Dear devotees and friends of Krsna,
Please accept our best greetings, all glories to Srila Prabhupada!
In this newsletter we would like to share some news about our Sunday feast, a beautiful article about the culture of respect and a glorification of Jay Rama, our new temple manager.
After the wave of Corona Virus touching our community, our weekly Sunday feast program was interrupted for almost two months. This was an opportunity for the Sunday feast team to refresh and get some new impetus. Since 18th July, it has started again and you are most welcome to visit us this coming Sunday (provided the Covid situation remains under control).
For the lectures of the Sunday feast, we have decided to follow the monthly spiritual theme and this month has been about the culture of respect. Gaurahari dasa, Damodara Priya, Bhakti Prabhava Swami and Jay Rama Prabhu have and will speak on this topic. We hope that such concentrated focus on important topics will be relevant to our audience. To further underline this point we have had the privilege to read an article written by Hari Vyasadeva Prabhu.
Why does respect carry such an immense amount of importance in the Vaishnava-tradition? In this article I am going to discuss different answers to this question and try to clarify how respect directly connects us with Lord Krishna Himself.
One way to look at respect is by seeing it as part of etiquette. The two are inseparable, as one is a part of the other. And since Vaishnavas are supposed to be highly cultured people, who can represent the Vedic tradition in an appropriate way, etiquette plays a big role because it guides a devotee in his behaviour towards others. Imagine someone coming to the temple for their first time and coming into a conversation with a devotee who is friendly, cultured and eloquent. It is nearly guaranteed that this person is going to get a positive impression and feel enlightened in the exchange with the devotee. In my understanding, this is what Srila Prabhupada was thinking when he spoke about a “swan-like man”. In a room conversation in 1972, he states that the behaviour of Krishna conscious people should be like that of swans. To understand this, one should take a closer look at the list of Vaishnava qualities, where one can see what Prabhupada meant by “swan-like” behaviour: cleanliness, friendliness, mildness, respectfulness, etc. Gaining these qualities bring many advantages but there are two major ones regarding our topic: with these qualities our relationships with other Vaishnavas become even more pleasant and as well as the interaction with other individuals in general.
Furthermore it is worth remarking that Vaishnava etiquette is based on respect towards others and serves as a formula to help individuals to avoid aparadhas (offences). One can say that every devotee’s goal is to receive as many blessings as possible. An aparadha works against that aim, so aparadha is a “blessing-blocker”, which slows down a devotee’s progress, entailing (possibly unnecessary) obstacles. Committing offenses is counter-productive, as success in spiritual life does not only depend on our efforts but on the flow of blessings, which is activated by a devotee’s expertise in offering respect to other Vaishnavas. In this way one can be sure of making steady progress on one’s sacred path towards the Lord. However, one should mention that we are not supposed to become paranoiac about offenses either, since it can result in fear and anxiety, which is obstacles in themselves, stealing our focus and directing our attention towards rules and regulations instead of our real goal, Krishna.
On the other hand, spiritual progress and the growth of a sense of respect are two parallel lines: by making progress, respect towards all living entities becomes more natural. This is connected to the equal vision one receives through spiritual progress, realizing that in every living being’s heart there is the Lord in His form as Paramatma. So, offering respect to all entities is nothing else than offering one’s respect to Bhagavan, since we all are part and parcel of the Lord.
So, if we are sometimes faced with struggles in our relationships with others, we should try to keep in mind that Krishna is also present in their hearts. Remembering this fact will surely make it easier to appreciate others.
As it is stated in the Srimad Bhagavatam: “The Lord is very satisfied with His devotee when the devotee greets other people with tolerance, mercy, friendship and equality.” (SB 4.11.13).
With this verse the Bhagavatam gives us a fundamental advice as to how to treat human beings in a way that Krishna Himself is pleased with our actions.
Giving respect and not demanding any for ourselves is something like the “Holy Grail” for spiritualists. It is our way to satisfy devotees, get their blessings and in doing so, get Krishna’s blessings. So, as one can see, there is a great potency in offering respect and using it as a tool for making further steps towards God with the help of other Vaishnavas holding our hand tighter and tighter (the more respect we give in a humble state,) and granting us stability while walking this path, like a mother holding her child during the period the child is learning to walk.
Jay Rama came to Goloka Dhama in middle of March 2021. He is seeking a Ph.D. advisor in the field of economics for the completion of his doctoral degree in the field of Economics of Religious Philosophy. Moreover, Jay Rama has a long history of experience in Krsna consciousness and has wonderful devotional qualities. He know the scriptures and their conclusion very well and he is giving wonderful lectures in Goloka Dhama. He also has managerial qualities and is therefore stepping into the important service of temple manager. Finally we can appreciate his very soft heart and kindness toward other devotees. We wish Jay Rama a lot of spiritual strength for his dedicated service to Sri Sri Radha Madana Mohan and their devotees.
We would like to end this newsletter by inviting you to celebrate Janmastami online festival with us. Yes, Because of the Corona regulations we are not yet allowed to offer a normal festival and therefore most of the lectures and kirtans will be broadcasted online on Facebook Goloka Dhama. The schedule is now available on our web page at:
Hoping to give you pleasure with these inspirations and news, we would like to express our gratitude for your continual support and send you our best wishes.
In the name of Goloka Dhama community,
Your servant, Gaurahari dasa