June 2011


Pankajanghri Prabhu speaking on Pure Devotional Service at Pune Yatra, 27 January 2007

‘All you have is this moment.  And now it has gone.  How can you use that moment?  That is spiritual life.  That is material life.  There is Krishna and there is Maya – side by side.  So, we have to follow what is favourable and what is unfavourable.  Is it Krishna’s pleasure?  Is it my pleasure?

The sincere endeavour of the devotee leads to prema.  That is not important.  What is important is if we give ourselves – right now – to the mission of Lord Chaitanya.  You’ve got service – right now.  There’s nothing you can do about getting ragatmika.  Just serve.  Don’t try to see God.  Act in such a way that He’ll see you.  It might not happen this life.  But, by Srila Prabhupada’s mercy, we can go Back to Godhead.

Whether there’s bhakti or no bhakti – don’t worry.  You’re lucky.  It’s not such a mystical thing.  You have this moment right now.  Use it.  There are nine processes of devotional service.  That is perfection.  There’s nothing better than what you are doing right now.  So…we should be satisfied.

Try to execute His order – against all odds (everything’s against you in this world).  Everything is the best thing you can be doing at that time – if you’re following the programme that you’ve  been given by the previous acaryas.’

‘One may argue that His relation with the goddesses of fortune may be transcendental, but what about His relation with the Yadu dynasty, being born in that family, or His killing nonbelievers like Jarasandha and other asuras directly in contact with the modes of material nature?  The answer is that the divinity of the Personality of Godhead is never in contact with the qualities of the material nature in any circumstances.  Actually He is in contact with such qualities because He is the ultimate source of everything, yet He is above the actions of such qualities.  He is known, therefore, as Yogesvara, or the master of mystic power, or in other words the all-powerful.  Even His learned devotees are not affected by the influence of the material modes.  The great six Goswamis of Vrndavana all came from greatly rich and aristocratic families, but when they adopted the life of mendicants at Vrndavana, superficially they appeared  to be in wretched conditions of life, but factually they were the richest of all in spiritual values.  Such maha-bhagavatas, or first-grade devotees, although moving amongst men, are not contaminated by honour or insult, hunger or satisfaction, sleep or wakefulness, which are all rsultant actions of the three modes of material nature.  Similarly, some of them are engaged in worldly dealings, yet are unaffected.  Unless these neutralities of life are there, one cannot be considered situated in transcendence.  The Divinity and His associates are on the same transcendental plane, and their glories are  always sanctified by the action of yogamaya, or the internal potency of the Lord.  The devotees of the Lord are always transcendental, even if they are sometimes found to have fallen in their behaviour’

[A.C. Bhaktivedanta Swami Prabhupada, Srimad Bhagavatam 1.11.38 Purport]

18 March 2001, Sri Mayapur Dhama

Vaishnavas are like salt.  Salt pervades a dish, but cannot be seen.  Similarly, the presence of great devotees has a high impact, yet they never push themselves forward.  Jananivas and Pankajanghri prabhus are like that.   I never met them during my first visit to Mayapur in 1997, but certainly felt their presence.  As twin pujaris of ISKCON Mayapur, Jananivas and Pankajanghri are an integral part of the Mayapur experience.  This time I had heard more of their glories and wanted to hear from them and witness their unwavering dedication to Radha-Madhava.  I was not  disappointed.

Subhaga Maharaja gave the English Srimad Bhagavatam class in the Sankirtan Building on the morning of March 18 2001.  He spoke philosophically about the beauty and joyfulness of the bhakti process from Chapter 15 of the 7th Canto.  He related an incident where an impersonalist came to Srila Bhaktisiddhanta Sarasvati Thakur with mangos.  Bhaktisiddhanta Sarasvati distributed the mangoes to his disciples, leaving one rotten one for the impersonalist.  Bhaktisiddhanta said, ‘All is one.  So, this is the same’.  The man reluctantly ate the rotten mango.  He explained how Bhaktisiddhanta encouraged his disciples to honour sumptuous offerings of prashadam (offered foods) – gaja, sweet dal and laddhu – in Jagannatha Puri.  He quoted the founder of the Hare Krishna Movement, A.C. Bhaktivedanta Swami Prabhupada, telling his disciples to ‘Eat Simply Wonderful [a delicious milk sweet], and go back to the wonderful world’.  Prashadam should be taken in moderation, however.  As we make advancement we should minimize our intake of prasada.  Today was Srivas Thakur’s Appearance Day.  It was also the tithi celebration of Jananivas and Pankajanghri prabhu’s Appearance Day.  Subhaga Maharaja ended his class by saying, ‘Happy Birthday’ to the twins.  Pankajanghri prabhu humbly responded, ‘Make us happy’.

I visited the Yoga Pitha – the Birthplace of Lord Chaitanya – with Padmanabha prabhu.  Yoga Pitha means ‘blending-spot’ – where the spiritual comes in contact with the material creation.  We offered our obeisances to lord Siva – at the site where Mahaprabhu appeared. We bathed in Ganga again.  Then went home. I heard there was going to be a celebration – a vyasa-puja ceremony – for the twins, but did not know where it was going to take place.  The observance of the twins’ birthday was kept  secret because, in their humility, they often disappeared at the hint of a celebration.  They lived to serve Radha-Madhava and the Deities of the ISKCON Mayapura Candrodaya Mandir.

Some time after noon I saw Ganga prabhu, one of the local residents of Mayapur, leaving the Conch Building.  I followed him to Jananivas and Pankajanghri’s quarters, behind the Altar.  The devotees had brought two vyasasanas into their room and the brothers were seated next to each other with garlands around their necks.  A group of about thirty devotees – permanent residents of Mayapur – were singing the guru vandanam prayers, offering garlands and gifts to the brothers.  There was a queue of devotees standing in line.  Some were standing, some were making offerings to them and others were bowing at their feet.  The twins, in return, were handing out maha-prasada from the Deities.  It was a sweet and moving scene.

I gave Jananivas prabhu a picture of Radhanath Maharaja and His Grace dressing Radha-Gopinatha.  He exclaimed, ‘Oh, it’s Chowpatty!’  Jananivas placed a large simply wonderful in my hand.  I bowed and made way for the next person in  line.  Someone handed me a pair of karatalas, which I played ecstatically.  The kirtan was brief, but rousing.  Then Bhakti Purussotama Maharaja recited the prema-dhvani prayers.  The devotees moved in a colourful procession to the marble corridor behind the Deities.  A huge transcendental feast was served.  Some of the local preparations and western dishes that the twins liked were served.  The feast was out of this world:  I ate and ate but did not feel full.

Jananivas and Pankajanghri were sitting on the far end of the corridor with the Bengali brahmacaris.  At one point a cluster of brahmacaris leaned forward and took the remnants of both twins from their plates!  This is very rare because Jananivas and Pankajanghri are very humble and rarely let anyone take their remnants.  I sat there and appreciated their wonderful qualities and the wonderful celebration of their lives.

Tomorrow is Nirjala Ekadasi.  Ekadasi is the Vaishnava fast-day that occurs on the eleventh day of the waxing or waning moon.  Pandava Nirjala Ekadasi is observed on the bright fortnight of the moon (sukla-paksha) in the month of Jyestha (May-June).  It is called Nirjala Ekadasi because one should not even drink water on this Ekadasi.  It is also called Jyestha-sukla Ekadasi.

The Mahabharata, relates to us how the Pandavas strictly observed all Ekadasis.  Bhima, however, who was known for his herculean strength and for being a ‘voracious eater’ (Bhagavad-gita 1.15), was not able to fully observe Ekadasi like his brothers.  He approached Vyasadeva to ask him how he could avert incurring sinful reactions as a result of not being able to follow Ekadasi strictly.  Vyasadeva, in turn, advised him to strictly observe Nirjala Ekadasi once a year and in this way derive the full benefit of following all the Ekadasis in the year.  Nirjala Ekadasi, therefore, became Pandava Nirjala Ekadasi.  It is also referred to as Bhima Pandava Nirjala Ekadasi.

Devotees who have, therefore, broken their fast during the year can make up for this on Nirjala Ekadasi.  The Sanskrit word nirjala means ‘no water’ (nir means ‘no’ and jala means ‘water’).  Strictly speaking, all Ekadasis should be nirjala – without food or water (water is also considered food).  Srila Prabhupada gave some concessions to his followers – who, for the most part, fast from grains and legumes on Ekadasi.  Nirjala Ekadasi should, however, be strictly followed.  One should not eat or drink.  Ideally, we should absorb ourselves in hearing and chanting about Lord Krishna for 24 hours.  This may not, however, be possible for all devotees.  At least we should try to refrain from food and water.

‘The physical body and mind are changeable and perishable.  It is futile to set the standard of beauty for all time by reference to them’ (Bhaktisiddhanta Sarasvati Thakur)

‘Familiarity breeds contempt for all things of this world on account of their inherent ugliness which is found out on actual contact’ (Bhaktisiddhanta Sarasvati Thakur)