Giriraj Swami

Feb 192019
 

Today is the appearance day Srila Narottama dasa Thakura, of whom Srila Prabhupada said, He was “a great acharya of the Gaudiya Vaishnava sampradaya. He has written many songs about the Vaishnava philosophy, and they are approved as completely corresponding with Vedic instructions.  .  .  . So, we should relish the instruction of Narottama dasa Thakura.”

At the original Gaura-purnima festival held in Kheturi, in the presence of Srimati Jahnava-devi, Srila Narottama dasa Thakura, and Srila Srinivasa Acharya, six pairs of Radha-Krishna Deities were installed, and one pair, Radha-Braja-mohana, was sent to Vrindavan.

A few years ago, after Indradyumna Swami told me about the poor condition of the temple, I gave a donation to support the Deity worship, and in reciprocation, Maharaja gave me the conch shell that Narottama sent to Vrindavan for the worship of Braja-mohana. Maharaja said that it may have been blown by Jahnava-devi, Narottama, or Srinivasa, but in any case, it was part of the paraphernalia that Narottama sent to his disciple in Vrindavan.

You can see the conch in this photo.

Hare Krishna.

Yours in service,
Giriraj Swami

Sri Nityananda-trayodasi

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Feb 162019
 

We welcome you to the most auspicious observance of Sri Nityananda-trayodasi, the appearance day of Lord Nityananda Balarama. We shall read from Sri Caitanya-caritamrta, the authorized biography of Sri Chaitanya Mahaprabhu and His associates, Adi-lila, Chapter 5: “The Glories of Lord Nityananda Balarama.”

TEXT 1

vande ’nantadbhutaisvaryam
  sri-nityanandam isvaram
yasyecchaya tat-svarupam
  ajnenapi nirupyate

TRANSLATION

Let me offer my obeisances to Lord Sri Nityananda, the Supreme Personality of Godhead, whose opulence is wonderful and unlimited. By His will, even a fool can understand His identity.

TEXT 2

jaya jaya sri-caitanya jaya nityananda
jayadvaita-candra jaya gaura-bhakta-vrnda

TRANSLATION

All glories to Sri Caitanya Mahaprabhu! All glories to Lord Nityananda! All glories to Advaita Acarya! And all glories to all the devotees of Lord Caitanya Mahaprabhu!

TEXT 3

ei sat-sloke kahila krsna-caitanya-mahima
panca-sloke kahi nityananda-tattva-sima

TRANSLATION

I have described the glory of Sri Krsna Caitanya in six verses. Now, in five verses I shall describe the glory of Lord Nityananda.

TEXT 4

sarva-avatari krsna svayam bhagavan
tanhara dvitiya deha sri-balarama

TRANSLATION

The Supreme Personality of Godhead, Krsna, is the fountainhead of all incarnations. Lord Balarama is His second body.

PURPORT by Srila Prabhupada

Lord Sri Krsna, the absolute Personality of Godhead, is the primeval Lord, the original form of Godhead, and His first expansion is Sri Balarama. The Personality of Godhead can expand Himself in innumerable forms. The forms that have unlimited potency are called svamsa, and forms that have limited potencies (the living entities) are called vibhinnamsa.

COMMENT by Giriraj Swami

To properly understand Lord Nityananda and Lord Chaitanya, we must first understand Lord Krishna and Lord Balarama. As stated throughout the Vedic literature, Krishna is the original Supreme Personality of Godhead (krsnas tu bhagavan svayam) and His first expansion is Balarama. Sri Brahma-samhita gives the example that from one candle you can light a second, from the second candle you can light a third, from the third you can light a fourth, and so on. In essence, they are the same—they all have the same candlepower. But still, there is one original candle, one original Personality of Godhead (Krishna), and there is one first expansion (Balarama). From Balarama the other expansions follow.

TEXT 5

eka-i svarupa donhe, bhinna-matra kaya
adya kaya-vyuha, krsna-lilara sahaya

TRANSLATION

These two are one and the same identity. They differ only in form. Lord Balarama is the first bodily expansion of Krsna, and He assists in Lord Krsna’s transcendental pastimes.

PURPORT

Balarama is a svamsa expansion of the Lord, and therefore there is no difference in potency between Krsna and Balarama. The only difference is in Their bodily structure. As the first expansion of Godhead, Balarama is the chief Deity among the first quadruple forms, and He is the foremost assistant of Sri Krsna in His transcendental activities.

COMMENT

The subject of the Godhead and His expansions is deep and mysterious. We can talk about it, but to actually realize the truth of the subject is possible only by Lord Nityananda’s mercy. As stated in Dalalera-gita (8), den suddha krsna-siksa—Lord Nityananda gives us the pure teachings of the Bhagavad-gita and Srimad-Bhagavatam.

Our proc

ess is to repeat what we have heard from authorities. We are conditioned souls. We have defects. We commit mistakes. We have imperfect senses. We are subject to illusion. We are prone to cheat. In so many ways, we are faulty. Further, the subject of Godhead is altogether beyond the range of the senses and mind and even intelligence, which are material and limited, because God and His expansions are spiritual and unlimited. So we cannot approach the transcendental subject, the transcendental realm, through our imperfect senses and our limited minds and intelligence. We can receive perfect knowledge only through aural reception—from higher authorities who are beyond the pale of material existence, who are free from the defects of conditioned souls. Therefore we always read from scripture and cite references from scripture, because the Vedic literature is beyond the defects of conditioned souls. It is apauruseya; it is not made by man but emanates directly from God, and we receive that knowledge by submissive aural reception from the parampara.

Lord Balarama is the original spiritual master because He fulfills the two functions of a spiritual master: He gives knowledge of God and He serves God. Because He is the first expansion of Godhead, He is the first (apart from Krishna Himself) to give us knowledge of God. And He is the first to engage in service to God. The spiritual master is the leader of the servants of God. He teaches the science of devotional service and engages his followers in service.

Once, in Calcutta, Srila Prabhupada asked the devotees, “What is the duty of the spiritual master, and what is the duty of the disciple?” Different devotees gave different answers. Finally, Srila Prabhupada himself gave the answer: “The duty of the spiritual master is to serve Krishna, and the duty of the disciple is to assist him.” For example, the spiritual master installs the Deity. He is responsible for the worship. He is responsible for the cleanliness of the temple (sri-vigraharadhana-nitya-nana- srngara-tan-mandira-marjanadau).

sri-vigraharadhana-nitya-nana-
  srngara-tan-mandira-marjanadau
yuktasya bhaktams ca niyunjato ’pi
  vande guroh sri-caranaravindam

“The spiritual master is always engaged in the temple worship of Sri Sri Radha and Krsna. He also engages his disciples in such worship. They dress the Deities in beautiful clothes and ornaments, clean Their temple, and perform other similar worship of the Lord. I offer my respectful obeisances unto the lotus feet of such a spiritual master.” (Sri Gurvastakam, Verse 3)

In principle, the spiritual master is responsible for all the services, but the disciples assist him. So Srila Prabhupada said, “When the disciples are cleaning the floor, they should think, ‘Actually, this is my spiritual master’s service, and I am assisting him.’ ”

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Sri Varaha-dvadasi

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Feb 162019
 

Today is Varaha-dvadasi, Lord Varaha’s appearance day. Srila Prabhupada spoke on this occasion in Los Angeles on February 18, 1970:

“Today is the incarnation day of Lord Krishna’s appearing as the Boar. He lifted the world when it was submerged within the water of Garbhodaka Ocean. The universe which we are seeing is only half. The other half is filled with water, and in that water Garbhodakasayi Vishnu is lying.

“So, one demon, Hiranyaksa, pushed this earthly planet within that water, and Lord Krishna delivered this earthly planet from water in the shape of a boar. So, that auspicious day is today, Varaha-dvadasi. On this day [we] sing,

vasati dasana-sikhare dharani tava lagna
sasini kalanka-kaleva nimagna
kesava dhrta-sukara-rupa jaya jagadisa hare
jaya jagadisa hare, jaya jagadisa hare

‘O Kesava! O Lord of the universe! O Lord Hari, who have assumed the form of a boar! All glories to You! The earth, which had become immersed in the Garbhodaka Ocean at the bottom of the universe, sits fixed upon the tip of Your tusk like a spot upon the moon.’ (Dasavatara-stotra, 3)

“This Varaha, boar, or hog, delivered this earthly planet by the tusk, and He kept the whole world on His tusk. We can just imagine how big He appeared. And the world at that time appeared just like the moon disc with some marks on it. So kesava dhrta-varaha-sarira. The poet says, ‘My dear Lord, You have appeared as the great boar. So let me offer my respectful obeisances unto You.’ ”

May Lord Varaha bless us and uplift us.

Hare Krishna.

Yours in service,
Giriraj Swami

The Love That Satisfies

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Feb 142019
 

Today, February 14, Saint Valentine’s Day, I was struck when Srila Prabhupada, at the conclusion of his class on Sri Isopanisad, spoke about love—the love that Krishna wants and the love that will satisfy us:

“Any religion, it doesn’t matter whether Hindu religion, Muslim religion, Christian religion—if you are developing love of God, then you are perfect in your religion. . . .

And what kind of love? Ahaituki: without any cause. ‘O Lord, I love You, God, because You supply me so many nice things. You are order-supplier.’ No, not that sort of love. Without any exchange. That is taught by Chaitanya Mahaprabhu, that ‘Whatever You do . . .’ Aslisya va pada-ratam pinastu mam. ‘Either You trample me under Your feet or You embrace me—what You like. You make me brokenhearted by not seeing You—that doesn’t matter. Still You are my worshipable Lord.’ That is love. . . . That sort of love Krishna wants. Therefore He was so much fond of the gopis. In the gopis’ love there was no question of business propaganda: ‘Give me this, then I love You.’ No. That is pure love. . . . If you want to love God, there is nothing throughout the whole world which can check you. Simply you have to develop your eagerness: ‘Krishna, I want You.’ That’s all. Then there is no question of checking. In any condition you’ll increase your love, increase your love. . . . If you can develop your love for God, or Krishna, without being checked, without any cause, then you will feel fully satisfied.”

Hare Krishna.

Yours in service,
Giriraj Swami

Sri Ramanujacharya

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Feb 142019
 

Today is the disappearance anniversary of Sripada Ramanujacharya, the principal acharya in the Sri, or Lakshmi, sampradaya. Srila Prabhupada wrote that “We find great shelter at the lotus feet of Sri Ramanujacharya because his lotus feet are the strongest fort to combat the Mayavadi philosophy.” (letter 22.11.1974) And in the early days of ISKCON in India, before we had Srila Prabhupada’s Bhagavad-gita As It Is translated into Hindi, he would refer people to read the Hindi edition of the Gita with Sri Ramanujacharya’s commentary.

Prabhupada often told a story about Sri Ramanujacharya’s merciful, compassionate nature. As he related it in Ahmedabad in 1972, “The servants of Krishna take all risk for Krishna’s sake. Just like Ramanujacharya. Sri Ramanujacharya’s spiritual master said, ‘My dear son, the mantra which I am giving, you chant silently and you will be delivered. It is so powerful. Don’t chant this mantra loudly so others can hear.’

“Ramanujacharya thought, ‘If this mantra is so powerful that if others hear it they’ll also be delivered, then why not?’ He immediately went to the market and began to chant the mantra. So, his spiritual master became very angry, that ‘I told you not to chant loudly, so others may not hear.’ And Ramanujacharya replied, ‘My Lordship, I have done offense unto you. That’s all right. For this I am prepared to go to hell. But if this mantra is so powerful, I must speak it to everyone.’ ”

In this mood, following in the footsteps of Sripada Ramanujacharya, Srila Prabhupada broadcast the Hare Krishna maha-mantra and the teachings of the Bhagavad-gita everywhere, to everyone.

We pray and aspire to follow in their footsteps.

Hare Krishna.

Yours in service,
Giriraj Swami

Sri Advaita Acharya

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Feb 102019
 

To honor Sri Advaita Acharya’s  appearance day, we present Srila Prabhupada’s talk about him in Mayapur on April 6, 1975.

advaitam harinadvaitad
  acaryam bhakti-samsanat
bhaktavataram isam tam
  advaita acaryam asraye

“Because He is nondifferent from Hari, the Supreme Lord, He is called Advaita, and because He propagates the cult of devotion, He is called Acarya. He is the Lord and the incarnation of the Lord’s devotee. Therefore I take shelter of Him.” (Cc Adi 1.13)

So, gradually the author is offering respect: sri-krsna-caitanya prabhu-nityananda sri-advaita. He has already offered respect to Lord Chaitanya and Lord Nityananda. Now it is the turn for Sri Advaita Acharya. Advaitam: “nondifferent”—He is expansion of Maha-vishnu. He is visnu-tattva. He is not jiva-tattva. Therefore He is Advaita. Advaitam acyutam anadim ananta-rupam. Krishna has got unlimited number of expansions—expansions, expansions of the expansions, and then expansions of those expansions, in this way. So Advaita Acharya is an expansion of Krishna, as already explained. Therefore He is called advaitam.

And acaryam bhakti-samsanat. This is the business of acharya: to spread the bhakti cult. Acaryam mam vijaniyan navamanyeta karhicit. It is said by the Lord, “You should accept the acharya.” Acharya means one who transmits the bhakti cult. Bhakti-samsanat, spreading—gosthy-anandi. One who is not spreading—he is cultivating Krishna consciousness for his personal benefit in a secluded place, sitting and chanting—that is also nice, but he’s not acharya. Acharya means he must spread—gosthy-anandi. Bhajananandi, gosthy-anandi. Generally, gosthy-anandi means one who wants to increase the number of devotees. He’s called gosthy-anandi. And one who is self-satisfied, that “Let me do my own duty,” he is called bhajananandi.

My guru maharaja, Bhaktisiddhanta Sarasvati Thakura, was a gosthy-anandi; he wanted to increase the number of devotees. And the more you increase the number of devotees, the more you become recognized by Krishna. It is Krishna’s business. Krishna personally comes as He is to spread this bhakti cult. Man-mana bhava mad-bhakto mad-yaji mam namaskuru. Sarva-dharman parityajya mam ekam saranam vraja. He’s canvassing personally.

paritranaya sadhunam
  vinasaya ca duskrtam
dharma-samsthapanarthaya
  sambhavami yuge yuge

“To deliver the pious and to annihilate the miscreants, as well as to reestablish the principles of religion, I Myself appear, millennium after millennium.” (Gita 4.8)

So, the same thing is entrusted to another devotee, who spreads—he’s acharya. So Krishna says, the acharya . . . Here it is said, advaitam harinadvaitad. Of course, Advaita Acharya is expansion of visnu-tattva, but any acharya is to be considered identical with the Lord. The Lord says that: acaryam mam vijaniyan—“One should understand the acharya.” Acaryam bhakti-samsanat. Acharya means one who is spreading the pure bhakti cult. “That acharya,” Krishna says, “you should consider as Myself.”

acaryam mam vijaniyan
  navamanyeta karhicit
na martya-buddhyasuyeta
  sarva-deva-mayo guruh

“One should know the acarya as Myself and never disrespect him in any way. One should not envy him, thinking him an ordinary man, for he is the representative of all the demigods.” (SB 11.17.27, Cc Adi 1.46).

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Srila Gopala Bhatta Gosvami’s Appearance Day

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Jan 252019
 

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 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, Gopal 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]

Celebrating the Juhu Temple Opening

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Jan 142019
 

Today, January 14, Makara-sankranti, marks the anniversary of the grand opening of Sri Sri Radha-Rasabihari’s temple and cultural complex in Juhu, Bombay.

Two days after the opening, The New York Times ran an article on the front page of its second section, with the headline “Hare Krishna Sect Displays Vitality At Its New $2 Million Temple in India”:

“JUHU, India, Jan. 15—Several hundred members of the Hare Krishna sect, chanting and singing and clapping, opened a $2 million temple and cultural center here this weekend in a colorful festival of devotion.

“To the young American monks of the movement the dedication of their sumptuous carved marble temple on the Arabian seacoast here, 10 miles north of Bombay, symbolized a kind of coming of age of the sect, which they hope is becoming less controversial.

“ ‘We are gaining a broader base among the general public, in both India and America,’ explained Tamal Krishna, a 32-year-old New Yorker who is a member of the organization’s 23-member governing board. ‘We’re learning that there’s no way we’re going to give Krishna consciousness a general appeal if we make everyone shave their heads and chant “Hare Krishna” all day long.’

“But like most leaders of the movement, Tamal Krishna, who was named Thomas Herzig when he was growing up on the Upper West Side of Manhattan, does have a shaved head, a saffron-colored flowing garment called a dhoti and streaks of Ganges River mud on his forehead. Like all of them, he chants this mantra at least 1,728 times a day: “Hare Krishna, Hare Krishna, Krishna Krishna, Hare Hare, Hare Rama, Hare Rama, Rama Rama, Hare Hare.”

“The chant, which has been sung with stomping feet on hundreds of American street corners in the 12 years since the International Society for Krishna Consciousness was started in New York, was the motif of the weekend here. Crowds shouted it to the beat of drums and cymbals as each statue of Krishna was anointed, as each of the huge teak and brass temple doors was opened and as marigolds and bananas were laid in offering beside the silver-plated altars.

“But one difference between this celebration and the performances in the United States was reflected in the fact that India’s Health Minister and other high Government officials were among the speakers at the dedication ceremony, lending respectability. As a saffron-clad monk from Miami Beach put it, ‘When we come to India, we are coming home.’

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Srila Jiva Gosvami’s Disappearance Day

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Jan 082019
 

A talk by Giriraj Swami on Srila Jiva Gosvami’s disappearance day, January 14, 1994, Mauritius.

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 2–7

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

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.

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.

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Increasing the Spiritual Family

 Lectures  Comments Off on Increasing the Spiritual Family
Jan 082019
 

On Sunday, January 6, Srila Locana dasa Thakura’s appearance day, in the presence of Sri Sri Radha-Kalachandji, Srila Prabhupada, and their followers, I was pleased to officially connect five devotees to Srila Prabhupada and the guru-parampara through hari-nama initiation. Jeff Janock became Jaya Chaitanya dasa, Nishant Mehta became Nitai dasa, Sakar Panta became Shyama Gopala dasa, Rosie Panta became Radharani dasi, and Ambika Gurung became Amrita Gopi dasi. Please bless them and support them in their service to Srila Prabhupada, Sri Chaitanya Mahaprabhu, and their mission.

(The video of the ceremony can be seen on my Facebook page.)

Hare Krishna.

Yours in service,
Giriraj Swami