Oct 142018

Twenty-five devotees and friends gathered for kirtan at Giriraj Swami’s ashram in Carpinteria last night. Kuntidevi decorated the altar beautifully.

First Gandhavika Haulkhory and Radhika Bhuckory led kirtan, then Jacob Duran, and then Sarvatma. At the end, Giriraj Swami sang the Nrsimha prayers, told the story of how the conch that Srila Narottama dasa Thakura sent to Vrindavan came to Carpinteria, and read from The Glorious Life of Srila Narottama dasa Thakura, by Sitala Dasi, about the Deity installation by Narottama dasa Thakura and Srinivasa Acharya at the first Gaura-purnima festival, in Kheturi.

The program ended with a feast offered to the Deities.


How Narottama dasa’s conch came to Carpinteria
Kirtan 1 by Sarvatma das
Kirtan 2 by Sarvatma das
Nrsimha Prayers by Giriraj Swami

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Oct 042018

During a preview of Viva Kultura in Gauranga Hall in Houston, the person playing the elderly gentleman who introduced Srimad-Bhagavatam walked down into the audience and presented me the volume: Srimad-Bhagavatam, First Canto, Chapters 1–8.  Somehow I was deeply touched by that act, and I carried the book with me back to my ashram in Carpinteria, where I keep it on my bedside table. (Later, Indradyumna Swami told me that the elderly gentleman was played by Sitala and Hari-sauri’s daughter, Rasarani.)

So, last night, I opened the book randomly, and I was struck by the profound verse and purport that I found:

idam bhagavatam nama
  puranam brahma-sammitam
  cakara bhagavan rsih
nihsreyasaya lokasya
  dhanyam svasty-ayanam mahat

“This scripture named Srimad-Bhagavatam is the literary incarnation of God, and it is compiled by Srila Vyasadeva, the incarnation of God. It is meant for the ultimate good of all people, and it is all-successful, all-blissful, and all-perfect.” (SB 1.3.40)

Purport: “Lord Sri Caitanya Mahaprabhu declared that Srimad-Bhagavatam is the spotless sound representation of all Vedic knowledge and history. Therein are selected histories of great devotees who are in direct contact with the Personality of Godhead. Srimad-Bhagavatam is the literary incarnation of Lord Sri Krsna and is therefore nondifferent from Him. Srimad-Bhagavatam should be worshiped as respectfully as we worship the Lord. Thereby we can derive the ultimate blessings of the Lord through its careful and patient study. As God is all light, all bliss, and all perfection, so also is Srimad-Bhagavatam. We can have all the transcendental light of the Supreme Brahman, Sri Krsna, from the recitation of Srimad-Bhagavatam, provided it is received through the medium of the transparent spiritual master. Lord Caitanya’s private secretary Srila Svarupa Damodara Gosvami advised all intending visitors who came to see the Lord at Puri to make a study of the Bhagavatam from the person Bhagavatam. The person Bhagavatam is the self-realized bona fide spiritual master, and through him only can one understand the lessons of the Bhagavatam in order to receive the desired result. One can derive from the study of the Bhagavatam all benefits that are possible to be derived from the personal presence of the Lord. It carries with it all the transcendental blessings of Lord Sri Krsna that we can expect from His personal contact.”

I pray that I may realize the truths I read in the verse and purport, that “Srimad-Bhagavatam is the literary incarnation of Lord Sri Krsna and is therefore nondifferent from Him” and that “One can derive from the study of the Bhagavatam all benefits that are possible to be derived from the personal presence of the Lord. It carries with it all the transcendental blessings of Lord Sri Krsna that we can expect from His personal contact.”

And I think of Srila Prabhupada’s words shortly before he departed from our vision, as recorded in one of his last purports in Srimad-Bhagavatam (10.13.54):

“We should discuss Srimad-Bhagavatam daily as much as possible, and then everything will be clarified, for Bhagavatam is the essence of all Vedic literature (nigama-kalpa-taror galitam phalam [SB 1.1.3]). It was written by Vyasadeva (maha-muni-krte) when he was self-realized. Thus the more we read Srimad-Bhagavatam, the more its knowledge becomes clear. Each and every verse is transcendental.”

Hare Krishna.

Yours in service,
Giriraj Swami

Oct 012018

To commemorate the anniversary of Srila Prabhupada’s arrival in America, we shall sing and discuss the second poem that he wrote on the ship Jaladuta when he arrived in the Boston harbor on September 17, 1965.

Poem [translation]:

1:  My dear Lord Krishna, You are so kind upon this useless soul, but I do not know why You have brought me here. Now You can do whatever You like with me.

2:  But I guess You have some business here. Otherwise, why would You bring me to such a terrible place?

3:  Most of the population here is covered by the material modes of ignorance and passion. Absorbed in material life, they think themselves very happy and satisfied, and therefore they have no taste for the transcendental message of Vasudeva. I do not know how they will be able to understand it.

4:  But I know Your causeless mercy can make everything possible, because You are the most expert mystic.

5:  How will they understand the mellows of devotional service? O Lord, I am simply praying for Your mercy so that I will be able to convince them about Your message.

6:  All living entities have come under the control of the illusory energy by Your will, and therefore, if You like, by Your will they can also be released from the clutches of illusion. I wish that You may deliver them.

7:  I wish that You may deliver them. Therefore, if You so desire their deliverance, then only will they be able to understand Your message.

8:  The words of Srimad-Bhagavatam are Your incarnation, and if a sober person repeatedly receives them with submissive aural reception, then he will be able to understand Your message.

9:  It is said in Srimad-Bhagavatam (1.2.17-21): ‘Sri Krsna, the Personality of Godhead, who is the Paramatma [Supersoul] in everyone’s heart and the benefactor of the truthful devotee, cleanses the desire for material enjoyment from the heart of the devotee who relishes His messages, which are in themselves virtuous when properly heard and chanted. By regularly hearing the Bhagavatam and rendering service unto the pure devotee, all that is troublesome to the heart is practically destroyed, and loving service unto the glorious Lord, who is praised with transcendental songs, is established as an irrevocable fact. At the time loving service is established in the heart, the modes of passion [rajas] and ignorance [tamas], and lust and desire [kama] disappear from the heart. Then the devotee is established in goodness and he becomes happy. Thus established in the mode of goodness, the man rejuvenated by loving service to the Lord gains liberation from material association [mukti] and comes to know scientifically of the Personality of Godhead. Thus the knot in the heart and all misgivings are cut to pieces. The chain of fruitive actions [karma] is terminated when one sees the self as master.”

10:  He will become liberated from the influence of the modes of ignorance and passion and thus all inauspicious things accumulated in the core of the heart will disappear.

11:  How will I make them understand the message of Krishna consciousness? I am very unfortunate, unqualified, and the most fallen. Therefore I am seeking Your benediction so that I can convince them, for I am powerless to do so on my own.

12:  Somehow or other, O Lord, You have brought me here to speak about You. Now, my Lord, it is up to You to make me a success or failure as You like.

13:  O spiritual master of all the worlds! I can simply repeat Your message, so if You like You can make my power of speaking suitable for their understanding.

14:  Only by Your causeless mercy will my words become pure. I am sure that when this transcendental message penetrates their hearts they will certainly feel engladdened and thus become liberated from all unhappy conditions of life.

15:  O Lord, I am just like a puppet in Your hands. So if You have brought me here to dance, then make me dance, make me dance. O Lord, make me dance as You like.

16:  I have no devotion, nor do I have any knowledge, but I have strong faith in the holy name of Krishna. I have been designated as Bhaktivedanta, and now if You like You can fulfill the real purport of Bhaktivedanta.

Signed—the most unfortunate, insignificant beggar,

A. C. Bhaktivedanta Swami,

on board the ship Jaladuta, Commonwealth Pier,
Boston, Massachusetts, U.S.A.
dated 18th of September, 1965

Sri Prahlada dasa:

I shall read from the introduction to the section in The Science of Self-Realization entitled “Srila Prabhupada Arrives in America”:

“On September 17, 1965, His Divine Grace A. C. Bhaktivedanta Swami Prabhupada arrived in Boston on board the ship Jaladuta, carrying within his heart the orders of his spiritual master to spread the teachings of Sri Chaitanya beyond the borders of India throughout the entire world. As he looked upon Boston’s bleak and dirty skyline, he could understand the difficulty of this sacred mission and felt great compassion for those godless people. Thus, with perfect humility, he composed this historic prayer in Bengali, praying for the deliverance of the fallen souls.”

Verse 1: “My dear Lord Krishna, You are so kind upon this useless soul, but I do not know why You have brought me here. Now You can do whatever You like with me.”

Here, Srila Prabhupada is expressing strong sentiments. First, Krishna is always kind to His devotee. Srila Prabhupada, in his humility, is calling himself a useless soul and asking Krishna, “You are so kind, but if You are so kind, why have You brought me to this place? Obviously, You have some plan.”

It is interesting how Srila Prabhupada sees his coming to America as Krishna bringing him, although he himself made so much endeavor to fulfill the mission of his spiritual master and come to the West, such as cultivating Sumati Morarji to get her to sponsor his journey. He had to convince her; it wasn’t easy. She was reluctant because of Srila Prabhupada’s age and the fact that he didn’t have any friends or relatives in America. So, he had to convince her, but still he is saying to Krishna, “I don’t know why You brought me here.” He is seeing that it was actually Krishna who made the arrangements and who brought him to the United States.

That is how the devotee sees any experience he has in life: he sees it as Krishna’s mercy. It is said that when Gaurakisora dasa Babaji would go about Navadvipa, if he saw a boy who was dark, he would think of him as Krishna, and if he saw a boy who was fair, he would think of him as Gaura. And if one of the boys would touch him, he would say, “Look, Yasoda Mayi, your Gopala has punched me!” or “Look, Saci Mata, your Gaura is making a face at me!” So, he was seeing Krishna everywhere. We might see rascal boys misbehaving and become angry at them and want to correct them, but Gaurakisora dasa Babaji Maharaja’s vision was completely transcendental.

The principle here is to see everything as Krishna’s arrangement. And we also have to try to develop that vision, to see Krishna’s plan in everything, to see Krishna’s arrangement in everything—that we have surrendered to Him and so He is taking care of us. Sometimes we may experience setbacks or disappointments, but actually Krishna has some reason for giving them to us. We should try to understand that, and if we do, we’ll never be disappointed in life. We’ll be always happy in Krishna’s mercy, even in adversity.

Continue reading »

Sep 302018

Below is my offering to Dvarkadhish Prabhu, read at his memorial program tonight in New Dvaraka, Los Angeles, by HH Bhakti Charu Swami Maharaja.

My dear Dvarkadhish Prabhu,

Please accept my humble obeisances. All glories to Srila Prabhupada and his dedicated followers.

I still can hardly believe you are gone. Your smiling face and enthusiastic service were an integral part of our devotional life in Southern California. So many fond memories of our association flood my mind—of our preaching and working together, sometimes until late into the night. And our relationship was further sweetened by the fact that you were made a life member in Bombay, by my dear godbrother Sridhar Swami—though, like many other expatriate Indians, you took fully to Krishna consciousness only in America.

Srila Prabhupada said that when a Vaishnava departs we feel both happy and sad: We feel happy that the Vaishnava has gone to serve Krishna, but we feel sad because we will miss the Vaishnava’s association.

You were fortunate to depart on Srila Bhaktivinoda Thakura’s appearance day, and his words about Srila Haridasa Thakura can also apply to you:

He reasons ill who tells that Vaishnavas die
When thou art living still in sound!
The Vaishnavas die to live, and living try
To spread the holy name around.

Some years ago, you wrote me that you had dreamed about Srila Prabhupada but felt sorry that you had never met him in person: “I also had a dream some time back about Srila Prabhupada. I was offering him one thousand ghee lamps, and his face looked like molten gold, like Lord Chaitanya.

“Maharaja, you are so fortunate to have had personal association with Srila Prabhupada. I still regret that I was unable to meet him, but through devotees like you we are fortunate to hear and know about his pastimes.”

Now your desire to meet Srila Prabhupada will be fulfilled, and under his everlasting guidance, you will serve his eternal lords and masters. And one day, if I am so blessed, I will meet you there.

Dvarkadhish Prabhu, I love you and miss you. But I will try to serve and please you in separation, and in doing so, I expect to feel your presence.

Hare Krishna.

Your eternal servant,
Giriraj Swami

Sep 252018

Giriraj Swami read and spoke on Bhagavad-gita 9.14 during the Sunday Krishna Fest.

“This verse is the summary of the previous verses. The Lord tells Arjuna that those who are purely in Krsna consciousness and do not know anything other than Krsna are called mahatma; yet there are other persons who are not exactly in the position of mahatma but who worship Krsna also, in different ways. Some of them have already been described as the distressed, the financially destitute, the inquisitive, and those who are engaged in the cultivation of knowledge.” (Bhagavad-gita 9.15 purport)

Sep 242018

Srila Prabhupada as a SannyasiToday is Visvarupa-mahotsava, the date on which Lord Chaitanya’s older brother, Visvarupa, took sannyasa, the renounced order of life. And on the same date some four hundred and fifty years later, our own spiritual master, Srila Prabhupada, also accepted sannyasa.

According to Vedic scripture, Lord Chaitanya is Krishna Himself, the Supreme Personality of Godhead, come in the present age in the role of a devotee. In the previous age, Lord Krishna came in His original feature and spoke the Bhagavad-gita, and at the conclusion He instructed, sarva-dharman parityajya mam ekam saranam vraja: give up all other duties and surrender unto Me. But people could not understand or appreciate Lord Krishna’s instruction. So later, about five hundred years ago, the same Krishna came again, not in His original form but in His devotional form as Lord Chaitanya. And Lord Chaitanya taught us how to serve Krishna, how to worship God in the present age.

Lord Chaitanya taught various methods of worship, but He especially emphasized the chanting of the holy names of God, or Krishna. In particular, He quoted a verse from the Brhan-Naradiya Purana (38.126):

harer nama harer nama
harer namaiva kevalam
kalau nasty eva nasty eva
nasty eva gatir anyatha

“One should chant the holy name, chant the holy name, chant the holy name of Hari, Krishna. In this age of Kali, there is no other way, no other way, no other way for spiritual realization.”

He acted like a teacher who shows students how to write the alphabet. The teacher stands in front of the class and writes on the board, “A, B, C, D.” She has no need to practice writing, but she shows by her own example how to form the letters properly. In the same way, God, Krishna, had no need to worship, but to set the example for us, so that we could learn how to worship God in the best way in the present age, He came as Lord Chaitanya and taught and demonstrated the chanting of the holy names.

When Lord Chaitanya appeared, the social and spiritual system called varnasrama-dharma was still prevalent in India. In this system there are four social and four spiritual divisions, all necessary for society to function properly. Although we may not refer to them by the same terms, and although the system has not been developed as systematically and scientifically as in Vedic culture, still, by the arrangement of nature, the divisions still exist. In the Bhagavad-gita Krishna says, catur-varnyam maya srstam guna-karma-vibhagasah: “According to the three modes of material nature and the work associated with them, the four divisions of human society are created by Me.” (Gita 4.13) So, the four social orders, or broad divisions of occupational duties, are created by Krishna. Continue reading »

Sep 242018

Today is Bhadra-purnima. Srimad-Bhagavatam (12.13.13) states, “If on the full moon day of the month of Bhadra one places Srimad-Bhagavatam on a golden throne and gives it as a gift, he will attain the supreme transcendental destination.” As explained in the purport, “One should place Srimad-Bhagavatam on a golden throne because it is the king of all literature. On the full-moon day of the month of Bhadra, the sun, which is compared to this king of literatures, is present in the constellation Leo and looks as if raised up on a royal throne. (According to astrology, the sun is said to be exalted in the sign of Leo). Thus one may unreservedly worship Srimad-Bhagavatam, the supreme divine scripture.”

In Krsna-lila-stava (412–416), Srila Sanatana Gosvami prays, “O Srimad-Bhagavatam, O nectar churned form the ocean of all the Vedic scriptures, O most prominent transcendental fruit of all the Vedas, O You who are enriched with the jewels of all spiritual philosophical conclusions, O you who grant spiritual vision to all the people of the world, O life-breath of the Vaisnava devotees, O Lord, You are the sun which has arisen to dispel the darkness of the Kali-yuga. You are actually Lord Krsna, who has returned among us.

“O Srimad-Bhagavatam, I offer respectful obeisances unto You. By reading You one attains transcendental bliss, for Your syllables rain pure love of God upon the reader. You are always to be served by everyone, for You are an incarnation of Lord Krsna.

“O Srimad-Bhagavatam, O my only friend, O my companion, O my teacher, O my great wealth, O my deliverer, O my good fortune, O my bliss, I offer respectful obeisances unto you.

“O Srimad-Bhagavatam, O giver of saintliness to the unsaintly, O uplifter of the very fallen, please do not ever leave me. Please become manifested upon my heart and my throat, accompanied by pure love of Krsna.”

Bhadra-purnima is also the date on which Srila Prabhupada took sannyasa. When asked, “Are you going to America?” he replied, “No, Srimad-Bhagavatam is going to America—I am going with it.”

Sri Bhadra-purnima ki jaya!
ki jaya!
Srila Prabhupada ki jaya!

Sep 242018

Today is the disappearance day of Namacarya Srila Haridasa Thakura, so we shall read from Sri Caitanya-caritamrta, Antya-lila, Chapter Eleven, “The Passing of Haridasa Thakura”:

“The summary of this chapter is given by Srila Bhaktivinoda Thakura in his Amrta-pravaha-bhasya as follows. In this chapter it is described how Brahma Haridasa Thakura gave up his body with the consent of Sri Caitanya Mahaprabhu, and how the Lord Himself personally performed the funeral ceremony and carried the body to the sea. He personally entombed the body, covered it with sand, and erected a platform on the site. After taking a bath in the sea, He personally begged prasada of Jagannatha from shopkeepers and distributed prasada to the assembled devotees.”


namami haridasam tam
  caitanyam tam ca tat-prabhum
samsthitam api yan-murtim
  svanke krtva nanarta yah


Let me offer my respectful obeisances unto Haridasa Thakura and his master, Sri Caitanya Mahaprabhu, who danced with the body of Haridasa Thakura on His lap.


jaya jaya sri-caitanya jaya dayamaya
jayadvaita-priya nityananda-priya jaya

All glories to Lord Sri Caitanya Mahaprabhu, who is very merciful and who is very dear to Advaita Acarya and Lord Nityananda!

jaya srinivasesvara haridasa-natha
jaya gadadhara-priya svarupa-prana-natha

All glories to the master of Srinivasa Thakura! All glories to the master of Haridasa Thakura! All glories to the dear master of Gadadhara Pandita! All glories to the master of the life of Svarupa Damodara!

jaya kasi-priya jagadananda-pranesvara
jaya rupa-sanatana-raghunathesvara

All glories to Lord Sri Caitanya, who is very dear to Kasi Misra! He is the Lord of the life of Jagadananda and the Lord of Rupa Gosvami, Sanatana Gosvami, and Raghunatha dasa Gosvami.

jaya gaura-deha krsna svayam bhagavan
krpa kari’ deha’ prabhu, nija-pada-dana

All glories to the transcendental form of Sri Caitanya Mahaprabhu, who is Krsna Himself, the Supreme Personality of Godhead! My dear Lord, kindly give me shelter at Your lotus feet by Your causeless mercy.

jaya nityananda-candra jaya caitanyera prana
tomara caranaravinde bhakti deha’ dana

All glories to Lord Nityananda, who is the life and soul of Sri Caitanya Mahaprabhu! My dear Lord, kindly give me engagement in devotional service at Your lotus feet.

jaya jayadvaita-candra caitanyera arya
sva-carane bhakti deha’ jayadvaitacarya

All glories to Advaita Acarya, who is treated by Sri Caitanya Mahaprabhu as superior due to His age and respectability! Please give me engagement in devotional service at Your lotus feet.

jaya gaura-bhakta-gana,—gaura yanra prana
saba bhakta mili’ more bhakti deha’ dana

All glories to all the devotees of Sri Caitanya Mahaprabhu, for the Lord is their life and soul! All of you, kindly bestow devotional service upon me.

jaya rupa, sanatana, jiva, raghunatha
raghunatha, gopala,—chaya mora natha

All glories to Rupa Gosvami, Sanatana Gosvami, Jiva Gosvami, Raghunatha dasa Gosvami, Raghunatha Bhatta Gosvami, and Gopala Bhatta Gosvami, the Six Gosvamis of Vrndavana! They are all my masters.

COMMENT by Giriraj Swami

Srila Krsnadasa Kaviraja Gosvami is reciting the names of Lord Chaitanya and His associates—both His expansions and His servants. Just by reciting the names of the devotees, one becomes purified and enlivened in devotional service.

Once, in 1969, hooligans attacked the Boston temple in the middle of the night. They broke in the front door and with chains and knives and sticks they started to beat the devotees. Eventually we managed to call the police. Although the hooligans tried to run away, the police caught some of them, and ultimately the matter went to court.

In the temple at that time was a very nice, simple, humble devotee named Nanda-kisora Prabhu. Nanda-kisora had never been in court before and had hardly ever spoken in public, so he was bashful. The lawyer for the hooligans tried to make the case that we were followers of some weird cult. He was extremely aggressive, and Nanda-kisora didn’t really know what to say or do. The lawyer began by asking, “Who was present on the night of the crime? Who was sleeping with you in the temple?” So Nanda-kisora started to list the names of the devotees. He said, “Satsvarupa was there, Murari was there, Madan Mohan was there . . .” and by reciting the names of the devotees, which were also names of the Lord, all of his apprehensions and fears and hesitation went away and he became completely enlivened and ready to speak. The lawyer for the hooligans tried to bewilder Nanda-kisora, and he began with the definition of Krishna from some dictionary or book, that Krishna was “the Hindu god of love and fertility.” After Nanda-kisora had chanted the names of the devotees, he felt quite empowered. So he said to the judge, “Your Honor, may I quote my authority?” When the judge assented, Nanda-kisora quoted the Brahma-samhita, “Isvarah paramah krsnah sac-cid-ananda vigrahah/ anadir adir govindah sarva-karana-karanam: Krishna who is known as Govinda, is the Supreme Godhead. He has an eternal, blissful, spiritual body. He is the origin of all. He has no other origin, and He is the prime cause of all causes.” And in the end, we won the case.

Here Srila Krsnadasa Kaviraja Gosvami does the same thing. He recites the names of the devotees in order to invoke auspiciousness and get blessings for the work of narrating the pastimes of Sri Chaitanya Mahaprabhu.

Continue reading »

Sep 232018

Giriraj Swami read and discussed Sri Caitanya-caritamrta, Antya-lila, Chapter 11, “The Passing of Srila Haridasa Thakura,” during the Sunday morning class.

09.23.18, Disappearance Pastime of Srila Haridasa Thakura, CC Antya 11, Dallas

“If one cannot complete the fixed number of rounds he is assigned, he should be considered to be in a diseased condition of spiritual life. Srila Haridasa Thakura is called namacarya. Of course, we cannot imitate Haridasa Thakura, but everyone must chant a prescribed number of rounds. In our Krsna consciousness movement we have fixed sixteen rounds as the minimum so that the Westerners will not feel burdened. These sixteen rounds must be chanted, and chanted loudly, so that one can hear himself and others.” (Caitanya-caritamrta, Antya-lila, 11.23)

The Passing of Srila Haridasa Thakura (Right click to download)

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Sep 232018

Devotees gathered to remember and glorify His Holiness Gunagrahi Das Goswami.
Devotees remembering Gunagrahi Das Goswami
Giriraj Swami remembering Gunagrahi Das Goswami

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