Dec 292019
 

Giriraj Swami read and spoke from Sri Caitanya-caritamrta, Antya-lila, 4.71.

“ ‘Chanting the holy name is the chief means of attaining love of Godhead. This chanting or devotional service does not depend on any paraphernalia, nor on one’s having taken birth in a good family. By humility and meekness one attracts the attention of Krsna. That is the verdict of all the Vedas. Therefore if one becomes very humble and meek, he can easily attain the lotus feet of Krsna in this age of Kali. That is the fulfillment of all great sacrifices, penances and austerities because when one achieves ecstatic love of Godhead, he attains the complete perfection of life. Therefore whatever one does in executing devotional service must be accompanied by the chanting of the holy name of the Lord.’ ” —Bhakti-sandarbha 270, quoted in Cc Antya 4.71 purport

Sri Caitanya-caritamrta, Antya-lila 4.71 (Right click to download)

Dec 282019
 

Sri Caitanya-caritamrta, Adi-lila, Chapter Ten describes the branches of the tree named Sri Chaitanya Mahaprabhu.

TEXT 1

sri-caitanya-padambhoja-
madhupebhyo namo namah
kathancid asrayad yesam
svapi tad-gandha-bhag bhavet

TRANSLATION

Let me repeatedly offer my respectful obeisances unto the beelike devotees who always taste the honey of the lotus feet of Caitanya Mahaprabhu. If even a doggish nondevotee somehow takes shelter of such devotees, he enjoys the aroma of the lotus flower.

PURPORT by Srila Prabhupada

The example of a dog is very significant in this connection. A dog naturally does not become a devotee at any time. But still it is sometimes found that a dog of a devotee gradually becomes a devotee also. We have actually seen that a dog has no respect even for the tulasi plant. Indeed, a dog is especially inclined to pass urine on the tulasi plant. Therefore the dog is the number one nondevotee. But Sri Caitanya Mahaprabhu’s sankirtana movement is so strong that even a doglike nondevotee can gradually become a devotee by the association of a devotee of Lord Caitanya. Srila Sivananda Sena, a great householder devotee of Lord Caitanya Mahaprabhu, attracted a dog on the street while going to Jagannatha Puri. The dog began to follow him and ultimately went to see Caitanya Mahaprabhu and was liberated. Similarly, cats and dogs in the household of Srivasa Thakura were also liberated. Cats and dogs and other animals are not expected to become devotees, but in the association of a pure devotee they are also delivered.

TEXTS 2–6

jaya jaya sri-krsna-caitanya-nityananda
jaya advaitacandra jaya gaura-bhakta-vrnda

All glories to Lord Caitanya Mahaprabhu and Lord Nityananda! All glories to Advaita Prabhu, and all glories to the devotees of Lord Caitanya, headed by Srivasa!

ei malira-ei vrksera akathya kathana
ebe suna mukhya-sakhara nama-vivarana

The description of Lord Caitanya as the gardener and the tree is inconceivable. Now hear with attention about the branches of this tree.

caitanya-gosanira yata parisada-caya
guru-laghu-bhava tanra na haya niscaya

The associates of Sri Caitanya Mahaprabhu were many, but none of them should be considered lower or higher. This cannot be ascertained.

yata yata mahanta kaila tan-sabara ganana
keha karibare nare jyestha-laghu-krama

All the great personalities in the line of Lord Caitanya enumerated these devotees, but they could not distinguish between the greater and the lesser.

ataeva tan-sabare kari’ namaskara
nama-matra kari, dosa na labe amara

I offer my obeisances unto them as a token of respect. I request them not to consider my offenses.

TEXT 7

vande sri-krsna-caitanya-
premamara-taroh priyan
sakha-rupan bhakta-ganan
krsna-prema-phala-pradan

I offer my respectful obeisances to all the dear devotees of Sri Caitanya Mahaprabhu, the eternal tree of love of Godhead. I offer my respects to all the branches of the tree, the devotees of the Lord who distribute the fruit of love of Krsna.

PURPORT

Sri Krsnadasa Kaviraja Gosvami sets the example of offering obeisances to all the preacher devotees of Lord Caitanya, without distinction as to higher and lower. Unfortunately, at present there are many foolish so-called devotees of Lord Caitanya who make such distinctions. For example, the title “Prabhupada” is offered to a spiritual master, especially to a distinguished spiritual master such as Srila Rupa Gosvami Prabhupada, Srila Jiva Gosvami Prabhupada, or Srila Bhaktisiddhanta Sarasvati Gosvami Prabhupada. When our disciples similarly wanted to address their spiritual master as Prabhupada, some foolish people became envious. Not considering the propaganda work of the Hare Krsna movement, simply because these disciples addressed their spiritual master as Prabhupada, they became so envious that they formed a faction with other such envious persons just to minimize the value of the Krsna consciousness movement. To chastise such fools, Krsnadasa Kaviraja Gosvami very frankly says, keha karibare nare jyestha-laghu-krama. Anyone who is a bona fide preacher of the cult of Sri Caitanya Mahaprabhu must be respectful to the real devotees of Lord Caitanya; one should not be envious, considering one preacher to be very great and another to be very lowly. This is a material distinction and has no place on the platform of spiritual activities. Krsnadasa Kaviraja Gosvami therefore offers equal respect to all the preachers of the cult of Sri Caitanya Mahaprabhu, who are compared to the branches of the tree. ISKCON is one of these branches, and it should therefore be respected by all sincere devotees of Lord Caitanya Mahaprabhu.

COMMENT by Giriraj Swami

Even among Gaudiya Vaishnavas, we must be careful to avoid offenses. We must respect and recognize the service of all Vaishnavas. As Srila Prabhupada once said, if we do not give credit where credit is due, we will become envious.

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Dec 272019
 

Giriraj Swami read and spoke from Srimad-Bhagavatam 2.8.6.

“In discharging such devotional service, as ordered by Brahmaji to Narada in the preaching of Srimad-Bhagavatam, sometimes a representative of the Lord engaged in preaching work meets various so-called difficulties. This was exhibited by Lord Nityananda when He delivered the two fallen souls Jagai and Madhai, and similarly Lord Jesus Christ was crucified by the nonbelievers. But such difficulties are very gladly suffered by the devotees in preaching because in such activities, although apparently very severe, the devotees of the Lord feel transcendental pleasure because the Lord is satisfied. Prahlada Maharaja suffered greatly, but still he never forgot the lotus feet of the Lord. This is because a pure devotee of the Lord is so purified in his heart that he cannot leave the shelter of Lord Krsna in any circumstances.” —Srimad-Bhagavatam 2.8.6 purport

Srimad-Bhagavatam 2.8.6

Dec 262019
 

Fifty years ago, on December 26, 1969, in Boston, Srila Prabhupada awarded me second initiation. He said, “Sucih means purified. And another meaning of sucih is brahman. A brahman means purified. Those who are going to be sacred-threaded today should remember that they are being accepted as sucih, as brahman. After chanting for six months or one year, it is supposed that he has already become purified. Now he should be recognized that he is purified. So this sacred thread means recognition. Sacred thread means one should understand . . . Just like one understands a man is learned by the degrees M.A., B.A., or Ph.D., similarly, when there is sacred thread it is understood that he has undergone the purificatory process under superior management, or guidance of spiritual master. This is called upanayana in Sanskrit. Upanayana: bringing him more near. The first initiation is the beginning of purification, and offering the sacred thread means bringing him more near. The principle is that those who are ordinarily initiated should not touch the Deity. Only those who are in sacred thread, they should touch. This is the system.”

Hare Krishna.

Your grateful servant,
Giriraj Swami

Dec 242019
 

In the West this is the holiday season, with both Christmas and Hanukkah. As Srila Prabhupada explained, the Lord comes to this world to enlighten people with transcendental knowledge. Sometimes He comes personally, and sometimes He sends His son or His prophet or His representative, but they all come with the same message. They may speak in different languages according to the circumstances and the audience, but the essence of the message is the same: God is great; we are but small parts and parcels of God, meant to serve Him with love; we have come from God and are meant to return to Him.

One of Srila Prabhupada’s purports in the Bhagavad-gita As It Is contains a statement that relates to the holidays people in the West are about to celebrate:

“The avatara, or incarnation of Godhead, descends from the kingdom of God for material manifestation. And the particular form of the Personality of Godhead who so descends is called an incarnation, or avatara. Such incarnations are situated in the spiritual world, the kingdom of God. When they descend to the material creation, they assume the name avatara.’ [Cc Madhya 20.263­–264] There are various kinds of avatars, such as purusavataras, gunavataras, lilavataras, sakty-avesa avataras, manvantara-avataras, and yugavataras—all appearing on schedule all over the universe. But Lord Krsna is the primeval Lord, the fountainhead of all avataras. Lord Sri Krsna descends for the specific purpose of mitigating the anxieties of the pure devotees, who are very anxious to see Him in His original Vrndavana pastimes.” (Gita 4.8 purport)

Srila Bhaktisiddhanta Sarasvati Thakura, Srila Prabhupada’s spiritual master, said that Jesus Christ was a saktyavesa-avatara; he accepted that Jesus Christ descended to the earth from above. That is avatara. And saktyavesa means one who carries the power of the Lord. Thus, he accepted that Jesus Christ descended to earth with the power of the Lord to preach the message of Godhead. And Jesus Christ preached more or less the same message as Lord Krishna in the Bhagavad-gita. Sometimes people would ask Srila Prabhupada about Jesus, and Srila Prabhupada would reply, “In the Bible Jesus said that he was the son of God, and in the Bhagavad-gita Lord Krishna says that He is the father of all living entities, so there is no contradiction.”

Jesus Christ filled the role of a spiritual master, or guru. The spiritual master teaches the science of Godhead, and when a disciple surrenders to a spiritual master, the spiritual master accepts the disciple’s sinful reactions. Jesus Christ performed the same functions in relation to his followers or disciples; he taught them about God, and he accepted their sinful reactions. Sometimes Christians quote Jesus as having said, “There is no way to the Father except through me.” This statement is a little controversial in learned circles—there is some question whether the attribution is authentic or not. But in any case, Srila Prabhupada took the truth in these words to be that one cannot approach the Lord directly; one can approach the Lord only through the Lord’s representative, the spiritual master.

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Dec 232019
 

Eight days before leaving this world, Srila Bhaktisiddhanta Sarasvati instructed, in a weak, halting voice, the devotees assembled by his bedside. Those vital and immortal words were to become famous as his last address, expressing the essence of his perennial message, and would be featured in innumerable publications. Sundarananda prabhu jotted them down.

“I have upset many persons minds. Many would have considered me their enemy because I was obliged to speak the plain truth of service and devotion toward the absolute Godhead. I have given them all those troubles only so that they may turn their face toward the Supreme Personality of Godhead, without any desire for gain and with unalloyed devotion. Surely someday they will be able to understand that. All of you propagate the message of Rupa-Raghunatha with supreme enthusiasm. Our ultimate desire is to become dust at the lotus feet of the Rupanugas. All should remain united in following the asraya-vigraha for the sake of serving the advaya-jnana.”

Srila Bhaktisiddhanta Sarasvati Thakura’s Disappearance Celebration (Right click to download)

Srila Bhaktisiddhanta Sarasvati Thakura’s Disappearance Day

 Lectures  Comments Off on Srila Bhaktisiddhanta Sarasvati Thakura’s Disappearance Day
Dec 142019
 

Srila Bhaktisiddhanta Sarasvati Thakura, Srila Prabhupada’s spiritual master, is my grand spiritual master, but I feel that I never really knew him very well until I read his biography Sri Bhaktisiddhanta Vaibhava by my godbrother Bhakti Vikasa Swami. Many of the quotes and references below come from that work.

 We are all here by the mercy of His Divine Grace A. C. Bhaktivedanta Swami Prabhupada and the Supreme Lord, Sri Krishna Chaitanya Mahaprabhu. There’s a line through which the mercy descends upon us, beginning with Krishna, the Supreme Personality of Godhead, and passing, one teacher after the other, through parampara, disciplic succession. Five thousand years ago Krishna came in His original form and instructed, in the Bhagavad-gita (9.34, 18.65), man-mana bhava mad-bhakto: “Always think of Me and become My devotee.” Five hundred years ago the same Lord Krishna came again, in the devotional form of Sri Krishna Chaitanya, to explain and personally show how to be a devotee and always think of Krishna. Lord Chaitanya quoted a verse from the Brhan-naradiya Purana (38.126):

harer nama harer nama
  harer namaiva kevalam
kalau nasty eva nasty eva
  nasty eva gatir anyatha

“One should chant the holy name, chant the holy name, chant the holy name of Hari, Krishna. There is no other way, no other way, no other way for success in the present age of Kali.” He also desired and predicted:

prthivite ache yata nagaradi grama
sarvatra pracara haibe mora nama

“In as many towns and villages as there are on the surface of the earth, My holy name will be propagated.” (Cb 3.4.126) This desire and prediction were expressed at a time when it was almost impossible to imagine or believe that it could happen.

In the 1800s Srila Bhaktivinoda Thakura began the effort to spread the holy name of Krishna to countries outside India. He wrote a small book in English called Chaitanya Mahaprabhu: His Life and Precepts and dispatched copies to libraries around the world. In recent years Srila Prabhupada’s disciples have discovered copies in libraries from Canada (McGill University) to Australia. Bhaktivinoda Thakura yearned for the day when devotees from all over the world would unite in harinama-sankirtana and wrote, “Very soon the unparalleled path of harinama-sankirtana will be propagated all over the planet. . . . Oh, for that day when the fortunate English, French, Russian, German, and American people will take up banners, mridangas, and kartals and perform kirtan through their streets and towns. When will that day come? Oh, for the day when the fair-skinned men from their side will raise up the chanting of ‘Jaya Sacinandana, jaya Sacinandana ki jaya!’ and join with the Bengali devotees. When will that day be?” (Sajjana-tosani)

Srila Bhaktivinoda Thakura was a very powerful spiritual master, an acharya. After the disappearance of Sri Chaitanya Mahaprabhu and His associates, many unscrupulous people claiming to be Mahaprabhu’s followers introduced concocted philosophies and practices—even illicit activities—to the point that if an educated Bengali heard the word Vaishnava, he would immediately think the worst. In educated circles, Vaishnava had come to mean a sentimental, ignorant person with loose character who, in the guise of religion, engaged in all sorts of activities. In this precarious situation, Srila Bhaktivinoda Thakura came forward and presented the true understanding of Sri Chaitanya Mahaprabhu, speaking strongly against the deviant groups that had distorted and perverted His pure teachings and practices.

Srila Bhaktivinoda Thakura held a high position in the British rule of India—the highest an Indian could hold, and then only very rarely. He had important responsibilities in the government and had a large family, but his main interest was Sri Chaitanya Mahaprabhu and the sankirtana movement. He would sleep little and rise early. He did so much—wrote books, traveled, preached, established centers—and had a tremendous effect, especially on the people of Bengal and Orissa, including the intellectual elite, who were just then coming in touch with modern ideas from the West. He revived the true mission of Sri Chaitanya Mahaprabhu, inspiring hosts of people to join him, and pushed back the deviant groups, which lost much of their influence.

Having undertaken such a tremendous task and executed it so successfully but still being surrounded by so many parties with vested interests in covering the true intention of Sri Chaitanya Mahaprabhu, Srila Bhaktivinoda Thakura was at a loss as to who would carry on his mission. So he prayed to Krishna to send someone—one of His own associates from the spiritual realm—to continue the work. It is understood that the appearance of Srila Bhaktisiddhanta Sarasvati Thakura was the answer to Srila Bhaktivinoda Thakura’s prayers.

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