Friday, April 28, 2006


This movie is showing here in Hartford this weekend. At first it struck me as yet another addition to the recent surge of new-agey impersonalist feel-good propaganda that seems to be popping up everywhere recently. On closer inspection I discovered that it features an interview with a certain "B.T. Swami".

You can watch three previews for the film on their website, two of which briefly feature His Holiness Bhakti Tirtha Swami. In the first preview Maharaja is awkwardly injected into a very crafty and unsettling bit of editing. Taken on its own, his soundbite is realtively noncommital - "fear is like a plague, it's like a disease, and it has its way to infiltrate people's minds" - but taken alongside the barrage of soundbites, it is clearly chosen to give the viewer a distinct impression if not message, as is the rest of the trailer. That impression is nothing new, this is standard fare for the new-age set: no one can really definitively know anything about spiritual reality, there is no conclusive truth, religion is bad, individuals are never to blame, God (or should I say god?) is a vague and indescribable warm fuzzy energy - more or less what you would expect from a film called "One". In the second preview, there are two silent images of Maharaja. In one he appears to be preparing for his interview. In the other, he is shown in a still photo with the filmmakers, flashing that classic radiant smile.

I don't know what to say about this, especially before seeing the film. Since the screening this weekend is $10 a pop, and since I'll most likley be out-of-town anyway, I think I'll wait for the DVD. At this point I only know two things: seeing Bhakti Tirtha Swami grinning ear-to-ear like that still gives me a little jolt of ananda, and that the whole talking-soft-and-saying-nothing thing dissapoints me to no end, but always makes me grateful for the True wisdom contained in Srila Prabhupada's books.

P.S. You might notice a new moniker down there. Much to share about that, but I'd like to get my hands on some pictures first. Effusive post about my recent initiation ceremony coming soon...

Tuesday, April 11, 2006

Devotees Appear In All Shapes, Sizes, and Species

I'm sure most of you have heard by now, but I feel compelled to say that Gulab Kali, Sri Dham Mayapur's famous devotee elephant, left her body recently. She was suffering from a foot infection that she was ultimately unable to recover from. Read about the details in this series of posts on Vaishnava Blog Feeds: post 1, post 2, post 3, post 4. There are lots of pictures included, courtesy of Her Grace Vindavan Lila Devi Dasi.

Also, check out the sweet reminiscences of His Grace Vipramukhya Dasa, who had a very special relationship with Gulab. There are some nice pictures of the elephant procession on the Sri Dham Mayapur website as well.

The last time I was in Mayapur I brought Gulab a healthy bunch of bananas, thinking it would be a respectable offering. When I held them out to her, she immediately snatched them from my hands with her trunk and popped the entire bunch into her mouth, seeming to swallow it whole. Perhaps if I had thought about it a little longer I would have realized that offering eight or ten bananas to an elephant is a little like giving someone a single grape and expecting them to be satisfied. As soon as she had devoured my meager offering, Gulab swung her trunk behind me sniffing at my backpack in hopes of something more substantial.

While reading the updates on Gulab's passing I found myself quite moved. It is remarkable that devotees can show so much compassion for living entities of all shapes and sizes - after all, we are all spirit souls, regardless of the material bodies in which we happen to reside. However, the devotees glorifications and sincere service to Gulab Kali goes well beyond "panditah sama-darsinah". Gulab was clearly a very special soul. Not only was she a Dhamavasi - a resident of the transcendental abode of Lord Caitanya - she performed direct and intimate service to Sri Sri Radha-Madhava by personally carrying Their Lordships on her back during Sri Dhama Mayapur's weekly elephant procession.

Gulab Kali ki jaya!

My Belated Rama Navami Post

I have been almost unbearably busy as of late - preparing for my upcoming initiation, alongside with work, school, and daily sadhana - so I've missed a few opportunities for topical posts of various sorts. On Rama Navami I remembered something I'd seen a while back, but never closely investigated.

The picture below is a NASA satellite photo of Lord Ramacandra's bridge to Lanka! Read the informative wikipedia article here, and follow the links. I for one, what with my skeptical conditioned intelligence, find it heartening to see clear evidence that Lord Rama was an "historical personality", as well as the Supreme Personality of Godhead.