Nov 262015

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

Nov 212015

Gaura-Kishora-Dasa-Babaji-Maharaja-10Srila Gaurakisora dasa Babaji Maharaja disappeared from this plane in 1915, one hundred years ago. Giriraj Swami spoke on his disappearance anniversary last year during the Sunday program in Dallas.

“Although one could say that Srila Gaurakisora 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 Gaurakisora dasa Babaji’s Life and Legacy

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Nov 192015

SP-GM_03_latmanam socati dinam
abandhum viklavasrubhih
stanav asicya vipine
susvaram praruroda sa

Translation: Being now alone and a widow in that forest, the daughter of Vidarbha began to lament, incessantly shedding tears, which soaked her breasts, and crying very loudly.

Purport: Figuratively the queen is supposed to be the disciple of the king; thus when the mortal body of the spiritual master expires, his disciples should cry exactly as the queen cries when the king leaves his body.

Giriraj Swami: That is certainly what happened when Srila Prabhupada left his body—not only in Vrindavan but all over the world, and here in New Dwaraka, when the announcement was made.

Purport (continued): However, the disciple and spiritual master are never separated because the spiritual master always keeps company with the disciple as long as the disciple follows strictly the instructions of the spiritual master. This is called the association of vani (words). Physical presence is called vapuh. As long as the spiritual master is physically present, the disciple should serve the physical body of the spiritual master, and when the spiritual master is no longer physically existing, the disciple should serve the instructions of the spiritual master.

Srimad-Bhagavatam 4.28.47

Srila Prabhupada’s Disappearance Festival 2015

Nov 162015

11.14.15_01.SP_Dis_LA“Once, in Detroit, a child started to make a noise while Srila Prabhupada was speaking. The mother started to chastise the child, and Srila Prabhupada stated, ‘In Vedic culture, children cannot be punished.’ Then the mother’s husband began to chastise her for having chastised the child, and Srila Prabhupada stated, ‘In Vedic culture, women cannot be punished.’ So, then the temple commander started to chastise the husband, and Srila Prabhupada stated, ‘In Vedic culture, brahmanas are not punished.” And then he added, “Our society consists of children, women and brahmanas, so no one can be punished.’ ”

Srila Prabhupada’s Disappearance Celebration — Morning Talk

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Nov 122015

Sri_Giridhari_Holding_Sri_Giri-GovardhanaWe celebrate Govardhana-puja. “When the cowherd men of Vrndavana, under instruction of Krsna, stopped offering sacrifice to the heavenly king, Indra, the whole tract of land known as Vraja was threatened with being washed away by constant heavy rains for seven days. Lord Krsna, out of His causeless mercy upon the inhabitants of Vraja, held up the hill known as Govardhana with one hand only, although He was only seven years old. He did this to protect the animals from the onslaught of water.” (SB 2.7.32)

And Srila Rupa Gosvami kindly blesses us: “May the left arm of Sri Krsna, whose eyes are like the petals of a lotus flower, always protect you. With His left arm He raised Govardhana Hill as if it were a toy.” (Brs 2.1.62, Cc M 18.38)

Hare Krsna.

The following is an archival recording from the Govardhana Retreat in 2013, entitled “Learning form Govardhana Hill.”

12.03.13 Learning from Govardhana Hill

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Nov 112015
Srila Prabhupada on Juhu Terrace

Srila Prabhupada on Juhu Terrace

Smriti and other children with Srila Prabhupada in Juhu

Smriti and other children with Srila Prabhupada in Juhu

Giriraj Swami: On the auspicious occasion of Diwali, I share with you a description by Smriti “Baby” Warrier (later initiated as Sravana dasi), whose family were tenants at Hare Krishna Land in Juhu, of how when she was a child she and her brothers wanted to set off fireworks, and how Srila Prabhupada responded.

One Diwali, in the evening, Mother Kanta was in the women’s ashram above our flat and we were outside setting off fireworks. It was around 9:00, and I guess she wanted to take rest, but we weren’t finished playing. So she started throwing buckets of water down on us. My brothers and I marched up to Srila Prabhupada’s room. Caitya-guru caught us and said, “You can’t go in there—he’s resting.” We must have made a lot of noise, because Prabhupada called, “Let them in.” My brothers went in and pleaded that we wanted to do fireworks, but Prabhupada said, “No, it’s too noisy.” So my brothers gave up and walked out. But I, the youngest, stood there and said, “But it’s Diwali—we’ve got to break some firecrackers.” Then Prabhupada said, “All right, until 10:00—but after that, no more.” So we got permission and broke firecrackers. The next day, Mother Kanta came with a plate of maha-prasada and apologized for throwing water on us.

Being so close to Srila Prabhupada, at Hare Krishna Land, you got to associate with him in a different light.

Nov 102015
Prabhupada speaking to Brahmananda on Juhu Beach

Srila Prabhupada speaking to Brahmananda Prabhu on Juhu Beach

Today Brahmananda Prabhu was placed in his samadhi in Vrindavan, and all the devotees present felt their hearts melt with love for Srila Prabhupada and Brahmananda Prabhu. I sent an offering to for the occasion, which Bhurijana Prabhu kindly read out for me.

One thing was certain in my mind—that I would be present for the dedication of Brahmananda Prabhu’s samadhi in Vrindavan—but as Srila Prabhupada said, “I have my plans, you have your plans, and Krishna has His plans.”

Brahmananda Prabhu left his body on the appearance day of Vakresvara Pandita, one of Lord Chaitanya’s most dear associates. A contemporary of Chaitanya Mahaprabhu named Devananda Pandita had no faith in Mahaprabhu and thus avoided Him, but fortunately, Devananda Pandita developed great faith in Vakresvara Pandita and rendered service to him. And by Vakresvara Pandita’s mercy, he developed faith in Sri Chaitanya Mahaprabhu and ultimately achieved His shelter.

Concerning this incident, Sri Caitanya-bhagavata (Antya 3.485–487) confirms the efficacy of serving pure devotees and the results one attains by doing so: “The service of Vaisnavas is superior to the service of Krsna. All scriptures, headed by Srimad-Bhagavatam, confirm this. There may be a doubt whether the servants of the Supreme Personality of Godhead will attain perfection, but there is absolutely no doubt that those who are attached to serving the Lord’s devotees will attain perfection. Therefore service to the Vaisnavas is the best means of deliverance.”

Brahmananda Prabhu had such faith in Srila Prabhupada’s service, and thus we are confident of his deliverance and ultimate destination.

Much has been and will be said about Brahmananda Prabhu’s extraordinary love for and service to Srila Prabhupada. His attachment to Srila Prabhupada was so great that any association with him, whether by vani or vapuh, markedly increased my loving feelings for Srila Prabhupada.

The last time I met Brahmananda Prabhu, in Vrindavan, I mentioned that for decades I had been getting messages from Srila Prabhupada that Brahmananda would be going back to Godhead at the end of this life. “Well,” he replied, “it’s funny you say that, because that’s not the message I’ve been getting”—which I take as his humility.

Just after Brahmananda Prabhu left, I heard a prayer, offered to Lord Chaitanya, that seemed to reflect his mood in relation to Srila Prabhupada—and the mood for which I aspire. “Birth after birth, You are our father, mother, son, and master. May we never forget Your lotus feet. O Lord, it does not matter where we take birth, but may we always have loving devotion for Your lotus feet.”

In any case, Brahmananda Prabhu is with Srila Prabhupada, engaged in his service, and that’s all I—or any of us—could ask for. And knowing that Brahmananda Prabhu is with Srila Prabhupada is an added impetus and incentive—an added attraction.

Brahmananda Prabhu, may your example of dedication to your spiritual master and kindness to others inspire us in our service to Srila Prabhupada and his devotees.

Please think kindly upon us and keep us close to your lotus feet, that we may engage in everlasting service to our eternal lord and master in the association of all his beloved servants.

Your eternal, aspiring servant,

Giriraj Swami

Nov 082015
Srila Prabhupada reading his own book

Srila Prabhupada reading his own book

A talk by Giriraj Swami on October 24, 2011, in Vrindavan.

In Sri Caitanya-caritamrta, Srila Krsnadasa Kaviraja Gosvami says that the pastimes of Lord Caitanya are like a lake with many beautiful lotus flowers, which are love for Krsna—Radha and Krsna. As our acaryas tell us, the Caitanya-caritamrta is perhaps the most important of all the books of the followers of Sri Caitanya Mahaprabhu, and on this date thirty-seven years ago, Srila Prabhupada completed his translation of the Caitanya-caritamrta. I will begin by describing what happened on that morning.

Whenever Srila Prabhupada was in Juhu, he would stay on the top floor of one of the tenement buildings. And every morning just before six o’clock I would walk up the stairs to his room to accompany him on his morning walk. But when another devotee and I went on the day after the Rama-ekadasi, we were surprised to find that the doors were locked. On one side were Srila Prabhupada’s quarters, and on the other side were his staff’s quarters, and both doors were locked. I wasn’t sure what to do, but I gently knocked on both doors. After a minute or two, Prabhupada’s secretary at the time, Harikesa Prabhu, opened the assistants’ door just a bit and said that Srila Prabhupada had completed his translation of Sri Caitanya-caritamrta the previous night and had written the most beautiful glorification of his guru maharaja at the end. Srila Prabhupada was in a very ecstatic mood and had said that we should celebrate by having a feast. So, here is Srila Prabhupada’s glorification of his spiritual master:


Today, Sunday, November 10, 1974—corresponding to the 10th of Karttika, Caitanya Era 488, the eleventh day of the dark fortnight, the Rama-ekadasi—we have now finished the English translation of Sri Krsnadasa Kaviraja Gosvami’s Sri Caitanya-caritamrta in accordance with the authorized order of His Divine Grace Bhaktisiddhanta Sarasvati Thakura Gosvami Maharaja, my beloved eternal spiritual master, guide, and friend. Although according to material vision His Divine Grace Srila Bhaktisiddhanta Sarasvati Thakura Prabhupada passed away from this material world on the last day of December, 1936, I still consider His Divine Grace to be always present with me by his vani, his words. There are two ways of association—by vani and by vapuh. Vani means words, and vapuh means physical presence. Physical presence is sometimes appreciable and sometimes not, but vani continues to exist eternally. Therefore we must take advantage of the vani, not the physical presence. The Bhagavad-gita, for example, is the vani of Lord Krsna. Although Krsna was personally present five thousand years ago and is no longer physically present from the materialistic point of view, the Bhagavad-gita continues.

COMMENT by Giriraj Swami

In the very first sentence Srila Prabhupada explains that he took up the translation of Sri Caitanya-caritamrta under the authorized order of His Divine Grace Srila Bhaktisiddhanta Sarasvati Thakura, and the theme of his Concluding Words is the service of the order of the spiritual master. Prabhupada describes how he read in a commentary on the Bhagavad-gita Srila Visvanatha Cakravarti Thakura’s statement that the disciple should take up the order of the spiritual master as his life and soul. Srila Prabhupada did that with the orders he received from his spiritual master, and he showed us all by example how we can associate with the spiritual master eternally through the service of the spiritual master’s instructions. This is a very important point, because as Srila Prabhupada says, physical presence is sometimes appreciable and sometimes not, but the vani exists eternally. Continue reading »