Archive for the 'Srila Prabhupada' 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: Was Srila Prabhupada conditioned? [part one]
5 November 2009

From time to time I hear comments or get asked questions which imply that Srila Prabhupada was affected by his apparently material circumstances that existed before his becoming the Founder Acarya of ISKCON.

sp east village other

As it goes, the accusation states that Srila Prabhupada’s presentation of Krsna consciousness, its practice, was tainted by his personal failures or by his upbringing in early 20th century Bengal. One such critique centers on his explanations of the intelligence of women; another on his insistence of the four regulative principles; another on his comments about the moon. And the list goes on.

It is to be expected because this is Kali Yuga and people cannot easily escape their conditioning and see things from the transcendental perspective. The tendency is to modify transcendental teachings to fit within their own conditioned frameworks.

ISKCON is going the same way all pure spiritual movements go in Kali-yuga. It is being materialized by people who don’t have the ability or desire to transform themselves or be transformed, and instead transform Krsna consciousness to their mundane convenience.

As George Bernard Shaw once wrote:

George Bernard Shaw

“The great danger of conversion in all ages has been that when the religion
of the high mind is offered to the lower mind, the lower mind, feeling its
fascination without understanding it, and being incapable of rising to it,
drags it down to its level by degrading it.”

“The great danger of conversion in all ages has been that when the religion of the high mind is offered to the lower mind, the lower mind, feeling its fascination without understanding it, and being incapable of rising to it, drags it down to its level by degrading it.”

Even though this trend is to be expected, I was still surprised to hear this latest criticism of His Divine Grace, sent to me for comment by one of our Mayapur devotees:

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Another Anniversary (or Two)
25 October 2009

On Thursday 22 October 2009 we celebrated Srila Prabhupada’s 32nd Disappearance anniversary

Samadhi arati

Samadhi arati

here in Mayapur. It was a transcendentally enlivening event, attended by approx. 4,000 yatris from Mumbai and other places, who are all here with HH Radhanath Swami for their Kartika Navadvipa-mandala-parikrama.

We listened to profound recollections, realizations and lilas from Srila Prabhupada’s disciples including Their Holinesses Ramai Swami, Kavicandra Swami, Umapati Swami and Radhanatha Swami, as well as HG Sitala dasi, Ragatmika dasi, Kulingana dasi, Rajendranandan dasa, Pancaratna dasa, Suresvara dasa, Sauri dasa, Bhavananda dasa and many others. We were also glad to welcome and hear from HH Bodhayan Maharaja,

Kavicandra Swami, Radhanatha Swami, Bodhayana Swami

Kavicandra Swami, Radhanatha Swami, Bodhayana Swami

the Acarya of the Gopinatha Gaudiya Matha founded by His Divine Grace Bhakti Pramoda Puri Maharaja.

Afterwards we observed puspanjali and maha-arati in the Puspa Samadhi and this was followed by a wonderful feast,

offerings

cooked in the best traditions of ISKCON Mayapur. In the evening we gathered again to hear from Mayapur’s transcendental twins Jananivas and Pankajanghri prabhus and others, before observing the actual time of Srila Prabhupada’s disappearance by singing Ye anilo prema-dhana….” followed by arati and prasadam distribution.

I can say that personally I thought it was one of the best disappearance festivals I have attended. Many of the talks, especially those of Rajendranandan prabhu and Sitala dasi, were deeply appreciated, and you can download those from the Mayapur website  www.mayapur.com

But that’s not what this blog is about. I want to mention another smaller, more personal anniversary.

The Disappearance day this year marked the 20th anniversary of my personal worship to my Deity of Srila Prabhupada.

Resize of SP murti 002

I guess its a milestone, a marker of devotion. Of course, our worship of Srila Prabhupada is eternal and unending. In that perspective, 20 yrs. isn’t much. But from the view point of a limited life in this Kali-yuga body, it represents one third of my current life’s duration. So I am happy to have achieved it.  I want my personal service to His Divine Grace to go on and on, and my little bit of one hour puja everyday helps keep me connected in a way that performing other services don’t.

In late 1988 I was feeling a little adrift. In 1984 I had given up my sannyasa, and with it all my services as GBC of the South Seas. It took me several years to get over the turbulence and by 1988 I was feeling more positive but also feeling a real need to connect with Srila Prabhupada through some personal service. I started to think about worshipping his Deity but in Australia none was to be found. So I decided I would look in Mayapur and Vrindavana at the1989 Gaura Purnima festival.

In February 1989 then, I came to India. I had a cursory look around Navadvip but I knew there would not be much on offer and that Vrndavana would be the best place. In early March I went out to Loi Bazaar and spent the best part of a day seeking a nice Deity but to no avail. I returned to Krsna Balaram Mandir disappointed.

Next morning I had an appointment to see Bhurijan prabhu

Resize of Bhurijan-mridanga

on the top floor of the Gurukula. As I approached his room, I ran into Aindra prabhu.

Resize of aindra-smile

We are old friends and it was during my tenure as GBC of New York in 1982 that, with my encouragement, Aindra made the decision to come and live in Vrndavan. So here he was, standing outside his room, effulgent and smiling and happy to see me. We talked, and he invited me to see his Deities that he was keeping for his personal puja.

Stepping into his room was an event. The whole place was plastered in cow dung, from top to bottom. In the center, taking up most of the space, was a large wooden simhasana with a host of Deities residing there. I was impressed. As we talked, I suddenly thought, “I wonder if Aindra knows where I can get a nice Deity of Srila Prabhupada.”

As soon as I gave voice to my thought, he dipped his hand behind a curtain covering a set of concrete shelves and instantly produced a beautiful murti of His Divine Grace. “Here, you can have him prabhu. He was given to me six months ago but I haven’t worshipped him because I already have another Deity of Prabhupada on my altar.”

I immediately took it as a confirmation from Srila Prabhupada that he wanted me to begin personally worshipping him again. The Deity was exactly what I was looking for. The right size for traveling, and nicely formed. It looked like Srila Prabhupada. I was very happy.

But I didn’t begin worshipping him immediately. I needed to get myself properly situated before I undertook a task I knew that I could not stop once I started. Being “properly situated” meant getting my asrama status in order. i.e. I needed a good devotee wife to stabilize my life so that I could make steady progress in devotional service. Together we could take up the worship. If for some reason I could not do it one day, she could do it instead.

I thought about an incident in Hyderabad in August of 1976. At the opening of the temple Srila Prabhupada had been given a shaligram-shila by Sri Sampath Kumar Bhattacarya, the leader of the S. Indian pandits who had done all the rituals for the installation and opening. Later he called Pradyumna prabhu into his room:

Pradyumna is on the far right

Pradyumna is on the far right

August 21 1976- Hyderabad

[TD4]

Prabhupada turned to Pradyumna prabhu. He asked him if would like to personally worship the salagrama-sila given by Sampath Kumar, which was still sitting on his desk. He obviously had changed his mind about sending the Lord to the Bombay temple.

Pradyumna was readily agreeable and so Prabhupada gave him some simple instructions. “So we can carry, and every morning just put in a simhasana and tulasi and water and flower and little fruit. That’s all.” Then turning to the rest of us he said, “He has got tendency to worship.”
“He is brahmana, pandita,” Gargamuni added.
“Panditji,” Prabhupada smiled, calling Pradyumna by his popular sobriquet.
Gargamuni mentioned that Pradyumna was also training his son, Aniruddha, and Prabhupada smilingly added, “Yes, his son will be great pandita. Both of them are devotees — husband and wife; therefore nice son is born. Yatha bijam yatha yoni. Yoni is the mother, bijam is the father.”
Then Prabhupada digressed a little, fondly recalling how his own father, following the advice of his spiritual master, always traveled with salagrama-sila hanging around his neck wrapped in a linen handkerchief. “Yes. So it is safe always, kantha. My father used to carry. Wherever he would stay, ganga-jala, tulasi, decoration; say, half an hour business. My father was a great devotee, yes.”
“You dedicated the Krsna book to him,” Gopala Krsna recollected.
Srila Prabhupada smiled. “Yes. Because he was a pure Vaisnava. And he wanted me to become like this. He was praying to Radharani. And any saintly person would come, he would simply say, ‘Give blessings to my son that he may become a Radharani’s servant.’ That was my father’s prayer. He never prayed that ‘My son may become very rich man.’ He never prayed like that. Actually, his ardent desire that his son may become a Vaisnava and my Guru Maharaja’s training, has put me this position. That I have admitted, later on. What is that word I have given? Hmm? Find out.”
Gopala Krsna knew just what Prabhupada meant. He quoted, “Which was later on solidified by my eternal father.”
Prabhupada’s eyes lit up. “Ahh! Read it.”
Gargamuni read Srila Prabhupada’s dedication from the front of the Krsna book: “To my father, Gour Mohan De, 1849-1930, pure devotee of Krsna, who raised me as a Krsna conscious child from the beginning of my life. In my boyhood ages he instructed me how to play the mrdanga. He gave me Radha-Krsna vigraha to worship and he gave me Jagannatha Ratha to duly observe the festival as my childhood play. He was kind to me, and I imbibed from him the ideas later on solidified by my spiritual master, the eternal father.”
As we expressed our appreciation, Prabhupada’s features softened with natural humility and affection. “That is a fact. I got good father and good spiritual master.”
Gargamuni contrasted that with our fortune. “We have gotten bad father, but now we have spiritual father.”
But Prabhupada didn’t agree. “No bad father. Unless good father, son cannot be good. Yatha yoni yatha bijam.” He added that his father had never chastised him.
I thought I remembered him saying that his mother was always very strict and I mentioned this.
Prabhupada smiled. “Because he was very lenient; so mother had to be little strict for my education.”
As the meeting broke up and everyone filed out, Prabhupada finalized Pradyumna’s new duty with him. He told him to buy a small simhasana, a panca-patra waterpot, and some fine linen from which he should make a small dhoti and chadar for the Lord. He was to worship Him with flowers, tulasi and gopi-candana. He referred him to the painting in Caitanya-caritamrta Adi-lila, where Sri Advaitacarya was depicted worshipping the salagrama-sila, and told him to follow that example.
He instructed Pradyumna, “First thing is that when you take salagrama-seva, wherever you stay, this worship must go on daily. That you cannot stop. One day, if you are sick, your wife will do that. But that half an hour puja must continue. That you must decide. So both of you are initiated. In case you are little sick, your wife will do. In that platform you have to do it. Seva shall not be stopped. Gradually as your son grows, he will also do it.”
So although Prabhupada sometimes complains about Pradyumna’s smarta-brahmana tendencies (he once said that he had saved Pradyumna from becoming a smarta) still he recognizes his good brahminical qualifications and learning and is always encouraging him to develop them.
>>> Ref. VedaBase => TD 4-3: Hyderabad

Prabhupada turned to Pradyumna prabhu. He asked him if would like to personally worship the salagrama-sila given by Sampath Kumar, which was still sitting on his desk. He obviously had changed his mind about sending the Lord to the Bombay temple.

Pradyumna was readily agreeable and so Prabhupada gave him some simple instructions. “So we can carry, and every morning just put in a simhasana and tulasi and water and flower and little fruit. That’s all.” Then turning to the rest of us he said, “He has got tendency to worship.”

“He is brahmana, pandita,” Gargamuni added.

“Panditji,” Prabhupada smiled, calling Pradyumna by his popular sobriquet.

Gargamuni mentioned that Pradyumna was also training his son, Aniruddha, and Prabhupada smilingly added, “Yes, his son will be great pandita. Both of them are devotees — husband and wife; therefore nice son is born. Yatha bijam yatha yoni. Yoni is the mother, bijam is the father.”

Then Prabhupada digressed a little, fondly recalling how his own father, following the advice of his spiritual master, always traveled with salagrama-sila hanging around his neck wrapped in a linen handkerchief. “Yes. So it is safe always, kantha. My father used to carry. Wherever he would stay, ganga-jala, tulasi, decoration; say, half an hour business. My father was a great devotee, yes.”

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Srila Prabhupada Photo from 1965
14 September 2009

September 14 2009

The other day I visited Srila Prabhupada’s remaining family members, his youngest son Vrindaban Candra De, and his youngest daughter Bhaktilata mataji. It was the first time I have been to their flat since 1976 when Srila Prabhupada purchased it for them:

[From TD1]

January 12 1976 Calcutta

Sudama, Jayapataka, and Sridhara Swamis and other devotees met us at the airport.
Rather than going straight to the temple, Prabhupada first went to inspect a flat he is thinking of purchasing for his former family members. Then he traveled to the temple in our own bus.
>>> Ref. VedaBase => TD 1-8: Bombay and Calcutta

Sudama, Jayapataka, and Sridhara Swamis and other devotees met us at the airport.

Rather than going straight to the temple, Prabhupada first went to inspect a flat he is thinking of purchasing for his former family members. Then he traveled to the temple in our own bus.

January 14 1976

After breakfast prasadam Prabhupada and I went to see an apartment at Park Circus. He is thinking of purchasing it for his son and daughter, who met us there. Prabhupada didn’t say very much to them, and after a few minutes we returned to the temple.

January 15 1976

Later in the morning Prabhupada went to see another flat. And then just before massage time he sent me to show two friends of his the place we saw yesterday.

[end quotes]

Srila Prabhupada bought the flat near Park Circus and gave the keys to his son Vrindaban in February 1976 in Mayapur. They have lived there ever since. Under an arrangement made by Srila Prabhupada in 1977 shortly before he left us, the family receives a small allowance every month and the maintenance of the flat is paid for by the Mayapur Vrindavan Trust (MVT) of which I am the current secretary.

I went to inspect the flat and make preparations for some overdue repairs. While there I met Smt. Bhaktilata for the first time. Just like other members of the family, and especially Srila Prabhupada’s sister, whom we call Pishima (aunty), Bhaktilata looks strikingly similar to Srila Prabhupada:

Pisima on November 15 1977, the morning after Srila Prabhupada's disappearance in Vrindavana

Pisima on November 15 1977, the morning after Srila Prabhupada's disappearance in Vrindavana

I was happy to see the family worship small Radha Krsna Deities every day, along with a small murti of Srila Prabhupada. They have pictures on the walls and I was checking one out in particular:

A.C. Bhaktivedanta Swami-Chippiwada elhi 1964-5

A.C. Bhaktivedanta Swami-Chippiwada Delhi 1964-5

I knew it had been taken at the temple in Chippiwada Delhi and I was fasinated to see it on Vrindaban Candra’s bedroom wall. As I inspected it, Vrindaban informed me that he had taken the photo himself on a small box camera when he was visiting his sannyasi father for three weeks while he was in residence at the Radha Krishna temple of Pandit Sri Krishna Sharma.  I have seen the photo before in the Prabhupada Lilamrta but it was uncredited. I was very happy to finally find out who the photographer was and I surmised it must have been taken in early 1965, because Srila Prabhupada is sitting with all three volumes of the first canto of his English version of Srimad Bhagavatam, and the last volume had been publish in late 1964.

Satsvarupa Maharaja writes about Srila Prabhupada’s residence in Chippiwada in the first volume of Srila Prabhupada Lilamrta:

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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 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 #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’)

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

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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]

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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.

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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.

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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: from Russia with love – #1 What was Srila Prabhupada’s Svarupa?
31 March 2009

March 31 2009

I recently received nine questions from devotees in the CIS so one by one I will post them with my replies.

Here’s number one from Bhakta Iskatel (Seeker)

“In Tamal Krsna Goswami’s Diary about the last days of Prabhupada

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there is a passage dated 4 September 1977 which reads:

Prabhupada announced, “As soon as I get green card, I will go to New York.”
“How long will you stay there?” I asked.
“As long as you like.”
“Srila Prabhupada, you are just like a cow.  You will go wherever we lead you, but you never stop giving milk.”
“That is because I am a surabhi cow. …”

“My question is: can we take this last phrase of Srila Prabhupada as his revelation of his svarup – original form in the spiritual world?”

Answer:

No. Because a disciple was using the cow as a comparison to Srila Prabhupada‘s work of preaching Krsna consciousness all over the world Srila Prabhupada agreed with the comparison, but made it more specifically spiritual by saying “That’s because I am a surabhi cow.” This statement has nothing to do with Srila Prabhupada’s svarupa.

There are different opinions about Srila Prabhupada’s svarupa but noone can say for sure because Srila Prabhupada did not specifically say what his svarup is.

One female disciple called Harsharani dasi in the late 1960s once wrote a poem about Srila Prabhupada which was published in BTG. Apparently Srila Prabhupada heard the poem and liked it. Both Govinda dasi and Malati dasi recall Srila Prabhupada’s response to the poem. He said of the author, Harsharani, “She has become advanced.” And he ordered that the poem be published in Back to Godhead, which it was.

Here’s the poem:

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Q&A: time after time
8 January 2009

December 31 2008 – January 1 2009

time after time

Another year gone, another year started. As the poet Bob Dylan sang, “The times they are a changing…”

Bob before Bob after

But are they?

Here’s a very appropriate question considering the time of the year. This is from Acyuta prabhu in the CIS:

“In the spiritual world there is no factor of time. In the material world there is a past, the present and the future.
In spiritual world only the present. I cannot understand it.”

“How it is possible to understand, that in the spiritual world there is no past and the future? For example, if I have drunk a glass of water, it means, that process of drinking has remained in the past! This process cannot be all time in present time?!… Even if this process will occur in the spiritual world, if I have jumped in water or I sit down on a chair, this action has already come to pass, that is remains in the past. How these actions can be all time in present time? Please, explain to me it is in the detailed image!”

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Miracles and God’s inconceivable energy
28 December 2008

December 28 2008

Here’s a wonderful story from Sriman Nanda Kishore prabhu to add to my post on December 3 2008 about miracles:

“On 18th March, 2008, Sri Maheshbhai Dhokia, congregation member from London called me and told me that His wife, Srimati Jayshree Dhokia is suffering from acute uterine cancer and she is being flown to Frankfurt for the last time. Maheshbhai asked me if the devotees in Mayapur could do some prayers for his wife. Doctors in London had given up the hope and claimed that she may not last more then 3 months as the cancer had spread to most parts of lower body that is abdominal and pelvic area.

The following morning, I humbly requested HG Pankajanghri prabhu and explained him the whole situation. We were both in the pujari room near Radha Madhava altar. I was dressing Mahaprabhu at that time of the year and HG Pankajanghri prabhu was making his final preparations for all the abhisekha of Lord Nrisimadeva.

Nrsimhadeva puja Mayapur

HG Pankajanghri prabhu asked what is the name of the mataji. I just gave the name written on a piece of paper.

In Germany, it was just during the same time the operation was going on to save Srimati Jayshree mataji. After she gained her consciousness she told her husband that she dreamt of lord Nrisimhadev of Mayapur. Bhakta Pralad Maharaja was there  to tell her the glories of Lord Nrisimhadev.

Prahlada

She also told her husband that she completely feels like a new person and something evil has left her body.

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