Feb 062016
 

GS_Early“My friend Gary was saying that everything is void, and Satsvarupa was saying that there is no void in the creation of God. I had been reading books on Zen and other philosophies and felt that it was silly for them to be arguing. So I turned around and pronounced the final conclusion. ‘It is not void,’ I said, ‘and it is not not-void, but to give it a name, we call it the “void”.’ Well, that gem of wisdom did nothing to stop their argument.”

Kirtan, Alachua
How I Came to Krishna Consciousness, January 31, Alachua

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Feb 052016
 

SP-GM_03_lkrsna-bhakti-janma-mula haya ‘sadhu-sanga’
krsna-prema janme, tenho punah mukhya anga

“The root cause of devotional service to Lord Krsna is association with advanced devotees. Even when one’s dormant love for Krsna awakens, association with devotees is still most essential.” (Cc Madhya 22.83)

bhavapavargo bhramato yada bhavej
janasya tarhy acyuta sat-samagamah
sat-sangamo yarhi tadaiva sad-gatau
paravarese tvayi jayate ratih

“O my Lord! O infallible Supreme Person! When a person wandering throughout the universes becomes eligible for liberation from material existence, he gets an opportunity to associate with devotees. When he associates with devotees, his attraction for You is awakened. You are the Supreme Personality of Godhead — the highest goal of the topmost devotees, and the Lord of the universe.” (SB 10.51.53, Cc Madhya 22.84)

ata atyantikam ksemam
prcchamo bhavato ’naghah
samsare ’smin ksanardho ’pi
sat-sangah sevadhir nrnam

“O devotees! O you who are free from all sins! Let me inquire from you about that which is supremely auspicious for all living entities. Association with a pure devotee for even half a moment in this material world is the greatest treasure for human society.” (SB 11.2.30, Cc Madhya 22.85)

Giriraj Swami: “All of us are extremely fortunate to have come to this place where we can get the association of devotees. Here our inclination toward spiritual life will be encouraged supported. And only in spiritual life—Krishna consciousness—will we get actual happiness and satisfaction. Mundane association will reinforce the illusion that you are the body and that by getting material things you will be happy. In any endeavor, including spiritual life, we need support to be successful.”

1.29.2016, Success Through Association of Devotees, Gainesville

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Jan 262016
 

12552994_1278284582188263_1466192508641146526_nGiriraj Swami and Guru Prasada Swami read and spoke from Srimad-Bhagavatam 2.1.11 during the Sunday program in Houston.

“It’s a natural response: If someone is hurting you, you will withdraw from that person. You won’t want to be close to that person. So, if we offend Krishna’s devotees, that causes pain to Krishna, to the Holy Name, so He will withdraw, or His mercy will recede, from the person. But there is a way to rectify the offense—to use the same tongue that vilified the devotee to glorify the devotee. If you have spoken in a bad way to a devotee, you can go to the devotee and apologize and beg for forgiveness and mercy. If you have spoken badly about a devotee to other people, you should go to them and apologize and use that same tongue to glorify that devotee. Every devotee by virtue of being a devotee has good qualities. So we should focus on their good qualities and not their faults, which are like spots on the moon.”

—Giriraj Swami

01.24.16, Kirtan, Houston
01.24.16, SB 2.1.11, Houston

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Jan 192016
 

6.6Giriraj Swami continued reading and speaking from Srimad-Bhagavatam 2.1.11.

“Srila Bhaktivinoda Thakura says that by attentive chanting one can become free from all the other offenses—and that by inattentive chanting we allow all the other offenses to flourish. So it is critical that we chant with attention. When we are calling Krishna’s name and Krishna asks, ‘What do you want?’ we can pray,  ‘I want to hear Your holy names.’ We don’t have to ask for something very distant. We can ask for the thing that is most important at that moment—that we can hear the holy names. So that can be our prayer while we are chanting—’Please allow me to hear You. Please allow me to fix my mind upon You.’ And when we actually do that, everything changes. Then we get the real effect of becoming free from false ego and becoming situated in our actual positions as eternal servants of Radha and Krishna and Their dear devotees.”

Kirtan in Dallas
Talk on SB 2.1.11 in Dallas

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Jan 152016
 

Today is Makara-sankranti, the date of the opening of Sri Sri Radha-Rasabihari’s temple and cultural complex at Hare Krishna Land, Juhu, Mumbai. The following is adapted from a talk by Radhanath
Swami.

Srila Prabhupada Praying before Radha-Rasabihari in JuhuI am grateful and honored and happy to be with all of you this evening. This event is traditionally held on Republic Day, and one of the reasons Republic Day is remembered and celebrated is the challenges, the sacrifices, even the sufferings that people had to endure for India’s independence.

As much as anywhere in the world, the place where Srila Prabhupada was challenged and had to make tremendous sacrifices was in Juhu, to build a home for Sri Sri Radha-Rasabihari. In those days the site was kind of a swamp that was so far from the city that devotees couldn’t understand why Srila Prabhupada had chosen it for a temple. In New York the temple was in the Lower East Side, in the middle of the city, and the second temple, in San Francisco, was right in the middle of Haight Ashbury. In London the temple was just a few blocks from the British Museum. A temple was usually in the middle of a city, and then, if there was going to be something a distance from there, a satellite project would be established in the countryside. But in Bombay Srila Prabhupada wanted to build the temple in a place that seemed far away, and most of his followers couldn’t understand.

But the types of faith that Srila Prabhupada demonstrated and the struggles he endured over many years were extraordinary. He was in his mid-seventies. He didn’t have money, he had only a few followers from the West, who really didn’t know that much about dealing with situations in India, and the odds against him were insurmountable—powerful parties trying to cheat him, exploit him, and stop the progress. But Srila Prabhupada promised Radha-Rasabihari that he would build them a temple in Juhu. They were in a crude hut on this swampy land, with mosquitoes and rats and snakes and many antagonistic neighbors, but even when everything seemed hopeless, Srila Prabhupada had total faith: “I made this promise to Krishna, and it will be fulfilled.”

It was impossible by all material calculation, but when someone tried to tell Prabhupada that something was impossible, he would say, “Impossible is a word in a fool’s dictionary.” He wasn’t seeing it from the perspective of material ability, and by the grace of Krishna everything was possible.

The opening of the temple and the installation of the deities also happened in January, Makara-sankranti time. So this is like Republic Day for Radha-Rasabihari. And it’s a special day for us to remember Srila Prabhupada’s sacrifice, faith, and compassion, and all those who were at his side, helping.

The person who was at Srila Prabhupada’s side more than anyone else throughout those years—from the beginning till the glorious conclusion—was His Holiness Giriraj Swami Maharaja. He is now in the process of writing a book about that era of Srila Prabhupada’s devotional service and the pastimes of Sri Sri Radha-Rasabihari. He not only witnessed what took place; he was a crucial part of it. So of all the people living in the world today, there is no one more suitable and more empowered to share the story of the Juhu temple, which is truly an important story.

Srimad-Bhagavatam is the literary incarnation of Krishna. But up until the tenth canto, most of its stories focus on the devotees and culminate in their relationship with Krishna. Ambarisa Maharaja, Dhruva Maharaja, Prahlada Maharaja, Pariksit Maharaja, Rantideva, the Pracetas, the Vrajavasis. Mahajano yena gatah sa panthah. Sri Caitanya Mahaprabhu cited this verse from sastra, that the goal and essence of all the scriptures of the world cannot be understood through study alone. Neither can it be understood and realized by our sacrifices, our tapasya, or our charities. The true path is mahajano yena gatah sa panthah, to follow in the footsteps of great souls, through their prayers, through their teachings, and through how they applied them to their lives, in both sunny and stormy weather.

This book that His Holiness Giriraj Swami Maharaja is writing is going to tell about our beloved paramahamsa acarya Srila Prabhupada—about his personal, intimate, loving relationship with Radha-Rasabihari and how in service to Them through all the challenges he was courageous, he was fearless, even when he was going against governments. His success wasn’t due to his physical strength or mental intellectual abilities; it was because he surrendered completely to the grace of Krishna—everything comes from that. It is an important story for the world, for all time. My humble request is that we all do everything we can to help Giriraj Maharaja complete this book. Hare Krishna.

[Adapted from a talk by Radhanath Swami, January 31, 2015, Juhu, Mumbai]

Jan 122016
 

sp japa 3Giriraj Swami read and spoke from Srimad-Bhagavatam 2.1.11—who should chant, why they should chant, and how they should chant.

“How should we chant? We should chant continuously, following the ways of the great authorities. And what does it mean to follow the ways of the great authorities? Here Srila Prabhupada refers to Srila Jiva Gosvami, who has quoted the Padma Purana that there are ten offenses to be avoided while chanting the holy name. It is important for us to know these ten offenses and to make a conscious effort to avoid them. In the beginning we may not be aware of the offenses, and we may chant and get great benefit, but eventually we will have to come to the stage where we are aware of the offenses and make a conscious effort to avoid them. Then we come to the liberated stage of chanting, when one really relishes. And beyond the liberated stage of chanting is the stage where one has pure love for God, Krishna, and at that stage one swims in a fathomless ocean of divine ecstasy.”

Kirtan in Dallas
Talk on SB 2.1.11 in Dallas

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Receiving, Planting, and Tending the Devotional Creeper: 50 Years of ISKCON, Part 2, January 3, Dallas

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Jan 042016
 

GRS_GPSGiriraj Swami and Guru Prasada Swami share more realizations of their lives in Krishna consciousness over the last decades.

“If we cry for Krishna, then we feel the effect of the holy name. Then the bond becomes so strong that when we are not chanting or not connected to Krishna for a moment it is like an infinity. Then we come to the final stage when we are really connected to Krishna and the holy name. Then it doesn’t matter what is happening in our life — whether I’m happy, whether things go right or wrong. Whatever happens, Krishna is my unconditional Lord. My purpose in life is to serve Him, please Him, and do His will.”

— Guru Prasada Swami

Experiences and Realizations, Part 2: 50 Years of ISKCON, Dallas

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Experiences and Realizations: 50 Years of ISKCON, January 3, Dallas

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Jan 032016
 

50th-anniversery-web———————————————————————————-
Giriraj Swami and Guru Prasada Swami look back at their service in ISKCON over the last 50 years.

“I remember when a devotee came up to me and said, ‘Ten years ago I met you on the street and you gave me a book. From that book I found a temple and became a devotee.’ That is such a rewarding experience. Sometimes when you distribute books or do any service, you feel a little overburdened because there is so much to do for Krishna. But when you get that reciprocation from the deities or someone you have preached to, it makes everything worthwhile. You think, ‘I can participate in this way in Krishna consciousness.’ That is how I have put my little grain of sand into this movement — by trying to pioneer. And I am still trying to do that to some degree — if Krishna gives me the chance.”

—Guru Prasada Swami

Experiences and Realizations: 50 Years of ISKCON, Dallas

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Secrets of Success — and Failure — in Krishna Consciousness, January 2, Dallas

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Jan 022016
 

IMG_0519Giriraj Swami gave a seminar based on Sri Upadesamrta (The Nectar of Instruction) by Srila Rupa Gosvami.

“The living entity is by nature the eternal servant of Krishna. And people in the consciousness of servitorship to Krishna are in the spiritual world. So when we come to the material world we need a different identity — and that is called false ego. We cannot be Krishna, so Krishna arranges: ‘All right, you want to play God, so you can have this toy world and play at being Krishna.’ Every living being in the material world comes with that false ego: ‘I want to be the Supreme’ — every living entity in every species. But if we just take the humans, we have six billion people walking around and internally feeling: ‘Can I have your attention. I have an important announcement to make: I am the center of the universe and everyone should act for only one purpose — to make me happy — and do what I want.’ ”

Secrets of Success — and Failure — in Krishna Consciousness

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Disappearance Day of Srila Bhaktisiddhanta Sarasvati Thakura, December 28, Houston

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Dec 312015
 

Bhaktisiddhanta-9.JPG“Srila Bhaktisiddhanta Sarasvati Thakura adopted many practices that were very unusual then, in order to attract people. And he was especially interested in attracting Westerners. At the time India was under the rule of the British, and perhaps the British looked down on their subjugated peoples. But although he was so austere and simple by nature, he dressed in a way that an English gentleman would consider him as his equal.”

Disappearance Day of Srila Bhaktisiddhanta

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