blogs (386)

Great at the Lake by Bhaktimarga Swami

10830593861?profile=RESIZE_400x

Kaustubha and I were ambling along at Lake Erie’s edge in Lakewood Park when one of the many, shall I say, “worshipers” of the water and sun noticed my garb. “Oh! Monk! Yeah! I agree!” As he gives me a fist pump. Perhaps to say “worshiper” was a trait bit over the top, but in reality, people from this neighborhood and the greater Cleveland area come to the spot where massive and smooth concrete blocks have been placed as if stairways for giants; some kind of grandstand for viewing the sun setti

Read more…

Embrace Encouragement by Bhaktimarga Swami

10829595467?profile=RESIZE_584x

This morning a handful of Columbus congregants and I took to trekking along the Ohio River on Riverside. What was to be more of a chanting walk ended up being more of a chatting walk. The conversation hovered around the direct versus indirect sending of the message of the Gita to the world. The trail along the river, with fresh air and blue skies, made for that clear head experience and so I offered my opinion; that we need both.

Boat rowing was going on up and down the current of the Ohio as w

Read more…

Finale by Bhaktimarga Swami

10828759069?profile=RESIZE_400x

It was a drizzle of a morning but that was no roadblock for some enthusiasts to circum-ambulate the lake at New Vrindavan. There has been no conversation during the strolls around the lake, named Rada Kunda. When our mantra sessions were completed at today’s half-point, I had several devotees from various locations say that it was the first time they ever walked with a swami and just chanted those mantras. It is my hope at least some of them would return to their respective places and form japa

Read more…

10827433484?profile=RESIZE_584x

I spent the bulk of the day in the residence of Chandra and Kalpana with their son Gertik (it’s his birthday), 14, and daughter Dashika, 11. They live in a place called Dublin, a bedroom community to Columbus.

Ohio state university at 60,000 students has one of the largest student populations in the US. Chandra was kind to take me to several park trails. The area is just perfectly manicured with grass. The entire neighborhood, in fact, with ponds, fountains and trees, leaves one in awe of this

Read more…

10825996870?profile=RESIZE_400x

The air was still and most comfortable as twelve of us were inside our Toronto ashram, when two chubby raccoons were milling around looking for food. By the time we got outside, loading our vehicle with weekend backpacks, destined for West Virginia, we saw a coyote racing down our street. He was on a similar program as the chubby ones – where is the food?

Generally, you find hungry gatherers and hunters busy in the dark but our purpose in being up so early, 4:45 am, was for yoga and a journey,

Read more…

Two Winners by Bhaktimarga Swami

10818366870?profile=RESIZE_400x

The smaller communities we have established in recent years are all doing well in terms of governance, attendance and participation. Financially things are also doing all right. Even during the pandemic, none of our places of education and spiritual wellness suffered in a major way. At least not in “Zone One” of North America, which I am responsible for. This is, by the way, the krpa of God — mercy from the Universe.

Two such centres were on my visiting list today – Scarborough and Milton. Scar

Read more…

On a Podcast by Bhaktimarga Swami

10809429681?profile=RESIZE_400x

Kushal Mehra is host to a regular podcast from India who found out about me as a Canadian monastic and marathon walker. It was this morning that he arranged for a recording on the Charvaka Project.

Our guru, Prabhupada, used to bring to our attention a person by the name of Charvaka Muni, whos philosophy propounded that you beg, borrow or steal ghee and enjoy life. Ghee, clarified butter, was a symbol of wealth, so the message was to be the mundane enjoyer. Nothing else matters too much. There’

Read more…

10761621698?profile=RESIZE_400x

It was quite awesome to see the number of people come in the evening for prasadam and to hear about “Tales from Trails.” Radha Madhava and Svasti hosted the dozens of families in their home on the north east end of town.

I was just completing my weekly “Gita Chat” on Zoom, as we delved into chapter 3, verse 10, talking all about yajna (sacrifice) and its prevalence. Then I shifted gears to get on another Zoom call with my siblings as we usually do when there’s a birthday among us. Today it was

Read more…

10740727273?profile=RESIZE_584x

White City, with a population of approximately 4,000 people, and growing, is an upper middle-class type of town. Many trees have been planted here and the urban green trails are plentiful. Poplar trees are indigenous to the area, as were prairie grasses and tiger lilies until European farmers cleared these areas. There are spots where you can sit, wait ’til the deer come, and enjoy some shanti (peace) as if you are plopped in the middle of tranquil Vrndavana.

It was in Regina at Retallack Stree

Read more…

Neat Exchanges by Bhaktimarga Swami

10732822888?profile=RESIZE_584x

I was sitting next to Gil on the Air Canada flight to Regina. He explained that he and his buddies from Hamilton are off to a Metis fest to play their music. “It’s rock, Creedence Clearwater Revival music. We go all around.” Gil pointed to his t-shirt with a logo which reads, “Mystic River,” the name of their band.

Gil was just a great dude to talk to although the chat was brief, only after we landed. The flight was tough – poor movement of air as we were in the back corner and with masks on th

Read more…

10518943897?profile=RESIZE_400x

After delivering some classes on the Gita for the evening, to accommodate families that work during the day, Vallabha Hari and I took that stroll through Yorkville. The weather was just perfect. It hit twenty-three degrees Celsius. Every fragrant flower, bush, or tree is in full bloom. Lit evening lampposts reveal every colour that foliage provides.

“I am flower-bearing spring,” the Lord describes in the Gita.

People, too, are very much alive. It’s Friday. The work week is over. There are lots

Read more…

10500512283?profile=RESIZE_400x

At the Montessori school in Russell, some chipper remarks came my way from the young students. One of the young boys said, “We made you,” and what he was referring to is that before my arrival, for quite some time, the kids became familiar with “The Walking Monk” through a children’s book of the same name. I guess you could say I was the special guest in three classrooms. What the boy was referring to was that the staff had the students colour Walking Monk cut-outs from paper and attached them

Read more…

Two Towns by Bhaktimarga Swami

10474628655?profile=RESIZE_584x

The Stouffville group is great; very attentive to the message based on verses 8 and 9 of Chapter Five (Bhgavad Gita). The theme established was what is good separation and what is bad separation?

First of all, Krishna addresses, through the channel of sankhya philosophy, that the body must be seen as separate from the self. For instance, He mentions that merely talking, sleeping, breathing, and even evacuating – all actions of the body – are to be perceived as aloof from the person, the soul. E

Read more…

Some Milestones by Bhaktimarga Swami

10400859057?profile=RESIZE_400x

My right knee is healing well, so I put it to the test. It was approaching midnight. I was restless and, in a way, to execute some physio therapy, I thought to go down two flights of stairs and look around to the last round of renovations being completed. I’m personally excited about having those renos done. I’m counting the days when we cut the ribbon for this new training area called “Bhakti Academy.”

I descended the stairs with my ice pack on the bad knee, the left one. I looked around and c

Read more…

I Love It by Bhaktimarga Swami

10271470069?profile=RESIZE_400x

It was dark but the night was still fairly young when Vallabha and I were strolling through a pedestrian lane in Rosedale, when three young women, arm in arm, were oncoming. One of the girls took notice of my saffron and just lit up. “I love it!” she blurted out.

And then a young man carrying his disassembled bike also noted my monastic duds and asked, “Are you a Hare Krishna monk?” And, “Indeed!” I clarified. I was happy he didn’t deliver the usual line, “Are you Buddhist?” Afterall, Buddhists

Read more…

Where We Started by Bhaktimarga Swami

10256643868?profile=RESIZE_584x

It was back in 1968 that Hare Krishna devotees first appeared on Canadian soil, at Phillips Square. The popular world Expo, which began the year before at Canada’s 100 year celebration, was extended over from ’67. Well, faithfully you will still see the Krishnas at that corner, the juncture of Sainte-Catherine and Union. Due to renovations, the Square is blocked off, hence our lively chanting troupe of today went kitty-corner in front of a heritage church.

What is really appealing about recent

Read more…

About Dad by Bhaktimarga Swami

10107114078?profile=RESIZE_400x
Shortly after my father passed away in 2008, I wrote a poem in his honour, a way of saying “Thanks!” It will be his birthday on the 1st of February. He was born in the Netherlands, the place of tulips, in 1919. As a member of the Vaishnava tradition, bhakti yoga, we have a natural obligation to feel for our parents who did so much for us. Here’s my poem:

About Dad

Dear Creator

 

You struck a good balance

When you linked the leaf and petal

Came a man of heart and muscle

Smooth as silk, hard as me

Read more…

Help Each Other by Bhaktimarga Swami

10056704093?profile=RESIZE_400xNature did us a wonderful favour when she dumped tons of snow on the ground, on rooftops, trucks and automobiles as well as on snow. Yes, snow upon snow. It engulfed the north-eastern front of the continent. Perhaps for the first time in months the public had a break from hearing about covid and omicron. What came more in the minds of motorists, in particular, was, “Will I get home safe in this storm?”

From my window, I could see people stuck in deep snow and others with tires spinning, but the

Read more…

Two Walkers Made It by Bhaktimarga Swami

10023675859?profile=RESIZE_584x

I learned about a couple that survived a 4-month walk from Mexico to Canada along the Continental Divide. In 2017, I crossed the Divide in Colorado and it was at that location that a journalist caught up with me and said, “You’re on the highest point at this watershed. If you pee here, half of the fluid will go to the Atlantic and the other will flow to the Pacific.”

In any event, the American couple trekking this heroic trail exercised true social distancing with their backpacking. Their names

Read more…

Less Emotion by Bhaktimarga Swami

9983796692?profile=RESIZE_400x

Video: Clcik here

Erin Centre Trail had a surface of slush on it but that didn’t discourage this walking monk. The trail is flat and the area is peaceful. Only when it approaches the open fields do I hear the call of the coyote community. Of course, at this predawn hour, they clear their throats, causing a howling and marking the time.

I was grateful to Dharma and Manasi Ganga, whose home is a minute’s walk from the south end of the trail. My two-day stay was pleasant. It ended at noon when Dha

Read more…