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God is both great and sweet. Awareness of his greatness evokes submission, and awareness of his sweetness evokes affection. Devotee-seekers need to be aware of both features, for submission and affection symbiotically reinforce devotion.
November 15th celebrated the one year anniversary of the Sadaputa Digital Channel on Youtube featuring over 100 lectures and videos about Vedic perspectives on modern science by Sadaputa Dasa, Dr. Richard L. Thompson, one of Srila Prabhupadas original founding members of the Bhaktivedanta Institute.
Gopisvari Dasi shares how her mother raised her and her siblings in the most beautiful way. She made each one of them feel included and valued. Because she was always happy even with very little to call her own and also in adverse situations they learned how to do the same! Watch as she shares wonderful nuggets of wisdom from how her own mother and other mothers from the movement included her and nurtured her in her life in Krishna Consciousness. Gopisvari Dasi grew up in the Hare Krishna movement and is currently a Pujari/Priest at the ISKCON of Washington DC temple
Mukunda Goswami is making a slow but steady recovery from his two surgeries. On November 6, Mukunda Maharaja was transferred from Gold Coast University hospital to the rehabilitation facility of Murwillumbah hospital, which is a 15-minute drive from New Govardhan farm community. In the next 12 days that followed, the local medical staff have been doing their best to gradually encourage Mukunda Goswami towards complete recovery.
Kadamba Kanana Swami toured Australia from 29 September-16 October. Below is the final batch of recordings from his various programs. You may find Part 1 by clicking here. To download, right-click on a title and “save-link-as” or listen online by hitting the “play” button.
Sydney and Gold Coast https://archive.org/download/KKSAUSNGV12Oct2015EveningKirtan/KKS_AUS_SYD_11Oct2015_SB_1.7.49.mp3 https://archive.org/download/KKSAUSNGV12Oct2015EveningKirtan/KKS_AUS_SYD_11Oct2015_Evening_Kirtan.mp3 https://archive.org/download/KKSAUSNGV12Oct2015EveningKirtan/KKS_AUS_SYD_11Oct2015_Evening_Lecture.mp3 https://archive.org/download/KKSAUSNGV12Oct2015EveningKirtan/KKS_AUS_NGV_12Oct2015_Evening_Kirtan.mp3 https://archive.org/download/KKSAUSNGV12Oct2015EveningKirtan/KKS_AUS_NGV_13Oct2015_SB_7.14.1.mp3 https://archive.org/download/KKSAUSNGV12Oct2015EveningKirtan/KKS_AUS_NGV_13Oct2015_Evening_Lecture.mp3 https://archive.org/download/KKSAUSNGV12Oct2015EveningKirtan/KKS_AUS_NGV_14Oct2015_SB_7.14.2.mp3 https://archive.org/download/KKSAUSNGV12Oct2015EveningKirtan/KKS_AUS_NGV_14Oct2015_Evening_Kirtan.mp3 https://archive.org/download/KKSAUSNGV12Oct2015EveningKirtan/KKS_AUS_NGV_14Oct2015_Evening_Lecture.mp3 https://archive.org/download/KKSAUSNGV12Oct2015EveningKirtan/KKS_AUS_NGV_15Oct2015_SB_7.14.3-4.mp3 https://archive.org/download/KKSAUSNGV12Oct2015EveningKirtan/KKS_AUS_NGV_16Oct2015_Evening_Kirtan.mp3 https://archive.org/download/KKSAUSNGV12Oct2015EveningKirtan/KKS_AUS_NGV_16Oct2015_Evening_Lecture.mp3
ISKCON devotees in the United Kingdom recently got the chance to meet with both British Prime Minister David Cameron, and Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi. On November 10th, for the third year in a row, Bhaktivedanta Manor temple president Srutidharma Das was invited to chant prayers at an official Diwali function at Number 10 Downing Street.
Being now alone and a widow in that forest, the daughter of Vidarbha began to lament, incessantly shedding tears, which soaked her breasts, and crying very loudly.
Figuratively the queen is supposed to be the disciple of the king; thus when the mortal body of the spiritual master expires, his disciples should cry exactly as the queen cries when the king leaves his body.
Giriraj Swami: That is certainly what happened when Srila Prabhupada left his body. Not only in Vrindavan but all over the world and here in New Dwaraka when the announcement was made.
However, the disciple and spiritual master are never separated because the spiritual master always keeps company with the disciple as long as the disciple follows strictly the instructions of the spiritual master. This is called the association of vani (words). Physical presence is called vapuh. As long as the spiritual master is physically present, the disciple should serve the physical body of the spiritual master, and when the spiritual master is no longer physically existing, the disciple should serve the instructions of the spiritual master.
—Srimad Bhagavatam 4.28.47
The end of an era…
Amidst the cows in the goshala and the soft Vrindavan sand, lies the samadhis of the sons and daughters of Srila Prabhupada whose lives are etched in dedicated service. On Tuesday, 10th November, we gathered there to place the ashes of HG Brahmananda Prabhu into samadhi. It is a challenge to do justice to this event in mere paragraphs. The colossal collection of saints present at this gathering was enough to give one goose bumps.
Indraduymna Swami called Brahmananda Prabhu his vartmapradakshaka guru (the first person who connected him to the path of devotion). He mentioned how Brahmananda Prabhu often cried when speaking about Srila Prabhupada and how this was reciprocal because Srila Prabhupada cried when he heard about Brahmandas preaching in Africa. Radhanath Swami explained how he was the first person in the Western world to dance in Lord Caitanyas kirtan. Besides these giants in the sankirtan mission, there were those who were very close to Brahmananda Prabhu, his caretaker, his secretary from the 70’s and Navayogendra Swami who served with him in Africa. Others mentioned that he was also the first temple president, the first to publish the Srila Prabhupada’s Gita by Macmillan, the first to give Prabhupada the Krsna book and the first to go into Africa and Brazil, when no one else wanted to go.
Brahmananda Prabhu’s brother, Gargamuni, mentioned how Srila Prabhupada said that his financial problems where solved when Brahmananda came. He gave his $400 pay check to Srila Prabhupada each month and asked him each day for the 25 cents he needed to take the bus to work. There were many loyal godbrothers and godsisters including Malati mataji, Laxmimoni Mataji and other Vrindavan veterans. Guru Kripa Prabhu mentioned a dream he had of Brahmananda Prabhu where he appeared in a lean, effulgent form and insinuated that Guru Kripa would really enjoy what Srila Prabhupada had in store for them (in the after life). Burijana Prabhu called Brahmananda Prabhu’s book, “Swamiji”, as the ultimate love story of one who gave their heart at young age and never wavered.
Kadamba Kanana Swami highlighted the innocent and unassuming nature of Brahmananda and his simple focus on what Srila Prabhupada wanted. He mentioned how once Brahmananda Prabhu was asked a question that sounded like, “For you it seems that Srila Prabhupada is God.” Brahmananda Prabhu responded by saying, “No. No. I made that mistake before. The guru is not God. He is as good as God. But these days I begin to think that he is better than God because he came to New York and saved me.” And Brahmananda Prabhu began to cry. Maharaj added that Brahmananda Prabhu was also not just lost in those moments he shared with Prabhupada over forty years ago but was very aware of the preaching happening currently around the world and thus even at the very end, Brahmananda Prabhu still felt responsible for Prabhupada’s mission. When Tamal Krsna Goswami passed away, Maharaj and Brahmananda Prabhu stood at the gates of Mayapur awaiting the arrival of his body. Brahmananda Prabhu commented that it was not the end of Tamal Krsna Maharaj but the end of an era. Similarly, Maharaj commented that this was also not the end of Brahmananda Prabhu but the end of an era. “Where would we ever find another Brahmananda?” he questioned.
We were purified by the dust of Vrindavan, by the presence of vaishnavas of exalted caliber, by simply hearing of Brahmananda Prabhu’s deep qualities; his impenetrable devotion to Srila Prabhupada , his incredible contribution and his soft heart.
It was a day to etch into eternal memory lest we forget the shoulders of the giants upon whom we stand.
As many of our devotees may recall, Mayor Tory took part in our Ratha-Yatra (Festival of India) celebrations this past July and he spent several hours at our festival, visiting the booths, taking darshan (audience) of the Deities and addressing the crowd at the main stage! A nice connection was made and so we got a personal invitation to attend his Diwali celebrations.
Bhaktimarga Swami and members of the ISKCON Toronto Temple Council attended the event and they absolutely enjoyed meeting many esteemed members of the South Asian community. The evening began with mingling and refreshments, continued with musical performances and then concluded with a very inspiring speech by the Mayor himself.
Upon meeting the Mayor during the post-event mingling session, he immediately said, "What an amazing time we had on the Toronto Islands! Thank you for inviting me to that special festival!" It was nice to see that the Ratha-Yatra (Festival of India), our biggest festival of the year, made such a positive impression on the Mayor and that it was so memorable for him.
Check out the pictures of the event below! Also, we've captured a "screenshot" of Mayor Tory's Twitter account as he "retweeted" the Temple Council's tweet about the event to his 82,000 Twitter followers! Hare Krsna!
Pictures from Diwali Celebrations @ City Hall
Photo Gallery by QuickGallery.com
We contacted one of our stalwart leaders of our community, Rupanuga prabhu, and he happily obliged. A few Sundays ago, Gurpreet came to the temple and met with Rupanuga prabhu. We are happy to report that Gurpreet received very positive remarks for the finished project. Check out the resulting video below (the sound is a little poor for the first few minutes, but improves after the 7:20 mark). Great job, Gurpreet!
No ISKCON devotees or congregation members were hurt during the terrorist attacks on Paris on Friday November 13th, in which 129 people were killed at six locations throughout the French capital. Yet some congregation members living close to the Bataclan concert hall, where 80 people died, were shaken when they overheard the violence.
Kirtan amongst the sages in Vrindavan
Like the forest of Naimisaranya adorned with sages, Vrindavan, in the soft radiance of Kartik, blossoms with an impressive bouquet of saints of international hue. They stoke the yajna of glorifying Krsna and the steady throng of pilgrims flow into its flames like rivers of ghee. Everything is all-auspicious.
At the center of the sacrifice is Sri Sri Krsna Balarama Mandir and on 5th November, Kadamba Kanana Swami sat amongst the sages and spoke from the sacred Bhagavatam (6.2.27). The theme was the life of Ajamila and in the purport, Srila Prabhupada elaborated on the benefits of atonement. Maharaj put things in perspective with the befitting analogy of “walking the tight rope”. The devotee who attempts pure devotional service begins to walk the thin, high rope of bhakti – the path of transcendence. However, the intelligent practitioner will ensure that there is a safety net below. The safety net is the weave of the mode of goodness that will prevent one from crashing to the ground, should he slip on the path. Maharaj mentioned that atonement is one of the principles that form that safety net. To regret our mistakes is healthy, yet it is not our goal nor focus. We try to remain on the tight rope of bhakti, with our eyes focused on the goal, never flinching, for that is the only way one can walk the tight rope! Watch a video of the lecture by clicking here.
The next day, we were all aboard for a parikrama, with Maharaj stationed behind the bus driver. The first stop was Yavat, where Srimati Radharani resided after her marriage. Maharaj shared the pastime of Krsna disguising himself as a celestial maiden who sang with incomparable sweetness. Then we were off to Kokilavana where Krsna imitated the sound of the cuckoos singing in the forests with such beauty and precision that the gopis were immediately attracted. Maharaj described these as the stolen moments of Radha and Krsna. But how could we, with eyes made of flesh and brains of dull matter, imbibe these high pastimes? Instead, Maharaj took the hint from Krsna’s singing that the only way was through the shelter of kirtan. And our parikrama became a wave of kirtan of different moods and mellows in different places, including the bus. As Maharaj led the worship through sound, our voices rose in service to the holy name. We eventually gathered at Prema-sarovara, a place where Radha and Krsna’s tears of separation, although in each others presence, combined to form a lake. And we sat and chanted in sweet kirtan. Like the sastra says, the best way to see Vrindavan is to hear. Suddenly our intimate kirtan was hijacked by a group of pilgrims who were touched by the sonorous flow of mercy and joined in – each with their own unique dance moves. After a spontaneous harinam, circumambulating the lake of pure love, we left its shores – but the kirtan came with us.
And it continued on Sunday, 8th November, at the grand sankirtan festival on the land where a new gurukula facility is in the making. In truth, we were in the middle of nowhere with barren land as far as I could see. Yet such is India; all you need is a pandal, eager ears and saintly souls, and it is a party. We arrived to welcoming kirtan by little yellow gurukuli boys who led us to the breakfast spot and served us with heart warming sincerity. And then the eight hour kirtan mela took over with Sacinandan Swami and Madhava Prabhu. Maharaj arrived to up-the-tempo just before lunch. The evening played host do kirtan giants such as Lokanatha Swami amongst others.
And the holy name remains the lens through which one may get a glimpse of Vrindavan!
There was a general sense of happiness in the atmosphere today. The great weather made a major contribution. Many walkers hit the trail, as I did, along Balfour Park, The Brickworks, and beyond.
However, a touch of sadness naturally grasps the heart for those of us who remember the passing of our teacher, Srila Prabhupada. It has been 38 years of this anniversary event. I chose to read a passage from his biography to a gathering of devotees before I took to walking. The letter was addressed to him from one of his spiritual daughters. The contents of the letter are as follows:
Dear Srila Prabhupada,
This shawl is made of the wool from our own sheep. It is spun and woven here at Gita Nagari. It is the first piece we have made. While I was working on it, I would always think of you, of how I was supposedly making you a gift. But, actually, you were giving me the gift of engagement in devotional service. Srila Prabhupada, I always pray to Lord Narasimhadeva to protect you and allow you to stay with us and finish your books. But, I think today the rain falling from the sky is actually the tears of the demigods, crying at the prospect of your departure. I am also crying. Even Krishna cried at the passing of grandfather Bhisma, so I have a right to cry. I cannot be so philosophical to say that you are always present in your books and teachings, though I know these things are true. I will miss you so much, Srila Prabhupada, if you go. I beg that I will always remain your menial servant and devotee.
Your humble disciple,
May the Source be with you!