Damodar das

Aug 312021
 

How Shall I Take Shelter of One More Merciful Than You?

My dear Srila Prabhupada,

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

Srimad-Bhagavatam, Canto Three, Chapter Two, verse 23 is very significant. Not only is the verse beautiful, but it also has historical significance, because when after sixteen years Sukadeva Gosvami came out of the womb, he left home immediately, and his father, Srila Vyasadeva, followed him into the forest. And when Vyasadeva came close enough to his son for Sukadeva to hear, he recited two verses from Srimad-Bhagavatam, one describing Krishna’s beauty, from the Tenth Canto, and one—this verse—describing Krishna’s mercy.

When Sukadeva Gosvami heard these two verses—the one describing Krishna’s mercy and the one describing Krishna’s beauty—he became attracted. Although liberated, he became attracted by Krishna’s transcendental qualities, and he came back to hear Srimad-Bhagavatam from his father.

I quote this verse today because it reminds me of you—how shall I take shelter of one more merciful than you?

aho baki yam stana-kala-kutam
  jighamsayapayayad apy asadhvi
lebhe gatim dhatry-ucitam tato ’nyam
  kam va dayalum saranam vrajema

 TRANSLATION

Alas, how shall I take shelter of one more merciful than Him [Lord Krishna] who granted the position of mother to the she-demon Putana although she was faithless and had prepared deadly poison to be sucked from her breast?

PURPORT

Here is an example of the extreme mercy of the Lord, even to His enemy. It is said that a noble man accepts the good qualities of a person of doubtful character, just as one accepts nectar from a stock of poison. In His babyhood, the Lord was administered deadly poison by Putana, a she-demon who tried to kill the wonderful baby. And because she was a demon, it was impossible for her to know that the Supreme Lord, even though playing the part of a baby, was no one less than the Supreme Personality of Godhead. His value as the Supreme Lord did not diminish upon His becoming a baby to please His devotee Yasoda. The Lord may assume the form of a baby or a shape other than that of a human being, but it doesn’t make the slightest difference: He is always the same Supreme. A living creature, however powerful he may become by dint of severe penance, can never become equal to the Supreme Lord.

Lord Krsna accepted the motherhood of Putana because she pretended to be an affectionate mother, allowing Krsna to suck her breast. The Lord accepts the least qualification of the living entity and awards him the highest reward. That is the standard of His character. Therefore, who but the Lord can be the ultimate shelter?

[End of purport.]

The Lord is absolute. He is all good for everyone, and He is neutral toward everyone. He is always thinking of how to do good for others. So even if one approaches Him as an enemy, He will try to do good for the person, as in the case of Putana. Although she came to kill Krishna by administering poison from her breast, He elevated her to the position of a nurse, like a mother, in the spiritual world. And merciful as He is, you are even more merciful. Continue reading »

Aug 292021
 

We read from Srimad-Bhagavatam, Canto Ten, Chapter Two: “Prayers by the Demigods for Lord Krsna in the Womb.”

TEXT 18

tato jagan-mangalam acyutamsam
  samahitam sura-sutena devi
dadhara sarvatmakam atma-bhutam
  kastha yathananda-karam manastah

SYNONYMS

tatah—thereafter; jagat-mangalam—auspiciousness for all living entities in all the universes of the creation; acyuta-amsam—the Supreme Personality of Godhead, who is never bereft of the six opulences, all of which are present in all His plenary expansions; samahitam—fully transferred; sura-sutena—by Vasudeva, the son of Surasena; devi—Devaki-devi; dadhara—carried; sarva-atmakam—the Supreme Soul of everyone; atma-bhutam—the cause of all causes; kastha—the east; yatha—just as; ananda-karam—the blissful (moon); manastah—being placed within the mind.

TRANSLATION

Thereafter, accompanied by plenary expansions, the fully opulent Supreme Personality of Godhead, who is all-auspicious for the entire universe, was transferred from the mind of Vasudeva to the mind of Devaki. Devaki, having thus been initiated by Vasudeva, became beautiful by carrying Lord Krsna, the original consciousness for everyone, the cause of all causes, within the core of her heart, just as the east becomes beautiful by carrying the rising moon.

PURPORT by Srila Prabhupada

As indicated here by the word manastah, the Supreme Personality of Godhead was transferred from the core of Vasudeva’s mind or heart to the core of the heart of Devaki. We should note carefully that the Lord was transferred to Devaki not by the ordinary way for a human being, but by diksa, initiation. Thus the importance of initiation is mentioned here. Unless one is initiated by the right person, who always carries within his heart the Supreme Personality of Godhead, one cannot acquire the power to carry the Supreme Godhead within the core of one’s own heart.

The word acyutamsam is used because the Supreme Personality of Godhead is sad-aisvarya-purna, full in the opulences of wealth, strength, fame, knowledge, beauty, and renunciation. The Supreme Godhead is never separated from His personal opulences. As stated in the Brahma-samhita (5.39), ramadi-murtisu kala-niyamena tisthan: the Lord is always situated with all His plenary expansions, such as Rama, Nrsimha, and Varaha. Therefore the word acyutamsam is specifically used here, signifying that the Lord is always present with His plenary expansions and opulences. There is no need to think of the Lord artificially as yogis do. Dhyanavasthita-tad-gatena manasa pasyanti yam yoginah (Srimad-Bhagavatam 12.13.1). Yogis meditate upon the Supreme Person within the mind. For a devotee, however, the Lord is present, and His presence need only be awakened through initiation by a bona fide spiritual master. The Lord did not need to live within the womb of Devaki, for His presence within the core of her heart was sufficient to carry Him. One is here forbidden to think that Krsna was begotten by Vasudeva within the womb of Devaki and that she carried the child within her womb.

When Vasudeva was sustaining the form of the Supreme Personality of Godhead within his heart, he appeared just like the glowing sun, whose shining rays are always unbearable and scorching to the common man. The form of the Lord situated in the pure, unalloyed heart of Vasudeva is not different from the original form of Krsna. The appearance of the form of Krsna anywhere, and specifically within the heart, is called dhama. Dhama refers not only to Krsna’s form, but to His name, His form, His quality, and His paraphernalia. Everything becomes manifest simultaneously.

Thus the eternal form of the Supreme Personality of Godhead with full potencies was transferred from the mind of Vasudeva to the mind of Devaki, exactly as the setting sun’s rays are transferred to the full moon rising in the east.

Krsna, the Supreme Personality of Godhead, entered the body of Devaki from the body of Vasudeva. He was beyond the conditions of the ordinary living entity. When Krsna is there, it is to be understood that all His plenary expansions, such as Narayana, and incarnations like Lord Nrsimha and Varaha, are with Him, and they are not subject to the conditions of material existence. In this way, Devaki became the residence of the Supreme Personality of Godhead, who is one without a second and the cause of all creation. Devaki became the residence of the Absolute Truth, but because she was within the house of Kamsa, she looked just like a suppressed fire, or like misused education. When fire is covered by the walls of a pot or is kept in a jug, the illuminating rays of the fire cannot be very much appreciated. Similarly, misused knowledge, which does not benefit the people in general, is not very much appreciated. So Devaki was kept within the prison walls of Kamsa’s palace, and no one could see her transcendental beauty, which resulted from her conceiving the Supreme Personality of Godhead.

Commenting upon this verse, Sri Viraraghava Acarya writes, vasudeva-devaki jatharayor hrdayayor bhagavatah sambandhah. The Supreme Lord’s entrance into the womb of Devaki from the heart of Vasudeva was a heart-to-heart relationship.

COMMENT by Giriraj Swami

We have gathered here at the lotus feet of Lord Krishna to remember and celebrate His appearance in this world. According to Vedic literature, Krishna is the Supreme Personality of Godhead (krsnas tu bhagavan svayam). He is the Absolute Truth, the origin of all that exists. And He is realized in three features, nondual (advaya), as explained in Srimad-Bhagavatam (1.2.11):

vadanti tat tattva-vidas
  tattvam yaj jnanam advayam
brahmeti paramatmeti
  bhagavan iti sabdyate

“Learned transcendentalists who know the Absolute Truth call this nondual substance Brahman, Paramatma, or Bhagavan.” Continue reading »

I’ll Build You a Temple: The Juhu Story — Book Launch

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Jan 102021
 

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Book Release: I’ll Build You a Temple: The Juhu Story

In August 1965, a few weeks before Srila Prabhupada left for America, on his way to see Srimati Sumati Morarji, the shipping magnate who secured him passage to the US, he passed a neglected four-acre plot of land near her residence on Juhu Beach, outside Bombay, and thought it would be a nice location for a Radha-Krishna temple.

It took thirteen years—including six years of battling the crooked landlord, his agents, and corrupt municipal officials, all the while enduring terrible hardships, facing a score of obstacles, and responding with tremendous sacrifice and perseverance—for Srila Prabhupada’s vision to be realized. On January 14, 1978, Makara Sankranti, two months after Srila Prabhupada departed from this world, the Sri Sri Radha-Rasabihari temple was finally inaugurated by his dedicated disciples.

In the seven years leading up to the grand opening, Srila Prabhupada spent 554 days in Bombay, more than anywhere else in the world. In 1972 he appointed his disciple Giriraj das Brahmachari, who had met him in Boston in 1969 and been selected as part of the group to accompany him back to India in 1970, to lead the Juhu effort. “He has not trembled in any circumstance,” Prabhupada later commended Giriraj. “That is his qualification.” As temple president and later as Governing Body Commissioner from 1972 to 1999, Giriraj Swami raised funds and oversaw every aspect of the project—the only devotee to be closely involved throughout that period. Continue reading »

Celebrating Gita Jayanti

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Dec 242020
 

Gita Jayanti is the day on which Lord Krishna spoke the Bhagavad-gita to Arjuna.

The Gita is also known as the Gitopanisad and is considered one of the Upanisads. The title Bhagavad-gita is sometimes translated as “The Song of God.” Gita means “song.” God, Krishna, is so sublime that whatever He speaks is music and poetry. The word bhagavan has been analyzed by Vedic authorities. Bhaga means “opulence” and is related to the word bhagya: “good fortune.” And van means “one who possesses.” So bhagavan means “He who possesses all opulence in full.”

aisvaryasya samagrasya
  viryasya yasasah sriyah
jnana-vairagyayos caiva
  sannam bhaga itingana

“Full wealth, strength, fame, beauty, knowledge, and renunciation—these are the six opulences of the Supreme Personality of Godhead.” (Vishnu Purana 6.5.47)

For example, wealth. All of us possess some wealth. I may have ten dollars, but if I look further, I will find someone who has a hundred dollars. And if I look still further, I will find someone who has a thousand dollars, and a million, and a billion. But no one can say that he has all the wealth in all creation, that no one is equal to him or greater than him in wealth. When we come to that person who has all wealth—no one is equal to or greater than him—that is Bhagavan, Krishna.

The Bhagavad-gita was originally spoken by Krishna to Arjuna. As stated in the Gita (4.1),

  sri-bhagavan uvaca
imam vivasvate yogam
  proktavan aham avyayam
vivasvan manave praha
  manur iksvakave ’bravit

“The Personality of Godhead, Sri Krishna, said: I instructed this imperishable science of yoga to the sun-god, Vivasvan, and Vivasvan instructed it to Manu, the father of mankind, and Manu in turn instructed it to Iksvaku.” Lord Krishna originally spoke the Gita to Vivasvan, the sun-god, who spoke it to his son Manu, who in turn spoke it to Iksvaku. In this way the knowledge was passed on through disciplic succession from one to the next to the next. But in the course of time, that chain became broken.

evam parampara-praptam
  imam rajarsayo viduh
sa kaleneha mahata
  yogo nastah parantapa

“This supreme science was thus received through the chain of disciplic succession, and the saintly kings understood it in that way. But in course of time the succession was broken, and therefore the science as it is appears to be lost.” (Gita 4.2) Nasta means “spoiled.” You may have a nice plate of prasada, but if you leave it aside and it becomes old and contaminated, it becomes nasta, spoiled. It is food, but you don’t get the benefit. And to get the real benefit of the Bhagavad-gita, one must receive it through parampara (evam parampara-praptam imam rajarsayo viduh).

Five thousand years ago, Lord Krishna detected that the chain was broken and that, consequently, the knowledge was lost. So He came again and spoke the Bhagavad-gita again, to Arjuna: “Now, Arjuna, you become the first recipient of this knowledge in the new chain, so that the knowledge is received and presented as it is.” Srila Prabhupada called his translation of the Gita the Bhagavad-gita As It Is. “As it is” means as Krishna spoke it and as Arjuna understood it—five thousand years ago. Continue reading »

Sri Gopastami, ISKCON Maui, via Zoom

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Nov 232020
 

Krishna and Balaram tend the cows

Giriraj Swami reads and spoke from Srimad-Bhagavatam 10.15.1.

“Lord Krsna wanted to encourage His cowherd boyfriends, who had been swallowed by Aghasura and then stolen by Lord Brahma. Therefore the Lord decided to bring them into the palm-tree forest called Talavana, where there were many delicious ripe fruits. Since Lord Krsna’s spiritual body had apparently grown slightly in age and strength, the senior men of Vrndavana, headed by Nanda Maharaja, decided to promote Krsna from the task of herding calves to the status of a regular cowherd boy. He would now take care of the full-grown cows, bulls and oxen. Out of great affection, Nanda Maharaja had previously considered Krsna too small and immature to take care of full-grown cows and bulls.” —Srimad-Bhagavatam 10.15.1 purport

Gopastami, ISKCON Maui (Right-click to download)