Nov 272014

George_Harrison_Chanting_Hare_Krishna_in_VrindavanI will never forget the moment when I heard that George Harrison had passed away, shortly after Thanksgiving in 2001. My strong feelings of separation surprised me—and made me think how important and dear George must have been to Srila Prabhupada and Sri Krishna. And I remembered my own little experience with George in Bombay.

In 1974, almost exactly forty years ago, George came to visit Srila Prabhupada at Hare Krishna Land, in Juhu. I took him around the construction site, and he expressed his appreciation for the work and encouraged us in our efforts. When at twelve-thirty we heard the conch shell blow for raja-bhoga arati, we proceeded to the small temple shed, where George chose a pair of karatalas and sang with the other devotees. Puri dasa, originally from Scotland, was doing the arati, and when he turned to offer the ghee lamp to the devotees and saw George, his hand trembled so much that, as he told me later, he was afraid the ghee lamp would fall.

After the arati, I arranged a full plate of maha-prasada for George and accompanied him to meet Srila Prabhupada in Prabhupada’s one-bedroom apartment. I left them together and returned to my office.

About two hours later, a pudgy ten- or twelve-year-old boy with glasses—the son of our friend and supporter Pranjivan G. Valia of the “Hare Krishna” house in the Juhu Vile Parle development—came to my little office at the back of the property. “I heard George Harrison is here,” he said. “Yes,” I replied, “he is.” “I want to see him,” he stated. “Well, you can’t. He’s meeting with Srila Prabhupada.” He looked me straight in the eyes—he was sizing me up—and concluded that he wasn’t going to get anywhere with me, then turned, dashed to the stairs, and bolted down the steps. “Oh my God,” I thought. “He is determined; he’s going to try to find him.” So I bounded down the stairs in hot pursuit.

I ran across to the next building, and when I reached the second landing, in front of Srila Prabhupada’s flat, I found the door ajar. The boy stood just inside, and beyond him George sat cross-legged with his back erect, like a yogi—like a perfect disciple listening attentively at the feet of his master.

With the abrupt appearance of the boy, Srila Prabhupada and George ended their meeting, exchanging some final words. George was very gracious and appreciative, and Prabhupada was very affectionate and kind.

I was upset that the boy had interrupted their meeting, but they took it as a matter of course. Maybe it was time for the meeting to end; maybe they took it as Krsna’s arrangement.

The next year, on a morning walk in Sanand, Gujarat, Srila Prabhupada recalled the meeting. “He is very nice boy—George. I have studied. Very good boy. He showed me in Bombay. He came to see me in Bombay, last year. He is keeping Jagannatha within his beadbag and chanting.”

I and many thousands—perhaps millions—of people are thankful to George for all the service he rendered to Srila Prabhupada and the Krishna consciousness movement, for making the holy name of Lord Krishna—the Hare Krishna maha-mantra—and the principles of Krishna consciousness so accessible to people all over the world and for attracting so many souls to the all-attractive Supreme Personality of Godhead, Krishna.

Hare Krishna.

—Giriraj Swami

Nov 262014

SPpranamasAt the Laguna Beach Ratha-yatra, a young man asked me why God created us. He appreciated my answer, but then he had another question. “If God is all-knowing,” he said, “He would have known that some of us would become bad, and if God is all-powerful, He could have made us different. Why didn’t He?” I told him that because God created us to enjoy loving reciprocation with Him, we must have free will, because love is voluntary. As Srila Prabhupada explained, “It is not some mechanical process—if we force in such a way they will come out like this—no. We are persons, and Krishna is a person, and our relationship with Krishna He leaves open as a voluntary agreement always, and that voluntary attitude—‘Yes, Krishna, I shall gladly co-operate, whatever You say’—that ready willingness to obey is only possible if there is love. Forcing will not make me agree. But if there is love, oh, I shall gladly do it. That is bhakti, that is Krishna consciousness.”

On another occasion, Srila Prabhupada elaborated: “God is great, and we are dependent on God. Therefore the natural conclusion is that we have to serve God. This is the whole comment. Serving means with love. Now just like these boys, my disciples, they are serving me. Whatever I say, they are immediately executing. Why? I am an Indian; I am a foreigner. Two or three years ago I was not known to them, nor they were known to me. Why they are doing that? Because it is love. Serving means developing love. So unless you develop your love for God you cannot serve Him. Anywhere. Whenever you give some service, it is based on love. Just like mother giving service to the helpless child. Why? Love. So similarly, our life will be perfect when our love is perfect with the perfect Supreme Personality of Godhead. Then it is all right. You have to learn this. This is Krishna consciousness: in a relationship with Krishna. Just like I am loving my disciples, my disciples are loving me. Why? What is the medium? Krishna.”

And again, in a lecture in Bombay: “Brahmacari means living under direction of guru, guror hitam [only for the benefit of the guru]. And guror hitam: how he can be simply thinking of benefiting the spiritual master. Unless that position comes, nobody can serve guru. It is not an artificial thing. The brahmacari, the disciple, must have genuine love for guru. Then he can be under his control.”

Why didn’t God force us to be good? Because without free will, without individuality, we would be unable to enjoy loving reciprocation with Him. And without pure, spiritual love, how would we ever experience the happiness for which we were created?

—Giriraj Swami

Nov 132014

srila13sGiriraj Swami read and spoke from Srimad-Bhagavatam 7.9.28.

“Srila Prabhupada was paraphrasing a statement from The Nectar of Devotion, that anyone who has any aspiration to satisfy his senses by becoming more and more important, either in the material or in the spiritual sense, cannot actually relish the really sweet taste of devotional service. But the more one becomes the servant of the servant of the servant of Krishna, the sweeter and sweeter and sweeter devotional service becomes. This is the way to realize our actual identities and to really relish the nectar of Krishna consciousness.”

Srimad-Bhagavatam 7.9.28, Phoenix, AZ

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Nov 122014

Dhruva Maharaja

“The devotee wants only one thing: to always remember Krishna and never forget Him—in happiness or distress, in good health or bad, in riches or poverty—for in that state of remembrance, one is satisfied. It is not that if one becomes a devotee the dualities of the material world will stop; they will continue. Pleasure and pain, heat and cold, happiness and distress, sickness and fitness—when one is in the material world these things will go on. A devotee doesn’t mind. He just wants to have the benediction that whatever happens—no matter what the situation—he will always remember Krishna. Otherwise, his mood is, ‘Let whatever may come, come.’ This state can be achieved through the grace of guru and Krishna.”

11.09.14, Phoenix, Arizona

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Nov 112014

SanatanaGoswamiGiriraj Swami read and spoke from Sri Caitanya-caritamrta, Madhya-lila, Chapter 22.

kona bhagye karo samsara ksayonmukha haya
sadhu-sange tabe krsne rati upajaya

Translation: By good fortune one becomes eligible to cross the ocean of nescience, and when one’s term of material existence decreases, one may get an opportunity to associate with pure devotees. By such association, one’s attraction to Krsna is awakened.

Purport by Srila Prabhupada: Srila Bhaktivinoda Thakura explains this point. Is this bhagya (fortune) the result of an accident or something else? In the scriptures, devotional service and pious activity are considered fortunate. Pious activities can be divided into three categories: pious activities that awaken one’s dormant Krsna consciousness are called bhakty-unmukhi sukrti, pious activities that bestow material opulence are called bhogonmukhi sukrti, and pious activities that enable the living entity to merge into the existence of the Supreme are called moksonmukhi sukrti. These last two awards of pious activity are not actually fortunate. Pious activities are fortunate when they help one become Krsna conscious. The good fortune of bhakty-unmukhi is attainable only when one comes in contact with a devotee. By associating with a devotee willingly or unwillingly, one advances in devotional service, and thus one’s dormant Krsna consciousness is awakened.

Sri Caitanya-caritamrta, Madhya-lila, 22.45

Cc Madhya 22, Home Program, Phoenix, Arizona

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Nov 082014

Katyayani-Vrata2Giriraj Swami read and spoke from Srimad-Bhagavatam 10.22.1-6.

“In this chapter, which narrates the activities in the winter season, Sukadeva Gosvami describes the mood of the young gopis who were not yet married; they all had the desire to get Krishna as their husband. Internally, their relationship with Krishna was already established by their divine attachment to Him, but they had not yet had the opportunity to engage in loving pastimes with Him. So they prayed to goddess Katyayani to to get Krishna, the son of Nanda Maharaja, as their husband. But they knew that Krishna was ultimately their beloved, and they had no rivalry with each other, and so all together they prayed to Katyayani to get Krishna as their husband.”


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Nov 062014

Gaura-Kishora-Dasa-Babaji-Maharaja-10Giriraj Swami spoke on Srila Gaura Kisora dasa Babaji Maharaja during the Sunday program.

“Although one could say that Srila Gaura Kisora dasa Babaji Maharaja didn’t preach, he did so through Srila Bhaktisiddhanta Sarasvati Thakura. He had an immense wealth of spiritual realization that he gave to Srila Sarasvati Thakura, who then distributed it. If I have one million dollars and don’t distribute it but give it to someone else to distribute, it is as good as if I had distributed it myself. So Srila Bhaktisiddhanta Sarasvati Thakura distributed that wealth of Krishna consciousness that he received from his guru maharaja. Although Srila Bhaktisiddhanta Sarasvati Thakura was busy in his mission, he would meet his guru maharaja on occasion. Once, while traveling by steamer on a preaching tour, a gentleman proposed to Srila Sarasvati Thakura, ‘As a gosthyanandi [preacher], your whole way of life and  outlook is quite different from that of your guru maharaja, who was a peaceful bhajananandi.’ Srila Sarasvati Thakura excitedly replied, ‘There is no disparity whatsoever in our purpose and intent.’ Referring to the boat’s engine, he explained that all the moving parts were dependent on the battery, which although small, silent, unmoving, and unseen, was the source of power for the whole operation. ‘Similarly,’ he continued, ‘my guru maharaja was sitting and chanting and didn’t mix with the public, but he is the battery for all my activities. Without him I am nothing.’ ”

Jaya Radha Madhava
Srila Gaura Kisora dasa Babaji’s Life and Legacy

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Nov 042014

Gadadhara-Pandit-200x300Giriraj Swami read and spoke from Caitanya-caritamrta, Antya-lila, Chapter 7.

“I wanted to agitate you,” the Lord [Caitanya] said, “but you did not become agitated. Indeed, you could not say anything in anger. Instead, you tolerated everything. Your mind was not disturbed by My tricks. Rather, you stayed fixed in your simplicity. In this way you have purchased Me.” (161-162) No one can describe the characteristics and ecstatic love of Gadadhara Pandita. Therefore another name for Sri Caitanya Mahaprabhu is Gadadhara-prananatha, “the life and soul of Gadadhara Pandita.” No one can say how merciful the Lord is to Gadadhara Pandita, but people know the Lord as Gadaira Gauranga, “the Lord Gauranga of Gadadhara Pandita.” (163-164) No one can understand the pastimes of Sri Caitanya Mahaprabhu. They are like the Ganges, for hundreds and thousands of branches flow from even one of His activities. (165) Gadadhara Pandita is celebrated all over the world for his gentle behavior, his brahminical attributes, and his steady love for Sri Caitanya Mahaprabhu. (166) The Lord purified Vallabha Bhatta by cleansing him of the mud of false pride. By such activities the Lord also instructed others. (167) Sri Caitanya Mahaprabhu was actually always merciful within His heart, but He was sometimes externally negligent of His devotees. We should not be preoccupied with His external feature, however, for if we do so we shall be vanquished. (168)

Giriraj Swami: “This is a very important point about judging devotees. Externally the Lord may appear to be neglecting a devotee, but we shouldn’t jump to any conclusions about the devotee, because internally the Lord is always affectionate toward His devotees. He may be dealing with the devotee in a particular way for the benefit of that devotee. He could be purifying the devotee or showing the devotee’s wonderful qualities. If we judge externally we may misjudge the devotee and misjudge the Lord’s attitude toward the devotee—and fall down.”

Gadadhara Pandita, Cc Antya 7

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Nov 042014

Gadadhara-Pandit-20-213x300” ‘No one can understand the loving intimacy between Gadadhara Pandita and Sri Caitanya Mahaprabhu. Gadadhara Pandita gave up his vow and service to Gopinatha just as one gives up a piece of straw.’ (Sri Caitanya-caritamrta, Madhya-lila, 16.137)

Purport by Srila Prabhupada: ‘Just to get Sri Caitanya Mahaprabhu’s association, Gadadhara Pandita gave up his life’s vow to engage in Gopinatha’s service. This kind of loving affection can be understood only by very confidential devotees. Ordinarily, no one can understand its purport.’

“This pastime took place on the level of pure love. On the level of pure love one has no material desires. Ordinary devotees may give up their service or be negligent in their vows because of spiritual weakness—they may have other, selfish priorities. But Gadadhara Pandita had no interest other than pure devotional service. Within the realm of pure devotional service he could not give up the association of Sri Caitanya Mahaprabhu. Even his lifelong vow of ksetra sannyasa was nothing to him; he gave it up like a piece of straw because his attachment to Sri Caitanya Mahaprabhu was unbounded. Yet ultimately he had to bear Lord Caitanya’s separation for some time for the sake of Lord Caitanya’s service.”  — Giriraj Swami

Gadadhara Pandita, Cc Madhya 16

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Nov 032014

GS_Govardhan_cowGiriraj Swami read and spoke from Srimad-Bhagavatam 10.15.

“Gopastami, the day on which Krishna and Balarama were given charge of the cows, instead of the calves, marks a very significant development in Krishna’s pastimes in Vrindavan. It is stated in the Caitanya-caritamrta that parental affection made Krishna’s childhood (kaumara) fruitful and that His boyhood (pauganda) was made successful with His friends. In the company of His friends He would take the cows to pasture. This development also increases the importance of Vrindavan. For the first time Krishna and Balarama and Their friends would sport in the Vrindavan forest.”

Gopastami, SB 10.15, Dallas

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