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, gopaljiu.org 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!


Wednesday, June 03, 2009

Sri Guru Reciprocates in All Rasas

Srila Gour Govinda Maharaja used to tell us, "If you have not seen the svarup (spiritual form) of your guru, you have simply been cheated." Of course that does not mean that you are not getting mercy. In spiritual life, cheating is also a kind of mercy, because it makes us cry, thereby intensifying our bhajan.

Realizing the svarup of our guru is the goal of the sadhakas, practitioners in our Gaudiya line. As Krishna says in the Gita, this realization is the topmost understanding -- raja-vidya; it is the most confidential -- raja-guhyam; but it must be realized -- pratyaksavagamam-dharmyam.

I have seen many persons who have put forth various speculated ideas about the svarup of their guru. Personally, I've never felt inspired by such an approach. To me, it just seems to lack dignity and grace. No where have we ever heard of someone realizing the eternal identity of their guru through the process of mundane empiricism. "O he said this. That must mean... He liked this song... He installed these kind of deities mostly, therefore..." etc etc.

Like Samba pretending before the rishis in Dwarka, I don't need to stuff something under my clothes to pretend that I'm pregnant. Thanks, but I prefer to wait for something real.

The following article by Srila Saraswati Thakur Prabhupada was in our recent (203rd) issue of Sri Krishna Kathamrita Bindu. Therein he explains that Krishna, as Sri Guru will reciprocate with you, in any particular relationship your heart aspires for.

Hari Hari!

Das, MD


Srila Bhaktisiddhanta Saraswati Thakur

There are different ways in which different persons whose faculty of spiritual consciousness has been aroused judge about their own requirements. Every enlightened person is privileged to have a sight of Sri Gurudev in accordance with his particular mode of judgment. Sri Gurudev is that real entity who thus reveals himself to the view of enlightened souls in a variety of ways. Sri Gurudev is the daughter of Vrishabhanu (Sri Radha) in the madhurya-rasa (the spiritual humor of the sweetness of divine amour). Realized by the method of the rasa of parental affection, Sri Gurudev reveals himself as Nanda-Yashoda. In the rasa of friendly affection he is Sridama-Sudama. In the rasa of the devotion of servants to the master, the lotus feet of Sri Guru act as Chitrak-Patrak. The consideration of all these asrayas, devotees, about the visaya, Krishna rises naturally in the heart as one progresses in the service of Sri Guru. These subjects do not manifest themselves in the course of any artifi¬cial process. They are aroused spontaneously in the consciousness of fortunate souls on the appearance of the disposition for spiritual service of the divinity. We have no other function than the service of Sri Guru. By means of the adulterated consciousness of the material world it is not possible to discuss the eternal pastimes of Godhead that are inaccessible even to Shesha, Shiva, Brahma, and similar great personalities.

I have been asked sometimes by different people why we do not give away the realized method of service to all. As for myself, I cannot understand how the condition of self-realized souls and that of novices may be supposed to be identical. It passes our judgment to understand how the service and realization of souls free from all defects can be practiced during the period of novitiate, which is full of many defects. If any person happens to belong to the order of self-realized souls he may kindly intimate to me the fact. I can then know about the specific nature of his realized self.

— Sri Chaitanya’s Teachings. Edited by Bhakti Vilas Tirtha Goswami. Sree Gaudiya Math. Madras. 1989. p 266.

Saturday, May 16, 2009

Giriraja's Rainbow Morning

Rainbow Raj

today we painted Giriraj with a rainbow colored face. In Oriya, the word for "rainbow" is "Indra-dhanu" (literally "Indra's bow"). So Giriraj is Rainbow Raj for two reasons: 1) Because of the colors on his face; and 2) Because he defeated Indra by protecting the Brijbasis from the onslaught of the samvartaka clouds.
The glowing tilak is not a Photoshop technique. It's the reflection of the light.

Giriraja Maharaja ki jaya!

Wednesday, May 06, 2009

Volcanic Bhajan

"Udgirna" means, "erupting". We should deeply cultivate our bhajan in such a way that the pressure in our heart increases more and more, until it explodes like a volcano.

Such eruption from the heart is real preaching in the line of Chaitanya Mahaprabhu.

Not that our bhajan, and preaching are like a fireworks display -- an artificial show that looks impressive, but lacks substance and duration.

Sunday, May 03, 2009

Bindu Hits 9 Years and 200 Issues

Here is the latest news with Bindu. My humble and sincere thanks to all of the kind vaishnavas who have supported this service over the years.

Sri Krishna Kathamrita Bindu, the free e-magazine from ISKCON Gopaljiu Publications, has just entered its ninth year of circulation, and has reached 200 issues distributed to its ever-growing list of subscribers.

Started in 2001 as a humble attempt to serve Srila Prabhupada and the preachers of the mission of Sri Chaitanya Mahaprabhu, Sri Krishna Kathamrita Bindu is especially meant for devotees who were interested in going deep into the tradition and literature of Gaudiya Vaishnavism. Our policy from the beginning has been to simply focus on krishna-katha – no politics, exposes, revolutions, or institutional bashing or promotion. Tad-vag-visargo janatagha-viplavo – our conviction is that krishna-katha and krishna-nama automatically changes everything for the better. They are the ultimate solutions to all problems in this world. In the words of Srila Saraswati Thakur, “The person who determines that there is scope for reform of the world himself stands in need of reform. ... As soon as Krishna enters the listening ear, he clears up the vision of the listener so that he no longer has any ambition of ever acting the part of a reformer of any other person, because he finds that nobody is left without the very highest guidance. It is therefore his own reform that he is increasingly able to realize, by the eternally continuing mercy of the Supreme Lord.” [Read the complete article in Bindu 177]

Bindu has featured many first-time translations, including stories and songs from little-known works, such as Sri Tilak Ramdas’ “Abhiram Lilamrta”, Yadunandan Das’ “Karnananda”, Jagadbandhu Bhadra’s “Gaura-pada-tarangini”, Gopijanavallabha Das’ “Rasika Mangala”, Krishnadas’ “Syamananda Prakash”, Jiva Goswami’s “Gopal Campu” and Padma, Nrsimha, Brahma-vaivarta and other Puranas.

Bindu comes out twice a month, on every ekadasi. Each four-page issue begins with an inspiring article from His Divine Grace A. C. Bhaktivedanta Swami Prabhupada, and nearly every issue includes something from Srila Bhaktisiddhanta Saraswati Thakur and Thakur Bhaktivinode. Articles by Sri Srimad Gour Govinda Swami are a common feature as well as contemporary articles by the Bindu editors.

Bindu is a free service. To subscribe, write to: minimag@gopaljiu.org

Below are some of the kind words of encouragement about Bindu received over the last 8 years:

I would like to subscribe to your publication. I looked at some back issues and enjoyed the contents very much. I have stopped looking at the ISKCON web sites except for our local site, because they are all obsessed with politics and nonsense. Your publication is very nice. We just need to chant together in a humble and loving frame of mind in order to solve all the problems. Thank you, prabhus.
-- Praharana Dasi, Toronto

Your publication is an invaluable source of inspiration and important sastric reference.

-- Vaisesika Das, San Francisco

Please include me in your subscribers' list for KK Bindu. I enjoyed the fourth issue very much. May all of your efforts be crowned with success, and may this meet you in the best of health and blissful spirits.

-- Tamal Krishna Goswami

Your magazine is the best on the earth.

-- Jayatam Jaya Sila Das

It is my great happiness to see that instead of joining the revolting political debates and fights continuously taking place amongst the vaishnavas of different groups, the sisyas of Gour Govinda Maharaja are peacefully engaged in distributing pure, universal hari-katha without propagating any institution in a sectarian way. You are doing a wonderful job for the pleasure of Sri Guru and Gauranga. I wish you all success in your service.

-- Peter Erdody, Budapest

My sincere congratulations and gratitude for putting together a fine Gaudiya Vaisnava online publication that we can all feel proud of.
-- Vicaru Das, Editor, "Sanga"

Thanks for all this nectar.
-- Indradyumna Swami

Your Bindus are WONDERFUL!

-- Mahavegavati Dasi

With great happiness I received your wonderful e-mail and devoured it immediately. The Krishna Kathamrita Bindu is simply ecstatic. Short, concise, thick with nectar, and fully authorized and in line with our glorious sampradaya as revealed by Srila Prabhupada. It is just what a preacher needs who wishes to inspire people. Please keep the good stream of nectar flowing!

-- Sacinandana Swami

Thanks for the latest KK Bindu. As usual, it was nectarean and a pleasant ekadasi surprise for my wicked mind. I especially appreciate the non-partisan spirit of the publication. I can hardly read anything on the internet these days that isn't trying to promote, argue pro or con, or solicit. There is a place for that I admit. I have my opinions, too. But it's easy to forget our real business in life. At least I am reminded, by your kindness, on a bi-monthly basis. Thank you.

-- Sarva-drk Das, Denver

Aapko bahut dhanyavaada!!!

-- Dasarath Suta Das, Georgia

I always look forward to receiving Krishna Kathamrita Bindu. It's just the right size and just the right substance -- so short that I can easily devote the time to it yet so juicy that a few drops go a long way. A newsletter with nothing but pure Krishna-katha -- so refreshing! This is the real need of the day. Thank you so much!

-- Jayadvaita Swami

Many thanks for a copy of the book, "Sri Krishna Kathamrita Bindu, Issues 1-17" which I have just finished reading. In fact, I was not able to take up any of my other works until I finished this book. I am happy to tell you that one can really have a taste of sindhu reading the said issues of the Bindu.

One small suggestion: Can you start incorporating in each issue translation of a portion of a Vaishnava Sanskrit text not yet translated? Wishing you success in your venture.

-- Yours affectionately, Professor Samaresh Bandyopadhyaya, Head of the Department of Ancient Indian History and Culture, University of Calcutta

Your wonderful writings have been so inspiring to devotees all around the world. I can truly say I have always looked forward to every new presentation. My own copies have been marked many times. I have shared them with so many other devotees. Somehow each time they have appeared it has been so timely.

-- Bhakti Tirtha Swami

Someone recently directed me to your site and it is encouraging to see this kind of preaching continuing some years now after Sri Gour Govinda Maharaja has departed.

-- Swami B.V. Tripurari

I heartily approve the spirit of this message.

-- Jagadananda Das (Jan Brzezinski), Toronto

I’m a journalist from the “Economic Times”, Bangalore edition, trying to be a vaishnavi. I have always loved “Krishna Kathamrita Bindu” and the excellent books you publish. “Krishna Kathamrita Bindu” and “Mathura Meets Vrindavan” are so good. I repeatedly tell stories to people from them while preaching.

-- Chandni Raj, Bangalore