The Upcoming, Blessed Month of Kartika

Blessed indeed is that soul who, due to some good fortune, can observe the month of Kartika in the most exalted of all holy places, Sri Vrndavana-dhama. This month, known as the month of Damodara, is most auspicious and truly benevolent, for the sukrti obtained by performing devotional activities for the pleasure of the Lords in this month is 1000 times more than in any other time of the year. This month commemorates how mother Yasoda was able to bind the Supreme Personality of Godhead Sri Krsna with the ropes of her love and affection. The same Supreme Lord, who is difficult to attain for Lord Brahma, Lord Siva, and even the Goddess of Fortune, Laksmi devi, was bound by the selfless, pristine parental love of Mother Yasoda. It is in this very month that Vrajendranandana Sri Krsna displayed transcendental fear of his mother and was running from her to escape punishment. After greatly endeavoring and also by receiving the mercy of the Lord, the two ingredients a devotee needs in order to bind Syamasundara, she tied Krsna to a grinding mortar. Sri Krsna later crawled to the twin Yamalarjuna trees growing in the courtyard of Nanda Maharaja, dragging the mortar behind him, and delivered the two sons of Kuvera, namely Nalakuvera and Manigriva. Remembering this beautiful pastime, and hoping to one day be able to bind Damodara with their ropes of love, devotees offer ghee lamps in the evening and sing the beautiful Damodarastakam. This creates a transcendentally surcharged atmosphere in the temple room of Krsna-Balarama Mandira in the land of Vraja, the very place where Sri Yasodanandana manifested these pastimes five thousand years ago. The Lords purpose was to satisfy his pure devotees and to attract the minds of conditioned souls to His pastimes, so they can one day realize their eternal nature as the servants of Sri Krsna (jivera svarupa haya krisnera nitya-dasa).

This month is also known as Urja-vrata. Urja means sakti and refers to Sri Krsna’s internal potency, the personification of which is Vrndavaneswari Sri Radha. Thus She is the predominating deity of this month of Kartika. Glorification of Her transcendental name, fame, form and qualities, is the main vrata to be performed in this month. In this month, Sri Radha and the other sakhis sang the Gopi-gita, which is truly relished by elevated Vaisnavas who aspire for the moods of the young damsels of Vraja, whose love for Krsna is unsurpassed. Foremost among all gopis is Srimati Radhika. Aspiring to be the humble recipients of a single drop of the moods of separation of the gopis and pleading to receive the dust of their lotus feet, the devotees chant the Gopi-gita in the Krishna Hall, after they have sung Damodarastakam.

This Kartika month is truly glorious, not only for the aforementioned reasons but also because many prominent, pleasing pastimes of the Lord were performed in this month. On the first day of the month, Sarad Purnima, the Saradiya raas was performed and the desires of the gopis were fulfilled. In this month, the gopis who had never before attained the direct audience of their worshipable Lord, their very life and soul Sri Krsna, were purified of all the traces of anarthas left in them by the intense heat of separation and were able to fulfill their long cherished heart’s desire to attain their one and only goal, the lotus feet of Sri Krsna.

It was in this month that the demon Aristasura was killed, which led to the appearance of Radhaa-kunda and Syama-kunda, two beautiful kundas at the foot of the great Govardhan Hill. These kunds are lined with jewelled steps, filled with blooming lotus flowers and surrounded by the kunjas of the eight prominent aakhis. In the centre is the kunja of Ananga Manjari, Svanada-sukhada-kunja, where the Divine Couple perform many enchanting pastimes.

In this auspicious month, on Amavasya, Dipavali is celebrated, the festival of lights.It is held in honor of Lord Rama’s long awaited return to his kingdom of Ayodhya, after 14 years of banishment and the war waged between Rama and Ravana. Devotees celebrate this beautiful festival by lighting lamps in all the corners of their houses and discussing the pleasing transcendental pastimes of Lord Rama. The day after Amavasya, Govardhan puja is celebrated. On this day, all the Brijabasis, after stopping their worship of Lord Indra in accordance with the instructions of Syamasundara, worshiped Giriraja-Govardhan, who is celebrated as Hari-dasa-varya, the best of the servants of Sri Hari. Sri Girirajaserves the Divine Couple by providing gently flowing streams, beautiful waterfalls, fragrant forests full of fruits and flowers, and caves suitable for various pastimes. Prior to Krsna lifting Govardhana Hill, All the Brijvasis performed parikrama of the glorious, blessed mountain Govardhan. Following in their footsteps, devotees perform parikrama of Giriraja Maharaja and offer anakuta to the deities. Mother cow is also worshiped on this day.

Other auspicious days celebrated in this month are the disappearance day of Srila Prabhupada, the founder acarya of ISKCON, without whose mercy we would not know anything about this supremely purifying month. A few days after that is Gopastami, the day commemorating Sri Krsna’s going out to graze the cows for the very first time. Many other festivals are also celebrated in this month, enhancing the spiritual mood of this already transcendental realm of Vrndavana.

Devotees from all over the world come to Vrndavana during this month to  become spiritually surcharged so they may  continue their preaching of Krsna Consciousness with vigor. They participate in Vraja-mandala parikrama, krsna-katha, and deep-daan (offering a ghee lamp). They sing of various Vaisnava bhajanas, kirtanas and perform many other devotional activities for the satisfaction of Sri Guru-Gauranga and Krsna. We therefore welcome all of you to come to Vrndavana for the upcoming month of Kartika. 

The Solution to all problems

In this material world, each and every living entity is suffering some sort of misery on account of one’s previous  actions (karma). No matter how much the conditioned living entities endeavor to escape distress , it is impossible for them to do so, as distress is the very nature of this temporary material manifestation. We all try our best to live a peaceful and happy life, yet troubles come uninvited and remind us of the hellish situation that we are in. 

We see, however, that the pure devotees of the Lord are always in bliss. They live peacefully even within the material energy. These great personalities, even though present in this material world, are beyond the jurisdiction of the external energy of the Lord. Rather, they are always immersed in internal mediation upon the Supreme Lord Sri Krsna, the embodiment of all sweetness. The secret to their blissful demeanor and their ability to step on the head of all problems in life lies in the following verse from Sri Caitanya-caritamrta:

kathañcana smṛte yasmin

duṣkaraṁ sukaraṁ bhavet

vismṛte viparītaṁ syāt

śrī-caitanyaṁ namāmi tam

Things that are very difficult to do become easy to execute if one somehow or other simply remembers Lord Caitanya Mahāprabhu. But if one does not remember Him, even easy things become very difficult. To this Lord Caitanya Mahāprabhu I offer my respectful obeisances.

The secret solution to all problems in life is the continuous remembrance of Sacinandana Gaurahari, the most magnanimous worshipful Lord of the Gaudiya Vaisnavas. Because He is the abode of all auspiciousness, no sort of difficulty can remain in His presence, and remembrance of Lord Gauranga brings us closer to Him. How can a person constantly absorbed in thoughts of the son of Jagannath Mishra be affected by any difficulties? Just as the shining sun removes all darkness and the absence of the sun is the cause of darkness, similarly forgetfulness of Sri Gaurasundar is the actual root cause of all distress. What can one expect if he does not remember one’s only well-wisher, Sri Caitanya Mahaprabhu? Therefore, when a person faces any difficulty in life, if he thinks of Sri Gauranga. he is sure to be protected from the detrimental effects of an obstacle and instead, his enthusiasm for spiritual life will increase. 

But why wait for difficult times to call out to Sri Nadiya-bihari Gaurahari?  Remembrance of  Him at all times is the only means of becoming absorbed in eternal transcendental bliss. Merely the endeavor to constantly remember Him will make our lives sublime.

What does it feel being born in a Krsna Conscious family?

“What is it like to be born in a Krsna Conscious family?” This question often arises when I meet new people. It is often followed with, “Is it easier to be Krsna Conscious when you’ve been taught about Krsna from childhood?” or “Do you feel that you weren’t given any choice but to follow in your parents’ footsteps?”.

Answering those questions is never easy. Being born in a devotee family is due to some great fortune, but choosing to truly follow the path of the acaryas in the line of Sriman Mahaprabhu is definitely a matter of choice. Because it is a matter of inner conviction, it is not something that can be forced upon anyone. There is no shortcut to attain pure love for Sri Sri Radha Krsna. The only means is to surrender our complete self to Sri Guru and Gauranga. 

I was born 22 years ago in India, to a French mother and an Indonesian father. I have been raised mainly in France, where I am currently living. My parents provided a very spiritual home environment, even though we lived far from any temple. I was homeschooled but I attended a music school. I had plenty of friends there, although none were devotees. I always thought that outside the house, material life went on and we had to participate in that as necessary, in order function in society, and that home  was a safe space for personal and spiritual growth. 

As a music enthusiast, I have always enjoyed singing and participating in kirtanas, and that’s truly what led me to make the conscious decision, my personal choice, to follow this bhakti path. As I grew older and more troubled by the surrounding world, I started studying the meanings of the bhajanas I used to sing for fun. My heart truly resonated with the songs of our acaryas like Srila Bhaktivinoda Thakura and Srila Narottama Dasa Thakura. Those songs were composed for people like me, so that I could learn to pray and to glorify Krsna in an authentic and bona fide way. 

This is when I discovered the incredible benefits of being born in a Krsna Conscious family. We have the opportunity to save so much time, so much energy, because we don’t have to search for what will satisfy us. From the start we know that material life will only bring us temporary happiness. We already know the answers to so many existential questions such as Who am I? Why are we here? Who is God? What is real happiness?And we have some capacity to balance material and spiritual life naturally, because it’s simply how we were raised. 

I’ve often asked myself how can I properly practice bhakti-yoga without access to temple life, big festivals and congregational chanting as advised in many of our sacred literatures, but I’m trying to work with whatever Krsna gave me, as mentioned in my favorite verse (Srimad-Bhagavatam 10.14.8):

tat te ’nukampam su-samiksamaëo
bhunjana evatma-krtam vipakam
hrd-vag-vapurbhir vidadhan namas te
jiveta yo mukti-pade sa daya-bhak

“My dear Lord, one who earnestly waits for You to bestow Your causeless mercy upon him, all the while patiently suffering the reactions of his past misdeeds and offering You respectful obeisances with his heart, words and body, is surely eligible for liberation, for it has become his rightful claim.”

Srila Rupa Goswami writes in his Sri Upadesamrta that enthusiasm (utsaha), endeavouring with confidence (niscaya) and patience (dhairyat), are qualities necessary to stay and progress on the path of bhakti. Life, in general, is not easy. Whether we are materialists or spiritualists, various kinds of problems and unexpected situations always arise that we have to deal with. But by Srila Prabhupada’s mercy, we have the shelter of ISKCON, a house where the whole world can take shelter and where we are given all the tools to successfully achieve the goal of our life, krsna-prema. Through prasadam, association, holy books, service and lectures, we are able to keep our mind and senses engaged in thoughts of Lord Krsna, regardless of our background, age, race, gender, nationality, etc. It is our personal relationship with Krsna that matters the most, and by the mercy of Vaisnavas we’ll be able to build and strengthen it. 

Today I’m still living with my parents away from temples and devotees, but I remain connected to Krsna through my sadhana, my online work for the Vrindavan Broadcast department, and my service of assisting my parents in their seva of publishing Sri Srimad Gour Govinda Swami’s audios and videos, which gives me a chance to hear more krsna-katha. I’m very grateful for all the wonderful devotees Lord Krsna has allowed me to take association of, and I pray to always be engaged in service to Lord Krsna’s dear devotees.  

Rasika Nyoman

(Graphic designer, Iskcon Vrindavan Broadcast Team)

A Brief Description of Damodarashtakam Verse 1

namāmīśvaraṁ sac-cid-ānanda-rūpaṁ
lasat-kuṇḍalaṁ gokule bhrājamanam
yaśodā-bhiyolūkhalād dhāvamānaṁ
parāmṛṣṭam atyantato drutya gopyā

To the Supreme Lord, whose form is the embodiment of eternal existence, knowledge, and bliss, whose shark-shaped earrings are swinging to and fro, who is beautifully shining in the divine realm of Gokula, who (due to the offense of breaking the pot of yogurt that His mother was churning into butter and then stealing the butter that was kept hanging from a swing) is quickly running from the wooden grinding mortar in fear of mother Yasoda, but who has been caught from behind by her who ran after Him with greater speed – to that Supreme Lord, Sri Damodara, I offer my humble obeisances.

Srila Sanatana Goswami, in his dig darsini tika on Sri Damodarastakam, has given a beautiful purport on these rasa laden slokas composed by Sri Satyavrata Muni. With the first word of this sloka, namami, which is like the mangalacarana, or auspicous invocation, Sri Satyavrata Muni is offering respects to his worshipable Lord Sri Krsna to invoke auspiciousness. Thereafter, with the next word, isvara, he is mentioning the object of his devotion and the subject of his prayers. 

The nature of the Supreme Lord is then explained as sat-cit-ananda, or eternal, full of knowledge and bliss. There are indeed many expansions and manifestations of the Lord who are known as visnu-tattva. All of them are composed of sat-cit-ananda, but the fountainhead of all these expansions is the Supreme Lord Sri Krsna. It is He who Satyavrata Muni refers to here as Isvara .

In the Brahma Samhita also, Lord Brahma says:
isvarah paramah krsnah
sac-cid-ananda-vigrahaha
anadir adir govindaha
sarva-karana-karanam
Krsna who is known as Govinda is the Supreme Godhead. He has an eternal blissful spiritual body. He is the origin of all. He has no other origin and He is the prime cause of all causes.


It is to this Supreme Personality of Godhead that Satyavrata Muni is offering his obeisances. Srila Sanatana Goswami then throws light on how Satyavrata Muni further glorifies the Lord by describing His unparalleled beauty, His holy abode, Gokula, His associates such as Mother Yasoda, and His transcendental pastimes, which steal the hearts of even the greatest yogis. He describes how the beautiful shark shaped earrings on the ears of Damodara swing to and fro and look exceedingly beautiful. It is undoubtedly true that all the forms of the Lord are very beautiful, but none is as captivating as Krsna in Vraja. 

Sri Syamasundara, the Supreme Personality of Godhead, is decorated with 64 qualities, while the other Visnu murtis are said to have 60 qualities. The remaining four qualities, which are unique to Vrajendranandan Syama, are His rupa-madhurya, His venu-madhurya, His lila-madhurya, and His prema-madhurya. Thus it can be understood that baby Krsna, wearing just a string of bells around His waist and otherwise naked, is most enchanting, with His curly locks of hair partially covering His face, and His eyes full of fear of His mother.
The same Supreme Lord, who instils fear in the heart of fear personified, is afraid of His Mother Yashoda because of His offense of breaking the pot of yoghurt that his mother was churning. He then stole that butter, jumped down from the grinding mortar and ran away in fear. This is the sweetness of His enchanting lilas. Nowhere other than in Braja Vrindavan can one have such loving exchanges with the Lord,.  There, the Supreme Lord of the entire spiritual and material worlds is just like a puppet in the hands of His devotees. While running away from His mother, He was caught by her from behind, for she was running faster than He was. The Lord who is not caught by the greatest mystic yogis in their meditations, was thus caught by Mother Yasoda.

Lord Chaitanya Mahaprabhu’s Namahatta

In  Caitanya-bhagavata, Lord  Caitanya Mahaprabhu, the yuga-avatara for kali-yuga,  gave the following orders to His pioneering preachers Sri Nityananda Prabhu and Sri Haridasa Thakura:

suno suno nityananda, suno haridasa

sarvatra amara ajna koroha prakasa

prati ghare ghare giya koro ei bhiksa
bolo krsna, bhaja krsna, koro krsna siksa

O hear Me, hear Me, Nityananda! Hear Me, Haridasa! Simply disseminate My order everywhere. Go from house to house and beg [the residents as follows]: “Speak about Krsna, worship Krsna and teach [others] about Krsna.”

Inspired by these words of Sri Caitanya Mahaprabhu , Iskcon Vrndavana’s nama-hatta program tries to preach as far and wide as possible, with village preaching, congregational preaching and so forth. The nama-hatta department also organises many festivals as well as kirtanas in nearby towns and villages.

Not only Indians but people from all over the world are enrolling themselves in the following preaching activities in Vrindavan.

Nama-hatta team. Everyday, in the  afternoon, the Nama-hatta team leaves for various village, wherethey do nagara-kirtana. The people then gather and devotees from the team give a discourse on Bhagavad-gita. All those who are interested then chant one round of japa. Often, delicious  prasada like handmade bajra- roti, mathaa, and milk are offered and relished by those in attendance.

• Congregation Development. The main focus is to help, through various interactive methods, those who are interested in bringing spirituality into their lives in such a way as to balance the material and spiritual.

• House Programmes are conducted in the homes of interested individuals where the focus of discussions is on how to lead a peaceful and balanced life, by which the spiritual aim of life can be achieved.

• Harinama Sankirtana is performed regularly throughout the sacred streets of Vrndavana, Mathura and other areas of Braja, which adds to the already surcharged, spiritual atmosphere of the land of Krsna.

• Prison Preaching.Special attention is given to giving spiritual education to inmates of local jails so they can be inspired to become an ideal citizen

• Funeral Services. This important service is especially provided to ISKCON devotees whose final rites are performed on the banks of the sacred Yamuna River.

• Rathayatra. This popular annual festival through the ancient streets of the sacred places of Mathura and Vrndavana attracts tens of thousands of participants. Also,  in cities within a 100 kilometre radius, many Rathayatras are held each year.

• ISKCON Disciple Course. This course is conducted every month in Hindi and English. It is essential for those who would like to take initiation from a Vaisnava within ISKCON. 

• Village Preaching. There are over 1,500 villages in the land of Braja and in some of them, regular cultural programmes are held.

Sri Caitanya Mahaprabhu’s method of preaching is simple and yet the most sublime. Love is the weapon He used to conquer everyone. If every devotee experiences  that love is the highest principle, then his or her mind will gradually  become fixed in the path of bhakti and not deviated by the mental wrangling, philosophical speculation, dry renunciation or the desire for fruitive results.

In the world today, there is a great need to reach out to the common man through our congregational programs.. Everyone is suffering, whether they are in the city ,town or village. The fruit of all the devotional activities is a growing inspiration to serve and love Lord Krsna. Srila Prabhupada  and our acaryas have stated that this will only be possible by serving the preaching mission of Sri Caitanya Mahaprabhu and taking the importance of that into our hearts. He is empowering all those devoted to Him to flood this world with the aspiration to attain selfless love. Transcendental love can only be fully experienced when it is unconditional, and we are given an opportunity to develop that by trying to please Him,  preaching everywhere without hesitation and without partiality.

In the future, congregational preaching is certainly going to expand in a massive way, the world over. Many devotees are assisting others in their locality to learn and practice Krsna consciousness. With this personal way of sharing the magnanimous and relishable bhakti in the line of Sri Caitanya Mahaprabhu, people will feel spiritual nourishment. Then, even within that ever-expanding congregation, there will be a supremely relishable mood of harmony and cooperation that will affect the entire community of devotees. 

Vraja Mandala Parikrama

May the beautiful pastime places of the Supreme Personality of Godhead, Sri Krsna, appear within the heart of all those who sincerely read and chant about their glories. The Lord is unlimited and so are His associates and His transcendental pastimes. Describing in detail all the pastimes that occurred in Sri Vrndavana-dhama is impossible even for Lord Ananta-sesa, what can we possibly describe? Yet, remembering and discussing merely a drop of those wonderful pastimes is enough to set sincere sadhakas on the path to deliverance from this contaminated material existence and drown them in an ocean of indescribable transcendental bliss. 

 Madhuvana 

Madhuvana is as sweet as madhu (honey). Madhava is the presiding deity of this forest, where Lord Visnu killed the demon named Madhu and thus became known as Madhusudana. It is in this forest that Dhruva Maharaja, following the instructions of his spiritual master, Narada Muni, performed severe austerities to please Lord Visnu and received His divine audience. 

Another great demon named Madhu, who was blessed by Lord Siva with an invincible trident, came and established his kingdom in this forest after being banished by his father. Due to his demoniac nature and his atrocities, all people feared him. He reigned here for many years. Then, at the time of his death, he handed over his trident to his son Lavanasura. Lavanasura, as demoniac as his father, was a great disturbance to the people. They went to Lord Rama and requested Him to kill Lavanasura. Lord Rama then sent Satrughna, who killed Lavanasura and became the king. The cave of Lavanasura and the deity of Satrughna can still be found in Madhuvana. Later, in Dvarapa-yuga, Lord Krsna came here with His friends to graze their cows and enjoy various sports in this beautiful forest and in the pleasing waters of Madhu-kunda, also known as Krsna-kunda. 

Talavana 

Ignorance of our true spiritual nature and misidentification with this gross material body is the cause of our bondage to this material world full of sorrow. The only one to smash these ties of ignorance is Sri Guru, a representative of Adi Guru, Lord Balarama. This important teaching is found in the famous pastime performed by Balabhadra Prabhu and Krsna in the forest of Talavana, where sweet aromatic tala fruits grew in great abundance. This forest was previously guarded by the demon Dhenukasura so that all the fruits and nectar extracted from those fruits could be enjoyed by Kamsa and his associates. 

Once, when Krsna and the cowherd boys were grazing their cows, they came to this forest. The boys requested Krsna and Balarama to satiate their hunger by feeding them the delicious tala fruits.  Lord Balarama then shook one of the trees and the sweet fruits fell down to the ground. Hearing the sound, Dhenukasura came along with his associates and tried to kill Krsna and Balarama, but was rather killed by Lord Balarama. His associates were then killed by both Krsna and Balarama. In commemoration of this pastime, there is a temple of Baladeva in the forest of Talavana. Balabhadra-kunda is also here. 

Kumudvana 

In this beautiful forest full of Kumudini (lotus) flowers, Sri Krsna performed cow herding pastimes with His friends and played various sports with them. Unseen by them, He would also bathe in Kumudini-kunda with Srimati Radhika, Lalita, Vishakha and other priya-narma-sakhis. 

Nearby are the pastime places of Datiha (where Krsna killed Dantavakra and met the Vrajavasis),  Chattikara, or Skatikara (where, due to the fear of the demons, Nanda Baba and the Vrajavasis made a temporary establishment by arranging their carts in the shape of a crescent moon),) Garud Govinda (where, while playing, Krsna took on the role of Visnu and Sridama became Garuda), Santanu Kunda (where Maharaja Santanu performed austerities), and many other such pastime places. 

We pray to all these pastime places to bestow their mercy upon us all, so that one day we too may be able to serve the Divine Couple in Their pastimes.

Radhastami

devi krsna-mayi prokta
radhika para-devata
sarva-laksmi-mayi sarva-
kantih sammohini para

Caitanya-caritamrta (Adi-lila 4.83)

The transcendental goddess Srimati Radharani is the direct counterpart of Lord Sri Krsna. She is the central figure for all the goddesses of fortune. She possesses all the attractiveness to attract the all-attractive Personality of Godhead. She is the primeval internal potency of the Lord. 

What pious deeds must the Sukla-astami-tithi in the month of Bhadrapada have performed to be blessed with the good fortune of being the appearance day of Srimati Radhika, the original goddess of fortune and the direct counterpart of Sri Krishna? In order to accompany Sri Krishna in his pastimes in this material world, which He performs to attract the conditioned living entities so that they may be able to give up their attachment to this temporary world and relish eternal transcendental bliss in the spiritual realm in service to Radha Syamasundara, Srimati Radhika descended to this earthly planet in Raval, on this most auspicious day.

One day when Sri Vrishabhanu Maharaj, the king of Raval, went to the Yamuna river to take his daily morning bath, he was struck with wonder upon seeing a glorious golden lotus flower endowed with an unearthly beauty and radiating a divine effulgence. Being mesmerized by the transcendental thousand petaled lotus flower, he approached it. Looking inside, he saw a most amazing, gorgeous, delicate, divine baby girl, lying on the flower’s whorl. Since he had been praying to his worshipable Lord, the Sun god, for a daughter he immediately took the baby girl in his lap and accepted her as the blessing of the Sun God. Taking her home, he joyously told his wife, Devi Kirtida, about the incident. They bathed the child with the tears of love that flowed incessantly from their eyes. Oblivious to the fact that they had received as their daughter the original Laksmi, the consort of the Supreme Personality of Godhead, Sri Krishna, they simply thought of her as their very dear child and showered her with all their parental affection. 

Although their happiness was without limit, they were greatly saddened by that their daughter was not opening Her eyes. For this reason, they did not celebrate her birth with the residents of Raval. Narada Muni, however, having anticipated Srimati Radhika’s appearance in this world, soon came to the house of Vrshabhanu Maharaja. After the initial pleasantries, he inquired from Vrshabhanu Maharaja about his children. 

Maharaja Vrshabhanu then called Sridama forward and submitted him to the lotus feet of the sage. Narad Muni was eager to know about their newly born daughter. Because She was being blind, however, they did not inform him about Her. Upon their insistence and repeated requests, he finally told sage Narada about Srimati Radhika. Simply upon hearing about Her filled the heart of Narad Muni with great ecstasy and he asked to see the child. He instructed them to make arrangements for a ceremony that he would perform for Her, and after they left to do so, he worshiped Her with the choicest of prayers. In order to fulfil the desire of the great devotee, Srimati Radhika appeared before him in her kishori form (as a sweet, young girl) and blessed Narada Muni. 

Thereafter, Narada Muni instructed them to arrange for a big festival to celebrate Her birth, to which they were to invite Nanda Maharaja and Krshna. Maharaja Vrishabhanu thus arranged for an elaborate festival, during which Sri Krishna crawled to the cot Sri Radha, and peered inside. Realising that Her dear most beloved was present before Her, she opened Her lotus like eyes and took darsaana of Syamasundara. Seeing this miraculous event, all the Vrajavasis were overjoyed and celebrated the occasion in great ecstasy. In this way, Srimati Radhika appeared in this world to perform pastimes with Syamasundara and attract all the living entities.

In Iskcon Vrindavan, as soon as caturmasya begins, all the devotees eagerly wait for Sri Radastami, the biggest festival of the year, for Srimati Radhika is the most worshipable queen of the hearts of all the Vaisnavas. Janmashtami and other festivals are but the preparation for the real festival which is the holy appearance day of our Pranesvari, the goddess of our lives. On the said glorious day, all the devotees come to take darshan of Her lotus feet, which one can see only on the occasion of Her appearance day and on Gopastami in Karitka. Taking darsana ofHher two lotus feet, which are more cooling than sandalwood paste and are the reservoir of all mercy, the devotees feel great satisfaction. After taking darshan of the Lords at the time of mangalarati, the devotees gather again to take darsana of Sri Radha Syamasundara during darsana arati. The deities, now dressed in a gorgeous new outfit and splendid ornaments are covered in fabulous, fragrant flowers. Sending forth an ocean of mercy with Her doe like eyes, Srimati Radhika smiles sweetly upon seeing all the assembled devotees gathered to celebrate Her appearance day. The devotees listen to discourses glorifying the limitless qualities of Gandharva Sri Radha, which is followed by a blissful abhiseka ceremony, in which their Lordships are bathed with milk, yoghurt, ghee, honey, sugar water and various fruit juices, to the accompaniment of tumultuous kirtana. The Lords are offered a sumptuous bhoga offering comprising innumerable palatable dishes that devotees have prepared with great love and devotion. Each and every preparation is perfectly spiced and tastes delicious. After noon arati, the devotees relish a feast. 

The festivities  do not stop here. The evening brings more celebrations with the deities being offered another new outfit at 4:30. There are cultural presentations that depict the pastimes of Srimati Radhika. The cherry on the cake is the 10 P.M darsaana. The devotees gather for kirtana and receive a very special darsana of the Lords. In this way the festival of Radhastami is celebrated with great enthusiasm by all the Vaisnavas.

On this most auspicious day, we shall pray at the lotus feet of Srimati Radhika to please bestow upon us her causeless mercy and grant us service to her lotus feet, counting us among Her own dear maidservants.

125th Appearance day of Srila Prabhupada

nama-srestham manum api saci-putram atra svarupam
rupam tasyagrajam uru-purim mathurim gostavatim
radha-kundam giri varam aho radhika-madhavasam
prapto yasya prathita-kryapaya sri gurum tam nato ’smi


Sri Mukta-carita (Raghunatha dasa Gosvami)

“I am fully indebted to Sri Gurudeva because has given me so many things: the highest conception of the holy name of Krsna, the highest form of sound, which contains the highest form of thought, aspiration, ideal, everything. And he has given me the service of our great savior, Sri Caitanya Mahaprabhu, and His dear-most assistant, Svarupa Damodara. He has brought me in connection with Sri Rupa, who was ordered to distribute the heart’s innermost dealings, the highest devotional love, raganuga-bhakti. Gurudeva has given me Srila Sanatana Goswami, who gives us sambandha-jnana, a proper acquaintance with the environment, and he has given me Mathura Mandala, which will help me in my remembrance of Radha and Govinda wherever I shall cast my glance. By his grace gurudeva has revealed the super excellent position of Radha-kunda, the favorite place of Radha and Govinda for Their pastimes and this great Govardhana. Lastly, he has given me the hope that one day I can get the service of Sri Sri Radhika and Madhava. I have been given all these assurances by my gurudeva, so I bow my head with all my respects to his lotus feet.”

All glories to Srila Prabhupada, the fountainhead of all Western preaching of Mahaprabhu’s mission. Traveling to the West to preach the glories of the holy names of the Lord, Srila Prabhupada delivered countless fallen conditioned souls by imparting to them the transcendental science of Krishna consciousness. In this way, he fulfilled the following prophecy of Sri Caitanya Mahaprabhu,

pṛthivīte āche yata nagarādi grāma
sarvatra pracāra haibe mora nāma

“In every town and village, the chanting of My name will be heard.”

The glories of Srila Prabhupada are unfathomable. This is particularly appreciated by devotees who have been rescued by him from the ocean of nescience and given an opportunity to make their human form of life successful by taking to the process of Krishna consciousness. It is by his causeless mercy that today, numerous people are practicing krishna-bhakti all over the world and attending temples opened by him and his followers. Indeed, generations upon generations of devotees shall remain forever indebted to Srila Prabhupa for giving them the glorious possibility of going back home, back to Godhead, by associating with Vaisnavas, reading his transcendental books and following his instructions.

saḿsāra-dāvānala-līḍha-loka-
trāṇāya kāruṇya-ghanāghanatvam
prāptasya kalyāṇa-guṇārṇavasya
vande guroḥ śrī-caraṇāravindam

“The spiritual master is receiving benediction from the ocean of mercy. Just as a cloud pours water on a forest fire to extinguish it, so the spiritual master delivers the materially afflicted world by extinguishing the blazing fire of material existence. I offer my respectful obeisances unto the lotus feet of such a spiritual master, who is an ocean of auspicious qualities.”

On this auspicious day of Nandotsava, in the year 1896, the same year Srila Bhaktivinoda Thakur sent the book “Caitanya Mahaprabhu, His Life and Precepts” to the Western world, the great personality was born who would later inundate the entire universe with the chanting of the holy names of Sri Sacinanadan Gaurahari, Srila A. C. Bhaktivedanta Swami Prabhupada appeared in this world for the deliverance of all conditioned souls like us. He is none other than the personification of Sri Krishna’s mercy, come to deliver us from the miseries of this world and take us to the spiritual realm, where we can directly serve the Supreme Personality of Godhead Syamasundara and his eternal consort Srimati Radharani. This day is indeed of utmost importance for all devotees throughout the world, for it was on this day that Srila Prabhupada, the instigator of their good fortune and their future deliverer, took birth. Because of him, we all are aware of the ultimate goal of life and are endeavoring for that. It is he who brought the holy names of Sri Krsna and service Sriman Mahaprabhu to the whole world. He introduced the world to the associates of Sriman Mahaprabhu and to the holy dhamas, where the Lord performed his pastimes. He gave us everything that we need to progress in our spiritual lives and then showed us how to make that progress. By his mercy, we are able to engage in the service of the Lord.

This auspicious day is celebrated with great enthusiasm by devotees all over the world. In Vrindavan, the place Prabhupada referred to as his home, the devotees in his Sri Krsna Balarama Mandira busily engage themselves in his service on this day. 

In honour of his holy appearance day, the Deities are offered a new outfit and a grand gurupuja is held in the courtyard, where the devotees sing the Guru-vandana prayers and offer their respects to Srila Prabhupada, the spiritual master of us all. Thereafter, his beloved disciples describe his innumerable transcendental qualities,and the assembled devotees listen with rapt attention. In the rajbhoga offering, Srila Prabhupad is offered a variety of preparations, including preparations he was known to be particularly fond of, such as  sukta, kachodis, and gulab-jamuns. We then gather to offer him puspanjali , followed by the singing of the Guruvashtakam. 

On this day, devotees beautifully decorate Srila Prabhupada’s house with many gorgeous and colorful flowers, and a bhoga offering is made to Srila Prabhupada there as well. 

After serving and glorifying Srila Prabhupada in this way and maintaining a fast till noon in honor of him, everyone proceeds to the prasadam hall to honor a wonderful feast. The festivities, however, do not end with the prasad. In the evening, glorifications of him continue and a cultural program is then held for his pleasure, in which the devotees gifted with various talents make another kind of beauituful offering to  his lotus feet. In this way, the divine transcendental auspicious appearance day of jagatguru Srila Prabhupada is celebrated with great fervor and zeal by all the devotees in Iskcon Vrindavan.

This year, on the blessed occasion of Srila Prabhupada’s 125th appearance day , we pray to him to grant us service to his lotus feet, so that we may be able to make rapid spiritual progress. Sri Krsna’s pure devotees are particularly dear to him, and Srila Prabhupad, who spread the names, fame, qualities and pastimes of Syamasundara throughout the world, is especially dear to him. By holding tightly to his lotus feet, meaning his illustrious instructions, we will one day attain the spiritual world. Therefore, we pray to him with folded hands:

prati-janme kori āśā caraṇera dhūli

I desire the dust of your holy feet in every birth I may take.

Radhastami

devi krsna-mayi prokta
radhika para-devata
sarva-laksmi-mayi sarva-
kantih sammohini para

Caitanya-caritamrta (Adi-lila 4.83)

The transcendental goddess Srimati Radharani is the direct counterpart of Lord Sri Krsna. She is the central figure for all the goddesses of fortune. She possesses all the attractiveness to attract the all-attractive Personality of Godhead. She is the primeval internal potency of the Lord. 

What pious deeds must the Sukla-astami-tithi in the month of Bhadrapada have performed to be blessed with the good fortune of being the appearance day of Srimati Radhika, the original goddess of fortune and the direct counterpart of Sri Krishna? In order to accompany Sri Krishna in his pastimes in this material world, which He performs to attract the conditioned living entities so that they may be able to give up their attachment to this temporary world and relish eternal transcendental bliss in the spiritual realm in service to Radha Syamasundara, Srimati Radhika descended to this earthly planet in Raval, on this most auspicious day.

One day when Sri Vrishabhanu Maharaj, the king of Raval, went to the Yamuna river to take his daily morning bath, he was struck with wonder upon seeing a glorious golden lotus flower endowed with an unearthly beauty and radiating a divine effulgence. Being mesmerized by the transcendental thousand petaled lotus flower, he approached it. Looking inside, he saw a most amazing, gorgeous, delicate, divine baby girl, lying on the flower’s whorl. Since he had been praying to his worshipable Lord, the Sun god, for a daughter he immediately took the baby girl in his lap and accepted her as the blessing of the Sun God. Taking her home, he joyously told his wife, Devi Kirtida, about the incident. They bathed the child with the tears of love that flowed incessantly from their eyes. Oblivious to the fact that they had received as their daughter the original Laksmi, the consort of the Supreme Personality of Godhead, Sri Krishna, they simply thought of her as their very dear child and showered her with all their parental affection. 

Although their happiness was without limit, they were greatly saddened by that their daughter was not opening Her eyes. For this reason, they did not celebrate her birth with the residents of Raval. Narada Muni, however, having anticipated Srimati Radhika’s appearance in this world, soon came to the house of Vrshabhanu Maharaja. After the initial pleasantries, he inquired from Vrshabhanu Maharaja about his children. 

Maharaja Vrshabhanu then called Sridama forward and submitted him to the lotus feet of the sage. Narad Muni was eager to know about their newly born daughter. Because She was being blind, however, they did not inform him about Her. Upon their insistence and repeated requests, he finally told sage Narada about Srimati Radhika. Simply upon hearing about Her filled the heart of Narad Muni with great ecstasy and he asked to see the child. He instructed them to make arrangements for a ceremony that he would perform for Her, and after they left to do so, he worshiped Her with the choicest of prayers. In order to fulfil the desire of the great devotee, Srimati Radhika appeared before him in her kishori form (as a sweet, young girl) and blessed Narada Muni. 

Thereafter, Narada Muni instructed them to arrange for a big festival to celebrate Her birth, to which they were to invite Nanda Maharaja and Krshna. Maharaja Vrishabhanu thus arranged for an elaborate festival, during which Sri Krishna crawled to the cot Sri Radha, and peered inside. Realising that Her dear most beloved was present before Her, she opened Her lotus like eyes and took darsaana of Syamasundara. Seeing this miraculous event, all the Vrajavasis were overjoyed and celebrated the occasion in great ecstasy. In this way, Srimati Radhika appeared in this world to perform pastimes with Syamasundara and attract all the living entities.

In Iskcon Vrindavan, as soon as caturmasya begins, all the devotees eagerly wait for Sri Radastami, the biggest festival of the year, for Srimati Radhika is the most worshipable queen of the hearts of all the Vaisnavas. Janmashtami and other festivals are but the preparation for the real festival which is the holy appearance day of our Pranesvari, the goddess of our lives. On the said glorious day, all the devotees come to take darshan of Her lotus feet, which one can see only on the occasion of Her appearance day and on Gopastami in Karitka. Taking darsana ofHher two lotus feet, which are more cooling than sandalwood paste and are the reservoir of all mercy, the devotees feel great satisfaction. After taking darshan of the Lords at the time of mangalarati, the devotees gather again to take darsana of Sri Radha Syamasundara during darsana arati. The deities, now dressed in a gorgeous new outfit and splendid ornaments are covered in fabulous, fragrant flowers. Sending forth an ocean of mercy with Her doe like eyes, Srimati Radhika smiles sweetly upon seeing all the assembled devotees gathered to celebrate Her appearance day. The devotees listen to discourses glorifying the limitless qualities of Gandharva Sri Radha, which is followed by a blissful abhiseka ceremony, in which their Lordships are bathed with milk, yoghurt, ghee, honey, sugar water and various fruit juices, to the accompaniment of tumultuous kirtana. The Lords are offered a sumptuous bhoga offering comprising innumerable palatable dishes that devotees have prepared with great love and devotion. Each and every preparation is perfectly spiced and tastes delicious. After noon arati, the devotees relish a feast. 

The festivities  do not stop here. The evening brings more celebrations with the deities being offered another new outfit at 4:30. There are cultural presentations that depict the pastimes of Srimati Radhika. The cherry on the cake is the 10 P.M darsaana. The devotees gather for kirtana and receive a very special darsana of the Lords. In this way the festival of Radhastami is celebrated with great enthusiasm by all the Vaisnavas.

On this most auspicious day, we shall pray at the lotus feet of Srimati Radhika to please bestow upon us her causeless mercy and grant us service to her lotus feet, counting us among Her own dear maidservants.

A heartfelt glorification of Srila Prabhupada

Whenever someone requests me to glorify Srila Prabhupada, I am at a loss.  It seems at least in the English language there are no words or superlatives great enough to describe him.  How does one describe a perfect being; a perfect, pure devotee.  As Srila Prabhupada told us, there are many pure devotees in Vrndavana, you just may not recognize them.  So obviously, there are many levels of pure devotees. 

Descriptions of the saktyavesa-avatara, Srila Prabhupada, who walked among us, cooked for us and, stood in line to take a shower with us, chanted every day until a few wanted to chant with him, laboriously and lovingly translated book after book of the sacred Vaisnava texts, and set out at the age of 67 to travel around the world and gather a motley crew of willing souls who were sincere and enthusiastic and wished to serve.  It seems descriptions of him, this pure devotee, Srila Prabhupada, not only fall short but almost diminish his greatness.

With his smile he could lighten up any room and uplift every heart.  Upone experiencing what it was like to be conquered by one of his smiles, receiving that smile became the goal sought by every devotee.  With his words, an entire lifetime or lifetimes of misconceptions and the influences of impersonalism were instantly washed away.  With a simple nod of his head, hundreds of disciples understood his intentions. This tiny nod would set them in motion to assist him and hasten Lord Caitanya’s sankirtana movement of spreading the holy name to every town and village.

His heartbeat became our heartbeat.  His intensity was sublime yet ever-present, and it was always directed toward spreading Krsna consciousness.  He could piercingly look straight into your heart and find your soul.  Loneliness disappeared.  Boredom no longer existed.  He was trying to infuse in all of us a thirst for Krsna, and gave it to all who were ready for it.  He was hoping to infuse this in all of us because once this becomes the sole purpose of our soul, we will be rightly situated and completely absorbed. 

One of Prabhupada’s extraordinary abilities was to be able to preach according to the other person’s point-of-view.  It was most amazing to watch.   He said that first you must let the other person speak by asking him simple questions about himself.  Everyone is anxiousto tell you what he thinks.  Allow him to do so and he will quickly exhaust his poor fund of knowledge and run out of things to say.

At this point, by using the person’s vocabulary and frame of reference that he has just revealed to you, you can begin with the simple truths of Krsna consciousness and slowly construct a beautiful explanation of possible ways to live a life of a Vaishnava by simply serving the Supreme.  May we all learn this effective, potent, and sublime method of preaching.

I believe another of Srila Prabhupada’s greatest attributes was his transcendental ability to know the hearts of everyone with whom he was in contact.  You might be grappling with some issue, some annoyance, some unanswered question. Either by entering the place where Srila Pra bhupada was or by opening any of his books, the resolution or answer would appear in satisfying detail.

Once a devotee was having darsana with Srila Prabhupada, and Jayananda’s name came up.  This devotee said to Srila Prabhupada, “Jayananda is one of your favorite devotees isn’t he?’ 
Srila Prabhupada turned to the devotee and simply replied, “Jayananda is always thinking of me, so I am always with him.” Just as with Krsna, Prabhupada also sees with equal vision.  He said that Krsna favors no one and no one is His enemy.

When my husband and I first arrived in Vrindaban by tunga (horse drawn cart) in August of 1977, Prabhupada was sequestered in his house due to ill health.  Even so, he was ever-present.  Miraculously, Dhananjaya Prabhu and his wife, Bala Gopala whom we were coming to work with, were standing just inside the gate.  They greeted us warmly and explained it was Banki Bihari’s Jhulana that evening.  So even in the blazing heat and humidity of August in Vrndavana, we decided to walk to that temple, as all vehicles were banned from the streets.  The streets were teeming with sadhus, villagers, visitors, and Brijbasis, all with the same goal: to see and swing Krsna on His golden swing with four golden gopis flanking Him.  

The noise of so many humans talking and singing and laughing as the pilgrims ebbed and swelled through the narrow-cobbled streets was compelling but beyond boisterous.

The crowds grew even tighter as we got closer to our goal.  Brijlata, Dhananjaya’s and Bala Gopala’s daughter, sat on her father’s shoulders out of reach of clamoring hands.  There were moments when the crowds were so packed that our feet no longer touched the ground. We were thus carried along to the main entrance, past the deity and attending golden gopis, and out the side gate.  We were deposited there, to the side. We then regrouped and finally found our way walking in the opposite direction to the onslaught of pilgrims as we wended our way back to our Krsna Balarama home that Srila Prabhupada has given us.  This was Prabhupada’s introduction to Vrindaban for us.  I was thinking I had no idea it was going to be packed this and if this is daily Vrndavana, I was not sure I was going to make it here.

Srila Prabhupada came to this material world to offer Krsna’s shelter.  He is Krsna’s

official representative.  We had all turned away from Krsna and left Him.  “Still, just like a son who has left home for many (perhaps unlimited) years, when reunited with his father, it as if they were never apart.”  Imagine.

Srila Prabhupada came for us to end our confusion, to end our hopelessness, give us ultimate purpose and connect us with our eternal service.  He set our goal; to meet Krsna face-to-face; every one of us.

Step-by-step, Srila Prabhupada meticulously taught us how to live the life of a Vaisnava.  Bathe several times a day, do not eat too much or eat too little, and always take Krsna prasadam.  Learn to curb the urgings of the mind and tongue, including fault-finding.  Always respect one another without seeing any external designations, and remember how special every devotee is.  And so forth. Srila Prabhupada said that he had personally sweat blood to bring each of us to Krsna consciousness.

Just before Srila Prabhupada left entered Radha and Krsna’s eternal pastimes, he told the devotees who were serving him that Krsna had come to visit him and had thanked him for all his selfless service. He inquired from Srila Prabhupada what benediction He could bestow upon him.  Prabhupada told the devotees that he asked Krsna to extend our lives so we would have longer to become Krsna conscious.  Now, we must attend to our business and take each day seriously.  Remember to always be conscious that any breath could be our last. We must have no regrets about wasting our precious time.  Utilize each moment, not in the mode of passion or even goodness, but in aspiring for the transcendental mode.  Srila Prabhupada has taught us we must become cent-percent convinced that Krsna is the Supreme controller, Supreme friend, and Supreme proprietor.  

Prabhupada assures us that if we work for Krsna and if we do that work with love, the Lord will give us a chance to come to Him by the the grace of His saktavesa-avatara, Srila Prabhupada, who has introduced us to Krsna and taught us all that we know.  Many times he said, “Just give one life to Krsna” and “Krsna wants you.”.  We must make it this lifetime as he has arranged that we are already intimately connected with Krsna.  Krsna has made very special arrangements for us by sending his specially empowered representative, Srila Prabhupada, who is personally helping us navigate our path back to Godhead.

harer nama, harer nama, harer nama eva kevalam

kalau nasty-eva, nasty-eva, nasty-eva gatir anyatha

“In this age of quarrel and hypocrisy, the only means of deliverance is the chanting of the holy names of the Lord.  There is no other way.  There is no other way.  There is no other way.”

The 26 qualities of a Vaisnava are clearly present in full in the nature of Srila Prabhupada.  He ultimately will connect with everyone through his books and instructions but also directly by your sincere desire.  For me his two most definitive qualities are:

  • Prabhupada’s absolute fearlessness to speak and represent the truth of Vedic

knowledge and culture in all situations and relationships.            

(2) Prabhupada’s enormous capacity for compassion toward all of us, the fallen conditioned souls of Kali Yuga struggling to become free from our material entanglement.  

Continuously and tirelessly Srila Prabhupada is available to assist any and all of us.  And, all we must do in return is chant Hare Krsna, take Krsna prasadam, and read his books daily.  The connection will be eternal.  He will be pleased with us if we always remember Krsna and never forget Krsna.