Archive for November, 2004

Kartika Journal – Bhisma Pancaka

November 25th, 2004

Kartika Journal
Bhisma Pancaka (The last five days of Karttik)
November 22-25, 2004

Question: Someone asked me in reference to the ?japa thoughts? in the journal, ?do you write your ?japa thoughts? during your japa??. The answer was no. Chanting is my most important service. I consider it sacred, an event not to be shared with anything else. At the same time, chanting is an occasion that invokes emotions and gives realizations. I naturally try to apply those realizations while chanting to increase my attention, appreciation, and devotion for the holy name. Usually after chanting I write those realizations down, especially if I think others will benefit from them. Occasionally, during japa, but rarely, I will jot down just a word or two to help me remember those realizations later. (November 22nd)

Japa thought: Our identity is in relationship Krishna. We are Krishna?s servants. If we forget Krishna, we thus forget ourselves. Therefore, when attentively focusing on Sri Krishna in the form of His name, we also see our self, the servant of Krishna, calling Him. In chanting the holy name, we can thus focus on either Krishna as the object of our devotion, or ourselves as His humble servant calling Him in love. Both are in the holy name. (November 22nd)

Japa thought: The best chanting is to just hear the holy name with attention. Hearing the holy name can also mean seeing Krishna. For example, if I chant ?O Prabhupada!? with devotion, I not only hear his name, but I see his stately form and remember his qualities. I also see his pastimes, like sitting in Tompkins Square Park playing his drum for his dancing disciples. Similarly, if with devotion one chants ?O Krishna!?, then certainly one also sees His form, qualities, and pastimes. (November 23rd)

Japa thought: ?Why a humble mind is a prerequisite for tasting the holy name.? I

Bhakti is pleasure, because bhakti means love and love is pleasure. Without love all activities are simply burdensome. To taste the holy name, one must thus love the holy name. Love is the heartfelt desire to serve the wishes of one?s beloved, to become a servant. It therefore requires humility. As one must love the holy name to relish chanting it, and humility is a precondition for love, a humble state of mind is required for tasting the holy name. Thus trnad api? (November 24th)

Japa thought: ?Why a humble mind is a prerequisite for tasting the holy name.? II

It?s natural to feel love for someone who is kind to us. Love is thus very much the natural response to mercy, which is the greatest kindness, for it?s kindness that is underserved. Feeling such mercy, in turn, is related to humility. How? To the extent to which one sees something as mercy, is the degree that one is feeling low and undeserving. To the degree one is proud (feeling deserving), is the extent to which one is not appreciative of kindness and naturally not affectionate in response. In conclusion, humility is required for relishing the holy name as it is conduit for feeling Sri Krishna?s mercy, which in turn excites our love, which is the basis of enjoying any endeavor. Thus trnad api? (November 24th)

Japa thought: ?A humble mind is a prerequisite for tasting the holy name.? III

Prema is our hunger for Krishna. The greater our love for Krishna, the more we hunger for Him. This deep want, this hunger for Krishna, this utterly humble condition is a most powerful excitant for love of Godhead. Begging for the holy name is thus our taste for the holy name. Thus trand api? (November 25th)

Japa thought: ?A humble mind is a prerequisite for tasting the holy name.? IV

Although Krishna is the reservoir of pleasure, why do we not feel intense pleasure when He appears in His holy name? Only disregard for a person blinds us to their worthy qualities. It is thus disregard (offense) only that prevents us from relishing the association of Sri Krishna in His holy name. To relish the holy name we must therefore be reverent and humble in our approach.

In other words, as it is offense only that covers the glory of the holy name, and only humility can shield us from such an attitude, then only in a humble state of mind can we relish the holy name and chant constantly.

?One should chant the holy name of the Lord in a humble state of mind, thinking oneself lower than the straw in the street, more tolerant than a tree, devoid of all sense of false prestige and ready to offer all respects to others. Only in such a state of mind can one chant the holy name constantly.? (November 25th)

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Karitka Journal

November 11th, 2004

Kartik Journal

November 3 – November 12, 2004
Govardhana

Japa thought: Sri Krishna is attracted to His Name, but also to the person who is chanting it. Have no doubt. Sri Krishna is listening when we chant. (November 3rd)

Japa thought: The mind becomes attentive to that which it loves. We should thus chant with devotion. What if we have no devotion? Then chant for devotion, which is also our devotion. (November 4th)

Japa Thought: We must always search for the meaning of what we chant. Without purpose how will any endeavor enliven us? The holy name is my heartfelt prayer for devotional service, but mystically also Sri Krishna Himself, the object of my devotion. It is thus Sri Sri Radha Krishna in union, Hare Krishna Hare Krishna, and also Sri Sri Radha Krishna in separation, Krishna Krishna Hare Hare. It is the song we sing for Sri Krishna?s pleasure, Who not only sits on our tongue to listen to His Name, but also to hear our love. (November 5th)

Japa thought: Sri Krishna is non-different from His Name. Just absorb oneself in the sound of the Name. What more can I pray for than His direct association in the form of His Holy Name? (November 6th)

Japa thought: Again I ponder, ?Sri Krishna is here, I am His devotee, but is where my love? And if there is no love, then what pleasure will I get from His name?? I am humbled that the All-attractive is not attracting me. I thus chant: No love. I am fallen. No love. I am fallen. (November 7th)

Mysteries of Vrindavana: I sit peacefully chanting at Govinda Kund. Surprisingly an auto riksaw rumbles by in the sand. The passenger looks at me and frantically waves the driver to a halt. A tall well built figure with long dark black hair like Lord Sri Caitanya bolts out. He hugs me. I see a sadly aging figure, a western man my age, but much more worn by the years. ?Do I know you?? he humbly asks. I recognize a god-brother?somehow we always seem to recognize each other, even if we haven?t intimately met. He strangely pleads with me, ?Srila Prabhupada is still my guru, but Lalita Prasad (Srila Bhaktisiddhanta?s Sarasvati Thakur?s younger brother), is my diksa guru. ISKCON doesn?t understand me.? I?m not impressed, but remain polite. I don?t say much wanting to chant. He hugs me again, looks wildly into my eyes, and shares a secret. ?I am translating a book on Visnupriya. Not much is known about her. ?She is prema bhakti coming to teach prema bhakti.? Tears come to his eyes. Can?t say they are real. He then suddenly scoots away. I continue my morning chant. (November 8th)

Japa thought: Nothing can stop spiritual potency from influencing us except aparadha. If we are not tasting the Holy Name, then it is aparadha only, most likely to the devotees. As only humility can protect us from offense, then only in a humble frame of mind can we taste the holy name and chant incessantly. (November 9th)

Bhagavatam thought: There are different types of sukrti (piety), thus different auspicious results for our good deeds. Jnana sukri, the act of proper study, gifts one with advancement in knowledge. Karma sukrti, the act of good works, bestows material enjoyment. But how do we get devotion and what exactly is bhakti sukrti? The naga- patnis, the wives of Kaliya, seeing Sri Krishna dance on their husband?s head, ask Sri Krishna the same question: How did our sinful husband get such contact with the Lord to the extent that the Lord?s lotus feet were touching his hoods? What type of good deeds (sukrti) did he perform to reap such an auspicious result? In their next inquiry they thus describe the essence of such devotional sukrti:

?Did he in some previous existence carefully execute religious duties with compassion for all living beings, and that is why You, the life of all living beings, are so satisfied with Him??

As we are separated from the Absolute Reality, Sri Krishna, by envy, or hate, the method of realizing that Absolute Reality is naturally just the opposite?devotion, or love. The process of devotional service thus begins with humility and respect. As Lord Caitanya advised in His Siksastaka, one has to execute devotional service by humbly chanting the Hare Krishna mantra, thinking oneself lower than the straw in the street, never expecting honor for oneself, but offering all kinds of honor to others. The naga-patnis thus also question:

?Did our husband carefully perform austerities in a previous life, with his mind free of pride and full respect for others? Is that why you are pleased with him?

To acquire Krishna?s mercy we are thus encouraged to accrue bhakti-sukrti by giving Krishna-consciousness to others in a mood of compassion and by becoming the humble servant of all devotees. (November 10th)

Bhagavtam thought: In the second verse of Srimad Bhagvatam it is described that by hearing about the Absolute Reality, Sri Krishna, immediately, at once (sadya), real devotion manifests in our heart to the extent that Sri Krishna is captured there.

Why, however, does this not happen to us? Sri Vyasadeva answers: krtibhih, one has to be pious. What type of piety? He explains, nirmatsaranam satam, the piety of being without envy. This means to give up competitive (fruitive) activity, to relinquish the endeavor to be better than others for the purpose of false ego, and ultimately renouncing the desire to be the controller and enjoyer. The piety to bestow devotion is thus giving up envy by becoming the humble servant of servant of guru and the vaisnavas. (November 11th)

Kartik Begins

November 2nd, 2004

Kartik Journal
October 26 – November 2, 2004

NY to Amman (Jordan): I shuffled down the aisle looking for 11B, my preferred aisle seat. My neighbor for the flight, now known to me only as 11B window seat, gently points with his right palm to my open seat in a surprisingly welcoming motion. He then greets me with a few friendly words. It?s nearly midnight. My new friend promptly curls himself up towards the window and sleeps before any further conversation could ensue. ?What a nice guy,? I thought. I soon follow into slumber. (October 26th)

NY to Amman (Jordan): I rose early, much earlier than my other passengers. After washing, I worship Giriraja (manasa puja), then chant plane rounds. After several hours the cabin lights welcome the day. My friend rises, smiles and coolly (a warm type cool) announces himself, ?Good morning my friend?. We chat.

My fellow passenger was born in Jordan, but a New Yorker for thirty years. He has a thin neatly trimmed beard and a swarthy complexion. I like his funky black cabby cap matching his dark long sleeve shirt and simple pants. As the conversation ensues, I became curious about his work. I hesitate to ask. Surely he?s just a cabbie and who?s proud of that? I ask anyway?can?t help myself. His answer surprises me.

Ray is from an established and popular Jordanian family. His ancestors migrated from Greece thousands of years ago. They are thus one of the oldest and established families in the country. Although Jordan is ninety-five per cent Muslim, his family is Catholic, but respected and charitable land holders. In fact, for generations they have known the royal family and thus are ?frequently in and out of the palace?. Ray, in fact, is personally close to Queen Nori, the wife of the late King Hussein.

My friend is also a member of an influential US committee connected with the US embassy that renovates ancient churches, mosques, and temples. They are currently overseeing an old church renovation in Amman, the capital of Jordan. Ray is here, however, to visit his beloved parents, who now live in a small palace quaintly perched on a small mountain over-looking Jerusalem. He purchased it recently for his own retirement in a few years.

Ray was educated in the USA as an engineer and now lives and works near Millbrook, NY. He?s now a landscape architect and heads his own company, Stone Unlimited. I ask him if he knows my disciple Madan Mohan, as Madan is also a landscape designer in the same area. He does and even mentions where he lives, but his remembrance is vague.

My friend also talks a lot about religious tolerance and very much appreciates that I?m a Hindu monk. He begs me to visit him in Jordan and NY and gives me his calling card. I find him very genuine so I will certainly take up his invitation.

It was a simple plane ride, but enriched with the flavor of the hand of Krishna personally selecting my seat and my neighbors too. I?m intrigued by that. The real story is still hopefully to be told if this ?chance? meeting brings me to Jordan in the future to preach.

A doubt arose, ?If Ray was so prominent why was he in economy class?? A military escort awaits him. Doubt dispelled. He waves good-bye. (October 27th)

Entering the dhama: Eric, who is accompanying me to Vrindavana this year, asks this morning just before we land, ?Are you afraid??, referring to going to such an exalted place as Vrindavana. I replied, ?Not at all. I?m looking forward to it?. Later I thought, ?Maybe I should be afraid.? Vrindavana is the spiritual world. Shouldn?t that humble me and make me wary of my lack of qualification and the purification required to stay there? (October 28th)

Entering the dhama: As usual Gopal, our well-known brijabasi driver, meets me at the airport. Seeing his smile and manner, I already feel Braja – the happy Braja. As we leave the airport, however, the apprehension that Eric inquired about starts to overcome me. What?s going on? Yes, I am unqualified and will certainly have to be purified to stay in Braja! Will my false ego be laid bare? My attachments routed? As I ride through the back streets of Delhi on the way to the Mathura road, I distinctly feel the rays of Braja. It?s still 93 miles southeast, but I swear it?s touching me. How is that possible? Like the sun?we feel it directly even 93 millions of miles away. I?m apprehensive, but excited, a healthy mood for approaching the dhama. (October 28th)

Home at last: It?s purnima, the full moon day, when practically all of North India comes to Govardhana for a family 24 kilometer stroll. We?re stuck dead in an impossible huge traffic jam just before the famous ?Giriraja Misthan Bandar? (sweet shop). The turn-off to Aniyor and our ashram is just a few hundred feet away, but we?re not moving. I?m not anxious, however. I?ve come for this, to be among the devotees in Govardhana. (October 28th)

Sadhus of Vrindavana: Why am I here? To chant and chant more. I will leave the ashram after breakfast every day for someplace in Govardhana to finish the bulk of my chanting before lunch. Today it?s Govinda Kunda. Before I can find a quiet place to chant, an old friend greets me. It?s Ranga Caitanya, ?lal baba?.

Ranga Caitanya was our ISKCON pujari in Govardhana several years ago. Even then his nature was to be a tyagi, a severe renunciate. He lives now in a small bhajan kutir across from Govinda Kunda. He still, however, remains faithful in his own way to Srila Prabhupada. Unlike the other babajis who all wear white, he keeps his saffron or red cloth. The babajis thus affectionately call him ?lal (red) baba?.

Ranga Caitanya is also very gentle and humble. He goes around Govardhana twice every day and eats only what he can beg (madhukari). He begs me to stay for lunch and ushers me into to his very small, five by eight, windowless room. Fortunately his door faces east to greet the rising sun. He has an altar, his books, a few possessions and a place where he both sleeps and chants and that?s all. I find his simple and quiet life very attractive, but could I trade my comforts and convenience for his austerity?

I just ate breakfast. I thus take only one sumptuous brijabasi roti (flat bread), half of a sweet, and a glass of buttermilk. For me it?s a feast. (October 29th)

Sadhus of ISKCON: Sivaram Swami visits today. When I?m not chanting, I spend my time with him. Maharaja is affectionate, deep, devotional, and empowered?great association. ISKCON needs spiritual exemplars. I?m sorry when he leaves. (October 30th)

Japa thought: Chanting means three things: Krishna, His devotee, and their relationship. That relationship is love, but why I am not feeling it when chanting the holy name? At least I chant with the cognizance that Krishna is there in His name and that I am His aspiring servant. I thus pray for that love, which is also that love, at least the beginning of that love. (October 31st)

Japa thought: Attentive chanting means that only Krishna in the form of His holy name pervades our consciousness. It is also the symptom of prema. How? Real love means that the object of ones love exclusively permeates one?s thoughts and perceptions. Why am I not feeling prema when chanting? I am not attentive. I share Krishna in my consciousness with my selfishness, desires, and ego. I humbly pray that by Krishna?s mercy my mind is conquered by Him. It all begins, however, with attentive chanting, putting Krishna exclusively in our consciousness. (November 1st)

Vrindavana thought: Eric went to Vrindavana today and returned with his own Vrindavana adventure story. When he told me a monkey grabbed his glasses at Kesi Ghat I joked, ?Good, you needed that.? He laughed.

To enter the dhama, the false ego needs to be removed and we have to be off the mental plane. In other words, we have to deeply want to be in Vrindavana, the place that is just not about ?us?. There is nothing that drives home that message than the monkey coolly sitting above us on the wall telling us, ?If you want to stay here, then this is what its like. It?s not about you, the fool standing there in bewilderment as I chew up your glasses. Ha! Ha! Ha! Sure you want to stay?? Eric makes his choice. He decides to stay, but without his new glasses. (November 1st)

Japa thought: Chanting is begging for Krishna to the point where our entreaty brings us to tears. Can?t do that without humility Therefore trnad api. (November 1st)

Japa thought: As I am chanting, suddenly thousands of beautiful bird?s wiz by my window. I?m awestruck by the beauty and potency of God. What a farce, to pretend I am significant! I bow down and chant before Sri Krishna begging forgiveness to never again forget my tiny position. (November 2nd)

Japa thought: Real chanting begins when you want what you don?t have, Krishna. Without that want ?Krishna! Krishna! Krishna! I want Krishna!? our mantra has no meaning. (November 2nd).

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