Tuesday, November 13, 2007

Remembering Srila Prabhupad

Today, being Srila Prabhupad's disappearance day from the material world, I dropped a quick visit at the temple before heading out for a program at the University Campus. The temple room was silent, except for the low humming sound coming from a Prabhupad chanting machine and dimly lit with the candles after the Damodara prayers.

I sat before Srila Prabhupad and tried to chant a round so that he would continue to shower the mercy he has been showering on me for the past few months. On my way as I waited for the cab to take me to the University, I was feeling sad that on this occasion, a lot of us couldn't be there in the temple due to other preaching commitments.

Now home from the University Program, as I sorted through my computer, I came across this one picture:
This was taken outside 26th 2nd Avenue on September 15th at a P-Sena Vyasa Puja Celebration there. Here, Amul being hoisted by a few of the other youth devotees opened the shutter that had closed the sign "Matchless Gifts".

This was the place where it all began; the store front from where the seed was planted for one of the biggest, fastest and most prominent spiritual revolution in the 20th century. The reason why I felt this picture was special was because of a very cool underlying meaning to this picture.

As a 2nd generation devotee (well almost!), I always wonder what it could have been to meet Srila Prabhupad. Offlate, I have been watching Yadubar Prabhu and Visaka Mtjs Following Srila Prabhupad collection and each remembrance and memory there makes me want to go back to the 60s and be with Srila Prabhupad, serve him, learn from him, get chastised by him. In Philly recently, hearing Mother Rukmini share some personal memories of Srila Prabhupad, it made me want to go back in time even more.

But then, when I saw this picture, I realised that Srila Prabhupad is still here, very much. He is there in his spiritual sons and daughters, he is there in the books he wrote, he is there in the recordings of lectures, he is there in every page of the Back to Godhead, he is there in every single temple room and he is definitely present in that Matchless Gift Storefront.

The picture to me symbolizes the future. Srila Prabhupad's mission rests on our hands, our shoulders and to revive and keep this glorious teachings of Caitanya Mahaprabhu to go on, we need to re-open those shutters which we have put over the matchless gift which Srila Prabhupad has given us. The only way to reach those shutters is with the help and association of devotee friends, who like you aspire to do that. They say that a picture speaks a 1000 words. Well this picture does.

My first visit to 26th 2nd Av., made me realise how fortunate I was to be given an oppurtunity to be a part of the movement. It also got me closer to trying to fathom the mercy of Srila Prabhupad. It made me value his sacrifises and it showed me my responsibility.

Today, on the occasion of his disappearance day, as I think more; yes a lot of us weren't at the temple, because we were trying our level best to get the message of Bhakti out, to either Yoga enthusiasts at a Yoga Studio, or curious students at the University.

As I try to discover my responsibilty towards the mission and towards serving Srila Prabhupad, I sincerely hope I can do justice to everything and will be able to play a significant role in helping him, Guru Maharaj and other exhalted devotees take the chanting of the Maha Mantra to every town and village.

And I know that every youth in ISKCON desires that and we will strive together to make it possible.

I hope Srila Prabhupad is smiling at all this...

Monday, November 12, 2007

Remembrance Day Prayers

Yesterday, November 11th was the Remembrance day, a day to commemorate the sacrifices of members of the armed forces and of civilians in times of war, especially since the First World War, which ended on this date 89 years back.

Around Canada and many other nations around the world, this day is marked with tributes to the great warriors who have given up their lives for the betterment of their fellow country men. A part of this remembrance is to mark a 2-minute silence in memory of these martyrs.

We were all at one of the devotee's house in the morning for a small prep talk on Leadership for some of the youth at our temple. On our way back at the elevator, one of the devotees mentioned, that today is Remembrance day and we should observe a moment of silence to pray for those souls.

When he said that, my mind first went to the first verse from the Nectar of Instruction:

vāco vegaḿ manasaḥ krodha-vegaḿ

jihvā-vegam udaropastha-vegam

etān vegān yo viṣaheta dhīraḥ

sarvām apīmāḿ pṛthivīḿ sa śiṣyāt

"A sober person who can tolerate the urge to speak, the mind's demands, the actions of anger and the urges of the tongue, belly and genitals is qualified to make disciples all over the world."

In the purport to this verse, Srila Prabhupad comments on "the urges of the tongue" when he says:
"Controlling speech, however, does not mean self-imposed silence (the external process of mauna), as Māyāvādī philosophers think. Silence may appear helpful for some time, but ultimately it proves a failure. The meaning of controlled speech conveyed by Śrīla Rūpa Gosvāmī advocates the positive process of kṛṣṇa-kathā, engaging the speaking process in glorifying the Supreme Lord Śrī Kṛṣṇa."

Keeping Srila Rupa Gosvami's teachings in mind, I wondered, is 2 minutes of silence really what will give respect to these Martyrs? Again, this 2 minute of silence, is our method of identifying with their body, not with their soul. What good will this 2 minutes of silence do for the soul, whose eternal nature is sat-chit-ananda : eternal, full of knowledge and full of bliss.

If it is the souls eternal nature to be happy, we need to reconnect the it with the Supreme Personality of Godhead, who is eternally blissful and who is the primal cause of all causes as described by Lord Bramha in the first verse of the Bramha Samhita.

In order for us to really give respect to these compassionate "souls", who like the kshatriyas, fought to defend their land (maybe not for the right reasons, maybe not even in the right way, but none they less, they are warriors, not spiritual sadly, but warriors), we need to pray to Lord Krishna to help these souls to understand that in their past life they were warriors who saved the land and by doing a good deed, they should new become spiritual warriors, so that they can help together combat the forces of maya in this battlefield of the material world.

And what is the best way to pray for them in this age of Kali?

At a lecture given in London in 73, Srila Prabhupad speaks about the verse in the 12th Canto:

"In the Srimad-Bhagavatam, in another chapter, Twelfth Canto, it is said, kaler dosa-nidhe rajan. These instructions were given by Sukadeva Gosvami to Maharaja Pariksit. So he addressed the king, "My dear king, in this age the faults are like the ocean," kaler dosa-nidhe rajan. Dosa-nidhe. Nidhi means ocean. "There are so many faults in this age that it can be accepted as the ocean of faults." Kaler dosa-nidhe rajan asti hy eko mahan gunah. "There is one great opportunity. Although it is full of faulty things, still there is one hope. That hope is," kirtanad eva krsnasya mukta-sangah param vrajet, "if one simply chants the holy name of Krsna, Hare Krsna, then gradually he becomes purified from the contamination of this age." Kirtanad eva krsnasya mukta-sangah: "He becomes free from the contamination of this age."

Hence, the recommended way for us in this age is by glorifying the Lord, by surrendering unto him. And this is the best form of purification for all of us fallen souls.

Back to my story of Remembrance day, as couple of us walked back home, we took a detour to another devotees house and spent around 2 hours just jamming by singing some beautiful bhajans and the Hare Krishna Maha Mantra.

I think that was the most powerful silence and the most powerful prayer we could offer to the soldiers of the wars.

Tuesday, November 6, 2007

Man is an amazing animal

"Isn't a man an amazing animal? He kills wildlife by the millions in order to protect his domestic animal and their feed. Then he kills domestic animals by the billions and eats them. This in turn kills man by the millions, because eating all those animals leads to degenerative - and fatal - health conditions like heart disease, kidney disease, and cancer. So then man tortures and kills millions more animals to look for cures for these diseases. Elsewhere, millions of other human beings are being killed by hunger and malnutrition because food they could eat is being used to fatten domestic animals.

Meanwhile, some people are dying of sad laughter at the absurdity of

man, who kills so easily and so violently, and once a year sends out
cards praying for "Peace on Earth."

-Preface from Old MacDonalds Factory Farm, by C. David Coates

Friday, November 2, 2007

Greetings from New Remuna Dham

Been in New Remuna Dham (Toronto) for the past 3 years, I have grown and indescribable attachment to Radha Kschira Chora Gopinath :-) ! He is really my Homeboy ;-) !

The following video is a 2-part presentation couple of us devotees put up for Janmashtami to showcase the activities happening at the Radha KschiraChora Gopinath Temple at ISKCON Toronto. Hope you all find the videos enlightening.

Its our humble offering to HDG Srila Prabhupad, who gave our dieties that wonderful name, HH Bhakti Marg Maharaj, our "cool" GBC who has always encouraged us in every endevour, Mother Subuddhi, our temple President who is more of our mother/grand mother taking care of our every single need, whims and fancies.

This is also our offering and dedication to all the fantastic devotees of ISKCON Toronto who have put in hours and hours into conducting all the events that take place here. Its because of their selfless and humble attitude, was this presentation able to be made.

Please enjoy this presentation/s and feel free to drop a line!

Part 1:

Part 2:

Hare Krishna !!