Saturday, May 26, 2007

Water, Water Everywhere.....

Last Tuesday night, at a jam-packed program at the Astanga Yoga Studio and Sri Ganesh Temple in Manhattan, His Holiness Radhanath Swami spoke about the need to clean the pollution from the ecology of our hearts,so that we will be able to clean the pollution from the ecology of our surrounding natural environment.

Maharaja gave a startling, personal example, in which he related that during a recent visit to the Himalayan Mountains, the same mountains he had wandered through thirty-five years ago in search of the Truth, he noticed that the formerly pure-white snow-capped peaks had become stained gray and black from the immense air pollution spewing from India's major cities.

He then related a very sobering bit of news he had heard from one of his scientist associates, in which because of this pollution and its resultant climatic alterations, there is every chance that two of India's biggest and most sacred rivers, the Ganges and the Yamuna, may dry up by 2050.

The fact is that the body of this planet and our own physical and emotional bodies are on the verge of chaotic collapse. Who can chant Hare Krsna in the streets of Manhattan when the streets of Manhattan have been swallowed up by the Atlantic Ocean?

My first reaction, being a prideful rascal, was one of dare I say pleasure to hear one of the most spiritual personalities alive on this planet using the plight of our earthly environment to forcibly get across his point of the drastic need for a immediate re-spiritualization of the planet.

As I try to become more absorbed on this path of devotion to Krsna, to rid myself of my lusty attachment to all that is material, I cannot shake the plain truth that unless we as devotees move more towards the forefront of the worldwide movement for sustainability, we will be losing a grand portion of our ability to spread the rays of the benediction moon that is this sankirtana movement.

What must we do within our institution of ISKCON to make these environmental issues a priority in our outreach? What can we do as individual devotees and as individual temples to help make these issues a priority? At New Vrindaban, even though we live in a vegetarian community and are trying to systematically protect a number of cows, we struggle to convince the majority of the community to not use wasteful styrofoam, and previous composting and recycling programs have been lost in a haze of inefficiency and indifference. It is a very uphill battle.

Radhanath Swami said that the waters of the Ganges are always completely pure, but when mixed with polluted elements, the waters appear to be unclean. We must remember that the Ganga water, like the nature of the soul, is never contaminated.

Like the filtering of this water, we must begin by filtering out all polluted elements within our selves so that we can face the challenges of this world with positive, forward-thinking consciousness. True action begins within ourselves, but we must begin now, and move quickly, because it may already be too late.

Friday, May 25, 2007

Manhattan Impressions

Reporting from the center of the Universal Capital of Maya, Manhattan, USA....

Every part of one's individual nature gets bombarded the moment you exit the Holland Tunnel. The senses begin to jump and shout, the mind suffers from whiplash as the eyes desperately yank it from one visual "delight" to the next, and the body suffers from foul odors, car horns, and the threat of imminent termination due to whatever today's social-political situation happens to be.

I'm beginning to lose my wide-eyed stare towards NYC. I begin to realize and agree with Caitanya's opinion that this whole gigantic artificial apparatus is simply not good for one's health.

However, the soul gets solace as well. Of that, there can be no question, because I'm surrounded by the best group of brahmacaris in the world, the Manhattan Ashram All-Stars.

As we hit the steaming streets for harinama, bringing the Holy Names of the Lord to where they are needed most, so many impressions take me. I think about all this city has had to go through in the last six years, and how these citizens, shell-shocked from falling skyscrapers and the usual traffic jams, actually have a tremendous, merciful openness to the sound of the Lord.

Hare Krsna is part of the fabric of this city. The dust of Prabhupada's footsteps is embedded in the concrete. Our robe-wearing, funny-haircut, booming-drum parade of misfits is actually a welcome sight for nine out of ten New Yorkers. From street-sleeper to soccer-mom, we are greeted with smiles, folded palms, and those two magic words....Hare Krsna.

But there is little time for romance. All around us, The Beast rises, whispering that we are too late, that the time of devouring of all that is pure and holy is near at hand. Maybe if we hadn't spent twenty years devouring ourselves as a society....The Beast wants to test our faith....I think The Beast is very ignorant of who he's up against.

In the Srimad-Bhagavatam, Prabhupada writes that "Unless one is convinced of a better life after renunciation of the present life, one cannot stick to the renounced order of life simply by artificial dress or staying out of the home."

All at the same time, being in America's most first-class ashram whilst being in the middle of raging passions unencumbered, I realize I'm not quite convinced of this better life yet, but that looking outside, I can see whatever attachments I still have give off a temporary, noisy stench, and that the more I chant Hare Krsna for myself and for the benefit of others, the more I'll actually become something more than just an American boy pretending in Vaisnava clothes.

Thursday, May 24, 2007


There are a few legitimate Vedic sports, and wrestling is one of them. This is what happens when five brahmacaris are cooped up in our very small Honda Civic Dasa for hours on end.

All I know after getting beat senseless is not to mess with THE JUGGERNAUT (AKA THE JAGANATOR)!!

Tuesday, May 22, 2007

The Unexpected

On our way back from ISKCON Potomac's Sunday love feast, relishing a full day of taking prasad, kirtan, taking prasad, kirtan, taking prasad, and some kirtan, I was driving Dodge Civic Dasa, full of our NV Brahmacari Action Team, back to the house of our awesome host Pradyumna Prabhu (pa of Potomac/Baltimore's awesome brotherly duo of Vinay Prabhu and Manish Prabhu)

Jagadish and I, as devotees do sometimes, were discussing the possibilities and realities of the demonic influences currently in control of our earthly planet when the Rockefellers and the lizard-alien-men decided we were getting too close to the truth. Going 70 MPH, I suddenly heard a loud bang as our right rear tire exploded, and Civic Dasa began to swerve wildly over five lanes of good ol' American highway.

This had never happened to me before whilst driving, but I avoided panic, and by the merciful intervention of the Supreme Personality of Godhead, was able to lurch the car over to the side of the road.

About two seconds into the episode, I heard Caitanya chanting Hare Krsna very loudly from the back seat. I was pretty focused on becoming the steering wheel and trying to avoid any oncoming cars, so I was glad somebody was on top of their transcendental game.

Amazingly, despite having been surrounded by the crazy Maryland traffic for most of the time we were on the highway, when the tire blew and Civic Dasa started to go this-way-and-that, there was not a car within a mile of us.

The lessons I take from this. Pray harder, chant better, and check the air in the tires often.

The Baltimore Ratha-Yatra

With college preaching season el finito, this means the New Vrindaban Brahmacari Action Team (Balarama Chandra, Gauranga Kishore, Caitanya, Jagadish Caitanya, Bhakta-Dan and my lowly self) crams like sardines into our Dodge Civic Dasa and hits the road for various transcendental reasons.

On our way to New York City to see Radhanath Swami, we stopped first in Baltimore for their fifth annual Festival of Chariots, the Ratha-Yatra, in which the divine smiling visages of Lords Jagannath, Baladeva, and Subhadra are paraded through the downtown streets, surrounded by hundreds of ecstatic, dancing devotees, for all to see and take merciful blessings from.

Big ups to the devotees of ISKCON Baltimore for staging a wonderful parade and festival for the pleasure of Their Lordships and the enlightenment of all those who shared in the sights, sounds, and tastes.

Here is our dear Bhakta-Dan getting his first opportunity at one of the highest transcendental pleasures, distributing Prabhupada's books. Within minutes, he had that unique taste that comes from this very special service and passing out books left and right with all the gusto he could muster. From what I saw, I think this kid's gonna make it back to Goloka sooner rather than later. As you can see in the photo below, he was feeling the true mellow of self-satisfaction in the divine loving service of the Lord.