Oct 182021
 

We welcome you to this most auspicious place, the temple of Sri Sri Radha-Radhanath, on the most auspicious occasion of the beginning of Kartik, in the most auspicious association of Lord Krishna’s devotees. Kartik is also known as the month of Damodara (dama means “ropes,” and udara means “abdomen”), or Krishna who allowed Himself to be bound about the waist by the ropes of His devotee’s love.

Srila Rupa Gosvami compiled the law book of Krishna consciousness, the science of devotion, as the Bhakti-rasamrta-sindhu, translated by Srila Prabhupada in a summary study as The Nectar of Devotion. There the observance of Kartik is mentioned as one of the sixty-four items of devotional service. Rupa Gosvami quotes from the Padma Purana that just as Lord Damodara is favorably inclined toward His devotees, so the month of Kartik, which is also dear to Him, bestows great favor upon His devotees, even for a little service or a little practice. It is even said that the benefit gained for service performed in the last five days of Kartik is equal to that gained from service performed for the entire month. In other words, for a very small performance of devotional service in the month of Damodara, one gets a very big result—especially in Vrindavan. Also, Srila Prabhupada has explained that wherever the Deities of Radha and Krishna are installed, that is also Vrindavan. So even here our devotional service will be magnified “one thousand times.”

Srila Prabhupada gave the example of a store holding a sale, when a customer can get a valuable item by paying a small amount. So, the month of Kartik is like a sale, a transcendental sale. By a little investment in terms of spiritual practice and service, you can get a great benefit. Of course, the management of the store hopes that you will come to appreciate its goods and patronize the store even after the sale is over. And we too hope that you will continue with your spiritual practices, or increased practices, even after the month of Kartik.

There is a special potency to the month itself. Just as certain times of the day, such as the brahma-muhurta, which begins one hour and thirty-two minutes before sunrise and continues until the sun rises, are more auspicious for spiritual progress and enhance the value of one’s practices, so too, within the year, the month of Kartik is most auspicious. Devotees try to take advantage of the facility offered by Kartik by on the one side increasing their spiritual practices and doing extra service—they chant more rounds, read more scripture, recite more prayers, distribute more books, and make special offerings—and on the other side decreasing their material involvement, their sense gratification. As it is, we are in the four-month period of Chaturmasya, so every month we forgo a certain type of food, but in Kartik devotees may do extra austerities. They may eat only once a day, or give up sweet or fried foods, or rise earlier than usual, or whatever—work on some area of their spiritual life that they want to improve—and they get special mercy in the month of Kartik to fulfill their vows and improve their spiritual practices. Continue reading »

Oct 162021
 

Today is the auspicious disappearance day of three great acharyas in the Gaudiya-Vaishnava sampradaya: Srila Raghunatha dasa Gosvami, Srila Raghunatha Bhatta Gosvami, and Srila Krishnadasa Kaviraja Gosvami. We shall read about Srila Raghunatha Bhatta Gosvami from Srila Krishnadasa Kaviraja’s Sri Caitanya-caritamrta.

Sri Caitanya-caritamrta, Antya-lila, Chapter Thirteen: “Pastimes with Jagadananda Pandita and Raghunatha Bhatta.”

TEXT 89

etha tapana-misra-putra raghunatha-bhattacarya
prabhure dekhite calila chadi’ sarva karya

TRANSLATION

During this time, Raghunatha Bhattacarya, the son of Tapana Misra, gave up all his duties and left home, intending to meet Sri Caitanya Mahaprabhu.

TEXT 90

kasi haite calila tenho gauda-patha diya
sange sevaka cale tanra jhali vahiya

TRANSLATION

Accompanied by a servant carrying his baggage, Raghunatha Bhatta started from Varanasi and traveled along the path leading through Bengal.

TEXT 91

pathe tare milila visvasa-ramadasa
visvasa-khanara kayastha tenho rajara visvasa

TRANSLATION

In Bengal he met Ramadasa Visvasa, who belonged to the kayastha caste. He was one of the king’s secretaries.

PURPORT by Srila Prabhupada

The words visvasa-khanara kayastha indicate a secretary or clerk belonging to the kayastha caste. Kayasthas were usually secretaries to kings, governors, or other important persons. It is said that anyone working in the government secretariat at this time was a kayastha.

TEXT 92

sarva-sastre pravina, kavya-prakasa-adhyapaka
parama-vaisnava, raghunatha-upasaka

TRANSLATION

Ramadasa Visvasa was very learned in all the revealed scriptures. He was a teacher of the famous book Kavya-prakasa and was known as an advanced devotee and worshiper of Raghunatha [Lord Ramacandra].

PURPORT

Commenting on the word parama-vaisnava, Srila Bhaktivinoda Thakura says that anyone who desires to merge into the existence of the Lord cannot be a pure Vaisnava, but because Ramadasa Visvasa was a great devotee of Lord Ramacandra, he was almost a Vaisnava. In those days, no one could distinguish between a pure Vaisnava and a pseudo Vaisnava. Therefore Ramadasa Visvasa was known as a Vaisnava because he worshiped Lord Ramacandra.

TEXT 93

asta-prahara rama-namajapena ratri-dine
sarva tyaji’ calila jagannatha-darasane

TRANSLATION

Ramadasa had renounced everything and was going to see Lord Jagannatha. While traveling, he chanted the holy name of Lord Rama twenty-four hours a day.

TEXTS 94–102

When he met Raghunatha Bhatta on the way, he took Raghunatha’s baggage on his head and carried it.

Ramadasa served Raghunatha Bhatta in various ways, even massaging his legs. Raghunatha Bhatta felt some hesitation in accepting all this service.

“You are a respectable gentleman, a learned scholar, and a great devotee,” Raghunatha Bhatta said. “Please do not try to serve me. Just come with me in a happy mood.”

Ramadasa replied, “I am a sudra, a fallen soul. To serve a brahmana is my duty and religious principle.

“Therefore please do not be hesitant. I am your servant, and when I serve you my heart becomes jubilant.”

Thus Ramadasa carried the baggage of Raghunatha Bhatta and served him sincerely. He constantly chanted the holy name of Lord Ramacandra day and night.

Traveling in this way, Raghunatha Bhatta soon arrived at Jagannatha Puri. There he met Sri Caitanya Mahaprabhu with great delight and fell at His lotus feet.

Raghunatha Bhatta fell straight as a rod at the lotus feet of Sri Caitanya Mahaprabhu. Then the Lord embraced him, knowing well who he was.

Raghunatha offered respectful obeisances to Sri Caitanya Mahaprabhu on behalf of Tapana Misra and Candrasekhara, and the Lord also inquired about them.

TEXT 103

“bhala ha-ila aila, dekha ‘kamala-locana’
aji amara etha kariba prasada bhojana”

TRANSLATION

“It is very good that you have come here,” the Lord said. “Now go see the lotus-eyed Lord Jagannatha. Today you will accept prasada here at My place.”

TEXTS 104–111

The Lord asked Govinda to arrange for Raghunatha Bhatta’s accommodations and then introduced him to all the devotees, headed by Svarupa Damodara Gosvami.

Thus Raghunatha Bhatta lived with Sri Caitanya Mahaprabhu continuously for eight months, and by the Lord’s mercy he felt increased transcendental happiness every day.

He would periodically cook rice with various vegetables and invite Sri Caitanya Mahaprabhu to his home.

Raghunatha Bhatta was an expert cook. Whatever he prepared tasted just like nectar.

Sri Caitanya Mahaprabhu would accept with great satisfaction all the food he prepared. After the Lord was satisfied, Raghunatha Bhatta would eat His remnants.

When Ramadasa Visvasa met Sri Caitanya Mahaprabhu, the Lord did not show him any special mercy, although this was their first meeting.

Within his heart, Ramadasa Visvasa was an impersonalist who desired to merge into the existence of the Lord, and he was very proud of his learning. Since Sri Caitanya Mahaprabhu is the omniscient Supreme Personality of Godhead, He can understand the heart of everyone, and thus He knew all these things.

Ramadasa Visvasa then took up residence in Jagannatha Puri and taught the Kavya-prakasa to the Pattanayaka family [the descendants of Bhavananda Raya].

TEXT 112

asta-masa rahi’ prabhu bhatte vidaya dila
“vivaha na kariha” bali’ nisedha karila

TRANSLATION

After eight months, when Sri Caitanya Mahaprabhu bade farewell to Raghunatha Bhatta, the Lord flatly forbade him to marry. “Do not marry,” the Lord said.

PURPORT

Raghunatha Bhattacarya had become a greatly advanced devotee while still unmarried. Sri Caitanya Mahaprabhu could see this, and therefore He advised him not to begin the process of material sense gratification. Marriage is a concession for people who are unable to control their senses. Raghunatha, however, being an advanced devotee of Krsna, naturally had no desire for sense gratification. Therefore Sri Caitanya Mahaprabhu advised him not to enter the bondage of marriage. Generally a person cannot make much advancement in spiritual consciousness if he is married. He becomes attached to his family and is prone to sense gratification. Thus his spiritual advancement is very slow or almost nil.

COMMENT by Giriraj Swami

I once had the good fortune to receive a similar instruction from Srila Prabhupada. We were in Gorakhpur, and Prabhupada had received the latest issue of Back to Godhead, with an article I had written in Boston before I went to India—“The Genuine Spiritual Master.” He was pleased with the article and asked to see me. I was still quite young in Krishna consciousness, and Srila Prabhupada didn’t generally call for me. He said, “I have read your article, and it was very nice. You should write.” And he invited me to travel with him so he could train me how to write. Then he asked, “Do you ever think of getting married?” I said no. “Better to remain brahmachari,” he said, “and after some time I will give you sannyasa.” He said that the demands of the senses are like itches and that if you scratch the itches, the itching will get worse. It is better to tolerate the itches, and if you tolerate, gradually the itching will subside. The demands for eating and sleeping too—all of them—if we indulge them, they become aggravated. But if we tolerate them, they gradually subside. Continue reading »

Oct 142021
 

We read from Srimad-Bhagavatam, Canto Nine, Chapter Ten: “The Pastimes of the Supreme Lord, Ramacandra.

TEXT 20

te ’nikapa raghupater abhipatya sarve
  dvandvam varutham ibha-patti-rathasva-yodhaih
jaghnur drumair giri-gadesubhir angadadyah
  sitabhimarsa-hata-mangala-ravanesan

TRANSLATION

Angada and the other commanders of the soldiers of Ramacandra faced the elephants, infantry, horses, and chariots of the enemy and hurled against them big trees, mountain peaks, clubs, and arrows. Thus the soldiers of Lord Ramacandra killed Ravana’s soldiers, who had lost all good fortune because Ravana had been condemned by the anger of Mother Sita.

PURPORT by Srila Prabhupada

The soldiers Lord Ramacandra recruited in the jungle were all monkeys and did not have proper equipment with which to fight the soldiers of Ravana, for Ravana’s soldiers were equipped with weapons of modern warfare whereas the monkeys could only throw stones, mountain peaks, and trees. It was only Lord Ramacandra and Laksmana who shot some arrows. But because the soldiers of Ravana were condemned by the curse of Mother Sita, the monkeys were able to kill them simply by throwing stones and trees. There are two kinds of strength—daiva and purusakara. Daiva refers to the strength achieved from the Transcendence, and purusakara refers to the strength organized by one’s own intelligence and power. Transcendental power is always superior to the power of the materialist. Depending on the mercy of the Supreme Lord, one must fight one’s enemies even though one may not be equipped with modern weapons. Therefore Krsna instructed Arjuna, mam anusmara yudhya ca: “Think of Me and fight.” We should fight our enemy to the best of our ability, but for victory we must depend on the mercy of the Supreme Personality of Godhead.

COMMENT by Giriraj Swami

Coming to Bhaktivedanta Manor, I was reminded of the struggle we faced here to keep the temple open to the public and to preach Krishna consciousness. Although in such battles the enemies sometimes appear to have the upper hand, in the end, as long as we remain faithful to and dependent on the Lord and at the same time make our best effort with all sincerity and intelligence, we will be successful according to His will.

We had a similar struggle in Juhu, Bombay. In fact, in Juhu we were even less equipped than were the devotees here, who had already established the mission quite solidly and had many friends—a large congregation and friends in influential positions. Still, it was a great struggle here.

In Juhu we were comparable to the band of monkeys that joined Lord Ramachandra. Srila Prabhupada himself drew parallels between himself and Lord Ramachandra, and between us and the monkeys. He compared the Western countries to Ravana, because they had so much wealth, just like Ravana in his opulent kingdom of Lanka. And wealth is Lakshmi—a manifestation of Lakshmi, or Sita. So, Srila Prabhupada said that just as Ravana had kidnapped Sita, the Western countries had kidnapped, or taken possession of, so much wealth. And just as Lord Ramachandra had crossed the ocean to redeem Sita, so Srila Prabhupada had also crossed the ocean. And just as Lord Ramachandra was assisted by so many monkeys, Srila Prabhupada was assisted by us. Continue reading »

Oct 112021
 

Srila Prabhupada’s disciple Tejiyas das sent me this remembrance, and I thought to share it with you.

During Srila Prabhupada’s visit to the Hyderabad farm, there was a lot of tension created by one devotee, as he was so politically minded that he could see me and Hamsaduta only as enemies (his mindset was “enemy or friend”).

Srila Prabhupada tried to mediate, sometimes roughing me up with words such as “Do not be bureaucratic,” and even instructing me to “go out in back and fight it out with the devotee and finish this.”

Hamsaduta was unhelpful—unknown to me, drunk on a liter a day of 45 percent alcohol Ayurvedic Sarivadi Salsa.

Somehow, one day we all went to Srila Prabhupada’s room at the same moment, and despite our differences, we just sat in front of him, as we were all astounded by what we were witnessing: The sun was shining through the window, painting Srila Prabhupada with golden-white rays. His eyes were firmly closed but without strain or tightness. He sat upright on his cushion behind his desk, between the side cushions and the backrest. He had his right hand in his bead bag, and we could see how he was attentively fingering his beads and they were clacking as he rubbed them between his fingers. You could see the movement of the beads under the cloth of the bag. His face was serene, but by every indication he was fixed on hearing the holy names. As he chanted Hare Krishna, Hare Krishna, Krishna Krishna, Hare Hare, his tongue rolled in his mouth, and his lips were almost rolling in a circle, too. It appeared that he was tasting something, chewing it gently. His chanting was distinctly audible, his words articulate and clear, and he stressed them as he spoke each syllable. His head was swinging slightly left and right with a subtle up-and-down motion. Simultaneously, all three of us dove our hands into our bead bags and joined His Divine Grace in japa. You could sense that we were momentarily united and transcendent to our differences. We watched him with open eyes, delighting in this rare vision. After some time, Srila Prabhupada opened his eyes for a moment and without moving looked at all of us at the same time and said, “Go on chanting and all your problems will be solved.”