Mar 022019

Today is Siva-ratri. Vaishnavas generally do not celebrate Siva-ratri, and to begin, I will explain why, with reference to the Bhagavad-gita. We read from Bhagavad-gita As It Is, Chapter 7, “Knowledge of the Absolute,” text 23.

antavat tu phalam tesam
  tad bhavaty alpa-medhasam
devan deva-yajo yanti
  mad-bhakta yanti mam api


Men of small intelligence worship the demigods, and their fruits are limited and temporary. Those who worship the demigods go to the planets of the demigods, but My devotees ultimately reach My supreme planet.

PURPORT by Srila Prabhupada

Some commentators on the Bhagavad-gita say that one who worships a demigod can reach the Supreme Lord, but here it is clearly stated that the worshipers of demigods go to the different planetary systems where various demigods are situated, just as a worshiper of the sun achieves the sun or a worshiper of the demigod of the moon achieves the moon. Similarly, if anyone wants to worship a demigod like Indra, he can attain that particular god’s planet. It is not that everyone, regardless of whatever demigod is worshiped, will reach the Supreme Personality of Godhead. That is denied here, for it is clearly stated that the worshipers of demigods go to different planets in the material world but the devotee of the Supreme Lord goes directly to the supreme planet of the Personality of Godhead.

COMMENT by Giriraj Swami

This is logical. As Srila Prabhupada remarked, if you buy a ticket to Calcutta, you cannot expect to reach Bombay. If you worship a demigod, you go to the planet of the demigod. If you worship Krishna, you reach the supreme abode of Krishna.

PURPORT (continued)

Here the point may be raised that if the demigods are different parts of the body of the Supreme Lord, then the same end should be achieved by worshiping them. However, worshipers of the demigods are less intelligent because they don’t know to what part of the body food must be supplied. Some of them are so foolish that they claim that there are many parts and many ways to supply food. This isn’t very sanguine. Can anyone supply food to the body through the ears or eyes? They do not know that these demigods are different parts of the universal body of the Supreme Lord, and in their ignorance they believe that each and every demigod is a separate God and a competitor of the Supreme Lord.


We read in the Fourth Canto of Srimad-Bhagavatam that just as by pouring water on the root of a tree all the limbs and branches and leaves are watered and just as by supplying food to the stomach all the different limbs of the body are nourished, similarly, by offering worship or rendering service to the Supreme Personality of Godhead, Krishna, all of the demigods and all living entities are served and satisfied:

yatha taror mula-nisecanena
  trpyanti tat-skandha-bhujopasakhah
pranopaharac ca yathendriyanam
  tathaiva sarvarhanam acyutejya

“By giving water to the root of a tree one satisfies its branches, twigs, and leaves, and by supplying food to the stomach one satisfies all the senses of the body. Similarly, by engaging in the transcendental service of the Supreme Lord one automatically satisfies all the demigods and all other living entities.” (SB 4.31.14)

PURPORT (concluded)

The results achieved by the demigods’ benedictions are perishable because within this material world the planets, the demigods, and their worshipers are all perishable. Therefore it is clearly stated in this verse that all results achieved by worshiping demigods are perishable, and therefore such worship is performed by the less intelligent living entity. Because the pure devotee engaged in Krsna consciousness in devotional service of the Supreme Lord achieves eternal blissful existence that is full of knowledge, his achievements and those of the common worshiper of the demigods are different. The Supreme Lord is unlimited; His favor is unlimited; His mercy is unlimited. Therefore the mercy of the Supreme Lord upon His pure devotees is unlimited.


Everything material is temporary. The demigods—their bodies—are temporary, the bodies of their worshipers are temporary, their planets are temporary, and the fruits that one obtains from worshiping them are temporary. The demigods have authority only within the material world. They can give only material benefits to their worshipers. Only Vishnu, or Krishna, can award liberation from material bondage. No demigod can grant liberation. And beyond liberation, the devotees of Krishna also achieve krsna-bhakti, or krsna-prema—the ultimate goal of life.

Srila Prabhupada said that the impersonalists want to become one with God but that the devotees actually become greater than God, because God comes under their control. We see in the Bhagavad-gita that Krishna is acting as Arjuna’s chariot driver. Arjuna is commanding Krishna, senayor ubhayor madhye ratham sthapaya me ’cyuta: “Please draw my chariot between the two armies so I can see who has assembled on the battlefield to fight.” The Lord likes to be controlled by His devotees, and He comes under the control of their pure love. Of course, the Lord is supreme—no one is equal to Him or greater than Him (na tat-samas cabhyadikas ca drsyate)—but out of love He becomes subordinate to His devotee. The idea of becoming one with the Lord is repugnant to a devotee, because in that impersonal oneness there is no service, no exchange of love.

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Mar 022019

Today is the disappearance day of Sri Isvara Puri. He was such a perfect disciple of Sri Madhavendra Puri that Sri Chaitanya Mahaprabhu, Lord Krishna Himself, was pleased to accept Isvara Puri as his spiritual master. Later, Lord Chaitanya visited Isvara Puri’s birthplace at Kumara-hatta and collected some earth from the birth site, which He kept very carefully and ate a small portion of daily. Thus He showed us how a faithful disciple worships a spiritual master who has faithfully served his spiritual master perfectly.

Hare Krishna.

Yours in service,
Giriraj Swami

Feb 232019

“We will not be able to chant purely as long as we are absorbed in material thoughts. How can we chant Krishna’s name if we are not inclined to serve Him? A person interested in sense gratification, who is fond of cheating and who is a hypocrite, can never chant the holy name. Those who do not understand that the Lord’s holy name and the Lord Himself are nondifferent will face obstacles in chanting. Chanting begins when we are inclined to serve the Lord. Unless we are convinced that the holy name is directly the Lord Himself, how will we chant? The Lord’s sacred name does not manifest on the tongue if the heart is filled with the current of mundane thought. Therefore, it is not possible to chant the holy name until the mind is spiritualized. Only a person whose material conception has been destroyed is able to chant Hari’s name constantly.

“We are suffering because we serve our material desires. If our material desires are strong we will become Maya’s servants and may even take birth as ghosts or evil spirits. When by serving guru and Krishna the heart becomes purified, the Lord’s pure name will appear in the heart. Otherwise, we will continue to commit offenses against the holy name.”

Hare Krishna.

Yours in service,
Giriraj Swami

Srila Bhaktisiddhanta Sarasvati Thakura

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Feb 232019

Today is the appearance day of Srila Prabhupada’s spiritual master, Srila Bhaktisiddhanta Sarasvati Thakura. He was very kind, but also very strict. He said of himself, “I am not only a proofreader of the press; I am a proofreader of men—I see their faults and try to correct them. I am also a proofreader of religion. I have appeared in the zodiac sign of the crab, so whenever I see anything undevotional, I act like a crab. If I see any so-called devotion, not actually in the true unalloyed spirit, I shall pierce it!”

May he kindly correct me as he sees fit.

Hare Krishna.

Yours in service,
Giriraj Swami

Srila Narottama dasa Thakura

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Feb 192019

Today is the appearance day Srila Narottama dasa Thakura, of whom Srila Prabhupada said, He was “a great acharya of the Gaudiya Vaishnava sampradaya. He has written many songs about the Vaishnava philosophy, and they are approved as completely corresponding with Vedic instructions.  .  .  . So, we should relish the instruction of Narottama dasa Thakura.”

At the original Gaura-purnima festival held in Kheturi, in the presence of Srimati Jahnava-devi, Srila Narottama dasa Thakura, and Srila Srinivasa Acharya, six pairs of Radha-Krishna Deities were installed, and one pair, Radha-Braja-mohana, was sent to Vrindavan.

A few years ago, after Indradyumna Swami told me about the poor condition of the temple, I gave a donation to support the Deity worship, and in reciprocation, Maharaja gave me the conch shell that Narottama sent to Vrindavan for the worship of Braja-mohana. Maharaja said that it may have been blown by Jahnava-devi, Narottama, or Srinivasa, but in any case, it was part of the paraphernalia that Narottama sent to his disciple in Vrindavan.

You can see the conch in this photo.

Hare Krishna.

Yours in service,
Giriraj Swami

Sri Nityananda-trayodasi, February 17, New Dwaraka, Los Angeles

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Feb 182019

Sri Nityananda-trayodasi

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Feb 162019

We welcome you to the most auspicious observance of Sri Nityananda-trayodasi, the appearance day of Lord Nityananda Balarama. We shall read from Sri Caitanya-caritamrta, the authorized biography of Sri Chaitanya Mahaprabhu and His associates, Adi-lila, Chapter 5: “The Glories of Lord Nityananda Balarama.”


vande ’nantadbhutaisvaryam
  sri-nityanandam isvaram
yasyecchaya tat-svarupam
  ajnenapi nirupyate


Let me offer my obeisances to Lord Sri Nityananda, the Supreme Personality of Godhead, whose opulence is wonderful and unlimited. By His will, even a fool can understand His identity.


jaya jaya sri-caitanya jaya nityananda
jayadvaita-candra jaya gaura-bhakta-vrnda


All glories to Sri Caitanya Mahaprabhu! All glories to Lord Nityananda! All glories to Advaita Acarya! And all glories to all the devotees of Lord Caitanya Mahaprabhu!


ei sat-sloke kahila krsna-caitanya-mahima
panca-sloke kahi nityananda-tattva-sima


I have described the glory of Sri Krsna Caitanya in six verses. Now, in five verses I shall describe the glory of Lord Nityananda.


sarva-avatari krsna svayam bhagavan
tanhara dvitiya deha sri-balarama


The Supreme Personality of Godhead, Krsna, is the fountainhead of all incarnations. Lord Balarama is His second body.

PURPORT by Srila Prabhupada

Lord Sri Krsna, the absolute Personality of Godhead, is the primeval Lord, the original form of Godhead, and His first expansion is Sri Balarama. The Personality of Godhead can expand Himself in innumerable forms. The forms that have unlimited potency are called svamsa, and forms that have limited potencies (the living entities) are called vibhinnamsa.

COMMENT by Giriraj Swami

To properly understand Lord Nityananda and Lord Chaitanya, we must first understand Lord Krishna and Lord Balarama. As stated throughout the Vedic literature, Krishna is the original Supreme Personality of Godhead (krsnas tu bhagavan svayam) and His first expansion is Balarama. Sri Brahma-samhita gives the example that from one candle you can light a second, from the second candle you can light a third, from the third you can light a fourth, and so on. In essence, they are the same—they all have the same candlepower. But still, there is one original candle, one original Personality of Godhead (Krishna), and there is one first expansion (Balarama). From Balarama the other expansions follow.


eka-i svarupa donhe, bhinna-matra kaya
adya kaya-vyuha, krsna-lilara sahaya


These two are one and the same identity. They differ only in form. Lord Balarama is the first bodily expansion of Krsna, and He assists in Lord Krsna’s transcendental pastimes.


Balarama is a svamsa expansion of the Lord, and therefore there is no difference in potency between Krsna and Balarama. The only difference is in Their bodily structure. As the first expansion of Godhead, Balarama is the chief Deity among the first quadruple forms, and He is the foremost assistant of Sri Krsna in His transcendental activities.


The subject of the Godhead and His expansions is deep and mysterious. We can talk about it, but to actually realize the truth of the subject is possible only by Lord Nityananda’s mercy. As stated in Dalalera-gita (8), den suddha krsna-siksa—Lord Nityananda gives us the pure teachings of the Bhagavad-gita and Srimad-Bhagavatam.

Our proc

ess is to repeat what we have heard from authorities. We are conditioned souls. We have defects. We commit mistakes. We have imperfect senses. We are subject to illusion. We are prone to cheat. In so many ways, we are faulty. Further, the subject of Godhead is altogether beyond the range of the senses and mind and even intelligence, which are material and limited, because God and His expansions are spiritual and unlimited. So we cannot approach the transcendental subject, the transcendental realm, through our imperfect senses and our limited minds and intelligence. We can receive perfect knowledge only through aural reception—from higher authorities who are beyond the pale of material existence, who are free from the defects of conditioned souls. Therefore we always read from scripture and cite references from scripture, because the Vedic literature is beyond the defects of conditioned souls. It is apauruseya; it is not made by man but emanates directly from God, and we receive that knowledge by submissive aural reception from the parampara.

Lord Balarama is the original spiritual master because He fulfills the two functions of a spiritual master: He gives knowledge of God and He serves God. Because He is the first expansion of Godhead, He is the first (apart from Krishna Himself) to give us knowledge of God. And He is the first to engage in service to God. The spiritual master is the leader of the servants of God. He teaches the science of devotional service and engages his followers in service.

Once, in Calcutta, Srila Prabhupada asked the devotees, “What is the duty of the spiritual master, and what is the duty of the disciple?” Different devotees gave different answers. Finally, Srila Prabhupada himself gave the answer: “The duty of the spiritual master is to serve Krishna, and the duty of the disciple is to assist him.” For example, the spiritual master installs the Deity. He is responsible for the worship. He is responsible for the cleanliness of the temple (sri-vigraharadhana-nitya-nana- srngara-tan-mandira-marjanadau).

yuktasya bhaktams ca niyunjato ’pi
  vande guroh sri-caranaravindam

“The spiritual master is always engaged in the temple worship of Sri Sri Radha and Krsna. He also engages his disciples in such worship. They dress the Deities in beautiful clothes and ornaments, clean Their temple, and perform other similar worship of the Lord. I offer my respectful obeisances unto the lotus feet of such a spiritual master.” (Sri Gurvastakam, Verse 3)

In principle, the spiritual master is responsible for all the services, but the disciples assist him. So Srila Prabhupada said, “When the disciples are cleaning the floor, they should think, ‘Actually, this is my spiritual master’s service, and I am assisting him.’ ”

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Sri Varaha-dvadasi

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Feb 162019

Today is Varaha-dvadasi, Lord Varaha’s appearance day. Srila Prabhupada spoke on this occasion in Los Angeles on February 18, 1970:

“Today is the incarnation day of Lord Krishna’s appearing as the Boar. He lifted the world when it was submerged within the water of Garbhodaka Ocean. The universe which we are seeing is only half. The other half is filled with water, and in that water Garbhodakasayi Vishnu is lying.

“So, one demon, Hiranyaksa, pushed this earthly planet within that water, and Lord Krishna delivered this earthly planet from water in the shape of a boar. So, that auspicious day is today, Varaha-dvadasi. On this day [we] sing,

vasati dasana-sikhare dharani tava lagna
sasini kalanka-kaleva nimagna
kesava dhrta-sukara-rupa jaya jagadisa hare
jaya jagadisa hare, jaya jagadisa hare

‘O Kesava! O Lord of the universe! O Lord Hari, who have assumed the form of a boar! All glories to You! The earth, which had become immersed in the Garbhodaka Ocean at the bottom of the universe, sits fixed upon the tip of Your tusk like a spot upon the moon.’ (Dasavatara-stotra, 3)

“This Varaha, boar, or hog, delivered this earthly planet by the tusk, and He kept the whole world on His tusk. We can just imagine how big He appeared. And the world at that time appeared just like the moon disc with some marks on it. So kesava dhrta-varaha-sarira. The poet says, ‘My dear Lord, You have appeared as the great boar. So let me offer my respectful obeisances unto You.’ ”

May Lord Varaha bless us and uplift us.

Hare Krishna.

Yours in service,
Giriraj Swami

The Love That Satisfies

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Feb 142019

Today, February 14, Saint Valentine’s Day, I was struck when Srila Prabhupada, at the conclusion of his class on Sri Isopanisad, spoke about love—the love that Krishna wants and the love that will satisfy us:

“Any religion, it doesn’t matter whether Hindu religion, Muslim religion, Christian religion—if you are developing love of God, then you are perfect in your religion. . . .

And what kind of love? Ahaituki: without any cause. ‘O Lord, I love You, God, because You supply me so many nice things. You are order-supplier.’ No, not that sort of love. Without any exchange. That is taught by Chaitanya Mahaprabhu, that ‘Whatever You do . . .’ Aslisya va pada-ratam pinastu mam. ‘Either You trample me under Your feet or You embrace me—what You like. You make me brokenhearted by not seeing You—that doesn’t matter. Still You are my worshipable Lord.’ That is love. . . . That sort of love Krishna wants. Therefore He was so much fond of the gopis. In the gopis’ love there was no question of business propaganda: ‘Give me this, then I love You.’ No. That is pure love. . . . If you want to love God, there is nothing throughout the whole world which can check you. Simply you have to develop your eagerness: ‘Krishna, I want You.’ That’s all. Then there is no question of checking. In any condition you’ll increase your love, increase your love. . . . If you can develop your love for God, or Krishna, without being checked, without any cause, then you will feel fully satisfied.”

Hare Krishna.

Yours in service,
Giriraj Swami