Aug 272016
 

Srila Prabhupada and ISKCON after Fifty Years

Giriraj with Srila Prabhupada on Juhu BeachSrila Prabhupada’s disciple Dhananjaya Dasa told me that at his initiation Srila Prabhupada said, “Dhananjaya means ‘winner of wealth,’” and added, moving his arms all around, “Money is flying in all directions—you simply have to learn the art of catching it.”

The next morning, Dhananjaya raised a question related to a purport he had read in Prabhupada’s Srimad-Bhagavatam (1.12.33):

Maharaja Marutta: . . . [He] conducted one sacrifice called Sankara-yajna by which the Lord was so satisfied that He was pleased to hand over to him the charge of a mountain peak of gold. This peak of gold is somewhere in the Himalaya Mountains, and modern adventurers may try to find it there.”

“Srila Prabhupada,” Dhananjaya asked, “Is it true that there is mountain peak in the Himalayas made of solid gold?”

“Yes, there is such a peak.”

“Do you know where it is?”

“Why do you want to know?” Prabhupada asked.

Dhananjaya perceived that ISKCON was not doing well financially, and so he said, “Well, if you tell me where it is, I’ll get a rucksack [back pack] and a special hammer and chisel and go to the top of that mountain, hack away at the gold, fill up the rucksack, and come down, and then we can use that gold in Krsna’s service. So would you let me know where that mountain peak is?”

“No,” Prabhupada replied.

“Why not?” Dhananjaya asked.

“That would become too controversial,” Prabhupada said. Then he added, “Actually, more valuable than gold are devotees. You should make devotees.”

Dhananjaya took that instruction to heart and has always tried to make devotees—and along with making devotees, keeping devotees. Naturally, if we gain some wealth, we don’t want to lose it—we want to preserve it and increase it.

As Srila Prabhupada wrote, “It is better to maintain a devotee than to try to convince others to become devotees. It is the duty of the GBC to maintain the devotees, keep them in the highest standard of Krishna consciousness, and give them all good instruction, and let them go out and preach for making more devotees. Your first job should be to make sure that every one of the devotees in your zone of management is reading regularly our literatures and discussing the subject matter seriously from different angles of seeing, and that they are somehow or other absorbing the knowledge of Krishna consciousness philosophy. If they are fully educated in our philosophy and if they can get all of the knowledge and study it from every viewpoint, then very easily they will perform tapasya, or renunciation, and that will be their advancement in Krishna consciousness. So first thing is to instruct all of your temple presidents and the other devotees to read daily, just as we have done in our morning class in Los Angeles . . . reading one sloka each morning in Sanskrit and reciting it all together and then discussing it thoroughly by seeing different new things. So you introduce this system and train the devotees first. Don’t be too much concerned for the time being with nondevotees. Now we must fix up what devotees we have got in the knowledge of Krishna consciousness; then we will succeed. What good are many, many devotees if none of them are knowledgeable?” (Letter to Satsvarupa, June 16, 1972) Continue reading »

Aug 252016
 


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Giriraj Swami read and spoke from Srimad-Bhagvatam 10.2.31 for the morning class on Srila Prabhupada’s Vyasa-puja day.

“In Srila Prabhupada’s initiation letter to me he wrote, ‘I marked it in your person when I was in Boston, and I prayed to Krishna that this good soul may be aware of the importance of Krishna consciousness.’

“The pure devotee prays to Krishna to give mercy to the fortunate conditioned soul. And because Krishna is bhakta-vatsala—affectionate and favorably inclined to His devotees—He fulfills their desires. Within the heart He encourages the candidate—the object of the devotee’s mercy—to appreciate the value of Krishna consciousness and accept the process of devotional service.”

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Srimad-Bhagavatam 10.2.31

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Aug 242016
 

krishna-son-of-vasudevaGiriraj Swami read and spoke on Srimad-Bhagavatam 10.33.36 at Lord Krishna’s Appearance Day festival.

“When we hear these stories, we should think, ‘Krishna is so kind to His devotees.’ Even in the midst of the worst calamity, if you just take shelter of Krishna — just surrender to Krishna — He will protect you.  ‘I could have that facility if I surrender to Krishna. Why am I missing out — puttering around with my little toys and sense gratification and fallible soldiers? I am wasting my time. I should surrender to Krishna and get the real benefit.’ So, Krishna appears for this reason. And we can make the purpose of His appearance successful by hearing about His pastimes and dedicating ourselves to Him.”

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Giriraj Swami
Vaisesika Dasa

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Aug 222016
 

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“Mrs. Nair’s husband died, and eventually she had a a change of heart. She surrendered to Srila Prabhupada and said, ‘I really didn’t go along with my husband; I didn’t want him to do that.’ Srila Prabhupada replied, ‘Don’t worry. You are like my daughter. If a man is going on the wrong path in the morning and comes to the right path in the evening, he is not lost. Now you have taken the right path and have reached home. You can stay in any of our centers; we will take care of you. Now you just devote the rest of your life to Krishna, chanting Hare Krishna and serving Krishna. Everything will be all right.’

“The registrar had come out to Juhu, and Mrs. Nair and Srila Prabhupada signed the documents. Then a big feast was served. Afterwards Srila Prabhupada leaned back on his asana and said, ‘It was a good fight. Someone should write a book about it.’ ”

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Home Program, Galt, California

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Aug 182016
 

08.17.16_10_Balarama_Carp“Balarama is considered the original spiritual master because he performs the two functions of the spiritual master. One is that He serves Krishna, and the other is that He gives knowledge of Krishna. In His desire to serve Krishna He wants to serve Krishna in every possible way. In terms of rasa, or transcendental mellow, or relationship, sometimes Balarama is in the mood of servitude (dasya). He also serves Krishna in sakhya-rasa, in the mood of an equal. And because He is elder to Krishna, He serves in the mood of vatsalya-rasa, or parental affection. And finally, because one can enter madhurya-rasa with Krishna only in a female spiritual form, Lord Balarama manifests Himself as Ananga Manjari, the younger sister of Srimati Radharani, and serves Krishna in that relationship. He wants to serve Krishna in every possible way.” — Giriraj Swami

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Balarama Purnima 2016, Carpinteria

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Aug 172016
 

Lord_Balarama_and_Yamuna_Devi5Today is Balarama Purnima, the appearance day of Lord Balarama, the first expansion of Lord Krishna, who plays as Krishna’s older brother. Listening to Sri Caitanya-bhagavata this morning, I happened to hear a description of Lord Chaitanya’s special affinity for the mood of Lord Balarama: “Every day, Lord Chaitanya, accompanied by Lord Nityananda, visited various Vaishnava’s homes and enacted transcendental pastimes. The Lord was constantly engaged in His ecstasies, manifesting the moods and behaviors of different incarnations—Matsya, Kurma, Narasimha, Varaha, Vamana, Ramachandra, Buddha, Kalki, and Krishna, the son of Nanda Maharaja. Lord Chaitanya displayed these moods, as and when He desired, and then quickly hid them.

“But somehow the mood of Balarama came repeatedly to the Lord, and He kept manifesting it. As Haladhara (Balarama), Lord Chaitanya would become very excited and shout loudly, ‘Bring Me wine! Bring Me some wine!’ Nityananda always understood the Lord’s intentions, and so He would reverentially give Him a pot filled with Ganges water. At such times, Lord Chaitanya’s mighty voice seemed to shake the entire creation, and His dancing was so wild it appeared as if the earth would shatter. Seeing such violent dancing, the devotees became fearful. They sang the glories of Balarama, and the Lord became very pleased and His ecstasy increased. In this state, the Lord moved about like a madman; He staggered like an intoxicated person, and He composed and recited varieties of poems and songs. What splendor He manifested in the mood of Balarama! The devotees gazed at the exquisite beauty of the Lord’s face, but their eyes could not be satiated. They more they looked, the more their desire to see Lord Chaitanya’s moonlike face increased-—without limit.” (Cb Madhya 28.61–74)

Sri Caitanya-caritamrta (Adi 17.115–117) describes, “One day the Lord sat down in the corridor of a Visnu temple and began calling very loudly, ‘Bring some honey! Bring some honey!’ Nityananda Prabhu Gosani, understanding the ecstatic mood of Sri Caitanya Mahaprabhu, brought a pot of Ganges water as a token and put it before Him. After drinking the water, Lord Caitanya became so ecstatic that He began to dance. Thus everyone saw the pastime of attracting the river Yamuna.”

In his purport, Srila Prabhupada explains, “Yamunakarsana-lila is the pastime of attracting the Yamuna. One day, Sri Baladeva wanted the Yamuna River to come before Him, and when the river Yamuna refused, He took His plow, wanting to dig a canal so that the Yamuna would be obliged to come there. Since Sri Caitanya Mahaprabhu is the original form of Baladeva, in His ecstasy He asked everyone to bring honey. In this way, all the devotees standing there saw the yamunakarsana-lila. In this lila, Baladeva was accompanied by His girlfriends. After drinking a honey beverage called Varuni, He wanted to jump into the Yamuna and swim with the girls. It is stated in Srimad-Bhagavatam (10.65.25–30, 33) that Lord Baladeva asked the Yamuna to come near, and when the river disobeyed the order of the Lord, He became angry and thus wanted to snatch her near to Him with His plow. The Yamuna, however, very much afraid of Lord Balarama’s anger, immediately came and surrendered unto Him, praying to the Lord, the Supreme Personality of Godhead, and admitting her fault. She was then excused.”

This incident is also described in the Dasavatara-stotra (8), the prayer of Jayadeva Gosvami concerning the ten incarnations:

vahasi vapusi visade vasanam jaladabham
halahati-bhiti-milita-yamunabham
kesava dhrta-haladhara-rupa jaya jagad-isa hare

“O Kesava! O Lord of the universe! O Lord Hari who have assumed the form of plow-wielding Balarama! All glories to You! On Your brilliant white body You wear garments colored like a fresh rain cloud and the river Yamuna, whom You frighten with the blows of Your plow.”

May Lord Balarama kindly excuse us for our offenses and draw us near Him.

Hare Krishna.

Yours in service,
Giriraj Swami

Kishori Yatra Tour Group’s Visit, July 26, Carpinteria, California

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Jul 272016
 

07.26.16, Kishori Yatra’s Performance in Carpinteria from Derek Carter on Vimeo.

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Giriraj Swami spoke to the touring devotees about his first meeting with Srila Prabhupada and his early days in the Hare Krishna movement—and what has sustained him in Krishna consciousness ever since.

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Meeting with the Kishori Yatra tour group

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Prayer for Srila Sanatana Gosvami’s Mercy

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Jul 192016
 

Rupa Gosvami and Sanatana GosvamiToday, Sri Guru-purnima, or Vyasa-purnima, is the divine disappearance day of Srila Sanatana Gosvami, the eldest of the Six Gosvamis of Vrndavana. The authorized poet Sri Kavi-karnapura, in his book Caitanya-candrodaya-nataka (9.34, 35, 38), quoted in Sri Caitanya-caritamrta (Madhya 24.348–350), tells how Sri Caitanya Mahaprabhu blessed Sanatana Gosvami with His specific mercy.

gaudendrasya sabha-vibhusana-manis tyaktva ya rddham sriyam
rupasyagraja esa eva tarunim vairagya-laksmim dadhe
antar-bhakti-rasena purna-hrdayo bahye ’vadhutakrtih
saivalaih pihitam maha-sara iva priti-pradas tad-vidam

“Srila Sanatana Gosvami, the elder brother of Srila Rupa Gosvami, was a most important minister in the government of Hussain Shah, the ruler of Bengal, and he was considered a most brilliant gem in that assembly. He possessed all the opulences of a royal position, but he gave up everything just to accept the youthful goddess of renunciation. Although he externally appeared to be a mendicant who had renounced everything, he was filled with the pleasure of devotional service within his heart. Thus he can be compared to a deep lake covered with moss. He was the object of pleasure for all the devotees who knew the science of devotional service.

tam sanatanam upagatam aksnor
drsta-matram atimatra-dayardrah
alilinga parighayata-dorbhyam
sanukampam atha campaka-gaurah

“As soon as Sanatana Gosvami arrived in front of Lord Caitanya, the Lord, seeing him, became merciful to him. The Lord, who has the complexion of a golden campaka flower, opened His arms and embraced him while expressing great affection.”

kalena vrndavana-keli-varta
lupteti tam khyapayitum visisya
krpamrtenabhisiseca devas
tatraiva rupam ca sanatanam ca

“In the course of time, the transcendental news of Krsna’s pastimes in Vrndavana was almost lost. To enunciate explicitly those transcendental pastimes, Sri Caitanya Mahaprabhu empowered Srila Rupa Gosvami and Sanatana Gosvami with the nectar of His mercy to carry out this work in Vrndavana.”

“Srila Sanatana Gosvami is the ideal spiritual master,” Srila Prabhupada explains, “for he delivers one the shelter of the lotus feet of Madana-mohana. Even though one may be unable to travel on the field of Vrndavana due to forgetfulness of his relationship with the Supreme Personality of Godhead, he can get an adequate opportunity to stay in Vrndavana and derive all spiritual benefits by the mercy of Sanatana Gosvami.” (Cc Adi 1.47 purport)

On this auspicious occasion I pray to follow in the footsteps of Srila Sanatana Gosvami, that he may bless me with remembrance of Krishna and Vrndavana and the ability to share with others the mercy of Sri Caitanya Mahaprabhu and Srila Prabhupada.

Hare Krishna.

Yours in service,
Giriraj Swami

Ratha-yatra, Svarupa Damodara, and Sivananda Sena

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Jul 092016
 

Puri Ratha-yatraA talk by Giriraj Swami on Sivananda Sena’s and Svarupa Damodara Gosvami’s Disappearance Day, June 25, 1998, Los Angeles.

On the auspicious day of Jagannatha Ratha-yatra in Puri, two of Lord Caitanya’s most confidential associates—Srila Svarupa Damodara Gosvami and Srila Sivananda Sena—left this world to return to the supreme abode.

The inner moods of Lord Caitanya Mahaprabhu, especially in Puri, were not easy to understand, and they were unknown to most devotees. Only Svarupa Damodara Gosvami, who was the most intimate associate of Sri Caitanya Mahaprabhu in Puri, could really understand them, and by his grace we have been given the chance to understand them, too.

svarupa-gosani-prabhura ati antaranga
tahate janena prabhura e-saba prasanga

“Svarupa Gosani is the most intimate associate of the Lord. He therefore knows all these topics well.” (Cc Adi 4.105)

In the purport to this verse, Srila Prabhupada tells us about Svarupa Damodara’s history and identity: “Prior to the Lord’s acceptance of the renounced order, Purusottama Bhattacarya, a resident of Navadvipa, desired to enter the renounced order of life. Therefore he left home and went to Benares, where he accepted the position of brahmacarya from a Mayavadi sannyasi. When he became a brahmacari, he was given the name Sri Damodara Svarupa. He left Benares shortly thereafter, without taking sannyasa, and he came to Nilacala, Jagannatha Puri, where Lord Caitanya was staying. He met Caitanya Mahaprabhu there and dedicated his life for the service of the Lord. He became Lord Caitanya’s secretary and constant companion. He used to enhance the pleasure potency of the Lord by singing appropriate songs, which were very much appreciated.”

In the context of Lord Caitanya’s experience of the Ratha-yatra in Puri, Sri Caitanya-caritamrta (Madhya 13.168) confirms:

prabhura bhavanurupa svarupera gana
yabe yei rasa taha kare murtiman

“Svarupa Damodara used to sing exactly according to the ecstatic emotion of the Lord. Whenever a particular mellow was being tasted by Sri Caitanya Mahaprabhu, Svarupa Damodara would personify it by singing.”

Srila Prabhupada’s purport continues: “Svarupa Damodara could understand the secret mission of Lord Caitanya, and it was by his grace only that all the devotees of Lord Caitanya could know the real purpose of the Lord.

“Svarupa Damodara has been identified as Lalita-devi, the second expansion of Radharani. However, text 160 of Kavi-karnapura’s authoritative Gaura-ganoddesa-dipika describes Svarupa Damodara as the same Visakha-devi who serves the Lord in Goloka Vrndavana. Therefore it is to be understood that Sri Svarupa Damodara is a direct expansion of Radharani who helps the Lord experience the attitude of Radharani.”

Sri Svarupa Damodara Gosvami ki jaya!

Sivananda Sena is another confidential associate of the Lord who also assisted Him in His pastimes, especially at the time of the Puri Ratha-yatra. He is one of the important branches of the Caitanya tree.

sivananda sena-prabhura bhrtya antaranga
prabhu-sthane yaite sabe layena yanra sanga

“Sivananda Sena, the twenty-fourth branch of the tree, was an extremely confidential servant of Lord Caitanya Mahaprabhu. Everyone who went to Jagannatha Puri to visit Lord Caitanya took shelter and guidance from Sri Sivananda Sena.

prativarse prabhu-gana sangete la-iya
nilacale calena pathe palana kariya

“Every year he took a party of devotees from Bengal to Jagannatha Puri to visit Lord Caitanya. He maintained the entire party as they journeyed on the road.” (Cc Adi 10.54–55)

In a purport in the same part of Sri Caitanya-caritamrta (Adi 10.61), which describes Sivananda Sena, Srila Prabhupada writes, “Srila Sivananda Sena has been described by Srila Bhaktisiddhanta Sarasvati Maharaja as follows: ‘Sivananda Sena was a resident of Kumarahatta, which is also known as Halisahara, and was a great devotee of the Lord. About one and a half miles from Kumarahatta is another village, known as Kancadapada, in which there are Gaura-Gopala Deities installed by Sivananda Sena, who also established a temple of Krsnaraya that is still existing. Sivananda Sena was the father of Paramananda Sena, who was also known as Puri dasa or Kavi-karnapura. Paramananda Sena wrote in his Gaura-ganoddesa-dipika (176) that two of the gopis of Vrndavana, whose former names were Vira and Duti, combined to become his father. Srila Sivananda Sena guided all the devotees of Lord Caitanya who went from Bengal to Jagannatha Puri, and he personally bore all the expenses for their journey. This is described in the Caitanya-caritamrta, Madhya-lila, Chapter Sixteen, verses 19 through 27. Srila Sivananda Sena had three sons, named Caitanya dasa, Ramadasa, and Paramananda. As mentioned above, this last son later became Kavi-karnapura and wrote the Gaura-ganoddesa-dipika. His spiritual master was Srinatha Pandita, who was Sivananda Sena’s priest. Due to Vasudeva Datta’s lavish spending, Sivananda Sena was engaged to supervise his expenditures.’ Continue reading »