Feb 162018
 

Today is Srila Jagannatha dasaBabaji Maharaja’s disappearance day. He comes in the Gaudiya Vaishnava disciplic succession after Srila Visvanatha Cakravarti Thakura and Srila Baladeva Vidyabhusana. He was a renounced ascetic, fully engaged in chanting the holy names of Krishna and meditating on His pastimes. For some time, he made his residence at Surya-kunda in Vraja-dhama, near the temple of Suryadeva, where Srimati Radharani used to come and worship the sun-god—or, I should say,where She used to come to meet Krishna on the pretext of coming to worship the sun-god.

Srila Bhaktivinoda Thakura, who comes in the disciplic succession after Jagannatha dasa Babaji, accepted Srila Jagannatha dasa Babaji Maharaja as his main guru, his siksa-guru. Once, some of Jagannatha dasa Babaji’s disciples in Vraja approached the Thakura. They complained that although they had come to Vraja to live like Jagannatha dasa Babaji, fully absorbed in chanting the holy names and meditating on Sri Sri Radha-Krishna’s astakaliya-lila, Babaji Maharaja had refused to instruct them in such esoteric topics and had instead engaged them in cultivating tulasi plants, flowers, and vegetables to offer to the Lord. So, these disciples requested Bhaktivinoda Thakura to appeal to their guru maharaja to instruct them in the esoteric practices of Krishna consciousness.

Srila Bhaktivinoda Thakura told them, “Actually, your gurudeva’s instructions are right for you. Because you still have anarthas, for you to try to sit and do nirjana-bhajana [solitary worship] and practice asta-kaliya-lila-smarana [meditation on the Lord’s eightfold daily pastimes] would be artificial, and you would just become degraded. So you should follow your gurudeva’s instructions with full faith and work hard in Krishna’s service. Then, in time, you may be able to chant the holy names purely.”

Eventually, Jagannatha dasa Babaji moved to Mayapur, where he lived by the banks of the Ganges, fully absorbed in chanting the holy names. He had the greatest reverence for the holy land of Navadvipa. Although he was so renounced and so absorbed in Krishna consciousness, as his reputation spread, gentlemen would come to him and give him donations. Once, Babaji Maharaja asked one of his servants to take the donations he had received, which he kept in an old burlap bag, and purchase a large pot of rasagullas. All the devotees were surprised, because Jagannatha dasa Babaji was so renounced and lived so simply. He would eat just the most simple rice and dal. Anyway, the servant brought the sweets, and Jagannatha dasa Babaji offered them to his Deities and then distributed them to the cows and dogs in the dhama. He said that the creatures of the dhama were elevated souls and worthy of service. Continue reading »

Feb 142018
 

Srimad-Bhagavatam, Canto 8, Chapter 7 (texts 36-42) describes the benevolent activities of Lord Siva when the living entities were threatened by the deadliest poison (halahala).

“Srila Sukadeva Gosvami said: ‘Lord Siva is always benevolent toward all living entities. When he saw that the living entities were very much disturbed by the poison, which was spreading everywhere, he was very compassionate. Thus he spoke to his eternal consort, Sati, as follows.“ ‘Lord Siva said: “My dear Bhavani, just see how all these living entities have been placed in danger because of the poison produced from the churning of the ocean of milk. It is my duty to give protection and safety to all living entities struggling for existence. Certainly it is the duty of the master to protect his suffering dependents. People in general, being bewildered by the illusory energy of the Supreme Personality of Godhead, are always engaged in animosity toward one another. But devotees, even at the risk of their own temporary lives, try to save them. My dear gentle wife Bhavani, when one performs benevolent activities for others, the Supreme Personality of Godhead, Hari, is very pleased. And when the Lord is pleased, I am also pleased, along with all other living creatures. Therefore, let me drink this poison, for all the living entities may thus become happy because of me.” ’

“Srila Sukadeva Gosvami continued: ‘After informing Bhavani in this way, Lord Siva began to drink the poison, and Bhavani, who knew perfectly well the capabilities of Lord Siva, gave him her permission to do so. Thereafter, Lord Siva, who is dedicated to auspicious, benevolent work for humanity, compassionately took the whole quantity of poison in his palm and drank it.’  ”

At the chapter’s end, Srila Sukadeva Gosvami concluded,

tapyante loka-tapena
sadhavah prayaso janah
paramaradhanam tad dhi
purusasyakhilatmanah

“It is said that great personalities almost always accept voluntary suffering because of the suffering of people in general. This is considered the highest method of worshiping the Supreme Personality of Godhead, who is present in everyone’s heart.” (SB 8.7.44)

And Srila Prabhupada elaborates, “Here is an explanation of how those engaged in activities for the welfare of others are very quickly recognized by the Supreme Personality of Godhead. The Lord says in Bhagavad-gita (18.68-69), ya idam paramam guhyam mad-bhaktesv abhidhasyati . . . na ca tasman manusyesu kascin me priya-krttamah: ‘One who preaches the message of Bhagavad-gita to My devotees is most dear to Me. No one can excel him in satisfying Me by worship.’ There are different kinds of welfare activities in this material world, but the supreme welfare activity is the spreading of Krsna consciousness. Other welfare activities cannot be effective, for the laws of nature and the results of karma cannot be checked. . . .

“If one tries to spread Krsna consciousness all over the world, he should be understood to be performing the best welfare activity. The Lord is automatically very pleased with him. If the Lord is pleased with him, what is left for him to achieve? If one has been recognized by the Lord, even if he does not ask the Lord for anything, the Lord, who is within everyone, supplies him whatever he wants. This is also confirmed in Bhagavad-gita (tesam nityabhiyuktanam yoga-ksemam vahamy aham [Bg 9.22]). Again, as stated here, tapyante loka-tapena sadhavah prayaso janah. The best welfare activity is raising people to the platform of Krsna consciousness, since the conditioned souls are suffering only for want of Krsna consciousness. The Lord Himself also comes to mitigate the suffering of humanity.

yada yada hi dharmasya
glanir bhavati bharata
abhyutthanam adharmasya
tadatmanam srjamy aham

paritranaya sadhunam
vinasaya ca duskrtam
dharma-samsthapanarthaya
sambhavami yuge yuge

‘Whenever and wherever there is a decline in religious practice, O descendant of Bharata, and a predominant rise of irreligion—at that time I descend Myself. To deliver the pious and to annihilate the miscreants, as well as to reestablish the principles of religion, I advent Myself millennium after millennium.’ (Bg 4.7-8) All the sastras conclude, therefore, that spreading the Krsna consciousness movement is the best welfare activity in the world. Because of the ultimate benefit this bestows upon people in general, the Lord very quickly recognizes such service performed by a devotee.”

Reflecting on this last verse and purport, I considered how Srila Prabhupada exemplified the statement that “great personalities almost always accept voluntary suffering because of the suffering of people in general.” He certainly did that to establish Hare Krishna Land in Juhu, Bombay—and to establish so many other vehicles for Krishna consciousness in so many other places throughout the world.

I pray that we can continue in the same spirit.

Hare Krishna.

Yours in service,
Giriraj Swami

Feb 122018
 

Giriraj Swami read and spoke from Srimad-Bhagavatam 2.1.11, on the occasion of Abhay Charan’s birthday.

“In this verse, Sri Sukadeva Gosvami recommends the transcendental chanting of the holy name of the Lord. By offenseless chanting and hearing of the holy name of the Lord, one becomes acquainted with the transcendental form of the Lord, and then with the attributes of the Lord, and then with the transcendental nature of His pastimes, etc. Here it is mentioned that one should constantly chant the holy name of the Lord after hearing it from authorities. This means that hearing from the authorities is the first essential. Hearing of the holy name gradually promotes one to the stage of hearing about His form, His attributes, His pastimes, and so on, and thus the necessity of the chanting of His glories develops successively. This process is recommended not only for the successful execution of devotional service, but also even for those who are materially attached. According to Sri Sukadeva Gosvami, this way of attaining success is an established fact, concluded not only by him but also by all other previous acaryas.” —Srimad-Bhagavatam 2.1.11 purport

Srimad-Bhagavatam 2.1.11 (Right click to download)

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Jan 292018
 

Sri Nityananda Prabhu—An Incarnation of Mercy

We welcome you on the most auspicious occasion of Sri Nityananda-trayodasi, in the merciful presence of Sri Sri Nitai-Gaurahari and other Deities. We shall read two verses from Sri Caitanya-caritamrta, Adi-lila, Chapter Five: “The Glories of Lord Nityananda Balarama.”

TEXT 208

preme matta nityananda krpa-avatara
uttama, adhama, kichu na kare vicara

 SYNONYMS

preme—in ecstatic love; matta—mad; nityananda—Lord Nityananda; krpa—merciful; avatara—incarnation; uttama—good; adhama—bad; kichu—any; na—not; kare—makes; vicara—consideration.

TRANSLATION

Because He is intoxicated by ecstatic love and is an incarnation of mercy, He does not distinguish between the good and the bad.

TEXT 209

ye age padaye, tare karaye nistara
ataeva nistarila mo-hena duracara

SYNONYMS

ye—whoever; age—in front; padaye—falls down; tare—unto him; karaye—does; nistara—deliverance; ataeva—therefore; nistarila—delivered; mo—as me; hena—such; duracara—sinful and fallen person.

TRANSLATION

He delivers all those who fall down before Him. Therefore He has delivered such a sinful and fallen person as me.

COMMENT by Giriraj Swami

First we will discuss some of the important words in these verses so that we can better understand the direct meaning, and then we will see how the verses apply to us.

Preme means “in ecstatic love.” The author of Sri Caitanya-caritamrta, Sri Krsnadasa Kaviraja Gosvami, following Srila Rupa Gosvami, has explained that there are different stages in bhakti and that the highest goal of attainment is prema, prema-bhakti—pure love for Godhead. Nityananda Prabhu is an incarnation of Balarama, who is the first expansion of Krishna, and so we may say that Nityananda Prabhu is the first expansion of Sri Chaitanya Mahaprabhu. Like Chaitanya Mahaprabhu, Nityananda Prabhu also feels ecstatic love and is intoxicated by such love.

Krpa-avatara. He is an expansion of mercy. The word avatara literally means “one who descends.” Nityananda Prabhu, along with Chaitanya Mahaprabhu, descended from the spiritual world specifically to distribute mercy. And in doing so He did not consider who was good or bad (uttama, adhama), high or low. He saved all who fell down before Him. Therefore (ataeva) He delivered one as duracara, sinful and fallen, as me. In other words, being duracara is not a disqualification to receive Nityananda’s mercy, as long as one has the qualification. The qualification is age padaye tare: one should fall down before Him. In other words, one should be humble. Continue reading »

Jan 282018
 

Today is Varaha-dvadasi, Lord Varaha’s appearance day. Srila Jayadeva Gosvami, in his Dasavatara-stotra (3), sings,

vasati dasana-sikhare dharani tava lagna
sasini kalanka-kaleva nimagna
kesava dhrta-sukara-rupa jaya jagadisa hare
jaya jagadisa hare, jaya jagadisa hare

“O Kesava! O Lord of the universe! O Lord Hari, who have assumed the form of a boar! All glories to You! The earth, which had become immersed in the Garbhodaka Ocean at the bottom of the universe, sits fixed upon the tip of Your tusk like a spot upon the moon.”

During this pastime, Varahadeva was challenged by the demon Hiranyaksa, as described in Srimad-Bhagavatam (3.18.2): “[Hiranyaksa] saw there the all-powerful Personality of Godhead in His boar incarnation, bearing the earth upward on the ends of His tusks and robbing him of his splendor with His reddish eyes. The demon laughed: Oh, an amphibious beast!”

In his purport, Srila Prabhupada explains, “In a previous chapter we have discussed the incarnation of the Supreme Personality of Godhead as Varaha, the boar. While Varaha, with His tusks, engaged in uplifting the submerged earth from the depths of the waters, this great demon Hiranyaksa met Him and challenged Him, calling Him a beast. Demons cannot understand the incarnations of the Lord; they think that His incarnations as a fish or boar or tortoise are big beasts only. They misunderstand the body of the Supreme Personality of Godhead, even in His human form, and they deride His descent. . . . Avajananti mam mudhah [Gita 9.11]: persons who have no intelligence deride the transcendental form of the Lord as material.”

May Lord Varaha bless us, protect us, and uplift us all.

Hare Krishna.

Yours in service,
Giriraj Swami

Jan 272018
 

Giriraj Swami read and spoke from Srimad-Bhagavatam 3.25.35 during the Sunday program.

pasyanti te me rucirany amba santah
prasanna-vaktraruna-locanani
rupani divyani vara-pradani
sakam vacam sprhaniyam vadanti

TRANSLATION

“O My mother, My devotees always see the smiling face of My form, with eyes like the rising morning sun. They like to see My various transcendental forms, which are all benevolent, and they also talk favorably with Me.”

01.21.18, Kirtan (Right-click to download)

01.21.18, Srimad-Bhagavatam 3.25.35 (Right-click to download)

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Jan 232018
 

Giriraj Swami read and spoke from Srimad-Bhagavatam 2.8.6.

“The progress of culturing knowledge by the jnanis or the bodily gymnastics by the yogis are ultimately given up by the respective performers, but a devotee of the Lord cannot give up the service of the Lord, for he is ordered by his spiritual master. Pure devotees like Narada and Nityananda Prabhu take up the order of the spiritual master as the sustenance of life. They do not mind what becomes of the future of their lives. They take the matter very seriously, as the order comes from the higher authority, from the representative of the Lord, or from the Lord Himself.” SB 2.8.6 purport.

Kirtan (Right-click to download)
Srimad-Bhagavatam 2.8.6 (Right-click to download)

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Jan 212018
 

Giriraj Swami read and spoke from Bhagavad-gita 8.16.

“After meeting with Srila Prabhupada, Tamal Krishna Goswami informed the devotees, ‘Prabhus, Srila Prabhupada just said that we should go back to Godhead in this lifetime. We should not waste another birth. We should finish up now. However, if we need more time, Krishna will add more years to our life. If we are sincere and serious, Krishna will add more years to our life so we can finish up in this very lifetime.’ Krishna is the ultimate factor. Srila Prabhupada had a sister who was always worried about her health and another who was a devotee. The sister in bhakti-yoga lived much longer. Srila Prabhupada said we take normal precautions. ‘So long as you are in the material world, you cannot neglect physical laws. Suppose you go to a jungle and there is a tiger. It is known that it will attack you, so why should you voluntarily go and be attacked? It is not that a devotee should take physical risk so long as he has a physical body. It is not a challenge to the physical laws: “I have become a devotee. I challenge everything.” ‘ But ultimately we have faith that Krishna is our final protector and that everything depends on Him.”

Bhagavad-gita 8.16, Govardhan Urban Farm (Right-click to download)

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Jan 212018
 

“The Krsna consciousness movement therefore issues a supreme call to all kinds of religionists, asking them with great authority to join this movement, by which one can learn how to love God and thus surpass all formulas and formalities of scriptural injunction. A person who cannot overcome the jurisdiction of stereotyped religious principles is compared to an animal chained up by his master. The purpose of all religion is to understand God and develop one’s dormant love of Godhead. If one simply sticks to the religious formulas and formalities but does not become elevated to the position of love of God, he is considered to be a chained animal. In other words, if one is not in Krsna consciousness, he is not eligible for liberation from the contamination of material existence.

“Srila Sridhara Swami has composed a nice verse in this regard: ‘Let others engage in severe austerities, let others fall to the land from the tops of hills and give up their lives, let others travel to many holy places of pilgrimage for salvation, or let them engage in deep study of philosophy and Vedic literature. Let the mystic yogis engage in their meditational service, and let the different sects engage in unnecessary arguing as to which is the best. But it is a fact that unless one is Krsna conscious, unless one is engaged in devotional service, and unless one has the mercy of the Supreme Personality of Godhead, he cannot cross over this material ocean.’ An intelligent person, therefore, gives up all stereotyped ideas and joins the Krsna consciousness movement for factual liberation.” — Krsna, the Supreme Personality of Godhead, “Prayers by the Personified Vedas”

Krsna Book Reading (Right-click to download)

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Sunday Festival and Initiations, January 14, Houston

 Lectures  Comments Off on Sunday Festival and Initiations, January 14, Houston
Jan 202018
 

Aashish Pandya became Chaitanya Chandra das, Dehuti Pandya became Devahuti dasi, Sujata Srikanteswaran became Sukha-sagari dasi (servant of Radharani, who is an ocean of happiness), and Vijaya Bhattaru became Vilasini dasi (servant of Radharani, who enjoys transcendental pastimes). Dayal Nitai das, who received second initiation from Giriraj Swami on his previous visit, also sat in the
fire ceremony.

“Eka krsna-namera phale pai eta dhana: ‘By chanting one name of Krishna, one achieves great transcendental riches.’ (Cc Adi 8.28) We can just imagine how much potency exists in even one name. So when we chant, we must try to hear one name. My godbrother Bhurijana Prabhu says that when you chant, just try to hear one mantra. You can’t hear the one you just chanted, and you can’t hear the one you are going to chant next. You can  hear only the one you are chanting at the moment. ‘By chanting even one name, one very easily achieves these transcendental riches.’ So just hear one name, then the next, and then the next. And if your mind wanders, don’t worry about it—just bring it back. Just hear the mantra you are chanting. This is called the clearing stage of chanting. When one consistently tries to hear the names that one is chanting, that is called the clearing stage, and from there we go to the pure stage.”

At the ceremony, Aashish Pandya became Chaitanya Chandra das, Dehuti Pandya became Devahuti dasi, Sujata Srikanteswaran became Sukha-sagari dasi (servant of Radharani, who is an ocean of happiness), and Vijaya Bhattaru became Vilasini dasi (servant of Radharani, who enjoys transcendental pastimes). Dayal Nitai das, who received second initiation from me on my previous visit, also sat in the fire ceremony.

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Sunday Festival and Initiations (Right-click to download)
Kirtan (Right-click to download)

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