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Nityananda Trayodasi – Appearance Day of Lord Nityananda

Sun, 02/20/2022 - 11:10pm

Lord Nityananda was born in Ekachakra, a small village in the Birbhum district of West Bengal, around the year 1474. He was born to Hadai Ojha and his mother Padmavati. Nityananda Prabhu was born on the auspicious thirteenth day of the bright fortnight of Magha month. As a child, Nitai would love to enact the different pastimes of the Lord. So much so that the entire village would be immersed in the love of Godhead. Once while he played the part of Lakshman and remained unconscious as long the child who was playing the part of Hanuman did not bring the medicine as had happened during the original pastime during Lord Rama’s time.

He spent the first 12 years of His life in Ekachakra. In the 13th year, a traveling sannyasi, famous Lakshmipati Tirtha, requested Nitai from his parents, as a traveling companion. His father, although could not refuse the request, was devastated by the separation with Nitai, and soon gave up his life. Nitai traveled with Lakshmipati Tirtha for about 20 years, during which He visited all the holy places in the country.

Śrī Caitanya-caritāmṛta
Adi 14.3

vrajendra-nandana yei, śacī-suta haila sei,
balarāma haila nitāi.

Lord Nityananda is non different from Lord Balaram. To fight with the onslaught of this material energy, we need spiritual strength and therefore it is advisable to seek the shelter of Lord Nityananda which not only provides us strength but also is more soothing than a million moons. nitāi-pada-kamala koṭi-candra-suśītala. The material nature is unceasingly tossing us, the only shelter is Lord Nityananda’s lotus feet. In this world full of anxieties, His lotus feet are the only hope for peace.

Lord Nityananda is guru-tattva, the original spiritual master. A bona fide spiritual master is the representative of Lord Nityananda. By following the instructions of a bona fide spiritual master, one pleases Lord Nityananda and thereby receives His blessings to make advancement on the path of pure devotional service to Lord Gauranga.

Lord Nityananda is an embodiment of compassion. Thus having been hit by Madhai, He was considering how to deliver them with pure love of Godhead. Lord Nityananda was instructed by Lord Caitanya to come back to Bengal and preach Krishna consciousness. He lived in Khardah, a place near Panihati, with his two wives Vasudha and Jahnava, the daughters of Gauri Das Pandit. In the famous Panihati Cida dahi mahotsav, Lord Nityananda could feel and see the presence of Lord Caitanya wearing South Indian garlands. Lord Nityananda could not tolerate Lord Caitanya’s taking sanyasa and living like a mendicant, that once He broke the sannyasa danda of Lord Caitanya.

Lord Nityananda himself distributes the holy name in the market of holy name based on a person’s faith.

Śrī Nāma Pracāra

Nagara-kīrtana
Nāma-7

(nitāi) nām eneche, nāmer hāṭe,
śraddhā-mūlye nām diteche re.

Only by the mercy of Lord Nityananda does one receive the favor of Radha Krishna. heno nitāi bine bhāi, rādhā-kṛṣṇa pāite nāi. Nitāiyer koruṇā habe, braje rādhā-kṛṣṇa pabe, dharo nitāi-caraṇa du’khāni. If one takes shelter at the lotus feet of Lord Nityananda, one can get the mercy of Radha Krishna in Vraj. It is only by His mercy that our material attachment will be vanquished. Nitāi caraṇa satya, tāhāra sevaka nitya. Lord Nityananda’s lotus feet are eternal and therefore one who takes shelter at His lotus feet becomes eternal. Nitya means eternal and Ananda means happiness. Thus by taking His shelter all one’s distress is vanquished. ha ha prabhu nityananda, premananda sukhi
kripabalokana koro ami boro dukhi.

On this auspicious occasion of Lord Nityananda’s appearance, we may seek His blessings so that empowers us with spiritual strength, compassion, and enthusiasm to relish and distribute the holy name.

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The Residents of New Vrindaban: Divyangi Devi Dasi

Sun, 02/20/2022 - 11:10pm

ISKCON News is proud to announce a new and inspiring interview series, a new look into the world of living the Bhakti Yoga life. In this interview series, we talk to the devotees of New Vrindaban, West Virginia to ask them how they feel living fully immersed in devotional life.

Today we introduce you to Divyangi devi dasi, a well-known New York Harinam book distributor who is now a New Vrindaban resident.

Where do you hail from originally?
Divyangi Devi Dasi: I am originally from Minsk, Belarus.

How long have you lived at New Vrindaban?
I’ve permanently moved here in September 2021.

Oh so fairly new, what is it like living at New Vrindaban?
In my experience, every day something amazing happens here in New Vrindaban, inwardly and outwardly. Living here is transformative, I always learn so many new things about myself and my relationships with devotees. I feel like for me personally, it is a good place to work on my boundaries and recognition of my bodily and mental limits. At the same time, this place uncovers many talents and it’s easy to get involved and enjoy something I’ve never done before.

What are some of your favorite things about staying at New Vrindaban?
There’s always something going on here, in the temple, or in devotees’ houses or outside. It’s kind of like in my childhood, wherever you go there’s adventure everywhere.

I like living in nature and have an opportunity to just take a walk to the forest when I feel like I need it. I also like that it’s quite remote and it feels nice to be able to come back to a peaceful place after Book Distribution in town, for example.

I also like how encouraging devotees are to start new initiatives and engage others in them.

Do you think living in New Vrindaban helps your bhakti?
It definitely helps my spiritual growth. This growth is not always pleasant and comfortable, but encountering all sorts of situations here, helps me to become more responsible and serious in my spiritual practice and my relationship with devotees.

What service do you do there? What are some of your favorite services?
I am a pujari, and love it so much!
It’s quite common to organize book/prasadam distribution events, which I enjoy so much too. Recently I started helping with social media. And I absolutely love gardening services; although it’s hard to find time to do everything here when this opportunity actually comes, I appreciate it a lot!

Are you involved in any special projects or initiatives there?
I would say so. Every devotional festival in the temple is a special project here, as a pujari I am involved in all of them. Also, I have started helping with social media projects.

Do you feel you learning any particular skills there?
I would say I’m constantly learning about Deity Seva and the art of relationships with devotees.

Thanks so much for sitting down and talking to us today, Is there anything else you would like to add?
I feel and see how New Vrindaban is a Holy Dham, which is sometimes is not easy to deal with, it brings up the highest joy, as well as the deepest anarthas in me. Like other temples is a very good place for purification, as we say, but it works better for a devotee who looks for such purification. And I do. Absolutely wonderful place to visit and see what your experience will be like!

Stay tuned for more Interviews with the residents of New Vrindaban every month exclusively on ISKCON News. To book a stay at New Vrindaban visit newvrindaban.com/lodge

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The Appearance Day of Narottama Dasa Thakura

Sun, 02/20/2022 - 11:10pm

Narottama Dasa Thakura was a leading acharya in the Gaudiya Vaisnava line. He was the only disciple of Srila Lokanatha Gosvami. Srila Narottama Dasa Thakura helped bring the books of the Goswami’s from Vrndavana to Bengal and Orissa.

Appearing as the son of a king, Sri Narottama Dasa Thakura (Shri Thakura Mahasaya) showed all the bodily symptoms of a mahapurusha (an exalted divine person). He had long arms, a deep navel, golden-complexion, beautiful eyes shaped like the lotus petals. In school, he was a sruti dhara (able to memorize whatever he heard). Although he quickly mastered Sanskrit and the Vedas, he hankered to serve Krishna. He was a lifelong brahmachari. By the mercy of the Holy Name Gaura-Nitai, Narottama became detached, left his opulent family, and ran to Vrindavana. He took diksha from Sri Lokanatha Goswami and siksha in Gaudiya philosophy from Sri Jiva Goswami.

When he arrived in Navadwipa-dhama all the Devotees asked him about the health and activities of the Goswamis in Vrindavana. They were eager to hear the news from Vrindavana. After visiting all of Gauranga’s pastime places in Gaura Mandala, Narottama Dasa did the same in Shri Kshetra Dhama (Jagannatha Puri). Then he went to see the Devotees and Shri Chaitanya’s pastime spots in Shantipura, Shri Khanda, Kanthak Nagar, Ekachakra, and Kheturi Gram.

In Kheturi, Shri Narottama Dasa Thakura arranged the famous Kheturi Mahotsava. This was the first “Gaura-Purnima” festival to honor the divine appearance day of Shri Krishna Chaitanya Mahaprabhu. During the festival six Deities were installed: Shri Gauranga Deva, Shri Vallabhi Kanta, Shri Vraja Mohana, Shri Krishna, Shri Radha Kanta, Shri Radha Ramana.

With his sweet voice, Narottama Dasa began a wonderful kirtana. His chanting filled the heavens and brought down tears of prema from the eyes of the Devotees, who were all sporting in the ocean of ecstasy. “In the midst of their kirtana, the munificent Shri Chaitanya Himself and all His personal associates appeared and joined in the sankirtana. Like a flash of lightning in the midst of a mass of beautiful blue clouds, Shri Chaitanya Himself appeared in the crowd of Devotees through a divine manifestation.” (Bhakti-ratnakar)

“At that time, although Mahaprabhu had, left this world years before, many different devotees saw Mahaprabhu in different ways. Those of Sri Navadvipa dhama saw Him more intimately as Nimaicandra or Visvambhara, as they knew Him during His youth. Those devotees were attracted to Mahaprabhu in sakhya and vatsalya rasa. The followers of the six Gosvamis, who only knew Mahaprabhu as a sannyasi, related to Him in the mood of dasya rasa. And hundreds of devotees also worshiped Lord Caitanya in an aisvarya mood of awe and reverence.
Srila Narottama Dasa Thakur sang numerous songs. One which is most famous in Sri Mayapur Dham is Sri Krishna Caitanya Prabhu Doya Koro More.

The devotees of the Mayapur community happen to sing this song every day during Darshan Arati of Sri Pancha Tattva.
(1)
śrī-kṛṣṇa-caitanya prabhu doyā koro more
tomā binā ke doyālu jagat-saḿsāre
(2)
patita-pāvana-hetu tava avatāra
mo sama patita prabhu nā pāibe āra
(3)
hā hā prabhu nityānanda, premānanda sukhī
kṛpābalokana koro āmi boro duḥkhī
(4)
doyā koro sītā-pati adwaita gosāi
tava kṛpā-bale pāi caitanya-nitāi
(5)
gaura premamaya tanu paṇḍita gadādhara
srīnivāsa haridāsa doyāra sāgara
(6)
hā hā swarūp, sanātana, rūpa, raghunātha
bhaṭṭa-juga, śrī-jīva hā prabhu lokanātha
(7)
doyā koro śrī-ācārya prabhu śrīnivāsa
rāmacandra-sańga māge narottama-dāsa
Translation:
1) My dear Lord Caitanya, please be merciful to me, because who can be more merciful than Your Lordship within these three worlds?
2) Your incarnation is just to reclaim the conditioned, fallen souls, but I assure You that You will not find a greater fallen soul than me. Therefore, my claim is first.
3) My dear Lord Nityananda, You are always joyful in spiritual bliss. Since You always appear very happy, I have come to You because I am most unhappy. If You kindly put Your glance over me, then I may also become happy.
4) My dear Advaita Prabhu, husband of Sita, You are so kind. Please be merciful to me. If You are kind to me, naturally Lord Caitanya and Nityananda will also be kind to me.
5) Gaura’s love embodiment is shown by Gadadhara Pandita. Srinivasa Pandita and Haridasa Thakura are the ocean of mercy.
6) O Svarupa Damodara, personal secretary of Lord Caitanya, O six Gosvamis O Sri Rupa Gosvami, Sri Sanatana Gosvami, Sri Raghunatha Bhatta Gosvami, Sri Gopala Bhatta Gosvami, Sri Jiva Gosvami, and Sri Raghunatha dasa Gosvami! O Lokanatha Gosvami, my beloved spiritual master! Narottama dasa also prays for your mercy.
7) O Srinivasa Acarya, successor to the six Gosvamis! Please be merciful to me. Narottama dasa always desires the company of Ramacandra Cakravarti.

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A Revolution is Born

Sun, 02/20/2022 - 11:10pm

Take part in this historic inauguration of the reborn Bhaktivinode Asana at #1 Ultadanga Road in Kolkata.

100 years ago this year, on the roof of the building, the seed of ISKCON was planted in the heart of Srila Prabhupada by Srila Bhaktisiddhanta Saraswati Thakur.

ISKCON Kolkata acquired this historic property and has completely restored it as it was then.

Join us for a live broadcast of the inauguration on February 21st and be inspired by the power of the humble start of what is now a global movement.

The old building at #1 Ultadanga Road is the same one where Om Vishnupada Srila Bhaktisiddhanta Saraswati Maharaj started his preaching movement and resided for 14 years (1918 to 1932) out of the total 18 years of his preaching mission.

And this is the historic place where His Divine Grace A.C Bhaktivedanta Swami Prabhupada met Srila Bhaktisiddhanta Prabhupada for the very first time and received the momentous instruction to spread Krishna consciousness in the West.

By the grace of Srila Prabhupada, ISKCON has acquired the old property, which had become dilapidated and in danger of collapse, and fully restored it.

Now, as a fitting offering on the 148th Vyasa Puja ceremony of Srila Bhaktisiddhanta Saraswati Prabhupada, ISKCON Kolkata will inaugurate the newly restored building with a daylong event.

The entire day’s program will be broadcast live on GBCSPT YouTube and Facebook channels, starting at 9 a.m. IST.

Facebook: Inauguration of #1 Ultadanga Road

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Srila Prabhupada’s Mayapur Bhajan Kutir: A Brief History

Sun, 02/20/2022 - 11:10pm

What is known as the ‘bhajan kutir’ in ISKCON Mayapur is the first structure built on the property. It was also the original ‘temple’, functioning as chota Radha Madhava’s first place of worship when They arrived in Mayapur in 1972. An entire day is dedicated to this ‘temple’ during the Radha Madhava Golden Jubilee Festival from March 2 – 5, the 50th Anniversary of that arrival.

The kutir was built by Acyutananda Swami in 1971 on the order of Srila Prabhupada, who personally instructed him about the materials to use and the manpower to hire. Acyutananda Swami oversaw the design, construction and finances. When Prabhupada arrived in Mayapur and saw the finished kutir he happily remarked, “It shall be called Acyutananda Cottage.”

Bhavananda das recalls a most prophetic and important event :

The story regarding the straw house or bhajan kutir, as it was later called, and the TOVP really requires to be seen as well as heard because of Prabhupada’s arm gesture. However, I will try to narrate as best I can. In June, 1973 Prabhupada was in Mayapur and was staying in the Lotus building. That building was erected at the backmost border of our ISKCON land. The bhajan kutir was at the front border of the land next to Bhaktisiddhant road. The empty land between consisted of many paddy or rice fields. It was all just empty flat fields where Prabhupada had planned for the main temple to be constructed. During a morning walk Prabhupada and I were standing in front of the straw house. I turned to him and said, “Should we demolish this since we don’t use it anymore?” Prabhupada was quiet for a moment and then he said, “No, let the people see – this is what we were”, and then with a grand swing of his right arm he pointed up to his right and said, “and this is what we have become”. And, of course, as we now know he was pointing directly to where the TOVP stands today.

From Prabhupada Lilamrta by Satsvarupa Goswami:

The monsoons came, and the Ganges spilled over her banks, flooding the entire ISKCON Mayapur property. Acyutananda Swami had built a straw and bamboo hut where Prabhupada was soon to stay, but the waters rose until Acyutananda Swami had to live in the bamboo rafters. He wrote Prabhupada that had it not been for Bhaktisiddhanta Road the damage would have been extensive. Prabhupada replied, “Yes, we were saved by Srila Bhaktisiddhanta Road. We shall always expect to be saved by His Divine Grace Srila Bhaktisiddhanta Saraswati Goswami Maharaja Prabhupada. Always pray to His Lotus Feet. Whatever success we have had in preaching Lord Caitanya’s mission all over the world is only due to His mercy.”

This year also celebrates the 50th Anniversary of the Perfect Questions, Perfect Answers book conversation between Srila Prabhupada and Brahmatirtha das (Bob Cohen) who, as a young Peace Corps worker in India at the time, met with Srila Prabhupada in the bhajan kutir for three consecutive days. Published in 1977, Srila Prabhupada personally gave the title of the book, and millions of copies have been distributed worldwide in over fifty languages since then.

 

More pictures are available on tovp.org

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A Sugesstion for Resolving Our Conflicts

Sun, 02/20/2022 - 11:10pm

I would like to start by offering my respectful obeisance unto all those who love or respect Srila Prabhupada and desire to see his mission succeed, regardless of their level of practice, philosophical persuasions, and institutional affiliations. I am a neophyte on the devotional path, but I hope you will accept any truth you perceive in what I share here. As Srila Prabhupada said, the wise take gold even from a filthy place.

I see our movement suffering because of various conflicts and polemics, and many individual devotees also suffer despite practicing Krishna consciousness. This may be due to not properly understanding what should or should not be done, or to difficulty in controlling the mind and senses, or perhaps in cultivating loving spiritual relationships.

I believe that the key to resolving our institutional and individual difficulties is improving the culture of sadhu sanga within ISKCON. I see the GBC is trying to protect the institution by controlling some of our important decisions with legislation, such as by controlling the process of diksha. I believe they have also stipulated certain ‘official’ philosophical positions, for example around whether we were ever with Krishna, and more recently I understand they have introduced a code of ethics.

There may be other areas of which I am unaware, I believe that an ‘ISKCON Law Book’ is being compiled, and I fully accept that all this is with the honest desire to maintain the highest standards in our society. However, with a straw between my teeth, I humbly suggest that we replace the tendency to control devotees’ decisions with better training in the culture of good sadhu sanga. Srila Prabhupada famously told Karandhara not to centralize control over any aspect other than book printing and distribution. In all other areas, devotees must be trained to think for themselves. He explicitly warned that attempts to centrally control other decisions would spoil everything.

Do not centralize anything. Each temple must remain independent and self-sufficient. That was my plan from the very beginning, why you are thinking otherwise? Once before you wanted to do something centralizing with your GBC meeting, and if I did not interfere the whole thing would have been killed. Do not think in this way of big corporation, big credits, centralization—these are all nonsense proposals. Only thing I wanted was that books printing and distribution should be centralized, therefore I appointed you and Bali Mardan to do it. Otherwise, management, everything, should be done locally by local men. Accounts must be kept, things must be in order and lawfully done, but that should be each temple’s concern, not yours. Krishna Consciousness Movement is for training men to be independently thoughtful and competent in all types of departments of knowledge and action, not for making bureaucracy. Once there is bureaucracy the whole thing will be spoiled. Letter to Karandhara in Dec ‘72

Of course, this admonishment related specifically to a plan to centralize administration, butstill, Srila Prabhupada said that our movement should be training us to be “independently thoughtful.” In SB 9.10.50 purport, he points out that even nation-states that have the power to physically punish their citizens cannot make them good just by passing and enforcing laws.

“Simply enforcing laws and ordinances cannot make the citizens obedient and lawful. That is impossible. Throughout the entire world there are so many states, legislative assemblies and parliaments, but still the citizens are rogues and thieves. Good citizenship, therefore, cannot be enforced; the citizens must be trained.”

 

From this, I understand that a more effective way of protecting ISKCON and ensuring good behaviour from its members is through training. Training in what? Srila Prabhupada gives the answer to that question in SB 3.3.6 purport:

“…unless and until one is trained in the culture of good association, one cannot become good.”

Good association is sadhu sanga. Good association means to hear about and glorify Krishna in the association of devotees.

…hearing and chanting of the glories of the Lord can be made possible in the association of devotees only. Lord Caitanya therefore recommended five main principles for attaining perfection in the devotional service of the Lord. The first is association with devotees (hearing); SB 2.9.31 purport

 

On several occasions Srila Prabhupada instructed ISKCON leaders to concentrate on improving the culture of good association in ISKCON:

Your first job should be to make sure that every one of the devotees in your zone of management is reading regularly my literatures and discussing the subject matter seriously from different angles of seeing, and that they are somehow or other absorbing the knowledge of Krishna Consciousness philosophy. If they are fully educated in my philosophy and if they can get all of the knowledge and study it from every viewpoint, then very easily they will perform tapasya or renunciation and that will be their advancement in Krishna Consciousness. Letter to Satsvarupa Maharaja ‘72

So I want you leaders especially to become very much absorbed in the philosophy of Bhagavad-gita, Srimad-Bhagavatam, and become yourselves completely convinced and free from all doubt. On this platform you shall be able to carry on the work satisfactorily, but if there is lack of knowledge, or if there is forgetfulness, everything will be spoiled in time. So especially you must encourage the students to read my books throughout the day as much as possible, and give them all good advice how to understand the books, and inspire them to study the things from every point of view. In this way, by constantly engaging my tongues in the service of the Lord, either by

discussing His philosophy or by chanting Hare Krishna, the truth is that Krishna Himself will reveal Himself to us and I shall understand how to do everything properly. Now I have got so many students and so many temples but I am fearful that if I expand too much in this way that I shall become weakened and gradually the whole thing will become lost. Just like milk. I may thin it more and more with water for cheating the customer, but in the end it will cease to be any longer milk. Better to boil the milk now very vigorously and make it thick and sweet, that is the best process. So let us concentrate on training my devotees very thoroughly in the knowledge of Krishna Consciousness from my books, from tapes, by discussing always, and in so many ways instruct them in the right propositions. Letter to Hansadutta, 22/6/’72, Los Angeles.

—-

The correct culture of good association is called vada, as opposed to vitanda and jalpa. These terms are defined in Baladeva Vidyabusana’s Govinda Bhasya commentary to 10.32.

When both parties desire to win by establishing their own opinion with proofs and arguments, and by refuting the opponent’s view with circumvention….false generalization…and syllogistic fault…it is called jalpa. When one party refutes the opponent’s view (by the above means), without establishing his own opinion, it is called vitanda. These two types of debate, with a desire to win, simply display skill in debating and bear no result. That discussion having a desire for truth is called vada. Being outstanding for being fruitful in determining truth, vada is My vibhuti.”

This I feel is an extremely important point which I would like to explore further in future articles, trying to elucidate the above passage and demonstrate how jalpa and vitanda frequently mar discussions within ISKCON.

For now, I would like to touch on some of the many instructions that Srila Prabhupada gives regarding the culture of good association. For a fuller delineation of his instructions on this topic, kindly see the ‘Principles’ menu on . According to Srila Prabhupada only a devotee can teach us how to discuss according to the principles of vada.

In order to become really learned, we have to associate with devotees. Then we can actually relish kṛṣṇa-kathā. When discussed among devotees, kṛṣṇa-kathā is pleasing to the heart and ear. This requires a little training, and this training is given by the devotees. TLK chp 12

For us, the most qualified person to teach us is Srila Prabhupada himself. Here are some items of good sadhu sanga that I have seen in his teachings:

 

1. Discussing is better than passive reading or hearing:

Generally, people cannot understand. But if one understands, he becomes liberated. If some way or other… It is not very difficult; simply we have to associate with devotees and discuss this literature. Then we’ll understand Kṛṣṇa very easily. (Lecture 5/6/’76)

 

2. We should become practiced in seeing from different perspectives (not just our own):

“I am very much stressing nowadays that my students shall increase their reading of my books and try to understand them from different angles of vision. Each sloka can be seen from many, many angles of vision, so become practiced in seeing things like this.” (letter to: Tribhuvanatha — Los Angeles 16 June, 1972)

 

3. We should speak very respectfully to each other, and always cite scriptural evidence:

The process of speaking in spiritual circles is to say something upheld by the scriptures. One should at once quote from scriptural authority to back up what he is saying. At the same time, such talk should be very pleasurable to the ear. By such discussions, one may derive the highest benefit and elevate human society. (BG 17.15 purport)

 

4. We should repeat what we read in our own words:

It is not very difficult. Just read from my books and try and explain the meaning in your own words. (letter to Sudama; 26/01/’73)

There are many benefits if we practice sadhu sanga correctly. Here are some of those benefits delineated in BG, SB and directly by Srila Prabhupada.

 

In BG chapter 109-11, Krishna says:

The thoughts of My pure devotees dwell in Me, their lives are fully devoted to My service, and they derive great satisfaction and bliss from always enlightening one another and conversing about Me.

To those who are constantly devoted to serving Me with love, I give the understanding by which they can come to Me.

To show them special mercy, I, dwelling in their hearts, destroy with the shining lamp of knowledge the darkness born of ignorance.

 

SB 11.3.30-31 Śrī Prabuddha says:

One should learn how to associate with the devotees of the Lord by gathering with them to chant the glories of the Lord. This process is most purifying. As devotees thus develop their loving friendship, they feel mutual happiness and satisfaction. And by thus encouraging one another they are able to give up material sense gratification, which is the cause of all suffering.

The devotees of the Lord constantly discuss the glories of the Personality of Godhead among themselves. Thus they constantly remember the Lord and remind one another of His qualities and pastimes. In this way, by their devotion to the principles of bhakti-yoga, the devotees please the Personality of Godhead, who takes away from them everything inauspicious. Being purified of all impediments, the devotees awaken to

pure love of Godhead, and thus, even within this world, their spiritualized bodies exhibit symptoms of transcendental ecstasy, such as standing of the bodily hairs on end.

 

Srila Prabhupada writes to his disciple Bhagavatananda in ’72:

“Try to always study my books and see my philosophy from different lights of directions, become convinced yourself of this knowledge and without a doubt all of your difficulties of mind will disappear forever and you will see Krishna face-to-face.”

If we find that our attempts to resolve conflicts or confusions turn into polemics it is probably because we are not applying the culture of good association. One or both parties may be resorting to circumvention, faulty syllogisims and false generalisations as mentioned above. Such discussion will not help us become either individually or collectively happy and successful.

Srila Prabhupada saw sastra discussion as critical to our spiritual progress. He warns us of the danger of minimizing it:

“If you are not interested in association, discussion, then you are finished. So? Karmis, they are fools and rascals. When you have got this center, it is not that you should be engaged from morning till you go to bed for sense gratification. That is not life. That is karmi’s life. You have no time for sat-sanga, for association. You cannot make any progress by this sort of karmi’s life. We have to work for organization, but not that whole day and night engaged and no sat-sanga. That is a misguided policy, and it will spoil the whole structure.”

Room Conversation on Srimad-Bhagavatam 1.10.11– November 3, 1973, Delhi

“We have to hear and we have to speak. But if we are not interested in hearing and speaking, then it will be simply formula. That’s all. And gradually it will be stopped. Unless there is life of sravanam kirtanam, these big, big building, temples, will become burden. So if we are…, if we want to create burden for future, then we may give up this hearing and chanting and sleep very nicely. It will be burden. Galagraha. Not sri-vigraha, but galagraha. Galagraha. Sri-vigraha means worshipable Deity. So if we give up this sravanam kirtanam visnoh [SB 7.5.23], then it will be thought that “My Guru Maharaja has given a burden in the neck, galagraha.” This is the danger. So we must be very much alert in sravanam kirtanam. Otherwise, all this labor will be futile. This building will be only the nest, nest for the doves and the pigeons. That is the danger. That is being done. Nobody is interested.”

lecture on Srimad-Bhagavatam 1.8.19 — September 29, 1974, Mayapur

I believe that by focusing on training all devotees in the culture of discussing sastra according to the principles Srila Prabhupada himself outlines, we will be able to:

1: find solutions to the conflicts which threaten to divide us.

2: cultivate loving relationships.

3: help devotees become independently thoughtful and able to discern according to scripture so they can make spiritually healthy decisions in their lives.

4: enable devotees to authentically improve their mind and sense control.

5: and create a future in which there will be many devotees qualified to guide newcomers on the spiritual path. “One who is very eager to hear, he can become, in future, the spiritual master. ” lecture on SB 1.2.14-16; 27/03/’67; San Francisco.

 

I pray that ISKCON’S leaders will give this serious thought. I also pray that individual devotees proactively take steps to improve their own sadhu sanga practices by looking at the principles, useful tips, and discussion videos showcasing this approach to improving sanga.

Hare Krishna

The post A Sugesstion for Resolving Our Conflicts appeared first on ISKCON News.

The post A Sugesstion for Resolving Our Conflicts appeared first on ISKCON News.

Late Breasking News: Sadhu Sanga 2022 @ Spanish Fork, Utah!

Sun, 02/20/2022 - 11:10pm

Remember, once upon a time, there used to be a festival called the Sadhu Sanga ?!

By the mercy of Lord Nityananda Ram, the Sadhu Sanga Kirtan Retreat is happening again this year during the Memorial Day Weekend: May 27-30, 2022!

As we are just beginning to get out of the pandemic, this year will be an outdoor event, for extra safety. Which also means it will be held in a new outdoor venue in a new state: Shri Shri Radha Krishna Temple in Spanish Fork, Utah.

A lot of devotees on the West Coast have been asking us for years to have the retreat closer to the West Coast at least once. So we hope this choice would facilitate many of them to experience the bliss of the Sadhu Sanga retreat for the first time! And we hope kids will have a fun time petting the llamas, cows, peacocks and parrots in the Temple park.

We have invited the following esteemed kirtaneers for this event with more than half of them already confirming their attendance.

His Holiness Giriraja Swami
His Holiness B.B. Govinda Swami
His Holiness Sacinandana Swami
His Holiness Radhanath Swami
His Holiness Indradyumna Swami (the Organizer, confirmed, of course!)
His Grace Badahari Prabhu – confirmed
His Grace Vaisesika Prabhu – confirmed
His Grace Mahatma Prabhu
His Grace Madhava Prabhu – confirmed
His Grace Sri Prahlada Prabhu – confirmed

We’ll update the status of remaining confirmations on our website (https://www.sadhusangaretreat.com) as they confirm in the next few days.

This year all accommodations will be in offsite hotels that are 10-20 mins away from the venue as there are no onsite accommodations in the venue. We’ve already booked many of the nice hotels nearby at a group rate with a pretty good discount so we can offer you the whole retreat package at our usual low rates just enough to cover the costs.

We’re expecting to open the registration in a couple of weeks. We’ll send another email in a week with all the details such as registration costs, room sharing options, safety requirements related to Covid-19, etc.

Meanwhile, we just wanted to inform you all so you can save the date and start looking for good flight deals. The closest airport is Salt Lake City International Airport (SLC), an hour away from the venue.

For any burning questions that can’t wait till our next email with all the information, please email info@sadhusangaretreat.com

 

The post Late Breasking News: Sadhu Sanga 2022 @ Spanish Fork, Utah! appeared first on ISKCON News.

The post Late Breasking News: Sadhu Sanga 2022 @ Spanish Fork, Utah! appeared first on ISKCON News.

First Florida Ratha Yatra of 2022

Sun, 02/20/2022 - 11:10pm

Lord Jagannatha and Srila Prabhupada Bless 2022 Gasparilla Parade

Saturday, January 29, 2022, over 60 Hare Krishna devotees from all over Florida participated in the annual Seminole Hard Rock Gasparilla Pirate parade in Tampa, Florida. This is the 6th year authorities are approving the participation of the Hare Krishna devotees in the parade. This is not in the least a result of the devotees strictly adhering to the organizer’s rules for participation – refraining from book distribution, not making direct contact with the crowd, and ensuring participants are bringing the youthful energy of chanting to the event.



Lord Jagannatha, along with Lady Subhadra and Lord Baladeva, along with Srila Prabhupada rode on their Ratha-yatra chariot on top of a flatbed trailer, pulled by a pickup truck, as one of over 110 floats in the parade. The devotees chanted and danced in front of the chariot for over 8 hours along the 4-mile parade route, and Lord Jagannatha bestowed His merciful glance on thousands of onlookers. Even though it was the coldest Gasparilla parade in recent history, over 300, 000 people participated.

Passersby were invited to partake in prasadam ahead of the start of the parade and joined in the chanting and dancing to the beat of the 8 mridangas, various karatals, and vocals. The event was televised on Channel 8 and youtube.

Below is a link to a video compilation:

http://yoga.krishna.com/temp/Edited_forFB_Gasparilla_Parade_Ratha-yatra_2022.mov.zip

The post First Florida Ratha Yatra of 2022 appeared first on ISKCON News.

The post First Florida Ratha Yatra of 2022 appeared first on ISKCON News.

New Devotional Kids Book: Nimai’s Adventures

Sun, 02/20/2022 - 11:10pm

A new devotee children’s book, ‘Nimai’s Adventures’ based on the childhood pastimes of Lord Caitanya, written by Mandakini Devi Dasi is set to release March 2022.

The 200-page book with more than 70 beautifully illustrated pictures is based upon the scriptures, Chaitanya Bhagavat and Chaitanya Charitamrita. It is written in a narrative style revolving around the protagonist who is a ‘traveler’ mouse landing in Navadwip. On his journey, he meets many ‘devotee dhamvasi’ animals, who tell him various childhood pastimes of Nimai that had taken place in Navadwip.



The author of the book, Mandakini Devi Dasi, who is currently finishing the final year of her Bachelor’s Degree in English Literature and Language, shares her journey in Krishna Consciousness and what exactly intrigued her to write in the children’s genre.

Born and raised in the United Kingdom till the age of twelve, Mandakini Devi Dasi moved to Sridhaam Mayapur in 2013. Since her childhood, she has been engaged in Krishna Consciousness activities under the guidance of her parents and elder brother. She says her own experience has laid the foundation of the writing of this book.

”Growing up as a ‘devotee’ child, there are many challenges and advantages that you face. I personally experienced finding it challenging to balance my education as well as my Krishna Consciousness. I also experienced sometimes wishing there was more for children to read that would entertain my curiosity as well as keep me engaged. I, therefore, wanted to create something unique that could serve the purpose of both and hopefully help even a few children in the journey in Krishna Consciousness.”

She considers children and youth as the most crucial aspect of ISKCON and how important it is to nurture and sustain them. She explains,” A particular interest I have always had was how to engage children and youth in Krishna Consciousness, and make their experience fun and engaging. Since I am studying English, I thought writing a devotional book for children was a method to utilize my studies in something devotional. As a child, I loved reading devotional kids’ books; however, when it came to reading for school, I would have to switch to novels to improve my reading and writing skills. My main aim was to create a book that incorporated an educational aspect that assisted children in their vocabulary development and creative writing skills and enhanced their spiritual knowledge in a fun way. My family, husband and friends were also very encouraging which motivated me further.”

Mandakini Devi Dasi further adds,”My Gurumaharaj, HH Subhag Swami Maharaj, was my biggest inspiration, and I wanted to offer something as his disciple to him that would please him.”

Nimai’s Adventures covers the majority of Nimai’s childhood pastimes so that children can become well educated and familiar with the life of Lord Chaitanya!

Writing is an integral part of her life and she intends to write more subsequently. She says,” I write as a hobby and for educational purposes regularly. However, this is actually my first book that I have written for public release! I aim to write more sequel books to the Nimai Adventures series and more books that will assist devotee children’s English language and speech skills in a Krishna Conscious way in the near future.”

In addition to this, Mandakini Devi Dasi endeavors for more such service in the future,” After I finish university, I aim to contribute more to youth and children’s development in ISKCON. Along with a few other youths, I am currently involved in running a Mayapur youth development group, where we try to engage youth in preaching, devotional and recreational activities. I want to expand this eventually and share our experiences and techniques with other temples across the world whose youth may require these services. We want to be of some assistance to them.”

The post New Devotional Kids Book: Nimai’s Adventures appeared first on ISKCON News.

The post New Devotional Kids Book: Nimai’s Adventures appeared first on ISKCON News.

Nityananda Trayodasi and St Valentine

Sun, 02/20/2022 - 11:10pm

How do we harness the intoxicating power of falling in love to create the happiness that endures even after the initial flame dies away?

Philosophers began pondering this topic during Vedic times during the great revival of bhakti yoga, or the path of divine love and service in the 15th century and beyond.

Thus came the merciful Nityananda Prabhu, whose appearance we celebrate today which happens to also be the popular Valentine’s Day. Nityananda Prabhu was the closest associate of Sri Chaitanya Mahaprabhu, the founder of Gaudiya Vaishnavism and an avatar of none other than Krishna Himself, who spread the chanting of the Hare Krishna mantra as the most effective way to reach God during the 14- and 1500s in West Bengal. The Chaitanya-Bhagavata by Vrindavana Dasa Thakura tells us that one day, Sri Chaitanya requested Nityananda Prabhu and Haridasa Thakura, another great devotee dedicated to chanting the Holy Name: “Please go door to door, to every house, and beg everyone, ‘Chant the holy name of Krishna, worship Krishna and cultivate his devotional service.’”
The two devotees did so, coming across some who happily received them and agreed to their request and some who thought they were crazy and shut the door on them.

Our beloved founder, Srila Prabhupada brought these teachings to us and although we can never repay our debt to him, if we have the mood of wanting to repay that debt, then we should follow his merciful example, as he wrote: “If you at all feel indebted to me, then you should preach vigorously like me. That is the proper way to repay me. Of course, no one can repay the debt to the spiritual master, but the spiritual master is very much pleased by such an attitude by the disciple.” We should follow in his footsteps and preach vigorously, work together to spread Krsna consciousness. That should be our prayer.

So in this spirit, some of the Vaishnavis in New Vrindaban decided to join the Jerusalem dance challenge, basically taking up the challenge to perform a dance reel to the song Jerusalema, a gospel-influenced house song by South African producer and singer-songwriter Master KG featuring Nomcebo.

Our intention is to spread a little of the beauty and joy of New Vrindaban. While the song is in the Zulu language it has become popular across the globe– music is the universal language, after all—and we know from engaging in kirtan, what joy and harmony it brings to everyone participating.

The post Nityananda Trayodasi and St Valentine appeared first on ISKCON News.

The post Nityananda Trayodasi and St Valentine appeared first on ISKCON News.

Nityananda Trayodasi and St Valentine

Sun, 02/20/2022 - 8:53am

How do we harness the intoxicating power of falling in love to create the happiness that endures even after the initial flame dies away?

Philosophers began pondering this topic during Vedic times during the great revival of bhakti yoga, or the path of divine love and service in the 15th century and beyond.

Thus came the merciful Nityananda Prabhu, whose appearance we celebrate today which happens to also be the popular Valentine’s Day. Nityananda Prabhu was the closest associate of Sri Chaitanya Mahaprabhu, the founder of Gaudiya Vaishnavism and an avatar of none other than Krishna Himself, who spread the chanting of the Hare Krishna mantra as the most effective way to reach God during the 14- and 1500s in West Bengal. The Chaitanya-Bhagavata by Vrindavana Dasa Thakura tells us that one day, Sri Chaitanya requested Nityananda Prabhu and Haridasa Thakura, another great devotee dedicated to chanting the Holy Name: “Please go door to door, to every house, and beg everyone, ‘Chant the holy name of Krishna, worship Krishna and cultivate his devotional service.’”
The two devotees did so, coming across some who happily received them and agreed to their request and some who thought they were crazy and shut the door on them.

Our beloved founder, Srila Prabhupada brought these teachings to us and although we can never repay our debt to him, if we have the mood of wanting to repay that debt, then we should follow his merciful example, as he wrote: “If you at all feel indebted to me, then you should preach vigorously like me. That is the proper way to repay me. Of course, no one can repay the debt to the spiritual master, but the spiritual master is very much pleased by such an attitude by the disciple.” We should follow in his footsteps and preach vigorously, work together to spread Krsna consciousness. That should be our prayer.

So in this spirit, some of the Vaishnavis in New Vrindaban decided to join the Jerusalem dance challenge, basically taking up the challenge to perform a dance reel to the song Jerusalema, a gospel-influenced house song by South African producer and singer-songwriter Master KG featuring Nomcebo.

Our intention is to spread a little of the beauty and joy of New Vrindaban. While the song is in the Zulu language it has become popular across the globe– music is the universal language, after all—and we know from engaging in kirtan, what joy and harmony it brings to everyone participating.

The post Nityananda Trayodasi and St Valentine appeared first on ISKCON News.

New Devotional Kids Book: Nimai’s Adventures

Sun, 02/20/2022 - 8:40am

A new devotee children’s book, ‘Nimai’s Adventures’ based on the childhood pastimes of Lord Caitanya, written by Mandakini Devi Dasi is set to release March 2022.

The 200-page book with more than 70 beautifully illustrated pictures is based upon the scriptures, Chaitanya Bhagavat and Chaitanya Charitamrita. It is written in a narrative style revolving around the protagonist who is a ‘traveler’ mouse landing in Navadwip. On his journey, he meets many ‘devotee dhamvasi’ animals, who tell him various childhood pastimes of Nimai that had taken place in Navadwip.

The author of the book, Mandakini Devi Dasi, who is currently finishing the final year of her Bachelor’s Degree in English Literature and Language, shares her journey in Krishna Consciousness and what exactly intrigued her to write in the children’s genre.

Born and raised in the United Kingdom till the age of twelve, Mandakini Devi Dasi moved to Sridhaam Mayapur in 2013. Since her childhood, she has been engaged in Krishna Consciousness activities under the guidance of her parents and elder brother. She says her own experience has laid the foundation of the writing of this book.

”Growing up as a ‘devotee’ child, there are many challenges and advantages that you face. I personally experienced finding it challenging to balance my education as well as my Krishna Consciousness. I also experienced sometimes wishing there was more for children to read that would entertain my curiosity as well as keep me engaged. I, therefore, wanted to create something unique that could serve the purpose of both and hopefully help even a few children in the journey in Krishna Consciousness.”

She considers children and youth as the most crucial aspect of ISKCON and how important it is to nurture and sustain them. She explains,” A particular interest I have always had was how to engage children and youth in Krishna Consciousness, and make their experience fun and engaging. Since I am studying English, I thought writing a devotional book for children was a method to utilize my studies in something devotional. As a child, I loved reading devotional kids’ books; however, when it came to reading for school, I would have to switch to novels to improve my reading and writing skills. My main aim was to create a book that incorporated an educational aspect that assisted children in their vocabulary development and creative writing skills and enhanced their spiritual knowledge in a fun way. My family, husband and friends were also very encouraging which motivated me further.”

Mandakini Devi Dasi further adds,”My Gurumaharaj, HH Subhag Swami Maharaj, was my biggest inspiration, and I wanted to offer something as his disciple to him that would please him.”

Nimai’s Adventures covers the majority of Nimai’s childhood pastimes so that children can become well educated and familiar with the life of Lord Chaitanya!

Writing is an integral part of her life and she intends to write more subsequently. She says,” I write as a hobby and for educational purposes regularly. However, this is actually my first book that I have written for public release! I aim to write more sequel books to the Nimai Adventures series and more books that will assist devotee children’s English language and speech skills in a Krishna Conscious way in the near future.”

In addition to this, Mandakini Devi Dasi endeavors for more such service in the future,” After I finish university, I aim to contribute more to youth and children’s development in ISKCON. Along with a few other youths, I am currently involved in running a Mayapur youth development group, where we try to engage youth in preaching, devotional and recreational activities. I want to expand this eventually and share our experiences and techniques with other temples across the world whose youth may require these services. We want to be of some assistance to them.”

The post New Devotional Kids Book: Nimai’s Adventures appeared first on ISKCON News.

First Florida Ratha Yatra of 2022

Sun, 02/20/2022 - 8:27am

Lord Jagannatha and Srila Prabhupada Bless 2022 Gasparilla Parade

Saturday, January 29, 2022, over 60 Hare Krishna devotees from all over Florida participated in the annual Seminole Hard Rock Gasparilla Pirate parade in Tampa, Florida. This is the 6th year authorities are approving the participation of the Hare Krishna devotees in the parade. This is not in the least a result of the devotees strictly adhering to the organizer’s rules for participation – refraining from book distribution, not making direct contact with the crowd, and ensuring participants are bringing the youthful energy of chanting to the event.

Lord Jagannatha, along with Lady Subhadra and Lord Baladeva, along with Srila Prabhupada rode on their Ratha-yatra chariot on top of a flatbed trailer, pulled by a pickup truck, as one of over 110 floats in the parade. The devotees chanted and danced in front of the chariot for over 8 hours along the 4-mile parade route, and Lord Jagannatha bestowed His merciful glance on thousands of onlookers. Even though it was the coldest Gasparilla parade in recent history, over 300, 000 people participated.

Passersby were invited to partake in prasadam ahead of the start of the parade and joined in the chanting and dancing to the beat of the 8 mridangas, various karatals, and vocals. The event was televised on Channel 8 and youtube.

Below is a link to a video compilation:

http://yoga.krishna.com/temp/Edited_forFB_Gasparilla_Parade_Ratha-yatra_2022.mov.zip

The post First Florida Ratha Yatra of 2022 appeared first on ISKCON News.

Late Breasking News: Sadhu Sanga 2022 @ Spanish Fork, Utah!

Sun, 02/20/2022 - 8:10am

Remember, once upon a time, there used to be a festival called the Sadhu Sanga ?!

By the mercy of Lord Nityananda Ram, the Sadhu Sanga Kirtan Retreat is happening again this year during the Memorial Day Weekend: May 27-30, 2022!

As we are just beginning to get out of the pandemic, this year will be an outdoor event, for extra safety. Which also means it will be held in a new outdoor venue in a new state: Shri Shri Radha Krishna Temple in Spanish Fork, Utah.

A lot of devotees on the West Coast have been asking us for years to have the retreat closer to the West Coast at least once. So we hope this choice would facilitate many of them to experience the bliss of the Sadhu Sanga retreat for the first time! And we hope kids will have a fun time petting the llamas, cows, peacocks and parrots in the Temple park.

We have invited the following esteemed kirtaneers for this event with more than half of them already confirming their attendance.

His Holiness Giriraja Swami
His Holiness B.B. Govinda Swami
His Holiness Sacinandana Swami
His Holiness Radhanath Swami
His Holiness Indradyumna Swami (the Organizer, confirmed, of course!)
His Grace Badahari Prabhu – confirmed
His Grace Vaisesika Prabhu – confirmed
His Grace Mahatma Prabhu
His Grace Madhava Prabhu – confirmed
His Grace Sri Prahlada Prabhu – confirmed

We’ll update the status of remaining confirmations on our website (https://www.sadhusangaretreat.com) as they confirm in the next few days.

This year all accommodations will be in offsite hotels that are 10-20 mins away from the venue as there are no onsite accommodations in the venue. We’ve already booked many of the nice hotels nearby at a group rate with a pretty good discount so we can offer you the whole retreat package at our usual low rates just enough to cover the costs.

We’re expecting to open the registration in a couple of weeks. We’ll send another email in a week with all the details such as registration costs, room sharing options, safety requirements related to Covid-19, etc.

Meanwhile, we just wanted to inform you all so you can save the date and start looking for good flight deals. The closest airport is Salt Lake City International Airport (SLC), an hour away from the venue.

For any burning questions that can’t wait till our next email with all the information, please email info@sadhusangaretreat.com

 

The post Late Breasking News: Sadhu Sanga 2022 @ Spanish Fork, Utah! appeared first on ISKCON News.

A Sugesstion for Resolving Our Conflicts

Sun, 02/20/2022 - 7:59am

I would like to start by offering my respectful obeisance unto all those who love or respect Srila Prabhupada and desire to see his mission succeed, regardless of their level of practice, philosophical persuasions, and institutional affiliations. I am a neophyte on the devotional path, but I hope you will accept any truth you perceive in what I share here. As Srila Prabhupada said, the wise take gold even from a filthy place.

I see our movement suffering because of various conflicts and polemics, and many individual devotees also suffer despite practicing Krishna consciousness. This may be due to not properly understanding what should or should not be done, or to difficulty in controlling the mind and senses, or perhaps in cultivating loving spiritual relationships.

I believe that the key to resolving our institutional and individual difficulties is improving the culture of sadhu sanga within ISKCON. I see the GBC is trying to protect the institution by controlling some of our important decisions with legislation, such as by controlling the process of diksha. I believe they have also stipulated certain ‘official’ philosophical positions, for example around whether we were ever with Krishna, and more recently I understand they have introduced a code of ethics.

There may be other areas of which I am unaware, I believe that an ‘ISKCON Law Book’ is being compiled, and I fully accept that all this is with the honest desire to maintain the highest standards in our society. However, with a straw between my teeth, I humbly suggest that we replace the tendency to control devotees’ decisions with better training in the culture of good sadhu sanga. Srila Prabhupada famously told Karandhara not to centralize control over any aspect other than book printing and distribution. In all other areas, devotees must be trained to think for themselves. He explicitly warned that attempts to centrally control other decisions would spoil everything.

Do not centralize anything. Each temple must remain independent and self-sufficient. That was my plan from the very beginning, why you are thinking otherwise? Once before you wanted to do something centralizing with your GBC meeting, and if I did not interfere the whole thing would have been killed. Do not think in this way of big corporation, big credits, centralization—these are all nonsense proposals. Only thing I wanted was that books printing and distribution should be centralized, therefore I appointed you and Bali Mardan to do it. Otherwise, management, everything, should be done locally by local men. Accounts must be kept, things must be in order and lawfully done, but that should be each temple’s concern, not yours. Krishna Consciousness Movement is for training men to be independently thoughtful and competent in all types of departments of knowledge and action, not for making bureaucracy. Once there is bureaucracy the whole thing will be spoiled. Letter to Karandhara in Dec ‘72

Of course, this admonishment related specifically to a plan to centralize administration, butstill, Srila Prabhupada said that our movement should be training us to be “independently thoughtful.” In SB 9.10.50 purport, he points out that even nation-states that have the power to physically punish their citizens cannot make them good just by passing and enforcing laws.

“Simply enforcing laws and ordinances cannot make the citizens obedient and lawful. That is impossible. Throughout the entire world there are so many states, legislative assemblies and parliaments, but still the citizens are rogues and thieves. Good citizenship, therefore, cannot be enforced; the citizens must be trained.”

 

From this, I understand that a more effective way of protecting ISKCON and ensuring good behaviour from its members is through training. Training in what? Srila Prabhupada gives the answer to that question in SB 3.3.6 purport:

“…unless and until one is trained in the culture of good association, one cannot become good.”

Good association is sadhu sanga. Good association means to hear about and glorify Krishna in the association of devotees.

…hearing and chanting of the glories of the Lord can be made possible in the association of devotees only. Lord Caitanya therefore recommended five main principles for attaining perfection in the devotional service of the Lord. The first is association with devotees (hearing); SB 2.9.31 purport

 

On several occasions Srila Prabhupada instructed ISKCON leaders to concentrate on improving the culture of good association in ISKCON:

Your first job should be to make sure that every one of the devotees in your zone of management is reading regularly my literatures and discussing the subject matter seriously from different angles of seeing, and that they are somehow or other absorbing the knowledge of Krishna Consciousness philosophy. If they are fully educated in my philosophy and if they can get all of the knowledge and study it from every viewpoint, then very easily they will perform tapasya or renunciation and that will be their advancement in Krishna Consciousness. Letter to Satsvarupa Maharaja ‘72

So I want you leaders especially to become very much absorbed in the philosophy of Bhagavad-gita, Srimad-Bhagavatam, and become yourselves completely convinced and free from all doubt. On this platform you shall be able to carry on the work satisfactorily, but if there is lack of knowledge, or if there is forgetfulness, everything will be spoiled in time. So especially you must encourage the students to read my books throughout the day as much as possible, and give them all good advice how to understand the books, and inspire them to study the things from every point of view. In this way, by constantly engaging my tongues in the service of the Lord, either by

discussing His philosophy or by chanting Hare Krishna, the truth is that Krishna Himself will reveal Himself to us and I shall understand how to do everything properly. Now I have got so many students and so many temples but I am fearful that if I expand too much in this way that I shall become weakened and gradually the whole thing will become lost. Just like milk. I may thin it more and more with water for cheating the customer, but in the end it will cease to be any longer milk. Better to boil the milk now very vigorously and make it thick and sweet, that is the best process. So let us concentrate on training my devotees very thoroughly in the knowledge of Krishna Consciousness from my books, from tapes, by discussing always, and in so many ways instruct them in the right propositions. Letter to Hansadutta, 22/6/’72, Los Angeles.

—-

The correct culture of good association is called vada, as opposed to vitanda and jalpa. These terms are defined in Baladeva Vidyabusana’s Govinda Bhasya commentary to 10.32.

When both parties desire to win by establishing their own opinion with proofs and arguments, and by refuting the opponent’s view with circumvention….false generalization…and syllogistic fault…it is called jalpa. When one party refutes the opponent’s view (by the above means), without establishing his own opinion, it is called vitanda. These two types of debate, with a desire to win, simply display skill in debating and bear no result. That discussion having a desire for truth is called vada. Being outstanding for being fruitful in determining truth, vada is My vibhuti.”

This I feel is an extremely important point which I would like to explore further in future articles, trying to elucidate the above passage and demonstrate how jalpa and vitanda frequently mar discussions within ISKCON.

For now, I would like to touch on some of the many instructions that Srila Prabhupada gives regarding the culture of good association. For a fuller delineation of his instructions on this topic, kindly see the ‘Principles’ menu on . According to Srila Prabhupada only a devotee can teach us how to discuss according to the principles of vada.

In order to become really learned, we have to associate with devotees. Then we can actually relish kṛṣṇa-kathā. When discussed among devotees, kṛṣṇa-kathā is pleasing to the heart and ear. This requires a little training, and this training is given by the devotees. TLK chp 12

For us, the most qualified person to teach us is Srila Prabhupada himself. Here are some items of good sadhu sanga that I have seen in his teachings:

 

1. Discussing is better than passive reading or hearing:

Generally, people cannot understand. But if one understands, he becomes liberated. If some way or other… It is not very difficult; simply we have to associate with devotees and discuss this literature. Then we’ll understand Kṛṣṇa very easily. (Lecture 5/6/’76)

 

2. We should become practiced in seeing from different perspectives (not just our own):

“I am very much stressing nowadays that my students shall increase their reading of my books and try to understand them from different angles of vision. Each sloka can be seen from many, many angles of vision, so become practiced in seeing things like this.” (letter to: Tribhuvanatha — Los Angeles 16 June, 1972)

 

3. We should speak very respectfully to each other, and always cite scriptural evidence:

The process of speaking in spiritual circles is to say something upheld by the scriptures. One should at once quote from scriptural authority to back up what he is saying. At the same time, such talk should be very pleasurable to the ear. By such discussions, one may derive the highest benefit and elevate human society. (BG 17.15 purport)

 

4. We should repeat what we read in our own words:

It is not very difficult. Just read from my books and try and explain the meaning in your own words. (letter to Sudama; 26/01/’73)

There are many benefits if we practice sadhu sanga correctly. Here are some of those benefits delineated in BG, SB and directly by Srila Prabhupada.

 

In BG chapter 109-11, Krishna says:

The thoughts of My pure devotees dwell in Me, their lives are fully devoted to My service, and they derive great satisfaction and bliss from always enlightening one another and conversing about Me.

To those who are constantly devoted to serving Me with love, I give the understanding by which they can come to Me.

To show them special mercy, I, dwelling in their hearts, destroy with the shining lamp of knowledge the darkness born of ignorance.

 

SB 11.3.30-31 Śrī Prabuddha says:

One should learn how to associate with the devotees of the Lord by gathering with them to chant the glories of the Lord. This process is most purifying. As devotees thus develop their loving friendship, they feel mutual happiness and satisfaction. And by thus encouraging one another they are able to give up material sense gratification, which is the cause of all suffering.

The devotees of the Lord constantly discuss the glories of the Personality of Godhead among themselves. Thus they constantly remember the Lord and remind one another of His qualities and pastimes. In this way, by their devotion to the principles of bhakti-yoga, the devotees please the Personality of Godhead, who takes away from them everything inauspicious. Being purified of all impediments, the devotees awaken to

pure love of Godhead, and thus, even within this world, their spiritualized bodies exhibit symptoms of transcendental ecstasy, such as standing of the bodily hairs on end.

 

Srila Prabhupada writes to his disciple Bhagavatananda in ’72:

“Try to always study my books and see my philosophy from different lights of directions, become convinced yourself of this knowledge and without a doubt all of your difficulties of mind will disappear forever and you will see Krishna face-to-face.”

If we find that our attempts to resolve conflicts or confusions turn into polemics it is probably because we are not applying the culture of good association. One or both parties may be resorting to circumvention, faulty syllogisims and false generalisations as mentioned above. Such discussion will not help us become either individually or collectively happy and successful.

Srila Prabhupada saw sastra discussion as critical to our spiritual progress. He warns us of the danger of minimizing it:

“If you are not interested in association, discussion, then you are finished. So? Karmis, they are fools and rascals. When you have got this center, it is not that you should be engaged from morning till you go to bed for sense gratification. That is not life. That is karmi’s life. You have no time for sat-sanga, for association. You cannot make any progress by this sort of karmi’s life. We have to work for organization, but not that whole day and night engaged and no sat-sanga. That is a misguided policy, and it will spoil the whole structure.”

Room Conversation on Srimad-Bhagavatam 1.10.11– November 3, 1973, Delhi

“We have to hear and we have to speak. But if we are not interested in hearing and speaking, then it will be simply formula. That’s all. And gradually it will be stopped. Unless there is life of sravanam kirtanam, these big, big building, temples, will become burden. So if we are…, if we want to create burden for future, then we may give up this hearing and chanting and sleep very nicely. It will be burden. Galagraha. Not sri-vigraha, but galagraha. Galagraha. Sri-vigraha means worshipable Deity. So if we give up this sravanam kirtanam visnoh [SB 7.5.23], then it will be thought that “My Guru Maharaja has given a burden in the neck, galagraha.” This is the danger. So we must be very much alert in sravanam kirtanam. Otherwise, all this labor will be futile. This building will be only the nest, nest for the doves and the pigeons. That is the danger. That is being done. Nobody is interested.”

lecture on Srimad-Bhagavatam 1.8.19 — September 29, 1974, Mayapur

I believe that by focusing on training all devotees in the culture of discussing sastra according to the principles Srila Prabhupada himself outlines, we will be able to:

1: find solutions to the conflicts which threaten to divide us.

2: cultivate loving relationships.

3: help devotees become independently thoughtful and able to discern according to scripture so they can make spiritually healthy decisions in their lives.

4: enable devotees to authentically improve their mind and sense control.

5: and create a future in which there will be many devotees qualified to guide newcomers on the spiritual path. “One who is very eager to hear, he can become, in future, the spiritual master. ” lecture on SB 1.2.14-16; 27/03/’67; San Francisco.

 

I pray that ISKCON’S leaders will give this serious thought. I also pray that individual devotees proactively take steps to improve their own sadhu sanga practices by looking at the principles, useful tips, and discussion videos showcasing this approach to improving sanga.

Hare Krishna

The post A Sugesstion for Resolving Our Conflicts appeared first on ISKCON News.

Srila Prabhupada’s Mayapur Bhajan Kutir: A Brief History

Sat, 02/19/2022 - 1:37pm

What is known as the ‘bhajan kutir’ in ISKCON Mayapur is the first structure built on the property. It was also the original ‘temple’, functioning as chota Radha Madhava’s first place of worship when They arrived in Mayapur in 1972. An entire day is dedicated to this ‘temple’ during the Radha Madhava Golden Jubilee Festival from March 2 – 5, the 50th Anniversary of that arrival.

The kutir was built by Acyutananda Swami in 1971 on the order of Srila Prabhupada, who personally instructed him about the materials to use and the manpower to hire. Acyutananda Swami oversaw the design, construction and finances. When Prabhupada arrived in Mayapur and saw the finished kutir he happily remarked, “It shall be called Acyutananda Cottage.”

Bhavananda das recalls a most prophetic and important event :

The story regarding the straw house or bhajan kutir, as it was later called, and the TOVP really requires to be seen as well as heard because of Prabhupada’s arm gesture. However, I will try to narrate as best I can. In June, 1973 Prabhupada was in Mayapur and was staying in the Lotus building. That building was erected at the backmost border of our ISKCON land. The bhajan kutir was at the front border of the land next to Bhaktisiddhant road. The empty land between consisted of many paddy or rice fields. It was all just empty flat fields where Prabhupada had planned for the main temple to be constructed. During a morning walk Prabhupada and I were standing in front of the straw house. I turned to him and said, “Should we demolish this since we don’t use it anymore?” Prabhupada was quiet for a moment and then he said, “No, let the people see – this is what we were”, and then with a grand swing of his right arm he pointed up to his right and said, “and this is what we have become”. And, of course, as we now know he was pointing directly to where the TOVP stands today.

From Prabhupada Lilamrta by Satsvarupa Goswami:

The monsoons came, and the Ganges spilled over her banks, flooding the entire ISKCON Mayapur property. Acyutananda Swami had built a straw and bamboo hut where Prabhupada was soon to stay, but the waters rose until Acyutananda Swami had to live in the bamboo rafters. He wrote Prabhupada that had it not been for Bhaktisiddhanta Road the damage would have been extensive. Prabhupada replied, “Yes, we were saved by Srila Bhaktisiddhanta Road. We shall always expect to be saved by His Divine Grace Srila Bhaktisiddhanta Saraswati Goswami Maharaja Prabhupada. Always pray to His Lotus Feet. Whatever success we have had in preaching Lord Caitanya’s mission all over the world is only due to His mercy.”

This year also celebrates the 50th Anniversary of the Perfect Questions, Perfect Answers book conversation between Srila Prabhupada and Brahmatirtha das (Bob Cohen) who, as a young Peace Corps worker in India at the time, met with Srila Prabhupada in the bhajan kutir for three consecutive days. Published in 1977, Srila Prabhupada personally gave the title of the book, and millions of copies have been distributed worldwide in over fifty languages since then.

 

More pictures are available on tovp.org

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A Revolution is Born

Sat, 02/19/2022 - 9:30am

Take part in this historic inauguration of the reborn Bhaktivinode Asana at #1 Ultadanga Road in Kolkata.

100 years ago this year, on the roof of the building, the seed of ISKCON was planted in the heart of Srila Prabhupada by Srila Bhaktisiddhanta Saraswati Thakur.

ISKCON Kolkata acquired this historic property and has completely restored it as it was then.

Join us for a live broadcast of the inauguration on February 21st and be inspired by the power of the humble start of what is now a global movement.

The old building at #1 Ultadanga Road is the same one where Om Vishnupada Srila Bhaktisiddhanta Saraswati Maharaj started his preaching movement and resided for 14 years (1918 to 1932) out of the total 18 years of his preaching mission.

And this is the historic place where His Divine Grace A.C Bhaktivedanta Swami Prabhupada met Srila Bhaktisiddhanta Prabhupada for the very first time and received the momentous instruction to spread Krishna consciousness in the West.

By the grace of Srila Prabhupada, ISKCON has acquired the old property, which had become dilapidated and in danger of collapse, and fully restored it.

Now, as a fitting offering on the 148th Vyasa Puja ceremony of Srila Bhaktisiddhanta Saraswati Prabhupada, ISKCON Kolkata will inaugurate the newly restored building with a daylong event.

The entire day’s program will be broadcast live on GBCSPT YouTube and Facebook channels, starting at 9 a.m. IST.

Facebook: Inauguration of #1 Ultadanga Road

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The Appearance Day of Narottama Dasa Thakura

Wed, 02/16/2022 - 5:46pm

Narottama Dasa Thakura was a leading acharya in the Gaudiya Vaisnava line. He was the only disciple of Srila Lokanatha Gosvami. Srila Narottama Dasa Thakura helped bring the books of the Goswami’s from Vrndavana to Bengal and Orissa.

Appearing as the son of a king, Sri Narottama Dasa Thakura (Shri Thakura Mahasaya) showed all the bodily symptoms of a mahapurusha (an exalted divine person). He had long arms, a deep navel, golden-complexion, beautiful eyes shaped like the lotus petals. In school, he was a sruti dhara (able to memorize whatever he heard). Although he quickly mastered Sanskrit and the Vedas, he hankered to serve Krishna. He was a lifelong brahmachari. By the mercy of the Holy Name Gaura-Nitai, Narottama became detached, left his opulent family, and ran to Vrindavana. He took diksha from Sri Lokanatha Goswami and siksha in Gaudiya philosophy from Sri Jiva Goswami.

When he arrived in Navadwipa-dhama all the Devotees asked him about the health and activities of the Goswamis in Vrindavana. They were eager to hear the news from Vrindavana. After visiting all of Gauranga’s pastime places in Gaura Mandala, Narottama Dasa did the same in Shri Kshetra Dhama (Jagannatha Puri). Then he went to see the Devotees and Shri Chaitanya’s pastime spots in Shantipura, Shri Khanda, Kanthak Nagar, Ekachakra, and Kheturi Gram.

In Kheturi, Shri Narottama Dasa Thakura arranged the famous Kheturi Mahotsava. This was the first “Gaura-Purnima” festival to honor the divine appearance day of Shri Krishna Chaitanya Mahaprabhu. During the festival six Deities were installed: Shri Gauranga Deva, Shri Vallabhi Kanta, Shri Vraja Mohana, Shri Krishna, Shri Radha Kanta, Shri Radha Ramana.

With his sweet voice, Narottama Dasa began a wonderful kirtana. His chanting filled the heavens and brought down tears of prema from the eyes of the Devotees, who were all sporting in the ocean of ecstasy. “In the midst of their kirtana, the munificent Shri Chaitanya Himself and all His personal associates appeared and joined in the sankirtana. Like a flash of lightning in the midst of a mass of beautiful blue clouds, Shri Chaitanya Himself appeared in the crowd of Devotees through a divine manifestation.” (Bhakti-ratnakar)

“At that time, although Mahaprabhu had, left this world years before, many different devotees saw Mahaprabhu in different ways. Those of Sri Navadvipa dhama saw Him more intimately as Nimaicandra or Visvambhara, as they knew Him during His youth. Those devotees were attracted to Mahaprabhu in sakhya and vatsalya rasa. The followers of the six Gosvamis, who only knew Mahaprabhu as a sannyasi, related to Him in the mood of dasya rasa. And hundreds of devotees also worshiped Lord Caitanya in an aisvarya mood of awe and reverence.
Srila Narottama Dasa Thakur sang numerous songs. One which is most famous in Sri Mayapur Dham is Sri Krishna Caitanya Prabhu Doya Koro More.

The devotees of the Mayapur community happen to sing this song every day during Darshan Arati of Sri Pancha Tattva.
(1)
śrī-kṛṣṇa-caitanya prabhu doyā koro more
tomā binā ke doyālu jagat-saḿsāre
(2)
patita-pāvana-hetu tava avatāra
mo sama patita prabhu nā pāibe āra
(3)
hā hā prabhu nityānanda, premānanda sukhī
kṛpābalokana koro āmi boro duḥkhī
(4)
doyā koro sītā-pati adwaita gosāi
tava kṛpā-bale pāi caitanya-nitāi
(5)
gaura premamaya tanu paṇḍita gadādhara
srīnivāsa haridāsa doyāra sāgara
(6)
hā hā swarūp, sanātana, rūpa, raghunātha
bhaṭṭa-juga, śrī-jīva hā prabhu lokanātha
(7)
doyā koro śrī-ācārya prabhu śrīnivāsa
rāmacandra-sańga māge narottama-dāsa
Translation:
1) My dear Lord Caitanya, please be merciful to me, because who can be more merciful than Your Lordship within these three worlds?
2) Your incarnation is just to reclaim the conditioned, fallen souls, but I assure You that You will not find a greater fallen soul than me. Therefore, my claim is first.
3) My dear Lord Nityananda, You are always joyful in spiritual bliss. Since You always appear very happy, I have come to You because I am most unhappy. If You kindly put Your glance over me, then I may also become happy.
4) My dear Advaita Prabhu, husband of Sita, You are so kind. Please be merciful to me. If You are kind to me, naturally Lord Caitanya and Nityananda will also be kind to me.
5) Gaura’s love embodiment is shown by Gadadhara Pandita. Srinivasa Pandita and Haridasa Thakura are the ocean of mercy.
6) O Svarupa Damodara, personal secretary of Lord Caitanya, O six Gosvamis O Sri Rupa Gosvami, Sri Sanatana Gosvami, Sri Raghunatha Bhatta Gosvami, Sri Gopala Bhatta Gosvami, Sri Jiva Gosvami, and Sri Raghunatha dasa Gosvami! O Lokanatha Gosvami, my beloved spiritual master! Narottama dasa also prays for your mercy.
7) O Srinivasa Acarya, successor to the six Gosvamis! Please be merciful to me. Narottama dasa always desires the company of Ramacandra Cakravarti.

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The Residents of New Vrindaban: Divyangi Devi Dasi

Wed, 02/16/2022 - 5:23pm

ISKCON News is proud to announce a new and inspiring interview series, a new look into the world of living the Bhakti Yoga life. In this interview series, we talk to the devotees of New Vrindaban, West Virginia to ask them how they feel living fully immersed in devotional life.

Today we introduce you to Divyangi devi dasi, a well-known New York Harinam book distributor who is now a New Vrindaban resident.

Where do you hail from originally?
Divyangi Devi Dasi: I am originally from Minsk, Belarus.

How long have you lived at New Vrindaban?
I’ve permanently moved here in September 2021.

Oh so fairly new, what is it like living at New Vrindaban?
In my experience, every day something amazing happens here in New Vrindaban, inwardly and outwardly. Living here is transformative, I always learn so many new things about myself and my relationships with devotees. I feel like for me personally, it is a good place to work on my boundaries and recognition of my bodily and mental limits. At the same time, this place uncovers many talents and it’s easy to get involved and enjoy something I’ve never done before.

What are some of your favorite things about staying at New Vrindaban?
There’s always something going on here, in the temple, or in devotees’ houses or outside. It’s kind of like in my childhood, wherever you go there’s adventure everywhere.

I like living in nature and have an opportunity to just take a walk to the forest when I feel like I need it. I also like that it’s quite remote and it feels nice to be able to come back to a peaceful place after Book Distribution in town, for example.

I also like how encouraging devotees are to start new initiatives and engage others in them.

Do you think living in New Vrindaban helps your bhakti?
It definitely helps my spiritual growth. This growth is not always pleasant and comfortable, but encountering all sorts of situations here, helps me to become more responsible and serious in my spiritual practice and my relationship with devotees.

What service do you do there? What are some of your favorite services?
I am a pujari, and love it so much!
It’s quite common to organize book/prasadam distribution events, which I enjoy so much too. Recently I started helping with social media. And I absolutely love gardening services; although it’s hard to find time to do everything here when this opportunity actually comes, I appreciate it a lot!

Are you involved in any special projects or initiatives there?
I would say so. Every devotional festival in the temple is a special project here, as a pujari I am involved in all of them. Also, I have started helping with social media projects.

Do you feel you learning any particular skills there?
I would say I’m constantly learning about Deity Seva and the art of relationships with devotees.

Thanks so much for sitting down and talking to us today, Is there anything else you would like to add?
I feel and see how New Vrindaban is a Holy Dham, which is sometimes is not easy to deal with, it brings up the highest joy, as well as the deepest anarthas in me. Like other temples is a very good place for purification, as we say, but it works better for a devotee who looks for such purification. And I do. Absolutely wonderful place to visit and see what your experience will be like!

Stay tuned for more Interviews with the residents of New Vrindaban every month exclusively on ISKCON News. To book a stay at New Vrindaban visit newvrindaban.com/lodge

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Bhakti Kids Sangha Podcast

Sun, 02/13/2022 - 10:52am

Bhakti Kids Sanga had started out with having devotional activities for families, resources for parents, and even yoga classes for children, but they heard a need in their community. There has seemed to be an influx of Hare Krishna podcasts popping up, but nothing geared towards children and family. “I’ve even noticed parents on Facebook groups for homeschooling say they wish there was a podcast”  Abhidheya devi dasi shared with us.

So I’ve started one, the first episode is feb 26th, 2020. So far I have the lead teacher of the Sydney Sanskrit school, Madhu devi, the author of Janma Lila, Avatar Lila das, and Urmila Prabhu confirmed so far.”

 

This coming February 26th, You will be able to watch the premiere podcast on their Youtube here. The podcast will also be broadcasted on their Facebook page.

In our day in age, especially in a pandemic where so many of us cannot associate in-person, podcasts are an essential connection, and family podcasts overall are not focused on much in media. Bhakti Kids Sanga provides families with a unique, flexible, and customizable way to bond and have discussions. Through this podcast, families can find common interests to celebrate, explore, discover new passions, and be introduced to topics in fun formats that are engaging and educational.

 

To be seen and heard is a tremendous benefit to our practice, our mind, and then reflects back on how we treat our families. Bhakti Kids Sanga not only helps connect families with resources and activities to do, it builds community.

 

Connect

The new podcast will be simultaneously broadcasted on Facebook and YouTube.

Stay connected with Bhakti Kids Sangha

Facebook

YouTube

Instagram

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