Initiations in ISKCON

SP_initiation
There is an ongoing debate on how initiations were to go on after Srila Prabhupada’s physical disappearance.  Many devotees don’t like to talk about it or think about it, so conditioned are we to accept the status quo.   But I think it is important not to turn a blind eye on the issue of initiation, and how it was meant to go on, as initiation (accepting a spiritual master), is a very important step in progressing in spiritual life. Success in spiritual life is in following the instructions of the spiritual master.  So for the sake of keeping the very important issue alive we present the following post that we saw recently on the Prabhupada News website.

It is widely known that Srila Prabhupada instituted a ritvik or representative (proxy) initiation system throughout ISKCON as early as 1971 in order to meet the growing need to initiate his disciples worldwide. However what is not widely known is that he instructed his disciples to continue initiating new disciples on his behalf even after his physical disappearance.

He called those disciples who performed the initiation ceremonies ritvik representatives of the acharya (officiating acharyas). Below are quotes directly from Srila Prabhupada for the evidence of these instructions as well as explanations, philosophical insights, and historical background.

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Brahmananda das Departs

Back to Godhead - Volume 10, Number 12 - 1975

Brahmananda das Departs

We are sad to report the departure of Sriman Brahmananda Prabhu, on of the very first disciples of His Divine Grace A. C. Bhaktivedanta Swami Prabhupada. He was well loved by many.

The following is a report from the Sampradaya Sun News and a letter that arrived in my mailbox this morning from Aprakrita Dasa, reporting the news.

Jun 07, 2015 — CANADA (SUN) — We have received news of the departure of Brahmananda das (ACBSP), who left his body in Vrindavan-dham earlier today. Brahmananda Prabhu (Bruce Scharf) joined Srila Prabhupada in New York in September 1966, as one of Prabhupada’s first disciples in New York. He was ISKCON’s first temple president.

Brahmananda was involved in nearly all aspects of Srila Prabhupada’s early preaching mission, from Ratha yatra to harinam and book sankirtan, and publishing the first issues of Back to Godhead magazine. He also arranged many lectures and meetings for Srila Prabhupada.

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The Guru Is A Pure Devotee!

Guru Is a pure devotee Prabhupada

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The following is a very nice post written by Madhudvisa Prabhu, it is heavy, but is backed up by scripture and quotes by Srila Prabhupada himself. It was worth my time reading, and thus I share it with all of you. Hare Krishna!

The Guru Is A Pure Devotee!
by Madhudvisa dasa

During Srila Prabhupada’s physical presence there was no confusion in ISKCON over the qualifications and qualities of a bona fide guru. Srila Prabhupada was personally present and he exhibited all the qualities perfectly and all the devotees understood the spiritual master was a pure devotee. That’s what Srila Prabhupada demonstrated by his personal actions, that’s what he wrote in his books, that’s what he preached in his classes and that’s what the devotees understood and accepted. The spiritual master is a transparent via-medium to Krishna. His words are non-different from Krishna’s, hearing him is just as good as hearing Krishna personally. And his words are absolute and perfect because he is not presenting his own ideas, he is simply repeating what Krishna and the previous acaryas have said in a way suitable for the understanding of the audience. He’s not changing the message, adulterating it or adding in any ideas of his own, he’s presenting Krishna’s words and Krishna’s philosophy AS IT IS.

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Bangalore Temple Wins Court Case !

iskcon Bangalore

Bangalore Temple Wins Court Case !
Karnataka High Court dismisses appeal of ISKCON Mumbai followers

Honourable High Court of Karnataka dismissed an appeal filed by some of the followers of ISKCON Mumbai on April 9th, 2015. Honourable Justice Anand Byrareddy was hearing an appeal filed by followers of ISKCON Mumbai seeking to get control of ISKCON Bangalore Society (Regn. No. S.49/78-79), claiming that they are the actual Governing body members. Earlier the same application was filed in the City Civil Court as OS 1758 of 2003 in Bangalore by ISKCON Mumbai followers and had been dismissed.

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Saints and Swindlers

Bury Place Room Conversation Photo by Gurudas

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Saints and Swindlers
London Times Interview with Srila Prabhupada
Excerpted from the Science of Self Realization

Every day the number of people interested in practicing yoga and meditation increases by the thousands. Unfortunately, a person looking for a suitable guide is likely to encounter a bewildering array of magicians, self-styled gurus, and self-proclaimed gods. In an interview with the London Times, Śrīla Prabhupāda explains how a sincere seeker can tell the difference between a counterfeit and genuine spiritual guide.

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Srila Prabhupada: The Prominent Link

Srila Prabhupada the Prominent Link

Srila Prabhupada: The Prominent Link

Recently I had the good fortune to meet one of my God brothers, Dhira Govinda Prabhu. It was on the appearance day of Srila Bhaktisiddhanta Sarasvati Thakur. I had heard of him, and in the past, had posted some of his writings, and had read his book “Srila Prabhupada; The Prominent Link”, but had not yet meet him. I found him to be a very nice devotee of good character. And just to give his voice a broader range we decided to post his book Srila Prabhupada The Prominent Link as well as the Prominent Link Supplementary Articles here.

Click on either of the above underlined links to read or save the pdf files.

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The Absolute Necessity of a Spiritual Master—The Universal Teacher

Srila Prabhupadajpg

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The Absolute Necessity of a Spiritual Master—The Universal Teacher
By His Divine Grace A.C. Bhaktivedanta Swami Prabhupada
Founder-Acharya of the world-wide Hare Krishna Movement

In February 1936, in Bombay, India, the members of a reputed religious society, the Gaudiya Matha, were astonished by the powerful and eloquent words of a young member who spoke in honor of his spiritual master, Srila Bhaktisiddhanta Sarasvati Gosvami. Three decades later, the young speaker would become the world-renowned founder and spiritual master of the Krishna consciousness movement. Srila Prabhupada’s presentation is a memorable statement on the importance of the guru in spiritual life.

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Bringing People to Srila Prabhupada

Srila Prabhupada on Vyasasana

Recently I was staying at a friends house, and in the room where I was spending the night there was one book by Giriraj Swami entitled “Watering the Seed”. I happened to open it and began reading from the Preface:

…from that first meeting with Srila Prabhupada, my whole life’s purpose became to bring people to meet Srila Prabhupada. And I was able to do that for many years. But when he passed away, I wondered ‘what will be my service now?’. My whole service had been to bring people to Srila Prabhupada.

Now I understand that Srila Prabhupada is always present, and that by speaking of him, hearing about him, remembering him, and, most significantly, by studying his books and following his instructions, we can experience his presence. So I can continue doing what I was doing when he was personally present-introducing soul’s to Srila Prabhupada-and that is what I feel most natural doing. Because I know that somehow or other, if someone comes in touch with Srila Prabhupada, his life will become successful. (Watering the Seed, Preface)

Now, I am always encouraged when I hear my Godbrothers speaking in this way, because this is how I have always felt, and continue to feel. That my main purpose, as a disciple, is to bring people to Srila Prabhupada, and there-by bringing them to Krishna.

Bhakti-latā / Devotional Creeper

Srila Prabhupada preaching to disciples

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“…If one thinks that there are many pseudo devotees or nondevotees in the Kṛṣṇa Consciousness Society, one can keep direct company with the spiritual master, and if there is any doubt, one should consult the spiritual master. However, unless one follows the spiritual master’s instructions and the regulative principles governing chanting and hearing the holy name of the Lord, one cannot become a pure devotee. By one’s mental concoctions, one falls down… (CC Madhya 19.157 purport)

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Letter on Initiation

Letter to Hansadutta

I read this letter today, by Srila Prabhupada to Hamsadutta Prabhu, written in 1973, putting in practice, the process of ritvik initiation (although we did not have a name for it then, it was simply how it was done); “…Please accept my blessings. I am in due receipt of your letter dated April 7, 1973 and am pleased to accept the following boys and girls as my initiated disciples.

I am also enclosing Gayatri Mantras for the 14 disciples and 10 sacred threads duly chanted upon by me for the men disciples. You show them how to count on the fingers, and let them hear the mantra chanted by me on the tape through the right ear.”

What I find interesting is how devotees today will decry and belittle the Ritvik Process of initiation, but this was how the initiations were performed in the early days of our movement. The majority of disciples, initiated by Srila Prabhupada when he was personally present, received initiation exactly as it was described in above letter. We almost all recieved Ritvik initiation from Srila Prabhupada. I know I did.

Anyway, food for thought.

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The Secret of Success in Spiritual Life

Srila Prabhupada, Secret of Success in Spiritual Life

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“The Words of the Spiritual Master”
by Ananda devi dasi

“Believing in the words of His Spiritual Master, Sri Chaitanya Mahaprabhu introduced the Sankirtana movement, just as the present Krishna Consciousness movement was started with belief in the words of our Spiritual Master. He wanted to preach, we believed in his words and tried somehow or other to fulfill them, and now this movement has become successful all over the world. Therefore faith in the words of the Spiritual Master and the Supreme Personality of Godhead is the secret of success. Sri Chaitanya Mahaprabhu never disobeyed the orders of His Spiritual Master and stopped propagating the Sankirtana movement.

Srila Bhaktisiddhanta Saraswati Goswami, at the time of his passing away, ordered all his disciples to work conjointly to preach the message of Sri Chaitanya Mahaprabhu all over the world. Later, however, some self-interested, foolish disciples disobeyed his orders. Each one wanted to become head of the mission, and they fought in the courts, neglecting the orders of their Spiritual Master, and the entire mission was defeated. We are not proud of this, however the truth must be explained. We believed in the words of our Spiritual Master and started in a humble way-in a helpless way – but due to the spiritual force of the Supreme Authority, this movement has become successful.” (From the Chaitanya Charitamrita written and presented by Srila A.C. Bhaktivedanta Swami, Srila Prabhupada Cc Adi 7.95-96)

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Because He Has Got A Little Independence

Srila Prabhupada

The following is a very famous room conversation that took place in 1976. It contains some very important lessons.

Acyutānanda: What prompts the soul to misuse his independence or improperly use…?

Prabhupāda: Because he has got little independence. Yathecchasi tathā, he has got this.

Acyutānanda: Why do some misuse it and some never misuse it?

Prabhupāda: That depends on him. If one is determined that “I shall only act according to the advice of my Guru Mahārāja,” then he’s perfect. One has to submit like Arjuna said, śiṣyas te ‘haṁ śādhi māṁ prapannam [Bg. 2.7]. Otherwise he’ll argue….

Devotee: Even nitya-siddha has guru.

Yaśomatīnandana: Even the liberated soul, nitya-siddha.

Prabhupāda: Liberated soul never says that “I am liberated.” As soon as he says “liberated,” he’s a rascal. A liberated soul will never say that “I am liberated.” That is liberated. Caitanya Mahāprabhu, He is God—guru more mūrkha dekhi’ karila śāsan [Cc. Ādi 7.71]. “My Guru Mahārāja saw Me a fool number one, and he has chastised Me.” He’s God. This is the example. If one remains always a servant ever-lastingly of guru, then he is liberated. And as soon as he thinks that he is liberated, he’s a rascal. That is the teaching of Caitanya Mahāprabhu. Guru more mūrkha dekhi’. Caitanya Mahāprabhu is mūrkha? Why He’s posing Himself that mūrkha? “I am fool number one.” That means that is liberation. You must be ready always to be chastised by guru. Then he’s liberated. And as soon as he thinks that “I am beyond this chastisement, I am liberated,” he’s a rascal. Why Caitanya Mahāprabhu says guru more mūrkha dekhi’ karila śāsan? This is sahajiyā-vāda. He is thinking, “Oh I have become liberated. I don’t require any direction of my guru. I’m liberated.” Then he’s rascal. Why this Gauḍīya Maṭha failed? Because they tried to become more than guru. He, before passing away, he gave all direction and never said that “This man should be the next ācārya.” But these people, just after his passing away they began to fight, who shall be ācārya. That is the failure. They never thought, “Why Guru Mahārāja gave us instruction so many things, why he did not say that this man should be ācārya?” They wanted to create artificially somebody ācārya and everything failed. They did not consider even with common sense that if Guru Mahārāja wanted to appoint somebody as ācārya, why did he not say? He said so many things, and this point he missed? The real point? And they insist upon it. They declared some unfit person to become ācārya. Then another man came, then another, ācārya, another ācārya. So better remain a foolish person perpetually to be directed by Guru Mahārāja. That is perfection. And as soon as he learns the Guru Mahārāja is dead, “Now I am so advanced that I can kill my guru and I become guru.” Then he’s finished. (from room conversation August 16, 1976)

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The Guru Issue

Hansadutta

My good friend and Godbrother Hansadutta Prabhu, has asked me to post this nice paper written by H.H. Bhakti Charu Swami on “Correcting ISKCON’s Guru System”, and his reply. Both the article and response have been alive in cyberspace for some time now, but the the Truth bears repeating.

Response to Bhakti Caru Swami
by Hansadutta das
[Hansadutta’s response was also posted at ISKCON Bangalore’s website]

Dear Bhakti Caru Maharaja,

Please accept my most humble obeisances, all glories to Srila Prabhupada. It’s been some years since we met and associated in person (Mayapur 2003, later in Berkeley, California temple). I think of you often with fond memories. Sometimes you asked me how “The Guru problem might be solved.” We would discuss, but nothing came of it. Now you have publicly posed the issue, so I feel I should make some comments that might shed some light on the matter. Please allow me to go thru your presentation and make some comments.

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My Dear Sons and Daughters

prabhupadawriting

I was reading some of the letters that Srila Prabhupada had written addressed to “My Dear Sons and Daughters”, and was moved by how affectionate and personal these letters are. So I put together this post of some of these letters. How fortunate are all the devotees who in Srila Prabhupada’s words; “So you have now got the golden opportunity of this human form of life, and it is not by chance that you have met your spiritual master…” We are meeting him again each day through his vani, his words.

My Dear Sons and Daughters,

…I can understand that you are all very eligible candidates for going back to Home, back to Godhead. And the process is simple. Simply follow the regulative principles with determination, and you will become free from all attachment to maya, by Krishna’s Grace. The example is when the sun is in the sky, there is no question of darkness. Similarly, when Hare Krishna Mantra is vibrating on your tongue and you are hearing attentively, then your consciousness becomes clear or Krishna Consciousness, and there is no question of maya or hazy consciousness. Just as when the light and the darkness come together, the darkness cannot stand before the light, so maya cannot remain in the presence of Krishna. Always remember therefore to chant Hare Krishna, and that will save you in all circumstances without any doubt.
Hoping this will meet you all in good health.

Your ever well-wisher,
A.C. Bhaktivedanta Swami

…Now my request to you all is that you very seriously stick to the principles of devotional service, observing strictly the four basic restrictions, and without fail always chant at least 16 rounds on your beads daily, and be happy.

If you practice these basic principles successfully, not forgetting your duty even for a moment, automatically your love for Krishna will come out and you will keep yourselves always enthusiastic to serve Krishna. So you have now got the golden opportunity of this human form of life, and it is not by chance that you have met your spiritual master, so if you are intelligent you will conclude that, whatever else I may do, I must accomplish the supreme goal of my life in this very lifetime and go back to home, back to Godhead…

Hoping this meets you all in good health.

Your ever well-wisher,
A.C. Bhaktivedanta Swami

…Now it is your duty that you always must keep yourselves fit in Krishna’s service. The formula is very simple and if you will follow undeviatingly then your rapid advancement in Krishna Consciousness is certain. All of you must chant at least 16 rounds of beads daily and without fail. That is first and foremost. And follow all the rules and regulations of devotional life rigidly. Read all our books, attend classes and aratis, go on street Sankirtana, and always be thinking of Krishna. That is the point. Somehow or other always be thinking of Krishna. Then you will be happy and your going back to home, back to Godhead will be certain…

Your ever well-wisher,
A.C. Bhaktivedanta Swami

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Harinama Dikska Written Test Question Paper

BackTo-Godhead-ISKCON-Initiation

Harinama Dikska Question Paper

Sometime back, we published the “Harinama Diksha Reference Material and Study Guide“. Today we share with you the “Harinama Dikska Question Paper”. This was put out by the devotees at ISKCON Bangalore, and is very interesting. I won’t say anymore about it now, other than to say it is worth taking a few minutes to ‘take the test’, by answering the few basic questions.

click on following link

Harinam_Diksha_Question_Paper

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Appearance Day of Oṁ Viṣṇupāda Śrī Śrīmad Bhaktisiddhānta Sarasvatī Gosvāmī Mahārāja

Srila Bhaktivinoda holding young Bhaktisiddhanta

Today marks the appearance day of Srila Bhaktisiddhanta Sarasvati Goswami Maharaja, the spiritual master of our Srila Prabhupada. We honor his appearance day with a half day fast, and this short post.

Or he takes his birth in a family of transcendentalists who are surely great in wisdom. Verily, such a birth is rare in this world.
(Bhagavad-gita As It Is 6.42)

Birth in a family of yogīs or transcendentalists—those with great wisdom—is praised herein because the child born in such a family receives spiritual impetus from the very beginning of his life. It is especially the case in the ācārya or gosvāmī families. Such families are very learned and devoted by tradition and training, and thus they become spiritual masters. (From purport)

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Letters by Srila Prabhupada

Srila Prabhupada letters

In this letter to Mukunda dasa, Srila Prabhupada answers many relevant questions about the qualifications of a bona fide spiritual master.

My Dear Mukunda,

Please accept my blessings. I thank you very much for your letter of June 3, 1969, and I have noted the contents carefully.

…The answer to your Istagosthi questions are as follows: Unless one is a resident of Krishna Loka, one cannot be a Spiritual Master. That is the first proposition. A layman cannot be a Spiritual Master, and if he becomes so then he will simply create disturbance. And who is a liberated person? One who knows Krishna.

…Your next question, whether the Spiritual Master was formerly a conditioned soul, actually a bona fide Spiritual Master is never a conditioned soul. There are three kinds of liberated persons. They are called 1) sadhan siddha, 2) kripa siddha, and 3) nitya siddha. Sadhan siddha means one who has attained perfection by executing the regulative principles of devotional service. Kripa siddha means one who has attained perfection by the special mercy of Krishna and the Spiritual Master, and nitya siddha means one who was never contaminated. The symptoms of nitya siddha is that from the beginning of his life he is attached to Krishna, and he is never tired of rendering service to Krishna. So we have to know what is what by these symptoms.

…You are correct when you say that when the Spiritual Master speaks it should be taken that Krishna is speaking. That is a fact. A Spiritual Master must be liberated. It does not matter if he has come from Krishna Loka or he is liberated from here. But he must be liberated. The science of how one is liberated is explained above, but when one is liberated, there is no need of distinction whether he has come directly from Krishna Loka or from the material world. But in the broader sense everyone comes from Krishna Loka. When one forgets Krishna he is conditioned, when one remembers Krishna he is liberated. I hope this will clear up these points. I hope this will meet you in good health.

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The Rtvik Representative Of The Acharya

Hencefoward poster 1

The following is an article, I have wanted to include for some time now, which was written by Krsnacandra Prabhu and posted on his page Prabhupadvision.com. In light of our recent post entitled Sri Madhu Pandit’s Official Reply to the EC we feel it is timely, and of utmost importance to our society that we understand the issues. Although our page is not intended as a political forum, it is a tool in the mission of our spiritual master, for the propagation of The Hare Krishna Movement or Krishna Consciousness.

Now that Śrīla Prabhupāda has named these representatives Temple Presidents may henceforward send recommendations for first and second initiation to whichever of these eleven representatives are nearest their Temple.

After considering the recommendation, these representatives many accept the devotee as an initiated disciple of Śrīla Prabhupāda by giving a spiritual name, or in the case of a second initiation, by chanting on the Gāyatrī thread just as Śrīla Prabhupāda had done.

The name of a newly initiated disciple should be sent by the representative who has accepted him or her to Śrīla Prabhupāda, to be included in Divine Grace’s “Initiated Disciples” book. (from July 9th letter)

The Rtvik Representative Of The Acharya
by Kṛṣṇacandra Dāsa – Vṛndāvan:

Shortly after His Divine Grace A. C. Bhaktivedanta Swami Śrīla Prabhupāda entered into his Samādhi līlā in 1977; 11 of his senior disciples and members of the GBC who held the official position of representatives of His Divine Grace in 1st and 2nd spiritual initiations [as per July 9th Document], without authority and without an order by His Divine Grace announced themselves to be pure devotees of the Lord and forcibly seized the titles, roles and functions of acharyas and Initiating Spiritual Masters of ISKCON.

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Approaching a Bona Fide Guru

Srila Prabhupada with books

The following is chapter four in our series on the Teaching of Lord Kapila entitled “Approaching a Bona Fide Guru”. This is a nice chapter for anyone who is serious about receiving spiritual knowledge, and interested to know the process. We are fortunate in this age to have the books of His Divine Grace A. C. Bhaktivedanta Swami Prabhupada to guide us. Human knowledge was originally preserved through oral tradition, but today we have this knowledge preserved in the books of His Divine Grace.

Any person who seriously desires to achieve real happiness must seek out a bona fide spiritual master… (Śrīmad-Bhāgavatam 11.3.21)

…A bona fide guru does not impart some self-styled, concocted knowledge; his knowledge is standard and received from the paramparā system. He is also firmly fixed in the service of the Supreme Personality of Godhead (brahma-niṣṭham). These are his two qualifications: he must have heard the Vedic knowledge through the disciplic succession, and he must be established in service to the Supreme Lord.

Teachings of Lord Kapila, the Son of Devahūti
By His Divine Grace A. C. Bhaktivedanta Swami Prabhupāda
Chapter Four

Approaching a Bona Fide Guru

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With All the Humility at My Command

Srila Prabhupada

Personally, I have no hope for any direct service for the coming crores of births of the sojourn of my life, but I am confident that some day or other I shall be delivered from this mire of delusion in which I am at present so deeply sunk. Therefore let me with all my earnestness pray at the lotus feet of my divine master to allow me to suffer the lot for which I am destined due to my past misdoings, but to let me have this power of recollection: that I am nothing but a tiny servant of the Almighty Absolute Godhead, realized through the unflinching mercy of my divine master. Let me therefore bow down at his lotus feet with all the humility at my command. -Abhay Charan Das 1936

The following speech was delivered in 1936 Bombay by the pure devotee who three decades later will become the world-renowned spiritual master of The Hare Krishna Movement. Abhay Charan das who latter becomes His Divine Grace A.C. Bhaktivedanta Swami Prabhupada glorifies his own spiritual master Śrīla Bhaktisiddhānta Sarasvatī Goswami Maharaja with this Appearance day (Vyasa-puja) homage. Thus we learn the time-honored meaning of spiritual master, disciple and their relationship.

With All the Humility at My Command
His Divine Grace A. C. Bhaktivedanta Swami Prabhupada

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Previous Older Entries

108 Imporant Slokas from the 1972 Bhagavad-gita As It Is

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The Hare Krishna Cookbook

Songs of the Vaisnava Acaryas

Bhagavad-gita As It Is 1972 Edition “Online”

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