Interviewer: And we’re continuing our series of broadcast with unsung hero of the Guardian of Devotion Press, Bhakti Vidhan Mahāyogī. Good evening, boys and girls.
Śrīpād Bhakti Vidhan Mahāyogī: Good evening, ladies and gentlemen, devotees, madam and monsieur, Herr und Herrin, señoros y señoras, señoritas, damas y caballeros, ladies and gentlemen, devotees and children of all ages. Thanks for joining us.
Interviewer: So we have a couple questions after our broadcast from our listeners but meanwhile what do we do? Maybe someone from the audience has questions that we can begin with. And then we’ll continue with our online audience.
What is the best quality of a devotee?
My question is like, we all know vaiṣṇavas
have many good qualities
, but what’s the difference [between] vaiṣṇava’s
good qualities or just social ordinary people good qualities?
Śrīpād Bhakti Vidhan Mahāyogī:
Well, in a nutshell the vaiṣṇava
’s good quality is he’s connected to Krishna
, he’s gopī-bhartuḥ pada-kamalayor dāsa-dāsānudāsaḥ (Padyāvalī: 74)
, He’s the servant of the servant of the servant of Krishna. He can connect you with that higher line, and that’s his good quality. All other good qualities are unimportant really when it comes to the Absolute Truth
. They are like adornments or decorations, but as Prabhupād would say there are decorations on a dead body in a case of one who is not following Krishna Consciousness
. All the humility, truthfulness, honesty, cleanliness – all these things are very good qualities, but if someone’s not a devotee of Krishna, we don’t really care about these qualities. I don’t know if that helps.
Bad character traits of devotees
Śrīpād Bhakti Vidhan Mahāyogī: I am not sure if I really understand.
Interviewer: If you’re mad and devoted.
Bhakti Lalitā Devī Dāsī: Like ... sometimes devotees do something offensive.
Śrīpād Bhakti Vidhan Mahāyogī: Okay, that’s right. Well, devotees have a tendency to take things to the limit. You might consider Krishna Consciousness as extreme spirituality. Just like those extreme sports, bungee jumping, diving out of the airplane with the parachute. So in a sense, many people look at us as being a bit more extreme. And even the devotees themselves they tend to think, “Okay, śaraṇāgati, surrender means I have to give everything and everything is for Krishna, so it’s okay if take things for Krishna, if I do things that are dishonest or unclean.” And I say, “Well, this is okay, because I am doing it for Krishna.” But you have to be very careful about this kind of thing, because you’ll hurt the reputation of the devotees. Also it’s not honest, and honesty is a good quality. We expect that from a vaiṣṇava. I don’t know if that really answers your question, because you were talking about devils surrounding the Guru.
Bhakti Lalitā Devī Dāsī: Not devils. Like Prabhupād excused all of his disciples, like someone complained, “Your disciples are all like little out of control and doing this and that.” And he excused them.
Śrīpād Bhakti Vidhan Mahāyogī:
Yeah, he excused a lot. For example, if you get back to the subject of books. Well, we did a lot of very strange, unusual and unconventional things to try to support whatever temple we were supporting back in 1960s and 1970s. We sold the flowers, we sold incense, we went out in to the street, dressed as Santa Claus with buckets of candy, giving a candy to somebody and saying, “Merry Krishna, give a donation.” And a lot of those things helped expend the movement. In Los Angeles we printed seventeen volumes of Chaitanya-charitāmṛta
in record time, something like six months, they brought out the whole thing. But they needed an enormous amount of money in order to do that. There was a lot of pressure on devotees to collect money.
Well, if we take a long view looking back on some of these things they damage our reputation. People think of devotees as those people who, “Oh, yeah, I know them, they are in the airports and they push you and give you flowers or incense of something and they want money.” To some extend Prabhupād forgave a lot of that, because he felt that publishing the works of Kavirāj Goswāmī for example was of a higher order. But even Prabhupād was not aware of a lot of things that were going on. And the devotees had a tendency as I said to push it to the limit. And Guru Mahārāj and Govinda Mahārāj were not of that stamp. They really preferred that the devotees conduct themselves in a dignified way. So that if someone sees, “Oh, she is devotee of Krishna, I recognize that sari. I know who you people are. You’re not the Christians over there in the Moo Baan. You belong to that Hare Krishna thing.” Well, they are watching you, they are looking at you. And if you still bananas from the market, so you can offer that to Krishna, thinking, “Well, Krishna is a thief. He likes to still yoghurt. So I am gonna still some yoghurt for Him.” Hm. Maybe not such a good idea. It’s not good for you morally and it’s not good for the reputation of the devotees. I don’t know, does that help?
Interviewer: And let’s move on to the questions from our audience that came from many places. Can we?
Śrīpād Bhakti Vidhan Mahāyogī: Sure. Thank you, Gopa Kiśor, please.
Question: Okay, the first. You said that the devotees can burn out. Are there any signs of burning out that somebody is getting burned out? And what is your advise for the burnout prevention?
Burnout in service: causes, symptoms, prevention and treatment
Śrīpād Bhakti Vidhan Mahāyogī:
Wow, that’s a really good question. Well, evidence of burnout
. That’s easy to spot. If you feel burned out you probable are. If you don’t notice that you’re burned out you may be burned out, but if you feel, “That’s enough, I can’t do this any more.” Well, it’s time to maybe change your activity, try a different service
. In the West we used to specializing. So if someone is a computer expert they specialize in that, and they do it all day. But sometimes it maybe good to try a different activity, maybe cooking in the kitchen or seeing what’s available as a service.
I was just talking to Goswāmī Mahārāj and he told me. He was reminding me of a devotee named Kusakratha. He was a Sanskrit scholar. He talked to him recently and asked him what he was translating. And he said, “It’s all been translated.” But he met him in a kitchen in New York washing the dishes. I mentioned this because I met Avadhut Mahārāja’s brother.
Interviewer: Satya Sundar.
Śrīpād Bhakti Vidhan Mahāyogī:
We were washing the dishes and we said hello. And he said, “I met Kusakratha washing dishes. And he was studying Sanskrit.” And he said, “How come you’re studying Sanskrit?” He said, “Well, right now in the New York temple the only service available is washing dishes or being a Paṇḍit.” So he was trying to be a Sanskrit scholar, he thought, “I want to change my engagement.” So you have to see what engagements are available in the temple, if you’ve been washing dishes every day all the time, and you’re tired of that, try a new activity, try something that gives you some inspiration
. But basically you know that you’re feeling burned out if you don’t taste the same taste that you had when you first came. You’re trying everything to get back to that day when you first came in contact with the devotees, or prasādam
, or the Hare Krishna mantra
, or what gave you that inspiration. If you’re not feeling that then it’s time to look into yourself and find how you can relive or revive that. And if you can’t do that by yourself, which often you can’t, talk to the other devotees and try to get help from them. The association with devotees is everything.
The progress begins outside of your comfort zone
But how it came for me is like the growth
is beyond the comfort zone. Like Śrīdhar Mahārāj said that if sportsman doesn’t feel pain in his body maybe he is not training enough. So the question for me, “Am I stretching so this is for the growth, or I am stretching and it’s tearing me apart.” So how do you differentiate good and bad pain?
Śrīpād Bhakti Vidhan Mahāyogī: Well, Guru Mahārāj would say, “No risk, no gain.” So no pain, no gain. If you not feeling some sacrifice then how do you know that you’re really giving, but it may come to you, that you’re working beyond your capacity and that maybe dangerous, just like a battery, that gets very close to running on empty. You want to recharge that battery, you don’t want to just keep sucking all the life out of it. We like to think that, “By giving everything, by giving every last drop of energy that we have, we’ll be reenergized.” And that maybe true up to a point, but you need to be careful and see what your real capacity is, some devotees can give more than others. Some acharyas are capable of travelling all over the world, publishing books, managing temples, having thousands of disciples. And other devotees they may have one or two disciples and that’s enough. So you have to try to understand what your capacity is. And to really know that you should pray, you should look within yourself and if you can’t meet with your Guru Mahārāj directly, try to talk to him through prayer.
Interviewer: I want to dig on this but I will ask some more questions, so our listeners feel engaged. Do you really recall any chapters or sections in the books, which were particularly hard to write?
Difficulites in writing and representing the message of Śrīla Śrīdhar Mahārāj
Śrīpād Bhakti Vidhan Mahāyogī:
Particularly hard to write, the whole thing from beginning to end, that was incredibly difficult because… Well, I gave the example of Gaṇeś
and it’s a good example because writing is different from speaking. A good speaker can captivate an audience by transmitting emotion, enthusiasm, the music of the voice, gestures, eye movements and speak in the same language as the people, who are listening. An expert speaker will adjust his speech to the audience. But when you write you’re constrained by the format of words or literature and you have to be careful, that everything you put down makes sense. If it doesn’t make sense you shouldn’t really publish it.
So if something really made sense to me, then I would put it down, just as Gaṇeś had to understand every śloka
, that Vyās
spoke to him before he wrote it down. I felt a need to be able to understand it myself before passing it all to Goswāmī Mahārāj for further revision or publishing. Because if I don’t understand it, even though I maybe a novice, I am immersed in Krishna Consciousness, how will the ordinary person or even a scholar be able to penetrate what’s being put down. So everything that we published I had to think about very carefully.
So there was nothing really easy about that work, I would carry around two or three paragraphs in my head for about a week. And think, “Die to live. What does this mean? Why did he keep saying it? Die to live. Is he saying that when we die we’re reincarnated? Is that it? The body dies but the soul lives on.” Or, “No, he is saying, ‘You die as a karmī
to become a jñānī
, you die as a jñānī
to become a mystic, you die as a mystic yogī
to become a bhakta
. You die as a karma-miśra-bhakta
to go higher and understand really what you’re doing, you die there to enter the world of rasa
, you die as a śānta-rasik
devotee to…’ Is that what he’s talking about? Die to live.”
He had all these different phrases that he would put out again and again. Reality is by Itself and for Itself. And these were things that he carefully considered. So for me to make sure that Guru Mahārāja’s message was understood, I felt that I had to really understand it myself. Of course, when you got the Loving Search for the Lost Servant, I am looking over that book again, and it reminds me of the talk that Guru Mahārāj gave again and again and again, I don’t remember who all the principles were, it may have been Goswāmī Mahārāj and Jājāvār Mahārāj, but he gave this talk, where he is describing something from the Bhagavad-gītā, something really confidential, something very high with Goswāmī Mahārāj. The original, the Gaudiya Maṭh Goswāmī Mahārāj. And both of them were astonished by what they were discovering. And Jājāvār Mahārāj came by and said, “What are you talking about? What are you laughing?” And Goswāmī Mahārāj said, “If I told you, you would faint.”
Chaitanya-charitamrta and the resurgence of classical Bengali literature
So Kavirāj Goswāmī
also in Chaitanya-charitāmṛta
somewhere he talks about poetry. And it’s interesting because beginning with Kavirāj Goswāmī you have a renaissance of Bengali poetry. Before that the real important books were written in Sanskrit
. And I’ve heard that even Jīva Goswāmī had some doubt about putting the Chitanya-charitāmṛta
in Bengali instead of Sanskrit. Because if you put something in the vernacular language of vulgar language, the classic language starts falling into disuse. Just as when Dante put the Divine Comedy
in Italian, Italian started becoming more and more popular as a literary language and people left Latin behind. Or when El Cid
was written in Spanish, the Latin Spanish that they wrote and spoken, the Iberian Peninsula in the ninth and tenth century, fell into disuse and Spanish came into its own. So in the same way when Kavirāj Goswāmī publishes the Chaitanya-charitāmṛta,
taking that as a point of departure. After that, there was this resurgence of a classical Bengali literature.
So Kavirāj Goswāmī in his own write not only is giving us something deep about Mahāprabhu, but he’s also a great poet. And he says there in his poetry, he says, “What use is poetry? It’s like an arrow. What use is it if it penetrates the heart, but it doesn’t make the head spin?” And it’s a really good line, right? “Poetry is like an arrow. What good is it if it penetrates the heart but it doesn’t make the head spin?” So what Guru Mahārāj is giving in the Loving Search for the Lost Servant, not only does it penetrate the heart, but it makes the head spin.
Surrender is the real thing
And I was reading again a little from that Golden Reflections
, where Govinda Mahārāj is pointing out. Some of these things that Guru Mahārāj is giving like Loving Search for the Lost Servant
, he is giving in his final years. These are his last thoughts. And perhaps is most penetrating. But in the early years he is giving something else, so he said, “It’s not enough just to go to the last part of the book and read that, you have to know the chapters that came before that. You shouldn’t go to the last lesson in the book, without first studying lesson one, lesson two, lesson three.” So the devotees asked Govinda Mahārāj
, “So what’s lesson one then?” And he said, “Prapanna-jīvanāmṛtam
, surrender.” The real thing is surrender
. Getting back to where that ruci
is coming from. Or am I really burning out? Well, if you’re burning out try to look inside yourself and try to find a deeper level of surrender that you can offer, because that’s the basis of Krishna Consciousness, surrender means...
Even in the twelve step programs that they have in Alcoholics Anonymous and things like that, they say, “You’re supposed to recognize a higher power and surrender to it.” So the idea is to surrender to Krishna and His devotees. And by doing so, then you begin to enter into a special world where you become privy to all this confidential knowledge. But I am sorry I have forgotten your question.
Secrets of dealing with Goswāmī Mahārāj
That’s it, that’s a very good answer. And I’d like to ask another one. Concerning your long days and years spent with Goswāmī Mahārāj
, the next question is, does Goswāmī Mahārāj has any sweet spots with the help of which you can pacify him when he is in anger?
Śrīpād Bhakti Vidhan Mahāyogī: Does he have any what?
Interviewer: Any spots you can use, like in his personality...
Bhakti Lalita Devi Dasi: Soft spot, like soft spot.
Śrīpād Bhakti Vidhan Mahāyogī: Does he have a soft spot? What are talking about? He has a sweet heart, he’s a teddy bear. He is all softness. Well, you know, my particular gift in dealing with him is that I can listen to him. So, perhaps, that would be advisable for you. Sometimes when someone is bursting with something important to say, if you cut them off, and cut them off, it makes them more explosive. So, why not listen? Maybe he is trying to tell you something.
Development and current situation in the Hare Krishna movement
Interviewer: And the next question we’ve got as a feedback after yesterday broadcast. The question about the whole history of Hare Krishna movement, that you were evidencing, and that you were in the Hare Krishna movement almost from the beginning it on the West. So, you saw how it was developing. And what are in your opinion advantages and disadvantages of the Hare Krishna movement today?
Śrīpād Bhakti Vidhan Mahāyogī: Okay, well, in the first place, I was not a participant in an early Hare Krishna movement, okay? The early movement began in New York. And that was really the 1960s, I think Prabhupād first came in 1968. So, I joined in ’76, that was eight years later. And a lot really happened in those years, so, I can’t really take credit for being a participant, I would say I was in the middle years, so when Prabhupād was in the apogee of his powers. When he published the Chaitanya-charitāmṛta. So what significance does the Hare Krishna movement have today?
Interviewer: Like what are the good and bad habits or tendencies you can see?
Śrīpād Bhakti Vidhan Mahāyogī: I can’t really comment on that, because I don’t really know the Hare Krishna movement, I know the devotees of Chiang Mai, Thailand, a little bit. And I’ve heard something about the devotees in Russia. I’ve seen the photos of temples in India. The Krishna-Balaram Mandir, wow, it’s so much bigger. I remember when Prabhupād Samādhi Mandir was a very humble affair. Even the Chaitanya Saraswat Maṭh, I’ve seen photos, it’s huge.
So I think perhaps he devotees are more mature, they understand things on a deeper level, they’re more learned. When Goswāmī Mahārāj was telling me something about his history and how he connected when he first came to the movement. The most important book we had was the Śrī Īśopaniṣad
. Which is oṁ pūrṇam adaḥ pūrṇam idaṁ (Śrī Īśopaniṣad: Invocation)
, he was knocked out, he thought, “This is brilliant! Wow! Sanskrit!” Well, we’ve come a long way since the publication of a very simple Upaniṣadic text, now we have Bṛhad-bhāgavatāmṛta
. All these very high and confidential vaiṣṇava
literatures, these were not available when we started up. But we had the advantage that we had Śrīla Prabhupād. So our faith
was with him, we had a little Guru-bhakti, and we saw him and thought, “He knows what he’s doing, I want to follow this person.” So we perhaps did not have the full experience of hearing Krishna’s flute and then meeting him or some such thing. But by coming in contact with Śrīla Prabhupād, you felt, “I am closer to God here.” And the same with Śrīdhar Mahārāj. We were fortunate to enjoy that. Nowadays, I think the devotees are probably better organized, more mature, they have a better business model from what I’ve seen, they are very sensible, the devotees here in Chiang Mai, everyone is well-prepared, well-educated, I’ve met people, who can translate Russian into English, IT-consultancy, Fulldome Pro specialists, people, who understand how to run software for planetariums, temple managers from Brazil, who can speak English, Portuguese, a little Russian perhaps, Sanskrit and Bengali, everyone is very highly qualified.
And when we were first starting out, like for example in Los Angeles, sometimes we would give refuge to people, who came in of the street and they needed food and they needed shelter, and they may have been drug-users or drunks or something like that. And they saw us as their last hope to get a meal and stay for a few days. So we were in a perhaps more primitive level, than what I am seeing today. I am sitting in this studio surrounded by hi-tech computers and I am online in Russia, China, London, Brazil, wherever people watch Theistic Media Studio productions. So it’s an incredible change and we hope that in the future our movement will grow, so, I think what we see now is a greater maturity.
Interviewer: And adopting so many knowledge and things from the mundane science or what usually we perceive as mundane world, how do you see what the people still dig from Krishna Consciousness, because all Vedic education doesn’t seem so cool compare to…
Hare Krishna devotees are really strange
Śrīpād Bhakti Vidhan Mahāyogī:
Well, it gets back to what I was saying the other day, when we went on harinām
. And as we were going through the street banging on the drum and playing the karatals
, lots of people were smiling and going, dancing along. But some people looked at us like, “Oh, ah! Get away from me, Satan!” kind of a thing. And it struck me that forty years after I first saw the devotees in Los Angeles, we’re still weird, we’re still strange, and what a good thing that is, that even a strangest, weirdest people are accepted, but they see the Hare Krishna devotees
and they think, “You guys are really strange.” So, that must be a good thing, because if you look at the world around us and how it’s in decay and corruption, just look at Bangkok, I don’t want to say anything political, I guess, but I understand that there is protest, and people are in the street and they are angry. So things must not be going so good out there. I think it’s good to be a little weird, a little different. But that’s difficult for the devotees, it’s difficult to be different, it’s difficult to believe in God in a different way, than other people. But have faith in your convictions. As Guru Mahārāj used to say, “Follow your star.” Sometimes we would ask him too many questions and he would just say, “Follow your star!” “Okay, that’s good, I can go with that.”
Bhakti Lalitā Devī Dāsī: What does that mean exactly?
Śrīpād Bhakti Vidhan Mahāyogī:
It means that Guru Mahārāj had faith
, that śraddhā
leads to ruci
, that if you start with some incline of Krishna Consciousness, and what that is, you will move towards a position where you can taste it a little bit, and once you taste that, you’ll search that out wherever it may be. And probably there was some poem that he knew, but he liked that, “Follow your star.” It means if you’re lost at sea, you can follow the planets, but the planets are wanderers, that’s what the word planet
means, Venus is never on the same place twice, it’s always moving around in the heavens, the North Star is fixed, so, if you take a reading of the North Star and follow that, you’ll arrive at your destination. So, the high essence of Krishna Consciousness
is like a star, once you locate that, if you can follow that, it will get you trough all these little difficulties, like burnout, opposition from the people on the street or your mother’s friends. It will get you trough all of that. So, follow your star.
One time I was talking to him, we asked him a lot of questions, and he looked at me and said, “You know.” Like “You know what you have to do, don’t ask me any more. I’ve given enough. It should be clear by now.” It’s just like my doctor says, “Don’t eat salt. Stop eating salt, it’s bad for your blood pressure. Watch your heart.” And I know I am not supposed to put more salt on my food, but I can’t stop doing it, I am addicted, it’s very difficult. I know theoretically, I know what’s good for me. But in practice sometimes things are very difficult. So we know what we’re supposed to be doing, we have the whole sadhāna-bhakti, ceto-darpaṇa-mārjanaṁ (Śikṣāṣṭaka: 1), chant Hare Krishna and be happy. We know what we’re supposed to be doing, so do it. But it’s like trying to give up salt, sometimes it’s difficult. But believe in Krishna and follow your star. So what else do you have?
Interviewer: As it was said by one wise man, “It’s simple, but not easy.”
Śrīpād Bhakti Vidhan Mahāyogī: I like that, that’s very Yogi Berra. Yogi Berra was an American baseball player, he said, “You can see a lot just by watching.”
Interviewer: He is Captain Obviousness.
Śrīpād Bhakti Vidhan Mahāyogī: I don’t know, he was the manager of the New York Yankees, he also said, “It’s not over till it’s over.” Those are called Yogi Berra-isms, you can google it.
Interviewer: We’ll have time for this later, but now we have a chance to ask some more questions. In one of the books of Śrīdhar Mahārāj, I’ve met this.
Śrīpād Bhakti Vidhan Mahāyogī: And don’t forget, pick up your copy of the Loving Search for the Lost Servant as soon as possible.
Inerviewer: There was one very brilliant poem that I met about, usually yogīs are trying to avoid dirtiness or distraction and all the thing, but in one of the books it was said, “All your craziness, all your strength, all your wishes you try to connect and engage into Krishna Consciousness, try to turn them to Krishna, not to the matter, but to Krishna.”
How to connect everything in your life with Krishna?
Śrīpād Bhakti Vidhan Mahāyogī: Well, for example, one of the things that we did at the Guardian of Devotion Press, we published a magazine. We tried to make some money by publishing a magazine. It was called The Harmonist magazine. And the idea was to create something that had content that sort of tended towards Krishna Consciousness, without spelling it all out directly. So that we could involve a lot of people in buying our magazine, subscribing to it, we’d get a mailing list, so we’d know everybody, who is on the list and then gradually introduce them to something deeper.
So in order to publish the magazine we had to write articles for it and Goswāmī Mahārāj asked me to write the articles. So in addition to publishing all these books I was writing articles for this magazine. And I wrote something like ten to fifteen articles for every magazine, but he said, “Well, change the name. Don’t put your name, put a different name.” So instead of like Michael Dolan I had something like Mickey Dylan, or Dylan Michael, I used different names. And in order to produce that I had to read news papers and magazines, but while I was reading the news paper and reading the magazine, I am thinking furiously, “How can I find some connection here with what Guru Mahārāj said? When he said, ‘Die to live.’ Here is something.” And so I began converting my thinking processes over into how to think of everything in a Krishna conscious way, it wasn’t exercise, it was like rewiring your brain.
So as you go further down the path you should get to the point where everything reminds you of Krishna. Just like as Govinda Mahārāj was saying, he became angry, he was thinking about leaving the Maṭh. So first he had to ask permission from the trees. Because of course they are part of the Holy Dhām, they are sacred, they are holy, they are personalities, and as he engaged themselves with the trees, the mango tree, what other tree do we have? The banana trees, the bamboo, the champaka tree, so think about, “Well, this champaka tree is rooted in the soil where Chaitanya Mahāprabhu walked with His kīirtan party, and in this way, everything He did was rooted in His experience of Krishna Consciousness, Nabadwīp, ultimately Guru Mahārāj, Vṛndāvan. And so if you can do that that will really help you. It’s more difficult if you pick some kind of engagement, which is completely disconnected and try to think, “Well, I’ll do this and get some money and then I’ll give the money to the temple.” That more like karma-bhakti, it’s more difficult.
Interviewer: And you were talking about taking pseudonyms, many times I’ve heard about somebody reading a book like Śrī Guru and His Grace, [and go], “Who wrote this book? Who wrote this book? How can I connect with him?” the thing about taking credit usually people say, “You always put a link on your job in the Internet, so people can go, search more or connect.” So how do you look back on this, on being no name?
An anonymous ghost-wrtier
Śrīpād Bhakti Vidhan Mahāyogī:
Well, taking credit is a double-edged sward, because by taking credit you also take the karma
. So the credit is really to Guru Mahārāj. So if these series is called The Unsung Hero
, but the real unsung hero is Śrīdhar Mahārāj, because people forget who he was and what he gave and his message. So even his books are not so much read as spoken about. So I am not really interested in taking credit for my work in compiling and editing and doing these kinds of things. I didn’t write that, Guru Mahārāj wrote it. We were channeling him. But as a sannyāsī
, as a preacher, it helps you, if you have a book. If you can walk in and say, “Yes, this is my book, everybody listen to me, because I published something.” And if that’s taken away from you and you walk in and say, “Hey, I have this book.” And they look, “What book? No, that’s not yours. Who are you?” It makes your preaching
engagement more challenging. Because you have to just walk in and by what you say and what you do hypnotize people and engage them in Hari-kathā until the point where they go, “Okay, this is Hari-kathā, I am pleased.”
Interviewer: Hit them with the substance.
Śrīpād Bhakti Vidhan Mahāyogī:
Yeah, but if somebody, just like Goswāmī Mahārāj, he’s giving me a platform, he’s saying, “Okay, go and talk to the people on television.” Just that he did that, that’s enough of an introduction. But it’s nice if somebody gets up and says, “Ladies and gentlemen, announ!” But if we become too involved in taking credit that goes towards what’s called pratiṣṭhā
, and pratiṣṭhā
is the form of ego, it means, “Look at me.” And sometimes devotees get involved in that, because I don’t know maybe human beings are naturally competitive and we like to get status with other people and say, “Hey, I went to India, did you go to India? No? Ha-ha-ha. I am sorry.” But this is not a contest, this is not a race to see who gets to Goloka quickest, the important thing is the journey.
Interviewer: So talking about the journey.
Śrīpād Bhakti Vidhan Mahāyogī: Okay, I didn’t sing a song on ukulele.
Interviewer: You just revealed all the secrets. No, you’re always saying, “You see this little thing? Now talking about ukulele. It brought me here.”
Śrīpād Bhakti Vidhan Mahāyogī: Yeah, talking about the journey. I am sorry.
Interviewer: You always say, “Look this little electronic piece, you see it’s crappy, but it brought me here. Little crappy Youtube video, Goswāmī Mahārāj posted comment on it, and now I am here in Thailand.” How can you explain this?
Ukulele and “Beyond the Sea” Youtube video
Śrīpād Bhakti Vidhan Mahāyogī: This is inexplicable. I cannot explain it. The proof that it’s inexplicable is that if I very carefully and logically explain exactly what I’ve been doing for the last four weeks to anybody, no one will believe it, that’s another problem I have with getting credit for things that I do. I do things that are impossible for anybody to believe. If I tell people, “Okay, here is what happened. I was sitting patiently in Mexico in San Miguel de Allende. I thought I am going to make a little video with my ukulele and I did.” It’s a song called “Beyond the Sea”. Which I like because it’s like, “Oh, you sons of nectar, sons of the nectarine ocean sea. You’re beyond this mundane material world, there is a higher world.” I don’t know, it also reminds me of my mother. Cause she used to like this song in French, but I can’t sing it in French. I put this on Youtube and a few weeks later I checked my messages, there is a message from Goswāmī Mahārāj saying, “Is that you?” And I looked at it and I thought, “Is that you?”
And I didn’t answer him at first because I was like a little chicken, like, [cackling]. Where is this gonna lead? I know, I know, if I just click on that, it’s gonna change my life. Somebody just reached out from the Absolute Infinite to touch me and I don’t know if I can take that touch. But I thought about it and he sent me another message and he said, “Can you read me?” Because I am wearing a captain’s hat. “Captain, can you read me?” “Well, yeah, I can read you.” So he sends me an email, saying, “Well, come to Thailand.” “Yeah, of course. I had that plan. I was going to do that all the…” And here I am, three, four weeks later in Chiang Mai, Thailand, surrounded by Russians and Brazilians, and Mexicans, and Chinese, and American or two, chanting Hare Krishna.
If I tell this story to anybody, they’ll just go, “Wait a minute, I don’t believe that, where did you get the money, how did you do that? You’ve got on an airplane? Come on! It’s impossible to believe.” So that’s why I like being with the devotees, because they can do the impossible and they can believe the impossible.” So I am gonna give you a little bit of “Beyond the sea” just for the historical record. You can pretend you like it or not.
“Beyond the Sea” song.
So Goswāmī Mahārāj saw that and he thought, “Well, he has a sense of humor. So I’ll give him a chance maybe.” And then as I was preparing for my trip, I thought, “Well, let me understand where am I going and what am I doing. I am going to go to Thailand. So should I learn Thai?” And I looked at it. Huh, that looked like a challenge, so I thought, “Wow, how about Russian?” And I thought, “Yeah, I’ll try to learn some Russian.” Maybe in June or July, Goswāmī Mahārāj is now telling me, “Okay, you know, you did this, now in June or July you should go to, go to Russia.” “Russia?” “Yeah, go to Siberia, Mahāyogī.” It’s very green. Or go to Moscow. Well, I remember, when I was in high school there was a song I learned in high school, called “Podmoskovniye vechera”. So I am going to give it to you now and then maybe we could have a little kīrtan. Does anybody have a drum? This is based on a song by Vasily Solovyov. Original title. “Podmoskovniye vechera”. Hm?
Interviewer: With the regards to the Kiselny temple, near the Red Square.
Śrīpād Bhakti Vidhan Mahāyogī: Oh, you wanted to tell the joke? About the bicycle, I can’t hear you. You want a bicycle joke? No. I’ll tell you a joke that Goswāmī Mahārāj told me about Russia. It’s a really terrible joke. So are you going to ruin a joke for me? No jokes? Joke. Okay.
So they are listening to the radio. There is an old saying in Russia, that you should never believe anything until you hear the official denial. So if they say, “We’re not going to close the airport, don’t worry.” That’s when you start to worry. Don’t believe anything till you hear the official denial, because sometimes things are the opposite of what they say they are. So these guys listening to the radio and on the radio they say, “Ladies and gentlemen, comrades, tovarischi. Today, it’s a miracle, we’re giving away cars in Red Square.” And so this guy calls up to radio station and says, “Tovarisch, comrade, is it true? Pravda? It’s true? You’re giving away cars in Red Square?” And they say, “Yes, of course, comrade, it’s true, only it isn’t Red Square. It’s Saint-Petersburg. And it isn’t cars, it’s bicycles. And we aren’t giving them away, comrade. We’re stealing them.” So that’s ha-ha-ha, that’s terrible joke, but Goswāmī Mahārāj told me that. So you can talk to him.
“Podmoskovniye vechera” song.
Little balalaika. So yes, next stop Moscow, Petersburg, Siberia, Ukraine, Kiev. Alright, let’s have a couple of, so thank you to the Russian devotees and thank you to Bobby Darin, who gave this song, so we could come here and see all these happy shining faces, like the face of little Derek. Okay, do you want to play the drum and we’ll chant a little Hare Krishna and say goodbye and good luck, do svidaniya, adios, adieu, au revoir and see you later. Why don’t you bring me the karatals, this is not really for kīrtan. Yes, this is a mundane musical instrument for recreational purpose only. Oh, you asked me about stress and burn out. This is the method, yeah, you can remove stress with the ukulele, but not like chanting Hare Krishna, chanting Hare Krishna this is divine medicine. Alright, so here we go.
Chanting Jaya Rādhā-Mādhava and Hare Krishna.