Blog Description

This blog is for sharing one of the six loving exchanges between vaishnavas - bhajana katha sravanam alapa - sharing and discussing bhajan topics with devotees.

It is also my humble attempt to follow the instruction my gurudeva would give at the end of every class: take these pastimes and instructions into your heart. Therefore in the hopes that it will make some impression in my heart, I am sharing lecture notes, quotes, book excerpts, and other words from the brahma-madhva-gaudiya sampradaya and vaisnava/is around the world.

Friday, April 29, 2011


om ajnana timirandhasya jnananjana salakaya
caksur unmilitam yena tasmai sri gurave namah

O Gurudeva, you are so merciful. I offer my humble pranama unto you and am praying from the core of my heart that, with the torchlight of divine knowledge, you open my eyes which have been blinded by the darkness of ignorance.

Today (so very late!) I am making a post about anarthas. I have seen and heard the word a lot, and I know it relates the the word for offenses - aparadhas, but how is it different? What does this word anartha really mean?

Gurudeva has the answer, of course. =)

And here it is! Spoken so wonderfully, so clearly, that I just loved it and it made me think, and I had to share it. All glories to harikatha!! Gurudeva is so wonderful that he makes even material, uninterested me, interested.

On anarthas, he gives the following scenario and instructions:

"'Whatever Guruji says, I will certainly do" - one must have this determination, and for that three things are necessary: pariprasnena (sincere inquiry), pranipatena (submission), and sevaya (service attitude). With these three things we will begin hearing from the guru.

Guruji will say, "Listen! You must overcome your anarthas."

Then the disciple will ask, "Guruji, what are anarthas?"

Guruji says, "That which has no artha (value), which is not beneficial to our very selves the soul, is called an anartha.

"Guruji, please explain it in more detail. I have not completely understood."

"Then listen attentively - I will also tell you how you can eradicate them."

mayamugdhasya jivasya
jneyo narthas catur vidhah
hrddaurbbalyam caparadho
sat trsna tattva-vibramah

Bhajana-rahasya 2.7

Having prema for Bhagavan is our original artha, that which is our real wealth. Krsna prema is our obective, and within this Krsna-prema, Radha-dasya is our ultimate objective. This is our artha, and that which hinders and obscures this is called an anartha.

There are four kinds of them, and the first is called 'svarupa bhrama' - being in illusion concerning what our inherent form is...One should rid himself of the first stage of illusion, which is thinking that he is the physical body. Then he will realize that the activities which he has been busily engaged in from dawn till dusk are all anartha.

There is a LOT more in Gurudeva's Sri Prabandhavali about anarthas, in general and in relation to other topics, such as nistha (firm faith) and how we can meet Krsna. But I cannot post a third or fourth of this wonderful book on here, so I will just put in one more quick paragraph that summarizes a little on anarthas:

What is the meaning of nistha? When all anarthas are eradicated. And what are anarthas? Those things which entangle us in worldly intoxication. Svarupa-bhrama (not knowing our real form), asat-trsna (desire for temporary things), hrdaya-daurbalya (weakness of heart), and nama-aparadha, vaisnava-aparadha, seva-aparadha, and dhama-aparadha - all these anarthas are mentioned in Vishvanatha Cakravarti Thakura's Madhurya-kadambini. When all of a devotee's anarthas are eradicated, then nistha comes to him.

Thursday, April 28, 2011

Ekadasi; guru lights the lamp

om ajnana timirandhasya jnananjana salakaya
caksur unmilitam yena tasmai sri gurave namah

O Gurudeva, you are so merciful. I offer my humble pranama unto you and am praying from the core of my heart that, with the torchlight of divine knowledge, you open my eyes which have been blinded by the darkness of ignorance.

Today is Varuthini Ekadasi. Ekadasi is very important. Both Gurudeva and Prabhupada emphasize that one should try and follow Ekadasi to the best of one's capacity. Oftentimes I find myself following Ekadasi in a routine, monotonous sort of way. Today, I was able to be more spiritual as I should on Ekadasi; I decorated the altar and did some other services. It was very sweet!

One reason I found myself in a more serving mood for Ekadasi today is because I sat down and read about this Ekadasi from the Ekadasi book. This book has all the stories behind each Ekadasi in it, as well as the many benefits we get from each specific Ekadasi. Here is a little on what this book, by Krsna Balarama Swami, has to say on Varuthini Ekadasi:

"Whatever merit one obtains by performing austerities and penances for ten thousand years is achieved by a person who observes Varuthini Ekadasi. The merit one achieves by donating a great amount of gold during a solar eclipse at Kurukshetra is gained by one who observes this Ekadasi fast.

Indeed, he who observes this one Ekadasi with love and devotion certainly attains his goals in this life and the next. In short, this Ekadasi is pure and very enlivening and a destroyer of all sins."

Ever heard of Ekadasi bars? I just found out about them. Maybe there is a recipe online? Ekadasi bars

Also, I read yesterday a part of the chapter of Sri Prabandhavali in which Srila Gurudeva comments on Srila Bhaktivinode Thakura's Sri Bhajan-rahasya. I have never read this book, only heard of it in classes, but Gurudeva's harikatha about it makes me want to read it.

He talks of how we are in darkness, and guru lights the lamp. The pictures along with this quote aren't from the book; I put them in myself:

"...the beginning stages of sadhana have been compared to the darkness of night. If you try to walk anywhere in the darkness, you may stumble or step into a ditch or even upon a snae, so there is some fear. Or if you enter a jungle you may be attacked by a tiger or lion. There are also thieves and dacoits to be wary of.

Thieves don't come in the first part of the night because at that time most people have just settled in and can be easily awakened, but they come nearer to morning when most people are in deep sleep. There are also such thieves and fearful adversaries in the beginning stages of bhajana. At this point the stars in the evening sky have not yet disappeared, meaning lust, anger, greed, envy and madness have not disappeared from our hearts.

Our many anarthas, which have been compared to tigers and snakes, are hidden in all directions. But will the practice of sadhana alone make the sun of spiritual perfection rise? When does the sun rise? When the appropriate time comes, and not before. So here one thing is possible: if a lamp is lit in the night, then snakes and other fearful adversaries will flee. It is the guru who lights the lamp for us by giving us Harinama and making us hear harikatha.

Then the anarthas which remain within us will begin to fade, but is that alone enough to make the sun rise? The sun of full realization of the Nama will rise according to its own sweet will; it is fully independent.

atah sri krsna namadi
na bhaved grahyam indriyaih
sevonmukhi hi jihvadau
svayam eva sphuraty adah

Bhakti Rasamrta Sindhu, 1.2.234

'The material sense cannot perceive the name, qualities, form and pastimes of Sri Krsna. Only when one is fully absorbed in serving Him does the real nama appear on one's tongue, bestowing full realization of Him.

Just as the sun rises at precisely the appropriate time, when the time is right the Nama will appear on a devotee's tongue and illuminate everything within his heart. And just as when the sun rises there is no need of any electric light or candle because everything is automatically illuminated, when the nama bestows full realization upon a devotee, he will have a clear understanding of himself in his constitutional position, and all of his fear will vanish.

eka krsna name kare sarva papa nasa
premera karuna bhakti karena prakasa

'Simply chanting Krsna's name without offenses vanquishes all sinful activities, and thus bhakti, which is the cause of prema, becomes manifest.'

CC Adi-lila, 8.26

By its mercy the nama will fully reveal itself, but as long as it hasn't arisen in the heart, we can only endeavor to mae the darkness go away, meaning we must continue executing sadhana in an effort to rid ourselves of our anarthas."

When I read this, that guru lights the lamp for us in darkness...I just felt so joyful. How merciful is guru! How wonderful! I just had to read it again, and then I thought, I should share this. I really enjoy the analogy that we are in darkness, and guru lights the lamp, and by chanting and hearing, we can come out of the darkness.

It is not simple, but what supremely expert, compassionate guides we have in Gurudeva and Prabhupada. They hold our hands, they pick us up when we stumble (unless it helps for us to get up our own selves, which sometimes it does, that can be a lesson), and so many other things. It is hard, but when I read stuff like the above that just says mercy mercy mercy all over it, I feel very happy and encouraged. =)

This post relates to my post, "What is sadhana?" which you can find here:"What is sadhana?"

Next, I will be doing a post on anarthas. We see the word a lot and have a basic idea of what it means, but what does it really mean?

Wednesday, April 27, 2011

Srila Vrndavana das Thakura

om ajnana timirandhasya jnananjana salakaya
caksur unmilitam yena tasmai sri gurave namah

O Gurudeva, you are so merciful. I offer my humble pranama unto you and am praying from the core of my heart that, with the torchlight of divine knowledge, you open my eyes which have been blinded by the darkness of ignorance.

the personal deities of Srila Vrndavana das Thakura

Today is the disappearance day of Srila Vrndavana das Thakura. Jai!!

Srila Vrndavana das Thakura was born to Narayani, who had the mercy of Lord Caitanya as a young girl. Lord Caitanya was very fond of her and would give her remnants of His prasadam. Narayani experienced ecstatic symptoms when chanting the name of Krishna, by the mercy of Sri Caitanya Mahaprabhu.

Srila Vrndavana das Thakura was a very dear disciple of Lord Nityananda Prabhu.

Srila Krsnadas Kaviraj writes of Srila Vrndavana das Thakura in his Caitanya Caritamrta. He writes about the glories Vrndavana das Thakura, and of that gem of literature, Sri Caitanya Bhagavata, wherein Srila Vrndavana das Thakura describes pastimes of Mahaprabhu. It was previously called Sri Caitanya Mangala.

I would like to share the praise that Srila Krsna Kaviraj gives to Srila Vrndavana das Thakura:

As Vyāsadeva has compiled all the pastimes of Lord Kṛṣṇa in Śrīmad-Bhāgavatam, Ṭhākura Vṛndāvana dāsa has depicted the pastimes of Lord Caitanya.

Ṭhākura Vṛndāvana dāsa has composed Śrī Caitanya-mańgala. Hearing this book annihilates all misfortune.

By reading Śrī Caitanya-mańgala one can understand all the glories and truths of Lord Caitanya and Nityānanda and come to the ultimate conclusion of devotional service to Lord Kṛṣṇa.

In Śrī Caitanya-mańgala [later known as Śrī Caitanya-bhāgavata] Śrīla Vṛndāvana dāsa Ṭhākura has given the conclusion and essence of devotional service by quoting the authoritative statements of Śrīmad-Bhāgavatam.

If even a great atheist hears Śrī Caitanya-mańgala, he immediately becomes a great devotee.

The subject matter of this book is so sublime that it appears that Śrī Caitanya Mahāprabhu has personally spoken through the writings of Śrī Vṛndāvana dāsa Ṭhākura.

I offer millions of obeisances unto the lotus feet of Vṛndāvana dāsa Ṭhākura. No one else could write such a wonderful book for the deliverance of all fallen souls.

Caitanya Caritamrta, Adi-Lila, 8.34-8.40

For more nectar like this and purports by Srila Prabhupada, please go here:

I have found a nice page on Srila Vrndavana das Thakura that has a brief biography of his life as well as some wonderful pictures of significant pastime places:
Srila Vrndavana das Thakura

Srila Vrndavana das Thakura ki JAI!!

Tuesday, April 26, 2011

The root of the creeper of divine love

om ajnana timirandhasya jnananjana salakaya
caksur unmilitam yena tasmai sri gurave namah

O Gurudeva, you are so merciful. I offer my humble pranama unto you and am praying from the core of my heart that, with the torchlight of divine knowledge, you open my eyes which have been blinded by the darkness of ignorance.

suddha-bhakata-carana-renu, bhajana-anukula
bhakata-seva, parama-siddhi, prema-latikare mula

"Dust from the lotus feet of pure devotees is very favorable for bhajana, and service to the vaishnavas is the highest perfection and the very root of the tender creeper of divine love."

I read this quoted in a book this morning, and just had to share it.

Rereading it again, I am thinking, look at the word, "tender". The creeper of divine love is tender. We have to take very special care of it. Any slight move - an animal in the garden, a strong wind - may uproot that small, tender creeper.

We have to water it. And by the mercy of the pure devotees, their divine love floods into our hearts whether we want it or not, and waters that creeper. But we have to work to water it, too, and to not do anything that might hurt it. It is fragile.

And also, that word "root" is very important. The root is how the plant stays grounded, and by watering the root, all the leaves, flowers, and branches of the creeper come. If we just plop the water anywhere, the plant may wilt; it is important that we pay specific attention to the root.

Srila Bhaktivinode Thakura is giving us the answer to how our spiritual lives can thrive. By hearing, reading, thinking of, and striving to follow the instructions of the pure devotees, and by honoring and serving the vaishnavas, we can water this root. Thus we can some day get branches and flowers on our creeper, so it can become a grown up plant!

Then, as Gurudeva said, he can offer us as a flower at Srimati Radhika's lotus feet...

Please forgive me if I have made this sound like a class or some such; I am not at all worthy of giving any class, I only mean to share some thoughts on what I read. May all the vaishnavas and vaishnavis bless me so that I may serve my Gurudeva in some way.

Monday, April 25, 2011

Guru nistha

om ajnana timirandhasya jnananjana salakaya
caksur unmilitam yena tasmai sri gurave namah

O Gurudeva, you are so merciful. I offer my humble pranama unto you and am praying from the core of my heart that, with the torchlight of divine knowledge, you open my eyes which have been blinded by the darkness of ignorance.

For the past few days out of town, I have been reading the beautiful, sweet, nectar-filled issue of The Rays of the Harmonist which is dedicated to Srila Gurudeva. This particular issue of the magazine is full of nectar about and from Srila Gurudeva - harikatha from him, pastimes, and so many sweet offerings from devotees worldwide. It is enough to melt even my stone heart.

I really, really hope this is available at Badger festival this year (New Braj 2011) as well as Gurudeva's new book, Harmony. From the sneak peeks I've had of them, I can tell they are suuuper special.

Also, another reason this Harmonist is amazing, is because there are tons of full page color pictures of Gurudeva! =D

I want to share a quote from Gurudeva on guru nistha:

What is the symptom of one who has guru nistha? He will give proper respect even to a dog that is related to his guru. If he does not give proper respect to everyone related to his guru whether they are initiated or not, if he has no regard and honor for them, then his honor for guru is actually a show.

Also I would like also to share a heartwrenchingly sweet part of an offering by Gopanandini dasi. I don't know if this is our New Braj Gopanandini, but if it is, I hope she is okay with my sharing part of her offering to Gurudeva:

'Often we would ask if you could give us bhakti, give this jewel.
"Yes, I can" you'd promptly answer, "Oh, but first join the Crying School."

When in New York you left me, and I did not know how I'd live,
You said, "Each day two years you send me, and two tears I will give."

"Send two tears to me," you'd told, "but now you must be calm.
And I will send two tears back to you, from Sri Vrndavana dhama."

Such tireless compassion as this, the world has never known.
Now you've left our earthly vision; Krsna's claimed you as His own.

The festival is over our lives will never be the same.
But I know that you're not gone at all...
You're only two tears away.'