Lessons From the Road Volume 1
In recent years I have been referring to something I call my “Legacy Project”. By that I mean my plan to put my out of print books back into e-book format. I have written over a hundred books and most of them are out of print. Some of them have been put into an e-book format, but not most of them. Two devotees, Caitanya-Candradaya and Ishvara Govinda das have been working on this. Ishvara Govinda das has set up an elaborate Legacy Project website and my statements here are an introduction to it. I am asking for volunteers to help in this project. You can contact Ishvara Govinda das at firstname.lastname@example.org or you can contact Baladeva Vidyabhusana at email@example.com. Some of the books need some simple proof reading. I am anxious to have my books put on e-book format because that is the growingly popular way that people read books nowadays. And I am anxious that this be done before I pass away. My books were written to last. They are not out of date. They are very accessible to the new generations of devotees who have never read them. So they are not “old” books but new books never read by thousands of people. I have written books in many genres, straightforward Krsna conscious instructional books, scriptural teachings, poetry, essays, and in later years more experimental books written in a creative style. All of them are valuable and of interest to the growing numbers of Krsna conscious devotees and people who are not Krsna conscious yet but who are spiritual seekers. Bhaktisiddhanta Sarasvati told Prabhupada that printing books was more important than building temples, he told Prabhupada to print books. I have followed in the footsteps of that instruction and dedicated my life to writing Krsna conscious literature.
About forty of my books have been published in book form translated into Russian, organized by my disciples in Russia, Ishana Dasi and her husband Arjuna Dasa. They are available on a website where they can be seen at the different Russian and Ukrainian festivals where they sell my books. I am very indebted to these two devotees and to all the devotees who have helped them in translating and editing my books. I wish that more Russian and Ukrainian devotees would assist in my Legacy Project.
I spent twenty-five years as a traveling sannyasi lecturing to disciples and friends of Krsna consciousness. On a weekly basis I would select a few that I thought were special and we had an SDG Tape ministry of over seven hundred tapes that are now being digitized and made available by my disciples Lal Krsna Dasa and his wife Syama Dasi at the Oxford Center for Hindu studies as well as Udhava Dasa in Hungary. There are also collections from the VIHE and other seminars that I gave such as “Krsna and Vrindavan”, “Vandanam” and “Prayers of Queen Kunti”. You can contact Syama Dasi at firstname.lastname@example.org for details on how you might help them.
I am also a painter. Recently the Iskcon institution MOSA (Museum of Sacred Art) has taken an interest in my art. They have obtained one hundred of my paintings and have photographed them and are publishing a book. They are also going to make a one man art exhibit of many of my paintings and display them at Radhadesh in Belgium and then put them in a traveling exhibit to Italy, Dehli and Calcutta for starters. Each show will be no less than six months. Ishvara Govinda das has selected a different set of a hundred and eight paintings and is displaying them for exposure and sale on his website. My art is not the usual polished productions that we see in BBT illustrations in books. It is known in the art world as “outsider art” or “naive art”. It is primitive and self-taught. There are many famous artists who paint in this school or style and have their loyal followers. This art captures the heart and emotions of the viewers and is colorful and honest. I hope the devotees will appreciate it.
So I am trying to create a legacy for my books and art to ensure that they will exist after I pass away and be available to the thousands of people who will come in the future to Krsna Consciousness. This will require workers to contribute to making the e-books and paintings available to the general public. Devotees can also stay here at the ashram and scan unpublished manuscripts for editing or catalog art and do proofreading if they want. If are not able to help physically the if you are in a position to donate for this project it will be very helpful. I hope you will be interested and participate. Thank you very much.
Your servant, Satsvarupa Dasa Goswami. April 28, 2015
The Little Piece of Paper
“One day while walking home from my welfare office job on Fifth Street in Manhattan I passed Second Avenue on the way to my apartment on Suffolk Street, just south of Houston Street. At the corner of Second Avenue and First Street my eye caught the window of the storefront. The signboard said Matchless Gifts, and I had passed it many times. It was a curiosity shop and featured the sale of little matchboxes which had pictures on them from Hollywood movies. But now the window display was empty and the storefront vacant; they had gone out of business. There was a small piece of paper taped to the window with the following words: “Classes in Bhagavad-gita / Monday, Wednesday and Friday 7 p.m. / Transcendental Sound Vibration.”
I had read the Bhagavad-gita in the Mentor paperback edition, translated by Swami Nikhilananda and Christopher Isherwood, and I was interested in the transcendental philosophy of the “atma,” although I really couldn’t understand it clearly. I decided to attend the class. That night, wearing black chino pants, dirty white sneakers and a drab shirt, I entered the door of the storefront about five minutes to seven. There were about five men in their twenties milling around or sitting on straw Chinese mats. A man with a ruddy colored beard and curly hair approached me with a smile and greeted me. He introduced himself as Ray, and I told him I was Steve and we shook hands. He asked me if this was the first time I had attended the class, and I said yes. I asked what to expect. He said the Swami would come out at any minute, and he would explain everything. He would lead us in chanting and then he would give a lecture. Within a couple of minutes the Swami entered through the side door. He was a short, golden-hued monk from India. He slipped out of his pointy rubber shoes and walked over to a straw mat and sat facing the front door. The boys formed an audience facing him. He greeted a few of the boys who he already knew and then handed out a few pairs of hand cymbals. The cymbals were strung together with cloth. He struck up a 1—2—3 beat and indicated that others should follow. At first they couldn’t catch the beat, but he stopped and deliberately began again, saying, “One two three / one two three” until everyone was playing in unison, slowly.
The Swami was wearing a saffron skirt-like robe around his waist and a piece of saffron cloth draped over his bare chest and shoulders. His face was old, and his full mouth was turned down at the corners. His eyes were a deep mystifying brown. His long earlobes reminded me of pictures of Lord Buddha. He was an extraordinary presence for the Lower East Side. He began singing prayers in Sanskrit. After a few minutes he changed to the chant Hare Krishna Hare Krishna Krishna Krishna Hare Hare / Hare Rama Hare Rama Rama Rama Hare Hare. He indicated that we should follow his lead in chorus. Some of the boys had been there before, and I gropingly caught on to it and began chanting in chorus Hare Krishna Hare Krishna Krishna Krishna Hare Hare / Hare Rama Hare Rama Rama Rama Hare Hare. The Swami kept leading the chanting for a full half hour. After a while I got bored, but I kept going and eventually entered into a trancelike stage. It was far out. I went past boredom and became absorbed in the sound vibration. He sped up the tempo near the end and then stopped. He had a reel-to-reel tape recorder on his right, and he set it up for recording. Then he read a verse from the Bhagavad-gita and began lecturing on the topic. I found it difficult to follow his heavy Bengali accent and his insertion of Sanskrit verses. But I was fascinated with what I could pick up. He was speaking of Krishna as the Supreme Truth and the need to become Krishna conscious. We, who are living in the material world, are all suffering from birth, death, disease and old age. The great necessity for humankind was to take up “bhakti, devotional service, and go back to home, back to Godhead.” Chanting the Hare Krishna mantra was the essential practice for approaching Krishna in this age.
After lecturing half an hour he asked for questions and spent fifteen minutes answering them. Then he started up the chanting again and went for another half hour. I had the mantra almost memorized, and I was mesmerized. By the time it was over I felt that I was high. I left the storefront and walked home chanting in my mind and feeling certain that I would continue to attend the meetings. I felt I wanted to change my life and become pure. “
”The Story of my life”, vol.1
BIOGRAPHY of His Holiness Satsvarupa Dasa Goswami
Satsvarupa das Goswami is a senior disciple of A. C. Bhaktivedanta Swami Prabhupada, who founded the International Society for Krishna Consciousness (ISKCON), better known in the west as the Hare Krishna movement. Serving as a writer, poet, and artist, Satsvarupa dasa Goswami is the author of Bhaktivedanta Swami Prabhupada’s authorized biography, Srila Prabhupada-lilamrta. After Bhaktivedanta Swami Prabhupada’s disappearance, Satsvarupa dasa Goswami was one of eleven disciples selected to become an initiating guru in ISKCON. Satsvarupa dasa Goswami is one of the first few westerners ordained by Prabhupada in September 1966. He has been since established as a most prolific Vaishnava writer and poet. While traveling, lecturing on Krishna consciousness, and instructing disciples worldwide, he has published over 150 books including poems, memoirs, essays, novels, and studies based on the Vaishnava scriptures. In the recent years, he has created hundreds of paintings, drawings, and sculptures that attempt to capture and express his absorption in the culture of Krishna consciousness.