Friday, January 27, 2006

Rare Footage of Srila Bhaktisiddhanta Saraswati Thakur!?

A devotee friend sent this my way. Apparently it is "rare footage" of Srila Bhaktisiddhanta Saraswati Thakur speaking. I suppose it's entirely possible that it is "legit". Does anyone know for sure? I'm not quite sure why I doubt its authenticity. The establishing shots make me a little suspicious though... sure, that looks like the front gate to the Yoga Pitha, and those sure look like the deities on the center altar, that temple spire could be from just about any temple in Mayapur, though. Isn't this the Yoga Pitha temple? Curious.

Friday, January 20, 2006

Ramayana In English Verse

I found this on "The Tree of MyLife" - the blog of Gopal Jiu Publications' Madhavananda Das. It's an excerpt from a translation of the Ramayana into English verse by a British/Christian missionary in India at the beginning of last century. An excerpt from the excerpt:

Then his true name and form demon Ravan displayed;
Sita, seeing and hearing, was deathly afraid;

She replied, as she rallied her courage and will,
“Wretch! My husband is coming! Stand off and stand still!

“You are doomed, demon ruler; you’re now well-nigh dead,
“Like a rabbit that would with a lioness wed.”

Friday, January 06, 2006

Not Essential!?

Last night I was cooking up a little offering, trying to wash some dishes "en route". I must have been in the grips of the mode of passion - not good - cuz' I sliced a nice bit of my thumb while washing one of my new kitchen knives. Extra sharp. Extra ouch. Aside from lots of blood - which made cooking and offering a little more complicated - I didn't think it was such a big deal at the time, but when I woke up for a little transcendental sound vibration this morning the rest of my hand was feeling similarly un-fantastic.

Just to make sure I hadn't damaged an important part of the apparatus I scheduled a doctor's appointment today. Having moved recently I decided to visit the clinic just down the street from my apartment instead of the old one. Same network, different location... different doctor.

I'm not wild about going to the doctor. When I first started using this particular health network a few years ago, I had been feeling pretty out-of-sorts: light-headed, weak, chest pains, etc., and looking like your average 20-something devotee male - read: emaciated - I figured my first visit with my new doctor would include a conversation that started with something like "So, you're a vegetarian..." But I was pleasantly suprised when my new super-nice doctor turned out to be a vegetarian herself, with two under-ten vegetarian kids. Hari-bol.

So, fast forward two years later, new doctor, no longer out-of-sorts, probably still emaciated - today's visit had a few twists as well.

First, the "important" stuff, my "thumb laceration" is not so serious. The doctor - "Jill" - suggested putting a little super-glue on it, because it would help to seal it and because it was basically the same as the medical version but considerably less expensive. Just need to keep it bandaged and it should be fine in a couple days - just in time to chop veggies for the Sunday feast. Also, my visit was FREE OF CHARGE. Another, Hari-bol.

At some point during the visit my doctor noticed the two kavacas I wear around my neck (with mud from Ganga Mata and dust from Govardhana) and started a little conversation with me about religion. She said she was "really curious" about religion lately. She and her husband were raising their two kids Presbyterian, mostly because they wanted them to have a religious background, but didn't think it was fair to be raising them in a tradition that they didn't yet understand themselves.

I told her that I had been raised Catholic but that I had been more attracted to Vaishnavism. I also mentioned to her how I found that a lot of the things I first liked about Krishna consciousness were the same things that I liked about Catholocism - ritual, monotheism, faith in and love for God - but that I had become uninterested in going to church because it seemed like no one really wanted to be there.

She agreed, and went off on a minor anti-Catholic rant. She had also been raised Catholic, but she felt she "couldn't support the institution right now". She mentioned something about not allowing women to be priests, but then qualified herself by saying that maybe that particular detail "wasn't essential". To which I both agree , and disagree. Perhaps that's another post.

At any rate, as she was leaving I gave her a card for the temple and invited her to the Sunday feast saying "if nothing else, it's a delicious free meal. I don't know if you're a vegetarian..." And as I trailed off, and as she walked out the door and down the hall, she replied "Again, not essential." Ouch.

Thus ends my anecdote and begins my rant...

The idea that one's diet is "not essential" to one's spiritual practice is not a very intelligent one. I keep remembering a couple minutes of a Chris Rock routine I caught on tv recently. He was basically ridiculing vegetarians. At one point he said "I don't think God gives a sh@t what I eat". Not much of a punch line, so I'll add my own... Yeah, I'm sure God wouldn't mind if you ate your little brother, or maybe your grandma, right?

To which our two-legged carnivore no doubt replies "It's not the same thing!" True enough. Eating your family members, or your neighbors for that matter, is not the same as eating a pig or a cow that someone else killed and "prepped" for you. But then eating a pig or a cow isn't the same thing as eating a cucumber, is it? You wouldn't dream of eating your dog, would you? Well, what distinguishes fido from flank steak? And while we're at it, be honest, if you were driving down the road and you accidentally ran over a head of lettuce, would you feel quite as bad as if you hit a deer, or ran over someone's cat?

There's just no logic. All prejudices aside a well-trained health professional in this day and age should have some conception of the fact that a meat-based diet is just not as healthy as a vegetarian one.

But I digress, and so I'll go home tonight, boil some pasta, and warm up some of the brocoli-tomato sauce I made last night, and hope that I didn't get any of my thumb in there.

Wednesday, January 04, 2006

One Very Busy Day In Dvaraka

From Nectar of Devotion, Chapter 22 - Qualities of Krishna Further Explained:
When Krishna was living at Dvaraka, demigods like Lord Siva, Lord Brahma, Indra the King of heaven and many others used to come to visit Him. The doorkeeper, who had to manage the entrance of all these demigods, one very busy day said, "My dear Lord Brahma and Lord Siva, please sit down on this bench and wait. My dear Indra, please desist from reading your prayers. This is creating a disturbance. Please wait silently. My dear Varuṇa, please go away. And my dear demigods, do not waste your time uselessly. Krishna is very busy; He cannot see you!"

The Essence Of All Japa Thoughts

The following is from His Holiness Dhanurdhara Swami's journal entry for December 28, 2005:

Absorption in the Absolute Reality, Sri Krishna, is the essence of spiritual advancement.

We voluntarily absorb the mind in something either by our intelligence (we should absorb the mind), or spontaneously by the heart (we want to absorb the mind).

Naturally the mind is more absorbed in things we want to do than we are obligated for.

The key to absorption is thus emotional involvement with the object of our meditation, favorable or even unfavorable.

To increase our focus on the holy name we thus have to come to the platform of attachment (rag), emotional involvement with the holy name.

What to do if we are neophytes, if we have no spontaneous liking for Krishna?

Do we want attachment?


Then we should humbly despair, “I have no attachment.”

One way or another, we must come to the platform of feeling for the holy name.


Bring yourself, in mind, in the presence of an object of your spiritual liking (however shallow that love may be) and pray.

“I have no attachment”

Pray to the holy name.

Pray to the spiritual master.

Envision Sri Vrindavana Dhama or a beloved Deity and despair:

“I have no attachment!”

Wanting to have some attachment is also attachment as a desire for a desire is that desire in its budding stage.

But one way or another come to the platform of the heart for:

Absorption in the holy name is essence of all spiritual advancement and the key to such concentration is some feeling for the object of our meditation.