October 2007


Krishna-Balarama Temple, Raman Reti, Vrindavan

The mood here at Krishna-Balarama Temple is ecstatic. It felt like Kartik even before Kartik actually began. Krishna-Balarama draws a very nice crowd – from various parts of India and abroad. It has a really open feel about it – sarva-dharman-parityajya. I like it.

The atmosphere is thick with bhakti – ubiquitous as the Vrindavan dust. We go on with our daily activities: the morning programme, honouring prashadam, going on parikrama (circumambulating the holy places of Vraja), preaching, chanting in Aindra prabhu’s kirtan, taking darshan,re-filling our water bottles with purified water, offering lamps to the Deities and Lord Damodar. Behind these activities, however, is a warm wave of love that seems to draw you closer to Krishna.

Vrindavan

Krishna Balarama Mandir

There was an Ethiopian girl called Ruth who was asking me lots of questions. It is her second visit to Mathura. This time she took the plunge and is staying in Vrindavan for ten days. I asked her if she had tried the chanting. Her response was, ‘I really like it. It just has this really amazing effect.’ I recommended she read Perfect Questions Perfect Answers as a basic introduction to the philosophy of Krishna consciousness. When I saw her again she was really appreciative for the advice I had given her. It was encouraging to see a fellow African becoming inspired by the process. She said, ‘I feel like I am in Heaven.’ I said, ‘This place is even better than heaven. Vrindavan on earth is a more exalted place than the Vaikuntha, the Kingdom of God, in the spiritual sky.’ That information really appealed to her.

I haven’t been to Vrindavan in Kartik for ten years. I don’t think anything in this earthly realm could compare to the experience. Although I am leaving for Mayapur soon, I don’t feel like leaving Vrindavan. I am quite content to stay on Krishna-Balarama campus and absorb myself in devotional activities.

A Chronology From 1000BC

1000 BC – Construction of the Temple of Soloman at Jerusalem

599 – Birth of Mahavir, founder of the Jain religion

563 – Birth of the sage Buddha (Siddhartha Gautama)

479-551 – Confucius

348-428 – Plato

322-384 – Aristotle

3rd c.BC – Buddhism in Sri Lanka

1st c. BC – First recording of Buddha’s teachings in Sri Lanka

4 BC – Birth of Jesus Christ

70 AD – Destruction of he Temple at Jerusalem

301 – Christianity declared a state religion in Armenia

313 – Christianity legalised within the Roman Empire

431 – Palladius consecrated first bishop of the Irish Christians

529 – Closing of the Academy in Athens by the Emperor Justinian

552 – Buddhism in Japan

570 – Birth of the Prophet Muhammad

622 – The migration (hijra) of Muhammad and his followers from Mecca to Medina

742 – Founding of the Great Mosque in Xian, China

787 – First Buddhist monastery in Tibet

862 – Mission of Saints Cyril and Methodius to the Slavs

988 – Conversion of Russia to Christianity

1054 – Final split between eastern and western Christianity

1096 – Massacre of Jews in the Rhineland by Crusaders

1098 – First Crusade

1200 – Zen Buddhism in Japan

1448 – Russian Orthodox Church declared its autonomy from Constantinople

1453 – Fall of Constantinople to the Ottoman Turks

1455 – Gutenburg’s first Bible printed using movable type and a printing press

1469 – Birth of Guru Nanak, founder of the Sikh religion

1488 – Advent of Sri Caitanya Mahaprabhu in west Bengal, India

1517 – Martin Luther’s challenge to the church, thus beginning the Protestant Reformation of Western Christianity

1543 – Theory of Copernicus that the sun is the centre of the universe published

1611 – Authorized version of the Bible published in English

1687 – Sir Isaac Newton’s fully-developed theory of gravity published

1896 – Birth of A.C. Bhaktivedanta Swami Prabhupada; Bhaktivinoda Thakura’s Life and Precepts of Sri Caitanya Mahaprabhu sent to McGill University

1966 – Inauguration of the International Society For Krishna Consciousness, New York City

1991 – Release of Worldwide Web software by Tim Berners-Lee at CERN

2004 – Installation of Sri Pancha-Tattva Deities, Sri Dhama Mayapur, Bengal

Calcutta, Randburg RY 2008, Grahamstown, Puri, N Maharaja 005_1_1ISKCON Soho Street, London

Srimad Bhagavatam Class 9.9.47, H.H Jayadvaita Maharaja

His Holiness Jayadvaita Maharaja gave a terse, yet eloquent, discourse on Srimad Bhagavatam 9.9.47 this morning. The purport to the verse examined the phantasmagoric nature of this material world. The Sanskrit words from the verse are gandharva-pura or ‘houses in the sky.’

The recurrent theme of the class, however, was the material nature (maya) and ‘atttachment to things that are created by isa-maya (isa-maya-racitesu).’ Maharaja explained that Mayavadis cannot explain where maya comes from. Devotees, however, know that maya is one of the potencies of Krishna – srsthi-sthiti-pralya. Maya is so powerful. She maintains, creates and destroys the material creation. She is one of the energies of the Lord and she is controlled by Him. Parasya saktir vividhaiva sruyate.

Gandharva-pura literally means ‘city of the gandharvas (angelic beings)’. Just like a city in the clouds – it is a figment of the imagination. Maharaja said, ‘The city in the clouds is imagination; but, what we don’t know, is the city on the ground is also imagination.’ In this world you have so many shops, with things for sale. Similarly, the material world is just like a storefront – here’s a wife, house, i-pod, children, your photo in the newspaper. All maya-isa-racitesu. We think the material body is the self. We want to be with a wife whose beautiful form has been created out of matter. And we want children who are also products of nature. We accept all of these things as if they were substantial and as if they will continue to exist in a substantial way.

Why does phantasmagoria exist? Bhunkte. Because we want to enjoy. By this desire to enjoy, we imagine something to be very nice. We are attracted to ignorance in a liquor shop; to passion, by running around trying to make money; and to goodness by living in harmony with nature. Tribhir guna maya parvair – everyone is bewildered by these three modes of nature. By enjoying, they are forgetting Krishna.

So, maya-racitesu means illusion. When we are in illusion, we become attached to the modes of material nature – karanam guna sangasya. The result of this is birth in various species. For example, we want to enjoy with a beautiful girl or a handsome man. The result of that association is attachment. With attachment comes an increase in material desire. And the result is entanglement. People want to be associated with all sorts of humanitarian causes, philanthropic causes…I am associated with…I am associated with…Basically, they are become attached to this material world (through association).

Katvanga Maharaja teaches us in the 9th Canto of Bhagavatam that we should develop love for Krishna. We should practise devotional service. We should give up all attachments and surrender to the Lord. This was Caitanya Mahaprabhu’s mission. Maharaja cited the verse, vairagya vidya nija bhakti yoga, to substantiate this. By the mercy of Caitanya Mahaprabhu we can learn about devotional service and the Supreme Personality of Godhead.

Questions-and-Answers

The Questions-and-Answers session was thought-provoking. Jayadvaita Maharaja gave wonderful analogies to explain the distinction between reality and illusion. No, it is not all just a dream – as the Mayavadis would have it. You are me and I am you and we are all one in everything. No. The material nature is real, but it is not what we think it is. We think it is something substantial, something enjoyable. For example, we may see someone eating something, sugarcane, and that looks enjoyable. So we pick up a stick off the ground, bamboo, and chew it. At best, we get splinters on our tongue. So, the material world is like bamboo – it’s real, but it’s not great. Maharaja also used the example of fool’s gold. It looks like gold, but it’s worth 20 cents. It has value. But it’s not the real deal. Everything is real. We don’t know what’s what. We are servants of Krishna, but we are thinking we are something else – doctors, shop assistants, children etc. Therefore, we are suffering like dogs. Isa (the Lord) is real; maya is also real. You’re real; your shadow’s real. If you think your shadow can cook, then you’re wrong.

In another answer to the question of the sac-cid-ananda (spiritual-eternal-blissful soul) being real, Maharaja shared some interesting realizations. Who is the doer? The soul has strapped himself to the material nature (prakrteh kriyamani) and is thinking, ‘I did it. I failed’ and so on. Infected by the three modes, his sac-cid-ananda position has been covered. For example, a woman wants to go shopping. So her husband goes to the mall, even though it’s against his nature. She drags him from one shop to another – and even makes him pay for the items she chooses. Similarly, the soul is disempowered when it comes under the influence of material nature (daivi hy esa guna-mayi). When the pure soul turns away from Krishna (God), he/she loses his/her power. Just like a spark. When it falls into water, it’s practically extinguished (ignorance); on wet-dry grass, it has a little spark (passion); and on dry grass, there’s some light (goodness). When the spark is dancing in the fire, it is happy and bright. The self-realized soul, like Maharaja Katvanga, turns away from material identification. When a person turns away from Krishna, they think, ‘Wow! Free drinks between such-and-such hour!’ He becomes a fool.

Another devotee asked why Srimati Radharani is called Gandharvika. Maharaja explained that the word Gandharvika means angel. It is a comparison, to help us understand what She is about. If a Gandharva had to suddenly appear in the Temple room, we would be astonished. He gave the example of a mango – it is something like a peach, but even sweeter. Therefore, even a thousand Gandharvas could not compare to Srimati Radharani.

It was a nice morning programme. Jayadvaita Maharaja led guruvastakam prayers and Kavicandra Maharaja led a fired-up guru-puja. I had the good fortune of serving both these accomplished saints breakfast. Later, I joined Kavicandra Maharaja, Krishna-vidhi prabhu and another devotee for harinama down Oxford Street. Kavicandra Maharaja spoke on Bhagavad-gita 4.9 at 12:30pm. Then I took lunch. Today I rested. And tomorrow I leave for India. I hope you like this post.

Martin Scorcsese has signed up to direct Harrison film

GH and ACBSP

Srila Prabhupada with George Harrison and Patti Boyd at Friar Park, 1969)

Aside from writing beautiful songs about Krishna – Something, My Sweet Lord and Here Comes the Sun – George Harrison donated the entire profits of his second solo album, Living In The Material World, to purchase the Bhaktivedanta Manor in England. George also gave $19,000 to produce Krishna: The Supreme Personality of Godhead in 1970. It is also notable that Time magazine, in a valedictory article on the musician, credited His Divine Grace A.C. Bhaktivedanta Swami Prabhupada as being George’s principle guru.

Now Harrison’s remarkable life will be captured on film. Martin Scorsese has signed a contract to direct the film. George’s wife, Olivia, is one of the producers; and Paul Mcartney and Ringo Starr will advise. Scorsese says: ‘George Harrison’s music and his search for spiritual meaning is a story that still resonates.’ Olivia Harrison adds, ‘It would have given George great joy to know that Martin Scorsese has agreed to tell his story.’ It seems the Quiet One just won’t keep quiet.