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Lord Chaitanya: The Great Teacher of the Holy Name, or Kirtan Avatar

Saturday the 19th of March is the appearance day of “Lord” or “Shri” (most beautiful and auspicious) Chaitanya Mahaprabhu. The disciples of Shri Chaitanya have found ample Vedic scriptural references indicating that Shri Chaitanya is God, and more confidentially, is the aspect of God known as Krishna, the original, all-attractive Source. Shri Gaura (fair or golden complexioned) or Gauranga, as Shri Chaitanya is also called, is considered by his followers to be the incarnation for the present time we live in. This period in history is referred to in the Vedas as the Iron Age of Kali since it is the least fortunate period in the cyclical view of Vedic cosmology consisting of four ages. We might also consider it the winter of human civilization. So-called technological advancement notwithstanding, the time we live in is full of quarrel, hypocrisy, strife, anxiety, disturbance, environmental degradation, and lack of spiritual inclination. Looking at the world situation I think many would agree to this as a valid observation about the world situation, and even in many places in our own country. However, within this difficult age comes the special blessings of Chaitanya Mahaprabhu!

Shri Chaitanya and the Holy Name

Austerity—Forced or Voluntary?

bed of nails

The topic of austerity became something of a web sensation, and was named the word of the year by Merriam-Webster online dictionary in 2010 because of the number of web searches this word generated that year. News articles on the Net and elsewhere have brought the idea of forced austerity into the mainstream causing many people to wonder what austerity is, which is likely because they haven’t experienced directly applying it themselves, or even heard about it being practiced by others—and certainly not in a religious sense of the word.

In fact, as one might expect in a capitalist dominated world, in popular usage, the word is defined primarily, even solely, in terms of economic policy. According to Wikipedia, “In economics, austerity is a policy of deficit-cutting, lower spending, and a reduction in the amount of benefits and public services provided. Austerity policies are often used by governments to reduce their deficit spending while sometimes coupled with increases in taxes to pay back creditors to reduce debt.” In light of this one sided use of the word, I thought it would be interesting to look at a more spiritual perspective, since it is an important word in Eastern spiritual circles, and found throughout Prabhupada’s writings.

Madhava: Heart and Soul Kirtan tour Australia 2011

Based in Switzerland, Madhava travels extensively throughout every continent with his wife Radhika and his band Gaura Prema, enlivening audiences with the power of devotional kirtan. He fuses his Mauritian roots with the influences of India to produce a unique style of kirtan, but one in which the main ingredient is the heartfelt bhakti.

External, Internal Seasons

The wood shed
Winter overcomes our pleasant memories
by the chilling, damp, windy, gray mood,
time stands still, as the leafless trees cry—
even though we know spring will come
we still wonder how we’ll survive.

Now that the winter is fading
the luscious bulbs bursting forth,
I am reminded how my previous life
without a spiritual quest leading to Krishna
seemed purposeless, ominous, dark.

Mayapur TV Times - A video review of the must have guide to Mayapur.TV

Mayapur TV Times in the online magazine guide to www.mayapur.tv the web site dedicated to bringing you live streaming video vision from devotee communities across the world.

Earthquake: ISKCON Christchurch temple wrecked, deities smashed

Scene of Devastation in Christchurch city, New Zealand.

Four or five hours ago another earthquake with a magnitude of 6.3 struck New Zealand causing serious damage to the Christchurch ISKCON Temple. Unconfirmed reports describe the temple as being "in ruins" and say that with the exception of Srila Prabhupada's murti the deities are smashed.

Classic ISKCON Vinyl – Visnujana Swami and the Children of the Gurukula

At www.sitproperly.com Eric Swanger maintains a down loadable archive of "Classic ISKCON Vinyl" from back in the day. Go check it out and you will find a review of each record (that's what we used to listen to before the invention of the CD) pictures of the covers, streaming audio and a button to download it for your mp3 library.

Passing the Torch of Hope, Inspiration and Renewal

Photobucket

Today is the appearance day of Shrila Bhaktisiddanta Sarasvati Prabhupada, my beloved guru’s spiritual master (my param or grandfather guru). This day corresponds with my desire to speak something about hope, which I have expanded upon to include inspiration and renewal. Some modern thinkers have considered that ordinary hope, is lackluster, or a kind of lazy inaction. Just like we might hope to loose weight, get a promotion, stop smoking, find love, win the lottery, or a host of other things, yet not do anything to increase our changes of obtaining those goals. Most things don’t just drop out of the sky, other than unwelcome meteors, hail, or crashing planes, and we have to make some endeavor or work for them. Although mercy is said to be undeserved, we are still advised to increase our spiritual practice and devotion in order to draw the Lord’s attention to us, and be more likely to attract his mercy. As far as possible we want to do our part, while knowing fully that our ultimate success is totally dependent on the independent mercy of the Supreme Lord and his pure devotees.

Meditating on Religion, and Shri Advaita Acharya, on his Appearance Day

Worshiping Shri Advaita

Shri Advaita Acharya is a very important person to understand in the Krishna consciousness movement. He is in the category of God, yet is also a great devotee of God. He is one of our many superlative family members and spiritual superheroes! Before I briefly speak on this, I thought it would be important to consider what someone from another religion might think of this day, and why: On appearance days, or so-called, “birth” anniversaries of great manifestations or incarnations of God, someone from another religion may criticize the observance. They may say, chidingly, “O, they are celebrating the birth of another one of their many Hare Krishna or Hindu gods”. Many people think that Hinduism (as the Vedic path is called in modern times) is about worship of many gods—and often strange ones at that! Or they may think we are animalist or worship forces in Nature and so on. Actually, the heart of the teaching of the Vedas, or Sanatan Dharma, is that there is one supreme spiritual force or God in the Universe and beyond it.

Are You a “Religious” Devotee, or a Sadhaka (spiritual practitioner)?

Banyan tree

In my question which forms the title of this blog, I am using the word “religious” to indicate a person who is only a "part time devotee", or whose practice of Krishna consciousness is sort of on the back burner—only one of many interests. It is important to think about this for both a new person just beginning their spiritual life in relationship to Krishna and for those who have been involved with bhakti or Krishna consciousness for many years, or even decades.

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