Mar 202020
 

We have got Krishna; we have got spiritual master; we have got books, Bhagavata and Gita. Now let us take advantage of it. We have taken much pain to translate these transcendental literatures into English so that you can understand. We have got fifty books. So take advantage. It is not meant for the cats and dogs. It is meant for the human beings. Not a particular class or nation. No. It is meant for all human beings. So take advantage of this knowledge, understand the philosophy of life, that “I am eternal.”

—Srila Prabhupada, talk on Srimad-Bhagavatam 6.1.1, May 21, 1975, Melbourne

Mar 192020
 

       sri visnuduta ucuh
yuyam vai dharma-rajasya
  yadi nirdesa-karinah
bruta dharmasya nas tattvam
  yac cadharmasya laksanam

 “The blessed messengers of Lord Visnu, the Visnudutas, said: If you are actually servants of Yamaraja, you must explain to us the meaning of religious principles and the symptoms of irreligion.” (SB 6.1.3) The Yamadutas had challenged, “Who are you, interfering in our business? We have come to arrest him.” So, the counterchallenge was, “You said, ‘We are servants of Dharmaraja. It is his jurisdiction. This person is impious. So this is in the jurisdiction of Dharmaraja. He has to try the case and give him punishment—criminal department, law and order. So you cannot interfere with us.’ ” Therefore the challenge was replied by the Vishnudutas, “If you are actually representatives of Dharmaraja, who tries the cases of dharma and adharma, first of all explain what is dharma and what is adharma.”

This is very nice challenge. Suppose if you say, “We are Krishna conscious persons,” one may challenge you, “First of all, explain what you know about Krishna.” That is quite natural. If you do not know about Krishna, you have no right to say that “I belong to the Krishna consciousness movement.” You have no right to say. So, your position is like that. Simply if you have tilak and kanthi [neck beads], that does not mean that you belong to the Krishna consciousness movement. Any cheater can do that. You must know the philosophy. If one challenges, you must reply. Therefore Bhaktivinoda Thakura has sung a song indicating these cheaters. He says, eo ta’ eka kalira cela: “Here is a servant of Kali.” What kind of cela [disciple]? Nake tilaka galaya mala. “He has got a tilak and galaya mala [neck beads]. Bas. That’s all.” He does not know what is the philosophy. If you do not know the philosophy of Krishna consciousness, if you simply mark your body with tilak and kanthi, then you are not proper servant; you are not qualified. So tilak, mala is necessary. Just like a policeman. A bogus man, if he dresses like a policeman, is not a policeman. He must know what is the police law, criminal law, who is to be punished, who is not to be punished, what is criminality, what is innocence. All these things he must know.

—Srila Prabhupada, talk on Srimad-Bhagavatam 6.1.38, June 4, 1976, Los Angeles

Mar 162020
 

Today is the appearance day of Srivasa Pandita, one of the members of the Pancha-tattva: sri-krsna-caitanya prabhu-nityananda sri-advaita gadadhara srivasa. In describing the Chaitanya tree, Sri Caitanya-caritamrta (Adi 10.8–11) states, “The two brothers Srivasa Pandita and Sri Rama Pandita started two branches that are well known in the world. Their two brothers were named Sripati and Srinidhi. These four brothers and their servants and maidservants are considered one big branch. There is no counting the subbranches of these two branches. Sri Caitanya Mahaprabhu held congregational chanting daily at the house of Srivasa Pandita. These four brothers and their family members fully engaged in the service of Lord Caitanya. They knew no other god or goddess.”

“In the Gaura-ganoddesa-dipika (90), Srivasa Pandita (Srivasa Thakura) is described as an incarnation of Narada Muni.” (Cc Adi 10.8 purport)

Srivasa Pandita is considered the chief among the devotees, and thus we offer him—and them—respectful obeisances and pray for their sublime mercy, following the statements of Sri Caitanya-caritamrta (Adi 1.38, 9.3):

 bhagavanera bhakta yata srivasa pradhana
tan’-sabhara pada-padme sahasra pranama

 “There are innumerable devotees of the Lord, of whom Srivasa Thakura is the foremost. I offer my respectful obeisances thousands of times unto their lotus feet. . . . All glories to the devotees of Lord Caitanya, headed by Srivasa Thakura. In order to fulfill all my desires, I remember their lotus feet.”

O Srivasa Thakura, please engage me in your divine service and that of your dear lords, servants, and other associates, following Srila Prabhupada.

Hare Krishna.

Your aspiring servant,
Giriraj Swami

Mar 152020
 

Srivasa Thakura, one of the members of the Panca-tattva, lived in Navadvipa-dhama in Mayapur, near the residence of Jagannatha Misra and Sacidevi, where Sri Chaitanya Mahaprabhu appeared. Later, when Lord Chaitanya began His sankirtana movement in Navadvipa-dhama, He and His other most confidential associates would meet at Srivasa-angana, the home of Srivasa Thakura, and have kirtan throughout the night. The kirtans at Srivasa-angana were ecstatic, and only the most intimate devotees of Sri Chaitanya Mahaprabhu were allowed to enter. In fact, the nocturnal kirtans at Srivasa-angana in gaura-lila are compared to the rasa dance in krsna-lila.

In his identity in krsna-lila, Srivasa Pandita is Narada Muni, the great preacher who travels throughout the universe chanting the holy names of Krishna and enlightening the fallen souls in Krishna consciousness. So it is most auspicious that His Holiness Sridhar Swami Maharaja left on Srivasa Thakura’s appearance day—that most auspicious day—in Sri Mayapur-dhama—that most auspicious place.

We now have a special opportunity and responsibility to honor and glorify His Holiness Sridhar Swami Maharaja.

My own association with Sridhar Swami goes back to Bombay, over thirty years ago. Srila Prabhupada had requested disciples from America to come to India to help him there, and in particular with his three main projects—Bombay, Mayapur, and Vrindavan. From 1972, Sridhar Swami served Srila Prabhupada in India, mainly in Bombay.

When we got permission from the municipality to build on Hare Krishna Land in Juhu, Bombay, Srila Prabhupada wanted Sridhar Maharaja to take charge of the construction materials. Sridhar Maharaja had a hefty build, like a football player, so Srila Prabhupada thought he would be appropriate to keep track of the construction material and make sure none of it was stolen. But Sridhar Maharaja (he wasn’t a sannyasi then, so Sridhar das Brahmachari) said that he didn’t want to look after the construction material; he wanted to preach. I was the temple president in Bombay, so I was going back and forth between him and Srila Prabhupada. Srila Prabhupada again said that Sridhar Maharaja should look after the construction materials, so I went back to deliver the message to him, but Sridhar Maharaja insisted, “I want to preach!”

Maharaja had never really preached much in India before then, and we didn’t know how well he could preach to the aristocratic Indian gentlemen we were mainly approaching at that time. But he was so sincere in his desire that he became one of the best preachers in India, one of the best in the world. This story illustrates Maharaja’s sincere desire to preach, and his strong determination to serve Srila Prabhupada and the mission even in ways that he may not have found easy.

In India, Srila Prabhupada had introduced the life-membership program. And he actually based the society’s progress there on the membership program. He said that making someone a life member was almost as good as making him a devotee. He also said that he introduced the program as a way to distribute his books, because if someone became a life member by paying a certain subscription, he would get a set of the books and a subscription to Back to Godhead magazine.

Eventually, Sridhar Swami led one of the life-membership teams in Bombay. I was the membership director, and the other leaders of teams were Maharaja, Lokanath Swami, Jagat-purusa Prabhu, and Haridasa Prabhu. In the early 1980s, Sridhar Maharaja became the Juhu temple president, and so he increasingly joined me in cultivating the most important people in Bombay. And between 1984 and 1990, when I was unable to return to India because of visa problems, Maharaja deepened his relationship with many of our most important members and they came to love him deeply.

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Mar 132020
 

There is no hopelessness. Anyone can attain the spiritual perfection. Satam prasangan mama virya-samvidah. (SB 3.25.25) [“In the association of pure devotees, discussion of the pastimes and activities of the Supreme Personality of Godhead is very pleasing and satisfying to the ear and the heart. By cultivating such knowledge one gradually becomes advanced on the path of liberation, and thereafter he is freed, and his attraction becomes fixed. Then real devotion and devotional service begin.”]

Therefore Chaitanya Mahaprabhu has recommended,

sadhu-sanga, sadhu-sanga—sarva-sastre kaya
lava-matra sadhu-sange sarva-siddhi haya

[“The verdict of all revealed scriptures is that by even a moment’s association with a pure devotee, one can attain all success.”] (Cc Madhya 22.54)

 So our aim of life should be how to associate, how to keep association with devotees. Then everything will be possible. As soon as we give up the association and we associate with maya, our life is finished. Always remember this. Chaitanya Mahaprabhu was asked by a devotee, “What is the business of a devotee? How will he make progress without any difficulty?” Chaitanya Mahaprabhu said in two lines, asat-sanga-tyaga, ei vaisnava-acara (Cc Madhya 22.87): “A Vaishnava should always avoid asat, materialistic persons, always avoid the association.” Asat-sanga-tyaga. Matter is asat, not permanent. So those who are attached to the material world, they are called asat. Satam prasangat: one should associate with sat, those who are in spiritual advancement. They are called sat. And those who are interested in material advancement, they are called asat. Chaitanya Mahaprabhu advised, “Don’t associate with persons who are trying to be advanced in a material way.” Asat-sanga-tyaga, ei vaisnava-acara. And how we can understand if a person is a materialist? That is stated in the next line: stri-sangi—those who are too much attached to sex are asat, materialist, and those who are not devotees of Krishna (krsna-abhakta). That’s all. If you can recognize these two persons, then you understand who is asat—and who is sat. Sat is just the opposite. Sat means one who is no more interested in material enjoyment. That is sat. And those who are interested in material enjoyment, they are asat.

If we keep our association with persons who are materially interested, then we cannot make progress. If you keep your company always with persons who are spiritually interested, then you make progress.

—Srila Prabhupada, talk on Srimad-Bhagavatam 6.1.25, July 9, 1975, Chicago

Mar 122020
 

“The loving affairs of Sri Radha and Krishna are transcendental manifestations of the Lord’s internal pleasure-giving potency. Although Radha and Krishna are one in Their identity, previously They separated Themselves. Now these two transcendental identities have again united, in the form of Sri Krishna Chaitanya. I bow down to Him, who has manifested Himself with the sentiment and complexion of Srimati Radharani although He is Krishna Himself.” —Sri Caitanya-caritamrta, Adi 1.5

Mar 082020
 

We welcome you to the most auspicious celebration of Sri Gaura-purnima, the appearance day of the Supreme Personality of Godhead Sri Krishna Chaitanya. According to Vedic scriptures, the Absolute Truth is realized in three features: Brahman, Paramatma, and Bhagavan. The impersonalist speculators want to merge and become one with God, one with the impersonal brahmajyoti, which is nothing but the transcendental effulgence emanating from the divine body of Sri Krishna. Beyond the impersonal Brahman is Paramatma, the Lord within the heart; the purusa-avataras—Karanodakasayi Vishnu, Garbhodakasayi Vishnu, and Ksirodakasayi Vishnu—are the soul of the universe, the soul of creation, the soul of souls. And beyond realization of the impersonal Brahman and localized Paramatma is realization of the Supreme Personality of Godhead, Krishna, who is the source of Paramatma and Brahman.

That same Krishna who appeared about five thousand years ago appeared again some five hundred years ago as Sri Krishna Chaitanya Mahaprabhu. Why is it that Krishna, who came five thousand years ago and spoke the Bhagavad-gita and exhibited so many pastimes, came again? In the authorized scripture Sri Caitanya-caritamrta, Lord Krishna’s thoughts after He had manifested His pastimes on earth five thousand years ago are recorded. These thoughts explain why He came again five hundred years ago as Sri Krishna Chaitanya.

We are all sitting here by the mercy of Sri Krishna Chaitanya and His followers in disciplic succession, especially His Divine Grace A. C. Bhaktivedanta Swami Prabhupada. And practically every activity that takes place here is based on the instructions and example of Krishna Chaitanya. You can hardly find any aspect of the Krishna consciousness movement that is not based on His teachings and precedents. So it is very important—essential—to understand Him, because without understanding Him we cannot really progress very well toward the ultimate goal of life.

We read from Sri Caitanya-caritamrta, Adi-lila, Chapter Three: “The External Reasons for the Appearance of Sri Caitanya Mahaprabhu,” text 13. After describing the advent of Lord Krishna on earth, Sri Caitanya-caritamrta describes, beginning with text 13:

TEXTS 13–16

Lord Krsna enjoys His transcendental pastimes as long as He wishes, and then He disappears. After disappearing, however, He thinks thus:

“For a long time I have not bestowed unalloyed loving service to Me upon the inhabitants of the world. Without such loving attachment, the existence of the material world is useless.

“Everywhere in the world people worship Me according to scriptural injunctions. But simply by following such regulative principles one cannot attain the loving sentiments of the devotees in Vrajabhumi.

“Knowing My opulences, the whole world looks upon Me with awe and veneration. But devotion made feeble by such reverence does not attract Me.”

PURPORT by Srila Prabhupada

After His appearance, Lord Krsna thought that He had not distributed the transcendental personal dealings with His devotees in dasya, sakhya, vatsalya, and madhurya. One may understand the science of the Supreme Personality of Godhead from the Vedic literature and thus become a devotee of the Lord and worship Him within the regulative principles described in the scriptures, but one will not know in this way how Lord Krsna is served by the residents of Vrajabhumi. By following scriptural injunctions one may enhance his appreciation for the glories of the Lord, but there is no chance for one to enter into personal dealings with Him. Giving too much attention to understanding the exalted glories of the Lord reduces the chance of one’s entering into personal loving affairs with the Lord. To teach the principles of such loving dealings, the Lord decided to appear as Lord Caitanya.

TEXT 19

yuga-dharma pravartaimu nama-sankirtana
cari bhava-bhakti diya nacamu bhuvana

TRANSLATION

“I shall personally inaugurate the religion of the age—nama-sankirtana, the congregational chanting of the holy name. I shall make the world dance in ecstasy, realizing the four mellows of loving devotional service.

COMMENT by Giriraj Swami

The Lord came to introduce the yuga-dharma, the recommended process for self-realization, or God realization, in the present age, and that is nama-sankirtana, the chanting of the holy names of the Lord.

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Mar 082020
 

Walking at Butterfly Beach this evening, I saw the almost-full moon in the sky before me, and, when I turned my head, the sun behind me. And I thought of a beautiful verse, especially relevant on the eve of Gaura-purnima:

vande sri-krsna-caitanya-
  nityanandau sahoditau
gaudodaye puspavantau
  citrau sandau tamo-nudau

“I offer my respectful obeisances unto Sri Krsna Caitanya and Lord Nityananda, who are like the sun and moon. They have arisen simultaneously on the horizon of Gauda to dissipate the darkness of ignorance and thus wonderfully bestow benediction upon all.” (Cc Adi 1.2)

Happy Gaura-purnima!

Yours in service,
Giriraj Swami

Sri Madhavendra Puri’s Disappearance Day

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Mar 052020
 

Today is the auspicious disappearance day of Sri Madhavendra Puri, the grand spiritual master of Sri Chaitanya Mahaprabhu. Madhavendra Puri’s disciple Isvara Puri was accepted by Chaitanya Mahaprabhu as His spiritual master. Sri Chaitanya Mahaprabhu, as the Supreme Personality of Godhead, is Himself the origin of all knowledge—perfect, Vedic knowledge—and He had no need to accept a spiritual master. But because He was playing the part of a devotee, to set the example for others He accepted a spiritual master. And He accepted Isvara Puri specifically because he came in the line of Madhavendra Puri and was most dear to him. Madhavendra Puri was the first to exhibit love of God in separation, specifically in the mood of the gopis in separation from Krishna after He left Vrindavan. So Madhavendra Puri is a most important person in the history of our disciplic succession—and in the history of the world.

We shall read from Sri Caitanya-caritamrta, Antya-lila, Chapter Eight: “Ramacandra Puri Criticizes the Lord.” Ramachandra Puri was a disciple of Madhavendra Puri and a godbrother of Isvara Puri, but he developed an offensive mentality toward his spiritual master, Madhavendra Puri, and as a result became so fallen that he dared to criticize Sri Chaitanya Mahaprabhu. We begin with the chapter summary:

“The following summary of the Eighth Chapter is given by Srila Bhaktivinoda Thakura in his Amrta-pravaha-bhasya. This chapter describes the history of the Lord’s dealings with Ramacandra Puri. Although Ramacandra Puri was one of the disciples of Madhavendra Puri, he was influenced by dry Mayavadis, and therefore he criticized Madhavendra Puri. Therefore Madhavendra Puri accused him of being an offender and rejected him. Because Ramacandra Puri had been rejected by his spiritual master, he became concerned only with finding faults in others and advising them according to dry Mayavada philosophy. For this reason he was not very respectful to the Vaisnavas, and later he became so fallen that he began criticizing Sri Caitanya Mahaprabhu for His eating. Hearing his criticisms, Sri Caitanya Mahaprabhu reduced His eating, but after Ramacandra Puri left Jagannatha Puri, the Lord resumed His usual behavior.”

TEXT 1

tam vande krsna-caitanyam
  ramacandra-puri-bhayat
laukikaharatah svam yo
  bhiksannam samakocayat

TRANSLATION

Let me offer myrespectful obeisances to Sri Caitanya Mahaprabhu, who reduced His eating due to fear of the criticism of Ramacandra Puri.

TEXT 2

jaya jaya sri-caitanya karuna-sindhu-avatara
brahma-sivadika bhaje carana yanhara

TRANSLATION

All glories to Sri Caitanya Mahaprabhu, the incarnation of the ocean of mercy! His lotus feet are worshiped by demigods like Lord Brahma and Lord Siva.

TEXT 3

jaya jaya avadhuta-candra nityananda
jagat bandhila yenha diya prema-phanda

TRANSLATION

All glories to Nityananda Prabhu, the greatest of mendicants, who bound the entire world with a knot of ecstatic love for God!

TEXT 4

jaya jaya advaita isvara avatara
krsna avatari’ kaila jagat-nistara

TRANSLATION

All glories to Advaita Prabhu, the incarnation of the Supreme Personality of Godhead! He induced Krsna to descend and thus delivered the entire world.

TEXT 5

jaya jaya srivasadi yata bhakta-gana
sri-krsna-caitanya prabhu—yanra prana-dhana

TRANSLATION

All glories to all the devotees, headed by Srivasa Thakura! Sri Krsna Caitanya Mahaprabhu is their life and soul.

TEXT 6

ei-mata gauracandra nija-bhakta-sange
nilacale krida kare krsna-prema-tarange

TRANSLATION

Thus Sri Caitanya Mahaprabhu, at Jagannatha Puri, performed His various pastimes with His devotees in the waves of love for Krsna.

COMMENT by Giriraj Swami

The next verses describe Ramachandra Puri’s arrival in Jagannatha Puri. He came specifically to meet Paramananda Puri and Sri Chaitanya Mahaprabhu. His policy was to invite Vaishnavas and feed them prasada and by various means induce them to eat more and more—and then criticize them for eating too much. Next, Srila Krishnadasa Kaviraja Gosvami, the author of Sri Caitanya-caritamrta, explains the history of Ramachandra Puri, which contains the story of the disappearance of Sri Madhavendra Puri.

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We Require Protection

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Mar 042020
 

Krishna has given us a little independence, because we are part and parcel of Krishna. Krishna is fully independent. He does not depend on anyone. We have got independence to a certain extent, but under the control of maya. In the spiritual life there is also maya. That is called yoga-maya. And in the material life there is also maya. That is called maha-maya, Durga. So we, being very little . . . Just like a small child: he is given either to the mother for taking care or to the nurse for taking care. The little child must be taken care of, either by the mother or an appointed nurse, maidservant. Similarly, we, being a very teeny, small, fragmental, atomic part and parcel of Krishna, although we have got all the ingredients of Krishna, still, we require protection. Just like the child and the father. . . . We have got all the ingredients or qualities of God in us, but in very, very small fragmental portions. Therefore, although we have got Krishna’s qualities, still we sometimes fall down. Because we are very, very minute, fragmental parts, there is chance of being covered by something else. So we require protection. Therefore, mahatmanas tu mam partha daivim prakrtim asritah. (Gita 9.13) [“O son of Prtha, those who are not deluded, the great souls, are under the protection of the divine nature. They are fully engaged in devotional service because they know Me as the Supreme Personality of Godhead, original and inexhaustible.”] The mahatmas are given protection by daivi-prakrti, Krishna’s maya. Therefore we chant “Hare Krishna,” not alone “Krishna.” Hara is Krishna’s energy, so we first of all take the shelter of Krishna’s energy, daivi-maya, Radharani. In Vrindavan they chant “Radha-Krishna,” “Jaya Radhe.” The general addressing is “Radhe,” like that. So, to take shelter of the daivi-maya . . . Mahatmanas tu mam partha daivim prakrtim asritah. (Gita 9.13) If we take shelter of the daivi-maya, Radharani, then She will give us intelligence in such a way that we can take shelter of Krishna perfectly. So daivi-maya asritah, as soon as we come under the shelter of daivi-maya, then our business becomes bhajanty ananya-manasah: simply serving Krishna, no other business. And in the material world, so long we are under the protection of maha-maya, we have got many things to serve. Bahu-sakha hy anantas ca buddhayo ’vyavasayinam. (Gita 2.41) [“The intelligence of those who are irresolute is many-branched.”] When we are under the care of daivi-maya, then our only business is to serve Krishna. That is our original constitutional position, krsna-dasa. The part and parcel of my body, the finger, is always serving the whole body according to the order; similarly, as part and parcel of God, Krishna, our only business is to serve Him, with whatever we have got.

—Srila Prabhupada, talk on Srimad-Bhagavatam 3.26.41, January 16, 1975, Bombay