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Japa Group: Japa Seminar Chandramauli Swami P4


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"Planet ISKCON" - 32 new articles

  1. Krishna-kripa das, Mayapura: Travel Journel#6.24: Philadelphia, New York, Boston, Albany, Gainesville
  2. Book Distribution News: Miracle at the Mall
  3. ISKCON Melbourne, AU: Daily Class - Prabhavisnu Swami
  4. Jayadeva das, USA: Ice Cream is Maya: Fanaticism or Pure Devotion?
  5. Kurma dasa, AU: Family Photo Update
  6. Kurma dasa, AU: Curry Puffs
  7. ISKCON Melbourne, AU: Today's Darsana
  8. Dandavats.com: New Years in Mayapur
  9. Dandavats.com: Why Oh Why Didn’T I Take The Blue Pill?
  10. H.H. Sivarama Swami: Prema-rasa Prabhu asks about accepting responsibility even if it is not one’s inclination to do so and related questions
  11. Subhavilasa das ACBSP, Toronto, CA: Jaya Srila Lochan Dasa Thakura!
  12. Japa Group: Japa Seminar Chandramauli Swami P5
  13. Japa Group: Japa Seminar Chandramauli Swami P4
  14. Rupa Madhurya das, TX, USA: Dance - Bus Tour - Hindolam Thillana - 2/3
  15. Akrura das, Gita Coaching: WHY WE DON'T REMEMBER?
  16. Akrura das, Gita Coaching: PERSONAL COACHING
  17. Australian News: Gauravani and as kindred spirits night of kirtan: Gold Coast
  18. Dandavats.com: International Vaisnavi Retreat
  19. Dandavats.com: Ambulance Needed
  20. H.H. Sivarama Swami: The new Krsna Avanti school in Leicester and Coventry evening program
  21. Dandavats.com: Admissions open at a vedic old age home
  22. Dandavats.com: 2011 Holy Name Weekend - Bhaktivedanta Manor - Sivarama Swami & Madhava Das
  23. Dandavats.com: Murari Sevaka Leadership Change
  24. Dandavats.com: Female Assistant Wanted
  25. Dandavats.com: Invitation for Sri Sri Lord Jagannath Rath Yatra in Gurgaon
  26. Australian News: The Video Part Two: Sydney Australia Ignites 40 Hour Kirtan
  27. Dandavats.com: Job opening at Bhaktivedanta Academy
  28. H.H. Satsvarupa das Goswami: 201
  29. Bhakti Lata, Alachua, USA: River of Prayer
  30. Bhakti Lata, Alachua, USA: Radha Madan Mohan, January 23rd
  31. Gouranga TV: Entering Into the Mystery of The Holy Name With Enthusiasm-Trivikrama Swami
  32. ISKCON Melbourne, AU: Daily Class - Srutakirti Prabhu
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Krishna-kripa das, Mayapura: Travel Journel#6.24: Philadelphia, New York, Boston, Albany, Gainesville

Diary of a Traveling Sadhaka, Vol. 6, No. 24
By Krishna-kripa das
(December 2010, part two)
Philadelphia, New York, Boston, Albany, Gainesville
(Sent from Gainesville, Florida, on January 25, 2011)

Where I Went and What I Did

For the Christmas break, I decided to attend the Vyasa Puja (appearance day [birthday] ceremony) for my initiating guru, Satsvarupa Dasa Goswami, which was held in Govinda's Restaurant in Philadelphia. We also did two harinamas there in Philly, including a spontaneous additional one happening because the enthusiasm of the devotees. On Sunday in Philadelphia temple, they celebrated Gita Jayanti, and devotees shared realizations about Bhagavad-gita. My Godbrother, Caitanya-candrodaya Prabhu, who was visiting from Ireland, had rented a car, and after Vyasa Puja, we drove to New York, where we did harinama and saw the Hare Krishna tree in Tompkins Square Park and original Hare Krishna temple site at 26 Second Avenue. Next we drove to Boston, where Niranjana Swami, who originally invited me to live in the New York temple back in 1979, was doing an evening program with lots of chanting. The next day, Caitanya Mangala Prabhu (Charles Sullivan), a longtime Boston resident and a Facebook-friend of Caitanya-candrodaya, took us on a tour of where the Jaladuta, the boat Srila Prabhupada came to America, originally landed at Commonwealth Pier, and where Srila Prabhupada wrote a beautiful poem about his mission of distributing Krishna consciousness in America. We also saw the sites of the two previous Hare Krishna temples in Boston and the famed universities, Harvard and MIT. I brought my harmonium, and we chanted a little at every place. Next we went on to Albany where I stayed with my relatives for Christmas, and Caitanya-candrodaya stayed with Satsvarupa Dasa Goswami and his health care assistants. After Christmas, I returned to New York to do harinama and to attend two more programs with Niranjana Swami. The roads were so snowy on the trip there, Caitanya-candrodaya abandoned the attempt to drive me and put me on the train at Hudson, a train delayed three times because complications arising from the snow. On New Years Eve, I returned to Gainesville hoping to go on harinama with a lot of my friends, but at least was able to go to on harinama with a few of my friends. I thought more people realized how great a day New Years Eve is for harinama. People are in a jolly mood and are much more willing to participate. The holiday spirit, and probably the alcoholic spirits, break down barriers.

I share lots of great realizations from Niranjana Swami, and some as well as from other devotees.

Satsvarupa Dasa Goswami Vyasa-Puja

Satsvarupa Dasa Goswami spoke nicely to a group of perhaps twenty-five or so followers on the second floor of Govinda's Restaurant on December 18. I recall a greater attendance in 2008 when I was there. In 2009, I was in Mayapur. This year some devotees came from Gitanagari, Boston, and Queens, but I was the only one from Florida. He told the story of his buying the three volumes of Srimad-Bhagavatam personally from Srila Prabhupada, and how Srila Prabhupada was later pleased when he inquired about Srila Vyasadeva's despondency after writing so many Vedic literatures. He also told how because he was a typist for Srila Prabhupada, he heard all the Bhagavatam stories before the other devotees, and he would eagerly sharing them when he gave class. Once, in Srila Prabhupada's presence, he was telling how Krishna would feed the monkeys so much butter they could not eat any more, then He would tell His mother that her butter was no good and that even the monkeys would not eat it. He was surprised to see the broad smiles of all the devotees, until he turned and saw Srila Prabhupada's oceanic smile. After the Vyasa Puja lecture, there was only time for four offerings, one each by Haryasva, Haridas, Bhakti Rasa, and myself. I said I was impressed that during the week I visited him he was always sitting in his chair at 2:30 a.m. chanting on his beads, despite the infirmaties of old age and his chronic headache condition, showing by his example that importance of that instruction. Also I was amazed that he took half an hour out of his afternoon to talk with my relatives, although they do not have a serious interest in Krishna consciousness. Bhakti Rasa read a couple nice poems accompanied by music. Despite Satsvarupa Dasa Goswami's physical challenges he delivered a good talk and participated in the kirtana later, and took prasadam with the devotees. An audio recording of the lecture is on his web page at:

Harinamas in Philadelphia

I decided to try for a harinama the night before the Vyasa Puja ceremony we had for Satsvarupa Dasa Goswami. I was very happy that five of my godbrothers came out along with three Philadelphia devotees making a party nine strong. Caitanya Candrodaya, Bhakti Rasa Prabhu, and I had chanted together for three days in Newcastle, England, in June, and it was nice to be together in a new place. Mother Anindita, the Philly temple secretary, made cookies for us to distribute, and although there were not so many people on the streets and we did not stay out more than an hour because of the cold and some people liking to take rest early, still we distributed over sixty of them. I would tell the people we were giving out cookies for Christmas, which made it is easier to distribute them. Many people happy to see the devotees, especially the young people. Haryasva Prabhu, the manager of Govinda’s restaurant, who I remember being the most enthusiastic of the brahmacari dancers when I lived in the Philly temple in the mid-1980s, was very happy to be out on harinama again. I hope he will come out more often in the future. Ganga dd, although she could not come as she usually does, kindly lent me her car so I could take the instruments and devotees from the temple downtown for the event.

Amazing for me was that we did another harinama the next day, after the Vyasa Puja event. This time we had eight devotees, four devotees from the previous day, including Navin Shyam Prabhu who would chant with me every week at University of Florida in Gainesville while working on his masters degree and in Nabadwip while doing bhakti-sastri. Amit, who also came out twice, is involved in our club at U. Penn., where he advised us to chant, as students had not yet completed finals and still populate the campus. Many of the students were happy to see us, although it was clear, that for many, it was their first encounter with devotees. We found a popular student hangout and chanted there for some time. Some of the students danced along with us.

The devotees all were happy to go out chanting, although because of the cold, we did not stay out long. It is good to go out regularly just so the devotees remember how nice it is.

Gita Jayanti in Philadelphia

In Philadelphia temple they have a buy-one-get-one-free sale on Bhagavad-gita to encourage people to buy Bhagavad-gitas as gifts in this Christmas season.

From 1:00 to 4:00 p.m. a group of fifteen or so devotees chanted all the verses of the Gita in English. I came for the end of the eighteenth chapter. Gita Jayanti is always Ekadasi, and it is too hard to chant my extra japa quota and the Bhagavad-gita both.

Sraddha dd asked me to give a class on the Gita. I shared key themes and favorite verses, but lost my notes, so I cannot share them. After that individual devotees spoke:

Jahnava dd (formerly Janice from San Diego): If we speak Krishna-katha [words by and about Krishna], we will automatically speak words that are “truthful, pleasing, beneficial, and not agitating to others” as Krishna recommends in Bg. 17.15.

Dr. Nair: “In this endeavor there is no loss or diminution, and a little advancement on this path can protect one from the most dangerous type of fear.” (Bg. 2.40) That devotion service is an eternal credit is a great solace.

Bhakta Israel: Everything I was searching for was in Bhagavad-gita. What Krishna is saying is timeless. It is like Krishna is speaking to us now, just like he was speaking to Arjuna.

Ganga Varuni dd:

We all have our own battles in our lives. Our challenges are not as severe as Arjuna’s, to fight his relatives, but they nonetheless seem serious to us. We can choose to fight our own battles, and Krishna will support us.

We just have to accept what Krishna said as he said it, and present it to others. We have to transcend ideas of political correctness.

Bhaktin Saumya:

People in general say as long as you do good, that is all that is required, hinting that worship of God is not necessary, but Krishna contradicts this in Bg. 9.30 when He says even if you do bad by accident, if you are fixed in the determination to please Him, you are still a saint. In fact, he says that such a person quickly becomes righteous.

Bhakta Aravind:

There are so many ideas of dharma, if one studied them to find the ultimate one, he would be confused. Krishna makes it clear what is the dharma.

Christmas in Albany

For Christmas, I brought my relatives doughnuts from the Hare Krishna-owned Doughnut Plant in Manhattan, Wonder Bars (Krishna.com's line of prasadam fruit-nut bars), and a few Krishna related books: The Hidden Glory of India, Diary of a Traveling Preacher, Prabhupada Nectar, and The Twenty-six Qualities of a Devotee. I also made prasadam waffles with strawberry sauce for breakfast on Christmas dayt. My sister, and her friend, Victor, gave me socks and gloves, which really came in handy for my harinamas the next week in New York. My mother gave me dried figs, one of my favorite treats.

Because of burning out on my relatives habit of tasting things I am cooking before they are offered to Krishna, I finally took the trouble of explaining to my mother that our desire to enjoy things without offering them to the Lord is the root cause of our residing in the material world, where people put their own selfish desires in the center. Until we perfectly understand that the Lord is the enjoyer of all our activities, we have to accept birth after birth in this world, and miss attaining the kingdom of God. Tasting the unoffered food, therefore, although appearing to be a minor detail, is a symptom of a philosophical misunderstanding, one so severe that it prevents our entry into the spiritual world, a place where all the residents agree that the Lord is the original enjoyer of all our offerings. It was a little heavy, but I was glad I said, even if only from the philosophical point of view, so she could understood why it bothers me so much. I only make such points every few years, otherwise it would create too much tension.

I distributed prasadam twice at the Quaker meetinghouse in Albany (coconut sweets and oatmeal cookies), and I played a wise man from the East in the Christmas drama. I found they sing hymns the last Sunday in the month, for the half hour prior to their hour of silence, a new feature not present in my youth, and one more consistent with the Vedic idea of the best dharma being the congregational glorification of the Lord. I spoke briefly in the meeting about the universality of chanting the glories of the Lord and how we can experience that it brings spiritual pleasure to the soul. I recalled that the Christmas caroling that we did in my Quaker youth was a joyful experience, and mentioned how I like the Hare Krishna practice of singing morning, noon, and evening. I praised the Quakers for increasing the glorification of the Lord in their service by adding the half hour of singing monthly. The singers in the meeting were especially happy with my words and my presence.

New York Harinamas and the Book Marathon

I emailed the devotees who came on our October harinama in Tompkins Square Park, and told them I would be in New York on the Monday before Christmas and would like to do harinama. We settled on 5:00 p.m., which turned out to be the time we arrived from Philadelphia. Mother Ekayani and Bhaktin Michaelle agreed to come. While putting our belonging in the ashram, we met Ananda Vidya Prabhu, who had just come back from selling over twenty Bhagavad-gitas and other books at the subway stations. He decided to come with us and bring some Chant and Be Happy books to distribute. We chanted to Tompkins Square Park, as my friend, Caitanya-candrodaya Prabhu, who was visiting from Europe had never been to that place with its sacred Hare Krishna tree, where Srila Prabhupada and his devotees began chanting regularly in October of 1966. I was surprised to see that in New York the parks are open to midnight, while in London they close at dusk. Just as we got to the park, a lady donated to us six bags of dried fruit and nuts. After visiting the park, which was not very crowded, we went toward St. Marks Square. At one point a girl, who was hanging out with some friends, yelled at us from across the street, “You guys sound great.” And she and her friends, some guys and girls, danced with the devotees for some time. Michaelle, in particular, swung some of the girls around in circles. At one point, my hands were too cold to play the instruments, so Ananda Vidya took over, and I distributed books. Somehow I ended up distributing four books for five dollars. I had a desire to distribute some books during the Prabhupada Christmas marathon, but I never actually got around to do it, but by the mercy of Krishna and Ananda Vidya, I did participate in the marathon after all. For me, the best experience was when I saw a cab driver waiting at a stop light. While looking at the devotees chanting and dancing, he smiled brilliantly. I approached him, saying that the book explained what we were doing, and he took it and gave a three dollar donation. One math major at NYU was intrigued with the harmonium, and we let him jam with it for a while. He liked the Beatles and was eager to get the Chant and Be Happy. Everyone had a great time on the harinama which lasted for two hours, and Michaelle told me she was so inspired she is thinking of organizing some more herself.

The week after Christmas, I did five harinamas in New York City, a place where there are always people on the street. My favorite day was when I did two harinamas in one day, went out on book distribution, and attended a kirtana and lecture by Niranjana Swami, one of my main instructing spiritual masters. Let me tell you about it:

The classes in the Bhakti Center were all about distributing Srila Prabhupada's books, and many devotees were going out for five or six hours a day. Even new devotees, like Rasaraja Prabhu, who has not been initiated even a year, were regularly distributing twenty softbound Bhagavad-gitas. The enthusiasm was so great, even I decided to go out for one hour one day, although I usually do such a bad job, I do not like to go out. I ended up staying out almost an hour and a half, and I distributed four Perfection of Yogas, two in English and two in Spanish. I did enjoy trying to convince the people about the literature, although just a few took it, and then, just the smallest books. I met one sincere person who was looking for such literature, and that was a special bonus.

Immediately, upon returning from book distribution, we did a harinama for almost an hour, just before Niranjana Swami's evening program. Later, during the prasadam after his lecture, one girl told us she received the email about the program but forgot all about it until she us chanting at St. Marks Place! Niranjana Swami led kirtana for almost two hours and also talked about perfecting our chanting of the holy names. Devotees were so enthusiastic from the program that seven of us went out on an hour-long harinama after prasadam which concluded the program at 9:45 p.m! One devotee in the party had a shirt with the whole mantra printed on the back, and one of the ladies in the party encouraged a favorable group of people walking behind us to sing along with the mantra and so they did! Bhakta Alex attempted to distribute a book to almost everyone he met. Bhaktin Ika took some pictures and put them on Facebook:

Jagadish Chaitanya, Bhaktin Ika Danielson, Bhaktin Michaelle Kalinowski, and Krishna-kripa Das

New Years Eve Harinama

Three friends and I had a great time doing harinama New Year's Eve in Gainesville. As soon as we started, three girls wanted us to sing for their New Years video, and so we did. We invited them to dance along, and one of them did. Then we gave them mantra cards, and the one who danced, sang the response for ten minutes. Two guys came by, and she gave mantra cards to the guys and told them to sing along. When they asked about who we were, she excitedly told them about our Krishna lunch program. Everyone was in a joy mood the whole evening, and many uttered names from the mantra and danced. Adi Karta Prabhu came out with his accordion and amplifier and really added a lot to the party. New Years Eve one of the best days for harinama because people are in a jolly, festive mood. I hope I can convince more of my Gainesville friends to come out next year!

Insights from Lectures

Niranjana Swami:

program at Bhakti Center in New York:

It is beneficial to talk about our purposes in chanting in order to keep them mind.

Prabodhananda Saravati likens the senses to serpents but says that the effect of mercy of Lord Caitanya, the chanting of Hare Krishna, is to break the fangs of these serpents.

Srila Prabhupada would quote the verse that says devotion, direct experience of the Supreme, and detachment occur naturally as a result of bhakti, just as pleasure, nourishment, and freedom from hunger come with each bite of food. You do not have to ask anyone, “Is my hunger going away?”

Srila Prabhupada explained the importance of using analogies by using the analogy of seeing the moon moving through the branches of the tree.

Chanting Hare Krishna is pleasurable, but we must understand the ultimate goal, spiritual perfection.

If we want the chanting of Hare Krishna to be at the center of our lives, we must cultivate the state of consciousness advised by Lord Caitanya, one of humility and tolerance.

If one wants to realize the ultimate benefit of chanting he must hear the truths about the holy name from the Vaishnavas.

To get Lord Caitanya’s mercy we must chant without blaspheming any living entity. We must respect everyone.

Piyari Mohan was telling me that Tamal Krishna Goswami asked Srila Prabhupada the difference between calling a spade a spade, faultfinding, and blaspheming. Srila Prabhupada said to say to you, “You are insignificant as a fig is calling a spade a spade. Faultfinders are like flies looking for filthiness while bees look for nectar. Blasphemers manage to find a fault when a person only has good qualities.

from a New Jersey home program:

Our dealings with others, devotees and nondevotees alike, affects our consciousness.

We do not change hearts. We turn peoples’ attention toward Krishna, and He changes their hearts. Faith in the devotees, faith in the holy name, etc., are necessary to advance.

Only the pure devotees can be peaceful because they have no material desire. As long as the two witches of bhukti (sense enjoyment) and mukti (liberation) are haunting us, we cannot taste the sweetness of devotional service.

Visvavanatha Cakravati Thakura says it is essential to hear about the pastimes, instructions, and qualities of the Supreme Lord in the association of devotees from the beginning of sraddha to the end of Krishna prema.

Faith is the only currency for purchasing the holy name. If we wish to distribute Krishna’s name, we must eager to offer the people's faith to Krishna.

Lord Nityananda does not consider a person’s material qualifications but the presence of a little faith. Srila Prabhupada was also accepting just a little faith. In a lecture on Srimad-Bhagavatam 1.2.16, he told his disciples, “I have given you your faith.”

Srila Prabhupada appeals in the Gita, if you can’t accept Krishna as the Supreme Lord, at least theoretically accept Krishna as the Supreme Lord.

Srila Prabhupada’s selflessness awakened faith. His only aspiration was to awaken and to nurture faith.

When Haridas Thakura heard the glories of Ananta Sesa from the snakebite physician, he went unconscious in spiritual ecstasy, thus increasing the faith those who witnessed him. The physician showed all respect to Haridas, understanding his spiritual position. Later an envious brahmana feigned ecstasy, rolling on the ground. The physician, understanding the pretense, hit the brahmana, who stopped his act and ran away.

We should protect people’s faith by giving instruction and by our own proper action.

Lord Caitanya says if one worships Me but neglects My servant, such worship cuts Me to pieces.

If a sannyasi blasphemes an innocent person, he falls down, and his piety perishes.

Lord Caitanya says, “I will personally deliver anyone who chants Krishna’s name and does not blaspheme others.”

Speaking on the “sadhavah sadhu-bhusana” verse, Srila Prabhupada said, “A sadhu never does anything to provoke enmity in another.” Sometimes a people may become angry hearing a sadhu due to a material attachment, but the sadhu does not intend that.

Jiva Goswami makes the point that because a kanistha-adhikari does not know how to respect others, he is useless as far as practical preaching work is concerned.

Bhaktisiddhanta Sarasvati Thakura says one who proudly considers himself a Vaishava, a devotee of the Lord, yet is not merciful to others attains only the three-fold miseries but not devotional service.

Q: Is staying at a certain stage too long detrimental in our devotional service?
A: It can be. Srila Prabhupada explained that we are in the middle of the ocean of material existence, and we can be affected at any moment. He said that maya is always testing to see if we want to serve Krishna or disturb Krishna. If we accept the association of devotees who are more advanced, then we will not remain complacent. We need strength to overcome the unwanted desires in our heart, and we must associate with people who give us that strength.

Q (by me after the program): It seems to me that it would be best for me to do whatever will create faith in the greatest number of people.
A: But to create faith in people, you have to have faith yourself.
Q: So I should try to seek that association by which I get the greatest faith?
A: Yes.

That was a powerful statement. My computer was not powered up to record it at the time, but I recalled it two and a half weeks later, and wrote it down. I was thinking I had some faith to share, but he could see from his point of view, that I have to gain a lot more faith to really be able to benefit people, so that appears to be my direction for the coming year.

Baladeva Prabhu:

Studies show that reading electronic books is 10% slower than reading ordinary books of paper, so that is more reason to buy books.

Yajna Purusa Prabhu:

When I did the marathon in Boston, seeing the happiness of Madhava, the head cook, who was cooking for the pleasure of the sankirtana devotees, really touched my heart and inspired me.

There is nothing more inspirational than taking a break from sankirtana and reading Srila Prabhupada's Bhaktivedanta purports.

Caitanya-candrodaya Prabhu:

The Vedic idea is that religion comes before sense gratification and economic development, but in the west we think the sense enjoyment and economic development come before religion.

You will never become pure if you use religion for your sense gratification. If we are not completely pure, we will not enter the Bhagavatam and the Bhagavatam will not enter our hearts.

We encourage people to follow the regulations prohibiting sinful activity because it is required to attain a higher state of consciousness, not just because we like to repress people.

I can understand I am falling away from dharma when I judge a devotee because of his past activities rather his desire to go back to Godhead.

If we trust people, we empower people, and they go on to empower others. But if we do not trust people, we can end up disempowering them, or in other words, making them feel that they cannot represent Srila Prabhupada or Lord Krishna.

You have to have faith in the association of devotees to attract others into that association.

Srila Prabhupada gave only one lecture on the Tenth Canto and thousands of lectures on the others cantos.

Knowledge is important for our conviction in spiritual life. You may experience a loss of taste at some point. That is very common, but if you are fixed in knowledge, you will continue and progress.

"Jagannathastaka" was written by Sankaracarya.

In puja we offer the five elements beginning with ether, with the blowing of the conch shell.

Someone asked Jananivasa what substance the deities were made of, and he replied that it depends on what your heart is made of. If you are materialistic, the deity is made of material elements, but if you are spiritually realized, the deity is the fully spiritual Supreme Personality of Godhead.

Merging into the brahman is a very bad deal. In the material world, at least we can offer something to Krishna, however imperfect it may be, and thus can have some relationship with Him, but that facility is not existing when one's consciousness is fixed brahman.

Ether is not merely the three-dimensions of space that we know.

You have to be very advanced in self-realization to explain Mayavada philosophy without becoming contaminated by it.

If you understand the limitations of sense perception and interference, it will change your life forever.

The “Bhisma Parva,” consists of the instructions of Bhimadeva, is the largest section of the Mahabharata. Bhisma makes the point that a logician can always be defeated by a greater logician, and thus logic cannot reach the ultimate truth. Therefore we have to accept knowledge from authorities who have direct experience of the truth.

Dualities, such as that which we want and that which we do not want, are so natural it is difficult to imagine a state that is beyond dualities. We must follow a path that can give us a realization of transcendence.

Attaining peace is an initial result of a spiritual practice.

Kaustuba Prabhu:

Tolerance is a qualification necessary for spiritual understanding.

To give up family, possessions, enjoyments, etc. is easier than giving up one’s false conception of himself.

One has to pray really hard to enter into the association of the Lord within in the heart, and being alone on sankirtana [distribution of Srila Prabhupada's books] is a great opportunity to be inspired to do that. If you are fortunate, you can bring people into that association with the Lord, and benefit them.

In Vrndavana on parikrama, some children were teasing us and causing commotion, and some of the devotees were agitated. Mother Srimati asked us not to be disturbed saying, “They are just testing our determination to hear.” We did as she said and soon after the children left us alone.

When I was preparing to go on book distribution, I would prepare like an athlete preparing for a big game or a priest preparing for a Vedic ritual.

If your mind is well prepared, entering into the arena of book distribution is an exhilarating experience.

Gadadhara Pandit:

We must become free from the disease of material contamination to taste the nectar of Krishna consciousness.

If we are able act ideally with the devotees in our association, then and only then, can we have an impact on society.

Lord Siva showed ideal Vaishnava behavior in the arena of the Daksa sacrifice by tolerating being insulted in an assembly of all the most important people in the universe.

Sometimes we dream that we will attain a situation where there are no provoking situations, but that is not a reality. Even if you become a leader or a guru, Krishna will send just the right person to help you remove the last traces of your material attachments.

How to please the Lord? It is simple. We do not have to be an intellectual to understand it. Just spread Krishna consciousness to others.

Bhakta Mauricio:

Disciple is based on the word discipline, and discipline is based on obedience. Our claim to be advanced has no meaning unless we are obedient to the guru.

Radhanatha Swami makes the point that to think that you cannot do something is a manifestation of false pride because it implies that when you do something which you think you can do, that you are thinking that you are the doer.

If a pure devotee accepts what you are doing as [devotional] service, then it becomes [devotional] service.

Notes Mauricio took on a class by Niranjana Swami:

The force was the purity of Srila Prabhupada's desire. Not that he was yelling do it do it.

There was nothing sweeter than the conviction that we were doing something for Srila Prabhupada.

If I did not get that opportunity to push pass the limits of his body to do something to please Srila Prabhupada, I would have really missed out on something very valuable.

Comments by Brahma-tirtha Prabhu: In the early days, there was no one who did not perform austerities. In retrospect, we could have done austerities more intelligently, but the austerities were good.

We learned different things, like “never go out as Santa Claus in a Jewish community, especially if you look Jewish.”

Karen [my sister, teacher of mindfulness]:

Stop before resentment begins.


pātrāpātra-vicāra nāhi, nāhi sthānāsthāna
yei yāńhā pāya, tāńhā kare prema-dāna

In distributing love of Godhead, Caitanya Mahaprabhu and His associates did not consider who was a fit candidate and who was not, nor where such distribution should or should not take place. They made no conditions. Wherever they got the opportunity, the members of the Pañca-tattva distributed love of Godhead.” (Sri Caitanya-caritamrita, Adi-lila 7.23)

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Book Distribution News: Miracle at the Mall

The marathon started and we decided to go on a traveling sankirtan trip for four days to the countryside, away from the hustle and bustle of Melbourne. Unlike previous times, we decided to distribute in devotional clothes. We looked at the weather forecast for the week and found that from Wednesday on it was pretty bleakÑthunderstorms and rain. Nevertheless, praying for the mercy of the Lord, we embarked on our trip and soon reached our first stop D Bendigo D a couple of hours from Melbourne. There we distributed books the whole day, till the town became quiet. That same evening we drove to our next destination, Castlemine, a small country town 30 Km from Bendigo, with a number of people interested in alternative living. There we set up camp for the night.

The next morning, as predicted, buckets of water started pouring down and the country town seemed deserted. It looked like the demigods were not in our favor! Time ticked by . . . At 10:30AM we hadn't even started yet, and the rain showed no sign of letting up. We had two options: either we could go back to Bendigo and distribute books and drive to Warnambool the next day, which would be very circuitous, or we could go to the next big town, Ballarat, which was on the way to Warnambool. The latter plan sounded logical, but over the years I had been kicked out of the shopping mall in Ballarat whenever I had tried to distribute. If that would happen again, practically the whole day would be ruined! But we had to decide, and so praying for Lord Caitanya's mercy, in desperation we raced to Ballarat.

By midday we reached Ballarat, packed our book bags, and went straight to the mall, the only happening place in town. As I entered the mall, I saw a short security guard in sunglasses standing next to a pillar, smoking a cigarette. The book bag I was dragging and my bright saffron garb grabbed his full attention. "This is the end of today's sankirtan here," my mind whispered. Nevertheless, I proceeded toward him. The security guard asked in a rough country accent: "What's going on?"

I replied, "I'm a traveling monk from Melbourne, and I'm showing people some books."

"Give us a look," he said gruffly.

I immediately handed him a hardbound Bhagavad-gita and started showing him the pictures from the one I held in my hand. The moment he saw the artwork he took off his sunglasses and started swearing. He exclaimed, "These pictures are so true! They're awesome!"

I was shocked. I explained to him the pictures about reincarnation, the chariot of the body, and the yogi, and then we came to the karma picture. When he saw that, he grabbed the Bhagavad-gita from my hand and read what the text said. I thought to myself, "Oh no! Now he's reading the caption to the karma illustration, and it's not good news for him."

After reading, he said, "My karma is very bad."

"Don't worry," I said, "karma can be changed by spiritual activities."

The security guard replied, "Mine can never be changed."

"It *will* change," I retorted.

We went back and forth like this for awhile. Then the guard said, "Anyway, how much do you want for this book?"

I was dumbfounded and said, "This cost us $15 to print. People give whatever donation they can."

The guard said, "I don't have that much to spare right now."

I told him, "Don't worry. Take this 'Perfection of Yoga' and these cookies as a gift."

He happily accepted the book and cookies and promised he would read it in the evening. Now I asked the crucial question -- whether we could distribute books in the mall -- and the security guard, appreciating what we were doing as "good work," offered his assistance if anyone created trouble. Then for the next four or five hours we distributed in the mall, stopping everyone, and many people bought books. Every 20 minutes our security guard would meet us and ask if everything was OK. He also told us where the good spots were and warned us about thugs hanging around.

He seemed to be quite influential. His supervisor saw us selling books on the CCTV, and our guy got the supervisor on his side. Later he introduced me to his wife, who was hanging around the shopping mall with their friends. She complained to me that I was stopping everyone except her to show the books. I couldn't believe what I was hearing.

So the whole day we distributed books in the Ballarat Mall -- with security cover.

Sankirtan yajna ki jaya!

Your servant, Nanda Mandir dasa

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ISKCON Melbourne, AU: Daily Class - Prabhavisnu Swami

Bhagavatam class given on Sunday, 23rd January, 2011

Srimad Bhagavatam 11.29.21-23 - The miracle of Krsna consciousness is that even the dog eaters or the beef eaters can become pure devotees.

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Jayadeva das, USA: Ice Cream is Maya: Fanaticism or Pure Devotion?

The below video is a “song” I made by taking a clip from one of Srila Prabhupada’s lectures in which an ice cream truck drives by while he's speaking. Srila Prabhupada instructs the devotees that they shouldn’t take such ice cream and then half-jokingly states that the canvassing of the ice cream truck with its music is similar to how maya works. Maya entices us with some sort of sensory stimulation, promising pleasure and happiness, only to leave us once again empty handed and feeling unhappy.

My video can be taken in different ways. Some devotees may see it as offensive, as if I am making light of Prabhupada’s instruction to not eat unoffered/un-offerable ice cream. It could be as if I am saying, “Yeah, right…if I eat ice cream I’m going to go to hell! Puh-leeeze!” Someone even wrote me and said it is offensive to the devotees that regularly offer ice cream to Krishna, indirectly implying that they are in maya.

I should clarify that my intention is not to mock or make a joke of this instruction, nor to call out devotees as being in maya. What I’m more interested in is bringing attention to our reactions to this video and Srila Prabhupada’s words.

Some of us may in fact take it to be out-dated and out of context for today’s devotional climate. We, as a devotional society, seem to have moved to the opposite end of those early days in ISKCON. There seems to be more laxity in following the regs, cynicism, doubt and lack of respect for authority. After all, how could we not feel that way after seeing so many exemplary devotees fall down or become entrapped by the false ego and prestige?

This move towards rejecting/doubting authority and picking and choosing what instructions to follow has pushed us to the brink of becoming mundane religionists: we are basically materialistic people that sometimes go to the temple or sometimes do something spiritual or devotional. We drink our coffee and watch our TV shows, because we think that NOT doing these things would simply be fanatical and only for the sannyasis. In the name of avoiding fanaticism we have become “watered down” devotionally; our devotion has become mixed with all kinds of other desires for personal sense gratification.

Many of us may think, “What’s the big deal if I get a fudge pop from an ice cream truck? What’s the big deal if I drink a latte from Starbucks? What’s the big deal if I go to the movies? What’s the big deal if I watch a TV show? What’s the big deal if I look at pornography? What’s the big deal if I eat at a vegetarian restaurant? What’s the big deal if I play videogames? What’s the big deal if I listen to non-devotional music? What’s the big deal if I go to concerts?” We think it’s too extreme and fanatical to follow the devotional path so strictly. But is it really fanaticism? Or is it just following the process strictly and properly? We know in the Bhakti Rasamrta Sindhu that there are many things we should do and should not do in order to make spiritual advancement on the path of bhakti. There are certain things to be avoided and one of those is not eating things that are not first offered to Krishna. But so many devotees nowadays eat so-called “karmi grains” and even eat out at restaurants on a regular basis, eating only for the pleasure of the tongue.

Does offering up our store-bought Breyers ice cream to Krishna make it okay? Does it make it okay because “a lot of devotees do it”? Not necessarily. We have to look at the intention behind it. Do we offer things to Krishna with the intention that we simply want to enjoy it? If so, the offering becomes a meaningless, empty ritual. As we know God is not in need of anything. He wants our devotion. Lusting after ice cream, buying it from the store and then “offering” it doesn’t really purify it. Krishna doesn’t accept such offerings. We’re still doing it for our personal sense gratification, which is not bhakti, it’s maya.

I don’t claim to be a saint. I eat tons of bhoga, never chant my rounds, watch TV and movies and engage in all other sorts of mundane activities devoid of Krishna Consciousness. The trend I’m seeing is that many devotees outside of the temples are adopting this sort of lifestyle and view. We have to be constantly aware that this is not bhakti, this is not pure devotional service. Strictly following the process leads to pure devotion. It leads to becoming detached from sense gratification/selfish pursuits and ultimately leads to Krishna prema and direct experience/relationship with God. Strictly following means we follow everything that Srila Prabhupada and the previous acaryas have instructed. That means on top of the 4 regulative principles no eating at restaurants, no bhoga, no “karmi grains”, no coffee, no tea, no television, no movies, no prajalpa, etc. (Sure, some devotees may say they watch TV and movies in order for “preaching” purposes and to stay current, which I don’t deny is possible, but unless one is on the transcendental platform those things can still affect one’s consciousness, even if only on a subtle level).

Many of us would look at a devotee who is following that strictly as being “fanatical” and “out of touch”. In reality they are simply following the process as it ought to be followed with 100% dedication and surrender! (As Srila Prabhupada would say “cent percent”.) It’s a lofty ideal indeed. I know at this point in my life and in my consciousness I would not be able to live such a devoted and strict lifestyle. It’s not a cheap and easy thing to do. And because I am not 100% strictly following the process I am in a very precarious situation. It opens the door to doubts, lack of faith, lack of taste, lack of enthusiasm and lack of interest in the process of devotional service. If we are not taking full shelter at the lotus feet of Sri Guru then we are open and susceptible to the allurements of maya (like an ice cream cone from an ice cream truck!). It’s like only half standing under an umbrella in a rainstorm.

So how do you react when you hear Srila Prabhupada say that eating ice cream from an ice cream truck is maya? Do you become defensive? Do you think it’s fanatical? Do you think it’s impractical? Do you think it’s only for sannyasis? Do you think, “I don’t eat that stuff anyway”? Do you realize you’re simply in maya and that you have a lot of material attachments (one of which includes eating a lot of ice cream!)? Our reactions (or lack thereof) say a lot about the state of our consciousness.

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Kurma dasa, AU: Family Photo Update

Some family pics from last weekend:

My kids - Nitai Caitanya and Joelene:

My three children, Nitai aged 14, Caitanya aged 25, Joelene aged 31.

Grandsons Sebastian and Toby, January 2011:

Joelene's two sons Sebastian and Toby.

My son Nitai and my grandsons Sebastian and Toby, Jan 2011:

My son Nitai with my grandsons Sebastian and Toby.

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Kurma dasa, AU: Curry Puffs

Some vision from last weekend's cook-up for a family get-together:

curry puff grid:

The filling* was already made. All I had to do was thaw out the puff pastry, cut each sheet into nine, and place a spoon-full of filling on each square.

curry puff fold:

Each square of pastry is folded into a triangle and sealed.

special fluted edges:

The special fluted edges make them look nice.

curry puffs in waiting:

The raw curry puffs wait nervously on the brink of a hot wok of oil.

curry puff time:

Not the most photogenic batch of curry puffs, but I forgot to take a photo of fresh ones. These were the last remaining puffs from 90 good-looking specimens after the smoke had cleared at the end of a hectic day of family stuff.

I suppose you'd like the *recipe. Ok, here it is...

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ISKCON Melbourne, AU: Today's Darsana

The mist from the frankincense on the altar reflects the overcast weather outside...
or maybe it is the reverse since everything has its origin in the spiritual world.

Whatever may be, we shall join the Harinama Party on the Australia Day Parade this morning to spread Lord Caitanya's mission.

As Sruta Kirti Prabhu just declared in Bhagavatam class:
our mood is to preach;
preach in all circumstances,
no matter what the external conditions may be,
as did Srila Prabhupada.

So whether it rains or hails
the Sankirtan Movement must go on;
do YOU want to be part of it?

Here is today's darsana;
it might influence your decision more towards the Deities' pleasure.

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Dandavats.com: New Years in Mayapur

By Sukanti Radha dasi

It was predicted by a well known reader in London who incidentally also predicted several earthquakes, floods, and 9/11 that at the end of 2010 a new divine energy was to spread from the centre of the earth which will radiate all corners of the earth bringing in an energy which was to change the consciousness of mans attitude towards money in 2011

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Dandavats.com: Why Oh Why Didn’T I Take The Blue Pill?

By Jeevanmukta Das

When push comes to shove, some of us tend to align with science and scientists rather than shastras and guru. Indeed, when presented with what seems like irrefutable scientific data, most will abandon ship and the captain and swim over to the science barge and waltz with the scientists!

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H.H. Sivarama Swami: Prema-rasa Prabhu asks about accepting responsibility even if it is not one’s inclination to do so and related questions

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Subhavilasa das ACBSP, Toronto, CA: Jaya Srila Lochan Dasa Thakura!

O' glorious Vaishnava, Srila Lochan Das Thakura, the great writer of Chaitanya Mangala which brings an ocean of transcendental pastimes of Lord Sri Chaitanya Mahaprabu, we offer our respectful obeisances to you again and again. Today we honour your disapprearance day.

In Srila Prabhupada's ISKCON centres around the world your glorious bhajans are sung that bring us closer to Lord Hari. Your sweet praises of Gauranga and Nityananda are exemplified  in Parama Karuna Pahun Dui Jana.

parama karuna pahun dui jana
nitai gaurachandra
saba avatara, sara shiromani
kevala ananda kanda
bhaja bhaja bhai, chaitanya nitai
sudhrida visvasa kori
vishaya chariya se rase majiya
mukha bolo hari hari
dekho ore bhai, tribhuvane nai
emona doyala data
pashu-pakhi jhure, pashana vidore
shuni yar guna gantha
samsare majiya, rahile pariya
se pade nahilo asha
apana koroma, bhunjaye shamana,
kohoye locana dasa

This song was especially dear to His Divine Grace A.C. Bhaktivedanta Swami Prabhupada who translates it is follows:

"This is a song by Locan dasa Thakura. Locan dasa declares that the two Lords, Nitai-Gauracandra—Lord Nitai and Lord Chaitanya—are very merciful. They are the essence of all incarnations. The specific significance of these incarnations is that prosecuting their way of self-realization is simply joyful, for they introduced chanting and dancing. There are many incarnations, like Lord Rama and even Krishna, who taught Bahgavad-gita, which requires knowledge and understanding. But Lord Chaitanya introduced a process which is simply joyful—simply chant and dance. Therefore Lochan Das requests everyone: "My dear brother, I request that you just worship Lord Chaitanya and Nityananda with firm conviction and faith." Don't think that this chanting and dancing will not lead to the desired goal. It will. It is the assurance of Lord Chaitanya Mahaprabhu that one will get all perfection by this process. Therefore one must chant with firm faith and conviction. 

But what is the process? If one wants to be Krishna conscious by this process, one has to give up his engagement in sense gratification. That is the only restriction. If one gives up sense gratification, it is sure that he will reach the desired goal. One simply has to chant "Hari Hari!" without any motive of sense gratification.

Lochan das says, "My dear brother, you just try and examine this. Within the three worlds there is no one like Lord Chaitanya or Lord Nityananda, because Their merciful qualities are so great that They make even birds and beasts cry, what to speak of human beings." Actually, when Lord Chaitanya passed through the forest known as Jharikhanda, the tigers, elephants, snakes, deer, and all other animals joined Him in chanting Hare Krishna. It is so nice that anyone can join. Even teh animals can join, what to speak of human beings. Of course, it is not possible for ordinary men to induce animals to chant, but if Chaitanya Mahaprabhu could inspire animals to chant, at least we can encourage human beings to adopt this path of Hare Krishna mantra chanting. It is so nice that even the most stonehearted man will be melted. It is so nice that even stone will melt.

But Lochan dasa Thakura regrets that he is entrapped by sense gratification. He addresses himself, "My dear mind, you are entrapped in this sense gratification process, and you have no attraction for chanting Hare Krishna. Since you have no attraction for the lotus feet of Lord Chaitanya and Lord Nityananda, what can I say? I can simply think of my misfortune. Yamaraja, the superintendent of death, is punishing me by not allowing me to be attracted by this movement."
~ Srila Prabhupada

Another personal favorite is Nitai Guna Mani. Jaya Nitai! Jaya Nitai! Jaya Nitai!
Jaya Srila Lochan das Thakura!
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Japa Group: Japa Seminar Chandramauli Swami P5

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Japa Group: Japa Seminar Chandramauli Swami P4

Chandramauli Swami talk more about the mind and how to ignore it when chanting Japa.

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Rupa Madhurya das, TX, USA: Dance - Bus Tour - Hindolam Thillana - 2/3

A Bharatnatyam Dance performed by a girl traveling with the Bus Tour.  She trained at Bhakti Kalalayam Dance Academy (http://www.bhaktidance.com/).

Dallas, TX

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Akrura das, Gita Coaching: WHY WE DON'T REMEMBER?

Woman: How someone who has entered a new body and a new life doesn't remember anything of the past? If, for example, I suffer today because of what I did in the past, any form of retribution or suffering should be for me a total consciousness.

Prabhupada: Yes. Do you remember from your birth up to date, everything?

Woman: No.

Prabhupada: Then why do you forget in this life? Things which have happened in this life, in your childhood, so many things happened, but do you remember all of them? So that, does it mean that you did not do so?

Woman: No.

Prabhupada: Therefore, you remember or not remember, it doesn't matter.

Prabhupada: That is your nature: you forget. So you do not remember even the incidences of this life. How you can remember the incidents of your past life? Because you are forgetful. You are so imperfect that you forget after two hours everything. That is your nature. That does not mean that you had, you did not do anything. And, besides that, suppose your guardian remembers, "My dear child, when you were a small baby, you did it." But you don't remember. Similarly Krsna is there. Isvarah sarva-bhutanam hrd-dese arjuna tisthati [Bg. 18.61]. Anumanta upadrasta. He knows everything. You may forget. But Krsna knows. "You wanted this thing. All right. Take it. You worked for this. Now I give you the opportunity. You take this. You wanted to eat everything and anything, without any discrimination. All right. Now you become a hog." That is Krsna's favor. "And if you wanted Me..."

yanti deva-vrata devan
pitrn yanti pitr-vratah
bhutejya yanti bhutani
mad-yajino 'pi yanti mam
[Bg. 9.25]

"You wanted Me. You sacrificed everything for Me. Please come on." Tyaktva deham punar janma naiti mam eti kaunteya [Bg. 4.9]. So as you work, therefore this life is the preparation stage for your next life -- either you choose a better life, or a sinful life, or unimportant life. Just like if you get good education, that will make your future life nice. But if you don't go to school, how you can get a better life? Similarly karma... Karmana daiva netrena [SB 3.31.1]. According to your karma. If you have earned, worked very hard for a nice place, you'll get it.

Woman: So there's no end to the samsaras...

Prabhupada: Oh, yes. You are very intelligent. In this way, we are creating our karmas. And getting one, one kind of body to another, another, another. Therefore if we want to get out of this cycle of birth and death, then we must surrender to Krsna. Then the facility will be that after giving up this body, tyaktva deham punar janma naiti, no more birth in this material world. That is Krsna consciousness, the best service to the humanity, to stop this repetition of birth and death and go to home, back to home, back to Godhead. This is the special benediction of Krsna consciousness.

Woman: So, it is a shortcut to eternal life?

Prabhupada: Yes. This is the shortcut. Just if you become Krsna conscious fully, if you are trained up, just after death, you go to Krsna. That's all. Immediately.

- Srila Prabhupada, The Nectar of Devotion Lecture - Bombay, January 4, 1973

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Akrura das, Gita Coaching: PERSONAL COACHING

With coaching, we can help people:

- Develop a Personal Mission Statement and define what they want to BE, DO and HAVE in life
- Find their true self and connect with it
- Find their way, purpose, voice or dharma
- Connect with the Supersoul within the heart, listen to Him and take His guidance

Coaching requests you to answer these two questions:

If not you, who?
If not now, when?

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Australian News: Gauravani and as kindred spirits night of kirtan: Gold Coast

Please come and experience the genius of gauravani, jahnavi harrison and shree shyam and their blissful kirtan free vegetarian dinner provided

Time 02 February · 18:00 – 21:30
Location surfers paradise hare krishna bhakti center

Check it out on Facebook here http://www.facebook.com/?ref=home#!/event.php?eid=124746810929283

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Dandavats.com: International Vaisnavi Retreat

Prasanta dd: Fostering a spirit of love and care between devotees is on the agenda for the up-coming International Vaisnavi Retreat. This special event is aimed at generating peer support between female devotees dedicated to Srila Prabhupada’s mission. It has sprung from an initiative of the now three-year old GBC Devotee Care Committee and is being organized by the Vrindavana Institute for Higher Education

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Dandavats.com: Ambulance Needed

Bhakti Purusottama Swami: Now that work on the Temple of Vedic Planetarium has begun in Mayapur, more and more devotees are moving in to join ISKCON Mayapur's Vaishnava community. We now have around 2,000 resident devotees (400 brahmacharies, 700 international grihastha devotees from 59 countries,around 900 local grihastha devotees)

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H.H. Sivarama Swami: The new Krsna Avanti school in Leicester and Coventry evening program

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Dandavats.com: Admissions open at a vedic old age home

Sarvajna Krishna dasa: Admissions are open for devotees who are 50+ who wish to stay long time or short stay at our facility in Melkote. Accomodation and Prasadam is free for all devotees who are unable to pay/Devotees who can pay can give a donation for they stay

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Dandavats.com: 2011 Holy Name Weekend - Bhaktivedanta Manor - Sivarama Swami & Madhava Das

Bh. Tibor: Saturday 15th January 2011 Sunday 16th January 2011 " Join together in celebration, and immerse yourself in transcendental sound vibration."

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Dandavats.com: Murari Sevaka Leadership Change

Tamohara das: I would like the devotees to know of some recent changes at Murari Sevaka dhama. We are very happy to announce that Gadi Prabhu has agreed to become the Temple President for Murari Sevaka

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Dandavats.com: Female Assistant Wanted

Malati Devi Dasi: This is not a "personal servant" type of role. It involves responsibilities related to preaching & festival organizing, traveling, devotee care, guest services, etc.

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Dandavats.com: Invitation for Sri Sri Lord Jagannath Rath Yatra in Gurgaon

Achyutahari Das: Due to blessings of vaishnavas devotees of ISKCON at Gurgaon are organizing 11th Annual Sri Sri Lord Jagannath Rathyatra Festival in Gurgaon on 29th Januaray 2011

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Australian News: The Video Part Two: Sydney Australia Ignites 40 Hour Kirtan

Part two – For you

Click and dance

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Dandavats.com: Job opening at Bhaktivedanta Academy

Visvambhara das: Interested applicants should download the employment application and may either scan and email the completed application along with current resume to office@bhaktivedantaacademy.org, fax to 386-462-2886, or mail to P.O. Box 937, Alachua, FL 32616.

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H.H. Satsvarupa das Goswami: 201

www.sdgonline.org. SDGonline Daily updates

10:55 A.M.

Haridasa told me someone has printed almost a hundred pictures of Prabhupada and his devotees from 1967 in San Francisco on various pages of Facebook. I have not been able to hook onto it yet but I am looking forward to it. Haridasa described to me the era and the devotees themselves, Gurudasa, Yamuna, Syamasundara, Malati etc etc etc and how amazing it is to think that there were only a few devotees at that time and it’s now such a huge institution. There were only a handful in San Francisco and a small batch waiting to see Swamiji back in New York City. How quickly we developed a love for him although our manners were unpolished. How quickly we took up service and grasped the essentials due to his expertise in drawing us to him and giving us the teachings of Krishna and His Bhagavad-gita. He said there’s a picture of Mukunda dressed from head to toe in psychedelic robes. Pictures of Prabhupada walking on the beach in the morning with the devotees. I’m looking forward to seeing these images and feeling the emotions of those early days.

When we woke up this morning the house was frigid. There was no heat in the heater and it was below zero outside. It wasn’t until ten o’clock that we were able to get someone to come out and put fuel in our tank. Most of us bundled up in our coats and sleeping bags and slept and waited.

The Krsna book tells a ludicrous story of an imitation Krishna, king Pundraka. While Balarama was away in Vrndavana a certain king came to Dvaraka and announced himself to be the Supreme Personality of Godhead. He sent a messenger to Krishna with a written note. It said I am Pundraka the Supreme Personality of Godhead and I have descended on the earth to give mercy to all persons. If you do not accept me as the Supreme Lord I will fight with you and kill you. When Krishna read this message in the company of His men they all laughed loudly but Krishna took it seriously and immediately armed His troops and went to the palace of king Pundraka. There He met him for the first time. King Pundraka was dressed as an imitation Krishna. He wore a false necklace like Krishna’s, peacock feather, yellow garments and a beautiful helmet. Krishna called out to him and called him a rascal for his imitation. Prabhupada remarks that nowadays there are still imitations of Krishna and how even in Krishna’s day such farces existed. People want to be worshipped as God and they take up some cheap imitation, committing some miracles or displays of yoga and claim to be God. Krishna and Pundraka began to exchange weapons but Krishna did not take long in finishing off Pundraka. He shot him and his men with bows and arrows and finally with His Sudarsana cakra He separated his head from his neck. Pundraka few followers fled from the scene ending his “reign”.

I have just contacted a headache as I usually do every day. I have taken pills and I am resting back in my chair waiting for the medicine to kick in. I don’t expect my headaches will go away for the rest of my life. But in resent years I have been able to control them with over the counter medicine which is a great relief from past decades when I had uncontrollable migraines.

I’ve been trying to do writing exercises but I have difficulty finding something to write about. I can’t surrender to thought into a “subject”. Natalie Goldberg’s book Writing Down the Bones was very helpful to me about twenty years ago and gave me permission to write on what came to my mind. This system still works but I seem to feel less energy for doing it. Goldberg and a whole group of writing teachers, teach similarly: write with love, accept your present moment and write, write, write. Here is one of the many nice paragraphs from her book:

“Recently I was in New Orleans and went to visit a cemetery where the graves are above ground because of the water level. I brought my notebook, sat on the cement leaning against the shade of a tombstone in the thick heat of Louisiana and wrote. An hour had passed when I looked up again. I thought to myself “This is perfect.” It wasn’t the physical accommodations that were perfect but when we are in the heart of writing it doesn’t matter where we are: it is perfect. There is a great sense of autonomy and security to know we can write any place. If you want to write, finally you’ll find a way no matter what.” (pg. 102 Writing Down the Bones)

I wrote a series of books, journal style, about seventy volumes that I called Every Day, Just Write. They had peaks and valleys. I wrote them while I was living in Ireland. I wrote at least an hour a day in the book, sometimes more. I often wrote about what I was reading in Srimad-Bhagavatam. I wrote about the flora and fauna of the neighborhood. I wrote, chasing myself, chasing my tail, “Chasin’ the train”. They were nice books and I’d like to read them again. I like others to read them again. I’m a writer like Thoreau, like Henry Miller. I write amorphous books although I have written some orderly, scholarly books and religious chapters of Krishna consciousness. There should always be a path leading to bhakti but I want it to come out of my spontaneous voice. So let me declare a new attempt at free writing. You don’t have to be afraid that something is not on the exact chapter of Bhagavad-gita or Srimad-Bhagavatam. I’ve been working on these paraphrases on the Krsna book. They are nice. But I want to be able to write freely and not just copy down what’s in the chapters of the Krsna book and in the order that it comes in the book’s chapters. You can write again about Krishna entering the mouth of Aghasura and the boys were unconscious but Krishna expanded Himself, burnt a whole through the serpent’s head and they boys became conscious and ran out of Agha’s mouth. Then they saw Agha’s spirit soul hovering in the sky. It joined with Krishna’s body, his liberation. He was liberated because Krishna blessed him by walking with His lotus feet in the demon’s body. It’s all right to tell the story again and again. Krishna’s friends are delightful and fearless and loving.

So you are a writer and Goldberg says “Naturally our great fear is usually the one most important to overcome to reach our life stream.” I think a fear of mine in writing is writing block. I know I have to die and I know my time is coming fairly soon, but I needn’t be so afraid of that. I’ve still got some time. I’m afraid I’ll lose my verve for writing. These journal entries should be alive and filled with details of my life.

Here’s another useful paragraph from Goldberg:

“What does it want to resist. Work and concentration. There was a period last fall when every time I began to write I went into a perfect blank euphoria where I stared out the window and felt the love for oneness with everything. I sat in this state sometimes for the whole time I had planned to write. I thought to myself, “Lo and behold I am becoming enlightened. This is much more important than writing and besides this is where all writing leads.” After this had gone on for a while I asked Katagira Roshi about it. He said, “Oh, it’s just laziness. Get to work.” (pg. 92 Writing Down the Bones)

It’s just laziness, get to work. I can write about the birds on the ground under the bird feeder. It is very cold now and the seeds are helpful to them. Bhakti-rasa is making lunch today. He’s not as good a cook as Baladeva but B had to go to the doctor. Accept what he cooks and take it in a small portion. Accept it as an offering of love, love to Gaura-Nitai and love to me. You can always think of something to say, even when it’s getting late and close to time to lunch. You can write more in the afternoon.

Questions and answers. Why am I having writing blocks? Because my room has too much furniture. Because I am afraid to tell the truth; I’ve been burnt for uncensored writing. I am trouble with writing blocks because there’s a big chunk of snow outside the door and I find it too heavy to move. I am lazy. Where does writing talent come from? It comes from the DNA of the ancestors. It comes from the chipmunk running on the wheel; It comes from your heart and you just have to write it out. Talent comes from everything. If you’re too crippled to tap dance, walk in your head. Where does certainty in Krishna come from? It comes from Absolute certainty in guru, sastra and sadhu. Where do the questions come from? From the inner inquirer, from the plain candid question.

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Bhakti Lata, Alachua, USA: River of Prayer

I sit in the corridor of a thousand pillars in the Ramanatha temple in Rameshvaram. I overlook a great pond which is filled with delicate pink lotuses. A cement platform extends out over the pond, and high up on the ledge, men toss down metal buckets into the water over and over again, reeling them up expertly. The men splash that holy water onto the heads of swarms of eager pilgrims who flow out onto the platform.

This is only one stop in the maze of 22 holy wells within the temple complex.

I feel like one of the columns here, watching and watching, very, very still. I have begun to see the moods of the variety of pilgrims who come - most people are rushed and a little frantic in their quest to visit all 22 holy wells; some arrive with creased eyebrows, some demand more water.

But every so often a group of Vaishnava devotees will come. They smile from ear to ear and chant Hare Krishna, sometimes with arms upraised or palms folded. Ha! A crowd of devotees just arrived, grinning and jumping, chanting "Haribol! Haribol! Haribol!" They are so happy, so in bliss! They receive the water on their heads and dash off with the cry, “JAI!!!"

Every day, day in and day out, people come to receive the holy water. The people change, but the lake remains, the columns remain. Upon closer inspection, I see that the columns are pockmarked with graffiti. I see names, numbers, dates... actually, the pillar in front of me has a faded heart with two names inside scrawled in Telugu.

Amazing. No matter the country or language or culture, people will graffiti monuments, buildings, trees, or even bathroom stalls and picnic tables. People want to leave a mark that will live on long after they're gone.

Isn't that the nature of the soul, to be eternal? It is so painful to die. We all want to live on forever.

But the truth is, we are all like someone in this river of pilgrims who come to receive their splash of water. Our time in this world is just for one fleeting minute. And some of us arrive with arms upraised or palms folded, smiling, chanting the Lord's name… and maybe that's all I can ask of this life.

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Bhakti Lata, Alachua, USA: Radha Madan Mohan, January 23rd

This morning when I dressed Radha Madan Mohan, I listened to a lecture by Srila Prabhupad from Seattle, 1968. In a rare, stunning moment, Prabhupad's voice breaks and he cries.

I was making Madan Mohan's turban, but my hands froze - everything froze - and I just listened. Prabhupad said that when he took sannyas, the renounced order of life, he left his three children... but he gained three hundred children.

Chills raced down my arms. I remembered a recent Newsweek article that had acknowledged Bhaktivedanta Swami for his work to establish the Hare Krishna movement. The article had given an estimate to the number of "Hare Krishna" devotees in the world today.

"Srila Prabhupad," I murmured, "you have now gained a million children." 
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Gouranga TV: Entering Into the Mystery of The Holy Name With Enthusiasm-Trivikrama Swami

Entering Into the Mystery of The Holy Name With Enthusiasm-Trivikrama Swami

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ISKCON Melbourne, AU: Daily Class - Srutakirti Prabhu

Srimad Bhagavatam 11.29.30 - The spiritual master is as good as God, being His pure representative.

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