maitreya uvaca
stuvatisv amara-strisu
pati-lokam gata vadhuh
yam va atma-vidam dhuryo
vainyah prapacyutasrayah

The great sage Maitreya continued speaking: My dear Vidura, when the wives of the denizens of heaven were thus talking amongst themselves, Queen Arci reached the planet which her husband, Maharaja Prthu, the topmost self-realized soul, had attained.

PURPORT According to Vedic scriptures, a woman who dies with her husband, or enters into the fire in which her husband is burning, also enters the same planet her husband attains. In this material world there is a planet known as Patiloka, just as there is a planet known as Pitrloka. But in this verse the word pati-loka does not refer to any planet within this material universe, for Prthu Maharaja, being topmost amongst self-realized souls, certainly returned home, back to Godhead, and attained one of the Vaikuntha planets. Queen Arci also entered Patiloka, but this planet is not in the material universe, for she actually entered the planet which her husband attained. In the material world also, when a woman dies with her husband, she again unites with him in the next birth. Similarly, Maharaja Prthu and Queen Arci united in the Vaikuntha planets. In the Vaikuntha planets there are husbands and wives, but there is no question of their giving birth to children or having sex life. In the Vaikuntha planets both husbands and wives are extraordinarily beautiful, and they are attracted to one another, but they do not enjoy sex life. Indeed, they consider sex not to be very relishable because both husband and wife are always absorbed in Krsna consciousness and in glorifying and chanting the glories of the Lord.

According to Bhaktivinoda Thakura also, a husband and wife can turn the home into a place as good as Vaikuntha, even while in this material world. Being absorbed in Krsna consciousness, even in this world husband and wife can live in Vaikuntha simply by installing the Deity of the Lord within the home and serving the Deity according to the directions of the sastras. In this way, they will never feel the sex urge. That is the test of advancement in devotional service. One who is advanced in devotional service is never attracted by sex life, and as soon as one becomes detached from sex life and proportionately attached to the service of the Lord, he actually experiences living in the Vaikuntha planets. In the ultimate issue, there is actually no material world, but when one forgets the service of the Lord and engages himself in the service of his senses, he is said to be living in the material world. [End of Srila Prabhupada’s purport to SB 4.23.29]

HG Anuttama Prabhu: So I would request the mercy of the senior Vaisnavas that I might say something pleasing to you and to Srila Prabhupada and all the devotees. Today is also Siva-ratri. I didn’t know that until it was announced this morning. So I prepared to speak on the Bhagavatam verse but it is important that we should also glorify Lord Siva. He is explained to be the greatest of the Vaisnavas and perhaps we can briefly quote the verse Srila Prabhupada quotes in the Madhya-lila 5.23 where it is explained that lord Siva told Durga although the Vedas recommend worship of the demigods, worship of Lord Visnu is topmost. However Lord Siva instructed his wife above the worship of Lord Visnu (amazing) is rendering of service to the Viasnavas who are related to Lord Visnu.

So we are all very fortunate to be either living or visiting the dham where there is so much opportunity to serve the topmost Vaisnava, Srila Prabhupada as well as all of his followers and his mission and all of our fellow Vaisnavas. In this way we can remember this most important instruction given by Lord Siva and thus glorify Lord Siva and worship Lord Siva by following his instructions – to always serve the Vaisnavas, render service to the Vaisnavas – today especially and in the future. That would be the best service, the best glorification of Lord Siva.

So in today’s verse Maitreya is explaining to Vidura that Prthu and his queen Arci both attained Vaikuntha. Srila Prabhupada makes many interesting points in the purport. It is interesting that sometimes you prepare to give a class and then when you are reading in the class you think I could have talked about that too. How come I did not talk about that? But we will look at it from a few different angles.

Srila Prabhupada makes multiple points. One thing that is interesting is that he begins quoting according to the Vedic scriptures – if the wife dies with her husband or if she enters the fire with him just like we have the history of Gandhari and Dhrtarasta. He finally left home and went to the forest and then performed so many austerities and he gave up his life and she herself built the fire in the middle of the forest. There was no one there and then she entered into it. So there are many histories of great queens like that. It is explained according to the Vedas when a woman does that she attains as Prabhupada points out the same planet.

But it is also important for us to understand because I think a lot of time we become confused when we hear the term Vedic. When Prabhupada refers to the Vedic period and sometimes it is a little confusing that if it is Vedic that we are supposed to do it. It is essential for us to understand that there is a difference between Vedic and Vaisnava. There are a lot of things in the Vedas that we don’t do. And there are a lot of things in the Vedas that aren’t appropriate for this particular age. So we have to discriminate.

We are first Vaisnavas more than we are Vedic followers. The Vaisnavas philosophy and teaching is the siddhanta or the perfection of the Vedas. Perfection means just like with milk you boil it, boil it, boil it and it gets thicker, thicker and you get the essence. So in the same way the Vedas – what is the essence? That is what we are trying to understand.

Just like when you make ghee you cook it, cook it, cook it but you put some things aside to get the ghee. It is not that all of those things have use in getting the ghee. So we want the ghee. We want to understand what the essence is. Vedic and Vaisnava is not always the same. There are many instructions in the Vedas. We have to be a little practical and reasonable and follow the footsteps of our previous acaryas and understand that they are not necessarily: 1. for this age or 2. for Vaisnavas And some of those are pointed out rather clearly.

Three come to mind. Specifically it says in this age no horse sacrifices. So sorry! If you think you like to do a horse sacrifice it is not bona fide. You may say it is in this place in the Vedas – this place, this place, this place – sorry! You have to come back a few more births in a different yuga and then you can do a horse sacrifice. Similarly it is described that in this age if a brother dies it is not appropriate for the brother to impregnate the wife. I am not sure what that particular one is pointing out but it is there. I am not sure why of all the different things. And then the third one we always hear – don’t take sannyasa. So we are sitting here with so many illustrious sannyasis, great preachers, servants of Prabhupada. So either you are avedic or there is something else for us to understand.So those are rather clear although interestingly when one understands the siddhanta then you can take sannyasa. That is what we understand. The principle behind that is that you have to understand what the purpose is.

Other things that are Vedic compared to Vaisnava – they are not so clear. Just like I was a brahmacari for ten years and I remember I was a little confused when I started reading the duties of brahmacaris in the seventh canto. I thought I don’t know if I can do this tree bark stuff. Because if you are Vedic and you are brahmacari all of you should go out and of course the environmentalists might stop you first – but to truly be a brahmacari according to the Vedas and even the Bhagavatam which is our sastra particularly, you should go take out that nasty cotton and go find a tree and strip the bark and dress yourself like that. Of course we probably wouldn’t let in to the temple if you tried to do that. It wouldn’t be appropriate although it is Vedic. In fact it would actually hurt our preaching. I can imagine at least in the West headlines, ‘Epidemic of Hare Krishna’s Being Arrested for Destroying City Park Trees.’ “No it is Vedic.” said Visnudasa as he was hauled away with a scantily dressed piece of bark wrapped around his body. So we have to understand a little bit even for our preaching, especially for our preaching. The key is what is appropriate for this time, for this place and what does it really mean to be a Vaisnava.

So similarly this idea of sati comes up a few times – usually you read these types of things and you think everybody understands but sometimes not everybody understands. So I get to verse a couple comments. However it may have been applied in the past. It simply does not apply today. In fact in India not too long ago it was outlawed by the British. They did some good things, they did some bad things. This is one of the good things they did. Why was it outlawed? Because it was terribly abused for a certain period of time. Why was it terribly abused? Because somebody said it was Vedic and therefore you should do it as opposed to what is the purpose behind it, what is the principle behind it? If it is Vedic that means it is to uplift us. It is not meant to abuse us or anybody else.

So the real question for us in these kind of context is what is the principle to be applied and what are we meant to learn from it and how do we apply it. Just as we know Prabhupada told us in many different situations – he said, “Don’t try to imitate.” He said about his own self. He said, “Don’t try to imitate me. Don’t try to imitate the great, great acaryas. They are very powerful. They can do things we can’t do. Don’t try to imitate but try to follow in their footsteps.” That means try to understand what is the principle. What is the deeper meaning behind what is being taught, what is being done? What was the earlier teaching in the earlier age in some instances and how do we apply that to this day and age?

So in this context it seems the principle is that wives should be very, very dedicated to their husbands, that is the principle. These lades that took their lives wasn’t because somebody threw them into the fire. They loved their husbands so much that it is practically impossible for us to understand their degree of devotion in this age. They loved their husbands so much that for them it was more painful to live than to die. So they rather die. That is not grabbing somebody and saying, “It is your duty to die with your husband.” That is what is going on unfortunately in the past. But they are willing to sacrifice. What is the principle? The principle is that a wife should be so dedicated to her husband and her family and her children that she is willing to sacrifice herself or her needs or her selfish interest for the needs of her husband or children, her family members and others. We can see if that principle is applied – it is not the only one certainly – but if that principle is applied what beautiful families we would have. Instead we see unfortunately in the modern day’s society all around the world – In India now it is happening more and more.

People don’t understand the principle of self sacrifice – women or men in grhasta asrama. So instead of marrying and doing whatever needs to be done to help the other person be happy they divorce – as Prabhupada commented many times – out of self interest “You used to be beautiful. I used to want to be with you. Now you are not so beautiful. I will leave. You used to be rich and powerful. Now you are not so rich, now you are not so powerful so I will leave. So the complete perversion of that! Often time we see people even if there is children involved the adults will think, “I need to be true to myself and I need to do what is good for me.” The traditional moral principle is, “Let me sacrifice for the children.” But today it is, “Well the children will just have to cope with it because I need to do what is right for me.” It is very unfortunate.

So again what is the principle? And if we look at this principle carefully we see within our own hearts. Sometimes we try to understand the principle and then it becomes very easy to see what you should do to apply the principle.hat is harder to do is to see what I should do to apply the principle. That is when we are really beginning to make some spiritual advancement – when we understand the principle in terms of what it means to me and not that I am quick to find what others are doing. In this context talking about Arci and her husband and her ultimate sacrifice.

Sometimes we see even in our movement, especially in our movement – not so much the outside world. They don’t know these things. Sometimes a husband will demand or sometimes we have this culture were this is normal – the husband demands that my wife must be like Arci. “You are my wife. You should be like Arci. Look how selfless she was. You should be like Sita or sati. You should be just like them.” That is the principle. But the question that should be asked is then you should be like Rama. You should be like Prthu. And if you are like Prthu then I can try to be like Arci. Someone could say but even Ravan and his wife but that is another story. Ravan is not or model. Our model is Prthu. So the principle is that both husband and wife should be trained as humble Vaisnavas willing to sacrifice for each other, for their children and for others and for society. That is the principle.

Here talking about grhasta life. We are on that a little bit later. But the principle is a very important one. I remember the story – I think I told it here before but it is appropriate. A man had just gotten married and he was on a morning walk with Srila Prabhupada and he asked Prabhupada, “What is the meaning of grhasta asrama, what should I do?” And Prabhupada said, “Being in grhasta asrama means before you take Prasad you should go to the door and call out three times, “Is anyone hungry? Is anyone hungry? Is anyone hungry?” And the devotee was rather bewildered and he thought Prabhupada didn’t understand the question. So he kind of got his courage up and a little later on in the walk or maybe later that morning – I think it was during the same walk – he again asked Prabhupada the same question. “Prabhupada what does it means now that I am a grhasta – what is my duty?” Prabhupada said the same thing. “Before you take prasadam go to the door and call out three times is anyone hungry? Is anyone hungry? Is anyone hungry? Again what is the principle? Prabhupada was using a vivid example but was hoping we would all be intelligent enough to understand what is the principle – that you should use your life now, that you are grhasta to care for others. Not to just feed you own belly. How is the rest of the world doing? How is your wife doing? How are your children doing? How are other people doing? I will just give an example that i was earlier in this year in our temple.

I live in Washington DC. There were couple marriages and they were reciting some different vows and I was really touched by one vow. There was a young Indian girl and a young African American young man. They are members of our community. Really as Prabhupada says really beautiful young couple. So they were reciting their vows and I never heard this one before. But one of the vows the husband took – he said, “I shall always praise your beauty. I will never speak harshly to you.” And it really touched me because I have been married about twenty five years now and am starting to understand a little bit of female psychology. It is very difficult to understand. I am hoping I understand enough in this lifetime that I don’t die still being curious because I don’t want to take another birth in that way out of that question. But understanding a little bit and realizing that ladies are very attracted to beauty, differently than men are.

Men are attracted to beauty but ladies are so attracted to beauty that is why the men get up and throw on a dhoti and kurta and you go to the temple. It happens to have a red stripe with a blue shirt. You don’t think about it. It is like a uniform. It is a different type of psychology. I remember when I was the temple president and I had to go and buy the saris for the ladies. It was one of the more complicated tasks I have ever performed in my life. [Laughter] Because this one wanted pink stripes with such and such…I was trying to be a good president. It took like a day and I never really did get it right but at least I tried to buy extra so if they got less than what they wanted at least there was extra in the pile.

So ladies are attracted to beauty and are easily hurt when they are spoken to harshly especially by her husband. But if a man doesn’t know that sometimes in his misunderstanding of what it means to protect his wife thinks he is supposed to bark out orders like a guard dog or something or like a drill sergeant. Dogs protect property. In the west they have a big fence and they buy a dog to protect the property. So okay I am a husband I am supposed to be like a dog – woof, woof, woof, woof. I am protecting you – woof, woof, woof, woof. That is a misunderstanding of the principle. In the same way it is described like ladies – men have as Prabhupada describes in the Bhagavatam – broad shouldered mentality. The man wants to be strong. He wants to protect. When a lady says something like, “You will never do it. You can’t do that. Sita’s husband doesn’t do that. Sita’s husband did this for her why can’t you do that?” The man’s energy and enthusiasm is just totally sapped because he wants to be strong in the eyes of his wife. He wants to be Krishna conscious and protect her as best as he can. So the principle is he is meant to serve her in the grhasta asrama. He needs to understand his wife’s mentality a little bit.

So therefore this very nice vow – praise her beauty. A woman likes to feel beautiful. Praise her beauty. “You look very nice.” And she is enthused to serve Krishna. And to not speak harshly because that discourages her. So the same way for husbands – grhastas in our movement need to speak in a caring way and they need to treat their wives in a caring way and they will blossom. Just as the husband will blossom if there is a nice relationship with the wife. The wife will blossom if there is a nice relationship with her husband and the children will blossom. So what is the ultimate principle? The principle is to care for one another and to care for the children and then care for society. Sometimes we see even with our children this is misunderstood. Sometimes we tend to think in our society (It is talking a lot about household life so I am talking about this. But I think it is also important for those in the renounced order of life because three quarters or more of the devotees in our movement are grhastas and they need to understand how to preach to them.) It has its advantages as a grhasta and has many disadvantages. So that is not the point. The point is how do we understand how people can function effectively and become Krishna conscious.

We train our youth sometimes to think that the only noble path is renunciation. When I was a brahmacari in the early days if someone got married – I haven’t heard this in ten years but it is important to know how sometimes we can misunderstand things – the term was, “He fell down.” He got married, he fell down. That is bogus. Grhasta asrama is one of the four asramas for spiritual progress. It is a natural progressive step for most men. Some men will stay brahmacari and do great and that is wonderful and we offer our full pranams at their feet. Some men will go directly to sannyasa asrama and that is even more wonderful and we fall at their feets because we need sannyasis who remind grhastas, “Okay. You can be a little comfortable. It is okay but the clock is ticking – tick, tick, tick, tick.” Isn’t it? Where will we be without sannyasis? We will be finished.

So we are so indebted to sannyasis. And at the same time we know Prabhupada was a grhasta. Bhaktivinode Thakura was a grhasta. Most of the mahajanas were grhastas. Most Iskcon members are grhastas. Most of our children will be grhastas. I was thinking about it this morning and I don’t want to embarrass everybody here but the fact is each and every one of us had parents that were grhastas. [Laughter] Shocking! Somewhat embarrassing you might say. Moreover our grandparents were grhastas. Some sannyasis here are pointing out hopefully they were grhastas, maybe grhamedhis but we will put that aside for the minute but they were at least in household life.

What is the principle? That we should always think of Krishna and never forget Him. Everything we do should be done for Him. Ultimately we should learn to love Him. It doesn’t matter what our situation is. It is a noble path if it is connected to Krishna. If it is not connected to Krishna then ultimately it leads to defamation and rebirth.

Another example that comes to mind in terms of making everything focused on Krishna and social roles and understanding how to purify those and direct those to Krishna. Sometimes there is pressure on young men. In my era there was pressure on young men – the only noble path is the renunciate path. It is the noblest path but it is not the only noble path. Sometimes young men and women went away because they could not live renounced lives. They couldn’t be brahmacaris and sannyasis for life so they went away because they thought there was no choice. That was actually very wrong and unfortunate and very counterproductive because we di not recognise as they say, ‘different strokes for different folk.’ Sometimes we Vaisnavise it and we say – different slokas for different folks. Different people have different natures and one of the beauties of Prabhupada’s movement is Prabhupada knew how to engage everybody.

Somebody was mentioning to me the other day we hear about Prabhupada going into the Avalon ballroom which was so wonderful and so many hippies and young people who were on drugs and into illicit sex and so much nonsense but Prabhupada went there and gave them mercy. He taught them how to chant Hare Krishna. Not only that but Allan Ginsberg was the one that did the chanting. As someone was pointing out the other day Allen Ginsberg in that day was the most famous homosexual in the United States – an out and out advocate for homosexuality and every other kind of sinful activity. But somehow he liked to chant Hare Krishna and he loved Prabhupada and Prabhupada engaged him. And through him so many young people were attracted. Does that mean Prabhupada agreed with what he did? Prabhupada was very strong against that – those varieties of sinful activities. But Prabhupada saw here’s someone who wants to be engaged in Krishna’s service; okay we will engage him in a certain way. Doesn’t mean he made him a temple president. He didn’t initiate him but he figured out how to engage him.

Sometimes another example we hear men if you are not renounced then you can’t be a good devotee. That is not true. Now we have a more mature understanding of that. Similarly even sometimes today we hear this, “Girls should only cook and clean.” Anybody ever heard that? Girls should only cook and clean. It is true to the extent that if that girl only wants to cook and clean we should encourage her to cook and clean for Krishna. That is the only extent to which it is true. It that girl wants to be an artist for Krishna she should have full facility. If she wants to be a PHD for Krishna, a lawyer for Krishna, a doctor for Krishna, temple president n some parts of the world for Krishna then she should be encouraged to do so. Otherwise in the same way those young men that had the culture on their head that if you are not a brahmacari you are not really a devotee. The pressure pushed them away from Krishna. That was violence.

The same way with our young women, if we try to force anybody into something that is not their natural calling, if we don’t understand-just like a householder may have three children. It is like having three seeds. You put them in the ground. One comes up a banana tree, one comes up a papaya or one comes up a mango. You can’t try to make the mango into a papaya or the papaya into a walnut tree. The soul is there. They are going to have their propensities. A parent’s role is to help that child fully blossom into what they are meant to be for Krishna. The role of the temple president is to help that young brahmacari, brahmacarini, new grhasta couple, congregational member, old person – help them blossom into what they can be for Krishna. Not that as parents – we all hear these stories not just in our movement but outside too – parents have a desire, “My child should be an engineer.” So they try to force him into being an engineer. Maybe they want to be a lawyer. “No. Can’t be a lawyer. You have got to be an engineer.” He may want to be a writer. “No.You can’t be a writer. You have to be an engineer.” And this makes their lives miserable. Our society is not meant for making people’s lives miserable.

Our society is meant as Prabhupada said whatever talents, whatever abilities we have, whatever somebody has, use it for Krishna. If we don’t then it is like a perversion o the sati rite. You can’t force a woman to give up her life when her husband dies. You can force a young man who should be a sannyasi to get married. You can’t force a young man who should be a grhasta to be a brahmacari. It is violent. So we should be careful about that.

 Our principle as shown by Srila Prabhupada is that everyone should get full facility in spiritual life whether it is men or women, Russians, Indians or Americans. Just like there is one young devotee girl who was with Prabhupada onetime and Prabhupada said, “I want all of me devotees to go and open temples.” And she asked Prabhupada from the back of the room, “Prabhupada, even the girls?” Prabhupada thought about it for a minute and then he said, “Why not?” That was our founder acarya. Does that mean that every girl must go out and open up a temple? No. Does that mean every man has to go out and open up a temple? No. But if we have the ability to do something we should be encouraged to do so.

The ultimate principle Prabhupada is alluding to in the second half of the purport – a beautiful finishing sentence here. “In the ultimate issue, (Ultimate means there is nothing higher – this siddhanta) there is actually no material world, but when one forgets the service of the Lord and engages himself in the service of his senses, he is said to be living in the material world.” So in the ultimate sense if we see Krishna, if we remember Krishna, if we know that He is the enjoyer and the controller and the best friend as He states in Bhagavad-gita then there is no material world.

A few days ago when we were having this International Leadership Sanga it was such a wonderful experience for me personally especially the first few days that I was here, I had this experience because i get to travel a little bit so I know a few devotees in China, I know some devotees in Russia, I know some devotees from South Africa, South America, North America and Australia. I am very blessed in that way. I don’t know any from Antarctica yet. So I have to keep travelling. But at some point it was see some Vaisnavas here that you have never seen in some time. It was so joyful. Then you would share something with them and turn the corner and there are some other Vaisnavas that you haven’t seen and then you heart would get more inspired. Then you would turn the corner and you would see some North America Vaisnavas that I haven’t seen in a while. There is so and so mataji who is doing such nice preaching. I get a chance to hear about her service. There is so and so Maharaj. “You took sannyas last year didn’t you? That is fantastic. How is it going? Thanks for doing that for Prabhupada.” It was just like waves of excitement seeing all these wonderful devotees.

When we see the Lord then Prabhupada says we are not in the material world. How do we see the Lord is explained in the second part of this verse. We have to be free from lust. In the spiritual world, in Vaikuntha he specifically says there is men and women and they are extra ordinarily beautiful – both the men and the women are so extra ordinarily beautiful. In English, they are like gorgeous. And they are attracted to one another just like we are attracted to one another. You see devotees you are attracted. Wow Prahladananda Maharaj I want to hear what he has been doing. When you are going to take sannyasa Prabhu? We are attracted. We want to hear. So we are attracted but there is no lust.

So whatever our situation is the key is how do we become free from this lust that makes us want to force our conceptions on others or bark at our wives like a dog. That is a product of our wanting to be a controller but Krishna is the controller. Or inappropriately force a brahmacari to either renounce or not renounce without trying to understand what is best for him – or a wife thinking consciously or unconsciously belittling the husband who gets strength from her enthusiastic words but manipulating or exhibiting her power by chopping him down. He chops her down and she chops him down. That is not Vaisnava culture. Or wanting to have our children fulfil my desire instead of their natural abilities for Krishna. That is not Vaisnava culture. Or minimising grhastas are like this or brahmacaris are like this, sannyasis are like this or women are like that – it is all material consciousness.

They key is being explained here. If you are a brahmacari I offer my obeisances to all the brahmacaris. Brahmacari asrama is so important to us. If you go to temples were there are no brahmacaris a lot of the time there is no life. You bring a few brahmacaris in and everybody is like “Wow! How come they are so excited?” it is kind of waking up from a midday nap. Not sure where you are, or what time it is, should I wake up or go to sleep, where am I? Then the light comes on. Kirtan! Just two brahmacaris! Isn’t that so exciting? Similarly the swamis in our movement – where would we be without the sannyasis?

There are so many grhastas. The brahmacaris give so much life than the sannyasis and the grhasta give so much life than the sannyasis because they remind us what the goal is. Therefore grhastas duty is to protect the sannyasis, help the sannyasis, serve the sannyasis and offer obeisances to the sannyasis because they are blessed. Sannyassis are blessed. Every sannyasi in our movement is blessed and every brahmacari in our movement is blessed. All the varnaprasthas in our movement – we don’t have so many yet – whatever that clearly means. It is yet to be unfolded the role of a vanaprastha. But it is a blessed situation. Similarly the grhastas are blessed to be in Prabhupada’s movement.

So we are all here to get purified. We are all here to understand the Lord. We are all here to get inspired. We get this chance now. We are here in the dham. We are trying to understand Krishna better. We are trying to understand his representatives better, trying to become inspired in each other’s association. There are so many training opportunities.

The other day I was at the MI graduation ceremony. Then there was a MA graduation ceremony. Then there is the SMIS graduation ceremony or some kind of ceremony. Then there is the NIS. It is all about education and being trained to be good Vaisnavas. There are so many opportunities. Especially for those of us from other parts of the world or those of us that travel sometimes to come here to get inspired as Prabhupada wanted. He wanted us to come to Mayapur every year. He wanted us to associate. He specifically told the GBC to come every year and discuss unity in diversity. So that is the theme of this class – how we are strengthened. We have unity, we are together but diversity is also there.

I know all must illustrious Vaisnava colleagues that were born in Bengal, you have a particular capacity to relish rice rasa. But even if in Bengal there was only rice, the flavour is not fully there. We know rice is very important. So you need some diversity. You need some variety. Our movement is so enriched by so much variety. It is wonderful. You walk around here and I was asking myself, “Is that Russian they were speaking or was that Croatian?” There are so many languages spoken. It is so wonderful. There are so many devotees form so many different places and studying so many things and going back to so many parts of the world to give people Krishna consciousness. That is a wonderful, wonderful thing. We are still pioneers in this.

Sometimes as someone mentioned in one of the meetings the other day – sometimes you hear young devotees saying you older people are so fortunate. You were here in the early days. All the excitement is gone. Everything has been done. Well, “Hello! Duh! There are a few people out there that are not Krishna conscious yet.” The main temple of our whole movement is still some cement poles. There’s a little work done. There is so much to be done. For generations it is going to be exciting. Today is exciting. Tomorrow is going to be more exciting. The day after that is going to be more exciting. We just have to open our eyes and see how exciting it is. Part of that is to take our eyes from the bodily concept of life and to really understand the opportunity.

So Prabhupada told us to come here and get inspired, distribute Lord of God, take it back home by Lord Caitanyas’ order. So this is the noblest mission. It doesn’t matter what country we are from or what asrama we are in or how old we are, how much education we have. This is the noblest task. We have the noblest opportunity. It is the most wonderful opportunity and the fact is we are sitting here. For some of us our ankles may be hurting. There may be some stomach issues from being in India. There may be some more physical or emotional relationship issues that we are struggling with but compared to the world we are very comfortable. Prabhupada has given us everything -such wonderful people to associate with, beautiful temples.

Who in the whole world gets up every morning and sits and talks about how to give up lust anger, greed and envy? What do you people do in the morning? We get up and we spend a couple hours purifying ourselves through meditation on God. Then we do some joyful singing about God and we dance with our fellow devotees of God and then we spend about an hour talking about how the rest of the day and the rest of our lives we can try to be selfless. Then we eat purified food. It is free from violence and has been offered to God. Then we try to serve God in our occupations throughout the day and remind people about God. Then we come together again and start all over again. What do you do? I go to work trying to make my pay check. Then we say that is fine.

We will teach you how to do that and be happy while you do it. We have got such gifts. We have been given such gifts. So the world is suffering. They are really suffering. There are so many stories. Prabhupada seeing old people on a golf course and crying how they are suffering so much. Prabhupada underwent so much austerity. As time goes by we start to understand even more deeply Prabhupada underwent so much difficulty for each and every one of us because he wanted to relieve our suffering. Then he gave that wonderful instruction. If you understand and if you have some sense of gratitude to the spiritual master, if we have some little sense of gratitude then we should try to repay that debt. How to repay that debt? Did he say that we have to put ourselves through so much suffering or give so much money or do something we can’t do? No. He said that, “Just try to preach as i am doing. Try to help others.” Devotees would have and did give everything to Prabhupada but he didn’t take anything for himself. He said that, “You just help others the way I have helped you. That is all I ask.”

So what a great master we have. He is our master. He is our founder acarya. He is the pre-eminent siksa guru for all of us now and for the entire future of Iskcon society. We are very fortunate and he only asked us to become Krishna conscious and give Krishna consciousness.

There is one final story. One time there was a group of book distributors, young brahmacaris, enthusiastic young men – were in a special darsan with Prabhupada and they asked Prabhupada, “Prabhupada what please you most?” And not unlike many of us they were thinking he would say something about what they were doing. If they were pujaris he would have said the best thing is to worship the deity. If they were book distributors he would say the best thing is to do books or if they were managers, the best things is to manage. Prabhupada please say something to me. And Prabhupada did say something to them but to their soul not to their false ego. He said, “What pleases me most is when you love Krishna.” That is an order and a vision and a goal for each of us. We also know that the best way to awaken our love for Krishna is to help other people love Krishna.

Some years ago there were some senior devotees preaching in North America encouraging devotees to do sankirtan and they explained their realisation which was when we are starting to see Krishna then when we actually preach and we inspire others trying to bring them to Krishna consciousness it is really just like going from Krishna to Krishna. He is in this person’s heart, in that person’s heart and that is the vision that we are all aspiring for. That is the Vaikuntha vision and that is the Vaikuntha experience that is being explained to us. Everyone is extraordinarily beautiful, extraordinarily loveable and loving but there is no exploitation. That is the gift Prabhupada gave us in Iskcon now we just have to pray to fulfil that vision that Srila Prabhupada gave us. Thank you very much. Srila Prabhupada Ki! Jai! [Applause]

There is just time for one or two questions.

Vasudev Prabhu: Thank you very much Prabhu. So we know as you alluded to it that Srila Prabhupada encouraged women to preach. We also know that he encouraged them to be housewives and stay home – be mothers.

HG Anuttama Prabhu: And open temples.

Vasudev Prabhu: But we also know that he did not encourage them to work. And considering that in Iskcon so far Iskcon has not given to the world an example of having a lower divorce rate than in the world. So what is Iskcon’s statement and example? Is it to be home? And when a woman is a wife and a mother she really practically speaking doesn’t have much time for anything else? Or is it more important for women to be fulfilled in the way they choose to be – I want to do this. I want to do that? I would like to know what is Iskcon’s statement please.

HG Anuttama Prabhu: I don’t see Iskcon so I can’t ask him or her. I can try to reflect a little bit. I can speak as a humble Vaisnava. As I mentioned the key is we have our what Prabhupada termed as psycho-physiological nature. We need to purify that, sanctify that. Like frankly my psycho-physiological nature is quiet degraded from the background I come. But I have given up some of those gross things – four illicit activities etc. and try to direct the core of my nature for Prabhupada.

Personally I don’t do a lot of Deity worship. I do some. I used to do more but it is hard for me to do a lot of deity worship. I can’t stand with my feet in one place. I am too distant from sattva-guna to be able to do that service. If somebody told me I got to do deity worship. Like when I was a new devotee they put me in the kitchen for about the first week.

So i washed pots and listened to the ladies talking. That was my service. After about one week I went to the temple president and I said, “Prabhu if you want me here more than one more week you got to change my service because between the pots and the ladies talking I am not going to make it.”

So they put me on book distribution. I got to run around parking lots and travel in vans and take showers out of buckets, standing in snow. That way I got my passion cooled down a little bit. I had a particular nature and my spiritual authorities engaged me in that way.

So I think there are cultural things. My point is that the ultimate cultural thing is what helps us to become Krishna conscious. I helped put together with some very senior devotees – people much more experienced than I am – there is a grhasta seminar. One of the things I helped develop was roles of husband and wife. Basically there is an hour and a half in that section giving examples of traditional Vedic style marriages and not so traditional but that have been successful in Iskcon and sastric examples of more traditional and less traditional.

The conclusion of that whole session is if the wife is happy walking twenty five steps behind her husband and he is happy and they are chanting Hare Krishna – praise the Lord. That is wonderful. And if he is happy walking next to her and she is happy walking next to him in a respectful way and they are becoming Krishna conscious and they are enthused and they are inspiring each other and they treat each other in a proper way. That is great.

So there is going to be some cultural variety. Prabhupada went to the west and he told the devotees to go out and chant on the streets eight hours a day. He brought them back to India and they went out and chanted. He said, “How did it go?” They said, “They loved us. They threw money.” Prabhupada said, “Stop it immediately. Don’t go out again.” Our founder acarya stopped street sankirtan in India. Anybody know that? Why did he do that? Because they thought we were beggars. Prabhupada said, “You have to stop that.” So what was the principle? At that particular time and place it wasn’t appropriate because shortly after we now have wonderful chanting parties all over India and everywhere in the world. So we have to be a little bit thoughtful.

One reason we have divorce since you asked that specific question is because if the young people in that council talked to each other before you get married because if he is thinking he is going to walk twenty five steps ahead of her and she is thinking that she is going to be an equal partner they are in trouble. Or if he is thinking that, “We are going to have fourteen children and you are going to stay home.” And she is thinking, “I am going to sell Prabhupada’s books at least for the first three years of the marriage.” They are in trouble. Or similarly if he is thinking, “I am going to be a pujari and you are going to get a job and raise the money (which sometimes happens)” And she is thinking, “I want to be a pujari and you raise the money.” They are in trouble. There are different types of situations but the principle of it all is that we have to see what is going to help us be Krishna conscious. At the same time you mentioned children. The parents have got to figure it out. Generally women are more capable especially when the kids are much younger – playing that nurturing motherly role. They are more naturally inclined to it. Not always – but it has to be worked out with the ultimate goal of what is going to please Krishna.

I think I need to stop. Thank you very much. Srila Prabhupada Ki Jai! Sri Sri Radha Madhava Ki Jai! Sri Sri Panca-tatva Ki Jai. Lord Nrsimhadev Bhagavan Sri Prahald Ki Jai! Vaisnava Sanga Ki Jai! Gaura-premanande Hari-haribol.

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