Guru Maharaja in North Carolina

Guru-nistha Das - April 9, 2005 8:09 pm

We left from Audarya on Wednesday in the afternoon. Lila was kind enough to drive us to San Francisco. She was asking a lot of good questions during the drive and I was happy about that because Guru Maharaja told many interesting things. He talked about the last months before Prabhupada left and how his leaving affected everybody. Theytalked about Guru Maharaja's mission and when we came to SF, they were talking about the city and how they both had spent their youth there. Lila told that she had hung out with Osley (?), the guy who came up with the formula for LSD. Interesting.


Lila dropped us off in front of Vamsidhari's house. GM had keys for the apartment because Vamsi was at work. But for some reason we couldn't get this iron gate, that led to the doorstep, open. Lila said with with her city gals confidence that I should hop over the gate (which was pretty high, and it had long thorns on top). I said with my country boys insecurity that people are gonna call the cops. Lila responded "This is SF, nobody's going to give a damn!" So I started climbing in my dhoti and sandals, and when I was stepping over the sharp iron spikes, I was contemplating on horror scenes of impaled people. Luckily I was able to avoid that destiny and we got in.

Interesting conversations ensued. We talked for probably two hours, then Vamsidhari came from work and we continued talking. I was really excited to be travelling with GM again. This is great!

I was nonetheless getting really tired because I didn't sleep too well the previous night, stressing about remembering to take everything with me etc. We went to bed a bit late but we didn't get to sleep too much because this crazy idiot neighbor of Vamsi's kept harrassing us. He purposefully played music so loud that we couldn't sleep and kept banging on the floor and the walls with his fists. I was ready to kill him for keeping GM and Vamsi up, to be honest with you. vamsi called the cops but they couldn't do anything. We woke up at five and none of us had slept more than few hours. On top of this the neighbor had thrown the insides of his carbage can on Vamsi's doorstep!


The flight to Charlotte went well. We had to change planes in Dallas and on the second flight we had this middle-aged lady from Virginia sitting next to us. She didn't talk to us anything for the first hour but then she just suddenly gave us these little packs of jelly sweets. She said "kids like them". It's interesting to think that that's how peoples' spiritual lives begin. She just gave something to a sadhu (and this weird guy who's following him around) and got sukriti from that. The sentence of the day was definately when she was talking with GM later on about her family in Texas and said "We are hillbillies... And proud of it!" This is the side of America that we snotty europeans are so fond of making fun of. But she was great.


We arrived to the Charlotte airport at about eight and were greeted by madan Gopal. He drove us to the Prabhupada village, about a two hour drive away. I was totally exhausted from not sleeping properly for two days. GM and Madan Gopal were talking about ISKCON and Sridhar Maharaja and I really didn't want to sleep because so many interesting things were said.


We finally arrived to Prabhupada village. It's a community of 29 families that are connected to Prabhupada, either as his disciples, grandisciples or the children of his disciples. There are also ISKCON people and ritviks so it's not only ISKCON territory. Our hosts Karnamrita and Arcanasiddhi greeted us warmly and we sat down to have some prasadam. Fred was there too and the hosts' son Narayana. While we were eating, we were told that one of the Prabhupada village residents who is a ritvik had been put copies of GM's letter that he wrote to GBC in 1995 and the famous letter where Prabhupada condemns all his Godbrothers, including Srila Sridhar maharaja. The ritvik guy had underlined and drawn arrows to point to the sentence from GM's letter where he says that the biggest problem of ISKCON is overglorification of Srila Prabhupada. What an offensive thing to pull up something like that! It was a prime example of how fanatics take things out of context. As GM pointed out later, the person is using Prabhupada for his selfish purposes, using his guru as a tool to promote his own motives. The funny thing is that those persons don't have the guts to challenge GM personally. I think it tells a lot.



I have to get ready to travel to Hillsborough, so the story continues tomorrow.

Nanda-tanuja Dasa - April 9, 2005 10:10 pm
Lila told that she had hung out with Osley (?), the guy who came up with the formula for LSD.

Wow! August Owsley "Bear" Stanley III? He actually was sound engineer for Grateful Dead at one point. The Oracle magazine was supported by Owsley, he organized the Human Be In at Golden Gate Park, subsidized the Grateful Dead's infamous Wall of Sound, etc. Great man. I'm sure Lila has some stories to tell :)

I'm happy you had a pleasant flight. Guru-nistha, I hope you have that MD recorder running at all times! Would be nice to have MP3 CD of this trip made (and last trip to Finland too). As a matter of fact, I’m pledging $100 for each new MP3 CD Audarya produces.

Syamasundara - April 10, 2005 1:28 am

And somebody'd better take pictures, too, please, as granted as it sounds.


I just don't want to run the risk...

Guru-nistha Das - April 10, 2005 9:33 pm

There was about six people on the first lecture. Karnamrita suggested that Guru maharaja would talk about guru-tattva. GM talked about the letters that the ritvik had put to mail boxes and said how too many devotees rather go by sentiment than by shastra and commit offenses because of that. He said that Sridhar Maharaja stressed that wherever you find a real flow of spiritual current, you have to take advatange of that, if you are serious. It's not the institution that provides the nourishment but the devotees, real devotees.

I was thinking that these are such obvious points for us, and that's why it's so hard to understand why so many people just don't get it, no matter how many times you try to get it into their heads.


Our hosts have a very nice and opulent altar, it has probably eight sets of Deities, of which three are Radha-krishna Deities. Karnamrita told us that one of the Radha-Krishna Deities were supposed to be in the temple that the Prabhupada village community has built, but there has been some disagreement over which Deities there should be in the temple, and Arcana Siddhi and Karmanmrita are hosting those Deities.

When I served lunch to GM and sat down while he ate, he said to me "We are supposed to be devotees, right?" I nodded. "And we shouldn't think that the Deities are made of plastic or wood, that they are just statues. Or do you think that the Deities don't have a will of their own, that you can just do with them whatever you like? Those Radha-Krishna Deities came to hear me talk. That's the spiritual logic of this incident."

This is what is so great about being in Guru maharaja's presence. It's a constant reminder of how superficial my understanding is and it's challenging me continuously.


The evening's program was in the famous tobacco town Winston. A devotee owns a new age shop there and GM gave a talk there. About 15 people showed up and although the crowd wasn't big they really seemed to be captivated. Normally it's always at least one or two persons in this kind of programs that are visibly uncomfortable or bored, but this time I couldn't see a trace of that. It made so much sense what GM was saying and it was fun to again witness how he knows how to preach to different people. He used the right kind of terms and approach that the new age type of seekers find appealing. GM started by describing the realm of senses, went on to explain the mind, then the intellect, then the impersonal nirguna stage and finally the "positive numbers", identity in spirutality. People asked really good questions too, which is not too often the case. The room was full of interesting characters and they all seemed to get something out of GM's talk. But the funny thing is that after we were walking back to the car with Guru maharaja (it was night already and the street lights were shining and people were out with their friends going to bars and whatever) and I said that they really seemed to get it this time, GM said "You have heard me talk these things so many times that you are probably surprised that they don't all just give up their attachments and surrender right there, but when I talked with most of them after the class, it became apparent that they understood probably only 10 to 40 percent of what I was saying."

We agreed nonetheless that it was a good night. We came back pretty late and i was developing a good old sleep deprivation, but that's definately part of being on the road.


Lights out.

Guru-nistha Das - April 10, 2005 10:51 pm

Yesterday's morning class started with one gentleman asking Guru Maharaja's stance on the fact that devotees think they don't have to pay attention to all the rules and regulations like varnasrama and so on, because they are devotees. He also expressed his concern about Sannyasis living like enjoyers and being in charge of management and handling money and wearing fancy accessories etc.

GM gave such a nice answer I had to hold my laughter because it was so straight to the point. He started with explaining what is a real devotee and that a kanistha adhikari devotee, which all of us basically are, is not even a devotee in a real sense because materialistic devotee is an oxymoron in itself. It's only the generosity of real devotees that they call us deovtees because we have some faith. Some people seemed to be bewildered why GM started telling about this but after a while this whole intorduction started to suddenly make sense with the subject matter and gave a comprehensive background to the question. The idea was that real devotees don't really have to follow all the rules and regulations because they are driven by svarup shakti instead of maya-shakti. He was also talking a lot about how varnasrama is about situating people according to their psychology and capability and I'm not sure if I got it right but my understanding was that he was indicating that considering time and circumstance there are more suitable ways of really becoming integrated into the society than varnasrama.

The answer was so comprehensive and based on common sense that it just blew my mind. I can't understand how some people can be so endlessly stupid that they claim GM's approach to be "off" or that he "left prabhupada". The more I hear from GM, the more my fury against those people grows.


To be continued.

Gauravani Dasa - April 11, 2005 1:40 am

It is amazingly refreshing to hear Guru Maharaja not only give such lucid talks about Gaudiya Vaisnavism but also to see how much some of his Godbrothers and Godsisters are inspired and appreciative.


As an aspiring disciple of Guru Maharaja and a resident of Prabhupada Village, I have received an unusual amount of attention regarding my spiritual life. Some devotees have been attempting to break my faith, but Guru Maharaja noted that one of the effects of his influence in my spiritual life has created more interest in it from other devotees--my good fortune.


The more my faith is attacked, the more I become attached to GM. The method and mood in which some express their concern only makes GM's example that much more attractive.


I share some of Guru-nista's fury, but at the same time I feel some sadness that everyone is not able to take full advantage of GM's association.

Guru-nistha Das - April 11, 2005 7:25 pm

On the morning of the third day Guru Maharaja clarified the term Founder-Acarya to us and made the point that it's Chaitanya Mahaprabhu who is our founder-acharya, the founder of our sampradaya. He discussed the four main sampradayas and explained how there are two camps within Gaudiya Vaishnava's, those who say that we come from the lineage of Madhva and those who say that Caitanya's lineage is bonafide on its own.

GM explained a lot of the history of the different sampradays and spoke super nicely about the speciality of Gaudiya Vaishnavism, about Caitanya and the Goswamis. He also pointed at the importance of Bhaktivinoda Thakur. The talk was packed with interesting insights and information. It also made me think how little I know about my own tradition. There's so much to know but that's what's so nice about it. You don't get bored.


Guru Maharaja has been talking a lot about Siksastakam too, but not directly. He has been able to draw examples from the eight verses to almost every question people have asked. He told be earlier that he will do that to get more insights to the commentary and it seems like it's working since almost every time I go to his room he's writing on his computer.



---Nandatanuja, if I'm not super busy when I go back to Audarya, i'll start working on those MP3 lectures. GM's talks in Poland in January were really special too, so I'd like to get them out as well. I'll keep you informed.

Guru-nistha Das - April 12, 2005 5:18 pm

Guru Maharaja's presence has really stirred things up here in Prabhupada village. This one ritvik guy who is a prominent person in the community came to talk with GM personally, he had some issues. Unfortunately I don't know what they talked about (maybe I should've bugged GM's room?) but Guru Maharaja told me later that the guy had said after the discussion that he totally agreed with GM. But then later on we heard from other devotees taht the same person had said quite rude things about GM. There haven't been too many people on the lectures because many of the prominent older memebers of the community have been warning to "take siksa outside ISKCON" on so on. Like Fred wrote earlier, it's so sad to see how people get tangled up in the politics and misconceptions and can't take advantage of the company of an advanced devotee, and on top of that even commit offenses.

I have never seen this side of our tradition so it's definately a good lesson of how impure motives and sentimentalism make things twisted. It really seems like people don't often research the subject matter themselves and use discrimination, but instead just listen to hearsay and attitudes that are based on a very shaky basis. And I do that too of course and this experience has helped me being more conscietious about myself too. But my anger against the people who offend GM still stays. It's sad and infuriating at the same time.


Guru Maharaja made a clear point on this morning's lecture. He said that it's unbelievable that the ritviks are allowed to speak in the temple here but GM wasn't allowed, although even according to ISKCON's laws the ritviks are heretics whereas GM holds the correct siddhanta but is outside of ISKCON. And still people are warning to hear from outside ISKCON on the morning programs, but the ritviks can speak?


I have seen a side of GM too that's not on the surface too often, his heaviness. It really is the same kind of heaviness that Prabhupada had, that's coming from being infuriated by adulteration of Mahaprabhu's teachings and coming from the platform of firm standing on the siddhanta.



Yesterday GM talked at the University of Greensboro. Madan Gopal is studying to become a social worker and he asked GM to speak on one of his class. I went to the classroom first with Madan Gopal and started unloading the bookcase. There I was, in front of 30 students and the middle-aged, slightly flakey teacher lady greets me "Swami Tripurari!! Welcome!!" My face was probably red as a tomato and all I could say was " It's not me, he is a bit older".

GM gave a great talk again, he took a more "objective" approach to our tradition and aswered questions very fittingly in consideration of circumstance. I liked how he separated the spiritual (or vertical) perspective of what we are about and the relative (or horisontal) side. It made me think too about how I should relate to social and relative issues from the perspective of my tradition. In fact, that's what's going on in Prabhupada village right now and in many places in ISKCON, people can't discriminate between the relative and the absolute side, they can't harmonize them and get a clear understanding of which is which. And that's probably what makes many religious communities so in-fighting and repressive, because people try to press absolute laws on issues that are dynamic and changing by nature...


G uru Maharaja's statement that preacher's purpose is not to pat you on the back but challenge your thinking and stir things up has really come to life during this trip. Things are pretty charged up and it's exciting and mentally demanding at the same time.

When GM said to me few days ago that his company is dangerous, i couldn't but say "I like to live my life dangerously".

Good times.

Narada-kunda Dasi - April 12, 2005 6:27 pm

How fortunate you are, Gurunistha, to be able to absorb Swami's association to such an extent. I can't believe there are so few people in these classes, don't they have at least an inkling of what they are missing? I wish I could hear just one class or meet Swami just once. It would make my whole devotional struggle worthwhile, validating my faith and my identity... Of course then life in separation would become even more painful... I guess Krishna knows best.


Thank you so much for these reports. This forum is my lifeline and the various writings by the devotees are nourishment for my soul. It makes material existence bearable and devotional life feasible.


Live every second with your whole being, you will never regret lack of sleep...

Nanda-tanuja Dasa - April 12, 2005 6:56 pm

I cannot believe what I’m reading! Alas, people just don’t understand what is good for them and are missing on an opportunity to hear Guru Maharaja speak. It’s very very sad, this ignorance is very unfortunate. I hope 15 people who did attend can carry the flame and enlighten the others.

Gauravani Dasa - April 12, 2005 6:56 pm

I couldn't agree with Guru-nista more. I have been in Prabhupada Village for two years and have heard nothing but constant bickering. Then when Guru Maharaja comes to vist, few have the interest to get some association and attempt to understand their tradition more.


And Guru Maharaja's heaviness has definetly pushed me to try to understand the siddhanta. The manner in which he explained the heresy of ritvikism created a sense of urgency, even fear, in me. I thought of the descriptions of Srila Bhaktisiddhanta. It is a real sadhu who shakes things up and forces us to analyze ourselves and motivations.


It is also quite ridiculous the extent to which so many decisions and statements are made based on misunderstandings and just plain apasiddhanta. As much as I try to maintain a peaceful mind, the more I think about the situation here the more it disgusts and infuriates me.


As GM has emphasized to me on more than one occasion, association is everything. Thank God for his!

Madangopal - April 12, 2005 9:54 pm

Without Prabhupada's presence, you can form whatever opinion you want and hold steadfast to that - he's not going to correct you. That is why parampara exists... New teachers MUST be accepted so that you don't get old, fat and die with such bizarre misconceptions. Siksa guru's are all over our sampradaya, much more prominent than diksa gurus, yet a major complaint about Guru Maharaj here is that he accepted a siksa guru. It is downright laughable, the bewilderment that goes on in the name of following, chastity or love for Prabhupada. Love means distortion of siddhanta?


And if you go by the logic of judging the tree by the fruit, what has Swami done with his life in inspired service to his guru's? Publishing and distribution of books - that rates quite high on Prabhupada's stated desires!! Accomplished teacher, preacher and guru - again, he's doing what seems apparent to anyone knowledgeable in Gaudiya thought as wonderful service. At the least it should be recognized, but to discount it because he IS following guru, sastra and sadhu successfully is just sad.


Swami has captured the minds and hearts of the second generation devotees here and open-minded and philisophically solid first generation devotees. The dogs may bark, but this caravan is going somewhere sublime... It is a shame that Swami must give so much of his association here in defending who he is and his faith when he has so much to offer those who are not hung up on this garbage. Still, even seeing Swami as the sadhu at the chopping block wielding the big knife is relishable.



Babhru Das - April 13, 2005 4:09 am

What's happening there at Prabhupada Village highlights the importance of the discussion we've been having about guru-tattva and the idea of Prabhupada as "adi guru" or "sampradaya acharya." I know I need to make time to consider the points being made, try to share my understanding (in the mood of exploring it in the company of like-minded devotees), and ask the best questions I can.


As Swami wrote me, misconceptions regarding guru tattva and what it means to be a disciple are pervasive throughout ISKCON and take several forms. We need to churn our understanding to ensure that we have the firmest possible footing and may be able to work at eroding these foolish ideas and undermining their influence.


In the meantime, I feel a little impotent out here in the middle of the ocean. A good, quick kick in the lungi (well, in the early morning--pants the rest of the day) might get me going.

Bijaya Kumara Das - April 13, 2005 5:55 am
Those Radha-Krishna Deities came to hear me talk. That's the spiritual logic of this incident."

I thank You Guru Maharaja (the incarnation of book distribution) for not only distributing the books but understanding what is in them (another order of Your Gurudeva) as proven by Radha-Krishna Deities association.


Maybe His Divine Grace would now name you (the incarnation of sanga-varjita)freed from the contamination of fruitive activities and mental speculation.


When the disciple is ready the Guru will appear or something like that and those that are ready will come see You.


"Therefore by sat-sanga, or association with devotees, one becomes perfectly pure in heart." And You have done this by Your association and I pray that I may also become like You.


"Association with a great personality is most important. Lord Caitanya says that sädhu-sanga, the association of a great saintly person, is very important, because even if one is not advanced in knowledge, simply by association with a great saintly person one can immediately make considerable advancement in spiritual life."


The environment is friendly as You say. ;)

Karnamrita Das - April 16, 2005 11:43 pm

So now the spiritual smoke has cleared from the yajna of Swami's Hari kirtana, and we have cleaned up the house a bit. While we were churning the nectar of devotion inside our home, on the outside a vile potion was passed around, which you have already heard about.


I have a bunch of pictures to post, with some dialog latter. Just before GM left we took a group picture, but unfortunately the camera was dropped in a puddle and that is the end of the camera. O well, maybe I can get it fixed. I could read a whole lot into this, but one thing is for sure: digital cameras being submerged in water are not compatible, like the soul having a material body--it doesn't last, though there are some great images.


Swami gives his first talk:


Karnamrita Das - April 16, 2005 11:47 pm

Here is another shot of a moring class.


Karnamrita Das - April 16, 2005 11:55 pm

I forgot the camera for the Friday evening program. About 15 people attended including us. A great talk to an attentive audience, and fab prasad catered by Anumanta who set up the next evenings program at a Greensboro church in which about 40 people attended. Another great talk with a full prasad meal. In addition to the talk Panca tattva danced and her husband and a very talented devotee trained in India sang.


Karnamrita Das - April 16, 2005 11:58 pm

Panca tattva dasi performs a number of Bharat natyam dances.


Karnamrita Das - April 17, 2005 12:02 am

Sunday we had a spontaneous darshan and an Indian man and his sons who had atttended the Greensboro program came to ask some questions.


Karnamrita Das - April 17, 2005 12:05 am

A close up of Swami speaking.


Karnamrita Das - April 17, 2005 12:07 am

Madan Gopal performs one of the many sacrifices of fatherhood.


Karnamrita Das - April 17, 2005 12:09 am

Sridham dropped by to show us his new sadhaka deha.


Karnamrita Das - April 17, 2005 12:12 am

Gurunistha the chef, after making his "yummy dahl".


Karnamrita Das - April 17, 2005 12:17 am

On one of our walks, Mathura, who came to as many classes as he could, shows us his field of dreams.


Karnamrita Das - April 17, 2005 12:21 am

Swami, Arcana and myself behind the camera hear about Mathura's farming. (Gurunistha stayed back to send you a report on tattva-viveka.) We also discuss the minature cows from Audarya, and their advantages.


Karnamrita Das - April 17, 2005 12:24 am

Swami leads the "Audarya bhajanas" or the songs sung for the morning program at Audarya. The "old folks" sit in chairs.


Karnamrita Das - April 17, 2005 12:29 am

More shots of this.


Karnamrita Das - April 17, 2005 12:32 am

Swami cooks it up!


Karnamrita Das - April 17, 2005 12:36 am

Here is the last shot of this same time. That is all the pics. I will write about my impressions soon and I will ask Arcana to as well. Madan and Panca, and Freddie, perhaps you could as well.






Bijaya Kumara Das - April 17, 2005 7:15 am

Thank you for the bliss :huh:

Nanda-tanuja Dasa - April 18, 2005 8:29 pm
Sridham dropped by to show us his new sadhaka deha.

That's a great news! When did that happen? Can we have some details?

Karnamrita Das - April 18, 2005 10:16 pm

Sridham (aka Jeff) was intiated during GM's Vyasa-puja/Gaura Purnima festival. I don't know which day. He stopped by in NC for only a few hours and I didn't ask him the details. Perhaps Sridham might tell us, or Gurunisthan (it wasn't mentioned in the Audarya daily)!



Nanda-tanuja Dasa - April 18, 2005 10:33 pm

I was there on Vyasa-puja, so it probably happen on Gaura Purnima. Sridham?

Sridama Dasa - April 21, 2005 12:39 am

Yes, Nanda-Tanuja, I was fortunate enough to take initiation from Guru Maharaja on Gaura Purnima! And I believe Guru-Nista and Vrindavan das both took second initiation. Sorry for taking a couple of days to respond -- I've been so busy at work that I haven't been online much. I still need to change my user name, but my new name is Sridama (I think that's spelled right!).


Thanks for asking!



Bhrigu - April 21, 2005 6:44 am

Congratulations, Sridama!


I still need to change my user name, but my new name is Sridama (I think that's spelled right!).


It could also be spelled Shridama or Shridaman. In the first case, both the a-s should be long. But yes, no h; Sridhama means "Holy Abode" (like in Sridhama Mayapur), and that is something else.

Sridama Dasa - April 21, 2005 2:00 pm
But yes, no h; Sridhama means "Holy Abode" (like in Sridhama Mayapur), and that is something else.

Right, my name is Sridama, as in the cowherd friend of Krsna's.

Syamasundara - April 21, 2005 2:42 pm

sridama as in glorious belly? just kidding

Nanda-tanuja Dasa - April 22, 2005 1:02 am

Speaking of Guru-nistha, he's been quite silent for a while as well. What’s new in Audarya?