Nov 152018

Today is Gopastami, the day on which Krishna and Balarama and other boys Their age, who previously had tended the calves, were given charge of the cows. This event is described in Srimad-Bhagavatam (10.15.1):

tatas ca pauganda-vayah-sritau vraje
  babhuvatus tau pasu-pala-sammatau
gas carayantau sakhibhih samam padair
  vrndavanam punyam ativa cakratuh

“When Lord Rama and Lord Krsna attained the age of pauganda [six to ten] while living in Vrndavana, the cowherd men allowed Them to take up the task of tending the cows. Engaging thus in the company of Their friends, the two boys rendered the land of Vrndavana most auspicious by imprinting upon it the marks of Their lotus feet.”

As stated in the purport: “Since Lord Krsna’s spiritual body had apparently grown slightly in age and strength, the senior men of Vrndavana, headed by Nanda Maharaja, decided to promote Krsna from the task of herding calves to the status of a regular cowherd boy. He would now take care of the full-grown cows, bulls, and oxen. Out of great affection, Nanda Maharaja had previously considered Krsna too small and immature to take care of full-grown cows and bulls. It is stated in the Karttika-mahatmya section of the Padma Purana:

suklastami karttike tu
  smrta gopastami budhaih
tad-dinad vasudevo ’bhud
  gopah purvam tu vatsapah

‘The eighth lunar day of the bright fortnight of the month of Karttika is known by authorities as Gopastami. From that day, Lord Vasudeva served as a cowherd, whereas previously He had tended the calves.’

“The word padaih indicates that Lord Krsna blessed the earth by walking on her surface with His lotus feet. The Lord wore no shoes or other footgear but walked barefoot in the forest, giving great anxiety to the girls of Vrndavana, who feared that His soft lotus feet would be injured.”

The celebration was meant for only the cowherd men and boys, but Srimati Radharani also wanted to enjoy the fun, and so, because of Her resemblance to Subala-sakha, she donned his dhoti and other garments and joined Krishna. Thus, on this occasion, in temples in Vrindavan and elsewhere, Srimati Radharani is dressed as a cowherd boy.

Hare Krishna.

Yours in service,
Giriraj Swami

Nov 132018

Giriraj Swami offering arati to Srila Prabhupada.

Panel Discussion with Bhargava dasa, Dugdha-pana dasa, and Giriraj Swami
Kirtan by Giriraj Swami
Talk by Giriraj Swami

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Nov 102018

A talk by Giriraj Swami on  Srila Prabhupada’s disappearance day, November 14, 2007, Mayapur, India.

I am very grateful to Srila Prabhupada for having brought me into your association. You are his sincere followers, and many of you have been serving him for decades, from when you read or heard about him or met him in person.

Once, on his guru maharaja’s disappearance day, Srila Prabhupada said, “On the absolute platform, there is no difference between the appearance and the disappearance of the spiritual master. Both are beautiful, just like the sunrise and the sunset.” So although we feel separation, within that separation our remembrance of Srila Prabhupada is heightened, and thus we experience the beauty of his presence—in separation.

To straightaway speak about Srila Prabhupada’s departure feels abrupt to me, because it is a painful topic, but remembering Srila Prabhupada’s words that the disappearance is also beautiful, I wanted to share with you a lesson I learned from his departure.

A few days before he was to leave us, Srila Prabhupada expressed a desire to travel by bullock cart to different holy places in India. His Holiness Lokanath Swami had been traveling by bullock cart to different places of pilgrimage, and Srila Prabhupada was very enlivened when Lokanath Swami reported to him in Vrindavan. And Prabhupada said that he too would like to go on pilgrimage on a bullock cart. He asked Lokanath Swami to arrange it, and Lokanath Swami was enthusiastic, having been encouraged by Prabhupada in such a direct way. He immediately went to organize the cart and make all the arrangements. Govardhana-puja was to take place in a couple of days, and Prabhupada said that he would begin his pilgrimage by traveling on a bullock cart to Govardhana Hill to celebrate Govardhana-puja with the Vraja-vasis.

At that time, Srila Prabhupada was bedridden and, one could say, emaciated. He was unable to eat, and he was able only to sip a little liquid. So he was very gaunt and weak, with almost no energy. He would just lie on his bed, and sometimes, with great difficulty, he would speak softly, often so faintly that only those very close to him could hear his words.

There were many devotees in the room when Srila Prabhupada had his exchange with Lokanath Swami. And immediately after the discussion ended and devotees went outside, they began to express two strong, heartfelt opinions about what Srila Prabhupada should do—and, more than that, how we as disciples should relate to Srila Prabhupada and serve him.

One group, which included Lokanath Swami and other esteemed, senior disciples, such as Hamsaduta Prabhu and Baradraj Prabhu, felt that we should do just what the spiritual master orders. We shouldn’t question his order; we should just execute it. And some of the other disciples, many of whom had been attending to Prabhupada’s personal care, felt that Prabhupada’s health would not sustain his travels on a bullock cart and that, because he was so emaciated (he had practically no flesh on his bones), it would be very painful for him to go. Even if they padded the cart with a mattress, it would still be a basic bullock cart, and the roads in Vraja were very rough, so the movement of the cart would jostle Prabhupada—and he would feel pain. Some devotees feared that he might even give up his body on the way. So, they did not want him to be subjected to what they foresaw as certain pain—and perhaps the dire consequence of his death.

But this second position was very difficult to maintain under the circumstances, because Srila Prabhupada was so emphatic. “Let me travel to all the tirtha-sthanas,” he had said—to all the holy places. And whatever objections devotees had raised against the proposal, he had countered. “One-day experiment,” he had pleaded. “Rest assured. I will not die in one day.” When even Prabhupada’s kaviraja had predicted that with all the jostling on the bullock cart, Prabhupada would not survive more than two hours, Prabhupada had replied, “But I think I shall be cured.” Still, Tamal Krishna Goswami, Bhakti Charu Swami, Bhaktisvarupa Damodara Maharaja, Bhavananda Maharaja, and others felt strongly that this “experiment” would have dire consequences. But how to convince Prabhupada?

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Nov 102018

Govardhana-puja, Giriraj Swami

Posted by Kandarpa Manjari Devi Dasi on Thursday, November 8, 2018

Govardhana-puja talk by Giriraj Swami
Kirtan by Sarvatma das and Radhika
Nrsimha Prayers by Giriraj Swami

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Nov 072018

We are gathered on the auspicious occasion of Sri Govardhana-puja at the feet of Sri Giriraja Govardhana. Many of you may know the history, related in Srimad-Bhagavatam: One day Sri Krishna noticed that the cowherd men were collecting paraphernalia for worship. As the omniscient Supersoul, the Lord already understood the whole situation. Still, as a matter of etiquette, He humbly inquired from His elders, headed by Nanda Maharaja, what their purpose was. He said that no secrets should be kept by saintly persons, and certainly not from friends and relatives. Nanda Maharaja answered that the paraphernalia was being gathered for the worship of King Indra, because King Indra sends rains that sustain all creatures.

Krishna proceeded to give many arguments against the Indra-yajna, and although many of the arguments came in the category of Karma-mimamsa, which is not really the philosophy of Srimad-Bhagavatam or Krishna consciousness, Krishna put them forward just to stop the impending sacrifice and curb Indra’s false pride. Then Lord Krishna proposed that the paraphernalia for the worship of Indra be used for the worship of the cows, the brahmans, and Govardhana Hill. And as will be revealed later in the pastime, Krishna demonstrated that Govardhana Hill was actually Krishna Himself.

Now I shall read a few verses from Srimad-Bhagavatam in which Lord Krishna explains the worship of Govardhana Hill that He wanted the Vraja-vasis to perform.

Canto 10, Chapter 24, “Worshiping Govardhana Hill”:


na nah puro janapada
  na grama na grha vayam
vanaukasas tata nityam


My dear father, our home is not in the cities or towns or villages. Being forest dwellers, we always live in the forest and on the hills.


Lord Krsna here points out that the residents of Vrndavana should recognize their relationship with Govardhana Hill and with the forests of Vrndavana, and not worry about a distant demigod like Indra. Having concluded His argument, Lord Krsna makes a radical proposal in the following verse.

COMMENT by Giriraj Swami

Indra is one of the powerful demigods. The Bhagavad-gita, Srimad-Bhagavatam, and other scriptures explain that there is one Supreme Lord, Krishna (isvarah paramah krsnah), but that He has many powerful servants whom He entrusts with the management of different universal affairs. Thus, Krishna is like the king and the demigods are like His ministers. As in the ordinary world there is a minister or secretary in charge of energy, so there are demigods in charge of various necessities of life. For example, Indra is in charge of the rain, Vayu is in charge of the air, and Varuna is in charge of the waters. The goddess Sarasvati is in charge of knowledge and culture and music. And on another level, Brahma is in charge of creation, and Shiva is in charge of destruction. These different demigods are servants of Krishna, just as ministers are servants of the king.

If we pray to a demigod or worship a demigod, he may give us some material boon, but in the Bhagavad-gita Lord Krishna says that such worship is avidhi-purvakam, not proper, and that such worship is actually meant for Him. Because Krishna is in the heart of every living entity, He is also in the hearts of all the demigods. So even if we pray to a demigod, the demigod has no power to grant the prayer without the sanction of Krishna within the heart. In other words, the demigods are not independent.

When we chant the holy name, we’re advised to avoid certain offenses (nama-aparadhas). The first is to blaspheme the devotees who have dedicated their lives for propagating the holy name. And another offense is to consider the names of demigods, even the most powerful ones such as Lord Brahma and Lord Shiva, to be equal to or independent of the names of Lord Vishnu. So, the demigods are not equal to Krishna, or Vishnu, and they’re not independent of Him. If we think that they are on the same level, we are involved in committing an offense. And if we commit offenses when we chant the holy name, we don’t get the result that we’re meant to get from chanting.

Generally, impersonalists think that the demigods are equal to Krishna; they think that the Supreme ultimately is impersonal and that the same impersonal One comes in various forms—as Vishnu, Shiva, Surya, Durga, or Ganesh. And they say that ultimately one has to go beyond these different forms to merge and become one with the impersonal God, or Brahman. But devotees find such a proposal to be repugnant, because the life and bliss of a devotee come in serving the Lord. If the devotee were to merge and become one with the effulgence of God, then where would be the chance for service? Therefore, great devotees pray that they would rather live in hell than merge into the brahmajyoti, because at least in hell they can serve and glorify Krishna, which is their real happiness and life.

So, whether one is an impersonalist who thinks that we are actually meant to go beyond the different forms and merge into and become one with the impersonal effulgence of God, or whether one is just an ordinary materialist who thinks that there are many equal gods who bestow different benedictions and that according to the particular benediction one wants, one can choose a particular god to worship and get the result, the fact remains the same: Krishna is the Supreme Godhead, and all others are His servants (ekale isvara krsna, ara saba bhrtya [Cc Adi 5.142]). Pure devotees have no desire to gain any material reward for their worship. They just want to serve Krishna in love, for His pleasure. And the happiness they get from such pure devotional service far exceeds—by millions and trillions of times—even the happiness that one can get from impersonal liberation, what to speak of the insignificant happiness one can get from material facilities in this world of death.

So, devotees simply want to serve Krishna in love, and the residents of Vrindavan agreed to worship Govardhana Hill not because of all the arguments that Krishna gave, but because of their love for Him. As mentioned, Krishna’s arguments were really meant to provoke Indra and ultimately to curb his false pride. Otherwise, the devotees of Vrindavan were so in love with Krishna that they would do whatever He wanted just to please Him, out of love. No other reason was required. And that is the specific qualification of the devotees of Vrindavan: they love Krishna naturally and spontaneously, not because He is God. They do not place any condition, that if Krishna is God we will love Him but if He is not God we will not love Him. They don’t even bother about whether He’s God or not. They just love Him as the beautiful son of Nanda and Yasoda, and just to please Him they are ready to do whatever He wants.

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Dipavali: Celebrating Lord Rama’s Return

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Nov 072018

Today we are beginning a new year, according to one calculation, and celebrating the return of Lord Rama to Ayodhya. Lord Ramachandra, His brother Laksmana, and His eternal consort, Sita, had gone into exile. While in exile in the forest, Sita was kidnapped by Ravana and carried to his kingdom of Lanka. In time, Lord Ramachandra organized an army of monkeys, bears, and other creatures of the forest. He floated boulders on the ocean and created a bridge to Lanka. One may question how the Lord could make boulders float on water, but Srila Prabhupada answers, “The Lord can make huge planets float in space, so why can He not make some insignificant boulders float on water?”

Lord Rama and His army traversed the bridge to Lanka and challenged the mighty army of Ravana, and in the end Lord Ramachandra and His allies were successful. Srila Prabhupada explains that there are two types of strength: daiva and purusakara. One is the strength that one gets from one’s own intelligence and resources, and the other is the strength that one derives from higher powers, from God. And of the two, the strength that one derives from God is superior. Although from the material point of view Ravana and his army were much more powerful than the army of Lord Rama, still Lord Ramachandra’s army was successful, because they were blessed by strength from superior authorities, from the Lord Himself.

Eventually Lord Ramachandra Himself engaged in combat with Ravana and killed Him. Thus, Mother Sita was liberated from her imprisonment in Lanka. Still, Lord Ramachandra was not prepared just to accept her, because she had gone away, albeit by force, with another man. And according to Hindu tradition, a woman who has gone with another man, spent the night outside of the house, cannot be accepted back. Of course, Mother Sita was completely pure and chaste, but to demonstrate her actual position, Mother Sita was put into fire—a true “test by fire.” She emerged from the fire without harm, and thus her chastity was proved.

So, Rama, Sita, Laksmana, and Their associates returned to Ayodhya. The citizens of Ayodhya were jubilant: their lord and master was returning with Mother Sita and Laksmana. To welcome the Lord and His associates, they lit lamps and placed them on their rooftops, windows, balconies, and other places. And thus we have the festival of Diwali, or Dipavali, the festival of lamps.

The return of Lord Ramachandra to Ayodhya was a new beginning for Ayodhya, and for us the New Year also marks a new beginning. And just as Ayodhya’s new beginning was made auspicious by the arrival and continued presence of Lord Ramachandra, so our new beginning in the New Year can be made most auspicious by the presence of the Lord; just as the denizens of Ayodhya welcomed Lord Ramachandra back to Ayodhya, we can welcome the Lord into our hearts and our lives. Of course, He is already there, but we can increase our appreciation of Him and strive to feel His presence even more.

What was the effect of Lord Ramachandra’s presence in Ayodhya? And, by implication, what would be the effect of the Lord’s presence in our lives? The answer lies in a verse from Srimad-Bhagavatam.

As Lord Krishna, the original Supreme Person, includes within Him all incarnations—Rama, Nrsimha, Narayana, and so on—so the Srimad-Bhagavatam, the supreme scripture, recounts the pastimes of many of the Lord’s incarnations, including Lord Ramachandra’s. Thus, there is a summary of the Ramayana within the Bhagavatam. Today’s verse comes from that section of Srimad-Bhagavatam, Canto Nine, Chapter Ten, “The Pastimes of Lord Ramacandra.”


mrtyus canicchatam nasid
  rame rajany adhoksaje


When Lord Ramacandra, the Supreme Personality of Godhead, was the King of this world, all bodily and mental suffering, disease, old age, bereavement, lamentation, distress, fear and fatigue were completely absent. There was even no death for those who did not want it.


All these facilities existed because of Lord Ramacandra’s presence as the King of the entire world. A similar situation could be introduced immediately, even in this age called Kali, the worst of all ages. It is said, kali-kale nama-rupe krsna-avatara: Krsna descends in this Kali-yuga in the form of His holy name—Hare Krsna, Hare Rama. If we chant offenselessly, Rama and Krsna are still present in this age. The kingdom of Rama was immensely popular and beneficial, and the spreading of this Hare Krsna movement can immediately introduce a similar situation, even in this Kali-yuga.

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Damodara-lila: Works and Grace

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Nov 062018

“Srila Visvanatha Cakravarti Thakura, quoting from the Vaisnava-tosani of Srila Sanatana Gosvami, says that the incident of Krsna’s breaking the pot of yogurt and being bound by mother Yasoda took place on the Dipavali Day, or Dipa-malika. Even today in India, this festival is generally celebrated very gorgeously in the month of Kartika.” (SB 10.9.1–2 purport)

We are now in the month of Damodara. It began on the full-moon night and will continue until the next full moon. Damodara is a name for Krishna. Dama means “rope,” and udara means “belly.” So Damodara means, “one who is bound around the belly with ropes.” And you can see in the picture of Lord Damodara with Mother Yasoda that she was binding His belly with ropes. The history behind the incident is that Mother Yasoda was feeding baby Krishna with her breast milk when suddenly some milk on the fire began to boil over. So, she set aside Krishna to attend to the milk on the fire. But baby Krishna had not yet been satisfied with His mother’s milk, and when she left Him He felt frustrated and angry. So, to vent His anger and to satisfy His desire, He broke a pot of butter that was hanging from a rafter on the ceiling. When Mother Yasoda returned from attending to the milk on the fire, she saw that the butter pot had been broken and she saw little footprints smeared with butter on the floor. And she understood that the mischief was the work of her son, Krishna.

According to Vedic literatures, Krishna is the Supreme Personality of Godhead, so how is it that we are speaking of Him as if He were a baby who got frustrated and angry and made mischief? The answer is that every living entity has eternal love for Krishna within the heart, and that this love can be manifest in one of a number of relationships. The relationships we have in the material world are actually reflections of the relationships that devotees have with Krishna in the spiritual world. In the material world we have the relationship of servant and master; the relationship of friends, who are equals; the relationship of parents and children; and the relationship of husband and wife, or boyfriend and girlfriend. The relationships we have in the material world exist because they exist originally with Krishna in the spiritual world. Mother Yasoda has maternal love for Krishna, and her desire to serve Krishna as His mother is so pure and so strong that Krishna, to reciprocate with her, plays the role of her son and thus allows her to serve Him as His mother. And when Krishna plays the role of Mother Yasoda’s son, He identifies with the role so much that He actually feels as if she is His mother and He is her son.

After Krishna did His mischief, He knew that when His mother found out He would be in trouble, so He was anxiously looking here and there. And Mother Yasoda, after she put down the milk that had been boiling over on the stove, found Krishna sitting on a wooden grinding mortar. When He saw her with a stick in her hand, He began to run away from her in fear. She didn’t really intend to strike Him, but she felt that she needed to show the stick to enforce some discipline, because, like every mother, she wanted her son to be good and well-behaved and disciplined, according to her conception. So, baby Krishna began to flee in fear. He was small and agile, and she had a large body, so He could escape her. She pursued Him and became tired, but she was so determined and sincere in her desire to catch and train baby Krishna that eventually He felt compassion for her and allowed her to catch Him.

After catching Krishna, Mother Yasoda thought that she should tie Him up, not as a punishment, but to keep Him from getting into more trouble. So, she took a length of rope and attempted to bind Him around the waist. But the rope was too short by the width of two fingers. She got some more rope and added it to the first length of rope and still the rope was too short by two fingers. And she got some more rope and added it, but still the rope was too short. Mother Yasoda became perplexed: every morning she would dress baby Krsna and tie His ornamental belt around His waist, and she knew how big His waist was and how long the belt had to be, and the length of the ropes now was much longer, but still the ropes couldn’t reach around Krishna’s waist. Mother Yasoda was the wife of the king of the cowherd community, and she had lots of ropes for various purposes. Yet even after putting together all the rope she could gather, still she couldn’t get it to fasten around baby Krishna’s belly. Then Krishna, in appreciation of her ardent desire and endeavor to serve Him, took compassion on Mother Yasoda and allowed her to bind Him. But actually, He was bound not by her ropes, but by her love.

Srimad-Bhagavatam, describing the story of Mother Yasoda and Lord Damodara, explains that Krishna cannot be caught by the greatest yogis, but still He allowed Himself to be caught by Mother Yasoda. Krishna cannot be bound by any means, but still He allowed Himself to be bound by the ropes—by her love.

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Achieving Peace in Troubled Times

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Nov 062018

Amidst all the divisive and inflammatory political rhetoric right now, approaching the midterm elections in the US, Srila Prabhupada’s brief essay “The Peace Formula” seems especially relevant, timeless, and appealing. 

The great mistake of modern civilization is to encroach upon others’ property as though it were one’s own and to thereby create an unnecessary disturbance of the laws of nature. These laws are very strong. No living entity can violate them. Only one who is Krishna conscious can easily overcome the stringency of the laws of nature and thus become happy and peaceful in the world.

As a state is protected by the department of law and order, so the state of Universe, of which this earth is only an insignificant fragment, is protected by the laws of nature. This material nature is one of the different potencies of God, who is the ultimate proprietor of everything that be. This earth is, therefore, the property of God, but we, the living entities, especially the so-called civilized human beings, are claiming God’s property as our own, under both an individual and collective false conception. If you want peace, you have to remove this false conception from your mind and from the world. This false claim of proprietorship by the human race is partly or wholly the cause of all disturbances of peace on earth.

Foolish and so-called civilized men are claiming proprietary rights on the property of God because they have now become godless. You cannot be happy and peaceful in a godless society. In the Bhagavad-gita Lord Krishna says that He is the factual enjoyer of all activities of the living entities, that He is the Supreme Lord of all universes, and that He is the well-wishing friend of all beings. When the people of the world know this as the formula for peace, it is then and there that peace will prevail.

Therefore, if you want peace at all, you will have to change your consciousness into Krishna consciousness, both individually and collectively, by the simple process of chanting the holy name of God. This is a standard and recognized process for achieving peace in the world. We therefore recommend that everyone become Krishna conscious by chanting Hare Krishna, Hare Krishna, Krishna Krishna, Hare Hare / Hare Rama, Hare Rama, Rama Rama, Hare Hare.

This is practical, simple, and sublime. Four hundred and eighty years ago this formula was introduced in India by Lord Sri Chaitanya, and now it is available in your country. Take to this simple process of chanting as above mentioned, realize your factual position by reading the Bhagavad-gita As It Is, and reestablish your lost relationship with Krishna, God. Peace and prosperity will be the immediate worldwide result.

Sri Caitanya-caritamrta, “Concluding Words,” November 2, Moorpark, California

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Nov 052018

Damodarastaka by Radhika and Apsara, Moorpark
Mantras by Narottam das, Moorpark
Caitanya-caritamrta, Antya-lila 20, Conclusion, by Giriraj Swami

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Sri Rama-ekadasi—Srila Prabhupada’s Completing Sri Caitanya-caritamrta

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Nov 022018

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

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 was 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, Srila Prabhupada’s secretary at the time, Harikesa Prabhu, opened the assistants’ door just a little and said that Srila Prabhupada had completed his translation of Sri Caitanya-caritamrta the previous night, that Prabhupada had written the most beautiful glorification of his guru maharaja at the end, and that he was in a very ecstatic mood and had said that we should celebrate by having a feast. Here is Srila Prabhupada’s beautiful 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 the 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 his vani exists eternally.


In this connection we may call to memory the time when I was fortunate enough to meet His Divine Grace Srila Prabhupada, sometime in the year 1922. Srila Prabhupada had come to Calcutta from Sridhama Mayapur to start the missionary activities of the Gaudiya Matha. He was sitting in a house at Ulta Danga when through the inducement of an intimate friend, the late Sriman Narendranath Mullik, I had the opportunity to meet His Divine Grace for the first time. I do not remember the actual date of the meeting, but at that time I was one of the managers of Dr. Bose’s laboratory in Calcutta. I was a newly married young man, addicted to Gandhi’s movement and dressed in khadi. Fortunately, even at our first meeting His Divine Grace advised me to preach the cult of Sri Caitanya Mahaprabhu in English in the Western countries. Because at that time I was a complete nationalist, a follower of Mahatma Gandhi’s, I submitted to His Divine Grace that unless our country were freed from foreign subjugation, no one would hear the message of Sri Caitanya Mahaprabhu seriously. Of course, we had some argument on this subject, but at last I was defeated and convinced that Sri Caitanya Mahaprabhu’s message is the only panacea for suffering humanity. I was also convinced that the message of Sri Caitanya Mahaprabhu was then in the hands of a very expert devotee and that surely the message of Sri Caitanya Mahaprabhu would spread all over the world. I could not, however, immediately take up his instructions to preach, but I took his words very seriously and was always thinking of how to execute his order, although I was quite unfit to do so.


In his youth, Srila Prabhupada was the leader of his friends. So when Narendranath Mullik met Srila Sarasvati Thakura, he also wanted Abhay to meet him and give his verdict. But Prabhupada had not been very impressed with the sadhus he had seen, many of whom had visited his family’s home. So when Narendranath mentioned that he wanted Abhay to meet a sadhu, Abhay thought that this sadhu might be like the others, and he did not really want to meet him. There was a building near where Abhay lived, and in the building a lot of men, single men, would go out in the morning, earn some money, come back in the evening, cook some food and eat, and go to sleep, and then go out again the next morning. Among them was a man who in the morning would put on the saffron dress of a sadhu, go out, collect alms, laksmi, and then come back, change out of his saffron clothes, and join the others for their evening meal.

So, Srila Prabhupada was skeptical, and later he said that in Kali-yuga intelligent people will be skeptical because there are so many cheaters. So he resisted going, but in the end Narendranath prevailed and Abhay agreed to go with him to meet Srila Bhaktisiddhanta Sarasvati. When they arrived, Srila Bhaktisiddhanta instructed Abhay to preach the message of Sri Chaitanya Mahaprabhu in the English language to the Western world, and Srila Prabhupada argued that first India should gain political independence. As Prabhupada said, at the time there was one Bengali poet who lamented that “even uncivilized nations like China and Japan were independent, whereas India was dependent on the British.” So first India should gain independence, and then people would listen to the message of Sri Chaitanya Mahaprabhu seriously. But Srila Bhaktisiddhanta convinced him that political independence and dependence are temporary conditions and that because we are concerned with the eternal benefit of humanity, he should take up this challenge of Chaitanya Mahaprabhu. Srila Prabhupada later remarked that in his whole life he had never been defeated in any argument but that he was defeated by his guru maharaja and that he was “very much pleased to be defeated, that ‘This so-called nationalism or any ism is all temporary; the real need is self-realization.’ ”

Srila Prabhupada mentions here that he received the instructions and took them to heart and that even though the circumstances were such that he could not immediately execute them, he was always thinking of them and considering how he could. This is another lesson for us—that we may receive an instruction from the spiritual master and due to circumstances not be able to execute it immediately, but we should always keep it in our heart and think how to execute it, wait for an opportune moment to take it up, and pray for that opportunity.

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