Sep 122018
 

My disciple Raghava Pandit das sent me the following appreciation of Gunagrahi das Goswami:

Dear Guru Maharaja,

Please accept my humble obeisances. All glories to Srila Prabhupada. All glories to Your Divine Grace.

A few days ago I saw a clip of you and others bidding farewell to Gunagrahi Maharaja—he was on his way to Vrindavan. I never met Maharaja, but I’ve always found his talks deep and profound. About a year ago, I read a blog post of his which was so inspiring that the words came alive for me in a very mystical way. Here is the posting:

Happiness and Stained Glass

Srila Prabhupada says, “If one is situated in real Krsna consciousness, he can face the most severe type of adversity and remain completely undisturbed.” (Journey to Self-Discovery 7.3)

It is easy for us to smile when things are “going our way,” but spiritual advancement allows us to be happy at all other times as well. Here is a nice quote in this connection:

“People are like stained-glass windows. They sparkle and shine when the sun is out, but when darkness sets in, their true beauty is revealed only if there is light from within.” —Elisabeth Kubler-Ross

GdG

 

Then last year I found his Vyasa-puja offering very inspiring. It’s inexplicable why the words of some devotees touch me more than others. I read only a handful of offerings last year and Maharaja’s was one of them:

Dearmost Srila Prabhupada,

When I was a little boy, I knew nothing about the soul. All I thought was that when you die you don’t exist anymore. That frightened me. Some nights I would lie awake crying after my mother had tucked me in. I would call out for her, and she would run up the stairs, hold me in her arms, and ask me what was wrong. “I don’t want to die!” I repeatedly sobbed. She would rock me back and forth, patting me on the head, saying, “Everything will be all right. Don’t worry. Everything will be all right.” I would finally lie back down, emotionally spent, and go to sleep. But that anxiety in the depths of my heart still remained.

As I grew older, I became so absorbed in sense gratification that I stopped thinking about death. Nor was the subject ever dealt with in high school or college. When we all started experimenting with mind-altering drugs at the university, we would stay awake at night speculating about what was reality, and again the subject of death came up. But this time I somehow got the idea that we were all eternal, and that, hey, maybe we were even God Himself, or Itself. The idea of being God sounded pretty darn good! Somehow, though, it never seemed to work in my practical life. Quite the contrary: my suffering and confusion only mounted.

Then that day of days finally came! Guru-krsna-prasade paya bhakti-lata-bija. You lit up my life with the magic of the holy name. I had never seen or felt anything like it! Nevertheless, it was still so hard to let go of my desire to enjoy. Maya had to beat me to the ground to get me to finally crawl helplessly through the doors of your temple. Home at last! And finally I came to understand the real meaning of death, of the self, and of God. After many lifetimes, that deep-rooted fear of nonexistence had come to an end.

Nowadays death once again is very much in the forefront of my mind. My health is declining, and the doctors say the disease is terminal. But even if it is, the purification it has put me through has been saving my life—my real life—more than any bodily cure I ever could have found. For along with my illness you have come to purify me, forcing me to learn very hard and painful lessons I had always so stubbornly avoided. You are also so mercifully flooding me with the most wonderful support of your loving devotees. On account of the above, being faced with death has thus become one of the best things that has ever happened to me, rather than the unthinkable misery I did not know how to confront when I was young.

I am reminded of how the Fifth Canto of Srimad-Bhagavatam so graphically explains that it is becoming the general rule in Kali-yuga that relatives and friends of so-called loved ones who are dying are often able to think only of how they themselves will benefit from their dear ones’ demise. They have neither the knowledge nor the desire to comfort and uplift their lifelong companions when they are about to leave this world. Thus multitudes are dying in loneliness, bewilderment, and despair.

There is no doubt that had I remained embedded in the culture I was brought up in, I would now be suffering the same fate. I would have had the same fears as always, not knowing where to turn for the answers and not feeling the genuine affection I would have so desperately needed. But you intervened and picked up this lost, sobbing spiritual child and held him in your arms, and you have been rocking him back and forth ever since. You have instilled within me that tranquility and faith I had always been looking for. I am at last convinced that, yes, just as my mother always said, “Everything will be all right.”

Your most grateful servant,
Gunagrahi Das Goswami

 

Sometimes it is said that the truth sits on the lips of a dying man. I felt that Lord Krishna had imbued his personality with a special sweetness, and I feel fortunate that his words could inspire me further in Krishna consciousness.

I hope this finds you well and in good health.

Your servant
Raghava Pandit das

Sep 112018
 

Today was Gunagrahi Maharaja’s memorial program in Vrindavan, and I wrote him the following letter: 

My dear Gunagrahi das Goswami Maharaja,

Please accept my humble obeisances. All glories to Srila Prabhupada, to your lifelong service to him, and to your divine departure to his lotus feet.

When you were leaving Dallas to go to India in the face of your cancer, you gave me the opportunity to see you off.

When you were traveling in India and dealing with so many issues and developments, you gave me the opportunity to communicate with you regularly.

When you returned to Vrindavan to stay, you allowed me to accommodate you and your staff in my house in Raman Reti, where you instituted your wonderful nightly kirtans, and in other places in my charge.

And when you were ready to leave your body, you gave me the opportunity to serve you indirectly when you moved to the Bhaktivedanta Hospice, which I helped establish.

Now you have gone to Srila Prabhupada, to serve him and his lords, and I pray that you will give me the opportunity to serve you there too.

Maharaja, I love you.

Hare Krishna.

With appreciation, gratitude, and love,

your eternal, aspiring servant,

Giriraj Swami

Sep 102018
 

———————————————-
“These are serious vows. Srila Prabhupada said that if he had relaxed the regulative principles he could have made millions of disciples. But he didn’t want cheap disciples. He said that one moon brightens the night more than millions of teeny stars twinkling. He wasn’t after twinkling stars; he was after one moon. And he said that by Krishna’s grace, he had gotten many moons.

“Prabhupada said that chanting is easy—anyone can chant—but the determination to chant, at least sixteen rounds daily, is not so easy.” —Giriraj Swami

First initiates:

1. Indira Manrakhan became Indira Radha dasi
2. Jenny Coopoosamy became as Jayasri Radhika dasi
3. Madhulika Rana became Yasomati dasi
4. Nishana Baboolall became Nitya Radhika dasi
5. Rajshree Soburrun became Rajesvari dasi
6. Satidanand Soburrun became Saci Dulal das
7. Salonee Robichon became Saci Sundari dasi
8. Cicily Carter became Sundari Priya dasi

Second initiates:

1. Abhirama das
2. Nitya-manjari dasi
3. Indira Radha dasi
4. Rajesvari dasi
5. Saci Dulal das
6. Saci Sundari dasi
7. Vrindavan Nath das
8. Karunavatara das
9. Kishori Radha dasi
—————————————

—————————————-
Talk by Giriraj Swami, Keshava Bharati Das Goswami, and Bhakti Sundar Swami
Kirtan by Giriraj Swami
Talk by Giriraj Swami and Name Giving

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Sep 092018
 

“I can honestly say that I love you, Giriraj Swami Maharaja. The love that we share is the love of a time-tested friendship that goes deep and is more satisfying than any mundane one. It is a relationship based on serving together during the pioneer days of our spiritual master’s mission. It is said that things equal to the same thing are equal to each other. Because of our deepening love for our spiritual master and Krishna, our love for each other is solidified forever. My hope is that we will meet each other back in the spiritual world. Certainly the possibility is there, for in a letter to Tusta Krishna Das, Srila Prabhupada wrote, ‘Siddhasvarupa will go, you will go, all others will go. We will have another ISKCON there. Only Mr. Nair will not go.’ ” — Indradyumna Swami

——————————–
Giriraj Swami
Giriraj Swami and Indradymna Swami
Godbrothers
Kesava Bharati Dasa Goswami
Indradyumna Swami
Partha Sarathi Dasa Goswami
Badahari Das
Cakri Das
Disciples and Friends
Anuradha Dasi
Balarama Das
Chaitanya Chandra Das
Danavari Dasi
Gauranga Chandra Das
Guru Bhakti Dasi
Indira Radha Dasi
Indulekha Dasi
Jagadisananda Das
Jaya Sri Radhe Dasi
Jivan-mukta Das
Kalpataru Dasi
Kandarpa Manjari dasi and Radhika
Karunavatara Das
Kishori Radha Dasi
Krishna Kirtan Das
Lalitadevi Dasi
Madana-mohana-mohini Dasi
Manasi Ganga Dasi
Nandini Dasi
Narayani Dasi
Nila Madhava Das
Nishana Baboolal
Nitai-lila Dasi
Nitya-manjari Dasi
Pandit Srivas Das
Premi Bhakta Das
Priti Radhika Dasi
Revati Dasi and Purushottama Kshetra Das
Saci Sundari Dasi
Sarvabhauma Das
Sita Dasi
Sukha-sagari Dasi
Sukumari Dasi
Sundari – Cicily Carter
Swarup Damodar Das
Vinod Bihari Das
Vrinda Priya Dasi
Vrindavan Natha Das
Youth in Bombay
Yasomati Dasi

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Sep 062018
 

Giriraj Swami, Janmashtami abisheik September 3, Houston from Derek Carter on Vimeo.

Giriraj Swami, Srila Prabhupada’s Vyasa-puja, September 4, Houston from Derek Carter on Vimeo.

Sep 042018
 

Vyasa-puja talk (Right click to download)

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Sep 042018
 

Giriraj Swami, Janmashtami Abhishek, September 3, Houston

“In a class at Bhaktivedanta Manor, Srila Prabhupada proclaimed from the vyasasana that ‘You can fall down, but I cannot fall down.’ After the class he was praying intently before the Deities, and a disciple asked him what he was praying. Prabhupada replied, ‘I am praying that I may never fall down.’ The disciple said, ‘But Srila Prabhupada, you just said that you can never fall down.’ And Prabhupada replied, ‘Yes, because I am always praying that I will never fall down, therefore I will never fall down.’ He also said that whenever he entered a rich person’s home he would pray that he would not be attracted by the material opulence of the householder’s life. One could say that the underlying psychology behind that prayer is fear that one will be affected by the material nature. So, that kind of fear and prayer is essential. Srila Prabhupada that his one complaint about his disciples is that they were not enough afraid of Maya. So, as stated in this verse (Srimad-Bhagavatam 10.2.8), Devaki was purified by her fear of material association.’

Janmashtami Kirtan (Right click to download)
Janmashtami Talk (Right click to download)

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Sep 042018
 

My dear Srila Prabhupada,

Please accept my prostrated obeisances in the dust of your lotus feet. All glories to Your Divine Grace.

nama om visnu-padaya krsna-presthaya bhu-tale
srimate bhaktivedanta-svamin iti namine

 “I offer my respectful obeisances unto His Divine Grace A. C. Bhaktivedanta Swami Prabhupada, who is very dear to Lord Krsna on this earth, having taken shelter at His lotus feet.”

namas te sarasvate deve gaura-vani-pracarine
nirvisesa-sunyavadi-pascatya-desa-tarine                                

 “Our respectful obeisances are unto you, O spiritual master, servant of Bhaktisiddhanta Sarasvati Gosvami. You are kindly preaching the message of Lord Caitanyadeva and delivering the Western countries, which are filled with impersonalism and voidism.”

After the conveyance of the Juhu land was finally signed in October 1973, you declared, “It was a good fight. Someone should write a book about it.”

And in Vrindavan in June 1977, you repeated the instruction when speaking with Tamal Krishna:

Tamal Krishna: Always you came out victorious. Always. I have never seen you ever defeated. In Bombay it was absolutely impossible. It seemed to be impossible.

Prabhupada: Nobody encouraged. . . . Nobody, not a single man. Who could see such a big project would come out?

Tamal Krishna: Only you could see that, you and Radha-Rasabihari.

Prabhupada: Nobody. Still, I was determined: “No, this place is very nice.”

Tamal Krishna: They should write a book about that.

Prabhupada: Yes, it is worth writing—history.

You had already instructed me, in February 1971, “You should write. This is your first business,” and over the years you repeated this instruction, and so I thought that you would want me to write that book about Juhu. As it is, I am the only devotee who was intimately involved in the project from the time you got possession of the land in 1972 to the time the temple opened in 1978.

So, with the encouragement and assistance of many well-wishers, I took up writing about you and Juhu as my first priority. In doing so, I became absorbed in your divine qualities, activities, and words, and I came to understand you—and even events to which I was party—in new, deeper ways. I felt like I was mining a limitless reservoir of precious gems.

Now, by your and Sri Sri Radha-Rasabihari and the devotees’ mercy, I have finished writing the basic narrative of the book, entitled “I’ll Build You a Temple”: A Good Fight and a Promise Fulfilled. In the process, I have come to appreciate you—and your servants—even more, first and foremost those servants who assisted you in the Juhu project, and also those who have supported me in my efforts to write about it.

Your transcendental desire to establish a center of Krishna consciousness in the remote Bombay area of Juhu was awakened even before you left for America. When you would visit Sumati Morarji, you would pass the land and think, “This would be a nice place for a temple.” Years later, Mr. Nair offered to sell you the very same land, to be “profitably utilized for big purpose, as yours,” and you brought Sri Sri Radha-Rasabihari from Their residence in a posh flat in Akash Ganga, overlooking the Arabian Sea, to a rented pandal on the property. From there They were moved onto a wood-plank platform under cloth supported by bare bamboo poles; then, for the rainy season, into a chatai hut with devotees; and on Janmastami 1972 into a makeshift structure of bricks and asbestos sheets. But you had vowed to Them, “I will build You a temple.” And finally, after years of struggle, we were able to offer Their Lordships the temple you had promised.

Continue reading »

Sep 032018
 

We read from Srimad-Bhagavatam, Canto Ten, Chapter Two: “Prayers by the Demigods for Lord Krsna in the Womb.”

TEXT 18

tato jagan-mangalam acyutamsam
  samahitam sura-sutena devi
dadhara sarvatmakam atma-bhutam
  kastha yathananda-karam manastah

SYNONYMS

tatah—thereafter; jagat-mangalam—auspiciousness for all living entities in all the universes of the creation; acyuta-amsam—the Supreme Personality of Godhead, who is never bereft of the six opulences, all of which are present in all His plenary expansions; samahitam—fully transferred; sura-sutena—by Vasudeva, the son of Surasena; devi—Devaki-devi; dadhara—carried; sarva-atmakam—the Supreme Soul of everyone; atma-bhutam—the cause of all causes; kastha—the east; yatha—just as; ananda-karam—the blissful (moon); manastah—being placed within the mind.

TRANSLATION

Thereafter, accompanied by plenary expansions, the fully opulent Supreme Personality of Godhead, who is all-auspicious for the entire universe, was transferred from the mind of Vasudeva to the mind of Devaki. Devaki, having thus been initiated by Vasudeva, became beautiful by carrying Lord Krsna, the original consciousness for everyone, the cause of all causes, within the core of her heart, just as the east becomes beautiful by carrying the rising moon.

PURPORT by Srila Prabhupada

As indicated here by the word manastah, the Supreme Personality of Godhead was transferred from the core of Vasudeva’s mind or heart to the core of the heart of Devaki. We should note carefully that the Lord was transferred to Devaki not by the ordinary way for a human being, but by diksa, initiation. Thus the importance of initiation is mentioned here. Unless one is initiated by the right person, who always carries within his heart the Supreme Personality of Godhead, one cannot acquire the power to carry the Supreme Godhead within the core of one’s own heart.

The word acyutamsam is used because the Supreme Personality of Godhead is sad-aisvarya-purna, full in the opulences of wealth, strength, fame, knowledge, beauty, and renunciation. The Supreme Godhead is never separated from His personal opulences. As stated in the Brahma-samhita (5.39), ramadi-murtisu kala-niyamena tisthan: the Lord is always situated with all His plenary expansions, such as Rama, Nrsimha, and Varaha. Therefore the word acyutamsam is specifically used here, signifying that the Lord is always present with His plenary expansions and opulences. There is no need to think of the Lord artificially as yogis do. Dhyanavasthita-tad-gatena manasa pasyanti yam yoginah (Srimad-Bhagavatam 12.13.1). Yogis meditate upon the Supreme Person within the mind. For a devotee, however, the Lord is present, and His presence need only be awakened through initiation by a bona fide spiritual master. The Lord did not need to live within the womb of Devaki, for His presence within the core of her heart was sufficient to carry Him. One is here forbidden to think that Krsna was begotten by Vasudeva within the womb of Devaki and that she carried the child within her womb.

When Vasudeva was sustaining the form of the Supreme Personality of Godhead within his heart, he appeared just like the glowing sun, whose shining rays are always unbearable and scorching to the common man. The form of the Lord situated in the pure, unalloyed heart of Vasudeva is not different from the original form of Krsna. The appearance of the form of Krsna anywhere, and specifically within the heart, is called dhama. Dhama refers not only to Krsna’s form, but to His name, His form, His quality, and His paraphernalia. Everything becomes manifest simultaneously.

Thus the eternal form of the Supreme Personality of Godhead with full potencies was transferred from the mind of Vasudeva to the mind of Devaki, exactly as the setting sun’s rays are transferred to the full moon rising in the east.

Krsna, the Supreme Personality of Godhead, entered the body of Devaki from the body of Vasudeva. He was beyond the conditions of the ordinary living entity. When Krsna is there, it is to be understood that all His plenary expansions, such as Narayana, and incarnations like Lord Nrsimha and Varaha, are with Him, and they are not subject to the conditions of material existence. In this way, Devaki became the residence of the Supreme Personality of Godhead, who is one without a second and the cause of all creation. Devaki became the residence of the Absolute Truth, but because she was within the house of Kamsa, she looked just like a suppressed fire, or like misused education. When fire is covered by the walls of a pot or is kept in a jug, the illuminating rays of the fire cannot be very much appreciated. Similarly, misused knowledge, which does not benefit the people in general, is not very much appreciated. So Devaki was kept within the prison walls of Kamsa’s palace, and no one could see her transcendental beauty, which resulted from her conceiving the Supreme Personality of Godhead.

Commenting upon this verse, Sri Viraraghava Acarya writes, vasudeva-devaki jatharayor hrdayayor bhagavatah sambandhah. The Supreme Lord’s entrance into the womb of Devaki from the heart of Vasudeva was a heart-to-heart relationship.

COMMENT by Giriraj Swami

We have gathered here at the lotus feet of Lord Krishna to remember and celebrate His appearance in this world. According to Vedic literature, Krishna is the Supreme Personality of Godhead (krsnas tu bhagavan svayam). He is the Absolute Truth, the origin of all that exists. And He is realized in three features, nondual (advaya), as explained in Srimad-Bhagavatam (1.2.11):

vadanti tat tattva-vidas
  tattvam yaj jnanam advayam
brahmeti paramatmeti
  bhagavan iti sabdyate

“Learned transcendentalists who know the Absolute Truth call this nondual substance Brahman, Paramatma, or Bhagavan.”

Brahman is the impersonal effulgence that emanates from the transcendental form of the Lord, Paramatma is the localized feature of the Lord, within the heart, and Bhagavan is the Supreme Personality of Godhead Krishna Himself, full in six opulences.

The form of Krishna is not material. Our bodies are material, distinct from the soul, which is spiritual. The Bhagavad-gita (2.13) explains,

dehino ’smin yatha dehe
  kaumaram yauvanam jara
tatha dehantara-praptir
  dhiras tatra na muhyati

“As the embodied soul continuously passes, in this body, from boyhood to youth to old age, the soul similarly passes into another body at death. A sober person is not bewildered by such a change.” The soul is a nonphysical, nonchemical particle of spiritual energy, and it is the soul that animates the body. As long as the soul is in the body, we say the body is alive. Actually, the body is never alive; it is just a machine. But it appears to be alive when the soul is present to animate it. And when the soul leaves the body, the body has no capacity to act, to function, and then we say that it is dead. In conditioned beings, such as us, there is a distinction between the body, which is made of material energy, and the soul, which is composed of spiritual energy. But in the case of Krishna, there is no difference between His body and soul. Being absolute, His body and He are the same. In our case there is a difference between us and the body, because our real identity is the soul. If someone’s father passes away, he or she will cry, “Oh, my father has left. My father is gone.” Although the body of the father is there, why do we say, “My father has gone”? Intuitively we know, especially at a time like death, that the body lying there in the room is not the person. The body is just a bag of chemicals. The real person is the soul who has left the body, and so the children and other relatives and friends cry, “Oh, he’s gone.”

But in the case of Krishna, because He is absolute, He and His body are not different. He is completely spiritual. The Brahma-samhita says, isvarah paramah krsnah sac-cid-ananda-vigrahah: “Krishna is the Supreme Godhead. He has an eternal, blissful spiritual body.”

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Sep 022018
 

We are together to celebrate the appearance of Lord Krishna in the material world. On special occasions such as this—we’ll soon be celebrating the pastime of Mother Yasoda binding Krishna with ropes, and then Krishna lifting Govardhana Hill—unless we know who Krishna is, we won’t know what to make of these seemingly fantastic stories.

The scriptures give different explanations of why Krishna, the all-loving, ever-blissful, Supreme Person, appears. The Bhagavad-gita (4.8) states, paritranaya sadhunam, vinasaya ca duskrtam/ dharma-samsthapanarthaya, that He appears to deliver the devotees and to annihilate the miscreants and to reestablish the principles of religion. Srimad-Bhagavatam (10.33.36) explains further, anugrahaya bhaktanam, manusam deham asthitah/ bhajate tadrsih kridah, yah srutva tat-parobhavet: “When the Lord assumes a humanlike body to show mercy to His devotees, He engages in such pastimes as will attract those who hear about them to become dedicated to Him.”

So, who is this Krishna? Is Krishna just a concept or, as some people think, is it that the impersonal One assumes the form of Krishna, or Rama or Shiva or Ganesh or Durga, and you can worship any form and in the end merge into the oneness? To avoid such misunderstandings, we have to know who Krishna is, and that begins with the Bhagavad-gita and then the first cantos of the Bhagavatam. Ultimately, Srimad-Bhagavatam gives us a picture of the spiritual world, what life with God in the spiritual world is like. We read about Krishna, how He comes home from tending the cows, and we read that we can live with Him forever in a loving relationship in the most splendorous land of Vrindavan. And we become attracted and think, “Oh, I want to go there; I want to experience that life.”

That is why Krishna comes, specifically in His humanlike form—to show mercy to His devotees so that by hearing about life with Krishna, we become attracted to Him and inspired to dedicate our lives to Him.

But we should not think that Krishna is only in the spiritual world; Krishna is everywhere, and if we surrender to Him, we can get the same benefit here in the material world that the pure devotees get in the spiritual world.

If you read the Krsna book or otherwise hear about the pastimes of Krishna, you’ll find that almost every day some demon was coming to Vrindavan to cause trouble. But did the residents of Vrindavan come rushing out with their ploughs and sticks to attack the demons? No. They took shelter of Krishna. And what did Krishna do? He protected them. So when we hear these stories, we should think, “Wow—Krishna is so kind to His devotees. Even in the midst of the worst calamity, if we just take shelter of Him, He will protect us. All I need to do is surrender to Krishna.”

So Krishna appears for that reason, and we can make the purpose of His appearance successful by hearing about His pastimes and dedicating ourselves to Him.

Hare Krishna.

Yours in service,
Giriraj Swami