Kathy Haler. Goddess Gayatri. Practice and Attain Sudden Enlightenment. Chan Master Ch'an Yuan. Bhavishya Purana. A Hindu Primer. His Holiness the 14th Dalai Lama. Shambhala Publications. Great Men Of India. Srimad Bhagavad Gita. Ashok K. Sharma Ph. The Osho Way in Romance with Life. Swami Chaitanya Keerti. Discovering the Causes of Happiness. Jampa Thaye. How to Conduct Puja to SriRamachandra. Satyopanisad Volume 1.
Anil Kumar Kamaraju. The Deathbed Sutra of the Buddha. Adams Jr. Ritual and Devotion in Buddhism. Vajra and Bell.
Dwight Goddard. Bhai Sahib Randhir Singh. Makeover for the Mind. Indulekha M. Initiation into Reality. Hans Meijer. Lord Buddha. Sager Qu. Bhagvat Gita, Song of God. Yama Gita. Munindra Misra. Pandit Shriram Sharma Acharya. Easy Guide to Meditation.
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His very presence had convinced me that I was ready for this next step in my spiritual journey. That evening I told my family I might get initiated. They knew I had been visiting the temple, but they felt initiation an extreme step. Seeing my new life in relation to their family circle, they thought I was abandoning them. My one-year-younger brother David seemed worried that I might be crazy, our sisters, Carol and Joanne, a few years younger than us, looked crushed at heart, and my mother and father felt rejected. Hayagriva came over to watch me. So if you chant one good round, beads, you surpass the knowledge of the Upanisads.
It takes one and a half to two hours. That is the standard in our tradition. We tried it, but it was impossible. Then he reduced it to thirty-two; but we still said it was impossible. So he agreed we could do sixteen a day, rock bottom. Those are the scriptures Swamiji reads from each day. So all the original knowledge is in the Vedic scriptures. The initiation ceremony connects you with that disciplic chain.
You and Bob will be numbers eighteen and nineteen. On one level I knew that this was exactly what I had been searching for my whole life. That evening Prabhupada spoke to my heart during his lecture. It is just addressing the Supreme Lord and His energy, Hara. Hara is the energy and Krsna is the Supreme Lord. So we are addressing, Hare Krsna, Hare Krsna. Please pick me up and fix me as one of the atoms of Your lotus feet. Just like a man fallen in the ocean.
If somebody goes and picks him just one inch above the water, he feels immediately relieved. So as soon as we are fixed up in Krsna consciousness, there is immediate relief. There is no question about it. It is such a nice thing. If I had left Krsna and made the mistake of coming to this netherworld, looking for an enjoyment that cannot be found here, I surely needed to ask Krsna to accept me.
Having never witnessed an initiation before, nor ever having met any girls who had been initiated, I had no idea how to dress for the ceremony. So I wore what I considered my most spiritual garb: black jeans and a black long-sleeve turtleneck jersey. The front room was full of gladiola and roses in large vases, a heavenly frankincense aroma permeated the air, and cinderblocks enclosed a small sandpit.
Prabhupada sat comfortably on a thin mat, before about thirty devotees and guests, and after reciting some Sanskrit verses, he began his lecture. Right from the onset, he explained the Vedas. He said that they are not compiled by defective human knowledge, and neither are they experimental knowledge. Krsna Himself spoke the Vedas to his liberated disciple Brahma, the first created being, who spoke it to his disciple, and so on. Because the spiritual master comes in this disciplic succession of teachers directly from Krsna, he has rightly heard the Vedic message from the right source and thus can give us this perfect knowledge.
Prabhupada outlined four defects which we conditioned souls have that liberated souls do not have: we are illusioned, accepting unreal things as real; we have a tendency to cheat others; our senses are imperfect; and we make mistakes. When I first heard these things I balked, not wanting to admit that I was so flawed. But when Prabhupada explained that we are unable to even see in the dark, or even through a thin piece of paper, it became obvious that I should not expect to so easily see God. He said that because of these defects we cannot give perfect knowledge to anyone. The ceremony was exhilarating, and I felt as if I were being born into another world—a world operating on a higher level, a world in which there were answers to everything.
Out of everything Prabhupada said during that lecture, I felt that the best part came when he brought the Vedas into my own life—in a most intimate way. The supreme spiritual father is Krsna, and He is represented as the spiritual master. The spiritual mother is the Vedic scriptures. Veda mata. Just as mother tells the child about the father, the Vedic literature tells us about Lord Krsna and the spiritual master who is His representative.
Plagued with his own emotional problems, he had regularly taken his anger and frustrations out on the rest of the family. He must not really be my father. I was in wonder when Prabhupada went on to explain that when a disciple fully surrenders to a spiritual master, that spiritual master takes away the karma or sinful reactions of millions of his past lives, blessing the disciple with transcendental knowledge of his relationship with Krsna.
N. S. Venkatesh
I wondered when that full surrender would come. Practically speaking irreligion resides in places of gambling, prostitution, drinking and animal slaughter. Gambling and pride destroys truthfulness, illicit sex destroys cleanliness, intoxication destroys austerity and animal slaughter destroys mercy. By lying truthfulness is spoiled. If people are not good, then how can they expect peace and prosperity in the world?
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Previously, to me religion was simply whatever faith or denomination ones parents happened to be. If I would follow the roads outlined by the transcendental map-maker, I would eventually reach Krsna. Bob seemed as overwhelmed by all this as I was, oblivious to the Second Avenue street noises. One can be free from all offenses at the feet of Krsna by taking shelter of His holy name; but one cannot protect himself if he commits an offense at the feet of the holy name.
There are ten offenses mentioned in Padma Purana. If the result of Krsna consciousness does not take place, even after continuous hearing and chanting, it must be due to offenses only. That is the opinion of our previous acarya, Jiva Gosvami. If the devotee is not careful to avoid the ten kinds of offenses, then the feelings of separation in love of Krsna will not be visible by tears in the eyes and standing of the hair on end.
People must understand the glories of the Supreme. Therefore the devotees who engage in preaching the glories of the Lord are never to be decried; it is the greatest offense. This means Lord Jesus Christ also. Such vilification of devotees can ruin our spiritual lives. I felt bad that I had often criticized Jesus Christ, blaming him for the faults and hypocrisy I perceived in many people who claimed to be his followers, but I felt good that I was being corrected. When he or she finally tied the beads with a knot, I felt lighter and happier than I had ever felt before.
Then Prabhupada turned to me. Although I had been offering obeisances along with the other devotees, I never thought to ask what anyone was saying. His eyes were full of love, and I felt as if he were seeing deep into my innermost being. Your name is now Jadurani. Jadurani was the original queen of the Yadu dynasty in which Krsna Himself appeared five thousand years ago. Of course Krsna does not take birth.
He is like the sun—always present. The sun only appears to rise, or to be born in the morning, and to disappear, or die, in the evening. Despite this continual appearance and disappearance, the sun is always present. Similarly, Krsna never takes birth; He is eternal. But in order to glorify a particular, highly devoted family, He appears in that family. Jadurani was the wife of King Yadu, the head of the dynasty in which Krsna appeared. And you are servant. I watched as Prabhupada sprinkled powdered dyes on the sand in the sandpit. He added some sticks on top of the sand and lit a fire, feeding the fire with small pieces of the wood he had first dipped in melted ghee.
As he did this, he chanted mantras whose meaning I did not understand. We all repeated the word and then threw handfuls of sesame and barley seeds, soaked in ghee, into the fire. I had no idea why I was doing any of this. Even more mystifying was why Bob and I each threw a banana in the fire after all the mantras had been chanted. I was captivated by the ambiance of glorious ancientness that filled the room, and I wanted this moment to never end.
We all stood up and began a loud and joyful kirtana. During the kirtana one of the devotees came around to each of us and dotted our foreheads with ashes from the fire. After the kirtana we all offered obeisances—a gesture of our surrender. Prabhupada remained standing, his head slightly bent downward, respectfully reciting prayers to the predecessor spiritual masters, great devotees, incarnations of Krsna, just as he always did when we bowed down.
A few of us then followed him into his greeting room where he sat behind the small tin trunk he had brought with him from India. He acted as though nothing untoward had happened. I felt foolish. Then, out of kindness, he handed me one of his three-volume sets of Srimad- Bhagavatam First Cantos that he had published in India just before coming to America.
Bhagavatam means devotee, and also Krsna. It was as if he wanted to simultaneously conceal and announce that he already knew my future. That evening I went to one final party with my old crowd. I shunned all their offers of drinks and drugs, and just sat in a corner re-stringing my japa beads. A devotee had told me earlier that day that I was supposed to have tied a knot between each bead and not just have them like a necklace.
The knots, he said, signified the separation between the material and spiritual energies. Now, my friends thought I had gone crazy. Chutey, was there. He was a big, heavyset man with sloping shoulders. Chutey, this is Judy. I was amazed how he had so concisely explained a complicated issue, which theologists, theosophists, and scholars were spending centuries trying to figure out. The temple room was crowded that evening, with about seventy dancing and chanting devotees and guests. I peered through the back window as Prabhupada glided like a graceful swan into the courtyard, followed by Brahmananda, who carried his glasses and scriptures.
As they entered the temple room the kirtana reached a crescendo and we offered our prostrated obeisances. Prabhupada touched his head and hands on the dais seat as a gesture of respect to the painting of Radha and Krsna just above it, which had been made by his disciple Jagannatha dasa.