Giriraj Swami

Jan 152016
 

Today is Makara-sankranti, the date of the opening of Sri Sri Radha-Rasabihari’s temple and cultural complex at Hare Krishna Land, Juhu, Mumbai. The following is adapted from a talk by Radhanath
Swami.

Srila Prabhupada Praying before Radha-Rasabihari in JuhuI am grateful and honored and happy to be with all of you this evening. This event is traditionally held on Republic Day, and one of the reasons Republic Day is remembered and celebrated is the challenges, the sacrifices, even the sufferings that people had to endure for India’s independence.

As much as anywhere in the world, the place where Srila Prabhupada was challenged and had to make tremendous sacrifices was in Juhu, to build a home for Sri Sri Radha-Rasabihari. In those days the site was kind of a swamp that was so far from the city that devotees couldn’t understand why Srila Prabhupada had chosen it for a temple. In New York the temple was in the Lower East Side, in the middle of the city, and the second temple, in San Francisco, was right in the middle of Haight Ashbury. In London the temple was just a few blocks from the British Museum. A temple was usually in the middle of a city, and then, if there was going to be something a distance from there, a satellite project would be established in the countryside. But in Bombay Srila Prabhupada wanted to build the temple in a place that seemed far away, and most of his followers couldn’t understand.

But the types of faith that Srila Prabhupada demonstrated and the struggles he endured over many years were extraordinary. He was in his mid-seventies. He didn’t have money, he had only a few followers from the West, who really didn’t know that much about dealing with situations in India, and the odds against him were insurmountable—powerful parties trying to cheat him, exploit him, and stop the progress. But Srila Prabhupada promised Radha-Rasabihari that he would build them a temple in Juhu. They were in a crude hut on this swampy land, with mosquitoes and rats and snakes and many antagonistic neighbors, but even when everything seemed hopeless, Srila Prabhupada had total faith: “I made this promise to Krishna, and it will be fulfilled.”

It was impossible by all material calculation, but when someone tried to tell Prabhupada that something was impossible, he would say, “Impossible is a word in a fool’s dictionary.” He wasn’t seeing it from the perspective of material ability, and by the grace of Krishna everything was possible.

The opening of the temple and the installation of the deities also happened in January, Makara-sankranti time. So this is like Republic Day for Radha-Rasabihari. And it’s a special day for us to remember Srila Prabhupada’s sacrifice, faith, and compassion, and all those who were at his side, helping.

The person who was at Srila Prabhupada’s side more than anyone else throughout those years—from the beginning till the glorious conclusion—was His Holiness Giriraj Swami Maharaja. He is now in the process of writing a book about that era of Srila Prabhupada’s devotional service and the pastimes of Sri Sri Radha-Rasabihari. He not only witnessed what took place; he was a crucial part of it. So of all the people living in the world today, there is no one more suitable and more empowered to share the story of the Juhu temple, which is truly an important story.

Srimad-Bhagavatam is the literary incarnation of Krishna. But up until the tenth canto, most of its stories focus on the devotees and culminate in their relationship with Krishna. Ambarisa Maharaja, Dhruva Maharaja, Prahlada Maharaja, Pariksit Maharaja, Rantideva, the Pracetas, the Vrajavasis. Mahajano yena gatah sa panthah. Sri Caitanya Mahaprabhu cited this verse from sastra, that the goal and essence of all the scriptures of the world cannot be understood through study alone. Neither can it be understood and realized by our sacrifices, our tapasya, or our charities. The true path is mahajano yena gatah sa panthah, to follow in the footsteps of great souls, through their prayers, through their teachings, and through how they applied them to their lives, in both sunny and stormy weather.

This book that His Holiness Giriraj Swami Maharaja is writing is going to tell about our beloved paramahamsa acarya Srila Prabhupada—about his personal, intimate, loving relationship with Radha-Rasabihari and how in service to Them through all the challenges he was courageous, he was fearless, even when he was going against governments. His success wasn’t due to his physical strength or mental intellectual abilities; it was because he surrendered completely to the grace of Krishna—everything comes from that. It is an important story for the world, for all time. My humble request is that we all do everything we can to help Giriraj Maharaja complete this book. Hare Krishna.

[Adapted from a talk by Radhanath Swami, January 31, 2015, Juhu, Mumbai]

Hebrew Life’s Final Exam in Israeli Bookstores

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Dec 132015
 

Hebrew LFE in Israeli Bookstore - 1Yesterday Rohini-nandana dasa wrote: “Life’s Final Exam in Hebrew is now available in all major book stores in Israel. Bhaktin Sharon Karni has sent the accompanying photos.”

Life’s Final Exam: Death and Dying from the Vedic Perspective is presented in pursuance of the Vedic aphorism:

tamaso ma jyotir gamaya
asato ma sad gamaya
mrtyor ma amrtam gamaya

“Do not stay in darkness; go to the light. Do not stay in illusion; go to the eternal reality. Do not keep taking material bodies; become immortal!” (Brihad-Aranyaka Upanishad 1.3.28)

Hare Krishna.

Humbly in service,
Giriraj Swami

December Book Marathon Message

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Dec 112015
 

My dear devotees,SP Distributing Books -1

Please accept my best wishes. All glories to Srila Prabhupada.

In a letter to me dated December 1971, Srila Prabhupada wrote, “Go on increasing books, and go on increasing my pleasure.” December is a special opportunity to focus on Srila Prabhupada’s desire that we distribute books—and thus increase his pleasure. As he wrote in the same letter, “I am most pleased especially to hear that you are distributing many books.”

tad-vag-visargo janatagha-viplavo
yasmin prati-slokam abaddhavaty api
namany anantasya yaso ’nkitani yat
srnvanti gayanti grnanti sadhavah

“That literature which is full of descriptions of the transcendental glories of the name, fame, forms, pastimes, etc., of the unlimited Supreme Lord is a different creation, full of transcendental words directed toward bringing about a revolution in the impious lives of this world’s misdirected civilization. Such transcendental literatures, even though imperfectly composed, are heard, sung, and accepted by purified men who are thoroughly honest.” (Srimad-Bhagavatam 1.5.11)

Now let us cooperate fully to fulfill Srila Prabhupada’s desire, which is the desire of Sri Chaitanya Mahaprabhu and the parampara, and distribute such transcendental literature for the benefit of all—and be blessed by their sublime mercy.

Thank you very much.

Hare Krishna.

Your grateful servant,
Giriraj Swami

Drops of Water Wear the Stone

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Dec 042015
 

Back to Godhead - Volume 01, Number 63 - 1974In a conversation in Toronto in June 1976, a guest asked Srila Prabhupada about his translation, and Prabhupada replied, “It can be finished, but I have to look after this management. That is the difficulty.”

“I write in the night,” he explained. “I go to bed at half past ten, and I get up at half past twelve. Then I finish my chanting, if there is any balance, and then I begin dictating. And in the morning they take it and type it. So this Dictaphone is always with me, wherever I go, so my writing books is not stopped. Maybe [only a] few pages, but something is there daily. Little drops of water wear the stone. So in that way we have translated so many books. About fifty-four books are already published, besides the small booklets. Bhagavatam—about twenty-two volumes.”

Reading Srila Prabhupada’s words recently, I was struck by how hard Srila Prabhupada endeavored to give us his books, and I felt that we should reciprocate by studying them, distributing them, and discussing them, and also by writing—following his instructions and example, following in his footsteps.

—Giriraj Swami

Sri Rama-vijaya-dasami — Vanquishing Ravana

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Oct 222015
 

Today marks Sri Rama-vijaya-dasami (Dasara), the day on which Lord Ramachandra vanquished the powerful tyrant Ravana. As described in Srimad-Bhagavatam (2.7.25):

Rama Vanquishes Ravanavaksah-sthala-sparsa-rugna-mahendra-vaha-
dantair vidambita-kakubjusa udha-hasam
sadyo ’subhih saha vinesyati dara-hartur
visphurjitair dhanusa uccarato ’dhisainye

 “When Ravana was engaged in the battle, the trunk of the elephant which carried the king of heaven, Indra, broke in pieces, having collided with the chest of Ravana, and the scattered broken parts illuminated all directions. Ravana therefore felt proud of his prowess and began to loiter in the midst of the fighting soldiers, thinking himself the conqueror of all directions. But his laughter, overtaken by joy, along with his very air of life, suddenly ceased with the tingling sound of the bow of Ramacandra, the Personality of Godhead.”

Srila Prabhupada comments, “However powerful a living being may be, when he is condemned by God no one can save him, and, similarly, however weak one may be, if he is protected by the Lord no one can annihilate him.”

Ravana is the personification of lust—and envy—which can disturb the execution of pure devotional service.

May Lord Sri Ramachandra protect us all.

—Giriraj Swami

Sri Visvarupa-mahotsava and Srila Prabhupada’s Sannyasa

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Sep 272015
 

Srila Prabhupada as a SannyasiToday is Visvarupa-mahotsava, the date on which Lord Caitanya’s older brother, Visvarupa, took sannyasa, the renounced order of life. And on the same date some four hundred and fifty years later, our own spiritual master, Srila Prabhupada, also accepted sannyasa.

According to Vedic scripture, Lord Caitanya is Krsna Himself, the Supreme Personality of Godhead, come in the present age in the role of a devotee. In the previous age, Lord Krsna came in His original feature and spoke the Bhagavad-gita, and at the conclusion He instructed, sarva-dharman parityajya mam ekam saranam vraja: give up all other duties and surrender unto Me. But people could not understand or appreciate Lord Krsna’s instruction. So later, about five hundred years ago, the same Krsna came again, not in His original form but in His devotional form as Lord Caitanya. And Lord Caitanya taught us how to serve Krsna, how to worship God in the present age.

Lord Caitanya taught various methods of worship, but He especially emphasized the chanting of the holy names of God, or Krsna. In particular, He 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, Krsna. In this age of Kali, there is no other way, no other way, no other way for spiritual realization.”

He acted like a teacher who shows students how to write the alphabet. The teacher stands in front of the class and writes on the board, “A, B, C, D.” She has no need to practice writing, but she shows by her own example how to form the letters properly. In the same way, God, Krsna, had no need to worship, but to set the example for us, so that we could learn how to worship God in the best way in the present age, He came as Lord Caitanya and taught and demonstrated the chanting of the holy names.

When Lord Caitanya appeared, the social and spiritual system called varnasrama-dharma was still prevalent in India. In this system there are four social and four spiritual divisions, all necessary for society to function properly. Although we may not refer to them by the same terms, and although the system has not been developed as systematically and scientifically as in Vedic culture, still, by the arrangement of nature, the divisions still exist. In the Bhagavad-gita Krsna says, catur-varnyam maya srstam guna-karma-vibhagasah: “According to the three modes of material nature and the work associated with them, the four divisions of human society are created by Me.” (Bg 4.13) So, the four social orders, or broad divisions of occupational duties, are created by Krsna. Continue reading »

Haridasa Thakura’s Disappearance Day

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Sep 262015
 

TodaLord Chaitanya Carrying Haridasa Thakuray is the disappearance day of Namacarya Srila Haridasa Thakura, so we shall read from Sri Caitanya-caritamrta, Antya-lila, Chapter Eleven, “The Passing of Haridasa Thakura”:

The summary of this chapter is given by Srila Bhaktivinoda Thakura in his Amrta-pravaha-bhasya as follows. In this chapter it is described how Brahma Haridasa Thakura gave up his body with the consent of Sri Caitanya Mahaprabhu, and how the Lord Himself personally performed the funeral ceremony and carried the body to the sea. He personally entombed the body, covered it with sand, and erected a platform on the site. After taking a bath in the sea, He personally begged prasada of Jagannatha from shopkeepers and distributed prasada to the assembled devotees.

 

TEXT 1

namami haridasam tam
caitanyam tam ca tat-prabhum
samsthitam api yan-murtim
svanke krtva nanarta yah

TRANSLATION

Let me offer my respectful obeisances unto Haridasa Thakura and his master, Sri Caitanya Mahaprabhu, who danced with the body of Haridasa Thakura on His lap.

TEXTS 2–9

jaya jaya sri-caitanya jaya dayamaya
jayadvaita-priya nityananda-priya jaya

All glories to Lord Sri Caitanya Mahaprabhu, who is very merciful and who is very dear to Advaita Acarya and Lord Nityananda!

jaya srinivasesvara haridasa-natha
jaya gadadhara-priya svarupa-prana-natha

All glories to the master of Srinivasa Thakura! All glories to the master of Haridasa Thakura! All glories to the dear master of Gadadhara Pandita! All glories to the master of the life of Svarupa Damodara!

jaya kasi-priya jagadananda-pranesvara
jaya rupa-sanatana-raghunathesvara

All glories to Lord Sri Caitanya, who is very dear to Kasi Misra! He is the Lord of the life of Jagadananda and the Lord of Rupa Gosvami, Sanatana Gosvami, and Raghunatha dasa Gosvami.

jaya gaura-deha krsna svayam bhagavan
krpa kari’ deha’ prabhu, nija-pada-dana

All glories to the transcendental form of Sri Caitanya Mahaprabhu, who is Krsna Himself, the Supreme Personality of Godhead! My dear Lord, kindly give me shelter at Your lotus feet by Your causeless mercy. Continue reading »

Srila Prabhupada’s Arrival in America

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Sep 172015
 

Prabhupada at Boston HarborTo commemorate the anniversary of Srila Prabhupada’s arrival in America, we shall sing and discuss the second poem that he wrote on the ship Jaladuta, after he arrived in the Boston harbor on September 17, 1965.

Poem [translation]:

1: My dear Lord Krsna, You are so kind upon this useless soul, but I do not know why You have brought me here. Now You can do whatever You like with me.

2: But I guess You have some business here. Otherwise, why would You bring me to such a terrible place?

3: Most of the population here is covered by the material modes of ignorance and passion. Absorbed in material life, they think themselves very happy and satisfied, and therefore they have no taste for the transcendental message of Vasudeva. I do not know how they will be able to understand it.

4: But I know Your causeless mercy can make everything possible, because You are the most expert mystic.

5: How will they understand the mellows of devotional service? O Lord, I am simply praying for Your mercy so that I will be able to convince them about Your message.

6: All living entities have come under the control of the illusory energy by Your will, and therefore, if You like, by Your will they can also be released from the clutches of illusion. I wish that You may deliver them.

7: I wish that You may deliver them. Therefore, if You so desire their deliverance, then only will they be able to understand Your message.

8: The words of Srimad-Bhagavatam are Your incarnation, and if a sober person repeatedly receives them with submissive aural reception, then he will be able to understand Your message.

9: It is said in Srimad-Bhagavatam (1.2.17-21): ‘Sri Krsna, the Personality of Godhead, who is the Paramatma [Supersoul] in everyone’s heart and the benefactor of the truthful devotee, cleanses the desire for material enjoyment from the heart of the devotee who relishes His messages, which are in themselves virtuous when properly heard and chanted. By regularly hearing the Bhagavatam and rendering service unto the pure devotee, all that is troublesome to the heart is practically destroyed, and loving service unto the glorious Lord, who is praised with transcendental songs, is established as an irrevocable fact. At the time loving service is established in the heart, the modes of passion [rajas] and ignorance [tamas], and lust and desire [kama] disappear from the heart. Then the devotee is established in goodness and he becomes happy. Thus established in the mode of goodness, the man rejuvenated by loving service to the Lord gains liberation from material association [mukti] and comes to know scientifically of the Personality of Godhead. Thus the knot in the heart and all misgivings are cut to pieces. The chain of fruitive actions [karma] is terminated when one sees the self as master.”

10: He will become liberated from the influence of the modes of ignorance and passion and thus all inauspicious things accumulated in the core of the heart will disappear.

11: How will I make them understand the message of Krsna consciousness? I am very unfortunate, unqualified, and the most fallen. Therefore I am seeking Your benediction so that I can convince them, for I am powerless to do so on my own. Continue reading »

Amala Bhakta Prabhu’s Sannyasa and Srila Prabhupada’s Arrival in America

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Sep 162015
 

Amala Bhakta DasBy some higher arrangement, I will be joining His Holiness Radhanath Swami for saintly Amala Bhakta Prabhu’s sannyasa ceremony today—the first sannyasa initiation in New Dvaraka in more than three decades. Then tomorrow morning Radhanath Swami and I will fly together from Los Angeles to Boston for the fiftieth anniversary of Srila Prabhupada’s arrival in America there, which ultimately led to us all coming together and being engaged in devotional service to His Divine Grace, his guru maharaja, the Panca-tattva, and Sri Sri Radha-Krishna.

bhavapavargo bhramato yada bhavej
janasya tarhy acyuta sat-samagamah
sat-sangamo yarhi tadaiva sad-gatau
paravarese tvayi jayate ratih

“O my Lord! O infallible Supreme Person! When a person wandering throughout the universes becomes eligible for liberation from material existence, he gets an opportunity to associate with devotees. When he associates with devotees, his attraction for You is awakened. You are the Supreme Personality of Godhead, the highest goal of the topmost devotees, and the Lord of the universe.” (Srimad-Bhagavatam 10.51.53)

Hare Krishna.

Your aspiring servant,
Giriraj Swami

Vyasa-puja Offering to Srila Prabhupada

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Sep 062015
 

Srila Prabhupada on Juhu TerraceMy dear Srila Prabhupada,

Please accept my prostrated obeisances in the dust of your divine lotus feet. All glories to Your Divine Loving Grace and to your auspicious arrival in America.

At this time your devotees and admirers are reflecting upon your momentous departure from India and your historic arrival in America some fifty years ago. What could have motivated you to make that historic journey—and how could you have succeeded in your impossible mission?

In Los Angeles in 1968, on the disappearance day of your guru maharaja, Srila Bhaktisiddhanta Sarasvati Thakura, you explained your commission: “Bhaktisiddhanta Sarasvati Gosvami Maharaja . . . underwent very severe penances for starting this worldwide movement. That was his mission. In 1896, Bhaktivinoda Thakura wanted to introduce this Krsna consciousness movement by sending the book Shree Chaitanya Mahaprabhu, His Life and Precepts. Fortunately, that year was my birth year, and by Krsna’s arrangement, we came in contact. . . . Who knew that I would come to his protection? Who knew that I would come to America? Who knew that you American boys would come to me? These are all Krsna’s arrangement. We cannot understand how things are taking place.

“Thirty-two years ago in Bombay, sometime around the 9th or 10th of December—Guru Maharaja was indisposed, and he was staying in Jagannatha Puri, on the seashore—I wrote him a letter: ‘My dear master, your other disciples—brahmacari, sannyasi—they are rendering you direct service. And I am a householder. I cannot live with you; I cannot serve you nicely. So I do not know—How can I serve you?’ Simply an idea—I was thinking of serving him: ‘How can I serve him seriously?’ The reply was dated 13 December 1936. In that letter he wrote, ‘My dear such and such, I am very glad to receive your letter. I think you should try to push our movement in English.’ That was his writing. ‘And that will do good to you and to the people who will help you.’ That was his instruction. And then in 1936, on the 31st of December—that means just a fortnight after writing this letter—he passed away.

“I took that order of my spiritual master very seriously, but I did not think that I’d have to do such and such thing. I was at that time a householder. But this is the arrangement of Krsna. If we strictly try to serve the spiritual master, his order, then Krsna will give us all facilities. That is the secret. Although there was no possibility, I never thought, but I took it a little seriously by studying a commentary by Visvanatha Cakravarti Thakura on the Bhagavad-gita. In connection with the verse vyavasayatmika-buddhir ekeha kuru-nandana [Bg 2.41], Visvanatha Cakravarti Thakura gives his commentary that we should take up the words from the spiritual master as our life and soul. We should try to carry out the instruction, the specific instruction of the spiritual master, very rigidly, without caring for our personal benefit or loss.” Continue reading »