May 092015
 

02.05.15_05.TOVP_LA“In 1976 Srila Prabahupada came to Detroit. We had just purchased the Fischer Mansion and opened it as a temple. We had put a couple of million dollars into refurbishing it and making it first-class. My parents were freaking out that I had become a Hare Krishna and was spending so much money. Srila Prabhupada was making his only visit to Detroit, and he was talking about building a fantastic temple in Mayapur that would attract the whole world to come and be introduced to Sri Chaitanya Mahaprabhu and chanting Hare Krishna. He was describing the whole project, with the planetarium and chandeliers, and then he turned to me and said, ‘So, Ambarisa Maharaja, what do you think?’ Even though I didn’t know where Mayapur was, I said, ‘It sounds like a great idea, Srila Prabhupada.’ Then Srila Prabhupada said, ‘Oh, you also like it? So, you can finance!’ It was at that moment that he planted the seed in me to help with this project.”

—Ambarisa Dasa
02.05.15_01.TOVP_LA02.05.15_02.TOVP_LA02.05.15_03.TOVP_LA02.05.15_04.TOVP_LA————–
Jananivasa Dasa
Ambarisa Dasa
Giriraj Swami
Radha Jivan Dasa

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May 032015
 

2015-05-03-LA“During the kirtan back in Juhu, my mind was preoccupied—I was disappointed after a long day in Bombay without success. Then Srila Prabhupada looked at me and said, ‘You should dance in the kirtan, even if we don’t get the No Objection Certificate.’ So, these things go on. What to do? We have to tolerate. And not just tolerate, but we should be peaceful (santah). We have to be able to think of Krishna—not that we are so disturbed by the problems that we forget Krishna. We shouldn’t neglect to be absorbed in hearing and chanting about Krishna, which is our most essential practice.”

Srimad-Bhagavatam 3.25.21

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Apr 302015
 

In honor of Jayananda Prabhu’s disappearance day on May 1, we submit the following account, derived from a letter by Kalindi Dasi to her spiritual master, Candramauli Swami.                                             — Giriraj Swami

Jayananda at Ratha-yatra site

A Hospice Miracle—Serving Jayananda’s Mother

In mid-July I started wearing tilak to my work at the hospice. I thought that since many other spiritual practitioners were expressing their faith by wearing crosses, doves, silk threads, pentacles, and other items, I would wear my tilak, which tells the world that I am a devotee of the Lord. And I have found that wearing tilak at work has opened the door for spiritual questions and conversations.

On the morning of Monday, August 6, 2007, after our daily report and medical-staff checks, we began doing our usual tasks of caring for the patients. As ours is only a ten-bed facility, we are able to give loving care to each patient individually. Often, while I care for or bathe patients who are unable to do such tasks for themselves, I chant or sing the Hare Krishna maha-mantra. On this particular morning I was caring for a woman named Jane Kohr, who had been with us for almost a week. She was a kind and polite person, and I enjoyed the time I spent with her. Around 8 a.m. on August 6, I entered her room and found that she was getting closer to leaving her body. She was unresponsive to verbal cues, and her body was limp. I sang the maha-mantra one last time, while she received her final bath. Hospice staff called her family, who were always friendly and appreciative for her care. When I was finished, I spoke with some of the family members in the hall. Jane’s grandson approached me to thank me and then pointed to his forehead and to my tilak and asked if I was a Hare Krishna. I smiled and said that yes, I was a devotee of Krishna. “Well,” he said, “then maybe you know of my uncle Jayananda.”

The Jayananda?” I asked.

“Yes,” he said. And he told me how his uncle had built the Ratha-yatra carts. He then went in to inform his mother that I was a Hare Krishna.

Gaynelle, Jayananda Prabhu’s sister, came out of the room and said that she was so happy that a Krishna devotee had cared for her mother. The whole family expressed that it meant so much to them. Gaynelle kept saying that she couldn’t believe that I was a Hare Krishna. She said that she told her mother but wasn’t sure that her mom could hear her. I said that I had a feeling she already knew, and I laughed.

Jane, a granddaughter, mentioned that she remembered her uncle making really great Indian food and offering it to God and then the family sitting on the floor and eating it. She remembered his robes and how happy he was. Jane said that he had been pretty depressed before meeting devotees.

I let Jayananda Prabhu’s family know that during the Ratha-yatra festival we hang a nice photo of him next to Srila Prabhupada’s photo. They told me that an old friend of Jayananda’s (who is not a devotee) happened to be in Durban, South Africa, several years ago and saw his first Ratha-yatra festival there, and to his astonishment there was a huge photo of Jayananda Prabhu on the front of the cart. He had called Gaynelle to share the news.

They told me that Jayananda was always very kind, even as a child, and never spoke badly of others. From the many stories they told me, his saintly qualities shone through even in his childhood. Gaynelle told me that her brother once spent hours on a family vacation at the beach picking ticks and fleas off a homeless dog. He couldn’t stand to watch it suffering. Jayananda’s nephew told me about running around the kitchen table as a small child with his uncle, who was laughing and chanting Hare Krishna.

When I went back into Jane’s room, the family was gathered around her bed holding her hand. Her breaths were faint, and she was about to leave her body. I stepped out to give the family some space, and about five minutes later they came to the front desk and asked for me to look at her. When I opened the door, I saw that her body had turned yellow and waxy. It was apparent that the soul had left and that the physical body was all that remained. The nurse reported that she had passed, and the family, though sad, also felt relief.

Gaynelle told me that she had asked her brother for support. Since he couldn’t physically be at their mother’s passing, she had been looking for a sign that he was supporting her. She felt that a devotee’s being present and caring for her mother was not a mere coincidence. It was, I believe, Krishna’s endless mercy!

I thanked the relatives for allowing me to serve their family, offered my pranamas, and said, “Hare Krishna.”

Apr 282015
 

Wasted Beauty Getting out of the car to begin my walk today, I found myself before a white picket gate leading to a small, beautiful garden. The gate was flanked on either side by the most lovely rose bushes, but the flowers were past their prime and were falling apart. I thought, “They would have made such a beautiful offering to Lord Krishna, which would have perfected their lives as roses, but instead they are wasting away on the bush.

“How many human beings are wasting away without offering their lives to Krishna?” I thought. “We should help them realize their purpose.”

—Giriraj Swami

 

Skype Talk on Mother Arca-vigraha’s Disappearance Anniversary, April 25, Carpinteria, California

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Apr 262015
 

Arca_initiation Giriraj Swami spoke with devotees in Mumbai over Skype.

“Mother Arca-vigraha loved Vrindavan. She just loved being in Vrindavan, and she wished that other devotees could have the same opportunity that she had to spend their last days there. She asked me to take up that project, and I said I would. From that desire of hers came the Vrindavan hospice; it was her direct request. And now so many devotees are being served by the hospice, including disciples and other followers of Srila Prabhupada from various countries. So, she is a glorious servant of Krishna and the Vaishnavas, and it is very good that every year you come together to remember and glorify her. We should endeavor to follow in her footsteps by completely dedicating ourselves to Krishna’s service. We may not have the same specific qualities and abilities that she had, but whatever abilities we do have we should engage fully in the service of the Lord and the devotees. In this way we can also achieve a very exalted position in devotional service and in the end attain the supreme destination.”

Mother Arca-vigraha’s Disappearance Anniversary, Carpinteria, California

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The Wish of an Angel, Mother Arca-vigraha’s Disappearance Day, April 25

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Apr 252015
 

Arca-vigraha_Dasi_VrindavanToday, April 25, Jhanu Saptami, is the disappearance anniversary of Arca-vigraha dasi, a renowned artist from South Africa who left her cancer-ridden body in Vrindavan twenty-one years ago. Her desire that other devotees also have a proper facility to spend their last days in the beautiful spiritual atmosphere of the dhama inspired the creation of Bhaktivedanta Hospice, which is serving both local devotees and disciples and followers of Srila Prabhupada from throughout the world. To honor the occasion—and the service of the devotees connected with the hospice—I quote from a talk by Bhakti Bhrnga Govinda Swami.                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                     —Giriraj Swami

 The work of the hospice is really such an important thing, and such a valuable gift to ISKCON.

I had the good fortune of assisting Mother Arca-vigraha in Vrindavan, and it was such a rewarding experience. Her previous name was Angel Lipkin, and her name, Angel, indicated her nature. She was actually an angel. She had breast cancer, and it got into the lymph nodes, and the lymph nodes were strangling her esophagus and nerves, and it was quite painful. Arca was a bit of a hardhead. She was one of those natural-type people who would never want to take pain medication; she would take only some homeopathic tablets that were less strong than even aspirin. Sometimes I would see her in the depths of pain, but people would come to her door and say, “Arca, I have a problem.” They would come in, and she would speak to them with such nice Krishna consciousness.

We were neighbors, so I would also pop in—morning, noon, and night. One night I came into her place and she was alone, sitting on her bed crying. I went over and said, “I have to give you some medicine.” She said, “No, I don’t take medicine.” I said, “No, I have to give you some medicine.” I opened the Krsna-bhavanamrta and sat and read to her about Krishna, and hearing about Krishna, even in that painful condition, she became totally transformed. By nature she was an energetic person. And after hearing for some time, she would become animated and exclaim, “Ooh! Ooh!”

Arca attracted so many nice devotees to come and be with her. Devotees would come just to speak to her about Krishna and read to her about Krishna and have kirtana with her. Tamal Krishna Maharaja used to visit her. Sometimes we would sit around her bed and read Srila Rupa Gosvami’s Vidagdha-madhava. We would play different roles, each of us—Sivarama Swami, Kesava Bharati Maharaja, Giriraj Maharaja, Tamal Krishna Goswami, and me—reading the parts of different characters. It was so nice. And she was always so sweet and so humble; she was wonderful.

Over time, Arca-vigraha’s condition became worse. And she made a specific request to her spiritual master, Giriraj Swami Maharaja, and me that we should think of establishing a hospice. In the course of time, I have been pulled in another direction, to the other side of the Himalayas. But it is wonderful that Giriraj Maharaja has taken up this project and that you all have formed a committed and dedicated team to see that it actually takes shape. It is the fulfillment of a wish, the wish of a Vaishnavi.

It is so wonderful that people actually create facilities like this for terminal patients—what to speak of doing it for Vaishnavas, what to speak of doing it in Vrindavan. So it is a very important service, and I am sure that by this service you will all be blessed by Srila Prabhupada—and certainly by Vaishnavas everywhere—for taking the burden and carrying the activity of helping Vaishnavas peacefully depart this world. And I am sure that you will receive an abundance of mercy from the angel Arca-vigraha as well, because she was really an angel. She really was an angel.

Wedding Ceremony Talk, March 21, Houston

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Apr 242015
 

03.21.15_HoustonGiriraj Swami spoke at Nilamadhava dasa and Madhuri Radha dasi’s wedding.

“I will quote one authority on marriage who said, ‘Marriage is not supposed to make you happy. It’s supposed to  to make you married, and once you are safely and totally married, you have a structure of security and support from which you can find your own happiness.’ Our only real and enduring happiness comes in our relationship with God, or Krishna. However nice another person may be, no matter how compatible we may be, ultimately our desires can be satisfied only in relationship with Krishna. And so family and friends are all meant to encourage each other in their relationships with Krishna.”

03.21.15, Marriage Ceremony, Houston

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Maha Gaura-purnima, April 11, Laguna Beach, California

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Apr 132015
 

04.11.15_05.LagunaTRUST THE SIMPLE PROCESS

“People don’t get to have any fun in this world. If you go to LAX airport with a flower garland like this on, everyone will look at you like, ‘You can’t do that! Where did you get that anyway, Buddy? Why do we have to wear these polyester things and you get to wear flowers?’ That’s Chaitanya Mahaprabhu. You get to wear flowers, you get to sing, you get to dance, and all you have to do is follow this simple order. Because if you just trust Lord Chaitanya’s process—that’s all it is, just trust the process—and do the simple things strictly, with full faith, then all success will be there.”

—Vaisesika Dasa

GRS_and_VDA_at_MGP_2015_-_1GRS_and_VDA_at_MGP_2015_-_204.11.15_01.Laguna04.11.15_02.Laguna04.11.15_03.Laguna04.11.15_04.LagunaGRS_Serving_Prasada_at_MGP_2015

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Vaisesika Dasa
Giriraj Swami

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Giriraj Swami’s Books Now Available in E-book Format

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Apr 102015
 

WTS_coverCoverMany devotees have requested that Giriraj Swami’s books be made available in e-book editions. We are pleased to announce that Watering the Seed (Revised and Expanded) and Life’s Final Exam: Death and Dying from the Vedic Perspective are now available as e-books on Amazon. And we hope to have them available soon in other formats, from other vendors. Please click below:

Watering the Seed: Revised and Expanded
Life’s Final Exam: Death and Dying from the Vedic Perspective

Love Me, Love My Dog, March 29, Dallas

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Apr 062015
 

Prabhupada-in-MelbourneGiriraj Swami read and spoke from Srimad-Bhagavatam 2.3.23.

“In other words, Lord Sri Krsna is the property of His pure, unconditional devotees, and as such only the devotees can deliver Krsna to another devotee; Krsna is never obtainable directly. Lord Caitanya therefore designated Himself as gopi-bhartuh pada-kamalayor dasa-dasanudasah, or ‘the most obedient servant of the servants of the Lord, who maintains the gopi damsels at Vrndavana.’ A pure devotee therefore never approaches the Lord directly, but tries to please the servant of the Lord’s servants, and thus the Lord becomes pleased, and only then can the devotee relish the taste of the tulasi leaves stuck to His lotus feet. In the Brahma-samhita it is said that the Lord is never to be found by becoming a great scholar of the Vedic literatures, but He is very easily approachable through His pure devotee.” — SB 2.3.23 purport.

Srimad-Bhagavatam 2.3.23

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