"Taking care of the children is just as important as doing Deity worship. One service is not more important than another. These children aren't ordinary children. They are Vaikuntha children. They have been sent by Krishna Himself."Read More...
A preacher's task is to care for those in his charge, whatever stage of life they are in. The time of death is yet one more stage calling for brahminical expertise. Here we bring you instructions how to perform a simple ceremony for this occasion.Read More...
Steps for practical application. 1. Arrange seminars on devotee care regularly - preferably having the seminars delivered by those who have actually implemented devotee care. 2. Increase awareness of devotee care by wider circulation of the devotee care newsletter. 3. Display quo. about devotee care on temple notice boards just as quo. about book distribution are prominently displayed. 4. Set up a dedicated team for devotee care with a caring and competent devotee at the helm. 5. Send team members to centers where devotee care is being implemented so that they can learn not only through theory but also through practice, by observing and experiencing how devotee care is actually being implemented. 6. Share inspiring instances of devotee care, in whichever parts of the world, during classes and ishtagoshti. 7. Conduct informal inquiries and formal surveys as required, to find out front the devotee community areas in which devotee care seems CO be lacking, and direct the focus of the devotee care team to those areas. 8. Keep track of the activities of the devotee care team, take inventory periodically and publish the report regularly, at least among the concerned authorities, so that devotee care doesn't remain a talked-about ethereal subject, but becomes an acted-upon tangible reality. Continue reading "Devotee Care – A Pragmatic Vision
Vaisnavism has been manifested in its purest and most wonderful form through the love and teachings of Sri Caitanya Mahaprabhu and His associates. The most beautiful aspect of Lord Caitanya's pastimes is the loving interaction between Him and His devotees, and among the devotees themselves. Although He is the Supreme Personality of Godhead, Lord Caitanya played the role of the devotee just to teach us how to conduct our lives as devotees. In Navadvipa sometimes Lord Caitanya would bow down to His devotees and take the dust from their lotus feet. Sometimes He would wash their clothes with His own hands. Sometimes, on the bank of the Ganges, He would fold their clothes. Sometimes He would bring them clay from the Ganges to use as tilaka. Sometimes He would see devotees carrying loads and He would take the load upon Himself and would carry it. In these and many other ways, Sri Caitanya Mahaprabhu taught by His own example that the highest of all religious principles is the service to the Vaisnavas.
Continue reading "Counselor System – Caring for Every Devotee
The Monk’s Podcast with Radha Gopinath PrabhuRead More...
Transcriber: Suresh Gupta
Question: How can we serve cooperatively with devotees without aggravating mutual conflicts?
Answer: Basically, if we remind ourselves the purpose for which we are practicing bhakti and help each other remember the same then whatever conflicts happen, we can see them in perspective. Conflicts can have various results; it can cause some people to leave bhakti or it can aggravate the internal tensions so much that we do not feel inspired to share bhakti with others at all. Or because of it, people serving together may try to undermine each other’s efforts and pull each other down. All this can happen because we are all sadhakas and human beings with conditionings. That is why, we should periodically remind ourselves about our purpose and ask ourselves, why have I come here?
In my understanding, the Krishna consciousness movement is also like Krishna, in the sense, it is like kalpataru (desire fulfilling tree) which means whatever we want from it, we will get it. If we come here for power, we will get power; if we want prestige, we can get a lot of prestige; if we want conflict, we can get more conflict then we can in material world and if we want controversies, we can get that as well but most importantly, if we want Krishna, then we can get Krishna also.
Srila Prabhupada often said, “ISKCON is my body” but Prabhupada also taught us that we are not our body. It means that there is an institution and there is also the purpose of the institution. Just as soul is different from the body, similarly along with the institution, there is also the essence of the institution, which is the spiritual purposefulness of the devotees. Conflicts maybe unavoidable but that is just because we all are different human beings due to which differences may pop up, but if we keep reminding ourselves of our purpose then before the conflicts become too much, we will look for course correction. This can be done in various ways. Broadly, when we face with problems, we can do three things:
(i) change the situation or try to solve the problem by changing the consensus which can also involve getting people to change.
(ii) change ourselves
(iii) walk away from there. Walking away is not necessarily running away.
The above three options may not be necessarily right or wrong but once we come to the ground level and recognise what our options are in dealing with people who may exasperate us or irritates us, then we may try to change them or change ourselves. Trying to change a person is not something where we should be investing our energy since people can be rigid and are ultimately what they are. Although bhakti process can cause people to change but sometimes, some changes manifest quickly, and some changes take a lot of time.
Broadly speaking, in an institution, we will have relationship with different people who will be at different levels of proximity. As human nature goes, some people will get along and some will not. If some people are important in a project but it is difficult to get along with them then it is best to have clearly defined boundaries. There is a saying, “good fences make good neighbours”. Similarly, if we have well defined boundaries, then the responsibilities can be executed much more smoothly. When people feel that their area of influence is being encroached, then they become hypersensitive especially if there is a situation where no clear senior authority is present, and individuals are more or less at same levels. At that time, having well defined policies is important. Policies are not substitute for human relationships, but policies can minimise the friction which are there in human relationships.
When the five Pandavas got married to Draupadi, Narada Muni came and instructed them on how they should be associating with her. Narada Muni is a sannyasi but he plans for Pandavas who are grihasthas that when one brother is associating with Draupadi, no one else should come in at that time. We may say, why is Narada Muni doing all this, but he tells the story of how there were two undefeatable demons – Sunda and Upasunda and they were both attracted to the same woman Tilottama. Before meeting her, they were undefeatable, but after they met her, they both became attracted to her and fought with each other. The Pandavas were exalted devotees and they were dharmic souls yet Narada Muni gives them this warning and creates the system for them.
Similarly, if we are working with people together on a project then many things have to be shared and it is vital that we have some system by which different people have different responsibilities which have been clearly defined. That way, even if we notice something wrong in someone else’s area of responsibility, we don’t have to necessarily go and correct that. If we have a good rapport and if the problem is big, we can go and give some feedback, but basically, we stay off each other’s turf. That way everybody gets room to grow and people actually feel satisfied. We might say it is the ego that is satisfied, but ultimately, we cannot wish away our ego right now. When people are satisfied then actually relationships can work out much better.
In summary, there are three things. First, everybody should remind themselves repeatedly about their purpose in practising bhakti and even if some complication comes up, then course correction will help us come back on track. Second, ISKCON is like a kalpataru, and it will give us what we are looking for. Hence, even in situations which are filled with conflicts, if we are looking for Krishna in that situation and the other person may be seeing conflict then keeping ourselves purposefully fixed in Krishna, will help us grow in that situation. Third, for dealing with specific issues of conflict basically there are three ways – changing the situation, changing ourselves, walking out of the situation. The way we adopt will differ according to the situation. If there are number of equals working together then we remember that “good fences make good neighbours”. We need to have well defined areas of jurisdictions as per the policies and that can give everyone space for making their contributions which will ultimately help the project to move on.
End of transcription.
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Lord Krsna said to Arjuna, “In all activities just depend upon Me and work always under My protection. In such devotional service, be fully conscious of Me. If you become conscious of Me, you will pass over all the obstacles of conditioned life by My grace. If, however, you do not work in such consciousness but act through false ego, not hearing Me, you will be lost.Read More...
A video by ISKCON Harinam Sankirtan Ministry
First and foremost I would like to take this opportunity to extend my heartfelt gratitude to everyone involved in "International Shravanam Week". It was a monumental task to organize, especially in the current climate. Without the hard work and dedication of everyone on the team, none of this would have been possible.Read More...
Thunder Bay/ Toronto
Last Little Touch
A last little touch of the boreal forest marked the end of my stay in Thunder Bay. The Beaver Meadows Trail takes one through a sweet boreal forest, a forest that occupies so much of Canada, holding a treasure of a huge collection of freshwater. Check out maps of this extraordinary spread of trees, ancient rocks and lakes. People speak of rainforests, such as the Amazon but, as I understand, the boreal bush impacts the globe in a similar, environmental way.
If you are a walker you have to love nature. Even if one begins routine outdoor walks with some apprehension, the atmosphere grows on you, eventually.
After landing at the Toronto airport I had a chance for a short touchdown in our neighborhood park, Ramsden Park. It’s considerably warmer in the southern part of the province. It was 3°C in Thunder Bay in the morning. Upon landing, after a two hour flight, we were greeted by a warm 17°C. Quite a difference.
I was struck by seeing the lineups at the tennis courts. Basketball courts were also occupied. Before long the hockey rink will be filled up with ice. I can hear the skates hissing along already. It’s actually a kind of grind sound created by the blades of the skates biting into the ice. I can also hear the hockey puck slamming against the rink’s wall.
We do have a fall season yet to relish. It is colours, smells and no mosquitoes that I look forward to. There’ll be two months of such glory.
While the park is busy with sports abound, it would be nice to see a tad more of spiritual practices taking place. It is somewhat rare.
May the Source be with you!
1 km (In Toronto)
Thunder Bay, Ontario
By the Falls and Friends
It has been relaxing here for me, and also for Ananda, who came from Regina. Both of us are getting some walking in—a piece of trail here or there. A treat was to get to Kakabeka Falls, which translates as “steep cliffs.” That they are. It’s always inspiring to be at this location, where I marvel at the cascading Kaministiquia River.
A twenty-five minute walking trail is connected to the falls, as an added feature. A sweet smelling boreal forest cuts the high winds of the day and makes you appreciate trees evermore.
A second crack at walking was at Fort William’s International Friendship Garden, where communities who came as immigrants all settled in the area and contributed some icon to represent their country. There is Slovenia, Lithuania, Finland, Poland, China, India, Netherlands and so many more. The area welcomed people here from around the world, who then worked hard to establish themselves. It puts me to shame. My meager walking today is so little compared to what people have done to ground themselves into their new home at Lake Superior.
There’s always interactions with people. Two young girls, with their granddad, wanted to know about the orange colour, about the monastic lifestyle, etc. Ananda, Prem and I pitched-in to explain and clarify the foundation of a spiritual life. They were young, just ready to prepare for going to a French-immersion school two days from now. I hope they learn their French and also about rivers, waterfalls, trees and trails.
May the Source be with you!
Thunder Bay, Ontario
Drench and Dry
Nature was conjuring up a storm of water. Ominous clouds were ever present in the sky and lightning made its periodic flash, accompanied by the rumble of thunder. Hey, that’s the name of this place!
It was at this time, early afternoon, that I began my mere two kilometre walk (my physiotherapist suggested I reduce daily treks and work on stretches to counteract stiffness). In any event, I decided to go at strides at a critical hour of nature. I don’t mind the reminder to be humble. The elements can do that perfectly.
It was considered that the second day of the Festival of India would be rained-out. Just as I turned the corner at May Street, for what is called “The Colosseum”, H2O, in mass, came down. The moisture hit me but I was just one minute shy of being fully-drenched.
Like a miracle, the rain stopped, eventually. At 4 pm, the scheduled time for this show’s beginning, we were on target. The stage had been cleared of water. Though soggy, the entertainers did their thing and motorist, with an average of two or three passengers per vehicle, began to punctuate the parking lot, armed with purchased bags of colour.
Regular colour throws happened between stage items. It was a redeeming display.
I met a local guy, middle-aged, who was part of the infantry in the Bosnian War. He was curious and told of his spiritual experiences when he was severely bedridden with cancer some time ago. This was a personal revelation. It was nice to see him standing there watching the show with his five-year-old daughter. We had a conversation that lasted to practically the end of the show, when Ananda and I wrapped up on stage with drum, movement and mantra.
May the Source be with you!
It is very easy to become a "sage on the stage" but difficult to become a "guide by the side". We go in the "sage on the stage" mode when it comes to guiding our "humble junior" devotees who look up to us as an advanced Vaisnava, but many times these "humble junior" devotees, because of their strong previous lifetime advancement and sincerity, go past us and we find ourselves in the mesh and mess of our previous conditioning—but are still forced to act as "sage on the stage", putting up a Paundraka-like facade of advancement. Continue reading "Sage on the Stage or Guide by the Side?
Arcana as Yoga in the Vaishnava traditionRead More...
The Global Devotee Care Directorate is pleased to announce their next live conversation with Partha Das and Uttama Dasi on Devotee care in Grihastha Ashram.Read More...
When Krsna and Balarama offered Their teacher, Sandipani Muni, anything he desired, he asked for the return of his son, who had drowned in the ocean at Prabhasa. The two Lords at once traveled there on Their chariot and ordered the ocean to return Their guru’s son.Read More...
Darshan of the beautiful deities and devotees of the New York Iskcon TempleRead More...
1. Recognition of God — The Supreme Owner. Act with the understanding that everything belongs to God. At best, we are careful stewards of God's resources, energies and talents. At worst, we are deluded and become cheaters and thieves who claim another's property as our own.Read More...
Shastrakrit Das: I was at a supermarket aisle and this nice young man passes by me, I just said hello. He goes “where have you been man? I have been looking for you!“ I thought he had mistaken me for someone else. He goes “no you, you gave me a Bhagavad Gita last year and I read it twice already, I want to come and chant with you guys” I gave him a card & sure enough he came today for lunch with his wonderful girlfriend, we spoke for a while and they took home a full set of Bhagavatam home. Prasadam + book!
Krishna Conscious family life is consistent with the teachings and example of Srila Prabhupada, which must be applied with consideration of time, place and circumstance. In the field of grihastha life, one should take into account the local culture with-out compromising Srila Prabhupada's teachings. One should not attempt to simply transpose practices from one culture to another without understanding the principles and values. underpinning them. Continue reading "The 12 Principles and Values of Krishna Conscious Family Life
The life of the Krsna conscious society is nourished by these six types of loving exchange among the members. —Upadesamrta Provide pre- and post-marital counseling either done by trained devotees or through recommending specific people or organizations • At a certain level of community size, create a team of mature, successful grhastha trained to give premarital and post-marital counseling as well as giving help in finding spouses for devotees. Continue reading "Social Care for Vaishnavas
International Shravanam WeekRead More...
Srila Prabhupada: My first concern is that my books shall be published and distributed profusely all over the world. Practically, books are the basis of our Movement. Without our books, our preaching will have no effect. So I am so much engladdened that you are enthusiastic to please me in this way, and that you are very determined to continue translating profusely. If you can increase translating more and more, that will advance you more and more in spiritual life. Krishna will give you all help. Continue reading "(Interview) with H.G. Praghosa Prabhu: Books are the Basis
The essence of the complete Vedic scriptures carefully handed down through the disciplic succession, has become ever so nectarean, being touched by Srila Prabhupada’s own lips. Prabhupada said:
“The books are just like sugar doll. Anywhere touch – it is sweet.”
Besides attending Srimad-Bhagavatam class every day, Srila Prabhupada wanted reading to be an essential part of every devotee’s daily sādhana. He wrote:
“All of my students should read our books very diligently at least one or two hours daily and try to understand the subject matter from varieties of angles.”
ISKCON’s ministry of education has embarked on an initiative called “Books are the Basis” – an initiative to encourage devotees all over the world renew their commitment to reading Srila Prabhupada’s books regularly.
The Ministry has branded this Srila Prabhupada’s Book Reading Week as the Sravanam Week.
The Ministry of Education acknowledges that devotees face several challenges in reading Srila Prabhupada books, such as lack of time, taste, etc. To address such concerns and enthuse the devotees to wholeheartedly take to reading, the ministry has arranged resources for ISKCON leaders to celebrate this festival in their respective centers.
There will be inspirational videos, webinar on reading habits, live interviews with ISKCON leaders, and much more. This will be made available through social media and the ministry website www.ISKCONeducation.org.
>Once, in the company of her maidservants, Queen Rukmini was personally serving her husband, Lord Krsna, by fanning Him as He relaxed on her bed. Rukmini’s quarters were extremely beautiful, boasting a canopy hung with brilliant strings of pearls, as well as effulgent jewels serving as lamps.Read More...
(Kadamba Kanana Swami, 24 September 2017, Camp de Masque, Mauritius, Sunday Program Lecture)
Remember our favourite song? What is the favourite song in the Hare Krsna movement?
It is the prasadam prayers.
sarira avidya-jal, jodendriya tahe kal,
jive phele vishaya-sagore
ta’ra madhye jihva ati, lobhamoy sudurmati,
ta’ke jeta kathina samsare
Very ecstatic! Most popular song in all of ISKCON. Without a doubt, number one (laughter). So if you allow me to translate it, these words say, “O Lord, this material body is a place of ignorance, and the senses are a network, leading to death …” So we are all very happy singing these words every time, just before taking prasadam. It is funny really, when you know the translation. But these words are a reminder that it is by the mercy of Sri Sri Gaura Nitai, somehow or other, we can escape the senses. Because when all these senses are engaged in serving Krsna, and glorifying Krsna, and discovering Krsna’s unlimited qualities – then, we begin to love Krsna. It is inevitable!
His Grace Mathura prabhu joined ISKCON in the early eighties in PH and served in different capacities as temple commander, temple president, a good Sankirtan devotee etc. He was a sergeant in the Nigerian Air force when he joined. Diving headlong into Krishna Consciousness, he had assured his siblings that he was doing this for their own interest and benefit.Read More...
Srila Prabhupada: Books are the basis of our Movement. Whatever appreciation we are getting on account of our books, it is because we are following the path chalked out by exalted devotees. Now these beautiful books have become the firm basis for our movement and any intelligent person in any part of the world cannot but fail to admire them. Continue reading "(Interview) with H.G. Govardhan Prabhu: Books are the Basis (video)
This is a second podcast with HG Govinda Prabhu, who is an exponent of Indian culture through the wisdom of Mahabharata, Ramayana and Bhagavatam. He has an experience of almost 30 years in Vedic education and counseling and travels extensively all over the world sharing his reflective knowledge and wisdom. Whether counseling children, guiding families or mentoring corporate and social leaders his profound insights are always practical, comprehensible and relevant to all cross-sections of the societyRead More...
Maharaj was an amazingly good actor. When we did our course together in Vrindavana, we did some skits. We never rehearsed them, only discussed how the skit should go. Those who attended that class in 1993 may remember the skit, “Prabhupada’s Pizza Palace.” We played incompetent temple leaders who were going to take money destined for the BBT and use that money to open a pizza restaurant (one leader loved pizza and had the crazy idea that the world would become Krishna conscious through pizza). I was shocked how well Maharaja played his part. I thought I was a pretty good actor because I studied acting in college, but Maharaj was in another league. In fact, he was so funny that I couldn’t keep a straight face during the skit. Continue reading "What Gunagrahi Maharaja Taught Me That He Didn’t Know He Taught Me