Giriraj Swami

Vyasa-puja Offering to Srila Prabhupada

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Aug 202022
 

My dear Srila Prabhupada,

Please accept my humble, prostrated obeisances at your all-merciful lotus feet. All glories to Your Divine Grace.

When an interviewer once asked you, “What is the goal of life?” you replied, “The goal of life is to enjoy.” The effort to enjoy materially, through the mind and senses, leads only to frustration and misery. But spiritually one can enjoy in relation to the Supreme Personality of Godhead, and that pleasure, unlike the temporary so-called happiness of the material world, is eternal, and that eternal happiness can be realized through the mercy of Sri Nityananda Prabhu and you. Nitya means “eternal,” and ananda means “bliss.” So if we can come in touch with Lord Nityananda—through you—we can realize that eternal bliss for which we are hankering.

How do we become eligible for your and Lord Nityananda’s mercy? We can learn how from the description of His qualities and pastimes in Sri Caitanya-caritamrta, Adi-lila, Chapter Seventeen: “The Pastimes of Lord Caitanya in His Youth”:

TEXT 17

tabe saci dekhila, rama-krsna—dui bhai
tabe nistarila prabhu jagai-madhai

TRANSLATION

Thereafter Mother Sacidevi saw the brothers Krsna and Balarama in Their manifestation of Lord Caitanya and Nityananda. Then the Lord delivered the two brothers Jagai and Madhai.

In your purport, you write:

“Jagai and Madhai were two brothers born in Navadvipa in a respectable brahmana family who later became addicted to all kinds of sinful activities. By the order of Lord Caitanya, both Nityananda Prabhu and Haridasa Thakura used to preach the cult of Krsna consciousness door to door. In the course of such preaching they found Jagai and Madhai, two maddened drunken brothers, who, upon seeing them, began to chase them. The next day, Madhai struck Nityananda Prabhu on the head with a piece of earthen pot, thus drawing blood. When Sri Caitanya Mahaprabhu heard of this, He immediately came to the spot, ready to punish both brothers, but when the all-merciful Lord Gauranga saw Jagai’s repentant behavior, He immediately embraced him. By seeing the Supreme Personality of Godhead face to face and embracing Him, both the sinful brothers were at once cleansed. Thus they received initiation into the chanting of the Hare Krsna maha-mantra from the Lord and were delivered.

“Chaitanya Mahaprabhu ordered Nityananda Prabhu and Haridasa Thakura to go into Navadvipa to approach whomever they met on the way and to go door-to-door and request people to chant the name of Krishna, to worship Krishna, to follow Krishna’s instructions (bolo krsna, bhajo krsna, koro krsna-siksa)—and not to distinguish between who was qualified and who was not. And you, Srila Prabhupada, preached in that mood.

“When Sri Chaitanya Mahaprabhu was ready to kill Jagai and Madhai because the latter had physically injured Nityananda, the all-merciful Nityananda Prabhu said, ‘No, Lord, don’t do that. Don’t harm them. In Kali-yuga Our mission is not to kill the demons but to deliver them. And in Kali-yuga almost everyone is like Jagai and Madhai.’ ”

In a conversation on June 11, 1975, in Honolulu, you said, “This is a good certificate we have got from some very authoritative person, that we are turning these drug-addicted hippies into servants of Krishna and humanity. Is it not a good certificate?”

“Yes. It’s true. We were all hippies,” Govinda Dasi responded.

And you replied, chuckling, “This is the fact. And I came to America for this purpose. Papi tapi jata chilo, hari-name uddharilo, tara saksi jagai madhai. Hari-name uddharilo, simply by chanting Hare Krishna mantra, Chaitanya Mahaprabhu delivered all sinful men, suffering humanity. Is it true? What is the evidence? Tara saksi jagai madhai. Just see, Jagai and Madhai was drunkard. So, I thought, ‘Why one Jagai and Madhai? Why not hundreds and thousands of them, if hari-nama has got so much power?’ So, actually it has done so. Now you also take it very seriously. Papi-tapi jata chilo, hari-name uddharilo. Papi means sinful, and tapi means suffering. So, these two classes of men are there all over the world: sinful and suffering. As soon as one becomes sinful, he will suffer. So, all these sinful and suffering beings were delivered simply by the method of sankirtana: hari-name uddharilo. Tara saksi jagai madhai. People would actually see Jagai and Madhai, what they were and what they have become. Try to administer this.” Continue reading »

Sri Krishna Janmashtami—Lord Krishna’s Appearance

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Aug 182022
 

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.”

Brahman is the impersonal effulgence that emanates from the transcendental form of the Lord; Paramatma is the localized feature of the Lord, within the heart; and Bhagavan is the Supreme Personality of Godhead Krishna Himself, full in six opulences.

The form of Krishna is not material. Our bodies are material, distinct from the soul, which is spiritual. The Bhagavad-gita (2.13) explains,

dehino ’smin yatha dehe
  kaumaram yauvanam jara
tatha dehantara-praptir
  dhiras tatra na muhyati

“As the embodied soul continuously passes, in this body, from boyhood to youth to old age, the soul similarly passes into another body at death. A sober person is not bewildered by such a change.” The soul is a nonphysical, nonchemical particle of spiritual energy, and it is the soul that animates the body. As long as the soul is in the body, we say the body is alive. Actually, the body is never alive; the body is just a machine. But it appears to be alive when the soul is present to animate it. And when the soul leaves the body, the body has no capacity to act, to function, and then we say that the body is dead. In conditioned beings, such as us, there is a distinction between the body, which is made of material energy, and the soul, which is composed of spiritual energy. But in the case of Krishna, there is no difference between His body and soul. Being absolute, His body and He are the same. In our case, there is a difference between us and the body, because our real identity is the soul. If someone’s father passes away, he or she will cry, “Oh, my father has left. My father is gone.” Although the body of the father is there, why do we say, “My father has gone”? Intuitively we know, especially at a time like death, that the body lying there in the room is not the person. The body is just a bag of chemicals. The real person is the soul who has left the body, and so the children and other relatives and friends cry, “Oh, he’s gone,” because he is the soul, not the body.

But in the case of Krishna, He and His body are not different, because He is absolute. There is no difference between His inside and His outside. He is completely spiritual. The Brahma-samhita says, isvarah paramah krsnah sac-cid-ananda-vigrahah: “Krishna is the Supreme Godhead. He has an eternal, blissful spiritual body.” Anadir adir govindah sarva-karana-karanam: “He is the origin of all, but He Himself has no origin. He is the prime cause of all causes.” That is Krishna. Continue reading »

Sri Nrsimha-caturdasi

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May 142022
 

We shall read from Srimad-Bhagavatam, Canto Five, Chapter Eighteen: “The Residents of Jambudvipa Offer Prayers,” from the series of prayers recited by Prahlada Maharaja to Lord Nrsimhadeva. Text 8 is a very important prayer, or mantra, and in it many words are repeated, which gives them great emphasis.

TEXT 8

om namo bhagavate narasimhaya namas tejas-tejase avir-avirbhava vajra-nakha vajra-damstra karmasayan randhaya randhaya tamo grasa grasa om svaha; abhayam abhayam atmani bhuyistha om ksraum.

TRANSLATION

I offer my respectful obeisances unto Lord Nrsimhadeva, the source of all power. O my Lord who possess nails and teeth just like thunderbolts, kindly vanquish our demonlike desires for fruitive activity in this material world. Please appear in our hearts and drive away our ignorance so that by Your mercy we may become fearless in the struggle for existence in this material world.

TEXT 9

svasty astu visvasya khalah prasidatam
   dhyayantu bhutani sivam mitho dhiya
manas ca bhadram bhajatad adhoksaje
   avesyatam no matir apy ahaituki

TRANSLATION

May there be good fortune throughout the universe, and may all envious persons be pacified. May all living entities become calm by practicing bhakti-yoga, for by accepting devotional service they will think of each other’s welfare. Therefore let us all engage in the service of the supreme transcendence, Lord Sri Krsna, and always remain absorbed in thought of Him.

PURPORT by Srila Prabhupada

The following verse describes a Vaisnava:

vancha-kalpa-tarubhyas ca
   krpa-sindhubhya eva ca
patitanam pavanebhyo
   vaisnavebhyo namo namah

Just like a desire tree, a Vaisnava can fulfill all the desires of anyone who takes shelter of his lotus feet. Prahlada Maharaja is a typical Vaisnava. He prays not for himself, but for all living entities—the gentle, the envious, and the mischievous. He always thought of the welfare of mischievous persons like his father, Hiranyakasipu. Prahlada Maharaja did not ask for anything for himself; rather, he prayed for the Lord to excuse his demoniac father. This is the attitude of a Vaisnava, who always thinks of the welfare of the entire universe.

Srimad-Bhagavatam and bhagavata-dharma are meant for persons who are completely free of envy (parama-nirmatsaranam). Therefore Prahlada Maharaja prays in this verse, khalah prasidatam: “May all the envious persons be pacified.” The material world is full of envious persons, but if one frees himself of envy, he becomes liberal in his social dealings and can think of others’ welfare. Anyone who takes up Krsna consciousness and engages himself completely in the service of the Lord cleanses his mind of all envy (manas ca bhadram bhajatad adhoksaje). Therefore we should pray to Lord Nrsimhadeva to sit in our hearts. We should pray, bahir nrsimho hrdaye nrsimhah: “Let Lord Nrsimhadeva sit in the core of my heart, killing all my bad propensities. Let my mind become clean so that I may peacefully worship the Lord and bring peace to the entire world.”

Srila Visvanatha Cakravarti Thakura has given us a very fine purport in this regard. Whenever one offers a prayer to the Supreme Personality of Godhead, one always requests some benediction from Him. Even pure (niskama) devotees pray for some benediction, as instructed by Lord Sri Caitanya Mahaprabhu in His Siksastaka:

ayi nanda-tanuja kinkaram
  patitam mam visame bhavambudhau
krpaya tava pada-pankaja-
  sthita-dhuli-sadrsam vicintaya

“O son of Maharaja Nanda [Krsna], I am Your eternal servitor, yet somehow or other I have fallen into the ocean of birth and death. Please pick Me up from the ocean of death and place Me as one of the atoms at Your lotus feet.” In another prayer Lord Caitanya says, mama janmani janmanisvare bhavatad bhaktir ahaituki tvayi: “Life after life, kindly let Me have unalloyed love and devotion at Your Lordship’s lotus feet.” When Prahlada Maharaja chants om namo bhagavate narasimhaya, he prays for a benediction from the Lord, but because he is also an exalted Vaisnava, he wants nothing for his personal sense gratification. The first desire expressed in his prayer is svasty astu visvasya: “Let there be good fortune throughout the entire universe.” Prahlada Maharaja thus requested the Lord to be merciful to everyone, including his father, a most envious person. According to Canakya Pandita, there are two kinds of envious living entities: one is a snake, and the other is the man like Hiranyakasipu, who is by nature envious of everyone, even of his father or son. Hiranyakasipu was envious of his little son Prahlada, but Prahlada Maharaja asked a benediction for the benefit of his father. Hiranyakasipu was very envious of devotees, but Prahlada wished that his father and other demons like him would give up their envious nature by the grace of the Lord and stop harassing the devotees (khalah prasidatam). The difficulty is that the khala (envious living entity) is rarely pacified. One kind of khala, the snake, can be pacified simply by mantras or by the action of a particular herb (mantrausadhi-vasah sarpah khalakena nivaryate). An envious person, however, cannot be pacified by any means. Therefore Prahlada Maharaja prays that all envious persons may undergo a change of heart and think of the welfare of others.

If the Krsna consciousness movement spreads all over the world, and if by the grace of Krsna everyone accepts it, the thinking of envious people will change. Everyone will think of the welfare of others. Therefore Prahlada Maharaja prays, sivam mitho dhiya. In material activities, everyone is envious of others, but in Krsna consciousness, no one is envious of anyone else; everyone thinks of the welfare of others. Therefore Prahlada Maharaja prays that everyone’s mind may become gentle by being fixed at the lotus feet of Krsna (bhajatad adhoksaje). As indicated elsewhere in Srimad-Bhagavatam (sa vai manah krsna-padaravindayoh) and as advised by Lord Krsna in Bhagavad-gita (18.65), man-mana bhava mad-bhaktah, one should constantly think of the lotus feet of Lord Krsna. Then one’s mind will certainly be cleansed (ceto-darpana-marjanam [Cc Antya 20.12]). Materialists always think of sense gratification, but Prahlada Maharaja prays that the Lord’s mercy will change their minds and they will stop thinking of sense gratification. If they think of Krsna always, everything will be all right. Some people argue that if everyone thought of Krsna in that way, the whole universe would be vacated because everyone would go back home, back to Godhead. However, Srila Visvanatha Cakravarti Thakura says that this is impossible because the living entities are innumerable. If one set of living entities is actually delivered by the Krsna consciousness movement, another set will fill the entire universe.

COMMENT by Giriraj Swami

vancha-kalpatarubhyas ca
   krpa-sindhubhya eva ca
patitanam pavanebhyo
   vaisnavebhyo namo namah

Srila Prabhupada quoted this verse in the purport because it describes a Vaishnava and because Prahlada Maharaja, who recited the prayers that we are reading and discussing, is an excellent example of a Vaishnava. Continue reading »

Sri Rukmini-dvadasi

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May 122022
 

Today is Rukmini-dvadasi, the appearance day of Srimati Rukmini-devi. There have been wonderful festivities all day, beginning with the special darshan of the Deities in Their flower outfits, and just now a wonderful abhiseka. During the abhiseka I really felt like I was in Vrindavan. There was so much devotion, spontaneous devotion—every time the pujaris poured another substance on the Deities, there would be gasps and cries of ecstasy and approval. It was really wonderful. And that is life in Krishna consciousness—somehow being captivated by Krishna, the beauty of Krishna, manifest in His deity forms, His holy names, and His words and descriptions, the revealed scriptures. We want, somehow or other, to be absorbed in Krishna, and that absorption, encouraged by all these different activities, will cleanse the heart naturally and make us happy.

In terms of tattva (ontology), Krishna is the Absolute Truth. From Him everything emanates. He is the cause of all causes.

isvarah paramah krsnah
  sac-cid-ananda-vigrahah
anadir adir govindah
  sarva-karana-karanam

“Krishna, who is known as Govinda, is the Supreme Godhead. He has an eternal, blissful, spiritual body. He is the origin of all. He has no other origin, and He is the prime cause of all causes.” (Brahma-samhita 5.1)

Once, on a morning walk here at Cheviot Hills Park, I asked Srila Prabhupada, “We say that Krishna is the origin of all, but sometimes people question us, ‘You say Krishna is the origin, but what is Krishna’s origin?’ What should we answer?” And Prabhupada replied, “You should tell them that according to our information, Krishna is the origin of everything and has no origin, but if you find someone or something that is the origin of Krishna, we will worship that person or thing—but until then you should worship Krishna.”

So, Krishna is the origin, but in terms of tattva, there are two basic categories: vishnu-tattva and shakti-tattva. Krishna is the source of all Vishnu forms, beginning with Balarama (Krishna’s first expansion), Vasudeva, Sankarsana, Pradyumna, and Aniruddha—so many expansions on the side of the energetic (Vishnu). Similarly, there are so many expansions on the side of the energy (shakti), and the first is Srimati Radharani. From Her expand so many gopis in Vrindavan, so many queens in Dvaraka, and so many Laksmis in Vaikuntha.

krsna-kanta-gana dekhi tri-vidha prakara
  eka laksmi-gana, pure mahisi-gana ara
vrajangana-rupa, ara kanta-gana-sara
  sri-radhika haite kanta-ganera vistara

“The beloved consorts of Lord Krsna are of three kinds: the goddesses of fortune, the queens, and the milkmaids of Vraja, who are the foremost of all. These consorts all proceed from Radhika.” (Cc Adi 4.74–75)

Of all Krishna’s queens in Dvaraka, Rukmini-devi is the principal. Ultimately, she is an expansion of Srimati Radharani. All of Rukmini’s qualities are present in Radharani, though Radharani manifests some qualities that Rukmini doesn’t.

Many of Rukmini and Krishna’s pastimes are described in Srimad-Bhagavatam, and they are relishable and instructive. When I first read the story of Rukmini and Krishna in the Krsna book, I thought that it was the most wonderful story—one that could make a fabulous movie, with romance, suspense, chivalry, adventure, and a truly happy ending. I thought, “This is amazing. You get everything in Krishna consciousness—but completely pure and spiritual.” Continue reading »

Happy Mother’s Day

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May 082022
 

“There are very exalted spiritual understandings in Krishna consciousness. They are not fictional, imaginary, or concocted. They are facts, and every devotee can have the privilege to understand and indeed take part in Krishna’s pastimes if he is actually advanced. We should not think that the privilege given to Mother Yasoda is not available to us. Everyone can have a similar privilege. If one loves Krishna as one’s child, then one will have such a privilege, because the mother has the most love for the child. Even in this material world, there is no comparison to a mother’s love, for a mother loves her child without any expectation of return. Of course, although that is generally true, this material world is so polluted that a mother sometimes thinks, ‘My child will grow up and become a man, and when he earns money, I shall get it.’ Thus there may still be some desire to get something in exchange. But while loving Krishna there are no selfish feelings, for that love is unalloyed, free from all desires for material gain.

“You should not expect anything in return. That is real love. Just like a mother is loving her child, not expecting any return. But she still she gives service. So, that is as a little sample of pure love.”

—Srila Prabhupada, talk on Srimad-Bhagavatam 1.8.31, April 23, 1973, Los Angeles, and room conversation, July 13, 1976, New York

Hare Krishna.

Your grateful servant,
Giriraj Swami