Archive for November, 2001

Govardhan End of Karttik Karttik

November 30th, 2001


End of Karttik
Karttik ends. The fruit of my vrata: Govardhan pours mercy in the form of sadhu sanga. His Holiness Radhanatha Swami, His Grace Bhurijan Prabhu, and His Grace Partha Sarathi Prabhu come to the ashram for the day. His Holiness Sacinandana Swami and His Holiness Niranjana Swami will arrive in a few days.

Partha Sarathi opines that we have so much to look forward in the Hare Krishna Movement in terms of sadhu sanga. From his own experience, he sees how deep the spiritual exchanges among certain devotees as they mature. He envisions how even more wonderful the exchanges will become in the future.

As individual practitioners of spiritual life, our path, personality and spiritual attributes develop uniquely as we become purified. I observed the extraordinary attributes of my god brothers:

Partha Sarathi has a deep attraction for worship and meditation and can happily sit alone all day chanting, reading and thinking deeply about Krishna?s pastimes.

Bhurijan Prabhu is exceptionally thoughtful and steeped in Bhagavat philosophy. He thus views the world through the eyes of the sastra, searching in each life circumstance for the unique opportunity to please Krishna.

Radhanatha Swami has a wonderful capacity to serve and love the devotees. Generally one is conditioned by duality. Ones affection for others is thus tempered by conceptions like friend and enemy, high class and low class, and senior and junior. I observed Maharaja carefully in his short stay. He makes no distinction in his love for the Vaisnavas, offering his warmth to all regardless of status.

Govardhan Bhurijan Prabhu just arrived

November 29th, 2001


Bhurijan Prabhu just arrived in Vrindaban. We talked for some time. He invited me over to his place to see his new Deity. I was surprised to see on the corner of the altar of his exquisite Sri Sri Radha Giridhari (govardhan silas) his new deity, three small wooden carved monkeys, one covering with his two hands his eyes, the next his mouth and the third his ears, the famous hear no evil, see no evil, speak no evil icons. For a moment I was puzzled. I then caught on to import:

Bhurijan was an experienced resident of ISKCON Vrindaban, having lived here for over fifteen years. He realized, unfortunately, how any large gathering in Kali Yuga, even holy places, tend to become bastions of mundane topics, especially politics. To advance in bhakti, one has to be determined to avoid that. His new unorthodox deity thus served as a reminder to protect one from the main impediments to pure bhakti while living in the Dham. I did notice how he would expertly and politely gear any discussions away from even a scent of politics, or criticism, to meaningful discussions. Hear no evil, speak no evil, see no evil?a helpful reminder while being in the Dham.

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Govardhan Was informed that my

November 28th, 2001


Was informed that my God-brother Sriman Tribhuvanatha Prabhu passed away three weeks ago and that a ceremony will be held today for him at the Krishna Balaram Mandir in Vrindaban. Although he was not a regular acquaintance, our exchanges were always pleasant. When I first came to Vrindaban in 1976, he was already here as a lead preacher. I have an eye for talent. I knew he was special.

Tribhuvanath was a young vibrant Irish devotee with a fighting spirit, a dashing hero type. He had intensity of purpose, but was never aggressive or exploitive. When one is compassionate energy becomes only an asset for helping others. Tribhuvanatha Prabhu dedicated himself selflessly to the mission of Sri Caitanya Mahaprabhu. He was non-envious and pleasant.

When I first saw Tribhuvanath, he was leading kirtan in the Krishna Balaram Mandir. He played the mrdanga so enthusiastically that by the end of the kirtan he would be stomping his left leg and feverishly banging the top of the drum with his right hand. At the kirtan?s crescendo, the clay drum gradually broke. He continued with fervor. It was gradually pulverized and it wasn?t the first drum broken by his innocent exuberance. It is hard to believe that one remembered as so exceptionally vibrant suffered an early death, a victim of cancer at just fifty years of age.

When a dedicated preacher leaves untimely, it can only be that the Lord has a more suitable body for them to serve the Lord?s mission, or they have gone directly to the spiritual world. Srila Prabhupada was so pleased with Sriman Tribhuvanatha for opening and running a successful temple in Edinborough before he was even twenty years of age! As an object of the spiritual pleasure, I would not be surprised if his untimely death brought him directly to Lord Krishna.

The next time I met Tribhuvanatha, he was on his yearly visits to Vrindaban. At the time, he was vigorously preaching and risking his life in the Middle East. I would sit in rapt attention as he would describe some of his exploits. He was fearless. He preached and distributed books in Lebanon during the war with Israel. One year, at the time of Guru Purnima, just before he was to leave for India to take sannyasa, he was unfortunately captured by the PLO and jailed as a suspected terrorist. He told me how painful it was to hear the jets flying overhead in the direction of India imagining they were heading to Mayapur.

Once he told how the car in front of him exploded. Like James Bond, he swung the door open from his taxi and jumped out to save his life before his car plunged into the fire.

He described to me how he distributed the first Arabic Gita in Beirut. The books were so big that practically one could only carry one at a time. When he ran into an office building to sell one, it looked like as if he was carrying a bomb. He had pleaded with his god-brother, Ravanari, the translator and publisher, to produce something more practical. Ravanari, however, was very stubborn. He was a former PLO lieutenant of Yasser Arafat, whose professed goal now was to march on Mecca and install Sri Sri Gaura Nitai. Sometimes Srila Prabhupadas?s books have been described as bombs, but perhaps only Tribhuvatha realized the importance, carrying and distributing the huge Arabic Gita, in a Muslim country, and during a war! Some men are just born heroes.

My association with Sriman Tribhuvanatha was occasional and brief, but left a strong impression. There is a saying that one can test the rice by tasting one grain. Looking back on those meetings, he was consistently enthusiastic, pride-less and good-hearted?a vaisnava fixed on the lotus feet of his spiritual master and fully dedicated to his mission. I can only assume, and it has been confirmed by others, he led his whole life that way. How wonderful to not only live dedicated to noble ideals, but to exemplify them as well.

From Sriman Tribhuvanath Prabhu we learn how to live a simple life with full dedication to the spiritual master without offense to others.

Govardhan Getting very attached to

November 26th, 2001


Getting very attached to practicing spiritual life in Govardhan. I feel much at home here. Even thinking how to shift my base from Vrindaban to Govardhan.

The old fort, once made to protect the King of Khajaraho on his pilgrimage to Govardhan, now a fortress against the modes of material nature. It feels that way. Chanting, darshan of Govardhan, the mind becomes ones servant and satisfied to hear the holy name. I now understand why certain sadhus vowed never to leave the Dham, and the sages of yore were forbidden to cross the ocean?the modes thicken and become active and distract one from spiritual life. I must find a way to maintain this sadhana, even in the west, not just the numbers, quality.

I?m filled with contradictions: I don?t want to leave Govardhan, but I feel more enthused for preaching, leaving and sharing the Dham with others.

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Govardhan My practices here are

November 25th, 2001


My practices here are finally becoming fixed. I am leaving the late morning open if devotees want to visit Govardhan and bless me with their association so that I may render some service to the Vaisnavas and chant in their company. Karnamrita and Archana Siddhi came last Sunday. Madhava is here today.

Madhava and myself went to rasa sthali at punchari, sight of Krishna?s spring rasa-lila. I have gone to this secluded, spiritual enriched, ancient forest many times and sat in the shade by the side of Govardhan next to a small white fortress like ashram. The door of that ashram just sits twenty feet to my left, and
although I have been here dozen of times I have never ventured in. Somehow today I am inspired. I pass the simple gateway and enter a simple but stunning courtyard temple of Sri Nathji, Lord Krishna lifting Govardhan Hill.

By the altar a few pilgrims are pouring their hearts out with devotion in simple song. I crowd closer to the altar. How clean and beautifully kept! The young, brahmana pujari gaits across the sanctum with grace and devotion. He finishes the arati, cleans the altar, and then greets his guru outside, bowing his head to his feet. His teacher is rustic, but regal, even with his light blue Praphupada hat with embroided multi-colored flowers. Guruji is renounced, living in the middle of this lonely forest, and accepts whatever Krishna gives him, even a funky hat. We have entered the spiritual world, a neat little enclave enriched with devotion. That?s how we feel among the six devotional pilgrims, the saintly pujari, and his stately forest guru.

I fold my hands and bow slightly to offer respect to all the vaisnavas. The guru sees me and says with faith and force, in a raspy deep Indian sadhu?s voice, “CARANAMRIT!” The disciple pours the caranamrita in small clay cups and gives each pilgrim a cup and a small Deity sweet. It?s like taking prasadam for the first time?an intoxicating, delectable, unprecedented taste!

Madhava, a great cook, famous for his gulabjammons, his eyes rolling in delight comments in earnestness, “I?ve never cooked a sweet like that!”

We alight back to the forest and then to the parikram marg and we are back to our taxi. I love such Vrindaban mysteries?opening unknown doors to the spiritual world by the key of causeless mercy!.

Govardhan Japa Thoughts XI The

November 24th, 2001


Japa Thoughts XI
The holy name has withdrawn His mercy. One can?t sit on his laurels. Constant striving and effort must continue, otherwise where is our bhakti, and without bhakti where is Krishna in the form of His Name? Some taste yesterday, some laxity today, Go forward. Give up the anchor of petty attachment. Never! Then never will Krishna appear.

Govardhan Japa Thoughts X Effective

November 23rd, 2001


Japa Thoughts X
Effective chanting must have relevance to ones life, be congruent with one?s heart. If our absorption is how avoid and counter the reverses of life, to become peaceful, moksa (liberation), how meaningful is our prayers for devotion, bhakti. If our mind is absorbed in economic development, increasing our resources and comforts, karma, then how meaningful is our prayers for devotion, bhakti. If bhakti has not yet captured our heart then take sadhu sanga, humbly serve the vaisnavas, and give the fruits of your work for the mission of Caitanya Mahaprabhu, and go on chanting, but pray for the mercy of the holy name. In time our heart and our prayers will be one.

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Govardhan Japa Thoughts VIII If

November 22nd, 2001


Japa Thoughts VIII
If we meditate on the form of Krishna in Vrindaban, a simple villager, how will we avoid envy and scorn, unless we know that He is not a simple cowherd, but God, or we have an intimate relationship with Him. And if we see Him as God, then are we meditating on Krishna in Vrindaban? Pray for sambandha jnana, an understanding of our relationship with Krishna, so that we may think of Him in Vrindaban, as just a cowherd, without misconception or malice. At least be cognizant that ultimately He is our friend, child or lover.

Japa Thoughts IX
Srila Prabhupada gave us Krishna, but couched in tattva, knowledge of His supreme position, so that we may respect and worship Krishna, even as a simple cowherd boy in Vraja, and gradually realize our intimate relationship with Him.

Govardhan Japa Thoughts VII My

November 21st, 2001


Japa Thoughts VII
My japa prayer is for visrambha guroh seva, worship of the guru with deep intimate attachment, not just obligation, but attachment that impels selfless and
loving service to his inner wishes and mission. That attachment is transferred to Krishna and qualifies us for His company. Can one enter Vrindaban without intimate attachment, and if it is lacking for His devotee will it manifest for God?.

I wish Srila Prabhupada were still here. His manifest form and visible loving reciprocation would certainly propel my heart further in His loving service. I search in the holy name and search in his mission for visrambha guroh seva. It?s the foundation of spiritual life, what Srila Prabhupada exemplified, what Srila Prabhupada taught, His main bhajan siksa (instructions for spiritual practice), but it is not sentimental or cheap. It takes sincerity of purpose and the mercy of the holy name.

Govardhan Japa Thoughts VI Prayer

November 20th, 2001


Japa Thoughts VI
Prayer is the earnest entreaty of the heart for purity. It is the essence of spiritual life and the essence of chanting Hare Krishna. Effective devotional service, effective chanting, chanting that absorbs the mind, must be done with feeling. Otherwise it is mechanical and tasteless. I pray to the holy name and by the holy name. I pray to Guru, I pray to God, the acaryas and the vaisnavas, past and present. I pray to the Deities, the Dham, the holy places and Lord?s eternal associates. I pray for myself, to understand myself, and I also pray for others. I pray for strength and I pray for humility, by notable prayers and my own words too. I seek mercy in all the Lord?s manifestations of grace. Such chanting absorbs the mind.

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