Monday, January 04, 2010

Regarding Disappearing Dhams

A devotee wrote us today:

> In Navadvip Dhama Mahatmya, Bhaktivinoda Thakura makes a rather strong
> statement to the effect that the potency of all the holy dhamas gradually
> diminish as Kali Yuga progresses. You are aware of that statement, right?
> Just after that he states that only Mayapur Dhama remains (increasingly
> so) the only fully spiritually potent dhama.
> I read the book several times over the years. But the implication just
> dawned on me recently; does it mean that it's less spiritually
> potent/purifying/beneficial to visit Jagannatha Puri and Vrindavana, and
> all the less so as time progresses?
> Prabhupada does mention, as Kavicandra Swami quotes in his recent article
> on, something to the effect that as the sinful activity
> increases in Puri, it will no longer be a dhama...
> Are we really to accept that as time goes on the potency of Jagannatha
> Puri and Vrindavana will diminish?
> On the other hand we hear that the Dhamas are eternally potent. And
> Prabhupada decided to leave his body in Vrindavana, not Mayapur. Is it
> that Vrindavana was still potent when Prabhupada was around but that it no
> longer will be as time progresses? That seems to be what Bhaktivinoda
> Thakura is saying. What to make of his statement?
> I'm considering to buy some property in Puri. Thus this issue is
> especially pertinent to me at this time: I don't want to go to Puri and
> get less and less spiritual benefit each time I visit as time moves
> forward. I just can't believe that's the case (and the same goes for
> Vrindavan.)...
> What's your take on it?

Our reply:

Bhaktivinode writes this in in Navadvipa Dham Mahatmya, Parikrama Khanda 2.43-45:

kali-kāle tīrtha-saba atyanta durbala
navadvípa tīrtha mātra parama prabala

In Kali-yuga, all holy places are extremely weak; only Nabadwip is supremely strong.

prabhura icchāya sei tīrtha bahu dina
aprakaṭa mahimā āchila sphūrti-hīna

By the Lord's desire, however, this tīrtha was invisible for a long time and its glories lay unrevealed.

kalira prabhāva yabe atyanta bāḍila
anya tīrtha svabhāvataḥ nisteja haila

When the influence of Kali-yuga increased, naturally the holy places lost their power.

A few verses later, Bhaktivinode cites Mahaprabhu’s comments on how he will solve this problem. He says:

navadvīpa-dhāma āmi kariba prakāśa
sei dhāme kalira bhaṅgiya viṣadāta
kīrtana kariyā jīve kari ātmasātha

“I will manifest Nabadwip Dham and break the poison teeth of Kali by performing congregational chanting of the holy names.

yatadūra mama nāma haibe kīrtana
tatadūra haibe ta’ kalira māyāya

“As long as my name is sung, Kali will be controlled.”

I suggest that the words “kirtana kariyā” are significant. Mahaprabhu states that he will manifest Nabadwip through kīrtana. Like Vrindavan, Nabadwip is to be found in the presence of any genuine bhakta. The Bhagavatam (1.13.10) recounts the words of Yudhisthir to his uncle Vidura:

bhavad-vidhā bhāgavatās tīrtha-bhūtāḥ svayaṁ vibho
tīrthī-kurvanti tīrthāni svāntaḥ-sthena gadābhṛtā

“My Lord, devotees like your good self are verily holy places personified. Because you carry the Personality of Godhead within your heart, you turn all places into places of pilgrimage.”

Srila Prabhupada makes a similar statement in his purport to Cc. madhya 7.129:

“It does not matter whether one lives in a holy place like Vrindavan, Nabadwip or Jagannath Puri or in the midst of European cities, where the materialistic way of life is very prominent. If a devotee follows the instructions of Sri Chaitanya Mahaprabhu, he lives in the company of the Lord. Wherever he lives, he converts that place into Vrindavan and Nabadwip. This means that materialism cannot touch him.”

Based on the above it is clear that the dhama will be manifest wherever the holy names are present. A little caveat on that: Of course this means “present” where the names are properly chanted. Kali has ten arrows which he uses to attack the movement of Mahaprabhu. These are the ten offenses to the holy name. If those offenses are not present then the name will drive Kali out. On the other hand if they are present then Kali will enter even into the Dham and even into what appears to be Mahaprabhu’s movement.

Puri and Vrindavan are both nitya-dhamas, eternal abodes. There is no question of them losing potency. However, they may be covered over and lost to mundane vision. This certainly seems to be happening with all the dhamas, save and except those places where the devotees are chanting the holy names.

I’m pasting below a couple of statements regarding the non-different nature of Puri, Vrindavan, and Nabadwip:

“One who understands the transcendental nature of Nabadwip and its surrounding area, where Sri Chaitanya Mahaprabhu enacted His pastimes, resides always in Vrindavan.” Similarly, living in Jagannath Puri is as good as living in Vrindavan. The conclusion is that Nabadwip Dham, Jagannath Puri Dham and Vrindavan Dham are identical.” (Cc. madhya 22.132)

Similarly Jagan-mata Sachi Devi, the mother of universe has stated: nīlācale navadvīpe yena dui ghara — Nilachal, Jagannath Puri and Nabadwip are two rooms in the same house.” (Cc. madhya 3.183)

I hope that this is some help for you and that all is well for your bhajan.

Hari Hari

Das anudas,
Madhavananda Das

Friday, January 01, 2010

Demons in the Guise of Devotees New Link

For anyone who wants to listen to these lectures, please go to this new link:

We had nearly 10 GB of downloads in 2 days to the old link, finishing off our limit with our Divshare account.

Tuesday, December 29, 2009

Demons in the Guise of Devotees

A sastric look at the problem of false gurus and materialistic persons donning the dress of devotees. This three part class given by Madhavananda Das in December 2009, offers some commentary on Sri Krishna Kathamrita magazine issue 10 entitled, False Gurus, Institutions and the Holy Name.

Sunday, August 09, 2009

Observing Janmastami

Observing Janmastami
Notes from Śrī Hari-bhakti-vilāsa

Texts 247 to 542 of the 15th section of Hari-bhakti-vilāsa describe the glories of Janmāṣṭamī and how to observe it. The introduction to this section describes three reasons for observing the Lord’s appearance day:

nityatvaṁ ca paraṁ tasya bhagavat-prīṇanān matam
vidhi-vākya-viśeṣāc cākāraṇe pratyavāyataḥ

The observance of Janmāṣṭamī is accepted as a regulative principle in three ways: 1) the Supreme Lord becomes pleased when one observes it; 2) there are special śāstric injunctions requiring its observance; and 3) it is a fault to not observe it. (Hbv. 15.266)

For Krishna’s Pleasure

That the observance of Janmāṣṭamī pleases Krishna is supported with the following statement from the Skanda Purāṇa:

prahlādādyaiś ca bhū-pālaiḥ kṛtā janmāṣṭamī śubhā
śraddhayā parayā viṣṇoḥ prītaye kṛṣṇa-vallabhā
prājāpatyarkṣa saṁyuktā śrāvaṇasyā sitāṣṭamī
varṣe varṣe tu kartavyā tuṣṭyarthaṁ cakra-pāṇinaḥ

For the pleasure of Lord Vishnu, even great kings like Prahlad Maharaja faithfully observed the vow of Janmāṣṭamī, which is very dear to Krishna. It is the duty of everyone to celebrate Janmāṣṭamī every year, on the eighth day of the dark fortnight of the moon in the month of Śrāvaṇa, when it is joined by the Rohiī-nakṣatra, for the satisfaction of the Supreme Lord, who carries a cakra in his hand. (Hbv. 15.267-68)

The Faults of Non-observance

Texts 269 to 282 of this section of Hari-bhakti-vilāsa cite the Viṣṇu-rahasya Purāṇa describing various ghastly reactions that one will suffer by not properly observing the Janmāṣṭamī fast and offering special worship to Krishna on this day. A few examples:
Eating on Janmāṣṭamī is equivalent to eating the flesh of a vulture, a crow, a hawk, or a human being. If one eats on Janmāṣṭamī they get the reaction of eating all the sins of the three worlds. If one eats even a tiny bit on Janmāṣṭamī they will be tortured by the Yamadutas after death.... Those who eat on Janmāṣṭamī take one hundred generations of their ancestors and one hundred generations of their offspring with them to hell... It is the duty of all devotees to celebrate Janmāṣṭamī, even with a very small budget, for the pleasure of the son of Devaki. One should not fail to celebrate Krishna’s appearance day, otherwise one will be forced to reside in hell for a kalpa. (Texts 270-272, 274, 282)

Material Benefits

Texts 283 to text 340 then go on to speak about the glories of following Janmāṣṭamī as collected from various śāstric sources. This section entices the reader with many material blessings. For example, Hari-bhakti-vilāsa (Texts 283-284, 289-292) quotes from the Bhaviṣottara Purāṇa regarding the benefits of observing this festival:
[By observing Śrī Kṛṣṇa Janmāṣṭamī] one becomes free from the sinful reactions committed in seven lives. One gets good children, good health and great wealth.... One will not have to fear enemies, and will get sufficient rainfall and never have to suffer from drought. One will not have to fear natural calamities, hellish conditions, snakes, disease, or the attacks of rogues and thieves.

Bhaktivinode’s Analysis

In this connection it is interesting to note Thakur Bhaktivinode’s enumeration in the first chapter of Caitanya-śikāmṛta of the various general motivations people have to try to please the Lord:

1) Bhaya — out of fear.

2) Āśā — for satisfying material aspirations.

3) Kartavya-buddhi — out of a sense of duty (literally, “a mentality of what should be done”).

4) Rāga — out of genuine attraction for the Lord.

Bhaktivinode elaborates on these motivations:

Those who take to worship of the Lord out of bhaya, āśā or kartavya-buddhi are not on such a pure level. Those who worship the Lord according to rāga are real worshipers.... Bhaya o āśā nitāsta heya — Bhaya and āśā are extremely low class. When a practioner’s intelligence becomes clear, he gives up bhaya and āśā, and kartavya-buddhi becomes his sole motive. As long as rāga towards the Lord has not appeared, the devotee should not give up worship according to kartavya-buddhi. From this sense of duty, kartavya-buddhi, two considerations arise: vidhi-samāna, respect for the rules, and avidhi-parityāga, avoidance of those things contrary to the rules.

Srila Prabhupada’s Instructions

His Divine Grace A. C. Bhaktivedanta Swami Prabhupada also instructed his followers to abide by the rules of the janmāṣṭamī-vrata, such as fasting. He wrote in his commentary on Bhagavad-gītā 11.54:

There are so many rules and regulations, and if one at all wants to understand Krishna, he must follow the regulative principles described in the authoritative literature. One can perform penance in accordance with those principles. For example, to undergo serious penances one may observe fasting on Janmāṣṭamī, the day on which Krishna appeared, and on the two days of Ekādaśī (the eleventh day after the new moon and the eleventh day after the full moon).

Food Versus Prasadam

As cited above, Hari-bhakti-vilāsa [15.272] states that anyone eating even the smallest morsel on this day will have to go to hell. One may ask, then, why it is that Srila Prabhupada did not repeatedly stress this point, and why it is that that many vaiṣṇavas serve prasādam to their guests on Janmāṣṭamī? Although forbidding the eating of food on this day, Hari-bhakti-vilāsa does not describe any adverse reactions for persons who honor prasādam. Krishna states in Bhagavad-gītā (3.13):

yajña-śiṣṭāśinaḥ santo mucyante sarva-kilbiṣaiḥ
bhuñjate te tv aghaṁ pāpā ye pacanty ātma-kāraṇāt

The devotees of the Lord are released from all kinds of sins because they eat food which is offered first for sacrifice. Others, who prepare food for personal sense enjoyment, verily eat only sin.
Prior to the section describing the glories and rules of Janmāṣṭamī, Hari-bhakti-vilāsa already described that prasādam is not to be considered food. Like Krishna himself, it is always situated beyond this material world. Hari-bhakti-vilāsa (9.403-404) quotes the Bṛhad-viṣṇu Purāṇa:

naivedyaṁ jagadīśasya anna-pānādikaṁ ca yat
bhakṣyābhakṣa-vicāraś ca nāsti tad-bhakṣaṇe dvijāḥ
brahmāvan-nirvikāram hi yathā viṣṇus tathaiva tat

Those foodstuffs and beverages that are offered to Krishna for his pleasure are transcendental and one should never try to distinguish them as eatables and non-eatables. Offerings to Sri Hari are transcendental, incorruptible, and non-different from Vishnu.

Honoring prasādam cannot result in any type of contamination. Rather, those who consider that Krishna’s remnants, which are non-different from him, to have sin in them, or that there is some mundane fault associated with honoring them, are great offenders. Hari-bhakti-vilāsa further quotes the Bṛhat-viṣṇu Purāṇa:

vikāraṁ ye prakurvanti bhakṣaṇe tad dvijātayaḥ
kuṣṭha-vyādhi-samāyuktāḥ putradāra-vivarjitāḥ
nirayaṁ yānti te viprā yasmān-nāvartate punaḥ

O brahmins, those who have a perverted mentality, and think offerings to Sri Hari to be material, will suffer from leprosy, and reside in hell after losing their wife and children.
As stated in Hari-bhakti-vilāsa [15.282, quoted towards the begining of this article], it is the duty of all devotees to personally observe Janmāṣṭamī. To not do so would be neglecting the instructions of śāstra. However, understanding the following principle given in the Utkala khaṇḍa (36.19-20) of the Skanda Purāṇa, many vaiṣṇavas don’t hesitate to serve prasādam to their guests on Janmāṣṭamī:

aśucir-vāpyanācāro manasā pāpam-ācaran
prāpti mātreṇa bhoktavyaṁ nātra kāryā vicāraṇā

Even if one is in an unclean state of body or mind, or engaged in irreligious acts, he should eat mahā-prasāda whenever it is available to him. There is no need to deliberate on this.
— MD


Bhagavad-gītā As It Is. English translation and commentary by A.C. Bhaktivedanta Swami Prabhupada. Bhaktivedanta Book Trust. Bombay. 1995.

— Bhaktivinode Thakur. Śrī Caitanya-śikāmṛta. Sri Chaitanya Math. Mayapur. Bengali. Gaurabda 420.

Gauīya-vaiṣṇava-kaṇṭhahāra. Compiled by Atindriya Bhaktigunakara. Sri Chaitanya Math. Mayapur. 1960. Bengali.

— Sanatan Goswami. Śrī Hari-bhakti-vilāsa. English translation by Bhumipati Das. Rasbihari Lal & Sons. Vrindavan. 2005.

— Sanatan Goswami. Śrī Hari-bhakti-vilāsa. Sanskrit with Bengali translation by Kanailal Adhikari. Sri Chaitanya Gaudiya Math. Mayapur. 2000.

This article is from Sri Krishna Kathamrita Bindu issue 207. The entire issue can be downloaded or read here

Wednesday, June 24, 2009


Gopal Jiu Publications is pleased to announce our completely new and reconstructed web site:

Desiring to serve devotees, scholars, and aficionados of Krishna-katha, now offers:

1) Downloadable PDF extracts from all of our books and magazines

2) Some complete books available for reading online

3) Downloadable PDF articles

4) Over 200 back issues of our free email magazine Sri Krishna Kathamrita Bindu

5) A search engine accessing all the past issues of Bindu and other articles on the site

6) Over 200 photos of Sri Srimad Gour Govinda Maharaja

7) Over 250 MP3 audio recordings of Maharaja available for free listening or download

8) Video lectures of Maharaja available for free viewing or download

9) A calendar of upcoming Gopal Jiu Publications parikramas

10) Facility to purchase all of our books and magazines online

11) Reviews of Gopal Jiu Publications books and magazines from various senior devotees

12) Immensely improved design and functionality

And more...

Tuesday, June 23, 2009

Gundicha Marjana Lecture

Here is a lecture we gave last year in Puri on the inner meaning of the Gundicha Marjana festival and how this esoteric meaning applies to rituals and formality within all religious institutions:

-- The above photo is by Sudarshan Das Mahapatra from our upcoming issue of Sri Krishna Kathamrita magazine.

Friday, June 19, 2009

Article on ISKCON News

ISKCON news recently gave a write up on Gopal Jiu Publications on the occasion of the 200th issue of Bindu with a very nice article. Check it out!