Sometime in the 1730’s, a young Scottish philosopher tried, and failed, to find himself. David Hume reflected upon this experience in his first book, A Treatise of Human Nature (1739). The passage is much quoted and anthologized. I encountered it frequently as an undergraduate philosophy major, for my teachers regarded it as a watershed in Western philosophy. CONTINUE READING THIS ARTICLE »
Following the lunar calendar, the day after Sri Krishna Janmastami marks the celebration of the birth of Sri Bhaktivedanta Swami (September 1, 1896–November 14, 1977), the Vaishnava monk, global proponent of Krishna bhakti and founder of the International Society for Krishna Consciousness.
To honor the day I’ll share a poem penned for the occasion in 1986 by one of Sri Bhaktivedanta Swami’s disciples, Tamal Krishna Goswami. It’s a poem I find particularly edifying in understanding the nature of the relationship between guru and disciple as well as the tension between the pains and joys of renunciation. It’s entitled “Oh, My Master’s Lotus Feet Are Bittersweet”.
Kaustubha das CONTINUE READING THIS ARTICLE »
A group of us gathered in the bedroom after the wedding, and as the large reels of the tape recorder slowly revolved, the room filled with the sound of “the Swami” leading the chanting of the Hare Krishna mantra. I sang in response, answering his call. Looking back, the chanting on that August afternoon in 1967 appears to me now as a rare moment in time, a kind of karmic singularity, like the pinched waist of an hourglass, into which my whole past poured and from which my entire future would expand. CONTINUE READING THIS ARTICLE »
In the Srimad Bhagavatam’s third canto, chapter twenty-nine, Kapila (an avatar of Krishna) instructs his mother Devahuti regarding how a bhakti-yogi pleases the Lord, not through empty ritual, but through recognition of the Lord everywhere, and through behavior illumined by such vision. In this translation Sri Bhaktivedanta Swami uses the term “Supersoul” (usually used as a literal translation for Paramatma) for the Sanskrit bhuta-atma and atmanam, referring to the four-armed form of Lord Vishnu residing in the hearts of all beings, who acts as the overseer and the enabler of their actions as well as the friend who reminds them of how to act towards their own advancement. CONTINUE READING THIS ARTICLE »
My first connection with the Hare Krishna maha-mantra happened during the “Summer of Love” in August, 1967 in the course of a wedding within a three-room apartment in Powelton Village, the budding hippie district in Philadelphia. The wedding epitomized the time and place. CONTINUE READING THIS ARTICLE »