bhaktimarga swami (191)

A strong man by Bhaktimarga Swami

6579430486?profile=RESIZE_400xWithin one hour of the start of my walking, the classic question came my way, first by three Chinese-Canadians.

“Are you a monk?”

“Yes, indeed.”

The second time the question was posed came from a Black Canadian standing at the corner of Yonge and Dundas. I wasn’t sure if he was poised to cross, but when I began answering, he remained planted right there, eager to listen.

“I am a monk. It’s a good life,” I said.

“So you’re celibate? You don’t have sex with your wife?” was his curious question.


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I walked northbound through three boroughs on a nineteen kilometre stretch beginning at 5:30 a.m., to the home of a very active member of our community. Rupanuga turned seventy-three today. It was his birthday.

Halfway through I realized I was trekking in the neighborhood of Pauline, my sister, a hairdresser. She wasn’t going to do my hair. However, I did want to drop in and say “Hello!” if not a “Haribol.”  I wasn’t that early, once I reached her home off Bathurst. However, no one answered my

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6521621663?profile=RESIZE_400xI had crossed the bridge over the ravine, carrying my meditation beads in my left hand while fingering each bead. A local person on his bicycle noticed them. He stopped and asked, “Is that a rosary?” 

Now, this occurred shortly after I passed by a home with several people gathered on an extensive veranda who had also noticed my dangling strand of 108 beads. They seemed to be a bit ‘tipsy.’ I guess they were all friends—drinking buddies. They got kind of excited by my appearance. They approved. A

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I did walk a piece today. I did wait a piece today—in the dentist clinic waiting room. A woman in front of me, age sixty, brunette to red hair—ponytailed—at the inquiry desk, left her queue to sit down. I followed.

“So you’re a monk?” she began.


“What order?”

“Hare Krishna!”

“Oh yeah! Why the colour?”

“This saffron tone is reserved for celibate monks. It’s a colour worn before one’s married, and after retirement. I never got married. I’ve had this colour all these years.”

“When did you j

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It’s All Good by Bhaktimarga Swami

6428016670?profile=RESIZE_400xThis particular cyclist really gets around. I’ve met him now on so many different streets. I guess it’s mutual. I also get “out and about,” as the expression goes. My friend, on his two wheels, was telling me of his new program—a fast consisting of only water. He also mentioned a second abstinence—violence.

“I’m not listening to the news and not watching violent films like Thor or Captain America,” he said.

I assumed he feels light-hearted and more at peace with himself. He concurred when I aske

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I’ve known Corrado for a number of years, since he first started coming to our temple/ashram. He first met one of our exemplary devotees, Shyama Mohini, who has a passion for distributing the books of our guru, Prabhupada.  This happened on a street in Toronto.  Corrado is indebted to her for being his initial contact.

From then on, Corrado began attending bhakti-yoga gatherings, held at the Bhakti Lounge. He experienced a growing interest in the process of chanting, philosophizing, eating grea

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Homeless Hanuman by Bhaktimarga Swami


What I’m going to say I’m sure will sound familiar to you.

Someone I hadn’t seen for a while entered my mind view.

I reached Kensington on foot and the dude-in-thought manifest.

His name is Hanuman and it’s here that he rests. 

“I’m glad to see you,” he said, “I like it here. I even kicked the habit of drinking beer.”

I cheered the tall but disheveled Hanuman, who has no home and no coins in his palm.

I gave him a pair of gloves last year for the winter.

I’m sure he forgot as his life has no ce

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6344276656?profile=RESIZE_400xI broke away halfway through our morning sadhana while our monks were engaged in chanting, mantra-hearing and bhakti discussion, to meet and visit with a first cousin. Her name is Corry and she’s a social worker.  Her husband, Eric, with similar credentials, also came by when we rendezvoused in Ramsden Park. We caught up on life, did some reminiscing and also discussed the world situation, which is far from bright. One area of total agreement within our discussion was the human need for a spirit

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6265964896?profile=RESIZE_400xThere are three reasons for my being very content today. First of all, my brother, Jerry, drove an hour and a half from his home in Peterborough to drop off two boxes of old family photos for me to browse through. These pictures will go back a hundred years to my father’s childhood. There’s a substantial amount of stuff to go through. Another beautiful project to embark upon. 

Secondly, a student/disciple, I hadn’t seen for years, showed up. Mahamantra is from Pickering, east of the city. He cam

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Beat Sticks by Bhaktimarga Swami

6372968878?profile=RESIZE_400xIt was a pleasure, and always will be—a pleasure—to deliver classes on the science of bhakti. I am in my element as it brings me closer to guru and Krishna. We have begun a new chapter in the study of the Bhagavatam, Canto 10, Chapter 25, where Vasudeva, the father of Krishna, expresses the realizations that his two offspring, Krishna and Balarama, are actually Divine mystics; creators of the world, and pradhana—energies of the world. It was fun to explore this subject.

A second class, by way of

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I Got Out by Bhaktimarga Swami

6141710477?profile=RESIZE_400xWow! I got out! Out of the city! What a treat!

With the lockdown culture suddenly lifting some of the restrictions on social gatherings, I’m now about to honour the gesture. One of our members/administrators from Brampton, owns a motel in Orillia, a little over an hour’s drive north of Toronto. Nimai is the owner, and he drove me to the airport to pick up our dear brahmachari monk, Karuna, who has been stuck in India for the past three months.

He looks just fine, only he could use a little more

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6372530459?profile=RESIZE_400xCorrado cycled over to Allen Gardens, with the mrdunga drum strapped to his back, and waited there for us walkers. This is a new strategy we’re trying. Each night, after our serenade of sorts (musical display at our stairwell facing the public), those on foot will reach a different park, get down on the grass and start chanting away.  Corrado’s lugging the drum by his bicycle saves us time and a burden.

We reached the garden park, which is just across the street from our old temple/ashram, at 18

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6109956889?profile=RESIZE_400xThere are not too many ways to get around in this self-same body without the use of any conveyance. I would say you could walk, run, crawl or swim and that’s about it. Forget about flying by thrusting yourself off a cliff. We just don’t have, as a human, the mechanism to float through the air. The human frame has got its limitations. Oh, how we can admire an eagle in flight or even an earthworm burying through the soil!

The advantage of being a human is the gift of cultivating our spiritual pote

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Preferences by Bhaktimarga Swami


From the Biblical teachings of Psalm 84:10, it is said: “Better is one day in the courts of the Lord than a thousand elsewhere. I would rather be a doorkeeper in the house of my God than dwell in the tents of the wicked.”

The above was quoted to me by one of our resident monks, Hara Kumar—well at least the first line—when I told him that I am enjoying life in the temple ashram. “It is the place of Gopinath (Krishna) and I’m loving it,” I told him. Actually, between the two of us combined, we ha

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My phone rang. On the phone’s display I saw the name of my brother—Jerry Vis. I answered.

“How are you, Jerry?”

“Great! You’re walking?” He could hear me pacing, breathing, panting slightly.

“Yes, I am.”

“You’re in Toronto?” he asked.

“Yes, rather grounded, but liking it.”

“What street are you on?”

“Huntley Street; I’m headed for the library on Wellesley. What are you up to?” I asked Jerry.

“I’ve been laying bricks in the laneway.”

“Hard work!”

“It’s okay! Some gardening, biking.”

“Stay away fro

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5908487458?profile=RESIZE_400xIn the last few days, through the medium of Zoom, we have spoken on topics of “Teamwork in Spiritual Life,” “Happiness,” “The Importance of Relationship,” “Worry,” “Grooming a New Generation,” “Samadhi,” “Surrender in Modern Times,” and more. It has been good, especially when the sessions allow for questions and answers. It is the way to stay connected in these times, when travel is frozen, or, at best, thawing.

In any event, nothing is going to stop my walking various distances through the neig

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Our Own Identity by Bhaktimarga Swami

5875487053?profile=RESIZE_400xWhen you walk the streets (with caution re: Covid-19) as I do, in full monk regalia, you do get to see how the public identifies you. In popular Yorkville, on Cumberland Street, despite most shops there being closed, the out-and-about culture is very apparent. So when I ambled along that street I came upon five men chatting. One of them, an Afro-Canadian, broke from his buddies and identified me as a “Haribol!” This I find to be a common address, coined affectionately for Krishna devotees, in so
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Cranky Old Man by Bhaktimarga Swami

5841368865?profile=RESIZE_400xI couldn’t resist putting the following poem out there—Sent by Hadai Pandit of Vancouver. The author’s name is not mentioned.
Cranky old man
What do you see nurses?…what do you see?
What are you thinking… when you’re looking at me?
A cranky old man… not very wise,
Uncertain of habit… with faraway eyes?
Who dribbles his food…and makes no reply.
When you say in a loud voice… I do wish you‘d try! 
Who seems not to notice…the things that you do.
And forever is losing… a sock or a shoe?
Who, resi
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5794852290?profile=RESIZE_400xI trekked with Leonard who, from what I can understand, is working his way up to becoming a rabbi. We spoke about Judaism and Krishna Consciousness and compared notes. The current unrest with racial tension in the States was also part of the dialogue. It’s a concern. Even here in Toronto, shops are boarding up to protect their windows, in case the peaceful protest breaks apart.
After the walk I wrote a poem:
Peace Protest Poem.©Bhaktimarga Swami 2020
Anger has been flaring, voices have
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5759590496?profile=RESIZE_400xI try to reach a different destination every day, and today was Riverdale Farm (currently closed due to Covid 19). It’s my first visit to the area, and the park next to the barnyard is a mere 3.9 kilometres from my residence at the temple/ashram. My intent here was to meet up with Saumeer, whom I’ve known since he was a kid.
It feels strange, though. He’ll be fifty this month. In 1976, our guru, Prabhupada, came to town, and congratulated us on the purchase of the old Christian church which we
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