Monday, 23 February 2015

Sunday, February 22nd, 2015

Mayapur, India

Firm Feet

My legs are well looked after.  A brahmacari (monk) from Ujain, gives daily massages before the night's rest.  Normally I get a decent reflexology session by walking the uneven terrain (not today unfortunately).  I keep ankles and feet covered with thick socks during sitting times.  Mosquitoes look at your ankles like succulent drum-sticks.  It is also doctor's recommendation to have my legs above the level of my head.  So I kick those lower limbs up to where two walls meet allowing my blood to flow down.  Apparently this is a way to treat varicose veins.  Tiny as they are, they are a part of my karmic reality. 

It is important to get a good footing in life.  To do so, you should identify with your natural dharma, your natural psycho-physical nature and engage yourself accordingly.

I was sitting with two people I much admire - Anuttama and Jayananda both from DC - and we were talking just briefly about two passions.  I mentioned about my love for walking and also my love for working with youth and engaging them in drama.

Anuttama is a good teacher.  He's in his element.  He delivers classes in spiritual leadership.  He does it well.  Jayananda is a teacher in the area of puja (rituals for the deities).  They are both very grounded - kind of people because they are engaged according to their own propensity.

Find a good footing in life and balance like two feet, your spiritual and material endeavours.

May the Source be with you!

3 KM

Saturday, February 21st, 2015

Mayapur, India

On the Roof

On the roof of the education building, the Chaitanya Bhavan, a priest had prepared a havan, a small sand-pit arrangement.  It was paraphernalia all set up for a fire ceremony to acknowledge two candidates for initiation into our Vaishnava culture.  And I must say they are very excited about this personal step forward.

Luke is the father of one of the candidates.  His son, Philippe Lussier, has been aspiring for this moment, and was anticipating that it could happen in his dad's presence.  Luke is Canadian and it’s his first trip to India.  Michelle, his friend, to accompany him, just loves it here.

The other candidate, is Jon Strickland, from the USA.  He had served with the Marines and he finds the devotional regimentation of Krishna Consciousness to be very second nature to him.

It was a fine morning, a bit misty, up there on the flat roof.  The sun from a far distance, attempts to pierce through.  I counted five raindrops to brace my shaven head.  Jon sports a beard, a green light I gave him as an actor in our drama.  I spoke from 16.5 of the Bhagavad-gita, wherein Krishna identifies with the qualities of divinity declaring them as the road to liberation.  The qualities contrary are sources of bondage.

In my role as the guru I like to see in all the initiates that they become, or rather remain in this life, as at least, sensitively moral, if not, then better still, lovers of the Creator.

Joh took on the Sanskrit name Jnanagamya in honour of our recently deceased dear god-brother.  Philippe accepted the name Pradyumna.  Got bless them!

May the Source be with you!

5 KM

Friday, February 20th, 2015

Mayapur, India

Holy Holy Holy is His Name

A sincere friend from London, Canada forwarded an excerpt from John Michael Talbot, founder of a monastic religious community.

"My soul proclaims the greatness of the Lord
And my spirit exalts in God my Saviour
For He has looked with mercy on my lowliness
And my name will be forever exalted
For the mighty God has done great things for me
And His mercy will reach from age to age

And holy, holy, holy is His name."

Here resonates a massage that transcends the borders of religious denomination.  This is an across-the-board reality expressed by one evolved soul.

Along these lines, chanting sacred sound did take the prominent seat on Mayapur grounds.  In what is called "The Panca Tattva Hall" the final day of a five-day sacred sound extravaganza played itself out.  Personally I found myself caught up in the kirtan frenzy and so did others.  We were chanting and dancing almost as if intoxicated.  At one point I was hoisted and put to crowd-surfing.  When it was time for what I considered was my expiry I tried to make an exit, but a group of these young men formed a fun-loving human barricade.  Then to make matters more challenging the act of shutting the doors to block me demonstrated their determination.  The compromise was that they take up again the swami in the air and bring him to his room!  The frivolity took no less than forty men to go three blocks and up three levels of stairs where to come to my doorstep at 504 Gada Building just minutes before midnight.

All done in good fun!

May the Source be with you!

5 KM

Thursday, February 19th, 2015

Mayapur, India

Just That Place

Mayapur is just that place where you meet old acquaintances and anticipating that even new ones to become lasting friendship connections.  Everyone here is a pilgrim in residence or have come from afar.  You meet Aussies, Indians, Yankees, Canucks (Canadians), Ruskies, Euros, Africans, Spaniards, Chinese, everything that represents the globe.

After all, it is an international centre which draws people of the bhakti line.  I wouldn't exactly call it the place for spiritual seekers because those who are visitors have actually found what they are looking for.  It's Krishna!

When pacing up and down along the veranda, I pass by a room of brahmacharis (monks) who were listening to a recording of our guru, Srila Prabhupada.  The message was, "Sri Chaitanya is teaching you how to love Krishna!"

That message just about sums up the reason for Mayapur existing.  It is in this place that Sri Chaitanya began His mission.  He was born just down the road, was raised here, and roamed the pathways in the area.  How sacred are these grounds that benedicts the earth!  And as there are many such tirthas (sacred spaces) that are identified by people of distinctive spiritual traditions around the world, we the Vaishnavas (followers of Vishnu) hold sacred to our hearts this vicinity of Gaudadesh and Mayapur as the domain where one becomes purged.

May the Source be with you!

6 KM

Wednesday, February 18th, 2015

Mayapur, India
Be Smart About Your Spiritual Fervour

It is quite astonishing to hear of another death today.  However you measure this one, auspicious or not for a relatively small town the frequency seems high.
This time it was a young man from the famed Krishna place called Vrindavan.  He and colleagues went for a sacred bath in the Ganges.  He stepped into an area which was not an official safe bathing location, slipped into a truly slippery slope, vanished into the water and was not seen from there on.  

It was around 7 pm when I heard of the loss of life from one of the swamis from India.  Nava Yogendra Swami informed me that one of his students standing next to him was there at the scene of the incident.  He tried to dive and swim for the victim's whereabouts, for a rescue but his efforts went in vain.
The young man who attempted the heroic feat and who was rather athletic-looking gave a look of regret, pain, and helplessness.
No one actually gave a name to the drowned victim.  I made some inquiry but only found out that the boy didn't know how to swim.  On the one hand you have someone who left his body to the holy liberating waters of Mother Ganga.  On the other hand it would seem quite unfortunate to have lived a short life.  Bless the young man who's death wasn't even mentioned by name at morning announcements in the large temple although notification was given at the kirtan wrap-up messages in the evening.
What to learn from this?  Perhaps, one should not get carried away in one's spiritual fervour to the point where your smarts have gone for a nap.  That's hard to make such a remark but these things are going on.
May the Source be with you!
5 KM

Tuesday, February 17th, 2015

Mayapur, India

Lesson On Life

Phil's dad came from Canada to see his son.  Also from Quebec, to be more specific, is Michelle.  Both Luke and Michelle happened to visit India for their first time.

Their arrival was timely for more than one reason.  Yesterday was day one of the Kirtan Mela, the chanting fest.  Pilgrims from around the world, have come to indulge in what is usually an unforgettable event.  The couple had come to peak, out of interest, the portion where I took the lead in singing but also in dancing.  The half-hour slot I was given, turned out to be a dance lesson in as much as singing (it had been a year's wait for this opportunity).

For Luke and Michelle it had also become their first exposure to a cremation.  Just as one of the very saintly women from Mayapur, Manarupa, had passed away yesterday and was cremated, a second person, Gnanagamya, a friend of mine from the USA, also departed today.  That came as a surprise to the community.  Cancer had taken his life, and now residents took full advantage of sending him off.

Here again I was to lead the chant, and in the procession.  The couple from Canada, and even I - had come to witness the cremation.  It was a first for me as well, seeing it all in the raw format as opposed to the sophisticated arrangement of the West.  It was quite the eye-opener as the sun began to decline behind the horizon at the Ganges.  As Phil said, "A lesson on life" was observed.

Can one be consoled from the experience such as this?  We just need to recall the Gita’s message that we are not these bodies.

May the Source be with you!

6 KM

Thursday, 19 February 2015

Monday, February 16th, 2015

Mayapur, India

Hit By A Monk

One swami gave me a slug.  Yes, in truth I got hit by a monk in the left brow and cheek.  It was not ill-intended.  It was an accident but at the time it felt a hard blow.

What actually happened is that at the first day of the kirtan mela, the chanting fest, I was making my dance moves during the chant session.  Dozens of men were following my lead when Chandramauli Swami comes in to participate.  He always gravitates to the place where there's a beat and a thump and a mantra - I commend him for that.

At one point in the kirtan he broke into a wild spin and like a tornado he spun out of control and headed my way.  The Maharaja apologetically said, "I stepped out of line, I'm sorry."  And of course, all was done with genuine heart.  The incident had all alarmed but the dance persisted and both swamis, he and I, demonstrated a transcendence, if I could say.  The hurt subsided and there were no signs of permanent damage.

Life goes on, as it should, with the chant in prevalence.

I think of the conviction of our guru, Srila Prabhupada, who carried on, despite being knocked over by a horned bull while on the streets in Delhi, and how on his ocean journey on the vessel "The Jaladuta" he encountered two heart attacks, but on the will of persistence, forged ahead with a mission.

The apparent blow to my head was minuscule compared to what my guru has done.

May the Source be with you!

6 KM

Sunday, February 15th, 2015

Mayapur, India

From Tongue to Nose

Cashews and figs are my breakfast.  During meetings my colleagues and I enjoy a snack bar with water right out of the dab (coconut).  Other juices are freshly made pomegranate, sugar cane, lemon, and bael.  Delicious!  Good for any one walking or sitting (at meetings).

Lunch is much the same every day.  I pass on the rice but delight in steamed veggies, a banana curry, and today it was jackfruit, an actual vegetable.  I tell you, even a meat-eater would relish cooked jackfruit, its texture and taste.

Daru Brahman is a student of mine who brings a lighter meal at night during our rehearsals.  I will not pass up on the fruit-filled custard, a fitting food to our tummies taken just two hours before retiring for the night.

Somehow the above-mentioned gets burned up during the daily walk, the recreation of dance during the morning auspicious time at tulasi puja and then somehow or other the warmed-up temperature that we experience at our think-tank hours, the AGM for our society.

What a pleasant change it was to have that downpour of rain.  It didn't take much for areas to flood.  I guess you call it a token flood.  By the following morning most of that had disappeared and was drained out to the nearby Ganges.  It was shortly after the rainfall that the coriander fields in the area exploded in fragrance.  Tucked away we were in the samadhi auditorium at the time and that remarkable scent burst at the nostrils, adding to the magic of nature and its Creator.

May the Source be with you!

7 KM

Tuesday, 17 February 2015

Saturday, February 14th, 2015

Mayapur, India
In and Out of the Dust
The two lovely ladies were taking a beating.  Mayapura's two elephants lay there in the dust receiving a kind of massage from the trainer.  He takes a burlap sac and strikes the body of each mammal.  This included poking the head, neck, and trunk.
Vishnupriya and Laksmipriya are the honoured ladies-in-waiting.  What are they waiting for?  Their morning stroll - of course.  But prior to that, their trainers (from Asam), they had their evening sleep followed by the massage.
Dust was thrust in the air at each flick of the sac.  Elephants are known for their enjoying their dust.  When having their afternoon bath, a massive task on the plot of land highly populated by hundreds of banana trees, elephants are known to gather dust with their trunk and toss it over their bodies for cooling purposes.
The small group of us walkers, watched the two huge mammals make their way up with trainers on their backs and very resolutely ambled along with a chain affixed to their left ankle.  Naturally their trunks snaked in the direction of our extended hands.  Snacks seem to be what they always hanker after.  Unfortunately we were empty-handed but compensated by offering our own form of massage on their agile hoses.
Love is what is being given to the two princesses, Vishnupriya and Laksmipriya.  Love is always the ingredient that provides the greatest reassurance.  Ultimately, we need only to give this love to the Creator.  That translates as bhakti, intense devotion.
May the Source be with you!
7 KM

Friday, February 13th, 2015

Mayapur, India
The Sun, Movement and Heat
I pondered, "Morning and walking are still the perfect couple."  Pre-dawn, dawn itself, and a piece of post-dawn are the perfect trio.  Walking, chanting in the shower of sunshine is the superlative function of any day.  How important is fitness for both body and mind!

I'm spending four to five hours each day after this solar bathing with youth in a dark place.  The Samadhi Auditorium is the venue for our drama practices and its located in a basement level.  Just when the sun radiates more intensely you will find me down there.
Now, there was an incident where two actors sparked a minor feud.  Yes, people can get heated up even in a cooler place.  Fortunately the relations between the two did get smoothed out because on the basis of the spiritual family we belong to, a mature perception about the incident prevailed.
There was one more element that evolved in the semi-circular amphitheatre - shaped auditorium.  Two of the young men took to wrestling moves because that is what the story-line calls for.  (Yes, indeed Krishna wrestles with the big brute, Chanura).
Also, the actor playing the role of the tyrant, Kamsa, demonstrated a fiery fight scene as part of the rehearsal.  He worked up a sweat and with an agility that I did not see in him when we first started ten days ago.  In reality, even the youth are out of shape.  I, however, noted a change in practically everyone on the rubber-matted stage.  They were experiencing a physical stimulation to parallel the spiritual experience enjoyed by them.
I remarked to Gaura, one of the actors, "Go for that balance.  It is key...!"
May the Source be with you!
7 KM

Thursday, February 12th, 2015

Mayapur, India
A New Book
One of my monk friends, my senior actually, showed up the other day.  He came down the trail near the brahmacari kitchen.  He has that distinct build, rather thin, and walks with a grave smoothness.
Jayadwaita Swami by name, is an American-born early pioneer to Krishna Consciousness in New York.  He was glowing in presence when we met after a reasonably long time not having seen each other.  Offering a warm smile he stretched his arm to hand me his book, an advanced copy called 'Vanity Karma.'  
"Thank you, Maharaja!" I said with genuine gratitude.  I dashed off to my room in order to take that sneak peek.  In the forward by Graham M. Schweig, he writes, "'Vanity Karma' invites us into an exploration of the meaning of life through deep philosophical reflections and a richly layered dialogue.  To do this it places the book of Ecclesiastes (from the Hebrew Bible) in dialogue with the Bhagavad-gita (from the Hindu epic poem the Mahabharata) and we quickly find that this is not only an external dialogue but an inner one as well."
The author, Jayadwaita Swami, talks of his early years at Temple Sinai in New Jersey for Jewish instructions.  He relays how the term 'vanity' was discussed based on Ecclesiastes and is generally understood as a sort of pride.  Upon further deliberation of this word one teacher expressed that it refers more to the meaningless or pointlessness of the world.  As Jayadwaita put it, "a man works his whole life, and what does he get for it?"
Somehow Jayadwaita gingerly brings the message of the Bhagavad-gita to the fold as a person's stepping incremental growth to finding life's rich purpose.
I've begun reading it.  I love it.
May the Source be with you!
6 KM

Wednesday, February 11th, 2015

Mayapur, India

The Best of Lunch

The best of lunch are the chapatis that are pulled up by way of a device from one floor below.  Perhaps these flat-bread circular wonders are offered optimally with and without ghee (clarified butter).  We usually lunch in the Lotus Building.  Wheat, a chappati's main ingredient, is not indigenous to the area of Bengal like its' popular rice -  but it is loved.  With it, you tear off with right hand a portion of it, and with that, you scoop up almost any or all of the delectables on your plate.  It might be the air that touches these chapatis as they ascend from one veranda to the other that enhances the flavour.

They come out as soft and tasty fibrous edibles.  I know that I couldn't live without tortillas (similar to the chappati but larger) that hold in place my raw slices of veggies to form a wrap.  It's my morning mainstay.

When I see a chapati, whether on a temple kitchen grill, or on a shelf wrapped in a plastic zip-loc  bag from an Indian shop, or one that's handed to me lovingly from my support person on one of my walks - I relish those guys.  It can be a labour-intensive ordeal rolling out the dough, transferring it to a grill, and then properly exposing it to a flame.  Such is the methodology as executed by an incredible devotional crew, consisting of men and women, who put devotion to the task.

I've been walking trails in the area with rice paddy field on both sides of me but I have special preference to the wheat fields that produce those delicious chapatis or rotis worthy of being offered to the deity of Krishna with love and devotion.

May the Source be with you!

5 KM

Tuesday, February 10th, 2015

Mayapur, India
Our Youth

One particular burning issue for the pioneer phase of a society like the Hare Krishna movement is our youth.  How does such a protective - and at least in the minds of some people - a fairly insular group like ours, deal with their young and their integration into the bigger world?

We have our schools.  We have our culture, dress code, our cuisine, music, and beliefs that set us apart.  For practical reasons children who may have been raised and experienced our unique orthodoxy may see it as a challenge when it comes to career and life in a new environment that may come across as overly secular.

As the chairperson for "Vande Arts," an initiative that inspires and encourages young folks who grew up in such an environment and who have that artistic edge, I'm relieved to know there's hope.  Joining our initiative are a group of younger people who fit in to that category.  They are bright, energetic, intelligent, talented, and have a lot to give.  Amongst them we have a singer, actors, dancers, and graphic artists.  It's a well-rounded group who have a forte for flaunting skills with a spiritual theme.

This has been our fourth day of meeting over strategic planning.  So getting to know them, I'm confident that some of them will succeed, career-wise, and in keeping with some spiritual content.  It won't be solely the efforts of "Vande" that will bring them to glory but their involvement should aid them in their life's mission.  I'm enjoying their exuberance.  It reminds me of Krishna's effervescent youthfulness.

May the Source be with you!

5 KM

Monday, February 9th, 2015

Mayapur, India

They've Got to Go!

Oh, how I detest those scooters and motorcycles!  Our guru, Srila Prabhupada, called them "murder-cycles."

In the past I’ve complained about these noise-makers and people-stoppers in a previous blog entry.  Little has changed since a young boy had been maimed by a scooter last year.  A small adjustment has been implemented which is a row of traffic cones have been placed in the middle of one pathway - indicating pedestrians and bicyclist on one side and scooters on the other.

This, I'm sorry to say, is not enough to ensure peace and safety and a spiritual environment.  It was pointed out by one of the residents, Tara, that in the sacred pilgrimage of Udupi in South India, there is a substantial zone for pedestrians.  I believe Mayapur should be that motor/scooter zone-free place.  

The Vedas say that we currently reside in the gloomy time-frame of kali-yuga which is fraught by disturbance on many levels.  Sacred territory is meant to reflect a transcendence.  Mayapur could easily be on that list with some loving effort.

At one time Srila Prabhupada envisioned this area to be like Venice, full of canals and waterways.  That would have solved the motorcycle problem.  Circumstantially though, motor-boats would likely make their way into the dham (spiritual domain) in any event, unless management takes a strong stand against the monsters.

It's really a case of convenience for some and inconvenience for others.  Such controversial matters could be solved by following what the guru says.  Prabhupada was clearly against - in his words "murder-cycles."

May the Source be with you!

7 KM

Friday, 13 February 2015

Sunday, February 8th, 2015

Mayapur, India

Dogs and Others

At dawn the dogs are still asleep.  You'll see a solitary guy just lying rolled up on the sand.  If it’s a puppy it will lie coiled around its mum or dad.

Our passing by them makes no difference to their slumber.  They are beautifully resolute and will not move until the sun or some other urge beckons them.

I'm noticing a decrease in these homeless fellows, at least on the campus at Mayapur and also an increase in jackals.  The jackals love Mayapur and for one major reason.  One kitchen man at the Gada Building told me that jackals look forward to kitchen scraps and prasadam remnants left on banana leaves.  They really party it up at night.

When you think about it, whenever you trek you'll view living entities and whether they fly, crawl, or prowl, most of them are on the big search for food.  It appears to be the number one objective.  I'm not sure if movement geared toward a sleeping venture is a close second in terms of rank.  Mating is a cause for motion as are opportunities for a good fight.

We have cornered or identified four major functions of souls in this world.  Rather our guru identified them for us.  Humans are also included in these dynamics yet we play a major role as having a proclivity towards the spiritual.  This does not mean we wield condescending attitudes towards other beings.  It means we have an obligation more so to protect these other creatures in carrying on with their business of an eco-natural culture.

May the Source be with you!

6 KM

Saturday, February 7th, 2015

Mayapur, India

I Was Coming

I was coming from lunch in what's called the Lotus Building and when I was descending the stairs a young male Russian doing the same made an observation.  We both noticed the pilgrims from Kolkata.  They were sitting, resting, and playing on the grassy grounds.

The Russian devotee remarked, "They really know how to enjoy." I concurred.

In the developed world people get bored if you don't pay a big fee for a water park.  And I said, "If there's no engine next to you making a roaring noise, how do you get stimulated?" 

Naturally these people are coming from Kolkata, "The City of Joy."  They consider this outing a great time.  They came here in a crammed bus, went through hellish traffic, then stood in the sun in a long queue for lunch - on arrival.  All this and no complaints.  They are an unspoiled group.  They enjoy each others' company.  "I hope that this country won't become developed," I thought.  Incredible India!

I have always felt that about this amazing land.  People smile.  They enjoy the simple things and very much value relationships.  It is a resilient race that survived subjugation for hundreds of years.  Mind you, challenges are there but for the most part, India's spiritual foundation can be identified as the reason for its upbeatedness. 

There is a need to clean house.  It is crowded in places and the lavatories are minimal in number but this great land of Bharat can truly be noted for its glowing dharma.

May the Source be with you!

5 KM

Friday, February 6th, 2015

Mayapur, India

The Mist is Thick

The mist is thick and but for the moon all is beautifully dark as our usual group hits a trail.  When the second ball of light, the sun, pulls the fog - you hear the sounds of the morning.  There's the twitter of birds, bells from the temples, and the morning cry from the local Mosque.  And, oh yes, you can't see but you can hear someone in the midst of a bucket-tossed shower - gathering up all the phlegm of the world and spitting it out.  It's a common sound, really.

The air, with its winter-end chill is practically nothing to respond to for someone in a Canadian body but it is for others.  Winter coats, sweaters, and scarves is the way of addressing it.  It did send me for a moment to the past when I would don my barn coveralls on a really chilly day in Canada.  I was off to milk the family cow at 5:30 AM.  My dad would give me a call, "John!" he'd say in an optimistic tone.  I would rise from bed and then meet the outdoor February chill.

"It's fresh, it's good for you!"  he said.  I never doubted him.  It seemed that he relished the bite on his face, a bite of robustness.  I had come to appreciate his remark many years later.  That was a warm flashback.

As we trekked onward and stopped to greet cows at the goshala, I came to pet the bull that a few days' before almost gored me.  Once again a flashback to the farm when I was in my teens.

Mayapur, I love thee! 

May the Source be with you!

6 KM

Thursday, February 5th, 2015

Mayapur, India

Reveal One's Impressions

At the final session of our monk sanga (gathering) our facilitator asked us to write down a statement revealing our impressions.  This was my off-the-cuff rendition:

"Krishna is fond
When we do bond
In sharing views
We destroy our blues."

Another verse from the Bhagavad-gita confirms the notion of chatting on spiritual topics.  Such activity brings about the greatest joy.  That verse is 10.9.

If we talk of practical matters we may get bored.  If we talk of purely mundane matters that are demeaning to others one may find stimulation but such subject matter serves to backfire.  Then there are philosophical talks, as pandits do - talks which perk the intellectual side of the brain.  Finally when one takes shelter of spiritual talks, it compels one to transcend.

It is well-known that your tongue can lead you to hell.  When directed to a spiritual channel our words can liberate us.  One of our great bhakti teachers, Bhaktivinoda Thakur spoke about the tongue being voracious and the most uncontrollable among the senses.  When you engage this tongue in not only chanting but in eating food which is offered to Krishna, it becomes purged and all other sense organs follow in line.

With the sadhus (monks) expressing themselves with words in appreciation of each other, you could feel a light energy, free from stress.

May the Source be with you!

5 KM

Wednesday, February 4th, 2015

Mayapur, India

Unity in Diversity

I was asked to read the following letter to the body of monks that have come from all over the world:

Following in the footprints of Lord Caitanya Mahaprabhu:

trnad api su-nicena taror api sahishnunaamanina manadena kirtaniya sada harih

"One should chant the holy name of the Lord in a humble state of mind, thinking oneself lower than the straw in the street; one should be more tolerant than a tree, devoid of all sense of false prestige and should be ready to offer all respect to others. In such a state of mind one can chant the holy name of the Lord constantly.''

We must always remember this verse and be as tolerant as the tree, as we execute the Krishna Consciousness Movement.  Without this mentality we cannot be successful.

Material nature means dissension and disagreement, especially in this kali yuga. But, for this Krishna consciousness movement its success will depend on agreement, even though there are varieties of engagements. In the material world there are varieties, but there is no agreement. In the spiritual world there are varieties, but there is agreement. That is the difference. The materialist without being able to adjust the varieties and the disagreements makes everything zero. They cannot come into agreement with varieties, but if we keep Krishna in the center, then there will be agreement in varieties. This is called unity in diversity. I am therefore suggesting that all our men meet in Mayapura every year during the birth anniversary of Lord Chaitanya Mahaprabhu. With all GBC and senior men present we should discuss how to make unity in diversity.  But, if we fight on account of diversity, then it is simply the material platform.  Please try to maintain the philosophy of unity in diversity. That will make our movement successful. One section of men have already gone out, therefore we must be very careful to maintain unity in diversity, and remember the story in Aesop's Fables of the father of many children with the bundle of sticks. When the father asked his children to break the bundle of sticks wrapped in a bag, none of them could do it. But, when they removed the sticks from the bag, and tried one by one, the sticks were easily broken. So this is the strength in unity. If we are bunched up, we can never be broken, but when divided, then we can become broken very easily.

May the Source be with you!

6 KM

Sunday, 8 February 2015

Tuesday, February 3rd, 2015

Mayapur, India
A Tale of Two Bulls
I guess you could say I'm the self-declared guide to a small group of first-timers.  These newbies from mostly North America took well to the Tarampura Road, the rural back road in the area.  Here you feel the past being visited.  Humble homes of, in some cases grass roofs, charm the area by their very presence.  A visit to one of these houses namely Vaikunthanath, the known 'bead man,' added a mild spice to the day when we chanted kirtan to his deities of Krishna and then sipped on Ayurvedic tea.
On our return foot-trip to the main temple we spotted the lone bull we massaged on the previous day.  It's that flabby skin underneath their neck that invites the human hand for stroking.  However, the bull in the pen of yesterday and the same bull in the field demonstrated a different demeanour and character.  I was foolishly bold to go to him anticipating a docile encounter from him, but "no", this guy strutted his three-to-four-foot long horns and momentarily locked my right arm in his foreboding weapon.
I got myself free and made a dash.  Fortunately he didn't pursue as the young men looked on at the quick ordeal in awe and concern.  I was just hoping for a good photo shot with the guy, that's all.
Now, the biggest chunk of the day was spent with peers - gurus, sannyasis, and monks of the highest renounced order.  As a group we were facilitated by looking at a 50 year Hare Krishna past and discovering trends and patterns between society-at-large, our ISKCON institution and our personal experiences.  It was a most interesting session.
May the Source be with you!
6 KM

Monday, February 2nd, 2015

Mayapur, India
A Newness
As is the custom, as soon as a pilgrim arrives in a holy place, as our small group did, you offer dandavats (prostrations) on the ground to show respect.  Our destination point is Mayapur.  Angelo, from Miami, had joined us in Mumbai and not pre-arranged was meeting a senior lady from Radhadesh in Belgium at the same airport.  We were glad to take Yadurani with us in the cab to Mayapur just as a way to be somewhat protective and see her by herself in a separate cab.  We see the gesture as a service.
We settled down into our rooms at the Gada Building and then went for a planned walk to the Yoga-pit, the birthplace of Sri Chaitanya.  This was a new life experience for Angelo and Mandala.  "Other worldly" might be the best way to describe their first impressions.  Gentle people, jackals in the wild, exotic birds in flight, the Ganges in the visual distance and now a temple of great historical significance provided all that was needed for experiential wonder.
Oh, but it just got better.  The two elephants, Laksmi and Vishnupriya, were minding their own business, eating young banana leaves.  And finally you have a group of young elementary-age monks seated in the lotus position through an opening of the trees.
Taking these sights in while chanting on the finger-fixation of our meditation beads and while on fast was the perfect entry to the spiritual world.
May the Source be with you!
7 KM

Sunday, February 1st, 2015

London / Mumbai 
In Transit On Such A Day
It is unfortunate to not be on the ground to celebrate the birth anniversary of Sri Nityananda.  Being thousands of feet up in the air makes it somewhat restrictive for celebrating activities.  Mandala, my associate and I, settled for subtly-sounding the maha-mantra with the aid of our beads.
Who is Nityananda?  Answer: one of the great masters of the mantra initiative to the world in the early 16th century, unknown but someone who will be known.  Who will promote?  I guess I should.  Hmmm!  Work ahead - nice work!
While in the air struggling to try to sleep I contemplated on the day as it likely would be in Toronto.  One of our monks, Nick, would be receiving his saffron cloth.  As a novice he had worn the white dhoti (lower cloth) and the white kurta (upper sewn cloth).  This would be a reward for his services.
My extra moments while way above the Atlantic and Europe, the Middle East and so on was spent in speaking with Mandala or just chanting.  I even caught an inspirational documentary on the screen in front of me.  It was an 'Earthrise' episode covering various real life stories about ecological triumphs.  For instance, in Holland there are now one hundred 'Repair Cafes' where neighbours mingle congenially in a designated place and bring their household wares for free repairs.  In the U.K. beavers have been introduced in order to create wetlands.  These types of initiatives are indeed encouraging.
Very endearing to Mandala and myself was going through customs and security and being met by these officials once we entered India.  It is very obvious that they love Hare Krishna.  This is evident in the comments that they make.  They even break out into a mantra session amongst themselves.
Incredible India!
May the Source be with you!
0 KM

Saturday, January 31st, 2015

Etobicoke, Ontario
Jammed In Fun
At the Sringeri Hall we did honour a prominent member of the Punjabi community.  Tareem Lal Prasher passed away at 95 after a life of giving undivided support to his large clan who moved to "the very promised land of Canada" as his sons put it in their speeches.
What really made this family flourish was their strong sense of togetherness, as well as firm faith in Krishna.  Tareem's son Lajput had invited myself and the bhajan group 'Gaura Shakti' for singing some soothing tunes to the maha-mantra.
I was glad to hear speeches from dignitaries, one of whom was a Member of Parliament and also a professional wrestler - Tiger Singh.  Don't ask me who are all these fine folks.  It's mutual when they admitted to not knowing me.  When introduced as the monk who walked the country four times these well-established persons asked, "Well, why haven't we heard about you?"
"Now you have?  There's a first time for everything."
The usual questions come, more informally after speech time, like "How long does it take to cross this huge land?" and "What kind of shoes do you wear?"  To the second question I pointed to the footwear on my feet, "Crocs!" to which they looked in disbelief.
I certainly couldn't boast about using any real prized shoes at all for today because it became jam-packed with memorial ceremonies, a hospital visit, and a flight to London en route to India.
Full and fulfilled.
May the Source be with you!
0 KM

Friday, January 30th, 2015

Toronto, Ontario

Happiness and Its Shadow

I had the greatest time at the Bhakti Lounge.  I was given the topic, “Happiness and Its Shadow” to speak on.  From the angle of the Vedas which is the literal heartbeat of Indian culture, I spoke, as well as from some experience.  I guess you can say, “Happiness is a natural state which has spiritual origins.”  This was the beginning of our discussion with our group.  I have referenced a phrase, ananda mayo bhyasat, which means everyone is seeking joy.  I believe everyone realized at that point.  Another reality felt by the group is that each and every one of us know both joy and pain.  We have all visited both camps.  When I expressed that ultimate contentment comes out of enlightenment from being cognizant, they listened well.  When I mentioned that ignorance beckons pain, it resonated. 

The group was young, average age from 20 – 30.  When we spoke about social pressures along the lines of sex and substance use, everyone identified with the point of instant stimulation, but how on the course of impulsiveness the senses enjoy, but the intelligence was asleep.  When body, mind and brain are all alert, when thoughtfulness is introduced, then one stands a better chance of avoiding instant gratification for long term satisfaction. 

In the promiscuous world that we currently live in, little guidance is given to our young, and as a result, they become very vulnerable and end up being hurt.  Happiness really must have more depth than a cheap thrill arousal.  Our guard must be up.  “Let us first grab a hold of our true identity, I am a spirit, I am not the body.  This is a good start for understanding and to bathing in the pool of happiness. 

May the Source be with you!

6 KM

Thursday, January 29th, 2015

Toronto, Ontario
A Monk with a Wish
Nick and I took to a slush/snow experience on foot to Theatrics Plus.  I am stocking up on costume and accessory supplies for my upcoming trip to India where we will perform.  I figure that the best way to "run" errands is to walk.  When goods are purchased you carry the load and walk back with them - a decent work out.  Nick and I shared the load.
Overall, Nick is a very helpful soul and is a great contributor to our ashram.  I mentioned to Nick that as a reward he should dye his cloth from white to the traditional saffron color.  This would make him more an official monk.  He has shown dedication to residing in the ashram for a good year and a half and prior to that traveled with other monks.  He is deserving of this humble status change. 
I began thinking about our Brazilian monk living in the ashram.  Caitanya Mangala has recently come to join us to brush up on his English.  He is an excellent skate border.  He expressed an interest in taking a crack at snowboarding, something he has never done before.  When he saw the fluffy white stuff descending from the heavens, he fell in love with it and a boyhood passion dream became a spontaneous self combustion.
Now this may not be a regular monk's function, to snow board.  But keeping good health and fitness is a renunciant's obligation.  So we will make arrangements for him to fulfill his dream.
In the meantime, life in the ashram is one of devotional service where you learn individually and collectively how to take advantage of the essence of human life and in cultivating that spiritual side of life.
May the Source be with you!
4 KM

Wednesday, January 28th, 2015

Toronto, Ontario

Machinery at Work

One revelation that came to me, simple as it may be, during the course of today’s walk, was how alert and animated you come to be.  Just in dodging traffic, prudence in stepping over an icy patch, ducking when branches are low, catching the scent of a cedar tree, or car exhaust, makes it all a sensation.  Your senses and the big muscle the brain are all perked up.  The machinery is definitely at work. 

Here’s my favourite in regard to all of this – giving and receiving warmth from fellow pedestrians.  It’s in greeting that much comes alive.  For instance, the facial muscles that make the smile.

Through the careful stepping in the ravine today, I felt inner elation.  It was great to see that attention is given to the Mud Creek Trail by the city in addressing erosion issues.  Even on this wintry day, workmen are turning soil and setting rock pieces strategically for an enhanced landscaping. 

On the street level where commerce is alive, you get the chance to dance, or at least weave through people.  Here again, your attentiveness become sharpened.  These dynamics just don’t occur when you slouch on that couch.  Consider yourself privileged to be able to go for the adventure on foot.  Personally, I get a real charge each time from the daily trek, which above all brings me closer to the Divine.  It’s truly a blessing all around. 

May the Source be with you!

7 KM