Monday Morning Greetings 2024 #8 – This is the Movement of the Living Entity!

February 19th, 2024

I was standing in a large meadow in Golden Gate Park in the middle of San Francisco before the stage where Śrīla Prabhupāda was lecturing to thousands of young people who were attracted by the Ratha-yātrā. It was July 1974. Perhaps, you remember that famous picture of Śrīla Prabhupāda wearing a white sweater adorned with a starkly contrasted bright red rose garland, his hands raised in ecstasy in kirtan surrounded on stage by his dancing disciples. To this day I remember the profundity and force of Śrīla Prabhupāda’s speech that reverberated from the speakers in the trees that lined the back of the meadow:


“There are so many movements of liberation: women’s liberation, black liberation, this liberation, and that liberation, BUT THIS IS THE MOVEMENT OF THE LIVING ENTITY!”


Now let me take you forward to yesterday, here in Govardhan, and then explain what inspired me to connect that experience to what I heard in 1974.


Paramananda das and his son Kana were visiting, so I took them, along with two lady guests, Bhakti Śāstra and Yogamāyā, for some Brijabasi rotis in the nearby village of Aniyor in Govardhan at the house of the family of Bal Kishan Sharma, 84, one of the blessed brāhmaṇa families who, for generations, cook rotis for the sādhus who circumambulate the hill once or twice daily. I like to share the experience of taking lunch there with others so they can relish the rotis and watch one effulgent sādhu after another show up at the door as the family enthusiastically responds to serve them. When we arrived, Bal Kishan was there along with his wife, daughter-in-law, and a couple of late teen/early twenties granddaughters congregated in their small second floor common room, which also has two attached small bedrooms and an adjacent uncovered large veranda that houses a small enclave for their one simple clay chula (stove) on the floor.


We watched how the family exchanged so lovingly with each other, served us with enthusiasm and reciprocated with the sādhus who blessed them with their smiles. When we finished, they also brought us into their web of joy and laughter. It took me some time to extract our group from the “party.” I finally just looked at my watch and decided it was time to kill the fun and politely asked permission to go. We then proceeded again towards the parikrama on a small village road perpendicular to the front of their house, which rests practically adjacent to Govardhan Hill. It was the first day of spring so as we were walking, we passed many elderly Brijabasi ladies sitting in bunches in front of various houses getting sun and enjoying each other’s company. Upon seeing us they also invited the people with me to exchange with them. My party was again caught in a web of joy.


When were back on the parikrama path, I think we all had the same epiphany—that this was a kind of Alice in Wonderland experience where you fall down a rabbit hole into a fantasy world. It was like a veil was lifted and we entered Krishna’s village thousands of years ago when He was manifest there. But something else struck me that was also more topical, which is the focus of what I was inspired to share this week and brings me back Śrīla Prabhupāda’s comment in 1974.


Besides our epiphany in relationship to seeing the real Vrindavan, I also saw something more basic, a very functional family and community. To me it was such a stark contrast to the increasing social dysfunction today in the west, especially America, where I stay part of the year. Numerous studies show that there is a burgeoning mental health epidemic that just can’t be minimized by the greater awareness of mental illness today.[1] It’s real, just as is the rapidly increasing problems of drugs, crime, and loneliness in the modern world are real. I think you have to be blind to not see that something has gone terribly awry. Therefore, when leaving Aniyor, and experiencing what seemed to me to be the best of tradition in terms of family and community and contrasting that to what I am seeing today, I thought of the statement by Śrīla Prabhupāda that reverberated in my ears in 1974—that although some change, some liberation was arguably needed, that alone would not lead to the transformation that people wanted and that should be obvious today more than ever. What we need more than ever before is a spiritual revival—A MOVEMENT OF THE LIVING ENTITY!



[1] Studies that indicate this take into account that mental illness is less of a stigma and more readily acknowledged and reported today.


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