Seminar on Vaishnava Etiquette – Transcript – 2

Hare Krishna,
So, how was the class yesterday? Did you benefit from it? It was beneficial? Did you learn something? I’m sure you already knew that. What I spoke yesterday, you all knew that, didn’t you? So, no response means yes. So, today we will go more deep into this Vaisnava etiquette. Yesterday we dealt mostly with what a Vaisnava should do. Like today I see more of you are wearing tilaka. Like this kind of reminder is needed from time to time. Like, as a Vaisnava should he be ashamed to wear tilak? Or should he feel proud to wear tilaka? Are you proud of being a Vaisnava, why? Because, to be a Vaisnava means to be in the highest platform of existence. There is nothing beyond Vaisnava. That is the highest. To become devotee of Visnu means to become situated in one’s spiritual identity. All other designations are material but to be Vaisnava means to be spiritual. Are you material or spiritual? Once again. This side is more responsive and that side is silent. That is why I put my ears on this side.

So, you all want to be spiritual? Do you want to be in your bodily platform? Do you want to be in your spiritual identity? How do you become situated in your spiritual identity? How do you become situated in your spiritual identity? Spiritual identity means in your constitutional position, what you actually are. Who are you? You are a spirit soul. Very good. So, as a spirit soul what should you do? Serve Krishna. So Vaisnava means a servant of Krishna. You’re always a servant. Either you are a servant of maya or you are a servant of Krishna. When you are serving maya, then you think you are the lord and master. When you think that you are the lord and master, you are actually serving maya. You want to become the lord and master, but you are the servant of your boss. If you are working as an employee, then who are you? You are working in an office. Although I know you have a very big position, but what is your situation there? You are a servant. Okay, you may be running your business, what are you? You may think that you are independent; you are running your own business. But you are a servant of your clients. You are serving your clients. You flatter your clients so much so that he will buy things from you. You think that you are the lord and master of your house, but who are you? A servant of your wife. And if you are a woman, then who are you? You are the servant of your husband. If you are the father, you are the servant of your children. If you are the children, then you are the servant of your father. So, in this way everyone under all circumstances is a servant. But to think that you are the master is called maya. Or maya means illusion. To become independent, to become the lord and master is an illusion. But whose servant are you actually? Actually we all are Krishna‘s servant. And when you become the servant of Krishna, then you become a Vaisnava . Then you identify yourself as a servant.

You wear kanti-mala, what does it mean? It means that you have surrendered to Krishna. You are wearing tilaka, what does it mean? It means that you are a servant of Krishna. You are wearing a sika, what does it mean? Do all of you have sika? Nowadays I have noticed that some devotees don’t keep a sika. They shave their head but don’t keep sika. You know that is the worst thing. To have a shaved head and not a sika means a mayavadi. A devotee means sika. Sika means I have one master. This one sika means one master.  And who is that master? That master is Krishna. So are you proud to be the servant of Krishna. There is some response, thank you.

So, a Vaisnava means he is surrendered to Krishna.  So, Vaisnava is surrendered to Krishna. What is the meaning? It means he is fully dependent upon Krishna. Are you independent or dependent? Yes, so if you are dependent that means who are you depending on? Are you depending on your own ability? Are you depending on anything external, or are you depending upon the Supreme Personality of Godhead? That is why the devotees are so confident.

Once, Srila Prabhupada was walking on the beach of Juhu, Bombay. How many of you went to Juhu beach? Okay, very good. And did you see many dogs there? There are many dogs. And also you see some dogs their master is carrying, taking their dog with them. There are street dogs that are just there. Street dogs, they live on the beach and they howl at you, they bark at you. There are many such stray dogs and also there are, you also see people, the master is walking with a dog. And sometimes they also take the leash of the dogs and let the dogs move. Prabhupada pointed out – what is the difference between those dogs and these dogs? At one side one kind of dogs are dirty, untamed, starved, be ill mannered. And on the other hand the dogs that have a master, how do they look like? They look like well groomed, fat, with nice food and confident. They are just moving with full confidence. So Prabhupada asked the devotees. What is the difference between those dogs and these dogs? And Prabhupada pointed out when the devotees couldn’t answer. Prabhupada said that -those dogs don’t have masters and these dogs have a master, that is the difference”. To be in Maya means no master. You are on your own. You have to struggle for your existence. Whereas to be a devotee means you have a master. And who is that master? That master is the Supreme Personality of Godhead. The master is the controller of the entire universe. That master is the all powerful Supreme Lord. So, when you have a master like that, do you have to worry about anything? So, that is the position of a devotee. To be a Vaisnava means to become a servant of Krishna. To become a servant of Krishna means to have the richest person, the most powerful person, the most influential person as your Lord and Master. That is why, to be a Vaisnava means to be in the most elevated situation.

Do we have a picture of Prabhupada that can be projected on the screen? Don’t worry about that. Project Prabhupada’s picture on the screen. Therefore, although Vaisnava’s are very humble, but at least they have pride about one thing. About one thing they are proud. They are proud to be the servant of Krishna. As a servant they are very humble, but at the same time they are very confident and they have full understanding that they are being taken care of by the Supreme Personality of Godhead. And because a devotee is serving Krishna, he doesn’t consider himself to be the doer. That is how he actually becomes so free from all anxiety. If I think that I’m the doer, if things don’t happen properly then how do I feel? I get into anxiety and I feel frustrated. But if I know that I’ m not the doer, I‘m simply serving my master and if my master is pleased he will accept it. If my master is not pleased, he will not accept it. Therefore, what is this position of a devotee? In Bhagavad-Gita Krishna is pointing out:  karmany evadhikaras te ma phalesu kadacana. Karmany evadhikaras te, you have adhikare, a right to perform. But – ma phalesu kadacana – but you do not have any rights over the fruits or results of your action. You are doing it for Krishna, so let Krishna decide whether He wants it or not. If He likes it, He will accept the result and if He doesn’t, then He won’t. But you have done it for your Master. And what is the opposite situation, if that doesn’t happen? What is the opposite situation? Materially, what is happening? Although everyone is thinking that he is the doer. But what is actually happening, in the material platform? Prakrteh kriyamanani gunaih karmani sarvasah ahankara vimudhatma kartaham iti manyate. Prakrteh in the material nature everything is happening by the arrangement of guna and karma. Everything is happening by guna and karma. But being bewildered by his false ego, one thinks that he is the doer ahankara vimudhatma kartaham iti manyate.  He thinks that he is the doer, but in reality we are not the doers. We act. In the material platform we are acting by guna and karma and in the spiritual platform we are acting as a servant of Krishna for Krishna’s pleasure. So, the main point is to be a Vaisnava means to be a servant of Krishna. You want to be a servant of Krishna? How many of you have already become a servant of Krishna? Please raise your hand. Very good and how many of you want to become a servant of Krishna? How many of you either became a servant of Krishna or want to become a servant of Krishna? Please. So, main point is please become very good devotees. Just consider this is the most wonderful opportunity that one can ever get.

Now, Vaisnavas are serving Krishna, so they live together. Mayavadis run away from everything and go alone in the forest. The mayavadis, yogis, jnanis, they all do that. But Vaisnavas, do they run to the forest? No, they stay in Mauritius. They don’t run away to a solitary place; they are there. Like, we are here. We live together in a community. Now, when we live together in a community, there is a consideration of relationship. So, when you are together, don’t we develop relationships or don’t we need to develop relationships? Yes? … 

So, now what is relationship? Relationship means loving exchange. If there is no love, can there be a relationship? Can there be any relationship without love? No. Relationship means based on love. Now this ‘loving relationship’ generally has got three types, three categories. One type of relationship is from senior to junior, from superior to the junior. Like bigger to smaller. Like, what is the natural feeling of the senior towards the junior: affection. Affection, compassion, like father to son, mother to the son or daughter. How do they feel? They have their affection.  Affection means protection. Affection means care. Affection means concern for their welfare. Affection means compassion. So, affection flows from senior to junior.

Now the other relationship is: junior to senior. What is the feeling of the junior to the senior? Respect, respect! Juniors must have respect for seniors. This is how the reciprocation takes place. Senior showers their affection to the junior and respect automatically rises from the junior to the senior.  And then the third consideration is ‘among equal’. Among equal, what do you have? Among equal, you have friendship. So, these are the three basic considerations of relationship. Affection from senior to junior, respect from junior to senior and friendship among the equal. A junior, when he comes across a senior devotee or senior person, then what should he do? How should he express his respect? By offering obeisances. And what do the seniors do? Seniors, either they can place their hand on the head of the junior or if the senior wants, he can even embrace the junior. Or he can in his mind, he can shower his affection to that person. And among equals? The arms around the shoulder, friendship. Now if this kind of relationship develops amongst all the devotees, how do you think the community will be like? Will it be very nice? Yes. So create, develop these relationships, because ultimately the community of Vaisnava’s is how the devotees are relating to each other.

Now, what are the things that we should try to avoid? We should try to avoid backbiting, faultfinding, unnecessary criticism. These are the things that we should avoid. One thing that we should try to do or try to practice, is that we should not talk bad about others if the person is not present there. If I have to speak bad about or find faults about somebody or criticize somebody, let’s do it in front of him, not behind him, not behind his back. Then what happens if somebody made a mistake. Yes, correct him, rectify him as his friend, as his well wisher. But then again who should do that? The senior should correct the junior. Not that a junior should correct the senior. That is called transgression of Vaisnava etiquette. It is very, very important that we create the right atmosphere.

I came to Mauritius after a long time. Last time I came here in January and many devotees told me that things are not the same anymore. Like, there used to be so many devotees. There was so much loving exchange. But now devotees have become aloof and I was told that the devotees are conflicting with each other. I feel very bad. It is such a beautiful place with some many nice devotees. Such a nice potential for spreading Krishna consciousness. But what is happening? All that wonderful possibilities will get lost if the devotees start to conflict with each other. So, please create the very beautiful atmosphere. After all, what do we have to gain? Do we need anything material? Like, think about it seriously. Just don’t respond, but think about it very seriously. Not now only. Make it an object; make it a subject of your constant thought.

Whether you have anything to gain in this material nature? Is there a need to get a lot of money? Is there any need to get a big position? Is there a need to become very famous? Because no matter how much money I have, no matter how big a position I have, no matter how famous I become, at the time of death I have to leave everything behind. Not only at the time of death. Like, consider when you are in a situation when you are away from all these devotees. You will think, oh when I had this opportunity to be together with them and render service and enjoy the opportunities of being Krishna conscious. Where have those devotees gone? We will miss them. Don’t we miss the time that we had ten years back? And I tell you, a few years from now, you will miss this evening. You will think how wonderful it was. That is how it always happens. That is how we always feel. When the opportunity is gone then they lament. Oh, such a wonderful opportunity came, but I squandered it. Therefore, please try to appreciate every single moment of your life. Try to take advantage of every single opportunity to become a better devotee. That is why we are here for.

Our life has only one purpose. That is, to become a good devotee. Besides that there is no need for anything else. Everything else is completely useless. You think money is important. At the time of death all the money, what will you do? It won’t help you a single bit. At that time the only thing that will matter, the only thing that will count, is your Krishna consciousness. So, please become a good devotee. A good devotee means, again, relationship with other devotees. A good devotee means his presence is desired by everybody. That is the sign of a good devotee. And non-devotee means no one wants to be with him. A devotee, everybody wants to be with. Even his enemies want to be with him – ajata satruh He doesn’t have any enemy. That is a devotee.

Sometimes I consider that, nowadays I come to the programs and I see that our youth are missing. Our youth are not here. The boys and girls, who were born in our movement, grew up in our movement, today they are not with us. They are not interested in Krishna consciousness. We have to seriously consider why? Because we fail, to make them understand the importance of Krishna consciousness. We fail to make them understand the importance of Krishna consciousness, because we did not consider the importance of Krishna consciousness ourselves. We are not serious about our Krishna consciousness. That is why they haven’t accepted our Krishna consciousness. If our children are gone, then what is the future of this movement? If our own children don’t accept Krishna consciousness, how can we expect that other’s children, those who are not Krishna consciousness, will accept Krishna consciousness. These are the things I am speaking about, because these are the things I want you to seriously consider. Seriously consider, please why! Because the future of this movement lies in our own action. Others are not going to come and push this movement forward. It is we who will have to push this movement forward. And if we can’t do that, then this movement does not have any future. And that is the real consideration of Vaisnava etiquette. Ultimately our relationship. How we are relating to others. If people would see that we are fighting among ourselves, devotees are fighting among themselves, how will they ever have any respect for this movement? Why they will think that this movement is anything better than the outside world. There they are doing the same thing. If the devotees are doing what they are doing then why they will have any respect for this movement? Therefore, for heaven’s sake stop fighting among yourselves! Why you are fighting? Fighting for petty little material gains and those material gains are not going to go with you. What will go with you is your love for Krishna. Is your seriousness about the process of Krishna consciousness? That is about the only thing that will go with you. Everything else is just completely insignificant or irrelevant.

Now we considered the seniority and juniority. Like, the consideration of seniority, there are five different considerations for seniority. How do you recognise who is senior? There are five considerations for that. One is seniority by initiation. By initiation seniority is judged. Those who have been initiated before, they are senior to those who are initiated after. Those who are initiated by Prabhupada, they are senior to those who are initiated by Prabhupada’s disciples. That is one consideration of seniority. Seniority is judged also according to age. One who is older in age is senior than somebody who is junior. Seniority according to varna-ashram. Brahmanas  are senior to ksatriyas. Brahmanas and ksatriyas are senior to vaisyas. And brahmanas, ksatriyas and vaisyas are all three senior to sudras. In the ashrams also brahmacharis, grhasta, vanaprasta, sanyasa. So, these are the considerations for seniority. Varna-ashram is a consideration.

Then the position. Those who have the position. Say for example, a temple president may be young but because he is temple president, we have to respect him, considering him to be senior. Because his position is demanding that respect.  And the final consideration of seniority is one’s spiritual advancement. That is the most important consideration, spiritual advancement. Like Sukadeva Gosvami, he was only sixteen years old, and when he arrived, there were so many exalted personalities. Even his own father Vasudeva was there. But everyone stood up to show him respect. Why? Because they all saw that he is so advanced spiritually. His spiritual advancement was the consideration. Because of his spiritual advancement he was given the position as the most advanced personality at that assembly. And we have to remember one thing that in the Vaisnava society the Vaisnavas are eager to offer respect, unlike the material society. In material society we try to find reasons not to show respect. But in a Vaisnava society we simply want to offer respect. Amanina mana dena.

And a special consideration of etiquette in ISKCON. ISKCON is like a family, a very special family. And we all are the members of this family. And this family or this institution has a very special mission. What is the mission of ISKCON? The mission of ISKCON is to spread Krishna consciousness all over the world in every town and village. Chaitanya Mahaprabhu predicted that Krishna consciousness movement must spread in every town and village. Therefore we must consider our role in this institution. How to make it happen? It will happen through ISKCON.  And I’m a part of ISKCON, so our consideration should be: how can I make it happen? How can I make ISKCON spread all over the world? Making devotees all over the world. And therefore Srila Prabhupada very emphatically told that we must keep this movement together. We must keep this movement together. And how do we keep this movement together? Srila Prabhupada pointed out: through our spirit of unity. Srila Prabhupada pointed out that Gaudya-Matha, his spiritual master’s institution, fell apart because the devotees started to fight after the disappearance of Srila Bhaktisiddhanta Sarasvati Thakur. And Srila Prabhupada emphatically told us not to make the same mistake.

And therefore Srila Prabhupada created a very wonderful arrangement, a wonderful management structure, and a collective management through the GBC. On top of ISKCON, those who are guiding ISKCON society, it is a group of devotees, a body of devotees collectively. They are managing the society. In order to work together in a body, collectively we must develop a spirit of co-operation. Therefore Srila Prabhupada, very emphatically told that: ”your love for me will be shown by how you co-operate with each other”. Srila Prabhupada wanted us to co-operate with each other. That is how to show our love for Srila Prabhupada. Those days devotees used to very eloquently tell Srila Prabhupada: “oh Prabhupada, I love you, I love you, I love you”. But Srila Prabhupada’s response was: if you love me, then show that love through your spirit of co-operation. Show your love through your co-operation. For the sake of our love for Srila Prabhupada we should co-operate. So the spirit of co-operation is very important. So please take up this mission very seriously. I know many of you are householders. As householders you don’t really have so much time and energy. But whatever time and energy you have, please use it in spreading Krishna consciousness.

Mahaprabhu said: yare dekha tare kaha Krsna upadesa. You may be working but you can preach. Speak to people about Krishna. Can you imagine, if each of you makes one devotee in a year, then in every year we will be doubling it. It is as simple as that. Like, if you are convinced about Krishna consciousness and if you take the challenge, then can’t you make a single, one devotee at least in a year? Will it be very difficult? It is simple. Feed them Krishna prasad. I tell you by the end of the year he will become a devotee. We have the perfect process. Give them Krishna‘s prasad. Give them Prabhupada’s books. Take care of them at the time of distress. When they are in difficulty, go to them and show your concern. This is the meaning of preaching. Preaching does not mean big, big lectures. Preaching means: taking personal care. When people see you take care of them, they will have full confidence in you. So please try to preach. You may be in household life, it does not matter, that is also one ashram. Don’t give up preaching. Make it a point to make at least one devotee a year. How many of you think that it is possible to make one devotee in a year’s time? Thank you very much. So, please get cracking from tomorrow. And next year I will come and ask you. At least you can make it a point, cultivate people. And this is how our movement is going to grow. When you preach, then automatically this movement will grow. There is much to do. So, where is the time to waste?

Like, I’m so happy to be here today. And I’m seeing, there are so many of you whom I didn’t know before. That means our movement is growing. So many of you have come forward. I am seeing you for the first time and I am happy to see you. At the same time I also want to see those devotees, those who were here before. But I am seeing so many of those devotees are not there. Those were very close to me. Each time I used to come, they used to hang out with me. Today they are not there. That means what? For some reason, probably they are not interested in Krishna consciousness anymore. That should never happen. The consideration is:  utsahan niscayad dhairyat, utsahan. Our enthusiasm should never dampen. Our enthusiasm should be there. We should always be enthusiastic. Because we should consider Krishna is watching. To be Krishna conscious means: to be aware that Krishna is watching me. Krishna consciousness does not mean that I have to meditate on Krishna. Krishna consciousness actually is a simply way. To approach Krishna consciousness is: to become aware that Krishna is watching me. That, therefore let us become serious. Krishna is watching me. Everything that I’m doing Krishna is watching. And in this way, when we become Krishna conscious, we can never go wrong. If you know that somebody is watching you, can you do something wrong? Right! And especially when you know that Krishna is watching you, how can you ever do anything wrong? And become very good devotees. Become a wonderful asset for Srila Prabhupada in his ISKCON. And have full confidence that this movement is going to spread all over the world. This movement is going to take over and spread Krishna consciousness in every town and village. This is what this movement is designed for. Mahaprabhu predicted, how can it go wrong? Can God’s word go in vain? Never! Mahaprabhu said in every town and village this movement will spread. So, we can rest assured that it will spread in every town and village.

And I end this session with a very simple understanding that I have about Prabhupada’s instructions. To me, three instructions of Prabhupada are most important. One I already mentioned: your love for me will be shown how you co-operate with each other. Two: no matter whatever happens, don’t leave ISKCON. No matter whatever happens, don’t ever leave ISKCON. Because if we leave ISKCON, what is the hope for our spiritual life. To think that there can be spiritual life outside ISKCON, Prabhupada said, is maya. To think that there can be spiritual life outside ISKCON is maya, at least for ISKCON devotees. There may be other institutions. They are doing things, that is there. But after you come to ISKCON, and become a part of ISKCON and then we leave ISKCON, is very, very unfortunate. And the GBC is the ultimate managing authority of ISKCON. This concept of collective management that Srila Prabhupada created is the secret of success.
Hare Krishna. Thank you all very much. All glories to Srila Prabhupada.
Does anybody have any question?
Yes, it will be nice to write it down on a piece of paper.

Question inaudible.
Answer by HH Bhakti Charu Swami: The best way is to go to him and tell him, “I’m sorry, prabhu”. And Vaisnava’s are soft hearted, they will live with it. No prabhu, there was no offense. Thank you, nice question.

Question: What are the characteristics of a good devotee?
Answer by HH Bhakti Charu Swami:  A good devotee as I mentioned yesterday. The most wonderful symptom of a good devotee is, he is more humble than a blade of grass, tolerant as a tree, he offers respect to everybody else and doesn’t desire for any respect from anyone. And he is simply concerned about serving Krishna and spreading Krishna consciousness.

Question: Do you think it is time to have gurukula teacher teach our children Vaisnavism to sustain the growth?
Answer by HH Bhakti Charu Swami:  Yes, very good, we should have our gurukula. But at least to begin with, we can start our gurukula at home. We can become, the parents can become the guru’s of their children and start teaching Krishna consciousness at home. Until we have our own gurukulas. Charity after all begins at home. Why should we wait for the gurukula to start? Why shouldn’t we start teaching our own children?
Quite a few questions, good!

Question: If we are part and parcel of Krishna, then as Krishna says, worship of His devotee is better than worship of Himself personally?
Answer by HH Bhakti Charu Swami:  Yes, as you mention Krishna Himself said, that worship of His devotee is more important than worship of Himself. Because, just as the father becomes pleased when his son is treated nicely by somebody, similarly when Krishna sees that we are treating his devotees nicely, Krishna will be pleased.

Question: What can be done, should be done to bring back the senior devotees?
Answer by HH Bhakti Charu Swami: Well, the best thing is to pray to Krishna that they come back.
Anyway, maybe I should elaborate the previous question: that what should be done? Maybe my response to that will be: please do, whatever you think needs to be done. Because it is not just one thing. Ultimately it is a matter of relationship. And we can, we have to see what needs to be done. Because, you see, when a senior devotee drifts away from Krishna consciousness, it becomes very difficult actually to bring them back.  Because they know Krishna consciousness, they know the philosophy, they know everything. But unfortunately they fall into Maya.  So, how to bring them back is a big challenge and especially when they themselves don’t want to come back.

Question:  Nowadays Sai Baba movement is spreading in every corner.  Can we counterattack it?
Answer by HH Bhakti Charu Swami:  There is no need. You see all those movements, they are not spiritual. They are actually material movements, their goal is material. Why people go to Sai Baba?  Because they get some material gain. Diseases cured, business become successful, some material gain comes. But all those material gains, will they have any ultimate benefit? No. In simple words, all that Sai Baba is offering, can that save them, save his followers, from the cycle of birth and death? That will be the question. Can Sai Baba save his followers from the cycle of birth and death? And now you question. Can Prabhupada save you from the cycle of birth and dead? Yes. So that is the difference. In the ultimate issue they are failures. And there lies our real success

Question:  You said that we are not the doer of our action. What about one’s independence?
Answer by HH Bhakti Charu Swami: To begin with, you don’t have any independence.
Question: Hare Krishna, Maharaja.  Many devotees give too much consideration to astrology, chart, kundali and horoscope. What can your Holiness advise about this?
Answer by HH Bhakti Charu Swami: One devotee used to study astrology and often used to look at his own palm. So, Prabhupada noticed that and Prabhupada said: “Why are you looking at your palm all the time”? He said: “Krishna consciousness, if you chant Hare Krishna all your lines will disappear from your hand and if you clap in kirtan, then all your sinful activities will disappear”. So, that is how powerful Krishna consciousness is. So, for a devotee, astrology, palmistry, kundali, all that is useless.  No meaning.

Question: It is a long question.  Must have been prepared at home. Hare Krishna, Maharaja. Pamho. All glories to Srila Prabupada. Could you please clarify the following point? Yesterday you mentioned that we can eat bread bought from the bakery. I inquired thoroughly and I was informed that they use commercial yeast, which may contain animal products. These bread are baked in the same oven in which other products containing eggs, are baked. It will be difficult for us to offer it to Lord Krishna. Can you please comment on this?
Answer by HH Bhakti Charu Swami:  Yes, I mentioned that, you know. Better that we don’t. But if it is not possible, then what should we say, starve to death. Another thing I can tell you from Prabhupada. I will give you two examples. One example I personally had. Once Prabhupada told me, that in this age of kali, in this age, it is impossible to maintain the purity of food. Therefore Chaitanya Mahaprabhu gave the Holy Name. You see, trying to maintain the purity of food will practically be impossible. You may think that something is vegetarian, but you don’t know what is in there. And another example, it was very heavy. You see, Harikesh prabhu was sent to Russia to preach. Those days Russia was behind the Iron Curtain. So, Harikesh prabhu came back and told Prabhupada that he can’t stay in Russia. He said to Prabhupada, there is no association. Prabhupada said: ”association or no association, go there and preach!” And then he kept on giving excuses.  Prabhupada this is not there.  And Prabhupada kept on telling, go and preach. Then finally he said: “Prabhupada, there is nothing but meat. There is nothing else to eat. There is no vegetarian food to eat. You don’t even get any vegetarian food”. Then Prabhupada said:”Then eat meat and preach!” So, you see we have to take the thing with the right understanding. Like the thing is, if everything is nice and you are living in a temple, you don’t have to worry about anything. But say, sometimes devotees are traveling and they have to buy something from outside. In such situation you may consider. That is the point I was trying to make yesterday.

Question:  You mention about eating vegetarian food in exceptional cases.  And we can offer it to Lord Krishna. But unfortunately most of the Mauritius vegetarian restaurants use garlic and onions.
Answer by HH Bhakti Charu Swami: Then, don’t go to the restaurants. Who is asking you to go to the restaurants? And my main point here will be, if you want to maintain a strict standard yourself, don’t worry, do it! No one will criticize you, no one will say anything. But if somebody else is not maintaining such a strict standard, don’t get on his case. That is the point I’m making. Because you don’t become Krishna conscious by eating only! You become Krishna conscious by developing this right attitude within internally. You develop Krishna consciousness by developing your love for Krishna. And when you develop your love for Krishna, then Krishna does not care what you are eating. Or whether you are offering everything to Him or not. Okay, thank you.

Question: If a mataji is not willing to enter grhastha ashram, and wants to serve Krishna her whole life, is it a problem?
Answer by HH Bhakti Charu Swami:  At least not with me. It is very nice, if some mataji’s want to serve Krishna her whole life. No, there is no harm. Actually there are so many devotees. Ultimately we are not mataji‘s or pitaji’s. Ultimately we all are spirit souls. And everyone must become fully committed to serving Krishna. Like the gopis in Vrindavan. Many of them did not enter into grhastha ashram and they are serving Krishna. Are there any problems?

Question: Many IYF and IGF girls and boys are in frequent contact, which often is not necessary. How can young devotees be sensitized about strict and pure Krishna consciousness? Contact with the other gender. Thank you Maharaja
Answer by HH Bhakti Charu Swami:  Yes, boys and girls when they meet, they should be very careful. They should understand. Actually, everyone should always remember, that the goal of life is to become free from sex desires. Please, try to understand this one point, that if you want to get out of this material nature, you have to become free from sex desires. By cultivating sex desire, you cannot make spiritual advancement. Spiritual advancement means, getting rid of sex desire. And how to do that: by developing your love for Krishna. If you are attractive to opposite sex, you are missing out on your Krishna consciousness.

Question: Nowadays many devotees take many courses in our college or temple, but ignore doing service in the temple. Is it okay?
Answer by HH Bhakti Charu Swami: No! The most important thing is service. Our business is not to become scholars. Our business is not to become pundits. There are plenty of pundits in this world. But they are not helping this movement by any chance.

Question: Do you think that Mauritius will suffer more, now that the devotees are falling apart. By creating centres here and there, without focussing on their own spiritual live?
Answer by HH Bhakti Charu Swami:  Well, I mean, I don’t know. I just came to Mauritius. I don’t know the internal situation. So, I’d like, prefer not to comment on that.

Question: How to remain enthusiastic? Because there are so many discouragements, which we get in our daily life.
Answer by HH Bhakti Charu Swami:  Well, you maintain your enthusiasm not by your external situation. Your enthusiasm will come from, within your own self. Like, can anybody stop you from chanting Hare Krishna? Can you say that:”well, I’m not feeling enthusiastic to chant Hare Krishna because this devotee is doing that”. Is that an excuse? No, maintain your enthusiasm with your own conviction.

Question:  Srila Prabhupada mentioned that one should be a devotee first. Like a woman who has a lover and treats her husband in a way that he does not notice anything. Is this the way we have to approach our work? Be so engaged that the boss does not know we are a devotee? Kindly elaborate.
Answer by HH Bhakti Charu Swami:  Well, the point actually is that if we have some other engagement and we are not able to become fully involved in Krishna consciousness, then our main objective should be, our main occupation, our main obsession should be with Krishna consciousness. And the other work should be secondary.

Question: Mauritius being an agricultural country no devotees are interested in cow protection. Is it possible for a devotee to be happy and say, I‘m a Vaisnava and at the same time he does absolutely nothing to even save a cow in his life time?
Answer by HH Bhakti Charu Swami:  You see, the most important thing, the most important business we have is to chant Hare Krishna. If you get too much caught up with saving the cows and getting into the movement of cow protection or saving the cow movement and no time for chanting Hare Krishna. Like, the point that I’m trying to make is, when Srila Prabhupada was here, Srila prabhupada at that time cow killing was going on, in America in India, in other countries. Prabhupada did not divert his attention to those areas. Prabhupada’s point was, chant Hare Krishna. Make everybody chant Hare Krishna. And as the Holy Name spreads, all these things will automatically happen. So the important consideration is to spread Krishna consciousness. If you can do it along with that, it is well and good, it’s very good. But by being too much concerned about those activities and neglecting the chanting and propagation of Krishna consciousness may be counterproductive.

Question:  When we reveal our mind to a devotee, as one of the loving exchanges, what should we do if that devotee deceives us by not keeping confidentiality? Should we avoid him or not?
Answer by HH Bhakti Charu Swami: Yes, if somebody cannot maintain confidentiality, don’t confide in him.

Question: One should normally associate with those who are favorably disposed to us. What about those who are not?
Answer by HH Bhakti Charu Swami:  Well, those who are not favorable disposed to us, disposed to you, you may try to preach to him. You may try to befriend him. But if it does not work, then avoid him. Try to be in a situation which is conducive to your spiritual progress. If some association is discouraging, then maintain a respectful distance from that.

Question: Sometimes when we are doing service, how do we know that our action is pleasing to Srila Prabhupada and Lord Krishna?
Answer by HH Bhakti Charu Swami: You will understand it from the reaction of the devotees. If the devotees are pleased due to your service, that means Krishna is pleased due to your service.
I didn’t’ realise there would be so many questions today. Are you ready to go on till ten o’clock today? There is another bunch of questions in this one.

Question: Yesterday you mentioned that we should wear dhoti and kurtha or sari when coming to the temple. But Maharaja if we are on our way to work in our karmi office, we have to have darsan in the temple.
Answer by HH Bhakti Charu Swami:  Yes, when you are going to the office then it is alright. What I actually meant is, when you come to a temple for the temple program on Sundays or in the evenings, then it is nice to wear devotee clothes. And then again you know. Like, how you dress that is also not so important. It is a part of Vaisnava culture. But that is not an integral part of the Vaisnava culture. If you cannot dress in a Vedic way, it does not really matter.

Question:  Yesterday you mentioned that devotees can celebrate Maha Shiva Ratri. He can honor Lord Shiva. But most of our ISKCON devotees perform karma kandi puja or even they participate in the pilgrimage of ganga-talaw and that occasion. Can you please comment on it?
Answer by HH Bhakti Charu Swami:  My point is that if somebody wants to perform Shiva Ratri to please Shiva, to get his blessings, to become a devotee, then it is alright. That is the point. You see whatever we do, must be to increase our devotion to Krishna. But the main consideration is that we develop our loving relationship with Krishna. Other things are not important. The thing is, in simple words, I will say:”if you want to perform Maha Shiva Ratri you can do that, but do it for the sake of developing your Krishna consciousness”.

Question:  Nowadays devotee girls and boys are mixing liberally on social networks like Facebook and this has led to many conflicts. What does your Holiness think about it?
Answer by HH Bhakti Charu Swami:  Yes, I mentioned earlier, the boys and girls should not mix to intimately in Krishna consciousness. Like in a family, the brothers are there, sisters are there. Do they spend too much time together? So it should be like that. It is all family. Yes, boys are there, girls are there. They should be like brothers and sisters. Their relationship should be pure.

Question: What if senior devotees, in particular in managerial position, do not show affection or compassion towards junior devotees?  Instead they maintain grudges and hatred .What to do in such a situation?
Answer by HH Bhakti Charu Swami:  Complain to your GBC. It should not be. As I mentioned, senior much be affectionate towards junior. Even if they chastise them, that chastisement should be out of love and affection. Just like sometimes a father chastises the children. Does the father chastise the children out of hatred? No, out of love.

Question:  I understand, trying to bring someone to understand Krishna consciousness. But what if we fall down by associating with those non-devotees?
Answer by HH Bhakti Charu Swami:  If you are so weak, that you may fall down due to the association of non-devotees, then don’t go to them. Protect your spiritual life. That is the most important thing.

Question: What happens when senior devotees lose discrimination between right action and wrong action? And what is the corresponding action to junior devotees when he faces such a situation?
Answer by HH Bhakti Charu Swami:  Again, it is the same point coming back again. You see, senior devotees have to become exemplary. Like, so that junior devotees can maintain their respect. And if such senior devotees are not really able to command respect, then they lose their credibility.

Question: If an initiated devotee has difficulty in following the regulated principles for years after initiation, what she or he do to rectify? How should he tackle the situation?
Answer by HH Bhakti Charu Swami: By being serious about spiritual life and following the four regulative principles. That is the only cure. We cannot say well I’m too weak to follow the regulative principles. Prabhupada did not accept that. Prabhupada went to America in the mid sixties. He was preaching to the hippies, whose lives were practically based on sex and drugs. But Prabhupada did not make any compromise. Prabhupada said:” if you want to become a devotee of Krishna, you have to follow the four regulative principles”.

Question:  Maharaja, yesterday while explaining Vaisnava, you said that Vishnu is the Supreme Personality of Godhead. But I have been taught that Lord Krishna is the Supreme Personality of Godhead and He is The Original. Can you please clear this ambiguity from my mind?
Answer by HH Bhakti Charu Swami: I was using the expression. Actually Visnu and Krishna, there is no difference. I used the expression Vishnu, because we are dealing with the concept of Vaisnava. Vaisnava, the word Vaisnava comes from Vishnu. Therefore it was the consideration. It’s not that I was trying to say Vishnu is above Krishna. Krishna is the Supreme Personality of Godhead.

Question:  Lord Krishna is well known as the enlivener of cows. In what way are the Vaisnavas of today enlivener of cows?
Answer by HH Bhakti Charu Swami:  Yes, I mentioned. You see, to maintain that, to cow protection, we actually have to go to the farms.  We have to go to countryside. We have to live, we have to go away from the cities. You cannot live in the city and maintain the cows. That won’t work. But Prabhupada’s emphasis was on preaching. Therefore he wanted our temples to be in the big, big cities. So, as I mentioned earlier, our first consideration is, to spread the Holy Name. And when the Holy Name spreads, when Krishna consciousness movement spreads, then cow protection will automatically take place.
Some well prepared questions printed out.

Question: Dear Maharaja, I am not an initiated devotee. I have observed several times devotees talking to each other during arati and also loudly at other times in the temple while people are meditating before the Deities. What would be your instructions regarding this?
Answer by HH Bhakti Charu Swami:  Actually, this is disrespectful at the time of arati or at the time of programs to, not to be attentive to the program. So please don’t do that. It is not right.

Question:  Can a devotee be at fault if someone considers him as his enemy, though the devotee does not consider him an enemy, but an ignorant man?
Answer by HH Bhakti Charu Swami:  Okay, see, if he thinks that you are his enemy but if you think that he is an ignorant man, he does not really know what he is saying or doing, then what will you do? Just say Hare Krishna to him and go away.

Question: The Brajabasi’s always consider Krishna as their dependent, as their dear son, brother, friend, lover. But how is that in times of danger, then they depend on lord Krishna only? Please elaborate.
Answer by HH Bhakti Charu Swami:  As you mentioned, the Vrajabasi’s always consider Krishna as their dependant.  That is true, that is out of their affection. They are considering that Krishna is dependent upon them. But ultimately, at the time of very critical situation, when they are attacked by the demons and all, then they automatically run towards Krishna, knowing well that they themselves cannot take care of that situation. Because of becoming aware of their own limitations and helplessness, they just depend upon Krishna. So, that is Vrindavan. It is not that they do not know that Krishna is God, but due to their love, they don’t deal with Krishna as God. But they know that Krishna is the Supreme Controller.

Question:  How can a devotee maintain faith on Krishna and surrender to Him during adverse situation? For example, mental torture from family members because the devotee is pursuing Krishna consciousness against the wish of the family?
Answer by HH Bhakti Charu Swami: Well, when you are distressed, mentally or physically, then you should depend upon Krishna even more. Because at the time of difficulty, it is easier to remember Krishna and depend upon Krishna.  So, pray to Krishna more sincerely at that time.

Question: How to make a non-devotee of Krishna become Krishna conscious?
Answer by HH Bhakti Charu Swami: How to make a non-devotee Krishna conscious? By preaching, by your own exemplary behaviour, by taking care of them.

Question: Can Srila Prabhupada’s prediction that Mauritius can become the first ISKCON country in the world come true?
Answer by HH Bhakti Charu Swami: My question will be, what are you going to do about that? Mauritius, yes, will become the first Krishna conscious country. But if you all devotees of Mauritius don’t do anything about it, how will it happen? So what should you do? I will say, get cracking. Start doing something about it. Prahupada said it, therefore it will happen. And Krishna is waiting to see, what are you going to do about it?

Question: Mataji’s should cover their head in kitchen, in programs. Non-devotees, when seeing Gaurnitai in harinam. They respect better only when there is a special program. Today they do it. Full time and senior we should not know if they are.
Answer by HH Bhakti Charu Swami:  I don’t understand the question.
Yes mataji’s should cover their heads.

Question: Hare Krishna Maharaja, all glories to our beloved guru maharaja, Srila Prabhupada. Nowadays devotees are conflicting among themselves and don’t preach outside. How Mauritius will become first in Krishna consciousness?
Answer by HH Bhakti Charu Swami:  Yes, you gave the secret: stop fighting and start preaching!

Question: Maharaja, is it a blunder if I have averted a devotee, who was falsely being accused by another devotee, who was just trying to tarnish his image in the temple?
Answer by HH Bhakti Charu Swami: If you defended a devotee who was innocent, then you have done a very good job.
Okay, so I managed to answer all the questions. Thank you.
Hare Krishna, thank you very much. So I hope this seminar was helpful and I hope that all of you will become very serious devotees. Please, take up this mission whole-heartedly and spread this movement very nicely in this country.  Mauritius is a beautiful country with a lot of potential.  And as it comes out, time and time again, that Prabhupada said that Mauritius should be the first Krishna conscious country. So let’s work together to achieve that. Hare Krishna.

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