Acyuta-bhava Dasa 0:01
Hi everyone, this is Acyuta-bhava from Nightlight Astrology. And today I'm hanging out with my dear friend Bhojadev Prabhu. Bhojadev Prabhu is a fellow initiate and practitioner of Bhakti yoga, and I consider him not only a friend, but something of a mentor. In Bhakti yoga, it's really important that this is what my Guru has has taught me and what all of my teachers have taught me that as you're coming up and learning bhakti yoga, it's really important to have friends, and also people who can be there for you as mentors, people who have been on the path, you know, maybe longer than you have, who have some veteran experiences to draw on. And Bhojadev has been really helpful in just being a background voice and helping me develop the content on my Bhakti channel, which all of you watch, just hanging out and talking Bhakti late at night sometimes. So I'm really happy to have Bhojadev, here. Thanks for being here, Bhojadev.
Happy to be here.
Acyuta-bhava Dasa 0:57
So I'm gonna ask, I'm just gonna interview Bhojadev Prabhu today and ask some questions that I think might benefit everyone to hear his responses to because he does have a lifetime of involvement in bhakti yoga, that we can all learn from. So I'm just going to start with the basics, because, you know, I have a way of talking to people about what bhakti yoga is, but it's really interesting to hear other people talk about what bhakti yoga is, in general. So I guess we'll put this together with two questions. One would be maybe you could just tell us in your own words, what bhakti yoga is so that people can hear you articulate that, but also maybe tell us how it came into your life in the first place? How did you find it in the first place?
Yeah, it's interesting that Bhakti is kind of develops as time goes on, and your experience of it. And it's kind of unique for everybody. And it's kind of the same for everybody. It's the approach to God, where God is like, a diamond that has unlimited facets and you can appreciate one facet know that there's unlimited other facets, and that kind of grows over time. And as far as my introduction, I was in high school in Southern California and a devotee of group of voters came and chanted at my high school, I was 15. And on the way to basketball practice, and I saw these people, I thought, why are these people dress so strangely that they're handing out sweets, you know, and being a hungry guy I took the sweet ball and ate it. And I learned later that by taking that blessed food, it gives you an opportunity to get further blessings. So I sat down, I actually moved, and I saw them chanting on the street, and I kind of went on the other side of the street. I thought that's a little too much for me. I don't know. It's gonna seem a little out there. Bbut then, George Harrison started chanting and I was a huge Beatles fan. And when I was a couple years later, I was in Hawaii, on vacation. This hotel I was staying at, the devotees were chanting out there every day. And so I went and asked them, what you know, what do you guys believe? Because at that time, I started kind of reading the Bible was kind of searching a little bit. And I was curious. And, you know, being a normal teenager in the early 70s, I've kind of partied a little bit and went down and asked this guy, what do you guys think? Do you guys get high and your eyes are all red. What's up? They said, No, I used to, but now I get so much higher by chanting, I just feel this great pleasure and relief. And he had been out chanting on the street for like hours. So he's a little tired. That's why his eyes were red. But his contact completely brought me down from my own intoxicated state. And I felt very grounded. And I thought, wow, this is very interesting. So he gave me a magazine and said, well, you can just start chanting and see what happens.
Acyuta-bhava Dasa 4:09
But I have to just forgive a little bit of context, in case people aren't familiar. So this is in the 60s and 70s, when a very saintly monk basically from India brought bhakti yoga to the United States. We sometimes refer to it back then, you know, the Hare Krishna movement, and it grabbed a lot of young people's attention. A lot of young people were practising bhakti yoga, and one of the ways that you practice bhakti yoga is kirtan you're playing drums, you're you're chanting, you're singing devotional songs, out in the streets, and of course, they're there. They're dressed like monks, right? They're dressed in white, and they would hand out blessed food to people called persada. And, and kind of dance and sing and distribute like the Bhagavad Gita and things like that. And for you know, protocol, countercultural movement, like there's a lot of crazy things going on at that time from what Bhojadev has told me and other people and so so Bhojadev's like, I can just picture you kind of like you're like, Who are these people, but they kept showing up in your life. And then you're in Hawaii. And that the piece of the story that to me is so lovely, and that I was so excited for other people to hear is that here you are. And you were like, how old at that point?
Oh, 17 I think the last year in high school, right?
Acyuta-bhava Dasa 5:22
So you're like 17, and you were in Hawaii. And at the time, you were kind of into you were into smoking as a lot of people were. So you were sort of more or less high. You go down. And you wonder if these people who are dancing and chanting are high. They're not. They're just, they're basically high on on yoga. And then they by hanging out with them for a little bit. Suddenly you felt grounded and sober is that?
Yeah, I was totally amazed. Because just minutes before I smoked this huge fatty, and I was just going to go out wander around is like Hawaii, it was beautiful. And I was also thinking, you know, here I'm in Hawaii, this like, heavenly kind of atmosphere, the water is warm, there's a nice breeze, I thought, is this as good as it gets? And I was happy to be there, but you know, you're still looking for something that big, mega dose of love as a friend of mine says.
Acyuta-bhava Dasa 6:35
It had a grounding effect on you, though, the chanting and the kirtan, that was going on outside of the hotel you were staying in? Literally, you got in touch with something you it was almost as though you had a transfer of that energy at that time in it literally helped you feel from going from feeling a little stone to feeling like, grounded but charged with that energy.
Absolutely. And the magazine said, if you're interested, just start chanting, just you know, there's all types of philosophy this is grounded in philosophy written down 5000 years ago and stretches back further. So I got on the plane to go back and happen to be Easter Sunday. And I prayed to Jesus like to give me some inspiration or something and somebody walks by, and I'm sitting on the plan. This guy and I've never seen before, he just looks at me, I have the magazine in my hand. And he just looks at me and says, you know, Jesus wanted me to wish you a Happy Easter. And the guy that walks down the aisle, and I'm thinking what's going on. And I couldn't find I got on the plane afterwards. And, and so anyway, I started chanting and and I had a job where I was, you know, doing deliveries for a drugstore in Beverly Hills. And I was always stressed out in the traffic, but I would chant. And then I just became more relaxed. I didn't care if I miss the light, or just, I don't know, the mantra means to free the mind, you know, and this is the Maha mantra. It just gave me a different experience where I didn't have to feel like I had to rush out and do something. My family was always doing something every minute of the day, you know, and I just like I could stay at home and be peaceful and chant I kind of feel relaxed and happy and so kind of motivated me to order some books and find out more.
Acyuta-bhava Dasa 8:17
That's cool. Yeah, that's amazing. It's funny when it when Bhakti first came into my life, I was someone who always was trying to find some way in which I can be in the material world. And for me, for example, that tended to be like, I want to be able to go out with people and say, have a drink, and be able to maintain my spiritual life and clarity of mind and stuff like that. I was running a yoga studio at the time and practising physical Asana. But I started practising bhakti. And it was like, all of a sudden, I realised that it just wasn't going to be possible for me. It wasn't going to be possible for me to dabble with the material energy and like, get away with it. And it was the most relieving thing in the world to realise actually, bringing Bhakti into my life and chanting and stuff like that is is it may take a few things away, I may not be able to participate in the material world in the way that I really wish I could. But actually, I feel so much clearer about my health and what's going to keep me kind of spiritually centred.
Yeah, it's true. I think it's a common thing that your priorities kind of should shift a little bit, but that's because you're experiencing a kind of longing for that intensity in experience. I always kind of put off psychedelics and stuff because I thought I'd just flip out, you know, but one time I took some psilocybin and it was, you know, fairly mild, but it made me realize I'm not really this body. And then I thought, well, you know, either I want to start taking drugs every day, or I really want to start chanting because I want to have an intense experience, you know. And I chose chanting, I think, which was probably a better choice, but everyone is on their own path and finds their own way. But yeah, I found that when I started chanting, as I started going into movies, which was a favourite thing of mine, I just thought this is so empty, I can sit through this whole movie because it's so mundane, you know? I've heard the story before.
Acyuta-bhava Dasa 10:35
Yeah, that's exactly what I was trying to describe. You put it so nicely, it's like, when I started chanting, there were certain things in my life that just you like you getting, like having that moment of just sort of dropping into this, not just sobriety, but a feeling of being connected in your heart to something and that some of the really unhealthy things start to drop away. I'm wanting to add the next question that I have is, what kind of impact has it had on your life? And how did your path with Bhakti unfold from that moment forward?
I continued to chant and try and figure out what you know, what was going on whether if there was a conflict, between this, supposedly Eastern religion and the mild Christianity that I was brought up in and so and then I started running into devotees kind of randomly more and more. And then I found a temple in LA, I'd written for books, and I really wanted to read the books. There's a book titled, Easy Journey to Other Planets. And I was always interested in astral projection. So I thought maybe I can find out how to get out of my body and travel the universe or something. Then I found the temple and they said, Well, you know, our teacher is here, and he's very special person. He's, you know, he's a pure soul. And you should meet him, and I thought, yeah, I'd like to, because when I started reading the books, the books all made sense, because I already was kind of interested in reincarnation and karma. And you know, out of body experiences in the soul, but there was a, there's a great hodgepodge of information out there and gradually as I read more Krishna consciousness kind of connected everything and like put all the pieces of the puzzle together kind of answer your questions and put everything in proper perspective on what spiritual life is and how to develop and how to experience it, what a goal is, and then seeing in our teacher was also such a life changing experience for all of his disciples.
He had about 5000 disciples and everyone said the same thing that when you come into contact, and everyone has a distinct experience, probably to some degree, but this is very magnified when they say the eyes are the window to the soul. And when you look into the eyes of someone who's pure, it's like you can tell they can see everything about you and they're not judging you. But it's like a shocking experience because all my dark secrets or whatever there it is, he can see. It's very humbling. But yet he was so full of compassion. He wasn't judging, it was just like he was giving the way to move forward from whatever space that everyone was in.
His full name, I, which I've mentioned in my Sri Isopanishad series a number of times is AC Bhaktivedanta Swami Prabhupada, kind of a full title. Lovingly people who were close to him and people who become familiar with the Bhakti movement, especially in the West, we'll just lovingly refer to him as Prabhupada. There's a great movie that I've referenced a number of times, if you if anyone wants to learn more about the history of the bhakti yoga movement in the West, and it's just called Hare Krishna, The Movement, The Mantra and the Swami who started it all or something like that. Right?
Acyuta-bhava Dasa 14:17
It's a great documentary that would help people get to know Prabhupada a little bit if they're not familiar with him. And then if you're following the Sri Isopanishad series that I do, we're reading one of his translations that's pretty manageable. You know, it's not it's not like super dense. It's a pretty slim volume and it has his translations of this famous Upanishad as well as some commentary on it. We've been visiting that in that series. So did you meet Prabhupada in person at some point?
I did. He was coming to LA and gave was giving lectures and just wanted to add highlight to the for the Sri Isopanishad. That's like a book that is such a great introduction and the introduction to this is a lecture that Prabhupada gave in London. That is very comprehensive and really great introduction to the basics of Krishna consciousness and the philosophy. It's like very thorough, it's like, it's amazing. Like, if you just read that. It's an incredible gift.
Yeah, when I first when I first met him, a lot of devotees were waiting in the airport, this is before you know, you could go out to you could go out to the gate and wait for somebody to come in, you know, before security checks and all that and the airport people said, Look, you know, we know you people get excited, just try and keep it cool here. You know, because hundreds of devotees were there and in the past, people would have a kirtan and would just explode, and everyone would just be an ecstasy. And so I thought, you know, all this sounds good. But I want to see the person who wrote all this. And so when he walked out all of a sudden, there was just something in my heart that said, well, it's all true. There was just this purity, some people saw him glowing, everyone saw different things. And he had all the perfections of all the other yogas so it looked like he was just gliding along as he walked. He looked like he's walking very casually, but everyone's like running to catch up. I mean, it's hard to describe the experience. For me. It was like the sunrise I was just like, wow, wow.
Acyuta-bhava Dasa 16:33
I've heard the word regal, used to describe him before and in the pictures I've seen in the videos I've seen. I think that's a great word. Do you think that works?
Yeah. Oh, absolutely. He was like Krishna's ambassador. And he just had a very aristocratic demeanour. But not a hint of snobbishness, it was just completely humble and completely like a kindly grandfather, but who was like he, the most wise person, even on the material platform, you'd be happy to be in this person's presence. But then when he started speaking about the truth of Krishna consciousness it was miraculous. And he translated 70 books and commentated with commentary between the ages of 69 and 81. Aside from travelling around the world to 12 times and starting an international organisation, establishing over 100 temples, you know, and he started with nothing he came, like with $7 in his pocket in New York, right, Saturday, but 1965.
Acyuta-bhava Dasa 17:40
Just to fill in a little bit of a story to from what I've learned. This is someone who he led a kind of a normal material life, in a sense, up until later in life where he had a family, he had a job, I think he owned or was part of a pharmacy in India, you know, he so he lived like a normal life, but he was gradually becoming more and more immersed in the teachings of bhakti yoga, and his guru, who he eventually received initiation from, whose name was Bhakti Siddhanta. And it was eventually, later in life, he took son sannyasa, which is basically like now I'm going to become a full time monk. And at that point, basically, you are not you're not making a living, so it was during that stage of his life very late in his life that he came to the United States. On this boat, he had like nothing. And he came to New York City, like basically in if I remember correctly, it was winter was coming on, when he, you know, he sort of arrived and was hit by winter pretty hard to it's very different from Calcutta, and so forth. And then, very gradually in the Lower East Side of Manhattan, he just started teaching Gita classes and so forth, and then eventually singing in the park in, in the Lower East Side, and so forth. And I remember when I first arrived in New York City, when I lived there, I had a friend that took me to Lower East Side, the very first day I was there, and I think it was Thompson Tompkins Square Park. Is that the name? That is right, and we went there and I saw the tree or this portion of the park, which he pointed out, I said, like, that's where the Hare Krishna movement got started in the United States. That's crazy. So, I mean, he was such a revolutionary figure, wasn't he?
Yeah, absolutely. And the fact that he arrived in Boston harbour, I thought was very amazing, because that's where the American Revolution kind of started the Boston Tea Party started in Boston.
Acyuta-bhava Dasa 19:51
That's right. So he came down to New York.
Yeah, he landed there. And he just said, You know, he looked around and they said, I didn't know to turn left or turn. right, I was a stranger in a strange land. And he said in a later poem, and he said, Krishna Krishna, why did you bring me here, he must have some reason said just let you know, I'm here, just make me dance as you want me to, you know. And he, he had quite an adventure that first year, you know, being alone. And then again, he started chanting in the park. It was perfect timing too, because he came in '65, he kind of got acclimated in the first year and he said he went to back to the dock and a number of times to see if I should just go back to India, it looks so hopeless, and he was on his own. But it was perfect timing 66 came, they incorporated, a few people started coming then 67 was the Summer of Love, he went to San Francisco, that had a huge thing with all the most important bands of that era, the Grateful Dead. And he gave a speech in the beginning. But timing was everything, you know, and he had to stick it out.
Acyuta-bhava Dasa 21:02
And here's a guy, one of the things that I really appreciate about Prabhupada is that here is someone who had to be really innovative, because you're talking about a culturally classical Indian religion or religious tradition, it's not, in any sense, sectarian, but he has to repackage it for the culture, and not only the culture of the West, but the culture of the West that was radically changing at that moment in history. Some of the things that he did, and please add to this list that comes to my mind is, you know, first of all, he made it possible for women to receive initiation, which is a big deal. That's, I mean, it's not I don't think it's unheard of, but it was certainly like, you know, bucking the trend or pushing the envelope. And he also said, you know, he also wanted women and minorities in positions of leadership and empowered people who were not just straight white guys, basically, he so he empowered a lot of different people within the, the movement that was taking place, and also had to find ways of helping a lot of very sceptical and concerned Christian parents and families, especially as a lot of young people were getting into it, that this is a god centred lifestyle that's healthy, clean and sober, you know, and, and he had to do that while still respecting a lot of the essence of Christianity, which he did. I mean, there's more that he did, that was so innovative as well.
Yeah, definitely, because he kind of represents a certain branch of, of Hindu orthodoxy, which is a little bit of a label. But there's more to it than that, because Hindu isn't even really a real word. That's a whole other story. But yeah, he represented a culture in India that had a long tradition where, you know, the temples were meant for the monks and the women lived outside with their husbands. So there wasn't really a temple atmosphere, a monk like atmosphere for women, that wasn't the cultural norm. But here, you have boys and girls coming that wanted to live in the temple. And he accommodated that which had never done it. And he really, you know, emphasised and lived, the maxim that you're a spiritual, you know, your, your contemporary body, maybe male, you may be female, you may be American, may be Christian may be Jewish, none of that matters. Those are all designations that have to do with your temporary body. It's the spirit soul, that is the real person that needs to reconnect with, you know, our source with getting back in touch with our real self. So that was kind of everything is based on that you're not your body. And as soon as you start thinking, you're a body, you get in all types of trouble, but if you understand you're a servant of God, that's the identity that kind of answers all the questions.
Acyuta-bhava Dasa 24:10
Right, right. And he was he was kind of, in a sense, very inviting of the countercultural movement. On another front, he was critical of it to the degree that there were young people getting really wrapped up in hedonism doing drugs, partying a lot. You know, he's hanging out with the hippies in San Francisco. He's there chanting at the Grateful Dead and I don't know who else was there Janis Joplin or whatever. And yet, he's someone who's also trying to speak a message to the to the kids of that movement saying, hey, look, you know, connect to God in your heart connect to God in the universe. Connect to Krishna through chanting, and you'll you can go to other worlds you can go to other dimensions you can experience your consciousness In all these amazing ways, but you also can do so while leading really healthy, clean lives.
That's true and the mantra is a huge is a huge part of it. It's a recommended method in this age for Self Realisation because like in the Bible, it says in the beginning there was the word. Sound is the basis of everything and there's difference between holy sound. And so it's actually a method and a process that gives you the spiritual strength to make those healthy changes. In the beginning, I was just advised to chant. And I think that's the best advice for anyone who's approaching because it gives you your own experience. And that gives you enough faith to say, Okay, I can see there's something going on here. And makes you want to go a bit deeper than if there's some other disciplines that come up, you say, Okay, I'm willing to try that to see if improves the quality of my life. And people find out that that's the case. And and, you know, it's natural to in the material world to be wild after sense gratification, but it's not natural to be here. Everything is, everything has its limits. So at one point, you realise, okay, I've tried everything. There was a little bit of pleasure there, but I'm still looking for more what's the real formula?
Acyuta-bhava Dasa 26:25
That leads me to my next question, what are the primary practices of bhakti? mantra meditation is basically our foundation. Maybe we could actually explain the mantra and explain its meaning. And then maybe you could talk about some of the other practices as well.
Yeah, there's three words in the mantra. Krishna means God, God's aspect is the all attractive, you know, we do everything in life because we're attracted to something external, might be a person might be a car might be a job might be a community. So there's certain attraction that's all around us. And it's described that the God being the source of everything is all attractive, and that accounts for his form and his best pastimes and activities. Rama is the word that is the name of God, that means the source of all spiritual strength and happiness. And Hare is actually a form of the Divine Feminine of Radharani, which is an address to the Lord as the internal energy of the Lord, please engage me in your service. You know, there's a whole dynamic of male and female, the divine male and divine, divine, masculine, divine feminine. And, of course, in this the shadow world, the material world, you have the toxic male and the toxic feminine. So this is recognising the god expands himself for his own pleasure and expands himself on one side as Radharani as the Divine Feminine as his pleasure potency. And they say Radha is actually Krishna himself, but in the feminine form, that's manifested for the exchange of love. And this is on the spiritual platform and she's always pictured on his left side, then he expands himself on his right side, as as Balarama, who is a source of spiritual strength and identity. So there always has to be a, you know, it takes two to tango, so that we talk about oneness and spiritual life, but there's a variety in that oneness, that allows for the exchange of love. And that's kind of symbolised in the male or female. There's devotion on each side, and they and impurity Radharani is sacrificing everything for Krishna. And Krishna is giving everything he says he can't he feels he can't even repay fully repay the devotion that he receives from love that he receives from Radha but he, he is totally sold out to her also. So, you know, we try and do that in the material world and it just doesn't work. There's ego, there's selfishness, there's just all these limitations. But the I the ideal is there in spirit. And so it's acted out and Krishna's past times, and you can see the loving exchanges and the varieties of activities that they have, that are completely free from the the abbreviations of material relationships that are all based on basically exploitation.
Acyuta-bhava Dasa 29:26
Would you say Prabhu that it's in chanting these names of God in the Maha mantra, which will describe in a minute that by chanting this, we're also starting to learn how to see and put God Krishna Radha, these facets of God. We're starting to see them and bring them out within our human relationships as well that we're learning how to be a better parent or we're learning how to be a better spouse or a friend or whatever it is that we might do that by doing this this is purifying and sort of spiritualizing our relationships and connections here on the earthly plane as well?
Absolutely. There's a verse in Bhagavad Gita that says, After many, many births, one surrenders to me in performance of devotional service, knowing me to be everything and all that is. So on once this is kind of be a long explanation, but getting to answering your question is that when you see that actually, everything is coming from God, everything is a manifestation either has material energy, or spiritual energy, it changes the way that you view the world. And so in general, you see something in the street, say you see a flower growing in the garden part of the external world. So how do you see that flower, maybe in three different ways. If you think that you are the centre of the universe, you may want to exploit that flower you'll take it and say that's for me, I want to take and smell it and use it and do whatever I want with it. So that's kind of exploitation, we see the world is meant for our pleasure, only exists for our pleasure. Another way is in negation, seeing that flower, well, that's just a flower, it's a plant has nothing to do with me. I don't want to have anything to do with it, I just see it and and almost negate it as any as having any value. So that's renunciation, kind of a duality. But the third step is actually dedication. And you say, well, wow, that's an amazing part of God's creation, you know, nobody can make a seed that can grow that flower, and how does the smell come out of dirt? You know, this beautiful smell and beautiful design of the flower. Let me take that flower and offer it back to the creator in appreciation and love. So that's it. That's dedication. And chanting is enchanting! No. Chanting, this brings up out that realisation that everything is a creation of God, it has a purpose. And if you take that thing and offer it to Krishna, rather than exploit it, or just renounce it, then it develops your your rasa, or your flavour, your taste, and reciprocation. Because then God responds in another way. You may find something, and this is just, you know, a random example. But you may offer that flower and then someone later, you get a delivery of, you know, a dozen roses, you know, there's reciprocation, where you take one step towards God and He takes 10 towards you. So chanting helps develop that vision, that the whole world is actually divine, it's developed, it's divided into material and spiritual energies. But in one sense, it's all God. And if we see it, for exploitation, we get a certain result, if we just renounce it, that's another result. But when we see it and use it as dedication, that actually is the sacrifice that's described that the whole world was generated for sacrifice in Latin means to make holy. So you take those elements where you find the material world, whatever they may be, whatever is in your realm of influence, and use that as an offering. Then there's no karma, then actually, it becomes a source of joy and chanting, just readjusts that paradigm, that vision of what the world is, and actually the description of knowledge is understanding, What is spirit? What is matter, who's the controller or both? And when you recognise all this as a purpose, then then things change in a very, very nice way.
Acyuta-bhava Dasa 33:37
So Prabhu, could you give people the mantra tell tell people what the mantra is. I've gotten over over it before but people some people are new. So let's maybe give people what the Maha mantra is. And maybe just some simple instructions for how they could start chanting and if they wanted to.
Okay, so it's three words, three words in combination and 60 word, word mantra, which is Hare Krishna, Hare Krishna, Krishna Krishna, Hare Hare, Hare Rama, Hare Rama, Rama Rama, Hare Hare. And again, that is asking the divine to be pleased and engaged in the service of the Lord. One recognition is that we're constantly engaged in some type of service. Like every action, every action that we do is serving some purpose might be a simple thing of picking up the phone to answer a call or walking up stairs. Every action has some intention, some purpose to be served. So we're constantly serving something. It's either our own desires, our own conception of life, or maybe we extend our concern to our family or community or to our country and we're doing service on all different levels and getting different results back. But the service which is natural to the soul, once it's transferred, this prayer, this mantra is asking us to be in the service of the Supreme. And Just like there's a different result from serving your boss, you get a paycheck, the different, you know, you serve your country, whatever, there's also response from the Supreme, because that's our natural position to serve. And actually to realise there's something greater than ourselves even in a material sense, people find that if I do something and recognise something great or myself research something out of my own egos interest, I get a certain feeling of suffocation or some satisfaction. So we have a real ego out of spiritual identity that never is destroyed, as described in the Bhagavad Gita, and the function of that, and the purpose of that as two experiences exchange with the Supreme. And that could be done through our relationships and how we see the world around us and, and understanding that's really our gig.
Acyuta-bhava Dasa 35:48
And some of the other practices which we don't have time to dive into, which means just gives us room for a follow up video. You know, Kirtan, congregational call and response singing, chanting, dancing. I think there's elements of sacrifice and giving things up and in any yogic practice, but Bhakti is specifically not so much about renunciation or austerity as much as it is engaging the senses, the mind the heart, in the devotional connection to God. So, you know, in the temples, you know, it's incense, its flowers, its food, its dancing, it's sometimes there's theatre, it's a very embodied form of yoga. Could you say something about that?
Yeah, and it engages all the senses, even when you chat, we chant on beads, that engages the sense of touch, you know, chanting involves breathing. Also, chanting involves sound, sacred sound, you know, all these people get, you know, benefit from doing breath work, or, you know, engaging in different types of community service. So the service all levels, but bhakti is all inclusive, Krishna says, give it all you do all the offering giveaway should be as offering to me and it becomes a form of reciprocation. So it's, it is really all inclusive. And there's nine processes of bhakti. The first for hearing, chanting and remembering and serving. So just chanting is really the foundation by that chanting, because you're sacrificing your time. You know, it's seems like a very passive thing. But it's the type of service actually is the most important service because you're in your heart, you decided, Okay, I'm going to give my valuable time to hearing this mantra chanting and hearing this mantra, and you find that opens a gate of reciprocation, where everything is based on that, and all these other disciplines that may come later become very natural, and all the other past habits just kind of naturally kind of fade away. Or it's just like, I have something better. It's like if you if you only had bread and water for dinner, you'd eat that until someone offered you a five course meal. Until you get the five course meal, you don't want to give up your bread and water because it's something.
Acyuta-bhava Dasa 38:23
There's a higher tastes, I've heard that phrase used. By the way, people hear me say Prabhu, it's a kind of like an affectionate title that we use to refer to one another in the in the sort of Temple communities that we're both part of is, but it means if I understand correctly, Buddhist means master. That's one of the things I love about Bhakti. Every person that enters your life there's a sense of humility and love and appreciation for people and you know, I found my guru treats people like that even though he's very popular and has many followers, that there's this humility that's surrounding the environment that everyone sees one another as who you're my teacher, I'm here to serve you I I'm here to serve you there's I don't need anything for myself any you know, it's like that's such a prevalent attitude.
And as you point out too the when you call me Prabhu I also call you Prabhu that you're also a master. There's not really much like ego or motivation to become a master but you automatically become a master by becoming the best servant. Because you're not looking to be a master you're just serving and that's the type of mastery that's a perfection of humbly serving, there's a satisfaction in that.
Acyuta-bhava Dasa 39:54
I'll never forget, we took a retreat with some of the students at our yoga studio and when some of them were called Prabhu at the temple. And then they said, Well, what does that mean? And we explained it, they were like, Well, I'm not a Master, I don't know anything about yoga and, and then it was like, you're here because God brought you here. And that's very sacred holy thing. And, and it was just so interesting to see them feel so honoured and so cherished, it really, you know, hit their hearts right away. So I'll just never forget that. But at any rate, we've been, you know, we've covered a lot of ground, I want to talk about, kind of towards the end here, a little bit about one of the more powerful moments of your life and a difficult time in your life where, you know, Bhakti was really there for you. And maybe from what we've talked about privately, that your Bhakti also really deepened. You were involved in, I would call it an act of terror. It was you were at a temple in India, if I'm remembering correctly, and there was someone who was hostile, who threw a grenade into a temple while you were actually worshipping while you were there to getting your bhakti on. And you ended up being very critically injured by this. Also because you were there, and your body ended up shielding, a very well known and very exalted teacher in the Bhakti tradition, your body ended up shielding him in a sense from the blast. But you were in critical condition for a really long time. And when I first heard this story, I was just like, that can't be real that is so that is so intense. Maybe you could just tell us a little bit about that story, what you know what happened and how you know how it changed your life and how your body changed as a result?
Sure, I'll preface that by saying that at one point, I moved into the temple, I lived as a monk between 18 and 21. And at one point, I had this feeling I was because you when you're living the temple, you're kind of like serving 24 hours a day or getting up early to chanting. And I was just really happy doing that. And I thought, well, if this is what's going on in the spiritual world, then there's no really reason to fear death, you know, because these are the activities of spiritual world. So somehow, I kind of like embraced that. And when we're at this festival, this grenade went off. I was chanting the chanting anyway, because there was actually a performance of kids. It was outside, there's like 10,000 people come into the temple. And these are some tribal terrorists that wanted to intimidate and extract money and they had some agenda to kill actually the person that was this guru that was sitting next to me. And so they threw two grenades. One was in the temple, which didn't go off Krishna defused it. Another one was outside. We were sitting outside watching this performance of kids doing Christmas pastime. So it's this huge loud explosion flashing lights and and I was just thinking, what was that? You know? Because all of a sudden I thought, I can't see. Wow, Krishna I'm blind what happened? So I got up, I was sitting on the ground and the the concussion wave exploded like 10 feet feet from me I looked at it was a Chinese grenade and never seen and all of a sudden looked away and when also kind of like blew me face first in the ground, smashed my face into the ground and blew off some parts of my arm and had shrapnel all over and so I thought What's going on here? I could hear people around me. And they were turning me I didn't realise that I'd been in I was facedown, they thought I was already dead, my hand was still my beanbag moving chanting and because I was just kind of like in shock.
Acyuta-bhava Dasa 44:25
And you're chanting with your beads after you got hit by a grenade?
Yeah, cuz I was doing I was chanting while it went off. And then Krishna gets somehow within gave you some type of mercy that I just I wasn't very curious what's going on here. And then I heard people saying, Okay, I'll turn them over, you know, try and get them. And then I couldn't see actually because my face was all smashed up. But I can hear so that was one of the interesting things that I could hear I was being taken care of and hearing is like the, the most important sense really, in spiritual life. You hear knowledge, you hear the mantra you hear, you know, hear things from your heart hearing is like the way that we receive communication. So I knew that I was being taken care of. And they just said, you know, just keep chanting, I said, Yeah, but my eye kind of hurts. My arm hurts. And actually, part of my arm was blown off there. And they said, yeah, we know. But just keep chanting.
Acyuta-bhava Dasa 45:34
Keep you out of going into shock.
Yeah, and so I got to the hospital and I just, you know, I know it's been taken care of, and, you know, this, they asked my blood type, I don't know. Anyway, I went out, they operated for five hours. And they said, you know, Doc, the next day, I heard the doctor is saying, oh, you're gonna be okay. And then my friends who were with me that got me to the hospital, otherwise Idefinitely would have bled out because they said when I got to the operating table, I had no pulse I had no blood pressure,we thought you're not gonna make it. And then, so the doctor said, you're gonna be alright, so I thought, Okay, and then my friends were telling me - I could still couldn't see anything - and my friend said, what do you mean he's gonna be alright? I guess my face was like a soccer ball. So blown up, you couldn't even see my nose, and it looked kind of horrific. But then done the person the next day that actually I went there to, you know, assist, this person was very spiritually advanced, he kind of did this blessing where it is kind of silently, did this thing up my body and other devotees from other temples, heard about it, seven people ended up dying, but they had done prayers for everyone that was involved. And, you know, it's kind of miraculous that I never thought I was gonna die. And I didn't feel like why did this happen? Or, you know, it's just some blessing that, you know, that happened, you know, stuff happens in the material world, I'm not this body, and I'm okay.
Acyuta-bhava Dasa 47:10
Right. And if I remember this correctly, you effectively you your body ended up shielding the body of the particular groups being targeted?
Right, right. And that was, you know, that was all circumstantial, so many people came up and, you know, thanked me for that. And it was just all Krishna's arrangement. I was oblivious, like, okay, yeah, right. Well, somebody told me, actually said to me a few weeks before, like, almost like joking, like, what are you his bodyguard? And I said, I'll take that.
Acyuta-bhava Dasa 47:49
And this was an India?
Yeah, this is right near the Burmese border in a place called Manipur, that had a history of revolution and kind of underground movements and history of violence. So we actually had to get a special pass to go there. And usually, we have police protection with us when we travelled around but it was like a holiday and there was protection there. But right, that somehow they snuck through.
Acyuta-bhava Dasa 48:22
This question is probably not contained in a in a simple answer, but how did your relationship with Bhakti your devotional practices and so forth, change from that moment? I can imagine that it would have had a big impact on you as you're recovering. You're healing, obviously you look better now. So how did you how was this a turning point in your own faith story in this in this lifetime?
Some interesting things happen. I had to have a skin graft put on my arm that took scanned, the nurses came in and said, Do you want pain meds? And I said, No, I'm right. And they came back the next day kind of shook their head and left came back the next day said the same thing. I felt okay. They said you know, you're really something something different going on here because we have another patient that had the exact same skin graph in the next room and he can't get enough pain meds, you know, he's like an agony. And so that there was just like blessings that went on with the with the healing. And some devotee, friends, mine were there. And they were with me every day in the hospital. And after going out of intensive care in India, I went to Thailand where I was living. And at that time, when another thing just just showed how Krishna is always, you know, taking care of, I was struggling in the business I was doing, I was basically waiting for funds to come and I've invested a bunch of money and things were really tight financially. And so I was in the hospital for 19 days, and the devotees that we're with we put out something on the internet, telling the worldwide community that this happened, and then if you can help. Anyway, people from all over the world sent money that I didn't even know. And it was the exact amount I needed to pay all the hospital bills and get out when I had really not a penny to pay. So that was like a blessing, just like how did that happen? On the material side, that was that was that was, you know, kind of amazing to see and I don't know, it just, it just reinforced that, you know, no matter what, you know, like Lord Chaitanya says in his prayers you may handle be roughly by your embrace, but I don't care, you know, and it was for my own purification it was kind of a mystical thing. It was, for whatever reason that happened, it just happened. I don't know, life goes on I, I probably deserved worse. I mean, that's how you think of things, you know, is that it was just a tad of karma for all the billions of lifetimes I've spent trying to be exploiting those worlds.
Acyuta-bhava Dasa 51:19
I can't tell you and everyone who's listening, how valuable that perspective has been for me, too, that when something happens, I go, Well, you know, it probably should have been worse or could have been worse. And, you know, and, and when something good happens on the flip side, to say, Yeah, I probably didn't deserve that. Thank you, you know, just to stay in that place of humility. The reason that I wanted to have you share the story with others is because it had such a deep impact on me just to hear the way that you carry yourself both as it was happening and afterward and the way that things worked out. And it's so hard, I think, for us to take that level of trust in the material world where such twists and turns of circumstance can happen. But I think your story is a great example of what a what a shield that faith can be for us and what a what a what a level of what a life insurance policy it is to have a connection with God and to have a spiritual life.
It's true. Krishna says that the source of remembrance and forgetfulness and knowledge. A lot of the blessings that we have come from within the heart, you know, I want to actually count how many times Krishna in the Gita says that I'm within the heart of all living beings, and I'm directing their wonderings who are seated as if on a machine made of material energy. And so that a lot of the blessings that we are receiving are coming from Christian from within, whether it be freedom from distress or anxiety, or, you know, because we constantly look to the outside world for shelter and satisfaction, but actually the internal world is where all that shelter exists. And sometimes we get glimpses of that and blessings. Internal source.
Acyuta-bhava Dasa 53:22
Can you say the verse for us one more time?
Acyuta-bhava Dasa 54:14
The Supreme Lord is situated in everyone's heart Oh Arjuna, and is directing the wanderings of all living entities who are seated as on a machine made of material energy. ~ Bhagavad Gita, 18:61
Acyuta-bhava Dasa 54:25
That's so beautiful.
The next verse says, O scion of Bharata, surrender unto Him utterly. By His grace you will attain transcendental peace and the supreme and eternal abode.
Acyuta-bhava Dasa 54:37
Beautiful, beautiful. On that note, we will close today's talk, but I'm very happy to let you all know that it is our intention to try to get together maybe once a month, and do this somewhat regularly. So that means that you know you have a wonderful teacher in Bhojadev Prabhu, who will be visiting and you have an opportunity to ask questions. So if you want to email some QA to put into the the Bhakti QA pile, please feel free to email me info@nightlight astrology.com put Bhakti q&a in the subject line. And those questions that you would like Bhojadev Prabhu to respond to, I will field in, in further, you know, q&a hangout sessions that we do together. This is something that the idea to do this came to me sometime last winter while talking to Bhojadev, who I thought this would be really fun to have him come on regularly, and share his experience and wisdom. Because as you can tell, and this is what he's meant to me is that just hearing this talk today is a form of bhakti. Right, just listening to people talk about God listening to people share their experiences, with living, you know, a life of chanting or a life of experiences and spiritual life that goes into the ears. And it's a form of, you know, sacred sound just like the mantra is, in fact, this is one of the prescribed activities of bhakti is to hear from other devotees to hang out with people who like to talk about God. So we're very, very thankful for you to being here today. Bhojadev Prabhu, thank you for just sharing your your light and your experiences with us we look forward to doing more soon.
Thank you Acyuta-bhava Prabhu and I look forward to speaking with you again and and I really appreciate what you're doing and your audience also because you have a lot of sincere people that that are looking and honestly looking and enter intelligent and questioning and you're giving a nice medium of delivering knowledge and you know, from your own experience in your which is, you know, very valuable and I greatly appreciate you as well.
Acyuta-bhava Dasa 56:55
Thank you. All right. Well, everybody. We hope to see you again soon. Hare Krishna.
Hare Krishna, take care.