Jul 302015

Ratha_puriToday we will travel with Lord Jagannatha, Baladeva, and Subhadra in procession, and we will chant the holy names of the Lord and dance for His pleasure. So we shall read from Sri Caitanya-caritamrta, Madhya-lila, Chapter Thirteen: “The Ecstatic Dancing of the Lord at Ratha-yatra.”


sa jiyat krsna-caitanyah
sri-rathagre nanarta yah
yenasij jagatam citram
jagannatho ‘pi vismitah


May the Supreme Personality of Godhead, Sri Krsna Caitanya, who danced in front of the car of Sri Jagannatha, be all glorified! By seeing His dancing, not only was the whole universe held in wonder, but Lord Jagannatha Himself became very much astonished.


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


All glories to Sri Krsna Caitanya and Prabhu Nityananda! All glories to Advaitacandra! And all glories to the devotees of Lord Sri Caitanya Mahaprabhu!


jaya srota-gana, suna, kari’ eka mana
ratha-yatraya nrtya prabhura parama mohana


All glories to the listeners of Sri Caitanya-caritamrta! Please hear the description of the dancing of Lord Caitanya Mahaprabhu at the Ratha-yatra festival. His dancing is very enchanting. Please hear of it with great attention.


panca-dasa dina isvara maha-laksmi lana
tanra sange krida kaila nibhrte vasiya


For fifteen days the Lord [Jagannatha] had remained in a secluded place with the supreme goddess of fortune and had performed His pastimes with her.

PURPORT by Srila Prabhupada

The fifteen-day period of anavasara is also called nibhrta, in honor of the solitary place where the supreme goddess of fortune lives. After living there a fortnight, Lord Jagannatha took permission from the goddess of fortune to leave.


tanhara sammati lana bhakte sukha dite
rathe cadi’ bahira haila vihara karate


Having taken permission from the goddess of fortune, the Lord came out to ride on the Ratha car and perform His pastimes for the pleasure of the devotees.


In this connection, Srila Bhaktisiddhanta Sarasvati Thakura comments that as an ideal husband, Lord Jagannatha remained fifteen days in a secluded place with His wife, the supreme goddess of fortune. Nonetheless, the Lord wanted to come out of seclusion to give happiness to His devotees. The Lord enjoys Himself in two ways, known as svakiya and parakiya. The Lord’s conjugal love in the svakiya-rasa relates to the regulative principles observed in Dvaraka, where the Lord has many married queens. But in Vrndavana the conjugal love of the Lord is not with His married wives but with His girlfriends, the gopis. Conjugal love with thegopis is called parakiya-rasa. Lord Jagannatha leaves the secluded place where He enjoys the company of the supreme goddess of fortune in svakiya-rasa, and He goes to Vrndavana, where He enjoys the parakiya-rasa. Bhaktisiddhanta Sarasvati Thakura therefore reminds us that the Lord’s pleasure in parakiya-rasa is superior to His pleasure in svakiya-rasa.

In the material world, parakiya-rasa, or loving affairs with unmarried girlfriends, is the most degraded relationship, but in the spiritual world this type of loving affair is considered the supreme enjoyment. In the material world everything is but a reflection of the spiritual world, and that reflection is perverted. We cannot understand the affairs of the spiritual world on the basis of our experience in the material world. The Lord’s pastimes with the gopis are therefore misunderstood by mundane scholars and word-wranglers. The parakiya-rasa of the spiritual world should not be discussed except by one who is very advanced in pure devotional service. The parakiya-rasa in the spiritual world and that in the material world are not comparable. The former is like gold, and the latter is like iron. Because the difference of the two is so great, they cannot actually be compared. However, just as a knowledgeable person can easily distinguish gold from iron, one who has the proper realization can easily distinguish the transcendental activities of the spiritual world from material activities.

COMMENT by Giriraj Swami

Fifteen days before the Ratha-yatra festival in Puri, Lord Jagannatha is brought from inside His temple onto a rooftop of the complex and is bathed, in public view, in the ceremony called Snana-yatra. After the bathing ceremony the Lord retires to a secluded place in an area inside the temple reserved for the supreme goddess of fortune. For fifteen days she serves Him with great love and devotion, and after that period, called anavasara, the Lord wants to come out of seclusion to give pleasure to His devotees, and with the permission of the goddess of fortune He goes out in the procession called Ratha-yatra. Continue reading »

Jul 202015

Lord Jagannatha inside the Gundicha TempleWe pray to Lord Jagannatha,

hara tvam samsaram druta-taram asaram sura-pate
hara tvam papanam vitatim aparam yadava-pate
aho dine ‘nathe nihita-carano niscitam idam
jagannathah svami nayana-patha-gami bhavatu me

“O Lord of the demigods, please quickly remove this useless material existence I am undergoing. O Lord of the Yadus, please destroy this vast, shoreless ocean of sins. Ah, this is certain: Lord Jagannatha bestows His lotus feet upon those who feel themselves fallen and have no shelter in this world but Him. May that Jagannatha Svami be the object of my vision.” (Sri Jagannathastaka, 8)

Jaya Jagannatha!

—Giriraj Swami

Jul 172015

Cleansing the Gundicha Temple, Cleansing the HeartWe continue our discussion of the cleansing of the heart, again from Sri Caitanya-caritamrta, Madhya-lila, Chapter Twelve, “The Cleansing of the Gundica Temple”:

TEXT 135

ei-mata puradvara-age patha yata
sakala sodhila, taha ke varnibe kata


Outside the gateway of the temple, all the roads were also cleansed, and no one could tell exactly how this was done.

PURPORT by Srila Prabhupada

In commenting on the cleansing of the Gundica temple, Srila Bhaktisiddhanta Sarasvati Thakura says that Sri Caitanya Mahaprabhu, as the world leader, was personally giving instructions on how one should receive Lord Krsna, the Supreme Personality of Godhead, within one’s cleansed and pacified heart. If one wants to see Krsna seated in his heart, he must first cleanse the heart, as prescribed by Sri Caitanya Mahaprabhu in His Siksastaka: ceto-darpana-marjanam [Cc Antya 20.12]. In this age, everyone’s heart is especially unclean, as confirmed in Srimad-Bhagavatam: hrdy antah-stho hy abhadrani. To wash away all dirty things accumulated within the heart, Sri Caitanya Mahaprabhu advised everyone to chant the Hare Krsna mantra. The first result will be that the heart is cleansed (ceto-darpana-marjanam). Similarly, Srimad-Bhagavatam (1.2.17) confirms this statement:

srnvatam sva-kathah krsna
hrdy antah-stho hy abhadrani
vidhunoti suhrt satam

“Sri Krsna, the Personality of Godhead, who is the Paramatma [Supersoul] in everyone’s heart and the benefactor of the truthful devotee, cleanses desire for material enjoyment from the heart of the devotee who relishes His messages, which are in themselves virtuous when properly heard and chanted.”

If a devotee at all wants to cleanse his heart, he must chant and hear the glories of the Lord, Sri Krsna (srnvatam sva-kathah krsnah). This is a simple process. Krsna Himself will help cleanse the heart because He is already seated there. Krsna wants to continue living within the heart, and the Lord wants to give directions, but one has to keep his heart as clean as Lord Caitanya Mahaprabhu kept the Gundica temple. The devotee therefore has to cleanse his heart just as the Lord cleansed the Gundica temple. In this way one can be pacified and enriched in devotional service. If the heart is filled with straw, grains of sand, weeds, or dust (in other words, anyabhilasa-purna), one cannot enthrone the Supreme Personality of Godhead there. The heart must be cleansed of all material motives brought about through fruitive work, speculative knowledge, the mystic yoga system, and so many other forms of so-called meditation. The heart must be cleansed without ulterior motive. As Srila Rupa Gosvami says, anyabhilasita-sunyam jnana-karmady-anavrtam [Bhakti-rasamrta-sindhu 1.1.11]. In other words, there should not be any external motive. One should not attempt material upliftment, understanding the Supreme by speculative knowledge, fruitive activity, severe austerity and penance, and so on. All these activities are against the natural growth of spontaneous love of Godhead. As soon as these are present within the heart, the heart should be understood to be unclean and therefore unfit to serve as Krsna’s sitting place. We cannot perceive the Lord’s presence in our hearts unless our hearts are cleansed.

COMMENT by Giriraj Swami

Srila Rupa Gosvami describes pure devotional service as being anyabhilasita-sunyam: without other desires. Other desires constitute the dirt in the heart, and so cleaning the heart means cleaning out the material desires, or purifying them so they are no longer material but spiritual—to serve and please Krsna. If the heart is full of other desires, it is called anyabhilasa-purna. What Rupa Gosvami advises is anyabhilasita-sunyam; he has added the suffix ita to anyabhilasa. Anyabhilasa means “no other desire”; anyabhilasita means “no other intent”—we should have no other intent in devotional service than to please Krsna. For the sake of serving Krsna, we want to keep the body and soul together, and so taking care of the body is not outside of the definition of pure devotional service. It may so happen that under certain circumstances a devotee may pray to Krsna for the protection of the body. For example, someone may come to attack us—our life may be in danger—so we may pray to Krsna to save us. But our general motivation in devotional service is not to get protection or any other benefit for the body; it is to please Krsna. Yet in some dangerous situation, we may pray to the Lord for protection—although that is not our basic motive in engaging in devotional service. That impulse for survival does not place us outside of uttama-bhakti; it is not against the principles of uttama-bhakti. Continue reading »

Jul 162015

The obserGundicha Temple in Jagannath Purivance of Gundica-marjana, the washing and cleansing of the Gundica temple, takes place on the day before Ratha-yatra, in preparation for the arrival of the Lord.

The history of Ratha-yatra goes back thousands of years, to a previous age, but for us, the specific significance of the Ratha-yatra and the cleaning of the Gundica temple was shown by Sri Caitanya Mahaprabhu when He was residing in Jagannatha Puri five hundred years ago. In His transcendental mind, the temple of Lord Jagannatha in Nilacala represented Dvakara, or sometimes Kuruksetra, and the Gundica temple in Sundaracala represented Vrndavana. And for Him, the Ratha-yatra was the process of the residents of Vrndavana meeting Krsna at Kuruksetra and bringing Him back to Vrndavana after a long separation.

Gundica is the name of the wife of King Indradyumna, the great devotee who wanted to have darsana of Nila-Madhava and who, in separation from Nila-Madhava, arranged to have a deity carved—ultimately resulting in the appearance of Lord Jagannatha, along with Baladeva and Subhadra. Marjana means “cleaning,” as we sing daily in the Gurvastakam: mandira-marjanadau. The spiritual master engages the disciples in cleaning the Lord’s temple (tan-mandira-marjanadau yuktasya bhaktams ca niyunjato ’pi).

In Jagannatha Puri, eight days after the Ratha-yatra is the return Ratha-yatra. Thus, for eight days Lord Jagannatha (Krsna), along with His brother, Baladeva, and sister, Subhadra, stay in the Gundica temple.

Four days after the first journey (yatra), Laksmi, the goddess of fortune, the eternal consort of Lord Jagannatha, comes to see the Lord. Srila Prabhupada explains, “Lord Jagannatha has left His wife, the goddess of fortune, and gone to Vrndavana, which is the Gundica temple. Due to separation from the Lord, the goddess of fortune decides to come to see the Lord at Gundica. The coming of the goddess of fortune to Gundica is celebrated as Hera-pancami.” (Cc Madhya 14.107 purport) Hera means “to see” and refers to the goddess of fortune going to see Lord Jagannatha. Pancami means “the fifth day,” referring to this pastime taking place on the fifth day of the lunar cycle.

The goddess of fortune, jealous and angry because her husband has been away for so long and thus has neglected her, comes with her maidservants to the Gundica temple to force the servants of Lord Jagannatha to bring Him back to Nilacala. “When Lord Jagannatha starts His car festival, He gives assurance to the goddess of fortune that He will return the next day. When He does not return, the goddess of fortune, after waiting two or three days, begins to feel that her husband has neglected her. She naturally becomes quite angry. Gorgeously decorating herself and her associates, she comes out of the temple and stands before the main gate. All the principal servants of Lord Jagannatha are then arrested by her maidservants, brought before her, and forced to fall down at her lotus feet.” (Cc Madhya 14.133 purport) Finally, they promise to bring their master, Lord Jagannatha, back to Nilacala.

Once, on the day of the Hera-pancami festival, Sri Caitanya Mahaprabhu, Svarupa Damodara Gosvami, and Srivasa Thakura had a deep and intricate discussion about different types of mana—transcendental egoistic pride and jealous anger manifested in different consorts of the Lord—because the mana exhibited by the goddess of fortune in bringing her maidservants to subjugate her husband’s servants and oblige them to bring Him back was unprecedented. Continue reading »

Jul 162015

Jagannatha_in_PuriAs the most sacred month of Purusottama draws to a close, our minds turn toward Purusottama-ksetra, Jagannatha Puri, and the celebration of the Ratha-yatra and other related festivals there.

Jaya Jagannatha!

—Giriraj Swami

Ratha-yatra Address 4.13.13 Dallas

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Jul 112015

ToSrila Prabhupada and Dr Patel on Juhu Beach in Bombayday, on the holy Parama Ekadasi day, in the sacred Purusottama month, I fulfilled the Vedic injunction to take bath by sprinkling water from the Pacific Ocean in Carpinteria on my head, remembering Srila Prabhupada at Juhu Beach during Purusottama-adhika-masa. As described by Dr. C. P. Patel in a Back to Godhead magazine article:

“I proposed that on that auspicious day Srila Prabhupada take a dip in the sea along with me and the others. He agreed at once. We all planned to go to the sea with extra clothes, take a bath, and change. He accompanied us, but just near the edge of the water someone suggested that he not take a bath in the sea, since he had had a coronary episode some time back. So he halted then and there and would not enter the water. He pondered for a while and then suddenly asked me to bring some water in my palm and pour it on his head. He said, ‘That is as good as a bath on this auspicious day.’ Very intelligently, he found the means, and I obliged him. He was pleased. I touched his feet and felt satisfaction at having taken a bath in the sea with him on a very auspicious day.”

—Giriraj Swami

Jul 112015

SPandGRSGiriraj Swami read and spoke from Srimad-Bhagavatam 1.5.14.

“Even after liberation the disciple depends on the instructions of the spiritual master. Srila Prabhupada gives the example of Sri Caitanya Mahaprabhu who said to His spiritual master, Srila Isvara Puri. ‘I have been following your instruction to chant the holy names but I have become overwhelmed by different emotional transformations. Sometimes I laugh, sometimes I cry, sometimes I dance like a madman without any care for others opinions. I fear that I have become mad from this chanting. What is my position?’ Srila Prabhupada comments in the purport that Caitanya Mahaprabhu was liberated but still he consulted with His spiritual master.”

Srimad-Bhagavatam 1.5.14

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Jul 052015

On this date in 1969, Srila Prabhupada initiated me—probably the best thing that has ever happened to me. He accepted me as his disciple and chanted on my beads in Los Angeles, while I was in Boston. And he sent me the following instructive letter. —GS

Prabhupada chanting japa in Los Angeles

My dear Giriraj,

Please accept my blessings. I beg to acknowledge receipt of your letter dated July 2, 1969, sent along with your beads. I have chanted on them, and your initiated name is Giriraj. Giriraj is the name of Goverdhan Hill, on which Krishna used to tend His cows. In Vrindaban Goverdhan Hill is worshiped as a representation of Krishna. Sometimes devotees take stone from Goverdhan Hill and keep it at home as a representation of Krishna, and they worship in this way.

I am very glad to understand that you have relished at least some of the transcendental bliss of Krishna consciousness. It is a great fortune for you. Living entities are roaming within the universes in different species of life and in different planetary systems, enjoying or suffering the reaction of pious or impious activities. But they have no information how to get out of this entanglement of repetition of birth and death. Due to the darkness of ignorance, most living entities have no idea about the values of life. Therefore, one who understands the importance of Krishna consciousness must be a very fortunate soul. So I marked it in your person when I was in Boston, and I prayed to Krishna that this good soul may be aware of the importance of Krishna consciousness.

With my blessings, I am sending herewith your beads, duly chanted upon by me. You should avoid the ten offenses as far as possible, and follow the four regulative principles, as Satsvarupa will instruct you. I know your good godbrother Satsvarupa will always help you in this connection.

Regarding your $2,000, which you promised to send me within three weeks, I beg to thank you for this.* Actually, a brahmachary should contribute whatever he has got to Krishna, through the spiritual master. The spiritual master does not accept anything for his personal use, but he employs everything for Krishna’s service. Therefore the spiritual master is accepted in the renounced order of life. So far as householders are concerned, they may contribute at least half of their income to Krishna. Then life is sublime. After all, everything belongs to Krishna, and the sooner we return whatever we have got to Krishna, the better it is. That is our normal life. Regarding your stocks, you can keep them for yourself for the time being, and if need be I may ask you to deliver them in the future. Your engagements there are nice, so continue to follow rigidly.

You may inform Satsvarupa that I have sent the Krsna tape #13, so he may transcribe it and send me a copy. I will be sending further tapes henceforward, because my Nectar of Devotion is now finished and I shall concentrate on the Krsna tapes.

I hope this will meet you in very good health.

Your ever well-wisher,

A. C. Bhaktivedanta Swami

*You can directly transfer this amount to my a/c No. 12410 with the Equitable Savings & Loan Association, Fairfax, Los Angeles, California.


If You Have Time, Chant Hare Krishna, July 6, Brooklyn, New York

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Jun 282015

07.06.15_BrooklynGiriraj Swami read and spoke from Srimad-Bhagavatam 2.3.17.

“This verse indirectly confirms the greater importance of utilizing the human form of life to realize our lost relationship with the Supreme Lord by acceleration of devotional service. Time and tide wait for no man. So the time indicated by the sunrise and the sunset will be uselessly wasted if such time is not properly utilized for realizing identification of spiritual values. Even a fraction of the duration of life wasted cannot be compensated by any amount of gold.”

—SB 2.3.17 purport

Srimad-Bhagavatam 2.3.17

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Real Service Gives Permanent Satisfaction, June 6, Towaco, New Jersey

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Jun 222015

Srila-Prabhupada-Chants-on-Devotees-Beads-at-Initiation-620x350We were out on the street when suddenly I had a clear and vivid perception and realization that I was not the body— that I was something completely different. It was a very joyful and blissful experience:

brahma-bhutah prasannatma
na socati na kanksati
samah sarvesu bhutesu
mad-bhaktim labhate param

“One who is thus transcendentally situated at once realizes the Supreme Brahman and becomes fully joyful. He never laments or desires to have anything. He is equally disposed toward every living entity. In that state he attains pure devotional service unto Me.” (Bhagavad-gita 18.54)

I started to weep, it was such a wonderful experience. I mentioned it to some devotees, and they suggested that Srila Prabhupada might have been chanting on my initiation beads at that moment. And it is possible, because a couple of days later Srila Prabhupada’s letter came with my beads, and it was dated that day. It stated, “I beg to acknowledge receipt of your letter dated July 2, 1969, sent along with your beads. I have chanted on them, and your initiated name is Giriraj. Giriraj is the name of Govardhan Hill, on which Krishna used to tend His cows. In Vrindavan Govardhan Hill is worshiped as a representation of Krishna. . . . So, I marked it in your person when I was in Boston, and I prayed to Krishna that this good soul may be aware of the importance of Krishna consciousness.”

Towaco Talk
Towaco Kirtan

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