Saturday, December 31, 2005

Jaya Sri Radhey!

Mother Kirtida shows baby Radha a picture of Krishna

Picture by an unknown artist. This is something I came across in Vrindavan this last kartika time. If you don't know it already, Radharani is the feminine aspect of God and Krishna's eternal consort. Below is a lecture our Guru Maharaja gave on her appearance day in 1995 in Gadeigiri Orissa. It appeared in issue 110 of our KK Bindu mag.

The Appearance of
Srimati Radharani

Sri Srimad Gour Govinda Swami Maharaja

The Brahma-vaivarta Purana describes that once, in the transcendental abode of Vrindavan, Krishnachandra was sitting on a golden throne under a madhavi creeper. He was thinking of how to further relish the nectarean mellows of his pastimes. Due to this thought, by his mere will, Srimati Radharani appeared from the left side of his body. Radharani’s form was the color of molten gold and was decorated with various ornaments. On her braid was a flower bouquet; on her breast a garland of pearls (mukta mala); and around her waist hung an ornamented belt (mekhala). Beautiful golden earrings adorned her ears, and the anklets (nupura) on her feet produced a tinkling sound.

Radha is the enchanter of Madhava — radha-madhava-mohini. In the rasa dance she gave so much pleasure to him, but still she considered how to give him even more pleasure. As soon as she desired this, immediately innumerable gopis, all looking like Srimati, immediately expanded from her body.

In the Padma Purana, uttara-khanda, Shivaji told Parvati about the appearance of Radha: “Vrishabhanu Maharaja was a great devotee of the Lord. His chaste and devoted wife was named Kirtida. It is from her womb that jagan-mata, the mother of the whole world, Sri Radha, took birth. This auspicious appearance of Brajeswari occurred at noon on the eighth day of the bright fortnight in the month of Bhadrava. Seeing that such a beautiful daughter was born to the king, all the gopa families of Gokul became very joyful. Everyone’s desires were fulfilled. King Vrishabhanu gave immense charity to the brahmanas, vaisnavas, musicians, dancers and poor men.

Sri Sri Radha Gopaljiu in Gadeigiri

“One day, Narada Muni came to the quarters of King Vrishabhanu to have darsana of Radharani. The sage inquired about his and the kingdom’s welfare. In a humble mood, the king replied, ‘Because of your mercy, everything is auspicious. You are such a great sadhu. Wherever you go becomes a tirtha. By your grace, everyone can get hari-bhakti.’

“Saying this, Vrishabhanu Maharaja placed his daughter, whose eyes were still closed, on the lap of Narada Muni. By the touch of Radharani, the sage became ecstatic, the hairs on his body stood on end, and tears like torrential rain flowed from his eyes. In his heart, Narada Muni began to offer prayers to the little girl.

“’You are hari-priya, dear to Lord Hari; mahabhava-svarupa, the personification of the highest love; govinda-mohini, the enchanter of Govinda; krsna-prana-rupa, the life and soul of Krishna; ananda-svarupa, the very embodiment of bliss. You are bhakti and tapa. All of the demigods headed by Brahma and Shiva meditate on your lotus feet. All of Krishna’s consorts such as the gopis, the queens in Dwarka, and even Mahalakshmi are plenary portions of you. Throughout the universe you are known as adi-sakti, the original potency.’

“Hearing the prayers of Narada Muni, Radharani mercifully showed her form to him. The muni beheld a vision of Radhika seated upon a throne studded with divine gems, under the shade of a wish-fulfilling tree. Innumerable sakhis, some fanning her, some waving camaras, and others holding a white umbrella over her head, surrounded her. Brajeswari’s body was covered with beautiful transcendental garments. Her forehead was decorated with designs drawn with sindhura and a glow emanated from her body. By her mercy, Radharani revealed this beautiful form to Narada Muni, and he alone could see it.

“All the while, Radhika, in the form of a baby, was lying on the lap of Narada Muni. Narada Muni returned the child to her father, seated with his queen before the great rsi. The sage said, ‘You are most fortunate, maha-bhagyavan, because you have such a wonderful daughter. Kamala, Parvati, Arundhati, Sachi, Satyabhama — are all just plenary portions or portions of plenary portions of Radharani. No one is as dear to Lord Hari as she. Because of your daughter, all of Gokul will be filled with opulence. Do not feel sorry that you have a girl. Because of her, your glory will spread far and wide.’

Srila Gour Govinda Swami's
palm leaf Oriya Bhagavatam

“With folded hands, King Vrishabhanu asked, ‘Who will be her husband?’ The great sage replied, ‘She will be the wife of the supreme purusa. And in the course of time her eyes will open.’ Saying this, Narada Muni left.”

After hearing this account, Parvati inquired of Shivaji, “Why were Radharani’s eyes not open?”

Shivaji said: “O Devi, this is another wonderful story. When Lord Hari wanted to descend to this material world, he called Radha and said, ‘You, too, will take birth there with me. We will manifest wonderful lilas together.’

“Then Radha said, ‘O my dear lotus-eyed Hari, if I take birth in the material world I will be so distressed. How can I bear to see other men? I only want to see you. I refuse to look upon the form of another.’

Krishna said, ‘O Devi, please do not feel such anxiety. Your desire will be fulfilled.’

Srila Prabhupada and disciples walk in Mayapur
Srila Gour Govinda Swami is just behind Prabhupada

“Lord Hari took birth as the son of Nanda Maharaja in order to protect the sadhus – sadhu raksa kare. Radha took birth from the womb of Kirtida as the daughter of Vrishabhanu.

“Because of the birth of the divine couple, the whole universe became exuberant. But Radha’s eyes were not open. Seeing this, Kirtida Maharani was alarmed.”

Parvati then inquired, “Please tell me how Radharani opened her eyes.”

Shivaji said, “I will tell you. Simply by hearing this account one receives transcendental happiness.

“King Vrishabhanu held a great festival on the auspicious occasion of his daughter’s birth. He invited all the cowherd men and women, extending a special invitation to Nanda Maharaja and Yashodarani. Nanda Maharaja and his wife arrived at the palace of King Vrishabhanu by bullock cart.

Srila Gour Govinda Swami at
Gopal's temple in Gadeigiri Orissa

“Maharaja Vrishabhanu welcomed Nanda Maharaja, embracing him. Kirtida welcomed Yasoda-mata, embracing her.

“The magnificent festival continued; all different kinds of instruments were played — kettle-drums, bugles, violins, vina, etc. Meanwhile, in the inner quarters of the palace, Sri Radha was sleeping in her cradle. Lord Hari, who is the antaryami, supersoul in the hearts of all living entities knew this.

“Unnoticed by anyone, baby Krishna went to Radharani. Seeing the face of his consort, KrishnaKrishna, she immediately opened her eyes and saw his face. They had eye to eye union, Radha and Krishna. Both of them were very, very blissful. smiled, laughing in his mind. Then, he put his lotus palm over her eyes. As soon as she felt the touch of

“At that time, Kirtida came there and saw what had happened. Taking the baby girl onto her lap, she happily exclaimed, ‘Krishna gave eyes to Radha. Therefore this girl will be very dear to Krishna.’ Hearing this, Mother Yasoda’s heart was filled with joy.”

This is the inconceivable lila of Krishna. By the mercy of Hari and guru it is described in Brahma-vaivarta Purana and Padma Purana.

Srimati radharani ki jaya!
Kana-mana-mohini radharani ki jaya!
Vrndavana-vilasini radharani ki jaya!
Asta-sakhi-siromani radharani ki jaya!
Vrsabhanu nandini srimati radharani ki jaya!

Ethics and Devotion (Long article)

Srila Thakur Bhaktivinode
in his magistrate dress

Ethics & Devotion

By Madhavananda Das

Below is a lecture we gave about the teachings of Srila Thakur Bhaktivinode (pictured above) before The National Seminar on Values and Ethics in Business, Utkal University, Bhubaneswar, Orissa, India, on April 20, 2000. It later appeared (in the below edited form) in the May/June 2001 issue of Back To Godhead magazine

BEFORE COMING here today I was considering how it is that a group of professors and professional businessmen would invite a shaven-headed renunciant dressed in simple dhoti and kurta, with no money of his own and no business experience, to be the chairman of the first session of this seminar. Why would you spend your valuable time unless there was some practical and profitable reason? You must be considering that the spiritual conception of ethics has practical value in today’s business world. Here we’ll discuss the spiritual conception of ethics from a most practical perspective, as presented by the famous son of Orissa Srila Bhaktivinode Thakur.

Bhaktivinode Thakur (1838–1914) was the great theologian who first presented the teachings of Chaitanya Mahaprabhu in a modern context. His pioneering efforts have manifested today as the Hare Krishna movement, which is being spread worldwide by ISKCON, or the International Society for Krishna Consciousness. In a discussion on ethics it is significant to analyze the work of ISKCON. The cultural and philosophical teachings of ISKCON have inspired millions of people all over the world to reject immoral behavior and embrace a saintly way of life.

Ethical Systems

The term ethics refers to the systems of moral behavior accepted by individuals or groups. Different mature individuals will have different conceptions of what kinds of behavior are right and what kinds are wrong. Such conceptions of right and wrong define different ethical systems. As leaders of society we need to know which ethical systems are valuable in a progressive society and which are not, and those which are valuable should be promoted. Bhaktivinode Thakur has offered a scientific conception of ethics and morality based on the Vedic literature, which states that a truly progressive society is one that discourages its members from exploiting others.

Societies that adopt ethical systems based on materialistic conceptions cannot be progressive because they cannot be free of exploitation. To establish this, Bhaktivinode has described four categories of materialists:

(1) Those who have no ethics and no faith in God: immoral materialists.

(2) Those with ethics but no faith in God: non-theistic moralists.

(3) Those with ethics based on faith in God, but who give more importance to morality than they do to God: theistic moralists.

(4) Those who engage in immoral behavior while posing as theists: pretenders.

Immoral Materialists

Those who follow no ethical system are the lowest of human beings. They are the primitive peoples and the hedonistic modern man. Indeed, such human beings are on the same level as animals. Bhaktivinode describes the attitude of the hedonists: “They consider that this variegated universe is simply a chance combination of atoms and molecules with no creator. Any belief in God or the soul is simply blind faith and gross superstition. As we only live once, a person should try to enjoy as much as possible.”

With his far-seeing vision, Bhaktivinode Thakur perfectly described the popular idea embraced by many today that life is simply a chance combination of chemicals with no intrinsic purpose. With such a conception there is no particular need to honor or respect others. Is it any wonder that a great ethical crisis has risen and sprouted into an increase of violent crimes and corruption?

Non-Theistic Materialists

Next, Bhaktivinode describes that higher than the immoral materialists are the non-theistic moralists who accept some ethical system but are not concerned with God. Describing the view of the non-theistic moralists, he has written:

Being more intelligent, the moralist can easily defeat the immoral materialist. He says: “Oh brother, I respect what you say but I cannot accept your self-motivated actions. They are not at all good. You are seeking out happiness in life, but without morals how can there be happiness? Do not think that your life is everything! Consider society as well. Rules which can increase the happiness of the human being in society are advisable. That is called morality. Gaining happiness through morality makes man superior to animals. It is necessary for man to accept individual suffering where it will give happiness to society. That is called selfless morality, and it is the only path for man. You must cultivate all the positive sentiments such as love, friendship and compassion in order to increase the over-all happiness of society. By doing this, violence, hatred and other evil tendencies will not be able to contaminate the heart. Universal love is universal happiness. Take up ways of increasing this happiness.” Positivists such as Compte and Mill, Socialists such as Herbert Spencer, as well as lay Buddhists and Atheists firmly believe this philosophy.

The non-theistic moralists are superior to the immoral materialists, but they are still selfishly motivated. Although they follow the ethical and moral rules of society, they do so to avoid public censure, imprisonment, or execution. A businessman may adopt ethical principles just to ensure plentiful customers, or a politician may accept ethical principles to attract followers. This is a more intelligent position than that of the immoral materialist, as there is concern for long-term enjoyment rather than just immediate gratification. However, since there is still an underlying selfishness, a non-theistic moralist is likely to exploit others as soon as he or she thinks there will be no adverse reaction.

Included in this category are the mundane philanthropists who engage in work for the physical, mental, or emotional well-being of others. Because they are unable to appreciate the objects of their compassion as anything more than dull chemicals, the “good deeds” of such “selfless” moral materialists are invariably motivated for their own enjoyment, either subtle or gross. In actuality their “selflessness” is only a facade, for their actions are motivated by the desire to have the satisfaction of thinking of themselves as, or being well known as, greatly pious persons.

The Scorpion And The Camel

The ethics of the non-theistic moralists are compared to those of the scorpion who once requested a favor from a camel. The scorpion wanted to cross a deep river but could not find any way to do so. Seeing a camel nearby, the scorpion approached him and asked the camel to carry him across. The camel refused, saying, “You will sting me.”

“No, no. I am an ethical scorpion. I promise I won’t sting you.”

The camel agreed and, taking the scorpion on his hump, began crossing the river. Halfway across, the scorpion suddenly stung the camel.

“Why did you do that?” the camel asked. “Now we will both die.”

“What can I say?” the scorpion replied. “It’s my nature.”

Similarly, although the non-theistic moralists try to live an ethical life, because their concept of the meaning of life is limited to dull matter any ethical behavior they adopt is selfishly motivated and quickly discarded.

Although they speak about universal love and brotherhood, the non-theistic moralists, like their immoral brothers, are unable to appreciate others as anything more than dull matter. Their perception is limited to the external body, and the relationships they form with others are similarly skin-deep — shallow, short-lived, and ultimately prone towards exploitation. Since they identify themselves as temporary matter, there is no reason for them to perform truly selfless acts. The best social message the non-theistic moralists can offer is, “You are just a bag of chemicals and molecules that somehow just appeared and has no intrinsic meaning. Other persons are also only bags of chemicals and molecules—but you should be nice to them.”

The natural reply will be, “Why should I be nice?”

“Because it’s the good thing to do, and if you don’t you’ll go to jail.”

Since the basic motivation of the ethical behavior of atheists is to avoid public censure, is it any surprise that as soon as they think they have an opportunity to gain some illicit advantage without getting caught they will do so?


More fixed in ethical conduct and hence superior to the non-theistic moralist is the theist. The theist is dissatisfied with the mechanistic concept of life offered by the non-theist. Bhaktivinode describes the thinking of the theist as follows:

If consciousness arises by some special process through combination of atoms, there should be some evidence of this somewhere in the universe. There should be some example of this in human history. Man is produced from the womb of a mother. Nowhere is any other process observed. In spite of the growth of material science, nothing otherwise has yet been observed. Someone may argue that man has arisen by a chance combination of matter, and later man has adopted this particular process of birth from the womb. However, the succeeding events should be similar to the first event. Even now we should observe at least a few conscious entities arising by chance combination of matter. Therefore it can only be logically concluded that the first mother and father must have arisen from the supreme consciousness.

When the materialist becomes dissatisfied with the mechanistic idea that consciousness is simply a chance combination of chemicals, and thereby concludes that life must be something anti-material or spiritual, he comes to the platform of theism.

Bhaktivinode points out many ways in which belief in God contributes to moral conduct:

(1) Even is someone has a strong sense of moral values, still the senses are often so strong that even great moralists are defeated. If the opportunity arises to enjoy immorally in secret, belief in God will act as a preventative measure. God can see what man cannot. One who thinks like that will be unable to secretly perform acts contrary to morality.

(2) Everyone will accept that faith in God produces a greater tendency to perform pious acts than morality alone.

(3) If God exists, then by faith in Him so much is gained. If He does not exist, believing in Him is harmless. On the other hand, if God does exist, to not have faith in Him is harmful.

(4) By belief in God, the tendency toward righteousness grows quickly in the mind.

(5) By faith in God, compassion and tolerance become stronger.

(6) By belief in God, one is more eager to perform selfless action.

(7) By belief in God, acceptance of afterlife arises, and man cannot be disappointed by any event in life.

Morality More Important

Bhaktivinode states that among the theists, most are materialistic. He describes a group called the theistic moralists who worship God with some degree of faith, but who give more importance to their conception of morality than they do to God. Some of them believe there is no harm in imagining a God, worshiping him with faith, and then abandoning that worship when good conduct is achieved. Others believe that by performing worship of the Lord and acting ethically, the Lord will be pleased and will grant one’s material desires.

Either subtly or grossly, the worship of the theistic moralists is selfishly motivated. Although they consider themselves worshipers of God, they are not much interested in God’s form, personality, activities, or desires, but instead are interested only in what they can gain through worshiping Him.

Bhaktivinode compares the relationship between the theistic moralists and God to the temporary meeting of travelers at an inn. When morning comes and the travelers leave for their separate destinations, the relationship is forgotten. Theistic moralists worship the Lord not out of devotion but simply because they think it to be the proper thing to do, which will result in their happiness.

Being motivated in this way, materialistic theistic moralists are still in the realm of selfishness. Although they conceive of their ethical behavior as being harmless to others, because they are not on the platform of spiritual vision they are unable to maintain impartial dealings and will inevitably fall prey to exploiting others.

In describing different types of activities aimed at human welfare, Bhaktivinode has stated in his Sajjana Toshani magazine: “Showing kindness to the soul is the best welfare work of all. By such kindness one attempts to save a person from all worldly sufferings by giving him devotion to Lord Krishna.”

Because the theistic moralists are not functioning on the spiritual platform, their ethical systems will never be able to alleviate all the worldly sufferings of the living entities; hence they are unable to completely serve society. They will always fall prey to narrow biases based on bodily, social, or religious differences. In actuality, their relationship with others is much like their relationship with God: as superficial as travelers meeting at an inn.

Although there is some partial social benefit from the ethics of the theistic moralists, because there is no spiritual bliss in the mechanical worship they perform there is every chance that they will either give up their theism or else adopt the ways of the cheating pretender.


The next class are those who engage in immoral behavior while posing as theists. Bhaktivinode has described them as pretenders. He says:

Although the pretenders do not accept the eternal nature of devotion, they wear the dress and markings of a believer. They have their own motives, which any honest person would decry. Cheating everyone, they pave the way for a world of sin. Undiscerning people, allured by their external appearance, take up the same path and end up rejecting God. They may have beautiful tilaka, devotional dress, chant the name of Krishna, appear detached from the world, and give attractive speeches, but secretly they harbor desire for wealth and women. Many such persons exist.

Bhaktivinode has compared such pretenders to the cat and the crane. Once some mice came and said, “Have you heard the news? The cat has become a saint. He is now wearing tilaka and neck beads. He is chanting and has become a vegetarian.” Thinking in this way, the mice gave up their fear of the cat. But when the mice started to come nearby, the cat gave up his pretense and pounced on them.

Similarly, the crane stands motionless on one foot for hours at a time, and thus looks like a great yogi. His real motivation, though, is to catch fish. As soon as a fish comes near, he abandons his saintly demeanor and gobbles it up.

Bhaktivinode has said, “There is no worse association in the world than such pretenders. It is better to associate with immoral atheists than to associate with them. … Only if one gives up the association of crooked hypocrites can he honestly engage in devotional service. Honest worship is the only way to attain Krishna's mercy.”

By presenting themselves as saintly and concerned for others, the pretenders sometimes gain positions of trust and responsibility in even spiritually-minded societies. But because their real motivation is to exploit others to satisfy their own subtle or gross pleasures, they are the worst enemies of society.

The Devotees

Devotees who are situated on the platform of pure love of God see their beloved Lord everywhere and see everything, moving and non-moving, in connection with God. From such a platform, to offer respect to all living entities regardless of material bodily designations is quite natural and genuine, and thus on this platform alone can one be free from the propensity to exploit others.

The Bhagavata Purana explains that even though one may follow religious ethics for some time, without genuine devotion to the Lord the subtle desires in the heart, which are the roots of immoral tendencies, are not destroyed and will rise again. Only pure devotion can remove all immoral tendencies. This is described in the Bhagavata:

kecit kevalayA bhaktyA vAsudeva-parAyaNAH aghaM dhunvanti kArtsnyena nIhAram iva bhAskaraH

“Only a rare person who has adopted complete, unalloyed devotional service to the Supreme Lord Vasudeva, Krishna, can uproot the weeds of sinful actions with no possibility that they will revive. He can do this simply by discharging devotional service, just as the sun can immediately dissipate fog by its rays.”

Moral Behavior?

One problem arises in our discussion of morality. Sometimes, understanding the moral behavior of devotees is difficult. A good example is the activities of Krishna's most exalted devotees, the gopis of Vrindavan, who would leave their homes and husbands in the middle of the night to meet with Krishna. To accept such behavior as saintly is difficult for many persons. On several occasions Srila Prabhupada described the apparent contradiction between morality and the behavior of the gopis:

Any activities that are spiritual are all-good, and any activities that are material are all-bad. This is the difference between spiritual and material. The so-called morality and goodness of the material world is bad, but in the spiritual world even so-called immorality is good. This we must understand. For example, to dance with the wives of others at the dead of night is immoral, at least according to the Vedic civilization. Even today in India, a young woman will never be allowed to go to a young man at the dead of night to dance with him. But we find in Srimad Bhagavatam that as soon as the gopis, the young cowherd girls of Vrindavan, heard Krishna's flute, they immediately came to dance with Him. Now according to material conceptions this is immoral, but from the spiritual point of view this is in accord with the greatest morality. Chaitanya Mahaprabhu therefore said, ramyA kAcid upAsanA vraja-vadhU-vargeNa yA kal-pitA: “There is no better mode of worship than that which was conceived by the vraja-vadhus, the damsels of Vrindavan.”

The gopis superficially seem to transgress the codes of mundane morality. This perpetually puzzles mundane moralists. … The reason the Lord displays the rasa-lila is essentially to induce all the fallen souls to give up their diseased morality and religiosity, and to attract them to the kingdom of God to enjoy the reality. A person who actually understands what the rasa-lila is will certainly hate to indulge in mundane sex life. For the realized soul, hearing the Lord’s rasa-lila through the proper channel will result in complete abstinence from material sexual pleasure.

Our standard of morality and immorality is to see whether Krishna is satisfied. If Krishna is satisfied, then it is morality. If Krishna is dissatisfied, then it is immoral.


According to Bhaktivinode, the best ethical system is that which is based on the awareness that all others are part of the Supreme Lord and meant to give pleasure to Him alone. Any system that gives prominence to the fulfillment of one’s own selfish desires will ultimately be exploitative and thus harmful to the progress of society.

These are some of the practical teachings of Bhaktivinode Thakur on the topic of ethics. I hope that the respected and learned persons of this assembly will consider them deeply.


Vishnupriya’s Japa

Vishnupriya Devi was 14 years old when the Lord left home and took sannyasa. After the Lord left, it is said that with the exception of taking bath daily in the Ganga along with Mother Sachi, Vishnupriya always remained within the house. When devotees went there to take prasadam, they would only see Vishnupriya’s feet. Never did they see her face, nor hear her voice. A constant flow of tears continually streamed from her eyes. She ate only the remnants of food left by Mother Sachi, and constantly chanted the holy name. She worshiped a deity of Lord Gauranga‚ and offered service to it with great love and devotion. After the departure of Sachi Devi, her brother acted as her guardian.

Srila Narahari Chakravarti describes Vishnupriya’s suffering in separation from the Lord in his Bhakti-ratnakara (4.48-51) as follows: “Due to separation from the Lord, Vishnupriya lay on the floor with wide-open eyes, seldom able to sleep, and her bright golden complexion grew pale. She gradually became extremely thin, like the moon on the fourteenth day of the dark fortnight. While chanting the holy name, she collected a few grains of rice, which she cooked and ate. No one knew how she maintained her life.”

— Adapted from Srila Narahari Chakravarti’s Sri Bhakti-ratnakara and Bhakti Rakshak Sridhar Maharaja's Sermons from the Guardian of Devotion.

[This was an excerpt from issue no 9 of our printed mag. I like this picture very much]

Friday, December 30, 2005

My Mum in Mayapur

A week ago I wrote the following text to my mother describing this blog site:

This is just a start. I intend to add regular articles. Exciting expose coming soon: "Our Abused Childhood and the Unspeakable Things Mum did to us"

Your wicked son, Mark
PS: I forgot about your curlers photo in Bangalore! -- Posting soon.

My mother and I have a very close relationship, and to be honest she didn't actually do unspeakable things to us in our childhood. (Well, ... not too many things) I just spoke that way, to help keep her on her toes. Also, no one need fear. Out of concern for all of you, I won't post the curlers photo. I don't want to risk putting any of our readers into shock.

She wrote back to me the following humble comments:

I liked the photo of you and your Mum best. She looks like a very
intelligent, beautiful woman. You are so lucky to have her for a Mum.

Actually, she is right -- I am lucky to have such an intelligent and beautiful lady for a mother. (I should have posted this before she did her Christmas shopping) The poor lady has been traumatized by all of the years of having a son in the Hare Krishna movement.

The above photos are from her visit to India last year. The top one is her at the Mayapur Goshala terrorizing the cows. The bottom one was taken in Katwa West Bengal. She is sitting in the car patiently waiting while her son was doing some research at the temple marking the place where Sri Chaitanya Mahaprabhu took sannyasa. As you can see from the picture, she made friends with some of the local ladies.

The Dangers of Reading Srimad Bhagavatam

Picture: Vyasa compiles the Bhagavatam

Below is an excerpt from an article we are working on for our next printed magazine. The diacritics are given in Harvard Kyoto style:

ZaGke nItAH sapadi daZama-skandha-padyAvalInAM
varNAH karNAdhvani pathi katAmAnupurvyAd bhavadbhiH
haMho dimbhAH parama-ZubhadAn hanta dharmArtha-kAmAn
yad garhantaH sukhamayam amI mokSam apy AkSipanti

You foolish children! It seems that you have gone and let the syllables of the tenth canto’s verses enter the pathways of your ears. Why else would you show such horror for those most auspicious goals of duty, success and pleasure, and deride that supremely blissful state of liberation? (Bhakti-rasAmRta-sindhu 1.2.240)


Srila Jiva Goswami comments that the above verse praises the BhAgavatam by using what is known as a “vyAja-stuti”, where one pretends to be criticizing something, but is in fact praising it. A literary style is used here known as: aprastuta praZaMsA — or a figure of speech which, by describing what is not the subject matter (aprastuta) conveys a reference to the intended subject. When irrelevant or incidental things are said in connection with any relevant topic, it is called aprastuta praZaMsA alaGkAra — a rhetorical figure of speech.

The previous verse (1.2.239 of Bhakti-rasAmRta-sindhu) instructs that if one wants to enjoy mundane relationships in this world they should not see Lord Govinda on the banks of the Yamuna at Kesi-ghat. The real intention of the verse is not to dissuade one from seeing Krishna; its purpose is to glorify Krishna’s form and the far greater happiness obtained by seeing it. In a similar way, text 240 describes the first three goals of life as “most auspicious” and liberation as “supremely blissful”, while it addresses one who reads or listens to the tenth canto as being “a child” or “unintelligent”. However, the real point is to indicate the supreme importance of reading or listening to the tenth canto of the BhAgavatam. Thus in both of these verses, the seeming criticisms actually offer a kind of ironical praise.

[The mag article will also include excerpts from the commentaries of Mukunda Das Goswami (a famous disciple of Srila Krishnadas Kaviraj Goswami) and Srila Vishwanath Chakravarti Thakur. -- MD]

The Truth About Coke

Interesting article exposing the health hazards of soft drinks and coke in particular. Try either of the below links:

Thursday, December 29, 2005

Close ups of Bhaktivinode's Original Deities of Sri Sri Radha Madhava

The Reappearance of Sri Sri Radha-Madhava

The discovery of the ancestral deities of Srila Bhaktivinoda Thakura.

By Bhaktarupa Dasa

FIVE HUNDRED years ago when Lord Sri Caitanya Mahaprabhu launched the sankirtana movement of the congregational chanting of the holy names of the Lord, He commissioned His closest associates to spread the movement everywhere. On the order of Caitanya Mahaprabhu, Nityananda Prabhu traveled extensively throughout Bengal, humbly begging everyone He met to chant the holy names and worship Sri Sri Radha-Krsna. Many Bengalis surrendered at His lotus feet, becoming His disciples and adopting the Gaudiya Vaisnava way of life. Among these disciples was Krishnananda Dutta, a wealthy landowner residing in Ulberia, not far from present-day Calcutta.

Krishnananda Dutta worshiped deities of Sri Sri Radha-Madhava in his home in Ulberia until his retirement from family affairs. Then, taking the deities with him, he moved to the holy place Puri, Orissa, home of the famous temple of Lord Jagannatha. In Puri, Krishnananda lived a pious and simple life, not speaking to anyone, but chanting the Hare Krsna maha-mantra the whole day and night and worshiping Sri Sri Radha-Madhava. After living in Puri for some time, he met the feudal king of Ali State, about two hundred kilometers from Puri. Impressed with Krishnananda’s spiritual qualities, the king invited him to live in his state, where he donated an entire village, named Choti (formerly called Choti Mangalpur), to the worship of Sri Sri Radha-Madhava.

The descendants of Krishnananda Dutta worshiped Sri Sri Radha-Madhava in Choti from generation to generation. Eventually the worship passed into the hands of his descendent Kedaranath Dutta (1838–1914), who is well-known to all Gaudiya Vaisnavas as Srila Bhaktivinoda Thakura, the great saint who was the first to present the teachings of Caitanya Mahaprabhu in a modern context.

Srila Bhaktivinoda Thakura wrote hundreds of songs glorifying the Supreme Lord in Bengali, Sanskrit, and Brajaboli (a dialect that combines Bengali, Sanskrit, and Oriya). His songs capture the essence of Gaudiya Vaisnava philosophy. One, Jaya Radha-Madhava, was a favorite of Srila A. C. Bhaktivedanta Swami Prabhupada, who would sing it every day just before his public lectures. This song paints a beautiful picture of the pastimes of Srila Bhaktivinoda Thakura’s beloved deities Sri Sri Radha-Madhava.

After the departure of Srila Bhaktivinoda Thakura, the worship of Sri Sri Radha-Madhava was handed down to his son, Bimala Prasad Dutta, also known as Srila Bhaktisiddhanta Sarasvati Thakura, the spiritual master of Srila Prabhupada. Because Srila Bhaktisiddhanta was a lifelong celibate and a dedicated traveling preacher, whenever he would visit Choti he would not enter into his ancestral home there; he would visit the temple of Sri Sri Radha-Madhava and stay in the nearby Dassahera Mandap.

Unfortunately, after Srila Bhaktisiddhanta’s departure from this world the worship became neglected. A neighboring family schemed to lay their own claim on the lands belonging to the deities and secretly moved the deities to another village. This family claimed that the deities had become broken and thus, according to traditional practice, had to be submerged in the nearby Birupa River.

In the terminology of Gaudiya Vaisnavas, the native place of a great saint is called a sripat, and such places are considered worshipable by all the followers of the saint. But just as the village of Choti was deprived for five decades of seeing its proprietors, Sri Sri Radha-Madhava, the village—the native place of Srila Bhaktivinoda Thakura and Srila Bhaktisiddhanta Thakura—became all but forgotten by the spiritual descendants of these two great saints during that time. Now, though, ISKCON devotees from Bhubaneswar sometimes perform sankirtana in Choti.

Dedicated Researcher

Fortunately for us all, Bhaktivinoda Thakura left information about his connection with Choti in his autobiography. Dr. Fakir Mohan Das, a research scholar and professor at Utkal University in Bhubaneswar, and one of Bhaktivinoda Thakura’s spiritual descendants, came across this information. Starting in 1982, Dr. Das visited Choti whenever he had the opportunity, and through painstaking research he eventually uncovered and published the facts about the history of the place for the benefit of the Gaudiya Vaisnava community. But the challenge of reestablishing the worship of Sri Sri Radha-Madhava in Choti remained.

Dr. Das was never fully satisfied with the story of how the deities had been submerged in the river, and he continued to make inquiries. Finally, in January 2000, after nearly twenty years of searching, he found Sri Sri Radha-Madhava in the house of a brahmana, Sri Duryodhana Dwivedi, where They had been secretly moved in about 1950. Sri Dwivedi was keen to hear of the international interest that would be generated by Their discovery, and he happily donated Their Lordships to a group of devotees headed by ISKCON Governing Body Commissioner His Holiness Bhaktisvarupa Damodara Swami, under the guarantee that Their worship would be reestablished in Choti on Their traditional lands.

Presently They are being worshiped in Bhubaneswar pending the construction of a new temple for Them in Choti.

[Note: At the time of this blog, Sri Sri Radha Madhava are staying in Kendrapara (about 3 hours Northeast of Bhubaneswar), still waiting for a temple to be built for them in nearby Choti. -- MD]

Wednesday, December 28, 2005

Abhiram Thakur Tests the Sons of Lord Nityananda

Jaya Nitai! Here is an article that we put together in 2001. An amazing story. Most of it is from a translation we worked on from a rare medieval Gaudiya book called Abhiram Lilamrta. Check out one of the below links:

A short (and shameless) advertisment for our email mag:

Sri Krishna Kathamrita Bindu is a free service that we started in April of 2001. It keeps us pretty busy, off the street and out of trouble. It's published every ekadasi in PDF format, and is designed for mad persons who want to go deep into the pastimes, philosophy, literature and history of Gaudiya Vaishnavism. As of writing this blog entry we are now up to issue 118. Bindu regularly features articles from previous acaryas such as Srila A.C. Bhaktivedanta Swami Prabhupada, Srila Thakur Bhaktivinode, Viswanath Chakravarti, Rupa Goswami etc., as well as new translations, research findings and contemporary articles. Bindu is a project we took up in pursuance of the instructions of Sri Srimad Gour Govinda Swami, whose articles are also a common feature.

Our slogan:

Sri Krishna Kathamrita Bindu contains no politics, mundane solicitations or institution promotion or bashing -- only pure Krishna-katha. It is produced by ISKCON Gopal Jiu Publications, Bhubaneswar, Orissa, India.

For information about obtaining your free email subscription to Sri Krishna Kathamrita Bindu, write to us at:

Visit our website to see back issues:

"This chanting should go on. Instead of meetings, resolutions, dissolutions, revolutions and then no solutions, there should be chanting."
-- Srila A.C. Bhaktivedanta Swami Prabhupada, from Lilamrta Vol.6 p.182'

Realizing One's Spiritual Body

Srila Jiva Goswami Prabhupada
(Above: Bengali painting, unknown artist)

Realizing one's form, qualities and activities in the spiritual world and realizing the form qualities and pastimes of Krishna is the acme of achievement. In the below excerpt from his Krama-sandarbha commentary to SB 7.5.18, Srila Goswamipad outlines the process to attain this. [Sanskrit below is in Harvard Kyoto style]:

prathamaM nAmnaH ZravaNam antaHkaraNa-Zuddhy-artham apekSyam. Zuddhe cAntaH-karaNe rUpa-ZravaNena tad-udaya-yogyatA bhavati. samyag-udite ca rUpe guNAnAM sphuraNaM sampadyate. sampanne ca guNAnAM sphuraNe parikara-vaiZiSTyena tad-vaiZiSTyaM sampadyate. tatas teSu nAma-rUpa-guNa-parikareSu samyak sphuriteSu lIlAnAM sphuraNaM suSThu bhavati.

“First it is expected that one should hear the Lord’s names in order to purify the heart. Once the mind and intelligence have been purified in this way, one can hear about Krishna’s form, through which one’s qualification to visualize it is obtained. When the form of the Lord has been clearly visualized, one can experience His qualities. Once these have been clearly understood, one develops one’s own individual spiritual characteristics through the particular characteristics of the Lord’s associates. Thus, once the name, form, qualities and associates of the Lord have been clearly realized, a clear realization of Krishna’s activities will follow.”

Monday, December 26, 2005

Sri Srimad Gour Govinda Swami Maharaja

Click to read about his life and disappearance.

Jaya Srila Prabhupada!

Here is a rare picture of Srila Prabhupada on a morning walk in Mayapur in 1974. On the left behind him is our revered spiritual master Sri Srimad Gour Govinda Swami. This picture was kindly given to us by Ranjit Prabhu of the Bhaktivedanta Archives.

Our Thakurji:

Giriraj was kindly given to us by our Guru Maharaja in 1993. In the top picture he is seen in his winter dress (kindly made by Preeti our Brijbasi friend in Vrindavan) along with our Shivalinga whom we worship as Gopishwar Mahadev.

The bottom pic is of Giriraj in his normal blissful summer bhava.

Misc Articles

Some miscelaneous articles published by us.

Personal Pics

Top to bottom:
With HH Sacinandan Swami at Unchagaon (village of Lalita Sakhi) in Kartika 2004.
With Mum at the ancient Vishnu temple in Melkote South India in December 2994.
With Sri Vaishnava brahmanas in Melkote.
Kartika vrata 2004 in Vrindavan
Below left: Lecturing at Govardhan retreat November 2005.
Below right: Shot from Sri Ksetra parikrama 2002 in Remuna Orissa

Flight of the Crow

This story from Mahabharata illuminates the faults of imitation and false pride. Try any of the below links:

Hide Your Guru

External persons want to advertise thier connection with guru. Sastra suggests that we should keep it hidden. This is an article that we wrote in November of 2001. Try any of the links below$764?mode=day$764?d=8&m=8&mode=topic&print-friendly=true&y=2005

The Brahmachari And The Chaste Wife
Posted by PicasaMadhavananda Das
At Ter Kadamba
near Nandagaon
in Vraja
November 2005

The Tree of My Life

Note: This is a song that we worked on for our Sri Krishna Kathamrita Bindu magazine issue 119 (which at the time I'm writing this has not yet come out). It is by Srila Lochan Das Thakur the medieval Gaudiya Vaishnava who wrote the book, Sri Chaitanya Mangala. I have converted the diacritic characters into the Harvard Kyoto style (long "a" = "A"; long "u" = "U" etc).

The Tree of my Life

Srila Lochan Das Thakur


ZrI-kRSNa-bhajana lAgi saMsAre Ainu
mAyA-jAle bandI haiyA vRkSa-samAna hainu

To worship Lord Krishna I came to this world of birth and death. Then mAyA caught me in her net and bound me up, and I became like a tree.

sneha-latA beDi beDi tanu kaila ZeSe
kIDA rUpe nArI tAhe hRdaye praveZe

The vine of material love coiled and coiled around me. Manifesting the form of a tree-boring insect, a woman entered my heart.

phala-rUpe putra kanyA DAle bhAGgI paDe
kAla-rUpI bihaGga upare vAsa kare

Manifesting the forms of fruits — sons and daughters grew on my branches and fell to the ground. Manifesting the form of a bird, time made its nest in my branches.

bADite nA pAila gAcha ZukhAiyA gela
saMsArera dAvAnala tAhAte lAgila

Becoming stunted, this tree gradually dried up. Then the blazing forest fire of birth and death came.

durAZA durvAsanA dui uThe dhUmAiyA
phukAra karaye locana marilAma pUDiyA

Wicked desires and false hopes were the two streams of smoke that at once arose. This Lochan Das called out, “I am dying!

egAo egAo mora vaiSNava gosAi
karuNAra jala siJca tabe rakSA pAi

“Please! Please! O vaiSNava gosAi! Sprinkle me with the water of your mercy and save me!”


— Jagadbandhu Bhadra’s Gaura-pada-taraGginI. Sri Gauranga Press. Calcutta. 1931. Bengali.

— Unknown translator. The Acarya’s Songs and Poems Glorifying Lord Gauranga and Lord Govinda. Found in the VaiSNava Folio Archives. Compiled by Sri Narasingha Caitanya Matha. No date.