Saturday, 28 February 2009

Wednesday, February 25th, 2009

Toronto, Ontario


Under normal circumstances I would be in Mayapura, India, at this time assisting Pragosh, host of my evenings of devotional presentations. I would be a director of plays to a receptive audience under a pandal where pilgrims come from all over the world, soaking-in the moon and sun-like rays of two kindly souls, Nityananda and Chaitanya. The process of indiscriminant delivery of mantra power to the world started with these two saintly personalities of West Bengal.

Mayapura is Chaitanya's birthplace and his companion, Nityananda, eleven years his senior, is also from Bengal.

When Europe was undergoing a Renaissance of sorts, India had its own version - a spiritual revivalism with Chaitanya as one of the great luminaries of the time.

This year I'm grounded but it's a small victory day. I got discharged of the I.V. unit and can now taste a small dose of liberation. I managed to trek for 3 kilometres - another victory.

My mind gravitates to India, however. The show (play) must go-on without me and I know that I have the understudies, proteges to see that this year's drama, "Vamana". The story of the walking avatar, will be a success in my very absence because of the sincerity behind the project.

That word sincerity is a striking word which alters the quality of my performance, off-stage or on. It is sincerity behind anything that is the heart's extension.

3 Km

Tuesday, February 24th, 2009

Toronto, Ontario


It was a little above freezing at 3 pm. The sun shone beckoning me, so how could I resist? I forced myself to walk and covered a whopping kilometre. A great triumph, I would say, once again.

What really lifted me out of bed was the zealousness of one of the monks, Gaurachandra, who was telling me about the outstanding response from people whom he approaches about Bhaktivedanta Book Trust. This is not the first time that this rather quiet and reserved monk would burst in and express his utter joy.

"Business is not that great," he says, "but people are looking for some shelter in these hard times."

"This is a trend," I thought. Just after the occurrence of 9/11 divorce rates dropped and people were taking refuge in churches. Soon thereafter people slipped into the regular mode and so the teeter-totter of mundane life continues. It can be said that September 11th was a mini time-bomb. The current financial turn-around could drag on for some time before things get better.

It's times like this that compells people towards introspection, except for the weak-hearted. I pray for those who cannot adjust easily and give-in to self-indulgence so abruptly in hard times.

Truly if we could see opportunity in every adversity then the opportunity encourages us to turn to God.

Tuesday, 24 February 2009

Monday, February 23rd, 2009

Toronto, Ontario

My Nice Nurse

Lorna is my daily nurse. She does the house calls. She comes to see me daily to change my I.V. bag, adjusts its needle and changes the batteries for the device. She also takes my blood pressure. After checking she said, "You're as fit as a teenager." When poking into a vein she noted the blood runs profusely and was having a hard time catching its trail as it took her by surprise.
"It's for pilgrimage sake - meeting people, encouraging each other and growing internally." I said,
"Is it like that Santiago walk in Spain where people go, they walk and come back a different person?" asked Lorna.
"Yes," I said, "the same idea. These long pilgrimages impact your life to the point of transformation."
With job done today, Lorna left the building, the temple where I stay, carrying a colourful garland of fresh flowers from the deity of Krishna. Each day Lorna leaves the temple with her curiosity satisfied in a small new dose. She rather likes the vibes of the temple . When she pulls off the adhesive tape that fixates the intravenous tube to the arm she expects a scream of agony. Not once has she heard the four letter swear word like from many of her patients. I mentioned to her, "I'm a monk. Here we learn to control our tongue." She was relieved.

Monday, 23 February 2009

Sunday, February 22nd, 2009

Toronto, Ontario

Through the foot healing process I have been employing many methods (all doctor approved, of course). The latest has been sporting this air cast around the right leg. This leg device as it stands on its own looks like lofty foot gear from a Star Wars feature. Our community at the Sunday festival saw the latest in monk's fashion as I entered the temple's main hall. A few eyebrows were raised. The final prescription for the day to address the ongoing foot inflammation was to have someone gather clean snow, submerge the foot in it, dry off the foot, and repeat. So I did (I don't know how Francis of Assissi walked those snow trails in total oblivion).

On the more sober note our sizeable gathering of four hundred people heard the glories of one of the topmost ascetics of all times, Shiva, as it was his birth anniversary. Indradyumna Swami spoke extolling his glories, Near the tail end of the program I offered dedication to the recent innocent people who died in the cross-fire of Singalese and Tamil warfare in Sri Lanka. Civil war has persisted there for years. Now the struggle has intensified.

There are at least 250,000 Tamil people living in the Toronto area, most of them from Sri Lanka. A percentage of them have shown great interest in Krishna devotionalism in recent years. For them we grieve as well as for the lost and killed victims of Sri Lanka, whether Tamil or Singalese. These identities relate to the temporary body. If we can grasp the wisdom about our own essence, that we are spirits, then we would look to moving into the direction of compromise and negotiations, and dissolve another senseless war.

The comomunity co-operatively chanted the maha-mantra in the name of peace - all in unison. It was very powerful.

Saturday, February 21st, 2009

Toronto, Ontario

Indradyumna Swami and I sat in front of a group of local youths from the community in what we call the yellow room. As the guest of honour he spoke.

“My parents were both graduates of Stanford University. They were brilliant.” He went on to say that he didn’t follow their same studious past and so they asked him while he was in his youth, “What are you going to do with yourself?” He wasn’t able to give a clear answer and then he met some Krishna monks who had a tremendous impact. He discovered chanting and that was it. Life turned around.

In the room of the glowing youth many of the listeners held in their right hand a pouch or what’s called a bead bag which holds the individual’s meditational beads. Indradyumna, who is a very revered monk known for his organizing of grandiose spiritual festivals, noted that most of the listeners were daily chanters. Then he put a good word in for commitment and shooting for the golden figure of sixteen.

“Sixteen” refers to sixteen revolutions of 108 beads chanted. Each strand of beads numbers 108 of those beads. It was the expressed desire of our guru, Srila Prabhupada, to chant this prescribed amount of mantras daily. So the number “16” is etched in stone and Indradyumna was encouraging all present to shoot for that target which is a strong commitment of two hours daily.

After the fine session of emphasizing chanting I showed Indradyumna a new publication I picked up on my last trip to the States. The newspaper with one of those “zine” formats is called “Sixteen Rounds” and can be found on the internet at Articles of content are topical and attractive and are geared towards the well-being of all living entities, promoting spiritualiy and exposing the faults of materialism. The youth will love it. It’s a gem of a publication.

That’s 16 ROUNDS!

Friday, February 20th, 2009

Toronto, Ontario

Sex Shock

My dear friends, Indradyumna Swami and companion Sri Prahalad, arrived today. We lunched together and chatted over a grainless (ekadasi) vegetarian meal. Swami and I are both monastic men while Sri Prahalad is married. One topic that did hold our minds in some suspension was the subject of the world’s out-of-control sex and in particular teenage pregnancies. Becoming more common is the casualness of very young people, who are not adults, taking to irresponsible intercourse.

I don’t believe you have to be religious to be shocked at hearing that a young UK boy at 13 is a dad and the 15 year old mother of the newborn could not confirm. She admitted that there were other possibilities as to who did the fathering. Now who is to blame for such a social ill? Perhaps we require a real hard look at what lurks around in our lives – a lot of irresponsible folks who offer no education by precept or by example. I believe that the sex revolution of the ‘60s did not turn out to be a healthy proposition and that in fact it has come to haunt us decades later. Astronomically the age in which we live is the age of Kali, a time of self-indulgence. In the case of the 13 year old dad, it is not just the sheer crassness of behaviour, but the lack of will on the part of all of us to correct what is becoming more and more rampant. Principles are not the number one priority. Ignoring foul play is an easy cop-out.

I have made a personal commitment to speak to people in my area of influence about principles that lead to freedom and that happiness is not so cheap. I can’t stop thinking about children bearing children and being unprepared for the tough world.

1 Km walked.

Thursday, February 19th, 2009

Toronto, Ontario

While I’m going through the healing process in mostly a horizontal position, hooked to intravenous, I had to become somewhat creative and innovative in the use of my space right next to me. Beside my bed, within arms reach, lying on the floor is my office space of approximately two square feet including phone, books and writing material. Next to that is my kitchen of fruit in a bag and juice in a bottle in a virtually smaller space. To the right of that is my entertainment centre of CD player and iPod. Neighboured by that is my pharmaceutical centre with crutches leaning over the antibiotic containers. It’s all there at my fingertips – all except for toilet and shower.

I’m honoured to be in my recovery in the same room where our guru slept 33 years ago. That’s truly sacred space, cause for recovery.

In crowded China, with its powerful workforce, some folks find it hard to have their own private space. A man who works a hard week is reported to come home to a metal cage where he sleeps and for that he must pay rent each month. How valuable that space must be for him!

As some of you know in addition to walking, theatre is another passion I have. When entering a building or room, I analyze the use of the space with sometimes an overly critical mind see the area as too crammed or too cavernous. I’m a fanatic about things being placed with a little “smartness”, like trying to see that a stage with actors are making a balanced use of space. When something is asymmetrical, my mind is agitated.

Recently in some of the tropical temples I visited, I saw the main entrance door reveal the back of a huge chair (vyasasana) and to its right, was a beautiful stambha, or pillar. Graced on top of it was perched an image of Garuda, Vishnu’s bird carrier. I expressed my agitation to the temple leader about how I perceived a wrong use of placement of things. The main entrance wasn’t inviting. The leader paid heed to a suggestion that the devotional bird be placed in a way that it’s the first impression to see, and a welcoming one.

To my amazement, Garuda, who with folding pranam hands, now stands in a centered position looking as if greeting one and all. I think it made a huge difference in the use of space. Personally, I am aching to get out of my small confined space in bed and see the world again - the big, big world of space.

Saturday, 21 February 2009

Tuesday, February 17th, 2009

Toronto, Ontario

People have been sending their sympathies via email. Thank you all! Bone scans show that infection has hit the bone of the large right toe. A previous serious toe stub incident was likely the cause. Now the catfish incident has enhanced the infection. So I'm laid up, in bed, taking intravenous for an additional week. My assistant monk, Devadatta, applied a poultice of olive oil, turmeric and neem. The toe responded well to the substance but swelling remains high. Such is the woe of my toe.

In the much bigger world, the public is on a roll to hitting a rock. Financial instability seems to remain clearly a reality. Some experts offer advice as to how to cope with what leads on many people to depression. One writer in the National Post suggested "Keep your car at home" as a way to save money. That advise resonated well with me. Stimulating more walking is a saving solution.

Chanakya Pandit, a keen advisor to Indian royalty centuries ago, advised to put out three things when they arise – fire, debt and disease. When these circumstances occur immediate attention must be given to them.

I truly feel for those people who are struggling as a result of weak financial policies. What had started in the U.S as a promising arrangements turned sour and as a result the global economy is now affected. The snow –balling of the U.S. to the world may force us to rethink our terms of subsistence. Our guru spoke of self-sufficiency over and over again that a culture based on land, animals, people and God is a solvent arrangement as opposed to the promotions of lust, anger, greed, madness, envy and illusion.

What are your thoughts on that Readers?

Thursday, 19 February 2009

Wednesday, February 18th, 2009

Toronto, Ontario

I was so happy to meet at my bedside a young man who recently came to join the ranks of monks. Jeffrey is a young twenty-year old from southern Ontario with a farming background who joined our boys in Halifax. He’s come to Toronto to greet my dear friend Indradyumna Swami, an inspiring senior monk in our society. Jeff is a promising human being, good-natured and well mannered. It gives me hope in the world when I see people of his calibre who decide to be a part of a monastic vocation.

Jeff may decide to become a family man in the future and that is his choice. He comes from a conservative Dutch Reform Church and all that high-moral-family-stuff has paid off in the end to mold a good person out of him.

When a quality person enters into the realm of an ashram seeking knowledge, strength and direction it usually boosts the morale of the resident monks as well. It’s encouraging when young blood comes to mix with the old. Energy plus experience blend well together.

It’s comforting for me to see that not just second generation Vaishnavas (devotees) are demonstrating great enthusiasm but that new recruits are also trickling in through our doors. It means that as a group we have what’s called “staying power”. Dr. E. Burke Rockford Jr., a sociologist, has said of the Hare Krishna society that we have passed some kind of endurance test. “ISKCON has lasted well beyond the average life expectancy of such (surging) organizations. It has without a doubt shown its ability to endure.”

So for Jeff, he carries this big smile and sports the Hare Krishna signature look of shaven head and tuft of hair in the back and above all chants, “Hare Krishna Hare Krishna Krishna Krishna Hare Hare - Hare Rama Hare Rama Rama Rama Hare Hare.”

Tuesday, 17 February 2009

Monday, February 16th, 2009

Toronto, Ontario

It’s actually difficult for me to wear a shoe on the right foot because it remains enflamed and therefore the shoe doesn’t fit so comfortably. It aggravates the pain. I started to contemplate shoes and the people in them. Shoes are not always practical.

On one occasion our guru, Srila Prabhupada, sat at an airport in Australia with students waiting for his flight. This was in the seventies when fashion trends saw young men in elevated heels called, “stacks”. They would raise your feet 5 or 6 inches off the ground. Prabhupada found it interesting and gave a chuckle.

In the early sixties I recall our dad driving us kids to Detroit to see the zoo and to get there you had to go through the downtown. It was stylish for women to have those almost toothpick thin high heels on. As we stopped for pedestrians it left us a lasting impression of hundreds of stilted shoes criss crossing each other. We would wonder if one of those heels ever got caught in the sidewalk cracks. Surely the stacks of the seventies and the high heels of the sixties created some serious injuries for people. Last summer on the outdoor stage of a festival event a female dignitary sported arrow thin high heels. When she came up to stand at the microphone to deliver her speech her heels had huge clumps of grass and earth stuck on them. She must have changed the landscaping of the park substantially that day.

Anyways, shoes and people are interesting . On display at the Bata shoe museum is a pair of shoes worn previously by some noble in India. The unique device incorporated into the craftsmanship of the shoe is that each time you press down on this piece of footwear, perfume sprays out at the heels. Now that’s some shoe!

Shoes aren’t always for walking. They seem to have other purposes and are often designed not for comfort but for sex appeal. That is the bottom line feature of this worldly existence.

Monday, 16 February 2009

Sunday, February 15th, 2009

Toronto, Ontario

One of my favorite stories to do with the nature of service goes as follows:

Our guru’s assistant, Sruti Kirti, was embarrassed about something. He was always taken by the tremendous demonstration of love by the students of Srila Prabhupada. Wherever they traveled together devotees would chant, dance, cry, expressing emotions of attachment for their teacher. Sruti Kirti on the other hand felt inside a lack of this feeling.

One of Sruti Kirti’s services was to give regular massage to Prabhupada. He decided to put his position of self – pity before his guru.

“Srila Prabhupada, all these devotees have such love for you. It makes me feel so bad. I have none of this love. I have so much of your association and yet I don’t feel that this is there.”

During the massage Prabhupada said nothing. After his shower he called Sruti Kirti to the room and asked, “ Do you like serving me? “

“Yes, Prabhupada! Very much.” Answered Sruti Kirti.

“Then that is love. Everyone can do so many things…..singing, dancing, jumping up and down, but you are actually doing something. That is what love means- to do service.”

As I had someone read the passage I was receiving a much needed foot massage around the infected area. For the first time since the catfish encounter eleven days ago I could wiggle my big toe. It was happy.

This day I succeeded in walking a quarter of a block. The strain was a bit too much to bear. I had to return to the indoors and to bed.

Sunday, 15 February 2009

Sunday, February 15th, 2009

Dear well wishers,

Please accept my humble obeisances. All glories to Srila Prabhupada.

I am happy to announce that HH Bhaktimarga Swami has been discharged from the hospital. He has been sent home to continue his treatment. Saturday was the best day he has had since the catfish incident. The healing process is still slow.

Last night he had a restful sleep, the first one since the incident. He will be giving class tonight at the Toronto temple, though we have not worked out all the logistics of how to get him to the temple room.

The issue now is that the infection is now in the bone of his foot and the recovery of which will take some time.

Please continue to pray.

your servants,
Remuna dd and Krishna Chaitanya dasa,
Secretaries to HH Bhaktimarga Swami

namo narayanaya, krsne matir astu

Saturday, 14 February 2009

Saturday, February 14th, 2009

Toronto, Ontario

While in Vrindavana, India, sometime in the seventies, our guru, Srila Prabhupada had received a serious cut in his foot. It brought on an infection with swelling that grew up to the calf of his leg. He then arranged a poultice of neem, tumeric and mustard oil and wrapped this around his leg with a banana leaf as a bandage. The swelling reduced back to normal after five days. It was painful but being detached he hardly lodged a complaint.

What has eased my pain has been the visits I’ve received. Just having sympathizers, well-wishing folks come, makes it an opportunity to know one another more. One group of youth en-route to Montreal dropped by to see me as a send-off blessing. I admire them so much. When youthful energy is harnessed to provide mutually benevolent service then you have a real powerhouse. When that same youthfulness is left unchecked expect a house of destruction.

The group that sat before me prior to leaving for their journey shone like a band of angels. It’s a sight like this with its devotional vibration that provides me a boost. Whether its herbs, medicines, get-well messages, personal visits, the massages and/or offers to help all contribute to the healing process.

When our guru was on this earthly plane he fell ill on numerous occasions. Much support was there for him. He always reciprocated so well.

Friday, February 13th, 2009

Toronto, Ontario

I was discharged from Joseph Brant Memorial Hospital yesterday and returned to my home in the temple. Treatment continues though. Strapped to my torso is an intervenes pack which gets checked by a nurse who loves house calls daily. Swelling and pain of the right infected foot has gone down incrementally.

I found that my reason for being in the hospital and my vocation came to be some kind of fascination for attendants at the hospital. The woman who did my bone scan was from the Christian Alliance community and with no prejudice or sarcasm asked about how I go about my pilgrimages.

“You basically depend on the grace of God,” I said which seemed to satisfy her fine.

Another nurse thought she had my identity pegged down. When looking at a picture I had beside my hospital bed of a smiling Prabhupada (my guru) she wanted to come across as knowledgeable and presumed that it was a picture of the Dalai Lama. Hungry to learn she wanted to know how someone can be gratified simply living the life of a monk for thirty-six yeas.
“It’s a natural life – few headaches.”

Another nurse admittted to being a student of “Hatta Yoga” I gave her my copy of The Gita and suggested that this is the book on “cool yoga”

I made friends just lying there without walking. I am lead to wonder whether the catfish I stepped on was either a curse or a blessing?

Walking on crutches will have to be tolerated for awhile.

Tuesday, 10 February 2009

Tuesday, February 10th, 2009

Dear Readers

I am sorry I have not been able to update the walking adventure, there is a good reason. For the time being my walking has come to a halt and I am confined to a hospital bed in Burlington. I received an infection on the right foot after an encounter with a catfish. I am spending time to heal the foot.

As I am looking out the window of the hospital room overlooking Lake Ontario, it's a beautiful scene, there are geese that fly by my window and below I can see a park. I can see the home of the famous historian Joseph Brant. I can see people walking and I envy them somewhat. How we take our feet for granted.

The foot is somewhat painful but I will get through it by God's grace. I have not logged any kilometres since last Wednesday when I was in Guyana on the beach. I only hobble to the toilet. That's the only walking I do. But certainly increasing Mantra Meditation. If you have time a little prayer for my recovery will be much appreciated.

Your servant,
Bhaktimarga Swami

Saturday, 7 February 2009

Wednesday, February 4th, 2009

Corriverton, Guyana

Rama Lila, my sponsor to Guyana, was telling about the early days, which were very tough. It was the early 1980s before he was married when he, along with a handful of monks, lived as ascetics in their own makeshift home made of branches. When it rained, everything inside got wet. The morning bath was in the creek in the region of crocodiles. Rama Lila himself would fell select trees and then chop them for firewood for cooking purposes. Gas for cooking was too costly. Humble beginnings! Now there are temples and ashrams!

While walking there is always much time to think. I thought of some of the people who approached me during the jaunt. One woman explained that her husband left her and she firmly believed that it was a “black magic” endeavour induced by her mother-in-law. She wants him back and so all I could do was offer my prayers and even suggest that I could talk to him if he was willing.

Another boy, sixteen, told me the doctors had given him until May to live. He is suffering from leukemia and wanted to know how he could put a closure to life, peacefully. My prayers go to him.

Rupa, Ravin and I took to walking the beach at a point. What a pleasant relief for the feet but not for long! As I was half-walking/wading, I accidentally stepped on a foot-long, dead catfish. The scales clung on to my foot which I swiftly kicked off. It was painful! After two hours, my right foot, inflamed, terminated my walking for the day. For the rest of the evening, I lay bed-ridden, with a constant uneasiness. I didn’t want to conclude my walk of Guyana in this way, but destiny dictates as always.

25 Km

Wednesday, 4 February 2009

Tuesday, February 3rd, 2009

Correntine, Guyana

There is only one real road in Guyana and it runs along the coast. Currently, its undergoing repair and re-paving. The road engineer for the job happened to come to the temple out of curiosity. He was from Canada and was looking forward to finishing his job here. He enjoyed temple food.

Who else did we meet? There was a rather dishevelled looking fellow who read the article in the paper. “Hey man, I read about you. You’re doin’ this for the oneness of the world? Right? You keep it up, man!”

Another fellow was lying on the road totally passed out. I asked the people next door if he’s okay?

“He’s okay!” they reassured me.

“Too much rum?”

“Yes, too much rum!” so they said. “Don’t worry!”

Clouds up ahead drew our interest. How many avatars of God could we see formed as clouds? And so we played this game. We found a pig (Varaha), an elephant and something resembling a fish. Two companions joined Rupa and I and in this way our journey became even more transcendental apart from our singing as we moved along.

A gas station owner converted his neat and tidy garage into a greeting for the local monks and myself. People came with their children to hear chants, philosophy and stories from the road. The program ended with a fabulous feast.


Monday, February 2nd, 2009

Berbice, Guyana

Padayatra is completed but the pilgrimage goes on. Rupa and I decided that the earlier the start, the greater the distance that can be covered. Our first step on the road was 3:20AM. The stars clearly above us indicated it would be another hot one today. After some distance I required a urine break. It was still dark and I saw a hydro plant with a fortified fence as a quiet refuge. As I was close to positioning myself, I saw something move. It was a person with a uniform and skin colour well with the colour of pre-dawn.

“Yes, what do you want?” said the woman. “I’m here to take a little break – to rest. We’ve been walking and are on our way to Suriname, the next country.”

This took the security guard by surprise, just as much as I was surprised to see her. Her initial defensiveness turned into friendliness. She gave her name, “Tracy” and so we talked on with a metal frame between us.

At another break (after dawn), I kicked up my weary legs leaning them against Fruita Malta Snackette, a small wooden building – a convenience store. To avoid red ants, I laid on a bench while Rupa was on guard to watch when the owner would come to open his shop. There’s nothing to worry about here. Attitudes are easy going.

In the course of the morning Rupa and I found that people in Guyana really do know our roles. In their minds we are the “Haribols.” An additional night-time three hour walk put the day’s tally to my usual category of a marathon walk of 42 km. A portion of this time was occupied by the local Haribols of the Rose Hall temple. We grew to twenty-five as an impromptu procession. Padayatra did not really end in Guyana. It’s become a craze. People come out of their homes onto their balconies which are located across from these all-too-common canals, wave a hand and shout “Haribol” which literally means “say the name of He who takes away all negativity.

42 km

Sunday, February 1st, 2009

Georgetown, Guyana

If I were to pick a theme for today, I would choose “heat and humidity”. The procession before the stage presentation was conducted in the middle of the day. Passion for the faithful was also on fire on this normal type of Sunday. Our group of 100 or so bold chanters found other spiritualists expressing themselves as the speaker vehicle leading us zig-zagged up and down residential regions. Evangelical enthusiasts made their praises known as instruments and gospel power resonated out of their church windows and doors – “Halleluiah!”

While they chose shade we were committed to the burning ball of the sun. It doesn’t necessarily make our group more faithful but unique – yes.

I recall as a young boy in the Catholic tradition we conducted a similar procession one day in the month of May. With an icon of Mary, our percussionists sang hymns while proceeding on a more prominent street of our 3,000 population town in southern Ontario, called Blenheim.

For Padayatra, I was parade-marshal each day, seeing to the rank-and-filing of folks who were not so used to it. We all certainly released a lot of body water, drenching through those clothes of ours. I sometimes get flashbacks of the falling snow from Canada. It helps psychologically.

Today was the final day of Padayatra 2009 for Guyana. A lot of thanks went out to organizers of a highly successful seven days of devotional ecstasy. Most notable was an accountant, Ram Lila, an accountant from Canada. Local Guyanese men and women truly come forward in this great endeavour to help reenergize a spiritual culture. Spirits get lifted. Let’s hope it keeps that way.


Friday, January 30th, 2009

Georgetown, Guyana

Every evening Padayatra (the festival on foot) is held at a different location. This evening’s was set up at Guyana’s old drive-in movie theatre. From the stage, Rajarsi of Trinidad spoke. He told a story of about approaching spiritual life with some intelligence.

“A disciple had served his guru on a journey by having the guru ride on a horse while the disciple walked along behind. They started getting cold and the guru asked the disciple, “What happened to my blanket?”
The disciple remarked, “It fell off the horse some time back.”
The guru responded, “Anything that falls from the horse, pick it up and bring it back to me.”
The horse released some dung and so the disciple picked up the dung and presented it to the guru. The guru became upset and made a list of all the items that if they happen to fall from the horse that could be picked up. After some time, the guru fell off the horse. The disciple checked the list to see if the guru was on the list. When he didn’t see the guru’s name on the list, he left the guru behind.

What we are to glean from this message was that we don’t become a mere “yes man” in spiritual life. We must make use of our intelligence. Naturally, the audience, which increases by size each day, had a good laugh and got the point.

Carrying on with a similar type of theme, I could not contain myself after trekking with Rupa for three hours and noting the huge amount of trash along the sea wall as we headed west today. With a concerned passion, I addressed the crowd, “While we cleanse ourselves through mantra, eating holy food (prasadam), and hear messages about being bright, don’t we have an obligation to look after the cleanliness of our environment?”

Indeed the culture of plastic and trash has hit Guyana leaving the beaches embarrassingly unkempt. Rejected refrigerators, TV guts, buckets, and millions of plastic bottles litter the water’s edge. If we are human and to add, a spiritual community, can’t we be somewhat more conscious? The third world tends to follow the so-called developed world in most habits. In Guyana, there is currently neither infrastructure nor the sensitivity to do much about it.

Basically we were imploring all there to play a role in ecological protection. For the long haul and the future generations, “let’s be more conscious and then it’s possible to be God Conscious.”


Tuesday, 3 February 2009

Saturday, January 31, 2009

Parika, Guyana

The number of people attending each night at various locations is rather pleasing. It ranges from 1,200 to 2,000 people. On stage was a medley of devotional presentations including the drama, “The Gita”. The actors were young and inexperienced onstage fellows. They are most sincere – all male. After the appreciated performance, I asked the audience for three favours: 1) to bless these young men to be good future fathers, 2) to bless these young men to be good husbands, 3) to bless these young men to be good, moral, Krishna-centered individuals. As the men stood there, mostly single, the audience (by my coaching) raised their palm and said, “Hare Krishna”. It felt good that support was there. Let’s look hard at and work hard at an improved future with increased functional families.

The early morning had us engaged in trekking. Practically, it brought Rupa and I to the end of the world. At the end of Parika’s main street is the ocean meeting the Essequibo River. By 9AM, Rupa and I felt like toast. In this area of the globe, not terribly far from the equator, we felt the effect of an inferno early in the day.

A little adventure can get you into trouble. A passion for the sea breeze caused us to head to the sea’s edge. Before long, we trekked through mud and mean forest, the type with clawing thorns. Our apparel and bodies became ornamented with blood and mud.

The lesson – careful about adventure.

18 Km