Sep 212023

For the most auspicious celebration of Sri Radhastami, we read from Srimad-Bhagavatam, Canto Two, Chapter Three: “Pure Devotional Service.”



jivan chavo bhagavatanghri-renum
  na jatu martyo ’bhilabheta yas tu
sri-visnu-padya manujas tulasyah
  svasan chavo yas tu na veda gandham


The person who has not at any time received the dust of the feet of the Lord’s pure devotee upon his head is certainly a dead body. And the person who has never experienced the aroma of the tulasi leaves from the lotus feet of the Lord is also a dead body, although breathing.

PURPORT by Srila Prabhupada

According to Srila Visvanatha Cakravarti Thakura, the breathing dead body is a ghost. When a man dies, he is called dead, but when he again appears in a subtle form not visible to our present vision and yet acts, such a dead body is called a ghost. Ghosts are always very bad elements, always creating a fearful situation for others. Similarly, the ghostlike nondevotees who have no respect for the pure devotees, nor for the Visnu Deity in the temples, create a fearful situation for the devotees at all times. The Lord never accepts any offerings by such impure ghosts. There is a common saying that one should first love the dog of the beloved before one shows any loving sentiments for the beloved. The stage of pure devotion is attained by sincerely serving a pure devotee of the Lord. The first condition of devotional service to the Lord is therefore to be a servant of a pure devotee, and this condition is fulfilled by the statement “reception of the dust of the lotus feet of a pure devotee who has also served another pure devotee.” That is the way of pure disciplic succession, or devotional parampara.

Maharaja Rahugana inquired from the great saint Jada Bharata as to how he had attained such a liberated stage of a paramahamsa, and in answer the great saint replied as follows (Srimad-Bhagavatam 5.12.12):

rahuganaitat tapasa na yati
  na cejyaya nirvapanad grhad va
na cchandasa naiva jalagni-suryair
  vina mahat-pada-rajo-’bhisekam

“O King Rahugana, the perfectional stage of devotional service, or the paramahamsa stage of life, cannot be attained unless one is blessed by the dust of the feet of great devotees. It is never attained by tapasya (austerity), the Vedic worshiping process, acceptance of the renounced order of life, the discharge of the duties of household life, the chanting of the Vedic hymns, or the performance of penances in the hot sun, within cold water, or before the blazing fire.”

In other words, Lord Sri Krsna is the property of His pure unconditional devotees, and as such only the devotees can deliver Krsna to another devotee; Krsna is never obtainable directly. Lord Chaitanya therefore designated Himself as gopi-bhartuh pada-kamalayor dasa-dasanudasah (Cc Madhya 13.80), or “the most obedient servant of the servants of the Lord, who maintains the gopi damsels at Vrndavana.” A pure devotee therefore never approaches the Lord directly, but tries to please the servant of the Lord’s servants, and thus the Lord becomes pleased, and only then can the devotee relish the taste of the tulasi leaves stuck to His lotus feet. In the Brahma-samhita it is said that the Lord is never to be found by becoming a great scholar of the Vedic literatures, but He is very easily approachable through His pure devotee. In Vrndavana all the pure devotees pray for the mercy of Srimati Radharani, the pleasure potency of Lord Krsna. Srimati Radharani is a tenderhearted feminine counterpart of the supreme whole, resembling the perfectional stage of the worldly feminine nature. Therefore, the mercy of Radharani is available very readily to the sincere devotees, and once She recommends such a devotee to Lord Krsna, the Lord at once accepts the devotee’s admittance into His association. The conclusion is, therefore, that one should be more serious about seeking the mercy of the devotee than that of the Lord directly, and by one’s doing so (by the good will of the devotee) the natural attraction for the service of the Lord will be revived.

COMMENT by Giriraj Swami

This verse and purport are so deep. Practically the whole philosophy of Krishna consciousness is contained in this purport, and one could discuss it for many hours and days. Still, we shall try to say something within the time available to us. Continue reading »

Sep 102023

My Story and Ode to Srila Prabhupada

Born into dense illusion, one of countless conditioned souls;
doomed to endless births and deaths while playing different roles.

My life a hell that made no sense, trying drugs I took my chances;
searching faces on streets and buses, hoping to find someone with answers.

Religion as I knew it seemed a total farce,
and the diet of dead animals weighed heavy on my heart.

So, trapped, I studied different books, became an avid reader:
Leary, Huxley, Buddhism, a short little Bhagavad-gita.

Though small and insignificant, I searched for knowledge true.
If there was a kindly God, I begged for but a clue.

The summer of ’69 found my younger brother and me in Boston.
Along with other seekers, we’d go to Harvard Square quite often.

One special day before us danced a group in orange bed sheets.
Intrigued, we watched, chanted along, and were given some “simply wonderful” little round white sweets!

Who were these people? What’d they find? What did their mantra mean?
Swarup and Manmohini soon became two new additions to Prabhupada’s spiritual team!

Now the how and why this Prabhupada came is quite a blessed miracle.
He melted hearts and changed the lives of even us very cynical.

He understood our sorry plight with Godless lives so vacant,
and pure devotees of his kind can never be complacent.

And so he came from far abroad and risked his life to save us.
He taught us how to speak, eat, dance, and even renamed us!

He cut through our illusions using knowledge like a sword,
explaining that as spirit souls we’re meant to love and serve the Lord!

Embodiment of compassion and of the purest selfless love,
it seemed his every movement was choreographed from above!

All moves had grace and purpose, never wasting precious time,
engaging every single soul in Lord Chaitanya’s line.

The Prabhupada cookies, Prabhupada medicine, Prabhupada hat and two step were all so charming and unique.
And those cookies that he handed out were sweetest of the sweet!

For twelve amazing years he walked and talked and lived right in our midst.
Who could have ever fathomed a benediction such as this?!

All desperate searches ended as our lives began anew.
Our love for him propelled us to do things we’d never before do.

With his beaming smile in class one day Brahmananda said some humorous facts.
He proudly said that in the beginning we were like Prabhupada’s guinea pigs, or better still, laboratory rats!

Soon told to wed the temple cook, someone I didn’t favor,
I’d share the glory of opening new temples and so I didn’t waver.

Right afterwards, I called my mom to tell her I was now a married woman.
When asked his “real” name, I said, “Hold on—I have to find and ask him.”

“You married him,” she shouted, “and you don’t even know his name?
This time you’ve really done it. You’ve gone totally insane!”

Irate, she slammed the phone down hard (an act that wasn’t new),
but actually this time I kind of saw her point of view.

There was no doubt about it: crazy was the truth.
Crazy to please my glorious master, crazy with gratitude.

Crazy with happiness to understand all facets of this life,
to have and to hold the holy names, which counteract all strife.

Thrilled to play an active role in Prabhupada’s great mission,
armed with his books that reveal all that is real, far beyond our limited vision!

So, yeah, I’d dance in the streets wearing sheets and marry a guy I didn’t know!
It’s the least I could do for my beloved guru, for this Prabhupada we all loved so.

I’ll proudly state for the record, my fervent plea is that
I again obtain the rare boon, though spoken in jest, to be among those compared to a Prabhupada Guinea pig or a laboratory rat.

Thank you, Srila Prabhupada. Thank you, thank you, thank you.

All glories to you, Srila Prabhupada!

Manmohini dasi

Sep 072023

My dear Srila Prabhupada,

Please accept my prostrated obeisances at your divine lotus feet. All glories to Your Divine Grace and to your unparalleled service and mercy.

When I joined the Boston temple in 1969, Satsvarupa dasa was the temple president and also the editor of BTG, and he always wanted articles for the magazine. So I wrote one, entitled “The Genuine Spiritual Master,” and by the time the issue with my article reached you, in February of 1971, I was with you in Gorakhpur, India.

After reading my article, you called for me. The temple room was dimly lit—only some narrow shafts of light pierced through the slim openings in the wooden shutters along the side. Sitting alone on your raised cushion at the far end, you were the very image of the eternal spiritual master, and your voice resonated with the truth of eternal time. I sat at your feet, eyes and ears wide open.

“I saw your article in Back to Godhead,” you said. “It was very nice. You should write. This is your first business. Go on writing. We require many, many such articles about Krishna consciousness. So you should devote yourself to writing.”

“I will try,” I said. “But why are you asking me? I have no special qualification.”

“We require many to do this work, and we need you also. So, you travel with me and I will guide you. You come and stay with me.”

I felt thrilled and honored. You had never before given me a direct instruction. In fact, we had hardly ever spoken, and now you were inviting me to stay with you. I felt a little intimidated and wondered how it would work. Also, I had always worked under my authorities. Who would tell them about your proposal? So, I asked, “How will we decide whether I should travel with you or what I should do?”

You replied, “By mutual consultation.” And you instructed me, “See that my books are accepted in the universities, by the scholarly class.” Then you asked if I ever thought of getting married.

“No,” I said. “I never think of getting married.” And after a moment I added, “The only time I ever thought of getting married was when I saw that all the GBCs were married.”

“You will never be GBC,” you said. And you continued, “It is best to avoid marriage. Sex desire is like an itch. If you have an itch and you scratch it, it just becomes worse. Similarly, sex desire is there, and if you try to satisfy it, it becomes worse. So it is better to tolerate. Not only sex desire—all the demands of the senses—eating and sleeping also. Better to tolerate. So, you remain brahmachariand after two or three years I will give you sannyasa.

In a matter of twenty minutes, you had given me my whole life’s program in Krishna consciousness. Continue reading »

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