jueves, 18 de marzo de 2010

HH Bir Krishna Goswami


BKG INSTRUCTS is a newsletter presenting excerpts from the lectures and conversations of HH Bir Krishna das Goswami. The articles were first published in Serbian newsletter "Bhakti vriksa", and are a summary of his advice to Serbian devotees, interested in how to develop a Vaisnava community. This newsletter came out so nice that Srila Gurudeva wanted the texts to be translated into English for all other devotees.

Your servant,
Prema manjari dasi

Tungavidya dasi
Rangadevi dasi

Prema manjari dasi


Developing Vaisnava communities.............................................pg 2
What is the position of HH Bir Krishna Goswami ........................pg 3
How to structure our weekly meetings........................................pg 4
How to cooperate properly.........................................................pg 6
Concept of dharma - path to happiness.......................................pg 7
The role of a leader - the attitude of a leader ...............................pg 8
If we really want to have good families .......................................pg 9
If they are brahmacaries where do their children come from..........pg 9
Every asma has its sacrifice.................................................... pg 10
Differences between grihasthasa...............................................pg 11
Every asrama has specific duties..............................................pg 12
Economy............................................................................... pg 13
What is most important in educating children.............................pg 13
Why are we progressing so slowly at present.............................pg 14
How to be a devotee 24 hours a day..........................................pg 14
How to improve our chanting and surrendering
to the spiritual master..............................................................pg 15
Everybody to Vrindavana..........................................................pg 16
What is the meaning of Srila Prabhupada's statement that it is
better to live with the worst devotee than with the best karmi ......pg 16

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My specialty is developing Vaisnava communities. I am trying to form communities based on the example of community that we have in Fiji. Devotees form extended families. All the devotees are like a family. If someone needs

help, the devotees go to help; maybe financially, or if

someone is building the house . . . in every way. Devotees invite each other over for prasadam, which is very nice. Women know how to cook, and they always have guests. Vedic culture is based on cooking. In the Upadesamrita of Rupa Goswami, there are descriptions of six kinds of love. Prabhupada says that our movement will spread because of these six symptoms. This is culture; it is in the sastra. People share everything, and sharing starts with prasadam. Prabhupada said that family life means that before sitting down to eat, a householder goes out in the street and calls out to see if there is anyone who is hungry. Prabhupada stressed that this is a culture of sharing, especially sharing Prasadam (food). This actually builds community; a model of sharing, a model of helping each other. Many people join because of social structure - because of friends because they like people who are in the Hare Krishna movement. Preaching is also a kind of sharing, the sharing of philosophy with people, rather than "preaching". It is sharing of Krishna consciousness.

We need a nice, warm family atmosphere if we want to make devotees. It is essential to build a community to make a large number of devotees. Taking over the Earth should be our goal; Prabhupada was thinking big.

In many cities where they had a temple, the whole Krishna consciousness society became centered on the temple only. They installed more Deities than there were devotees in the temple. In America there are many more Deities than there are devotees. Then the temple becomes a burden, and people forget about the preaching, forget about the community. They preach against the community to maintain the temple. They preach to the devotees in the temple not to get married because they think that those devotees have to stay in the temple.


collect money, do this, and do that. In some places the temple is actually slowing down the spreading of Krishna consciousness. With the development of congregation, temples will naturally come about. Temples will manifest naturally when there is a congregation, and when members of congregation give part of their income.

How to form a community or build a community? The Bhakti-vriksa program is good for that. A family atmosphere, a group atmosphere comes when there are small groups of 10-15 people maximum.

How to start a community? With a small group of 10 to 15 people and regular association. Every member of the small group has to have some responsibility for others. Responsibility means that they have some responsibility towards others. Just like in the Chowpatty temple's "Mentor Program", every person is responsible for someone else. "Each one teach one." We are actually responsible for one another. Personal relationships are based on feeling for others and being responsible for them. This is how to start a community. We do not need the temples to expand. Temples are places where communities meet and worship together, but a building will not make devotees. The greatest treasure that we have in our movement is its people. There is no stability without community.

A community is mainly formed by grihastas since they are the stomach of the society. Brahmacaries are the legs, grihastas are the stomach, sannyasis are the head. In varnasrama culture if the stomach does not function properly, everything else becomes disturbed. Ninety nine percent of the devotees become grihastas, and this is an asram where we need to concentrate on with regard to developing communities. Householders are stable. Brahmacaris and sannyasis are not stable. They may be stable spiritually, but not materially.

What is the position of
HH Bir Krishna Goswami?

I see my position as a facilitator, someone who helps the devotees to help themselves. This is what a facilitator does.

My function is to help the devotees. Prabhupada said that the function of a GBC is to help the devotees. Outside preaching can be done by others. Prabhupada said that the business of a GBC is to concentrate on internal preaching, on helping the Vaisnavas.

The best structure that I have seen is the bhakti-vriksa structure. This structure means that you meet and sit in a circle and look at each other. This helps in developing mutual relationships.

The first thing that you do is something what we call "ice-breaking". This means that everybody says something light, so that the atmosphere becomes relaxed. You can say, for example, what was the worst thing that happened to you last week. Everybody in the circle says something. There is a certain time for everything, and the ice-breaking takes about 10 minutes.

Then you can all bring out your japas and chant one round together. This develops the group spirit even more. This takes about 10 minutes. After that, you can all have a kirtan or bhajan for about 20 minutes.

After that the leader reads some text from some part of Prabhupada's book, and then those present discuss it going in a circle. Everybody discusses what it said, what it mean and how to apply it in his/her life. This is called discovery. This is actually refreshing because everyone gets a chance to talk, not only some puffed up sannyasi who is sitting in front of all of you. It is announced in advance which part of the book will be discussed, and in this way everybody is forced to study, to prepre. In general, we all love to read some stories. Most of us will not read untill we are forced to read, because this is philosophy. However, philosophy becomes interesting when you talk it. This all takes about 45 minutes.

After that, you can talk about how have you been preaching to others during the week, how you have been distributing prasadam, how you have been talking with somebody whom you have met and given them Krishna consciousness, and how to invite somebody into the group. You can always think about inviting a guest to your group. This can take 20 minutes.

After that you honor prasadam.

If you keep this structure, it will actually keep the group together and encourage people to preach Krishna consciousness.


This is one part of bhakti-vriksa. The second part is that everyone in the group is appointed to take care of somebody else, to be responsible for them. I am responsible for you during the week. I call you on the phone and ask you whether you are chanting your rounds, whether you have some problems. In this way a personal relationship is established. In English we call that "each one teach one". Another name is mentor. Everyone has a mentor. In this way you always feel responsible for somebody.

… all the other devotees are saying, "Oh, they are in maya", but nobody calls them to ask them what is wrong…

Without such a structure things become a little impersonal. Many devotees are leaving the Society because nobody calls them on the phone, and all the other devotees are saying, "Oh, they are in maya", but nobody calls them to ask them what is wrong. That means that it is very important for the devotees to take responsibility for taking care of other devotees.


We can call other people to the meeting as guests. But before someone joins the group, you have to be sure that they fit into the group, and that they commit themselves to come to every meeting.

When someone comes for the first time, should he sit in the group or by the side? By the side. They can observe and participate, if they want, but most people are too shy. It can be hard for them to comment on the texts from the sastra. They can chant with the group, but they should not feel pressure.

The principle is that a small group does not have more than 15 people. If there are more than 15 people, then the group has to break into two or three groups. And every group has to have a leader who is responsible for the whole program. If there are more then 15 people, then there are some in the back who never participate and they feel very discouraged because in every group there are people with big mouths who take over the whole group, and poor innocent people sit in the back. The leader has to take care, so that the people with big mouths do not dominate. This is called group facilitating. This is the most difficult thing for the leader to do.

…That means that it is very important for the devotees to take responsibility for taking care of other devotees…

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This means, first of all, that we need to hear from others. There has to be an exchange of information and thoughts. Even if you are a leader, you have to be able to listen to others, to hear when they reveal their minds and to actually take this seriously.

Karmis sometimes say that God gave us two ears and one mouth. Therefore, we need to use our ears two times more than our mouths. For me it is a very important principle to hear from the devotees when I work with them. Our job as a leader is to make it easier for them to become Krishna consciouss. Instead of preaching, we have to share Krishna consciousness with those with whom we have contact. This means that you hear from people. You have to ask them questions, and hear where they are in their Krishna conscious life and what they actually need to hear.

Preaching means that you have to adjust your preaching according to time, place and circumstances. There are
different listeners for whom you need to adjust your preaching. Therefore, you need to see who you are speaking to; you need to be compassionate.


You have to respect the individuality of each person. This is a leader, a real leader, a servant leader.

You have to respect the individuality of each person

Not that you have to do what I say, because I am the president. Guru can say, "I am your guru, you have to do this!" However, once you say that, you lose your authority. If you have to exert your authority in this way, you have lost it, because our movement is based on cooperation, love and trust.

As Srila Prabhupada was speaking, "We should not act in such a way as to destroy or harm individual initiative." This means that we have to engage people according to their nature, which means that we have to ask them questions. Prabhupada would often ask people, "What would you want to do for Krishna?" Then he would engage them accordingly. However, to regard everyone as fitting the same mold is not good for the devotees in the long run. Therefore, we need varnasrama. Prabhupada said that 50 % of his mission is not fullfilled, and this means varnasrama. Varnasrama means that everyone has a different nature, and that he needs to be engaged in Krishna's service accordingly.

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In the Vedic system there was a concept of dharma. Dharma basically means to do the right thing. This was the central focus and everything was structured around the idea of doing the right thing. Even if someone was not completely Krishna conscious, he or she wanted to be good and to do the right thing.

In today's society you practically never hear "You need to do the right thing!" They are teaching us, especially through the advertisements, to do what pleases us. I remember the year 1960. The hippies had a motto, " If it feels good, it is good for you."

There are so many deviations from moral principles today because people do not have a concept of duty. We have to be attached to the concept of dharma, and this means that we do what is right. Although in many cases this may not be transcendental, it is the basis on which a transcendental practice in this world is built. Nobody can be Krishna consciouss if he is breaking the four regulative principles. There is no way; it is simply impossible.

You will not be happy trying to satisy your desire.You will be happy trying to satisfy Krishna's desire.

If we follow dharma, then we will be successful. We will go back to God. We should always be attached to these principles of dharma. We need to train the mind to do the right thing regardless of what the mind and the senses say, which is of course a sentimental platform. We have to consider things


with intelligence. The platform of intelligence means to be fixed on sastra, scriptures. Then, every time we make decisions, every time we do somethng in this world, we will consider everything through the eyes of sastra, sastra-caksu. We will ask whether something is good or bad, and not whether I like it or not. The main thing is what Krishna wants.

The same is true in my private life. When I make decisions in life, I always think what would Prabhupada want me to do. I try not to think of what I would do. The attitude of a devotee should be to accept everything favorable and to reject everything unfavorable. If you want to make progress, you have to function in this way. You have to accept everything which is helpful and reject everything which is not helpful. You will not be happy trying to satisfy your desire. You will be happy if you try to satisfy Krishna's desire, Krishna's will. This is dharmic, doing only that

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what pleases Krishna, "Hrisikesa hrisikena . . . " Exactly this is what will make you happy. If you do what is pleasing to you, you become miserable because you are under the control of the three modes of material nature. On the other hand if you are controlled by bhakti or love, obedience is the beginning of love. If you are controlled by that, by the spirit of dharma and obedience, you will be always happy. You will be free from the three modes of material nature.


Leaders help and facilitate the devotees' becoming Krishna conscious.

A real leader is a servant leader. He respects the individuality of others.

A real leader listens to hear what the other person needs, so that he can actually help him.

Leaders lose their authority the moment they say' "I am your authority," or "you have to do this!"

Our movement is based on cooperation, love and trust.

Individual initiative should not be destroyed or harmed.

Engage the devotees in Krishna's service according to their nature. It is not good to force.

One should ask questions, "What would you like to do for Krishna?"



If we really want to have good families, good vaisnava community, we have to give up the enjo-ying spirit. We should not try to enjoy each other. We should try to serve each other. We are servants. Just like a typical statement for someone who is a leader, we call him a servant-leader. If someone takes up a position in the Movement for Krishna consciousness, we should see him as a servant of everyone else. Like me, I am a vaisnava sannyasi, a guru or whatever. I need to see that I am a servant of everyone else. I came here to serve you, not to enjoy you.


Some people spent too many years in the brahmacari asrama before they got married, and they cannot get this out of their minds. They think they are still brahmacaris when they get married. They can have five children, and they still think that they are brahmacaris. My question is: If they are really brahmacaris, where did their children come from? Brahmacari means celibate. That means, if they are really householders, they should take responsibility and help the rest of the society; brahmacaris to be brahmacaris, vanaprastas to be vanaprastas and sannyasis to be sannyasis. Srila Prabhupada said that 50 % of his mission is still unfullfilled, because he has not established that system yet.

Caitanya Mahaprabhu had many grihasta disciples who were making money, and he was very pleased. For example, Sivananda Sena was taking care of the devotees every year when they went to Jaganath Puri to see Caitanya Mahaprabhu. He would pay taxes for everyone and take care of everyone. And what would happen if they had not had Sivananda Sena? He was doing very nice service in this way. This was not maya; it was complete Krishna consciousness. This is the point. To fullfill Srila Prabhupada's mission we have to establish a very nice, clearly defined social system. This is not material if we really want to spread Krishna consciousness all over the world.



It is the duty
of a grihasta
to take care
of economical

Sacrifice for a grihasta is to work and maintain the rest of the society

Before leaving this world Srila Prabhupada said that 50% of his mission is still unfullfilled. This means varnasrama. Srila Prabhupada's concern regarding the social structure is actually part of his desire to please Krishna and spread his movement everywhere. In order to have the movement all over the world, we have to have an organization, varnas and asramas. And to maintain this Movement all over the world, most of the people need to be grihastas. This is their sacrifice. Sacrifice for a brahmacari is to do only what his spiritual master tells him to do, to live very, very simply and surrender everything. He should carry all his belongings in a small bag. If he has more than that than he is not a brahmacari, but a mamachari, a gentleman brahmacari.

Sacrifice for a grihastha is to work and maintain the rest of the society. They are the stomach of the society. Varnasrama means that every part of the varnasrama system makes up a different part of the social body. Brahmacaris are the legs, vanaprastas are hands and sannyasis are the head.

In other words, a bonafide duty of grihastas is to take care of economic development. To please Krishna and to have Vedic society, grihastas must be interested in economic development.


Grihastas are responsible for the rest of society

There are differences between grihastas. Someone is a brahmana grihastha; someone is a ksatriya grihastha; someone is a vaisya grihastha; and someone is a sudra grihastha. Everyone earns his livelihood differently and develops economically in a different way.

A brahmana is dependent on donations. This means that he will live austerely because people, in general, do not give big donations. He can live in a forest ... brahmanas love to live austerely. A perfect example of this is Sudama brahmana.

A ksatriya earns his livelihood by collecting taxes or serving the government.

A vaisya earns a living by doing business. He buys something at a low price and sells it at a high price, telling people that he did not make any money. This is a vaisya. Prabhupada said that a vaisya has to lie, that this is part of his dharma.

A sudra makes his livelihood by working for others for a salary.

The point is that we are all Vaishnavas. Ultimately, no one of us is a sudra, a brahmana, a vaisya or a ksatriya. A vaishnava can act to teach by example
without being a sudra.

But the point I am making is that devotees in the householder asrama are responsible for the rest of the society. It is your responsibility to maintain brahmacaris and sannyasis.

The point is
That we are all



A brahmacari should not have a girlfriend
because then he is not a brahmacari.

A grihastha should not ignore his wife because this is not a grihasta

Everyone of us has specific nature. Some have the nature of a grihastha, some of a brahmacari or sannyasi. This is a very specific thing.

In other words, a brahmacari should not have a girlfriend, because this is not a brahmacari, and a girhastha should not ignore his wife, because this is not a grihastha. A householder has specific duties. He has to support his wife emotionally. He can not think, "O, I am a brahmacari with

my brahmacari assistant." He has specific duties.

Every asrama has to stick to its duties. That means that every one of us has a specific nature which fits into a specific asrama. If you are a brahmacari by nature you never get married. But this is very rare, perhaps one in a million.


What shall we do in a situation when the economic development is very difficult?

In the long run, we must encourage people to get educated. It will be easier for them to maintain themselves in higher social positions, and they will be able to influence the leaders of the society. Devotees and their children need to get educated to be able to have a position in a society. In this way they can be respected and they can preach to other people. This is long-term.

In the short run, it is difficult. If we have a society of devotees, they can help each other to get a job or to do a business together. Basically people have to think in the long run as far as their earnings are concerned.

Devotees should be the top level at everything. They should be the best: the best businessmen, the best scientists. We need to be experts materially, but we need to do that in an honest and responsible way so that people can respect the devotees.

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