Damodar das

Dec 162014

12.14.14_3.CarpIn this ceremony, Tulasi Manjari dasi received second initiation from Giriraj Swami, who read and spoke from Bhagavad-gita 14.26.

“Srila Prabhupada would say that in other conceptions, the worshippers think of God as the father and that the nature of the children is to take service from the father — ‘I need this,’ or ‘I want that.’ But in the Bhagavata conception, God become the child of the devotee. Instead of the devotee thinking, ‘O God, You are my father. I have so many needs and wants, and You have to fulfill them.’ Instead, a devotee is thinking, ‘O Krishna, You are my son. I have to feed You, otherwise You will be hungry.’ So, it is a very elevated and sublime process — part of the process of bhakti-yoga that has come down to us from Sri Chaitanya Mahaprabhu through Rupa Goswami and other acharyas.”

Second Initiation, Carpinteria, California

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Dec 112014

SPinPark“The members of the Krsna consciousness movement are not at all interested in so-called meditation in the Himalayas or the forest, where one will only make a show of meditation, nor are they interested in opening many schools for yoga and meditation in the cities. Rather, every member of the Krsna consciousness movement is interested in going door to door to try to convince people about the teachings of Bhagavad-gita As It Is, the teachings of Lord Caitanya. That is the purpose of the Hare Krsna movement. The members of the Krsna consciousness movement must be fully convinced that without Krsna one cannot be happy. Thus the Krsna conscious person avoids all kinds of pseudo spiritualists, transcendentalists, meditators, monists, philosophers, and philanthropists.”

Srimad-Bhagavatam 7.9.44 purport

Srimad-Bhagavatam 7.9.44, LA

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Dec 092014

Srila_Bhaktisiddhanta_Sarasvati_with_booksToday is the disappearance day of Srila Bhaktisiddhanta Sarasvati Thakura, our Srila Prabhupada’s spiritual master. As Srila Prabhupada explained to us, “Srila Bhaktisiddhanta Sarasvati Thakura came in this world to execute the mission of Chaitanya Mahaprabhu. So he executed it. And when it was required, he left this place and went to another place to do the same business.

At Radhakund, Srila Bhaktisiddhanta instructed Srila Prabhupada, “I had a desire to print some books. If you ever get money, print books.

And in his dedication to his translation of Srimad-Bhagavatam, Srila Prabhupada wrote, “To Srila Prabhupada Bhaktisiddhanta Sarasvati Gosvami Maharaja, my spiritual master. . . . He lives forever by his divine instructions, and the follower lives with him.”

So, they are together eternally, and by their grace, we can also live with them.

—Giriraj Swami

Dec 082014

Devotee_Distributing_BooksOn December 1, in New Dvaraka, Los Angeles, I gave a talk on tasting and distributing Krsna consciousness, in relation to the December book marathon. A transcript follows. . . .

We have again reached December, that most auspicious time of year when the book-distribution marathon takes place. To honor the occasion we shall read two verses from Srimad-Bhagavatam that embody the devotee’s mood in distributing Krsna consciousness.

naivodvije para duratyaya-vaitaranyas
soce tato vimukha-cetasa indriyartha-
maya-sukhaya bharam udvahato vimudhan

“O best of the great personalities, I am not at all afraid of material existence, for wherever I stay I am fully absorbed in thoughts of Your glories and activities. My concern is only for the fools and rascals who are making elaborate plans for material happiness and maintaining their families, societies, and countries. I am simply concerned with love for them.” (SB 7.9.43)

prayena deva munayah sva-vimukti-kama
maunam caranti vijane na parartha-nisthah
naitan vihaya krpanan vimumuksa eko
nanyam tvad asya saranam bhramato ’nupasye

“My dear Lord Nrsimhadeva, I see that there are many saintly persons indeed, but they are interested only in their own deliverance. Not caring for the big cities and towns, they go to the Himalayas or the forest to meditate with vows of silence [mauna-vrata]. They are not interested in delivering others. As for me, however, I do not wish to be liberated alone, leaving aside all these poor fools and rascals. I know that without Krsna consciousness, without taking shelter of Your lotus feet, one cannot be happy. Therefore I wish to bring them back to shelter at Your lotus feet.” (SB 7.9.44)

To distribute Krsna consciousness, we must have Krsna consciousness. These verses are about Prahlada Maharaja, and in a way they are also about Srila Prabhupada, who in his purport expressed his own mood—and about us, how Srila Prabhupada wants us to execute Krsna consciousness. Prahlada Maharaja and Srila Prabhupada were on a very high level of Krsna consciousness, but even on our own level we can experience something of what they experienced, that wherever we are we can get relief from material miseries and anxieties by taking shelter of the holy name. We can joyfully chant in the temple room, in the association of devotees, before the Deities, and in the presence of Tulasi-devi—but one can chant anywhere, even on traveling sankirtana. One can close one’s eyes and chant and hear and no longer be in the material world—actually be with Krsna. Continue reading »

Dec 062014

11.30.14_Wedding_LABhakti Charu Swami, Svavasa dasa, and Giriraj Swami spoke during the wedding ceremony of Sri Goloka dasa and Rupal Parekh.

“The demigods are praying, ‘Gayanti devah kila gitakani: Please allow us to take a human birth.’ That is why the human form of life is so special. It is a big responsibility. The purpose of a man and a woman getting married is to provide some deserving souls with a human form so they can fulfill the purpose of their existence. That is why this ceremony is so sacred. Not that man and woman get together haphazardly and accidentally produce some children. It is a very systematic process called samskara, which is a process of purification.”

— Bhakti Charu Swami

Bhakti Charu Swami
Svavasa dasa
Giriraj Swami

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Dec 032014

prabhupada_pointing“A disciple asked Srila Prabhupada, ‘We have to follow the authority, so does it mean that the authority must be right?’ Srila Prabhupada replied that you may still maintain the conviction that on a particular point you were right — but you still must follow the authority. He gave the example that if someone is driving a car and you think there is a better way to reach the destination, you can tell the driver, ‘I think it would be better to go this way.’ The driver may or may not agree to follow your suggestion, but you have to accept his conclusion because he’s in the driver’s seat. Still, you can maintain the view that if he had gone the way you suggested it would have been better. That is not wrong. But you have to go along with the driver, because he’s behind the wheel.”

11.29.14 Home Program, Moorpark, CA

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Dec 022014


Today, Moksada Ekadasi, is the advent date of the Bhagavad-gita, when Sri Krishna spoke the Gita to Arjuna, and to honor the occasion, we present a discussion on yoga and the Gita.                                      — Giriraj Swami

The Bhagavad-gita was spoken approximately five thousand years ago by Lord Krishna, who is accepted by Vedic authorities as the Supreme Personality of Godhead. When Krishna speaks, He does not speak in ordinary prose; He speaks in poetry and with melody. Thus His words have been recorded as the Bhagavad-gita, “The Song of God.”

God is a person, just as we are persons, but unlike us, He is not a conditioned soul. He is not limited like we are, but still He is an individual. The Bible says, “God created man in His own image.” Even logically, whatever faculties we have, whatever qualities we have, God must also have—and more. We have the faculty to think, to feel, to perceive, to speak, and to act. And God has these same faculties. The Vedanta-sutra says, janmady asya yatah: the Absolute Truth is He from whom everything emanates. Whatever exists in the creation of God must also exist in God, the creator. So God has all the same faculties we have, but in Him they exist in perfection. He thinks, but His thinking is perfect; He speaks, and His speaking is perfect; He acts, and His actions are perfect. Everything about Him is perfect. And the Bhagavad-gita is the record of God’s spoken words, His song.

As conditioned souls, we tend to think of individuality as a conditioned state. When people hear that God is a person, they often retort, “How can you say that God is a person? You are limiting God. If you give God a form . . .” Of course, we don’t give God a form, but they say, “If you give God a form, you are limiting God.” And when we view things from the material perspective, from the conditioned state, that makes sense. But when we look at things that way, we are actually applying our limited experience in the material world and extending it with material reasoning to reach a false conclusion: If we have form and we are limited, then if God has form He must also be limited.

Actually, God is beyond material duality. We cannot understand what God is by concluding that He must be the opposite of us. We have form and we are limited—if I am sitting here in Imperial Beach I cannot simultaneously be somewhere else—but God has form and He is unlimited. God is here, and He is also in New York, He is also in Nairobi, and He is also in Shanghai. He is in this room, in the next room, in the wall, in the ceiling—He is within every atom, and He is in the spaces between the atoms. He has form, but His form is not like ours. It is not material; it is not limited. His form is spiritual and unlimited. Continue reading »

Nov 272014

George_Harrison_Chanting_Hare_Krishna_in_VrindavanI will never forget the moment when I heard that George Harrison had passed away, shortly after Thanksgiving in 2001. My strong feelings of separation surprised me—and made me think how important and dear George must have been to Srila Prabhupada and Sri Krishna. And I remembered my own little experience with George in Bombay.

In 1974, almost exactly forty years ago, George came to visit Srila Prabhupada at Hare Krishna Land, in Juhu. I took him around the construction site, and he expressed his appreciation for the work and encouraged us in our efforts. When at twelve-thirty we heard the conch shell blow for raja-bhoga arati, we proceeded to the small temple shed, where George chose a pair of karatalas and sang with the other devotees. Puri dasa, originally from Scotland, was doing the arati, and when he turned to offer the ghee lamp to the devotees and saw George, his hand trembled so much that, as he told me later, he was afraid the ghee lamp would fall.

After the arati, I arranged a full plate of maha-prasada for George and accompanied him to meet Srila Prabhupada in Prabhupada’s one-bedroom apartment. I left them together and returned to my office.

About two hours later, a pudgy ten- or twelve-year-old boy with glasses—the son of our friend and supporter Pranjivan G. Valia of the “Hare Krishna” house in the Juhu Vile Parle development—came to my little office at the back of the property. “I heard George Harrison is here,” he said. “Yes,” I replied, “he is.” “I want to see him,” he stated. “Well, you can’t. He’s meeting with Srila Prabhupada.” He looked me straight in the eyes—he was sizing me up—and concluded that he wasn’t going to get anywhere with me, then turned, dashed to the stairs, and bolted down the steps. “Oh my God,” I thought. “He is determined; he’s going to try to find him.” So I bounded down the stairs in hot pursuit.

I ran across to the next building, and when I reached the second landing, in front of Srila Prabhupada’s flat, I found the door ajar. The boy stood just inside, and beyond him George sat cross-legged with his back erect, like a yogi—like a perfect disciple listening attentively at the feet of his master.

With the abrupt appearance of the boy, Srila Prabhupada and George ended their meeting, exchanging some final words. George was very gracious and appreciative, and Prabhupada was very affectionate and kind.

I was upset that the boy had interrupted their meeting, but they took it as a matter of course. Maybe it was time for the meeting to end; maybe they took it as Krsna’s arrangement.

The next year, on a morning walk in Sanand, Gujarat, Srila Prabhupada recalled the meeting. “He is very nice boy—George. I have studied. Very good boy. He showed me in Bombay. He came to see me in Bombay, last year. He is keeping Jagannatha within his beadbag and chanting.”

I and many thousands—perhaps millions—of people are thankful to George for all the service he rendered to Srila Prabhupada and the Krishna consciousness movement, for making the holy name of Lord Krishna—the Hare Krishna maha-mantra—and the principles of Krishna consciousness so accessible to people all over the world and for attracting so many souls to the all-attractive Supreme Personality of Godhead, Krishna.

Hare Krishna.

—Giriraj Swami

Nov 262014

SPpranamasAt the Laguna Beach Ratha-yatra, a young man asked me why God created us. He appreciated my answer, but then he had another question. “If God is all-knowing,” he said, “He would have known that some of us would become bad, and if God is all-powerful, He could have made us different. Why didn’t He?” I told him that because God created us to enjoy loving reciprocation with Him, we must have free will, because love is voluntary. As Srila Prabhupada explained, “It is not some mechanical process—if we force in such a way they will come out like this—no. We are persons, and Krishna is a person, and our relationship with Krishna He leaves open as a voluntary agreement always, and that voluntary attitude—‘Yes, Krishna, I shall gladly co-operate, whatever You say’—that ready willingness to obey is only possible if there is love. Forcing will not make me agree. But if there is love, oh, I shall gladly do it. That is bhakti, that is Krishna consciousness.”

On another occasion, Srila Prabhupada elaborated: “God is great, and we are dependent on God. Therefore the natural conclusion is that we have to serve God. This is the whole comment. Serving means with love. Now just like these boys, my disciples, they are serving me. Whatever I say, they are immediately executing. Why? I am an Indian; I am a foreigner. Two or three years ago I was not known to them, nor they were known to me. Why they are doing that? Because it is love. Serving means developing love. So unless you develop your love for God you cannot serve Him. Anywhere. Whenever you give some service, it is based on love. Just like mother giving service to the helpless child. Why? Love. So similarly, our life will be perfect when our love is perfect with the perfect Supreme Personality of Godhead. Then it is all right. You have to learn this. This is Krishna consciousness: in a relationship with Krishna. Just like I am loving my disciples, my disciples are loving me. Why? What is the medium? Krishna.”

And again, in a lecture in Bombay: “Brahmacari means living under direction of guru, guror hitam [only for the benefit of the guru]. And guror hitam: how he can be simply thinking of benefiting the spiritual master. Unless that position comes, nobody can serve guru. It is not an artificial thing. The brahmacari, the disciple, must have genuine love for guru. Then he can be under his control.”

Why didn’t God force us to be good? Because without free will, without individuality, we would be unable to enjoy loving reciprocation with Him. And without pure, spiritual love, how would we ever experience the happiness for which we were created?

—Giriraj Swami

Nov 192014

Lord-Chaitanya-at-Rathyatra“During the Ratha-yatra festival, Lord Chaitanya manifested the mood of Srimati Radharani wanting to bring Krishna back to Vrindavan. He would pull the chariot, and in that emotional process He was pulling Krishna back to Vrindavan. We also want to install Krishna in our hearts. This body is compared to a chariot, and just as Lord Jagannatha was placed on a chariot at Ratha-yatra, we also want to place Lord Jagannatha, Krishna, on the chariot, or altar, of our hearts. But in order to do that we have to cleanse our hearts.”

Kirtan, Laguna Beach
Ratha-yatra Talk, Laguna Beach

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