Transcribed by Tattvavati dd
Continued from Part 1
On Srila Prabhupada’s vyasasan, just elaborate flowers are not enough. We cannot just offer elaborate flowers to Prabhupada; that is a good start and a good sign to the world but let us give him the prominent seat; bigger and higher than mine also; be strict according to scripture…
Prabhupada wanted to preach and he drove his men to preach. I wish I could drive my men to preach but, you know, they are all in their situations, so it is not so easy to drive them to preach at this pace. Those who are brahmacharis, full time preachers, with all their energy, intelligence and a plan, “Let us build it up, let us take Krsna consciousness forward.” This is something that I like to emphasize.
In the earlier days of the Hare Krsna movement, they certainly had the spirit of taking Krsna consciousness forward but it was more in the spirit of propaganda, in the sense that we didn’t fill in our behaviour ourselves… To an extent, yes, some devotees absolutely did but we were lacking in embracing some qualities – vaisnava qualities, vaisnava behaviour and deeply assimilating the philosophy in the scriptures. In all these things, we were lacking. So I don’t idealize the early phase of this movement. I am not someone who lives in the past but I see the benefit of that spirit and wherever I see it is alive, I think, “That is wonderful.”
Why not, a household couple who just open a preaching center and just live from the preaching? People may not give money to you but they will give to ISKCON, you can hang the ISKCON sign outside the door and you can give invitations and start a Sunday feast. And if you cook, if you get the recipe to make sweet rice from Jayabhadra, then I’m sure they will come. You should learn from her how to cook it. Sweet rice is more than a recipe. It’s about stirring for a long time, not too high a flame, making sure that the rice really mixes with the milk. Not like, where the milk is at the top and the rice is at the bottom; that is not sweet rice, that is horrible.
So this vyasa puja is an opportunity to bundle some energy. Maybe I cannot bundle it to the extent that I would like to but I can say something to all that are here. Like now our Savyasaci is here. He is an upcoming brahmachari preacher in South Africa and he was doing good and then he got some kind of tuberculosis, one of those antibiotic-resistant types and they sort of put him in a quarantine room for a long time, for one and a half years! And they let him out about two years ago. Now he has to sort of like rebuild the efforts but that is what we need. There is so much to do in Africa and we need to take it forward and someone has to go and just mobilize the devotees to do it.
There is so much to do in the UK. There is a lot to do in the Manor and so much outside the Manor. Our Sutapa has always had the inspiration to do it; let us make it happen. Leicester came as a gift from Krsna. From nowhere, a temple was given but we can do so much more in Leicester than we are doing now as it is still an empty building. We have a big empty building which was just given to us. The Leicester story is quite interesting because on Prabhupada’s Appearance Day some years back, there was a gas tank which was leaking and the devotees all ran out of the kitchen and it exploded. No one got injured but the temple got destroyed and then, somehow or other, Krsna gave a new temple, a much bigger temple and now it is up to us to fill it in. I mean, we can use that space, we can do something there! Gurudas came from Leicester and became my servant and always said, “I’ll go back to Leicester.” Well, before you can go back to Leicester, you have got to make it happen in Leicester, otherwise there is nowhere to go back to and that is why he is not back in Leicester. But there is so much to do!
There is Vienna and there used to be a temple and then it closed. In recent years, there is new life in Vienna. I went there a few times and there is nama hatta and the devotees are preaching so now is the time, we need a temple now. Godruma is interested in it! I see something coming up, I see some devotees coming together, I can see that a temple could be opened there and why not? It is the capital of a country (Austria); it is close to Bratislava where there are many devotees, only 60 km away. The devotees sometimes cook when I go for a program, they can also cook when I am not going for a program…
In this way, let us do these things. If we do these things, then Krsna consciousness becomes exciting! Let us do something exciting when we can. Of course, when you are at home and you have a family, you can also do something exciting. You can invite people and cook up a feast. No one will stop you from having a program at home if you want to. The neighbours may be can but having a program one time, what can they say? Everyone can do such things.
We saw Yamuna’s slide show. Yamuna has a hair dressing business and these days, you can’t just sit at home and let the people work for you and count the cash because the profit margins are not that good. So we can’t afford it to appoint many people, you have to do it yourself. So she has to work super hard. You saw some picture and slides of the harinama tour but the truth of the matter is that she paid for the whole thing! She worked for it, she saved all the money! She, together with her husband Tridasha Raya, sponsored the whole event and they have been driving the whole event. So what actually transpired was much bigger than on the slides; they did it. Of course, she doesn’t know that in Krsna consciousness, when you do something once, you have to do it twice and when you do it twice, then you know, if it is good why not a third time? And when you do it three times, it is a tradition and you can never stop it!
So, I have heard from Padmanabha Goswami in Vrindavan, that the vrajbasi spirit is, “What more do you want?” So like this, we can do so many things. I hope that Jaya Krishna will do many more plays and then we can certainly think of ways to do plays. If you push me hard enough I might even jump in a play myself, one of these days. I have some moments that I do these things, some dramas. I can be dramatic!
Another point which I mentioned earlier this morning, another bullet point that I said this morning is self-reliant. I may also say a self-starter. When they judge someone for the order of sannyasa, one of the first things they look for is to see if the person takes initiatives and if he is creating his own preaching field. And if he is not like creating his own preaching and opening up new areas, then he just doesn’t have the spirit that is required. Some of you know that one of my desires is to see one thousand sannyasis in ISKCON before I die. Of course, I may have to live a thousand years to see that but what to do? That would be nice because it would change the spirit of the movement.
I have also seen many at age fifty, hair growing grey and you know, they are just staying where they are but pancasordhvam vanam vrajet. The vanaprashta ashram IS an ashram and people in ISKCON ignore it. It is the ashram that they don’t like because there is a general misunderstanding about the vanaprashta ashram. The essence of the vanaprashta ashram is not the separation of husband and wife. The essence of the vanaprashta ashram is first pancasordhvam vanam vrajet, at age fifty to dedicate one’s life and all one’s energy to the next life, therefore minimizing involvement with the material energy, and increasing spiritual activity. Srila Prabhupada showed that when he took vanaprashta; that it meant preaching. So one of the ways we can be vanaprashta in modern times is that we can preach. So husband and wife can either separate to an extent or they can be together. That is entirely up to them but let us simplify life and let us then preach. I sometimes see these older grhastas preaching. One good example is Sankarsan Prabhu and his wife. Sankarsan is someone who used to have a travel business. I remember, we could book tickets through him for travels and that is how he maintained his ashram. But at one point, he must have thought, “Why am I just booking all these tickets for others, I can also travel and preach.” Then he went to travel and preach, along with his wife, and he became a powerful preacher. He has made disciples everywhere and he is preaching everywhere. So that is also vanaprashta and it is an ashram that we need. I think ISKCON is incomplete without vanaprashta.
So the vanaprashta ashram is something that I would like all of you to also consider. It is part of life, a phase of life that we should also adopt. Of course, before vanaprashta is the grhasta ashram. First, a real grhasta ashram and it is a challenge to get from mundane relationships to a real grhasta ashram. I did it because I was with my former wife before I came to Krsna consciousness and we transformed our relationship from a mundane relationship into a spiritual relationship and it was quite a change. So in every aspect of the relationship, it was an effort, it was not done in a day.
So I think all of my disciples should be taking initiatives, they should see themselves going through the phases of life, they should look at themselves in the long term and make a plan to increase Krsna consciousness, and make a plan to do something for Prabhupada. I guess, somehow or other, that is what I did. I made a plan. I came here to Radhadesh after many years in India, for a visit and because I had been in India for such a long time, many devotees didn’t know me very well here because the older generation was no longer here.
The new devotees asked me to give a lecture and the verse was all about renunciation, vanaprashta, sannyasa and all that. I remember, I came just the day after a huge marriage in Radhadesh. It was a big, big marriage here. One of those where the whole community got into it and the next morning, I got this verse about renunciation and vanaprashta. I remember that I said, “One should start thinking of sannyasa on the day of the marriage.” Later that day, the management committee had a meeting and were discussing whether I should be allowed to give further classes. I heard that later! Just see! But I think, maybe they didn’t understand… maybe the tone in which I speak has that intensity of my character which sometimes scares people but the message that I speak is not my message! That wasn’t my message, excuse me, that was Srimad Bhagavatam and that is the only way you are going to make the transition. You know what I’m saying? If we don’t meditate on a future, on a greater future, it will never be greater, right? If you don’t think, “I’m going to be greater one day,” and really like think about it, you will never be great.
If you just think, “I’ll be here now and I sort of take Krsna consciousness by the day. I’ll live by the day and take it as it comes,” then your Krsna consciousness will be like that. Therefore, really, we must develop a vision, “Where am I going?” So all of my disciples should ask this question, “Where am I going?” and think about it. That is what I mean by independently thoughtful… Where am I going? Then work, build it up, build up strength and do it. Set an ideal. Alright, sometimes little steps, sometimes a little rest… Fine!
Again, the human side is considered; different natures are there – kapha, pita, vata natures. So each one will do it in their own way but we must have that common vision, we should be very conscious of where we are going and set goals. So we have to think our life through and that is necessary.
You know my disciples are a bit here, a bit there, a bit everywhere. It is not one temple, it is not Hungary – one farm, it is not Chowpatti – one temple where everyone is sort of on the same wave length. It is not like that with all my disciples. They are very different; they speak different languages and have different cultures. Sometimes they may not fully be able to understand each other but I want each of you to be independently thoughtful and think, “Where am I taking my life?” I don’t know where I got it from, but I have always been a thinking person and also in the Hare Krsna movement.
After l left Vrindavan, I went to Amsterdam temple and at the time, the leaders said, “Don’t think! Do as you are told!” It does not work like that, I can’t switch it off. I always think. Immediately, I start thinking, “What kind of leaders are they? What kind of system is this?” What to do? I have that kind of mind. I think, not speculate. I think within what Srila Prabhupada has given, I think, “What can my contribution be?” So I cannot tell each of you what your contribution should be. We are not living in the time where I can give one lecture and say, “We should all make this and this contribution.” Those days are gone but I can at least say, “Please, all think about your contribution!” It must be a contribution which relates to the gifts that Krsna gave you. This morning I spoke about that; Krsna has given everyone a gift and with each gift, he gave a responsibility!
It is tough. Like, I have one quality and I don’t like this quality in myself that I always see everything in the environment around me. For example, you know, I see that there is a heavy flower pot, sitting on an edge and half of it is already over the edge and I see that it is sort of in a dangerous position. A hundred people are walking by they never see it but I see it! I have got to stop thinking of Krsna and say, “What about the flower pot?” Somehow Krsna gave me that so with that, I’m also responsible. I’m responsible for the flower pot because I see the flower pot. I’m responsible for the spider webs because I see the spider webs. I was responsible for the bell in Vrindavan because I used to notice when it was not ringing on time.
So one cannot just think, “That was an interesting point about contribution. I’ll sit here and think about what contribution I can make and I’ll think of something nice.” No, our contribution must take into consideration the gifts that Krsna gave us and all these gifts, we have to use. That is Krsna’s desire; that is why He gave us the gifts in the first place; that is why we have these abilities now.
So when you start to think about this contribution thing, you will find that it is quite an entangling thought process. As I was thinking in that way, I started to think that there are all these things I have to do, I could see. I read Prabhupada’s books and I read on so many pages about sannyasa! I read it and thought, “Do I really have to do this?” But I read it again and again and then I realized, “Yes, I should do it.” But then it’s a lot of work to qualify and I’m still working on that.
So I will not be laboured upon. I am here, I want to be your friend, I consider you all my friends. I want to do something for you, I also want you to do something for me. I think I’ve spelled it out, I want you to make a contribution in your own life by being exemplary and make a contribution for the movement.
I have seen Navayogendra Maharaj who has special sakti and who is from a Kashmiri brahmin family and in Indian circles, has that spirit. Therefore, he has natural guru tattva and every Indian knows it and accepts it. I have seen it on numerous occasions. I drove with him in a car from Vrindavan and suddenly, Maharaj said to the driver, “Stop! There is a man who loaded some luggage on a cow!” and Maharaj jumped out of the car, with his danda, waved his danda and he suddenly turned into a figure of the Bhagavatam who was about ready to curse, and the man who is about to be cursed fell on his knees and begged, “Please!” and Maharaj said, “You make your mother carry all these things. Take it off right now! Put it on your back!” He made the man put it on his back…
Guru all the way and that is his natural karma and position, and he knows it. He gave this big program in India – thousands of wealthy people with big long kurtas, big fancy watches, phones and real gold jewellery everywhere! Maharaj gave this lecture about surrender, about giving everything to Krsna and he made everyone give their things and they gave… They gave their phones, they gave their jewellery and they gave their gold. He cleaned them out for Krsna and so that was wonderful. In that way, we are all individuals. We are all individuals doesn’t mean we are all going to do what we want. We are all individuals means we have all been gifted. We have all been gifted with special talents.
While I speak, I see Manohar (temple president at Radhadesh) and I have always wondered about the lump on his head because often times, in my country at least, they say that it is like a mathematics lump. We have a saying like that. So there is a belief that there is a special genius hidden in it… So I always wonder what it is but I guess that it is humility that manifests in faithfulness which is always there and he is just faithfully chiselling away at the block. Someone who has taken up this big service after King Hrdaya Caitanya, the first.
When I was about to offer initiation to Visvambar, I told Jayadvaita Maharaj because actually once, we were deputed to take the then Nimai with us from Vrindavan to Mayapur so he was sitting in between the two Swamis and that is where it all started. I was telling Jayadvaita Maharaj and he said, “Well, what name will you give him? Call him Hrdaya Caitanya, the second!” Anyway, meanwhile Manohar is having the difficult task of doing this service and he does it on the strength of humility and faithful, unbending dedication and he is already old. Who is ready to be the temple president of Radhadesh? Anyone? I mean no need for a job, no need for a university. You want a family? It is all here. They will give you everything, including an apartment. They will give you a job, a salary. Who is ready to be the temple president of Radhadesh? It is waiting.
Kadamba Kanana Swami is sixty-two, who will be the next one to rock it? You know, the youth of today are chanting all these mellow bhajans. Who will take over? It is all in your hands. Madhukanta is Mr Prasadam cookies. He makes oceans of very tasty cookies. The whole world should get his cookies. So yes, I think you are all really nice people, I thank you all for your enthusiasm, for all your service. So many talents! Like Jalakeli made eyes for Giriraj out of clay. I mean, just out of nothing basically, she grabbed some earth and turned it into eyes. I mean, I could not do such a thing in my dreams. So many talents, so let us use all these talents. I always had an idea that I will go with a large group of devotees to Govardhan and take an enormous Govardhan sila and get some really big eyes, we make big turban and we make a really big puja there. So one day, Jalakeli will have to make the eyes. So many things can be done but at the end of the day, although now we are shortly together, it is not so much about our togetherness because after this is over, we will all go out of the room and will be individuals again.
Tomorrow will be one more day together, jumping around in Amsterdam and then we are back alone but with our own vision of our contribution, if you can take that from this year’s vyasa puja; it counts for disciples, non-disciples, counts for everyone.
Srila Prabhupada ki jay! Srila Jayadvaita Maharaj ki jay!