Giriraj Swami

Jun 262017
 

VrindadeviRecently our beautiful deity of Vrindadevi arrived at our ashram in Carpinteria. As Srila Visvanatha Cakravarti Thakura prays in his Vrindadevi-astaka (3, 6, 8):

samasta-vaikuntha-siromanau sri-
krsnasya vrndavana-dhanya-dhamni
dattadhikare vrsabhanu-putrya
vrnde namas te caranaravindam

“Vrishabhanu’s daughter Radha made you guardian of Krishna’s opulent and auspicious abode of Vrindavan, the crest jewel of all Vaikuntha planets. O Vrinda, I bow to your lotus feet.”

rasabhilaso vasatis ca vrnda-
vane tvad-isanghri-saroja-seva
labhya ca pumsam krpaya tavaiva
vrnde namas te caranaravindam

“By your mercy people attain residence in Vrindavan, the desire to serve your masters’ lotus feet, and the desire to assist in the rasa dance. O Vrinda, I bow to your lotus feet.”

bhaktya vihina aparadha-laksaih
ksiptas ca kamadi-taranga-madhye
kpamayi tvam saranam prapanna
vrnde namas te caranaravindam

“O merciful one, I am devoid of devotion, and millions of offenses have thrown me into the turbulent waves of lust, anger, greed, and other faults. O Vrinda, I take shelter of your lotus feet.”

Hare Krishna.

Yours in service,
Giriraj Swami

Jun 252017
 

Mahaprabhu at Ratha-yatra in PuriOn 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! Continue reading »

Jun 222017
 

Prabhupada's lotus feet, JuhuVyasa-puja Offering

This booklet of short stories is a Vyasa-puja offering to a dear godbrother, His Holiness Giriraj Swami, who selflessly gave his every life breath to serving Srila Prabhupada’s instruction by building this grand Sri Sri Radha-Rasabihariji Temple complex, thereby helping Srila Prabhupada to save the spiritual lives of millions of persons from Bombay and abroad.

 

Introduction

Recently I heard some devotees remarking that nowadays Giriraj Maharaja is manifesting symptoms of being very advanced, such as whatever he desires, whether it is for good of ISKCON, or for the good of his own disciples, or even for the good of humanity, Sri Krishna fulfills that desire. This remark made me reflect back over the years, and I considered whether there actually was ever a time that Giriraj Maharaja was not acting on the pure-devotee platform. With his mind cemented on the lotus feet of Srila Prabhupada, he was always completely detached from worldly affairs and the bodily concept of life. Though detached from family and former friends, he was at the same time congenial to them and a genuine well-wisher. He was always completely surrendered to Srila Prabhupada and could understand, and thus execute, his innermost desires for managing the temple, the devotees, and for preaching in Bombay and around the world. He was always a humble servant of his senior sannyasi godbrothers, offering all respect and giving them assistance in so many ways whenever they came to Hare Krishna Land. He was always expert and a perfectionist in everything he did.

One of the symptoms of someone on the brahma-bhuta platform is that he is completely fearless. Giriraj Maharaja exhibited this many times, especially during the temple demolition and the famous Malhotra murder case—and other times as well. His manifestation of fearlessness is quite astounding to an ordinary individual.

As I recollect back over the years on my association with Giriraj Maharaja, I see that there are many experiences which can be instructive, and therefore I would like to share them with you. As I was his secretary for many years, we went through many pastimes together, though not exactly “together,” because I was always on the ground looking up at the lotus feet of a person totally in tune with Srila Prabhupada’s heart. Really I have no qualification to glorify such an exalted devotee, but I hope that these words of appreciation will inspire some of you to take shelter of His Holiness Giriraj Swami Maharaja.

 

The Boston Temple Commander

My first introduction to Giriraj Maharaja was even before I ever met him personally. When I was in the Boston temple in 1972, the devotees there told me about this wonderful brahmacari who had been the temple commander. He used to work so hard all day—personally doing much of the temple service plus going out on sankirtana, supervising temple activities, and engaging devotees in service—that even until late at night, sometimes at 11:00 p.m., he was just then trying to chant his Gayatri mantras.

Though he had left Boston in 1970 to join Srila Prabhupada in India, the Boston devotees could not stop talking about him and his wonderful qualities.

 

Beautiful Eyes

I came to India in 1973, during the time when Giriraj Maharaja was in America for a few months because of illness. When he finally returned to India, I was told that I would be his secretary. Really I just wanted to go back to America in those days, and I started begging Tamal Krishna Maharaja to allow me to return.

But he simply told me, “Just look at Giriraj! Look at his beautiful eyes! He has such beautiful eyes. He is so pure and innocent. If you just stay here and serve him, you will become purified.” So I thought, “Yes, that’s what I want! I really want to become purified.” So in this way Tamal Krishna Maharaja was able to convince me to stay in India and become Giriraj Maharaja’s secretary. Continue reading »

Jun 212017
 

Mother Aditya in VrindavanYesterday, on Ekadasi, Aditya dasi left her body in Sri Vrindavan dhama, while a close devotee was chanting in her ear. She was a pure, devoted soul who sincerely served Srila Prabhupada and his Lords for the last forty-five years. She was our secretary in Juhu, and after Prabhupada’s departure she did wonderful service in his quarters. To assist me with the preaching, she even visited Pakistan, where she was much appreciated and loved by the local ladies. Later, when I was kept out of India because of visa problems, she moved to Vrindavan to serve Prabhupada there. She was ill these last days and wanted to leave her body on Ekadasi, and Prabhupada fulfilled her desire. We feel her separation, but we take solace in knowing that she has gone to continue her service to him and his Lords in a better situation. I am praying for her. And I am reminded of Sri Caitanya-caritamrta’s description of Haridasa Thakura’s funeral ceremony: “Thereafter, Sri Caitanya Mahaprabhu bade farewell to all the devotees, and He Himself, with mixed feelings of happiness and distress, took rest.”

Hare Krishna.

In humble service,
Giriraj Swami

 

Jun 182017
 

Srila Prabhupada with father and sonPrabhupada expressed his appreciation for his father in his dedication to his book Krsna, the Supreme Personality of Godhead, “To My Father, Gour Mohan De (1849-1930)”—“A pure devotee of Krsna, who raised me as a Krsna conscious child from the beginning of my life. In my boyhood ages he instructed me how to play the mrdanga. He gave me Radha-Krsna vigraha to worship, and he gave me Jagannatha ratha to duly observe the festival as my childhood play. He was kind to me, and I imbibed from him the ideas later on solidified by my spiritual master, the eternal father.”

As devotees, we try to encourage and facilitate our children’s Krishna consciousness, as Prabhupada’s father did with him—an effort that is solidified when our children find their eternal spiritual masters.

Later, Srila Prabhupada wrote to one of his disciples, “You have accepted me as father, so I have also accepted you as my dear and real son. Relationship of father and son on spiritual platform is real and eternal; on the material platform such relationship is ephemeral and temporary. Although I cannot give you anything as father, still I can pray to Krishna for your more and more advancement in Krishna consciousness. Your sincerity and service mood will always help you in advancing your genuine cause.”

We are indebted to all our fathers, biological and preceptorial. To those still with us, we wish you Happy Father’s Day. To those who have left us, we love you and miss you, and we shall try to act in such a way as will please you—and Krishna, the Supreme Father.

Hare Krishna.

Yours in service,
Giriraj Swami

No Bull

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May 192017
 

Today I read: “Reality. It uNo Bullsed to seem so simple—reality just was, like the weather. Why question it, let alone disagree about it? And then came the assault, a mind-bending stream of ‘fake news,’ ‘alternative facts,’ and lies disguised as truths that cast so many of us tumbling into a state of moral panic. How did we get here?”

That statement and question brought me to Srimad-Bhagavatam (1.7.24–25), where the pious king Pariksit says to Dharma in the form of a bull, “In the age of Satya [truthfulness] your four legs were established by the four principles of austerity, cleanliness, mercy, and truthfulness. But it appears that three of your legs are broken due to rampant irreligion in the form of pride, lust for women, and intoxication. You are now standing on one leg only, which is your truthfulness, and you are somehow or other hobbling along. But quarrel personified [Kali], flourishing by deceit, is also trying to destroy that leg.”

Now, is there any solution? In his purports, Srila Prabhupada says, “The preaching of the Bhagavatam principles will automatically render all men austere, clean both inside and outside, merciful to the suffering, and truthful in daily behavior. That is the way of correcting the flaws of human society, which are very prominently exhibited at the present moment. . . . The revival of bhagavata-dharma can save human civilization from falling prey to evils of all description.”

Hare Krishna.

Yours in service,
Giriraj Swami

Celebrating Nrsimha-caturdasi with Srila Prabhupada in Juhu

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May 112017
 

Narasimha and Prahlada in dramaOn Nrsimha-caturdasi in Bombay in May 1974, the devotees performed a drama of the story of Prahlada, Hiranyakasipu, and Nrsimhadeva, and afterward, the actors, still in their costumes, sat down for Prabhupada’s lecture. “Today is the appearance day of Lord Nrsimhadeva,” he began. “I am so pleased that within such a short time these boys have nicely learned how to play, and especially I have to thank Mr. Hiranyakasipu,” at which everyone laughed and applauded. “Mr. Hiranyakasipu has played his part very nicely.”

Prabhupada concluded his talk, “So the atheist and the theist will never agree. But the theist will never submit to the atheist. This is the principle. Prahlada Maharaja was put into so many troubles by his father, but he never forgot chanting . . .

“So we should take lessons from this story, that even in a dangerous position, we should not be forgetful of Krishna. Krishna will save us. It is said in the Bhagavad-gita,

yam labdhva caparam labham
manyate nadhikam tatah
yasmin sthite gurunapi
duhkhena na vicalyate
      [Bg 6.22]

‘Established thus, one never departs from the truth, and upon gaining this he thinks there is no greater gain. Being situated in such a position, one is never shaken, even in the midst of the greatest difficulty.’ Krishna consciousness is so nice that if one gets Krishna consciousness, yam labdhva caparam labham, aparam labham, any other benefit or gain is never considered. We are hankering after getting this, that, this, that, so many things. Dehi, dehi, dehi, dehi. But as soon as you get Krishna consciousness, you will be satisfied. As Dhruva Maharaja said, svamin krtartho ’smi varam na yace. Just like Prahlada Maharaja—he was offered all benediction: ‘My dear Prahlada, whatever you like, you can ask.’ He never asked anything. But he was so kind. That is the example of a Vaishnava son in the family. Despite so much troubles given by his father, still, he begged from Narasimhadeva, ‘My Lord, my father has committed so many offenses. Kindly give him liberation.’ He did not ask anything for himself. So Nrsimhadeva immediately said, ‘Why do you speak of your father? Your father’s father, his father, fourteen generations—all are liberated because a son like you is in this family.’ This is the benefit. If a son becomes a pure Vaishnava, devotee, he can deliver fourteen generations. That is a special prerogative because he is born in a certain family. So, what we can give service to the family, nation, materially? If we become devotee, we can give best service to the nation, to the family, to the humanity. That is the philosophy.

“So our Krishna consciousness movement is preaching this philosophy, that ‘You take to Krishna consciousness; your life will be perfect.’ And the method is very simple.

harer nama harer nama harer namaiva kevalam
kalau nasty eva nasty eva nasty eva gatir anyatha

Three times. Three times means yajna-dana-tapah-kriya. There are many other things: meditation, sacrifices, worship in the temple. In this age all these things are impossible to be performed, but even a child can chant Hare Krishna maha-mantra. That is proved here. Whenever there is Hare Krishna maha-mantra, even a child can take part, and old man can take part. That was the teaching of Sri Prahlada Maharaja, and we are following his footsteps. Let us stick to his principle, mahajano yena gatah sa panthah, and thus become more and more advanced in Krishna consciousness.”

Hare Krishna.

Yours in service,
Giriraj Swami

Conquering the Unconquerable Lord Nrsimha

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May 092017
 

Narasimha and PrahladaNrsimhadeva tells Prahlada, “When a devotee looks at Me without hesitation and speaks to Me affectionately, My pleasure grows with every new moment. Although I am eternally free from all limitations, such behavior binds Me with ropes of love. Although I am unconquerable, My devotees can conquer Me. And although I am subject to no one’s control, I become their subordinate subject. I belong only to him who has shown his love for Me by giving up all affection for family and possessions, and such a devotee also belongs to Me. Neither he nor I has any other true friend. My desires are always automatically fulfilled, but I take various births in this world just to bestow on My devotees the satisfaction of all their desires.”

Hari-bhakti-sudhodaya (14.28–32), quoted in the commentary on Sri Brhad-bhagavatamrta 1.4.9 by Srila Sanatana Gosvami

Hare Krishna.

Yours in service,
Giriraj Swami

A Vaishnava is an Ocean of Mercy — Srila Prabhupada on Nrsimha-caturdasi

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May 092017
 

TwPrahlada and Narasimhao days after I first saw Srila Prabhupada and the devotees at Brandeis University in Boston, he gave a beautiful talk about the nature of a Vaishnava, how a devotee is an ocean of mercy, on Nrsimha-caturdasi, May 1, 1969:

“Atheist is so unkind, cruel, that he is prepared to kill his own son, beloved son, five years old. That is atheism. And theism, the father who tortured him so much—after the death of his father, he’s praying to Nrsimhadeva, ‘Please excuse my father.’ This is theism. So that is the difference between Krishna consciousness and ordinary consciousness. Vaishnavas are very kind to everyone. Vancha kalpatarubhyas ca krpa-sindhubhya eva ca. You utter this prayer, krpa-sindhubhya eva ca. Vaishnava is an ocean of mercy. There is no end. As you cannot draw all the water from the ocean—it is not possible—similarly, a Vaishnava, a devotee, is an ocean of mercy. You can draw from it as much mercy as you like; still, it is full.

“So, Prahlada Maharaja is the symbolic representation of Vaishnava. Try to be not imitator, but follower. Don’t try to imitate: ‘Oh, Prahlada Maharaja was thrown into boiling oil. Let me try, fall into the boiling oil.’ No. That is imitation. First you become like Prahlada Maharaja, then that will be possible. Don’t try to make experiment. That is not good. But try to follow. Mahajano yena gatah sa panthah. Follow mahajanas, great personalities, what they have done. You cannot imitate them. You have to follow them. You have to follow the instructions of Krishna or His representative, but not imitate them. Then you’ll fall down. Anusarana, not anukarana. Anukarana means imitation; but anusarana, following. So what Prahlada Maharaja did, we have to follow his example. His example was that in spite of continuous torturing by his father, he never forgot Krishna. This we have to follow. In spite of all kinds of inconveniences and torture by the atheist class of men, we shall never forget Krishna consciousness. There are many examples. Just like Lord Jesus Christ, he was tortured, he was crucified, but he never agreed that there is no God. So that should be our motto. This is following. Either you be Christian or Hindu or any, but be God conscious. Krishna conscious means God conscious. And in any circumstances, do not forget. That is called saranagati. That is surrender.”

I pray to follow in the footsteps of Sri Prahlada Maharaja, Srila Prabhupada, and all pure Vaishnavas in their line.

Hare Krishna.

Yours in service,
Giriraj Swami

Prabhupada’s Son, Prabhupada’s Moon

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May 082017
 

Jayananda Dasa LA 1977Today is Jayananda Prabhu’s disappearance day. I wrote this haiku for his disappearance anniversary twenty-five years ago:

Prabhupada’s full moon
Beams upon my heart’s lotus—
Guru’s service blooms

 

Hare Krishna.

Yours in service,
Giriraj Swami