July 2011

Here are some points about the Purusa-avataras.  To understand these different forms of God helps us to gain a better understanding of Vishnu tattva and our Vaishnava Siddhanta as presented by A.C. Bhaktivedanta Swami Prabhupada.

1. Karanadakasayi Visnu (Maha Visnu). He rests on the Causal Ocean (karana means ‘causal’).  All the universes emanate from Him when He throws His glance on the material sky. He is the Supersoul of the collective universes. The universes manifest through the pores on His skin.

2. Garbhodakasayi Visnu (Hiranyagarbha Visnu).  He is the Supersoul of the aggregate of living entities (the “Universal Supersoul”).

3.  Ksirodakasayi Visnu.  He is the Supersoul of each individual living being.


‘But worldly people take a contrary view and give the service of Godhead the second or subsidiary place to morality on the assumption that moral living may easily dispense the same.  There are people who admit the existence of God in their practical conduct as a means of establishing themselves in moral life as if Godhead is a mere steward and caterer of their worldly conveniences and comforts.  They opine that Godhead exists only for making us moral and not for our service.  To make Him exist for morality is to make Him an order-supplier.  Such misguided persons make a show of serving God for a time in order that while leading a life of gross worldliness they may pass before the world as self-restrained holy personages, but their purpose is to turn their so-called object of worship into an Impersonal Entity in the long run.  Godhead exists in His Transcendental Form that is visible only to His devotees who render their services for the gratification of His Senses.  Neither conventional morality, which are divorced from the service of Godhead and are practised for the sensual gratification of men, has any place in the conduct of those who live for the gratification of the Senses of God.  All morality, sanctity, good manners, patience, humility, and every other good quality of the head and heart are alway anxious to serve the purpose of the devotees if they are accepted for the worship of God.  Thus it should be admitted on all hands that to seek to separate morality from theism and to imagine Godhead Himself to be subservient to the rules of conventional morality, is nothing short of undiluted atheism’

[Srila Bhaktisiddhanta Saraswati Thakur, ‘Spiritual Morality and Aesthetic Culture’ p.107-8]

Jai Gauranga Prabhu introduced me to these amazingly addictive sweets at one of the shops on the Boundary Wall of the ISKCON Mayapur Campus.  He told me that they were Radha-Madhava maha-prashada – made by a European mataji who lives in Mayapur. When I asked Jai Gauranga how they were made, he replied, ‘Gour.  Dates, I think.  Moori.  And a little ghee’.  I made these for Gauravani and Mukunda during a break from their film strategizing.  Offer, and enjoy!   MCD.

The Recipe:

Preparation time: 15 minutes.

1. Heat 220g organic dates in 65ml (about a quarter of a cup) water on high heat in a small pot.   The dates should be quite dry so that the balls can be fairly hard when they have set.  Stir, and remove when the dates are soft and have absorbed the water. Mix, and set aside.

2. Meanwhile, melt 150g gour/jaggery (unrefined sugar) with three tablespoons of ghee at medium-high heat in another small pot. Stir. The gour is ready when it has totally melted and starts to boil.  Turn heat low.

3. Roast 100g moori/mamra (puffed rice) in a pan or in the oven. Bake or roast until crispy, but don’t scorch the puffed rice.

3. Mix dates with gour.  Simmer, and stir. Remove from heat when the mix has blended evenly.

4. Add crisp moori to the date-gour mix.  Make sure the mixture is consistent.  Do this while the gour-date mix is still warm.  Let the mixture cool down for about five minutes.

5. Roll into 10 medium sized balls while still warm (otherwise the mix will be too hard to mould into balls).

6. Make a divine offering. And feast!!

Pankajanghri prabhu taking us on a tour of Mayapur

18 March 2001, ISKCON Mayapur

Pankajanghri prabhu gave Bhagavad-gita class in the evening.  His words were simple, but profound: ‘There is the theoretical understanding, ‘I am eternal servant of Krishna’; and  there is the practical application based on sadhu, sastra and guru.  Many cannot put this into practice.  Then, there are those who put this into practice but cannot practice for long.  And there are those who practice for long, but who still fall away.  Devotional service can be quite testing‘.

I met Pankajanghri some hours later behind Radha-Madhava’s kitchen.  He was pacing up and down in the darkness, chanting his japa.  I offered him my obeisances.  I was surprised when he did the same back.  Senior devotees normally just fold their palms and say, ‘Hare Krishna!’  He reminded me of a schoolboy.  Youthful, despite his age.  He was very humble.  I asked him about the wooden Deity of Lord Chaitanya in Prabhupada’s rooms.  He dead-panned, ‘Clay’.  The Deity was made from clay.  I had some pictures of Radha-Madhava which I had bought at one of the gift shop booths on the Campus.  I asked him to write something at the back of one of the photos.  He asked me what I should write.  I said, ‘I just want your blessings, prabhu’.  He wrote, ‘May you always think of Radha-Madhava’.

Pankajanghri prabhu changed track and said, ‘It’s my birthday today’.  I said, ‘But I thought it was at your birthday the other day’.  He replied, ‘Yesterday.  That was our tithi.  Tithi is the according to the moon.  Today is our actual birthday’.  He went on, ‘One Vaisnava near here from the Gaudiya Math is a hundred years old.  He says, ‘Trees live to be a hundred’.  So, what’s the big deal about having a birthday?’.  I said, ‘It is different.  You are a Vaishnava’.  Pankajanghri then asked, ‘What is your name?’  ‘Michael’.  ‘How long have you been at the Temple?’ I said, ‘Here?’ ‘No.  In ISKCON’.  ‘Four years’.  ‘And you are uninitiated?’  I told him about my meeting with Radhanath Maharaja and he said, ‘He’s accepted you.  That’s real initiation.  You are fortunate to have a Spiritual Master!’

Since Pankajanghri prabhu is such a revered pujari (priest of the Deity), I wanted to ask him a pertinent question.  So I asked,’What is the essence of Deity worship?’  He replied, ‘You have to understand who you’re dealing with.   The Deity is not just wood or stone.  If you think like that, it’s because you think you are made of blood and marrow.  The Deity is spiritual.  Krishna mercifully comes in the form of the Deity for our benefit.  We should always have the consciousness that the Lord is sentient.  The Lord can, of course, alternate between matter and spirit, spirit and matter’.  His words shed new light on Deity worship for me.  He continued, ‘We have to be careful of offences.  In the beginning we are absent-minded.  We have bad thoughts and commit seva-aparadhas [offences while serving the Deity].  As we progress, there is improvement.  Everntually, after some years, our consciousness develops by serving the Deity.  We can take that consciousness outside the Temple and see the Lord everywhere’.

I thanked Pankajanghri prabhu, and took his leave.