Wednesday, December 26, 2007

My India Diary-Part 5

Day 11 Vrndavana 12/16

Our Braj Mandala Parikrama countunied under the able guidance of HG Devananda Pandit Prabhu ("The last man should be first!") as we visited various sacred sites in Nandagram and Barsana. The reality of how fortunate we are came to light at Ter-Kadamba, the bhajan kutir of Rupa Goswami. If you meditated just enough, the external film peeled back to reveal Rupa chastising his elder brother Sanatana for tasting the milk prasad cooked by a visiting girl named Radharani. Absolutely incredible. As Chaitanya said, in remarking that this was the place where Rupa Goswami wrote all the literatures that are the essence of our devotional heart: "This is the place where Krsna Consciousness began. Without Rupa Goswami writing these scriptures, we wouldn't know anything."

We also visited Vrnda-Kunda, praying for forgiveness of offences and lifetimes of service. In Barsana, the externals got to me. So many residents approaching seemingly with rupees in their eyes rather than katha or bhava. So there is every tendency to become hard-hearted, to criticize and offend. Good advice is to remember the Brijabasis are simple at heart internally, even if they appear greedy externally. If we say no, it should be done with respect and a "Radhe Radhe" to keep soft and receptive.

HH Sacinandana Maharaja gave a short and succinct brahmacari class in the evening, saying that brahmacarya doesn't just mean non-married life, it means acting always on the spiritual platform. He says that humility is an atom bomb against the false ego, and that by viewing women as atmas, spirit souls, we act properly in brahmacarya.

Day 12 Vrndavana 12/17
Completely exhausted, completely enlivened, completely intoxicated after the most sacred of long walks, 14 miles, the Govardhana Parikrama.

We began with breakfast at Kurosara Sarovara and then hit Giriraja's trail. Moving through Manasi Ganga, playfully dodging the Braj street kids with empty hands. We stopped at Govardhana Palace, lovingly run in the memory and inspiration of HH Tamal Krsna Maharaja, where we reunited with our fellow New V. Brajbasi HG Gauranga Kishore Prabhu, resplendent with babaji beard, his own small bhajan-kutir, and some serious sanskrit studies.

We were treated to a quick katha with HH Kesava Bharati Maharaja, who told of Govardhana Hill being the most secret place of play for Krsna and His cowherd boyfriends, and how no one who comes to Giriraja can leave without being deeply affected, and that we should remember this as our best fortune.

We then began our intimate darshan of Giriraja, stopping at Govinda-kunda to share pastimes and build small houses of silas in prayer to take residence near Giriraja in our next life. My house was very simple. No mansion for me. Just a roof, a dirt-floor, and Giriraja as constant darshan outside my window.

We turned the corner around the tail of Giriraja, rolling in the dust and watching as devotees threw mounds of carrots into the air to a sea of monkeys. Another universe indeed. At this point, the ol'feet went "oofh!" but we trudged on through noisy, narrow streets, piles of cow dung, cups of sugercane juice, and a million little rocks and thorns.

The journey concluded at the most sacred spot in the univrse: Radha-Kunda and Syama-Kunda, where liquid love of God sits for all to share. Here, my mood of deep prayer was slightly disturbed by pandits who wanted to perform my darshan for me, but I was able to pour my heart out in prayer, and give my japa beads the best bath I can ever give them. In order to soften my hard heart, I gave away my chadar to a young transcendental trickster residing at Radha-Kunda. Even if he has a big pile of chadars from gullible Americans back home in his bhajan-kutir, still, who knows what personality he might be.

Now, drunk, tired, and mystified, we survived the last leg and now stand, nay, we sit and recline after an austerity to be always cherished. May Giriraja grant us eternal service at His feet.

Thursday, December 20, 2007

My India Diary-Part 4

Day 9 12/14 Vrndavana

I think the thing we all can agree on so far is that it's pretty hard not to think of Krsna when we're here. It's hard to put into words. For myself, I've never been so excited to chant all my rounds, all at once, and then some.

HH Sacinandana Maharaja said in his sweet evening Gita class that in the Holy Dham, sandhini-sakti is all pervading. Even the useless neophyte such as myself can have this taste, without hesitation if I'm just a little bit open, as my soul can be connected in a very direct way to the Holy Name.

The Holy Name is not an ordinary ruby or diamond. It is the cintamani gem, the true wish-fulfilling substance. If we cling to it, taste it, and meditate upon its meaning deeply, calling for help out of our miserable condition, then everywhere becomes the Dham. For now, it's nice to have the real dust upon my feet.

Another sweet sensation is being so close to Prabhupada. To be in his samadhi, in his rooms, so close to his actual presence, radiates to me a very grandfatherly warmth and protection. I pray to him for his causeless mercy so that I may indeed be of some use to Mother Earth and her inhabitants in this time of great need and change. Otherwise, we are useless without it.

Day 10 12/15 Vrndavana

There were many ways that I perfected my life today. It began as we took a tour of Mathura, offering ourselves to the holiest spots led by the transcendental tour-guideness of HG Devananda Pandit Prabhu. Our various darshans included the prison cell whee baby Krsna appeared to Vasudeva and Devaki just over 5000 years ago. Following that we also visited the birthplace of Srimati Radharani, Raval, where the sweet breeze of the most beloved of Krsna nearly trapped me to a life of making piles and piles of cow-dung patties. However, being a complete rascal, I somehow pulled myself away.

We visited Raman and Vasudeva Ghats and tasted the water of the Yamuna for the first time in this lifetime at least. A sacred moment, for this was also the place where Krsna was accused of eating mud by Balarama, and where Krsna then revealed His Universal Form to Mother Yasoda, who had come to peer into His mouth. We were then treated to a Braj Breakfast cooked by a few local pious souls, close to the spot of Damodar-Lila. The spicy curry and hot-and-fresh chapatis were the best breakfast of my life.

We finished our day in Raman-Reti, rolling in sand crushed by the surabhi cows to ease the path for the tender feet of Krsna and Balarama. This sand is more valuable than the Vaikuntha planets. At the behest of Devananda Pandit, we then engaged in wrestling pastimes. I squared off with Mauricio, and my false ego got me good. I am thinking here is a skillny physics Ph.D student from Colombia, who dances like no other, and that I will beat him. Immediately I remembered that he was a fourth-degree black belt in karate and immediately thereafter Mauricio choked me down in the Holy Dham. I've never felt so fortunate.

In the evening I rushed out to buy a pair ove overpriced kartals and was lucky enough to christen them in a kirtan led by HG Aindra Prabhu, transcendentally fulfilling my dream of being a rock star. Gulabjamuns and samosas for dinner, and I pray that I get up for mangal-arati tomorrow.

Tuesday, December 18, 2007

My India Diary-Part 3

Day 7 12/12 Delhi
Made it through 18 hours in 2-Tier AC Rajdhani Express goodness from Mumbai to Delhi. Daydreaming of wandering as a babaji through the mysterious haze of the Indian countryside begging for rice as the sun sits as a golden disc overhead, giving pleasurable darshan.
Back at ISKCON Delhi overnight, awaiting the arrival of the rest of our crew, including HG Mauricio Prabhu from our Athens, Ohio Dham, and his presence will be as sweet as a fresh rasagulla. This city is completely hellish, with exhaust fumes and untuned guitars from the Bina Music Shop fillinf my lungs and ears. The beauty of the temple, of the gaze of Sri-Sri Radha Parathasarathi is an oasis and soothing balm in the middle of millions seemingly wallowing in their own filth, internally and externally. The brahmacaris here are super fired-up for the Book Marathon (a truck with 5000 Gitas was pulling up just as we were), so at least Prabhupada's mercy flows through the congested, noisy streets and avenues

Off to Vrndavana tomorrow, ready to roll in the dust.

Day 8 12/13 Delhi-Vrndavana

Today marked the auspicious arrival of our two leading superstars from Athens, Ohio Dham: Sriman Mauricio Prabhu and Srimati Jamie Prabhu. Mauricio is one of the most unique dancers in the history of sankirtan, and the Delhi brahmacaris couldn't get enough of his groove. I told Mauricio he better be careful. He'll end up prime minister or a big Bollywoo sensation before too long.

At breakfast I was blessed with the mercy of suddenly going all-out in eating with my bare hands rather than Western spoon-style. It was ecstatic. India is feeling more and more like home.

We spent the rest of the day visiting various sites in the mood of awe and veneration. The Lotus Temple, a Bahai place of worship close to ISKCON Delhi, where silent prayer is the modus operandi. Caitanya was nearly overcome with the urge to let out a big OM in the middle of this massive concrete flower, but he behaved himself. We also took a harrowing rickshaw ride to the Swami Narayana Mandir, of which the sheer size, audacity, and complexity provoked some vibrations of deja-vu and the like, but which left the assembled Vaisnavas a little cold in the feet. Even some folks from Switzerland that we met told us they were not exactly feeling any warmth in the soul from all the assembled gold. I personally got more benefit from observing the art of haggling with taxi wallas as performed by Caitanya on our way back to the Delhi temple.

After picking up the rest of our NV crew at the airport, we took a late-night drive to Vrndavana. We arrived at 3am, taking the dust of the Holy Dham on our heads.

O Krsna, I cannot imagine or remember the pious deeds I performed to earn the privelage of being here in Vrndavana now. Let me fully imbibe what is here for me to experience in love and devotion.

Saturday, December 15, 2007

My India Diary-Part 2

Day 5 12/10 Radha-Gopinath Mandir

Mellow today. Pretty sore from doing the quick-jig with Shyamsundar during kirtan yesterday. Caitanya even got quite a welt on his head. Indian traffic-jam kirtan. Dangerous business. One has got to be greedy in the good way to floing yourself mind, body, and soul into such ecstatic displays of athleticism.

Cracked open Sri-Caitanya Mangala by Locana Dasa Thakur. Downright enchanting so far to this hard heart. Also began Spiritual Warrior IV by Bhakti-Tirtha Swami. As always, practical, real, and dripping with compassion. For example, he writes "we should never think that God has left us alone without any help or guidance and without anyway to get us out of our maya or our problems....the true spiritual warrior can never be captured by excessive anxiety because of his or her constant absorption in giving and recieving love."

Jagannath Kirtan Das is a great devotee here from Vancouver, always happy to see western faces. We discussed "The Great Change" that looms upon this Planet Earth and he related to me his realization that it really doesn't matter which part of the military-industrial-media complex is most nefarious. None of these little demons is actually in control. It's Krsna who is really running the show, and by fearing and dwelling on those who pretend to be in control, we are reflecting our lack of faith in Krsna's personal concern for the sake of all Earthlings.

We also spoke about self-sufficency and how it's an eternal need of the living entity, not dependent on external circumstances like global warming, etc. Modern culture is non-Vedic culture and is nothing new. We truly fight the power by letting Krsna pervade our heart and then giving that gift to all others.

Day 6 12/11 Train to Delhi

Currently riding the Rajdhani Express to Delhi. 18 hours. Not anything like a nightmare, though plenty of weird dreams. No bombs going off. No smells other than the usual Indian odors. Still, you don't realize until coming to India what luxury we have in the West. It's better to realize that austerity is the true wealth of the universe.

HH Candramauli Swami spike in Bhagavatam class in Chowpatty today of life in Krsna consciousness, and of the extra, less-spoken tolerance of the uncomfortable, challenging situations that Krsna places us in to purify us. It is in these situations that the art of devotional service to Guru and Gauranga can develop more and more fully.

I also recieved a lot of encouragement from HG Mahamuni Prabhu, a famed book distributor and preacher who had been on the Radha-Damodar Traveling Sankirtan Party. In his great radio voice, he instills confidence in being an ambassador of Krsna, in being all-attractive, and in being the best because we are giving the best. Keep it simple, he says. Chanting dancing feasting.

As I relate just now to a nice disciple of HH Narayana Maharaja on the train, we make it too complicated with philosophical arguments and too many fine points on what to do/what not to do. All we must do as preachers is give the Holy Name, maintain our own sadhana, and fill bellies with expert prasad. Be open, be friendly, be vessels of Gauranga's mercy. There is nothing finer and I fall at the feet of all Vaisnavas who are expert in the flooding of this mercy on this beautiful blue globe.

Monday, December 10, 2007

My India Diary-Part 1

Take a deep breath. Wash your glasses, and rub the sleep out of your eyes. Here are some impressions from the other side of the world, as myself, Caitanya Das, and Justin hit the Holy Dham.

Day 1 12/7
By the Lord's grace, we are here.
There is nothing like a cab ride to the airport, Delhi highways, early morning rush, to really make you hear the Holy Name.
14-hour plane ride to Delhi. Spent it eating airplane paneer and ginger ale, sleeping with my neck cocked sideways, dreaming about Sicilian gangsters, and reading "Taking Care of Krishna's Devotees" by HH Niranjana Swami, to learn about the mood at Radha-Gopinath Mandir.
Simplicity. Care. Sacrifice. Struggling together.
"If you are preaching, then management will follow like a shadow."
Not so simple to do. Addicted to the complicated...
In the Delhi temple overnight. Scenery is grey, wild dogs and remains of car accidents flashing by. This trip certainly isn't about the external.
Morning program is sweet, so many devotees, brahmacaris, one voice. Touched to see Justin so touched. Here we go...

Day 2 12/8 Radha-Gopinath Mandir Chowpatty Mumbai
I think the crabby body is adjusted sleep-wise, and I digested the first big prasad all right. Like I say, I'm an American boy with a South Indian stomach.
Traffic jams in Mumbai, these cities are so ugly. Where is India?
The first little piece is here at Radha-Gopinath Mandir. Shyamsundar from New Vrindaban greets us with promises of home-cooking in the days ahead, which thrills Justin to to no end.
Lucky souls that we are, always flying by the seat of our dhotis, we arrive just in the nick of time for the intimate brahmacari Vyasa-Puja of HH Radhanath Swami Maharaja.
After I get over my initial intimidation of being in a room with such fixed-up brahmacari superstars. I begin to hear and taste some sweetness. Maharaja is our spiritual father, loving, caring, even a little stern. He speaks that if we cooperate, Krsna will reciprocate. The better something is, the harder maya will try to attack, and usually in more hidden, subtle ways, leaving a broken pot that is very hard to fix. The true austerity is to not let maya in for one moment. (In like a needle, out like a plow).
Just hoping now to hear the Holy Name, that I don't embarrass myself too much, and that I, in some small way, can serve these exalted Vaisnavas.

Day 3 12/9
Today is quite the event. HH Radhanath Swami's BIG Vyasa-Puja at Cross Maidan, where Maharaja met Prabhupada for the first time.
Watching Maharaja offer puja to Prabhupada, while thousands sing along, is gigantic, cosmic, one of those moments where I can pull myself out of my problems, my hang-ups, my cold lonely hopelessness, and realize just how merciful the perfect Vaisnava sadhu is, just how correct this whole process is, and how sadhana and preaching and resounding Krsna Krsna is the real revolution.
Caitanya Das speaks in his offering of an impression I've had of Maharaja: He is like the warm. live-giving sun, and we are all just creepers, stretching out as best as we can towards his light.
Maharaja then speaks and it's another one of those "wow" moments considering the context of the present-moment, the history, and the whole transcendental exactitude of the cosmic alignment.
He speaks of the mode of goodness, transmuting its assets with Krsna at the center into real weapons of the soul. Simplicity and humility turns one into a soldier-child in the war against maya.
I also like Ghanashyam Prabhu's (from NYC) offering, his honesty and how we can't put on an outward appearance of humility forwards if that doesn't reflect what is going on in our mind, if we are criticizing other devotees. I pray to be shamed by that honesty, and I pray to to be able to surrender to Maharaja for at least a few seconds in this lifetime.

Day 4 12/10
Drinking coconut water like there is no tomorrow. Also, in India your car is not towed if you park illegal. They just deflate your tires.
Maharaj gives an epic Bhagavatam class in the morning. He says that the more we see faults in others, the more faults we carry with us. We should read the words of Ravana, of Hiranayakasipu, and understand they accurately describe many of our own negative character traits.
All is not lost, if we feed the good dog in our hearts, even though the bad dog, spoiled after lifetimes of surplus sense gratification, barks louder and louder. We can tolerate his barking if we cling to the Holy Name and to the association of the Vaisnavas.
Maharaja also speaks of the loving details of bhakti. The small gifts, soaked in love and devotion, that is better than any opulent diamond. Prabhupada was just as concerned with the smallest detail as with the big picture. As Balarama Chandra Das says, true bhakti is essential service done precisely.

Tuesday, December 4, 2007

Off to India!

Five weeks. Chowpatty, Vrndavana, Mayapur, Puri, and back to Chowpatty. HH Radhanath Swami's Vyasa-Puja, which in India is an event. This is not just a journey of the body and mind, it is a journey of consciousness. Pray I come back ready for much more of this sublime thing called devotional service. And best of all, stay tuned. The blogosphere lives in India, and I will be letting you live vicariously through me, if you want me to....

Saturday, December 1, 2007

A Day of Harinama Madness. Part 10!

We've reached the double-digits, as the madness continues, and our up-scale clientèle of Manhattan nightlife-goers continue to get treated to the Holy Name. Click here to join us!

"Excuse me, I'm passing out this wonderful book"

Just got back from eight days and nights distributing the transcendental literature of His Divine Grace A.C Bhaktivedanta Swami Srila Prabhupada. I traveled with the expert distributor himself, HG Ananda Vidya Prabhu, disciple of HH Danavir Goswami, in the legendary white Dodge Sprinter sankirtan van.

Being quite an independent-minded person, this is a very ideal service for me. No spaced-out hassles. No uncontrollable disorganization. Just you, the books, Krishna and Prabhupada's mercy, and the people of the world.

We began on "Black Friday", the dreaded day-after-Thanksgiving shopping-a-thon in the assorted malls of Pittsburgh PA, getting out a lot of books and hopefully pushing a few more people away from the dying goose that is materialistic culture.

We also enjoyed HG Caitanya Prabhu almost getting tasered by some serious rent-a-cops, and also some serious "life stories" from our main man, Bhakta Cosmo.

The rest of the week was spent in various colleges in Ohio (The University of Akron, Kent State, Youngstown State). As Ananda Vidya truthfully stated, the kids in Ohio are real sweet and open to higher knowledge.

The real treat for myself was meeting so many different people and sharing a few moments of loving interaction beyond the material mundane. Even if they couldn't take a book, there was a lot of warmth shared in the early-winter wind.

My personal M.O was to find the main library, stand outside of its main doors for hours straight, and sublimely shove Gitas and Isopanisads into the hands of many who walked by. My "sales pitch" was to tell the kids these books were about higher knowledge, and practical techniques, like mantra meditation, to get rid of stress and come to a clearer view of reality.

I always tried to make the exchanges personal, asking them their name and what they were studying (biology and arts mainly). I even met a gentleman from Ann Arbor, Michigan, my abode of the last seven years of my life.

The only real difficulties were a lot of second-hand cigarette smoke, the occasional uncomfortable conversation with a "born-again" (hey, I got no problem with reading the Bible!), and the sometimes austere traveling conditions (cold sleeping conditions, in-van heaters that took a bite out of your sleeping bag if you got too close, and no hot-and-spicy maha-prasad).

But these were small sacrifices to make, and I surely got the purifying effect I was looking for before heading off to India next week.

My main realizations were that so many of these bright, young students are like "ripe fruits", waiting for something higher to guide them forwards. As they took Prabhupada's books, we leave it in his capable hands to give them that new vision into what is real and what is love.

Also, I realized more and more that Krsna is certainly the doer. Even at my most spaced-out and unmotivated, still some books left my cold hands, for warm, new hands. I take no credit (I've always had quite an aversion to being a salesman), and I pray to be able to become more and more of an instrument for the mercy of Lord Caitanya. Indeed, I have no other alternative in this world.

Thursday, November 22, 2007

A Day of Harinama Madness, Part 9!

Boys will be boys on Saturday night on 1st Ave in Manhattan. I mean, what else is there to do besides chant the Holy Name at the top of your lungs. The brahmacaris from the Bhaktivedanta Ashram in Manhattan and from New Vrindaban in the holy hills of west Virginia certainly can't think of any better to do. The proof is in the pudding!

Click here for quite a sidewalk parade.

Srimad-Bhagavatam Meditation: 2:3:18

It is once again time for a guided meditation on the ripened fruit of the tree of Vedic knowledge, the Srimad-Bhagavatam.

I humbly ask you to read first the translation and Bhaktivedanta purport to today's verse, the 18th verse from the Third Chapter of the Second Canto

taravaḥ kiḿ na jīvanti
kiḿ na śvasanty uta
khādanti na mehanti
grāme paśavo 'pare

Do the trees not live? Do the bellows of the blacksmith not breathe? All around us, do the beasts not eat and discharge semen?

Prabhupada sums up the whole darn situation pretty straight when he writes in the purport that "The modern man wants to live forever by the advancement of material science, and there are many foolish theories for prolonging life to the maximum duration. But the Śrīmad-Bhāgavatam affirms that life is not meant for so-called economic development or advancement of materialistic science for the hedonistic philosophy of eating, mating, drinking and merrymaking. Life is solely meant for tapasya, for purifying existence so that one may enter into eternal life just after the end of the human form of life."

This pushing forward of tapasya at the expense of personal enjoyment is one of the foundations of the revolution in consciousness that we are trying to spread via the teachings of the parampara, and it is one of the most difficult aspects. After all, we know from our own personal experience, via our cultural upbringing, especially in the West, that we aren't exactly chomping at the bit to give up all we find comfortable, pleasurable, and soothing.

Prabhupada was keenly aware of this. He knew because of the various sundry influences of the age of Kali, we were not meant for the traditional forms of tapasya like sitting and fasting and controlling the breath in the examples of Parkisit Maharaja and Dhruva Maharaja.

In the purport to SB 10:3:34-35, Prabhupada writes "human life is meant not for becoming a hog or dog, but for tapo divyam [SB 5.5.1], transcendental austerity. Everyone should be taught to undergo austerity, tapasya. Although it may not be possible to undergo tapasya like that of Påçni and Sutapä, the sästra has given an opportunity for a method of tapasya very easy to perform—the sankirtan movement.....yet simply by chanting the Hare Krsna mahä-mantra (kirtanäd eva krsnasya [SB 12.3.51]), one can become so pure that one becomes free from all the contamination of this material world (mukta-saìgaù) and goes back home, back to Godhead (paraà vrajet). "

So, there's no doubt about it. We can't avoid austerity, we have to give up material sense enjoyment, but this seemingly impossible process is made easy simply by chanting, with all sincerity, the Hare Krsna maha-mantra. This is the mercy of the panca-tattva.

HG Balarama Chandra Prabhu spoke nicely in relation to this in his Bhagavatam class this morning. One point he made was that when we think of establishing varnasrama, there is a tendency among devotees (myself included) to think of farm life, cow protection, and the like.

These aspects are certainly essential to Prabhupada's vision of varnasrama, but we must not forget or ignore the actual developing of the varnas, or the development of brahminical consciousness, as being the most important aspect. We can't begin to develop self-sufficient lifestyles in our communities without the proper consciousness preceding it.

This summer, I remember being told that one devotee who was visiting had been helping in some harvesting in our Garden of Seven Gates here at New Vrindaban, and at one point he suddenly got very fed up and stopped, saying that he wasn't there to do "slave work." I was very much taken aback by his strong, negative response to some very needful service. I understand more now that his consciousness was not in the right place to understand and appreciate the austerity of the service he was performing.

For anyone who harvests crops, and for anyone who's not used to harvesting crops, it is austere work. As we really don't like in this age to have to undergo austerities, unless we have developed a strong consciousness as to why we should perform services that are difficult for us, we will think of it simply as "slave work."

Chanting the maha-mantra is our main austerity, and as we develop an appreciation and real taste for the Holy Name, then we will not find other austerities so difficult.

I also like Prabhupada's image of the "polished animal" or "persons who are simply engaged in planning a better type of animal life consisting of eating, breathing and mating". These "polished animals cannot benefit suffering humanity, for an animal can easily harm another animal but rarely do good."

By doing all we can to get out onto the streets and spread the resounding sound of the Holy Name, we can provide the actual benefit, the highest benefit. We can strip away the polish, break down the animal instincts, and let the light of the soul we shine through. When we actually experience that bliss, how can anything in Krsna consciousness be considered an austerity?

Wednesday, November 21, 2007

A Day of Harinama Madness, Part 8!

Our fearless transcendental warriors now emerge from the cavernous subways and hit the steamy nighttime streets of 1st Ave in the Lower East Side of Manhattan. Check out via the magic of recorded video, produced by the one-and-only Bhakta Kerel of NYC fame.

Click here and here for all the mayhem!

And remember, no one may care about your soul if you smell bad...

Tuesday, November 20, 2007

A Day of Harinama Madness, Part 7!

The fun in the subway continues!, as Part 7 of "A Day of Harinama Madness" is all up in your daily sadhana. Click here for full satisfaction, and also admire the charismatic preaching abilities of Hg Caitanya Das Brahmacari.

Monday, November 19, 2007

A Day of Harinama Madness, Part 6!

Today we go way down, into the caverns of Manhattan known as the "subways" bringing harinama sankirtana to the nighttime travelers of NYC, and also all assembled species of animal life, such as the legendary subway rat, as we continue the Day of Harinama Madness featuring the brahmacaris of Manhattan and New Vrindaban.

Click here for all of the fun.

Sunday, November 18, 2007

A Day of Harinama Madness, Part 5!

The madness continues here and here as we are treated to a sparkling kirtan from the finest of the NYC (Ananta Govinda on mrdanga, Akincana Krishna on harmonium and vocals) and Alacuha Bhajan crews (Visvambhar and Bali on mrdanga), live from the Radha-Govinda Mandir in Brooklyn. Filmed and produced by the impeccable Bhakta-Kerel.

Also, to back up a bit, here's Part 2 of the madness, as HH Radhanath Swami leads the assembled masses at Radha-Govinda Mandir in Brooklyn.

Wow, three videos in one! Don't hurt yourself!

Saturday, November 17, 2007

A Day of Harinama Madness, Part 4!

Not sure what happened to Part 2 and 3, but as advertised, here is today's edition of "A Day of Harinama Madness" produced by my main compadre Bhakta-Kerel from the ashram on the island of Manhattan. Today, we feature one of the most ecstatic kirtans ever!! as HH Radhanath Swami leads the charge at the Radha-Govinda Mandir in Brooklyn, NYC.

Friday, November 16, 2007

A Day of Harinama Madness

For your viewing, listening, and soulful pleasure, featuring the combined transcendental antics of the Brahmacari Ashram of NYC and New Vrindaban live in the Big Apple, here is Part 1 of the brand-new feature film "A Day of Harinama Madness!". Guaranteed to make you leave your car-seat, office-seat, or even plane-seat to hit the streets blasting the Holy Name boom-box style for the benefit of all of our friendly living entities.

This is a five-part series, so stay tuned in the days ahead for more MADNESS~!

Monday, November 12, 2007

Open....The Film

Open is a short film about seeing beyond the surface, opening and extending one's heart in times of need, and of communication, especially on a spiritual level. As co-writer and director Satish More (aka Sri-Kishore Das) of Athens, Ohio puts it: "

"I can’t close my eyes to the truth; neither can I turn my back.

Another thing that I have always held close to my heart: “The Art-form is just the carrier of the consciousness of the artist to the audience. It doesn’t mean anything in and of itself.” Have a machine draw a picture and let’s see how many people “feel” it.

I want to form a crew that can feel and understand my urge and can be conscious of it during the making of this film. Only then will it deliver that consciousness to the audience.

I want to learn the skill of pulling off an efficient project which is carefully planned and artistically decorated by people of the right mindset.

I repeat mindset, consciousness, because it is important. At least it is to me."

Check out the website for Open by clicking the link here, and also check out this link for some of the works Sri-Kishore has already accomplished for the pleasure of Guru and Gauranga.

Knowing Sri-Kishore personally, I aspire to simply follow in the footsteps of his sincere ambition, holding a boom-mic here, setting up some lights for him there, and maybe one day doing a film together. He's a rare soul in this world. Driven by his heart of gold.

Thursday, November 8, 2007

Bombs Over Baghdad

Here's a recent report from HG Parathi-Sarathi Prabhu of his exploits in spreading the nectar and mercy of the Holy Name during his current tour of duty in Iraq for the United States Army.
All of our utmost sincere blessings and prayers go out to you prabhu! We look forward to seeing you soon.

By Partha-sarathi dasa

Dear Devotees, please accept my obeisance’s. glories to Srila Prabhupada Hare Krsna, Happy Kartika,. Here is my report on my precahing activities in Iraq.

I have set up book stands in 4 different locations on the base and every 3 days they are dry…. all gone. At the moment we are approaching 700 books out. So nectar!!!

We also have 12 bhaktas that are reading and chanting regularly. Our programs are spreading, now I host a mantra meditation class once a week and also Mondays and Fridays I have a small program of bhajans and prasadam. We are also distributing cookies on 3 different base camps thanks to Rathna Bushana Prabhu with an average of 1000 cookies out a week. Recently I reached out to the Indians that work here and am having a weekly program with them as-well. I am giving a presentation on the Lord’s lifting of Gorvadhana Hill on Sat, 10 Nov to about 200-300 Indian body contract workers.

My diet is ok.. mostly I am eating raw and dry fruits, dahl with only turmeric, cumin, and small amounts of salt, very simple food (maybe because I cannot get anything else). I also a, following caturmasya this year strictly and for the Kartika, I have increased the number of rounds I am chanting and my reading as my vrata. And have never missed a round of japa since arriving here. Bhakti Sastri is moving along and am not in the 6th chapter soo much nectar.

The Ratha Yatra was all set to go, but Krsna had another plan.. so now the hard date is Jan, which is great becasue all the Indian’s want to be involved. But like in all areas of the material world…. there are bad times… one of my soldiers died in my arms, that hit hard becuase he did service for my Lords. But I was told he said Krsna before he left, so that gives some solance. Also I have been hit with a lot of iEDs, took a round, lost some hearing and some more and I am only 5 months in.

Also Krsna gave me the strength to lead my team through a mass casualty event, where after suicide attacks in the North, we had to treat over 60 men, women and children. The real material world. nothing more sobering then having to put some little child’s brain matter back in their head while still trying to focus on speaking Krsna Katha to the dying child. Some died but l always carry Sri Ugraji with me and His smile was seen by them before they left their bodies. So powerful this movement, this process. Krsna is helping me here and showing me how special this life is. .

Here is my report, submitted at your lotus feet. I pray that Krsna helps me out of this situation and I can help others outside the military come to Srila Prabhupada’s feet.

Your servant Partha-sarathi dasa

Saturday, November 3, 2007

The Thought Police

The demoniac want to make a show of religion and advancement in spiritual science, although they do not follow the principles. They are always arrogant or proud in possessing some type of education or so much wealth. They desire to be worshiped by others, and demand respectability, although they do not command respect. Over trifles they become very angry and speak harshly, not gently. They do not know what should be done and what should not be done. They do everything whimsically, according to their own desire, and they do not recognize any authority. These demoniac qualities are taken on by them from the beginning of their bodies in the wombs of their mothers, and as they grow they manifest all these inauspicious qualities.
(Gita, Bhaktivedanta purport to 16.4

Here's a interesting and fairly disturbing article on a new piece of legislation straight from the U.S House of Representatives, which may signal a further descent of our surrounding society into a well-detailed dystopian sci-fi novel. Fun to read, but pretty tough to live in. Link is right below.

Saturday, October 20, 2007

"Serving Love"

If y'all head on over to, you can check out the feature "Serving Love", a film about the awesome and ecstatic Vegan Cooking Workshop prasad program run by the monks of the New Vrindaban Brahmacari Ashram.

This film was made by HG Sri-Kishore Das, a super-friend of the Brahmacari Ashram and New Vrindaban Community, currently working for his master's degree in Film at Ohio University. This earthly planet will no doubt hear and see a lot more from Sri-Kishore, for he is a soul of great determination, drive, heart, and appetite!

Sunday, October 14, 2007

The New Vrindaban Radio Programming Guide

Please accept my humble obesiances
All glories to Srila Prabhupada!

Greetings from New Vrindaban Dham. This past Friday, our application for an FM airwave frequency was sent through to the mighty Federal Communications Commission, and within the next 1-2 months, we will find out if New Vrindaban Dham has been awarded its own FM radio station.

As we anticipate the final decision, I just wanted to unveil to you, the friends and well-wishers of Club 108, a early Programming Guide of possible programs we are planning to do for our FM station.

What we are seeking from you is your input to the Programming guide, i.e what additional programs you would like to see, and also we are seeking advice and hands-on help to get the station up-and-running, especially in terms of getting ourselves hooked up to the Internet, where devotees worldwide could share in our programming.

As always, your help and guidance is essential to our projects

Thank you very much for your time
your humble servant
Bhakta-Chris, Club 108, New Vrindaban Dham

without further is the Programming Guide

Introduction to Krishna Consciousness-A weekly educational series which explores the basics of our philosophy, based on the teachings from the Bhagavad-Gita As It Is. Topics will include Dharma, Karma, Reincarnation, The Nature of the Cosmos, Our Real Position, Matter vs Spirit, Reincarnation, and Spiritual Vegetarianism. (59 min weekly program, recorded)

The Lectures of Srila Prabhupada-A series of the essential lectures and teachings given by His Divine Grace A.C Srila Prabhupada, the Founder-Acarya of the International Society of Krsna Consciousness (88 min daily program, recorded)

Radio Free Krishna-A feature in-studio program with live interviews, musical performances, spiritual discussions, vegetarian recipes, live dramas, and other assorted goodies. Bringing the vibrant atmosphere of the New Vrindaban Community into your very home (88 min weekly program, live)

The Great Teachers of Krsna Consciousness-
A series of essential lectures and teachings given by some of the most advanced devotees and leaders of the International Society for Krsna Consciousness. This program will include lectures and talks by such exalted souls as HH Radhanath Swami, HH Gour Govinda Swami, HH Bhakti-Tirtha Swami, and many more (88 min daily program, recorded)

The Sounds of the Lord-The transcendent sounds of the sankirtan movement, as the Holy Names of the Lord resound through many different musical genres, from classical Indian ragas to rock and roll to reggae. Featuring a wide variety of classical and contemporary artists, with occasional live performances. (88 min daily program, recorded and live)

The Vedic Classics-Selected readings from the tree of spiritual knowledge, the Vedas. Readings will be taken from the Bhagavad-Gita, Srimad-Bhagavatam, Caitanya-Charitamrta, and other works translated by Srila Prabhupada. Discussion of read works will also be included. (59 min daily program, recorded)

Vegan and Vegetarian Cooking-A delightful and delicious program featuring discussion of the art and philosophy of spiritual vegetarianism, and of course we will have presentations of world-class recipes from our tradition. A feast for the ears and the stomach. (29 min weekly program, recorded)

The Garden of Devotion-An educational program on how to grow many different fruits and vegetables for the pleasure of the Supreme Lord. This program will discuss methods and technologies for successful organic gardening, from planting to harvesting and beyond. (29 min weekly program, recorded)

The Sustainable Spiritual Revolution-A discussion on fascinating topics, articles, ideas, and solutions geared towards the idea that the only successful movement of environmental sustainability must be based on spiritual values. This program will included interviews and discussion with a variety of guests from many spiritual and secular fields. (29 min weekly program, recorded and live)

New Vrindaban Today-A public affairs program discussing issues important to the residents of the New Vrindaban Community (29 min weekly program, recorded and live)

Srimad-Bhagavatam Temple Class-A daily recording of the morning’s class on the essential Vedic classic Srimad-Bhagavatam, the ripened fruit of the tree of Vedic knowledge. (59 min daily program, recorded)

New Vrindaban Youth Power-A program hosted by members of the New Vrindaban Brahmacari Ashram and Youth Community, focusing on issues relating to the next generation of Krsna Conscious outreach. This program will feature interview, discussion, music, and improvised segments. (29 min weekly program, recorded and live)

New Vrindaban Memories-
Members of the New Vrindaban Community share stories and pastimes of the long history of spirit and devotion here in the hills of West Virginia. (29 min weekly program, recorded)

Thursday, October 11, 2007

On the road again...

This past weekend, select reps of the New Vrindaban Brahmacari Ashram packed inside into HG Ananda Vidya Prabhu's legendary white Sprinter book distribution van and did one of the things we do best (besides exceptional vegan cooking, charismatic cultivation of pious college youth, and soul-jiving kirtan), which is falling into a deep sleep to the hum of the freeway.

Many thanks to HG Pradyumna Prabhu and family (Manish, Nisha, and Vinay) for hosting us and setting up a wonderful program with members of the Baltimore Bhakti-Vrksa congregation on Friday night, and also bigs ups to HG Gauravani Prabhu and family for another wonderful Sacred Sound program.

We'll be back soon!

Here are some photographic impressions...

Wednesday, October 10, 2007

Parallel universes really do exist?

This leaves me in quite a quandary, as there is nothing I've come across in my reading of Prabhupada's books that comes even close to incorporating the theory of parallel universes.

How can we, as individual souls, have a bunch of so-called "clone souls" experiencing all possibilities of every situation that we encounter? There is nothing I've encountered yet in the Vedic paradigm that has anything to do with this bizarre, impersonal, and seemingly ludicrous theory.

Original article linked here

Parallel universes really do exist, according to a mathematical discovery by Oxford scientists described by one expert as "one of the most important developments in the history of science". The parallel universe theory, first proposed in 1950 by the US physicist Hugh Everett, helps explain mysteries of quantum mechanics that have baffled scientists for decades, it is claimed. In Everett's "many worlds" universe, every time a new physical possibility is explored, the universe splits. Given a number of possible alternative outcomes, each one is played out - in its own universe. A motorist who has a near miss, for instance, might feel relieved at his lucky escape. But in a parallel universe, another version of the same driver will have been killed. Yet another universe will see the motorist recover after treatment in hospital. The number of alternative scenarios is endless. It is a bizarre idea which has been dismissed as fanciful by many experts. But the new research from Oxford shows that it offers a mathematical answer to quantum conundrums that cannot be dismissed lightly - and suggests that Dr Everett, who was a Phd student at Princeton University when he came up with the theory, was on the right track. Commenting in New Scientist magazine, Dr Andy Albrecht, a physicist at the University of California at Davis, said: "This work will go down as one of the most important developments in the history of science." According to quantum mechanics, nothing at the subatomic scale can really be said to exist until it is observed. Until then, particles occupy nebulous "superposition" states, in which they can have simultaneous "up" and "down" spins, or appear to be in different places at the same time. Observation appears to "nail down" a particular state of reality, in the same way as a spinning coin can only be said to be in a "heads" or "tails" state once it is caught. According to quantum mechanics, unobserved particles are described by "wave functions" representing a set of multiple "probable" states. When an observer makes a measurement, the particle then settles down into one of these multiple options. The Oxford team, led by Dr David Deutsch, showed mathematically that the bush-like branching structure created by the universe splitting into parallel versions of itself can explain the probabilistic nature of quantum outcomes.
© Copyright Press Association Ltd 2007, All Rights Reserved.

Thursday, October 4, 2007

The Club 108 blog!

Check out the brand-new Club 108 blog, and stay with us on the cusp of progressive outreach, live from the Holy Dham of New Vrindaban

Club 108 is the progressive arm of New Vrindaban outreach, combining the practices and beliefs of Krsna Conscious life with the power of modern technology, making connections between the best of Eastern and Western cultures. "Sight-Sound-Vision" is our motto, as we strive to serve the ISKCON community and beyond with experiences designed to immerse you deeper in the most sublime of spiritual experiences. We are also deeply connected and motivated to the ideals of spiritual self-sufficiency as envisioned by Srila Prabhupada, being put into practice here at New Vrindaban in many wonderful ways. Join us and stay tuned!

Wednesday, October 3, 2007

Srimad-Bhagavatam Meditation 2:1:4

It is once again time for a guided meditation on the ripened fruit of the tree of Vedic knowledge, the Srimad-Bhagavatam.

I humbly ask you to read first the translation and Bhaktivedanta purport to today's verse, the 4th verse from the 1st Chapter of the 2nd Canto.

ātma-sainyeṣv asatsv api
pramatto nidhanaḿ
paśyann api na paśyati

Persons devoid of ātma-tattva do not inquire into the problems of life, being too attached to the fallible soldiers like the body, children and wife. Although sufficiently experienced, they still do not see their inevitable destruction.

In my heady college days, I was well-versed in the works and ideas of such psychedelic ice-cream men as Timothy Leary and Robert Anton Wilson. Whether blissed out in some deep part of the solar system, or even with plenty of time on their hands in a California prison cell, both men were adamant that by the time the 21st Century rolled around, we would have the "technical means to live forever" on this beautiful blue globe.

Enjoyment of all the various and nefarious substances being passed around would no longer be encumbered by the anxieties of bodily discomfort and dissolution. A new utopia would rise up from the seas, ushering in an age of abundant freedom that our currently puny minds could not possibly conceive of.

Sounded pretty cool to me. I could really feel that these gentleman were on the real cusp of consciousness, really pushing at the boundaries of our rotten culture of commodities, conformity, and the plain-ol get-a-job get-a-house get-a-coffin death game. When I excitedly shared these ideas with a good friend of mine, instead of getting a high-five and a “right on, maaan!”, I got a blank stare and a pretty indignant response. The response could be summarized thusly: Who is Timothy Leary, and who are you, to play God and decide that the experience of death is no longer necessary? Who are you to say that you are morally responsible enough to “live forever”, and thus to decide who also gets to share in this great bounty? Who are you to impose such an unnatural thing on the already perfectly structured natural order of existence for all living entities?

Prabhupada states it pretty bluntly at the beginning of this purport. The material world is called the world of death. Prabhupada would also often say never to put your hope in any future, no matter how bright or charming it may be. There are so many possible avenues of electronic enlightenment, so many shiny possibilities of immortality (cryonic preservation of the body, of which Dr. Leary partook of, comes to mind) in the material future that it becomes a conscious necessity of anyone in the bodily concept of life to do whatever they can to preserve themselves for as long as possible.

It’s so easy! If you just refuse to focus your eyes to see things as they actually are, then this Planet Earth really looks like a nice place to spend the whole of eternity. There is such an abundance of pretty hills, pretty girls, fast cars, sports bars, video games, instant fame, big big movie stars, fill that wine in your jar, etc and beyond. Who wouldn’t want to become immortal in such an abode of dazzling sensual delight.

Prabhupada, in the purport to verse 3 of the Narada-Bhakti-Sutra, writes “One who is convinced that he is eternally a servitor of the Supreme Lord is called immortal because he has realized his constitutional position of immortality. Unless one can understand his position as a living entity and an eternal servitor of the Lord, there is no question of immortality. But one who accepts these facts becomes immortal. In other words, those who are under the misconception that the living entity and the Supreme Lord are equal in all respects, both qualitatively and quantitatively, are mistaken, and they are still bound to remain in the material world. They cannot rise to the position of immortality.”

It is a natural inclination to want to live forever. Death is not a condition the spirit soul is ever inclined to undergo, so the natural revulsion of the living entity towards death is not something to be shunned. Lately, I have been meditating upon the fact that while this earthly planet holds all the delights mentioned above, and while it’s very easy to get caught up and attached in even the most innocent of our surroundings, unless one actively comes to the realization that nothing of this planet, and nothing of this material world, can guarantee any sense of happiness, then it will be very difficult to make any kind of serious spiritual advancement, no matter how pious or environmentally-friendly you are.

Prabhupada further writes in the purport to this verse that no one will survive in this struggle with material nature. The history of human society definitely proves it, yet the foolish people still suggest that in the future they will be able to live perpetually, with the help of material science. This poor fund of knowledge exhibited by human society is certainly misleading, and it is all due to ignoring the constitution of the living soul. Individually and on a mass scale, we forget the history of personal and cultural death all around us, so we are doomed to repeat it. Of course, I may be adding some morbid energy where it’s not needed, but just look at the headlines. Who would want to live, or even bring a child into the future of this world the way it’s headed, which is like something out of a Philip K. Dick novel.

It is absolutely urgent that we express this sublime culture of love that is Krsna consciousness, and it is absolutely urgent that we have the courage and freedom of action and thought to examine where, how, and why we are still attached to this earthly planet, to this material nature. The only possible way for truly positive energy to come out in full force is through steady and committed spiritual practice, and through giving this gift with as much sincerity as we can muster.

We must not abandon or fall into a sense of aversion as to our duty on this planet at this time, a planet in which Krsna Himself, in numerous incarnations, has sported and charmed His pure devotees. This world is not our home, but it is a testing ground, a school of love, with many hard knocks, to see if we are sincere and capable enough of following in some pretty transcendental footsteps. So, we have to rise above! Now is the time to do so much more than just simply decorating the dead body of the material world.

Friday, September 28, 2007

The Small Farm Training Center

Check out the new blog for Club 108, New Vrindaban's progressive outreach hub, at

The Small Farm and Teaching Garden, a project of SANTEE Farm and Gardens, hosted this past weekend Dr. Barbara Liedle and three graduate students visiting from West Virginia State University.

Dr. Liedle, a research scientist has chosen the 6.5 acre Garden of Seven Gates, our main agricultural project here at New Vrindaban, another grant to test organically grown seed lines.

This project, called the Organic Seed Partnership, collects data from field green crops such as bell peppers. summer squash, winter squash, tomatoes, and okra. Dr. Liedle and the grad students harvested 50 bushels of butternut squash. The produce that is produced will be utilized by the RVC Temple kitchen and the Lodge snack bar.

Following the arduous, rewarding, and sometimes odorous task (rotten squash doesn't smell like strawberries), our guests also toured the Palace of Gold and ate sumptous amounts of Krsna prasadam. We thank them kindly for their involvement and interest with New Vrindaban in this progressive project.

Here are some photographic highlights:

A Club 108 production

For more info on Club 108, New Vrindaban's progressive outreach hub, please e-mail us at

Thursday, September 27, 2007

The Saffron Revolution

Here's a link to an article from today's The Independent detailing some of the recent developments from the situation in Burma, where thousands of Buddhist monks are at the center of a popular uprising against the military junta running the country's infrastructures.

As devotees of Krsna, we are also apt to throw ourselves into chaotic social situations, but our tendency is rather to feed the hungry and comfort the afflicted, as devotees organized with Food For Life did in the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina and the Indonesian Tsunami in 2005.

Still, what if we were being prevented from entering our own temples? From engaging in our worship? If devotees were being beaten and killed in the streets by state-police forces? Such totalitarian hell may seem to be only the product of the Third World, but it's closer to home than you think.

The example of the monks in Burma is inspiring for their courage and conviction, but we as devotees must also take caution. Fighting the demons of this world at this time is usually not best served by such a direct approach. Prabhupada taught us many techniques of "guerilla spiritual warfare" (distributing books, prasadam, etc), and these are our main tools.

Still, as spiritual warriors, who knows what the future holds, and what kind of courageous stands we will have to make if things turn for the worse in our overly chaotic global situation. For now, we should send our prayers to the people of Burma that they may be able to shake loose the chains that are binding them without too much blood being shed.

Tuesday, September 18, 2007

The 2007 Detroit Ratha-Yatra

A photographic peek into the 2007 Detroit Ratha-Yatra, held this past Sunday, September 16, complete with The Festival of India, live at Belle Isle.

Sri-Sri Radha Kunjibihari, ISKCON Detroit, always welcoming me home....

The "Motor City Mahajana" Bharata Prabhu, basking in the glow..Sriman Joe "JoeDasa" Swift Prabhu, working the crowds for the pleasure of Lord Jagannath
HG Yugal Kishore Prabhu was the MVP (Most Valuable Prabhu) of the Parade. His dancing lifted all to newer and better heights, way above the ugly industrial landscapes of Metro Detroit. Traveling with him, watching him always preach with such vigor and realization, seeing the way devotees respect and confide in him, I feel very privileged to be his preferred driver, sometimes-humble servant, and very good friend

Shashi, our very good friend from ISKCON Toronto, gets ready to entertain the guests and scare the kids in his role as Kamsa in HH Bhakti-Marg Swami's wonderful bit of theater "Tenth Canto"