Beautiful and Merciful Vrindadevi

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Jun 262017
 

VrindadeviRecently our beautiful deity of Vrindadevi arrived at our ashram in Carpinteria. As Srila Visvanatha Cakravarti Thakura prays in his Vrindadevi-astaka (3, 6, 8):

samasta-vaikuntha-siromanau sri-
krsnasya vrndavana-dhanya-dhamni
dattadhikare vrsabhanu-putrya
vrnde namas te caranaravindam

“Vrishabhanu’s daughter Radha made you guardian of Krishna’s opulent and auspicious abode of Vrindavan, the crest jewel of all Vaikuntha planets. O Vrinda, I bow to your lotus feet.”

rasabhilaso vasatis ca vrnda-
vane tvad-isanghri-saroja-seva
labhya ca pumsam krpaya tavaiva
vrnde namas te caranaravindam

“By your mercy people attain residence in Vrindavan, the desire to serve your masters’ lotus feet, and the desire to assist in the rasa dance. O Vrinda, I bow to your lotus feet.”

bhaktya vihina aparadha-laksaih
ksiptas ca kamadi-taranga-madhye
kpamayi tvam saranam prapanna
vrnde namas te caranaravindam

“O merciful one, I am devoid of devotion, and millions of offenses have thrown me into the turbulent waves of lust, anger, greed, and other faults. O Vrinda, I take shelter of your lotus feet.”

Hare Krishna.

Yours in service,
Giriraj Swami

Ratha-yatra, Svarupa Damodara, and Sivananda Sena

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Jun 252017
 

Mahaprabhu at Ratha-yatra in PuriOn the auspicious day of Jagannatha Ratha-yatra in Puri, two of Lord Caitanya’s most confidential associates—Srila Svarupa Damodara Gosvami and Srila Sivananda Sena—left this world to return to the supreme abode.

The inner moods of Lord Caitanya Mahaprabhu, especially in Puri, were not easy to understand, and they were unknown to most devotees. Only Svarupa Damodara Gosvami, who was the most intimate associate of Sri Caitanya Mahaprabhu in Puri, could really understand them, and by his grace we have been given the chance to understand them, too.

svarupa-gosani-prabhura ati antaranga
tahate janena prabhura e-saba prasanga

“Svarupa Gosani is the most intimate associate of the Lord. He therefore knows all these topics well.” (Cc Adi 4.105)

In the purport to this verse, Srila Prabhupada tells us about Svarupa Damodara’s history and identity: “Prior to the Lord’s acceptance of the renounced order, Purusottama Bhattacarya, a resident of Navadvipa, desired to enter the renounced order of life. Therefore he left home and went to Benares, where he accepted the position of brahmacarya from a Mayavadi sannyasi. When he became a brahmacari, he was given the name Sri Damodara Svarupa. He left Benares shortly thereafter, without taking sannyasa, and he came to Nilacala, Jagannatha Puri, where Lord Caitanya was staying. He met Caitanya Mahaprabhu there and dedicated his life for the service of the Lord. He became Lord Caitanya’s secretary and constant companion. He used to enhance the pleasure potency of the Lord by singing appropriate songs, which were very much appreciated.”

In the context of Lord Caitanya’s experience of the Ratha-yatra in Puri, Sri Caitanya-caritamrta (Madhya 13.168) confirms:

prabhura bhavanurupa svarupera gana
yabe yei rasa taha kare murtiman

“Svarupa Damodara used to sing exactly according to the ecstatic emotion of the Lord. Whenever a particular mellow was being tasted by Sri Caitanya Mahaprabhu, Svarupa Damodara would personify it by singing.”

Srila Prabhupada’s purport continues: “Svarupa Damodara could understand the secret mission of Lord Caitanya, and it was by his grace only that all the devotees of Lord Caitanya could know the real purpose of the Lord.

“Svarupa Damodara has been identified as Lalita-devi, the second expansion of Radharani. However, text 160 of Kavi-karnapura’s authoritative Gaura-ganoddesa-dipika describes Svarupa Damodara as the same Visakha-devi who serves the Lord in Goloka Vrndavana. Therefore it is to be understood that Sri Svarupa Damodara is a direct expansion of Radharani who helps the Lord experience the attitude of Radharani.”

Sri Svarupa Damodara Gosvami ki jaya! Continue reading »

“Mr. Cool” and Other Stories, by Aditya Dasi

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Jun 222017
 

Prabhupada's lotus feet, JuhuVyasa-puja Offering

This booklet of short stories is a Vyasa-puja offering to a dear godbrother, His Holiness Giriraj Swami, who selflessly gave his every life breath to serving Srila Prabhupada’s instruction by building this grand Sri Sri Radha-Rasabihariji Temple complex, thereby helping Srila Prabhupada to save the spiritual lives of millions of persons from Bombay and abroad.

 

Introduction

Recently I heard some devotees remarking that nowadays Giriraj Maharaja is manifesting symptoms of being very advanced, such as whatever he desires, whether it is for good of ISKCON, or for the good of his own disciples, or even for the good of humanity, Sri Krishna fulfills that desire. This remark made me reflect back over the years, and I considered whether there actually was ever a time that Giriraj Maharaja was not acting on the pure-devotee platform. With his mind cemented on the lotus feet of Srila Prabhupada, he was always completely detached from worldly affairs and the bodily concept of life. Though detached from family and former friends, he was at the same time congenial to them and a genuine well-wisher. He was always completely surrendered to Srila Prabhupada and could understand, and thus execute, his innermost desires for managing the temple, the devotees, and for preaching in Bombay and around the world. He was always a humble servant of his senior sannyasi godbrothers, offering all respect and giving them assistance in so many ways whenever they came to Hare Krishna Land. He was always expert and a perfectionist in everything he did.

One of the symptoms of someone on the brahma-bhuta platform is that he is completely fearless. Giriraj Maharaja exhibited this many times, especially during the temple demolition and the famous Malhotra murder case—and other times as well. His manifestation of fearlessness is quite astounding to an ordinary individual.

As I recollect back over the years on my association with Giriraj Maharaja, I see that there are many experiences which can be instructive, and therefore I would like to share them with you. As I was his secretary for many years, we went through many pastimes together, though not exactly “together,” because I was always on the ground looking up at the lotus feet of a person totally in tune with Srila Prabhupada’s heart. Really I have no qualification to glorify such an exalted devotee, but I hope that these words of appreciation will inspire some of you to take shelter of His Holiness Giriraj Swami Maharaja.

 

The Boston Temple Commander

My first introduction to Giriraj Maharaja was even before I ever met him personally. When I was in the Boston temple in 1972, the devotees there told me about this wonderful brahmacari who had been the temple commander. He used to work so hard all day—personally doing much of the temple service plus going out on sankirtana, supervising temple activities, and engaging devotees in service—that even until late at night, sometimes at 11:00 p.m., he was just then trying to chant his Gayatri mantras.

Though he had left Boston in 1970 to join Srila Prabhupada in India, the Boston devotees could not stop talking about him and his wonderful qualities.

 

Beautiful Eyes

I came to India in 1973, during the time when Giriraj Maharaja was in America for a few months because of illness. When he finally returned to India, I was told that I would be his secretary. Really I just wanted to go back to America in those days, and I started begging Tamal Krishna Maharaja to allow me to return.

But he simply told me, “Just look at Giriraj! Look at his beautiful eyes! He has such beautiful eyes. He is so pure and innocent. If you just stay here and serve him, you will become purified.” So I thought, “Yes, that’s what I want! I really want to become purified.” So in this way Tamal Krishna Maharaja was able to convince me to stay in India and become Giriraj Maharaja’s secretary. Continue reading »

Appreciating Mother Aditya

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Jun 212017
 

Mother Aditya in VrindavanYesterday, on Ekadasi, Aditya dasi left her body in Sri Vrindavan dhama while a close devotee close to her was chanting in her ear. She was a pure, devoted soul who served Srila Prabhupada and his Lords sincerely for the last forty-five years. She was our secretary in Juhu, and after Prabhupada’s departure she did wonderful service in his quarters. To assist me with the preaching, she even visited Pakistan, where she was much appreciated and loved by the local ladies. Later, when I was kept out of India because of visa problems, she moved to Vrindavan to serve Prabhupada and his Lords there, and she led an exemplary life, chanting sixty-four rounds. She was ill these last days and wanted to leave her body on Ekadasi, and Prabhupada fulfilled her desire. We feel her separation, but we take solace in knowing that she has gone to continue her service to him and his Lords in a better situation. I am praying for her. And I am reminded of Sri Caitanya-caritamrta’s description of Haridasa Thakura’s funeral ceremony: “Thereafter, Sri Caitanya Mahaprabhu bade farewell to all the devotees, and He Himself, with mixed feelings of happiness and distress, took rest.”

Hare Krishna.

In humble service,
Giriraj Swami

 

Initiation Ceremony, June 17, Carpinteria, California

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Jun 192017
 

06.17.17_05.Initiations_CarpGiriraj Swami read and spoke from Sri Caitanya-caritamrta Madhya-lila 19.151 and Adi-lila chapter 8.

“It is said in the sastra (Cc. Antya 7.11), krsna-sakti vina nahe tara pravartana: one cannot distribute the holy names of the Hare Krsna maha-mantra unless he is empowered by the Supreme Personality of Godhead. Therefore one should not criticize or blaspheme a devotee who is thus engaged.” —Cc Adi 8.24

Giriraj Swami: “If we criticize or blaspheme more advanced, or more empowered, devotees, the result will be more damaging, but actually we should not do it with any devotee. Every devotee in ISKCON is directly or indirectly engaged in propagating the holy name of the Lord; we should not blaspheme any of them. If one has the responsibility of a teacher—or even a friend—one may have to correct one’s student or friend, but that should not be done with envy or malice, to hurt the person or to build oneself up by pushing another down, but out of a genuine desire to help them.”

Bhakta Jarred, now based in Denver, became Jivan-mukta dasa, and Shilpa Gupta, from Dallas, became Sri-gopika dasi.

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Initiation Talk
Vows and Name Giving

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Happy Father’s Day

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Jun 182017
 

Srila Prabhupada with father and sonPrabhupada expressed his appreciation for his father in his dedication to his book Krsna, the Supreme Personality of Godhead, “To My Father, Gour Mohan De (1849-1930)”—“A pure devotee of Krsna, who raised me as a Krsna conscious child from the beginning of my life. In my boyhood ages he instructed me how to play the mrdanga. He gave me Radha-Krsna vigraha to worship, and he gave me Jagannatha ratha to duly observe the festival as my childhood play. He was kind to me, and I imbibed from him the ideas later on solidified by my spiritual master, the eternal father.”

As devotees, we try to encourage and facilitate our children’s Krishna consciousness, as Prabhupada’s father did with him—an effort that is solidified when our children find their eternal spiritual masters.

Later, Srila Prabhupada wrote to one of his disciples, “You have accepted me as father, so I have also accepted you as my dear and real son. Relationship of father and son on spiritual platform is real and eternal; on the material platform such relationship is ephemeral and temporary. Although I cannot give you anything as father, still I can pray to Krishna for your more and more advancement in Krishna consciousness. Your sincerity and service mood will always help you in advancing your genuine cause.”

We are indebted to all our fathers, biological and preceptorial. To those still with us, we wish you Happy Father’s Day. To those who have left us, we love you and miss you, and we shall try to act in such a way as will please you—and Krishna, the Supreme Father.

Hare Krishna.

Yours in service,
Giriraj Swami

Initiation Talks, June 7, Carpinteria, California

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Jun 112017
 

Screen-Shot-2017-06-09-at-11.30.36-AM“We may forget God, but He never forgets us. He makes arrangements to rescue us. We do not ask to be rescued. In previous ages people used to seek out a spiritual master. They realized their humble situation in this world, and as soon as their intelligence awakened they would seek out a guru:

tad viddhi pranipatena
pariprasnena sevaya
upadeksyanti te jnanam
jnaninas tattva-darsinah

‘Just try to learn the truth by approaching a spiritual master. Inquire from him submissively and render service unto him. The self-realized souls can impart knowledge unto you because they have seen the truth.’ (Bhagavad-gita 4.34)

“Nowadays no one looks for a guru, so the guru has to look for you. One disciple prayed to her guru, ‘It took you so long to find me—please don’t kick me away.’ Since we left the kingdom of God, we’ve been traveling through universe after universe, in various species of life, body after body, mixed up in this whole phantasmagoria of this material world—but the Lord never forgets us.” —Indradyumna Swami

Indradyumna Swami, Initiation Talk
Giriraj Swami, Initiation Talk and Name Giving

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Panihati Cida-Dahi Festival, June 4, Laguna Beach, California

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Jun 052017
 

06.04.17_01.Laguna_Beach“At Panihati, Raghunatha dasa went to everyone there. He bowed down to them. He took dust from their feet with genuine feelings of humility and gratitude and reverence. And he offered prayers to everyone. Seeing that this came from his heart, Lord Nityananda said that because you have served the devotees — his service was so humble — because you have served them so nicely and pleased them so much in their hearts, Lord Chaitanya Himself came to this festival. And soon you will attain freedom from all entanglements of this world. You will become one of the most intimate associates of Sri Chaitanya Mahaprabhu, under the guidance of Svarupa Damodara Gosvami.” — Radhanath Swami

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Giriraj Swami, Panihati
Radhanath Swami, Panihati
(Right click to download)

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Prabhupada Festival, May 27-28, New Dvaraka, Los Angeles

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Jun 012017
 

05.27.17_01.LA“So your present engagement is very nice; neither I think that you can be better educated in the universities. Practically we find that in your country there are so many big universities, and the government arranges for educating the entire population, but still hippies are coming out of the institutions. It is understood that in some of the big universities the entire student body has become hippies. Of course, the hippy philosophy is nice in the sense that they have become disgusted with the materialistic way of life. Therefore they want to renounce the stereotyped way of life. Unfortunately, they have no good leader, neither they have information that there is another beautiful life in Krishna consciousness.” — Srila Prabhupada letter to Giriraj Swami

Giriraj Swami: “So, that is where Srila Prabhupada came in. As he observed, ‘The hippies know what is wrong, but they don’t know what is right.’ He was the leader that we needed, and he showed us what was wrong and what was right—the beautiful life in Krishna consciousness.”

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Prabhupada Festival, Los Angeles (Right click to download)

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