Damodar das

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

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Jan 102021


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)

The Significance of Dipavali, Srimad-Bhagavatam 1.8.31, ISKCON Houston via Zoom

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Nov 132020

“Srila Visvanatha Cakravarti Thakura, quoting from the Vaisnava-tosani of Srila Sanatana Gosvami, says that the incident of Krsna’s breaking the pot of yogurt and being bound by Mother Yasoda took place on the Dipavali Day, or Dipa-malika. Even today in India, this festival is generally celebrated very gorgeously in the month of Kartika by fireworks and lights, especially in Bombay.” —Srimad-Bhagavatam 10.9.1 purport

“My dear Krsna, Yasoda took up a rope to bind You when You committed an offense, and Your perturbed eyes overflooded with tears, which washed the mascara from Your eyes. And You were afraid, though fear personified is afraid of You. This sight is bewildering to me.” —Srimad-Bhagavatam 1.8.31

The Significance of Dipavali (Right click to download)

Initiation of Narottama Vilasa dasa, November 5, New Vrajamandala, near Madrid, Spain

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Nov 052020

“When one is free from all ten of these offenses in chanting the holy name of God, he develops the ecstatic bodily features called pulakasru. Pulaka means ‘symptoms of happiness,’ and asru means ‘tears in the eyes.’ The symptoms of happiness and tears in the eyes must appear in a person who has chanted the holy name offenselessly. Here in this verse it is stated that those who have actually developed the symptoms of happiness and tears in the eyes by chanting the glories of the Lord are eligible to enter the kingdom of God. In the Caitanya-caritamrta it is said that if one does not develop these symptoms while chanting Hare Krishna, it is to be understood that he is still offensive. Caitanya-caritamrta suggests a nice remedy in this connection. There it is said in verse 31, Chapter Eight, of Adi-lila, that if anyone takes shelter of Lord Caitanya and just chants the holy name of the Lord, Hare Krishna, he becomes freed from all offenses.” —Srimad-Bhagavatam 3.15.25 purport.

Narottama Vilasa dasa Initiation (Right-click to download)

Opening the Door to Perfection, ISKCON of Central New Jersey

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Nov 052020

Giriraj Swami read and spoke from Srimad-Bhagavatam 2.3.17.

“This verse indirectly confirms the greater importance of utilizing the human form of life to realize our lost relationship with the Supreme Lord by acceleration of devotional service. Time and tide wait for no man. So the time indicated by the sunrise and the sunset will be uselessly wasted if such time is not properly utilized for realizing identification of spiritual values. Even a fraction of the duration of life wasted cannot be compensated by any amount of gold. Human life is simply awarded to a living entity (jiva) so that he can realize his spiritual identity and his permanent source of happiness. A living being, especially the human being, is seeking happiness because happiness is the natural situation of the living entity. But he is vainly seeking happiness in the material atmosphere.” —SB 2.3.17 purport.

Opening the Door to Perfection (Right click to download)