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The building was humble, the membership small, yet Srila Prabhupada’s vision encompassed the whole world.

Amid the cacophony of a storefront at 26 Second Avenue in New York, Srila Prabhupada had begun teaching the science of Krsna consciousness to a motley congregation drawn from the local community. Then, in his characteristically farseeing way, he founded the International Society for Krishna Consciousness.

We shall call our society ISKCON

Incorporating ISKCON - YouTube

We shall call our society ‘ISKCON.’” Prabhupada laughed playfully when he first coined the acronym.

He had initiated the legal work of incorporation that spring, while still living on the Bowery. But even before its legal beginning, Prabhupada had been talking about his “International Society for Krishna Consciousness,” and so it had appeared in letters to India and in The Village Voice. A friend had suggested a title that would sound more familiar to Westerners, “International Society for God Consciousness,” but Prabhupada had insisted: “Krishna Consciousness.” “God” was a vague term, whereas “Krishna” was exact and scientific; “God consciousness” was spiritually weaker, less personal. And if Westerners didn’t know that Krishna was God, then the International Society for Krishna Consciousness would tell them, by spreading His glories “in every town and village.”

Krishna consciousness” was Prabhupada’s own rendering of a phrase from Srila Rupa Goswami’s Padyavali, written in the sixteenth century. Krsna-bhakti-rasa-bhavita. “to be absorbed in the mellow taste of executing devotional service to Krishna.”

But to register ISKCON legally as a nonprofit, tax-exempt religion required money and a lawyer. Carl Yeargens had already had some experience in forming a religious organization, and when he had met Prabhupada on the Bowery he had agreed to help. He had contacted his lawyer, a young Jewish man named Stephen Goldsmith.

Stephen Goldsmith had a wife and two children and an office on Park Avenue, yet he maintained an interest in spirituality. When Carl told him about Prabhupada’s plans, he was immediately fascinated by the idea of setting up a religious corporation for an Indian swami. He visited Prabhupada at 26 Second Avenue, and they discussed incorporation, tax exemption, Prabhupada’s immigration status — and Krishna consciousness. Mr. Goldsmith visited Prabhupada several times. Once he brought his children, who liked the “soup” Prabhupada cooked. He began attending the evening lectures, where he was often the only nonhippie member of the congregation. One evening, having completed all the legal groundwork and being ready to complete the procedures for incorporation, Mr. Goldsmith came to Prabhupada’s lecture and kirtana to get signatures from the trustees for the new society.

July 11. Prabhupada is lecturing.

Mr. Goldsmith, wearing slacks and a shirt and tie, sits on the floor near the door, listening earnestly to the lecture, despite the distracting noises from the neighborhood.

Prabhupada has been explaining how scholars mislead innocent people with nondevotional interpretations of the Bhagavad-gita. Now, in recognition of the attorney’s respectable presence, and as if to catch up Mr. Goldsmith’s attention better, Prabhupada introduces him into the subject of the talk.

I will give you a practical example of how things are misinterpreted. Just like our president, Mr. Goldsmith, he knows that expert lawyers, by interpretation, can do so many things. When I was in Calcutta, there was a rent tax passed by the government, and some expert lawyer changed the whole thing by his interpretation. The government had to reenact a whole law, because their purpose was foiled by the interpretation of this lawyer. So we are not out for foiling the purpose of Krishna, for which the Bhagavad-gita was spoken. But unauthorized persons are trying to foil the purpose of Krishna. Therefore, that is unauthorized.

All right, Mr. Goldsmith, you can ask anything.

Mr. Goldsmith stands, and to the surprise of the people gathered, he makes a short announcement asking for signers on an incorporation document for the Swami’s new religious movement.

Prabhupada: They are present here. You can take the addresses now.

Mr. Goldsmith: I can take them now, yes.

Prabhupada: Yes, you can. Bill, you can give your address. And Raphael, you can give yours. And Don…. Raymond. … Mr. Greene.

As the meeting breaks up, those called to sign as trustees come forward, standing around in the little storefront, waiting to leaf passively through the pages the lawyer has produced from his thin attache, and to sign as he directs. Yet not a soul among them is committed to Krishna consciousness. The lawyer meets his quota of signers, but they’re merely a handful of sympathizers who feel enough reverence toward the Swami to want to help him.

The first trustees, who will hold office for a year, “until the first annual meeting of the corporation,” are Michael Grant (who puts down his name and address without reading the document), Mike’s girlfriend Jan, and James Greene. No one seriously intends to undertake any formal duties as trustee of the religious society, but they are happy to help the Swami by signing his fledgling society into legal existence.

According to law, a second group of trustees will assume office for the second year. They are Paul Gardiner, Roy, and Don. The trustees for the third year of office are Carl Yeargens, Bill Epstein, and Raphael.

No one knows exactly what the half-dozen legal-sized typed pages mean, except that “Swamiji is forming a society.” Why?

For tax exemption, in case someone gives a big donation, and for other benefits an official religious society might receive.

But these purposes hardly seem urgent or even relevant to the present situation in the little storefront. Who’s going to make donations? Except maybe for Mr. Goldsmith, who has any money?

But Prabhupada is planning for the future, and he’s planning for much more than just tax exemptions. He is trying to serve his spiritual predecessors and fulfill the scriptural prediction of a spiritual movement that is to flourish for ten thousand years in the midst of the Age of Kali. Within the vast Kali Age (a period that is to last 432,000 years), the 1960s are an insignificant moment.

The Vedas describe that the time of the universe revolves through a cycle of four “seasons,” or yugas, and Kali-yuga is the worst of times, in which all spiritual qualities of men diminish, until humanity is finally reduced to a bestial civilization devoid of human decency. Yet for ten thousand years after the advent of Lord Caitanya there is the possibility of a Golden Age of spiritual life, an eddy that runs against the current of Kali-yuga. With a vision that soars off to the end of the millennium and far beyond, and yet with his two feet planted solidly on Second Avenue, Srila Prabhupada has begun an International Society for Krishna Consciousness. He has many practical responsibilities: he has to pay the rent, and he has to incorporate his society and pave the way for a thriving worldwide congregation of devotees. Somehow, he doesn’t see his extremely reduced present situation as a deterrent from the greater scope of his divine mission. He knows that everything depends on Krishna, so whether he succeeds or fails is all up to the Supreme. He has only to try.
The Seven Purposes of ISKCON

The purposes stated within ISKCON’s articles of incorporation reveal Prabhupada’s thinking. They are seven points, similar to those given in the Prospectus for the League of Devotees he had formed in Jhansi, India, in 1953. That attempt had been unsuccessful, yet his purposes remained unchanged.

Regardless of how ISKCON’s charter members regarded the Society’s purposes, Srila Prabhupada saw them as imminent realities. As Mr. Ruben, the subway conductor who had met Prabhupada on a Manhattan park bench in 1965, remembers, “He seemed to know that he would have temples filled up with devotees. ‘There are temples and books,’ he said. ‘They are existing, they are there, but the time is separating us from them.’”

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This article presents the necessary information about Chaturmasya-vrata, its purpose, its period, fasting during Chaturmasya, etc.

The Chaturmasya period begins in the month of Ashadha (June-July) and ends in the month of Kartika (October-November). Chaturmasya means “four months”, which is the duration that Vishnu sleeps. This year it falls from 16 July 2019 to 12 Nov 2019.

Some Vaishnavas observe Chaturmasya from the full-moon day of Ashadha until the full-moon day of Kartika. Others observe Chaturmasya according to the solar month from Shravana to Kartika. The whole period, either lunar or solar, takes place during the rainy season. Chaturmasya should be observed by all sections of the population. It does not matter whether one is a grihastha or a sannyasi. The real purpose behind the vow taken during these four months is to minimize the quantity of sense gratification.

In the month of Shravana one should not eat spinach, in the month of Bhadra one should not eat yogurt, and in the month of Ashvina one should not drink milk. One should not eat fish or other non-vegetarian food during the month of Kartika. A non-vegetarian diet means fish and meat. Similarly, masur dhal and urad dhal are also considered non-vegetarian. These two dhals contain a great amount of protein, and food rich in protein is considered non-vegetarian. On the whole, during the four-month period of Chaturmasya one should practice giving up all food intended for sense enjoyment.

– A.C. Bhaktivedanta Swami Prabhupada,
Sri Chaitanya Charitamrita, Madhya-lila 4.169

During festivals of the Lord (i.e. Balarama Purnima, Sri Krishna Janmashtami, Radhashtami, etc) all preparations are offered to the Lord and Chaturmasyavrata of restrictive honouring of even foods in the above categories does not apply.

The observance of Chaturmasya regulations is often described in the karma kanda (ritualistic performances for material fruitive benefit) portion of the Vedic scriptures. Devotees follow the Chaturmasyavrata not for any material benefit, but only for enhancing their devotional service to Krishna.

In the karma-kanda section of the Vedas it is said, apamasomamamrtaabhuma and aksayyam ha vaicaturmasya-yajinahsukrtambhavati. In other words, those who perform the four-month penances become eligible to drink the soma-rasa beverages to become immortal and happy forever.

– Bhagavad-gita, 2.42

Chaturmasya-vrata

In the Vedas it is said that one who observes the Chaturmasya-vrata will attain eternal happiness in the heavenly kingdom. One who performs the Chaturmasya-vrata becomes pious. By becoming pious, one may be promoted to the higher planetary systems. In the Bhagavad-gita, it is said that this flowery language of the Vedas mostly attracts persons who identify with the body. To them such happiness as that of the heavenly kingdom is everything; they do not know that beyond that is the spiritual kingdom, or kingdom of God.

Purpose of Chaturmasya-vrata

Sannyasis are generally meant to travel all over the country for preaching work, but during the four months of the rainy season in India, from July through October, they do not travel but take shelter in one place and remain there without moving. This non movement of the sannyasi is called Chaturmasya-vrata. When a sannyasi stays in one place for these four months, the local inhabitants of that place take advantage of his presence to become spiritually advanced.

During these four months, saintly persons who are accustomed to travel from one place to another to propagate Krishna consciousness remain at one place, usually a holy place of pilgrimage. During these times, there are certain rules and regulations which are strictly followed. It is stated in the SkandaPurana that during this period, if someone circumambulates the temple of Vishnu at least four times, it is understood that he has travelled all over the universe. By such circumambulation, one is understood to have seen all the holy places where the Ganges water is flowing, and by following the regulative principles of Chaturmasya one can very quickly be raised to the platform of devotional service.

Below is a list of food items that should not be consumed during the Chaturmasya period :

Month

Fasting From

Items to be avoided

Exceptions

Shravana
(Jul 16 – Aug 14)
Shak Red and Green Spinach. All varieties of Shak (Green leafy vegetables) Coriander leaves, Methileaves, Pudhina and Curry leaves. However, Cabbage can be taken as it is not Shak.
Bhadra
(Aug 15 – Sep 13)
Curd / Yogurt Any item in which curd is the major ingredient: Kadi, Pacchadi, Butter milk, Lassi, etc. If little curd (two or three spoons) is added in Sabji to get taste, it will not break the vow. Charanamrita should be honoured even if it contains curd in it.
Ashvina
(Sep 14 – Oct 12)
Milk Any item in which milk is the major ingredient: Sweet Rice preparation using milk, Milk Shakes, Ice Creams, Condensed Milk, etc. Milk Sweets (like Peda, Rasagulla, Sandesh), Milk products (like Paneer, Cheese) since milk is transformed and used. Charanamrita should be honoured even if it contains milk in it.
Kartika
(Oct 12 – Nov 12)
Urad Dhal Idli, Dosa or any other preparation containing Urad Dhal should not be taken.
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Srila Bhaktivinoda Thakura (1838-1914) is a prominent preceptor acharya in our succession of spiritual masters and disciples coming from Lord Krishna. He was a pioneering spiritual leader, a householder, a magistrate working in colonial India under the British rule, a prolific preacher, writer, and poet. Honoured as the “Seventh Gosvami”, he wrote volumes of books reintroducing the pure teachings of Lord Chaitanya at a time when those teachings had practically become lost. He composed hundreds of devotional songs glorifying Krishna to uplift the consciousness of the suffering people of this world. He corresponded with philosophers, theologians, leaders, scholars, and professors of his time and sent books, including The Life and Precepts of Lord Chaitanya, to university libraries in foreign countries, planting the seeds for a worldwide movement of Krishna consciousness.

Sri Sacidananda Bhaktivinoda Thakura appeared in 1838 in a wealthy family in the Nadia district, West Bengal.His childhood name was Kedaranatha Datta.

Thakura Bhaktivinoda took Vaisnava diksa from Sri Vipin vihari Goswami in the line of Sri Jahnava Mata. And later received spiritual inspiration and direction from Srila Jagannatha Dasa Babaji.

Jaganath Das Babaji Maharaj – Shiksha Guru of Bhakti vinodaThakur.

Along with his devoted wife, Bhagavati Devi, he raised ten children, including the illustrious Bhakti siddhanta Saraswati Thakura, who later became a great spiritual leader in his own time and the spiritual master of ISKCON’s founder-acharya, His Divine Grace A.C. Bhaktivedanta Swami Prabhupada.

Always anxious to use every moment in loving service of Krishna, he followed a strict austere daily schedule :

8 p.m.-10 p.m.             Rest (two hours)
10 p.m.-4 a.m.             Write
4 a.m.-4:30 a.m.          Rest
4:30 a.m.-7 a.m.          Chant Japa
7 a.m.-7:30 a.m.          Correspondence
7:30 a.m.-9:30 a.m.     Study sastras
9:30 a.m.-10 a.m.        Bath,prasadam (half-litre milk, fruit, 2 chapatis)
10 a.m.-1 p.m.              Court Duties
1 p.m.-2 p.m.                Refresh at home
2 p.m.-5 p.m.               Court Duties
5 p.m.-7 p.m.               Translate Sanskrit sastras to Bengali
7 p.m.-8 p.m.               Bath,prasadam (half-liter milk, rice, 2chapatis)

Summary Daily Schedule:

Sleep             3 hours
Write            8.5 hours
Japa,study   4.5 hours
Work            6 hours

Biographers list three major preaching achievements of SrilaBhaktivinodaThakura:

(1) Wrote 100 authorized spiritual books.

(2) Discovered appearance place of Lord Caitanya.

(3) Introduced preaching innovations.

Apart from books (in Bengali, Oriya, English) explaining Mahaprabhu’s message, he wrote hundreds of poems and songs full of spiritual sentiments and sastrie siddhanta (philosophical conclusions).

Some of his well-known writings are

   Sri Krishna-samhita, KalyanaKalpa-taru, Sri Caitanya-siksamrta, Sri Navadvipa-dhamamahatmyam, Jaiva Dharma, Sri Harinama¬cintamani, Bhajana-rahasya, Gita-mala, Gitavalli, Saranagati, and commentaries on Bhagavad-gita and Caitanya-caritamrta.

Yoga Pitha – Appearance Place of Lord Chaitanya, Mayapur.

In 1888, SrilaBhaktivinodaThakura revealed Sri CaitanyaMahaprabhu’sjanmasthana at the Yogapitha in Sridhama Mayapur. Srila Jagannatha Dasa Babaji Maharaja, a famous siddha saint, and paramahamsa rasikaVaisnava, confirmed the Thakura’s discovery. This most auspicious event delighted the Gaudiya Vaisnavas from Gaura-mandala to Vraja-bhumi. He established the worship of Lord Gauranga and Srimati Vishnupriya at Yogapitha.

Gaura-Narayana and His two wives, Laksmipriya and Vishnupriya.

As he was keen to spread Lord Caitanya’s teachings in the Western countries, in 1896 he sent to universities around the world a book of slokas titled “Sri Gauranga-lilasmarana” which had a forty-seven page English introduction: “Sri Caitanya Mahaprabhu: His Life and Precepts.”

Chaitanya Mahaprabhu, His life and Precepts, the book sent by Bhaktivinoda to the West in 1896.

It should be noted that SrilaPrabhupada was born in 1896, which was the same year when BhaktivinodaThakura sent his books overseas.

Founder Acharya of ISKCON AC Bhaktivedanta Swami Prabhupada.

SrilaPrabhupada giving all credit to the previous acharyas once saidthat SrilaBhaktivinodaThakura was the origin of the Krishna Consciousness Movement in its pure form.

BhaktivinodaThakura made three predictions concerning a person and a phenomena: “A personality will soon appear,” wrote BhaktivinodaThakura, “and he will travel all over the world to spread the teachings of Lord Caitanya.”

His second prediction: “Very soon the chanting of ‘Harinamasankirtana will be spread all over the world. Oh, when will that day come when people from America, England, France, Germany, Russia will take up karatals and mrdangas and chant Hare Krishna in their towns?”

The third prediction: “When will that day come when the fair-skinned foreigners will come to Sri Mayapur-dhama and join with the Bengali Vaisnavas to chant, Jaya Sacinandana, Jaya Sacinandana. When will that day be? ”
All these predictions were brought to fruitionthroughSrilaPrabhupada by the grace of the previous acharyas.
In 1914, on the tirobhavatithi (disappearance day) of Sri Gadadhara Pandit (the incarnation of Sri Radha), ThakuraBhaktivinoda entered the Lord’s eternal pastimes.

Goura – Gadadhar, worshipable Deities of Bhaktivinoda Thakur in Godrumadvipa (Navadvipa)

In Radha-Madhava’snitya-vrajalilaBhaktivinodaThakura takes the form of Kamala-manjari to serve SrimatiRadharani. His pushpasamadhi is in his bhajanakutir at Radha-kunda.

Some interesting incidents that happened in the life of Srila Bhaktivinoda Thakur

The Emancipation of a Ghost

AtCamparana many people were worshiping a ghost who was living in a banyan tree. These dishonest people worshipped the ghost because he had the power to change the mind of the judge in the court to give the decision to favour the person who had worshiped him and the tree. ThakuraBhaktivinoda wanted to stop this nonsense mundane worship.

One day the father of PanditaRamabai, a famous girl scholar, came to Bhaktivinoda for alms and the Thakuraengaged him in reading Srimad-Bhagavatam underneath the tree where the ghost resided. After one month when the Srimad-Bhagavatam was completed, the tree crashed to the ground, and the brahma-daitya [ghost] left for good. After this incident, many people developed faith and attraction for the Srimad-Bhagavatam.

The Chastisement of the Mystic Bishakishena

In the town of Kamanale, near the capital of Orisa, there lived one powerful mystic named Bishakishena. By mystic power he could perform many powerful supernatural feats. He had two companions named Brahma and Siva, and he declared that he himself was Maha-Vishnu. All the small kings of Orisa bowed down to him and would regularly donate money. They would also send women for his rasa-lila dances. Bishakishena declared that he would drive away the British and become the King of Orisa. The British government thought that he was plotting a political revolution against the government and hence the District Governor sent out orders to arrest the offender. No one had the courage to touch him. The Orisa division then was under the charge of Mr. Ravenshaw, a District Commissioner from England. Mr. Ravenshaw knew the power of ThakuraBhaktivinoda, who was then the Deputy Magistrate at Puri. He especially requested and gave him charge of the prosecution of this bogus Maha-Vishnu.

When Bhaktivinoda approached the yogi to arrest him, Bishakishena showed some of his supernatural power and said to Bhaktivinoda, “Ah, you are Kedaranatha Datta and you have come here to inquire about my activities, but I warn you not to disturb my activities for I am the Supreme Lord Himself!” Bhaktivinoda then replied, “My dear sir, you are a great yogi. Why are you living here, you should come with me to JagannathaPuri where you can have the darshana of Lord Jagannatha.” To this Bishakishena angrily replied, “Why should I come to see Jagannatha? He is only a hunk of painted wood, whereas I am the Supreme Lord personally.” Bhaktivinodaimmediately arrested him and put him behind the bars at Puri.

Bhaktivinodalaid three dozen Muslim constables and seventy-two police men from Cuttack for guarding his cell day and night. The other two rascals who called themselves as Brahma and Shiva, were prosecuted by one Mr. Taylor who was the Sub-Division Officer at Kodar.

The trial of Bishakishenacontinued for eighteen days. On the sixth day of the trial Bhaktivinoda’s second daughter, fell so sick, that she was almost on the verge of death. This was an exhibition of the mundane mysticism of the Bishakishena.

On the last day of the trial the Thakura fell very ill with a high fever and suffered as severely as his daughter did. With great difficulty, he was carried to the courthouse. Upon beginning the trial he declared his final judgment that Bishakishena should be thrown in jail for eighteen months under strict imprisonment for political conspiracy. While Bishakishena was leaving the court, Doctor Walter, the District Medical Officer, caught hold of Bishakishena and cut off all his hair. By this Bishakishena lost all his power. After three months Bishakishena committed suicide by taking poison. By this pastime ThakuraBhaktivinoda and the energy of Lord Caitanya proved that any earthly aggrandizement or power cannot stand before the godly divine power of a pure devotee of the Lord.

The Story of Bankima Chandra

When Bhakti vinoda was staying at Barasat he met the well-known Bengali novelist Bankima Chandra. Bankim Chandra at that time had written a book on Krishnaand this book was full of Europeanized ideas and speculations and stated that Krishna was just a mundane person with some good qualities.

Bhaktivinodaargued with shastric references, and convinced Bankima Chandra to change his ideas and his book to agree with the divine teachings of Lord Caitanya Mahaprabhu.

Here are some interesting pictures from the life of Bhakti Vinoda Thakur :

Bhaktivinoda Thakur’s memorial at his birthplace in Birnagar, West Bengal

A shrine at the actual site of birth

The entrance to KedarnathDatta’s maternal home in Birnagar(Ula), West Bengal under renovation, 2014

Kedarnath Datta in official magistrate dress, late 1880s

KedarnathDatta’s seventh child Bimala Prasad, age 7 (1881)

KedarnathDatta’s family ca.1900

Bhaktivinoda’s shrine in Mayapur

(left)Bhaktivinoda Thakur’s photo with autograph and (right) the first page of his original SvalikhitaJivani. (1896)

At the request of his son, Lalita Prasad, in 1896 Bhaktivinoda wrote a detailed autobiography called SvalikhitaJivanithat covered 56 years of his life from birth up until that time. The book was published by Lalita Prasad in 1916 after Bhaktivinoda Thakur’s death.

The temple at CaitanyaMahaprabhu’s birthplace in Mayapur established by Bhaktivinoda Thakur.

Nama-hatta

Bhaktivinoda Thakur’s house at Surabhi-kunj (Mayapur) that served as the headquarters of his nama-hatta preaching.

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Philosophy of Life by Amit Goswami - 1M ago

Sri Vakreshvara Pandit was Lord Caitanya’s very dear servant and is considered to be the fifth branch of the Lord Caitanya’s tree,

In the Gaura-ganoddesa-Dipika(71) it is stated that Vakreshvara Pandita was an incarnation of Aniruddha, one of the quadruple expansions of Vishnu (Vasudeva, Sankarsana, Aniruddha, and Pradyumna). While some others like Vakreshvara Pandit’s initiated disciple Gopala Guru Gosvami and many others in Orissa, including Dhyan Chandra, a disciple of Gopala Guru Gosvami, says in his books that Vakreshvara Pandit is an incarnation of Tungavidya-Sakhi, an expert singer, and dancer serving as one of Srimati Radharani’s ashta-sakhis.

Vakreshvara Pandit was born in the village of Guptipara near Triveni.

He could dance wonderfully for seventy-two continuous hours. When Lord Caitanya Mahaprabhu played in dramatic performances in the house of Srivasa Pandita, Vakreshvara Pandita was one of the chief dancers, and he danced continuously for that length of time.

Vakreshvara Pandit was present with Sri Chaitanya Mahaprabhu during His pastimes in Navadwipa and after His acceptance of Sannyasa, he accompanied Him to Jagannath Puri. During the time of the Lord’s residence in Puri, he continued to live with Him.

When Sri Caitanya Mahaprabhu began His pastimes of congregational chanting of the Holy Name of Sri Hari in Navadwipa, Sri Vakreshvara Pandit was an important singer and dancer in that assembly. It was by his mercy that a Vaishnava, Devananda Pandit was delivered from the wrath of Mahaprabhu. He was also present during the Lord’s journey to Ramakeli.

Deliverance of Devananda Pandit

Devananda Pandit was, at one time, known as the foremost lecturer on the Bhagavat. One day Srivasa Pandit went to hear his discourse and being moved in ecstatic love by hearing the Bhagavatam, he began to cry. A few of the ignorant students of Devananda Pandit, thinking that this was creating a disturbance, removed Srivasa Pandit from the assembly and left him outside. Though this was done in front of Devananda he didn’t restrain his students from this act of disregard to the devotee-Bhagavata.

The Two Types of Bhagavatas

There are two types of Bhagavatas – the book bhagavata and the devotee bhagavata. For this reason, Devananda Pandit became implicated in an offense to a great devotee (maha-bhagavata). When Sri Caitanya Mahaprabhu heard how his dear devotee, Srivasa Pandit, had been disrespected, He gave many instructions concerning the Bhagavata. He told that those who read the book-Bhagavata but don’t offer respects to the devotee-Bhagavata are simply offenders, though they may read the Bhagavata for eons, they will never attain love of Godhead. The devotee-Bhagavata and the book- Bhagavata are non-different. In order to understand the book-Bhagavata, one must first sincerely serve the devotee-Bhagavata. Therefore Mahaprabhu neglected Devananda and did not bestow His mercy on him.

One evening Vakreshvara Pandit came to perform dancing and chanting of the Holy Name at the house of one devotee from Kulia, across the bank of the Ganga from Nadia. Receiving this auspicious news Devananda proceeded there, and upon seeing the appearance of the symptoms of divine love in the person of Sri Vakreshvara Pandit he became charmed. Gradually a great crowd gathered at that place, and Devananda Pandit, taking a cane in his hand, kept the crowd in order so as not to obstruct the ecstatic dancing of Sri Vakreshvara Pandit.

In this way, Vakreshvara Pandit performed chanting and dancing for two praharas (six hours), on into the night. When he finished dancing and sat down, Devananda came and offered dandavats at the lotus feet of Sri Vakreshvara Pandit, who became pleased with this service and blessed Devananda to attain devotion to Lord Sri Krsna. From that day devotion was awakened in the heart of Devananda by the mercy of Sri Vakreshvara Pandit.

Thereafter when Mahaprabhu came to Nadia to have darshan of his mother and Mother Ganges, He forgave all his previous offenses and blessed him and told Devananda “Since you have served Vakreshvara Pandit so well, I am able to see you here today. Vakreshvara is a manifestation and embodiment of Krishna’s transcendental potency; therefore, whosoever serves him well, immediately attains the lotus feet of Krsna. Sri Krishna’s favorite residence is the heart of Vakreshvara Pandit. Where and when Vakreshvara dances, Krishna Himself is induced to dance at that place. Thus, the presence of Sri Vakreshvara converts anywhere into all the places of pilgrimage, the spiritual abode of Sri Krishna, Vaikuntha.”

Sri Vakreshvara Pandit’s disciple was Gopal Guru Goswami and Gopal Guru Goswami’s disciple was Sri Dhyanchandra Goswami. In his Dhyan Chandra Paddhati – Dhyan Chandra Goswami has written – “the person who was previously very expert in the arts of singing and dancing, the gopi, Tungavidya, is presently renowned in the world as Vakreshvara Pandit. He has appeared on the fifth day of the dark fortnight of the month of Ashadha (Ashadha -June-July – Vaman masa) and he closed his pastimes in this world on the sixth day of the bright fortnight of the month Ashadha. While Vakreshvara danced, Mahaprabhu Himself would sing and Vakreshvara would catch hold of His lotus feet, saying; “O moon-faced one, give me 10,000 Gandharvas, and let them sing while I dance. Then I will be happy.” Mahaprabhu answered, “You are one of my wings. If I had another (like you) I could fly in the sky.”
– Chaitanya Charitamrta, Adi 10.17.

Sri Sri Radha Kanta, The Deities Worshiped by Sri Vakreshvara Pandit

Sri Vakreshvara Pandit’s worshipable deity is Sri Sri Radha Kanta, whom he worshiped in Kashi Misra’s house in Jagganath Puri, which was also the residence of Sri Caitanya Mahaprabhu (Gambhira). These Deities are still being worshiped there to this day. Sri Vakreshvara Pandit’s samadhi is in the 64 Samadhis area in Vrindavan.

“This year his appearance falls on 22 Jun 2019”

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Srila Prabhupada’s visit to Moscow was a historic milestone in establishing the triumph of Lord Chaitanya Mahaprabhu’s prediction:

prthivite ache yata nagaradi grama

sarvatra pracara haibe mora nama

“In every town and village, the chanting of My name will be heard.”

By setting foot in Moscow, Srila Prabhupada blessed the whole country with his divine presence. In his short stay there, he also planted the seed of devotion in the heart of a sincere, young Muscovite named Ivan.

Prabhupada’s eagerness to preach in Moscow

In May 1971, Srila Prabhupada prepared for extensive world travel. Although his itinerary was indefinite, his general plan was to travel widely for a few months, then tour the U.S., visit London, and then return to India. He had sent disciples to Australia and Malaysia, and he wanted to visit them. He also wanted to go to Moscow and was awaiting a letter of permission from the Soviet government. As he had spread his movement in America, visiting major cities and preaching and then stationing a few faithful disciples there to carry on, he now expanded his field to include the whole world.

Srila Prabhupada’s traveling was in the mood of Narada Muni, the eternally wandering devotee. In the First Canto of Srimad-Bhagavatam, Srila Prabhupada had translated Narada Muni’s words:

I travelled all over the earth fully satisfied and without being proud or envious… I do travel everywhere, by the Grace of the Almighty Vishnu either in the transcendental world or in the three divisions of the material world without any restriction because I am fixed up unbroken in the devotional service of the Lord. I do travel as abovementioned by constantly singing the glories of the Lord in transcendental message by vibrating this instrument of Vina charged with transcendental sound and given to me by Lord Krishna.

Having preached a year in the Eastern Hemisphere, Prabhupada was eager to return to the West, and he planned to fly to Moscow and on to Europe.

For months Prabhupada had been planning to visit Moscow with a desire to preach to the Russian people. He had already been corresponding with a Russian Indologist Prof. Kotovsky. His disciple Krsna dasa in West Germany, with the help of a Dr. Berndhardt of the University of Hamburg, had obtained the names of other Russian scholars of Indology. Srila Prabhupada had coached Krsna dasa on how to best cultivate the Russian Indologists.

June 1971

For Prabhupada and his traveling companions, Syamasundara and Aravinda, getting tourist visas for Russia was simple. They would take a five-day, government-controlled tour, with every activity planned by the Soviet Tourist Bureau and everything paid for in advance.

Prabhupada, his secretary, and his servant cleared Soviet customs and immigration quickly and smoothly, and a government tourist guide escorted them by limousine to the Hotel National. The hotel, near Red Square, Lenin’s Tomb, and the Kremlin, was expensive but plain. Prabhupada found his room dingy and cramped, with barely space for a bed and two chairs. The room for Syamasundara and Aravinda was far away, and Prabhupada decided that Aravinda should share the room with him instead, crowding Prabhupada’s room all the more.

Aravinda told the hotel manager that they would not eat the hotel fare, but would have to cook their own meals. The manager refused at first, but finally allowed them use of the maid’s kitchen.

That problem solved, the next was getting food. Prabhupada sent Syamasundara out. Across the street, Syamasundara found a milk and yogurt store, but he returned to Prabhupada’s room without any fruit, vegetables, or rice. Prabhupada sent him out again, and this time Syamasundara was gone practically all day, returning with only a couple of cabbages. Prabhupada sent him out the next day for rice. When Syamasundara returned with rice after several hours, Prabhupada saw that it was a poor North Korean variety, very hard. Prabhupada asked for fruit, but Syamasundara had to hike for miles through the city to find anything fresh-a few red cherries.

Prabhupada remained peaceful and regulated, keeping to his daily schedule. He would rise early and translate, and in the cool of early morning he would go out for a walk through the all-but-deserted streets. Prabhupada, wearing a saffron cadar, strode quickly, Syamasundara sometimes running ahead to photograph him.

As they would pass Lenin’s Mausoleum a queue would already be forming. “Just see,” Prabhupada commented one morning, “that is their God. The people don’t understand the difference between the body and the spirit. They accept the body as the real person.”

Prabhupada appreciated the sparseness of the traffic-some trolleys and bicycles, but mostly pedestrians. As he walked among the old, ornate buildings, he saw elderly women hosing the wide streets-a good practice, he said. The Russian people appeared to live structured, regulated lives, much more so than the Americans. These simple, austere people, unspoiled by the rampant hedonism so common in America, were fertile for Krsna consciousness. But devoid of spiritual sustenance, they appeared morose.

Prabhupada meets Professor Kotovsky

For months Prabhupada had been planning to visit Moscow. Aside from his desire to preach to the Russian people, he had a specific meeting in mind with a Russian Indology Professor, G. G. Kotovsky. Professor Kotovsky headed the department of Indian and South Asian studies at Moscow’s U.S.S.R. Academy of Sciences, and Prabhupada had been corresponding with him for a year.

Prabhupada had Syamasundara arrange a meeting with Professor Kotovsky and invite Captain Lal, the pilot of the flight to Moscow, to come along. The tourist bureau provided a car and guide, and Prabhupada and his party rode outside the city to Professor Kotovsky’s office in an old white brick building at the Academy of Sciences.

When Prabhupada arrived, the middle-aged Russian professor, dressed in a gray suit, got up from his cluttered desk and welcomed Prabhupada into his small office. Professor Kotovsky appeared a bit hesitant, however, more cautious than in his letters. When Syamasundara mentioned Prabhupada’s eagerness to lecture before interested scholars at the Academy, Professor Kotovsky flatly refused-it would never be allowed. Prabhupada was disappointed.

The next moment, however, Prabhupada seemed unaffected and began speaking in his humble, genteel manner, sitting in a straight-backed office chair beside Professor Kotovsky, who sat at his desk. Syamasundara turned on the tape recorder, which the professor eyed cautiously but didn’t object to.

Professor Kotovsky listened intently and politely as his foreign visitor explained about Krishna culture and philosophy.

Main subjects discussed by Srila Prabhupada with Prof Kotovsky

Prabhupada wanted to address interested scholars at the Academy on three subjects, but the Government wouldn’t allow such lecturing. 

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Sri Raghunath Dasa Goswami is one of the six primary disciples of Sri Chaitanya Mahaprabhu. He was the only son of a wealthy land owner. The wealth and opulence enjoyed by his family is compared to that of king Indra. Yet, RaghunathaDasa showed detatchment to worldly life right from an early age.

Raghunatha’s detachment from worldly life and attachment to Lord Chaitanya

Blessed by Namacharya, Haridasa Thakura and Lord Chaitanya, the young Raghunatha became very eager to join Sri Mahaprabhu in Puri and serve Him. He felt intense separation from the Lord. He tried to run away to Puri several times. This alarmed his family who placed a guard around him. To bind Raghunatha further to family life, his parents got him married to a very beautiful girl. However, these measures failed to check Raghunatha’s spiritual ardor and he resumed making attempts to flee the family and go to Puri. His mother told her husband to again put a guard on him. His father responded with deep understanding. “Raghunātha dāsa, our son, has opulences like Indra, the heavenly King and his wife is as beautiful as an angel. Yet all this could not tie down his mind. How then could we keep this boy home by binding him with ropes? It is not possible even for one’s father to nullify the reactions of one’s past activities. Lord Śrī Caitanya Mahāprabhu has fully bestowed His mercy on him. Who can keep home such a madman of Caitanyacandra?”

When Sri Caitanya Mahaprabhu had gone to Santipura on His way to Vrindavana, Raghunatha met Him and offered to dedicate his life at the Lord’s lotus feet. But Chaitanya Mahaprabhu asked him not to do so and assured that Krishna would deliver him soon from the clutches of maya.

Raghunatha seeks Lord Nityananda’s blessings at Panihati

A couple of years later, Nityananda Prabhu came to Panihati (a village on the banks of Ganges near Kolkata) and stayed there. Raghunatha met Lord Nityananda to seek His blessings. Raghunatha dasa was hesitant to approach the Lord and paid obeisances from a distance. But some of the devotees noticed him and informed Nityananda Prabhu. Nityananda Prabhu called Raghunatha dasa and said “Raghunatha dasa! You are hiding like a thief. Now I have caught hold of you. Come here, I shall punish you today.’’ Then Lord Nityananda forcibly caught him and put His lotus feet on Raghunatha’s head. Ordered by the Lord, he then served vast numbers of the Lord’s followers preparations made with chipped rice with yogurt and chipped rice with condensed milk.

Even Lord Chaitanya came there mystically to enjoy the feast. Placing His feet on Raghunatha’s head, Lord Nityananda blessed him, “Lord Śrī Caitanya Mahāprabhu, Gaurahari, came here personally to deliver you. Now rest assured that all the impediments meant for your bondage are gone. Śrī Caitanya Mahāprabhu will accept you and place you under the charge of His secretary, Svarūpa Dāmodara. You will thus become one of the most confidential internal servants and will attain the shelter of Śrī Caitanya Mahāprabhu.”

The Chida-dahi Mahotsava is celebrated every year in commemoration of this wonderful pastime. This festival is also known as Danda Mahotsava (the Festival of Punishment).

Significance of the pastime

When Raghunatha tried to approach Chaitanya Mahaprabhu directly, he was not accepted by the Lord. After taking blessings of Lord Nityananda at Panihati, Raghunatha again approached Mahaprabhu and was accepted. This reveals an important spiritual principle – that one cannot approach the Supreme Lord Krishna (incarnated as Mahaprabhu) directly. One has to first take shelter of the spiritual master (represented by Lord Nityananda, an incarnation of Sri Balaram). Surrender to the guru is an essential prerequisite for approaching the Lord.

Raghunatha exhibited a very high degree of renunciation. While serving Lord Chaitanya at Puri, he would collect the leftovers of Prasadam thrown by vendors at the end of the day which would not be even touched by the stray cows. He would wash the rice till he reached the hard uncooked part and then mix it with salt and that was his daily meal. It is practically unthinkable for a person from an opulent background to live a life of such utter penury.

krishna-pada-padma-gandhayeijanapaya

brahmaloka-adi-sukhatanrenahibhaya” (CC Antya 6.136)

“One who experiences the fragrance of the lotus feet of Lord Krishna does not even value the standard of happiness available in Brahmaloka, the topmost planet. And what to speak of heavenly happiness?

The renunciation of Raghunatha Dasa Goswami is a testimony to the above statement.

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Narration from the Brahma-Vaivarta Purana Jyeshtha Shukla Ekadasi

Ekadasi is an important day in the lives of devotees of Lord Krishna. It’s a day of austerities and intensified devotional practices. These recommended days of fasting are meant for learning to transcend the bodily needs, especially food, and fix one’s consciousness on one’s constitutional position as a loving servant of the Supreme Personality of Godhead, Krishna.

Of all Ekadasis, the Jyestha Shukla Ekadasi, which falls in the hottest time of the year called Grishma ritu, is hardest for observing austerities. The summer is at its peak in the northern hemisphere and water is essential. On this Ekadasi one is supposed to fast not only without food but also without water. The glory of this Ekadasi is described in the Brahma-Vaivarta Purana in a conversation between Veda Vyasa and Bhimasena.

Story of Pandava Nirjala Ekadasi

Once Bhimasena, asked the Srila Vyasadeva, the grandfather of the Pandavas, whether it was possible to return to the spiritual world without having observed fasting for Ekadasis.

Bhimasena said to Vyasadeva, “O learned grandfather, my brothers Yudhisthira, Arjuna, Nakula and Sahadeva, my dear mother Kunti as well as my beloved wife Draupadi, all fast on each Ekadasi, strictly following all the regulative injunctions of that sacred day. They tell me to fast as well. But, learned grandfather, it is impossible for me to live without eating, because being the son of Vayudeva, I am unable to bear hunger. I can give charity and worship Lord Keshava with all kinds of upacharas (items) but I cannot fast on Ekadasi. Please tell me how I may obtain the merits of observing Ekadasis without fasting.”

Vyasadeva said, “If you want to ascend to the spiritual world, you must observe Ekadasi on both the dark and the light fortnights.” Bhima protested, “Learned grandsire, I cannot live if I eat just once a day, then how can I fast? Within my stomach burns the agni (fire) called Vrika – the fire of digestion. Only when I eat heartily at every meal, is this Vrika agni satisfied. O great sage! I would be able to fast only once in a year so I beg you to please tell me about that Ekadasi fasting on which my obligation for fasting on all other Ekadasis is fulfilled. I shall faithfully observe that Ekadasi and become eligible for liberation.”

Vyasadeva replied, “You should fast without drinking even water on the Ekadasi that occurs during the light fortnight of the month of Jyeshtha (May-June) at the time of Mithuna Sankranti when the sun travels from the sign of Vrishabha (Taurus ) to Mithuna (Gemini). One must certainly not eat anything, for if he does so he breaks his fast. This rigid fast is in effect from sunrise on the Ekadasi day to sunrise on the Dwadasi day. If a person endeavours to observe this great fast very strictly, he easily achieves the result of observing all twenty-four other Ekadasi fasts throughout the entire year.

“O Vrikodara (voracious eater), whoever fasts on this Ekadasi in one instance receives the merits of bathing in all the places of pilgrimage, giving profuse charities to worthy persons, and fasting on all the dark and light Ekadasis throughout the year. Yamadutas will not approach him at death. Rather, the Vishnu-dutas will take him to the supreme abode of Vishnu.”

When the other Pandavas heard about the benefits of following Jyeshtha-Shukla Ekadasi, they resolved to observe it as well. On this Ekadasi, they would refrain from eating or drinking anything, and thus it came to be known as ‘Pandava Nirjala Ekadasi.’

Srila Vyasadeva instructed Bhima to engage in japa (chanting of the Lord’s holy names) on this Ekadasi day and on the next give charity to brahmanas and serve them prasadam. Bhima could then break his fast, taking prasadam with a brahmana. Vyasadeva extolled this perfomance of Ekadasi saying by observing it as recommended hundred previous generation would be liberated even if they may have been very sinful.

Srila Vyasadeva concluded, “I strongly urge you to fast on this auspicious, purifying, sin-devouring Ekadasi in just the way I have outlined. Thus you will be completely freed of all sins and reach the supreme abode.” He assured Bhima that the performance of this Ekadasi would be very pleasing to the supreme Lord, Keshava.

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Philosophy of Life by Amit Goswami - 1M ago

Vrindavan Chandrodaya Mandir

presents

Culture Camp – 2019

Please accept the blessings of Sri Sri Radha-Vrindavanchandra upon you!

Vrindavan Chandrodaya Mandir (VCM), Vrindavan has been propagating the highest spiritual and Indian cultural values and teachings to society at large through all its programs. Cultural Education Services (CES) division of VCM, is trying to disseminate amongst children, knowledge and awareness of the timeless culture and glorious heritage of India.

Armed with the understanding that nothing can bring transformation like personal and practical experience, our vision is to imbibe in school children respect for our ancient rich heritage by training them in recreational activities relating to Indian culture and offering them an opportunity to participate in a plethora of professionally designed cultural programs, culture centric workshops, intra & inter-school cultural competitions, fests and educational temple tours that are exclusively centered on Vedic culture and heritage art forms.

The Culture Camp program, is one such cultural initiative of VCM for fostering spiritual interest in children. Culture Camp is a wonderful opportunity for students to enjoy a pleasant summer vacation, while being enriched by various cultural and value-based experiences. It provides a unique and much awaited break for children. They eagerly look forward to showcase their newly acquired skills on the stage during Talents Day, held at the end of the 10-day camp. Unique programs centered on training children in recreational activities related to our rich cultural heritage will provide them a platform to display and engage their faculties in creative and spiritual pursuits at the school and inter-school level. The Camp will also encourage them in imbibing the spirit of enthusiastic participation, team work and healthy competition.

Key features of Culture Camp:

  • Animation video shows.
  • Mantra meditation for improving concentration and disciplining the mind.
  • Learn Vedic hymns and prayers
  • Learn Bhagavad-gita sloka chanting with lucid explanations.
  • Imbibe values and ethics through Vedic stories
  • Get trained in any one cultural module of your choice.

The modules are:-

  1. Creative Fine arts: This module is carefully crafted to enrich the inherent creativity in the child through several mediums under professional mentoring. The creations will be exhibited on the ‘Talents Day’ in-front of all the parents and children.
  1. Fireless cooking: Helping children become less dependent on their parents for small little snacking and developing values of caring, helping & sharing responsibilities with friends or folks. Mind you, it’s all going to be without the risk of fire!
  1. Group Vocal Music: Lets the child learn Indian Classical Vocal Music with a tinge of love and devotion which can penetrate the hearts and touch the soul.
  1. Dance (Folk or Indian Classical): Brings out the best of expressions using all the faculties of the child’s person. The grand finale will be worth awaiting. Helps in confidence building.
  1. English Theatre: Based on glorious tales, this module brings out the actor in the child. They internalize, they express and they perform.
  • Fun games with Krishna
  • Exciting prizes and yummy sattvic food.
  • Perform on stage on Talents Day
  • A certificate for all participating children
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Ekadasi is a powerful opportunity for us, the souls trapped in material existence, to perform recommended austerities and make our way back to our original home in the spiritual sky. The spiritual atmosphere is infused with selfless devotional feelings of the pure souls for Lord Krishna and His devotees. Enlightened humans should make best use of the opportunity to invigorate in themselves, this pure Vaikuntha consciousness transcendental to the debilitating impurities of the material atmosphere.

His Divine Grace A. C. Bhaktivedanta Swami Prabhupada has given some simple principles for observing all Ekadasis

“One should observe fasting on Ekadasi day, the eleventh day after the full moon and the eleventh day after the new moon, when no grains, cereals or beans are eaten. Simple vegetables and milk are taken in moderate amounts, and chanting of Hare Krishna, reading Scripture, etc. is increased.”

Excerpt From: His Divine Grace A.C.Bhaktivedanta Swami Prabhupada. “Teachings of Lord Chaitanya.” Part I, Chapter 12

“In the Bhakti-sandarbha, by Śrīla Jīva Gosvāmī, there is a quotation from the Skanda Purāṇa admonishing that a person who eats grains on Ekādaśī becomes a murderer of his mother, father, brother and spiritual master, and even if he is elevated to a Vaikuṇṭha planet, he falls down. On Ekādaśī, everything is cooked for Viṣṇu, including regular grains and dal, but it is enjoined that a Vaiṣṇava should not even take viṣṇu-prasāda on Ekādaśī. It is said that a Vaiṣṇava does not accept anything eatable that is not offered to Lord Viṣṇu, but on Ekādaśī a Vaiṣṇava should not touch even mahā-prasāda offered to Viṣṇu, although such prasāda may be kept for being eaten the next day. It is strictly forbidden for one to accept any kind of grain on Ekādaśī, even if it is offered to Lord Viṣṇu.”

Excerpt From: A.C. Bhaktivedanta Swami Prabhupada. “Sri Caitanya-caritamrta – 1975 Edition” Adi 15.9 Purport

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Apara Ekadasi is considered very powerful in eliminating sinful reactions. This article describes the benefits of following this Ekadasi as narrated by Lord Krishna to King Yudhishthira in the Brahmanda Purana.

The following narration of Apara Ekadasi is found in the Brahmanda Purana. King Yudhisthira inquired from Lord Krishna about this most auspicious of Ekadasis. Yudhishthira Maharaj said, “O Janardana, what is the name of the Ekadasi that occurs during the dark fortnight (krishna paksha) of the month of Jyeshtha (May-June)? I wish to hear from You the glories of this sacred day of Hari. Please narrate them to me.”

Lord Sri Krishna appreciating the query said, “O king, your question is wonderful because the answer will benefit the entire human society.” He then began to relate the glory of Apara Ekadasi, “This Ekadasi is so sublime and meritorious that even the greatest sins can be effaced by observing it. O great saintly king, the name of this unlimitedly commendable Ekadasi is Apara Ekadasi.

“One who fasts on this holy day gains universal fame. Even such sins as killing a brahmana, a cow, or an embryo; blasphemy; or having sex with another’s wife are completely counteracted by observing Apara Ekadasi.” These are all extremely abominable acts in human society, but by fasting for Apara Ekadasi the reactions can be eliminated. When Apara Ekadasi is observed in the right spirit of devotion to Krishna, it burns away sinful reactions. That is the power of devotion to Krishna.

Lord Krishna continued, “O king, those who bear false witness are most sinful. A person who falsely or sarcastically glorifies another; one who cheats in weighing on a scale; one who fails to observe the principles of his Varna or Ashrama; one who fabricates scriptures; a charlatan astrologer, a cheating accountant, or a false doctor- all these are surely destined for hellish punishments. But simply by observing Apara Ekadasi, all such sinners are freed of their sinful reactions.” Integrity is a very important aspect of human dealings. Lord Krishna emphasises this in this passage. Observing Apara Ekadasi transforms the consciousness of even the most sinful people to become Krishna’s devotees. Then their sinful reactions are dispelled.

It is a Vedic principle for a kshatriya (person from the military class) to never run away from the battlefield (yuddhe capyapalayanam). Lord Krishna said, “Warriors who flee the battlefield are sent to a ferocious hell. But, O Yudhishthira, even such a fallen Kshatriya freed of that great sinful reaction goes to heaven if he fasts on Apara Ekadasi. A disciple who after receiving transcendental knowledge from the Guru, turns around and blasphemes him, is the greatest sinner. Such a so-called disciple is given unlimited suffering. But even such a rascal can attain the spiritual world by merely observing Apara Ekadasi.” The laws of nature governing warriors and students are very strict. Warriors have to be chivalrous and students extremely respectful towards their spiritual master. The power of observing Apara Ekadasi is the power of devotion that underlies its observance.

Lord Krishna continued, “Listen, to further glories of this amazing Ekadasi. The merit attained by observing Apara Ekadasi is equal to the merit of performing the following activities:

Bathing at the Holy Lake of Pushkara

Offerings to forefathers at Gaya, India

Bathing three times daily in Pushkara-kshetra during Kartika (October-November); bathing at Prayag in the month of Magha (January-February) when the sun is in the zodiac of Capricorn; serving Lord Shiva at Varanasi (Benares) during Shivaratri; offering oblations to one’s forefathers at Gaya; bathing in the sacred Gautami River when Jupiter transits Leo (Simha); having darshan of Lord Shiva at Kedarnath; seeing Lord Badrinath when the Sun transits the
sign of Aquarius (Kumbha); bathing in Kurukshetra at the time of a solar eclipse and giving cows, elephants, and gold in charity. A person who observes Apara Ekadasi gains the merit of performing all these pious acts. One who fasts on this day also attains the merit of donating a pregnant cow, along with gold and fertile land.” Holy places and astrological calculations are very important in performing Vedic pious activities. The Lord enumerates many pious activities, which are still followed by millions in India. But, the devotional activity of observing Apara Ekadasi bestows all the benefits provided by these pious activities.

The Lord using evocative imagery said, “Apara Ekadasi is an axe that cuts down the forest full of trees of mature sinful deeds, it is a forest fire that burns away trees of sins, it is the glowing sun that removes the darkness of one’s misdeeds, and it is a lion that stalks the meek deer of impiety.” The Lord said in summary, “Therefore, O Yudhishthira, whoever truly fears his past and present sins must observe Apara Ekadasi very strictly.” The Lord mentioned the result of not observing this Ekadasi, “One who does not observe this fast must be born again in the material world, like a bubble among millions in a vast water body, or like a small ant among other species.” The Lord concluded, “Therefore one must faithfully observe the sacred Apara Ekadasi and worship the Supreme Personality of Godhead, Sri Trivikrama. One who does so is freed of all his sins and promoted to the abode of Lord Vishnu. O Bharata, I have thus described to you this the importance of the holy Apara Ekadasi for the benefit of all humanity. Anyone who hears or reads this description is certainly freed from all kinds of sins, oh best of saintly kings, Yudhishthira.”

It is on Apara Ekadasi that Lord Trivikrama (Vamana) took away the whole universe from Bali
Maharaja with His gigantic steps.

Observing Apara Ekadasi

As any other Ekadasi, devotees can observe this Ekadasi by increasing devotional activities like chanting & reading Srila Prabhupada’s books. Since the pastime of Lord Vamana expanding into a gigantic form and covering the whole universe by His two steps happened on this day, devotees may read about it in Srimad-Bhagavatam. (SB 8.20). On this day, one should consciously practice avoiding criticizing others and lying. One should avoid eating all grains, pulses and beans. One may eat fruits, simple vegetable curry, milk, and non-grain foods. Apara Ekadasi can be a day of blissful spiritual austerity and by observing it strictly one can receive immense spiritual benefits.

This year Apara Ekadasi falls on 30 May 2019.

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