Welcome to WordPress. This is your first post. Edit or delete it, then start writing!
In our Vaisnava tradition, anthologies such as Srila Rupa Gosvami’s Padyavali and Srila Sanatana Gosvami’s Krsna-lila-stava serve as ways in which the author expresses profound appreciation and love for Krsna by authoring or compiling various verses and pastimes of Krsna and relishing them, as well as facilitating others in relishing such nectar.
Following in their footsteps, we, a couple of insignificant disciples of His Holiness Indradyumna Swami, have compiled this garland of verses from the ocean of verses he quotes on his Facebook posts throughout the year as he travels far and wide in his preaching activities around the world. Whether he is on the road or the plane or in distant lands, he regularly shares the verses which are close to his heart and which, strung together, form a beautiful garland that we now humbly offer for the pleasure of all of you who are rasika bhuvi bhavuka? (thoughtful and expert devotees who know the art of relishing the transcendental mellows).
We have also added context around the circumstances in which each verse was quoted and links to the original posts. And to keep the length of the garland wearable, we’ve restricted ourselves to a sampling of Indradyumna Swami’s Facebook posts from just some of the highlights from last year.
At the beginning of the year 2017, Indradyumna Swami wrote that before he begins his japa in the morning, he chants the following verses (as a prayer) from the 8th chapter of Srila Bhaktivinoda Thakura’s Hari-nama-cintamani:
nāmera sadṛśa jñāna nāhika nirmala |
nāmera sadṛśa vrata nāhika prabala ||4||
nāmera sadṛśa dhyāna nāhi e jagate |
nāmera sadṛśa phala nāhi kona mate ||5||
nāmera sadṛśa tyāga kona rūpe naya |
nāmera sadṛśa sama kabhu nāhi haya ||6||
nāmera sadṛśa puṇya nāhi e saṁsāre |
nāmera sadṛśa gati nā dekhi vicāre ||7||
nāma-i parama mukti nāma ucca gati |
nāma-i parama śānti nāma ucca sthiti ||8||
nāma-i parama bhakti nāma śuddhā mati |
nāma-i parama prīti nāma parā smṛti ||9||
nāma-i kāraṇa tattva nāma sarva prabhu |
parama ārādhya nāma guru-rūpe vibhu ||10||
The holy name is the purest form of knowledge; it is the best of all vratas or vows and the highest meditation; it gives the most auspicious fruits; it is the greatest renunciation; it is a matchless spiritual activity; it is the most pious of holy works; it is the supreme path of self-realization; it offers the greatest liberation and goal; it is the topmost destination; it is the best devotional service and the most purifying agent; it gives love of Godhead and is the essence of remembrance of the Lord; it is the cause of all causes, the Supreme Absolute Truth; it is the most worshipable object and acts as the supreme guide and spiritual master. [Indradyumna Swami’s morning prayer]
In mid-January, Indradyumna Swami traveled to South Africa for preaching, but while there he had a prostate biopsy and subsequently contracted a serious bacterial infection that developed into septicemia. After he regained his health, Indradyumna Swami reflected on the experience in a series of Facebook posts:
pāhi pāhi mahā-yogin
nānyaṁ tvad abhayaṁ paśye
yatra mṛtyuḥ parasparam
“Uttarā said: O Lord of lords, Lord of the universe! You are the greatest of mystics. Please protect me, protect me, for there is no one else who can save me from the clutches of death in this world of duality.” [Śrīmad-Bhāgavatam 1.8.9;Indradyumna Swami’s “Wisdom Gained – #1”]
ahany ahani bhūtāni
śeṣāḥ sthāvaram icchanti
kim āścaryam ataḥ param
“Hundreds and thousands of living entities meet death at every moment, but a foolish living being nonetheless thinks himself deathless and does not prepare for death. This is the most amazing thing in this world.” [ Mahābhārata, Vana-parva 313.116; Indradyumna Swami’s “Wisdom Gained – #2” ]
āyuṣaḥ kṣaṇa eko ‘pi na labhyaḥ svarṇa-koṭibhiḥ
na cen nirarthakaṁ nītiḥ kā ca hānis tato ‘dhikā
“Even one moment of life spent cannot be regained for millions of gold coins. Therefore, what greater loss is there than time spent uselessly?” [ Cāṇakya Paṇḍita; Indradyumna Swami’s “Wisdom Gained – #3” ]
At the end of February, Indradyumna Swami had an operation for prostate cancer and the day before he quoted a Śrīmad-Bhāgavatam verse calling for protection:
durgeṣv aṭavy-āji-mukhādiṣu prabhuḥ
pāyān nṛsiṁho ‘sura-yūthapāriḥ
vimuñcato yasya mahāṭṭa-hāsaṁ
diśo vinedur nyapataṁś ca garbhāḥ
“May Lord Nṛsiṁhadeva, who appeared as the enemy of Hiraṇyakaśipu, protect me in all directions. His loud laughing vibrated in all directions and caused the pregnant wives of the asuras to have miscarriages. May that Lord be kind enough to protect me in difficult places like the forest and battlefront.” [ Śrīmad-Bhāgavatam, 6.8.14; Indradyumna Swami’s prayer ]
From Vrindavan in March, Indradyumna Swami appreciated the opportunity to reside in the Dhama with the words of Śrīla Raghunātha dās Goswāmī:<b
r> anyatra kṣaṇa-mātram acyuta-pure-premāmṛtāmbho-nidhi
snāto ‘py acyuta-saj-janair api-samaṁ nāhaṁ vasāmi kvacit
kintv atra vraja-vāsinām api samaṁ yenāpi kenapy alaṁ
saṁlāpair mama nirbharaḥ pratimuhur vāso ‘stu nityaṁ mam
Even if I have the opportunity to bathe in the ocean of pure love of Kṛṣṇa, and even if I have the pure devotees of the infallible Supreme Personality of Godhead as my associates, I will not consent to live even for a moment, in any sacred place other than Vrajabhumi. Even if the residents of Vṛndāvan appear to be ordinary, and even if they fill my ears with useless gossip, I pray that I may remain among them, eternally residing here in Vraja. [ Vraja Vilāsa-Stava, verse 105; Indradyumna Swami’s Vṛndāvan Reflection ]
In April, Indradyumna Swami took a number of devotees to the village of Dauji in Gokul, Vṛndāvan. The next day he would leave Vṛndāvan to return to his preaching duties in the western countries. Before this, he sought the blessings of Dauji, Lord Balarāma, who resides in His deity form in a beautiful temple in the center of the village. He quoted from Srila Prabhupāda’s Kṛṣṇa: The Supreme Personality of Godhead.
One cannot attain the supreme platform of self-realization without being sufficiently favored by Balarama. Bala does not mean physical strength. No one can attain spiritual perfection by physical strength. One must have the spiritual strength which is infused by Balarama. Balarama is the source of spiritual power, or the original spiritual master. [ Kṛṣṇa, The Supreme Personality of Godhead, “Prayers by the Demigods for Lord Kṛṣṇa in the Womb.” Indradyumna Swami’s reflection on Balarama ]
As Indradyumna Swami left Vṛndāvan to begin his preaching activities in the west, he reflected on Śrīla Prabhupāda’s austerity and then quoted one of his favorite verses from Śrīla Prabhodānanda Sarasvatīpāda:
yathā yathā gaura-padāravinde
vindeta bhaktiṁ kṛta puṇya-rāśiḥ
tathā tathot-sarpati hṛdya-kasmād
Translation: “One who is extremely fortunate may get the mercy of Caitanya Mahāprabhu. As much as one can devote his full attention to the lotus feet of Lord Caitanya, to that extent he will be able to taste the nectarine service of the lotus feet of Srimati Radharani in Vrindavan. The more one engages in the service of Śrī Caitanya, the more one finds oneself in Vrindavan, tasting the nectar of the service of Sri Radha.” [ Caitanya Candrāmrta, text 88; A favorite verse of Indradyumna Swami’s ]
On the occasion of his Vyāsa Pūjā, Indradyumna Swami thanked disciples, friends, and well-wishers and quoted with such humility from the Nectar of Devotion: One aged devotee of Krsna addressed Him in this way: ‘My dear Krsna, O killer of the demon Agha, my body is now invalid due to old age. I cannot speak very fluently, my voice is faltering, my mind is not strong, and I am often attacked by forgetfulness. But, my dear Lord, You are just like the moonlight, and my only real regret is that for want of any taste for Your pleasant shining I did not advance myself in Krsna consciousness.’ This statement is an instance of lamentation due to one’s being unable to achieve his desired goal. [ Nectar Of Devotion, Chapter 29; Indradyumna Swami’s reflections on Vyāsa Pūjā ]
The day of the first official festival on the Baltic coast in Poland, Indradyumna Swami turned to the third canto of Śrīmad-Bhāgavatam for nectar on what true compassion signifies and yields: kṛtvā dayāṁ ca jīveṣu dattvā cābhayam ātmavān mayy ātmānaṁ saha jagad drakṣyasy ātmani cāpi mām “Showing compassion to all living entities, you will attain self-realization. Giving assurance of safety to all, you will perceive your own self as well as all the universes in Me, and Myself in you.” [ Śrīmad-Bhāgavatam 3.21.31; Indradyumna Swami’s reflections before Polish tour ]
In July, Indradyumna Swami wrote lengthy diary entries to keep eager devotees around the world apprised of how the Polish tour was proceeding. Meanwhile, on his facebook page, he continued to post verses as he reflected on Śrīla Prabhupāda and the preaching service he and the devotees were offering up to Prabhupāda’s lotus feet: akṣṇoḥ phalaṁ tvādṛśa-darśanaṁ hi tanoḥ phalaṁ tvādṛśa-gātra-saṅgaḥ jihvā-phalaṁ tvādṛśa-kīrtanaṁ hi sudurlabhā bhāgavatā hi loke
Translation: “O devotee of the Lord, to see you is the perfection of the eyes, to touch your body is the perfection of bodily activities, and to glorify your qualities is the perfection of the tongue, for it is very rare to find a pure devotee like you.” [ Hari Bhakti Sudhodaya 13.2; Indradyumna Swami reflections on Śrīla Prabhupāda ] yadā parānanda-guro bhavat-pade padaṁ mano me bhagaval labheta tadā nirastākhila-sādhana-śramaḥ śrayeya saukhyaṁ bhavataḥ kṛpātaḥ
Translation: “O transcendentally blissful guru, when my mind finally achieves a place at your lotus feet, all the tiresome labor of my spiritual practices will be finished, and by your mercy, I will experience the greatest happiness.” [ Verse by Srila Sridhar Swami quoted in purport to Śrīmad-Bhāgavatam 10.87.33, Indradyumna Swami’s reflections on Śrīla Prabhupāda ]
Indradyumna Swami continued with his diary entries well into August, reflecting on the Summer festivals and on the devotee’s blissful presence at the Woodstock festival that was attended by over a million people last year. One verse he quoted glorified Sri Caitanya Mahaprabhu in the most appropriate manner befitting the grand festival: yuga-dharma-yutaḿ punar nanda-sutaḿ dharaṇī-sucitraḿ bhava-bhāvocitam tanu-dhyāna-citaḿ nija-vāsa-yutam praṇamāmi śacī-suta-gaura-varam Translation: “I bow down to Gaura, the beautiful son of Mother śacī, who is worshipped by the chanting of the holy names in the age of Kali, who is the son of Nanda Mahārāja come again, who is the extraordinary brilliant ornament of the earth, whose various preaching methods are suitable for people in this world of birth and death, whose consciousness is fixed in meditation on His form of Vrajendra-nandana Kṛṣṇa and who is worshipped together with His abode of Sri Navadvipa Dhama.” [Sarvabhauma Bhattacarya, Sri śacī-sutastakam, verse 7; Indradyumna Swami’s August diary entry ]
Later in August, Indradyumna Swami reflected on the solar eclipse and reflected on how the Gopīs took the opportunity of a solar eclipse to meditate deeply on Lord Kṛṣṇa during their meeting at Kuruksetra. They prayed to Kṛṣṇa: āhuś ca te nalina-nābha padāravindaṁ yogeśvarair hṛdi vicintyam agādha-bodhaiḥ saṁsāra-kūpa-patitottaraṇāvalambaṁ gehaṁ juṣām api manasy udiyāt sadā naḥ Translation: “Dear Lord, whose navel is just like a lotus flower, Your lotus feet are the only shelter for those who have fallen into the deep well of material existence. Your feet are worshiped and meditated upon by great mystic yogis and highly learned philosophers. We wish that these lotus feet may also be awakened within our hearts, although we are only ordinary persons engaged in household affairs.” [ Śrīmad-Bhāgavatam 10.82.48; Indradyumna Swami on solar eclipse ]
In September, a portion of Indradyumna Swami’s famous Festival of India tour was brought to America for the first time as the “Discover India” tour. The devotees held programs at Buffalo State University, Corning-Painted Post High School, Dublin Abbey Theater in Ohio, MIT, and other venues, and went on harinam in New York City, Boston, Philadelphia, etc. While in Boston, Indradyumna Swami and the tour Devotees made a special trip to Commonwealth Pier, where Srila Prabhupada arrived in the USA in 1965. There, Indradyumna Swami delivered a lecture on the potency of the Sadhu who carries the Lord within his heart to turn any place—even Commonwealth Pier—into a Dhama. He quoted the following verse from Śrīmad-Bhāgavatam: bhavad-vidhā bhāgavatās tīrtha-bhūtāḥ svayaṁ vibho tīrthī-kurvanti tīrthāni svāntaḥ-sthena gadābhṛtā “My lord, devotees like your good self are verily holy places personified. Because you carry the Personality of Godhead within your heart, you turn all places into places of pilgrimage.” [ Śrīmad-Bhāgavatam 1.13.10; Indradyumna Swami reflections at Commonwealth Pier ]
In October, Indradyumna Swami’s Kartik Parikramā program began, delivering the nectar of Vrindavan, not just to the 300 or so devotees who attended, but to the world of devotees who were following the live feed Kartik Parikramā videos on Facebook and Indradyumna Swami’s YouTube channel.
Near the end of the month, in his disappearance day offering to Śrīla Prabhupāda which he posted on Facebook, Indradyumna Swami cited the following verse, reminiscent of the mood of full surrender in service: nārāyaṇa-parāḥ sarve na kutaścana bibhyati svargāpavarga-narakeṣv api tulyārtha-darśinaḥ Translation: “Devotees solely engaged in the devotional service of the Supreme Personality of Godhead, Nārāyaṇa, never fear any condition of life. For them the heavenly planets, liberation and the hellish planets are all the same, for such devotees are interested only in the service of the Lord.” [ Śrīmad-Bhāgavatam 6.17.28; Indradyuma Swami’s Reflections on Śrīla Prabhupāda]
By November, Indradyumna Swami’s Kartik Parikramā program had ended on a very blissful note, but the passing of his dear disciple, Braja Vallabhi devi dasi, put the entire ISKCON devotee community in shock. Srila Indradyumna Swami exalted his disciple in a moving letter to her and quoted from several sources about the land of Vṛndāvan and the bright future which awaits his disciple: papadya bhavadīyatāṁ kalita-nirmala-premabhir mahadbhir api kāmyate kim api yatra tārṇam januh krtātra ku-janer api vraja-vane sthitir me yayā krpām krpana-gāminīṁ sadasi naumi tām eva vām “O handsome, fragrant tamala desire tree blooming in the Vṛndāvan forest and embraced by the madhavi vine of the goddess ruling this forest! O tree, the shade of whose glory protects the world from a host of burning sufferings, what wonderful fruits do the people find at your feet?” [ Śrīla Rūpa Gosvāmī, Utkalikā-vallarī, A Vine of Hopes, text 66; Indradyumna Swami’s letter to Braja Vallabhi dasi ]
Indradyumna Swami spent most of December in Vṛndāvan, visiting friends, going on Parikramā and absorbing himself in the Dhama before setting off on his preaching travels in the new year. In a facebook post, he reflected on Vṛndāvan by quoting from Śrīla Prabhodānanda Sarasvatīpāda: My life and soul is the most opulent land of Vṛndāvan, which is overwhelmed by the pastimes of Sri Sri Rādhā and Kṛṣṇa, which is decorated with many groves and fountains, which is beautified by khadira and sandalwood forests on the banks of the Kalindi River, which is decorated with many beautiful caves at Govardhan Hill, where eternal good fortune is constantly showering, and where Sri Sri Rādhā and Kṛṣṇa constantly perform the most wonderful pastimes. [ Sri Vṛndāvan Mahimāmrta, Sataka three, Text 60; Indradyumna Swami’s reflections on Vṛndāvan ]
We humbly offer this garland of ever-fresh and fragrant flowers for the pleasure of all of the Saragrahi Vaiṣṇava Devotees with hopes of your wearing it for some time and keeping it close to your heart. We also offer our deepest gratitude to His Holiness Indradyumna Swami for providing such a transcendental variety in his Facebook posts throughout the year through such contributions as these to keep us all inspired in our Krsna consciousness.
Your dependent servants,
Gandharvika Keli devi dasi, Virginia, USA and
Govinda Caran Das, California, USA.
Every year, during the most auspicious month of Kartik, Indradyumna Swami and Bada Hari Das will be taking devotees on a special journey of pilgrimage, in Sri Vrindavan dham and Jaipur. Hundreds of devotees from all over the world join them on journeys of a lifetime with hundreds of lectures filled with wonderful past times related to the place of visit and meditative kirtans to accompany them.
Indradyumna Swami has been involved in coordinating the annual Festival of India tour in Poland since 1990. The festivals seek to introduce people to India’s ancient cultural traditions through a feast of entertainment and education involving: classical Indian dance performances, theatre with larger-than-life puppets, presentations on Vedic texts such as Bhagavad-gita, musical performances, graphic exhibits, stalls with books and handicrafts, vegetarian food. The events are attended by between 5,000 to 10,000 people at a time.
Sadhu Sanga Retreat organized by Indradyumna Swami at Boone, NC is the biggest Kirtan event in North America! Join more than 1600 people and enjoy four days of blissful Meditation, Kirtan and Sanctified vegetarian feast at the wonderful Blue Ridge Mountains!
Original article written by Peter Mcintosh – April 02, 2016 for Otago daily times
Hare Krishna monk his holiness Indradyumna Swami with Dunedin Hare Krishnaco-ordinator Jane Beecroft at Dunedin International Airport yesterday. Indradyumna Swami is a former United States marine who now travels the world promoting the Krishna lifestyle.
He said he had come from India to New Zealand and would stay in Dunedin for three days.
The movement is celebrating 50 years since it began in the West in 1966.
The monk, who has no wife or children or bank account, travels from place to place, and stays in one place for only three days.
In Dunedin he will share his teachings, answering questions and showing people how to do yoga and meditate.
by Ruchi Vaishnav – September 13, 2017 for www.newsindiatimes.com
It was a busy Tuesday morning on September 11, 2001 when jet fuel spread fear all over the city as terrorists crashed through the Twin Towers and the Pentagon in Washington D.C.
Thousands came together on that fearful day, 16 years later and commemorated the 2,983 lives that were lost in the rubble along with the ones who had survived it and about 4.8 miles away from the horrific sight, where now the 9/11 Memorial stands, in the Kaufman Music Center, Viva Kultura, a Polish group consisting of over 40 artists from 15 countries, performed their hearts out to an audience of 150 in a show called “Discover India.”
The night started off with a Kirtan which after classical dancers from Sankhya Dance Creations in Mumbai performed two different dances which included the dance forms of Bharat Natyam and Khathak and were choreographed by Vaibhav Arekar.The show went on to telling stories from Vedic literature such as the Light of the Bhagavatam; a story about a King named Pariksit who was cursed to die in seven days and found peace in the words of a young sage named Sukhadeva.
The next story was about Usha and Aniruddha, a love story about a princess who falls in love with her dream prince however, her father is against the marriage and imprisons the prince leading to a raging war and a rescue of the prince by a divine arrangement.
The artists then narrated the Ramayana through dance and in between the stories Indradyumna Swami gave the audience his wisdom from the Bhagavat Gita and Padma Lochana Vilas performed the Indian martial art Kalaripayatt with a chakra.
Through “Discover India,” Viva Kultura filled the evening with peace in contrary to the screams which were heard 16 years ago that day.
I must admit, though, that even with fewer ISKCON devotees here, I haven’t found it easy to discipline myself to the rigors of increased chanting and hourslong studying and learning verses. The mind is a muscle; if we don’t use it in particular ways, it can atrophy. Then we have to gradually build up its strength so that we can sit and hear comfortably for long periods of time. Only after days of practice have I again developed a taste for hearing Srimad-Bhågavatam and Caitanya-caritåm®ta. Now each morning I wake up looking forward to absorbing myself in the nectar of these two beautiful scriptures and I wonder how I have managed to go on for so long over this past year without absorbing myself in them. I know I have been busy with other service, but I pray that when I leave Vrindavana in mid-December, I will continue to find time in my schedule to study for one or two hours a day. I would at least like to follow Cånakya Pa∫∂ita’s advice to all aspiring transcendentalists: “Let not a single day pass without your learning a verse, a half a verse, a fourth of it, or even one letter of it; nor without attending to charity, study, and other pious activity.” (Nîti-såstra, Chapter 2, verse 13)
Late in the afternoons I try to visit one or two tîrthas for additional inspiration. As a result, I now have a fairly good idea where many of Vraja’s sacred spots are located. By tagging along with my godbrother Dînabandu Prabhu, who has been taking devotees on pilgrimage for years, I’m also gradually learning about the pastimes connected with each place. It is important to become familiar with Vrindavana’s holy tîrthas, because we seek to enter this abode when we leave our mortal bodies. If we do not know, constantly remember, and most importantly, develop attachment for Krishna’s Vrindavana pastimes, what will inspire us to ascend to Vraja at the time of death?
Krishna reveals some of the secrets of the spiritual sky in Bhagavad-gîtå:
na tad bhåsayate süryo
na ΩaΩåõko na påvaka˙
yad gatvå na nivartante
tad dhåma paramaµ mama
“That supreme abode of Mine is not illumined by the sun or moon, nor by fire or electricity. Those who reach it never return to this material world.” (Bg. 15.6)
In his purport to this verse, Prabhupåda states, “One should be captivated by this information. He should desire to transfer himself to that eternal world and extricate himself from this false reflection of reality. For one who is too much attached to this material world, it is very difficult to cut that attachment, but if he takes to Krishna consciousness there is a chance of gradually becoming detached.”
When several devotees from the Polish festival tour, including Varanåyaka, Jayatåm, Nandinî, Rådhå-sakhî-v®ndå, and Rasamayî arrived in Vrindavana, I requested Dîna-bandhu to escort us on several parikramas. He took us first to BadarikåΩrama, which is located in a remote corner of Vrindavana close to the Rajasthan border. Of course, the original BadarikåΩrama is high in the Himalayas, but Dîna-bandhu explained that by Krishna’s mercy, all the holy places in India are simultaneously located in Vraja. For this reason, we need not visit any holy tîrtha outside Vrindavana. I was amazed, though, when after traveling by van for three hours we ar-rived at Vrindavana’s BadarikåΩrama and found that it was hilly and forested, a contrast to Vrindavana’s usual flat, arid landscape.
At BadarikåΩrama we visited a temple on a large hill, at the base of which sat a small village. It took us more than forty-five minutes to climb the steep steps to the temple, and we arrived exhausted. Still, we were pleasantly surprised to find ancient Rådhå-Krishna Deities there being cared for by an elderly püjårî. A ten-year-old boy sat peacefully by his side. Wearing only a loincloth around his waist, the boy, to my amazement, was reading to the püjårî from scripture.
Dîna-bandhu asked the sådhu where he was from. The holy man replied, “You should not ask a sådhu where he is from but where he is going—what is his final destination. Our birth is insignificant, but our death may be glorious. It is for this reason that I am spending my last days in Vrindavana.”
His words impressed me. But what impressed me more was the boy by his side. I had noticed a number of boys in the village running through the streets and causing mischief. I saw one angry shopkeeper chase them away. By contrast, this boy appeared well-behaved, clean, and respectful toward the old püjårî. When the sådhu asked him to do something, he performed the task obediently and cheerfully, then returned to his place. It reminded me of the days of yore when boys lived in their spiritual master’s åΩrama, studying Ωåstra and rendering service in humility. It is rare to find such ex-amples today, even in Vrindavana, where television and cricket are fast be-coming the focus of many young people’s attention.
I asked the püjårî about him, and to my surprise learned that he lived with the old man. When I asked the boy what he did there, he replied, “I help the båbå worship the Lord.”
“What about your parents? Have they given you permission to live up here?”
At that he looked to the sky, indicating that his parents had left this world.
“What about school?”
Surprised, he exclaimed, “I’m serving Båbå and Krishna!” as if to say, “What better education could I receive?”
I was to going to counter that a material education is useful, if not essential, for a devotee living in this world, but then thought better of it. Considering the boy’s circumstances and his admirable qualities, I thought of this verse from the Upanißads:
yasya deve parå bhaktir
yathå deve tathå gurau
tasyaite kathitå hy arthå˙
“Unto those great souls who have implicit faith in both the Lord and the spiritual master, all the imports of Vedic knowledge are automatically revealed.” (ÛvetåΩvatara Upanißad 6.23)
We held kîrtana for the Deities’ pleasure for over an hour. Then, as we all prepared to leave, I excused myself from our group and went to find the boy. I discovered him in a little hut, preparing the Deity’s offering and singing melodious prayers. Wanting to express my appreciation, I held out one hundred rupees, saying, “For you! For you!” He smiled slightly and shook his head, indicating that he wasn’t interested. Still, I insisted he take the lakshmî, and continued to wave it in front of him. He wasn’t tempted. He simply carried on with his service. I realized that I had misjudged him; he was more advanced than I had thought. His simple life of service to the sådhu and the Lord was more satisfying to him than anything money could buy.
This was the second time I had received a spiritual lesson through a child. Why not? Srila Prabhupåda once explained that in Vrindavana, not even the animals are ordinary souls. Every soul in Vrindavana is a devotee. The animals are devotees who committed offenses in the dhåma in a previous life. They have taken such low births in order to free themselves from their sinful reactions before returning to Vrindavana in the spiritual sky. The incident with this boy left me resolved to be more careful in my dealings with the Brijbasis. I have much to learn from his dedication to his spiritual preceptor and the satisfaction he feels in living the simple, renounced life of an aspiring devotee.
“We offer our respectful obeisances to those who reject thornless kingdoms and beautiful women, who think material happiness most bitter, and who renounce education, noble birth, wealth, and fame, and who go to Vrindavana never to leave.
“To the supremely fortunate, pious, and affectionate persons who live in Vrindavana, which is more blissful than Lord Vishnu’s abode, and who, worshiping Rådhå and Krishna with prayers and gifts, make Them deeply indebted to them, we offer our respectful obeisances.” (Vrindavana-mahimåm®ta, Ûataka 1, texts 76–77)
For reading other dairies of Indradyumna Swami, please click here
O brother! When you close your eyes in death, where will your loving wife, children, brothers, and relatives be? Where will your good qual-ities be? Where will your fame be? Where will your pride, wealth, educa-tion, control over others, powers, and opulence be? O learned and intelli-gent friend! Why do you not renounce these things and run to Vrndavana?”
(Vrndavana-mahimåm®ta, Ûataka 1, text 81)
I have been deluged by e-mails, phone calls, and faxes warning, advis-ing, and even pleading with me not to go to India. The devotees are afraid of possible terrorist attacks and the developing tensions between India and Pakistan. Many of their arguments are logical, but yesterday morning I came across a relevant purport in the Bhågavatam. Reading Prabhupåda’s clear advice convinced me to go.
Sometimes the members of the Krishna Consciousness Society are afraid of the impending danger of world war and ask what would happen to them if a war should occur. In all kinds of danger, they should be confident of their protection by the Viß∫udütas or the Supreme Personality of Godhead, as confirmed in Bhagavad-gîtå (kaunteya pratijånîhi na me bhakta˙ pra∫aΩyati). Material dan-ger is not meant for devotees. This is also confirmed in Srimad-Bhågavatam. Padaµ padaµ yad vipadåm na teßåm: in this materi-al world there are dangers at every step, but they are not meant for devotees who have fully surrendered unto the lotus feet of the Lord. The pure devotees of Lord Viß∫u may rest assured of the Lord’s protection, and as long as they are in this material world they should fully engage in devotional service by preaching the cult of Sri Caitanya Mahåprabhu and Lord Krishna, namely the Hare Krishna movement of Krishna consciousness.
—Bhåg. 6.3.18, purport
On October 8 I flew from Warsaw to New Delhi with Sri Prahlåda and his wife, Rukmi∫î-prîyå dåsî. After a brief stopover in Vienna, we were the first passengers to reboard the airplane. It was a full flight, so I settled into my seat and watched the other passengers board, curious to see who might sit beside me for the nine-hour journey. I noticed one woman, who appeared extremely nervous, coming down the aisle. Upon seeing me, she seemed to calm herself, and then appeared relieved when she discovered that her seat was next to mine. We exchanged a few pleasantries, but other-wise did not speak during the flight.
Nine hours later as we landed in Delhi and were preparing to deplane, the woman asked, “Can I share something with you?”
“I have a phobia about flying, which has increased due to the recent ter-rorist attacks in America. I was anxious as I boarded the flight, but when I saw you, a monk, I prayed to God, ‘Please, Lord, let me sit near him and everything will be all right.’ And it was! Thank you for being my guardian angel.”
Surprised, I managed only a “You’re welcome” as we joined the flow of passengers leaving the plane.
As we were walking down the stairs to Immigration and Customs, a man and his wife stopped me and also thanked me. Amused, I asked, “For what?”
“For being on that flight,” the man said, and they walked on. Again I saw how nervous people had become due to the terrorist attacks, and how ready they were to appreciate the shelter spiritual life offers.
It was well after midnight by the time we cleared customs. As soon as we were through, we left for Vrndavana in a Tata Sumo van. I knew we had at least two hours to go before arriving in the dhåma, but I was so excited I couldn’t sleep. I found myself counting the minutes until our arrival.
We pulled in at 4:00 a.m. Even at that hour Vrndavana bustles with ac-tivity. Unlike Westerners, most Brijbasis are up before sunrise either on their way to one of the seven thousand temples or simply to begin the day’s work. As we stepped out of the van, the sweet smell of night-blooming jasmine enlivened my senses, and I could hear the sound of ringing bells. Only the humidity was unpleasant. I was drenched in perspiration within mo-ments.
But I am not complaining. I have been to India many times and am familiar with the heat and cold, the simple food, the crowded streets, the occasional loss of electricity, and how difficult it can be sometimes to get water. These austerities afford little opportunity for sense gratification and ultimately serve to make us callous toward material existence. Among other things, visiting a holy place allows us to perform austerity and decrease our bodily demands. Krishna says clearly in Bhagavad-gîtå (18.67):
idaµ te nåtapaskåya
na cåΩuΩrüßave våcyaµ
na ca måµ yo ’bhyasüyati
“This confidential knowledge may never be explained to those who are not austere, or devoted, or engaged in devotional service, nor to one who is en-vious of Me.”
Of course, the rewards of visiting as wonderfully auspicious a place as Vrndavana far outweigh the austerities we have to perform while we are there! The benefits of devotional service performed in the land of V®ndå-vana are magnified one thousand times. And Vrndavana is so beautiful. Srila Prabhupåda describes Vrndavana’s beauty in his Krishna book. One brief pas-sage in particular has, for me, always captured the essence of this transcen-dental land: “Vrndavana is such a nice place. Flowers are always blooming, and there are even various kinds of decorated deer. Birds are chirping, pea-cocks are crowing and dancing, and bees are humming. The cuckoos there sing nicely in five kinds of tunes.”
After settling in, I visited the Krishna-Balaram Mandir and Srila Prab-hupåda’s samådhi, then took a long walk through Vrndavana. I felt carefree and happy as I visited the various temples. This was the moment I had been anticipating for so long. I often thought of Vrndavana during the Polish festival tour and had mentally visited a number of holy places. Such medi-tation relieves me from the pressure of the constant opposition we face in Poland and provides divine inspiration. Now walking the streets of Vraja, I realized that while it helps to meditate on Vrndavana from a distance, reg-ularly taking darΩana of the holy sites is what gives me the strength to go on in devotional service year after year.
On this, my first day, I wanted to make it a point to visit the five per-sonalities that bestow the greatest mercy upon aspiring devotees in the holy dhåma: GopîΩvara-mahådeva (Lord Ûiva),V®ndådevî, Yogamåyå, the Ya-munå River, and Govardhana Hill. I prayed to each of them that my stay in Vrndavana would be transcendentally fruitful.
I also met many old friends as I walked, including temple püjårîs, shop-keepers, sådhus, and rickshaw wallas. What impressed me most in these en-counters is that in each case, we simply talked about Krishna consciousness. The püjårîs told me of the outfits the Lord had worn during the recent hot season, the shopkeepers talked about the festivals they had observed, the sådhus spoke of the Lord himself, and the rickshaw wallas—well, they bar-gained for higher prices. All of it was music to my ears. Nowhere did I hear about terrorism, which is all that’s being discussed everywhere else in the world. Although the threat of evil is real, because of advancements in infor-mation technology, the world is now able to focus on a single event in hu-man history. Like all world events large or small, however, the war on ter-rorism will come and go no matter how many people are aware of it. In the meantime, we are losing valuable time. We should be using that time to in-quire about eternal, spiritual matters.
We have to take mundane news in small doses if we don’t want to be-come preoccupied with it and become uncertain and afraid. Devotees should give more time to Ωåstra than to the newspaper. Srila Prabhupåda was clear on this point: “Caitanya Mahåprabhu has advised, gråma-kathå nå Ωunibe, bhåla nå khåibe nå bhåla nå paribe—don’t indulge in gråmya-kathå [village talk]. Therefore we always advise, ‘Don’t read newspaper. Don’t read any other book,’ because it is full of gråmya-kathå. Avoid it as far as possible. There is no need. What is the news of a gråmya-kathånewspaper?
The same thing repeated. ‘Here there is flood, where there is train disas-ter, where there is accident, where one politician is giving speech, another politician is giving speech.’ This externally very attractive news—we should avoid it completely. We shall simply talk of Krishna. That is the safest meth-od.” (Lecture, September 1, 1975)
The beauty of Vrndavana is that the “village talk” is mostly about Krishna. Of course, if we remain determined to hear news of the outside world even while in Vraja, we can tune into the BBC on the radio. There are also plenty of newspapers available in Vrndavana.
But Srila Prabhupåda explains that meeting saintly persons in the dhåma is the purpose of pilgrimage; the saintly persons living in the dhåma are as important as the dhåma itself. We shouldn’t waste our time discussing mundane news with them. During my first few days in V®ndå-vana, I was fortunate to meet a number of Krishna conscious persons in un-expected ways. For example, while performing Govardhana parikrama with a small group of devotees, I visited the Dauji temple, which is not far from Govinda-ku∫∂a. As our party entered the temple, an eleven-year-old girl encouraged us to come forward to see the Deity. After offering our obei-sances, we sat before the Deity, marveling at His transcendental form. No-ticing that the girl was carefully observing us, I spoke to her through my disciple, Dauji Krishna dåsî.
I asked, “Do you live here?”
Looking fondly at the Deity she replied, “Yes, my father is the priest here and I help him worship the Deity before I go to school. Every morning I bathe the Lord, then serve Him prasådam.”
I was impressed. “What do you want to be when you grow up?”
“I will do whatever Dauji desires. We are not independent—we cannot do anything without His sanction.”
Amazed that such a young girl had so much devotion for the Deity, I continued, “Do you want to live in this village all your life?”
“Yes, of course. I never want to leave Vrndavana. This is where Krishna and Balaråma play.”
By this time, I was not only impressed but embarrassed. This girl was displaying so much natural affection for the Deity and the spiritual land of Vraja that it seemed disproportionate. After all, although I have been prac-ticing Krishna consciousness for thirty-one years, I still struggle to muster sincere sentiment for the Lord. This young girl’s love for Krishna seemed spontaneous and natural.
“Would you like to visit America?” I blurted.
“Why would I want to go to America? If it were so nice there, why have you spent so much money to come to Vrndavana?” Then answer-ing her own question she said, “Because Dauji is here, and He’s the most attractive person.”
I wondered, “Who is this little girl?” Then I remembered Jesus Christ’s words: “And a little child shall lead them.” This girl won my heart completely by her response. Recognizing her as a real devotee, I asked her if she needed anything for her service.
“I’d like a book from which I can learn English so that when foreigners come I can tell them everything about Krishna.”
“Is that all you want?” I asked.
Instead of replying, she simply raised her gaze to Dauji. I thought, “Of course she doesn’t want anything more. She has everything here. She has Krishna. I hope in my short stay in Vrndavana that I can obtain just a little of the devotion she has for the Lord.”
As she continued to look at the Deity, we quietly offered our obeisances and left. The hair on my body was standing on end. That little Brijbasi girl was no ordinary soul. Does it matter that she has never heard of the world’s woes? “I pray that I may engage in the service of the moving and nonmov-ing residents of Vrndavana. What are Brahmå and the other demigods in comparison to them? The residents of Vrndavana are more glorious. They are very dear to Vraja’s king. Their forms are eternal, spiritual, and full of nectar. Their glories are limitless. They are the roots that sprout into the bliss of the Upanißads.”
“Don’t do anything! Don’t say anything! Forget everything you’ve seen! Remember the fair and dark couple that pains Kåmadeva, flee the common people, and go to transcendental Vrndavana!” (Vrndavana-mahimåm®ta, Ûataka 1, texts 61 and 32)
For reading other dairies of Indradyumna Swami, please click here
To allay her fears I said, “It’s okay, you can tell me the problem. After all, we’ll be sitting next to one another for the next twelve hours.”
Leaning over, she whispered softly, “Two Arabs tried to hijack the British Airways flight I was on from Nairobi to London yesterday. They came aboard just before we left, pulled out guns, and threatened to kill us. Several men wrestled them to the ground. Minutes later the police arrived and took them away. The cabin crew on this flight asked me not to mention the incident to anyone, but I’m terrified!”
I told the woman that this world is a dangerous place, but if we are conscious of God and pray for His shelter, He will protect us. Seeing me fingering my japa beads she asked, “Is that what you’re doing there?”
“Yes,” I replied. “I’m chanting God’s names.” She asked if she could listen.
“Of course.” I began to chant louder. She gradually calmed, and by the time the flight took off, she had become peaceful.
An hour later she turned to me and said, “Your prayers are powerful. Can you teach them to me?” I then taught her the words to the mahå-mantra, which she carefully noted on a piece of paper.
As our flight was landing in San Diego, California twelve hours later, I watched as she took the paper from her purse and softly chanted the mahå-mantra to herself. Observing her newfound faith in Krishna’s holy name re-minded me of my own experiences when I first began to chant Hare Krishna thirty-two years ago. Although I knew little or nothing about the holy name’s glories, chanting quickly awakened in me a keen interest in spiritu-al life. My awakening has sometimes reminded me of Nårada Muni’s amazing experience recorded in Srimad-Bhågavatam, where he became interested in Krishna consciousness after only one bite of prasådam received from merciful devotees.
ucchiß†a-lepån anumodito dvijai˙
sak®t sma bhuõje tad-apåsta-kilbißa˙
evaµ prav®ttasya viΩuddha-cetasas
tad-dharma evåtma-ruci˙ prajåyate
“Once only, by their permission, I took the remnants of their food, and by so doing all my sins were at once eradicated. Thus being engaged, I became purified in heart, and at that time the very nature of the transcendentalist became attractive to me.” (Bhåg. 1.5.25)
Seeing the distraught woman’s faith in the holy name increased my own desire to chant and to continue to seek new realizations in service to the holy name.
My son Gaura-Ωakti met me at the San Diego airport and drove me to his home to rest. His wife had recently given birth to a baby girl, whom they had named Amara-kelî. One evening Gaura and I were reminiscing about his own growing up. He expressed his disappointment that he had been born too late to have met Srila Prabhupåda. He was pleasantly sur-prised when I told him that he had in fact received Srila Prabhupåda’s mer-cy through a personal exchange they had had when he was barely twelve months old.
During the summer of 1974, Srila Prabhupåda was visiting the New Måyåpur community in France. One afternoon I was walking around the Chateau, carrying Gaura on my shoulders. I didn’t notice it at first, but Sri-la Prabhupåda was watching us from his window. When Gaura saw Prabhu-påda, he waved his arms and kicked his legs, eagerly calling the only word he knew: “Prabhupåda! Prabhupåda! Prabhupåda!” Seeing his enthusiasm, Prabhupåda’s eyes widened and he waved at Gaura, causing the boy to be-come so excited that he almost fell off my shoulders.
Prabhupåda referred to the incident that night while talking to the de-votees. “Today one young boy become so excited when he saw me that it was as if we were old friends!”
After a few day’s rest in San Diego, Gaura drove me north to the La-guna Beach temple, where I planned to stay for a few days. On the way, we stopped at a roadside stall next to a farm to buy fruits and vegetables. As Gaura was choosing the items, I noticed the woman who owned the farm watching me as I paced back and forth, chanting japa. Gaura took his time, and in the end brought a large supply of vegetables up to the cash register. The woman totaled his purchase. It came to $120. As Gaura reached for his wallet, the woman said, “Take it for free. These fruits and vegetables are a gift for the man you’re with.”
Surprised, Gaura told her, “That’s my father!”
“I’ve been watching him. The world needs more people like him.”
I was embarrassed by her remarks, which caused a number of other shoppers to look at me. I realized that the recent events in New York had made Americans more God conscious and respectful of spiritual val-ues. In the few days I had been in the United States, a number of people had approached me, asking me to explain why such terrible things had happened. I usually receive such philosophical inquiries only when I am visiting world trouble spots such as Bosnia, Croatia, Serbia, or the Muslim republics of the former Soviet Union. Suddenly Americans are inquiring about the temporary and miserable nature of this world and searching for positive alternatives.
I wonder if their interest can last? Material nature easily covers what-ever minute spiritual knowledge we glean. The scriptures call this ΩmaΩåna vairågya, the detachment we feel when we attend funerals. Such detach-ment tends to disappear as soon as we leave the crematorium and again take up our activities.
It’s unfortunate that it often takes tragedy to awaken us to our existential purpose. People tend to be more pious when they are distressed. Haridåsa Êhåkura once explained this while sharing a prison cell with cri-minals. Knowing a saint’s ability to bestow mercy, several criminals approached Haridåsa Êhåkura and asked, “O great sådhu, please give us the blessing that we may quickly be released from this miserable place!”
Haridåsa Êhåkura replied, “My blessings are that you remain in this prison cell for many years to come.”
The prisoners were shocked. “Dear sådhu, what kind of blessing is that?”
Haridåsa Êhåkura replied, “I have given you this blessing because you are usually disrespectful to saintly persons. Being in such a miserable con-dition now has humbled you and made you respectful to sådhus. Now you have a good opportunity to attain spiritual emancipation. Better, then, that you remain in this miserable condition for as long as possible.”
In Laguna Beach I had the opportunity to thank Tukaråma Prabhu, the temple president, for all the help he gave the Polish tour over the past year. He organized our fundraising drive in the United States last spring, and the money he collected gave us the opportunity to hold the festivals for a full five months.
In Laguna Beach, the Lord also instructed me in an unusual way. One evening as I sat in my room, I overheard the brahmacårîs in the next room comparing the classes of several sannyåsîs who had recently visited. When my name was mentioned, there was a brief pause, and then one brahmacårî said, “I like his classes, but he’s not very erudite.” The boy’s words pierced my heart, but I managed to swallow my pride and admit that had I put as much time into studying Prabhupåda’s books as I had into preaching, the boy might have been able to speak differently. How do we find the balance between bhajana and preaching? The boy’s words deepened my resolve to focus on hearing and chanting when I went to Vrindavana.
Just after this incident, Tukaråma entered my room and asked me to give the Sunday feast lecture. I hesitated, still stung by the brahmacårî’s words, and then agreed. By the time I went downstairs to lecture, the tem-ple room was packed with both devotees and guests. Preaching to nondevo-tees comes easily to me—I’ve been doing it for most of my devotional life— so feeling relaxed and confident I presented the basic Krishna conscious phi-losophy, quoted verses, and told simple stories to illustrate my points.
Afterwards, Tukaråma told me that it was the best Sunday feast lecture he had ever attended. His words eased the pain of my not being “erudite.” This back-to-back condemnation and praise reminded me of Srila Prabh-upåda’s advice to the gurukula teachers in Dallas: a good teacher knows the art of reprimand and encouragement. If a child makes a mistake, the teach-er should first reprimand him, then quickly smother him with love and at-tention. On this occasion Krishna scolded me for neglecting my study, then quickly embraced me through Tukaråma’s kind words.
From Laguna Beach I traveled north to the home of my dear godbroth-er, Giriråja Mahåråja, who is still recovering from the major heart surgery he underwent about two years ago. Mahåråja is one of my closest friends, and I look to him for inspiration. I am especially inspired by his deep love for Srila Prabhupåda. I also admire his unique ability to draw from memo-ry personal stories about Prabhupåda to illustrate the philosophical points he makes while preaching. GiriråjaSwami merits the most prestigious title any ISKCON devotee can achieve: he is a “Prabhupåda man.”
On October 1 I flew to London and caught a connecting flight to Mos-cow. The next morning, I flew with my disciple Jananivåsa to Dinamorsk in southern Russia to attend a festival for devotees. During the flight we were seated next to a Russian army officer. He had recently returned from fighting guerrillas in Chechnya. The officer observed us in silence for some time, and then exclaimed, “I am sorry that I killed so many men in the war.” A discussion ensued, during which Jananivåsa explained the law of karma and how suffering is caused by our past impious deeds. With me coaching, he told how we can become free from karma by engaging in devotional ser-vice to God. The officer listened carefully, and at the end of Jananivåsa’s discourse, thanked us for the knowledge he had received.
Dinamorsk is a resort town on the Black Sea coast. The festival there had attracted three thousand devotees and twelve sannyåsîs. I was so jet-lagged, though, that I missed much association and a number of seminars. Still, I made it a point to spend time with the children who had come to the festival to see me. Every morning, thirty of us walked along the beach as I told them stories of my travels and listened to the problems they are expe-riencing as they grow up. Helping ISKCON’s children and inspiring them in their Krishna consciousness is another thing I like to do, perhaps because I saw what a lasting effect Srila Prabhupåda’s mercy had on my own son when he was young.
But during the relaxing days in Dinamorsk, I found myself thinking more and more about my upcoming Vrindavana pilgrimage. I know I will soon have to meet the challenge of self-discipline as I sit and study for hours a day. I have already decided to reduce my eating and sleeping while I’m there so I can spend a maximum amount of time hearing and chanting. I also plan to decrease my social life. This comes easily for some devotees, but such an austere lifestyle may prove challenging for someone like me. I’m accustomed to always being on the move, surrounded by people. I pray I will succeed. I have a vision of giving class to the young brahmacårîs at the Laguna Beach temple, Sanskrit verses flowing easily off my tongue as I elab-orate on Prabhupåda’s purports. I am using numerous analogies and citing commentaries by the previous åcåryas. All of this will be the fruit of months of disciplined study, time well spent in the holy abode of Vrindavana, wa-tered by the critique of an unknowing boy. The moment of change is at hand, because I leave for the sacred dhåma in twenty-four hours.
“If people criticize me, what is that? If I become the poorest of the poor, barely able to eke out a living for my family, what is that? If all calamities befall me, what is that? If I do not serve the Supreme Personality of Godhead, what is that? I will patiently remain in Sri Vrindavana. My great-est desire will be fulfilled.
“Dressed in a kaupîna and kanthå, living by eating fruit fallen from the trees, not speaking useless words, not passing time in useless deeds, aban-doning all pride, going to each house to beg a little alms, and following those for whom Sri Rådhikå is their entire life, I will live in Vrindavana.” (Sri Vrindavana-mahimåm®ta, Ûataka 1, texts 64–65)
For reading other dairies of Indradyumna Swami, please click here