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Blogs From Around the Web

A special initiation ceremony in Radhadesh, May 2017

On 02 May, Kadamba Kanana Swami did a very special initiation ceremony in Radhadesh where Mariette Mataji received the name Manisha dd which means “servant of prayers”. Manisha dd is from Liege, Belgium and is very sick with advanced cancer. She has come to live in the Radhadesh community since finding out that she is in her final days. She has stopped chemotherapy treatment as it was a very painful experience and decided that since she is in her 80’s, she would like to go peacefully in the association of devotees. Manisha dd felt enlivened that Maharaj visited her, initiated her AND that they conversed in French as she is solely French-speaking!

Watch a short video captured by Bhagavati dd by clicking here.

 

Categories: Personal Blogs

Indradyumna Swami Visits Moscow

Despite bone chilling weather, Indradyumna Swami and his team's visit to Moscow was blissful due to the warm hearted nature of the devotees who love to chant the holy names and dance in ecstasy. Srila Prabhupada’s visit to Moscow in 1971 planted the seeds of Krsna consciousness which continue to grow in great proportions.

Hear this!

(Kadamba Kanana Swami, 03 October 2012, Sydney, Australia, Bhagavad-gita class)

Srila Prabhupada says that hearing is most important:

sravanam kirtanam visnoh smaranam pada-sevanam… (SB 7.5.23-24)

There are nine processes of devotional service and they begin with sravanam, hearing. It is said that when there is hearing about Krsna then the next stage is kirtanam, naturally glorification of Krsna. So, unless one hears about Krsna, how will one be able to glorify him? So, the more we know about Krsna, the more we naturally know how to glorify Krsna! And the more we hear about Krsna, the more attachment to Krsna develops and then automatically chanting comes.

Sravanamkirtanam and then smaranam, remembrance comes and automatically we will remember Krsna. Obviously, when we remember Krsna then we look at this world in a different manner. Srila Prabhupada, in the introduction to the Caitanya-caritamrta, which is based on five lectures that he gave, describes that Krsna consciousness is like taking off in a plane! He says that as you are going up, then everything down on the ground suddenly becomes very small… houses like match boxes, cars like ants… all very small and immediately their importance diminishes. So, as we are getting more and more involved in Krsna consciousness, in just hearing about Krsna, in just glorifying Krsna and in remembering Krsna, then automatically the importance of material things become less.

Categories: Personal Blogs

Thursday, May 11th, 2017

Bhaktimarga Swami, The Walking Monk - Sun, 2017-05-14 11:39
Butler / Moundsville
Going Through
Going through customs with our vehicle was more of a breeze than I thought it would be.  Our Canadian contingent of monks, consisting of Hayagriva, Marshal and myself, along with Balaram, a Toronto member, arrived at the American Peace Bridge customs gate. We handed over our passports for inspection and all was good, including for Balaram, who is Mexican born.
With the new or latest federal administration in the U.S., there have been more stringent and tough policies exercised on foreigners as of late.  The ultimate question arises, facing all of those who pass borders, including,“Who are you?” and perhaps, “What are you doing?”
Now, here we can get a bit philosophical, in answer to the fundamental query, and say, I am a spirit and I'm trying to reform.”  An answer like that would not go over too well with any exacting authority.
We decided after leaving customs and putting in some miles through New York and Pennsylvania states, that a break in Butler, Pennsylvania, would be a good idea, given that it was here, where our guru, Srila Prabhupada, humbly began the whole mission of Krishna Consciousness.  When I passed through Butler in the fall of 2015, on foot, my support person, Vivasvan from Detroit, met an historian from the Butler Library.  He was a senior, well-read person, who was quite surprised when told that Butler, with its one month stay by the swami, before breaking ground in New York, was the actual birth place of this world-wide movement.  “You mean it started here?”
“Yes,” replied Vivasvan. “In September of ’65, it all began.”
May the Source be with you!

5 km
Categories: Personal Blogs

Wednesday, May 10th, 2017

Bhaktimarga Swami, The Walking Monk - Sun, 2017-05-14 11:37
Toronto, Ontario
Sweet Guy!
Today marks the birthday of Dharmaprana.  If you ever want to meet someone who is super-positive then that would describe him.  He turned sixty-eight today. He suffered a stroke years ago, which hampered his speech and movement, but such occurrences never soured this man.
Dharmaprana is actually a monk residing in our ashram in Toronto.  He manages to get around with his daily walks.  I believe he sustains himself through the routine walking in the residential and downtown areas.  Whomever he meets, always receives a heartfelt greeting from him.  It could well be that one of the reasons people like to visit the ashram / temple is because of him.  He’s very good at reminding people to be not only optimistic but spiritual, as well.  He gets you to say, “Hare Krishna,” “Prabhupada,” and “Radha Ksirchora Gopinatha (the presiding dieties).”  He keeps us on our spiritual toes.
Naturally, a birthday party was thrown in his honour.  The prasadam (food) was ultra-rich, with cake and everything North-Indian style, and lasagna added on.  It was so rich that it warranted a walk (for me).  I took to the neighbourhood which is full of pretty, well-maintained Victorian homes.  The sidewalks, houses, and trees of the area are like Dharmaprana himself, in that they’ve been around for a while and are sweet.  Yes “sweet street” might be a way to describe Roxborough Street and the safe, clean and surrounding areas where we are located.
Thank you, Dharmaprana, for the happy day.
May the Source be with you!

5 km
Categories: Personal Blogs

Tuesday, May 9th, 2017

Bhaktimarga Swami, The Walking Monk - Sun, 2017-05-14 11:36
Toronto, Ontario
What They Said and Did!
The folks I met on the way from the ashram to the corner of Yonge and Dundas downtown, had lots to say.
 “I love what you’re wearing,” said the woman as she passed by me near College Avenue.
“Hey!” said the man near Yonge and Davenport, as he was smoking a cigarette.  “I’m your neighbour.  I just live across the street from you guys.  I should come in and pay a visit.”
“Yes!  You should.  It’s your home.”
“I will.”
Near Yonge and Charles, four south-east Asians were standing, grouped together.  I offered my pranams (hands together).  I was checking; if they’re Hindu, they will respond.  They did.  Each one put hands together.  “ISKCON?” asked one, indicating that Hare Krishna is very popular in India, where they just came from.
“Are you Gujarati?”
“Yes.”  They were surprised at my guess.
“Surname Patel?”  Again, they were surprised.
“Come to our temple.  It’s your home away from home.”
One block away, I met a group of Caucasians.  One fellow from the group said, “Buddha!  Namaste!”
I said, “Krishna!  Namaste!”
On my return to the ashram at Roxborough, a homeless type said, “Yah know, this world is transitory.  Nothin’ permanent here.”
“Agreed!  One hundred percent!”  I was pleasantly surprised to hear this from him.  “You have some realization.”
May the Source be with you!

7 km
Categories: Personal Blogs

Monday, May 8th, 2017

Bhaktimarga Swami, The Walking Monk - Sun, 2017-05-14 11:35
Toronto, Ontario
Ownership
Karuna, Luv and I had a good reason to be out.  Spring is in the air.  Blossoms beckon.  Dandelions demand.  Yes, attention must be given to the colours of the season.  And the smells as well.  So we put on our stinky shoes and sauntered through Rosedale.
“It’s pretty affluent here, isn’t it?”  Luv asked.
“Yes, and it’s quite safe.  People in the neighbourhood have seen us for years.”  Then I realized I've been walking the area and claiming the territory for much longer than most people who’ve lived here.  There’s something to be said for walking a trail over time.  You feel it’s yours.  In reality it doesn’t belong to anyone, including myself.  Remotely, with Bhagavan as distant proprietor, and closely, with Paramatmaas the in-dwelling person, it comes as false proprietorship to anyone who stakes claim by paper or personal presence.
In the Gita, the appropriate line that conveys the reality of the situation goes as follows: sarva-all, loka-places, maheshvara-great owner.  Sarva loka maheshvara.  This is listed as one of the items that is the component to inner peace.  Everyone is looking for peace and it will most naturally come when peace arises from within.  It begins with appreciating genuine ownership.
There is nothing you can take, or hold in your arms and walk away with, especially with regard to the body at the time of departure.
May the Source be with you!

3 km (only)
Categories: Personal Blogs

Doors Open Toronto - May 27-28, 2017

On May 27th to 28th, the Hare Krishna Temple is participating in Doors Open Toronto. Annually, over 150 buildings of architectural, historic, cultural and social significance open their doors to the public for a city-wide celebration. While Toronto's Hare Krishna Temple is open, free of charge, to the public year-round, Doors Open presents an opportunity for the public to learn about the architectural and historical story of our amazing building!

Guided Tours will take place from 10am-5pm on Saturday May 27th and Sunday May 28th. Guided tours of the building highlight the architectural, historical and spiritual history of the building. There are also visual displays of media news clippings and interesting publications related to the building.

For more information, please visit the official Doors Open website by clicking here.  We hope to see you this weekend!  If you wish to volunteer, please contact us.

Mridanga (Drum) Lessons - Level Two

After a successful two-month beginners mridanga course, the Toronto Hare Krishna Temple is very pleased to announce the next level of the two-month course - "Mridanga Course for Intermediates". A student should have completed the beginners course or at least have some basic knowledge of mridanga prior to taking this course as it is a prerequisite. The start date for the course and other particulars are mentioned below

This course will be taught by our resident devotee – Gopal Prabhu, a young, enthusiastic and energetic devotee who studied mridanga among other subjects in Gurukula in Vrindavan, India.

This course will build upon the basics learned in the Beginners Course and enable a student to play mridanga at a basic level in the Kirtan. This course will still be very valuable for mridanga players of others levels to perfect their technique and playing.

Tentative Course Details: 

  • Prerequisite: Beginners level mridanga course or basic mridanga knowledge
  • Dates: Starting May 13th - July 5th, 2017
  • Venue: ISKCON Hare Krishna Temple on 243 Avenue Road, Toronto
  • Timings: Wednesday (6pm -7pm), Saturday (10 am – 11 am)
  • Fee: $175 for the 2 months course
  • Registration: Registration is mandatory 
  • Other Notes: It is highly recommended that you have your own mridanga because you will need it for practicing, if you don’t have one and are interested to buy, please let us know we will try to make some arrangement.

For more information, please contact Hitesh Patel or Santosh Ravi.  If you are interested in taking the course, please click here to fill out the form and we will get back to you.

Video: Bhajan Night with Vaisesika Dasa

On Saturday, May 6, 2017, the Toronto Hare Krishna Temple hosted a special bhajan night with Vaisesika Dasa.  As is the the tradition during his visit, this incredible evening featured kirtan, bhajans and melodious mantras.  The whole event was captured by Sathi Prabhu and can be seen below.  Check it out:

How I Became a Hare Krishna: Bhakti Yoga Dasa

The Toronto Hare Krishna Temple will be featuring an ongoing series on our website about how active members of our community became practitioners of the Hare Krishna faith.  Written by Krishna Rajesh, a young high school student in our community, this series will share devotees' personal stories of how they became Hare Krishnas!  Please share your encouraging words and feedback with a comment!

An International Story - Bhakti Yoga Dasa
By: Krishna Rajesh

For many devotees, the one question that goes unanswered is: “What can I do to contribute?” Often times, newcomers are surprised by the amount of enthusiasm devotees show towards doing service at the temple. And they are always eager for more. Devotees are also found agonizing over their contribution; thinking that it is not significant enough. Bhakti Yoga Das is an example of a devotee who made the best of all the opportunities he had and incorporated Krishna Consciousness into his life in the best possible way.

Bhakti Yoga Prabhu, formerly known as Bhisham Prasad Mishra, was attracted towards Krishna Consciousness at a very young age. He had a cousin who was already in the movement, and he received guidance to help reach his destination.

He was living in Guyana, South America, when he began what would turn out to be a divine journey in Krishna Consciousness. His cousin, Butadi Prabhu, had previously lived in New York for a while, where he was initiated by His Divine Grace A.C. Bhaktivedanta Swami Srila Prabhupada, the founder of our Hare Krishna movement. Through association, Bhakti Yoga Prabhu was inevitably pulled towards the temple. And on his first day, he had the opportunity to read the original Krsna book.

“It was a large volume…about twelve inches tall, with a silver jacket, and a picture of Radha and Krishna on the cover.”

That was his first introduction into Krishna Consciousness. And after one taste of the nectarine knowledge, he simply couldn’t get enough. He started going regularly to the temple in Guyana, every day after school, and sometimes he would even stay overnight on the weekends to attend the morning 4 am arati (morning service). He learned how to dress and follow the customs of a Vaishnava, which led to his very first sankirtan outing (outreach through book distribution and kirtan).

In 1980, he immigrated to Canada with his family. He originally lived in Hamilton, Ontario. On weekends and holidays, he would visit the Toronto temple. Eventually, a devotee from the temple used to come visit them. This was the start of a Sunday program in Hamilton.

“Later on, when I finished high school, I moved into the temple and stayed there for a couple of years.”

In June, 1982, while living at the temple, Bhakti Yoga Das met his eventual spiritual master, Gopal Krishna Goswami for the first time. Later on, in September of the same year, he got initiated (was formally as a student of his guru).

As one thing led to another, his thirst for spiritual bliss increased. He became increasingly inclined towards visiting India, and finally, with the blessings of his guru, he went to Vrindavan for the first time in 1985. During the six months that he spent there, Bhakti Yoga Prabhu learned Deity worship; a skill that would come a long way in the future.

“We had a shortage of pujaris (priests) at the time,” he remarks, “and because I wasn’t experienced, I was to tend to the smaller deities.”

After his lengthy stay in Vrindavan, Bhakti Yoga Prabhu returned to Toronto, where he helped in bookkeeping and used his newly acquired knowledge of Deity worship.

In 1989, he returned to Guyana, where he once again was greeted by Butadi Prabhu, who was now his Siksha Guru (spiritual guide). Taking into consideration the fact that he was still young, Butadi Prabhu arranged his marriage with Jahnavi Devi Dasi. After three years, Bhakti Yoga Das and Jhanavi Devi Dasi were married in Canada.

Haridas and Neela Madhava were soon new additions to their family. The couple wanted desperately to find a spiritual school for their sons. They traveled to many North American temples in search of a gurukula (Vedic school). Finally, they found a good gurukula in Mayapur, West Bengal, India. The family moved there, and lived there for about five years.

During their stay there, Bhakti Yoga Prabhu served as a managing director at an NGO called Shri Mayapur Vikas Sangha. They got grants from various countries and organizations for setting up primary schools, clinics, and training sessions for women in the villages near Mayapur.

At the end of five years, the family returned to Canada, where he resumed his service as a Pujari and even conducted a few seminars on Deity worship. He also began assisting a few devotees who wanted to start a temple in Scarborough. When the temple was established, Bhakti Yoga Prabhu was the acting Temple President.

Currently, he is working on establishing a temple in Milton with some enthusiastic devotees who are living there. He says that he hopes to continue spreading the Krishna Conscious movement, “I simply hope to be instrumental helping to make Srila Prabhupada’s vision a reality!"

When chanting becomes fun

(Kadamba Kanana Swami, 29 June 2009, Japa Talks)

The importance of attentive chanting is stressed again and again. There are many things one can do to improve one’s performance –  chanting early in the morning after enough rest in a peaceful place, in devotee association. We try to focus the mind especially on hearing the name. I aim at chanting sixteen rounds in about two hours, sometimes it takes a little longer and sometimes it is a little faster. Skipping beads has been mentioned. Skipping beads can happen in various ways, sometimes I catch myself that I am not changing the beads exactly at the end of the mantra and the beginning of a new mantra. This is not good because then one could easily go through more beads than mantras.

Anyway there is so much about attentive chanting – I try to focus and the mind sometimes drifts, when I become aware of it, I try to bring it back. Still although attentive chanting is important, that is not my only meditation while chanting. If that was all there was, then chanting would be a struggle and a stressful activity. Rupa Gosvami in his famous verse: tunde tandvini ratim vitanute tundavali, describes how the Holy Name dances in the mouth and he desires millions of mouths and millions of ears. It is clear that Rupa Gosvami’s meditation is on the wonderful nature of Krnsa. So we may not have the same deep level of absorption as Rupa Gosvami but we can make a start now and besides trying to be attentive, we should also appreciate Krsna’s wonderful nature and how he is so mercifully is present in his name. Then chanting is not just a struggle but chanting becomes fun…

Categories: Personal Blogs

Sex – ISKCON’s Hot Potato Issue

The Grihastha Vision Team surveyed couples and individuals in ISKCON to ascertain some of the greatest challenges in their marriages. Two top challenges emerged: 1. Lack of emotional and/or physical intimacy;

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