ISKCON Derire Tree's Posts (12749)

Bhagavad Gita & the Youth

By Ankit Sharma

Presently, the young generation is disappointed from the increasing competitive life style, rapid technological advancement, and unending global problems. They are looking for change and hankering for stress free life style. They have accustomed to that, which is easy to use and gives instant result. This Krishna Consciousness is the best possible remedy for their problems. In this regard Srila Prabhupada says, “So our simple method—we go everywhere, all over the world, chant this Hare Kṛṣṇa mahā-mantra, and we attract people, especially younger generation, boys and girls” (Arrival lecture, Paris, July 20, 1972). However, the presentation of the message taught by Srila Prabhupada in his commentary famously known as “Bhagavad Gita as it is”, compatible to the youth at present time is a great challenge.

Now-a-days, social media and western life style overly influence the 21st century youngsters. It results in increasing number of cases of drug addiction, suicides, women extortion, and poor performance in their subject area. The helpless adolescents desire that, their problems should be address in a systematic and professional manner. The scientific approach of addressing the problem in the form of conferences and courses is very successful at present time. Srila Prabhupada had given many lectures in several universities and colleges all around the world and had told the young students about Krishna Consciousness. Srila Prabhupada says in a lecture, “Ladies and gentlemen, I thank you for your kindly receiving us. This Kṛṣṇa consciousness movement…, Kṛṣṇa consciousness movement is not a new thing. Five thousand years ago, when Lord Kṛṣṇa appeared on this planet, since then Kṛṣṇa consciousness is present, according to historical times” (lecture at San Diego University, 1972). Srila Prabhupada used to tell them about the message of Lord Krsna as given in Bhagavad Gita. Therefore, to continue the propagation of teachings given in the scriptures among the educated class as per Srila Prabhupada instructions, HH Subhag Swami Maharaja inspires his followers to present the teachings of Bhagavad Gita in schools and colleges.

A four day course titled, ‘Discover Yourself’ has been organized in Dronacharya College of Engineering, Himachal Pradesh. The program started with the lighting of lamps and prayers. Four hundred students from BBA, BCA and B.Ed. courses in the institute gathered in the seminar hall. The hall was packed and students were anxiously waiting for the speakers from different countries to deliver talks on ancient Vedic culture. The students were impressed to listen about the spiritual values and ethics from foreign speakers. They were happy to see that the topics covered in the course, addresses various problems faced by them. Total three hundred forty Bhagavad Gita were distributed and most of the students pledged to read Bhagavad Gita, at least one shloka daily. By the mercy of the Lord, students welcome the scientific approach of presenting the spiritual knowledge. Such a great event has been arranged by the blessings of Srila Prabhupada. The head of the departments decided that it is not necessary to conduct such program, as they have very busy schedule. Later, when the principal of the college conducted a meeting with student class representatives, and somehow or other they become interested, then the college administration agreed for conducting four days course.

The course was split into two batches, one for BBA/BCA students and second for B.Ed. students. The BBA/BCA students were generally adamant and least interested in Value based courses. However, after attending the course their heart changes, they find something useful in it. On the last day, in students’ feedback, astounding reviews about the course have been received. They understood many spiritual values, such as one of the student says, “I will try meditation and read Gita daily”. One of the special comment about the course came from a BBA student. On the first day, he was asked a question, ‘Do you believe that God can play some role in achieving your goal of life? He said, ‘Sorry, I am atheist’. In this connection, Srila Prabhupada says, “….I mean to say, where is that education in the university to prepare the student for the next life?” (Conversation with Mrs. Critchley, Aug 3, 1973, London). Now, youngsters in India have similar mind set as of westerners. However, at the end of the course, he said, ‘I promise that I will read Bhagavad Gita daily, at least one shloka.’ This is the mercy of Srila Prabhupada. Teachings given in Bhagavad Gita are so powerful that any person in any state can easily understand the message given by Supreme Personality of Godhead, Lord Shri Krsna.

The first seminar was given by Dr. Ankit Sharma, Ph.D. (IIT Varanasi) defining the reality of success from the concept given in Bhagavad Gita. Next, HG Krishna Sudama Prabhu gave two seminars defining happiness and importance of values in a students’ life giving various scriptural references. On the last day, a seminar on importance of Shrimad Bhagavad Gita has been presented to emphasize the values given it. In addition, the college authorities were especially appreciating the seminar on Bhagavad Gita. They were satisfied by the knowledge provided during the course. The director of the institute, Mr. B. Pathania was very much favorable for the holistic development of their students. On the last day, Mr. Pathania reviewed and asked many questions to students, regarding what they had understood from the course. Students and teachers appreciated the scientific approach to present the moral and ethical teachings given in Bhagavad Gita. Every day mahaprasadam was distributed to students and staff of the college. They highly appreciated the tasty meal provided every day.

After the completing the four-day course in Himachal Pradesh, another program at a corporate firm, Web Out Sourcing Pvt. Ltd, Chandigarh has been organized. Devotees approached the owner and he agreed for an interaction. There, HG Krishna Sudama Prabhu from Armenia gave a lecture on Bhagavad Gita to the young professionals at the office. He describes key to happiness from shloka 66 of chapter 2. It seems that they had heard of Bhagavad Gita for first time and especially from a foreign saint. The professional life is full of frustration and anxiety. They were particularly amazed to see foreign saintly persons speaking about Vedic scriptures. Srila Prabhupada says, ‘It should be understood that a person who does not have Vedic knowledge always acts in ignorance of what he has done in the past, what he is doing at the present and how he will suffer in the future. He is completely in darkness. Therefore the Vedic injunction is, tamasi mā: “Don’t remain in darkness.” Jyotir gama: “Try to go to the light.” The light or illumination is Vedic knowledge, which one can understand when he is elevated to the mode of goodness or when he transcends the mode of goodness by engaging in devotional service to the spiritual master and the Supreme Lord.’ (Purport, SB 6.1.49)

After that, Dr. Ankit Sharma, gave lecture, about the effect of reading Gita in his own life and how other prominent persons of the society have acknowledge this great scripture. He said, ‘Mahatma Gandhi, Albert Einstein and many other distinguish personalities of the world have accepted the teachings from this great literature’. After the lecture, we tried for books distribution and HG Nilachal Prabhu took the command and convince them that, to experience higher taste in their life, take Gita. In the crowd of twenty-five, fifteen persons took Bhagavad Gita. The owner of the company was impressed by the appearance and talks delivered by devotees and requested them for a bigger program on spiritual culture and knowledge.

Moving forward to our next destination, Guru Jambeshwar University of Science and Technology, Hisar, invited us to give the value education seminars to their newly admitted students. Now, Government of India is focusing on the character building of the graduates. It was found that although the graduates have high technical qualification which makes them best working force in the world but due to lack of basic values, they lack mental peace and good character. They are becoming more and more restless and arrogant. They are always searching for happiness and peace in the material things but never reached to the permanent solution. Therefore, it is very important to spread the message of Bhagavad Gita among the educated class of the society through seminars and courses. We approach the authorities to provide us opportunity to give lectures at the Induction program, in which culture, moral values, and ethics need to be taught. After several meetings and discussions, they finally agreed to give four days in the program.

Our team was ready and few more speakers came to join for the four days discourse. It is an official program under guidance of government authorities, which comes with technical adjustments and modification. First day, around 400 students assembled in a magnificent seminar hall. It was an entirely new experience for our team and for the students as they have their first day in the college. By the mercy of the Lord, seminar started with a lecture by Dr. Ankit, and HG Sudama Prabhu delivered second lecture. Students were inquisitive and asked many questions related to carrier, life, social problems etc. HG Nilachal Prabhu came from Chandigarh, delivered a nice interactive seminar on mind control. It is a famous topic among young minds. Lots of discussion and interaction with student rejuvenate their spirit of culture and values that also satisfied the organizers and developed faith on us. The concerning authority of the university Dr. Vishal Gulati was very happy and appreciated the wide varieties of speakers and talks given.

Dr. Shivendra Pathak (HG Satyaraj Prabhu), a veterinary surgeon from Jhansi gave interactive seminar on stress management. Last seminar in the series was on Bhagavad Gita and in the end; most of the students were motivated for reading it. Fifty Bhagavad Gita were distributed which was beyond our expectation as in govt. institutions people from different religious background were present. Many of them were interested to know more about spiritual subject. From such seminar series, the interest of youth in spiritual topics and Vedic culture has increased. They are ready to accept the spiritual solution for their problems, as they found it easy and simple. That is the way of 21st century generation. After getting the great response from youngsters, our enthusiasm has increased. It is also a great method of distributing books to the future of the society.

Once, a reporter asks Srila Prabhupada, ‘why there are so many young people, why so many young are attracted?’ Srila Prabhupada says, ‘Young, they are receptive… they are trying to find out something where they will find happiness… here they are finding the real substance.’ (Interview with Kerr, Toronto, June 18, 1976). Therefore, the teachings given in Bhagavad Gita as it is are so profound that people from various background are acknowledging it. Hence, under the inspirations and blessings of Srila Prabhupada, the journey of spreading the message of the Lord will continue forever.

We offer our humble prayers unto His Holiness Subhag Swami Maharaja for his blessings and personal guidance and for inspiring all the devotees to do programs more enthusiastically. We would like to thank all the devotees who came from different places to make the programs successful.

Sankirtan Yagya ki jay

Srila Prabhupada ki jay

Dronacharya program: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=IhRnzQBaK_k

Reviews of Students & teachers: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=_78YLS88ynY

Source: http://www.dandavats.com/?p=78442

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By Rasutsava dasa

On September 6, the auspicious occasion of Radhastami, the Uttar Pradesh Padayatra began under the inspiration of Lokanath Maharaja and the guidance of Uttar Pradesh and Rajasthan zonal secretary Devakinandan dasa. ISKCON Kanpur temple president Premhari dasa glorified the padayatra and offered his best wishes to the padayatris. Sri Sri Nitai-Gaurasundar, brought from Bakuda, are the Uttar Pradesh Padayatra deities.

The padayatra currently has one rath, four oxen, one bus, one bicycle, and six devotees walking with several local devotees. It was Srila Prabhupada’s desire that the Kanpur devotees should preach in nagar-nagar and gram-gram, so to fulfil that desire we are making this small attempt. We pray to Radharani that our padayatra should walk eternally and serve the mission of Srila Prabhupada and that all those who will have darshan of Nitai-Gaurasundar, serve Them, worship Them and take the holy name will be delivered.

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Our first day began with mangala arati, sringar arati and guru puja, then with a rousing kirtan we left the Kanpur temple at 10:30 am and walked about 3 km to the village of Singpur (along the way distributing two big books, one medium book and ten small books), where the local devotees welcomed us with a grand sankirtan. That evening we had nagar sankirtan and Gaura arati and the following day walked to Kalyanpur with our next destination being Bithoor, the birthplace of Dhruva Maharaja.

The Uttar Pradesh Padayatra leader is Ritudvipa dasa and the other members of the team are myself, Visvambhar dasa, Chandra dasa, Asimgaura dasa and Sarthishyam dasa from Russia. There is also Bhakta Anuraga who walked to India from Russia. When I asked him how he felt to be in Kanpur he said, “Very bad. Here I am staying in the temple. We should be out preaching on the roads.” Now he feels very happy and enthusiastic to walk in padayatra.

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Our route around Uttar Pradesh will soon be finalised, but we’ll take the first few months just covering the whole of Kanpur as it’s such a large city. With the help of our well-wishers and congregation members we will arrange many prestigious evening programmes and announce those events well in advance so that devotees throughout the state can attend. In this way they will get the opportunity to serve padayatra. When we have covered Kanpur, we will head out to the villages around the city and beyond. Uttar Pradesh is the most populous and fourth largest state in India, and we will be sure to visit every nook and cranny.

The Uttar Pradesh Padayatra was an offering by the padayatris to Srimati Radharani on Radhastami Day. We pray that She may always bless us in our mission to please Srila Prabhupada and Gurudev, that She may always keep us engaged in preaching the holy message of Lord Krishna, and that She will empower us to deliver the mercy of Sri Sri Nitai-Gaurasundar to the people wherever we go.

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By Guru Gauranga das

Venue: The Historic Thomas Center in Gainesville, Florida

Date of Conference: January 9-13, 2020

Gainesville – Sept. 17, 2019 – The ISKCON Law Department has announced that it will host the 1st ISKCON Global Conference of Devotee Attorneys at the Historic Thomas Center in Gainesville, Florida (USA) on January 9-13, 2020.

According to ISKCON’s general counsel, Devakinandan Prabhu, the 2020 ISKCON Global Conference of Devotee Attorneys will offer devotee attorneys, jurists and law students from around the world the opportunity to meet in person for the first time in order to (1) get to know each other in an atmosphere of collegiality and mutual understanding in devotion to Srila Prabhupada and Lord Krishna, and (2) develop an integrated network of legal service providers capable of serving the 21st-century needs of ISKCON and its devotees. The term “devotee attorney” means any devotee or friend of Krishna, who is an attorney, jurist or law student.

Some of the topics to be discussed will include:

– Gita Values in Faith-Based Conflict Management

– Why an ISKCON Law Department

– How New York’s Religious Corporations Law Saved the Brooklyn Temple

– Addressing Issues of Child Abuse and Sexual Harassment

– Why Temple Bylaws Matter

– How to Balance the Demands of Being a Devotee and Attorney

The ISKCON Law Department has received enthusiastic responses from devotee attorneys in India, South Africa, Nigeria, Russia, Hungary, Ireland, U. K., Brazil, Nigeria, Singapore, Canada and the United States.

Devotee attorneys who wish to learn more about this singular event are encouraged to go to https://www.iskcon-law-conference.com/.

Source: http://www.dandavats.com/?p=78426

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Radhanath Swami: Anandini Devi is a precious soul whose brilliant light of devotion illuminates our hearts with Krishna’s grace. In her special gentle, motherly way she embodies incredible courage, genuine humility, deep intelligence and profound wisdom. Her dedication to Sri Guru and Sri Gauranga and to the well being of the Vaisnava community and to the world is glorious. Whatever situation came, Anandini Devi remained always focused on the essence of pure devotional service. The sweet power of her unconditional love and compassion is the gift of her life to Srila Prabhupada, Radha Gopinath and to the world.

I am lost for words upon hearing of her disappearance. But her living example resides in our hearts. I am forever grateful to you Anandini Devi. Your lifetime was a glorious offering of love. Now you have entered into Radha Shyamasundar’s loving embrace. With our tears of separation from you, we will celebrate your beautiful life and your auspicious destination.

Niranjana Swami: I first met Anandini thirty years ago during my visit to Moscow in 1989. I always remember her as a very serious and caring devotee, always eager to attend every program we conducted during those early times.

In the very early 1990’s I was stricken by what appeared to be a cholecystitis attack during a lecture in Leningrad. Devotees did not know what to do with me because the hospital situation in Russia during that time was very unpredictable. But Anandini came forward and insisted that she be allowed to arrange everything for me in a Moscow hospital through her daughter who was a doctor in that hospital. The devotees packed me away in the train from Leningrad to Moscow and Anandini was there to receive me to follow through with all of the arrangements for me. She stayed on top of everything for me until the proper diagnosis had been made and a treatment was prescribed. In particular this one memory of her stands out in my mind from almost thirty years back.

A little more than three months ago, on May 8th, devotees in Moscow arranged a gathering for many of the early devotees who joined during the communist times. I was also invited to take part and to speak at this gathering.

When I arrived, Anandini dd cheerfully greeted me and tried to hold my attention as much as possible before more of the devotees who had already gathered in the other room found out that I had arrived.

She expressed so much gratitude to me from her experiences during those early visits to Moscow.

While Anandini was speaking, I seemed to recall that she had not left her flat for many years due to illness. I was therefore surprised to see that she attended the event and expressed this to her. She was obviously sickly, but she joyfully spoke to me with great vigor. She therefore had initially given me the impression, by her enthusiasm alone, that she was much healthier than she actually was. But towards the end of our semi-private but brief conversation she disclosed to me that her participation in this event was the first time she left her apartment in something like ten years. She told me that she did not want to miss the opportunity for the world.

Later, during our 90 minute discussion with all the devotees assembled, Anandini sat the entire time on the floor. Although many devotees were seated on chairs, she insisted that she wanted to sit on the floor despite her obvious discomfort. She seemed so happy just to be there, just to listen, and to drink up the opportunity to be in the association of devotees, that I simply forgot that she was not at all healthy.

When I was getting ready to depart from the gathering, Anandini approached me once again and thanked me profusely for what she described as a very joyful and wonderful evening. I remember telling her that I was so happy to see her so enlivened and apparently healthy, that the next time I would visit Moscow, I would be so happy to see her again. She smiled and thanked me. But now that I think back, it seems that she was expecting that she may not be around for my next visit. She did not openly express that to me, but now having heard that she departed everything seems to be coming together. I suspect that she sensed she would be departing very soon but did not want to burden me with such a thought. In my mind’s eye, I can still see the smile she had on her face as I was leaving.

Such a wonderful devotee! I pray that Srila Prabhupada blesses her with the wonderful fruit of pure devotional service for all the sacrifices she made in service to his glorious mission.

Source: http://www.dandavats.com/?p=77985

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Events
 
By Madhava Smulen
 

A new restaurant under the “Radha Govinda” brand, “Mandala by Radha Govinda,” opened on the 11th of September in Ljubljana, Slovenia’s capital city.

The stunning 350 square meter (3,757 sq ft) space is in a prime spot in the city center and offers healthy vegan prasadam to cater to current trends.

A large variety of dishes from Indian, Balkan, Slovenian and Mediterranean cuisines, changing daily, are available from the salad bar and hot bar, along with a selection of sweets including cakes and raw desserts.

“We use coconut sugar and date, agave and maple syrups for sweets rather than common white or brown sugar,” says director and founder Mrgendra Das. “And we only use spelt flour.”

Welcomed by a beautiful little deity of Giriraj Maharaja, customers enter the bright, peaceful space with its wood furniture, plants, and lots of glass and natural light. They can then choose to sit in seven different colorful zones featuring red, orange, yellow, green, blue, indigo or violet furniture, with the walls and ceiling decorated with mandalas (intricate sacred circles) of the same color. 

Each mandala depicts Radha and Krishna dancing in the center, surrounded first by Vaishnava and Vedic symbols such as tilak, om and tulsi leaves; then Slovenian national symbols such as the heart, Linden leaf, and Triglav mountain; and finally symbols of healthy and vegan cuisine like carrots, cherries and apples. 

The restaurant offers its clientele of tourists and local businesspeople a self-service system that allows them to get their plate, pay and begin eating within five minutes, giving office workers the chance to dine during their short half-hour lunch breaks. Later, from 5 to 9pm, there’s more classic a la carte dining and thematic evenings.

Thirty-two lucky raffle winners got to sample all this early on September 3rd with an exclusive dinner and cooking course with Mrgendra Das. On September 5th, devotees were invited for a free lunch. Meanwhile the grand opening, on September 11th, drew 600 people, who were all  impressed with the ambience and delicious food. 

The third “Radha Govinda” restaurant in Ljubljana, “Mandala” is the culmination of many years of hard work by Mrgendra, going all the way back to childhood. 

“As a small boy, I loved to cook, and would spend a lot of time in the kitchen with my father, who was chief cook in the Slovenian army,” he recalls. “At the age of seventeen, in 1991, I met the devotees, and then joined ISKCON in 1992. The first service they gave me was in the kitchen – they saw some potential in me.” 

With the Ljubljana temple’s prasadam distribution company, Laksmi, Mrgendra began cooking thousands of samosas, pizzas and sweets and distributing them to shops and schools throughout Slovenia. People enjoyed his cooking so much that soon, they began to ask for recipes. 

“But when I did, they still weren’t satisfied, because it was not the same,” he says. “So I had the idea to start offering cooking courses.”

Upon getting married and becoming a householder, Mrgendra and his wife dedicated their lives to distributing prasadam, running cooking courses and starting a lunch delivery service. His Radha Govinda Academy became so popular that the Slovenian President’s chief of staff attended it, bringing prasadam back for the President to eat. 

In 2008, with the demand ever rising, Mregendra opened the first Radha Govinda restaurant in Šiška, Ljubljana’s most populous district, next door to the ISKCON temple New Yoga Pitha. 

Although it isn’t vegan, Radha Govinda has a similar self-service system to Mandala, offering thirty different dishes every day including a salad bar. The hot dishes include Mediterranean cuisine like lasagna, pasta, pizza, calzone and gnocchi; Indian such as subji, rice, papadam, kichari, samosa, kachori and dokla; and traditional Slovenia and Balkan dishes. The sweet bar features different sweets every day, such as luglu, halava, vegan cake, fruit salad, cookies, srikand, and malpura.

Radha Govinda also offers cooking courses, caters weddings and other events, and has its own line of natural products, including pasta, ghee, and Gopalada – a healthy alternative to Nutella made with carob, coconut butter and maple syrup. 

“We produce these kinds of things ourselves, because we want to offer really pure food to Krishna and then to the people, not just buy everything from outside,” says Mrgendra. 

Symbolizing this devotion are the beautiful Sri Sri Radha Govinda forms that welcome customers as they enter – and occasionally, the small festivals that are held in the restaurant, wherein everyone offers lamps to Them. Meanwhile, behind the scenes, every dish is offered to resident Sri Sri Gaura Nitai Deities. 

In 2016, Mrgendra opened his second restaurant in Ljubljana’s BTC City, a shopping and entertainment complex of over 500 stores. Named “Veggie Embassy Radha Govinda,” it’s a small but stylishly appointed fast food kiosk where diners can enjoy a large variety of options at outside tables.

“We call it Veggie Embassy, because it brings exposure to our mother restaurant,” says Mrgendra. 

Along with lunch items like rice, subjis, savories, salads, soups and sweets, the kiosk also serves lasagna made with Radha Govinda’s own homemade pasta; Balkan specialtyBörek, a flaky pastry filled with spinach and cheese; paneer “steaks;” and French fries. 

Then there’s the three signature burgers, that have to be tasted to be believed. The Bliss Burger, first created in 1993 by Mrgendra’s cooking teacher Bimala Dasi, is made with a homemade wholeweat sesame bun, carrot, Radha Govinda’s own mayonnaise, salad, and tomato. The Red Beet Burger is made with beetroot, purple beet mayonnaise, pumpkin seeds and pumpkin oil, and is especially popular in the autumn. And finally, there’s the Govinda Burger.

“It’s kind of a play on words, because people are always asking for a beef burger, which in Slovenian is called ‘govẹ̑dina,’” says Mrgendra. “So instead, we give them the Govinda Burger, made with seitan, and they love it very much.”

Now with a third restaurant opening (all three are staffed by devotees), Radha Govinda prasadam is making a real impact on Slovenia. 

“Although over 70% of our customers are not vegetarian, they like to eat our food, because they find it tasty, and afterwards they feel light and full of energy,” Mrgendra says. “What’s more, they really appreciate when I explain in our cooking courses and on TV interviews the three energetic levels with which we cook. The first is the physical level, which satisfies our tongue and gives us nutrition. The second is the subtle level, the consciousness that goes into our food when we prepare it with love. And the third is the spiritual level – we offer the food, which cleanses it of negative energies and karma.”

He grins. “People love these explanations – and, of course, the food that results from them!”

Visit Radha Govinda restaurants on Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/Govindas.Ljubljana/

Check out Mandala’s website: www.restavracija-mandala.si

And the original Radha Govinda restaurant: www.radhagovinda.si

Source: https://iskconnews.org/stunning-new-restaurant-mandala-by-radha-govinda-opens-in-slovenia,7082/

 

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One of Sripada Bhakti Charu Swami Maharaja’s most prominent qualities is his deep love for Srila Prabhupada. Very soon after Maharaja met Srila Prabhupada, Prabhupada included him in his personal staff and made him his secretary for Bengali and Hindi correspondence. Soon thereafter, Srila Prabhupada gave him first and second initiation and then sannyasa. And Maharaja personally served Srila Prabhupada throughout Prabhupada’s last days.

His Holiness Bhakti Charu Swami is also very devoted to ISKCON. He has always considered ISKCON to be a unique creation of Srila Prabhupada’s and has always wanted to serve ISKCON both the devotees in ISKCON and ISKCON as an entity, a manifestation of Srila Prabhupada. He is really in the mood of service to the devotees, especially the devotees of ISKCON, and to ISKCON itself.

Maharaja is a very pure-hearted, loving person. His love for Srila Prabhupada is seen in his love for the devotees and for people in general, whom he wants to bring to Srila Prabhupada—and in how he encourages devotees to increase their engagement, take on more responsibility, and become more loving, humble servants. The more responsibility one accepts, Maharaja once explained to a devotee in Mauritius, the bigger servant of the devotees one becomes. This reminded me of something Srila Prabhupada once said. A disciple came into his room in Mayapur one day and began to complain about the management. Srila Prabhupada said, “If you think you can do better, why don’t you?” Somehow, the disciple came out and announced that Srila Prabhupada had made him the temple commander, and he began to boss the other devotees around. Some devotees complained to Srila Prabhupada that the devotee had said that Prabhupada had made him the temple commander and that now he was barking orders at everyone. So Srila Prabhupada called for the devotee and instructed him, “First you become the servant of everyone, then you become the temple commander.” Thus Srila Prabhupada expressed the same idea, that a bigger position means becoming a bigger servant. And Bhakti Charu Swami, in parampara, has that same understanding.

If we listen carefully to all of Maharaja’s instructions, we can understand how closely he follows the disciplic succession. Some of his statements are very close to Srila Prabhupada’s words, and some take the basic principles that Srila Prabhupada gave and sweeten them with personal realization.

Another of the many fine qualities exemplified by His Holiness Bhakti Charu Swami is his offenselessness. He is very careful not to commit any offense against any devotee, or any living entity, and if he feels he has committed an offense, he immediately tries to mitigate the effects by approaching the person, apologizing, and asking forgiveness. Somehow or other he tries to rectify the offense. From our point of view, we wouldn’t think he has committed an offense, but within his pure heart he may feel that he has, and immediately he will try to approach and please the person he fears he has offended, to remove the effects of the offense.

Maharaja’s heart is pure and very sensitive—full of appreciation for other devotees and sensitive to his own faults—which again, from our point of view, wouldn’t even be considered faults. That’s really the heart of a Vaishnava—full of love and appreciation for others but sensitive to one’s own deficiencies or mistakes.

As stated by Lord Krishna in the Bhagavad-gita (12.13–14), “One who is not envious but is a kind friend to all living entities, who does not think himself a proprietor and is free from false ego, who is equal in both happiness and distress, who is tolerant, always satisfied, self-controlled, and engaged in devotional service with determination, his mind and intelligence fixed on Me—such a devotee of Mine is very dear to Me.”

I wish I could be with Maharaja in person for his seventy-fourth birth anniversary and the fifty-fourth anniversary of Srila Prabhupada’s arrival in America. Still, as Maharaja always reminds us, we have the wonderful association of the devotees in ISKCON, and through their association we can experience Srila Prabhupada’s presence, and along with Srila Prabhupada’s presence the presence of Srila Prabhupada’s dear and beloved associates such as His Holiness Bhakti Charu Swami Maharaja.

Srila Bhakti Charu Swami Maharaja ki jaya!

Srila Prabhupada ki jaya!

Source: http://www.girirajswami.com/?p=14767

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Bridges of Consciousness by Bhaktimarga Swami

I believe most walkers love walking over bridges, especially if there's a wooden flooring which has a little bit of a spring to it.  Once a railway bridge, the Bill Thorpe Bridge crosses over the Saint John River, and is the length of five hundred and eighty-one metres, with a serious iron framing on each side.
 
A repair man on the bridge asked if we were monks, and we naturally said, "Yes." He was curious.  There were other repair crewmen ready to embark on a four-month workover of the bridge.  Its sides and deck will be redone.  Maintenance is the jurisdiction of Vishnu, God as the preservation deity.  The four of us monks were chanting Krishna's name while ambling along on this iconic bridge, and we are confident that divine aspect of Krishna, in the form of Vishnu, was pleased.  https://www.instagram.com/p/B1vuUSPg33m/?igshid=ioof5s5k67no

In the afternoon, I craved for health and peace of mind, so with some time on our hands we ventured over to Lake Killarney for a last chance at a dip, as the weather was predicted to turn wet.  The swim was brief.  The calls I make can be lengthy sometimes.  I'm lucky that I can get on with administration duties in such a gorgeous setting, by the beach and under a shady apple tree.  I was talking to Garuda, which is the name of the bird carrier of Vishnu.  He opened the call with a "I offer my peak at your feet (laughter).”

At 7:00 p.m., we had a healthy turnout of people for a Sangha at the Norfolk Motel.  Lots of food. Plenty of chants.  Discussions were centred around the guru, Prabhupada. "He came from Calcutta  and is making his mark to change the world..."
 
I implied that he was building many bridges of Consciousness.
 
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Prayers required for HG Bahulasva Prabhu ACBSP (the one on the right of the photo with the white dhoti and kurta).
He had been diagnosed with a terminal illness and he didn’t have long in this body.
He served our Srila Prabhupada in most responsible and pleasing ways! He was a wonderful temple president in both Chicago and Berkeley and created the legendary college preaching program with Dharmadyaksha prabhu (with the yellow dhoti).
Gurudas: His grace Bahulasva Das Prabhu is bravely left his body today September 17th at 12:00 noon PST.

Source: http://www.dandavats.com/?p=78412

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How Free Are We? By Navin Jani

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From Back to Godhead 

Prescience and the Vedic Literature

One aspect of the Vedic culture knowledge of the future may seem at first glance to contradict free will, but this is not so. In fact, St. Augustine’s explanation of this phenomenon in relation to the omniscience of God parallels the Vedic understanding. Others had argued that if God already knew what we were going to do, that would prevent us from having free choice; we could not help but act in the way God had foreseen. In response, Augustine explained that God’s vision of the future does not cause anything to happen. Rather, it is akin to human vision of the past. We have the ability to re-member past events, but this doesn’t mean we cause them. Similarly, God has the ability to pre-member future events, but this doesn’t mean His doing so curtails human liberty. He is simply beyond time, unlike us, and He can therefore observe past, present, and future all with equal ease.

The Vedic literature ascribes a similar ability to God, but it goes further by allowing that human beings may share this ability. One method is by practicing the appropriate yoga and acquiring the siddhi (mystic perfection) of tri-kala-jna, literally “knower of the three times” (i.e., past, present, and future). It is interesting to note that this ability is considered one of the less important and more easily obtainable of the various Vedic mystic powers.

Another means to prescience is through astrology. By looking at the arrangement of the stars and planets at a person’s precise moment of birth, an expert astrologer can divine much about that person’s personality and life. In fact, it is said that the great sage Brighu Muni, fearful that no qualified astrologers would be available during the present fallen age of Kali, created natal horoscopes for every person on earth for the next 427,000 years.

How Free Are We?

Sam Surya goes to his city’s orphanage one day and makes a large donation. Elsewhere in town, Andy Andhakara robs a bank. What led these two to make such drastically different choices? Was it their own volition, or the force of some other factor? In other words, were their actions predetermined, or did Sam and Andy have free will?

These questions concern one of the pivotal debates in Western philosophy. Are human beings destined to follow a set course? Are we like children on an amusement park ride lets them steer right and left but inevitably takes them along a fixed track? Or are we free to desire and do as we like, our lives a blank slate upon which we may write anything and everything?

In this article we’ll take a brief look at how Western philosophy has addressed the problem of determinism versus free will, and then suggest how the Vedic literature can offer additional insight into this most elusive yet important issue.

Before we begin, let’s be clear about the term will. From a philosophical perspective, it is a nuanced concept that has undergone shifts in meaning over the years. Nevertheless, for all practical purposes it can be taken as synonymous with “action.” Hence the debate over determinism versus free will is essentially a quest to identify the cause of human behavior. Keeping this in mind should help keep you from getting lost in what might otherwise become a hazy jungle of abstract philosophical jargon.

Strict Determinism

One perspective on this debate is to say that Sam Surya was destined to donate and Andy Andhakara was destined to steal, and neither ever really had a say in the matter. This is the theory known as strict determinism. It holds that all human actions are the direct results of a sequence of causes and effects such that they are predetermined and can unfold in one and only one way. Thus, we do not actually play any part in determining our actions. Rather, they are caused by something beyond us. Western philosophers have generally been loath to embrace this view, and with good reason: strict determinism is contrary to both common experience and the norms of civilization. (The doctrine of the predestination of souls, espoused by St. Augustine in the fifth century and championed by the leaders of the Protestant Reformation in the sixteenth century, is one major exception.) Far from feeling forced into every action we take, we instinctively feel we can make choices in our lives. Therefore, the thought that we have no control whatsoever over what we do is repulsive. And the laws that govern society have meaning only if citizens can decide to follow them or not. For example, we would perhaps support punishing Andy Andhakara to send a message to the community that stealing is bad and others should not follow his example. But if citizens don’t have the power to decide to steal or not, then what’s the use of sending such a message? Therefore, strict determinism can be rejected as counterintuitive and highly impractical.

Categorical Free Will

Having rejected this extreme, let’s test out the other. As strict determinism tells us that Sam and Andy each had to act in a particular way, the opposite perspective tells us they could have acted in absolutely any way. This is the theory known as categorical free will. It holds that human actions are in theory completely unconstrained and can unfold in an infinite number of ways. Our behavior is not the preset product of any grand universal scheme, but is fluid and flexible. It essentially has no cause, for that would limit its course.

Unlike the theory of strict determinism, which has had few adherents among Western philosophers, the theory of categorical free will has been embraced by many, including the French philosopher Rene Descartes in the early seventeenth century and the German philosopher Immanuel Kant in the late eighteenth century. Indeed, it is a welcome relief from the stifling rigidity of determinism, and it resonates with Western notions of liberty and independence. But as other philosophers have pointed out (including those named in the next section), it goes too far. They argue that a phenomenon either has a cause (or causes) or is completely random; there is no third option. Therefore to say that human actions have no cause is to say that they are random. But observation of the world around us shows that this is clearly not the case. We don’t see mothers hugging their dirty laundry and throwing their babies into the washing machine. Rather, in place of such inexplicable chaos (the logical consequence of this theory) we observe order and meaning in human behavior. Hence, categorical free will must also be rejected as illogical and unrealistic.

Soft Determinism

So while strict determinism leaves us with no room to breathe, it turns out categorical free will opens the door far too wide. Neither theory allows for us to have a conscious influence on our actions. What of the middle ground, something between these two extremes? Such a perspective would allow Sam and Andy to cause their actions in some way that reconciles determinism and free will. Human behavior could then be understood as neither capricious nor automatically enacted irrespective of individual wishes.

Countless persons have endorsed some such compromise—including the English philosophers Thomas Hobbes, John Locke, and John Stuart Mill—and it more or less represents the consensus of contemporary Western philosophy. Among these, the mid–eighteenth-century Scottish philosopher David Hume made what is arguably the chief presentation. His theory has been referred to as soft determinism because it takes strict determinism and alters it in a way that allows for personal freedom and moral accountability. He starts with the notion that every human action has a cause that determines how it will unfold. If this cause is something external to the individual, he refers to the resultant action as involuntary. If this cause is an internal desire of the individual, he refers to the resultant action as voluntary. Whereas in strict determinism all actions are caused by external forces and are therefore what Hume would call involuntary, his soft determinism allows for both external and internal causes. Indeed, he emphasizes the latter by explaining that human beings will always act according to their strongest internal desire unless forcibly constrained by some external factor.

Hume concludes by deeming such voluntary action “free” and therefore liable to moral scrutiny. Thus, under Hume’s theory, Sam’s donation is considered to be causally determined by his desire to donate, and yet is also considered free because it is done willingly. Andy’s act of robbery is caused by his desire to acquire money, but he remains morally culpable because he was not forced to act against his wishes.

Although with Hume’s soft determinism we finally have a theory that connects individuals with their behavior, whether it does so in a way that gives them actual freedom is questionable. Granting that it avoids the oppressive impersonalism of strict determinism and the chaos of categorical free will, does it actually bestow on humans the power of conscious choice? Critics have said no. They have noted that although under Hume’s theory individuals act voluntarily, they do not act freely. This is because the internal desires that cause their actions are not under their conscious control. For example, Sam voluntarily acts in accordance with his desire to give charity (and so feels like he is acting freely), but where does this desire come from? Did he choose to have the kind of personality that is inclined to give?

No. We could either trace its development through his experiences, education, and parenting, or resign ourselves to a simple, “He was born that way.” In either case, we must acknowledge that the very factors that resulted in Sam’s wanting to help out the orphanage are clearly not subject to his conscious control. Rather, his desire is the deterministic product of his background, and it compels him to act accordingly. He is not free to act otherwise. Thus, we are not justified in calling Sam’s and Andy’s respective actions free, and praising or censuring them accordingly. In fact, soft determinism ultimately leads us to the same dead end as strict determinism, albeit with a little more scenery on the way.

Although strict determinism and categorical free will proved easy to dismiss (both in this article and in the annals of Western philosophy), you will likely agree that soft determinism seemed more promising. But it still left us short of what we are searching for: a viable explanation of the cause of human action. Certainly the answer does lie in some sort of synthesis of determinism and free will, but Western philosophy can take us no further in this direction. We therefore now consider the philosophy of ancient India. Within the Vedic scriptures we find a perspective that genuinely reconciles determinism and free will in a way that makes sense to our heads and is agreeable to our hearts.

The Soul’s Free Will

We begin by reviewing the deterministic side of the equation. Krishna explains in the Bhagavad-gita that all living beings have eternal spiritual forms of which the physical bodies we see are only temporary coverings. The root cause of this encasement is known in Sanskrit as ahankara. Though this term is usually translated as false ego, it literally means “I am the doer.” Because we are made of spirit, not matter, we have no ability to independently manipulate matter, and to think we do is the ultimate binding delusion. Far from being a controller, by inhabiting a physical body we come under the control of nature, because the body, being matter, acts according to the laws of nature. The real agent behind the movements of the material world is the energy of God in the form of the three material principles, or modes: maintenance (goodness), creation (passion), and destruction (ignorance). Krishna sums up this whole dynamic by observing, “The spirit soul bewildered by the influence of false ego thinks himself the doer of activities that are in actuality carried out by the three modes of material nature.” Thus, our freedom does not lie in the tangible realm of physical matter.

To some people the implication of such evidence (see Sidebar for another example) is that free will is simply illusory and that enlightenment involves accepting that we are the powerless pawns of a deterministic world. Historically, Western philosophers have even been led to clump the Vedic worldview together with other Eastern philosophies and dismiss them all under the condescending label of “Asiatic fatalism.” But this is only half the Vedic equation. Equally compelling (and arguably even more important) is the Vedic evidence of freedom and the power of conscious choice.

For example, the Vedic literature contains a plethora of rules, regulations, and rituals. Many prominent Vaishnava philosophers have used the same logic we cited earlier in defeating strict determinism to claim that such scriptural prescriptions (and their associated rewards and punishments) can have meaning only if the living entity has some degree of factual independence. Indeed, “The Supreme Personality of Godhead has so dexterously formulated and applied the laws of material nature governing punishment and reward for human behavior that the living being is discouraged from sin and encouraged toward goodness without suffering any significant interference with his free will as an eternal soul.” (Srimad-Bhagavatam 10.24.14, Purport by Prabhupada’s disciples)

It is important to note here, however, that as the mind is considered material in the Vedic understanding, it is subject to the same rigid control that was attributed to the body above. So just as the free will of the living being cannot extend to the actions of the physical body and senses, so too it cannot extend to the actions of the mind or intelligence. Thus, the free will Prabhupada speaks of must be restricted to the domain of the spirit soul proper, and it must be the actions of this soul that merit the various punishments and rewards he speaks of. But how does the soul act? Prabhupada explains that it is through desire. Not only that, he goes one step further to reveal that the desire whether “to surrender to God or not is the essential expression of our free will.”

And there, at last, is our answer and the Vedic resolution of the problem of determinism versus free will. As human beings, our freedom is limited to desiring to come closer to God or to move farther away from him. Material nature, under the supervision of God, takes care of the rest. According to our past desires, we are provided at birth with a suitable body through which the modes of material nature help us perform actions appropriate to those desires. Within the constraints of this body, which range from our mental disposition to the karmic results due to us while in it, we have the opportunity to form new desires. These desires may take many forms, but they will always be reducible to one of two broad categories: desires to be closer to God, or desires to be farther away from Him. Our new desires then create karmic reactions that in turn determine our next body.

No Deterministic Dead End

This Vedic understanding of free will thus saves us from the dead end that soft determinism led us to. We can trace the manifold desires that cause a person to act back from the upbringing of his present life to his nature at birth, to the desires of his previous lives, and, underlying it all, to his progressive desire to surrender to or rebel against God. Freedom reigns at this final, primary level, while determinism dominates all subsequent links in the chain. We could thus call the Vedic model a sort of binary free will.

For example, Sam Surya, in his previous birth, must have had godly desires (e.g., selfless desires to forego pleasures for a higher purpose). As a result, he was probably born with an innate generosity and received good training from his parents and early teachers, both of which allowed him to progress towards God. Andy Andhakara, on the other hand, must have had ungodly desires (e.g., selfish desires that focused on his own well-being at the cost of others), which led him to be born in a degraded situation favorable for expressing and acting upon such desires. The key to understanding how this works is in realizing that karma applies on a subtle, as well as a gross, level. Good actions don’t just create good circumstances; they also create the desire to do further good actions. And vice versa.

Unlike the blank slate of free will or the fixed track of determinism, this blend of the two might be likened to an interactive movie that lets you make choices at key moments and then unfolds automatically until the next decision. If we make choices favorable to reestablishing our relationship with God, like Sam Surya, we’ll get more and better options of this kind the next time. If we make choices that hamper our connection with God, like Andy Andhakara, the godly options will diminish in scope and quantity. Either way, what happens in between the decision points is the preset product of innumerable past choices.

When we finally evolve to the point where we unreservedly and uninterruptedly desire only to be closer to God, then we break the chain of successive physical bodies and can return to the divine abode. There, having revived our original spiritual bodies, we will be completely independent of the laws of nature that so rigidly control us in this world. Thus we come to the ultimate paradox of free will. When we are at every moment lovingly offering our free will at the feet of God for His pleasure rather than ours, then and only then are we the most free.

Source: http://www.dandavats.com/?p=3506

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Why do we hate? By Syamananda Dasa

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“No one is born hating another because of the color of his skin/ his background/ or his religion. People must learn to hate/ and if they can learn to hate/ they can be taught to love/ for love comes more naturally to the human heart than its opposite. II – Nelson Mandela

Nelson Mandela was born in racist South Africa. The then apartheid regime discriminated between whites and non-whites. The whites- only government declared some areas of the nation as the exclusive property of the white population and all other color groups were segregated and given their separate areas. Mr.Mandela dared oppose this discrimination and was labeled a terrorist and jailed for nearly three decades. Somehow, he prevailed, and after he was set free, he was elected the leader of the nation in the first elections in which all racial groups were allowed to cast their votes.lt is interesting to note that Mr.Mandela asserts that we need to be taught to hate. In today’s times it is not unusual to see a Palestinian mother say that she hopes that her children will continue to hate the Israelis and continue their struggle, or, as in the latest case of terrorism on US soil, the Boston Marathon bombings, where two American brothers of Chechen descent vented their hatred for all things American by planting two pressure-cooker bombs near the marathon event. In fact, one of the two brothers had let go of an ethnic Chinese taxi driver saying that, “We won’t hate you because you are not American.”

Thus in this age it is easy for nations to hate other nations, businesses to hate their competitors, race groups to hate other races, and come to think of it, people even hate themselves.

How does one begin hating anything else? What is the origin of this feeling? Let us begin by trying to understand the origin of ‘hate’. Hate of course is an emotion directly opposing love and therefore it is part of material nature’s duality. Duality means two, or pair, as love-hate, like-dislike, day-night, birth-death, up-down, victory-loss. The Bhagavad-gita says that everywhere you look, you will find everything in two’s or pairs. Why? That is the nature of this world. If it is natural for this world to have everything in two’s, then why are we not happy with this arrangement? Because it is unnatural for you and me to live in this world of duality. Our constitutional position is that of being subordinate to the Supreme Lord. God is described as one whose knowledge is pure. On account of being separated from this pure knowledge, we become controlled by impure knowledge in the form of the illusory energy called maya. Maya induces us to think that we have nothing to do with God and we need to sort things out ourselves. This duality of interest is the beginning point and all hell breaks loose after that.

One important duality caused by maya is the duality of love and hate. Both of them are equally powerful emotions which can run or ruin our lives. It’s like a football game between the two teams of love (desire) and hate, and the living entity (the football) is kicked by both the teams. Both of them are intense emotions and unless one is trained, it is likely that he may mismanage their utility.

Now comes the million-dollar question: Does God ever hate anyone?

Commenting on the prayers of Queen Kunti Devi, Srila Prabhupada says: “0 Dear Krishna, you favor no one and no one is your enemy.” We expect some benediction or profit from a friend and inimical activities from an enemy, but Krishna is so perfect that no one can harm Him nor can anyone give Him anything. So who can be His friend or enemy? He doesn’t need anyone’s favor. He is complete. I may be a very poor man, and therefore I may expect some favor from a friend, but that is because I am imperfect. Because I am not full, because I am deficient in so many ways, I am always needy, and therefore I want to create some friend, and similarly I hate an enemy. But since Krishna is the Supreme, no one can harm Krishna, nor can anyone give Krishna anything He might need.”

When a disciple asked Srila Prabhupada how to deal with hatred and envy, Srila Prabhupada had this to offer: “One should not be attached to his personal achievement. But, if one is attached in order to please his spiritual master, then it is all right. Unattached to my benefit, attached to Krishna’ s benefit. Krishna consciousness means attachment for Krishna and detachment for personal benefit, that’s all. But in any case, if there is fight amongst yourselves over these things, book distribution, competition, you should not develop ill-feeling. That depends on the persons. If ill-feeling is there, then stop it and all together chant Hare Krishna, Those who are not so advanced should eulogize those who are advanced. If you become envious, that is material. Attachment, detachment – these things are natural. If you become attached to something you become detached from some other. So we can estimate our advancement in this way. This is the test. In the Krishna consciousness movement there is no question of envy, hatred, things like that. Material life means hatred for Krishna and desire for matter. So we have to convert ourselves. When one becomes Krishna conscious actually, he does not even hate material things because he becomes expert how to utilize everything for Krishna, Krishna consciousness is so nice. We do not hate anything material because we have learned from our disciplic succession how to utilize material things for Krishna’s service. Actually, bhakti means realization of the Supreme, and this means increasing attachment for Him and reforming of detachment or hating of material name and fame.” (Srila Prabhupada’s letter to Sri Govinda, December 25, 1972)

Source: http://www.dandavats.com/?p=27752

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If a devotee were to ask, “Please bless me so that I’ll never take birth again in this horrible material world,” would this be asking for some kind of liberation? Hundreds of times, Srila Prabhupada encouraged us to “Go Back home, back to Godhead.” Would it be a form of boldness or naiveté to desire to come back to this world and serve by preaching?

That would depend on our level of perception and spiritual progress. There were times when some disciples indicated to Srila Prabhupada that they would perhaps like to take birth again and help with preaching Krishna consciousness. Even then Srila Prabhupada would variously say, “Don’t try to come back…simply go back to Godhead.”

If going back to Godhead is what we must seek, then does this fare somewhat less to an ideal expressed by Srila Bhaktivinoda Thakur, as paraphrased by Srila Prabhupada: Nitya-dasa prati tuwa adhikara: “You have got every right to do whatever You think right in relation with Your servant. I am Your eternal servant.” Janmaobi moe iccha jadi tor: “If you so desire” — because a devotee goes back to Home, goes back to Godhead – therefore Bhaktivinoda Thakura proposes, “If You like that I shall again take birth, it doesn’t matter.”

Bhakta—grhe jani janma hau mor: “The only request is that if I have to take my birth, please kindly give me the chance of taking my birth in a devotee’s house.” Kita—janma hau jatha tuwa das: “I don’t mind if I am born as an insect, but I must be in the house of a devotee.” Bahir mukha brahma-janme nahi as: “I do not like non—devotee life.

Noticing that Srila Bhaktivinoda said, “…IF I have to take my birth…” in a mood of allowing Krishna to do whatever He wants, does this appear more surrender’ful than our ‘conditional’ Back to Godhead wish, as encouraged by Srila Prabhupada? We can look at this in different ways, and the way Srila Prabhupada emphasised it so much points in the right direction.

Here is one of many examples: “And after passing 5,000 years, we find so many difficulties, and the more we grow in this Kali-yuga, the days will be more and more difficult. So best thing is that you finish your Krishna consciousness business and go back to home, back to Godhead. That will save you. Otherwise, if we come back again, the difficulties, the difficult days are ahead. We have to suffer more and more.” (SB 1.8.32 – Los Angeles, April 24, 1973)

A daunting prospect of rebirth in Kali-yuga is discouraged. Srila Prabhupada also knew that most of us are rules and regulation types and will struggle mightily to ascend the path of devotion. For these reasons it would be an extraordinarily rare event to actually go back to Godhead, and the extraordinary is made clear and simple for us by him – and many devotees are going back to Godhead.

An interesting question can be raised at this point: Srila Prabhupada sometimes said that many of his disciples were sent by Krishna, or by his spiritual master Srila Bhaktisiddhanta to come and help him spread Krishna consciousness all over the world – from where did they come?

To have the desire to go back to Godhead, or not to ever take birth again in this world, is the correct thing for those of us who are unsure of our eternal position in Godhead. If we haven’t yet realised our spiritual identity, then better we pray to go back to Godhead where we might discover something wonderful. This is the greatest fortune.

Then there are those rare souls who are certain and assured of themselves spiritually. This certainty enables someone like Srila Bhaktivinoda to know that wherever he is in the material world, he is already in Godhead. “If one has a strong desire to serve the Lord, even if he accepts a material body, there is no cause of anxiety, since a devotee, even in a material body, is a liberated soul.” (SB 9.13.9 purport)

On this level, going back to Godhead or not, being in heaven or hell, are inconsequential so long as service or devotion is rendered in the company of devotees. “Even if I am born as a Lord Brahma. I want to remain with the devotees.” Bhukti-mukti—sprha vihina je bhakta: “I want such devotee who doesn’t care for material happiness or spiritual liberation.” Labhaite tako sanga anurakta: “ I simply desire to be associated with such pure devotees.”

And while serving with devotees an assured soul knows, “When he gives up his body, he goes directly to become an associate of the Lord and serve Him, although he does the same thing even in a material body in the material world.” (SB 9.13.9 purport)

If we try to express our desires to take birth again in this world without having the certainty and assurance of eternal spiritual grounding, we could be moving ahead of ourselves. This is why Srila Prabhupada encouraged a more realistic prospect of desiring to go back to Godhead. Besides, having a genuine realised desire to go wherever Krishna wants us to go, stems from relishing real taste for chanting Hare Krishna.

When Sri Gauranga Mahaprabhu says in the forth verse of Sri Sikastakam, “I only want Your causeless devotional service birth after birth,” He is – “By saying “life after life” (janmani janmani), the Lord referred not to an ordinary birth but a birth in which to remember the lotus feet of the Lord. Such a body is desirable.” (SB 9.13.9 purport)

According to Srila Bhaktivinoda Thakur’s analysis in his writings like Sri Bhajana Rahasyam and others, this Siksastakam verse equates with having deep taste or Ruchi. In other words, someone possessed of this quality of spiritual progress can have more realisation when and if, the desire for rebirth arises, and is expressed with proper understanding.

It could be that one wants to go back to Godhead because – (SB 9.13.9 purport) “…whereas a nondevotee, having no engagement in the service of the Lord, is very much afraid of accepting a material body or giving up his present one,” could reflect some of the uncertainty. This uncertainty is due to not knowing one’s eternal relationship with Krishna, or even retaining or practicing impersonal concepts in the realm of personal service to the Lord and His devotees.

“Mahārāja Nimi continued: Māyāvādīs generally want freedom from accepting a material body because they fear having to give it up again. But devotees whose intelligence is always filled with the service of the Lord are unafraid. Indeed, they take advantage of the body to render transcendental loving service.” (SB 9.13.9)

To seek relief from material suffering and from bodily inconveniences in order to go back to Godhead, can be a selfish motive. Then again, we are encouraged to use this selfishness for a higher purpose. The fact that we somehow came here at – Anadi – time for some selfish reason, and now wanting some selfish relief, is well worth our effort in going back to Godhead.

At least having returned back to Godhead there will be some capacity to serve the Lord. And in that service one may want to come back down to the material world to help bring back other suffering souls – from an already liberated position. With an assured Godhead situation as this, who would not want to go back home, back to Godhead to render eternal loving service, either here, there or anywhere?

Ys Kesava Krsna Dasa – GRS.

Source: http://www.dandavats.com/?p=9944

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World Holy Name Festival 2019

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Srila Prabhupada’s greatest desire was to spread the chanting of the Holy Names all over the world. To fulfill this desire, Governing Body Commission (GBC) of ISKCON established World Holy Name Day to commemorate Srila Prabhupada Arrival anniversary to the west, during Srila Prabupada’s Centennial in 1996. World Holy Name Day, along with many other Centennial programs was a tremendous success.

Source: http://www.dandavats.com/?p=78433

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Back In Time by Bhaktimarga Swami

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I had proposed to my three companion monks that we visit King's Landing, one of those historic pioneer villages where you step back in time, and see how folks of a European extract lived in the New World.  It wasn't such a hard sell.  "It will be educational, a cultural experience and in a spiritual context, we'll see people in period costume living the more simple life with organic food to depend on and a lifestyle of interdependence—all much like what Prabhupada, our guru, wanted for us."  Such was my pitch.  We moved back to about 1820, the time of the Loyalist migration.

King's Landing is a place I ventured to about twelve years ago with Burlington family, Jagannath and Saci, and is a mere twenty-five minutes from Fredericton.  We loved it.  And from this morning to early afternoon, our team of monks also relished it, and if there had been any apprehension about my proposal, it was clearly removed.  The boys didn't want to leave.  We covered a quarter of the place but reaped the benefit of becoming Grade Ones in the one-room school with our widowed teacher, and spending quality time with the clerk at the General Store, as well as watching Mrs. Valentine prepare her dish of squash.  She blessed us with giving us our choice of veg, a pick-your-own from the garden.  So we secured a whopper of a zucchini.

Another dip in Lake Killarney was a plus to our health regimen.  "It's the first time I swam in years," said Samuel. That was hard to believe.
 
Our evening output was a presentation in Sussex at a dance studio.  In the mix of this presentation, I suggested we learn a Sanskrit verse, 2.14 from the GIta, so we did, but the dance to our kirtanreigned supreme.
 
I must also mention that the Blacksmith at King's Landing was a charmer.  It reminded me of the adage, "Strike while the iron's hot!” meaning don't lose an opportunity.
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Bhaktivedanta Manor is pleased to announce the appointment of Visakha Dasi as Temple President. In August, Visakha Dasi spent time at the Manor and met with various official bodies that represent the community, managers, and trustees. The outcome was a unanimous decision that she was most suitable to lead and inspire the temple community. Former president Sruti Dharma Das welcomed the news: “It is an honour to have such a senior Vaisnavi and disciple of Srila Prabhupada now at the helm.” 

During the interview process, leaders were asked to express what it is that they look for in a temple president. Consistently, their responses were, ‘Someone to care personally for the devotees ... a spiritual presence ... a person who keeps us aligned to His Divine Grace Srila Prabhupada’.

Visakha Dasi is well known in the international devotee community for the time she spent as Srila Prabhupada’s photographer and as an avid writer for Back to Godhead magazine. In more recent years she assisted her husband, Yadubara Das, in producing the award-winning film, Hare Krishna! The Mantra, the Movement and the Swami Who Started It All. Her book Five Years, Eleven Months and a Lifetime of Unexpected Love: A Memoir, which depicts her time spent with Srila Prabhupada, has also won awards and received great reviews.

Gauri Das, managing director at the Manor, said, “The Manor is one of ISKCON’s largest and most important temples. Gifted by George Harrison and founded by Srila Prabhupada, in spiritual heritage and influence Bhaktivedanta Manor plays a significant role. Visakha Dasi will contribute substantially to this ongoing legacy.”

The appointment will begin in January 2020, which is a great conclusion to the 50th anniversary of the incorporation of ISKCON UK celebrations. Chairman of the temple trustees, Navina Krishna Das, said, “The initial proposal of Visakha Dasi actually came as a result of her engagement with the youth. They had found her both inspiring and deeply grounded in the teachings of Krishna consciousness. Even though she was invited to apply for the temple president position, her interview process was rigorous. On each level we found what we were looking for: a depth of spiritual understanding and a sobering maturity in Krishna consciousness. We look forward to working with Visakha Dasi.” 

Visakha Dasi says, “As the temple president of Bhaktivedanta Manor for many years, Sruti Dharma Prabhu has been exemplary in his service and dedication to Srila Prabhupada’s mission. My hope and prayer is that by Srila Prabhupada’s mercy I can follow in his footsteps.”

Source: https://iskconnews.org/bhaktivedanta-manor-uk-announces-new-president,7081/

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In the Bhagavad-Gita, it is mentioned that there is the austerity of the body, austerity of the speech and austerity of the mind. In the austerity of the body, there are things like offering respect to elders. In the austerity of speech, we speak truthfully and such things. In the austerity of the mind however, there is one interesting point. This point that is mentioned is ‘to be satisfied’.

So since when is being satisfied an austerity? Are we experiencing satisfaction as an austerity? 

Well, it means that when we have everything that has come to us in a natural way, then we are not satisfied. We are definitely not satisfied because the nature of the mind is to never be satisfied. Then, we have to control the mind, and tell the mind, “Shut up, mind! Be satisfied. This is what we have got and we are going to deal with this. We are going to be satisfied with this. So that we are not going to waste time to try and get this and that. We are simply going to be satisfied with what we have got and for the rest, we are just going to focus on Krsna.” That is basically what the message is. Be satisfied, so that we can focus on Krsna!

Source: https://www.kksblog.com/2019/09/satisfaction-as-an-austerity/

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On Sunday, September 15, in Dallas, in the presence of Sri Sri Radha-Kalachandji, Srila Prabhupada, and their followers, I was pleased to officially connect eight devotees to Srila Prabhupada and the guru-parampara through hari-nama initiation. Rajesh Sharma became Radha-vallabha dasa, Seema Sharma became Srimati dasi, Deo Pun became Divya Nama dasa, Manju Pun became Manjari dasi, Syamasundara Dasshort became Syama-vallabha dasa, Maria (Maggie) Caldwell became Madhuri Gopika dasi, Vanitha Sukumaran became Vrindavani dasi, and Sudhamani Surekha became Sevanandi dasi. Please bless them and support them in their service to Srila Prabhupada, Sri Chaitanya Mahaprabhu, and their mission.

Initiation talk by Giriraj Swami and Rtadhvaja Swami (Right click to download)

Source: http://www.girirajswami.com/?p=14760

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To me it was just a perfect morning around ten degrees Celsius.  No jacket required or chaudar (the Indian version), but for Samuel, who is slender, Marshall, too, and come to think of it, Nicholas, as well, bundling up was necessary.  Once we all ventured into a good clip walking the trails near the St. John River, over the well-known walking bridge, and into town, we all felt we could do without the extra hides.
 
Goodness, people are friendly.  It must be because everything is smaller and doable.  With a population of less than 60,000, it stands to reason that life in Fredericton is reminiscent of a more laid-back community, but not lazy.  Folks here also take advantage of the trails, including the one that circles around Lake Killarney.  https://www.instagram.com/p/B1qYZUmgd__/?igshid=r55hju5am1r7
 
Nicholas and I took to the lake's waters.  Next to walking, swimming is most compatible.  The last water I swam in was the Pacific, and it was nice, but I always favour the fresh water over the salty stuff.  Basically it's all good.  It's the motto I like to live by.  Count what you have, and not what is out of reach and out of reality.
 
At the lake's edge I came upon a Sikh family, or let's say a man, his wife and a young acquaintance, a student fresh from the Punjab.  The boy was brought by his relatives.  You could see he was shy and very new and having to deal, somewhat, with culture shock and being away from home for the first time, like so many Indian students in Canada.  I tried my best to make the turbaned boy feel at home and to join our local group of chanters if so inclined.  My message for him was, "God is with you!"
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In Italy, near the city of Perugia, is the place called Assisi, the birth place of a very popular saint named Francis. He was the son of a wealthy merchant, but he took up the life of renunciation. Committed to a life of self-imposed poverty, humility, and devotion, he attracted many to follow.

“One day he was walking with one brother Leo from Perugia to a very famous temple, St. Maria of the Angel. He was walking for miles and miles, and it was freezing cold. It was raining and snowing. He asked his brother Leo, “I want you to write down whatever I say.” They were walking and it was already night time. He said, “What is perfect joy? If our brothers give excellent sermons glorifying our God, I do not consider that perfect joy. If our brothers give sight to the blind, they give ability to the lame to walk and to run, they give ability to the dumb to speak and deaf to hear, and even if they raise a dead man back to life, I do not consider that is perfect joy. Even if our brothers are so deeply learned that they know all philosophy and they know all the science and they have memorized expertly all the holy scriptures, I do not consider that perfect joy. Even if our brothers can prophesize what’s going to happen and tell the future and understand astrology and understand the intelligence and the mentality of all species of life and reciprocate with all species in that way, I do not consider that perfect joy.”

Brother Leo was surprised and asked, “Then what is perfect joy?” Saint Francis said, “If we can preach the message of God and convert every human being in the entire world to our faith, I do not consider that perfect joy.” So finally brother Leo said, “Francis, please tell me what then is perfect joy?” He said, “When we get to our destination St. Maria of the Angel and it is freezing cold in the middle of the night, we are covered with mud, and it’s raining on us, and we are starving of hunger and thirst, and then we desperately knock on the door. Then our brother answers the door and he asks, ‘Who are you?’ We say, ‘We are your brothers, this is Leo and I am Francis. We have come to be with you, to have communion with you. Please give us shelter.’ Then he looks up with scorn in his eyes, and says, ‘You are not my brothers. You are liars. You are despicable, low grade thieves pretending to be saints. You are exploiting and torturing poor people. You deserve to be punished. Get out from here.’ And then he slams the door in our in our face. I consider that if we bear that and thank God and forgive that man  - that is perfect joy.”

“Then outside we are suffering so badly and we are freezing, we are starving, we are dying and we are desperately knocking on the door again and he comes to the door and he says, ‘Oh, you are back.’ We say, ‘My brother, we are your brothers. Please show mercy to us, show kindness to us, we are starving, we are freezing, and we are dying.’ Then that man becomes so angry, he picks up a big heavy stick, comes out and screams at us, and grabs us by the neck and repeatedly hits us until we are laying in the snow in bloody mess and he just leaves us there freezing, beaten, and blasphemed. In that state, if we could remember our Lord and think, ‘My Lord I have tolerated all of this and forgiven this man as an offering of my love to You’ brother Leo, that is perfect joy. To expect and bear whatever may come into our life and remember the Lord, forgive and love our brother under all circumstances as an offering to the Lord, that is perfect joy.”

This quality of forgiveness is more illuminating than the light of the sun. Those who“justice or setback to us has to be seen as God’s arrangement. Not a blade of grass moves without the sanction of the Lord. To tolerate and to maintain the consciousness of forgiveness and compassion means, to pray as a well-wisher of everyone  our friends, our family members, and even our competitors and our persecutors. And thus see every situation as an opportunity to sincerely take shelter of the Lord.

Source: http://www.dandavats.com/?p=46862

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As the age of Kali-yuga moves forward, many people are wondering how bad social conditions will get before they improve, and what can we do about it now. Yet the Vedic texts contain a specific prescription for staying free from the heavy influence that this age of Kali-yuga brings.

In spite of all the changes predicted to happen in society and on the planet, there are still many ways, both material and spiritual, to stifle or even get free of Kali-yuga’s influence. If we are going to change anything for the better, now is the time to work at it–while the Golden Age within Kali-yuga lasts.

One of the first things we must understand is that a perfect civilization is based on working with valor while depending on the Supreme. The more godless we become, the more deteriorated and degraded society and this world will be due to allowing the influence of Kali-yuga to come in without any interference. Therefore, we all need to work for our existence, but we need to recognize that we also are dependent on nature, or the gifts of God. For example, a farmer may have planned and worked so hard to acquire full facility to grow food, such as getting land, seeds, and equipment. But he is not in control of the rain. Without proper rainfall all of his endeavors are fruitless. Therefore, he is dependent on the higher powers who can provide such necessities. So although wanting to be independent of everything is natural for numerous people, this is not possible while living in this material world. We are all dependent on so many other beings and things to survive, including the laws of material nature. And, ultimately, it is the Supreme Being who is in charge of those laws. Therefore, the perfection of society is to work to contribute to family and society while depending on and working in harmony with the Supreme Will.

The proper and peaceful view of human existence is described in Srimad-Bhagavatam where it states: “All these cities and villages are flourishing in all respects because the herbs and grains are in abundance, the trees are full of fruits, the rivers are flowing, the hills are full of minerals and the oceans full of wealth. And this is all due to the glance of the Supreme Being.”21

It is natural for humankind and all life on this planet to flourish and be happy by taking advantage of the gifts of nature, such as fruits, grains, vegetables, unpolluted rivers and lakes, fresh air, minerals, jewels, etc. All are supplied by the arrangement of the Supreme. However, if the world is sufficient in these items, then what is the need to hanker after large industrial projects that often exploit men and resources at the cost of slowly destroying the planet and increasing unrest and dissatisfaction in society for the sake of acquiring money?

Often we can see that where there are many industrial businesses, such as mines, factories, workshops, and slaughterhouses, the area becomes dark, filthy and dungeon-like, with low-class residential quarters and slums. The attitude of people in these areas often become low and miserable, with an increase in health problems and a consciousness geared toward immediate sense gratification. As moral standards and consideration of each other goes down, crimes goes up. As dependency on financial gain increases yet the economy and jobs deteriorate, people become more miserable and desperate.

Whereas when residential and working areas are made to nurture our well-being, and include flower gardens, parks, reservoirs of water, and flowering trees, everything is brighter and more enjoyable. When society depends more on the natural resources without the need for manipulating it for increased profits, which are often at the expense of our well-being, then people can live a more balanced and simpler life. Thus, advancement of society should not be estimated solely by the growth of industry and technology. Such measures must at least include the development of the spiritual and finer characteristics of human beings. Otherwise, spending one’s life in factories, slaughterhouses, and mills, simply dulls and deteriorates the finer sentiments of people and poisons the environment in so many ways.

The more dependent we become on artificial necessities, the more vulnerable we are to needless and artificial crises. True independence means being free from being dependent on such artificial needs. Such detachment and independence may be more important than we think if we are to survive those changes that are predicted to happen on the planet and in society. Things we take for granted now may one day be difficult to get.

Now from the spiritual point of view, the Vedic literature naturally puts great emphasis on which spiritual knowledge is necessary to free ourselves from the effects of Kali-yuga. It also explains the method needed to reach a higher level of consciousness and enter a new dimension and higher vibratory level of existence.

The Mahanirvana Tantra explains that Kali-yuga cannot harm those who are purified by truth, who have conquered their passions and senses, are compassionate, devoted to the service of their guru, take care of their mothers and wives, are adherents to the true dharma, and faithful to the performance of its duties. The age of Kali cannot harm those who are free of malice, envy, arrogance, and hatred, and who keep the company of those who are spiritually knowledgeable. The Kali age cannot harm those who perform their penances, pilgrimages, devotions, and purificatory rituals. The age of Kali is but a slave to those who are free of crookedness and falsehood, devoted to the good of others, and who follow the ways of dharma [spiritual merit].22

This may all sound quite lofty, so to help us in knowing the ways of true dharma and bring a change in the atmosphere and social environment, the Srimad Bhagavata-Mahatmya of the Padma Purana states that the Srimad-Bhagavatam (Bhagavata Purana) was expounded in Kali-yuga to guide us and purify the minds of those who listen and learn from it. The Bhagavata-Mahatmya says: “Suta replied: Saunaka, I shall disclose that which is the essence of all established conclusions. I shall tell you that which is capable of dispelling the fear of reincarnation, is prone to swell the tide of devotion, and is conducive to satisfying Lord Krishna. Hear it attentively. The holy scripture known by the name of Srimad-Bhagavatam was expounded in this age of Kali by the sage Shuka with the object of completely destroying the fear of being caught in the jaws of the serpent of time. There is no means other than this conducive to the purification of the mind. One gets to hear Srimad-Bhagavatam only when there is virtue earned in one’s past lives.”23

In this way, we begin to understand the potency of the Srimad-Bhagavatam and why it is so effective for changing the atmosphere and spreading genuine spiritual knowledge in this age. In fact, the Bhagavata-Mahatmya also states: “All these evils of Kali-yuga will surely disappear at the very chanting [or recitation] of Srimad-Bhagavatam, even as wolves take to flight at the very roar of a lion. Then Bhakti (devotion) and Jnana (knowledge) and Vairagya (detachment) will dance in every heart and in every home.”24

The Bhagavatam is considered so powerful that, “They [the seers and demigods] came to regard the holy book of Srimad-Bhagavatam as an embodiment of the Lord Himself in the Kali age and capable of conferring the reward of speedy access to Vaikuntha (the divine spiritual realm) by merely being read or heard.”25

Suta Gosvami states in the Bhagavatam itself that, “This Srimad-Bhagavatam is the literary incarnation of God, and is compiled by Srila Vyasadeva, the incarnation of God. It is meant for the ultimate good of all people, and it is all-successful, all-blissful and all-perfect.”26

The Bhagavata-Mahatmya relates many powerful characteristics of the Srimad-Bhagavatam. For example, it states that an opportunity to hear Srimad-Bhagavatam is so uncommon in this world that even the demigods [residents on the higher planetary systems] consider it a rarity to hear it.27 The four Kumaras also state that the Bhagavatam is the essence of the Vedas and Upanishads.28 And a house where it is read every day is a sacred place,29 and if you seek the highest destiny, read even a quarter verse of it every day.30 An assortment of other verses are found that signify that reading Srimad-Bhagavatam is superior to everything else,31 is important for reaching a high destiny and the spiritual world,32 and for gaining spiritual merit,33 and for making sure one’s life is not wasted.34 Other verses explain the importance of taking advantage of the rare opportunity of hearing the Bhagavatam,35 and how focusing on reading or hearing it is superior to everything, including fasting, rituals, going on pilgrimage, or practicing yoga and meditation.36 In conclusion, Srila Vyasadeva himself says that the Bhagavatam is the mature fruit of all Vedic wisdom: “This Bhagavat Purana is as brilliant as the sun, and it has arisen just after the departure of Lord Krishna to His own abode, accompanied by religion, knowledge, etc. Persons who have lost their vision due to the dense darkness of ignorance in the age of Kali shall get light from this Purana.”37

The point of all this is that as you understand this spiritual science, you will automatically understand the other aspects of this material creation and you will have your own spiritual realizations about who and what you are and how you fit into the scheme of things. The more you become spiritually purified, the more clear things will be. Just as when you have a million dollars all of your ten dollar problems are solved, similarly, once you begin to understand the highest levels of spiritual science you also understand the lower levels of existence. Thus, in order to spread as much light and spiritual knowledge in this age as possible, to counteract the pollution and confusion that pervades this planet and the consciousness of society, and to relieve humanity of the influence of Kali-yuga, the use of and familiarity with this Srimad-Bhagavatam is of the utmost importance.

CHAPTER NOTES

21. Srimad-Bhagavatam (1.8.40)

22. Mahanirvana Tantra (4.57-69)

23. Padma Purana, Srimad-Bhagavata-Mahatmya (1.9-12)

24. Ibid., (2.62-63)

25. Ibid., (1.20)

26. Srimad-Bhagavatam (1.3.40)

27. Padma Purana, Srimad-Bhagavata-Mahatmya (1.17)

28. Ibid., (2.67)

29. Ibid., (3.29)

30. Ibid., (3.33)

31. Ibid., (3.32-39)

32. Ibid., (3.40-41)

33. Ibid., (3.30-31)

34. Ibid., (3.42)

35. Ibid., (3.44-50)

36. Ibid., (3.50-51)

37. Srimad-Bhagavatam (1.3.43)

Source: http://www.dandavats.com/?p=3229

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By Ukranian IMCPA ( Ministry for Cow Protection and Agriculture)

Ukraine held the first ISKCON Farm Organization meeting in New Mayapur, from the 16-18th of August. The event targeted on how to accomplish the recent GBC resolution that by Janmastami 2022, all ISKCON centers should have a plan on how to supply the Deities with Dairy from protected cows.

New Mayapur, Ukraine, is located on the territory of an ex-pioneer camp in the protected forest and on the bank of the river Oryl, which is one of the cleanest rivers in Ukraine. The nearest village is 4 km and only 108 km from the Dnipro International Airport.

This project started in 2006, and for the last 13 years, they have been conducting various education courses and festivals with spiritual leaders of the International Society for Krishna Consciousness. Their 360-square-foot pandal can accommodate up to 500 guests.

The concept of the New Mayapur project is displayed in a unique way, where ISKCON holds 3 hectares for spiritual and educational activities. Also, different devotees have businesses that support the activities of ISKCON in adjacent areas.

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One of these is an organic farm managed by Premarasa members use plots of land to produce food on the 150 hectares of land certified for organic production.

They make their own hummus from vermicomposting. Members grow spelt wheat, rye, pumpkin and other crops. On more than 10 hectares they also produce organic raspberry, strawberry and currant which they sell frozen to Europe.

Another project is an Ayurvedic clinic, which is managed by a couple, Vijaya Govinda prabhu and Gokula Taruni devi dasi. The guest houses of the clinic are built and decorated in an authentic Ukrainian style and they use Ukrainian herbs to treat the patients. It is a successful program and shows direction towards including healing practices in ISKCON farm projects.

For the meeting around 40 delegates were present from different private projects across Ukraine and there were many devotees who are advocates of simple living and high thinking like bhakta Eugene and his wife bhaktin Svitlana who have taken part in organizing related events for the past 10 years.

HH Bhakti Raghava Swami and HG Adikarta prabhu (ACBSP) participated in the round table for supplying dairy products from protected cows to the Deities in Ukraine. HH Bhakti Raghava Swami emphasized that every temple could have their own cows. HG Adikarta prabhu also noted that unless we show some real and viable farm examples based on the teachings of Srila Prabhupada, we could end up becoming just armchair philosophers.

This event is part of the Farm Conference Cycle held by the GBC Ministry of Cow Protection and Agriculture (IMCPA) in partnership with regional IMCPA representatives and local ISKCON projects.

The leaders of the Ukrainian yatra presented valuable inputs for the development of the region. HH Niranjana Swami as the GBC member for the area opened the event by describing the importance of cow protection and agriculture for devotees. As he is constantly traveling he observes how many devotees have to struggle with the high costs and stress that the urban lifestyle imposes, which can impact their spiritual practice as well.

HG Acyuta Priya prabhu as a Zonal Secretary stated that he wishes to see the right seeds planted in the region. He believes that truly sustainable projects gearing towards self-sufficiency will accomplish the mission so much desired by Srila Prabhupada.

One of the main focuses of the event was to address the issue of supplying dairy from protected cows to the Deities in the Yatra. The presence of the leaders was a direct response to the GBC resolution that temples should make a plan to provide dairy from protected cows by Janmastami 2022. The Ukrainian Yatra was first in starting this discussion on a national level. During the meeting, there were three breakout groups: producers, temple representatives, and leaders. The dialogue was very insightful and helped indicate potential challenges and opportunities. Everyone agreed that progress in cow protection efforts relies on the members’ ability to act on Vaishnava principles.

The Yatra already gave a big step by quantifying the current demand. The discussions revealed that the dairy supply should be based on relationships. Also, a set of standards would be ideal to understand if the farm is genuinely slaughter-free.

To tackle such a big task there needs to be great cooperation between different segments of devotees, who are to develop a qualified and pragmatic approach. Reports show how a sentimental perspective on cow protection has led to unplanned difficulties. There is much work to be done, and attendees were happy that a very focused discussion started. Some described it as a major breakthrough.

Education needs were identified as the most solid outcome of the event. Therefore the last session was dedicated to choosing a venue and topics for the first Ukrainian Farm Conference to take place in 2020.

The Ukrainian representatives of the Ministry attended the European ISKCON Farm Meeting in the Czech Republic two weeks later where Ukraine was unexpectedly almost unanimously voted as the next destination for the European Farm Conference, which brings two conferences to a convergence.

Video: Click here

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