What if there was one simple solution for all your problems? Something so easy that even a child could do it? Something which costs nothing, is available to everyone and ultimately ends all suffering? Well, before you decide to follow the standard dictum that if it sounds too good to be true then it most likely is, ask yourself a couple of questions. Firstly, do you know who you really are? I don’t mean a man, woman, black, white, John, Jill or Javed—no, I’m talking about the real
It seems many of us do not like the government telling us how we should conduct our lives. The current lockdown has elicited vigorous opposition in certain corners of the media, and indeed on many streets around the world. The suggestions that a vaccine may become mandatory, if and when it is eventually developed, will no doubt create even bigger waves of resistance. Professor Ian Philip, a health expert at Sheffield University and government advisor, said, “The real challenge is that people don’t want to hear messages from government…”
Listening today to a lecture by Srila Prabhupada, my esteemed teacher, I was struck by a brilliant analogy he gave. First, he cited a verse from Vedic literature which basically states that the attempt to improve one’s material situation amounts to nothing more than ‘decorating a dead body’. In other words, the material body is destined to die today or tomorrow. It is always dead, in one sense, as it is only animated by the soul within, which is who we are. As C.S.Lewis famously said, ‘You don’t have a
Srila Prabhupada once said that when devotees give up practicing Krishna consciousness it is ‘fifty percent their fault, and fifty percent ISKCON’s”. In this article I would like to explore what I perceive as a systemic problem contributing to our society’s fifty percent of the blame.
It is surely surprising that someone should get as far as seriously following the process of Krishna consciousness, only to give it up again. Most of us experienced an immediate relief of suffering when we joined, and we have all heard many times how pure
It can be a challenge to maintain your dignity sometimes. I remember when I became a Krishna monk many years ago and donned the orange robes to venture forth on to the streets. Hare Krishna devotees were not a familiar sight at the time, and we would often encounter a spirited response from onlookers, as we sang and danced our way along the road. On one occasion I was showered with a can of beer, and it took strong resolve on my part to keep my composure.
It’s much better
Love must be one of the most over used and perhaps undervalued words in the dictionary. I’m just as guilty as anyone else, declaring my love for cheese on toast, lying in the sun, or, confession time, Raymond Chandler.
In the true sense of the word I wouldn’t say I really love any of those things. For me love means an awful lot more than just liking something rather a lot. Actually in the language of my scriptures, Sanskrit, the word love is only used in connection
When I first moved into a Krishna temple, back in the 70s, I discovered that the founder of the Hare Krishna society had dubbed his movement ‘the kitchen religion’. I was somewhat bemused by this – but, as a young man in my 20’s with a keen interest in eating, I was not entirely averse to the idea.
And I soon found out the reason for this culinary epithet when, a few weeks later, a festival was celebrated in the temple. To my amazement and delight a colourful array of vegetarian
Officially, the summer solstice is the longest day – almost 17 hours of broad daylight. However, in my experience the length of the day depends largely upon what I happen to be doing. How could I ever forget, for example, those interminable history lessons at school. The clock on the wall all but froze as the teacher apprised us of the fascinating exploits of Oliver Cromwell and his gallant roundheads.
Thankfully I am no longer subjected to such torture, but now I find that on the sacred days when I
• VRAJA RAJA SUTAM ASTAKAM
Complexion that conquers storm clouds gathering
Lord of lovers and great sea of all ecstasies
Peacock plume in his crown angled auspiciously
Worship Krishna dark jewel son of Vrindavan’s king
His eyebrows like rainbows both broadly bending
A million full moons fail to match his beauty
Sparkling speech on his lips ever smiling sweetly
Worship Krishna dark jewel son of Vrindavan’s king.
Due to Cupid’s confusions his limbs shivering,
Ever dazzlingly dressed for Vrindavan’s delight
Like two blue lotus blossoms
Dear friend, the trembling of my heart can never find a cure.
No herb or medicine or balm, my beating breast can calm.
For this disease one remedy will bring relief for sure,
but that alas will soon produce painful opprobrium.
My friend I am severely struck and all my sense departs,
when Krishna’s name enters my ears and lodges in my heart.
And then there is another one whose flute enchants my mind,
seizing it with such madness that I can no peace find.
Again there is a third one, whose brilliance I see
in pictures of
Curious to see if I was an authentic Brit I recently attempted the Life in the Uk test that the government requires aspiring new British citizens to take. To my great relief I passed it with 90%, only falling down on a question of how long was the hundred years war. I can’t see many people knowing that it was actually 116 years nor indeed how relevant to being British that knowledge is. I would think it better to test prospective citizens on their ability to talk about the weather
In the halcyon days of my youth I was a bit of a rock fan. As well as permanently damaging my ear drums, it has left me with a head full of various song lyrics hollered out to the strains of rapid fire guitar and pounding drums. One such line I recall was an old blues song covered by Cream, where Jack Bruce declaimed that, “If it wasn’t for bad luck I wouldn’t have no luck at all.”
For a while that became something of an anthem for me, as I
It isn’t always easy to see the funny side of things. Often I find it happens in retrospect. Recently I set off for a trip to that fabled land of chocolate and respected home of the European Union, Belgium. After loading up my trusty Satnav with the appropriate maps, I struck out by road. All went well until I approached my destination and it became apparent that the old satnav was struggling. It had taken me far out into the snow swept wilds of the Ardennes and as I peered
One of my favourite quotes is from the business mentor Stephen Covey, who said that the main thing is to keep the main thing the main thing. In other words, don’t lose your focus. To achieve that of course, I need to have a clear aim in life on which to focus. For many years I grappled with that, not being altogether clear what I was trying to achieve beyond survival and hopefully a bit of fun now and again. Finding myself struggling on both counts I eventually consulted
Deep in the forests of India there once lived a fierce hunter. Tawny skinned, with blood red eyes, he was like death personified to all animals. With his nets, knives and traps, he stalked among the trees carrying out his terrible business. He took pleasure from killing animals, even when he did not want them for food. Seeing him to be cruel and heartless, all his friends and relatives had shunned him, and he lived alone in a small hut. He survived on wild berries, fruits, and the meat of
In its most recent survey on the subject of God, the National Centre for Social Research found that some ninety percent of us claim to be believers. One in five even said they had no doubts about God’s existence. Such statistics are perhaps surprising, given that education today tends to steer us toward more atheistic notions such as the’ Big Bang’ and evolution. Surprising also in the face of the widely touted suggestion that religion is the cause of most conflicts, a suggestion seemingly reinforced by the ferocity of some
Ho ho ho.
When we send our children to school obviously we hope that they will be taught the truth. Well, at least some of the time. It seems that painful truths may have to wait, such as the non-existence of Santa Claus. A teacher who recently made the grave error of informing children in her class that Father Christmas was not real found herself out of a job. Parents were furious. “My Joshua came home in tears,” said one anguished mother. “I didn’t know what to say.”
We want our
The first question often asked about the Bhagavad-gita is why was it spoken on a battlefield? Despite a common view that religion is a major cause of war, the general view is that the two should remain separate. Religion or spirituality should result in peace not conflict. If one’s spiritual practises bring about the bloodthirsty desire to eliminate the followers of some other faith then they must be suspect. That would surely seem to make sense.
Nevertheless the Gita did arise from a war, the great Battle of Kurukshetra. Not only
Here is the first of of three Mahabharata lectures delivered in New Vraja Dhama, the Hungarian farming community.
“A lesson learned from the life of Bhishmadeva”
My trip to India brought a few surprises. It’s been some years since I was last there and things are changing fast. The cities are still the same bustling mess of teeming madness, much like anywhere else I suppose, but it’s in the outlying rural areas that I was most shocked. In my many visits to India I’ve always headed straight for a small village called Vrindavan, the most sacred place for Hindus where Krishna appeared some 5000 years ago. Last
Mahabharata: The Greatest Spiritual Epic of all Time is now available as an audio book. Over 45 hours of narration. Click here
There was once a wicked man of the lower classes. He abandoned all holy rites and gave himself to sin. He had a young wife but also kept a prostitute in his house. The wife, wishing only to please him, served them both. She washed their feet and ate only the remnants of their food. Although the prostitute tried to prevent her she continued to serve that woman in every way, along with her husband. When they lay together in bed the wife would lie nearby on the bare ground. In
DURLABHA MANAVA JANMA
durlabha manava-janma labhiya samsare
krsna na bhajinu — duhkha kahibo kahare?
Born in this rare human body, I did not worship you.
Now Lord I am left lamenting. Who shall I tell this to?
‘samsar’ ‘samsar’, ko’re miche gelo kal
labha na koilo kichu, ghatilo janjal
My time passed in wordly pursuits, without the slightest gain.
My one and only profit was pure anguish and pain.
kiser samsar ei chayabaji pray
ihate mamata kori’ brtha dina jay
This world has no more meaning than a magical display.
Caught up in it with no purpose, my life passes away.
Hello officer, I seem to be lost.
We seem to have something of a fascination for time machines, if the success of Dr Who, Back to the Future, and numerous other such shows are anything to go by. H.G.Wells started it all off many years ago, and maybe when we do finally work out how to do it, someone could pop back and tell him how well his book, ‘The Time Machine’, is still doing.
Wells sent a man one million years into the future, but if I had a time
I remember back in the sixties when the words ‘take courage’ were the ubiquitous advertising slogan for a beer of the same name. Quite a nifty publicity idea, I suppose, but a few years ago when it was resurrected in a TV campaign it was banned. The censors quite rightly concluded that encouraging us to drink beer to increase our confidence might not be the best example of social responsibility.
Courage means standing up for what we believe to be right. Intoxication, on the other hand, tends to make us blur
When my children were small they pooled their resources one year to purchase for my birthday a fine looking tie pin in the shape of a golf bag and clubs. Actually I’ve never played golf in my life, and as far as ties go, since my schooldays when they were obligatory, I have made a point of avoiding them. Anyway, although the tiepin was of little use to me I was thrilled to receive it, as it was given with love. I still have it safely stored in my very
King Ambarish had a very sinful brother who could not be changed. The pious Ambarisha tried repeatedly without success. His brother, Paparaja, would not stop sinning and simply laughed at Ambarish. One day the saint Narada Muni came to see Ambarish and the king asked him to preach to his brother. “Perhaps, O great one, you can turn his mind.”
But when Narada went to see Paparaja he simply hurled insults at him, so Narada decided to leave. As he was going he said, “Please just take this one piece of
Life today is full of journeys, it seems. Most of us could hardly survive without our cars and think nothing of a fifty or sixty mile trip, a good two day walk in olden days. For many of us, there’s the daily commute which here in London where I live is less of a journey and more of a battle to the near death. Thankfully I only have to go twenty or so miles, but a lot of people nowadays have to commute as much as a hundred miles and
Over the years my idea of victory has changed somewhat. In my younger days, filled with the naïve certainty of youth, I saw myself conquering the world, acquiring vast riches, fame and all that sort of thing. That ambition has been rather tempered by reality, as it tends to be, but thankfully I no longer see world conquest as even a desirable victory.
How I see success depends of course on my values and as a young man material achievements were high up on my list. This tends to be the
God’s incomparable artistry
In the spring a young man’s fancy lightly turns to thoughts of love, as Tennyson so delightfully said. Of course nowadays, bombarded as we are with suggestive images on all sides, it might turn the way of love rather more often than just in spring.
Certainly though, spring is the season of reproduction, when nature renews herself and gives forth of her best. In the Bhagavad Gita, Krishna says, ‘Amongst seasons I am flower bearing spring.’ In other words this is the season when we can most easily