Giriraj Swami

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 »

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 »

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

May 062022
 

Today is a most auspicious occasion. Mother Arca-vigraha was a very special devotee, and she really gave everything to Srila Prabhupada and Krishna and the devotees. I think of the verse akamah sarva-kamo va, moksa-kama udara-dhih/ tivrena bhakti-yogena, yajeta purusam param, that akamah, whether one has no desires, sarva-kamo, or is full of desires, moksa-kama, or is desirous of liberation, tivrena bhakti-yogena, if one engages in bhakti-yoga to Krishna, tivrena, with great intensity—that is a very important point: with great intensity, and in a sense it doesn’t even matter what your service is, but if you give yourself to it fully, if you put your heart into it fully—then you can approach the Supreme Lord, the supreme destination.

akamah sarva-kamo va
  moksa-kama udara-dhih
tivrena bhakti-yogena
  yajeta purusam param

“A person who has broader intelligence, whether he is full of all material desire, is free from material desire, or has a desire for liberation, must by all means worship the supreme whole, the Personality of Godhead.” (SB 2.3.10)

Mother Arca-vigraha did that, and in a way she was helped in the end by her pain—intense, difficult pain—because it turned out that the only thing that gave her relief was hearing and chanting about Krishna. His Holiness Bhakti Bhrnga Govinda Swami Maharaja recounts an incident when he went in to see Arca in her room and she was literally crying in pain. Arca was a very strong woman, and she never complained, but she was just in so much pain that she couldn’t control herself, and she was weeping, and Govinda Maharaja began to speak krsna-katha, about the pastimes of Krishna to her, and miraculously she stopped feeling the pain. She started to smile and laugh and enjoy the hearing and remembering of Krishna. So, she had discovered a secret: that as long as she was absorbed in Krishna, she could pretty much transcend the pain, but as soon as she was lax in remembering Krishna, the pain came back in full force. So her pain actually helped her.

She was a very caring and compassionate person. She always gave her best to help devotees, and she genuinely liked and appreciated them. Sometimes even devotees who were considered somewhat renegades in ISKCON or somewhat eccentric in ISKCON would come to visit her, and she would always receive them and encourage them. Sometimes other devotees were worried and would mention these devotees’ bad reputations to her, how these devotees were perceived by others, but that didn’t stop her. She just wanted to extend herself to anyone and everyone, and she genuinely appreciated them as very dear friends.

She was a real artist. She found a way to convey deep spiritual truths in a new vocabulary of form and color. She did one series called “The Eye Opener” that illustrated different principles of Krishna consciousness. On occasion she’d put a little reference to a verse from the Bhagavad-gita, but the images themselves said so much. She displayed the first ones on her wall in her home in Johannesburg, and two completely different people became vegetarian just by seeing her depiction of meat-eaters sitting around the table, how they were developing the faces of animals. She conveyed that idea that by eating the flesh of animals, the eaters were becoming like animals and probably preparing their next birth as animals. Continue reading »

May 032022
 

The day known as Aksaya-tritiya occurs on the third day (tritiya) of the waxing moon in the month of Vaisakha. Every second of this blessed day is completely auspicious, and so there is no consideration of any one period (muhurta) being better than another. Aksaya means “inexhaustible”; anything a person undertakes on the day of Aksaya-tritiya is bound to succeed, especially the performance of devotional activities, which guarantee inexhaustible benefit.

It is said that Aksaya-tritiya is the day when Treta-yuga began and the river Ganges descended to earth. Also, the festival known as Candana-yatra starts on Aksaya-tritiya.

In the Madhva-sampradaya Aksaya-tritiya is celebrated as the day of the incarnation of Lord Vishnu as Parasurama. In the Sri Krishna Mutt monastery a special festival takes place during which the aksaya-patra, the marvelous pot gifted by the sun-god to Draupadi, is worshipped. Srimati Draupadi was given the benediction that her pot would provide unlimited food at each meal, until she herself ate from it. It appears that the pot came under the custody of Sri Madhvacharya, and on Aksaya-tritiya it is worshipped and prasada is lavishly distributed throughout the day.

An interesting incident took place on Aksaya-tritiya in Nandagrama, where Sri Krishna enjoyed His childhood pastimes with Nanda Maharaja and Mother Yasoda. When Nanda Maharaja established his residence in Nandagrama, he excavated a large lake, then known as Nanda Sarovara. Nanda Maharaja, his family members, and all the Vraja-vasis used to bathe in that lake. And it is said that while Nanda Maharaja and his family bathed at one end of the lake, Vrsabhanu Maharaja would occasionally come and bathe with his family at the other end. According to local tradition, Srimati Radharani and Krishna used to swim underwater to the middle of the lake and engage in pastimes.

One day, little Krishna noticed that instead of cooking the usual meal of rice, dal, sabji, and chapatis, Mother Yasoda was making all kinds of fried preparations with dal, noodles, and flour. When Krishna asked her why she was cooking those things, she replied that Nanda Maharaja was going on a pilgrimage the next day and that the fried things she was cooking would last for several days without spoiling.

Krishna then asked where His father was going, and Mother Yasoda replied that he was going to Prayaga. Little Krishna went to Nanda Maharaja and asked him where Prayaga was and why he was going there. Nanda Maharaja explained that Prayaga was the sacred place where the three rivers Ganga, Yamuna, and Sarasvati met and flowed together and that to take bath there was most auspicious.

The next morning was Aksaya-tritiya, the perfect day to start on a long journey. As usual, Nanda Maharaja got up early and went to take bath in his lake. When he got there, he saw a man he had never seen before—an imposing, regal person—rolling in the dust and laughing loudly. Every now and then he would get up and dive into Nanda Sarovara, and then again he would come out and roll in the dust and laugh, and again bathe in the lake.

Nanda Maharaja approached the kingly man and asked, “Maharaja, who are you?”

“Baba, I’m Prayaga,” the man replied.

“Prayaga? I don’t know anyone in Nandagrama with that name.”

“No, no. I’m not from here. I’m Prayaga Raja, the king of all the holy places (tirthas)!”

“And why have you come here today, Maharaja?”

“Baba, all year long people come and bathe in my waters and leave their sins there. So, every year, on Aksaya-tritiya, I come here, roll in the dust of Vraja, and bathe in this sarovara, because this dust and this lake have the potency to purify (pavana) one from all sins.”

Nanda Maharaja was amazed. Suddenly he noticed that on the other side of the lake were many beautiful ladies in silk saris embroidered with gold and silver threads. They were also bathing in the lake. Approaching them respectfully, Nanda Maharaja asked who they were.

One lady replied, “Baba, I’m Ganga.” Another said, “I’m Sarasvati.” And yet another said, “I’m Godavari.” They all responded with the names of different holy rivers: Kurujangala, Kaveri, Narmada, Brahmaputra, Mahananda, etc.

Then Nanda Maharaja asked, “And why have you come here today? I’ve never seen you before.” The ladies explained that all year long people put their sins into their waters and that every year on the Aksaya-tritiya day they came to Vraja to roll in its dust, bathe in the sarovara, and become purified (pavana).

After taking his bath, Nanda Maharaja went back up the hill to his residence. By that time, little Krishna was awake. Coming before His father, He asked, “Baba, are you going now?” “No, Lala. I’m not going.” “Why, Baba?” “Because today, all the places where I wanted to go came to take bath in our lake and become purified (pavana). So why should I take the trouble to go to them when they all came here?”

From that day, Nanda Sarovara became known as Pavana Sarovara.