Saturday, June 2, 2007

Krishna Keshava Krishna Keshava

From the Visnu Sahasranam comes this verse spoken by Lord Siva:

ka iti brahmano nama
iso 'ham sarva-dehinam
avam tavanga-sambhutau
tasmat kesava-nama-bhak

"Ka is a name of Brahma, and I (Siva) am known as Isa,
because I am the master of all living entities
who reside in material bodies.
O Lord Krishna, because we are born from your body,
you are therefore known as Kesava,
the father of Brahma and Siva."

(translation by Sriman Kusakratha das)

Friday, June 1, 2007

More Thoughts on Sadhu Sanga

I sent yesterday’s blog entry, The Dilemma of Association (see 31 May entry below), to one of my godbrothers, B.A. Paramadwaiti Swami, who is the leader of a very large and successful mission. He sent me back a long email filled with his observations. Because this subject is so important, i would like to share some of my godbrother’s points in today’s blog. I would also like to solicit your feedback on this topic. You can add your comments by clicking on the “comments” link below, or by sending an email to me at:

Here are some of the observations made by Paramadwaiti Swami on the subject of sadhu sanga.

“What did Srila Prabhupada do when he was in a similar situation? He helped some godbrothers with their mission until he felt that his vision could only be accommodated in his own mission, (which was) his guru’s mission as it revealed itself through him.”

“We talk about this mission or that, this swami or that. We compare and are sometimes generous when we like a person and sometimes overcritical if we are upset with something in the connection with the mission we mention. It is natural that we are upset with something if we are not totally absorbed in our service. (If we are absorbed, then) we see everything as Krishna sent for our own enlightenment.”

“Sadhu sanga has the distinct characteristic that it refers to association with devotees we truly love and respect. Or at least we want to help them unconditionally if we consider they are (still) immature.”

“The guru does not start a physical mission. It is a spiritual mission and all his disciples have a duty to continue his legacy by being faithful to the essence of his teachings. Be loyal to Srila Prabhupada and do not worry about bricks and sand, committees and resolutions, but rather (to) the nectar you received.”

“It is Krishna’s will whether someone is seen as guru by another, or is your father-mother or happens to be your husband-wife. Nothing can change that except Krishna through another intervention. You better appreciate it or move on. Never disturb the good faith of others, because your own faith would also be shaken.”

“We need many centers of sadhu sanga. Are you dear reader, ready to give your love and support to a particular vaisnava? Or are you ready to tolerate to be the helmsman of a temple or mission where so much honor and support will be given to you as sri guru’s representative and all problems as well? Are you ready to manage every penny which comes to you
as Krishna’s sole property or do you prefer to represent somebody who has that integrity?”

“Go to the real issues— serving the legacy of Srila Prabhupada.There is unlimited preaching to be done. To continue where he left us, or where you see the need arise and feel inspiration to take action. Srila Prabhupada took so many actions and that kept us jumping and singing his glories.”

These are some of my godbrother’s astute realizations. For me, the main point is: we must act on the basis of sadhu sanga. We must either get it or give it. In this age, we can even create “virtual sadhu sanga” by applying technology to share our vision and realizations. How we get or give sadhu sanga depends solely on our own nature and our capacity. It is very individual. If we need the physical company of devotees (and practically all of us do) then we must search out some devotees or community where we feel welcome. Or start our own sanga and become the leader. But we must commit to sadhu sanga, for the purpose of trying to please Srila Prabhupada.

We must be ready to make another sacrifice just as we did in our youth. This time our eyes are open. We will not sacrifice our ideals or our integrity that comes from many painful experiences. When we see devotees or institutions that, in our opinion, are not pleasing to Prabhupada, we should keep them at a distance. But that does not give us the right to renounce sadhu sanga. What we need to renounce are things like our complacency, the luxury of being overly critical, and our bad habits.
But sadhu sanga is our birthright, given to us by our spiritual father. We must embrace it in the same spirit of selfless love as he gave it to us.

Thursday, May 31, 2007

The Dilemma of Association

The principle of sadhu sanga, association with devotees, is central to the teachings of the acaryas. Srila Prabhupada also stressed this principle in his writings and classes.

“You must live with the devotees, even if you are not satisfied. Any condition, you should be satisfied. Because as soon as you leave the company, you become again rogues, again demons. At least you'll be saved if you keep with the company of the devotees. Satam prasangan mama virya-samvidah. If you give up the company, then you again become rogues and demons. Therefore you must be satisfied, in whatever condition. ‘Whatever Krsna has given, that's all right.’ Satisfied. Surrendered to Krsna. And that satisfaction can be achieved only when one is fully surrendered to Krsna. If I have surrendered to Krsna, Krsna has taken my charge, Krsna says, aham tvam sarva-papebhyo moksayisyami, then why shall I bother myself? If I am thinking, ‘I am suffering,’ it is also Krsna's grace. We should take like that. Even in my consideration, I am in a position which is apparently suffering, we must accept as Krsna's grace: ‘All right, I have surrendered to Krsna. If Krsna is giving me suffering, that's all right.’ That is surrender. ‘Oh, I have surrendered to Krsna, and now Krsna is giving me suffering? Oh, leave Krsna consciousness.’ That is not surrender.” (Prabhupada lecture, 30/5/72)

But how to reconcile this clear instruction with the grave dilemma of our times? What is that dilemma? That the vehicle created by Srila Prabhupada to provide association has become so mixed with personal ambition, separate interest and institutional self indulgence that Srila Prabhupada himself would not recognize it as his own, despite the fact that he sits on his vyasasan and is “worshipped” daily in these temples.

I’m not saying that the devotees in these temples are not devotees. Even the leaders who are in most cases misguiding and misusing resources are devotees. But the mood in these temples has become so mixed with self promotion and institutional malaise that it is no longer a sanga for 99% of Srila Prabhupada’s direct disciples. There is no room for them to feel inspired. And Iskcon as an institution, still run by disciples of Srila Prabhupada, does not consider this a problem. The issue is never addressed except in the most superficial and condescending ways, such as providing 3 nights of free accommodation and prasadam to Prabhupada disciples at the annual Mayapur festival.

So this is not Iskcon’s problem. It is our problem, the disciples of Prabhupada and of any other vaisnava guru who feel that the institution of their guru has abandoned them. Whatever the reality is, the need for association remains. Individually we need to pray to the Lord to guide us and give us direction. Either we become friends with a godbrother who has started his own mission and join him, or cooperate with another godbrother to try to start our own mission, or if we think we have sufficient strength, to open our own ‘preaching center’ and invite people to join us. But somehow or other, we cannot abandon this central principle of sadhu sanga.

Wednesday, May 30, 2007

My Dear Mind

Below are some English lyrics i wrote based on the famous bhajan,
Bhajahu re mana.

For more original bhajans in English, and free song downloads,
please see my website:

my dear mind, if you wanna give up fear,
worship the lotus feet, sri nanda nandana is near.

a real saint, in this world is most rare,
but he’s the only boat, crossing from here to there.

you won’t find speculators on the cremation ground,
but go to any town and you’ll see heartless men making useless sounds.

24/7, they’re working without sleep,
serving technology, that godless corporate thief.

collecting happiness— that’s oh so brief,
but life is flickering— like a raindrop on a leaf.

my dear mind, if you wanna give up fear,
worship the lotus feet, sri nanda nandana is near.

Tuesday, May 29, 2007

What is the solution?

We are all struggling in this world. Spirits in the Material World is a famous song by the band, Police. Even Sting knew that we are spirit souls trapped in a material conception of reality. But what is the way out?

For that answer, we cannot get help from the dust of the feet of rock musicians or politicians or even from 3rd class neophyte devotees in the position of sannyasis. The only ones who can help us are the mahajans, great devotees who have no more material ambition.

Prahlada Maharaja says:
naisam matis tavad urukramanghrim
sprsaty anarthapagamo yad-arthah
mahiyasam pada-rajo-'bhisekam
niskincananam na vrnita yavat
 [SB 7.5.32]

And Srila Prabhupada commented on this verse when speaking on Narasinga Caturdasi in Los Angeles in May, 1972:

“Therefore one has to take shelter of a pure devotee. That is the only solution. So long one does not approach a pure devotee,’mahiyasam,’ ‘niskincananam,’ a great personality, who has no more any material interest, and takes the dust of his lotus feet on the head.... ‘Naisam matis tavad urukramanghrim': so long one does not approach such personality, there is no possibility of becoming Krsna conscious. As soon as one approaches the pure devotee and takes the dust of his lotus feet and puts it on his head, immediately, ‘anartha apagamah,' he'll be freed from all this nonsense. That means he'll forget this idea that ‘materially we can advance.’ This is the process.

So we have to approach a ‘niskincana,’ one who has nothing to do with this material world. His only ambition is to serve Krsna. And if somebody approaches him and takes the dust of his lotus feet, then he can understand.”

Monday, May 28, 2007

The Test

"Everyone's talented occupation shall be tested for perfection, when used for the satisfaction of the Supreme Lord or his representative." This is from Srimad Bhagavatam, Canto I, quoted to me in a letter i received from my spiritual master, om visnupada A.C. Bhaktivedanta Swami Prabhupada, in August, 1971.

Sunday, May 27, 2007


Today is Ekadasi. It means the 11th day. Ekadasi comes twice in a lunar month, 11 days after the new moon, and 11 days after the full moon. It’s a day given importance by devotees of Sri Krishna or Vishnu. They observe it by fasting from food or from grains, and by increasing their bhajan, devotional practices. Ekadasi is well known in India as a Hindu custom, but it can be understood from both a scientific and spiritual perspective. The best explanation of Ekadasi i have seen comes from Pujapada Bhakti Raksaka Sridhara Maharaja.

Srila Sridhar Maharaj: Ekadasi is considered to be the favourite day of Krsna, when devotees refrain from material activities. Ekadasi is aprakrta. Aprakrta means which is like prakrta but is supramundane. We are warned that Ekadasi is not mundane, though it seems to be. Because it is influenced by the moon Ekadasi seems to be mundane. The watery portion in the body increases at this time, due to the influence of the moon, just as the high tide and low tide of the ocean are also effected by the moon. As we approach the full moon and the new moon, the watery portion of our bodies is enhanced by the movement of the earth, the moon and the sun, and thereby the enjoying spirit is also developed.

So fasting is necessary to meet with that external movement of nature. Fasting can save us from that peculiar reaction. Fasting has been recommended, and especially, if one can't fast at all, then one may take some process of diet that will give less cause for excitement, therefore one may take anukalpa (non-grains). We fast to check the senses, because the senses by the natural flow become more intense at that time. The result is, that one will be excited and want to enjoy - to encroach on the environment. So this unfair encroachment of one's own self is to be controlled, therefore this fasting has been recommended - this is one way.

We take some types of food, and not others, because they are considered to be less injurious, and less exciting to the body. Also it is mentioned in Hari-bhakti-vilasa, that some particular sins are fond of taking shelter in those foods that we reject. Papa means a type of sin that is very fond of taking shelter in grains and those places which we surely want to avoid. First-class fasting means without even taking water (nirjal). Those who cannot do without food, may take fruit, roots, and milk.

Also, from the spiritual perspective, Krsna Himself also feels more necessity for enjoyment, and when Krsna feels more necessity, the devotees have a greater chance to offer service. The time is more valuable for them, because Krsna wants to enjoy, and at that time, devotees should be busy to supply the things for His enjoyment - so much so that they won't have any time for their own necessities. So, the first reason is to please Krsna and the secondary reason is, that by fasting, we can make our body dry and so our enjoying spirit will be lessened. This is the general explanation. There are so many other things also.

Everything is conscious, everything is personal, and Ekadasi has her own personal character, and she devotes herself with all her company in the service of Krsna. She does not take any food or anything else, and also does not allow others in her group to take food or waste time, but is always engaged in the service of Krsna. We are told that Ekadasi and Dvadasi are favoured by Hari - the underlying cause is already explained. Hari will be pleased with any small service performed on these days. So, Dvadasi and Ekadasi are both considered the favourite days of Krsna. Ekadasi observance is compulsory - though Dvadasi is also honoured as the favourite of Hari, still Ekadasi has preference. Dvadasi has preference over Ekadasi only in eight cases, determined by the combination of naksatra, tithi, etc. - when we observe Maha-Dvadasi and not Ekadasi.

On Ekadasi and Dvadasi, even a little service gives some greater remuneration. Remuneration means that our serving attitude and our earnestness will be enhanced at that particular time. In a deeper sense, this means that Hari at that time wants to accept more service. That is the fortune of the servitors, that Hari demands more of the servitors, so the importance for the servitors increases at that time during Ekadasi and Dvadasi. Also on Dvadasi, we do not pick the leaves of tulasi because it is considered that Tulasi-devi has observed fasting on Ekadasi.

It is also noted that service is the first consideration. If I fast and do not take any water, then I may have to lie down and not be able to do any service to the Lord. That is not desirable. So, to take anukalpa and do service to the Lord is better. Service is better than sitting idly. So, if prasada-seva is taken as service, this is best. But at the same time, the individual position of a devotee should be considered. In this way we honour Ekadasi.