(Kadamba Kanana Swami, 26 April 2015, Radhadesh, Belgium, Vyasa Puja: Address to disciples)
Transcribed by Tattvavati dd
om ajnana-timirandhasya jnananjana-salakaya
caksur unmilitam yena tasmai sri-gurave namah
First of all, I am indebted to my spiritual master, who really is a very broad-minded, generous personality and who just had a lot of faith in me and gave me everything.
Then, I was thinking… We have these gatherings and we come here with a lot of effort, spend a lot of money on it and I am doing it because first of all, it is dharma; it is a prescribed duty. It is a duty to observe vyasa puja, it is a duty to make an offering because within that we are all remembering our responsibility – you remember yours as disciples and I remember mine as a spiritual master.
We have some guests today who are not my disciples. Jaya Krishna is one of them, someone who I appreciate very much because I’ve seen his plays for years. The little skit that we had yesterday, he was the inspiration behind it all and the driving force! I’ve seen him play Bhaktivinoda Thakur and it was really nice. It was in Mayapur, years ago, but it really made you feel like Bhaktivinoda was there, you know, he was really carrying it. So with his theatre, he has done so much. I said earlier, a few words in appreciation of mother Jayabhadra (ACBSP) and that is some ongoing appreciation for her commitment and dedication.
Then my appreciation for all of you, for what you do in this movement. What to say? I have spoken about ISKCON, how in the past, ISKCON was very centered. When Srila Prabhupada was here, there was one leader. There was one real leader and everyone was accepting that one leader and therefore when Prabhupada wanted something, then everyone wanted it. So there was that kind of spirit…
After that, we had the zonal acharya era and well, at least they bundled their disciples although maybe they didn’t know how to deal with godbrothers and how to inspire godbrothers and there was a lot of immaturity. So although they bundled devotees, it didn’t carry the same depth and maturity as when Srila Prabhupada was doing it because Prabhupada was really thinking so much from just the ultimate Krsna conscious point of view.
Now it is a different time. I wish I could give one order and everyone would drop everything and just do as I would say! I wish it could be like that but it is not like that in the areas where I am preaching. Maybe, if I would be somewhere else in the world. There are some corners where I could have had my project with my disciples and maybe it could have been like that. When I took sannyasa in 1997, it was a bit later than many of my contemporaries. Somehow or other, I am a little late with some things in my life. So by the time I came in as a sannyasi, many of the other sannyasis were already in Eastern Europe. They were all in Eastern Europe so I chose Western Europe. I said, “I am not going to the East.” Of course, you know, that was not so easy. I still wound up in the Czech Republic because someone drove me there and then I was preaching and I kept on preaching in the Czech Republic. That was my exception for the Eastern countries. To Croatia, I thought I will not go, no way. I thought I will stay on the Western side: Scandinavia, Germany, Benelux, all these countries in Western Europe and even the UK. And then, it turned out that half of the Czechs that I was preaching to were Slovaks, right? And at that time, I couldn’t tell the difference. Now I can but it is too late and so the Slovaks took me further east. So now I have like Czechs and Slovaks, and then of course eventually, the Balkans got me, for better or worse!
I must say that the Balkan kirtans are just fun. The people just get into it, the whole night long; no problem. I mean, no one says, “There is a time schedule!” It is just a very spontaneous affair. Well, Sacinandana Maharaj has his style of mellow kirtan and I have my style of I don’t know what you want to call it but my style of kirtan. So one time, one year I got Sacinandana Maharaj dancing and dancing, and of course it came out on Facebook and the next day I got a message from Kavicandra Maharaj, “You had Sacinandana Swami dancing like a new bhakta.” It was nice, you know, it was fun. So it is fun. So many places.
I went to Germany because it is a very important country in Europe and German people are very capable. That is why they are a leading country in Europe. I went there with a strategy. I thought, “Okay, let me do something to build up Germany. Let me help to make Germany stronger.” I am still committed to that, to Germany, although they changed some temples in the places where I was preaching but now new life is coming.
It is difficult in this day and age, to really drive a focused effort because everyone is on his own program. And most of you also are on your own program and with that, my role then becomes someone who supports individuals, who inspires individuals in their Krsna consciousness, as a friend. All these things are part of what I want to do but actually I want to do much more. I want to drive a mission, a serious one, a full-on mission. I would like, if I could only say to every householder, “Go out every day for one hour on book distribution.” If they would actually do it, I would say it. But they won’t do it, if I say it. So I won’t say it although I just said it!
I remember that I came into Berlin as an active preacher after Prithu Prabhu had been a leading preacher there; I kind of came in as a next leader after that. I remember saying to the devotees, “It doesn’t matter what ashram you are in but why don’t just we try to live from preaching. Why do you need jobs, why do you need university education? Do you realize it is just the spirit of this time? In the 60’s or 70’s, no one in his right mind in those days thought of finishing an education, right? Everyone just forgot about it!”
No one thought about the future. We had mantras, “Be here now.” We thought that as long as that would be our focus, it would be enough for the rest of our lives. But the times changed in the world and security became a much more important issue. The future became a consideration. At the time when I became a devotee it was maya to think about security because Krsna will take care of you, “What is your problem? Why worry about the future? Krsna is there and surely He will make an arrangement if you, now simply give everything you have for Krsna.”
And I must say, to be honest, the times have changed but I didn’t. I didn’t. I still don’t have an education. I didn’t go back to college. I never went in the first place, not because I wasn’t smart enough but because I was too smart. I could see that the system will prepare me for a life that I did not want to live and I decided not to live that life. Therefore, even as a householder, I immediately told my former wife, “Look, you know, I’m not gonna have a job. If it means we are not going to have money, too bad but that’s how it is going to be. I am going to get no job, no way! I’m just going to preach and going to be involved in the temples.”
Maybe that was the spirit of the time, it was very much my spirit at the time. In one sense, I am Mr Flexible. When it is about people I can be very flexible. I can accept everyone in whatever endeavour they are in; Krsna consciousness is not at all stereotype. Rather, it can be practiced in all kinds of conditions of life – one can be involved in the world and still practice Krsna consciousness; that is fine, one can still do something for the mission. But, I do want some devotees full time for the mission. Some devotees who just say, “Okay, forget about the world.” Nowadays, we don’t think so much in that way anymore but when Srila Prabhupada was present, it definitely was a missionary movement! To remain brahmachari was a desired thing; to get married was a second best choice just from the perspective of the mission. So with that, I want to appreciate anyone in whatever ashram they are in, as I was a grhasta. I am not speaking out against grhasta life but I am speaking out in favour of changing the world. I remain a very idealistic person. I wanted to change the world long before I came to Krsna consciousness and I was trying to do it. I stood on street corners, singing songs about changing the world; I gave talks, and lectures; I wrote articles in newsletters. I was a missionary then and only gained more substance in the Krsna consciousness movement. And what I really would like to see is that you think about that and that you take on board everything I said earlier today about different natures and that we must be situated according to our nature…
Vasudev and I go back a long way. He joined in that little Amsterdam temple. I went there from India to recover after my injuries in Vrindavan and I stayed in one place for quite a long time, with a small group of people. I would rest a lot, to sort of get better so there was some strong bonding. Vasudev always said that he was more easy going than me. I’m like intense, intense! He used the word “intense” many times in a positive sense but I am intense. That is true. What can I do? I always was. I’m not expecting that you imitate me and get that equal intensity, if intensity is not so much in your nature. You would get a nervous breakdown if it’s not in your nature and you try to be intense like Kadamba Kanana Swami. You will probably burn out. I learned that…
In 1986, I was in Mayapur. I had gone to Mayapur at the end of ‘85 and I was helping with the ‘86 festival which was the 500th anniversary of Caitanya Mahaprabhu. It was very hectic and I was working with Jayapataka Maharaj. It was just incredible because I was building for him an expo, an exhibition area, and for that I had to get money from him and it was very difficult to get money from him because Jayapataka Maharaj is tight. Oh yes!
I would go to his office at night. He would be there seeing people and then I would have to present the work I was doing for him and then, well, after about one hour he would agree to make the payment, then fifteen minutes later he would take the cheque book out of the desk, another half an hour later he would actually fill out the cheque but he would not sign it! Time was moving on. So then, at 11.30 at night, he would sign the cheque, but still he wouldn’t give it to me. At 11:45, I would have the cheque in my hands but he didn’t put his stamp on there. He said, “Oh, give it back to me to put the stamp.”
I said, “I have my own stamp. No problem.” I was never going to give it back! I had the cheque. So I had the cheque and then at almost midnight, he asked, “You want some prasad?” And I go like, “Well, you know, prasad now?” After that whole ordeal with the cheque, well, I thought why not. So then, we went in and a huge, huge table had like so many preparations, from one corner to the other corner of the table, was covered with prasadam. It was after midnight, and he was encouraging me to eat this and that, and everything. So, you know, like by one o´clock, I was sort of totally intoxicated from the incredible amount of prasadam and fell unconscious in my room, on the bed. Then at 5.30am, four and a half hours later, his servant was banging on my door… bang, bang, bang! “He wants to see you right now.” (exhale!) And then, he would talk about how to build things and where we would find some hidden bricks and cement and so on.
In the course of that, at one point, I got behind on my rounds. I didn’t have any more time to chant. It was just day and night being busy and I got thirty-two rounds behind so then I spoke to Harikesh about it and he said, “Well, you know, I mean, no one tries to keep up with Jayapataka Maharaj. You must be mad!” I really got some realization on that day that everyone is an individual and that we all serve Krsna in our own individual way. So don’t try to be Kadamba Kanana Swami but take the spirit, take a drop of the spirit of Kadamba Kanana Swami and that is (a) be independently thoughtful and (b) do something for the mission. Not just do something but do something REAL, make a plan to push on Krsna consciousness and do something! Really do something within your means but not in the mode of passion!
Although I am an intense personality, you see that in my travel schedule, you see that in my kirtan, I also brought Giriraj here today which is the other side, you know, which is my personal life. The Lord is kind enough to appear in my personal life and give me some personal shelter. Also, over all these years, although I had so much service, still I took time to read the Bhagavatam. And then in 1984, when the all-in-one volume of Caitanya Caritamrta came out, I carried it with me for many years until we went electronic and nowadays everything is carried electronically…
But there is the other side, the time that we take for our own spiritual life – I’m not only singing crazy and wild kirtans. I generally sing crazy and wild kirtans with other people but when I’m alone, I sing very mellow kirtans. You wouldn’t believe how mellow, really very soft, mellow, gentle… I don’t know where it started, that reputation, where I’m being announced, “Now Kadamba Kanana Swami will lead a kirtan which will be an explosion of an explosion!” Something I hate! I mean “explosion of an explosion”. How can you lead an “explosion of an explosion”? It’s ridiculous. So, my point is that I want you all to be well-rounded people. Well-rounded means people who take care of all the aspects of their life – their private life, their bhajan, their worship of Krsna, their japa, their absorption in the philosophy…