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Amsterdam, the Netherlands
23 May 2004


Gopastami Pastimes

On this day Radhika is able to join Krishna for His gostha lila (cowherding pastimes), disguised as a cowherd boy. How does She manage that?

On this day Krishna feels great separation from Sri Radhika in the morning. His friend Subala (who looks just like Radhika) decides to help Him out by saying, Just sit and wait here, Kanai! I will bring Your beloved here in no time! He hurries over to Yavata, the village where Sri Radhika lives (with Her husband), and knocks on the door of Her mother-in-law Jatilas house. Jatila opens the door and asks him: Subala, what do you want here?

Subala says: Im looking for one of my calves! My friends saw it wandering around here somewhere! Can I look for it in your yard?

Jatila says: Well, I suppose so!

Subala slips inside the house and goes straight to Sri Radhikas quarters. Radhika is a little surprised when She sees Krishnas dear friend Subala inside Her room and She asks him: Subala! How is Kana (Krishna)? Can You help Me to meet Him somehow?

Subala says: Sure! Just put on my cowherds dress and go straight out of the door! When You meet Jatila You just tell her: Thank you for letting Me search for My calf! Im carrying it along under My scarf! In this way You can explain the big volume of Your breasts under Your cowherdboy-scarf!

Sri Radhika and Subala then exchange clothes and Radhika thus manages to escape from Jatilas vigilance, strictly following Subalas instructions. Srila Raghunatha dasa Gosvami says: subala nyasta sarupya--Sri Radhika has invested Her own form in Subala. From this story we can understand for which purpose She has done this.

When Radhika, dressed as Subala, comes to Krishna, She decides to play a trick on Him. She pretends to be Subala and tells Krishna: Sorry, Kanai! I didnt manage to bring Sri Radhika to You! But dont worry anyway! I met Candravali on the way and she says that shes all ready for You, so if you want You can go to her! Krishna passes the test, though, and wails: Radhe! I only want You! How can I meet You somehow? Seeing how faithful Krishna is to Her, Sri Radhika becomes very pleased. She reveals Her real identity to Krishna and gives Him a warm embrace.


Past Life Recall?

The Edinburgh Evening News of 22 January 2004 ran a story about a 29 year-old Swedish man named Jesper Bood who, while under hynpnosis in Stockholm, remembered a previous life as a Scottish fisherman. This method of retrieving past-life memories is called hypnotic regression. It does not seem to have high standing among serious researchers of reincarnation, because the hypnotic state of mind is too similar to the dream state. In dreams the mind free-associates impressions stored in the memory to create new mental images; in a mind under hypnotic trance the same sort of free association can be triggered by the hypnotist. Now, it must be said that police detectives will sometimes engage a hypnotist to bring the memories of a witness into sharper focus. Crimes have been solved as a result. But the suggestion given to a person under hypnosis that there is something more he can remember if he tries may touch off free association in the mind by which false memories are manufactured. It is therefore a mistake to uncritically accept any and all retrieved memories as valid. Usually it is very difficult if not impossible to investigate so-called past-life memories brought forth by hypnosis. They are too vague in details of "who what where when and how." But Jesper Bood's past-life memories are remarkable for their clarity, and richness of detail.

He says he was born in Dunbar, East Lothian, in 1852, as the son of John Smith and his wife Mary Craig Smith. His parents named him John Jr. (junior). Census records confirm these names. Under hypnosis Bood recalled his wife's name as Bessie or Betsy. Census records show that a fisherman named John Smith married a woman named Elizabeth. They lived in Public Road, Gateside, a village that no longer exists...though records agree that there used to be a village of that name in the area where Bood remembers it.

Roy Pugh is a historian of the Dunbar region. He was invited by a television company to examine the case. He was completely sceptical when he started, but after hearing Bood describe the Dunbar Parish Church, the Woodbush School (demolished in the 1950s), and an old fisherman's tavern that is now the Creel Restaurant, Pugh said,

I now know what it means to experience a shiver in this spine and a curious feeling in the hairs on the back of my neck.

Dear Suhotra Swami Maharaja,

Hare Krishna. PAMO. All glories to Srila Prabhupada.

Love your online journal. I appreciate your vast knowledge of the shastras and keen sense of humor. Also, your spiritual commentary on news events is refreshing.

I am writing today in regards to the performance of yajna here at our Gettysburg, PA center. We are doing daily Purusha-sukta homa as was done in Mayapur (not sure if this is still done there or not). We have been trying to find another nice procedure for daily yajna, but have not had much luck. I know you are very expert in these matters. Sri Sri Laxmi Vaikuntha-nath, Sri Sri Laxmi Narasimha, Sri Sri Krishna Balarama, and the following silas are kind enough to reside here:

2 Nrsimha silas
1 Dwarka sila
1 Vasudeva sila
40 other silas are at rest (trying to find new homes)

If you would be kind enough to share your daily homa, it would be very appreciated. If not, I fully understand and hope that you can point us in the right direction.

Photos with captions follow.


This is a photo of the setup. The elements I use in offering homa for the pleasure of the Lord are compact and simplified. In the middle of the photo is a vedi constructed of 3 pieces: a base plate of brass, a copper kunda (available in Loi Bazaar), and a good strong 8-sided bell-metal plate that has a circular fire pit in the middle. As you see in the photo the fire pit is now stocked with bits of wood. Actually these are incense sticks broken to size. Bamboo is used for making joss sticks, and bamboo is one of the 7 kinds of woods recommended for yajnas. I've sprinkled camphor and ghee on to the sticks. To the north of the fire altar (from the Vedic point of view it is actually east but that's too confusing--take north in this picture to mean "in the direction above the vedi") is an incense holder in which 5 sticks of incense are burning. To the northeast is a silver plate bearing a brass ghee pot and the sacrificial ladel. To the southeast is a incense holder which, like the one to the north, also has a holder for a small ghee wick. I've put camphor into that holder. To the southwest is a copper acamana cup and spoon for myself, a silver acamana pot and spoon for the fire, and a little silver kumbha (pot topped with coconut and five mango leaves). To the west is a brass bowl with extra camphor, should that be needed. To the northwest is a candle, standing by as the "garhapatya flame" or source of fire for the offering.


I ingite a piece of camphor and drop it into the camphor at the southeast of the vedi. I chant: om kravyadam agnim prahinomi duram yamarajyam gacchatu ripravahah. This mantra is for casting away the inauspicious aspect of fire.


I ignite another piece of camphor and drop it into the yajna fuel. I chant: om bhur bhuvah svar om. Then I chant om sri vaisnava namaagnaye and...


...showing avahana-mudra, I chant iha 'gaccha iha 'gaccha.

Then, showing stapana-mudra, I chant iha tistha iha tistha.


Showing sannidhapani-mudra, chanting iha sannidehi iha sannidehi.

Showing sannirudhana-mudra, chanting iha sannirudhyasva, iha sannirudhyasya.


Showing sakali-karani-mudra.

Showing sammukhi-karani-mudra, chanting iha sammukho bhava iha sammukho bhava.


Showing cakra mudra and chanting om astraya phat!

Snapping fingers 8 times in 8 directions around fire.


Showing maha-mudra.

Showing pranama-mudra.


Showing hrdaya-mudra, chanting klim-hrdaya namah.

Showing sirsa-mudra, chanting krsnaya-sirse svaha.


Showing sikha-mudra, chanting govinda-sikhaya vasat.

Showing kavaca-mudra, chanting gopijana-kavacaya hum.


Showing netra-mudra, chanting vallabhaya-netrabhyam vausat.

Showing cakra-mudra, chanting svaha-astraya phat.


Showing galini-mudra at heart.

Showing maha-mudra.


Showing pranama-mudra.


Now I worship the fire with mudra and water offerings. I chant etat-padyam om sri vaisnave namah and with the silver spoon offer a drop of water from the Lord's acamana pot onto the brass base place of the vedi. I meditate upon washing the lotus feet of Lord Vaisnava Agni.


I show the arghya-mudra and chant idam arghyam om sri vaisnave namah as I offer a drop and meditate upon offering Him scented water for washing His hands and face.


I show acamaniya-mudra, then chant idam acamaniyam om sri vaisnave namah as I offer a drop, meditating on refreshing the Lord's mouth by acamana.


I show the madhu-parka mudra, then chant esa madhuparka om sri vaisnave namah while offering a drop and meditating upon giving a sweet drink to the Lord.


I show the acamaniya-mudra again, and chant idam punaracamaniyam om sri vaisnave namah while offering a drop and meditating upon refreshing His mouth once more after He has taken a sweet drink.


Gandha-mudra, chant esa gandha om sri vaisnave namah, offer a drop, meditate upon applying scented oil and sandalwood pulp to the Lord's body.


Puspa-mudra, chant etat sacandana puspani om sri vaisnave namah, offer a drop, meditate upon offering flowers to the lotus feet of the Lord.


Malya-mudra, chant idam malyam om sri vaisnave namah, offer a drop, meditate upon garlanding the Lord.


Sarva-mudra, chant idam sarvam, offer a drop, meditate on the Lord kindly accepting my worship as complete although it is sadly so incomplete. Then I show pranama-mudra again and chant yat-pujanena vibudhah pitaror-iccatas ca tusta-bhavanti rsi-bhuta-saloka-palah sarve grahas-tarani soma-kujadi mukhya govindam adi purusam tam aham bhajami, a Pancaratrik verse that declares that worship of Govinda includes worship of forefathers, rishis, all living entities, the guardians of the directions, all the planetary deities, etc.


Purifying ghee pot with water.

Passing ghee pot through fire 3 times, starting from left to right each time.


Purifying sacrificial ladle with acamana water.

Passing the ladle through fire 3 times, starting from left to right.


Putting drops of water into right palm, turning palm sideways on the right side of the vedi so that the water sprinkles in a straight vertical line, I chant om ananta anumanyasva.


Doing the same along along a horizontal line south of the vedi, I chant om acyuta anumasyasva.

And doing the same along a vertical line on the left side of the vedi, I chant om sarasvaty anumanyasva.

Then I take the silver coconut with 5 leaves off the top of the kumbha, dip a leaf in the water of the kumbha, and sprinkle the water around the vedi while chanting Om klim gopijanavallabhaya namah.


Now the yajna beings. Om bhur svaha idam visnave idam na mama; om bhuvah svaha idam acyutaya idam ma mama; om svar svaha idam narayanaya idam na mama; om bhur bhuvah svah svaha idam anantaya idam na mama. This is called the Vyasta Samasta Mahavyahrti homa. What shoud follow this are sixteen offerings that could, as you have been doing, be accompanied by chanting the sixteen prayers of the Purusa Sukta. Actually you can chant any sixteen prayers you like. You can take sixteen prayers from Bhagavad-gita, for example. In the yajna I do, I begin with four Vedic mantras--the first prayer of Purusa-sukta, then two mantras from Taittirya Brahmana, then a Yajur-veda mantra--and then I chant the oblation mantra given in SB 6.19.8 twelve times, putting fire into the ghee after each time and chanting svaha. This Bhagavatam oblation mantra is a short form of a puja mantra given in the previous verse. In his purport to that verse, Srila Prabhupada states, "This mantra is very important. Anyone engaged in Deity worship should chant this mantra, as quoted above, beginning with om namo bhagavate maha-purusaya."

Vyasta Samata Mahavyahrti homa is performed again, followed by Mula-Mantra-Gayatri homa: chanting aim guruva namah, klim gauraya namah, klim gopijanaballabaya namah, srim-klim radha-krsnabhyam namah, ksraum narasimhaya namah and om sudarsanaya namah, I offer ghee into the fire with each mantra. On days like ekadasi when it is nice to increase the service to the Lord, I chant each mantra 10 times with an offering each time.

After these mula-mantra/gayatri offerings I again do Maha Samasta Mahavyahrti homa. This is followed by Udicya Karma. The fire is "changed" from Vaisnava-agni to Vidhu-agni. This is done by showing the installation mudras and chanting the associated mantras (om vidhu namagnaye iha vaha iha vaha; iha tistha etc.). Then the nyasa mudras should be shown, and their mantras chanted (klim hrdaya namah; krsnaya svaha etc.).

Vaysta Samasta Mahavyahrti homa is to be performed again. Then prayascitta homa, consisting of offerings to these mantras:

om pahi no 'cyuta enase svaha idam visnave idam na mama

om pahi no visva vedase svaha idam visnave idam na mama

om yajnam pahi hare vibho svaha idam visnave idam na mama

om sarvam pahi sriyah pate svaha idam visnave idam na mama

om pahi no 'nanta ekaya pahi uta dvitiyaya pahi urjam trtiyaya pahi girbhis catasrbhih visno svaha idam visnave idam na mama

om purnar urja nivartasva punar visna isa ayusa punar nah pahi ahamsah svaha idam visnave idam na mama

om saha rayya nivartasva visno pinvasva dharaya visvapsnya visvatas pari svaha idam visnave idam na mama

om prajapateh visno na tvat etani anyo visva jatani pari ta babhuva yat kamas te junumas tanno 'stu vayagrh syama patayo rayinam svaha idam visvave idam na mama

Vyasta Samasta Mahavyahrti Homa again. Then Vaisnava homa, which I've condensed to the om ajnana timirandhandasya mantra (one ahuti or offering in the fire), the two Srila Prabhupada pranama mantras (two ahutis), the vanca-kalpa verse (one ahuti), the Panca-tattva mahamantra (one ahuti) and the Hare Krsna mahamantra (one ahuti).

Then I sprinkle a circle of water around the vedi from the silver kumba leaves, chanting Om klim gopijanavallabhaya namah; then I sprinkle water from the side of my palm on 3 sides of the fire, chanting (these mantras are a little different from the first time around): om ananta anumamsthah, om acyuta anumamsthah, om sarasvati anumamsthah.

Then I rise to perform purna ahuti. I chant the namo brahmanya devaya verse and offer ghee into the fire: idam krsnaya idam na mama. Then showing the maha mudra and pranam mudra I recite the invocation to Sri Isopanisad (om purnam adaha purnam idam...).

The comes Vamadeva-gam. Still standing, I take up the silver kumbha and sprinkle water on the "northwest" side of the fire, chanting om bhur bhuvah svah kaya nas citra abhuvad uti sada vrdhah sakha kaya sacisthaya vrta. Again sprinkle in the same place, then chant om bhur bhuvah svah kas tva satyo madanam mamhistho matsad andhasah drda cidaruje vasu. Again sprinkle in the same place, then chant om bhur bhuvah svah abhi sunah sakhinam avita jaritrnam satam bhavasya utaye.

Then I sprinkle the 10 directions around the fire. There are mantras to be chanted for each of these sprinkles:

om dyauh santir antariksam santih pritivi santir apah santih

vayuh santis tejah santir osadhayah santir lokah santih

brahmana santih vaisnava cantih santir astu dhrtir astu

om santir om santir om santih

Mantras for forgiveness of offenses follow. Then Prema-dhvani prayers (Jaya om visnupada paramahamsa...etc.).

At the end one should glorify Lord Vamanadeva. I chant the calayasi vikramane balim... prayer from Dasavatara-stotram (actually I chant the whole stotram because it is so auspicious, but the verse to Lord Vamana is needed to end the yajna. The reason is given in SB 8.23.31p.

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