The ISKCON Toronto Blog - News & Events!
The Bhagavad-gita continues to be one of the world's most popular and inspiring books, covering topics such as the immortality of the self, the origin of all existence, how to remain peaceful in the most trying circumstances, and the relationship between us and God.
To celebrate Gita Jayanti, we will be reading the entire Bhagavad-Gita between 4:30pm and 7:30pm. We will alternate between reading Sanskrit and English chapters.We warmly invite you and your family to come join us for this very special festival this Saturday.
This holiday season, take the perfect gift for your family & friends - a set of Srimad Bhagavatam (Bhagavat Purana), also called ‘the ripened fruit of all Vedic literature’. The complete Srimad Bhagavatam set contains 12 cantos in a beautiful 18 volume hardbound set, and is available also in Hindi, Tamil, Bengali, Gujarati, Telugu, and many other languages. Click here to get a glimpse into the Srimad Bhagavatam!
In order to share this gift widely, it is being offered at a discounted price of $299, or only $29/month on a payment plan (offer ends Dec 31st). Please reserve your copy now before we are sold out! If you already have the Srimad Bhagavatam, we are making the entire nine volume Caitanya Caritamrita available for just $99!
Please help us preserve these priceless gems of Vedic wisdom for the generations to come!
In the Bhagavad-Gita, Sri Krishna states, “For one who explains this supreme secret to the devotees, pure devotional service is guaranteed, and at the end he will come back to Me. There is no servant in this world more dear to Me than he, nor will there ever be one more dear.” (BG 18.68 & 69).
Thus, we are asking for your help with “Sastra Dana” or sharing of knowledge, by sponsoring Bhagavad-Gitas or other Vedic texts. For example, sponsoring 108 hard-bound Bhagavad-Gitas is $1,080, 108 soft-bound Gitas is only $540, and 108 other smaller Vedic books is $216. You can give as much as your heart desires. There is no minimum, and no maximum, the whole world is in dire need of this literature. Please note that your kind donations towards Sastra Dana will be tax deductible.
Over the last five years, by the generous support of our donors, the Sastra Dana Team has placed over 55,000 books in close to 500 locations! This year, we continued placing and replenishing copies of the Bhagavad Gita As It Is in hotels and motels all over Ontario as well as, in hospitals, community/welcome centres and cultural centres in the GTA.
Last year, the placements in doctors offices was a new avenue, and this year, placements in international airports was the latest innovation. Other avenues are being explored, and 2017 is sure to bring more venues as Sastra Dana becomes more established and reaches a larger audience every year. The Sastra Dana Team is forecasting several thousand book placements as they continue to increase penetration in hotels and other institutions. In fact, we already have over 1500 Bhagavad Gitas in cue for placement in the first quarter of 2017.
To learn more about where we've placed these books please click here.
Please support the Sastra Dana Program wholeheartedly to bring these books to newer avenues.
Toronto's Hare Krishna community is very excited to once again be welcoming Vaisesika Dasa and Nirakula Devi Dasi to our community from Dec 17th to Dec 21st! Their visit will be punctuated by a whirlwind five days of seminars, classes, and book distribution! The official schedule is as follows:
Srimad Bhagavatam Classes
Saturday Dec 17th to Wednesday Dec 21st
7:45am to 9:00am (Followed by Breakfast)
Sankirtan - Hitting the Streets with Spiritual Knowledge
Saturday, December 17th - 11am-2pm
All devotees are welcome to join Vaisesika Dasa as we collectively hit the streets with our beloved spiritual books with the goal of sharing our beautiful spiritual heritage with the public. Stay tuned for more information!
A Night of Kirtan with Vaisesika Dasa
Saturday, December 17th - 6:00pm to 9:00pm
You won't want to miss this opportunity to dive deeper into melodious kirtan with Vaisesika Dasa. We will explore some of the beautiful chants of our Vaisnava tradition and the mood will certainly be sweet. Join us for what will surely be a very special evening!
Sunday Feast with Vaisesika Dasa
Sunday, December 18th - 6:00pm to 9:00pm
Our weekly Sunday extravaganza will include a special class by Vaisesika Dasa. Toss in some amazing kirtan and mouth-watering vegetarian feast and your Sunday should be booked!
Tuesday December 20th 6:30-8:30pm
A special edition of the weekly tuesday sanga, an interactive discussion with Vaisesika Dasa.
On New Year's Day, Sunday, January 1st, 2017, Toronto's Hare Krishna temple will be hosting our annual Srila Prabhupada Festival! Promising to be a great way to start the new year, the festival is usually one of the biggest of the year.
The festival will feature plenty of kirtan, wonderful classes, dynamic presentations and a sumptuous feast to help ring in the new year! The highlight of the festival will be another spectacular drama, presented by Bhaktimarga Swami. You won’t want to miss it! There will be no better way to usher in the new year on an auspicious note!
Detailed Festival Schedule will be Posted Soon!
As we do every year, devotees gather at the temple on New Year's Eve and then head over to City Hall to join the tens of thousands of revelers, ushering in the new year. However, we come armed with our drums, karatalas (cymbals) and voices as well!
Here's all that you need to know about this evening:
8:00pm - Kirtan will begin at the temple.10:00pm - The kirtan will really pickup by this time!10:30pm (approx) - Bundle up and off to Rosedale station.11:30pm - We will start chanting in front of Old City Hall (NE corner of Bay & Queen)12:00am - the kirtan will reach it's peak as fireworks set the sky ablaze!1:30am (approx) - We'll get back on the subway and make our way back to the temple for hot ginger tea and snacks!
Some tips to keep in mind for this evening:
- Come early to the temple - enjoy the kirtan and association of devotees before we head out to City Hall.
- Dress warmly - it may be chilly, so dress in layers!
- Don't worry about weather - whether it be snow, rain, hail or sleet, we will usher in the new year with kirtan!
- Bring your voices - don't forget to chant with all of your hearts!
As part of the 50 years of ISKCON celebrations, Krishna’s Funskool of Toronto Hare Krishna Temple is pleased to announce the ‘Gita’ Contest – Bhagavad Gita Chanting and Essay writing competitions for children.
Event Date: Saturday, December 3rd, 2016
Venue: The Hare Krishna Temple, 243 Avenue Road, Toronto
Bhagavad Gita chanting competition:
Category 1: 3 – 5 years: 5 selected verses – Recitation only
Category 2: 6 – 8 years: Chapter 12 – any 10 verses of your choice – Recitation only
Category 3: 9 – 11 years: 15 selected verses – Recitation and Translation
Please note: The selected verses will be sent by email to the participants on completion of registration
Preliminary rounds: December 3rd – 11:00 a.m.
Finals: December 3rd – 4:00 p.m.
Bhagavad Gita Essay Writing competition: 12 – 15 years
Category-A: Grade 7 & 8: 12-13 years
Category-B: Grade 9 & 10: 14-15 years
Please note: Topics will be sent by email to the participants on completion of registration
Essay Submission Deadline: Saturday, December 3rd, 2016 by midnight
All entries should be submitted online at email@example.com on or before December 3rd, 2016 by midnight. Entries after this deadline will not be accepted
Award Ceremony: December 11th – 6:30 p.m.
- Assured prizes and Certificates of Participation for all contestants
- For Gita verses and translations, please refer only to Bhagavad-gita As it is by His Divine Grace A.C. Bhaktivedanta Swami Prabhupada.
- Contestants should bring proof of age (preferably copy of birth certiﬁcate/ photo ID card with age on the day of the contest
- Registration fee is $15 per child (can be paid online at torontokrishna.com, or at the Registration desk at the temple on Sundays between 6:00 and 8:30 p.m.)
For details about content for Bhagavad Gita Chanting and Essay topics, registration and other information, contact firstname.lastname@example.org
You can book your 1-hour slot by contacting (647) 867-4727 or email@example.com to reserve your spot during Kartik weekday evenings or weekends. Please note, limited spots are available. Please feel free to take this unique opportunity for your family.
The Art of Krishna Conscious Parenting
A Seminar by Aruddha Devi Dasi and son, Radhika Ramana Dasa
Saturday, November 5, 2016
10:00am to 1:00pm
2:00pm to 4.30pm
Sunday, November 6, 2016
3:00pm to 5:00pm
Tips and Techniques for Successful Parenting
- Creating a Krishna Conscious Home Environment
- Studying Srimad Bhagavatam with Children
- Pathways to Academic Success
- Developing Social Skills
- Sharing Krishna with Others
- Festivals with the Family
- Are Restrictions Good for Our Children?
About Radhika Ramana DasaRadhika Ramana dasa and his brother Gopal Hari dasa, completed their bachelor’s degrees at an early age at Boise State University, and then received their PhDs from Oxford University in England. Radhika Ramana is now Charles Redd Chair of Religious Studies at Utah State University and the author/editor of four books. Gopal Hari is a professor of Religious Studies at Florida Gulf Coast University.
**To register, email firstname.lastname@example.org or call 416‐844‐2937**** Suggested donation $50 per person**
Diwali is celebrated for the joyful return of Lord Rama to Ayodhya after 14 years of exile. Lord Rama’s younger step-brother Bharata in the meanwhile took charge of the kingdom until his brother’s arrival. Visit our website for more for more information for temple’s festivities schedule.
We will be having some special guests for our Diwali celebrations. The festival schedule is as follows (subject to change):
- 6:00pm to 6:30pm - Kirtan (Arati)
- 6:30pm to 6:40pm - Welcome & Announcements
- 6:40pm to 7:20pm - Class by Bhaktimarga Swami
- 7:20pm to 7:30pm - Dramatic Reading
- 7:30pm to 7:45pm - Special Damodarastakam
- 7:45pm to 8:00pm - Lighting of Ceremonial Lamp
- 8:00pm to 8:30pm - Kirtan (Arati)
- 8:30pm to 9:30pm - Vegetarian Feast (Prasadam)
During the time of Lord Krishna, the villagers of Vrindavan used to honour King Indra, the demigod responsible for providing rain for harvest. One day, young Krishna convinced the villagers to celebrate Govardhana Hill instead of Lord Indra because it was the soil of the hill that provided grass for the cows and bulls to graze and then they provided milk. Thus, the hill should be worshiped. King Indra got infuriated and sent massive thunderstorms as punishment. Lord Krishna calmly lifted Govardhana Hill with his little finger to provide shelter for Vrindavan’s residents. After seven days of continuous thunderstorms and rain, King Indra surrendered and asked for forgiveness from Lord Krishna. He realized his true position as a servant of Lord Krishna.
On Monday October 31, 2016, the temple will build a Govardhana Hill replica, made of prasadam, to worship Lord Krishna as the lifter of Govardhana HIll and worship the cows and bulls who are so dear to the Lord.
Stay tuned as more information will be posted soon!
ISKCON is now a worldwide movement and is comprised of more than 450 centres, 60 rural communities, 50 schools and 60 restaurants around the globe. This day will provide a great chance to meditate on what Srila Prabhupada means to us.
Please join us for the festivities that will start at 6:00pm with arati and will continue until approximately 9:00pm. Please join us as we glorify Srila Prabhupada on this very important day.
Their October 6th issue had a very nice article that featured the Govardhan Farms project, Bhaktimarga Swami and the Hare Krishna philosophy. Check it out below:
In the sixteenth century, it was rediscovered by Chaitanya Mahaprabhu, and renovated by Mahaprabhu's disciples, the Six Goswamis. Many sacred texts, including the Puranas, Srimad-Bhagavatam, Upadeshamrita, and Chaitanya-charitamrita say that Radha-kunda is one of the most significant places of pilgrimage on earth.
Celebrations will be taking place at the Hare Krishna Temple on Saturday, October 22, 2016 from 6:00pm to 9:00pm. The festival will be a small and intimate gathering and everyone is welcome to join!
Below is a modern retelling of Krishna's pastime which resulted in the creation of one of the holiest places on earth by Amala Bhakta das:
On a field near Govardhana Hill, in the twilight, the demon Arishtasura had assumed the form of a bull and, at King Kamsa’s order, had tried to kill Lord Krishna. Instead, the Lord had slain him. Just prior to his attack, Krishna had been chatting with His girlfriends, the gopis of Vrindavana, who had become quite frightened by the demon’s angry bellowing.
Krishna strolled over to them, expecting to engage in their usual rasa dance. In this, the girls would form a circle, Krishna would miraculously reproduce His body between each two girls, and the party would ecstatically dance round and round. But the gopis, now relieved of their fear of Arishtasura, were in a playful, joking mood.
As Krishna tried to place His arm around the shoulder of one of them, she flinched and stepped back, saying, “I don’t think You should touch any of us now.”
“Oh? And why not?”
“Well, You’ve just killed a bull. And the scriptures consider a bull to be as sacred as a cow.”
“True, but that bull was really a demon.”
“Doesn’t matter,” a second girl said. “He still had a bull’s body. So by killing him, You’ve committed a terrible sin.”
“I have?” Krishna beamed, playing along with their joke.
“Absolutely. You’re very contaminated now.”
“How terrible!” Krishna said with mock seriousness. “Then what should I do?”
“You should atone for Your sin,” a third gopi said.
“Atone?” He asked, eyebrows raised.
They all nodded firmly, wanting to laugh but restraining themselves.
The first gopi said, “I think You should bathe in every holy river in the world.”
The other gopis nodded.
“All the rivers?” Krishna asked.
“Yes,” the girls giggled. “All.”
“But that’ll take too long. I have a better idea.”
“Oh?” they inquired.
“Instead, I’ll bring the rivers here.”
“How can You do that?” asked the second gopi skeptically.
Krishna turned away from them and kicked His heel into the ground, making a hole.
Then He ordered, “O holy rivers, please come here at once!”
In a few seconds, the personified forms of every sacred river appeared there, standing with their palms folded and heads bowed. The men were bare-chested but decked in rich dhotis, whereas the women were wearing luxurious saris.
Krishna turned to the gopis.
“See? They’re all here.”
Although the girls were astonished, they scoffed, “We don’t see anybody.”
Krishna said to the rivers, “Would you please announce yourselves?”
Each river spoke his or her name, such as Ganga, Yamuna, Saraswati, Sarayu, Sona, and Sindhu.
The gopis looked at each other doubtfully. Were those persons really those rivers?
Then the hole that Krishna had made with His heel suddenly expanded into a vast hollow, and all the personified rivers gladly entered it, each manifesting his or her own water form. It was now a beautiful, inviting, holy pond.
Krishna descended and splashed into it up to His neck, dunked His head several times, and climbed out, drying His dark glistening body with His hands.
“Well, now I’m completely pure.” He smiled. “You don’t have to worry anymore.”
The girls tittered, knowing they never had to anyway.
“But look at you,” Krishna said with mock condescension, pointing at them.
“What about us?” a few asked.
“You’re all impure.”
“Us?” several answered, incredulously.
“No, we didn’t touch the bull,” the second girl said. “You did.”
“True, but you’ve never performed any religious activities for Lord Brahma’s pleasure. That makes you impure.”
Then Krishna’s favorite, Srimati Radharani, turned to Her girlfriends and said, “All right, if we’re impure, then we’ll become pure.”
“How?” the third gopi asked.
“I’ll make an even better pond than Krishna’s, and we’ll all bathe in it.”
“But where?” asked the second gopi.
“Just follow Me.”
With Krishna in tow, Radharani confidently led Her friends a short distance away. They noticed that Arishtasura’s hooves had dug a shallow ditch just west of Krishna’s pond, and Radharani decided to make Her pond there.
“Let’s start digging,” She said to Her friends.
They bent over, began clutching clumps of soft clay, and discarded them. After only an hour, they created a large hollow.
Krishna was astonished by how rapidly they had dug it.
When the gopis came out, the Lord munificently said to them, “You can fill it up with the holy water from My pond.”
“Your pond?” Radharani asked, patronizingly.
“Yes, why not?”
“Because Your pond is contaminated. When You bathed in it, You left Your bull-killing sin there. I don’t want that in My pond!”
Krishna laughed loudly.
“Then where will You get the holy water?”
“From the nearby Manasi Ganga lake. We’ll bring many pots of it here.”
Krishna recalled that some time ago He had meditated on the holy Ganges River, which was a considerable distance from Vrindavana, and had miraculously made it appear here as a lake. It was thus named Manasi Ganga (“the Ganges created by Krishna’s mind”). But now Krishna wanted to spare Radharani and Her friends the heavy labor of lugging thousands of jugs of water from there to here. So He gestured to His pond, and suddenly a male representative of all the holy rivers emerged from it. With tears in his eyes, he folded his palms, bowed his head to the ground before Radharani, and devotedly prayed to Her.
Radharani’s mood changed from playful to serious. She could see that he was approaching Her for some sacred purpose.
Rising to his knees, the representative said, “O Goddess, even those who know the scriptures well, such as Lord Brahma and Lord Siva, cannot understand Your glories. Only Krishna, the highest goal of all human effort, can. Therefore, He wishes to make sure that, when You’re fatigued, You can wash away Your perspiration. That would make Him very happy.”
Radharani gratefully glanced at Krishna, and then returned Her attention to the rivers’ representative.
“As soon as Krishna ordered us, we came here to live in His excellent pond. But we all have a desire, and only if You are pleased with us can it be fulfilled.”
Radharani pleasantly asked, “Oh? And what is it?”
“We desire to come to Your pond, for only then will our lives be successful.”
With a gentle smile, Radharani replied, “All right. Please do.”
Her friends nodded in agreement, feeling immensely happy.
At that moment, all the holy rivers in Krishna’s pond broke through its blackish clay boundary and quickly flowed into and filled Radharani’s pond. This movement sounded like a surging river during a heavy rainstorm.
As Radharani was enjoying this sight, Krishna seriously said, “My dear Radharani, may Your pond become even more famous than Mine. I will always come here to bathe in it and to enjoy water sports. Indeed, this pond is as dear to Me as You.”
Radharani was touched deeply and replied, “And I, with My girlfriends, will also bathe in Your pond, even if You kill hundreds of Arishtasuras here. And anyone who, with intense devotion, bathes in My pond or resides on its bank will surely become very dear to Me.”
“And dear to Me also,” Krishna added. “I will certainly bless such persons well!”
As the darkness enfolded them, Krishna and the gopis formed a circle and began their rasa dance. He resembled a rain cloud, and Radharani a flash of lightning. As They danced, They generated a torrential downpour of brilliant, transcendental joy. From that night on, Radharani’s pond (kunda) would be called Radha Kunda, and Krishna’s, Shyama Kunda. And anyone who would bathe even once in Her pond, or perform devotional service on its banks, would, by Her mercy, develop pure love for Krishna. Such love would of course culminate in continuous divine ecstasy. Thus, Radha Kunda would become known as the most exalted pilgrimage spot in the world.
For this reason, countless pilgrims travel many miles just to bathe in its spiritually exalting waters.
Special thanks to one of our dynamic young devotees of our community, Preya Maulkhan for helping to coordinate the official congratulatory message from the Prime Minister's Office! Check out the message below or view the PDF here.
Seeing the prevalent problems of stress, depression, addiction and overall misdirection – all caused by a lack of spirituality – he felt inspired to dedicate his life to the cause of sharing the spiritual wisdom of the Bhagavad-gita under the aegis of ISKCON (International Society for Krishna consciousness). He is a member of ISKCON’s leading intellectual body, the Shastric Advisory Council, and is the associate-editor of ISKCON’s global magazine, Back to Godhead. He is the author of the world’s only Gita-daily feature, wherein he writes daily a 300-word inspirational reflection on a verse from the Bhagavad- Gita. He has written over seventeen hundred Gita meditations that are posted on www.gitadaily.com and are read through daily feeds by thousands from all over the world.
He also answers questions by seekers on his site www.thespiritualscientist.com, where his over three thousand five hundred audio answers and several hundred articles are available.
He travels all over the world from Australia to America, giving talks on spiritual subjects in temples, universities and companies. His articles have been published in many national newspapers including Indian Express, Economic Times and Times of India in the Speaking Tree column. His writings in English have been translated into several foreign languages including German, Chinese and Romanian and several Indian languages including Kannada, Telgu, Bengali, Hindi and Marathi. He is the author of sixteen books.
Message from our City Councillor: Community Environment Day and Fair - September 17th
Saturday, September 17, 2016 is the annual Environment Day in Ward 27!
Join me at Allan Gardens. Environment Day events will be set up at the south-west corner of Sherbourne Street and Carlton Streets.
Visit me between 10:00 a.m. and 2:00 p.m. to get your free compost, garbage and compost bins and much more! To view the full details please view the flyer.
Toronto Hare Krishna Centre will provide a Free Yoga and Meditation Session, plus Live Music.
Community Bicycle Network will provide a Free Bike Tune-Up Station and Tutorials.
Toronto Public Library Parliament Branch will provide a Free Children's Storybook Reading.
When: Saturday, September 17, 2016 from 10:00 a.m. – 2:00 p.m.
Where: Allan Gardens (at the corner of Sherbourne Street and Carlton Street)
The event will also feature:
- Ward 14 TDSB Trustee Chris Moise
- Garden District Residents Association
- Friends of Allan Gardens
- Good Shepherd Ministries
- Grace Church
- Enbridge Gas
- Tower and Neighbourhood Revitalization
- Public Health
- Animal Services
- Social Housing
- Toronto Community Housing
- Toronto Fire Services + Fire Truck
- Toronto Police Services Mounted Unit
- EMS Historical Ambulance
- 311 Toronto
I’m looking forward to seeing you at Allan Gardens in September for Environment Day!
Gaura Nataraj das (Aleksey Furdak) was born in 1989 to Russian parents in Riga, Latvia and started learning Bharata Natyam at the age of 15.
His first teacher was Pille Roosi (Estonia) who was his guide in the world of Indian dance for over 10 years. Gaura Nataraj participated in countless workshops (by Priyadarsini Govind, Rama Vaidyanathan, Parshwanth Upadhye, Mavin Khoo to name a few). Now he continues his training online at eAmbalam under the guidance of Smt. Indira Kadambi.
Gaura Nataraj also studies drawing and painting as well as ancient Armenian music instrument duduk.
Check out some of his videos below: