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Goddess Ganga - Tales of Ganga, The River Goddess - Exotic India

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Tales of Ganga, The River Goddess

Article of the Month - January 2011

Goddess Ganga
Goddess Ganga
Ganga, the river or the goddess, or the river-goddess, a divine emergence: bounty of gods, or a mere geological phenomenon: result of a series of physical disturbances in Himalayan region, timed or the timeless, is now for ages core of faith of millions of Indians, north and south and east and west, and beyond. They have sought in gods the means of salvation but as much, or rather more often, mere fulfillment of worldly desires, in Ganga they have always found an inexhaustible source of their spiritual energy and a ladder to salvation accomplishing with a few drops of her water what long years of penance fail to do. She evokes desires and fulfills them but mundane hardly ever though abundant food and water are her generous bounties she bestows on all, unsought and sans demand. Ganga is now for ages a river, a physical entity, but the moment the term 'Ganga' enters into one's ears the image that appears in the mind is certainly not one of a river. Ganga is a river beyond, and a spiritual realisation within - truer and more convincing.

Bathing in the Ganges
Bathing in the Ganges

Immense is Ganga's mystique and sanctifying power. A dip in her waters is believed to accomplish what a journey to all Tirthas - holy shrines, does not do. The renowned art-historian C. Sivaramamurti has rightly recorded his ecstatic experience after he had a dip, the ever first in his life, in the holy river at Varanasi: 'Everything looked so transformed, that I had the illusion I was transported to heaven and was actually bathing in the celestial stream'.

This mystic power of Ganga is not confined to transforming merely a routine act into a divine experience, a drop of her water intermingled with any quantity of water, even the ocean, infuses into it the same power to transport from this realm to another as Ganga herself has. As texts have it, streaming from Shiva's coiffure to where the ashes of Bhagiratha's ancestors lay, Ganga, when attempting at sweeping away the hermitage of sage Jahnu, was sipped by the enraged sage. Later, on Bhagiratha's prayer, sage Jahnu released her from his ear. Though just incidentally, Ganga thus transmitted to human ears the sanctity of the place of her origin - wherefrom she emerged, so much so that ever since touching one's ears before performing a rite or commemorating a deity is believed to have same sanctity as doing it after bathing in the holy waters of Ganga.
By her strange mystic powers Ganga makes every Indian feel her presence in his ears, something he believes without knowing its mythicism - Ganga's ear-association or whatever, the same as blood runs in his veins without letting him realize or feel its volume, pace, or even its presence. In any event of a miraculous escape from a wrong, harm, catastrophe, or a mishap, the astonished hands instinctively rise to ears and touch them with reverence - a wordless pious expression of one's gratitude to the Supreme, Ganga becoming his medium. Holding ears when apologizing for a wrong or ill - an ages old practice prevalent in India's every part and every section of society, literate or illiterate, is the same as swearing by Ganga as to the genuineness of such apology.
Not merely as river that stretches across the entire subcontinent covering a distance of over 2500 kilometers - 2510 to be exact, Ganga, or whatever relates to her, has strange width - geographical, and on the scale of time. Ganga is contended to have been brought to the earth for a limited purpose: absolving Sagara's sixty thousand sons of their sin. However, Ganga assumed this redeemer's role for ever and for every one, and now for ages immersing material remains of the dead into her waters is believed to absolve him of all his sins and redeem him from the cycle of birth and death. The epithet 'Tarini' - one who redeems or absolves of sins, is exclusively Ganga's.

Jai Ganga Maiya: A Mega TV Serial: The Greatest Mythological Spectacle 'Ganga' The Living Goddess (Set of 14 DVDs with English Subtitles)
Jai Ganga Maiya: A Mega TV Serial: The Greatest Mythological Spectacle 'Ganga' The Living Goddess (Set of 14 DVDs with English Subtitles)

Besides her power to redeem, sanctity is Ganga's other exclusive domain. A deity, even one of the Great Trinity, acquires competence to preside over a Yajna, or any rite, only after he or she has been consecrated by 'abhisheka' - bathed with Ganga's water, even symbolically: the first step in all sacrificial rites; and, the holy priest, as also the devotee hosting the 'yajna', will first purify their physical beings by rinsing their hands with Ganga's water, and the intrinsic beings, by sipping a few drops of it, for it is only after the body and the soul have been purified that the offering they make is accepted. Whatever the symbolic stretch of the Sagara's myth, lifeless ashes of his sixty thousand sons lying scattered over the bosom of an empty ocean and Ganga absolving them of their sins, or of reviving the ocean back to life with her waters, these are by the waters of Ganga, representing all rivers, that the life sustains in the ocean's hard alkaline waters and under the layers of its unfathomable darkness, and volume and level of its fill are maintained.


A river, or a goddess, accounts widely vary in regard to Ganga's person, temperament and relationships, when she was in Vaikuntha. Mahabharata, the earliest text in which Ganga emerges with a decisive role, alludes to her as a goddess in anthropomorphic form, careless and vain. In the Mahabharata Ganga's role as river is also as much significant, though even as river in her interaction with others - gods or human beings, Ganga has been conceived as having an anthropomorphic form.
The Mahabharata attributes Ganga's descent from Vaikuntha to her carelessness. Once when in Vaikuntha, casually clad Ganga passes across or comes to where sat Brahma with other gods and royal sages, a gust of wind blows off her clothes exposing her figure to the embarrassment of Brahma and others. All in the assembly turn their eyes away from her except Mahabhisha, a prince of Ikshvaku dynasty elevated to Vaikuntha for his illustrious deeds. Mahabhisha keeps gazing at her. Displeased by her carelessness Brahma ordains Ganga's expulsion from Vaikuntha and descent on the earth to be the wife of Mahabhisha who for impertinently gazing at Ganga's figure, too, was to revert back to the earth and be re-born as a human being. Well acquainted with Ganga's wilful nature Brahma provides that Ganga shall do things that will displease Mahabhisha but he shall bear them to an extent though finally when it becomes unbearable he shall break and chastise Ganga and with this he shall be absolved of his curse. With no chance of rectification Mahabhisha decides that he shall be born as the son of Pratipa, an illustrious king in the Lunar Dynasty.
Later texts have given to this simple version of the myth a dramatic twist. As such texts have it, once Lakshmi, Saraswati and Ganga, Mahavishnu's three consorts, were sitting around chatting with him. Of all three Ganga, his wife with an unsteady nature, was casting on Vishnu sidelong glances to which he was secretly responding. Saraswati noticed it and when it became unbearable, she got up and began berating Ganga. Lest the things worsened, Lakshmi tried to intervene, though Lakshmi's such intervention only further enraged Saraswati and she cursed Lakshmi to be born on the earth. Ganga chided Saraswati for cursing the well-meaning innocent Lakshmi and cursed her to descend on the earth as a river. Saraswati cursed her alike and also that as the river on the earth she would take upon her the sins of all born ones.
A neutral spectator, Vishnu, witnessing the entire drama with absolute composure, tells that whatever has happened was pre-scheduled. Lakshmi shall go to the earth as the daughter of Dharmadvaja though not born of any of his women. He foretells her role on the earth, the forms she shall manifest with, and finally, restoration of her prior status as his consort in Vaikuntha. As for Saraswati, Vishnu ordains that she shall be a river on the earth, though in due course with her divine form she shall return to Satyaloka and then she shall be Brahma's consort. He tells Ganga that she shall go to the earth as a holy river that shall wash off the sins of all human beings. As scheduled, Bhagiratha, a prince of Ikshvaku Dynasty, shall lead her to the earth, which will give her a new name Bhagirathi. On the earth she shall be the wife of king Shantanu, one endowed with the ocean's depth and quiescence; and, though her physical form shall remain on the earth, her divine form shall return to Mount Kailash as the consort of Shiva.
When disappointed and tired Ganga plods back, she meets Ashtavasus, alike tired and disappointed. Deluded by his wife one of them, named Dyau, in connivance with others had stolen Nandini, the holy cow of sage Vashishtha. For their misdeed the holy sage had cursed them to be born as human beings. Their efforts to appease the holy sage prevailed and the curse was modified to the effect that seven of them would die soon after their birth and return to Vaikuntha but the eighth, Dyau, who actually stole the cow would live his full tenure but will not have any offspring. When entreated, Ganga assured them that she shall bear them in her womb when she descends on the earth and marries Shantanu. Texts do not elaborate Ganga's story in Vaikuntha any further till Bhagiratha by his rigorous penance persuades her to descend on the earth for absolving the sin of his ancestors.


The Emergence of the Ganga on the Earth
The Emergence of the Ganga on the Earth
These myths, as also a few others, perceive Ganga, when in Vaikuntha, as a goddess on par with Lakshmi and Saraswati, the two goddesses to whom the Rig-Veda has devoted a number of Suktas. The Rig-Veda is silent in regard to Ganga though two terms 'Jahnavi' and 'Bhagiratha' that have strong Ganga-contexts occurring in the Rig-Veda suggest the prior or at least contemporaneous presence of the two sages. As these myths have it, like Lakshmi and Saraswati, Ganga too does not appear to have emerged or been born at any point of time. Like them she too seems to have been ever present. However, another set of myths, two of them being major, times Ganga's origin or birth and links it to Vishnu. One of these myths contends Ganga's emergence from Brahma's 'Kamandala', a widely believed proposition. Pleased by Bhagiratha's rigorous penance Brahma agrees to send the celestial stream to the earth. To effect it, he pours some water from his 'Kamandala' on the feet of Vishnu. By the touch of Vishnu's feet it expands into a huge stream. When this stream descends on the earth, Shiva bears it on his 'Jata' - coiffure. The myth is thus quite specific in regard to the source of Ganga's emergence as also its time, though more than anything its object seems to emphasise Trinity's unity for the myth represents Brahma, Vishnu and Shiva working as one unit in Ganga's emergence on the earth.
Another Vishnu-related myth links Ganga's origin to Vishnu's Vamana incarnation. It is said that for spanning three worlds in three strides when Vishnu expanded his form and raised his left leg, hit by its nails the sky burst open and with a roaring sound a huge stream stormed the entire celestial region. Considering the sky - the entire celestial region, nothing but the expanse of Vishnu foot, texts prefer calling it as Vishnu-pada, and consequently Ganga emerging from it, as Vishnupadi - born of Vishnu-pada. For many eons Ganga streamed in the celestial region known as Dhruvamandala, astronomically the region around Polar Star, otherwise the seat of Dhruva, the son of king Uttanapada, where he sits fixed into penance. The Dhruvamandala was incessantly frequented by Sapta-rishis - seven stars representing Seven Sages who as frequently bathed in Ganga.
The Descent of Goddess Ganga
The Descent of Goddess Ganga

Ganga, after she emits Vishnu-pada, first comes to 'Devayana' - galaxy of crores of glittering stars known as Akasha-Ganga - Milky Way, and then to Chandramandala - the moon-region. With her objective to purify the whole world, not any specific region, from Chandramandala onwards Ganga bifurcates into four streams: Sita, Chakshus, Alakananda, and Bhadra, Sita falling on Mount Meru, Chakshus, on Malyavan, Bhadra, on Mount Shringavana, and Alakananda, on Mount Hemakuta. Sita drains Gandhamadana and through Bhadrashva falls into the eastern sea; Chakshus flows through Ketumala and falls into the western sea; Alakananda flows through Bharata Varsha and falls into the southern sea; and, Bhadra streams through Uttarakuru and falls into the northern sea.



This mythical Ganga reveals strange similarity with the river Ganga as she flows on the earth. As in the myth, Alakananda, with at least six significant tributaries, the confluence of which constitutes Ganga, joining her, Dhauliganga at Vishnu Prayaga, Pindar at Karna Prayaga, Nandakini at Nanda Prayaga, Mandakini at Rudra Prayaga and Bhagirathi at Deva Prayaga, appears to be the Ganga's principal stream, though with Bhagiratha-myth being more deeply rooted into popular mind the status of the main stream is more often attributed to Bhagirathi. Bhagirathi is formed of snow-melt mainly at 7756 meters high Gangotri glaciers, to which other glaciers, especially those at peaks like Nanda Devi and Kamet, substantially contribute. Bhagirathi begins descending down at Gomukha, a place some 18 kilometers ahead of Gangotri. The river gets its name as Ganga after Deva Prayaga. At Deva Prayaga Alakananda, with six main streams being her tributaries, and Bhagirathi, the longest stream, join each other rendering it difficult to assign to either of the two status of the principal stream.
As the Ganga of the myth descends on Vishnu's feet from Brahma's Kamandala, Alakananda pours down at Badrinatha, which is Vishnu's manifest body. It is only after the divine touch of his feet - foot of the cliff at Badrinatha, that the stream begins expanding and transforms into the massive form of Ganga. The Alakananda of the myth that drains Bharata Varsha has been perceived as falling into the southern sea. The river Ganga flows eastwards, though suddenly before she falls into the sea she takes a southward curve and falls in the Bay of Bengal on south. Both, the celestial stream of Chandramandala and Ganga on the earth, have strange similarity in regard to distributing themselves for covering larger areas with their benevolence, more so when moving from one region to other. When descending down from Chandramandala and entering the earth the celestial stream bifurcates into four streams. Similarly, when close to submerging into the sea, Ganga begins distributing herself giving birth to such mighty and useful streams as the rivers Hooghly and Padma. By her willful attrition she spreads over a delta not less than three hundred fifty kilometers in width. Proceeding ahead of her origin she gives refuge to many rivers; in the same way, when Ganga reaches close to her merger with the sea, she gives refuge in her bosom to several streams including Jamuna, a major tributary of Brahmaputra, and the great river Meghna. Ganga moves from the Himalayas and terminates her journey into the sea spanning the height of one and the depth of the other.


Whatever the later texts contend, as regards Ganga's descent on the earth the legend of Bhagiratha is the earliest, logically elaborated and most widely accepted. Sagara, a king of Ikshvaku dynasty, was blessed with 60 thousand sons. On their strength Sagara performed Ashvamedha yajna. He deployed them to follow and protect the horse of the yajna. The horse moved round from one end of the world to another. However, when around the sea it disappeared. When matter was reported to king Sagara, he commanded his sons to search the animal everywhere. His sons dug the earth and reached the nether world where they found sage Kapila engaged in penance. Grown arrogant by their collective strength, they charged the sage of stealing the horse. The annoyed sage burnt them all save five by his great spiritual power. When entreated, the sage modified his curse to the effect that the waters of Ganga shall absolve them if the holy river descends on the earth from heaven. Sagara's successors, Raja Dilip and others, did severe penance but with no result. When king Dilip was succeeded by his son Bhagiratha, he too resorted to rigorous penance lauding Ganga for her benevolence. Cursed by Brahma for her indecent manners Ganga was destined to descend on the earth. Hence, she conceded Bhagiratha's prayers and persuasions and agreed to descend on the earth.
Lord Shiva Holding River Goddess Ganga into His Matted Hair
Lord Shiva Holding River Goddess Ganga into His Matted Hair

However, vain as she was, as also seeking to exploit the occasion for satiating her affection for Lord Shiva, she told Bhagiratha that the world would be washed off if her current fell direct on the earth and asked him to persuade Shiva to hold her upon his head when she descended from Vaikuntha. Bhagiratha again undertook rigorous penance and persuaded Shiva for it. 'Kutila' - crooked as Ganga is sometimes called, she designed to abduct Shiva by sweeping him with her current. However, defeating her designs Shiva plucked one of his hair and bore Ganga on it. Some texts say that annoyed Shiva arrested Ganga in his coiffure when she descended from heaven and it was only after fresh penance by Bhagiratha to appease him that Shiva discharged Ganga through one of his locks - alaka, which gave her Alakananda name.

Ganga created for Bhagiratha a fresh problem when attempting at sweeping the hermitage of sage Jahnu on her way to where lay the ashes of Bhagiratha's ancestors she annoyed the holy sage who arrested her in his Kamandala and gulped her. It was only after a lot of persuasions by Bhagiratha that he was reconciled and released Ganga from one of his ears. Bhagiratha then led her to the nether world where his ancestors were burnt into ashes by sage Kapila. Ganga absolved them of their sin with her holy waters. After his ancestors have been absolved Bhagiratha conducted Ganga to sea which, lying empty for long, was filled with waters.


After Ganga emerged on the earth, her banks were penance-doers' most favoured resort. Pratipa, a king of Lunar Dynasty, was childless. As advised by holy men for a son he immersed in deep rigorous penance on Ganga's bank. He had on his face exceptional glow which had not diminished even after his long penance. One day Ganga saw him and fell in love with him. A young maiden with rare beauty, Ganga emerged from her waves, came to where king Pratipa was seated and sat on his right, asking him to accept her as his wife. Fixed into 'Dharma' - righteousness, the king declined her proposal. He told that she chose his right thigh, a children's place, not wife's; the wife's place was left thigh. He, however, accepted her for his son who would marry her after he was born. Ganga then disclosed her identity and agreed to marry his son but on the condition that she would do whatever she liked and his son would not say a word against it, as also that the moment he opposed her for anything, she would desert him. Pratipa accepted her condition.
When Pratipa was close to old age, a son was born to him. The son was no other than Mahabhisha whom Brahma had expelled from Vaikuntha for his impertinence providing that he would marry Ganga when she descended on the earth. Born of penance the child had strange quiescence enshrining his face. Hence, the child was named Shantanu - one who is calm and composed. When Shantanu was young, Pratipa crowned him as the heir-apparent. Before he retired to forest, he called Shantanu and told him that a celestial maid would come to him with the proposal of marriage. He should marry her. He also told that she would do things that he would not like but he should not object to any. One day, after Pratipa had retired to forest and Shantanu became the king, he went to Ganga's banks for hunting. Suddenly a young woman with exceptional beauty came to him and wished to marry him. As commanded by his father Shantanu married her.
Ganga had married Shantanu for a purpose. As promised, she had to absolve Ashtavasus of their curse. Within a year she bore seven sons, one by one, and threw each one into her waters. These were seven of the Ashtavasus she had promised to absolve by ending their lives soon after they were born. When the eighth child was born and Ganga set forth for throwing him into the river, Shantanu broke his pledge, censored Ganga and insisted to give him the child. As ordained, on his breaking the pledge Ganga deserted him and disappeared with the child. After thirty-six years Shantanu was one day hunting around the Ganga's banks. He felt that Ganga did not have the usual sound that her mighty flow produced. He went close to the river and was amazed to see that by his arrows a boy had stopped the river's entire stream and downwards she stood completely dry. When yet to collect himself, a celestial woman appeared. She was no other than Ganga. She disclosed that the boy was his own son she had brought up with the help of sage Vashishtha who had taught him archery. With this Ganga gave the boy to Shantanu along with all divine weapons that he had mastered and disappeared. The boy was named Devavrata, popularly known by the name of Bhishma, the great hero of the Mahabharata and the grandpa of both, Pandavas or Kauravas.



Bhishma's thirst is quenched
Bhishma's thirst is quenched
A detached Ganga had given birth to Devavrata for keeping her words she had given to Ashtavasus but in thirty-six years' time when he was with her Ganga had developed great affection for him. It was further deepened by her son's noble deeds: his pledge not to ever marry for his father's happiness, forego his claim to throne, his adherence to righteousness, his loyalty to the throne of Hastinapur beyond his personal feelings, and much more. Hence a loving mother, Ganga was always protective to her son and watched his life with a mother's concern. For plotting against him she even fought with Amba, the daughter of the king of Kashi, frustrated in love for the failure of which she considered Bhishma responsible. Towards the end of his life, when hit by Arjuna's arrows Bhishma lay on the bed of arrows awaiting the sun to move to Uttarayana - auspicious period for relinquishing 'prana' - life, Ganga sent to Bhishma sages doing penance on her banks, in their transform as geese, for blessing him in her behalf. Ganga herself appeared to quench her son's thirst when he asked for water and Arjuna pierced the earth by his arrow for draining it. With 'Bana' - arrow, being the source of her emergence, texts name this transform of Ganga as Banaganga.
Bhishma was bound to the throne of Hastinapur and thereby to Kauravas but in his heart he loved Pandavas, Arjuna in particular. As reveals in a number of episodes in the Mahabharata, the son's inclination was also the mother's. This reflects in Ganga's protective treatment of Pandavas to which those inhabiting her, Nagas - her essential components in particular, were also a part. During his exile one day when Arjuna went to Ganga for a bath, Ulupi, a Naga-kanya - mermaid, fell in love with him. Before Arjuna left, after staying with her in Ganga's bottom - Ulupi's abode, for a night, Ulupi pronounced that no aquatic creature would ever harm him and all those born of water would be under him. With designs to kill Bhima, the mighty Pandava, Kaurava prince Duryodhana invited Pandavas to a garden on Ganga's banks under the pretext of water-sports. When with the effect of drug administered to them Pandavas swooned, Duryodhana got Bhima's hands and legs roped and threw him into Ganga. But instead of killing him Ganga conducted him to her bottom which Vasuki, the king of Nagas - serpents, inhabited with his Nagas. Vasuki not only recognized Bhima but also welcomed him and gave him ambrosia to drink which redeemed him of his swoon and gave him timeless youth.
Map of River Ganga
Map of River Ganga
For giving birth to a mighty son like Bhishma, and for being instrumental in the birth of Karttikeya, the Commander-in-Chief of gods, Ganga is often revered as Vira-mata, the mother of brave and mighty sons. A strange co-incidence, one of her two sons Bhishma chose death when lying on the bed of Sharas - arrows, while the other, Karttikeya chose the bed of Sharas - grove of reeds, to be born on. Texts have called Ganga Nadi-matrika, the river-mother, for not a mere stream, with her bounties Ganga feeds many crores of people covering about one-third of the Indian subcontinent irrigating around one million kilometers of area. In many early sculptures dating back to the second century A. D., of Satavahanas from Amaravati and of Kushanas from Mathura, Ganga has been represented mostly as Nadi-matrika. Whatever her personality as a goddess, or wife, if the great river were a woman, as she essentially was and is, bounteous Ganga, the giver of food, water and refuge to every self, is the motherhood incarnate, the most accomplished aspect of womanhood.


'Tri' - 'three', has strange co-relation with Ganga. As river, from the north she flows southwards, then she takes an eastward turn, and finally before joining the sea, turns again to south - a 'Tri-bhanga' or three-curved form. Mythically she has her origin in Vaikuntha, then through celestial region falls on the earth and then proceeds to nether world where the ashes of Bhagiratha's ancestors lay. Thus, traversing all three worlds she is 'Tripathaga'. With a touch of Vishnu's feet simple water of Brahma's 'kamandala' expands into a mighty stream which Shiva bears on his head when it descends and then releases. Later, sage Jahnu does the same. Thus born of threes sources, Vishnu's feet, Shiva's coiffure and sage Jahnu's ear, Ganga is said to be 'Trisrota'. At Allahabad, she is joined by Yamuna and the unmanifest Saraswati and becomes known as Triveni - confluence of three rivers.


Ganga, the river or the goddess, is the story of India's civilization and culture, of the rise and fall of mighty empires, great kings, proud cities, venerated institutions, industry and trade, and adventures and endeavours of man. She does not have any significant presence in the Rig-Veda or rather in texts prior to the Ramayana and the Mahabharata, though the role and the decisive personality that she has in the epics suggest that Ganga might have taken a considerable period of time to attain such mythical status, in hierarchy and in mythical geography. Significantly, once she makes a debut, her presence floods all creative domains - literature, architecture, sculpture and coins. The renowned second century Sanskrit poet Kalidasa has lauded Ganga in almost all his works, Raghuvansha, Meghaduta and Kumarasambhava in special. In sculptures also, she begins appearing from second century. A number of Satavahana and Kushana sculptures, both from the second century A. D., are found representing Ganga in her Nadi-matrika manifestations.
Gangaikonda Chola Puram
Gangaikonda Chola Puram
Ganga's crocodile-riding reliefs on door-jambs had become an essential component of temple-architecture from fourth-fifth century itself. This status of Ganga as the guardian deity was ever since unsurpassed. Temples built by all major building dynasties, the great Guptas, early and late Western and Eastern Chalukyas, Gurjara-Pratihara, Pallava, Pala, Sena, Vakataka, Rashtrakuta, Pandya, Hoyshala, Chola among others covering, besides India, also Nepal, Java and Bangladesh, have on their doorjambs statues of Ganga and Yamuna as their guardian deities. The Chola king Rajendra not only have images of Ganga on the doorjambs of his Shiva temple named Gangaikondacholapuram but also built a tank named Cholaganga and fetched a lot of Ganga-water for filling it. He is known to have invaded subcontinent's northern part and the defeated kings were required to pay him the tribute only in the form of Ganga-water to fill Cholaganga.



Vaikuntha Purana
Prachina Chritra Kosha
C. Sivaramamurti: Ganga
P. C. Jain & Dr. Daljeet: Karttikeya, December, 2010, Exoticindia.com
Balasubrahmaniam: Early Chola Temples
Barret, Douglas E.: Sculptures from Amaravati in the British Museum, London
Hopkins, E. W.: Epic Mythology

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  35. ISKCON News.com: ISKCON Devotees Join UK Food Relief Program
  36. Toronto Sankirtan Team, CA: 2010 Marathon Flashback
  37. ISKCON News.com: Followers Leading the Way
  38. H.H. Sivarama Swami: A lady I will not name asks whether the wife is always meant to follow the husband even if he asks her for “subtle” sex despite having taken vows
  39. ISKCON News.com: Invitation to the Divine Name Retreat by Sacinandana Swami
  40. ISKCON News.com: The Holy Grails of Krishna Conscious Thought
  41. Mayapur Online: "Nectar of Srimad-Bhagavatam" launched
  42. Vraja Kishor, JP: The World’s Best Religion
  43. Dandavats.com: The glories of the Holy Name - video
  44. Gouranga TV: Mitrasena Dasa kirtan
  45. Sri Nandanandana dasa: The Absolute Truth: What or Who is It, by Stephen Knapp
  46. More Recent Articles
  47. Search Planet ISKCON
  48. Prior Mailing Archive

ISKCON Melbourne, AU: Pre-Ratha Yatra Program


Very important notice for all the devotees participating in the Ratha Yatra tomorrow.

Attached is the Temple schedule that we are expected to follow to ensure that everything runs smoothly.

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Rupa Madhurya das, TX, USA: Lecture - Prahladananda Swami - SB 10.1.20 - Kalachandji study cards

Lecture on Srimad Bhagavatam, Canto 10, Chapter 1, Text 20, titled "Kalachandji study cards" by Prahladananda Swami.

Dallas, TX

Srimad Bhagavatam 10.1.20

tatra gatva jagannatham
deva-devam vrishakapim
purusham purusha-suktena
upatasthe samahitah


After reaching the shore of the ocean of milk, the demigods worshiped the Supreme Personality of Godhead, Lord Vishnu, the master of the whole universe, the supreme God of all gods, who provides for everyone and diminishes everyone's suffering. With great attention, they worshiped Lord Vishnu, who lies on the ocean of milk, by reciting the Vedic mantras known as the Purusha-sukta.


The demigods, such as Lord Brahma, Lord Siva, King Indra, Candra and Surya, are all subordinate to the Supreme Personality of Godhead. Aside from the demigods, even in human society there are many influential personalities supervising various businesses or establishments. Lord Vishnu, however, is the God of gods (paramesvara). He is parama-purusha, the Supreme Being, Paramatma. As confirmed in the Brahma-samhita (5.1), isvarah paramah krishnah sac-cid-ananda-vigrahah: "Krishna, known as Govinda, is the supreme controller. He has an eternal, blissful, spiritual body." No one is equal to or greater than the Supreme Personality of Godhead, and therefore He is described here by many words: jagannatha, deva-deva, vrishakapi and purusha. The supremacy of Lord Vishnu is also confirmed in Bhagavad-gita (10.12) in this statement by Arjuna:

param brahma param dhama
pavitram paramam bhavan
purusham sasvatam divyam
adi-devam ajam vibhum

"You are the Supreme Brahman, the ultimate, the supreme abode and purifier, the Absolute Truth and the eternal divine person. You are the primal God, transcendental and original, and You are the unborn and all-pervading beauty." Krishna is adi-purusha, the original Personality of Godhead (govindam adi-purusham tam aham bhajami **). Vishnu is a plenary expansion of Lord Krishna, and all the vishnu-tattvas are paramesvara, deva-deva.

Download: 2010-12-13a - Prahladananda Swami - SB 10.1.20 - Kalachandji study cards.mp3
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H.G. Sankarshan das Adhikari, USA: Saturday 12 February 2011--The World Needs an Abundance of Messiahs--and--Why Was I Not Attracted Earlier?

A daily broadcast of the Ultimate Self Realization Course(tm) Saturday 12 February 2011 The Supreme Personality of Godhead, Lord Sri Krishna, and His eternal consort, Srimati Radharani are enjoying transcendental pastimes in the topmost planet of the spiritual world, Sri Goloka Vrindavan. They are beckoning us to rejoin them. Our Mission: To help everyone awaken their original Krishna consciousness, which is eternal, full of knowledge and full of bliss. Such a global awakening will, in one stroke, solve all the problems of the world society bringing in a new era of unprecedented peace and prosperity for all. May that day, which the world so desperately needs, come very soon. We request you to participate in this mission by reviving your dormant Krishna consciousness and assisting us in spreading this science all over the world. Dedicated with love to ISKCON Founder-Acharya: His Divine Grace A.C. Bhaktivedanta Swami Prabhupada, our beloved spiritual master, and to you, our dear readers. Today's Thought: The World Needs an Abundance of Messiahs Uploaded from Bhaktivedanta Ashram--Austin, Texas USA A messiah is defined in the dictionary as someone who is a savior or liberator. There are many concepts of liberation in this world. People seek to be liberated from poverty, from disease, from political oppression, etc. But what most people fail to realize is that the only true liberation is liberation from death. Unless one is liberated from death he remains a slave. Although a person may think that he is free, death will come and take away everything. Therefore the true messiah or liberator is that person who liberates others from death. How do that? Anyone who surrenders fully unto the Supreme Lord Sri Krishna becomes liberated from death and then liberates others by making them Krishna conscious also. Srila Prabhupada stated in Mumbai, India on April 15, 1977 that anyone who is Krishna conscious is the messiah. What the world needs now more than ever is an abundance of such real messiahs who deliver people from the clutches of death by enlightening them in the science of Krishna consciousness. Sankarshan Das Adhikari His Holiness Vishnujana Swami Liberated Many Souls From Death http://www.backtohome.com/images/Visnujana_Swami.jpg Answers According to the Vedic Version: Question: Why Was I Not Attracted Earlier? Namaste, Gurudeva. If Krishna is so attractive, then why did I spend sixty years of miserable life before getting attracted to Him? Your disciple, Raju Answer: You Were Attracted by Krishna's Maya You have always been attracted to Krishna. Previously you were attracted by the glare of His material energy. Now you have been blessed with the understanding that there is something better than birth, death, old age, and disease. Therefore you have now become attracted directly to Him, who is the source of the material energy. Just see how fortunate you are! Now take complete advantage of this greatest good fortune by fully taking shelter of His divine lotus feet. By such attraction you will be delivered back to His eternal abode at the time of death. Sankarshan Das Adhikari Transcendental Resources: Receive the Special Blessings of Krishna Now you too can render the greatest service to the suffering humanity and attract the all-auspicious blessings of Lord Sri Krishna upon yourself and your family by assisting our mission. Lectures and Kirtans in Audio and Video: Link to High Definition Videos Link to Over 1,000 Lecture Audios Lecture-Travel Schedule for 2011 http://www.ultimateselfrealization.com/schedule Have Questions or Need Further Guidance? Check out the resources at: http://www.ultimateselfrealization.com or write Sankarshan Das Adhikari at: sda@backtohome.com Get your copy today of the world's greatest self-realization guide book, Bhagavad-gita As It Is available at: http://www.ultimateselfrealization.com/store Know someone who could benefit from this? Forward it to them. Searchable archives of all of course material: http://www.sda-archives.com Receive Thought for the Day as an RSS feed: http://www.backtohome.com/rss.htm Unsubscribe or change your email address Follow us on Twitter: http://twitter.com/Daily_Thought Copyright 2005-2011 by Ultimate Self Realization.Com Distribution of this material is encouraged. Simply we request you to acknowledge where it is coming from with a link to our sign up page: http://www.backtohome.com Our records indicate that at requested to be enrolled to receive e-mails from the Ultimate Self Realization Course at: This request was made on: From the following IP address: 

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H.H. Satsvarupa das Goswami: 218

www.sdgonline.org. SDGonline Daily updates

Every Day, Just Write Volume I: Welcome Home to the One Big Book of Your Life

I am presently writing an autobiographical project. Because I cannot write it fast enough, I am not posting it daily. Instead I am posting a book called
Every Day, Just Write. Ten years ago I wrote a book by that name. But it was heavily edited. What I am posting now is an unedited version, and it is very different than the edited edition, so I think it will be enjoyable to my readers.]

November 20, 1996

3:40 A.M.

I don’t like to disappoint readers by always complaining or by too much writing that I am not able to write, by too much “gremlin-fighting” that I’m no good. You get the impression that this writer is never able to write but always talks about it. What am I to do? If I write the truth now (yes, I mean the truth aside from the Absolute Truth, which I also do write down from the sastra but which I’m struggling to realize). Param-satyam.

I have to say it again and again. At least I as a reader don’t mind, provided it is real. I am grieving somewhat inside, a spiritual, authorial bleeding. You mean because you haven’t chosen a more structured form, and because you think what you are writing can’t be published? Let me tell you, it could very well be published in one form or another as selected writings. Then we come to have faith in the process. For example, over these months I have been gradually developing the style of abbreviated words and longer sentences, dropping articles and using commas to keep going. This is all writing development and can be used when you do hit upon more of a structure. Freer writing to convey art-prose for devotees to read. We will have the best.

I’m sorry I can’t do something more ordered, but that will come. Climbing this mountain as it appears before us. Can’t change the shape of it. Grip your hobnail shoes onto the rock surface, your pick onto rock-face, and go up and up.

Hare Krishna. By His grace you can be lifted.

Yesterday I thought of stopping this diary in favor of a memory project. But it seemed too self-centered, too much depending on memories of my life in ISKCON, and I couldn’t feel impelled to do it—whereas this daily meeting of what comes is more unavoidable. It’s here, and I must care for it or die, yes? Recalling the past doesn’t seem as important. Besides, I will do it at the end of December in a week with a partner in live sessions. I mentioned that the diary was going to be sacrificed. That thought came. The hatchet. Now we are back to faithful talks with one another. But it isn’t easy. Step-by-step.

You feel confined by the repetitions of the same subjects: waiting for the mail to come, the weather. (But I’m not really tired of reporting. And don’t be worried that “somebody” won’t like to read it.) Of course they won’t like it. Remember Rksaraja writing that he wearied of me complaining of my lack of spiritual advancement and my lack of triumphs, so he went to another guru. They won’t stick with you. Those who do read what you have to say, starting with myself, want you to just open up. They give me assurances, just open up and write with abandon, write from your heart. But if they say that, then they cannot demand that it have a certain heart shape. Open and write a perfect novel or essay. No. If I open up, it’s just a little talk, then that’s the open. Please accept it.
You’ve got your little thing. You got your life of K.C. Got two hours and got more right now to do things. I admit it. I will look a little at the Manah-siksa. But nothing works out so well. Just a little at a time is all I can take. So much depends upon reading under the lamp (the book 47 Ways to Stop Headache Pains says fluorescent bulbs are not good for you), so I read and I think I should not read too much. Ask M. to read to you. The thing is to stay out of fiction. But unless you enter fiction you can’t expand. Also I stay out of the formal essay, but devotees normally read preaching in that form. You can make a book of chapters on the topic of celibacy, or chanting, the things that would cheer people up. They would say, “He’s spending his time well as a writer. For this he can neglect other services. But not that diary-in-the-shed stuff.”

Manah-siksa, Kerouac letters, what a mixture. You read J.K. letters just before going to bed, and J.K. was in a dream. He was trying to cultivate friends but didn’t do so well. Could you have dreamt of Krishna as God? You are to clear the decks for that action, but you say I can be helped by reading what authors write and think. Maybe this is all right, maybe without knowing it this is the best thing.

It hurts, it hurts. The chairs, the merry. The Irish singers. I said, “What progress are you making in writing KC lyrics to Irish tunes? Can we have a Christmas concert?” Aniruddha said, “Yes, there will be one.” Then Krishna-katha from Belfast came by on business, and he saw our van. They weren’t supposed to know that I have returned. What do you expect, folks to come out demanding you to lecture? We can see you come and go to the shed. That’s all I do. And when karttika stops . . . but on the weekend, or one day a week, I promised a meeting. What can you give them in a meeting? I can read more C.c. or come up with some other topic. Some of the devotees have been practicing Krishna consciousness for almost twenty years. In class the other day I forgot the name of the great devotee who attained perfection by prayers. I said, “Prthu?” One of the non-scholarly mothers, who has two kids, said, “Ambarisa Maharaja.” She is a person much junior to me. So they can read the books as well as I can. Then what do you have to offer when you call for a disciple’s meeting? Prepare something in advance, something worth taking up their time.

Say, “Folks, let us chant Hare Krishna. Folks, let us discuss the spiritual master and the disciple. Let us discuss a book like Vidagdha-madhava or Ujjvala-nilamani. Folks, let us talk of fall down and rise up.”

Right now I can’t think of what I have to give them flowingly. You play the role of the mentor, but when you get down to it you don’t have something they haven’t heard of. They are submissive, you fool. Tell them something from which we can all benefit.

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H.H. Satsvarupa das Goswami: Poem, February 11th

www.sdgonline.org. SDGonline Daily updates

Winter who spring shall
kill is still with us. The
neighbor said, “It is like spring.”
And Bala said, “That’s called
daydreaming” because it’s only February 11,
and there shall be many days
of snow and ice still, dirty snow
piled up and ice piled up on
the roadside. It doesn’t go away.
I asked him will we have
a program for Gaura-Purnima?
He said, “I don’t know.” He
said, “Do you want one?”
“Yes I do,” I said. It falls
on Saturday, March 16th
the birthday appearance of
Caitanya Mahaprabhu.
Why not at least some
singing and
a little talk
and prasadam? It
doesn’t matter if
the snow is still here, we
could observe His
birthday, the Immortal

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Bhakta Chuck, CT, USA: Friday Night Oxen #43

Hello Everyone,

…multi-team hitches…

Click to view slideshow.

There’s no question about it, when there was heavy work to be done, multiple teams of Oxen were called upon for the task. Hitching multiple teams together helped to distribute huge loads, resulting in longer periods of work and less stress on the individual animals. As you view the slideshow, you can truly see the massive amounts of work that these Oxen where expected to do. Most of these pictures are from the second half of the 19th century, in and around the lumber camps and quarries. I suspect that these growing industries were financially lucrative enough to bring to bear the kind of resources to sustain such large teams.

Next is a very nice video, posted by FNO friend Ralph on youtube, of plowing and disc harrowing with multiple teams. Often, the largest, strongest and best trained pairs were used as the lead team, as less dominant Oxen, being herd animals, will more easily complete their task by following behind a strong leader.

Have a nice weekend, in service to the Oxen,
ys, Chuck 
Hare Kṛṣṇa Hare Kṛṣṇa Kṛṣṇa Kṛṣṇa Hare Hare
Hare Rāma Hare Rāma Rāma Rāma Hare Hare

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Akrura das, Gita Coaching: THE POWER OF GIVING

Giving is powerful. Many
people will attempt to prevent you
from taking, yet no one can stop you from giving as much as
you wish.

Give, and
you increase the value that flows through your
life. Give of yourself, and you make yourself stronger.

Every time you
interact with someone else, you have the
opportunity to give that person some kind of value. Whether
it is a thing,
or a thought, a gesture or a kind word, the
most powerful gifts are those that come straight from the

will appreciate your gifts and some will not, but that
is not the point. For it is the sincere act of giving, not
the gift is received, that brings value and goodness to
your world.

As you give more and more, you have more to give.
As the joy
of giving flows out from you, new richness fills your life.

Each moment is an opportunity to engage the
loving power of giving. Give your best and you'll get even

Ralph Marston

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Krishna Lounge, LA, USA: Kirtan FEB 10 2011

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ISKCON Melbourne, AU: Lord Jagannatha's Come-Back...


Have you heard the talk of the village?
At least the talk of the Vedic Village?
It is Ratha Yatra tomorrow dear friends!

Final reminder for all of us to welcome and greet Lord Jagannatha, Baladeva and Subhadra Mayi out of Their temple on Their majestic parade by the esplanade.

The St Kilda Festival is THE event to attend. Here is the program for the day.

If you want further information you can visit the Festival of the Chariots Facebook page for a more interactive forum.

Be there or be square!

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Krishna Lounge, LA, USA: Out of History & Into The Meaningful Future

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Krishna Lounge, LA, USA: On Desire, Buddhi, & Buddha

The purpose of the intelligence is to give us the discrimination needed to align ourself with the Absolute Truth. One who is Buddha, one whose intelligence is awoken, will see morality as that thing which is inline with the Absolute Truth. To learn about ones spiritual nature is imperative.


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ISKCON Melbourne, AU: Today's Darsana


We had a most fabulous darsana when the curtains opened this morning. Lively, vibrant colours to enliven the beginning of this weekend which promises to be phenomenal.

Please conserve these blissful snaps for tomorrow also as there is a big chance that we won't be able to upload the darsana on Sunday; we will be extremely busy with the numerous preparations for Lord Jagannatha's Ratha Yatra.

Well, that is another good reason to come down and see Lord Jagannatha and His royal entourage in Their full splendour at the St Kilda Festival.

So here is this weekend's darsana.

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Bharatavarsa.net: Bhakti Vikasa Swami: I don't want a Hindu temple

I don't want a Hindu temple. Our constitution is different. We want everyone. Krsna consciousness is for everyone. It is not a Hindu propaganda. People may not misunderstand.

>>> Ref. VedaBase => Meeting with Devotees -- June 9, 1969, New Vrindaban

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Mukunda Charan das, SA: A Blissful Day At The Bhaktivedanta Hospital

12 March 2001, Bhaktivedanta Hospital, Mumbai

I attended the Morning Programme at Radha-Giridhari Temple. Prahladananda Maharaja gave me a garland during Tulasi Arati. Savyasaci prabhu went to Mumbai to purchase some electronic equipment. I cleaned Prahladananda and Bhakti Vidya Purna Maharaja’s room. Prahladananda Maharaja said, ‘You are a good cleaner. A gentleman and a scholar.’ I served him breakfast. Then I performed my daily seva of washing the senior devotees’ cloth.

Lunch was ecstatic. I assisted Giriraja prabhu (one of the doctors at the Hospital) and Siksastakam prabhu (Radhanath Maharaja’s personal servant) with serving lunch to the sannyasis – Suhotra Maharaja, Prahladananda Maharaja, Bhakti Caitanya Maharaja, Niranjana Maharaja, Vaidhinatha prabhu and Radhanath Maharaja. I was told to serve Radhanath Maharaja separately (‘special prashada‘ for his health). Bhakti Vidya Purna Maharaja rebuked me when I served him, ‘When you serve with your wrist going that way, that is how you sere a dead man. Serve this way!’ He grabbed my wrist and showed me the correct way of serving. Giriraja prabhu disappeared. I was left alone to serve the waiting sannyasis.

The matajis sent me with the dal. Prahladananda Maharaja asked if that was the only preparation. I scurried off to the kitchen, bringing back chapatis and several other preparations. One of the preparations, some khichari, was for Radhanath Maharaja. This was the first time I had the opportunity to offer Maharaja some personal service. The meal ended with buttermilk (chaas) and the sannyasis gradually left their make-shift prashadam room.

Mother Nama Cintamani and another Mataji arrived from Juhu Temple with a bouquet for Bhakti Caitanya Maharaja from His Holiness Giriraja Swami. They also gave Niranjana Maharaja a bouquet and presented Bhakti Caitanya Maharaja with a garland from Radha-Rasabihari. They also gave the convalescent sannyasis some maha-prashadam from Rasabihari. They also had a garland, from Radharani’s hand, for His Holiness Radhanath Maharaja. They had also brought a beautiful vase of flowers and a card for Radhanath Maharaja from Giriraja Swami. Radhanath Maharaja was talking to his sannyasi godbrothers at the end of the hall. The devotees all offered obeisances when Maharaja stopped by the kitchen. Maharaja saw the garland that was intended for him and asked that it be sent to his room by someone. Dwarkadisha prabhu’s wife said I should take the garland down to his room, along with maha prashadam from Lord Gauranga.

Radhanath Maharaja was occupying a room in one of the wings of the hospital. He had given strict orders not to be disturbed – even by the doctors. Practically no-one could see him, unless he called for them. And here I was, following Maharaja down the passage with garlands in both hands. Maharaja seemed shy. I think he could sense my nervousness. He pressed the keys on the combination lock and pulled the latch in a dramatic manner…as if opening the door of a dungeon. KLUNK! He turned, half smiling half grinning. I got the feeling that Maharaja did not like being in the Hospital. I wasn’t sure what to do, so I offered Maharaja the garland. He asked me to put it on the shelf. I placed it next to another garland before pictures of Gaura-Nitai and Radha-Gopinath. The room was decorated with pictures of Varshana, Madan Mohana and Radha Kunda.

Maharaja opened his card from Giriraja Swami. He pushed his reading glasses to the front of his nose. ’Can you read this?’ he asked. ’Arjentaria’, I replied. He corrected me, ‘Carpentaria. That is where Giriraja Maharaja stays.’ I then gave Maharaja Radharani’s garland. Since there was no string to tie the garland, Maharaja wound it around my neck and said, ‘Be careful with that. There’s no string on it.’ I then presented Maharaja with Radha-Rasabihari’s maha prashada. Maharaja took a cake crumb and said, ‘You can have that.’ Maharaja placed his hand on my sikha, then embraced me. I held his arm. I felt there was hope in my life. Maharaja asked, ‘Who brought these things?’ I told him that some disciples of Giriraja Swami, matajis from Juhu Temple, had brought them. He said, ‘Please call them here. I would like to thank them.’ I looked everywhere for them. I even made several announcements on the Hospital intercom. I eventually found them in the canteen.

The matajis were delighted to have Maharaja’s darshan. Maharaja was curious to know how Giriraja Swami knew he was in hospital. The ladies expressed their appreciation for association of Mother Yamuna, Mother Malati and Mother Vishaka at the Pune Yatra. Maharaja mentioned that Mother Yamuna wanted to write a book about the early days of ISKCON with Srila Prabhupada. He mentioned that she wanted to stop, however, because she felt unqualified. Maharaja then cited the example of Krishnadas Kaviraja Maharaja who wrote the Caitanya Caritamrita at the provocation of the other devotees. Maharaja then said, ‘To feel unfit. This is Vaisnava.’ The ladies left.

Maharaja said he would not meet me today as he had spoken so much already. I offered him my obeisances. Maharaja graciously said, ‘Thank you for your good service.’ I took his leave, marvelling at my good fortune. Krishna had fulfilled my desire to offer Maharaja a garland. And I had gotten my first opportunity to render personal service to him.

In the evening, I served prashadam to the sadhus with Giriraja prabhu. This time there were no complaints. I went down to the laundry with Satyavaan (one of the hospital-workers) to collect the sannyasis’ washing. I got back just in time to see the second half of Bhakti Caitanya Maharaja’s ‘Vrindavan Parikrama’ slide-show. Radhanath Maharaja smiled blissfully as he watched the slide-show. The evening ended with a brief kirtan by Niranjana Maharaja. All in all, it was a blissful day.

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H.H. Prahladananda Swami: Photos–Ujjain Guru Seminar Oct 11th 2009

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photos by Subhananda das BCS

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H.H. Prahladananda Swami: Photos–Ujjain Guru seminar Oct 7th 2009

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Taken by Subhananda Das BCS

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H.H. Prahladananda Swami: Photos–Ujjain Guru Seminar Oct 6th 2009

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photos by Subhananda Das BCS

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Japa Group: Please Join The Japa Group

Please share your realisations with other devotees from around the world...simply send me an introduction email and I will be happy to make you a member:



Rasa Rasika dasa

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Srila Prabhupada's Letters

1966 February 11:
"Today the following letters were posted:
The Morning Telegram
The Times Mirror Co.
NBC Radio Station Master
WOR Radio Station Master
WNYC Radio Station Master

There was no response to Hari Kirtan this evening but I alone executed the Kirtan ceremony with my tape recorder till 10 pm."
Prabhupada Journal :: 1966

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Srila Prabhupada's Letters

1967 February 11: "This evening we had very successful performance of Kirtana and discourses at the Himalayan Academy. I think our popularity in this part of the country is increasing. Arrange for such Kirtana programs in New York. Wherever we get opportunities we must perform such Kirtana."
Prabhupada Letters :: 1967

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Srila Prabhupada's Letters

1967 January 11: "I wish that each and every Branch shall keep their independent identity and cooperate by keeping the Acarya in the centre. On this principle we can open any number of Branches all over the world."
Prabhupada Letters :: 1967

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Srila Prabhupada's Letters

1967 February 11: "In April 1967 there will be a great World Exposition and millions of people will gather there from all parts of the world. We have to prepare literatures and we have to draw the attention of the university students as our members."
Prabhupada Letters :: 1967

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Srila Prabhupada's Letters

1967 February 11: "As you are feeling my absence so I am feeling for you. But we are all happy on account of Krishna Consciousness either here or there. May Krishna join us always in His transcendental service."
Prabhupada Letters :: 1967

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Srila Prabhupada's Letters

1970 February 11: "Sankirtana is our life and soul, and if we execute this transcendental business in all earnestness, then there will be no difficulty in any way. We should not pray to Krishna anything except to ask to engage in His service. If we are engaged in His service then automatically everything will be revealed."
Prabhupada Letters :: 1970

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Srila Prabhupada's Letters

1970 February 11: "I can follow that Visnujana is very much needed in London but he is much needed in Los Angeles also. The majority of advanced students are in London, so why they should be lacking to train and enthuse the new brahmacaris?"
Prabhupada Letters :: 1970

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Srila Prabhupada's Letters

1973 February 11: "Go out for street sankirtana and distribute my literature for the cripple minded masses. Whatever you do should be done with wholehearted enthusiasm and strict adherence to chanting sixteen rounds and following the four basic principles."
Prabhupada Letters :: 1973

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Madhava Ghosh dasa, New Vrndavan, USA: Here, Now?

by Nimai Pandit

Filed under: Jokes  
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H.H. Satsvarupa das Goswami: Poem–February 10, 2011

www.sdgonline.org. SDGonline Daily updates

They are saying the weather
will be warmer this weekend,
in the 40’s, too warm for
snow. He massaged my body
expertly as he learned at the Lotus
Palm School. And when it was
done I had a headache, and my
neck was out of place.

“This sort of thing happens.”
Krishna dictates the course of
events, and I joined my friends
for a Mexican meal. It is
up to Him what happens, and
I trail behind with little
comments of faith. In the future
you could starve to death. He said
it is the least painful way to
go. But I said what about
Procarbazine[?], that could make
your hair fall out but then
bring you back to normal life.
He said he wouldn’t do it.
I said I would.

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New Vrindavan, USA: Nityananda Trayodasi: App. of Sri Nityananda Prabhu

Lord Nityanada Mahaprabhu

On February 16th is Nityananda Trayodasi - the appearance day of Lord Nityananda. Lord Nityananda Prabhu appeared as Lord Chaitanya’s principal associate for spreading the congregational chanting of the holy names of God. He especially spread the holy names of Krishna throughout Bengal. He is considered an incarnation of Lord Balarama, Krishna’s elder brother.

Nityananda Prabhu appeared in the village of Ekachakra, in West Bengal, India, around 1474. In the Caitanya Caritamrita and other scriptures He is declared to be the avatar of Lord Balarama, the direct expansion of the Supreme Personality of Godhead, Krishna.

As a child He was called Nitai and had a close circle of friends. Together they used to imitate the pastimes of Krishna and His associates. All the adults of Ekachakra were fascinated by this unique little boy, and they loved Him as their own. Seeing His total absorption in Krishna and the avatars of Vishnu, they suspected that He might be some sort of incarnation Himself. He was relentless, day after day enacting a different pastime, and did it so skillfully that His neighbors wondered, “How is it that He is so talented? How does He know the stories so well? No one has explained all these details to Him.” On one occasion, one of the boys dressed as Akrura and took Krishna and Balarama away from Vrindavana on the order of Kamsa. Nitai cried in grief, feeling the separation of the cowherd girls who loved Krishna with their whole being. Tears of love flowed from His eyes. His acting was so authentic that it made all who watched question whether He was merely acting or in some way experiencing the part He played. This was true whether He was playing Krishna, Balarama, or even Vamana and other Incarnations of the Lord. When questioned, Nitai would respond: “They are My own divine pastimes, and I am allowing you to see them.”

Among His most convincing roles was that of Lakshmana, the brother of Rama, which intimated His divine identity as Balarama. For His first twelve years, Nityananda Prabhu stayed in Ekachakra and shared loving pastimes with His neighbors.

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Mayapur Online: Nityananda Trayodasi Festival in Ekachakra Dhama

Devotees from Sri Ekachakra dhama, Lord Nityananda’s birthplace are happy to invite worldwide devotees for Nityananda Trayodasi festival, to celebrate the appearance of Sri Nityananda Prabhu. This year, a grand three day celebration has been planned with nagar Sankirtan, parikrama, bhajan, lectures on pastimes of Nityananda Prabhu, drama and spiritual movie show, culminating with the santi yajna, maha Abhishek to Sri Gaura-Nitai on the Nityananda Trayodasi day.

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Madhava Ghosh dasa, New Vrndavan, USA: Pump Be Pumping

It was 18 degrees (-8 C) this morning at 11 am but the sun was bright and powerful causing the pump on my solar water heater to be doing its thing. Free hot water today.

Our normal high for today is 40 degrees (5 C) but we won’t be seeing a temperature above freezing until Saturday. Since the start of December we have had consistently colder than average weather. We have had some snow but mostly it has been pretty calm. We see reports of huge storms but they have been going north or south of us. It is actually going to be a dry winter if this keeps up, though we have had snow cover almost continuously.

A normal winter we get some snow then it melts, then we get some more. Even in January the January Thaw is normal, though this was the first year I can remember that we didn’t get one.

Actually, we never have normal weather — every year is different and rarely follows “average”. Averages are calculated over decades and hold pretty true but any individual year invariably varies from it.

Last fall for instance, we didn’t get a killing frost until the end of October with the average first frost being Oct 7th. Which was fine for all the greens and late stuff in the garden like Brussels sprouts but didn’t really help the tomatoes because once temperatures start going below 50 degrees (10 C) the compounds, one of which is called (Z)-3-dexenal, that give tomatoes their flavor degrade and they start tasting like store bought tomatoes. And it does get cool in October, even if it doesn’t frost.

I like to plant rye on the beds after cleaning them up but until the tomato plants frost they are still full of moisture and hard to deal with. Once they frost they dry down and become brittle so it is easier to get them out of the cages I use for support and not so heavy to carry.

By the time I got the cages cleared off and the beds rototilled so I could plant the rye, it was well into November which usually is fine but then December came in cold and hard, the 11th coldest on record, and with snow cover so I don’t know how well established the rye got, it seemed like it was just sprouting out of the ground so I don’t know how much biomass it will accumulate in those beds. Most of the beds I got in a little earlier and they look lush and green.

I spread compost and then plant the rye so fertilizing is out of the way for the spring. I till the rye in and that gives a lot of organic matter for the biotic life in the beds to chew on. As the saying goes, “Decaying organic matter is the engine that drives soil fertility.

I just got my seed order from Berlin Seeds, an Amish business nearby in Ohio. I got some buckwheat to use for green manure on empty beds for the summer and for next fall I got some of what they call N Vest Ground Breaker Plus, which is a mixture of Austrian winter peas, a deep tap rooted radish, and some forage turnips. These are all things that will do well late into the fall, with the peas accumulating nitrogen from the air. They winter kill but leave a lot of organic matter on the soil for cover and when the radishes decay the roots leave deep channels in the soil, ergo the “Groundbreaker” part of its name.

Or so they say. Sounds good in theory so will be interesting to see how it goes and the effect it will have on the 2012 garden.

Filed under: Cows and Environment  
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ISKCON News.com: ISKCON Kolkata Celebrates 40th Anniversary of Deity Installation

By ISKCON News Staff for ISKCON News on 11 Feb 2011

Between February 11 and 13, ISKCON Kolkata celebrates the 40th anniversary of the installation Sri Sri Radha Govinda at the Albert Road center. The deities will be offered a new altar made of teak wood and decorated with 24 carat gold.

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Subhavilasa das ACBSP, Toronto, CA: News Article: Hare Krishnas Explain Faith

Mohanasini Lightfoot dances to the Hare Krishna mantra. Students gathered on Feb. 2 for an Interfaith service.
The Magis Lounge was home to music, dancing, vegetarian food and a spiritual discussion lead by Hare Krishnas on Feb 2.

Hare Krishna is a branch of Hinduism that was founded in 1966 and based in traditional Hindu scriptures.

University Ministry interfaith coordinator Sam Bradley organized the visit by the New Orleans Hare Krishnas. The group is working in conjunction with the International Society for Krishna Consciousness, an organization that seeks to inform people about the religion.

Despite the fact that many of the students knew very little about the Hare Krishna devotees going into the event, discussion leader and Hare Krishna Darrell Martin said that he didn't find it hard to explain the ideal of his faith because of his Christian background.

"All of these philosophies are connected to the same path," said Martin, who converted from Christianity after a stint in the army in 1972.

Martin, whose spiritual name is Duibhudba, said during the discussion that he does not seek to convert members to become followers of Hare Krishna, but merely to open up people's mind to a new way of thinking. One part of the Hare Krishna philosophy that he wanted emphasize was the detachment from material goods. "Krishna consciousness is based upon the soul, not the body,"said Martin. Martin continued by explaining that this mindset was an important part of the realization that the soul was eternal.

In order to help introduce some of the concepts of Krishna spirituality, Martin helped lead the group in a musical celebration. Students in the Magis Lounge were encouraged to play various percussive instruments and chant a traditional Hindu mantra. Though many students felt uneasy at first, Bradley said it wasn't long before everyone felt comfortable.

"It was pretty energetic," Bradley said, when describing the atmosphere in the room. "At first they didn't know what to make of it, but after a while everyone got into it."

The rest of the article can be found at:
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Subhavilasa das ACBSP, Toronto, CA: Today is Bhismastami

Today marks the appearance of Bhismadeva.  

He was born Devavrata and was the heir-apparent to the throne. He gave up his heirship but also vowed to be celibate for life in order to not have any children that would dispute title to throne. This vow was made to the wary fisherman father of Satyavati, the maiden which the King Shantanu (Devavrata's father) wished to marry.   

Because Devavrata had sacrificed so much and taken such a solemn oath, it was decalred that henceforth he would be known by the name Bhisma. In additions the loving father, King Shantanu gave him a boon that Bhishma would die only when he wished. This boon has great significance as to when and how Bhisma leave his body at the end of the Mahabharata.

So today we can pay our respects to the great leader, warrior and celibate, Bhismadeva and honour his value of duty, truthfulness and cleanliness that Bhismadeva maintained to his last breath. Lord Krishna and the Pandavas did indeed pay this honour and respect to Bhismadeva even in the final days as Bhismadeva lay on a bed of arrows in the battlefield.  

May the code of truth and duty light our Krishna Conscious path.
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ISKCON News.com: ISKCON Devotees Join UK Food Relief Program

By ISKCON News Staff for chakra.org on 9 Feb 2011

For many years Hare Krishna Food for All, the Kingscross, UK prasad distribution team, has worked together with a local Catholic church to benefit the homeless community. Four days a week ISKCON devotees deliver cake and biscuits to a church in Camden, North London for 300 people.

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Toronto Sankirtan Team, CA: 2010 Marathon Flashback

Its been over a month since Prabhupada Marathon 2010 concluded but we are still feeling the after effects of the marathon! It was indeed a special time so we thought of sharing the video prepared by Keshav Prabhu for the Devotee Appreciation Day on January 8th.

Hope this brings back some wonderful memories and inspires us for a more special 2011!

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ISKCON News.com: Followers Leading the Way

By Sarah Coddington for Auckland Stuff on 10 Feb 2011

Professional soccer player John Howie gave it all up to pursue a life as a Hare Krishna. He is originally from Scotland and was playing for the Melbourne George Cross soccer team. He was so intrigued by the group that he became a vegetarian, following the Hare Krishna principal of karma and not harming a living animal.

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H.H. Sivarama Swami: A lady I will not name asks whether the wife is always meant to follow the husband even if he asks her for “subtle” sex despite having taken vows

A quote referred to in my answer “When a man and woman are married according to religious principles, there is no sin in their touching and talking with each other; rather, this touching and talking is beneficial because of the scriptural sanction. There is, however, no provision for illusory activities other than the execution of reciprocal duties. If they are illusioned by each other and they engage in activities other than prescribed duties, then that is called stri-sanga and purusa-sanga, or association with the opposite sex. For those who are engaged in worshiping Krsna, such association yields inauspicious results.” Bhaktyaloka

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ISKCON News.com: Invitation to the Divine Name Retreat by Sacinandana Swami

The Divine Names Retreat will be held from April 22nd-28th, 2011, in Radhadesh, Belgium. There will be an additional "Building the Retreat Culture through a Teacher Training Program," which will be held for one day, on April 29th.

If the selection above is hosted by YouTube then after the video plays there will be several links presented to other videos. ISKCON News Weekly has no control over the selections presented and is not responsible for their contents. 
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ISKCON News.com: The Holy Grails of Krishna Conscious Thought

By Keshava Krishna Das for ISKCON News on 11 Feb 2011

Where do the jivas come from? What is his svarupa? These highly intriguing questions are induced by an inbred curiosity befitting man’s on-going quest to wrestle with the inexplicable. Having not yet reached spiritual perfection – svarupa-siddhi – devotees too sometimes channel lively intellectual energies into affirming what could otherwise be, acintya – or inconceivable.

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Mayapur Online: "Nectar of Srimad-Bhagavatam" launched

In the late 1960s, while Srila Prabhupada was translating and commenting on his monumental edition of the Srimad-Bhagavatam, he conceived of writing a book which would contain the essential teachings of the Bhagavatam as he was not sure how long he would remain manifest on this planet. He then composed a summary study of the most celebrated portion of the Bhagavatam, the Tenth Canto, and entitled it Krsna, the Supreme Personality of Godhead. He often referred to it as the “Krsna book”.

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Vraja Kishor, JP: The World’s Best Religion

Bhagavad Gita 8.28


Photo from personal archive 2001

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Now we come to the final verse of the eighth chapter of the cream of all the Upanishads, the Gī topaṇiṣad, Bhagavad-Gita. Kṛṣṇa enunciates this verse as a recap, a summary of the theme he has developed since beginning to focus on the path of Bhakti-Yoga (the devotional path) in the beginning of Chapter Seven. So this one verse compresses all the wisdom of the entire 7th and 8th chapter. Please hear it with reverence and care!

vedeṣu yajñeṣu tapaḥsu caiva
̣u yat puṇya-phalaḿ pradiṣṭam
atyeti tat sarvam idaḿ viditvā

yogī paraḿ sthānam upaiti cādyam

Our Prabhupada translates:

A person who accepts the path of devotional service is not bereft of the results derived from studying the Vedas, performing austere sacrifices, giving charity or pursuing philosophical and fruitive activities. Simply by performing devotional service, he attains all these, and at the end he reaches the supreme eternal abode.

Before undertaking the honor of attempting to elucidate Prabhupada’s commentary on this verse, I beg your full attention for a few more minutes as I outline the overall meaning of this verse.

There are many paths to get to the absolute goal of self realization. Kṛṣṇa outlines the several most significant of these spiritual paths though the chapters of Bhagavad Gita. The path of devotion to Godhead, however, bhakti-yoga, holds a paramount place of importance. Bhakti yoga, perhaps, is not so much a “path” to self-realization as it is the actual vehicle of self realization. There are many roads I can take to get to the grocery store, but if I don’t have a vehicle, none of them will actually get me there. Similarly there are so many paths to get to God-realization / self-realization – but without the vehicle of bhakti (devotion), none of the paths are effective!

This is not a sectarian statement or an attempt to champion one form of spirituality over another so much as it is a reliable fact borne out by logical common sense.

  • Given: The absolute truth is infinite.
  • Given: Our current powers of perception and comprehension are not infinite, they are finite.
  • Conclusion 1: Therefore we cannot gain god-realization by our own powers.
  • Given: Nothing is beyond the limit of that which is infinite
  • Conclusion 2: Realization of god is possible, not by our own powers, but by the arrangement of the infinite only.

The final conclusion drawn from the above is that God can only be realized when s/he wants to be realized. When God wants to be realized, s/he makes the impossible possible and makes us capable of comprehending what is beyond finite comprehension.

The question might then be, “Why would God not want to be realized?”

The answer is simple and natural. You do not want to reveal your intimate secrets to a person you don’t trust. We reveal our intimate secrets only to those how love us sincerely and have our best intentions in mind.

It is not foolish to ascribe personal attributes and psychologies like this to the absolute. If such psychology did not exist in the absolute in some form it would not exist in us, who are separated parcels of the absolute. This is why many sources of wisdom say, “Know thyself, understand God.”

The main point is that realization of God is not possible without God’s willing revelation of his infinite being. God is willing, fully willing, eager actually, to reveal himself fully and intimately to us – and is simply waiting for us to be truly and purely interested in obtaining that full understanding of the Personality of Godhead, which arises as a result of developing love for Godhead.

Therefore it is the purest of logic to conclude in a most non-sectarian and unbiased manner that without bhakti (devotion, love for Godhead), no progress can be made whatsoever on any spiritual path. This is why elements of bhakti such as prayer and worship are integrated into other paths such as religion, philosophy, and yoga.

The most direct path to god-realization, then, is the one which focuses most purely and fully on cultivating love and devotion to Godhead. The terminology denoting this path is “bhakti-yoga.”

The question might now come up, “What then is the point of having any other spiritual path?”

The point is that not everyone, in fact relatively almost no one, is really ready to embrace Godhead so directly, purely and wholeheartedly as the path of bhakti-yoga enjoins. Therefore other paths are meant to prepare the greater bulk of the masses to gradually purify their selfish ego, the force which detracts from the interest in selfless divine love. The many paths of self-realization are meant to gradually qualify a person to take to the path of pure devotion, bhakti-yoga. After thousands of lifetimes of cultivating progress in ethics, morality, religion, science, philosophy, yoga, and strict meditation finally one takes a birth where one is able to directly embark upon the path of bhakti-yoga.

Another question may be, “If a person jumps to the path of bhakti too soon, will they then fail – lacking the pre-requisite qualifications required by first completing all the previous stages of spiritual paths?”

Kṛṣṇa speaks this verse to directly answer this question. He says,

What you get from studying philosophy,
From performing religious rituals,
From enduring rigorous austerities,
From giving in charity,
And even from being religious for mundane reasons…

The bhakti-yogi realizes all these results,
And surpasses them!
By attaining his or her supreme, original nature
In my own supreme abode.

In summary, every other spiritual path depends on the bhakti sprinkled into it’s mixture – but bhakti stands alone, a self-sufficient path requiring nothing outside herself.

This really is not just a summary of Chapters seven and eight, it is a summary of the whole Gita. And since the Gita is a summary of all the Upanishads, which are themselves summary elucidations of the entire Veda – this fact is actually a summary of the entire Veda.

Prabhupada’s Purport


Arjuna and Krishna as depicted on the 1980s co...

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Thank you so much for giving your full and careful attention to this flawed attempt of mine to express the meaning of the Verse. I would like to keep ahold of your thoughts for a few moments more, as we examine the commentary on this verse of Bhagavad Gita given by our Srila Prabhupada.

The first word in the verse is vedeṣu – “by studying the philosophy of the Veda.” Prabhupada elaborates on this path, and ascribes it to life’s first aśrama – the brahmacārī aśrama. He says:

One has to study the Vedas under the guidance of the spiritual master and undergo many austerities and penances while living under his care. A brahmacārī has to live in the home of the spiritual master just like a servant, and he must beg alms from door to door and bring them to the spiritual master. He takes food only under the master’s order, and if the master neglects to call the student for food that day, the student fasts. These are some of the Vedic principles for observing brahmacarya.

After the student studies the Vedas under the master for a period from five to twenty years, he may become a man of perfect character. Study of the Vedas is not meant for the recreation of armchair speculators, but for the formation of character.

Next, Prabhupada comments on the words yajñeṣu and dāneṣu – “by ritual and charity.” These are the primary spiritual paths meant for life’s second aśrama, ghastha aśrama:

After this training, the brahmacārī is allowed to enter into household life and marry. When he is a householder, he has to perform many sacrifices so that he may achieve further enlightenment. He must also give charity according to the country, time and candidate, discriminating among charity in goodness, in passion and in ignorance, as described in Bhagavad-gītā.

Next, Prabhupada comments on tapaḥsu – “by undergoing austerity.” This is the primary spiritual path for life’s third aśrama, vānaprastha aśrama:

Then after retiring from household life, upon accepting the order of vānaprastha, he undergoes severe penances — living in forests, dressing with tree bark, not shaving, etc.

By traversing all the aforementioned spiritual paths, one becomes fit to enter life’s fourth and final aśrama – the sannyāsa aśrama – which follows complete renunciation and cultivation of scientific philosophical understandings (jñāna-yoga).

By carrying out the orders of brahmacarya, householder life, vānaprastha and finally sannyāsa, one becomes elevated to the perfectional stage of life. Some are then elevated to the heavenly kingdoms, and when they become even more advanced they are liberated in the spiritual sky, either in the impersonal brahmajyoti or in the Vaikuṇṭha planets or Kṛṣṇaloka. This is the path outlined by Vedic literatures.

The sanyassi’s engage in the type of meditation and yoga outlined in the Sixth Chapter of Gita, and referred to again here in the Eighth. By this they can elevate themselves to various posts. This is a recap of what we have learned in this chapter.

One significant thing to learn here is that all of the paths of spiritual life are wrapped into the varnāśrama dharma social system. It is significant to understand that this social system is not important and not required for any person who can take wholeheartedly and directly to the spiritual practices of Bhakti Yoga. This social system is only important for individuals who cannot do so. Even individuals who can take directly to bhakti-sādhana may not be able to do so constantly throughout every stage and condition of their lives. At such times even a bhakti yogi may recourse to the second-tier of their spiritual lives and take shelter of this religious social system: varṇāśrama-dharma.

Our Prabhupada expresses this now, in what is one of my all-time favorite of his quotes:

The beauty of Kṛṣṇa consciousness, however, is that by one stroke, by engaging in devotional service, one can surpass all the rituals of the different orders of life.

By taking directly to loving Kṛṣṇa, one eliminates any need for any other method of spiritual progress. Thus for the devotees, there really is no such thing as castes and stations of varṇa and aśrama. This is why traditionally the bhakti-yogi in a realized state enters a lifestyle loosely called bābājī where he does not wear any caste designation like a sacred thread or any symbol of station such as the saffron of a sanyassi.

In modern times, since the predecessor of our Srila Prabhupada – HDG Bhaktisiddhanta Sarasvati Prabhupada – an alternative has arisen where the bhakti-yogi does adopt caste and station symbols – taking sacred thread and saffron/staff of sanyassa, etc. According to what I understand, this alteration to tradition was made for two valid reasons, (1) To counteract the misuse of the brahmana caste and the sanyassa ashrama by putting truly spiritual persons into these stations; and (2) in preparation for spreading Bhakti-Yoga to a worldwide venue, with very little previous development in the various preparatory spiritual paths – who would therefore often require support from a religious social backdrop.

Nevertheless, the designation of oneself as a “devotee” is far, far, far, far more important than the designation or non-designation one may adorn as a shudra, vaishya, kshatriya, brahmana, or brahmacari, grihastha, vanaprastha, or sannyasi. My personal conviction is that when this truth is not fully embraced, there is a distasteful distortion of priority and emphasis which infects the otherwise pristine bhakti-yoga movements in this world currently.

My śikṣa-guru Aindra Das “Babaji” was pressed to conform to the ISKCON “varnashrama-dharma” social norms and conventions. He completely resisted and refused. He refused to wear clothing designating any ashrama or varna, and when interrogated by social authority figures he declared himself to be “A brahma-astra vana-yassi” – Braha(cari),( Grih)astha, vana(prastha), (san)yassi.

This is one of the many reasons I love him and respect him as a guru.

My even more prominent śikṣa and dīkṣa guru, HH Dhanurdhara Swami, wears saffron, a sacred thread and is a brahmana and a sanyassi. However, I have not observed, ever, that he deeply identifies with any of these superficial designation to any level commensurate with his self-identity as a servant of his guru, Srila Prabhupada, on the path of unadulterated Bhakti Yoga.

In my humble opinion therefore, both approaches are honorable. But to deeply identify as something other than a devotee, even if it has a Sanskrit name, is a deep illusion.

Let’s return to Prabhupada’s commentary.

The words idaḿ viditvā indicate that one should understand the instructions given by Śrī Kṛṣṇa in this chapter and the Seventh Chapter of Bhagavad-gītā. One should try to understand these chapters not by scholarship or mental speculation but by hearing them in association with devotees. Chapters Seven through Twelve are the essence of Bhagavad-gītā. The first six and the last six chapters are like coverings for the middle six chapters, which are especially protected by the Lord. If one is fortunate enough to understand Bhagavad-gītā — especially these middle six chapters — in the association of devotees, then his life at once becomes glorified beyond all penances, sacrifices, charities, speculations, etc., for one can achieve all the results of these activities simply by Kṛṣṇa consciousness.

If I understand what the Gita is saying, I will become liberated as a bhakta. How to understand it? Not like a scholar pulling it apart as if he were superior to the knowledge, a laboratory teacher dissecting a lowly frog. No! I can only understand the Gita, which contains infinite wisdom, when the Gita itself reveals itself to me. Therefore only by studying the Gita with my heart wide open can I really know and absorb it’s meaning and impact.

What is the real meaning of Gita?

The real meaning is, the ultimate duty and nature of every living thing is to be absorbed in a loving relationship with Godhead. The Gita presents this message most directly in chapters 7-12, which are the central chapters. One keeps one’s most valuable possessions deep in his private quarters, surrounded by doors, walls and locks on all sides. Thus the primary message of the gita is protected in it’s middle chapters.

Finally, Prabhupada says:

One who has a little faith in Bhagavad-gītā should learn Bhagavad-gītā from a devotee, because in the beginning of the Fourth Chapter it is stated clearly that Bhagavad-gītā can be understood only by devotees; no one else can perfectly understand the purpose of Bhagavad-gītā. One should therefore learn Bhagavad-gītā from a devotee of Kṛṣṇa, not from mental speculators. This is a sign of faith. When one searches for a devotee and finally gets a devotee’s association one actually begins to study and understand Bhagavad-gītā. By advancement in the association of the devotee one is placed in devotional service, and this service dispels all one’s misgivings about Kṛṣṇa, or God, and Kṛṣṇa’s activities, form, pastimes, name and other features. After these misgivings have been perfectly cleared away, one becomes fixed in one’s study. Then one relishes the study of Bhagavad-gītā and attains the state of feeling always Kṛṣṇa conscious. In the advanced stage, one falls completely in love with Kṛṣṇa. This highest perfectional stage of life enables the devotee to be transferred to Kṛṣṇa’s abode in the spiritual sky, Goloka Vṛndāvana, where the devotee becomes eternally happy.

This is an enumeration of the nine stages of progress in bhakti yoga.

1. First one requires “faith” – which is an open heart.

2. Next one requires “Guidance” – so the open heart leads one to learn the path of bhakti – revealed in Bhagavada Gita and other places – under the guidance of those who are more experienced on that path.

3. “Practice” – Under guidance, we actually study the Gita and put it into practice.

4. “Purification” – as a result of this practice, all the obstacles which block self-realization begin to dissolve

5. “Fixation” – When the main bulk of our obstacles are dissolbed our study and practice of bhakti becomes very deep and sincere, it therefore becomes fixed and unshakable.

6. “Taste / Relish” – By studying and practicing bhakti with deep sincerity we relish great spiritual bliss.

7. “Addiction” – we desire to taste that bliss always and everywhere.

8. “Bhava”

9. “Prema” – in these two stages, “one falls completely in love with Kṛṣṇa.”

As a result, we attain the 10th stage, the goal, which is to be with Kṛṣṇa, face-to-face in his most intimate setting, Goloka Vrindavana.

This is the sum and substance of the Eighth Chapter, the entire Gita, all the Upanishads, all the Vedas, and thus the entire human pursuit of happiness. Thank you so much for entertaining my extremely long discussion on this verse.

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Dandavats.com: The glories of the Holy Name - video

By Parasuram das

In England we are not blessed with good weather, not blessed with a good football team, not blessed by religious culture, but we are blessed with great Harinams, and lots of Harinams. In London there are up to three Harinams daily. See you on the streets

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