The incorporation of ISKCON in New York

By Lakshman (das) Vrindavan (IN)

The International Society for Krishna Consciousness (ISKCON) is a peaceful fraternal movement incorporated in 1966 in New York by its founder Acharya His Divine Grace A. C. Bhaktivedanta Swami Prabhupada and it is aimed at teaching a simple way of living in harmony with nature and to achieve the ultimate goal of human life. “We shall call our society ISKCON.” Prabhupada playfully coined first the acronym, although many alternative names were proposed by his close associates. The principal place of worship was located at 26 Second Avenue, in the city, county, and state of New York was the sole headquarters of ISKCON then. Yet, Prabhupada was unwilling to live there because his Guru Maharaj moved out from the traditional holy places to preach in cities like Calcutta, Bombay, and Delhi, but hardly lived there. Prabhupada often said that his spiritual master always lived in Goloka Vrindavana, the eternal abode of Krishna and absorbed in the lilas of the Supreme Lord.

The seven explicit purposes of the ISKCON

1. To systematically propagate spiritual knowledge to society at large and to educate all people in the techniques of spiritual life in order to check the imbalance of values in life and to achieve real unity and peace in the world.

2. To propagate a consciousness of Krishna (God), as it is revealed in the great scriptures of India, Bhagavad-gita and Srimad-Bhagavatam.

3. To bring the members of the Society together with each other and nearer to Krishna, the prime entity, thus developing the idea within the members, and humanity at large, that each soul is part and parcel of the quality of Godhead (Krishna).

4. To teach and encourage the sankirtana movement, congregational chanting of the holy name of God, as revealed in the teachings of Lord Sri Caitanya Mahaprabhu.

5. To erect for the members and for society at large a holy place of transcendental pastimes dedicated to the personality of Krishna.

6. To bring the members closer together for the purpose of teaching a simpler, more natural way of life.

7. With a view towards achieving the aforementioned purposes, to publish and distribute periodicals, magazines, books and other writings.

The way of preaching Srila Prabhupada ordained was glorifying the lilas (pastimes) of the Supreme Lord Krshna and His several appearances in the past. His aim was preaching in groups and propagation of the congregational chanting. With it, he carried out the mission of Lord Caitanya Mahaprabhu, a merciful incarnation of Lord Krishna appeared half a millennium ago to call people back to Godhead. It is a mission to bond the people of East and West together and foster the unity of friendship and love in the name of the Supreme Lord, whose infinitesimal fragments are we all Souls. He demonstrated a way of simple living and high morale conducive for the Krishna Conscious movement and emulated the ideals pictured in the wonderful Scriptures of Srimad Bhagavatam and Bhagavad Gita. He advised all to read these wonderful Scriptures and his interesting purports and encouraged people to write about Krishna and His expansion Caitanya and their glorious pastimes. He insisted to propagate the message of Lord distributing these valuable Scriptures across the globe. This was the special instruction of Srilala Bhaktisiddhanta Sarasvati Thakura to Srila Prabhupada. One day in
1932 at Radha-kund in Vriindavan, the glorious Spiritual Master specifically told to his disciple, “If you ever get any money, publish books.”

Srila Prabhupada often said, “Vrindavan is my residence, Bombay is my office, and Mayapur is where I worship the Supreme Personality of Godhead.” Bombay (Mumbai) is where he incorporated the main branch of ISKCON and other branches in India are believed to be legally bound to it. Srila Prabhupada’s Samadhi is located in Vrindavan besides the beautiful Krishna-Balaram temple he built. As the predecessor Acaryas envisioned, Srila Prabhupada built a wonderful temple at the flushing meadows of Navadvipa, Mayapur to worship Caitanya Mahaprabhu in the glorious presence of Radhakrishna at the birthplace of Caitanya Mahaprabhu and later made it as the international headquarters of ISKCON. Srila Prabhupad spread the sankirtana movement of Lord Caitanya and with his blessings established 108 majestic Temples world-wide and circum-ambulated the world fourteen times praising the glories of Lord.

Sri Caitanya Mahaprabhu wanted to preach the sankirtana movement in love of Krishna for the benefit of the entire world. His intentions,

prithivite ache yata nagaradi grama

sarvatra pracara haibe mora nama

In every town and village on this earth the glories of My name will be chanted. (Caitanya-bhagavata, Antya 4.126)

He sent Rupa and Sanatana Goswamis to Vrindavana, Nityanada Prabhu to Bengal, and he personally visited South India to propagate the movement. Srila Prabhupada, perfectly fulfilled His mission before he returned to Caitanya Mahaprabhu at Goloka Vrindavana. Enthused by Srila Prabhupada’s invigorating spirit of success, it is the responsibility of all devotees of ISKCON to take the movement forward to the far reaching corners of the world and to every person seeking the Supreme Destination. In loving memory on the incorporation of ISKCON, let us all chant,

HARE KRISHNA HARE KRISHNA KRISHNA KRISHNA HARE HARE HARE RAMA HARE RAMA RAMA RAMA HARE HARE

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The Secret of Bhakti-yoga

By Sri Nandanandana dasa (Stephen Knapp)

There are various kinds of yoga; such as karma-yoga, based on purifying our activities; Jnana-yoga, based on acquiring spiritual knowledge and insight; Raja-yoga, the mystical yoga system; and Bhakti-yoga, attaining union with God through love and devotion. From these yoga systems, additional systems have also developed. But these four basic forms of yoga are all discussed in the primary and essential Vedic text of the Bhagavad-gita. But out of all of them, Lord Krishna specifically directs us toward engaging in Bhakti-yoga, love and devotion toward Him. So why is this so special? This is something that we should always remember, especially when preaching to other yoga practitioners.

Bhakti-yoga is the devotional service performed for Lord Krishna, or one of His avataras, such as Lord Vishnu, Lord Ramachandra, etc. Lord Krishna explains that, “Work done as a sacrifice for Vishnu has to be performed, otherwise work binds one to this material world. Therefore, O son of Kunti [Arjuna], perform your prescribed duties for His satisfaction, and in that way you will always remain unattached and free from bondage.”28 This means free from karma, which is an important point in our spiritual progress.

Sri Krishna goes on to relate that “Those who know Me as the Supreme Lord, as the governing principle of the material manifestation, who know Me as the one underlying all the demigods and as the one sustaining all sacrifices, can, with steadfast mind, understand and know Me even at the time of death.29 And whoever, at the time of death, quits his body remembering Me alone, at once attains My nature. Of this there is no doubt. Whatever state of being one remembers when he quits his body, that state he will attain without fail. Therefore, Arjuna, you should always think of Me in the form of Krishna and at the same time carry out your prescribed duty. With your activities dedicated to Me and your mind and intelligence fixed on Me, you will attain Me without doubt.”30

In this way, we can begin to understand that devotional service ultimately brings us to the level of being able to see Lord Krishna directly. It is by this method that numerous other saintly sages and yogis have come to be able to directly see the Lord. The point to remember is that the more spiritual we become, the more we can perceive that which is spiritual. The more purified our consciousness is, or the higher the vibrational level upon which our consciousness functions, the more we can see and enter into that higher level of existence or reality. It awakens our transcendental senses that exist within us. So the process of continued service to Krishna and His devotees will bring about the purification which will allow us to enter into Krishna’s domain, even within this very lifetime, if we are fortunate enough.

As Lord Krishna further relates, “The form which you are seeing with your transcendental eyes cannot be understood simply by studying the Vedas, nor by undergoing serious penances, nor by charity, nor by worship. It is not by these means that one can see Me as I am. My dear Arjuna, only by undivided devotional service can I be understood as I am, standing before you, and can thus be seen directly. Only in this way can you enter into the mysteries of My understanding. One who is engaged in My pure devotional service, free from the contaminations of previous activities and from mental speculation, who is friendly to every living entity, certainly comes to Me.”31

“One can understand the Supreme Personality of Godhead as He is only by devotional service. And when one is in full consciousness of the Supreme Lord by such devotion, he can enter into the kingdom of God.”32

Lord Krishna also explains in the Bhagavata Purana that the residents of both heaven and hell want to take a human birth on earth since such a human life provides the best facility to achieve transcendental knowledge and love of God. Neither heavenly nor hellish bodies provide the efficient means for such opportunity.33 This is the fortunate nature of life on this earth planet and in these humans bodies, which we often take so much for granted.

Furthermore, Lord Krishna describes in the Bhagavata Purana the highest level of happiness that can be attained when we have a taste for serving Him. He says that if you fix your consciousness on Him, giving up your material desires, you will share a happiness with Him that cannot be experienced in any way by those who remain engaged in sense gratification. If you do not desire anything of this world, and have achieved peace through controlling the senses, and if your consciousness is equipoised in all situations, and when your mind is satisfied in Him, you will find happiness wherever you go.34 If or when you are without any desire for personal gratification, and when the mind is attached to Him, peaceful and without false ego, merciful to all living beings, and when your consciousness is not affected by the prospects for gratifying the senses, then you can find a happiness that cannot be known or achieved by those who lack such qualities.35 In other words, this is beyond anything that a common man may experience.

With the explanations that follow we can understand that a separate endeavor for engaging in the mystic yoga tradition is not needed. Whatever spiritual goals you may wish to attain can be acquired simply by engaging in devotional service to the Supreme. Sri Krishna explains this: “One who can control his senses by practicing the regulated principles of freedom can obtain the complete mercy of the Lord and thus become free from all attachment and aversion.47 And of all yogis, he who always abides in Me with great faith, worshiping Me in transcendental loving service, is most intimately united with Me in yoga and is the highest of all.48 He who meditates on the Supreme Personality of Godhead, his mind constantly engaged in remembering Me, undeviated from the path, he, O Partha [Arjuna], is sure to reach Me… One who at the time of death, fixes his life air between his eyebrows and in full devotion engages himself in remembering the Supreme Lord, will certainly attain to the Supreme Personality…49 After attaining Me, the great souls, who are yogis in devotion, never return to this temporary world, which is full of miseries, because they have attained the highest perfection.”50

This is the powerful effect of the process of thinking and dedicating your activities to Lord Krishna. However, the same result can also be acquired by proper association with those who are spiritually advanced. In this regard, the Supreme Lord personally told Uddhava that it is by associating with His pure devotees that you can destroy your desires for the objects that can gratify the senses. It is this purifying association that can bring the Lord under the control of such a devotee. You may perform the astanga-yoga system, engage in philosophical analysis of the elements of material nature, or practice nonviolence and other ordinary principles of piety, like dig wells, give in charity, plant trees, or other public welfare activities. You may even chant the Vedas, perform penances, take up the renounced order of life, worship the demigods, chant confidential mantras, or visit the holy places. But all such activities cannot bring Him under your control.51 Even though you may engage with great endeavor in the mystic yoga system, or philosophical speculation, or charity, vows, penances, rituals, or even studying the Vedas and teaching the Vedic mantras to others, still you cannot achieve Him by these means alone.52

However, by example we can see that as the residents of Vrindavana, headed by the gopis [cowherd girls devoted to Krishna], were always completely attached to Him with the deepest love, they could not find any other comfort or happiness in their separation from Him when Krishna’s uncle Akrura took Him and Balarama to Mathura. All of the nights in which the gopis spent with Krishna in Vrindavana went by like a moment. And now, bereft of His association, the gopis felt those same nights drag on forever, as if each night were a day of Brahma. Just as the great sages in yoga trance merge into self-realization, just like the river merging into the ocean, and are thus oblivious to any material names and forms, in the same way the gopis of Vrindavana were so completely attached and absorbed in thought of Him that they did not think of their own bodies, or of anything of this world, not even of their future. Their complete consciousness was simply absorbed in Krishna. Though they were not completely aware of His actual position, by their thoughts and association with Him, they all attained Him, the Supreme Absolute Truth.

Therefore, as Lord Krishna goes on to explain in the Bhagavata Purana: “Abandon the Vedic mantras as well as the procedures in the supplementary Vedic literature and all their injunctions. Simply take shelter of Me alone, for I am the Supreme Personality of Godhead situated within the heart of all conditioned souls. Take shelter of Me wholeheartedly, and by My grace be free from fear in all circumstances.”53

An example of such fearlessness for devotees on the path of spiritual progress is related as follows: Those who are yogis learn how to control their lives so that they pass away from this world at the right moment, and in the right consciousness, so that they will not take birth in this world again. However, Lord Krishna explains this, and concludes that for His devotees there is no reason to be overly concerned about such things. “According to the Vedas, there are two ways of passing from this world–one in light and one in darkness. When one passes in light, he does not come back; but when one passes in darkness, he returns…54 Those who know the Supreme Brahman pass away from the world during the influence of the fiery god, in the light, at an auspicious moment, during the fortnight of the moon and the six months when the sun travels in the north. The mystic who passes away from this world during the smoke, the night, the moonless fortnight, or in the six months when the sun passes to the south, or who reaches the moon planet, again comes back.55 However, the devotees who know these two paths, O Arjuna, are never bewildered. Therefore be always fixed in devotion.”56 Thus, for a devotee who is always thinking of Krishna, there is no reason for any other endeavor or concern in the performance of one’s spiritual progress.

Krishna further clarifies in the Bhagavata Purana that whatever mystic perfections can be achieved by good birth, herbs, austerities and mantras can all be achieved by devotional service to Him; indeed one cannot achieve the actual perfection of yoga by any other means.57 Everything that can be attained through fruitive or karmic activities, penance, knowledge, detachment, mystic yoga, charity, religious duties, or any other means of perfecting life can be easily achieved by His devotee simply through loving service to Him. If for some reason His devotee desires to be promoted to heaven or attain liberation, or a residence in His abode, such benedictions are easily achieved.58

A similar point is reiterated by the Lord in His form as Kapiladeva when He explains that because His devotee is completely absorbed in thought of Him, he does not desire such benedictions as going to the higher planetary systems, like Satyaloka, nor any of the eight mystic powers obtained from yoga, nor does he desire to be liberated into the kingdom of God. However, the devotee nonetheless enjoys all offered benedictions even in this life, even without asking for them.59

In conclusion, everything that can be accomplished by separate endeavors in other processes are not left out of the path of devotion to the Lord. “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. At the end he reaches the supreme abode.”60

This is the secret of the potency of bhakti-yoga.

CHAPTER NOTES

28. Bhagavad-gita 3.9

29. Ibid., 7.30

30. Ibid., 8.5-7

31. Ibid., 11.53-55

32. Ibid., 18.55

33. Srimad-Bhagavatam 11.20.12

34. Ibid., 11.14.12-13

35. Ibid., 11.14.17

47. Bhagavad-gita 2.64

48. Ibid., 6.47

49. Ibid., 8.8, 10

50. Ibid., 8.15

51. Srimad-Bhagavatam 11.12.1-2

52. Ibid., 11.12.9

53. Ibid., 11.12.9-15

54. Bhagavad-gita 8.26

55. Ibid., 8.24-25

56. Ibid., 8.27

57. Srimad-Bhagavatam 11.15.34

58. Ibid., 11.20.32-33

59. Ibid., 3.25.37

60. Bhagavad-gita 8.28

A Saint Among Politicians

From Back to Godhead

By Vraja Bihari Dasa

Providing inspiration for the world’s largest democracy.

“We say God’s on our side but the more important question to ask is are we on God’s side…” (George Washington)

Democracy is supposed to be ‘by the people, of the people, and for the people,’ but I fear it may soon be redefined as ‘buy’ the people, ‘off’ the people, and ‘far’ (from) the people,” exclaimed Suresh, a 25-year-old man I met while returning to the temple from an outstation program. He was disappointed that India, the world’s largest democracy, recorded just 35-50% polling in the recent elections. Suresh also noted that over 150 of the members elected to parliament have criminal cases against them. “The meaning of elections is lost, democracy is in peril, and we have no inspiration to look up to.”

Mahatma Vidura, a spiritual leader

Back at the temple, I reflected on the comments of Dr. A.P.J. Abdul Kalam, the honorable former President of India, who revealed his inspiration to be an unsung hero of ancient India Mahatma Vidura, a minister at the kingdom of Hastinapura. Dr. Kalam even composed a poem extolling Vidura’s glories.

Vidura was born of a maidservant at the royal palace of Hastinapura (now Delhi), the hot-seat of intriguing politics. His astute wisdom and genuine concern for the Kuru family the rulers of Hastinapura earned him the position of a minister. Dhritarastra, although older of the two brothers who inherited the kingdom, was blind from birth and thus disqualified to be the emperor himself. However, he ruled the kingdom on behalf of his brother Pandu who went to the forest to perform penances. After the untimely death of Pandu while in the forest, Dhritarastra eyed the throne, wanting to deprive the sons of Pandu (Pandavas) the legitimate heirs from inheriting the kingdom. He wished that his evil son, Duryodhana, takes over the kingdom. Meanwhile Duryodhana devised one sinister plan after another to kill the virtuous Pandavas, and Dhritarastra silently approved the plans.

Vidura was a pure devotee of the Supreme Personality of Godhead, Lord Krishna, and he carried out the Lord’s will by serving His devotees, the Pandavas. Vidura was pained to see terrible injustices repeatedly inflicted upon the Pandavas. He used his political acumen to help the Pandavas secretly escape from a house that Duryodhana had planned to set fire to, with an intention to burn them to death. While he revealed his love for the Lord by serving the Pandavas, Vidura also revealed his fearlessness in confronting Duryodhana and his 99 brothers. Amid the cruel ministers and crafty friends of Duryodhana, Vidura stood tall in character and integrity. He strongly voiced his disapproval of Duryodhana’s nefarious plans and repeatedly implored Dhritarastra to abandon his wicked son. Vidura warned of the destruction of the whole family due to Duryodhana’s atrocities against Krishna’s pure devotees, the Pandavas.

Through a cheating gambling match, Duryodhana banished the Pandavas to a thirteen-year exile. Later, when the Pandavas returned and demanded their rightful share, Duryodhana openly refused. A war seemed imminent. As Vidura’s desperate appeals fell on deaf ears, Krishna, in a last attempt to avert bloodshed, came as a peace messenger on behalf of the Pandavas. Duryodhana foolishly and unsuccessfully tried to arrest Krishna, and while leaving, Krishna declared that the destruction of Kauravas was now certain. Vidura again urged Dhritarastra to heed to good counsel. Dhritarastra always consulted Vidura, knowing him to be a genuine well-wisher of the family. However due to weak heartedness, coupled with his spiritual blindness, he did not accept Vidura’s counsel but tacitly supported his wicked son.

Vidura’s untiring efforts to serve the kingdom were misunderstood by Duryodhana. In the royal assembly, Vidura was humiliated, condemned for disloyalty to the throne, and accused of being a traitor in the guise of a friend. He was ordered to leave the kingdom at once. Vidura’s decades of faithful service, far from being acknowledged, leave alone being appreciated, was rewarded with ungratefulness and insult.

Vidura’s response to a crisis

Vidura was hurt, yet with his devotional intelligence he saw the Lord’s plan at work. He saw Duryodhana as a victim of lust for power, and a puppet in the hands of the Lord’s illusory energy, maya. He saw himself as a fortunate recipient of the Lord’s mercy, and thus silently thanked Duryodhana for this act. The banishment was a blessing; it gave him a chance to practise exclusive devotional service to Krishna, without any hindrance. He soon left on a pilgrimage to holy places to worship Krishna.

The attraction to Krishna gave Vidura not only the strength to stand for truth but also the ability to tolerate personal injustices. During his travels he met Uddhava, a close associate of Krishna. Rather than lament at his personal tragedy, Vidura expressed eagerness to hear from Uddhava the activities of Lord Krishna. This excitement to know about Krishna kept him happy during the terrible crisis of his life.

Vidura’s example shows that cultivating an intimate connection with Krishna helps us hold on to sacred principles, and remain enthusiastic even as the political weather gets turbulent by the day. The inner strength and wisdom that naturally develop by sincere practice of Krishna consciousness keep the devotee serene and happy at all times. In stark contrast, the recent elections saw the ousted ministers cry foul and openly hurl accusations at each other.

While modern politicians’ careers are tainted with corrupt and immoral practices, and their characters shrouded in suspicion, Vidura’s example sets the standard for all leaders to be God conscious. Srila Prabhupada, the founder of ISKCON, repeatedly expressed the need for political administrators to be spiritual practitioners. He even suggested to Indira Gandhi, the former Prime Minister of India, to hold kirtanas, chanting of the holy names of the Lord, in Parliament, and help ministers develop God consciousness.

Renunciation v/s Service to Society

Is Vidura, by his renunciation, indicating that a leader should give up his service to his people and go to the forest instead? No! Vidura, even in his travels, constantly thought of the welfare of the general populace that has become averse to devotional service to Lord Krishna. His heart burned in compassion for the suffering people. During his travels he also met Maitreya Rishi, another great sage, and discussed with him the methods for spiritual awakening of the misguided masses. Thus a spiritual leader, whether living in the forest or at a palace, carries the spirit of service in his heart, and offers the best he can, to bring people closer to God.

A sincere devotee’s practice of Krishna consciousness softens his heart with emotions of love and compassion towards all living entities. This is because a devotee sees all beings as parts and parcels of his dear Lord, Krishna. Vidura’s selfless service and unparalleled compassion reached its perfection when he returned to Hastinapura after the war at Kuruksetra.

In the fratricidal war, the Kauravas were annihilated and Pandavas, directed by Krishna, got back their rightful share. The Pandavas, however, continued to care for Dhritarastra. Vidura returned to the palace, not to stake any claim on his share of the property, but to educate his blind brother Dhritarastra. Despite suffering the pains of old-age, and the death of his hundred sons, Dhritarastra continued to seek material comforts, living at the house of the very men whom he plotted to kill his entire life. Vidura chastised Dhritarastra and ordered him to renounce worldly attachments and practice devotional service. Vidura’s words, though apparently harsh and sarcastic, came from his compassionate heart. His speech acted like a surgeon’s scalpel that cuts only to heal. Vidura’s words cut Dhritarastra’s material attachments, and restored his spiritual vision and determination. That very night the blind Dhritarastra secretly left the palace to pursue God consciousness and eventually achieved a spiritually exalted destination.

Earlier when humiliated and banished, it appeared Vidura didn’t get much success in his political career, yet now by being compassionate even to one who passively watched his humiliation, he reveals the real understanding of success to offer the best you can as a servant of all. Vidura’s loyalty and faith in God should humble us, especially those who abandon ideological loyalties and switch parties for better career and monetary prospects.

Blending Courage With Humility

Vidura’s exemplary renunciation and forthrightness was perfectly blended with humility. Despite being an intimate associate of Krishna, he considered himself lowly and unqualified to be a recipient of the Lord’s mercy. When ostracized by Duryodhana, he could have immediately gone to Dvaraka, Lord Krishna’s headquarters. Instead he visited other holy places to associate with saintly devotees and hear about Krishna from them. He felt contaminated by the sins of murky politics at Hastinapura and sought to purify himself first before seeking a direct audience with Krishna.

A devotee’s humility is most endearing to Krishna’s heart. Krishna is not the property of the rich, educated or beautiful people. He reserves the right of not being exposed to those devoid of humility and devotion. However if a devotee is simple and surrendered to the Lord’s will, Krishna is purchased. Earlier, whenever Krishna came to Hastinapura, He regularly visited Vidura’s residence, even as the cunning Duryodhana offered royal hospitality to woo Krishna on his side. Krishna ignored all of Duryodhana’s reception and happily accepted Vidura’s simple offering of love.

Humility is the hallmark of a true leader. A humble person always takes the position of a servant of the Lord and all living entities, and in this consciousness, executes his spiritual and worldly responsibilities. Vidura’s tireless efforts in the mood of a servant eventually bore fruit as he successfully redeemed his wayward brother.

Our “noble” modern politician also claims to be a servant of the masses and begs for votes before elections. On rising to power, however, he furthers his own political ambitions and ignores the common man only to remember him again before the next elections. No wonder, Indians love to hate politicians.

Vidura’s example is thus a sobering reminder that life will present many challenges. At such times, remembrance of Krishna, living by sacred principles, and a humble service attitude can keep us happy and lend meaningful purpose to our lives.

Hare Krishna

Translated Letter from Srila Prabhupada to Lalita Prasad Thakur…

Translated Letter from Srila Prabhupada to Lalita Prasad Thakur (Srila Bhaktivinoda Thakura’s son)
National Hotel, Red park, Moscow, Russia
21st June, 1971.
My dear uncle Prabhupada Lalita Prasad Thakur,
Kindly accept my humble obeisance to your lotus feet. At present I am staying at the above mentioned hotel in Moscow, Room No. 356. With me there are two American disciples.
Here the preaching subject will be 1. Vedic Conception of Communism, 2. Knowledge derived from authoritative tradition, 3. Scientific classless society. Now with your blessing in this severely atheistic country the teachings of Sriman Mahaprabhu will be preached.
Here many local and foreigner girls and boys have visited. I advise them to do the Bhajana of the Lord. A few boys of this place have become very much impressed after listening to our Harinama. They want to join us. But the laws of this country are so tough that they cannot go against them. Here discussions are going on to meet many reputable professors and there will be the arrangement of lecture in the Indian Embassy. You bless me.
From here I will go to Paris, San Francisco, Los Angeles, London etc. This is the first time I came to Moscow. If you want to write to me, send it to this address—3764 Watseka Avenue.
Yours affectionately, Sri Bhaktivedanta Swami
(from Bhaktivedanta Research Centre’s Birnagar Collection)

Experiencing happiness within devotional service: Is that…

Experiencing happiness within devotional service: Is that considered selfish?
Question: Experiencing happiness within devotional service: Is that considered selfish? I get so much happiness with devotional service. However, I fear that if it is a selfish desire rather sincere motivation to please Krsna. How can I differentiate and improve where I am not focusing on my happiness, but rather making Krsna happy?
Answer by Romapada Swami: Feeling happiness in relation to Krishna is good! As you mature in Krishna consciousness, however, gradually and deliberately shift your attention away from viewing yourself at the center; instead become ever-increasingly aware of the reality that Krishna is at the center of our exchange with Him, that’s all.
In fact, Krishna is the only Enjoyer or Master; others are to be enjoyed by Him. He is Purusa, we are prakrti. We are His servants, per our constitutional position. When we are situated in our loving relationship with Krishna, we experience a sublime quality of happiness — we experience being connected with Krishna’s happiness! He is enjoying, and we experience His happiness through the medium of His devotional service.
Devotional service means trying to please the Lord. It is meant to give Krishna happiness, not to give happiness to ourselves. Devotional service means activities performed for the pleasure of Lord Krishna, with devotion, and ultimately not mixed with any desire for personal pleasure.
[NOD Chapter 1] “In the Hari-bhakti-sudhodaya it is stated that Prahlada Maharaja, a great devotee of the Lord, prayed to Narsimhadeva (the half-lion, half-man incarnation), as follows: ‘My dear Lord, I repeatedly pray unto Your lotus feet that I may simply be stronger in devotional service. I simply pray that my Krsna consciousness may be more strong and steady, because happiness derived out of Krsna consciousness and devotional service is so powerful that with it one can have all the other perfections of religiousness, economic development, sense gratification and even the attainment of liberation from material existence.’ Actually, a pure devotee does not aspire after any of these perfections because the happiness derived from devotional service in Krsna consciousness is so transcendental and so unlimited that no other happiness can be compared with it. It is said that even one drop of happiness in Krsna consciousness stands beyond comparison with an ocean of happiness derived from any other activity. Thus, any person who has developed even a little quantity of pure devotional service can very easily kick out all the other kinds of happiness derived from religiousness, economic development, sense gratification and liberation.“
Below are some of the following few ways to practically apply and understand whether the happiness experienced is for own satisfaction or for the satisfaction of the Lord:
1. We can check our internal consciousness when we experience happiness (i.e. introspect). Ask yourself “Is this experience based on a selfish motivation, e.g. derived from an activity that we love to do, or perhaps an activity which will put us in the forefront, making us more noticeable thus helping us to gain appreciation from others?”
2. Do we do the activity only when we are noticed by others, and when there is nobody to see us we are little easy going and not do it with the same care and sincerity? [Supersoul is the witness of our motives and our consistency, so best to be self-honest in this regard!]
3. Inconsistency in service as well as service mood in general is a sign of being materially dependent or with mixed motives; real devotion, and in turn real happiness, is not created or interrupted by circumstance. See SB 1.2.6
4. It is always good to check with the Spiritual Master.

Hare Krishna Culture Growing In Cuba! (Album with photos) For…

Hare Krishna Culture Growing In Cuba! (Album with photos)
For the last several months, one of our dear Canadian brahmacaris (renunciate monks) has been in Cuba helping to share our wonderful Hare Krishna culture! Below is a (slightly edited) report given by Hayagriva das along with some amazing pictures:
Our Cuban journey is now finished. We were very privileged to be able to share Krishna Consciousness in Cuba. A few things we really appreciated about the Cubans is that they are very warm people, they are kindhearted and have quite a natural service attitude.
We were able to do harinama (outdoor chanting and dancing) regularly, we organized around 40 programs, six retreats and distributed over 100 of Srila Prabhupada’s books.
One story: we were chanting in the “Plaza Central” in La Habana when one young girl (who had autism) came to us and started to dance ecstatically, smiling, with our Harinama Party. Her mother (in tears) came to us afterwards and shared that she never saw her daughter so happy in a very long time. Usually, her daughter is very introverted and neutral. Definitely, her soul was awakened by the irresistibly sweet sound of the kirtan!
We really hope that you can one day visit the Cuban devotees. After all, we are the International Society for Krishna Consciousness!
Your servant
Hayagriva dasa
Find them here: http://goo.gl/vwuJ6N

Visit of Budapest Accredited Diplomats to Krishna Valley,…

Visit of Budapest Accredited Diplomats to Krishna Valley, Hungary.
On the 50th anniversary of ISKCON, the Hungarian devotees make increased efforts to attract more and more people to special events. This year New Vraja Dhama (NVD) is introducing several such popular festivals, like the Henna Festival, Festival of Flowers, Karela and Pumpkin festival etc. One of these popular events is the first grazing of the cows.
Cow protection is central to Vaishnavism, and this is very much in the focus at New Vraja Dhama, which is known as Krishna Valley to the general public in Hungary.
To read the entire article click here: http://goo.gl/YDjbxS