No One Has Seen a Picture of Krishna
Prabhupada is speaking: We should always remember that He is God. He is all-powerful. In strength, no one could conquer Him. In beauty – as far as beauty is concerned – when He was on the battlefield … Have any of you seen a picture of Krishna? Have any of you ever seen Krishna? Oh … no?
Prahbupada’s voice fades as he pauses, looking out at his audience. No one has ever seen Krishna. None of them have the slightest previous knowledge of Lord Krishna. In India, hundreds of millions worship Lord Krishna daily as the eternal form of all beauty and truth, and view His graceful form in sculpture, painting and dance. His philosophical teachings inBhagavad-gita are all famous. And Prabhupada is His intimate emissary. Yet the ladies and gentlemen in Room 307 look back at the Swami blankly.
On the auspicious occasion of the appearance day of Sri Chaitanya Mahaprabhu, Dr Sahadeva Das offers two Esraj songs unto His divine lotus feet. These songs, ‘Ujjvala Varana Gaura Vara Deham’ and ‘Nava Gaura Varam’ were composed by Srila Sarvabhauma Bhattacharya. The melody has been taken from the albums of Bhakti Charu Swami.
Esraj is an important instrument in traditional vaisnava music and by the 1980s the instrument was nearly extinct. Of late, this instrument is seeing some revival. However only a handful players remain all over the world. The Esraj played here is carved out of a century old block of Burma teakwood. No effects or reverb have been added to the sound of the instrument.
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A video by Devamrita Swami.
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Each of Srila Prabhupada’s disciples has chosen to love him. It is a commitment that I will always honor, and I have sealed that commitment at my initiation. We have a contract of love now. Although my love for Srila Prabhupada may not yet be free of any material tinge, he is patient. And Prabhupada himself has placed conditions of his love on his disciples. He expects them to follow him. Although he will still love a disobedient disciple, his love will not reach a disciple who rebels or disobeys his order, and who blasphemes guru and Krishna. The relationship between guru and disciple is meant to be based on honor.
I have heard people say that this “condition” Prabhupada places on his love for us is not much different than the conditions some of our parents placed on us to win their love. Many people have been hurt by parents who sold their love for high grades in school, or conformity to family rules, etc. There was no chance for people who grew up in these families to develop themselves as individuals, or to feel self-worth despite their failings to meet their parents’ standards. They grew up only with conditions and have no experience of real love. Is Prabhupada’s love for us like that? Is it a lesser kind of love because he places on it the condition of our obedience?
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ISKCON devotees in Kanyakumari, the southernmost district in Tamil Nadu state and in mainland India, are in the process of holding fifty Gita Yajnas for ISKCON’s 50th anniversary.
“In this program, our aim is to distribute 5,000 copies of Srila Prabhupada’s Bhagavad-gita As It Is, and to have recipients take an oath during a fire ceremony to read at least one page daily,” says organizer Vikrama Govinda Das.
“We also plan to distribute prasadam – sanctified vegetarian food — to 10,000 people, and to reach out to a minimum of 20,000 people through Harinama Sankirtana, chanting on the streets.”
Devotees started the program in December 2015 on the occasion of Gita Jayanti – the day when Lord Krishna spoke the sacred text Bhagavad-gita to the warrior Arjuna. So far, they have conducted eleven yajna programs.
Local townspeople attend a Gita Yajna in Pattariar St
These took place in the towns or neighbhorhoods of Chetty Street, Pallivizhai, Myladi, Manakkarai, Nesalavar Colony, Theroor, Kottaram, Pattariar Street, Mandaikkad, Vadiveeswaram, and Boothapandi.
During the programs, devotees distributed 1,143 Bhagavad-gitas, and nearly 1,720 people took an oath to read a minimum of one page daily. Around 3,220 people snapped up plates of prasadam, 4,650 got the chance to hear Harinama kirtan, and many also received japa beads to chant the Hare Krishna mantra on.
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The fifth day of the ILS was the Appearance Day of His Divine Grace Bhaktisiddhanta Saraswati Thakura, the spiritual master of Srila Prabhupada. ILS delegates were given a break from seminars on this holy day so that they could spend a day in prayers, meditation, hearing and chanting.
After mangala-arati, Niranjana Swami and Radhanatha Swami delivered a special class to mark the occasion.
Niranjana Swami explained that one can learn Prabhupada’s mood of humility from his diary entry on board the Jaladuta on 10thSeptember 1965, where he says, ‘Today the ship is plying very smoothly. I feel today better. But I am feeling separation from Sri Vrindaban and my Lords Sri Govinda, Gopinath, Radha Damodar. The only solace is Sri Chaitanya Charitamrita in which I am tasting the nectarine of Lord Chaitanya’s Leela. I have left Bharat Bhumi just to execute the order of Sri Bhakti Siddhanta Saraswati in pursuance of Lord Chaitanya’s order. I have no qualification, but I have taken up the risk just to carry out the order of His Divine Grace. I depend fully on Their mercy so far away from Vrindaban.’
“The criteria of the devotees’ success is not that he thinks ‘I am authorised, therefore I am qualified’. One should think, ‘I am authorised, but I need to be aware of my lack of qualifications, and will always become dependent on the Lord’. Success is always guaranteed to those who are conscious of their subordinate position,” said Niranjana Swami to the delegates, many of whom had lined up 30 minutes before the lecture to hear the two speakers. “Srila Prabhupada always gave credit to his higher authorities, his spiritual master and Lord Chaitanya, and never took credit for himself.”
Niranjana Swami recollected how Srila Bhaktisiddhanta Saraaswati Thakura instructed Srila Prabhupada in 1936 to push the Krishna consciousness movement to the English speaking world.
“Srila Prabhupada told us that if we strictly try to serve the spiritual master seriously, Krishna will give us all facilities,” concluded Niranjana Swami. “Therefore he requested us to please take this movement seriously. Prabhupada told us, ‘I shall go away and you will live, but you should push this movement’. The rest is dependent on ourselves – in how we keep ourselves in this humble and subordinate position.”
In the next address, Radhanatha Swami recalled Srila Prabhupada’s instructions delivered on a previous appearance day of Bhaktisiddhanta Saraswati Thakura. “Srila Prabhupada told his followers that Lord Chaitanya had instructed all those born in India to accept this message and share it with the world. He explained that it was Srila Bhaktivinoda Thaura’s desire that people from the West and the East should accept this movement equally. Bhaktivinoda Thakura has asked: Oh, when will that day come when people from America, England, France, Germany and Russia will take up karatals and mridangas and chant Hare Krishna in their towns?”
Radhanatha Swami mentioned that Srila Prabhupada always felt the presence of his Guru Maharaja, and never felt alone. “After one year, Srila Prabhupada had only $200 left from the sale of his books. He invested everything he had in renting 26, Second Avenue. He had nothing more. In this way, Srila Prabhupada was always reminding us that our existence is fully reliant on how we humble ourselves, and how we depend on our spiritual master, and Lord Chaitanya.”
Radhanatha Swami read out a letter from Srila Prabhupada in which he ended the letter by saying, “I am trying a little bit and you are all helping me. So, I have to thank you more. You are actually the representatives of my Guru Maharaja… because you are helping me in executing the order of my Guru Maharaja.”
Radhanatha Swami explained that in the recording, Prabhupada said his last words in a choked voice. He urged everyone to keep aside differences, since they were all insignificant and did not matter in light of the instructions from our spiritual masters.
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