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Dandavats! All Glories to Sri Guru and Sri Gauranga!

Showing Kindness to All Living Entities

Monday, 23 June 2008 / Published in Book distribution, Vaisesika Dasa / 4,974 views

Submitted by Shrutadev das: This was a letter written to the devotees at ISV (ISKCON of Silicon Valley)

By Vaisesika Dasa

Dear Highly Esteemed Team ISV devotees,

Please accept my humble obeisances. All glories to Srila Prabhupada.

Our stated mission at ISV is to show kindness to all living beings by vigorously promoting public hari nama sankirtana performances and the massive distribution of transcendental literature.

We also maintain a temple at which we worship the Lord in a spiritually surcharged, friendly & welcoming atmosphere, encouraging devotees of all levels in the process of Krsna consciousness through systematic training, and by regularly offering access to the practice of the nine direct methods of Bhakti Yoga, following the mood and process of His Divine Grace A.C. Bhaktivedanta Swami Prabhupada, our Founder/Acarya.

Silicon Valley is already rife with organizations and opulent buildings that are filled up with workers.

So, what do we have to offer that’s special? What shall be our distinguishing quality that will attract the people of the Bay Area and beyond?

Is it our ability to collect money, to build or maintain properties, or to perform detailed rituals? Probably not. (And if so, there are others who do it much better than we.) Rather, I contend that we will and should become most known for qualities that are not “things” and that are in extremely rare supply in the modern world: generosity, mercy, and kindness.

Somewhere in the mad rush to expand technology and catch the illusive “American dream,” masses of people have been left behind and have lost contact with each other and with themselves. People are oppressed by demanding work that pays them barely enough to live; old people often become “shut-ins,” isolated in their own homes; family farms are being steadily replaced by giant “agribusiness”; instead of friendly local commerce and “mom and pop” stores, impersonal “big box” enterprises now dominate local neighborhoods; corporations unceremoniously lay off workers with little or no thought of their ultimate welfare . . .

In this environment, people are starving for more personal attention offered with a real sense of service.

The day my mother died, some kids up the block from her house happened to walk by when her body was being carried out. These kids came back two hours later with warm cookies — that they had personally baked — a bouquet of flowers, and a note expressing sympathy for our loss. Such a simple act of thoughtfulness was of course, deeply touching to my family and me. Are these acts important or is it merely the bottom line that counts?

I am arguing here that people of the world are starving for these loving exchanges and for pure kindness.

I know that I am.

Fortunately for us, we have based our mission at ISV on these very ideals. With such a solid basis for our existence, we can expect to be successful in every way. After all, when we strip away everything else, we’ll find that this is what people really want. It is what we want. And, in fact, this is what Krsna wants.

In the Bhagavad Gita Krsna directly speaks about the qualities in a devotee that please Him:

“One who is not envious but is a kind friend to all living entities, who does not think himself a proprietor and is free from false ego … is very dear to Me.”

“My dear Arjuna, he who engages in My pure devotional service, free from the contaminations of fruitive activities and mental speculation, he who works for Me, who makes Me the supreme goal of his life, and who is friendly to every living being—he certainly comes to Me” (BG 11.55).

These qualities are not only valued by Krsna but are also universally pleasing. Our success will come by focusing on them. To do this requires that we think of ourselves as humble servants and that we scheme how to assist others. When someone comes into our group, it is our duty, (and privilege) to make sure that we attend to their needs. For instance, when someone enters the temple room, we should all feel eager to see that they have a place to sit, a book stand in front of them and that they know which page we are on. We should make new people feel welcome and learn their names, greeting them with warmth. At big festivals, we must go out of our way to make sure that everyone gets what they need: some personal attention. Preaching outside the temple we should leave each person feeling that he or she has just met a saintly person. Saintly means generous, friendly, happy, kind . . .

We should honor our existing members as the rarest souls in the universe who have all come to ISV due to the Lord’s divine arrangement. About the devotees who had assembled in ISKCON by 1972, Srila Prabhupada wrote: “The devotees of Krishna are the most exalted persons on this planet, better than kings, all of them, so we should always remember that and, like the bumblebee, always look for the nectar or the best qualities of a person.”

ISV members are family members. Let’s make sure that they feel included and that they are getting the spiritual and material support they need to thrive. Generosity and kindness: without these, our so-called mission would become yet another stale religious institution in which properties, money and rituals out weigh the importance of the Vaisnava (or even human) spirit. How careful we must be to regularly examine our motives and methods! For if we compromise our ideals for the sake of expediency or out of pride we will lose what is most valuable. So called devotional practice that neglects showing kindness to other living beings — who are Krsna’s parts and parcels — is useless.

Srila Jiva Goswami compares these efforts to offering ghee on ashes instead of into the sacrificial fire.

To achieve these lofty ideals we must surrender, maintaining our own commitment to our sadhana.

Those who are surrendering, putting aside their personal interests and agendas, become free to take up the interests and agenda of the Lord and his representatives, the great Acaryas. Such devotees can join the Sankirtana Party of Lord Caitanya Mahapraphu and spread His mission. They can serve others wholeheartedly.

There is no greater privilege; nor can the reputation of one who does so be matched by any one in creation. Of those who have achieved this status in life, Lord Krsna in Bhagavad

Gita says:

“There is no servant in this world more dear to Me than” he, nor will there ever be one more dear.”

Therefore, as aspiring members of such an exalted mission we must become aware of these principles and practice them. Our ISV mission is not confined to 951 South Bascom. 951 South Bascom is one place we meet up to worship the Lord and serve His devotees. Rather, we must carry the spirit of our mission everywhere: to our homes, workplaces, and into our interactions with all kinds of people and living beings. Real temple building begins in our own hearts and lives. This ideal was personally illustrated by Sri Caitanya Mahaprabhu Whose cleansing of the Gundica temple was a metaphor for cleansing our own hearts.

Srila Prabhupada writes:

“By His practical activity, Sri Caitanya Mahaprabhu informed us how to cleanse our hearts. Once the heart is cleansed, we should invite Lord Sri Krsna to sit down, and we should observe the festival by

distributing prasadam and chanting the Hare Krsna maha-mantra . . . Thus the cleansing of the Gundica-mandira was conducted by Sri Caitanya Mahaprabhu to let us know how the heart should be cleansed and soothed to receive Lord Sri Krsna and enable Him to sit within the heart without disturbance..” (Cc 12.135).

In Srimad Bhagavatam, Lord Siva also affirms this principle thus:

tapyante loka-tapena
sadhavah prayaso janah
paramaradhanam tad dhi

“It is said that great personalities almost always accept voluntary suffering because of the suffering of people in general. This is considered the highest method of worshiping the Supreme Personality of Godhead, who is present in everyone’s heart.”

To realize and work steadily in this spirit is our real mission at ISV. And those who do so will please the Supreme Personality of Godhead and thus attain the ultimate goal of life, love for God. There

is no religious principle higher than this.
Thank you very much.

Jaya Bhaktivinoda Thakura.

Jaya Srila Prabhupada.

Your servant,

Vaisesika Dasa

Here’s are a few views of the devotees engaged during the Bhaktivinoda Monthly Sankirtana Festival being held at ISV this week (click on the player to start the video):

Krishna carnival lights up London
Flower Palace in Nandagram

5 Responses to “Showing Kindness to All Living Entities”

  1. vaisesika dasa says :

    Dear Prabhu or Prabhvi (who might have just read this post and wondered about its context),

    pamho agtSP

    A clarification . . .

    I wrote this letter last week to the devotees at ISKCON of Silicon Valley (ISV) just before we started our recent Monthly Sankirtana Festival to honor the divine disappearance of Srila Bhaktivinoda Thakura (coming up on July 2nd). It was sent out on one of our Yahoogroups for sankirtana devotees.

    My friend Srutadeva Prabhu read the letter and asked if he could post it on Dandavats. Now I see that he has.

    With gratitude,

    Your humble servant,

    Vaisesika Dasa

  2. Locanananda dasa says :

    That’s some beautiful preaching, Vaisesika prabhu. There is so much our movement has to offer the people of Silicon Valley. They are as much in need of the mercy of the Lord as the people of any other region in the world. They may have incalculable wealth and they may have special technical skills, but devoid of Krishna consciousness, they are considered dead although breathing, and their lives are full of misery.

    There is no doubt about it: everyone is after loving exchange, but people do not know that Krishna is the ultimate loveable object. The most wonderful feature of Srila Prabhupada’s books is that every page conveys the essence of eternal truth by presenting Sri Krishna, the Supreme Personality of Godhead, as the reservoir of pleasure and topmost friend of all living entities. The science of self-realization explained in Srila Prabhupada’s writings is undoubtedly the king of education and the postgraduate study of religion.

    We can distribute so many books, but we must also create interest in the book by presenting it on the strength of its contents. There are illustrations in all of our books that Srila Prabhupada called “windows into the spiritual world.” He particularly suggested that we quote the verse beginning with “This Bhagavata Purana is as brilliant as the sun,” (S.B. 1.3.43) to induce people to buy our books. These books are so full of transcendental potency that reading even one line can turn someone’s life around.

    In addition to our books and topmost philosophy, the Hare Krishna movement is the embodiment of priti-laksanam, or loving interaction that places Krishna at the center. Based on this principle, devotees in our line do not withhold from others the gifts handed down to them by the spiritual master. Our movement freely distributes the chanting of the Holy Name which is the religion of the Age, the yuga-dharma. We distribute prasadam, foodstuffs offered to the Lord with love and devotion. And perhaps most amazing of all is that we invite the public to see and bow down before the installed Deities of the Lord who so kindly appear in Their original transcendental form on our altar, just to accept personal service from fallen souls like ourselves who are struggling to become free from the bodily concept of life.

    Wishing you all success in your preaching endeavors, I beg to remain

    Your servant,
    Locanananda dasa

  3. scooty.ram says :

    The most most most fantastic hare krishna devotee i had ever met.
    He is always enthusiatic and 100% krishna conscious.

    It is really mystical how you end up feeling blissful when this person is around.

    His desire and encouragement for devotees to do book distribution is so amazing!

    His kirtan is simply ecstatic.

    I am pretty new to this movement, i really feel unfortunate to have missed the Hare krishnas during 1960s and 70s.

    However i get a small glimpse of how ecstatic and lively it muat have been during those initial days of the movement when harinam and book distribution was reaching every new place every day,after seeing vaishesika prabhu.

    Also he is most helpful and understanding.
    When i was in SFO, he used to come and pick me up for the temple program all the time.

    Needless to say , the temple becomes more energetic when both vaish and satyadeva prabhu is present.

    The congregation or the temple visiting bhaktas are so kind and loving to the new devotees.(yad yad acharati shreshtas..)

    The warmth and kindness i rececived from devotees of ISV will be remembered and cherished as most important event of my life.I really miss them now.

    Thanks a lot to vaish prabhu for all his help.
    I pray to Sri Govinda for his good health and yearly trips to india as part of his thirtha yatra!

    Vaiseshika prabhu ki Jai!!

    Rajagopal(scooty ram)
    PS:i loved going to temple in his car.he used to share many things abt the hare krishna movement

  4. Locanananda dasa says :

    Where do these books end up?

    “For my mother, organized religion too often dressed up closed-mindedness in the garb of piety, cruelty and oppression in the cloak of righteousness.

    “This isn’t to say that she provided me with no religious instruction. In her mind, a working knowledge of the world’s great religions was a necessary part of any well-rounded education. In our household the Bible, the Koran, and the Bhagavad Gita sat on the shelf alongside books of Greek and Norse and African mythology.”

    From “The Audacity of Hope” by Barack Obama (pp. 203-4)

  5. Akruranatha says :

    The YouTube video link apparently got changed. You should be able to see the sankirtan video at

    One special thing about the way Vaish is organizing things here at ISV can be seen in this letter he sent to all the local devotees. He keeps the goal and vision for our mission in the forefront. He always keeps reminding us to keep our eye on the ball, not to just passionately run off and try to grow things for the sake of growing them.

    The goals Vaish keeps reminding us of are to really preach and practice devotional service in accordance with the divine qualities Krishna describes in Bhagavad Gita. This comes across loud and clear in his letter.

    We have to appreciate devotees. They are a precious resource. They are the one indespensible ingredient of ISKCON. We could somehow get along having devotees and no money, buildings, or vehicles, but even if we had huge, opulent temples and a big bank balance, it would not count for anything without devotees.

    As Vaish points out, so-called devotional service that does not show kindness to all living beings is not real devotional service.

    Just as real kindness means to give everyone a chance for Krishna consciousness, real Krishna consciousness means true and proper respect for all living beings.

    The demoniac, bewildered by false ego, strength, pride, lust and anger, think themselves enjoyers and want to smash everything and everyone who gets in the way of their plans for sensual enjoyment. They become envious of the Personality of Godhead who resides in their own body and the bodies of others, and thus they blaspheme against Krishna consciousness and disturb the devotees.

    By constantly hearing and chanting about Krishna, the devotees’ hearts remain free from lust, greed, anger, false prestige, envy and illusion. Thus they are able to act as truly affectionate friends to each other and can be truly merciful and kind to everyone.

    Krishna always protects the devotees. Our community leaders also are always thinking of the welfare of the devotees in the community, making sure they have what they need to grow and thrive in their Krishna consciuosness.

    Just like parents will sacrifice everything for the welfare of their children, our ISKCON community leaders should always look after the welfare of the devotees and put this value above everything else. That will please Krishna more than opulent worship or big buildings.