In The Midst Of World Events

These dark things are always around us in many forms which we can see to varying degrees every day, and I’ve directly experienced this in a more extreme way in my past; but I feel that by trying to connect to the loving center together, we can purify ourselves and help purify those around us in our short lives.

This is a letter written recently by Varun, a sincere newcomer to Krishna consciousness, in response to a message from someone expressing deep frustration over current world events. Continue reading “In The Midst Of World Events”

Divine appearance day of Srila Sridhar Maharaj

A very beautiful, inspired, and flowing discourse by our Gurudev, Srila Bhakti Sundar Govinda Deva-Goswami Maharaj, speaking on the divine appearance day of Srila Bhakti Rakshak Sridhar Deva Goswami Maharaj in Soquel, California, 3 November 2007. Continue reading “Divine appearance day of Srila Sridhar Maharaj”

Yes, "Every wave is favourable"—with properly adjusted vision.

I received this question in response to an article of Srila Gurudev’s posted awhile ago:

In regards to your recent post of Srila Gurudeva’s beautiful words of encouragement. Please could you explain to me this: here he says:

“Whatever is considered good and whatever is considered bad in this mundane world—everything is bad here. Maybe that is affection, or maybe that is enviousness. Maybe that is apparently good or bad, but everything is bad.”

Then, my question is: in other places we are hearing, that ‘Everything is good’ and that ‘every wave is favorable’… how shall we explain or harmonize these two?

I thought I would post my response here for the clarification of any others who may have had the same question:

In response to the points that you brought up:

Here Srila Gurudev is referring to everything coming from the wave of the material energy—not how we will perceive and respond to it.

Srila Gurudev quotes this famous verse of Sri Chaitanya-charitamrta (3.4.176),

‘dvaite’ bhadrābhadra-jñāna, saba — ‘manodharma’
‘ei bhāla, ei manda’, — ei saba ‘bhrama’

“In the material world, conceptions of good and bad are all mental speculations. Therefore, saying ‘This is good’ and ‘This is bad’ is all a mistake.”

And similarly in Srimad Bhagavad-gita it is repeatedly pointed out that everything pertaining to the material energy should be seen with equal vision because it is all standing on a false platform; it is all within the plane of mundane duality:

sukha-duḥkhe same kṛtvā lābhālābhau jayājayau
tato yuddhāya yujyasva naivaṁ pāpam avāpsyasi

“Considering pleasure and pain, gain and loss, and victory and defeat to be one and the same—fight. No sin will be incurred by you.”

vidyā-vinaya-sampanne brāhmaṇe gavi hastini
śuni chaiva śvapāke cha paṇḍitāḥ sama-darśinaḥ

“The humble sages, by virtue of true knowledge, see with equal vision a learned and gentle brāhmaṇa, a cow, an elephant, a dog and a dog-eater.”

From a devotional perspective, everything coming from the material wave, whatever the material energy has to offer to us, whether superficially good or bad (wealth, poverty, beauty, ugliness, fame, obscurity, etc) is of temporary value and will ultimately take us away from Krishna so it should all be seen as unfavourable.

Everything coming from the spiritual wave, on the other hand, is positive and to be embraced, because however it may manifest, whether apparently favourable or unfavourable, it is coming from the plane of truth and can thus adjust us to Reality the Beautiful.

As Srila Bhaktivinod Thakur sings in Atma-nivedana,

tomāra sevāya, duḥkha haya yata,
seo ta’ parama sukha
sevā-sukha-duḥkha, parama sampada,
nāśaye avidyā-duḥkha

“All the distress I encounter in Your service is also my greatest happiness. Both the distress and the happiness that come from engagement in Your service are my greatest fortune; they both destroy the distress of ignorance.”

As we’ve heard from Srila Sridhar Maharaj, Srila Bhakti Siddhanta Saraswati Thakur in his final days was fond of the expression “Religion is proper adjustment.” So, yes, “every wave is favourable”—with properly adjusted vision. It is all about in what interest what we see and experience is being considered. For example, say you receive a million dollar job offer from a big corporation. You could make a lot of money, but in order to do so you would have to give up all association, service, preaching, etc. Therefore through the lens of spiritual vision you may reject the proposal as being unfavourable to your devotional life. Or on a more base level, say somebody offers you a hamburger, or drugs, etc. A relative or an old friend who loves us dearly may want to sit and discuss many topics with us which are no longer of any interest to us. On a more subtle level, in our day-to-day service life we have to constantly discriminate and make decisions as to what is favourable and unfavourable.

Pratikulya vivarjanah, “Rejection of the unfavourable” is actually one of the six limbs of surrender so it is quite a crucial part of our devotional life. This whole process however is not contradictory to the concept that “every wave is favourable”. Srila Sridhar Maharaj defines progress as “elimination and new acceptance”. Through the devotional lens, in the interest of a higher truth, to reject something which otherwise may be considered favourable, actually clarifies and strengthens our own faith and conception. To assert, “No, I reject this as unfavourable to my spiritual life” is actually a supremely positive moment because it is an embrace of higher truth, it is an embrace of Guru and Gauranga and all they are trying to give us.

This idea that “every wave is favourable” is not something to be applied in a passive way. This is a dangerous way in which this concept can be applied. It is not that everything should be accepted at face value in a passive way. Rather everything must be seen in terms of the higher interest and at times in order to assert the higher interest we may need to resist the mayic flow. Perceiving the environment in terms of the higher interest may entail a fight at times. Someone is coming to attack or insult Guru and Vaishnava and I will sit passively because “every wave is favourable”? That response brings us to the Brahman conception. No, I must assert myself in their interest and protect them. I will see this as a service opportunity and in that way “every wave is favourable.”

So the tricky part is knowing when to respond to situations in a passive or active way. And there’s no ‘one size fits all’ here, we will have to consider on a case by case basis, also factoring in individual capacity and responsibility.

I hope this is somewhat helpful. I’m also reminded of this short article I wrote a couple years ago, which is somewhat related.


—Vishakha dasi.

Villa Govinda Reflections

It is our good fortune that we were able to participate in the festivals which concluded last week at our Villa Govinda Ashram on the outskirts of Milan, Italy. The focus of the festival was the inauguration of our Gurudev’s, His Divine Grace Srila Bhakti Sundar Govinda Dev-Goswami Maharaj’s, pushpa samadhi, which took place on Sunday 12 August, the day after Srila Param Guru Maharaj’s, His Divine Grace Srila Bhakti Raksak Sridhar Dev-Goswami Maharaj’s, disappearance anniversary. Sripad Tyagi Maharaj acted as the priest and performed a fire sacrifice at the start of the ceremony; afterwards Sripad Madhusudan Maharaj spoke for some time in glorification of Srila Gurudev. Finally, with a flower which had been preserved from one of Srila Gurudev’s personal garlands on the day of his departure, Krishna Kanta Didi inaugurated the new pushpa samadhi for His Divine Grace. Munindra Mohan Prabhu then concluded by performing an arati to His Divine Grace, accompanied by the singing of Sri Guru Arati and heartfelt offerings of flowers from the devotees and sincere seekers present who had travelled from Italy, USA, England, Brazil, Venezuela, Portugal, Holland, Hungary, Ireland, Latvia, and Ukraine to be a part of this momentous occasion.
We are blessed to have been associated with the Villa Govinda Ashram since its beginnings in 2003, and were present when our beloved Srila Gurudev visited both in 2003 and then again in 2007. On those occasions Srila Gurudev appeared very happy, relaxed, and at home, and many felt that his mercy was flowing very freely there. Srila Gurudev was particularly pleased with the service of the Italian devotees headed by Krishna Kanta DD and Munindra Mohan Prabhu, and was greatly moved by the sacrifice of Krishna Kanta, who manifest the ashram while facing a life-threatening illness. It was there at Villa Govinda that Srila Gurudev revealed his inner heart and pain of separation and openly shed tears on the disappearance day of Srila Param Guru Maharaj in July of 2003. He had also been very specific, when the tour was in the planning stages, about wanting to observe that day with the devotees in Italy.
At Villa Govinda Srila Gurudev had no pressure to give formal lectures or instruction, and rather when he spoke it was when he wanted to, as if with his close friends, and there would be long periods when he would sit in a comfortable silence with the devotees at different places around the ashram. He liked to observe the beautiful panoramic view surrounding the ashram, perched on the corner of a hilltop.
The presiding Deity at the ashram is Sri Giriraj, of whom Srila Gurudev commented, “Bala Gopaljiu is playing inside there”. He is worshipped with natural faith and affection, without much formality, mantras, and so on, as per Srila Gurudev’s direction.
Srila Gurudev would sometimes speak of “the bright future” that is awaiting all the sincere practitioners of this line. One day during his visit to Villa Govinda in 2007, speaking with the devotees about the charm of Sri Krishna’s aprakrita-lila, Srila Gurudev commented, “We give honour to everyone, we must give our full daṇḍavat to everyone, but after that we will go to our playground and with Kṛṣṇa play in śānta-rasa, dāsya-rasa, sakhya- rasa, vātsalya-rasa, and madhura-rasa; parenthood, and servitorhood, friendship, and even paramour love is possible with God. Who can believe it?”
Srila Gurudev himself embodied the aprakrita mood of sweetness, charm, and simplicity.

They are not conscious of their own exalted position. A king, when he is not very conscious of his power, thinks of himself as an ordinary person. It is something like that. Someone may be a great doctor but through affection he may do the work of a nurse for his patient. Out of his love and affection for the patient, he may come down to do such work, but still he is great. This is the beautiful nature of Vṛndāvan life. It is great without the attitude, the air of bigness. Although they are really great, they appear to be simple. Power dressed in affection and love, couched in humility—that is Vṛndāvan. And that is also Nabadwīp.
(Srila Sridhar Maharaj, The Golden Volcano of Divine Love)

As the perfect ambassador of that Goloka plane, Srila Gurudev revealed its sweetness and charming glory, and awakened some attraction within our densely covered hearts for Reality the Beautiful.
At present we cannot begin to properly conceive of what kind of “bright future” is awaiting us, but we are confident that if we can remain, or become, faithful followers of our Srila Gurudev, we must attain it.

We are so fortunate that we have one little thread or rope with His Divine Grace [Srila Sridhar Maharaj]. If we can hold on tightly to that we will have no problem with our spiritual life. That is our good fortune.

When the sincere seeker is trying to get initiation within the line of Guru Maharaj, at that time I am thinking that this boy or this girl does not know what they have got. But one day will come when they will feel this connection and they will understand what they have got. But it is necessary to follow some process, and that is:

tṛṇād api su-nīchena taror iva sahiṣṇunā
amāninā māna-dena kīrtanīyaḥ sadā hariḥ

Tṛṇād api su-nīchena taror iva sahiṣṇunā—humility is the best quality of Vaishnavism—tṛṇād api su-nīchena. And taror iva sahiṣṇunā—tolerance. Tolerance in this material world gives so much benefit. We will be tolerant remembering Sriman Mahaprabhu’s directives. And if we give honour to others then everyone will be my friend. No one will be my enemy. That is the best procedure.

Anyhow, we will at once be qualified if sincerity and chastity is with us, and love and affection will give us the super benefit of our spiritual life.
(Srila Gurudev speaking on Govardhan Puja in Soquel, California, USA, 10 November 2007)

All glories to our Srila Gurudev, Srila Bhakti Sundar Govinda Dev-Goswami Maharaj, and all glories to his faithful followers, whom we humbly aspire to serve.
A few photos from the pushpa samadhi inauguration, Sunday 12 August 2018:

Video of part of Sripad Madhusudan Maharaj’s talk, and the following ceremony, arati, and pushpanjali:
Featured image: Gauranga Prabhu of Sao Paulo, Brazil
Other photos and video: the devotees of Villa Govinda Ashram

The activating principle

Sincerely, earnestly, desperately, we offer ourselves at the feet of Śrī Guru-Vaiṣṇava, wholeheartedly considering it to be our greatest fortune to be utilised by them, for their divine purpose, in the least way.

“Religion is proper adjustment”—we have been told by our Param Gurudev, Om Viṣṇupad Śrīla Bhakti Rakṣak Śrīdhar Dev-Goswāmī Mahārāj, that this was a favourite expression of Śrīla Bhakti Siddhānta Saraswatī Ṭhākur in his final days. In Śrīmad Bhagavad-gītā Lord Kṛṣṇa describes this as the art of yoga: yogaḥ karmasu kauśalam (2.50); samatvaṁ yoga uchyate (2.48). The question arises, adjustment to what? What will be that central, fundamental, guiding principle to which moment by moment, day by day, all persons, places, and things will be adjusted and seen in relation to? For the Vaiṣṇavas, that can only be one thing: the sweet will of the Lord.
yato vā imāni bhūtāni jāyante,
yena jātāni jīvanti,
yat prayanty abhisaṁviśanti,
tad vijijñāsasva tad eva Brahma
Because He is that source from Whom everything has come, by Whom everything is maintained, and into Whom everything will again enter.
For those attracted to the sweetness of the Rūpānuga line, however, this is not enough. Rather, as told by Śrīla Jīva Goswāmī, bhajanīya guṇa-viśiṣṭa: simply by virtue of His infinitely charming qualities and nature, one is irresistibly bound in absolute, loving adherence to satisfying His least whim. Thus, “Whatever wave has come from that centre of absolute beauty, love, and charm, and in whatever outward manifestation or expression it has assumed and entered my limited sphere of experience—I will take it on my head with full faith and optimism”—such are the feelings of the true Vaiṣṇavas.
But again a question arises: how to ascertain that all-important will of the Lord?
The scripture of course, the Lord’s own word in recorded form, comes forward to help in a passive way. The scripture, the holy book, will give us understanding of sambandha-jñāna, what is what and who is who, understanding of how to approach the Lord along with understanding of what is pleasing and not pleasing to Him, and understanding of what we can hope to attain as a result.
As the scripture will also tell us, however, connection with the sādhu, the living scripture, is essential.
tad viddhi praṇipātena paripraśnena sevayā
upadekṣyanti te jñānaṁ jñāninas tattva-darśinaḥ
(Srimad Bhagavad-gita: 4.34)
If we want to receive a genuine connection with that knowledge which is supersubjective to ourselves, which embodies the Lord Himself, it must come in the proper channel, it must come from one of the Lord’s own.
In the words of our Śrīla Gurudev, Om Viṣṇupād Śrīla Bhakti Sundar Govinda Dev-Goswāmī Mahārāj,

“Only when we hear from the sādhu are we receiving something in the proper channel, receiving something descending down from Goloka Vṛndāvan through the hearts of our paramparā’s Gurus which is perfect and necessary for our spiritual life. Only when we hear in the proper channel from the sādhu is there a transmission of the power which reveals the essence of the scriptures’ words in our hearts.”

That essential ingredient, the activating principle of our spiritual life, is the good will of the Vaiṣṇava, the good will of Śrī Gurudev. The Vaiṣṇava thus assumes the position of that absolute, reliable centre around whom and for whom we will adjust and readjust ourselves in every time, place, and circumstance, large or small, significant or apparently insignificant:

“With humble and prayerful mind if we try to show our allegiance, to surrender to the smallest advices of the Guru-Vaiṣṇava, that is the door through which we can enter that world. Our submissive acceptance of the smallest meanings of the words coming from Guru-Vaiṣṇava—that is the door by which we can enter Vaikuṇṭha and Goloka.” (Śrīla Śrīdhar Mahārāj)

Thus Śrīman Mahāprabhu, citing Yudhiṣṭhir Mahārāj’s famous conclusion (mahājano yena gataḥ sa panthāḥ), chooses to overlook scriptural stereotype and instead follow the precedent set by Śrī Mādhavendra Purī,
dharma-sthāpana-hetu sādhura vyavahāra
(Cc 2.17.185)
“A devotee’s behaviour establishes the true purpose of religious principles.”
Sincerely, earnestly, desperately, we therefore offer ourselves at the feet of Śrī Guru-Vaiṣṇava, wholeheartedly considering it to be our greatest fortune to be utilised by them, for their divine purpose, in the least way.

“Cast yourself wholly at the feet of the Vaiṣṇava proper and try to be utilised by him. Be aloof to your own ego. Take it off and allow a Vaiṣṇava to work in the workshop of your heart, allow him to handle things there.” (Śrīla Śrīdhar Mahārāj)