Giriraj Swami

Jan 152020
 

Today, Makara-sankranti, is the forty-second anniversary of the grand opening of Sri Sri Radha-Rasabihari’s temple in Juhu. On this day I have submitted the final manuscript of my book about Srila Prabhupada and Juhu, entitled A Promise Fulfilled, so that it can be formatted for publication. Attached is a lovely photo of Sri Sri Radha-Rasabihari from today.

Hare Krishna.

Yours in service,
Giriraj Swami

Jan 142020
 

 For Gopala Bhatta Gosvami’s appearance day I thought to read a verse and purport about him from Sri Caitanya-caritamrta, Adi-lila, Chapter Ten, “The Branches of the Caitanya Tree”:

TEXT 105

sri gopala bhatta eka sakha sarvottama
rupa-sanatana-sange yanra prema-alapana

TRANSLATION

Sri Gopala Bhatta Gosvami, the forty-seventh branch, was one of the great and exalted branches of the tree. He always engaged in discourses about love of Godhead in the company of Rupa Gosvami and Sanatana Gosvami.

PURPORT by Srila Prabhupada

Sri Gopala Bhatta Gosvami was the son of Venkata Bhatta, a resident of Sri Rangam. Gopala Bhatta formerly belonged to the disciplic succession of the Ramanuja-sampradaya but later became part of the Gaudiya-sampradaya. In the year 1433 Sakabda (A.D. 1511), when Lord Caitanya Mahaprabhu was touring South India, He stayed for four months during the period of Caturmasya at the house of Venkata Bhatta, who then got the opportunity to serve the Lord to his heart’s content. Gopala Bhatta also got the opportunity to serve the Lord at this time. Sri Gopala Bhatta Gosvami was later initiated by his uncle, the great sannyasi Prabodhananda Sarasvati. Both the father and the mother of Gopala Bhatta Gosvami were extremely fortunate, for they dedicated their entire lives to the service of Lord Caitanya Mahaprabhu. They allowed Gopala Bhatta Gosvami to go to Vrndavana, and they gave up their lives thinking of Sri Caitanya Mahaprabhu. When Lord Caitanya was later informed that Gopala Bhatta Gosvami had gone to Vrndavana and met Sri Rupa and Sanatana Gosvami, He was very pleased, and He advised Sri Rupa and Sanatana to accept Gopala Bhatta Gosvami as their younger brother and take care of him. Sri Sanatana Gosvami, out of his great affection for Gopala Bhatta Gosvami, compiled the Vaisnava smrti named Hari-bhakti-vilasa and published it under his name. Under the instruction of Srila Rupa and Sanatana, Gopala Bhatta Gosvami installed one of the seven principal deities of Vrndavana, the Radha-ramana deity. The sevaits (priests) of the Radha-ramana temple belong to the Gaudiya-sampradaya.

COMMENT

Actually, one of the families entrusted with the Deity service at the Radha-ramana Mandir has a history of relations with the line of Srila Bhaktivinoda Thakura and Srila Bhaktisiddhanta Sarasvati. Visvambhara Gosvami’s father or grandfather had relations with Srila Bhaktivinoda Thakura, the family maintained relations with Srila Bhaktisiddhanta Sarasvati Thakura, and then Visvambhara Gosvami had very friendly relations with Srila Prabhupada. And he spoke very nicely about Srila Prabhupada. Now Visvambhara Gosvami’s son Padmanabha Gosvami is also very favorable to ISKCON. In fact, ISKCON devotees often honor prasada at his home at the Radha-ramana Mandir. I also took prasada there with His Holiness Tamal Krishna Goswami, and Padmanabha Gosvami showed us a letter that Srila Prabhupada had written to his father, Visvambhara Gosvami, about how all Vaishnavas should cooperate. So, not only does the Radha-ramana temple belong to the Gaudiya-sampradaya, but at least some of the sevaits have had close relations with the line of Srila Bhaktivinoda Thakura.

PURPORT (concluded)

When Krsnadasa Kaviraja Gosvami took permission from all the Vaisnavas before writing Sri Caitanya-caritamrta, Gopala Bhatta Gosvami also gave him his blessings, but he requested him not to mention his name in the book. Therefore Krsnadasa Kaviraja Gosvami has mentioned Gopala Bhatta Gosvami only very cautiously in one or two passages of the Caitanya-caritamrta. Srila Jiva Gosvami has written in the beginning of his Tattva-sandarbha, “A devotee from southern India who was born of a brahmana family and was a very intimate friend of Rupa Gosvami and Sanatana Gosvami has written a book that he has not compiled chronologically. Therefore I, a tiny living entity known as jiva, am trying to assort the events of the book chronologically, consulting the direction of great personalities like Madhvacarya, Sridhara Svami, Ramanujacarya, and other senior Vaisnavas in the disciplic succession.” In the beginning of the Bhagavat-sandarbha there are similar statements by Srila Jiva Gosvami. Srila Gopala Bhatta Gosvami compiled a book called Sat-kriya-sara-dipika, edited the Hari-bhakti-vilasa, wrote a foreword to the Sat-sandarbha and a commentary on the Krsna-karnamrta, and installed the Radharamana Deity in Vrndavana. In the Gaura-ganoddesa-dipika (184) it is mentioned that his previous name in the pastimes of Lord Krsna was Ananga-manjari. Sometimes he is also said to have been an incarnation of Guna-manjari. Srinivasa Acarya and Gopinatha Pujari were two of his disciples.

COMMENT

Srila Gopala Bhatta Gosvami ki jaya!

One story about Gopala Bhatta Gosvami is that on the eve of Nrsimha-caturdasi all the other Gosvamis and Vaishnavas in Vrindavan were preparing to worship their Deities and hold festivals. Gopala Bhatta Gosvami had only a salagrama-sila; he didn’t have a Deity with arms and legs and a body that he could dress and decorate. So, he was feeling deprived of the opportunity to serve like the other devotees who had Deities they could serve in these ways. And out of Gopala Bhatta Gosvami’s strong desire, a salagrama-sila became manifest in the form of Radha-ramana. Radha-ramana is considered the most beautiful Deity of Krishna. He is the one original Deity of the Gosvamis that has remained in Vrindavan, while the others had to be taken elsewhere for fear of the Muslim invaders. And near the temple of Radha-ramana in Vrindavan is the samadhi of Sri Gopala Bhatta Gosvami.

Gopala Bhatta Gosvami’s uncle and siksa-guru was Prabodhananda Sarasvati. His samadhi is also located in Vrindavan, just off the parikrama path near Kaliya-ghata, which is quite near our Krishna-Balaram Mandir. So, often when we go on parikrama down the path near the Yamuna, we visit Prabodhananda Sarasvati’s samadhi and bhajana-kutira. And then we proceed to Srila Sanatana Gosvami’s samadhi. Srila Sanatana Gosvami was the most senior of the Gosvamis and was also a close associate and instructor of Gopala Bhatta Gosvami. In fact, Gopala Bhatta Gosvami worked with Sanatana Gosvami to produce the great treatise Hari-bhakti-vilasa.

I feel that Gopala Bhatta Gosvami has been especially merciful to me on two occasions. On one, I visited his bhajana-kutira at Sanketa, a place between Nandagrama and Varsana where Radha and Krishna used to meet and sometimes perform rasa-lila. Gopala Bhatta would sit and chant underground in a deep cavern, accessible only through a long, narrow passage. At the end of the passage was a somewhat roomier place where Gopala Bhatta used to chant, now marked as his bhajana-sthala. I remember going there with Tamal Krishna Goswami and others on a very hot day and struggling to crawl through the passage to the bhajana-sthala. It was very difficult, but when I finally reached there, Gopala Bhatta Gosvami was very merciful. He allowed me to chant with a glimpse of taste. And after all the devotees emerged from the cavern, I stole back in. I crawled back to Gopala Bhatta’s lotus feet, and I sat there chanting. I will never forget his mercy to me there, and I pray that he will enable me to chant with relish and love.

On the other occasion, the last time I visited Vrindavan, in Kartik of 1999, shortly before my surgery, I visited Gopala Bhatta’s samadhi near the Radha-ramana Mandir. We arrived just after raja-bhoga-arati, and the pujari was closing the doors to the samadhi-mandira. But he was kind enough to open the doors for us, to allow us darshan of Gopala Bhatta Gosvami. He gave us some flowers and caranamrta, and invited us to stay for prasada. Thus our small party, along with some local sadhus, honored Gopala Bhatta Prabhu’s maha-maha-prasadam with great relish, and we even stayed to take a little rest before, filled with bliss, we continued on our way. So, Gopala Bhatta Gosvami is very kind.

 Years later, when some of my disciples from Bombay went to Vrindavan on pilgrimage, they visited the samadhi. They told the pujaris about me, how my health no longer allowed me to visit Vraja, and asked for some prasada for me. And one of the pujaris kindly gave them a piece of cloth from the samadhi. It is very special. Now, twice a year, once on his appearance day and once on his disappearance day, we bring it out and touch it. So now we shall pass it around and touch it to our heads and to our hearts—and pray to Gopala Bhatta Gosvami for his sublime mercy.

Thank you.

Hare Krishna.

[A talk by Giriraj Swami on Srila Gopala Bhatta Gosvami’s appearance day, July 31, 2002, Carpinteria, California.]

Jan 102020
 

Today I remembered an incident from New Delhi, perhaps in 1971. Gurudas and I had gone into a shop to make a purchase, and in the mood of saving Krishna’s money, I was bargaining fiercely. But he corrected me, citing a principle from The Nectar of Devotion—“Not Giving Pain to Any Living Entity.” Srila Prabhupada had written, “This is the statement of Mahabharata: ‘A person who does not disturb or cause painful action in the mind of any living entity, who treats everyone just like a loving father does his children, whose heart is so pure, certainly very soon becomes favored by the Supreme Personality of Godhead.’

“In so-called civilized society there is sometimes agitation against cruelty to animals, but at the same time regular slaughterhouses are always maintained. A Vaisnava is not like that. A Vaisnava can never support animal slaughter or even give pain to any living entity.”

I had related the principle to giving pain to living entities outside the course of devotional service, but Gurudas made me realize that I should not cause pain to the mind of the merchant, whether he was overcharging or not, even in the course of trying to save Krishna’s money.

“Not giving pain to any living entity”—an instructive lesson that I have always kept with me.

Hare Krishna.

Yours in service,
Giriraj Swami

Jan 012020
 

A talk by Giriraj Swami on January 2, 2010, Bhaktivedanta Manor, England.

We have gathered at the lotus feet of Srila Prabhupada in this wonderful temple of Sri Sri Radha-Gokulananda, Sri Sita-Rama-Laksmana-Hanuman, and Sri Sri Gaura-Nitai, in the presence of His Holiness Radhanath Swami and so many exalted devotees. We are entering the New Year, 2010, and the next decade, and on such occasions we take stock of what and how we did in the previous year and what we want to do in the next. Studies have shown, and probably many of us have experienced, that most New Year’s resolutions are broken during the first week. Still more are broken in the first month, and almost all are broken within the first three months.

Why does this happen, and what can we do? Man is a creature of habit. We have developed certain habits over the past however many years—perhaps lifetimes—and to change our habits requires sincere desire and determined effort. Another study has shown that when a person is trying to develop a new habit, he has to consistently, diligently strive to adhere to the new practice for at least thirty days. After thirty days, he is able to follow more easily but can be derailed by stress or changes in his life. After ninety days it becomes just as easy to follow the new habit as not, and after a year it is easier to follow the new habit than not.

So, what new habits do we want to develop in the next year? That depends on our goals. When I visited Pune some years ago, the Malhotra brothers arranged a program for me in the main hall, and at the end of the talk the general in charge of the Southern Command of the Indian Army asked an important question: “What is the aim for which we are born, what is the aim of our life? It certainly could not be to amass some wealth and ultimately die, or to make a building and then die, or to marry and procreate and then die. For our minor activities in life we have the aims set first, before we get going to achieve them. When we train our people in the army, whatever they have to do we first tell them what the aim is. And once they are clear what the aim is, then we decide what means to adopt to achieve that. And invariably we don’t go wrong. Now here it is—my whole life is going to waste, to my mind; I am still not very clear what is the aim of my life. Would you kindly enlighten us about the aim of life so that thereafter we can be very, very clear as to what we have got to do to achieve that aim?”

Srila Sanatana Gosvami asked the same question of Sri Chaitanya Mahaprabhu:

“‘ke ami’, ‘kene amaya jare tapa-traya’
iha nahi jani—kemane hita haya

“‘sadhya’-‘sadhana’-tattva puchite na jani
krpa kari’ saba tattva kaha ta’ apani”

“Who am I? Why do the threefold miseries always give me trouble? If I do not know this, how can I be benefited? Actually I do not know how to inquire about the goal of life and the process for obtaining it. Being merciful upon me, please explain all these truths.” (Cc Madhya 20.102–103) He said, “In ordinary dealings people consider me to be a learned scholar (pandita), but I am so learned I do not even know who I am. So please tell me who I am and what is the goal of life.” And Lord Chaitanya replied, “By constitution you are an eternal servant of Krishna —jivera ‘svarupa’ haya—krsnera ‘nitya-dasa’—and the goal of life is to be reinstated in your constitutional position as His loving servant.”

If someone understands that he is not the body, that he is the soul within the body, and that his real relationship is not with the body or things related to the body but that as a spiritual soul his real relationship is with the Supreme Soul, then he can adopt the methods that are suitable for reviving his eternal relationship with the Supreme Soul, Krishna.

Continue reading »

Dec 312019
 

“For us, every day is a New Year. Nava-nava-rasa-dhamany. Our Krishna consciousness is so nice, the more you advance, the more you see new year, new year. That’s all. Nothing is old. People are seeing that ‘They are simply chanting the same old slogan, Hare Krishna.’ But we are feeling new pleasure in every moment. Take any other chanting, you cannot chant more than a few hours. But the Hare Krishna mantra we can chant perpetually. So, unless there is new enlightenment, how we can do that?”

In this conversation in Los Angeles on January 3, 1974, Srila Prabhupada referred to a verse by Sri Yamunacharya:

yad-avadhi mama cetah krsna-padaravinde
nava-nava-rasa-dhamany udyatam rantum asit

“Since my mind has been engaged in the service of the lotus feet of Lord Krishna, and I have been enjoying an ever new transcendental taste.”

May you all have a wonderful, Krishna conscious New Year.

Hare Krishna.

Yours in service,
Giriraj Swami

Dec 282019
 

Sri Caitanya-caritamrta, Adi-lila, Chapter Ten describes the branches of the tree named Sri Chaitanya Mahaprabhu.

TEXT 1

sri-caitanya-padambhoja-
madhupebhyo namo namah
kathancid asrayad yesam
svapi tad-gandha-bhag bhavet

TRANSLATION

Let me repeatedly offer my respectful obeisances unto the beelike devotees who always taste the honey of the lotus feet of Caitanya Mahaprabhu. If even a doggish nondevotee somehow takes shelter of such devotees, he enjoys the aroma of the lotus flower.

PURPORT by Srila Prabhupada

The example of a dog is very significant in this connection. A dog naturally does not become a devotee at any time. But still it is sometimes found that a dog of a devotee gradually becomes a devotee also. We have actually seen that a dog has no respect even for the tulasi plant. Indeed, a dog is especially inclined to pass urine on the tulasi plant. Therefore the dog is the number one nondevotee. But Sri Caitanya Mahaprabhu’s sankirtana movement is so strong that even a doglike nondevotee can gradually become a devotee by the association of a devotee of Lord Caitanya. Srila Sivananda Sena, a great householder devotee of Lord Caitanya Mahaprabhu, attracted a dog on the street while going to Jagannatha Puri. The dog began to follow him and ultimately went to see Caitanya Mahaprabhu and was liberated. Similarly, cats and dogs in the household of Srivasa Thakura were also liberated. Cats and dogs and other animals are not expected to become devotees, but in the association of a pure devotee they are also delivered.

TEXTS 2–6

jaya jaya sri-krsna-caitanya-nityananda
jaya advaitacandra jaya gaura-bhakta-vrnda

All glories to Lord Caitanya Mahaprabhu and Lord Nityananda! All glories to Advaita Prabhu, and all glories to the devotees of Lord Caitanya, headed by Srivasa!

ei malira-ei vrksera akathya kathana
ebe suna mukhya-sakhara nama-vivarana

The description of Lord Caitanya as the gardener and the tree is inconceivable. Now hear with attention about the branches of this tree.

caitanya-gosanira yata parisada-caya
guru-laghu-bhava tanra na haya niscaya

The associates of Sri Caitanya Mahaprabhu were many, but none of them should be considered lower or higher. This cannot be ascertained.

yata yata mahanta kaila tan-sabara ganana
keha karibare nare jyestha-laghu-krama

All the great personalities in the line of Lord Caitanya enumerated these devotees, but they could not distinguish between the greater and the lesser.

ataeva tan-sabare kari’ namaskara
nama-matra kari, dosa na labe amara

I offer my obeisances unto them as a token of respect. I request them not to consider my offenses.

TEXT 7

vande sri-krsna-caitanya-
premamara-taroh priyan
sakha-rupan bhakta-ganan
krsna-prema-phala-pradan

I offer my respectful obeisances to all the dear devotees of Sri Caitanya Mahaprabhu, the eternal tree of love of Godhead. I offer my respects to all the branches of the tree, the devotees of the Lord who distribute the fruit of love of Krsna.

PURPORT

Sri Krsnadasa Kaviraja Gosvami sets the example of offering obeisances to all the preacher devotees of Lord Caitanya, without distinction as to higher and lower. Unfortunately, at present there are many foolish so-called devotees of Lord Caitanya who make such distinctions. For example, the title “Prabhupada” is offered to a spiritual master, especially to a distinguished spiritual master such as Srila Rupa Gosvami Prabhupada, Srila Jiva Gosvami Prabhupada, or Srila Bhaktisiddhanta Sarasvati Gosvami Prabhupada. When our disciples similarly wanted to address their spiritual master as Prabhupada, some foolish people became envious. Not considering the propaganda work of the Hare Krsna movement, simply because these disciples addressed their spiritual master as Prabhupada, they became so envious that they formed a faction with other such envious persons just to minimize the value of the Krsna consciousness movement. To chastise such fools, Krsnadasa Kaviraja Gosvami very frankly says, keha karibare nare jyestha-laghu-krama. Anyone who is a bona fide preacher of the cult of Sri Caitanya Mahaprabhu must be respectful to the real devotees of Lord Caitanya; one should not be envious, considering one preacher to be very great and another to be very lowly. This is a material distinction and has no place on the platform of spiritual activities. Krsnadasa Kaviraja Gosvami therefore offers equal respect to all the preachers of the cult of Sri Caitanya Mahaprabhu, who are compared to the branches of the tree. ISKCON is one of these branches, and it should therefore be respected by all sincere devotees of Lord Caitanya Mahaprabhu.

COMMENT by Giriraj Swami

Even among Gaudiya Vaishnavas, we must be careful to avoid offenses. We must respect and recognize the service of all Vaishnavas. As Srila Prabhupada once said, if we do not give credit where credit is due, we will become envious.

Continue reading »

Dec 262019
 

Fifty years ago, on December 26, 1969, in Boston, Srila Prabhupada awarded me second initiation. He said, “Sucih means purified. And another meaning of sucih is brahman. A brahman means purified. Those who are going to be sacred-threaded today should remember that they are being accepted as sucih, as brahman. After chanting for six months or one year, it is supposed that he has already become purified. Now he should be recognized that he is purified. So this sacred thread means recognition. Sacred thread means one should understand . . . Just like one understands a man is learned by the degrees M.A., B.A., or Ph.D., similarly, when there is sacred thread it is understood that he has undergone the purificatory process under superior management, or guidance of spiritual master. This is called upanayana in Sanskrit. Upanayana: bringing him more near. The first initiation is the beginning of purification, and offering the sacred thread means bringing him more near. The principle is that those who are ordinarily initiated should not touch the Deity. Only those who are in sacred thread, they should touch. This is the system.”

Hare Krishna.

Your grateful servant,
Giriraj Swami

Dec 242019
 

In the West this is the holiday season, with both Christmas and Hanukkah. 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 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.

One of Srila Prabhupada’s purports 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 avatars, 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.” (Gita 4.8 purport)

Srila Bhaktisiddhanta Sarasvati Thakura, Srila Prabhupada’s spiritual master, said that Jesus Christ was a saktyavesa-avatara; 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 Krishna 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 Krishna says that He is the father of all living entities, so there is no contradiction.”

Jesus Christ filled the role of a spiritual master, or guru. The spiritual master teaches the science of Godhead, and when a disciple surrenders to a spiritual master, the spiritual master accepts the disciple’s sinful reactions. Jesus Christ performed the same functions in relation to his followers or disciples; he taught them about God, and he accepted their sinful reactions. Sometimes Christians quote Jesus as having said, “There is no way to the Father except through me.” This statement is a little controversial in learned circles—there is some question whether the attribution is authentic or not. But in any case, Srila Prabhupada took the truth in these words to be that one cannot approach the Lord directly; one can approach the Lord only through the Lord’s representative, the spiritual master.

Continue reading »

Srila Bhaktisiddhanta Sarasvati Thakura’s Disappearance Day

 Lectures  Comments Off on Srila Bhaktisiddhanta Sarasvati Thakura’s Disappearance Day
Dec 142019
 

Srila Bhaktisiddhanta Sarasvati Thakura, Srila Prabhupada’s spiritual master, is my grand spiritual master, but I feel that I never really knew him very well until I read his biography Sri Bhaktisiddhanta Vaibhava by my godbrother Bhakti Vikasa Swami. Many of the quotes and references below come from that work.

 We are all here by the mercy of His Divine Grace A. C. Bhaktivedanta Swami Prabhupada and the Supreme Lord, Sri Krishna Chaitanya Mahaprabhu. There’s a line through which the mercy descends upon us, beginning with Krishna, the Supreme Personality of Godhead, and passing, one teacher after the other, through parampara, disciplic succession. Five thousand years ago Krishna came in His original form and instructed, in the Bhagavad-gita (9.34, 18.65), man-mana bhava mad-bhakto: “Always think of Me and become My devotee.” Five hundred years ago the same Lord Krishna came again, in the devotional form of Sri Krishna Chaitanya, to explain and personally show how to be a devotee and always think of Krishna. Lord Chaitanya quoted a verse from the Brhan-naradiya Purana (38.126):

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

“One should chant the holy name, chant the holy name, chant the holy name of Hari, Krishna. There is no other way, no other way, no other way for success in the present age of Kali.” He also desired and predicted:

prthivite ache yata nagaradi grama
sarvatra pracara haibe mora nama

“In as many towns and villages as there are on the surface of the earth, My holy name will be propagated.” (Cb 3.4.126) This desire and prediction were expressed at a time when it was almost impossible to imagine or believe that it could happen.

In the 1800s Srila Bhaktivinoda Thakura began the effort to spread the holy name of Krishna to countries outside India. He wrote a small book in English called Chaitanya Mahaprabhu: His Life and Precepts and dispatched copies to libraries around the world. In recent years Srila Prabhupada’s disciples have discovered copies in libraries from Canada (McGill University) to Australia. Bhaktivinoda Thakura yearned for the day when devotees from all over the world would unite in harinama-sankirtana and wrote, “Very soon the unparalleled path of harinama-sankirtana will be propagated all over the planet. . . . Oh, for that day when the fortunate English, French, Russian, German, and American people will take up banners, mridangas, and kartals and perform kirtan through their streets and towns. When will that day come? Oh, for the day when the fair-skinned men from their side will raise up the chanting of ‘Jaya Sacinandana, jaya Sacinandana ki jaya!’ and join with the Bengali devotees. When will that day be?” (Sajjana-tosani)

Srila Bhaktivinoda Thakura was a very powerful spiritual master, an acharya. After the disappearance of Sri Chaitanya Mahaprabhu and His associates, many unscrupulous people claiming to be Mahaprabhu’s followers introduced concocted philosophies and practices—even illicit activities—to the point that if an educated Bengali heard the word Vaishnava, he would immediately think the worst. In educated circles, Vaishnava had come to mean a sentimental, ignorant person with loose character who, in the guise of religion, engaged in all sorts of activities. In this precarious situation, Srila Bhaktivinoda Thakura came forward and presented the true understanding of Sri Chaitanya Mahaprabhu, speaking strongly against the deviant groups that had distorted and perverted His pure teachings and practices.

Srila Bhaktivinoda Thakura held a high position in the British rule of India—the highest an Indian could hold, and then only very rarely. He had important responsibilities in the government and had a large family, but his main interest was Sri Chaitanya Mahaprabhu and the sankirtana movement. He would sleep little and rise early. He did so much—wrote books, traveled, preached, established centers—and had a tremendous effect, especially on the people of Bengal and Orissa, including the intellectual elite, who were just then coming in touch with modern ideas from the West. He revived the true mission of Sri Chaitanya Mahaprabhu, inspiring hosts of people to join him, and pushed back the deviant groups, which lost much of their influence.

Having undertaken such a tremendous task and executed it so successfully but still being surrounded by so many parties with vested interests in covering the true intention of Sri Chaitanya Mahaprabhu, Srila Bhaktivinoda Thakura was at a loss as to who would carry on his mission. So he prayed to Krishna to send someone—one of His own associates from the spiritual realm—to continue the work. It is understood that the appearance of Srila Bhaktisiddhanta Sarasvati Thakura was the answer to Srila Bhaktivinoda Thakura’s prayers.

Continue reading »

Badrinarayan Swami’s Visit to Carpinteria

 Lectures  Comments Off on Badrinarayan Swami’s Visit to Carpinteria
Dec 122019
 

Yesterday Badrinarayan Swami and two other devotees from San Diego spent the afternoon with us in Carpinteria, and I had a wonderful time. Associating with him outside a temple setting, I became aware of many wonderful qualities and abilities in him for the first time. He is brilliant and truly a great asset to Srila Prabhupada’s mission, to which he is completely committed and devoted. And he has a real taste for Krishna consciousness.

Hare Krishna.

Yours in service,
Giriraj Swami