Feb 162019
 

Today is Varaha-dvadasi, Lord Varaha’s appearance day. Srila Prabhupada spoke on this occasion in Los Angeles on February 18, 1970:

“Today is the incarnation day of Lord Krishna’s appearing as the Boar. He lifted the world when it was submerged within the water of Garbhodaka Ocean. The universe which we are seeing is only half. The other half is filled with water, and in that water Garbhodakasayi Vishnu is lying.

“So, one demon, Hiranyaksa, pushed this earthly planet within that water, and Lord Krishna delivered this earthly planet from water in the shape of a boar. So, that auspicious day is today, Varaha-dvadasi. On this day [we] sing,

vasati dasana-sikhare dharani tava lagna
sasini kalanka-kaleva nimagna
kesava dhrta-sukara-rupa jaya jagadisa hare
jaya jagadisa hare, jaya jagadisa hare

‘O Kesava! O Lord of the universe! O Lord Hari, who have assumed the form of a boar! All glories to You! The earth, which had become immersed in the Garbhodaka Ocean at the bottom of the universe, sits fixed upon the tip of Your tusk like a spot upon the moon.’ (Dasavatara-stotra, 3)

“This Varaha, boar, or hog, delivered this earthly planet by the tusk, and He kept the whole world on His tusk. We can just imagine how big He appeared. And the world at that time appeared just like the moon disc with some marks on it. So kesava dhrta-varaha-sarira. The poet says, ‘My dear Lord, You have appeared as the great boar. So let me offer my respectful obeisances unto You.’ ”

May Lord Varaha bless us and uplift us.

Hare Krishna.

Yours in service,
Giriraj Swami

Feb 142019
 

Today, February 14, Saint Valentine’s Day, I was struck when Srila Prabhupada, at the conclusion of his class on Sri Isopanisad, spoke about love—the love that Krishna wants and the love that will satisfy us:

“Any religion, it doesn’t matter whether Hindu religion, Muslim religion, Christian religion—if you are developing love of God, then you are perfect in your religion. . . .

And what kind of love? Ahaituki: without any cause. ‘O Lord, I love You, God, because You supply me so many nice things. You are order-supplier.’ No, not that sort of love. Without any exchange. That is taught by Chaitanya Mahaprabhu, that ‘Whatever You do . . .’ Aslisya va pada-ratam pinastu mam. ‘Either You trample me under Your feet or You embrace me—what You like. You make me brokenhearted by not seeing You—that doesn’t matter. Still You are my worshipable Lord.’ That is love. . . . That sort of love Krishna wants. Therefore He was so much fond of the gopis. In the gopis’ love there was no question of business propaganda: ‘Give me this, then I love You.’ No. That is pure love. . . . If you want to love God, there is nothing throughout the whole world which can check you. Simply you have to develop your eagerness: ‘Krishna, I want You.’ That’s all. Then there is no question of checking. In any condition you’ll increase your love, increase your love. . . . If you can develop your love for God, or Krishna, without being checked, without any cause, then you will feel fully satisfied.”

Hare Krishna.

Yours in service,
Giriraj Swami

Feb 142019
 

Today is the disappearance anniversary of Sripada Ramanujacharya, the principal acharya in the Sri, or Lakshmi, sampradaya. Srila Prabhupada wrote that “We find great shelter at the lotus feet of Sri Ramanujacharya because his lotus feet are the strongest fort to combat the Mayavadi philosophy.” (letter 22.11.1974) And in the early days of ISKCON in India, before we had Srila Prabhupada’s Bhagavad-gita As It Is translated into Hindi, he would refer people to read the Hindi edition of the Gita with Sri Ramanujacharya’s commentary.

Prabhupada often told a story about Sri Ramanujacharya’s merciful, compassionate nature. As he related it in Ahmedabad in 1972, “The servants of Krishna take all risk for Krishna’s sake. Just like Ramanujacharya. Sri Ramanujacharya’s spiritual master said, ‘My dear son, the mantra which I am giving, you chant silently and you will be delivered. It is so powerful. Don’t chant this mantra loudly so others can hear.’

“Ramanujacharya thought, ‘If this mantra is so powerful that if others hear it they’ll also be delivered, then why not?’ He immediately went to the market and began to chant the mantra. So, his spiritual master became very angry, that ‘I told you not to chant loudly, so others may not hear.’ And Ramanujacharya replied, ‘My Lordship, I have done offense unto you. That’s all right. For this I am prepared to go to hell. But if this mantra is so powerful, I must speak it to everyone.’ ”

In this mood, following in the footsteps of Sripada Ramanujacharya, Srila Prabhupada broadcast the Hare Krishna maha-mantra and the teachings of the Bhagavad-gita everywhere, to everyone.

We pray and aspire to follow in their footsteps.

Hare Krishna.

Yours in service,
Giriraj Swami

Feb 102019
 

To honor Sri Advaita Acharya’s  appearance day, we present Srila Prabhupada’s talk about him in Mayapur on April 6, 1975.

advaitam harinadvaitad
  acaryam bhakti-samsanat
bhaktavataram isam tam
  advaita acaryam asraye

“Because He is nondifferent from Hari, the Supreme Lord, He is called Advaita, and because He propagates the cult of devotion, He is called Acarya. He is the Lord and the incarnation of the Lord’s devotee. Therefore I take shelter of Him.” (Cc Adi 1.13)

So, gradually the author is offering respect: sri-krsna-caitanya prabhu-nityananda sri-advaita. He has already offered respect to Lord Chaitanya and Lord Nityananda. Now it is the turn for Sri Advaita Acharya. Advaitam: “nondifferent”—He is expansion of Maha-vishnu. He is visnu-tattva. He is not jiva-tattva. Therefore He is Advaita. Advaitam acyutam anadim ananta-rupam. Krishna has got unlimited number of expansions—expansions, expansions of the expansions, and then expansions of those expansions, in this way. So Advaita Acharya is an expansion of Krishna, as already explained. Therefore He is called advaitam.

And acaryam bhakti-samsanat. This is the business of acharya: to spread the bhakti cult. Acaryam mam vijaniyan navamanyeta karhicit. It is said by the Lord, “You should accept the acharya.” Acharya means one who transmits the bhakti cult. Bhakti-samsanat, spreading—gosthy-anandi. One who is not spreading—he is cultivating Krishna consciousness for his personal benefit in a secluded place, sitting and chanting—that is also nice, but he’s not acharya. Acharya means he must spread—gosthy-anandi. Bhajananandi, gosthy-anandi. Generally, gosthy-anandi means one who wants to increase the number of devotees. He’s called gosthy-anandi. And one who is self-satisfied, that “Let me do my own duty,” he is called bhajananandi.

My guru maharaja, Bhaktisiddhanta Sarasvati Thakura, was a gosthy-anandi; he wanted to increase the number of devotees. And the more you increase the number of devotees, the more you become recognized by Krishna. It is Krishna’s business. Krishna personally comes as He is to spread this bhakti cult. Man-mana bhava mad-bhakto mad-yaji mam namaskuru. Sarva-dharman parityajya mam ekam saranam vraja. He’s canvassing personally.

paritranaya sadhunam
  vinasaya ca duskrtam
dharma-samsthapanarthaya
  sambhavami yuge yuge

“To deliver the pious and to annihilate the miscreants, as well as to reestablish the principles of religion, I Myself appear, millennium after millennium.” (Gita 4.8)

So, the same thing is entrusted to another devotee, who spreads—he’s acharya. So Krishna says, the acharya . . . Here it is said, advaitam harinadvaitad. Of course, Advaita Acharya is expansion of visnu-tattva, but any acharya is to be considered identical with the Lord. The Lord says that: acaryam mam vijaniyan—“One should understand the acharya.” Acaryam bhakti-samsanat. Acharya means one who is spreading the pure bhakti cult. “That acharya,” Krishna says, “you should consider as Myself.”

acaryam mam vijaniyan
  navamanyeta karhicit
na martya-buddhyasuyeta
  sarva-deva-mayo guruh

“One should know the acarya as Myself and never disrespect him in any way. One should not envy him, thinking him an ordinary man, for he is the representative of all the demigods.” (SB 11.17.27, Cc Adi 1.46).

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Jan 282019
 

Giriraj Swami and Rtadhvaja Swami answered questions during the Sunday program, after the former read Bhagavad-gita 8.5 and 6.

“In this verse the importance of Krsna consciousness is stressed. Anyone who quits his body in Krsna consciousness is at once transferred to the transcendental nature of the Supreme Lord. The Supreme Lord is the purest of the pure. Therefore anyone who is constantly Krsna conscious is also the purest of the pure. The word smaran (‘remembering’) is important. Remembrance of Krsna is not possible for the impure soul who has not practiced Krsna consciousness in devotional service. Therefore one should practice Krsna consciousness from the very beginning of life. If one wants to achieve success at the end of his life, the process of remembering Krsna is essential. Therefore one should constantly, incessantly chant the maha-mantra—Hare Krsna, Hare Krsna, Krsna Krsna, Hare Hare/ Hare Rama, Hare Rama, Rama Rama, Hare Hare.” —Bhagavad-gita 8.5 purport

Life’s Final Exam, Giriraj Swami and Rtadhvaja Swami

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Jan 252019
 

For Gopala Bhatta Gosvami’s appearance day I thought to read a verse and purport about him from Sri Caitanya-caritamrta, Adi-lila, Chapter Ten, “The Branches of the Caitanya Tree”:

TEXT 105

sri gopala bhatta eka sakha sarvottama
rupa-sanatana-sange yanra prema-alapana

TRANSLATION

Sri Gopala Bhatta Gosvami, the forty-seventh branch, was one of the great and exalted branches of the tree. He always engaged in discourses about love of Godhead in the company of Rupa Gosvami and Sanatana Gosvami.

PURPORT by Srila Prabhupada

Sri Gopala Gosvami was the son of Venkata Bhatta, a resident of Sri Rangam. Gopala Bhatta formerly belonged to the disciplic succession of the Ramanuja-sampradaya but later became part of the Gaudiya-sampradaya. In the year 1433 Sakabda (A.D. 1511), when Lord Caitanya Mahaprabhu was touring South India, He stayed for four months during the period of Caturmasya at the house of Venkata Bhatta, who then got the opportunity to serve the Lord to his heart’s content. Gopala Bhatta also got the opportunity to serve the Lord at this time. Sri Gopala Bhatta Gosvami was later initiated by his uncle, the great sannyasi Prabodhananda Sarasvati. Both the father and the mother of Gopala Bhatta Gosvami were extremely fortunate, for they dedicated their entire lives to the service of Lord Caitanya Mahaprabhu. They allowed Gopala Bhatta Gosvami to go to Vrndavana, and they gave up their lives thinking of Sri Caitanya Mahaprabhu. When Lord Caitanya was later informed that Gopala Bhatta Gosvami had gone to Vrndavana and met Sri Rupa and Sanatana Gosvami, He was very pleased, and He advised Sri Rupa and Sanatana to accept Gopala Bhatta Gosvami as their younger brother and take care of him. Sri Sanatana Gosvami, out of his great affection for Gopala Bhatta Gosvami, compiled the Vaisnava smrti named Hari-bhakti-vilasa and published it under his name. Under the instruction of Srila Rupa and Sanatana, Gopala Bhatta Gosvami installed one of the seven principal deities of Vrndavana, the Radha-ramana deity. The sevaits (priests) of the Radha-ramana temple belong to the Gaudiya-sampradaya.

COMMENT

Actually, one of the families entrusted with the Deity service at the Radha-ramana Mandir has a history of relations with the line of Srila Bhaktivinoda Thakura and Srila Bhaktisiddhanta Sarasvati. Visvambhara Gosvami’s father or grandfather had relations with Srila Bhaktivinoda Thakura, the family maintained relations with Srila Bhaktisiddhanta Sarasvati Thakura, and then Visvambhara Gosvami had very friendly relations with Srila Prabhupada. And he spoke very nicely about Srila Prabhupada. Now Visvambhara Gosvami’s son Padmanabha Gosvami is also very favorable to ISKCON. In fact, ISKCON devotees often honor prasada at his home at the Radha-ramana Mandir. I also took prasada there with His Holiness Tamal Krishna Goswami, and Padmanabha Gosvami showed us a letter that Srila Prabhupada had written to his father, Visvambhara Gosvami, about how all Vaishnavas should cooperate. So, not only does the Radha-ramana temple belong to the Gaudiya-sampradaya, but at least some of the sevaits have had close relations with the line of Srila Bhaktivinoda Thakura.

PURPORT (concluded)

When Krsnadasa Kaviraja Gosvami took permission from all the Vaisnavas before writing Sri Caitanya-caritamrta, Gopala Bhatta Gosvami also gave him his blessings, but he requested him not to mention his name in the book. Therefore Krsnadasa Kaviraja Gosvami has mentioned Gopala Bhatta Gosvami only very cautiously in one or two passages of the Caitanya-caritamrta. Srila Jiva Gosvami has written in the beginning of his Tattva-sandarbha, “A devotee from southern India who was born of a brahmana family and was a very intimate friend of Rupa Gosvami and Sanatana Gosvami has written a book that he has not compiled chronologically. Therefore I, a tiny living entity known as jiva, am trying to assort the events of the book chronologically, consulting the direction of great personalities like Madhvacarya, Sridhara Svami, Ramanujacarya, and other senior Vaisnavas in the disciplic succession.” In the beginning of the Bhagavat-sandarbha there are similar statements by Srila Jiva Gosvami. Srila Gopala Bhatta Gosvami compiled a book called Sat-kriya-sara-dipika, edited the Hari-bhakti-vilasa, wrote a foreword to the Sat-sandarbha and a commentary on the Krsna-karnamrta, and installed the Radharamana Deity in Vrndavana. In the Gaura-ganoddesa-dipika (184) it is mentioned that his previous name in the pastimes of Lord Krsna was Ananga-manjari. Sometimes he is also said to have been an incarnation of Guna-manjari. Srinivasa Acarya and Gopinatha Pujari were two of his disciples.

COMMENT

Srila Gopala Bhatta Gosvami ki jaya!

One story about Gopala Bhatta Gosvami is that on the eve of Nrsimha-caturdasi all the other Gosvamis and Vaishnavas in Vrindavan were preparing to worship their Deities and hold festivals. Gopala Bhatta Gosvami had only a salagrama-sila; he didn’t have a Deity with arms and legs and a body that he could dress and decorate. So, he was feeling deprived of the opportunity to serve like the other devotees who had Deities they could serve in these ways. And out of Gopala Bhatta Gosvami’s strong desire, a salagrama-sila became manifest in the form of Radha-ramana. Radha-ramana is considered the most beautiful Deity of Krishna. He is the one original Deity of the Gosvamis that has remained in Vrindavan, while the others had to be taken elsewhere for fear of the Muslim invaders. And near the temple of Radha-ramana in Vrindavan is the samadhi of Sri Gopala Bhatta Gosvami.

Gopala Bhatta Gosvami’s uncle and siksa-guru was Prabodhananda Sarasvati. His samadhi is also located in Vrindavan, just off the parikrama path near Kaliya-ghata, which is quite near our Krishna-Balaram Mandir. So, often when we go on parikrama down the path near the Yamuna, we visit Prabodhananda Sarasvati’s samadhi and bhajana-kutira. And then we proceed to Srila Sanatana Gosvami’s samadhi. Srila Sanatana Gosvami was the most senior of the Gosvamis and was also a close associate and instructor of Gopala Bhatta Gosvami. In fact, Gopala Bhatta Gosvami worked with Sanatana Gosvami to produce the great treatise Hari-bhakti-vilasa.

I feel that Gopala Bhatta Gosvami has been especially merciful to me on two occasions. On one, I visited his bhajana-kutira at Sanketa, a place between Nandagrama and Varsana where Radha and Krishna used to meet and sometimes perform rasa-lila. Gopala Bhatta would sit and chant underground in a deep cavern, accessible only through a long, narrow passage. At the end of the passage was a somewhat roomier place where Gopala Bhatta used to chant, now marked as his bhajana-sthala. I remember going there with Tamal Krishna Goswami and others on a very hot day and struggling to crawl through the passage to the bhajana-sthala. It was very difficult, but when I finally reached there, Gopala Bhatta Gosvami was very merciful. He allowed me to chant with a glimpse of taste. And after all the devotees emerged from the cavern, I stole back in. I crawled back to Gopala Bhatta’s lotus feet, and I sat there chanting. I will never forget his mercy to me there, and I pray that he will enable me to chant with relish and love.

On the other occasion, the last time I visited Vrindavan, in Kartik of 1999, shortly before my surgery, I visited Gopala Bhatta’s samadhi near the Radha-ramana Mandir. We arrived just after raja-bhoga–arati, and the pujari was closing the doors to the samadhi-mandira. But he was kind enough to open the doors for us, to allow us darshan of Gopala Bhatta Gosvami. He gave us some flowers and caranamrta, and invited us to stay for prasada. Thus our small party, along with some local sadhus, honored Gopala Bhatta Prabhu’s maha–maha-prasadam with great relish, and we even stayed to take a little rest before, filled with bliss, we continued on our way. So, Gopal Bhatta Gosvami is very kind.

Years later, when some of my disciples from Bombay went to Vrindavan on pilgrimage, they visited the samadhi. They told the pujaris about me, how my health no longer allowed me to visit Vraja, and asked for some prasada for me. And one of the pujaris kindly gave them a piece of cloth from the samadhi. It is very special. Now, twice a year, once on his appearance day and once on his disappearance day, we bring it out and touch it. So now we shall pass it around and touch it to our heads and to our hearts—and pray to Gopala Bhatta Gosvami for his sublime mercy.

Thank you.

Hare Krishna.

[A talk by Giriraj Swami on Srila Gopala Bhatta Gosvami’s appearance day, July 31, 2002, Carpinteria, California]

Jan 222019
 

Giriraj Swami gave the keynote address, on “Life’s Final Exam: Death and Dying from the Vedic Perspective”, at the Bhaktivedanta Medical Retreat in Houston.

Death and Dying From the Vedic Perspective – Keynote Address

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