- Laurelhurst Park. Portland, Oregon
Excerpt from Radha Damodara Vilas … Vaiyasaki Das Adhikari
Submitted by Manoj
A favorite slogan of the local people when you arrive in town is, "Oh, you just missed the good weather!" More often than not it rains in Portland. In September the clouds roll in and don't disappear until June. It is one of the rainiest places in the United States. Whenever the sun peeks out from behind the clouds it is a cause for celebration. Of course, the advantage of the abundant rainfall is that flowers grow in profusion. Especially roses. Portland is known as the Rose City Portlanders are proud of their rose gardens. Even on empty lots roses grow. Every year there is a rose festival and awards are given for the best gardens.
Today is a beautiful, sunny day. That always brings out happy smiles. At Laurelhurst Park a festival is in progress. Before even entering the park from South East 39th Street, one can hear voices singing and a band playing. The sound fills the air, attracting the attention of everyone going to the park this Sunday afternoon.
However, this is not a function sponsored by the city. Nor is this some rock band striving for recognition. The occasion is the Puspa-abhiseka (A ceremony of bathing the Deities with flower petals). Festival, celebrated since 1971 by the local branch of the International Society for Krishna Consciousness. A beautiful grassy meadow is set apart by colorful pandals fashioned in India. Various booths display books and serve vegetarian delicacies. Shaven-headed, saffron-robed young men and bright-faced, sari-clad young ladies dance and chant to a kirtan band up on a stage. The band sits on an oriental rug, playing instruments in the fashion of Indian musicians. They have an esraj, tamboura, shenai, flute, clay drums, and hand cymbals. Yet these musicians are not from India. They are all-American boys from the heartland.
The transcendental sound vibration flows through the air, attracting the attention of everybody in the park today. The music is joyous, exuberant, and highly attractive to the mind and heart. The lead singer sits behind his harmonium, pumping away, swaying back and forth, eyes closed in rapt absorption, and chanting Hare Krishna Hare Krishna,
Krishna Krishna Hare Hare / Hare Rama Hare Rama, Rama Rama Hare Hare. The musicians accompany his chanting with great energy, singing along in response. The music is melodious and each kirtan weaves into the next.
The entire scene is so unusual, yet at the same time so enchanting, that it attracts other young people to join in the dancing. The gathering is relatively small, about four hundred people participating in an apparently spontaneous happening. Both hippies and devotees hold hands, joyously dancing in four concentric circles, each circle alternately going clockwise and counter-clockwise. The potent sound vibration of the maha-mantra pierces the soul of everyone present: Hare Krishna Hare Krishna, Krishna Krishna Hare Hare / Hare Rama Hare Rama, Rama Rama Hare Hare. The singer has such a taste for the chanting that it becomes instantly infectious and contagious. Many in the audience feel themselves transported to the spiritual realm. The young ladies dance so vibrantly, their colorful saris swirling gracefully to the music, that everyone is swept up in the joyous mood, laughing and smiling at one another.
In the center of the meadow before the stage is a temple made entirely of fresh roses. Ordinary park-goers are amazed to see this structure fashioned with flowers. Seated within the temple on a wonderful altar, also entirely decorated with roses, are the resplendent forms of Sri Sri Radha-Damodara, who appear like precious jewels within Their flower setting. A devotee stands to the right fanning Them with a camara whisk
The fragrance of roses permeates the atmosphere. Anyone can enter the flower temple to offer obeisances with folded hands, or by kneeling down and touching their head to the grass. Some bring an offering for the Deities, like flowers or incense. Senior citizens
gawk in amazement as they watch these young people come forward bearing gifts. With Radha-Damodara presiding from Their rose altar, the mood is Vaikuntha on earth.
Srimad-Bhagavatam explains that Lord Sri Krishna, the Supreme Personality of Godhead, is non-different from His names, pastimes, paraphernalia and entourage. And here in Laurelhurst Park this realization strikes deep into the heart. Sri Sri Radha-Damodara are directly the Supreme Personality of Godhead and His eternal consort in Their Deity forms, along with Their devotees, who are directly the Lord's entourage and, therefore, also non-different from the Lord. As stated in SnmadBhfigavatam, "Sri Chaitanya Mahaprabhu has inaugurated the Hare Krishna movement, which is not different from Krishna, the Supreme Personality of Godhead. If one associates with this movement, he directly associates with the Supreme Personality of Godhead.
When the chanting reaches a crescendo, the drums and cymbals step aside to allow the other instruments to alone accompany an ancient refrain; "oth namo Bagavate vasudevaya..." over and over until... "RadhaDamodara ki, jaya!"
The music stops and the dancers drop to the grass, happy to take a few minutes rest. Their faces beam with joyful smiles. Curious onlookers stop to hear the singer as he begins to speak. He is a young, shaven-headed monk with a deep golden tan. Although dressed in the saffron garments of a sannyasi, he is very handsome. His voice beckons the ear.
"If some of you haven't heard this type of meditation before, it's called mantra meditation. The word mana means 'mind' and tra means 'to free'. So the songs we're singing in the ancient Sanskrit language of India are actually very powerful sound formulas which are meant to free the mind of all anxieties and all misconceptions of ourselves and everything around us. This mantra meditation, actually, is very easily practiced. Even a child can allow his body to sway and allow the sound vibration to swim around his being.
"This sound vibration is so wonderful, that if you allow your mind to absorb it, then automatically you reach a reservoir of pleasure. That's what the name 'Hare' means. 'Hare' means 'the reservoir of pleasure'. 'Krishna' means 'all attractive', and 'Rama' means 'the enjoyer'. So these three words 'Hare', 'Krishna', and 'Rama', are put into this formula: Hare Krishna Hare Krishna, Krishna Krishna Hare Hare / Hare Rama Hare Rama, Rama Rama Hare Hare. And this formula will stop the wandering of the mind. It will stop the mind from accepting one thing and then rejecting it for another. Accepting, rejecting-this is usually what our mind does. It accepts something for pleasure, then rejects it and goes on to something else for pleasure. In this way, the mind is always kept wandering and never finds that reservoir of pleasure.
"So in yoga the whole idea is to come in touch with this reservoir of pleasure, so that the mind no longer has to reject and go on to something else, but can remain ever expanding in this ecstasy This is what we experience from this chanting. And the proof of the pudding is in tasting it. We invite everyone to dive into this pudding; dive into the nectarean flow of this mantra. Hare Krishna!"
The audience appreciates the young man's brief talk. Many respond by holding up their right hand to flash the 'V' sign for peace. Unknowingly they have acknowledged his words with, "Jaya!"
"So we're going to chant some more songs along with Hare Krishna, and then there'll be a lecture on this science of yoga, and a lecture about this festival-what we're celebrating here today with this little castle we're building out of flowers. And then after that we'll serve a beautiful vegetarian feast."
He begins chanting anew, "govinda jaya, jaya, gopd1a jaya, jaya..." He completes the song again with "om namo bagavate vasudevaya..." This brings the kirtan to a close for the start of his lecture. Everyone present gathers around, curious to hear his talk.
He addresses the problems of modern society so relevant to these young people. The young monk communicates personally, as if speaking directly one on one. His preaching reveals a deep realization of eternal truths. He speaks in an attractive way that is non-threatening to the audience. More people draw near to hear his words of wisdom. Everyone can appreciate that he's not just talking about spiritual life; he is actually there. He ends the talk on a personal note.
"My name is Vishnujana Swami. I've been in this movement for about seven years now. We're traveling around the country in a big Greyhound bus. It's parked right over there, in fact."
With a wave of his arm he directs everyone's attention to a large blue and chrome bus parked over to the side by the trees. "Hare Krishna" is prominently displayed in the front destination slot.
"It's fixed up like a temple inside, and we carry all this stuff which comes out of its belly, just like a big transcendental fish. It rides into college campuses. It rides into scenes like Berkeley, Santa Cruz-different places all over the country-and it unfolds a festival just like the one we're having today. It's not an ordinary bus. It feels like a gigantic transcendental fish that kind of swims around in this material world. It's on its way out, and we're inviting other people to get on board too.
"So any of you who would like to get out of this ocean of birth and death, this ocean of old age and disease, and enter into our real atmosphere of eternity, knowledge, and bliss, our invitation is open to all of you, to chant, to dance, to feast-not to necessarily join our religion. Not to shave your head, not to put on robes, not to do all the things that we do, but to do that which was done by all great souls-singing the glories of the Absolute, dancing in ecstasy, and feasting on beautiful food first offered with love to the Absolute. That's our invitation."
He finishes his talk to a round of applause and begins another kirtan. The sound of the chanting quickly envelops the park once again. Standing in the crowd is a tall African American in the prime of his manhood. Impressed by the words of the Swami, he draws closer, attracted by the deep feeling and commitment of the young
Sri Caitanya Mahaprabhu's gift
Submitted bt Manoj
From a lecture by Srila Prabhupada in New
Lecture by Srila Prabhupada in Atlanta.
Nitai: "Let me first offer my respectful obeisances unto Lord Caitanya Mahaprabhu, who is the ultimate goal of life for one bereft of all possessions in this material world and is the only meaning for one advancing in spiritual life. Thus let me write about His magnanimous contribution of devotional service in love of God."
sri-caitanyam likhyate 'sya
[Cc. Adi 7.1]
So Krishna dasa Kaviraja Gosvami is writing Caitanya-caritamrta. In each chapter he composes a new verse offering his obeisances to the Lord. So in this Seventh Chapter of Adi-lila he also offers his respect. He began his writing of Caitanya-caritamrta when he was as old as ninety years old in Vrndavana by the order of the Vaisnavas and confirmed by Sri Madana-mohana. So this is the process. One should not be writing in spiritual subject matter without being authorized by some superior authority. It is not ordinary writing. The writing on spiritual subject matter is authoritative. By the order of superior authority, one can write. It is not speculation. Therefore he said that Sri-caitanya likhyate asya: "By the order of superior authority, I am trying to describe Sri Caitanya Mahaprabhu." And what is Sri Caitanya Mahaprabhu? Prema-bhakti-vadanyata. Sri Caitanya Mahaprabhu is preaching prema, means love of Godhead. That is the only necessity to understand in human form of life. Prema pumartho mahan.
There are other necessities for those who are not devotees. Those necessities are dharma artha kamamoksa Generally, in the material world everyone has necessity of gratifying his senses. So sometimes, under the cover of religiosity, they want to satisfy senses. The same thing... Just like one goes to church or temple to mitigate some material necessities. Just like the Christians go to the church for meeting the problems of bread; similarly, the Hindus or the Muslim, everyone goes to church, temple or mosque to pray something material: "God, I am very distressed. Kindly get me relief from this distressed condition." Or "God, I am in need of money, I am very poor. Kindly give me some money." Or any other, "I am now implicated in war." Just like Churchill, he introduced that everyone should go and pray for victory. So England was also praying for victory, and Germany was also praying for victory.
So (chuckles) God is perplexed. (laughter) The thief is praying to God that "This night, I may steal without any hindrances." And the householder is praying, "My Lord, thief may not come here and steal my goods." And God has to adjust everything. So just imagine how much busy is God. There are millions and trillions of living entities. Each one of them, if they are at all interested in God-not all-so they are praying. Everyone is praying, "God, give me this benediction. Give me this benediction." So this is not pure devotional service. For some material profit, one should not become a religious person or devotee of God. Of course, it is better than the person who is not at all interested in God. That is stated in the Bhagavad-gita, catur-vidha bhajante mam sukrtinah arjuna. Unless one is pious, he cannot approach God.
So one should be pious and without any motive, not only pious. Pious is the first condition, who can approach God; otherwise he does not. Na mam duskrtino mudhah prapadyante naradhamah [Bg. 7.15]. These classes of men, duskrtina, miscreants, always committing sinful activities, duskrtina; and mudha, rascals, fools; and naradhamah, lowest of the mankind; mayayapahrta-jnana, whose knowledge has been taken away by maya-such demonic person do not surrender to God. But pious man who has got background, pious activities, such person, when they are distressed, they approach God. They know that God is friend of all living entities. Suhrdam sarva-bhutanam [Bg. 5.29].
Actually, He is the friend. As friend, He is living with the soul as Supersoul. That is stated in the Vedas, that two birds are sitting on the same tree. The tree, this is the tree. This body is tree, and one bird is the individual soul, and the other bird is the Supreme Personality of Godhead, Supersoul. So God is always accompanying the individual soul to turn him back to home, back to Godhead. He is so nice friend. Suhrdam sarva-bhutanam. So if we want peace, then we should understand that "Here is my friend, the supreme friend." Suhrdam sarva-bhutanam. "He is guiding me. So why I am praying to Him for some benefit? He knows my necessities. He will supply if it is required. Why shall I bother Him with prayers granting something, 'Please give me this, give me this'?" There is no necessity. God is omniscient. He knows. And He says in the Bhagavad-gita that "I know the necessities of My devotee, and I supply them." Yoga-ksemam vahamy aham [Bg. 9.22]. Two things are there: one thing, to possess something which we do not have; and we want to protect what we have got. So Krishna says, "Both the things... I give protection of My devotee, whatever he has got, and I supply him whatever he hasn't got." Yoga-ksemam vahamy aham [Bg. 9.22]. He is supplying everyone, but especially to the devotees. That is his special job.
Here Sri Caitanya Mahaprabhu is very, very magnanimous. He is, without asking, He is offering the best benefit, Krishna-prema. So best objective... Our objective, of life should be to understand God. If we, in this life, if we simply understand what is God and what is my relationship with, and begin to act like that, then also our life is successful. Even if we cannot finish the whole job or we fall down from the platform of devotional service, still, we are not loser. Tyaktva sva-dharmam caranambujam harer patet tato yadi bhajan apakvah atha [SB 1.5.17]. This devotional service is the process. Requires some time to fulfill the whole job and become perfect. But even becoming... before becoming perfect, one falls down, he is not loser. The service is so transcendental that whatever you have done, that is your asset. And if you stop, so that is not good, but even if you stop, whatever you have done already, that is your permanent asset. This is the benefit of devotional service. Material thing, if you cannot do it perfectly well, whatever you have done, that is all lost. But in spiritual, whatever you have done, one percent, two percent, three percent, as you have done, that is not lost. Therefore the Sastra says that those who are not devotees, what is their profit? Even they are doing their duties very nicely, what is the profit? Because he remains under the stringent laws of nature. Suppose this life I have done my duty as a politician very nicely, but the next life I become a dog. Then what is the benefit? What is the benefit? To become next life as a dog or god, that will not depend on you; that will depend on the nature. Prakrteh kriyamanani gunaih karmani sarvasah [Bg. 3.27]. It is being automatically done. Two plus two equal to four. Similarly, whatever we are doing, we are preparing for the next life. Karmana. Simply material nature has to give you a post: "Now you have done like this. Take this post." You cannot deny. You cannot say, "No, no, I don't like this post." No, you have to take it. So for the karmis, even they have done their so-called duties very perfectly well, what is the profit? There is no profit, because we are under the control of material nature. But the devotees, whatever little service they have done, that is permanent asset. That is not controlled by nature. That is controlled by God.
And He says in the Bhagavad-gita, yoga-bhrastah sanjayate. Sucinam srimatam gehe yoga-bhrastah sanjäyate. Bhrastah means one who is fallen from this devotional service. So for them also, it is guaranteed a human life. Not only human life, but in very good family. Sucinam Srimatam gehe. Sucinam means by perfectly well behaved, cleansed family, brahmana family. Sucinam. Suci means very clean. So you are becoming all brahmanas. You must remain always very clean. Sucinam, that is called Suci. And muci means unclean. Suci and muci. So don't become muci. (laughter) Yes. Uncleanliness is muci.
Suci is the first-class, cleansed internally and externally human being, and the muci means the low class, very unclean, eating the dead meat, cows and bulls. So Krishna says, "Even one is fallen, he gets his birth in the family of suci." Sucinam. Just like in our society there are small children. You see their behavior. They are coming, offering flower, offering obeisances. That means they are not ordinary children. They have got the opportunity to take birth in the family of Vaisnava, father Vaisnava, mother Vaisnava. And he is getting the opportunity of Krishna consciousness from the very beginning of life. This is called sucinam srimatam gehe.
So if one is fallen from devotional service, he is offered again the opportunity to take birth in the human society. And not only ordinary human being, but devotee, very cleansed, or, next to that, very rich family. These are the two opportunities for the fallen devotees, and what to speak of those who are not fallen. Just imagine. Those who are not fallen, they go directly. Tyaktva deham punar janma naiti mam eti [Bg. 4.9]. Immediately they are transferred to the spiritual world after giving up this body. And those who are fallen, they are not immediately transferred, but they are given the chance again for developing Krishna consciousness and being transferred, transferred to the spiritual world, because one who takes birth in the family of Vaisnava and pure brahmana, he gets the chance again. Just like these children are getting chance again-deity worship, offering to the Vaisnava obeisances, offering some flower, dancing, chanting. He is again getting the opportunity. Although he was fallen in his last birth, that fallen is not so serious. He has got again human body, and he has got chance to be associate with this Krishna consciousness movement. And rich man. Rich man means... Everyone is embarrassed with the maintenance of body. So if one is not embarrassed... To take birth in rich family means he has nothing to think of maintenance. Just like one of our devotee, Mr. Alfred Ford, he is the great-grandson of Mr. Henry Ford. He has given us one big house in Honolulu. The boy came to see me, very nice boy. So this is srimatam gehe, born in rich family, and he has got the opportunity to give something for the service of the Lord. So either you are born in rich family or in poor Vaisnava family, you are not loser. So we should take to Krishna consciousness and try to introduce it very nicely, and even though we fall, there is no loss. The human life is guaranteed and in very good family. That is stated in the Bhagavad-gita.
So here it is said, hinarthadhika-sadhakam sri-caitanyam. [break] Sri Caitanya Mahaprabhu is very kind to the fallen souls. His special mission is to reclaim the fallen souls. That is Caitanya Mahaprabhu's mission. Reclaim the fallen souls means in this age of Kali, almost 99.9%, they are all fallen. Their qualification is mandah. Mandah means they do not know that the human life is meant for qualifying oneself in Krishna consciousness, spiritual consciousness. They do not know. Mandah sumanda-matayo [SB 1.1.10]. Even one is interested about spiritual consciousness, they accept some bogus theory.
So many yogis, swamis, all bluffer, they will take care. Mandah sumanda-matayo. Because Kali-yuga, they are already sophisticated, bewildered, and these people come to cheat, they fall the prey of these cheaters. Sumanda-matayo. Anyone who is preaching something else other than God consciousness, he is a cheater. He is a cheater. Sumanda-matayo. Because real progress of life is to become God conscious. That is the real progress. And without God consciousness, the so-called yogis, so-called meditation...
Real progress of life is to know what is God and what is my relationship with Him and how to act in that relationship. That is real life. But they do not know it. Na te viduh svartha-gatim hi visnum [SB 7.5.31]. They do not know it. They think, "By this yoga practice, I shall be perfect, my material condition will be improved," and so on, so on. They have got their own theories and... But that is not progress of life. There are many rich men, many karmis. Without practicing yoga, they are having material comforts. So spiritual life does not mean that one is improved in material, conditioned life. Spiritual life means spiritual advancement. But people take it that "Take to religion means to give impetus to our material life." Dharma artha kama moksa. And when they are disgusted, they want moksa. Moksa means to become one with the Lord. So these things are going on. But Caitanya Mahäprabhu came to save all these fallen souls. Hinartha. Hinarthadhika-sadhakam. The more one is fallen, he is the better candidate for accepting the cult of Sri Caitanya Mahaprabhu. Narottama dasa Thakura sings, patita-pavana-hetu, tava avatara: "My Lord, You have incarnated to reclaim the fallen." Patita-pavana-hetu tava avatara, mo sama patita prabhu, na paibe ara: "If that is Your mission, then I am the most fallen. So my claim is first to receive Your favor because Your mission is to show favor to the fallen. So I am the most fallen. So kindly accept me." In this way he has sung. And that is stated here, hinarthadhika-sadhakam sri-caitanyam.
So (reading:) "A person in the conditional stage of material existence is in an atmosphere of helplessness. But the conditioned soul, under the illusion of maya or the external energy, thinks that he is completely protected by his country, society, friendship and love, not knowing that at the time of death none of these can save him." This is called maya. But he does not believe. Under the illusion of maya, he does not also believe that what is the meaning of saving. Saving. Saving means saving oneself from this repetition, cycle of birth and death. That is real saving. But they do not know. (reading:) "The laws of material nature are so strong that none of our material possessions can save us from the cruel hands of death." Everyone knows it. And that is our real problem. Who is not afraid of death? Everyone is afraid of death. Why? Because any living entity, he is not meant for dying. He is eternal; therefore birth, death, old age and disease, these things are botheration for him. Because he is eternal, he does not take birth, na jayate, and one who does not take birth, he has no death also, na mriyate kadacit. This is our actual position. Therefore we are afraid of death. That is our natural inclination.
So to save us from death... That is the first business of humankind. We are teaching this Krishna consciousness movement for this purpose only. That should be the purpose of everyone. That is the sastric injunction. Those who are guardians... The government, the father, the teacher, they are guardians of the children. They should know it, how to give protection to the world's... Na mocayed yah samupeta mrtyum. So where is this philosophy all, over the world? There is no such philosophy. This is the only, Krishna consciousness movement, which is putting forward this philosophy, not whimsically but from authorized sastra, Vedic literature, authorities. So that is our request. We are opening different centers all over the world for the benefit of the human society that they do not know the aim of life, they do not know that there is next life after death. These things they do not know. So we are trying to educate them that "There is next life undoubtedly, and you can prepare your next life in this life. You can go to the higher planetary system for better comfort, material comfort. You can remain here in a secure position." Secure means this material life. Just like it is said,
yanti deva-vrata devan
pitrn yanti pitr-vratah
bhutani yanti bhutejya
mad-yajino 'pi yanti mam
So you can prepare yourself for better life in the heavenly planets or in a better society in this world or to go to the planets where ghost and other wretches are controlling. Or you can go to the planet where Krishna is there. Everything is open to you. Yanti bhutejya bhutani mad-yajino 'pi yanti mam. Simply you have to prepare yourself. Just like in youth life they are educated - somebody is going to be engineer, somebody is going to be medical man, somebody is going to be lawyer and many other professional man-and they are preparing by education, similarly, you can prepare for your next life. This is not difficult to understand.
But they do not believe in the next life, although it is very common sense. Actually there is next life because Krishna says, and we can understand the philosophy by a little intelligence that there is next life. So our proposition is that "If you have got to prepare yourself for the next life, then why don't you take the trouble of preparing for going back to home, back to Godhead?" This is our proposition. You can prepare yourself to go to hell or heaven. That doesn't matter because that is also temporary. Ksine punye punar martya-lokam visanti. After you have finished... Just like you may go to jail or to somewhere else. When your visa or time is finished, then you are free from such life. Similarly, even if we go to the heavenly planet, when the resultant action of our pious activities are finished, then again we are turned down here. So in this way sometimes higher planetary, sometimes lower planetary, we are traveling. Therefore our best business is: "Why not go back to home, back to Godhead?" Krishna says, mad-yajino 'pi yanti mam: "Anyone who is Krishna conscious, he comes to Me." So why not go to Krishna? Then the question will be: "What is the benefit of going to Krishnaloka? What is the difference between going to heavenly planet or any other planet and going to Krishna?" The difference is, any planet go, you are under the four material regulation, janma-mrtyu-jara-vyadhi: [Bg. 13.9] birth, death, old age and disease. But if you go to Krishna... Yad gatva na nivartante tad dhama paramam mama [Bg. 15.6]. If you go to Krishna, then you don't get any more chance to come down and take a material body. You can live there eternally blissful life of knowledge. That is the difference.
So any intelligent man should take to Krishna consciousness, cultivate the Krishna conscious business and go back to home, back to Godhead, for eternal life. This mission we are preaching all over the world because Sri Caitanya Mahaprabhu wanted it. Sri Caitanya Mahaprabhu wanted to deliver the fallen souls from the clutches of maya and take them back to home, back to Godhead. As Krishna came, He also... His mission was this. Bahavo jnana-tapasa puta mad-bhavam adigacchati. Yad gatva na nivartante tad dhama [Bg. 15.6]. He is also giving information, "You come to Me. Live there eternally, with bliss and knowledge. Why you are rotting in this material world?"
So Sri Caitanya Mahaprabhu has come with the same mission. His mission is not different from Krishna because He is Krishna Himself. So His mission is to offer prema, bhakti. Prema-bhakti-vadanyata. That is His magnanimity. Sri Krishna did not offer prema. That is also prema, the preliminary condition. He said surrender. Surrender means beginning of prema. Unless I have got love for you, why shall I surrender to you? So that is the beginning of love, surrender. So He demanded so much. But Sri Caitanya Mahaprabhu is so kind and magnanimous that in course of His chanting and dancing, He embraced everyone and gave him Krishna-prema. That is Sri Caitanya Mahaprabhu's magnanimity. Therefore Srila Rupa Gosvami has offered his prayer to Sri Caitanya Mahaprabhu, namo maha-vadanyaya krishna-prema-pradaya te: [Cc. Madhya 19.53] "People cannot understand Krishna, and You are giving love of Krishna." If you don't know anybody, how you can develop love for him? So just imagine how much magnanimous is Lord Caitanya Mahäprabhu. He is giving such a nice process, that chant Hare Krishna, be purified-immediately you become free from this material bondage and begin your loving service to Krishna. This is Caitanya Mahaprabhu's gift.
letter by Srila Prabhupada on the Atlanta Project
Submitted by Manoj
A.C. Bhaktivedanta Swami
International Society for Krishna Consciousness
CENTER: 3764 Watseka Avenue
Los Angeles, Cal. 90034
DATE 9th July 1970
Dear Janmanjaya and Taradevi,
Please accept my blessings. I beg to thank you for your encouraging letter dated nil. Your opening a new center of ISKCON in Atlanta, Georgia, has given me great transcendental pleasure because it is Lord Caitanya Mahaprabhu's desire that in every city and town and village of the earth there shall be the chanting of the Holy Names of Krsna.
It is very good news that you have so quickly found a suitable house for our purpose that is very well situated. Now that vou have earned the respect of the city authorities you must push the Samkirtan Movement very vigorously and to the best of your capacity and Krsna will give you more and more intelligence how to do it nicely. Yes, everyone will be impressed with the sincerity of our students because they are actually advancing in spiritual life. Our program is not a bogus thing, it is the eternal reality of transcendental life of full bliss and knowledge in the service of the Lord. So it is not very wonderful that your sincerity is noted by the authorities, any sane man will have to admit that our proqram is sublime.
So as you are given full facilities for the execution of Sankirtan activities you must do it wholeheartedly and especiallv try to encourage the hippies to accept this Krsna consciousness movement. Thev are our best clients. They are feeling very keenly the frustration of material life and it is our duty as good Vaisnavas to be very sympathetic with them and bring them to take up this Krsna consciousness, then their lives will become perfect and our mission successful.
I have read the article sent by you cut from the newspaper and it is very nice. 'They have presented some of our philosophy very nicely and favorably. I beg to thank you also for the check which you have sent as contribution to my book fund, I think it was for $50.
Regarding your questions: Hindu means the culture of the Indians. India happens to be situated on the other side of the Indus River which is now in Pakistan which is spelled Indus??in Sanskrit it is called Sindhu. The Sindhu was mis-spelled by the Europeans as Indus, and from Indus the word 'Indian' has come. Similarly the Arabians used to pronounce Sindus as Hindus. This Hindus is spoken as Hindus. It is neither a Sanskrit word nor is it found in the Vedic literatures. But the culture of the Indians or the Hindus is Vedic and beqinning with the four varnas and four ashramas. So these four varnas and four ashramas are meant for really civilized human race. Therefore the conclusion is actually when a human being is civilized in the true sense of the term he follows the system of varna and ashrama and then he can be called a "Hindu." Our Krsna consciousness Movement is preaching these four varnas and four ashramas, so naturally it has got some relationship with the Hindus. So Hindus can be understood from the cultural point of view, not religious point of view. Culture is never religion. Religion is a faith, and culture is educational or advancement of knowledge.
Regarding your second question how to convince the young persons who are thinking that Meher Baba is an avatar: it is very difficult to deal with these misguided people. If you meet sincere people you may inform them that we are concerned with Krsna, Who is historically 5000 years old. So any other party who comes from India or any part of the world cannot claim such long history as far back as 5000 years. There are sometimes manufactured avatars in the history of the Vedic literatures, but we take oldest one which is genuine - that is Krsna consciousness. We are not interested in anything that is newly manufactured. If Meher Baba or, for the sake of that, any other Baba claims to be Krsna, so why any intelligent man will go to the substitute leaving aside the original?
Hope this will meet both in good health.
Your ever well-wisher,
A.C. Bhaktivedanta Swami
the glories of Srimati Tulasi Devi
Submitted by Krpa Moya Gouranga Das
Hare Krishna !!
Srimati Tulasi devi is one of the most exalted devotees of the Sri Krishna. All scriptures stress on the importance of getting the mercy of Tulasi devi if one has to make progress in the path of devotion. In the Skanda Purana it is said: 'Tulasi is auspicious in all respects. Simply by seeing, simply by touching, simply by remembering, simply by praying to, simply by bowing before, simply by hearing about or simply by sowing this tree, there is always auspiciousness. Anyone who comes in touch with the Tulasi tree in the above-mentioned ways lives eternally in the Vaikuntha world."
Above this material world is the eternal spiritual world comprised of millions of Vaikuntha planets. The topmost planet in Vaikuntha is Goloka which is presided by Sri Krishna in His original form. Here resides Vrinda devi, an intimate associate of and an expansion of Srimati Radharani. Her partial expansion is Tulasi devi in the Vaikuntha planets and they are all considered non-different from her.
As the embodiment of the lila-sakti (pastime potency), Vrinda devi is the organizer of all the transcendental pastimes between Sri Krishna and Srimati Radharani. In Goloka every thing is animate (cit) and only for the pleasure of Sri Krishna. Vrinda devi makes this happen. She is assisted by many confidential associates (which include two parrots) and with their help she makes sure that every thing is pleasing to Sri Krishna. She controls how the wind blows, when and where it rains, how the trees bend, and so many other things for the pleasure of the Divine Couple.
Five thousand years ago when Sri Krishna descended on Earth to do His pastimes, Vrinda devi created the proper environment for His pastimes in Vrindavana. Millions of years before the descent of Sri Krishna, Vrinda devi had appeared as the daughter of the pious Emperor Kedera. Then she performed penances for sixty thousand years. Pleased by her penances, Lord Vishnu gave the benediction that any austerities performed in Vrindavana would be very potent. Thus Vrinda devi sanctified the place and it got the name Vrindavana. Later Vrinda devi once again descended here as Tulasi devi, the daughter of King Kushadvaja to perform penances and attain perfection here.
Pastimes of Radha-Krishna:
Vrindavana is completely under the control of Vrinda devi. Without her mercy it is not possible to even approach the confidential pastimes of Radha-Krishna, even as an audience. Even being allowed into Vrindavana dhama indicates that one has received some mercy from Vrinda devi.
In Krishna lila she appeared as a young gopi friend of Srimati Radharani. Under the instructions of Purnamasya (Yogamaya), she would arrange secret meeting between Krishna and Radha. She would also make all the material arrangements, like saffron, fruits, flowers, music etc. for Radha Krishna. Thus she carried on her eternal service in
Goloka Vrindavana in the earthly Vrindavana. Once Srimati Radharani was so pleased by the service of Vrinda devi that with the help of the other gopis she arranged a magnificent throne and had Krishna and Vrinda devi sit on it. Lalita sakhi acting as the priest recited the mantras and performed the marriage ceremony of Krishna and Vrinda devi. Thus by the mercy of Srimati Radharani, Vrinda devi got Krishna.
In another pastime, Vrinda devi offered all the forests of Vrindavana to Srimati Radharani. Thus Radharani is also known as Vrindavaneshwari or the queen of Vrindavana.
Tulasi devi becomes a plant:
Pastimes involving pure devotees are only for the benefit of conditioned souls in the material world. This pastime, given in the Padma purana and in the Brahma-vaivarta purana involvong Tulasi devi reveals this clearly.
Once Tulasi devi descended as the daughter of King Kushadvaja. She was married to Jalhandara. It is said that Samudra deva the demigod controlling the nether regions had Lakshmi devi as a daughter (since she appeared from him at time of the churning of the ocean) and Jalandara (one who is born from water).
Jalandara was married to Tulasi devi and drew strength from her purity and chastity. So firm was her chastity that even Lord Shiva could not defeat Jalandara in battle and all the demigods went to Lord Vishnu for help.
At this time, Lord Vishnu went to Tulasi devi assuming the form of her husband, Jalandara. When Tulasi devi greeted Him, thinking Him to be her husband, her chastity was momentarily broken. Taking advantage of this the demigods killed Jalandara.
When Tulasi devi understood what happened, Lord Vishnu revealed His original form. An enraged Tulasi devi cursed Lord Vishnu for His stone hearted behavior to become a stone. Honoring His pure devotee, Lord Vishnu accepted this curse and promised to appear as the Saligrama shila in the Gandika river (now in Nepal). He also gave Tulsai devi the benediction that she will eternally reside with Him as His consort in Vaikuntha. He said that for the benefit of every one she will assume the form of a plant which will be most auspicious for anyone performing devotional service.
Thus devotees never offer anything to Krishna without a Tulasi leaf. He always adorns Himself with a Tulasi garland. The goddess of fortune, Laksmi, is sometimes envious of the Tulasi leaves which are placed at the lotus feet of the Lord, for they remain fixed there and do not move, whereas Laksmiji, although stationed by the chest of the
Lord, sometimes has to please other devotees who pray for her favor. Laksmiji sometimes has to go to satisfy her numerous devotees, but tulasi leaves never forsake their position, and the Lord therefore appreciates the service of the tulasi more than the service of Laksmi.
Tulasi as the source of bhakti:
The scriptures are full of pastimes that reveal the potency of Tulasi in developing devotion for the Lord.
The Srimad Bhagavatam talks about this pastime with the four Kumaras, the sons of Lord Brahma who were very much attached to the impersonal aspect of Godhead.
'When the breeze carrying the aroma of tulasi leaves and saffron from the lotus feet of the lotus-eyed Personality of Godhead entered through the nostrils into the hearts of those sages [the Kumaras], they experienced a change in both body and mind, even though they were attached to the impersonal Brahman understanding.'
Thus by simply smelling the fragrance of the Tulasi leaves the four Kumaras became pure devotees of the Lord.
In Caitanya lila Srila Advaita Acarya was very much disturbed to see the growth of irreligiosity. Therefore He decided to call for the Personality of Godhead Krsna to descend by worshiping the Lord with tulasi leaves and the water of the Ganges. When Sri Krishna was please by this devotion He descended as Caitanya Mahaprabhu.
Haridasa Thakura a great devotee of Caitanya Mahaprabhu purified a prostitue who had come with the intention of seducing him with instructions to chant the holy name and worship Tulasi. She became so elevated by this service that even great Vaishnavas would come to get her mercy.
Glories of Tulasi devi:
Quoting from the Gautamiya-tantra, the Hari-bhakti-vilasa states:
jalasya culukena va
vikrinite svam atmanam
'Sri Krsna, who is very affectionate toward His devotees, sells Himself to a devotee who offers merely a tulasi leaf and a palmful of water.'
In the Nectar of Devotion, service to Tulasi is glorified as one of items of devotional service.
In the Srimad Bhagavatam (3.15.19) it is said that although flowering plants like the mandara, kunda, kurabaka, utpala, campaka, arna, punnaga, nagakesara, bakula, lily and parijata are full of transcendental fragrance, they are still conscious of the austerities performed by tulasi, for tulasi is given special preference by the Lord, who garlands Himself with tulasi leaves.
In the Skanda Purana there is a statement praising the Tulasi tree as follows: 'Let me offer my respectful obeisances unto the Tulasi tree, which can immediately vanquish volumes of sinful activities. Simply by seeing or touching this tree one can become relieved from all distresses and diseases. Simply by offering obeisances to and pouring water on the tulasi tree, one can become freed from the fear of being sent to the court of Yamaraja [the King of death, who punishes the sinful]. If someone sows a tulasi tree somewhere, certainly he becomes devoted to Lord Krsna. And when the tulasi leaves are offered in devotion at the lotus feet of Krsna, there is the full development of love of Godhead.'
All glories to Tulasi devi !!
That head is loftiest which is white with dust from bowing down to Lord Krsna.
Those eyes are the most beautiful which darkness has abandoned after they have seen Lord Hari.
That intelligence is spotless--like the white glow of the moon or a conch shell--which concentrates on Lord Madhava. And that tongue rains down nectar which constantly glorifies Lord Narayana.