India


The European spice trade was one of the major factors in the development of modern Europe from the 17th to the 19th centuries. India was a great provider of spices, but the nutritional values of spices are not well-known in modern times and in the western world. Ayurveda – the ancient Indian science of natural medicine – considers eating habits fundamental to health. This includes the use of spices in food. Ideally, spices should be cleaned and dried in the sun or oven, as uncleaned spices contain little specks of dust, glass, insects etc. Spices should be stored in airtight containers(eg. glass jars, plastic containers or tins) in a cool, dry place – to preserve their freshness. They should be kept away from direct sunlight, mositure, heat etc.

Vedic philosophy describes three different modes of material nature – sattva (goodness), rajas (passion) and tamas (ignorance) – which cover the broad spectrum of life. A person in goodness, for example is peaceful, happy, healthy and clear-headed. A person in passion is restless, subject to many desires and physically active. A person in ignorance is prone to laziness, sleep and anger. Mint, for example, is sattvic – it soothes the mind and calms the stomache. Chillis are, obviously, rajasic. As are onions and garlic – which are generally avoided in the brahminical (or spiritual/mindful) diet. Mushrooms and meat are considered tamasic and their main quality – aside from violence (in the case of meat) – is the dulling effect they generate. Spices take on similar qualities ‘under the modes’. Below are some spices and the benefits they give:

Black Pepper

Marich (Sanskrit (hereafter, S); kalimiri (Hindi, (H)))

Black pepper is a rajasic spice (‘rajas’ means in the ‘mode of passion’) and contains a lot of solar energy. The fruit is used in cooking and traditional healing. It is a very powerful digestive stimulant and it burns ama (toxic waste that builds up in the digestive system). Pepper is also a good expectorant. Black pepper is not hard on the digestive system because it does not increase pitta. Green and Red peppercorns are more rare, but have a more mature flavour than black pepper. White pepper is made from fully ripened black peppers that have had their outer shrunken skin removed. Garam masala and sambar powder feature ‘the king of spices’ in their blends. Black pepper is added to oats in during ramadan in the Middle East. Pepper is used in Malaysia in curry powder, soups and sauces. Fresh green pepper or soaked dried green pepper is used in Thailand.

Fennel (valyari or soomph (Hindi and Gujarati))

Fennel is one of the best herbs for digestion.  I got dysentry the first time I visited India and my stomach was cramping and rumbling even when I got back to South Africa. One of the ladies who visited our Temple was an ayurvedic practioner and she advised me to roast some fennel and boil into a tea. I did. And the cramps went away.  Fennel also dispels flatulence.  In India (and in Indian restaurants), they often serve sugar-coated fennel or fennel with rock salt – to aid digestion. Fennel also calms the nerves and aids mental alertness.

Cloves

Lavanga (S). Rajasic.

Cloves are the dried flower buds of the clove plant. They are good for the lungs and stomach, are mildly aphrodisiac and analgesic (eg. you can chew them when you have a tooth-ache).

Ginger (adrak (Hindi))

Ginger is a root and is considered one of the best and most sattvic of the spices. It is a panacea or universal medicine. I can say this, speaking from experience, as it is the only medicine I have used in the past 18 years. Ginger is most commonly used for respiratory and digestive illnesses. It is a good tonic for the heart and also soothes arthritis. It helps with crams (and pre-menstrual cramps brought on by cold). Ginger paste is a good pain reliever for headaches and general bodily pains. The combination of lemon, ginger and honey as a tea has a heating effect and is a wonderful cure for sore throats and colds. Ginger powder can also be obtained at spice shops.

Turmeric (haldi (H))

Turmeric is a root that looks like the orange version of ginger. It is best taken in its root form, but more commonly available as a powder. Turmeric has many healing properties, but is best known for its ability to purify the blood. When externally applied, turmeric helps clot blood and can be applied to cuts in powder form. Turmeric is also used in fasting and adds colour to food.

Seeds

It is advised to dry roast seeds before powdering, as this gives more flavour to the spices. In traditional Indian aristocratic cooking traditions, spices are crushed to making the eating experience more pleasant (who wants to keep biting into coriander seeds?).

Cumin (jeera)

Cumin is a heating spice. It is used in many North Indian curries. It has a nutty, earthy flavour and is a key spice in Indian cooking. It is usually added after mustard seeds into the braise and goes brown quite quickly. Thereafter, fresh grated ginger and chillis are added, followed by powdered spices. Cumin is added to chaas or buttermilk, which is one of the healthiest beverages according to ayurveda. Chaas aids digestion and is generally good for health.

Mustard Seeds (rai/sarsoon)

Mustard seeds come in three varieties – black, white and brown. Black mustard seeds are one of the oldest spices. Mustard seeds are usually fried in ghee/oil at a medium-high heat until the seeds turn grey and pop. The frying or braising of seeds is called chauncing. Mustards seeds have a mildly nutty flavour which tempers spices that are used in braising. Mustard seeds can also be added to oil to see if it is hot enough for making a chaunce. Mustard seeds are also used in pickles and sauerkrauts and decoratively on delicacies like khandvi and dhokla.

Coriander (dhania)

Coriander adds wonderful flavour to Indian cooking in seed and powder form. The leaves of the coriander plant also adds flavour to food and can be used, like parsley, as a garnish. Since coriander powder loses its freshness quickly, it is better to purchase coriander seeds, roast them, and crush them with a spice grinder or mortar and pestle. Coriander seeds contain dietary fibre and are a great source of iron, magnesium and manganese (which reduce blood cholestrol). Coriander is often mixed with cumin to make dhania-jeera powder. This combination is used in middle eastern dishes like falafel and in the Egyptian relish, dukka. It is one of the key ingredients in the spice combination garam masala (which just means ‘hot’ or garam ‘spices’ masala).

Asafoetida (hing)

Asafoetida apprently has Roman origins. It is a resin, though it is generally available in powdered form. It is used as a substitute for garlic and onion (by Jains and followers of brahminical culture in India), aids digestion and counters flatulence. It is a useful ingredient in salad dressings.

Bayleaf (tejpatta)

Bayleaves were introduced by the Mughals to India over 1000 years ago. Bayleaves not only add flavour to food, they also add fragrance. They are used in dals and rice dishes and even sweets. They are used to flavour stocks, soups and sauces in the west.

Cinnamon (dalchini)

Cinnamon is a fragrant bark which is sweet and aromatic. It loses flavour quickly in powdered form. It is used in pilau (fancy or masala rice) and in briyani and various curries. It is also used in sweets and chatnis and is an essential ingredient in garam masala. It is also used in chai tea (which is becoming increasingly popular in the West.

 

This article is dedicated to Inno, Emina, Simone, Wepener, Ingrid, the BYS students at Wits and UJ and all those who want to know the techniques of mantra meditation.

I first spoke to Hare Krishna devotees in Cape Town in February 1997. Most of the devotees were in their early twenties. They wore eastern clothes. And they seemed to be happy. They were always chanting which sometimes frustrated me because I wanted to speak to them. I had so many questions.

The devotees had something I had been ardently looking for – a method of self-realization that connected them to God twenty-four hours a day. What was this? The chanting of the Hare Krishna maha-mantra. Yes. It was that simple: Hare Krishna, Hare Krishna/Krishna Krishna, Hare Hare/Hare Rama, Hare Rama/Rama Rama, Hare Hare. Their spiritual lifestyle complemented their constant chanting of the mantra. They refrained from intoxicants, meat-eating, gambling and were celibate. Everything they seemed to know – the philosophy, wisdom and practices of Krishna consciousness – was attributed to a teacher named A.C. Bhaktivedanta Swami Prabhupada.

Aside from the obvious pleasure they derived from chanting, the devotees substantiated their practices with quotes from the Vedas. My second or third meeting with the devotees took place amidst the Parthenon-like architecture of the University of Cape Town (UCT). On this particular occasion, I approached a scholarly young woman named Rati. It was an incongruous situation. I was talking to a western girl, dressed in a sari, about the Ancient Indian spiritual culture. And this conversation was taking place amidst the neoclassical columns and steps of a university campus in Africa!

We philosophized on the Bhagavad-gita before Rati launched into an explanation of the chanting. I asked her, ‘How long should we chant?’ Rati answered matter-of-factly, ‘Twenty-four hours a day’. There was a distant look in her eyes as she quoted a verse from an ancient Sanskrit writing called the Brihad-aranyika Purana: harer nama harer nama/harer nama eva kevalam/kalau nasty eva nasty/eva nasty gatir anyatha. In this age of Kali the method for self-realization is the chanting of the holy names, the chanting of the holy names, the chanting of the holy names. There is no other way, there is no other way, there is no other way’.

After reading Juan Mascaro’s Bhagavad-gita I was convinced that I could become ‘enlightened’ or ‘self-realized’ through spiritual knowledge and principled living. Impressed by my knowledge of Hinduism and my interest in the Vedas, Rati encouraged me to read Prabhupada’s Bhagavad-gita As It Is. We spoke again, a few days later, and she asked me if I had gained anything significant from the book. I replied, ‘Determination’. Prabhupada seemed, however, to be repeating the same thing over and over again in his ‘purports’ or commentaries to the Gita – chant Hare Krishna. Hare Krishna Hare Krishna/Krishna Krishna Hare Hare/Hare Rama Hare Rama/Rama Rama Hare Hare. It was the same message and practice the devotees advocated.

Rati carefully pulled some wooden prayer beads from a cloth bag and, very gently, extolled the glories of chanting the mantra. ‘These are for you’, she said. There was no need for me to chant, I thought. I was quite happy reading the Bhagavad-gita. Sensing my apprehension, Rati said, ‘Just try’. ‘Okay’, I replied. That night I chanted on the beads for about half-an-hour. The chanting had a profound effect on me. Everything slowed down. The mantra seemed to open my perceptions and my ability to see the unity of God’s creation. All the knowledge in the Bhagavad-gita assumed a tangible form in the chanting of Hare Krishna.  Statements of Krishna like, ‘I am the light of the sun and the moon’, ‘I am the strength of the strong’ and ‘of bodies of water I am the ocean’ made perfect sense.  The chanting gave me a sense of God’s presence within and without myself.

I saw Rati the next day. ‘How was it?’ she said. ‘I feel like there is no need to read the Bhagavad-gita now. The chanting seems to encapsulate everything Krishna says in the Gita.’ ‘Well, the two go hand-in-hand’, she said. Rati was very convincing.

We ascended the flight of stairs behind Braja Mohan prabhu’s house for the Sriji Mandir.  We stood on the top of the hill and admired the view of Varsana.  I followed Braja Mohan to the entrance of the Temple.  ‘You can leave your capalas here’, he said.  We took off our shoes and entered the crowded Temple.  I was the only westerner – something you would not find in a cosmopolitan ISKCON Temple.  Had I stepped back in time?  A group of local devotees, some in dhotis and some in western dress, huddled around a harmonium singing songs of praise to the Divine Couple.  Braja Mohan took me by the hand and led me through the crowd.  We wormed our way near to the front of the altar.

The brahmana priests were engaged in concentrated worship of Radha and Krishna.  The bell above the Temple Room door clanged incessantly.  The Deities were brightly dressed and, when the pujari blew the  conch, the restless-looking crowd burst into  rapturous song.  I closed my eyes and lost myself in song.   The assembly had become one mouth in their spirited praise of the ultimate worshipper, Sri Radha.  No hype.  No spiritual celebrity.   Just a heartfelt offering of love from a congregation to their Deities.  When the singing stopped there was a press of devotees towards the altar, where old women and men-with-moustaches-and-pants stretched to reach the sacred ghee-lamps.  By Braja Mohan’s grace, I was able to get a nice view of the Deities and offer prayers to the Divine Couple.  We left the Temple and retraced our way down the ancient stairway.  I bade good night to my friend, and took rest.

Braja Mohan, who had appeared very relaxed, suddenly said, ‘Come, let’s go!’ Yes, I decided, I would.  Braja Mohan stopped at a chaiwalla and bought some chai.  We sat together as he drank his tea.  ‘I want you to come to my house’, he said.

We turned around the corner and arrived at a small house at the foot of Vrsabhanu’s Hill.  An old woman greeted us at the door.   Braja Mohan said, ‘This is my mother’.  The old woman humbly offered pranams.  I returned the gesture.  She couldn’t speak a word of English.  Like many Indian village houses, Braja Mohan prabhu’s family residence opened into a courtyard.  Inside the courtyard were two cows, flanked by huge piles of grain.  Braja Mohan looked at the cows and looked at me and proudly announced, ‘This is my mother!  And this!  This is my father!’  I felt most embarrassed.  Just under a year ago I would have thought nothing of eating a  hamburger.  And here were two healthy cows being offered respect in the way that you’d offer respect to your parents!   I may have changed my ways but did that make me pious?  Did that make me a Vaisnava?

I was warming to my host: The loving reception of his mother;  his beautiful infant daughter, Gunjin (named after the flower in Sri Radha’s hair); and his natural respect for the cow.   Braja Mohan took me to a room at the side of the courtyard and said, ‘This is your room.  My house is your house’.  I had heard Indian businessmen in South Africa make similar pronouncements to sadhus.  Braja Mohan, however, said this with so much sincerity I felt like I had become a member of his family!  The room was spotlessly clean and white.  There was a picture of a white-haired Indian gentleman above the single wooden bed.  ‘That is my father’, Braja Mohan said.   He left the room and returned with a handful of writings in Devanagari, impressed with my recognition of certain Bhagavad-gita verses.  He started speaking to me in Hindi but stopped when I said, ‘Hindi samasta nahi‘ – ‘I do not understand Hindi’.

We talked and talked and talked.  Night fell, and Braja Mohan continued talking – about his family, his job in the fan factory in Mathura, about the sadhus who had visited his house and so on.  It was pitch dark.  We couldn’t see each other.  There was only the sound of the crickets and Braja Mohan speaking to his new friend.   I would have to stay the night in Varsana.  This was Radharani’s wish.  I was reminded, in some way, of the episode in Krsna Book where Uddhava and Nandamaharaj talk throughout the night.

After some time Braja Mohan’s elderly mother came upstairs with a candle, like a figure out of a fairy-tale.  She spoke animatedly to her son, visibly pleased to have a guest.   She disappeared into the darkness, returning with some braja rotis and sabji.   We relished this simple meal.  I was thankful for all the love and hospitality my hosts had shown me.  This must be the mercy of Sri Radha.   ‘Come’, Braja Mohan said, ‘it is almost time for arati‘.

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.

nama om visnu padaya krishna presthaya bhutale
srimate bhaktivedanta swamine iti namine

namas te saraswate deve gaura-vani-pracarine
nirvisesa sunyavadi pascyata-desa-tarine

My Dear Aindra prabhu, please accept my prostrated dandavat obeisances at your lotus feet. All glories to Your Divine Service and all glories to Srila Prabhupada!

I don’t really know what to say because I can’t really separate my experience of Krishna consciousness from you, Aindra prabhu. It is like part of my spiritual experience is now gone. Yet, in a strange way, it is still here. And that ‘spiritual experience’ is you.

Your Prayers To The Dust Of Vraja capture the mystery and depth of the Vrindavan experience for me. In fact, I cannot separate my experience of Vrindavan from your presence there…in the 24-hour kirtan, in front of Their Lordships Sri Sri Radha-Shyamasudara and Sri Sri Krishna-Balarama. What will Vrindavan be without you, prabhu? I feel like one of the goswamis has left our presence.

I remember asking you a question the first time I met you in 1997. ‘How can we be humble?’ You replied, ‘By serving great souls, like the six goswamis. Like Srila Prabhupada. We have to accept Krishna consciousness in parampara, disciplic succession.’ I have asked you many questions since then and your answers cut deep through the maya of conditioned thought. Aindra prahu, you are a genuine sadhu. Sadhu means ‘to cut’…the knot of material attachment in the heart.

I appreciate the way you took me under your wing in Kartik 2007. You were so kind to me and gave me a lot of attention. Every time you saw me you encouraged me to get involved or initiate harinam-sankirtan, the congregational chanting of the Holy Names of Krishna. I never left your room without a rasagulla or some other delicious prashadam from your Deities. And I always left with two or three copies of each of your CD’s, especially Prayers To The Dust Of Vraja. One time, when I offered a donation you said, ‘Place Laxmi at the feet of Mahaprabhu.’ Whenever I receive donations, I place them at the feet of my Deity of Mahaprabhu. I am thankful that I was able to make a small donation last year when Arne visited Vrindavan. And, where I am able, I will continue to support the 24-hour Kirtan.

Visiting your room in the brahmacari ashram is something I cherish and will do so until the rest of my days. Sitting there with Your Grace, Govinda and several other devotees was like being with Peter Pan and the Lost Boys. A sense of excitement. A glimpse into a more esoteric, off-beat space of Krishna Consciousness. You would have devotees read from Rupa Goswami’s Govinda Lilamrita and would relish detailed descriptions of Radharani’s nose-ring or similar poetic descriptions. What a treat to be there, relishing Krishna consciousness with you and your associates.

Last time I was in your room you told me about your new book, Kirtan Is Bhajan: The Heart Of Book Distribution. You mentioned that book distribution is like the Krishna playing his flute; and kirtan, in the Temple, is like Krishna’s rasa dance. Then you said, ‘They are playing the flute, but there is no rasa dance.’ In other words, we are distributing the books, but there is no kirtan in the Temple. Harinam and book distribution go hand-in-hand, you taught. You informed us that this was Prabhupada’s method of spreading the movement in the 1970’s.

You also mesmerized us with your esoteric descriptions of japa. The chanting of japa was an intimate offering of love between the devotee and Krishna. Unlike kirtan, japa is performed alone, in a kunja (a forest-grove), between the beloved (the devotee) and the lover (Krishna).

I remember proudly announcing to you in 2005 that we had been performing Harinam Sankirtan in Cape Town every day for three months as an extension of a collective Kartik Vrata. You replied, ‘How may of you are performing nam-kirtan?’ I said, ‘About 12.’ And you replied, ‘Why not 112? In Prabhupada’s time we would do Sankirtan with over 100 devotees.’

You also defined what is Sankirtan. First it was Harinam-Sankirtan, chanting in the streets with the accompaniment of musical instruments. Then it became book distribution. Then incense. Then paintings. You emphasized that Sankirtan meant congregational chanting of the Holy Names of Krishna – not the sale of incense and paraphernalia. You also emphasized the principle of madhukara (receiving in charity): ‘Only go to the person once. Don’t go all the time.’

I appreciate your straightforwardness. A devotee gave me a whole lot of your lectures and, although you are considered controversial at times, everything you said made sense and was backed up by sastric references or exact quotes by Srila Prabhupada. That makes your lectures very authoritative and it is understandable that you would find detractors – since you could back up your realizations with accurate references to sadhu, sastra and guru.

I remember standing next to you at Srila Bhaktisiddhanta’s Pushpanjali Ceremony during His Disappearance Day in 2007. We both had those sweet-smelling red rose petals in our hands. We were quite far from the Vyasasana. Our flowers were falling way short of the Vyasasana, over the heads of the devotees in front of us. After the last pushpanjali, you turned around and looked at me, ‘Anyway, it’s the thought that counts.’ That was reassuring.

I had the good fortune of being in Vrindavan in Kartik 2007. I was standing by the Temple entrance near Radha Shyamasundara, watching the 24-hour kirtan. You were standing next to me. I was so happy to be in Vrindavan. The atmosphere at Krishna-Balarama Mandir was electric. Every night was an ecstatic festival of chanting and dancing before the Deities. I was wondering why I had not been to Vrindavan in Kartik for so many years. I turned to you and said, ‘Vrindavan in Kartik. There is nothing higher.’ You looked at me and said, ‘Oh yes there is!’ You know of something higher. And now you must be experiencing bliss beyond our, and perhaps even your, comprehension.

You were offering dandavat obeisances to your Deities while your body was been scorched by flames. What tolerance! What surrender!

I am going to miss you, Aindra. Vrindavan will never be the same for me again. Your kirtans and your tunes – which are on the tongues of most devotees all around the world – are going to mean more to me now that you are departed. I will try to follow your instructions with respect to chanting and sharing the Holy Names with others.

These are just some thoughts, by way of an offering on Your Disappearance Day, my dear Aindra prabhu. I see in you all the qualities of great souls described in the Vaishnava scriptures. I see in you total dedication to the process of bhakti, Prabhupada and Krishna. Please be merciful upon us. Give us the shade of your lotus feet. For your fame is spread all over the three worlds. And we take shelter at your divine lotus feet.

Vrindavan will never be the same without you. Then again, you are always in Vrindavan.

His Grace Aindra prabhu ki jaya! His Grace Aindra prabhu ki jaya! His Grace Aindra prabhu ki jaya!

Jananivas prabhu sharing his realizations on Mayapur and Devotional Service at the Pune Yatra, Mofatlal Bungalow, January 2007

Jananivas prabhu spoke on thirty-five years of service in Mayapur, the birthplace of Lord Chaitanya. He said, ‘Ganga was right on our doorstep.’ Prior to his coming to Mayapur, he had attended the Gaura Purnima (Appearance Day of Lord Chaitanya) in Calcutta. Jananivas just wanted to be absorbed in devotional service. The pujari (priest of the Deity) in Mayapur left, and he had to do everything. He thought he was just going to spend two years as pujari Maypur…but twenty years passed. Jananivas, ‘If we engage ourselves in devotional service, we become timeless.’ ‘Everything goes by’ wherever devotional service is going on. The essence of Sri Mayapur Dhama and the essence of the Appearance of Chaitanya Mahaprabhu is Devotional Service. Our project is to build a spiritual city in Mayapur. This was predicted by Lord Nityananda in Navadvipa Mahatmya. Lord Nityananda’s exact words were that service to Lord Chaitanya will spreacd all over the world from this Temple in Mayapur. And the main service He has given is nama-seva, the chanting of the Hare Krishna maha-mantra. The chanting of the Holy Names of Krishna can be done anywhere, anytime and by anyone.

What is the best thing you can do for others? Birth, death, disease and old age are solved by chanting. The body is only a symptom of the problem. Therefore, hospitals and schools etc. cannot solve the problem (of the body). This is the simple method Chaitanya Mahaprabhu has given to solve the problems of life. Our business is ‘to give others what we have been given.’ Srila Prabhupada (the founder of the Hare Krishna Movement) has set up ISKCON for people to take to this simple process…and give it to others. Anyone can go back to Godhead if they follow this process according to their capacity.

Chaitanya Mahaprabhu is not considering our disqualification, He’s offering, He’s giving it freely – we just have to accept it. If we think we need siddhis, to go back to Godhead, we’ll get them. Krishna says, ‘as you surrender unto Me, I reward you accordignly.’ Chaitanya Mahaprabhu’s not seeing that. He’s seeing, ‘Here’s an eternal servant’. We simply have to accept the yuga-avatara’s (incarnation of God for this modern age, the Age of Kali) ‘wonderful gift’. Srila Prabhupada said, ‘The process is simple. But I didn’t say it was easy.’

Sarvabhauma Bhattacarya noted that it was not mentioned in the Vedas. As a result of this, he hit his head against the wall. Just accept the service of Lord Chaitanya. It’s not written in the Vedas. It is freely given.

In the Siksastakam (the 8 prayers written by Lord Chaitanya), it is stated: You can show Your affection for Me, or, You may never show Your affection. So, whatever Your situation, Lord, I am still Your enternal servant. Please accept me.

When Prabhupada wanted Harikesh to preach in Russia, Harikesh said, ‘They eat only meat in Russia.’ Prabhupada responded, ‘Then eat meat.’ Harikesh retorted, ‘What about my consciousness?’ Prabhpuada replied, ‘To hell with your consciousness! Go and preach!’ This is the message of Pancha Tattva. This is the message of Mayapur. Nothing else can counteract the Age of Kali. Only Krishna Himself. But He has come – as His Holy Name.

‘This is the only thing they need – and you’ve got it!’ If you have this conviction, then you can have compassion for other living entities.

‘Radhanath Maharaja has got me out of my resting place. Go, and preach!’

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