I offer my gratitude to all of you for coming this evening to participate in this ancient enlightening festival of Sri Rath-yatra. For thousands and thousands of years, Rath-yatra has been celebrated in the great holy place of Sri Jagannatha Puri dhama. Approximately 500 years ago as predicted in the Vedic scriptures the Supreme Lord Krishna incarnated upon this earth as Lord Sri Caitanya Mahaprabhu. The special feature of Lord Caitanya is although He is Krishna; He appears in the role of His own devotee.
yajanti hi su-medhasaù
That in this age of Kali those who have good intelligence, they will worship the Supreme Lord who has come as Sri Caitanya with a golden complexion along with His associates by the performance of naam sankirtana. When Krishna appeared in this world, He revealed His pastimes of Vrndavana. This is described in Srimad Bhagavatam as well as other puranas and in Kurukshetra He spoke Sri Bhagavad Gita to teach us the path of purifying our heart and attaining spiritual perfection. But only rare, few could enter into the divine mysteries of Krishna’s lilas. But Lord Caitanya and His associates, they broke open the storehouse of love of God tasted it and distributed contents profusely to everyone and anyone without discrimination. Therefore the great Rupa Gosvami composed prayer
nämne gaura-tviñe namaù
Lord Caitanya is the essence of all avataras, more magnanimous than any other incarnation because He is distributing the highest spiritual perfection of Krishna prema so easily to everyone and anyone. What in previous yugas was so very, very difficult to achieve, can easily be attained in the age of Kali by Lord Caitanya’s mercy by simply chanting the holy names. But the people of Kali are so unfortunate and so fallen that even the simplest, easiest, most sublime of all processes is difficult for us. But in this one short life that we have for only a few years, if we are honest and sincere to associate with the Lord’s devotees and chant the holy names, it is guaranteed we will attain that perfection. Every year Sri Caitanya Mahaprabhu would invite His devotees from all directions to celebrate Lord Jagannatha’s Rath-yatra and in the role of a devotee Mahaprabhu would dance ecstatically before Lord Jaganntha’s chariot and induce the whole of Puri to drown in the ocean of the holy names. When He was dancing and chanting, everyone achieved the perfection of Krishna prema—the devotees, the pilgrims, the pujaris, the visitors to Puri, everyone attained that perfection just by seeing Him dancing and chanting.
And our beloved spiritual master A.C. Bhaktivedanta Swami Prabhupada by his inconceivable compassion he inaugurated Rath-yatra parades in practically every major city of the world. Why? Why in New York, Los Angeles, Chicago, London, Paris, Nairobi, Bombay, Nigdi, Melbourne. Why all these places Rath-yatra is celebrated? Because Prabhupada in the mood of Lord Caitanya’s mercy understood that this is a festival of Supreme mercy. You see in Jagannatha Puri, the priests are very strict. If you are not born in certain caste you cannot enter the temple. But Jagannatha does not care for all these things. Every year He comes out of the temple and He gives His darshana to everyone and anyone without discrimination but in order to actually understand Jagannatha we require the association of devotees. So, Srila Prabhupada even in most degraded places of the most degraded cities in the most degraded parts of the world there is the association of hundred devotees dancing, loudly chanting the holy names and teaching us how to properly serve and love Jagannatha.
The current of the river of material existence is always flowing toward the ocean of death. People are overcome with misconception thinking that we are this body. This is the most fundamental principle of spirituality to understand that ‘I am the eternal soul, I am not this body.’ The need of the soul is to love and to serve God and to taste the sweetness of that happiness. But instead of using this temporary vehicle of the material body for the purpose of the soul the world is using their bodies for very opposite purpose—to egoistically enjoy separate from God. ‘janasya moho ‘yam ahaà mameti,’ People are thinking I am this body, I am the enjoyer and whatever is in relation to this body is mine to enjoy. In this way we are overcome by a great tidal wave of ignorance from the ocean of birth and death. In Kali-yuga people are so much under these misconceptions that there is danger at every step.
The threefold miseries are acute. Miseries caused by one’s own body and mind, distress, anxiety, disease. Even people under 20s and 30s are dying of heart attacks, cancer, AIDs, typhoid. So many diseases inflict pain and even death and in the 21st century the World health Organization explained the disease that will cause the most pain suffering and death is mental disease. Despite of our cellular phones and our computer technology and our satellite televisions people are in more anxiety and depression than ever before in history. Adhyatmika.
And adibhautika, miseries caused by others. Very difficult for even people to maintain common relationships in this age of Kali! In the Western world, 70% of marriages are divorces within three years and divorces are horrible, painful things that very often results in depression and sometimes even in suicide. In Kali-yuga, we find not only in the west but in the east brothers fighting with hatred and anguish with each other over money and power and so much competition based on envy and greed. In politics, in business, people try to destroy, vanquish each other. There is terrorism. Even in the name of religion people learn to hate, envy. The essential universal principle of every religion is to learn to see that there is a part of God in every person’s heart and to love and respect them with compassion. But due to the influence of Kali people are so egoistic that in the name of God they hate, they envy and they kill violently even innocent people. Adibhautika.
And adidaivika, miseries caused by natural disturbances. Too much heat, too much cold, blazing fires and here in India you have very, very serious experiences of earthquakes and tidal waves. Mother earth responds to the karmic behavior of human society. If there is massive sins, massive disrespect for the laws of God across the whole planet there will be major catastrophes. ‘padaà padaà yad vipadäà na teñäm,’ There is danger at every step in this age.
kaler doña-nidhe räjan
asti hy eko mahän guëaù
kértanäd eva kåñëasya
mukta-saìgaù paraà vrajet
In the age of Kali, we are living in an ocean of false.
kaçcid yatati siddhaye
kaçcin mäà vetti tattvataù
Out of thousands and thousands of people, one even has a concern for spiritual perfection. In Kali-yuga people are so spiritually lazy but they will work so hard for the futile temporary things of the body. They don’t have time. God has so kindly come and given His holy name. So simple, but we don’t even have time for that.
Yes, Kali-yuga is an ocean of faults but there is one benediction—simply chanting the holy name of Krishna one can attain the supreme perfection of liberation. How is that possible? ‘näma cintämaëiù kåñëaç caitanya-rasa-vigrahaù,’ because the name of Krishna is non-different than Krishna, it is touch stone. ‘nämnäm akäri bahudhä nija-sarva-çaktis,’ that all the powers and opulences of God are within His name. Kali-käle näma-rüpe kåñëa-avatära. The name of Krishna is incarnated in the age of Kali to deliver all living beings. ‘Golokera prema-dhana, hari-näma-saìkértana,’ the name of Krishna has descended from the highest abode of the spiritual world, Goloka. Krishnas’ pastime, Krishna’s form, Krishna’s abode are all revealed to one who sincerely chants the names. Therefore Caitanya Mahaprabhu proclaims that all glories to the sankirtana of the holy name, it is the prime benediction for humanity at large, ‘paraà vijayate çré-kåñëa-saìkértanam,’ and ‘kevala änanda-kanda,’ it is so simple. You see during my lecture little children they are very restless. They are thinking when is this Swamiji going to just close his mouth. Philosophy is only for some. But if we start naam sankirtana the children will be blissfully dancing and smiling joyful. The prime benediction for all humanity! But we must learn how to chant the holy name in a proper state of consciousness in order to get the true effect. In Siksastakam, Caitanya Mahaprabhu taught
tåëäd api sunécena
taror api sahiñëunä
kértanéyaù sadä hariù
We could chant the name constantly, we can taste the nectar of the holy name always if we are humble like a blade of grass, tolerant like a tree and devoid of false prestige offer all respect to others. If people live by these simple four principles, what a peaceful beautiful world this would be! To be humble, tolerant and offer all respect to others. If we have this spirit of being the servant of the servant of the servant, the Lord will be so pleased to reveal Himself when we chant the holy names.
Srila Prabhupada was living in Vrndavana at the place of Krishna’s rasalila, Sevakunj at the holy temple of Sri Radha Damodara. But he had a burning compassion in his heart how could he be satisfied just sitting in the ecstasy of Krishna’s lila when the rest of the world was burning in the fires of illusion. Even India, Prabhupada saw that the people of India were neglecting their own spiritual heritage to chase after the cheap, temporary mirage of western enjoyment. Srila Prabhupada saw that people were so immersed in politics and western technologies and economics that they lost their faith in their own spiritual culture. Most unfortunate!
God has ordained the people of India to lead the entire world spiritually. Neglecting the most precious diamond of the conclusions of the Vedas to search after a culture based on materialism and sinful activities. Prabhupada saw that India was morally ethically and spiritually becoming degraded so what is the hope for the world. He went to the West. One 70 year old Indian man who simply presented the Bhagavad Gita As it is and presented its conclusion to always remember Krishna and to never forget Krishna. ‘Harer näma harer näma harer nämaiva kevalam,’ and the process in Kali of fulfilling this is the chanting of naam kirtana and millions of people’s life were transformed. In fact in 1971 in Cross Maidan in Bombay he brought his European and American disciples to show the people of India what they actually had, but they had forgotten. Prabhupada said that the people of the West are this far from Krishna but so many are running this way toward Krishna and the people of India are this far from Krishna but the vast population is running this way for materialistic prosperity.
So Prabhupada so expertly with such a deep compassion understood that Rath-yatra is the festival of mercy, the festival that includes everyone—of all caste, of all races, of all societies of all sexes, everyone can be delivered through the Rath-yatra festival. Rath-yatra is the festival with the Lord’s mercy. He is just showering upon anyone who just exposes their hearts. When Jagannatha is coming, He is coming to us along with His devotees chanting naam.
So we are very, very happy that the devotees here in Nigdi have worked so very, very hard to arrange this festival for the citizens of this great city. Because Nigdi is between Pune and Mumbai, it seems like a small town. But when today I learnt the population of Nigdi I realized that if this city was in population in America, it would be one of the major biggest cities of our country. Nigdi is a very significant place, very special place. People are very simple and very inclined towards spirituality if they are just given a chance and because of the enthusiasm of the citizens of Nigdi very soon there will be a beautiful temple of Sri Sri Radha Govinda. [Haribol]
To see so many of you coming this evening to hear the glories of the Lord, to chant the glories of the Lord and to associate with the devotees of the Lord brings so much hope and so much gratitude to my heart. Please take this Krishna consciousness philosophy and the chanting of God’s name very, very seriously. This world is a very troubled place. There is only one real solution to purify our hearts and live in harmony with the love of God. So let us taste the nectar of Krishna prema and share that wonderful gift with others through the chanting of the Lord’s holy name. [Hare Krishna Hare Krishna Krishna Krishna Hare Hare, Hare Rama Hare Rama Rama Rama Hare Hare] This becomes most sublime in the association of the Lord’s devotees. One very, very great and dear devotee is with us this evening, His Holiness Sripad Niranjana Swami [Haribol]. At this time I humbly request him to address the assembled devotees.
HH Niranjana Swami: First I would like to thanks His Holiness Srila Radhanath Swami for inviting me to come here this evening and I would like to thank all of you also for coming here this evening. I feel very fortunate that I was given this opportunity to come and see such a large assembly of people who have gathered to hear the chanting of the holy name and hear the glories of the holy name. It is very satisfying to see so many people coming forward to take part in this sankirtana movement of Sri Caitanya Mahaprabhu. Radhanath Maharaj was speaking various points in his talk which were certainly all very relevant to all of us. And as I was listening I was trying to think about which points I should speak about as well.
One point that Radhanath Maharaj spoke about was about peace. And he was speaking how many people are trying to emulate the West trying to make so much material advancement in technology and trying to find so many material comforts and thinking that it’s the means by which one can achieve peace. But I would like to tell just a little story. I decided I would abandon philosophy. I won’t give a philosophical discourse because already many of you are hearing the philosophy from Radhanath Maharaj. I will tell a little philosophy but I wanted also to tell this story about the recent experience that I had in America and this story I hope will help to illustrate a little bit about this point about peace.
In America I often times go there and I travel and I lecture and I have to travel to different cities since many other sannyasis in our movement travel and I get the opportunity to meet different people in the course of my travels. I feel that simply by sitting and meeting these different people I get a little glimpse about what’s going on in the psyche of the American people.
Maharaj was speaking about depression and anxiety, stress and he just recently as a matter of fact when I arrived here in Bombay, he asked me “Can you tell me some of your realizations about your travelling in America.” And I told him that the realization that I have got in this last trip is just that many people are just so stressed out and they’re looking to be peaceful. They are working so hard trying to accumulate material gain and are getting caught up in having to work so hard that they have no time to themselves. And even when they get a little time what they usually do with their time is they just try to vent their stresses to get some immediate gratification but it doesn’t really give them the kind of satisfaction they are hoping to obtain from it. And actually because of this often times when I sit next to people on the plane we strike up a little conversation and I have seen that many of these people, they are looking for something. Because by all calculations it appears that they have so much but when they add up their so much it appears that they still don’t have what they need. Srila Prabhupada used to give the example that if you have so many zeros if you add them all up they equal zero. But if you put one in front of all of your zeros immediately every one of those zeros becomes very significant. But without the number one all those zeros simply add up to zero. Similarly many people they are looking at what they have in their life but when they look inside to see how much satisfaction they’re getting from all these external accumulations many of them are coming to a conclusion that it really is not that much.
Big bank balances, so many material assets, beautiful homes, cars, yards, airplanes. It’s very common in America for even an ordinary family to possess all of these things. When I was there one boy, his father was coming to see him in the temple and he was coming by aero plane to pick him up from the temple. He flew into (? 26.33) he drove to the temple picked him up they went back out to the airport and then they went to see his mother. So although it appears externally they have so much, inside there is something missing.
As I said you I was going to tell you a little story so now I want to tell you a little story. Recently I was flying in America from one city Minneapolis to San Hosae California. And because I travel very frequently around the world I accumulate a lot of miles and sometimes quiet often times I am given an opportunity to sit in the business class section with the wealthy people. So on this particular flight I was upgraded to sit in business class. And I was waiting to board the plane and there was one gentleman who was looking at me but I didn’t know that he was looking at me. But I found out afterwards when I got on the plane and it turned out that the gentleman had a seat right next to me. Then he told me that he was looking at me out in the waiting area before boarding. I sat down in the business class and then about a few minutes later he boarded and sat down next to me and just put all his things in order and didn’t say anything for a while. But when the plane took off he turned to me and he said, “You know, I want to tell you something.” He said, “Before you were boarding the plane I was watching you and I just thought I should tell you something. You see that sweater you are wearing,” he said “it doesn’t match your clothes.”
So I said “Oh thank you very much, I didn’t know that.”
He said, “Yes actually this color that you are wearing this cloth somehow it doesn’t look well with this sweater. I thought you should know that.”
And then he went back about his business, pulled out his book and started to read and then he turned to me again and he said, “So tell me what is this? What are you? Why the robes? Why the shaved head? Tell me something.”
So I told a little bit about myself, about how I was a member of International Society for Krishna Consciousness and I told him that the robes, they were the dress of a sannyasi, a renunciate and then I told him how I travel around the world many cities lecturing on a science of Krishna Consciousness. And then after I spoke for may be about half hour because he was asking a lot of questions about myself, he started to talk about himself. He told me that he is actually a very wealthy multi millionaire and he takes this flight that we are on together twice a week. He is in the computer business, he is a computer consultant and he’s accumulated vast fortunes because of his successful business. Then he started telling me about his family life. He started telling me about his wife. He had married to, he was from Canada but he had married a woman from Pakistan. He started telling me about his wife’s parents, started telling me about his children. He started telling me about his friends.
Then he started just talking about how unhappy he was. Saying that, “I don’t know I have so many problems in life. I have so much wealth, I have so much everything but I am not happy.”
Then he started telling me some very, very personal things about his life. The man was speaking to me for may be an hour and a half just telling me all very personal things about his life. And then all of a sudden he just stopped. I was sitting next to the window, he was sitting on the aisle seat. Then he looked out the window and he was just staring. And then he looked at me and said
“Why am I telling you all of this?” And he said, “I have never talked to anybody about all this problems like I am telling you. You are a stranger and I am telling you everything about my life. Even my closest friends, which I really don’t have, I don’t even tell them these things.”
And then he looked out the window again and then he said again, “Why, why did I tell you all of this?” He asked this question several times, “Why did I tell you all of this?” And I said “I don’t know.”
And then there was a silence for about two minutes. I didn’t know what to expect. I was sitting and waiting what is this man going to do. He just realized he just told some very confidential things about his life, is he going to become angry now? What’s happening? And then after about 2-3 minutes he all of a sudden he slapped his head and looked at me and he said, “That’s it!” And I asked him, “What what’s it?”
“That’s it. Now I know.”
I said “Now you know what?”
He said now, “I know why I told you all these things.”
So I said, “Tell me what is it.”
And he looked at me right in the face and he said “Because you are happy.” [Haribol]
“You don’t have a wife [Laughter], you don’t have a family, you don’t have a job, you don’t have a home, you don’t have anything and you are happy.” [Laughter]
And then he said “And you weren’t even disturbed when I told you your sweater didn’t match your clothes.” [Laughter]
So he said “That’s why because you are happy. How do you do it, tell me.”
He said “Look I am a businessman. I know when something’s valuable. Tell me how did you get like that, I want to know.”
So I told him about Prabhupada. I had a wonderful opportunity just to speak about Srila Prabhupada. I told him how Srila Prabhupada came to the West and how he introduced Krishna Consciousness in the West and then I told him about Bhagavad Gita and I started speaking a little bit about the context of Bhagavad Gita and told him that how I became happy.
As soon as I started telling him as he found out how is that I became happy he said “I want that book. How do I get that book? Tell me I know when something is valuable, that book must be very valuable so you please tell me how I get that book.”
So then by that time the flight had landed. We were getting off the plane and I didn’t have a Bhagavad Gita with me unfortunately. But I took the opportunity to take his email address and then we send him some information on how to acquire the book.
But this little story is just one story. There are many similar stories, experiences I have in the course of my travel, meeting people like this. People are looking for peace and although they have so many material assets they don’t have peace and they don’t know how to find it and they can’t even use all of their wealth to purchase it because they don’t know where to get it. And even if they try to spend all of their wealth to purchase it unless they come in contact with somebody who has something very valuable like Krishna consciousness or like what Srila Prabhupada has given us, even if they spend millions of dollars they won’t get their peace. Therefore Prabhupada often times quote the verse
kåñëa-bhakta—niñkäma, ata eva ‘çänta’
bhukti-mukti-siddhi-kämé, sakali ‘açänta’
That the devotee of Lord Krishna, he is niskama and therefore he can be peaceful. Niskama means he is desireless, he has no desires. He is simply satisfied in serving Krishna that is his desire. No living being can be desireless, desire is the eternal companion of the soul. But we have to find the right object of desire. Therefore kåñëa-bhakta—niñkäma, ata eva ‘çänta’ bhukti-mukti-siddhi-kämé those who are aspiring for bhukti, those who are desiring for material enjoyment, those who are desiring mukti liberation those who are siddhis, those who are desiring mystic yogic perfections, they are kamis. They still have many lusty desires. Sakali ‘açänta’. Therefore they cannot be peaceful.
So this is just simply a small sample. The story that I have told you tonight about what is happening with people who have all of these so called zeros and have accumulated them all their lives. Srila Prabhupada has come to this material world and went to the West to tell everybody how to add one to all of those zeros. This festival, the chanting of the holy names of the Lord, the association with the vaisnavas, it’s all meant to help us realize that what is the one that all of us need to put in front of all of our zeros. You’re as fortunate because you have the opportunity to hear about this one so much. In the West, many people have still not heard what is this one. They are looking. But it is the devotees of Lord Krishna who can tell them how to add Krishna to their lives. So we should take advantage of festivals such as this. Take advantage of the association of devotees, take advantage of the opportunity to chant the holy names of Krishna. As Srila Radhanath Maharaj has so nicely explained that this is what Caitanya Mahaprabhu has come to give us in this age of Kali. He has come to give us the most precious jewel, the most valuable gift. That most valuable gift upon receiving it everything else becomes insignificant. That is the gift of love for Krishna which is available in the chanting of the holy names of the Lord. [Hare Krishna Hare Krishna Krishna Krishna Hare Hare, Hare Rama Hare Rama Rama Rama Hare Hare]
So I think that is what we are about to do now. Thank you very much.
His Holiness Radhanath Swami: Thank you Niranjana Swami Maharaj. By your mercy, please give us the chance to be happy like you. (Haribol)