Diary entry dated 27th December 2019:
This morning during Guru-pūjā, a fly landed on Lord Rāma’s nose, and the Lord kindly allowed it to stay there for some time and take shelter of His transcendental body.
Such a thing could not happen unless the Supreme Lord desired it, so I began to wonder what devotional service that soul had performed in their previous life to be given the opportunity to touch His body. Perhaps due to some small offence or unfortunate turn of events, they were forced to accept the body of a fly for a short time, before taking on another human body in order to perfect their devotional service.
Whatever the story may be, I reflected that that soul was immeasurably fortunate to have ended up in that situation, especially when you consider how short the life of a fly is (the average lifespan of a housefly is two to four weeks). To be allowed to touch the transcendental body of the Lord is a mercy I can only dream of achieving!
“O vanquisher of all distress, please show us mercy. To approach Your lotus feet we abandoned our families and homes, and we have no desire other than to serve You.”
— The gopīs, Śrīmad-Bhāgavatam 10.29.38
Diary entry dated 23rd November 2019:
During japa period this morning, one devotee who was sitting cross-legged on the temple room floor had what appeared to be an upside-down hat in front of him. When I saw this, my first thought was that it resembled a person sitting on the street with a begging bowl in front of them.
And of course, our mood when we chant the Lord’s holy name should be that of a beggar. When we chant the Hare Kṛṣṇa mahā-mantra, we are begging Kṛṣṇa to bestow His mercy upon us and give us the opportunity to serve Him. And, ultimately, we are begging for pure love of God to awaken in our heart.
When one possesses pure love for Kṛṣṇa, one feels utterly blissful at all times, but that is not why a devotee begs for such love. Rather, a devotee begs for pure love so that they can serve the Lord with all their heart.
bahūnāṁ janmanām ante
jñānavān māṁ prapadyate
vāsudevaḥ sarvam iti
sa mahātmā su-durlabhaḥ
“After many births and deaths, he who is actually in knowledge surrenders unto Me, knowing Me to be the cause of all causes and all that is. Such a great soul is very rare.”
— Bhagavad-gītā 7.19
Throughout the Bhagavad-gītā, Kṛṣṇa and Arjuna address each other by various names, and there is always a reason for the choice of name. Kṛṣṇa is sometimes addressed as Govinda, Mādhava, Keśava, Madhusūdana, Janārdana, Hṛṣīkeśa, Vāsudeva, and other names. In April, I gave a class on the verse above, and I wondered why the Lord specifically chose to refer to Himself as Vāsudeva, which means “son of Vasudeva”.
At the time of Kṛṣṇa’s appearance in this world, Vasudeva and Devakī were in a fearful situation, being held in the prison house of Kaṁsa. However, it is described that when Kṛṣṇa appeared, Vasudeva no longer had any fear. As per Śrīmad-Bhāgavatam 10.3.12, “Vasudeva could understand that this child was the Supreme Personality of Godhead. Having concluded this without a doubt, he became fearless. Bowing down with folded hands and concentrating his attention, he began to offer prayers to the child.”
“Humility means that you are convinced beyond any doubt that there is nothing in this world, absolutely nothing in this world, not your money, not your family, not your fame, not your gun, not your education, nothing that will save you except the mercy of Kṛṣṇa. When you are convinced like this, then you are humble.”
— Śrīla Prabhupāda (as recalled by Hari Vilāsa dāsa)
Diary entry dated 20th November 2019:
Every day, I am very much aware of my lack of humility and how it is preventing me from making significant progress in my spiritual life. Today, two little incidents occurred which were no doubt arranged by Kṛṣṇa to help me develop some humility.
In the morning, I was asked to sing the maṅgala-ārati prayers. When I got to the second half of the first verse, I somehow forgot the words, even though I had my temple song book open in front of me! The same thing happened when I got to the second half of the second verse. In Bhagavad-gītā 15.15, Kṛṣṇa says, mattaḥ smṛtir jñānam apohanaṁ ca. This means that He is the source of remembrance, knowledge, and forgetfulness. My talent for singing has caused me to become prideful, so I suspect that Kṛṣṇa arranged for me to forget the words in order to humble me.
Then, in the afternoon, I went to the kitchen to set aside some prasādam for the Mind Body Soul programme that would be taking place later. One of the cooks was taking some rice out of a tray, and I noticed that they dropped a handful of rice on the floor as they did so. Not realising what had happened, they turned their attention to other things.
“The almighty Lord greeted everyone present by bowing His head, exchanging greetings, embracing, shaking hands, looking and smiling, giving assurances and awarding benedictions, even to the lowest in rank.”
— Śrīmad-Bhāgavatam 1.11.22
Diary entry dated 19th November 2019:
In this morning’s class, which was on the verse above, a very interesting point was made. When those who were opposed to Kṛṣṇa heard the sound of His conch on the battlefield of Kurukṣetra, they felt great fear. But when the Lord’s devotees heard the same sound upon His return to Dvārakā, they became very joyful and ran towards Him.
In his Purport to Śrīmad-Bhāgavatam 1.11.3, Śrīla Prabhupāda explains that the residents of Dvārakā were “in a state of melancholy due to the Lord’s absence from the transcendental city, as much as we are put in a state of melancholy at night because of the absence of the sun. The sound heralded by Lord Kṛṣṇa was something like the heralding of the sunrise in the morning. So all the citizens of Dvārakā awoke from a state of slumber because of the sunrise of Kṛṣṇa, and they all hastened towards Him just to have an audience.”
Kṛṣṇa is equal to all, but people see Him in different ways depending on their consciousness. He is the friend of all beings, but those who are absorbed in material consciousness are unable to recognise this, and sometimes become antagonistic towards the Lord. Yet despite their antagonism, He remains their greatest friend and well-wisher.
“To be inwardly clean one should always be absorbed in thoughts of Kṛṣṇa.”
— Śrī Caitanya-caritāmṛta, Madhya-līlā 23.109, Purport
Diary entry dated 14th November 2019:
Today, I gave the evening Bhagavad-gītā class in the temple room, and I spoke about how we can become internally pure.
Śrī Caitanya Mahāprabhu refers to the chanting of Kṛṣṇa’s holy name with the words ceto-darpaṇa-mārjanaṁ. This means that the chanting cleanses our heart of all the dust that has accumulated over many lifetimes. The soul is a completely pure entity untouched by lust, envy and other vices, but we have forgotten this fact due to our mistaken belief that we are the body. Chanting the Hare Kṛṣṇa mahā-mantra reawakens our natural purity.
Once all the dust of material conditioning has been removed from the mirror of our heart, we’ll be able to see ourselves as we really are: pure and eternal servants of Kṛṣṇa. We’ll also be able to see how everything around us relates to Kṛṣṇa.
Diary entry dated 10th November 2019:
This morning’s class at the Manor covered a series of verses from Śrī Caitanya-caritāmṛta. In one of those verses, Śrī Caitanya Mahāprabhu says, “Where is Śrī Kṛṣṇa, whose form is curved in three places? Where is the sweet song of His flute, and where is the bank of the Yamunā? Where is the rāsa dance? Where is that dancing, singing and laughing? Where is My Lord, Madana-mohana, the enchanter of Cupid?” (Śrī Caitanya-caritāmṛta, Madhya-līlā 2.56)
Here, Caitanya Mahāprabhu is lamenting due to feelings of intense separation from Kṛṣṇa and the land of Vṛndāvana. It is mentioned elsewhere that He sometimes mistook the Ganges for the river Yamunā or mistook sand dunes for Govardhana Hill, and as a result became completely absorbed in devotional ecstasy.
On Sundays, a lot of guests come to the Manor, so the usual car park fills up quickly and the majority of cars are parked on the field nearest to the temple. Devotees are required to manage the field to make sure space is used optimally. Whilst doing that service earlier today, I saw a small stretch of water at the edge of the road and was reminded of the river Yamunā. For a fleeting moment, something stirred deep in my heart; as tears threatened to fall from my eyes, I thought to myself, where is He who wanders in the forests along the banks of the Yamunā?