Thursday, August 20, 2009

Celebrating Unity and Diversity in Gaudiya Vaishnavism

These are my thoughts on my Birthday

I started my first world preaching tour in November of 2008 in Alachua Florida. It has been a great tour. I have been to Florida, Texas, California, Hong Kong, Malaysia for Srila Narayan Maharaja’s Vyasa Puja, India for Gour Purnima, Bangalore, Vrndavana, Italy, England, France, Italy again for Srila Narayan Maharaja’s European festival, and back to Hong Kong and I am now in Mumbai. Some of the highlights for me on this tour are that I have been able to participate in festivals, kirtans, and classes, with various different Gaudiya Vaishnava associations including ISKCON.

In Malaysia the devotees from Srila Narayan Maharajas sangha in Johur Baru made a Sobha Yatra festival where they carried their deities of Lord Jagannatha, Lord Baladeva and Lady Subhadra on one cart. They invited the ISKCON center to come with their full size Srila Prabhupada Murti for the other cart with a picture of Srila Narayan Maharaja. We went all around the neighborhood with the carts and a Chinese Dragon team because it was close to or on the day of the Chinese New year. It was so colorful and exciting and the people from all cultures in Malaysia came out on to the streets and greeted us, gave gifts, performed aratik, and in general had a wonderful time in spite of the rain. Both parties were completely happy and we celebrated our unity and diversity as two branches of the same Gaudiya Vaishnava family.

In Mayapura I got the opportunity to glorify my dear God Brother Srila Gour Govinda Maharaja on His Disappearance day in the Gour Govinda Ashram that is in Sridham Mayapura. I sang Guru puja and talked for over and hour on the pastimes and glories of the Great Saint that I was so fortunately allowed to live with in an intimate way for over 3 years in India.

In Vrndavana I sang the morning Guru Puja for Srila Prabhupada and gave a Bhagavad Gita Class that night. I honored my Srila Prabhupada alone in His temple Guru Puja and glorified the purports of His Bhagavad Gita As It Is that evening in the class.

In London at the Bhaktivedanta Manor my old friend Ananta Shakti Prabhu arranged a plate of Mahaprasad from the noon aratik I attended and I caught up with old friends like Krpa Moya Prabhu whom I shared lunch with, Tattvavit Prabhu and others. In Soho Street I had a nice Lunch at the Govinda’s Restaurant and went upstairs where they asked me to lead the singing for the noon aratik. I led a good old fashioned Hare Krishna Kirtan changing the tune only twice in half an hour. All were happy especially me.

In Rome I stayed at Srila Bhakti Vaibhava Puri Maharajas Temple with his disciples. Srila Prabhupada told myself and Srila Gaura Govinda Maharaja in 1977 to preach together with His Godbrother Srila Puri Maharaja and we did. I went to Berhampur and did programs with him and he came to Bhubaneshwara and did programs with us. He was a great friend of Srila Prabhupada’s and I was honored to stay in his temple with his disciples. I was asked to lead the morning mangal aratik and the Gurupuja and give class. This temple sang different songs then we sing in Srila Narayana Mahrajas sanga or that are sung in ISKCON for Mangal Aratik. I sang their songs and they allowed me to glorify Srila Narayana Maharaja there during the Guru Puja which was performed in front of Srila Prabhupada’s Murti and Srila Bhakti Vaibhava Puri Maharaja’s picture both on their own vyasasanas. They added a picture of Srila Narayana Maharaja and so after I sang Sri Guru Carana Padma I sang the pranam mantras and glories of Srila Prabhupada, Srila Bhakti Vai Bhava Puri Maharaja, and Srila Narayana Maharaja as well.

In Hong Kong one independently wealthy lady sponsored a Rathayatra parade and festival in a theater on Rathayatra day. She invited the Ritviks, ISKCON and Srila Narayan Maharaja’s Sanga. Narasimha Maharaja from ISKCON led the kirtana for part of the procession and then I led the kirtana after that at the request of Chandra Shekara Prabhu the GBC for ISKOCN in Hong Kong. At the Theater Narasimha Maharaja and me shared lunch prepared by one of Srila Narayan Maharaja’s disciples and caught up on old times from London and Calcutta. During the program the ISKCON and Ritvik devotees spoke and then the GBC for ISKCON, Chandra Shekar Prabhu, spoke beautifully about the pastimes of Sri Caitanya Mahaprabhu and the inner meanings of the Rathayatra pastimes in very clear and simple to digest way for the entire audience. Nanda Prabhu who is the local Temple president here for Srila Narayan Maharja’s sanga spoke in Chinese at the end and then gave the microphone to me. I spoke about how Srila Prabhupada was responsible for spreading the glories of Rathayatra all over the world and I spoke of the glories of Sriman Jayananda Prabhu who assisted Srila Prabhupada in this pastime. Then I was asked to lead the concluding Kiratan which everyone joined in together.

Presently in Mumbai I am staying at the ISKCON JUHU Temple by the grace of my old God Brother Bhima Prabhu who is the zonal secretary. This place is especially dear to me because I had most of my association with Srila Prabhupada here in this temple as it was being developed. I have been giving classes leading kirtans and having a wonderful time. The devotees here all have a very enthusiastic service attitude which is both refreshing and enlivening.

Whichever temple I go to I try to honor the particular way in which the founder acharya of that branch of our Gaudiya Vaishnava sampradaya has established the worship. I do not try to impose anything from another branch of the Sampradaya because each branch has their own flavor and so I honor that flavor and savor the rasa or taste that it provides me. After all Variety is the spice of life. To me this is the beauty of our Sampradaya it has so many variations on a theme and we can celebrate the unity of our Gaudiya Vaishnava Family while honoring the diversity which it manifests. We can read in the Caitanya Caritamrta how the devotees from Bengal were different from the devotees in Orissa and both were glorified and glorious!

When I was at Srila Bhakti vai Bhava Puri Maharajas Temple I was asked by his disciples what they should do now after the departure of their Guru Maharaja. I advised them to take shelter of and siksha from the Sannyasis that their Guru Maharaja had appointed to be his successors. I said you can take siksha from any sadhu but you should continue in the mood of your Guru Maharaja and take shelter of the successors he specifically appointed. A devotee from an ISKCON Temple asked about a situation where there were many devotees in the Temple who could not decided who to take initiation from. He asked me about whether they should look outside ISKCON to take initiation. I told him that there were many qualified persons in ISKCON who can give Hari Nam and Diksha. I named a few and told them to take diksha and siksha from them and that they could also take siksha from any other sadhu they were attracted to. Siksha is just as powerful as diksha and can be very valuable for the advancement of our spiritual life. Srila Bhakti Vinode Thakura took diksha from Bipin Bihari Goswami but He accepted siksha from Jagannatha Das Babaji who he revered equally to his diksha guru.

I believe that Srila Narayan Maharaja, Srila Prabhupada, Srila Saraswati Thakura, Srila Bhaktivinode Thakura, and Srila Narottama Das Thakura all share this sentiment celebrating the unity and diversity of Gaudiya Vaishnavism. Unfortunately not all of their followers do and as a result there is some unnecessary friction when there need be none at all. This is not the first time that there has been so many groups of Gaudiya Vaishnavas separated from each other over misunderstandings and a failure to celebrate their unity in their diversity. During the time of Srila Narottam Das Thakura there were several branches arguing over what was the real siddhanta and legacy of Sri Caitanya Mahaprabhu. Some were rejecting Lord Nityananda but accepting Lord Caitanya. Others were saying that Narahari was part of the Pancha Tattva not Srivas Thakura. Other misconceptions about siddhanta were also manifesting. The result was disputes, disagreements, and disunity. Srila Narottam Das Thakura wanted to resolve this and unify the Gaudiya Vaishnavas so that Lord Caitanya Mahaprabhu’s mission could be spread unrestrictedly and unlimitedly. He called for a meeting of all the Vaishnavas in Kheturi to discuss everything and do kirtan together. At the commencement of the festival Srila Narottam Das Thakura led a beautiful Hari Nama Sankirtana which was performed in great ecstasy by him and all of the devotees. When he did this Hari Nama Sankirtana although the members of the Pancha Tattava had already departed this world they began to manifest themselves in front of all the Vaishnavas by dancing and chanting in ecstasy. You can imagine what Jhanavi Mata and Birbhadra, the wife and son of Lord Nityananda felt like when they saw him. When Acyutananda saw his father Advaita Acarya and others saw their siksha and diksha Gurus in the different members of the Pancha Tattva. The festival was a complete success as it united all of the Gaudiya Vaishnavas in purpose and siddhanta and established the Caitanya Caritamrta and its siddhanta as the most authorized biography of Sri Caitanya Mahaprabhu. Unfortunately things gradually dissolved and it fell upon the shoulders of Srila Bhaktivinode Thakura to both resurrect and again establish the unified siddhanta of the Gaudiya Vaishnavas.

Srila Bhaktivinoda Thakura had firm faith that the prediction of Lord Sri Caitanya Mahaprabhu would come to fruition.

Prithvi-parjanta jata ache desa-grama
sarvatra sancara hoibek mora nama.

“My name will be preached in all the countries
and towns that exist throughout the world”

To accomplish this Srila Bhaktivinoda Thakura engaged himself tirelessly praying, writing, preaching, and organizing Hari Nam Sankirtan and other preaching activities.

One of his most important efforts in this regard was finding the original holy birthplace of Sri Caitanya Mahaprabhu. Srila Bhaktivinoda Thakura would make this a rallying point for both the various Gaudiya Vaishnava’s of his day and for the future Sankirtan missions from all over the world. Srila Bhaktivinoda Thakura remembered that Narottam Das Thakura had organized the Kheturi festival 450 years ago to unify all the followers of Sri Caitanya Mahaprabhu. With this idea in mind Srila Bhaktivinoda Thakura brought together all the followers of Lord Sri Caitanya Mahaprabhu at the Lords birthplace on Gaura Purnima March 21, 1895. On that day He installed the deities of Lord Sri Caitanya and his consort Srimati Vishnupriya with a ceremony and sankirtan festival at the site of the newly constructed temple. There were thousands of devotees of Lord Caitanya at this festival from all the various Gaudiya Vaisnava groups and many of the devotees remarked that such a gathering had not taken place in 450 years since Srila Narottam Das Thakur’s famous Kheturi festival. Srila Bhaktivinoda Thakura had now brought them all together to remind them that their real purpose was to co-operatively preach the mission of Sri Caitanya Mahaprabhu and spread the Hari Nam Sankirtan movement of the Lord all over the world.

The next year 1896 Srila Bhaktivinoda Thakura would begin planting the seeds of preaching in the western world by responding to the entreaties of the famous poet Ralph Waldo Emerson who had opined that he could not read the Thakur’s Sri Krishna Samhita in Sanskrit. Srila Bhaktivinoda Thakura would send the newly completed Sri Gauranga-lila-smarana-stotram. This book contained 104 Sanskrit verses but was prefaced by an introduction written in the English language called Sri Caitanya Mahaprabhu: His Life and Precepts. This introduction was a summary of the Sanskrit verses explaining in concise and nectarine terms the life and teachings of Sri Caitanya Mahaprabhu as found in the Sri Caitanya-Bhagavata and Sri Caitanya Caritamrta. It was sent to Universities and intellectuals in different parts of the world with the conviction that this English introduction was something that Westerners could read and benefit from. One of the institutions that received the book was McGill University in Montreal, Canada.

Having now begun the preaching of Sri Caitanya Mahaprabhu’s mission in the western world Srila Bhaktivinoda Thakura continued praying for the day when this preaching would make such an impact that it would develop into a world wide movement that would eventually embrace and liberate everyone in the world. These prayers of Srila Bhaktivinoda Thakura were actually predictions of his in which he had boldly unfolded the following vision of the future in an article published in Sajjana-Tosani more than ten years earlier in 1885. It appears as follows:

“Lord Caitanya did not advent Himself to liberate only a few men of India. Rather, His main objective was to emancipate all living entities of all countries throughout the entire universe and preach the Eternal Religion. Lord Caitanya says in the Caitanya-Bhagavata: “In every town, country, and village, My name will be sung”. There is no doubt that this unquestionable order will come to pass… Very soon the unparalleled path of Harinama-sankirtan will be propagated all over the world. Already we are seeing the symptoms…(Srila Bhaktivinoda Thakura goes on to talk about the Salvation Army band marching through the streets of the western world as the first strains of sankirtan in the west) the article continues: Oh for that day when the fortunate English, French, Russian, German, and American people will take up banners, mrdangas, and kartalas and raise kirtana through their streets and towns. When will that day come? Oh for the day when the fair skinned men from their side will raise up the chanting of ‘jaya sacinandana, jaya sacinandana, kijaya’ and join with the Bengali devotees. When will that day be?”

Srila Bhaktivinode Thakura continued with his prediction “On such a day they will say, “Our dear Brothers, we have taken shelter of the ocean of Lord Caitanya’s Love; kindly embrace us”. Some will say that this has already happened but if you read the rest of the prediction you will see that it may have happened on the surface but it has not taken place deep within our hearts and souls. Srila Bhaktivinoda Thakura continues “that day will witness the holy transcendental ecstasy of the Vaisnava dharma to be the only dharma, and all sects and religions will flow like rivers into the ocean of Vaisnava dharma. Oh when will that day come?” In another place he repeats the same prediction a little differently: “Oh when will that day come, when pure and transcendental Vaisnava prema will be the only religion of all souls and all tiny sectarian religions will meet in the unlimited and universal religion of Vaishnavism as rivers merge into the great ocean? O when will that day come?

Another prediction by Srila Bhaktivinode Thakura on the future unity of all of the world’s religions is given in Sri Caitanya Mahaprabhu: His Life and Precepts, pages 68-69 as follows:
“The dharma preached by Caitanya Mahaprabhu is universal and not exclusive … The principle of kirtan as the future church of the world invites all classes of men, without distinction of caste or clan, to the highest cultivation of the spirit. This church, it appears, will spread worldwide and replace all sectarian churches, which exclude outsiders from the precincts of the mosque, church, or temple.”
Srila Bhaktisiddhanta Saraswati Thakura once wrote the following statement in an article titled “THAKURA BHAKTIVINODA” which announces with absolute conviction the unquestioned manifestation of the final prophesy just mentioned, while admonishing those who would not participate in it’s fulfillment.

“Thakura Bhaktivinoda has predicted the consummation of religious unity of the world by the appearance of the only universal church which bears the eternal designation of the Brahma Sampradaya. He has given mankind the blessed assurance that all Theistic churches will shortly merge in the one eternal spiritual community by the grace of the Supreme Lord Shree Krishna Chaitanya. The spiritual community is not circumscribed by the conditions of time and space, race and nationality. Mankind had been looking forward to this far-off Divine Event through the Long Ages. Thakura Bhaktivinoda has made the conception available in its practicable spiritual form to the open minded empiricist who is prepared to undergo the process of enlightenment. The key stone of the Arch has been laid which will afford the needed shelter to all awakened animation under its ample encircling arms. Those who would thoughtlessly allow their hollow pride of race, pseudo-knowledge or pseudo-virtue to stand in the way of this long hoped for consummation, would have to thank only themselves for not being incorporated in the spiritual society of all pure souls.”

On the last day of His manifest pastimes on this planet Srila Bhaktisiddhanta Saraswati Thakura said many things. The following statement was one of them:

“The stream which flows from Srila Bhaktivinoda Thakura will never be dammed up. Remember this and vow to double your efforts to fulfill Srila Bhaktivinoda Thakur's desires.”

When my Srila Prabhupada was asked about Srila Bhaktivinoda Thakura’s statement that “He had not finished His work” Srila Prabhupada replied: “Then let us finish it, He is Vaishnava, He is all powerful, He could have done, but He left it for us to finish, so we should finish it.”

Unfortunately there are many devotees from the different sangas who do not share this vision of unity and diversity. They insist that their particular Guru or institution is the only authorized avenue for spiritual advancement. Due to their hollow pride of race, pseudo-knowledge or pseudo-virtue and insecurities and weaknesses in their own practice of Bhakti they can only feel good about themselves when they criticize others as being less fortunate because they do not have the association of their particular Gurudeva or Institution.

This attitude does not finish the work of Srila Bhaktivinode Thakura it obstructs it. We the disciples of Srila A.C. Bhaktivedanta Swami Prabhupada have a responsibility to fulfill the order of our spiritual master and finish the work that Srila Bhaktivinode Thakura started. To bring about the fulfillment of the prophecy that all the Gaudiya Vaishnavas will embrace in Vaishnava Prema creating a Vaishnava Dharma that is so attractive it will cause all of the other religions of the world to flow into it like the rivers into the ocean. Our failure to do so will place us in the category of those who would thoughtlessly let heir hollow pride get in the way of the consummation of the society for all pure souls and hence we will forfeit having any place in it.

Some may say that we need another Srila Narottam Das Thakura or Srila Bhaktivinode Thakura to make this manifest. However I feel that we already have the order from Srila Prabhupada if we work together to fulfill the order it will happen. We the disciples of Srila Prabhupada have been empowered by HIM to make this manifest by HIS order. Just like everything else that Srila Prabhupada accomplished He did so by empowering his disciples. Srila Prabhupada Himself was empowered to fulfill the order of his Guru Maharaja long after His Guru Maharaja departed form this manifest plane. Now it is up to us to build a consensus amongst all of the Gaudiya Vaishnavas to fulfill this prophesy. And what will happen if we do not do it?

Once my Srila Prabhupada wrote a letter saying that “Lord Caitanya Mahaprabhu predicted that in every town and village my name will be heard” “Now” my Srila Prabhupada said: “I have started this world wide mission and some of you are helping me so you will also get some credit”, “however even if all of you were to leave me tomorrow still it would happen only some one else would get the credit.” “God said it would happen therefore it must happen.”

So how much more definitely are the predictions of the pure devotee of the Lord fulfilled by the Lord? Based on Tattva Siddhanta I believe with absolute certainty that Srila Bhaktivinoda’s predictions must be fulfilled. However who will get the credit? Srila Prabhupada has made all of the arrangements. He has placed His disciples everywhere. They are serving in or connected to just about every Gaudiya Sanga. Srila Prabhupada’s books are influencing everyone. The present Acharya’s of two different Gaudiya Matha’s started with and still study Srila Prabhupada’s books on a regular basis. Acharya’s and vaishnavas in all of the other Gaudiya Matha’s read Srila Prabhupada’s books. He has given us the order and he has made all of the arrangements. He has spread his influence everywhere and we need only take up the order with the same conviction and determination and patience and humility and love that He himself displayed as he fulfilled the order of His Guru Maharaja.

Can we become humble enough to celebrate the unity and diversity of Gaudiya Vaishnavism and see all the sangas as different limbs of Lord Caitanya’s body and embrace each other in Vaishnava Prema and by doing so create the Vaishnava dharma that will be so attractive to the whole world that all will enter into it? Will we go down in history as the generation that passed up the greatest golden opportunity to fulfill this order of Srila Prabhupada, to fulfill these prophesies of Srila Bhaktivinode Thakura? Or will future generations mark this point in time as the beginning of a new era in Gaudiya Vaishnava history which was inspired by the tireless, humble, patient, loving, efforts of the disciples of Srila A.C. Bhaktivedanta Swami Prabhupada to fulfill His order and these prophesies of Srila Bhaktivinode Thakura? Will the future generations remember us as the ones who failed to fulfill the order of Srila Prabhupada and kept everyone apart or the ones who built the consensus that brought everyone together to fulfill the prophecy of Srila Bhaktivinode Thakura?

I ask all of you who are Srila Prabhupada’s disciples and followers, how do YOU want to be remembered in the annals of Gaudiya Vaishnava History? This prophecy will be fulfilled! Will we, as Srila Prabhupada’s disciples let this opportunity pass to another generation to fulfill? Or will we follow in the footsteps of our Guru Maharaja and fulfill the order?

HISTORY IS CALLING! ARE WE LISTENING?

Saturday, May 23, 2009

The Festival in Wales

I am behind in my writing of the blogs and news events. But traveling and the demands of a two day seminar in front of some very important people in Gloucester has consumed me. I always focus on the task at hand I am terrible at multitasking. So it is a bit late but here is the sequel to the Miracle Hari Nama Sankirtana which is the program that followed in the hall in Aberystwyth Wales. I will do the blog on the 2 day seminar in a couple of days after I do the story about our program at the college in Wales. Pictures as always are on the Face Book Page.

After an ecstatic Hari Nama by the Grace of Srila Prabhupada and Srila Gaura Govinda Maharaja we had a fabulous Program in a Hall in Aberystwyth Wales by the Grace of Srila Bhaktivedanta Narayan Maharaja and the dedicated service and devotion of His disciples. The two young teenage girls from the Hari Nama Sankirtana, Sophie and her friend, came to join us at the program. Sophie was genuinely interested and her friend was along for the ride. Mostly there was initiated devotees there at the hall about 20 or so and then there was Sophie and about 5 other guests. Joe and a friend, one married couple, and a young Indian gentleman. We chanted the invocation prayers and then the Maha Mantra. I tell everyone what the Chanting is about. What the meaning of the mantra is and why it is so auspicious to chant it. Then I engage everyone in a chanting session in which we give everyone a turn at leading the Kirtan. All of the devotees enthusiastically lead as their turn comes. The guests do their best but they are all loving it. When it is Sophies turn she is reluctant to start. Karuna Didi goes over and turns on her motherly charm and chants along with the young lady giving her support. Sophie comes through and sings the mantra sweetly with a smile on her face. Her friend is giggling too hard to do it on her own so she chants it with Sophie. Joe does and admirable turn and his friend does as well. The Indian gentleman also chants with confidence. As each guest completes their turn at chanting the lead the devotees clap and cheer with enthusiasm the result is smiles and happiness all around. There is a group of three older devotee men in the back, Daruka, Radha Raman and the 3rd guy I cannot remember his name. They all joke about a bit and each in his turn takes the lead in the chanting. They are all having fun and everyone is having a lot fun watching them and hearing them. At the end of the Kirtan there is applause, cheers and laughter. I delightfully tell everyone that they are significantly happier now then they were before the Kirtan. Everyone agrees including the guests. We were all having fun and that what it is all about. After all Srila Prabhupada said Chant Hare Krsna and be Happy. And so we were. I talk a little about how we are not these bodies and that we are eternal spiritual beings. How in the spiritual world we will always be happily singing and dancing like this. Everyone receives the information joyfully. Now it is time for a really big Kirtan. I get everybody up we move back the chairs and we sing and dance in a circle. Then run back and forth and then jump up and down with abandon. All the while chanting and roaring the holy name. Joy and bliss abound, the room is electric with excitement. Sophie gets right into it. She is daning in the circle running back and forth and even jumping up and down. To think that just a couple of hours ago she was just another teenager on the streets of a town in Wales and now by the mercy of Guru and Gouranga she was drowning in the ocean of Sri Caitanya Mahaprabhu's Sankirtana movement. There is no end to the mercy of the Lord. After quite some time I end the kirtan everyone applauds and shouts loudly Jai Hari Bol. I loudly recite the Jaya dhvani Prayers it is pure bliss. I am praying that it can be like this everyday.

Then their was prasad Sophie and her friend take the prasad with them and take another book and promise to share the chanting with family and friends. They walk out the door with smiles on their faces and it is clear from the look in their eyes that Sophie has had a life changing experience. I make sure that she gives her email address to Lalit Didi who has arranged the program with her sister Malini and their friend Jagat Mohini. They have done a smashing good job I cannot offer them enough praise for their excellent service. They are dedicated disciples of their Guru Maharaja Srila Bhakti Vedanta Narayana Goswami Maharaja and their love and dedication to his mission of spreading the holy name around to every town and village and to distribute his books is clearly a priority in their lives no matter what else they have to do for the maintenance of their families. The prasadam feast is an excellent pot luck arrangement with all the ladies chipping in some wonderful preparations. The feast is thoroughly enjoyed by all especially the guests. Everyone takes seconds. Joe admits that if he could eat this good vegetarian food everyday he could give up eating meat very easily.

It is the standard formula for transcendental magic Chanting, Dancing, and Feasting. It is given to us by Lord Sri Caitanya Mahaprabhu 5oo hundred years ago and brought to the western world by Srila A.C.Bhaktivedanta Swami Prabhupada. It is being propagated allover the world by his diksha and siksha disciples foremost of which is Srila Bhaktivedanta Narayan Goswami Maharaja. This time tested method is a proven formula for success in spiritual life. The program here today is just one more proof of its effectiveness. All Glories to this transcendental formula for the benefit of all animated entities in the universe. Srila Prabhupada Ki Jaya! Srila Gurudeva Ki Jaya! Sri Caitanya Mahaprabhu Ki Jaya! Gaura Premanandi Hari Hari Bol!!!!!!!!!!

Monday, May 18, 2009

The HARI NAMA SANKIRTAN MIRACLE!!!

In my last blog I wrote the following:
“Tonight we have a public program which we wanted to precede with a Hari Nam Sankirtan. The weather is especially inclement, Cold, rainy, and windy. However I keep hoping against hope as the sun occasionally peers through the clouds and gives some indication that it might be sunny enough after all to go on Hari Nam. It is all in the hands of Mahaprabhu and Sri Guru. They will decide. They can make the rain stop or start at will. So we will see if it becomes favorable for Hari Nama.”

When I suggested to the devotees that Guru can arrange everything they asked “Can Guru change the Weather?” “Sure” I said, and I told the following stories:

This pastime of Srila Prabhupada is related by Guru Das in his book about Srila Prabhupada “By His Example” on page 249 in the section titled Krishna’s Mercy. I am reproducing it exactly as it appears in the book.

“Late at night, when everyone else was asleep, was a nice time to be with Prabhupada. He was usually in a very mellow mood, so if I wanted to have his precious darshan I would sometimes stand outside his door and make slight noises so he would come out to see what the noise was and invite me in. We were staying in the new quarters in Mayapur, in the first of the four, large residence buildings. The sky was overcast; I was yearning for Prabhupada’s association, so I went near his rooms and made walking and chanting sounds. No servants were around, so Prabhupada came out himself saying, “Who is that?” He saw me chanting, smiled, and came all the way out of his quarters.

Srila Prabhupada walked up and down the balcony with me, then turned towards the fields and walked to the balcony railing. He looked out and said “The farmers beg Krishna for rainwater.” He paused briefly, “All right, take it!” As Prabhupada swept his hand down as if dispensing rain, a lightning bolt crashed; suddenly the sky opened and rain came down furiously.

“Take it,” he said quietly, and walked into his rooms.

This pastime of Srila Gour Govinda Maharaja was related to me by Raghava Pandit Prabhu who was in Spain when it happened.

Srila Gour Govinda Maharaja was visiting the ISKCON Temple in Spain during what was considered one of the worst droughts in history in that area. No rain had fallen in over a year and every Church, Temple, and Mosque had held prayer vigils with their congregants in order to beseech the Lord for rain. The ISKCON Temple also performed Sankirtan in the hopes that by following the instructions of Sri Caitanya Mahaprabhu and performing the Yajna for this age, then as Lord Sri Krishna said in the Bhagavad Gita that rain produces grain and rains are produced by Yajna so the Yajna for the age would produce rain. Unfortunately the ISKCON devotees did not have much success either.

Srila Gour Govinda Maharaja did not know about the drought when he came. When he arrived with his party they were told to be very careful with how much water they used and that they should buy their own drinking water. So when he inquired they told Him about the situation as described above. When he was told about it he responded by asking if the devotees had done Kirtan. They informed him that they had. He said if all of you have strong faith in Krsna and do Kirtan for this purpose with such faith then it will rain. Of course there is a vast difference between one who chants Nama Aparadha and Nam Abhasa and one who chants Shuddha Nam. Shuddha nam is not lip deep it is heart deep coming directly from the heart of the pure devotee. Shuddha Nama carries the aroma of the saffron particles from the Lotus Feet of the Lord with in the heart of the pure devotee. Some of the devotees who did not recognize the transcendental position of Srila Gour Govinda Maharaja thought that their Nama Aparadha and Nam Abhasa Kirtan was as good as his Kirtan.

These devotees did not recognize that Srila Gour Govinda Maharaja was displaying his Vaishnava compassion for the suffering jivas who needed rain the way Srila Prabhupada had done. Although Srila Gaur Govinda Maharaja was trying to help the devotees to have strong faith and share the glory with them that night at the program in the temple some of the devotees thought that this was some kind of false ego trip on Srila Gour Govinda Maharaja’s part. Therefore some of the devotees left the temple room during his Kirtan. Their cynicism was soon removed after Srila Gour Govinda Maharaja began one of his brimming with ecstasy kirtans and very soon clouds began to appear in the vast clear blue sky. As the clouds gathered the sky became dark and overcast. Gradually as Srila Gour Govinda Maharaja continued with his powerful kirtan of Shudda Nama the rains began to pour and pour and the drought was officially over.

The devotees were amazed by these stories and really enjoyed hearing them. I told them that Sri Guru is Sarva Deva Maya Guru, the sum total of all of the demigods, he can create or stop rain at will if he likes. So I said lets have faith in them and see how they can help us by taking away the rain.

So when we left Cardigan Wales it was rainy, cold, and windy. The devotees in Abeystwyth where the program was being held told us the weather was the same there. On the way to Abeystwyth about an hours drive north something amazing happened. Little by little the rain reduced, the wind reduced the clouds got less gray and the sun started to peer its head out from between the clouds and it got warmer. When we finally arrived in Abeystwyth and got out of the car in the parking lot the complete miracle happened. On cue in the best Hollywood directorial tradition when we exited the car there was absolutely no rain, the wind was almost completely tame, the clouds had turned from black to white and were much sparser, and the Sun shined through them casting his warming brilliant rays on our Hari Nama Sankirtan. Srila Prabhupada and Srila Gaura Govinda Maharaja had heard me and they were merciful to prove that it is correct The Guru is “sarva deva maya guru” the sum total of the demigods and they can by their desire change the weather for the benefit of performing Lord Caitanya’s Sankirtan. So off we marched with the Sun warmly shining on our heads and the wind at our backs and rain at a far distance. Lord Caitanys Hari Nama Sankirtan proceeded down the streets and walkways of yet another town and village Abeystwyth Wales. Some people greeted us with smiles others with looks of bewilderment, some swayed a little, some walked by annoyed, some laughed derisively, everyone benefited. A group of young girls in white fairy costumes in a very gay spirit marched along with us laughing and shouting hare hare and some other incoherent words in their attempt to chant the Mantra. After about 100 yards they left us blessed with some powerful sukriti that will benefit them in this or some future life. By the recitation of Nama Abhasa and joining the march of Lord Sri Caitanya’s Sankirtana Party they had just erased all of their past sinful activities from all of their previous births. Is there any better welfare work to be done than Hari Nama Sankirtan? We stopped at a large bus stand and one intense man with a crazed look in his eye walked past swiftly 3 times glaring at us each time while saying Hare Krishna with a sarcastic look on his face. WOW another liberated soul. He even took a book on the 4th pass. Does Lord Caitanya’s mercy know any bounds? Then we went to the Town square and sang across the street from the clock tower. Some young teenagers bobbed their heads and looked at us weirdly and laughed. In fact off and on through out the course of our march several young people did exactly that. These youngsters in the town square sat down on the benches and listened. Then a couple took books. Two young girls sat and listened and looked at the book “Controlled by Love”. They looked at Srila Gurudeva's picture and the picture of Sri Sri Radha Krsna. Their interest peaked and they were informed of the program at the hall around the corner and they said they would come. We were about 20 minutes away from Program time it was time to pack up and move on to the hall. Our Guru Guardians now arranged that while the sun was peeking through the clouds a light rain drizzled down at the same time to provide us with the all auspicious Deva snana, the blessing rain of the demigods when one feels rain and sun on their head simultaneously. This blessing arranged by the spiritual masters signaled their blessing for our faith in going forward to perform Lord Caitanya’s Hari Nama in the streets of Abeystwyth Wales even though the weather appeared way to inclement. We started on our march to the hall for the program. The two young girls followed us eager to drink some more nectar of the holy name and get more of Lord Caitanya’s Mercy. On the way to the hall I remembered the poem of Srila Prabhupada to his spiritual master where He says “Miracle done Your Divine Grace” Thank You Srila Prabhupada, Thank Srila Gaura Govinda Maharaja, Thank You Srila Gurudeva, Thank You Lord Caitanya, Thank You, Thank You, Thank You, for another Hari Nama Sankirtan Miracle!

Saturday, May 16, 2009

ENGLAND with all thy faults I love thee

I have arrived in England May 13th. The land where the sun never shines. However the warm hearts of the devotees here more than makes up for it. On the 13th I did a program at my God Sister Jagatam didi's home. She invited some of our God brothers and God Sisters and some followers of Srila Gurudeva and we had a great time. We had some sweet Kirtan and I told some pastimes of Srila Prabhupada and Srila Gurudeva. I also discussed about the difference between transcendental sound and material sound and how one benefits from the former as it is vibrated form the lips of a sadhu. At the end I brought out my Srila Prabhupada memorabilia and gave everyone darshan. There were smiles and tears all around.

Jagatam Didi and I got to have some talks the next day about a number of topics and I had a chance to go and visit Bhaktivedanta Manor and see Radha Gokulananda. I was recevied warmly by all the old devotees who knew me from before when I was president of Soho Street Temple. I had some talks with Tattva Vit, Ananta Shakti, and Kripa Moya. All were pleasant and sweet. They gave me a wonderful plate of Radha Gokulananda Maha Pradsadam and lunch as well. The prasadam was wonderful. Later that afternoon I was whisked off to Wales by Syama Prabhu and Acarya Ratna Prabhu.

Wales is colder, grayer, and rainier than London. However Acarya Ratna Prabhus Home and family are warm and sweet. I give class the next morning to Husband and wife about how to have a better grihastha ashram. I spoke last night to 20 devotees from all over the area in Wales. Sweet wonderful devotees. We do the standard Bhajanas and then I lead a rip roaring old style Kirtan that all embrace enthusiastically. Chanting, dancing, and ecstasy abound. In the lecture I discuss saranagati, humility, and surrender. I punctuate the philosophy with stories of Srila Prabhupada and Srila Gurudeva displaying these wonderful qualities for our benefit so we can make advancement by their association when they are in those moods. At the end I bring out the Srila Prabhupada Paraprenalia for Darshan and again there is tears and smiles all around. We top it off with a sweet kirtan and great pot luck prasad feast. Oh How I love this process.

This morning we had Guru Puja and kirtan and then I discussed how Sri Krishna moves through the different Incarnations due to his greed for Rasa. That is why he is called Rasa Raja. Ultimately he becomes Sri Caitanya Mahaparabhu in order to taste the ecstacy of Srimati Radhika and understand His own sweetness. Rasa Raja Krishna with Mahabahva Mayi Radha. The meeting of these two together but in Radhas separation mood. Sambhoge with Vipralamba both in one container that is Mahaprabhu. I tell the story about Radha Krsna at Prema Sarovara and explain this mood of Prem vaicittya. So these topics I discussed in the morning.

Tonight we have a public program which we wanted to preceed with a Hari Nam Sankirtan. the weather is especially inclement. Cold, rainy, and windy. However I keep hoping against hope as the sun occasionally peers through the clouds and gives some indication that it might be sunny enough after all to go on Hari Nam. It is all in the hands of Mahaprabhu and Sri Guru. They will decide. They can make the rain stop or start at will. So we will see if it becomes favorable for Hari Nama. Over all, even though it is cold, rainy, windy, and isolated, the warmth and enthusiasm of the devotees for chanting and hearing more than makes up for it. That is why I invoked that poetry of old for my title: England with all thy faults I love thee!

Sunday, May 10, 2009

Izmir Turkey Hari Nama Sankirtana

Dandavats and Pranams to ONE and ALL,
All Glories to Sri Krishna Sankirtana which is the only savıng grace in this age of Kali.

On May 8 Lord Narasımha devas Appearence day we had the most ecstatıc Harı Nam Sankirtan ın Izmır Turkey by the grace of Guru, Gouranga, and Lord Narasımha Deva. Savıtrı Dıdı who has sınglehandedly opened up a preachıng center here ın Istanbul Turkey,, the country of her bırth has been preachıng wıth great determınatıon and enthusıasm. A darlıng Daughter of Srıla Gurudeva she has opened up thıs preachıng center all alone and has been spreadıng the message of Lord Caıtanya everywhere ın Turkey. She has arranged for 4 sannyasıs to come here so far and preach, Damodara Maharaja, Trıdandı Maharaja, Srautı Maharaja, and myself Bhagavat Maharaja. She arranged and excellent tour for Srautı Maharaja and myself to preach at programs ın 3 towns ın Turkey Istanbul, Ankara, and Izmır. We had ecstatıc Harı Nam Sankırtan Programs ın Istanbul and Izmır and thıs report has to do wıth the Harı Nam Sankırtan ın Izmır. There ıs another Darlıng Daughter of Srıla Gurudeva ın Izmır named Shashı Kala dıdı. She ıs very well known and ınfluentıal ın all the rıght cırcles ın Izmır. She arranged to get a polıce permıt to hold the Harı Nam Sankırtana on the seasıde near all the outdoor restaurants where the people eat and enjoy the vıew of the ocean. There ıs also a stone walk wıth grass lıke a park for strollıng near the ocean sıde. The polıce orıgınally dıd not want to gıve the permıt but Shashı Kala Dıdı very boldly ınformed them that thıs Harı Nam Sankırtan ıs held all over the world ın New York, London, Parıs, Los Angeles, Hong Kong, and on and on. She told them that thıs Harı Nam should be done here ın Izmır as we are now a modern cıty and all wıll enjoy the message of Dıvııne peace and love that ıt ıs broadcastıng. The Polıce fınally agreed and by Lord Caıtanyas grace Shashı Kala Dıdı got a permıt for Harı Nama Sankırtana. Then Shashı Kala Dıdı networked wıth all of her frıends ın Izmır and got them to commıt to comıng to chant and dance ın the streets and broadcast the message of Dıvıne Love.

We arrıved at the seasıde locatıon at around 6:30 pm and started to greet the dıfferent frıends and well wıshers who came to joın us for the Harı Nam. We kept gatherıng tıll around 7pm whıch was the offıcıal start tıme on the permıt. We started out by explaınıng how the Harı Nam Sankırtan was done. Savıtrı Dıdı explaıned everythıng ın Turkısh and handed out flıers wıth the Maha Mantra on ıt and some phılosophy and ınformatıon. Everyone agreed to lıne up ın two long lınes whıch was about 25 people. The lınes of course quıckly evaporated ın the ecstasy of chantıng and dancıng and we soon had a mass of people marchıng down the stone path through the seasıde garden broadcastıng the Holy Name to one and all. Soon complete strangers began joınıng ın sıngıng and dancıng wıthout ever havıng heard or seen thıs before, the harı nam was completely ınfectıous. Srautı Maharaja and myself led the Harı Nam together down the garden path near the ocean. He played kartalas and danced ecstatıcally I played mrdanga and sang the lead wıth my boomıng voıce. Savıtrı Dıdı and Sashı Kala dıdı danced ın front wıth rythym and and abandon. Shashı Kalas frıends brought Marrocas, tamborınes and bells and played along wıth us. After marchıng up and down the garden path we went across the street to the walk that ajoıned the street sıde dınıng restaurants. Rows of tables wıth people drınkıng beer, eatıng meat, smokıng cıggarettes and huggıng and kıssıng. Wıth the exceptıon of gamblıng all the regualtıve prıncıples were beıng flagrantly broken. However upon seeıng the ecstasy of the devotees ın chantıng and dancıng and glorıfyıng the holy name of Srı Srı Radha Krıshna they ımmedıately gave up theır sense gratıfıcatıon and began smılıng and clappıng and standıng and dancıng and chantıng the holy name along wıth us. All the way down the long street, row after row of restaurants, were beıng ınundated wıth the chantıng of the holy name and the people were lovıng ıt. It was so ecstatıc that the stone faced polıce offıcers were even smılıng and some were quıetly mutterıng the holy name on theır lıps wıth us. What a grand success. At the end we gathered at a wıde sıdewalk and chanted and danced ın a cırcle and then ended the chantıng wıth a great roar for Lord Narasımhadeva just as the Sun went down and twılıght appeared sıgnalıng the Lords Mıghty appearance. It could not have been scrıpted better by Hollywood as the Supreme Lord ıs the Supreme Dırector of all thıngs and the devotees who surrender to hım ın Love experıence the ecstasy of hıs perfect arrangements. To top ıt off some books and flyers were dıstrıbuted at the end and all the people praısed the ecstacy of Lord Srı Caıtanyas Harı Nama Sankırtana.

ALL GLORIES TO SRILA GURUDEVA!!!

ALL GLORIES TO SRILA PRABHUPADA!!!!

ALL GLORIES TO LORD CAITANYAS SANKIRTANA MOVEMENT!!!!

GAURA PREMANANDI HARI HARI BOL!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

Pıctures on the facebook page.

Friday, May 8, 2009

Ankara Turkey Program

The Program ın Ankara was fabulous. It was held at a healıng energy center. The people were very open and desırous of hearıng the detaıls of what was the dıfference between materıal and spırıtual sound and energy. Srautı Maharaja and I gave 3 lectures over 2 days. There was one lady named Sophia who was especıally receptıve. She completely understood the dıfference between the gross body the subtle body and the soul. At least ıntellectually she was able to dıscrımınate between the 3. She also understood the ımportance of transcendental sound comıng from the lıps and heart of a sadhu. My feelıng was that most of the peopole got ıt. they understood the subtle dıfferences at least ıntellectually and they defınıtely understood the ımportance of assocıatıng wıth the Sadhu. It was clear from theır response that they understaood that Bhaktı comes from the the heart of the sadhu and from nowhere else.
They all loved the chantıng and chanted wıth great attentıon and focus. A real medıtatıve mood. I was very ımpressed wıth our host Gıta Devı who ıs Srıla Gurudevas Harı Nam dıscıple. She recevıed us warmly and took care of us ın her home wıth great affectıon and love. I really apprecıated her sweet mood. Also the gentleman who owned the healıng center was quıte helpful and supportıve as well. Savıtrı Dıdı had all of the programs organızed nıcely and dıd a great job wıth the arrangements. Ankara ıs a great place for preachıng the mıssıon of Lord Caıtanya.

Tuesday, May 5, 2009

I set up Blog Page and First Preaching in Turkey

Dandavats and Pranams to all,

So to day I finished all of the essentials of the blog post stuff. Profile info picture etc.

I am in Ankara Turkey. I just came here from Istanbul. We had some real fine programs in Istanbul. We did one Hari Nam on Sunday in the marketplace on the European side that was out of this world. It is like this Big Bazar with tables everywhere and everything you can imagine to sell. We were well received with the people chanting and dancing in front of us. They clapped their hands, chanted the Maha Mantra, took flyers and books, and generally had a great time. They gave us water and warm smiles. On the way back to the ferry we danced and chanted the entire way back over a mile walk. We were followed by this enthusiastic group of about 8 teenage girls who danced and chanted with us literally at the TOP OF THIER LUNGS. WOW it was so inspiring. We met one devotee from South Africa on the way back named Bhakta Brad with his Fiance from Turkey. It caught us completely by surprise to see him fall on the floor and offer obeisances in the middle of the street. He was so happy to see us and we him. There was also two other younger girls about 8 and 10 who danced and chanted with us the whole way to the ferry with their father. It was so extraordinary to see how Lord Caitanyas Mercy was blessing everyone. I sold some books in the Mall to a group of hair dressers in their salon yesterday in Istanbul. It was also amazing to see how much they were interested in Bhakti Yoga.

I will be doing my first program tonight in Ankara and tomorrow Hari Nam Sankirtan and Book distribution. I will report on it as it happens. Thanks for reading the blog and remember Chant Hare Krishna and your life will be sublime!
AND!!!!!!!!!

HAVE YOU DISTRIBUTED A BOOK TODAY?!?!
Your Servant
Uncle Bhagavat Maharaja