Friday, May 25, 2007

Talks with HH Hanumatpresaka Swami


May 24, MARYLAND, USA (SUN) — One of the highlights at Baltimore Ratha Yatra for me was to meet Hanumat Prsaka Maharaja again. I had not seen him in 10 years or so. I also saw Umapati Swami, who I had not seen in a similar amount of time.

At the end of the Ratha Yatra parade I had some talks with Hanumat Prsaka Maharaja. One thing I asked him about was an article of a lecture I had read by Maharaja in which he had mentioned that when Srila Prabhupada went into samadhi in Gorakpur in India while chanting Radha Madhava, Srila Prabhupada had had some very deep discussions with Hanuman Prasad Poddar about Sri Sri Radha Madhava (that started the "Gita Press", the biggest distributor of religious books in India). That was very interesting.

We also talked about the importance of chanting better rounds and chanting a steady and increased amount of rounds regularly, and trying for 64 rounds daily -- never having less than 16. Maharaja emphasized that one should stick to the increased number one chants. We talked about Narayana Maharaja and how we can't neglect him, as he was Srila Prabhupada's friend for many years and spent so many years serving in Mathura/Vrindavan. Maharaja cautioned also about not leaving ISKCON, but at the same time sait not to disrespect him, being that after all, he is not an ordinary devotee. I really liked Maharaja's balanced view on Narayana Maharaja.
We talked with Maharaja about vegan and vegetarian diet for devotees, and I told Maharaja it seems to be better for devotees only taking vegan prasadam, as most milk in the US is spoiled with D3, fish oil. Maharaja insisted that milk was important and it was important to get quality milk (although it is hard in the US.)

Then one of the highpoints was we talked about Sri Vrindavan Dham and the importance of spending time there. One of the important books that glorifies Sri Vrindavan is Vrindavan Mahimamrita by Srila Prabhodananda Sarasvati, who tells us to never leave Sri Vrindavan. We talked about how we can remember Vrindavan even while not living there by remembering the many places of Krsna's pastimes there. Maharaja suggested to daily sing "Jaya Radha, Jaya Krsna, Jaya Vrindavan" and remember these places. I found out we both like to go and pay obeisances to Srila Prabhodananda Sarasvati Thakura's samadhi in Vrindavan (close to Kaliya ghat, near the kadambha tree Krsna jumped from into the Yamuna, to punish Kaliya), and to read something from his books.

We talked about fasting on the Lord's Appearance Days and agreed that fasting all day long on Janmastami feast and having a huge grain feast (as some temples do) was not good for health, and that devotees following Srila Prabhupada's instructions should take ekadasi prasadam. (Maharaja mentioned Srila Prabhupada encouraged a huge feast for regular people with grains, etc., but I have never seen these letters Maharaja was referring to.)

Sadhu-sanga is such a wonderful thing. Ratha Yatra time is just another opportunity to get sadhu-sanga, and at the same time we can chant Hare Krsna, distribute Srila Prabhupada's books, take prasadam with devotees and be happy... Srila Prabhupada has given us Ratha Yatra even in the west, and lately we were thinking, why not go to Puri for Ratha Yatra. But Ratha Yatra in Baltimore is just perfect too... personally we can't ask for more. And Ratha Yatra is in the mood of taking Krsna back to Vrindavan (though He never leaves Vrindavan). Srila Prabhodananda writes about Vrindavan (Sataka 1, verse 4-7):

4. Day and night I glorify Vrndavana, which is filled with the wonder of Sri Sri Radha and Krsna's pastimes, the wonder of the greatest sweetness, the ultimate nectar of Lord Hari, the sweetest, most beautiful auspiciousness and a flood of virtues Ananta-sesa, Siva, and a host of others cannot cross.

5. Think of Vrndavana with love. Roll in its dust. Love it ardently. Please its moving and non moving residents. Worship Sri Radha's birthplace. With all your heart take shelter of Sri Vrndavana, the best of all holy places.

6. If the Vedanta does not directly describe Vrndavana, why should that matter to me? If the faulty logicians, who are like serpents living in the Vedic literatures, ignore Vrndavana, why should I care? If even the devotees of the Lord do not understand the glories of Vrndavana, how does that affect me? Even if my heart were pierced by thousands of thunderbolts. I would never leave Vrndavana.

7. I meditate on Vrndavana, where the cuckoos sing the fifth note, the flute plays splendid melodies, peacocks sing and dance, vines and trees bloom, splendid and charming forests are wonderful with many birds and deer, and there are many splendid lakes, streams and hills.