The Bhagavat Purana’s 5th Canto – Unpacked
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In this presentation Radha Moha Das explores the four cosmological models of the Bhagavat Purana's 5th Canto, as documented by Dr Richard Thompson (Sadaputa das) in his book 'Mysteries of the Sacred Universe'. Namely the models include a planisphere of the earth, a topological map of the mountains of central Asia, the geo-centric solar system and celestial realms of the demigods. However, in this presentation Radha Mohan mainly explores the results of combining any two of the models in order to extract more information encoded the Puranas about the earth and beyond in very ancient times.

News from La Nouvelle Mayapur, Iskcon New Mayapur in France (Album of photos)
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Bhakti connotes devotion, or love, and love implies service. Service refers to that activity which is intended to please the beloved. Thus “devotional service” is an eloquent definition of Bhakti. Love is the most fundamental drive of every living entity. We cannot be happy without satisfying this desire to love, and we will not be able to perfectly fulfill this desire without permitting its expansion to the most inclusive extent.

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Remembering Krishna in Kali-yuga
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As conditioned souls, our deepest problem is that we have forgotten our relationship with the Supreme Lord, and we are engrossed in thinking of material activities. In order to transfer our thinking power back to Krishna, we have received the Holy Name and the Vedic literature.

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Tasting and Distributing Krishna Consciousness: December Marathon Message
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By Giriraj Swami

We have again reached December, that most auspicious time of year when the book-distribution marathon takes place. In honor of the occasion, I quote two verses from Srimad-Bhagavatam that embody the devotee’s mood in distributing Krishna consciousness. Continue reading "Tasting and Distributing Krishna Consciousness: December Marathon Message
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Bhakti Learning – Best eLearning Design Award 2020
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By Prana dasa

In September Bhakti Learning were thrilled to receive an award for Best e-learning Design at the Annual LearnX Awards held in Sydney, Australia. The category for the award was Shift-it-Online. We successfully demonstrated to the judges how we shifted traditional learning content to an online platform, using innovative design and delivery methods. Continue reading "Bhakti Learning – Best eLearning Design Award 2020
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Tasting and Distributing Krishna Consciousness: December Marathon Message
Giriraj Swami

We have again reached December, that most auspicious time of year when the book-distribution marathon takes place. In honor of the occasion, I quote two verses from Srimad-Bhagavatam that embody the devotee’s mood in distributing Krishna consciousness.

naivodvije para duratyaya-vaitaranyas
  tvad-virya-gayana-mahamrta-magna-cittah
soce tato vimukha-cetasa indriyartha-
  maya-sukhaya bharam udvahato vimudhan

“O best of the great personalities, I am not at all afraid of material existence, for wherever I stay I am fully absorbed in thoughts of Your glories and activities. My concern is only for the fools and rascals who are making elaborate plans for material happiness and maintaining their families, societies, and countries. I am simply concerned with love for them.” (SB 7.9.43)

prayena deva munayah sva-vimukti-kama
  maunam caranti vijane na parartha-nisthah
naitan vihaya krpanan vimumuksa ek
  nanyam tvad asya saranam bhramato ’nupasye

“My dear Lord Nrsimhadeva, I see that there are many saintly persons indeed, but they are interested only in their own deliverance. Not caring for the big cities and towns, they go to the Himalayas or the forest to meditate with vows of silence [mauna-vrata]. They are not interested in delivering others. As for me, however, I do not wish to be liberated alone, leaving aside all these poor fools and rascals. I know that without Krsna consciousness, without taking shelter of Your lotus feet, one cannot be happy. Therefore I wish to bring them back to shelter at Your lotus feet.” (SB 7.9.44)

To distribute Krishna consciousness, we must have Krishna consciousness. These verses are about Prahlada Maharaja, and in a way they are also about Srila Prabhupada, who in his purport expressed his own mood—and about us, how Srila Prabhupada wants us to execute Krishna consciousness. Prahlada Maharaja and Srila Prabhupada were each on a very high level of Krishna consciousness, but even on our own level we can experience something of what they experienced, that wherever we are we can get relief from material miseries and anxieties by taking shelter of the holy name. We can joyfully chant in the temple room, in the association of devotees, before the Deities, and in the presence of Tulasi-devi—but one can chant anywhere, even on traveling sankirtana. One can close one’s eyes and chant and hear and no longer be in the material world—actually be with Krishna.

Devotees need that connection with Krishna—not just for their own sakes but also for the sake of others. Once, in a meeting with Srila Prabhupada in the Atlanta temple, Svavasa Prabhu asked, “How can we increase our devotion and our desire to distribute more books?” He and the other devotees were eagerly anticipating some special formula to expand their book distribution. Srila Prabhupada didn’t look at them; he looked upward, as they waited in suspense. Finally he said, “If you want to increase book distribution, if you really want, I have only one recommendation. . . . You must chant your rounds uninterrupted. After you begin your chanting, do not stop until you finish.” As Svavasa Prabhu explained, if you win that fight, you will win all day, but if you lose it and allow your mind to carry you to something else, you will have a difficult day.

Svavasa Prabhu still follows that policy. He gets up at two in the morning and chants all his rounds before even coming to the temple for mangala-arati. A while ago I stayed with Vaisesika Prabhu at his home in Burlingame, and his morning program was blissfully intense. He did things that we do every day—and some things that we may do only on occasion—but he did them with so much enthusiasm and so much relish that the practices came to life. I felt, “Wow, that’s what reciting these verses and prayers actually is.” We spoke later about the book he was writing on book distribution, and he said that one of the themes was that the energy to distribute books comes from the overflow of the ecstasy we feel from our spiritual practices, from our own Krishna consciousness.

I’ve also experienced that if you chant your rounds in the morning before going out{,} you will get extra energy and intelligence for your service, and if you don’t, not only may you be a little depleted in your spiritual energy, but you may also be in anxiety about when you’re going to finish your rounds.

So, this practice of rising early and chanting all your rounds is very much part of the process of sharing Krishna consciousness with others. In the first verse, Prahlada said that he has no anxiety for himself because wherever he is he can merge himself into the nectarean ocean of Krishna consciousness—and that’s true for us as well. Wherever we go, we can have that experience of tasting the nectar of Krishna consciousness by chanting the holy names and by reading, studying, and discussing Srila Prabhupada’s books.

So the two—tasting and distributing—go together. Srila Bhaktisiddhanta Sarasvati Thakura said that the best gosthyanandi is a bhajananandi who likes to preach. Gosthyanandi means someone who takes pleasure in preaching and sharing Krishna consciousness with others, and a bhajananandi is someone who takes pleasure in his own bhajana, his own spiritual practices. Prahlada Maharaja exemplifies that principle, because personally he can experience pure bliss anywhere at any time just by chanting and hearing and remembering his Lord. Yet he is not content to go back home, back to Godhead, alone; he wants to bring the krpanan with him.

Krpana is a very significant word. It is discussed by Srila Prabhupada in the Bhagavad-gita, in relation to Arjuna’s admission that he was overcome by miserly weakness.

karpanya-dosopahata-svabhavah
  prcchami tvam dharma-sammudha-cetah
yac chreyah syan niscitam bruhi tan me
  sisyas te ’ham sadhi mam tvam prapannam

“Now I am confused about my duty and have lost all composure because of miserly weakness. In this condition I am asking You to tell me for certain what is best for me. Now I am Your disciple, and a soul surrendered unto You. Please instruct me.” (Gita 2.7)

Krpana means “miser.” But how does it apply? A miser is someone who has an asset but doesn’t use it. He may have a lot of money but not spend it for any good purpose; he will just hoard it. So, we have this human form of life, which is extremely rare and valuable—valuable because it can be used to realize God. And if we don’t use it for that purpose, we are krpanas, misers.

labdhva su-durlabham idam bahu-sambhavante
  manusyam artha-dam anityam apiha dhirah
turnam yateta na pated anu-mrtyu yavan
  nihsreyasaya visayah khalu sarvatah syat

“After many, many births one achieves the rare human form of life, which, although temporary, affords one the opportunity to attain the highest perfection. Thus a sober human being should quickly endeavor for the ultimate perfection of life before his body, which is always subject to death, falls away. After all, sense gratification is available even in the most abominable species of life, whereas Krsna consciousness is possible only for a human being.” (SB 11.9.29)

And not only do we have this form of life, but we have the knowledge of Krishna consciousness, which is most valuable, and we should not keep that knowledge to ourselves; we should distribute it.

Of course, preaching directly about Krishna can sometimes be an austerity. As Srila Prabhupada said, “If you tell people ‘Give up all your nonsense and just surrender to Krishna, the Supreme Personality of Godhead,’ they might not like it.” A few might, but most probably won’t. And the same applies to distributing books. It can be an austerity, because people don’t like the message of Krishna consciousness. They came into the material world to be God, and they don’t want to hear that someone else is God and that they have to surrender to Him. But if we can get them to take a book, the book will tell them. Some time ago, I was visiting a nice devotee family, and the mother’s mother, who was visiting from India, was a pious lady and was very respectful and appreciative of devotees but expressed some wild, impersonalist ideas. I thought, “What am I going to do?” We were having a nice visit, the fulfillment of my hosts’ long-cherished desire, and everyone was very happy. If I contradicted her, it could have led to an argument and had a bad effect. But I couldn’t just let the comments stand.

So I prayed to Prabhupada in my heart, and I got the answer: “Just be polite and pleasant, and I’ll preach to her; I’ll correct her.” Without challenging anything the grandmother had said, I asked, “Have you read Srila Prabhupada’s books?” And we concluded that she would begin to study them regularly.

In these verses we find words that Srila Prabhupada uses quite frequently: “fools” and “rascals.” If you take the meaning of krpana to its deepest level, it comes to fool and rascal, and in the earlier verse vimudhan literally means “fool.” In many places Krishna uses these words—avajananti mam mudha, na mam duskrtino mudhah. They are in the scriptures, but it may not work well if we use them with the people we are trying to attract to Krishna consciousness. Again, here’s where the books come in. We don’t have to call people fools and rascals; we give them the books, and the books will call them fools and rascals. And they need to hear it, whether in those terms or not.

His Holiness Rtadhvaja Swami used to distribute books at Florida Welcome Centers. People would park and get out of their cars, and in one case the wife went into the welcome center and the husband stayed in the parking lot. Rtadhvaja Swami handed him a Bhagavatam. “What’s this about?” the man asked. “It has ancient teachings on yoga and meditation,” Maharaja replied. “Oh, that sounds interesting.” So, the man opened the book, and the first thing he read was, “persons . . . averse to the nectar of the activities of the Supreme Personality of Godhead . . . are compared to stool-eating hogs.” He asked Maharaja, “What does this have to do with yoga?” Just then, his wife came out and said, “Honey, what do you have there? What are you talking about?” “Oh, nothing, Honey,” he replied, and then he closed the book, handed Maharaja a donation, and walked away with the book, smiling. Although he didn’t want his wife to know he was being accused of being like a “stool-eating hog,” he wanted to hear it.

Once, Bhurijana Prabhu, knowing how some devotees can be sensitive to strong language, played a short excerpt in which Prabhupada used the word “rascal” seven times. And each time Prabhupada used the word, Bhurijana would say, “First time,” then “Second time,” then “Third time,” all the way through. He was aware of what Prabhupada had been doing, and in that little three- or four-minute excerpt Prabhupada had used the word “rascal” seven times—because pleasant or unpleasant, that’s what we need to hear.

Sometimes readers have noted that there is repetition in Prabhupada’s books. By ordinary literary standards, there shouldn’t be repetition, but Prabhupada himself said, “It is not enough to say that Krishna is the Supreme Personality of Godhead in one purport; we will say that Krishna is the Supreme Personality of Godhead in every purport.” So, there may be repetition, and there may be strong language, but the books have everything, and if someone is sincere he or she will get what he or she needs from them. The books have made so many devotees, they are making devotees now, and they will continue to make devotees in the future.

So, yes, “Distribute books! Distribute books! Distribute books!” And to get the strength to do that, chant and hear and be steady in your spiritual practices—and read the books. As Srila Prabhupada said, “Distributing my books will keep them [the devotees] happy, and reading my books will keep them.” He has given us everything, but we have to take advantage, we have to do what he said, and if we do, we will get the results and everyone will be happy.

Yours in service,
Giriraj Swami

Tuesday, December 1, 2020
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Yorkville, Toronto

 

Usually

 

Usually at this time of year I’m in Varadero, Cuba. I am typically at the beach, under the sun, making visitations to cities like Havana, Matanzas and St. Declaro. We hold kirtansessions, give bhakti lessons, answer questions, walk the streets, etc. etc. I do miss the wonderful people there. I also miss the good company of another monk, a Swami from Spain. His name is Yaduananda Swami. He’s kind, cool and caring.

 

With everyone in the world being grounded, reminiscence becomes somewhat magnified. “Oh, we used to do this around now.” “Oh! We had such a great break from winter, the latest political elections and so on.” “Now, it’s a real lockdown. We are keeping apart from each other.” The feeling of separation is really very long.

 

On my walk through Yorkville tonight I saw much fewer people out on the streets. The weather did not help. It was too intimidating. It snowed all day.

 

Snow does, on the other hand, add a dreaminess to the place. I had Dwarka on my mind. That magnificent city in eastern India is mysterious. We talked about this ancient urban treasure in our Bhagavatam class. The oldest section of this place was a fortress were Krishna ruled, now engulfed by the waters of the Arabian Sea. You see, Sri Krishna was a real person who did amazing things, some things he still does to this very day, somewhere, somehow in some distant galaxy, cosmos and world.

 

During my walk today I had people in my prayers—Indira Nayer, Jim, my brother-in-law, as well as some victims of Covid. It’s a serious world but the snow makes light of it.

 

May the Source be with you!

3 km


 

 

Monday, November 30, 2020
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The Temple, Toronto

 

Permanent?

 

I received my permanent bridge. It was installed in my mouth and it looks great. The word “permanent” may be deceiving. The only power that I understand to be of a lasting fixture is the soul. But, you know, I wasn’t about to have a dispute with my dentist on the use of the word. He even admitted it’s good for about 20 years.

 

The soul, the Supersoul, brahman, or the spiritual energy all around us, is eternal but that is not the same case for any dental office. The theme is “teeth” and such a clinic as this is geared toward seeing clients have good choppers and a smiling face with a shiny keyboard, the dentures.

 

I thanked my dentist and I left a bulging bag of crispy organic apples for the lunch room. The crew really is wonderful at the clinic and offer their service with a smile. They rather remind me of the smiles I saw this morning on the deity shrine. Krishna, in his various manifestations, looked dazzling, all of them looking grand in their colourful attire. My day begins like this, glancing at the images of the Supreme.

 

Later in the afternoon I spoke on the phone with the man who welded together the gates to the deity shrine. His name is Murali Krishna, an American-born devotee. Yes, Murali was well liked by his peers and congregates. There was such a buzz at his time, in the mid to late 70’s, when Murali became the temple coordinator. He really is a people-person, apart from being the skilled artist and craftsman that he is. Those gates protecting the deities are quite solid. They were installed in ‘77 or ‘78. They will last, but they are not permanent.

 

May the Source be with you!

0 km


 

 

Sunday, November 29, 2020
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Yorkville, Toronto

 

Zooms

 

Yogendra, The priest for the event, was all set up with his kund, a sacrificial apparatus for a fire ceremony in his home in Lunenburg, Nova Scotia. Etienne had his array of musical instruments—harmonium, mrdunga drum and hand cymbals—at his place in Moncton, New Brunswick, the next providence over. He was poised to play along with his daughter, Kunti. It was 11 a.m. Eastern Standard Time in Toronto, where I sat in our temple on Avenue Road, prepared to be on the same Zoom network as them for delivering a talk on the importance of initiation. I am the guru who’s initiating.

 

Now the missing link to this mystical scenario is the candidate for initiation. His name is Marshall Daley. He’s a native of Halifax and is taking that step towards transcendence. Meanwhile friends and moral supporters of Marshall tuned in from other parts of the continent. Through the screen I recognized people dropping in from British Columbia. Hello, Brhat! And Dhruva, from Calgary. Samuel, from Montreal, also participated. Bonjour!

 

A virtual event it was, and when it came time to administer a new name suspense was in the air. Marshall had his new custom made japa beads in his hand, which I touched as he outstretched them to the screen. I announced his new name, Mangalananda, which means “auspiciously joyful.” Congratulations!

 

Two more Zooms were on today’s agenda. One for Edmonton. Indeed I spoke about child Krishna in His month of Damodara. A second Zoom was a memorial event to praise a friend, Krishnanandini, who is renowned for her compassionate disposition. A mother of 10 and admired the world over. We gave homage. She passed away from cancer. I had to skip a fourth Zoom, which was a chanting session for Bangladesh. Unfortunately my dental bridge snapped off.

 

May the source be with you!

4 km


 

Saturday, November 28, 2020
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Yorkville, Toronto

 

The Month of Damodara

 

We have been honoring the month of Damodara, Krishna who acts as a child in all frivolity. The following is a rhyming translation by Kalakanta for the song, “Damodarastaka”.

 

After you steal butter, Your earrings dance and shine.

As you flee Your mother in Gokula pastimes.

Though you are all blissful, all knowing, ever-new

Greatest of controllers, Your mother controls You.

 

She shows You the stick and she binds You by the waist.

You shutter and sob and Your necklace of pearls shakes.

As You rub Your frightened eyes, tears melt down Your face.

Ropes of her love bind You in Your mothers embrace.

 

Relishing Your childhood activities like this,

You plunge Your devotees in deep mellows of bliss.

Though many revere You, by love You are subdued.

Again and again, Lord, I bow down before You.

 

Although You give freedom, I don’t ask to be free.

Nor do I want anything You could offer me.

I only request that Your sweet childhood pastimes

Ever be in acted in my heart and my mind.

 

Curly hair circles Your face of blackish blue.

Kisses make Your cheeks look like red bima fruit.

May this sublime version be all that I can see.

Any other treasure has no value to me.

 

Oh Damodara! Oh Vishnu! Oh Lord beyond compare,

Be pleased with a soul sunk in oceans of despair.

Uplift and protect me with glances from Your eyes;

Show Your compassion like rainfall from the skies.

 

Two sons of Kuvera were cursed to stand as trees;

You gave them the chance to become Your devotees,

My Lord, will You offer the same blessing to me?

I don’t want to merge with your identity.

 

Although in Your belly the universe is found.

Your mother’s effulgent rope has Your belly bound.

I bow to that rope and to Radha, Your most dear.

And those sublime pastimes in which You appear.

 

May the Source be with you!

3 km


 

Performing “RISE EP” and chanting Hare Krishna live (video)
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Willow Smith & Jahnavi released an EP "Rise" together recently and it is really good. The title speaks for itself and it is something I would recommend anyone to listen to if you want to feel something. In this Instagram live both Willow & Jahnavi talk about the songs and perform them so you can view the chemistry they both have.

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Nectar Talks! NRR Couple – Iskcon Alachua (video)
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We speak with Madhumati devi dasi and Sesa das. They are very public figures in the ISKCON society, but moreover, deep and genuine personalities. They're also extra brave, because they've agreed to be our very first guests in the hot seat! And 'The Hot Seat' is a real thing on Nectar Talks, so tune and find out what's in store for them.

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The Cause of All Causes (video)
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By Radhika Ramana Dasa

The best example of self-sufficiency is the sun. The sun does not require to be illuminated by any other body. Rather, it is the sun which helps all other illuminating agents, for in the presence of the sun no other illuminating agent becomes prominent. Nārada compared the position of Brahmā to the self-sufficiency of the spider, who creates its own field of activities without any other’s help by employment of its own energetic creation of saliva. Continue reading "The Cause of All Causes (video)
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Protecting Children Online
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By ISKCON Ministry of Education

Safety Recommendations from the ISKCON Child Protection Office North America in collaboration with the Ministry of Education and Youth Ministry. This set of general information about protecting children online provides information for parents, teachers, event hosts and management to consider when engaging children online. Continue reading "Protecting Children Online
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December Book Distribution
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Now let us cooperate fully to fulfill Srila Prabhupada’s desire, which is the desire of Sri Chaitanya Mahaprabhu and the parampara, and distribute such transcendental literature for the benefit of all—and be blessed by their sublime mercy.

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December Book Distribution
Giriraj Swami

My dear devotees,

Please accept my humble obeisances. All glories to Srila Prabhupada.

In a letter to me dated December 1971, Srila Prabhupada wrote, “Go on increasing books, and go on increasing my pleasure.” December is a special opportunity to focus on Srila Prabhupada’s desire that we distribute books—and thus increase his pleasure. As he wrote in the same letter, “I am most pleased especially to hear that you are distributing many books.”

tad-vag-visargo janatagha-viplavo
  yasmin prati-slokam abaddhavaty api
namany anantasya yaso ’nkitani yat
  srnvanti gayanti grnanti sadhavah

“That literature which is full of descriptions of the transcendental glories of the name, fame, forms, pastimes, etc., of the unlimited Supreme Lord is a different creation, full of transcendental words directed toward bringing about a revolution in the impious lives of this world’s misdirected civilization. Such transcendental literatures, even though imperfectly composed, are heard, sung, and accepted by purified men who are thoroughly honest.” (SB 1.5.11)

Now let us cooperate fully to fulfill Srila Prabhupada’s desire, which is the desire of Sri Chaitanya Mahaprabhu and the parampara, and distribute such transcendental literature for the benefit of all—and be blessed by their sublime mercy.

Thank you very much.

Hare Krishna.

Yours in service,
Giriraj Swami

eParikrama 2020 – Final Meditations
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As Damodara masa comes to an end, so does our eParikrama this year. We wish to thank all you vaisnavas for your heartfelt prayers for Maharaja’s speedy recovery and hope that you received some inspiration out of Maharaja’s daily meditations here on KKSBlog from his previous Parikramas. We also thank you vaisnavas for your enthusiasm and engagement throughout the eParikrama.

2020 has been an unprecedented year, however it did not stop us from meditating on Sri Vrndavana dhama together. We meditated on various places of significance in and around Vrndavana (see below for a recap of the eParikrama) and focused our minds on the pastimes of Radha and Krsna, and Their associates. We especially focused deeply on the meditations of Srimati Radharani, Who shows us that there is no such thing as separation as long as we are one in thought. If we are always thinking of Krsna, then we are always united with Him and with each other.

We hope that we are able to come together in person for Parikrama 2021. Until then, we continue to sincerely pray that Sri Vrndavana dhama manifest in our hearts.

Hare Krsna!

The article " eParikrama 2020 – Final Meditations " was published on KKSBlog.