Giriraj Swami

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

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

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 »

Dec 222016

grs-presenting-hindi-wts-to-srila-prabhupadaTwo copies of the Hindi edition of Watering the Seed just arrived from India, and we offered them to our deity of Srila Prabhupada here in Carpinteria. The volume appears very nice, and I am indebted to Radha Charan, Charan Renu, Dhananjaya Krishna, Radha Priya, Hari Priya, and all the other friends and devotees who worked to bring the project to fruition. And I must also acknowledge Kalachandji, Visakha Priya, Varsabhanavi, Nikunja Vilasini, Mayapriya, and all the others who helped with the English edition. I pray that Srila Prabhupada will continue to inspire them in Krishna consciousness and that this Hindi edition will serve to bring many souls closer to Srila Prabhupada and his beloved lords, Sri Chaitanya Mahaprabhu and Lord Sri Krishna.

—Giriraj Swami


Dec 192016

srila-bhaktisiddhanta-sarasvati-thakura-disap-carp-2016Pictured here is our small deity of Srila Bhaktisiddhanta Sarasvati Thakura, at our ashram in Carpinteria, on his disappearance day, just before we offered him bhoga, pushpanjali, and arati. My spiritual master, Srila Prabhupada, said, “Bhaktisiddhanta Sarasvati Thakura came in this world to execute the mission of Caitanya Mahaprabhu. So he executed it. And when it was required, he left this place and went to another place to do the same business.” And Srila Prabhupada prayed to his spiritual master, Bhaktisiddhanta Sarasvati Thakura, to be merciful to us, Srila Sarasvati Thakura’s servant’s servants.

—Giriraj Swami


Delivering the Antidote to Today’s Ills

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Dec 052016

Srimad-Bhagavakrishna-embracing-calftam contains a discussion between Dharma, in the form of a bull, and the Earth, in the form of a cow. Eventually he asks her, “The so-called administrators are now bewildered by the influence of this age of Kali, and thus they have put all state affairs into disorder. Are you now lamenting this disorder? Now the general populace does not follow the rules and regulations for eating, sleeping, drinking, mating, etc., and they are inclined to perform such anywhere and everywhere. Are you unhappy because of this?” (SB 1.16.22)

In his purport, Srila Prabhupada writes, “The so-called administrators are all untrained in the affairs of a ksatriya. The ksatriyas are meant for administration, as the brahmanas are meant for knowledge and guidance. The word ksatra-bandhu refers to the so-called administrators or persons promoted to the post of the administrator without proper training by culture and tradition. Nowadays they are promoted to such exalted posts by the votes of the people who are themselves fallen in the rules and regulations of life. How can such people select a proper man when they are themselves fallen in the standard of life? Therefore, by the influence of the age of Kali, everywhere, politically, socially or religiously, everything is topsy-turvy, and therefore for the sane man it is all regrettable.”

What Srila Prabhupada wrote more than fifty years ago is relevant today. And the antidote would appear to be to educate people in Vedic knowledge as presented in Srila Prabhupada’s translations of Srimad-Bhagavatam and other books—delivered to them by people such as me and you.

Hare Krishna.

—Giriraj Swami

Gratitude for God’s Gifts

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Nov 242016

krishna-sharing-food-with-his-associatesIf we are at all aware of how dependent we are on God—for the food we eat, the water we drink, the air we breathe, and our very ability to eat and drink and breathe, to think and feel and do everything else we do—we will feel grateful and want to reciprocate God’s kindness. We will want to do something for He (or She or They) who has done, and continues to do, so much for us.

We often take things for granted until we lose them. I use my right hand to chant on meditation beads, and one morning I found that I had severe arthritic pain in my hand and could no longer use it for chanting. I had taken the use of my hand for granted, but when I lost its use, I resolved to never take my hand for granted and to always use it in the best way in God’s service.

How can we attempt to return some of God’s favor, some of God’s care—and love—for us? My spiritual master, Srila Bhaktivedanta Swami Prabhupada, gave one answer:

“Whatever you have got by pious or impious activities, you cannot change. But you can change your position, by Krishna consciousness. That you can change. Other things you cannot change. If you are white, you cannot become black, or if you are black, you cannot become white. That is not possible. But you can become a first-class Krishna conscious person. Whether you are black or white, it doesn’t matter. This is Krishna consciousness. Therefore our endeavor should be how to become Krishna conscious. Other things we cannot change. This is not possible.

tasyaiva hetoh prayateta kovido
na labhyate yad bhramatam upary adhah
tal labhyate duhkhavad anyatah sukham
kalena sarvatra gabhira-ramhasa
      [Srimad-Bhagavatam 1.5.18]

Kalena, by time, you will get whatever you are destined. Don’t bother about so-called economic development. So far as food is concerned, Krishna is supplying. Eko bahunam yo vidadhati kaman. He is supplying even cats and dogs and ants. Why not you? There is no need of bothering Krishna, ‘God, give us our daily bread.’ He will give you. Don’t bother. Try to become very faithful servant of God. ‘Oh, God has given me so many things. So let me give my energy to serve Krishna.’ This is required. This is Krishna consciousness. ‘I have taken so much, life after life, from Krishna. Now let me dedicate this life to Krishna.’ This is Krishna consciousness. ‘I will not let this life go uselessly like cats and dogs. Let me utilize it for Krishna consciousness.’ ”

I pray that I will dedicate this life and everything I have—everything that God has given me—fully in God’s service, following His pure devotees.

manasa, deho, geho, yo kichu mora
arpilun tuya pade, nanda-kisora

“Mind, body, and home, whatever may be mine, I surrender at Your lotus feet, O youthful son of Nanda [Krishna]!” (Bhaktivinoda Thakura, Saranagati)

—Giriraj Swami

Not Shaken, Never Disturbed

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Nov 222016

Reading Srila Prabhupada’s Light of the Bhagavata, I was struck by text 12 and his commentary on it:

storm-with-lightning-from-light-of-the-bhagavata“The mountains, although being struck by torrents of rain during the rainy season, are not shaken, just as those whose hearts are dedicated to the transcendental Personality of Godhead are never disturbed, even when harassed by great misfortune.” (LOB 12)

“Because a person who is spiritually advanced accepts any adverse condition of life as the mercy of the Lord, he is completely eligible to enter into the spiritual kingdom. Even though a person takes to the devotional service of the Supreme Lord, he may sometimes become diseased, impoverished, or disappointed by life’s events. A true devotee of the Lord always considers these sufferings to be due to past sinful activities, and thus without becoming disturbed he patiently awaits the mercy of the Supreme Lord. Such devotees are compared to high mountains, which are never agitated in any way, even when struck by powerful torrents of rain in the rainy season. Rather, such devotees remain humble in spiritual enlightenment. Free from pride and envy, they easily gain the mercy of the Lord and go back home, back to Godhead.” (LOB 12 purport)

—Giriraj Swami

A Divine Elixir

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Sep 232016

grs-with-chitraleka-and-kosha-rupa-after-classIt is said that wherever Lord Rama’s glories are chanted, Hanuman goes to that place. Yesterday after Deity greeting I was chanting in my quarters in Dallas when I received a text message saying, “Chitralekha is speaking about Srila Prabhupada now.” I immediately left for the temple room, remembering Hanuman: Even though I am like a monkey—or my mind is like a monkey—I wanted to hear her speak about Prabhupada. And what I experienced was an unprecedented flow of divine nectar. I heard things about Srila Prabhupada that I had never heard before and had new deep thoughts and realizations about him. The talk was an elixir for my body, mind, and soul. It is now available on the ISKCON Dallas SoundCloud: Chitraleka’s talk follows a short class on Srimad-Bhagavatam.

Hare Krishna.

Yours in service,
Giriraj Swami

Serving Together

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Aug 302016

GRS-KBDG-RTS-VD-Menlo-Park-cropFor three days, many wonderful devotees and friends celebrated Sri Krishna Janmastami and Srila Prabhupada’s Vyasa-puja at ISKCON of Silicon Valley, in Mountain View, California, and after the festivities on the last day Kesava Bharati Dasa Goswami, Rtadhvaja Swami, Vaisesika Prabhu, and I met at my hosts’ house in Menlo Park. For several hours we shared thoughts and realizations in Krishna consciousness, as advised by Lord Krishna in the Bhagavad-gita (10.9):

mac-citta mad-gata-prana
bodhayantah parasparam
kathayantas ca mam nityam
tusyanti ca ramanti ca

“The thoughts of My pure devotees dwell in Me, their lives are fully devoted to My service, and they derive great satisfaction and bliss from always enlightening one another and conversing about Me.”

In terms of my personal service, they all implored, or instructed, me to immerse myself in the Juhu book, even at the cost (temporarily) of other worthy endeavors, and to arrange my life to facilitate that process and that project, which, they said, was of paramount importance.

Hare Krishna.

Yours in service,
Giriraj Swami