In January and February 2003, Śrīla Gurudeva went to Hawaii, then to San Francisco, Alachua, Orlando, Coral Springs, and then to Brazil. In the summer tour, Śrīla Gurudeva went to Thailand, again to Hawaii, and then to Tucson, Arizona. Gurudeva then went to Los Angeles, where he emphasized book distribution.

On May 11, Śrīla Gurudeva said: “The books that Śrīla Bhaktivedānta Svāmī Mahārāja produced, and also the books that I am now producing, should be printed in very large numbers—and now  is taking place.

If book distribution is done for one’s own purposes, such as personal profit or reputation, then it is not pure bhakti. A devotee must think, ‘They should have this book and read it thoroughly, and they should enter into a deep understanding of bhakti.’ Śrī Caitanya Mahāprabhu returned from South India with Śrī Brahma-samhita and Śrī Kṛṣṇa-karṇāmṛta, and He told the devotees that they should make a necklace of the teachings therein. Why? Because there is so much siddhānta in them. Without knowing all these subjects, you cannot enter the realm of bhakti. While distributing books, you should think, ‘I am doing this to please my Gurudeva and Kṛṣṇa.’ Know that book distribution is essential. Śrī Caitanya Mahāprabhu did this Himself, and we must follow His example. But always be careful. It should not be saṅgasiddha or aropa-siddha bhakti.”

On May 12, Śrīla Gurudeva said, “Śrī Caitanya Mahāprabhu Himself distributed books to others. [He gave Kṛṣṇa-Karṇāmṛta and the Brahma-saṁhitā to the devotees]. So don’t think that book distribution is aropa-siddha-bhakti. Never think like that—never. If the motive is other than to please Kṛṣṇa—if it is to earn money to maintain oneself—then it is bogus, aropa-siddha-bhakti. However, if any book is distributed to please Gurudeva and Kṛṣṇa, for the benefit of all human beings and the entire universe, then  is not aropa-siddha-bhakti; it is svarūpa-siddha-bhakti, pure bhakti. You should chant, remember, perform nagara-saṅkirtana, and book distribution; and go through the books; learn the essence of these books and try to follow sincerely. Then it will not be aropa-siddha-bhakti.”

From Los Angeles Śrīla Gurudeva went to New Braja, arriving there on May 13. He spoke about the gradations and development of bhakti, as related in the Brhad-Bhāgavatāmṛta. On May 17, during a darśana in his quarters, Śrīla Gurudeva requested the senior devotees to plan the structure for a lasting spiritual organization to help people worldwide follow bhakti. Śrīla Gurudeva said, “I want that we should make some committees for book distribution and publishing and for social work also, because without social work we cannot have government approval in India or anywhere. In this life we will have to also do social work—like feeding the poor, giving clothing, giving medicine, helping children, and making schools.” Śrīla Gurudeva also said, “You should not be concerned if so many people are coming and going. It is inevitable.”

A devotee said, “Some of the senior devotees are very concerned for the work you have done, on our behalf and for the whole world. We are concerned that it will be preserved, now and in the future, as much as possible.”

Śrīla Gurudeva replied, “I know that you want this, but if you are not developing your own Kṛṣṇa consciousness, you will never be able to do anything. So, try to develop.”

“We need this sāṅga to develop,” the devotee said, “for so many years we have tried to practice on our own, and now we have found a home where we can have like-minded devotees; so, we are concerned.”

Śrīla Gurudeva said, “I know you will try, but at last you will see: ‘
Oh, zero.’ I know this. This world is controlled by Kāla (Time) and Kali-yuga. Kali-yuga will not give you permission to do all these good things. You will make a plan, and in a moment the result will be zero.”

“Should we try though?”

“You should try,” Gurudeva said. “To try is bhakti. But I never want that rules and regulations should govern bhakti. Try to realize. Do bhajana and don’t be engaged too much in these things. I am never involved in this. You should realize my mood, and if you don’t realize it you will have so many troubles. I have served my gurus a little, and that is why I do some little bhajana. That is why I can reconcile all these things, and I never become unhappy. I have never been unhappy in my entire life.”

After New Braja, Śrīla Gurudeva went to San Francisco, Houston, and then to Holland, and from there to England. In Birmingham, on June 14, Śrīla Gurudeva presided over an interfaith discourse that had been arranged. The Lord Mayor, Mr. John Alden, welcomed Śrīla Gurudeva to Birmingham. The Indian Consulate General, Mr. Sapra, thanked Gurudeva for coming and glorified his work of reading the message of peace, love, and happiness to the world. Mr. O.P. Sharma, MBE, President of Hindu Counsel of Temples, UK, and airperson of the National Interfaith Conference, was next to welcome Śrīla Gurudeva. He spoke on sanātana-dharma, and expressed his gratitude to Gurudeva for coming to Birmingham to bless everyone.

The Bishop of Birmingham, Dr. Chris Hewer, Theologian of the Church of England, next welcomed Śrīla Gurudeva and spoke before the assembly, saying that both England and Europe are in need of the wisdom of how to live with diversity. He said, “Ultimately there is only one humanity and therefore we have much to learn from one another.” He thanked Śrīla Gurudeva for coming to are his spiritual wisdom, and prayed that all would learn from him how we can better live in unity with respect for our diversity.

After welcoming Śrīla Gurudeva, the spokesman for the Muslim community, Mr. Ahmed, said that these meetings were very important to learn about different peoples’ customs as it helped to break down barriers. Barriers create hatred, and in the Muslim community there is a saying, “Love for all, hatred for none.” He concluded by saying that the best way to attain peace is to learn about one another, and he thanked Śrīla Gurudeva for inviting them on that occasion.

Elder Hunter was next to speak. He said that he was representing the leader of the Western European Church of Jesus Christ, Latter Day Saints. He said that his community had always appreciated the courtesies that it had received from the Gauḍīya Maṭha’s Hare Kṛṣṇa community over the years. He then said that although his community does not totally understand the Vaiṣṇava culture and the methods of worship, it does understand the universal language of love, peace, devotion, and respect. He concluded by saying that he felt these qualities were in Śrīla Gurudeva, and that he was sitting in the presence and at the feet of a great leader. Lastly, Susan Haliday, Interfaith Peace Worker and mediator between Palestine and Israelis in Jerusalem, thanked Śrīla Gurudeva for coming and said that he is always happy to be with gatherings of people of different faiths, because that is where peace starts, “With us, in our hearts, today.”

After the guests spoke and welcomed him, Śrīla Gurudeva began his discourse. He said, “I am very happy that the organizers of this festival have invited the representatives of Birmingham City here today. I am especially happy that the Lord Mayor is here. He represents all of the citizens of Birmingham, and therefore I think that all are here. The same is true regarding the representative of India, the Counselor General, our Sanātana-dharmist. Because he is here, I feel that all those who are originally from India are also here. I am also happy that the representatives of Christianity, my brother Muslims, Sikhs, and other representatives are here today.

“Hearing them speak about ‘universal unity in diversity’ has made me very happy, and I especially appreciate the words of my Oṁ Prakāśajī, O.P. Sharma. He has studied the Indian scriptures and is a learned person. I am especially happy that he quoted our Vedas and Upaniṣads, and said that the word ‘Hindu’ has not been used anywhere in the Vedas. The word used is ‘Sanātana,’ referring to that eternal religion which is one without a second. Another word is āryan, which means one who knows the goal of life and strives for that goal. Some of you may think that we are a sectarian religion, but this is not so. We believe that all living entities are in the family of the one God. Some think that only humans are members of God’s family, but this is also not true. All creatures: plants, creepers, grasses, fish, and animals are also created by God. They are all children of the same, one God. Therefore, why should we not have love for all—creepers, cows, elephants, pigs, and all other varieties of animals? We should not only love humans.

“There are good instructions in the Vedas of India, the Koran of Islam, and in the Bible, but we disobey their advice to some extent. We wrongly think that animals and birds exist only for us to eat, and that we should not feel love and affection for them. Earlier, the Counselor General said that ‘God is Love and Love is God.’ Similarly, in Indian Vedic culture it is said, ‘Sarve sukhino bhavantu’—everyone should be happy—not only humans, but creepers and other plant life, as well as pigs, birds, and all other animals and all types of aquatics. They are also in the family of the same God.

“There are not many gods—there is only one, the Supreme Lord. Allah, Brahma, Bhagavān, Yahweh and the many other names are names for the same, one God; but according to differences in language and culture, He is known by these different names.

“If we have love for the Supreme Lord, why do we quarrel amongst ourselves? He is the same one God, and yet we are quarrelling. This is because we don’t know what actual love and affection is. If there is real love and affection for the one God, we would naturally have love and affection for each other. That is why it is said in Indian Vedic culture, ‘Sarve sukhino bhavantu: all should be happy.’ ”

Śrīla Gurudeva then spoke about the essence of the Vedic teachings, that we are not this body, and that worldly objects and relations can never give true and lasting happiness. He said that we should follow the lessons given in genuine scriptures.

Śrīla Gurudeva said, “It is said in the Sanskrit language that the Supreme Lord is both ānanda and ānandamaya. This means that He Himself is unlimited happiness, and He is also the container and sum total of happiness. He is happiness personified, the reservoir or abode of all happiness. We are all children of the same God, and we are also therefore the same in essence. We are part and parcel of that happiness—embodiments of His qualities. The only difference between us, the living beings, and the Supreme Lord is that He is great (vibhu), whereas the living entity is small (anu). We are minute, whereas He is akhaṇḍa-tattva, unlimited.

“We are all part and parcel of the same Supreme Lord, yet we have divided up this Earth, saying, ‘This is my count, this is your count.’ The sun is one, the air is one, and we should therefore also be as one. This is unity in diversity. We are like the Supreme Lord, created in His image, but unfortunately we have deviated from Him and have forgotten who we are. We think of these material bodies as the self. We end our days in collecting money and gold, and in securing positions, thinking that these things will make us happy. But this conception is totally wrong. These bodies are mortal, and all the doctors and scientists in the entire universe cannot stop old age from approaching. You should always remember that one day, after 20, 30, or 50 years, you will become old. Your beauty and power will disappear, you won’t be able to walk without the help of a stick, and after some time you will die. You will have to give up everything you have accumulated in this world. Nothing can save you; only God can save you—if you are really serving Him.

“God is all attractive; He is very beautiful. The Bible states, ‘God created man after His own image.’ What does this statement mean?
If God has no image or form, then why is this written in the Bible? His body is transcendental— is not mortal. God means: G—generator, the generator of this world; O—operator, the operator of this world; and D—destroyer, the destroyer of this world. God nourishes and supports everything in the universe. If God were formless (nirākāra), without a transcendental form, and if He were without transcendental qualities such as the quality of mercy, then what would be the use of worshiping such a bogus God? God is all-powerful; He has the power to have a form. He is also very merciful. He has created this entire world for us, because we deviated from Him. His illusory energy, called māyā, has kept us in the prison cell of this body and mind. We should always remember this.

“In the Vedas and Upaniṣads it is written that we are all children of that Happiness, the Supreme Lord. We should try to realize this truth. My request is that you should not quarrel with other religious practioners.
As the Counselor General said earlier, this is the way to live happily in this world. Our religion is one without a second, and that religion is love. We should love each other.

“How can we do so? The Supreme Lord has created cows, and those cows give milk to all, without distinction or discrimination. They don’t consider caste or creed. In the Vedas, the cow is referred to as go-mātā—mother cow. As far as I have read, nowhere in the translations of the Bible is it written that you should kill cows or any animal. I think that after some time the Roman Catholics added something and changed the meaning of the Bible’s original texts, and I think that in the original Old Testament  is not written like that.

“This is also true of the Koran. Some modern Muslims think that if one is a kafir, a non-believer, he should be killed. If one thinks, ‘Everyone outside of Islam is a non-believer, and we are the only religious persons, the only sons of Allah;’ this thinking is quite wrong. Everyone should act according to his scriptures. He should follow according to his religion, and he should not have any objection to the religion of others. Only then can there be unity in diversity.

“What is the meaning of unity in diversity, or diversity in unity, if there is no faith or love and affection for God and for all living entities? One can call the Lord by different names, in any language, but God is one without a second. We should try to realize this fact, and try to have love and affection for all humans, all animals, trees, plants, creepers, and so on. Indian Vedic culture states that if a field has been ploughed, you should not walk on it. A seed has been planted in that field, and if you walk there the seed will die. Don’t cause pain and suffering to anyone. Our mission is the same as that of the revered Mayor and other honored guests present.”

At this time the Mayor and a few other dignitaries had to leave for prior engagements. Before they left, Śrīla Gurudeva formally presented each of them with gifts of his own books and those of Śrīla Bhaktivedānta Svāmī Prabhupāda. After their departure Śrīla Gurudeva called for bhajanas to be sung, and after that he continued speaking.

Śrīla Gurudeva said; I am happy to see that so many devotees have come from the many European countries, from America, and also from several other parts of the world. My heartly blessings to you all. I have come here to inspire you, to give you kṛṣṇa-tattva, bhakti-tattva, and all other tattvas (established truths). Try to put them in your pocket; don’t return to your homes empty-handed. Don’t be weak; try to develop faith in our Guru-paramparā, and in our scriptures like Bhagavad-gītā,
Śrī Caitanya-caritāmṛta, and Śrīmad-Bhāgavatam—thus you will become strong. You should preach the mission of love and affection that I have explained.

“We should try to help all others. We should not fight amongst ourselves. If we are fighting amongst ourselves and maintaining differences of opinion, how can others learn anything from us? My desire is that you love one another—love other Vaiṣṇavas according to their gradation of devotion. I have been to America, and to European countries like Holland; next we will go to Spain and then onto Germany. All our festivals have been very successful, and hundreds of devotees came to each festival and became very inspired.”

Śrīla Gurudeva returned to India in July, after lecturing in Spain and Germany. In India over the late summer and fall, Śrīla Gurudeva preached extensively, holding public programs in Pune and Mumbaī, and a press conference and public lectures in Jammu, Kashmir. He then preached in Jaipur, Mathurā, and Vṛndāvana.

Every year there is a five-day festival all over Vṛndāvana called Jhulana-yātrā, at which time the Deities of Śrī Śrī Rādhā-Kṛṣṇa are swung, on a beautifully decorated swing, by hundreds of thousands of Vrajavāsīs and others, in various temples and homes. Śrīla Gurudeva annually leads this swing festival at Śrī Keśavajī Gauḍīya Maṭha and Śrī Rūpa-Sanātana Gauḍīya Maṭha. For five days after the Jhulana-yātrā festival, Śrīla Gurudeva would preside over a commemoration in honor of Śrīla Rūpa Gosvāmī.

On August 8, at Rūpa-Sanātana Gauḍīya Maṭha, after swinging the Deities of Rādhā-Kṛṣṇa, Śrīla Gurudeva said, “In the month of Śravaṇa (the rainy season), the clouds in the sky begin to make a thundering sound and very fine, mist-like rain drizzles everywhere. The atmosphere is very beautiful and pleasant after the heat of the summer months, for at that time all the forests of Vṛndāvana begin to bloom. Many types of flowers on both sides of the Yamunā, such as belī, camelī, jūhī, and mādhavī begin to bloom, and the bumblebees look here and there and chant, ‘Rādhe Rādhe.’ The cuckoos call, ‘Rādhe Rādhe,’ and the peacocks and peahens all call out ‘Keka keka.’ Ke means: which male person has the ability to do a very wonderful thing? What is that wonderful thing? Śrīmatī Rādhikā’s māna, as well as Her shyness and patience, are like a very tall and immovable mountain. Which male person—ke—can crush that mountain into powder so that there is nothing left? This person is Śrī Kṛṣṇa. Ka means: which female person can do a very wonderful thing? There is a powerful mad elephant named Kṛṣṇa who no one can control. One person, however, by the goad of Her māna, can catch that elephant, bring Him under Her control, and then bind Him in the shackle of Her prema. Who is that? It is Śrīmatī Rādhikā. In this way, the peacocks and peahens glorify Śrī Śrī Rādhā and Kṛṣṇa.”

Śrīla Gurudeva described the sweet swinging pastimes of Radha Krsna in the rainy season. He then said, “Tomorrow is the disappearance day of Srila Rupa Gosvāmīpāda. Even though there are so many great ācāryas, Śrīla Rūpa Gosvāmīpāda has been attributed with the honor of being that person who has established the mano-’bhīṣṭaṁ, the innermost heart’s desire, of Śrī Caitanya Mahāprabhu. In addition to manifesting the endless varieties and wonder of vipralambha and sambhoga (separation and meeting), he also established the superiority of parakīya-rasa.”

Śrīla Gurudeva described how Srila Rupa Gosvami elucidated how Sri Caitanya Mahāprabhu experiences parakīyabhakti-rasa (which is within the heart of Śrīmatī Rādhikā). Gurudeva then said, “These deliberations and philosophical conclusions are extremely deep and very difficult to understand. It is therefore essential that one come under the guidance of sad-guru and Vaiṣṇavas and give one’s full time and energy, very hard labor, and enthusiastic work in the service of that guru, and in chanting harināma and doing bhajana. One should also make a great effort to understand and realize the reason for which Śrīla Rūpa Gosvāmīpāda appeared in this world and why he wrote so many books, such as Śrī Bhakti-rasāmṛta-sindhu, Śrī Ujjvala-nilamani, Śrī Vidagdha-madhava, and Śrī Lalita-madhava. Unless one comes to the lotus feet of Śrī Guru and makes a very great endeavor to understand these topics, after some time he will be taken away by māyā and will engage in mundane activities. This is a very important point.”

In Vṛndāvana, on October 11, Śrīla Gurudeva instructed the newly formed art department to create over thirty mural drawings and several paintings of Śrī Kṛṣṇa’s Govardhana-līlā for the very large, newly constructed Giridhārī Gauḍīya Maṭha in Govardhana, where he and all the Parikramā devotees would be residing during their ten-day Govardhana festival from October 18 to October 27. In addition, these paintings would be used to illustrate his books. He also requested that they make expert versions of illustrations of the ten Viṣṇu avatāras, and those paintings would later be turned into painted bas-reliefs for the same Govardhana Maṭha.

Srila Gurudeva ki Jaya! (Excerpted from the Bhaktabandhav book publication, “Sri Guru Darshan”. Available from: rasik@bhaktabandhav.org )