Istanbul, Turkey: Sept 12-17, 2008
Dandavat Pranams, All Glories to Sri Sri Guru and Gauranga.
You will be happy to know that, after his very busy Radhastami program in Mathura and before his large program in Odessa, Ukraine, Srila Bhaktivedanta Narayana Gosvami Maharaja spent a week resting, writing, and preaching in Istanbul, Turkey.
Srila Narayana Gosvami Maharaja with Savitri dasi, who organized and hosted his stay in Istanbul.
Sometimes walking along the waterfront with his devotees and guests...
Sometimes giving darsana.
The following is a transcription of the darsana he gave on September 16, for some local devotees and interested guests, and also for the world:]
[Srila Narayana Gosvami Maharaja:] Do you have any questions?
[Guest:] I have so many questions; a whole list. I stayed in India. I made so many plans, and all those plans were frustrated, but eventually everything worked out well. Then I realized that there must be a controller apart from myself, and that controller is looking after all of us, arranging everything.
[Srila Narayana Gosvami Maharaja:] That Supreme Lord is Sri Krsna. He knows what you are doing at each and every moment, and He knows everything about the entire creation as well. He is very strict, and also very kind.
[Guest:] How does the spiritual journey begin, and what happens to affect this journey?
[Srila Narayana Gosvami Maharaja:] If you want to go to school, you first agree to follow the rules and regulations of the school, which only the teacher can explain to you. Then you are admitted in the school, and then the teacher trains you.
In the same way, when you come to this transcendental school, this bhakti-yoga school, you ask a very expert teacher, "How can I enter the transcendental world?" That teacher will first say, "Surrender totally to me," and then he will instruct you in the process. He will tell you, "In this world everyone performs activities with the goal of becoming happy, but we see that no one has become happy, nor is anyone becoming happy. People may say, ‘We are happy,' but very soon old age runs after them along with so many diseases, and then at last they become hopeless." You must take the shelter of a teacher who can instruct you in the process of happiness.
[Guest:] Some people say that as the spiritual energy of the planet increases, everyone will become their own guru. They say that others are simply mirrors of you, so that you can see your own self. What do you think of this idea?
[Srila Narayana Gosvami Maharaja:] This is quite absurd. Since the beginning of the creation there is no one who has learned any knowledge from himself. From the time a child takes birth, his parents, brothers, and sisters teach him everything. They teach him to say "papa," "aunti," "water," "father," "mother," and so on. They teach him, "This is fire. Don't put your hand in fire." His superiors and family members teach him everything.
In the same way, your guru will teach you how to enter into the transcendental world. Without the help of others, how can a man obtain knowledge? Is there even one example of someone who became wise without taking knowledge from others? Is there any example in this world? Are you an example?
[Guest:] Oh no. This is not my theory; I am simply presenting the opinions of others. I am neutral in this regard.
[Srila Narayana Gosvami Maharaja:] They are quite wrong. Don't believe them. What they say is quite false. They cannot teach you that you are not this physical body, that you will soon grow old and die, and that you will not be able to take even a farthing with you into your next life. We can teach you all of this, and so much more. We will teach you bhakti-yoga, devotion to Krsna. We can teach you how, by doing this, your life will be successful. We can teach you that the Supreme Lord is very, very kind, beautiful, and causelessly merciful. He has created this entire creation, and it is He who supports it. He is like a father, a mother, or any other loving relative. So abandon all of your worldly desires and practice bhakti-yoga.
[Srila Narayana Gosvami Maharaja (to a devotee):] Do you have any questions?
[Devotee:] Every day I have so many problems in my life, and because of this I cannot focus on my devotional practices.
[Srila Narayana Gosvami Maharaja:] This means that you are not practicing bhakti-yoga. Every day millions upon millions of people are dying, and even more than that are taking birth. Some are feeling miserable and some think they are happy, and this is all due to their past activities. Why bother about all this? Come into bhakti-yoga and don't worry about this. You can think, "If I am like them (materialists), I will have to suffer."
[Devotee:] You are saying that every day we have to chant japa?
[Srila Narayana Gosvami Maharaja:] Chanting, and also reading and remembering the sweet transcendental pastimes of Sri Krsna. Then you will be happy in this world.
[Guest:] So many people here are practicing meditation.
[Srila Narayana Gosvami Maharaja:] To them I ask, "Can you meditate on my father? Do you know what he was like? No? If you cannot meditate on my father because you have not seen him and you do not know him, how can you meditate on God? Have you seen God, so that you can meditate on him? Do you know what He looks like? Is He ugly, or beautiful? Is He strong? If you have seen someone or something, then you can meditate upon that person or that thing. It is better if you can chant His name: "Hare Krsna Hare Krsna Krsna Krsna Hare Hare, Hare Rama Hare Rama Rama Rama Hare Hare." Sing, and dance. Do you know how to dance? Do this, and be happy forever.
[Devotee:] How is this meditation?
[Srila Narayana Gosvami Maharaja:] Oh, this gives great happiness - great pleasure. By chanting you will realize the Supreme Lord. You will forget this material body, and you will be able to realize your spiritual body.
[Guest:] There are so many ways to liberation.
[Srila Narayana Gosvami Maharaja:] No, this is not true. There are not many ways to liberation. Can you become liberated by smoking cigarettes, or by drinking wine? Can you do so?
[Guest:] Rather I should say that there are so many different philosophies and types of yoga.
[Srila Narayana Gosvami Maharaja:] Other philosophies fail. They all fail to give perfection. Only the philosophy of bhakti-yoga is perfect. Only by this can you achieve perfection and liberation.
[Guest:] How can we know that what you say is true?
[Srila Narayana Gosvami Maharaja:] If you are a new student in a school and you do not know even A, B, C, D, can you understand whether or not a teacher is expert? Can you know?
[Srila Narayana Gosvami Maharaja:] Yes, you can. There is one way by which you can understand if a teacher is qualified. If you see that each year so many students are passing their exams with the help of that teacher, then you can know that he is okay. This is the only way to know.
You will see that so many devotees are coming to me from all over the world. They desire to be happy, and by coming to me they are becoming happy. If you will come with us to Odessa, even for a single day, you will see that over 1,000 devotees are there, and all of them are very happy. They want to continually hear sweet classes about Krsna consciousness. I have toured the world twenty-nine times, and throughout the world a variety of high-class businessmen, doctors, lawyers, engineers, and others are coming to me, taking my shelter, and becoming happy. So many young men are leaving their very wealthy families and coming to me. They are becoming happy, and now they are also preaching this Krsna consciousness mission everywhere. This is the proof. Do you understand? You can ask him whether or not he is happy.
[Guest (asking Sripad Damodara Maharaja):] Are you happy?
[Damodara Maharaja (with a big smile:] Yes.
[Srila Narayana Gosvami Maharaja (to Damodara Maharaja):] Why have you come to me. Why did you give up everything to serve me?
[Damodara Maharaja:] I could see that even though my father had everything, he was still not happy. I was also not feeling happiness.
[Srila Narayana Gosvami Maharaja:] He came to me, and I gave nothing material to him; and now he is serving me day and night. Savitri gave up everything, even though she was a highly-posted lawyer, she gave up everything. So do like them; come to me and I will give you happiness.
[Guest:] But how do we know if someone is liberated.
[Srila Narayana Gosvami Maharaja:] That person will be always happy. He will not need anything from anyone. He is detached from the world and he is always joyful.
[Guest:] Our minds are always disturbed; we are not peaceful.
[Srila Narayana Gosvami Maharaja:] She has so many desires that are not being fulfilled; therefore she is unhappy and disturbed. Is it true that you have many desires to be happy?
[Guest:] Yes, it is quite true.
[Srila Narayana Gosvami Maharaja:] That is why you are not happy; so you will have to give them all up. I will solve all of your problems in a moment.
[Guest:] There is a discussion of masculine and feminine energy in a human being. Can you tell us about this?
[Srila Narayana Gosvami Maharaja:] Purusa (male) is blind, and prakrti (female) is lame and very, very weak. Together they assist one another in the creation of this world. Still, if they have no power from the Supreme Lord, neither can do anything. Male, female, and time are all subordinate to the Supreme Lord. If He empowers them, they mix together to create the world. Ahankara (false ego), maha-tattva (the sum-total of material elements), prakrti (female), purusa (male), kala (time, which is a manifestation of the Supreme Lord) - without God, they cannot do anything.
[Srila Maharaja left Istanbul on September 18, 2008 and went to Odessa, Ukraine for a six-day festival, to the great happiness of over 600 devotees. After that he returned to Istanbul for another week of resting, writing, and programs. After that, he will return to Delhi, India, where he will be the guest-of-honor at the Ratha-yatra festival as described below:]