Feb 242021
 

We welcome you on this most auspicious occasion of the appearance day of Sri Nityananda Prabhu. According to the Bhagavad-gita, Srimad-Bhagavatam, and Sri Caitanya-caritamrta, the Absolute Truth is realized in three features. Preliminary is Brahman, the impersonal light that emanates from the transcendental form of the Lord. Next is Paramatma, the localized Supersoul within the hearts of all living entities. And the last word in realization of the Absolute is Bhagavan, the Supreme Personality of Godhead, Krishna. The jnanis who realize the impersonal Brahman experience only the sat, eternal, aspect of the Absolute Truth. The yogis who realize the Paramatma within the heart experience the eternal, sat, and cognizant, cit, features of the Absolute Truth. Only the devotees, who realize Krishna, experience ananda, bliss, which is the goal and ultimate nature of every living entity.

When an interviewer once asked Srila Prabhupada, “What is the goal of life?” Prabhupada replied, “The goal of life is to enjoy.” Now, 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. Nitya means “eternal” and ananda means “bliss.” So if we can come in touch with Lord Nityananda, we can realize that eternal bliss for which we are hankering.

How do we become eligible for Lord Nityananda’s mercy? That we can learn from the description of His qualities and pastimes in Sri Caitanya-caritamrta, the most authorized book, biography, about the teachings and activities of Lord Chaitanya and Lord Nityananda and Their associates. There are a number of verses that summarize the pastimes of Lord Chaitanya and Lord Nityananda, but one is especially instructive, from 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.

PURPORT by Srila Prabhupada

One night Sacidevi dreamt that the Deities in her house, Krsna and Balarama, had taken the forms of Caitanya and Nityananda and were fighting one another, as children do, to eat the naivedya, or offering to the Deities. On the next day, by the will of Lord Caitanya, Sacidevi invited Nityananda to take prasada at her house. Thus Visvambhara (Lord Caitanya) and Nityananda were eating together, and Sacidevi realized that They were none other than Krsna and Balarama. Seeing this, she fainted.

COMMENT by Giriraj Swami

The story is that Sacidevi had a dream and told her son Nimai, “Last night I had a wonderful dream, and in this dream You and Nityananda went into my Deity room, and You picked up the Deity of Balarama, and Nitai picked up the Deity of Krishna, and the Deities started to protest, ‘You can’t take Us from the altar. You can’t take Us out of the Deity room.’ And You and Nityananda replied, ‘Your days of stealing butter and playing pranks are over. Now You are appearing as brahmans to chant the holy names.’ ” Then They started to fight over Mother Saci’s offerings, and Krishna and Balarama said, “These are meant for Us. You can’t have these.” And Gaura and Nitai were saying, “But now You have appeared as Us so We can take them.”

When Mother Saci asked Lord Chaitanya, “What do you think of this dream?” He said, “This is a very wonderful dream, but don’t tell anyone about it.” Because He was concealing His identity as the Supreme Personality of Godhead, He didn’t want anyone to know that He was Krishna and Nityananda was Balarama.

Then Lord Chaitanya said, “I would go into the Deity room to have maha-prasada [the remnants of the offerings] and see that half of it was gone.” His wife Vishnu-priya was listening to this, and He knew that she was listening, so He said, “Seeing that half of the offering was gone, I would suspect that it was Vishnu-priya who had taken the maha-prasada, but now I am seeing that these Deities are very mystical, and I am suspecting that They Themselves might be eating half of the remnants meant for Us.” He continued, “Anyway, I think tomorrow you should invite Nityananda for lunch,” and she did. And as They were having lunch, she saw Them transform Themselves into Krishna and Balarama, and she fainted. Continue reading »

Feb 232021
 

Today is Varaha-dvadasi, the appearance day of the boar incarnation, Varahadeva. To celebrate His appearance, we shall read one verse about Him from Srimad-Bhagavatam, Canto Two, Chapter Seven, “Scheduled Incarnations with Specific Functions.”

TEXT 1

                       brahmovaca
yatrodyatah ksiti-taloddharanaya bibhrat
    kraudim tanum sakala-yajna-mayim anantah
antar-maharnava upagatam adi-daityam
    tam damstrayadrim iva vajra-dharo dadara

TRANSLATION

Lord Brahma said: When the unlimitedly powerful Lord assumed the form of a boar as a pastime, just to lift the planet earth, which was drowned in the great ocean of the universe called the Garbhodaka, the first demon [Hiranyaksa] appeared, and the Lord pierced him with His tusk.

PURPORT by Srila Prabhupada

Since the beginning of creation, the demons and the demigods, or the Vaisnavas, are always the two classes of living beings to dominate the planets of the universes. Lord Brahma is the first demigod, and Hiranyaksa is the first demon in this universe.

COMMENT by Giriraj Swami

From the beginning of creation, there have been two classes of human beings in the universe. One is the demigods, or the devotees, who are favorable to Lord Vishnu, and the other is the demons, who are against Lord Vishnu. The difference between them has existed from the beginning of creation, and the competition between them has continued until now. There are always struggles and fights between the devotees and the demons.

Even to get the place where we are so comfortably sitting now, Hare Krishna Land, Juhu, there was a great struggle. Srila Prabhupada, the devotee, wanted to purchase the land to build a temple for Radha and Krishna, and so many enemies joined together to oppose him. Month after month the struggle continued, until ultimately Srila Prabhupada and the devotees were successful.

Even after they acquired Hare Krishna Land, the struggle continued. So many enemies tried to stop the construction of the temple, but again, in the end, the devotees were successful and Srila Prabhupada was able to build this temple for Sri Sri Radha-Rasabihariji.

Even after Srila Prabhupada’s disappearance, so many enemies tried to capture Hare Krishna Land and take the management of the temple from the devotees. They accused the devotees: we were CIA, we were spies, we were smugglers, we were this, we were that. They even claimed that the chakras on top of the temple domes were radio antennas for sending and receiving secret messages, and such ridiculous stories were published all over the newspapers. Finally, these enemies induced the police to make a thorough search of the entire premises.

The police came to look for radios, contraband, and whatnot, and eventually they wanted to search Srila Prabhupada’s personal quarters on the fifth floor of the west tower. His Holiness Tamal Krishna Goswami was the GBC for Bombay, so he accompanied the officer to Prabhupada’s quarters. When the officer saw the quarters, he paused and asked, “Do you know why we are searching Hare Krishna Land?” Goswami Maharaja replied, “Because there are so many foreigners here.” The inspector in charge of the investigation said, “There are more foreigners at the Holiday Inn, so why are we not searching there?” Tamal Krishna Goswami replied, “I don’t know. Maybe you should say.” Then the officer said, “At the Holiday Inn they eat meat, they take intoxicants, they gamble, and they have illicit sex, so no one bothers about them. But here you don’t eat meat, fish, or eggs; you don’t take intoxicants; you don’t have illicit sex; and you don’t gamble. And you broadcast very loudly that people should not eat meat, should not take intoxicants, should not have illicit sex, and should not gamble. That is why we are investigating you. People are comfortable with sense gratification, so where there is sense gratification they feel comfortable. But you are giving up sense gratification, announcing it, and telling others to give it up as well. So people get disturbed, become suspicious, and want to know what’s happening, because they can’t understand how people can actually give up sense gratification. That’s why we are investigating you.” Continue reading »

Feb 222021
 

Today is Varaha-dvadasi, Lord Varaha’s appearance day. Srila Prabhupada spoke on this occasion in Los Angeles on February 18, 1970:

“Today is the incarnation day of Lord Krishna’s appearing as the Boar. He lifted the world when it was submerged within the water of Garbhodaka Ocean. The universe which we are seeing is only half. The other half is filled with water, and in that water Garbhodakasayi Vishnu is lying.

“So, one demon, Hiranyaksa, pushed this earthly planet within that water, and Lord Krishna delivered this earthly planet from water in the shape of a boar. So, that auspicious day is today, Varaha-dvadasi. On this day [we] sing,

vasati dasana-sikhare dharani tava lagna
sasini kalanka-kaleva nimagna
kesava dhrta-sukara-rupa jaya jagadisa hare
jaya jagadisa hare, jaya jagadisa hare

‘O Kesava! O Lord of the universe! O Lord Hari, who have assumed the form of a boar! All glories to You! The earth, which had become immersed in the Garbhodaka Ocean at the bottom of the universe, sits fixed upon the tip of Your tusk like a spot upon the moon.’ (Dasavatara-stotra, 3)

“This Varaha, boar, or hog, delivered this earthly planet by the tusk, and He kept the whole world on His tusk. We can just imagine how big He appeared. And the world at that time appeared just like the moon disc with some marks on it. So kesava dhrta-varaha-sarira. The poet says, ‘My dear Lord, You have appeared as the great boar. So let me offer my respectful obeisances unto You.’ ”

May Lord Varaha bless us, protect us, and uplift us all.

Hare Krishna.

Yours in service,
Giriraj Swami

Feb 212021
 

Today is the disappearance anniversary of Sripada Ramanujacharya, the principal acharya in the Sri, or Lakshmi, sampradaya. Srila Prabhupada wrote, “We find great shelter at the lotus feet of Sri Ramanujacharya because his lotus feet are the strongest fort to combat the Mayavadi philosophy.” (letter 22.11.1974) And in the early days of ISKCON in India, before we had Srila Prabhupada’s Bhagavad-gita As It Is in Hindi, Prabhupada would refer people to read the Hindi edition of the Gita with Sri Ramanujacharya’s commentary.

Srila Prabhupada often told a story about Sri Ramanujacharya’s merciful, compassionate nature. As he related it in Ahmedabad in 1972, “The servants of Krishna take all risk for Krishna’s sake. Just like Ramanujacharya. Sri Ramanujacharya’s spiritual master said, ‘My dear son, the mantra which I am giving, you chant silently and you will be delivered. It is so powerful. Don’t chant this mantra loudly so others can hear.’

“Ramanujacharya thought, ‘If this mantra is so powerful that if others hear it they’ll also be delivered, then why not?’ He immediately went to the market and began to chant the mantra. So, his spiritual master became very angry, that ‘I told you not to chant loudly, so others may not hear.’ And Ramanujacharya replied, ‘My Lordship, I have done offense unto you. That’s all right. For this I am prepared to go to hell. But if this mantra is so powerful, I must speak it to everyone.’ ”

In this mood, following in the footsteps of Sripada Ramanujacharya, Srila Prabhupada broadcast the Hare Krishna maha-mantra and the teachings of the Bhagavad-gita everywhere, to everyone.

We pray and aspire to follow in their footsteps.

Hare Krishna.

Yours in service,
Giriraj Swami

Feb 172021
 

Today we shall discuss Sri Advaita Acharya and His desire to induce the Lord to appear to deliver the fallen souls, who were so engrossed in material thoughts and activities, by introducing the yuga-dharma of hari-nama-sankirtana.

We read from Sri Caitanya-caritamrta, Adi-lila, Chapter Three: “The External Reasons for Lord Caitanya’s Appearance.”

TEXT 96

prakatiya dekhe acarya sakala samsara
krsna-bhakti gandha-hina visaya-vyavahara

TRANSLATION

Advaita Acarya having appeared, He found the world devoid of devotional service to Sri Krsna because people were engrossed in material affairs.

TEXT 97

keha pape, keha punye kare visaya-bhoga
bhakti-gandha nahi, yate yaya bhava-roga

TRANSLATION

Everyone was engaged in material enjoyment, whether sinfully or virtuously. No one was interested in the transcendental service of the Lord, which can give total relief from the repetition of birth and death.

PURPORT

Advaita Acarya saw the entire world to be engaged in activities of material piety and impiety, without a trace of devotional service, or Krsna consciousness, anywhere. The fact is that in this material world there is no scarcity of anything except Krsna consciousness. Material necessities are supplied by the mercy of the Supreme Lord. We sometimes feel scarcity because of our mismanagement, but the real problem is that people are out of touch with Krsna consciousness. Everyone is engaged in material sense gratification, but people have no plan for making an ultimate solution to their real problems, namely birth, disease, old age and death. These four material miseries are called bhava-roga, or material diseases. They can be cured only by Krsna consciousness. Therefore Krsna consciousness is the greatest benediction for human society.

TEXT 98

loka-gati dekhi’ acarya karuna-hrdaya
vicara karena, lokera kaiche hita haya

TRANSLATION

Seeing the activities of the world, the Acarya felt compassion and began to ponder how He could act for the people’s benefit.

PURPORT

This sort of serious interest in the welfare of the public makes one a bona fide acarya. An acarya does not exploit his followers. Since the acarya is a confidential servitor of the Lord, his heart is always full of compassion for humanity in its suffering. He knows that all suffering is due to the absence of devotional service to the Lord, and therefore he always tries to find ways to change people’s activities, making them favorable for the attainment of devotion. That is the qualification of an acarya. Although Sri Advaita Prabhu Himself was powerful enough to do the work, as a submissive servitor He thought that without the personal appearance of the Lord, no one could improve the fallen condition of society.

In the grim clutches of maya, the first-class prisoners of this material world wrongly think themselves happy because they are rich, powerful, resourceful and so on. These foolish creatures do not know that they are nothing but play dolls in the hands of material nature and that at any moment material nature’s pitiless intrigues can crush to dust all their plans for godless activities. Such foolish prisoners cannot see that however they improve their position by artificial means, the calamities of repeated birth, death, disease and old age are always beyond the jurisdiction of their control. Foolish as they are, they neglect these major problems of life and busy themselves with false things that cannot help them solve their real problems. They know that they do not want to suffer death or the pangs of disease and old age, but under the influence of the illusory energy, they are grossly negligent and therefore do nothing to solve the problems. This is called maya. People held in the grip of maya are thrown into oblivion after death, and as a result of their karma, in the next life they become dogs or gods, although most of them become dogs. To become gods in the next life, they must engage in the devotional service of the Supreme Personality of Godhead; otherwise, they are sure to become dogs or hogs in terms of the laws of nature.

The third-class prisoners, being less materially opulent than the first-class prisoners, endeavor to imitate them, for they also have no information of the real nature of their imprisonment. Thus they also are misled by the illusory material nature. The function of the acarya, however, is to change the activities of both the first-class and third-class prisoners for their real benefit. This endeavor makes him a very dear devotee of the Lord, who says clearly in the Bhagavad-gita that no one in human society is dearer to Him than a devotee who constantly engages in His service by finding ways to preach the message of Godhead for the real benefit of the world. The so-called acaryas of the Age of Kali are more concerned with exploiting the resources of their followers than mitigating their miseries; but Sri Advaita Prabhu, as an ideal acarya, was concerned with improving the condition of the world situation. Continue reading »