Just see how powerful social media is: Durban’s biggest newspaper, The Daily News, picked up my most recent photo album on Facebook and posted it as a full page feature in their paper today. Circulation: 600,000! Not sure about the title though: Yummy Swami …
Wisdom Gained – Number Four
“My dear Lord, O Supreme Personality of Godhead, You are the Supreme Soul. If one meditates upon Your transcendental body, You naturally protect him from all sources of fear, even the imminent danger of death.” [ Srimad Bhagavatam 7.10.29 ]
Purport by Srila Prabhupada:
“Everyone is sure to die, for no one is excused from the hands of death, which is but a feature of the Supreme Personality of Godhead. When one becomes a devotee, however, he is not destined to die according to a limited duration of life. Everyone has a limited duration of life, but a devotee’s lifetime can be extended by the mercy of the Supreme Lord, who is able to nullify the results of one’s karma. A devotee is not under the laws of karma. Therefore even a devotee’s scheduled death can be avoided by the causeless mercy of the Supreme Lord. God protects the devotee even from the extreme danger of death”
This is a clip from the filming of a movie our harinam party participated in on the streets of Paris in 1974. I was 23 years old. In the plot of the movie I get kidnapped and then get the opportunity to preach to my kidnappers I don’t remember the name of the movie, but the blissful impressions of doing samkirtan in those early days remain forever in my heart!
A spark of My Splendor
Last Friday Sunil Mohan das from Durban invited me on a trip up north, close to the border with Mozambique.
“It’s some of the best scenery in all of South Africa,” he said.
“And you’ll see a lot of natural wildlife,” said Swarup Damodar das.
Seeing me hesitate, Swarup Damodar quoted Bhagavad Gita:
yad yad vibhutimat sattvam
srimad urjitam eva va
tat tad evavagaccha tvam
“Know that all opulent, beautiful and glorious creations spring from but a spark of My splendor.” [ Bhagavad Gita, 10.41 ]
“OK,” I said. “I’m convinced.”
As I started to pack my bags Sunil Mohan continued, “We’ll also visit a Zulu village, where, for the most part, they maintain their traditional culture. They live much like their forefathers did hundreds of years ago.”
“Really?” I said.
“Yes” he said. “You can discuss Krsna consciousness with them. I was there before. They told me that originally Zulus were mostly vegetarian. They only ate meat once or twice a year. And their offerings to God, whom they call Unkulunkulu, were strictly vegetarian. Unkulunkula can be translated in several ways, one of which means, ‘He who owns the most cows.’”
“Sounds good.” I said. “We’ll take some of Srila Prabhupada’s books in the Zulu language with us.”
“But one thing before we go,” Swarup Damodar cautioned, “There’s a lot of Malaria and Tick Bite Fever up there. We need to be extra careful. We’ll have to use plenty of insect repellent.”
“And pray hard to Unkulunkula!” I said with a smile as we all walked out the door, bound for the northern territories.
The Varaha-Nrsimha mantra:
visvarupam ajam saumyam
“To the wielder of eight chakras, to the Supreme Lord; to the one who has three eyes; to the fierce form; to Him who has a gigantic universal form; to the unborn; to the one who has a gentle form; to Varaha Narahari, I offer my worship and service.”
[ Sri-pancaratre Bhagavacchastre “Sesa-samhita”. Edited by Laksmipuram Srinivasacarya. Printed in Rajakiya-sakha-mudranalaya, Mysore, 1935. Researched by Sriman Hari Parshad dasa. ]
Those early days were golden days. Srila Prabhupada, this video from the west coast of the USA reminds me so much of your visit to Detroit in 1971. I’m waiting to join you again wherever you are and dance in your kirtan party forever and forever more! Your servant, Indradyumna Swami
Hare Krsna. Here is another gem for us all to relish. This video reveals images from Srila Prabhupada's early years in the West. If anyone who sees this was actually there, or has any memories to add PLEASE do so!
Posted by His Divine Grace Srila AC Bhaktivedanta Swami Srila Prabhupada on Tuesday, February 7, 2017
The Path to Attaining the Mercy of Lord Nityananda
“Nityananda Prabhu approached Jagai and Madhai at the risk of being personally injured and still He definitely delivered them. The world is full of Jagai’s and Madhai’s; namely drunkards, women-hunters, meat eaters, and gamblers, and we will have to approach them at the risk of insult, injury, and similar other rewards. To face such reverse conditions of life and to suffer thereby the results of actions is considered as the greatest penance and austerity in the matter of spiritual advancement of life.”
[ Srila Prabhupada letter, January 27, 1970 ]
Dear Gopinatha Acarya,
Please accept my humble obeisances. All glories to Srila Prabhupada.
It was with great sadness that I learned of your sudden departure the day before yesterday. Though we never served together, we had a number of nice exchanges over the years whenever I would visit Australia and New Govardhana in particular.
In your long career as a devotee, two contributions stand out in my mind. The first is your dedication to book distribution in the early days of the Australian yatra, and the second is your service to Lord Krsna’s cows over many years. In these two valuable services you acted as a proper brahmana: you distributed transcendental knowledge and you gave great pleasure to the Lord by protecting and maintaining his dear-most cows. Through such service you exemplified what is most dear to the Lord as explained in the following verse from the Visnu Purana:
govindaya namo namah
“My Lord, You are the well-wisher of the cows and the brahmanas, and You are the benefactor of the entire human society.” ( Visnu Purana 1.19.65 )
In this connection, Srila Prabhupada writes:
“Without protection of cows, brahminical culture cannot be maintained, and without brahminical culture the aim of life cannot be fulfilled.”
[ Srimad-Bhagavatam 8.24.5 Purport ]
Thank you for being the perfect example of fulfilling this purport written by our spiritual master.
As a vaisnava, you illuminated this world of darkness by sharing transcendental knowledge and rendering service to the sacred cow. Thus, unbeknownst to most people, the world became a little darker the day before yesterday because the light of your seva was extinguished.
But our loss was others’ gain, for upon your demise you were no doubt greeted by joyful devotees eager to have your association on your next assignment in service to our beloved lord and master, Srila Prabhupada, be it in this world or the world of transcendence. Either way, you are blessed. When our godbrother Visnujana Maharaja passed away early in his devotional life, HH Tamal Krsna Goswami asked Srila Prabhupada where he was and how he was doing. Srila Prabhupada sat back and smiled. “Don’t worry,” he said, “he is doing very nicely.”
The many devotees who loved and appreciated you may lament they didn’t have the opportunity to be with you at the time of your death. Leaving this body is never easy and can be a great challenge. But as devotees we have no need to worry. Once Ramanujacarya asked the famous Ranganatha deity, “My Lord, what happens if Your devotee cannot remember You at the moment of death?”
Lord Ranganatha replied, “If My devotee cannot remember Me at the moment of death then I shall remember My devotee!”
No doubt the Lord remembered you, surrounded as you were by so many cows. And we will also remember you. You were a pioneer in the history of the Australian yatra. We should remember and discuss your sustained service for many years to come, lest we forget.
Though you are no longer amongst us I know this message will reach you through the transcendental medium of our guru parampara. We wish you well on your path back to the spiritual world. And if you have attained that goal please look down lovingly upon those of us who remain behind. In reality we are the ones to be lamented, for we remain within this world of birth and death, whereas you are now safely on the other shore by the side of Srila Prabhupada, serving him to your heart’s content.
Yesterday we joined the Saturday afternoon harinama party on the Durban beachfront. More often than not, South Africans appreciate how our movement demonstrates social cohesion here. As devotees of African, European, Indian and Oriental descent all chanted and danced together, people waved and even applauded. All glories to Sri Krsna Samkirtan! All glories to Srila Prabhupada!
My dear disciples: Tomorrow [ Friday ] I will have an operation for prostate cancer. The 90-minute procedure has been changed to 8:30 am local time here in Durban, South Africa. If all goes well, I will be released the same day. Do keep me in your prayers!
durgesv atavy-aji mukhadisu prabhu
payan nrsimho sura-yuthaparih
vimuncato yasya mahatta-hasam
diso vinedur nyapatams ca garbhah
“May Lord Nrisimhadeva, who appeared as the enemy of Hiranyakasipu, 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.”
[ Srimad Bhagavatam, 6.8.14 ]
Dear disciples, friends and well-wishers: I would like thank all of you for your sincere and loving prayers. The doctors here in Durban, South Africa say my operation was successful. There was a slight complication, but it’s been fixed. I am now recovering at home. If all goes well, I’ll be back on the road in the middle of March!
Today is the disappearance day anniversary of Tamal Krishna Goswami. He was a great general in Srila Prabhupada’s pioneer efforts to spread Krsna consciousness in various parts of the world. I was fortunate that he accepted me as a friend. He, more than anyone else, instilled in me a love for samkirtan. From him, I also imbibed a strong desire to understand the glories of Sri Vrindavan Dhama and one day make that sacred abode my eternal home. I miss you Goswami Maharaja. I look forward to joining you again in service to the sacred command of our beloved lord and master, Srila Prabhupada, to spread the glories of the holy names far and wide.
An enlightening discourse by Giriraj Swami on the disappearance day celebration of Srila Jagannatha dasa babaji.
Today is Srila Jagannatha dasa Babaji Maharaja’s disappearance day. He comes in the Gaudiya Vaishnava disciplic succession after Srila Visvanatha Cakravarti Thakura and Srila Baladeva Vidyabhusana. He was a renounced ascetic, fully engaged in chanting the holy names of Krishna and meditating on His pastimes. For some time, he made his residence at Surya-kunda in Vraja-dhama, near the temple of Suryadeva, where Srimati Radharani used to come and worship the sun-god—or, I should say, where She used to come to meet Krishna on the pretext of coming to worship the sun-god.
Srila Bhaktivinoda Thakura, who comes in the disciplic succession after Jagannatha dasa Babaji, accepted Srila Jagannatha dasa Babaji Maharaja as his main guru, his siksa-guru. Once, some of Jagannatha dasa Babaji’s disciples in Vraja approached the Thakura. They complained that although they had come to Vraja to live like Jagannatha dasa Babaji Maharaja, fully absorbed in chanting the holy names and meditating on Sri Sri Radha-Krishna’s astakaliya-lila, Babaji Maharaja had refused to instruct them in such esoteric topics and had instead engaged them in cultivating tulasi plants, flowers, and vegetables to offer to the Lord. So these disciples requested Bhaktivinoda Thakura to appeal to their guru maharaja to instruct them in the esoteric practices of Krishna consciousness.
Srila Bhaktivinoda Thakura told them, “Actually, your gurudeva’s instructions are right for you. Because you still have anarthas, for you to try to sit and do nirjana-bhajana [solitary worship] and practice asta-kaliya-lila-smarana [meditation on the Lord’s eightfold daily pastimes] would be artificial, and you would just become degraded. So you should follow your gurudeva’s instructions with full faith and work hard in Krishna’s service. Then, in time, you may be able to chant the holy names purely.”
Eventually, Jagannatha dasa Babaji Maharaja moved to Mayapur, where he lived by the banks of the Ganges, fully absorbed in chanting the holy names. He had the greatest reverence for the holy land of Navadvipa. Although he was so renounced and so absorbed in Krishna consciousness, as his reputation spread, gentlemen would come to him and give him donations. Once, Babaji Maharaja asked one of his servants to take the donations he had received, which he kept in an old burlap bag, and purchase a large pot of rasagullas. All the devotees were surprised, because Jagannatha dasa Babaji was so renounced and lived so simply. He would eat just the most simple rice and dal. Anyway, the servant brought the sweets, and Jagannatha dasa Babaji offered them to his Deities and then distributed them to the cows and dogs in the dhama. He said the creatures of the dhama were elevated souls and worthy of service.
Later, Babaji Maharaja would not accept prasada until he had shared his food with ten newborn puppies. He would wait until they came, and he would count them with his hands. (In his old age, Babaji Maharaja’s eyelids drooped over his eyes and prevented him from seeing.) So, he would count them with his hands, and only after they had begun to eat would he also partake. He would say, “They are puppies of the dhama. They are not ordinary living entities.” He had so much faith in and affection for the dhama.
He had less affection for Mayavadi impersonalists. He used to say, “Let the dogs come in for darsana, but the impersonalists—kick them out!”
Srila Jagannatha dasa Babaji lived to a very old age. In fact, some Vaishnavas say he was just waiting for Srila Bhaktivinoda Thakura to come—someone to whom he could impart his special knowledge and realization, for the benefit of humanity. Srila Bhaktivinoda Thakura had requested to be transferred from his post in Orissa to Bengal so he could be near Navadvipa-dhama. And eventually, he was posted at Krishnanagar, near Navadvipa.
Srila Bhaktivinoda Thakura did extensive research to determine the actual birthplace of Sri Chaitanya Mahaprabhu. He studied various old maps, consulted the local people, and visited the different places. Eventually he found a mound where many tulasi trees were growing. He got the intuition that this was the actual birthplace of Lord Chaitanya, but still he wanted his intuition to be confirmed. At the time, Jagannatha dasa Babaji was the most renowned Vaishnava, and he was Srila Bhaktivinoda Thakura’s siksa-guru. Thus, Jagannatha dasa Babaji’s disciples carried him to the place with the mound and tulasi plants. He was so old (over a hundred and forty years old, some say) that his disciples had to carry him in a basket. And his eyelids were so heavy that he had to open them with his hands to be able to see. So, the disciples brought him, but they didn’t tell him that it was the site Bhaktivinoda Thakura had determined to be the birthplace. Still, when Babaji Maharaja arrived there, he spontaneously jumped out of his basket and began to dance in ecstasy, singing the holy names. Thus he confirmed the location of Mahaprabhu’s birthplace.
Srila Jagannatha dasa Babaji’s bhajana-kutira and samadhi are there in Navadvipa-dhama, in Koladvipa. Devotees who perform Navadvipa-parikrama visit there and get his mercy. We also pray to him for his mercy, that we may be instrumental in fulfilling the desires of Srila Bhaktivinoda Thakura, Srila Gaurakisora dasa Babaji Maharaja, Srila Bhaktisiddhanta Sarasvati Thakura, and the other acaryas in the line of Sri Chaitanya Mahaprabhu coming to us through Srila Prabhupada and his disciples.
Srila Jagannatha dasa Babaji Maharaja ki jaya!
Srila Prabhpada ki jaya!
[A talk by Giriraj Swami on Jagannatha dasa Babaji’s disappearance day, February 20, 2004, Carpinteria, California]