Mar 282017

Today God is great, good, and beautifulI had a simple but profound realization: God is great, and God is good. If he were good but not great, He could not help us fully. And if He were great but not good, He could harm us. But He is great, and He is good, and He is always mindful of all the infinite living entities. These thoughts brought to mind a verse Srila Prabhupada often quoted from the Katha Upanishad (2.2.13):

nityo nityanam cetanas cetananam
eko bahunam yo vidadhati kaman

“He is the prime eternal among all eternals. He is the supreme conscious being among all conscious beings. And He alone is supplying all the desired necessities of life for the many other living beings.”

I had heard these words before, but today they came to life. Now I pray to always remember the good, great Supreme Godhead and serve Him with gratitude and appreciation. As the same verse in the Katha Upanishad continues,

tam pitha-gam ye ’nupasyanti dhiras
tesam santih sasvati netaresam

“The wise souls who worship Him in His abode attain everlasting peace. Others cannot.”

Hare Krishna.

—Giriraj Swami

Mar 272017

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Mar 232017

TodaPrabhupada speaking and smilingy being Ekadasi, I was considering whether or not to go out on an errand, and I recalled an incident that took place on Ekadasi in Madras in 1971. Achyutananda, Bhavananda, and I were based in a supporter’s house, and Bhavananda and I were in the mood to go out and preach. Achyutananda, however, said, “No, it’s Ekadasi. We shouldn’t go out. It’s inauspicious. And besides, it looks like rain.” But we thought, “Oh boy, he is so attached to external rules and regulations. We have the real spirit of preaching. We are not going to worry about Ekadasi or some rain.”

When we went out, there was only a light drizzle, but within minutes the sky poured down rain. And the rain didn’t stop; it came down heavier and heavier. In Madras then, at least where we were walking, there was not much of a drainage system—just an open ditch two or three feet deep, lined with concrete. And as the storm continued, the channel filled with water, and soon we couldn’t distinguish between the water on the street, the water in the ditch, and the water in the fields beyond.

So, we were walking along blissfully, drenched in water but inspired in our mission, in our service to our guru maharaja, and then Bhavananda fell into the ditch. He was in water up to his waist. So, I gave him a hand, and he climbed out of the ditch, soaked with sewage water.

Later, I related the incident to Srila Prabhupada, declaring that Bhavananda Prabhu had equal vision: he didn’t distinguish between high and low. And I quoted the verse from the Bhagavad-gita (5.18),

brahmane gavi hastini
suni caiva sva-pake ca
panditah sama-darsinah

“The humble sages, by virtue of true knowledge, see with equal vision a learned and gentle brahmana, a cow, an elephant, a dog, and a dog-eater [outcaste].”

“Yes,” Prabhupada replied. “You have theoretical knowledge. But Bhavananda has realized knowledge, practical realization, so he is more advanced.”

Hare Krishna.

—Giriraj Swami

Mar 212017

03.18.17_02.LagunaGRS_SDS“One day Sridhar Swami and I decided to do Govardhana parikrama together. I was feeling pretty sick, but I didn’t want to disappoint him by stopping. He was also feeling sick, and he was thinking, ‘I don’t want to disappoint Giriraj Maharaja by stopping,’ so he also kept pushing on. Pretty soon thereafter we were both in the hospital—he for his liver problem, and I for a heart condition. While he was in the hospital in Bombay, Tamal Krishna Goswami, Kesava Bharati Maharaja, and Giridhari Swami came from Vrindavan to visit him. Having cirrhosis of the liver and cancer, he was considered a terminal patient. They advised him that he should just go to Vrindavan and chant and hear about Krishna. Much as he appreciated their visit and respected them as senior godbrothers, he thought about it and concluded, ‘That’s not me. I want to live the way I am.’ So he kept traveling and preaching, practically to the very end.”

Sridhar Swami

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Mar 202017

A few dNiranjana Swami and Sridhar Swamiays ago, Niranjana Swami wrote me a letter in which he said, “I meditate a lot on Sridhar Maharaja. I miss him.” And when I asked him to tell me more about his meditation, he replied, “I honestly can’t fully explain it. He became so unbelievably dear to me in Mayapur—the way he loved his godbrothers, the way he loved me.

“One of my often-remembered meditations of him is the time I sent a message to him one evening just after the GBC meeting had finished for the day. I usually came to his room to chant with him and the other devotees in the evening, after the meeting. This particular evening, however, I had a terrible headache and sent him a message, apologizing for not coming, due to the headache. While walking back to my room, I began thinking, ‘Here I am, not going to tonight’s kirtan because of some headache, and there’s Sridhar Maharaja, whose condition can’t even be remotely compared to my little headache, lying in his bed, having kirtan with the devotees!’ So I decided to turn around and go back.

“When I arrived at the door of his room, his room was, as usual, packed with devotees chanting. Sridhar Maharaja looked up at me, sat up in bed, and gestured for me to come through the crowd of devotees to sit next to him on the bed. The devotees parted to allow me through, I sat on the bed, and he turned to Mayapur das, his personal servant, and said, ‘Give me the Tiger Balm.’ Then he sat there, using the Tiger Balm to massage my head. I can’t remember exactly how long he massaged, but it wasn’t just a gesture; he massaged vigorously for quite some time.

“I cry every time I think about this, as I am crying right now as I am typing this. Practically speaking, I cry every time I think or talk about Sridhar Maharaja. He seemed so selflessly a friend to me, and I felt so undeserving.”

—Giriraj Swami


Mar 202017

SDHS GRS CarpinteriaToday is the disappearance anniversary of His Holiness Sridhar Swami Maharaja, Srila Prabhupada’s staunch disciple and our dear godbrother. As I wrote in Many Moons, “Three days after Sridhar Maharaja left, while on my daily walk, in Santa Barbara, I suddenly began to feel blissful, and I felt Maharaja’s presence. Then I imagined that he gave me two instructions. The first was ‘I am still here. Be happy.’ And the second was ‘Just be yourself. Each one of us has his own contribution to make, so just be yourself and make your contribution.’ And then he left.

“After he left, I considered what had happened. Clearly, his two instructions were meant not only for me. They were meant for everyone. And his instructions covered all points. Especially his last statement had said it all: ‘Just be yourself and make your contribution.’

“Thank you, Maharaja. We love you.”

Hare Krishna.

Your aspiring servant,
Giriraj Swami

Mar 132017

Sri Caitanya-caritamrta states, “Sri Caitanya Mahaprabhu is the most benevolent personality in human society because His only desire is to make people happy. His sankirtana movement is especially meant for the purpose of making people happy.” (Adi 9.45 p)

And Srila Prabhupada said of himself, “I have started this Krishna consciousness movement in this country, America, to make people happy: happy in this life, happy in next life. . . . So we are making little our teeny effort, how to make people happy. Our only business is to make people happy. We have no other desire.”

Sri Caitanya Mahaprabhu’s mercy and mission have come to us through Srila Prabhupada, through parampara. So we should be happy, and we should make others happy, following in their line, by their grace.

Hare Krishna.

Yours in service,
Giriraj Swami

Mahaprabhu's SankirtanaPrabhupada's Sankirtana

Mar 122017

Gaura_Purnima_Houston_2013“We hold onto our material attachments because we don’t have faith in Krishna; we don’t have faith in the holy name. First, we doubt whether Krishna actually exists — whether He’s really a person. And then we doubt whether he will really save us. If I am falling, will Krishna catch me? And if we don’t have faith that Krishna will catch us, we will think we have to make so many material arrangements to protect, or support, ourselves. And ye yatha mam prapadyante — as we surrender to Krishna, He reciprocates. If Krishna sees, ‘Oh, this person is making his own arrangements; he thinks he doesn’t need me. All right, you are making your own arrangements — you take care of yourself.’ If someone really depends on Krishna, he can experience Krishna’s intervention. We will never experience Krishna’s intervention unless we take that chance — that risk — and depend on Him. Then we can actually experience it.”

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