Nov 092019

Speaking on Srimad-Bhagavatam 3.26.47 on January 22, 1975, in Juhu, Bombay, Srila Prabhupada appealed to us not to be preoccupied with the temporary miserable and happy conditions of life but to put a permanent end to the real problems of life and make our lives successful:

“Krishna, the Supreme Personality of Godhead, says personally, ‘These are your miseries.’ What? Janma-mrtyu-jara-vyadhi: [birth, death, old age, and disease (Gita 13.9)] ‘Repetition of birth and death.’ This is your real misery of life. What you are thinking as this misery or that misery are all temporary. They are all under the laws of material nature. You cannot get out of it. . . . So long as you are under this material nature, you have to accept this birth, death, old age, and disease. This is your real misery. We are thinking of temporary miserable conditions. Shastra says, ‘You don’t require to adjust temporary material misery or happiness, because they will come and go. You are destined to a certain type of miserable condition of life, a certain type of so-called happy life. They will automatically come and go, just like seasonal changes.’ Agamapayino ’nityas tams titiksasva bharata (Gita 2.14). We are very much happy when we are in a very good condition of life. But that will also not stay. That will also go away. Then miserable condition. Cakravat parivartante sukhani ca duhkhani ca. Sometimes happy, sometimes miserable. So, if you are actually interested to get out of miserable conditions, then try to get out of these four miserable conditions of life: janma-mrtyu-jara-vyadhi. That is intelligence. Don’t be bothered with the temporary miserable or happy conditions. They will come and go. Tams titiksasva bharata. If you cannot bear, then try to tolerate. That is the qualification of a brahman. Satyam samo damas titiksa, tolerance. We should not be disturbed—‘Now I am in miserable condition.’ Tolerate. The miserable conditions will come in this material world. Don’t be very much happy when you are in happy condition of life; neither become mad in miserable condition of life. Chant Hare Krishna and make your life successful. That is required. This is the propaganda of this Hare Krishna movement, or Krishna consciousness.”

Hare Krishna.

Yours in service,
Giriraj Swami

Nov 072019

Today is the disappearance day of Srila Gaurakisora dasa Babaji Maharaja. Srila Gaurakisora dasa Babaji was a great devotee—a maha-bhagavata. He was a disciple of Srila Bhaktivinoda Thakura and was very renounced. Earlier, he lived for many years in Vrindavan, roaming the twelve forests, chanting the holy names of Krishna, begging alms, and sleeping under trees. Later, after Srila Bhaktivinoda Thakura discovered Lord Chaitanya’s birthplace in Mayapur, Srila Jagannatha dasa Babaji Maharaja, the siksa-guru of Bhaktivinoda Thakura and parama-guru of Gaurakisora dasa Babaji, instructed Gaurakisora to move to Navadvipa-dhama.

There Gaurakisora resided on the banks of the Ganges and practiced devotional service with intense devotion and renunciation. Because materialistic men would come and disturb him with their desires for mundane blessings (asirvada), the babaji began to stay by a municipal lavatory, where the filth and obnoxious smells would discourage unwanted visitors. There he would chant in peace—in ecstasy. He would beg alms and cook in discarded clay pots, or eat parched rice with green chilies, or just ingest Ganges mud. Sometimes he would collect the discarded cloth from the crematorium, wash it in Ganges water, and use it to cover himself. His only desire was to be absorbed in the mellow of the holy name—in Krishna consciousness.

Gaurakisora was a siksa disciple and intimate friend of Srila Bhaktivinoda Thakura. The Thakura arranged a bhajana-kutira for him on the same property as Bhaktivinoda Thakura’s house in Godruma-dvipa. When the time came for Srila Bhaktisiddhanta Sarasvati Thakura to take diksa, Srila Bhaktivinoda Thakura advised him to approach Srila Gaurakisora dasa Babaji Maharaja. Srila Bhaktivinoda Thakura was the father of Bhaktisiddhanta Sarasvati and his first instructor in the spiritual science, but the etiquette was that one would not take diksa from one’s biological father. So Srila Bhaktivinoda Thakura sent him to Gaurakisora dasa Babaji Maharaja.

Srila Bhaktisiddhanta Sarasvati Thakura was highly literate. By the age of seven, he had memorized the entire Bhagavad-gita and could even explain its verses. He had a photographic memory, and in school he read all the books in the entire library. Just by reading them once, he could remember every word, and so the library purchased new books just for him. By the age of twenty-five, he had written numerous articles and published one book, Surya-siddhanta, for which he was awarded the title “Siddhanta Sarasvati.” So he was highly educated and literate, and Srila Gaurakisora dasa Babaji Maharaja was hardly educated or literate at all.

The first time Siddhanta Sarasvati approached Srila Gaurakisora dasa Babaji Maharaja, the babaji refused to accept him. He didn’t directly say no, but he said, “I will ask Mahaprabhu.” When Siddhanta Sarasvati returned and told his father what had happened, Srila Bhaktivinoda Thakura encouraged him to persevere: “You must go back and beg him with all humility and earnestness to accept you.” So he went back, and Gaurakisora dasa Babaji again refused, saying, “Oh, I forgot to ask Mahaprabhu. I am so sorry.” When Siddhanta Sarasvati returned home, Srila Bhaktivinoda Thakura was most upset. He knew that Gaurakisora dasa Babaji was a pure devotee, a maha-bhagavata, and he urged Siddhanta Sarasvati to persist. So he again instructed his son to beg Gaurakisora for his mercy, and he added, “If you fail this time, don’t bother to come back home.”

So Siddhanta Sarasvati left the house and went to the Ganges. He felt so hopeless, he thought he might as well just drown himself in the river. Just then, Srila Gaurakisora dasa Babaji Maharaja appeared; he knew what was in his future disciple’s heart. Siddhanta Sarasvati just threw himself at the lotus feet of Srila Gaurakisora dasa Babaji in abject humility and complete surrender. Finally, Srila Gaurakisora dasa Babaji accepted him. Siddhanta Sarasvati had shown that he was free from any tinge of false pride, that he was so learned and literate and his guru was uneducated.

Srila Prabhupada remarked that Gaurakisora dasa Babaji was illiterate and could not even sign his name, yet he became the spiritual master of Sarasvati Thakura, the best scholar of his time. And thus he proved the statement of the Vedas:

yasya deve para bhaktir
yatha-deve tatha gurau
tasyaite kathita hy arthah
prakasante mahatmanah

“Only unto those great souls who have implicit faith in both the Lord and the spiritual master are all the imports of Vedic knowledge automatically revealed.” (Svetasvatara Upanisad 6.23)

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Nov 062019

“O son of Kunti, the nonpermanent appearance of happiness and distress, and their disappearance in due course, are like the appearance and disappearance of winter and summer seasons. They arise from sense perception, O scion of Bharata, and one must learn to tolerate them without being disturbed.” —Bhagavad-gita 2.14

In Los Angeles, on November 29, 1968, speaking on this verse, Srila Prabhupada said, “Now the question is that ‘Yes, I understand that my grandfather is spirit soul and this body is material. Still, by nature I’ll be unhappy if my grandfather is killed and my teacher is killed. I’ll be unhappy.’ So, Krishna is instructing Arjuna that this kind of distress, in this world, you cannot avoid. These are necessary distresses.

“In India and other parts of the Eastern countries, just like Arabia, during summertime, the temperature is 135. You cannot imagine 135. In India we have experienced such temperature. I have experienced up to 118 degrees. Not always—unusually. But 110 degrees is usual during summertime . . . The scorching heat, you cannot go out on the street. But still, one has to go to office, one has to go to work. There are some cases of heat stroke. Still, nobody can stop his duty.

“ ‘Similarly, even if you think that by discharging your duty as a warrior, as a kshatriya, your grandfather will be killed . . . Of course, there is no cause of lamentation; he’ll get another, new body. But even if you think, if your bodily concept is so strong, if you are sorry, you have to tolerate, just like one has to tolerate extreme heat and extreme cold.’ There is no cause of crying, ‘Oh, there is extreme heat, extreme heat.’ What you’ll do? That is nature’s law. Extreme heat—everyone is cooking. Nobody says, ‘Oh, today is extreme heat. I cannot cook.’ No. Everybody is cooking, although there is suffering. Similarly, there is extreme cold, but everyone is taking bath in the Ganges. Nobody says, ‘Oh, I’ll not take bath.’

“So duty has to be done. There may be some suffering, temporary. . . .

“You have to do your own duty—but [for the] result, depend on Krishna. This is Krishna conscious. You don’t be sorry if there is failure; you don’t be too much jubilant if there is success. Everything is done by Krishna. This is the attitude of Krishna consciousness. They have to do their own duty, never mind whether it is suffering or happiness. It doesn’t matter.”

Thus, as Lord Krishna says later in the Bhagavad-gita (2.27), “In the unavoidable discharge of your duty, you should not lament.”

I pray for such determination.

Hare Krishna.

Yours in service,
Giriraj Swami

Nov 052019

At a lecture that Srila Prabhupada gave on April 6, 1972, at Tarrawarra Abbey, in Melbourne, one of the members said to Prabhupada, “Swami, in the Christian history, one of the people that many of us look up to is a man called Francis of Assisi, and he talks about knowing God, and he rates it up with experiences such as on the occasion when he embraced a leper. And he says, ‘If we turn away from our fellow, then we are not reaching God, or God consciousness.’ And this is in line with one of the central teachings of the Christian scriptures, which is that if any man says he loves God and does not love his neighbor, then that man is a liar.”

“If actually one loves God,” Prabhupada replied, “he must love everybody. That is the sign. Just like my mouth is now thirsty. I am quenching with drinking water and putting here. As soon as I put the water here, immediately the energy is distributed all over the body. So a God conscious person cannot be neglectful or envious of anyone. That is the test. Sarvair gunais tatra samasate surah (SB 5.18.12). [All the demigods and their exalted qualities, such as religion, knowledge, and renunciation, become manifest in the body of one who has developed unalloyed devotion for the Supreme Personality of Godhead.] All good qualities. So, this is a good quality—to love your neighbor, to give them service. So, if a person is actually God conscious, he must be sympathetic with the troubles of his neighbor, or anyone—not only human beings, animals also. They are also living entities. A God conscious person makes no discrimination between human being and animal or trees or plants, because they are also living entities.”

Hare Krishna.

Yours in service,
Giriraj Swami

Nov 042019

Today is Gopastami, the day on which Krishna and Balarama and other boys Their age, who previously had tended the calves, were given charge of the cows. This event is described in Srimad-Bhagavatam (10.15.1):

tatas ca pauganda-vayah-sritau vraje
babhuvatus tau pasu-pala-sammatau
gas carayantau sakhibhih samam padair
vrndavanam punyam ativa cakratuh

“When Lord Rama and Lord Krsna attained the age of pauganda [six to ten] while living in Vrndavana, the cowherd men allowed Them to take up the task of tending the cows. Engaging thus in the company of Their friends, the two boys rendered the land of Vrndavana most auspicious by imprinting upon it the marks of Their lotus feet.”

As stated in the purport, “Since Lord Krsna’s spiritual body had apparently grown slightly in age and strength, the senior men of Vrndavana, headed by Nanda Maharaja, decided to promote Krsna from the task of herding calves to the status of a regular cowherd boy. He would now take care of the full-grown cows, bulls, and oxen. Out of great affection, Nanda Maharaja had previously considered Krsna too small and immature to take care of full-grown cows and bulls. It is stated in the Karttika-mahatmya section of the Padma Purana:

suklastami karttike tu
smrta gopastami budhaih
tad-dinad vasudevo ’bhud
gopah purvam tu vatsapah

‘The eighth lunar day of the bright fortnight of the month of Karttika is known by authorities as Gopastami. From that day, Lord Vasudeva served as a cowherd, whereas previously He had tended the calves.’

“The word padaih indicates that Lord Krsna blessed the earth by walking on her surface with His lotus feet. The Lord wore no shoes or other footgear but walked barefoot in the forest, giving great anxiety to the girls of Vrndavana, who feared that His soft lotus feet would be injured.”

On this occasion, in temples in Vrindavan and elsewhere, Srimati Radharani is dressed as a cowherd boy—Subala.

Hare Krishna.

Yours in service,
Giriraj Swami

Nov 042019

“The Lord created this material world to enable the conditioned souls to learn how to perform yajnas (sacrifices) for the satisfaction of Visnu, so that while in the material world they can live very comfortably without anxiety and after finishing the present material body they can enter into the kingdom of God. That is the whole program for the conditioned soul. By performance of yajna, the conditioned souls gradually become Krsna conscious and become godly in all respects. In the Age of Kali, the sankirtan-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. Sankirtan-yajna and Krsna consciousness go well together.” —Bhagavad-gita 3.10 purport

Bhagavad-gita 3.10 (Right click to download)

Nov 032019

Giriraj Swami read and spoke on Srimad-Bhagavatam 7.5.12.

“As members of ISKCON we all under the authority of Srila Prabhupada. And we can serve Srila Prabhupada according to our individuality. But by definition, devotional service must be anukula—favorable—and for our service to be favorable, we have to know what our master wants. We can’t properly offer the master something he doesn’t want under the plea that that is my individuality, because that is a false conception of individuality. So, the first thing is that Srila Prabhupada is the master and we need to know what the master wants. As long as we give him something that he wants, we are all right. We are not all going to offer the same thing, but what we offer will be within the range of what the master wants.”

Unity in Variety (Right click to download)