Jan 212018
 

Giriraj Swami read and spoke from Bhagavad-gita Bg 8.16.

“Srila Prabhupada said to Tamal Krishna Maharaja that Krishna wants us all to go back to Godhead in this very lifetime. So, if a devotee needs more time Krishna may extend his duration of life so he may finish up what he needs to do to go back to Godhead in this lifetime. Krishna is the ultimate factor. Srila Prabhupada had one 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. We don’t go into the jungle and put our head into the mouth of the tiger—becoming a devotee doesn’t mean challenge the laws of nature. Ultimately we have faith that Krishna is our final protector and everything depends on Him.”

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

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Jan 212018
 

“The Krishna 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 Krishna 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 Krishna 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 Krishna consciousness movement for factual liberation.” — Krishna the Supreme Personality of Godhead

Krishna Book Reading (Right-click to download)

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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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Jan 182018
 

Giriraj Swami read Srila Prabhupada’s purport and discussed the song Nitai-pada-kamala by Narottama Dasa Thakura during an evening program.

“We talk about association, but what does that mean? In The Nectar of Instruction, verse 4, Rupa Gosvami discusses:

dadati pratigrhnati
guhyam akhyati prcchati
bhunkte bhojayate caiva
sad-vidham priti-laksanam

Guhyam akhyati prcchati means ‘revealing ones mind in confidence.’ It is very important that devotees are able to do that. Otherwise they keep things inside, where they fester and grow bigger than what they really are. We need that type of association where we can reveal our minds in confidence. And we also have to be confidential. Otherwise we may reveal our minds in confidence and the next thing we know it’s all over Facebook and all over the town, and then we won’t reveal our mind in confidence again because we won’t have faith that the confidence will be maintained. So, coming back to Nitai-pada-kamala — the idea is that we realize the truth of this song in the association of devotees. And even if we are together now and have a sense of the import of this song, we may forget it and be carried away once we leave the association of devotees. So sticking to the lotus feet of Lord Nityananda means sticking to the lotus feet of Srila Prabhupada’s devotees.”

Nitai-pada-kamala purport (Right-click to download)

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Jan 152018
 

Giriraj Swami read and spoke from Srimad Bhagavatam 2.3.17.

“A living being, especially the human being, is seeking happiness because happiness is the natural situation of the living entity. But he is vainly seeking happiness in the material atmosphere. A living being is constitutionally a spiritual spark of the complete whole, and his happiness can be perfectly perceived in spiritual activities. The Lord is the complete spirit whole, and His name, form, quality, pastimes, entourage and personality are all identical with Him. Once a person comes into contact with any one of the above-mentioned energies of the Lord through the proper channel of devotional service, the door to perfection is immediately opened. In the Bhagavad-gita (2.40) the Lord has explained such contact in the following words: “Endeavors in devotional service are never baffled. Nor is there failure. A slight beginning of such activities is sufficient even to deliver a person from the great ocean of material fears.” As a highly potent drug injected intravenously acts at once on the whole body, the transcendental topics of the Lord injected through the ear by the pure devotee of the Lord can act very efficiently.” SB 2.3.17 purport

Srimad Bhagavatam 2.3.17 (Right-click to download)

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Jan 142018
 

Today, Makara-sankranti, January 14, 2018, is the fortieth anniversary of the Juhu temple. On this occasion, I share with you three sections from my forthcoming book, I’ll Build You a Temple: A Good Fight and a Promise Fulfilled, about Srila Prabhupada and Juhu—“Opening the Juhu Temple,” “After the Opening,” and “Concluding Reflections”.

May Srila Prabhupada and Sri Sri Radha-Rasabihari bless us all.

Hare Krishna.

Yours in service,
Giriraj Swami
__________

Opening the Juhu Temple

Before the Vrindavan temple opening, Srila Prabhupada had instructed us to organize it the way Maharaja Yudhisthira had organized the Rajasuya sacrifice, with a prominent person in charge of each department. As stated in Krsna, “King Yudhisthira arranged to perform the Rajasuya sacrifice. He invited all the qualified brahmanas and sages to take part and appointed them to different positions as priests in charge of the sacrificial arena.”

For the Juhu temple opening, leading devotees came from all over the world. Ramesvara, as the trustee for the North American BBT, based in Los Angeles, gave Mukunda three thousand dollars—quite a lot then—and free rein to promote the event.

“So,” Mukunda recalled, “using the money he gave me, I took a flight from Los Angeles to New York, and I went to a street-side copy shop on 6th Avenue and made printouts of all the slides I had of the Juhu temple, some of which were truly magnificent.

“I then took an Air India flight to New Delhi and got a list of all the foreign media located there. My first stop was to be the Los Angeles Times. I arrived about fifteen minutes later than my appointed time. The woman who was the bureau chief of the Los Angeles Times was wearing tennis shoes and was angry that I was fifteen minutes late, because she said that I would make her late for her tennis match. So I left her the printouts of the Juhu temple and moved on.

“At the office of The New York Times the bureau chief was very friendly and had a copy of the MacMillan edition of Bhagavad-gita As It Is on his bookshelf. I then visited a few more people, including some Australian media and the ABC Television bureau chiefs, and I left printouts of the Juhu temple with all of them.

“A few days later, I was visited by a news representative named Ramanujan. He said that he thought the Juhu temple opening would make a good story for Newsweek, and he also wanted to publish another article, ‘Hare Krishna Is Here to Stay.’ He was very favorable. A photographer named Jehangir Gazdar was eager to take photographs of the events at the temple. Continue reading »

Jan 132018
 

Giriraj Swami read and spoke from Srimad Bhagavatam 1.8.42.

“There is a verse in the Srimad Bhagavatam that says that everyone knows that attachment is the greatest form of bondage for the conditioned soul. But, that same attachment when transferred to the self-realized devotees of the Lord, opens the door to liberation. So, we cannot actually exist without attachment. There are some impersonal philosophers who want to stop all attachment. But, as Srila Prabhupada says to be completely without attachment you have to be like a stone. We don’t want to become like stones. We don’t want to be without attachment, but we don’t want to be attached to things that cause us pain and suffering and bondage. We want to be attached to things that liberate us and that means Krishna and His devotees.”

Subtleties of Affectionate Relationships, January 10, The Darshan Room, Dallas (Right-click to download)

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Jan 082018
 

Giriraj Swami read and spoke from Srimad-Bhagavatam 2.3.17 during the Sunday program.

“The materialistic man of the modern age will argue that life, or part of it, is never meant for discussion of theosophical or theological arguments. Life is meant for the maximum duration of existence for eating, drinking, sexual intercourse, making merry and enjoying life. The modern man wants to live forever by the advancement of material science, and there are many foolish theories for prolonging life to the maximum duration. But the Srimad-Bhagavatam affirms that life is not meant for so-called economic development or advancement of materialistic science for the hedonistic philosophy of eating, mating, drinking and merrymaking. Life is solely meant for tapasya, for purifying existence so that one may enter into eternal life just after the end of the human form of life.” SB 2.3.18 purport

The Value of Time (Right-click to download)

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Jan 052018
 

In anticipation of the fortieth anniversary of the Juhu temple, Rasa-sundari dasi wrote about serving there:

Serving Guru Maharaja in Bombay from 1990 to 1992 was sometimes a real challenge, because we had hardly any facilities.

In the beginning there were only three of us, not even initiated then: Bhakta Juan, Bhaktin Manju, and myself, Bhaktin Flor.

Cooking was done on the second floor in a small kitchen connected to the Bhaktivedanta Institute. Guru Maharaja always took his prasadam in his office, and as he liked hot chapattis, we were cooking them on the second floor and then running down the hall with them, one by one, to the office.

There were no mobile phones at that time, so lots of time was spent trying to find each other to get the messages through.

Serving Guru Maharaja in Bombay meant to be able to go with him to visit all those wonderful devotees who were present during Srila Prabhupada’s time—Mrs. Nirmala Singhal, Dr. C. P. Patel, Mr. P. L. Sethi, Srimati Sumati Morariji. They all received Guru Maharaja like a long-lost son who finally had come home.

Serving Guru Maharaja in Bombay meant witnessing how he gave himself fully to each and every person who wanted to see him, and everyone wanted to see him. He never showed any concern for himself, whether he had eaten, taken rest, or had some time for himself.

Serving Guru Maharaja in Bombay meant being the lucky first three devotees that received initiation from him under the loving glance of Sri Sri Radha-Rasabihariji, and we became Vrindavan das, Janaki devi dasi, and Rasa-sundari dasi.

After our initiation, Guru Maharaja allowed us to collect guru-daksina in front of the restaurant. At the end of the day, when Vrindavan das told Guru Maharaja that because of his service, he had not been able to collect anything and so he had nothing to give to him, Guru Maharaja looked at him and said, “You need not worry about that—you have already given me your life.”

Serving Guru Maharaja in Bombay meant being able to see him many mornings on the altar doing the mangala-arati for Sri Sri Radha-Rasabihariji.

Serving Guru Maharaja in Bombay meant seeing him so expertly supervise the cleaning and maintenance of Srila Prabhupada’s quarters. He wanted us, the devotees, to do the cleaning and everything else there.

Serving Guru Maharaja in Bombay meant watching him go almost every morning after mangala-arati to Srila Prabhupada’s quarters and chant his rounds there.

Serving Guru Maharaja in Bombay meant meeting and serving so many of his wonderful godbrothers and godsisters who had served together with him during Prabhupada’s times, and seeing the love they all had for him.

Serving Guru Maharaja in Bombay meant realizing that you are not this body, when after ten or twelve hours of intense service you fell on your bed, the body completely exhausted and the soul inside completely blissful, wanting to do more.

Serving Guru Maharaja in Bombay was one of the happiest times in my life!

—Rasa-sundari dasi