Newsletter #006 Kartika issue 2004

For Silas and Their sevaks

The Nectar in this Issue

IN THIS ISSUE: (click on the hyper-linked underlined below to jump there...)

Feature Article - Radha Gopinjanavallabha - Radhanath Swami
  Festivals Coming  - Kartik - Damodara vrat - Govardhan puja - Tulasi Salagram vivaha
  Modes of Worship:
About the web-site: What's there - how to utilize it.......
New Entries on the Web-site..... quite a few since the last newsletter.
SEARCH for Ishthadevatas and Devotees on the site......
Please Visit the ARTICLES pages
Vaishnava Calendar - Panjika
The Salagram Sila - some nice information from Shastra:
Words of encouragement from HDG
  Sila katha - Swadhyaya - glorifying the Lord and His devotees
Raidas: A poet saint
Salagram Kosha - chapter Two - by SK Ramachandra Rao
News Items
Kshira-chora Gopinath
Directed by Divine Command
Sawaman Shaligram temple in Vrindavan
Shri Saligram
- Mayapur's forest people by Bhaktisiddhanta Swami
- Leaving the land of Sri Salagram by Bhaktisiddhanta Swami
- The sacred Gandaki by Aisvarya dasa
Pilgrimage to the top of the world - Damodar Kunda
Newsletters On-line
  Advertisements for Salagram friendly sites
Happy 2004 (518 Gaurabda)
Outro'& Thanx

Sri-murti-lakshana, aara shaalagraama-lakshana
   krishna-kshetra-yaatraa, krishna-murti-darshana

“The characteristics of the Deities should be discussed, as well as the characteristics of the Shalagrama-shila. You should also discuss visiting the Deities in the temple and touring holy places like Vrindavana, Mathura and Dvaraka."

 (Sri Chaitanya Charitamrita Madhya-lila 24:335. text - 61 Explanations of Atmarama verse)


Hare Krishna
Namaskaragalu - Vanakkam - G'day

Please accept my respectful obeisances, All glories to Srila Prabhupad, All glories to Sri Guru and Gauranga,All glories to all the Vaishnava devotees of the Lord

Chari Vaishnava sampradaya ki jaya

Sri Swayam-vyakta Shaligram Sila, Dwaraka Sila, Govardhan Sila ki jaya

Welcome to what we hope to be the sixth of many newsletters. The present plan is to attempt to maintain the site nicely and keep updating with new information and pictures and additions to help enthuse everyone, and use this newsletter to help keep everyone informed about that. With my other various services we figured that Quarterly would be a feasible beginning, so we are looking at April - July - Sept - Dec for now.

So we went a bit off from that with unforeseeable situations occuring, my having to be away from my system for a few months and losing my old faithful computer's contents to hacker's attacks. Yes, it has been a rather eventful year with many things happening. We have experienced many new things, learned many new things, welcomed many new friends - as some wise sage once said "There are no strangers, only friends we have yet to meet !" So that has become manifest as many devotees unknown to me previously wrote in and sent pictures of their worshiful Lords. We too by the mercy of the Lord and His devotees have received a few new additions to try to render some seva to.

As Krishna consciousness is ever expanding and ever deepening we would like to expand this service to you all so as to receive your blessings. Therefore we very much welcome constructive feedback to further assist the development of the site and newsletter services - always open to that.

Sri Krishnarpanamastu

yhs, JTCd

Festivals Coming Soon
Karttika mase - the sacred month of Kartika

Month of Kartik began 29th October 2004 in New Zealand

The glories of Kartika mase - from Kartika Mahatmya

Significant events during Kartik; Kartik vrat, Urja vrat, Damodar vrat, Akash-dipa vrat, Diwali, Govardhan puja, etc

Damodara-lila - Damodarastakam

dämodaräñöakaà näma
stotraà dämodarärcanam
nityaà dämodaräkarñi
paöhet satyavratoditam

One should regularly recite the prayer called Dämodaräñöaka during the month of Kartika (Damodar), which was spoken by Satyavrata, which attracts Lord Dämodara, and which describes the worship of Lord Dämodara.

Diwali - festival of lights

Akash-dipam - offering lamps all month long

The Glories of Offering Many Lamps During the Month of Kärttika
In the Skanda Puräëa it is said:
"A person who lights many lamps inside and outside Lord Viñëu's temple becomes a liberated soul. Holding a diñk and conch, he attains a spiritual form like Lord Viñëu's.

Worship of Govardhan Hill

Salagram Tulasi Vivaha - The marriage of Tulasi Devi and Sri Salagram Sila
(click HERE to jump to this article....)

...Feature Article:

(To view some of the texts on this newsletter you will need to have the Balaram font installed on your system. You can download it for free HERE and then go to Start, settings, control panel and Fonts and Install New Fonts)

Sri Sri Radha Gopijanavallabha by H.H.Radhanath Swami (Transcript I guess from a parikrama lecture )

Today is the last day of our yatra. On the request of devotees we have come to this place. It is a very unknown part of Vrindavana this particular temple. It is not to be found in any of the parikrama books. We only are aware of these deities Sri Sri Radha Gopijanavallabha. The mercy They have personally bestowed upon myself.

Yesterday devotees had a vote, by democratic process; conclusion was we come here today.

We understand Krishna by the grace of Krishna's devotees. We cannot approach Krishna directly. It is by His own sweet will that He has arranged. Krishna wants to give credit to His devotees, He wants to bestow His mercy through His devotees. It is only through the mercy of Vaisnavas that we can understand what is Krishna, what is the Holy name, what is Vrindavana, what is the purpose of life beyond just greed and egoism.

I would like to briefly narrate a few personal encounters in my life in relationship to Sri Sri Radha-Gopijanavallabha - with your permission.

 In 1971 I was a devotee of Lord Siva, I was travelling from the area Pashupatinatha to Amarnatha for a pilgrimage in month of August. Very crowded third class train, didn't sit down for about 40 hours. Finally the train stopped and I wanted to somehow or other to move, so I crawled over people's heads, somehow I pulled myself out of the window, because I had these attachments. The train started moving and I tried to get back in and it was so very crowded, no window to fit a human being inside.

So the train left and I was in this unknown place. I asked a sadhu on the railway platform - where is this. He said this is Mathura, today is Janmastami!

So he took me to Janmasvana where I spent the whole day. It was very crowded and very joyful, although I really didn't know who is Krishna or what is Krishna so much. And then at midnight everyone went to Dwarkadwishta. Bathed in Visnu-ghata. So I was thinking actually that night I stayed, although I was in Mathura, in a temple of Lord Siva with a babaji named Sivananda. And I was thinking I will go to Vrindvana for about 3 days. Then I will go to Amarnatha.

So I started walking down the road and a bus saw me on the road between Vrindavana and Mathura near fields and it stopped and picked me up. They said I did not have to pay anything. So I went on the bus and then I arrived and I just asked someone is there a river here - Yamuna, because I knew there was Yamuna. So they pointed, so I was just walking toward Yamuna because that was my tradition - whatever holy place I would just go to whatever holy river was there and just sleep under tree and do meditation. So as I was walking and one Vraja-vasi approached me and said to me; "oh you have come from foreign land." Because foreigners were very rare at that time. There was no ISKCON at that time.

He said you have come to Krishna's home, we are Krishna's family, you are our guest let me give you some food. So he took me to some Vraja-vasi's house and had prasad, nice prasad, and then he said where are you staying, I said on the river. He took me to one ashram of one blind sadhu, then I met him and he said let him stay here and he said yes, but still I went to the Yamuna. So on the 3rd day when I was going to leave in the morning from Mathura to the railway station. I woke up with typhoid fever, so I was very very sick. And some of Srila Prabhupada's godbrothers were very kind to me. And after I was in this Rama-Krishna charitable hospital for about 2 weeks. Laying in a room with 40 dying people.

They gave me shelter in one Gaudiya matha for some time and I was studying
there. The doctor told me I had to wait at least 2 months before I could travel or I would die. My body was so weak and emaciated from the way I was living. By the end of the 2 months I came to the conclusion that of all the theologies, philosophies, religions and spiritual paths that I have experienced there is nothing higher, nothing as sweet, nothing more beautiful then the religion of Vrindavana. Devotion to Sri Sri Radharani and Sri Krishna. So I decided to spend the rest of the my life in Vrindavana and never leave.

So after some time I was living on the bank of Yamuna. Sometimes going to Govardhana, Nandaghama, Varsana and various places. I would usually sleep under trees near Chir-ghata here in Vrindavana. We would go to mangala-arati at Radharamana temple and then Radha-vallabha temple then go to mangal arati to Seva-kunja and Bunki-bihari gets up quite late. Sometimes to Radha-Damodara temple. So what happened is some sadhu, one very nice sadhu he got to know me. I would go every night a few sadhu's and myself we would go around Vrindavana, Vrindavana parikrama, we did this every night. For the whole month of kartik, we would just sing bhajans on the bank of the Yamuna. One of the sadhu's was a musical godbrother of Ravi Shankara, he played sitar. But he considered Ravi Shankar to be somewhat in maya because he played ragas without Krishna's names. He would play ragas and only chant Krishna's names when he played. So he was afantastic sitar player.

We would sit on bank of Yamuna and just chant and he would just play, 3/4/5 ofus and then we would go around Vrindavana every night in the moonlight. And one of these nice sadhus told me I want you to meet a very very very simple and pure soul. When you meet him you will understand what is bhakti. So I thought he was going to bring me to some nice temple. He took me in the Radha-Vallabha temple area down this very isolated little ally way where there was an open sewer gutter just flowing like anything, black sewage and had to step over the sewage gutter to get in the door. And it was someone's house. Very, very small house. And a family was living in that house. Always making noise and everything. Then a hallway and in one of the hallways in their house there was a closet. The family was always passing, walking through that hallway and in that closet were the Deities of Sri Sri Radha-Gopijanavallabha. And then he introduced me to the pujari. His name was Ghanshyam.

How gracious and how kind he was. He had such pure love and devotion to the Deities. I was told that many years before when was young a man, he came from a very wealthy family. His Father, Mother all family members came on a pilgrimage to Vrindavana. They spent a few days and what the dhama of Vrindavana did to his heart was something wonderful. He became so deeply attached to Vrindavana.
Just by being here he became completely detached from everything in life. He saw no other purpose or meaning to existence except surrendering to Sri Radha and Krishna in Vrindavana. So when it was time to go he said I will stay here I will not leave. So his parents thought this is ridiculous so they said all right you come a little later. So they went back.

The parents came back again; they said now you must come, he said no I will not leave. So they told him we will take away all your property, all your money everything unless you come back. We will not in any way support you being here.

He considered the only real treasure and wealth in life his residence in Vrindavana, in the service of Radha and Krishna. So they left.

>From a very wealthy family, he was in total poverty. In the summer which is very hot, in the winter it is extremely cold, he would just sleep in the dust of Vrindavana on the ground in various places. He would go do madhucari and get some roti. At that time Vrindavana was a very very quite place. He hardly new anyone. He would just be immersed in chanting the holy name and praying. One day he was just sitting in the dust all day long just chanting the holy names and do
you know what his Deity was? - The name of Radharani.

In the Sanskrit alphabet he just wrote Sri Radha. In the dust with his finger and he would just worship that. And at the end of the day he would erase it so that nobody would step on it. So when he erased he saw some gold. He rubbed the ground and he felt something there and he started digging in a little and there was a piece of gold. So he was thinking what is this. Dug into the ground and what he found was something extraordinary. It was the top of the head of Srimati Radharani's deity. And next to Her underground was a beautiful blackish deity of Lord Krishna. And it was written underneath Him Radha-gopijanavallabha.

So he had These deities, These deities you see, They're quite big deities. He had absolutely not one paise. He only had one torn-up set of clothes, he had no residence and here is self-manifesting deities of Radha-gopijanavallabha. So he felt that They have somehow put Themselves under my care, I cannot leave Them.

So he would just sit there with Them and chant. And sometimes people would come by and give some madhucari. He could not go to homes because he can't just leave the deities in the field. He was worshipping Them literary under a tree, even in the rainy season under a tree. And people would sometimes come by and give some roti and he would offer it. This went on for some time. And this particular family of Vraja-vasis they saw his genuine and sincere devotion. So they said you can put your deities in the closet of our house near our hallway. Those deities remained there for about the next 50 years. And he worshipped Them there.

This is where we met him. He would never leave the deities. He would only one time of the day he would go the Yamuna, because he had no one to help him, to collect water. To bring back. He would bathe in Yamuna and then bring a bucket back to bathe the deities.

Now when I met him he was an old man. Perhaps in his 80's. And he had a certainmood about him. It was that he was the most fallen, insignificant servant of Gopijanavallabha. Most unqualified and that anyone who came to that temple and very few people ever came. But anybody who would come in to that little temple he would consider that was Gopijanavallabha's very special guest, Gopijanavallabha's friend, personally invited. And he would give his life, his soul his everything to serve anybody who came. He was one of the simplest people I ever met. He was really living in poverty. You know where he slept for that 50 or 60 years? He slept in the hallway. People would just, family would just walk by. Practically stepping over him. The deities were in a tiny little closet near that closet was a tiner closet. Whatever the deities belongings were, were in there. And he just slept on the hallway on the floor.

So I started coming there about 9 o'clock every morning after about 5 different mangal arati's that I would attend. I would go to Gopijanavallabha temple. And one day I just went there because I just wanted be with Ghanshyam. So one day he told me come today at noon and I will give you prasad. So I was thinking how can I refuse this. So I came at noon, he gave me, all he had was 3 roti's nothing else. 3 rotis. So he said you come everyday, you must come. He said you must come everyday. Gopijanavallabha and Radharani want you to come everyday to take prasad with Them.

So after about 3 days there was this one sadhu who bought me to his house. He told me do you know that Ghanshyam has not eaten anything for 4 days. I said why. He said because you are eating all his rotis. He said Ghanshyam does not go out to beg really. He can't go far. There's 3 little houses right in that area. Each one cooks one roti. And he goes to those 3 houses everyday to get 1 roti from each house. And he brings, that's all he has. He offers that to Gopijanavallabha. So he said he his giving you all of his food.

So I came the next day and he just put down the roti's down in front of me. And I said Ghanshyam these are your roti's. He said no, no, these are your roti's. I said I already had prasad. He said doesn't matter Gopijanavallabha wants you to eat these roti's. I said no, no I do not want these roti's. He said You MUST, YOU MUST.

He spoke nice English, because he was coming from an educated family.

I said Ghanshyam I have been told that you've not eaten for 4 days because I am eating all of your prasad. He said NO, WHO HAS TOLD YOU THIS, IT IS NOT TRUE. I AM EATING SO MUCH, GOPIJANAVALLABHA IS GIVING ME EVERYTHING I NEED. Now you eat these roti's, please. I said Ghanshyam I am not going to eat these roti's because they are your roti's. Literally he began to weep and tremble with folded palms begging me to eat the roti's. I said Ghanshyam unless you show me that there is more roti's in your house I am not going to these.

He said I have so many roti's in this house. He said Gopijanavallabha is consort of Sri Radharani, She is the supreme goddess of fortune. You don't think there is any roti's in Her house. I said Ghanshyam show me the roti's. He said no need to show you, no need. They are here. You just take this parasad. He became so concerned, I said Ghanshyam I know that there are 12 places in Vrindavana that give madhucari to sadhus at a particular time of the day.  In those days every sadhu knew where to go at what time to get free roti's. That was the first thing sadhu's learn when they come to Vrindavana. Time schedule of roti distribution in different temples.

So, I said I can go anywhere, you are here. You are starving. He said No need, you take these roti's. He started crying and pleading and praying to me. I understood if I did not take his roti's I would break his heart. So I was praying to Gopijanavallabha what should I do. Break his heart or starve his body. He would not let me leave without eating the roti's. But I never came back at 12 o'clock. The next day he didn't eat the roti's at 12 o'clock knowing that I would come 9 o'clock the next day. We had a big fight and I refused to eat his roti's.

This was a selfless service attitude.  He was so old and so thin. One day I saw him walking with this bucket of water to bathe Gopijanavallabha. And from the Yamuna he would walk about 3 steps and then would have to put the bucket down and rest. Then he would pick it up strenuously, 3 steps then put it down to rest. At the time I was only 20 years old. So I took the bucket from him and I said I will carry it to the top. He would not let go, he said no need, no need, no need. I said Ghanshyam let me carry it for you. I can carry it in 3 mins, it takes you half hour. I am young.

He said yes you are young so you should enjoy. But I am old man. I am just the servant. My life is sacrifice, he said you are Gopijanavallabha's friend. You should not have to work for Him, but I am just his fallen servant. It is my duty to serve Him. He would not give me that bucket. I was walking alongside him for about 20 mins. We were having tug of wars, he would not give me the bucket. And then finally he began to cry and with a choked up voice he said this service I have to Gopijanavallabha is all I have in life. Please, please do not take it away from me. I never tried to take that bucket from him again.

One day I happened to be there and it was some festival so a Vraja-vasi brought him a cup of sweet rice to offer to Gopijanavallabha. Now please don't give or take the spontaneous love of the Vraja-vasi's but you can hear to understand its nature. He was just eating 2/3 roti's a day for how many years and here was a small pot of sweet rice in a clay cup and it was brought. The way he offered it to the deities is he sat me down on the little hallway in front of the closet. He put the spoon, 1 spoon in a cup and put it right to Gopijanavallabha's mouth and said a little prayer. Then he put it to Sri Radharani's mouth and said a little prayer, then he came to me. because its only a few feet from the deities and where I was sitting. He came and said open your mouth and put your head back. Then I opened by mouth and put my head back and he just poured the sweet rice from the spoon in my mouth. And this is how he offered the entire pot of sweet rice. He just kept on doing it spoon by spoon, Gopijanavallabha's mouth, Sri Radharani's mouth then he would just toss in my mouth. I said Ghanshyam save some for yourself, he said no need, no need. Then with folded palms and tears in his eyes he said you are Gopijanavallabha's friend, you Gopijanavallabha's friend. I am only his insignificant servant.

One time in the month of January I happened to come by to visit him in the nighttime. So Ghanshyam and I were chanting together. Whenever I went, I would come at all different times of the day sometimes just to visit him and whenever I would come he was never idle, he was never sitting, sleeping, always doing seva. I'd come and he would be fanning the deities he just be standing and fanning and singing songs. Another time I had come he had sandalwood pulp and he was putting chandan and grinding. But most of time, 90% of the times when I would come he would just be sitting alone with the harmonium and singing beautiful songs for Gopijanavallabha. He was always busy doing some seva. Sometimes he would be doing puja, offering arati, sometimes he be dressing Them. So this night I came and we were singing this nice kirtan together. In this old broken down little house in a hallway. So then I said I'm going, now I must go and Ghanshyam said where are you going. I am going to take rest. He said where do you take rest. I said I always take rest on the bank of Yamuna. He said oh no, it is January, it is very cold. Then you have no home, you have no proper clothes, no blanket even. He said you stay here tonight it is too cold, I insist you must sleep here tonight. So I said Ghanshyam I sleep on Yamuna every night. He said no no, tonight you must stay here.

Gopijanavallabha, you are His guest, you must sleep nicely. So I laid down on the floor next to him and he came out with this old blanket and put it on top of me. So I was thinking ahhh this is very nice blanket. And then he laid next to me. All he had is just a thin dhoti and little chadar. Not even a pillow. He slept right on the bare floor, he just had a little piece of burlap he wouldput on the floor and he would lay on his arm. And he was trembling cold. I said Ghanshyam this is your blanket. You sleep with your blanket. He said no no, it is not my banket. It is your blanket. He said Gopijanavallabha wants you to have this blanket. You are his friend. I am only his fallen servant. You must accept this blanket. I said no it is your blanket. I will only stay here if you sleep with the blanket.  So then he was begging me again, weeping, begging me take the blanket, sleep nicely. He said I am an old useless servant. What difference does it make if
suffer. But you are dear to the Lord, you must enjoy.

This was his mood. He was worshipping the deities for 50, 60 years. And I'm just a new devotee, I just arrived in Vrindavana and understood who Krishna is a couple months before. So finally, he surrendered. I was about to walk out. I said if you don't take this blanket I am leaving for the Yamuna. He said all right, all right, I will sleep in the blanket. You just lay down. So I lay down and it was cold. Ghanshyam was under this old tattered blanket but it was a little warm. So sometime later I woke up at night, in the middle of the night. And mysteriously I was feeling a little warm. So, I looked over at Ghanshyam and he's just laying there trembling, trembling like a leaf in the wind. And then I looked at myself and I saw the blanket was on me. While I was sleeping he put the blanket on me.

So very, very quietly I picked up the blanket and I wanted to not wake him. As soon I touched his body with the blanket he just leaped up "NO NEED, NO NEED" I said Ghanshyam you are not even sleeping, you are freezing. He said NO NEED, NO NEED you are Gopijanavallabha's friend, I am his servant. The duty of the servant is to serve the friend. Gopijanavallabha will never be pleased with me unless I sacrifice my life for the happiness of His guests and His devotees. You must accept this blanket. He said you keep this blanket, you take it with you. I refused. So then we actually, I wasn't yelling but I said no I'm not going to sleep with this blanket and he was insisting and insisting, then finally I said I am going to the Yamuna. Then he said all right, all right I will sleep with the blanket. So I lay down, he laid down. And I woke up a few minutes later and I was warm. And I looked over there he was suffering, miserably, freezing, trembling and again I tried to really, really secretly put the blanket, as soon as I touched him NO NEED, NO NEED, NO NEED. He said my life is to serve. He said you don't understand my happiness is to serve, my only function in life is to serve. Whether I suffer or I whether I enjoy means nothing. The only meaning is Gopijanavallabha and Radharani are happy with me. They are happy when I give everything I have to devotees.

He was so sincere. I would not except. At least 5/6 times that night this happened of the switching of blankets. I never came back there at night. In the winter.

Then it started getting warmer, started going there sometimes at night and he was aging. It was so nice, somehow or other he had made this little bed for the deities, have you seen the size of these deities? He would, every night, whenever possible, he would put the deities in the bed and lay Them down and massage Their feet and put a little blanket over Them. And then he would sing for Them for hours while They were sleeping. But because he was getting, he did this for many many years, but in his old age he could not lift the deities and put Them in the bed. So any time I would come at night the would ask me please,please help put Radharani and Gopijanavallabha in Their bed.

I wasn't initiated at that time. I didn't even have a spiritual master, what to speak of being a brahmana. But he would have me lift, because the feet are lighter he would take the side of Gopijanavallabha's feet and I would take His shoulder's and we would carry Gopijanavallabha into and lay Him into the bed and take Sri Radharani and lay Her in bed. And he was so happy, he would just be crying in joy at Gopijanavallabha and Radharani tonight get to sleep in Their bed again. He would never ask me please come every night and help me. If I happened to come at night he would very humbly appeal, will you put Gopijanavallabha in Their bed. Otherwise he would put Them to rest standing up. And how much he was so happy I could see, it was like the most glorious festival, was like the most glorious feast in his heart to see the deities nicely lying in Their bed to take rest.

One day I said, I came in the morning, I said to Ghanshyam I am going to Varsana. He started to cry. He was so dedicated to those deities. As far as I know, although he was living in Vraja-bhumi since he was 19/18 years old he came, this time he was there about 60 years. As far as I know he had never gone to Varsana. He had never gone to Nanda-ghama, never even seen Govardhana hill. Because he was duty-bound to his deities. He would never leave Them. When I told him I going to Varsana he began to cry. With folded hands he said when you go so Sri-ji mandir please, please tell Sri Radharani  Ghanshyam is longing to come there to see Her. But that I cannot come because I am only Her servant. And I cannot leave my service.

Another time I was going to Govardhana hill, I said I am going for Govardhana parikrama. Ghanshyam again began to cry. He said when you see Giriraja, tell Him that Ghanshyam has been worshipping to Him and praying to Him for many years and is longing to see Him. He was seeing Varsana, he was seeing Govardhana, much clearer then so many thousands of pilgrims that walk around on parikrama of these places.

Bhaktisiddhanta Saraswati Thakura taught us do not try to see Krishna, decide to serve Krishna in such a way that He will be pleased to see you. When I heard this statement of Bhaktisiddhanta Saraswati Thakura some time later in remembrance of Ghanshyam came very intimately into my heart. Truly lived by the principles of servant of the servant of the servant.

It was actually in that little closet temple that I was with Ghanshyam and 2/3 other old sadhus that would come to meet him in the mornings. And I had to leave India because my visa had expired. So they gave me 2 suggestions in the presence of Gopijanavallabha. 1 suggestion is if you have to leave India go to Mithala -Janakpura. It is the Varsana of Rama's lila. It's in Nepal so it is out ofIndia. So I went there.

I was in Nepal in for about a month or something, and then my Nepalise visa expired. And I only had a 2-week transit visa in India. Just to go through then I had to depart. So from Pashupatinatha I went to Ayodhya and Prayag, and then I came to Vrindavana. There I spent about 10 days in Vrindavana. My last day I did Govardhana parikrama and then departed. But the day before Govardhana parikrama I visited Ghanshyam baba. And he and a couple others were saying if you have to leave Vrindavana, because I was crying I have to leave Vrindavana. They said if you have to leave Vrindavana you should go to New Vrindavana. I asked what is this New Vrindavana? They said Swami Prabhupada, when he was here in Vrindavana, because I had already accepted Prabhupada as my guru by that time in Vrindavana.
They said your guru-maharaja Swami Prabhupada, he was telling us that he has created a Vrindavana in America called New Vrindavana. And he told us that it is non-different then from Vrindavana. So you should go there, that way you will never leave Vrindavana until you can come back. And he even told, he said you should be pujari when you go there.

So I had to leave and I went to Amsterdam. That was the first ISKCON temple I ever saw. I would live with Prabhupada when he came to Vrindavana. I was with Prabhupada in Bombay for sometime before. When I never saw an ISKCON temple and the whole expect for 10 days when Prabhupada was doing parikrama around Vrindavana there was never any ISKCON devotees here.

So then I went to the temple of London, Bury place stayed for some time. And then I visited my parents because they were severely heart-broken by my spirit of attempted renunciation. So I visited them for some time then I got the news that Prabhupada was coming to New York. So immediately I went and hitchhiked to New York. And I was with Prabhupada for about a week there. And the day he was leaving there was an announcement that Prabhupada is coming to New Vrindavana. And he is going to give a 7 day lecture series on Srimad Bhagavatam and it is going to be called the Bhagavat-dharma discourse. And he is going to celebrate Janmastami there and Vyasa-puja and we need people to help prepare for the festival because devotees from all over the country are going to be coming so whoever can come, please come and help to serve Prabhupada there and be there for his festival. So when I heard that I was thinking in Gopijanavallabha temple I was told that I should go to New Vrindavana and Prabhupada is going to be there. So I went to New Vrindavana. And my intention was only one thing - just to stay there till 6 months expired then I can get a visa to come back to Vrindavana India. That was my only intention. But when Prabhupada came and I heard him preach I realised that we really see Vrindavana through serving the spiritual master. Through the Supreme Lord. As long as we have any selfishness in our heart.

Narottama Dasa Thakura - as long as we have any material desire in out hearts we can't really see what is Vrindavana.

So by Prabhupada's mercy he inspired me that you should just surrender to your service, where you are. You are here now to surrender to your service. Surrender to serving in helping in my mission. So I was in charge of milking cows and doing some other simple work. Then the pujari, the brahmacari asharam got married. That happens sometimes.

I was such a simple new devotee. I was thinking how is it possible, he's serving Radha-Vrindavananatha. He is a personal, he is bathing Radha-Vrindavanatha, he is dressing Them, he's feeding Them, why in the world would anyone who had such a wonderful service would want to get married. Inconceivable, so I went to that devotee I said if you want female association come and help me milk cows. Its the safest way to associate to with the opposite sex. Somehow or other he didn't accept my advice. So he got married.

Then the temple president said you should be the pujari. I said who is going to take care of the cows? he said you, you do both. So I was pujari for Radha-Vrindavananatha. I remember one day I was putting the dress on Srimati Radharani something wonderful happened, I remembered then Ghanshyam baba told me I should be the pujari at New Vrindavana. So for 11 years I was not allowed to come to India. Because in those days devotees were really in a sense of surrender and they were very duty-bound in the way they rendered their service. We would never ever, ever act outside authority or blessings. So for 11 years I remained there worshipping the deities. And after I was given sannayas, actually I did not want to take sannayas. But the leader of New Vrindavana Kirtananda Maharaja he would. I would just always be talking about Vrindavana, because in those days nobody had ever been to India but a few devotees.

When I was in London in Bury place, I had this old thin, it was one of those wolf grey chadars, was really an old one. Some sadhu wore it for years and gave it me. And I had it on when I was in London and the devotees in Bury place were gathering around me, they said that's just like Prabhupada's chadar. They had never seen a chadar except on Srila Prabhupada. And me, they said where did you get that, its just like Prabhupada's chadar, we have never seen anything, its so. I said a sadhu gave it to me in Vrindavana. VRINDAVANA!, you have been to Vrindavana! People would be very interested to know what is Vrindavana. We would read about it Krishna book, but what is it like today.

So when I came to New Vrindavana only the leader had been to Vrindavana. Nobody else had ever been. So everyone would want to know about Vrindavana and after I would tell everyone, everyone wanted to go. Kirtananda Maharaja made a rule that I was not allowed to speak about Vrindavana. That rule was very very difficult to follow. Sometimes devotees would come way up to that old mountain farmhouse where the temple was of Radha-Vrindavanatha and it would be just me and them looking after the offerings and the aratis. In between they would say tell me about Vrindavana. And I would start telling them about the places of Govardhana and the places of Vrindavana and the places of Nanda-ghama, Varsana. I'd start telling them about Vraja-vasi's and start telling them about different sadhus I would know there. Telling them about my meetings with Prabhupada there. And then they'd start telling everybody. And the temple president would say, because I was a brahmacari, he'd say Radhanatha is in maya.

He wakes up at 1 in the morning and chants rounds and works all day, why is he in maya. Because he is talking about Vrindavana. Then he'd come all the way up, I told you not to talk about Vrindavana, you are agitating the community.
One day he said Prabhupada said New Vrindavana is non-different then Vrindavana so you just talk about New Vrindavana. So he was trying to convince me, he would say I will never, ever in your life let you go back to Vrindavana because I know if you go you will never come back. So he was trying to convince me to take sanyassa in 1982. And I was refusing refusing, he was pushing, and pressurising, and he had the whole community, he preached to whole community to not give me any peace of mind till I took sannyasa. So everyone would be harassing me.

So finally he said to me you take sannyasa I will let you visit Vrindavana. But I still refused. Finally, it was too much, I had to surrender, and after I surrendered I decided I want to be unconditional so I knew I had to do it anyway I said but I still get to go to Vrindavana. So 11 years later 1983 I returned to Vrindavana. First time. I remember I came to Gaura-purnima, first time I ever went to Gaura-purnima in Mayapura 1983. Because when I was living in India, so then I took a train from Calcata to Delhi and I took the Taj express to Mathura and I decided to go according to my old tradition. I went to Visvam-ghata, took bath and walked along the Yamuna from Mathura to Vrindavana. But things really changed at that time, there was a lot obstructions in that water if you tried to do it today. So I came to Vrindavana. And I'll never forget, this is 11 years later, you know at Radha-Vallabha temple there is the old temple, there is the new temple where the deities were. Well that old temple is very close to Ghanshyam baba's house.

So I came and I happened to see Ghanshyam sitting on the steps outside the old temple. And now he was 11 years older, he was in his late 80's or 90's, I don't know. And he looked at me. When I lived in Vrindavana, I wore this simple white lungi, that was kind of torn up and I had a little chadar and I had long dredded hair and I never shaved because I was young, it didn't make that much difference that I never shave. And now here I am a Sannyasi, with a danda, with shaved head. So he was looking at me and he was old, he was just looking at me.

Because one great sadhu living in Vrindavana had given me a name when I was little, the name Ratin-Krishna dasa. I never got initiated but he gave it out of affection. So Ghanshyam always called me Ratin. That means Krishna the chariot driver of Arjuna.

So he looked at me and he was just looking and I bowed down, and I got up, and he was just. And then he said, like a father to a long lost son - Ratiiiiin!

Then he started to weep, started to cry. He embraced me. And he said Radha-Gopijanavallabha has been waiting for so long to see you. And he took me by the hand and took me to that same little hallway where the closet was. And he started; he started taking off the jewellery of the deities and giving it to me. Saying Radharani wants you to have this. He's giving me rotis. And I came that night from Krishna-Balarama temple, secretly. I left Krishna-Balarama temple that night to help him put Radha-Gopijanavallabha into the bed, 11 years later. I even brought a couple godbrothers to the temple, he was just taking off, giving them whatever he could give them, he would give them, bow down to each Vaisnava.

Then the next time I came, I came to the door and I walked in. I walked into that little temple there was no Gopijanavallabha, there was no Ghanshyam. So I asked the family members - Ghanshyam, Ghanshyam. And the person, with tears in their eyes, smiling said Goloka.

He was so old but he knew that if he were to die, there'd be no one to take care of the deities. Because that family had nothing to do with the deity worship, they were just working people and like that. So even though, he was really aged then in poor health, he just lived to take care of the deities. From my understanding, because for many years I was asking people, where is Gopijanavallabha. Nobody knew, even that family didn't know. Then I met one very dear brother and friend named Asika-Krishna dasa Prabhu. Who during the time I lived in Vrindavana he would often, we would go to see Ghanshyam baba. And he told me, what he told was this - that Ghanshyam baba was just living because there was no one else to do the seva of the deities. But then one trust built this temple, but they had no deity, so they were looking for a deity to put in the temple. So someone told them, there is this beautiful self-manifesting deity just in the closet. So they asked him, and he was so happy. After 60 years in this closet Gopijanavallabha, maybe 70 years in this closet, Gopijanavallabha will finally have a temple. So he came here when the temple was built and he was, somebody else's temple, somebody else's trust but he was just the pujari.
And very very soon after, because the trust would supply another pujari. As soon as he saw that Gopijanavallabha had a house and he trained some other pujari, someone to take care of Them. As soon as he saw the deity seva taken care of nicely he gave up his body. A young person will serve the deity better then me.
So he had no reason to remain in this world.

When we read about qualities of selfless service. When we read about the principle of servant of the servant of the servant. When we contemplate actual humility of the heart. Sri Gopijanavallabha empowered him to be a very wonderful wonderful example of that. But only a few people in the whole world ever saw him or knew him. He was just totally an unknown person. But his life and soul is the prayer where the people would just come to see the deities. Probably no more than 6/7 different people a month would come to see his deities. But anybody who came would be the joy of his life. To serve Gopijanavallabha's friend, his special invited guest. So I think today Ghanshyam baba is very happy. That all of you have come to see the beautiful forms of his beloved Lord. And what a mystery life is that at the time I was just an insignificant little beggar sleeping on bank of Yamuna. And I been given the wonderful fortune of now bringing, helping to bring a 1000 devotees for the darshan of Gopijanavallabha.

Our beloved Srila Prabhupada was truly the embodiment of selfless service.
Srila Prabhupada left Vrindavana, he left his beloved Radha-Damodara. He suffered heart attacks, strokes, sea-sickness, persecution to give us Krishna. Srila Prabhupada told us that he saw us as the representatives of his guru-maharaja.

And he how served and gave his life to give us Krishna. It is by Srila Prabhupada's selfless compassion that my insignificant self has been spiritually sustained and nourished to whatever extent there is year after year. It is by his selfless service attitude based on pure love that is sustaining all our spiritual lives. And actually it's Srila Prabhupada, his act of such humble devotion even to wretched materialistic people that has brought all of us to Vrindavana. It is actually Srila Prabhupada who has fulfilled the spiritual desires of millions of people throughout the world. And even it is Srila Prabhupada who has actually fulfilled Ghanshyam baba's great desire. The 1000's of sincere souls will come to take the blessings of his beloved Lord.

So we should know with great faith and conviction that His Divine Grace AC Bhaktivedanta Swami Prabhupada is the ultimate manifestation of the highest teachings of Vaisnava scriptures. He has given us everything, he has given us everything. He has given us the complete, unadulterated mercy of the parampara. And what does he stress, he puts such great great emphasis on the spirit of service. Throughout his lectures, throughout his books and manifested by his life how much emphasis he has put on developing a proper service attitude.

What is a service attitude?

Service doesn't simply mean doing something for someone else. That is a very superficial understanding. But real service is selfless, unconditional, uninterrupted by various obstacles that come in our path. Ghanshyam baba longed to visit Varsana, Govardhana, Maha-vana. But there was no consideration because his service was to his Lord. Srila Prabhupada could have been living here in Vrindavana, probably would have lived to over a 100 years old. But he sacrificed his health, he sacrificed the peace of mind of the holy dhama. He sacrificed everything. Selfless to give you the opportunity to love Krishna.

Prabhupada taught us this principle, to live by this principle. It is the principle we read on every page of Caitanya-caritarmta - unconditional selfless service. It is the principle that is broadcasted throughout the entire Srimad-Bhagavatam, from the first verse to the last - unconditional devotional service without ego.

What is the pleasure of the Lord, what is the pleasure of His devotees. What is my duty to Him. Prabhupada notes the will of the Lord comes through Guru, Sadhu and Sastra. His guru told him to spread the holy names all over the world.
It became his life and soul. Doesn't matter what obstacles, what inconveniencies. Doesn't matter whether it brings life or death. Because he had that selfless humble attitude of service all of us have been saved. The doors to the spiritual world of Goloka have been opened to billions and billions and billions of people.

trnad api su-nicena taror iva sahisnuna amanina mana-dena kirtaniya sada harih [Cc. Adi 17.31]

Caitanya Mahaprabhu told us to string this verse of the thread of the holy name and to wear it always. It is our life, we can evaluate how we are successful by how we are pleasing Krishna. We can evaluate how we are pleasing Krishna by studying our hearts, our intentions, our words and actions. In relationship to this teaching.

trnad api su-nicena taror iva sahisnuna amanina mana-dena kirtaniya sada harih [Cc. Adi 17.31]

Be humble like the straw in the street, tolerant like trees, ready to offer all respect to others and expect none in return. If we live by this verse then we can actually follow Prabhupada's teachings. And broadcast the glories of the holy name always.

Today is the last day of our yatra. This is the last meeting we will all have together. The purpose of this yatra is not sight-seeing, not just to come to a holy place and get sick become purified from that. The purpose of this yatra is to inspire us to dedicate our lives and soul with the selfless service attitude. To serving Srila Prabhupada and his mission. Because he has given us his life and his life's contribution to the param-para was a society he created. If we are not grateful to him for saving us will Krishna be pleased with us.
However knowledgeable you may become in various high topics. Will be Krishna be pleased with if we are not grateful to his pure servant who sacrificed his life to take us out of the ignorance of kali and give us the path of perfection. So let us pray here, with very sincere hearts, that through this wonderful yatra, we have participated in over the last 15 days will bring us a much deeper sense of dedication, humility, to really to that we possibly can to Prabhupada and his mission of pure compassion. And follow his teachings to humbly serve the Vaisnavas, give his compassion to the suffering conditional souls. By reading his books, by speaking from his books, distributing his books. By helping in what other way and ultimately we can pray that we can sincerely, whole heartedly, understand the importance of chanting the holy names and making it the first priority in our lives.

The more love we have the more love we can give. That love comes when we gratefully serve those who has given us so much. And we could really reciprocate with Srila Prabhupada by taking shelter of the holy name because that is the ultimate gift that he has given us. Prabhupada wanted us to remain united, to cooperate with each other in spreading the glories of chanting the holy names:


I wish to thank all of you very much for your outstanding service to the Vaisnava community during Srila Prabhupada's disappearance festival. It was, it was a feast for my heart to see all of you serving so nicely. What a great benediction that was to have the opportunity to perform the sacred service of giving prasad to Srila Prabhupada's followers from all over the world in honour of Srila Prabhupada's disappearance festival. I think some causeless mercy has descended upon us. I think because all of you are very very sincere in your efforts, Srila Prabhupada has rewarded by giving you the chance to serve his devotees. We must be convinced, not only theoretically but practically that happiness is never an acquired, the illusory mirages of this world, real happiness can only come through service, through giving.

Thakura Bhaktivinode said - the sufferings and miseries I endure in my service to Krishna are the source of my greatest joy.

Getting prestige, popularity, followers, getting money, beautiful family, nice home, good health, these things give a very temporary superficial external sense of happiness or pleasure. But in service even if none of those things we just stated are there, in service we gain actual inner satisfaction.

Let me ask of, were you happy in seeing how blissful the devotees were getting served prasad? - HARIBOL

Who do you think was getting more inner joy - those being served and eating or those for fasting so long rendering service - huh? Would you have been happier sitting there eating?

This is Prabhupada's mercy. This is really Srila Prabhupada and Sri Radha's mercy, that we can understand this principle practically. That our real happiness is in sacrifice of service. And the more that service is unconditional and selfless the more it is a service of love, of pure love. It is that pure love of Krishna that every soul is longing for. And nothing can replace it. We must long for that love. But we have no qualification, we are so far away from the standard of unconditional love. But if we serve sincerely, with humility, and we desperately, desperately, desperately trying to chant the holy names properly then Krishna will see out efforts.

That little sparrow trying to dry up the ocean and Krishna sees if we are sincere and determined with the right purpose He will bestow that love upon us through the mercy of guru and Vaisnavas. Actually your service to the devotees during Prabhupada's festival will perhaps give faith and happiness to people all over the world, even those who are thousand's of miles away when they hear about it. It is preaching.

If we become proud we have served nicely then that pride neutralises the effect of the great benediction we received. But if we feel ourself unqualified but grateful, grateful for the causeless mercy that I was allowed to serve amongst other Vaisnavas. Soon Krishna will bestow the prime benediction of pure love within our hearts.

So I know all of you worked very hard to do this and on behalf of Srila Prabhupada, and behalf of all the leaders of the International Society for Krishna Consciousness and all the devotees who have given their lives, I very gratefully thank all of you very much. Let this be a lesson of what is of real value to the heart.

I'd like to also thank all of you for your incredible enthusiasm throughout this festival. Many of you have gotten sick, physically, and of course many thorns in your feet, much dust in your lungs. But still I didn't hear anyone complaining, everyone is just trying to get purified, trying to help all the other devotees to be happy in Vrindavana. And especially thank you for tolerating me. I honestly and sincerely do not know how you do it or why you do it but you do it.
That is some special magic of Srila Prabhupada, that he can somehow or other see his eternal resplendent divine mercy through a little piece like me, that is his inconceivable power. So I thank all of you very very much and pray that when you return to your homes and bring the real spirit of Vrindavana - selfless service and the longing for complete attachment to Sri Sri Radha-Gopinatha. And complete determination to glorify Them by hearing and chanting Their holy names.

I want to especially offer my gratitude to Malati devi mataji. She's so humble, I've learnt so much, she's one of the senior most disciples of Srila Prabhupada on the entire planet. She's one of the few people who had accessive personal direct service to Srila Prabhupada and some of the most intimate surroundings of Srila Prabhupada's mission. She's fearless, she's absolutely determined, despite inconceivable health problems, she just never gives up, never complains and never wants any credit, just happy to be amongst the devotees. My deep deep gratitude to Malati mataji for all she's done and all she's doing for Srila Prabhupada and all of us. And to Rasalila mataji who has performed very difficult service maintaining a marriage in the western world in the age of kali for so many years. This is very very outstanding preaching. And in the process to raise a child - Gaurangakishor Prabhu. Raise a child who loves Krishna, loves to preach about Krishna. Good fruits come from good trees. Thank you mataji.
And to Nartaki mataji, is she here? Such a humble devotee and how much she, she really has deep deep attachment to Krishna. To hearing about Krishna, to speaking about Krishna, to being with devotees of Krishna. She has truly been blessed deeply in her heart by Srila Prabhupada's mercy.

During this yatra we had many wonderful souls come and join us speak to us. Amongst them the shining jewel of all Vraja-vasis has come to be with us today - Dinabandhu Prabhu - HARIBOL, HARIBOL, HARIBOL!

What would be Vrindavana yatra without Dinabandhu Prabhu! His spontaneous devotion, his enthusiasm to preach the glories of Vrindavana-dhama, with his incredible knowledge and realisations, always a profound inspiration for us.
Same time he is very much involved performing great sacrifices in Prabupada's service for making Vrindavana temple for what Prabhupada wants it to be. So my gratitude to you Dinabandu Prabhu. I learnt so much from you. I hope you are all happy - HARIBOL, HARIBOL, HARIBOL!

If you are happy then my insignificant life has served some noble purpose. So I am grateful that you have given me that. Srila Prabhupada ki' jaya!

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yajante sättvikä devän
yaksha-rakshämsi räjasäh
pretän bhüta-ganämsh chänye
yajante tämasä janäh

"Men in the mode of goodness worship the demigods; those in the mode of passion worship the demons;
and those in the mode of ignorance worship ghosts and spirits." Bhagavad Gita 17:4.

Worshipping the Supreme Lord (visuddha sattwam) and the Devas (sattwa guna), worshipping powerful humans or demons (raja guna), worshipping ancestors and ghosts (tamo guna) - worship according to different modes of nature of the sadhaka.

"Those who are situated in goodness generally worship the demigods. The demigods include Brahmä, Çiva and others such as Indra, Candra and the sun-god. There are various demigods. Those in goodness worship a particular demigod for a particular purpose. Similarly, those who are in the mode of passion worship the demons. We recall that during the Second World War a man in Calcutta worshiped Hitler because thanks to that war he had amassed a large amount of wealth by dealing in the black market. Similarly, those in the modes of passion and ignorance generally select a powerful man to be God. They think that anyone can be worshiped as God and that the same results will be obtained.
            Now, it is clearly described here that those who are in the mode of passion worship and create such gods, and those who are in the mode of ignorance, in darkness, worship dead spirits. Sometimes people worship at the tomb of some dead man. Sexual service is also considered to be in the mode of darkness. Similarly, in remote villages in India there are worshipers of ghosts. We have seen that in India the lower-class people sometimes go to the forest, and if they have knowledge that a ghost lives in a tree, they worship that tree and offer sacrifices. These different kinds of worship are not actually God worship. God worship is for persons who are transcendentally situated in pure goodness. In the Çrémad-Bhägavatam (4.3.23) it is said, sattvaà viçuddhaà vasudeva-çabditam: “When a man is situated in pure goodness, he worships Väsudeva.” The purport is that those who are completely purified of the material modes of nature and who are transcendentally situated can worship the Supreme Personality of Godhead." (Srila A.C. Bhaktivedanta Swami Prabhupada. Bhagavad Gita AS IT IS 17:4. purport.)

"In the material world also, wherever the Supreme Lord is personally
present is to be understood as being the spiritual world. For example, the
Lord is worshipped in the temple by pure devotees. The Temple is therefore
to be understood as being the spiritual world." (Srimad Bhagavatam 4.11.26 Purport)

...About the web-site: What's there - how to utilize it...

We have started this web-site and news-letter for the purpose of sharing inspiration among like minded devotees, with a like interest in serving the Lord. On the site there are many topics all referenced to shastra with the express purpose of helping us all over the world to have Sadhu-sanga So we have tried to create a sacred place in Cyber-space where devotees can find refuge, can associate, gain inspiration, share inspiration, hence it is Shaligram Tirtha, a Holy Tirtha in Cyber-space. Some of you may have noticed the Warning........ it seems appropriate to some of us it be there as many devotees were feeling they didn't want to express themselves or reveal their "bhav" least people who had no such appreciation might misunderstand - misinterpret - criticise what they saw or read due to their own vision/motivation/agenda. So following the advice of shastra we are keeping our Ishthadevas hidden while sharing mutual appreciation found in rendering some small service to the Lord.

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Latest Updates & Additions @ A Glance

last updated 15th October 2004

In this section you can see all the latest additions, new picture updates of all the various devotees and Silas on the site.

We keep this page separate from the main SEARCH page so that regular nectar loving bees can quickly find their sweet flavoured source in what/Who has been recently added to the site. SEARCH and ARTICLES links and all other pages are also updated simultaneously.

for Isthadevatas and Devotees on the site

"There are no strangers, only friends we are yet to meet" (unknown author)

To all those devotees who are receivers of this first newsletter; if you still haven't sent in photos or introductory descriptions or stories for the Sila in your care, that's okay, time is not out, you can still send. We are continuously updating the pages, so your sending pictures etc is never too late. Please send.

If you have Photoshop please "save for web" to keep the size down, but if you don't have that too is okay, just send, I can "save for web" also, if that will help. If you don't have a scanner that too is no problem, please send me an e-mail and I'll give you the address where you can post (snail-mail) your photographs, and there's always disposable Fuji cameras if things get really tough...... Please also view the article by Param Seva prabhu

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This section has to be seen to be believed. We have tried, and had much success to find articles on almost every aspect of Shalagram seva pujan. All articles are clearly marked and ready for your perusal. We trust this serves you in this seva well.

The Interactive Vaishnava Calendar page of Fasts, Festivals, Functions and Feasts ( )

Now you can view the FULL years 1999-2000 & 2000-2001 & 2001-2002 & 2002-2003 & 2003-2004 & 2004-2005.
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Understanding the Festivals on the Vrindavan Calendar

The Salagram Sila - some nice information from Shastra:

Garuda Purana
Chapter Forty five

Characteristics of Salagrama

Sri Hari said:

1. Relevant to the context I shall explain the characteristics of Salagrama stone a touch of which destroys the sins of a crore of births.

2. Gadadhara (Vishnu) bearing Shankha, Chakra, Gada and Padma is called Keshava. (In this and those follow, the order of the weapons shall be preserved for the success of meditation). The supreme lord holding Abja (Padma), Kaumodaki (gada) Chakra and Shankha is Narayana.

3. Srigadadhara (Vishnu) bearing Chakra, Shankha, Abja and Gada is Madhava Gadadhara (Vishnu). He can be worshipped as Govinda wearing Gada, Abja, Shankha and Chakra.

4. Obeisance unto thee of the form of Vishnu bearing Padma, Shankha, Chakra and Gada. Obeisance to Madhusudana murti (form bearing Shankha, Abja, Gada and Chakra).

5. Obeisance unto Trivikrama (the incarnation Vamana who took three steps) bearing Gada, Chakra, Shankha and Abja. Obeisance unto Vamana murti, bearing Chakra, Kaumodaki, Padma and Shankha.

6. Obeisance unto Sridhara-murti bearing Chakra, Abja, Shankha and Gada. Obeisance unto Hrsikesha bearing Abja, Gada and Shankha and Chakra.

7. Obeisance unto thee in the form of Padmanabha bearing Abja, Chakra, Gada and Shankha. O Damodara, obeisance, obeisance unto thee bearing Shankha, Chakra, Gada and Padma.

8. Obeisance unto Vasudeva bearing Chakra, Shankha, Gada and Abja. Obeisance unto Shankarsana bearing Shankha, Abja, Chakra and Gada.

9. Obeisance to Pradyumna-murti bearing Shankha, Gada, Abja and Chakra. Obeisance unto Aniruddha bearing Gada, Shankha, Abja and Chakra.

10. Obeisance to Purusottama-murti bearing Abja, Shankha, Gada and Chakra. Obeisance unto thee in the form of Adhoksaja bearing Gada, Shankha, Chakra and Padma.

11. Obeisance unto Nrsimha-murti bearing Padma, Gada, Shankha and Chakra. Obeisance to Achyuta-murti  bearing Padma, Chakra, Shankha and Gada.

12. I invoke Janardana  here bearing Shankha, Chakra, Abja and Gada. Obeisance, obeisance unto thee, O Upendra having Gada, Chakra, Padma and Shankha.

13. Obeisance unto Hari-murti bearing Chakra, Abja, Gada and Shankha. Obeisance unto Srikrsna-murti bearing Gada, Abja, Chakra and Shankha.

14. The Salagrama stone white in colour that has two ring-like marks at the entrance is called Vasudeva. Let Lord Vishnu presiding over it protect you all.

15. The stone red in colour, having the mark of a lotus in front, with two clearly defined ring-like marks, is called Shankarsana. If it is yellow in colour with ring-like marks not clearly defined it is called Pradyumna.

16. Aniruddha stone is blue in colour; it has a long aperture at the top, it has three lines at the lateral aperture. It is circular in shape.

17. The Narayana stone is black in colour with the form of Gada in the middle, with the Chakra lines at the centre that is lifted up. The stone called Nrsimha has a stout chest and three dots. IT is tawny in colour. May it protect us.

18. Or it may have five dots. Only Brahmacharins (students) shall worship it. The Salagrama with two uneven ring-like marks is called Varahasaktilinga. May it protect us.

19. The Kurma murti is blue in colour. It has three lines. It is stout and has dots. May the stone called Krsna depressed at the back and having circular curb protect you.

20. Let the Sridhara stone marked with five lines, a garland of forest flowers and club protect us. Vamana stone is circular and short. Sureshvara stone has a ring-like mark on the left side.

21. The Anataka stone is of various colours and forms with serpentine marks. The Damodara stone is stout and of blue colour. In its middle there is a ring-like mark of deep blue colour.

22. The Brahma stone is of crimson colour. It has a small aperture. May it protect you. It has a long line and a ring-like mark and a large lotus in the aperture.

23. Hayagriva stone has a big aperture, a stout ring-like mark and dark spots. That which has five lines in the form of a goad is Kaustubha stone.

24. Vaikuntha stone is lustrous like a precious gem. It has a single ring-like mark and a lotus. It is dark in colour. The Matsyastone is of great length in the form of a lotus with lines at the aperture. May it protect you.

25. May the Trivikrama stone with ring-like mark on the left and lines on the right and dark in colour protect you. Obeisance unto the lord with Gada staying in Salagrama in Dvaraka.

26. May the Laksmi Narayana stone protect us – the stone that has one aperture with four ring-like marks, which is bedecked with garland of  flowers. It has golden lines in the form of cow's hoofs. It is of the shape of a Kadamba flower.

27. The Sudarsana class of stones is marked with a single characteristic.

28. May Vishnu presiding over it protect us. The Laksmi Narayana class is marked with two features, the Trivikrama class with three features. The Chaturvyuha class is marked with four features: the Vasudeva class with five.

29. The Pradyumna class with six and the Shankarsana class with seven. The Purusottama class is marked with eight features, the Navavyuha class with nine.

30. The Dasavatara class is marked with ten features and Aniruddha with eleven. May it protect us. The Dvadasatma class is marked with twelve features and the Ananta class with more features.

31. He who reads this prayer consisting of Vishnu's forms shall go to Heaven. Brahma is four-headed. It (the image) has a staff and two water pots.

32. That of Maheshvara has five faces, ten hands and the emblem of a bull. It has suitable weapons and the attendants Gauri, Chandika, Sarasvati.

33. And Mahalaksmi. The idol of the Sun has a lotus in the hand. The Ganadhipa has the face of an elephant. Skanda has six faces.

34. These images of the different characteristic features shall be duly worshipped and installed in mansions after duly consecrating the plot of land. Then the owner of that building shall obtain Virtue, Wealth, Fulfillment of desires, emancipation and other benefits.

1) Name of Vishnu, literally meaning ‘from whose navel comes out a lotus’

2) Name of Vishnu, more properly of Krsna because his foster mother tried to tie him up with a rope (daman) round his belly (udara).

1. Name of Vishnu, unseen Lord

2. Unfallen; a name of Vishnu or Krsna. It has been variously interpreted as signifying “he who does not perish with created things”, in the Mahabharata as “he who is not distinct from final emancipation”, and in the Skanda Purana as “he who never declines (or varies) from his proper nature”. It can also mean ‘one who is firm, one who does not yield to passions. (CDHM P. 2; SSED p. 7).

3. The adored of mankind; a name of Krsna or Vishnu; but other derivations are offered, as ‘extirpator of the wicked’ by Shankaracharya.

4. Name of Vishnu as the younger brother of Indra in his fifth or dwarf incarnations.

5. A name of Vishnu - one who takes away.

1. the indicator of the power of the Boar (incarnation of Vishnu).

2. Refers to the Tortoise incarnation of Vishnu.

3. This is supposed to be a paradise where Vishnu resides. Sometimes Vishnu is also called Vaikuntha.

4. Refers to the Fish incarnation of Vishnu.

5. Vishnu is called Trivikrama because he took three steps at the time of Tamasa-incarnation.

6. Name of Vishnu. Literally Laksmi and Narayana.

1. Anthocephalus indicus (GVDB p. 60)

2. It refers to the worship of Vishnu in four-fold forms of Vasudeva, Shankarsana, Pradyumna and Aniruddha.

3. The worship of Vishnu in the nine forms. They are, according to Garuda Purana – Vasudeva. Balarama, Kama (Pradyumna), Aniruddha, Narayana, Brahma, Vishnu, Simha (Nrsimha) and Varaha (GPEA pp. 332-3).

4. For ten incarnations of Vishnu see p. 2, fn. 6.

5. Twelve forms of Vishnu, to be worshipped in each month of the year, viz., Keshava, Narayana, Madhava, Trivikrama, Vamana, Sridhara, Pradyumna, Hrsikesha, Padmanabha, Damodara and Aniruddha.

6. Siva.

7. Ganesha.

Srila A.C. Bhaktivedanta Swami Prabhupada's words of encouragement:
(These words are so to the point and so instructive that I have to leave them here for this newsletter to. In fact I can't share them or tell enough people of the simple genius of these words. Mutual appreciation and equilateral acceptance of service for Krishna. It truly makes a "house in which the whole world can live peacefully.")

In a letter of June 12, 1974, to Sri Govinda dasa in Chicago, Srila Prabhupada stressed book distribution and stated that other programs should be minimized. After this letter had been distributed to various temples, several devotees wrote to Prabhupada asking whether they should actually cut back on other existing programs like Deity worship and other outside kinds of preaching. Prabhupada replies stressed the absolute nature of any Krsna consciousness service.

"The thing is we should have a little common sense in all activities. The example can be given that women by nature do not forget to dress very nicely although always engaged in household affairs. Deity worship or lecturing in the colleges is just as important as book distribution. So these things must be done very nicely, and at the same time, book distribution should be done. Not that we should do one thing at the sacrifice of another. That requires a little common sense. Factually, we should be engaged twenty-four hours in Krsna's service and everything should be done very nicely and perfectly."
Letter of January 2, 1975

"Regarding your question about the controversial talks going on, this kind of talk is not befitting my advanced students. This is childish. In Krsna's service, there is no inferior and superior. Deity worship is just as important as book distribution. It is not material...You should understand the importance of each and every item of devotional service. Do not make any misunderstanding by devaluating any of the spiritual activities...One who distinguishes a particular type of service as inferior or superior, he does not know the value of devotional service. It is all transcendental. Whatever item is suitable, that is accepted as very elevated. Just like Maharaja Pariksit. He simply listened to Sukadeva Gosvami. That is sravanam...So any devotee executing any one of the nine items is transcendentally glorious. One devotee may be proud that his process of service is best. That is not inglorious. This is called transcendental competition. Every one should feel proud of his particular type of devotional service. But that does not mean that other types of service are inferior. Everyone should feel proud of becoming a sincere servant of Krsna, but the pure devotee never minimizes the importance of other devotees. Krsna is the enjoyer of varieties of service. It is not stuck up with any particular type of service."
Letter of January 19, 1975

- From the Nectar by HH Satsvarupa Dasa Goswami

Don't think that the Deity is idol

When Srila Prabhupada himself installed Deities for the first time in ISKCON - small brass Radha-Krishna Deities, in Los Angeles, on July 16, 1969 - at the end of his class he said:
    If you think it is a brass-made doll, I mean to say, idol- ye yatha mam prapadyante tams tathaiva bhajamy aham - if you think this is a brass-made idol, then it will remain a brass-made idol to you forever. But if you elevate yourself to a higher platform of Krishna Consciousness, then Krishna, this Krishna, will talk with you. This Krishna will talk with you.
    There is a Vamsidas Babaji Maharaja, he was talking with his Deity, and the Madana-Mohana Deity - He was talking with Sanatana Goswami. Sanatana Goswami at that time had no temple: he was hanging his Deity on the tree. So Madana-Mohana was talking with him: "Sanatana, you are bringing all these dry chapatis, And it is stale, and you don't give Me even little salt. How can I eat?"
Sanatana Goswami said, " Sir, where shall I go? Whatever I get I offer You. You kindly accept. I cannot move: I am an old man."
You see. So Krishna had to eat that [chuckles]. Because the bhakta is offering, He cannot refuse. Ye mam bhaktya prayacchati: real thing is bhakti. What you can offer to krishna? Everything belongs to Krishna. What you have got? what is your value? And what is the value of your things? It is nothing. Therefore real thing is bhaktya, real thing is your feeling. " Krishna, kindly take it. I have no qualification. I am most rotten, fallen, but [begins to cry] I have brought this thing for you. Please take it." This will be accepted. Don't be puffed up. Always be careful. You are dealing with Krishna. That is my request. Thank you very much.

- From the "Srila Prabhupada is coming!" by HG Mahamaya Devi Dasi

If you want to introduce anyone else in reading Srila Prabhupada Nectars, please send their eMail addresses to

Sila Katha - Swadhyaya...


Chandidasa was born in the village of Nanura, which is also in the same Birbhum district of Bengal as Jayadeva Goswami's birthplace. He was born of a brahmana family, and it is said that he also took birth in the beginning of the Fourteenth Century, Sakabda Era. It has been suggested that Chandidasa and Vidyapati were great friends because the writings of both express the transcendental feelings of separation profusely, Before his conversion to Vaisnavism however, Chandidasa was a materialist who worshipped goddess Chandi, or Durga (hence the name Chandidasa), one very ferocious form of Kali. In his purport to Srimad-Bhagavatam 5.18.22 Srila Prabhupada comments,

"...The goddess of fortune, Laksmidevi, clearly states that she does not bestow her favor on any materialistic person. Although sometimes a materialist becomes very opulent in the eyes of another materialist, such opulence is bestowed upon him by the goddess Durgadevi, a material expansion of the goddess of fortune, not by Laksmidevi herself."

Chandidasa coined a mantra which is even today used by worshippers of Durgadevi: dhanang deji roopang dehi roopa-pati-bhaajang dehi. "O worshippable Mother Durgadevi, please give me wealth, strength, fame, a good wife and so on." So Chandidasa was engaged in Durga worship, and naturally when one worships Durga, so much material facility. He had a big garden, and a palace. Chandidasa's brother was a Vaishnava engaged in salagram worship. Vaishnavas were generally quite poor. The Vaishnava brother had a salagram, but he had no flower to offer. So he would look in his brother's garden, and he would lust over it. "So many flowers, and my salagram gets no flower." One day while he was looking at the garden, he mentally offered a flower from that garden to his salagram. And somehow or other, Chandidas picked the very same flower the next day, and he offered to Chandi.

Immediately she appeared. "I am pleased with you, Chandidas. What benediction do you want?"

Chandi said, "Wait, every day I am worshipping you. Why today have you suddenly become present? Tell me that." "Because," she said, "You have offered me the flower which has been offered to Salagram. By seeing that prasadam flower I became pleased, so I appeared before you." "But if salagram is superior to you," Candidas said, "Why did you not tell me, stupid Chandidas, why are you worshipping me? You should worship Salagram." So Chandi said, "Well you never asked me who was Supreme. Did you ever ask me? I would have given you reply. I know who is Supreme, Krsna is Supreme, and Salagram is the worshippable object, not me. But because you were at least worshipping me, so I thought I would train you in worship. And when you find out who is to be worshipped, then you will actually worship properly."

So Chandidas when he heard this, said, "I'm really sorry that I've wasted my life. Please excuse me, I'm going to worship Salagram. Is that alright?" No no, I'm happy! Go worship Salagram," Chandi said. And then in lamentation, Chandidas wrote many songs, and Chaitanya Mahaprabhu used to listen to these songs and get ecstasy.

Raidas: A Poet Saint

Raidas also known as Ravidas, was a cobbler by caste and started shoe-making as a child he made beautiful shoes for mendicants. Peace-loving and humble Raidas preached his doctrines without commenting on those who differed.

He was a strict monotheist and preached that God was accessible to all. To Raidas God alone could grant redemption from our sins and passions.

Raidas was known as a saint as well as a poet. The author of Bhaktambala, Nadhadasa, laid that Raidas was skilled "in untying the knots of doubt". Bridge also thinks that Raidas "was of even purer faith than Kabir." But, there was not much difference in their views regarding social or religious reforms.

Raidas did not write any treatise but composed only devotional songs or bhajans which were highly literary. These songs have been compiled by is disciples and many have been included in the Granth Saheb.

To quote the last four lines from his `pada' "Tohi mohimohi tohi antar kaisa" it says: Thou O Lord, are the Searcher of hearts,
Though the servants of God, we know God.
Grant me, O Lord that my body may be Thy Shrine.

Few, O Ravidas, see God in everything. Raidas hailed from Varanasi this sect in North India, especially Uttar Pradesh, well-known as Ravindasis. They were Hindus and comprised of tanners and shoemakers. They also called themselves Adi Hindus. They are not looked down upon, though intermarriages and interdining with higher Hindu castes are not allowed. The community ranks in numbers next to Ramanandis and Kabirpanthis. There are two sects among the Vaishnavites, one worshipping Krishna and the other Rama, both regarded as the incarnations of Vishnu. Ramananda, Kabir and Raidas belonged to the latter school of thought. Raidas's compositions from part of the collections of hymns and prayers sung by his sect at Varanasi.

From Bhaktamala Ramananda, a Brahmachari gave offerings to the deity. Once he found it difficult to concentrate. He suspected some defect in the offerings. On inquiring, he found that the source of offering was not pure Ramananda exclaimed "Ha Chamar." The Brahmachari soon passed away and was born again as Raidas, the son of a cobbler.

The infant nursed the anger refuse to take any feeds. The anxious parents approached Ramananda. Immediately he recognises the baby. He whispers a mantra into the child's ear and the child takes its feeds and grows to be of Rama Bhakt.

Raidas trade flourishes. Once he suffers loss and he is aim great distress. God in the disguise of a Vaishnava comes and presents him with a philosopher's stone telling him its virtues. Raidas does not attach any importance to it real treasure is the name of God, he days. Odd shower gold coins. But Ramdax he is not moved. Then God appears in his dream and advises him to use the money to erect a temple. Raidas becomes the priest.

People complaint to the King against him. To Calamities will befall if an outcast worships and distributes prasad they say.

The King orders the `Salagram' to be brought, and it is placed on a cushion in the assembly of Brahmins. The Brahmins vie with each other and try to remove it by chanting mantras and hymns. All in vain. Raidas chants his `pada' And lo! The Salagram flies into his arms. The King is convinced Raidas's magnanimity as a saint is establishment.

Thali, the Rani of the disciples of Raidas Chitere. The Brahmins protested. Raidas requests her to invite the Brahmins to a feast. When they sit to eat to their amazement, between every two Brahmins there appears a Raidas! This miraculous multiplication of himself convince the Brahmins of his greatness. They become his disciples.

More Saintly devotees found here:

Salagram kosha
by SK Ramachandra Rao
Chapter Two
Legends about Salagrama

There are the following legends concerning the origin of the sacred stones recounted in the Puranas.

Gandaki, a pious lady of undaunted will, performed severe austerities in the Himalayan heights. The strange purpose of her penance was to obtain all the gods as her offsprings. At long last, the austerities were appreciated, and the three principle gods, Brahma the creator, Vishnu the preserver, and Rudra the destroyer, appeared before her, and asked her to choose a boon that she desired most. Gandaki forthwith expressed the wish that they should be born as her own children in order to make all the people on earth happy and prosperous ('suckham daatum janaanaam').

The Gods, however, demurred. How could the immortal gods be born as offsprings of a human mother? It was unthinking of this ambitious woman, who little understood the nature of gods. The three principal gods pleaded with her that she should not press for this unreasonable and impossible boon; and asked her to express some other desire of hers which they would satisfy.

But Gandaki insisted that her only wish was to have these gods as her children. When the gods flatly refused to grant this boon, she became indignant and cursed them to become lowly worms ('kita-yonim prapadyeyaah'). The gods thereupon got angry and cursed her to become a dark and inert river on earth. She had thoughtlessly cursed the very gods who were pleased with her peanances and had appeared only to grant her desires; she was most unreasonable in her demands and was unworthy of human  form.

This curse laid by the woman and the counter-curse by the three principal gods naturally sent strong waves of concern among the gods. The woman had acquired great and occult power owing to the penances that she had performed, and her curse would not go in vain. And the curse of the three great gods would certainly bear fruit. She would become a river, and all the gods would become lowly worms ! There was unprecedented consternation ('mahaan kolaahalah') among the celestial denizens, whose glory and might would soon be lost irrevocably.

They all rushed to Brahma, the creator, and begged him to intervene and prevent the catestrophe ('brahman traahi mahaa-shapaadanyonya-patitaad krudhaa'). Brahma, unable to think of a solution, took them to Rudra. Rudra, however, told them; "Brahma is only creator, and I am but a destroyer. Help can come from neither of us. It is Vishnu who is the preserver; to protect us from misfortune would therefore be his task. Let us then approach Vishnu".

When the gods headed by Rudra and Brahma approached Vishnu for a solution, the resourceful god reassured them; "I do have a solution. The curse cannot be undone; they have to run their course. But there is a plan whereby the curse and the counter-curse can be pressed for the good of mankind, whose welfare must be the chief concern of all the gods. Our curse on Gandaki has already taken shape. She has become a river, rendered holy by her austerities, in the Himalayan region. Two of my attendant-devotees, the holy brahmanas, have had to assume the forms of marine monsters ('graha-matangau'), owning to some curse. I will liberate their spirits and enter their cadaver (kalevara). When their corpses decay and shrivel, you gods can become  worms born out of the bone-marrow and fat of the withering cadaver, and enter into the stoney parts of the cadaver. Although worms, you willhave admantine bodies, and hence you will be known as 'vajra-kita'. I will immerse the cadaver of marine monsters, into which I would have entered, in the river Gandaki. And when  you appear as worms inside the cadaverous recesses, you would be regarded as the offsprings of the river Gandali. Thus Gandaki's curse that you should be born as worms would come true; and she would also have the satisfaction of having you as her children, for this was the boon that she asked for"

Vishnu indicated also the precise spot where this drama would be enacted. The river Gandaki began flowing ten yojanas (80 miles) distant on the southern side of the Himalayan mountains. There was a part of this river known as Chakra-tirtha, which was especially holy and dear to the  gods. The cadavers of Vishnu's attendant - devotees would be placed here, and the gods would appear as Vajra-kitas in them. Vishnu himself would appear as a disc (chakra) in Dvaaravati, and mingle with the gods in the river Gandaki. A bath in this spot, and worship of the fossilized gods inscribed with the mark of Vishnu's discus would make for instant emancipation.

Thus the Salagram stones were formed out of the cadaverous fossils, inhabited by the gods as worms (vajra-kita) and by Vishnu in the form of discus (chakra). This legend occurs in the 'Asura-khanda' section of the Skanda purana.

Thus ends Chapter Two:

Chapter One - What are Salagrams 1- 26

Chapter Three - Vishnu and His Forms
Chapter Four - Details of Shaalagraama page 107 - 136.
Chapter Five - Identification of Shaalagraama pages 137 - 174.

Salagram Kosha  - SK Ramachandra Rao. 1996. Kalpatharu Research Academy, Bangalore India.

Sri Tulasi - Salagram Vivaha
27th November 2004 in New  Zealand
(check locally for your events calendar)

Appearance Of Shalagrama And Tulasi

by Padma Nabha Gosai of Radha Raman temple Vrindavan

Shastric evidence from Sri Hari-bhakti-vilas

The following history of the appearance of Shalagram and Tulasi is from the Brahma-vaivarta Purana. Though the description there is quite elaborate, we are presenting it here in brief.

There was once a king named Vrsadhvaja who, despite arriving in a dynasty of pious Vaishnava kings, was strictly devoted to Lord Shiva. He had no faith in Lord Vishnu or any of the demigods, and even began to criticize the worship of Lord Vishnu. Seeing the offensive behavior of Vrishadhvaja, Suryadeva cursed him to lose all his wealth and power. He and two generations of his descendants thus became destitute until the appearance of Dharmadhvaja. - Dharmadhvaja and his wife very devotedly worshiped Lakshmidevi to gain her favor and thus a plenary portion of Lakshmi entered his wife's womb.

On Kartika Purnima at a time marked with every auspicious sign, the wife of Dharmadhvaja, Madhavi, gave birth to a very beautiful daughter. She was decorated with all fortunate signs and grew to be an exquisitely beautiful young girl never aging beyond sixteen years. Her beauty stole the mind and heart of everyone, and being impossible to compare her with anyone else, She became known as Tulasi (matchless). - Leaving home, Tulasi went to Badrivan where she performed severe penance's with a desire in her mind that Lord Narayana himself become her husband. Pleased with her austerities, Brahmaji appeared before her and asked what boon she desired. Tulasi explained to him, "In my pervious birth, I was a gopi named Tulasi. By my wonderful good fortune, I was able to became the very dearly beloved maid servant of Lord Krishna. One day in the rasa-mandala, Radharani angrily cursed me to be born on the earth in human society. Thus leaving my divine body, I have taken my birth on the earth in this present form.

Now I desire the boon of attaining Lord Narayana as my husband." - Lord Brahma replied, "There was one cowherd boy named Sudama who also received Radharani's curse to be born on the earth. By that curse he has been born in the family of demons and is now famous on the earth as Sankhacuda. He has done extreme penance's to attain certain boons and to get you as his wife. Thus in this life he will become your husband for some time. Later by the influence of lila you will curse Lord Narayana, but accepting your curse, Lord Narayana will then become your husband. Lord Vishnu will love you more dearly than His own life, and without your presence all puja will be fruitless. By my boon, becoming the presiding deity of all the trees, you will freely enjoy unlimited happiness in the constant association of Lord Vishnu." - Sankhachuda, receiving his desired benedictions along with an all-auspicious protective shield (kavaca) from Lord Brahma, came to Badrivan where he met Tulasi. As they were conversing with each other, Lord Brahma appeared on the spot and said, " Sankhachuda, please accept this young maiden as your wife."

Turning to Tulasi he told her, "After the death of Sankhachuda, you will obtain Lord Vishnu as your husband." - The other boon that sankhachuda received from Lord Brahma was that as long as the chastity of his wife was not violated, no one would be able to kill him. Thus becoming very arrogant, he began to terrorize all the demigods and human beings. Severely afflicted by his attacks, the demigods approached Lord Shiva and begged him to protect them. Then Lord Shankara went there and personally began to fight with Sankhachuda. - Meanwhile, Lord Vishnu made a plan to destroy the chastity of Tulasi. While Lord Shiva and Sankhachuda were ferociously fighting, Lord Hari in the form of a brahmana arrived on the battlefield. He said to Sankhachuda, "Please give your kavaca in charity to me, a brahmana." Then Sankhachuda immediately gave Him the kavaca in charity . That same Lord Hari, disguising Himself as Sankhachuda then went to see Tulasi.

Deceiving her in this way, He began to enjoy with her as if He were her husband and thus broke her chastity. - The Bhavisya Purana goes on for great length to point out that there was certainly no fault on Lord Vishnu's part. He wanted to maintain the benediction given by His devotee Lord Brahma to Sankhachuda, and at the same time He wanted to protect the demigods and devotees. For this purpose He created this particular pastime with the appearance of improper behavior. But since Tulasi is the plenary part of Lakshmidevi, she is actually the wife of Lord Vishnu. - At that very moment Sankaraji killed Sankhachuda on the battlefield. When Tulasi understood all that had happened, she said, "By deceiving me, you have broken my chastity, and killed my husband. You're absolutely stone hearted! Thus I curse you to remain on earth as a stone!" - Lord Hari said, "For many years you underwent very difficult penance's to achieve Me. At the same time, Sankhchuda has also done severe penance's to get you. By the result of his austerity, he enjoyed you as his wife and has now gone to Goloka.

Now you will get the fruit of your penance's. Leaving this mortal body and taking a divine form, you will always remain with Me. Your present body shall turn into the river Gandaki, and from your hair will grow many trees famous as Tulasi.

To fulfill your curse, I will become a stone (Shalagram-shila) and will always live on the banks of the Gandaki River. The millions of worms who live in that place will adorn those stones with the sign of My cakra by carving them with their sharp teeth." After this Lord Vishnu began do dwell perpetually in the waters of the Gandaki River in the form of stones.

According to the Gautamiya Tantra, "a stone from any place other than the Gandaki River in Nepal can never be a Shalagram Sila." In Sri Hari-bhakti-vilas it is stated, "merely by touching a genuine Shalagram Sila one becomes free from the sins of millions of births, so what to speak of worshiping Him. By puja of Shalagram Sila one gains the direct association of Lord Hari." The Skanda Purana states that, "a genuine Shalagram Sila is directly a manifestation of the Supreme Lord Vishnu and does not require any installation."

It is further stated that, "the sale or purchase of a Shalagram Sila is strictly prohibited. Anyone who attempts to determine the material value of a Shalagram Sila will live in hell until the end of the universe. The area within a radius of twenty-four miles from where a Shalagram Sila is worshiped is considered a holy place (tirtha). Anyone who sees, bathes, worships, or bows to a Shalagram Sila will receive the same piety as doing millions of sacrifices and giving millions of cows in charity."

"Without having accumulated pious activities, it is very difficult to find a Shalagram Sila in this world, especially in the age of Kali-yuga." In the Padma Purana it is stated, "if a devotee who is properly initiated in prescribed mantras does the puja of Shalagram Sila, he will attain the Supreme Lord's spiritual abode without a doubt."

Sastric evidence from Sri Hari-bhakti-vilas translated by Sri Padmanabha Goswami, Sri Radha-ramana Temple, Vrindavan, U.P., India.

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Kshira-chora Gopinath

The Kshira-chora Gopinath temple courtyard

The Kshira Chora Gopinath temple is located in Remuna. It is a small town located 9-km east of Balasore, about halfway between Calcutta and Puri . The name "Remuna" is derived from the word "Ramaniya" which means very beautiful.

It is said that Sri Rama carved 'Gopinath' with His arrow and that Sita worshiped this deity in Chitrakut. King Langula Narasingha Dev, the king of Orissa, brought this Deity to Remuna in the 13th century from Chitrakut. This king also arranged to have dug the two big tanks, 'Brajapokhari' and 'Kutapokhari'.

Sri Gopinatha is the Deity who stole sweet-rice for 'Madhavendra Puri'. Being worshiped on the altar with Sri Gopinatha are Sri 'Madana Mohana', Sri 'Govinda', 'Radha-Rasabihari', and 'Chaitanya Mahaprabhu' with Lord 'Jagannatha' on one side and numerous 'Shalagram-Shilas' on the other side.

Lord Gopinatha, flanked by Sri Govinda and Sri Madana Mohana, is made of black stone. Sri Gopinatha stands in bas-relief. Govinda and Madana Mohana, who were brought from Vrindavana in about 1938 by a devotee named "Chaitanya Dasa Babaji", are free standing.

One can get delicious 'Kshira' here call 'Amrita-Keli'. The Gopinatha Kshira is a preparation of condensed milk, sugar, and cream, with a sprinkling of raisins. It comes in pots of various sizes, which are personally tasted by Lord Gopinatha Himself. Sri Gopinatha is known as "Kshira Chora Gopinatha" because He stole and hid a pot of 'Kshira' out of love for Madhavendra Puri. 'Chora' means thief.

The Temple's Renovation
'Rasikananda' renovated the present temple, after the prior temple built by king 'Gajapati' Maharaja 'Langula Deva' was destroyed by Muslim invaders. Rasikananda found the Gopinatha Deity in a pond 4-km from the temple, where Gopinatha was hidden to protect him from being destroyed by the Muslim king. Rasikananda was the foremost disciple of 'Syamananda', who helped transport the important writings of the 'Goswamis' from Vrindavana to Bengal. The 'Samadhi' tomb of Rasikananda 'Prabhu' is near the temple.

In the temple room one will find many pictures of Chaitanya Mahaprabhu's pastimes, as well as a picture of the 'Pancatattva' over the main altar.

The 'Pujaris' every morning bathe and dress the Deities in full view of the congregated devotees. Each day a few hundred pilgrims come to this temple, and on Sundays up to a thousand people visit. The temple is located about a half a km from the village of Remuna. Western devotees are allowed in the temple.

During "Chandana-Yatra", the Deities are smeared with cooling sandalwood pulp ('Chandana'). The temple priests apply 'Chandana' to the chest of the temples' three Krishna Deities-Madana-Mohana, Govinda and Gopinatha. On 'Aksayatritiya' the Deities' entire bodies are smeared with sandalwood.

The Legend Of The Deity
Over 500 years ago Madhavendra Puri was going to Puri to get some scented sandalwood to bring to his Sri Gopal Deity in Vrindavana. When he stopped at Remuna and saw Sri Gopinath, his heart was filled with devotion and joy. When he saw the delicious 'Kshira' offered to the Deity he desired to taste some so he could offer the same preparation to "Sri Gopal". Madhavendra Puri would only accept food that was offered to him. Because he was not offered any of the 'Kshira' he left the temple without tasting it.

After finishing the worship to Gopinath the 'Pujari' took rest. In a dream Gopinath told him to get up and take the pot of 'Kshira' that He had hidden under His garments and to give it to Madhavendra Puri. The 'Pujari' got up and found the sweet rice and brought it to Madhavendra Puri. The 'Pujari' told him "For you Sri Gopinath has stolen 'Kshira'. There is no other fortunate man like you." This is how the Deity got the name Kshira Chora Gopinath.

Madhavendra Puri established an Ashram in Remuna and stayed there for some time. The wooden sandals of Madhavendra Puri are worshiped in this Ashram.

When Lord Chaitanya came here, flowers from the body of the Deity fell down on His head. Sri Chaitanya then danced in overwhelming joy.

In the area the other places one can visit include the Samadhi of Madhavendra Puri, the Samadhi of 'Rasikananda Prabhu' (inside the Gopinatha temple compound), and a Shiva temple where "Gargamuni" is said to have had his ashram. Near the Gopinatha temple there is a Jagannatha temple and a few other temples.

Rail: The nearest train junction to Remuna is at Balasore, which is the first major town in Orissa coming from Calcutta . One can get a night train from Calcutta that stops in Balasore in the early morning hours. From there one can get a taxi or bus to Remuna. If one has arrived Remuna in the morning, one can see the Deities and then catch a night train to Puri .

Road: There are regular buses from Balasore to Remuna.

Remuna is a very small village, so there are not many places to stay. There is a small guesthouse near the temple that has a few basic rooms with private bath. There is a guesthouse built by a religious lady with fairly nice facilities for those who want to stay overnight in Remuna to see the Deities. There is a good assortment of hotels in the nearby towns of Balasore and Chandipur.

Directed by divine command

The salagrama garland ... where royalty obeyed the deity.

THE PADMAVATHI Samedha Sri Srinivasa Perumal Temple at Keelkattalai is rather unique for the simple reason that devotees have been directed by divine command in implementing certain tasks. The temple at 1A, Rajendra Nagar, (Ph: 22478640)closer to Keelkattalai bus terminus, has shrines for Padmavathi Thayar, Sri Rama, Sri Sudarsanar and Sri Narasimhar along with Sri Ganesa.

The local aasthikas of Keelkattalai had formed Sri Vishnu Sahasranama Parayana Mandali and the group has been chanting Vishnu Sahasranamam on Sundays (for the past 435 weeks).

One of the devotees had a dream in which Lord Srinivasa instructed her to donate the vacant site she owned for constructing a temple for Him.

A temple was constructed with the help of philanthropists and devotees' contribution and the Maha Samprokshanam was held on April 29.

Recently, the founder secretary A. R. Sarangapani had a dream for three consecutive days in which Lord Srinivasa appeared and asked him to offer 108 Salagramam mala to be obtained from the King of Nepal Gyanendra Bir Bikram Shah Dev. The devotee decided to make an effort and wrote to the King of Nepal describing his dream.

After three months, a parcel with 108 Salagramams arrived from the King of Nepal. The awestruck devotee made arrangements to string the Salagramams in plated gold. This was accomplished and on May 14 and after special puja and thirumanjanam the Salagrama mala adorned the neck of Lord Srinivasa amidst the chanting the veda parayanams and prayers of hundreds of devotees.

Sawaman Shalagram Temple in Vrindavan

The Deities of Rama, Laksman and Sita are worshipped in this temple. Rewa Naresh built this temple. There are two large shalagram shilas in this temple and that is why the temple is called Sawaman Shalagram Temple. These two shalagrams were brought from the bed of the Gandaki River in Bihar and are known to be the two biggest shalagrams in Vrindavana. This temple is close to the Radha Syamasundara Temple.

How To Get Here This temple is across the street and slightly down the road from the Syamasundara Temple. It is very close to Loi Bazaar and most shop keepers in Loi Bazaar will know where it is located. You first get on the street, across from Mahesh Cloth Shop, going toward the Radha Damodara temple. You then walk about 40m (120 ft) and this temple is on the right.

Shri Saligram

Saligram is essentially a vaishnava symbol of Lord Vishnu without which no pooja can ordinarily take place. As the legend goes, Shani or Saturn wanted to descend on Lord Vishnu. But before doing so, he announced that he would locate the Lord even if he hides anywhere, assuming any form. Accepting the challenge, the Lord assumed the form of Saligram rock on the banks of the River Gandaki. Shani tried in vain to blast the rock. Then in the form of a diamond bumble-bee he tried for years to drill the rock to penetrate and see whether the Lord was hiding somewhere inside.  Here again he was not successful. Tired and frustrated he gave up his efforts and left, once for all. The dust particles of the rock which was the Lord himself,  fell into the sacred  River Gandaki  and took the form of shell fishes. Therefore, the Saligram though looks like a pebble or a marble with a smooth surface, it is a shell of a fish in the River Gandaki in Nepal and except in a particular locality nowhere else it is available on this earth.  Now this shell-fish is regarded as a rare specie and is protected from the wanton killing by unscrupulous people.

Some correspondence:

Mayapur’s forest people worship The Ugra in style
17th October 2004
....from our foreign correspondent His Holiness Bhaktisiddhanta Swami

   After HH Sridhar Swami left this world, his beautiful Ugra Nrsimha salagrams and installed Ugra went to New Vraja Dhama in Hungary, for that was the desire of the maharaja. The Ugra stanu deity stands within a bursting golden pillar with four sides splitting away, for this Feirce Form of the Lord has come to view for one reason only.

  However, this deity found a grhasta community farm setting, outside the original dhamas not a suitable ground to reside, and immediately on the first day of worship, created problems for the devotees who attempted to worship Him. Sivarama Swami concluded that perhaps, He wanted to go to Mayapur to the land of Audarya and be close to the samadhi of His servant. So Bhaktya Vidya Purna Swami, in one sense brought Him back to ‘this very home’.

In the library of the gurukuli, daily worship of  Giriraja and Sri Salagram is performed, around 15 salagrams and the Ugra’s have Their own table to the right as you walk in. As in the big temple, separate offerings are made and Everyone is quite happy at this arrangement. Not only is Sri Ugra finally able to express a more merciful feature, He is now tasting some unique delicacies by our transcendental forest residents.

As you may know, the partial flooding in Mayapur has at least surrounded the new gurukula compound which buildings have been expertly terraced, standing above the flood water level, and by visiting, one steps into another yuga. Daily fresh organic vegetables and grains are brought in by boat to offer to the deities.
And what these devotees cook up for Their Lordships, only a blessed casual visitor will know is a unique experience. Simple grains, dhal and subji, but you know what is ‘the special’?… is the liquid burfi, keer, sweet rice, cooked within all earthen natural utensils with cow dung as a fuel. It has a veteran history of over 30 years of recipe development. If you hold the pot of this ‘varuni yuga sweet’ upside down….that’s right you won’t lose a drop. Now after offering this to the Lords of Mayapur, one has never tasted such healthy and legally intoxicating foodstuffs in any kitchen anywhere, one meal lasts the whole day.

Now I can understand now why These Lords created such a fuss in a foreign land, to make a point that They not only wanted to be worshipped in Mayapur, but They knew also that those ‘forest people’ were making that ‘time tested ambrosial sweet rice’. Arrangements are developing to supply the other camps of salagram Lords in the city across the water…for the word has gotten out….

Leaving the land of Sri Shaligram by bus…the best defense is an offense?!

On the last trip to Nepal I caught a heavy duty flu due to colder weather, resulting with real headache and sinus meditations. Because there was a civil war going on there, there are government soldiers that inspect each bus at different intervals, getting on and the bus at the check points(looking for weapons). Somehow or other I had around 200 salagrams to give to our Sila Guri temple and most of the rest to go to Vrindaban, and I had purposely taken the land route out of the country to avoid unnecessary exchanges with government officials. At one of the final check points, this soldier came on board, looking for possible bags left behind and stood next to my seat unnoticed by me(the rest of the passengers had already gotten off the bus but foreigners could remain on board) and suddenly I had a unexpected call in nature to clear the sinuses in a rather dramatic way, and eventually I happened to look around to find this shocked soldier, inches away, with a submachine gun strapped across his torso, take his hat off quickly and put it over his face and scurry off the bus into the sand bag command post for shelter. I was thinking “Ah come on it wasn’t that bad…”, a little monk scaring a big soldier so. I thought well maybe he knew something that I didn’t and sure enough, a few days later I understood why he was so fanatical (it was a killer headache flu…the worst one that I have ever had)...... So if you are ever in the 3rd world area and you are in a jam, a sickness can even repel unwanted persons. Here ‘the best defense was the unexpected offense’.

Your overseas correspondent…Bhaktisiddhanta Swami

The Sacred Gandaki - by Aisvarya dasa

The US Presidential debates were a million miles away along with the war on terrorism, gay marriage rights and the emerging middle class dollar. The putrid stench of scandal hungry gutter tabloids ceased to exist. Shopping centers and shopping carts, computer gaming, SUVs and even non-SUVs were initially conspicuous by their absence but gradually dissolved into nothing worth thinking about. The hustle and bustle of the modern world became insignificant in the face of this different and more lasting kind of reality.

They say that austerity is the wealth of the Brahmanas. Yogis, Sages, and Ascetics have been coming to the mountains in search of something relevant for at least as long as time has been recorded. They have left their mark in interlinking caves cut into rocky mountainsides. But these humble dwellings have been abandoned for years as our ascetic friends have withdrawn further and further into no-mans-land in the face of a new kind of unwholesome searching - the wanderlust of a growing wanton tourist industry.

Trekking the Annapurna range has been in vogue for a few decades so many of the footpaths that link villages in the remote areas of Mustang have become increasingly worn by the constant crunching of leather hiking boots. Guest Houses, fully equipped for the comfort-traveler, have sprung up like mushrooms even in remote areas among weathered and tattered buildings, goatherds and wind blasted rocks. The simple folk of the mountains have been transformed, almost overnight, into money-conscious entrepreneurs whose only concern is to extract as many rupees from the western middle-class as possible. Their main objective: to cruise through the forthcoming winters as comfortably as possible. Things have changed: Globalism has arrived amongst the timeless Himalayan ranges.

But the overwhelming reality, the thing that takes one's mind off Nepali lasagnas, burritos or even (believe it or not) traditional Dhal Bhats - all of which are unceasingly solicited to weary backpackers - is the awesome power of nature that hangs over our every step in this barren land. It reduces our futile material activities to the significance of an ant colony's daily business.

The Holy Kali Gandaki River lies in a gorge that is a part of the Annapurna trekking circuit; being as it's the deepest valley in the world and therefore desirable to conquer and get a t-shirt printed saying "I did it". In one sense it's a blessing in that this holy place has become easily accessible for pilgrims. But in another sense it's sad for the worst side of Westernism is again making an impact in an otherwise simple agrarian culture.

On the way from the Kali Gandaki riverbed to Muktinath there is a place high in the hills, a place where if you stop and breathe all you can hear is your breath. I had forgotten about this place in the three years since I last came, but now I was re-immersed in the same thoughts I had then. Such a complete silence in such a vast place is so soothing to the soul. Most of us spend every waking and sleeping moment hearing something, whether externally or internally: so much white noise. But when I stop for a moment and listen to this silence I can't help feeling peaceful enough to think clearly. The ascetics had something going.

In Muktinath is a temple where a beatuful brass Deity of Lord Narayana resides. The pujari is a Buddhist whose very devoted to this Form of Visnu. She and her friends perform the puja for the summer months but when winter arrives all human beings leave this high altitude (3800m) for warmer climes and it's said that the Demigods take over the seva.

And in the midst of all this, there I was again rushing in a gumsha to get as fast as I could around the 108 taps that pour the freezing ice-cold waters of the River Muktinath on brave or mad pilgrims. These taps and a couple of subsequent small kundas circle the tiny temple of Muktinath. And what's all the austerity for?... to beg the Lord for some relief from the cycle of birth and death and grab some of that mukti stuff. By the time I reached the end of the tap yajna my heart was palpitating but there was still the two kundas of ice water to dip in before the parikrama was complete.  Somehow or other, call it mercy or call it numbness (depending on if you're a devotee or a demon), dipping in those two kundas were warmer than the taps and both RS (my partner in crime) and I shocked the temple guards by completing the tapasya not only in white bodies but also without shivering.

But the greater austerity was yet to come.

Back down at 2800m, walking slowly along a wide section of the Gandaki's mainly exposed riverbed, were two lone figures who would often crouch, pick up what seemed like stones, place them back or put them in a bead bag or show them to each other or wash them off in one of the many streams that the Gandaki had turned into as it flowed through the wider parts of the valley; and then continue as if everything was normal. These two souls' activities would, to the untrained eye, seem rather strange to say the least - and I must admit that there were a few untrained eyes of passer-bys casually making their way either to Kagbeni or Jomsom on business or pleasure with either backpacks, goats, donkeys or mustang horses for company, who would occasionally glance over to see what was up with the two...whatever-they-be... in the riverbed. But what made the scene even more bizarre was that these two...
whatever-they-be... were out there totally exposed to the elements after midday; a time when the winds that blow up the Gandaki Valley reach such a great velocity that one has a hard time even standing up let alone functioning at a human level. Planes stop flying to and from Jomsom after midday; mules, goats and men find shelter; the elements take over; but still these two - you know the saying... mad dogs and Englishmen stay out in the midday wind - they kept up the search no matter what!

It's hard to describe the euphoric feeling you get when you chew on sand; when you pick your ear and your finger comes out like sandpaper; when your eyes are so full of sand that it's like walking in a London fog; when you pick your nose and cause a landslide; when any exposed flesh gets stung by sand being blown around at speeds in excess of the mind; and when on top of all this Suryadeva is burning laser patterns on your skin through the sunblock. It's better to go out before midday! But for men of little minds - I mean `time' - who are in a manic search for the Black Gods, this becomes an austerity worth performing.

Salagrama Silas are everywhere in the Gandaki Valley but just like any other Krsna Conscious activity we have to be Krsna Conscious to find Them. Trekkers find Them or buy Them from path-side stalls in villages all along the way and try to take Them home as ancient fossilized snail shells. The Japanese put Them in their landscaped gardens as ornaments. The locals break Them open to expose chakras in order to make some money from Them. They are Buddhists and so see Them differently to one who sees Them with the eye of devotion. They have not offered any love and devotion and so are simply ignorant of the reality of what they are doing. I wish I could say they are like children unknowingly playing with fire and so will get burned with the fire of experience but I'm afraid that the reality is not so innocent. Yes, they are playing with fire; but no, they are not innocent for they know what Salagramas mean to the devoted and they do not at least respect from a distance. So what does it really mean to "find" the Lord in the Gandaki?

In order to function one has to put all the injustices to the back of one's mind lest one go totally mad. All the ingredients for insanity are in place but we have a different goal in mind. We will limit our insanity to self-inflicted wind-tunnel therapy and the pursuit of Black Stones.

Mornings are a much better time to go searching. From the moment the sun rises to around 11am it's very, very peaceful on the Gandaki bed. The river seems to change course or rise and fall often and so there are many places where she has left dry canals where it seems Salagramas like to congregate. If we beat the donkey and goat men to the chase - as they use the riverbed as a road to pastures green and tend to utilize that valuable river time as an opportunity to also look for nicely shaped "fossils" (in their case) to sell to stores - we can find some very distinct Gods in these places. Who would think that grown men would be running around like children in competition for Black Shiny Stones. It's a sandy jungle out there.

Sometimes the donkey men change course to pass by me and inquire into Who I have found. Do I perceive a little jealousy?

Unless we float towards the spiritual world the material road is fraught with dangers at every step. Padam padam, the place where there is no material anxiety, is our goal. We may be physically present in one of the holiest places in the universe but unless we know it and want to do something about it, what is the use? It's funny how envy, greed, lust, anger can all reside in a dhama.

Searching for the Gods was our main function in life. The pilgrimage to Muktinath was a sweet bonus. But there was also a trek to undertake and with it a few other challenges: In summary, we had flown to Jomsom; which is close to the northern border of Lower Mustang and about a 5 or 6-hour hike from Muktinath. Kagbeni is a village about 2 or 3 hours north/uphill from Jomsom and marks the beginning of Upper Mustang, which by the way officially costs US$700 to enter for 10 days - that doesn't include the compulsory tour guide fees. We had stayed in Kagbeni for 3 days as RS had developed a fever but as soon as he was fit we climbed to Muktinath in two and a half hours and ran back down in two. Considering people were telling us that it would take four or five hours each way we were feeling good about ourselves. I got a kick out of overtaking trekkers wearing all the latest expensive equipment while I was sporting my $2.50 sandals. These sandals were to be the curse of my feet later on as they went from looking like something a sentient being would wear on his feet to something that could be used to scare crows.

The trek down took us back to Jomsom and past the airport as we were not going to risk taking Salagramas back down on the plane for fear of confiscation - Salagrama Silas fall into the category of ancient fossils which are considered antiques and of National value in Nepal - whacky stuff considering they are sold to tourists on every corner in the country! Our trek would then take us through the village of Marpha. The sign at the beginning of the village reads, "The delightful apple capital of Nepal". But the word "delightful" can only really be attributed to the sign as we found the people were in tourist trap consciousness - a "divine" vibe. On we went past various other villages to Tatopani - which had the opulence of hosting a very nice hot spring. From there we would go to a town called Beni where we would catch a bus to Pokhara and fly out the next day.

All throughout the world people are reading about the Maoist revolts in Nepal. The rebels are surrounding Kathmandu or in the hills or killing policemen or whatever else Maoist rebels do in their spare time. I'm positive that it was due to our cargo being Divine that we managed to avoid meeting our red friends, though we did hear horror stories from trekkers we met. One German man had been taxed 1200 Nepalese Rupees ($18) at Tatopani (the hot spring place) a week before we stayed there. We were hoping for the best (that they would have gone away) but expected the worst . When we arrived at Tatopani there was, by the grace of Buddha, a larger than normal Nepalese Army presence there instead of the Maoists. Jomsom Airport had also been a Maoist hot spot but we had found the same Army presence there too. One lady had flown there a couple of weeks earlier only to face an 8000 rupee compulsory donation to a man with an AK47. She jumped on the same plane back to Pokhara, canceling her holiday. It seems like when the authorities hear that a place has been converted into a Maoist fund-raising center, they send in the cavalry. In Pokhara, a decent sized city, Army platoons patrolled the streets. This is a lucrative place and would really hurt the Nepalese tourism industry if it went under Maoist taxation law. After Tatopani the trekking path splits and one either goes to the "delightful" town of Beni or one hikes up a huge hill to a place called Ghorepani before going to Pokhara. We chose the easier route and luckily for we met an English couple at Pokhara Airport who had slogged the hill only to be taxed Euro 40 by a 16-year-old punk that Radhe and I would have slapped silly. Very silly!

Barring Maoists, donkey poop, excruciatingly stubborn goat herds crossing very narrow suspension bridges, highly motivated landladies, several battalions of foot soldiers picking their noses, extremely mobile butcheries-i.e. cutting up an animal anyplace anytime is fare game (try giving the "go out and kill your own" vegetarian argument to these guys and see where it takes you), a pair of sandals that could quite easily take up a double page spread in the Guinness Book of Records under torture and value for money, the French, tractors and motorcycles with damn horns, and a distinct lack of vegetarian consciousness, we had fun walking. But searching the wind and sand-swept riverbed was the best! Thus I quote the title of that old famous paper "Whose really crazy?"

The crazies who were stumbling around the riverbed looking for Deities were crazy, I grant you that. But walking for days and days with only mountains and sky and pretty rivers and playing cards and the ominous threat of Maoist uprisings to look forward to and with no other purpose to life; is that a sane thing to do? If some clear thinking comes out of it then I would say, "Go for it". But at the end of it all, or close to the end of it all, while I reclined in the hot springs in Tatopani, letting the healing waters reduce the swelling in my left ankle, I couldn't help but notice the scene around me. Same old animalism - men sit looking like men, girl comes clad only in bikini, men start hopelessly gyrating and making beastly grunting sounds as if to coax a she elephant, girl sits there and adores the `subtle' attention, both have obviously been thinking deeply in the silence of the mountains.

As for the other type of craziness: several Lords manifested from this visit to the Gandaki and somehow or other They are here with me in Sri Vrndavan Dhama as I write. But the journey was not as smooth as I would have hoped. We had boarded a flight from Pokhara to Kathmandu without a problem. I even showed the security the Salagramas (from here on referred to as "The Boys") and they had shown respect. But it was during the bag scan at Kathmandu International Airport as I made my way to my flight to Delhi that things began to come unstuck.

The man at the scanning machine pulled the bag with The Boys over to the side and asked me to come over and supervise a manual search of it. "What's the stuff in the bottom?" he asked. As it wasn't a problem at Pokhara Airport I made a bad judgment and declared that they were Salagramas and showed Them to the man. The man started tutting and tutting and then looked at me with a grave look declaring, " You cannot take these with you!"

I was in shock. What could I do? Fortunately I had had the sense to travel in a dhoti and chaddar and so I decided to take the humble approach, "Sir, I beg you to let me take Them with me. I will take Them to Vrndavan and worship Them." The man was still stern and told me that it was impossible for me to take Them. "Here's my puja paraphernalia, " I said and I quickly showed him an acaman cup, bell and camphor lamp I had used for my daily puja of Giriraja and The Boys while on pilgrimage. The man was as stubborn as I was and kept telling me that it was still impossible for me to take Them.

Many devotees have had Salagramas confiscated at this airport in the past so I was beginning to sweat. I was also beginning to sound and look pathetic but I wasn't going to let that get in the way of my obstinacy. I was on a mission. I had Boys to take to Vrndavan and I was not going to leave without Them. The man then offered a suggestion that I stay in Kathmandu and go get a stamp of approval from the department of archeology to take the ancient fossils out of the country for research. That fell on deaf ears, "Sir, I beg you to please let me take them now."

By this time there were many other scan men around and they were all as one, "You cannot take these with you!" But still I was oblivious to the obvious and begged and begged the Lord to help me... it was one of those rare moments when one is so darned helpless that one suddenly embraces one of the last resorts - groveling to God.

A gentleman from Delhi came over and tried to take up my cause by talking reason to the scan men. They half listened and the ice began to melt ever so slightly. The scan man now told me, "I do have a heart you know!" He Then took one Salagrama out of the bag and handed it to me. "Here, you take One with you."

No way!

"Sir, I am begging you to please let me take them all." The other scan men were now picking up Salagramas, banging Them together and dropping Them on the table. This diverted my attention and I had to ask Them all to please be careful with the Lord. It was getting even more pathetic.

But finally, after a full fifteen minutes, something happened. The man looked at my pitiable condition and finally said out of the blue, "Ok you take Them. But make sure you check Them in otherwise if you take them as hand luggage you will have to convince others too as there are many more check points along the way to the plane."

I thanked him profusely and followed his advice.

Thus ends the story of the Lords who desired to have warm showers and lots of sweets every day while at the same time reducing one of Their pseudo servants to a wet noodle.

News Item: Now is a VERY good time to utilize this facility

Pilgrimage to the "Top of the World"
Visit Muktinath or Damodar Kund in Northern Nepal the home of the Shaligram Sila

Fly up the Kali-gandaki gorge, the deepest natural gorge on the planet amid the towering Annapurna range of Himalayas.
An experience of a life-time, with stunning views that will remain with you treasured for the rest of your life.
Take a quick look here to whet your appetite....

There are two pilgrimage time periods when this region is accessible, as the rest of the year it is snow-bound.
Pre-monsoon pilgrimage:
 April - May - June

Pre-winter pilgrimage:
 End of September - October - November

Kathmandu - Pokhara (By bus or plane - bus takes six - eight hours, plane takes less than an hour)

Pokhara - Muktinath (by Helicopter) where devotees get one hour to worship Muktinath and fly back to Pokhara then back to Kathmandu.
Cost US $400.00 + $40.00 (if ktm-Pok by plane)

For Kathmandu - Pokhara (By bus or plane) Pokhara - Damodar kunda (by Helicopter) and fly back to Pokhara then back to Kathmandu.
Cost US $850.00 + $40.00 (if ktm-Pok by plane)

Damodar kunda Trekking Itinerary

Day 01: Arrive at Kathmandu and transfer to Hotel
Day 02: Half day sight seeing tour.
Day 03: Ply to Pokhara
Day 04 :Fly Pokhara – Jomsom and trek to Kagbeni
Day 05: Kagbeni - Tashukang O/N Camp
Day 04: Tashukang - Tetang O/N Camp
Day 05: Tetang - Tange O/N Camp
Day 06: Tange - Surkhang O/N Camp
Day 07: Surkhang – Luri O/N Camp
Day 08: Lur i- Bas Khola  O/N Camp
Day 09: Bas Khola – Damodar Kundai O/N Camp
Day 10: Damodar Kunda- Luri O/N Camp
Day 11: Luri - Ten O/N Camp
Day 12: Ten – Tetang O/N Camp
Day 13: Tetang- Muktinath
Day 14: Muktinath-Jomsom
Day 15: Jomsom- Pokhara
Day 16: Pokhara- Kathamndu and transfer to hotel
Day 17: Rest and explore your self.
Day 18: Fly back to home.

·         Special Permit for 10 days US$ 700.00 Per Person & above 10 days every day 70.00 US$ more extra.
·         For Liaison officer expenses have to pay by clients
·         Client (s) should have fill up all form for permit with in 15 days before, departure for trekking

Cost - US $ 2600.00 per person for group of 5 people (Special permit fee included)

Cost Includes:
a) All domestic air and land fares within Nepal.
b) All three course meals in trekking days (not in hotels in Katmandu)
c) All staff and trekking leader wages included.
d) 4 nights at Kathmandu and 1 night in Pokhara on Bed and Breakfast.
e) Departure and arrival transportation.

Cost does not include.
a) Visa fee - which will be purchased at your home country.
b) Special permit fee of Upper Mustang (US$700. - as of August 2003 we are now getting this Permit @ US$350. each)
c) Private and Personal Expenses.
d) Tips and donations that you may feel obliged to give along the way......

For those in doubt of ridiculous price of Special trekking permit, sadly these are the prices for such a remote area as Upper-Mustang. The following URLs are Nepali Government sites supporting and confirming the US$ 700 cost. and  and !!!

(presently we are getting these permits for US $350 each 8th Aug 2003 - get back to us NOW.)

For Enquiries/Inquiries Bookings send E-mail

To get some idea of the views etc please visit HERE: Visit Shaligram Tirtha

Have a Happy 2004 and 2005
...may it be, healthy and prosperous in every possible way

Sri swayam-vyakta saligram silas ki jai

Newsletters On-line:

#005 - April 2004
#004 - Dec 31st 2003 - 01st Jan 2004
#003 - Sept 2003
#002 - July 2003
#001 - April 2003

Advertisements for Salagram friendly sites:

Iskcon's Official Deity worship site:

Archana articles and links:

Some wonderful insights into Amara prabhu's site and pujas in Germany

Sriman Mathura dasa @ Mystic Mantra

Rudraksha-ratna - Srimati Neeta Sharma Mataji

Nepa Rudraksha - Sriman Mukunda Khatiwadi

Saligram Organization

Incense and Oils for puja - SRI NILACHAL EXPORTS

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A Grateful Word to our Supporters

Personally we find that so many devotees are inspiring us in so many different ways, by the grace of the Lord. Especially I'd like to thank HDG Srila A.C. Bhaktivedanta Swami Prabhupad for saving my very life, and to HH Jayapataka Swami and HH Indradyumna Swami for all the support and encouragement in seva pujan. There are literally hundreds who have helped in this humble service of ours here, Paramseva dasa was the catalyst for the web-site, Hrsikeshananda prabhu has kindly sponsored the site and maintains it financially, so without his help it wouldn't be, and similarly for the mirror site Tirtharaj prabhu allowed us space and hosted us for free for some time with to both these devotees we are so much indebted. Now we are kindly sponsored by Bhakta Gary Kearns and Yagnesh Rajani on on a huge new host - plenty of bandwidth. There are so many others who have and are helping so much with articles, gifting Silas, books, and paraphernalia, and support; special thanks to Gaura Keshava prabhu ACBSP, Ramadasa prabhu ACBSP, Kurma prabhu ACBSP, Hari Sauri prabhu ACBSP, Sukadev prabhu ACBSP, Bhaktisiddhanta swami JPS, Ameyatma prabhu PVS, Aisvarya prabhu HDG, Jvala Nrsimha prabhu IDS, Matsya Avatara prabhu BTS, Mathura prabhu, Kailash mataji, Hamsa Avatara prabhu, Jagjeevan prabhu and Sudevi mataji MVG, Vikram and Aasha Murthy, and mother Neeta Sharma and Mukunda Khatiwada, Krishna Akilesha prabhu, and my eldest daugther Kirtida Sundari (for doing so much typing of articles) to name but a few. Sarv-lok vaishnavebhyo namo namah so as not to miss anyone, as we so much appreciate all of you who are receiving this newsletter, otherwise we wouldn't do all this, thank you so much for just being part of it.

Indeed, many thanks to all the readers who have one way or another subscribed to Sri Shaligram Tirtha Pradarshini newsletter. Your interest and support makes this service possible. Those wishing to contribute in any way to this 'Net-work, send articles, and or information please do so by contacting me here ...

We are very grateful to our sponsors' donations that help maintain this and similar devotional service, especially on a regular basis, so again and again thank you. ...Couldn't do it without you.

If anyone would like to send donations to help maintain this and similar work,
especially on a regular basis please contact me here also ...

Every little is VERY much appreciated, and is what allows the service to continue regularly. Thanx

Donations can be made on-line at or through or go direct to our link below, all through our PayPal account.

After some feedback from our readers we are trying to maintain that the newsletter go out Quarterly, (four times a year - April, July, Sept, Dec). I hope that this is okay with everyone. See you in a couple of weeks.

|_____|_____Please pardon the intrusion_|____|______|

*Legalese -- This newsletter is NEVER sent out unsolicited. If you are receiving this for an unknown reason, maybe it's because of a friend giving us your address. We do not buy lists or gather  them via "Harvesting software(s)", nor will we ever give/sell your address to anybody. If you would rather NOT receive mail from us, please send us a message saying Unsubscribe, or Remove - and we will do the needful immediately. We apologize for any inconvenience caused.

If somehow you are receiving this double - ie., at home and in the office please let me know, and your preferential option =>:-) JTCd


* compiled by Purohit JAya Tirtha ChAran dAsan
* Sri Shaligram Tirtha Pradarshini Homepage