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So what is this nāch re āmār man (prounounced näch-ray-ämär-mun), you ask? Since 2009, these beloved disciples of Srila Prabhupada have been making their semi-annual / annual visits to Toronto which are always a beautiful package-deal of fun things: singing, dancing, practical seminars with useful tips on how to bring a change in consciousness, and lessons about how to interact with the environment - the spirit of giving and sharing (Srimad Bhagavatam classes in temple packaged with application outside the temple). In short- its a festival for the heart! Hence, we thought of officially giving their visits this name.
Does this excite you? Here is their tentative schedule:
Friday, December 20th to Tuesday, December 24th:
7:30 am to 9:00 am DAILY
Special Bhagavatam Classes on the theme 'Preaching is the Essence' which is one of the 4 primary principles that Srila Prabhupada used to quote (Books are the Basis, Purity is the Force, Preaching is the Essence and Utility is the Principle).
Come out for these very interactive classes as we hear and discuss how sharing enriches our lives!
Note: Sunday Dec 21st: Harinama Initiation Ceremony for Bhakta Sam (instead of class)
Friday, December 20th:
6:30 pm - 8:30 pm
Finding the Perfect Balance
How can I balance my spiritual practices with my material obligations? Where do I draw the line? Should I really spend time planning my material goals? Join in for this special Friday night seminar where you will learn the delicate art of balancing spiritual and material priorities.
Saturday, December 21st
12:00 pm - Honouring Srila Bhaktisiddhanta Sarasvati Thakura's Disappearance Day
1:00 pm to 4:00 pm - Downtown Street Sankirtan with Vaisesika Prabhu
6:30 pm to 9:00 pm - The famous Bhajan Night
Sunday, December 22nd
6:30 pm to 7:30pm - Sunday Feast Class
8:00 pm to 9:00pm - Kirtan
Please mark these dates and try to make the most of their really special association! Help spread the word and please invite anyone and everyone!
Parsley is a well-know herb that most people think of as just a garnish. But there is more to parsley than meets the eye.
A 1.8 million-year-old skull found in Georgia could turn current understanding of evolution on its head.
Radhanath Swami has been a member of ISKCON’s Governing Body Commission (GBC) since 1996. For the past twenty-five years, besides guiding the development of the ISKCON Chowpatty community in Mumbai, Radhanath Swami has directed a number of acclaimed social action projects including Midday Meals, daily serving over 250,000 plates of pure vegetarian food to the children in the slums of Mumbai. He has also worked to establish missionary hospitals and eye camps, eco-friendly farms, schools and ashrams, an orphanage, and a number of emergency relief programs throughout India. A valuable member of the Strategic Planning Initiatives, he is a part of the Devotee Care Committee. Hear what Radhanath Swami has to say about the Strategic Planning Meetings and how it brings leaders together from around the world to come up with solutions for real issues in our society.
I gingerly sit on a cold bench before the Prabhupad Tree. I glance up at bare branches which seem to reach for the sky. Almost 50 years ago, Prabhupad came to sit under these branches to sing the holy name.Through his kirtan, he transformed hearts, he transformed the world.
Now, the word is silence - I seem to be surrounded by so much silence.
Every time I come here I feel this silence, and in that silence the emotion of gratitude always emerges. I feel grateful to Prabhupad for giving me a reason to live. I feel grateful that he persevered. I feel grateful to be breathing and to be on the path of love, true love.
I close my journal and rise to my feet, gazing at the Tree. I then kneel to the ground and touch my forehead to the cold concrete bricks in obeisance. When I stand again, I whisper, "Thank you Srila Prabhupad," and turn around to leave.
Walking away, I can still hear the silence.Subscribe
From Harinama Cintamani
by Srila Bhaktivinoda Thakura
“This consciousness is something that I declare a sacred space and within this consciousness I’ll try and bring in influences that are uplifting, that are giving me strength and that are adding to my happiness.”
“Above them are the devotees of the Lord, who neither aspire to enjoy the material world nor desire to get out of it. They are after the satisfaction of the Lord, Sri Krsna. In other words, the devotees of the Lord do not want anything on their personal account. If the Lord desires, the devotees can accept all sorts of material facilities, and if the Lord does not desire this, the devotees can leave aside all sorts of facilities, even up to the limit of salvation. Nor are they self-satisfied, because they want the satisfaction of the Lord only. In this verse, Sri Sukadeva Gosvami recommends the transcendental chanting of the holy name of the Lord. By offenseless chanting and hearing of the holy name of the Lord, one becomes acquainted with the transcendental form of the Lord, and then with the attributes of the Lord, and then with the transcendental nature of His pastimes, etc.” —SB 2.1.11 purport
Burnaby, British Columbia
The sun had burst through the clouds. It’s been a while since seeing it. With winter and what it is – snow, fog, rain and the coastal dynamics, you begin to miss something, the sun. You can never say, however, that even with the sun’s absence or it’s obscurity, “I forgot what it looked like.” No, you can’t say that. The impression of the sun is deeply imprinted in the memory recesses. The mere mention of the sun brings to mind that happy ball of heat and light that’s above us.
Taking advantage of this moment, this breakthrough, I and two other companions took to a spontaneous walk towards the neighbouring greenhouses. I wanted to show my friends my regular escape area. To get to this escape you have to spend at least ten minutes trekking along Marine Drive. Although Sunday, it’s crazy for traffic. Christmas time doesn’t help. Yes, Christmas, perhaps the most materialistic time of the year. I think Christ would be disgusted, what do you think? Sorry, I’m a Scrooge.
Our stroll took us along Meadow Avenue, past the nursery called “It’s About Thyme” (“I am the healing herb ,” – Bhagavad Gita 9.16). We passed by a boarded up school house and farm houses and fields, and as we ambled along we had our companion of the Hare Krishna mantra (mantro ham “I am the mantra,” – Bhagavad Gita 9.16). We thought we started with three of us, but actually there were four of us. Oh, no, the sun is also there, that makes five.
One hour went by as we concluded our escape route. Then I dashed off to fulfill an obligation, to speak to our community members at the ISKCON Centre. I entered into the temple where the arati (ritual) had just been completed (aham kratur – “I am the ritual,” – Bhagavad Gita 9.16). As I was about to speak, the offering of good food – fruit, veggies, grains, were presented before the Krishna deity (aham hutam – “I am the offering,” Bhagavad Gita 9.16).
I opened to the page from the Gita selected for me, it was 9.16 from the Gita. The main theme that was highlighted from this topic was the notion of sacrifice, aham yagyah – “I am the sacrifice,” Bhagavad Gita 9.16. I emphasized the importance of sacrifice in the form of kirtan.
Here’s how the whole verse reads from 9.16:
“I am the ritual, I, the sacrifice, the offering to ancestors, the healing herb, the transcendental chant, I am the butter, and the fire, and the offering.”
After the talk, I indulged in the food cooked in ghee (clarified butter – Bhagavad Gita 9.16). Today I embraced this verse.
May the Source be with you!
Vancouver, British Columbia
Here we are in Vancouver, a world class city, rated the number one place to live in for a number of years in a row. Yet, the district a few of us pulled into this evening is a dingy embarrassment to the human race. It’s the infamous Hastings and Main area. Just around the corner is popular and touristic Gas Town. Acid heads, crack pots and drunks frequent and live in the area. Because of the relatively moderate temperatures Vancouver enjoys, even in winter, it helps to jump up real estate value, but it also attracts the country’s more down and out, at least in the winter. At the same time, this area of Hastings and Main is a hopeful nook, a nest with eggs about to crack open. I’ll explain further on.
The entrance to tonight’s event was a dodgy alley way door. Then you go up two flights of stairs to an old creaky floored warehouse type deal. No need to worry, attendees to the event have come to a kirtan ecstatic yoga program. They came alcohol/substance free. Speaking of which, I guess you put them in the ‘free spirit’ category.
I was introduced as The Walking Monk and did my version of trance dance through mantra and movement. The person who preceeded me was the real hero, and who uses this space as his yoga studio, and believe it or not, he has made yoga accessible to poor people. In fact, the people here generally come for yoga to rehab, to relax, to believe. Emmerson is the hero’s name and I had the pleasure to engage him in one of our dramas last summer. Many of his clients who come by donation are male.
When you talk to Emmerson, you can feel that he’s at the brink of something big. He’s just about to open location number two and says he’s getting calls from all over the world from people who want to hear his success story. When he was conducting his session, it was fun to see how he got people to move to the Hare Krishna mantra.
It is a fact and as real as the nose on your face that the modern world is driving people to a vacuum, to a space and life lacking ‘meaning’. Who, after all, wants to be homeless or be on a binge? It all depends on the mode of life you’ve chosen for yourself. Some folks, however, are not in such a position to make major choices. But climb the stairs after walking a back alley, becoming sober and agreeing to sit quiet, breathe, and chant, almost anyone can do.
I was impressed with the kirtan crowd of tonight. I can’t imagine what Emmerson does during the week when the real needing ones come to see him. In 1996 I walked through this neighbourhood as part of the route across Canada. I could see it needed attention. It looks like some people are taking advantage of the hand that’s being extended to them.
May the Source be with you!
(Kadamba Kanana Swami, September 2013, Cape Town, South Africa, Srimad Bhagavatam 8.20.12)
We can come up with a hundred excuses to justify why we do not have to surrender. Part of surrender is that we place our faith in Krsna and that he will make adjustments.
‘Yes but I put my faith in Krsna and he is not making the adjustments!’
No, empowerment is not that you say, ‘Okay Krsna, I am waiting. Can you please empower me and make me fly? Just make me fly?’ We have to try by ourselves to go up. When we try then Krsna lends us energy but we have to make the endeavour.
It is just like initiation. At the time of initiation, we are taking vows and these vows are about our behaviour – no meat, fish or eggs; no gambling and no intoxication - it is about our behaviour. It gives us a level of behaviour which is higher than what we would do naturally. If you would leave it up to us then we would not act on that level. The vows put us on the level higher then where we are!
There was an advertisement in Calcutta, in the Second World War. On big billboards, at the side of the road, it that showed an army uniform and it said, “When you wear the uniform, you will know what to do.” So what does that mean? It means that when you are in the position, Krsna supplies the knowledge of what to do. Krsna supplies the strength. He supplies the intelligence, dadāmi buddhi-yogaṁ taṁ (Bhagavad-gita 10.10).
He supplies the intelligence. It is not that we are left alone and it is not that things are impossible! That is why Prabhupada would say that impossible is a word in a fool’s dictionary. Why a fool? Because the fool is not accepting that, ‘Krsna will supply me with intelligence. Krsna will supply me with strength. Krsna is there to help me and therefore I will be able to do things that I was never able to do and therefore it can be done!’
From Your Japa Blueprint
by Mahatma dasa
(Kadamba Kanana Swami, 02 July 2013, Vrndavana, India, Bhagavad-gita 14.22-25)
So when we are looking at the first of these four verses (BG 14.22-25), prakāśaḿ ca pravṛttiḿ ca moham eva ca pāṇḍava, we can see, “O son of Pāṇḍu, he who does not hate illumination, attachment and delusion when they are present or long for them when they disappear; who is always unwavering, undisturbed.” So if we’re looking at these three words, illumination, attachment and delusion as translations for the words prakāśaḿ, pravṛttiḿ and moham, then we may not get it straight away just by reading through Prabhupada’s verse and purport. But if we look at the commentary of the acaryas, which I did because I was looking – illumination, attachment, delusion – why these words translated like this? Why? And the reason is because Srila Viswanath Chakravarti Thakur, in his commentary, explains these words in a particular way and Prabhupada followed that commentary.
Prakāśaḿ translated as illumination here is representing the mode of goodness, sattva-gun. Then we see pravṛttiḿ or pravṛtta, attachment, is a quality that arises from rajo-guṇa. Delusion, moham, the quality that arises from ignorance, from tamo-guṇa. In that way, it is relating to the three modes of material nature and of course, when one is suffering under the influence of the modes of material nature or hankering to enjoy the modes of material nature, this is material consciousness.
So we see that throughout the verse, a neutral attitude is emphasized because it is pointed out that as long as we are embodied, we cannot be free from the influence of the body – like we feel the heat. It’s not that a maha-bhagavat doesn’t feel the heat. He feels it but he is neutral, he is not getting agitated. He is not allowing his mind get absorbed, “Ah, it’s so hot. Ah, it’s so hot. Ah, it’s so hot. Ah, garam, garam, garam, garam.”
This is a normal conversation topic in India at this time of the year. The word garam is very common, which means hot. So, one gets hot if one says hot, hot, so hot. Naturally. So it is a very practical thing. We can experience it, that if we remain neutral we are not so much affected by the heat or by the cold.
As said earlier in the Bhagavad-gita:mātrā-sparśās tu kaunteya śītoṣṇa-sukha-duḥkha-dāḥ āgamāpāyino ‘nityās tāḿs titikṣasva bhārata (Bhagavad-gita 2.14)
One has to tolerate. So being neutral or to tolerate is the same. The mind is not dwelling on the material
circumstances that are created by the three modes of material nature dhyāyato viṣayān puḿsah sańgas teṣūpajāyate (Bhagavad-gita 2.62). When we start to dwell on material objects, then attachment arises. Either positive or negative attachment so either we start to hate, “I hate, hate, hate or I love, love, love”.
In 1944, in his Back to Godhead which Srila Prabhupada published with so much difficulty, the one for which he had to convince an army officer to release paper because paper was reserved for the war. Prabhupada said, “Yes, therefore my magazine must be published because it is for the war. It is for the war because my magazine will bring peace.” And he got it and then he brought it out. Then he wrote an article and he explained that the other side of love in the material world, is frenzy. He used the word frenzy which is like a state of intense anger or intense aggression which was representing the World War that was going on 1944 – the frenzy of the war. Prabhupada pointed out that the love for one’s country or the love for the homeland creates the frenzy for the others who are not part of that.
So love and hate come together! One can say, I love heat and I love cold or the other way around, like this, the dualities. Generally, loving one means hating the opposite and that is material existence. Neutrality is the position that we take but this is tapas. This is something which is different from the senses because the senses are sending information signals to the mind, like the dashboard. The senses are sending signals like red lights that are flashing on a dashboard.
“Too hot! Too hot! Too hot! Alarm! Alarm!” Or it can be another signal, “Very attractive! Very attractive! You cannot let this opportunity go by, it may never come again. You’ll never forgive yourself if you let it go.” So the senses are sending these kind of signals and they are received in the mind. It is there where the signals come in and it is there where we have to be neutral.
We cannot be neutral in the senses, that is not possible. The senses will not be neutral. Hungry is hungry. You can’t stop being hungry. It doesn’t work. But when we fast, just don’t think about it. Try not to think about it.
“Oh, we’re fasting! Oooooh fasting. Oh I’m so weak. Oh I’m so sick. Oh, I always get sick. Oh, whenever we’re fasting. Actually it’s not good for my constitution to fast. Oh really, it’s like kapha people can fast but vata people can’t fast at all. No, no. And pitta people also, they need to eat otherwise their own fire burns their bodies. Even dangerous. Serious. Yes. Alright, then I’ll fast half a day then.”
So, the more one allows the mind to become pre-occupied, naturally it becomes more difficult. So, one learns to withdraw the mind, withdraw the mind from these sense objects and just as we’re doing in chanting, in chanting japa, we withdraw the mind and bring it back to the holy name, from everywhere just withdraw the mind. So therefore it automatically brings that state of neutrality, we become focused on Krsna.