Srimad Bhagavatam class by HH Indradyumna Swami in Australia, at the Iskcon Sri Sri Radha Gopinath Temple, 18-11-2017 (video)
Srimad Bhagavatam class by HH Indradyumna Swami in Australia, at the Iskcon Sri Sri Radha Gopinath Temple, 18-11-2017 (video)
Protect our rounds.
Kadamba Kanana Swami: Our purpose is fixed and we should not let obstructing circumstances to block us permanently. Somehow or other, we must find a way to fulfill our purpose which is to chant sixteen rounds and to follow four regulative principles. This is our first austerity, to chant these rounds and to follow the principles.
But we also need support. It is not just a matter of the right frame of mind. It is also a matter of favourable conditions so that it becomes feasible and possible. One must protect our rounds. One must put other undesirable things out of one’s life and then focus on our japa, otherwise it is not going to happen. One cannot just think, “I’ll see how far I get today,” then there is a good chance that it will not work. So chanting sixteen rounds is about making an arrangement to chant sixteen rounds. That planning is actually so important!
It is not all about the mood and getting absorbed. That comes after. If the arrangement is wrong then how can you get absorbed? First the arrangement has to be in place then stage two comes, “How to get absorbed?” I find that the one thing which helps me is to read a little bit. It is not that we just get up and are immediately in the mood, “Okay, let’s get these rounds done! I’m up so let me quickly get stuck in then it is over,”
That is one way of chanting but another way is where we say, “Okay, I’ll read for five or ten minutes.” And I read until I come across something that strikes me and then I start chanting and that gives me some energy to get into the mood. Then the mood starts happening. Like that there are impetuses. Ālambham is there, the impetuses in spiritual life that help us to awaken our attraction for Krsna.
Sutapa das: One of my fellow monks is an extremely prayerful person. He has regular stories of the reciprocation and interaction that comes from conversing with God. Though inspired, I personally find it difficult to pray. It usually feels unnatural and artificial; probably a combination of my impersonal character, hard-heartedness, lack of faith, and general life philosophy of “work hard and be practical.” Someone, however, recently offered me an interesting antidote – “pray for other people” they said. Whether a friend, family member, work colleague, or even a stranger you meet for the first time, just stop for a few moments and sincerely pray for something that will help them in their life. I began to try. Unconventional as it sounded, I could immediately appreciate the power of this approach on many levels:
Personal level – Rather than being critical, judgmental or aloof, we evolve into selfless agents of positive change. Since prayer invokes divine intervention, we are not simply observers of the world, but can make a difference, even to people we have very little physical contact with. In such moments of noble prayer, we rise beyond self-absorption and forget our own difficulties.
Relationship level – Taking the time to deeply contemplate someone’s life transforms our relationship with them. We learn to see beyond the external chaos, appreciating that everyone is a pure soul trying to break free from material entanglement. Prayer helps one to connect with people on a deeper level.
Social level – When a group of people form, each one sincerely wanting the others to excel, it creates a unique spiritual energy. That unity, fellowship and genuine warmth helps them to achieve their goals and transform the world. Prayer brings people together.
It reminded me of how Swami Prabhupada would sign off his correspondence with “your ever well-wisher.” His prayer was completely selfless; a natural consequence of his incredible compassion and concern for all. Saintly persons are said to feel another’s pain as their own (para dukha dukhi). Just as we spontaneously attend to any ailment in our body, they are spontaneously impelled to relieve the suffering of the general populace. Even if we fall short of that pure stage, we can still institute the process of selfless prayer as a vehicle to developing deeper sensitivity, which is so integral to spiritual advancement. After all, we find ourselves by thinking of others. Try it out this week – take a few quality moments to sincerely pray for the wellbeing of someone else. And if you’re finding it difficult to identify someone, you could always slip in a good word for this struggling soul. 🙂
Mothers and Kids.
It is an odd development of the modern world that being excessively anxious about our children is considered a virtue. We consider ourselves good parents if we make life easy for them, reward them for the smallest achievement, and are anxious for their safety and well being at all times.
There is, however, a hidden message in all of this anxious attention and it’s not good. As a teacher and school principal for 20 years, I saw all kinds of kids and all kinds of parents. For those who had confidence in their child, their child did great. Those who worried, who expressed that worry regularly, who tried to ‘fix’ every challenge the child had – their children had a weak sense of self. The hidden message was clear – “My parents are worried because they think I am not competent, I’m not capable.”
Being a mother is not easy. But it’s not that hard either. It is said that if a child has a self-assured and guiding adult in their life, they will grow up to be self-assured and self-guiding adults. Mothering means being there, but also not being there. It is patience, it is trusting that the child will figure it out, and it is watching from a distance as they do so.
There are many aspects to good mothering, but this one is key. We have to give our children the skills and emotional strength to make it through life by letting them experience and learn through real life. And that means letting them experience their own struggles. If we smother them, if we overly fret and protect, then we extinguish the fire of trust and competence. It’s a fine line, but we need to have the maturity and wisdom to make the call.
This famous poem can also inspire us be the balanced and stable parents our children need us to be:
Your children are not your children.
They are the sons and daughters of Life’s longing for itself.
They come through you but not from you,
And though they are with you yet they belong not to you.
You may give them your love but not your thoughts,
For they have their own thoughts.
You may house their bodies but not their souls,
For their souls dwell in the house of tomorrow,
which you cannot visit, not even in your dreams.
You may strive to be like them,
but seek not to make them like you.
For life goes not backward nor tarries with yesterday.
You are the bows from which your children
as living arrows are sent forth.
The archer sees the mark upon the path of the infinite,
and He bends you with His might
that His arrows may go swift and far.
Let your bending in the archer’s hand be for gladness;
For even as He loves the arrow that flies,
so He loves also the bow that is stable.
– On Children by Kahlil Gibran
5 Things to do Everyday for Happiness.
Ananda Vrindavanesvari Divi Dasi: The ancient teachings of the Vedas say there are 5 things humans can do everyday to be happy. We would say that these are directly connected to an effective spiritual practice. If we understand that life is meant for self-realization then the following 5 support and help us achieve that goal, while being happy along the way.
Here they are:
Get up before the sun
Worship the Lord
Give in charity
Get up before the sun – this sounds easy but we all know it can be oh so difficult to pull ourselves from the comfort of the comforter. Planning ahead is the key – this means early to bed, which means turning off screens, which means being determined to value the early morning hours. What’s so good about the time before sunrise? Rise early and you will see!
Get clean – this is not just about teeth and body. This is also about our space. A clean body and a clean space really help control the mind. This is a good thing as the mind, according to the bhakti teachings, is the source of all misery. If cleaning is not your thing, try setting your phone timer for 15mins and do a blitz. You will be amazed how much can be achieved and how good you will feel.
Worship the Lord – whether it’s for 5 minutes or 15 or for a few hours, the absolute best thing to do before anything else is to connect with Krishna. Of course we can do this at anytime during the day, but the tendency is to get busy and forget. Get up, get clean and get absorbed in some worship – in our practice it can be mantra meditation, or offering flowers or incense at an altar, or reading something wonderful about Krishna and His associates.
Give in charity – this is such a nice reminder. It is described that there is a difference in giving to those in need and giving to God, who is not in need. Giving donations to those in need shares our wealth; giving to Krishna acknowledges the source of our wealth and the importance of deepening our relationship with Krishna through our giving. Giving is such a core component of self-realization – giving up, giving away, giving back, but it’s also a complex and nuanced activity. We should reflect on the spiritual call to give and do so in small and big ways every day.
Receive guests – in the traditions of the Vedas, guests are to be treated as good as God. Especially unexpected guests – they are signs of good fortune. No matter if we are at home or at work, we can try to interact with others as if they are guests in our space. Treat them as guests for that moment and be happy in their company. Offer water or some refreshment and kind words. Receive at least one guest into your life every day and be blessed.
Prabhupada said, “No, you have the spark. The same quality that’s in me is also in you. You should join this movement. It is very important.”
Atma Tattva: In the early ‘80s in Bangalore, I was required to make at least two Life Members a month. I was a bad Life Membership maker and one month I had only ten days left.
I was looking in the telephone directory for Bengali names and I found a ‘Ganguly.’
I called and said, “I’m speaking from the International Society for Krishna Consciousness. I want to come and see you today.”
Mr. Ganguly sounded positive. He said, “Oh, you are from the Hare Krishna Movement? Please see me at eleven o’clock.”
I took the membership form, a small set of books, a poster and so on, and I went to see him.
To my surprise, I found that his was a huge place, almost equal to the aeronautical engineering place in Bangalore.
I lost hope—there was no way this man was going to become a member.
I went to one secretary, then another, then another, and when my appointment time came I was still with secretaries.
Ganguly was the top man. I thought, “Since I came all this way, I should see him.”
Finally they brought me into a big air-conditioned cabin where a meeting was going on.
Ganguly told everybody, “I have to talk to the Hare Krishna now, so you all go,” and he closed the meeting.
I came in, spread the books on his table and put the poster up. I knew that I wouldn’t have much time with him, so I was brief.
I said, “I’m sure you know about this movement. We have a branch here and we have applied for land. You are a Bengali, you should be proud of this because our Guru Maharaj is also a Bengali and he has spread the Hare Krishna movement all around the world. I’m sure you appreciate this service, so would you become a Life Member?”
He got his checkbook and said, “What is the amount?” I said, “Two thousand two hundred and twenty-two.”
He said, “I’ll give you a donation, and you can also make me a Life Member.”
He wrote a check for ten thousand and gave it to me.
I was moved. I said, “Thank you very much. This is a nice gesture.”
He said, “I wasn’t convinced by your preaching.”
I said, “I didn’t think I convinced you either.”
He said, “I want to tell you something. My father grew up in Calcutta and was a classmate of your Founder Acharya. Every day Abhay came to our house on his bike, carrying his little lunch tiffin, and he and my father played chess. The stake for the chess game was lunch —whoever lost the game had to feed the other. Almost every day Abhay won.
Later this man’s father received a Ph.D. in Sanskrit and became a professor in the local university.
He would tell people, “The Maharaj who founded the Hare Krishna movement was my classmate and he came to my house every day when we were growing up.”
He said that Abhay told him, “You should help me later on when I do something.”
He would ask, “What is that something?” but Abhay did not explain what he meant.
Years later this senior Ganguly learned that the same Abhay became Bhaktivedanta Swami, went to New York and so forth, that there was a local Calcutta center on Albert Road and that Prabhupada was coming to visit.
By this time, the junior Ganguly, who I was speaking with, was in high school and for three days he came to see Prabhupada in the Calcutta ISKCON temple.
Since he looked like his father, Prabhupada recognized him. The junior Ganguly said, “I am the son of such and such.”
Prabhupada said, “Where is he? He didn’t come? Tell him I want to see him.”
Later, the son told the father, “Maharaj wants to see you.”
His father said, “How can I go and see him? He is the guru of the world and I am a grihamedhi.”
His son said, “But he wants to see you and tomorrow he is going to ask me, ‘Why didn’t you bring your father?’”
Feeling shy and small the father said, “Tell him that I am sick.”
The next day Prabhupada asked the junior Ganguly, “Your father didn’t come?” “He is feeling sick.” “Oh, he’s sick. Okay, I will come and see him.”
When the junior told his father that Prabhupada would come, his father said, “How will he come to our house?”
The next morning instead of his usual route, Prabhupada, followed by some disciples, walked down one alley after another, arrived at the Ganguly house and rang the bell.
The son came to the door and saw Prabhupada, his disciples and a huge crowd of onlookers in front of his house.
Prabhupada and a couple of devotees went in and Prabhupada went straight to the bedroom where the senior Ganguly was laying down, not sick, but tired and broken.
Prabhupada sat next to him, poked him like a friend does, and said, “Hey, you didn’t come to see me,” in Bengali.
The senior Ganguly was shocked to see the Hare Krishna devotees in his house. He asked his wife, “Please bring something for them.”
Prabhupada said, “My disciples need to learn Sanskrit. I told you, you should help me. Come and teach them Sanskrit. You can travel around the world with me and teach them. Why don’t you do that? You come, I will take you”.
Ganguly said, “Oh, Swamiji, I am very old and I don’t have any spiritual energy.”
Prabhupada said, “No, you have the spark. The same quality that’s in me is also in you. You should join this movement. It is very important. Bharata-bhumite manusya janma haila yara. You should perfect your life. Better late than never.”
Prabhupada took a rasagulla and drank water.
He told his disciples, “I used to come in the morning and from here we took that road to go to school. He was a very intelligent student. He used to score higher than me.”
Around three o’clock that afternoon, when junior Ganguly came back from school, his father asked for some water.
Then the senior Ganguly leaned back and said, “Bhaktivedanta Swami will take me,” closed his eyes and passed away.
Junior Ganguly said, “In the morning, when Prabhupada said to my father, “You come, I will take you,” I thought Prabhupada was saying, ‘You come to ISKCON and I will take you to America or something. We understood what Prabhupada actually meant after my father passed on.“
Junior Ganguly said to me, “When you called I asked you to come because I wanted to share this with you. In fact, we are already Life Members.”
After that, even though he was a busy man, he would regularly come to our Sunday programs.
Excerpt from “Memories-Anecdotes of a Modern-Day Saint”
by Siddhanta das
By Danavira Goswami
In college my motto was “Success,” and my main ambition was simply to enjoy life. My grandfather had confided once to me that “Money is God.” I wasn’t sure about that, but neither was I sure about God. I evolved to agnosticism. One warm Friday evening, June 9 1970, as I strolled through the campus village, I heard someone call my name. I looked around and didn’t see anyone I knew. Continuing on my way, I heard someone call again. I focused on the only possible source of the sound a saffron-robed, shaven-headed, bespectacled man about my age standing alone between a restaurant and a cinema. Somewhat startled, I answered, “Yes?” to which he replied, “Don’t you recognise me?” Straining to get a closer look, I realised who it was. “Beard! Beard, is that you?” I cried. “It’s me,” he said reassuringly. Bob Searight was his real name; Beard was the nickname he’d caught during his volleyball career at UCLA for sporting an extraordinary long black beard. I had just completed my third year, and he had graduated the year before in engineering. His way of life had been awfully similar to mine; in fact, I had last seen him six months before at the beach with two girlfriends. “What in the world happened to you?” I asked. “I joined the Hare Krishna movement three months ago,” he said. “My God, I don’t believe it!” I responded candidly. Continue reading