Aug 162018

In 1976, on August 15, Indian Independence Day, some of the tenants assembled in the garden at noon, stood in silence for a minute before the small statue of Gandhi, and then proceeded with their annual celebration—hoisting an Indian flag, garlanding the statue, singing the national anthem, and distributing sweets.

“Where is the question of independence?” Prabhupada challenged as Hari-sauri gave him his massage on the balcony adjoining his bedroom. “We are all dependent at every step on Krishna’s mercy. The Indians struggled to become independent of the British, but who is independent of the laws of material nature?”

Prabhupada cited the ongoing drought in England, which was afflicting so many people: the vegetation was drying up, animals were being killed prematurely because there was no fodder, factories in Wales were closing, and there was talk of importing water. “No one can do anything about it, and they think it is all happening by chance,” Prabhupada said. “There is not a single person in the whole world who actually knows anything.”

“No one except you, Srila Prabhupada,” Hari-sauri commented.

“Is that just flattery, or do you actually acknowledge that?” Prabhupada asked, smiling.

Hari-sauri assured him that it was not just empty praise and, as he related in his diary, “Prabhupada accepted it with pleasure as a heartfelt submission.”

Hare Krishna.

Yours in service,
Giriraj Swami

Aug 142018

When I arrived at my chiropractor’s yesterday, all the tables were taken, so I took a copy of the Bhagavad-gita As It Is from his bookshelf, opened it, and received just the instruction I needed: yadrccha-labha-santustah—one who is satisfied with gain that comes of its own accord, dvandvatitah—who has surpassed duality, vimatsarah—who is free from envy, samah siddhav asiddhau—who is steady in both success and failure, krtvapi na nibadhyate—is never affected or entangled by performing actions. I then read the preceding verse (4.21) and the subsequent one (4.23), and they were also instructive. And I thought, I should really study the Bhagavad-gita and live my life accordingly.

Hare Krishna.

Yours in service,
Giriraj Swami


Aug 112018

We read from Sri Caitanya-caritamrta, Adi-lila, Chapter One: “The Spiritual Masters.”


sadhavo hrdayam mahyam
  sadhunam hrdayam tv aham
mad-anyat te na jananti
  naham tebhyo manag api


sadhavah—the saints; hrdayam—heart; mahyam—My; sadhunam—of the saints; hrdayam—the heart; tu—indeed; aham—I; mat—than Me; anyat—other; te—they; na—not; jananti—know; na—nor; aham—I; tebhyah—than them; manak—slightly; api—even.


“Saints are My heart, and only I am their hearts. They do not know anyone but Me, and therefore I do not recognize anyone besides them as Mine.”

PURPORT by Srila Prabhupada

This verse appears in Srimad-Bhagavatam (9.4.68) in connection with a misunderstanding between Durvasa Muni and Maharaja Ambarisa. As a result of this misunderstanding, Durvasa Muni tried to kill the king, when the Sudarsana cakra, the celebrated weapon of Godhead, appeared on the scene for the devoted king’s protection. When the Sudarsana cakra attacked Durvasa Muni, he fled in fear of the weapon and sought shelter from all the great demigods in heaven. Not one of them was able to protect him, and therefore Durvasa Muni prayed to Lord Visnu for forgiveness. Lord Visnu advised him, however, that if he wanted forgiveness he had to get it from Maharaja Ambarisa, not from Him. In this context Lord Visnu spoke this verse.

The Lord, being full and free from problems, can wholeheartedly care for His devotees. His concern is how to elevate and protect all those who have taken shelter at His feet. The same responsibility is also entrusted to the spiritual master. The bona fide spiritual master’s concern is how the devotees who have surrendered to him as a representative of the Lord may make progress in devotional service. The Supreme Personality of Godhead is always mindful of the devotees who fully engage in cultivating knowledge of Him, having taken shelter at His lotus feet.

COMMENT by Giriraj Swami

This verse is placed by Srila Krsnadasa Kaviraja Gosvami in the first chapter of Sri Caitanya-caritamrta, which discusses guru-tattva, the truth about the spiritual master. First and foremost, the spiritual master must be a devotee of the Lord, and Krsnadasa Kaviraja Gosvami describes different characteristics of devotees. In the current series of verses, he discusses the Lord’s presence in the devotee’s heart. The devotee receives inspiration from the Lord within the heart, and thus the devotee should be identified with the Lord.

In the present verse, Lord Vishnu describes the beautiful reciprocation between the Lord and His devotees. In essence, the devotees know nothing but the Lord, and the Lord knows no one but His devotees. The Lord dwells in the hearts of His devotees, and His devotees remain in the core of His heart. As Lord Krishna says in the Bhagavad-gita (9.29),

samo ’ham sarva-bhutesu
  na me dvesyo ’sti na priyah
ye bhajanti tu mam bhaktya
  mayi te tesu capy aham

“I am equal to all living beings. I do not envy anyone, nor am I partial to anyone. But those who render service unto Me in devotion are in Me, and I am in them.”

When I came before Sri Sri Radha-Gokulananda this morning, I thought of Srila Prabhupada, how he came here and installed the Deities. There are many wonderful pictures and even live footage of him offering arati and dancing in kirtan before the Deities. And I thought of how Prabhupada endeavored ceaselessly to preach the message of Sri Krishna Chaitanya and to give facility to devotees to progress in Krishna consciousness. He voyaged alone by steamship, arriving in America at the age of seventy, not knowing anyone. On the order of his spiritual master, between the ages of seventy and eighty-two he preached and spread Krishna consciousness and created so many facilities for the devotees, like Bhaktivedanta Manor, all over the world. I thought, “What selfless service. What surrender. What dependence on the Lord. How much the Lord must love Srila Prabhupada.”

Then I thought of myself: “Now I am sixty-two. Who knows what condition I’ll be in when I am seventy, the age at which Srila Prabhupada arrived in America. And I have so many people to help me. By Srila Prabhupada’s grace, there are devotees practically everywhere I go. I have people to travel with me and to help me with my luggage. And I go by plane. I don’t go by steamship, by cargo carrier. Yet even then, it is so hard to travel—really hard.

“And Srila Prabhupada had no one. Externally, he was all alone. He began at the age of seventy—he traveled by steamship, cargo carrier—and he served the Lord in the best way by preaching the message of Krishna and making devotees, caring for them, protecting them, encouraging them, and giving them every facility to progress in Krishna consciousness. What deep love for the conditioned souls, for his spiritual master, and for Krishna resided in Srila Prabhupada’s heart! And reciprocally, what love for Srila Prabhupada resided in Krishna’s heart!”

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Aug 072018

Question: “Can we pray for something that would be favorable for our service?”

Giriraj Swami: “Suppose I don’t have a car to get to the temple. Can I pray to Krishna to give me a car so I can go to the temple? In the Bhagavad-gita (7.26) Krishna says, ‘O Arjuna, as the Supreme Personality of Godhead, I know everything that has happened in the past, all that is happening in the present, and all things that are yet to come. I also know all living entities; but Me no one knows.’ He knows what is best for us, more than we ourselves do. So our prayers should be tempered with that understanding. There is a very nice prayer by Maharaja Prithu in Srimad-Bhagavatam (4.20.31) that I sometimes recommend to devotees: ‘My Lord, due to Your illusory energy, all living beings in this material world have forgotten their real constitutional position, and out of ignorance they are always desirous of material happiness in the form of society, friendship, and love. Therefore, please do not ask me to take some material benefits from You, but as a father, not waiting for the son’s demand, does everything for the benefit of the son, please bestow upon me whatever You think best for me.’ This is a perfect prayer.”

Question-and-answer booth, Ratha-yatra (Right click to download)

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Aug 062018

Yesterday, I invited Rajani-priya (Rose Forkash), almost ninety-eight years old now, to accompany us to the Los Angeles Ratha-yatra.

In the car on the way back to Carpinteria after the festival, she said, “Giriraj—I want to thank you, thank you, thank you so many times for including me in today’s program. I needed it, I wanted it, and you gave it to me, so I must thank you again and again.

“I’m almost a hundred. It hasn’t been easy, but I have had wonderful people in my life—especially Prabhupada, a wonderful man. If I hadn’t lived so long, I wouldn’t have met so many wonderful people.

“I cannot tell you how much I enjoy being in the company of devotees chanting Hare Krishna.

“I am a very fortunate lady. It was an enjoyable, wonderful day, and I will remember it forever.”

At intervals along the way back, Rajani-priya broke into spontaneous singing of Hare Krishna, in Srila Prabhupada’s original melody. In the eleven hours since we had picked her up from her home, her energy and enthusiasm had not waned at all; rather, in her ecstatic mood, they had increased.

Hare Krishna.

Yours in service,
Giriraj Swami

Aug 032018

Yesterday Bhakti Charu Swami Maharaja arrived in Carpinteria to spend some time with me at my ashram. I was much impressed with his plans and initiatives for cow protection (go-raksya) and, of course, as always, with his spiritual purity and Krishna consciousness. And I know that it was only his love for Srila Prabhupada and me that brought him so far to visit.

Today Maharaja continued to enliven and inspire us with his memories and realizations of Srila Prabhupada, ISKCON, and the future of the Krishna consciousness movement. He is truly a loyal disciple, member, and friend.

Hare Krishna.

Your grateful servant,
Giriraj Swami

Jul 312018

Yesterday we were graced by a visit from Kalakantha Prabhu and Bhakta Jeff, from Gainesville. Kalakantha is such a sincere, intelligent, thoughtful, dynamic, compassionate, innovative preacher, I always feel enlightened and encouraged by his annual visits.

As stated in Sri Caitanya-caritamrta (Adi 1.50),

tesam satata-yuktanam
  bhajatam priti-purvakam
dadami buddhi-yogam tam
  yena mam upayanti te

“To those who are constantly devoted to serving Me with love, I give the understanding by which they can come to Me.”

Purport: “This verse of the Bhagavad-gita (10.10) clearly states how Govindadeva instructs His bona fide devotee. The Lord declares that by enlightenment in theistic knowledge He awards attachment for Him to those who constantly engage in His transcendental loving service. This awakening of divine consciousness enthralls a devotee, who thus relishes his eternal transcendental mellow. Such an awakening is awarded only to those convinced by devotional service about the transcendental nature of the Personality of Godhead. They know that the Supreme Truth, the all-spiritual and all-powerful person, is one without a second and has fully transcendental senses. He is the fountainhead of all emanations. Such pure devotees, always merged in knowledge of Krsna and absorbed in Krsna consciousness, exchange thoughts and realizations as great scientists exchange their views and discuss the results of their research in scientific academies. Such exchanges of thoughts in regard to Krsna give pleasure to the Lord, who therefore favors such devotees with all enlightenment.”

Hare Krishna.

Yours in service,
Giriraj Swami

Jul 292018

“The mind is the agent of the false ego, and the false ego doesn’t want to surrender to Krishna. The false ego wants to be the controller, the enjoyer, the proprietor, and the center of everything. The mind will always give us so many reasons why not to surrender or chant Hare Krishna. So, we should not be misled by the mind. With our intelligence or with our hearts we should surrender.”

Talks by other devotees (Right click to download)
Talk by Giriraj Swami (Right click to download)

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Jul 282018

“One must conquer the modes of passion and ignorance by developing the mode of goodness, and then one must become detached from the mode of goodness by promoting oneself to the platform of suddha-sattva. All this can be automatically done if one engages in the service of the spiritual master with faith and devotion. In this way one can conquer the influence of the modes of nature.”

Purport by Srila Prabhupada:

“Just by treating the root cause of an ailment, one can conquer all bodily pains and sufferings. Similarly, if one is devoted and faithful to the spiritual master, he can conquer the influence of sattva-guna, rajo-guna, and tamo-guna very easily. Yogis and jnanis practice in many ways to conquer the senses, but the bhakta immediately attains the mercy of the Supreme Personality of Godhead through the mercy of the spiritual master. Yasya prasadad bhagavat-prasado. If the spiritual master is favorably inclined, one naturally receives the mercy of the Supreme Lord, and by the mercy of the Supreme Lord one immediately becomes transcendental, conquering all the influences of sattva-guna, rajo-guna, and tamo-guna within this material world. This is confirmed in Bhagavad-gita (sa gunan samatityaitan brahma-bhuyaya kalpate). If one is a pure devotee acting under the directions of the guru, one easily gets the mercy of the Supreme Lord and thus becomes immediately situated on the transcendental platform. This is explained in the next verse.” —Srimad-Bhagavatam 7.15.25

Guru-purnima talk (Right click to download)

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Jul 262018

Giriraj Swami and Kalachandji dasa shared their memories of His Holiness Tamal Krishna Goswami Maharaja.
Kalachandji dasa (Right click to download)
Giriraj Swami (Right click to download)

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