miércoles, 23 de junio de 2010

Kirtans in Oxford, UK: Kirtan Mellows

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"Planet ISKCON" - 28 new articles

  1. ISKCON Melbourne, AU: New Link to Hare Krishna Valley Webpage
  2. H.H. Bhaktimarg Swami: Sunday, March 14th, 2010
  3. H.H. Bhaktimarg Swami: Thursday, March 11th, 2010
  4. ISKCON Toronto, Canada: Gaura Purnima & Holi Festivies Doused With Colour!
  5. HH. Satsvarupa das Goswami: 377
  6. HH. Satsvarupa das Goswami: Logan Airport '71
  7. HH. Satsvarupa das Goswami: Krishna is Spiritual
  8. HH. Satsvarupa das Goswami: Enthusiasm for Outdoor Kirtana
  9. Shalagram das, Dallas, TX, USA: Community Garden Meeting results
  10. ISKCON Toronto, Canada: Snapshots of the Spirtual Visit of Vaisesika das
  11. H.H. Bhaktimarg Swami: Saturday, March 13th, 2010
  12. Rupa Madhurya das, TX, USA: Lecture - Prahladananda Swami - Bhagavad Gita 7.28
  13. H.H. Bhaktimarg Swami: Monday, March 8th, 2010
  14. Srila Prabhupada's Letters
  15. Srila Prabhupada's Letters
  16. Srila Prabhupada's Letters
  17. Srila Prabhupada's Letters
  18. Srila Prabhupada's Letters
  19. Srila Prabhupada's Letters
  20. Srila Prabhupada's Letters
  21. Srila Prabhupada's Letters
  22. Kirtans in Oxford, UK: Kirtan Mellows.
  23. Yoga of Ecology, Bhakta Chris, USA: Indian Village May Hold Key To Beating Dementia
  24. Kurma dasa, AU: Gone to India
  25. Dandavats.com: Public Phone Call-In for Devotees
  26. Dandavats.com: Siksa-Diksa True Then, True Now, True Tomorrow
  27. Japa Group: The Internal Or Spiritual Energy
  28. Kaunteya das, Mayapura: New Generations – New Strategies
  29. More Recent Articles
  30. Search Planet ISKCON

ISKCON Melbourne, AU: New Link to Hare Krishna Valley Webpage

Our homepage now has a permanent link to Hare Krishna Valley's website.

You can find it at the left-hand side of this page under Navigation.

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H.H. Bhaktimarg Swami: Sunday, March 14th, 2010


Ottawa, Ontario

My antsy nature led me to Ottawa, a five hour drive from Toronto. My generous driver was Sahil, a young man from our community. The other passenger was Yajna, a monk soon to get married. Yajna insisted on the scenic route as we had a choice. "I'm with you. Highway 7 it is."

Before departing for the journey, I made a point of at least planting my feet on the ground through walking a 45 minute stretch to counteract the negative effect of sitting for so long.

Once we had arrived at the Krishna Centre on Somerset St. I was asked to speak from verse 18:64 of the Bhagavad-gita regarding the ultimate meditation. Chanting preceded and followed the talk.

For me personally, a highlight of the day, during the drive over, was a serious reading of a book by Lokanatha Swami entitled "Samskrtoccaronam – A Comprehensive Guide to Sanskrit Pronunciation." This is a new publication and worth exploring. After all, don't we all need to improve on pronunciation? It's a beautiful language, and when heard and chanted, enhances your spiritual life. A short excerpt is as follows:

"Om kara (aum) starts from the kantha (throat), resounds on the murdhanya (palate), and ends with the osthya (lips) closed. Similarly, hare krsna and hare rama both begin with "ha" in the throat, resonate "krs" and "ra" at the palate, and end with "na" at the dantya (teeth) or "ma" with closed lips.

Sanskrit is a precise language, which needs to be very attentively articulated."

Those of us who use Sanskrit in our day may not end up being super precise in pronunciation, but we can certainly improve ourselves in the usage of this root of many European languages.

3 KM

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H.H. Bhaktimarg Swami: Thursday, March 11th, 2010

Again The Friend

Toronto, Ontario

As she pulled out of the driveway at dusk on Cottingham St. I happened to be there.

"Is this the Big Chief Himself?" she remarked after rolling down the window. I couldn't make out who it was at first. It was dusk as I said, but I responded, "Well, I'm just a servant of everyone." As I inched forward I could make out her image. It was my nurse of a year ago who made a daily visit over a foot infection I contracted from a dead catfish. It was she who mentioned on one visit that she had a friend who took to the famous Santiago pilgrimage in Spain. "That friend came out a different person" she said, validating the practice of sacred walking.

In any event, it was a friendly exchange. She always came to visit me with a pleasant demeanour which is a great qualification for a care-giver. Her remark about the "Big Chief", referring to my "Maharaja"-ness (an honorific address given to a senior monk) was her way of breaking ice. She is expert with people. For me, she reaffirmed the need to give warmth to others. You can learn something from anyone. Everyone whose path you cross has something to offer you. Even the lesson of detachment comes from meeting someone who is obnoxious, for example.

By providence I met my friend as she came out of a driveway (not hers, but a patient's) to be reminded how kind a human should be. She deals with a lot. When she pokes a needle into someone's arm the patient says "ouch" and sometimes a much stronger four-lettered word. So she told me. She has to smile through it all.

My friend admired my new pair of crocs (a gift). "Oh, fleece-lined crocs? How nifty!"

"Please come to our centre for some vegetarian food" was my invitation.

"I drive by your temple all the time and I think about your food."

I encouraged this friend to come to eat food and not just think food.

I hope to meet her again because she's kind.

10 KM

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ISKCON Toronto, Canada: Gaura Purnima & Holi Festivies Doused With Colour!

Sunday, February 28th marked Gaura-Purnima, the appearance anniversary of Caitanya Mahaprabhu. Caitanya Mahaprabhu, who is non different from Krishna, propagated the congregational chanting of the Hare Krishna Maha Mantra over 500 years ago.

Festivites began in the early hours of the morning with a stalwart group of spiritualists gathering to begin the day with Mangala Arati the first worship ceremony on this auspicious day. The morning program was highlighted with Deity greetings, where the Deities were unveiled in Their brand new stunning gold outfit. Click
HERE for Gaura Purnima Deity pictures.

The festivities continued in the evening with an ecstatic 6pm arati led by Krsnadas Kaviraj das. After the arati, suddenly the temple room went pitch black. As devotees looked around to see what was going on, a voice could be heard, narrating the story of Prahlada Maharaj, the devoted prince tortured by his father, Hiranyakashipu. Hiranyakashipu tried to torture Prahlad Maharaj in many ways. One such way was by making him sit on a pyre of fire with Holika, a demon who had the power not to get harmed by fire. However, due to Prahalad Maharaj's devotion to the Lord, he was saved and Holika was consumed by the fire. As the narration spoke about Holika being burnt alive the pillars on the balcony of the temple room were illuminated with yellow light and began to flicker with flames. This story, is one of the reasons why Holi is celebrated and since Holi falls on the same day as Gaura-Purnima, the entire festival had a theme of colour.

Following this, the entire temple room was bathed in red lights as the pillars in the temple room displayed annimations accompanied with narrations that depicted how Caitanya Mahaprabhu appeared to help spread the chanting of the holy name. This was a prelude to a wonderful class given by Krsnadas Kaviraja das on the early pastimes of Caitanya Mahaprabhu. The temple room was now engulfed in green light which faded into blue as devotees were transported back to the lush green lands of Mayapur in West Bengal, India. The Sunday School Kids performed a short play glorifying Caitanya Mahaprabhu's compassion which was not just limited to human beings but to animals also. This endearing performance by the future of ISKCON Toronto received a thunderous applause!

Following the drama, the temple room was illuminated in multi-coloured lights leading into the grand abhisheka, a bathing ceremony of the deities of Caitanya Mahaprabhu and his eternal associate, Nityananda Prabhu. As opulent items such as honey, milk, ghee were being poured on the deities, ecstatic kirtan was being led by Dhira Grahi das and had devotees in bliss! The bliss continued with more ecstatic kirtan led by Satyananda Krishna das during 8pm arati and had every one in the temple room dancing!

What a glorious way to end the festival, by chanting the holy names of the Lord, just as Lord Caitanya predicted - Every town and village!

View the slideshow of the festivites below:

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HH. Satsvarupa das Goswami: 377

4:12 A.M.

It was a difficult night for headaches, waking up at 9 o'clock and taking medicine and then waking up at 2:30 and having to take medicine again. But the headaches were subdued, and I began my chanting. I've chanted ten rounds so far. I've been guilty of the offense of chanting to get them done, chanting as quickly as possible. I'm trying to catch up. That should never be done at the cost of quality. Quality is the top priority, not speed. But one has to get one's rounds done also. I'm still a little shell-shocked from the headaches, and that is not helping me to concentrate and put my full devotion into the utterance of the syllables. But my mind is not wandering, it is just limping. I am a handicapped chanter, and I trust that Krishna sees I'm trying to be sincere and doing the best I can under difficult circumstances.

Chanting with pain,
still there is gain
because the holy names
are absolute.
As long as you try
earnestly with your
tongue, teeth and
trying with your mind
you are in touch
with Krishna, the divine.
In the back of my
mind and at the seat of my
affections, I turn to
Him, the Nama Prabhu
and plead for
acceptance despite
my obstacles. I
depend on Krishna's
and at the same time
make my effort in tapasya.

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HH. Satsvarupa das Goswami: Logan Airport '71

Prabhupada Smaranam

Kirtana greeting Srila Prabhupada

ACBSP in airport

These are pictures of a jolly procession of Prabhupada and his disciples at Logan Airport, Boston. It is July 1971, and His Divine Grace is leaving Boston to catch a plane to New York. As usual, the happy Hare Krishnas are oblivious to being in public, adoring their spiritual master and loudly singing the Hare Krishna mantra. Prabhupada is walking at a sprightly pace, with long flower garlands, orange socks and black slippers. He is like a Pied Piper leading us away from the material world and are happily following him as far as he will lead us. On his left, Drstadyumna and Sumati Dasi are carrying a large seat for him to sit on when he reaches the final airport gate where we can sit at his feet and share some last moments. To his left, his traveling secretary, Aravinda Dasa is carrying packages for the plane. An Indian lady, a congregational member, is along for the walk. Tall Kirtiraja is looming over Prabhupada's head, and I am playing clanging karatalas. For those who recognize the devotees, Patita Pavana, Samba, Rupanuga, Svarupa are also in the picture and a causal friend of the temple, dressed in black. We were sitting in a waiting area quietly and suddenly one of the devotees started a kirtana, then his plane was called and then we all began our merry march. Prabhupada doesn't seem to mind it a bit, is not embarrassed, but likes the spreading of the holy name in a public place. We would probably never attempt such a tumultuous kirtana at Logan Airport if Prabhupada hadn't been present. He allowed you to break barriers and take chances. I remember it was late morning, and when we reached the end of the corridor we shared sweet moments with him before his plane was called. After he left, my wife told me I should have gone to New York with Prabhupada, it was such a rare opportunity to spend time with one's spiritual master. But he had just installed Radha-Krishna Deities and initiated about twenty devotees, and I felt I had a responsibility to stay in my prabhu-datta-desa and serve him there.

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HH. Satsvarupa das Goswami: Krishna is Spiritual


Krishna is spiritual.
He is the king of spiritual.
Whatever He does is
spiritual, even stealing
butter or teasing the gopis.

He is the topmost person
of all personalities, the most
charming and powerful and
wise. He is the best at

Radha is the most beautiful
consort and She belongs to
Krishna. He has the best of
everything. But He is the
most renounced. He wants
to share all His opulence
with His parts and parcels.

He possesses the best names
and the greatest fame.
He is the all attractive.
People who reject Krishna
are doomed to hellish
repetition of birth and

The devotees of the Lord
work to bring souls to His
lotus feet which is the
only safety in this precarious
world. The Lord is very
pleased with them and
gives them a place in
His pastimes.

Krishna makes the sweetest
music on His flute.
The sound bewilders
all creatures and charms
them. They dance to
His music and fall
in swoons of ecstasy,
especially the gopis.

I am just a lowly student
devotee of Krishna but even
I love Him. He has attracted me
through His pure devotee, Srila Prabhupada
who led us in kirtana
of His holy names.

I am Krishna's servant and
wish I could love Him
more than I do. I am
saddened by my lowly
status in His entourage.

I pray to be uplifted to
feel more dearly how
much He loves me and
how much He means to

It is my topmost desire,
to be closer to Krishna
and His parisads and
to rejoice in their sports
and to work in His
mission in this world
to bring souls back to

Can I help myself?
Can I strive more strenuously?
I wish for that both
day and night.
I wish upon that star.

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HH. Satsvarupa das Goswami: Enthusiasm for Outdoor Kirtana

Free write

A group of devotees chanting ecstatically in the park.

Svarupa on the left and Hrdayananda on the right playing mrdanga in the park with an motionless man standing around watching.

The difference between the chanters and the onlookers! The chanters are completely venting their emotions, dancing, singing, playing our musical instruments. The onlookers are emotionless, immobile and projecting a look as if they are beholding freaks, fanatics. I think the larger group photo was taken outside the 42nd Street library in Manhattan and the smaller group photo was taken in Cambridge Square Park on a Sunday, both in1969. The devotees had great enthusiasm for outdoor kirtana and singing at the top of their lungs for hours. How are they different from the onlookers? They have been touched by the holy name. Lord Caitanya recommended the chanting and people responded to Him in great numbers. With Prabhupada it began again. Proclaiming that God was great. Singing His holy names. And as Chand Kazi tried to stop Lord Caitanya, the city police tried to stop them in the 1960's and 70's. Disturbing the peace. Stop or you'll be arrested. They didn't stop. Their spiritual master advised them to stay and chant even if they were asked to stop. In some places the police got tired of arresting them and left them alone. Or they gave them permission. Over the years the devotees started going out less. More organized festivals on stages. Book distribution became the priority. Singing groups once a week. 24-hour kirtana in the temple in Vrndavana. Once a day around the Mayapura campus. The times they are a'changin'.

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Shalagram das, Dallas, TX, USA: Community Garden Meeting results

Thank you to everyone who came to the meeting! I know some were not able to attend. Everyone watched a video on Square Foot Gardening, practiced the spacing methods in several small boxes of sand, and learned how to use a refractometer by testing the Brix levels of some apples and carrots. In fact, someone bought [...]

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ISKCON Toronto, Canada: Snapshots of the Spirtual Visit of Vaisesika das

A look at Vaisesika das' sublime visit this week to our Toronto temple through the eyes of a camera lens!

Vaisesika das leading the Incredible "Kirtan Night" with many different bhajans!

Going door-to-door with a group of devotees to share Krishna Consciousness and goodwill.

Meanwhile Bhaktimarga Swami leading a joyful kirtan at Yonge and Queen.

The transcendence slicing though the mundane.

During Sunday Feast, Vaisesika das lead a powerful two-hour kirtan at 8:00pm! Devotees could not help but be moved by the euphoric sounds of the kirtan!
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H.H. Bhaktimarg Swami: Saturday, March 13th, 2010

Bravery amongst the Monks and Devotees

Downtown - Toronto, Ontario

Nasty might be the best way to describe the weather of this day. It was overcast, cold rain with wind whipping around corners of buildings. Our group of chanters took shelter of some awnings anchored off The Bay building, a popular shopping store. The public rather liked the chanting and to some extent expressed their approval of our bravery in doing what we were doing. I had the privilege to lead in the chanting.

One of our girls, Shyama-Mohini, demonstrated her loving boldness by approaching cab drivers that would naturally stop in front of The Bay. Cab drivers are one group of career people who are rather receptive to listen to difficult concepts.

Taking the lead of a second party of chanting promoters was our guest, Vaisesika from San Jose. He and seven other troupers, if you will, entered a lower income bracket building on this dreary day and went door to door. The intent was to show a BBT book about spiritual philosophy. One elderly Vietnamese women courageously opened her door only to be greeted by 8 people with tall 6' 2" Vaisesika as the alpha male determined to deliver a smile and behind it a book of such value that gold cannot buy. She took their visit as a blessing and accepted the book followed by her donation.

After sometime Vaisesika's party merged with ours for additional mantra power. When it came time to disperse I decided to walk back to get some daily exercise in. It became a contemplation time so I reflected on the topic of boldness, an issue Vaisesika brought up over breakfast. It was a relief to hear that in our ashram in San Diego a determined Mahatattva, a monk also of tall stature discourages the use of words like "lord", "sin" and "preach" in formal talks. There are other words on his list.

For years I have cowered at the word "preach" as a part of a discourse and when the words comes up at a GM meeting I feel like running out of the room ( I just may threaten to do so in the future). Why? Well it's so terribly Victorian old school dated evangelically fanatical and condescending. The word "Lord" an adjective to denote an honorific title is not worthy of someone with a status like Krishna. Here again you have a word which implies something imperialistic. It may be a word that worked 100 years ago but it "ain't" working anymore (pardon my English).

I admire the tall monk from San Diego for his boldness in boycotting such obsolete terms in his ashram. Boldness had come to my thoughts. And then I thought of our guru, Srila Prabhupada and his bravery in taking the risk of a sea-sickeness journey at a prime 70 years of age.

That's inspiring! It's all bravery!

4 KM

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Rupa Madhurya das, TX, USA: Lecture - Prahladananda Swami - Bhagavad Gita 7.28

Lecture on Bhagavad Gita, Capter 7, Text 28 by Prahladananda Swami.

Dallas, TX


Persons who have acted piously in previous lives and in this life and whose sinful actions are completely eradicated are freed from the dualities of delusion, and they engage themselves in My service with determination.


Those eligible for elevation to the transcendental position are mentioned in this verse. For those who are sinful, atheistic, foolish and deceitful, it is very difficult to transcend the duality of desire and hate. Only those who have passed their lives in practicing the regulative principles of religion, who have acted piously and who have conquered sinful reactions can accept devotional service and gradually rise to the pure knowledge of the Supreme Personality of Godhead. Then, gradually, they can meditate in trance on the Supreme Personality of Godhead. That is the process of being situated on the spiritual platform. This elevation is possible in Krishna consciousness in the association of pure devotees, for in the association of great devotees one can be delivered from delusion.

It is stated in the Srimad-Bhagavatam (5.5.2) that if one actually wants to be liberated he must render service to the devotees (mahat-sevam dvaram ahur vimukteh); but one who associates with materialistic people is on the path leading to the darkest region of existence (tamo-dvaram yoshitam sangi-sangam). All the devotees of the Lord traverse this earth just to recover the conditioned souls from their delusion. The impersonalists do not know that forgetting their constitutional position as subordinate to the Supreme Lord is the greatest violation of God's law. Unless one is reinstated in his own constitutional position, it is not possible to understand the Supreme Personality or to be fully engaged in His transcendental loving service with determination.

Download: 2009-12-01 - Prahladananda Swami - SB 8.22.1-2.mp3
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H.H. Bhaktimarg Swami: Monday, March 8th, 2010

What the Soil Could Do

Toronto, Ontario

Daruka from Winnipeg knows me too well. He was off to Union Station on foot, a good 45 minute walk. There he would catch a train for Ottawa. He invited me to accompany him. It's an honour to walk almost anywhere. If I was given an offer for a ride I would feel less privileged. Here, Daruka, who drove my support vehicle in the summer of 2008, wanted some company. Dwija, our first class monk from the ashram, also came along.

There was not particularly great scenery to write about. It was still dark. We cut through Queens's Park, one of the forested areas our guru, Srila Prabhupada, ventured through one morning in either '75 or '76. That's rather special. The only other thing to get a little bit excited about was the CN Tower in the distance. It glows from pink, to red, to green. In the daytime a person from its peak will see 90% of the best soil for growing anywhere. Only problem is that most of it is accounted for and covered over with concrete. This is the urban reality of today. In any event, Daruka just wanted some association and I was happy to comply.

Daruka went off. Then Vyapaka came in. He arrived from the States. He said that the economy is bad. So we have heard. I mentioned to him that perhaps Detroit, disheveled as it is, should be ploughed under and the land returned to the farmers. Vyapaka, who is an agriculturist, suggested Toronto could do that too, implying that it's got the quality soil.

Okay! Let's redo the Great Lakes region. It needs an over-haul. But who is ready for urban agriculture in North America? Is there anyone ready to go the way of Krishna and herd animal and see that the grains will grow and be harvested? Are we ready for good local food?

There is a Whole Foods store, a branch of this popular chain food organic outlet, that Dwija and I passed by. It's a mere 5 minutes from our temple. They have good natural food but it's not local. That's sad!

Spring is in the air and you can start to envision the potential growth of plants beyond concrete zones. Will edible plants and people ever be intermingled or will they always be distances apart?

7 KM

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Srila Prabhupada's Letters

1966 March 16:
"Dashami. No letter received. In the evening there was meeting. The attendance was three. Joan was kind enough to get my books sixteen sets from Paragon Book Gallery. The books are brought and kept in stock. No expenditure. Income $3.00 by contribution."
Prabhupada Letters :: 1966

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Srila Prabhupada's Letters

1969 March 16: "When India was divided into Hindustan and Pakistan there was good opportunity for the Hindus and the state religion should have been declared Krishna Consciousness. In the name of secular state, the leaders are deliberately violating all the principles of India's original spiritual culture."
Prabhupada Letters :: 1969

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Srila Prabhupada's Letters

1969 March 16: "My Guru Maharaja put more stress on publishing books and magazines on Krishna Consciousness, and temple opening as a secondary consideration. It is more important to create devotees than to construct temples. Unless you have devotees, the temples will remain vacant."
Prabhupada Letters :: 1969

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Srila Prabhupada's Letters

1969 March 16: "So there is no more scarcity of anything - let us begin the job. We shall print at least four books yearly, and 50,000 magazines every month. We have now staff, editorial, printers, binders, and managers - and Krishna will be financier."
Prabhupada Letters :: 1969

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Srila Prabhupada's Letters

1970 March 16: "When the large Deities are installed, the small Deities should be worshiped as Vijaya Vigraha which means this pair of Deities may go outside the Temple with sankirtan party in a small car, not always, but conveniently. In due course of time, I shall let you know the details."
Prabhupada Letters :: 1970

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Srila Prabhupada's Letters

1971 March 16: "I am very glad you are carrying on your programs for spreading Krsna consciousness with great enthusiasm and good response. But we must not lose our own status of advancement in Krsna consciousness. Everything must be done very intelligently."
Prabhupada Letters :: 1971

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Srila Prabhupada's Letters

1974 March 16: "I am pleased you have been preaching and people are sympathetic. Our movement is unique, from all countries they are joining and becoming Vaisnavas by chanting Hare Krsna mantra, and refraining from the pillars of sinful activities. This was Lord Caitanya's desire."
Prabhupada Letters :: 1974

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Srila Prabhupada's Letters

1974 March 16: "Due to the mismanagement of the demon class, food is not available. The people are very disturbed. If we distribute prasadam to the hungry people of India, at our centers as well as in the villages, we will win over the whole country and the whole world."
Prabhupada Letters :: 1974

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Kirtans in Oxford, UK: Kirtan Mellows.

Friends of Oxford Kirtans - Jahnavi, Tulasi and Mark, were in Belgium last week for a whole weekend of kirtan, with chanters from all over the world. "Radhadesh Mellows" took place in a Belgian castle, near the Somme. The whole weekend was broadcast live on webcams and recordings from the weekend have now been podcasted on the Radhadesh website. Here is one of Jahnavi leading the chant: Radhadesh Mellows Day 1 , and there are many others to listen to: here.

24 hour kirtans and kirtan weekends are becoming popular - we hear of many of them around the place. We hope to persuade Jahnavi to write of her experiences with them; in the meantime, enjoy the kirtans!
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Yoga of Ecology, Bhakta Chris, USA: Indian Village May Hold Key To Beating Dementia

From BBC News

By Jane Hughes
Health correspondent, BBC News

Ballabgarh in northern India has unusually low levels of Alzheimer's disease. More than 820,000 people in the UK are living with dementia, a number that is expected to double by 2051. Is there anything that can be learnt from this region to slow the trend?

Men in Ballabgarh
Enjoying a chat, the elders are still on the ball

As the sun breaks through the morning mist in Ballabgarh, the elders of the village make their way to their regular meeting spot to exchange stories and share a traditional hookah pipe.

These men are in their sixties and seventies, while their faces bear the evidence of years of hard work in the fields, their minds are still sharp.

In other parts of the world, people of their age would be at some risk of developing dementia. But here, Alzheimer's disease is rare. In fact, scientists believe recorded rates of the condition in this small community are lower than anywhere else in the world.

76-year-old Parshadi Lal says: "I feel good, I feel healthy, I have a walk every morning, even though my knees do now give me a bit of trouble." His friends nod in agreement.

Record low rates

Researchers from the University of Pittsburgh spent several years studying over-55s in this area.

Map of Ballabgarh, Northern India

They tested more than 5,000 people for Alzheimer's disease, using screening processes designed to fit in with local culture, and relevant for people who could not read or write.

They wanted to be sure they did not miss any cases of the condition.

It is an area where people do not tend to live as long as they do in wealthier, more developed areas, so you would expect rates of Alzheimer's disease to be lower.

But even after the scientists factored in the lower life expectancy of people in this area, the rate of Alzheimer's disease was significantly below those in the UK - and less than a third of those in parts of the US.

"We had a hunch that rates here would be lower," says Dr Vijay Chandra, one of the study authors. In fact, they found what appeared to be among the lowest rates of the condition ever recorded by scientists.

So what is it about the people of Ballabgarh that is protecting them from a condition that affects about 36 million people worldwide?

Gene search

Dr Chandra told me they tested people to see whether fewer of them carried the APO4E gene, which predisposes people to Alzheimer's disease. They did not.

Ballabgarh Northern India
A farming community means everyone is physically active

When compared to people living in a community in Pennsylvania, US, they found almost exactly the same proportion carried the gene.

But in contrast with lives in Pennsylvania and other parts of the world, the people of Ballabgarh are unusually healthy. It is a farming community, so most of them are very physically active and most eat a low-fat, vegetarian diet. Obesity is virtually unheard of.

Life in this fertile farming community is also low in stress, and family support is still strong, unlike in other, more urban parts of India.

"It all leads to a happy body, and a happy mind and hopefully a happy brain," says Dr Chandra.

"Cholesterol levels here are much lower. We believe that is what is protecting the community."

Life in Ballabgarh could not be more different from the complicated, stressful existence many of us lead in the rest of the world. But perhaps this community has something to teach us.

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Kurma dasa, AU: Gone to India

Vrindavan, Uttar Pradesh:

I've left for the Great Subcontinent. Two weeks of spiritual recharge awaits. My son Nitai is accompanying me, and looking forward to re-visiting his place of birth, Sri Vrindavan, for the first time.

Mayapur, West Bengal:

I'm also spending some time in the Spiritual City of Sri Mayapur.

Divine Couple:

I won't be blogging while away; a serialised travel essay will bring you up to speed on my return. Thank's for your patience.

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Dandavats.com: Public Phone Call-In for Devotees

Sridevi dasi: FREE teleconference, which is to take place on Wednesday, March17th, 2010, at 7 PM EST. The topic is "How to Deal With Hidden Issues in Marriage," and the panelists are HG Tamohara Prabhu and HG Mantrini devi dasi.

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Dandavats.com: Siksa-Diksa True Then, True Now, True Tomorrow

Dhruva Maharaja dasa: Shortly after Srila Prabhupada's disappearance in 1977, several devotee friends and I underwent a focused study of his books with the resolute purpose of understanding Gaudiya Vaisnava siddhanta concerning Guru-Tattva.

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Japa Group: The Internal Or Spiritual Energy

Chanting Hare Krsna japa should be done by moving the tongue and lips, reciting audibly, and pronouncing the words. At least our sixteen rounds should be chanted in this way. Beyond this, if one can chant Hare Krsna at other times, it is good. Such chanting aloud should not be considered external. The sound vibration is part of the internal or spiritual energy. Not that because we chant aloud it is external, whereas quiet or silent or meditative chanting is internal. Lord Caitanya savored the external congregational chanting of kirtana, and even the japa is done aloud.

From Japa Reform Notebook by SDG
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Kaunteya das, Mayapura: New Generations – New Strategies

Nancy Gibbs recently wrote an article for Time magazine entitled "Generation Next".

She analyzes how today in the USA the generation gap is not as intensely felt or as intrinsically confrontational as it was in the '70s. Today's "Kids and parents dress alike, listen to the same music and fight less than previous generations." One sentence describing nowadays' youth – she calls them "millennials" – especially caught my attention: "They are . . . the least officially religious of any modern generation, and fully 1 in 4 has no religious affiliation at all. On the other hand, they are just as spiritual, just as likely to believe in miracles and hell and angels as earlier generations were. They pray about as much as their elders did when they were young—all of which suggests that they have not lost faith in God, only in the institutions that claim to speak for him."

Although she doesn't specifically mention it, I suspect that the present youths also tend to believe in reincarnation or at least be open to the concept. They are likely to have developed, through exposure to popular culture, the sense that the person and the body are different (if you think of it, the whole Avatar movie is explicitly based on the idea that the self is different from its body; and that consciousness can be transferred from a physical structure to another while maintaining identity and personality traits intact).

The data Nancy Gibbs reports impacts (or should impact) our way of thinking about propagation in a number of ways. First of all, how to propose Krishna consciousness and the Krishna consciousness movement to people who tend to shun organized religion?

(One might argue that we are so disorganized that we have nothing to worry about it – but that's another story.)

To me the fact that these youths pray to God – even though they do it at home and not in a church – opens up a whole horizon of opportunities; if that's what they do, we could have internet courses on how to pray at home (and what mantras they could use). We could advertize things like: "We know you believe in God but don't believe in those who claim to speak for him… Listen to him directly; read the Bhagavad-gita."

These young Americans might not gather in a place of worship but they seem to crave community even more than their predecessors; as Gibbs point out: "they learned to leverage technology to build community, tweeting and texting and friending . . . They are the most likely of any generation to think technology unites people rather than isolates them, that it is primarily a means of connection, not competition."

The internet, with its incarnations, its plenary and partial expansions, seems to be the place, the forum, the context to connect with them and to inform them about the wonders of the Lord (they are already praying to Him anyway), and about the matchless gifts bhakti-yoga bestows to the practitioner.

It also appears that some of their values are very much attuned with traditional, varnasrama ideals, "Asked about their life goals, 52% say being a good parent is most important to them, followed by having a successful marriage." We have the info on how to be the best parent one can be and we know what a really successful marriage looks like… It seems that these kids are just waiting for us.

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