Jan 172020
 

Giriraj Swami spoke on Bhagavad-gita 3.10. “By performance of yajna, the conditioned souls gradually become Krsna conscious and become godly in all respects. In the Age of Kali, the sankirtana-yajna (the chanting of the names of God) is recommended by the Vedic scriptures, and this transcendental system was introduced by Lord Caitanya for the deliverance of all men in this age. Sankirtana-yajna and Krsna consciousness go well together.” (Gita 3.10 purport)

Audio
Bhagavad-gita 3.10 (Right click to download)

Posted by Giriraj Swami on Thursday, January 16, 2020

Jan 152020
 

Today, Makara-sankranti, is the forty-second anniversary of the grand opening of Sri Sri Radha-Rasabihari’s temple in Juhu. On this day I have submitted the final manuscript of my book about Srila Prabhupada and Juhu, entitled A Promise Fulfilled, so that it can be formatted for publication. Attached is a lovely photo of Sri Sri Radha-Rasabihari from today.

Hare Krishna.

Yours in service,
Giriraj Swami

Jan 142020
 

 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 Bhatta 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, Gopala 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 102020
 

Today I remembered an incident from New Delhi, perhaps in 1971. Gurudas and I had gone into a shop to make a purchase, and in the mood of saving Krishna’s money, I was bargaining fiercely. But he corrected me, citing a principle from The Nectar of Devotion—“Not Giving Pain to Any Living Entity.” Srila Prabhupada had written, “This is the statement of Mahabharata: ‘A person who does not disturb or cause painful action in the mind of any living entity, who treats everyone just like a loving father does his children, whose heart is so pure, certainly very soon becomes favored by the Supreme Personality of Godhead.’

“In so-called civilized society there is sometimes agitation against cruelty to animals, but at the same time regular slaughterhouses are always maintained. A Vaisnava is not like that. A Vaisnava can never support animal slaughter or even give pain to any living entity.”

I had related the principle to giving pain to living entities outside the course of devotional service, but Gurudas made me realize that I should not cause pain to the mind of the merchant, whether he was overcharging or not, even in the course of trying to save Krishna’s money.

“Not giving pain to any living entity”—an instructive lesson that I have always kept with me.

Hare Krishna.

Yours in service,
Giriraj Swami

Jan 012020
 

A talk by Giriraj Swami on January 2, 2010, Bhaktivedanta Manor, England.

We have gathered at the lotus feet of Srila Prabhupada in this wonderful temple of Sri Sri Radha-Gokulananda, Sri Sita-Rama-Laksmana-Hanuman, and Sri Sri Gaura-Nitai, in the presence of His Holiness Radhanath Swami and so many exalted devotees. We are entering the New Year, 2010, and the next decade, and on such occasions we take stock of what and how we did in the previous year and what we want to do in the next. Studies have shown, and probably many of us have experienced, that most New Year’s resolutions are broken during the first week. Still more are broken in the first month, and almost all are broken within the first three months.

Why does this happen, and what can we do? Man is a creature of habit. We have developed certain habits over the past however many years—perhaps lifetimes—and to change our habits requires sincere desire and determined effort. Another study has shown that when a person is trying to develop a new habit, he has to consistently, diligently strive to adhere to the new practice for at least thirty days. After thirty days, he is able to follow more easily but can be derailed by stress or changes in his life. After ninety days it becomes just as easy to follow the new habit as not, and after a year it is easier to follow the new habit than not.

So, what new habits do we want to develop in the next year? That depends on our goals. When I visited Pune some years ago, the Malhotra brothers arranged a program for me in the main hall, and at the end of the talk the general in charge of the Southern Command of the Indian Army asked an important question: “What is the aim for which we are born, what is the aim of our life? It certainly could not be to amass some wealth and ultimately die, or to make a building and then die, or to marry and procreate and then die. For our minor activities in life we have the aims set first, before we get going to achieve them. When we train our people in the army, whatever they have to do we first tell them what the aim is. And once they are clear what the aim is, then we decide what means to adopt to achieve that. And invariably we don’t go wrong. Now here it is—my whole life is going to waste, to my mind; I am still not very clear what is the aim of my life. Would you kindly enlighten us about the aim of life so that thereafter we can be very, very clear as to what we have got to do to achieve that aim?”

Srila Sanatana Gosvami asked the same question of Sri Chaitanya Mahaprabhu:

“‘ke ami’, ‘kene amaya jare tapa-traya’
iha nahi jani—kemane hita haya

“‘sadhya’-‘sadhana’-tattva puchite na jani
krpa kari’ saba tattva kaha ta’ apani”

“Who am I? Why do the threefold miseries always give me trouble? If I do not know this, how can I be benefited? Actually I do not know how to inquire about the goal of life and the process for obtaining it. Being merciful upon me, please explain all these truths.” (Cc Madhya 20.102–103) He said, “In ordinary dealings people consider me to be a learned scholar (pandita), but I am so learned I do not even know who I am. So please tell me who I am and what is the goal of life.” And Lord Chaitanya replied, “By constitution you are an eternal servant of Krishna —jivera ‘svarupa’ haya—krsnera ‘nitya-dasa’—and the goal of life is to be reinstated in your constitutional position as His loving servant.”

If someone understands that he is not the body, that he is the soul within the body, and that his real relationship is not with the body or things related to the body but that as a spiritual soul his real relationship is with the Supreme Soul, then he can adopt the methods that are suitable for reviving his eternal relationship with the Supreme Soul, Krishna.

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Dec 312019
 

“For us, every day is a New Year. Nava-nava-rasa-dhamany. Our Krishna consciousness is so nice, the more you advance, the more you see new year, new year. That’s all. Nothing is old. People are seeing that ‘They are simply chanting the same old slogan, Hare Krishna.’ But we are feeling new pleasure in every moment. Take any other chanting, you cannot chant more than a few hours. But the Hare Krishna mantra we can chant perpetually. So, unless there is new enlightenment, how we can do that?”

In this conversation in Los Angeles on January 3, 1974, Srila Prabhupada referred to a verse by Sri Yamunacharya:

yad-avadhi mama cetah krsna-padaravinde
nava-nava-rasa-dhamany udyatam rantum asit

“Since my mind has been engaged in the service of the lotus feet of Lord Krishna, and I have been enjoying an ever new transcendental taste.”

May you all have a wonderful, Krishna conscious New Year.

Hare Krishna.

Yours in service,
Giriraj Swami