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.”
viryasya yasasah sriyah
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)
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),
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.
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).
My dear devotees,
Please accept my humble obeisances. All glories to Srila Prabhupada.
In a letter to me dated December 1971, Srila Prabhupada wrote, “Go on increasing books, and go on increasing my pleasure.” December is a special opportunity to focus on Srila Prabhupada’s desire that we distribute books—and thus increase his pleasure. As he wrote in the same letter, “I am most pleased especially to hear that you are distributing many books.”
yasmin prati-slokam abaddhavaty api
namany anantasya yaso ’nkitani yat
srnvanti gayanti grnanti sadhavah
“That literature which is full of descriptions of the transcendental glories of the name, fame, forms, pastimes, etc., of the unlimited Supreme Lord is a different creation, full of transcendental words directed toward bringing about a revolution in the impious lives of this world’s misdirected civilization. Such transcendental literatures, even though imperfectly composed, are heard, sung, and accepted by purified men who are thoroughly honest.” (SB 1.5.11)
Now let us cooperate to fulfill Srila Prabhupada’s desire, which is the desire of Sri Chaitanya Mahaprabhu and the parampara, and distribute such transcendental literature for the benefit of all—and be blessed by their sublime mercy.
Thank you very much.
Yours in service,
Today is Odana-sasti, the date on which Lord Jagannatha is given a winter shawl. One year when Lord Chaitanya and His associates celebrated this festival in Puri, Pundarika Vidyanidhi, who is Vrsabhanu Maharaja, Srimati Radharani’s father, in krsna-lila, received some special mercy. His experience is instructive for us all.
Srila Prabhupada explains, “At the beginning of winter, there is a ceremony known as the Odana-sasthi. This ceremony indicates that from that day forward, a winter covering should be given to Lord Jagannatha. That covering is directly purchased from a weaver. According to the arcana-marga, a cloth should first be washed to remove all the starch, and then it can be used to cover the Lord. Pundarika Vidyanidhi saw that the priest neglected to wash the cloth before covering Lord Jagannatha. Since he wanted to find some fault in the devotees, he became indignant.” (Cc Madhya 16.78 purport)
And Sri Caitanya-caritamrta (Madhya 16.78–81) describes the event: “Pundarika Vidyanidhi initiated Gadadhara Pandita for the second time, and on the day of Odana-sasthi Pundarika Vidyanidhi saw the festival. (78) When Pundarika Vidyanidhi saw that Lord Jagannatha was given a starched garment, he became a little hateful. In this way his mind was polluted. (79) That night the brothers Lord Jagannatha and Balarama came to Pundarika Vidyanidhi and, smiling, began to slap him. (80) Although his cheeks were swollen from the slapping, Pundarika Vidyanidhi was very happy within. This incident has been elaborately described by Thakura Vrndavana dasa. (81)”
From this incident we can learn that the Lord does not tolerate offenses against His servants, even from an advanced devotee, and that He chastises a devotee who commits such an offense even within the mind. We can also learn that a pure devotee accepts such chastisement from the Lord with great happiness, as a manifestation of the Lord’s mercy, of His love and care for His devotees—both for those who may commit such an offense and for those who may be objects of such an offense. A pure devotee thanks the Lord for rectifying him and preventing him from committing further offenses, and he feels great jubilation within his heart.
I will never forget the moment when I heard that George Harrison had passed away, one week after Thanksgiving in 2001. My strong feelings of separation surprised me—and made me think how important and dear George must have been to Srila Prabhupada and Sri Krishna. And I remembered my own little experience with George in Bombay.
In 1974, George came to visit Srila Prabhupada at Hare Krishna Land, in Juhu. He was wearing a white kurta and white yogi pants and had a plain bead bag. I took him around the property, and he expressed his appreciation for our work and encouraged us in our efforts. When at twelve-thirty we heard the conch shell blow for raja-bhoga arati, we proceeded to the small temple shed, where George chose a pair of kartals and sang with the other devotees. Puri dasa, originally from Scotland, was doing the arati, and when he turned to offer the ghee lamp to the devotees and saw George, his hand started trembling so much that he thought he might drop the lamp.
After the arati, I arranged a full plate of maha-prasada for George and accompanied him to meet Prabhupada in his apartment. Prabhupada greeted him warmly, and I left them together and returned to my office.
“Prabhupada was behind his desk, with George in front of him,” Kishor das later described. “I barely remember what was said, but I remember the feeling of love that went back and forth between them. It was tangible. I didn’t really understand what this relationship was. I was young, and here was a big rock star, and a pure devotee of Krishna, and there was I somewhere. But I could just feel this feeling of love that went back and forth between Prabhupada and George.”
About two hours later, a pudgy twelve-year-old boy with glasses—the son of our friend and supporter Pranjivan G. Valia of the Hare Krishna house in the Juhu Vile Parle development—came to my small office at the back of the property. “I heard George Harrison is here,” he said.
“Yes,” I replied, “he is.”
“I want to see him,” he stated.
“Well, you can’t. He’s meeting with Srila Prabhupada.”
He looked me straight in the eye, sizing me up, and, concluding that he wasn’t going to get anywhere with me, turned, dashed to the stairs, and bolted down the steps.
Oh my God, I thought. He’s going to try to find him. So I bounded down the stairs in hot pursuit.
I ran across to the next building, and when I reached the second landing, in front of Prabhupada’s flat, I found the door ajar. The boy stood just inside, and beyond him George sat cross-legged with his back erect, like a yogi—a perfect disciple listening attentively at the feet of his master.
With the boy’s abrupt appearance, Prabhupada and George ended their meeting, exchanging some final words. George was gracious and appreciative, Prabhupada affectionate and kind. I was upset that the boy had interrupted them, but they took it as a matter of course. Maybe it was time for the meeting to end; maybe they took it as Krishna’s arrangement.
Shyamasundar and I accompanied George back to the temple shed for darshan of the Deities. He paid full dandavats, lying completely flat on the floor before Them for a long time, and then left.
The next year, on a morning walk in Sanand, Gujarat, Prabhupada recalled the meeting: “He is very nice boy—George. I have studied. Very good boy. He showed me in Bombay. He came to see me in Bombay, last year. He is keeping Jagannatha within his bead bag and chanting.”
I and many thousands—perhaps millions—of people are thankful to George for all the service he rendered to Srila Prabhupada and the Krishna consciousness movement, for making the holy name of Lord Krishna—the Hare Krishna maha-mantra—and the principles of Krishna consciousness so accessible to people all over the world and for attracting so many souls to the all-attractive Supreme Personality of Godhead, Krishna.
Yours in service,
Last night I was blessed to visit with my dear godbrother His Holiness Partha Sarathi Das Goswami at his residence at Govardhana. Upon my arrival, he graciously greeted me with the verse from Srimad-Bhagavatam (1.13.10)
tirtha-bhutaù svayam vibho
“My Lord, devotees like your good self are verily holy places personified. Because you carry the Personality of Godhead within your heart, you turn all places into places of pilgrimage.”
For two and a half hours we had intimate talks about Krishna consciousness, which reminded me of Srila Prabhupada’s purport to Sri Caitanya-caritamrta (Adi 1.50):
dadami buddhi-yogam tam
yena mam upayanti te
“To those who are constantly devoted to serving Me with love, I give the understanding by which they can come to Me.”
Purport: “This verse of the Bhagavad-gita (10.10) clearly states how Govindadeva instructs His bona fide devotee. The Lord declares that by enlightenment in theistic knowledge He awards attachment for Him to those who constantly engage in His transcendental loving service. This awakening of divine consciousness enthralls a devotee, who thus relishes his eternal transcendental mellow. Such an awakening is awarded only to those convinced by devotional service about the transcendental nature of the Personality of Godhead. They know that the Supreme Truth, the all-spiritual and all-powerful person, is one without a second and has fully transcendental senses. He is the fountainhead of all emanations. Such pure devotees, always merged in knowledge of Krsna and absorbed in Krsna consciousness, exchange thoughts and realizations as great scientists exchange their views and discuss the results of their research in scientific academies. Such exchanges of thoughts in regard to Krsna give pleasure to the Lord, who therefore favors such devotees with all enlightenment.”
If we are at all aware of how dependent we are on God—for the air we breathe, the water we drink, the food we eat, and our very ability to eat and drink and breathe, to think and feel and will, and to walk, talk, and sense—we will feel grateful and want to reciprocate God’s kindness. We will want to do something for He (or She or They) who has done, and continues to do, so much for us.
We often take things for granted until we lose them. I use my right hand to chant on meditation beads, and one morning I found that I had severe pain in my hand and could no longer use it for chanting. I had taken the use of my hand for granted, but when I lost its use, I resolved to never take it for granted again and to always use it in the best way in God’s service.
How can we attempt to return some of God’s favor, some of God’s care and love for us? My spiritual master, Srila Bhaktivedanta Swami Prabhupada, gave one answer:
“Whatever you have got by pious or impious activities, you cannot change. But you can change your position, by Krishna consciousness. That you can change. Other things you cannot change. If you are white, you cannot become black, or if you are black, you cannot become white. That is not possible. But you can become a first-class Krishna conscious person. Whether you are black or white, it doesn’t matter. This is Krishna consciousness. Therefore our endeavor should be how to become Krishna conscious. Other things we cannot change. This is not possible.
tasyaiva hetoh prayateta kovido
na labhyate yad bhramatam upary adhah
tal labhyate duhkhavad anyatah sukham
kalena sarvatra gabhira-ramhasa
Kalena, by time, you will get whatever you are destined. Don’t bother about so-called economic development. So far as food is concerned, Krishna is supplying. Eko bahunam yo vidadhati kaman. He is supplying even cats and dogs and ants. Why not you? There is no need of bothering Krishna, ‘God, give us our daily bread.’ He will give you. Don’t bother. Try to become very faithful servant of God. ‘Oh, God has given me so many things. So let me give my energy to serve Krishna.’ This is required. This is Krishna consciousness. ‘I have taken so much, life after life, from Krishna. Now let me dedicate this life to Krishna.’ This is Krishna consciousness. ‘I will not let this life go uselessly like cats and dogs. Let me utilize it for Krishna consciousness.’ ”
I pray that I will dedicate this life and everything I have—everything God has given me—fully in God’s service, following His pure devotees.
manasa, deho, geho, yo kichu mora
arpilun tuya pade, nanda-kisora
“Mind, body, and home, whatever may be mine, I surrender at Your lotus feet, O youthful son of Nanda!” (Bhaktivinoda Thakura, Saranagati)
Yours in service,