Vishnujana — the World of Pure Devotion

Sunday, 24 July 2016

Funny story of blueberry ice cream in Dallas, March 1975.

Later that day, Prabhupada has a talk with the teachers. Then he meets with several GBCs and sannyasis who have come to Dallas. The Radha-Damodara brahmacaris chant japa in the courtyard below the window where Prabhupada is staying, thinking it would be nice for Prabhupada to hear devotees chanting Hare Krishna if he opens the window. As they look up at the lights in Prabhupada's room, all of a sudden a side window opens. Vishnujana Maharaja sticks his head out and sees Marino.

"Bhakta Marino, just the one I wanted to see. Go into the freezer and get me the blueberry ice cream we just offered Radha-Damodara and bring it up here." There's a small refrigerator on the bus with a freezer compartment. Marino is about to leave when he overhears Vishnujana say, "Yeah, there's a real nice boy I'd like you to meet. His name is Bhakta Marino. I think he's doing really good. I'd like you to meet him."

Marino: I was thinking, Oh my God, Maharaja wants to introduce me to Prabhupada. Jumping Jehosaphat, this is great! So I was running to the bus. I polished up the best silverware, took the ice cream and scooped it out super nice to make a beautiful soda-parlor mound in a fancy glass. I covered it and ran out of the bus. There were devotees lined from the front door up to Prabhupada's quarters as I came up the steps. I was constantly saying, "Excuse me. Excuse me, Maha for Srila Prabhupada. Mahaprasada for Srila Prabhupada." Devotees were very obliging. It was like the parting of the Red Sea. I felt like Moses for a second.

When Marino gets to Srila Prabhupada's room a devotee is standing guard at his door wearing a gun on his hip. "What's that?" he demands.

"It's Maha blueberry ice cream for Srila Prabhupada, Prabhu." Seeing the gun, Marino figures he better call him Prabhu right away.

"I have to ask. Can you please uncover it?"

"It's for Srila Prabhupada." Marino is offended that the guard wants to see it first.

Observing Marino's expression, the guard explains himself. "Look, there are crazy people out there. And sometimes they make threats against Prabhupada. We received one such threat so I have to check."

Marino shows him the ice cream and is allowed to pass. "Okay, you can go." Opening the door, Marino sees Prabhupada sitting with Jayatirtha, Ramesvara, and Jagadish; the so-called big guns of ISKCON.

Prabhupada looks up at Marino. "Oh? What is this?"

After offering obeisances, Marino explains, "It's Maha blueberry ice cream from Radha- Damodara, Srila Prabhupada. Would you like some?"

"Accha!" Prabhupada pats his desk, "You can put that right here."

"Thank you, Srila Prabhupada." Marino places the fancy glass on the desk and lifts up the cover. He presents the spoon to Prabhupada and offers obeisances.

After leaving the room Marino returns to the bus and starts chanting japa. He is completely stunned by his meeting with Prabhupada.

Suddenly, Vishnujana Swami walks in. "Marino, what happened to you?"

"What??" Marino is now in a complete fog.

"I asked for the blueberry ice cream. Paramahamsa Maharaja was in the room with me and I wanted to introduce you. He's Prabhupada's traveling secretary, and you never showed up. That's embarrassing for me, you know. He's a very dear godbrother and friend of mine."

"Maharaja, weren't you in the room with Prabhupada?"

"You brought the ice cream to Prabhupada?" A look of indignation comes over Maharaja's face. "Bhakta Bozo, I wanted that ice cream for Paramahamsa Maharaja. Now you made me look like a fool. Just for that, tomorrow morning when Prabhupada goes out for his morning walk, you are not going on it."

Marino is in tears by this time. "Maharaja, what are you doing? You can't do this to me? It was a mistake. It was an accident."

Vishnujana bursts out in laughter. "A firm lesson you should learn with the Lord's pure devotee, there are no accidents." Maharaja can feign anger really well. "You met Prabhupada because you were supposed to meet Prabhupada. Somehow or other, things were arranged that way. I don't feel bad that you gave it to Prabhupada, actually that's parampara. And no uninitiated devotees go on the morning walks anyway."

Maharaja smoothes things over after play-acting the anger. He's actually happy it happened the way it did and Prabhupada got Radha-Damodara's ice-cream prasadam. By that misunderstanding, Marino got the mercy to personally serve prasadam to Srila Prabhupada.

Extracted from "Radha-Damodara Vilasa" by Vaiyasaki das Adhikari, Vol.2.

Tuesday, 5 January 2016

Your voice unites our devotee family

Yamuna devi dasi, beloved daughter of Srila Prabhupada, departed Dec. 20th, 2011 on morning of Saphala Ekadasi.

       Malati Devi Dasi: Hare Krishna Respected Vaishnavas: With immense sorrow and deep regret, I beg to report the departure of Her Grace Yamuna devi dasi, premier disciple of Srila Prabhupada, known for her deeply spiritual qualities and connection with His Divine Grace, for her glorious offering of the Govindam prayers that we hear and chant daily, for her love of pure kirtan, for her ecstatic award winning cook books which were infused with spiritual anecdotes, for greatly inspiring and encouraging the younger generation of ISKCON devotees in their KC, on this morning of Saphala Ekadasi, in her Melborne Beach Florida ashram-kutir which she shared with her dearest friend and companion in devotional service, Dinatarine. I cannot even begin to describe this profound loss. Since poor health has been giving her so much pain and suffering there can be little doubt that Krishna gently called her back to His loving shelter. Nonetheless, please offer your loving prayers on her behalf.
        Dear Yamuna Prabhu , please, accept our loving prayers. Thank you very much for inspiring and encouraging in our Krishna consciousness. Thanks so much for your nectareous memoirs on Vishnujana Swami:

        Yamuna devi dasi: From the day that he came to the temple, he loved it—hook, line, and sinker… We had a doors-open policy all day, and we used to have our lunches together. Then he would just hang around throughout the day and talk. He immediately became attracted to Krishna consciousness. Within three days he was totally into it. Some people come and just see that Krishna is where they’re meant to be. There are devotees I’ve known through the ages, that when they walk through the door and spend a few days they really pick up where they left off in a previous life. They’re just at home. In the case of Vishnujana, it was very clear within a few days of his arrival that this was where he had to be for the rest of his life.

        Yamuna devi dasi: I led the kirtan in the van and when we got there, we all took turns leading the kirtan. There’s a picture of Vishnujana, Tamal Krishna, and I on that first kirtan. I recall that it was at Fisherman’s Wharf, and we had a microphone. It was our first sankirtana out together. Vishnujana and I used to lead kirtans. In those days we didn’t have kirtan luminaries. It was a sharing; whoever wanted to grab the microphone. All of us led kirtan, and Vishnujana’s were relishable. We chanted together for several months, and I can just remember his stamina. He had really intense stamina for drumming for many hours.

        Yamuna devi dasi: Vishnujana was an attractive man, the kind of human being that you want people to be. His good qualities showed up immediately.

 This is absolutely true regarding you too.
        Once the Beatles song Yesterday was recognized as the Greatest Song of All Time. The Beatles really have to do with Greatest Song of All Time, but it's actually another song - it's the Govindam Adi Purusam prayers that thousands of devotees listen and sing all over the world... And these the Govindam prayers will sound the next 10 thousand years all over the world as an expression of love and pure devotion. Dear Yamuna Prabhu , your voice is part and parcel of our love to Srila Prabhupada and Krishna, and it unites our devotee family. Your Govindam prayers is the Greatest Song of All Time because it is a song from the spiritual world.

Monday, 5 October 2015

Perfect Questions, Perfect Answers

                                                                        Seattle – October, 1968 

       Prabhupada lectures three nights a week. He begins every class with the chanting of the “Govindam Prayers,” and then reads from his unpublished manuscript Teachings of Lord Caitanya. This Friday evening he speaks about attaining the Supreme. (Lecture, Seattle, October 4, 1968)

        Vishnujana is inspired by the class. “How do we render perfect service to Krishna?” he asks Prabhupada.
        “By your anxiety,” Prabhupada replies. “If you are anxious, to serve Krishna that is the real asset. Krishna is unlimited. What service we can offer to Him? He has unlimited servants. What service does He require from you and me? He is perfect in Himself. He doesn’t require any service. But if you are anxious to serve Him, then He does not refuse. That is His mercy. That is His magnanimity. So the more you increase your anxiety to serve Krishna, the more it becomes perfect. The more you serve Krishna, the more He accepts you and the more He gives you intelligence. You see? So the spiritual world is unlimited. There is no end of service, and there is no end of accepting the service. So eagerness.
        “Then Krishna will give you intelligence, tesam satata-yuktanam bhajatam priti-purvakam dadami buddhi-yogam tam, to anyone who is engaged with love and affection in My service without any hypocrisy. Krishna can understand everything, He is within me, within you, then He will give you intelligence. ‘My dear boy, you do like this.’ And by doing that, what he will achieve? Yena mam upayanti te—‘He will come back to Me.’ So simply your eagerness is the perfection for serving Krishna. Increase that eagerness. And eagerness means if you love Krishna, that eagerness will increase with your increase of love. ‘How I shall serve Krishna?’
        “Because you are a voluntary servant, nobody is forcing. That means unless you love Krishna, how that eagerness will increase? So there are so many things to love Krishna. Beginning is this sravanam kirtanam. This sravanam, hearing, and chanting. Hearing, you are hearing Hare Krishna, you are hearing Bhagavad-gita , you are hearing Srimad-Bhagavatam about Krishna, and chanting. This is the beginning. Then, naturally, sravanam kirtanam visnoh smaranam pada-sevanam arcanam vandanam dasyam sakhyam atma-nivedanam. These nine kinds of different varieties of service to Krishna will enlighten you, will advance you in Krishna consciousness, and your life will be successful.”

        On the following Monday, the temple is filled with hippies who have heard that a wise man from India is in town. Prabhupada gives an interesting discourse on the authority of the Vedas. (Lecture, Seattle, October 9, 1968) He explains how Krishna is the supreme power, authority, and witness. Nothing can be accomplished without the sanction of the Lord. Therefore, we are all dependent. So how is it that some do meritorious work while others do evil deeds?
        The answer, Prabhupada explains, is our individual free will or independence. The Lord sanctions our activities. Even when we do nonsense for sense gratification, it is also sanctioned but unwillingly, against the will of the Lord. When we cooperate with the Lord, that is called bhakti. Bhakti-yoga means acting to please Krishna. When Krishna is satisfied our lives become successful. So whatever vocation we have that should be utilized to satisfy the Lord. The perfection of one’s life is considered in direct relationship with the satisfaction of the Supreme Lord. 

        Vishnujana has been listening carefully. After many questions from the audience, he wants to clear up a point. “Then all our faculties of perception will be purified by adopting this Krishna consciousness, and we can understand?”
  “Yes,” Prabhupada confirms. “Krishna consciousness means purification of all faculties, because the faculties work on the basis of consciousness. Just like if my mind is pure, then my seeing is pure. Similarly, if my consciousness is pure, my mind is pure. So of all the senses the central sense is mind. And behind mind, there is intelligence. And behind intelligence, there is consciousness. This consciousness, if purified, then the whole thing is purified. If this consciousness is polluted, then the whole thing is polluted. So we have to purify the consciousness. That is Krishna consciousness.”
        Vishnujana pursues the point. “So then a man who does not have purified consciousness has no way of knowing what is good or bad.”
        “He is in illusion,” Prabhupada agrees. “That is called maya. He is accepting something bad as good. Just like one is accepting this body as self. The whole world is moving, accepting this body as the self, dehatma-buddhiu. But I am not this body. That is a fact. So it is illusion.”

                                                  Los Angeles – February, 1969
        Devotees see that Vishnujana has taken Prabhupada’s teaching to heart. His questions in class reflect his desire to mold his life around the chanting of the Hare Krishna maha-mantra.
        “How will it be possible, Prabhupada, for a man whose mind is clouded to constantly chant Hare Krishna? A man who’s always thinking thoughts about family, friends, country, nation?”
        Prabhupada is chuckling as he answers this question. “As Maya is forcing you, dragging you from this Krishna consciousness, you also force Maya by chanting Hare Krishna. There is a fight. We are not afraid of Maya because Krishna is there. Maya cannot do anything. Simply you have to become strong. And what is that strength? Chant Hare Krishna, Hare Krishna, Krishna Krishna, Hare Hare, loudly.” (Lecture, December 23, 1968)
        “In the material world there are instruments to measure different kinds of energy. What is the instrument for measuring Krishna’s spiritual energy?”
        “That instrument you have got,” Prabhupada says with a smile. “This mridanga and cymbal. Just vibrate. It is very simple. The instrument is your tongue. Chant Hare Krishna. The instrument is your ear. Simply hear the vibration. You have got all the instruments with you. You haven’t got to purchase or hire from anywhere. You have got the tongue and you have got the ear. Simply chant Hare Krishna and hear. Finished. All perfection is there.” (Lecture, February 21, 1969)
        “Lord Jesus Christ said that if you would see God, your eye must be single. Was he referring to that same statement that love of God is that single eye?”
        “What do you understand by this statement?” Prabhupada questions his disciple.
        “I understand that your attention would be one-pointed on God.”
        “That’s it. When you actually see God, you cannot see anything except God. That is God-seeing. That is stated in Caitanya-caritamrita, sthavor jangam dekhe na dekhe tava murti. A highly-elevated devotee sees trees or animals are moving and nonmoving, but he does not see their form. Everywhere he sees Krishna. Krishna says ‘There are millions of varieties of forms of life, but I am the seed-giving father.’ So a devotee sees, ‘Oh, here is a son of Krishna. Here is a son of Krishna.’
        “So if you love somebody, as soon as you see his son, you immediately remember who’s son he is. Therefore he sees the tree but immediately remembers, ‘Oh, it is Krishna’s.’ He sees a dog; he immediately sees he is Krishna’s. He sees a watch; he immediately sees it is Krishna’s. Therefore he is single-eyed. That’s all. He has no other vision. Everything is Krishna’s. Therefore he wants to take everyone toward Krishna, ‘Please come to Krishna consciousness. You are Krishna’s. Why are you identifying with this nonsense? Why are you thinking American, Indian, this or that? Come to Krishna.’ This is our propaganda. We want to give eyes to the people. They are blind and their leaders are blind. They do not know what is their ultimate goal of life. So what Lord Jesus Christ says, it is right.” (Lecture, November 18, 1968)
        Vishnujana is impressed. “How do you make everything that you say so simple to understand?”
        “Because the whole philosophy is so simple,” Prabhupada humbly answers. “God is great, you are not great. Don’t claim that you are God. Don’t claim that there is no God. There is God and He is great, and you are small. Then what is your position? You have to serve Krishna. This is simple truth. So that rebellious attitude is called maya. We have to cure them by this transcendental vibration, Hare Krishna. This is the curing process only. Simply let them hear and they’ll gradually be cured. So this is the mantra to awake the sleeping human society. The Vedas says, ‘O human race, please get up. Don’t sleep any more. You have got this opportunity of human body. Utilize it. Get yourself out of the clutches of maya.’ This is the declaration of Vedas. So you are doing that job. Chant Hare Krishna and they’ll be cured.”

                                                        Los Angeles – March, 1970
        Rsabhadeva: One day we were waiting for Vishnujana. We had just taken lunch prasadam and were in the van waiting for him to come down from Prabhupada’s quarters. He was having a personal darshan.

        He came down and said, “Wow, Prabhupada just blew my mind. I asked him, ‘You have written that a devotee should chant 24 hours a day. How is that possible? What do you mean by that? Are we supposed to stay awake? Does the pure devotee stay awake and chant? Do we chant and preach at the same time? What do you mean by chanting 24 hours a day?’ Then Prabhupada told me that either you chant kirtan, you chant japa, or you chant with your tongue—forming the name with your tongue—or in your mind. But always the maha-mantra.”
        You could see the whole time he was speaking, he was absorbed in what Prabhupada had just said. Rather than being eager to tell it to others, he was fixing himself up in this instruction. It was still echoing in his mind and he was reflecting. It really affected him heavily.

                                                            Los Angeles – June, 1975


   Visnujana Swami:  Bhaktivinode Thakur stated that he was leaving this planet with his work unfinished.

   Srila Prabhupada:  Then let us finish. We are descendant of Bhaktivinode Thakur. So he kept unfinished so that we shall get the chance to finish it. That is his mercy. He could have finished immediately. He is Vaisnava, he is all-powerful. But he gave us the chance. It is Bhaktivinode Thakur’s mercy.

Extracted from "Radha-Damodara Vilasa" by Vaiyasaki das Adhikari, Vol.1& "FOLLOWING SRILA PRABHUPADA" DVD 9, ISKCON Cinema.