Feb 162017

Srila Bhaktisiddhanta Sarasvati ThakuraYesterday at our ashram in Carpinteria we celebrated the appearance day of Srila Bhaktisiddhanta Sarasvati Thakura, Srila Prabhupada’s spiritual master, whose divine instruction led to Prabhupada’s coming to America and spreading Krishna consciousness—the teachings of Lord Chaitanya—all over the world. And we were happy that Balarama das, Sripada Tamal Krishna Goswami’s former servant, secretary, and pujari, also joined us.

Balarama shared with us many of his wonderful experiences with Tamal Krishna Goswami—and one instruction of Goswami Maharaja’s really struck me: “If you get a chance for advanced association, drop everything—whatever you are doing—because such association is very rare.”

Hare Krishna.

Yours in service,
Giriraj Swami

GRS offering ghee lampBalarama playing mrdangaGRS offering obeisancesSrila Bhaktisiddhanta Sarasvati Thakura before guru-puja

Feb 072017

Nityananda AGiriraj Swami gave this talk on February 12, 2014, in New Dvaraka, Los Angeles.

“We think of Srila Prabhupada staying in the Bowery with that young man, David Allen, who was taking the New York version of strong liquor—LSD. David went mad. He could have done anything to Srila Prabhupada. And Srila Prabhupada went running down the stairs onto the street, not knowing where he would go. It was like Nityananda Prabhu and Haridasa Thakura running for their life from the drunken brothers Jagai and Madhai. I cannot imagine anyone since Nityananda Prabhu and His associates who has taken up that mission of approaching anyone and everyone without discrimination and giving them the message of Chaitanya Mahaprabhu, as Srila Prabhupada did. And he is doing that through all of you; you are also doing the same thing. You are approaching people without discrimination and giving them the message of Chaitanya Mahaprabhu in the form of Srila Prabhupada’s books, or through or the hari-nama sankirtana party, which also carries books and magazines. By that activity we will get the mercy of Lord Nityanada and Lord Sri Chaitanya Mahaprabhu.”


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Feb 072017

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

Lord Varaha delivers the earth“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, it is only half. The other half is filled with water, and in that water Garbhodakasayi Visnu 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.

—Giriraj Swami

Feb 032017

Sri Advaita Acarya in MayapurOn Sri Advaita Acarya’s appearance day, I share with you a talk about Him by His Divine Grace A. C. Bhaktivedanta Swami Prabhupada, given on April 6, 1975, in Mayapur, India.  —Giriraj Swami

advaitam harinadvaita
  acaryam bhakti-samsana
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.” (Sri Caitanya-caritamrta, Adi-lila, 1.13)

So, gradually the author is offering respect: sri-krsna-caitanya prabhu-nityananda sri-advaita. He has already offered respect to Lord Caitanya and Lord Nityananda. Now it is the turn for Sri Advaita Acarya. Advaitam: “nondifferent”—He is expansion of Maha-visnu. He is visnu-tattva. He is not jiva-tattva. Therefore He is Advaita. Advaitam acyutam anadim ananta-rupam. Krsna has got unlimited number of expansions—expansions, expansions of the expansions, and then expansions of the expansions, in this way. So Advaita Acarya is expansion of Krsna, as already explained. Therefore He is called advaitam. And acaryam bhakti-samsanat. This is the business of acarya: to spread bhakti cult. Acaryam mam vijaniyan navamanyeta karhicit. It is said by the Lord, “You should accept the acarya.” Acarya means one who transmits bhakti cult. Bhakti-samsanat, spreading—gosthy-anandi. One who is not spreading—he is cultivating Krsna consciousness for his personal benefit in a secluded place, sitting and chanting—that is also nice, but he’s not acarya. Acarya 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, he was 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 Krsna. It is Krsna’s business. Krsna 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
  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.” (Bg 4.8) Continue reading »

Feb 012017

Happy Vasanta PaTKG's sannyasa initiation by Srila Prabhupadanchami, Vrindavan’s first day of spring, which is the appearance day of Srimati Visnupriya Devi, Sri Pundarika Vidyanidhi, Sri Raghunandana Thakura, and Srila Raghunatha Dasa Gosvami; the disappearance day of Srila Visvanatha Cakravarti Thakura; and the anniversary of the acceptance of sannyasa by His Holiness Tamal Krishna Goswami (my sannyasa-guru). May they shower their mercy upon us all.

Hare Krishna.

—Giriraj Swami

Jan 312017

The account Mahaprabhu and devotees in kirtanof Sri Chaitanya Mahaprabhu and Nityananda Prabhu’s deliverance of the two drunken sinners Jagai and Madhai demonstrates the harmful results of blaspheming Vaishnavas and the beneficial results possible for those who do not blaspheme. Sri Caitanya-bhagavata (Madhya-khanda, 13.39–43) describes:

“Every type of sin became manifest in the bodies of those two [Jagai and Madhai] except the sin of blaspheming Vaishnavas. They happily spent their days and nights in the company of other drunkards. Therefore they had no opportunity to blaspheme the Vaishnavas. The assembly in which Vaishnavas are blasphemed will be ruined, even if all other religious principles are observed. If an assembly of sannyasis indulges in blasphemy, then that assembly is more sinful than an assembly of drunkards. A drunkard will be delivered in due course of time, but one who engages in blasphemy will never attain the goal of life.”

Later, after Sri Chaitanya Mahaprabhu and Nityananda Prabhu delivered Jagai and Madhai, Mahaprabhu accepted all their sinful reactions—and sent the sinful reactions to those who blaspheme devotees:

“Mahaprabhu said, ‘O brothers, I have accepted the sinful reactions of Jagai and Madhai. You will all see for yourselves.’ In order to demonstrate that there were no more sins remaining in the bodies of those two, the Lord’s body turned blackish. The Lord said, ‘How do I look?’ Advaita replied, ‘You look just like Sri Gokulacandra [Krishna, Syamasundara].” On hearing Advaita’s comment, Visvambhara smiled and all the devotees chanted the name of Hari. The Lord said, ‘See how these two sinners are black. Perform kirtan so that their sins take shelter in those who blaspheme.’ Hearing the Lord’s words, everyone became jubilant. They then began to perform kirtan in ecstasy.” (Cb Madhya-khanda 13.298–303)

I desperately pray never to commit the offense of blaspheming devotees. Rather, as Srila Bhaktisiddhanta Sarasvati Thakura said, “Let me have unlimited mouths and unlimited lifespan to unlimitedly glorify the unlimited qualities of Krishna’s devotees.”

Hare Krishna.

—Giriraj Swami

Remedy for Envy

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Jan 172017

In the morning I have beeBCS and GRSn listening to Srila Prabhupada’s wonderful talks on Sri Caitanya-caritamrta given in Juhu in November 1975, and today I was struck by his explanation of how we can feel fellowship with each other—free from envy:

“So if we accept this philosophy, Chaitanya Mahaprabhu’s, without falsely declaring ourself that ‘I am equal to God’ or ‘I am God,’ if you simply accept that jivera ‘svarupa’ haya—krsnera ‘nitya dasa’ [Cc Madhya 20.108], that we are eternally servant of Krishna, and act like that . . . Servant of Krishna means he must be always engaged in the service of Krishna. This is called bhakti.

sravanam kirtanam visnoh
smaranam pada-sevanam
arcanam vandanam dasyam
sakhyam atma-nivedanam

[SB 7.5.23]

This is our position. And if we understand that all of us, we are servant of Krishna—you are servant of Krishna, I am servant of Krishna, he is servant of Krishna—then we can understand our position is one. That is oneness—we are all servants. So there is no question of my becoming envious of you or your becoming envious of me. We are all servants of God, so we have to execute the orders of God. That is servant’s business.”

Hare Krishna.

—Giriraj Swami

Worshiping the Holy Name with Attention

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Jan 062017

Speaking on the prabhupada-chanting-on-devotees-beadsoffenses against the holy name, Srila Prabhupada said, “‘To become inattentive while chanting the holy name.’ Sravanam kirtanam: hearing and chanting. One has to hear nicely, and if he hears nicely, then he can speak nicely. But we must practice hearing . . . So many times this chanting, it is not so nice, it’s slurred, it’s unclear. No. We are not trying to be fast. We want to hear, and we should worship the holy name when we utter it. We should worship the holy name. So, we should be attentive, because it’s Krishna, the Supreme Person, we are addressing—no one less. So we should be conscious of that holy name on our lips and hear as carefully as we can.”

I pray to have even a glimmer of such realization.

Hare Krishna.

—Giriraj Swami

Visit with Rajani-priya Dasi

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Jan 032017

rajani-priya-holding-photo-of-lila-saktiLast night night Swarup Damodar, Sukumari, Nikunja Viharini, and I went to visit Rose Forkash (now Rajani-priya dasi) at her home in Carpinteria. For three hours, she enlivened and inspired us with stories of her and her family’s association with and service to Srila Prabhupada. And Swarup Damodar gave me a wonderful exchange with Srila Prabhupada about her and her daughter, to read out loud.

Ramesvara: We have one mother in Los Angeles of a girl named Lila-sakti. She’s a big book distributor. And her mother, she loves this movement so much that when the deprogrammers start debating us, she stands up and yells at them that “My daughter was on drugs, hippie, before she came to this movement. This movement has saved her. If I had known about this movement when I was a young girl, I would have joined this movement!” On television she’s speaking like that, very strongly: “You have no right to criticize! You don’t know anything about this movement.” . . . She says, “You just come over to my house for lunch and I’ll tell you all about this movement, how nice it is.” She started this club, Parents for Krishna.
Prabhupada: Oh, she is very sincere. And her daughter, this Lila . . .? What is?
Ramesvara: Lila-sakti.
Prabhupada: She’s wonderful girl. She’s expert in everything.
(Room Conversation, January 20, 1977, Bhubaneswar)

Rajani-priya is now ninety-six years of age, but she is full of life—Krishna consciousness.

—Giriraj Swami

Happy Holidays

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Dec 232016

From a talk by Giriraj Swami on December 17, 2000, in Ojai, California.

Our host, Urvasi dasi, called tonight’s occasion “The Holiday Festival.” In the West this is the holiday season, with Christmas and Hanukkah both coming up. As Srila Prabhupada explained, the Lord comes to this world to enlighten people with transcendental knowledge. Sometimes He comes personally, and sometimes He sends His son or His prophet or His messenger or His representative, but they all come with the same message. They may speak in different languages according to the circumstances and the audience, but the essence of the message is the same: God is great; we are but small parts and parcels of God, meant to serve Him with love; we have come from God and are meant to return to Him.

Srila Prabhupada’s purport in the Bhagavad-gita As It Is contains a statement that relates to the holidays people in the West are about to celebrate:

“‘The avatara, or incarnation of Godhead, descends from the kingdom of God for material manifestation. And the particular form of the Personality of Godhead who so descends is called an incarnation, or avatara. Such incarnations are situated in the spiritual world, the kingdom of God. When they descend to the material creation, they assume the name avatara.’ [Cc Madhya 20.263­–264] There are various kinds of avataras, such as purusavataras, gunavataras, lilavataras, sakty-avesa avataras, manvantara-avataras, and yugavataras–all appearing on schedule all over the universe. But Lord Krsna is the primeval Lord, the fountainhead of all avataras. Lord Sri Krsna descends for the specific purpose of mitigating the anxieties of the pure devotees, who are very anxious to see Him in His original Vrndavana pastimes.” (Bg 4.8 purport)

Srila Bhaktisiddhanta Sarasvati Thakura, the spiritual master of Srila Prabhupada, said that Jesus Christ was a saktyavesa-avatara. As we just read, avatara means one who descends. So, he accepted that Jesus Christ descended to the earth from above. That is avatara. And saktyavesa means one who carries the power of the Lord. Thus, he accepted that Jesus Christ descended to earth with the power of the Lord to preach the message of Godhead. And Jesus Christ preached more or less the same message as Lord Krsna in the Bhagavad-gita. Sometimes people would ask Srila Prabhupada about Jesus, and Srila Prabhupada would reply, “In the Bible Jesus said that he was the son of God, and in the Bhagavad-gita Lord Krsna says that He is the father of all living entities, so there is no contradiction.” Continue reading »