Sri Prahlada Das, who is known for traveling with Indradyumna Swami for 18 years as his assistant, performing in the band Village of Peace, and bringing kirtan and bhakti wisdom to yoga schools, has been offering life lessons from the Srimad-Bhagavatam online during the pandemic.
“At the beginning of lockdown, I thought, ‘In this situation, there’s so much angst, unrest, disease, death, and isolation – how do I contribute to the community?’” he says. “I decided, ‘Let’s meet online and discuss the Bhagavatam.’”
For three months at the start of the pandemic, classes took place daily. Nowadays, Sri Prahlada offers his “Life Lessons from the Srimad-Bhagavatam” twice a week, at 8am London time on Mondays and Thursdays, via https://www.facebook.com/sriprahlada.bhaktiyoga. Around forty people from around the world usually watch live, while some 600 to 800 view the class later. Sri Prahlada speaks for about half an hour, and then invites comments and questions, which his audience type into the chat.
Having completed the first canto of Srimad-Bhagavatam in the first year and now covering the second, the classes focus on the positives of Krishna consciousness rather than the negatives of material life, and highlight life application of the teachings.
“I want to support devotees who are in the world, and have families, jobs, commitments, and responsibilities,” Sri Prahalada says. “I want to support them with a resource that inspires and encourages them to delight and be nourished in Bhakti – not to do it out of fear of being judged, or because it’s a ritual, something you have to do.”
He adds: “I consciously don’t present as a monk. I consciously dress casually, because I really want to show other devotees that they can be me, and I can be them. We could be the same person, dealing with similar challenges. But delighting in Bhakti, the Bhagavatam, kirtan, and chanting.”
Covering a group of about five or six verses per class, Sri Prahlada focuses on their overarching topic or theme, and extracts life lessons from them. Previous class titles have included Bhagavatam Guide to the Galaxy; Reaching the Supreme Through Yoga Practice; How to Meditate; Becoming More Internal; Seeing Krishna by Seeing the World; Practical Tips to Mind Your Mind; and Learning From Those Who Love.
In Bhagavatam Guide to the Galaxy, for instance, Sri Prahlada covered verses wherein Sukadeva Goswami talks about how yogis leave this world by going through different planetary systems. Using transportation analogies and relating the yogis’ journey to our own spiritual path, he compared the mind and subtle body to a vehicle; the yogis’ desire for where they want to travel to an engine; and the sadhana they practice to the fuel, all used to transport the yogi through the galaxy and up through the various planetary systems.
“In a practical way, we then discussed how we are directing our minds,” Sri Prahlada says. “What are we desiring, or focusing on, as we engage in sadhana? Because if we’re not desiring devotion, or love for Krishna, then our vehicle may be propelled to the heavenly planets, or to material enjoyment. Because we are generating the fuel. We are powering the engine.”
In another class, Seeing Krishna by Seeing the World, Sri Prahlada discussed verses 2.1.22. to 2.1.39, in which Sukadeva Goswami talks about meditating on the virat-rupa, or universal form of the Lord. From Sukadeva Goswami’s description, Sri Prahlada laid out four different types of meditation on the virat-rupa. One can meditate on the Lord’s cosmic form by looking at the Earth and stars as part of Krishna and marveling at His greatness. One can meditate on Krishna’s elemental form by remembering Him when we hear, smell, taste and touch, and by understanding that everything is owned and maintained by Him. One can meditate on the Lord’s natural form by seeing the hills and mountains as His bones, the rivers as His veins, the trees as His hair, and so forth. And one can meditate on Krishna’s social form when interacting with people in society.
Meanwhile in Practical Tips to Mind Your Mind, Sri Prahlada covered verses 2.1.14 to 2.1.21, wherein Sukhadeva Goswami advises Maharaja Pariksit on how to meditate upon the Lord.
In this class, Sri Prahlada discussed being conscious of one’s environment and how it has an effect on the mind; being conscious of the breath and slowing it down so that the body feels safe; using mantras and positive talk like positive Bhagavatam classes to focus the mind; and being conscious of the inner gaze, or what we project with our mind.
Life Lessons From the Srimad-Bhagavatam has created a sense of community for the devotees around the world who attend every week, in a time of isolation.
It has also resonated with devotees who have not felt connected to or inspired within the Hare Krishna Movement for a long time. “Many of them write to me, and tell me that they’re enlivened and enthusiastic to connect again,” Sri Prahlada says. “So I see that as a really nice service.”
Finally, giving the classes has also been a powerful experience for Sri Prahlada himself. “When we teach or share, we also learn and grow,” he explains. “So it’s absolutely been an inspiration for my own practice, and has deepened my own relish and relationship with the Srimad-Bhagavatam. That’s for sure!”
Watch Sri Prahlada’s Life Lessons From the Srimad-Bhagavatam here: https://www.facebook.com/sriprahlada.bhaktiyoga[ online-education ] [ srimad-bhagavatam ] [ sri prahlada ]