13th January 2020
"JUST CHANT HARE KRISHNA!"
No more chatting now as the transcription is going on. Most of the devotees during chatting are offering only their obeisances so my blessings to all those offering obeisances. And my blessings to all those chanting with us even though they write their obeisances or not. Yesterday during morning Bhagavatam class at Chowpatty temple my god brother Shyamsundar Prabhu released a book.
Chasing Rhinos with the Swamiby Syamsundara Dasa
You all also can purchase this.
At the time of book release he narrated about the pandal program in 1971 which was organised by Syamsundara Prabhu himself. When he was talking about that pandal program in 1971 at Cross Maidan he also mentioned His Holiness Radhanath Swami’s name and my name also. Because we both had gone there for the first time. We were not knowing each other at that time. He was from Chicago, America and I was from the village Aravade. We both were in audience. He shared memories about how we both came in contact with Srila Prabhupada and then became devotees. So we are grateful to him for organising the Cross Maidan pandal program. If he had not have arranged that we would not have come in contact with Srila Prabhupada and would not have become devotees. So we thank him and are grateful for his organisation and leadership in that program.
I was also thinking about how I came in contact with Srila Prabhupada and how I remained in contact with him. He also accepted me as his disciple and gave me the Hare Krishna maha-mantra. Whatever interactions I had with Srila Prabhupada regarding chanting, I was thinking of talking all that in this Japa talk. There are certain things which are termed as 'take aways'. It's difficult to say all the memories so I will have to narrate it briefly .
I picked up a few small books of Srila Prabhupada and a bead bag and then I also started doing kirtana when I was alone in my room and whenever my roommates used to be away. I was staying in Dadar , Mumbai along with some boys from my village. I had come here for my studies. Whatever I saw and learnt I used to try to follow those Hare Krishna devotees secretly. There was an advertisement that American sadhus are here. I had seen them dancing on the stage and I had also tried to dance with them at that time. When I came back, I closed the doors and windows of my room and I was dancing. So from that Hare Krishna festival I learnt this chanting, dancing and hearing and studying Srila Prabhupada's books and started implementing those things immediately. In 1972 Srila Prabhupada initiated me in Vrindavan and said, 'Chant 16 rounds daily'. I accepted the vows of doing that. When I received sannyasa initiation in 1975 that time he told me that as a sannyasi we should be chanting more and more rounds and not just 16 rounds. The way all Shad Goswamis used to keep on chanting. So that time Prabhupada inspired us to chant more and more as sannyasis. From time to time Srila Prabhupada would ask me, ‘Are you chanting?’ I always chanted, but still Prabhupada use to remind me, ‘Are you chanting?’ So for the pleasure of Srila Prabhupada I was chanting as well as doing kirtanas. I was doing kirtana for the pleasure of Guru and Gauranga. Srila Prabhupada was my Guru and for the pleasure of Gauranga and Sri Sri Radha and Krsna I was doing kirtanas.
I was fortunate to do kirtanas many times in presence of Srila Prabhupada. Many times I did kirtanas in Srila Prabhupada’s Guru puja in Mumbai, Vrindavan and Mayapur. 1976 on the day of Radhastami when I was doing Kirtana in Delhi , along with the many Kirtana leaders of ISKCON, I was singing Gaur Nityananda bol Haribol Haribol! We used to do kirtana singing this line many times. We had learnt this in Mayapur from Gaudiya math devotees. We would sing Haribol Haribol! So on that day of Radhastami I was singing the Hare Krishna maha-mantra along with this Haribol Haribol. And Prabhupada interrupted in between saying stop it! Stop it! Then I learnt and understood and reduced this Haribol Haribol to a large extent. Since then other ISKCON leaders also reduced this Haribol Haribolkirtana.
Back to Bombay. I was a brahmachari then. Srila Prabhupada was present in Mumbai. As far as I could remember I think it was the disappearance day of Srila Bhaktisiddhanta Saraswati Thakur. At noon Prabhupada did his offering to his Guru Maharaja's lotus feet. At the time of Puspanjali, Prabhupada told me to lead the manglacaran. I was standing at Srila Prabhupada’s side. So I started singing. I was singing and then others were following me. Then it was time of kirtana. On a disappearance day kirtana usually Gurvastakam is sung.
vande guroh sri-charanaravindam
So that day I was leading the Gurvastakam and while singing I reached up to the line
Srila Prabhupada was sitting next to me and he was also singing after me. That day kirtana was going brilliant and everybody was dancing. Then Srila Prabhupada indicated to give the microphone to him. I then kept the stand and microphone in front of Prabhupada. After that line Prabhupada started to lead and he completed the Gurvastakam. I had sung half and then he completed it and did Kirtan also. So on that day we both led the kirtana.
I will narrate one incident during one of the morning walks in Mumbai which is also mentioned in my book 'In Conversation with Srila Prabhupada'. Once during a morning walk on Juhu beach we asked him about why 16 rounds? What is its significance? Then he was explaining, sankhya purvak nama gan. There should be a fixed number of rounds. Srila Haridas Thakur used to chant 3 lakh names daily. When I asked , 'Why 16 rounds?' then Srila Prabhupada explained, ‘Chant 16000 rounds. Who is stopping you?' You can chant more and more.
Once when Srila Prabhupada was not well. Before that in 1976 in Vrindavan Srila Prabhupada inaugurated our Bullock Cart SankirtanaParty. When we Padayatris had gone in his room. Srila Prabhupada gave a guiding speech to all of us. At the end he said, ' yare dekha, tare kaha Hare krsna'-upadesa.'. Normally in Caitanya Caritamrita we read yare dekha, tare kaha 'krsna'-upadesa. But for padayatris he altered that order of Mahaprabhu and said ,' yare dekha, tare kaha Hare krsna'-upadesa.' so I understood , the objective of telling me to go on Bullock Cart Sankirtana is to spread the glories of Hare Krishna aha mantra. he wanted this Bullock Cart Sankirtana party to preach and succeed in spreading Hare Krishna maha-mantra. When this Sankirtana party was successfully moving about in India Prabhupada was very pleased with that. He wrote to one of his disciples, Nityananda Prabhu who was head of the farm community in America named new Talavan. 'We could have millions of such carts all over the world'. Such cart means our cart which was successfully preaching in India. He said we could have millions like this. So what was the objective of doing this Bullock Cart Sankirtana? yare dekha, tare kaha hare'krsna'-upadesa. Then I understood and that became my mission during Padayatra or even otherwise also, to preach and spread the glories of Hare Krishna maha-mantra which Srila Prabhupada wanted. So basically I was told to do this and then many other things also. So till date I am attempting to do that. Objective of this zoom conference 'Lets chant together' is also the same, to inspire you all. To increase your faith in Harinama, so that samsiddhir hari tosanam (SB1.2.13) or as Sri Rupa Goswami said
utsāhān niścayād dhairyāt
saṅga-tyāgāt sato vṛtteḥ
ṣaḍbhir bhaktiḥ prasidhyati
There are six principles favorable to the execution of pure devotional service: (1) being enthusiastic, (2) endeavoring with confidence, (3) being patient, (4) acting according to regulative principles [such as śravaṇaṁ kīrtanaṁ viṣṇoḥ smaraṇam [SB 7.5.23]—hearing, chanting and remembering Kṛṣṇa], (5) abandoning the association of nondevotees, and (6) following in the footsteps of the previous ācāryas. These six principles undoubtedly assure the complete success of pure devotional service. (NOI 3)
May you all achieve complete perfection in this.
In 1977 Srila Prabhupada had set out on a preaching mission. He had reached London, but his health deteriorated and he wanted to return to Vrindavan. He used to say Vrindavan is my home. So first he returned to Mumbai and I was also there. Our Padayatra Party was in Orissa. Prabhupada also gave me many other services. BBT travelling book distribution Sankirtana party which we had named Narada Muni SankirtanaParty which was also supervised by me. When Prabhupada came to Mumbai then I also came to Mumbai. As his health was not good there were no morning walks. Juhu beach morning walks stopped. Prabhupada was not even attending morning programs. He used to be in his room. Practically he was bedridden and used to take bed rest only. Prabhupada wanted we should do kirtana for his pleasure. He used to listen to kirtana while lying in bed. We also used to read some books like Caitanyacaritamrta for him. I also got the opportunity to do this many times. Only one devotee used to sit on the floor besides him and in a very soft tone played kartals and kirtana was done for him. I was fortunate to get the opportunity to do kirtana for him on many occasions in this way. Once we asked Srila Prabhupada, that we are doing all possible measures of medicines etc. to improve his health but is there anything else which we had still not done? Or any major remedy we hadn't tried yet? ‘Please tell us so that we can arrange for it, so that your health improves fast.' Then Prabhupada said, "Just chant Hare Krishna!" That is enough. There is nothing remaining to be tried. Do kirtana.’
One more occasion I was doing life membership preaching all over Mumbai travelling in local trains and returning in the evening. That day it was my turn to do kirtana for Srila Prabhupada. I was tired. So I was dozing many times while doing kirtana. In between I used to sleep then again get up and do kirtana and then was dozing again. Prabhupada noted that and he told me 'Go take rest.' He didn't chastise me, but felt merciful towards me and he told me to take rest.
On still one other occasion,one of my godbrother’s who is a very good singer was doing kirtana for Prabhupada. But I guess he was not relishing that. So Prabhupada told his servant, " Go find Lokanath!' Then Prabhupada’s servant came searching for me and gave me the message that Srila Prabhupada wants you to chant for him. Then I went and did kirtana. I realise that time that Srila Prabhupada used to like my kirtanas. So last night in Chowpatty Temple Kirtana Mela when I did kirtana, one of the devotees after finishing the kirtana met me and expressed himself, 'Thank you Maharaja for chanting for us'. So from that I was reminded that I also used to chant for Srila Prabhupada. Srila Prabhupada also used to be happy with my chanting. I used to do kirtana for him and he would appreciate that. Like this there are so many memories about kirtana and interactions and conversations with Srila Prabhupada. But now I will conclude with this.
We will meet again.