Gold, Guns and God: Vol. 8—The City of God

A Biography of Swami Bhaktipada and a History of the West Virginia New Vrindaban Hare Krishna Community in Ten Volumes by Henry Doktorski

New Vrindaban residents chant and dance enthusiastically during the noon service to the accompaniment of organ and timpani.

May 1990 Interfaith Festival

BHAKTIPADA HAD ALWAYS TRIED to share with others what he called “Interfaith” preaching. As early as January, 1975, he spoke to the congregation of the Trinity Episcopal Church (founded in 1836) at One Oak Street in Moundsville about interfaith. He explained, “We must be God conscious at every moment of the day. That is our purpose. Our purpose is not to convert you away from being Christians, but to help you become better Christians. The principle is the same, to love God.”

During a 1987 news conference with reporters in Lagos, Nigeria, Bhaktipada explained, “My message to Nigeria and to the world is very simple: I want to teach people how to love God. Whatever your religion, whatever names you may have for God, please chant them. We are all brothers with one Father, the Almighty God.”

Bhaktipada explained what is interfaith: “Interfaith means we share our faith. By sharing, we are inspiring each other in the Supreme. We want to increase each others’ faith. . . . The more faith, the better.”

Although some New Vrindaban devotees lost faith in Bhaktipada’s brand of religion by sharing religious rituals with Christians, Muslims, Buddhists, etc., and left the community to follow other paths, it seemed most New Vrindaban devotees relished the association of interfaith fellowship and appreciated the new perspectives on their own Vaishnava tradition.

Dutiful Rama fondly remembered the interfaith conferences, “Looking back, what I thought was groundbreaking at New Vrindaban was the interfaith conferences. They opened my eyes; they were so unique, so precious. The development of our interfaith preaching was so concise and accelerated. I feel blessed to have been part of that: trying to show the world that although there are many faiths, there is one common truth behind each tradition. The festivals allowed people to experience their faith and others’ faith, to share joy with each other. It was a monumental experience.”

A friend of New Vrindaban from Ithaca, New York, Patrick Garrison, recognized Bhaktipada’s genius, “In some ways, Bhaktipada was ahead of his time. Turn back the pages of history, and you will see that thousands upon thousands have been murdered, year after year, for no other reason than they call God by a different name than I do. Not only is this killing between different religions, but sometimes between groups who claim to be a part of the same religious tradition. Sunni and Shi’a within Islam, Protestant and Catholic in Christianity. Bhaktipada dared to ask the question made famous by Rodney King after the 1992 race riots in Los Angeles, ‘Can’t we all just get along?’ And in so doing, he played host to fellow spiritual travelers of other traditions at the New Vrindaban community. My wife and I attended several interfaith gatherings where people dialogued, and instead of the ‘I have the only truth’ confrontational attitude, we heard more of, ‘What can your tradition tell me of God that I don’t know, and what can mine teach you?’”

Even Nityodita Swami, a die-hard Prabhupada disciple who later rejected Bhaktipada’s “Reformation,” at one time said he was greatly inspired by the interfaith festivals. He explained, “This is a dream come true. Sometimes we think it’s Bhaktipada’s vision, but it’s not Bhaktipada’s vision (although he is pushing it); it is God’s vision. It’s in every true lover of God’s heart to bring together the peoples of the world under the banner of love of God. To see it actually happening; getting a taste for what is the full-blown daily life of the City of God resident is ecstatic. There was such tremendous energy. . . . I feel very grateful to be a part of this. It’s like being swept along in a hurricane of devotional service that is being manifest. . . . I feel lucky to be near this hurricane.”

The interfaith festivals were filled with music; not only at the three formal temple worship services, but also informal kirtan. This recording features music at a New Vrindaban interfaith festival in May 1990.

Musicians on this recording: Hrishikesh dasa, organ; Dutiful Rama, gong and timpani; Dhruva dasa, orchestra bells and crash cymbals; Chakravarti Swami, Casio keyboard with unknown flutist and percussionists. Cantors: Bhavisya devi dasi, Brihan Naradiya Purana devi dasi, Compassionate Swami, Shyama devi dasi, Hrishikesh dasa. Readers: Devamrita Swami, Paramahansa Krishna Swami, Kirtanananda Swami Bhaktipada.

To listen to Interfaith Festival, go to YouTube.

The morning service

Late in 1988 the morning service was standardized and consisted of eight songs.

(1) Processional: Lyrics by Hrishikesh dasa. Music: Easter Hymn from Lyra Davidica (1708)

    Gather we to greet our Lord, Hare Krishna.
    Chant his name and hear his word. Hare Krishna.
    Lift your voices, sing with joy! Hare Krishna.
    Praise this glorious cowherd boy, Hare Krishna.

    Rise ye early every day. Hare Krishna.
    Grant us service, Lord, we pray. Hare Krishna.
    Make our hearts pure, free from sin. Hare Krishna.
    Let us know thy love within. Hare Krishna.

(2) Prayers to the Spiritual Masters: English translation by Umapati Swami, melody from a Plainsong chant, accompaniment by Hrishikesh dasa. Cantor: Bhavisya devi dasi.

    All glories to you, Bhaktipada,
    Lord Krishna’s servant dear,
    You worship at his feet and spread
    His message far and near.

    O servitor of Prabhupada,
    You’ve founded in the West
    A city where Lord Krishna’s love
    And pastimes manifest.

    All glories to you, Prabhupada,
    Lord Krishna’s servant dear,
    You worship at his feet and spread
    His message far and near.

    O Saraswati Deva,
    You’ve spread the Holy Name
    And saved the Western countries from
    Impersonalist shame.

(3) Prayers to Tulasi Devi by Chandrasekhara Kavi: English translation by Umapati Swami, melody from a Plainsong chant, accompaniment by Hrishikesh dasa

    I bow before you, Tulasi,
    Beloved of the Lord.
    To serve Radha and Krishna’s feet
    Is my desired reward.

    You grant the wish of one who seeks
    The shelter of your grace.
    You take him home to Vraja Dham,
    Lord Krishna’s holy place.

    I beg that I may live beneath
    Vrindaban’s holy skies,
    Where Radha and Lord Krishna’s love
    Unfolds before one’s eyes.

    I pray that I may take the path
    The cowherd damsels tread.
    I’ll be your serving maid and take
    Your dust upon my head.

    This lowly servant of the Lord
    Desires to find the sea
    Of Radha and Lord Krishna’s love
    And swim eternally.

    I walk around you step by step,
    My sins are cleared away,
    Though I’ve offended saintly souls,
    I beg your grace today.

(4) Pancha Tattva Mantra

    Hail Lord Krishna Chaitanya,
    Master Nityananda,
    Saints Advaita, Gadadhar,
    Srivasa and all Krishna bhaktas.

(5) Hare Krishna Maha-mantra

    Hare Krishna Hare Krishna,
    Krishna Krishna Hare Hare;
    Hare Rama Hare Rama,
    Rama Rama Hare Hare.

(6) Gurudev Song: by Vishvanath Chakravarti (1626-1708). English translation by Hayagriva, music by Hrishikesh dasa.

    (1) The blazing fire of samsara
    Afflicts us all life after life;
    But gurudev is gentle rain
    Extinguishing this mortal strife.

    (2) When gurudev sings Krishna’s praise
    Sad tears of yearning fill his eyes;
    Let’s all take shelter at his feet
    And try for pure devotion’s prize.

    (3) In Krishna’s house he daily serves,
    He bows before Their Lordship’s form
    To show us perfect love of God
    And thus becalm life’s raging storm.

    (4) Our gurudev provides the Lord
    With garlands, incense, drink and food,
    And we’re enlivened to behold
    His holy and ecstatic mood.

    (5) Of transcendental themes he sings,
    Of Radha-Krishna’s pristine love;
    Delighting in their sportive games
    Performed in boundless worlds above.

    (6) He helps Lord Krishna meet Radha,
    Assists their rendezvous someway;
    He knows Vrindaban’s woods and groves
    And pastures where the cowherds play.

    (7) He is the good Lord’s confidant
    And represents him on this earth;
    The scriptures bid us follow him:
    His matchless gifts surpass all worth.

    (8) When gurudev bestows his grace
    We truly with God’s blessing meet;
    May we remember thrice a day
    To worship at his lotus feet.

(7) Prayers to Lord Nrsimhadeva from Sri dasavatara-stotra by Jayadeva Goswami (c. 1170-c. 1245). English translation by Umapati Swami, music by Hrishikesh dasa.

    All glories to Nrsimhadeva,
    Prahlad finds joy in you alone.
    You killed Hiranyakasipu,
    Your nails, like chisels, cutting stone.

    (1) Nrsimhadeva is everywhere,
    Within the heart and outside too.
    O source of all, O great refuge,
    Let me surrender unto you.

    (2) The beauty of your lotus hands,
    Each wondrous nail sharp as a sword.
    The wasp Hiranyakasipu
    Was ripped apart by these, my Lord.

    (3) O Keshava, O Lord Hari,
    All glories to this form sublime.
    Half man, half lion, God of all,
    You rule the worlds through endless time.

(8) Vrindaban’s Woods and Groves: originally Jaya radha-madhava from Gitavali by Bhaktivinode Thakur (1838-1914). English translation by Umapati Swami, accompaniment by Hrishikesh dasa.

    Within Vrindaban’s woods and groves,
    Lord Krishna and Radha unite
    To taste the joy of spir’tual love.
    All glories to the holy sight.

    Lord Krishna’s beauty thrills the soul,
    Defeating even Cupid’s dart.
    The boy who lifted Govardhan
    Has won away the gopis’ hearts.

    Yasoda Mata’s darling son,
    Yamuna River’s pride and joy,
    The treasure of all devotees—
    All glories to this cowherd boy.

Optional hymn: Holy Father, Holy Mother: stanzas by Hayagriva dasa, refrain by Kirtanananda Swami Bhaktipada, music by Hrishikesh dasa.

    (1) All nations ’round the earth rejoice
    Before the Lord, our sovereign king;
    Serve him with cheerful heart and voice,
    With all our tongues his glory sing.

    Eternal God, almighty cause
    Of earth, and sea, and worlds unknown;
    All things are subject to his laws,
    All things depend on him alone.

    Refrain: Holy Father, Holy Mother
    Holy Sister, Holy Brother;
    Only Godhead, Supreme Person,
    Let us love him in each other.

    (2) Enter his city gates with joy,
    With praises to his throne repair,
    And make it our divine employ
    To give our thanks and homage there.

    To God alone ourselves we owe,
    To him alone, all love we pay;
    All earthly things we disavow,
    Deny their claims, renounce their sway.

    (3) With one consent, let all the earth
    To God our cheerful voices raise;
    His names we chant with blissful mirth,
    And sing before him songs of praise.

    Convinced that he is God alone,
    From whom both we and all proceed;
    All nations chosen for his own,
    All people he with love doth feed.

    (4) O enter then his city gates,
    Thence to his feet devoutly press,
    And still our grateful hymns repeat,
    And still his names with praises bless.

    Wide as the world is his command,
    Vast as eternity his love,
    Firm as a rock his city stands,
    When rolling years shall cease to move.

The noon service

All Creatures of Our God and King

Original Latin text by Francis of Assisi (1182-1226). Melody, Lasst Uns Erfreuen, first published in Auserlesene Catholische Geistliche Kirchengezeng (1623), harmonized by Ralph Vaughan Williams (1872-1958). Lyrics adapted by Kirtanananda Swami Bhaktipada

    (1) All creatures of our God and King,
    Lift up your voices, let us sing: Hare Krishna, Hare Krishna!
    Bright burning sun with golden beams,
    Pale silver moon that gently gleams,
    O praise him, O praise him: Hare Krishna, Hare Krishna, Hare Rama.

    (2) Great rushing winds and breezes soft,
    You clouds that ride the heav’ns aloft, Hare Krishna, Hare Krishna;
    Fair rising morn with praise rejoice,
    Stars, nightly shining, find a voice,
    O praise him, O praise him: Hare Krishna, Hare Krishna, Hare Rama.

    (3) Swift flowing water, pure and clear,
    Make music for your Lord to hear: Hare Krishna, Hare Krishna!
    Fire so intense and fiercely bright,
    You give to us both warmth and light,
    O praise him, O praise him: Hare Krishna, Hare Krishna, Hare Rama.

    (4) Dear Mother Earth, you day by day,
    Unfold your blessings on our way, Hare Krishna, Hare Krishna;
    All fruits and flow’rs that in you grow,
    Let them his glory also show,
    O praise him, O praise him: Hare Krishna, Hare Krishna, Hare Rama.

    (5) All you with mercy in your heart,
    Forgiving others take your part, Hare Krishna, Hare Krishna;
    All you that pain and sorrow bear,
    Praise God and cast on him your care;
    O praise him, O praise him: Hare Krishna, Hare Krishna, Hare Rama.

    (6) And even you most gentle death,
    Waiting to hush our final breath, Hare Krishna, Hare Krishna;
    You lead back home the child of God,
    For thou, Krishna, the way have trod;
    O praise him, O praise him: Hare Krishna, Hare Krishna, Hare Rama.

    (7) Let all things their creator bless,
    And worship him in humbleness, Hare Krishna, Hare Krishna;
    Praise Lord Krishna, the cowherd boy,
    He is the reservoir of joy,
    O praise him, O praise him: Hare Krishna, Hare Krishna, Hare Rama.

I Surrender All

Lyrics by Judson W. Van DeVenter (1855-1939); adapted by Kirtanananda Swami Bhaktipada. Music by Winfield S. Weeden (1847-1904).

    (1) All to Krishna, I surrender;
    All to him I freely give;
    I will ever love and trust him,
    In his presence daily live. (Refrain)

    I surrender all, I surrender all,
    All to thee, my blessed Krishna,
    I surrender all.

    (2) All to Krishna I surrender;
    Humbly at his feet I bow,
    Worldly pleasures all forsaken;
    Take me, Krishna, take me now.

    (3) All to Krishna, I surrender;
    Make me, master, wholly thine;
    Let me feel thy holy presence,
    Truly know that thou art mine.

    (4) All to Krishna, I surrender;
    Lord, I give myself to thee;
    Fill me with thy love and power;
    Let thy blessing fall on me.

Back to: Gold, Guns and God, Vol. 8