August 8, 2007

Waves of Devotion Update

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June 4, 2007

Lessons from the CC: Adi-lila Chapter 1

Lessons from the CC
Adi-Lila Chapter 1

Lesson 1: To successfully write or speak about the inconceivable Supreme Lord, one needs to attract His mercy by humbly remembering His diverse manifestations including His devotees and the spiritual master.

After offering prayers in fourteen verses to the Supreme Lord at the beginning of his Sri Caitanya Caritamrta, Srila Krishna dasa Kaviraja explains why:

“In the beginning of this narration, simply by remembering the spiritual master, the devotees of the Lord, and the Personality of Godhead, I have invoked their benedictions.”
(Adi 1.19)

Lesson 2: Respectfully remembering the Supreme Lord is a very effective way to overcome the obstacles one faces in his spiritual progress.

“Such remembrance destroys all difficulties and very easily enables one to fulfill his own desires.”
(Adi 1.21)

Lesson 3: One seeking to explain spiritual subjects even seeks blessings from his audience, provided they are sincere seekers.

After summarizing his auspicious invocation, Srila Krishna dasa Kaviraja continues to seek blessings:

“I offer my obeisances unto all my Vaisnava readers as I begin to explain the intricacies of all these verses.”
Adi 1.30

Lesson 4: The Supreme Lord must be understood and worshipped through His devotees.

After finishing his prayers to the Supreme Lord and His devotees, Srila Krishna das Kaviraja announces that he will explain them in more detail:

“Having offered obeisances unto the Lord and all His associates, I shall now try to explain these six diversities in one.” (Adi 1.43)

Srila Prabhupada explains the significance of this verse in his purport:

“There are many unalloyed devotees of the Supreme Personality of Godhead, all of whom are considered associates surrounding the Lord. Krishna should be worshiped with His devotees. The diverse principles are therefore the eternal paraphernalia through which the Absolute Truth can be approached.” (Adi 1.43, Purport)

Lesson 5: The spiritual master should be respected as a direct manifestation of God because he is the Lord’s empowered representative and confidential servant.

“Although I know that my spiritual master is a servitor of Sri Caitanya, I know Him also as a plenary manifestation of the Lord.” (Adi 1.44)

“According to the deliberate opinion of all revealed scriptures, the spiritual master is non-different from Krishna. Lord Krishna in the form of the spiritual master delivers His devotees.” (Adi 1.45)

Srila Prabhupada comments:

“[…]The revealed scriptures prohibit one’s pretending to be God, but a bona fide spiritual master is a most faithful and confidential servant of the Lord and therefore deserves as much respect as Krishna. Adi 1.45, Purport

Lesson 6: One should be vigilant to never envy or disrespect genuine authority.

“One should know the acarya as Myself and never disrespect him in any way. One should not envy him, thinking him an ordinary man, for he is the representative of all the demigods.” (Adi 1.46)

Comment: The warning to not disrespect or envy authority is given here because it is our natural tendency to do so.

Another lesson gleaned from the same verse (Adi 1.46):

Lesson 7: Studentship requires firm faith in and the utmost respect for one’s teacher.

Lesson 8: To understand one’s eternal relationship with Krishna one must serve the pure devotee and faithfully study the Srimad Bhagavatam under his guidance.

In the second verse of the Sri Caitanya Caritamrta, Srila Krishna dasa Kaviraja prays to the Supreme Lord in the particular forms of Sri Caitanya and Sri Nityananda to dissipate ignorance. Later in the chapter these verses are analyzed and the direct result of such purification is described:

“But these two brothers [Lord Caitanya and Lord Nityananda] dissipate the darkness of the inner core of the heart, and thus They help one meet the two kinds of bhagavatas [persons or things in relationship with the Personality of Godhead].

One of the bhagavatas is the great scripture Srimad Bhagavatam, and the other is the pure devotee absorbed in the mellows of loving devotion.

Through the actions of these two bhagavatas the Lord instills the mellows of transcendental loving service into the heart of a living being, and thus the Lord, in the heart of His devotee, comes under the control of the devotee’s love.” (Adi 1.99-101)

Lesson 9: A devotee should try to speak as concisely as possible.

Before beginning his explanation of the third verse of his mangalacaram, Srila Krishna dasa Kaviraja informs the readers that he will try to avoid extensive descriptions and speak succinctly. He supports his contention with a well known aphorism:

“Essential truth spoken concisely is true eloquence.” (Adi 1.107)

May 23, 2007

Krishna's Heart

Wednesday, May 23, 2006
Krishna’s Heart

“Since Durvasa Muni wanted to chastise Maharaja Ambarisa, it is to be understood that he wanted to give pain to the heart of the Supreme Personality of Godhead, for the Lord says, sadhavo hrdaya mahyam: "The pure devotee is always within the core of My heart." The Lord's feelings are like those of a father, who feels pain when his child is in pain. Therefore, offenses at the lotus feet of a devotee are serious. Caitanya Mahaprabhu has very strongly recommended that one not commit any offense at the lotus feet of a devotee. Such offenses are compared to a mad elephant because when a mad elephant enters a garden it causes devastation. Therefore one should be extremely careful not to commit offenses at the lotus feet of a pure devotee.” (Srimad Bhagavatam 9.4.68 Purport)

Comment: Reading this helped me understand the seriousness of Vaisnava aparadha. It is simple. Krishna is a person. Like any person, Krishna is pained when those whom He loves are offended. Of course, here it is talking about the pure devotee. Naturally, the more a devotee captures Krishna’s heart by their devotion, the more Krishna is pained in heart when they are offended. But Krishna is also grateful. He appreciates whatever sincere devotional service anyone does. One should thus be very careful in dealing with anyone who has dedicated their lives to Sri Krishna’s service, even if they have faults. I forgot where I read it, but somewhere it is mentioned that the greatest hypocrisy is to not think another deserves Krishna’s mercy because they have faults and thus wish them ill, but at the same time pray for Krishna’s mercy despite one’s own imperfections.

May 1, 2007

Understanding Srila Prabhupada

Tuesday, May 1, 2006
Understanding Srila Prabhupada

“In this age, devotional service of hearing and repeating the holy glories of the Lord is strongly recommended, and one who takes the vow of renunciation of family life need not imitate the parivrajakacarya like Narada or Lord Caitanya, but may sit down at some holy place and devote his whole time and energy to hear and repeatedly chant the holy scriptures left by the great acaryas like the six Gosvamis of Vrndavana.” Srimad Bhagavatam 1.6.13 Purport

Comment: Srila Prabhupada is so much broader in his outlook than he is often presented. He so much stressed preaching that many devotees don’t see a scope for his followers to devote their life to chanting and hearing in a holy place. Here, however, he directly encourages that service. It was especially enlivening for me to read this. I am also guilty at times of too narrowly defining Srila Prabhupada. I thus question if there is scope in his service for my lifestyle, which, unlike most of my god-brother’s, is so limited in traveling and preaching. Here, however, Srila Prabhupada directly recommends sitting down in a holy place to devote one’s whole time to chanting and hearing. I felt encouraged reading this.

Of course, Srila Prabhupada seems to be talking more about retired grhastha’s. Still, the point remains that his strong recommendation of the traditional mode of Vaisnava retired life, chanting and hearing in a holy place, shows that Srila Prabhupada cannot be pin-holed exclusively within one conception of spiritual life, even the missionary outlook.

At the same time, however, one can’t help but note the status at which Srila Prabhupada places preaching. Usually, retirement to a holy place for exclusive chanting and hearing is the pinnacle of one’s spiritual evolution following the example of Sri Caitanya, who spent the last year of his life in Puri. But here it is almost presented as a concession.

I appreciate that although Srila Prabhupada stressed certain activities, it never became a passion in the sense of excluding or discouraging different ways and modes of serving his order and mission. That passion obviously was ours.

November 5, 2006

Karttika 2006: Japa Meditations - November 5, 2006

Karttika 2006
Japa Meditations

November 5, 2005

Karttika ends. All glories to Karttika!

I got a lot of feedback that the japa journal was appreciated. Thank you, dear readership.

I think one of my main realizations for Karttika was the importance of spending quality time with the holy name. The holy name is a person as it is non-different from Krishna. By spending time with a person whom we have a natural relationship our rapport and love for them grows. We then enjoy their company. When we are focused and not indifferent when the holy name appears, a real bond develops. We become happy anytime are in the company of the holy name. That’s the blessings of Karttika - sambandha or relationship to the holy name. kirtaniya sada harih.

November 4, 2006

Karttika 2006: Japa Meditations - November 4, 2006

Karttika 2006
Japa Meditations

November 4, 2006

A friend of mine - a professor in America - had problems with his chanting. He couldn’t concentrate and it frustrated him. While visiting Vrindavana, he went to his very elderly guru, a very renowned Vaisnava scholar in Vraja, and opened his heart.

“I just can’t concentrate on my chanting. Why should I do?”

“Don’t eat grains cooked by non-devotees!”

“But I have to attend the college’s conferences and they only serve grains cooked by non-devotees. What should I do?’

“Don’t eat.”

Moral: Don’t ask a sadhu a question unless you are ready to follow his advice. Well, my friend did. It was inconvenient, but it changed his life and his concentration improved significantly .

Commentary: Small things make big differences. During Karttika I only eat freshly prepared and purely cooked food offered to Giriraja. It really helps the consciousness.

November 3, 2006

Karttika 2006: Japa Meditations - November 3, 2006

Karttika 2006
Japa Meditations

November 3, 2006

An individual not only speaks or writes words, but his words have “voice”; the sound and expression of those words that communicates his very heart. Two people speak the same words, but say different things according to their voice. The words may lie, but the voice doesn’t. It is who you are. Two people chant Hare Krishna, but God hears completely different entreaties depending on their “voice”. I chanted today and not only listened to the words, but to the voice of my chanting. It became clear. Unless humility becomes the voice of our chanting there is little taste to our prayers.

November 2, 2006

Karttika 2006: Japa Meditations - Novmber 2, 2006

Karttika 2006
Japa Meditations

November 2, 2006

What is japa realization? It is awareness of our present spiritual potential and recognizing the obstacles that stop us from going beyond that. It is the shape that mercy takes to lead us forward.

Today the obstacle was clearly the selfish heart. I think too much of myself and not enough of others. The shape of the mercy was compassion, my prayer for compassion, and the understanding of why Srila Prabhupada gave us a mission. Dedication to helping others weans us away from self absorption and helps open the heart for nama bhajan.

November 1, 2006

Karttika 2006: Service to the Vaisnavas and Bhisma Pancaka - October 20 - November 1, 2006

Karttika 2006

October 20 - November 1, 2006

I am sorry to say that I was unable to keep up with writing my daily japa realizations. As soon as it gets near Govardhana Puja, and then Srila Prabhupada’s disappearance day, people start to visit me. Although it left no time for writing (after my chanting), I was more than happy to oblige whoever came to visit me, whether by taking them on parikrama or giving class on Govardhana. It is my great fortune to serve the Vaisnavas. By doing so the holy name manifests its glories. It is one of the secrets of nama bhajan.

I was especially grateful to be able to give class on the Govardhana-lila to Gauranga prabhu and the devotees from Chowpatty. They came to Vrindavana just to organize and serve prasadam for Srila Prabhupada’s disappearance festival at the Sri Krishna Balaram Mandir, as they do every year, and I met them in Govardhana the day after the festival. On the actual day they served six thousand devotees in two hours. It was so organized that each devotee, I was told, felt as if they were being served individually. I heard this many times. So much mercy comes from serving the devotees and especially serving those devotees who are serving the other devotees.

Hopefully the daily japa realizations will continue for the next five days, which is Bhisma Pancaka - the last days of Karttika.

October 19, 2006

Karttika 2006: Japa Meditations - October 19, 2006

Karttika 2006
Japa Meditations

October 19, 2006

A very deep sadhaka here, and a friend, prays daily to all the associates of Lord Nityananda residing at Radha Kunda, including Jahnava Ma, Srila Raghunatha dasa Goswami and Srila Krishna das Kaviraja. I ask about their bhajan. They describe to me the success of their prayers, “When emotion takes over their heart.” Today they prayed at Radha Kunda at the sitting place of Madhavendra Puri, the guru of Lord Nityananda. Thoughts of their first meeting of ecstatic embrace described in Caitanya Bhagavata came strongly to their mind. “That love is what we are aspiring for,” they humbly shared, “When thoughts of it overwhelms the heart, it is the success of chanting.”