No Bull

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May 192017

Today I read: “Reality. It uNo Bullsed to seem so simple—reality just was, like the weather. Why question it, let alone disagree about it? And then came the assault, a mind-bending stream of ‘fake news,’ ‘alternative facts,’ and lies disguised as truths that cast so many of us tumbling into a state of moral panic. How did we get here?”

That statement and question brought me to Srimad-Bhagavatam (1.7.24–25), where the pious king Pariksit says to Dharma in the form of a bull, “In the age of Satya [truthfulness] your four legs were established by the four principles of austerity, cleanliness, mercy, and truthfulness. But it appears that three of your legs are broken due to rampant irreligion in the form of pride, lust for women, and intoxication. You are now standing on one leg only, which is your truthfulness, and you are somehow or other hobbling along. But quarrel personified [Kali], flourishing by deceit, is also trying to destroy that leg.”

Now, is there any solution? In his purports, Srila Prabhupada says, “The preaching of the Bhagavatam principles will automatically render all men austere, clean both inside and outside, merciful to the suffering, and truthful in daily behavior. That is the way of correcting the flaws of human society, which are very prominently exhibited at the present moment. . . . The revival of bhagavata-dharma can save human civilization from falling prey to evils of all description.”

Hare Krishna.

Yours in service,
Giriraj Swami

Nrsimha-caturdasi, May 9, Carpinteria, California

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May 122017

05.09.17_01.Nrsimha_Chaturdasi_Carp“When we come into the material world and want to compete with Krishna, the first thing we need is another identity — not ‘servant of Krishna’. That is the false ego. And then the mind acts as the agent of the false ego. That is why the mind is so difficult to control — because it is the false ego’s agent to make sure we don’t surrender to Krishna. So we really need mercy. And we need association — the association of each other.”

Prahlada Maharaja prays, “I offer my respectful obeisances unto Lord Nrsimhadeva, the source of all power. O my Lord who possess nails and teeth just like thunderbolts, kindly vanquish our demonlike desires for fruitive activity in this material world. Please appear in our hearts and drive away our ignorance so that by Your mercy we may become fearless in the struggle for existence in this material world. . . . By associating with persons for whom the Supreme Personality of Godhead, Mukunda, is the all in all, one can hear of His powerful activities and soon come to understand them. The activities of Mukunda are so potent that simply by hearing of them one immediately associates with the Lord. For a person who constantly and very eagerly hears narrations of the Lord’s powerful activities, the Absolute Truth, the Personality of Godhead in the form of sound vibrations, enters within his heart and cleanses it of all contamination.” (Srimad-Bhagavatam 5.18.8, 11)



Nrsimha-caturdasi talk
Nrsimha-caturdasi prayers

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Celebrating Nrsimha-caturdasi with Srila Prabhupada in Juhu

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May 112017

Narasimha and Prahlada in dramaOn Nrsimha-caturdasi in Bombay in May 1974, the devotees performed a drama of the story of Prahlada, Hiranyakasipu, and Nrsimhadeva, and afterward, the actors, still in their costumes, sat down for Prabhupada’s lecture. “Today is the appearance day of Lord Nrsimhadeva,” he began. “I am so pleased that within such a short time these boys have nicely learned how to play, and especially I have to thank Mr. Hiranyakasipu,” at which everyone laughed and applauded. “Mr. Hiranyakasipu has played his part very nicely.”

Prabhupada concluded his talk, “So the atheist and the theist will never agree. But the theist will never submit to the atheist. This is the principle. Prahlada Maharaja was put into so many troubles by his father, but he never forgot chanting . . .

“So we should take lessons from this story, that even in a dangerous position, we should not be forgetful of Krishna. Krishna will save us. It is said in the Bhagavad-gita,

yam labdhva caparam labham
manyate nadhikam tatah
yasmin sthite gurunapi
duhkhena na vicalyate
      [Bg 6.22]

‘Established thus, one never departs from the truth, and upon gaining this he thinks there is no greater gain. Being situated in such a position, one is never shaken, even in the midst of the greatest difficulty.’ Krishna consciousness is so nice that if one gets Krishna consciousness, yam labdhva caparam labham, aparam labham, any other benefit or gain is never considered. We are hankering after getting this, that, this, that, so many things. Dehi, dehi, dehi, dehi. But as soon as you get Krishna consciousness, you will be satisfied. As Dhruva Maharaja said, svamin krtartho ’smi varam na yace. Just like Prahlada Maharaja—he was offered all benediction: ‘My dear Prahlada, whatever you like, you can ask.’ He never asked anything. But he was so kind. That is the example of a Vaishnava son in the family. Despite so much troubles given by his father, still, he begged from Narasimhadeva, ‘My Lord, my father has committed so many offenses. Kindly give him liberation.’ He did not ask anything for himself. So Nrsimhadeva immediately said, ‘Why do you speak of your father? Your father’s father, his father, fourteen generations—all are liberated because a son like you is in this family.’ This is the benefit. If a son becomes a pure Vaishnava, devotee, he can deliver fourteen generations. That is a special prerogative because he is born in a certain family. So, what we can give service to the family, nation, materially? If we become devotee, we can give best service to the nation, to the family, to the humanity. That is the philosophy.

“So our Krishna consciousness movement is preaching this philosophy, that ‘You take to Krishna consciousness; your life will be perfect.’ And the method is very simple.

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

Three times. Three times means yajna-dana-tapah-kriya. There are many other things: meditation, sacrifices, worship in the temple. In this age all these things are impossible to be performed, but even a child can chant Hare Krishna maha-mantra. That is proved here. Whenever there is Hare Krishna maha-mantra, even a child can take part, and old man can take part. That was the teaching of Sri Prahlada Maharaja, and we are following his footsteps. Let us stick to his principle, mahajano yena gatah sa panthah, and thus become more and more advanced in Krishna consciousness.”

Hare Krishna.

Yours in service,
Giriraj Swami

Conquering the Unconquerable Lord Nrsimha

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May 092017

Narasimha and PrahladaNrsimhadeva tells Prahlada, “When a devotee looks at Me without hesitation and speaks to Me affectionately, My pleasure grows with every new moment. Although I am eternally free from all limitations, such behavior binds Me with ropes of love. Although I am unconquerable, My devotees can conquer Me. And although I am subject to no one’s control, I become their subordinate subject. I belong only to him who has shown his love for Me by giving up all affection for family and possessions, and such a devotee also belongs to Me. Neither he nor I has any other true friend. My desires are always automatically fulfilled, but I take various births in this world just to bestow on My devotees the satisfaction of all their desires.”

Hari-bhakti-sudhodaya (14.28–32), quoted in the commentary on Sri Brhad-bhagavatamrta 1.4.9 by Srila Sanatana Gosvami

Hare Krishna.

Yours in service,
Giriraj Swami

A Vaishnava is an Ocean of Mercy — Srila Prabhupada on Nrsimha-caturdasi

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May 092017

TwPrahlada and Narasimhao days after I first saw Srila Prabhupada and the devotees at Brandeis University in Boston, he gave a beautiful talk about the nature of a Vaishnava, how a devotee is an ocean of mercy, on Nrsimha-caturdasi, May 1, 1969:

“Atheist is so unkind, cruel, that he is prepared to kill his own son, beloved son, five years old. That is atheism. And theism, the father who tortured him so much—after the death of his father, he’s praying to Nrsimhadeva, ‘Please excuse my father.’ This is theism. So that is the difference between Krishna consciousness and ordinary consciousness. Vaishnavas are very kind to everyone. Vancha kalpatarubhyas ca krpa-sindhubhya eva ca. You utter this prayer, krpa-sindhubhya eva ca. Vaishnava is an ocean of mercy. There is no end. As you cannot draw all the water from the ocean—it is not possible—similarly, a Vaishnava, a devotee, is an ocean of mercy. You can draw from it as much mercy as you like; still, it is full.

“So, Prahlada Maharaja is the symbolic representation of Vaishnava. Try to be not imitator, but follower. Don’t try to imitate: ‘Oh, Prahlada Maharaja was thrown into boiling oil. Let me try, fall into the boiling oil.’ No. That is imitation. First you become like Prahlada Maharaja, then that will be possible. Don’t try to make experiment. That is not good. But try to follow. Mahajano yena gatah sa panthah. Follow mahajanas, great personalities, what they have done. You cannot imitate them. You have to follow them. You have to follow the instructions of Krishna or His representative, but not imitate them. Then you’ll fall down. Anusarana, not anukarana. Anukarana means imitation; but anusarana, following. So what Prahlada Maharaja did, we have to follow his example. His example was that in spite of continuous torturing by his father, he never forgot Krishna. This we have to follow. In spite of all kinds of inconveniences and torture by the atheist class of men, we shall never forget Krishna consciousness. There are many examples. Just like Lord Jesus Christ, he was tortured, he was crucified, but he never agreed that there is no God. So that should be our motto. This is following. Either you be Christian or Hindu or any, but be God conscious. Krishna conscious means God conscious. And in any circumstances, do not forget. That is called saranagati. That is surrender.”

I pray to follow in the footsteps of Sri Prahlada Maharaja, Srila Prabhupada, and all pure Vaishnavas in their line.

Hare Krishna.

Yours in service,
Giriraj Swami

From the Archives: Nrsimha-caturdasi, May 13 2014, Dallas

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May 082017

Nrsimha_catGiriraj Swami read and spoke from Srimad-Bhagavatam 5.18.9 during the morning program.

“The mercy of Lord Nrsimhadeva is manifest in different ways: There are internal demons and external demons, and He is fully competent and inclined to vanquish both. As preachers we face both internal and external demons, and being sincere in our service we are quite distressed by the internal demons—not just because they disturb our consciousness in our own bhajana, or worship, but because they also interfere with our ability to help others. So we take shelter of Krishna consciousness. Prahlada is actually praying that people think of Krishna, for the power of thinking of Krishna is immeasurable. As stated in the last paragraph of the purport, ‘If the Krishna consciousness movement spreads all over the world, and if by the grace of Krishna everyone accepts it, the thinking of envious people will change. Everyone will think of the welfare of others. Therefore Prahlada Maharaja prays, sivam mitho dhiya. In material activities, everyone is envious of others, but in Krishna consciousness, no one is envious of anyone else; everyone thinks of the welfare of others.’ (SB 5.18.9 purport)”

Nrsimha-caturdasi Kirtan
Nrsimha-caturdasi Talk

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Prabhupada’s Son, Prabhupada’s Moon

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May 082017

Jayananda Dasa LA 1977Today is Jayananda Prabhu’s disappearance day. I wrote this haiku for his disappearance anniversary twenty-five years ago:

Prabhupada’s full moon
Beams upon my heart’s lotus—
Guru’s service blooms


Hare Krishna.

Yours in service,
Giriraj Swami


May 052017

BOOK-CoverFINALwebjpgVolume One of Shyamasundar’s long-awaited memoir is now available. This is a most intimate, detailed, and exciting account of Bhaktivedanta Swami’s amazing adventures in the dawn of the Hare Krishna movement. Volume One describes the Swami’s halcyon days in San Francisco and London, 1967–1970, and describes the real story of Lord Jagannath’s advent in the Western world, meeting the Beatles and, with them, broadcasting the Mahamantra around the globe. These, and a hundred more never-heard-before stories, along with 128 rare photos, will transport you into those magic days: Chasing “rhinos” with the Swami.

“There have been other memoirs involving His Divine Grace, to be sure, but the attention to detail and visceral manifestation of time and place found in Shyamasundar’s book is something new. It has never before been accomplished in quite this way. His street savvy, intelligence, common sense, and love for Prabhupada all come through with a tangible freshness, allowing readers entrance into the narrative in a very real way. . . . A must-read for all students of philosophy, the ’60s counterculture, cosmic consciousness, Eastern thought, and life itself.”
—Steven J. Rosen (Satyaraja Dasa), author of 30 books on Eastern spirituality

With its fast pace and novelistic style, Volume One of Chasing Rhinos With The Swami has become a runaway best-seller for all audiences and, with only a limited number of books remaining in this first edition, NOW is the time to enjoy this book while it’s still available from the <> website.

Better yet, take advantage of special BULK ORDER prices and stock enough books for your boutiques, sankirtan parties, extended congregations—for everyone you know or meet. Chasing Rhinos is a book to delight the whole world!

“This book is masterfully written and is truly unique—a must-read for devotees, their families, and friends.”
—Radhanath Swami

“I just received a copy of Chasing Rhinos with the Swami Volume 1, and I am ecstatic. Just looking at the photos, and glancing at the text, filled me with such great joy that I couldn’t contain myself and had to write you immediately. Thank you for taking up this tremendous service!”
—Giriraj Swami

Arca-vigraha’s Disappearance Celebration, May 2, Mumbai

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May 022017

Arca-vigraha_in_VrindavanToday I had a wonderful Skype call with the devotees in Mumbai in celebration of Mother Arca-vigraha’s disappearance day. My godbrother Narottamananda Prabhu’s talk was especially enlivening and enlightening. How sublime that we all could gather to remember and appreciate and glorify a great Vaishnavi.

Hare Krishna.

Yours in service,
Giriraj Swami

Arca-vigraha’s Disappearance Celebration

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Even for Cutting a Mango, One Requires a Guru

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Apr 282017

Prabhupada smiling on Juhu terraceIn Juhu Srila Prabhupada would go on the roof in the evening and give darshan. One evening there were five or ten devotees around him, and a few Indian guests, including a famous movie star and his wife. Somebody had brought mangoes for Prabhupada, and at one point he called for a knife and told a devotee to cut a mango and distribute it as prasada. So a brahmacari got a knife and sliced the mango, but it was dripping juice all over—it was a mess.

“You cannot cut it?” Prabhupada asked.

“The knife is not very sharp,” the brahmacari replied.

“That is not the way to cut it,” the movie star’s wife interjected. “Give it to me.”

“Yes,” Prabhupada agreed. “You do not know how to cut. One who knows, let him cut.”

So, the woman took the mango, cut it into two neat halves and scored the flesh into crisscrossed cubes. Then she popped the insides out, and it was a simple matter to pick the cubes off the peel.

Prabhupada laughed at how expertly and neatly she had done it. “Just see,” he said, “even for cutting a mango, one requires a guru. ” Then he quoted from the Mundaka Upanisad (1.2.12): “Tad-vijnanartham sa gurum evabhigacchet”—“To learn the science one must certainly approach a spiritual master.” The guests and devotees all laughed, and Prabhupada told the brahmacari to distribute the prasada, one piece to everyone.

“Everything requires a guru,” Prabhupada repeated. “Otherwise one remains a fool, rascal—that’s all. In every item you require a guru. And to understand Krishna, or God, everyone thinks they are independent. Just see the foolishness. Yata mata tata patha. ‘Ah, you consider about God in your own way. It doesn’t require any guru.’ This foolishness is going on. For cutting a mango one requires a guru, and to understand Krishna, he doesn’t require a guru. This foolishness is going on. And Krishna says,

tad viddhi pranipatena
pariprasnena sevaya
upadeksyanti tad jnanam
jnaninas tattva-darsina
           [Bg 4.34]

[“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.”] Krishna says you have to understand like this. But everyone is thinking, ‘Why shall I go to guru?’ ”

Prabhupada saw everything in the light of Krishna consciousness, and he shared his vision with others—to their great delight.

Hare Krishna.

Yours in service,
Giriraj Swami