The ISKCON Toronto Blog - News & Events!
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!
While most festivals involve grand celebrations, one special festival allows us an opportunity to reflect on the incredible life of Srila Prabhupada. On Sunday, November 15, 2015, the Toronto Hare Krishna Temple marked Srila Prabhupada's Disappearance Day (the anniversary of his passing).
Festivities actually began at 11:30am with kirtan, a reading and the offering of flowers (puspanjali) to Srila Prabhupada.
Later on, during the evening Sunday Feast, the festival continued with a class by both Bhaktimarga Swami and Krsnadas Kaviraj das wherein they expanded on the incredible contributions that Srila Prabhupada made to our movement and world. There was a very nice interactive element where the audience had a chance to share their realizations about Srila Prabhupada's contributions to the world.
The special Sunday Feast also featured the launch of the annual Srila Prabhupada Book Marathon! During this time of year, known as the season of giving, Hare Krishna temples around the world make a focused effort to share and distribute as many of Srila Prabhupada's books as possible!
To help pump our community with enthusiasm, devotees welcomed our famous "Walking Bhagavad Gita" who helped explain all the exciting things that will be happening during the marathon. One feature worth noting is the creative and unique "thermometer" which will help us see how we are doing on our goals for the marathon. Each week, a cutout of Srila Prabhupada will be raised up a ladder towards the Jaladuta (the boat which he traveled on to America in 1965). So, in essence, as we work towards our goal we will watch each week as Srila Prabhupada "climbs" the ladder and gets closer to the Jaladuta!
All in all, it was a special Sunday Feast where we had a chance to honour Srila Prabhupada and also get enthused about one his most dearest desires - sharing his books with the world!
(courtesy Sahil Srivastava)
Photo Gallery by QuickGallery.com
The festival began with kirtan and continued with a class by Bhaktimarga Swami. Maharaj had just arrived back from a 45-day walk in the United States, commemorating Srila Prabhupada's arrival 50 years ago, in 1965. Bhaktimarga Swami's walk took him from Boston to Butler, Pennsylvania to New York City. After spending some time talking about the significance of the festival of Govardhana Puja, Maharaj then shared some stories and pictures from his walk.
After the class, everyone then oriented themselves around the incredible hill which had lovingly been made by the temple's Pujari (Priest) Department. As everyone took darshan (audience) of the magnificent hill, made entirely of sweets, kirtan captured everyone's hearts. Everyone then had a chance to circumambulate the hill as the kirtan continued and led into the 8:00pm arati (kirtan).
A huge feast awaited the massive crowd as everyone had a chance to partake in delicious prasadam and also enjoy the many sweets that decorated the hill! All in all, the festival was a smash success and devotees thoroughly enjoyed the experience!
(courtesy Sahil Srivastava)
Photo Gallery by QuickGallery.com
Also referred to as Annakuta, Govardhana Puja is a special festival which marks the time when the inhabitants of Vrindavan (Lord Krishna’s abode on Earth) held a harvest festival in honour of King Indra, the demigod who provided the rains essential for the harvest. One day, however, Lord Krishna wanted to teach Indra a lesson. He convinced the inhabitants of Vrindavan to honour Govardhana Hill instead, whose fertile soil provided the grass upon which the cows and bulls grazed, and to honour the cows and bulls who provided milk and ploughed the lands.
Outraged, Indra retaliated with terrifying thunderstorms. The Supreme Personality of Godhead, Krishna, calmly lifted Govardhana Hill with the little finger of his left hand. For seven days and seven nights the Lord held up Govardhana Hill, providing a giant umbrella to shelter the inhabitants of Vrindavan from the torrential rain.
Govardhan Puja celebrations at the Hare Krishna temple have always been popular and this year's festival will once again feature a grand "Govardhana Hill" made entirely of sweets in the middle of the temple room! Please join us for festivities from 6:00pm to 9:00pm on Thursday, November 12, 2015 to celebrate this wonderful festival!
We hope to see you and your family at the Hare Krishna temple for this spectacular festival!
Everyone is invited to bring an offering to Govardhana Hill. Offerings must be brought before 7:00pm on Thursday, November 12th. Offerings may be sweets, fruits, savory or baked items. Items must be 100% vegetarian and not contain onions, garlic, or mushrooms. Additionally there should be no tasting or sampling as Krishna (in the form of Govardhana Hill) must be the first to taste your offering. Offerings should be brought in a new disposable container; the offering does not need to be a large quantity (a six inch foil tray is suggested - see photo). Please feel free to bring as many offerings as you would like!
The story of Diwali stems back to ancient times when inhabitants of Ayodhya celebrated the return of Lord Ramachandra. Lord Rama was in exile, away from His kingdom, for many years. The joyful day on which He finally returned is observed as Diwali, or Dipavali (“dipa” means candles, and “vali” means numerous.).
There will be small celebrations this evening (Nov 11, 2015) at the temple from 6pm to 8:30pm. Everyone is welcome!
Since her entering into office in 2012, she has had many opportunities to meet with ISKCON leaders, travel to India and appreciate Srila Prabhupada's contributions to the world. Below, you will find a very nice video of her sharing a Diwali message! Hare Krsna!
Everyone is eligible to enter - all global citizens are invited. You can be living anywhere, be of any age and engaged in any occupation or studies. The essay competition deadline is December 31, 2015.
For more information click here!
(from ISKCON News)
November 4, 2015 - Mukunda Goswami is making a slow but steady recovery from the surgeries.
While in ICU he was looked after 24/7 by a team of doctors and nurses to make sure that his vital functions were properly restored. Their particular concern was Maharaja’s lungs (risk of a pneumonia) from extended confinement to bed due to the hip fracture as well as possible clotting. Therefore the day after the hip surgery physiotherapists started gently but forcefully encouraging Maharaja to sit up and then to put weight on his legs and walk with the support of a frame. This was (and still is) very painful and difficult for Maharaja, but is paramount for his recovery.
On November 2 Mukunda Maharaja was shifted from ICU to back to a single room in the (Acute) Coronary Care Unit (CCU), where his operating cardio surgeon, orthopaedic surgeon and medical team daily check on him. Mukunda Maharaja’s medical condition is improving, although he still is in a lot of pain, aggravated by the need to sit up in a chair for his lungs rather than lie down in bed. He sticks to his regimen of regular deep breathing, arm, chest and leg exercises. Today's examination revealed less crepitation in his lungs as compared to Monday. As a doctor joked, “you have to dance for us before we can let you go”, and Mukunda Goswami, assisted by his servants, is determined to dance.
Maharaja has increased his food and liquid intake, much to the relief of the doctors and devotees, as another concern with Maharaja’s post-operative condition was his undernourishment, low Hb, low protein and anaemia. Krsna-kirtana Das, his wife Malini Dasi (who both have a lot of hospital experience) and a few other devotees prepare prasadam according to Maharaja’s dietary needs & taste, which Krsna-kirtana personally serves (or sometimes lovingly administers) to Maharaja every morning and noon. This includes hot milk, fruit, high-protein whey drinks, homemade nut & wholegrain bread, as well as mung-dhal soup for lunch. On several occasions Mukunda Maharaja remarked to the nurses that “Hare Krishna food is much better than the hospital food”, to which they cannot help but agree.
Whenever he can, Mukunda Maharaja is chanting japa on his clicker and listens to Srimad Bhagavatam read out to him by attending devotees and we also read The New Govardhana ‘Conch Newsletter’ cover to cover for him. He also showed keen interest in Shyamasundara Prabhu’s newly published book “Chasing Rhinos with the Swami”, remarking in jest that this might not be the most politically correct title for the environment-conscious Australians.
If he maintains the same recovery pace, in a few days or so Mukunda Maharaja will be shifted to a rehabilitation facility at Murwillumbah Hospital near New Govardhan farm and, if his rehabilitation is successful, he will discharged and home in a couple of weeks after that.
In the meantime, devotees are preparing his rooms at the farm for his special needs. Yesterday the tiled floor in his bedroom, bathroom and study, on which the fateful slip almost two weeks ago occurred, was treated by floor grip specialists to make it safer to walk on. Plans are to construct a ramp to the bedroom for Maharaja's easier access, arrange for a medical bed and chair, hand rails, replace all his socks with non-slip ones with rubberized soles, and install an alarm system which would allow Maharaja to call for assistance around the clock. Mukunda Goswami’s disciples express their deepest gratitude to the devotees around the world who offered their financial assistance for making these necessary arrangements for Maharaja’s residence.
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 Tuesday, November 3, 2015 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.
While we all love and enjoy having such an incredible building as the home to our beloved Deities, the sheer age of the structure means that the upkeep and maintenance of the temple can be very demanding! Whether it is leaky pipes, crumbly walls, or minor repairs, the ongoing repairs and maintenance of the temple is something which the temple always struggles to stay ahead of.
In an effort to help our community get a sense of the volume, work, and cost of temple repairs and maintenance, the ISKCON Toronto Temple Council (the temple management) regularly publishes the latest repairs that are required, along with a recap of completed projects. This spreadsheet is published automatically on the Temple Council's website and contains "before and after photos" for all completed projects! You can always check this page to see the latest (and upcoming) repairs at the temple and also submit requests for things to be fixed if you notice anything around the temple that needs attention!
Check Out Your Temple's Repairs by Clicking Here!
This month is described as especially dear to Krishna, and sincere spiritualists keep it sacred through acts of devotion and vows of austerity aimed at increasing their spiritual strength and drawing closer to Krishna.
At the Hare Krishna temple, every Sunday Feast during this very special month will be highlighted with sublime festivities. Of note, we will collectively sing the Damodarastakam prayers, which celebrate one of Krishna's most endearing pastimes.
The month will also feature amazing festivals and the opportunity for us to dive deeper in our spirituality! We hope you can join us every Sunday at the Hare Krishna temple during this auspicious month.
As a special treat, you can view a wonderful animation of the Damodarastakam prayers (complete with lyrics and translation) below:
We would like to invite our regular temple website visitors to share their personal vows for Kartik. You can use the "shoutbox" below to share your vows and possible inspire other readers. You can also read through other devotees' vows and hopefully become inspired yourself! You can choose to share your Kartik vows using your name or anonymously. Hare Krsna!
Share Your Kartik Vows:
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Devotees Worldwide Pray for Mukunda Goswami After Triple-Bypass Surgery
By: Madhava Smullen for ISKCON News on Oct. 28, 2015
His Holiness Mukunda Goswami, an ISKCON pioneer, guru, and one of Srila Prabhupada’s very first disciples, has undergone a successful triple-bypass surgery after suffering a heart-attack.
However devotees worldwide are still praying intensely as he prepares to undergo another high risk surgery on his hip tomorrow (Thursday October 29th).
On the night of October 22nd, Mukunda Goswami – respectfully known as Maharaja -- slipped at his residence on the ISKCON New Govardhana Farm in Australia and broke his hip.
As they assessed him for surgery on the hip, doctors at the Tweed Hospital on Australia’s Gold Coast detected an underlying heart condition, and canceled the hip surgery due to the risk of further heart complications.
During the night of October 24th, Maharaja suffered a heart attack, and was transferred to a larger regional hospital. There, he was scheduled for a triple-bypass heart surgery.
Despite his condition he was in good spirits as he awaited surgery. “He was chanting Hare Krishna, listening to recordings of Srila Prabhupada chanting the Holy Names, and his disciples were also reading Srimad-Bhagavatam to him,” reported Nitai Chandra Das.
Nitai Chandra’s father, Krsna Kirtan Das, is caring for Mukunda Goswami and liasing with hospital staff along with Vishnujan Das and Madan Mohan Das.
“We read some messages to Maharaja from Godbrothers and sisters, disciples and wellwishers, and he was pleased to hear them,” added Malini Durr.
The six-hour triple bypass surgery was a success. Afterwards, his heart was beating on its own, which doctors called “the best case scenario” given his pre-surgery condition.
But prayers are needed now more than ever. Maharaja is currently in the Intensive Care Unit, and his orthopedic surgeon plans to operate on his hip tomorrow.
According to the surgeon, as well as the general risks of the operation associated with old age, Mukunda Goswami is especially high-risk due to having just undergone a major surgery on top of his already weak heart.
However, delaying the operation also carries a high mortality risk, as Maharaja’s lungs have begun to rattle because of his long period of immobility in hospital, which increases the chances of pneumonia. So, doctors say, getting him up and moving is extremely important.
More news on the outcome of the operation will come very soon. Of course, visiting will not be allowed until after a substantial recovery time.
“[In the meantime] We now beg all of you to please pray to Srila Prabhupada, Gauranga Mahaprabhu and Lord Nrsimhadeva,” says Krsna Kirtan.
About Mukunda Goswami
Mukunda Goswami was born as Michael Grant in Portland, Oregon. After graduating from Reed College he became a professional jazz musician and moved to New York to pursue his music career. In 1965 Michael met the Hare Krishna founder A. C. Bhaktivedanta Swami Prabhupada. The next year he was in the first group of initiated disciples, receiving the Sanskrit name Mukunda Dasa.
Mukunda was a pioneer in the early days of the Hare Krishna movement. In 1966 in New York City he helped Bhaktivedanta Swami rent a storefront for the first Hare Krishna temple. In 1967 he founded the first Hare Krishna temple in San Francisco and organized a major music event, the Mantra-Rock Dance.
Mukunda Goswami has been a spiritual leader (guru) for many decades within the International Society for Krishna Consciousness.
As a special offering this month, We invite you to an interactive seminar on deepening and strengthening your personal japa meditation.
Facilitated by Hayagriva Das a traveling Hare Krishna Monk, this seminar will give you the tools and techniques to tune your body, mind and soul to achieve full presence and attention.
The seminar shall conclude with sumptuous dinner prasadam at 8:30 pm.
To RSVP, please email email@example.com