Devotional Memories of Pisima – Srila Prabhupada’s sister

Jayapataka Swami: “…Victorious moment, yet at the same time it is a matter of separation of a Vaisnava. So, for example, I just have a few things to say. You will find more details on how attached Pisima was, always assisting Srila Prabhupada in her childhood, from Satsvarupa dasa Goswami’s biography. I just remember that Srila Prabhupada said that she always used to follow him around when they were children.

Of course, when Srila Prabhupada sent me to India in 1970 from Toronto, Canada, after brief stops in Chicago with Bhagavan Goswami and in Los Angeles and in London on the way— when I arrived in Calcutta I only had Acyutananda Swami as association, although there were many other people, but there was no real association. So I remember, the first time he took me, he said that, “You should meet Srila Prabhupada’s sister. She has invited us for prasada.”

And we went to her house, and there she showed us the little Deities [belonging to] Srila Prabhupada that she was worshiping. Srila Prabhupada had given his childhood Deities to his younger sister to worship. Now, we don’t worship… I mean to say, we’re not speaking mainly because Srila Prabhupada’s material sister is Pisima. Actually, she is a Godsister. She accepted initiation from Bhaktisiddhanta Sarasvati Thakur for the Harinama. I’ll speak about that later. So actually in the real sense, she’s a Godsister. read more

What are the benefits of an arranged marriage?

There are many benefits, provided that there are empowered assistants at work helping the two conditioned souls regulate their lives, so that spiritual progress becomes possible.

Recently, yet again, a devotee expressed his lack of faith in arranged marriages pointing to the shockingly high divorce rate in ISKCON. As he was a sincere soul, I pointed out to him in return that karmis are certainly not less affected as devotees are by Kali. The argument that; “unless both, the boy and the girl like each other, how can the marriage work?” is irrelevant from all points of view. It assumes that arranged marriages are conducted by artificial force, which is in itself a wrong assumption.

It also advocates the sensual platform of perception which may quite likely result in unwanted progeny. First of all liking or not liking is entirely a product of the sensual and mental platform and as such can change instantly according to the movement or changes of the modes of material nature. read more

A Response to “Who is Genuine”

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In his text Who’s Genuine Grantharaja Prabhu wrote:

“From this episode we can see that in Vedic times women were educated. Also of note is that Draupadi was free to speak openly and in front of men and men who were her seniors. She also did not keep her face or hair covered. The practice of purdah and the repression of women was introduced by the mleccha hoards that invaded Northern India during the last millennium.”

This is in contradiction to the following statements of Srila Prabhupada and the Mahabharata. But before going to those quotations I would like to comment on the education of women in Vedic culture. Certainly they were educated, it was the duty of the husband and his family to continue the education of the young girl who enters into the husbands “ashrama.” Why because for the girl Manu Samhita 2.67 tells us, vivaha (marriage) is equivalent to upanayanam for the boy, beginning of entry into Vedic culture. And, that all the duties performed by the girl in the ashrama of her pati guru are equivalent to those of a brahmacari in the gurukula. In the grhasta ashrama of the husband his main disciple is his wife and he instructs and guides her as the pati-guru. And when she was in the ashrama of her father she was instructed there by her seniors. Or, later in the ashrama of her sons like Devahuti was instructed by Kapiladeva. We read in the biography of Raghavendra Swami, a revered saint in the Madhva Sampradaya, that while in his purva ashrama he was studying in Kumbhakonam and every evening when he returned home he would teach his wife what he had learned that day (unless it was a topic forbidden for women) so that his wife was also vastly learned by the grace of her pati guru. read more

Draupadi Instructs Satyabhama

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K.M. Ganguli Mahabharata Vana Parva Chapter 231

Vaisampayana said, “After those brahmanas and the illustrious sons of Pandu took their seats, Draupadi and Satyabhama entered the hermitage. With joyful hearts the two ladies laughed merrily and comfortably seated themselves. O king, those ladies, who always spoke sweetly to each other, having met after a long time, began to speak about various delightful topics arising from the histories of the Kurus and the Yadus. In private, the slender-waisted Satyabhama, the favorite wife of Krishna and daughter of Satrajit, asked Draupadi these questions. ‘By what behaviour, O daughter of Drupada, are you able to rule the sons of Pandu, who are heroes possessing strength and beauty like the demigods themselves? Beautiful lady, how is it that they are so obedient and are never angry with you? Without a doubt they are ever submissive and watchful to do your bidding! Tell me, O lady, the reason for this. Is it the practice of vows and asceticism? Is it incantations and drugs? Is it the power of science or the influence of your youthful appearance? Is it the recitation of specific mantras, the Homa, collyrium or other medicines? Tell me immediately, O princess of Panchala, what that blessed and auspicious thing is by which I may likewise make Krishna obedient and submissive to me.’

After Satyabhama posed these questions, the chaste and blessed daughter of Drupada responded. ‘O Satyabhama, you are asking me about the practices of wicked women. How can I answer or speak about the objectives of such wicked females? It doesn’t become you to ask such questions or to doubt me by thinking that I have resorted to such behaviour. You are intelligent and Krishna’s favorite wife. You should know better. From the moment a husband learns that his wife is addicted to incantations and drugs, he begins to dread her like a snake hidden in his bedroom. Can a man troubled by fear have peace? And can one without peace have happiness? A husband should never be made obedient by his wife’s incantations. read more

Why Do I Wear Sari

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Recently in India I inquired from a Mohammedan gentleman why their women are ardently concealed behind a curtain of cloth, which often completely covers their faces? He replied, “If you have a valuable diamond, which to you is precious and dear, how will you keep it? Will you store it in an old cardboard box in the backyard rubbish heap? No, naturally, you will protect it by putting it safely and securely in a place where the untrustworthy can neither see it nor steal it. Our women are very important to us; they are the personality behind a happy household. We know that if they flaunt themselves in public, they will be mislead, and then the foundation of our society will be ruined.”

My mouth dropped open; I was speechless. The Muslims, like the Hare Krsnas, obviously have this question repeatedly asked to them by the “non-believers”, and this gentleman had a very poignant answer. He was not intimidated by the query, rather, he proudly made this presentation on behalf of the women in his community.

I have observed that ISKCON women more often are replacing the sari with other kinds of “more practical” attire. Many wear Punjabi suits, long skirts (or even short ones) dresses, moo-moo’s, jogging suits or shorts to putter around the house or go shopping. Often the only time a sari is worn is to come to the temple feast on Sundays. Even more often we see that the sari has been replaced by Western clothes in the name of “selling more books” or “collecting more laksmi.” read more

What did Srila Prabhupada mean by stating that “Books are the Basis”?

It is not difficult to understand that his books are the philosophical basis of ISKCON. Many, many times He pointed out that he is living and will continue to live in his books. His books are so unique that Srila Prabhupada studied them himself. Being written down as direct dictation of the Supreme Personality of Godhead, they provoke even Srila Prabhupada’s admiration. But it is less commonly understood that “Books are the Basis” is indeed THE BASIS of Srila Prabhupada’s mission. Basis means “that on which everything rests.” That means everything rests on this basis economically, philosophically and constitutionally.

Srila Prabhupada wanted even construction of temples being absolutely linked to book distribution with BBT as the main supporter. Of course, especially in India, donations play great part as well, but for the members of the International Society of Krsna Consciousness Srila Prabhupada wanted it to be the law, that their life revolves around His books, their production and their distribution.

On the basis of these books preaching is conducted, new bhaktas are joining and congregational members are engaged. From these books a whole picture of Vedic society arises, serving as the blue print for future generations to come. The “internal” meaning of “Books are the Basis” contains far more as the production and distribution of these books. read more

Antyesti Samskara — The last rites (Vedic funeral rites)

Dear Vaisnavas,

Please accept my humble obeisances. All glories to Srila Prabhupada.

Considering that almost daily we are reading about the passing of some exalted Vaisnavas and that this trend will only continue, I thought it might be wise to publish the Antyesti Samskara — the Vedic funeral rights — as transmitted by Srila Gopala Bhatta Gosvami, so that devotees would know what to do in such inevitable circumstances. read more

Cow killing is not sanctioned

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Islam is a modern and flexible religion which always teaches its followers the philosophy of peaceful co-existence, tolerance and harmony. The basic tenets of Islam and fundamental principles have been divided as “Huquq Allah” and “Huquq Al ibad” (God rights and human rights). These two rights form the basic teachings of Islam. God rights relate to namaz, roza, haj and zakat (five times prayer, fasting in the month of ramzan, pilgrimage to Mecca and alms giving to the poor). Human rights include family rights, neighbour rights and nation rights.

If one practises God rights in right earnest but neglects human rights, he or she cannot enter heaven until forgiven by the people he has wronged.

Similarly, Islam clearly sets out what is permitted and what is prohibited. All permitted things may be used and the prohibited avoided. The cow is among the permitted animals but there is no compulsion to eat it. Just as divorce is permitted but that does not mean that a man can divorce his wife without appropriate reason. Although horse is halal, eating it is not permitted because these animals are useful to mankind and consuming them will render them extinct. Same goes with the cow. Though cow is a permitted animal, it is not compulsory to eat its meat but, more important, to drink the milk it provides and consume ghee made from it. read more

Ananta Shanti left body last night in Moscow

Hare Krishna! dear devotees, Please accept my humble obeisancies. All glories to Srila Prabhupada!
Today Ananta Shanti – the first and only initiated disciple of Srila Prabhupada left his body either from stroke or heart-attack (reports aren’t clear), in Moscow. He was the first one in Russia to meet and receive direct training from Srila Prabhupada personally. Srila Prabhupada was in Moscow only few days, he really focused on Anatoliy, who shortly became Ananta Shanti, Srila Prabhupada imparted His mission into him over just couple of days, then He left Russia for London.

As soon as He arrived in London He asked Mandakini mataji to go to Russia immediately and marry Ananta Shanti. She did so. They were meeting people together, holding underground meetings… but KGB figured out pretty soon her real purpose and they banned her from coming to Russia again… So, Ananta Shanty was left on his own. Few other disciples of Srila Prabhupada were coming from Europe occasionally to encourage him, but for most of the time he was on his own to spread the mission of Srila Prabhupada.

At the very early times, when there was no books to distribute in Russia, he would offer lots of big red roses to Krishna, then get dressed in a slick white suite with colorful tie (he was a sharp dresser) – he would go out on the streets with big bunch of red roses (prasadam) – and he would give roses to people saying “if you smell this rose you will be given another chance as human being in next life”. If policemen would come to ask him why is he harassing people? – he said he was celebrating being in love, :)… everyone would just laugh and take roses. read more