Jan 062017

Speaking on the prabhupada-chanting-on-devotees-beadsoffenses against the holy name, Srila Prabhupada said, “‘To become inattentive while chanting the holy name.’ Sravanam kirtanam: hearing and chanting. One has to hear nicely, and if he hears nicely, then he can speak nicely. But we must practice hearing . . . So many times this chanting, it is not so nice, it’s slurred, it’s unclear. No. We are not trying to be fast. We want to hear, and we should worship the holy name when we utter it. We should worship the holy name. So, we should be attentive, because it’s Krishna, the Supreme Person, we are addressing—no one less. So we should be conscious of that holy name on our lips and hear as carefully as we can.”

I pray to have even a glimmer of such realization.

Hare Krishna.

—Giriraj Swami

Jan 032017

rajani-priya-holding-photo-of-lila-saktiLast night night Swarup Damodar, Sukumari, Nikunja Viharini, and I went to visit Rose Forkash (now Rajani-priya dasi) at her home in Carpinteria. For three hours, she enlivened and inspired us with stories of her and her family’s association with and service to Srila Prabhupada. And Swarup Damodar gave me a wonderful exchange with Srila Prabhupada about her and her daughter, to read out loud.

Ramesvara: We have one mother in Los Angeles of a girl named Lila-sakti. She’s a big book distributor. And her mother, she loves this movement so much that when the deprogrammers start debating us, she stands up and yells at them that “My daughter was on drugs, hippie, before she came to this movement. This movement has saved her. If I had known about this movement when I was a young girl, I would have joined this movement!” On television she’s speaking like that, very strongly: “You have no right to criticize! You don’t know anything about this movement.” . . . She says, “You just come over to my house for lunch and I’ll tell you all about this movement, how nice it is.” She started this club, Parents for Krishna.
Prabhupada: Oh, she is very sincere. And her daughter, this Lila . . .? What is?
Ramesvara: Lila-sakti.
Prabhupada: She’s wonderful girl. She’s expert in everything.
(Room Conversation, January 20, 1977, Bhubaneswar)

Rajani-priya is now ninety-six years of age, but she is full of life—Krishna consciousness.

—Giriraj Swami

Dec 232016

From a talk by Giriraj Swami on December 17, 2000, in Ojai, California.

Our host, Urvasi dasi, called tonight’s occasion “The Holiday Festival.” In the West this is the holiday season, with Christmas and Hanukkah both coming up. 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 messenger 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.

Srila Prabhupada’s purport 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 avataras, 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.” (Bg 4.8 purport)

Srila Bhaktisiddhanta Sarasvati Thakura, the spiritual master of Srila Prabhupada, said that Jesus Christ was a saktyavesa-avatara. As we just read, avatara means one who descends. So, 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 Krsna 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 Krsna says that He is the father of all living entities, so there is no contradiction.” Continue reading »

Dec 222016

grs-presenting-hindi-wts-to-srila-prabhupadaTwo copies of the Hindi edition of Watering the Seed just arrived from India, and we offered them to our deity of Srila Prabhupada here in Carpinteria. The volume appears very nice, and I am indebted to Radha Charan, Charan Renu, Dhananjaya Krishna, Radha Priya, Hari Priya, and all the other friends and devotees who worked to bring the project to fruition. And I must also acknowledge Kalachandji, Visakha Priya, Varsabhanavi, Nikunja Vilasini, Mayapriya, and all the others who helped with the English edition. I pray that Srila Prabhupada will continue to inspire them in Krishna consciousness and that this Hindi edition will serve to bring many souls closer to Srila Prabhupada and his beloved lords, Sri Chaitanya Mahaprabhu and Lord Sri Krishna.

—Giriraj Swami


Dec 192016

srila-bhaktisiddhanta-sarasvati-thakura-disap-carp-2016Pictured here is our small deity of Srila Bhaktisiddhanta Sarasvati Thakura, at our ashram in Carpinteria, on his disappearance day, just before we offered him bhoga, pushpanjali, and arati. My spiritual master, Srila Prabhupada, said, “Bhaktisiddhanta Sarasvati Thakura came in this world to execute the mission of Caitanya Mahaprabhu. So he executed it. And when it was required, he left this place and went to another place to do the same business.” And Srila Prabhupada prayed to his spiritual master, Bhaktisiddhanta Sarasvati Thakura, to be merciful to us, Srila Sarasvati Thakura’s servant’s servants.

—Giriraj Swami


Srila Bhaktisiddhanta Sarasvati Thakura’s Disappearance Day — A Discussion by Giriraj Swami

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Dec 172016

srila_bhaktisiddhanta_sitting_cross-leggedSrila Bhaktisiddhanta Sarasvati Thakura, Srila Prabhupada’s spiritual master, is my grand spiritual master, but I feel that I never really knew him that 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, which has helped bring me closer to my spiritual grandfather.

We are all here by the mercy of His Divine Grace A. C. Bhaktivedanta Swami Prabhupada and the Supreme Lord, Sri Krsna Caitanya Mahaprabhu. There’s a line through which the mercy descends upon us, beginning with Krsna, the Supreme Personality of Godhead, and passing, one teacher after the other, through parampara, or disciplic succession. Five thousand years ago Krsna came in His original form and in the Bhagavad-gita (9.34, 18.65) He instructed, man-mana bhava mad-bhakto: “Always think of Me and become My devotee.” Five hundred years ago the same Lord Krsna came again, in the devotional form of Sri Krsna Caitanya, to explain and personally show how to be a devotee and always think of Krsna. Lord Caitanya 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. 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) He expressed this desire and prediction 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 Krsna to countries outside India. He wrote a small book in English called Caitanya 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, mrdangas, and karatalas and perform kirtana 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) Continue reading »

The Advent of the Bhagavad-gita—Some Practical Guidance

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Dec 092016

Krishna_Speaking_the_Bhagavad-gita_to_ArjunaToday is the auspicious occasion of Gita Jayanti, the day Lord Krsna spoke the Bhagavad-gita to Arjuna on the battlefield of Kuruksetra, the day of Moksada Ekadasi. To begin, we shall read from Bhagavad-gita As It Is, Chapter Nine, “The Most Confidential Knowledge,” two verses that can provide us with guidance for our lives:


api cet su-duracaro
bhajate mam ananya-bhak
sadhur eva sa mantavyah
samyag vyavasito hi sah


api—even; cet—if; su-duracarah—one committing the most abominable actions; bhajate—is engaged in devotional service; mam—unto Me; ananya-bhak—without deviation; sadhuh—a saint; eva—certainly; sah—he; mantavyah—is to be considered; samyak—completely; vyavasitah—situated in determination; hi—certainly; sah—he.


Even if one commits the most abominable action, if he is engaged in devotional service he is to be considered saintly because he is properly situated in his determination.

PURPORT by Srila Prabhupada

The word su-duracarah used in this verse is very significant, and we should understand it properly. When a living entity is conditioned, he has two kinds of activities: one is conditional, and the other is constitutional. As for protecting the body or abiding by the rules of society and state, certainly there are different activities, even for the devotees, in connection with the conditional life, and such activities are called conditional. Besides these, the living entity who is fully conscious of his spiritual nature and is engaged in Krsna consciousness, or the devotional service of the Lord, has activities which are called transcendental. Such activities are performed in his constitutional position, and they are technically called devotional service.

COMMENT by Giriraj Swami

Following Srila Bhaktivinoda Thakura, Srila Prabhupada is explaining that because devotees are living in the material world, they also have activities that they must perform in relation to material existence, in relation to society, state, and so on. Such activities cannot be avoided, because we are in the material world. We have to live in society. We have to live in a country. In the grhastha-asrama, one has to earn a living and pay taxes. We have to do so many things, and those activities are performed in the material world. When we go to the spiritual world, we won’t have to go to the office, pay taxes, or perform social functions, but for now we must.

There are, of course, constitutional activities that one performs both here and in the spiritual world. Sravanam kirtanam visnoh smaranam. We hear about Krsna. We chant about Krsna. We remember Krsna. And when we go to the spiritual world, we will engage in these same activities.

PURPORT (continued)

Now, in the conditioned state, sometimes devotional service and the conditional service in relation to the body will parallel one another. But then again, sometimes these activities become opposed to one another. As far as possible, a devotee is very cautious so that he does not do anything that could disrupt his wholesome condition.


To give an example, a person may be engaged in some work, some business, and to do his business he has to associate with nondevotees. In sastra, associating with nondevotees is discouraged and associating intimately with them is forbidden. But because the person has to earn his livelihood, he has to mix with all sorts of people, and their association is contaminating. This is an example of when conditional activities run opposite to one’s constitution.

If one is fortunate, one’s work can be done in the association of devotees. Srila Prabhupada encouraged the devotees to have businesses that would engage other devotees, so they wouldn’t have to associate extensively with nondevotees. And even better is to live in a self-sufficient community of devotees. Then you don’t have to go to the office or the shop at all. You don’t have to interact so much with the material world. You grow food, keep cows and get milk, and depend on nature and the cows. You don’t have to be involved with materialistic civilization.

So, sometimes the conditional activities run parallel to devotional service and sometimes they run opposite, and a devotee is very careful not to do anything that will disrupt his wholesome condition. He is aware that to some extent he has to interact with materialistic people in the course of his work, but he is careful not to interact with them beyond a certain point, because if he does, their association will affect his Krsna consciousness and disrupt his wholesome condition. Continue reading »

Delivering the Antidote to Today’s Ills

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Dec 052016

Srimad-Bhagavakrishna-embracing-calftam contains a discussion between Dharma, in the form of a bull, and the Earth, in the form of a cow. Eventually he asks her, “The so-called administrators are now bewildered by the influence of this age of Kali, and thus they have put all state affairs into disorder. Are you now lamenting this disorder? Now the general populace does not follow the rules and regulations for eating, sleeping, drinking, mating, etc., and they are inclined to perform such anywhere and everywhere. Are you unhappy because of this?” (SB 1.16.22)

In his purport, Srila Prabhupada writes, “The so-called administrators are all untrained in the affairs of a ksatriya. The ksatriyas are meant for administration, as the brahmanas are meant for knowledge and guidance. The word ksatra-bandhu refers to the so-called administrators or persons promoted to the post of the administrator without proper training by culture and tradition. Nowadays they are promoted to such exalted posts by the votes of the people who are themselves fallen in the rules and regulations of life. How can such people select a proper man when they are themselves fallen in the standard of life? Therefore, by the influence of the age of Kali, everywhere, politically, socially or religiously, everything is topsy-turvy, and therefore for the sane man it is all regrettable.”

What Srila Prabhupada wrote more than fifty years ago is relevant today. And the antidote would appear to be to educate people in Vedic knowledge as presented in Srila Prabhupada’s translations of Srimad-Bhagavatam and other books—delivered to them by people such as me and you.

Hare Krishna.

—Giriraj Swami

Gratitude for God’s Gifts

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Nov 242016

krishna-sharing-food-with-his-associatesIf we are at all aware of how dependent we are on God—for the food we eat, the water we drink, the air we breathe, and our very ability to eat and drink and breathe, to think and feel and do everything else we do—we will feel grateful and want to reciprocate God’s kindness. We will want to do something for He (or She or They) who has done, and continues to do, so much for us.

We often take things for granted until we lose them. I use my right hand to chant on meditation beads, and one morning I found that I had severe arthritic pain in my hand and could no longer use it for chanting. I had taken the use of my hand for granted, but when I lost its use, I resolved to never take my hand for granted and to always use it in the best way in God’s service.

How can we attempt to return some of God’s favor, some of God’s care—and love—for us? My spiritual master, Srila Bhaktivedanta Swami Prabhupada, gave one answer:

“Whatever you have got by pious or impious activities, you cannot change. But you can change your position, by Krishna consciousness. That you can change. Other things you cannot change. If you are white, you cannot become black, or if you are black, you cannot become white. That is not possible. But you can become a first-class Krishna conscious person. Whether you are black or white, it doesn’t matter. This is Krishna consciousness. Therefore our endeavor should be how to become Krishna conscious. Other things we cannot change. This is not possible.

tasyaiva hetoh prayateta kovido
na labhyate yad bhramatam upary adhah
tal labhyate duhkhavad anyatah sukham
kalena sarvatra gabhira-ramhasa
      [Srimad-Bhagavatam 1.5.18]

Kalena, by time, you will get whatever you are destined. Don’t bother about so-called economic development. So far as food is concerned, Krishna is supplying. Eko bahunam yo vidadhati kaman. He is supplying even cats and dogs and ants. Why not you? There is no need of bothering Krishna, ‘God, give us our daily bread.’ He will give you. Don’t bother. Try to become very faithful servant of God. ‘Oh, God has given me so many things. So let me give my energy to serve Krishna.’ This is required. This is Krishna consciousness. ‘I have taken so much, life after life, from Krishna. Now let me dedicate this life to Krishna.’ This is Krishna consciousness. ‘I will not let this life go uselessly like cats and dogs. Let me utilize it for Krishna consciousness.’ ”

I pray that I will dedicate this life and everything I have—everything that God has given me—fully in God’s service, following His pure devotees.

manasa, deho, geho, yo kichu mora
arpilun tuya pade, nanda-kisora

“Mind, body, and home, whatever may be mine, I surrender at Your lotus feet, O youthful son of Nanda [Krishna]!” (Bhaktivinoda Thakura, Saranagati)

—Giriraj Swami

Not Shaken, Never Disturbed

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Nov 222016

Reading Srila Prabhupada’s Light of the Bhagavata, I was struck by text 12 and his commentary on it:

storm-with-lightning-from-light-of-the-bhagavata“The mountains, although being struck by torrents of rain during the rainy season, are not shaken, just as those whose hearts are dedicated to the transcendental Personality of Godhead are never disturbed, even when harassed by great misfortune.” (LOB 12)

“Because a person who is spiritually advanced accepts any adverse condition of life as the mercy of the Lord, he is completely eligible to enter into the spiritual kingdom. Even though a person takes to the devotional service of the Supreme Lord, he may sometimes become diseased, impoverished, or disappointed by life’s events. A true devotee of the Lord always considers these sufferings to be due to past sinful activities, and thus without becoming disturbed he patiently awaits the mercy of the Supreme Lord. Such devotees are compared to high mountains, which are never agitated in any way, even when struck by powerful torrents of rain in the rainy season. Rather, such devotees remain humble in spiritual enlightenment. Free from pride and envy, they easily gain the mercy of the Lord and go back home, back to Godhead.” (LOB 12 purport)

—Giriraj Swami