Volume-11: Foreward


-by Keshava Bharati Dasa Goswami


As I sat down to write this foreword to the latest volume of Indradyumna Swami’s Diary of a Traveling Monk, a thought crossed my mind: “This is the eleventh volume of this diary. Does it really need a foreword? Devotees more qualified than me have already written forewords to the previous volumes. What more can I say?”

Just as I had that thought, a section of Brihad-Bhagavatamrita came to mind. Gopa-kumara had just heard the life story of his new disciple, a brahmin from Mathura.

The brahmin said: From various sources I have heard of various goals and various methods to achieve them, but still I cannot definitely decide what goal I should strive for and what I should do to reach it. (Bb 2.1.98)

By good fortune the brahmin had received the Gopala mantra from the deity Kamakhya. Out of respect for the goddess, he had been chanting the mantra in solitary places as he traveled. But because he was uneducated and somewhat materialistic he was still confused, even after having received the mercy of the goddess and her husband, Lord Shiva, in dream. The brahmin continued to explain to Gopa-kumara:

Whatever the goddess ordered me, I regularly do. But I have no idea about the results of those duties, or even what kind of acts they are. I therefore think my life worthless, and I simply want to die. I continue to live only by the mercy of Lord Madhava, and Lord Shiva and his wife. (Bb 2.1.99-100)

In other words, the brahmin had no idea what he was doing He needed guidance. He then begged Gopa-kumara to be his guru and deliver him.

In deliberating on how best to guide the brahmin, Gopa-kumāra thought:

“This person has done everything he needs to do. Indeed, his life is a a complete success. All that remains for him to achieve is to see directly the lotus feet of the Lord. He needs to become attached not so much to the solitary chanting of the Lord’s mantra but to the sankirtan of His names.” (Bb 2.1.102-103)

Gopa-kumara then considered what would be the best way to inspire the brahmin to accept this truth:

“To bring him to this realization [that he need only awaken his love for Madan-gopala through hari-nama-sankirtan], first I must tell him my own history in full. That will clear away all his doubts. Describing one’s own glories is disapproved by spiritual authorities. But nothing else I could tell will bring about his good fortune.” (Bb 2.1.107-108)

Srila Sanatana Goswami, in his commentary on this section of verses, remarks, “of all forms of evidence for establishing the truth, experience from one’s own life is the strongest.” For this reason Gopa-kumara concluded that to tell his own story was the best way to clear his new disciple’s doubts and persuade him to take up nama-sankirtan as the only means of clearing his confusion and reaching his goal.

The point I’m making here is that Indradyumna Swami’s publishing of a journal-samples of personal experiences he has had as a world preacher of Krishna consciousness – not only is authorized by revealed scripture but also is said to be the most powerful way to inspire others to take up Kṛṣṇa consciousness and advance in spiritual life.

All of us who have conducted public programs as preachers of Krishna conscious can testify that the question “how did you come to Krishna consciousness” often comes up. And my experience is that just as often the answer to that question is the audience’s favorite part of the lecture.

Gopa-kumāra’s conclusion, that his disciple must adopt nama-sankirtan sweetly singing the Supreme Lord’s holy names, as the only method for achieving love of God, also applies perfectly to Diary of a Traveling Monk, for Indradyumna Swami’s entire life in Krishna consciousness has been dedicated to distributing the Hare Krishna Maha Mantra.

By nature Indradyumna Swami is an adventurer; and his life in Krishna consciousness has always been a perfect dovetailing of that adventuresome spirit. His diaries, then, are potent means of delivering his steady, contagious enthusiasm for chanting the holy names of the Lord in public. In fact, everywhere Maharaja goes the attendance at programs and festivals increases exponentially, and year after year, as he returns to those same places, more of those attendees go on to become full-time devotees.

May this powerful medium, Diary of a Traveling Monk, Maharaja’s personal encounters as a worldwide preacher, travel behind him and continue to increase the number of enthusiastic chanters everywhere.

Hare Krishna
Keshava Bharata Dasa Goswami