Jun 282015

07.06.15_BrooklynGiriraj Swami read and spoke from Srimad-Bhagavatam 2.3.17.

“This verse indirectly confirms the greater importance of utilizing the human form of life to realize our lost relationship with the Supreme Lord by acceleration of devotional service. Time and tide wait for no man. So the time indicated by the sunrise and the sunset will be uselessly wasted if such time is not properly utilized for realizing identification of spiritual values. Even a fraction of the duration of life wasted cannot be compensated by any amount of gold.”

—SB 2.3.17 purport

Srimad-Bhagavatam 2.3.17

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Jun 242015

BhaktiCenterGiriraj Swami read from Srimad-Bhagavatam 1.10.20 and spoke about His Holiness Tamal Krishna Goswami, in honor of his birthday.

“One evening on the balcony of the Calcutta temple, Tamal Krishna Goswami opened up to me about many confidential things—especially for a new devotee like me. And he said that the secret of success in spiritual life is to serve and please the spiritual master. Up until then I had been hearing and chanting and  reading and doing service and performing so many other items of bhakti-yoga. But they were like items on a list, with no particular focus. But what Tamal Krishna Goswami said gave a focus for all the different items of devotional service—to please the spiritual master, which became the organizing principle for my life.”

Srimad-Bhagavatam 1.10.20

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Jun 222015

Srila-Prabhupada-Chants-on-Devotees-Beads-at-Initiation-620x350We were out on the street when suddenly I had a clear and vivid perception and realization that I was not the body— that I was something completely different. It was a very joyful and blissful experience:

brahma-bhutah prasannatma
na socati na kanksati
samah sarvesu bhutesu
mad-bhaktim labhate param

“One who is thus transcendentally situated at once realizes the Supreme Brahman and becomes fully joyful. He never laments or desires to have anything. He is equally disposed toward every living entity. In that state he attains pure devotional service unto Me.” (Bhagavad-gita 18.54)

I started to weep, it was such a wonderful experience. I mentioned it to some devotees, and they suggested that Srila Prabhupada might have been chanting on my initiation beads at that moment. And it is possible, because a couple of days later Srila Prabhupada’s letter came with my beads, and it was dated that day. It stated, “I beg to acknowledge receipt of your letter dated July 2, 1969, sent along with your beads. I have chanted on them, and your initiated name is Giriraj. Giriraj is the name of Govardhan Hill, on which Krishna used to tend His cows. In Vrindavan Govardhan Hill is worshiped as a representation of Krishna. . . . So, I marked it in your person when I was in Boston, and I prayed to Krishna that this good soul may be aware of the importance of Krishna consciousness.”

Towaco Talk
Towaco Kirtan

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Jun 212015

Srila Prabhupada blesses a child in DallasToday I think of Srila Prabhupada’s letter to a disciple, “You have accepted me as father, so I have also accepted you as my dear and real son. Relationship of father and son on spiritual platform is real and eternal; on the material platform such relationship is ephemeral and temporary. Although I cannot give you anything as father, still I can pray to Krishna for your more and more advancement in Krishna consciousness. Your sincerity and service mood will always help you in advancing your genuine cause.”

I also think of my godbrother Mukunda Datta Prabhu’s account of the the first time he heard Brahmananda Prabhu speak, at the Mayapur festival in 1978, on the following verses:

“O My sons, you should accept a highly elevated paramahamsa, a spiritually advanced spiritual master. In this way, you should place your faith and love in Me, the Supreme Personality of Godhead. You should detest sense gratification and tolerate the duality of pleasure and pain, which are like the seasonal changes of summer and winter. Try to realize the miserable condition of living entities, who are miserable even in the higher planetary systems. Philosophically inquire about the truth. Then undergo all kinds of austerities and penances for the sake of devotional service. Give up the endeavor for sense enjoyment and engage in the service of the Lord. Listen to discussions about the Supreme Personality of Godhead, and always associate with devotees. Chant about and glorify the Supreme Lord, and look upon everyone equally on the spiritual platform. Give up enmity and subdue anger and lamentation. Abandon identifying the self with the body and the home, and practice reading the revealed scriptures. Live in a secluded place and practice the process by which you can completely control your life air, mind and senses. Have full faith in the revealed scriptures, the Vedic literatures, and always observe celibacy. Perform your prescribed duties and avoid unnecessary talks. Always thinking of the Supreme Personality of Godhead, acquire knowledge from the right source. Thus practicing bhakti-yoga, you will patiently and enthusiastically be elevated in knowledge and will be able to give up the false ego.” (SB 5.5.10–13)

After reading the verses and purport, Brahmananda Prabhu began to explain them slowly and thoughtfully. He said something to effect that “Rsabhadeva gave theses very deep instructions to his one hundred sons. My father never gave me such important instructions.” After a pause, he added, “Then I met my real father.” With this, Brahmananda Prabhu broke down and began to sob uncontrollably, which ended the class.

“The Lord is directly concerned with the twice-born or civilized men. A civilized man is one who has taken his birth twice. A living entity takes birth in this mundane world due to the union of male and female. A human being is born due to union of the father and mother, but a civilized human being has another birth by contact with a spiritual master, who becomes the actual father. The father and mother of the material body are so only in one birth, and in the next birth the father and mother may be a different couple. But the bona fide spiritual master, as the representative of the Lord, is the eternal father because the spiritual master has the responsibility to lead the disciple to spiritual salvation, or the ultimate goal of life.” (SB 3.5.7 purport)

Hare Krishna.

Your eternal servant,

Giriraj Swami

Jun 172015

Brahmananda Speaking about Prabhupada in VrindavanYesterday Bhurijana Prabhu sent me an audio message about Brahmananda Prabhu, which acted as a balm for my heart:

“Gargamuni told Dharmatma—and I heard from Dharmatma—that when Brahmananda and he took Srila Prabhupada out of the hospital in 1967, Prabhupada told them, ‘Because you have rescued me from the hospital, you won’t have to be in the hospital at the time of your death.’

“So, the week before Brahmananda Prabhu left his body, he couldn’t breathe, and Dharmatma was bringing him oxygen. Finally it was decided that he should go to the Apollo hospital in Delhi. It’s quite hot in Vrindavan in June, so Brahmananda insisted that he be brought in an ambulance and that the ambulance be air-conditioned.

“As it turned out, before a suitable ambulance could be arranged, Brahmananda Prabhu left his body, in Vrindavan, as he had desired. How merciful is Prabhupada! How merciful is the dust of Vrindavan!

“Gargamuni also related to Dharmatma that Prabhupada had told him, ‘Brahmananda is saintly. He doesn’t know how to do business. He is a saintly person. You know how to do business, so you take care of him.’ So Gargamuni said that for the last fifteen or twenty years, he’s been taking care of Brahmananda, and now he has set up Brahmananda’s room and his desk and his chair and his shoes and everything, and it’s like a bhajana-kutira. And I believe they are planning a samadhi for him at the gosala.”

Hare Krishna.

—Giriraj Swami

Jun 172015

Prabhupada_BrahmanandaThe memorial program for Brahmananda Prabhu in Los Angeles was wonderful. For almost six hours, devotee after devotee shared their experiences and realizations of how Brahmananda had touched their hearts and changed their lives with his care for them and his love for Srila Prabhupada—and how he had now gone to rejoin Srila Prabhupada.

Sri Caitanya-bhagavata (Antya 3.485–487) confirms the efficacy of serving pure devotees and the results one attain from it: “The service of Vaisnavas is superior to the service of Krsna. All scriptures headed by the Srimad-Bhagavatam confirm this. There may be a doubt whether the servants of the Supreme Personality of Godhead will attain perfection, but there is absolutely no doubt that those who are attached to serving the Lord’s devotees will attain perfection. Therefore service to the Vaisnavas is the best means of deliverance.”

May Brahmananda Prabhu’s example of dedication to his spiritual master and kindness to others inspire us in our service to Srila Prabhupada and his devotees.

—Giriraj Swami

Jun 152015

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“The first time Srila Prabhupada came to the Boston temple in Brighton, Brahmananda Prabhu met Srila Prabhupada near the front door, and he started to cry like a baby. It was so touching. He had such a large body but such a soft heart and so much affection for Srila Prabhupada — throughout. And especially in the last years, any contact or interaction I had with him caused a tremendous boost in my loving feelings for Srila Prabhupada. It was amazing. I would e-mail him questions about the history, and he would e-mail back, and it would give me such a boost in Prabhupada consciousness which would last for days.”

Brahmananda Prabhu’s Memorial Program, New Dvaraka

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Jun 122015

SPinCarGiriraj Swami read and spoke from Srimad-Bhagavatam 2.8.5-6.

“Peter ran up to the car. Srila Prabhupada rolled down the window, looked at him, and said, ‘Yes?’ Peter put his hand in his pocket to take out the $300, but it turned out that in the rush he had forgotten the money and there was nothing in his pocket. He dug deep in his pockets, but all he came up with was 37 cents. Srila Prabhupada was looking out the window, waiting, so Peter gave him the 37 cents. And Srila Prabhupada made such a big thing of it. ‘Thank you very much,’ he smiled. ‘This is so nice.’ All the other times Peter had given money, there was some false ego, or pride, but this time there was no false ego and no pride—he was just in a panic to do some service, and Srila Prabhupada could feel his sincere desire, free from pride and ego. Srila Prabhupada knew what was in your heart and what you needed. He wasn’t bewildered or impressed by material opulence, but he wanted to see your devotion.”

Srimad-Bhagavatam 2.8.5-6

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Jun 112015

SJI-Swamiji-Book-01Upon awaking this morning, my heart was flooded with emotion in appreciation of Srila Prabhupada and his divine gifts to us, and I knew it was Brahmananda Prabhu’s mercy. Any association with Brahmananda Prabhu—whether by vani or vapuh—had that effect: it enhanced my loving feelings for Srila Prabhupada.

While hearing Sri Caitanya-bhagavata this morning, I was struck by a verse that seemed to describe Brahmananda Prabhu perfectly. “Visnu and the Vaisnavas are equal, but atheists and blasphemers think otherwise. One who worships the lotus feet of Krsna without discriminating . . . is delivered.” Brahmananda Prabhu had the firm conviction that the worship and service of Srila Prabhupada was equal to—if not more pleasing than—that of the Supreme Lord. And he was surely delivered by Srila Prabhupada’s grace.

Then I heard a prayer, offered to Lord Caitanya, that seemed to reflect Brahmananda Prabhu’s mood in relation to Srila Prabhupada—and the mood for which I aspire: “Birth after birth, You are our father, mother, son, and master. May we never forget Your lotus feet. O Lord, it does not matter where we take birth, but may we always have loving devotion for Your lotus feet.”

To mitigate my feelings of separation from Brahmananda Prabhu and to share remembrances and realizations about him, I will join the memorial program for him in New Dvaraka, Los Angeles, the day after tomorrow, Saturday, June 13, from 3 to 7:30 p.m.—and then honor the feast in his memory.

Brahmananda Prabhu, please think kindly upon us and keep us close to your lotus feet, that we may engage in everlasting service to our eternal lord and master in the association of all his beloved servants.

Jun 102015

05.31.15_GitaNagariGiriraj Swami read and spoke from Sri Caitanya-caritamrta, Antya-lila, Chapter 8.

“This is an example of how we can serve each other as devotees. We can serve each other physically, emotionally, and spiritually—especially as the devotee approaches the time of death, when everything is more critical. Of course, we never know when we will die, and therefore every moment is important. But when we know that death is approaching, everything is critical, and we can render very special service to devotees at that time. And they can bless us: Every Vaisnava is in a position to give blessings, and certainly, if we serve them in this way, we will get their blessings.”

Srila Madhavendra Puri’s Instructive Departure, Gita Nagari

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