Wednesday, November 30, 2022
→ The Walking Monk

Varadero/Matanzas, Cuba

Theresa is from Winnipeg, Manitoba, and is one of the hundreds of thousands of tourists who came to Cuba vacationing. Like so many people, she likes the sun, the white sand, the ocean, water, and the social interaction. When we met this middle-aged, very grounded woman outside the Grand Memories café she had nothing but good things to say about Hare Krishna.

“You are a community. You stand for peace and for good values. I am a Ukrainian Catholic, but I respect you folks. You believe in a higher power, and so do I.” Theresa went on to express that our discussion with her and I and our group from Toronto/Montreal, was already the highlight of the trip. I have mutual feelings on this.

After a swim combined with sadhanaat the ocean, our monks and I, in swimwear and towels wrapped around us, were actually detected by a Montreal man. He held palms together in pranamformat, and described himself as a Buddhist. It is not uncommon to meet Caucasian people taken to Buddhist ways. Anyways, he was most happy to see us.

In the nighttime cafeteria, a middle-age guy spotted us and broke out into singing the maha-mantra. Naturally, we joined him in this song, which drew lots of attention.

The most unforgettable moment of today came from our visit to Matanzas, where local people partook in kirtan, and hearing from us about the story of the young prince Dhruva, who, through determination, succeeded in the pursuit of discipline to conquer over anger. This enthusiastic group gave so much of their love.

May the Source be with you!

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Tuesday, November 29, 2022
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Toronto/ Varadero

Back to Cuba

2019 was the year of my last visit to Cuba. It was at the end of the year, December, and our retreat destination, Hotel Memories, was decorated most elaborately. In its lobby was sparkles and color, addressing the up coming year. There were these massive number 2020, attempts, to put all attendees in the party mode. I recall thinking that this might be prophetic as the year of greater vision.

Not long after the year 2020 set in, when the calendar page flipped to January, everyone was talking about a dreaded virus, corona. I was the least exposed to the media onslaught of this new virus – a little naive, perhaps. At a devotional gathering in Milton, after my talk, a woman raised her hand, and, in an anxious tone of voice, said “Can you give us some guidance on what we should do with Corona, which is now called COVID-19?” I thought she said the word Karuna, which means “mercy.” The question sounded odd to me. Why do we have to be concerned about mercy or grace? Isn’t that what we need in life; some compassion to see us forge ahead? Let the mercy pour on. I was slightly embarrassed when I understood she was referring to fear of the deadly virus.

Anyway, the virus came and it turned the world upside down. Now I am returning to Cuba for a restart, here, not on vacation, but for a visit to devotees of Krishna, who await us in various locations after a long drought of association. The crew includes myself, Vallabha Hari, Prana Gauranga, and Emile. We are a happy bunch.

May the Source be with you!

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Monday, November 28, 2022
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Yorkville, Toronto

The Positive and the Pejorative

Once again, I ended up at St. Mary’s Street when a seven-foot-tall pedestrian stopped to say something.

“Hey!” Said the bespeckled man in a longish coat, and a tuque on his head. “Hare Krishna, right?”

“Yes, I am.”

“I met one of you guys not so long ago. I got three sticks of incense from him. Do you guys still have an open house at your place on Avenue Road? I used to go there when I was a kid.”

“Our open house is on Sunday, at 6 pm, and we have a Govinda’s Restaurant in the building with the most delicious food.”

He then apologized for stopping me in the course of my walk. This politeness is quite stereotypical of being Canadian. We just say sorry all the time. Well, not all of the time. While I was waiting at the red light to cross Bloor St., at Yorkville, A cyclist used the F word towards a young woman, who was just slightly on the bike trail.

“He’s definitely not in the Christmas spirit,” I expressed to her. She smiled and took his remark with a grain of salt. There is a saying, “loose lips sink ships.” Harsh words find no place in a spiritually surcharged space. Unfortunately, our world is of the secular nature, and so you can expect pejorative thoughts and pejorative remarks.

Anyways, seasons greetings.

May the Source be with you!

5 km


 

Sunday, November 27, 2022
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Scarborough, Ontario

Wrong Song

Although temperatures were reporting above freezing, the intermittent raindrops were cold, and the general overcast nature of weather was rather dismal. That didn’t stop people from being true pilgrims and visiting our center in both Scarborough and Toronto. As mentioned before, Sundays are busy days, which in someway restricts me from getting on the pavement to walk.

The crew, or rather congregation, is a lively one. Our fearless leader, Dwarka, recently became hospitalized, putting her out of physical service to the community. However, members of that community stepped up to compensate for the vacancy. That’s what I mean by the word “lively.” Also, the fine kirtan led by Madhava and Annapurna really drew the emotions; sentiment of devotion.

The Toronto community means a lot to me, although also on my mind are places like Cleveland, Buenos Aires, Vancouver, etc. and others. I just happen to live in Toronto and that’s why I’m attached, to some degree.

My talks in both Scarborough and Toronto were on the topic, “This song can’t be wrong,” in reference to the oldest song in the world, “Bhagavad-Gita.” Sometimes unscrupulous, so-called pandits take this song and distorted it. It reminds me of a song by Melanie Safka, entitled, “What have they done to my song, Ma?”

May the source be with you!

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Saturday, November 26, 2022
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Burlington, Ontario

The Special Season

I took three other monks on foot to Toronto’s Old City Hall for kirtan on an interesting navigational route. One of the fellows, Giridhari Lila, recently arrived from the Ukraine, remarked, “You know all the good places,” to which, I replied, “I’ve been around and taken the time to know the unique alleyways. After all, to know a place, whether the countryside or the city, means you have to walk it.”

We arrived at queen and bay, the Old City Hall, where chanting had begun already, with an enthusiastic person on the drum. Radha Mohan, who hails from India, is a fabulous family man. He and his wife, Shyama Mohini, raise their two kids in a Krishna-conscious atmosphere involving a monthly trip to the hall for sharing Krishna in the form of sound to the public. His approach to chanting and drumming has spunk.

Just nearby, in front of City Hall, were four men erecting a rustic dwelling for a nativity of baby Jesus. I was reminded of how every year I see the parallels of Christ and Krishna, and how Christ was born in humble circumstances; in a manger with cows. This is similar to Krishna, making His appearance in the pastoral area of Gokula, in India, where cows roam in pleasure.

From the Old City Hall, a group of three, including me, made our way west to Burlington and to the united church off of Walkers Lane. There we engaged in Krishna caroling. Weekly the ISKCON Burlington branch holds their bhakti program, and today we were the invited guess. We received the mercy of Jesus and Gopal, which is a name of Krishna who is the pal to the cows.

May the Source be with you!

4 km


 

Viplavah 2022, our 4th Annual Global Symposium of Education
→ Dandavats

Dear ISKCON Educators and Devotees, Please accept our humble obeisances. All glories to Śrīla Prabhupāda. ISKCON Ministry of Education would like to invite you to participate in Viplavah 2022, our 4th Annual Global Symposium of Education. Dates: 9th – 11th December, 2022 Event Type: Ted-talk style presentations for 20 minutes followed by 10 minute Q&A
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Wyndham Hare Krishna Centre
→ Ramai Swami

When I recently visited Melbourne temple I was invited by Bhakta and Bhakti to come and join a couple of programs at the new Wyndham centre out in the west of town. This is in a warehouse rented by members of the congregation and offered to the devotees as a nice activity facility.

There is a large devotee community in the west of Melbourne and because of traffic congestion it is not so easy to get to our Danks Street temple all the time. The first night I went we had a wonderful kirtan night and I would say over a hundred attended. The next evening the devotees celebrated Gita jayanti and I was fortunate enough to speak about that.

Request for prayers
→ Dandavats

Dear Devotees, Hare Krishna, Our dear head pujari, HG Jananivas Prabhu was admitted to a hospital in Kolkata, last night. On CT scan a small tumor(1.8cm) was found on his urinary bladder. The doctor’s advice was to have it operated on and sent for a biopsy. The surgery is scheduled for Monday. Today morning, Prabhu
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The Science of God (Srimad Bhagavatam Canto 7)
→ Krishna Dharma

In this canto we first meet Prahlad, a prince in the race of Asuras, fierce enemies of the gods. An exalted saint, he excites the ire of his demonic father Hiranyakshipu by his devotion to Krishna. The demon tries in every way possible to kill his son until at last he is confronted by Krishna’s half man, half lion incarnation, Nrshinghadeva. After this is a conversation between the celestial sage Narada and King Yudhisthira, in which Narada describes in detail the ancient Vedic system of organising society known as varnashrama dharma. A dramatic retelling that vividly brings the text to life and helps the reader go deeply into the transcendental mystery of the great Sanskrit classic, Srimad Bhagavatam.

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Divine Protection (Srimad Bhagavatam Canto 6)
→ Krishna Dharma

In this volume, we see how Krishna saves his devotee from degradation. Beginning with the famous story of Ajamila, the brahmin who fell from an exalted position to become a ruthless robber and cheat, only to be miraculously redeemed at the very moment of death. Then we hear how Indra, king of the gods, insulted his guru and as a result was overpowered by the demonic races, led by Vritra, a supernatural colossus who had been conjured for the god’s destruction. The twist in this tale is that the demon was a great saintly devotee of Krishna. Finally, we hear how Diti, mother of the demons, gains her salvation.

Through all these narrations we see how, no matter how fallen you are, if you have any divine service to your credit, Krishna will find a way to save you.

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The Universal Order: Brilliant as the Sun Canto 5
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In this volume we first meet the powerful King Priyavrata, who rose to the heavens like a second sun to dissipate the darkness of night and create the divisions of Bhumandala. Then comes his son Agnidhra, who weds the celestial beauty Purvachitti and begets on her nine sons, who each become a lord of one of the provinces of Jambudvipa, the great earthly island on which we reside. One of those sons, Nabhi, begets Lord Rishabha, the divine incarnation famous for showing the path of Jada-yoga, practised by highly advanced mystics. Rishabha delivers profound spiritual instructions to his hundred sons, the most famous of which was Bharat, after whom the earth was named. We hear how King Bharat somehow fell from the pinnacle of spiritual practise and became a deer in his next life. He then took birth as the self-realised soul, Jada Bharat. In a dialogue of astonishing brilliance, Bharat instructs King Rahugana, laying bare the stark reality of material existence and showing us how to conquer the mind and transcend all suffering. After this, the great sage Shukadeva takes us on a fantastic cosmic journey, revealing the structure and intricacies of the universal planetary systems, from the highest regions of heaven down to the paradisical subterranean provinces of Bila Svarga, homes of the Daityas, Danavas and Nagas—dark beings of phenomenal power. Finally, we hear a harrowing description of the many hells that sinful persons reach, essential reading for anyone who wants to get a bit more serious about his spiritual life.

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Krishna Fulfills All Desires (Brilliant as the Sun Canto Four)
→ Krishna Dharma

In four enthralling histories we see in this volume of Srimad Bhagavatam how Krishna reciprocates with whatever desire we have. Through the examples of great kings, gods and celestials we learn how to approach Krishna to attain all of life’s important goals. We hear the teachings of great sages, divine incarnations and the Lord himself, which enable us to ultimately achieve the highest perfection: eternal life in the spiritual atmosphere.

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Two Avatars (Brilliant as the Sun Volume 4)
→ Krishna Dharma

In this fourth volume we hear about the appearance of Vishnu’s stupendous boar incarnation, Lord Varaha, who rescues the earth from the demon Hiranyaksha. We also meet the great sage Kardama, who marries Devahuti, daughter of the earth’s emperor, Manu. She gives birth to Lord Kapila, the divine incarnation who descended to teach the ancient science of Sankhya Yoga. Filled with enlightening wisdom and stimulating stories, Two Avataras presents the ancient teachings of the epic Srimad Bhagavatam in a highly enjoyable way that will appeal to anyone seeking real peace and lasting happiness.

Two Avatars Book Amazon

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Vidura’s Pilgrimage (Brilliant as the Sun Volume 3)
→ Krishna Dharma

A vivid dramatization of the great Sanskrit classic Srimad Bhagavatam, “The beautiful story of the Supreme Person”. In this third canto we travel with the saint Vidura as he meets first with Uddhava, Krishna’s secretary and close confidante, and then with the great sage Maitreya. We hear fascinating details about Krishna’s divine pastimes, the cosmos, and the nature of time. Replete with powerful mystical teachings, this profound book will touch your heart and leave you feeling spiritually inspired and renewed.

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Mysteries of Creation
→ Krishna Dharma

In this canto of Srimad Bhagavatam we hear the great sage Shukadeva Goswami answering the questions of King Parikit, who has been cursed to die in seven days. After briefly delineating man’s highest duty and the best way to conquer suffering and death, Shukadeva explains the path of mystic yoga and meditation. We are then introduced to Lord Brahma, greatest of the gods and engineer of the universe. Questioned by his son Narada, another powerful mystic, he describes the process of creation. We hear how the all-powerful Supreme Person expands the elements from his spiritual body, enters into them as an expansion of himself, and manifests the template for creation which Brahma then effects. ‘Mysteries of Creation’ presents this profound and illuminating knowledge in a simplified and dramatic style, making it accessible to all. It offers answers to the often vexing questions of why the creation exists, how we came to be within it, why God apparently lets us suffer, and how we can achieve our fullest potential by awakening our eternal nature as parts of the all-blissful Supreme. Those interested in cosmology and astronomy will also find Mysteries of Creation a fascinating read, presenting as it does the highly scientific descriptions of universal origins, as understood by the enlightened sages of Ancient India. Most of all though, anyone desiring to solve the real problems of life—birth, old age, disease and death—will find this work an invaluable resource. Available as softback, ebook and audio on link below.
Available on Amazon

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Mysteries of Creation narrated by Krishna Dharma

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Mysteries of Creation narrated by Krishna Dharma UK site

Sages of Naimisharanya
→ Krishna Dharma

A dramatic retelling of Srimad Bhagavatam, the most prominent of the Puranas, or histories of the Ancient World. The original Sanskrit text of the work, penned by the great sage Vyasadeva, says it is ‘as brilliant as the sun’, because its teachings can illuminate our consciousness even in the darkest times. Much like the Arabian Nights, it has an intricate structure of stories within stories; epic tales of divine incarnations, saints, sages, gods and earthly kings that span vast periods of time. This volume introduces the foundational story; a conversation among many learned sages and yogis at the holy site of Naimisharanya. Srimad Bhagavatam describes how the earth goes through cyclical ages not unlike the four seasons in a year. Five thousand years ago, the world entered the most terrible of the four ages, otherwise known as Kali Yuga, or the ‘Age of Quarrel and Hypocrisy’. This era is characterised by terrific acts of violence such as large scale animal slaughter, systematic destruction of the planet’s food supplies, and the merciless affliction of civilian populations by warlords and governments alike. All of this leads to escalating miseries as the dreadful age unfolds. Aware of our impending plight through prophetic visions, the compassionate sages of Naimisharanya seek a way to help us. One of their number, Suta Goswami, goes in search of a solution and encounters a dialogue between an emperor cursed to die and a great mystic. From this discussion Suta discovers how anyone, no matter how drastic their circumstances, can transcend their misery and experience boundless joy by comprehending the science of God and the soul. He returns to the sages and faithfully repeats the secrets he has heard, and this becomes the Srimad Bhagavatam. Described as the “literary incarnation of God”, Srimad Bhagavatam elevates its sincere readers to pure spiritual consciousness, beyond the reach of all misery. It describes the living being as an eternal part of the all attractive Supreme Person, Krishna. We are not meant to suffer and Srimad Bhagavatam assures us that our pain will end when we properly apply the spiritual science it expounds. It is the most conclusive self-help book ever written, offering the reader the means to rise above all of the personal, interpersonal, national and international problems we face today. Available as softback, ebook and audio on link below.
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Sages of Naimisharanya narrated by Krishna Dharma UK site

 

Bhagavad-gita As It Is
→ Krishna Dharma

This book is a brilliant tour de force of spiritual realisation. Brightly illuminating the deepest meanings of the text, and making it very clear what Krishna was saying when he first spoke the Gita to Arjuna, Prabhupada takes us by the hand and leads us to realms of unlimited bliss. The evidence speaks for itself. Prabhupada himself said that before he presented this translation and commentary there were over fifty English versions of the Gita available in the West, and not a single person had become God conscious as a result of reading them – which is the essential aim of the Gita. But when his book appeared it started a worldwide movement of people who dedicated their lives to God. That movement is still growing as thousands of people discover these wonderful teachings each year, transforming their lives into a dynamic spiritual quest for the absolute. Every day I study this book and am amazed by the ever deeper levels of transcendental knowledge it contains. It is my manual for sanity and happiness. Whenever things are difficult, a dip into the pages of Prabhupada’s Gita will throw everything into its proper perspective. If I were to be cast away on some desert island with just one book, this would be the one. It is a veritable treasure chest of knowledge, or, as the Vedas themselves say, a desire tree that can fulfil your every wish.

Panchatantra
→ Krishna Dharma

Panchatantra, India’s famous collection of fables has enthralled audiences for centuries. Full of humour, wit and wisdom, the tales combine artfully to convey basic life lessons. These fabulous stories, originally imported by a sage to three young princes, all illustrate that knowing how to use knowledge is more important than knowledge itself. The only non-scholarly version available, it is elegantly crafted and simple to read. Both younger readers and adults will enjoy this vivid retelling of Panchatantra.

What our readers say:

“There is plenty to discuss about dilemmas confronted, actions taken, things said, by the various characters as well as what the children might have thought, said or done in similar circumstances.”  Angela Redfern, School Librarian, Vol. 53, Number 2, Summer 2005

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