Aug 112022
 

Jnanasim, the sword of knowledge, is given by Krsna, and when one serves the guru and Krsna in order to hold the sword of Krsna’s instructions, Balarama gives one strength. Balarama is Nityananda. Vrajendra-nandana yei, saci-suta haila sei, balarama ha-ila nitai. This bala—Balarama—comes with Sri Caitanya Mahaprabhu, and both of Them are so merciful that in this Age of Kali one may very easily take shelter of Their lotus feet. They come especially to deliver the fallen souls of this age, papi tapi yata chila, hari-name uddharila. Their weapon is sankirtana, hari-nama. Thus one should accept the sword of knowledge from Krsna and be strong with the mercy of Balarama. We are therefore worshiping Krsna-Balarama in Vrndavana. In the Mundaka Upanisad (3.2.4) it is said:

nayam atma bala-hinena labhyo
  na ca pramadat tapaso vapy alingat
etair upayair yatate yas tu vidvams
  tasyaisa atma visate brahma-dhama

 One cannot attain the goal of life without the mercy of Balarama. Sri Narottama dasa Thakura therefore says, nitaiyera karuna habe, vraje radha-krsna pabe: when one receives the mercy of Balarama, Nityananda, one can attain the lotus feet of Radha and Krsna very easily.

se sambandha nahi yara, brtha janma gela tara,
vidya-kule hi karibe tara

 If one has no connection with Nitai, Balarama, then even though one is a very learned scholar or jnani or has taken birth in a very respectable family, these assets will not help him. We must therefore conquer the enemies of Krsna consciousness with the strength received from Balarama.

Srimad-Bhagavatam 7.15.45 purport

 

Aug 112022
 

Today is the appearance day of Lord Balarama, the Personality of Godhead who is the first expansion of Lord Krishna, the original Personality of Godhead. Krishna states in the Bhagavad-gita (4.7):

yada yada hi dharmasya
  glanir bhavati bharata
abhyutthanam adharmasya
  tadatmanam srjamy aham

“Whenever and wherever there is a decline in religious practice, O descendant of Bharata, and a predominant rise of irreligion—at that time I descend Myself.”

Krishna says, srjamy aham: “I manifest Myself.” He doesn’t take birth like an ordinary human being but manifests Himself in His original spiritual form. For what purpose?

paritranaya sadhunam
  vinasaya ca duskrtam
dharma-samsthapanarthaya
  sambhavami yuge yuge

“To deliver the pious and to annihilate the miscreants, as well as to reestablish the principles of religion, I Myself appear, millennium after millennium.” (Gita 4.8) He manifests Himself to protect the devotees, annihilate the demons, and reestablish the principles of religion.

In every sphere of activity in the material world there is deterioration; everything in the material world declines. A new house, for example, is very nice, but it gradually deteriorates, and eventually, when too old, it has to be rebuilt. In the same way, our performance of spiritual duties deteriorates, whether we are individuals, families, communities, or a society. And so the Lord comes repeatedly to reestablish religious practice. He appears in order to establish religious principles (dharma), but over time religious practice declines, and so He manifests Himself again and again. We all know how prone we are to allow our practice to deteriorate. Thus, on auspicious occasions like today, Lord Balarama’s appearance day, we can pray to the Lord to manifest Himself and help us to become reestablished in our religious principles and practice.

What Lord Krishna said in the two verses quoted from the Bhagavad-gita is explained elaborately in Srimad-Bhagavatam: When the earth was overburdened by demonic rulers, who had amassed large military forces armed with deadly weapons to wage war for personal gain, Lord Brahma, the chief of the demigods in this universe, approached the shore of the ocean of milk. There, accompanied by Lord Shiva and other celestial beings, he worshipped Lord Vishnu, the supreme God of all gods. In response, Lord Vishnu imparted instructions, which Lord Brahma in turn conveyed to the demigods. He told them that very soon the Lord would appear on earth to diminish the burden of the world and that the demigods, to assist Him, should take birth in the Yadu dynasty. Lord Brahma further stated that Lord Balarama, who is also known as Sankarsana, would precede the Lord and serve Him in every respect:

vasudeva-kalanantah
  sahasra-vadanah svarat
agrato bhavita devo
  hareh priya-cikirsaya

“The foremost manifestation of Krsna is Sankarsana, who is known as Ananta. He is the origin of all incarnations within this material world. Previous to the appearance of Lord Krsna, this original Sankarsana will appear as Baladeva, just to please the Supreme Lord Krsna in His transcendental pastimes.” (SB 10.1.24)

Lord Brahma told them as well that Yogamaya, the personal potency of the Lord, would also appear and assist the Lord in His mission.

Immediately preceding the appearance of Krishna and Balarama, Vasudeva, a great devotee in the Yadu dynasty, wedded Devaki, another pure devotee. After their marriage, Vasudeva mounted his chariot with his bride to return home, and Devaki’s brother Kamsa, to please his sister, took the reins of the horses to drive the chariot. Along the way, Kamsa heard a voice from an invisible source, which told him, “You fool, the eighth child of the woman you are carrying will kill you!” Kamsa, a great demon, became enraged and was ready to kill his own sister on the day of her marriage. But Vasudeva intervened and appealed to him to desist. He said, “How could a qualified person like you kill a woman—your own sister—on the occasion of her marriage? In any case, one day you will die, and in your next life you will have to suffer the reactions to your present activities.” Still, Kamsa was so shameless and cruel that he persisted, and Vasudeva, to save his wife from imminent death, told him, “You have nothing to fear from Devaki. According to the omen, it is her son who will kill you. So I promise to deliver all her sons, who are the cause of your fear, into your hands.” Kamsa, having faith in Vasudeva’s word, was pacified. Still, he imprisoned Vasudeva and Devaki. And year after year, as their children were born, Vasudeva dutifully delivered them to Kamsa, who mercilessly killed them.

Now we shall read from Srimad-Bhagavatam, Canto Ten, Chapter Two: “Prayers by the Demigods.” Continue reading »

Aug 082022
 

We read from Sri Caitanya-caritamrta, Madhya-lila, Chapter 19:

TEXT 1

vrndavaniyam rasa-keli-vartam
  kalena luptam nija-saktim utkah
sancarya rupe vyatanot punah sa
  prabhur vidhau prag iva loka-srstim

TRANSLATION

Before the creation of this cosmic manifestation, the Lord enlightened the heart of Lord Brahma with the details of the creation and manifested the Vedic knowledge. In exactly the same way, the Lord, being anxious to revive the Vrndavana pastimes of Lord Krsna, impregnated the heart of Rupa Gosvami with spiritual potency. By this potency, Srila Rupa Gosvami could revive the activities of Krsna in Vrndavana, activities almost lost to memory. In this way, He spread Krsna consciousness throughout the world.

TEXT 2

jaya jaya sri-caitanya jaya nityananda
jayadvaita-candra jaya gaura-bhakta-vrnda

TRANSLATION

All glories to Lord Sri Caitanya Mahaprabhu! All glories to Lord Nityananda! All glories to Advaitacandra! And all glories to all the devotees of the Lord!

TEXT 114

loka-bhida-bhaye prabhu ‘dasasvamedhe’ yana
rupa-gosanire siksa kara’na sakti sancariya

TRANSLATION

Due to the great crowds in Prayaga, Sri Caitanya Mahaprabhu went to a place called Dasasvamedha-ghata. It was there that the Lord instructed Sri Rupa Gosvami and empowered him in the philosophy of devotional service.

PURPORT by Srila Prabhupada

Parasya saktir vividhaiva sruyate. The Supreme Lord has multipotencies, which the Lord bestows on His fortunate devotees. The Lord has a special potency by which He spreads the Krsna consciousness movement. This is explained in the Caitanya-caritamrta (Antya 7.11): kali-kalera dharma—krsna-nama-sankirtana/ krsna-sakti vina nahe tara pravartana. “One cannot spread the holy name of Krsna without being specifically empowered by Lord Krsna.” A devotee who receives this power from the Lord must be considered very fortunate. The Krsna consciousness movement is spreading to enlighten people about their real position, their original relationship with Krsna. One requires Krsna’s special power in order to be able to do this. People forget their relationship with Krsna and work under the spell of maya life after life, transmigrating from one body to another. This is the process of material existence. The Supreme Lord Sri Krsna personally descends to teach people that their position in the material world is a mistaken one. The Lord again comes as Sri Caitanya Mahaprabhu to induce people to take to Krsna consciousness. The Lord also empowers a special devotee to teach people their constitutional position.

COMMENT by Giriraj Swami

Lord Chaitanya met Srila Rupa Gosvami at Prayaga. Because of the great crowds that surrounded Lord Chaitanya, He took Rupa Gosvami to a secluded place called Dasasvamedha-ghata. In 1971, when Srila Prabhupada traveled to Allahabad for the Ardha-kumbha-mela, he also visited Dasasvamedha-ghata with his disciples. Lord Chaitanya empowered Srila Rupa Gosvami with His potency to revive Krishna’s pastimes in Vrindavan and thus spread Krishna consciousness. Only one who is empowered with the potency of the Lord, by the mercy of the Lord, can actually spread Krishna consciousness all over the world. Although Rupa Gosvami lived simply in Vrindavan, wearing a loincloth and sleeping one night under one tree and the next night under another, he wrote books that for generations have served to enlighten devotees all over the world. Even now we are reading The Nectar of Devotion, which is a summary study of his Bhakti-rasamrta-sindhu, and The Nectar of Instruction, which is his Upadesamrta. And we are benefiting both from the example Srila Rupa Gosvami set when he lived in Vrindavan and from the books he wrote. Continue reading »

Aug 082022
 

Today we are celebrating the beginning of Jhulana-yatra, which is steeped in the moods of Vrindavan. When I first began reading Srila Prabhupada’s books, I was struck by the following description in the introduction to Teachings of Lord Chaitanya: “Actually, Vrindaban is as good as the Spiritual Vrindaban, and therefore Krishna Das Kaviraj Goswami says that underneath one of the desire trees of Vrindaban there is a nice throne decorated with valuable jewels on which Radharani and Krishna are seated. And His dear friends and the gopis are all serving Them: somebody is singing, somebody is dancing, somebody is offering betel nuts and refreshment, somebody is decorating with flowers.

“In India it is still a fashion of recreation to sit on a swinging throne, and, if it is moving, it is very refreshing. In each and every home they have a hanging throne, and when a man comes home from the office, if it is practical, it is moved from time to time and he becomes refreshed. So, similarly, the same system prevails, especially in the month of Sravana, July, when there is the function called Jhulana. During Jhulana, in all the houses—not only of Vrindaban but all over India—the people hang thrones. In every house and village they place Radha and Krishna and decorate Them with flowers and move the throne and offer dancing and kirtan. . . . The temples are decorated, and thousands of people come as spectators. Generally, people go to Vrindaban at that time. Krishna and Radha are seated on the throne, surrounded by His friends.”

Leading into these two paragraphs, he wrote, “There is an acharya who describes Vrindaban: When my mind becomes cleansed of all dirty hankering for material enjoyment, then I shall be able to see Vrindaban! So Vrindaban is actually experienced by persons who have finished with material enjoyment. Everything is spiritual. This becomes revealed. . . . As you become more Krishna conscious, as you become more advanced, everything is revealed to you.”

Although I am still waiting for that qualification and that revelation, even in my present state, by divine mercy I can relish some of the flavors of Vrindavan during Jhulana-yatra.

Hare Krishna.

Yours in service,
Giriraj Swami

Jul 262022
 

Yesterday my dear godbrother HH Siddhartha Swami Maharaja came to visit me in Carpinteria. He was the head pujari in Juhu for many years when I was the temple president, and we shared many fond remembrances of our time together in service to Srila Prabhupada and Sri Sri Radha-Rasabihari.

Now Maharaja is developing a huge temple complex in Raipur, the capital of Chhattisgarh. The project is 70 percent complete, and he hopes to open it next year.

Maharaja has become a learned scholar who knows many verses, mantras, and shastras. I was impressed with how, by Srila Prabhupada’s grace, he has developed in devotional service. We had a blissful time together, and I felt that mood for quite some time after he left. It was kind of him to come and visit me on his last day in LA, before flying to onward destinations.

Hare Krishna.

Yours in service,
Giriraj Swami

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