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of a Travelling Preacher, Chapter 9
rising today, I spent 10 minutes organizing my paraphernalia. I first
rolled up my sleeping bag and mat and placed them in a corner of the room.
Then I neatly folded my dirty clothes and placed them in a plastic bag
near the door for washing later. Afterwards I put away my clock,
flashlight, drinking cup and glasses in their respective places in my bag.
I even organized some of my host's belongings. I've realized over time
that one cannot think of Krishna in an unclean, untidy atmosphere. It's a
little difficult living "out of a bag" for 32 years, but the
secret is in Srila Prabhupada's formula: a place for everything, and
everything in its place. Each day I take the time to clean and organize
things around me, even if I'm there for only a day.
the past year I've also tried cutting down on several things: my eating,
my possessions, and unnecessary talk. For his own benefit, a sannyasi
should carry only the basic necessities of life and depend on the mercy of
the Lord.. Lord Caitanya Mahaprabhu gave several instructions to Ragunath
dasa Goswami that I strive more than ever to imbibe as guidelines in my
life as a sannyasi:
na sunibe, gramyavarta na kahibe
not talk like people in general or hear what they say. You should not eat
very palatable food, nor should you dress very nicely."
manada hana Krishna nama sada la'be
not expect honor, but offer all respect to others. Always chant the holy
name of Lord Krishna, and within your mind render service to Radha and
Krishna in Vrindavan."
one point, I was down to a single, small traveling bag, but out of
necessity (and for service) the list of possessions seems to have grown
again. For this diary I require my computer; for my bad back I need my
traveling sleeping mat; for cleanliness I take my own sleeping bag; and
because I often cross through different time zones and seasons, I'm
obliged to carry summer and winter gear. The best I can do in the spirit
of renunciation is to carry the smallest version of whatever I need. Thus
I have a compact Sony Vio computer; a tiny sleeping bag; a winter jacket
that rolls into a bag the size of my fist; and, believe it or not, a
collapsible danda. Lord Caitanya, please count me among your followers in
the renounced order, despite my extra luggage!
many ISKCON sannyasis don't use their dandas any more, I try to. Last year
I was becoming negligent in carrying it, then I had a dream of Srila
Prabhupada wherein he chastised me severely for not carrying a danda. Not
taking the dream seriously enough I continued to travel minus a danda,
when I had the same dream again! After that I began to think seriously
about carrying a danda and was planning to make a small one for traveling
purposes. Two nights later I again dreamt that Srila Prabhupada was
admonishing me for not carrying the mark of a sannyasi, a tridandi staff!
Since that very morning I carry a danda wherever I go!
7am myself and Uttamasloka left for the temple to perform an initiation
ceremony. On the way I saw many young ladies hitch-hiking. As I had never
seen this in Russia, I asked my driver, Kailash Candra, why the girls were
taking such a risk. He replied that they were prostitutes. He said the
city is rampant with prostitution, drugs and crime. Vladivostok has
degraded rapidly in recent years. It's a prime target for these vices
because it's a port and it shares a border with China. It certainly
appears as a rough-and-tumble city to me, the only shelter being our
temple perched upon one of Vladivostok's many hills.
was the first time I had seen the particular building we now have for a
temple here. The city officials, who are very appreciative of our Food for
Life program, arranged that we could have this facility for free. Formerly
it was a kindergarten. The devotees are repairing the spacious building
and developing the small park that surrounds it. The temple room is
complete and Gaura-Nitai and big Jagannath Deities grace the altar.
gave a one-hour lecture on the 10 offenses to the holy name, giving
particular emphasis to inattention. In the Teachings of Lord Caitanya,
Srila Prabhupada lists inattention as one of the 10 offenses. Srila Jiva
Goswami has written that inattention while chanting is the most serious
offense, because from inattention one commits all the other offenses to
the holy names.
the ceremony proceeded I accepted new disciples, giving them the names
Jivdoya dasa, Gaura Karuna dasa, Visnu Smaranam dasa, Anuttama dasa,
Satyavati dasi, Vraja Kumari dasi and Nirasraya Krishna dasi. This brings
the number of my spiritual sons and daughters to 1158.
the ceremony I met all my disciples from the region. The mother of one of
my disciples came to me with a unique problem. She has two sons. Her
devotee son recently moved to western Russia, but her second and younger
son lives with her. Her problem is that last year the younger son entered
the local College of Parapsychology and Magic. When she said this, I
looked at Vrajenda Kumara to see if what I heard was real. He told me that
many Russian people have a fascination for these subjects and the college
is very popular. It is accepted as a bona fide institution. She complained
that her son is majoring in Black Magic and stays up all night chanting
strange sounds and calling all kinds of weird spirits and ghosts into the
apartment. I got goose bumps just hearing the story!
went on to say that he's the best student in his class, but she was
terrified by his results. She was the first mother I ever heard who was
disappointed that her son was achieving exemplary grades! She asked for
advice and I told her to try to convince her son to give up school! I also
told her to take shelter of the holy names. I asked for a Krishna book,
and read Srila Prabhupada's advice from the chapter "Putana
Killed." I often quote this passage when people ask me how to deal
with subtle spirits.
mother Yasoda chanted different names of Visnu to protect child Krishna's
different bodily parts. Mother Yasoda was firmly convinced that she should
protect her child from different kinds of evil spirits and ghosts - namely
Dakinis, Yatudhanis, Kusmandas, Yaksas, Raksasas, Vinayakas, Kotaras,
Revatis, Jyesthas, Putanas, Matrkas, Unmadas and similar other evil
spirits, who cause persons to forget their own existence and give trouble
to the life airs and the senses . . . no such ghosts and evil spirits can
remain where there is chanting of the holy name of God."
evening I gave Bhagavad-gita class in the Hare Krishna Cafe in downtown
Vladivostok. The small store-front was packed with more than 100 devotees
and guests. I spoke on Bhagavad-gita 2.59 for over an hour and a half,
emphasizing the importance of strictly following sadhana in order to have
the strength to resist the temptation of maya. I offered my own theory
that many devotees leave Krishna consciousness simply because they don't
chant the holy names enough. I remember in the beginning of the movement
when I joined, besides our strong commitment to chanting japa in the
temple room in the association of other devotees each day, we would also
go for street chanting for up to five or six hours a day. In the evening
we would return for arati and then have class. We were literally absorbed
in the holy names for as many hours as possible each day. Of course, the
method of sankirtan changed and with it harinam sankirtan became a weekend
affair at best. That may well have been necessary. Nevertheless, we did
lose a lot of association with the holy name, which is our savior and
redeemer. I feel that if devotees found time to chant more now there would
be less personal and collective problems in our movement.
name is the purest form of knowledge, the best of all vratas or vows and
the highest meditation. It gives the ultimate auspicious results and is
the most sublime renunciation. Chanting is a matchless spiritual activity,
the holiest of pious activities, and the supreme path of self-realization.
It offers the greatest liberation and goal. The holy name is divine and
situated in the paramount spiritual realm, it is super-excellent
devotional service and the best purifying agent, showering love of
Godhead. It is the essence of all scriptures, the cause of everything, the
supreme Absolute Truth, the most worshipful object, and acts as the
supreme spiritual instructor and guide." [Sri Harinam Cintamani]
© CHAKRA 29 April 2001
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