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”

Regarding the succession of Sri Chaitanya Saraswat Math India

Following the unexpected departure of Srimad Bhakti Nirmal Acharya Maharaj on 10 May, our worldwide mission was thrown into sadness and separation. Additionally, there has been much confusion because, having left so suddenly, Srila Acharya Maharaj did not leave a formal will. Continue reading “Regarding the succession of Sri Chaitanya Saraswat Math India”

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
(2.38)

“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
(5.18)

“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.

Humbly,

—Vishakha dasi.

What is Bhakti Yoga?

A radio interview with Sripad Srutasrava Prabhu in Brazil, 2 August 2006.

Summary notes:

The practice of Bhakti Yoga is the progress from the beginning stages of devotion to the final stages of pure love of God. Most religious processes advise us that we should love God, which is certainly wonderful advice, but few religious processes tell us how to love God. We have lovers, we have children, we have parents, we have pets, we have friends, we have so many things with whom we exchange affection, so how do we exchange that same affection with God? Love of God is possible, and in what form it’s possible, and how that love will be exchanged, are all encompassed in the teachings of bhakti yoga.

So much more information exists about God and it’s necessary to disseminate that information for the happiness of the people. We’re familiar with the frightening aspects of the omnipotence and omniscience of God, but less with the infinite kindness, beauty, sweetness and beauty of God.

In the Eastern tradition one of God’s infinite names is Krishna. Krishna means all-attractive. Many things in this world attract us: beautiful sunsets and beautiful sunrises, beautiful scenery, beautiful objects, beautiful people. So if we accept the existence of God then he must be infinitely attractive: everything that is attractive must exist in him to an infinite degree.

The practice of Bhakti yoga is to open our heart. It is is the yoga of the heart, so the topmost requirement is to have a heart. It is not dependent on language, country, or culture. It’s for every living entity.

The advancement of bhakti yoga means advancement in the relationship with the supreme being, and someone who has a relationship with the supreme being must naturally become filled with all good qualities.

Suhrit is one Sanskrit word for friend. When someone’s heart is so filled with good feelings towards you that person is called suhrit. Krishna says, “Suhrdam-sarva-bhutanam: I have that feeling towards every living entity.” (Bhagavad-gita, 5.29) And somebody who is developed in the process of bhakti yoga naturally will share that feeling towards every living entity.

In modern society we’re bewildered by the media to believe that our quality of life will come from accumulation but the real quality of life comes from the heart.

The Bhagavat-purana says that the best process for all living entities is that process by which we can develop love for God. What makes that process extremely practical is that it is ahaituki. The meaning of ahaituki is that there is no material cause for this thing. And the other side of that is apratihata: nothing material can stop the progress of bhakti.

Many other processes require some physical, intellectual, or mental ability, but we can practise bhakti in any condition: when we’re up, when we’re down, when we’re rich, when we’re poor, when we’re sick, when we’re well, and that makes it universally applicable. We can practise at all times, in all places, under all circumstances.

Hearing and chanting are the most important practices of bhakti. If we lend a submissive ear to divine sound we will be purified. At the present time, with the use of devices such as cell phones, it is not so difficult to understand the power of sound. We see the power of mundane sound all around us. What about divine sound? Divine sound can transport us to the divine plane. The sweet name of Krishna has come into this world with its own desire to benefit us. 

God is not the cause of suffering or misery; he is akhila-rasamrta-murti, the fountainhead of all ecstasy and pleasure. Srnvantu visve amrtasya putrah: we are all children of the nectarean ocean and we are meant to dive deep into that ocean.

Without seeking something spiritual, life comes to zero. In every country there’s an expression, “You can’t take it with you when you go.” Is it possible to get something from life that we can take when we go?

As we develop in consciousness we’ll see the beauty in God, we’ll see that beauty reflected in other living entities, and we’ll realise that He is not for one type of people but he is for everyone.

Family life in Krishna consciousness

An enlightening interview with Gadadhar Pandit Prabhu, a faithful disciple of our Gurudev, Srila B.S. Govinda Deva-Gowami. Recorded as part of the introductory ‘Seeking the Essence’ video series.

 
For other videos in the series:
On YouTube:
https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCnd9xGTiRdlHFKrfQhv5h-A?view_as=subscriber
And FaceBook:
https://www.facebook.com/Seeking-the-Essence-102042594816951/

Unity in diversity

Śrīla B.S. Govinda Mahārāj speaks on the need for harmonious dealings between different groups and missions within Krishna consciousness.
Śrīla Jājāvar Mahārāj and Śrīla Guru Mahārāj had completely separate moods, but in one way they are the same. That is that both are practising Kṛṣṇa consciousness, both are good devotees of Kṛṣṇa, and both are very sincere. I am seeing this from the middle point, not as Guru Mahārāj’s disciple. As a disciple of Guru Mahārāj, I must see my Guru as supreme, but I am not telling this in that way. This is through realisation. Sometimes both would fight heavily—I do not want to tell about that type of fighting—but that reaction did not come to me, and this is what I want to establish in my friends’ heart.
Śrīla Guru Maharaj would debate with his godbrothers in a very high way. He would debate with Swami Maharaj in Kolkata, on some days up to two o’clock. And in Nabadwip, Jājāvar Mahārāj would come for discussion with Guru Mahārāj and stay for one month or two months in Chaitanya Sāraswat Maṭh, only for discussion in the matter of Kṛṣṇa consciousness. Śrīla Guru Mahārāj is an ocean of transcendental knowledge and Guru Mahārāj’s godbrothers knew that if they came to Guru Mahārāj, they would be satisfied. Until they reached satisfaction, they would debate with Guru Mahārāj, and heavily debate. The effect of that could come to us in a negative way, but it did not; that effect always came to us in a positive way. It is the mercy of Jājāvar Mahārāj and the mercy of Guru Mahārāj. You see my application of their names: first I gave the name of Jājāvar Mahārāj, and then I gave the name of Guru Mahārāj. Do you understand? This is the proper application.
Why has this mood come to us? It has come to us by the mercy of Śrīla Guru Mahārāj. I am always giving my obeisance to Jājāvar Mahārāj, and always giving my obeisance to Śrīla Guru Mahārāj. They are showing different moods, but from those different moods, we are not getting any negative feeling. How shall I give this mood to my friends and brothers? I am always thinking about that. This is the only thing that can save us. Otherwise nothing can save us. I heard many things from Jājāvar Mahārāj, and I heard many things from Guru Mahārāj also. When they would debate they were fighting, but we did not lose our śraddhā, our faith, to Guru and Vaiṣṇava. We did not think that Jājāvar Mahārāj is bad and Guru Mahārāj is good. We would never think that, although they would take completely different lines. Sometimes one would take what could be considered a nastik, atheistic, line, and another would take a theistic line.
The godbrothers of Guru Mahārāj were all great paṇḍits and highly qualified, and they all came often to see Guru Mahārāj. We can name that Vaikhānas Mahārāj: he was a great paṇḍit and highly qualified. When they came, they would debate with Guru Mahārāj, and questions and answers were always going on, sometimes for the whole day. They would eat, rest, and then again go to Guru Mahārāj for questions and answers. Their discussion would go on in a challenging way, not an asking way: they wanted to know from Guru Maharaj. Some of them were senior to Guru Maharaj, but they would ask Guru Mahārāj. They needed some conclusion of the fact. They would debate scriptural matters and many things with Guru Mahārāj. But I did not lose faith with them: I have full regard for Goswāmī Mahārāj, full regard for Mādhav Mahārāj, and full regard for Vaikhānas Mahārāj. There were many qualified Mahārājs there, and they all looked at me as their boy. They were not thinking, “He is a disciple of Śrīdhar Mahārāj, he is a disciple of another.” When they came, they also brought some disciples with them. Somebody brought two disciples, somebody brought four disciples; but we did not feel at that time that, “I am one group, he is another group.” When Jājāvar Mahārāj’s disciples came we behaved with each other like twin brothers. We had very nice feelings between us. When any godbrother died, Guru Mahārāj was crying, and not only outwardly crying, but heavily crying. He would become sick. Guru Mahārāj had that type of affection for his godbrothers. When we heard that Jājāvar Maharaj’s disciple Bhaṭṭa Kṛṣṇa died, Goswāmī Mahārāj’s disciple died, and the disciples of other Mahārājs, then we would also cry for them.
Why can we not establish this type of relationship now? I do not understand. Actually, I know where there is a gap, but I cannot fill up that gap. I am trying to fill that gap. I went to the West, and I told this conception in another way. This morning someone said that I did not come with party feelings; I came to the West to establish our Gurus’ conception, and that is the supreme conception. I did not come for taking sides. I am not a campaign-man, and we have that feeling from our birth.
When I joined, the next day Kṛṣṇadās Bābājī came to see Guru Mahārāj, and Guru Mahārāj asked Kṛṣṇadās Bābājī, “See this boy. This boy told this, this, this, this, this, and you know about that. You examine this boy.” What good feelings! Kṛṣṇadās Bābājī examined me in many ways in song. At that time I had told that I know Vaiṣṇava songs, and Kṛṣṇadās Bābājī knew many songs, more than Guru Mahārāj.
He examined me in many ways, and he told, “Yes Mahārāj, he knows something.” They were happily talking.
When Guru Mahārāj heavily told something to Kṛṣṇadās Bābājī Mahārāj I was very sad, and I gave objection to Guru Mahārāj: “Why did you tell this?” I had a very close relationship with Guru Mahārāj and I could say anything to Guru Mahārāj. That was our relationship. I asked, “Why did you tell this to Bābājī Mahārāj? He is always helpful for our Mission, always affectionate with you, is keeping high regard in his heart for you, but you behaved like an ordinary man, and it is giving me pain.”
That was when Guru Mahārāj sent him out from the Maṭh; and Guru Mahārāj’s answer was very high thinking. Guru Mahārāj said, “I cannot make offence to my Guru. Prabhupād Sāraswatī Ṭhākur did not want that any of his disciples will go to hear sahajiyā kīrtan, and he is going to do that. He may be my best friend, but not more than Prabhupād.” This was Guru Mahārāj’s answer. “Prabhupād Saraswatī Ṭhākur did not like it, and he is my best friend. Why is he doing it? I told him many times, but he is not listening. Then, it is very difficult, very difficult to tell him, but I must tell, otherwise I will make offence to my Guru.” Guru Mahārāj was also crying, his heart was crying, but he could not ignore his Guru. We have got that type of feeling for Vaiṣṇavas, for Gurus, for godbrothers.
I received a letter this morning from a disciple of Śrīla Swāmī Mahārāj, and he stated many times in the letter, “Your Guru Mahārāj and my Guru Mahārāj, your Guru Mahārāj and my Guru Mahārāj, your Guru Mahārāj and my Guru Mahārāj”. We are not habituated with this conception, and we are not speaking in that way. This is making differentiation, “Your Guru Mahārāj and my Guru Mahārāj.” This is not a good conception, but they are habituated with that conception, and that is the difficulty. It is necessary to remove this conception. We are all in one family. That conception should come first.
My father, my uncle, my grandfather, my uncle’s son, and my nephew—we are all in one family. Why will we quarrel? This is the first thing. The second thing is that if anybody is going a different way, we will try to keep them in our sampradāya with a harmonising mood. That will be good for our society. We are very few in this world: there are three hundred crores of people [one crore is ten million], but how many are we in Kṛṣṇa consciousness? Very few. There is no percentage, maybe zero point zero, zero, five (0.005%),  and if we quarrel, then how can we try to spread Kṛṣṇa consciousness?
Some persons took initiation from me in Guadalajara, and the Iskcon guru came immediately and talked with me and was happy with me. He said to me, “Mahārāj, those persons took initiation from you, but they are serving in our Iskcon Mandir. Now they are your disciples. Then what is your desire? They will serve Iskcon or not?” He directly asked me.
And I told him, “Why will they not serve Iskcon?  I cannot understand. They are doing service in Iskcon and I think it is very good. They can serve. But you also must be sober with them, and don’t abuse Guru–Vaiṣṇava in any way to them, and they will happily serve you.” This is the real conception.
Many of the sannyāsīs came to see Guru Mahārāj, and with those sannyāsīs many of the devotees also came, but we never abused their gurus and we never thought that they were outside of our society. We are thinking we are in one family: he is my uncle’s son, he is my brother, he is my cousin. Our friends are going in this mood, and sometimes the disciples of other Mahārājs are coming to our Maṭh to see me. Parvat Mahārāj, Goswāmī Mahārāj, Mādhav Mahārāj, Jājāvar Mahārāj: their disciples are coming to see me sometimes, and if you see our mood, you will be surprised. You cannot understand that he is not a disciple of Guru Mahārāj, and that I am not a disciple of his Guru. Our relationship is going in this way, and with this feeling, we are happy with our family.
I am always thinking, thinking, thinking of this, and every day this is my headache. Many letters come from the West, and all the letters are not very sweet. Some letters are a little bitter, some letters are a little sour. Many things are in those letters. The man who wrote this morning was inspired when I went to America. He was alone. Now he wants to come in our society and see my preaching mood. But his mood is always, “My Guru, your Guru, my Guru, your Guru.” It is first necessary to remove this. Guru is one. Our feelings will come that way and it is not necessary to take the name of his Guru, and it is not necessary to take the name of my Guru. We are all brothers.
The ‘Sonhood of Godhead’ is living in the middle. That is Mahāprabhu’s conception, the ‘Sonhood of Godhead’.  ‘Sonhood’ means that he has a father and a mother; he has uncles, sisters, nephews; he has friends, he has servants; he has many things. He is living in the centre and the family is around. That is the Sonhood of Godhead, and we are the servants of the servants of Godhead. That is Kṛṣṇa, Nanda-gopa-kumārāya: He is the son of Nanda Mahārāj, and we are worshipping Him. Then, it will be a very happy thing if we can make our relation with everyone harmonious and good.
This article has been prepared from an informal discourse given by Srila B.S. Govinda Maharaj in Kolkata, India, December 1992. The original recording is available here: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=we67kgX_5k4&t=556s
And a raw transcript as well as audio file is available here:
http://jayasri.org/kolkata-dec-1992/

Sri Vaishnava Toshani: Srila Guru Maharaj's Centenary Edition

Sri Vaishnava Toshani: Srila Guru Maharaj’s Centenary Edition, Jan–Feb 1995, Vol 4 #1 is presented here.
pdf file
Contents
Brahma Gayatri—The Ultimate Presentation
by His Divine Grace Bhakti Rakshak Sridhar Dev-Goswami Maharaj
The Perfect Guru
by His Divine Grace Bhakti Sundar Govinda Dev-Goswami Maharaj
A Glimpse Of Nectar
by Sripad B.A. Sagar Maharaj
How Could We Live Without Him?
by Sripad B.P. Janardan Maharaj
The Representative Of Sri Shukadev
by Sripad B.K. Giri Maharaj
A Glimpse Into His Divine Personality
by Sripad Yudhamanyu Das Seva Vikram
Relief In The Time Of Our Greatest Need
by Srimati Jivana Devi Dasi
Experiencing Unforgettable Mercy
by Srimati Kum Kum Devi Dasi
I Cannot Give A Certificate
by Sripad Srutrasrava Prabhu
Previous editions uploaded:
Jan–Feb 1992 Vol 1 No 1
March–April 1992 Vol 1 No 2
May–June 1992 Vol 1 No 3
Nov–Dec 1992, Vol 1 #6
May–June 1993, Vol 2 #2
Sept–Oct 1993, Vol 2 #3

A Festival of Separation

“Viraha Mahotsav: A festival of separation”. Discussion last night in Sao Paulo on the divine disappearance day of our Gurudev Om Vishnupad Srila Bhakti Sundar Govinda Dev-Goswami Maharaj. English class by Vishakha Devi Dasi with translation into Portuguese by Rasikananda Prabhu.
1 hour and 20 min+ mp3 audio file