20201107 HH JAYAPATAKA SWAMI, SRILA PRABHUPADA MEMOIRS WITH HH CANDRAMAULI SWAMI
H.G.Jagannātha Kirtanananda Das [Host]: Welcome everybody and Hare Krishna for another session of Prabhupāda Memoirs and I am so thrilled that I have His Holiness Candramouli Swami Maharaja with us here today and for those that, may not know Maharaja His Holiness Candramauli Swami Maharaja is a direct disciple of Śrīla Prabhupāda and initiating spiritual master in our ISKCON movement. He came into contact with Krishna Consciousness in Denver, Colorado at the age of 24 and in the early 1980’s he became involved in the ISKCON Prison Ministry in the USA and began visiting prisons, visiting prisoners and holding program’s in jails, along with regular writing letters to them, to the inmates and then sending them Śrīla Prabhupāda’s books. And of-course he has been doing this tirelessly since then and currently he is based in Slovenia and at present he is offering spiritual guidance around Europe, USA and India and on the back of all these Maharaja is also an amazing writer from his experiences that he has got through the years where he has created a book called ‘Holy Jail’ specially with the Prison Service and an another book which you can see on the top of that which is called ‘Inner Voices’ which we will be talking about as well later on. So, Maharaja thank you so much for joining us today and how are you?
H.H.Candramauli Maharaja: Fine, thank you it is nice to be with you and everybody else who is out there in virtual land.
H.G.Jagannātha Kirtanananda Das: Yes, we have about from the different platforms at the moment and keep on joining about over 200-250 people on. So thank you so much for joining and as we get into this, this is about Prabhupāda’s Memoirs hearing directly from the disciples of Śrīla Prabhupāda, so please any questions you have, that you would like to ask His Holiness Candramauli Swami Maharaja then do please message them, I can try and look into the chat box and then at a certain times, we will try and bring the questions up as well.
So, to get started if I may so 24 you started and you got into contact with Krishna Consciousness how did that come about Candramauli Maharaja? How did that happen?
H.H.Candramauli Maharaja: Well, going back almost 47 years it has been a little blurry, but I met somehow or other in my travels before I became a devotee I wound up in a place called Denver, Colorado looking for spiritual direction at that time having heard from others that a place called Boulder, Colorado which is a city about 1 hour away by car from Denver was a sort of a Mecca of spiritual Ashrams, from personalities who had came from India. So, I started to investigate a little bit in that area and then by Krishna’s arrangement, I happened to meet the devotees and while that coming to the program in the Denver, Colorado Temple.
H.G.Jagannātha Kirtanananda Das: Wow, so that’s how it all started and you know 24 you know it is still I know lot of people they start their Krishna Consciousness life a bit later on in life and so 24 may be in those days, but in nowadays I think it is quite a young time to really get into it and then the next stage was you went to New Vrindavan if I am correct from there.
H.H.Candramauli Maharaja: But actually I was brought up in the New York Temple, the Brooklyn famous Henry Street Temple, which has so many memories of Śrīla Prabhupāda and that was in right after meeting the devotees in Denver because I am from the East Coast, I was from the area of New Jersey, so I returned to that area and then still having some connection with the devotees with the process I started to visit the temple in New York.
H.G.Jagannātha Kirtanananda Das: Oh, I see that’s how then it started to gain momentum in your spiritual life, I gather.
H.H.Candramauli Maharaja: Then I happened to meet one personality who is also a very senior devotee in our movement, spiritual master now was Devamrita Swami, he was also attending the Brooklyn temple so we became somewhat friends and during our interactions he sort of mentioned that there was a farm community, a rural community in a place called West Virginia. So I became a little curious and during one Sunday feast lecture, I came in contact with the Temple President at that time who was Kuladri Prabhu and we talked and I liked the idea of trying New Vrindavan so and I wound up going.
H.G.Jagannātha Kirtanananda Das: So, the city life was not you said, the rural style was calling you, is that the way it was?
H.H.Chandramouli Maharaja: Yeah, actually that is actually correct I wasn’t so much inspired to practice spiritual life in the cities I thought of a more and more of a natural rural settings would be more you know pleasing and easier for me to practice spiritual life because I didn’t know what I was getting into at that time. When we wound up getting there we were just working from morning to night doing various chores, but you know that was the inspiration to move away from the cities.
H.G.Jagannātha Kirtanananda Das: Wow, and we hear from speaking to some of the other Prabhupāda disciples, that it was a very quick process, it wasn’t like okay I have come in contact with devotees, then five years or six years later we move into a temple and we start doing the service. It was quite quick wasn’t it, this time frame from Denver, Colorado, then you went to New York, from New York you went to New Vrindavan what was the timespan?
H.H.Candramauli Maharaja: That was actually very quick, my actual connection in Denver was in the later part of 1972 and then I wound up in New Vrindavan in March of 1973, so spending a couple of months in New York prior to that and then I was in West Virginia, I was a farm boy, you can say.
Jagannātha Kirtanananda Das: Now we are coming to 1973 because that’s also when you were initiated at that time as well if I am correct.
Chandramouli Swamy Maharaja: Yeah, it was in September of the same year.
H.G.Jagannātha Kirtanananda Das: And was it for the first time you met Śrīla Prabhupāda? Or did you see before?
H.H.Candramauli Maharaja: No, my first encounter with Śrīla Prabhupāda was in 1974 when he had come to New Vrindavan for a meeting with all the leaders they chose New Vrindavan as a place to meet and the leaders from different temples, different yatras around America came to see Śrīla Prabhupāda and that was a two or three days festival with Prabhupāda was there, gave classes and mostly met with his leaders and trying to inspire them in their service, they were giving reports like that. So, of course at that time all I could do was able to see Śrīla Prabhupāda, was nothing more than that. And I did not have any personal interaction in 1974, wasn’t actually until 1976 when Prabhupāda came second time to New Vrindavan, not the second time but an another time was when I was actually able to do some service for Prabhupāda.
H.G.Jagannātha Kirtanananda Das: And that service if I am correct is this the Peda story?
H.H.Candramauli Maharaja: Well, that’s how it is labelled, yeah, it’s called the Peda Story, but, yeah, I was the cook at that time and we were up in one of the areas of New Vrindavan, we had three small farms, one bigger farm and two smaller farms and which were different areas of the New Vrindavan community. So, the most distant place away from the main farm was a place called Vrindavan which was about two miles through the woods, over streams, up-hills and round-up in this area and there was a little shack there. Prabhupāda had come there actually in 1968 the first time, when New Vrindavan first began and then again in 1969 Prabhupāda stayed there actually for a month. In the same place that we made that our temple in our Ashram, it was only one building at that time. And then later on there were a few houses constructed around the area. Well, that’s where I was staying at that time when I was the cook if I may say. The word cook is used quite loosely because I didn’t know how to cook, I was just somebody they gave me the service and said this is your service. So, it was on the job training.
H.G.Jagannātha Kirtanananda Das: Farmer, you turned into a farmer, you turned into a cook and it was all on the job.
Candramauli Swamy Maharaja: Yeah, and I lived all my life in the cities, so.
H.G.Jagannātha Kirtanananda Das: So, what a transformation and you like, before we go into you know the past times with Śrīla Prabhupāda just, you just mentioned you weren’t a cook, and you were put into the service how did that feel? And how did you able to, because, I am sure there are budding cooks out there right now that may not know where to start, a student going to University, there is people from all over the world that might want to know, is like wow, from that suddenly then you are put into this, you are not cooking for yourself but you are cooking for others as well. So, how did that feel and how did you able to learn?
H.H.Candramauli Maharaja: Well, I guess the atmosphere was very supportive, in the sense that there was lot of enthusiasm for Krishna Consciousness and everything was focused on serving Śrīla Prabhupāda, by serving his mission and so for us of course the mission was narrowed to where we were and that was serving the deities. So, the community leader at that time Kirtananda Swami, put a lot of emphasis on deity worship, making the deities the center of the community and providing as much what we say simple opulence that we were able to provide at that time because there was not much wealth in the community. Quite, back we did not have sources of income other than when devotees would come there, they will give a little bit of donation with the money that they brought with them. So, the community didn’t have much support but the deities became the main focus. So, being up into the Brahmacarya Ashram we had a set of deities named Sri Sri Radha Vrindavan Nath the main deities were of course Radha Vrindavan Chandra and then there were other set of deities called Radha Madhava. Radha Vrindavan Chandra were beautiful, beautiful marble deities, full size. Radha Vrindavan Nath and Radha Madhava were smaller brass deities. And today you can go to New Vrindavan and you can see all those three deities on the main altar there.
H.G.Jagannātha Kirtanananda Das: There you go, if anybody online had been there, comments with thumbs up or a yes, so we just know who has been, who hasn’t. It would be also lovely to see who hasn’t. Also, any questions you have about what you are hearing please, please, please message in the group. And I have seen someone has putting their hands together there, so Satyasundar has, so thank you, so like that.
So, Maharaja you felt with the cooking itself, starting that service and doing what you have done and then of course that opportunity came to serve Śrīla Prabhupāda, but I gather some were going to the airport and some were staying back, and I gather one it of you was yourself. And how was that situation can you paint the picture Śrīla Prabhupāda’s coming.
H.H.Candramauli Maharaja: Well, this is quite a scenario in a sense that there was lot of enthusiasm to somehow or the other be the person to go with Kirtananda Swamy to meet Śrīla Prabhupāda at the airport. And that became my desire also, I wanted to go of course I was thinking probably it’s going to be impossible, but still I was hoping against hope because my service was to stay in the kitchen. And practically I was the only cook, so it wasn’t like that we had an entourage of cooks, at that time Prabhupāda’s Palace was being built so most of the manpower was directed towards constructing the palace. So, there were only a few of us Radhanatha Swami, he was Radhanatha brahmacari at that time, who was the pujari and we had one devotee who would cut the wood because everything was done by wood then, cooking or heating, everything was done by wood and I was the cook. So, the three of us would be there throughout the day and then devotees would leave, the brahmacaris would leave after breakfast to go to build Prabhupāda’s palace and then, they would comeback in the evening. So, I was there practically alone well I could say I had the wonderful association of Radhanatha Swami during that time and we would always take lunch together like that. So, that was something, that we had every day. So, my cooking service was pretty much just maintaining the offering’s to the deities throughout the day and of course we cook breakfast for the devotees in the morning so that was all. And somehow or other, I can’t even recall but I was either inspired to or came up with the idea to learn how to cook milk sweets. So, that became my focus and so someone mentioned about Pedas so I decided to learn that, so I focused on that, as my main sweet and so I was cooking Pedas for the deities every day. Well, we always had supply of Pedas waiting to be offered to the deities was a regular offering, like that. So, when the opportunity came to go see Prabhupāda I was told you have to stay back and maintain the kitchen but we want devotees who could cook because other devotees who were cooking at the other farms to cook for Śrīla Prabhupāda and make various types of preparations which would be taken to Prabhupāda at the airport. So, I was asked to do Peda.
H.G.Jagannātha Kirtanananda Das: expert in it now, making it all the time.
H H Candramauli Swami: Well, it has been quite a while and so yeah, I stayed back and tried to cook some Peda for Prabhupāda, but somehow or other and this is a little personal, but I became a little bit emotionally disturbed by the fact that I wasn’t able to come to see Prabhupāda. In the sense that I wanted to go, but I couldn’t go and it was something that was on my mind all the time when I was cooking the Peda. And I was also listening to a beautiful bhajan, ‘Govindam Aadi Pursusham Tam Aham Bhajami’, the Brahma Samhita prayers sung by a wonderful devotee named Badaraj. Badaraj, he was an expert musician, expert singer and he, I was listening to his chanting of his Brahma Samhita prayers at the same time trying to cook Pedas, at the same time lamenting my situation. And so according to my estimation, the results of the cooking didn’t come out. [Maharaja laughs] I looked at it and I said oh no, and I said this is not going to be offered to Prabhupāda, the quality is not right. Previously, I was under the impression that Peda should be light in color but this one came out dark. And instead of very, the texture was different it was more like sticky rather than smooth. So, I thought alright what I would do is I had some Pedas that I had made for the deities that were ready to be offered, I would put them aside and when they come, give them those Pedas for Prabhupāda. But Krishna had another plan and His plan was quite what we say inconceivable is that I had not been in the kitchen when the devotees came around to collect the sweets to be given to Kirtananda Swami. So, it was Radhanatha brahmacari, Radhanatha Maharaja now, who came into the kitchen looking for the Peda and looking for me but couldn’t find it and they had to have it then, so they were leaving. And Maharaja has just recently told this to me, just may be a month ago may be a little bit more, he said you know I always thought from his words that ‘Peda should be dark’ and I always thought me myself that ‘Peda should be light’. So, when he saw the dark Pedas he took that.
H.G. Jagannatha Kirtanananda Das: Oh! I see.
H.H.Candramauli Maharaja: Which was the one that was I thought wasn’t offerable to Prabhupada and so he took that one and then left. When I came back I was thinking, I was cursing my faith thinking probably Prabhupada was going to say what a nonsense, kick this guy out of the kitchen. So, but then again the next day when Kirtanananda Swami returned, he was quite besides himself in happiness and he wanted to relate it to me, he said, “I saw Prabhupada do something he never does or never did what I saw, he ate three of your pedas one after another.
Three not one but three,
H.H.Candramauli Maharaja: Three in a row and I didn’t really know how to react to that but I just felt like I was blessed. Really blessed, like that so somehow or other by the mercy of Radhanatha Swami, Prabhupada got the pedas, that I intended to cook for him so and that’s how the whole story unfolded, so after that I felt really fortunate that somehow Prabhupada liked something, liked what I tried to prepare.
H.G. Jagannatha Kirtanananda Das: Such a nice way that that story happened and not just one but three so you must….
H H Candramauli Swami: That’s why Kirtanananda Swami was so incredulous, he said I never saw Prabhupada do that before, he takes three and one thing in a row like that, so that really kind of highlighted the whole thing.
H.G. Jagannatha Kirtanananda Das: We have a really nice comment coming just now Lalitangi Radha Devi dasi cooked, soaked in genuine devotion, she says. Thank you, thank you for that comment and you can definitely hear, as Candramauli Swami Maharaja is just talking there that number one he was not a cook at the start and he was not a farmer and he was put into this and it was the encouragement of the devotees that helped him to do this and that’s it I think that’s in the very nice point as well Candramauli Maharaja that, there’s a saying isn’t it that when you know a true friend or true person will believe in your capabilities more than you believe in yourself and that’s how we can move forward like here you had that loving relationships around that helped you to do this and even the pedas, Srila Prabhupada had three pedas not just one and I’m sure they were sugary as well so it’s it’s amazing to see this this so just on this this side what would you say to those devotees right now, that maybe feeling oh no that service may be too hard or you know or this service is like that what what’s take away message that you would like to give to them
H.H.Candramauli Maharaja: Well one thing I can reflect on which was quite a regular thing in the early days of Krishna consciousness, at least when Prabhupada was here a lot of services were emergency services, so it was never like if a person had a qualification or had a desire to do it. If someone was available a lot of time that service was given to them. So a lot of the experiences we had in doing services was learning the service as we were doing the service and that became a necessity a lot of times because it wasn’t about qualifications, it was about the need, need of the time and of course that’s not always perfect because sometimes people could not come up to the standards or even perform the service but it was just the way it was in those days. I think we’ve gotten away from that a little bit now.
H.G. Jagannatha Kirtanananda Das: It’s because of you know the generation like of yourselves have helped in creating that solid foundation that we don’t have to think about sinking in the sands, in the mud, you know you have built that for us it feels like from like you said the necessity was there. It’s like whatever was needed to be done you would do.
H.H.Candramauli Maharaja: Right
H.G. Jagannatha Kirtanananda Das: Now it’s come to a stage where devotees can now in a way choose what they would like to get involved in service and how they would like to serve. When those days it was a necessity we had to do these things there’s no ifs or buts but the loving community was what made it build. So, yes I definitely see where you’re coming from and that’s why it’s so nice to talk directly to disciples of Srila Prabhupada and hear about those struggles of how it was because it wasn’t plain sailing, but because of what all you have done we can do what we can do now and hopefully serve a little more in any little capacity we can so and like Sima Mehta said like the tag line of this place is, “No service is big or small, serve your spiritual master with love and devotion.” So the title of this was no service is big or small so please everyone remember that and I just want to now bring on to that’s not where you just stopped you’ve been doing so many other services in in this mission and one of them notably has to be to do with you know helping, showing that compassionate light to prisoners and going to prisons and helping them.
Can I ask how did that come about? You know, how, how did that happen? And then the thought because after that I know in UK as well this is something big and different parts of the world they are doing this but you know were pioneering this at such an early time.
H.H.Candramauli Maharaja: Well! I wasn’t I can’t actually take any credit in that regard, in the sense that the pioneer was done by one of my god brothers who inspired me to get involved and he was the one, at first started. Of course if we go back in history we find that it Srila Prabhupada was the original prison preacher. In 1962, even before Prabhupada came to America he came to the Tihar jail in Delhi and gave a talk and there’s a record there and there’s actually a letter that Prabhupada wrote to the jailor, Mr.Puri explaining how he felt that this that that this is a wonderful way to reach people with Krishna consciousness, this audience is perfect. So that was Prabhupada in 1962, Prabhupada again, Lokanath Swami Maharaja also went with Prabhupada I believe in 1972 again in India, I’m not sure of the particular jail they went to, it might have been the same place but yeah, so Prabhupada was the first person at least we can say within our society to do prison preaching.
H.G. Jagannatha Kirtanananda Das: Wow! Wow! So there you go so it’s 1962, this is when it was the first first taste of it and so this naturally. What was your inclination into getting into this.
H.H.Candramauli Maharaja: Yeah, so as I mentioned there was a god brother and his name is Chandrasekhar and he’s still very active in prison preaching now and he was writing letters, on the average of 20 letters a day to inmates and then he got very much inspired, in fact he started a whole series of writing to the heads of the you know penal institutions, if he could send Srila Prabhupada’s books in and he got some very little response but he built on that and then gradually he started developing a clientele with inmates where they were writing letters regularly and sending in books and so in our New Vrindavan community we had a situation, where one of our devotees wound up in jail in the local jail, so I started to go as a part of a group of devotees to visit him and that was my first experience with going in jails and at the same time I had connected with Chandrasekhar prabhu and he, he inspired me to join the letter writing team to take up some of the letters that he was writing, so then after experiencing going into jails, it just started to snowball from then, I found myself doing more and more correspondence with inmates and then making arrangements to visit some of them. A lot of the visits weren’t programs but they were just visits where I would meet the inmate and we would just you know talk about Krishna consciousness, find out a little bit about their personal life and that’s how everything developed with me, that was in the 90’s and then later on it just started to increase more and more but the main part of our prison preaching and it’s always been and still is, is sending Srila Prabhupada’s books into jails so that’s increasing all around the world now in different places.
H.G. Jagannatha Kirtanananda Das: Wow! So these, what book do you usually send you know if you’ve seen somebody that is it which book is the between the prison inmates that you found, that is the book that seems to be the one that connects with the most.
H.H.Candramauli Maharaja: Well, we found that, what was it? What was this one thick paperback book called, it slips my mind now, it’s a very it’s about 350 pages. Oh! I can’t remember the name of the book, it’s a simple title but I can’t remember.
H.G. Jagannatha Kirtanananda Das: Science of Self- Realization.
H.H.Candramauli Maharaja: You got it! Yes, Science of Self Realization. So we found that, that book was a book that really attracted the inmates and there was a lot of you know dialogue in the book you know like Prabhupada talking with other people back and forth and a lot of philosophy also and nicely written, easy to read and a lot a lot of material to work with and then from there after they became a little interested we started sending in Bhagavad Gita that became the main book after that.
H.G. Jagannatha Kirtanananda Das: Wow! So that’s how that’s that’s so so everybody out there Science of Self- Realization, check it out if you haven’t checked it out. It is something I personally find it’s it’s one of the ones that really connected with myself as well so when you said that number of pages, I was like okay got an idea now. But so with the with this service that’s been going on since the 1980’s you have been doing the prison services is there any because it’s been going on for some time now what is your, what is that inspiration that keeps you motivated to carry on. Was it something by Prabhupada, what is it?
H.H.Candramauli Maharaja: Well, the motivation aside from the, the idea of reaching out to others with Krishna consciousness is just how much these inmates really appreciate Krishna conscious, although they can’t really practice fully somehow or other many of them they just embrace the philosophy completely and then also the chanting. So around the world there are I would say thousands of inmates now who are chanting the holy names and regularly reading Prabhupada’s books and some of them are very active in trying to spread Krishna consciousness within the jails.
H.G. Jagannatha Kirtanananda Das: Wow!
H.H.Candramauli Maharaja: And we have some so many amazing, amazing, amazing experiences coming from them and also personal experiences that I have when I visited the jails because we have done programs in the jails also.
H.G. Jagannatha Kirtanananda Das: And saying that Lalitangi Radha devi dasi is asking can you share any particular story of an inmate becoming a devotee or?
H.H.Candramauli Maharaja: Well, there’s there’s there’s many but one that’s outstanding in my mind which is kind of a landmark story. We were preaching in one country which I cannot mention because we’re not allowed to be in that country and one of our devotees happened to get a position as a Hindu Chaplain in a particular jail in that country. And so he was there and he was trying to, you know give Bhagavad Gita classes and bring inmates in. And so one day he asked the head jailer, if there was any person of the Hindu origin who would be interested in coming to his Bhagavad Gita classes? So they said, “Well, we’ll see.” And after sometime they responded back by saying, there is one man he is actually on death row, he’s due to be executed soon and so we’ll ask him to come. And so he came and he was and he came and wasn’t so interested at first but he somehow rather started listening to the classes and lectures, talks, discussions and his interest really peaked fast, prior I should mention prior to that he was in denial about the crime that he was accused of and along with blaming other persons for his situation, his parents could not even talk to him because when they would come he would always complain about others after coming for a few months actually a little. It was actually less than a few months, maybe a couple of months he changed, completely changed. Started to really appreciate Bhagavad Gita, Krishna’s words, started regularly learning the verses and became practically the most enthusiastic person in the group. So much so that now, he admitted that yes I did the crime and he became somewhat remorseful and repentant and his whole demeanor attitude completely changed. After sometime that that time for his execution came very close and so just before then he had asked the jailers, “When you take me away, can I keep a copy of the Bhagavad Gita with me?” And he told the devotees, he said, “I want to become a devotee of Krishna in my next life.” So now of course he’s really he’s lost his fear of being executed he just he’s thinking that soon I’ll get a new body and I’ll be a devotee of Krishna, in my next life. He was expressing this and so when they were taking him away for his execution he was walking along with the jailers and usually he was waving goodbye to his friends who were in some of the cells as he was passing and he was saying, “I’m going to be a devotee of Krishna in my next life.” Of course he went to his execution with the Bhagavad Gita in his hand and the jailers came back to the devotee, the Hindu Chaplain said, “You know, what did you do to him we never saw anything like that he was he wasn’t at all resistant.” He said, when we’re taking a person away we have to drag them but this person he was just walking and so they were amazed to see the transformation in him and they were and they were curious to see how he became transferred, transformed.
H.G. Jagannatha Kirtanananda Das: Wow!
So this is an amazing story how a person went from one’s, one’s extreme to another simple by coming in contact with the devotee and the Bhagavad- Gita. Prabhupada’s Bhagavad Gita.
H.G. Jagannatha Kirtanananda Das: Wow! Thank you so much for sharing and Paul Pitts is saying, “All glories to you Candramauli Swami Maharaja! I was also involved in this service a few years back from both sides with Chandrasekhar Prabhu, this is an amazing service. ISKCON Prison Ministry is still there I believe. Anyway thank you for your kind service. I have also been to New Vrindavana.” So thank you for listening, thank you all it’s really kind of you and I just had so many people are really being touched by that you know. It’s you’re just showing the, the power of the holy names, of Prabhupada’s books and how he can transform someone’s life this is you’re hearing it, you know, I’m hearing this for the first time everybody and it’s it’s transformational, what you’re doing Candramauli Maharaja and the team. So thank you for sharing that.
H.H.Candramauli Maharaja: Yeah, there’s many devotees around the world who are actively engaged in prison preaching and we have two wonderful, wonderful amazing dedicated devotees in the UK and that are bringing Prabhupada’s books everywhere to jails in the UK just before this lockdown with the Covid happened, I was in London prior to that and we were doing regular jail programs, going in, meeting the inmates, giving classes and bringing books into the libraries. It was just like, I could say phenomenal, the success we were having. The different jails, were opening up, welcoming us with the books and every time we had a captivated audience of a least anywhere from 6 to 12 inmates for our program.
H.G. Jagannatha Kirtanananda Das: Oh! Wow and and just on that Chudamani Dasi saying here, “Hare Krishna Maharaja! Has book club reading with interactive sessions and preaching prison being implemented especially for a young offenders.” So there, is this seems to be that happening right now? That’s what it sounds like.
H.H.Candramauli Maharaja: A book club reading that means something that is organized through a particular, through a book club.
H.G. Jagannatha Kirtanananda Das: It’s so like she’s like just all getting together they’re reading they’re doing maybe systematic reading of the…
H.H.Candramauli Maharaja: Yeah that’s happening in different places right now around the world America has the most inmates practicing Krishna consciousness and of course I have been preaching in Slovenia and Croatia we, we were doing programs for the last five, six years here. We were able to get all of Srila Prabhupada’s books into all the jails in Croatia. All the books that had been translated into the local language which were many.
H.G. Jagannatha Kirtanananda Das: Wow!
H.H.Candramauli Maharaja: So that was done by a wonderful devotee named Mahasimha who worked very hard and had some connection with someone one of the ministers who gave permission and the result was, we got Prabhupada’s books in all the prison libraries in Croatia.
H.G. Jagannatha Kirtanananda Das: Wow! Mind blowing and actually for everybody out there, you want to get you know a copy and there’s a there’s a book being released by Maharaja sometime back and it’s called, “Holy Jail” and you can get it on Amazon and also there’s a website as well called www.holyjail.com. If you want to know more information go check out that website, it has all the information you need on there and yeah it sounds like a really interesting read as well. So thank you for compiling this and and helping others to understand the jail situation which is great and also if you want to know more about what Candramauli Maharaja is doing he’s got his website as well www.cmswami.com. So check that out as well.
So all right, I want to come on to, you know now yourself and I you know we’re aware that Covid has been around and everyone and of course you we’re so thankful that you’ve been how are you feeling right now? Are you know it’s really great that you’re talking to us and that when we heard, we’re like yes, we’ll speak to Candramauli Swami Maharaja. But he needs to recover you know and then suddenly we got a response to say yes, Maharaja will speak. Then we realized, you’re speaking every day you’re you’re online, you’re on zoom and you’re doing so it was just so inspiring to hear and we’re just wondering how are you at the moment? How are you recovering?
H.H.Candramauli Maharaja: Well by the, I guess by the prayers from the devotees, Krishna’s mercy has allowed me to keep my strength up where I can continue on my services, I’m not what you could say you know in the best situation in terms of health. But it’s not something that is causing me, to you know give up my activities. I’m okay, there’s points of being tired but other than that’s fine. I’m fine by Krishna’s mercy, devotees’ prayers actually.
H.G. Jagannatha Kirtanananda Das: Wow! You know it’s very inspiring and praying you know we’re all praying that you completely recover and take this exponentially with the prison service and what you’re doing all these service, because Europe is a place now that you’re quite regular at. Of course, you know we’ve seen you in the UK I remember you coming a few times down for our 24 hour kirtan in Birmingham, then also in Manchester, in ISKCON Manchester held kirtans over there and you know you’re coming down and gracing us with your presence so now at the moment you’re in I believe you were saying Slovenia if I’m right.
H.H.Candramauli Maharaja: Yeah, the capital Ljubljana.
H.G. Jagannatha Kirtanananda Das: And what’s, of course we got locked down and its happening but how are you now as I said about Zooms but how are you reaching out to individuals and also you know with the prison services etc. How’s that, how’s that happening?
H.H.Candramauli Maharaja: Well with, well with regular programs we I do a program every day at one o’clock UK time and to mostly disciples and a few others and then throughout the week I do a program in with the devotees in Charlotte, North Carolina and now also in Harrisburg, Pennsylvania. So others are coming forward and asking for you know classes. So giving classes on different subjects, mostly Srimad Bhagavatam. Like that, so staying busy.
H.G. Jagannatha Kirtanananda Das: You are certainly are and one person called Syamarani devi dasi says, “Guru Maharaja’s preaching is going on, non- stop despite being unwell. All glories to your wonderful service, dear Gurudev! So I thought I’d put that out so thank you so much and I think now like, we’ve we’ve heard about Srila Prabhupada, we’ve heard about the prison service, we’ve heard about you know you right now your situation and how you’re still preaching out there and we’re coming towards the end of our session soon, so if there’s any questions please do bring them out and as we’ve been going along we’ve been trying to pick up some of those questions. So can I ask in these situations we’re in right now to the devotees that are listening right now and this has now been streamed on multiple channels one is Lokanath Swami Maharaja’s channel and Jayapataka Swami Maharaja’s channel, we’ve got Mayapur.tv in the different channels, Bhagavad- Gita channel and some of the channels I have and on that for those audiences, is there is any advice especially in this time right now of some places going in lockdown, some you know uncertain about the future and how am I able to try to should we say cover path forward.
H.H.Candramauli Maharaja: I think, you know every situation that we find ourselves there’s always opportunities to increase our Krishna consciousness and also increase our service. So here I find that preaching is, of course it’s online and I’m also giving classes at the temple because I’m about two doors away from the temple so occasionally I give evening Bhagavad – Gita classes at the temple, but it’s a great time for reading, for studying, for chanting and for, for preaching. Not having to travel has given me and I think maybe the devotees in general can also understand this more time to go into their own personal life and put more concentration on hearing and chanting and also reaching out to others. There’s a blessing with not travelling, travelling takes up so much time, it’s so much energy, so much expense. So with all that wiped away, we can find more time for focusing on reading, chanting and taking the opportunity to preach.
H.G. Jagannatha Kirtanananda Das: Yes!
H.H.Candramauli Maharaja: And on that Sridevi dasi asks, “Of all the ways to spread Krishna consciousness what’s the best and most effective way.”
H.H.Candramauli Maharaja: Well, of course just speaking what Prabhupada said, Prabhupada said book distribution remains the foremost way to spread Krishna consciousness. That may not always be as easy as it was but we can still do it through the media, online making Prabhupada’s books available in through different venues and devotees are doing that in certain areas and of course inspiring people to chant the holy names. Nowadays, from what I think my experience, which is not so much out there. More people are out there open to some kind of solution, some kind of situation, that will get them out of their present struggles with this. Because things are actually becoming more and more restrictive all around the world now and people’s lives are being pushed into a more, more of a struggle to maintain and so people I think need something that they can you know find some happiness or some solace and so preaching the holy names, the glories of the holy name I think remains very much foremost. I think that some devotees are out there and meeting people and giving the holy names at different places so that’s going on and there’s also programs on online where devotees are having kirtan programs, japa-sessions, Srimad Bhagavatam discussions. I found that, that’s been on the increase from my experience with devotees that there’s a lot more a lot more groups are starting to formulate whether discussing Srila Prabhupada’s books and reading together, chanting together, like that. So, that’s where we get our spiritual shakti from hearing and chanting.
H.G. Jagannatha Kirtanananda Das: So thank you. So there you have it and I also just want to bring up because you got, a new book recently come out as well called ‘Forbidden Voices’ which is also everybody available on Amazon you can at the top where Maharaja is sitting I’ve just changed the picture. You’ll see it. That’s what it looks like. Can I ask about this book so the other one was, ‘Holy Jail’ but now ‘Forbidden Voices.’ I was, I was looking through and I was like this is a nice book what’s this about let me ask Maharaja. Might well ask you.
H.H.Candramauli Maharaja: There’s a slight difference in presentation, although both subjects are the same, that is prison preaching the first book is broad, it has the history, it has a lot of personal stories coming from devotees, it has accounts of person, preaching programs, it’s all more all – encompassing on all aspects of prison preaching from the inside and the outside that’s the first book. The second book, ‘Forbidden Voices’ is really focused on the inmates. It’s from the inside out. So it’s their realizations, their essays they write, their glorifications of Srila Prabhupada, poetry, artwork, there’s a whole section of artwork that’s included in the book. So the second book is kind of giving emphasis on hearing from the inmates like that so that that’s the focus on the second book.
H.G. Jagannatha Kirtanananda Das: Fantastic and and you can get everybody you can get this at www.amazon.com , check out Amazon put the name of the book in and that’s where you can you can get these. So please do check them out.
H.H.Candramauli Maharaja: Yeah and if there are, if there is any difficulties in obtaining the book they can write to me and I’ll arrange for arrange for devotees to receive the books.
H.G. Jagannatha Kirtanananda Das: So on that basis we have your website which is here so I gave it as a contact section in there so is that best way to contact you Maharaja.
H.H.Candramauli Maharaja: Well, I guess that’s one way but I’m not so much on the website I think a personal email would be the best.
H.G. Jagannatha Kirtanananda Das: and and that email address if you don’t mind then I can put it up for everybody.
H.G. Jagannatha Kirtanananda Das: So if you want to know more or you want to know where you can get it from if you can’t get it from Amazon then H.H. Candramauli Swami Maharaja will be able to assist that. So what a nice excuse to even just give your contact. We it now! So thank you thank you for for setting that up and also Maharaja did you know because of Kartika, we’ve got H.H. Lokanath Swami Maharaja, the Padayatra ministry they’ve like you’re talking about because you know to preach out there and to help even devotees in these times of this Covid, because of this the Padayatra, not the Padayatra, the Vraja mandala cannot happen in person, they’ve created an app that you can now join as virtually. So every day it’s been going on and I just wanted everybody out there that this you know if you want to get involved this is the annual 34th Vraja Mandal so just go to www. to register this is www.bit.ly/onlineVMP and when you do that you will get all the information. It’s not too late, but you must do each session at a time it won’t unlock the others until you’ve done the first one so it’s like a being there actually you’ve got to go via the actual parikrama etiquette, where you go to one place to another you cannot skip. So it’s gonna be amazing. So Maharaja, this is happening right now as well. So I just wanted everybody out there to know and finally Maharaja thank you so much for your time, you know like you said, you’re you’re recovering you’ve got all this going on, you have so much correspondence happening, but you made time to come on so from the ISKCON Mayapur and the Mayapur.tv team and personally from myself, I just want to say thank, thank you so much for gracing us with your presence and we look forward to hopefully having you on again at some point if that’s okay with you.
H.H.Candramauli Maharaja: Thank you very much it was a great honor and a privilege to be able to be here and have an opportunity to speak. Thank you!
H.G. Jagannatha Kirtanananda Das: Thank you! Thank you everybody for joining stay safe.
Trancribed by :
Bhuvanapujita Radhika dd
Edited by Jayaraseswari das
19 January 2021