prabhupada’s passport
3 April 2009

April 3 2009 – Ramnavami ki Jaya!

Here’s question 5 of 11 from Vanamali Nrisimha das:

Hare Krishna, Hari Shauri Prabhu!
Can you please tell me the exact dates of Srila Prabhupada’s visit to Moscow in 1971? I had an information that he arrived on the 20th of June but I couldn’t find any bona fide confirmation of that date.

Answer:

Srila Prabhupada’s passport shows that he entered via Moscow on June 20 1971 and he left on June 26. If you check my website blog on lotusimprints.com you will see a photocopy of the passport entry.

And here it is:

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Women pujaris: another letter from Srila Prabhupada
2 April 2009

Sriman Gaura prabhu from Canada just sent me this letter from Srila Prabhupada to Amsu das, wherein he clearly affirms the right of women to do pujari work:

Vrindaban
13 August, 1974
74-08-13
Toronto

My Dear Amsu das:
Please accept my blessings. I beg to acknowledge receipt of your letter
dated July 23, 1974 and have noted the contents. Regarding the worship of
our Gaura Nitai by women pujaris, we worship Lord Caitanya in His
householder life when He was with His wife, and not as a sannyasi. So, it is
alright for women to do this service. But, besides this, service is
spiritual and there can be no material designation. In Bhagavad-gita it is
stated by Lord Krishna: striyo vaisyas tatha sudras te’pi yanti param gatim.
The principle is that everyone who is properly initiated and following the
rules and regulations can worship. This activity can not on the material
platform.
According to the smarta vidhi, women cannot touch deity during menstrual
period but the goswami viddhi allows. But it is better not to do it. One
thing is that the seva can never be stopped for any reason. This also for
the cooking.
I hope this meets you in good health.
Your ever well wisher,
A.C. Bhaktivedanta Swami
ACBS/bs/ps



Q&As: #4 Srila Prabhupada’s former family
2 April 2009

April 2 2009

Here’s an interesting two-part question about Srila Prabhupada’s former family (a sannyasi’s previous family relationships are always referred to as ‘former’)

sp-father.jpg

Radharani De; Srila Prabhupada holding eldest son Prayag Raj; Gaura Mohan De; other family members

sp-family.jpg

Srila Prabhupada, his brother, and three of his children-Prayag Raj, Mathura Mohan and Sulaxmana.

From Chanakya Pandit das:

a) “What kind of useful lessons can young members of ISKCON can take from Srila Prabhupada’s family life?”
Answer:

This is a big topic. There are many angles of view on this. It is best always to have the positive view because all of Srila Prabhupada’s family were Vaisnavas of one kind or another. It is no small thing to be born in the same family as such an exalted devotee as Srila Prabhupada.

The main thing is that Srila Prabhupada demonstrated how to become Krsna conscious within family life. He did his duty of having a family and maintaining them while at the same time developing his eternal relationship with his spiritual master. The two are not incompatible but rather complimentary.

b)    “Have anyone from Srila Prabhupada’s physical children become real Vaisnava? How his children were brought up?”

Answer:

Srila Prabhupada told me that all of his family were Vaisnavas, for many generations. Their traditional family Deity is still being worshiped after several hundred years.

On December 22 1976 Srila Prabhupada went by car from Poona to Mahabaleshwar. His hosts were the Malhotra brothers, Sat Pal and Harish Kumar:

[From TD 6 -unpublished]

Read the rest of this entry »



Q&As: #3 Are Christians mayavadis?
1 April 2009

April 1 2009

Here’s question #3 from the CIS:

“Did Srila Prabhupada ever mentioned in his talks or wrote somewhere that Christianity is mayavada? If he did how should we understand it?” [author not identified]

Answer:

I don’t know of any specific statement from Srila Prabhupada that Christianity is mayavada. If anything, it is not because they worship the personal aspect of the son of God, Jesus.

jesus_king.jpg

Islam is definitely mayavada. If you look closely at some of the sculptures in the older temples in Vrindavan, you will see that many of the figures have their hands, faces and other features broken off. This is was the result of Muslim attacks on Hindu temples, especially during the time of Aurangzeb. Many temples in Vrndavana were desecrated such as the Radha Govinda mandira which had its top three floors knocked of by the forces of the envious Aurangzeb.

govindaji-mandir.jpg

Buddhism is generally impersonal or sunyavada, although there are some sects that worship a form of Buddha and having a relationship with him on a heavenly planet is their ultimate goal. Judaiism has no personal form of worship.

Here is an interesting letter Srila Prabhupada wrote to an editor of the Los Angeles Times:

Los Angeles
14 January, 1970
70-01-14

Executive Senior Editor
Los Angeles Times
Times Mirror Sq.
Los Angeles, Cal.
Dear Sir,
With reference to your article in the Los Angeles Times dated Sunday 11th January, 1970 under the heading “Krishna Chant,” I beg to point out that Hindu religion is perfectly based on Personal conception of God or Visnu. Impersonal conception of God is a side issue or one of the three features of God. The Absolute Truth is ultimately the Supreme Personality of Godhead, the Paramatma conception is localized aspect of His omnipresence and the impersonal conception is the aspect of His greatness and eternity. But all combined together makes the Complete Whole.

“Dr. J.F. Staal’s statement that Krishna cult is a combination of Christian and Hindu religion — as if something manufactured by concoction — is not correct. If Christian, Mohammedan or Buddhist religions are personal that is quite welcome. But Krishna religion is personal from a time long, long ago when Christian, Mohammedan and Buddhist religions had not yet come into existence. According to the Vedic conception, religion is basically made by the Personal God as His laws. Religion cannot be manufactured by man or anyone superior to man. Religion is the law of God only.

“Unfortunately all the Swamis who came before me in this country stressed the impersonal aspect of God without sufficient knowledge of Personal aspect of God. In the Bhagavad-gita, therefore it is said that only less intelligent persons consider that God is originally impersonal but when He incarnates He assumes a Form. But Krishna philosophy based on the authority of the Vedas is that originally the Absolute Truth is the Supreme Personality of Godhead. …”
[end quote]

You see from this that the impersonal aspect of God is the one most commonly recognized, and therefore you will find that even so-called followers of the Vedas are mainly mayavada, what to speak of other religions whose literature does not touch upon the personal aspect of God.

Your humble servant,
Hari-sauri dasa



Q&As: #2 Can women do puja and aratis?
31 March 2009

March 31 2009

This is from Susila dasi:

Hare Krishna! Please accept my obeisances. All glories to Srila Prabhupada!
We have an argument with devotees regarding matajis serving on the altar. Should Matajis do pujas during aratis. What was Srila Prabhupada’s opinion in this regard?
Thank you.

Answer:

From the very beginning of Deity worship in ISKCON Srila Prabhupada encouraged the women to do the puja, aratis, dressing, cooking etc. There is no question of women not being allowed.

radhaseva.jpg

Indeed, Srila Prabhupada personally trained an older lady disciple, Shilavati dasi, how to worship Radha Krsna deities to the right standard. Shilavati was then sent to other temples to train other pujaris, or other pujaris were sent to Los Angeles to be trained by Shilavati.

Letter to: Hladini  –  Surat 29 December, 1970

My Dear Hladini devi,
“Please accept my blessings. I am in due receipt of your very nice letter dated 28th November. I am glad to learn that the Deities are being cared for there in Chicago so nicely by your good self. I personally gave instruction to Silavati how to care for the Deities properly when I was in Los Angeles and you were trained up by her. So I am confident that everything is going on nicely.
Proper Deity worship, with all attention to cleanliness, is of the utmost importance. If you can please the Deity by your sincere service, then your temple will flourish. To be able to personally serve the Deity is a great privilege and such a person is very fortunate indeed. So you continue in this way and Krishna will surely bless you.”

Here’s a letter from Srila Prabhupada to Rukmini dasi:

Letter to: Rukmini  –  Los Angeles 20 March, 1970
“Deity worship means to be very, very clean. You should try to bathe twice daily. The Deities should never be approached without having bathed first and changed to clean cloths after passing stool, etc. Keep teeth brushed after each meal, fingernails clean and trim. Be sure that your hands are clean before touching anything on the altar or the Deities. And cleanse the Deity room, altar and floor daily thoroughly. Shine the various Aratrik paraphernalia after Aratrik. This is described in the booklet for pujaris written by Silavati Dasi. The idea is summit cleanliness — that will satisfy Krsna.”

In this letter to Kancanbala  –  Los Angeles 20 April, 1970 Srila Prabhupada advises her to consult with three other women to learn Deity worship:

“I am very glad also to know that you are engaged as Pujari there. Try to learn this art of Arcana very nicely. You can consult in this connection Himavati, Yamuna and also Silavati. I wish that all our girl devotees be expert in the matter of Arcana and cooking. The temple and altar should always be very clean and decorated with flowers and incense. We shall touch the Deity altar and Deity in very clean condition, after taking bath and washing mouth nicely. Practice washing hands after eating and wash with soap and water after toilet. Cleanliness is next to Godliness, so this point should be very carefully observed, then you will advance very quickly to the perfectional stage of Krishna Consciousness.”

And in this letter Srila Prabhupada instructs one of his male GBCs to learn from Silavati:

Letter to: Jagadisa  –  Calcutta 17 September, 1970 

“If you a have got sufficient devotees to take care of the Deities as you have seen how in the Los Angeles Temple, take instruction from Yamuna and Silavati how they are worshiping and the installation procedure is given on a separate sheet.”

Finally, in this letter to Karandhara dasa on 19 September, 1970 Srila Prabhupada praises his women disciples for their expertise in Deity worship:

Regarding Deity worship, Silavati and Yamuna Devi may be considered expert, so if some new hands come and take their help, that is a good proposition. Once established, however, Deities should not be removed. We should treat the Deities as the Personality of Godhead, and to invite Him to come to your home you must worship regularly. You cannot remove. If there is scarcity of pujaris, then Deities should not be installed, only pictures of Guru and Gauranga should be worshiped. Irregularity in worshiping Guru and Gauranga can be tolerated, as they are always kind and forgiving, but irregularity in worshiping Lord Jagannatha and Sri Sri Radha Krishna is not good.”

There are more, but I think the point is established.

The only places where there was some restriction was Vrndavana, and possibly Mayapur. This was due to Srila Prabhupada’s sensitivity to local caste sensitivities. Because the caste goswamis would not have accepted women on the altar doing arati, Srila Prabhupada restricted his women disciples from doing this. However, he did allow them to do the behind-the-scenes pujari work in Vrndavana, including the dressing of the Deities, when there was a shortage of male pujaris.

In Bombay, Delhi, Calcutta and other ISKCON temples in India, women were doing all the pujari work same as the men.

Your humble servant,

Hari-sauri dasa



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