May 23, 2020

Questions & Answers

DEVOTEE (1): Mercy and grace are everywhere in a devotee’s life—grace and mercy of the spiritual master, Krishna, the devotees and the holy name. So, could you enlighten us a little more about the nature of this grace and mercy, the quality of the recipient to receive this mercy?

GIRIRAJ SWAMI: Yes. The—you could say—paradigmatic example of how to get mercy was shown in the damodara-lila when Mother Yasoda was trying to bind Krishna with ropes and the ropes were always two inches or two fingers short. She kept adding more length to the ropes but no matter how many ropes she added—and she had a lot of ropes, you know, being in a cowherd community—the ropes were always two fingers too short. But eventually Krishna, seeing her hard labor, was merciful and allowed Himself to be bound. The commentators such as Srila Visvanatha Chakravarti Thakur and Srila Jiva Gosvami say that that distance of two fingers was overcome by two elements as mentioned in the verse in Bhagavatam in Sanskrit. One is parishram. Parishram means “hard labor.” So Bhagavatam says that Krishna, seeing the hard labor of Yasoda (parishram) gave her His mercy, krsna-kripa. So they say that that distance of two fingers can be covered, one, by parishram, by our hard labor, by sincere efforts and, two, by Krishna’s mercy, krsna-kripa. So if we think that we don’t have to make any effort and we can just pray for Krishna’s mercy, that is not complete; and if you think, “I can do it by my own effort alone and I don’t need anything else,” that is also not complete. But it is the combination of our own efforts, parishram, and Krishna’s mercy, krsna-kripa. Of course we can pray for mercy—we should, we must pray for mercy and at the same time make our own efforts and by that combination we can bind Krishna. We face that struggle when we chant. We are trying to bind Krishna in our mind but we are not able to. But by making an effort and also praying for His mercy, we can. We can bind Krishna. Of course it is a gradual process. We can bind Him increasingly. But yeah, that is the proper combination and it makes sense, makes sense.

RUPA RAGHUNATH DAS: Guru Maharaja, in the section of Queen Kunti’s prayers, she is also kind of teaching that if one has any material desires that one cannot really approach Krishna. I was wondering, in terms of us as householders, we have to have a vocation, we have to make an endeavor to pay the rent and cover the expenses and it seems that if one isn’t kind of motivated, if one doesn’t concentrate and desire to be successful materially that one can’t really get that. So how do we find the balance? Obviously we are desiring because we ourselves want to be comfortable or perhaps we want to be comfortable so that we can perform our devotional service with a peaceful mind, but some of it is also for our own material comfort. So my question, Guru Maharaja, is, “How do we find the balance?”

GIRIRAJ SWAMI: Well, I am not convinced that one has to have material desires to be successful materially. Although it depends on what you mean by “material.” Srila Prabhupada had a disciple—he was like a disciple—in Bombay, but he wasn’t actually initiated by Srila Prabhupada, but within his heart he accepted Srila Prabhupada. This was Dr. N.D. Desai who later was initiated as Srinathji dasa. And he was born into a wealthy family. His father, D.D. Desai, was a very shrewd businessman and built up quite an industrial empire. After he died, the talk among the business community—because I would be meeting them—the talk among the business community was that Dr. Desai was sort of a simpleton, like a ‘Pollyanna,’ and he wouldn’t be able to maintain the family’s fortune. But, actually he did and he expanded it greatly, even beyond what his father had done. He was very strong in his sadhana. Occasionally I would visit his home early in the morning and I would see him. He had nice furniture, simple but elegant, and he would be sitting cross-legged and chanting very intently and he said that many of his best ideas for his businesses would come while he was chanting very intently in the early morning. He started one line of electrical light bulbs and I started to see these billboards all around Bombay advertising his tube lights—Seema tube lights. There was something about those billboards that was very attractive. I mean, I am not generally attracted by tube lights per se but there was something very attractive about it. I felt that Krishna was arranging for him to be very successful financially because He knew that Dr. Desai would use the laxmi in the service of Narayana, use it for Krishna consciousness—and he did. He really spent a lot of money and he had very ingenious ideas also. He didn’t just give the money but he also provided facilities. Like, he had the idea of getting the devotees in Juhu these buses for traveling sankirtana and he outfitted them with a place for deities in the back and then the devotees could stop the van and open it up and there would be deities. People would gather around to see the deities and could worship the deities. There were all sorts of places for storing the books and of course a place for the devotees. 

There are a lot of histories in Srimad-Bhagavatam (and not only in Srimad-Bhagavatam). There is a story of Bali Maharaja in Srimad-Bhagavatam. Vamanadeva came because Bali Maharaja was very charitably inclined. So He came as a dwarf brahmachari, a brahman, and He begged for three steps of land and Bali Maharaja said, “You are very attractive but you don’t seem to be very intelligent because I could give you a whole planet and you are just asking for three paces of land.” So with the first pace Vamanadeva expanded Himself and He covered the whole upper part of the universe and with His second step He covered the whole lower part of the universe. So He said, “You promised Me three steps and you have only given Me two and you have given everything you have. So you are not keeping your promise. So, I am going to punish you.” And then Bali Maharaja said, “My Lord, You can keep Your third step on my head. Thus he surrendered himself fully to the Lord. The Lord was so pleased with his surrender that He gave Bali Maharaja his own planet and He became Bali Maharaja’s gatekeeper, his servant, and was always with him. So—and Srila Prabhupada said himself that, “In the beginning Krishna tested me by taking everything away from me.” You know Srila Prabhupada’s history. He lost everything in his business. “First Krishna tested me by taking everything away from me and then He tested me by giving me everything.” And both are tests, because if we have something and we lose it, we have a choice. Are we going to chase after that thing that we lost or are we going to chase after Krishna? And Krishna tested Srila Prabhupada by giving him everything—that was also a test. “Okay, now I have everything. Am I going to try to enjoy it or am I going to stay fixed in service to Krishna?” So whatever we do, grhasta-asrama or any asrama, we can do it for Krishna.

There are certain guidelines. For example, taking the example of Rupa Gosvami, Srila Prabhupada said that the householders should give fifty percent of their income. So that’s a way to purify your household life. Even if not fifty percent, some percent. But the rule is fifty percent. Srila Prabhupada had a disciple named Dayananda. In the early days of ISKCON almost all the devotees were temple devotees but Dayananda Prabhu was an exception. He had quite a good job with IBM and he was earning and he was giving Srila Prabhupada fifty percent. So Srila Prabhupada was having a conversation with some of the disciples about this principle of fifty percent, how important it is, and someone said, “Well, Dayananda Prabhu is giving fifty percent.” Srila Prabhupada said, “No, he is giving forty-eight percent. So Srila Prabhupada was aware. He was aware of how much Dayananda Prabhu was earning and how much he was giving. It wasn’t quite fifty percent. It was only forty-eight percent. But, whatever we can do . . . some percent. I mean, in the Christian churches they have the principle of tithing—that means like ten percent. It’s sort of obligatory, they should give 10 percent to the church. I am not sure I have exactly answered your question as you presented it. But if you want to present it again, I can try to make the answer more focused on your particular question. But yes, balance is important, balance is necessary. But I wouldn’t say that the balance is between material and spiritual. Because in principle everything we do should be spiritual. It should be for Krishna and even keeping our body and soul together so we can serve Krishna is also part of the spiritual process. But we do need a balance between our sadhana—our direct chanting and hearing and engaging in those nine processes of devotional service—and our working to earn our livelihood. We do need a balance there. In America they have a saying, “All work and no play makes Jack a dull boy,” so our play, I guess, is playing with Krishna, engaging in Krishna consciousness. So, we do need that balance. And your family, your wife is a devotee. I have heard that some wives are—I heard this years ago from Mahatma Prabhu—he said that some wives are materialistic and it really becomes a problem for the husbands for they have to work extra hard to earn the money to fulfill the material desires of the wives. But you have a good wife and so you don’t have that problem.

DAMODAR DASA: Guru Maharaja, I was just wondering if you could relate an incident where Srila Prabhupada exhibited this mood of Queen Kunti of “Let the calamities come”?

GIRIRAJ SWAMI: Well, everything depends on context. During the war with Pakistan in 1971, a newspaper reporter asked Srila Prabhupada, what would he think or what would he do if Yahya Khan (who I guess was the head of Pakistan) came to kill him. Srila Prabhupada said, “I would take it that Krishna is coming to kill me in the shape of Yahya Khan.” But then another time, a reporter asked him, What if someone attacked you? What would you do?” Srila Prabhupada said, “I would defend myself. Why should I let some nonsense harm Krishna’s devotee?” So Srila Prabhupada exhibited both moods. But Srila Prabhupada was so much in the mood of yukta-vairagya, of using everything in Krishna’s service. He didn’t—at least as the preacher in ISKCON—he didn’t really exhibit the mood of “Let the calamities come.” He was always fighting to overcome the obstacles. But sometimes he would exhibit the other mood—like during the whole struggle for the Juhu land. At one stage he said, “Alright, well, if we don’t get the permission then we will turn Hare Krishna Land into a bus stop. We will just have our buses come and stop, fill up with books and devotees and go out and distribute books.” I mean, it might have been different in other places, but in Juhu he was very tenacious. No, he wouldn’t give up and of course in the end he was successful. So, in his householder life, like he said, “Krishna tested me by taking everything away.” He did think of the verse yasyaham anugrhnami harisye tad-dhanam sanaih. Lord Krishna tells Yudhisthira Maharaja that “When I am especially inclined to a devotee, the first installment of My special mercy is I take everything away from him and then when he is poverty-stricken and rejected by his relatives, he can take shelter of Krishna’s devotees.” So he did see that in his own life and he consulted, I think, his godbrother Srila Sridhara Maharaja—Bhakti Raksaka Sridhara Deva Goswami Maharaja—“Could this be happening to me?” So in that sense you could say he did see that as Krishna’s arrangement. Not exactly “Let the calamities come.” If that was what was happening and if that was what Krishna wanted to happen, he was ready to accept it.

ANANDA CHANDRIKA DEVI DASI: When the calamities do come we understand the philosophy but we also tend to get depressed by it. How do we pray to tolerate the calamities?

GIRIRAJ SWAMI: Well, again coming back to the example of Srila Prabhupada. Sometimes he would get discouraged. Like before he went to America, he was trying to complete all the formalities to get permission to travel. And, you know, he had many setbacks and at that time he was staying in the Scindia Colony in Andheri before ISKCON. So, Sumati Morarjee’s secretary, Mr Nagarajan, was also staying there at Scindia Colony and he would see that Prabhupada became discouraged, you could say depressed. But Mr Nagarajan said he didn’t stay down for long. He would get up and he would say, “Alright, tomorrow is another day. We’ll try again.” He did show that, but not for too long. He would get up and try again. Srila Prabhupada translated the Bhagavad-gita and the whole manuscript was stolen so he translated it again.

PREETI RADHIKA DEVI DASI: Calamities come to devotees and non-devotees and, like you said, they come uninvited, right? So when a devotee is suffering or is going through some hard times, then their relatives that are not devotees may make a comment like “Krishna will take care of you,”—more like a snide comment. So in this case you can’t really educate them, like tat te’nukampāṁ su-samīkṣamāṇo. But all you can tell yourself is, I am going to tolerate—titiksasva. Apart from that, what should be the right attitude of a devotee in that case?

GIRIRAJ SWAMI: Well, the main thing with family members in general, and this can apply when there are calamities, is to always be happy. If they see you are happy even in the face of calamities, apparent calamities, then they will be respectful. “Oh, in Krishna consciousness, even if there are calamities, the devotee is still happy.” And then the other thing is to deal nicely with people, with them. And generally if they see that you’re happy and you’re dealing nicely with them, they will appreciate Krishna consciousness even if they don’t really understand the philosophy or accept the philosophy. I also think of the example that Srila Prabhupada gave about the cat and the kittens and the rat. This is in relation to death. That the cat opens its jaws and it catches a mouse and for the mouse the jaws of the cat are death. But the cat also picks up the kitten with her mouth and takes the kitten from once place to another. So it’s the same jaws of the cat but it’s different. You know, in the case of a non-devotee the jaws of death are just death. It’s a very fearful situation. But for a devotee death is just like the cat taking the kitten and placing the kitten somewhere else, where the cat wants the kitten to be. So it’s not a fearful situation. The thing is that it cannot be the case that if one comes to Krishna then he or she will have no material problems. Because then all sorts of materialistic people will come to Krishna so they can get free from material problems and Krishna does not want materialistic people. He wants people to love Him purely. Like Lord Caitanya said, “If You make Me brokenhearted You are still my worshipable Lord unconditionally.” That’s what Krishna wants. He wants our surrender and He wants our love. So if He made everything nice materially for His devotees then He would attract all sorts of materialistic people and that’s not what He wants. You know if they are materialistic and they think that by your being a devotee of Krishna you have lost materially, well then they could worship Lord Shiva. If they think they can do better, go worship Lord Shiva. And that’s sort of the background to that question that Maharaja Yudhisthira asked Lord Krishna to which Krishna replied, yasyaham anugrhnami. And the question was that Lord Shiva is so poor, he just lives under a tree. He doesn’t even have a hut to live in.  He is so poor that he lives under a tree, but it seems that his devotees are often materially opulent. And Lord Krishna or Lord Narayana is so opulent. You know, His wife Lakshmi is the goddess of fortune.  Lord Narayan is the most opulent, but it’s seen that often his devotees are poor. So it seems contradictory. And then Krishna gave that answer, yasyaham anugrhnami harisye tad-dhanam sanaih. “Then if someone wants Me and is being held back by material attachments then I give Him my special mercy and take away those material things.”

But in the story of Bali Maharaja, when Krishna, Vamanadeva, takes everything away from him, Srila Prabhupada says, “That’s Krishna’s mercy, yasyaham anugrhnami.”But then later He gave everything to Bali Maharaja and Srila Prabhupada said that “Yes, it’s Krishna’s mercy when He takes everything away from a devotee but it’s His greater mercy when He sees that that devotee will use everything in Krishna’s service and then gives everything to the devotee.”  But as long as we have enough, you don’t need to worry about having more. If you are too greedy then you can never be satisfied. That also came in the story of Bali Maharaja when Vamanadeva asked for three steps of land and Bali Maharaja said, “You are very attractive but you don’t seem very intelligent. Because I could give you a whole planet and you are only asking for three paces of land.” And Vamanadeva replied, “If I can’t be satisfied with three paces of land even if you give Me a whole planet I won’t be satisfied.” So that satisfaction is an internal state.

Like at one time John Paul Getty was the richest man in the world and a reporter asked him, “You are the richest man in the world. You have everything that money can buy.  Can you tell us in one word what is your philosophy of life?” He said, “Yes I can tell you in one word what is my philosophy of life. ‘More.’” Well, in a way that’s quite sad because it means that he is not satisfied. Although he has so much he is still not satisfied and he wants more.

RADHIKA DEVI DASI: Who does Krishna meditate on when He gets up in the morning?

GIRIRAJ SWAMI: Probably Srimati Radharani. It depends—who that would be in Vrindavan and Dwarka. It’s described He gets up and He does Gayatri mantra when He gets up in the morning. In Dwarka He may be thinking of other things but in Vrindavan He is probably thinking about Srimati Radharani.

VARSABHANAVI DEVI DASI: Recently our godsister Kamala Devi left her body. Please can you share your realizations on her departure?

GIRIRAJ SWAMI: Well, Kamala devi dasi in Mauritius attained a very exalted state of consciousness and she was very fixed on her goal of Goloka Vrindavan and everything about her departure was auspicious. One person who was very instrumental in helping her in her departure was his Holiness Bhakti Brhad Bhagavata Swami Maharaja, who was with us. I am not seeing all the pages. But if he is here, I think it would be very nice for the devotees to hear from him about her wonderful, auspicious departure. She is a very saintly devotee and he really helped her a lot.

BHAKTI BRHAD BHAGAVATA SWAMI: I was with her for about 10 days. She is a very exalted, pure personality and I don’t know what I did. I am not sure. I just was in her association. Well, I saw an opportunity and I was quite motivated that [. . . ] before she leaves us and she goes back to Goloka Vrindavan and she can put in a good word for me. That is the prime motivation I had and the other, not exactly a motivation but it was a natural thing my heart, that if I can please you by trying to do some service for her and also please Srila Prabhupada and in a way practically tell by your divine grace in my consciousness will try to do some service. She left yesterday morning and I think it was also a group effort by different devotees. I may have been like a common thread through this whole nice lila in one sense, a nice pastime. Some devotees did come to the consciousness that our Krsangi [. . . ] was in sharing Krsna book readings, and other readings were there every evening in Mauritian time. Then we have our Karunika here who spent quite a number of hours, sacrificing duties at home and also sacrificing time from her prasadam business. She came all the time very quickly. Then we had two other wonderful devotees here. One of them is Manasi Ganga. She is an initiated disciple of his Holiness Bhakti Caitanya Swami and her husband is Haridev Prabhu, who is responsible for the devotees in Mauritius and is involved with the management also. So she came when I was also there with Mother Kamala and there is another significant devotee initiated by His Grace Sakarshan Prabhu. Her name is Mother Archavi Siddhi.

So for the last two nights they actually stayed with her in the same room and one of them was sleeping on the same bed with her and the other was awake and then the other would take rest next to her while the first was awake, and one of them would be chanting throughout the night. Her younger child, the daughter, was also a medical doctor. She was initiated by his Holiness Bhakti Dhira Damodar Swami. Her name is Dhira Prashanta Dasi. She was also instrumental in assisting us with her mother’s consciousness and there was also a son, Lesh. He also is a devotee. He is studying in London. He is also a very wonderful devotee. Most of all, the father was quite an experienced and well-known doctor in Mauritius also. He opened the whole home for us in terms of the devotees coming in and mainly being with her in her room. He is favorable, quite favorable. He was there for them all the time and he definitely allowed all the devotees to come one by one. It was also a closed situation because of this Covid19, so he didn’t want many people coming along into their home.

She was especially attracted to Srimati Radharani, our Srimati Radharani of Radha-Madhava in Mayapur and she was also especially attracted to our Lord Nityananda in Vrindavan. So it was the other way around—Srimati Radharani in Mayapur and Lord Nityananda in Vrindavan, in our Krishna-Balarama Mandir. You know certainly, in this particular service, by your divine mercy and by the mercy of Srila Prabhupada and also especially my godsisters and cousin godsisters that were around me, that I felt a little bit purified by her association. I have a long way to go to come to her state of consciousness eventually. Hopefully . . . I am also praying that when I leave that somebody will also be with me.

GIRIRAJ SWAMI: [unclear]

BHAKTI BRHAD BHAGAVATA SWAMI: One person was there also. I forgot to mention. I am sorry. Vrajesvari was also there quite often. Somehow it didn’t come to my mind. Vrajesvari was here in Mauritius so she came quite often also, especially in the afternoons. I spent about 6 to 8 hours with her daily, but Vrajesvari was also there in the afternoon.

GIRIRAJ SWAMI: She phoned us yesterday—Vrajesvari—and gave an account of what had happened. It was very purifying to hear. So now I will read from a letter that Karunika sent me which explains a little more about Bhagavata Maharaja’s role. “Today Bhagavata Maharaja asked Kamala if she would wish to go to Goloka Vrindavan, Mayapur or Jagannatha Puri. He then elaborated—with Krishna, preaching Krishna’s glories, or experiencing the ecstasy of separation from Krishna. She uttered, ‘Preaching Krishna’s glories.’ Maharaja then said, ‘You want to go to Mayapur-dhama?’ She shook her head in the negative and whispered, ‘Goloka Vrindavan.’ Maharaja then asked her, ‘When do you want to go?’ She responded by repeating ‘Goloka Vrindavan, Goloka Vrindavan.’ Maharaja wanted an answer as to when, but she did not reply. Then he asked, ‘Are you there already? Are you on the way or would you like to go?’ And she replied, ‘I am on the way, on the path.’  Maharaja led a very sweet kirtan and afterwards asked her, ‘Where did the kirtan take you?’ She replied, ‘Goloka Vrindavan.’ Then again he pressed her for an answer, ‘When will you reach Goloka Vrindavan?’ She did not reply. The he left me with her.” It means he left Karunika with her so that she could tell Karunika. She said she did not know. Then Karunika asked her if she was determined and fixed on going to Goloka Vrindavan and she said yes.

“I told her that everything in this world that could keep her back was of no significance in the light of what lay ahead. She should not waver in her determination in her journey to Goloka. She nodded in the affirmative. I asked her if she felt any fear. She shook her head in the negative. Later when I was leaving I went to see her. She was resting with Srila Prabhupada singing in the room. I said, ‘I am going now. Please be fixed on Goloka Vrindavan.’ Then I asked her, ‘When you are in Goloka Vrindavan will you remember me?’ She opened her eyes and gave me a big smile. It is wonderful, well it is wonderful to witness your mercy on Kamala. It is wonderful to experience Bhagavata Maharaja taking her step by step. Her son and daughter are also depending on this support and the mood in the house is very nice.”

That was very auspicious, very auspicious. Thank you for asking, Varsabhanavi devi dasi. Thank you for your talk and your service, Maharaja.

MALLIKA DEVI DASI: Guru Maharaja, I just wanted to know . . . on the level of tolerance I do know that in the very early days of ISKCON you also tolerated a lot with Srila Prabhupada and I have heard from some devotees that in some instances that you had to tolerate to such an extent, that you had to even tolerate the difficulties of the rats. So you don’t really hear this—I really found that such a high level of tolerance. I am not sure if you would like to share anything on that. I do know that it was very difficult in the early days in terms of accommodation and prasadam and tolerating different things.

GIRIRAJ SWAMI: Well, my motive was to serve Srila Prabhupada and to please him and I didn’t really . . . now that you mention it, I suppose I did tolerate a lot but at the time it didn’t bother me much. You know, I was there for a purpose. Whatever happened incidentally along the way wasn’t of much consideration. I mean, I am reminded of an exchange that Srila Bhakti Swarup Damodar Swami Maharaja had with Srila Prabhupada. He said to Srila Prabhupada that “I am just one department, the Bhaktivedanta Institute (BI), and I have so many problems that I have to deal with, and you have the whole world-wide movement of ISKCON. I can’t even imagine how many problems you have to deal with.” And Srila Prabhupada replied, “Problems? I don’t see problems, I see only service to my guru maharaja.” So we might distinguish something as a problem. Something is not a problem. In the mood of service to the guru it’s all the same. It’s service. But it probably wouldn’t take me long to read a little something from the manuscript of my Juhu book.  Oh, there is quite a bit about the rats actually.  The Bombay rats are not ordinary rats. They are really big and they can bite you in the night, you don’t even feel it and then when you wake up there is blood, your blood. So let me see if can find the..

So this is an exchange with Srila Prabhupada about Juhu. This came in 1976. So Hrdayananda Maharaja came to visit and he saw the Juhu land and he said to Srila Prabhupada, “Your Bombay project is very impressive. We’ve just taken a tour.” And then Prabhupada replied, “Therefore I persistently took that place. Nobody encouraged me. Nobody helped. I hesitated a little that if I am persistent to take it they will not co-operate, [meaning us, his disciples]. It may be a failure. Still I took it and only 50,000 and 1 lakh rupees I gave this thief Nair. ‘Alright take it. Come on, whatever I’ve got you take it.’ Still he thought, ‘Oh, I’ll get money.’ I took the risk. ‘I have no money. If he cheats me that’s alright. Let me try.’”

“Then you installed the deities as soon as possible,” Tamal Krishna said.

“Yes. Immediately after leaving Akash Ganga. All Krishna’s desire.”

Then Tamal Krishna: “Everyone is appreciating how wonderful this project is. All of Bombay.”

Prabhupada: “So many obstacles, one after and another. One after and another. One after and another.”

Tamal Krishna: “Krishna would not leave.”

Prabhupada: “No, that was my request. ‘Please sit down here tight.’ I would do everything.

“Practically Giriraj has not left either.” Pancadravida added.

Prabhupada: “Yes he has not trembled in any circumstance. That is his qualification. That nasty place, hot, mosquitoes. No gentlemen can live there. Rats, mosquitoes and so much inconvenience.”

So, yeah, I guess that’s my story of the rats.

MUKUNDA DASA: It seems my desire for happiness and freedom of fear and suffering is greater then my desire to be a servant of Krishna. Sometimes I read that no matter what one desires we should chant Hare Krishna to get those desires fulfilled and sometimes we read that we should only chant in a mood of service.  So how to approach the name with our heart when our heart is mixed?

GIRIRAJ SWAMI: Well, when we chant we want to purify our heart. I mean, there might be different things in the heart. But we don’t want some of those things in the heart. So when we chant, of course the main thing is to chant attentively and hear, chant carefully and hear attentively, and pray for those other desires to be removed. Because they are obstacles not only to devotional service but also to our happiness. But pure devotional service, anyābhilāṣitā-śūnyaṁ, should be without any other desire. But you can desire things in relation to service, like you mentioned, to be comfortable. I’ll tell one story about our devotee here in Santa Barbara named Giridhari Priya. Giridhari Priya wanted to find a house. His father, who is also a nice devotee in the San Francisco area, was offering to pay for a house for him. Giridhari Priya was looking but he couldn’t find one. So, I asked him if he had prayed. He said, “No. I can’t pray for something material.” So, I said, Well, that’s true.  But your prayer doesn’t have to be material. Your desire for the house doesn’t have to be material. You can pray that you get a nice facility for your Deities and for hosting devotees, having programs.” So he changed, he changed the way he saw the house and then, seeing the house in the mood of a servant of Krishna and Krishna’s devotees, he was able to pray for it. And then very soon thereafter he got it. We shouldn’t pray for material things and we shouldn’t want material things unless the so-called material things are favorable for devotional service. And then in that case we don’t have to see them as material and we can pray for them in terms of service. But, that being said, we should be prepared to serve with or without facility. We may want a certain facility for service but we should be prepared to serve even if we don’t get that facility. Like Srila Prabhupada said, “If we have a microphone, it’s good. It’s good for our preaching but even if we don’t have a microphone, we’ll still preach.”So Mukunda, do you want to clarify your question or elaborate on it?

MUKUNDA DASA:I understand what you are saying, but for me that’s a very high standard and it doesn’t seem—it seems that I am not there. I understand what we should do, but I am not there and so when I am not there and I am in a mixed place . . . I mean, trying to frame my prayer or adjust so that I pray in such way that I can see it in terms of service—it seems like I am trying to do a trick almost. That’s where I am at. I want happiness, for happiness’ sake, for me. I want to be happy. So what do I do with that? That’s material. So I don’t know where to  . . .

GIRIRAJ SWAMI: What do you think would make you happy?

MUKUNDA DASA: I am not sure. Freedom of fear. I am not sure.

GIRIRAJ SWAMI: Freedom of fear—that comes with surrender to Krishna. How can you be free from fear without Krishna’s shelter?

MUKUNDA DASA: So, if I want freedom of fear do I pray for freedom of fear or do I pray for Krishna’s shelter if my motivation is freedom of fear?

GIRIRAJ SWAMI: Well, you can pray from freedom of fear. You won’t be free from fear without Krishna’s shelter, but you can pray for it. Krishna knows what will fulfill your prayer.

MUKUNDA DASA: Well, that’s the larger question. Krishna has this all under control anyway. So me praying to the person who is arranged everything in my life anyway for something different that what He is already arranging doesn’t often seem to make much sense. Rather, I had that other question, which is—do  you go to Krishna with these kinds of prayers when He is already arranging what’s best for us. 

GIRIRAJ SWAMI: Well, yes, because intellectually you are saying He is arranging what’s best for you but still there is a part of you that wants something else or something more.

MUKUNDA DASA: Yeah, well sometimes Krishna will allow me to suffer because He thinks its good for me and I am not surrendered enough to feel that I can accept whatever is going to happen. Although I understand on some level that in the long term Krishna knows far better then me, it’s not a realized position that I am living on. So that full surrender, where “Whatever You want, Krishna, do it cause I am Your servant” is a hard place to stay in. I have been there in periods and then at some other periods I fear the purification.

GIRIRAJ SWAMI: Okay. You can’t do anything about it, anyway. I mean the phrase that comes to mind is “If you can’t fight them, then join them”.

MUKUNDA DASA: I want to, but to give myself when I am chanting it feels to me is heart-felt thing and not just a practice. Although I am practicing, I am doing the sadhana. I really want to commit in some way but I am not able to because I am not surrendered like that so I am stuck and that’s a cause of stress for me because I want to give myself, I want to give myself.

GIRIRAJ SWAMI: Well, keep trying. You know, like Srila Prabhupada said, “Practice makes perfect, even in spiritual life.” But there is a problem and that is that it is an offense to maintain material attachments, to not have complete faith in the chanting of the holy name and to maintain material attachments. So it’s not an offense to have material attachments—it’s an anartha but it’s not an offense, but to hold on to them is an offense. So would you say you are holding on to them?

MUKUNDA DASA: Yes.

GIRIRAJ SWAMI: Well, then you are committing an offense.

MUKUNDA DASA: I don’t know how to let go. I can’t, I maintain them because I feel that I can’t be what I am not. I understand where I need to go. I understand that.  You know, it’s quite high, what’s being said—to not maintain a material attachment. For me, I consider that a very high position and it’s not so easy to do that. I can’t artificially pretend. When I check myself I see where I am at . . . it’s actually discouraging when I hear that too. What are you meant to do? It’s discouraging. Because you feel like maybe you are in too high a situation, that the demands are too high.  Even the basic practices, that supposedly there are no hard and fast rules. Actually, it’s a cause of concern for me. That’s been disturbing me for a few years now.

GIRIRAJ SWAMI: Well, I think let’s pray to Krishna to do whatever is best for you. I mean, there is a very nice prayer in Srimad-Bhagavatam. It’s sort of like an all-purpose prayer and basically it’s Pṛthu Maharaja to the Lord. It’s from the 4th Canto, Chapter 20, text 31 and the translation is:

“My Lord, due to Your illusory energy, all living beings in this material world have forgotten their real constitutional position, and out of ignorance they are always desirous of material happiness in the form of society, friendship and love. Therefore, please do not ask me to take some material benefits from You, but as a father, not waiting for the son’s demand, does everything for the benefit of the son, please bestow upon me whatever You think best for me.”

He knows what’s best for you, probably more then you yourself. So you can just pray for Him to do whatever is best for you. It’s like, I heard that the result of offensive chanting is material opulence. So I mentioned that to Badahari dasa Prabhu once and he said that “I’ve been doing that for years and it hasn’t worked for me.” So, maybe it will work for you. Who knows? Okay, I don’t know if I can say any more.