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Acceptance and Progress – Introduction, Gita Nagari Retreat – May 2014

Song ‘emona durmati saḿsāra bhitore’ sung by Her Grace Sri Rupa devi dasi.

O’ Lord!  With such a wicked mind as this I have fallen into the material world, but You have sent one of Your devotees’ to rescue me.  He saw me so fallen and wretched, took pity and came to me saying “O humbled soul, please listen to this good tiding, for it will gladden your heart!  Sri Krsna Chaitanya has appeared in the land of Navadvipa in order to deliver you.  He has safely conducted many miserable souls such as you across the sea of worldly existence.  To fulfill the promise of the Vedas, the son of a Brahmana of golden complexion and bearing the name of Mahaprabhu has descended along with His brother, the Avadhuta.  Together They have overwhelmed all of Nadia with divine ecstasy.  Sri Chaitanya Gosai, who is Krsna Himself, the son of Nanda, has saved the world by freely distributing the gift of His own Holy Name.  Go to Him and also receive your deliverance.”  Hearing those words O’ Lord, Bhaktivinoda has come, weeping and weeping, to the soles of Your Lotus Feet and tells the story of his life.

Romapada Swami Talks  Romapada Swami speaks:

O’ Lord! With such a wicked mind as this I have fallen into the material world, but You have sent one of Your devotees’ to rescue me. He saw me so fallen and wretched, took pity and came to me saying “O humbled soul, please listen to this good tiding, for it will gladden your heart! Sri Krsna Chaitanya has appeared in the land of Navadvipa in order to deliver you. He has safely conducted many miserable souls such as you across the sea of worldly existence. To fulfill the promise of the Vedas, the son of a Brahmana of golden complexion and bearing the name of Mahaprabhu has descended along with His brother, the Avadhuta. Together They have overwhelmed all of Nadia with divine ecstasy. Sri Chaitanya Gosai, who is Krsna Himself, the son of Nanda, has saved the world by freely distributing the gift of His own Holy Name. Go to Him and also receive your deliverance.” Hearing those words O’ Lord, Bhaktivinoda has come, weeping and weeping, to the soles of Your Lotus Feet and tells the story of his life.

Welcome to Gita Nagari! I am pretty sure you all know the theme of this retreat, “Acceptance and Progress.” This evening’s class is to set the stage for a weekend of exploring together this very nice topic. The song that Sri Rupa sang was from Bhaktivinoda Thakur’s ‘Saranagati’. Saranagati is a series of songs describing the process of surrender to Krsna, sarana-gati (the goal, or gati, of surrendering to Krsna). There are six distinct angas or limbs or elements in the process of surrender to Krsna; the song that we sang is from the set of songs dealing with one of the six angas, namely full surrender, atma-nivedana – giving one’s complete self, body, mind, and words, everything unto Krsna, unto the Lotus Feet of Krsna, in His service. Amongst all of the Saranagati songs this is one of my favorites. It begins with admonition. “O wicked mind, you brought me to this dark place and I am suffering, and by good fortune only, the news of Chaitanya Mahaprabhu was brought by a great soul who told me that by chanting His Holy Name, one can become freed from the perils of material existence.”
Humility is the set of songs which proceeds the surrender section, because without humility who is going to surrender? Submission and surrender is precipitated by the acknowledgement of our own misfortune, the circumstances in which we find ourselves. This message fits in exactly with the first of our Retreat topics – which is acknowledgement or acceptance of our present situation, whatever that may be. A number of speakers will be addressing and expanding this topic – self-acceptance or self-honesty or introspecting and understanding where we are on our path towards Krsna, whatever that may be. There are likely some favorable elements within our circumstance of life, and there are some far more unfavorable elements; but whatever they may be, the combination is our circumstance. Rather than pretense, let us strive for self-honesty. As that effort becomes more complete, then comes surrender or submission unto the Lotus Feet of Krsna – which is the Progress portion of our Retreat’s theme. This emona durmati song presents both – the acceptance and the means of progress.

In this brief introductory session this evening, I will attempt to expand the same message just a bit.

One verse in the Bhagavad-Gita expresses a similar idea: Krsna speaks to Arjuna,

BG 18.59
yad ahaṅkāram āśritya
na yotsya iti manyase
mithyaiṣa vyavasāyas te
prakṛtis tvāṁ niyokṣyati

If you do not act according to My direction and do not fight, then you will be falsely directed. By your nature, you will have to be engaged in warfare.
This instruction is pertinent to Arjuna because his psychophysical nature was that he was a ksatriya. He had a given nature. His embodiment was such that wherever he was, he would be impelled by his nature, his sva-bhava. There are codes of dharma specific to one’s nature by which one should live one’s life; failure to carry out life’s duties acting according to our nature under the codes of dharma leads to bondage. You will be falsely directed. Similarly for ourselves, there are circumstances both internal and external in which find ourselves. Recognizing this is the major task of acceptance. There are circumstances in which we find ourselves today due to our past activity, and our past activity is based upon so many things, including past free will choices. But those past free will choices were also impelled by the modes of nature and our previous karma, and it carries on – both guna and karma perpetuating our material existence.
Practical application of spiritual teachings requires careful consideration of how to face life’s challenges and opportunities, external realities and a whole range of worldly existence while simultaneously maintaining the heart’s focus upon our true shelter. In a nutshell, this is our topic: – ‘Acceptance and Progress’.

It’s not a balance issue – balancing the spiritual with the material aspects of our life, as some persons think. It’s a consciousness issue – consciously being aware of our circumstances and, while addressing our circumstances, maintaining undivided attentiveness upon our genuine shelter. Above any other consideration, most essential is the ongoing cultivation of our genuine shelter.

Let us turn for a moment to Bhagavad-gita chapter 13.

BG 13.22
puruṣaḥ prakṛti-stho hi
bhuṅkte prakṛti-jān guṇān
kāraṇaṁ guṇa-saṅgo ’sya

This verse has two distinct parts –
The living entity in material nature thus follows the ways of life, enjoying [or trying to enjoy] the three modes of nature. That’s the purusa part. We are imitation purusas, trying to be the enjoyer of nature — bhuṅkte prakṛti (enjoying material nature).

And then…This is due to his association with that material nature. Thus he meets with good and evil among various species. We’re the architects of our own destiny. By our free will choices we associate with the material nature, and according to that association our circumstances come – the good and the bad.

In the purport, Srila Prabhupada writes,
As long as he is captivated by this false manifestation, he has to continue transmigrating from one body to another. Due to his desire to lord it over material nature, he is put into such undesirable circumstances. Under the influence of material desire…This is going on. And in all cases the living entity thinks himself to be the master of his circumstances, yet he is under the influence of material nature.

The very same material nature which we are under the influence of, we cannot control. It’s not under our control, it’s under the control of the Controller. We are in the circumstance in which we find ourselves due to interacting in previous ways with material nature. We’ve created our destiny, and here we are, with whatever good and bad circumstance life offers us, and we can’t change that. Although we can’t change the forces acting upon our life, but we can transcend them by higher consciousness. That’s the progress element.

Some of you may know who Viktor Frankl is. Just after World War II, in 1946 he wrote a very popular book entitled ‘Man’s Search for Meaning’. He was a prisoner in a Nazi concentration camp, a Jewish man, a psychiatrist by profession, thrown into a concentration camp. The circumstance was obviously beyond his control. He, like everybody else in that concentration camp, was struggling with the same profound question “What is the purpose of all this? Why am I in this circumstance? What is the meaning? How did it happen, and what to do?” When we search for answers to these questions, particularly while passing through challenging circumstances, the effort really gets energized. After he survived the concentration camp, he wrote his realizations. I’ll express his message in a summary form. Man doesn’t need release from stressful circumstances at all costs, expecting to thereby discover happiness. Rather, one needs a personal meaning to their life, an inner purpose awaiting for them to fulfill; the Christian saying is ‘a calling’, or what God wants for you – your service to God, or your service to the world during this lifetime. Viktor Frankl’s message is that if you invest very strongly in that – your voice, what’s your place within society, your service to God that is meant for you which you can fulfill — there is enormous strength. Krsna then reciprocates with one who takes shelter on Him for the strength to carry out his life’s mission. Here is one such statement from his book. ‘There is also purpose in life which is almost barren of both creation and enjoyment, and which admits of but one possibility of high moral behavior, namely, in man’s attitude to his existence, an existence restricted by external forces.’ There are external forces in our lives which we need to recognize and acknowledge. External forces extends beyond what is outside ourselves; our body and mind are influence by forces of material nature. Although the body and the mind and the objects of the senses and the universe around us are not within our control, there remains one thing which is always within our control: that’s our free will. How you choose to respond to life’s circumstances is something that no one can take from you. If you surrender it, that’s another thing, but it’s yours. It’s the soul’s actual property – not the false property, but the actual property of the living entity – our free will. Along with proper use of free will, combined with descending mercy, there is access to a loving relationship with the Supreme Lord. That is our Vaisnava conception.

Previously we had a retreat in Gita Nagari, some of you attended perhaps, where the theme was ‘Say YES TO KRISHNA’. Everybody got a ‘Say Yes to Krishna’ button so that we were reminded. There were different approaches to presenting that topic. Along the same line as the Viktor Frankl message, one session explored some of the abundant circumstances in life which we don’t like. Krishna-lila had a flip chart and asked the devotees in the audience to share things that they don’t like. It took a little while to get everybody going, but once the participation got rolling, page after page after page after page filled up rapidly. I think she stopped at ten or twelve pages. By that time everyone was laughing uncontrollably, considering the overflowing list of things they didn’t like. Then came the “Say Yes to Krishna” part. “Okay, we have a nice long list. Please consider that these all constitute saying No to Krishna. Essentially we are telling Krishna ‘We don’t like this’. How can we turn saying ‘No to Krishna’ to saying ‘Yes to Krishna’?” That was the challenge. What followed was role play – one sat here, another sat there. The first role play was to express vocally what they do like to another person. One person said ‘I don’t like this’, expressing a ‘saying No to Krishna’ message. Next was meeting the challenge: How to reverse the response from saying no to Krishna, instead to say ‘yes’ to Krishna?? What strength is given to the person who says yes to Krishna! It doesn’t mean you necessarily must like that which is unpleasant. Instead, you look behind something which is unpleasant, you see Krishna behind that something, and you say ‘yes’ to Krishna! Doing this brings about a major change in consciousness. Life teaches us that when adopt the ‘Say Yes to Krishna’ position, the external circumstances often change.

When we are unwilling to accept Krishna’s arrangements for us, especially regarding circumstances beyond our control, that unwillingness to say yes to Krishna is a by-product of our aversion to Krishna.

It’s just like envy of others. Envy indicates that there is envy of Krishna because whatever it is that we envy in others, the source of that something is Krishna, so we envy Krishna. Similarly, when we say ‘I don’t like this’, and it stops there, this is not a very transcendental position. In contrast, a superlative transcendentalist readily accepts everything as Krishna’s arrangement and acts appropriately – Prahlada Maharaj and Haridasa Thakur, for example, and so many great personalities.

So how do we cultivate the saying ‘yes’ to Krishna part – making progress in the matter of taking shelter in Krishna despite of the circumstances that we can’t change? Viktor Frankl described his life in the concentration camp. At a certain time each day the Nazi soldiers would deliberately provoke terror into the hearts of prisoners, each of whom lived in a tiny cell. The soldiers would jiggle their keys and bang on the door of each residential cell, like ‘You’re next!’, then they would go to the next cell, and then the next one, bringing terror into their hearts of everyone. Finally they opened the door of one amongst them. Viktor would hear people scream as they were being dragged off to the gas chamber – then dead silence! One day it was his turn. The soldiers came, opened the lock on his cell, the chain fell down and he was being escorted to the gas chamber. He described that his mind didn’t waiver because he felt “There is a greater purpose in my life awaiting, which is meant to be fulfilled.” He wasn’t praying ‘Have this guy fall dead so I can survive’ or something. What happened was, off in a distance there was some noise, some disturbance. The soldier left him just standing there, and went to take care of the disturbance whatever it was and when the disturbance was over it was too late and he put him back in his little cell and fastened the lock. Viktor understood that providence or God had protected him because there was a purpose for him to fulfill, which enabled him to maintain his poise and equanimity even in the midst of such an awful experience.

There are circumstances in our lives which are definitely not as severe as that one, but which are beyond our control. When circumstances are beyond our control, what are we to do? The circumstances are not necessarily going to change. The message of this weekend is to accept Krsna’s arrangements for what they are, namely Krsna’s arrangements! It doesn’t mean we’re to always say yes to an arrangement of misfortune, but we should always say yes to Krsna, and then take an appropriate action for the situation.

Supporting this understanding, again given by Bhaktivinoda Thakur taken from Saranagati, is found in the first line of his introductory song.

śrī-kṛṣṇa-chaitanya prabhu jīve doyā kori’
swa-pārṣada swīya dhāma saha avatari’

“Sri Krsna Chaitanya Prabhu descended from the eternal spiritual world along with His personal associates and divine abode incarnating in this temporary material world out of compassion for the fallen souls.”

atyanta durlabha prema koribāre dāna
śikhāya śaraṇāgati bhakatera prāna

“In order to freely distribute the gift of ecstatic love of God which is very difficult to obtain, He taught the path of saranagati, devotional surrender to the Supreme Lord. This śaraṇāgati is the very life of true devotees!” Bhaktivinoda Thakur’s language is bhakatera prāna – literally “śaraṇāgati is the air of life of a devotee” [laughter]. Surrender to Krsna! The circumstance may be good or bad; sad-asad-yoni-janmasu, by our involvement with the material energy trying to be enjoyers of it, we find ourselves in such and such circumstance. Whatever the circumstance may be and however you address yourself to the circumstance, take shelter of Krsna, it’s the very life air ~ literally, the life air ~ of the true devotee. This śaraṇāgati is the progress portion of our theme for this weekend. The intention behind elevated consciousness is not to make this realm of Maya a nice place. That would be a fool’s project. Rather, we live our lives according to the standards given by scripture, and within that chamber or influence of good activity, we take shelter in Krsna. Then, voila! Circumstances on earth and in our lives often change or shift. However, the intention or goal is not merely to strive for a change of circumstance. Improving our external circumstances is the explicit intention of kaitava-dharma, not bhakti. Our goal of life is to go back to Godhead.

And when Krsna sees that one is so devoted to Him, serving Him with love, He says in the Bhagavad-gita,

BG 10.10
teṣāṁ satata-yuktānāṁ
bhajatāṁ prīti-pūrvakam
dadāmi buddhi-yogaṁ taṁ
yena mām upayānti te

To those who are constantly devoted to serving Me with love, I give the understanding by which they can come to Me.

There are two parts expressed in this verse. There is our part and there is Krsna’s part. It’s a relationship. From our side, satata-yuktānāṁ, remain constantly engaged in service devoted to Krsna; specifically in Srila Visvanatha Cakravarti Thakur’s translation and commentary on this verse, he stressed being constantly engaged in the devotional service, but devotional service specifically aimed at gaining the association of Krsna, restoring our loving relationship with Krsna. The world of complication surrounds us. Let me make my life dedicated this time, out of so many lifetimes that have been used another way, to just restore my eternal loving relationship with Krsna ~ satata-yuktānāṁ, with feelings of love, striving for that at least. And when Krsna sees that, dadāmi buddhi-yogaṁ taṁ, Krsna then supplies not only the intelligence of how to go back home, back to Godhead, but even more immediately, to be in His association – always, in all circumstances, the good, and the bad, and the mixed, in the present moment, not waiting till some future after this life. Maybe I will go to the good place instead of the bad place, but presently I am with Krsna. And,

BG 10.11
teṣām evānukampārtham
aham ajsāna-jaṁ tamaḥ
nāśayāmy ātma-bhāva-stho
jsāna-dīpena bhāsvatā

To show them special mercy, I, dwelling in their hearts, destroy with the shining lamp of knowledge the darkness born of ignorance.

The duration of our involvement with material nature is too long to calculate, since time immemorial, and that’s a long time! We’ve been involved in matter practically interminably. So far back in time, and back in time, and back in time, we can’t even trace out the beginning! The tendency to be involved with matter is very strong! So strong is our inclination to remain involved in matter that even when Krsna gives His association, such lingering tendencies remain. Just as the blades of a fan continue to spin even after the fan is turned off, similarly our long- standing tendencies to be involved with matter are hard to totally stop. Krsna addresses this fact. He shows special mercy to those who truly want Him and nothing else. From within the heart of that living entity, He destroys with the shining lamp of knowledge those very tendencies – not only the current tendencies, but even the ancient tendencies which we are totally unware of, but are lurking and are subtly operative. Only then can we return to our original position. One becomes so qualified, like the previous verse describes, when Krsna directly intervenes.

Maybe some of you know already the Chinese farmer story. It goes like this: Once upon a time, there was a Chinese farmer. The Chinese farmer not only had a farm but he also had a horse. So the other village people approached the Chinese farmer and said ‘Oh! You are so fortunate; you have a horse, which it makes it so much easier for you to plough your field. We do not have a horse. You are so fortunate!’ And the Chinese farmer said, (he was a Taoist) ‘Good fortune, ill fortune, who can say?’ After some time the horse ran away and the village people went to the farmer and said ‘Oh! What misfortune! Your horse ran away, now you have to plough your fields like us.’ And the farmer said ‘Good fortune, ill fortune, who can say?’ After some time, the horse came back! And not only the horse came back, but he came back with a number of wild horses, so now the farmer had many horses. Then the villagers came to the farmer and said ‘Oh! Good fortune, now you have many horses and you can plough your fields very quickly’, and the Chinese farmer said ‘Good fortune, ill fortune, who can say?’ After some time the son of the farmer who was trying to tame the wild horses so that they can help plough the field, fell off the horse and broke his leg. And the people of the village came to the farmer and said ‘Oh! What misfortune, your son broke his leg.’ And the farmer said ‘Good fortune, ill fortune, who can say?’ And after some time, the Chinese government declared war, and there was a conscription act ordered by the government which said ‘All able bodied men of a certain age must join the armed forces and fight in the war’. So when the military people came to town, they found the farmer’s son had a broken leg, so he was spared from having to go off to war. Then the people of the village came to the farmer and said ‘Oh! How fortunate you are, your son didn’t have to go off to the war because he had a broken leg.’ And the farmer said ‘Good fortune, ill fortune, who can say?’ That’s the end of the story, by the way [laughter].

As far as I can see, at least from my college days, the philosophy professor that I had was also a Taoist. One popular expression at that time was the ‘Go with the flow!’ The idea was that nature is endlessly mutable, inexorable and forever moving. A Taoist is one who just goes with the flow. If it goes this way you go this way, if it goes that way you go that way- ‘que sera sera’, like that. In a somewhat similar way, due to being attached to Krsna a devotee is transcendental to a good circumstance or bad circumstance, to good fortune or ill fortune; while facing life’s circumstances, and while addressing them in whatever way is appropriate, a bhakta never forget their true shelter. Their first priority when expending energy in any endeavor goes to taking shelter of Krsna. This is where investment of consciousness is directed, first.

The practical application of these devotional teachings is easier said than done. Application is what ‘separates the men from the boys’, as the saying goes. There are those who spiritually progress and those that don’t. Our devotional teachings don’t need to change, rather our consciousness needs be fortified with faith, to match the teachings and to apply the teachings to circumstances within our modern day-to-day lives.

Let us review, briefly. There are circumstances external to us which are outside of our control. We all have bodies and minds which are not necessarily the ones we might have selected from the menu of possibilities, but we got one. Now we have to utilize our body and mind in such a way that we are acknowledging Krsna, we are saying yes to Krsna and we are taking shelter of Krsna to our best capacity. We are to address, in a Krsna conscious way, with guidance from Supersoul, and guidance from the Vaishnavas, and guidance from the elders in our Vaishnava sanga, how we can best carry on, on the path back to Krsna.

There is the path back to Krsna. There is the world in which we find ourselves; for better or worse, it is what it is. There are lots of people who are fully invested in striving to make maya’s kingdom better, or make more of whatever is available in maya’s kingdom, for better or worse. Alternatively, there is the path back to Krsna. So we need to address these options, select the devotional option with careful deliberation, and apply the process in our life in a practical way. While doing so, we should neither lament ill fortune, nor be in great exultation when some apparent good fortune comes our way. Any apparent good fortune may change shortly. Rather, we are advised to remain fixed on making wise and progressive steps on the path to Krsna.
This weekend we are going to be hearing many different presentations on these two themes. This session is only an introduction, merely hanging a backdrop, or framing the subject matter that we are going to be diving into while we are here together in Gita Nagari this weekend. Let us offer our obeisances to our Founder-acarya, seeking inspiration from him how to best access the wisdom be extended to us, while we take shelter of Krsna’s Holy Name. There is plan to have nice kirtan in the course of our time together.

Please take advantage of the whole program while you are here and participate in the discussion parts because our speakers have invested a lot of energy considering how to best make their presentation lively, and interesting, and educational, something you can take home. Take notes, because some of the presenters will be offering practical suggestions to you. Take notes, and see in the course of the weekend if there are a few messages which especially resonate. Then, practically apply these messages when you go back to wherever you came from with a view to strengthen your devotional life.

Because there are a number of people that are here for the first time and they don’t know all of you, please reach out to those people you don’t know, find out who they are and establish some nice friendships. Take the opportunity to serve one another, greet one another. Especially those who have been here many times, it’s a nice opportunity to see your dear friends and so forth, but please also consciously extend warmth and hospitality to people you don’t know so they feel welcomed and encouraged to be here in the association of devotees.

Any comments or questions?

Question by Devotee: Guru Maharaj, how do we know when we are acting according to our purpose and when we are acting outside of our true nature, especially in our neophyte stage?

Romapada Swami answers: Well, in your case, you have an easy solution. Go to Nityananda Pran and ask him. [laughter]. Isn’t it? It is not that every moment, to the next moment, to the next moment, we need guidance. Like “Do I tie my left shoe lace first or the right one first?” [laughter]. Micro guidance is not required. Rather, guidance should be directional. As far as possible it is helpful to be guided by someone who is proximate, minimally someone who knows us well. Another source of directional guidance comes when we have dear friends who also know us well because they have associated with, and therefore they do have an understanding of our nature and so forth. Both those persons who are closest and those who we take shelter of because of their seniority and their wisdom and their purity, these individuals can often see what we can’t see because of our attachments.

As devotional life progresses, things such as “what is our true nature” which were less clear in the earlier stages of our practice become clearer. It’s just how it works. An additional observation is, at least from my experience – not only in my life but in the lives of others – is that circumstances in devotional life may take a devotee in a certain direction, and then it’s almost as if Krsna winds those influences down, something else comes into play and, there is some indication of a change is coming. I’ve seen it in many devotees lives: their inner sense of purpose may shift. Be open for that, again in a consultative way. Remain patient for your calling to become clear, while also remaining open for some shift or directional change, evidenced by different indicators, especially under guidance.

Question by Devotee: Can you please explain how we may not accept Krsna’s arrangements for us but we should accept Him?

Romapada Swami answers: Supposing someone is abusive, like with Prahlada Maharaj or Haridasa Thakur or Ambarish Maharaj. They are superlative vaisnavas on the topmost platform. They didn’t make any arrangement to alter their circumstances, instead Krsna made all the arrangements. In our case, we shouldn’t remain passive in a circumstance which crosses the line of what’s appropriate. We don’t have to continually subject ourselves to inappropriate and abusive circumstances. That is not the message I intended to convey. My point was simple: by saying Yes to Krsna, you will be given the intelligence how to best serve Krsna in that circumstance. One of the best ways to serve Krsna in an abusive circumstance may be remove yourself from that circumstance. Saying yes to Krsna doesn’t mean necessarily staying in something that’s got awful, or unsuitable, inappropriate, or abusive – that’s what I meant. Does that help?

Question by Devotee: How do we know what is our nature, or our personal higher purpose in this lifetime?

Romapada Swami answers: There are two different natures – there is our spiritual nature and there is our psychophysical nature, the conditioned one. So, you’re not asking about your svarupa, you’re asking about your conditioned nature, correct?

Question by Devotee: Correct. Practically, what to do with the rest of my life? How will I be able to understand what is the calling of my life?

Romapada Swami answers: There are several practical obvious things to consider. One of them is you’ve made certain decisions in this life which have determined your career, your wife, your son; other circumstances like the house you live in and the car you drive, those kind of things are far more variable. But there are some substantial commitments that you have made. Given those commitments, properly executing those responsibilities, particularly the commitments to your two dependents – your wife and your son – as foremost callings or duties. To fulfill these commitments properly requires lot of strength, a lot of purity in Krsna consciousness. These duties provide a general framework within which your longer-term calling must be framed.

Now please contemplate carefully over time: What are the gifts that Krsna has given you? What is it that you’re particularly gifted at doing, or from which you derive energy, or spiritual strength? For example, consider Prahlada here – he likes drawing! He can make drawings until the cows come home [laughter]. For some other people, its kirtan. For some other devotees its different things. So consider: What is the gift and the ability that Krsna has given you which you can do well, which gives you lots of strength and enthusiasm? When you do that particular thing, time just flies by!

Then request others who know you well – ‘What is it that you see in me that’s me? A gift or a quality or ability or something?” Then invite discussion about how to best grow that? Your question reminds me of something like a horticulturist who looks at a bunch of seeds – now you and I are not horticulturists, we can’t tell this seed from that seed, they are just seeds. But experts know this one is this kind and that one is that kind, they may even be able to tell what color of the flower or some other feature of a plant, just by examining the seed. Some persons have that gift from Krsna, and interacting with such persons who has such gift can help you understand your nature, your calling or purpose. Just be observant.
We are going to be hearing more about this. I am aware of two other speakers who are going to address this topic further, so stay tuned!

About the author

Romapada Swami

Romapada Swami‘s first encounter with Krishna consciousness came in Buffalo, in the shape of a lecture at the State University of New York in 1969. The lecturer was His Divine Grace A.C. Bhaktivedanta Swami Prabhupada. The following year, Romapada Swami joined the movement in Boston and was initiated in 1971. Despite being admitted as a pre-med student, he decided to follow his spiritual path 100% and never looked back. He took sannyasa in 1983 and became an initiating spiritual master in 1985.

Under Romapada Swami’s guidance, congregational groups of devotees of Krishna have grown in many places in the US and abroad, including Chicago, Washington DC, St. Louis, Seattle, Detroit, New York, New Jersey, Houston, Orlando, Tennessee, Boston, Hyderabad and Guyana.

More information on Romapada Swami is available on


  • Very nice lecture. I am going to bookmark this so I can keep going back to it whenever I feel like I am stuck or trapped by my circumstances. This is a very nice reminder to accept my current circumstances as a small token of the suffering I brought on to myself by my past sinful activities, while internally focusing on the Supreme Goal. This way, with Krishna’s and Krishna’s devotees’ mercy, I may make some progress in humility and ultimately surrendering completely to Krishna.

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