Thursday, 19 July 2018

Monday, July 16th, 2018

Huntsville, Ontario

Huntsville Again

I hadn’t been to this cute cottage-country town since 1996 when I ventured out on the first Trans-Canada marathon walk.  Well, today I was here for a different purpose.  The local Lion’s Club became our venue for Muskoka’s first-ever Festival of India.  Our group called “Vedic Mace” performed for an appreciative audience.  Because of some mishap with a twelve-seater rental van, half of our crew couldn’t be present until the last minute.

That meant making appropriate adjustments.  With some divine creativity and innovation, we pulled something off which was very much engaging, especially for the younger kids. I was able to employ charades and introduce simple dance steps to the crowd.  Everyone got up onto  their feet.

It was all good, including the food.

Whew!  The day was a sticky one.  After the show, I had the opportunity for a short jaunt to the newly-opened “Marigold Unique Flavors” restaurant of Indian cuisine on Main Street.  The owner asked me to come and bless the new facility, which was formerly a bank.  Nice job done on the d├ęcor, I must say.

Locals saw me as a curious sight, not something you see in the Muskokas, as I walked beneath  the shafts of light radiating down from the street lamps.  At the Roadway Inn, clients were sipping beer and looking on, out onto Main, hoping for something to happen.

Well, nothing major happened, really, except for some monk passing by who might have spurred  on some spiritual interest.

May the Source be with you!
2 km

Sunday, July 15th, 2018

Toronto, Ontario

At the Island (Centre Island)

Bhakti Prabhava Swami is one of those true-blue monks—honest, well-read, simple—who hails from Belgium, and came to the city for the Chariot Fest.

This morning was our second day to stroll about with a small band of devotees as we executed our japameditation.

Dominique from Detroit was also with us.  I had a question for him, “What was the contribution that Dominic, who was a saint, gave to the world?”    

“The rosary,” said the Detroit young man, “and he started his own order of monastics.”

“Okay, so he was so immersed in God as sound and he had a following?”

“Yes,” said Dominique in a very reserved type of tone.

Our talk took place over the preparation of some new initiates going through diksha.  Yuluja is now Yashoda Priya, Pankaj is now Pushta Krishna, Taruna is now Tejasvi, Sunny became Srivatsa, and Shalini is nowShriya.  Two persons, Subhal and Rasaraj, took their second initiations.

The ambiance created by sacred and clean mrdunga beats was unparalleled.  I thank Rajasuya and Dharma for the ceremony.

A swim in Lake Ontario was so deserving.  It’s been a hot mid-thirties day.  The World Cup was won and having the game on at the same time as our Chariot Fest could have posed competition, but that didn’t happen this time around.

Our invited kirtanleader, Madhava, roused the crowds at the end; all were up and dancing.

May the Source be with you!
8 km

Saturday, July 14th, 2018

Toronto, Ontario


People visiting us for the Ratha Yatra Fest have some wish to travel and see the neighbourhood, simply by going on a japawalk with me.  So, for those out-of-towners, I will take them through the winding residential streets of Rosedale.  However, what everyone will really get to know about Toronto, on this special day, is the southern-most stretch of Yonge Street, because that is the route of Jagannatha, the universal superhero.

CBC came with cameras to interview a number of us who are the organizers.  They stayed with us for the whole procession.

“It’s a 5,000 year old event involving Krishna, and His Brother and Sister, enjoying a chariot ride.”

“How many people will be attending?” asked the CBC rep.

Rukmini gave the total of about 1,000, for starters, and then explained that it builds up. It’s true.  From the reference library at Yonge and Asquith, where the procession of chariots begins, that is so.  By the time we reached the overpass at the tunnel near the lake, it was a good attendance, and the numbers just blossomed into the thousands.

My usual parrot friend from King City came over to rest on my shoulder.  Sunil, the pet owner, brings him to witness Jagannath on His chariot.  Both Krishna, in the form of Jagannath,and the Amazon parrot are vivid in colour.  People who are unaware of the traditional festival are just surprised—in a good way, of course.

May the Source be with you!
9 km

Friday, July 13th, 2018

Scarborough, Ontario


Today was special.  Some international kirtanchanters came to Toronto to converge for a 12 hour marathon of mantras.  The venue at 243 Avenue Road was decorated like the Milky Way.  It was awesome.  As per usual, during these events, when in Toronto, I have the privilege to start the chanting immediately after Sanskritist Dravida utters invocational mantras.

The main occupation for me today, however, was to stage “The Shakti Show” with a group of performing artists called Vedic Mace.  Our audience has roots in Bangladesh and we performed kirtan, a magic show, a satire on yoga, and classical Odissi dance.  It was much loved by the audience.  Held in Scarborough in their community hall, we opened up the program with food.  Yes, it was Friday night.  People came directly from work.  The show was to start at 7:30 p.m.  Not everyone turned up right then, naturally.  The management decided, with some input from my side, to serve the nice veg preps and kichari early, instead of at the end—10:30 p.m.  Can you imagine eating that late?

Five hundred plus folks came to see and hear of the Krishna culture in action. It is what our guru, Srila Prabhupada, encouraged us to do—present culturally.  He implied that the world would be won by this approach.  There is so much to share philosophically, and morally, in story format.

May the Source be with you!
4 km

Tuesday, 17 July 2018

Thursday, July 12th, 2018

Toronto, Ontario

A Reprint

I was running out of mantra cards, or, rather, what some call business cards. “Can monks have business cards?” someone asked me once in a humorous way.

“Why not?” I challenged.  “The card is promoting walking—better than that, pilgrimage,” I explained.  I have an image of myself walking a trail in Mauritius where bats are ravaging the mango trees.  The image on the card doesn’t show any bat attacks.  It’s just something I remembered about the trail when I was walking at Bon Accueil.

I had to go for a reprint of the image with the maha mantraon the reverse side.  To get to the printers it is 1.0 kilometres, exactly, from the ashramwhere I live.  So what do you suppose a walking monk will do with such a distance?  Yes, walk it, there and back.

Unfortunately, I cannot boast any more measured mileage today.  It came to exactly two kilometres.  I rather invested more time into mopping the halls in the temple ashram.  It’s a different motion than a walk—more of a dance actually.

I mopped because it was needed.  Traffic is thick these days.  Foot traffic. People are coming from the far reaches of North America in preparation for the Chariot Fest in Toronto, perhaps the continent’s largest.

The Chariot Fest, traditionally known as Ratha Yatra, is now a fifty-one year custom since beginning in San Francisco, but enjoys a much older history dating back 5,000 years.  It also involves a ‘walk’ but not to the printers, perhaps a ‘cleaners’.

The act of walking along with the Chariot of Krishna is supposed to do some purging—a lifting of karma.

May the Source be with you!
2 km

Saturday, 14 July 2018

Wednesday, July 11th, 2018

Russell, Ontario

At the Heart of Renunciation

From the book Spirit Matters, a compilation of articles written by Mukunda Goswami.  

Here’s one, an excerpt from, “Love Lies at the Heart of Renunciation,” about two monks:

“One summer I was stuck for an hour on a train at a station between Vishakhapatnam and Kolkata.  With little to do besides gaze out my window I saw two bearded holy men facing each other, each sitting on a torn gumchaand dressed only in a loincloth.  They were engaged in a hearty exchange, but I couldn’t hear a word. They looked so happy and content that I grew a little envious.

Each carried over his shoulder a stick with a cloth bound to it.  Facing one another, they soon opened their cloths, ate some dried chapattis, and then tied their cloths back up.  They smiled broadly, shook hands, and then each walked his separate way.

Now, that’s real happiness, I thought, and real renunciation.  But what about the rest of us?  Who’s prepared, let alone able, to live the life of a mendicant, no matter how happy it may appear?

Well, I’ve read there are two kinds of renouncers, those who detest and avoid the material world and those who live within it but are quite detached from it. Those men I watched certainly looked like the real thing.

But I know that great philanthropists and many great spiritual leaders often live in the world with apparently affluent lifestyles.  Yet they are renounced… Maybe the sadhus on that train platform weren’t the real thing after all.

Renunciation dwells in the heart, and if there is a greater loving dimension elsewhere, I’ll spend my life searching for it.”

May the Source be with you!
3 km

Tuesday, July 10th, 2018

Russell, Ontario

The Swami

The following is a poem I wrote today and then read to a crowd at our mini Festival of India last night.

MY DEAR FRIENDS      © BMSJuly 10, 2018

There was a wise old swami from India
Who very much wanted to be in America
He was warned that he was too old
On top of that—America is too cold
But he was determined to go
To the land of milk, honey and snow
With a firm grip on his cane
He took to a ship’s ramp and lane
And sailed across the great sea
With a plan in mind, you’ll see
But a storm made the waves so high
The kind that could cause you to die
The swami was dizzy; problems with the heart
His whole dream looked as if to fall apart
But then the ocean became most calm
The swami could now chant the name Ram
The ship docked at the city of fashion
Which never sleeps in its mode of passion
The swami came to the west with a gift
He was a visitor on a very different shift
Some people were giving him the looks
When he landed with a trunk full of books
India was a place that gave silks, spices, tea
No one knew anything about bhakti
The swami said we all have it within
It goes deeper beyond our very skin
It was lost but it can be found
A treasure not on the surface of the ground
The swami then had many a student
They learned to be sensitive and prudent
The swami then left the world behind
Hoping for a world that would be more kind.

May the Source be with you!
4 km

Monday, July 9th, 2018

Toronto, Ontario

Good One

Today was a good one.  Brian Carevana brought his group of just under fifty people over to our temple. The members of the multi-religious group came from mostly the local area, but also included some from Vancouver, Boston, Virginia, plus Lincoln (Nebraska), and I may have missed one or two.  They were a mix of a mature group, with some of a younger batch, but all graduates in religious studies.

They came to see, listen and then feast.  Questions were philosophical, yet most were more introductory.

Q: “Why the saffron colour?”

A: This is reserved for monks, celibate students and teachers.”

Q: “What do you mean by family planning in addition to no meat, alcohol or gambling?”

A: “The most strict have ‘union’ for children.  It’s individual, though, and in general, members have varying degrees of commitment.  On the highway, people drive at different speeds.  The ones who benefit the most are the ones who obey the signage.”

The meal was a highlight and I applaud our group for a smooth operation of cooking and serving.  Chanting was also on the menu.  We also garlanded Brian with fresh flowers.  I think he was blown away.

After a day of cleaning before the group came, and the presentation, Karuna and I took to the ravine for a p.m. stroll.  At one point we sat at a pond to reflect on the good day, and how it was.  But our contemplation of the Thai boys stuck in a flooded cave—OMG!

May the Source be with them!
8 km

Sunday, July 8th, 2018

Montreal, Quebec

The Wolf, The People

“I think they need to reintroduce the wolf,” said Dave, as we both ambled along on Yonge toward Bloor.  The topic was about wildlife and what I see on my walks in the countryside.

Dave said he’s from Essex County, from Windsor, and every so often they have a cull of the deer who have over-run Pelee Island and the southwest part of the province of Ontario.

“Coyotes don’t take down deer.  Wolves do,” was his conviction.  I agreed with Dave, who’s a bartender; nice guy actually.

We can’t keep destroying nature’s ways,I thought, but we’re very good at that.

Dave and I parted.  My route was back to the ashram.  As I sauntered back, I contemplated the good day in Montreal, and also on addressing some challenges people have at a personal level.  I offered some counselling, as a service, promoting the themes of: don’t give up, be a warrior, communicate and look at the needs of each other in a relationship.

I had the pleasure of making new friends at the site of the Ratha Fest.  Best of all, I gave the first grains to the toddler of Pradyumna and Tina.  What a cooperative little fellow he is!

On our return journey down the 401 Highway, we veered over at the Thousand Islands, to the new owners of The Gananoque Inn.  Mukesh and Ashvina Patel run this historic facility, with its two restaurants, fifty-three rooms, and conference room.  The Patel clan is working on securing many hotels throughout the country, which would make it more accommodating for travelling Krishna monks like ourselves, since traditionally the Patels don’t eat or prepare cow, pig, chicken or deer.

May the Source be with you!
4 km

Saturday, July 7th, 2018

Montreal, Quebec


These days, Montreal puts on a good show of the Festival of India.  It starts off with a procession, very religious in spirit and also exotic to some, hip even.  To others, I imagine it may come off as appearing a bit strange.

The image of Jagannath—translated as ‘Lord of the Universe’—is mystical and captivating. The beat of the drums is what stirs up excitement.  The procession draws the very faithful.  At Jeanne Mance Park, we have a good crowd—second year in a row—of people culturally oriented to Eastern ways.  “The food is great,” said Ajamila, a popular Bengali singer.

The administration rented a large marquis to house hundreds in shade and provide protection from rain, should it come.  The key to good attendance is largely due to effective marketing. Nrsimha Chaitanya, a Russian-born devotee of Krishna, has got it down.  “I'm happy with this first of a two-day event,” he said.

I mingled with a few from the crowd.  The stage items were attractive.  Professional and devotional performers brought the stage to life.

I came up from Toronto with the group “Vedic More” to present Indian classical-style sound along with a bass guitar to add some spice.

The only major complaint I would have with the festival is a failure to provide a station for hand cleaning after using the portapotty.

I should not forget to let all know that we also presented a ten-minute skit of slap-stick called, “First Timers,” as a satire of yogamembership and routine.  Of course yogahails from India and that was our link to Indian exhibition today.

May the Source be with you!
4 km

Monday, 9 July 2018

Friday, July 6th, 2018

Toronto, Ontario

The Good News

The good news received this morning is that the government of India is putting some loving pressure on the famous temple of Jagannath in India, to make it open for all pilgrims to attend.  This would be a milestone, since the current policy has held onto a traditional ‘caste consciousness’ for centuries.  Opening up the doors so all could benefit would be quite the accomplishment. Relaxing the rigid approach may say something about witnessing some good omens within a dark age—Kali Yuga.

I was happy to see Sasvata, a godbrother who operates the “House of Healing” in Caledon. It’s been years. Today was also a great day for seeing the arrival of a Florida couple who are set to conduct some magic shows on the upcoming tour we are part of.  From Montreal to Alberta, I’ll be with a travelling road show beginning this weekend.

Also, admirers of drama can now check out www.thewalkingmonk.netand click theatre.  There you can view the new entry “Many Mothers, Many Fathers,” detailing the life of Chitraketu, a story from the book, Bhagavatam.  It was filmed in Mayapura, India, and we are quite proud of the piece.  Please enjoy.

In addition to all the good stuff mentioned above, I was able to boast today to some of the patrons at Govinda’s—our restaurant, in our complex—that we have a private washroom for them on the main floor of the building.  Done with first class material and wheel-chair equipped, it is a convenient facility.  It’s a little awkward to say but, “Come check it out!”

May the Source be with you!
5 km

Thursday, July 5th, 2018

Toronto, Ontario

Rains Came

The rains came and hard they came
Walkers were compelled to do the same
For any shelter that might keep them dry
Umbrellas were propped and kept up high
And after the shower the coast was clear
There was little to fret and not to fear
The chocolate cream was smudged for days
On the sidewalk where Sun used his rays
The rain did its job and made it go
At a rapid pace, no cream to show
I walked up Yonge where pretentious fun
Just about captures everyone
Then Bloor where you can’t afford anything
You go there and might just want to sing
I did my song of mantra maha
It’s auspicious like when you say “svaha
I walked by Varsity to recall that once
John & Yoko were there, twas years and months
The rain purges bringing out the smells
Of fragrances from heavens, away from hells
I was in elation, and there were more
People who also got to score
Score we’ll do, we get old and die
But I won’t die, no need to cry.

May the Source be with you!
4 km