August 2011


‘The living entities are combinations of the material nature and the spiritual nature.  Such living entities are seen not only on this planet but on every planet, even on the highest, where Brahma is situated.  Everywhere there are living entities; within the earth there are living entities, even within water and within fire.  All these appearances are due to the mother, material nature, and Krsna’s seed-giving process.  The purport is that the material world is impregnated with living entities, who came out in various forms at the time of creation according to their past deeds’ – A.C. Bhaktivedanta Swami Prabhupada, Bhagavad-gita As It Is 14.4 Purport

My first contact with India was through Grandpa Jerry. He had served as a Doctor in the British Military Administration in Lucknow for most of the Second World War. My Grandparents were married in ‘The Church Of The Holy Name’ in Wodehouse Road, Mumbai. My father was born in the cool Hill Station of Nilgiry Hills; and his brother, Clayton, in Srinagar. I won a book-prize in matric for English Literature about Rudyard Kipling’s life in India.  I never really paid much thought to this.

My grandparents spent their old age in the coastal town of Scottburgh in Kwazulu Natal.  It was Grandpa Jerry, again, who explained the meaning of the word Natal to me. Though he had held the rank of Lieutenant Colonel in the British Army, and was awarded an OBE, the villagers at Abbeydorney barricaded the road when he came home. They did not like the fact an Irishman had served the British.

Grandpa Jerry knew a lot about martial history. He would go on and on about the armies of the world. He had a lot of respect for the Indian army – their infantry, cavalry and the famous gurkhas. He often spoke of life in India. The Reidys had also lived in Kenya – so there was a wealth of books and stories on East Africa, the Mau Mau and African wildlife. They had accumulated kists from Burma, busts from Indonesia and other souvenirs – like the little jade ashtray on the coffee-table – from Hong Kong. We have photos of this.

My Grandfather told me if I ever got swept out into the Indian ocean I should just tread water, because there was a warm current that would bring me back to the shore.  Once, at Park Renie, I nearly got swept out to sea.  I panicked, and struggled against the mighty Ocean.  Fortunately, a few breakers plunged me back spluttering to the shore.  Clayton pointed to the horizon and said if you go far enough in that direction you would reach Australia.  He pointed in a north-easterly direction and said, ‘And if you go in that direction, you will reach India’.  My childish mind tried to grasp the possibilities of reaching foreign lands.  I couldn’t even swim fifty metres into the Ocean, let alone reach a foreign shore!

My research of the Abolition of the Slave Trade led me into the Indian Ocean once again. This time I got swept into the intellectual current of Ethics, Western Philosophy and Economic History.  I began to question, very seriously, the need for an institution as cruel as Slavery.  Studying the Slave Trade was like opening a Pandora’s Box to the evils of this world. I started to look within my own heart as I questioned my role in the processes of history. I felt lost. I was way out of my depth. Fortunately, for me, I met the Hare Krishna’s during this time. They taught me how to chant the maha-mantra – Hare Krishna Hare Krishna, Krishna Krishna Hare HarThe/Hare Rama Hare Rama, Rama Rama Hare Hare – which brought serenity to my mind. The chanting was the warm current that would carry me to the shore of my aspirations.  Sometimes words or a metaphor can have a more profound meaning in a later context.

‘The living entity can see only when the Lord sees, the living entity can smell only when the Lord smells, and so on.  The idea is that the living entity cannot do anything independently.  He can simply think of doing something independently, but he cannot act independently.  This independence in thinking is there by the grace of the Lord, but the thinking can be given shape by the grace of the Lord, and therefore the common saying is that ‘Man proposes, God disposes’.

‘The whole explanation is  on the absolute dependence of the living entities and the absolute independence of the Supreme Lord’ – SB 2.10.20 Purport

‘Everyone is independent to think or desire, but the fulfillment of one’s desire depends on the Supreme will’ ie. “Man proposes, God disposes’ – SB 3.4 p.442

Swami Prabhupada sent two young devotees – Rsi Kumar Swami and Ksudhi Das Brahmacari – to introduce the Hare Krishna Movement to South Africa.  After some time, however, Rsi Kumar had difficulties.  Later, at the Laguna Beach Temple, he told Prabhupada, ‘I was trying to forget Krishna’.  Prabhupada replied, ‘That is not possible’.

Shakespeare contemplates death in the Graveyard Scene of his famous play Hamlet.   The young prince, Hamlet, is walking through the graveyard watching the grave-diggers burying a corpse.  He sees skulls.  He asks, ‘Who was this?’   The grave-diggers know: ‘This one was a courtier.  This one was a lawyer’.  When the body dies the designations of this world are no longer important.  Death is the leveller.  We are left with a pile of bones.  However great you may have been, however beautiful, however strong, however intelligent…that is gone.  The soul moves on.

Our souls are covered, in this world, by the illusion of thinking we are something that we are not.  The word Maya – what devotees refer to as material illusion – means ‘that which is not’.  In  the Caitanya Caritamrita, Lord Caitanya says that our spiritual identity is full of pure love of Krishna – nitya siddha krishna prema.  The real position of the living entity is to be full of the ecstasy of love of God.  But we are desiring something else and getting a different result.

Why are the gopis so beautiful?  Their beauty is composed of their desire to please Krishna.  Just like the flowers in Vrindavan.  They are making themselves appear very beautiful for the pleasure of Krishna.  When Krishna smiles, they become even more beautifu.  And Krishna is pleased.  So the flowers become more beautiful.  And this goes on eternally.  There is a nice verse in Caitanya Caritamrita 1.4.128 on the expansive nature of Sri Radha’s love for Krishna:  radha-prema vibhu-yara badite nahi thani/tathapi se ksane badaye sadai – ‘Radha’s love is all-pervading, leaving no room for expansion.  But still it is expanding constantly’.

There is a process to re-awaken our spiritual nature – beyond material conditionings and designations.  This is described by Caitanya Mahaprabhu in His Siksastakam prayers – ceto darpanam marjanam/bhava maha davagni nirvapanam.  The chanting of Hare Krishna Hare Krishna, Krishna Krishna Hare Hare/Hare Rama Hare Rama, Rama Rama Hare Hare takes the dust of material existence away from our heart.  How can we transform lust into love?  Our passion to enjoy this world must be transformed to a deeper passion to please Krishna, love Krishna and to worship Krishna.

Krishna is Bhagavan.  He is full in all six opulences – beauty, fame, intelligence, strength, renunciation and wealth.  The Sanskrit term for this is sad aisvarya purno.

A devotee should live his life as if he was going to die today.  He should do so by taking shelter of Krishna.  We should not play around with Maya.  Bhaktisiddhanta Saraswati Thakur said, ‘If you try to become the master of Maya, you become her servant’.

If we take shelter of the process of Krishna Consciousness, through the associtation of devotees, we can make rapid spiritual advancement.  Visvanath Cakravati Thakur prayed, ‘I am lame, but the only way I can move is by the stick of the mercy of the Vaishnavas’.  Bhaktivinoda Thakur wrote that the best way to make advancement is to engage in the six loving exchanges of Rupa Goswami.

Bhaktisiddhanta Saraswati wanted genuine surrender, not just a show.  He told his disciples, ‘It’s your minds that I want.  Not just your words and your bowing’.  Love is demonstrated, ultimately, by actions.

Prabhu quoted Caitanya Mahaprabhu’s verse in relation to brahmacarya – naham vipro.  Gopinath is the worshipable Lord of our sampradaya.  The final goal is Gopinath (the isthadeva of ISKCON).

Brahmacarya is not an eternal factor.  Brahmacari asrama is the first asrama.  Generally, one progress from brahmacarya to the other asramas.  From sannyasa we get Vaisnava.  Shouldn’t identify with these designations, ‘It’s actually the last thing we want to do.’  These conventions are useful for social dealings.  The word asrama comes from asraya – which means to take shelter, according to our consciousness.  Brahmacarya is for students.  It is a very simple asrama.

According to your tolerance level, you can remain a brahmacari.  Tolerance is, ‘One of the main qualities of the brahmacari asrama.  It is the only way we can overcome desire’ (according to Bhismadeva).  That applies to all asramas, but we are speaking in the context of brahmacarya here.

Modern society is not Krishna Conscious, so it is better to remain a brahmacari – ‘By developing tolerance, one can remain fixed’.  Arjuna asked Krishna for a solution to his problem.  Krishna replied that there was no solution.  He told Arjuna to tolerate.  We have to tolerate the urges of material nature.

ISKCON is a preaching movement therefore, ‘We have to face the material world.  We have to face Maya directly.  It is very difficult to be true or strict brahmacaris.  Consciousness is, therefore, more important than varna and asrama‘.

We should identify ourselves as the eternal servant of Krishna.  Everything is the property of Krishna.  If there is too much identifying with your asrama, there will be problems.  We act according to our asrama, but we are eternal servants of Krishna.

Srila Prabhupada was on a walk in Mayapur.  Someone asked him, ‘Who wants to be a sudra, Prabhupada?  In our society we get 2nd initiation etc.’  Prabhupada retorted, ‘Not everyone should get 2nd initiation.  If he likes working, he should be a sudra.’  Harikesh Swami asked, ‘But who wants to be a sudra? ‘  Prabhupada:  ‘They are not sudras.  They are higher than brahmanas.  They are acting as sudras, like someone acts as a king in a play.  He has another identity, but he simply plays a part.’

Our first business is to establish a relationship with Madana Mohana, the attractor of Cupid.  ‘We are trying now to turn our attraction from Cupid to Madana Mohanji’.  When one gets that – from Krishna and Krishna’s devotees – advancement is given.  They are awarded, by one’s devotional attitude.  The Brahma Samhita demonstrates how there are, ‘Slow degrees of self-realization’.

Even Brahman realization is attractive.  Bhagavad-gita explains that upon gaining this one thinks there is no greater gain.  You perceive Krishna as Brahman and yourself.  This comes after anartha-nivritti – when all the dirty things in your heart have gone.  That is relationship with Krishna in His pervasive aspect.  He is so attractive as Brahman, the jnanis and mayavadis are willing to sacrifice their own identity (which everyone loves).  Krishna is always attractive in any of His features.

Unless you realize aham brahmasmi, you can not understand Krishna’s pastimes.

Paramatma.  For one who has controlled his mind, immediately Paramatma is reached.  Ceto darpanam marjanam.  That is when Caitanya Mahaprabhu’s movement begins: we give up the dirty things in the heart and engage in Krishna’s service.  We have to strictly follow the principles of sadhana-bhakti as long as we have a material body and our intelligence sticks to that identification.  Pangam means ‘lame’.  We cannot move independently, spiritually.  We are spiritually lame.  All we can see is the material.  First, get your spiritual legs.  Understand what is spiritual ground.  Then progress can be made.

Realization of nama, is realizating Krishna’s presence.  He will reveal rupa, guna and lila.  Srila Prabhupada – Just surrender to the sound vibration and just depend on the Holy Name to reveal Himself.

We should not jump over prematurely.  We have to first approach Madana Mohana.  There is a progression that has been given by the acaryas.  So, to come to the point of Madana Mohana, we have to strictly follow the rules of sadhana bhakti.  That is called, ‘Cleaning the heart’.  We cannot get Krishna by sadhana.  But persons who are part of the hladini sakti (Rupa Goswami, Rupa Manjari) are giving this for the people of Kali Yuga.  You can only obtain Krishna by love.

The mind and intelligence are saying, ‘I am the Lord and enjoyer’.  Guru and the guru’s instructions are non-different.

Questions and Answers

What about reading ‘high’ books?

Answer:  Bhaktisiddhanta Saraswati asked Bhaktivinoda Thakur, ‘Can I print Govinda Lilamrita?’  Bhaktivinoda Thakur replied, ‘No’.  Then he said, ‘Yes.  You can print two copies.  One for yourself.  And one for anyone as advanced as you’.

We shouldn’t  put ourselves there or canvas, ‘Our group knows what’s happening’.  You need to know where you are in KC.

Siddha Pranali.  The sahajiya groups spoiled this.  And this was amongst cultured people.   Now you’re taking this to mlecchas and yavanas.  What will they do with that?  So Caitanya Mahaprabhu has given a simple process.  First deserve, then desire.  Prabhupada told Bhakti Caru Swami, ‘I will come and reveal everything’.

Srimad Bhagavatam Class 6.9.52, ISKCON Chowpatty, Mumbai, 9 March 2007

Indra is probably the most desirable position in the material world because his post affords the most enjoyment.  Indra is, after all, the king of heaven.

The Hari Bhakti Vilasa describes meditation on Krishna – His shark earrings reflect His shiny cheeks; He has masses of black, curly hair; He is lying on a couch playing His flute.  The Demigods are before Krishna – in the majestic aspect of Godhead.  They offer Him prayers.  The gandharvas are present too.

In the material world, there are 8,400,000 different types of bodies based on that combination of desires.

The bulls and cows come to see Krishna.  They approach Krishna in santa rasa.  The babies, with bells on their ankles, approach Krishna along with the cowherd boys, and the elder gopis.  The gopis with half-covered faces and half-closed eyes are also trying to see Krishna.  They tremble uncontrollably, trying to suppress this trembling so the bells won’t ring on their bells and ankles.

These are meditations for pujaris.

The neophyte just wants to see the Deity form of the Lord in the Temple.  We should also see Krishna in everyone’s heart.

Srila Prabhupada was on Juhu Beach with Dravida Maharaja.  Looking at the ocean, he asked Maharaja, ‘What do you see?’  Maharaja responded, ‘Krishna.’  Prabhupada asked, ‘How?  Krishna says ‘I am the taste in water’.  That is how you see Krishna – through His energy’.

Sometimes you look at Radha-Gopinath and you see it’s Krishna.  Don’t have to analyze.  The gopis saw the black tamala tree.  Radha embraces a tamala tree and all Her friends laugh at her.  It’s not that they don’t see a tree, but they see Krishna (the tamala tree is black).  So they see things but they see Krishna there.

The devas are not pure unalloyed devotees.  Even in Vaikuntha – they are pure, but they are not unalloyed.  In Goloka, they are unalloyed.  The devas are devotees, but they are thinking of their desires.  Pure devotees only want Krishna’s pleasure.  Caitanya Mahaprabhu came to teach that.

Indra will kill Vrtrasura with the bones of Dadici.  Vrtrasura knows this.  Indra drops his weapon.  Vrtrasura says, ‘Pick up your weapon and kill me!  It is Vishnu’s will that you kill me’.

The demigods fear death because they don’t want to lose their position.

Do you believe in reincarnation?  Devotees: ‘No.  We are going back to Godhead’  Srila Prabhupada said that Lord Caitanya is waiting for the devotees with a Sankirtan party.

Srimad Bhagavatam will bring out the particular relationship we have with Krishna.  Srimad Bhagavatam gives all the different relationships you can have with Krishna.  Devotees don’t want anything.   If Lord Rama wants Hanuman to have liberation, he’ll take it; if not, if it intereferes with his service to Rama, he’ll reject it.

Who has come to give the essence of what Caitanya Mahaprabhu came to give?  Krishna came 5,000 years ago.  Performed pastimes.  Left instructions – sarva-dharman parityajya.  People couldn’t follow this in Kali.  Krishna then came as Caitanya Mahaprabhu – with no demands, just giving.  Freely giving vraja-prema.  Mahaprabhu is our hero.

There is a prediction – that all the different sampradayas will fall under the Sankirtan mission.  Caitanya Mahaprabhu – ‘And I will give them the opportunity to taste Vraja Prema- this is the Maha Mantra‘.

We’re eternal and we have an eternal relationship with Krishna.  But, at the same time, we come from Krishna – aham sarvasya prabhavo.  ‘Make an eternal change’.  By association, you can change your eternal relationship eg.  Shyamananda (was in friendship, but obtained conjugal rasa).  In association with Jiva Goswami, Narottama and Srinivas – he changed his attitude.  His guru beat him with a stick, ‘Why is he crying in ecstacy hearing the pastimes of Radha and Krishna?  You don’t even know what pleasure you are missing in sakhya rasa.  You’re taking something lower!’  You cannot change – jivera svarupa hoya krishnera nitya dasa.

Bhaktivinoda Thakura explains that if you want material relationships, when you are realized you can even have an eternal planet – with your own family.

Satya sankalpa.  When you are pure, everything you desire becomes manifest.  If you want to be a friend of Krishna, you will take birth in a family of gopas and their association will draw that out.  Associate with nitya-siddhas eg. take birth as a gopi with gopis.  The mood has to be empowered by devotees.  From there you go to the spiritual world.

Here you can change your body.  So why not spiritually?  You can humbly serve, hear Srimad Bhagavatam.  Or you can aspire and change and develop.

In Puri they follow Shankaracharya’s method of Deity worship.   Ramanujacharya was in Puri.  The Sastra says in Kali Yuga that pancaratrika is more important.  Jagannath said you should leave this place.  Woke up next day in Mayapur.  Jagannath – this is my eternal place…Mayapur.  Krishna has come as Caitanya Mahaprabhu.  He revealed Himself as Laksmi-Narayana.  Then, as Mahaprabhu.  Ramanujacharya heard Caitanya Mahaprabhu mentioned in scriptures.  ‘Now, You’ve revealed everything to me’.  He was fired-up to preach Radha-Krishna worship.  Caitanya Mahaprabhu said, ‘No, no, no.  I will preach it.  You continue preaching dasya rasa to elevate your followers.  Worship Krishna in your heart.  Vraja-prema is now being made available’.

Devotees cursed Akrura for 100 years for taking Krishna.  Pastimes are performed to bring Them together, separate Them, bring Them together…and so on…

Krishna only leaves Vrindavan to satisfy the living entities desire.  The unalloyed devotee – never wants to take Krishna out of Vrindavan.  So does not worship Laksmi-Narayana or Sita Rama.

Jagannatha Ratha Yatra.  Krishhna.  The only reason I’m in Dwaraka and Mathura is to satisfy the desires of the Yadus.  For their pleasure.  But my heart is in Vrindavan.  My pleasure is in Vrindavan.

‘Empiric study is valuable as a codified record of our disappointing worldy experience’ – Srila Bhaktisiddhanta Saraswati Thakur

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